Paul mentioned a present distress in I Corinthians 7:26. He was speaking about marriage to the church.  The distress was present but as old as the Book of Genesis. To form a foundation, every  instance concerning marriage and divorce must be addressed. Also all guidelines given in the word of God concerning it must be given and explained. Contrary to popular belief, there is a definite structure to understand God’s direction in this matter and we have a guide in God’s Word that directs us, Isaiah 28:9-10.

Is. 28: 9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Gen. 16:1 Now Sarai Abram's WIFE bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3 And Sarai Abram's WIFE took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his WIFE.

The first divorce we have record of is Abraham, the father of the faithful. To legitimize this we had to establish that Hagar was truly his wife. Then we must determine that he put her away and the reason that justified it.

Gen. 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto HAGAR, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

First of all we see that God agreed that Abraham should put his wife away. This seems out of character for God at face value. The reason God allowed this is the main reason that any divorce throughout scripture and history becomes legitimate. The promise to Abraham was a covenant that included Sarah and not Hagar. This is the foundation by which Paul determines two different marriages in I Co. chapter 7.  One with two believers and the other with just one believer. God instructed Israel not to make marriages with those of another nation.

Gen. 7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
3 Neither shalt thou make MARRIAGES with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

God declared a truth that resounds to this present day but is scoffed at by the Christian community at large. Simply speaking, God does not want his children marrying those who are not Christians and gives his reason for this. Most often the sinner will influence the Christian more than the Christian influences the sinner and history bears the record. In the Book of Judges we find Sampson that would not listen to the council of God. He joined himself to the Philistines and it was his demise. In the Book of II Kings we find King Solomon overcome with paganism because he married women of strange nations.  The council of God is centered in the covenant we have with him and always has been.  In the Book of Ezra we find that many people had married outside the faith while in captivity and had to divorce their spouses because they were pagans.

Ezra:1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

We find throughout the scripture examples  of obedience and disobedience to god’s Word and the effect it had in each situation. With this foundation we come to this present distress. Paul explains  God’s instruction to the Church concerning marriage in I Co. chapter seven that reflects his knowledge of covenants, history and grace that addresses this present distress. It is actually the benchmark for understanding divorce and remarriage today. This is a big issue because in America one out of every two marriages end in divorce. Many ministers do not want to take a stand on the issue or tell the truth because they may offend someone. The truth is not as grievous as one may think. When Paul addressed married people he put it this way.

I Co.10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Now he addresses another group that are married when one spouse  is a believer and one is not.

I Co.12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Evidently there are two marriages here with different instructions to both. How can this be. First of all two people who are Christians and obey the scriptures, there is a joining by God himself in Holy matrimony. In God’s estimation as long as both remain his servants then there is no legitimate avenue for divorce. It would be impossible for both spouses to obey the scriptures and let Satan destroy their union. Now if one or both backslide then they become an unbeliever(s) and may fall into the other group if one remains a believer.
Notice one thing , the first group has instruction from God while the second group gets instruction from Paul because God does not join believers and unbelievers in holy matrimony. The second  group should only occur when one is converted to Christianity from a marriage of two unbelievers. There is also more instruction to the believer who has an unbelieving spouse.

I Co.13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Paul does instruct the believer to have mercy on the unbeliever if  the unbeliever does not hinder them from serving God. Many time when one in an unbelieving marriage is converted to Christianity it may cause division. If there no peace to be found and the marriage is dissolved, a brother or a sister in the faith is not under the marriage bond. There was a chance for both to be converted, which would have been the best scenario and they would have joined the first group with a covenant marriage by God.
God always honors covenants and all instruction in the Bible is based on covenants. Many will point to Jesus’ instruction concerning divorce and say all divorce is wrong.

Mt.19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of DIVORCEMENT, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Remember, Jesus was talking to the Israelites who had a covenant with God, both men and women. All marriages were Holy in this group because of their bloodline. There is no way they could backslide from their bloodline covenant. Remember in Ezra that Israelites divorced those of another nation according to the law. Abraham divorced Hagar because she was not in God’s covenant. Solomon married wives of another nation and they caused him to sin against God. Sampson did not see the importance of God’s instruction which ultimately caused his death in captivity. Now we are under a Spiritual covenant and God commands us only to marry other Christians. This command is designed to help Christians avoid the trouble that are so well documented through history. Also in this present distress God has made a way where there seems to be none for Christians to  not be yoked to unbelievers who take their peace from them. Then they are free to marry again but only in the Lord(faith).

ICo.7:26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.