Covenant and divorce: Is marriage really 'until death do we part'?

by Nathan Bailey


Divorce is always a very painful process, and this article isn't so much to those who have gone through the pain as for those who are yet to make their covenant. To those who are divorced, I can only express my sincere regrets over the tragedy you have experienced, and I hope that if you do choose to read this article it will not be a condemnation as much as promise of what marriage can truly be.

I do not feel qualified (at least at this point) to speak in other people's situations, I can only speak from the convictions that I intend to live by. So I don't demand that those who are divorced stay single for the rest of your life, and that re-marriage is a sin for you. But my current conviction is that re-marriage would be a sin for me.

In particular, I would like to note that if you divorced and re-married prior to coming to Christ then my conviction is that, like all other sins, this sin is dealt with at the cross. And, regardless of when your actions occurred, God can and will forgive you of sins relating to divorce, adultery and re-marriage. Our actions, however, always have consequences -- and these consequences are felt particularly heavy when children are involved. And so begins my diatribe...

Until death do we part?

I do not understand how people can make a life-long commitment on their wedding day, even quoting Matthew 19:5-6

5 and said, 'FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
and then violate that very commitment. If people truly feel they have a right to exercise the 'except for adultery' clause in their commitment, why don't they express it in their vows? Why have I never heard "I commit to you for all my life, unless you commit adultery" in a wedding service?

Is it merely because people are afraid to speak such words over their marriage? Or is it because they truly believe this commitment is for life, and that it is unbreakable, but then adjust their belief when the cost gets too great?

I do not pretend to understand all the ins and outs of marriage and divorce, but I have based my views on these things:

I most definitely do NOT believe that a woman should stay in the house when she is being abused. On the other hand, Paul encourage couples to stay together (1 Corinthians 7) in all situations as much as possible, that the partners may win each other back, both to themselves and to Christ.

Clearly, to remarry without exercising the 'excuse clause' is to commit adultery, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:32. And, as He said, only the death of her partner can change that situation. Many Christians appear to be at peace with this form of adultery.

1 Corinthians 7 does allow for seperation, but I can find no reference in the Bible allowing for re-marriage. My conviction on divorce is best explained by Jesus' teaching in Mark 10 -- God's original intent, and continuing desire is that marriage should be the joining of two people who can never be seperated [by divorce], and though God has allowed divorce, it was never His desire, but rather a grace extended to those who were hard-hearted.

Courtship re-births life-long covenant

I hope that courtship will bring a new environment into relationships where covenant really means something, and when you say "I love you. I will be faithful to you. I will protect you. This is for life -- only you, for me, for always." you will fight with everything you have to keep your word.

Unfortunately, in today's society this is not the case, and it's very difficult for one person to keep their word when the other feels no conviction at all in breaking it frequently and continually.

It is my prayer that we will one day return to the culture where everyone only has one romance partner in their whole life. That they will commit to love each other just as Christ loved the church, laying their lives down for each other, selflessly giving 100% and more, caring more for their partners needs than their own. Who would ever want to divorce Christ as a husband?

Further reading

Read about biblical dating, healthy sexuality or other essays on Christianity - covering hell, sex, drinking, gambling, smoking and tithing!

© Copyright 1997-2012, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL,, so that people can find the latest version.
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