Answering Tough Questions on Divorce and Remarriage


When is divorce permissible?

There are legitimate circumstances in which a person can get a divorce and can move on because the other party has violated the marriage covenant, namely on account of unfaithfulness and desertion (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:31-32; 19:7-9; Mark 10:2-9; Luke 16:19; 1 Cor. 7:10-16). There are other sins against the marriage that can rise to the same level of covenant unfaithfulness as adultery and desertion, including physical abuse, refusal to work and support the family, and illegal activities that threaten the safety of the family.

Paul and Jesus always make clear one point: Divorce is always because of the hardness of our hearts. Men particularly in the culture in which Paul was writing would put a way a woman for any or every reason, and Paul and Jesus are putting a stop to that. They are putting a stop to men treating women as thought they were a possession, and saying, “You cannot try to look for loopholes by which you can do away with one woman and marry another.” That is the basic premise and we should follow that edict today. That is the spirit of the law.

In any situation, we cannot say, “Ok you made a mistake, you are unfaithful, you are out!” No, that is being hardhearted. Even in that circumstance the greater good is always reconciliation. Forgiveness. The point here is not to look for a loophole, the point is to try to preserve marriage, if at all possible. In 1 Corinthians 7, therefore, Paul also says that if the unbeliever is willing to stay do not get a divorce (v. 13). The reconciliation that comes through faith in Christ ultimately becomes benchmark for all of our relationships.

My husband wants a divorce even though there are no biblical grounds. How do I convince another Christian to reconcile? The “olive branch” has been extended many times. What should I do?

Keep praying. Ultimately it is God that changes the heart. But I think that all too often we as Christians fall for cultural ideas. That idea would be God has given me marriage to make me happy. Perhaps God has not given the marriage to make one happy, but rather to make one holy. This is a radical concept of marriage, but I think that is God’s call, it is to holiness in marriage and that trumps the pursuit of mere happiness.

What has happened is we think that love is a feeling. When we do not have the feeling the whole thing is just too much effort. The truth of the matter is this: love is not a feeling, love is a commitment. Feelings ebb and flow. The commitment should never change.

You cannot change anybody’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

Perhaps right now it seems the person has closed his own heart but God can do what seems to us impossible. God ultimately is the one that moves hearts. The proverb that says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). If that is true of the king, it is true of every one of us.

You ultimately got to rest in this: If your spouse is genuinely a believer then he will come to his senses, recognizing that to be a believer, you first have to say, “I’m a sinner.” Secondly, you have to say, “I’m willing to repent of my sin,” which is to say, “I want to turn and follow God and do it His way.” When you do that, you’ve received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, you are no longer Lord of your life; Christ is the Lord of your life, and you want to follow Him in obedience. And even if we cannot find an ounce of satisfaction in a marriage, it is not about selfishness, it is about selflessness that we are called to as Christians.

I got divorced as an unbeliever. The divorce was without biblical grounds. Now I am a believer. What obligation do I have to my ex-wife with respect to reconciling the marriage?

I think that as long as the door to reconciliation remains open I would pursue reconciliation. I would do it in a way that is glorifying to God, because as a new believer, you are a new creation in Christ. In fact, as a new believer, when you are baptized, you are symbolizing that you were buried to your old life, raised to newness of life through His resurrection power. That needs to be manifest to your ex-wife, that there has been a change in you, a change that is not just articulated by the words you speak, but a change that is demonstrated by both your life and your love. I would pursue reconciliation. Obviously, you cannot force it. You cannot force anyone else to reconcile. Reconciliation at the end of the day is always going to be a two-way street. It takes someone that is willing to forgive and someone that is wanting to be forgiven, if those two aspects aren’t there, reconciliation doesn’t take place. But I think that as long as the door to reconciliation remains open I would pursue that. Once that door is closed, if it is closed through death or remarriage, then you cannot unscramble the egg. Right now, in this instance, there is still a possibility, and I think as a Christian you want to pursue that possibility.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, please see the following:

Biblical Grounds for Divorce and Remarriage by Michael F. Ross

The Divorced Pastor: Is He the Husband of One Wife? by Michael F. Ross

Blog adapted from “When is divorce permissible?” “My husband wants a divorce even though there’s no grounds; what should I do?” and “I got divorced as an unbeliever. Now I’m saved, what obligation do I have to my ex-wife?


Islamic Culture’s Denigration of Women

Islam, women Christ

Robert Spencer director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) as well as The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran was guest on the March 2, 2016 edition of the Bible Answer Man broadcast. Robert was asked a variety of questions related to the topic of Islam. The following are some highlights from the discussion.

