My motives weren't always perfect; But, about a year ago, I wanted my life to line up with God's word simply because I knew I couldn't afford to alienate the only source of power and love strong enough to get me the rough parts in my 2nd marriage of 25 years and another possible divorce. When the stakes are that high, we need our relationship with God to be strong.
Before going into the reasons the Bible gives for divorce, which aren't nearly as black and white as some may think, I'd like to share with you the two conclusions I have drawn according to my personal interpretation and talks with various pastor/ministers of the bible.
The first concerns this passage from Malachi 2:16 : “‘I hate divorce’, says the Lord God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”
Although the Bible says God hates divorce, it does not mean that God hates you, if you are divorced. I came to think about that statement in a whole new way when I went through my own divorce at the age of 25 and my first wife. In fact, after experiencing first-hand the pain and suffering divorce causes, who wouldn't say: “I hate divorce!”? I hated having my home torn apart. I despised the rejection I felt. I was crushed by the grief and loss my kids went through. Who isn't? No wonder a loving God who would go to such great lengths to spare us the painful consequences of sin that he even sent his son to die for us, hates divorce! What loving father wouldn't? The words “I hate divorce” spring from God's compassion, not condemnation.
Second, I came to realize that God valued me more than he valued my marriage. Marriage is instituted by God for people’s protection and well-being. It’s meant to be a safe place that serves the needs God wired into us when he made us: needs for intimacy and union and procreation as well as the need to mature and grow to become more loving people. It’s meant to serve our needs by providing a safe place for us to thrive. We were not created to serve it. It was created to serve us. People are what matter to God, not rule-keeping.
I drew that conclusion from Matthew 12:1-8:
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."  He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.  Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?  I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.  If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
In other words, God’s mercy trumps God’s laws. You can't read the gospels and all the accounts of Jesus healing on the Sabbath or fraternizing with the “unclean” and miss that! God’s first priority is to always love people. They rank higher than the institutions or the laws that are meant to protect them. Jesus would never allow someone’s dignity to be crushed so that a rule might be upheld. He is not in favor of marriage (keeping a legal vow) at the expense of someone’s dignity (abuse).
It has helped me to keep the compassionate nature of God in mind when considering the Bible’s accounts of when divorce is permissible. However, I don't want to give the impression that God is in favor of easy divorce, or that he takes marriage lightly.
Too often, Christians have swung from one extreme to the other. On one extreme, professing Christians have declared that if one's spouse is continually noncompliant and resistant to changing its a reason for changing marriage partners. Well-intentioned advice is not always good advice. It is said that after an allotted time... If that spouse is continually showing lackluster regard for the unhappy spouses personal values then it is valid time to let go. That it is then scripturally sound for the unhappy spouse to simply give the non complying spouse a "so called"
choice. Which is in reality... ("The Ultimatum").
The resisting partner can either become compliant and match the stated values of the unhappy partner or face divorce. This non complying spouse is "nicely"
told to either change, or to basicly move aside and make room for a better, more compliant, appreciative person to take their place.
Question, is it ever anyone's place to tell an unhappy spouse that their un-honored reasons/needs are grounds for a disillusion of their marriage? See below, Bibical reasons for divorce.
On another extreme Christians have used their narrow interpretation of the Bible to condemn those who are in situations they themselves would not be able to endure. Again I say, many things aren't nearly as black and white as some may want to think.
Every marriage is different. Every situation is different. And, Every single situation must be painstakingly qualified before advice is ever given or taken. There can be many gray areas that must be explored and addressed and possibilities that should be considered. Every individual should clearly try to determine where they are in relation to what is 'right' according to the bible or look to their own personal definition of a higher power.
In my case I am inclined to follow my personal higher power, being God and His given word. Other people may have a completely different interpretation of a higher power, and you may choose to seek that higher power in order to help you determine your actions and make personal choices. Your higher power could be Zen, Buta, Mohammad, E.S.P., Batman, The lone Ranger, an 8 Ball, a marriage website whatever.
There is not a 1 solution or a simple theme to follow for marriage problems... There are no One 'Size fits ALL' solutions for dealing with a non complying spouse.
For those that are interested in biblical interpretations, this is what Jesus would say to both of the extreme biblical interpretations mentioned above: Luke 11:46 “Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.’”
So, finally, here are 4 biblical reasons the Bible gives for permitting divorce:
But remember... Forgiveness is always an option. When does the Bible say divorce is permissible
? Bible Reason #1: Divorce is permissible in the case of marital unfaithfulness
Jesus permitted divorce in the case of marital unfaithfulness, which is defined as illicit sexual activity. In such cases, adulterous sex breaks the marriage covenant, giving grounds for dissolving the marriage legally through divorce.
“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
The expression, “marital unfaithfulness,” in the original Greek text of this verse, is the word porneia, from which we get the English word, pornography. Porneia referred to sexual sin of any kind--adultery, homosexuality; incest, pornography, etc. The Bible says that behavior like these are morally wrong. That could also include an emotional affair with someone that includes kissing, hugging or fondling, but stops just short of sexual intercourse. Exactly where the line is that makes divorce permissible is especially hard to find when you consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Bible Reason #2
: Divorce is permissible in cases of abandonment
This is spelled out by Paul in I Corinthians 7:15 where he says that if one spouse leaves another, the abandoned person is no longer bound to the marriage.
“If a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him....But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:13, 15
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul originally specified abandonment by unbelievers as the grounds for dissolving a marriage, since some in that church were experiencing rejection by non-Christian spouses. However, abandonment can be perpetrated even by someone claiming to be a follower of Christ. In either case, the one who abandons a spouse breaks covenant faithfulness by failing to “cleave” or “cling to” that spouse—which is the very foundation of marriage (Gen. 2:24).
In the context of I Corinthians 7:15, Paul is referring, specifically, to spouses who are not Christ followers abandoning husbands/wives who are, but the broader principle here is that God allows a spouse who is abandoned—for any reason—to pursue divorce.
Keep in mind that sometimes that abandonment is not a physical relocation, but emotional distance created by an addiction to drugs or alcohol or abuse. Scripture doesn't encourage divorce for these reasons, but it does allow it.
Obviously, God would prefer that two people work towards a marriage where both parties love and nurture each other, and that takes more than one person’s commitment.
There are a couple of other reasons the Bible gives for divorce, but because of the size and overwhelming content of this post I'm simply going defer to another time.
Also see; What does the Bible say about divorce? PART 2