Similar in effect to adultery, it affects both the sinner and others. Despite what some may say, it strongly affects any children that the marriage may have produced. (Look at the high teenage suicide rate, is it related to the high legal divorce rate and even higher real divorce rate?) Its after-effects, partly because of society’s attitudes, last a long time and may hinder future relationships.
For Those Considering Divorce
If someone is considering legally divorcing their spouse because all other options have failed, I would ask them to consider the following:
- What most people do is not what God wants us to do.
- The simple way out may not be the Holy Way out.
- What is simple now, may carry pain for years or decades.
- God can resurrect the dead.
- Pray. Remember how Christ prayed when faced with the cross? When it was no longer off in the distant future, but was now ON THE NEXT DAY?
After telling others He was having a tough time and admitting what He wanted, He said those powerful words:
Luke 22:42b “…not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Divorce, real and/or legal, is not to be taken lightly.
Now, let’s look at some other parts of scripture to get a more complete picture of what divorce is and how God feels about its victims:
The Unforgiveable Sin?
When I went to go look for the “unforgivable sin”, I started with the 10 Commandments. I was very surprised to see that only one of those Commandments has a threat attached to it!
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.Exodus 20:7, New King James Version
As I read that verse, I see that whoever violates this commandment will be held guilty by the LORD. To see my interpretation of that sin, see my article on the Third Commandment. Whether you agree with that article or not, you can see that divorce is not mentioned in that scripture above?
In fact, divorce didn’t make it into any of the “top ten” of God’s list! So, as I see it, divorce is one of many forgivable sins! Since we have a forgiving and loving God, He forgives the sin of divorce, and He loves all sinners DESPITE their sins!
Divorce is NOT the unforgivable sin. God forgives it along with hundreds or thousands of others.
However, one of the challenges in dealing with this sin is its visibility. Many other sins are private, between you and God. Not this one, especially if new lives have come out of this commitment.
Pure and Undefiled Religion
Here is one of my favorite verses, which speaks of “pure and undefiled religion”. It defines it as:
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.James 1:27, New King James Version
He does not talk like a Pharisee here. The Pharisees saw “pure and undefiled religion” as not touching certain “sinners”. They also never publicly confessed their own sins! Any church that has only “righteous” people in it, may not be “pure and undefiled”. God’s definition of those words is not the definition we think!
He talks about ministry to those that have lost their family’s spiritual leader by death. Those who lost their spiritual leader by means other than death have spiritual and emotional needs that are similar. Except that they are worse, because the parent left them intentionally, not by an untimely death. The church can lovingly meet those needs, and be in line with this scripture.
Biblical Examples of Forgiveness of Sin
Let’s also remember something that Paul wrote:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,Philippians 3:13, New King James Version
This “forgetting” and “reaching” applies to all sins, including divorce! If you think I am wrong about that, consider how David acted while King of Israel (2 Samuel 11):
- Instead of fulfilling responsibility, stayed home during a campaign.
- While married, lusted for another man’s wife
- Acted upon that lust while her husband was out of town working for David.
- When told she was pregnant, tried to cover up his paternity by calling her husband back into town (so he’d have a chance to sleep with her, and then believe the child was his).
- After that failed, got him drunk, hoping that would work.
- When that failed, sent him off, carrying his ‘contract’ to be murdered.
- Waited a month after the murder, (to be ‘proper’) then married Bathsheba.
Yet, if we were to list all the men that God said are men after God’s own heart, the only man on that list is … the same David, King of Israel (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Kings 11:4b; 1 Kings 15:3b). Maybe, just maybe, David wasn’t after God’s own heart 100% of the time. (1 King 15:5b)
How did God react to David’s sins listed above? (2 Samuel 12)
- He faced David through the prophet Nathan.
- After David repented He told David the child would die.
- The child died, as God promised, despite David’s pleading.
- David never has a quality relationship with any of his sons.
Notice that despite David’s sin with Bathsheba, God did not:
- Prevent David from ever touching a woman again.
- Stop David from ever having children again!
In fact, Here’s what God did!
He Let David stay king and rule for another 20 years!
David and Bathsheba had another son, born not long afterward.
This son, Solomon, became his heir and one of history’s most legendary kings.
God not only gave David a second chance, but He also blessed that second chance! God also allowed the consequences of David’s actions to fall.
While David had many wonderful successes in his life, there are few documented successes in his role as a father with his sons. They rebelled against him, and maybe they did it paralleling the way David rebelled against God.
I am not saying that we should use God’s forgiveness to get away with sin. There will be consequences. Honest repentance of a PAST sin frees you to live life fully. God erases the slate, though not instantaneously. Some people carry severe emotional scars for years, others for months. The harder it is to forgive (themselves, their ex-spouse, their children, their God, etc), the longer the healing will take. Pent-up hatred and bitterness, both from within and from others, interferes with the work of love.
- Part One: Introduction
- Part Two: What is Marriage?
- Part Three: God’s Viewpoint
- Part Four: Is Divorce Unforgiveable?
- Part Five: Is Re-marriage An Option?
- Part Six: Scriptual Backing
Please comment and/or respond to what you heard inside of you as you read this! Let’s share!