Hank Hanegraaff: I want to ask you about Islam and women because there seems to be a cognitive dissonance in society, particularly Western society, when it comes to, on the one hand, being very, very attuned to the rights of women, the equality of women, and yet in Islam, which today is being touted in a politically correct way, there are not the same kind of rights for women in Islam that there are for women in Christianity or Western Civilization at large.

Robert Spencer: No, they’re certainly aren’t, Hank and it’s very clear, Islam allows for polygamy, which devalues and dehumanizes women, commodifies them. Islam allows for easy divorce for men, all a man has to say to a woman to divorce her is you are divorced—talaq—and that’s it. If he says it three times it’s irrevocable and the woman has to actually go and be married by somebody else and divorced by him before she can go back to her husband. This rule is in the Qur’an and made there because it’s so easy to divorce a woman in Islam that it’s often done by men in a fit of anger and then they make up, he rescinds it the next day, but if he does that three times, then they can’t be remarried, until she remarries and divorces somebody else. It’s an absurd rule. It’s in the Qur’an. Also, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. Above all, I’m sorry not above all first, but first the inheritance is less for a daughter than for a son. And above all, there is wife beating. If a man fears disobedience, not even that the woman is disobedient but he fears disobedience from her, then he is to give her warnings, send her to a separate bed, and then third beat her. Now, spousal abuse, of course, is something that is found everywhere among all cultures and all countries, but only in Islam is it given divine sanctions, such that in Islamic courts, Sharia courts, if a woman comes in and says, my husband’s beating me, they’ll say, well you need to work harder to please him. They’re not going to say, you have any human rights to avoid this beating.

Hank: Reading USA Today this morning, there’s an article titled, “Shedding Light on Honor Killings,” and this has to do with four years ago an online wedding video that went viral cost three brothers their lives. The video shows the brothers dancing and women clapping at a wedding party in Northern Pakistan, and a council of elders issued a death sentence against the pair as well as four women and a twelve-year-old girl. Their crime? Well, it was beginning to be a dishonor on the families by violating a strict local code against men and women mingling. Talk about honor killing and how pandemic that is within Islam.

Robert: Honor killing is an extraordinary phenomenon that is rooted in Islamic teachings. The idea is that this is particularly something that victimizes young women. If they are considered to have committed an act of immorality, which could include being raped because in the Islamic scheme of things if a young woman is raped, it’s her fault. This is the understanding behind the veiling of women. Men are considered to be unable to control their temptations and so if a woman wants to make sure not to be raped then she has to veil and cover herself up and if she is attacked, sexually assaulted, then it’s her fault, and her responsibility. The honor of the family can then be cleansed by killing her, and this happens all too often. As a matter of fact, there are many countries in the Islamic world, where there are lesser penalties for honor killings. If a person commits murder, then he’s punished for murder. But, if he can establish that he did it because of honor, to cleanse the family’s honor, then he gets a reduced sentence, and sometimes no sentence at all. This comes directly from the idea that is enshrined in Islamic law that there is absolutely no penalty for a parent who kills a child.

Hank: What about the women that say that the burka, the veiling, an act of liberation for them?

Robert: Well, this is part of the deceptive campaign that Islamic supremacists have undertaken in the West to fool people into thinking that all these things are benign, to make them more acceptable to the West, as well as to make converts. The thing about it is that the veil might be somebody’s individual choice, there’re so many individuals in the world, that I’m sure there are many women who decided to veil, but the fact is that there is a long history of women who have been brutalized, victimized, even killed for not wanting to wear the veil. It is very much something that is a tool of violent intimidation and women find themselves brutalized on the basis of this threat of what will happen to them if they don’t wear it. So, when I hear women saying this is my free choice, I think well that’s wonderful but what about all the women who try to exercise their free choice in the other direction and are no longer with us? Even in the Western world Aqsa Parvez was a teenage girl in Mississauga, Ontario Canada. 2007 or 2008 she was murdered by her father and brother for refusing to wear the head scarf. There were two girls in the Dallas area who were killed by their father for adopting Western values and having non-Muslim boyfriends. This kind of thing happens far more than people realize in the West and certainly it is ramped in the Islamic world. A child’s life—a girl child in particular—is considered to be forfeit, if she besmirches the family honor in some way, and this is completely acceptable under Islamic law.

To request your copies of Robert Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) and The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran, click here.

(Interview taken from the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.)