"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." -James 3:1
I write this article with faith, hope, and love in the Lord Jesus Christ toward all those that may be confused about these doctrines and who may be considering taking dramatic, life-changing actions in order to do the right thing in the eyes of God.
I. A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST
Before we begin this study regarding divorce and remarriage it is necessary that my readers understand one very important doctrine:
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." -2 Corinthian 5:17
Whatever a person has done before coming to Christ is of no matter, for those who are in Christ are "a new creation." If you are a Christian, you are a new person. Every sin you have committed prior to becoming a Christian has no relevance. Therefore, whether you have been divorced prior to becoming a Christian makes no difference for "ALL THINGS have become new" and you are free to marry "in the Lord" (1Cor 7:39).
Do not listen to those that argue this point. Either believe what the Scripture (2Cor 5:17) says, or do not. Anyone that would argue this point does not believe the above Scripture.
If a Christian is "a new creation" he or she is a new person. The old person that you were before has died and you have been "born again" (John 3:3, 7; 1Pet 1:23); as it is written:
"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." -1 Peter 1:22-23
Therefore, a man may marry a woman that was divorced prior to her conversion because he is not marrying the divorced woman, but rather, he is marrying the "new creation" -the new person.
However, let's get one thing straight right off the bat:
II. GOD HATES DIVORCE
"For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, "For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “ Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."" -Malachi 2:16
Divorce is violent because it rips flesh apart, and God hates violent people (Psalm 11:5). It rips flesh apart because when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman they are joined as one flesh (Gen 2:24; Mark 10:8; 1Cor 6:16) and when a divorce (or separation) takes place they are violently torn in two. Though the violence is unseen and spiritual, it is still violence.
Divorce is treacherous because it is the breaking of a contract (a lie) and "all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev 21:8) unless they repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Rev 2:5, 22). In fact, treacherous people are disgusting to God (Psalm 119:158).
III. DIVORCE MAY LEAD TO OTHER SIN
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." -Mark 10:11-12
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery." -Luke 16:18
In fact, when His disciples heard how strictly Jesus dealt with divorce they exclaimed, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10).
After His disciples made this statement Jesus agreed saying, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (Matt 19:11-12).
IV. DIVORCE ENDS MARRIAGE
Many people claim that divorce does not actually end marriage due to the fact that "whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18). Though this is true, divorce nevertheless does put an end to marriage. As Jesus said, "what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6).
Though man should not separate the one flesh that has been joined, if he does it is indeed separated and the marriage is terminated. Jesus did NOT say, "what God has joined together, man CANNOT separate." -Absolutely not! Jesus said, "What God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6).
There are two very important Scriptures in the New Testament that solidify the fact that divorce does, in fact, terminate a marriage:
1. The first of these two proofs that divorce ends a marriage is in 1 Corinthians; as it is written:
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife." -1 Corinthians 7:10-11
NOTICE: If a woman departs from her husband she is to remain "UNMARRIED" - or, in other words, "NOT MARRIED." The Greek word that is used in 1Cor 7:11 for "unmarried" is "agamos," which is the same word that the Apostle Paul uses in 1Cor 7:8-9, 1Cor 7:32-33 and 1Cor 7:34 for people that have never been married; as it is written:
"But I say to the unmarried (Greek: "agamos") and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." -1 Corinthians 7:8-9
"But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried (Greek: "agamos") cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife." -1 Corinthians 7:32-33
"There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried (Greek: "agamos") woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband." -1 Corinthians 7:34
When the Apostle says that a woman must remain "unmarried," he means what he says. She is divorced and is NOT married. Therefore, divorce does indeed terminate and completely end a marriage.
2. Jesus' conversation with the woman at Jacob's well in Samaria is another proof that divorce ends marriage; as it is written:
"Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." -John 4:16-18
The woman at the well was previously married to five different men. We are forced to assume two reasonable things here: One (1), she was not married to all five men at the same time, but rather to one husband at a time; and two (2), we must also assume that she was divorced because it would be extremely strange if all five of her previous husbands had died -And, the text says nothing about her being a widow.
Though this woman was previously married five times, she currently had "no husband." She was no longer united to the flesh of any other man because divorce ends, separates, terminates, and rips apart the flesh-union of marriage. Jesus confirms that she currently has "no husband," telling her that she has "well said," and "spoke truly."
There are two things that form a marriage:
1. A contract, vow, or agreement of marriage between the man, the woman, and God (Genesis 2:23), and...
2. Sexual consummation, which unites the flesh, making the two one (Genesis 2:24).
There are also two things that end a marriage:
1. Death (Rom 7:2; 1Cor 7:39).
2. Divorce (1Cor 7:10-11).
Indeed, a divorced woman is "unmarried" (1Cor 7:11) and has "no husband" (John 4:16-18). Why? -Because divorce ends marriage.
