Bible Verses About Divorce

Compiled by The BibleStudyTools Staff on 07/10/2024
Bible Verses About Divorce

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce? - Divorce is mentioned several times in the Old and New Testament, as God hates divorce, and there are very few exceptions where divorce is allowed in Scripture. God created marriage and intended it to be good for us. When sin entered, so did the breaking of relationships. Divorce has become common today, even among Christians. Let's take a look at the scriptures that talk about divorce.

Divorce is a complex and sensitive issue, one that touches deeply on the moral and spiritual lives of those involved. When we turn to the Bible to seek guidance on divorce, we find that the scriptures offer a range of perspectives, all unified by a core principle: marriage is a sacred covenant intended to be lifelong and unbroken. Before we take a look at a list of scriptures that talk about divorce, let's dive into the meaning behind these guidelines in the Bible

Biblical Foundations of Marriage

The Bible begins with the foundational concept of marriage in Genesis 2:24, which states, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This concept of two becoming one flesh is reiterated by Jesus in the New Testament, emphasizing the unity and indissolubility of marriage (Matthew 19:5-6).

Old Testament Teachings on Divorce

In the Old Testament, divorce was permitted under certain circumstances. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 provides a legal framework for divorce, stating that a man could divorce his wife if he found "some indecency in her." However, it also prohibits a man from remarrying his former wife after she has been married to another man. This passage indicates a recognition of the complexities of marital relationships and a structured approach to divorce within the Old Testament form of community.

The prophet Malachi also addresses divorce, expressing God's disdain for it. Malachi 2:16 says, "For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel," highlighting that divorce is contrary to God’s desire for marital fidelity and harmony. The prophet emphasizes the seriousness of the marriage covenant and God's expectation that spouses remain faithful to one another (Malachi 2:14-16).

Jesus' teachings on divorce are particularly strict. In Matthew 19:3-9, when the Pharisees ask Him about divorce, Jesus points back to the creation story, emphasizing that marriage was designed by God to be a permanent union. He says Moses allowed divorce because of people's hard hearts, but it wasn't meant to be that way. Jesus allows for divorce only in cases of sexual immorality, stating that anyone who divorces for other reasons and remarries commits adultery (Matthew 19:9).

The Apostle Paul provides further instruction on marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. He advises that a wife should not separate from her husband, but if she does, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. Similarly, a husband must not divorce his wife (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). However, Paul introduces an additional ground for divorce: abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. He states that if an unbelieving partner separates, the believer is not bound in such circumstances and is called to live in peace (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Biblical Grounds for Divorce

From these teachings, the Bible presents two clear grounds for divorce: sexual immorality and abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. Sexual immorality encompasses a broad range of inappropriate sexual behaviors, and Jesus’ exception clause permits divorce under these conditions (Matthew 5:32, 19:9). Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse is addressed by Paul, who allows the believing partner to accept the separation and move forward (1 Corinthians 7:15).

The Role of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Despite these reasons for allowing divorce, God's Word encourages forgiveness and reconciliation. The Bible emphasizes the potential for healing and restoring broken relationships. In instances of marital strife, believers are urged to seek forgiveness and reconciliation before considering divorce. This approach aligns with the teachings of Jesus and Paul, who both highlight the importance of maintaining the marital bond whenever possible (Matthew 19:8, 1 Corinthians 7:11).

Pastoral Considerations

Within the topic of divorce and remarriage, it is crucial for the church community to provide support and guidance. Pastoral care plays a vital role in helping individuals navigate the complexities of divorce, offering counsel, and fostering an environment where healing and reconciliation can occur. The church is called to walk alongside those contemplating divorce, encouraging them to explore all avenues of restoration before taking the final step.

The Bible teaches that marriage is sacred and meant to last a lifetime. While it does allow for divorce in cases of sexual immorality and abandonment, these should be seen as last resorts. The main focus is on forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing the relationship.

When dealing with divorce, we should seek God's wisdom and grace, supporting each other with love and compassion. By understanding these biblical principles, we can approach divorce in a way that respects both the sanctity of marriage and the complexities of human relationships.

Download a free PDF of Hope-Filled Bible Verses to save as an inspiration of God's mercy and grace!

Editor's Note:This is a general collection of what the Bible says about divorce; it does not presume to give advice for specific relationships resulting in divorce. If you are in an abusive relationship or would like to read more articles on divorce please see our suggestions below:

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’
32 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.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.
11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him.
3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
1 “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers— would you now return to me?” declares the LORD.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.
13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.
1 This is what the LORD says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,
2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,
3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,
4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
Exodus 14:14
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”