Divorce and Remarriage-Part Five
Tough Marriages

Many would agree with the previous nuggets on this topic, but would argue that there are times when a marriage is so bad that divorce is the only answer. Or there is such a thing as spiritual adultery and then divorce is ok. Some would say that 'God understands that I have to (or had to) get a divorce'. In the next nugget we are going to speak on the grace and mercy of God (He covers a multitude of sin) in regards to this topic, but first we must take a stand for truth. Unless there has been fornication (or some would say physical adultery), abandonment by an unsaved spouse, or death, there are no other biblical grounds for divorce. To say that God understands why I have to sin, is deception. As followers of Jesus Christ we never have to sin. Yes, God understands why we sin, but it does not mean He condones our sin.

Spiritual Adultery
No where in Scripture is there any hint of such a term. Neither Jesus nor Apostle Paul speaks on such a term. Some would argue that if a spouse has an addiction, is abusive, or for any other reason is more committed to something else than the marriage, that they have committed spiritual adultery. We certainly understand how a certain behavior may become more important than a marriage and is destructive to a marriage, but the Bible does not recognize these behaviors as reasons for divorce.

So what about tough marriages?

Abusive Relationships
It absolutely is never God's will for a person to be abused. No man (or woman) has a right to physically, verbally, or emotionally to abuse their spouse. NEVER! Any church that teaches a man is to be the head of the house and then condones a man who abuses his wife, is teaching falsehood. If there is abuse in the home, the couple needs to be separated. Even if there are not children in the home. Everything should be done so that the abuser suffers the consequences of their actions so that they will have a desire to change. Divorce is an easy way out for the abuser. They are divorced and then the abuser marries someone else to abuse. And guess what? Normally what happens is the victim does not get the help they need, and they then marry another abuser. Divorce is not the answer. Counseling, deliverance, healing, restoration is the will of God.

Jesus cares about the victim. He does not want them to be victimized. That is why there needs to be separation. If the abuser experiences the consequences of their behavior and does not desire change, they will most likely abandon the marriage. And the victim would be free to get remarried. The question is, should they get married again if they have not worked through their own issues. Many women marry men who they know have abusive qualities. If they knew they were 'stuck in such marriages', they would not get married in the first place. Which means they would not be in a tough marriage where they wish divorce was an option.

No pastor should ever condone the abuser to get married again until they have true repentance and change of behavior.

Addicted Spouses
Many addicted spouses have issues with abuse and so the above principles would apply also. Children need to be protected from such spouses. Even if there has not been abuse, there may need to be separation so that the addicted spouse suffers the consequences for their actions. We are talking about any addiction that becomes very destructive to the marriage. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling. Separation should be the last choice, but it may need to occur.

Most people had the addiction before they got married. So the question to ask, without sounding uncaring, is "Why did you marry them in the first place? If you knew it was going to be a life long commitment, would you have married the addicted spouse?" If a Christian understood that there are no biblical grounds for divorcing an addicted spouse and that if they get divorced that God does not approve of remarriage, they would not be marrying the person in the first place. Unless of course, they are dysfunctional, and then there are consequences for making bad choices.

Our understanding of Scripture is that adultery is not a grounds for divorce, only fornication committed by a spouse during the engagement process. However, some would disagree and say adultery is grounds for divorce. If adultery is grounds for divorce, nothing in Scripture states you have to divorce the person. There is the example in the Book of Hosea where Hosea married Gomer, and she became a prostitute and he still took her back. This story was told to symbolize how the nation of Israel cheated on God and He took them back.

The Christ-like 'higher ground' in regards to adultery would be to forgive the spouse and start fresh in the marriage. The problem is some may see adultery as the unpardonable sin in a marriage. Ask a spouse of an abuser and I believe most of them would say that they would rather have their spouse cheat on them one time, than abuse them all the time.

Adultery is sin, it is wrong, and destructive. The adulterer is the sinful party. However, we must look at the full picture. Great marriages almost never have adultery taking place. Poor marriages with poor relationships may experience adultery. There certainly are times when a spouse is doing everything correct and their mate may cheat on them. But normally, there has been unmet needs and the spouse goes some place else to fulfill them. This is sin, but the victim must also take a look at his or her own life.

Because of false teaching, many Christians who are in a bad marriage hope that their spouse will commit adultery so they have grounds for divorce. This is a sad commentary on Christians. Our desire should be that the marriage be healed, not destroyed by adultery.

Some who have had an unscriptural divorce, have hoped that their divorced spouse will get remarried and then they believe they can get remarried themselves. Their argument would be that scripture teaches if you had an unbiblical divorce and get remarried you have committed adultery. So since their divorced spouse committed adultery by getting remarried, then they can get married. However, Jesus did not teach that remarriage is ok if your divorced spouse commits adultery after divorce.

Unequally Yoked Marriages
It can be real hard on a Christian who is married to a non-Christian. But this is not grounds for a divorce. Apostle Paul speaks on this in 1 Cor 7. If pastors did not perform unequally yoked marriages, then this would not be occurring as frequently as it does. If you do not want to be stuck in a bad marriage, then don't marry a non-Christian. Also realize that there is no guarantee that marrying a Christian makes a good marriage. Marriage is a life long commitment so use wisdom before getting married.

Separation, with the goal of deliverance for the erring party and healing for the victim, not divorce, is the answer for tough marriages. We believe both parties in a tough marriage are victims. They are victims of sin and need to be set free. Set free by the intervention of Jesus Christ in the marriage. Yes, it is a tough road. Yes, it may require intensive counseling. Yes, it may take years. Yes, it may never get better. That is why people should not be so quick to get married. Normally what happens is there is divorce and the victim and erring party get married to someone else, and the cycle starts all over again. Those who get remarried have even a higher divorce rate than first time married couples. The reason is that the couples never dealt with the root causes of the failure of the first marriage.

So what if you have gotten divorced and remarried? Is divorce the unpardonable sin? Is remarriage the unpardonable sin? There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. In the next nugget we will share the forgiveness of Jesus.


Copyright @ 2001 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NAS)