Image for What Does the Bible Say about Divorce? 10 Truths About Marriage and Divorce.

What Does the Bible Say about Divorce? 10 Truths About Marriage and Divorce.

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

What does the Bible say about divorce? Through Scripture Jesus teaches us that marriage is good and its purpose is for companionship, sexual enjoyment, and raising godly children. It is such an important commitment that Jesus teaches his followers not to get a divorce, with exceptions on the grounds of sexual immorality or for desertion by an unbelieving spouse. God is gracious with our failures, but those who trust and follow Jesus take his teachings seriously and follow him (John 14:15).

If you personally trust and follow Jesus, it’s important to know what the Bible says about how we live our lives. This includes knowing what the Bible says about marriage and divorce. God gave humanity Scripture as our sure guide to knowing how to truly trust and follow Jesus (2 Tim. 3:16-4:5). If we carefully attach ourselves to the teachings of Scripture, they will help us to see more clearly. Unfortunately, many churches are either not talking about what the Bible teaches about divorce or they give confusing answers based upon current cultural and psychological philosophies.

What does the Bible say about divorce? The following ten truths provide a summary of what the Bible teaches about marriage and divorce.

1. God established marriage and it is good.

One of the most central truths we learn from Scripture is that God’s ways are for our good. God promises a blessing on everyone who delights in his teachings/laws and by them he watches over us and causes us to prosper (Ps. 1:1-6).

One of the first teachings in the Bible, for the benefit of human beings, is how God created marriage. Genesis 2 describes how God created Eve to be Adam’s wife. In a profound summary statement on the purpose and meaning of marriage, Moses, the writer of Genesis, tells us the following:

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24)

What does the Bible say about divorce? “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

By this teaching, God creates the normative paradigm for human beings in history. First, a man will leave his family (father and mother) and become united with a wife. Secondly, they will become one flesh, which means they will be united sexually and in other profound ways. Their relationship will be the foundation of a new family.

This teaching is very important to revisit because more and more young people in North America doubt the value of marriage. Many in their teens and twenties no longer desire marriage. In 2018, only 30% of those aged 18 to 34 were married, whereas, just forty years ago, in 1978, almost 60%—double the rate—were married (click here for more).

For the first time in American history, the majority of those aged 26 to 41 (Millennials) are not married. Furthermore, 44% of Millennials were married in 2019, compared with 61% of Boomers at a comparable age (click here for more). Young adults give several reasons for why they are no longer seeking to be married:

  • The negative experiences that came with the divorces of their parents
  • The desire for sexual relationships outside marriage
  • A desire for co-habitation instead of marriage (15% of young adults ages 25-34 were living with an unmarried partner by 2018)
  • The decreasing desire to have children (click here for more); in 2021 for the first time in American history, more women reached thirty years of age without ever having children than women who reached thirty with children.

In light of these statistics, it is important to remember that God created marriage and it is good.

“God created marriage and it is good.”

According to the Bible, marriage is not a human-made custom, but a divine institution established by God for men and women. God joins couples together in marriage and, as we will see, it is God’s will for marriage to be a permanent and lifelong commitment.

One more clarifying point: The teachings of Scripture on divorce are increasingly unpopular in the Western world, but that doesn’t make them any less true or authoritative for disciples of Jesus. The same goes for biblical teaching on what is marriage in the first place. Biblically, marriage is between a man and woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:4-6). There are examples of polygamous relationships in the Bible, but they are consistently depicted as being very problematic. When it comes to sexual relations between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, this is always described as wrong in the Bible. Thus, even when the government authorizes it, Scripture does not make room for homosexual marriage being something ordained by God (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Lev. 18:22, 20:13). Holding to what the Bible teaches on such matters is bound to bring you into disagreement with people who have been discipled more by the culture than by the Scriptures, but disagreements never give you the green light to set aside love or compassion. For more on how we can cultivate thoughtful, kind relationships with people with whom we disagree, you might look at a book I co-wrote called Conviction and Civility.

2. God made marriage for companionship, sexual enjoyment, and godly offspring.

The goodness of marriage is focused on three key elements.

First, God teaches that marriage is for companionship. Sexual enjoyment is great (see below), but even more fundamentally, marriage is to create a unity or partnership between a man and a woman. Genesis 2:18 focused originally on the man (Adam) that God created and it says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The text goes on to describe the complementary harmony between the sexes when God makes the woman as the man’s helper. God then says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Marriage creates a unity between a man and a woman that provides the blessings of a deep partnership.

What does the Bible say about divorce? “Marriage creates a unity between a man and a woman that provides the blessings of a deep partnership.”

Second, God’s Word tells us that sexual relations outside marriage are forbidden because sexual enjoyment between humans is reserved for a man and woman in marriage alone (Lev. 18:1-30). The entire book called The Song of Songs in the Bible is focused on the sexual enjoyment of a husband and wife.

The book of Proverbs was originally written for young men. It warns them against the inevitable pain and destruction that come from adultery and promiscuity (see Proverbs 7) and praises the delight that comes from faithful marriage, including the sexual satisfaction a couple enjoys (Prov. 5:18-19).

Thirdly, Scripture teaches that God wants marriage to create godly offspring. In a sense, this is the ultimate fulfillment of his original mandate when he created humans. He told us to, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

When we have children, we are fulfilling the ultimate purpose of the original mandate because God ultimately created humans “so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27). The prophet Malachi describes it succinctly:

“And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” (Mal. 2:15)

3. The Bible’s teachings on marriage and divorce should not be imposed on non-Christians.

God’s teachings are the best for everyone. But Christians are not to impose these teachings on non-believers. At the same time, the local church is to uphold God’s teaching and provide accountability for his teaching for those who make up the local church.

In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul explains how this accountability works in the church. From his letter to the Corinthians, we come to understand that there was a couple in the church living in sexual immorality (sex that is not allowed). He chastises the people in the church for not being concerned about the couple’s behavior. Instead of being concerned, they were actually proud of their acceptance of the behavior.

“He chastises the people in the church for not being concerned about the couple’s behavior.”

He explicitly tells them the specific sinful behaviors that they must oppose, but then he adds an important qualifier. He tells them not to focus this accountability on those outside the church “who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.” He teaches that if these Christians did that, they “would have to leave this world (1 Cor. 5:10).

Paul makes it clear that they should hold each other accountable when it comes to sexual sin for those who call themselves Christians within the local church (see Matthew 18:15-17 for more). Yet Paul also makes it clear that it isn’t our responsibility to judge outsiders (1 Cor. 5:12).

This teaching is important because too often Christians are judgmental of the beliefs and practices of non-Christians when it comes to marriage. We hope and pray that they will come to know Jesus and his ways (for his ways are for our best), but we accept that they are not part of the local church and they have not made a commitment to the lifestyle of a disciple.

4. Regardless of people’s past, we should welcome them into our churches.

We cannot unscramble scrambled eggs. Here is what I mean: Many people have divorced and remarried without knowing or being committed to the teachings of Jesus. God wants us to meet them where they are and help them understand and obey his teachings.

In Scripture we find that people came to Jesus and the church from various kinds of issues. The apostle Paul described samples of those lifestyles, including those who came from backgrounds where people had been entrenched in sexual immorality, adultery, and homosexual behavior. Consider the words of the apostle Paul:

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.…And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

What does the Bible say about divorce? “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Paul described people who came into the life of the church and how God changed them through the teachings of Jesus and the discipleship of the church. He describes how these people “were washed, sanctified, and justified.”

While we should desire to uphold God’s truth, it should not be our intent to cause further pain or condemnation to someone who is out of step with God’s Word as they first get to know us. One of the benefits of the gospel is that we receive God’s forgiveness if we will confess our sin and turn to him. People who have experienced divorce and remarriage contrary to God’s teachings before becoming Christians or before desiring to be members of a local congregation should eventually be encouraged to make as much reconciliation for their past actions as is feasible and reasonable. Those with a divorced background will need discipling relationships where they can “work out” their own peace with God through prayer and study. In many cases these people will elect to stay in their current marriage situation, to trust in God’s forgiveness, and to pledge themselves to God’s teaching from this point forward and start fresh.

“In many cases these people will elect to stay in their current marriage situation, to trust in God’s forgiveness, and to pledge themselves to God’s teaching from this point forward and start fresh.”

If our churches are going to be places which both welcome people and disciple them, we must build relationships with people in order to help them know and follow the teachings of Jesus. We cannot insist that people change before first truly coming to know Jesus and engaging in the life of the church. It is wisest, best, and most loving if we follow the example of Jesus who entered into relationships with people and discipled them. Like Jesus we want to disciple people who do not know and follow his teachings, but it all begins with relationships grounded in grace and love.

