Sonoma Christian Home Banner
Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: June 29, 2015.

However, there is a balance within this passage. Paul also said, “If it is possible.” That phrase obviously implies that sometimes it is not possible to live at peace with someone. That is a sad situation, but it happens. Let me make this clear, it takes two people to make a marriage work. If you are reading this and your spouse has run off with someone else and divorced you, I don’t want you to feel condemned by these statements. All you should consider is, did you do all you could to save the marriage?

Remember, God only holds you responsible for your actions. If your spouse chooses to resist reconciliation there is very little you can do about it. However, whenever I make statements like this, people usually ask, “Are you saying that there are some cases where divorce and remarriage may be permissible?” My answer is, yes, there are reasons given in Scripture for divorce and remarriage. Then people say, “But isn’t this a contradiction of what you’ve just said?” No it isn’t. Let me explain.

Let me give you two biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage. Jesus gives the first reason when He answers the Pharisees’ question in Matthew 19: “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ ” (vs. 3). The question is, can someone divorce for any reason. Jesus plainly teaches that you can’t divorce for any reason, because God’s desire from the beginning was for one woman to be married to one man for life (vs. 4-6).

The Pharisees responded with another question. “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” (vs. 7). Jesus explains that Moses did not command people to divorce; it was only permitted or allowed because of the hardness of men’s hearts (vs. 8). Jesus admits that divorce is permitted in Scripture. Then Jesus gives the reason it is permitted: “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (vs.9).

Note that Jesus is the one who gives the exception to the rule, not me. He said, “except for sexual immorality.” This exception is not a command; it’s an allowable release. I have seen many couples where adultery took place, and the offended partner chose not to divorce because of the humility and repentance of the offending spouse.

Many of these marriages have reconciled and become stronger as a result of their reconciliation. However, when a person continues to practice sexual immorality and refuses to repent of his or her offense, or he or she runs off to marry into the adulterous relationship, I believe that this is evidence of a hardened heart — the reason Jesus gave this exception.

Regardless, there are many Christians who believe that there are no exceptions allowing divorce. I believe that this position is indefensible based on the teachings of Christ in Matthew 19. Judging from the letters and e-mails I get from people on this topic, many Christians are confused about what Scripture teaches. For any teacher to deny the exception of sexual immorality as an option for a Christian, I believe, is to take away from God’s Word. Scripture clearly states that adding to or taking away from His Word is a very serious offense (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19).

Paul also gives a second reason for divorce and remarriage: when an unbeliever abandons and wants to divorce a believing spouse.  We will cover this issue later in this study. This reason is found in 1 Cor. 7:15.

However, before we go any further I know many people reading these words are having problems with the idea of exceptions. Many people have said to me, “When you give an exception to the marriage covenant, you give people an easy out. They look for a loophole and simply run from their responsibility. They take this option as their first choice instead of as a last resort.”

First, let me say that divorce never offers an easy out. It harms and scars all concerned because it rips apart a marriage and a family. Unfortunately, I have to agree that some people do look for loopholes and don’t take responsibility for themselves and the commitment they have made. This is his or her own loss.

But, I can’t change God’s Word and remove an option because I want to force someone to be responsible. No one has the right to put his or her own opinions into Scripture just because he or she has gone through a messy divorce. Yes, I do believe you should work with everything you have to seek reconciliation with your mate. But, if he or she refuses to reconcile, continues in an adulterous relationship, or determines to abandon you, divorce is an available option.

Others say, “But shouldn’t you continue to strive to make the marriage work?” Yes, you should strive for reconciliation, but there is a point at which you can strive contrary to reality. Even God Himself has said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). God saw the reality, “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

God made this statement concerning mankind and then brought the flood upon the earth. The Lord took the same action with the Jews who were unfaithful to Him. He pursued them, striving to bring them to repentance. But, when it was clear that they would not turn from their idolatry, He sent them into captivity and turned away from them (2 Chronicles 36:16; Deut. 32:15-20).

There are husbands and wives just like the Jews, who harden their hearts and stiffen their necks, who will not respond. No matter what overture of love you make toward them, they reject it. In these situations you need to understand that you can’t force someone to do what they willfully refuse to do.




Wanting more encouragement? Read Understanding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage – Part I


Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

At this time, we ask you refrain from purchasing on the Sonoma Christian Home store. We are in the process of performing updates and in the meantime we would ask you hold off on new orders. We will make an announcement once our store is back in action! Dismiss