Infidelity and Christian Divorce
There are verses in the Bible that seem to say, irrefutably, that the only reason for divorce is infidelity. But my Christian mom, who was married to my Christian dad for 63 years, both always said, “There are a lot of ways to be unfaithful.” I agree with that.
- Adultery is infidelity on a sexual level.
- Abuse is infidelity on a physical, mental and emotional level.
- Addiction is infidelity that creates personal and family chaos and destruction.
And there are infinitely more ways that one partner can destroy a marriage relationship. Lack of physical intimacy. Lack of real communication. Not respecting and valuing his or her partner.
Institutional churches seem to focus primarily on sexual infidelity to determine if a divorce is what they call “permissible” or not. if a Christian marriage is not working because of other problems, it is often not considered an acceptable reason for divorce.
Things are changing a bit within the Church. I believe they should.
Divorce & The Bible
In my own experience, people can use the Bible to bolster either side of any argument. All of us can find Bible verses that make “our side” of the Christian divorce conversation seem right.
The New Testament tells a women to respect her husband. A husband is commanded to love and care for his wife like he loves and cares for his own body. They are each encouraged to leave their parents and “cleave” to their spouse and be faithful to each other.
The Bible also demands sexual fidelity and fulfillment within marriage. In the Old Testament, men often had many wives. Men were also allowed to “put aside” (ie. divorce) their wives for almost anything. However, if they did so, they were required to give her a “Certificate of Divorce,” so that she could remarry. If she did not have that protective document, she could not remarry, had no means of financial support and would often be destitute.
Realizing that there are many interpretations of the very same verses in the Bible, here’s what I believe: God’s perfect plan is that marriage is a place where two people are stronger and better and more fulfilled together than they are apart. And that marriage lasts last until one partner dies.
But we are all fallible creatures. We are not perfect, and even Christian marriages end in divorce. But I do not believe that divorce is the “unforgivable sin,” and that if we divorce, we are destined to live a life of loneliness and guilt until we die. I believe we can still fully participate in the life of the Church even if we are divorced and remarried.
The glory and beauty about Christianity is that we always have a chance to start fresh with a clean slate, and God covers us with his forgiveness and grace, continually. That is an awesome reality!
The question of the acceptability or validity of Christian divorce has strong opinions on both sides of the question. We do not have the space or time to thoroughly discuss all parts of the various viewpoints in this blog. But there are several books that have helped me look at Christian divorce in a more clear, and I think, Biblical, way.
Christian Divorce Recovery Books
During my divorce, I read dozens and dozens of divorce recovery books on divorce in general, and many on Christian divorce. Below are three books that are very helpful if you’re a Christian going through divorce looking for Christian divorce recovery help.
These books are all published by Leafwood Publishers located in Abilene, Texas. Leafwood is a subsidiary of ACU Press, an accredited University publisher which means that they meet certain academic and scholastic requirements.
Below are three “must read” Christian divorce recovery books :