Bible

What the Bible Really Says About Divorce.

Divorce has single handedly changed the make up of our families and culture. In our american culture the divorce rate is holding steady at 48%. So it’s not a lie to say about 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce.

Divorce has single handedly changed the make up of our families and culture. In our american culture the divorce rate is holding steady at 48%. So it’s not a lie to say about 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. This topic is so huge I’m not even going to attempt to cover all sides of it. What I will do is look scripturally and logically at divorce and make an assertion if it’s biblical. I would like to add that a lot of this can be tied to our understanding of satisfaction so please read my previous post on satisfaction. Everyone loves hypothetical situations so lets tackle them.

1.My spouse is actively having an affair, is divorce okay?

This is the loaded question that no minister will give you a one word answer for, the reason is because Jesus himself just didn’t give a one word answer. “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32) As you read over that passage several times you might ask what does all this mean?

The first aspect I can shed light on is the address being to men. Does this mean men are the only ones biblically allowed to seek divorce. No, it’s addressed to men because in the first century women would not have had the social status to initiate a divorce. Therefore today this scripture would speak to both genders. Now brings the question can both men and women biblically seek divorce.

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) From a biblical view I can tell you if your spouse is active in an affair then divorce is morally ok. Now looking at context, is that what Jesus really wanted? I would say no. In Matthew chapter five Jesus follows up the divorce discussion with turn the other cheek, and love your enemies. Some of you may view me as naive, but I’m saying Christ values forgiveness and reconciliation. Those two things should always be plans A-Z when a marriage is failing from an affair. If plans A-Z don’t work then morally you’re in the clear by initiating a divorce. In Matthew 19 it says Sexual immorality not adultery which leads me to my next question.

2. My spouse is emotionally involved with someone else, is divorce ok?

With Matthew using a loose term that just refers to sexual immorality as a whole, and not just adultery the monkey wrench has now been thrown into the mix. Does the Bible give moral grounds for a divorce even if adultery is not involved? Jesus in Matthew 19 prefaces verse 9 with this: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. (Matthew 19:5-8)

Divorce was never to be so acceptable. Jesus literally blames the reason we have divorce is due to our hardened hearts. I fully believe that is derived from the fact that we do not hold reconciliation as a priority. We allow ourselves to be offended, and become bitter. Back to the scenario of a spouse being emotionally involved with someone else. This meaning that this person has become the one they trust and share their thoughts, passions, and troubles with. In this case where you feel completely disengaged from your spouse is divorce biblically ok? My opinion is divorce is not okay in this instance. You need to do everything you can to in the name of grace. For we were called to leave our parents and become one. The easier and more acceptable we make it to divorce the less special marriage becomes. If we put as much effort into our marriages and family lives as we did our career and hobbies, divorce rate would fall at least 15-20%. To close out this question I must add if this emotional affair turns to lustful desire then the argument could be made for sexual immorality. I would be wary though to come to that conclusion to quickly.

3. I’m in a physically abusive relationship is divorce ok?

In my estimation to many churches and pastors have tried to play this diplomatically. If you are being abused set aside divorce for a second, you simply need to exit that situation. On the good side if the abuser seeks anger management and counseling then I would advise you to see if grace and reconciliation can be achieved. Once you leave that situation I advise that individual to be unfaithful to the marriage they still have. Then comes the point if the abuser in the marriage makes no attempt fix their flaws then I can not in my heart tell you it is wrong to move on. Many conservative pastors and Christians are going to disagree with me on this. I would argue that an individual that is so reckless in their temperament with anger, will most certainly be reckless in their sexual morality, which does have biblical grounds for divorce. 

The billboards that irritate me most are “Quick and Easy divorce”. I just spent a good amount of time showing that divorce is acceptable in some cases, but not nearly the majority. We are teaching our children that there is no reason to work at things to make them better. We are also teaching children that love is cheap and fades easily. Because of divorce we have to many kids growing up without learning how to be a man or woman. If they don’t understand what manhood, or womanhood is, they will never understand marriage. We have too many twenty-five year old children walking around. The fix is simple, on an individual level we all need grow in our relationship with Christ and understand the grace he has given us. For when we have a better grasp of that graceful relationship, we will truly know how to have those with our spouses! 

7 comments on “What the Bible Really Says About Divorce.

  1. Thank you for the sound, Biblical teaching on divorce. I would add one more point: the person who files legal papers to end a marriage is often not the one causing the divorce. The person who destroyed the marriage–whether through infidelity, violence, or abandonment–is guilty of causing the divorce. God does not recognize “no-fault divorce,” but the person who acts to show legally that the marriage has ended should not always be accused of sinning. J.

