Scripture tells us that marriage is a lifetime commitment. However, divorce is a reality for so many people, including Christians. Statistics show that almost 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. will end in separation or divorce. The estimates are also high for first marriages. People often think that Christians who go through divorce haven’t taken the necessary steps to save their marriages because the marriage could have been saved if they had. Divorce appears to be the easy route. The truth is, marriages are not exempt from divorce, even for the most faithful Christians.
Whether you support the idea of divorce or not, the Bible is clear on God’s thoughts of divorce. Malachi 2:16. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, 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 19:6 says, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” While God doesn’t like divorce, he knows that we are sinful by nature and that divorce will happen. God shared the laws around divorce in the Old Testament. These laws were set to protect the rights of those who divorced, particularly women.
One of these examples is Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The passage says, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.” Jesus tells us that the reasons these laws were given to us are because of the toughness of people’s hearts. It wasn’t because it was God’s desire.
There has been some controversy around whether divorce and remarriage are allowed in God’s eyes. This is because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32. The passage 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.” Since the Bible uses the terms “except for sexual immorality” or “marital unfaithfulness,” this appears to give God’s permission for divorce, along with remarriage.
When we can see that a marriage is falling apart, it isn’t to tell us that we should be placing judgment on that couple, but rather as a reminder that the world is broken. Thankfully, there is an opportunity for grace and new life. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, “For we know that If the earthly tent we live in destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead of our heavenly dwelling because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” If you are going through a divorce right now, think about Paul’s words. Yes, this passage speaks to Christian hope past death, but it is also about the decay of our outer self and the renewal of our inner selves. We are blessed to have a God of grace. Christians who are going through suffering and physical hardship are assured that there is greater life past its circumstances.
Many Christians also believe that if divorce is a conversation, it is too late to make a change and restore the marriage. This is not always the case. Many marriages have appeared to be destined for divorce that were transformed. Romans 12:12 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Couples experiencing brokenness can turn to God and work on the renewal and commitment of their relationship. It’s never too late to reach out to God. Counseling can be extremely helpful for the restoration of your marriage. It is where the healing can begin.
It’s also important to look at the nature of your marriage. There are many Christians who are in marriages that dishonor God. Some believe it’s better to stay in an abusive or destructive marriage than to get divorced. Just because you’re co-existing with your partner doesn’t mean it’s a healthy relationship that glorifies God. You shouldn’t be in a relationship that is unhealthy, poisonous, or dangerous. You should be taking the right steps to honor God in your marriage but never to the point of compromising your physical and emotional well-being. If your marriage is struggling, one of the biggest steps you can take is reaching out for help.
Scripture states that God hates divorce. It also states that forgiveness and reconciliation should center a believer’s life. God is aware that divorce will happen, even with His children. Those who experience divorce should never feel like they are loved any less by God. If you have been through a divorce, you should know that God has a special plan for your life. Remember that sometimes that greatest growth begins in the wilderness, working through our suffering, destruction and brokenness. Know that God is standing beside you in the most difficult of seasons.