Author: Ron Graham
What God Says About Divorce
—Part 1, Three Good Rules
Divorce not only displeases God, it does terrible harm to our society, and leaves many victims suffering. In this lesson we focus on the problem of divorce. God’s solution to this problem is very simple, yet it is a complete and thorough solution.
If Australians today followed, with both heart and body, the three simple points below, our society would be transformed. The rampant lions would be caged —sexually transmitted disease, mental illness, family breakdown, vicious injustice, child neglect, financial ruin, genetic confusion, spiritual morbidity, and more besides.
1 Honour Marriage
The Bible has this simple but strong rule: "Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4)
Marriage, the one cup from which God permits a couple to drink of the pleasure of sexual union, is rejected by a great many Australians today.
- Fornication: People are commonly committing fornication because they engage in sexual unions not sanctified by marriage. There seem to be as many couples in so called “defacto relationships” as there are in marriages.
- Adultery: People are violating existing marriages by having sex with others besides their own husband or wife, or having sex with someone else’s husband or wife. This adultery is so common it is hardly frowned upon.
- Divorce: Married people in great numbers are also breaking up and getting divorced, entering into new marriages and often getting divorced again.
2 Hate Divorce
God hates divorce. He considered that when a man takes a wife in marriage, the man makes a covenant with the wife for as long as they both live. God expects the covenant to be honoured. God sees divorce as treachery. God sees his altar covered with the tears, as the victims of divorce weep before him.
Yes, God hates divorce. "For the LORD God of Israel says that he hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence... Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:13-16).
If God hates divorce, surely we should hate it too.
Jesus was opposed to divorce. He points out that adultery, if not the cause of divorce, is the result of it. Either someone commits adultery which causes a divorce, or someone gets a divorce which causes adultery when a new marriage is consummated. Jesus regards divorce and adultery as two evils which together dissolve a marriage before its proper time.
3 Do Justice
"He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, "It was because of your hardness of heart that Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:8).
When you make a vow, the just thing is to keep that vow, not to abandon it when the going gets tough or when you discover you should not have made it.
But what if your husband or wife breaks the vow made to you? When one discovers that one’s husband or wife has been unfaithful, one may think it just to get a divorce. However, as the saying goes, “two wrongs don't make a right.”
The just and merciful thing one should do, is to plead humbly with the one who has committed adultery, that he or she might repent, accept forgiveness, and be reconciled to you.
Be warned however, that even if your plea is accepted, your prayers are answered, and your patience is rewarded, the way forward may be hard and complicated. Doing justly and loving mercy is not always easy, but it is always best.
Of course your plea may be refused, and your waiting end in disappointment. Your erstwhile partner may go on sinning wilfully, and become so immoral, and so involved in fornication, that you can no longer look for reunion (1Corinthians 6:15, 7:15).
Eventually you may have to do what you hate, and divorce that partner if he or she has not already divorced you. But at least you tried your best to preserve the marriage, to avoid divorce, and to fulfill your vows. Moreover, you did justly and you loved mercy. This is what God asks of you.