Nobody thinks they will ever get a divorce. Especially in Christian circles, people think they will always work together as they grow old, best friends and companions for life. Plus, doesn’t Malachi 2:16 say that God hates divorce? So, then, how could God ever approve of divorce, let alone lead you to it?
When God leads you to divorce, as a general rule, He gives you the comfort of the Holy Spirit to help you when you feel like God is nowhere to be found. He also gives you Scriptures that prove abuse is not acceptable for His children, or anyone else for that matter. And He will give you the right people in the right place to help you begin to rebuild your life.
Before we go through what it looks like when God leads you to divorce, let’s first put divorce and Christianity in perspective. According to Pew Research, 57% of divorced people are devout Christians who take their spiritual lives very seriously. Another 24% believe their spiritual life is moderately important. So, of those people who take their religious views seriously, what makes them feel led by God to seek out divorce?
Let’s take a look at this answer in more detail.
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You Will Have Special Comfort From the Holy Spirit When God Leads You to Divorce
The Holy Spirit is very quiet. But if you are listening and watching for Him, He is right there with you. I had such a hard time believing this during my separation and divorce. I had trusted God to help me choose a godly man to marry and spend my life with as we grew our family and served in our local church. But I felt like God had failed me. Why didn’t He warn me? Shut doors? I felt like God had deserted me.
But then, a close friend, who was also my pastor’s wife at the time, showed me that God hadn’t deserted me at all. He was there literally every single day. And she started showing me all the little ways that He was showing me that He had my back, even though life was crumbling around me.
One day, when I went over to her house, she showed me her devotional for the day. I have no idea what book or author it was. But I do distinctly remember what he said. He said that the Holy Spirit leaves clues of His presence daily, whether we are suffering or satisfied.
We started thinking back a few days and sure enough, we could see little things the Holy Spirit had done to show me that He was right there in the midst of my suffering. Almost daily since then, I spend a few minutes each day thinking about blessings the Holy Spirit has sent my way, showing me that He is walking with me until the day my job on Earth is done.
I wish I had kept a journal all those years. It would be so valuable for me to read back all those times. Especially now that I am so far removed from the life I was living back in 2016 when she shared that devotional with me.
Check out this article about whether you have biblical grounds for divorce.
You Will See Perfect Scriptures When God Leads You to Divorce
There are many Scriptures that apply to your situations that led to divorce, although many of them refer to any relationship and not specifically to divorce. But if you are to guard yourself against evil in other people, how much more should you protect yourself in the sanctity of marriage? Let’s look at verses that tend to be used against those who are seeking to divorce, even for biblical reasons. Then we will look at verses that are more appropriate for those who are truly seeking the heart and will of God.
Verses That Churches Use Against Divorcing Christians
The first Scripture people want to pull out when the subject of divorce comes up is Malachi 2:16. And then they tell you that God hates divorce. Except that is not the whole story. God absolutely does hate divorce. But He hates something else even more. He hates the sin and abuse that brought your marriage to divorce.
As it turns out, scholars have realized that for many years, Malachi 2:16 has been mistranslated. The word hate was assigned to God rather than to the husband, as the original texts intended.
The incorrect translation says, “”I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well with his garment, so guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” But the new version says, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” Both of these Scriptures are in the New International Version (NIV). The English Standard Version (ESV) reads the same way, as do several others.
Another verse the leadership and people of the church may throw your way is Romans 3:23 which says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Then they explain that if your marriage is in trouble it is because both of you have sinned and both have caused the demise of your marriage. If you are an abused spouse, do not accept that answer. Yes, you can acknowledge that you have sinned against your spouse. But there is a huge difference between sins that offend your partner and sins that abuse, control, or oppress your partner.
Verses That Show You When God Leads You to Divorce
There are many verses in the Bible that speak to how we should relate to others and protect ourselves while also caring for others. These are not specific to marriage, but if we are supposed to relate to our friends in a certain way, how much more should we relate in the same healthy ways within the sanctity of marriage?
Let’s take a look at some of those Scriptures (a complete list would be a whole book!).
2 Timothy 3:1-9 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.”
Romans 16:17-19 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”
Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands more of these verses. For more on that, you can google verses on fools, Pharisees, arrogant, haughty, or any similar word to see what the Bible has to say. The main point is that God says we should avoid those people.
