Romans 7 Is Divorce Okay?

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Is Divorce Okay?

As I rode in to Moody with my wife I read her the seventh chapter of Romans in its entirety.  I paused after I finished to see what deep spiritual truth she would hone in on, but her first question surprised me.  “So, is it okay for people to get divorced?”  I thought that our marriage had been going well, so I was a little concerned that this was a leading question.  I said that I thought Paul’s illustration in the passage was a straightforward one.  It was not about whether a person should never get remarried, but it was whether a person can be married and then at the same time carry on with someone else.  Paul’s illustration is just that to be released from the bond of law someone needs to die.  So maybe my wife was preparing me for an untimely death.

I do think that popular views of marriage today – that marriage is for personal enrichment or fulfillment – lead to more prevalent divorce.  I think that the Bible allows for divorce, especially in the case of sexual unfaithfulness.  In those cases, I think that the Bible allows for remarriage, but people that I respect disagree with me.  The primary concern. though, is not marriage and remarriage but holiness.  What path are we on?

The Romans 7 passage presents two paths.  One leads to death and we have to die to leave it.  The other leads to life and we live in Christ to experience it.

Prayer

Father, may my marriage and my life serve you.  May I walk with you in ways that are worthy of your calling.

Questions

  1. What does this passage say about marriage and death?
  2. Why does Paul make this point about marriage and death?
  3. What is the role of life and death in the writing of Paul?
  4. What laws still hold you in chains?
  5. How are you free in Christ?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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