God hates divorce?

Status
Not open for further replies.

jeclark71

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello, I was talking with some fellow believers today and we got on the discussion of Malachi 2:16 and what is the correct reading? I happen to prefer the NKJV rendering which reads, "For the Lord God of Israel says, That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence. Says the Lord of hosts, Therefore take heed to your Spirit, That you do not deal treacherously." The newer translations seem to place the verb hate on the one committing the divorce. The Holman reads, "If he hates and divorces his wife, says the Lord God of Israel, he covers his garment with injustice, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully and do not act treacherously. I have read different commentaries and study bibles, and there seems to be a split, just curious if anyone has more insight or have made peace with a certain rendering. I read the past post and found one from 2005, but nothing else. Thanks for any feed back.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
I have not studied this in-depth. But I do believe that God hates divorce. First of all, if we believe that divorce is a sin by at least one spouse, if not both. God hates sin, it stinks in his nostrils. So therefore he hates divorce. Also, he took Eve from Adam's rib. He said they are one flesh. He said what He put together let no man separate. This tells us that he did not plan for divorce, but it is a result of the fall.

So yes, I believe that God hates divorce.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
If he hates and divorces his wife, says the Lord God of Israel, he covers his garment with injustice, says the Lord of Hosts.

Even if this rendering is more accurate, I think it would be still be correct to assert that God hates divorce. God hates sin. Hating one's wife violates the sixth commandment, ergo God hates it.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Yet God divorced Israel, so there is a legitimate and moral time and place for divorce:

And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (Jer 3:8, KJV)
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Regardless of the particular translation of that verse, it's clear in other passages (Matthew 5 and 19) that God forbids divorce.
 

rookie

Puritan Board Junior
Another part of it is that we are the bride of Christ. Voddie Baucham has a great sermon on this one.

I personally am happy that God hates divorce, otherwise, Christ would have divorced me a short time after I was saved....
 

ProtestantBankie

Puritan Board Freshman
Divorce is always the result of SIN, and God HATES sin. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
I am comfortable with the rendering then since it is dealing with sinful rather than lawful divorce.

If God hates sin, and divorce is a sin - then God hates divorce. But divorce is not always a sin. But all divorce is caused by sin.
Divorce is provided for in our Westminster Confession of Faith and the Chapter 24.5

God will hate unlawful divorce which is sin, and the action (sin) which brings about lawful divorce.

God has provided for divorce on lawful grounds for the benefit of His people and to the Glory of His name.

Though I am not a Hebrew Scholar. I believe Calvin speaks to this issue in his commentary on Jeremiah concerning the bill of divorce.
 
Last edited:

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks, Todd, for that good link (to Jack Collins's paper).

And thanks also, Alastair. God indeed hates sin and sin of some sort is always involved in divorce. But the innocent party (or the abandoned party) is not sinning simply by pursuing a divorce (this is not to say that even then they may not have all sorts of sinful sentiments, words, and deeds to deal with).

We need to be clear about this and, to our shame, we are sometimes not clear about divorce in our churches (WCF 24 sets forth our doctrine on the matter). I have seen more than one situation in which a brother or sister has lawfully filed for divorce (because their spouse has committed adultery) and they are attacked for doing so by other saints who quote Malachi to them and say "God hates divorce." Now perhaps the sought for divorce in such a case is not wise, but it's really more the purview of elders to counsel with regard to that. Even if it's deemed unwise, it remains in the discretion of the innocent party in the case of adultery: no one can tell the innocent party in an adultery case, "You must stay married."

Yes, divorce is a difficult thing and is often wrongly pursued. But saints who cite "God hates divorce" as if divorce is the worst thing are misguided: the adultery that leads to a divorce is the underlying sin that God hates. I've heard saints speak of divorce as if nothing is worst, but the sin that underlies it is. Sometimes divorce itself is wrongly purused and is a sin; sadly all too often, even among the saints. Other times, however, divorce is a remedy provided by God for a situation in which the marriage bond has been broken in a way that the innocent party cannot proceed forward in the marriage. Let us be careful in this complicated matter not to play the part of the accuser of the brethren by a misguided use of Malachi.

