The search for biblical reasons for divorce will prove to be nearly fruitless. As a matter of fact, there are only eleven scriptures in the entire 66-book Bible that even discuss the topic. Under Old Testament Mosaic Law there were just two reasons for a husband to put away, or divorce, a wife: (1) adultery, or having sexual intercourse outside of marriage; and (2) if the husband found some uncleanness in the woman upon marrying. Uncleanness, in biblical terms, would likely imply that the newly wed wife was found not to be a virgin on the wedding night. The woman despised by the husband because of uncleanness was free to remarry without being labeled an adulteress--although prohibited by law from returning to the former mate.
In the New Testament, biblical reasons for divorce due to adultery or fornication are outlined in the following scripture: "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." (Note: biblical reasons for divorce were adapted because of a hardness of heart or inability of the offended party to forgive the offender.) "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Matthew 19:1-9).
The following Old Testament passage cites one of the biblical reasons for divorce as uncleanness: "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife" (Deuteronomy 24:1-2).
Matthew 19, verse 9 plainly states that the husband who divorces a wife who is not guilty of fornication and marries another woman, not only commits the sin of adultery but causes the divorced former wife to sin as well, should she choose to become married for the second time. Again, notice that the only biblical reasons for divorce cited in scripture are adultery and moral uncleanness.
While the Old Testament restricted the sin of adultery to women and those husbands who unfairly put them away, men were free to have as many wives and concubines as they chose! Men of renown like King David, Solomon, even father Abraham were expected to have multiple wives to produce as many children as possible. By today's standards and according to the New Testament, multiple simultaneous marriages would be considered bigamy, punishable by law.
In the twenty-first century, the practice of marriage, divorce and remarriage--for both men and women-- has become so commonplace that no one questions the validity or equity of such actions. Many Christians have been married two or three times; and yet, no one seems to take heed to the biblical reasons for divorce in order to justify multiple marriages. But does Matthew 19:1-6 still apply for believers today? The answer is yes, the word of God has not changed because of our inability or unwillingness to obey it.
Does God forgive those who divorce? The answer is also yes; but there may be consequences; and only God can address or rectify those issues resulting from divorce and remarriage. According to the Bible, divorce tears a husband and wife apart, but it also causes grievous wounds to children, innocent victims of their parents inability to resolve marital conflict. "...the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not [God] make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously" (Malachi 2:14-15).
Before deciding to divorce for reasons other than marital infidelity, couples would be wise to search the Word of God for biblical reasons for divorce and consult a seasoned clergyman for ways to reconcile. Even in the event of adultery, there is forgiveness for the offending party. The Spirit of God is able to renew, restore and reunite couples facing the prospect of divorce because of sexual indiscretion.
A thorough search of the scriptures will reveal very few biblical reasons for divorce, but a multitude of reasons to stay in the marriage: to bring forth a godly seed (Malachi 2:15); to provide a nurturing environment in which to raise children; and to love, honor, and cherish one another as evidence that holy matrimony works; and divorce does not have to be the end result for two people who fall in love.
Divorce Because Of AbandonmentDivorce Because Of Abandonment is when one parent leaves their family and does not provide any support for them. When one parent abandons his or her family the court will not look favorably on them when considering custody. The parent who is left with the children may want to consider divorce options. He or she should file a missing person's report with the police department. If this does not render any results then the parent can ask for divorce because of abandonment. Criteria for qualifying for a divorce under these circumstances vary by state so setting up a conference with a family law attorney would be a good way to find out the particulars. However, the remaining husband or wife should pray and ask God to bring reconciliation before filing for a divorce. "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife" (1 Corinthians 7:11).
If a parent leaves the family and does not tell anyone where he or she is going then the remaining parent has grounds for divorce because of abandonment. If the adult provides an address of residence and offers help to support the children then abandonment would not apply. In some states there is a specific time limit pertaining to the amount of time that has gone by since the parent left before the remaining parent can go to court. In addition, the judge may ask if the party who left had a reason for doing so. Of course it would be difficult to understand how anyone could leave their own children and never try to see or support them. But each case is different and the court will probably handle each one differently dependent upon the circumstances.
In some states, a person does not have a waiting time before divorce because of abandonment can be filed. Each case is different but if one person leaves and moves out of state the spouse can file for divorce even if the whereabouts of that person is known. When a parent is left with children at home and the other parent makes a decision to leave there can be great heartache and stress. This is true, especially, if the person moves far away and does not want any contact with the kids anymore. The parent who is left with the burden of raising the children alone can find peace and comfort in the Lord. Taking the kids to church, prayer, and Bible Study are all important ways one can learn to cope.
Enrolling in family counseling sessions is a good way to help the parent and the children who are victims of divorce because of abandonment. Family counseling sessions can help the parent and the children realize that life can go on and in time things will get better. Meanwhile, they will have one another to lean on. Trying to find the other parent so that the children can have contact with him or her would be a good thing as long as the parent who has left does not upset them more by refusing to see them. This is a very difficult situation for kids to have to deal with. Of course, they are going to miss the adult who has left them. They will be angry and hurt at the same time. This is why the parent left with the kids should consider getting counseling.
Showing support for a spouse and children after leaving may negate any ruling of divorce because of abandonment. The ruling depends upon the state and the court. There is not a guarantee for the person leaving that the court will not rule abandonment. However, the other spouse is likely to be more understanding and work with the partner that has left if he or she is constantly in touch and takes an interest in the children. The option then for a divorce could be sought on incompatibility grounds. The partner who chooses to leave should be upfront with their spouse with plans of leaving. Just leaving with no regard for those who are left behind is not the right thing to do anyway. Of course, some partners may be afraid to be honest especially if the spouse is abusive. However, children should never be left with an abusive parent. Consider making arrangements with the court for temporary custody in order to protect the children before leaving.
Some courts may consider a parent who has left and never came back as being guilty of desertion. This would make it very difficult for the parent to obtain custody of the children. However, the parent who is left with the burden of raising the children will have to prove that the other parent is guilty of desertion. The parent who has the burden of proof will need to provide evidence. Also, the spouse who files for the divorce will have to show the court that he or she made an effort to save the marriage. Divorce because of abandonment is a serious allegation so the remaining parent needs to be sure that every attempt has been made to contact their partner.
Marital disagreements can lead to one spouse requesting that the other one leave. When this happens the court may not rule that the partner who left has abandoned the marriage. However, when children are involved, even if a spouse leaves, there should be an effort on the adult's part to maintain contact with the children and do everything possible to help support them. If this does not happen, then the court will probably not look favorably toward the adult who left and he or she will have difficulty getting sole custody, joint custody, or even visitation rights. Divorce because of abandonment might still be an option for a ruling if the parent who has left makes no attempt to stay in contact with the children even though his or her whereabouts is known.