Marriage and Divorce and/or Dissolution of Marriage

The Nazarene statement on divorce (adopted by the international General Assembly)

photo of Nazarene Manual
containing the statement on divorce

With marriages in trouble around the world, what does one global denomination say about divorce?

The Christian family, knit together in a common bond through Jesus Christ, is a circle of love, fellowship, and worship to be earnestly cultivated in a society in which family ties are easily dissolved. We urge upon the ministry and congregations of our church such teachings and practices as will strengthen and develop family ties. In particular, we urge upon the ministry the importance of teaching and preaching clearly the biblical plan of the permanence of marriage.

The institution of marriage was ordained by God in the time of man's innocence and is, according to apostolic authority, "honorable in all"; it is the mutual union of one man and one woman for fellowship, helpfulness, and the propagation of the race. Our people should cherish this sacred estate as becomes Christians and should enter it only after earnest prayer for divine direction and when assured that the contemplated union is in accordance with scriptural requirements. They should seek earnestly the blessings that God has ordained in connection with the wedded state, namely, holy companionship, parenthood, and mutual love -- the elements of home building. The marriage covenant is morally binding so long as both shall live. Breaking it is a breach of the divine plan of the permanence of marriage.
(Genesis 1:26-28, 31; 2:21-24; Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 19:3-9; John 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:21-6:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Hebrews 13:4)

In biblical teaching, marriage is the commitment of male and female to each other for life, reflecting Christ's sacrificial love for the Church. As such, marriage is intended to be permanent. Divorce is an infraction of the clear teaching of Christ. Such infractions, however, are not beyond the forgiving grace of God when this is sought with repentance, faith, and humility. It is recognized that some have divorce thrust upon them against their will or are compelled to resort to it for legal or physical protection.
(Genesis 2:21-24; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 7:36-50, 16:18; John 7:53-8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 7:10-16; Ephesians 5:25-33)

Ministers of the Church of the Nazarene are instructed to give due care to matters relating to solemnizing marriages. They shall seek, in every manner possible, to convey to their congregations the sacredness of Christian marriage. They shall provide premarital counseling in every instance possible before performing a marriage ceremony, including proper spiritual guidance for those who have experienced divorce. They shall only solemnize marriages of persons having the biblical basis for marriage, that is, those who give clear declaration of their commitment to the biblical plan of the permanence of marriage. (107-7.1)

Members of the Church of the Nazarene are to seek prayerfully a redemptive course of action when involved in marital unhappiness, in full harmony with their vows and the clear teachings of the Scripture, their aim being to save the home and safeguard the good name of both Christ and His Church. Couples having serious marital problems are urged to seek counsel and guidance of their pastor and/or any other appropriate spiritual leaders. Failure to comply with this procedure in good faith and with sincere endeavor to seek a Christian solution, and subsequent obtainment of divorce and remarriage, makes one or both parties subject to possible discipline as prescribed (elsewhere) in 501-1.2 and 502-2.12.

Through ignorance, sin, and human frailties, many in our society fall short of the divine plan. We believe that Christ can redeem these persons even as He did the woman at Samaria's well. Sin against God's design for marriage does not place one beyond the forgiving grace of the gospel. Where a marriage has been dissolved, and remarriage has followed, the marriage partners, upon genuine repentance for their sin, are enjoined to seek the forgiving grace of God and His redemptive help in their marriage relationship. Such persons may be received into the membership of the church at such time as they have given evidence of their regeneration and an awareness of their understanding of the sanctity of Christian marriage: (See paragraphs 27, 107.1)

Footnote: The meaning of divorce in this rule shall include "dissolution of marriage" when it is used as a legal substitute for divorce.

The Manual of the Church of the Nazarene contains statements of doctrine, the church constitution, and some history, as well as governing policies and procedures

Like most college professors, I've seen hilarious errors in student-written papers. Here's a recent one:

"One of the values instilled in me by my upbringing is that it is wrong to be married out of wedlock."

book cover of Hard Sayings of Jesus
by F. F. Bruce

For further information on the Biblical stance on divorce, see chapter 12 of F.F. Bruce's book, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, published by InterVarsity Press.

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