Divorce is not sin.

10489858_10154379216970441_6313737274309562544_nFalse Assumption: Divorce is sin.

Where to begin? I think I will begin with Jesus’ words about the Pharisees and Scribes. He says in Matthew 23:4 about them: “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (NKJV). I mention this verse first because I sense many have had religious voices ingrain the message in them that they MUST reconcile with an adulterer/adulteress. While these religious individuals may have good intentions and love God, they have more in common with these devout Pharisees–adding to God’s requirements–than with Jesus on the matter of divorce. Those voices telling you that you, the faithful spouse, must remained married to a cheater are putting a burden on your shoulders that the God of the Bible does not. When Jesus teaches on divorce (e.g. Mt 5:31-32, Mt 19:1-12), He is denouncing it as a means to obtaining another sexual partner other than your spouse (i.e. adultery).

Divorce itself is not sin.

Once again, God is consistently making adultery the main issue.

Also, divorce must be morally acceptable theologically in some cases (e.g. where adultery is present), or we serve a God who sinned in divorcing Israel over repeated adulteries (Jeremiah 3:8). If God is not ashamed to declare His divorce of Israel (in rather graphic and angry language, I would add–see Jeremiah 3), then why should we be ashamed of divorcing someone unrepentant of adultery? Are we morally superior to God? Did God somehow fail as a covenant partner with Israel? I say these things not to bring further condemnation upon anyone but to highlight how absurd these old religious arguments against divorce following adultery are in light of the full witness of the Bible.


What about that passage about God hating divorce? (“‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel…”-Malachi 2:17a, NASB).


Malachi 2 is a very misunderstood passage in Christianity. It is a passage abused to say that God hates divorced people. That is not at all what it says and is downright antithetical to God’s character. Have you read around the passage to gather the context of that verse? Malachi is denouncing a practice in God’s people of divorcing their old, Jewish wives for local, young pagan wives. In other words, this passage is more about denouncing adultery than denouncing divorce–per se.


You see, the first covenant with the Jewish wife is clearly still held as valid in God’s eyes. So, the Jewish men sleeping with their new pagan wives means they are committing de facto adultery. Once again, God is consistently denouncing the use of divorce as a means to obtain another sexual partner who is not your actual spouse (i.e. a means to adultery). Furthermore, God is calling these Jewish men out on their adulterous hearts as well as their self-righteous arrogance of coming to Him with offerings as if they had done nothing wrong! As if their adulterous behavior was not bad enough, these men sought God’s stamp of approval and favor upon them. Well, this passage makes it crystal clear that such behavior makes God very angry!


To follow in God’s example, Christian leaders and other followers of Christ ought be more concerned about adultery than whether or not a divorce takes place.


Remember: Adultery is the main problem here.


Not divorce.

22 thoughts on “Divorce is not sin.”

  1. I agree with you but have a couple of questions. God hates divorce as a means to get new partners, so does that mean if you divorce a cheater, you can never marry again? I know that Catholics believe that you cannot be remarried until your previous marriage is “erased” with heartbreaking consequences.

    1. It would make no sense for Jesus to say you can divorce after adultery without the implied ability to remarry. Furthermore, the OT penalty for adultery was death (e.g. Deut. 22:22). Most people would not consider it a problem if a widower or widow remarried. I suggest that applies to those whose marriages ended from the hard-hearted choices of an adulterer or adulteress.

    2. Hi Kendra, scripture lists only a few exceptions when divorce and remarriage are allowed without reprimand. Unless it happens under one of those exceptions, it’s viewed as adultery. This is what Malachai 2 is touching on. The divorces the men were asking for were unbiblical, they didn’t get the exception stamp of approval, so they were committing adultery. One passage to look at, Mt 19:9, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Adultery is sexual immorality, hard core. 1 Cor 7:15 lists the exception for when an unbelieving spouse abandons a believer. I would agree that God hates divorce in the sense that divorce was never his plan. (My own thought is that if you look back to Eden, divorce probably wasn’t included originally, it’s part of the fall). God is deeply saddened by divorce but he recognizes that we’re going to sin. In the case of adultery, I would imagine he’s saddened more that the adultery happened than the divorce, or he wouldn’t give the exception. To recognize that the faithful spouse was just drug through the mud is a big deal.

  2. Wow! Someone who actually gets it! Good job DM!! I have several friends who feel so much guilt YEARS later over their divorce from an adulterous spouse!
    The church has done a real number on them!
    Thanks for getting the truth out there!!

  3. Thank you! It’s refreshing to read a piece that hasn’t taken this scripture out of context, for a change.
    Far too often, those who would want to cram their own ideals down the throats of others are all too willing to only cherry-pick the pieces they want and apply them as they wish. To do so is not only hypocritical, but judgmental as well.

  4. There is such misunderstanding about this. I’m pretty much a wise ass, so I’m shocked I’ve never had the following exchange.

    Some dogooder: You are divorced, it must be tough to carry that burden of sin.
    Me: You are not divorced, it must be tough to carry that burden of sin.
    Dogooder: What do you mean? I’m not divorced!
    Me: No, but ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, not just those divorced. Further, did everyone who is divorced CHOOSE their divorce? Or is it possible some were both betrayed and divorced against their will? Is it possible some sought reconciliation with their unfaithful former spouse, only to end up divorced anyway because she was “in love” with another man and no one in the church would step up and confront a member according to the process in Matthew 18 that describes church discipline? So before you pass out scarlet D’s to all who have been divorced, take some time to find out the circumstances. You may find that about half of those who find themselves qualified to wear the scarlet D didn’t really want their divorce, but no amount of prayer, fasting, counseling, seeing the pastor, or you name it would turn their unfaithful spouse away from the divorce she wanted.

    I’d say being divorced is not necessarily a sin. If you sought a divorce without biblical grounds, you may indeed have comitted a sin. But no worry, we are all sinners, saved only by grace, not by the depth or breadth, or lack thereof of our sin.

    1. uniballer1965,

      I agree that divorce is not ALWAYS sin. The title is there to grab attention. I try to explain that nuance in the post. It is also tackled in the post between myself and another pastor talking about this specific post, actually. Also, I like the snark. Keep it coming.

    2. Uni-Not a bad answer. However, I’ve seen your snark, said “oh snap!” a few times and my guess is that this might be a longer, more kosher version of something that I imagine is much more concise ;P

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