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Does Bible Allow Divorce?

Divorce is despised by God. This is something He despises because it always entails disloyalty to the solemn vow of marriage that two spouses have gone into before Him, and because it has devastating implications for those partners and their children (Mal. 2:14-16). Divorce is permissible only as a result of man's sin, according to the Bible. Because divorce is just a concession to man's sin and was never intended to be a part of God's original purpose for marriage, all believers should despise divorce as much as God does and only pursue it when there is no other option. With God's assistance, a marriage can endure even the most serious transgressions.

In Matthew 19:3-9, Christ teaches unequivocally that divorce is an accommodation to man's sin that contravenes God's original intention for the deep unity and permanence of the marriage bond, which is to create a family (Gen. 2:24). In his teachings, he claimed that God's law only permitted divorce in cases of "hardness of heart" (Matt. 19:8). Because of the sexual sin or abandonment by the sinning partner, the faithful partner was granted legal divorce, which allowed the loyal partner to no longer be bound by the marriage (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-15). We must keep in mind that, while Jesus did teach that divorce is permissible in some instances, His primary goal in this talk was to correct the Jews' belief that they might divorce one another "for any reason at all" (Matt. 19:3) and to demonstrate the seriousness of pursuing a sinful divorce. The believer should never consider divorce except in very particular situations (see the following section), and even in those circumstances, it should only be undertaken reluctantly because there is no other option available.

The only grounds for divorce according to the New Testament are sexual transgression or abandonment by an unbeliever. In this context, sexual sins such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest are referred to as "sexual sin." In the event that one partner destroys the unity and closeness of a marriage through sexual sin—and thus fails to fulfill his or her covenant obligation—the faithful partner is placed in an immensely difficult position. When all other options have been tried in trying to bring the offending partner to repentance, the Bible allows the faithful partner to be released through divorce (Matt. 5:32; 1 Cor. 7:15).


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