The Option of Divorce?

By Gina Lee, Contributing Writer

the option of divorce?

The phrase “divorce is not an option” gets used a lot in Christian circles. When I hear it, I cringe a little inside. Not because I want a divorce, or have ever wanted one, or ever think it’s the right choice –  but because the reality is in th world we live in,  divorce is an option. From ancient times, divorce has been a part of society, and is mentioned many times in the Old Testament.

As much as I don’t want it to be, divorce is a part of my reality. My parents got a divorce when I was around 10 years old. This obviously affects who I am, and my views about marriage. When getting married in 2005, divorce was the farthest thing from my mind. I was marrying a wonderful man who has a solid foundation in Christ. What was there to worry about? Then the honeymoon ended and ‘the marriage’ began. Tough times for me! God had so much to teach me about my own selfishness, and IT WAS HARD. I didn’t like it. At all.

One night during a disagreement my husband said something to the effect of ‘divorce is not an option’. I remember looking right at him and saying “but it is.” I didn’t say this because I wanted a divorce. I didn’t. But what I was dealing with was HARD and from my experience growing up, I knew divorce was an option (not a good option, but an option). I couldn’t write it off so easily. Because I’d lived through my parents divorce, I needed to struggle with it in my own marriage. I needed to wrestle with it. And wrestle I did. Over the next few years of ‘wedded bliss’ (ha!), I wrestled and wept and pleaded with God to understand why I was struggling so much to ‘be married’. I knew divorce was bad. I even knew Jesus spoke against it as recorded in Matthew 19:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’  He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’  They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?’  He said to them,‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.’ The disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.  For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”Matthew 19:3-12

 

I wondered if I was one of those people who was not to be married for kingdom reasons, but had badly messed it all up. I started thinking I had made a mistake. Maybe I wasn’t someone who could or should be married. Maybe this wasn’t what God had for me. Maybe I had misunderstood God and was now stuck. Was the rest of my life ruined?….

Looking back I can see how quickly the enemy took my insecurities and turned them into an avalanche of lies. While my mind was so caught up in thinking I had made a mistake and could no longer do God’s work, I was missing the fact that God had me right where HE wanted me. I was missing the part about being mature and growing into the largeness of marriage. But even though I was missing the point, God wasn’t. He was gently guiding me through this struggle, with me every step of the way.

I can’t tell you exactly when this struggle ended. But it did, and the truth God taught me through it is forever burned into my being. For me, it’s not, ‘divorce is not an option’. It’s ‘divorce is not MY option’. God wants me to take responsibility for my marriage. It’s not “Well, I guess this is just the way things are, because divorce is not an option.” No, God wanted me to own my marriage. He wanted me to realize that I can make or break my marriage. And by choosing to follow God, I get to call on Him to help me daily make it all He has for it to be.

In owning my marriage, the tough spots have been dramatically easier to deal with because I take responsibility to make my marriage better. I think that is God’s point. By loving & respecting my spouse, I am loving & respecting God. The more I grow in Christ, the more I grow in my marriage. Marriage is a big deal to God, part of His original design. It’s meant to be for life, and it’s meant to grow & mature for life.

If you’ve struggled, secretly or not, with thoughts of divorce, or just dissatisfaction with your marriage – I challenge you to face that struggle head on with God at your side. Search His Word and meditate on it. Talk with trusted older married Christians, or a Christian marriage counselor. Seek God’s Truth, because His Truth will set you free from the option of divorce, and that freedom is better than you could ever imagine.

**If you are struggling with divorce due to an abusive situation, please seek Christian Counseling immediately.

A note from A Biblical Marriage ~ If you want to know more about divorce, check out the following resources: We believe that God created marriage and that He intended it for life. As John MacArthur says, “Divorce in the Scripture is permitted only because of man’s sin. 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 and pursue it only when there is no other recourse. With God’s help a marriage can survive the worst sins.” We believe that “The only New Testament grounds for divorce are sexual sin or desertion by an unbeliever.” You can read more at Divorce & Remarriage, or listen to The Divorce Dilemma or The Truth About Divorce part 1.

 

Comments

  1. Schala Lacy says:

    Praise our God for this post… I have been separated from my husband closing in on 2 years now. with 2 young boys it has been increasingly difficult. But I stand in the gap for my husband & believe in the love & power of jesus christ that he will work on my husbands heart & have us to reconcile as it its my desire…

  2. Separation is different from divorce, of course. I wrote my senior seminar paper for my degree in Biblical Studies on the topic of Divorce and Remarriage, and came to a very different conclusion than the author of this post. The author only dealt with one passage of Scripture when there are several that speak to this and must be considered together when forming a Biblical theology on divorce and remarriage.

