Originally posted at: http://applyingmybeliefs.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/concerning-divorce/
In the Christian community we often discourage divorce, sometimes inappropriately, and some of us often encourage divorce, equally inappropriately. Perhaps we ought to become a little more educated about what God says on this topic. Most of us know this phrase from Malachi 2:16:
- God hates divorce.
There is nothing wrong with this quote. However, it is an incomplete quote and we do a disservice to each other if we don’t quote God more fully. This is the full quote; normally I use the ESV but their translation is poor for this section of scripture, so I’m going back to the NASU (New American Standard – Updated):
Mal 2:13-16 – This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” NASU
This is written as a warning to men about divorce and I think we ought to learn what it says, in the sense of memorize the main points, and we ought to understand the sentiments expressed.
What does it say?
I’m going to paraphrase what is said to us to highlight the basics of this issue, remembering that this is from God’s perspective:
Okay guys! You come to Me with your whining, pleading and crying because life is not going well. I hear you, but I’m not going to look upon these requests favorably; you ask Me why; let Me tell you why.
I was a witness at your wedding. I accepted your vows as true, and I have been blessing that marriage ever since. But you have betrayed your vows, betrayed your wife and by inference you have betrayed Me. You did this to the wife, whom I consecrated by My presence to be your intimate companion, thereby breaking the highest form of human relationship that I designed, the covenantal marriage. You broke all those unconditional promises you made in front of Me; You simply cannot be trusted to keep your word.
And you wonder why things aren’t going well for you!
Buddy, when you head off into unfaithfulness and divorce you aren’t listening to My Holy Spirit; you are doing what is right in your own eyes. Let me put you and everybody else on that path straight.
When any man considers divorce I will speak through My Spirit to them. I will tell them do not be a traitor to the holy vow of following God Almighty, do not be a traitor to the holiest of the earthly vows a man can make, that of unconditional marriage and do not be a traitor to the wife you promised to love and cherish.
While I’m not going to call this a sin, I am going to let you know that I hate it.
I hope that this comes over as a strong word; because that is the way I interpret how God feels about this subject. He seems to lay the onus of dealing with this issue on the man, which I’m going to accept as a part of the spiritual leadership that a man shoulders in a marriage. However, most of these things can also be said to the wives in our culture, so they aren’t off the hook.
Some Final Words
Divorce is a damaging event. Some of the things it does are; destroys the sacredness of marriage, launches women into poverty and takes the father out of the home. Is it any wonder that God speaks so strongly about it?
While divorce is something to be avoided if possible, there are three reasonable situations when divorce might be considered; these are the three “As.”
- Abandonment – One spouse permanently leaves the other.
- Abuse – One spouse deliberately harms the other in an ongoing and systematic way.
- Adultery – One spouse has one or more intimate relationships outside of marriage; sex is not the issue, emotional connection is. (Mt 5:28)
It may be hard to stay with a difficult spouse, but that doesn’t mean we must give up and break our word.
This is our instruction:
James 5:12 – But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. ESV
My opinion is on this is that the most important place that this ought to be followed is within the boundaries of a marriage.