I have had numerous conversations with friends regarding reasonings for divorce. In most cases, these are believers seeking biblical grounds for stepping out their marriage vows. More often than not, those asking the questions have already read the references in Scripture but have come to me hoping for some other options or perhaps some "secret understanding" that is not evident in the clearly written words on the pages of their Bibles.
Perhaps one of the most confusing and frustrating reasons offered to me sounds like this. . .
I believe God wants me to divorce my spouse because I just don't love him/her anymore.
The discussion goes on (normally a one-sided one at this point) with justifications categorized by phrases such as "I've fallen out of love."
Though the reasoning reeks of self-centeredness and personal justification, I seek to answer in a winsome and truth-laced way. I shudder at the "fallen out of love" defense. Since love is more than an emotional reaction and is better defined as a choice, to "fall out of love" simply means that the spouse in question doesn't seem to elicit the sweaty palms, fluttering heartbeats, and other emotional responses that were present during the days of courtship.
In some cases, it is politically correct way to say "My spouse doesn't look as sexy as they used to." Those making these veiled claims often appear to have misplaced their mirrors as well, since time seems to change all our outward appearances.
Nevertheless, there are more often than not, deeply spiritual wounds revealed in such discussions. Lauren Chandler (author and wife of Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church) recently was interviewed on this subject by The Gospel Coalition. Her brief video response is laced with wisdom and worth viewing.
Is Divorce Ever An Option?
Well, yes, divorce is an option. With the numbers of divorces happening in our nation regularly, it is clearly a viable option for all couples. There are even instances when divorce is an allowable biblical option.
The issue here is more than finding reasons to divorce, but in addressing this particular reason.
Love is a choice and that choice is not always easy. However, it is always right.
Husbands, remember that you have been commanded to love your wives. There is no dancing around this.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)
Wives, the command for you is to respect your husbands. Yes, there are times they are not worthy of that respect. True. However, there are likely times that love is not deserved from your husbands, either. It appears that this is a choice as well.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)
Yeah, it seems cut-and-dried, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Lauren gives wise counsel in her video and while it is clear that God has high expectations for the man and woman who unite in holy matrimony, the Bible never says that living as husband and wife is easy.
Remember, God loves you and he loves your spouse as well. Marriage is his idea and this union between man and woman is his image of his connection between Christ and the church. Jesus chooses to love his church. The church should submit to Jesus' lordship and respect him as such. Oh, there's so much more to discuss in this.
For now, let's just retire the "I've fallen out of love" defense. It's weak and wrong.