fam18 Is divorce permitted? is a tract about the failure of divorce. It is to be avoided although in some cases it has to be.
Is Divorce Permitted?
By David Cox
[Fam18] v1 ©2009 www.coxtracts.com
You may freely reproduce this tract for non-profit purposes
For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away (divorce)… therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Malachi 2:16
Divorce is a failure of the marriage that has to do with the two persons and with their disloyalty one to the other, and with respect to their vows. Both of them are always the problem, although one blames the other, but in the end, both make the marriage what it is by their own decisions (will) and efforts. Often lack of discernment is at fault, and we learn by our errors but only after suffering greatly. Often young people don’t wait nor study the other person sufficiently to see true good character before committing to their future spouse. God hates divorce. It is sin, and we should also hate it and avoid it at all costs, especially before deciding on a mate, and if we are married, we should do everything humanly possible to make our marriage work. We turn to God’s way of doing things, and ultimately beg God’s grace on our marriage to make it work right.
The Holiness of Marriage
Mat 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Marriage is not a just contract between a man and a woman, but it is a spiritual and holy institution in which God establishes a home. Even though God permits men and women to choose with whom they should marry, once married, God enters that relationship to confirm and ratify the relationship between them, and to make them one.
Mal 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
God has declared that the function or purpose of a marriage is to establish “a godly seed.” “Seed” is to have children and posterity, which is the fruit of the union between a man and a woman. A united couple is “wholesome” and very important in the proper formation of Christian and holy children (a godly posterity), and likewise a home that is not fractured and divided is essential. In order to achieve the purposes of God, this “home” has to have a father-husband and a mother-wife. Both parent-child as well as husband-wife relationships are essential. The son will imitate his father, treating his future wife as he sees his father treating his mother, and equally the daughter will imitate her mother, and expect her relationship with her future husband to be like her father treated her mother. The idea is that the biological father and mother function as a Christian couple for the purposes of God. The idea of divorce, especially for remarriage, undermines the purposes of God, destroying God’s work through the home. Once the home is destroyed, or you form an instable home by unfaithfulness or carelessness (which is a fault in YOUR CHARACTER), then it is too late. God made the marriage a divine institution, and God made it holy. Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Divorce in the Old Testament
But many ask, “Wasn’t divorce permitted by God in the Old Testament?”
Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Jesus clarified that because of their rebellion and hardness of heart in obeying God, Moses legislated divorce as a civil matter within the society of Israel. Moses made rules about these practices in Deu. 24:1, and it is very highly debated if this passage speaks of divorce at any time, or just after the wedding (before consummation of the marriage) or even in the year engagement period. The divorce in this context had to do with the wife being “indecent” (Hebrew “spotted”) that refers to a sexual disease. In discovering this on their “honeymoon”, the man could divorce his wife before consummating their marriage, and both were free to marry again. Many see this passage as speaking of divorce “before consummation”, and before living together. In any case, Moses wasn’t “giving permission” but rather imposing order on disorder. Jesus’ teaching is that divorce never was, is not, and will never be the will of God. The will of God is that husband and wife live together until death do them part when God dissolves their relationship.
The Position of Jesus Christ and Paul
Mark 10:11 …Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Jesus took the position that divorce is a sin, because they are trying to separate what God has put together (Mark 10:9). Now in all the verses that speak about divorce, we see that remarrying after a divorce is the sin of adultery, a sin so bad that the O.T. put the death penalty on it. Paul expands on Christ’s words in 1 Corinthians 7.
1Cor 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Paul says that it is good to be married in order to avoid sexual temptations (which leads to fornication), and he adds… 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife. 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
In general it is a sin to get a divorce, but if an unbeliever divorces a Christian (abandonment essentially), then the Christian is not in sin (supposing that the Christian did not cause their problems except in being an obedient follower of Christ). Every remarriage after divorce is adultery. Divorce is totally against God’s will, and it can be nothing but a disaster every time. There are no “clean divorces”, because it is a total failure of the marriage and family, and because of that, God hates it. Disobedience always causes hurt, pain, and suffering.
Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
There is no possibility of remarriage as long as the first spouse is alive without falling into the sin of adultery. Paul allows no exceptions to this.
What is the Solution?
Paul clarified in 1 Corinthians 7 that it should always be the unsaved partner that abandons the relationship, because a true Christian will not cause nor instigate a divorce or separation. He/she also will not cause antagonisms to provoke friction and problems, nor push things towards a divorce (Gal 5:15). 1Cor 13:5 says that true love “seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” In marital problems, most people “demonize” their partner, assigning all evil to them. Divorce is a failure of the marriage where one abandons the relationship and the sacred vows they have promised before God. Perhaps the root problem is not seeing the sacredness of marriage before choosing a mate, or in choosing an inadequate mate. Perhaps other essential factors are not developing their relationship in holy seriousness, nor founding their home on the principles of God’s Word. But we are responsible for the mess we make, and the first step for resolving things is to never place divorce “on the table” as an alternative. We do everything possible to avoid it and reconcile.
Secondly we have to return our lives to live under the principles of God. Divorce and marital problems happen because we are not the godly Christians that we should be. With or without a divorce, our spiritual problem is still there, and it will manifest itself again in the future, which is why so many divorcees marry and get divorced again. Even when we conclude that it is impossible to live with “that person,” we sell God short as though He is impotent to change lives, hearts, and character (through our prayers mostly). Rather than responsibly fighting the spiritual fight, we turn tail and run. The price of God changing others is often our own willingness to give, change, and live sacrificial love. Our refusal to be the one God uses to change others (because we will not give of our own selves) is why we never seem to see the blessings of God on our life.
Mat 5:32 whosoever shall put away his wife…. 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
In other words, in the same passage that Jesus taught about divorce, he gave us the correct Christian attitude; always turn the other cheek, so that the character of God shines through us. When the Christian stays, there is always the possibility of winning the unsaved spouse to Christ. 1Pet 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
More Tracts from the Family Category
- fam01 Biblical love: How Christians should love
- fam02 Seeking a Christian mate
- fam03 Biblical principles for a solid marriage
- fam04 Resolving without Divorce
- fam05 Disciplining our Children
- fam06 Training our Kids
- fam07 The submission of the woman
- fam08 Abortion: Permitted by God, or is it sin?
- fam09 Why is abortion an abomination in the sight of God?
- fam10 The covetous that hordes
- fam11 Pious Mothers: Oh How we need them!
- fam12 Common law marriages
- fam13 Polygamy: Is it biblical to have multiple spouses?
- fam13 Polygamy: Is it biblical to have multiple spouses?
- fam14 Fathers that Please God
- fam15 Always late for the house of God
- fam16 Christmas: Is it for Christians?
- fam17 Submission and Head Coverings
- fam18 Is divorce permitted?
- fam19 Is remarriage permitted after divorce?
- fam21 Child Kings Parents that let their kids Rule
- fam26 Wise advice for youth version 2.1
- fam27 Dress of a Christian Woman
- fam30 what does it mean to be a man of God?
- fam31 “Pastor, I am going to get a divorce”
- fam37 Manliness: Acting like a Man
- fam42 The Foolish Child
- fam48 Men are God’s Agents
- fam50 The Christian as a Worker
- fam62 How to be a Feminine Woman
Author Pastor David Cox