Divorce in the Bible: can a good Christian ask for a divorce? Marriage is something that most of us wish to do only once in our lifetime. At least for us; Christians, marriage is a union with God that must be respected and carried through till the end.
But at the same time, God and God alone is the one who puts in every effort to make sure all his children feel like they deserve the goods of life and they deserve happiness beyond material sins.
In such a context, most people agree that divorce is the right solution in several cases. Divorce allows people to seek partners who are good for them and give themselves and their children a happy life.
Throughout history, Christians have interpreted divorce differently. In England, divorce was legalized as early as the reign of Henry VII. Still, records show that even in the Victorian period, complete separation through a divorce was quite impossible.
Many Christians devotees seemed to believe that marriage is a link made by God himself, and as God can never be wrong, breaking up such a link could be a disservice to God himself. The same goes for saying that the Bible has never sanctioned divorce.
Is that true?
Let us read more to find out.
What does divorce mean according to the Bible?
To be perfectly candid, the Bible is not against divorce but requires that there be logical grounds for divorce to happen. To understand what divorce means in the Bible, we first need to understand what marriage means.
Genesis 2:24 portrays a picture of what a marriage bond is in true sense. It depicts that: “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flash.”
Here the verse states that a man and women when come together through a sacred union of marriage, they form a union and become one soul in two different bodies. A husband and wife relationship is an unbreakable bond that no one can intervene in between. When Adam met Eve for the first time and uttered that “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” in Genesis 2:23. It signifies the union of one flesh in two different bodies.
It can be seen that according to the Bible and the Church, a marriage is a highly pure Union, and it should not be taken as a joke.
Ephesians 5:22–27 in the Bible depicts that, “Wives, submit yourself to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church; he is the protector of her body. Now that the Church submits to Christ, wives should also submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands must love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself to make it holy, purifying it by washing it with water through the word, and leaving it without spot or blemish.”
These verses state that a wife should submit herself to their husband; on the other hand a husband should love her wife no matter what. A husband and wife should love and cherish their relationship as Christ loved the Church.
When Jesus depicted that, “And the two; a man and woman shall become one,” he was pointing towards man and woman to join together in an inseparable and exclusive union that no one can tear apart.
At the same time, though, when the safety and well-being of both parties are concerned and the trust in between them disappear somewhere, the Bible acknowledges that in such a case, the union is no longer a union of God.
Therefore, this is the true meaning of divorce, making it acceptable in the eyes of the Bible at the Church.
Reasons and grounds on which a divorce can be given according to the Bible:
First of all, it is necessary to clarify one thought – many young Christians believe that the church encourages divorce. Neither the Church nor the Bible encourages divorce but advises against it.
However, it makes a clear distinction about when exceptions can be made regarding divorce. By their very nature, these exceptions give women a great deal of freedom and can still be practiced today. Let’s delve deeper into these exceptions given in the Bible.
Can you divorce your partner if they are cheating?
The first and most important distinction made for adultery in the Bible. Adultery is considered a severe offense in Christian traditions and a sin of one of the highest orders. Let’s delve deeper about what the Bible says about adultery in its verses.
Matthew 5:31-32 depicts that “Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But whoever divorces his wife for any reason other than adultery makes her the victim of adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Besides Matthew 19:9 depicts that “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits Adultery. But here, the sole exception is sexual immorality.”
Looking at this verse, while it is evident that not only the topic of adultery among women has been given the open term of sexual immorality, adultery among men is also taken very seriously by the Bible.
You, as a man, are never to divorce your wife for another woman, according to the Bible, as this is nothing other than adultery which is an irreparable sin in the material world. A wife can, however, be divorced by her husband if she has committed adultery behind his back.
In the case of adultery, the mutual trust and belongingness that a marriage under Christ provides is broken, in which case seeking out other Christian partners who uphold the values of the Bible is perfectly okay. However, once you commit a felony of adultery, the sin has already been committed.
Can you divorce your partner if they are abusive to you?
Men who are abusive to their wives have existed since time immemorial. The Bible has not clarified whether the abuse discussed here is physical, verbal, or emotional.
However, most scholars and pastors in the modern world agree that any form of physical or psychological abuse is a ground for divorce.
In such a case, it is essential to remember that you are the child of God first and a partner in marriage second. That being said, as a devout Christian whom God himself has paid for your sins, you deserve a life where you can stand upright as an individual with freedom, happiness, and hope.
In Ephesians 5:22–27 Bible portrayed husbands as saviors and protectors of their wives. Therefore they must protect their wives and treat them with dignity and respect and not abuse them.
