Is It Ok For Christians To Get A Divorce
You might believe in some of these misconceptions.
The thought of being a divorced Christian is scary, right? The term itself comes with a lot of stigma, and can make the divorcee feel like theyre wearing a scarlet letter. They may feel miserable in their church because they no longer seem to fit in. They dont always mesh well with the singles, and the married couples they once bonded with cant connect to them like they used to. Everyone around them has their happy little families, while their world is crumbling around them.
There are the well-meaning Christians who tell divorced Christians that they have failed Christ through getting a divorce, and that if they choose to remarry they are sure to end up forever in hell. The only option is to pray and do whatever is possible to reconcile with their ex-spouse. This only makes the divorced person feel worse and even further from God.
Can God ever forgive someone who got a divorce? Is it possible that a God-fearing relationship could one day fall apart? The divorced Christian, or those thinking about getting a divorce, has so many questions and few answers.
Christians as a whole have a lot of misconceptions about what the Bible really says about divorce, and what God really thinks about it.
What Should You Do
No one should ever stay in a situation where spousal abuse, either physically, verbally or otherwise, is present. If the offending mate was a Bible believer at one time, they have become an unbeliever because of their behavior.
If the person who is an abuser is not willing to seek counseling and make a sincere, concerted effort to stop their behavior then the offended spouse should not remain in this type of environment. Prayer about the situation and separation from the spouse, with the possibility of divorce, is certainly warranted.
What Does The Bible Say About Divorce If The Unbeliever Leaves Let It Be So
Three things stand out in this text. First, the believer is to let the non-believer go. The believer is not to pursue the non-believer and try to make them stay married. Second, Paul teaches that the brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances they are free from the bounds of marriage. Thirdly, I also believe that it is wise to assume that when a non-believer deserts the marriage, they will almost certainly end up in another sexual relationship. Even to this day, most people leave relationships to become involved with someone else. In this sense, Pauls exception may be understandable as a natural extension of the exception granted for adultery.
These two exceptions show us that while permanence in marriage is Gods ideal, in a sinful world this ideal will sometimes be corrupted. God allows divorce only if ones spouse enters into sexual immorality or if one is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever deserts and abandons the believer. In such cases the non-adulterous or non-deserting person would be free to seek a divorce and remarriage but is not required to do so. I would encourage a person even in this instance to consider seeking reconciliation in the marriage.
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Realize That Divorce Has Consequences
Unscriptural divorce almost always brings painful consequences. Not only do you distance yourself from God when you divorce, you also damage your spouse, wound your children, injure other family members, hurt friends, set the stage for future pain for yourself, and bring shame upon the name of Christ.
When you do things Gods way, things work out best. On the other hand, when you disobey God, problems eventually come. If you divorce for unscriptural reasons, the odds are high that you will regret it before you die. You are certain to regret it when you stand before God.
Adultery Abuse Abandonment Are Biblical Grounds For Divorce
MYTH: God forbids all divorce, or all divorce is sin unless it’s for adultery.
TRUTH: Scripture shows that God gives permission for divorce in many situations. And modern Bible translations no longer translate Malachi 2:16 as God saying “I hate divorce.” The NIV, ESV, and CSB do not translate Malachi 2:16 as God saying “I hate divorce.”
In my interviews with Christian divorcees, Ive often heard that they stayed in an unfaithful or abusive marriage for decades because they were taught that divorce was a sin.
This myth says that all divorce is forbidden by God, sinful, and unpardonable in Gods eyesor, similarly, it says that Jesus or Paul never mention the topic of physical or emotional abuse, so those must not be biblical reasons for divorce.
In reality, Scripture shows us Gods permission for divorce in several places. In addition to adultery, sexual immorality, and abandonment, emotional and physical abuse is mentioned in the Old Testament and repeated in the New Testament, but weve never seen it because we arent looking for it. .
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Divorce Is A Sin Before God
You will be responsible for your sins against God and those sins committed against you by your spouse.
As Christians, we need to realize that divorce is a sin before God. We need to consider our relationship with God and ask Him to help us live according to His Word.
