John Piper: Can You Get a Divorce if You Fall Out of Love With Your Spouse?

Interview with John Piper:

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Audio Transcript

Happy Friday. Thanks for listening to the podcast! Today, Pastor John joins us over the phone for a question from a puzzled parent who writes in anonymously. “Pastor John, my adult son wants to get a divorce from his wife. They have been married for two years and have a 1-year-old son and a newborn baby daughter of[ 10] periods age-old. I’m altogether perplexed by the timing. I don’t understand why he feels unhappy, but he claims he is’ no longer in love’ with his wife anymore. What would you say to someone who has’ fallen out of love’ with their spouse, and why that’s no grounds for divorce? ”

Well, what I would say to them face to face would depend partly on their demeanor, but I don’t have him face to face. So I’m just going to say what I think he likely needs to hear. Whether I would say it precisely like this, I don’t know. But here we go.

Beyond Reasoning

We would be naive, I suppose, to suppose that people, young or age-old — our own children or those of others — will act on the basis of reason and biblical truth when it comes to justifying divorce. I would guess that 95 instances out of 100 people do what they want to do and then find reasons to do it. Those who claim to believe the Bible will find biblical reasons to do it. They know what they’re going to do. They want to do it. They do it.

We should be realistic as we talk to people, and we should pray. That’s the greatest realism. Pray and fast that God would do what our biblical arguings and reasoning, by themselves, could never do.

Having said that, I altogether believe in speaking the truth in love because it’s God’s way. It’s God’s design that people should know the truth and the truth would define them free. And that context is free from sin, like leaving your wife.

I would hang my guess on three terms: exultation, significance, and possession. I would try to attain those three words as compelling and winsome as I can, but also as forceful as Jesus and the apostles did for the sake of staying married. Let me say a word about what I entail by rejoice, implication, and ownership.


I would say to this young man who wants a divorce because he’s not in love, “Oh, what exuberance lies ahead for those who do not break their covenant even when their nerves are broken.” Here’s what I signify. I believe that most couples who stay married for[ 50] or[ 60] years fall in and out of enjoy numerous hours. I say that with not the slightest clue of trying to be funny.

It is, in my judgement, virtually ludicrous to think that we experience “being in love” the same for the whole[ 60] times, just like we felt at the beginning of such relationships. That’s simply utterly crazy. It is naive and immature to think that remaining married is chiefly about staying in love.

In a relationship between two sinners forced to live as close as married couple live, it is naive to think that every season will be one of warmth and sweetness and sexual intrigue. That’s only contrary to nearly the entire history of countries around the world and contrary to every makeup of fallen human nature.

Staying married is not first about staying in love. It’s about covenant continuing, promise-keeping. Be a man and woman of your term, a man and woman who keeps the swears to be committed for better or for worse, both men and women of character. That’s what it’s about.

This covenant maintaining relates to being in love. We get this. I thought about how to say this. This covenant keeping relates to being in love the way gardening in the fall relates to roses in the spring. This is why I said a minute ago, “Oh, what pleasure lies ahead for those who do not violate their covenant even when their nerves are broken.”

The modern world of self-centeredness and self-exaltation and self-expression has taken the normal[ 50] -year process of falling in and out of desire and turned it into a[ 50] -year process of multiple divorces and remarriages. That pattern has not and will not bear the fruit of exuberance. It leaves a trail of suffering in spirit and sadnes along the generations.

Marriage is the hardest relationship to stay in and the one that promises glorious, unique, durable pleasures for those who have the specific characteristics to keep their covenant. That’s what I mean by joy .


Here’s what I entail by significance . God made available to husbands and spouses the highest possible significance for their marriage relationship by showing them what its greatest and most glorious meaning is — namely, the replication in the world of the covenant relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.

That’s what the highest meaning of marriage is. There is no higher, more glorious, more significant notion of wedlock than the one that Paul portrays in Ephesians 5. Marriage is a parable of the greatest, strongest, deepest, sweetest, richest relationship in the universe — the blood-bought union between Christ, the Son of God, and his bride, the church. That’s the meaning, that’s the significance of marriage.

I would just say to this young man that you are acting or about to act on one of the lowest opinions of matrimony — not one of the highest, but one of the lowest panoramas of wedding. If you divorce because you don’t feel love anymore, there is nothing noble , nothing great , nothing beautiful , nothing high , nothing truly significant about such a motive.

What does it say about Christ based on such a simulate of a man’s commitment in matrimony? What does it say if he forsakes his wife because he doesn’t is like remaining anymore? What does it say about Christ? That’s the issue.

Marriage is an act of adore. It’s a presentation of the cost and the preciousness of the covenant-keeping desire between Christ and his faith. Covenant keeping in wedlock glorifies Christ and the blood he shed to possess a bride forever. We cannot even conceive of a greater implication of matrimony than the one God has given.


Lastly, the word owned . What do I signify by possession ? What I intend by owned is that the union between a man and a woman isn’t theirs to breach. They didn’t create it. They can’t violate it. It’s not theirs. Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not humankind separate”( Mark 10:9 ).

It’s another sign of the man-centeredness and contemporary self-centeredness of Christianity that a young pair would have the mindset that they created the union called wedlock and, therefore, they can breaking it. They didn’t make it. They can’t transgress it. God induced it. God breaks it with death, or, as I envision Paul would say, “You are free to break your wedding covenant when Christ breaks his covenant with his bride.”

For the sake of maximum, long-term exhilaration; for the sake of the deepest and highest implication; and for the best interests of the manufacturer and owner of your union, keep your covenant. Oh, what exuberance lies ahead beyond anything you can presently suppose for those who keep their covenant, even when their nerves are broken.

** Such articles appeared originally on Desiring God .</ strong ></ em>


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