The Permanence Of The Marriage Covenant: Romans 7:1-4
“1) Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2) For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3) So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. 4) Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Romans‬ ‭7:1-4
Paul now takes three big steps backwards and gives another illustration about the binding power of the Law. He does it by looking at the marriage covenant. He points out that the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living. If for any reason she marries another man while her husband is alive, she is an adulteress. Only death of a spouse frees a woman to marry again. Even our marriage vows today often say, “until death we do part.”
In verse four, Paul applies this principle to the Christian life. He points out that “in Christ” we were made to die to the binding power of the Law. We are like the widow set free from her marriage vows because of the death of her husband. We are now free to be joined to Christ. The Law no longer has jurisdiction with condemnation power over us. “In Christ” we are free from the law so that we can now love, obey and serve Jesus. He is like our new husband.
I embrace this illustration, but I shudder at the number of modern scholars who say this text has no bearing on the binding nature of the marriage covenant among Christians. Though I agree that Paul’s primary purpose was to illustrate how the death of Christ set us free from the Law, nowhere in this text does he minimize the permanence of the marriage covenant for Christians. To the contrary, by using this illustration to communicate to Christians, he is underlining the importance of the marriage covenant.
The biggest detriment of modern Christianity is our weak view of marriage and the family. In a very real sense, the modern church is doing as much to erode marriage as the cornerstone of culture as any anti-culture movement of our day. Paul was not doing that in this text. He had a very strong view of marriage and the family.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global