If you consider divorce as a solution to your problems, I encourage you to read my article on Divorce and Remarriage. This article discusses the sin of divorce from a biblical perspective, including what it means for both men and women.
In the Bible, God forbids divorce except in cases of infidelity . Therefore, if a man divorces his wife for any other reason than her unfaithfulness , he will be responsible for his sins against God and those sins committed against him by his spouse.
The consequences of divorce are grave because they affect both husband and wife and their children. The Bible teaches that children should obey their parents , but it can be difficult for children who have experienced broken homes to do so. According to the National Center for Health, the divorce rate in America is high 50% of marriages end in divorce by the 10th anniversary of marriage.
The 3 Grounds For Divorce In The Bible
A divorce may be initiated for different reasons, including the following:
- A husband or wife has committed adultery
So while God hates divorce, he does offer permission when remaining married is harmful.
Anytime one of these sinful acts has been committed, the one-flesh union between a husband and wife becomes violated.
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Positive Things To Do After Divorce
1. Manage Conflict with PeaceJesus is a great example for how to conduct ourselves in the face of conflict. He kept himself calm by knowing God was still in control even as His enemies were attacking. He spoke out to His disciples sharing that He knew they were going to betray Him but He left the consequences of these actions in Gods hands. You cannot control how your spouse behaves during or after the divorce, but you can control how you act and treat other people. Treat them with the respect they deserve as the parent of your child, or at least as a fellow human being even if theyre acting like some sort of alien from outer space.
3. Challenge the Lonely Feelings with Benevolence While Single and HealingFeeling lonely after divorce is a real concern of many of the women I speak to. It seems to be the biggest struggle that Christian women face while working on healing. When the divorce wasnt wanted in the first place, feeling lonely seems to be an added consequence to an already mounting list. But we learn in the Bible that singleness is a gift from God. It may be hard to see it as such when youre feeling so much pain and loss. But its often an invitation to seek a relationship with the One who knows how to cure the pain and fill the void.
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What Does The Bible Say About Divorce Anyone Who Divorces His Wife And Marries Another Woman Commits Adultery And The Man Who Marries A Divorced Woman Commits Adultery
The default position in Scripture is that marriage is permanent and, because of that permanence, divorce causes subsequent marriages to be adulterous. Stated differently, if human authorities authorize divorce on human grounds, God does not honor it in his eyes, the marriage bond is still intact. And because it is still intact, the subsequent marriage is adulterous.
This is a hard teaching.
Why would God be so strict, we might wonder?
Its a good moment to remind ourselves that, by experience and observation over time , and according to the teaching of Scripture, Gods laws and teachings are meant to bless us and provide the best for Gods people .
We are limited in our ability to measure all the impact that divorce has on everyone involved . But we know for sure divorce does a lot of damage, especially to children. Here is the summary of a three-decade synthesis of the scientific research on the effects of divorce on children published by The Linacre Quartely in 2014:
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God Established Marriage And It Is Good
One of the most central truths we learn from Scripture is that Gods ways are for our good. God promises a blessing on everyone who delights in his teachings/laws and by them he watches over us and causes us to prosper .
One of the first teachings in the Bible, for the benefit of human beings, is how God created marriage. Genesis 2 describes how God created Eve to be Adams wife. In a profound summary statement on the purpose and meaning of marriage, Moses, the writer of Genesis, tells us the following:
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Dont Rebel Against God
It is hard to overstate how much God hates divorce. Jesus said that to divorce for unscriptural reasons and then remarry is to commit adultery. Yet many people who profess Christianity play games with God by divorcing and then cruising along as if God did not mind. They often continue to attend church and engage in spiritual activities or ministries, thinking everything is fine. They look good on the outside. But read what God says about them:
You flood the Lords altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, Why? It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
In other words, if you divorce for unscriptural reasons, you drive a wedge between yourself and God, for you are rebelling against him.
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Love Your Spouse As They Would Like To Be Loved
Understand your spouses love language to be able to love them the way they want to be lovedWe frequently make the mistake of presuming that the things that deeply affect our hearts will also affect our relationship. For example, you may believe red roses are the ideal gift, but they symbolize a waste of money and an allergic reaction to your spouse.
