The word ‘divorce’ seems to be a common household term and the sad reality for many children as they grow up without the loving display of parents who care intimately for one another. Even within the church divorce appears common and some pastors are happy to advise people should get divorced.
However, for Christians, the final word on divorce must be what the Bible says; not a pastor, a psychologist, or the media.
To start with, it’s important to understand that God instituted marriage and therefore, He has the authority to define marriage and divorce (see Genesis 2:24). God’s standard and design for marriage is another issue in itself, but, let me concentrate on the issue of divorce at present.
Bible offers clarity
The Bible is certainly clear about the issue of divorce, with God giving us direct revelation on the topic that believers must obey if they are truly living out God’s will. Several verses in Scripture highlight God’s feelings toward divorce, this is most strongly stated in Malachi chapter 2, verse 16 “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel.”
This clear and direct statement were supported by Jesus’ own teaching when He said that people should not divorce because God had united them together and people don’t have any right to split and that Moses’ concession for divorce was based on rebellious hearts, not the purpose of God (Matthew chapter 19, verses 1-9).
Going against culture
This might seem harsh and completely opposite to the current culture, but it is also important to understand that marriage is designed by God to represent the relationship between Christ and the church. In essence marriage is a demonstration of the Gospel, because Jesus Christ loved His bride (the church) so much that He gave up His very life for her, just as a husband is commanded to sacrificially love His wife (Ephesians chapter 5).
This love of Jesus is personal and the relationship between Jesus and believers cannot be broken, so too the marriage relationship should be personal and remain unbroken.
While God’s view of divorce is clear, there are some passages in the New Testament that provide limited reasons for divorce. These reasons certainly do not demand divorce and it would be a much better witness and biblical response to continue in marriage even if these reasons may be involved.
However, if the marriage relationship is extremely severed and seemingly unrepairable God provides two (only two!) reasons for divorce. The first reason is adultery or related immoral sin (see Matthew chapter 5, verses 31-32 and chapter 19, verse 9) and the second if a non-believing spouse abandons the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:15).
Biblical reasons for divorce
That’s it! God gives only two reasons for divorce. I realize this might be shocking and it is hard to follow this standard when emotions are involved, when abuse may be occurring, and a couple may have ‘fallen out of love,’ but this is God’s Word and must be followed.
However, while being direct, I understand there may be personal situations that need to be addressed if people are in danger. These situations definitely require intervention, although I would advocate that such intervention can be applied without divorce.
If you read this and you are divorced without biblical reasons, I would urge you to repent before God and seek the forgiveness of your former spouse. Even more than this, if possible and without breaking a current marriage, you could also attempt to restore your marriage.
If you are remarried or have married a divorcee, without the divorce being biblical, it is important you also seek God for forgiveness, because the Bible says this is adultery (Mark 10:11-12).
Whatever the status of your marriage, I would also urge you and your spouse to commit to never using the word ‘divorce’ in any conversation you have regarding your relationship, no matter what they may do or say to hurt you.
Furthermore, if you know someone thinking about divorce (even if they aren’t a believer), I encourage you to speak to them about God’s design for marriage and His hatred towards divorce.
I realize there is much more to talk about relating to divorce, including remarriage and preconversion divorce. If you want more information please look at my church website for more discussion https://www.gracechurch.org/about/distinctives/divorce-and-remarriage
Genevieve Wilson is a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.
Genevieve Wilson is Canadian. a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.