Biblical Divorce: Summary

In 1980, my first husband and I divorced. I had yet to find the Lord, but my spirit still grieved–not because I needed or desired to remain with this man, but because I knew I had broken my vow.

Through the years–I’ve studied the topic extensively. I did not want to stay single, nor did I want to grieve God. I asked ministers, and here are a few of the answers they gave. None resonated with me:

  1. Even if you weren’t saved before you divorced, you still can never marry until that husband dies.
  2. By marrying someone else, you commit adultery. By committing adultery, you break your vows and thus the new marriage is okay.
  3. Did you ever pray about getting married? If not, then it wasn’t sanctified by Jesus.
All these men, except the first, grappled with the idea that a lifetime of loneliness because of one sin grieved humans. Most ministers looked for mercy–yet some defined divorce as the unpardonable sin.
In my life, God gave me a Biblical justification. My ex-husband had been unfaithful. I did not get concrete confirmation until after we agreed to divorce. Without that certainty, I still could not have stayed with him.
He never hit me, but he was emotionally abusive. He desired to control me and keep me from anyone that could take my complete loyalty away from him. And I say these things with the utmost humility and Godly love for this man. He fathered my daughter, one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. I’ve forgiven him, and I pray for him.
I do believe whom God has joined together, no man should part (Matt. 19:6).
However, marriage is more than a paper signed by two people–as is divorce. Many married couples still live together, have sex together, but have divorced the other in his or her heart. That, in itself, is divorce. If you’re married–the husband is commanded to love his wife, and she must respect him. We cannot remain married and fail to do this. It is sin.
Through the years, I’ve come to see Biblical divorce as protection for the woman. A man could mary many women. If his wife was put out–she had nothing: no job, no alimony, no children because they stayed with the husband. If her family did not take her in, she, more than likely, had only prostitution to turn to.
If we look at the New Testament scriptures, virtually all of them talk about divorcing a wife (or at least primarily).


Deutsch: Christus und die Ehebrecherin, Alte P...
Deutsch: Christus und die Ehebrecherin, Alte Pinakothek, Raum 17, Inv.-Nr. 1217 DSCF4774.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matt 5:31-32 “…whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality…whoever marries a woman who is divorced…” This section does not talk about the man.

Mark 10:10-12  talks about a man divorcing his wife and vice versa.
Luke 16:18  “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. “
Mark 10:2-12  vs 8 “He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 again couches it only toward the woman.
In most of the above Scriptures, Jesus acknowledges divorce only for unfaithfulness–and usually of the woman toward the man.
I see two elements here. If a woman cheats, the man cannot know whose progeny he’s supporting. He needs to be freed from that onerous obligation.
But this protects the woman. As I said earlier, the usual recourse for a divorced woman with no family was destitution–prostitution–misery. Jesus was protecting the woman from men who had the ability to divorce her because she gave him wrinkled clothes or burned the lentils.
The only other New Testament concession to divorce has been termed desertion. Yet, if you wish to be a legalist, it would only be desertion of an unbelieving spouse, not a believer. Read 1 Cor 7:10-16 carefully.
So where does that leave us if a woman is battered and bruised? Is brought to the edge of suicide because of emotional abuse? If a Christian man leaves her? What if she (or he) simply ruins the marriage and it ends? (read the blog that follows this for more information).
There is only one unpardonable sin, and that’s not divorce (Matt. 12:31). We can find forgiveness–but don’t be cavalier about it. Repentance only comes from God, and I wouldn’t want to gamble that He’ll knock sorrow into my thick skull.
So how do we prevent divorce? There are solutions. Leave any suggestions you may have or tune in next week.

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