The Lord's Hatred of Divorce
Prof. David J. Engelsma
This pamphlet is a sermon, revised slightly, but a
sermon nevertheless; a sermon made for the churches, where Professor
Engelsma preaches many Lord's Days.
When this sermon was preached in Hudsonville PRC,
late in 1997, a decision was made shortly thereafter to give the sermon
larger audience by means of a pamphlet. The urgency of the subject and
the clarity of the message pressed us to spread the word widely.
It is a sharp sermon, but God's Word is often sharp.
Discipline is painful—family discipline, church discipline, personal
discipline. This sermon is God's discipline of us by the Word. Perhaps
the reason that we cannot hear these words easily is that we are not
accustomed to any discipline. But the pain of hearing it does not lessen
the importance of spreading this message far and wide, for the glory of
God and the saving of marriages.
The only regret we have in these printed words is
that, reading, you cannot sense the passion, the godly zeal, the
urgency, of a man who served marriages in God's church for 25 years, and
now trains pastors in the PRC seminary. Thus, a tape is also available
of the sermon. Please order it at our address below, and pass it around.
May God's Word, written or spoken, preserve us in our
marriages, for God's sake.
Hudsonville PRC Evangelism Committee, May, 1998
The Lord's Hatred of Divorce
Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath
been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou
hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of
And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue
of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed.
Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously
against the wife of his youth.
For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he
hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith
the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye
deal not treacherously.
Many today have a good word to say for divorce. Many
churches bless divorce. Many professing Christians speak well of it.
They defend divorce. They approve it. They even advocate it. Divorce,
they say, is necessary. It is permissible. It is right. It is
Of course, they do not have a good word for every
divorce. A few are too scandalous even for contemporary Christianity.
But they do defend and approve many divorces. By no means do they limit
their defence to divorce on the ground of the sexual unfaithfulness of
one's marriage companion, the one ground for divorce according to Jesus
Matthew 19:9. But they defend divorces that are obtained for other
reasons—many other reasons.
Some are interested to justify their own divorces.
Others are determined to excuse the divorces of fellow members of the
congregation or of members of their family. Churches cave in to the
pressure of divorces in the congregations, which keep pace with this
evil in the world.
Some are outspoken in their defence of divorce. "You
cannot make a blanket condemnation of divorce," they say; "divorce can
be a good thing." Others approve divorce by simply remaining silent and
accepting the sinner who has wickedly divorced. Some churches now speak
well of divorce by adopting and publishing new decisions that open wide
the doors of the kingdom of heaven to unbiblical divorce. Others, more
subtle, bless divorce by refusing to discipline the members who divorce
and by receiving those who have divorced into their fellowship. All have
a good word to say for divorce.
Then they turn on those who will not say a good word
about divorce, but instead condemn it as an evil. In sorrow or, as is
more often the case, in anger, friends, relatives, and fellow church
members ask, "Why are you so hard-nosed in condemning divorce? How can
you be so unloving as to refuse fellowship with the one who has
divorced?" Intense pressure is put on the saints to join in speaking a
good word on behalf of divorce.
God's Old Testament Stand on Divorce
Authoritative for the saints is God's attitude
toward, and judgment of divorce. Often the question comes up, "What is
your stand on divorce?" Or, "What stand does your preacher take on
divorce?" Or, "What stand do your churches have on divorce?" These are
important questions. Every believer must take a stand—the right stand.
Every preacher must take a stand—and make it known, sharply and
clearly, to his congregation. Every denomination of churches must have a
stand--distinguishing that fellowship of churches and assisting each
congregation and each individual in that fellowship.
Decisive, however, is God's stand on divorce. This is
Malachi 2:14-16, quoted above. "For the Lord, the God of
Israel, saith that he hateth putting away," that is, divorce (v.16). The
God of Israel, whose name is Jehovah, has nothing good to say of divorce
whatsoever. He does not defend it, but rather condemns and prohibits it.
What makes this an especially powerful testimony is
that it reveals God's attitude toward divorce in the time of the old
covenant. The passage is God's Word by Malachi the prophet to Judah
about the year 400 B.C. That was a time, it is widely supposed, when God
was somewhat easier on His people in the matter of divorce. Everyone
knows that divorce was practiced in Israel. Indeed, it is difficult to
escape the impression that for present-day Christians, as for the
Pharisees of old,
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is the only text in the Old Testament Bible on
marriage and divorce. All know too that Jesus in
Matthew 19:9 states that during that time "Moses suffered," or
permitted, men to put away their wives, although many conveniently
ignore that the Lord added, "because of the hardness of your hearts."
