Unlocking The Truth: Divorce In The Bible Explained

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Published by Shannon Jacobs



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As we navigate through life’s challenges, the topic of divorce can be a sensitive one for many, especially when viewed through the lens of the Bible.

This post will delve into the biblical perspective on divorce, examining passages from both the Old and New Testaments while shedding light on the complex issues surrounding grounds for divorce in the Bible, remarriage, and adultery.

We will also explore the importance of forgiveness, reconciliation, and the impact of divorce on children and families. Join us as we unlock the truth about this often-misunderstood topic.

Key Takeaways

  • Divorce is not God’s intention but may be permissible in certain cases, such as adultery, abandonment, or abuse.
  • Remarriage after the death of a spouse is valid but should not be taken lightly.
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation are essential for successful marriages. Christian resources can provide help during divorce.

Divorce In The Old Testament

The Old Testament mentions divorce in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Malachi. We see that God hates divorce, but it was permitted under certain circumstances. Culturally, divorce served as a means of preserving a woman’s and her family’s honor, as well as avoiding the propagation of sin and breaking the marriage covenant.

The reasons for divorce in the Old Testament mainly revolved around unfaithfulness and sin. Scripture allowed for divorce if a man or woman had been unfaithful or committed a sin, or if a man had impugned the reputation of an Israelite virgin, which could be considered sexually immoral.

The book of Malachi reflects God’s disapproval of divorce, stating that husbands who leave their wives without displaying love are unfaithful, as cited in Malachi 2:14–16, referencing the Lord Almighty. Although divorce was allowed, it was never God’s intention.

Divorce In The New Testament

Jesus’ teachings on divorce in the New Testament focus on passages from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew 5:31–32, Jesus states that divorce is only permissible on the grounds of sexual immorality. If a man divorces his wife for any other reason, he makes her a victim of adultery, and marrying a divorced woman would constitute adultery.

Matthew 19:8–9 highlights Jesus’ stance that divorce is only acceptable in incidences of sexual immorality, and that remarrying after a divorce is perceived as adultery, unless the divorced individual opts to stay single. In Mark 10:12, Jesus teaches that if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

According to Jesus, God has joined a man and a woman in marriage, and it is not the Lord’s intention for them to separate. Moses commanded to give a certificate of divorce and send her away, but according to Jesus’ teachings, a divorced woman commits adultery if she remarries, except in cases of sexual immorality. Therefore, it is better for her to remain unmarried.

Due to the lack of compassion, Moses permitted divorce, but Jesus emphasized that it was not His intention for couples to divorce, as He is known to hate divorce and is not the lord of separation.

a man and woman sitting on the bed with backs to each other

Three Biblical Grounds For Divorce

The Bible outlines three main grounds for divorce:

  1. Adultery: This involves a spouse being unfaithful in the marriage.
  2. Abandonment: According to 1 Corinthians 7:15, if the unbelieving partner chooses to separate, the other partner is not bound in servitude.
  3. Abuse: While not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, many interpret abuse as a valid ground for divorce based on the principles of love, respect, and safety within a marriage.

Regarding remarriage after the death of a spouse, Romans 7:2–3 states:

  • If a married woman cohabitates with another man while her husband is still alive, she will be deemed an adulteress.
  • However, if her husband dies, she is no longer bound by that law.
  • If she remarries, she is not considered an adulteress.

The third ground for divorce, abuse, should never be condoned, and it is an acceptable justification for divorce. Recognizing that these divorce grounds are valid, they are not to be considered casually, and the choice to divorce should always be thoughtfully weighed.

God’s View On Divorce And Marriage

The Lord God sees marriage as a lifelong partnership that mirrors His image, offers a safe home, and produces children who know and are loyal to Him. Love, respect, and commitment play significant roles in preserving a healthy relationship [1] and maintaining the marriage bed pure as the couple becomes one flesh.

Biblical teachings advise that wives ought to respect their husbands, and husbands should demonstrate love towards their wives. Ephesians 5:33 emphasizes the importance of husbands loving their wives as they love themselves and wives respecting their husbands.

In Matthew 19:6–7, Jesus stresses that no one should sever what God has joined together. God frowns upon divorce, as it can cause significant harm to all parties involved, with impacts that may last for an extended period. Divorce should only be considered as a last resort. However, God does permit divorce (and remarriage) in certain scenarios when marriage vows have been broken.

