Analysis of 1 Corinthians 7:10-11

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.


Paul speaks on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7.  He offers advice for single people, married people, divorced people, and widows.  In these verses he is simply repeating the teaching of Jesus concerning divorce.

A person should not seek a divorce.  If they do get divorced, they are to remain unmarried or else return to their spouse.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment.  However when a spouse passes away, that commitment is broken and a person is free to remarry.  Remarrying after a spouse’s death is not a break of the marriage covenant.

Other passages concerning divorce

Malachi 2:13-16

Matthew 19:1-12

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Wife?

Proverbs 31:10-31 lists the qualities that a man should look for in a wife.  These qualities are ideals and the perfect wife or husband doesn’t really exist.  Nevertheless these are qualities all Christian women should strive for and men should desire in a wife.

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.”

This is the beginning of the passage in Proverbs and it relays the difficulty in finding the right spouse.  A person of noble character is one who seeks what God wants for their life and shuns evil.

A wife of noble character takes care of her family.  She is a hard worker who is not afraid of doing the dirty work.  But she also doesn’t pick up the slack for her husband.  He works hard to support the family as well.

She is able to give out thoughtful advice to her children.  Her children recognize her wisdom and do not despise it when she corrects them.

She may be a beautiful woman but she does not trust in her beauty because she realizes that it will fade with time.  Instead she puts her trust in the Lord.

Other people will recognize the virtues of a wife of noble character.  They will take note of how she loves her husband and cares for her children.  They will not be able to escape the fact that her husband is able to trust her in all of his affairs.

Obviously some of these qualities can’t be observed until a person is actually married but there will still be evidence of them before marriage.  These are the qualities that a man should desire when they are looking for a wife.

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Husband?

A wife has a whole list of qualities that she should strive for as they are listed in Proverbs 31.  A man has only one thing that he must do in order to be a good husband but his job is far more impossible than the one expected of a good wife.

Ephesians 5 gives us instructions on how a marriage should properly work.  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The love of Christ is self sacrificial.  It gives up a person’s own will for the good of another.  We may be capable of doing this for short periods of time, occasionally doing what someone else wants, but we aren’t capable of doing it all of the time.

For a husband to love his wife the way Christ loves the church, he must protect her physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  He must protect her even at the expense of his own well being.

The love of Christ gives us a vague notion of being an immense love, but we must remember that Christ died for the church.  A husband should love his wife enough to give up his life for her.  This could be literal but in practice it means that he doesn’t hang out with his friends as much any more.  It could mean that he cuts back on his personal spending in order to afford raising a family.

A woman should look for a husband who is willing to give up his old life in order to start a new one in love with her.  This is the greatest quality that a woman should look for in a husband.

What is the Purpose of Dating?

In “Is Dating Biblical?” we discuss some of the unbiblical reasons that a person may be dating.  Despite the negative reasons that a person may be dating, there is a biblical purpose behind it.

The main purpose of dating is to find a person that we’re compatible with and to marry them.  This may seem too simple but the concept is lost on many people.

In a perfect world where everyone followed the will of God, compatibility wouldn’t be an issue.  Disagreements would be settled civilly and husbands and wives would love each other unconditionally.  It wouldn’t matter if spouses had different opinions because they would seek peace and compromise.

Unfortunately we live in a sinful world and differences in personality mean a lot about compatibility.  Because of this we need to know if the man or woman we’re dating is “the one.”

Dating should be used to get to know a person and to determine if you can spend your lifetime with that person.  If you already know that the answer is no because you disagree on religion or how to raise a family, end the relationship.  Dating a person who is not spouse material will lead down one of two roads.  It either prolongs a relationship that isn’t meant to be and causes a breakup to be more hurtful because of all the time spent together.  Or it will end in marriage because everyone expects it after a long enough period of time and you will overlook the problems that have existed in the relationship all along.  Those problems will become amplified in marriage.

Dating should be fun and relaxed but it has a serious side to it as well.  If you’re serious about finding the right person, ask that God would eliminate the wrong people for you.  The reason for this is simple.  Every person you meet and are interested in is going to have good qualities that you’ll focus on.  In the first weeks or months all you’ll notice is the good qualities and think that this is the perfect person for you.  And so will the next person and the next person.  If you ask God for wisdom, He will show you the qualities that you don’t want in a spouse and you will know a person isn’t for you.  Unfortunately it is much easier to spot those who aren’t meant for you than the one who is.  The sooner you stop dating a person who isn’t meant for you, the sooner you can move on to the right person for you however.

Is Dating Biblical?

In 1997 Joshua Harris released a book titled “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”  The premise was not that dating was bad but that there were better options than the frustrations of dating.

Dating as we know it doesn’t appear in the Bible.  But neither do cars, computers, or televisions.  So to simply say that people didn’t date in the Bible doesn’t make the idea of dating unbiblical.

