<<break-up, separation>>

This is the legal dissolution of the marriage bond between a husband and wife.

God’s ideal standard is for a married couple to be ‘one flesh’ in a lifelong commitment till death takes one of them, after which the remaining partner is free to remarry (Gen 2:24; 1 Cor 7:39; 1 Tim 5:14). Humanity should not separate what God has joined together (Mt 19:4-6). It is a violation of His intent for married couples – “Do not break faith with your wife. I hate divorce”, yet He still loves His children who are involved (Mal 2:14-16; 1 Cor 7:10,11). Mankind has cheapened marriage and trivialised the seriousness of the relationship, which should not be entered into lightly.

There is only one reason for divorce explicitly mentioned in Scripture – when one partner is unfaithful by having sex with someone else (Mt 5:32, 19:9; Mk 10:11,12; Rom 7:2,3). Even then, repentance, forgiveness and restoration of the original relationship is to be

Don’t view divorce as an easy exit

sought, which in many instances results in the mending of the rift through effort and mutual willingness. However, many Bible teachers consider the abandonment of a believing spouse is “not bound” by an unbelieving partner to be another reason for divorce (1 Cor 7:15). Abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, mental, and spiritual) are often proposed as legitimate justification too. Protection of the spouse and children is essential when there is violence with separating from an abuser advised, with nothing in the Bible to forbid living apart (as distinct from formal divorce).

To leave your partner for someone else may be legal by civil laws but God considers it adultery, which has serious consequences (1 Cor 6:9-11; Heb 13:4).
Divorce emotionally scars both spouses, brings untold psychological damage to any children involved (especially through when there are custody conflicts), and adversely affecting the wider family structure. A bad marriage can be heart-wrenchingly painful, and it is immensely difficult to know how to bring healing and restoration, yet divorce is always a tragedy with many lasting ramifications, even if it occurs for biblical reasons.

Pray daily for guidance and protection for your spouse taking measures to protect them from falling into immorality with someone else. As great marriages don't just happen, there must be ongoing commitment and strengthening of this the greatest human relationship between two people who are attracted to each other. As divorce is the result

Strengthen, rather than destroy your marriage

of a lack of 'relational oneness' (a drifting apart) be as courteous, attentive and loving as when you were when courting. Set aside times to be together as a couple, without the children, to talk over and resolve issues that have been causing conflict, or just have regular quality time together. Divorce is not to be regarded as an escape route when difficulties arise, the relationship seems dead, or someone new takes your eye. Rekindle the fire of love that drew you together in the first place and be a fantastic lover!    

Every close relationship, particularly marriage, has its times of stress and hurts. Love, although it is an emotion, must also involve the will – a conscious decision to act and react in a Godly manner, not dictated to by the old carnal nature. Don’t see divorce as a way out of what has taken a long time and much past effort to establish. Seek help from your pastor, or mature friends if required.

To rebuild one’s life after divorce: learn from the failure of the relationship how you can grow and be a changed person; accept God’s forgiveness – guilt follows every failure we experience in life. God promises to forgive us when we repent (1 Jn 1:9); be prepared to trust other people after the deep hurts of rejection – healing will come; hand your bitterness and anger to God, redirect the emotional energy into rebuilding your life rather than destructive outlets; rebuild your support system of friends – this will need considerable effort to re-establish.

See also: adultery, bonding, conflict, connection, counsel/counselling, guilt, inner healing, love, loyalty, marriage, rejection, remarriage, separation.