Pastor Q&A // Part 1
QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT DIVORCE AND ABUSIVE MARRIAGE. PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, ETC.?
ANSWER: PASTOR CODY
I want to start with an unequivocal statement. If you have submitted this question because you are in physical danger, leave your house immediately and contact your church leaders or someone you trust. God does not want you to be in that situation.
Now, onto the broader question of divorce.
God established marriage as the oldest and most sacred institutions. The apostle Paul teaches us that marriage should be a picture of Christ and the church. God loves marriage; it is for our good.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees as they were trying to trap him. They referred to the book of Deuteronomy and asked if it was lawful to divorce for any and every reason.
Jesus respond to them, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
They replied, “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.
There are three takeaways from this passage.
First, Jesus demonstrates that marriage was perfect from the very beginning, before sin; it was meant to endure. When sin entered the world, so did the need to legislate sin. God used the law both to restrain sin and to reveal to people their condemnation.
Second, while Jesus clearly makes a case for the enduring nature of marriage, he does, in my view, make an exception in the case of sexual immorality. If someone breaks the marriage covenant by committing adultery, there is room for divorce. However, divorce is the last resort, and God always loves a redemptive story. Note: there are several acceptable interpretations of this passage, and many that don’t include the exception.
Third, God loves marriage, but he hates abuse. For instance, in Deuteronomy 24, the very Old Testament passage in which the Pharisees and Jesus were debating, God allowed divorce and remarriage as protection to women.
In fact, throughout the scriptures, you will find God caring for the oppressed. Therefore, our first response to someone experiencing abuse is to protect them.
If you are experiencing physical abuse, please seek immediately. If you are experiencing emotional abuse, I encourage you and your spouse to seek biblical counseling. If your spouse is unwilling, bring someone along side of you to confront them. We want to help you.
God loves marriage; God hates divorce. And God hates abuse. Unfortunately, this isn’t a yes or no question it can’t be answered at a high level. Each situation needs personal attention before decisions are made. Again, I want to end by saying that if you are in a terrible situation, please get help, you will not find judgment, but love.