Drinking Deeply

Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 12:43 AM

Is this a compelling verse for infant baptism?

1 Cor. 7
12To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?(Emphasis added)
Paul is responding to a concern that someone is defiled by their marriage with an unbeliever (presumably they were converted after marriage for Scripture is clear about being unequally yoked). What he says blows me away. Don't divorce them, because the husband or wife is made holy. Their marriage is still legitimate, their children are likewise also holy.

Of course, we cannot understand "holy" here to mean "saved," because v. 16 makes it clear that we don't know if the unbeliever will be saved or not. But yet they are (present tense) "holy" or "sanctified" (NIV, NASB). Somehow, someway, their marriage sets apart their children and their husband or wife in a manner distinct from the rest of the world.

I see a direct association between this concept of being set apart in a physical way and being part of a church community. Being part of a church does not save us, but it does set us apart. Can we go from there and make the argument that baptism, being the entrance to the covenant community of the church, should thus be open to the entire family of believers?

As a side note, what do we make of the "I, not the Lord" phrase? Should we treat this text as uninspired?

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