The Apostle Paul writes concerning some of the questions the Corinthian church had asked him in their letter. Paul states that being unmarried is all right; however, due to the fact many people cannot live a celibate life, it is good to marry.
Husbands and wives are to give their bodies to each other. Paul also recommends to the unmarried and widows that it is good to remain single; however, it he/she cannot live without sexual relations, it is better to marry than to lust.
Paul’s advice was due to the circumstances at that time, and he was not in any way trying to put marriage down. Paul went on to say, “A wife is bound for so long time as her husband liveth: but if the husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will: ONLY IN THE LORD. (I Cor. 7:39) A woman is to remain married to her husband as long as they both live; this applies to the man as well. God’s law rules over both as long as they live. However, if while both live and one become joined to another, it is adultery. But if one dies, the other can be joined to another, and it is not adultery. (Rom. 7:1-3)
Jesus gives only one exception in Matthew 19:9, “And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication (porneia -- sexual immorality) and shall marry another, commiteth adultery: and he that marrieth her who is put away commiteth adultery.” Jesus clarifies the marriage law and gives only reason for a divorce. The only reason is fornication. The innocent party can divorce and remarry. If a divorce takes place which is not for adultery and the parties remarry, they are guilty of adultery in God’s sight, because the marriage is still binding. Whoever marries one who has divorced for any reason except adultery commits adultery.
When a husband dies, his widow is free to marry, because the marriage bond between them ceases to exist as the result of his death. The scripture states the widow is free to marry whomever she wishes, but ONLY IN THE LORD. Does this phrase mean one who is a Christian and the widow must marry only a Christian? The phrase, “ONLY IN THE LORD,” in Greek, “monon en kyrio,” has reference to the fact that the marriage must be in accordance with God’s will. In other words, the marriage must be in accordance with the Lord’s teaching. Who can marry scripturally? (1) Those who have never been married previously (I Cor. 7:8-9) (2) Those who have been married previously, but whose former companion was guilty of fornication (Matt. 19:9) (3) Those who have been previously married but whose spouse is dead (Rom. 7:2) (4) Those who do not fall under the class of prohibitions set forth in Matthew 19:10-12.
There are other scriptures that use the phrase, ONLY IN THE LORD. In Ephesians: 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Can anyone argue that children can disobey parents if they are non-Christians! Children are instructed to obey their parents, because it is pleasing unto God and is in accordance to His will (Col. 3:20-21). Also, in Colossians 3:18, “Wives, be subject to your husband, as it is fitting in the Lord.” Can anyone argue that wives cannot be subject to non-Christian husbands! As is fitting in the Lord means, in accordance with God’s will. The phrase, ONLY IN THE LORD, does not have reference to the person that the widow marries. It has reference to the marriage itself. The marriage must be between those who are eligible for marriage. -- Earl Sutton