What if a BELIEVING Spouse Leaves?

Peaceby Standerinfamilycourt

For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.   The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
–  Romans 16:19-20

Would the Apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:15 really be the same to the immorally-abandoned spouse of a backslidden believer as he gave to the abandoned spouse of an unbeliever who departs?

What is happening in the apostate church today is causing a contagion that goes a bit beyond what Paul spoke of in in his first epistle to the Corinthians.    No leader in the 1st thru 15th century church, outside of the rogue papacy of the Middle Ages who occasionally offered the indulgence of “annulment” (from the inception of that abominable heresy in the late 12th century), would have tolerated divorce and remarriage without excommunicating the guilty party and refusing to sanction any subsequent “marriage” of either partner.    We know this from the very consistent writings of the early church fathers in those centuries.  Hence, when Paul spoke of the (Greek: apistos “one who is unconvinced“) , contextually, he was speaking of the spouse of a relatively recent convert who was suffering the persecution from their one-flesh who “didn’t sign up for” a life of discipleship, and emotionally could not live under the same roof with the strong conviction that  this event invariably introduced into the home.    The purpose of allowing the unbeliever to depart while walking in our own tranquility was  (1) to allow refocus on discipleship without guilt or double-mindedness, and
(2) for God’s mercy and the supernatural power of the one-flesh bond to draw the agnostic into the kingdom of God through the built-in sanctification process in their mate.    All of the above presumed a pure, uncorrupted church body and godly leadership, such as prevailed in the 1st century church, into which Paul was speaking.

By sharp contrast, the apostate church of today is literally fueling the demand for rampant unilateral divorce and adulterous remarriage among professed believers by performing wicked, vain ceremonies over the already-married-for-life, by counseling those “married” to someone else’s God-joined spouse to remain in those adulterous unions lest they commit a “repeat sin”, by refusing to warn the adulterously-remarried that dying in that ongoing immoral state will send them to hell,  by handing pulpits over to pastors who are themselves adulterously “remarried”, and by steering people into unbiblical DivorceCare classes if satan attacks their holy matrimony union.    This has created an epidemic of “believers” departing in almost every church, with only a temporary (at best) rebuke from leadership– usually only until such time as the immoral relationship is legalized under man’s law.

Toxic Calvinism has added further fuel to the fire by claiming (often falsely) that the abandoning spouse “wasn’t born-again to begin with“,  and results in further hindering, due to the “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) heresy, the warning of hell that backslidden spouses are ethically owed by church leadership.     Who today is still publicly rebuking  Tulian Tchividjian or Kent Hovind,  as they were only a year or two ago?    Will the current furor die down in Christian alternative media when Greg Locke “marries” another man’s covenant wife and charges forward in his “ministry” as though he is not apostate before the Lord?     Does anyone even remember that John Hagee and Jim Bakker have done so for decades without rebuke?     Or that Benny Hinn and Charles Stanley, by the grace of God, both narrowly escaped falling into this apostasy?    Paul surely prophesied of an apostate latter-day church, but he left a strong prescription for cleaning out the old leaven.   Today’s wolves leave the leaven of the Pharisees undisturbed, and instead claim (temporarily, it seems) that none of these gentlemen were ever born again.    Will we allow them to say the same about our one-flesh partner, if we know differently?    Is that not damnable slander?

Do we spouses owe our deceived but born-again one-flesh mate who is running from God this warning of hell, if we know they won’t hear it anywhere else?    After all, the primary reason the unbelieving marital abandoner is going to hell is because they have never surrendered their life to Christ, not their ongoing state of legalized adultery.   They cannot possibly digest a hell message tied to holy matrimony until, and probably for some time after,  that eternally-crucial event occurs.   However, with regard to the one irreversibly indwelt with the Holy Spirt,  does such a warning constitute “striving” and “not allowing them to depart”, such as Paul envisioned?    Is such a warning to them from us failing to promote “living in peace”, in disobedience to Paul’s instructions?  Further, is challenging in court, or refusing to sign, an unconstitutional unilateral divorce petition which violates our precious 1st amendment protections also a failure to “allow the unbeliever to depart” in God’s eyes, or is it our holy witness of loving our enemy as we ourselves would want to be loved?    Is God at all offended by our earnest, eternally-motivated prayers to pull the immoral union apart for the sake of all the souls involved?

