Religious practices and information
The range of religious views on divorce & remarriage:
Marriage is a major concern for North Americans:
- With considerable justification, many people feel that the current high
rates of marital breakdown, separation and divorce are the most serious
social problem in North American today.
Others feel that the most serious social problem is that loving, committed same-sex couples are denied the right to marry in most states.
Many Christians have a keen interest to know what the Bible says about
divorce. For some, the significance is intensely personal. They feel
trapped in a toxic relationship, and are wondering what their religiously
acceptable options are. When they speak to their spiritual
counselor, they will usually obtain only one point of view. Within
society generally, and among religious leaders, there is little consensus
about divorce and remarriage. Even within one wing of one religion -- for
example, among evangelical Christians -- there is great diversity of
The root cause of this confusion is found in the ambiguity of biblical passages. Some give only the husband the right to divorce his wife; at least one implies that women have an equal right. Some allow a husband to divorce his wife if she has had an affair; others don't allow divorce for any circumstances. Some allow the former spouses to remarry; others do not. Some allow for the former wife to return to her former husband if her new husband dies, etc.
Some faith groups have taken a very dim view of divorce. They have
responded with: "Modern day 'shunnings,' the Eucharist withheld,
remarriage denied, lifetime celibacy demanded, leadership opportunities
refused....some are excommunicated all together. 2 Others take a more relaxed view. One United Church minister
told me: "If a marriage has died, the only decent thing is to bury it."
One purpose of this section is to present the full diversity of interpretations of biblical
passages that deal with divorce, so that readers will realize that there are many
more beliefs about divorce than the one being promoted by their
We are emphasizing
here Christian beliefs about divorce, because about three out of four North
Americans identify themselves with that religion.
Because of the concept of separation of church and state (more accurately
called separation of religion and government) the criteria for granting a legal
divorce are more liberal than many religions would allow.
As of early 2011, couples can obtain a divorce in every country in the world, with the exception of the Island of Malta, the Philippines, and of course the Vatican. However, a non-binding referendum in Malta on MAY-30 showed majority support for divorce which the government has accepted. The House of Representatives in the Philippines was scheduled to start debate on a bill on JUN-01 to allow divorce. It is possible that by the end of 2011, the Vatican will be the only "country" that does not allow divorce.
It is our policy to explain various groups' points of view in order to
help our visitors make up their own mind. It is probable that you will
reject as invalid many of the points of view described here. Please do not
Email us with complaints, accusing us of spreading errors. We are merely
reporters of the religious scene. On the other hand, if you feel that we
are not representing one of the viewpoints accurately, please do Email us.
||Various conflicting Christian views:|
||Is it better to work on a bad marriage, or
bail out by separating?
||U.S. divorce rates nationally, and among various faith groups
Divorce rates among mixed marriages: Overview, marriage stability, some data
||Obtaining a divorce by a collaborative
process: A kinder,
gentler, cheaper, faster, less traumatic way
||News and information about divorce:|
Related section in this web site:
Information from various web sites:
H.W. House, Ed., "Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian
views," InterVarsity Press, (1990). Read
reviews or order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store. This book describes the beliefs of four
evangelical Protestant leaders concerning divorce and remarriage. All four
believe that their approach is the only one that is biblically based. Yet all four differ greatly in
their analysis of the Bible's message on the topic.
- Quotation from a book news release for Sherman Nobles, "God is a Divorcé too!," Tate Publishing,
reviews or order this book.
Gladine Burke Cain, "Divorced and remarried: Should these be limited in God's work?, Outskirts Press, (2010). Read
reviews or order this book safely.
Copyright © 2000 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-APR-26
Latest update: 2011-MAY-30
Author: B.A. Robinson