The Role Of Forgiveness And Reconciliation

Forgiveness and reconciliation hold significant roles in surmounting marital difficulties and mending strained relationships.

The Bible emphasizes the paramount importance of forgiveness in a marriage, as stated in Ephesians 4:32, which encourages spouses to be forgiving and compassionate towards each other, taking after the example of God’s forgiveness.

Reconciliation is integral to restoring a marriage and involves imploring the Lord for healing and requesting His assistance in mending the damaged relationship. The Bible advises couples to remain faithful to their marital vows and aim for reconciliation rather than opting for separation or divorce.

Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:32 are examples of biblical teachings that demonstrate the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation for a successful marriage. A compassionate attitude can be a powerful tool in restoring a marriage, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Divorce, Remarriage, And Adultery

Divorce, remarriage, and adultery are intricate issues subject to various interpretations and viewpoints based on biblical teachings. The Bible declares that whoever divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery, except in cases of immorality, which permits the offended spouse to remarry without committing adultery.

Matthew 19:9 explicitly states that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. However, 1 Corinthians 7:15–17 does not explicitly address issues of divorce, remarriage, and committing adultery, primarily focusing on the concept that if an unbelieving spouse opts to depart, the believing spouse is not bound in such scenarios.

Contrasting interpretations of biblical teachings on divorce, remarriage, and adultery include:

  1. The belief that remarriage post-divorce is seen as adultery, barring cases of “marital unfaithfulness.”
  2. The view that remarriage following an illegitimate divorce is perceived as adultery in God’s eyes
  3. The understanding that infidelity is the sole legitimate biblical cause for divorce and remarriage.

Impact Of Divorce On Children And Family

The Bible does not explicitly address the consequences of divorce on children and family but stresses the importance of reconciliation, forgiveness, and treating others with kindness and compassion, even in the event of divorce. Parents bear a significant responsibility to lessen the distress children face when they divorce or separate.

Children from divorced households can eventually regain their wholeness over time with the necessary support, counseling, and the grace of Jesus Christ. Children of divorce require a dedicated, dependable single parent who is ready to step back, heed advice, and carry out the necessary recovery steps.

Seeking Help And Support During Divorce

During the divorce process, several Christian resources are available for support, such as:

  • Focus on the Family’s network of referred Christian counselors
  • DivorceCare
  • Peace after Divorce
  • Christian Divorce Bloggers

Counseling can offer emotional support, guidance, and tools to cope with the difficulties and alterations that come with divorce, assisting individuals in navigating through the emotional phases of divorce, examining and addressing conflicts, and reconstructing their lives for a more promising future.

Prayer can serve as a potent source of comfort and resilience during divorce proceedings, aiding individuals in handling the emotional and spiritual challenges of divorce, and finding peace and hope during challenging times.

Community involvement can be a beneficial source of support during the divorce process. It offers:

  • A sense of connection and belonging
  • Assistance in finding solace and comprehension from those who have experienced similar situations
  • Useful resources and guidance to aid individuals in navigating the divorce process
a man and woman sitting separately on a couch


In conclusion, the biblical view of divorce is a complex and sensitive topic that must be approached with care and understanding.

By examining both the Old and New Testaments, we have explored the various grounds for divorce, the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the impact of divorce on children and families.

As we navigate these challenging issues, let us remember the grace and love of God, who provides guidance and support for all those affected by divorce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does The Bible Allow Divorce?

Yes, the Bible does allow divorce in certain cases such as adultery or emotional/physical neglect.

What Are The Three Grounds For Divorce In The Bible?

According to Christian tradition, the three grounds for divorce in the Bible are adultery, desertion, and marital incompatibility.

What Does God Say About Divorce Or Separation?

God commands that if a married couple separates, the wife must remain single or reconcile with her husband.

What Is The Biblical View On Remarriage After Divorce?

The Bible states that remarriage after divorce is considered adultery, except in cases of marital unfaithfulness. Therefore, the biblical view on remarriage after divorce is that it is only permitted in cases of infidelity.

How Can Forgiveness And Reconciliation Help Restore A Broken Marriage?

Forgiveness and reconciliation can foster understanding, compassion, and healing, allowing couples to move past their differences and rebuild their marriage.

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