Divorce and the Bible

Here is yet another paper I have written for school. This is on a popular subject, the Bible and divorce! I have had a lot of these questions before and I suspect a lot of other people have as well. I hope someone will find this to be useful information!

<><  Summer



I have certainly had my fair share of marital troubles, and I admire any couple who makes the wise choice to seek out God’s teachings on these issues before making any decisions.

Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God is acknowledging how man and woman are incomplete alone, and has provided us with marriage to solve this problem. God paints us a picture of marriage in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” By the phrase “one flesh” we see that it is required that marriage be an exclusive relationship, or a total union of two persons (excluding permission of polygamy). This also means that promiscuity and sexual unions are not permissible, since they violate holiness and only temporarily establish a one-flesh relationship (1 Cor. 6:16) (Elwell, 743).

Today it is the popular belief that marriage is validated by a signed document which states a couple’s desires to be joined together. Keeping the previously stated Bible verses in mind, it is important to note when God considers a couple married. God views marriage as the commitment to leave one’s parents, in order to be joined with another person (Gen. 2:24), and to create a foundation for their own family (Genesis 1:28 be fruitful and increase in number…). This spiritual commitment is confirmed through the joining of the two fleshes as one (1 Corinthians 6:16).

In the Old Testament I see four legitimate reasons for divorce: in the case that a husband is not providing food, shelter, or properly caring for his wife (Exodus 21:10-11), or if a spouse has committed adultery (Deuteronomy 24:1-5). Since abuse is the opposite of providing what is physically required I also believe there is Biblical allowance for divorce in a case of domestic violence.

While the teachings in Deuteronomy were mostly aimed at preventing cruelty, Jesus’ teaching focuses on unlawful sexual misbehavior (Mathew 19:9; 5:32) (Elwell, 348).  Additionally, Paul seems to add that divorce is allowed in the instance of desertion of a believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15-16). “While divorce appears to be allowed in both Testaments (Deut. 24:1-5; 1 Cor. 7:15, 27-28), it is never encouraged because it always violates God’s original intention in marriage.” (Towns, 25)

Unfortunately a lot of people do not even consider these reasons before getting a divorce. I believe in today’s society many people are jumping from one person to the next without considering God’s laws or legitimate reasons for divorce.

Many people would probably object my view because they think that the Bible only allows permission for divorce by two reasons; adultery, and the desertion of a spouse by an unbeliever. Many do not believe the reasons I stated from the Old Testament are still valid because of Jesus’s teaching in Mathew 19:9, “9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” However; Jesus made a harsh point with these people because they had trivialized divorce (as many do today) and were divorcing for almost no reason at all.



It would appear that there are only a few instances when it would be acceptable for someone to marry after divorce: when a spouse dies (1 Corinthians 7:39), when divorce takes place because of sexual immorality (Mathew 19:9), and some interpret 1 Corinthians 7:15-16 to say it is okay to remarry when an unbelieving partner deserts the believing partner. However, in regards to 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 Towns (page 26) says, “This verse warns the divorced about remarriage, but also states that it is not a sin to do so. If God permits a divorce, then He permits a remarriage.” I tend to agree with this statement.

According to Elwell (page 1008), “Many marriages are broken because of some sort of personal inadequacy in maintaining faithfulness and upholding commitment.” The issue of divorce in society is usually an issue of sin. I have noticed that the more sinful our society becomes, the more prevalent divorce becomes. I have seen that divorce by itself is not the sin, but the act which leads to divorce and severs the “one flesh” is the sin. In regards to sin which leads to divorce, this is obviously an issue in both society and in the church.

Divorce is an issue that can leave someone broken spiritually and hinder a walk with God. God has commanded us to be one flesh, and “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mathew 19:6) This is why we must seek God’s guidance in marriage and always let Him lead.


Word Count # 783



Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. second. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House

Company, 2001. 743, 348, 1008. Print.


Towns, Elmer. Bible Answers For Almost All Your Questions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003.

25, 26. Print.


7 thoughts on “Divorce and the Bible

    • First hand experience.. I have seen how sin can truly destroy a marriage.. I can honestly say that it is nearly impossible to have a successful marriage unless God is at the center of both partners lives. These are all questions that I have prayed about and struggled with at some time or another, and I am sure a lot of people struggle with these questions if their marriage is going south.

      I don’t want to put too much personal info out on the internet, but I will say that I married my high school sweet heart at a young age. When our daughter was 8 months old we separated and later divorced. One year ago, however, we re-married. I have experienced how divorce can not only destroy a person’s life and reputation, but also their walk with God.

  1. God hates divorce but not the divorced. It is great you got together again with your husband. I pray that the Lord would strengthen your marriage as you both seek him individually and as a couple.

  2. Pingback: Marriage & Divorce Part 2 | Clay Williams

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