Divorce: You Can’t Control The Choices Of Others

Part five in a series on divorce and remarriage.

As I said last week: Perhaps one of the most difficult Scriptures dealing with divorce or separation is found in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband, and a husband is not to divorce his wife.”

This clearly states that those who are divorced and/or separated, unless “scripturally released,” should not remarry. I believe that if this Scripture was fully acknowledged it would create more serious consideration before marriage and would be a great deterrent to divorce. There would be fewer divorces without cause and more reconciliations.

Lack of regard for this Scripture has taken us to the other extreme—no fault divorce. However, if the one that left is an unbeliever and shows no desire for reconciliation after a significant amount of time, verse fifteen offers direction: “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” First and foremost, God’s will is that we walk in integrity, follow His principles, and use wisdom during the journey. He will lead you, but in His time.

The next Scripture to consider is Matthew 19:9, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Again, God reveals his nature concerning commitment to a spouse. Clearly, a spouse who has been unfaithful releases the other and they are no longer bound. It is unfortunate that all divorced individuals are referred to as “divorced”—it would be helpful and less confusing for those whose spouse was unfaithful to be referred to as “released.” However, unfaithfulness does not mean that the marriage cannot be restored if both the husband and wife seek God’s guidance.

The next Scripture to consider is 1 Corinthians 7:17, “You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you…” (NLT). We are to use every situation for God’s glory. If single, use that opportunity to build and strengthen character, and care for the things of God. If separated, use that time to seek God more fervently and pray for guidance, direction, and restoration if warranted. If divorced, use that experience to grow while asking God what good can come from it. Your marriage may be restored, or maybe you’ll minister to others who have gone through a divorce. God’s desires to use our brokenness. In fact, it is in our weakness that His strength is revealed…be assured that all things work together for good as we commit our lives to Him.

Lastly, you can’t control choices others make. You may be able to influence them or encourage them, but ultimately the choice to leave or to stay is up to them. God has given us the freedom to choose, and in marriage the choices of one will affect the life of the other.

If your spouse has left, and you’ve waited and done all that you can do biblically, I believe that God will consider your heart, not your circumstance. King David was not able to build the temple because of his past—he was a man of war—but God said, “Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart” (2 Chronicles 6:8).

Although he did not build the temple, God looked upon him as if he did. In the same way, your marriage may not be restored, but if your heart is right, God will honor and bless that decision. He can rebuild your life and open doors you might not have thought possible.

Once I committed my life to Christ, my life changed dramatically. Did I make bad decisions along the way, yes, I did, but I was quick to repent and seek God’s help. Had I became angry and unwilling to change, only the Lord knows where I’d be today. The choices we make today will influence the quality of our life tomorrow. Choose wisely today because the consequences of bad choices take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay.

More points next week.