In that age, the Lord God hated divorce.
He has not changed since then. The only change is
that with the shining of the full light of the gospel His hatred of
divorce is better known. It ought, therefore, to be more obediently
acknowledged by the New Testament church in confession and in life.
Divorce is the Evil
God's prophet condemns a certain evil in Judah.
Obviously it is an especially grievous sin. Those who are guilty of it
are dealing treacherously. The evil is closely related to the sin
exposed in verses 11-13 as "abomination" and "profaning the holiness of
the Lord." It is a sin of husbands against their wives. What it
is, verse 16 states: "putting away." The Hebrew word translated "putting
away" is the word that is regularly used in the Old Testament of
divorce. The grievous sin in Judah is that husbands are divorcing their
This evil is closely related to the wickedness that
is judged in verses 11-13: remarriage. The men of Judah are marrying
"the daughter of a strange god," that is, heathen women of the nations
around them. That Scripture describes these new wives in this way
reminds God-fearing young men that the most important characteristic of
the woman whom they marry is spiritual. She must be the daughter of the
one, true God, the God whose name is Jehovah/Jesus. In the interests of
new marriages with pagan women, the men of Judah are divorcing their
Nothing has changed since the time of Malachi. Behind
divorce lies the desire for marriage with another woman. In my 25 years
as a pastor in the churches I learned to ask every man who poured out
his tale of woe about his miserable wife and lamented that he had fallen
out of love with her so that he could not live with her any longer, "Who
is the other woman?" I do not recall that I was ever mistaken. The
motive of divorce, usually, is lust.
Nevertheless, God condemns the divorce that precedes
the remarriage. It is not remarriage, or even divorce because it leads
to remarriage, that God here condemns, but the "putting away" as such.
The result of the divorce is great sorrow on the part of the divorced
wives. Theirs are the tears, weeping, and crying out of verse 13. The
cause of these oppressed women, the Lord takes up in the passage.
It is evident from this that no shame attaches to one in the church who
has been unjustly divorced by her husband. God Himself sees her plight,
pities her, and arises for her defence.
Equality of Judgment for Women
Although the Old Testament prophet condemns the
divorcing of their wives by husbands, it is implied that wives' putting
away, or leaving, their husbands is equally reprehensible. First, the
statement concerning God's hatred of divorce is absolute and
unqualified. He hates divorce, all divorce, not only that carried out by
husbands. Second, as we shall see, the grounds given for God's hatred of
divorce apply as much to the case of a wife divorcing her husband as to
the case of a husband divorcing his wife. Take only the ground of
treachery. It is as treacherous for a wife to divorce her husband as it
is for a husband to divorce his wife.
In the days of the prophet, the position of the woman
was such that it was unheard of that she would put her husband away.
Today, it is different. There is equality of civil rights and of
cultural possibilities for divorce. It is as common that the wife
divorces her husband as that the husband divorces his wife. Many a
husband's tears cover the altar of the Lord. There is as much
need today to say, "Take heed, you wives, that you do not deal
treacherously," as to address this warning to husbands.
The Strange Word "Hatred"
Toward this evil of divorce, the attitude of the Lord
is hatred. In this Word, God reveals the attitude of His very being.
There is in the text a prohibition of divorce: "let none deal
treacherously against the wife of his youth." Behind this prohibition
lies the condemnation of the sin: treachery. And behind the condemnation
is the divine hatred: "he hateth putting away."
The Holy Spirit inspired a strong word, the strongest
possible, to express the revulsion of the Godhead toward divorce.
"Hatred" is a strange word in our day, when it is common in the churches
to speak only of the love of God. That God should hate a certain act is
a strange idea in our day, when there is hardly any human conduct, no
matter how perverse, that this "Christian" god—this idol in the
churches—who is only love does not at least tolerate. But God Himself
says of divorce, "I hate it." Jehovah, the God of Israel/church, the God
who speaks in Holy Scripture, hates.