Dating is a very recent idea compared to the history of man.  It wasn’t until the automobile in the early 1900’s that dating became popular or even really possible.  This allowed people to get away from their parents and get to know a person on a different level than before.

So the question of whether dating was in the Bible doesn’t answer the question of whether dating is in line with biblical principles.  For that we have to ask the question, “Why is a person dating?”  The motives behind dating tell us whether or not dating is biblical.  In the end, dating can be both biblical and unbiblical.  In “What is the purpose of dating?” we will discuss the biblical reason a person should date.  Here we will discuss some unbiblical reasons for dating.

For many people, dating has become equated with sex.  People hang out at bars looking for one night stands and ultimately someone to hook up with for a while.  There is no sense of commitment and a person won’t enter that phase until later when they are ready to “settle down.”  Sex outside of marriage is outside of God’s plan and should be avoided.  If this is the reason for dating, it shouldn’t be considered biblical.

Another reason people date is for a sense of conquest.  For many this is a sexual thing as mentioned above.  However for others it is a sense of pride.  A person derives self worth by their ability to find someone to date.  And the more attractive a date they can find, the better they feel about themselves.  We aren’t to derive our self worth from who we date but from God.  We are created in the image of God and therefore it doesn’t matter if others find us attractive or not.

These reasons aside, there is a good reason for dating that can be backed up with biblical principles.  This is discussed in “What is the purpose of dating?

Should I Date a Non-Christian?

The answer to whether a person should date a non-Christian is closely related to the purpose of dating.  That is discussed in another article so we’ll just summarize it here.

The goal of dating should be to find someone who is suitable to marry.  If a person is not suitable to marry, then no time should be invested in dating them.

So then the question becomes if a Christian should marry an non-Christian.  This article discusses biblical reasons why a Christian should not marry an unbeliever.

Many people do not take dating seriously and therefore if they date a non-Christian isn’t a big deal to them.  Some even view dating a non-Christian as a way of evangelizing and getting a person into church.  This is known as missionary dating.

The problem with missionary dating is its low success rate and high potential for dangerous repercussions.  The pitfalls are the same whether a person is actively trying to win their boyfriend or girlfriend to Christ, or if they are just dating for fun.

There are some success stories of people who were brought to Christ through the work of the person they were dating.  But for every success story, there is a hundred or even a thousand stories of Christians who were pulled away from Christ because of who they were dating.  Sometimes it is temporary, other times it is permanent.

The truth is it is far easier to lower one’s standards than it is to raise them.  A good illustration is that of a Christian standing on a chair.  As they reach out to an unbeliever standing on the floor, they do all they can to pull them up onto the chair.  It is hard work and often fails.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much effort at all for the non-Christian to pull the Christian off balance.  A slight tip in the wrong direction and the Christian can be sent tumbling without the non-Christian even intending to do so.

Dating is not the same as marriage but a lot of the same rules apply.  What is most influential is the amount of time people spend together.  Because of this, many of the same biblical reasons for not marrying an unbeliever apply to dating an unbeliever.  For the biblical reasons against marrying a non-Christian see the article, “Can I Marry an Unbeliever?

When Should I Get Married?

There is no set age that is appropriate for marriage.  Much of the discussion comes down to the maturity of the two people who are considering marriage as well as what is acceptable culturally.

Genesis tells us that Isaac was 40 years old when his father Abraham sent his servant in search of a wife for him.  Rebekah was likely much younger than this when she married Isaac.

No ages are ever given for Mary and Joseph but many biblical scholars believe that Mary was young, most likely a teenager when she gave birth to Jesus.

Young teenagers are physically able to have children and start a family at the time of puberty.  This does not mean that they are mentally or emotionally ready for marriage.  When life spans were only 35-40 years people married younger out of necessity.  They did not have the luxury of waiting until their late 20’s or 30’s to begin having children if they wished to see them grow into adults.

Still today, women have a short time when they are capable of having children and if a woman wants children, this will certainly influence when they get married.  Guys do not have such an issue and this may be one reason why they typically are not interested in settling down until later than women.

There are other factors that influence when a person should get married that have nothing to do with the Bible.  First of all is the legal issue.  In many places a person can’t get married without parental permission until they are 19 years old.

Education is another factor to consider when getting married.  In earlier times when most women were content to be stay at home moms, education wasn’t a priority.  Today many women are going to college and pursuing careers.  This is a matter of choice and is neither good nor bad.  Each person needs to decide what their priority is.

Still another factor that must be considered before getting married is financial stability.  In a traditional marriage, the man was older and more established and therefore able to take care of his wife before he got married.  There were also far fewer things that required money.  Not long ago a person was expected to provide a home and food for the family.  Anything leftover after this was a bonus.

Today in addition to the basic needs of life, there are several more bills for things that most people can no longer live without.  Cell phones, cable tv, and high speed internet quickly cost a couple hundred dollars a month.  This is in addition to paying off high student loans that many people did not have to deal with a generation ago.

In short, there is no acceptable time to get married aside from once it is legal to do so.  The right time will depend greatly upon the couple and their goals in life.  Marriage is a major commitment and should not be rushed into.  Only after much prayer and consideration should a couple think about marriage, regardless of their age.

Can I Marry an Unbeliever?

Paul offers a blunt assessment of marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Paul does not go as far as to call it sin, but nevertheless this could be considered a command not to do so.  The reason is simple –  a Christian and non-Christian do not have much in common.  They may share similar interests, family backgrounds, and even philosophies on raising children, but their faith in Christ should be first and foremost.

Marriage to an unbeliever is like playing with fire and the believer will get burned.  Although Paul stops short of calling this sin, he knows that it will lead to compromises within the marriage and that will cause sin.  He has the entire history of Israel to back up his thoughts.

As the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were told to rid the land of all of the foreigners because of their idolatry.  This sounds cruel and barbaric but God knew what the outcome would be if they remained.  Instead, the Israelites signed peace treaties with some of the people.  Soon the Israelites had intermarried with them and some had begun to worship their idols.

Solomon, the wisest man ever, fell victim to the allure of idols because of his foreign wives.  Even though he constructed the magnificent temple of God, he built temples to foreign gods that his wives worshipped.  They led him astray and despite his wisdom, he couldn’t tell them no.

Nehemiah reacts violently when he hears of intermarriage among the Israelites and reminds them of Solomon’s troubles.  Nehemiah 13:25-27 tells the story.

25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. 27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”

Nehemiah took what was going on very seriously. So should every Christian.  Marriage to an unbeliever is asking for trouble.  They may seem kind and there may be hope of winning them to Christ but it should be avoided.

The issue of marriage to an unbeliever comes down to love.  Will the love for God be most important in a Christian’s life, or will the love for an unbeliever be most important?

Should the Man Be Head of the Family?

Few things get liberal minded people upset more than the topic of wives submitting to their husbands.  While this thought is attacked as being outdated and unenlightened, it is anything but this.  Submission is an idea that is greatly misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike.

While most people take the submission of wives out of context, Paul writes much more than what is commonly repeated in Ephesians 5:22-25.

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Many people fear that submission means that the wife quietly does as the husband says and has no say in the affairs of marriage or the family.  This could not be further from the truth however.  Lost in the repulsive idea of women submitting is verse 25 that calls for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

It is a far greater task for a husband to display the love of Christ than it is for a woman to submit to her husband.  This is far more than saying “I love you” and displaying some affection for one’s wife.  Christ gave all He had for the church, even to the point of sacrificing His life.  This is the kind of love that husband are told to have for their wives.

This means that a husband is not self seeking in anything that he asks of his wife.  Instead, everything that he does is for the good of his wife.  He sacrifices his own preferences, pleasure, and even well being for his wife’s benefit.

With this is mind, the idea of submission does not sound nearly as bad.  A truly loving husband is not going to request anything of his wife that will harm her in any way.  Instead, what he requests is for his wife’s benefit.

When a husband has consistently shown that he is looking out for his wife, what he requests will not be hard to follow.  Submission is easy when a wife trusts her husband and knows that it is for her good.

Is it ok to Break an Engagement?

Breaking up is difficult.  It’s supposed to be that way because there should be some sort of bond in a relationship or else it wasn’t much of a relationship to begin with.  So obviously breaking an engagement is a hundred times more difficult.

It is not only ok to break an engagement, it is often a smart and necessary thing to do.  And it happens far more often than most people realize.  Approximately 20% of all engagements are broken before the wedding.  Judging by the 50% divorce rate, many more engagements should have been broken.

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she was engaged to be married to Joseph.  At that time an engagement was a binding contract and to break the engagement Joseph would have had to divorce her as he contemplated doing before Gabriel spoke to him.  There is no such binding agreement with an engagement today.

Even if a couple has had sex in anticipation that they would be married, this should not be reason to get married.  While sex before marriage is a mistake, it should not be compounded by going into a bad marriage that will likely end in divorce.

Breaking off an engagement should not be taken lightly.  It becomes increasingly complicated as wedding plans are made.  But if there are problems in a relationship before marriage, those problems will not be solved by getting married.  Instead those problems will only become amplified as a couple shares every aspect of their lives together.

Every effort should be made to reconcile problems in a relationship before breaking off an engagement.  If you are able resolve your issues you’ll learn valuable problem solving skills that will help you in your marriage.  Every relationship will have problems, so just because there is a disagreement in your relationship, it doesn’t mean that your future marriage is doomed.  But you should never ignore problems and just assume that they’ll go away.  They won’t.

No relationship is perfect but if things can’t be reconciled, the worst mistake that can be made is to drag those problems into a marriage.  Breaking off an engagement is a difficult thing to do but it will save a lot more heartache in the future.