This is a post from www.peacefulwife.com. I’d like for my single sisters in Christ to consider these things VERY, VERY CAREFULLY – preferably BEFORE marriage! I believe we need be extremely sober before we enter into marriage – knowing exactly what God requires of us in this covenant between a wife, her husband and Himself. Marriage is not something to enter into lightly. And divorce is not supposed to be an easy way out when things get hard – that is not God’s design.
Obviously, divorce is quite prevalent today – even in the church among those who claim Christ.
Let me say right up front…
No one answers to me about why they got a divorce or why they want a divorce.
- I am not the spiritual police.
- I am not the Judge.
- Jesus is the Judge.
We will all answer to Him for what we do in this lifetime.
I want Him to find us faithful in His eyes!
My concern is – what does God say about divorce?
I have listed all of the scriptures I can find about this topic at the bottom of this post. What God says is the only thing that matters here.
*** Please keep in mind, I write for women, so I am only addressing wives here. God’s Word applies to husbands, too.
If we are disciples of Christ and we love Jesus – we will long more than anything to obey Him and please Him – no matter what the personal cost and sacrifice – in every area of our lives. That is what it means for Him to be LORD of our lives.
- Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. John 14:23-24
I do not see where scripture says is a sin for a husband and wife to separate if necessary. (Details in I Corinthians 7 below)
God gives some VERY clear instructions about marriage and divorce that I believe we must carefully and prayerfully consider as believers. I want to see us making our decisions about how we treat our husbands based on God’s commands for us in the Bible, not based on our human wisdom, worldly wisdom or feelings. I want us to live without regret – knowing we honored Jesus in everything.
GOD’S PURPOSE IN MARRIAGE
God intends marriage to be a living, dynamic, beautiful picture of the relationship and oneness between Christ and His church, His people. For disciples of Christ, our living out God’s design for marriage, masculinity, femininity and family is intended by God to draw people to Jesus.
If we as the church of Christ don’t portray Christ and His church properly to the world… what do we really have to offer of any value to this dying world?
God NEVER forsakes us. He NEVER divorces us. Even when we are faithless, He is faithful.
- Ephesians 5:22-33 – God’s beautiful design for marriage
- I Peter 3:1-6 (God’s commands for wives whose husbands are far from God. If we want to see God work in our husbands’ lives, THIS is the way it must begin!)
MYTHS ABOUT DIVORCE
- I won’t hurt anymore if I can just get divorced.
- I won’t have to deal with my husband’s sin against me once we are divorced.
- I will be so much happier if I can get divorced.
- I will be free if I am divorced.
- If I had a better man, I would be a better wife.
- I don’t “feel” married anymore, so I am not married.
The truth is that divorce doesn’t heal anyone’s pain.
God can heal pain.
Divorce doesn’t automatically heal pain, in fact, it often exacerbates emotional/spiritual pain. Tearing apart two people whom God has joined together is excruciatingly painful emotionally and spiritually. It’s kind of like tearing apart Siamese twins without anesthesia. When a couple goes through a divorce, divorce tends to create enmity, division (of course), overwhelming bitterness and MORE opportunities to sin and be sinned against. In fact, I believe that the enemy often uses divorce to create massive strongholds of sin in our souls and to destroy our fellowship with God.
- We must choose between intimacy with Christ and bitterness/hatred. We can only have one or the other, not both.
- There may be times a believer must go through a divorce. Sometimes there is no choice. But divorce is not God’s “plan A” for us as husbands and wives.
- Does God understand what it is like to be cheated on over and over again? Check out the book of Hosea!
Divorce doesn’t bring contentment. Only God’s Spirit can bring real contentment to my heart.
Divorce can easily be a factory of hatred, contempt, bitterness, hard-heartedness and resentment that continues to produce these things every day for the rest of our lives.
That is a big problem – because if I hate someone, God says I cannot love Him.
- If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” I John 4:20-21
- We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. I John 3:14-15
“I WANT TO BE HAPPY!”
You can look up the studies on couples with troubled marriages and the follow ups on those who stayed together and those who got divorced. There’s not a whole lot of super happy divorced people. But many of the couples who stayed together are happier a few years later. I know very few happy divorced people. But I actually know quite a number of Christian couples who stayed and worked through addictions, adultery and all kinds of awful things whom God has healed and many of them have a better marriage than ever now. Many of them now minister to troubled couples and couples in crisis.
“BUT I DON’T FEEL LOVED!”
It would be awesome if we always felt loved, cherished, adored, protected and safe in our marriages. If this were a perfect world, maybe we would! But this is not at all a perfect world. We are sinners. Our husbands are sinners. It hurts to be sinned against!!!! There are many times we all will feel unloved (check out yesterday’s post). Sometimes we may actually even be unloved by our husbands. But we are NEVER unloved by God.