When He says that He hates divorce, He tells us
something, not only about divorce but also about Himself. Hatred is the
perfection of a God of righteousness. Righteousness expresses itself as
hatred over against that which conflicts with that righteousness. The
reason why the god of the churches cannot hate is not that it is so
loving, but that it is unrighteous. Hatred is the revelation of God's
love for Himself as the good and holy one against that which assaults
His goodness and holiness. The reason why the god of the churches cannot
hate, particularly divorce, is that it does not love itself as the good
and the holy. It does not love itself as the good, because it is not the
good. It is an abominable idol formed in the image of corrupt men and
women who take delight in evil.
Divorce conflicts with the righteousness of God. It
assaults His goodness and holiness. As such, it is hated by God. Hating
it, He regards it as disgusting and wills its destruction.
Hatred of the Sin, Hatred of the Sinner
Nor does God hate this evil in such a way as to leave
the evil-doer under His favour. This is a common opinion among church
people. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. He hates divorce, but
loves the one who divorces. The practical effect of this unbiblical
thinking is that a church or an individual pays lip-service to the
wickedness of divorce, perhaps even decrying this great social ill of
our time, while receiving those who are guilty of divorce into their
The prophet plainly exposes this popular notion as
false. Verse 12 declares that the Lord will cut off the man who
does this, that is, marries a heathen woman after he has divorced his
wife, from the tabernacle of Jacob. God will excommunicate him from His
fellowship, from eternal life.
Not only the divorcing and remarrying sinner, but
also the person who offers an offering for him while he goes on in his
sin, the Lord will cut off: "and him that offereth an offering
unto the Lord of hosts" (v.1 2b). This is the church member today
who tries to talk the divorce right, who fights to keep the divorcing
friend or relative in the church, and who thus attempts to get him
safely under the blessing of the cross, even though he lives
impenitently in the sin of divorce.
According to verse 13, the Lord refuses the worship
both of the divorcing men in Judah and of Judah herself, who tolerates
this iniquity in her fellowship: "he regardeth not the offering any
more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand." The reason is that
the altar of the Lord is covered with the tears, weeping, and crying out
of the divorced wives. The treacherous husbands are responsible. By
permitting divorce, the entire congregation becomes responsible. All
public worship comes under the divine interdict. All that the Lord can
see on the altar of public worship in the church on a Sunday morning is
the misery of the abandoned and divorced wives. In that misery, He sees
the treachery, unrighteousness, and unholiness of the divorcing
husbands. The Heidelberg Catechism warns the congregation of this very
thing when it teaches that God's "wrath (is) kindled against the whole
congregation," if the congregation admits to the Lord's Supper anyone
who shows himself unbelieving and ungodly (Q. 82).
The hatred of the Lord for the sin of divorce goes
out as wrath against the sinner and against all who connive at the sin.
His wrath interrupts all fellowship with and worship of Himself. It will
eternally destroy the sinner, if he does not repent. It will remove the
church's candlestick out of its place, if the church does not repent.
Such is the hatred of the Lord for divorce according
to His own Word.
It is the Lord, the God of Israel, who hates divorce.
Not every god hates divorce. Not every god who claims to be the God of
Israel hates divorce. One test, therefore, of a church's God is this:
Does He hate divorce? Does He hate it in the preaching? Does He hate it
in church discipline? Does He hate it in consistorial and synodical
decisions? Does He hate it in the lives of the members? In all the
thinking and life of the church can you hear the echo of His own
forceful Word, "I hate putting away"?
The Familiar "Wherefore?"
"Why?" we ask. "Why does God hate divorce?"
Judah raised this question also. In fact, the men who
were putting away their wives asked "why?" The passage on the Lord'S
hatred of divorce begins with their question, "why?": "Yet ye say,
Wherefore?" (v.14). They asked why the Lord "regardeth not the offering
any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand" (v.13). They
asked "why?" concerning this judgment of the Lord, even though they knew
very well that they were divorcing their wives in order to marry heathen
women. Their question, therefore, was really the question, "Why does the
Lord hate divorce?"
The question was a challenge. Judah wanted to argue
with the prophet about divorce. The men in Judah liked to justify their
divorce. In the argumentative question was the determination to say a
good word about divorce. Formally, the book of Malachi is structured by
this rebellious "why?" in response to the Word of the Lord, with the
subsequent explanation by the Lord's prophet. But this does not take
away from the fact that by its "wherefore?" Judah actually raised
objection against the Lord'S condemnation of divorce.
