By: Steve Shirley
(Mal 2:16)(NASB) "For I hate divorce," says the Lord...
Marriage is a covenant (Mal 2:14). A covenant means an agreement or contract between two parties. The marriage contract is meant to be binding for a lifetime. The Bible says that two are to become one when married (Mt 19:5)(Mk 10:7-8)(Eph 5:31). God has given only one clear reason for divorce to be allowed, and that is in the case of infidelity (adultery)(Mt 5:32)(Mt 19:9)(Mk 10:11). A second, more debatable reason, is if an unbelieving spouse departs (1 Cor 7:15). Jesus was asked by the Pharisees about God granting divorce in the Old Testament and He said that God allowed it only because of the hardness of their hearts, but it was not God's plan in the beginning (Mt 19:8).
As stated above, God HATES divorce! While He may allow it, He never commands it. I believe it is clear that God would rather see reconciliation take place. While divorce harms the lives of the man and woman involved, if children are involved it will most certainly cause damage to their lives FOREVER. So many married couples falsely believe that it is better for the child if they are apart, than if they stay together unhappily. Study after study shows this to be incorrect. While it is true that some children are affected more than others, ALL ARE AFFECTED! Do not deceive yourselves with the lie that they will "get over it."
When a partner breaks the marriage covenant by committing adultery, the Bible says they will be judged (Heb 13:4). The person committing this act becomes one flesh with the person they have relations with (i.e. a prostitute (1 Cor 6:16). In the Old Testament adulterers were to be killed (Deut 22:22). It is pretty obvious how strongly God views this sin. In fact, it is breaking the 7th commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex 20:14). If you have broken your marriage covenant, you need to fall on your knees, and plead forgiveness, both from God and from your spouse. Repent of this sin and do EVERYTHING possible to restore your marriage.
People continually say, "I don't FEEL love for my spouse anymore." Love is not a feeling, love is a choice, a decision we make, and a command from God. We choose to love our spouse. We are told to die to our feelings (Gal 5:24)(Col 3:5)(Eph 4:22). Much of what is called "love" for someone outside of marriage is "lust." Lust is a preoccupation or strong desire to obtain something so much that you cannot be happy unless you get it. It is contrary to God's will. Flee from what is causing it. Do not open doors to it. You should not be sharing intimate things with people of the opposite sex. You should not be building or cultivating friendships with people of the opposite sex. This is often a start to adultery.
An example I once heard was of Billy Graham, one of the great evangelists of all time. It is said that he goes as far as to never be alone with a woman ANYWHERE, be it in a car, at dinner, etc... When on the road, it is said that before he goes into a hotel, he has people go in and search the room to make sure no women are hiding in it. While this may appear extreme to some people, I do not think anyone can question his integrity, and things like this I am sure are a big reason why.
CHAT ROOMS are often one of the worst places for trouble to occur, drawing the lonely and the hurting. I warn each of you who are married to be careful about becoming intimate with a person of the opposite sex online. (This also applies to singles, you never know who you are sharing with) (For more on love vs lust see our link)
For those who are married and in abusive situations, most often separation is a wise course of action. This is not breaking the marriage bond. Seek help from a pastor or counselor. Pray for reconciliation. Time apart, along with seeking help, and prayer, can give God time to work. (1 Cor 7:39) says that a woman is bound to her husband for as long as he lives. If she chooses to walk away (against God's will), she is commanded to remain unmarried (or be reconciled to her husband) (1 Cor 7:10-11). A man is told NOT to divorce his wife (1 Cor 7:11).
The Bible also says:
A believing spouse is to remain with an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:12-16).
If anyone marries someone who is divorced (outside of Biblical grounds) it is adultery (Lk 16:18).
If a spouse dies, one is free to remarry (Rom 7:2-3)(1 Cor 7:39).
Christian friend, always consider that whether you divorce on Biblical grounds or not, your testimony to others will most certainly be weakened, which causes harm to the furthering of God's kingdom. Work out and cherish your marriage and may God receive the glory in it.