On Marriage and Divorce
When God created man and woman he brought them together in a union intended to last
their lifetime. Today marriage seems to have lost its value as many enter into it
lightly, and when dissatisfied, casually take their leave.
The recent statistics point to one in two marriages ending in divorce. This is a
sad reflection of a world in which commitment and covenant are alien concepts, but
family breakdown and spousal abuse, the norm. Indeed, the Word of God states that
one of the signs that human civilization is approaching its own end is that people
will become covenant breakers. (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)
This is not what God intended. Marriage is to be a lifelong commitment between two
partners who, together, fulfill the purpose of God for their individual and united
lives. The strength of this union is so powerful that the Word of God uses it to
parallel the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians
In reality, many enter marriage without the right foundations, ill-equipped to fulfill
their roles, and unable to make the necessary adjustments for the relationship to
work. When total collapse is evident, divorce seems inevitable.
Divorce is almost always painful. Regardless of how shallow the initial feelings
of love or desire, hearts are broken when the fateful decision is made. Where lives
have been intermingled for years, the process of healing may take as long. It is
even more difficult where children are involved for they often blame themselves
and struggle for a sense of identity and belonging.
God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It indicates a violent
internal resistance to the covenant relationship He established. All divorce stems
from a failure of one or both partners to live in accordance with scriptural guidelines
for love, trust, commitment, and understanding. God recognizes that men and women
are stubborn and hard-hearted (Matthew 19:8). It is
for this reason that the Word of God permits divorce in certain situations.
Under the Old Testament law, a wife was at the mercy of her husband who could divorce
her if he were not pleased with her (Deuteronomy 24:1). Jesus clarified this as
a concession but reiterated that it was a deviation from the original intent (Matthew 19:1-12). He further narrowed this exception
declaring that divorce is only permissible where there is sexual unfaithfulness.
To counteract the abuses of the wife under the old law, and contrary to the social
and cultural values of the time, Jesus shifted the focus from the man's liberty
to his responsibility for the woman's condition.
Further guidelines are provided where the situation involves a Christian believer
married to an unbeliever. Again, the general rule is that marriage is for life.
If a partner becomes born again, he or she is not required to immediately sever
the marriage, if the non-believing spouse is content to remain in the marriage.
But if the nonbeliever desires to leave, the Christian is not obligated to remain
in the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).
There are many other situations for which the Bible does not provide specific guidelines.
Consequently, some misguided spouses, particularly women, have been forced to stay
in relationships that are contrary to God's plan and purpose for marriage. An unclear
understanding of God's word is no reason to stay in an abusive relationship. The
standard for marital relations remains the love that Christ has for his Church (Ephesians 6:24).
For those seeking to start over, God is a God of forgiveness who can cleanse hearts
and consciences of past failures. It is in submitting our lives to the God of love
and the Creator of marriage that we are empowered to be successful, loving and trustworthy