“No Divorce Allowed!” Legalists


11th Commandment-

Thou Shalt Not Divorce.*

-Hardline, Evangelical Fundamentalists on Divorce (e.g. John Piper)

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

– Galatians 3:10, NIV

*Addendum: If Thou violates this commandment, then thou shalt not remarry as long as thy divorced spouse lives.


I am disturbed by how this unspoken law has permeated the church, which God taught ought to be governed by grace. This “Law” stood out to me as I reflected on the oft-abused Malachi 2:16 verse regarding God hating divorce. Since it says divorce is hated by God, evangelical-fundamentalist hardliners disregard the context and write a rule.

A man-made law is created.

Thou Shalt Not Divorce.

Nowhere further do you have to look than to how this law crushes the already oppressed–i.e. abandoned spouses and adultery victims. It truly does bring a curse. In fact, this law is even crueler and stricter than the Old Testament.

At least in the Old Testament, the faithful spouse would be released from a marriage to an adulterous spouse. That spouse would be dead (e.g. Deut. 22:22 and Lev. 20:10).

Something is horribly amiss with one’s New Testament interpretation of Scripture if one ends up with an understanding that is stricter and less merciful for adultery victims than the Old Testament Law itself!

Another fruit of striving to live under the “Law” is self-righteousness or–stated another way–pride. I see this all the time in my experience and in the stories of other faithful spouses I know.

We run up against Christian men or women who project–I am better than you–vibes because they have not violated this 11th Commandment and we have. This is the man-made law behind the I’m-a-better-Christian-because-I-never-divorced mindset.

This is sick.

And this is not Good News.

The Shared Responsibility Lie” buttresses the preaching of this false gospel.  It supports it by creating the illusion that obeying this man-made law is within each of our grasps (when it is not). That way if the commandment is violated, then one can self-righteously proclaim failure to perform in the violators.

Like I said, it is sick.

The true Good News stands with victims. It does not condemn adultery victims for using a permission to divorce that Jesus, Himself, provided. Thereby, the true Gospel does not heap a burden on faithful spouses’ shoulders that is more onerous than the Law of the Old Testament.

The 11th Commandment must go! 

If not,

then let’s at least be honest that this “Christian” community is more about religious performance than being a real gospel-centered community.

3 thoughts on ““No Divorce Allowed!” Legalists”

  1. Excellent post.

    God hates lots of things. He hates violence but does that mean we should not defend our children if a criminal is trying to kidnap them? I’m not sure that people like Piper look at the big picture. I find it better to step back and look at all of the Scripture when discussing one fine point.

    1. What strikes me as so discordant with such teaching on divorce is the contrast between Piper’s professed message of grace and his rigid legalism on the matter of divorce and remarriage. He almost seems proud of his “hard-nose” reading on the matter. So blind to the inconsistency!

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