Our feelings are important. I believe God gives us feelings to help guide us in our decision making processes. But it is critical for us to remember that our emotions and feelings are not a source of absolute truth. I think we must carefully look at our feelings and think about why we are feeling what we are feeling. But ultimately,
I want to see us make our decisions based on the absolute truth of God’s Word, not based on our changing and fleeting emotions.
To me, when I feel unloved, disappointed or resentful – that is time to do a heart check on my motives.
- Is it possible that I am putting “feeling loved” or being in control or my husband above Christ in my heart?
- Have I made an idol out of something that I just feel I “HAVE to have” in order to be happy?
If the thing I must have to be happy and content is not Jesus – I need to look at my motives humbly, carefully and prayerfully.
Marriage is a COVENANT relationship. It is between our husbands, God and us. It is to last until one of us dies. God does not intend for us to break covenants. He never breaks His covenants! Covenants are based on holy commitment and holy promises, not emotions or feelings.
Here is an interesting little tidbit about feelings:
Our obedience to God comes BEFORE feelings.
Feelings often follow our actions and obedience as a result of what we chose to do.
They may not always follow. But feelings do not generally precede our actions. Being mature in Christ means that we do what is right and we choose to love by God’s Spirit working in us even when the feelings are not there. Then we trust God with the results. Feelings are not to be my master. Jesus is my Master. God is MUCH more concerned about my willing obedience than He is with my feelings.
This is about what honors Him and about being holy, not about me feeling loved or being happy in the moment.
“IS DIVORCE AN IDOL IN MY HEART?”
It is entirely possible for me as a sinful human to make almost anything into an idol
- something I put above Christ in my heart
- something I HAVE to have to be happy
- something I am willing to do ANYTHING to get – even sin against God and/or others if necessary
- something I am willing to sacrifice for and give up huge amounts of my relationships, money and time to possess
If I am looking to divorce to meet all of my emotional/spiritual needs and to make me happy, if I think that “if only I could get divorced, my life would be great”… I am on very dangerous ground. It is definitely time for a motive check.
It is EXTREMELY difficult to undo the damage of the words, “I want a divorce.”
My husband and I have an agreement that we don’t ever use that word. It’s not an option for us. We have never used that word in our 19+ years of marriage – even when things were difficult at times. I have never regretted our commitment to this agreement.
“ANOTHER MAN WOULD MAKE ME SO MUCH HAPPIER”
Many wives think, “If I had a better man, I would be a better wife.”
I believe that is generally not true.
We respond to our husbands out of what is inside of our hearts.
- If I am filled with God’s Spirit – I will respond in His power and in obedience to Him no matter who my husband is. I will have peace and joy no matter what my circumstances are because I have Living Water welling up in me through the Holy Spirit. I am not dependent upon any human to make me happy. No matter who I am married to – if I am filled with God’s Spirit, I will have love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
- If I am controlled by my sinful nature – I will respond sinfully to my current husband and I will respond sinfully to any other man I might marry. If I am disrespectful and controlling with my husband now, I would be disrespectful and controlling with any man. That is my character.
All husbands will sin against us. Some much worse than others, of course.
My husband’s sin against me doesn’t create sin in my heart – it reveals the sin that is in my heart.
- I believe that my level of respect and biblical submission toward my husband right now is a tangible indicator of my level of reverence for and submission to Christ.
- I believe that my level of respect and biblical submission in my marriage has almost nothing to do with my husband and almost everything to do with my relationship with Jesus.
I do not believe a wife is obligated to respect clear sin or to submit to instructions her husband gives that are clear violations of God’s Word. For more on this, please click here.
For info on a husband’s authority and a wife’s authority in marriage, please click here.
This is all about Christ.
“I DON’T FEEL MARRIED”
Covenants are NEVER based on feelings. They are based on sacred promises – and, many times, on shed blood. Our covenant with God is based on the blood of Jesus that He shed for us.
Once we are married, we are married before God. He makes us one. My feelings can never negate the covenant I entered with God and my husband and, thankfully, my feelings can never negate the covenant Jesus has with me.
WHEN IS SEPARATION OK?
I believe there can be times when there are serious problems that separation may be necessary. You can check out I Corinthians 7 below.
If you are dealing with addictions, unrepentant major sin, physical/sexual abuse of yourself or your children, uncontrolled mental health issues, severe controlling issues…. please seek godly help ASAP!
WHEN IS DIVORCE OK?
I’m not really sure I can answer that question. That is something only God and His Word can answer.
That is something a wife must be sure she has straight with God and she must be sure she is squarely putting Christ first in her life, seeking His will, desiring to obey Him, willing to give up bitterness, acting in the power and love of Christ, seeking God’s greatest glory not her own comfort, idols or feelings of being loved.
I believe a wife must check her motives and be willing to patiently wait on God and peacefully accept whatever Word He has for her.
