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Are You Loosed? – 1 Corinthians 7:25-28

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. (ESV)

Verse 27 has often been used to teach that it is okay to get divorced, with verse 28 being used to show that the divorced can remarry. But this verse cannot be used in this fashion. First, to understand Paul to be saying that the divorced can remarry when he commanded in verses 10-11 for the divorced to “remain unmarried or be reconciled.” We cannot interpret the scriptures in a way that would cause Paul to contradict himself. Second, the phrase “are you free from a wife” cannot be referring to the divorced because in verse 25 Paul stated that he is speaking to the virgins (or betrothed). The divorced cannot also be virgins. Paul is writing to be people who have never been married before.

Therefore, when Paul asks the question: “are you bound to a wife” he is talking to the currently engaged (betrothed) and instructing them not to end their betrothal (“do not seek to be free”). Paul then speaks to those who are not betrothed (“are you free from a wife”) and instructs them not to become betrothed. However, it is not a sin to get betrothed, but Paul is trying to spare these unmarried virgins from worldly troubles (vs. 28).

To use this passage to teach that the divorced can remarry is to misuse the scriptures and cause Paul to contradict his previous teaching in verses 10-11.