Is it OK for a Christian to Get Divorced?

A Christian man signing divorce papers
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Divorce In Christianity

Despite its various denominations, Christianity is based on the experiences and overall life of Jesus Christ as recorded and taught in the Bible. The faith, which only has one God to put their trust and belief in, is based on the life, burial, and ascension of Christ. With over 2.2 billion adherents worldwide, it is one of the biggest religions.

Divorce seems to be an established part of life around us and embedded in our culture. Yet, it poses a moral quandary for several Christians stuck in unhappy relationships. Do people stay in a dysfunctional—if not dangerous—marriage because of a pledge and covenant? Is it OK for a Christian to get divorced when something in their marriage doesn’t go as planned? Or do they go against their convictions and file for divorce? These harsh options can make Christians feel as if they are in a state of limbo, where they no longer feel devoted to an irreparable marriage but are unwilling to take the first step toward a fresh start.

Divorce in the Bible

We should first look into what the Holy Bible teaches us regarding divorce. The only divorce legislation in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy. The Israelites are granted a law that allows for divorce, making it OK for a man to pen a divorce document if he no longer gets pleasure from his wife. This allows her to marry someone else. Views vary if this law was meant to excuse divorce; however, many theologians think that it was provided as a means to give protection to people who are going through a divorce.

Christ takes a more balanced approach, in the New Testament, to this subject at first. The Pharisees asked Jesus whether it was OK for a man to provide divorce documents for any reason to his wife (Matthew 19:3). The Pharisees arrived and sought to trap Christ with this question.

They wanted to persuade Christ to prove a clear-cut answer to ascertain where he stood on Moses’s divorce laws in Deuteronomy. On the other hand, Christ understood their motives and intents as well as their hardened hearts. Rather than responding to their query, Christ quoted Genesis, saying, “Let no one separate what the Lord has merged together.”

When the Pharisees started interrogating Christ, he used this moment to elaborate on Moses’s law, explaining that God hasn’t commanded for divorce and has no intention for that. Moses only allowed divorce on the grounds of compromise for their hard hearts. Adultery is committed by anyone who divorces their spouse and marries another person. According to Christ, God’s standard goes further than the law and declares that no one should divorce.

Something observed here is comparable to what we saw in Matthew 18 when Peter asks Christ regarding forgiveness. He asked about how many times one person should forgive, as Peter was perplexed. Peter, like the Pharisees, didn’t ask this question to increase his knowledge but rather as an attempt to exalt him. According to God’s standard, Christ said, you would have to forgive 77 times.

This is a perfect example of what Christ wants from us. Christ doesn’t desire a hesitant heart. We are not to check the box because he doesn’t want us to. He asks us to give it our all to find Him, follow Him with an open mind, and not settle for the bare minimum in life. However, showing kindness in situations is a gift to Him.

Grounds For Divorce

Divorce isn’t promoted or encouraged in Christianity. It doesn’t lightly endorse or dismiss divorce. However, in certain situations, it does permit it. What are they, exactly? The idea of being “one flesh” in the creation gives us a hint. God intended for a married couple to act as if they were intertwined: having one heart, mind and flesh and in terms of spiritual, bodily, and emotional closeness.

Their marital link is dissolved when something so terrible happens that both partners are inconsolable, and the marriage becomes weak. That the union is a closed chapter is reflected in this brokenness. Marriages frequently get dissolved and end in dissolution before either spouse files for divorce.

Adultery

One of the breakdowns that Christ expressly discusses is adultery. From olden times to the current day, infidelity has shattered couples. Yes, marriages do fail for a variety of factors. Besides cheating, the 3 As—abandonment, addiction, and abuse—are common causes of brokenness.

Addiction

Addiction will destroy anything and everyone in its path if it’s not treated. The addict would prefer alcohol or narcotics over their spouse, job, and even children. There will come a time when their partner is forced to make a tough decision to announce the marriage irrevocably shattered to protect not just their sanity but to keep their children safe and secure.

Marriage is supposed to be a source of joy for a lifetime. It shouldn’t feel like a jail sentence with an addicted inmate.

Abuse

The most common image that comes to mind is that of physical abuse. However, it can also be emotional and vocal. You have to ask yourself whether you presently have a spouse who acts a certain way publicly and differently when you’re at home. Do you have a partner that calls you names, belittles you and bullies you?

Non-physical abuse takes many forms, and these are just a few instances. While conscientious spouses strive to resolve these issues, long-term abuse can leave a marriage dangerous and unhealthy. Endangering a partner regularly and unashamedly violates the “oneness” that the Lord wants in a marriage.

Abandonment

Lastly, abandonment can lead to brokenness. When one partner has opted out of their marital vows (whether emotionally or physically), the other partner isn’t compelled to stay faithful to their vows either. A fairytale marriage that was supposed to bring happiness turns out to be a curse.

Our Final Thoughts

A lot of Christians have dug themselves a grave by constantly asking themselves, “is it OK for a Christian to get divorced” as they still get confused about whether it is the right thing to do or not. God would never let us be in a situation where we remain unhappy and unhealthy. For that, we should thank him daily.