The Book of Malachi

God, Divorce, and Apostasy – Part Five

Malachi 2:10 – 16 This week’s lessons teach us why God hates divorce.

God hates divorce because it is harmful. It is harmful to the couple involved, generally leaving scars that never truly heal. It is harmful to society. Above all it is harmful to whatever children may be involved.
Divorcing persons generally do not want to admit this, and their reluctance is understandable. They have to raise their children, and it is difficult to do this if they are laboring under guilt that divorce has done the children great harm. But admit it or not, divorce does harm children. Oh, some cope better than others. Many children of divorced parents get on with life somehow. But all are harmed, some deeply and irreparably. We live in a day of human rights. Everyone is fighting for his or her rights, as it seems. Even divorcing persons fight for their supposed right to be happy. What about the children? I maintain that they also have rights: a right to a mother and a father, a right to a stable home environment, a right to an actualized biblical model of what a God-blessed home should be. Divorce deprives them of that and often leads them into a self-destructive life pattern from which there is often no escape. The great majority of children appearing in juvenile court are from broken homes. The vast majority of prison inmates have the same background. In the final analysis, however, the fundamental reason why God hates divorce is that God has created marriage to illustrate the most blessed of all spiritual relationships – the union of a believing man or woman with Christ, the divine bridegroom of the church – and divorce must therefore illustrate apostasy, the falling away of a man or woman from God, which is damnation.

People in the Reformed tradition are strong in insisting that the work of God in the life of one of his believing sons or daughters is never frustrated and that the one he has called to himself will never be lost. God is the active agent in salvation: he elects, he regenerates, he calls, he justifies and sanctifies. At last he glorifies as the inevitable consummation of it all. We are right to insist on such a perfect gospel, for it is what Scripture teaches about salvation from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. But if that is the case, how then can we possibly compromise on God’s marriage standard and imply that divorce (and, even worse, remarriage) is permissible or even desirable because of our merely human condition?

May God, who hates divorce, deepen our marriages and begin the long and difficult task of healing our sick land.

Study Questions
  1. List the reasons mentioned in today’s lesson about why God hates divorce.
  2. How does divorce harm society overall?

Reflection: Do you know children that come from a broken home? Can you detect evidences of the impact of divorce upon their lives? Conversely, do you know any children from broken homes not impacted in some way by their parents’ divorce?

Application: Is your marriage one that reflects biblical principles and glorifies God? If not, recommit to pursuing God’s will in every facet of your relationship. Make an appointment to speak to your pastor or elder about any ongoing struggles.

Prayer: Our Father, we confess that in this and other subjects too, we like to hear what we like to hear. And when we hear your words speak clearly on the subject that runs counter to our experience or desires, we really don’t like it, and often we try to stay away. Let your Word have its way with us. And by your grace and by the power of your Holy Spirit who works through that Word, bring about changes in the way we evangelicals think, and through us, we pray, begin to infuse a measure of healing in our time.

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