The first point Malachi makes in this passage is that God has created marriage. It is his idea. It was God, not man, who made the race male and female (Gen. 1:27). It is God who looked at the man in his singleness and judged, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). It was God who brought the first man to the first woman and, as it were, performed the first marriage ceremony (Gen. 2:22). It was God who said, “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:28). It is to this original creation of man and woman and of God uniting them in one permanent marriage that Malachi refers: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? [That is, why did God not make more than one wife for Adam or more than one husband for Eve?] Because he was seeking a godly offspring. [That is, godliness is linked to marriage faithfulness. Divorce, which is itself a sin, leads to other sins.] So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Mal. 2:15).
Marriage is not only a divine institution. It is the first of all institutions and is therefore the basis of all the other institutions that follow it. From marriage and the relationships that exist within the home have come various forms of government, education institutions, and medical care. Destroy marriage, as so many today are trying to do, and all these other beneficial institutions will fall with it.
It is never God’s will that a believer marry an unbeliever – either in a first marriage, which is one obvious sin and error (2 Cor. 6:14), or in a second marriage, which seems to have been a frequent fault in Israel. The men had been divorcing their Jewish wives for the daughters of the heathen.
“But surely an unbelieving spouse can be saved by the consistent testimony of a believing wife or husband,” someone protests. “Paul says so.”
I acknowledge that that is true. But notice, Paul’s words along that line are given as encouragement to one who was married as an unbeliever and then became a believer. A person like this might be asking whether he or she should divorce the unbelieving wife or husband. Paul’s answer is no. God does not want divorce. Besides, this is the condition in life in which God has called the believing spouse to faith. That should be an encouragement that God will most likely work in the unbelieving partner’s life too. This is no promise that the unbelieving spouse will necessarily be saved, but it is an encouragement along those lines. It is not at all an authorization for a believer to marry a non-Christian.
God is gracious. We must say that not infrequently, although a Christian marries one who is not a Christian, God graciously draws the non-Christian to Christ. We praise God when that happens. But it is not the usual outcome, and it is often the case that the mixed marriage brings great sorrow and pain to the Christian.