THE WORD IS
It is not pleasant to speak of divorce. Divorce always involves the shipwreck of the joint life of two people, and often affects children in a most painful way. Nevertheless we must speak about it, because it is a reality.
If a husband and wife do not agree to live together, no one else can force them to do so. Even the best laws do not help. Moses already had to permit divorce because of the hardness of people's hearts (Matt. 19:8). This did not mean that he approved of divorce morally. It only meant the acknowledgment of what had already happened. Society must also do this constantly. Nevertheless it must not enact laws that have a weakening effect on the estate of marriage.
On the other hand experience indicates that even very serious disagreements in the marriage relationship have in time been solved. When husband and wife have understood the permanent nature of marriage, their convictions have given them strength to endure in difficult times, and often their faith in God has been a great source of strength. In this way the marriage has been saved and husband and wife have, as it were, discovered each other anew. To the children, father has been a father and mother has been a mother despite the problems between husband and wife. When father and mother have remained together the children have had a home. This is how it should be and should continue to be.
According to the Bible unfaithfulness dissolves the marriage and the innocent party has the right to get a divorce. The guilty, unfaithful spouse does not have the moral right to remarry for "whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9). On the other hand the innocent spouse is free to marry again, as the Lutheran Confessions state in explaining this Bible passage. However, reconciliation and the saving of the marriage if at all possible, should be the goal of every couple.
Our Savior mentions those who are not fit for marriage. Some are unfit from birth, others have made themselves unfit, and some are unfit because of what others have done. "He who is able to accept this let him accept it" (Matt. 19:12). If a person, who is unfit for marriage, marries he deceives the other person. Lutheran theologians have taught that in such cases no real marriage has taken place and that a false promise annuls the marriage. If one spouse becomes unfit during the marriage, the other must bear this as his cross.
Those who have done wrong must be granted the opportunity to receive forgiveness for their sins. In our society there are tens of thousands whose marriages have ended in divorce. To many of them this is matter of conscience and affects their relationship to God, if not at the time of the divorce, then at a later time. It is important that the matter be settled before God. An understanding pastor can often be of great help in a matter of this type.