This is exactly what we find in our day. When we
condemn divorce and, especially, when we carry out the condemnation in
our personal lives and in church discipline, we meet with this
challenging, and often angry, question, "Wherefore? Why this strong
condemnation of divorce?" Although the question is addressed to us, in
reality it is directed against God: "Why does the Lord hate divorce?"
The prophet answers the question by explaining that
divorce is treachery. Three times in the passage, divorce is described
as "dealing treacherously." Treachery is an especially base and
contemptible form of sin. It is the conduct of the traitor, who betrays
the love and trust of those to whom he is closely bound in the bonds of
friendship. In the state, he is a Benedict Arnold, or a Vidkun Quisling,
or the Dutchman at the beginning of World War II who uses his position
to give over his country into the power of the enemies. In the church,
he is the Reformed minister or professor who secretly works to sell out
the churches to theological modernism or to Arminian free-willism. In
the history of redemption, he is Judas Iscariot, who used his intimacy
with the Lord to give Him over into the hands of His foes. Ultimately,
treachery finds its origin in Lucifer, son of the morning, who used his
exalted position among the angels, servants of God, to instigate
revolution against God in heaven and then to turn the earthly creation
against its Creator.
In marriage and the family, the traitor is the man
who divorces the wife of his youth, in order to marry another who is
probably younger, prettier, sexually more attractive. Today, the traitor
is as well the faithless wife who abandons her husband for a more
Why does God hate divorce? Because of what divorce
is! Divorce is despicable, perfidious treachery. The Lord hates divorce
because divorce is hateful. As even a sinful world holds the traitor in
contempt, God hates divorce.
As treachery, divorce is hurtful and destructive. The
traitor always works the grievous harm of those whom he betrays. His
purpose is to destroy. The Dutchmen who helped the Nazi invaders, and
then collaborated with them, did untold damage to their country. They
intended nothing less than the destruction of the nation as a free,
sovereign state. The heretical Reformed theologian ruins his churches
and leads many members to perdition. Judas' betrayal of Jesus meant
shame, pain, and death for the Lord. Nor did His knowledge that the
betrayal was ordained by God prevent the grief of soul, that the one who
betrayed Him was "mine own familiar friend" (Psalm
Malachi points to the destructive nature of divorce
when he charges, in the words of the King James Version, "one covereth
violence with his garment" (v.16). The Hebrew is difficult, but the
correct translation is: "he covered his garment with violence." The
reference is to the man who divorced his wife. Divorce is an act of
violence. It is oppressive and injurious. By divorcing his wife, the man
covered himself, in the sight of God and man, with the violence of his
act. Just as when the Lord looks at the altar where divorce is
permitted, all that He can see is the tears, weeping, and crying out of
the deserted wives, so when He looks at the man who has divorced his
wife, all that God sees is violence.
Why does the Lord hate divorce? "Wherefore?"
Because, as treachery, divorce is destructive.
Betrayal of the Wife
First, divorce betrays and thus injures the man's
wife. As Jesus Christ will do in
Matthew 19:3-9, the prophet takes his starting point in God's
institution of marriage as recorded in
Genesis 2:18-25. God made the husband and wife "one" (v.15). This is
the work of God in every marriage: the two become one flesh. By virtue
of this marvellous, mysterious work, God binds husband and wife together
in the most intimate fellowship. Malachi describes a man's wife as "thy
companion, and the wife of thy covenant" (v.14). The essence of the
marriage-relation is friendship. Biblically, "covenant" is a bond of
communion. In the communion of the marriage-covenant, a man's wife is
his "companion," his friend.
Divorce, then, is a man's betrayal of his closest
friend. As the wife of his youth, the young woman gave herself to him,
body and soul. She entrusted herself to him completely. As a woman in
marriage, she depends upon him. Treacherously, he forsakes his trusting
friend and lover.
This does her grievous injury. Her divorcing husband
hurts her as no other human can. There are her physical, bodily needs.
There is her anguish of soul. Worst, there is her vulnerability to
relations with another man, which would mean her eternal ruin, as the
Lord warns in
Matthew 5:32: "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced
committeth adultery." Her traitor-husband aims at her destruction.
Commenting on the phrase in
Genesis 2:22 that literally states that God "built" a woman from the
rib of Adam to be his wife, Martin Luther wrote:
There are not only men who think it clever to find
fault with the opposite sex and to have nothing to do with marriage
but also men who, after they have married, desert their wives and
refuse to support their children. Through their baseness and
wickedness these people lay waste God's building, and they are really
abominable monsters of nature. Let us, therefore, obey the Word of God
and recognize our wives as a building of God.