Peace,
Alan
 

ProtestantBankie

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, Todd, for that good link (to Jack Collins's paper).

And thanks also, Alastair. God indeed hates sin and sin of some sort is always involved in divorce. But the innocent party (or the abandoned party) is not sinning simply by pursuing a divorce (this is not to say that even then they may not have all sorts of sinful sentiments, words, and deeds to deal with).

We need to be clear about this and, to our shame, we are sometimes not clear about divorce in our churches (WCF 24 sets forth our doctrine on the matter). I have seen more than one situation in which a brother or sister has lawfully filed for divorce (because their spouse has committed adultery) and they are attacked for doing so by other saints who quote Malachi to them and say "God hates divorce." Now perhaps the sought for divorce in such a case is not wise, but it's really more the purview of elders to counsel with regard to that. Even if it's deemed unwise, it remains in the discretion of the innocent party in the case of adultery: no one can tell the innocent party in an adultery case, "You must stay married."

Yes, divorce is a difficult thing and is often wrongly pursued. But saints who cite "God hates divorce" as if divorce is the worst thing are misguided: the adultery that leads to a divorce is the underlying sin that God hates. I've heard saints speak of divorce as if nothing is worst, but the sin that underlies it is. Sometimes divorce itself is wrongly purused and is a sin; sadly all too often, even among the saints. Other times, however, divorce is a remedy provided by God for a situation in which the marriage bond has been broken in a way that the innocent party cannot proceed forward in the marriage. Let us be careful in this complicated matter not to play the part of the accuser of the brethren by a misguided use of Malachi.

Peace,
Alan

I think this is the post I wanted to make. As it expresses my view more clearly than my post did.
Thank you for it.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
God indeed hates sin and sin of some sort is always involved in divorce. But the innocent party (or the abandoned party) is not sinning simply by pursuing a divorce (this is not to say that even then they may not have all sorts of sinful sentiments, words, and deeds to deal with).


Sometimes divorce itself is wrongly purused and is a sin; sadly all too often, even among the saints. Other times, however, divorce is a remedy provided by God for a situation in which the marriage bond has been broken in a way that the innocent party cannot proceed forward in the marriage. Let us be careful in this complicated matter not to play the part of the accuser of the brethren by a misguided use of Malachi.

Alan, do you then believe that in some cases God does not hate divorce? I know that it may be a remedy for the injured (I won't say innocent, for we have all sinned in some way or another regarding our marriages) spouse. But wouldn't that mean that even though God hates divorce, He has provided relief out of His own merciful nature for the injured spouse to be able to move away from the broken marriage? Can you please expound on this?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Angela:

God, because of man's sin, makes provision for divorce. Moses, Jesus, and Paul all made such provision. Think about it this way: It's sad that someone might have to shoot someone in defense of their loved ones. God hates all that leads to such but he does not hate someone rightly defending their loved ones. Similarly, He hates someone committing adultery, but He does not hate, or regard as sin, the innocent party pursuing divorce. Malachi 2 cannot be made some sort of universal statement, decontextualized and contradicting other clear teaching of Scripture that provides for divorce in certain instances.

Indeed, "the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage" (WCF 24.6). God hates man "unduly" pursuing divorce. Divorce is not according to the original plan, to be sure, but neither are all sorts of provisions that God has made for us in a fallen sinful world. Would there be a sword-bearing magistrate apart from the Fall? No, but now that we are fallen and live in the world that we do, the sword-bearing magistrate is a blessing (although he can be a tyrant, and rather of a curse). Similarly, divorce can be a necessary remedy to an intolerable situation or it can be a wicked escape from the lawful bonds of one's marriage covenant. This is the teaching of the Bible and the Westminster Standards ("innocent" is the language of the Confession and indicates the party sinned against in adultery, the one that did not commit adultery--it is not meant to indicate sinlessness on the part of such party).