1 Corinthians 7:1–5 it is stated that, “a man and woman becoming one in the sexual aspect of marriage means caring for and fulfilling one another’s physical needs with respect and mutual consent, not exploiting one another.”
It clearly depicts God’s intention that a man and women should treat one another with respect, beauty, and dignity, not in an abusive way.
The Bible does not ask a man or a woman to ‘try out’ a marriage with an abusive partner, as this can be highly detrimental and harmful for the individual in question. You are never wrong for coming to the shrine of God for safety and security.
Can you divorce your partner if they are sinful?
Many other concepts of sinfulness regarding divorce have been discussed in the Bible. Such sinfulness includes concepts like abandonment, lack of humility and no request for forgiveness, treating your children in an abusive manner, and procuring sexual relations with your wife against her consent.
In such cases, modern Christian women can obtain the right to divorce a partner even if they are law-abiding Christians. The Bible also warns moral questions from associating marriage with other questions, which are “swindlers, drunkards and sexually immoral.”
Sexual immorality, in this case, talks about adultery and sexual disrespect of the wife or other women, catcalling and sexual intimacy without consent.
How does The Bible deal with the breach of trust involving mutual consent and boundaries?
Suppose you both had set a few broken boundaries in your relationship, which would be considered a sin even if the Bible does not classify it as one.
Sadly, the Bible has remained silent about mutual consent and trust in situations where the aforementioned exceptions are not involved. The Bible does not accept a divorce when the same committed does not fall in the realms of the sins listed in the Bible.
Can you divorce your partner if they are not Christian?
God has always prioritized an individual’s moral character more than their beliefs. This massive advantage of Christianity sets it apart from all other religions and makes it unique.
God has never preached, nor has his followers, that a believer must give up on a marriage because the partner is not also a believer.
In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, it is stated that:
“To others, I say that if a brother’s wife is not a believer, and she is willing to live with him, he should not leave her and similarly if a woman’s husband is not a believer, and he is willing to live with her, she should not put him away.
The unbelieving husband is purified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is purified through her husband. Otherwise, their children will be impure, but they are still holy.
But if the unbeliever leaves, let them ho. Brother or sister is not obliged in such circumstances to stick to them. God has called us to live in peace and how do you know you will save your husband or your wife?”?”
You can hear that the Bible respects differences in opinion and will always continue to do so.
Even if your partner is not a follower of Christ or does not attend the Church, you can still pray for your well-being and theirs at the altar.
Besides, if they do not hold the same beliefs as you regarding marriage, adultery, and divorce, God asks you to live in peace and respect their differences of opinion.
At the same time, it is essential to know that your duty towards Christianity is far more foundational than your duty to your partner, and you must not give up your beliefs as a Christian for the sake of your partner.
Can you divorce your husband if he has more than one wife?
Many believers in Christianity in the United States and worldwide have practiced and continue to practice polygamy.
While almost any religious sect does not appreciate polyandry, polygamy is considered a normal part of Christianity according to many cultures, making it a controversial topic.
But we can see that in 1 Corinthians 7, polygamy has been straightforwardly mentioned as unlawful, and a man having more than one wife not only commits adultery but also respects all the women involved by not giving them the sole right to his marriage and sexual intimacy.
According to the Bible, each woman must be bound to one husband, and each husband must be bound to one woman only, and it is only this legally bound woman who has a right to the body and sexual relations of the man in question.
If the man commits something as unlawful as this, he has to forfeit the right to remain married.
Can you divorce your partner if you cannot bear a child?
Can infertility be a reason in the modern world for a divorce?
As we move ahead to describing and discussing the various verses written on this topic, it is essential to note that the Bible was presented to humanity way before scientific developments in the world of pregnancy and fertility came to take place.
According to the Bible, however,
“If a man has taken a wife and lived with her for 10 years, and has no children, he cannot abstain. If he divorces her, she may be married to another man and that man may again live with her for 10 years. She missed that we should count 10 years from the time of abortion.”
We all want to be parents, but the Bible wants us against being too impatient about our desires to multiply our bloodline.
According to the Bible, we must ensure that we are not disrespecting the potential mother of a child in the process, as God and God himself is the decider of everything and has already penned our destiny for us.
In such a case, remarriage is an option for a woman so that she is not unfairly judged for being infertile when the fault lies with the man.
Consequences of divorce according to the Bible
What happens after your divorce, according to the Bible? Do you have the moral right as a Christian to seek out a new partner, and in which circumstances do you have the right to do so? Let us quickly look at the different roles advised to play post-divorce.
