When Divorce is an Absolute Righteous Necessity (2024 Version)

No parent in their right mind would allow an older child or young adult offspring to remain in their home when they were so disobedient and misbehaving that they were an affront to the parent’s authority and a corrupting influence on any other children in the home.  They can’t righteously remain in the home and partake of the privileges of being in the home, nor be righteously eligible for an inheritance from their parents, while they defy their father and/or mother and corrupt the home.  Even the Prodigal son waited until after he had received his inheritance and left the father’s house before he did the corrupt things that he did.  He also knew that such things wouldn’t be tolerated in the home and had to be put away for him to be able to return to his father’s house (his father was a godly man who kept law and order in his home and didn’t tolerate evil under his watch).

It cannot be significantly different with a spouse who is living in an extremely ungodly way.  When a wife disobeys her husband, lies, won’t dress modestly (not to mention if she is committing adultery), if she insists on aborting any children she conceives, etc. then her husband is enabling such behavior by remaining with her.  She is also teaching any children who are already in the home to practice evil by her bad example.  The husband keeping her with him in the home is practically teaching the children the false grace which the Bible warns about.  

Likewise, a woman who is adequately concerned about not being complicit with evil, and adequately concerned about any children she has being taught in God’s ways can’t put up with it for too long if her husband is being abusive, is being perverted, is habitually losing his temper,  using foul language, and/or is insisting on her aborting any children she yet conceives, etc.  

Separation for a time is warranted to show the offending spouse that the other means business, but that separation can’t last forever either.  A time comes where further patience demonstrated becomes excessive to the point of mockery; and the separation must be finalized by a divorce if the offending spouse will not apologize and change.  The sinning spouse must leave or be left.  

Of course, sometimes a spouse may not be serving the Lord yet their sin isn’t really affecting the others in the home.  And that is the only context in which the following verses apply.  

1 Corinthians 7:12-14: “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord (meaning that Jesus didn’t address this situation in His public ministry to our knowledge): If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”  

That only applies when the home can truly be a Christian home despite the husband or wife being an unbeliever.  That is very often not the case when you have a faithful Christian spouse married to an unbeliever (and remember that those who call Jesus Lord but deny Him by their deeds are unbelievers in God’s eyes, whatever they say). 

1 Corinthians 7:15-16 goes on to say:  “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.  A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.  For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?  or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

Common sense time: What if the unbelieving doesn’t leave, yet they can’t be dwelt with peaceably as the believer in Christ follows the Lord and thus (necessarily of course) seeks to maintain a godly atmosphere in their home?  Obviously, a spouse who prevents the maintenance of a godly atmosphere in the home needs to be put away.  There will always be people who try to abuse this and justify divorce for unrighteous reasons- often involving their desire to marry someone else whom they have set their heart upon in an adulterous manner or in order to live lasciviously as a single person. 

God Himself doesn’t show unlimited patience.  He will cast those who persist in sin into the eternal fire of hell in spite of the much effort made on His part in Christ to redeem them and much merciful patience exercised on His part.  And He will cast His very own people who had been in His covenant, out of His covenant, and into the fire of hell eventually- should they provoke Him by persistence in sin and resistance of His correction.  There is no partiality with God.  

Anyone who knows anything about the Bible, and isn’t twisting it to suit their own agenda, must acknowledge things such as the following things:

