It is a sad fact of life that divorce in our 21st century society is on the rise. In the US alone nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and statistics among Christian marriages reflect the national average.
For Christians in particular, divorce is a last resort after all attempts at reconciliation have failed. Are there ever any circumstances where it is right for Christians to seek a divorce? Are we not contravening God’s laws in doing so?
Let’s have a look at what the Bible has to say about divorce.
God’s views on divorce are clearly stated in Malachi; ‘For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). This is later reiterated in the gospel of Matthew: ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”(Matthew19:6).
Yet it seems there are also circumstances where is it permissible for a man and woman to divorce:-
‘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 5:32).
Jesus seems to allow divorce where marital infidelity has occurred. This matter is complicated, however, in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 where Paul makes it clear that for those with a non-Christian husband or wife, they must not leave them unless the spouse desires it.
How complex it all seems when we are agonizing over our decision and praying over God’s will for our lives. When we are clinging desperately to the scraps of our marriage, such words only serve to reinforce our sense of failure.
So where does this leave us as we battle with our own guilt ridden emotions? We feel like we’re failing God, our family and ourselves.
There is no easy answer. As we debate over what all of this means in society today, we forget that we are humans and also sinners. Inevitably divorce will occur among Christians, no matter how we strive to live as God told us. That doesn’t mean that God loves us less.
Only God knows our heart, only He knows how hard we have tried to sustain our marriage. He has a plan for all of our lives so if we have fervently attempted to reconcile with our spouse to no avail, does it mean that this is part of God’s plans for us? Remember God can ultimately use everything for the good, even our perceived sins.
We all know that divorce is frowned upon by the Bible and by God but it remains a fact of life. We will always fall short of the glory of God; that is why Jesus died for us.
If you are emerging from what you feel is the wreckage of a marriage or on the cusp of a divorce after numerous attempts at patching things up, do not forget one essential truth.
Jesus loves you.
He is with you and loves you today and always. His love never fails. If you doubt it, when you feel yourself sinking in a morass of conflicting emotions, console yourself with these words:-
‘For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39).