Can I Get A Divorce as a Christian?

Divorce is ugly business. It sure seems to bring out the worst in people who once upon a time proclaimed to love each other "till death do you part."

Divorce actions give people the impression that now anything goes; spouses feel it is ok to say whatever they please to each other no matter how cruel it is. They seem to even go out of their way to hurt one another by flaunting new relationships and freedoms in the face of their husband or wife. I have seen Christians engage in this sort of behavior acting just like their heathen counterparts. This should not be.

The question everyone wants to know is, "What makes it ok for me to get a divorce?" In counseling I am presented with any number of issues that bring a couple to the place where things are so bad in a marriage that one or both decide to call it quits on marriage. Each scenario has its own set of qualifiers and circumstances.

Some of the most common reasons Christians seek a divorce are:
Is divorce ever ok? This has been debated for all of the years I have been a Christian and I know that no one scholar agrees with all the rest. What is really important is, what does the Bible say about divorce?

It is important to understand that when looking in Scripture regarding this topic that most of us arrive with preconceived notions about the text we examine. Sometimes Scripture is used to support whatever position we hold, others want to add to or take away from the text to justify their own ideas and thoughts on the subject. Other times the Word is twisted grossly out of context to suit personal desires.

I also realize that there will be some of you who believe that divorce is never permissible under any circumstances, but I find Scripture does not support that view.  The Bible is clear that there are two commonly accepted reasons for divorce: abandonment/desertion (1 Cor. 7:12-15) and adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).

Jesus says that divorce is allowed because of the hardness of the heart of man.

He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. Matt. 19:8 (NABS)

Those of you who read my blog routinely know that I am dedicated to promoting the process of heart change and the reality that divorce is allowed due to the hardness of hearts is really critical!

Think with me for a moment about some of the actions and attitudes that surround marital conflict that leads to divorce... emotions like anger and bitterness, malicious and hateful words being thrown back and forth, discontent with your spouse on any number of levels… Sadly, many or all of these are usually present in a divorce situation today.

The Bible describes them as actions of the flesh.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, Galatians 5:19 through Galatians 5:21 (NASB)

Before any of these deeds became actions, they were thoughts or beliefs or desires. The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitfully wicked (Jer. 17:9) and that our actions are a result of what is going on in the heart!

So in a divorce situation where there is much enmity and strife between the two people who once proclaimed to love one another, you are seeing the sin of the heart on grand display. Sinful wickedness of the heart is truly the only reason for divorce.