You cannot be peacefully married to someone you must avoid to keep yourself safe and healthy. So, if your marriage is violated by the sin and abuse of a narcissist, then you cannot remain married and become healthy in most cases. Which means your marriage has already been broken.
You Will have Great Support Surrounding You When God Leads You to Divorce
When almost every interaction you have seems like it is sent from God, you will know that God is leading you to divorce. Let me be more specific.
I am not talking about you sharing (or oversharing) with your friends and them verbally supporting in response. I am talking about not sharing many details, but letting people in the process of your divorce know just what they need to in order to help you out. Now that I have probably made it sound even more confusing, let me give you some examples.
- The clerk of the court where you file can’t necessarily file things in your favor. But she can give you exceptional service and verbal support.
- The people on the phone when you change your utilities will do what they can to make your life easier and more bearable in an untenable situation.
- The few friends you do confide in will see your honesty, compassion, and refusal to become bitter. And they will support you on your path accordingly.
- A lawyer who understands abuse, narcissism, bipolar issues, and whatever not-so-normal issues caused the divorce proceedings.
- A guardian-ad-litem (if you have children who have been abused or neglected. They will interview you, your spouse, and your children to get as complete a picture as they can. Your absolute honesty and forthrightness will be critical to the help they will give you. And it is at this point you realize that by not stooping to the abuse and mistreatment you have received will help your case more than any other preparation.
- Your church leadership–if they have been supportive to your safety and wellbeing and understand what is going on behind closed doors. Check out more information on whether the church will support divorcing a narcissist.
- Your counselor(s) who should understand exactly what is going on. If your counseling agency is willing to work with your church leaders, it is even better. The counselors will be able to show the church leaders what is really going on behind closed doors. And the abusive spouse will not longer be able to isolate and triangulate to lie his way through anymore. His jig will be up.
- The bailiff, other lawyers not involved in the case, and others in the court system will notice when you are doing the right thing for yourself and children if you have them. And they will let you know when they do see that. I was stopped in the courtroom and hallways more than once for people to tell me they were impressed with my strength and my children’s maturity.
- A support group, well versed in divorce and/or abuse issues that can help teach you healthy thinking while also showing you that they understand what you are going through with their similar stories and methods of healing.
- Your children, in time, will realize you are doing the right thing if you choose not to act out of revenge or anger, but out of strength and love. My fourth child watched the whole process of counseling, separation, and divorce. When he was 15, he would steal the books my counselor had assigned me, often before I finished them. He is now a therapist in the office my whole journey toward healing began in. Talk about full circle!
Almost everywhere you go, if you live in strength and honesty instead of victimhood and anger, you will experience support, growth, and wellbeing. And sooner than later, you will feel that healing in the depths of your being.
For more details on all of this, check out my free 57-page guide to divorcing a narcissist. It will give you the answers, support, and cohesiveness you are looking for to make sense out of a most confusing time for Christians.
What are the Signs when God Leads You to Divorce
Besides the Holy Spirit, Scriptures, and support you will receive when God leads you to divorce, you will also see several signs that help you to see you are where you belong. Here are some of them.
1. God Will Lead You Closer to Him and Not Further When He Leads You to Divorce
During my separation and divorce, I remember telling my pastor that I felt so far away from God. He said that was normal for anyone in my space. I was seeking His guidance, and feeling like as a Christian I was nowhere near where I belonged. My point: you cannot judge how close you are to God based on how you are feeling at a really low point in your life.
What I found life-changing during this time was a conversation I had with one of my counselors. He had just tested my ex for narcissism and reported that he did indeed test on the narcissism spectrum. And then he told me my journey was now even harder than before because upon learning his test result, my ex would likely spiral out of control (which he did). But then, he shared a Scripture with me that has stuck with me ever since.
I was raised in the church from the age of 8. So when my counselor shared Psalm 23 with me, I was more than familiar with it. I had memorized it as a child. I thought I knew it backward and forward. But I never knew it in the context of where I was in my life at that point.
