What does God say about divorce? For years, the "D" word (divorce) has been pounded on from pulpits across America. It has carried with it a stigmatism of loser, degenerate, and second class citizen within Christiandom. Many churches do not allow divorced people to be members, others do not allow them to be deacons or elders and especially not pastors. Some go as far as demanding remarried divorced people to get divorced again and to be single in the hopes their former partner will choose to re-unite with them. Because of this prejudice against divorced people and their role in the church, I decided to write this post.
What does God say about Divorce?
There is a passage in the Bible that makes God's heart about divorce very clear. It is found in Malachi 2:16 “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.” (NLT) Now those are some pretty strong words huh? In fact I have heard those words used time and time again to bring guilt and condemnation upon those of us that have had to deal with the tragedy of divorce. But is that what God was trying to accomplish when He said that He hated divorce? Where was His heart in all of this? Why did God say He hated divorce? There is more to this story than meets the eye. You can always take one scripture and get up on your soapbox and use it in any way you want to use it, but in order to understand and know what does God say about divorce, then you need to understand the full picture of why God hates divorce.
Why did God say He hates divorce?
God hates divorce because of the pain associated with divorce. Notice He said that divorce would overwhelm the wife with cruelty. He is thinking about the pain of it. In the day and age when this was written, women were not liberated, did not own property, and did not have a way to support themselves. To divorce her was to kick her out into the streets. It is much the same way today. Most divorces, although definitely not all of them, put the woman at a great emotional and financial risk. She normally has been the homemaker and caretaker of the children and gave up her advancement in the career world for the family. When divorce happens most of the time she is ill prepared to handle the added financial and emotional strain of being a single parent and unfortunately most fathers do not step up to the plate to take on the load. They go off and start a new life. It is because of this and the pain that divorce causes all the members of the household that God said he hated divorce.
God hates the pain of divorce because He himself went through divorce!
Yes you read that right! God is divorced! He went through the pain of divorce personally with the nation of Israel. Jer 3:6-10 6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. 8 She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. 9 Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Do you hear God's heart breaking at the unfaithfulness of Israel and Judah? Do you hear the pain He is expressing at their actions to turn their hearts away from Him and to someone else? Now do you understand why God hates divorce? I do not know one person who in all transparency and honesty that would say that they loved their divorce, or love the idea of ever dealing with that deep of pain again. God never said He hated divorce with the intent that it be used to hurt people that have gone through the same type of pain that He did. He said it because it was true. He hates divorce. It broke His heart, and it breaks His heart to see anyone go through this type of pain.
So since God went through divorce, is God disqualified?
Take a look at your own heart. If God went through the pain of divorce, then is it right for you to judge a divorced person? If a person is disqualified from church membership, being a deacon, elder or pastor, because they are divorced, then in all reality God is disqualified at your church as well. Good thing He doesn't listen to our stupid prejudices and rules isn't it? So the next time you hear a sermon on how God hates divorce, just remember, God hates divorce because of the pain of divorce, and remind yourself not to inflict more pain upon that divorced person by ostracizing them and casting them out.
God Bless You All!