There are some, however, that argue that since adultery may occur after a divorce, a marriage is still in effect even after a divorce has taken place. This is incorrect.
The woman at the well was married and divorced five times and yet had "no husband," and though it is true that a man who takes her as a wife commits adultery (Luke 16:18), it is not because she is still married to one of her ex-husbands. Why is it adultery? -The Lord does not say. Nevertheless, it is adultery even though she is NOT currently married.
Remember that the Scripture calls even those that make "friendship with the world" adulterers and adulteresses; as it is written:
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." -James 4:4
V. THE FIRST EXCEPTION ALLOWING A CHRISTIAN TO DIVORCE
Despite the fact that God hates divorce (Mal 2:16), He has made provision for lawful divorce in the New Covenant. One of these provisions is given to us in what people have termed Jesus' "exception clause"; as it is written:
"But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery." -Matthew 5:32
"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 19:9
The only means for a lawful divorce in the New Testament is when a wife commits sexual immorality. A man must realize that (1.) if a man divorces a wife for any other reason than sexual immorality he has committed a grievous sin, and (2.) if a man divorces a wife for any reason other than sexual immorality he is not permitted to marry again -If he does, he commits adultery.
Added to that sin, as it states in Matthew 5:32, " . . . whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery . . ." If a man divorces his wife for some reason other than sexual immorality he CAUSES her to commit adultery.
Regardless of these things, it is clear in these verses that a man is permitted to divorce his wife if she has committed sexual immorality, but for no other reason.
VI. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN MAN DIVORCE AN ADULTEROUS WIFE?
Some people agree that a man "may" divorce his wife in cases of sexual immorality, but argue that he really shouldn't. Instead, they say, the man should forgive his wife and continue in the marriage if she repents.
While it is true that a man should (and indeed must -Matt 6:15) forgive his wife if she commits sexual immorality, it is actually disgusting (Psalm 119:158) and an abomination (Deut 24:4) to take her back as his wife after she has had sexual intercourse with another man.
Just because a man does not take an adulteress back to be his wife after she has committed sexual immorality against him does not mean that he is not forgiving her of her adultery. To claim that he is not forgiving her would be unjustly judging him (John 7:24).
I have forgiven thieves for stealing from me while they were working for me, but I do not plan on hiring them back again at some point in the future! -So, what? -Because I do not want to employ them any longer means that I have not forgiven them? -Absolutely not! To say such would be absolutely ridiculous.
Though a man must forgive his wife of her adultery, I argue that a man should NOT take his wife back if she has committed sexual immorality against him. Below are several reasons why:
1. God considers taking a "defiled" wife back to himself an abomination, as it is written:
"... her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance." -Deuteronomy 24:4
A woman that has committed sexual immorality against her husband is most certainly a "defiled" woman.
2. The adulterous wife has now become joined as "one flesh" with the man she committed adultery with, as it is written:
"Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”" -1 Corinthians 6:16
A Christian man should be absolutely repulsed and disgusted with even the thought of mingling his flesh in their unholy union.
3. Under the Law of Moses an adulteress wife would have simply been put to death, as it is written:
"The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death." -Leviticus 20:10
Under these conditions a man would not even be given the chance to take her back as his wife.
4. The land where men take back adulteress wives will become "greatly polluted":
"“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the LORD." -Jeremiah 3:1
Some may then ask (because of the above Scripture), "God accepted Israel back as His "wife" after she committed adultery, why shouldn't we?" -Because God is altogether different than mankind. Look at the above Scripture again. It directly claims that "the land [would be] greatly polluted" if a man accepted an adulterous wife back, but that God is different -He CAN accept adulterous Israel back. That is the whole point of the verse -showing the difference between an man and his wife and God.
Some may argue with me and say that a husband, regardless of all of these things, should still take an adulteress wife back. They claim that men must not divorce their wives for any reason, and that divorce is never "OK with God." They are flat wrong.
Divorce in the case of sexual immorality, or adultery, on the woman's part is not only "OK with God" it is the golden exception (Matt 5:32, 19:9). A man is not only allowed to divorce his wife in the case of adultery, but in most cases is commanded to; as it is written:
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" -2 Corinthians 6:14-15
An adulteress wife is most likely an unbeliever (regardless of what she may claim -Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 2:4); and by her act of adultery has clearly "departed" from her husband (1 Cor 7:15), "gone astray to uncleanness while under her husband's authority" (Num 5:19), has "become a curse" (Num 5:27), and, if she were living in Israel during the time of the Old Covenant she would have been stoned to death (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:21) along with the man she committed adultery with (Lev 20:10).
