What Biblical Reasons Can End a Marriage?

by Sister McCook

Marriage is a sacred bond between two individuals that has been established by God himself.

When two people take their marriage vows, they make a commitment to God and to each other that they will love and respect each other, to be faithful and committed to one another, and to seek out each other’s well-being as they build a life together.

However, sometimes, marriages don’t turn out the way they were intended.

Couples may end up in a situation where they see no other solution but to end their marriage.

As Christians, what do we learn from the Bible about the reasons that can end a marriage?


The Bible clearly states that adultery is a ground for divorce.

In Matthew 5:32, Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Jesus explains that sexual immorality, which includes adultery, is a legitimate reason to end a marriage.

But He also indicates that divorce should be the last resort.

Repeated Adultery

If an individual has been a victim of repeated adultery and sexual immorality, they could feel like they cannot trust their spouse again.

In such instances, though the Bible does not suggest that a person should end their marriage, it points out that reconciliation might be difficult in this particular situation.

If one partner continues to engage in an adulterous relationship despite earnest efforts at restoration, the Bible indicates that the faithful partner can consider divorce.


Abandonment is another Biblical reason for ending a marriage.

In 1 Corinthians 7:15, it is mentioned that if an unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, the believer is no longer bound to the marriage.

Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 7:11, it says that if a husband separates from his wife, he must either remain single or be reconciled with her.

This hints that abandonment or separation from a spouse is a Biblically valid reason for ending a marriage.

Physical and Emotional Abuse

God values every life and considers every person as precious.

Acts of violence and emotional abuse in a marriage are contrary to God’s plan for the covenant of marriage and can lead to the destruction of the family.

Proverbs 6:16-19 lists some of the things that go against God’s character, including hands that shed innocent blood and a heart that devises wicked plans.

If an individual in a marriage experiences abuse, it is essential to seek safety and support while ending the marriage.

Malicious Desertion

In 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, Paul talks about the situations where a married couple’s spouse is an unbeliever, and the believer cannot tolerate their unbelieving spouse leaving them.

In verse 15, Paul explains that if the unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, the believer is no longer bound and can remarry.

This indicates that if a partner maliciously abandons the marriage for no valid reason, it can be a Biblical cause of ending a marriage.

Another reason that marriages end in the Bible is due to the hardness of men’s hearts.

In Matthew 19:8, Jesus says, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so.”

Sometimes couples become so fixed in their ways and beliefs that they cannot see eye-to-eye with each other.

This stubbornness can lead to animosity and eventually to the end of the marriage.

God does not like divorce

First and foremost, it’s essential to remember that God hates divorce.

Malachi 2:16 states, “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.”

Divorce should never be entered into lightly, and it should be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.

Marriage is a holy and important relationship in God’s eyes, and it should be cherished and upheld.

God designed marriage to be a covenantal union between a man and a woman that lasts until death parts them.

However, there are circumstances where ending a marriage may be the only solution.

The Bible allows for divorce in cases of adultery, abandonment, physical and emotional abuse, malicious desertion, and repeated adultery.

But it is important to remember that divorce should only be considered when all attempts at reconciliation have failed.

As Christians, we need to seek God’s guidance, pray for wisdom, and lean on our community for support during times of marital struggles.

When it comes to the end of a marriage, we must seek to move forward with peace and love in our hearts, remembering that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.

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