Paul continues to give his advice on marital status. He does not like the idea of having our lives in constant flux. So many times we might think the grass is greener on the other side. We miss the ones that are right in front of us and how we can love and honor them as they are, just like Jesus did for us, giving us hope and the strength we need.
If you are not married, do not be so desperate to find any person. Prudence is needed to discern God’s will. Paul is also concerned about those who have not grown deeper in the faith where they look still to others rather than God. Marriage is holy, but so is dedicating your life to God in the single state. Paul seems to have this preference because this is the life he is living (8), and is not ashamed of it. Being single is not something to be ashamed of; rather, it can be an opportunity to grow in holiness, as are the other states in life.
If you are married, love your neighbor, your spouse, children and parents. Who you have been married to is always assumed to be God’s will. Try your best to make it work and you will have nothing to be accused of when we come to see Jesus face to face. Is it painful? Yes, you are imitating the love Jesus has for us. How much more He suffered. It is the very depths of what the vows mean when you say, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad.” Jesus knows the suffering you endure and will always see you through it all. Even though there may be no human reason to hope for a good marriage, still hope on Jesus. Notice in verse 11, the advice of Paul goes both ways. How important it is to discern well for and in marriage. Discernment is an art that is almost long lost in society.
Either way, the holiness of the sacrifice you make daily sanctifies the marriage, children, and the whole family (14). Spouses are to help even the unbelieving spouses (16). As Jesus suffered on the cross for us, spouses should be willing to suffer for each other. Remember, the greater one in heaven will be the one who mourns here on earth (Mt 5 the Beatitudes). So if your spouse causes you great suffering here on earth, you will be above them in the next life. How sweet is that? They would have to obey you!
If the spouse decided to divorce, that the marriage was irreconcilable, do not cause more suffering (15). Try to reconcile, but if the person becomes more violent, there is nothing you can do. You cannot make anybody do anything. God made us with free will. God does not will divorce and the suffering that goes with it, but if one of His children is defiant, even He cannot suppress him. At the same time, do not manipulate the other to divorce.
What Paul is getting at is holy indifference. God’s will should be the center of our focus. What should be discerned is not if God wants divorce. God Himself cannot control what the other decides. It is useless energy spent. Moreover, when we come to those crossroads, emotions get in the way far too much to make a clear decision. We have given our very selves and the pain goes way too deep. It is our very selves we give in marriage. Simply take it not just one day at a time, but one moment at a time. Focus on the virtue that God demands in every situation. Thinking about the virtue in every act helps us grow in holiness and keeps our minds off the things that drag us down. It keeps our minds off of fleshly thinking. Virtue at the grocery store, restaurants, and when dealing with a disgruntled spouse keeps things simple and clear. Keep it simple in everything: virtue. You would be amazed at how confusion melts away and how much peace can enter in. And in the end, you remain in God’s grace, have no regrets, and are truly free from within.