Summary: This sermon is the output of my research into divorce to address a situation with my congregation. (One note, in the preparation for this sermon, I’ve used several resources including some sermons posted on this website (some actual examples). I am truly
God, The Bible And Divorce
Before I start this message I have a favor to ask. If you have a watch on, please take it off and put it in your pocket or purse. Thanks. Last week I preached part three of my series on Pulling against God. Due to the nature and content of part of that message, the section dealing with divorce, I received several questions in reference to what I said and why I did not go deeper into that area. I understand that divorce is a very sensitive topic as many people, including myself, have been affected in some way by divorce. Everyone in this room probably knows someone that has been through a divorce. Either they have gone through one or have friends or family members who have gone through one. This topic is so sensitive that if I say the wrong thing the wrong way, some of you may not hear anything else I say. I am asking for your patience this morning as we dig deep into this topic. Last week my daughters had questions about what I said about divorce and that said a lot to me. As a pastor, I try to be guarded as to what I say because I am especially held accountable by God and I do not want to consciously butcher His word to make anyone happy. So when I stand before you on Sundays and during bible study, I do my best to make sure I understand Scripturally what is correct and that it is being applied correctly to our daily lives. I will tell you up front that I do not have all of the answers but I feel the need to go ahead and address this topic today and not wait until I finish my current series. I may go a little longer than normal, but I want to complete this message in one sermon so that no one has to wait a full week to get the rest, so I ask that you bear with me.
I. God Hates Divorce
So let me start with the point I was trying to make last week. Last week, the only thing I wanted you to walk away with was that in the beginning, when God created marriage, that He expected it to last and that should be our thinking when we entered into marriage. However, this being the sensitive subject that it is, as soon as I mentioned divorce, everyone minds probably went to a different place. God truly does hate divorce and He did not intend for divorce to happen. However, that does not means that He does not allow it in certain cases. Turn with me to Malachi 2:10-16 and we will examine God’s view and then we will transition into some other areas that address several acceptable reasons to divorce as was practiced during biblical times.
“Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another? Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord cut him off from the tents of Jacob, even though he brings offerings to the Lord Almighty. Another thing you do: you flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 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 mad them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. Any 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, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith.” Malachi 2:10-16
Malachi was addressing an issue with men who were divorcing the wives of their youth to marry pagan women. The wives had done nothing to warrant the divorce, the men just wanted someone else (the pagan women.) Not only were the men unfaithful to their marriage vows, they also treated just as lightly their faithfulness to God and worshipped the gods of their pagan wives, thus provoking the Lord. In verse 14 where Malachi says …broken faith with her…” he was talking about divorce. Malachi points out that although divorce is a personal matter, it affects the larger community and is therefore also a public matter which I will address later. In verse 16 when God says “…and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence…” He was not necessarily referring to physical violence. This was God’s way of saying that divorce, no matter how calmly and reasonably it’s done, does violence to human relationship. Anyone who has gone through one understands this. So God has made it clear that He understands divorce even though He hates it. But let me share with you something personal with God as it pertains to divorce. This is something that rarely gets discussed when the subject of divorce is being talked about. Scripture tells us that God actually divorced Israel because of her adultery. Yes you heard me right. Turn with me to Jeremiah 3:6-8. “During the reign of king Josiah, the Lord said to me, ‘Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”