Some warning flags in my mind that a wife’s desire for divorce is not of God in a situation:
- the wife wants to be with another man and feels she is “in love” with someone else (adultery is sin)
- there are no biblical reasons to validate divorce
- hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness and/or contempt are the motives behind a wife wanting a divorce
- the wife wants to hurt her husband as much as possible
- a wife’s emotions are ruling her decisions not the wisdom and principles of God’s Word
- a wife’s sinful nature is in charge (Galatians 5:19-21) not God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
- a wife is not acting in love (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
- a wife is not willing to obey Romans 12:9-21 about how God wants believers to treat our enemies
- a wife is not willing to obey God’s commands for her as a wife in Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3, Titus 2:2-5…
“Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord Jesus!”
If a wife is able to have pure motives of loving and obeying God and is not full of resentment, hatred, unforgiveness and bitterness, has God’s peace, love and joy overflowing in her soul and has no idols in her heart – those would be good indicators that she is generally moving toward God.
I believe we must lay down our dreams, our wisdom, our plans, our rights, all that we are and all that we might ever be before Jesus – this is DYING TO SELF. Christ calls every one of His disciples to die to self and submit 100% to Him as LORD – men and women. We must give it all up to Him as a sacrifice. Then we must be willing to pick up His will, His dreams, His wisdom, His plans, His purposes, His holiness, His love…. and seek only His glory. This is our purpose in life!
This is the place we must be in order to be in right standing with Jesus – willing to give up anything He asks of us, willing to sacrifice everything for Him, willing to do His will even if the cost is great to us personally.
IS DIVORCE UNFORGIVABLE?
Thankfully, Jesus’ blood is able to cover any sin!!!! Idolatry, murder, theft, hatred, contempt, bitterness, divorce, kidnapping, unforgiveness, lust, adultery, addictions, gossip, divisions, slander, jealousy, disrespect of God-given authority, self-righteousness, greed … you name it. Jesus’ blood can cover it.
If you realize that you got divorced and that what you did was out of line with God’s Word – repent and ask Him to forgive you! Ask Him to show you what to do to try to make things right at this point.
God loves a broken, humble contrite heart.
If you have not yet gotten divorced, but have been thinking about it – please, please seek God’s heart, His wisdom and His truth before you do anything!!!!
I am not saying “You can’t get a divorce” – I am saying, be sure what you do honors God.
THE FRUIT OF GOD’S SPIRIT
The ONLY way we can experience real peace, joy and contentment in this life is when we are walking in faith and in total obedience to Christ. Then His Spirit fills us to overflowing and we have His supernatural peace, joy, love and all the spiritual riches of heaven.
I cannot have contentment if I am living in disobedience to God’s commands.
God will not allow me to find contentment in anything other than Himself alone.
THE POWER OF GOD
What I would love to see happen is for us, as the women of God, to determine to look to Christ for our strength, our hope, our help, our wisdom, our direction and our decisions – not to the world’s ways or the world’s wisdom. I believe that as we focus on becoming the women God desires us to be and focus on repenting of any sin in our hearts and focus on responding to our husbands in godly ways in the power of God’s Spirit – we open up the flood gates of heaven to pour into our lives and marriages.
- Our God is able to heal.
- Our God knows how to bring dead things back to life.
- Our God is able to bring joy from mourning, beauty from ashes and restore the years the locusts have eaten.
- God does not guarantee to change our husbands if we obey Him and live in His power – He may or He may not. But He does guarantee He will change US!
- If God is going to change our husbands and draw them to Himself, it will only be after we are willing to obey Him and follow I Peter 3:1-6.
What if we seek to do things God’s way – even if it costs us something? That is called, dying to self, picking up our cross and following Christ. To be His disciple costs me EVERYTHING! I can hold nothing back from Jesus if He is my LORD! And yet, when I am willing to give up everything – I get so much more in return from Him!
He who tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it! Matthew 16:15
God’s wisdom is NOT like the world’s wisdom. His wisdom is counterintuitive to our human attempts at wisdom.
Let’s put our faith and trust in Him to change us and trust Him to work in our husbands’ lives for His glory!
We open up the possibility that God may do miracles in our lives.
I don’t want any of us to miss out on that!
But even more importantly, I desire for Christ to be greatly glorified in each of our lives and marriages. That is our primary purpose as believers in Christ – to bring great honor and glory to His Name by our steadfast obedience and love for Him and our willingness to do whatever He asks of us.
I pray each of us might be sensitive and obedient to His voice.
The Marriage Covenant – “Brides and Butchers”
WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY ABOUT DIVORCE?
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
Another verson (GNT) of verse 16:
16 “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel. “I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife.”
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
I CORINTHIANS 7
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?…
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
The entire book of Hosea is about the faithful love of God as a Husband to His faithless people Israel – portrayed vividly in the marriage of Hosea ,the prophet, to the prostitute, Gomer.
God does not divorce His people. Even though they deserved it time and time again because of their idolatry – which is like adultery in God’s sight – a heinous breaking of their covenant relationship with Him.