Type to search

Marriage: What about divorce?

Gary Googe Dec 06

There’s much that can be said about marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  As always, I’ll try to be brief but thorough as we look at some things the Bible has to say to us about divorce.

As I hope we all know, God intended marriage to be a permanent relationship.  We see this in the beginning when marriage was first designed of God.

Genesis 2:23-24 [Quoted in Matthew 19:5-6 & Ephesians 5:31]

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. [Emphasis added]

We are commanded to cleave, to stick like glue to our mate.  It is, therefore, no wonder that the Bible also tells us God hates divorce.

Malachi 2:16a

16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away [separation and divorce]: [Emphasis added]

This warns us that no one should enter marriage with anything but complete determination to make the relationship work “for better or for worse.” That’s why it is a good idea for such words to be included in the vows of every marriage ceremony.  Such vows serve as a teaching session and a reminder to all who view the ceremony.  However, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, divorce is something that happens often no matter what vows are spoken.  As I write this, there’s roughly one divorce for every two marriages in America.  Even among professed Christians, the divorce rate is high and alarming.

It is interesting to note that the Greek word for divorce is APOLUO, but it is never even used by the apostle Paul.  Instead, he uses the word CHOREO which literally means to give space.  There’s a lot in the Bible that relates to marriage and separation, but the two places that seem to get the most attention on this are Matthew 19:3-9 and I Corinthians 7.  There are many comments that could be made about these two passages, as well as some others on this subject.  But instead of doing that, I’m going to address this subject with some common questions.

  1. Are we forgiven of God for whatever bad decisions we make in relation to marriage and divorce? Answer: Yes!

The Bible tells us Christ was judged on the cross for all our sins.  They were all in the future when He paid that price.  Forgiveness of all sins is ours, but if there is to be peace of mind about one’s forgiveness, God’s Word about it must be known and believed.

Psalm 103:12

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.[Emphasis added]

Many people live with guilt concerning their sins despite what God’s Word tells us He has provided through Christ’s work on the cross.  So, let’s look at that.

II Corinthians 5:21

 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us [Christ paid the penalty for all our sins], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

If God doesn’t hold your sins against you because they were all held against Christ, judged, and paid for, why should you?

II Corinthians 5:19

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]

The Bible assures us of God’s forgiveness of all our sins.  This is despite the fact that we don’t deserve it.  What a wonderful example this proves to be for us as we would follow His example by being forgiving in marriage and in all other relationships!

Ephesians 1:7

 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [Emphasis added]

Forgiveness is so important that Paul speaks of it often.

Colossians 1:14

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: [Emphasis added]

Again, the Bible encourages us about this.  As believers we should know that all this forgiveness was provided through Christ’s crucifixion as an expression of God’s love for us.

Colossians 2:13-14

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he  quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [Emphasis added]

In the ancient world, the list of charges against a criminal who was crucified was nailed to his cross.  We are told that the “charges” against us were all fully paid for graciously by Christ on His cross.  We are told to forgive others of their sins as we have been forgiven of ours.  Many marriages could be saved if this one principle was applied.

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. [Emphasis added]

  1. When a divorce has been legally finalized, are the parties free to marry another? Answer: By national laws, yes, but by God’s laws, it depends on the circumstances!

I have found that most people are going to do as they please regardless of what the Bible says.  That attitude has much to do with why so many marriages end in divorce.  But here’s what God has to say about it.

I Corinthians 7:10-13

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 [Note I Corinthians 14:37—Paul is simply distinguishing between the things specifically revealed to him through Christ as opposed to those things he wrote with his God-given apostolic authority.]: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not [a wife who is an unbeliever], and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away [separate from her].

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. [Emphasis added]

Always realize that God’s way is best, regardless of how things may appear.  People can often cite cases where people divorced, married someone else, and ended up with a wonderful marriage despite what is stated here in this passage about remarriage.  But we must always know that the end never justifies the means.  As far as God is concerned, it is in a separated or divorced person’s best interests to seek reconciliation, as long as their mate has not married another party.  Unless that has happened, they are to refrain from remarriage to another party and seek reconciliation.  Always know that there’s no one who has ever loved you more and wanted what is in your best interests more than God.  Furthermore, there’s no one who has more wisdom about what’s best for you than God.  We all need to believe that.

  1. Is a person continually living in adultery and sin if they remarry after a divorce? Answer: No! Divorce formally finalizes the relationship. 

But it is God’s will for marriage to be a permanent relationship.  If divorce occurs, it is, therefore, usually a sin.

Matthew 19:9

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

But once divorce has occurred, the marital relationship has come to an end.  There’s nothing in Scripture to show that the sin is perpetuated without end.

It is important to note that in the Bible we actually have the case of God [Jehovah] divorcing Israel.

