“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

- Matthew 5:31-32

Divorce – It’s Complicated

Is divorce always wrong? Is divorce ever allowed? If so, when? Is remarriage after divorce always adultery? Is it ever allowed? If so, when? Now, just raising these questions about divorce and remarriage can cause a great deal of tension. Because so many have been divorced and so many have been remarried after divorce, all of us have been affected by the divorce of someone we love. Trying to understand the very challenging words of Jesus can be troubling indeed, so let’s seek to understand exactly what Jesus is communicating to us.

Right away, we see that Christ makes it very clear that God intends for marriage to be for life. And the only exception is for unfaithfulness. I realize that’s not a word we often use. What does it mean? It means fornication. Well, that’s surely not a word we often use in every day language! What does it mean? It means elicit sexual immorality outside the bonds of marriage. So, what Jesus is saying is that unfaithfulness on the part of your spouse allows for divorce, which I believe means He allows for remarriage. Otherwise, He would be defining all divorce as the one sin from which we can never be completely forgiven. And we know that’s not the case.

Yet, God hates divorce. So, how can He ever allow for it? When a man and a woman have made vows and created a covenant with one another before God, and those vows have been broken, God allows for divorce. It’s not what He wants. He doesn’t command us to get a divorce. He simply allows for it, knowing the hurt can be so great and the trust so irretrievably broken, the relationship can’t go on. God hates divorce for the harm it does to our relationships with God and man. But He doesn’t hate the divorcee. He loves the divorcee.

“What should I do if I’ve already messed up and divorced my spouse for unbiblical reasons?” “What if I was the guilty part in the breakup of my marriage?” Well, that’s one of the beautiful things about God. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Divorce and remarriage are incredibly complicated. But for those who are still married, please remember—marriage is for life. For those who are divorced, when you seek the forgiveness of God, you are forgiven. He sent His Son to die on the cross for the sin of divorce, the sin of murder, the sin of adultery, every known sin to man. And because Christ has given His life to cleanse us of all sin, there is hope after divorce. There is always the chance for a new beginning when you are willing to claim the forgiveness of God. And that is mighty good news.

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