What does the Bible Say About Marriage and Divorce?


I know someone who believes that a man and woman do not have to have an actual wedding to be married. That when a man and woman come together that God sees them married in his eyes. And, he also say's that they do not have to have a piece of paper for a divorce. He believes that since the law was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross, that you don't have to get a divorce, because it is a man's law, nor do you have to have a marriage license, because that is too man's law. Do you believe that you have to be married and divorced by paper or do you believe that you can be married and divorced by God's eye's? To give me the source of your reasoning, please give scriptures or history information. Thank you.

My Reply:
I’d first like to point out that your friend needs to decide on what part of God’s instructions and ways he’s going to obey, the one about marriage, or the part about divorce.

Marriage: The Bible tells us that God created marriage, and Christian marriage takes after this first ever marriage in several ways. Notice for instance, today that the father "gives away" his daughter to the groom? That's similar to what God did when He brought the woman to Adam (Genesis 2).
The vows: It's understood that when Adam said about Eve, "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" in Genesis 2, it was like wedding vows. Because he recognized her as everything he's needed and wanted, perfect match, only one for him (literally).

In Matthew 19:5-6, Jesus quotes Genesis 2, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.” Then Jesus continues, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate."
So in other words, marriage is not about a piece of paper, but a joining together in blessed commitment by God, with each other, and with God in the center of it.

Now, many states do recognize a couple to be legally married if they’ve lived together for “x” amount of years. But the question comes up as to whether or not that’s considered as marriage in God’s eyes, for there was never a time for the giving of His blessing, nor giving away by their father or somebody else in the family, nor even any vows.

Now, as for divorce:
Though there are many reasons to sometimes suggest the necessity for divorce, scripture tells us that God never actually permitted it. When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees (Matthew 19, Mark 10) about divorce, Jesus asked, "What did Moses tell you to do?" He asked them because they were basing everything on the Law that Moses gave them. But Jesus reminds them that it was Moses who allowed them to divorce, only because of their hardened hearts. But originally, God said no divorce.

So in a sense, your friend is right about divorce, that it’s only a piece of paper created by man. But God doesn't submit to the laws of man..."what God has joined together, let no man separate." Though it's not because Jesus fulfilled the Law on the cross, but because God never permitted it even in the Law...Moses, a human, did, in response to the hardness of the people's hearts.

I believe that one other aspect that needs to be recognized in terms of marriage is commitment.  The point of marriage is to spend the rest of your life with this person. And the vows you make at the wedding are vows you make to each other, as well as to God.  When both Moses and Jesus addressed the people about divorce, it was because the people wanted to be able to treat their wives like trading in a car…it was fun in the beginning, but now something more appealing to them has come along, so they wanted to get rid of the one they had and get the new one.  And this is wrong for so many reasons, including the ones I already mentioned.  You just simply don't divorce somebody to marry another.

I think your friend's confusion may originate from what Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:16, that when you have sex with somebody, you become one with them in body. Because of the similarities with events that happen in marriage, some often confuse this with marriage. But sex does NOT equal marriage. Sex outside of marriage is just unhealthy and unblessed joining, and a huge sin against your own body, for it's outside the means that God created for it to be experienced.

Marriage is SO much more than a piece of paper. Anybody who says otherwise is often just afraid to make that full commitment (marriage is supposed to be more permanent than a tattoo!).
But divorce, on the other hand, in the eyes of God, (according to scripture), IS just a piece of paper.
---Pastor Andy