Betrayal of the Children
Second, divorce betrays and thus injures the man's
own children. The prophet points to this as a reason why God hates
divorce when, in answer to his own question, "And wherefore one?" he
writes, "That he might seek a godly seed" (v.15). One of God's main
purposes originally with the institution of marriage was the bringing
forth and bringing up of children--godly children (Gen. I :28). This was
God's purpose with the marriages in Judah, as it is still usually God's
purpose with the marriages of believers. In our marriages, He seeks a
"seed of God," as is the literal translation of verse 15. By His own
covenant grace, He finds this "godly seed" among our children also. He
begets them by His regenerating Spirit. He then rears them within the
godly home by means of the cooperating father and mother to be godly
These children are precious to the covenant God of
Judah/ church, their heavenly Father. They must be precious also to
In every way, the godly seed are the fruit of
faithful, peaceful marriages.
Divorce is betrayal of one's own children, whom the
divorcing church member must view as God's children. This
ultimate treachery is ruinous for the family, causing the children
untold and indescribable physical, psychological, and spiritual harm, as
even the world belatedly begins to recognize. Apart from the
extraordinary operations of God's grace, divorce destroys the children
spiritually and eternally. The divorcing husband or wife is willing, not
only that his or her own children be destroyed but also that the seed of
God be destroyed.
This is the reason why much of the outcry of the
"evangelical" churches against abortion rings hollow in my ears. Loud in
their condemnation of the killing of the world's babies by abortion,
these same churches are perfectly silent about the destruction within
their own fellowship of thousands and millions of their own children and
young people—children and young people of professing Christians—by
It has happened that members of the church, obviously
determined to divorce, having poured out their tale of woe concerning
their miserable marriage, asked, finally, "You don't expect us to stay
together just for the children, do you?" My answer was an immediate,
enthusiastic, "Yes! Yes, indeed! By all means! If you will not stay
together for any other reason, stay together for the children! What a
noble decision, that you deny yourselves and your own personal pleasure
for the sake of the children! Here is a place to start!"
Betrayal of Marriage
Third, divorce is a kind of betrayal of the
institution of marriage itself. Divorce in the covenant community
strikes out violently against everything that marriage is and signifies.
The passage in Malachi is not only one of the strongest denunciations of
divorce in all of Scripture, but also one of the most glorious
descriptions of marriage. Marriage is an institution of God: "Did not
he make one?" (v.15) It is a relationship between one
man and one woman: "the wife of thy youth" (v.14). By
God's ordaining and power, it is a relationship of such intimacy that
the two become one: "Did not he make one?" (v.15) Implied is that
marriage is for life. In accordance with this unique oneness, the actual
life of marriage is delightful friendship: "thy
companion and the wife of thy covenant" (v.14). A main
purpose is the production and rearing of godly children: "That he might
seek a godly seed" (v.15).
Only a fool fails to respond to this institution by
exclaiming over the goodness and wisdom of God that are evident in it
and by living in it as God requires. To enjoy it is a gift.
This good, wise, holy institution has equally
remarkable significance It signifies the bond of fellowship between God
and His elect church in Jesus Christ (Eze. 16;
Eph. 5:22ff.). This is brought out in the passage when the prophet
calls the earthly bond of marriage by the name of the spiritual bond
between the Lord and His chosen people: "covenant" (v.14).
Marriage is the divinely appointed symbol of the covenant between God
and His church in Jesus Christ. So does God bind each elect personally
and the entire elect body of the church to Himself by the Holy Spirit on
the basis of the redemption of the cross that we are united with God by
becoming one flesh with Jesus Christ. God and His church are no longer
two parties, but one party. We are His companion, very really the "wife
of (His) covenant." God has married us. This is the real marriage.
In His own marriage, God is faithful. He is faithful
to His own marriage-vow, to be a Husband to this wife. He is faithful to
His wife, to us. He will not, He does not divorce
His wife, not in her Old Testament form as Israel and not in her New
Testament form as the church. He never divorces her in the sense of
breaking the bond, so as to marry another. He never divorces her in the
sense of separating her from Himself forever (Jer. 3;
Eze. 16). He does not divorce His wife even though she has given,
and still gives, Him ample and just cause by her spiritual infidelities.
