It would be difficult for anyone with any reasoning capacity and reasonable knowledge of the Bible to argue that "no-fault divorce" is a good thing biblically. I think it is abundantly clear that divorce, both biblically and in society, is a bad thing. The Scriptures describe the marriage bond as two becoming one. This is more than a mere metaphor. There are bonds formed that make a married couple one body, one soul, one spirit. Paul warned against sex with a prostitute for this very reason (1 Corinthians 6:15-17). Divorce, then, is a very literal rending of a union. It's akin to tearing off a body part. When Jesus was asked under what conditions a man could divorce his wife, He said, "What God has put together let no man separate." (Matthew 19:3-6)
In that conversation, they went on to ask Him about Moses and divorce.
They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." (Matthew 19:7-8)
Okay, so, where are we? We know that the Bible does not favor divorce. We also know that "because of your hardness of heart" there are cases in which divorce is allowed. In this passage Jesus seems to speak of sexual immorality as a reason (although I would urge great care in how you read that). Later, Paul speaks of abandonment as another (1 Corinthians 7:12-15). Modern views throw in abuse, although, again, I would urge great caution in defining "abuse" for this purpose.
Given that the Bible is, at the core, opposed to divorce, any Bible-based church would urge couples to "stay together". And for the most part this is good and right. It is, I would suggest, also too short-sighted. I mean, if it stops there, it falls short.
Too often we tell wives to "stay with your husband" and then walk away, patting ourselves on the back for having upheld God's standards. We tell husbands, "Live with your wife in an understanding way" and congratulate ourselves for holding the line, not giving in to modern "no-fault divorce". We do so to our own shame.
It is true that couples wishing to live lives in accordance with Scripture should "stay together", but don't think that means "remain in close proximity". It means to stay together. Marriage is a union. Divorce rends that union. And mere nearness does not make it a union. If we fail to involve ourselves with the situation, counseling him and her to change, to conform to God's instructions, to be the husband and wife they ought to be, to give to their wives and husbands what God prescribes -- to be of one mind, one body, one soul, one spirit -- then we are doing them no favors by simply urging, "Stay together." It is the problem of James. "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" (James 2:15-16) If we tell a struggling couple "Stay together" and don't give them the support they need to remain united, what good is that?
We are commanded to be involved with one another. We are to love one another (John 13:35), bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), serve one another (Galatians 5:13). We are to teach and admonish (Colossians 3:16), be kind (Ephesians 4:32), encourage and build up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and exhort (Hebrews 3:13). We are supposed to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). "Stay together" falls way short for a couple having marital difficulties.
Yes, married couples should stay together. But they needn't do it alone. And the bare instruction -- "Stay together" -- shouldn't be all they get from you and me. It should be the beginning of a united process in which we come along side both of them and stir them to love and good deeds in biblical methods of staying together. It's what each of us would need in similar circumstances. It is God's command.
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