Divorce in the Church Are you truly obeying God's word if you don't divorce?  Michael Parker, Evangelist

Divorce in America, and around the world for that matter, is one of the most heart wrenching, life altering experiences and should not be taken lightly. It is an experience that if most people were asked, would testify that they wish never again to go through. Divorce in America is almost as popular as abortions. Nearly 51% of all marriages end up in divorce. Yet even though this is a catastrophic event for most people, Divorce is the most popular option rather than reconciliation and forgiveness.
We have reported to you on this page of our website statistics of divorce, the growing emotional and catastrophic changes we as adults are causing our children as a result of divorce, and how re-marriage can help or hinder the healing process of your divorce for the sake of the children. We first will take a look at what The Bible has to say about divorce, and remarriage.

What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?

First of all, no matter what view one takes in the issue of divorce it is important to remember the words of the Bible from Malachi 2:16a: “I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel.” According to the Bible, God’s plan is that marriage be a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since a marriage involves two sinful human beings, divorce is going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage. Many interpreters understand this "exception clause" as referring to "marital unfaithfulness" during the "betrothal" period. In Jewish custom, a man and a woman were considered married even while they were still engaged “betrothed.” Immorality during this "betrothal" period would then be the only valid reason for a divorce.

However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It is can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations is such an integral part of the marital bond “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, a breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase “and marries another” (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. It is important to note that only the innocent party is allowed to remarry. Although it is not stated in the text, the allowance for remarriage after a divorce is God’s mercy for the one who was sinned against, not for the one who committed the sexual immorality. There may be instances where the "guilty party" is allowed to remarry - but no such concept is taught in this text.

Some understand 1 Corinthians 7:15 as another “exception,” allowing remarriage if an unbelieving spouse divorces a believer. However, the context does not mention remarriage, but only says a believer is not bound to continue a marriage if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave. Others claim that abuse (spousal or child) are valid reasons for divorce even though they are not listed as such in the Bible. While this may very well be the case, it is never wise to presume upon the Word of God.

Sometimes lost in the debate over the exception clause is the fact that whatever “marital unfaithfulness” means, it is an allowance for divorce, not a requirement for divorce. Even when adultery is committed a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage. God has forgiven us of so much more. Surely we can follow His example and even forgive the sin of adultery (Ephesians 4:32). However, in many instances, a spouse is unrepentant and continues in sexual immorality. That is where Matthew 19:9 can possibly be applied. Many also look too quickly to remarriage after a divorce when God might desire them to remain single. God sometimes calls a person to be single so that their attention is not divided (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Remarriage after a divorce may be an option in some circumstances, but that does not mean it is the only option.

It is distressing that the divorce rate among professing Christians is nearly as high as that of the unbelieving world. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that reconciliation and forgiveness should be the marks of a believer’s life (Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32). However, God recognizes that divorces will occur, even among His children. A divorced and/or remarried believer should not feel any less loved by God, even if their divorce and/or remarriage is not covered under the possible exception clause of Matthew 19:9. God often uses even the sinful disobedience of Christians to accomplish great good.

"Is remarriage after divorce always adultery?"

Before we even begin to answer this question, let us reiterate, "God hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16). The pain, confusion, and frustration most people experience after a divorce are surely part of the reason that God hates divorce. Even more difficult, biblically, than the question of divorce, is the question of remarriage. The vast majority of people who divorce either remarry or consider getting remarried. What does the Bible say about this?

Matthew 19:9 says, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." See also Matthew 5:32. These Scriptures clearly state that remarriage after a divorce is adultery, except in the instance of "marital unfaithfulness.

It is our view that there are certain instances in which divorce and remarriage are permitted without the remarriage being considered adultery. These instances would include unrepentant adultery, physical abuse of spouse or children, and abandonment of a believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse. We are not saying that a person under such circumstances should remarry. The Bible definitely encourages remaining single or reconciliation over remarriage (1 Corinthians 7:11). At the same time, it is our view that God offers His mercy and grace to the innocent party in a divorce and allows that person to remarry without it being considered adultery.

A person who gets a divorce for a reason other than the reasons listed above, and then gets remarried has committed adultery (Luke 16:18). The question then becomes, is this remarriage an "act" of adultery, or a "state" of adultery. The present tense of the Greek in Matthew 5:32; 19:9; and Luke 16:18 can indicate a continuous state of adultery. At the same time, the present tense in Greek does not always indicate continuous action. Sometimes it simply means that something occurred (Aoristic, Punctiliar, or Gnomic present). For example, the word "divorces" in Matthew 5:32 is present tense, but divorcing is not a continual action. It is our view that remarriage, no matter the circumstances, is not a continual state of adultery. Only the act of getting remarried itself is adultery.

