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The Mailbag: Is it all right for a Christian to get divorced?

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Is it all right for a Christian to get divorced? What are the biblical grounds for divorce?

God holds marriage in very high esteem because it is a picture of Christ and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22ff). In Matthew 19:1-9, Jesus is clear that marriage is precious and not to be discarded carelessly as it was in the Old Testament under the Mosaic covenant. Here, He also gives us one of two reasons Christians may (but are not required to) biblically divorce: adultery.

The second reason Christians may divorce on biblical grounds is found in 1 Corinthians 7:15. If an unbelieving spouse abandons the believing spouse, the believer is not held to the bonds of marriage and may divorce.

Naturally, divorce is a last resort even in these two situations. There are many beautiful stories of marriages surviving adultery through forgiveness. As well, there are many husbands who have been saved after witnessing their wives’ faithfulness to Christ. God’s desire is always for reconciliation whenever possible.

Additional Resources:

Biblical Grounds for Divorce at Reformation 21

Divorce and Remarriage at Grace to You


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

2 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Is it all right for a Christian to get divorced?”

  1. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before. What is one spouse is a persistent, unrepentant, ongoing reviler? Is that cause for divorce? How do we reconcile all the verses in the Bible that say to stay away from a reviler with the two causes you state in your post? Can an ongoing reviler, who “professes” their belief in Jesus as Lord and Savoir, really be a true Christian? Is ongoing, chronic, persistent reviling within the bonds of marriage proof the abuser (reviler) is not of the elect?

    Thank you,
    S/G

    Like

    1. I don’t think it would be wise for me – without knowing the two spouses or the precise nature of the circumstances – to make a definitive statement about whether or not divorce is biblically allowable in that situation.

      At first blush, if the reviling spouse has not left the believing spouse, it would seem that this falls under 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 (if a believer has an {ostensibly} unbelieving spouse who consents to live with her, she should not divorce him).

      My recommendations to a person in this situation would be the following:

      1. Divorce, even in clear cut adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, is a last resort. Do everything in your power to save the marriage before seeking a divorce.

      2. The most important thing you can do is to pray fervently and faithfully for your spouse and your marriage. Ask other trusted, close loved ones to pray as well. Do not discount prayer as unimportant. God is the only one who can change hearts, and that’s what your spouse needs- a changed heart.

      3. Thoroughly study everything the Bible has to say about marriage and divorce, and ask God to help you to obey it and apply it to your life and marriage. In this instance, I would recommend starting with 1 Corinthians 7:10-17, 1 Peter 3:1-7, and Ephesians 5:22-33.

      4. Get some good pastoral counseling, from your pastor, a trusted mature Christian friend, or a trained biblical counselor (https://biblicalcounseling.com/).

      5. With counsel, after much prayer and study, and if it’s absolutely called for, keep in mind that temporarily living separately (and absolutely celibately in body, heart, and mind) with an eye to cooling off and still putting the marriage back together, is not the same thing as divorce. I would call this the second to last resort after all other options have been exhausted.

      Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

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