Biblical answers to the questions of your heart

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Malachi 2:16,“I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel”.

If God hates divorce, then you should know it is wrong for anyone to divorce his wife or husband because marriage is a lifetime commitment without an exit option. The world we live in today does not respect the sanctity of marriage but God’s standard remains unchanged about it – He hates divorce.

No matter how we try to modernize or theorize the scriptures, if God hates divorce in the Old Testament then he also hates it in the New Testament. Divorce is not something to contemplate about, it doesn’t solve marital problems but rather, it makes it worse and the children are affected badly.


Divorce is not the will of God for any marriage neither was it in God’s original plan, (Malachi 2:14-16). With God’s help a marriage can survive the worst storms.

In Matthew 19:3-9, Christ teaches that Moses allowed or permitted divorce because of the hardness of the heart of the people of that time but it violated God’s original purpose for the intimate unity and permanence of the marriage bond (Genesis 2:24). Although Jesus did say that divorce is permitted in the case of adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9), we must remember that His primary point in this discourse is to correct the Jews’ idea that they could divorce one another “for any cause at all” (Matthew 19:3), and to show them the gravity of pursuing a sinful divorce. Therefore, the believer should never consider divorce except in specific circumstances as stated in Matthew5:32,19:9 and that is after all effort towards reconciliation has been fruitless since reconciliation and forgiveness is the way of true believers.

The Grounds for Divorce

The only New Testament grounds for divorce are:


SEXUAL SIN: The Greek word ‘porneia’ is translated fornication or sexual immorality by some version in Matthew 5:32; 19:9. This is a general term that encompasses all forms of sexual sin such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality and incest. When one partner violates the unity and intimacy of a marriage by sexual sin, the faithful partner is placed in an extremely difficult situation. After all means are exhausted to bring the sinning partner to repentance, the Bible permits release for the faithful partner through divorce (Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:15).

ABANDONMENT BY UNBELIEVING SPOUSE: The second reason for permitting a divorce is in cases where an unbelieving mate does not desire to live with his or her believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:12-15). Because “God has called us to peace” (v. 15), divorce is allowed and may be preferable in such situations. When an unbeliever desires to leave, trying to keep him or her in the marriage may only create greater tension and conflict.

I know a minister of the gospel that got married as an unbeliever, when he became born-again, the wife refused to accept Jesus but the man was living peacefully with her. This man later sensed the call of God into the ministry and he proceeded to the seminary. While he was in the seminary, the wife decided to call it quit. The man entreated his unbelieving wife not to abandon him and engaged other matured Christians but she left and went neck-deep into immorality. Her life became worse thereafter. Before the time of her departure, they had no kids. On the basis of 1Corinthians 7:12-15, this minister remarried and he’s doing very fine today. That’s a classic example of what Paul was trying to say in that chapter.

Also, if the unbeliever leaves the marital relationship permanently but is not willing to file for divorce, perhaps because of lifestyle, irresponsibility, or to avoid monetary obligations, then the believer is in an impossible situation of having legal and moral obligations that he or she cannot fulfill. Because “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” (1 Cor. 7:15) and is therefore no longer obligated to remain married, the believer may file for divorce without fearing the displeasure of God.


I heard about a woman whose husband left with another woman and couldn’t even be found. This lady is young and here the man left her alone and ran away leaving a note behind that he was no longer interested. She remarried on the grounds of abandonment and unrepentant sexual immorality after she had waited for a while.

Remarriage is permitted for the faithful partner only when the divorce is on biblical grounds. In fact, the purpose for a biblical divorce is to make clear that the faithful partner is free to remarry, but only in the Lord (Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does.

Those who divorce on any other grounds have sinned against God and their partners, and for them to marry another is an act of “adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). This is why Paul says that a believing woman who sinfully divorces should “remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). If she repents from her sin of unbiblical divorce, the true fruit of that repentance would be to seek reconciliation with her former husband (Matthew 5:23-24). The same is true for a man who divorces unbiblically (1 Corinthians 7:11). The only time such a person could remarry another is if the former spouse dies, in which case reconciliation would no longer be possible.

The Bible also gives a word of caution to anyone who is considering marriage to a divorcee. If the divorce was not on biblical grounds and there is still a responsibility to reconcile, the person who marries the divorcee is considered an adulterer (Mark 10:12).


Believers who pursue divorce on unbiblical grounds are subject to church discipline because they openly reject the Word of God. The one who obtains an unbiblical divorce and remarries is guilty of adultery since God did not permit the original divorce (Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:11-12). That person is subject to the steps of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. If a professing Christian violates the marriage covenant and refuses to repent during the process of church discipline, Scripture instructs that he or she should be put out of the church and treated as an unbeliever (v. 17). When the discipline results in such a reclassification of the disobedient spouse as an “outcast” or unbeliever, the faithful partner would be free to divorce according to the provision for divorce as in the case of an unbeliever departing, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Before such a divorce, however, reasonable time should be allowed for the possibility of the unfaithful spouse returning because of the discipline.

The leadership in the local church should also help single believers who have been divorced to understand their situation biblically, especially in cases where the appropriate application of biblical teaching does not seem clear. For example, the church leadership may at times need to decide whether one or both of the former partners could be legitimately considered “believers” at the time of their past divorce, because this will affect the application of biblical principles to their current situation (1 Cor. 7:17-24). Also, because people often transfer to or from other churches and many of those churches do not practice church discipline, it might be necessary for the leadership to decide whether a member’s estranged or former spouse should currently be considered a Christian or treated as an unbeliever because of continued disobedience. Again, in some cases this would affect the application of the biblical principles (1 Corinthians 7:15; 2 Corinthians 6:14).


According to 1 Corinthians 7:20-27, there is nothing in salvation that demands a particular social or marital status. The Apostle Paul, therefore, instructs believers to recognize that God providentially allows the circumstances they find themselves in when they come to Christ. If they were called while married, then they are not required to seek a divorce (even though divorce may be permitted on biblical grounds). If they were called while divorced, and cannot be reconciled to their former spouse because that spouse is an unbeliever or is remarried, then they are free to either remain single or be remarried to another believer (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14).


In cases where divorce took place on unbiblical grounds and the guilty partner later repents, the grace of God is operative at the point of repentance. A sign of true repentance will be a desire to implement 1Corinthians 7:10-11, which would involve a willingness to pursue reconciliation with his or her former spouse, if that is possible. If reconciliation is not possible, however, because the former spouse is an unbeliever, then the forgiven believer could pursue another relationship under the careful guidance and counsel of church leadership.

In cases where a believer obtained a divorce on unbiblical grounds and remarried, he or she is guilty of the sin of adultery until that sin is confessed and forsaken(Mark 10:11-12). God does forgive that sin immediately when repentance takes place. From that point on the believer should prayerfully restitute and reunite with the former partner.

On a final note, I encourage forgiveness and reconciliation. In a marriage where the love of Christ (unconditional love exists) divorce would not be an option at all. As Kenneth E.Hagin would say, couples can disagree without being disagreeable. Also, being under leadership in a good church would be of help.