Abuse Often Necessitates Separation
We have now come to the most common objection to what the Bible teaches about divorce. What does Scripture teach us about emotional, physical, or other forms of abuse in a marriage?
Under inspiration, the apostle Paul describes Gods attitude to those who abuse others:
It is Gods will that you should be sanctifiedno one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.
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Gods Purposes For Marriage
it tears at the very heart of Gods redemptive plan for the world
And He answered and said, Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
There Is Hope In The Lord
There are many steps you can take to create a better marriage. Read Eight Keys to a Great Marriage, for practical insights that can transform your relationship, or read a book in the Marriage by the Book series.
God loves you and wants the best for you. As you read the Bible and grow in the Lord, you will discover principles to help you live with satisfaction and joy regardless of your situation. You will also learn many ways to transform an unsatisfying marriage into a great one.
Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God’s truths in your daily life.
Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com for practical, biblical, cross-cultural books, Bible studies, and ebooks.
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The Meaning Of Any Cause Divorce
This was a shocking statement for the crowd and for the disciples. It meant they couldnt get a divorce whenever they wanted itthere had to be a lawful cause. It also meant that virtually every divorced man or women was not really divorced, because most of them had any cause divorces. Luke and Matthew summarized the whole debate in one sentence: Any divorced person who remarried was committing adultery , because they were still married. The fact that they said any divorced person instead of virtually all divorced people is typical Jewish hyperbolelike Mark saying that everyone in Jerusalem came to be baptized by John . It may not be obvious to us, but their first readers understood clearly what they meant.
Within a few decades, however, no one understood these terms any more. Language often changes quickly . The early church, and even Jewish rabbis, forgot what the any cause divorce was, because soon after the days of Jesus, it became the only type of divorce on offer. It was simply called divorce. This meant that when Jesus condemned divorce for any cause, later generations thought he meant divorce for any cause.
What Does The Bible Say About Divorce But You Were Washed You Were Sanctified You Were Justified In The Name Of The Lord Jesus Christ And By The Spirit Of Our God
Paul described people who came into the life of the church and how God changed them through the teachings of Jesus and the discipleship of the church. He describes how these people were washed, sanctified, and justified.
While we should desire to uphold Gods truth, it should not be our intent to cause further pain or condemnation to someone who is out of step with Gods Word as they first get to know us. One of the benefits of the gospel is that we receive Gods forgiveness if we will confess our sin and turn to him. People who have experienced divorce and remarriage contrary to Gods teachings before becoming Christians or before desiring to be members of a local congregation should eventually be encouraged to make as much reconciliation for their past actions as is feasible and reasonable. Those with a divorced background will need discipling relationships where they can work out their own peace with God through prayer and study. In many cases these people will elect to stay in their current marriage situation, to trust in Gods forgiveness, and to pledge themselves to Gods teaching from this point forward and start fresh.
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What The Bible Teaches About Divorce And Remarriage
There are few issues that require more pastoral sensitivity than the issue of divorce and remarriage. Getting it wrong one way can have massive consequences, particularly for women who feel trapped in abusive and unsafe relationships. Getting it wrong the other way can bring shame and infamy upon the name of Christ. Pastors and elders therefore have a responsibility to know what the Bible says and to teach, counsel, lead, correct and discipline their people accordingly.
Divorce Is Allowed For Sexual Immorality
Jesus said you may divorce if your spouse is sexually unfaithful. Notice, however, that he did not command you to divorce. He merely said its permissible.
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.
Jesus said God only allowed divorce in the Old Testament because of the hardness of our hearts . Some people think this means Christians never should divorce since Jesus took away our hard hearts when we were born again. However, this contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9. He would not have given an exception unless he meant it.
However, it is usually better to rebuild a marriage than divorce. There are many marriages in which the offender asked for forgiveness, the betrayed partner forgave, and the two successfully rebuilt their relationship. The process was painful and involved hard work, but the results were worth the effort. God was glorified, and they ended up with great marriages.
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