When is it alright to divorce according to the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Table of Contents


About marriage and divorce, Jesus taught, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The marriage union was instituted and blessed by God at the very beginning of time. The Genesis record tells us, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (ch. 1:27). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (ch. 2:24). It was the Creator who provided for the marriage union; it is He who made it possible. All who get united by marriage are therefore “joined” for life, according to God’s original plan.

God has never changed the law of marriage He declared at the beginning. It was not God’s plan that divorce should ever take place. Therefore, believers today who plan and purpose in their hearts to follow God’s plan will not, without scriptural basis, resort to divorce as an answer to marital problems (Romans 7:2).


Jesus made a single exception for divorce. He said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). The only change made in the original marriage law is that breaking of the marriage contract by adultery as the only lawful basis for breaking the union. Otherwise, the union may not lawfully be broken. 

Under the Mosaic law the penalty for marital unfaithfulness was death (Leviticus 20:10), not divorce. Furthermore, under Moses’ law, the death penalty was mandatory, whereas under the Christian law, here set forth by Christ divorce is not mandatory, but permissible.  

In Matthew 19:9 and in Jesus’ parallel teaching in Matthew 5:32, we can conclude, that the innocent person to a divorce is at liberty to marry again.  If the woman is guilty, any union she contracts with another man violates her original marriage vow, which violation constitutes adultery. And the man marrying her becomes an adulterer also. 

Sacred Vows

Reconciliation is the ideal thing, especially if children are involved. Divorce can often serve as a “excuse” instead of working things out in love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 5:25). This is one reason Jesus ruled it out. Divorce is destructive to the children and is not the solution to marital problems.

God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He instituted marriage to guard His children’s purity and happiness, to provide for their social needs, and to elevate their physical, mental, and moral nature. The marriage vows are among the most solemn and binding obligations that human beings can have. To lightly set them aside, results in removing one’s self from God’s blessings. Therefore, “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Hebrews 13:4).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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