This means if a non-believer does not wish to stay in the marriage and deserts the believer then the believer may let him or her leave. The deserted one is free to remarry but only in the Lord. The "adultery clause" says that if the non-believer commits adultery the believer is free to divorce but only after all efforts to reconcile have failed. These are the only two allowable grounds for divorce in Scripture. There are no provisions for divorce such as "irreconcilable differences" or "incompatibility."

Matthew 19:1-6 says

"When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. Some Pharisees came to Him to test Him. They asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?' 'Haven't you read," He replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.'"

The ultimate goal is that if the non-repentant person is a child of God, she will eventually repent and seek restoration. That's one reason for delaying any remarriage. However, once she is disciplined in this way, then she is the deserter of the marriage. As such one would be free to "let her depart" so that he can pursue a life of peace that honors Christ. He may remarry in this context because the church discipline process as outlined in Scripture protects his standing before God and His church. However, again, I urge all people in such situations to go very slowly into new relationships and to give God's Word time to bring about repentance. Church discipline, when done Scripturally is a very slow process.

A word to anyone reading this who is struggling in their marriage: Marriage is hard work. Mid-life crises come and go. God's desire is that you work through those hard times through the power of His strength and truth of His Word. Our culture does not help couples remain pure or to learn how to represent Christ in their marriage. Yet, marriage is God's template for showing a broken world what His love looks like. It's a powerful image and a place to learn about forgiveness and restoration. I recommend the series that my wife, Sharon, and I taught, titled Winterizing Your Home: Building a Covenantal Marriage. Visit our web site to order, www.markinc.org.

Dr. Chuck Betters regularly answers questions like these from radio listeners. For more questions and answers or to ask Dr. Betters a question, visit www.markinc.org