“‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel. … So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith” (Malachi 2:16, NIV).
The whole of the Bible teaches marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman (see Genesis 2:21-24). If you are married, you probably pledged, “… till death do us part” at the altar, and God expects every married couple to live up to that vow. The prophet Malachi stated that divorce breaks a covenant between the husband and wife and is therefore an affront to God: ”‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel. … So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith” (Malachi 2:16, NIV). God loves a promise keeper — the one “who keeps his word whatever the cost” (Psalm 15:4) — and hates promise breakers: “When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow” (Ecclesiastes 5:4).
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, He responded that God didn’t originally plan for divorce to occur (see Matthew 19:8). He continued, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (v. 9). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “If the unbeliever [an unbelieving spouse] leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases.” The position most commonly held throughout church history is that divorce is not permitted except in cases of infidelity or permanent desertion. With those two exceptions divorce is legitimate but not required, only permitted.
The number of divorces among committed Christians is still far below national averages, but it ought to be zero. For example, in our mission organization when we were on the mission field, there was not a single divorce for more than one hundred years among thousands of missionaries. So I know believers can live up to God’s ideal for marriage. Why isn’t it always that way?
What unworthy attitudes or actions may contribute to a marriage breakup? Here’s my list: infidelity, desertion, illness, boredom, selfishness, commitment to personal fulfillment above other values or relationships, personal autonomy, addiction to pornography, “greener grass” illusions, unguarded relationships with opposite sex, abuse, neglect, finances, child discipline, and spiritual malnutrition. The list goes on.
Have you ever contemplated divorce? Go back to your list and highlight any factors that contributed to the alienation that was creeping into your relationship. If any of those issues still lurk in the shadows of your consciousness, flush them out and pray about them. Ask God to help you remain faithful to your spouse.
God gave us an incredible gift in marriage. Pledge to God and to your spouse to guard it with your very life.