In the Old Testament Law, the punishment for adultery was death (Leviticus 20:10). At the same time, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 mentions remarriage after a divorce, does not call it adultery, and does not demand the death penalty for the remarried spouse. The Bible explicitly says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but nowhere explicitly states that God hates remarriage. The Bible nowhere commands a remarried couple to divorce. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 does not describe the remarriage as invalid. Ending a remarriage through divorce would be just as sinful as ending a first marriage through divorce. Both would include the breaking of vows before God, between the couple, and in front of witnesses.

No matter the circumstances, once a couple is remarried, they should strive to live out their married lives in fidelity, in a God-honoring way, with Christ at the center of their marriage. A marriage is a marriage. God does not view the new marriage as invalid or adulterous. A remarried couple should devote themselves to God, and to each other – and honor Him by making their new marriage a lasting and Christ-centered one (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Is abuse an acceptable reason for divorce?
While it seems obvious abuse should be an acceptable reason for divorce, the Bible gives only two reasons in which divorce is permitted: the first is in the case of abandonment of a Christian by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15), and the second is if one partner is involved in a lifestyle of infidelity (Matthew 5:32). Although God allows it in these circumstances, He has never been an endorser of divorce. It should be assumed that two Bible-believing Christians will not mutually agree to divorce, but should practice the forgiveness and love that God freely gives us. “'For I hate divorce!' says the Lord, the God of Israel...” (Malachi 2:16).

The Bible is silent on the issue of marital abuse as a reason for divorce, although it is obvious that God despises the mistreatment of wives by their husbands (Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:25-33). Abuse should not be tolerated by anyone. No one should have to live in an abusive environment, whether it involves a family member, friend, employer, caregiver, or stranger. Physical abuse is against the law, and the authorities should be the first ones contacted if this occurs.

The best way to prevent ending up feeling trapped in an abusive marriage is to get to know a potential spouse before making the commitment to marry. The signs of being an abuser are manifested in one's personality. These “red flags” are always there, but are often overlooked or even ignored when attraction and infatuation take over. These signs can include: irrational jealousy, the need to be in control, a quick temper, cruelty toward animals, attempts to isolate the other person from his or her friends and family, drug or alcohol abuse, and disrespect for their partner's boundaries, privacy, personal space, or moral values.

A wife who is being abused should get herself, and any children, out of the situation immediately and find a new temporary home. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that separation (not divorce) in this instance would be wrong. Although friends and family will likely tell the woman to immediately file for divorce, God places a much higher value on marriage than the world does.

Once separated, the abuser has the responsibility to reach out for help. First and foremost, he should seek God. “For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks” (Matthew 7:8). No one has more power to heal individuals and relationships than God. He must be the Lord of our lives, the Master of our assets, and the Head of our households.

Both husband and wife must commit themselves to God and then develop a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3). This should be accompanied by intensive Christian counseling – first individually, then as a couple, and even for the entire family if necessary.

During this time, the wife should let her husband know of her unconditional love and support, and devote herself to much prayer. Although the effort must be made on the part of her husband to make the changes, she should not give up hope if he is at first resistant. However, if he never even takes the first step, she should not consider returning to him until he does.

The abused spouse should not return home until a trained Christian counselor decides that the family will be safe in the same home as the former abuser. Together, the couple should then commit to serving and obeying God. They should spend individual time with God daily, attend a Bible-believing church, begin serving God through a ministry, and get involved in small Bible study groups that fit their needs. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

"What does the Bible say about sex before marriage / premarital sex?"

The Bible nowhere directly and explicitly states that sex before marriage is a sin. The Bible undeniably condemns adultery and sexual immorality, but the question arises, is sex before marriage considered sexual immoral? According to 1 Corinthians 7:2, “yes” is the clear answer, “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” In this verse, Paul states that marriage is the “cure” for immorality. If sex before marriage is not immoral, this verse would not make any sense. 1 Corinthians 7:2 is essentially saying, “because so many people are having immoral sex outside of marriage, people should get married.”

So, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 7:2 clearly including sex before marriage in the definition of sexual immorality, all the Bible verses that condemn sexual immorality as being sinful also condemn sex before marriage as sinful. Sex before marriage is included in the definition of sexual immorality. Therefore, there are countless Scriptures that condemn sex before marriage (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality, because they all involve having sex with someone other than your spouse. The biblical definition of sexual immorality is sex outside of marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).

