Divorce And Remarriage

There is no more challenging topic on which to write than divorce. Theology and sociology often clash on this. It is a sensitive emotional issue.

Very, very few people believe in divorce. Those who believe in it least of all are often persons having experienced it. They know the complexity and pain involved. They know the feeling of failure, loneliness, and often a sense of moral impropriety.

Joseph Epstein, social science researcher on divorce, says, “To go through a divorce is still, no matter how smooth the procedure, no matter how ‚Äúcivilized’ the conduct of the parties involved, no matter how much money is available to cushion the fall, a very special private hell.”

Author Paul Bohanan points out there is no such thing as A divorce. There is (1) the emotional divorce, (2) the legal divorce, (3) the economic divorce, (4) the co-parental divorce, (5) the community divorce, (6) the psychic [personal identity] divorce, and (7) the spiritual divorce.

Some persons are cavalier about divorce. If their spouse isn’t making them “happy” it is time to cop out. They see it as an escape hatch to happiness. It isn’t. One large study survey compares unhappy spouses who divorce or separate with unhappy spouses who stay in their marriages. In general unhappy spouses who divorced or separated were not happier five years later than those who stayed in their unhappy marriages. Two-thirds of unhappy spouses who stayed married ended up happily married five years later.

Some spouses are victims of spousal abuse which may include neglect, physical beatings, financial bondage, or sexual degradation. They may not believe in nor want a divorce. Neither do we believe in being run over by Mack trucks but it happens. In spite of efforts to avoid it there are some persons who strive to preserve the marriage who still suffer divorce.

In the secular world divorce is the accepted norm. In the realm of Bible principles it isn’t. However, in trying to aid in divorce recovery it often appears the practice is acceptable. Though it isn’t the support of those who have experienced it is most commendable.

There is little difference in the church and non-church community in the divorce rate. About 25% of people in North America have been though at least one divorce. Among churchgoers who claim to be born-again the figure is actually higher: 27%.

God said, “He hates divorce…” (Malachi 2: 16). Like God, we should love spiritually restored divorcees and yet not approve of divorce.

Divorcees need to be understanding at this point also. They should not be condemning of persons who do not approve of un-Biblical divorce. Some who love and support divorcees the most are persons who do not approve of un-Biblical divorce.

Two situations deserve special attention. There may be marriages when it is virtually impossible to live with an abusive spouse. It is safer to live apart. Such separation should be considered temporary and the person open to reconciliation.

I Corinthians 7: 10, 11 speaks to this type situation. “A wife must not be separated from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.” This affords only two options: remain single or be reconciled.

When persons who have divorced and married another person become convinced divorce and remarriage are wrong they sometimes question what to do. Should they divorce again? No. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Seek the Lord forgiveness, confess sin, seek His mercy, and commit yourself and your marriage for Him to us. Remembering His grace is freely given but at great expense to Him. Don’t impose on it.

There are two cases in which the Bible allows divorce. Persons considering a divorce should not rationalize their case and try to pretend it is in one of those categories when it isn’t. They do not encourage divorce but do permit it in these instances. The first is when one spouse is guilty of sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 5: 32; 19:9). The other is when a non-Christian spouse abandons a spouse who is a Christian (I Corinthians 7: 12-16). In both of these instances divorce is a result of sin, but such divorces are not sinful.