Is divorce an option?

Allen Cothran

We sat there silently, not saying the word. I stared blankly at the wall while my wife rocked back and forth, seemingly numb from the years of broken promises and disappointment. We both knew the potential outcome, although neither of us would say the word out loud.

Growing up, I’d looked down on couples who’d divorced. I saw it as a sign of weakness. Then God allowed me to experience some difficulty in life and marriage. Suddenly the issue seemed a bit less black and white.

The Difficult Truth About Marriage

Christians have been known to say, “divorce is not an option.” But we all know divorce is most definitely an option. Ask any attorney. I have the option, at any moment, to throw in the towel. In fact, based on the reasoning behind most divorce, every marriage should end. Most often, couples cite “irreconcilable differences” as their reason for ending a marriage.

Ask the couples you know. There is not a couple on the planet that does not have some irreconcilable difference. That being the case, there is no marriage that does not meet the legal requirement for divorce.

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?

Scripture is not unclear about how God feels about divorce. Malachi 2:16 (NASB) says He hates it. But sometimes we get confused and assume that because God hates divorce, He also hates those caught up in it. This is absolutely untrue.

Jesus addresses divorce three times in Scripture: during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:31-32, in Luke 16:18, and in parallel accounts recorded in Matthew 19:3-9 and Mark 10:1-12. While some argue that these passages offer different teaching on the topic of divorce, the point Jesus makes consistently is that divorce is to be avoided.

3 Reasons Some Marriages End in Divorce—and the Search for God’s Best

1. Divorce as a Result of Abuse

Psalm 91 notes that God is a protector. He does not call anyone to remain in an abusive environment.  

Though abuse presents a myriad of challenges, it is not a death sentence for a marriage. God can redeem us from anything. Anything. If you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Get safe.
  • Get help.

More than any other issue in marriage, restoring a formerly abusive relationship requires outside help because the safety of one or both parties is at stake. Our church can help you through this process. Please visit the Care Room after a Sunday service at NewSpring or send us a confidential message immediately.

2. Divorce as a Result of Adultery

This situation is addressed most specifically in Scripture. On multiple occasions, the infidelity of a spouse is given as biblical grounds for divorce.

But when we approach a decision asking, “What am I allowed to do?” we often fail to secure God’s best for us. God gives us great liberty through grace.

When we approach a decision asking, “What am I allowed to do?” we often fail to secure God’s best for us.

Matthew 5 is particularly interesting when it comes to Jesus’ teaching on divorce. He addresses and defines adultery immediately prior to His words on divorce. By His definition, adultery is lust. Every one of us has been guilty of it at some point. Using these few verses—words spoken by Jesus—any married person has the “right” to divorce because we’ve all been unfaithful. Right?

Certainly, Jesus wasn’t saying all of us who are married and have struggled with lust should divorce. Rather, He points us to the fact that even though we may have reason to divorce, He consistently discourages it because it’s not God’s best for us.

Again, if adultery is part of your past or present, reach out for help. Our church can help.

3. Divorce as a Result of Abandonment

What is a married person to do if a spouse simply walks away? The Christian’s approach should be the same:

  • Pray.
  • Seek godly counsel.
  • Act from facts, not emotions.
  • Take some time.

God hates divorce, not because of some arbitrary standard He set at the beginning of time, but because it causes pain to those He loves. He hates it in the same way I hate those things that threaten to cause my children pain. God wants the best for you because He loves you.

If you’re considering divorce or dealing with its aftermath, we want to help you. Sign up now and you'll receive a weekly email guiding you on a 6-week journey toward a better marriage.

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