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Religious practices and information


The range of religious views on divorce & remarriage:
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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 belief. 1

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 denomination.

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.

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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.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Overview:
bullet An introduction to divorce. We recommend that you read this essay first.
bullet Various conflicting Christian views:


Biblical passages about divorce and remarriage:

bullet Christian denominations' stated positions on divorce & remarriage
bullet Common Protestant views:
  1. Neither divorce nor remarriage are allowed.
  2. Divorce is OK, but not remarriage.
  3. Divorce is OK; remarriage is OK in cases of adultery or desertion.
  4. Divorce is OK for many reasons; remarriage is OK.

bullet Roman Catholic view:

Divorce/remarriage is impossible without an annulment: Church's historical position   About annulments

bullet The LDS restorationist movement:
bullet Divorce and the LDS Church

bullet Religious liberal and secular view:
bullet Divorce is OK in cases of marriage breakdown; remarriage is OK.
bullet Other topics:
bullet Is it better to work on a bad marriage, or bail out by separating?
bullet U.S. divorce rates nationally, and among various faith groups (Surprising data).

Divorce rates among mixed marriages: Overview, marriage stability, some data

bullet Obtaining a divorce by a collaborative process: A kinder, gentler, cheaper, faster, less traumatic way
bullet The effects of divorce: Are spouses and children scarred forever?
bullet News and information about divorce:
bullet Books and web sites that deal with divorce
bullet A news feed of today's news concerning divorce
bullet News about divorce

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Related section in this web site:

bullet Marriages and civil unions

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Information from various web sites:

bullet Divorce information to help you "before, during and after" is available at
bullet Divorce rate information by country:
bullet Divorce rates in America and other western countries:

Obtaining divorce records in the USA:

bullet Divorce FAQ:

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References used:

  1. book cover H.W. House, Ed., "Divorce and remarriage: Four Christian views," InterVarsity Press, (1990). Read reviews or order this book safely from the 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.

  2. book cover Quotation from a book news release for Sherman Nobles, "God is a Divorcé too!," Tate Publishing, (2005). Read reviews or order this book.

  3. book cover Gladine Burke Cain, "Divorced and remarried: Should these be limited in God's work?, Outskirts Press, (2010). Read reviews or order this book safely.

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Copyright © 2000 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-APR-26
Latest update: 2011-MAY-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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