By way of illustration, in the state of Illinois the combined fault-based / “no-fault” petition in effect in 2012 (later changed by the legislature in 2015)  listed these “irreconcilable differences” assertions by the Petitioner:

  • That the spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous period in excess of 2 years
  • Irreconcilable differences  have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  • Good faith efforts at reconciliation have failed
  • Future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family

When no part of these four statements are true for the Christ-follower who believes in the holy will and power of God toward covenant spouses, whom His hand has personally joined and with whom He covenants until physical death,  if that Christ-follower is the “Respondent”, they had at that time only three options, only two of which would be according to their conscience:

(1) Perjure themselves by signing off their assent under oath in order to avoid a humiliating and expensive civil grounds trial

(2) Not respond  to the petition  at all, including not engaging counsel, and accept a default judgment

(3) Deny the false allegations and prepare to bring hard evidence into “family court” to attempt to disprove the allegations.

Due to lack of resources to carry off option (3), many standers would choose option (2), or worse, option (1).     “Standerinfamilycourt” chose option (3) and was blessed to have  been provided the resources necessary to do so.     Needless to say, this is not necessarily the option most evangelicals would consider the “way of peace” to which we are “called”.   But, due to the blatant slander of the character and power of God, and the sworn falsehood entailed in option (1), neither is that option necessarily the way of peace with God, even if it seems the “way of peace” with our one-flesh.    In “standerinfamilycourt’s” case, sustaining this civil trial compelled the petitioning prodigal to make numerous, disruptive transatlantic trips, further shattering the “peace”, as humiliating evidence of misdeeds and perjuries were brought forward in the courtroom.    Several requests and proposals to submit to counseling in order to cut the litigation short were offered by the Respondent and rejected by the Petitioner.

This begs the question:   what exactly is “peace” in the context Paul was using it in verse 15?

 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.


The usual rendering of this verse in most contemporary English translations ends with called us to peace”, or it adds words, by inference, that are not in the Greek manuscript texts so as to equivalently render it “called us to [live in] peace”.       The idea of most exegetes (including the brief sermon link by Pastor Stephen Wilcox of the Spirit of Hosea Fellowship behind the clickable picture above) is that the disciple of Jesus is not to strive to induce an estranged spouse to remain in the home (some, though not Pastor Wilcox, go so far as to say,  in the marriage — which is nonsensical, since only death dissolves the holy matrimony union, and immoral departure from it only violates the union without severing it, hence, God never gave anyone the “choice” about staying in their vowed state of lifelong holy matrimony, we simply ARE in it if the spouse of our youth is alive, whether we like it or not).

What if, however, Paul actually meant that our “peace” is not merely the result of our chosen actions toward our prodigal spouse or any other adversary, but is, at least in part,  the passive result of our regeneration in Christ?    Wouldn’t that mean that we are “walking in peace” if we are sincerely living to depend upon and please Him?    This would certainly be consistent with the actual untranslated, literal texts, at least.    We are called “in” peace, it literally reads, not necessarily “called to” peace (a circumstance that we might be able to influence to a certain degree, but certainly not control).

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace {G1514-eiréneuó)with all men.
– Romans 12:18

Several wise Christian leaders have truthfully asserted that the absence of conflict does not necessarily constitute the presence of peace, just as the presence of courage is not comprised of all absence of fear.    Both depend to a certain degree on our behavior responses, which reflect varying degrees of faith.   Choosing option (1) above, entailing perjury and blasphemy, does not make for peace with God’s glory.     Choosing option (3) may seem contentious on the surface, but may actually reflect a larger purpose of God as well as not only looking out for our own interests but concern for the interests of others, even if it alienates our spouse.     Of the three, which option requires the most faith and confidence in God?    Which option requires the least faith and confidence in God?


According to Strong’s concordance, there are five Hebrew words which translate into the Greek eiréné (G1515) for “peace”, which is the root word for the English word “serenity”.     One of these is shalom, which means not only the absence of conflict, but the presence of overall well-being or wholeness.

Here’s a link to the other biblical Greek words for “peace”.

Hesuchazo (G2270 ) – Luke 14:4 and 23:56.
(to keep quiet, to rest, cease from labor)

  • to lead a quiet life, said of those who are not running hither and thither, but stay at home and mind their business
  • to be silent, i.e. to say nothing, hold one’s peace.

Sigao (G4601) – Luke 9:36; Luke 20:26; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:12-13;
1 Corinthians 14:28; 1 Corinthians 14:30; 1 Corinthians 14:34Romans 16:25
(to keep silence, hold one’s peace: to be kept in silence, be concealed)

Salem (G4532 Hebrews 7:2
(the ancient name of Jerusalem, where Melchizidek was king; city of peace)

Mesites (G3316Galatians 3:19-201 Timothy 2:5Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24
(mediator, arbitrator, peacekeeper)

Peacemakers; peace-lovers (G1518) are eirénopoiosMatthew 5:9 whom Jesus told us were blessed.

