31 “It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Matt 5:31-32 (NIV)

In all sincerity, I do not write this tritely or without immense compassion, yet it is clear in Scripture that God does not like divorce. Indeed, He hates divorce and understandably so as it divides what He initiated – the marriage covenant – that two shall become one flesh - and further, it destroys what is best for mankind – the family unit. Remember in Genesis God states:

18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Gen 2:18 (NIV)

What the man lacked the woman supplied and what the woman lacked the man supplied that is what the term “suitable helper” means. This culminated into one flesh – the complete unity of man and woman in marriage. Further, Genesis tells us after Adam had named the animals he was found sorely wanting and God provided for his need through a helpmate from man’s own flesh:

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Gen 2:20-24 (NIV)

God intended for husbands and wives to live together permanently the only exception for divorce being marital unfaithfulness. Marriage was created to be an inseparable bond holding an even higher calling than the parent-child relationship. It was created to be a one-flesh relationship which God joined together and man ought not to separate. God does not take our vows made before Him regarding this lightly and neither should we. We discover the following Truth in Malachi:

13 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. 14 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. 15 Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And 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. 16 "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. Mal 2:13-16 (NIV)

Later in Matthew, Jesus was asked by the Pharisees if divorce was lawful and His reply is as follows. I find it extremely interesting that our Lord’s own disciple’s reaction to His answer indicated their opinion of how hard it can be to flesh out a faithful marriage! Indeed, it is two big fat sinners living under one roof each seeking their own way!

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" 4 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."7 "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" 8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."10 The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." Matt 19:3-10 (NIV)

While I am acutely aware that Scripture allows divorce for marital unfaithfulness - though not mandated - I am also just as aware that in our times we embrace divorce for a myriad of other problems or reasons. Problems are a part of living in a broken world amongst broken people and Christians are not to use them as an excuse to not practice generous grace. Certainly no one is perfect and I dare say we want to be on the receiving end of mercy when we goof up. Also, it behooves us to pray to love our spouses with a Christ-like love and respect and even if we do have a Biblical reason for divorce we should make every effort through the Spirit’s power to seek reconciliation. God is fully aware of the sincerity of the heart and blesses His children with peace who seek to do His will. He is compassionate toward those who hurt and sees sacrificial living (sans murmuring) on our parts. Furthermore, if we find ourselves sitting on the other side of divorce, God is also a Master at making “beauty from ashes”. We are to return to Him – His mercies are new every morning and there is certain peace in God’s pleasure.

What I Glean

  • In marriage, God has made man and woman one flesh. We are not to separate what God has made one.
  • God hates divorce as it pillages rather than builds up the family.
  • God is a Restorer of the broken.