VII. THE SECOND EXCEPTION FOR A CHRISTIAN DIVORCE
Christian men and women have the right to divorce an UNBELIEVING husband or wife at any time. However, the Apostle Paul gives us his advice:
"But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" -1 Corinthians 7:12-16
Why does Paul here give his advice that, in the specific case where the unbelieving spouse is willing to live in peace with the believer, the believer should remain married? -Because Christians may divorce an unbeliever if they wish.
Notice: Paul says, "to the rest I, not the Lord, say . . ." (1Cor 7:12). Paul is here telling the Church how to deal with members of their congregation that have unbelieving spouses.
Why does Paul give his advice to remain married to an unbeliever if they are willing to live with them? -There can only be one reason: Because the Christian is permitted to divorce under these circumstances if they choose to.
Moreover, a Christian that chooses to divorce their unbelieving spouse is free to remarry; as Paul states above, "a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases" (1Cor 7:15b).
Why is divorce permitted in the case of an unbelieving spouse? -Because it is not really divorce, but rather it is death. How is it death? -Because unbelievers are "dead in trespasses and sins" (see Ephesians 2:1, 2:5; Colossians 2:13), though while they are married to a believer they are "sanctified" and quite alive (1Cor 7:14), the moment a separation occurs, they are considered dead in the eyes of God. This is also why the believing spouse is "not under [the] bondage" of marriage any longer and is free to marry after a divorce from an unbeliever.
Note: The Greek word for "bondage" (Strong's # 1402) in 1 Corinthians 7:15 is "dedoulotai", which is relative to the Greek word "dedetai" (Strong's # 1210) in Romans 7:2 ("the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives") and in 1 Corinthians 7:39 ("A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives"). The Christian man or woman that divorces an unbeliever is not "bound" or "under bondage" to an unbelieving spouse after a divorce has taken place.
Now, with all that said, a Christian must understand that Paul the Apostle is here urging Christians to REMAIN married even though their spouse is an unbeliever unless THEY depart. Nevertheless, this urging is Paul's plea, not a commandment from the Lord. However, it is not as if Paul's plea should be treated as weightless. I believe that the King James Version of the Bible translates this best:
"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: 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." -1 Corinthians 7:12-13 (KJV)
What is Paul's point? -If the unbelieving spouse has no problem being married to a Christian and will allow the Christian to practice their faith unhindered, the Christian should not divorce the unbeliever. However, if the unbeliever has big problems living with their Christian spouse and begins to hinder the Christian's practice of faith, the Christian may consider divorce. -But again, all of this is Paul's advice, not the Lord's commandment. Paul is giving his advice to remain married to unbelievers because Christians are free to divorce unbelievers if they wish to (1Cor 7:12). We should heed his advice.
Now let us move to some commandments from the Lord Himself on this same topic. While a man or woman may divorce their unbelieving spouse if they choose, a Christian must remember the following if they plan to remain married to their unbelieving spouse:
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, 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
Unlike the small portion of 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 which is Paul's advice and NOT the command of the Lord (1Cor 7:12), here in 1 Peter 3, The Apostle Peter IS giving the command of the Lord. Therefore, when applied to a situation where a Christian woman is married to an unbeliever we must conclude that though the Christian woman's husband is an unbeliever she must still be subject to him (1Cor 11:3), respect him (Eph 5:33), and obey him as if he were a believer (Eph 5:22) unless he commands her to do what is forbidden by the Lord (Acts 5:29).
Likewise, for husbands it is also written:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" -Ephesians 5:25
"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." -1 Peter 3:7
Men must obey these commands (and others like them) whether their wives are believers or not.
VIII. MEN AND WOMEN ARE TREATED DIFFERENTLY
There are several places throughout Scripture where men are treated differently than women. Here are a few:
a) Women are not permitted to divorce their husbands for sexual immorality:
Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 permit MEN to divorce their wives in the case of sexual immorality. However, these two Scriptures do not permit a WOMAN to divorce her husband in cases of sexual immorality.
In addition to this fact, a divorced woman that remarries commits adultery, as does the man that marries her; as it is written:
"For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man." -Romans 7:2-3
". . . and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery". -Matthew 5:32c
". . . and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." -Matthew 19:9c
b) Men may marry again after a lawful divorce, women may not:
A divorced MAN, on the other hand, is free to marry another woman (unless he divorced his wife on unbiblical grounds -Matt 19:9).
