They didn’t need another law on marriage

Did Paul teach on marriage? I was reading a paper about Paul written by a pastor, and I could see that the author was putting his own thoughts into his discussion about Paul. I guess we all do that. In fact, I suspect that we have put many words into Paul’s mouth that he did not mean. For instance, the pastor explains Paul’s teaching on marriage. He uses Romans 7:1-3 as an example and says this teaches that marriage is a commitment for life.

“Do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.”

Sounds like Paul is teaching on marriage, doesn’t it? But he is not, and to use it that way is a distortion of what Paul means. He is telling them they can find a new law in Jesus Christ, and so he uses the illustration of a marriage to make it clear.

These were people who knew the law, as Paul tells us in his opening words. They also knew about marriage. Paul is simply using the marriage laws that they all understood, to explain how they can find a new love (Christ, their Savior).

Paul is trying to help people understand that they can accept Jesus, who Paul tells them has come to replace the law, which Paul says is now dead. This was hard for them. He made the case, using their marriage laws, to show how they could live with the law, until that law is dead, and then you can choose another law, which Paul says is Jesus Christ.

Paul says this:

• in marriage a woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive

• if the husband dies she is no longer bound to him

• if she chooses a new husband before the old husband dies, she is in sin

• if she chooses a new husband after the old husband dies, she is not sinning

To mean this:

•you obeyed the old law until it died (was completed) with the coming of Jesus Christ

• if you had found a new law that replaced the old law, before Christ, you would be in sin

• since the old law is now dead, you can find (marry) a new law which is Christ (verse 4).

In Romans, Paul clarifies how they can serve Christ, and it is not about marriages at all.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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