As common as divorce has become nowadays, more and more Christians are asking questions such as: My spouse cheated on me, so can I get a divorce? What about what the Bible says about divorce? Christians should know what God wants from us and what paths should be taken before deciding on divorce.
Dear Jim: Is a thought of adultery sufficient for a divorce?
Questions relating to divorce continue to flood my email “In” folder. Since there are so many divorces today, for perhaps all types of reasons, it leaves well-intended Christians searching for reason and a way.
Some common questions received are:
1. If I remarry, will I be committing adultery?
2. My spouse left me years ago emotionally and physically, am I able to divorce and marry again?
3. I married someone who was divorced and now we are divorced. If I married the former spouse under the conditions of adultery, is not that divorce nullified? Am I released to marry again?
4. This week, I received a new approach relating to this topic. The former spouse was addicted to pornography. The question is whether or not this was adultery and was the other spouse released to divorce and marry again.
Does a thought process justify divorce?
I would like to share some additional thoughts relating to the 4th question above, as this is a new ‘discovery’ to me and I invite your consideration of the following:
Matthew 5:32 states that one can only be ‘put away’ for the act of fornication (intercourse outside of marriage). Matthew 5:32 ‘but I say unto you, that every one that puts away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away commits adultery’.
Please note that it does NOT say that they MUST ‘put away’ the person who does this act – it is an option. I add that the ‘put away’ should only occur after long attempts of reconciliation AND upon the prompting of God – not one’s internal desires.
Proverbs 23:7 states, ‘For as he thinks within himself, so he is.’ Another scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 5:28 ‘but I say unto you, that every one that looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’.
Before we ‘rush’ to any action, let us add one more verse. Ecclesiastes 7:20 ‘Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sins not’. Sin is ever present in each of our lives. Remember that you are a sinner too – saved by His grace! IF action were taken on every sin in each spouse, there would NEVER be a marriage to succeed. Extend the grace that you have so generously received from God to your spouse and let God do the work in their life.
What do I gather from the collection of these verses and I believe the overall basis of God’s Word?
1. Our thoughts are a powerful force. Be very careful what you dwell on.
2. IF your spouse (former spouse) was addicted to pornography, often verbally discussed with you or (confirmed) with others the sexual act with another person, or you found writings confirming such thoughts, you MAY have Biblical grounds for a divorce.
3. However, divorce is NEVER God’s first choice!
4. It is true that God will forgive us of any sin if we confess (1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’.) However, His forgiveness does NOT remove the consequences of the divorce. IF you think that there are not consequences to a divorce in your life, you are living in denial!
IF this thought process is present in your spouse, consider the following suggestions:
a. Confront them in love but with firm conviction.
b. If they deny this, but you see evidence that it is still happening within them, seek the counsel of your Pastor or a Christian counsellor. EVEN if your spouse will not go to the counsellor, you should go ahead.
c. Move slowly toward any action of divorce. God has used the ‘faithful’ spouse over and over to bring the wayward one to repentance. Remember that love is not feelings – but a commitment and acting out of love in that commitment.
d. Pray, asking God to protect, guide and sustain you as you undergo this journey.
e. Do not place yourself or your children under any physical threat in doing this action. If you are concerned for safety, seek help from your Pastor or legal authorities.
f. If after an extended period (years I suggest for most) this does not correct itself, then you can begin to seek God’s guidance in what you should do with the marriage. ONLY be led by His Spirit and do not allow personal feelings to take the lead.
This is NOT an easy path – much of life is not. Relationships are always work in one area of another. While you may ‘feel’ justified in taking divorce action, it is my prayer that you will seek God’s guidance before you do so.
May God guide you to wise choices in your journey.