One of the major plagues of our society today is its rampant divorce rate. Over a period of two generations, the national divorce rate has skyrocketed: 60% of all marriages end in divorce. This worldly problem has also affected the church, leaving many to wonder exactly what God has said about marriage and divorce.
Jesus spoke quite clearly about marriage in Matthew 19:3-11:
And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?”
And He answered and said, “Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
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. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”
But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.”
These verses show many truths. Let us examine them:
- Marriage involves a permanent union. In verse five, Jesus refers back to the beginning, and that man and woman were to become “one flesh.” Verse six says that no man should separate them.
- Divorce is only acceptable to God when it is done for the cause of unfaithfulness (verse 9). Any other form of divorce and consequent remarriage constitutes adultery.
- Even then, the disciples (and Christ Himself) knew that this commandment would not be easy. Only those who were strong, faithful Christians would be able to uphold it (verse 11).
This is Jesus’ true teaching on the subject of marriage. In our world of rampant divorce today, however, many wish to pervert the true teachings out of compassion for those who have had “failed” relationships and divorced previously for unscriptural reasons. We as Christians, however, have no right trying to justify sin out of compassion; we must always hold fast to that which God has said. If one is divorced unscripturally, it is best for that person to remain unmarried, or to be reconciled with their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:11). If our goal is Heaven, to remain unmarried is unfortunate and difficult, but the only choice.