The Will of God Dictates Divorce for Those Unequally Yoked In Marriage

In writing on the topic of the will of God R. C. Sproul made two points that this writer finds of great interest for the born-again who are bound by marriage to someone who has not experienced the new birth in Christ Jesus.

R. C. Sproul’s First Point Regarding the Will of God

First, Sproul said that God has three distinct wills: God’s sovereign decretive will—all that God has decreed since before the foundation of the world. God’s preceptive will—all that God has commanded His children to do and not to do. Finally, God’s will of disposition—that which pleases God.

Insight into these three distinct wills is seen in 1 Timothy 2:4 where Paul explained to Timothy that it is God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is God’s will of disposition that desires all men to be saved—God takes no pleasure in sending men to their eternal torment. Yet God’s sovereign decretive will has determined that the road to destruction will be much broader than the road to salvation. And God has decreed this outcome because men are pleased to practice lawlessness rather than to submit to God’s preceptive will, which commands all men to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.

R.C. Sproul’s Second Point Regarding the Will of God

Dr. Sproul’s first point on the three distinct wills of God is foundational for proper knowledge and understanding of the second: “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval.” Apply this to the discussion of unequally yoked marriages. God has commanded through His preceptive will against all unequally yoked relationships including and especially marriages. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God is very displeased when His children yoke themselves to unbelievers. The life and death of Jehoshaphat is an excellent example of God’s heart and mind on the faithful joining themselves to or with the godless. A prophet of God asked Jehoshaphat (an eminently godly king of Judah who married off his son to the godless daughter of Ahab and Jezebel), “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord” (2 Chron. 19:2)? This was a rhetorical question—the answer is an emphatic “BY NO MEANS, MAY IT NEVER BE!”

Therefore every regenerate man or woman of God who is married to an unbeliever can be assured that they are outside of God’s preceptive will for He has prohibited unequally yoked marriages scores or even hundreds of times in His word. They are also outside of God’s will of disposition—God is not pleased as bad company always corrupts good morals. It is true that they are in God’s sovereign decretive will (as is every single living being), which is to say that God has allowed them to sin in this godless marriage, but as R. C. Sproul said, “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval”.

Most today fail to recognize unequally yoked marriages as godless marriages because the church, in a monumental failure to understand God’s heart and mind on this subject, concocted a man-made doctrine for marriage that defies reason.  The pernicious nature of this doctrine is concealed by its Roman Catholic name “holy matrimony”.  The church concedes the biblical teaching that unequally yoked marriages are outside of God’s preceptive and dispositional will.  Yet inexplicably the church has granted “holy matrimony” the power to sanctify unequally yoked marriages.  Does the reader understand what “Holy matrimony” has done to God’s prohibition, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers”?  The man-made doctrine of “holy matrimony” means that divinely forbidden marriages mystically confer God’s moral approval of divinely forbidden marriage.  This is like the serpent telling Eve “You certainly shall not die”.  It is entirely illogical, utter nonsense.  Why the church failed to follow the godly examples of Ezra and Nehemiah who entered into covenants with God to have all the people divorce their godless spouses will forever be a sad chapter for Christ’s church. The church desperately needs to discover its error and correct their doctrine on divorce for the unequally yoked.

It is awful when God’s children fall into sin, but it is infinitely worse for them to continue practicing the sin. Disobedience demands repentance. God never gives His moral approval to a sinful path simply because men stubbornly refuse to get off that path. God’s children must always walk in the ways of the Lord. God has made it abundantly clear that marriage between two believers is the way of the Lord. Making a covenant with God to divorce your godless spouse is the biblical and reasonable course for those living in an unequally yoked marriage. Remaining single or remarriage to a genuine believer are both biblically depicted as getting back in line with the will and ways of God.

Believers who choose to remain unequally yoked are only in God’s will by way of His sovereign decrees, which mercifully provides an allowance for their sin. However, they are disobeying God’s command (Preceptive will) against such unions, and all godless unions fall short of the mark of pleasing God (Will of disposition).  It is an undeniable truth that those who remain unequally yoked are outside of the will of God.  This does not mean that these are unregenerate as they would not be unequally yoked if they were not saved by grace, but they are living in disobedience to the will of God by being unequally yoked in marriage.  Christ said, “If you love me, then you will obey my commandments.”

