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What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

Nowadays, we live in a world where many people have degraded the view and standard of marriage from its original value and purpose. Marriage was never man’s idea, but it was authored by God since He first created man and woman and joined them into one flesh (Genesis 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.). It was God who instituted marriage, and it will always be defined by Him. To God, marriage is very holy and priceless and should be treated as such, otherwise, we find ourselves desecrating what God holds precious. To disrespect marriage is to disrespect God.

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

In an account in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was tested by the Pharisees about what He thinks regarding the issue of divorce (Matthew 19:3-6). Jesus led them back to God’s creation of marriage and how deeply God values it. He said that God authored marriage and bound husband and wife in this sacred covenant. 

No man has the right to tear apart what God has joined together. It is clear that God does not like divorce. In fact, God hates divorce, as He expressed in the passage of Malachi 2:16. 

Marriage is an important covenant relationship entrusted to man, for it is a reflection of God’s covenant with His people whom He so loved and committed Himself to. We must recognize the sanctity and seriousness of entering into and stewarding marriage, or we shall find ourselves offending God.

In Malachi 2:13-16, God clearly expressed His utter disgust for divorce. When God’s people resorted to divorce in dealing with their wives, He saw it as negligence and oppression. Ending a marriage covenant that is so sacred to God brings His anger and disapproval. 

We must never forget that marriage is not just a covenant between two human beings, but most importantly, it is an unbreakable tripartite covenant with God. We are not just accountable to our spouse but ultimately to God. In reality, marriage is challenging and can demand a lot from one’s character, time, finances, and emotions. However, experiencing misery, struggles in financial matters, dissatisfaction, disagreements, incompatibilities, or unhappiness are never found in the scriptures as grounds for ending a marriage. These are things that the couple vowed on the altar to weather together. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death ends the marriage covenant. People can easily abuse marriage when difficulties are accepted as a valid reason for divorce.

Some countries have lenient laws regarding the grounds for divorce or annulment of a marriage. However, we must be aware that although the law of the land allows certain grounds for divorce, God still has the final say regarding marriage standards. So, for couples having a hard time in their marriage, it is best to seek help through individual and marital counseling, godly accountability, and prayer. Restoration and reconciliation is the primary way to deal with a problematic marriage, not divorce. It is either shame or pride that hinders people from trying to save their marriage. We must find the humility to accept that something is wrong with our marriage and admit that we badly need intervention. To worry about what others may think should be the least of our concerns. Honoring God in marriage, even in the worst situation, is far more important than shame or pride.

Now, though the Bible tells us that God absolutely disapproves of divorce, there are two exceptions that scripture clearly presents. Scriptures point out that God only allows divorce when there is sexual immorality that threatens the purity of the marriage bed (Matthew 5:31; 19:3-9) and abandonment by a spouse who is an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.). Apart from these grounds, the Bible does not state any other valid reasons for divorce. Many ask if other dire and life-threatening situations would be considered reasonable grounds for divorce. Cases like physical or emotional abuse against the spouse or children, grave financial abuse, alcohol or drug addiction, or a spouse involved in criminal acts. Scripture does not clearly admit these as valid reasons for divorce, but that does not mean that the abused spouse should endure such dangerous and life-threatening situations. It would be far from the character of God to allow such atrocities to continue in a marriage. The Apostle Peter even taught that wives should be treated in an understanding way and should be given honor as an equal partner in the gracious gift of life that God has given (1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.). The abused spouse should report the behavior to authorities and highly consider separation for the sake of their personal safety and the safety of their children. While separated and taking a considerable time to heal and recover, the abused spouse can continue to pray and hope for the husband/wife’s repentance and the possibility of restoration. If God can change the life of a murderer like Paul, God can change the behavior of an abusive spouse.

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

Nothing is too hard or impossible for God, regardless of how difficult the marriage is or how irreconcilable it may seem. We have witnessed countless testimonies of marriages restored through the life-giving and life-changing power of Christ. Jesus Christ is the ultimate solution to the problems in a marriage, not divorce.

According to 1 Peter 5:6-7, if you urgently need help from God, you must humble yourself. In His time, He will lift you up from your problems in marriage. Thus, He invites you to lay down all your troubles on Him because He truly cares for you.

Can divorce be forgiven by God

Marriage is so valuable to God that He disapproves of divorce, except in the case of adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. In Malachi, He regards the act of divorce as cruel and shows His hatred for it. Not only does it hurt God and our spouse, but it also hurts the children of the family. When spouses rely upon divorce to settle marital problems, it breaks the solidarity of the marriage covenant that God established. It can even adversely affect the succeeding generations. A broken marriage leads to a broken home, a broken home creates a broken child, a broken child will grow up having a broken concept of marriage, and the cycle begins again. Divorce does not just destroy the immediate family but can also create a ripple of terrible consequences for generations to come. This is a grievous thing to commit in the face of a loving and holy God.

