Someone recently said to me: “Evangelicals must make the biblical case against divorce. God Hates Divorce.”
Agreed. The preferred sentiment is to always err on the side of preserving the sanctity of marriage. Divorce, in the case of adultery, is God’s permissive will – not an obligation or mandate. If one can find the inner will, remain attached.
As a divorced Christian man, and at the risk of possibly sounding self serving (though nothing of the kind is intended), please indulge my perspective for a moment.
Actually according to Matthew 18 & 19 Jesus clearly states that the ultimate and possibly ONLY true “grounds for divorce” is hardness of heart (Matthew 19:8).
The steps (words of Jesus) are clear and succinct:
1) Confront your spouse – Matthew 18:15-17. “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
2) Bring a witness if they will not listen – (v16). But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
3) Escalate it to the proper leadership within the church – (vs17).
If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church congregation; and if they refuse to listen even to the church…
4) If they still do not listen, then treat them as if they were an unbeliever – (vs17). Treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Note it does NOT say condemn them or judge them as an unbeliever. It says TREAT them as if they were.
Only God judges the heart, but He does understand that even believers are at times more than capable of acting like unbelievers and tough times may call for tough actions. The proper course of action after having thoroughly exhausted options 1,2,3 – is to treat your spouse as if he/she were an unbeliever. This may involve the police and/or legal authorities if need be. Cases such as domestic violence , substance abuse, and threats to personal safety come to mind among others.
5) If you choose the permissive option of divorce in these extreme cases, consider yourself to be free before God and man. God has declared you to be free.
That is the clear, unambiguous teaching of Scripture in Matthew 18:18-20.
8 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I have seen people send beaten wives back to abusing husbands to be beaten again, using wood-headed, cruel arguments regarding “submit to your husband”, and stupid statements regarding biblical grounds for divorce ad nauseum, when in reality Jesus made it very simple: do whatever you can to err on the side of love. But since our love is not His perfect love, situations will happen where God’s permissive will is one of God’s great gifts of tender mercies to a fallen and imperfect world.
Just as (Mark 2:27) the Son of Man was not made for the Sabbath, but rather the Sabbath was made for the Son of man — in like manner human beings were not made for marriage, but rather marriage was made for human beings.
Yes, God hates divorce but he has created a universe of free will, and if a person chooses to act like an unbeliever — he will allow them to do so. And God in his wisdom does not force believers to be “bound” to that behavior.