For the unequally yoked believer divorce brings God’s child into compliance with God’s preceptive will while, at the same time, allowing them to be more pleasing to God (His will of disposition). Divorce in such cases would also be part of God’s sovereign decretive will; so then, divorce places the unequally yoked believer fully inside of the will of God—all three distinct wills. Finally, God’s prodigal child is back under the Father’s preceptive will and His dispositional will—a joyful place to be, and the place where all of God’s children belong.

THE SWORD OF CHRSIT: Separated From All That Is In the World–No Exceptions

Jesus said,

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” Luke 18:29.

Marriage was given for man, not man for marriage. Remaining unequally yoked, by following the church’s man-made doctrinal teaching that the marriage covenant supersedes God’s commandment against being unequally yoked, extends the years lived with nothing more than God’s permission to sin. And as we have discovered: “God’s sovereign ‘permission’ of human sin is not His moral approval” The path of remaining an unequally yoked child of God remains morally reprehensible to God. Precious Lord Jesus, open the eyes of your church on earth to see the errors of their ways, and show them the path to both corporate and personal repentance.

Biblical view on divorce

About Josiah Portermaine

By the abundant lovingkindness and grace of God I have been in Christ for over 45 years. I live to love and serve God in whatever capacity He has in mind. And can do no other but to follow my conscience as scripture and reason guide me threw the shadow lands. I raised 5 children one of whom now sees clearly as he walks on streets of gold. I have a Masters of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. I own a business in Nebraska, but I live to serve God. I have preached in three different churches for a period of 10 years. I love preaching God's word. Because of my divorce I am not currently serving in any official capacity, but I know that the Lord has a ministry for me. My goal is to write a book on the topic of divorce when unequally yoked, and this blog is a step in that direction. No brother or sister in Christ should divorce their spouse solely upon the advice they find here or anywhere else for that matter. Immerse yourself in God's word, and go before the Lord--wait upon Him and He will make it clear when the time comes that you are called to repent of your unequally yoked marriage. Christ's continued blessings, Joe View all posts by Josiah Portermaine

18 responses to “The Will of God Dictates Divorce for Those Unequally Yoked In Marriage

  • Anonymous

    I am married to an unbeliever. At times I have thought about divorce, but I haven’t pursued it because I’ve believed it to be against God’s will. “12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

    15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him go. The believing brother or sister is not bound in such cases. God has called youb to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”

    This passage is what has kept me in my marriage. How do you counter Paul’s teaching here?

    • Josiah Portermaine

      The answer to your question is in 2 articles on the blog, but read a third first. Read in this order: First, “What is an unequally yoked marriage?” Do not be quick to say you are unequally yoked. Know what I mean by that phrase. If that is you, then read, Second, “1 Cor. 7:14: What is Paul’s meaning? The unbelieving Husband or Wife is sanctified. Finally, my favorite article is complicated so read it at a time of day when your mind is at its zenith. Third, 1 Cor 7:12-16 Properly Interpreted Strengthens the Case for Unequally Yoked Divorce found in 2 Cor 6:14-7:1.

      After reading these pray and ask God for His will in this area of your life. You should draw near to God through the Holy Spirit. You do not want to get a divorce that is against the Word and will of God. You also do not want to be in a marriage against the Word and will of God.

      I am always available to communicate with you and answer any additional questions.

      Christ’s Continued Blessings,

  • Donna

    Could you please tell me if you believe a Catholic and Christian marriage would qualify as unequally yoked? Such differences between us is difficult and pulling me from my Christian faith.

