Opinion: A biblical reflection on divorce (Pt. 2)

by Gideon Odoma

As Christians, the bible is our guide to the mind and will of God on sundry issues. Where and when the bible is clear on a subject, a Christian ought to subordinate personal opinions and preferences to the explicit position of scripture. It is dishonest and unChristian to obey God only when His position suites our disposition. There are times when a Christian will have natural inclinations to go on a particular route but will say to God, “my view on this matter is different, nevertheless, at your word, I will do your bidding even though it is everything I don’t feel like doing”.

The Christian who “buts” the word of God is a misleading sample of what God seeks to craft out of our lives. By ‘but-ing’ the word of God, I mean the Christian who says things like: “I know the bible teaches so-and-so, BUT…” and proceeds to do the opposite of what is clearly known as God’s position. For instance, a Christian could say, “I know the word of God forbids stealing, BUT the economy is harsh,” and so goes on to defraud his employer. This is what I mean by ‘but-ing’ the word of God. Such a christian is a rebel, or a rebellious Christian, at least.

As Christians therefore, a critical issue is, has God revealed His will concerning divorce, in the scripture? The answer is easily a Yes. But is what the bible says on the subject sufficient for our guidance or do we need to revise and augment biblical teachings with contemporary insights from other fields? This is not as non-controversial to respond to, as the previous inquiry. But we must take a stand — eventually.

At the fall, the enemy succeeded because he got Adam and Eve to doubt the fidelity and wisdom of God’s command. Our first parents were tricked to think they could think wiser than the God who has endowed us with our capacity for thinking. Where God said “you will surely die”, the enemy said “you will NOT surely die”. Adam and Eve bought the lie and proceeded against their divinely issued injunction. The result? — the Fall.

The point of my present tale is to answer the question: why bother about what God says on the subject of divorce? The simple answer is “because God deserves to be obeyed,” and we may add that there are consequences, colossal consequences arising from obeying or disobeying God, if indeed He has spoken clearly on the subject of divorce. If we obey God only when it is convenient, it is not God we obey. If we do that, we have become the god of God.

So, the bare bone of the case is, if we find out God’s position on the subject of divorce, would we be willing to submit to it, or would our contemporary conditioning colour and carry the day, against God’s will?

Speaking the truth in love requires that we stay faithful to scriptures while showing great understanding for our human context. We must remain faithful to scriptures, because, if our concept of God is robust enough, it means we admit that God was aware of the prevailing mood and trends of our day when He delivered scripture to our fore-bearers in the faith. None of our current marital dilemmas was unknown to God — centuries ago — when He delivered and codified His position on divorce. Nevertheless, we must show studied regard and empathy for our human context, because we live in a broken, damaged world, a world of more ‘is’ than ‘oughts’.

Is it ever biblically right to ask for a divorce?
The short answer is yes.

Is it always biblically right to ask for a divorce?
The short answer is No.

Under what circumstances may a Christian ask for a divorce, in the light of scriptures?

The new Testament is quite explicit in its teaching on this particular concern. We should commence with Jesus.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Gideon Odoma is a minister of the Gospel and founder of Fortress Ministry.

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