3 Biblical Reasons for Divorce

We received the following email from a man who had downloaded and read through our free Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well:

So according to this ‘guide’ which quotes Mark 10 verses 11-12 anyone who has been divorced is not an ‘eligible’ person to marry? What planet do you idiots live on? I have to marry someone who has never been married? Are you kidding me? I’m 43. I don’t have ‘never been married’ as a choice. Thanks for the worthless advice.

The Mark 10:11-12 reference is found on p. 51 of the guide, where we provide some guidelines for eligible spouses, among them this: “Is the person a believer who fears God (Proverbs 31:30) and who is biblically eligible for marriage (Mark 10:11-12)?”

My reply to this man, which draws from the Focus on the Family article “How Should a Christian View Marriage and Divorce?“:

Is your concern with Jesus’ words, or with our referencing Jesus’ words? Or perhaps you’re assuming an interpretation that we’re not giving?

FWIW, we believe that Scripture allows for divorce in three instances:

1) When one’s mate is guilty of sexual immorality and is unwilling to repent and live faithfully with the marriage partner.

2) When one spouse is not a Christian, and that spouse willfully and permanently deserts the Christian spouse.

3) When an individual’s divorce occurred prior to salvation.

These, we believe, are biblically permissible reasons for divorce. If someone has been divorced for one of these reasons, then, we believe they are not sinning by marrying another person.

I pray you find this clarification helpful, and that you find a wonderful woman with whom to share your life.

God hates divorce. It tears people up, and misrepresents the relationship it reflects, that of Christ and His Church. But it is permissible (though not required) in certain instances.

If you’re considering divorce, let me urge you to talk with your pastor or a Christian counselor whom you respect. Many who are biblically permitted to divorce, but who don’t, end up with rich and satisfying and grace-filled marriages. If you’re considering marrying someone who’s been divorced, let me urge you to wrestle with that person’s submission to the biblical principles identified above.

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