Peace,
Alan
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
I do not understand. I understand that God does not hate the innocent spouse who files for divorce. But doesn't He still hate the ACT of divorce? Wouldn't God still hate divorce even though He does not hate the innocent party? Divorce is always the result of sin, so how could God not hate it?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
God hates all sin and divorce always involves sin in some respect--either in what led to it or the act itself, when unbiblical. We all agree with this.

More specifically with regard to the OP, I do not believe that the proper translation of Malachi 2:16 is "God hates divorce" but rather one along the lines of the ESV: "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Again, as we all agree, God hates everything contrary to His law. He hates the violation of the marriage bond that leads to divorce and wrongful divorce. And divorce, whether justified or not, always has serious ramifications. But so does remaining in a marriage where adultery continues; staying married at all costs, when adultery has so shattered the marriage, may have even more devastating consequences for all involved than a proper severing of the marriage would.

Peace,
Alan
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
God hates all sin and divorce always involves sin in some respect--either in what led to it or the act itself, when unbiblical. We all agree with this.

More specifically with regard to the OP, I do not believe that the proper translation of Malachi 2:16 is "God hates divorce" but rather one along the lines of the ESV: "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Again, as we all agree, God hates everything contrary to His law. He hates the violation of the marriage bond that leads to divorce and wrongful divorce. And divorce, whether justified or not, always has serious ramifications. But so does remaining in a marriage where adultery continues; staying married at all costs, when adultery has so shattered the marriage, may have even more devastating consequences for all involved than a proper severing of the marriage would.

Peace,
Alan

Thank you for this clarification. I agree that the ramifications of trying to stay in the shattered marriage can be harder on the family than the divorce itself. It is still heartbreaking that marriages fail. The atrocity of sin, as a result of the fall, has taken a terrible toll on all of humanity. Yet I find relief in your response, relief in the mercy of God.
 

jeclark71

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the input everyone and thank you Dr, Strange for your answers and yes that does feel weird calling you Dr, Strange. Thanks for the link Todd I still like the NKJV translation, but understand the textual argument.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Yet I find relief in your response, relief in the mercy of God.

Angela, this is off topic, but your comment had me in tears. I think that's one thing that comes through so comfortingly in the stories in the Old Testament, and then in those stories as they are threaded together in names in the genealogies of Christ. Those people were so brief and frail, and their faults bear down generation upon generation. They had such great promises of a deliver but their lives successively proved that none of them, for all their achievements, was the promised one. And yet the mercy of God making provision for the situation they found themselves in, accommodating itself to each of those lives, is so beautiful; His mercy is set in such relief around their humanity. God remembered they were dust. He was the staff on which they leaned and the friend they knew in that condition. I think the most incredible aspect of His mercy is in the way He brought His promise to completion out of the mess of their failures and heartbreaks, their broken marriages and captivities and reformations, in the child that was born, to be called 'Jesus' (for he shall save his people from their sins). He is still bringing His promises to pass in us. Thank you for such a comforting reminder.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
Yet I find relief in your response, relief in the mercy of God.

Angela, this is off topic, but your comment had me in tears. I think that's one thing that comes through so comfortingly in the stories in the Old Testament, and then in those stories as they are threaded together in names in the genealogies of Christ. Those people were so brief and frail, and their faults bear down generation upon generation. They had such great promises of a deliver but their lives successively proved that none of them, for all their achievements, was the promised one. And yet the mercy of God making provision for the situation they found themselves in, accommodating itself to each of those lives, is so beautiful; His mercy is set in such relief around their humanity. God remembered they were dust. He was the staff on which they leaned and the friend they knew in that condition. I think the most incredible aspect of His mercy is in the way He brought His promise to completion out of the mess of their failures and heartbreaks, their broken marriages and captivities and reformations, in the child that was born, to be called 'Jesus' (for he shall save his people from their sins). He is still bringing His promises to pass in us. Thank you for such a comforting reminder.

Dear Heidi, thank you for your kind and tender words. I , too, am now in tears as I lean on the mercy of Christ for all of my needs. I know that He will, in his own time, make provision in one way or another, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Yet will I serve the Lord with all my heart. For I am but a mess, and without God, a mess I would remain. But because of His love, I can be called a child of God. And that truly, is all that I really need.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top