As a pastor, I perform a lot of wedding ceremonies. When I see a bride walking down the aisle to her groom, I can feel their joy and excitement. I see their smiles and tears. They say their marriage vows before God and their families, and then we pray for their new life together. They’ve made a lifelong commitment, a special covenant, before God.
But what happens when that covenant is broken?
While the couple is experiencing pain and regret, what is God feeling? What does He think about this broken covenant? While God does not like divorce, it is tolerated in certain circumstances.
We’ll look more closely at what God says about divorce, but first, I hope couples will carefully consider reconciliation.
Did you know that Jesus entered the world because of a broken relationship? The relationship between God and humanity was so broken that it took Jesus, God in the flesh, to make a way for us to be right with God. Jesus created a path to restoration by his sacrificial death and resurrection.
Are we willing to make sacrifices for our marriages?
Let me be clear, I am NOT saying we should endure abuse. That must not be tolerated and is clear ground for divorce. But are we willing to pray, ask for forgiveness, and work with a counselor on our marriage relationship?
Ending a marriage is different from ending a legal contract. Breaking this bond is going against what God wanted for his children. He created man and woman to become one flesh.
“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19|6).
What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?
God created us in his own image, meaning our relationship should also reflect the image of God.
God saw that Adam was lonely, so he created Eve. He wanted them to comfort and help one another while sharing a strong, loyal bond. Part of this bond was to create a stable home and produce children who would know and love God.
When he finished all of his creations, he told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1|28).
To protect one’s marriage and bond, a husband and wife must remain monogamous and keep their marriage bed pure.
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5|33).
What does the Bible say about Divorce?
The Bible does not agree with divorce, but it will permit it in certain circumstances. If a man or woman has been unfaithful and sinned, it is permitted in Scripture.
“Because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19|8).
Did you notice the reference to hard hearts? Unless we continually repent and ask God for forgiveness, our hearts can grow hard. We can persist in sinful behaviors and have trouble forgiving others.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1|9).
With a soft heart, your marriage may be able to be restored—even after the worst of sins.
The 3 Grounds for Divorce in the Bible
A divorce may be initiated for different reasons, including the following:
A husband or wife has committed adultery
This includes pornography
Physical, mental, and emotional
Abandonment by an unbelieving partner
So while God hates divorce, he does offer permission when remaining married is harmful.
Anytime one of these sinful acts has been committed, the one-flesh union between a husband and wife becomes violated.
Key Passages and Exceptions Where Divorce is Allowed
“For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage” (Romans 7|2).
This may be the only instance where one is released from their marriage without any sin occuring. Though, in this case, the person would become widowed, not divorced.
“But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5|32).
As mentioned previously, adultery is one of the few reasons a divorce may be permitted. When adultery happens, the marriage covenant has been broken. However, in some cases, a couple can restore their relationship after unfaithfulness with God’s help.
What is God’s View of Divorce?
God’s views on divorce are clear. It is stated many times in the Bible that a husband and wife are to become one union, of one flesh, and to respect and honor one another.
When a divorce happens, it’s often because one spouse was not honoring the other.
You can’t say a husband is honoring his wife while watching pornography and lusting over other women. A woman having an affair is obviously not showing loyalty or respect to her husband.
Through God’s grace, a couple can learn to forgive and rebuild their marriage. Yet, as we previously mentioned, there are some grounds for divorce in the Bible.
Is it a Sin to Divorce?
If you’re divorced, please know that God does not love you any less. Even if your reason for divorce was not under the exceptions listed above, God will forgive you and love you the same.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3|23-24).
Jesus made a way for us to restore our relationship with God, no matter what we’ve done.
Let’s look at 1 John 1|9 again, “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1|9).
Is Divorce and Remarriage an Unforgivable Sin?
Short answer: no. Divorce isn’t what God wants for us, but he continually offers his forgiveness and grace.
When we are given a second chance, let’s learn from our past. We encourage you to be involved in a family of believers where you can get support and help. At 2|42, we want to help you learn more about God, grow with others, and then make a difference in our world.
As far as remarriage, it should not be taken lightly, just as a divorce shouldn’t. I advise couples to attend counseling and make sure that healing has taken place before entering into a new marriage covenant. Will you be able to honor God in this new marriage?
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Grant was our resident farmboy. He grew up in the cornfields of northwest Nebraska. He spent his early days living far from God. As Grant says, "I gave God the middle finger and didn't really care about faith at all." As a young man, he became convinced that God was real. He gave his life to Jesus and experienced God's amazing grace that previously made no sense to him. After experiencing that grace, Grant felt God calling him to teach the message of the gospel. Over the past 20 years, he has been preaching and teaching.
Grant, his wife, Bethany, and their four children moved to Michigan in 2011, and he joined the 2|42 team in 2019. Grant is always good for a laugh, but more importantly, he explains biblical concepts in ways anyone can understand. We wish Grant and his family all the best as they start their new ministry adventures in Colorado in summer 2023.