Is there any evidence to support the Bible’s teaching about divorce?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Is there any evidence that supports the Bible’s teaching about divorce?

So, the topic for this post is whether it’s OK to get divorced.

What does the Bible say?

I noticed a lot of people getting divorced these days in the church, and trying to justify why they are allowed to divorce and why they should be allowed to pursue remarriage. So I’m first going to quote from an article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy.

She writes:

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Now, I had always taken the rule of Dr. Laura for this. She says that you can get divorced for adultery and abandonment (as above), but she allows allows for physical abuse and drug addiction. But it looks like the Bible is more strict than Dr. Laura, even.

What does the evidence say?

So let’s see if there is any reason outside the Bible that explains why the Bible tells people not to get divorced. The UK Daily Mail reports on a study on the effects of divorce.


Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

[…]The new study, the first in 20 years to examine how the behaviour of separated parents affects their children, was carried out by US academics.

It covered 270 parents who were divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004 in an unnamed US state that compels divorcees to take part in an education programme on ‘co-operative co-parenting’.

Of these, 31 per cent considered their relationship with their ex-spouse as ‘co-operative and involved’; 45 per cent were ‘moderately engaged’ with their divorced partner, with some conflict between them; and 24 per cent said their co-operation was ‘infrequent but conflictual’.

They were asked to say how their break-up had affected the youngest child in their family. The average age of children involved was eight years.

The study, published in the academic journal Family Relations, said that children of divorced parents are more likely than others to suffer ‘external’ symptoms such as behaviour problems or drug abuse, more likely to have ‘internal’ difficulties like anxiety or depression, and more likely to do badly at school.

But the researchers, headed by Dr Jonathon Beckmeyer of Indiana University, found that these children’s problems were no worse if their parents continued to row and bicker with each other after the divorce.

The study said ‘despite the expectation that children fare better’ if their divorced parents develop a co-operative relationship, the behaviour of children as assessed by their parents ‘did not significantly differ’ between the friendly and the fighting groups of divorcees.

So the take-home lesson is this: there is no such thing as a divorce that doesn’t hurt the children. If you’re thinking of divorce and you have children, just don’t do it. And the Bible sides with the children against the selfish desires of their parents – telling the parents to be careful who they marry, and to give up their happiness in order to provide stability for the children.

One more thing. I run into a lot of people who think that life is unpredictable, and that you just have to pursue happiness, fun and adventures and how that somehow the universe or God or whatever will make all the selfish hedonism “work out”. That’s false. Marriage is not like a slot machine. There are things you can do now to prepare your character for marriage. There are things that your marriage candidate should be able to do to be prepared for marriage as well. If both people practice self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice before marriage, that’s a good sign that they will be able to make a commitment that lasts. Indulging your desire to sky-dive, surf, zip-line and travel for adventure does nothing to prepare your character for what marriage will require of you.

Marriage is not an engine for personal fulfillment and happiness. You don’t get out of it when you don’t feel happy. Marriage is about changing your character to make you more mature, and providing a safe, stable environment for children to grow up in. The reason so many people are divorcing today is because they think that marriage is a consumer good – that it should be fun. But it’s not designed to be fun, it’s designed to be a challenge. If you stay committed to it, it does produce a return in the long run.

9 thoughts on “Is there any evidence to support the Bible’s teaching about divorce?”

  1. That’s right. Do not enter into Marriage hastily. Don’t get pregnant before marriage meaning don’t enter in a sexual relationship.

  2. Well not only do people treat marriage like a fun thing but they are not mature enough to know what to look for in a spouse. I’ve heard young girls say thing like ” Oh he is handsome or he has lots of money” Well the thing that matters most is his character. And also I think one must pray to God for the right man for them. To me , God can put the right one in your path.

  3. “Now, I had always taken the rule of Dr. Laura for this. She says that you can get divorced for adultery and abandonment (as above), but she allows allows for physical abuse and drug addiction. But it looks like the Bible is more strict than Dr. Laura, even.”

    If there is physical abuse, a divorce should be necessary. Why would want to stay with a spouse that beats on you? Cause if he or she beats on you then they might beat on the children as well or take it a step further and start sexual abuse.