His covenant is unbreakable.
The proof is the cross of the eternal Son in human
flesh. Although the cost of His marital faithfulness to His bride, and
the necessary way of this faithfulness, is the death of His own Son
under the divine wrath as atonement for the sins of the bride, God is
faithful in marriage. The issue of divorce and remarriage is settled for
the believer at the cross of Jesus Christ.
The Lord hates putting away. This is the kind
of God He is. In His very nature, He is the "divorce-hating God." The
other gods can approve divorce, even advocate them. At the least, they
can tolerate them. Not He! Not the God whose name is Jehovah! Not the
God of the covenant of grace! Not the God made known in the incarnation
and atoning death of Jesus Christ!
All of this—institution and significance—is betrayed
and ruined, at least as regards intent, by the man or woman in the
church who divorces his wife or her husband, except, of course, it be
for fornication (Matt.
5:31-32; 19:9). Divorce is hateful because it is ruinous of
marriage. God hates divorce because He loves marriage. In His love of
marriage, He maintains it. He maintains it in the instance of each and
every marriage. Against the one who attacks the institution by divorcing
his wife, God defends and maintains His institution by being "witness
between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt
treacherously" (v.14). This means judgment for the sinner. He will not
The Word of God to the church from this revelation of
God's hatred of divorce is not, first of all, the forbidding of divorce
in our own lives. It is not any law whatever.
It is, rather, the message of the gospel. It is glad
tidings that rejoice our hearts. It comes straight out of the cross and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. God will never cast us away. If for a
time, in our experience, He separates us from Himself on account of our
sins, He will take us back, renewing His marriage with us. He will be
our God forever, embracing us, honouring us, blessing us, as our Husband
in Christ. We will dwell with Him everlastingly, as His bride.
Others may groan at this "sharp" Word, or studiously
ignore it, or go to work on it to make it conform to their wishes and to
the actual conditions in the churches today. As for us, we love this
vehement Word as the very gospel of our salvation, "The Lord,
the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away." Our response
"Be Ye Imitators of God!"
Then there is the calling to the church to conform
her attitude and conduct to the nature of her God: "Therefore take heed
to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his
youth" (v.15; see also v.16).
The church must adopt the same attitude toward
divorce that God has. She has no choice in the matter. No study
committee is necessary, or permitted, to determine what the church's
attitude will be. The matter is decided. The church of God hates
divorce. She clearly and forcefully expresses this attitude in her
preaching, by her discipline, and in the decisions of her ecclesiastical
assemblies. No one can doubt that the church hates divorce.
Each member must share this attitude. Shall my God
hate divorce, but I love it? Shall my God condemn divorce, but I approve
it, or tolerate it? In his hatred of divorce, the individual member is
called to break off fellowship with those who practice and live in the
treachery and violence of divorce. Shall my God excommunicate from His
presence those who divorce, but I hobnob with them as friends?
We are ourselves forbidden to divorce. This lends
urgency to the calling of the young people of the church to marry only
in the Lord, to marry one who shares their (and God's) high estimation
of marriage, and to marry with the carefulness that comes from knowing
that this woman or man is the one woman or man with whom they will live
until death parts them.
Divorce is not an option for married Christians whose
marriages are troubled. There may well be, indeed there undoubtedly are,
marriages in the congregations that are troubled, even deeply troubled,
troubled to the point that one or the other or perhaps both are giving
some thought to divorce as the way out. God slams this door tightly
shut. The "way out" of the troubled marriage is the way of repentance;
confession of sins; forgiveness; reconciliation; the will to love, or to
submit; and changed behaviour.
Hard, you say? Extremely difficult, you object? Not
nearly so "hard" and "difficult" as it was for God to maintain His
marriage with you at Golgotha. Besides, nothing right and God-pleasing
is impossible for us who carry out our calling, not by our own strength
but by the mighty grace of God in us.
In light of God's hatred of divorce, every married
Christian is to guard against the evil of divorce in his marriage. He
does this by taking heed to his spirit. The great threat to marriage is
not in the bedroom. It is not in the body. It is in the husband's
spirit. There he is to cherish his own wife as one flesh with him by
God's wonderful work and as his companion, his friend, in the covenant
of marriage. There he is to esteem his children, and grandchildren, as
the seed of God. And there, in his spirit, he is to adore God, who is
faithful to him in the real marriage, the covenant of grace.
This man will not divorce.