Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk And so I direct in all the churches.1 Corinthians 7:17(NASB)
Some important issues about marriage and its wider implication are considered in this chapter, and Paul answers many questions that are often raised in connection with marriage, and gives some important guidelines to believers.
In a detailed discourse on Christian relationships, Paul addresses the issues of marriage to unsaved partners, parents of young women of marriageable age, the responsibilities within marriage, and the question of single Christians, together with celibacy and spirituality.
Depending on one's personal biases, chosen churchmanship, denominational leanings, and individual circumstances, this passage is often interpreted in a way that leans towards a person's particular prejudices. However, Paul is giving spiritual advice, rather than issuing a firm command.
Christians are not to be united with unbelievers in marriage, but are to be married in the Lord. However, he recognises that a problem arises if someone is saved after having married an unbeliever. Should they stay or leave? Should they remain or get a divorce, and what about their children?
Paul gives a variety of answers on certain issues and suggests alternatives depending on each individual circumstance. Depending on the attitude and desires of the remaining, unsaved partner in such a marriage causes Paul to make a number of recommendations and suggestions.
In short, Paul's broad instruction to newly saved Christians is not to immediately remove oneself from marriage to an unbeliever, but wherever possible to remain, and pray that the Lord might use the relationship to work out His plans and purposes in both their lives in His time, in His way, and for His greater glory.
Remaining with an unbelieving spouse can often be a great concern for new Christians who find themselves wonderfully saved yet 'trapped' in a marriage with someone who remains unsaved and who often become hostile to their partner's newfound faith. Paul's wise advice is not to react too quickly, but to remain married, live godly in Christ Jesus, and allow the Lord to work out His plan in the midst of such a relationship.
Naturally, being wed to an unbeliever can also cause significant clashes of interest and become seriously destructive within a marriage, and this is an issue that Paul deals with, later on in the chapter.
But Paul is calling each believer to walk in accordance with the gifts and graces that have been given them in Christ Jesus, to live one's Christian life in the way the Lord has called them to live, knowing that each person is accountable for his or her own choices and individual conduct.
As believers, we are all accountable to the Lord and will one day stand before Him to give an account of the way we conducted ourselves, within our marriages and in our wider relationships. May we seek to walk in the way God has assigned to each of us, to the honour and glory of His holy name.
Heavenly Father, thank You for my life and for the gifts and graces that have been given me from above. May I walk in a way that honours You in my marriage, my home, and my church family. May I conduct myself well in the situation to which You have assigned me. And may my choices in life be wise and honourable, as I become increasingly conformed into Christ’s image and likeness. I pray that others will begin to see Jesus in me, to the glory of His name. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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