Contend Earnestly: God's View on Divorce: Final Report

Thursday, July 17, 2008

God's View on Divorce: Final Report

What about the two exceptions?

When speaking of divorce the first two things people seem to point to is the two exceptions mentioned in the Scriptures. I know that there are a lot of opinions on this, and I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

Jesus gave us one of the exceptions in Matthew 5 and that is the one of the unfaithful spouse. If your spouse cheats on you, God will allow divorce.

but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 5:32

The other is found in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

Divorce is allowed if an unbelieving one decides to desert the other spouse. We are to keep the peace and allow them to go. 1 Timothy 5:8 would seem to conclude that the one who leaves his household is not only an unbeliever, but actually worse than an unbeliever.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8

The question though, comes in this form: "If someone is unfaithful or an unbeliever are we supposed to just give up?:

Are we supposed to just write the divorce papers?

Again, through these two acts, we see the grace and love of Christ Jesus.

Here is the point of why these two things are of last resort and why the one that is the holy one in the marriage is supposed to be the forgiving one, and the righteous one. So, the one that has done nothing wrong, should forgive and show grace to the one at fault. Does this sound familiar? Sounds like redemption. Sounds like the true Christian in the marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ in these instances.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

The one who forgives the spouse is the one who will showing the imitation of Christ, they will point the other, the one at fault, the Messiah, the One who was perfect, who died for the souls of the unrighteous and in return gave them His righteousness.

Further, what is the person in a marriage that cheats on their spouse called? An adulterer. They are a fornicator, both words are really nice ways to call someone a whore in the Hebrew.

Look to Jeremiah 3:1-14

When a spouse cheats and the one who has been offended shows forgiveness they are a picture of Christ.

When a spouse is cheated on they now get to understand what Christ goes through with his people who are whores, harlots, adulterers and run to other gods, instead of loving him with all their heart, soul and strength, and worshiping him alone.

The second exception that is given to us in 1 Corinthians is the person who is does not love Jesus and decides to leave the spouse. We find that again, the believing spouse, gets to show the love of Christ through this situation.

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:4-7

If Jesus Christ goes after our wandering and faithless hearts, then the spouse who tries to reconcile with the unbelieving spouse is also a picture of Christ. The believing spouse should do all that is possible to keep the marriage vows, but when all hope is lost, they should let them go to do as 1 Corinthians 7:15 tells us: to keep peace.

The last resort in both of these cases is divorce and we also see that God does the same thing to those who are unrepentant.

Look to Ezekiel 16:23-43

In the end, when a divorce happens, it is also a picture of what will happen to one who denies his God. He is allowed to follow after his desires as God turns them over to their desires to follow after their other gods, and ultimately they will be thrown into hell. The picture that is shown in divorce is ultimately the picture of Christ allowing those to follow after their own ways, which leads to hell, not the picture of the church and their spouse, Jesus Christ.
Can you really conclude that divorce is ultimately “okay” with God. He says he hates it, can you see why?

If marriage is a picture of the union with Christ then divorce is a picture of a man being plunged into the depths of hell. And God says in Ezekiel 33:11

Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11

As our faithful God says this to the world, we should also say to a spouse who desires to be divorced.

In the latest polls taken, there is more divorce in the church than outside of the church. I just wonder if those that do this know how much disgust that they bring to the cross of Christ.

We have the perfect spouse, found in Jesus Christ. We are the unfaithful ones, we are the whores, we are the ones looking to other gods, we are the ones wanting to leave our God. What if Christ "divorced" us the first time we were unfaithful or desiring to follow after our own evil desires?

This is why in the old hymn, Come Thou Fount, by Robert Robinson he says in there,

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

This is why when faced with an “out” per se from marriage we are always to be forgiving and gracious and try our hardest to keep the marriage, for we show the glory of God through being imitators of him, for I would hate for my God to divorce me the first chance he got, because I am unfaithful, in some way, every day of my life.

May we marry for the glory of Christ and not for the glory of our self.
Soli Deo Gloria!


Anonymous said...

Good stuff here Seth and a very controversial subject that in fact should not be if you understand scriptures.

What would you say to someone who has been divorced for petty reasons or not and is now realizing the severity of that sin? Should they try to reconcile with the first spouse? They may have committed adultery when they married another. Do they continue to commit adultery even though they remain in that marriage?

Seth McBee said...


Good questions. If that situation were to happen, I would advise the person to stay married and yet still go to the original spouse and reconcile through asking for forgiveness.

We cannot go back and fix sins, so we can only move forward. If the person were to get divorced again to go back to the original spouse, that again, would be another sin.

I would tell them to ask Christ for forgiveness and live today like it was their first and last day to serve Christ.

Christ will forgive, He is faithful, so we must ask and then be assured of his Cross that supplies forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. In this messed up and fallen world we live in I am always getting questions like those. It happens because marriage is no longer seen as a covenant but a trial and error run. I am in my second marriage. We just celebrated our 16th anniversary. Lord willing it will last till death or the Lord returns.

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