  • God banned Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden when they transgressed against Him.
  • God destroyed all of mankind by a flood except for eight people who were righteous before Him, essentially giving up on the rest, judging them as people who are irremediable, incurable, and unfitting to partake of His grace; and thus leaving them to the destructive consequences of their sins. 
  • God wrought similar destruction upon entire peoples, cities, and nations after the flood whom He likewise judged to be exceedingly corrupt and hopelessly wretched, useless to the cause of righteousness except for righteousness to be vindicated in their judgment and destruction (chiefly Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them- but many other cities and peoples in many other instances).
  • He even caused the tribe of Judah, which He worked to redeem out of their captivity in Babylon (which they were sent into for their many sins and hardhearted impenitence), to yet be destroyed (even after their deliverance from Egypt and later deliverance from the Babylonian) captivity by the Romans and scattered among the nations for their rejection of His Messiah, Jesus Christ.
  • He will yet send a massive portion of humanity to the eternal lake of fire for continuing in their sins, and refusing His Son Jesus Christ’s reign over them, whom God has sent to suffer and die to redeem mankind to Himself.  The following which Jesus specifically said about the Jews who rejected Him doubtlessly reflects His heart towards mankind in general.  Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”  
  • God threatened, under both the Old and the New Covenants, that those who don’t bring forth the good fruit which necessarily accompanies being related rightly to Him by an obedient, living faith in Him will be cut off from His covenant and condemned as unbelievers.  There is no respect of persons with God; and hence there is no such thing as unconditional security and remaining in covenant with God unconditionally- except of course as a vain concept put forth by teachers of false grace who do not uphold truth and do not faithfully teach by word and deed the necessity of righteous living before God.  Hebrews 10:26-29 rather say: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” 
  • It is also evident that the marriage covenant as ordained by God is intended by God to reflect the nature of His relationship to His people (Ephesians 5:21-32 proves this absolutely if anyone had any honest doubts about that).
  • With these things in mind and chained together logically, it is inconceivable and illogical to think that a divorce to end a marriage would never be an absolute righteous necessity.

Very often those who contest these things point to 1 Corinthians 7:39 and Romans 7:1-3 which speak about the woman being bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives.  And yet they are unwittingly proving the point that there is indeed a narrow provision made by God for divorce and remarriage.  You have to reference God’s Law to know and understand that!  That is the very point and the key to handling this issue righteously.  It will never involve justifying the person who made up some shallow excuse to leave their spouse for someone else.  It will never leave someone to be continually terrorized by an adulterer or an otherwise heathen spouse, whose heathen ways interfere with Christian principles being followed in their home.  And it will also never leave one who is divorced, with no reasonable hope of ever reconciling their marriage, waiting for their first spouse to die before they can ever even think about remarriage.  And the fact that all of these foolish things, and many other foolish things in relation to this topic, are commonly practiced throughout the realm of professing Christianity now is proof in and of itself that the churches now (in general) have departed from God’s ways and lack the knowledge of Him (see Hosea 4:6).

Those who go quoting Scriptures about the Law in relation to divorce and remarriage should really know what the Law actually teaches about divorce and remarriage.  Yet many do not.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.  And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

“Uncleanness” here is obviously a reference to violating the purity of the home, and especially the violation of the sacredness of the marriage covenant (it is implied that upholding the sacredness of the marriage covenant and the maintenance of a godly environment in the home are the only valid reasons for initiating a divorce).  Such instruction is necessary to supplement the principles laid down regarding marriage in Genesis- because sin has since entered the world and sin must be dealt with properly when it shows itself and when people are evidently committed to practicing it.  

The proper way then to see Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 7:39 (which talks about the wife being bound by the law to her husband as he lives) is that no one can righteously depart from a marriage besides the reasons permitted by the Law of God.  And that is also not considering that one’s spouse may unlawfully depart from them and initiate the divorce directly or by default in abandoning them.  In that case, the marriage is over by the other person’s choice.  When the divorce is final, the other is free to move on.  They are not bound to the other person forever nor faced with the utterly stupid task of waiting for their former spouse to die before they are allowed to lawfully remarry (as we’ve seen proven from 1 Corinthians 7:15-16).

Returning to 1 Corinthians chapter 7, we are told later in the chapter in 1 Corinthians 7:27-28: “Art thou bound unto a wife?  seek not to be loosed.  Art thou loosed from a wife?  seek not a wife.  But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.  Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.”  

Some use 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 to say that only men who have been released from a spouse can remarry, yet women who are released from a spouse cannot remarry.  That is foolish (to say the least).  The Bible sometimes communicates a truth about marriage while zeroing in on the man or the woman in doing so, yet obviously not negating the other.  Is the husband not also bound by the law to his wife as long as she lives?  God is not a respecter of persons.  His principles of divorce and remarriage are not any different for women than they are for men.  Both men and women might have to put away their spouse for the sake of the purity of their home, both men and women might be unjustly put away by their spouse, and both men and women have the same potential struggles in being left single after a marriage which they were in has ended.  

