Recently Pat Robertson gave unbibical advice regarding divorce… he said a man can divorce his wife who has Alzheimer’s because it is “A kind of death.” He is wrong. In response, Russell Moore presented a Biblical Christian view of marriage (CLICK HERE). Let me say that marriage is for life… better or worse… sickness and health… for richer or poorer… and only death is the absolute end to the marriage relationship. Pat Robertson was WRONG to tll the man he could divorce his wife because of Alzheimer’s. So, according to Scripture, when is divorce allowable?
Aside: I think it important that the reader knows my parents divorced after 32 years of marriage. I have walked through the emotional, philosophical, and Biblical issues related to divorce and have come to my conclusions after much reflection, prayer, and study. I don’t have all the answers, but God is the God of comfort. (Click here for another post that relates to this one) Here is the Scripture…
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Malachi 2:14 The Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who hates and divorces, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Matthew 5:31 (Jesus) “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 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.
Matthew 19:3 And Pharisees came up to (Jesus) and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
1 Corinthians 7:10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 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. 16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
This is of greatest importance from the Ephesians 5 passage above: A Christian marriage is an earthly picture and illustration of Jesus’ love, devotion, care, and protection of HIS Bride… The Church. This means the way Christian husbands relate and treat their wife must reflect the kind of love Christ has for the Church! If a Christian husband does not treat his wife the way Ephesians 5 describes, God will ignore his prayers.
Biblical allowances for divorce:
Sexual immorality is one reason a Christian is allowed to divorce (But it is not commanded),
When an unbelieving spouse leaves a believing (Christian) spouse, divorce is allowed (And remarriage is possible),
If a Christian divorces for any other reason, they are to remain single until or unless their ex-spouse dies OR they remarry the spouse they seperated from (Romans 7:1-3, 1 Corinthians 7:10-12), otherwise they commit adultery.
Caveat: If a spouse’s life… or that of the children… is in danger, I counsel them to remove and protect themselves from the situation. Divorce may eventually be the last option… but it is not the first option. At this point Romans 7:1-3 applies.
Non-Biblical reasons for divorce (I’ve had people tell me each of these as the reason they wanted a divorce):
“We were young and made a mistake. We should never have gotten married…”
“I don’t love my spouse anymore…” or “I’ve just fell out of love with my spouse…”
“God wants me to be happy and I’m not happy in this marriage…”
“The tax implications are better for us to be divorced than married…”
“I’ve prayed about divorcing my spouse and God told me it is okay even though I don’t have Biblical grounds…”