By NG Marriage Expert
Biblical View Of Dating After Divorce And What The Bible Says About Dating While Separated
Divorce is becoming rampant in today’s society. Within the last five years, it has increased by over 10% and does not seem to be abating. In Nigeria, this trend has also risen with some couples not fully divorced but separated for long periods of years. It is usually during this period that one or both of the separated couple may start dating someone else.
From Christianity’s point of view, the Bible is very explicit on the issue of divorce. It states clearly in Malachi 2:16, “The man who hates and divorces his wife” says the Lord the God of Israel “does violence to the one he should protect”, says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard and do not be unfaithful.
For the avoidance of any doubt, it also states in the new testament that “anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).
From the above scriptures, one can see that marriage is and should be a life long commitment. Therefore, regardless of the stance the society takes, it is something that God frowns at. Little wonder the wonder the Bible is replete with so many divorce verses both in the old and new testament.
Based on the foregoing, one can see that there would be no need to date after a divorce seeing that its aim is usually to find a significant other. If divorce is already frowned at, why would there be any need to date?
However, God in his omniscient wisdom already knew that marriage is between two imperfect human beings therefore, quarrels are bound to occur which may then lead to separation and consequently, divorce.
He then laid down some rules (in the old testament) in the event that it happens to make provisions for them, especially the women. (Deut. 24:1-4). These laws were given not because it was the will of God but because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.
There are some controversies revolving around the following scriptures: (Matthew 5:32), “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”, (Matthew 19:9) “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another woman commits adultery”.
This was where Jesus gave the condition for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Following this, some people see this as a basis for divorce with or without proof.
In another passage (1Corinthians 7:15) the Bible says “But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or sister is not bound in such circumstances. God has called us to live in peace”. This is where another major exception was made whereby remarriage (and possibly dating) is allowed if an unbelieving partner divorces the believer.
In this case, it would not be wrong if the other partner decides to date someone else for the purpose of a remarriage.
It is worthy of note that divorce and separation are quite different. Divorce means the legal end of a marriage while separation does not signify it’s end but can however accelerate the end of such marriage.
Is It Right to Date While Separated?
Moving a bit from the Christian stand point, let us look at it from a social perspective, separated is married. If one wishes to start dating, then he or she must legally end the marriage. This would ensure that both parties are through and can now pursue another relationship.
Dating while being separated from the Christian view, may only happen if the event described in 1 Corinthians 7:15 happens. In this instance, the believer is no longer bound by the laws of marriage. Only then can one be allowed to date even while separated. Otherwise, the process would be to end the marriage legally which would be prohibited except on the grounds of adultery.
Even then, the person permitted to remarry (or date in this instance) would be the innocent partner, not the guilty one. Some people date even after being the reason for a separation. This is clearly not evident and has no spiritual backing.