Obviously, divorce is quite prevalent today – even in the church among those who claim Christ.
Let me say right up front…
No one answers to me about why they got a divorce or why they want a divorce. We will all answer to God alone for our thoughts, words and actions.
I am not a pastor, theologian, psychologist, psychiatrist, lawyer or certified counselor. I am just a normal wife who loves Jesus and His Word. I am not giving legal advice and I am not qualified to tell you what to do in your situation. Your decisions are ultimately up to you, knowing that you will stand before God and be accountable to Him for each of them when this life is over.
My concern is – what does God say about divorce?
I have listed all of the scriptures I can find about this topic at the bottom of this post. What God says is the only thing that matters here.
*** Please keep in mind, I write for women, so I am only addressing wives here. God’s Word applies to husbands, too.
If we are disciples of Christ and we love Jesus – we will long more than anything to obey Him and please Him – no matter what the personal cost and sacrifice – in every area of our lives. That is what it means for Him to be LORD of our lives.
- Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:23-24
I want us to live without regret – knowing we honored Jesus in everything.
GOD’S PURPOSE IN MARRIAGE
God intends marriage to be a living, dynamic, beautiful picture of the relationship and oneness between Christ and His church, His people. For disciples of Christ, our living out God’s design for marriage, masculinity, femininity and family is intended by God to draw people to Jesus.
If we as the church of Christ don’t portray Christ and His church properly to the world… what do we really have to offer of any value to this dying world?
God NEVER forsakes us. He NEVER divorces us. Even when we are faithless, He is faithful.
- Ephesians 5:22-33 – God’s beautiful design for marriage
- I Peter 3:1-6 (God’s commands for wives whose husbands are far from God. If we want to see God work in our husbands’ lives, THIS is the way it must begin!)
Divorce can easily be a factory of hatred, contempt, bitterness, hard-heartedness and resentment that continues to produce these things every day for the rest of our lives.
That is a big problem – because if I hate someone, God says I cannot love Him.
- If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:20-21
- We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. I John 3:14-15
“BUT I DON’T FEEL LOVED! I AM NOT HAPPY!”
It would be awesome if we always felt loved, cherished, adored, protected and safe in our marriages. If this were a perfect world, maybe we would! But this is not at all a perfect world. We are sinners. Our husbands are sinners. It hurts to be sinned against!!!! There are many times we all will feel unloved (check out yesterday’s post). Sometimes we may actually even be unloved by our husbands. But we are NEVER unloved by God. For more about the ultimate love of God, please read here!
Our feelings are important. I believe God gives us feelings to help guide us in our decision making processes about some things. But…
- God commands us to make our decisions based on the absolute truth of God’s Word, not based on our changing and fleeting emotions.
Marriage is a COVENANT relationship. It is between our husbands, God and us. It is to last until one of us dies. God does not intend for us to break covenants. He never breaks His covenants! Covenants are based on holy commitment and holy promises, not emotions or feelings.
Our obedience to God MUST come first. Being mature in Christ means that we do what is right and we choose to love by God’s Spirit working in us even when the feelings are not there. Then we trust God with the results. Feelings are not to be my master. Jesus is my Master. God is MUCH more concerned about my willing obedience than He is with my feelings.
This is about what honors Him and about being holy, not about me feeling loved or being happy in the moment.
“IS DIVORCE AN IDOL IN MY HEART?”
It is entirely possible for me as a sinful human to make almost anything into an idol
- something I put above Christ in my heart
- something I think I HAVE to have to be happy
- something I am willing to do ANYTHING to get – even sin against God and/or others if necessary
- something I am willing to sacrifice for and give up huge amounts of my relationships, money and time to possess
If I am looking to divorce to meet all of my emotional/spiritual needs and to make me happy, if I think that “if only I could get divorced, my life would be great”… I am on very dangerous ground. It is definitely time for a motive check.
I VOTE TO TAKE THE WORD “DIVORCE” OUT OF OUR VOCABULARY AS BELIEVERS
My husband and I have an agreement that we don’t ever use that word. It’s not an option for us. We have never used that word in our 19+ years of marriage – even when things were difficult at times. I have never regretted our commitment to this agreement.
Joy and contentment come from within – our husbands can’t “make” us happy.
