Divorce in the Bible (1) (6 Dec 2015)

In the month of Nov, I wrote a brief column on the topic of Marriage in the Bible.  Today, we will look at some basic principles from the Bible concerning the issue of divorce.  Sadly, the hotter topic these days is more on divorce than marriage. About a month back, Sunday Times published a survey on divorce in Singapore organised by the Singapore Association for Counselling. A range of questions were asked to a group of 134 divorcees (45 men and 89 women).  In that survey, one in four divorcees surveyed cites adultery as the main reason for seeking separation.  And the divorce rate in Singapore is as high as one in three or four marriages.  It is with this serious background that we are facing in Singapore, that as Christians, we need to further understand the biblical teachings that God has placed for us in His Word.

To begin with, let us be clear about the fact that neither is the Bible silent on the subject of divorce, nor does it always , under all circumstances, for everyone, condemn divorce. It is altogether true that God hates divorce. But He neither hates all divorces in the same way nor hates every aspect of divorce. He hates what occasions every divorce.  He hates the results that often flow to children and to injured parties of a divorce.  And he hates divorces wrongly obtained on grounds that He has not sanctioned.

It is important to develop a balanced, biblical attitude toward divorce – on the one hand, hating all those things that God hates about divorce, while recognizing that in this sinful world, there are those situations in which (as God Himself demonstrated), it may be necessary to obtain a divorce. Having said this, we must be clear also then, that those who are wrongly (sinfully) obtain a divorce must not be excused for what they have done; it is SIN.  But precisely because it is sin, it is FORGIVEABLE. The sin of divorcing one’s spouse on unbiblical grounds is bad, not only because of the misery it caused, but especially because it is an offence against a holy God.  But it is not indelibly imprinted in the life of the sinner that it cannot be washed away by Christ’s blood.

Notwithstanding the above introduction, it is important for us to remember Malachi 2:16 that the Lord hates divorce. God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the OT, God laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deut 24:1-4).  Some writers ascribed this passage to “The Process of Divorce”. Our Lord Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because such laws were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

God willing, we will have follow through by considering “Divorce amongst believers” & “Divorce amongst unequally yoked” over the next two pastoral columns.

Meanwhile, more importantly, we should stay above what God want and desire from each of us, who are to be married faithfully to our only spouse.  We may be surrounded by all kinds of temptations in the world that we are placed in.  And the real challenge is to how to stay away from them.  One tip that some of us learnt from the recent seminar (Verse by Verse) – pray for the object of temptation.  It is hard to covert over something that you are praying for. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”


Elder Andrew Lim

Ref:  “Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage in the Bible” by Jay E. Adams