One thing to consider, however, is that if a man does not repent of his sin of adultery or sexual immorality, he is an unbeliever, in which case a wife would be permitted to divorce him (see the section of this article entitled "The Second Exception Allowing a Christian to Divorce").
So, as for a woman, it is written:
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife." -1 Corinthians 7:10-11
If a woman departs from her husband she must remain unmarried for the rest of her husband's life, or be reconciled to her former husband (remarried), but no such command is given for a man.
The only time a man is not permitted to remarry after a divorce is if he divorced his wife for unbiblical reasons, as it is written:
"whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery" -Matthew 19:9b
However, if a man divorced his wife for sexual immorality (or if the wife divorced the man for any reason) he is free to remarry afterward. A woman is not free to remarry. She must remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband for "whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matt 5:32).
Even if a Christian man divorces his Christian wife on unbiblical grounds, she is NOT permitted to remarry (nor is he). Of course, that husband has committed a grievous sin, but nonetheless, she is NOT free to remarry. She must "remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband" (1Cor 7:10).
IX. A TWISTED VIEW DISPUTED
There are some that claim that Jesus' exception clause of "fornication" (Greek: "porneia") only applies to the betrothal, or engagement, period BEFORE actual marriage (i.e. before the bride and groom have had sexual intercourse).
In other words, since the specific words "fornication" or "sexual immorality" are used in Jesus' exception clauses (Matt 5:32 & 19:9) and the specific word "adultery" is not used, some claim that Jesus' exception only applies to the betrothal or engagement period.
They claim this is true because if the couple were married the woman would not be committing "fornication" or "sexual immorality", but, rather, she would be committing "adultery".
The Greek word for "adultery" is "moicheuó" (Strong's # 3431), and the Greek word for "fornication" or "sexual immorality" is "porneia" (Strong's # 4202).
This argument would be quite convincing if it were not for the fact that the word porneia is used in two other New Testament phrases referring specifically to the unfaithfulness of the married:
1. In 1 Corinthians 5:1 porneia is specifically said to have been committed with another man’s “wife”; and
2. 1 Corinthians 10:8 refers to 23,000 Israelites committing porneia ("fornication" -KJV) and it would be quite absurd to assume that all of them were single.
In essence, the Bible speaks about sexual immorality, fornication, and adultery all being the same thing. End of argument (2Cor 10:5; 2Tim 2:14).
X. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN WOMAN DIVORCE HER CURRENT (REMARRIED) HUSBAND?
A Christian woman who has divorced a previous husband and has been remarried to another man must repent of her adultery, but must NOT divorce her current husband; as it is written:
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband." -1 Corinthians 7:10
Her previous marriage was terminated. Her new marriage stands. She must not depart from her husband. Since her new husband IS her husband, she must not depart from him (1Cor 7:10).
Some may attempt to argue that a woman's remarriage is actually no marriage at all. They claim that since the new marriage is a sin of adultery, God does not count her new marriage as even being a marriage. -This is not true. God DOES count her new marriage as a REAL marriage, just as He did with the Samaritan woman He met at Jacob's Well. Jesus said to that woman, "for you have had five husbands..." (John 4:18a), proving that God counted each new remarriage (even though it was a sin of adultery) as a REAL marriage which needed to be honored as a real marriage.
Truly, when Christians become bound in wedlock here on earth, they are also bound in wedlock in Heaven, and when a Christian looses a marriage through divorce, that marriage is loosed through divorce in Heaven; as it is written:
"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." -Jesus (Matthew 18:18)
Someone who argues what I write here would do well to contemplate that no commandment for a remarried woman to divorce her new husband exists. Therefore, teaching people that a remarried woman must divorce a new husband is "Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9) and adding to the Word of God (Proverbs 30:6).
"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." -Matthew 19:6
To those women who may be remarried I say, repent of your adultery and sexual immorality, remain in your current marriage, and be faithful and obedient (Ephesians 5:22) to your current husband. As it is written:
"A wife is not to depart from her husband." -1 Corinthians 7:10c
XI. QUESTIONS ASKED BY WOMEN:
"I was saved when I was a young girl. I got married when I was 20 years old, and then divorced at 24 years old. I then married my current husband when I was 28 years old. Does God want me to divorce my current husband and go back to my former husband? What would God want me to do?"
Absolutely not. In fact, going back to your previous husband after you have defiled yourself with another man is an abomination in the sight of God (Deuteronomy 24:4). You cannot unscramble an egg, and you cannot correct one sin by committing another one. You must repent of your adultery and sexual immorality, remain in your current marriage, and be faithful and obedient (Ephesians 5:22) to your current husband. You say that you were saved when you were a young girl, but your actions speak otherwise (Titus 1:16; 1 John 2:4; Hebrews 10:26-31). Be careful that you do not deceive yourself into believing that you were saved when, in fact, you may not have been. People do not become Christians by praying some prayer one time. The evidence that a person is truly saved is obedience to the commandments of Christ (1 John 2:3), the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and perseverance in Christ until death (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13).