5. God’s teaching on divorce reflects God’s relationship with us.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that marriage should be honored by all. He explicitly calls out activity that undermines marriage. The underlying reason that he gives for why we should take our marriages seriously is God’s commitment to us. God promises never to leave his disciples or forsake them. Take note of this principle because God wants us to have the same attitude to each other in our marriages.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb. 13:4-6)

What does the Bible say about divorce? God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

An even stronger metaphor to guide us in how we think about marriage is found in the letter to the Ephesians. Paul teaches us that God wants marriage to reflect Jesus’ relationship to the church. Jesus gave himself up for the church and, in return, he calls the church to be committed to him:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (5:31-32) 

Husbands and wives are to love their spouses the way Jesus loved his disciples:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

What does the Bible say about divorce? “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

If we are going to love each other in marriage, the way Jesus loved us, it only makes sense to anticipate Jesus’ teaching against divorce.

Professor Beth Felker Jones puts it this way:

“Marriage, created by God as a “one flesh” union, is meant to be a sign of God’s unbreakable covenant with us. This is an important symbol throughout Scripture: God is compared to a husband and God’s people to a wife. When, by the grace of God, we’re able to keep a marriage together, we get to be symbols—imperfect symbols, but still symbols—of God’s faithfulness to his people. Marriages are supposed to last because they are symbols of God’s lasting love for us.”

6. Jesus teaches that divorce and remarriage results in adulterous relationships.

Jesus puts it starkly in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11-12 in a way that covers both husbands and wives who divorce their spouses:

“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)

“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

What does the Bible say about divorce? “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The default position in Scripture is that marriage is permanent and, because of that permanence, divorce causes subsequent marriages to be adulterous. Stated differently, if human authorities authorize divorce on human grounds, God does not honor it; in his eyes, the marriage bond is still intact. And because it is still intact, the subsequent marriage is adulterous.

This is a hard teaching.

Why would God be so strict, we might wonder?

It’s a good moment to remind ourselves that, by experience and observation over time (not always in the moment), and according to the teaching of Scripture, God’s laws and teachings are meant to bless us and provide the best for God’s people (Ps. 1:1-6).

We are limited in our ability to measure all the impact that divorce has on everyone involved (e.g., when it comes to spouses, children, grandchildren and society). But we know for sure divorce does a lot of damage, especially to children. Here is the summary of a three-decade synthesis of the scientific research on the effects of divorce on children published by The Linacre Quartely in 2014:

“Nearly three decades of research evaluating the impact of family structure on the health and well-being of children demonstrates that children living with their married, biological parents consistently have better physical, emotional, and academic well-being. Pediatricians and society should promote the family structure that has the best chance of producing healthy children. The best scientific literature to date suggests that, with the exception of parents faced with unresolvable marital violence, children fare better when parents work at maintaining the marriage. Consequently, society should make every effort to support healthy marriages and to discourage married couples from divorcing.” (Click here to read more.)

“Society should make every effort to support healthy marriages and to discourage married couples from divorcing.”

As the Brookings Institution explained in 2014, children raised by married parents …

Joe Beam (PhD) and Kimberly Holmes of consulted with a Learning Community of 150+ Senior Minister/Pastors on their research on divorce in August, 2022. They pointed to some other recent findings on the legacy of divorce:

  • After one year, 25% of divorced fathers lack meaningful engagement with their children.
  • After ten years, 50% of divorced fathers lack meaningful engagement with their children.
  • Girls raised in the homes of divorce are more likely to be sexually promiscuous.
  • Children of divorce are more likely to get divorced as adults.

With scientific research this clear, we would naturally expect God, who is wiser than any group of humans, to teach us to uphold marriage and oppose divorce.

Yet, in America divorce rates are sky-high: 45% of marriages end in divorce, and women initiate 80% of them. As Beam and Holmes of point out, too many married couples in crisis, on the whole, don’t try as hard as they can to save the marriage. Yet when they work at the marriage and get through times of crisis, most marriages, over time, will stabilize and experience relative happiness.

“When they work at the marriage and get through times of crisis, most marriages, over time, will stabilize and experience relative happiness.”

From a strictly human research point of view, there is much to commend what the Bible says about marriage.

God’s desire is for marriages to be permanent.

7. Jesus gives an exception: Divorce is authorized in the Bible for sexual immorality and desertion by an unbeliever.

This statement is the traditional Protestant position. Kevin DeYoung puts it this way: “The traditional Protestant position—the position written down in the Westminster Confession and held by most evangelicals—is that divorce is permissible on two grounds: sexual immorality and desertion.”

