“But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.”
But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart;
Paul now turns to a condition where the non-Christian divorces the Christian. The believer, in this case, has no control over the consequence. There is nothing in this case that the believer can do to change the situation. Paul places the responsibility for leaving the marriage on the obstinate unbeliever. Obviously, unbelievers are not bound by biblical norms. This passage is silent on the believer leaving the marriage.
a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.
There are three reasons for which God sanctions divorce: (1) death, (2) immorality (Mt 19:9), and (3) desertion by the mate. Paul deals with desertion here – “if the unbeliever departs, let him depart.”
The phrase “is not under bondage” means that the believer is free to remarry. The perfect tense in the Greek (the action was completed in the past with the results going on into the future) indicates permanent freedom for the believer to remarry. This reaches back to the day the unbeliever left the marriage. Scripture always indicates that when divorce occurs, the believer is free to remarry, so not “under bondage” means to be set free to marry again.
But God has called us to peace.
Although God allows divorce and remarriage, He calls the partners to a peaceful relationship. It is better to remain married to a non-believer than to divorce the non-Christian against his or her will.
Christians are free to remarry if their non-believing spouse divorces them.
Marriage is a mutual, not a unilateral relationship. It is God’s design for marriage that, under whatever conditions partners find themselves, they are to live in a peaceful relationship. There is no place for bickering, retaliation, and hostility in any marriage.
Romans 12:18, If it is possible (and it is not always possible), as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Desertion is like adultery because both disrupt the marriage tie. The essence of marriage is union, but adultery and desertion break that union. If desertion is final, the marriage de facto dissolves, and the believer is free to remarry.