The Key Passages In Scripture:
In developing Biblical perspectives and policies on divorce and remarriage in the church, pastors and elders will want to begin by wrestling with the teaching on this topic recorded in Matthew 19.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, Is it lawful to divorce ones wife for any cause?;He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,;and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast 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 not man separate.;They said to him, Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?;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.;And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for;sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.
The key word in the above passage for our purposes is the Greek word pornea translated in the ESV as sexual immorality. The word has a range of meanings, but is almost certainly a reference to the entirety of the Holiness Code as recorded in Leviticus. The Holiness Code exhaustively itemizes prohibited forms of sexuality:
Thus by pornea we can safely conclude that Jesus considered adultery, homosexual sex, incest and bestiality as constituting grounds for divorce.
The Apostle Paul Allowed Divorce For Abandonment
1 Corinthians 7:14-15
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. Yet 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.
Is It A Sin To Marry After Divorce
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.
They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
These verses can be somewhat confusing in many English translations, especially when compared to the verse cited about Moses, which seems to provide tremendous leeway for divorce. The confusion comes from the Greek word for “put away,” which is sometimes indiscriminately translated as “divorce.” But it literally just means “send away” or “separated.” It has no bearing on whether or not someone is legally and Scripturally divorced through the “writing of divorcement,” which were essentially just ancient divorce papers.;
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What Does The Bible Say
The New Testament presents a problem in understanding both what the text says about divorce and its pastoral implications. Jesus appears to say that divorce is allowed only if adultery has occurred. Whoever divorces a wife, except for sexual indecency, and remarries, commits adultery . However, this has been interpreted in many different ways. Most say that Jesus allows divorce only for adultery. But some argue that Jesus originally didnt allow even that. Only in Matthew does he offer an out from marriage: except for sexual indecency. Beyond what Jesus says, Paul also allows divorce. He permits it for abandonment by a nonbeliever . Many theologians add this as a second ground for divorce.
Yet some pastors have found this teaching difficult to accept, because it seems so impractical. Even cruel in certain situations. It suggests there can be no divorce for physical or emotional abuse, and Paul even seems to forbid separation .
The Law Of Moses Allowed Divorce For Abuse
The Law of Moses actually commanded divorce for breaking any of the three marriage vows in Exodus 21:10: food, clothing, and “marital rights,” which can be defined as love, as we read in the New Testament passages earlier.
If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
In the Book of Exodus, if a man took a second wife, it was against Gods command to reduce the first wifes food, clothing, or marital rights . He was not allowed to demote her to slave status. If he was unwilling to treat her as a wife, he had to let her go so she could marry someone who would treat her properly.
The same was true for a prisoner-of-war wife who was captured during a battle. If a man took a captive as his wife, he had to do her the honor of letting her mourn before sleeping with her. As his wife, she must be treated properly, not just raped.
The Law of Moses required divorce in cases where a man reduced his wife to a slave or tried to sell her. He had to let her go and give her the freedom to marry someone else. The husband could not treat this woman any way he wanted. She was either a wife with rights, or she had to be set free.
When a man chooses to be abusive, he breaks the covenant.An abusive man forfeits the right to remain married… Justin and Lindsey A. Holcomb
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Is Adultery The Only Biblical Reason For Divorce
You would hear most Christians adamantly agree that adultery is the only grounds for divorce sanctioned by God and that any other reason for divorce is sinful. But is that what the Bible actually says?
Does God not care for the woman beaten with fists every night? Does God not care for the woman who listens to hate spewing her way everyday? Does He care more about sex and the sexual needs of a husband than he does for the heart of the wife? For the woman who is emotionally abused or physically abused, telling her that she is never to deny her husband of his sexual pleasure is heartless.
Deuteronomy 24:1,2 says,When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.;And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another mans wife. KJV
Lets look at the New Living Translation of the same verses:Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes her a letter of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house.;When she leaves his house, she is free to marry another man.
But note that with a legal divorce document in hand, the divorcee was free to remarry.
The Role Of The Church
Believers who pursue divorce on unbiblical grounds are subject to church discipline because they openly reject the Word of God. The one who obtains an unbiblical divorce and remarries is guilty of adultery since God did not permit the original divorce . That person is subject to the steps of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. If a professing Christian violates the marriage covenant and refuses to repent during the process of church discipline, Scripture instructs that he or she should be put out of the church and treated as an unbeliever . When the discipline results in such a reclassification of the disobedient spouse as an outcast or unbeliever, the faithful partner would be free to divorce according to the provision for divorce as in the case of an unbeliever departing, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Before such a divorce, however, reasonable time should be allowed for the possibility of the unfaithful spouse returning because of the discipline.
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Purpose #: To Mirror His Image
After God created the earth and the animals, He said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. The account continues, And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them .
What does it mean to mirror Gods image? Your marriage should exalt God and glorify Him to a world that desperately needs to see who He is. Because were created in the image of God, people who wouldnt otherwise know what God is like should be able to look at us and get a glimpse of Him.