I too find this position to be in step with the teachings of Scripture. But as the point leader of, I must clarify that the network doesn’t have an official position regarding when divorce is authorized. Our faith statement puts it this way (section 8):

We believe in the present kingdom reign of God, the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people, and the priority of the local church. God’s holiness should lead our churches to reject lifestyles characterized by pride, sexual immorality, homosexuality, easy divorce, idolatry, greed, materialism, gossip, slander, racism, violence and the like.

The leaders in our network stand against “easy divorce” and other ungodly lifestyles, but we do not have a statement on the grounds for divorce.

Yet, I am personally aligned (and so is Harpeth Christian Church, my home church) with the traditional Protestant position. Let’s look at the two key sets of verses that teach us this position.

The first section is taken from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 5:31-32)

What does the Bible say about divorce? “I [Jesus] tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery.”

Here, Jesus gives an exception to the teaching against divorce. If one’s spouse enters into sexual immorality, God allows for, but does not require, divorce.

The second section is taken from the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul begins by re-iterating the teaching of Jesus on the permanence of marriage. He writes:

“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” (1 Cor. 7:10-11)

But then Paul moves on to address something that Jesus and the New Testament do not address elsewhere: what is a disciple of Jesus to do when they are married to a non-believer and the non-believer deserts the believer? Under God’s inspiration, Paul teaches:

“But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” (1 Cor. 7:12)

What does the Bible say about divorce? “If the unbeliever leaves, let it be so.”

Three things stand out in this text. First, the believer is to let the non-believer go. The believer is not to pursue the non-believer and try to make them stay married. Second, Paul teaches that the brother or sister is “not bound in such circumstances”; they are free from the bounds of marriage. Thirdly, I also believe that it is wise to assume that when a non-believer deserts the marriage, they will almost certainly end up in another sexual relationship. Even to this day, most people leave relationships to become involved with someone else. In this sense, Paul’s exception may be understandable as a natural extension of the exception granted for adultery.

These two exceptions show us that while permanence in marriage is God’s ideal, in a sinful world this ideal will sometimes be corrupted. God allows divorce only if one’s spouse enters into sexual immorality or if one is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever deserts and abandons the believer. In such cases the non-adulterous or non-deserting person would be free to seek a divorce and remarriage but is not required to do so. I would encourage a person even in this instance to consider seeking reconciliation in the marriage.

8. Sexual immorality is a sexual relationship outside the biological husband/wife marriage bond.

Since sexual immorality is the primary exception to the no-divorce teaching, it is important to understand what qualifies as sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18 provides a summary statement on sexual immorality:

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

What does the Bible say about divorce? “Flee from sexual immorality.”

The Greek word porneia is translated in the New Testament as “sexual immorality.” Porneia is used to describe all sexual relations outside the husband-wife marriage bond, including sexual relations before marriage (fornication), sexual relations outside marriage (adultery), homosexual sex, incest, etc. This Greek word was used in the first-century Jewish context to summarize all the prohibitions in Leviticus 18, as well as the other sexual laws in the Old Testament. It is helpful to review the list from Leviticus 18 to understand the primary expressions of sexual immorality.

Jesus also teaches that those who intentionally and purposefully engage in lust are engaging in a form of sexual immorality:

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28)

The formation of the Greek behind Jesus’ words lets us know that he is not talking about fleeting thoughts or ideas that naturally come into our minds. It is an active, intentional, sexual coveting of someone other than your spouse.

The kind of lust Jesus is talking about reflects a mindset where a person may not be involved in physical sexual relationships, but they mentally live in that world. Their minds focus, even if secretly, on sexual immorality.

“The kind of lust Jesus is talking about reflects a mindset where a person may not be involved in physical sexual relationships, but they mentally live in that world.”

Some believe that the willful, ongoing, and regular practice of pornography might be equated to sexual immorality as a grounds for divorce. I have spent time with elders who have witnessed cases of women who met with them because they believed that their husbands were engaging in the equivalency of an adulterous relationship because of their addictions to pornography.

This is a tricky point because, at a practical level, almost everyone could accuse their spouse of some form of lust at some point in their marriage. And the majority of men and women in America have viewed pornography. In my opinion, most of this does not equate to the kind of sexual immorality that Jesus was likely referring to when discussing grounds for divorce (as a review of Leviticus 18 will show).

But what about an in-depth, life-altering addiction to pornography?

The women who met with the elder group reviewed the following facts with the elders as they sought the support of the elders for divorce:

  • Their husbands were engaged in viewing pornography and masturbating over it for hours every day.
  • Their husbands would not accept help from professionals and/or stay with it.
  • Their husbands would not respond to accountability from them or the leaders of the church.
  • Their husbands’ behavior—springing from the addiction—was very dysfunctional, including their unwillingness to have normal sexual relations with their spouse.
  • The behavior was long standing.