  4. I truly agree with your thoughts. However it seems (and I could be wrong) that you think one has to choose between having fun in life and marriage. I agree marriage is a huge responsibility and should be prepared for with the utmost soberness. Being financially prudent as well as mentally and spiritually preparing yourself is non- negotiable.

    But I see nowhere in scripture that states one cannot enjoy things in life. In fact, I would say the very purpose of creation is for us to take care of as well as enjoy. (I happen to love surfing) I would hate to think of getting married someday to someone who who thought fun of all kinds was to be avoided. I think having fun can accompany responsibility in marriage as long as it’s not the sole purpose. Do you disagree? Just curious.

    1. I don’t disagree with you about fun, but what I mean by fun would be more like buying a sports car convertible. Then you can drive it every day, and that would be fun. My worry is that I see a lot of non-Christians prioritizing fun in life, and it harms their ability to do the things that you and I agree on: preparing for marriage. For example, a lot of people get involved with drinking, hooking up, cohabitation, and even abortion. All in the name of fun. I worry that continuously giving in to desire for the “thrill” kind of fun could actually cause harm by undermining the person’s ability to commit.

      This article, for example, shows what trouble a woman got into drinking for fun:

      I wouldn’t be where I am today if I threw out all fun. I had to come up with some way to have fun when I was young to be able to resist all the pressure that was being put on me by my peers. I chose to buy a convertible, and she has been with me ever since – 17 years old now, and I just replaced all the transmission parts (clutch, rear seal, and both bearings). I guess I just prefer fun where there is a commitment, and a responsibility. I also think that my pet cockatiel is fun, too. He is a responsibility as well. My fun isn’t the disposable fun, it’s more like commitment / responsibility fun.

      Does this make any sense?

  5. Of course I have to comment on this, ha! What verses mention abandonment as a reason to divorce? I haven’t seen that (not doubting it, just don’t know where it would be). And does it count as abandonment when the man only shows up after working long hours to rant and throw things around and then leave again? And he lives like a king, hiding his purchases, while his family is well below poverty level? And he makes no attempts to be kind or pleasant for the first twelve years of marriage – not one time? I just wonder about those things. He told me himself that I was a single mom for well over a decade.

    Anyway, still not going to divorce. Even though I have one son who actually does beg me to do it, I don’t see that it would be good for anyone, and it would not honor God, which is the most important thing anyway.

  6. Marriage is a big big deal, we dont know what it means anymore today. We all carry the idea of eternity into relationships, we want someone to love us “forever” and in return we will love them the same. We are so much more consumer minded than we can ever imagine in this culture. Thats why when things get tough, people bail or shut down, or go somewhere else. The greates attack in this country has been the attack on the family, yes racism, political agendas, monopolies, violence and all sorts of awful things have played their part, however I believe it all starts with the relationship with our heavenly father, then our earthly father and mother. If families were maintained and no fault divorce was removed there would be a dramatic difference in our society today. Yes television, media, film, music all play their part but imagine parents actually managing their childrens lives, speaking into them and protecting them to the best of their abilities what a world of difference it would make.
    Inner city families and suburban ones as well would have a sense of stability, children getting healthy masculine and feminine relationships with mom and dad would create more stable and balanced children who have a stable ground to start on. The desctruction of the family in exchange for the individualistic one has been one of the greatest defeats in our country.
    Anyone who disagrees I would assume has come from a broken home or a dysfunctional one, as have I. Maybe one of your parents or both were supremely dysfunctional and failed you in some way or many. I would say that Inshare your sentiment, but imagine if they were together, they were stable, and they worked things out. I think a lot of our stories would be a lot different today amd our society would look a lot different. We would still have problems being sinners, still have trouble in this world but even with a small majority of people living correctly before God could have an impact. Small lights burn bright when darkness is all around.

  7. I am wondering about something that a man in a small breakout group at our Men’s gather said; on an occasion when he had told his wife of several years that he could not join her on a trip to Wisconsin to simply visit, she remarked to him, “I love you but I don’t respect you” . He thought not much about it until she returned and repeated the remark, proceeding to reinforce it by refusing his sexual advances and other intimacy. He then proceeded to tell us she has rejected his wants and needs of intimacy for several years at this point. His question was, after counseling for several years, did not that give him Christian grounds for divorce and moving on? None of us had an answer for him so we referred him to the executive pastor. This was the last meeting of the group for the year and we never saw him again.

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