The Biblical Grounds For Divorce:
Based on the passages above, we can say with confidence that a believer may initiate divorce in the following cases:
1. Her husband has committed adultery with another mans wife.2. Her husband has had homosexual sex with a man.3. Her husband has had sex with an animal.4. Her husband has had sex with a relative.5. Her husband no longer wishes to be married to her because of her Christian faith.
In any of the five above cases the believer may;pursue a divorce.
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What Does The Bible Say About Divorce And Remarriage
The Bible is explicit about divorce and remarriage. In the Old Testament, Moses permitted a man to obtain a divorce on just about any grounds.
“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance” .
Later on, in the New Testament, when Jesus was asked about divorce, He replied that Moses gave permission to divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. He said that in the beginning it was not this way. Jesus continued:
“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, “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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” .
Obviously, when a person who does not have biblical grounds for divorce remarries, he or she is technically committing adultery.
What Does The Bible Say About Divorce & Remarriage
If your opinion about anything contradicts Gods Word, guess which one is wrong? Rick Warren
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
What does the Bible say about marriage? Marriage is created by God as lifelong institution between a man and a woman, rooted in creation, with a significance that shows in its comparison to Christs relationship with the church .; Today marriage is often defined by the emerging trends, understandings, feelings, and opinions of the culture rather than the transcendent, immutable, and eternal truth found described by the God who created it.; This change in understanding and practice has led to an overwhelming amount of marriages ending in divorce and resulting in remarriage.; Although many sociological, psychological, economic, emotional, and man-centered rationales may be created to explain and justify the practice of divorce and remarriage, the Christian perspective and practice must be rooted in a balanced and holistic application of biblical theology. ;
What the Bible say about remarriage after the death of a spouse?; God clearly permits remarriage after the death of a spouse and actually encourages remarriage for younger widows .; The only qualification for the remarriage of a widow is that the new spouse must be a Christian .
What about my happiness?; How can I be happy if I am divorced and never remarried? ;
How can I resist lust if I am divorced and not remarried?
SCRIPTURES ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
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Can I Get Remarried If I Had A Divorce
Again, youre not in some holding tank. You are free in Christ to marry again. However, if you were unable to save you marriage, I would encourage you to make sure you are slow to marry again. If you do, be sure they are a believer in Christ. Be sure they are gentle, loving, and honorable.
In fact, before you remarry, you need to first be sure you are getting your happiness and joy from Jesus. Dont expect to get all of this from a spouse. If you do, youll end up disappointed every time.
And above all, never forget they are human. They will offend you. That hurts us. Men especially have a hard time with it. ;Our ability to forgive our spouses greatly improves the quality of our marriage.
Take Away: If you are married, then stay married, if you can. Thats Gods heart. If you cant, then God will not punish you. He wont ignore your prayers or withhold blessings. You are not blessed because of your goodness. Youre blessed because of HIS goodness.
Your sins are dealt with.
But above all, if you are married, and as long as it depends on you, let your marriage reflect Jesus. Be forgiving, loving, and kind. Jesus is love.
I want to leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
This is how God treats us, even when we sin. That includes the sin of divorce or adultery. So, a piece of advice for those still married. Try your best to let Jesus be shown in all of your life. Live out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in your day-to-day lives. Your marriage will be much stronger if you do.
About Mike Cynar
What Are The Biblical Grounds For Divorce
As we understand what are the biblical reasons for divorce, we also have to clearly know what the Bible says about these grounds. After Jesus refers to our Gods original purposes for marriage, He then asks, Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away? just then, Jesus answers,
Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery .
What areBiblical grounds for divorce? It clearly states here that if one spouse commits adultery, then it is granted permission but as a rule for Christianity. Divorce is still not the immediate decision to be granted. Rather, they would stilltry reconciliation, forgiveness, and to extend the Biblical teachings of God about marriage. Only if, this doesnt work that the request for divorce shall be granted.
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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. .
The Grounds For Divorce
The only New Testament grounds for divorce are sexual sin or desertion by an unbeliever. The first is found in Jesus use of the Greek word porneia . This is a general term that encompasses sexual sin such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest. When one partner violates the unity and intimacy of a marriage by sexual sinand forsakes his or her covenant obligationthe faithful partner is placed in an extremely difficult situation. After all means are exhausted to bring the sinning partner to repentance, the Bible permits release for the faithful partner through divorce .
The second reason for permitting a divorce is in cases where an unbelieving mate does not desire to live with his or her believing spouse . Because God has called us to peace , divorce is allowed and may be preferable in such situations. When an unbeliever desires to leave, trying to keep him or her in the marriage may only create greater tension and conflict. Also, if the unbeliever leaves the marital relationship permanently but is not willing to file for divorce, perhaps because of lifestyle, irresponsibility, or to avoid monetary obligations, then the believer is in an impossible situation of having legal and moral obligations that he or she cannot fulfill. Because the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases and is therefore no longer obligated to remain married, the believer may file for divorce without fearing the displeasure of God.
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