- If I am filled with God’s Spirit – I will respond in His power and in obedience to Him no matter who my husband is. I will have peace and joy no matter what my circumstances are because I have Living Water welling up in me through the Holy Spirit. I am not dependent upon any human to make me happy. No matter who I am married to – if I am filled with God’s Spirit, I will have love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
- If I am controlled by my sinful nature – I will respond sinfully to my current husband and I will respond sinfully to any other man I might marry. If I am disrespectful and controlling with my husband now, I would be disrespectful and controlling with any man. That is my character.
All husbands will sin against us. Some much worse than others, of course.
My husband’s sin against me doesn’t create sin in my heart – it reveals the sin that is in my heart.
- My level of respect and biblical submission toward my husband right now is a tangible indicator of my level of reverence for and submission to Christ. (Jesus says in John 14 that anyone who loves Him obeys Him. And if someone does not obey Him, he does not love Him. God commands me as a wife to respect my husband and honor His leadership in Ephesians 5:22-33)
- So, my level of respect and biblical submission in my marriage has almost nothing to do with my husband and almost everything to do with my relationship with Jesus.
I do not believe a wife is obligated to respect clear sin or to submit to instructions her husband gives that are clear violations of God’s Word. For more on this, please click here.
For info on a husband’s authority and a wife’s authority in marriage, please click here.
This is all about Christ. It is not about me.
There can be times when there are serious problems that separation may be necessary. It is not ideal, of course. God’s Word addresses this. You can check out I Corinthians 7 below.
If you are dealing with addictions, unrepentant major sin, physical/sexual abuse of yourself or your children, uncontrolled mental health issues, severe controlling issues…. please seek godly help ASAP! If you or your children are genuinely not safe, please get help! You may need to leave, at least for a time. Please do not read my blog if this is your situation, but just seek godly, biblical, experienced help.
A BIBLICAL FOUNDATION ABOUT DIVORCE FOR CHRISTIAN WOMEN
There are only a few situations where God allows divorce. If you are not yet divorced – please carefully study what God’s Word says because with the possible exception of a few circumstances, divorce is sin against God and against our husbands. Separation is not labeled as sin in the Bible. There can be times separation may be necessary – but God desires us to honor the covenant of marriage, prayerfully seeking reconciliation and trusting God to heal and work in our marriages.
- Divorce is a concession in cases of sexual immorality – but it is not commanded by God (Matthew 19:1-12). In fact, many times, God can and does heal marriages even after infidelity has been committed. I have seen God heal MANY, MANY marriages even after adultery and make the marriage into something beautiful and godly and holy.
- If an unbelieving spouse leaves – I Corinthians 7 says to let him leave and not to try to force him to stay. But the believing spouse is not told to initiate a divorce in such a situation.
Just to clarify a bit more, in the Bible, only men could initiate divorce. Women didn’t have the right to divorce their husbands in those times. So there are no instructions at all for women about divorcing their husbands – which is rather sobering in my mind. We have great freedom and responsibility now – I pray we will use it wisely and only in a God-honoring way!
Another very significant concern I have is that most Christian couples who divorce go through the secular court system. Paul was extremely clear that believers were not to take one another to court and that if we have law suits against each other, we are completely defeated already. We destroy our witness for Christ when we as believers take others to court. I Corinthians 6:1-11 I am not offering legal advice here. I am not qualified to do that. But I do want us as women of God to know God’s Word and to obey Him and honor Him in everything we do – that we might bring the greatest glory to His Name. That has to be our goal – to glorify God with our lives. Nothing else matters if Christ is our LORD.
Divorce is VERY serious in God’s eyes. It is always a result of sin. Our society, unfortunately, makes divorce so easy. But this does not honor God.
- I want to encourage and exhort those who have not divorced yet to STOP and truly seek to honor and obey God and to seek His healing in their marriages and to pray for reconciliation and God’s power and wisdom and not to turn to divorce, but to uphold our marriage covenants in order to please God.