 Isaiah 50:1

1 Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. [Emphasis added]

It was then that He ceased to be married to Israel.  Israel, the unbelieving spouse, left God.  Divorce ends any marriage.  Then, in the book of Hosea, we have the story of Israel’s remarriage to Jehovah.

  1. What is the chief cause for divorce? Answer: The hardness of one’s heart.

The personal choice to reject God’s Word and resist His will is the chief cause for the problems that lead to marital conflict and divorce itself.

Matthew 19:8

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered [permitted] you to put away[divorce] your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. [Emphasis added]

James 4:1

1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members [body parts]? [Emphasis added]

  1. Can a broken marriage be repaired? Answer: Yes! There is always a divine solution.

Every unbeliever first needs the salvation God freely offers.  That is provided immediately through faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

In cases where believers are involved, the answer rests in turning to the authority of God’s Word in one’s life.  It is knowledge and application of God’s Word that will appropriately address and provide a solution for any and every problem in life.

Ephesians 4:30-32

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. [Emphasis added]

Sin is a choice.  A change in choices can restore a marriage.  It is when God’s Word is applied that one’s attitude of love for one’s mate can be restored and made even better than it was when the couple first married.  People who choose divorce as “a shortcut” will never know what could have been in the relationship if they had addressed the problems God’s way.

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Emphasis added]

It is God’s Word that has tremendous value, providing wisdom for decision-making in everyday life for marriage and so much more.

Proverbs 8:11

11 For wisdom [the wisdom of God’s Word] is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. [Emphasis added]

Colossians 3:12-13, 16-19

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies [a command to be empathetic and merciful], kindness, humbleness of mind [having true humility], meekness [a non-disputing attitude], longsuffering [being patient in spite of difficulties];

13 Forbearing one another [putting up with one another’s weaknesses], and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Being “forbearing” is to do with being tolerant in the sense that you recognize that your mate has a sinful nature just as you doNo marriage can survive without forgiveness.  There will always be times when Grace [that which is not deserved] must be extended.  Both parties will inevitably commit wrongs where there’s a need for it.  This is but one of the applications that must be made if a marriage is to be restored and/or sustained.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Then we have two very important commands that must be obeyed.  No marriage will be the blessed relationship God designed it to be without this.  It is only when we obey His Word that we can expect His blessings in the relationship.

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Some translations have tried to soften this by changing the word submit to something else.  But the Greek text [HUPOTASSO] tells us “submit” is a perfect word in today’s English for what is being said.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. [Emphasis added]

  1. What freedom to remarry does one have if an unbelieving mate refuses to reconcile and is determined to part ways? Answer: Complete freedom!
I Corinthians 7:15

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. [Emphasis added]

This is probably what happened to the apostle Paul.  We know that to become a Pharisee, one had to be married, even though there’s no record of his marriage in the Scriptures.  Please notice how wonderfully God used Paul despite this.  To me, he became the greatest believer of all time.  We know from the Scriptures that he will enjoy great reward in eternity for his service to our Lord, as will all faithful believers.  That includes some who’ve been through divorce.  Here are Paul’s words about himself in this.

II Timothy 4:7-8

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. [Emphasis added]

  1. Is there ever a time when a spouse is justified in separating themselves from their mate? Answer: Yes! In cases of physical abuse!

We all have a right to life.  Physical abuse is never to be tolerated in a marriage.  However, although such abuse provides a right to separation, it does not provide justification for a divorce.  There’s always the hope that the abusing party will change so that complete reconciliation can be achieved.

  1. Does being married to an unbelieving mate justify initiating a divorce? Answer:  No!

This is because there is always the possibility of the unbelieving mate being led to Christ for salvation.

I Corinthians 7:12-17

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.

Again, please realize that even though Paul expresses this in this manner (But to the rest speak I, not the Lord), this is still God’s Word to us on this.  She is NOT to be divorced.

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.

This is apparently telling us the “sanctified” one [the believer] proves to be a blessing to the others in the relationship.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. [Emphasis added]


If you marry, resolve to marry only a believer and to conduct your role in the relationship God’s way.  That will require you to spend some time learning from the Bible the role God desires for you to have in the relationship.  This will, therefore, demand one’s conscientious study of the Scriptures.  But some failures are bound to occur in the learning process.  With the failures come the suffering associated with it.  We all make mistakes, and we all have a sinful nature that, when allowed, can take us down the wrong path.  But never forget about the love God has for you, coupled with His grace.  We’re all in a position to learn from the mistakes of others as well as our own.  It is in this manner that we can grow spiritually.  Such spiritual growth can produce a wonderful marriage.

Share this article:
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Contact 4Us/2Us

    [super_form id="692"]

    Support Our Ministry


    Your gifts will be a part of the means by which this ministry is supported and sustained.

    Our objective is to give people the truth they need by which to gain salvation and to grow spiritually.

    We very much appreciate your part in this great work.

    Donation amount
    Donation frequency

    Don't worry - your information is safe with us!