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The Law and Gospel views on Christian marriage and divorce (8)

By John Moyubi Amoda
IN his teaching on the fact of canality Paul says he is speaking by permission not of commandment. The church is now in the realm of the resurrection and “…… in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the god of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22: 30-32).

There is the truth of the resurrection on one hand and the fact of carnality of Christians on the other hand. The truth must be taught while recognising the limitation of the carnal Christian.

Paul lives in the resurrection and knows all Christians should be as he is. But not all can live in the reality of the resurrection- as is evident among the Corinthians. Paul points out the truth and recommends a way out of the temptation of fornication. Marry!

But who are taking this way out- those who cannot contain their passion- who would rather marry and thus confirming their carnality and their choice to live in the flesh and not in the resurrection. Paul would like all men to be as he is, live the truth, be of the resurrection. The flesh is a harlot full of lusts and its works are evident.

“This I say then, walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Gal. 5: 16-18).

Corinthians that would marry to avoid fornication are being led by the flesh and are not well informed about the nature of the flesh. Paul on the one hand is urgent in his teaching against the sin of fornication.

“Flee fornication, every sin that a man doeth, is without the body, but he that committed fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own for ye are bought with a  price.

Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your Spirit, which are God’s- know ye not that your bodies  are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

What? Know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined  unto the Lord is one Spirit” (1Cor. 6: 18-20, 15- 17).

Fornication is spotlighted to show the consequences of choice in the matters of the flesh. The flesh in scripture is not the same as the body, but the self that is sold under sin and is an entity opposed to the spirit and that is hostile to God and that would not be subject to the will of God.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.  For it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8 :7-8).

The options available to the Christian

The choice for the Christian is between choosing to live in the flesh or to live in the spirit. And this issue is at the core of Paul’s letters on the marriage to the Corinthians.

Fornication is extreme expression of carnality for it is a choice to take the body that is redeemed by Christ and to join it to sin and thus becoming one flesh with sin. Is then the choice to marry to avoid the sin of fornication the Christian redemption choice?

Is the craving of the body, in this case sexual craving, the craving of the resurrected in Christ? It is not. But nevertheless “to avoid fornication let everyman have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”. Thus marriage prevents adultery as it protects against fornication.

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, let not  the wife depart from the husband. But if she depart, let her remain unmarried,  or be reconciled to her husband and let not the husband put away his wife”. (1Cor. 7:10-11).

Why is this command? Because sexual intimacy between husband and wife has made them flesh. They are one flesh and are no longer separate individuals.
Marriage undertaken to avoid fornication makes “two” one flesh; it is a bondage that is not destroyed by the physical separation. This is not the case with a believing husband and an unbelieving wife, and vice versa.

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him (or her) depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage  in such cases; but God hath called as to peace. (1Cor. 7:15).

The question of marriage and divorce therefore is a matter between a believing husband and a believing wife, between a brother  and a sister. The question that the Corinthian Church poses is that of brothers and sisters who are yet under the passion of the flesh, those who have professed faith in the redemption but are yet battling with sin.

The Corinthians did not fully understand the Gospel of Christ. They did not fully appreciate what the cross had done for mankind, both Jews and Gentiles. They did not know that the cross has made their bodies members of Christ and thus are united with Christ both  in death and in resurrection.

Not knowing that their bodies are the members of Christ, they did not know that joining themselves to the lusts of the flesh in marriage was not discerning the body of Christ.

The Corinthian males have two options in the bid to avoid the sin of fornication either to be joined to the wife to become one flesh, or to be joined to Christ to become one spirit with Christ and with one another.

The first option is the marriage under the law; the second is marriage through the cross.


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