Hence, the idea of conflict avoidance to appease the prodigal and his/her allies, or ‘”option (1)” in the unilateral petition dilemma, seems more closely related to  sigao (conflict concealment) than eirene.   “Option (2)” might be consistent with hesuchazo in the circumstance of a lack of means to do otherwise, but there is no assurance of wholeness.   However, if we’re called to a life of discipleship in well-being or wholeness, this more closely links with the “shalom” understanding of eiréné, which appears to be passive and not at all instructional.     The “option (3)”  response does not appear to be “striving” (provided it is not motivated by seeking our own vengeance) and can morally be selected as part of a vision for God to do something bigger than ourselves, such as a constitutional legal challenge to an immoral law that is destroying society and triggering God’s judgment on the land.

And the peace (eirene) of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   – Philippians 4: 7

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 14:27

Eirene is the most frequently-appearing form of “peace” in the New Testament.   Virtually everywhere it’s used, the context is far greater than mere conflict avoidance or conflict concealment or appeasement.   Certainly, covenant marriage standers don’t “stand” if they want to avoid conflict.   Most allies of our prodigals consider our stands “selfish”  and “divisive”, after all.    We stand because we seek the wholeness and well-being of our covenant family, and this requires far more than appeasement and conflict avoidance.

In properly understanding what the Apostle had in mind when he gave the instruction in 1 Cor. 7:15, it also doesn’t hurt to check that we have an accurate understanding of what it means to be “called”.

kletos – (G2822 ) – 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2
(invited; commissioned; appointed)

kaleó  – (G2564) – 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15;
1 Corinthians 7:17-18; 1 Corinthians 7:2022; 1 Corinthians 7:24; 1 Corinthians 10:27; 1 Corinthians 15:9

(Note that this verb “called” is consistent throughout 1 Corinthians 7 for our rebirth into the kingdom of God while in a pre-existing condition;  called (keklēken) while married or single; called (keklēken) while circumcised or uncircumcised; called (keklēken) while a slave or a free person.   It does not seem to be connected with a particular command or instructions other than to remain in that condition, so long as it is not an immoral state that calls for repentance.)

  1. to call
    1. to call aloud, utter in a loud voice
    2. to invite
  2. to call i.e. to name, by name
    1. to give a name to
      1. to receive the name of, receive as a name
      2. to give some name to one, call his name
    2. to be called i.e. to bear a name or title (among men)

to salute one by name

eklektos  –  (G1588)   Matthew 20:16; Matthew 22:14; Matthew 24:22; Matthew 24:24; Matthew 24:31

(picked out, chosen by God, to obtain salvation through Christ

  1. Christians are called “chosen or elect” of God
    • the Messiah in called “elect”, as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable
    • choice, select, i.e. the best of its kind or class, excellence preeminent: applied to certain individual Christians

1 Cor 7.15 dissected

 Picture credit:  Sharon Henry

We can make no mistake: the believing spouse who abandons their one-flesh companion to pursue and attempt to “legitimize” their adultery partner is every bit as lost as the unbelieving spouse who does so, if they never repent or make restitution, but instead die in the illicit relationship.    But the very day-to-day nature of that lostness is profoundly different.   In the latter case, the hounds of heaven pursue the unregenerated wayward spouse from outside his or her body.    In the case of the immoral believer, a grieved and quenched Holy Spirit, never comforted by man’s paper,  is forcibly, unwillingly joined time and again with a harlot or whoremonger, as Paul so vividly describes in the previous chapter.   In the unregenerated adulterer, the Holy Spirit is not forced along for the ride.   Is it not therefore at least possible that the approach to that wandering sheep was not actually addressed by Paul as specifically as in verse 15, but more generally by verses 11, and 39?     Today’s OSAS crowd would have us believe that this difference does not exist,  as they would have us believe that sarx mia (God-joined one-flesh) can be severed by other than death,  and they would have us believe that man-legalized spouses are morally interchangeable in God’s sight.

