What does the Bible say about the possibility for the Christians to get a divorce? What is God’s attitude toward it? And are there cases when divorce is possible and won’t be a sin? Here is what we know.
The sad reality of today’s marriages shows us that people from all over the world and despite their religious beliefs get divorces. Husbands and wives consider divorce a better option than fighting for marriage, forgiving, and giving their spouses second chances.
The truth is that according to the trusted sources like the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University reports that out of every 1,000 married women in 2014, 17.6 experienced a divorce that year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention base their numbers off of total population rather than only married people. They found that only a couple of years ago there were a bit less than seven marriages per 1,000 members of the total population, while there were slightly more than three divorces or annulments per 1,000 members of the overall community that same year. (It’s important to note that, by and large, the number of those marrying in any given year is not the same group which is divorcing.)
This makes me sorrowful. However, divorces have now become a popular decision in the Christian circles as well. In fact, the Christianity today states that ““Contrary to popular belief, Christians and members of other religions have lower divorce rates, about 42%, than do the religiously unaffiliated, about 50%.” He goes on to explain that, for evangelicals, regular attendance at religious services makes a significant impact on the divorce rate: “60% of the never-attendees had been divorced or were separated compared to only 38% of the weekly attendees.” While regular church attendance does seem to make a difference in the health and preservation of marriage, nonetheless divorce rates are still pretty high in the church. In his book, Wright says, “The percentage of divorced or separated Evangelicals almost doubled from the 1970s to the 2000s (25 to 46%).” This survey was conducted by the General Social Survey.
These figures only show how far people went from what God designed as an ideal marriage. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:18-33)
Does God allow divorce?
This is a wrong question. In the beginning, when God created the idea of marriage, He had no intention to let the husbands and wives break the vows they gave to each other as well as remarriage. This was not the plan. However, knowing that people are stubborn and will have their way, God had created a certain procedure that would restrict the options for people who want to get a divorce.
When does God allow divorce?
The scholars that worked on the investigation of this issue, state that there are several options when God allows people to file a divorce. They are the sexual immorality of the husband or a wife, or when the spouse that is not a Christian leaves the marriage. Then the person that was not the initiator or the cause for such a decision can be considered free to remarry.
In the first case, the Bible does not encourage marriage. On the contrary, the path that God describes in such a way states that there should be the consulting of the wise elders of the church that would help the couple to forgive each other and establish peace in the family again.
However, if the person that committed adultery is not feeling guilty or seeking peace even when several people are telling him to repent, then this person should be considered as an unbeliever. And then, the same rule works for him as for a non-Christian family member that wants to leave the family: he s free to do what he wants, and the Christian spouse is considered free and single in an individual meaning.
Nevertheless, I read a fantastic article on the Desiring God resources about the divorce. The author there is talking about the marriages that were in the Old Testament. A lot of them were horrible. As he says, “every marriage is a bad marriage. They're all painful. He took every patriarch's marriage and showed how horrible they were. You've got polygamy involved, you've got Hagar and concubines involved. Every marriage you look at in the Old Testament is horrible! And there is no divorce anywhere in the Old Testament among patriarchs. They all endured. They all gutted it out. But it was just a mess! It was horrible.”
However, then comes the book of Hosea where God demonstrates how He love His people, and therefore, how men are supposed to love their wives. God never left His people. Even after they have turned away from Him, He keeps on loving them, just like Hosea loved his wife that was previously a prostitute and left him for one of her lovers.
As Piper ends up this article, “It was really quite powerful for me at a particular stage in my marriage to hear Bromiley point out with illustration after illustration how many bad marriages there were in the Old Testament and how none of them ended in divorce.”
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This shows us how painful divorce is for God and people. God doesn’t approve of marriage for one more reason. Let’s look at the Ephesians again.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
This verse puts an end to all the discussions. We new supposed to love our spouses as much as God loves His people. Don’t these people turn away from Him only to follow some sinful desire of their hearts? Yes, they do, and all the time.
Don’t they hurt Him and violate the rules established for their relationship? Yes, they do. And yet God never lets them go and decides to stop take care of them. On the contrary, He cries with us, waits for us to come back, protects us, and nourishes us as no other person would ever do. Therefore, if only people stick to this idea and the example of love God set for us, they would never need to file a divorce.
Does God allow divorce for abuse?
This is very personal. Let’s say a person is beating his wife for no reason. He is sinning against God. I still keep the Old Testament marriages in mind: they had troubles as well, and they remained together.
It is not an excuse for a person that violates the rights of his spouse to keep doing what he is doing. However, this reminds us that there are always the counselors that can help you treat these troubles as well as the church community to help you go through these hard times, as this behavior is pointing to the wrong motives in your heart. However, you should always fight for your marriage.
But there does come the point where discretion is the better part of valor. Some people are too ready to grasp at that point; others wait much longer than they should. Jesus told those persecuted for his name to flee from one city to another to escape persecution, and sometimes the apostles did so. It is heartless to make someone remain in an abusive situation.
The Scriptures show a pervasive concern for justice and are concerned with protecting the vulnerable; it also teaches that believers can glorify God by bearing up under unjust suffering. This calls for wisdom and balance.
This is what we have found about the fact whether God in the Bible allows divorce or not. We highly recommend you reading the Bible yourself to make sure you understand the teaching well and agree with the statements we have mentioned here.
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