Far too often we focus on the “recreation” aspect of sex without recognizing the “re-creation” aspect. Yes, sex is pleasurable. God designed it that way, and He wants men and women to enjoy sexual activity (within the confines of marriage). However, the primary purpose of sex is not pleasure, but rather reproduction. God does not outlaw sex before marriage to rob us of pleasure, but to protect us from unwanted pregnancies and children born to parents who do not want them or are not prepared for them. Imagine how much better our world would be if God’s pattern for sex was followed: fewer sexually transmitted diseases, fewer un-wed mothers, fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer abortions, etc. Abstinence is God’s only policy when it comes to sex before marriage. Abstinence saves lives, protects babies, gives sexual relations the proper value, and most importantly, honors God.

"Is it wrong for a couple to live together before marriage?"

The answer to this question depends somewhat on what is meant by “living together.” If it means having sexual relations – it is definitely sinful. Premarital sex is repeatedly condemned in Scripture along with all other forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence outside of (and before) marriage. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality, because they all involve having sex with someone you are not married to.

If "living together" means living in the same house, that is perhaps somewhat of a different issue. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong for a man and a woman to live in the same house – IF there is nothing immoral taking place. However, the problem arises in that there is still the appearance of immorality (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:3) and it will be a tremendous temptation for immorality. The Bible tells us to flee immorality, not expose ourselves to constant temptations to immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Then there is the problem of appearances. A couple that is living together is assumed to be sleeping together – that is just the nature of things. Even though living in the same house is not sinful in and of itself, the appearance of sin is being given. The Bible tells us to avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:3), to flee from immorality, and not to cause anyone to stumble or be offended. As a result, it is not honoring to God for a couple to live together before marriage.
In Summary
We can see all of these topics about marriage and divorce, and the biblical implications of each, with the effects they can have on a relationship. However, when children are added to the equation of marriage and divorce, it takes on a whole new direction of urgency and accountability. What are the accountable issues that God speaks about in his word regarding children and marriage or divorce?

"What should be the order of priorities in our family?"

The Bible does not lay out a step-by-step order for relationship priorities in a single passage. However, we can still look to the Scriptures to see general principles for prioritizing our relationships. God obviously comes first: Deuteronomy 6:5 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." If all one’s heart, soul, and strength is committed to loving God, He is the number one priority.

If you are married, your spouse comes next after God. A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Christ’s first priority—after obeying and glorifying the Father—was the Church. Here is an example husbands should follow: God first, then his wife. In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). We can draw from this the principle that her husband is second only to God in her priorities.

If husbands and wives are second only to God in our priorities, and being that a husband and wife are one flesh (Ephesians 5:31), it stands to reason that the result of the marriage relationship—children—should be the next priority. Parents are to raise godly children who will be the next generation of those who love the Lord with all their hearts (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4), showing once again that God is first in our priorities and all other relationships should reflect that.

Deuteronomy 5:16 tells us to honor our parents so that we may live long and things will go well with us. No age limit is specified, which leads us to believe that as long as our parents are alive, we should honor them. Of course, once a child reaches adulthood, he is no longer obligated to obey them (“Children, obey your parents...”), but there is no age limit to honoring them. We can conclude from this that parents are next in the list of priorities after God, our spouses, and our children.

After parents comes the rest of one's family (1 Timothy 5:8), then fellow believers. Romans 14 tells us not judge or look down upon our brothers (v. 10), nor to do anything to cause a fellow Christian to “stumble” or fall spiritually. Much of the book of 1 Corinthians is Paul’s instructions on how the Church should live together in harmony, loving one another. Other exhortations referring to our brothers and sisters in Christ are: “…serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13); “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32); “…encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11); “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Finally comes the rest of the world (Matthew 28:19), to whom we should go and bring the Gospel, making disciples of Christ among them. In conclusion, the scriptural order of priorities is God, spouse, children, parents, extended family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and the rest of the world.

So where is the aspect of our children when marriages fail? In so many broken homes across America, children are hurting. There are deep cuts of emotional depression and anxiety. Anger and confusion are also among top feelings children have regarding the breakup of a mother and father. "Who will I live with"? "How will my needs be met"? It is not a simple ordeal of providing food and shelter to a child. We as parents, married or divorced have a obligation to support our children emotionally, spiritually, monetarily, and intelligently. Teenagers are among some of the hardest and most rebellious people on the face of the planet. When a teenager looses respect for a father or a mother, it can take years to regain trust from them.
Your teenagers, either professing Christians or not, need good spiritual guidance from their Parents. Church should be a regular activity. When a teenager is rebelling against going to church with their parents, numerous red flags should be sent up indicating the reasons. Teenagers will socialize with almost anyone at school, as long as they fit in to the group they wish to associate with. Many times, teens get involved with the wrong crowd. Christian teens are especially vulnerable to worldly temptations and will walk away from their faith and yield to temptation just for the popularity factors of being accepted by their peers. It is vitally important to teens to feel accepted. Most look for that acceptance in fashionable ways, while others will do something completely out of character. Parents should firmly, yet lovingly guide their children into a life that is pleasing to God, also communicating along the way that their may be set-backs, and temptation may get the best of him or her. The bottom line is that as our heavenly father waits for us patiently to commune and have fellowship with him, we too must endure patiently the stages all teenagers go through.

