“It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” —Matthew 5:31–32
In all sincerity, I do not write this tritely or without compassion, yet it is clear in Scripture that God does not like divorce. Indeed, He hates divorce. This is understandable when you consider that it divides what He initiated—the marriage covenant. Remember, in Genesis God said:
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” —Genesis 2:18
What the man lacked, the woman supplied, and what the woman lacked, the man supplied. That is what the term “suitable helper” means! The complete unity of man and woman in marriage is what is often referred to as culminating into one flesh.
God intended for husbands and wives to live together permanently, the only exception for divorce being marital unfaithfulness. Marriage has been designed by God to be an inseparable bond. It is meant to be a one-flesh relationship which God joins together and individuals ought not to separate. God does not take our vows made before Him lightly and neither should we. We discover this truth in Malachi:
“You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. Yet you ask, ‘Why?’ The LORD is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. What did our ancestors do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, ‘and the one who is guilty of violence,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. ‘Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.’” —Malachi 2:13–16
Jesus was asked by the Pharisees if a divorce was lawful:
“Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.’ The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the case of a husband with a wife, it is better not to marry!’” —Matthew 19:3–10
The Lord’s own disciples’ reaction to His answer indicated their understanding of how hard it can be to live out a faithful marriage! Indeed, it is two big sinners living under one roof each seeking their own way!
While I am aware that Scripture allows divorce for marital unfaithfulness, I am also aware that in our culture we embrace divorce for a myriad of reasons. Unfortunately, problems are a part of living in a broken world amongst broken people and Christians are not to use them as an excuse to not practice generous grace. Certainly, no one is perfect and I dare say each one of us wants to be on the receiving end of mercy when we fail. We need to pray to love our spouses with Christ-like love and respect. Even if we do have a Biblical reason for divorce, we should make every effort through the Spirit’s power to seek reconciliation. God is fully aware of the sincerity of the heart and blesses His children with peace who seek to do His will. He is compassionate toward those who hurt and sees sacrificial living on our parts.
God is a Master at making “beauty from ashes.” We are always to return to Him. His mercies are new every morning and there is peace in His pleasure. God is a restorer of the broken.
“So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam no companion who corresponded to him was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.” —Genesis 2:20–24
Marriage has been designed by God to be an inseparable bond. It is meant to be a one-flesh relationship which God joins together and individuals ought not to separate. God does not take our vows made before Him lightly and neither should we.