Ground or Grounds for Divorce

Kim (fictitious name) came to me for counseling. She was weeping uncontrollably. She was finally able to tell me that she was afraid that she was going to hell. I asked her why that she thought that. She said that her ex-husband, Lynn (fictitious name) had abused her emotionally and physically and would not give her money for food or clothes. She had put up with this for years. She did not work, so her mom and sister provided for her secretly because Kim was so afraid of Lynn. A pastor told Kim that if she divorced him and remarried, that she would have committed adultery and go to hell. He explained to her that she didn’t have grounds because Lynn had not committed adultery. Kim did divorce Lynn and remarried a Christian man who was kind to her.

I am sure that you could share a similar story either about yourself or someone you know. There are women who have stayed in an abusive relationship based on this false teaching and ended up losing their lives from the physical abuse or lose their minds from the mental abuse. No one can tell me that the teaching that Kim received is the heart of my God, Who is Love!

So, what does the Bible say? “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money (Ex. 21:10&11).” The “free without money” was because it was a slave. In the Old Testament, we see that a man may have had more than one wife but Jesus refuted that belief. The truths in the above verses were common knowledge to the people of that day. The man was to provide his wife with food, clothing, and the duty of marriage (conjugal rights.) If he did not provide these three things, she had grounds for divorce. Notice “conjugal rights.” This term means sexual rights or privileges implied by and involved in the marriage relationship; a form of love that can be defined as intimacy and commitment with or without passion; can include intercourse but also affection and care. Please read 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 ( Amplified Bible). It says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights (goodwill, kindness, and what is due her as his wife), and likewise the wife to her husband….” Most wedding vows (covenant before God and man) include the words, “I will love, honor, and cherish you until death do us part.” We also read in Ephesians 5:28&29, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” “Nourisheth” means “to feed.” “Cherisheth” means “to keep warm.” Well, I’m sure you see the same requirements in the New Testament for the marriage relationship that you saw in the Old.

In Matthew 19:1-9. Jesus is asked, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” This was referencing “an any cause divorce.” Deuternomy 24:1 says, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” Jesus replied that Moses gave them that right because of the “hardness of their hearts … but from the beginning it was not so:” (Mt. 19:8). “Hardness of their hearts” is the person who cannot forgive or live in proper relation to others in Christ’s body. It is a stubborn refusal to repent and stop breaking marriage vows. What are the vows? “…to love, provide food, clothe, cherish, honor…” Jesus then says in verse 9, “Whosoever shall put away his wife (divorces her), except it be for fornication (sexual immorality), and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Jesus has mentioned “hardness of hearts” and “fornication.” He did not mention another ground that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:15. “But if the unbelieving partner separates let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.” We see five grounds for divorce: if food, clothing, and conjugal rights are not provided; fornication; and the mate has grounds if the unbelieving partner departs.

I counseled with a young mother who was struggling with the temptation to drink again until intoxicated. This is how she had coped most of her life with the emotional pain that she had suffered. Getting drunk was the only peace that she seemingly could find. She had been abused by a step-father; given away by her mom; sexually taken advantage of by a large number of men; suffered pains of rejection and abandonment; and the ongoing sense of worthlessness. She received Jesus into her heart, and I taught her who she was in Christ. She learned her authority over the demons that tempted her to get drunk. She is now a different woman. She smiled in our last session and said, “When I’m tempted to get drunk, I simply say, ‘In Jesus’ name, satan go,’ and he goes.” Now, she knows what Peace is all about; it is not an addiction, but Peace is Jesus!


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