Don’t divorce your spouse except for adultery.
I was judgmental towards divorced Christians until I became one. It takes two people to make a marriage, but only one to end it. My worst nightmare had come upon me. I had always felt I could survive anything, as a Christian, except divorce. That would surely be the end of my usefulness to God. I always knew God hated divorce, but not the real reason why. God hates it because he desires godly offspring (Mal 2:15). The Bible gives three legitimate reasons for ending a marriage or re-marriage—adultery, death of spouse, or an unbelieving spouse who leaves.
I got married when I was 21. I was a “believer” in word only, but the Spirit of Christ was not in me. Doctrinally speaking, that means my first marriage had not been put together by God, because I was not a true child of God yet. It is the flesh and the devil that control the lives and wills of unbelievers and false disciples. (Jn 8:44, Rom 8:9, 2 Tim 2:26, 1 Jn 3:10-12, Rev 12:9) I asked her to marry me, thinking that would stop the fighting. Even still, I had sincere love for her, and I wanted to be one of those couples still walking hand in hand down the beach, when we were ninety. We became pretty active in church and had survived many challenges over the years like foolish career decisions, financial troubles, love language differences, many moves, public slander from our gym business loss, twin babies born pre-maturely, and even an emotional affair on her part. However, my growing faith in Christ broke the camel’s back. I did not want to lose my marriage, and I was willing to do just about anything to save it, but it was no use. She dug her heels in and would not come with me into the deeper waters. Jesus said He came with a sword to divide (Mat 10:34) and sometimes that even happens in marriage (1 Cor 7:15). I had no choice but to press on with Jesus at all costs (Lk 14:26). I was terrified of divorce, but to help me see that the divorce was not going to be the death of my usefulness to God, He showed me three godly men with very successful ministries, all who were left by their wives, two of whom remarried. Dr. Charles Stanley of Intouch.org, Steven Arterburn of New Life Live, and Os Hillman of Marketplace Leaders.
My first marriage wasn’t God’s will for my life, but He allowed it and then redeemed it (my five amazing children, my extraordinary relationship with Christ, and my ministry to hurting people!). The divorce was beyond painful, but God used every bit of it for my brokenness, humility, faith building, and character development. God took the worst thing that has ever happened to me and turned it into so much good. Give thanks to God who can forgive and redeem your very worst disasters!
God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy and He hardens whom He wants to harden (Rom 9:18). Sometimes God softens a person’s heart and sometimes He hardens it even more. He even occasionally removes spouses that are standing in the way of His will. He removed Lot’s wife because of disobedience (Gen 19:26) and Abigail’s husband because of foolishness and wickedness (1 Sam 25:25-38). A person is not bound in such circumstances. Such was the case for me, but DO NOT GET AHEAD OF GOD if you are in this situation! Surrender your will and completely trust God, letting Him direct the final outcome, not you! Don’t react if your marriage is bad - instead, embrace the brokenness which God will use. Pray for a healthy and restored marriage. Keep the faith to stay married and just allow Him to “Rom 8:28” your marriage and you will win either way.