"Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned." 1 Corinthians 7:27-28a
In Jay E. Adams' Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, he argues:
There are several particulars regarding this passage that should be noted:
- The word translated "released" in both instances is the same word, luo.
- To be released from a wife in the second instance must mean what it does in the first or the intended contrast that is set up would be lost.
- It is plain that divorce is in view in both instances. Clearly, when Paul says that one must not seek to be released from a wife he doesn't mean by death! The release in view can mean only one thing—release by divorce. So too, the release in the second instance must refer to release from the bonds of marriage by divorce (N.B., to be "released" is the opposite of being "bound" to a wife).
- Paul allows for the remarriage of those released from marriage bonds (i.e., divorced) even in a time of severe persecution when marriage, in general, is discouraged (v. 28).
- And, to boot, he affirms that there is no sin in remarrying.
There are a lot of assumptions made here, as well as conclusions drawn on assumptions. First of all, the words in both instances are not the same. The first word is lusis (λυσις) [Strong's 3080] while the second word is luo (λυω) [Strong's 3089]. Regarding the second word, AMG's The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament says, "figuratively (Luke 13:16; 1 Cor 7:27, "Art thou free from a wife?" [a.t.] in antithesis with dedesai, bound, from deo , to bind; Sept.: Ps 105:20; 146:7)." Similarly, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says, "spoken of a single man, whether he has already had a wife or has not yet married, 1 Co. vii. 27." Notice, please, how it says a "single man." A divorced man is not single. According to the synoptic gospels, a divorced man is still married (Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18) because he is still bound to his wife (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). Deo (δεω) [Strong's 1210] is used in both Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39, and being the antithesis—direct opposite—to luo (λυω), it is highly unlikely that divorce is in view with 1 Corinthians 7:27-28a.
Second of all, Paul in no way allows for remarriage. To do so would be going against God. Anyone who says that Paul allows for divorce and remarriage is blind to the plain reading and truth of Scripture. Paul made it clear in verse 10 where God stands regarding divorce and remarriage. For Paul to go against God would be disobedience and rebellion. "But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord..." What was it that God said? "The wife should not divorce her husband (but if she does divorce, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife" (vv. 10-11). Why? Because "from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate" (Mark 10:6-9).
Last of all, Paul does not say there is no sin in remarrying; he says there is no sin in marrying. The single man who has never married before and the single man whose wife has passed away are both free to marry. A divorced man is not single because he is still bound to his wife, as expressed in the synoptic gospels (Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18). Even Paul says that the only dissolution to marriage is death (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).
When Christians fail to compare Scripture with Scripture in order to obtain the full counsel of the Word of God, they inevitably make errors in translation and application. Verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible cannot ignore context nor should it be done in isolation of related passages. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Adams is a godly man, but unfortunately he is in error on this issue. When Paul says what he says in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, obviously his words in verses 12-16 and 27-28 cannot contradict this. If those instructions came directly from God, which Paul is making abundantly clear is the case, then Paul's own words cannot and will not go against those of God.
Yes, the issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage is a complex and emotionally charged issue. Nevertheless, we must speak the truth regardless of others' feelings, opinions, and hardness of heart. If people understood the meaning and purpose of marriage to begin with, they would have a different outlook on it and divorce would never be an option. Divorce and remarriage are items that concern the selfish and self-centered who think only of themselves and think everything is all about their individual happiness. It has no thought of the spouse or of the children. Christians need to stop trying to pit Paul's words against those of God, turning Paul into a disobedient rebel. If your understanding of a passage contradicts the clear understanding of other passages, then you need to re-evaluate your understanding of that passage.