Divorce Questions - The Biblical Perspective
Many people have divorce questions. What does the Bible say?
God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. The same is true for divorce -- God hates divorce, but loves the divorced. Are you considering divorce? Please rethink your decision. If you're married, God wants you to stay married. If you're separated, God wants you to do everything possible to be reconciled to your spouse. While the teachings of the Bible are clear, please understand that God does not desire any of His children to be harmed physically or emotionally. If you are in an abusive or dangerous situation, please seek help from your church or other professional source.
Divorce Questions - The Biblical Answers
So, for those of us with divorce questions, what does the Bible say? God's teaching is crystal clear on the subject…
After Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went southward to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Vast crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick. Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: "Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for any reason?" "Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning `God made them male and female.' And he said, `This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together." "Then why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?" they asked. Jesus replied, "Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery--unless his wife has been unfaithful."
Jesus' teachings make it clear that the only justification for divorce is sexual immorality. In the time of Moses (which was strictly a male-dominated society), permission was given to divorce due to their "hard-hearted wickedness." If a woman did something that caused her husband to despise her, the law allowed her to be free, rather than be subject to his contempt.
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for him. (But if the husband or wife who isn't a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.) You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you.
While this passage appears to be in conflict with Matthew 19, these passages are addressing two different issues. Jesus' teachings in Matthew are directed at a Jewish audience and a marriage between believers in Christ. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, is addressing both Jews and Gentiles after Christ's resurrection. Some of these people had converted to Christianity without their spouse converting also.
The Bible teaches that if a non-believer leaves a believing spouse, the believing spouse does not sin by allowing the divorce. But if a believer is married to an unbelieving spouse who is willing to stay, then the believer should not seek a divorce: "You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you."
Divorce Questions - The Bottom Line
All divorce questions can be summed up as follows: A divorce between believers always reflects badly on Jesus. Paul told us, "Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Bringing glory to God should be our goal, even when divorce is a consideration.
Reflect on the path you have currently chosen. Is there another way? Is divorce the only option? We encourage you to seek guidance and perspective from your church pastoral staff. Divorce is not the sin to end all sins, nor is it the only answer. A Christian's goal above all else is to give careful consideration to the name and reputation of Jesus Christ.
You cry out, "Why has the LORD abandoned us?" I'll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn't the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. "For I hate divorce!" says the Lord, the God of Israel…."So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife."