Not Under Bondage But Not Free To Remarry
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases…” (1 Cor. 7:15).
This Bible passage does not authorize divorce just because a spouse walks away from the marriage. “Bondage” in verse 15 is the Greek word douloo, defined as “to make a slave of, to bring into bondage” (Vine’s), “to enslave (literally or figuratively), bring into or be under bondage” (Strong’s), “to make a slave of, reduce to bondage” (Thayer’s).
Now, notice that Jesus gave one and only one reason for divorce, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committed adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). The Greek word for fornication is porneia, which is “illicit sexual activity” [any outside of marriage] (1 Cor.7:2; Heb. 13:4). Matthew 19:9 applies to all people living within the Christian age, in or outside of the church, just like “whosoever” in John 3:16 does. Matt. 19:9 is amendable to all people because Jesus reestablished marriage in creation before the Patriarch, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations. Observe the question: “…Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matt. 19:3): (1.) Jesus taught marriage and divorce from creation (vs.4-6). (2.) The Jews taught marriage from Moses (v.7). (3.) Jesus corrected them, “…but from the beginning (creation) it was no so. And I say unto, Whosoever…” (vs.8-9). Jesus was saying their view of marriage was not the way God intended it to be and even though God once tolerated it (v.8; Acts 14:16), he no longer would (Acts 17:30). The gospel commands all (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).
Positively, the only reason Jesus gave for getting a divorce was for the sexual unfaithfulness of the guilty spouse (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9). The innocent spouse can “put away/divorce” the guilty spouse and remarry, but the guilty spouse is “stuck-like-Chuck” unable to form another marriage as long as the innocent spouse lives (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). The guilty party must have the same exception as the innocent party to get out of their marriage which they don’t have. God joins eligible people together in marriage and no one has the authority to “put asunder” [end/terminate] the marriage but him (Matt. 19:6). Therefore, if a spouse walks away from their marriage, the remaining spouse is “not enslaved” by what they did but “is enslaved” to Christ commanded. “Except” in Matt. 19:9 means if and only. In other words, fornication must be the reason for divorce.
The marriage bond is found in 1 Corinthians 7:27,39 but it is not in verse 15. The Greek word “bound” in these passages is deo, meaning “to bind, be in bonds, knit, tie” (Strong’s), “to bind tie, to fasten, fasten with chains, to be bound to one, a wife, a husband” (Thayer’s), “to bind, literally of any sort of binding” (Vine’s). “Deo” is always used for the marriage bond whereas “douloo” which simply means not being under obligation is never used for the marriage bond.
Conclusion: God wants people to remain faithful to their marriage vows (Eccl. 5:2-7). Fornication is the only reason for divorce.