Divorce is a very problematic issue in America, even among Christians we often find ourselves going through divorce. There are biblical grounds to justify why we are permitted to get a divorce but it is NEVER commanded.
Biblically there are only two reasons the Lord permits divorce. One spouse has committed adultery by sleeping with another other than their husband/wife. Or abandonment by the unbelieving spouse.
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.Matthew 19:8-9
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Jesus corrects the religious leaders by telling them that divorce was only allowed because of their hard hearts. This is why we face so many divorce in our modern day as well. Mankind’s heart has become hardened against our spouse to the point that we want nothing to do with them. When we choose divorce, we choose our hard prideful sinful heart filled with selfish desires over a selfless sacrificial and unconditional love to our spouse. The same love the Lord has given us.
Notice what Jesus says, He doesn’t say adultery is an acceptable justification for divorce. He does say that if we divorce for anything other adultery is guilty of adultery themselves.
Paul adds to this by telling us that a wife should not separate from her husband, but if she does she should remain unmarried. If she desires marriage then she should go back to the husband and reconcile their differences. While at the same time a husband too is not to divorce by any means. However, if one person is an unbeliever and chooses divorce, let it be so.
12 To 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.1 Corinthians 7:12-16
13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.
14 For 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.
15 But 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.
16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
The only grounds for divorce here is when the unbeliever leaves the marriage. I’m convinced that by leaving and filing for divorce we only prove that we are the unbeliever. Not once in scripture do I find that God commands a Christian to abandon their spouse.
I have heard some say that “God removed them from my life” or some other variation. But if God hates divorce so much why would he break two people apart? It is not God, but our own sinfulness which breaks marriages apart.
Why God hates divorce
There are a number of things that come into play through divorce. All of which are damaging and sinful.
1. Promises are broken. When my wife and I got married, much like everyone else we took an oath to always be there for better or for worse. It’s the “worse” that’s important. There is no fine line, no condition, no limit to how worse it can be before we are allowed to leave our spouse.
My wife and I have conflict in our marriage over various things. In some cases I am at fault. I have failed to love her as the Lord loves me. There may be some days in which I would rather be alone. But never could I think of a time in which I would truly want to abandon my wife by filing divorce. When we make a promise on our wedding day, it’s binding.
2. Hearts are broken. A broken heart comes in many ways. It can happen to our families as they see their brother or sister hurting through marriage conflict. It could even be the spouse who has been hurt. Divorce only adds to that. We reflect on our expectations in marriage, how we wanted it to look. And even that we wanted it to last. When divorce is on the table or even finalized that adds to our hurt. Not only are we left alone again, but everything we wanted in our marriage is shattered.
3. Damages our testimony. Are Christians we are to love our neighbor as ourself. As husbands we are to love our wife as Christ loved the church. Wives are to love their husbands in submission to their leadership of the house. To love them as if they were Christ (obviously they are not the literal Jesus). A wife may not understand everything a husband decides. But we believers don’t always understand Gods ways either, yet still trust Him fully to care for us.
Our testimony is damaged because it shows others that our love is conditional and limited. It also shows that we are not truly faithful to the Lord or even our own spouse. Can a person really be identified as faithful in the church if they do not even love their spouse? This is our primary ministry. If we refuse to be in that, what other ministry will we abandon?
Ultimately when we consider divorce, we must also consider our faithfulness to the Lord. Marriage is a union between two people who become one flesh. Can the flesh be separated without destroying the body? Your marriage is your church. Can you divide the church without destroying it?
As of this article, I am finishing up writing a book to submit to my publisher that deals with forgiveness and relationships. While at the same time reading a book about a man’s role in marriage. Both of these have helped me to develop and even stronger value on preserving relationships. I would like to encourage you to get both of these books as I hope they can help you to develop a stronger importance on relationships.
My book is not yet published but will be listed on our website once completed. The book I am reading is called “The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott. For the women, look up “The Excellent Wife” which is its companion book. I have not read it but I’m sure it’s just as great.
If your marriage is struggling right now don’t give up, get counseling. Marriage conflict is never one persons fault but rather both are at fault. One person failed to act in love while the other failed to respond in love.
If your spouse suggest counseling. Take that seriously. They don’t see the issue as YOU need help but rather WE need help. Your spouse wants to do whatever it takes to preserve the marriage. Show them how much you love in the same way God loves us and pursue this help to have a more godly marriage. Seek out your spouse and resolve your differences. Admit your sins to them and be healed.