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Marriage and Divorce are hot button social issues with lots opinions about them. However, these topics are far too important to simply leave in the realm of opinion, particularly because they have a lifelong impact on the people who are involved. You wouldn’t decide to have an operation based on someone’s opinion—you need authoritative information from a medical professional. Yet, sadly many people make decisions on marriage and divorce based on the prevailing thinking of society (but we all complain about how screwed up society is). Why not learn what the Inventor of social structure has to say about marriage and divorce? We can find His legitimate authoritative instructions in the Bible.

God’s Design For Marriage

The Bible tells us of the first wedding and uses that information to describe God’s basic principles for marriage. (Just to be sure we have the proper mindset when reviewing this information, remember it is authoritative because it is given by God, the Creator of Universe. Anything you’ve heard about the story of Adam and Eve being an allegory or a fable, discard as misinformation—such wrong ideas will only hinder your understanding of the Bible and thus, set you up to for pain and failure in relationships.) The first wedding is given to us in the following verses:

“Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:22-24)

Here we see God bringing the woman to the man, just as fathers give their daughters away today. Adam responds by taking the woman to be his wife with a simple yet profound vow, proclaiming she is now a part of him. God is the witness to this ceremony and gives the command that when a man and woman marry, “they shall become one flesh”.

This short story lays out some very clear principles:

1) God sanctioned marriage—He brought the woman to the man
2) God intended for it to be one man and one woman—He brought one woman to one man
3) God intended it to be permanent—the two were to become one
4) God intended the marriage to be superior to all other earthly relationships—the man was to leave his family and start a new one
5) Man is to protect and provide for the woman as he does for his own body—she is to be valued as his own body

Naturally, the intentions and commands of the Designer of Life must be the best way to live life and order society. Since He knows more than every creature, if things would be better another way, He would have designed things differently. Thus, it is only logical that when we stray from God’s designs, life will not be good.

Why God Allowed Divorce

So if God designed marriage to be permanent, why does the Bible allow for divorce? That’s a good question, so we will let Jesus answer it.

[3] The Pharisees also came to Him [Jesus], testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
[4] And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ [5] and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? [6] So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
[7] They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
[8] He [Jesus] said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. [9] And 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.” (Matthew 19:3-9)

First of all, notice that Jesus takes the historical fact of the first marriage (verses 4-5) and issues a command based on it (verse 6) so there is no room for debate on what God intended, wants, or expects. Then He answers the question as to “why divorce?” It is “because of the hardness of your hearts” (verse 8). What does that mean? When humans sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, we corrupted ourselves and are inclined to act against God’s principles. God allowed divorce because the human heart is wicked and He knows what we are capable of doing.

Consider the following thesis. Divorce is a protection for women from evil men. Think about it, what do wicked people do? They hurt others physically and emotionally, I mean real abuse. Divorce that was allowed in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1) let a man sever ties with a woman that displeased him before he got to point of beating her. If you want to see an example of a society that embraces the beating of displeasing wives, just look at the teachings of radical Islam used even to this day. Divorce was one of several methods God used to protect women from sinful men under the Law of Moses. Others included laws for men who took more than one wife (Exodus 21:10-11), the law for jealous husbands which could prove a wife was innocent (Numbers 5:12-31), the law for husbands who slandered a wife concerning her virginity (Deuteronomy 22:13-19), laws concerning rape (Deuteronomy 22:25-29), etc. None of these laws would have been needed if humanity had kind and unselfish hearts.

For us today who are not under the Law of Moses, Jesus makes it clear that God does not allow or condone divorce for every reason, nor does He allow or condone remarriage unless a spouse was sexually unfaithful. Does this standard seem hard and burdensome? That is not God’s intent.

God’s Standards Are Meant To Protect People, Not Deny Pleasure

Since God is the Creator and He blesses us every day with life, food, etc., it should be obvious that when He gives instructions they are for our good. However, since we have hard hearts, it is human nature to think any restriction is a personal offense—this is arrogant, immature, and only leads to pain and suffering as we see all around us. Consider the benefits of a permanent one man and one woman relationship with love and respect (also part of God’s plan as we will see). Stability, security, reliability, companionship, dependability, etc. lead to emotional and physical health allowing for both people to be productive members of society. This is not to say that committed couples will not have disagreements and difficulties, but if each person knows the other is committed they can work through such problems without fear. Don’t just take my word for it, do your own search to find research showing these and many other good things that come from a committed relationship, not only for the husband and wife, but for children as well. Such information is readily available and you can convince yourself that God’s plan is the best one.

Even without scientific studies, you can plainly see the sad consequences of deviating from God’s plan for marriage. Have you ever seen a person going through a divorce who was happy? Do you know any children who have been through a divorce who are not emotionally scarred? Even adult children of divorce have pain—no one ever “gets over it”. Do you know anyone who goes from relationship to relationship who has found fulfillment? God has given rules and principles to prevent the useless, deep rooted, and long lasting pain that comes from broken homes, not to mention the social ills that reach far beyond the individuals who are involved.

