God has been faithful to me and my children, which can give the impression that divorce is the greener pasture. Occasionally, a woman will approach me with a subtle request to affirm that she would be happier if she divorced her husband. I’m very careful about condoning divorce. In my opinion, it is best avoided if possible.
Unbiblical divorce is spiritually violent. It leaves permanent scars and shatters the security of innocent children. It effects many people, besides the spouses involved. Its negative psychological impact reaches down through several generations, far beyond the immediate circle. Make no mistake: It is a monster.
Therefore, nothing is more important than knowing and obeying what God’s Word says about divorce. We really can trust God here.
Obviously, this is going to be a brief, over-simplified treatment of this topic. I’m not a theologian or a licensed counselor, and these are just my opinions; but it seems obvious to me that the key is seeking, trusting, and obeying God. If you’re considering divorce, please research this topic thoroughly, beyond this post, before making a decision.
The attitude of the heart is most important. Above all, we must let Biblical love lead us. I’ve seen people joyfully use a one-time act of adultery to justify divorce, even when their spouse was genuinely repentant and seeking healing. I’ve also seen people remain in harmful marriages because of legalistic, unloving counsel, to the detriment of their children. If we tune God out and take control, we are headed away from his grace and guidance.
The Bible allows divorce if a spouse continually cheats, which breaks the marriage covenant. And God does not expect us to remain in an abusive situation. If you are being abused—physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually—you absolutely must get yourself and your children to safety.
Matthew 18:15-17 gives us instructions for handling someone’s sin against us. Jesus tells us to “go and tell him his fault.” If he won’t listen, we’re to take a couple other people along and tell him again. If he still won’t listen, we take it to the church. At that point, if he still refuses to listen, the relationship is considered broken. I don’t believe these instructions exclude the marriage relationship, especially when abuse is involved. However, make sure it is really abuse. No one is perfect, and all relationships suffer turmoil. That's no reason for divorce.
We must make sure we are willing to obey God rather than seeking his blessing on our disobedience. If you’re seeking a divorce from someone who has not abused you or been unfaithful, if your partner wants to work on the marriage and is making efforts to change, it’s best to hang in there and keep your promises. God will bless your obedience.
1 Corinthians 7:15 tells us “if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go” (The Message). We can’t force someone else’s decision. If a spouse is determined to pursue divorce, so be it. God wants us to live at peace with others.
Sadly, in our culture people file for divorce every day for unbiblical reasons, including the following:
- I don’t belong in this family anymore.
- I feel suffocated.
- My spouse has minor character issues that I’m tired of.
- I’m no longer in love with my spouse.
- Marriage is too hard.
- I need to find myself.
- I’ve outgrown my marriage/my spouse/my role.
- Divorce is my way of being true to myself.
Leaving a marriage for reasons like these is very selfish. There’s nothing noble about it. It boils down to a lack of trust in God to meet our needs his way, in his time. It’s all about taking control and trying to procure our happiness at the expense of those around us. We forget that God can do anything with people who are surrendered to him. He can even revitalize a tired marriage.
The problems above are common in marriage. They are not a reason for divorce. They are a reason for counseling, communication, and growth. That’s the beauty of marriage: The decision to remain committed, no matter what, forces people to grow. Those who hang in there eventually find their marriages were worth the fight. God blesses faithfulness in marriage.
If divorce might be your only recourse, it’s time to pray earnestly for direction, seeking Biblical wisdom and sound counsel. God is faithful, and he loves you unconditionally. He will be with you through the storms of an unavoidable divorce.
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