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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“’For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,’ says the Lord of hosts.”—Malachi 2:16 (NKJV)
Few verses trigger more emotions than this one. The reason is obvious. Divorce has an impact in our world that’s rarely rivaled. Whether you’ve personally been through a divorce, were the child of divorced parents (as I was), or have a close friend or relative that’s divorced, the ripple effects of divorce have touched most, if not all, of us.
So what do we do with a verse like this that tells us God hates divorce? Is it to be a word of condemnation to those who’ve crossed this threshold? Do we use it to single out divorced men and women as being on a special sinner’s list in heaven? Sadly, that’s all happened in the past. But this perspective misses the greater point that God is making about divorce.
Let’s be clear, God does hate divorce, as He hates other things (Proverbs 6:16–19). But we need to understand why, and the reason is revealed as God’s Word tells us that divorce causes one’s garment to be covered with violence. In other words, divorce is a violent act. We may not immediately think of it that way. In fact, many of us probably witnessed a divorce where both parties parted ways amicably.
But make no mistake, divorce is violent because it separates what God has joined, and He hates that (Matthew 19:6). We should never want to divide what God has unified, especially when it comes to the institution of marriage, because it’s the one earthly relationship where God declares the two are now one in His sight, so much so that He considers it an act of adultery for a spouse to divorce without biblical grounds and move on to another mate: “Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32 NKJV).
Again, divorce tears at the fabric of God’s will, which is why He warns Israel (and us) against it in Malachi and Matthew. His objective is not to utterly condemn those who have divorced—there’s forgiveness and grace for all who’ve deviated from God’s will, including those who may have divorced without biblical grounds to do so. God’s objective is to remind us of His heart for marriage, how far-removed divorce is from it, and to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
DIG: Why does God hate divorce?
DISCOVER: Why does God tell us this? How should we respond?
DISPLAY: If you know someone who has been divorced, pray for them and their family and do not condemn them. Instead, seek to help him or her experience a deeper walk with Christ.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.