"My current husband is my second husband. Since I divorced my first husband unbiblically, does God consider my current marriage to be living in sin? If it is, should I get a divorce?"
Your current marriage was indeed a sin. You are an adulteress, and your current husband is an adulterer. You must repent of your wickedness. If God accepts your repentance, then you are forgiven and are no longer an adulteress. You must not get a divorce. A new sin will not correct a previous sin. You must now remain in your current marriage and be faithful and obedient (Ephesians 5:22) to your current husband.
"My husband and I are both Christians. He started drinking heavily and being verbally abusive. Am I permitted to divorce him?"
First of all, if what you say is true, your husband is not a Christian. It is written: "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person" (1Corinthians 5:11). Your husband is a drunkard and possibly a reviler (depending upon his "verbal abuse"). The Apostle Paul's advice is to remain married (1Corinthians 7:12-16) if your husband is willing to live with you peaceably (1Corinthians 7:15b). The Apostle Peter also gives a commandment of the Lord when he writes: "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1Peter 3:1-2). Therefore, you should strive to remain married unless and until your husband decides that he does not wish to dwell with you any longer. At that time you would be able to file divorce papers if you so desired, for you would no longer be under the bondage of marriage (1Corinthians 7:15) -Also, see section VII of this article.
"I caught my husband viewing pornography on the computer and I know it isn't the first time he's done that. It makes me so sick that I don't think I can live with him anymore. Am I Biblically allowed to divorce him?"
No. The Bible does not give a woman the right to divorce her husband for sexual immorality or adultery. However, if your husband does not repent and cease his wickedness, as every Christian who stumbles in sin should, it will be obvious that he is not a Christian. If it is proven that he is not a Christian by the fact that he does not continue in the commandments of Christ (1 John 2:4), than you may deal with him according to section VII of this article.
XII. QUESTIONS ASKED BY MEN:
My wife and I are both Christians. Due to her own guilty conscience, my wife recently admitted to me that she had gone on a lunch date with a man that she knows from her work. She did not have sex with the man, but they did kiss. Am I allowed to divorce her for this?
Yes, you may divorce her if you wish. Your wife has committed an act of sexual immorality, and you are permitted to divorce her (Matthew 5:32; 19:9) for that act. However, since it is partially your fault that she has committed this act, because you allow your wife to work outside of the home (Christian wives are commanded to be homemakers -Titus 2:5), and since she has not completely defiled herself by sexual intercourse with another man, you should strive to remain married as long as she is willing to repent of her wickedness and become a good homemaking, faithful, Christian wife. If your wife refuses to become a homemaker and insists on working outside of the home she is not a Christian, because a Christian wife is commanded to obey her husband as if he were the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Ephesians 5:22). If she proves not to be a Christian by her disobedience to you and the Word of God (1John 2:4), than you may deal with her according to section VII of this article.
"Five years ago, my wife and I were pretty normal Christians. Then four years ago I decided to leave my career and go into the missions field. My wife did not agree, but I felt led to continue my decision to become an evangelist. Eventually, when it came to the point where I decided to leave for South America, my wife refused to leave with me. Now she has sent divorce papers and expects my signature. Was I right in leaving her behind to pursue the mission field? Is it okay to sign the divorce papers?"
Yes, and yes. Your wife is not a Christian. If she were a Christian she would realize that you are her head (1Corinthians 11:3), and that refusing to follow you in righteousness is the same to God as her refusing to serve the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:22). She is an unbeliever who chose to disobey and leave you. Therefore, let her leave (1Corinthians 7:15). As far as you are concerned: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29).
"I have asked my wife several times to dress more modestly, but she keeps wearing clothing that I think is too revealing. She says I'm to strict about the way I want her to dress. I don't like her wearing jeans or skirts that reveal her legs, so I guess I'm a little strict according to the "world." What can I do to get my wife to understand my view of modesty?"
It is not necessary that your wife "understand" your view on modesty. It is necessary, however, that she obey you and wear what you tell her to wear (Ephesians 5:22). A husband is well within his God given authority to regulate his wife's apparel. If she will not obey you it simply reveals the fact that she is an unbeliever (1 John 2:4), at which point you may deal with her according to section VII of this article.
If you have any specific questions that you feel were not answered by this article please feel free to write with your questions and we will do all that God gives us to answer according to God's Word.