If a couple has absolutely no sex life, are they still married in God's eyes? To put it another way, when does a divorce actually begin? Biblically speaking, I've always believed that sexual intercourse is the glue that cements the marital bond. Scripture indicates as much when it says, "The two shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). 1 Corinthians 6:16 seems to underscore this idea. This is all very pertinent to my situation. For at least the last twenty years my marriage has been totally sexless. At one point my wife actually said to me, "You need to understand that we are never having sex again." Does that mean that, from God's perspective, we're already divorced?
Technically speaking, you've raised a very interesting question. Consistent with the point you've made in connection with Genesis 2:25 and 1 Corinthians 6:16, Jesus appears to teach (in Matthew 19:6) that divorce in the absolute sense is a physical and spiritual impossibility. In other words, He seems to say that the union created through sexual intercourse is in some sense unbreakable: "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
In the verses that follow, Christ expands on this idea by suggesting that, in actuality, divorce has never been anything but a sort of "legal fiction." It's a formal concession to human sin, weakness, and hardness of heart that can never really undo the organic connection established when a man and woman become "one flesh." If this is true, then the answer to your question is that, in God's eyes, a divorce can never "begin" at all. It can't begin if it doesn't actually exist.
We realize that a response like this probably isn't going to help you deal with the problems you're facing in your marriage. If you believe what Jesus says about the permanence of the bond between you and your wife, you may have a greater motivation to fight for the relationship and work your way through the difficulties. But to make that happen you need a plan of action. At this point the most important question is not theoretical – "When does a 'divorce' begin?" It's practical – "Why has my wife said, 'We are never having sex again?'" If you want to answer that question, you're going to need the help and guidance of a trained and licensed marriage counselor.
Call us. Our staff counselors would be happy to discuss this question with you over the phone. They can also provide a list of recommend therapists practicing in your area.
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