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  2. I do have to correct you on your marriage statistics. Last week an article in the WSJ cited results from the National Center for Health Statistics (oddly enough, they are the ones who track marriage and divorce rates for the government) places the 2014 divorce rate (latest compiled data) at 69%, and it has been steadily dropping since the 1990’s. The highest divorce rates were in the 70’s and 80’s, topping out at 48%.

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  3. The billboards/signs that get me are the ones with prices like Divorce – $395! As though you just walk in and pick one up for $395, done. The part of scripture I don’t think people discuss a lot is where it says “anyone who divorces his wife… and marries another woman commits adultery.” Does that mean everyone who is divorced should never re-marry? Or only the person who initiated the divorce should not re-marry? What if one person was never married but wants to marry someone who is divorced, would that be considered adultery for the unmarried person?

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  4. Divorce is always a mystery to me. But this post was very useful for me to graduate to the next level of understanding.Thanks

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  5. Arlene Solomon

    GOD ALMIGHTY, in Malachi 2:11-16, makes it clear where HE stands on the issues of adultery and divorce – HE HATES IT! There is a strong warning from GOD in those verses which are, strangely enough, directed to the Man! The depth of GOD’S annoyance is in verse 14 where GOD does not regard or accept the offering with favour and the question is “Why?” The answer? Verse 14 continues, “BECAUSE THE LORD WAS WITNESS BETWEEN YOU AND THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH TO WHOM YOU HAVE BEEN FAITHLESS, THOUGH SHE IS YOUR COMPANION AND YOUR WIFE BY COVENANT. Vs15- DID HE NOT MAKE THEM ONE, WITH A PORTION OF THE SPIRIT IN THEIR UNION? AND WHAT WAS THE ONE GOD SEEKING? GODLY OFFSPRING! SO GUARD YOURSELVES IN YOUR SPIRIT, AND LET NONE OF YOU BE FAITHLESS TO THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH. FOR THE MAN WHO HATES AND DIVORCES, SAYS THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, COVERS HIS GARMENT WITH VIOLENCE, SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS. SO GUARD YOURSELVES IN YOUR SPIRIT, AND DO NOT BE FAITHLESS.”
    GOD requires Faithfulness in every area of marriage; mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social. “GARMENT” in this reference above is a covering that marriage affords the husband and wife, setting boundaries for no unfaithfulness. Many a divorced person or one going through divorce can testify to the VIOLENCE that comes- it all comes down to the lusts of the flesh. The Church needs to teach soundly on issues of marriage and family in order to uphold the Standard of the Most High God. A man cannot love his wife “as Christ loved the Church and gave His life for it” if he is not taught the depth of that love shown on the Cross. Yes, he mayrebel against it, but God’s not going to change His mind on the matter! So!

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  6. Hi there. Thankyou for the wonderful insight. Regarding re-marriage. I was unfortunately unfaithful to my wife, divorced her and married the other woman. Only recently God spoke to me that we actually live in adultery. Shall I now divorce my wife? I would like to do the right thing. Could you please send me an answer on this. Thank you in advance.

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  7. Wow, touchy subject to bring up in a blog. I applaud your courage. While I agree two things I would comment on. I have known many a man who had more than one affair. The old saying that if they do it once they will do it again, while not always true, is often true. Forgiveness and rebuilding of a marriage is beautiful when both parties are sincere in forgiveness and repentance. However, I would add the caveat that no man or woman should put up with someone who has a chronic problem for which they either won’t, or can’t, overcome.

    Second is the abusive relationship. This is a tougher one. I’ve seen this in our churches and been involved with ministries dealing with this. The studies on this are pretty solid. Those who abuse women tend to not only always abuse women, but escalate the violence. My advice is run away, completely away. You should divorce for the sake of safety. Most women coming out of a truly abusive relationship change their names etc. It is for all practical purposes witness protection, especially when kids are involved. You can’t do that and remained married.

    As for remarriage, as one pastor repeated to me often on many topics, God’s grace is sufficient. I’m I going to stand and judge a woman who was beaten that years later she finds a decent Christian man who will treat her with the worthiness she deserves and say that she can’t marry? I would never. Would I do the same for the man whose wife left him for another man? I would not.

    I agree, the church needs to speak plainly on the boundaries of marriage, on the covenant of marriage, and on the need of keeping that covenant. That said, we live in a broken world in need of Jesus. God’s grace, shown through broken people is the testimony of the good news. I would rather point to that when the occasion calls for it..

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