A cursory look at the Proverbs plainly shows that God’s commands are for our protection and not given simply to keep you from enjoying life. One example is the warning to stay away from immoral women, “Remove your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house…Lest aliens be filled with your wealth…And you mourn at last, When your flesh and your body are consumed,” (Proverbs 5:8-11) The command is simple, stay away from immoral relationships or you will lose your money and your health. How many people who have lost money on pornography addictions or who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases could have benefited from obeying this? The other side of this principle shows that God wants us to have pleasure in a safe way. “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19) In marriage, love and pleasure are pure and have no negative consequences, but outside of marriage there is pain. Remember, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

A Mystery About Marriage

It may be natural to ask, what are people to do who are in unhappy relationships? Should they continue to live in misery? First of all, we need to recognize that the best way to avoid divorce is to marry for the right reasons. Our society is fixated on beauty and pleasure so we ignorantly think that if two good looking people are having fun in a dating relationship that they should get married. You cannot expect to build a lasting relationship on shallow ideas. But for those who are already married and realized they picked the wrong person, there is hope. Let Jesus fix your heart problem and you may be able to rescue a troubled marriage.

The Bible provides instructions for how to live in marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33. Just as the first command about marriage was based on a model given in Genesis, these instructions are based on a relationship, but it had remained a mystery until Jesus time. “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:32-33) These verses come after the writer had just compared the way a husband was to treat his wife to the way Jesus treats the church (the followers of Jesus). Thus, we see the institution of marriage is a picture of Jesus (the husband) and the church (the wife). Let that thought sink in. God gave marriage to illustrate His never ending love and desire for a relationship with His people. That is why marriage is holy and should be revered. Now does it make sense that is to be permanent, because God would never cast away His own? Now does it make sense that there should be love and respect within marriage, because that is how God treats us?

If we follow God’s model, our marriages will be healthy and provide the security and satisfaction that He intended. The key is putting the partner’s best interests above your own—that is what God did for us. It is logical that if a husband “love[s] his own wife as himself”, he will look to her needs, spend time with her, learn her interests, etc. The result will be a wife who feels secure and fulfilled. Similarly, it is logical that if the wife “respects her husband”, she will look to his needs, affirm him, learn his interests, etc. The result will be a husband who feels confident enough to handle responsibilities at home and abroad. So we see this relationship is a two way street with each person benefiting from sacrificing of self to share with the other. This is the only way to have a truly happy and fulfilling relationship. Again, Jesus modeled this by sacrificing Himself on the cross to buy salvation for whoever would believe in Him. He gave of Himself to have a relationship with you, so we must give of ourselves.

Protect Or Save Your Marriage

Selfishness will kill any relationship. This is why I said earlier that if you want any hope of saving or protecting your marriage, you must let Jesus fix your heart first. (If you don’t think you need “fixing”, just look around you. It will be obvious that everyone else needs fixing, so guess what—you do too!) Since we are by nature corrupt (from the Garden of Eden) our hearts are bent toward selfishness. When we yield our lives to Jesus, He gives us a new heart that is capable of loving like He does. Obviously, it will take two unselfish people to make a marriage work, but you must start with yourself. As you allow Jesus to fix you, you can pray for your spouse, future spouse, or former spouse.

If you are not yet married, I urge you to forget the prevailing social views that cheapen marriage and downplay the pain of divorce. Instead, learn and understand God’s plan for marriage and commit to it so that you set yourself up for success and lay a foundation for a lasting fulfilling relationship. Give your heart to Jesus so that He can give you the heart you need for that relationship and let Him guide you to a person who has a similar understanding.

If you are married, be aware that God wants your marriage to succeed no matter the challenges you face. However, He does not promise to sprinkle pixie dust to solve all your problems. Instead the Lord gives you tools (from the Bible) and support (from the Holy Spirit) to work through difficulties because He respects the desires and choices of each person. If God forced your spouse to love or respect you, He would be disrespecting him or her. However, God can use the change in your life to attract your spouse to Jesus. The Apostle Peter speaks of this, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word [of God], they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-2) This example can work for men or women. So if your spouse chooses to follow Jesus (through seeing a change in you, not because you threatened to leave), then you may see God work a miracle that you never thought possible.

What if it is too late for you? It is never too late to come to Jesus. Even if a marriage cannot be put back together, you can know love, peace, healing, and forgiveness in a relationship with Jesus. Let Him show you what a real relationship is all about. Learn how by reading our articles at About Jesus.

In Closing

Whatever your circumstances and where ever you are in life, remember, God wants what is best for you, that’s why He gave us these instructions and principles. Investing a small amount of time into learning God’s plan and doing the work to follow it is the only way to lasting fulfillment in relationships. (Everything can’t be covered in this one article, so check out additional information below.) His plan is designed to help you avoid unneeded pain and help you make it through times of disagreement and difficulty without fear. The choice is simple: obey God and be blessed or follow society and suffer. Let me encourage you to trust God with your life—He doesn’t make mistakes!

Premarital Resources

Marital Resources

Divorce Resources

Sample Bible Verses Warning And Encouraging You To Follow God’s Plan:

Proverbs 6:32-33 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Ephesians 5:2-5 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:24-25 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

(All Bible passages are from the New King James Version)

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