Summary: Divorce is a near universal experience as pervasive as it has become. Some of you are still dealing with the pains of divorce. For some, it may be hard to sit here without tears running down your face. Others of you are struggling in your marriage and sec
Christian and Divorce
How many of you have been touched by divorce, either yourself or through a family member or friend? Raise your hands. Divorce is a near universal experience as pervasive as it has become. Some of you are still dealing with the pains of divorce. For some, it may be hard to sit here without tears running down your face. Others of you are struggling in your marriage and secretly, you have thought about divorce and whether it would be easier if you took that step. Divorce places us on both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, we need to hear about God’s grace and to receive his healing touch in our lives. On the other, we need to hear a word of encouragement and a challenge to hang in there, to keep working, and not give up. That tension will be present throughout this morning.
We know that society’s stance has changed over the last century regarding divorce, making that which was taboo now acceptable and that which is extremely difficult much easier to accomplish. But what does the Bible say about divorce? This morning we’re going to do a survey of several Biblical passages. Deuteronomy 4:1-4 is the most extensive passage in all five of the books of Moses. These are the books of the law and they tell us of the rules God set up for His people. Listen to what this passage says and does not say. “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled.” That is the sum total of the ethical teaching of divorce in the Law of Moses. It doesn’t say anything about the morality of divorce. It doesn’t say divorce is bad and that no one can have one. Two things we learn from this: first, 3500 years ago in the time of Moses, divorce was commonplace and God set certain parameters about how to go about that process. Second, a man could divorce his wife if he found anything objectionable about her. That’s a frightening thought because I don’t know a man who doesn’t find something objectionable in his wife. And I don’t know a wife who doesn’t find something objectionable in her husband. That’s a pretty free and open divorce policy.
Now we find a corrective to that in Malachi 2:13-16. This passage was written almost one 1000 years after Moses. It addressed divorce in a culture where men were divorcing the wives of their youth and marrying foreign women. And so Malachi speaks these words: “You ask, "Why?" It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel.” Here we find a very different perspective on divorce from the Law of Moses. God says that divorce is not just a bad idea but that He hates it.
Now think with me for a moment. In a perfect world with perfect people, when two people come together in covenant marriage, they understand it as a mutual ministry and calling from God, and they pray for one another. They serve one another and seek to meet each other’s needs and are committed to that person no matter what. In a world like that, divorce would not exist. God didn’t design marriage and then include a divorce clause. God designed marriage to last a lifetime. But the reality is we live in a world where many people don’t live that way. God hates divorce. Would we expect God to say anything else? God hates divorce because it tears people apart and marriage is about uniting two people. He hates divorce because he knows it is going to have an impact on children’s lives. He knows it takes a toll on someone’s self-esteem, on their soul and even their relationship to Him. God hates divorce because it is painful, ugly and damaging to all involved. God doesn’t want that for any of His children. But what this passage doesn’t say is that he looks at all situations the same way. It also doesn’t say that hates those who are divorced. It doesn’t say there may be some situations where divorce is the only way. It doesn’t address any of those issues. It simply says that God believes divorce is a bad idea.