Q: “Is there a Bible verse which says that a person can have a separation? Someone has suggested Proverbs 25:24.”
A: The Proverbs passage, which says, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife,” is a repeat of Proverbs 21:9 and is similar to 21:19. These verses from Proverbs, however, are simply stating the reality of how severe contentiousness is in the home, and therefore should not be used to support separation or divorce.
Paul’s words in I Corinthians 7:10, 11 mention that married couples are not to “separate,” that is, are not to get a divorce for any unscriptural reason. At the same time, Paul says that if one of the spouses would leave under such a condition, the person should remain unmarried or be reconciled. Paul does not want a Christian to make the “separation” a permanent situation. It is this kind of “separation” which Scripture clearly denounces.
We also use the word “separation” today, not to refer to a divorce, but to refer to a span of time in which a husband and wife have distanced themselves from each other for the specific purpose of conducting a healthy examination of their marriage, in sincere hopes of restoring the bond. Pastors may at times even find themselves advising this kind of a “separation period,” provided that both spouses do not think of this as the first step toward divorce and are intent on making concrete efforts at reconciliation. Whenever reconciliation is needed, a Christian will naturally wish to make genuine, heart-felt attempts (Matt. 18:15, Eph. 4:26). Also, such a “separation period” will not be unduly long, since our Lord Jesus urges us all to settle our differences quickly (Matt. 5:23-26). Needless to say, much devotion to prayer would be demanded in such a circumstance, and a firm commitment at refusing to encourage the development of “another” relationship.
There is so much pressure in our permissive society to regard spouses who are “separated” but not divorced as fair game for courtship. Therefore, this manner of counseling spouses toward reconciliation must be used with extreme caution.