A photograph capturing a serene, open Bible with a highlighted verse on divorce, surrounded by a soft glow, symbolizing God's guidance and wisdom on the subject.

What Does God Say About Divorce?

Divorce is an emotionally painful experience that many go through. If you’re a Christian wondering what God says about divorce, you likely want to make the right decision according to your faith.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: God discourages divorce, pointing to marriage as a lifelong covenant. However, God allows divorce in certain situations due to the hardness of human hearts.

God’s Ideal for Marriage

Marriage as a Lifelong Covenant

According to the Bible, God designed marriage to be a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). God views marriage as sacred and intends for it to last until death parts the husband and wife. Several passages in Scripture reveal that God established marriage to be permanent.

For instance, in Malachi 2:16, God says He hates divorce. This indicates that divorce opposes His perfect will. Similarly, in Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus reiterates Genesis 2:24, affirming God’s intent for marriage to be lifelong and monogamous.

He explains that husband and wife are joined together by God and emphasizes that humans should not separate what God has joined.

God desires married couples to remain committed to one another throughout their earthly lives. His ideal for marriage is an unbroken, loving relationship that reflects Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). However, because of sin, separations and divorce still occur.

Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce

In Matthew 19, Jesus clarifies God’s will regarding divorce. When asked if divorce is permissible, Jesus points back to God’s original design for marriage and affirms that husband and wife are intended to remain unified (Matthew 19:4-6).

However, Jesus acknowledges that sinful hearts sometimes lead to separation.

Due to hardness of hearts, Moses permitted divorce according to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (Matthew 19:8). Yet, this allowance was not meant to excuse unnecessary divorce. Jesus emphasizes that divorcing and remarrying improperly constitutes adultery, except in cases of sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9).

Jesus’ teaching shows that God’s ideal is reconciliation and forgiveness between husband and wife. However, in certain situations where reconciliation is not possible due to continued unrepentant sin, divorce may be permitted.

Yet, even when divorce occurs, God redeems and restores those who humbly seek His wisdom and grace.

Valid Reasons for Divorce

Adultery or Sexual Immorality

Jesus clearly states in Matthew 19:9 that divorce is permitted in cases of adultery or sexual immorality: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

This gives the betrayed spouse biblical grounds for divorce if their partner has been unfaithful. Statistics show that adultery is one of the leading causes of divorce, occurring in about 30-40% of marriages.[1] Though devastating, God allows the wounded spouse freedom to leave the marriage if unable to forgive.

Abandonment by an Unbelieving Spouse

Another biblical allowance for divorce is if an unbelieving spouse abandons a believing spouse, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:15: “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.”

This indicates that a follower of Christ can divorce if their unbelieving spouse chooses to leave them. Studies reveal over 16% of divorces happen when one spouse abandons the other.[2] Though heartbreaking, the Lord releases Christians from marriage bonds if forsaken by an unbelieving husband or wife.

God understands divorce causes deep wounds. He longs to comfort, heal, and redeem lives touched by it. Though permitting divorce in cases of immorality or abandonment, Scripture shows God designed marriage to reflect Christ’s love for humanity (Ephesians 5).

Believers considering divorce should seek much prayer and counsel as they make weighty decisions about reconciling or releasing a covenant relationship.

Healing and Moving Forward After Divorce

Seeking God’s Forgiveness and Guidance

Going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult and emotional time. Even when ending a marriage is the best decision, it often involves feelings of grief, anger, and regret. As Christians, we can find comfort and hope by seeking God’s forgiveness and asking for His guidance during this season.

Here are some ways to move forward after divorce:

  • Pray and ask God for forgiveness if you have sinned or made mistakes in your marriage. God is gracious and will forgive a repentant heart (1 John 1:9).
  • Spend time reading encouraging Bible verses about God’s love and faithfulness, like Psalm 147:3 and Isaiah 41:10. Meditating on Scripture will bring inner healing.
  • Join a divorce recovery group at your church. Sharing your story with others experiencing the same pain can help bring perspective and support.
  • Consider counseling with your pastor or a Christian therapist to work through unresolved issues and gain wisdom for the future.
  • Ask God each day to meet your needs and give you the strength to take the next step. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Though divorce is rarely desired, God can still redeem the pain and bring blessings from the ashes of a broken marriage. Focus on His truths and grace each day.

Learning from the Past

It’s easy after a divorce to beat yourself up about perceived mistakes and failures in your previous marriage. While self-reflection has value, dwelling on the past can be unproductive. Instead, shift your focus to learning important lessons that will benefit your future.

Here are positive ways to reflect on your former marriage:

  • Identify behaviors or communication patterns that contributed to problems, so you can avoid repeating them.
  • List areas where you could have compromised more or shown greater empathy.
  • Consider how the experience has helped you better understand your needs in a relationship.
  • Examine ways you may have enabled destructive behaviors and reflect on healthier boundaries.
  • Think through warning signs you may have overlooked early in the relationship.
  • Focus on the insights you have gained about yourself through the challenges.

The goal is not to beat yourself up over the past. It’s to grow in wisdom so you can build healthier relationships moving forward. God can use even painful experiences for your good (Romans 8:28).

Embracing a New Beginning

Endings are always hard, but they eventually give way to new beginnings. After a divorce, it’s normal to need time to grieve the loss of your hopes and dreams for that relationship. But don’t stay stuck in the past. Here are some tips for eventually embracing a fresh start:

  • Make self-care a priority – get exercise, eat healthy foods and set aside time for activities you enjoy.
  • Spend quality time with supportive family and friends who uplift you.
  • Consider trying a new hobby that sparks your interest or passion.
  • Set goals for your future in terms of personal growth, relationships, career, health, etc.
  • When you’re ready, step out in faith to pursue new social connections and interests.
  • Remember your identity is found in Christ, not your marital status. Let Him define you.

Don’t rush the process, but look ahead with hopeful expectation. God promises beauty from ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a future filled with hope (Isaiah 61:3). Embrace His vision for your life.


In summary, God designed marriage to be a lifelong union between a man and woman. Though divorce grieves God’s heart, Scripture allows it in certain situations due to human hardheartedness. For those divorced, God offers comfort, wisdom and a fresh start.

Remember that your identity lies in being a beloved child of God. Seek Christian community and allow God to guide your next steps as you move forward.

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