With the destruction that divorce leaves in its wake,  can divorce be forgiven by God? Yes, God can forgive divorce. God hates divorce, just as He hates all other sins, but due to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all our sins (including divorce) can be forgiven, provided that we sincerely repent. 

The forgiveness of sins is given by virtue of what Christ did on the cross. It is not earned or deprived based on what we have done. God forgives us because it is in His character to be gracious and forgiving. He was even willing to give His one and only Son for the forgiveness of sins because of His great love for us (John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.).

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce?

That being said, we must not abuse the grace that God has given us. Repentance is not merely saying sorry after sinning against God; it is about taking responsibility and sincerely committing not to do it again. It is acknowledging that our sins hurt God, and continuing in the sinful life cheapens the sacrifice of Christ. Divorce is offensive to God, but He is able to forgive. However, we must also know that when we are unrepentant, God disciplines us. Paul warns us not to take the Lord’s discipline lightly and not to lose heart when He rebukes us. When God disciplines us, many times harshly, it is because He loves us (Hebrews 12:5-6). Despite our transgressions before God, He remains lovingly patient and persevering. As God demonstrated His forbearance, we must also reflect that character in our marriage. We must learn to forgive, ask forgiveness, bear with one another, and seek restoration in marriage, just as God did for us.

The verse in Colossians 3:13-14 may not specifically be for marriage, but its principle is still applicable to marriage. We are exhorted to bear with our spouse as we are confronted by each other’s faults and learn to forgive one another. We can forgive because our Lord forgave us, despite how badly we have offended Him. Above all, we must always choose love when we deal with each other, as love brings perfect unity.

What verse in the Bible says not to divorce?

Many times, we allow circumstances to define who we are, along with our purpose and our values. When a marriage takes a heavy beating, it is easy for the standards of God to be overshadowed by human opinion and reasoning. With that, we may find ourselves giving in to compromise.

When our judgment becomes clouded by our troubles, we must return to the Word of God. For us to see for ourselves how God views divorce, here are some Bible verses that will help us become grounded in His standards.

We read in Malachi 2:13-16 that God was very much offended by how His priests and people treated marriage at that time. God had seen the tears of their wives that they divorced. The Lord reminded them of the marital vows that they made to their wives before Him. He reminded them that God was the one who authored and established their marriage. It angered God to see that they were not faithful to their wives, and by resorting to divorce, the husbands overwhelmed them with cruelty. God indeed hates divorce, and He calls His people to guard their hearts and remain loyal to the wife of their youth.

Both these accounts from Matthew 19:3-7 and Mark 10:2-12 recount a time when the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce. He was asked if it is lawful to divorce for any and every reason. At that time, there was a popular view of divorce, teaching that any offense of the wife against the husband constitutes “marital unfaithfulness.” Some rabbis would even consider something so shallow as burning a husband’s food as grounds for divorce. Jesus answered them by first going back to the original design and the authorship of God in marriage. God created marriage and established its standards. He reminded them of the special bond that is enforced in marriage. It is higher than any social or legal bond instituted here on earth. It is a spiritual covenant that is being joined together by God himself. What God has joined together, man should not separate. So, whoever divorces their spouse, except in the case of infidelity, and marries again, is guilty of adultery.

In Luke 16:18, Jesus warns people that whoever marries another after divorce, and anyone who marries a divorced person, is guilty of committing adultery.

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul gives a command against divorce. Anyone who is divorced must remain unmarried or be reconciled to their spouse. However, if a person is married to an unbelieving spouse and they are willing to live with them, they must not divorce. They must live with the hopes that the unbelieving spouse may be brought into the saving knowledge of Christ, but if the unbeliever decides to leave, then let them do so.

We may lose sight of our commitment to our spouse, but we must never lose sight of our commitment to upholding God’s value for marriage. With that in mind, we are able to pursue unity in marriage again, regardless of how hard the path to forgiveness and restoration may be. When Christ is kept at the center of our marriage, we will succeed in the challenges that life throws at our marriage.

According to Hebrews 6:18-20, this is our assurance in holding on to the promises of God in our marriage. God does not lie, and He does not change, which means that He will never back down on His promises. Whatever storm blows upon our married life, we have an anchor for our soul, firm and secure in Jesus Christ.

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