23 Mar 2015
I sometimes wonder if divorce is really acceptable to God or if he really considers it a sin. There are a number of factors to consider in making this decision. For the purpose of this paper I am going to review my personal life, reasons people get divorced, and some religious documentation and opinion to draw hopefully reach a reasonable conclusion.
I was raised by my mother and my step father, my parents divorced when I was two years old. I attended a Catholic School from kindergarten to the fifth grade; I don't recall attending any religious classes even though the school was right next to our Church. We went to Church every Sunday and that is the only time I remember learning anything about God. My mother changed my last name on my school records so it would be the same as hers. She said it was just easier that way but I wonder if that was the real reason, because I know now that Catholics view divorce as sinful behavior so they may have been pressuring her. It was around this time that my mother decided she needed to find a new religion as well. She told me we were converting to Judaism because she needed a religion that was more like a way of life than Catholicism. I didn't really care one way or the other at that point in my life I was just a kid. Divorce was a pretty normal occurrence in my family. My grandmother had eight siblings and three of her sisters, that were still living, were all divorced, they were also Catholic. My mother's only sibling my aunt was also Catholic and divorced. I didn't know until I got older that they were all considered sinners at Church. My older cousin knew because we went to the same school but she never told me. I have been married for twenty years and have never been divorced, not that I have never thought about it, just because I would rather just work out the problems than start over. I couldn't imagine that if I chose to get a divorce I would be committing a sin against God. Some of the time I actually think that it may bring me closer to God which is the opposite of sin so how could that be sinful.
The divorce rate has declined slightly since 1982 but the number of divorces are still historically high (Alan J. Hawkins). Estimates are that about 40% of first marriages and an even higher rate of second marriages end in divorce. Some policy makers are trying to change both marriage and divorce laws to combat in the hope of bringing the divorce rate down (Alan J. Hawkins). Another way to combat divorce is to work on marriage and there are many faith based programs that offer workshops, retreats and marriage based enrichment programs. In some states take Florida for example you have to wait three days to obtain your marriage license unless you attend pre-marital counseling, and in Illinois you have to wait 60 days unless you've attended 4 hours of pre-marital counseling (Alan J. Hawkins). Some states are even diverting money from their temporary Assistance to Needy Families Funds to support pre-marital counseling. In the State of Florida marriage education is a class just like drivers education, and in Adrian County Michigan one court will not issue a marriage license without pre-marital education to anyone within its jurisdiction (Alan J. Hawkins). Some people feel that it is just too easy to get a divorce now days, and maybe a change in legislature would keep marriages together. Creating tax reforms that will benefit married couples and differentiating the ease of no-fault divorce laws, especially when there are children involved are two ways to combat the problem. The trend seems to be to keep the sanctity of marriage for economical reasons as well as spiritual reasons but how do the causes for divorce play into this dilemma? The top ten reasons I found were infidelity, poor communication, change in priorities due to having kids or job changes, lack of commitment to the marriage, sexual problems, addictions, failed expectations, physical and emotional abuse and the number one reason money (McCloud). These are all things that we have to go through to live and some look like reasonable reasons to file for divorce but for me to evaluate these reasons I have to figure out if they are harmful or sinful.
53% of American marriages end in divorce due to infidelity (Infidelity Facts). People cheat on their spouse for many reasons but men tend to cheat because of sex. They want to spread their seed or loose sexual desire for their wives especially after childbirth. I've even heard it said that men are not made to be monogamous, or that their spouse is no longer as much fun as she was when they married. Some men commit adultery to feed their ego because they feel a need to be in control or to feel that they have made some type of conquest. Women on the other hand cheat more times than not because of the emotional deficiency they suffer in the marriage. Regarding poor communication I found a quote that summed it up pretty nicely
Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of divorce. A marriage is on the rocks when the lines of communication fail. You can't have an effective relationship if either one of you won't discuss your feelings, can't talk about your mutual or personal issues, will keep your resentments simmering under wraps, and expect your partner to guess what the whole problem is about (Panse).
