Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Divorce and the Church

Why is there so much divorce in the Church? Divorce is so prevalent among Christians it has reached an epidemic level.

Scripture is clear that one may divorce for only two possible cases: infidelity (adultery) and in the case where a believer is married to a non-believer and the non-believer wants a divorce. That is it! It doesn't say you can divorce if you think your husband doesn't fulfill your emotional needs, it doesn't say you can divorce if you argue too much, it doesn't say you can divorce if you no longer love each other, etc.. Scripture is very clear on this matter, yet divorce is RAMPANT in the Church. How can this be?

“Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9; see also Matthew 5:31, 32).

Yet even in that case it is better (assuming the transgressor is repentant) if the marriage can be saved:

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18).

“And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12).

Christ said:

“He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6).

So clearly God takes marriage very seriously and so should we. I read that according to polling Christians actually now have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians! This is truly shameful and appalling. I've heard of couple getting divorced for the most flimsy of reasons. Why are so many entering marriage with such immaturity? Could pastors do more to prepare couples for marriage? Could parents do more in raising up their children to have a Biblical view of marriage? I have even seen some Christians arrogantly assert that getting divorced is their right. If you point out that there is only two acceptable cases for divorce they will literally become enraged and rant about how dare you tell them how to live their life, etc. Clearly they have a very low view of God's Word even though they claim to be Christians.

Another problem I have noticed is Christians marrying non-Christians. Once again Scripture is crystal clear on this matter:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14).

The other case for divorce is if a Christian is married to a non-Christian and the non-Christian wants a divorce. Paul writes:

“If the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace” (I Corinthians 7:15).

I hate to say it, but I suspect not enough preachers are saying what Scripture clearly teaches on divorce because they fear alienating a good portion of their congregation who have already divorced and remarried for unbiblical reasons! We must teach pastors to be bold when proclaiming Biblical truths and not to act cowardly. This is such a sad thing to witness. The destruction done to society is massive and when children are involved the negative repercussions can last a lifetime. Yet, I feel as if almost no one in the Church truly seems to care about it. We need to life up our voices and speak out on this issue, even if it makes people uncomfortable, even if our pastor doesn't want to speak about it, even if we lose friends in the process.


  1. Good points, Zack. At the couples bible study at my church this very matter (and the two only possible situation that ALLOW but *don't* MANDATE divorce) was studied and the approach was the same as yours.

    God bless,
    Natan Cerqueira

  2. Thanks brother. Correct it is not mandated in those situations. Always every effort should be taken to save the marriage if it can be saved and restored. God can do amazing things!

  3. Thank you for sharing the scriptures and information related to this topic. After having read it, it encourages me to study more as it leaves me wondering: in the event that there is an unbelieving spouse who is blatantly defiling the marriage and not actively accountable to God, it is not of God to leave the believing wife in bondage and in danger / peril for his abominous behavior. Put another way, if the wife to her husband and he is repeatedly unfaithful such that he puts her life and health at risk on a regular basis she should not be trapped. Do we need to pray for his desire to be divorced? just a thought....side note, sometimes they start out evenly yoked and grow unevenly later

  4. I agree. It is a sad fact that "Christians" are divorcing at such alarming rates. I would also say that we should be just as shaken by this (if not more so) as same-sex marriage. Sin is sin, regardless of the form taken. Should we condone same-sex marriage? No. Should we condone divorce? No. It seems like the church has become too wrapped in in staying relevant and allowing its congregants whatever worldly "privilege/right" they want. As Paul Washer put it, being a preacher might be a job for wild men and fools, but it is not a job for cowards. Far too many pastors nowadays are cowards when it comes to standing firmly for truth. I would place the burden of responsibility at the feet of the pastors as well as of the congregants; being Gospel ignorant is not a good excuse.

  5. Nicole,

    Yes sometimes one spouse falls away from faith so in that case it becomes an unequally yoked marriage and divorce is then Biblically permissible. I agree, if the spouse is unfaithful then there is a strong Biblical warrant for divorce. No one should have to put up with that sort of betrayal and emotional abuse! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Matthew,

    Hi. Oh yes you hit right on what I think is the central problem behind this explosive amount of divorce in the Church: the failure of our pastors! They are absolutely acting in a cowardly manner. Just think about the fact that divorce is MORE COMMON among Christians than non-Christians!!! We are called to be light and salt unto the world, we are to stand apart from the immoral practices of the world. What an appalling state we find ourselves in now. I pray pastors will start seriously preaching on divorce and what makes a Biblical healthy marriage. Thanks for your comment!

  7. It is as Spurgeon said when he spoke on entertainment in the church, "What was the attitude of the Church to the world? “Ye are the salt,” not the sugar candy — something the world will spit out, not swallow." Unfortunately, it seems like most pastors have forgotten that or never learned that in the first place. Every person has an innate desire to be liked and appreciated by others; to feel wanted and to know you have a place in society/community. Too many pastors fear what may become of them or their job if they begin to preach the hard truths. Instead of having faith in God and knowing He will provide for His people, they put their faith in other people in the hopes that they will have a comfortable life ensured by the tithes and offerings which is ensured by soft preaching. As the saying goes, soft preaching makes soft men.

  8. Exactly brother! This is one of the main reasons why too often we find cultural Christianity in America and not true Biblical Christianity! Preachers are giving soft messages to placate and appease their sinful congregations! We need to see hellfire and brimstone preaching again. Do you read any of the 17th century Puritan preachers? They gave very fiery and moving sermons that saw people come to genuine repentance and eventually sanctification. We need to see that again. We need men of God who are wholly unafraid to preach the hard and unpopular Biblical truths their people need to hear! Let it be so Lord Jesus! Amen.

  9. I am acquainted with Jonathan Edwards, and I believe he had the most famous "Fire and Brimstone" sermon in history, though I am not too well read when it comes to the Puritans.

    My wife is not a fan of the fire and brimstone preaching. Nor are most Christians I know (and I do mean Christians; people who I am certain as I can be as to their eternal soul). I can understand that, and too an extent I would agree with that. Preaching fire and brimstone constantly can create as false an image of God as does preaching only on His Love- the two most go together. I firmly believe we do need more fire and brimstone, some actual fear of the Lord in people. Again, I would say it should never be separated from the Grace of God, as I am sure you would agree.

  10. From Scott: Most churches out there don't want to offend people by teaching THE TRUTH because then they lose people + money. Pastors will be judged along with all Christians. many appease the itching ears.

  11. Matthew,

    You're right. The sermon was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and you can read it here:

    Oh yes I agree, you need a balance. Definitely the pendulum has swung the other way and we are once again in need of preachers giving fire and brimstone type sermons. Just look at a website like CBD that sells Christian books, when I browse their bestsellers I often see books focusing on God's love and grace (and that's important), but rarely anything dealing with God's righteousness and how to live a holy sanctified life!

  12. Scott,

    Hi. I agree with you completely! It is really very prevalent and a great shame. Sadly too many pastors place their own popularity (and money) above their calling to preach the whole truth of Scripture!


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