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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney


As we’ve been considering 1 Corinthians 7, we have seen that both singleness and marriage are gifts from God. Paul, now deals with the issue of marriages between a Christian and an unbeliever.

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. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)

There are reasons why one may be married to a non-believer: maybe you came to faith after marriage. Maybe your spouse has fallen away. Maybe you made a mistake! Whatever the circumstances for the marriage, a believer is not to initiate a divorce from their unbelieving spouse. We are to be faithful to that marriage which is God's gift to us.

It seems that some at Corinth felt that it was wrong to stay with an unbelieving spouse because they are unholy. Paul corrects them by teaching that ‘the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband…’ The marriage is holy - it’s pleasing to Him so must be honoured.

Paul now continues to teach on God’s will regarding divorce between a Christian and an unbeliever.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister 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 7:15-16)

If the non-believer initiates a divorce, the Christian is free to re-marry. However, it would be wrong to think that this is encouraging us to neglect a marriage with an unbelieving spouse. A believer must honour the covenant and seek to love them in the hope of bringing them to salvation. Your marriage is God’s gift!

Also, this is not sanctioning marriages between Christians and unbelievers. Later in the chapter, Paul will tell us,

‘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.’ (1 Corinthians 7:39)

You must not marry an unbeliever. Some people are shocked at this kind of teaching. However, If you want to live for Jesus wholeheartedly, you cannot do it if your spouse is not supporting you. Better to remain unmarried is it not? It’s so important that parents talk with their children regularly about God’s will regarding marriage and the need to seek a Christian spouse - Many fall away over this issue!

(Note: I’m aware that the contents of the messages and studies over the last few weeks could be challenging for some. Please do talk to a pastor in the church if you need support or have concerns).



1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


2. Icebreaker

Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?


3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians. This church has been infected by false teachers who are teaching that sexual sin is okay. Some, are also teaching that to refrain from sex in marriage is a good thing. Some are teaching that divorce is also fine.

Paul corrects them. He urges them to embrace and invest in the gift of marriage or singleness that God has given.


'The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.' (1 Corinthians 7:3)

He corrects those who are wrongly withholding sex from their spouse. He tells them that sex is a vital part of a healthy marriage (That's not to say that sickness and other good reasons may hamper our sex lives).


'I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.' (1 Corinthians 7:7)

He tells them that being single is a good thing and is a gift from God.


'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.' (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Paul corrects those who are taking on the Roman culture of easy divorce. A Christian must not initiate a divorce. We are to do all that we can to be reconciled with our spouse. This is about faith. Can we believe that Jesus can restore our broken marriages or not?

Divorce is a complex and painful subject. Please do talk to a pastor in the church if you need support or advice in your relationship.

Discussion questions

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) Let's pray for each other in the different relationships that we have.

iii) SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

iv) SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

vi) SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.

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