Friday, May 22, 2015

God Hates Divorce

We've been talking about marriage for two weeks: sex, faithfulness, encouragement, books about marriage.  You might be wondering why.  The answer is simple. Railing against divorce seemed so much less helpful than trying our best to strengthen our own marriages through what we write, as well as the marriages of you our readers. See, we hate divorce.

God hates divorce because He loves YOU!  Marriage | Christian | Faith | Bible |Relationship
Does hate seem like a strong word?  Melissa and I have seen what it does to our friends and family members.  The damage is economic, educational, medical and psychological.  It stretches not only to damage the marriages of multiple generations within a family but also damages the marriages of those around us.* 

For all that we like to think of this as a new problem, it's not.  God hated divorce long before we did.

Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure.
You cry out, "Why doesn't the LORD accept my worship?"
I'll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn't the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.
"For I hate divorce!" says the LORD, the God of Israel. "To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife." Malachi 3:13-16 NLT
If your first thought is this means God hates you if you're divorced, think again. God loves you; that's WHY he hates divorce.  Just because the pieces can be put back together doesn't mean that a sacred bond and the lives inside of it weren't shattered in the first place.  Malachi reveals for us what God always wanted from marriage: a safe place to grow. 

For women marriage should be a safe place to grow older, a place to be valued for something other than her fading beauty.  She can grow old safe in her husband's arms not terrified that he'll trade his forty in for a pair of twenties. She can count on him to love her heavy with child, drowsy from being up with a newborn, frazzled from dealing with a teenager and crazy with menopause. As she is faithful, God intended her husband to be faithful. God does not discount the possibility that she could be the faithless one. But He insists that a situation where the loyal wife of youth is suddenly thrust out into the cold world to fend for herself is cruel.

What about children?  God wants marriage to be a place where godly children are nurtured.  It doesn't mean that it is impossible for single moms to raise godly children. Timothy's father certainly doesn't seem to have had a hand in his spiritual education.  But God intended the father's role in the family to be an echo of his own role in the lives of human beings.  And the trauma of being deserted by a father as pictured here in Malachi flies directly in the face of our faithful God.  The fact that God is father to the fatherless and declares that true religion is to care for them doesn't negate their suffering.

For men marriage is also a place of growth.  He grows to be more like God day by day.  He is called to love sacrificially the way Jesus Christ loved (Ephesians 5).  He learns to be a true husband to the woman described as "your faithful partner" or in another translation "your companion and your wife by covenant."  God gave marriage as a place for men to grow to be fathers as he is a Father.  Choosing to leave all that shatters more than just a metaphor.

God intended marriage to be holy, a metaphor of God and his people, characterized by faithfulness and godly offspring.  Divorce desecrates these holy things and leaves behind a ruin. God hates that.  We do too.  Both Melissa and I have faithful husbands and happy years of marriage (13 and almost 16 respectively).  Yet we know we are unusually blessed.  It's a blessing we long for you. We hope that your marriage will be long, fruitful, faithful and happy as well.  And if divorce has stolen any of that from you, we pray that God will be about his business of restoration in your life.


*I encourage you to read these two studies. Despite their academic density, they support the idea that the damage done by divorce is comprehensive, contagious and long-lasting.

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