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Divorce: What does the Bible Say?

Updated on June 8, 2015

God hates divorce.

Divorce and the Bible

For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously (Malachi 2:16).

Simply speaking, this verse means God hates divorce. Marriage was instituted by God. It was an integral part of His divine plan for humans He created. However, as we all know, Adam and Eve threw a monkey wrench into that plan. Still, God loves us and understands divorce brings pain and suffering into the lives of those taking that path.

Some Bible scholars have argued the Bible offers no grounds to justify divorce. Others contend there is, including remarriage. For instance, Matthew 19:1-9 seems to indicate divorce is permitted in cases concerning adultery.

In 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 Paul admonishes those who are married to remain married, but they are not required to.

It might be surprising to some there is much evidence supporting the fact divorced couples suffer more mental and physical diseases, including cancer. In addition premature death rates are much higher for divorced couples compared to those of married persons of comparable ages and sex. Physicians point to depression as the base cause.

Changes in Relationships

Changes in relationships can lead to loneliness, isolation, and rejection. Anger and bitterness are also at the top of that list. If there are children involved the matter becomes even more complicated. First, the wife is usually awarded custody of their children. The result is a single parent family, with the wife shouldering much more responsibility and former husband feeling left out.

However, the problem doesn't end there. The relationship between the divorced couple isn't over, merely changed. It now becomes more of a business relationship. Child support and visitation rights must be arranged and will continue until the children become adults. The once married couple frequently become adversaries.

And what about the husband? His living arrangements usually become modest and he has no one to come home to. His role as a husband and father have dramatically changed. He is no longer the sole provider, helper, or counselor. These roles once largely defined his identity, shaped his self-esteem, but now are gone.

The children will also be affected. Grief, as well as a loss of identity are their lot. Their fundamental security base is gone. Children of divorce often develop a number of problems such as fear of abandonment. They also tend to blame themselves, particularly younger children. Parents, to them, are infallible and incapable of making mistakes. Therefore, it must be their fault.

And there is always the never ending hope their parents will reconcile. These children will often do anything to get them back together, if even for brief periods. They may become disruptive at school, getting into fights or letting their grades slide. The reasons are unimportant, but since parents are often dealing with their own adult problems, attention to their children is usually neglected. As the years progress they are afraid of taking sides.

God laid out His plan for marriage as a lifelong union. When we stray from His plan, we see the results are damaging on many levels. Unfortunately, the divorce rate in the church is comparable to the rest of society. Many Christians see nothing wrong with divorce. But the Bible clearly addresses the topic.

Marriage is the first institution created by God. God made the first man, Adam, but saw it was not good for him to be alone. God then created a woman, Eve, for Adam. The creation of marriage occurred prior to sin's entrance into the world.

God emphasizes three principles:

  • Marriage is sacred

  • God hates divorce

  • Marriage is designed to produce children of good character.

The apostle Paul taught marital relationship is an ongoing demonstration of the sacrificial love Christ showed His church andJesus repeatedly emphasized the importance and permanence of marriage.

Divorce is the destruction of the foundation of all societies – the family unit. Sometimes, it's necessary. Sometimes, even unavoidable. For example, some states have what's called no-fault divorce. If one spouse files for divorce the other can't stop it.

We in the body of Christ encourage those considering divorce to seek counseling, because most divorces are neither necessary or unavoidable. Divorce isn't required in most cases. If you are concerned about whether you have biblical grounds for divorce, you need to commit the matter to prayer and study. Seek counsel from a pastor or licensed Christian counselor. Sin can't be taken lightly. But there might be biblical grounds:

  • When one's mate is guilty of sexual immorality and is unrepentant. Jesus' words in (refer back to Matthew 19:8-9) show in such cases divorce and remarriage are allowed.

If your spouse has committed adultery, divorce is morally allowed, but not required. Many couples have been able to rebuild their marriages even in those concerning adultery.

  • When one spouse is not a Christian, and willfully deserts.

The point is, according to Scripture, divorce and remarriage appear to be justified in only in a few instances. If you are Christian, pray carefully about any decisions to divorce.

Another option is to consider a legal separation first. This will allow both partners more time to ponder the situation and not rashly rush into any hasty decision.


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