1 Corinthians 7:10-24

10     And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11     But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12     But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13     And the woman which has a husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14     For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15     But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.

16     For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

17     But as God has distributed to every man, as the Lord has called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

18     Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19     Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20     Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21     Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou may be made free, use it rather.

22     For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

23     Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24     Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Some argue that the passage in 1 Corinthians 7:15 (“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”) gives desertion as another just cause for divorce.


The argument that 1 Corinthians 7:15 permits divorce for the cause of desertion is based on the phrase “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”  They say that “bondage” is the marriage bond.

Their whole case is based on this assumption, for if “bondage” here is not referring to the marriage bond, then there is absolutely nothing in this or any other verse in the New Testament which gives desertion or anything other than fornication as a scriptural cause for divorce.

The Greek word, translated “bondage” here, is Strong’s 1402, douloo (doo-lo’-o); from NT: 1401; to enslave (literally or figuratively): KJV – bring into (be under) bondage, given, become (make) servant. It is used 7 other times in the New Testament besides 1 Corinthians 7:15.  It never is used to describe marriage.  It is used to refer to literal bondage (slavery) in Acts 7:6.  It is used to describe being a slave to God (Rom. 6:22), to men for the gospel’s sake (1 Cor. 9:19), and to righteousness (Rom. 6:18).  Conversely, it is used to describe being a slave to corruption (2 Pet. 2:19), under “the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3), and to wine (Titus 2:3).

The context of the “bondage” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not the marriage bond itself.  The context of “bondage” in this passage is established in verses 1-5 where the one who has power over his or her body is his or her spouse.  If someone has power over your body, you are under “bondage.”  This bondage refers to one’s marital rights.  It is sinful and it is defrauding, to deny someone their marital rights.

But what if your spouse leaves you?  How can you obey the commandment given in verse 3 to render to your spouse “due benevolence” and the command in verse 5 not to defraud your spouse if your spouse leaves you?  That is the question which is answered in verse 15.  That is the context of “bondage” in verse 15.  If the unbelieving spouse departs, the innocent Christian is not under “bondage” in such a case.  That is, God will not hold him or her guilty of not rendering due benevolence to their departed spouse.  Again, this does not refer to the marriage bond.  Therefore, God does not sanction divorce and remarriage on the grounds of desertion by using the word “bondage” in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Thus, the entire manufactured basis of the false doctrine that desertion is scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage has collapsed.  Therefore, the doctrine itself is exposed as false and it has collapsed.

Furthermore, the scripture cannot contradict or teach differently than another scripture (1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Tim. 2:13).

We must conclude: when Jesus gives only one just cause for divorce, nobody can add a second, or third, etc., including desertion (Pro. 30:5-6; Rev 22:18-19).

1 Corinthians 7:10-14 absolutely reaffirms Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:9.  Verse 11 sums it up the options which a married person has who is separated from their mate, but their mate has not committed adultery: they may 1) remain unmarried, or 2) be reconciled with their mate.  Divorce is not an option.  Verse 15 is not going to suddenly undo all that the 5 preceding verses just established.

Some argue in favor of what they call the “Pauline privilege, which is (according to this doctrine), that the one who becomes a Christian can remain in whatsoever marital state they were called).


Keep one fact firmly fixed in your mind; one scripture cannot or will not contradict another.

The “states” described here are states that one cannot help or control. They do not include states of behavior.  In fact, it is plainly explained that it is the “commandments of God” which counts in contrast to circumcision, uncircumcision, being in bondage or being free.

If 1 Corinthians 7:20, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called,” includes states of behavior, does it only apply to certain states of behavior (such as those living in adultery) but not to others?  If someone is called as a serial killer, can he (or—to be truly accurate—must he) remain a serial killer?  What’s the difference?  It’s the same ridiculous logic!

Some argue that “1 Cor. 7:11 testifies that God recognizes that the wife who has left her husband and departed is recognized as “unmarried,” which would naturally mean that God recognizes she is “divorced.”


This argument is based in the word ‘unmarried,’ assuming that the command to ‘remain unmarried’ means that the woman is no longer married and should remain ‘unmarried’ until she is reconciled with her husband.

First, IF the word ‘unmarried’ means she is no longer married to her first husband (which means that the marriage bond has been broken), then how can they reconcile the fact that in the same verse the ‘unmarried’ woman still has a husband?  The command is that she is to be reconciled to her husband, which obviously means she still has a husband.

Second, if the woman is ‘unmarried’ to her first husband, they two joined together again they would have to be remarried.  However, the command to the ‘unmarried’ woman is to be “reconciled” to her husband, not remarried to her husband.  If the woman is truly not married to her first husband, she would have to remarry, not just be reconciled.

The only possible meaning of “unmarried” if the scriptures are consistent (which they are), is that she must remain unmarried any other man.  Thus, “let her remain unmarried” must be understood as “let her remain unmarried” to any other man.

If the command is to “remain unmarried” from her first husband, how could she obey both commandments?  How could we ‘remain unmarried’ and yet be reconciled to her husband?  Is she to be reconciled to her husband but ‘remain unmarried’ to her husband?  That would make no sense at all.  The only possible understanding is that she must ‘remain unmarried’ to any other man, which would make it possible for her to be reconciled to her husband.


What about a put away party that did not commit adultery?  Say a woman commits adultery and divorces her husband (who did not commit adultery), can the man who was put away, although he did not commit adultery, remarry and please God?  Just asking to see where you stand…


Matthew 5:32—But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife (the innocent party-BJ), saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced (the one put away for the wrong reason and not by choice-BJ) committeth adultery.

Even though the gender is switched here, I see this as assuming the innocent party would marry when he/she was put away.  If the marriage bond that God made is not broken for the right reason, neither party has a right to remarry.

I feel sure Matthew 5:32 is meant to be a stern warning to the ones doing the putting away.  “Hey!  Look at this!  You are not only going to go to hell yourself, but you are causing an innocent person (maybe even four if they both marry again) to go with you.”  It would be equivalent to having “hands that shed innocent blood.”  They will be held more accountable than one who simply sinned by himself.


  • Though physical abuse is not cause for divorce, God does not require someone to live in a situation in which they are in physical danger (Pro. 22:3; 27:12).  However, consider that the marriage bond is not broken and therefore neither party has a right to marry anyone else.
  • The fact that so many people have divorced and remarried unscripturally does not lessen God’s definition and judgment of sin and His requirements for repentance (Ezra 10:10-14).
  • Someone who denies the partner their marital rights cannot be regarded as innocent if their partner commits fornication.  They are not free to remarry.  1 Corinthians 7:2-5 commands husbands and wives not to deny their mates.  If they do, they are guilty of defrauding.  According to Matthew 5:32, one who defrauds one’s mate, such as by putting them away, is responsible for causing them to commit adultery (though that doesn’t excuse the partner if they do commit fornication).  They bear part of the responsibility for their mate’s sin and, therefore, they do not have the scriptural right to divorce their wife or husband for something they are in large part responsible for.  They have no scriptural right to remarry.
  • Similarly, one who entices, forces, beguiles, traps, encourages, etc. their spouse to commit fornication in any way is guilty and has no scriptural right to divorce and remarry.
  • Those who remain in an unscriptural marriage and never repent of it will go to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8).  These souls need to be dealt with according to 1 Cor. 5:1, 4-6, 11.  Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?