    • Josiah Portermaine

      Thank you for writing and for taking an interest in this important question. You can find a blog article titled, “What is an Unequally Yoked Marriage?” This article will answer your question and answer additional questions that I may not anticipate here. For two people, married or not, to be spiritually unequally yoked one of the two people must actually be born-again while the other is not. The biggest problem with this explanation is that most “Christians” know so little about biblical teaching on who is and who is not truly born-again that they cannot say for certain that even one person in a marriage is actually in Christ. Generally speaking, if a Catholic becomes born-again, they will soon leave Catholicism. Sadly, Christians from the denominations that sprang from the reformation of the fifteenth and sixteenth Centuries such as Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, etc. are generally not populated with born-again people, which is what actually makes a person a Christian. Evangelicals have followed this pattern and are now primarily populated by formal Christians, which is a name for all those who take the name Christian without actually being in Christ Jesus or born-again. So then, it is not uncommon to have a marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant that is not unequally yoked because neither partner is actually born-again. However, if the “Christian” is actually born-again as Jesus explains in John 3, then they are likely unequally yoked in a marriage to a Catholic. Catholics become born-again all the time, but as I mentioned above, they will see the need to separate themselves from the Catholic church. They seek out a biblically centered church so that they can be spiritually fed. Please read the article mentioned above and feel free to ask further questions.
      Christ’s Blessings,

  • Patty

    Divorcing after 25yr marriage. I prayed for a breakthrough for my spouse. His actions and words are not of God’s will I married him out of lust- young, dumb hopeful and desperate. We were both brought up Christian but not practicing the faith. It’s been 6yrs that God called me- studying scripture is a necessity for a Christian to know anything about God. I live by the spirit- God’s will is my will. He has showed me who I am to him, his love his grace! I know he too loves his son who has a hardened heart. I thought God would bring him to repentance! My heart hurts for my husband and our marriage- the could’ves- if those that want to hear will hear. Those who ask will receive. My Father delivers, on his timing. My prayers have been answered and he holds my head high. I really didn’t think it would come to divorce. God’s will is for me to let go of all people that opens a door for Satan in my life. He said for me to get out of the way so he can save his son! The warfare is daily, being unequally yoked. My marriage is the final relationships I am to end. It hurts and scary. He commands us to be strong and courageous.
    God blessed my mess with 3 beautiful children and supplied me with everything I needed to raise them! Amen. I abide in Christ and pray for God’s people to wake up to God’s Grace and accept his love, especially his church! Jesus divides- he came to bring a sword, and he never said for just the unmarried or Jews. His blood covers all who accept it and abide in it. Thank you for your blog. I have delve deeper into scripture in divorce and marriage. God keeps affirming my decision to get out of the neglect and abuse.

    • Joe Porter

      I am proud of you as my sister in Christ. You will not hear that much if you are the one who pursued the divorce, but biblically you are following the ways of the Lord. Yes divorce does hurt and it is often scary, but it frees you to consider what the Lord has in store for you. Quoting Jesus Luke 18:29-30 says, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” Jesus promised us many times as much in this lifetime if we would obediently remove ourselves from unequally yoked relationships to the children of Satan. This passage adds spouse to the other family members that were mentioned in the sword of Jesus passage (Matthew 10:34-36). How will Jesus bless us? In many ways, but certainly by providing His children with a house that can stand strong. A house where the inhabitants can love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. And a house where they can do so together. “…every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. All of us.
      Christ’s Continued Blessings,

  • Rae

    Can you email me? I have prayed long and hard about this issue. I need someone to talk to.

    • Joe Porter

      I have responded to you through your email. If you have not seen it in your inbox then communicate to me through this method or email another comment using a different email to which I can respond.
      Christ’s Continued Blessings,

  • Nsongurua Udo

    I am so blessed by this post. God spoke to me about this but nobody believes me. They all say I did not hear from God. Can I email you.

  • Diandra Johnson

    Amen! The church MUST start teaching this! Along with sexual purity, and stop making people believe that just because you get married, you with be in His Will.
    I married an unbeliever. Then I had to repent and an going through divorce now. It has been an ugly uncomfortable and painful situation, because I also had a child with him. But God gives grace and I have learned the hard lesson of disobedience! I followed Ezra 10 because the enemy and the false church kept trying to guilt me into staying. Nope, I was out, because God was against me while in disobedience.