The elders made the decision to support these women in their belief that this repeated behavior was the equivalent to the sexual immorality Jesus had in mind when he declared it to be grounds for divorce. I believe they made the right decision.

“Those who embrace sexually immoral lifestyles are warned in the Bible that, if they persist in it, they will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Those who embrace sexually immoral lifestyles are warned in the Bible that, if they persist in it, they will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

Those who struggle with these lifestyle practices need to repent, and many need to seek immediate help to stop before it gets harder and harder to repent and turn from it.

9. Abuse often necessitates separation.

We have now come to the most common objection to what the Bible teaches about divorce. What does Scripture teach us about emotional, physical, or other forms of abuse in a marriage?

Under inspiration, the apostle Paul describes God’s attitude to those who abuse others:

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.” (1 Thess. 4:3-6)

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.”

God’s word is clear: Anyone who wrongs or takes advantage of a brother or sister is committing sin, and God himself will punish those who commit such sins. So we must draw some significant conclusions.

First, when there is abuse or ongoing and destructive sin in a Christian marriage, intervention is necessary. After godly counsel, separation may also be required, for a time, until the safety of those being abused can be established.

Second, church leaders should urge ongoing Christian counseling and prayer when separation is involved because the goal of such separation is reconciliation.

Third, abuse in its various forms is terrible sin which necessitates intervention, but there is no clear, undisputed evidence that, in and of itself, abuse is a biblical basis for divorce and remarriage. People involved in such circumstances need wise and courageous support from the members and leaders of the church. 1 Corinthians 5:11 sets out two options when there is a separation: They “must remain unmarried or else be reconciled.” The difficulty of these options for many means churches must step up and be the family and support that people in such situations need.

10. Churches should seek to excel at supporting and affirming celibacy for singles.

Jesus lived as a single, celibate man; so did the apostle Paul. This is a noble, high calling. Celibacy is the path that many millions of Christians follow now and have followed in history. The apostle Paul teaches that the celibate life has many advantages (1 Cor. 7:32-35).

Jesus describes this kind of life by talking about eunuchs. A eunuch in the ancient world was a single person who did not have sexual relations. Some people (a small number) were born incapable of sexual relations and sometimes people were castrated, etc. Jesus described it this way:

“For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matt. 19: 12).

There are many people who obey the teachings of Jesus and, for the sake of the kingdom of God, it means that they must live like eunuchs: single and celibate. This teaching shows us that sexual fulfillment is not an essential to a full life. But if one of the reasons for marriage is companionship (see point 2 above), single people who live celibate lifestyles are going to need special support. This is also the path that many same-sex attracted disciples of Jesus choose.

“If one of the reasons for marriage is companionship, single people who live celibate lifestyles are going to need special support.”

For those who want to truly help disciples of Jesus who make the courageous decisions to live this kind of lifestyle, we need to help them with the companionship they need. Churches should seek to create a church community that provides true support—like that found in a close family—for those who follow Jesus as celibate disciples. I recommend the website for substantive guidance on this quest by high quality Christian thinkers, scholars, and church leaders.

Action Steps…

Many of you who have chosen to read this post are seeking help in a hard marriage. As you read about what the Bible says, you want to follow it, but you know you need help. Here are some recommended action steps that you can take today.

  1. Share your struggle with leaders in the local church.God wants us to rely on the elders and other leaders in the local church to help us in times of trial (James 5:13-16).
  2. If you are in crisis, attend a Couples Turn Around Workshop. These are conducted by MarriageHelper with over 70% success rate (see or call (615) 472-1161).
  3. Find a local Celebrate Recovery. This is a free support ministry that can be found in most cities to help us with all of our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. You will get training in lifestyle habits that will help you in your marriage challenges.
  4. Find biblical counselors. Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to find Christian counselors who will uphold this teaching on marriage and divorce—making the marriage their client, not just one person or the other—but you can find them. Counselors who are truly committed to the teachings of Scripture can be very helpful in restoring difficult marriages.

Online Resources

  1. Online resources for marriage in crisis:
  2. Online resources with a biblical viewpoint on marriage and divorce:
  3. Online resources from

5 Recommended Books on Marriage

  1. Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?, by Gary Thomas
  2. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs
  3. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller
  4. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by Gary Chapman
  5. The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle, by Mike Mason

Come hear Bobby Harrington speak on how hard conversations require hope, at the 2022 National Gathering in Nashville.