- Can a wife remarry after a divorce?
According to the Bible, a wife is generally not allowed to remarry after a divorce in adultery cases. If the husband has committed adultery, however, in that case, he has lost the right to be a married man, and then, in that case, the woman may seek a new husband who will value and cherish her.
When it comes to abuse, a similar rule applies. The woman or the man who has suffered abuse at the hands of their partner can seek a better marriage relationship with another individual.
In the case of divorce due to infertility, women are allowed to marry another individual to seek an equal relationship.
- Can a husband remarry after a divorce?
If a husband divorces a woman only to marry another, he commits adultery, according to the Bible.
Only when a woman has committed adultery can a husband remarry. In case of infertility, the husband can also seek a new wife who can fulfill his desire to become a parent.
Suppose the husband is a victim of physical or psychological abuse at the hands of the wife. In that case, he is advised to seek the help of a counselor as soon as possible and get out of the marriage in favor of healthier relationships without waiting one bit.
Contradictions about divorce in the Bible
In one of the earliest mentions of divorce in the old testament, Malachi 2:16 clearly states that God disapproves of divorce.
In one of the earliest verses of the new testament, however, as we have just read, Matthew 5:32 mentions that “whoever divorces a wife on grounds other than sexual immorality commits adultery and causes his woman to commit adultery too.”
Therefore we can see that over time as the world has changed, the views that the Lord holds have been differently represented in The Bible.
Again, in Matthew 19:9, it is clearly stated that Jesus says no to divorce except for cases of adultery.
Most Christian churches and pastors today, however, maintain that divorce on the grounds of mental peace, abuse-free life, and a good family is valid.
For example, while it is clearly stated in these verses that adultery is the only reasonable cause of a divorce, other verses in the Corinthians mention sins like abuse, abandonment, and swindling to be reasonable causes of a cut-off from marriage.
It is safe to say that the Bible places much importance on the sexual intimacy aspect of romantic relationships.
For example, suppose a wife is unbelieving and chooses not to follow specific Christian beliefs. In that case, the Bible suggests that the husband must try his best to make the marriage work despite religious or moral differences. Such differences can work out only when adultery on a faulty vacation is not a part of their belief.
However, in cases of fornication, the difference becomes too large. In such a case, if she is unbelieving and believes in fornication to be her right, she can be divorced in favor of a more morally Christian woman.
According to Christianity and the Bible, any form of sex outside the marriage, whether it is premarital sex or extramarital sex, is fortification.
Does the Bible have anything to say about fortification in the case of men?
The same rules for adultery and fornication exist for men as they do for women.
In the old testament, the punishment for fornication among men was death by stoning.
In the modern world, man has to face the consequences of fornication by losing his marital status and family.
Another huge contradiction can be found in how Catholics versus protestants deal with the nature of divorce. Even though they both follow the Bible, the interpretations are drastically different.
Protestants are much more lenient about the nature of marriage, although this also differs from sect to sect. Catholic ideologies are generally more old school, and the intensity of the problem must be very high for it to be considered by the Church.
While this depends on the Church specifically, many women have complained of a practical bias in favor of men in some of the most popular catholic churches in the world.
If your pastor is not sanctioning your divorce, but you feel you have the moral grounds to claim a divorce from your partner, approach the higher saints and churches to get a justified sanctioning for your Christian divorce.
The Bible has forbidden Christians to engage in a divorce that the Church does not sanction because such a divorce would be going against the will of God. Therefore it is a lot better to engage in a battle for your right and get sanctioned for your divorce from the highest churches of the world.
As times have gone by, pastors and Christian scholars have attempted to redefine the terms mentioned in the Bible.
Although Christianity follows the same holy book, the truth is that different Christian sects, like the Catholics, evangelicals, etc., have their own rules and norms regarding the acceptable nature of divorce. Each Church and community deals with divorce differently.
Combined with that are the regional ethical values that Christians from all over the world follow. But when it comes to the fraternity under one God that binds all Christians together, we must remember that God values the safety and happiness of his children over everything else.
Sinful activities in God’s sight must be repented even if your partner has already left you. Similarly, do not beg forgiveness for your partner in front of God – let them do that themselves.
Make sure your relationship with your partner is not affecting your relationship with your God; be a good partner and know where and where not to forgive them.
Most importantly, do not let your partner adversely affect your children – remember, for God, the relationship between the parent and the child is the most saintly of all.