Few biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment are cited in the Word of God. I Corinthians, Chapter 7 offers guidance on how to respond when a spouse decides to leave. "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away" (I Corinthians 7:10-13).
According to the verse below, biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment also apply to spouses married to unsaved partners: "And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches" (I Corinthians 7:14-17).
In the 10th verse, Paul is explicit in admonishing Christian wives not to depart from, or leave, their husbands. Marriage, a holy institution ordained by God, is designed to create a lifelong monogamous union. The Apostle Paul is simply saying that he is well aware of the troubles that can plague marriage. Yet there must be a willingness to endure the difficult times and not be so quick to divorce when times get tough, except where biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment apply. According to verse 11, the wife who finds the relationship unbearable and insists on leaving should remain unmarried or go back to her husband and be reconciled. But the consequences of leaving might mean that the woman must live the rest of life without a male companion. Trusting God to rectify relationship issues is the best solution for troubled marriages. Men and women must understand that a husband or wife undergoes changes in personality and temperament. By allowing the Holy Spirit to govern, guide, or renew a wounded spirit, couples can experience more peace and harmony on the home front.
It may be well to note that Paul also addressed husbands who may be tempted to put away, or leave, their wives. Verse 11 exhorts men not to leave a wife who really prefers to stay in the marriage. In today's modern society, spouses would be less apt to use biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment if they understood the consequences of their actions. If biblical grounds for marital dissolution were applied today, ex-wives would have to remain single and remarriage to other spouses would be prohibited. A woman's inability to remarry someone else would make staying in the first relationship more appealing. And over time, husbands and wives do learn how to live together in peace and harmony.
The passage in I Corinthians, chapter 7 also deals with marriages between believers and non-believers in Jesus Christ. Paul understood, by way of the Holy Spirit, that biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment might apply to Christians who married non-Christians. If a non-believer wanted to stay with their spouse, regardless of a difference or lack of faith in Christ, there would be no just cause to separate or divorce. Indeed, a non-believing spouse was sanctified or spiritually cleansed by the Christian spouse for the purpose of bearing children. This sanctification, however, did not negate the fact that the unbeliever still needed to become born again in order to inherit eternal life. The New Birth process would make husband and wife equally yoked.
For some Christians, being married to an unsaved spouse presents some formidable challenges; including biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment. A life devoted to serving God can be disrupted by the desires and demands of spouses whose lives are devoted to serving Satan. And one does not have to be a satanic worshiper or worker of curious arts to serve the devil. In this world there are only two types of people: saved and unsaved, or those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and those who have not. People who are not born again Christians serve the lesser god of this world, the devil, and their own flesh. There is little hope for a lasting marital relationship without conflict when one spouse loves and serves God and the other does the bidding of the god of this world. Sooner or later, there is bound to be a split.
Definitive biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment are clearly stated in I Corinthians, verse 15: if an unbelieving spouse cannot abide in the marriage, the Bible gives a Christian husband or wife the right to file for divorce, releasing them from the bonds of holy matrimony to pursue a life of peace and contentment in Christ. In conclusion, couples seeking to wed should first seek a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a prospective husband or wife opposes God by refusing the free gift of eternal life through Christ, serious consideration should be given to calling off the engagement. Biblical reasons to divorce for abandonment provide grounds for separation or divorce should a non-believing spouse refuse to cohabitate with a believer. Otherwise, a Christian husband or wife could spend years tossed between pleasing God and pleasing a non-believing spouse in order to keep the peace.