    • Joe Porter

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Sadly it is not just the false church that guilts Christians who are unequally yoked in marriage to stay in that condition. But we must answer to God. We must follow the scriptures. We must listen to our conscience. Sadly, because the conscience is informed through the mind, those who hear what the church teaches on this subject mostly have a conscience that is misinformed when it comes to what God’s word actually says about being outside the will of God when we are unequally yoked. Therefore, we must be careful not to ask believers to break with their conscience and divorce their godless spouse until their mind has been renewed by God’s word on the doctrine of being unequally yoked. This blog works toward teaching God’s will on this tremendous doctrine. It is very gratifying that you have discovered God’s truth on this doctrine. Now go and be unequally yoked no more. By that I include every vile association with this world. We are in the world, but we must never be of the world. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones frequently said, we are part of a new human race in Christ and we must be entirely different from those who are merely in Adam and of the world. How absurd it would to divorce our godless spouse only to date godless people, or to be best friends with a godless person, or engage in godless behaviors, or speak vile, silly or coarse words, etc. We must cease all instances of being unequally yoked with the world. We must love those who are lost and desire to introduce them to our Lord, but we must never join them in their sinfulness. It is our calling and privilege to be salt and light in this vile and dark world.
      Christ’s Continued Blessings,

  • Theodora

    “Finally, God’s prodigal child is back under the Father’s preceptive will and His dispositional will—a joyful place to be, and the place where all of God’s children belong.”.
    Before the believer leaves the pigstye to beg the Lord, the believer is still stuck trying to bring order and clean the pigstye chaos, to no avail. He has to have his efforts fail consistently to realize there is not even one connecting possibility, that can mix oil and water. It won’t blend because it is designed to be incompatible. Like the ox and the donkey. It is cruel to yoke these two beasts.

    “An ox and ass, being of different species and of very different characters, cannot associate comfortably, nor unite cheerfully in drawing a plough or a wagon. The ass being much smaller and his step shorter, there would be an unequal and irregular draft. Besides, the ass, from feeding on coarse and poisonous weeds, has a fetid breath, which its yoke fellow seeks to avoid, not only as poisonous and offensive, but producing leanness, or, if long continued, death; and hence, it has been observed always to hold away its head from the ass and to pull only with one shoulder.”

  • Theodora

    Regarding the will of God:. There’s no such thing as accidents, only incidents.

  • Eve Adam

    If an equally yoked marriage can produce bitterness it still can be dealt with but not with an unbeliever because they are unable to repent.

    Biblical Headship Vs Abusive Men ❃Paul Washer❃ – 6 mins

    • Theodora

      Yes, forcing diverse values destroys trust, resulting in a whole host of sins, such as ungodly jealousy, and the frustration of being unequally yoked can lead to serious sins such as rage, and even murder for example. Yet, almost all Christians in this bondage do not see this curse as the cause of their afflictions, so they ‘die’, committing ‘suicide’ slowly, all the while depending on odols, such as medications, gluttony, porn, drugs, etc., to treat the symptoms.
      God provides valid divorce, to prevent sins becoming worse, like sins that end up criminal, as a result of the sin of unequally yoked marriage.

      It is like nipping sin in the bud, preventing it from getting uglier.

  • Alan

    How do you explain 1 Corinthians 7:13?
    I’m curious because I’m in the unequally yoked marriage. However, she was a “Christian” at marriage but now no longer believes…and forbids me to believe.

    • Joe Porter

      Read the following article on this website: 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 Properly Interpreted Strengthens the Case for Unequally Yoked Divorce Found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

      You are in a difficult position. You should be willing to do significantly more reading on my blog to figure out what you should do. Write me again once you have done more reading and still have questions. I would be happy to provide my phone number so that we can talk more extensively if that would help you. Generally speaking, I can only give general advice from God’s Word when I do not have more details. My heart goes out to you. Your wife was deluded to think that she was a Christian. People understand so little about the bible and they rely on ministers for their understanding and belief. The vast majority of “Christians” do not know enough about God’s Word to realize they are not and never have been in Christ. Being born in a Christian family or deciding to be a member of a Christian church does not a Christian make.
      Christ’s Continued Blessings,

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