If I Am Miserable in My Marriage, Should I Get a Divorce?

Divorceby Russell D. Moore

Dear Dr. Moore,

My wife and I are at
an impasse. There’s been no abandonment, no sexual immorality, and no
abuse. We just don’t get along. We shouldn’t have married. We should
have known we are incompatible. I know God hates divorce but I don’t
have any other option. My pastor and some Christian counselors have told
me that while God hates divorce, this is the lesser of two evils
because God doesn’t want me to be miserable. What do you think?

Married but Miserable

Dear Miserable,

Here’s what I think (and I’m paraphrasing a pastor friend of mine here). With “Christian” pastors and counselors like these, who needs demons?

Divorce isn’t about you, and it’s not just about your marriage.
Divorce is the repudiation of a covenant. It doesn’t start anything
over again. It instead defaces the icon God has embedded in the creation
of the union between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-31) .

I do believe that there are exceptions to Jesus’ prohibition against
divorce: namely unrepentant sexual immorality or abandonment by a
gospel-repudiating spouse. Neither of these, according to you, are
present here and so you do not have reason to leave.

I plead with
you to reconsider this and to understand that when you give account
before the Judgment Seat of Christ, these “counselors” you have around
you will not be present, and their cowardly justifications for sin will
ring quite hollow.

Does God want you to be miserable? Long-term,
no. And that’s why God has designed marriage as a life-long covenant
signaling the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the long-term, God wants you to
be deliriously happy. But by long-term, I mean the next trillion years,
and beyond. In the short-term, one often must bear difficulty and, yes,
even misery. Remaining faithful to a wife you wish you hadn’t married
might seem miserable to you, but taking up a cross and following Jesus
is “miserable,” in the short-run. That’s why the Book of Hebrews
presents the life of faith in terms of not receiving what was promised
(Heb. 11:39), but seeing it and embracing it from afar.

If you
take the nuclear option of divorce off the table, you might find that
you and your wife have more reason to seek help with your problems and
make this work. But even if your marriage never becomes what you thought
it might be, it is worth it to stand by your words and maintain
fidelity to the wife of your youth.

What
God has joined together, let no man separate (Mk. 10:9). And that
includes the “shepherds” whose craven counsel leads to simply more
chewable mutton for the wolves.

Adapted from Russell D. Moore’s weblog at russellmoore.com.