Thoughts on Divorce

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners

Dear Chuck,
I am in a serious relationship, but I tend to think negative…so my thoughts are on what would happen if it doesn’t work out? I hear that divorce is more common now in Christian marriages than in the world. I don’t know if I want to take this risk. Could you give me an overview of your thoughts on divorce please.

Chuck's Response
A very controversial subject, but I’ll jump in and see what happens. This divorce thing is quite clear I believe from a scriptural standpoint, but agonizing to put it into real lives. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus said that there was only ONE grounds for divorce…and that was adultery by a mate. Some people use First Corinthians 7:15-16 as an excuse for divorce….where it says that if a non Christian wants to leave…let him or her leave…and the other person is not under bondage. 

I believe the “bondage” means that the Christian does not have to change their spiritual commitment just to keep the non Christian around. If the non Christian begins to commit habitual adultery or gets married, then that frees the other person to get married again. I think if there had been more than one grounds Jesus would have said it, but He didn’t. From the context of other scriptures I suggest that even though divorce is reluctantly allowed for habitual adultery, I think God is better served by forgiveness and reconciliation. Of course when a wife’s life is in danger she should either get a restraining order or leave the home herself…but it still is not grounds for divorce unfortunately. If I had written the Bible I would have included physical, verbal and mental abuse, abandonment, financial irresponsibility, drug and alcohol addictions, and being a non-Christian as grounds for dissolving the marriage bond, but I don’t see that in Scripture. Usually the abusive husband is not a Christian, so it is unrealistic to think that he has the power of the Holy Spirit in his life to do the right thing. 
Often I suggest the woman give God some time to touch the husband’s heart. Even if the husband is away from the home with a girlfriend, I suggest the wife wait. If the husband divorces his wife…then of course this breaks the marriage bond…but even then I always recommend the woman wait until he remarries to have another relationship. I know this sounds like I am putting all the burden on the woman, and I guess I am because she is usually the one who knows Jesus Christ personally and has the strength to endure the pain in order to help others going through the same problem later. (2 Cor 1:3-5). These are some of my thoughts on the subject. Be sure to get back to me if you want to talk further.
Chuck Snyder


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Updated 05/24/2005