Why Shouldn’t They Divorce?

When marriage is unhappy and a couple cannot get along with each other why shouldn’t they divorce? If the husband is unkind it to his wife, or the wife is contentious and difficult, why don’t we recommend or condone they split up and find happiness elsewhere? These are questions we are often asked as biblical counselors.

He (Jesus) answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)

In our modern age, the Bible’s truths and commands are often considered to be flexible or not as serious as they once were. Nothing could be further from reality. Divorce is the rending of the covenant that two people made first to God and then to each other. Both people made solemn, sovereign, and covenantal promises to love, honor, serve, bear with each other, and maintain sexual purity, until the day they died. These are promises God takes very seriously. He does not wink or shrug at divorce. Perhaps those calling themselves Christians ought to take divorce as seriously as God does.

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (ESV)

To be clear, we do not condone abuse in marriage. It is never all right for a husband or a wife to be verbally, physically, sexually, emotionally, or spiritually abusive to their spouse. However, even in those cases, we do not immediately jump to divorce. We act to protect the abused spouse by removing them from the home and we provide help and accountability for the abuser. We strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage and we believe that even in these cases husbands and wives should do everything humanly possible to keep the marriage intact.

In most cases, divorce solves nothing except to tear apart what God joined together. The individuals involved don’t deal with the personal sin that destroyed their marriage. They don’t practice dying to self (Luke 9:23) nor do they consider their spouse as better than themselves (Philippians 2:1-8). The character flaws that lead to divorce are not solved by divorce! These character flaws persist and are carried into subsequent relationships. This is not growth and change, it is escapism.

Couples who are in difficult, unhappy, and unfulfilling marriages must begin by looking at themselves. They must do healthy self-examination in light of God’s Word and ask themselves if they are responding in ways that are glorifying to God. They must stop pointing fingers at their spouse and focusing on all their spouse does wrong, and instead, begin to look inward at their own sinful heart.

We believe in the power of reconciliation. We believe that God is able to fix what is broken; even when it appears to be irretrievably or irreconcilably broken. We believe that when Christians want to honor and glorify God, they will determine to make concessions and compromises and do anything it takes to make the marriage work.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7