“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 NIV
Is divorce always wrong?
Is divorce ever allowed?
If so, when? Is remarriage after divorce allowed? If so, when? Simply raising questions about divorce and remarriage can cause great tension because so many have either been through a divorce or been impacted by the divorce or remarriage of a loved one. Trying to understand the very challenging words of Jesus can be troubling, so let’s seek to understand exactly what Jesus is communicating to us.
Right away, we see that Christ clearly clarifies that God intends marriage to be for life. The exception is for unfaithfulness, which is another way to say sexual immorality outside the bonds of marriage. Jesus is saying that unfaithfulness on your spouse’s part allows for divorce, which I believe means He allows for remarriage. Otherwise, He would define all divorce as the one sin from which we can never be completely forgiven – and we know that’s not the case.
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. It’s not a command. He simply allows for it, knowing the hurt can be so great and the trust is so irretrievably broken that the relationship cannot continue.
In addition, and this is my pastoral perspective here, I believe that in the case of chronic physical abuse, divorce can be the lesser of two evils. Certainly, trial separation may need to come first with the hope of reconciliation, but in the end, physical violence towards a spouse seems to be a worse sin.
While God hates divorce, He loves the person who is divorced.
What if you’ve already messed up and divorced your spouse for unbiblical reasons? What if you were the guilty party in the breakup of the 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 still married, please remember—marriage is supposed to be 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 lying…for every sin known 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.
Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, RFTH