“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the LORD who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.” Malachi 2:16
As the below infographic depicts, divorce is a common thing in our American culture. It doesn’t matter your race, religion or preference. Divorce is an epidemic that is destroying families all across this country. I myself have been witness too many divorces and most of them have not been pretty. Everyone involved with the divorce, including friends suffer the devastation that is left in the wake of divorce. Are all divorces ugly? No, but that is more the exception than the rule.
Our passage today comes from the book of Malachi. Which if you have ever read it, is not such a great message to hear from God. In reading it one would think that God had gotten to the breaking point. It would seem as though God was ready for a divorce. His people, were everything but compatible with Him and He had a list of all their faults and shortcomings. Kinda sounds like what you would hear in a divorce counseling session. Yet when it seems as though all hope is lost God closes His rebuke with this:
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey. Look I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgement.” Malachi 4:4-6
Though in his righteous anger God was mad and within His own right to simply judge the earth and start over, He instead left Israel with hope for reconciliation. This brings us to the question, “Why does God hate divorce?” This question takes us to Ephesians 5:22-33. For the follower of Christ who has been married for any amount of time, you know this passage all too well. This is Paul’s great command for wives to submit to their husbands as the church (bride of Christ) submits to Christ. In turn Paul commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (his bride). Paul is saying that marriage should be the best physical representation on this earth of what our relationship to Christ and ultimately to God looks like. We submit to Him, trust Him with authority over our lives and He loves us sacrificially, provides for us and guides us according to His will. If marriage is a representation of our relationship to God then could it be that God hates divorce because it goes against the truth of our relationship to Him. The scriptures very plainly say that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38-39). Divorce shows to the unbelieving world that God’s love could be conditional. Many would say, “that’s a difficult expectation to live up to.” I would reply with, “Yes! You are right.” Only by the power of God’s Spirit in you can you love another person the way that God loves us. A love that says, “even when the list of offenses is too long to recount there will always be hope for reconciliation.” Take a moment and praise God for His unfailing love and thank Him for not giving up on you the way that many have given up on their spouses and ultimately given up on Him.
Before I close, I want to address a common excuse given by people who want a divorce. So often I have heard this said by divorcing couples, “I am so un-happy! Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” Unfortunately, God is more concerned with His glory (rightfully so, He is the creator of the universe) than He is with your happiness here on this earth which as the Bible says is but a vapor (James 4:14) or a hand breadth (Psalm 39:5) (more simply put a very short period of time). I would also say that if God were so concerned about your happiness, then He would guard you from all persecution, infirmity and poverty. After all, that is what makes people “happy” in this world right? (Please note my sarcasm!) This worldview comes from the prosperity gospel which is a lie straight from the pits of Hell! If this false gospel were true then wouldn’t Christ, our example for living, have experienced the same? At this point I would say that I am beating a dead horse.
God is concerned with your happiness as long as your contentment and joy is found in Him. A person who is filled with the Spirit finds joy in loving others more than themselves (Philippians 2) and meeting the needs of others more than having their needs met. Christ let us, His bride, walk all over Him and ultimately put Him to death so that we could be reconciled unto to God. He took the beating of a lifetime by the very ones He came to save. He was unrecognizable as man or beast. Beaten to a bloody pulp and still asked for God’s forgiveness on those that were torturing Him. For those who have been divorced, God’s grace is sufficient to cover your sins. For those in the midst of divorce, humble yourselves before the Lord and deny your own selfish desires and consider the needs of your spouse. You might find that through the power of God’s Spirit you can forgive the most unforgiving offenses and find love for someone who you once thought was unlovable. After all, isn’t that what God did for us and promises to do through us?
I close with this passage out of Mark 10:9
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.