Having a family definitely changes the dynamics in any household and all big changes affect the way a husband and wife interact with one another. It will infringe on the time you get to spend together, your finances will be affected, and your focus is altered. Some people get married because they feel they have to either the biological clock is ticking or they have a child out of wedlock, or maybe there is pressure from family or colleagues to tie the knot. Intimacy especially sexual can be a deal breaker only if you let it. In today's society there are surgeries and so many products available to enhance sexual arousal and drive that it seems easy to overcome. Most addictions can be treated in some type of medical forum but the key is in recognizing there is a problem and getting the treatment. Some people don't take any time to get to know the person they are marrying before they get married or tend to think they can change what they don't like about them. They are too often looking for a quick solution when it does not work out (Panse). Abuse is a horse of a different color I've seen firsthand what mental and physical abuse does in a marriage. It tears people down and strips them of their self confidence. It does not seem rational to do this to another human being. Money, the root of all evil, I see the harm in all of these actions but I believe these are things God will forgive you for if you ask him to and as long as you discontinue the action. If the reasons for divorce are considered sinful it would seem to me that if you get rid of the sin causing the divorce you would no longer have reason to divorce.
My findings on rationale for divorce may seem rationale to me but there are others who believe differently. The Bible for one is very clear on how God feels about divorce and there are various scriptures to prove it: "I hate divorce', says the Lord God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith" (Malachi 2:16). "What God has joined together, let man not separate . . . I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery "(Matthew 19:6, 9). "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery "(Mark 10:11-12). "If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 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" (1 Corinthians 7:12-13) (Brittan). Some people are of a mind that you need to do whatever you have to do to stay married. They would even go so far to say that if you are already divorced for an unbiblical reason and you were a Christian when you got divorced, then you need to "face the awfulness and seriousness of your sin (Brittan)" and you shouldn't pretend that is was not wrong in the eyes of God. Additionally they give warning in scripture that you should not ask for God's grace when you get divorced because that too is a sin "They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 4) (Brittan). I found one ministry that believes based on experience that staying in a non-feeling relationship and enduring the pain was worth going through because of the growth in the Lord they gained by doing so (Matthews). With all of the documentation in the Bible a good Christian would just do what the bible said and not get divorced, but I still wondered if there were ever any exceptions.
There is also scripture to support divorce under certain circumstances: "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). "Jesus said God only allowed divorce in the Old Testament because of the hardness of our hearts" (Matthew 19:8). "If you are married to an unbeliever, it is God's desire for you to stay married" (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16; 1 Peter 3:1-6). "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. 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. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances" (1 Corinthians 7:12-15) (Brittan). Now all of this made me err on the side of caution if there are exceptions for divorce not being a sin in certain situations maybe I could find some documentation to counter all divorce as a sin. I ran across an article written by a Christian woman who had gone through a divorce and she admitted to being one of those Christians who frowned upon people who divorced. She commented on the spiritual crisis she endured and the questions she as a believer asked herself. She wanted to know if there was a Godly way to get through it, where to find God in the process, and if somehow this changed what type of Christian she was (Carsten). In doing so she found comfort in the word and a few passages that led her to the conclusion that when Gods says he hates divorce he is saying it out of compassion because of the destruction it causes. God wants us to be married for the protection and safety that it gives us and for the love it provides us. He cares more about human beings than he does an act like divorce (Carsten). Jesus showed us on many occasions how important rule keeping was in comparison to the needs of a person. One occasion in the Bible that confirms this is in the book of Matthew:
"At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."  He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.  Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?  I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.  If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:1-8)
In conclusion I have found that some Christians take the word of God and use it in such a way that they turn God's condemnation of acts into condemnation of people. They disregard his compassion for people and this discounts the very foundation of their religious faith, Jesus Christ. They speak of sin as sacraments against God when the sin is whatever you do that takes you away from God and causes you to lose faith in him. If you divorce and fall away from God in the process then you are committing a sin, and sinful acts to cause divorce can be forgiven but you have to commit yourself to keeping your faith and staying from those things that you ask God's forgiveness for. In the beginning I wondered if divorce was acceptable to God or if it were a sin. I am concluding that it is acceptable and it is not a sin because divorce in and of itself is not the sin, the sin of divorce only occurs when you divorce God.
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