What Does the Bible Say about Divorce: Essential Facts to Understand

By on May 8, 2019

Losing the love that was once there could be quite difficult. On top of the anger and confusion, you’ll also have to think about starting again after a divorce and whether separation is really the right thing. The second consideration depends on many factors.

If you are religious and faith plays a strong role in your life, you could wonder about the permissibility of divorce based on Christian scriptures. What does the Bible have to say about separating from your spouse? Understanding such key divorce facts could simplify the process and reduce the burden of the transitional period.

What Does the Bible Say about Divorce?

Sad statistics show that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of US couples will get a divorce in their lifetime. While separation from one’s spouse has become more common and socially-acceptable, it can still be problematic to people who have strong faith.

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Marriage vows suggest that the bond between husband and wife should last through sickness and in health, until death.

What does the Bible have to say about divorce when marriage vows are so definitive? The short answer is that you can get divorced and there are several instances of marriage dissolution being discussed in the Holy Book. The long answer is that things are a bit more complicated.

As per Malachi 2:16, God hates divorce. Marriage is supposed to be a covenant between man, woman and the Holy Spirit. A covenant is binding and impossible to break (Proverbs 20:25). Divorce (the end of a covenant) is a man-made solution to a problem, rather than a spiritual one.

We can sum the Bible’s stance on divorce in one simple phrase “what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

A few exceptions do exist, however, and these make it possible for couples to separate both legally and spiritually from each other.

When Is Divorce Acceptable?

Some more rigid Biblical interpretations suggest that divorce is never acceptable. A deeper analysis, however, does find instances of divorce in the Bible. These are much more common in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, a man could pretty much get a divorce for any reason, including the fact that his wife no longer pleased him. Moses is mentioned several times in relationship to marriage dissolution.

Before God, marriage is a lifetime relationship. As per the Bible, there are only two plausible grounds for divorce.

The first one is in the event of adultery. Infidelity breaks the bond established between a man and a woman, which means that the marriage relationship is already severed. Whenever adultery can be established, the Bible permits divorce and remarriage.

Apostle Paul explained the second ground for divorce. Whenever an unbelieving spouse leaves a believer, the believer is free to remarry.

These are the two justifications that the Bible provides for divorce.  The lack of love, incompatibility, lifestyle differences and growing distant are nowhere mentioned in the Holy Book and provided as possible separation justifications.

Physical Abuse, Mental Abuse, and Divorce

Domestic violence and abuse aren’t discussed in the Bible in the context of marriage dissolution.

Physical abuse is a sin, however. Hence, a pastor evaluating the situation could justify a divorce whenever abuse endangers the life and wellbeing of one spouse.

The Bible commands Christians to be gentle in their interactions with each other. Husbands have to be understanding towards their wives and vice versa. Physical, emotional, mental, sexual and psychological abuse are all forbidden.

The Bible and Divorce in the Past

If your faith has grown only recently and you have divorce in your past, you could be finding it difficult to cope with the implications.

The most important thing to understand in such circumstances is that God is forgiving.

Even if your divorce wasn’t Biblically-justified, you can still seek cleansing from sin and honorable life in the future. Making restitution to the best of your capabilities, doing whatever possible to make your life Biblically right in the future and making amends with people affected by the divorce will all be essential.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment that has to be treated with respect and dedication. While divorce rates tend to be lower among Christians than among the general US population, difficulties could still make faithful individuals seek a way out.

As you’ve seen, the Bible permits divorce in specific circumstances. If you’re not sure how to interpret scriptures, talk to your pastor. Having community support and guidance through such a difficult time will make the burden smaller and show you how to address the situation in the best possible way.

If you’re being mistreated, you don’t need to suffer in silence out of fear for the potential consequences. Your spouse is committing a sin against you and the Bible protects the vulnerable. Let your religious leader know, seek assistance and the right solution will be identified.


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What Does the Bible Say about Divorce: Essential Facts to Understand