No divorce for the unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12)

“To the rest,

I say,

Not the Lord,

That if any brother

Has a wife

Who is an unbeliever,

And she consents

To live with him,

He should not divorce her.”

τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς λέγω ἐγώ, οὐχ ὁ Κύριος· εἴ τις ἀδελφὸς γυναῖκα ἔχει ἄπιστον, καὶ αὕτη συνευδοκεῖ οἰκεῖν μετ’ αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἀφιέτω αὐτήν·

Paul said to the rest (τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς λέγω ἐγώ), not the Lord (οὐχ ὁ Κύριος), that if any believing brother (εἴ τις ἀδελφὸς) has a wife (γυναῖκα ἔχει) who is an unbeliever (ἄπιστον), but she consents (καὶ αὕτη συνευδοκεῖ) to live with him (οἰκεῖν μετ’ αὐτοῦ), he should not divorce her (μὴ ἀφιέτω αὐτήν).  Only the Pauline letters used this word οἰκεῖν, that means to inhabit or to dwell with.  Now Paul gave some pastoral advice that was not directly from the Lord Jesus Christ.  This was the problem about mixed marriages.  If a believing Christian man was married to an unbelieving or pagan woman, should he divorce her?  Paul responded by saying no, that as long as she consented to live and stay with the believing brother, he should not send her away or divorce her.  Paul seems to give implicit consent to marriages between Christians and people with other non-Christian beliefs.  Perhaps he thought a conversion of the non-Christian to a Christian belief was possible.  Are mixed religious marriages a good idea?

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