What Does the Bible Say About Divorce – The Bible’s Take on Divorce

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce – The Bible’s Take on Divorce

what does the Bible say about divorce - ChristGoods
The global divorce rate has shot up by a whopping 251.8% since 1960! In 2014 alone, 46.37% of marriages headed to the courtroom as per reports from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Are you wondering if religion plays a significant role to bring down the divorce rate? Well, findings from a survey held from 2000 to 2006 by the General Social Survey suggests that religious people have a lower divorce rate at 42% while those who are religiously unaffiliated have a higher rate of divorces at 50%. Speaking of religion, the very next question that pops up even in a remotely Christian mind is, “What does the Bible say about divorce?” So, let’s take a plunge into the Holy Scriptures to find out the answer to this pressing question.

The Bible’s take on Marriage 

To have a fair understanding of God’s opinion on divorce and what does the Bible say about divorce, we must get to the bottom of marriage itself. In Mathew 19:3-9, the Pharisees and Jesus have an interesting conversation that reveals God’s purpose for marriage. As an answer to the Pharisees’ question, Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from 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, they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” This quote reveals that the Bible sees marriage as a glue that unites two souls into one, two different bodies united into “one flesh.” The ties of holy matrimony between a man and his bride are, therefore, everlasting.

The Biblical Grounds for Divorce 

  1. Sexual Immortality 

Once Jesus throws light on God’s purpose of marriage; the Pharisees ask, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” To this, Jesus says, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed 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.” So, the first ground for divorce that is approved by the Bible is in the case of sexual immorality. The term “sexual immorality” has been translated in ESV from the Greek term "pornea." Pornea refers to the Holiness Code as recorded in Leviticus, which enumerates prohibited sexual activities in the Bible. Simply put, incidents of adultery, homosexual sex, incest, or bestiality by one’s spouse gives them the right to divorce justifiably by the Holy Bible. However, forgiveness and reconciliation must be pursued and preferred over a divorce unless the sinning spouse continues to pursue infidelity.
  1. Spiritual Incompatibility 

The second ground for divorce was added in the 1 Corinthians 7 by the Apostle Paul. He says,

“To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” 

Thus, the second justification for a divorce in the Bible arises when a spouse abandons their significant other on the basis of spiritual incompatibility. However, it definitely encourages a couple to stay together even if they each have a different take on spirituality and religion. Paul says that an evangelist husband or wife can make their significant other holy through their bond of matrimony even if the other person happens to be a non-believer.


    Cruelty and Violence in Marriage 

The Bible does not explicitly acknowledge physical or mental abuse as a ground for divorce; however, a man who abuses his wife is definitely a sinner.

The Bible advises husbands to 

“live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” 1 Peter 3:7 ESV. 

An abused woman must bring this issue to the church. If the attempt to discipline the spouse fails, then, he shall be excommunicated. This would mean that the woman is married to an “unbeliever” which opens the grounds for divorce based on spiritual incompatibility. This is all what does the Bible say about divorce. It definitely holds marriage as the most important institution; however, it does not shy away from discussing what could possibly bring the demise of this holy union.

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