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Divorce and the Bible?

The following is a short email discussion about divorce.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 3:00 AM
Subject: Problem

Hullo there,
I am a christian who has a problem I would like fellow like minded believers to help me with. I am a 42 year old lady christian brought up in a christian family. I was a real babe in Christ for the first 40 years of my life and during that time of spiritual immaturity I made many major life decisions including getting married without involving God in my decision.

Needless to say things did not go well in my marriage or in my life in general and I am married to someone who by his behaviour and speech I judge not to be a christian. He also says that he does not want to change himself. After going through a series of crises in the last three years praise God I have moved on to becoming a spiritually mature christian. My husband and I though do not get along well at all and the situation is such that my children and I are dependant on him finacially. I am working and praying towards finacial independance and would prefer that we were divorced.

I realise the bible is written for believers and I have not found scriptures that deal specifically with whether divorce is right or wrong for a beliver married to an unbeliever. I have found plenty advicing believer married to believer. I cant imagine that God would want us to continue living in the current disharmony even though He does not like divorce.

Do you have any opinion or experience with similar situations?


Hi P*****,

You asked if I had any opinions or experience on issues related to marriage and divorce, well, no I do not have any experience with dealing with such issues, and I don't think my opinions are important, what really matters is what is God's opinion, for if we have chosen to make Jesus Christ the Lord of our life, we need to ask in every situation: "What is it you want me to do Lord?" And God has revealed to us many things about His will in the Bible, and the Bible is not silent about marriage and divorce. Here are a few Scriptures that I have found about divorce:

Matthew 5:32
But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Matthew 19:3-12
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female,' and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" 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. 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." His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry."

Luke 16:18
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

1 Corinthians 7:10-16
Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Basically I understand these Scriptures as saying that divorce is not the way to go in your situation. For under the New Testament there are only two reasons for which a person is permitted but not obliged to have divorce:
-Infidelity of the spouse
-An unbelieving spouse abandons you

This may be a hard truth to swallow, just remember God does know what is best, and He does not give us laws and commandments to make our life difficult and miserable, he gives us laws because He loves us and wants the best for us, our family and our community.

Many people say that their life is miserable because of their job, marriage, financial situation or something else, they change partners, jobs, houses, cars, etc... trying to get rid of the problems, but they fail to realise that the problem is not their circumstances, but it is how they deal with their circumstances. Instead of changing our circumstances, we sometimes need to change ourselves. This is difficult to admit, that the real problem is sometimes in our own heart, or our own attitude, or our own behaviour.

Many times we pray for God to change our circumstances, and instead of changing our circumstances, God changes us. God is in the business of changing hearts and transforming lives, we need to surrender our lives to Him and ask Him for help in doing the right thing. Because with God's help nothing is impossible, He can bring you joy and peace even in the most difficult circumstances, you need to trust Him, the fact is divorces create only more problems, they do not fix anything.

My advice is love your husband, and pray to God for help to be everything He has created you to be. Trust God and have faith in Him to work a miracle in your marriage relationship. To get a divorce would be to give up on God, it is like saying to Him "I don't believe you can fix this problem, so I will just try and remove it myself."

Relationships are like gardens, they need time and attention. Love it, Weed it, water it, prune it, care for it, protect it and it will flourish and bloom. Neglect it and it will wither and become infested with weeds. We reap what we sow. Sowing kind and loving words and actions is like sprinkling the relationship with nutrients, but sowing unkind words and actions is like sowing weeds.

Scripture also says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), It only brings pain and suffering, especially to the innocent children. Divorce corrodes society, for it destroys families that are the building block of society. Divorce is always contrary to God's will.

Anyway, I pray that you stay strong in the faith, and seek to know the truth, live the truth, and spread the truth.

May God bless you, your marriage and your family with many blessings

Thank you and God bless you for your encouraging and true words. With alot of prayer and meditation on the scriptures you suggested which I too had just been led by the Spirit to read, I am in the process of allowing God to change me even more through His Holy Spirit to become what He purposed me to be. I realise now and accept that the only person I can change is myself with Gods help but I can certainly pray for others to become what God intended them to be not what I would prefer them to be.

What you said about trusting God and His word rather than trusting myself to know better really made an impression on me. I had never looked at it quite that way. I am now more aware of walking in the Spirit and acknowledging God in everything.
Thank you. P******
Brought to you by Terje Ronneberg
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