- If you already divorced your first husband and are already married to another husband? Well… David Platt says – Repent to God if you sinned by divorcing the first time and stay where you are and focus on honoring this new marriage covenant. But if you have divorced and not remarried, repent to God and seek God’s wisdom. But do not seek to remarry. That is also what John Piper says. There are some who say to leave the remarriage and remain single. It is difficult to find clear commands in Scripture about what to do if a couple is remarried. Please research, study, read God’s Word and seek His Spirit’s wisdom if this is your situation. I don’t personally have enough godly wisdom to make a general blanket statement to people about such an important issue.
“Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord Jesus!”
If a wife is able to have pure motives of loving and obeying God and is not full of resentment, hatred, unforgiveness and bitterness, has God’s peace, love and joy overflowing in her soul and has no idols in her heart – those would be good indicators that she is generally moving toward God.
We must lay down our dreams, our wisdom, our plans, our rights, all that we are and all that we might ever be before Jesus – this is DYING TO SELF. Christ calls every one of His disciples to die to self and submit 100% to Him as LORD – men and women. We must give it all up to Him as a sacrifice. Then we must be willing to pick up His will, His dreams, His wisdom, His plans, His purposes, His holiness, His love…. and seek only His glory. This is our purpose in life!
This is the place we must be in order to be in right standing with Jesus – willing to give up anything He asks of us, willing to sacrifice everything for Him, willing to do His will even if the cost is great to us personally.
I’M ALREADY DIVORCED. IS DIVORCE UNFORGIVABLE?
Thankfully, Jesus’ blood is able to cover any sin!!!! Idolatry, murder, theft, hatred, contempt, bitterness, divorce, kidnapping, unforgiveness, lust, adultery, addictions, gossip, divisions, slander, jealousy, disrespect of God-given authority, self-righteousness, greed … you name it. Jesus’ blood can cover it.
If you realize that you got divorced and that what you did was out of line with God’s Word – repent and ask Him to forgive you! Ask Him to show you what to do to try to make things right at this point.
God loves a broken, humble contrite heart.
God will not allow me to find contentment in anything other than Himself alone.
THE POWER OF GOD
What I would love to see happen is for us, as the women of God, to determine to look to Christ for our strength, our hope, our help, our wisdom, our direction and our decisions – not to the world’s ways or the world’s wisdom. I believe that as we focus on becoming the women God desires us to be and focus on repenting of any sin in our hearts and focus on responding to our husbands in godly ways in the power of God’s Spirit – we open up the flood gates of heaven to pour into our lives and marriages.
- Our God is able to heal.
- Our God knows how to bring dead things back to life.
- Our God is able to bring joy from mourning, beauty from ashes and restore the years the locusts have eaten.
- God does not guarantee to change our husbands if we obey Him and live in His power – He may or He may not. But He does guarantee He will change US!
- If God is going to change our husbands and draw them to Himself, it will only be after we are willing to obey Him and follow I Peter 3:1-6.
What if we seek to do things God’s way – even if it costs us something? That is called, dying to self, picking up our cross and following Christ. To be His disciple costs me EVERYTHING! I can hold nothing back from Jesus if He is my LORD! And yet, when I am willing to give up everything – I get so much more in return from Him!
He who tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it! Matthew 16:15
God’s wisdom is NOT like the world’s wisdom. His wisdom is counterintuitive to our human attempts at wisdom.
Let’s put our faith and trust in Him to change us and trust Him to work in our husbands’ lives for His glory!
We open up the possibility that God may do miracles in our lives.
I don’t want any of us to miss out on that!
But even more importantly, I desire for Christ to be greatly glorified in each of our lives and marriages. That is our primary purpose as believers in Christ – to bring great honor and glory to His Name by our steadfast obedience and love for Him and our willingness to do whatever He asks of us.
I pray each of us might be sensitive and obedient to His voice.
The Marriage Covenant – “Brides and Butchers”
WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY ABOUT DIVORCE?
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
Another verson (GNT) of verse 16:
16 “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel. “I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife.”
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 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.
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
I CORINTHIANS 7
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?…
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
The entire book of Hosea is about the faithful love of God as a Husband to His faithless people Israel – portrayed vividly in the marriage of Hosea ,the prophet, to the prostitute, Gomer.
God does not divorce His people. Even though they deserved it time and time again because of their idolatry – which is like adultery in God’s sight – a heinous breaking of their covenant relationship with Him.