Arguing with your teenager is not as important as how you argue. Your argument must remain firm and respectful, even if your teen looses their temper and slashes out against you. Emotions at this age are highly charged with hormonal imbalance. This is especially true with teenage daughters. The relationship should be an open door of communication., with trust and confidence.
Where re-marriage is a factor, step parents can either make or break the relationship with their step children by either bringing past behavioral issues from a previous marriage, and applying the same concepts to a existing marriage, or starting fresh and being sensitive to step children's behavior. Walking into a marriage with a partner that has children can be difficult at best, even if a considerable amount of time has been spent with the children prior to marriage.
Experts agree, that the only way to securely give our children a fighting chance in society is to have an excellent support system in place for starving teens who crave the attention of their parents. Teens want to be understood, and we can understand them, if we take the necessary time to do so. Jobs, friends, money, television, and a huge list of other components that take up our time and space are all deterrents to spending quality time with our children.
CHILDREN THIRD......All receive the same amount of dedication, and an equal share of time. Prayer is essential. the family that prayers together, stays together.....

What are the roles of the husband and wife in a family?

Although male and female are equal in relationship to Christ, the Scriptures give specific roles to each in marriage. The husband is to assume headship/leadership in the home (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). This headship should not be dictatorial, condescending, or patronizing of the wife, but should be in accordance with the example of Christ leading the Church. “You husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Christ loved the Church (His people) with compassion, mercy, forgiveness, respect, and selflessness; in this same way husbands are to love their wives.

Wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands. “You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; He gave His life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Being submissive is not only the responsibility of women who have Christian husbands. We should never submit to our husbands if it requires disobeying God; the relationship we have with Him is the most important (Deuteronomy 6:5). But preaching, nagging, whining, and refusing to serve will only turn an unbelieving husband away from God more. Instead, showing her husband the love of Christ through godly behavior, serving him and loving him, will give him an excellent example of how Christ served and loved the church. If a Christian woman has an unbeliever for a husband, she must not leave him if he wants to stay with her. And if a Christian husband has an unbeliever for a wife, he must not leave her if she wants to stay with him. But if the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, it is okay to let them go (1 Corinthians 7:12-15).

Although women should submit to their husbands, the Bible also tells men several times how they are supposed to treat their wives. The husband is not to take on the role of the dictator, but show respect for his wife and her opinions as well. “In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it...” (Ephesians 5:28-29). “So I say again, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). “You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly” (Colossians 3:18-19). “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. If you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard” (1 Peter 3:7). From these verses, we see that love and respect characterize the roles of both husbands and wives. If these are present, authority, headship, love and submission will be no problem for either partner.

In regard to the division of responsibilities in the home, the Bible instructs husbands to provide for their families. This means he works and makes enough money to sufficiently provide all the necessities of life for his wife and children. To fail to do so has definite spiritual consequences. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel” (1Timothy 5:8). An infidel is one who is an unbeliever. So a man who makes no effort to provide for his family cannot rightly call himself a Christian. This does not mean that the wife cannot assist in supporting the family—Proverbs 31 demonstrates that a godly wife may surely do so—but providing for the family is not primarily her responsibility—it is her husband’s. While a husband should help with the children and with household chores (thereby fulfilling his duty to love his wife), Proverbs 31 also makes it clear that the home is to be the woman’s primary area of influence and responsibility. Notice that her real estate ventures do not preclude her preparing food and making clothing for her household (vv. 13-24). Even if she must stay up late and rise up early, her family is well cared for. This is not an easy lifestyle for many women—especially in affluent Western nations—and too many women are stressed out and stretched to the breaking point by trying to wear too many hats. When this occurs, both husband and wife should prayerfully reorder their priorities and follow the Bible’s instructions on their roles.

Conflicts regarding the division of labor in a marriage are bound to occur, but if both partners are submitted to Christ, these conflicts will be minimal. If a couple finds arguments over this issue are frequent and rancorous, or they seem to characterize the marriage, the problem is a spiritual one, and the partners should recommit themselves to prayer and submission to Christ first, then to one another in an attitude of love and respect.
I conclude with this statement of faith.;

If you are married and have children, there is nothing more serious at this conjecture in our Christianity then keeping your family under the umbrella of Christ's love and protection. Satan is seeking out families at an alarming rate to dissolve the family unit with hatred for one another. Get on your knees...right now, and ask God to provide you with the love and wisdom it takes to solve YOUR crisis. Do not stop praying until God hears you. You'll be happy that you did...