  3. I’m curious Faith, what do you disagree with?

  4. Just wanted to point out that scripture also says that “God hates divorce.” I wouldn’t consider it an option at all. Even for the reasons scripture permits divorce in certain situations, you still have other scripture, like the entire book of Hosea for example, that would suggest there are other ways to deal with those issues. (Like adultery, unbelieveing spouse, etc.) It has a lot to do with our perspective about our lives. Marriage is a tool that God uses to change us into His image primarily, its not necessarily for our happiness. If we “opt” out of it for whatever reason, we are going around God’s intention to use our difficult circumstances to change us for His glory into His image. We have to keep the perspective that our spouse’s sin is primarily against God, yes we suffer the collateral damage sometimes and are sinned against, but ultimately they are offending God above all things. (I am in no way talking about abusive situations.)

  5. Jami,

    Thanks for asking! I disagree that divorce is an option in marriage. Having that mindset is detrimental to the foundation of the relationship. In my research, I came to the conclusion (as have several much wiser people than I) that divorce is only Biblically allowed in the case of adultery (although not required and certainly should not be the first choice) and that remarriage is never allowed and is sin except in the case of death of a spouse, unless it is a reunion of the original marriage relationship. Separation, of course, is permissible and even encouraged in various circumstances, but separation should be done in such a way that they end goal is reunion, not divorce. What are the views of A Biblical Marriage on remarriage?

  6. I also believe the author did not deal with Scripture as much as she should have considering there are several other passages besides the Matthew passage cited that are crucial to forming a Biblical theology on divorce and remarriage.

  7. Great points ladies…I just wanted to share my personal journey with the topic of divorce. As I matured in my relationship with Christ through my marriage, I have come to the conclusion that divorce is not ok, but a younger me struggled with the concept of divorce while newly married. My marriage was never really the issue – it was all my own selfishness & work God needed to do in me (and is still doing in me). Dying to myself daily doesn’t come easy. I wanted to honestly share because I’m most likely not the only one who will ever struggle with this issue, and maybe God can use what I’ve been through to encourage and help someone else.

  8. really liked this Chrissy – “Marriage is a tool that God uses to change us into His image primarily, its not necessarily for our happiness. If we “opt” out of it for whatever reason, we are going around God’s intention to use our difficult circumstances to change us for His glory into His image. “

  9. Schala – stay strong as you stand in that gap! So glad this could encourage you, and God has you in His hand & heart, He will not forget the good things He has started for you. The power of Jesus can do more that we can ever dare to dream or imagine. You are an inspiration in your faithfulness.

  10. Gina, your story is encouraging! You’re right–it’s not that a Christian wife might think divorce is acceptable, but it still may be an “option” that she has to take a stand against. And that will require leaning on God much more than staying in her marriage apathetically or bitterly because she’s just plain stuck.

  11. I thought this was an excellent post! Thanks for the courage to write it – a daring subject! I agree with what you have shared and have run the gamut of view from no divorce, no remarriage to divorce in certain situations and remarriage… I am much less strong about my views now that I have dug deep into Scripture, including reading the Greek text. It can be a lengthy subject/debate but I will say 1 Corinthians 7 was very instructive and I believe is an essential text to involve in the discussion. Also, in countries where divorce is not allowed – is illegal – it creates extremely difficult circumstances and a huge burden on society. For instance: a husband leaves his wife. She can’t ‘divorce’ him – legally. 10 years go by. She doesn’t know where he is, alive or dead. Another man comes along. She can’t marry him, though her husband is as good as dead. Or: neither are believers. One leaves. The other comes to faith in Christ. No sign of long-gone husband. No opportunity to technically divorce. No opportunity to re-marry in honour (legally). What do Churches do in these situations? It is very complicated and holding a certain viewpoint needs to be tested in real life. This is not situational ethics. This is real life.

  12. I have been married before and finally thought I had found the man I could count on to not believe in divorce and also b believe in God. He has left me 10 months ago. I’m helpless. Hopeless. And scared he will never come home as according to what he has said. I’m trying so hard to stand as long as I can. God hates divorce. But my husband has chosen the sins of the world and to not walk with God anymore. I’m left with having to most likely having to go through the most horrible pain of yet another divorce. I learned as I grew how to take marriage seriously the older. I got. GOD will not interfere in my husband’s free will. So it looks so as im to go be going through another divorce. I have tried all I can think of to bring him home. My prayers feel unheard. The longer he is gone the more we grow apart:(