Periodically, throughout the years, I’ve re-visited the “when can Christians legitimately divorce” issue. First time was before seminary, when someone asked me if she had biblical grounds to leave a spouse who beat her. Second time was at seminary, where I was taught the “only for adultery and desertion” approach. Third, fourth and fifth times have been over the past decade-ish, since I’ve been a pastor.
Well, I come before you to declare I’ve figured everything out …
This is a hard topic. I’ve had to think through this issue again, and so I present my conclusions here to you. I may be wrong, of course. Some will undoubtedly disagree with me. I don’t interact with opposing viewpoints; you can find whole books that will do that for you. This is not an exhaustive discussion, but a brief positive survey of the most primary texts. Perhaps it will change one day. You may find my complete paper here.
The bottom line is a Christian may divorce under the following scenarios, each of which is an egregious fracture of the marriage covenant:
"I now believe that 1 Corinthians 7:15 implies that divorce may be legitimate in other circumstances that damage the marriage as severely as adultery or desertion. This change in my position has come because I reached a new understanding of Paul’s expression 'in such cases' in 1 Corinthians 7:15." - CBMW
"I would love for all followers of Jesus to come to a better understanding of 1 Timothy 3:2; not just for my sake, but for the overall health and sanctification of Christ’s body. To that end, I am thankful for the faithful and gracious teaching of Dr. Thomas Schreiner in the video below." - John Ellis
"At last week’s annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Grudem gave a talk titled 'Grounds for Divorce: Why I Now Believe There Are More Than Two.' In it, he cited biblical exegesis plus real-life examples for his revised position." - Church Leaders