Book: In Defense of Divorce


I recently had the pleasure of reading Ennis Pepper’s In Defense of Divorce:  Why a Marriage Should Never Be Saved at the Expense of a Life (available in eBook format only).  What I discovered was a series of thoughtful arguments to challenge the traditional Christian doctrine that says “divorce is forbidden.”

“Divorce is a solution, not a sin.”

The introduction relates a sad and complicated tale of a woman who sought Ennis Pepper’s assistance after her home church denied her both a divorce and a remarriage.  From this real-life example, Pepper launches into many issues, including our blind adherence to traditions that don’t serve us, the relationship (or lack thereof) between marriage and church, biblical references to divorce (and adultery) and appropriate help for those who are suffering.

This easy read employs both a practical and scholarly approach to the defense of divorce.  Conflicted Christians can find comfort in the ancient cited text which does not directly condemn the actions of modern-day couples.  Throughout the book, we are reminded that marriage was created in a perfect environment, for perfect people.  This is no longer the case, as imperfections abound on all levels in our society- therefore it’s necessary to reconsider the assumptions and rigid rules we’ve made along the way.

Through this text, Pepper provides an appropriate assessment of how the Christian attitude toward divorce has evolved.  He also raises important questions to challenge the notions that some conservatives hold dear.  And he reminds us to hold individuals in a higher regard than a marriage, not the other way around.


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  1. Divorce isn’t forbidden in all cases within the Christian faith. Certainly adultery is a justifiable reason for divorce as some also claim abandonment is as well. Abuse would also be a legitimate grounds. The issue however comes in the interpretation. Does a husband’s priority of job over marriage constitute ‘adultery’ (i.e. loving his work more than his wife?).

    God’s intentions was for marriage to be a lifelong bond, in a Genesis 3 world however our human nature has distorted the idea of marriage and, as Abraham permitted, divorce becomes an option.

    “….blind adherence to traditions that don’t serve us”, I feel we must be careful to adhere to a notion that tradition must serve us instead of us serving it. Otherwise we begin to paint God with our own brush and turning Him into the God we want.

    I have struggled with my faith and the divorce, while I was cheated on physically, emotionally, and mentally I still am sensitive to the church’s admonition against divorce. Yet it makes for an easy, safe, target the church can serve up and preach against.

    • You should check out the book. I’m far from a Christian scholar, and I didn’t verify all the cited passages. But, there’s a compelling argument that the church has taken both marriage and divorce in a different direction from God’s original intentions.

  2. In all my research in the Bible concerning divorce, I never got the impression that God renounced divorce as a sin. After that reasearch, I now see marriage as the closest thing we can get to experiencing a truly selfless relationship. Because of that, it breaks Gods heart when it’s discarded. I believe marriage is a pitiful yet meaningful reflection of our potential relationship with God. What I don’t care for, concerning the churches approach in my experience, is at they don’t talk about that very much. Divorce is still the elephant in the corner.

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