DIVORCE.


There is little doubt from what Christ is saying in Mat 19, and quoting from Gen 2,  Christ understood that originally God intended marriage to be for life.

All quotes from NLT, unless otherwise stated.

Mat 19:4-6  Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And he said, ‘this explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.”

In the Christian world, there are many examples where marriages have continued until the death of one of the marriage partners. This is not to say that all marriage's have been perfect, but the husband and wife have kept to their marriage vows despite hardships and differences along the way.

However, from time to time, it becomes apparent that two married people are unable to sort out their differences and get along. In these cases – is divorce an option?

As far as divorce goes, we have the example of God saying that He has “divorced faithless Israel”. The Hebrew word that has been translated as “divorce” is H3748 – a cutting (of the matrimonial bond). I will include extra verses on either side of verse 8 to give some idea of the conditions surrounding this divorce of Israel from God.


Jer 3:6-10  6During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel does? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me. But she did not come back. And though her faithless sister Judah saw this, 8 she paid no attention. She saw that I had divorced faithless Israel and sent her away. But now Judah, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. 9 Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been greatly defiled. 10But in spite of all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry,” says the LORD.

Our Lord, in Mat 19:9, indicates that divorce can take place where “sexual immorality”(NKJV) is involved.

Mat 19:9  And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

The apostle Paul also indicates in 1 Cor 7:15, that divorce is possible if an unbeliever departs.

1 Cor 7:15  (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.)

From what we have read so far, it seems that divorce is allowed in extremely dysfunctional marriages, and there is no “sin” assigned to either party because of the divorce - of course, the sin of adultery would apply if that were involved.

However, sooner or later after a divorce, the question often comes up “Can I remarry?”. This is a much more difficult question to answer.

First up, we believe that when a person is called and they bring forth fruits of repentance and are baptized, the sins of their former life are washed clean.

1Co 6:11 NLT  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Heb 10:22 NLT  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Rev 7:14 NLT  And I said to him, "Sir, you are the one who knows." Then he said to me, "These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

This washing includes the sin of divorce, along with all the other sins. So a newly converted person is free to marry, but “only in the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39). We take this to mean that they can only marry someone who is also converted, and according to the rules of the Bible.

The second group, are those where the divorce took place because of adultery. We might add here that adultery does not have to be an automatic “deal breaker”. Just as God forgives us all our past sins, so too we should be willing to forgive others their past sins. If there is genuine repentance and change, then the husband and wife can work through the problem, and continue on from a very low point to build a stronger marriage.

However, if adultery does become a “deal breaker”, then the indication from Mat 19:9 is that the innocent party is free to remarry.

A third group are those whose spouse is not converted, and want to leave.

1 Cor 7:15  (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.)

While the Scriptures do not specifically say that Christians who have had an unbelieving spouse leave, are free to remarry, the indication is that they are. However, if Christian couples choose to divorce, then the Scriptures indicate that they should remain single.

1 Cor 7:10,11  Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

Mat 19:9 And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.

The above verses tell us that if divorce takes place in a Christian marriage and the spouse has not been “unfaithful”, then remarriage for either party would be going against God’s instructions.

Understanding how "final" divorce can be, it should make us be much more careful about who we marry in the first place. You should want the marriage to have every chance of success in the long term, so just relying on our "feelings" (which could be contaminated with a little bit of lust) is not a good way to start. As marriage is a life-time commitment, we have to look for a partner that has depth of character, and the skills (or willing to learn the skills) that their role will require.

As I touch on some of these points in the article "The Role of Men and Women as Outlined in the Bible", it could be worth your time to read it.

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