CHRISTIAN VIEW ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
1. MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
Marriage is a provision of God whereby a man and a woman enter into a lifelong relationship73 through a marriage ceremony which is recognized by the church and legally sanctioned by the state.
Marriage establishes a “one-flesh” relationship74 which goes beyond a physical union and is more than either a temporary relationship of convenience intended to provide personal pleasure or a contract which binds two people together in a legal partnership. Marriage establishes an emotional and spiritual oneness which enables both partners to respond to the spiritual, physical and social needs of the other.75 It provides the Biblical context for the procreation of children.
Marriage is to be an exclusive relationship that is maintained in purity.76 It is intended by God to be a
permanent relationship. It is a witness to the world of the relationship between Christ and His Church.77
Marriage requires a commitment of love, perseverance and faith. Because of its sanctity and permanence, marriage should be treated with seriousness and entered into only after counsel and prayer for God’s guidance. Christians should marry only those who are believers.78 An individual who becomes a believer after marriage should remain with his or her partner in peace, and should give witness to the gospel in the home.79
The Bible holds family life as a position of trust and responsibility. The home is a stabilizing force in society, a place of nurture, counsel, and safety for children.80
Marriage can only be broken by “porneia” which is understood as marital unfaithfulness81 involving adultery, homosexuality, or incest. While the Scriptures give evidence that the marriage vow and “one- flesh” union are broken by such acts, and therefore do recognize the breaking of the marriage relationship, the Scriptures do recommend that the most desirable option would be reconciliation.82
We believe that divorce is not God’s intention. It is God’s concession to the “hardness of men’s hearts.”83
We, therefore, discourage divorce by all lawful means and teaching. Our objective is reconciliation and the healing of the marriage union where possible. Marital unfaithfulness should not be considered so much an occasion or opportunity for divorce but rather an opportunity for Christian grace, forgiveness, and restoration. Divorce in our society is a termination of a marriage through a legal process authorized by the State. While the Church recognizes this legal process as an appropriate means to facilitate the permanent separation of spouses, the Church restricts the idea of divorce, in the sense of dissolution of marriage, to reasons specified by the Scriptures.
The weight of the Biblical record is negative and the explicit statement is made, “God hates divorce.”84 Divorce is more than an action of the courts which breaks the legal contract between the partners in a marriage. It is also the fracture of an unique human relationship between a male and a female. Divorce has profound consequences for the children. Divorce is evidence of the sinful nature expressed in human failure. Jesus gives one explicit cause for the dissolution of marriage: “porneia” or marital unfaithfulness.
Where all attempts at reconciliation have failed and a divorce has been finalized, we extend Christ’s love and compassion.
Remarriage is the union, legally sanctioned by the State, of a man and woman, one or both of whom have been previously married. It is regarded as acceptable by the Scriptures in the event of the death of the former spouse. It is also regarded as acceptable when there has been sexual immorality on the part of the former partner or the former partner has remarried.
73 Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:6
74 Matt. 19:5; Mal. 2:15
75 Gen. 2:18, 1 Cor. 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4
76 Eph. 5:3,26,27
77 Eph. 5:25,31,32
78 2 Cor. 6:6:14,15
79 1 Cor. 7:12-14,16
80 Eph. 6:4
81 Matt. 5:32; 19:9
82 Eph. 4:32
83 Matt. 19:8