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1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (NRSV)
To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believerhas a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.
Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
To be honest, the first time I read this passage, I zoned out. The words felt outdated in a time when divorce is common and circumcision is often more a medical decision than a religious one. But then I realized the underlying messages impact how I live my life every day.
My husband and I are different in a lot of ways. For one, he is very social and outgoing, while I tend to be more quiet and introverted. We balance each other. But we’ve both had times of struggle with our faith. This happened when family tragedy struck, or as we saw evil at work in the world. When one of us felt weak, the other became a rock in the storm—whether through a heartfelt conversation, recommending a reading, or just giving a wordless hug. Looking back, I recognize these as times when each of us has “saved” and “made holy” the other, as Paul instructs.
Our faith has endured crisis and struggle, transformed and in some ways stronger than before. Yet the core of who we are has not changed. Although we have many strengths (especially together), we also have flaws and insecurities, struggles and doubts. But I can be at peace because as Paul says, “whatever condition [we] were called… [we] remain with God.” I know we will continue to face obstacles throughout our life together. And when we do I will come back to these words.
Dear God, please grant us the strength to be a rock for others when they need it and the humility to ask for help when we have doubts. Thank you for loving us as we are, even as we strive to become more holy in you. Amen.