Picture it, September 2011. I am home on fall break from school and my mom takes me out to pick up groceries for the house. As we are driving to the store I catch her up on school and she gives me updates about the church. The topic turns to the family and when she starts talking about my dad her entire demeanor changes for the worse. I listened to her vent about her frustrations that had been pent up over ten years of being in North Carolina and it not going as she had planned. We pull into the store parking lot; she cuts off the car and stares out at the rain. We sit together in silence for a moment and then she tells me that she and my father are going to get a divorce. I always knew my parents hadn’t had a particularly happy marriage, but when she told me they were getting a divorce a mixture of anger, sadness, and frustration churned in my chest. From that moment on I started looking up scriptures to help her come back to her senses. I found three instances in the bible and all of them basically say the same thing: God hates divorce.
My question was, why?
If two people are unhappy or if there is infidelity, or even abuse God should be ok with divorce as long as you have a good reason….
Or so I thought.
Whether your reasons are justified or not God still hates divorce. Simply because: marriage is meant to last for life. When a couple gets married that covenant is supposed to be upheld for as long as they live, through kids, sickness, death and all the other hardships of life that come our way. Marriage itself has a twofold purpose, first, to act as a physical example to the world of God’s unconditional love and second, to produce godly offspring. When you get divorced you can no longer fulfill the first purpose and fulfilling the second purpose becomes extremely difficult. Co-parenting without living in the confines of marriage is a near impossibility. Thankfully we serve a God who specializes in the impossible.
God knows what divorce does to the couple involved, the children, and society at large as a result; however there are some exceptional times where you would be justified in getting a divorce.
In Malachi 2:16 directly after God expresses his disdain for divorce he says “I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as his garment.” Some translations say: “I hate a man’s covering his wife with violence as well as his garment.” (AMPC) God has not and never will be on the side of an abusive spouse. If you find yourself in that situation you need to leave.
Matthew 19:9 and Mathew 5:32 make most people believe that you can point to unfaithfulness as a loophole and grounds for an automatic divorce. Since adultery is a form of sexual immorality technically speaking you would be justified in getting a divorce from a consistently unfaithful spouse. However, when you look at the scriptures in their cultural context, you discover a deeper meaning. In Jewish tradition marriage takes place in two stages; the betrothal (kiddushin, where the bride accepts the man’s proposal, her family accepts the bride price and they pay the dowry) and fully fledged marriage (nisuin, where the bride a broom move in together and they partake of the wedding feast). There was about a year between these two stages; however once you were in the betrothal stage you were seen as husband and wife in the sight of God and the law. Matthew is speaking to individuals stuck in the space between kiddushin and nisuin, where a lot of divorces took place because of that long separation and lack of intimacy.
Divorce was never a part of God’s will for his people it is a result of our sin nature. If you are in the position where you are considering divorce and you are justified in getting one according to scripture. I implore you to continue to seek God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you are seeking a divorce and scripture is not in agreement with your reasons for getting one I implore you to do the same thing. Marriage is meant to last for life. Divorce is not a decision to be made lightly whether it is justified or not God still hates it. And he still loves you divorced or not.
Peace and Blessings