We may not know the agenda of those who contend with Scriptural, common-sense principles related to divorce and remarriage, but they evidently like to pick out verses which uphold God’s Law while simultaneously disregarding the Law and the verdicts which God’s servants in the Bible who understood the Law gave.  That is not rational (and often it is even more hypocritical and inconsistent due to how the same people will be in a fellowship with divorced and remarried people anyways- they just selectively choose who to contend with and claim is living in sin).  

It is not God’s will to altogether forbid marriage to adults who are not married, whether they were previously married or not; and whether those who were married were released from their marriage by death or by a divorce in a marriage which they could not righteously and realistically continue in.  God’s verdict about single Christians is foundational to the other things said about marriage and singleness in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.  You just have to read verses 1 to 9 in this chapter to see God’s verdict about single Christians.  That verdict shows the absurdity of a Christian being left in a potential life sentence of having to stay single when they very well may struggle, just as much or more, with the problems which single Christians who have never ever been married might struggle with.  

God rebukes people in Malachi chapter two for dealing treacherously against their spouse by putting them away unjustly.  To tell those who have been treacherously dealt with in such a manner that they can never lawfully remarry is to cooperate with, comply with, and increase the treachery which they have tragically been made subject toOne key thing that both those who give permission which is too casual to divorce and remarry, and those who say that divorce and remarriage is never permitted by God under any circumstances, have in common is that they enable people monstrous offenders in a marriage to act monstrously and they tie the hands of the spouse who is being greatly harmed by the one who is acting monstrously from the righteous recourse which God’s Law provides for them.  

When Jesus spoke on this topic in the Gospels, He was saying that a man is still an adulterer even though he gets the paperwork done in divorcing his wife so he can leave her to marry another woman.  Just having the divorce paperwork done regarding the first marriage, before the second marriage takes place, doesn’t mean one is not guilty of adultery in initiating the second marriage.  The Jews of the first century were notorious for abusing the provision of the Law of God made for divorce in Deuteronomy chapter 24 to allow divorce for any cause at all.  Jesus never broke nor spoke against the Law of God.  In the Gospels Jesus was clearly rebuking the abuse of God’s provision for divorce in the Law, not the righteous application of it.  The Law of God provides a narrow provision for divorce, not a broad one.  It is thus wrong to deny that there is indeed a narrow provision for divorce that ought to be applied sometimes.  Those who deny this narrow provision are speaking contrary to God’s Law just  like the people who promote divorce which is contrary to God’s Law (both groups are in violation of God’s Law and are thus sinning- 1 John 3:4 says “sin is the transgression of the law”).

God hates divorce, yet that does not mean it’s never necessary and it doesn’t mean there isn’t such a thing as an innocent party who is blameless in the divorce.  He hates it when man’s unrighteousness necessitates a divorce as much as He hates it when man’s unrighteousness initiates a divorce when there was no righteous necessity for it.  Wicked people can abuse God’s Word out of context to threaten a victimized spouse not to divorce just as wicked people abuse God’s Word out of context to justify a divorce so they can remarry to gratify their lust or for some other unrighteous reason.  There are people who have gone through years and years of constant abuse at the hands of a lunatic or otherwise impossible to bear heathen (who of course might also be a professing Christian) as they, during that time, believe that divorce is never, ever righteous.  This can also expose children to physical and emotional abuse.  Wavering, sloppy Scripture application, and overall bad understanding on this matter throughout churches causes people getting counsel on this to be tossed to and fro in every direction. 

To say that divorcing a spouse is not an absolute righteous necessity, when their persistence in sin is corrupting the home and preventing God from being glorified there, is fighting against the truth and enabling rebellion against the Lord.  That never ends well.  

Jeremiah 8:19-20: “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion?  is not her king in her?  Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?  The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

Proverbs 29:1: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]