Are there biblical reasons for divorce?

If your parents are going through a divorce or talking about divorce, then you are probably filled with all kinds of questions, especially the all-encompassing one, "Why?" While there are many reasons why a husband and wife might come to this decision, none of them ever really seem good enough. Thankfully, God's Word does have some insights about divorce.

The Bible is pretty obvious where God stands on divorce in Malachi 2:16, "I hate divorce, says the Lord God." Marriage was created as a binding agreement, a covenant, between a husband, his wife, and God. "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (Mark 10:9)

Jesus said this about divorce, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:11-12) As an adult child who is watching my parents go through a nasty divorce, I have often asked myself, "On what grounds of breaking this intended lifelong commitment would be okay? Are my parents doing it right? Are they even supposed to be doing this?"

Divorce is a stressful and sad time, no matter what the reasoning behind it is. A family gets torn apart because of divorce—often over seemingly petty reasons. Turning to the Bible, I found answers to my questioning thoughts. Two very clear reasons for divorce are laid out in the Word:

1. Sexual immorality, committed by either spouse.

Matthew 5:32 says, "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Later, Jesus reiterates this in Matthew 19:9, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."

2. A nonbeliever leaves the believer.

In 1 Corinthians 7:15, Paul instructs the believer who is married to a nonbeliever this way, "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." Someone who does not claim to be a Christian cannot be held to the same standards that God has laid out for His followers. But the believing spouse who is divorced by an unbeliever has not sinned against God, because it was the unbelieving spouse who did the leaving.

All that said, God does not encourage divorce. It is not something to be done without much thought and prayer and consideration for any children involved. Divorce was not in God's original plan for marriage and the family. He always wants us to seek reconciliation first whenever possible. Divorces can get nasty, especially when parents bring their kids into it. I know this is true firsthand, and if you've read this far, maybe you do too.

You may have found yourself discouraged that one or both of your parents wants you to pick a side or just frustrated and angry at the whole situation. Personal experience has taught me that, no matter what, God is the God of love and forgiveness (1 John 1:9). There is nothing He cannot forgive (Titus 2:14). God can change any heart and renew any marriage.

Take heart, and do not get discouraged. God is sovereign, which means that He has total control over everything (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6). Whatever the outcome of a marriage, God is still in control.



Also See: "Does physical abuse count as a reason for divorce?"





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Sarah Chapin is involved in student leadership at both a state and national level. A woman with a passion for people and cultures, she enjoys traveling far and wide on adventures with her camera. Her photography is published both online and in print, including in an award-winning arts journal.