3 Reasons for Divorce in the Bible: The Ending of Vows

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Have you ever been curious about the optional reasons for divorce in the Bible? You’ve probably wondered if it’s true that you are in it till death do you part, even though common dictates demand that you leave. 

Worry no more by reading this article.

But for starters, know that God hates divorce (Mal 2:16). Yet that does not mean he can’t entertain it, of course, with valid reasons.

When he created the Garden of Eden and its occupants, Adam and Eve, he intended them to remain together as man and wife for eternity and serve as an example for later generations.

However, shit happened, and things did not go as planned.

Two broken hearts

Later in the Law of Moses, we learn of a certificate of divorce for the first time.

Deut 24:1 [NASB]

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, that he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her away from his house”

In light of the above, let me walk you through the three major reasons for divorce in the Bible that can eventually end your marital vows. Let’s uncover the guidance that the Scriptures offer on this sensitive topic.

1. Adultery as a Reason for Divorce in the Bible

Adultery has been a thorn in the flesh for generations. In the early days, the Bible only cautioned people not to commit adultery. 

After that, there is mention of people set to commit adultery with foreign gods when Moses is about to die in Deut 31:6- (Here idolatry and adultery are bedfellows)

The Lord said to Moses, “You are about to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon commit adultery with the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will abandon Me and break the covenant I have made with them.

Therefore, those who commit adultery are similarly breaking the marriage covenant. But why does adultery happen?

Reasons for Adultery

Here is a snippet of what drives men to get embroiled in this sinful act:

  • Desire to explore
  • Sexual dissatisfaction 
  • Looking to boost one’s ego

Nevertheless, the outcome is guilt for the offender, grief for the partner offended, and loss of respect and self-esteem.

Likewise, it brings emotional and psychological trauma with short and long-term effects.

Obviously, the Bible does not condone these. As a result, one of the foremost and best-known reasons for divorce in the Bible is infidelity, which is emphatically a betrayal of trust and a breaking of the marriage covenant.

The act of adultery, breaking the sacred bond of marital fidelity, is a grave offense in the eyes of God. 

The Book of Matthew (5:32) clearly states, 

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus’ teaching is based on the premise of two people joining in wedlock to form one body. 

He reiterates it in Matthew 19:5–6, thus:

“[Haven’t you read] 5 and he also said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Engaging in adulterous acts amounts to separating what God has joined. 

So, here is an affirmation from none other than the great teacher that adultery is a solid ground for divorce.

Balanced against this, the Old Testament has a rigid stance where adultery is a no-no. It advocates punishment by stoning to death (LEV 20:10)

2. Abandonment: Deserting the Covenant

Mark marries Sue in a grand wedding, and after a few years together, he travels to work at a different station far from home. 

For the first few months, he communicates occasionally but eventually ceases all communication. 

This amounts to abandonment, which happens all the time. 

Take the case of our neighbor, who traveled abroad similarly, leaving his young family behind. 

Ten years later, he hasn’t been in contact with anyone or spotted anywhere yet (not even on social media).

While he may have remarried or even died, it passes as a clear case of abandonment, which explicitly gives his wife leeway for divorce. 

Luckily for him, the wife clings to the hope that one day, her husband will return.

Genesis 2:24 states:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.

By leaving your parents to cling to your wife, you start a new life. When you now leave your union, it becomes a good reason for divorce in the Bible

Further, 1 Corinthians 7:15 states, 

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 

This verse highlights the principle that if a spouse leaves the marriage and abandons their partner, the abandoned spouse is not bound to continue in the marriage.

You become an unbeliever after you break the union of one flesh. In the meantime, it gives the partner left behind sufficient grounds for divorce.

3. Abuse: A Valid Reason for Divorce 

This is an often overlooked reason for divorce in the Bible. Indeed, it is a contentious reason, with some holding that you marry for better or worse. What BS! 

As much as you may wish for paradise, people in marriage go through various forms of abuse. Sooner or later, spousal abuse could assume different faces, like

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Verbal
  • Emotional

Surprisingly, this gender-based violence could amount to criminal acts as well.

What’s more, this violence happens even in the homes of pastors, the gatekeepers of morality. 

Though God hates divorce, he certainly does not condone domestic violence.

Therefore, divorce on this ground [abuse] is morally justified. 

A man or even a woman who is abusive breaks the marriage covenant; instead, they should love each other just as Jesus loved the church.

In a word, the Bible addresses ‌abuse as a valid reason for divorce. 

While it does not mention the word “abuse” explicitly, the broad message of love, respect, and care within marriage is clear. 

Ephesians 5:25 reminds husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, emphasizing sacrificial love and protection. 

In cases of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, one may see divorce as a necessary step to protect their vulnerability and that of any children involved.

FAQs About Divorce in the Bible

Q: What grounds does the Bible allow for divorce?

A: The Bible emphasizes the sanctity of marriage and encourages reconciliation. However, it recognizes specific circumstances, such as infidelity, abandonment, and abuse, where divorce may be a permissible option.

Q: How does forgiveness fit into the discussion of divorce?

A: Christian teachings place a strong emphasis on forgiveness. While some instances call for divorce as an option, reconciliation and forgiveness may be an alternative option. Spiritual counsel can offer insight on approaching forgiveness and healing, as each circumstance is unique.

Q: Is remarriage allowed after divorce in the Bible?

A: The Bible addresses remarriage after divorce, particularly where divorce was based on biblical grounds such as infidelity or abandonment. However, it advises caution and discernment in remarriage, emphasizing the importance of honoring commitments and seeking God’s guidance.

Final Thoughts on Reasons for Divorce in the Bible

In summary, the Bible acknowledges that divorce is a complex and deeply personal matter. 

While it upholds the sanctity of marriage and encourages reconciliation, ‌it also recognizes the reality of human frailty and the need for compassion and understanding in difficult circumstances. 

By exploring these three reasons for divorce in the Bible and addressing common questions, we gain insights into the principles of love, forgiveness, and justice that guide our relationships and decisions.

Remember, these biblical teachings serve as a source of guidance and wisdom, but every situation is unique, and seeking pastoral or professional counseling is often advisable when facing marital challenges. 

Would you like to contribute to aspects of the reasons for divorce in the Bible or have further questions? Reach out in the comments, and let’s explore together.


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