He explained that God truly was with me even in the valley of the shadow of death. But God isn’t just standing there beside me. He has prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemy. While my husband was on a mission to literally destroy my life, God was preparing a feast for me to thrive on. In the middle of my chaos. God had never been closer to me. I was just unable to feel Him. After that and the conversation with my pastor’s wife about the Holy Spirit showing Himself to me daily, I realized God truly was here for me. And the more I meditated on that, the more I saw it.
If you feel far away from God, but you trust Him to get you through this, He will show Himself to you as well. In the people who come to give you words of comfort. And the needed money that shows up just in time out of the blue. And the critical information you find out just in time for your court date. I am sure you can come up with even more ways that God is not only with you, but holding your hand through this whole process!
2. God Will Heal You and Reclaim Your Life for Good
I know you feel like crap right now. Nobody who is going through a divorce thinks it is a fun process. But in the years that I have led a Divorce Care support group in my local church, every single one of the hundreds of people that came through the program came in demoralized and shell shocked but left renewed and hopeful. You will feel the same once you get to the other side of this!
Not only will you heal, you will then have wisdom to help all of the other people you run into who are feeling beaten down and isolated from their church life. Three people who “graduated” from my support group went on to form divorce support groups in their own churches. While I don’t necessarily think you need to do that (but if you do it would be great!), you have a personal connection to anyone who is struggling and just needs a listening ear.
My now former pastor who led me through my separation/divorce process would send people along to talk to me about their struggles when they went to him for advice and help. It was an awesome way for me to start learning how I could help people when I was barely out of the woods myself. And it was incredibly healing for me to be able to take the focus off myself and minister to others.
As it turns out, my ex didn’t get to destroy me. He instead contributed to my emotional health and now worldwide ministry. And I finally learned the lesson my counselor worked with me on for years–he can’t force me into anything. I am in control of my only life, feelings, and success.
3. What Man Meant for Evil God Will Make Good
In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that what they meant for evil, God had used for good. They were jealous of him and the way his parents favored him, almost killed him, instead sold him into slavery, and he ended up in prison before God changed his circumstances so drastically that he became second in line to Pharoah.
Years later, the tables turned. Joseph’s brothers were caught in a national famine. And they had to go to Joseph, who they didn’t even recognize at this point, to beg for food to survive. Joseph recognized them immediately. He messed with them for a little while to decide whether they had changed at all and how they felt about him over time. And then he came clean and they reconciled in a messy but substantial way.
I didn’t go through nearly as much as Joseph did. But I was abused by my narcissistic husband for 34 years. And he’s still messing with me now, even though he has left the old life behind and built a new one. But what he meant in casting me aside, God has meant for good.
Check out my article on some surprising examples of divorce in the Bible.
I mentioned earlier that I have been able to help people all over the world. Here are a few words from the emails I got this week:
Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s so hard to find people who first understand and secondly have come on the other side if this in a healthy way.
I don’t necessarily think you all will read my articles, use my divorce guide, and then start your own website and worldwide ministry. But you can help the people that you run into every day, just like the rest of us do who have been where you are now. And if we all do that in our little corner of the world, the whole world will be reached as a team effort. And our world will be a better place for it!
Finally, I found a short video that gives some further guidance and Scripture to help you decide what the best course of action is for your specific situation. You can check it out right here:
I hope that you have found all of this encouraging to you as you are in such a dark and discouraging place in your life. And I also hope that you are able to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel when God leads you to divorce. I remember thinking I was never going to get through that tunnel. And then, suddenly, I made it through. Almost all of the people who have been through my support groups have felt the same way. You will look back and be proud of how you got yourself to a healthier place!
I would love for you to share with me where you are in this process. Are you looking back at how you escaped? Are you still in the process? Or maybe you are preparing to take that first step. Regardless of where you are, feel free to share in the comments below or contact me here if you need to keep things private.
Hugs and love,
‘Religious Landscape Study: Marital Status,’ Pew Research Center, 2014, accessed April 23, 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/marital-status/
‘2014 RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE STUDY (RLS-II) MAIN SURVEY OF NATIONALLY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF ADULTS FINAL QUESTIONNAIRE,’ Pew Research Center, May 30, 2014, accessed April 23, 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2015/11/201.11.03_rls_ii_questionnaire.pdf