Lastly,  it should be noted that the Greek term apistos (G571) has usages other than “unbeliever”, including “faithless” or “lacking faith”.    Its usage is different, however, than in 1 Peter 3:1 where apeithousin (G544) is used for “disobedient one”, “rebel” or “disloyal one”.    It is also distinguished from moichalis (G3428) – a spiritual adulterer or idol-worshipper.   Further, apistos is distinguished from parapesontas (G3895) – meaning apostasy or one who has fallen away.    All considered, it is doubtful that Paul was talking about a backslidden believer in 1 Cor. 7:14 or 1 Cor. 7:15, in his instruction to allow the unbeliever to depart without challenge of any sort, and his encouragement that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing spouse.    Possibly, this is because a Tulian Tchividjian or a Kent Hovind or a Greg Locke would already have such a hardened, demon-controlled heart, bordering on apostasy, that the choices of their believing one-flesh spouse in seeking family wholeness would be unlikely to have much effect in the short run, regardless.    Perhaps in the longer run, however, such a person’s God-joined, one-flesh mate is the only other soul strong enough to wage long term spiritual warfare for their soul, possibly averting the realization of dire warning in Hebrews 6:4-6:

 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

SIFC says this in hope rather than in firm reliance on scripture, only because of the miraculous testimonies of prodigals who have indeed returned to the Lord and to their faithful, praying stander, sometimes after decades of willful apostasy (as contrasted with negligent ignorance of the truth of marriage indissolubility).     This may be due to nothing more that the mercy and special favor of the Lord for the obedient stander in these evil times.

Wrapping up,  “standerinfamilycourt” would say that any abandoned spouse who was not around for their prodigal mate’s conversion and regeneration, and did not live with them to see several years of progressive transformation thereafter, whose maturing children’s lives and attitudes show they were not “caught by”, rather than “taught”, the way of the Spirit of God by the progidgal’s example during those post-conversion years,  is probably best off assuming their spouse was a goat among the sheep, or a tare among the wheat, and applying the traditional view of 1 Cor. 7:15 (except for the false notion that the marriage bond is “broken” or never existed) – as Pastor Wilcox described it in the audio link above.  Ditto, for the case where the spouse apostasized from the exceedingly rare church that did teach the full truth about the no-excuses indissolubility of holy matrimony, with eternal consequences being frankly exegeted from the pulpit.    These last prodigals are consciously rejecting truth that they have been faithfully exposed to, and in that regard, are not unlike the man in 1 Cor. 5 whom Paul deemed it necessary to hand over to satan that his soul may be saved for the last day.

That said, a considerable number of genuinely born-again, Spirit-indwelt prodigal spouses, where the above signs were in solid evidence before they fell away,  were sold a “bill-of-goods” by the harlot church and failed to hear the truth for decades since, from leadership who may not even have known the truth about the nature of sarx mia (the inseverable one-flesh state and indissolubility) during the post-1970’s era.   These prodigals remain in great danger (if they have “remarried”), of falling under the influence of a John Piper or a Voddie Baucham or a Russell Moore or a David Servant who will tell them between 50% and 98% of the truth, but the 2% which all of these Calvinist shepherds are omitting is eternally lethal, because they all omit, misrepresent and discourage the opportunity for true repentance to someone who has the Spirit-endued capacity to absorb the unadulterated truth.    This truth should never be delivered as a cudgel or as a naggy, dripping faucet.   It should not be forced, but we should prayerfully ask God to open up to us, as their one-flesh true spouse, the rare opportunity where it is natural to share once or very, very infrequently, and we obey Him in that moment.


As a repentant Solomon once exposited, late in life:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.   For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Having done what the Lord requires of us,  we then should plead before the throne of heaven for the Lord to stir up the grieved and quenched Holy Spirit in our born-again prodigal to cause what was shared to be recalled by Him frequently to their disturbed remembrance, also  to hedge them off from the offices (and YouTube channels) of the evangelical wolves,  and grant them an overwhelming burden for their own soul and that of their faux spouse.   Once we have done that, and we have obeyed in forgiving and restoring them when and if they repent, we will then not have to endure God’s future rebuke that what we failed to do for the least of these, we failed to do for Him.

The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
– 1 Peter 3:10-12


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

3 thoughts on “What if a BELIEVING Spouse Leaves?”

  1. Please pray for “K” and “G,” who were husband and wife and taught our Sunday School class when my husband and I were first married. I’m not sure why, but a few years ago they divorced and remarried others. (We had not been at the same church as them for awhile at that point). I emailed the church of the pastor that joined them and told them it was unbiblical.

  2. Good for you for speaking up, Autumn!

    Father God, in Jesus’ name, we stand in agreement with Autumn that You will convict and rescue the souls of all involved in these two adulterous situations, the non-covenant spouses and the pastor who condoned the evil unions. We pray, in Jesus’ name, that there will be no peace in those homes, for the sake of the kingdom of God, until there is full godly sorrow, repentance, reconciliation and restitution by everyone who has done wrong and sinned against You. Thank you Lord that you are already at work in these situations. In Jesus holy, mighty name, Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *