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Marriage Separation

QUESTION: What does the Bible say about marriage separation?


The idea of marriage separation in the Bible is addressed by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife" (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

These commands of the LORD are given to the believers in the church at Corinth and to us by application. There are no mitigating circumstances here. It is an unspoken assumption that the believer will be able, with the aid of God's Word and His grace, to work out the problems that may occur in a marriage relationship without marriage separation and/or divorce. This is born out in the commandments to believers that we find regarding marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33 and Colossians 3:18-19. To the "rest" the Apostle Paul writes regarding a believer who may have an unbelieving spouse. The Apostle Paul makes the distinction here that it is not a commandment from the LORD but his own counsel. If that unbeliever is willing to live with the believer then they should stay together but it the unbelieving spouse wants to "leave" then the believer is to allow them to go and then the believer is not "bound" in those situations. The word "bound" comes from a root word that means to be a servant and denotes a permanent servile relationship. In other words, the believer is freed from the bonds of their marriage if the unbeliever wants to leave the relationship.

Learn More About Coping With Separation.

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We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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