“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce…” Malachi 2:16
First of all, let’s be clear that God hates divorce, not those who have been divorced. Too often these two become intertwined as one and they are not. There are reasons God hates divorce and we need to face them squarely. On the other hand, God loves people. Jesus died on the cross for each and every person and His redeeming love is available to all. We need to separate out the act of divorcing from those who divorce because without that separation we cannot truly understand how strongly God feels about divorce.
God created marriage and established it as a lifelong covenant. God’s marriage covenant empowers a man and a woman to live in unconditional love and faithfulness. This is not a human trait or a sheer determination of will. It is a divine gift that accompanies God’s plan for marriage.
Divorce is a clear statement that God’s power and ability are not enough. Reasons given for divorce are a direct affront to the words of Jesus as He died on the cross, “It is finished.” His death and resurrection dealt with all sin so there is nothing left that He did not conquer with His blood. Nothing should be unforgivable this side of the cross.
Divorce is also a direct refusal to honor vows we made to God to be faithful. “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.”
In addition, divorce violates several of the Ten Commandments:
The fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” Divorce creates a situation in the lives of children that causes them to be torn between their father and their mother. In the worst case scenario, one parent pits the children against the other. In the best case scenario when divorced parents attempt to work together for the sake of the children, the children are still caught between two households, often two families, and two sets of rules and values. Honoring both parents is a challenge that few adults could master and yet small children are expected to be able to do it.
The seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus said that divorcing and marrying another while your spouse is still alive is adultery.
The tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” Statistically a large number of those who divorce are already involved with someone else. Getting involved with someone who is married to another or while one is married to another is forbidden by God. In the Church it is even worse because it is a brother’s wife or a sister’s husband. John put it best when he told Herod, “You have your brother’s wife.”
Violating God’s commandments opens the door for curses in our lives. Deuteronomy 28 says, “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes. Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them.” (How often does divorce bring about financial difficulties, loss of homes, loss of property, and a feeling of helplessness to be able to stop it?)
“Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.” (Losing custody or facing divided custody of children is always a result of divorce.)
Deuteronomy 28 continues, “You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” (It is easy to blame problems on a previous spouse or hateful in-laws or many other things, but constantly striving to get on top of things is a direct result of divorce. This is one of the reasons that subsequent marriages disintegrate at rates higher than first marriages.)
“You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (A family’s genealogy is broken by divorce. The multiplication of descendants that should have come from the marriage is greatly limited after the divorce. We see in scripture that lineage and legacy are very important to God. Whole chapters of books in the Bible are dedicated to following the descendants in a family.)
Decisions made by a married couple are not just about them. Their choices affect their children and the generations to follow. Their choices affect society. Their choices affect the image of God in the earth. The choice to divorce is like a ripple in the water. It continues going out affecting not only those in this generation but in generations to come as well.
God hates divorce because it is everything He is not. It violates His Word and His covenant.
It is time we stop making excuses for divorce and recognize that we have all we need in Christ to overcome any attack on our marriage and family. When He gave us a covenant that is to last a lifetime, He gave us everything we need to ensure our faithfulness. The beginning of Deuteronomy 28 speaks of the blessings that follow obedience. It is not about what makes us happy. It is about how the world sees God through our lives.