Can a husband or wife divorce their spouse for any cause?
Friday, January 01 2010 @ 05:00 AM CST
Contributed by: Jake
Contrary to what most people and governments think today, husbands and wives cannot divorce for just any old reason under the sun. Marriage is a union of two people who have vowed to each other before God and other witnesses that they will forsake all others and cleave to each other through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for better or worse. Obviously, people today aren't taking this as seriously as they should. There is only one God given reason for a husband/wife to leave their marriage partner and marry another and that reason is adultery (fornication). Let's look at some verses that show this.
In Matthew 5:31-32 our Lord says, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
Again in Matthew 19:3-9, the Pharisees test Jesus by bringing up this same question. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
This same conversation is also recorded in Mark 10:2-12, "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? Tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, what did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, for the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."
In Luke 16:18, Jesus simply says, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."
Although the apostle Paul was only using marriage and divorce as an illustration to make a point in Romans 7:2-3, we can still apply this illustration to our question here. Paul states, "For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man."
Also, the apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, in 1 Corinthians 7:10 wrote, "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:" He goes on to say in verse 11, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." Those people, who divorce for some reason other than adultery, cannot marry again. The only choice they have is to be reconciled to the husband/wife they left behind or to remain unmarried.
As we have seen from the above passages, there is only one reason God has given for divorce and that is the unfaithfulness of one of the marriage partners. What will be the final reward for those who do such things? Romans 1:28-32 says, â??â?¦they which commit such things are worthy of deathâ?¦â?. Galatians 5:19-21 lists adultery and fornication along side of murder and witchcraft; itâ??s just as evil to commit adultery as it is to murder someone. These verses state, â??Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.â? These verses show that those who commit adultery are worthy of death and will not inherit the kingdom of God. What can the adulterer do to avoid the punishment that awaits him? He must repent of his sins and make things right with God. What would this involve? It means he/she would have to confess their sins and repent of them. In order to repent of this sin, the adultery must end his adulterous marriage and either return to his/her mate or remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:10 quoted above). If the adulterer does not confess and repent of his ways he will be eternally tormented along with the murderers, liars, and other evil people who refused to obey God.