What Does God Think of Divorce? (Y1.T1.D31)
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
One thing I’ve loved most about working on The Mosaic Bible Experience has been the discoveries I’ve made along the way. It’s why I recommend that when you finish this read-through, you find another and another. The more times you read the Bible in various translations, the more you will discover and the less likely you will be deceived by false doctrine.
Point in fact, I had a completely different post already written for this blog based on the often quoted Malachi 2:16 “‘For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel. ‘To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (NLT)
Then I pulled the verses from the WEB (which I’ve chosen for this journey), and to my surprise, Malachi 2:16 changes the subject of hate from God to man. “‘One who hates and divorces,’ says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘covers his garment with violence!’ says Yahweh of Armies.”
So what happened here? Should we throw away one translation as untrustworthy? I don’t think so. In an earlier blog, “Can I Trust the Bible? Y1.T1.D2” I wrote about how more modern translations have access to the latest archeological findings. If you’re interested in the language path Malachi 2:16 has taken read this excellent article from a website dedicated to spousal abuse.
So how does God feel about divorce? Does he hate it?
Let’s consider a passage, regardless of which translation you read, has remained the same, Proverbs 6:16–19, which contains a list of the seven things God does hate:
a lying tongue
hands that shed innocent blood
a heart that devises wicked schemes
feet that are swift in running to mischief
a false witness who utters lies
he who sows discord among brothers
Therefore, if arrogance, lies, bloodshed, scheming, mischief, etc is a man or woman’s motive for divorce, then you can be sure, God hates it.
If you are the spouse being mistreated, abandoned, or neglected, know God hates that, as well.
God's feelings about divorce are better summed up in Malachi 2:13. This verse tells how God responds to those who inflict trauma: “You cover Yahweh’s altar with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand” (WEB).
And in case you are wondering, the NLT agrees: “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure.”
When we mistreat the people we’ve promised God we will love, respect, and support, the Almighty doesn’t regard our prayers or offerings. A mature Christian understands God’s greatest commands. To love him with all we have, and to love others like we love ourselves.
If you’re experiencing the pain of divorce in your family, you can place all of your grievances on the altar. You can find fellowship with friends. You can meet with a professional. What none of us should do is enable our pain to send someone else to God’s altar in tears.
God Hates Actions that Hurt
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,’ (Matthew 5:31)
1 When a man takes a wife and marries her, then it shall be, if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a certificate of divorce, put it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 When she has departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. 3 If the latter husband hates her, and write her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife; 4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after she is defiled; for that would be an abomination to Yahweh. You shall not cause the land to sin, which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance. 5 When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out in the army, neither shall he be assigned any business. He shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer his wife whom he has taken. (Deuteronomy 24:1–5)
13 This again you do: you cover Yahweh’s altar with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet you say, ‘Why?’ Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant. 15 Did he not make you one, although he had the residue of the Spirit? Why one? He sought godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 One who hates and divorces”, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence!” says Yahweh of Armies. “Therefore pay attention to your spirit, that you don’t be unfaithful. (Malachi 2:13–16)
1 “‘If anyone sins, in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, he being a witness, whether he has seen or known, if he doesn’t report it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
2 “‘Or if anyone touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean animal, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and it is hidden from him, and he is unclean, then he shall be guilty.
3 “‘Or if he touches the uncleanness of man, whatever his uncleanness is with which he is unclean, and it is hidden from him; when he knows of it, then he shall be guilty.
4 “‘Or if anyone swears rashly with his lips to do evil or to do good—whatever it is that a man might utter rashly with an oath, and it is hidden from him—when he knows of it, then he will be guilty of one of these. 5 It shall be, when he is guilty of one of these, he shall confess that in which he has sinned; 6 and he shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh for his sin which he has sinned: a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin.
7 “‘If he can’t afford a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, to Yahweh; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. 8 He shall bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one which is for the sin offering. He shall wring off its head from its neck, but shall not sever it completely. 9 He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. 10 He shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the ordinance; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has sinned, and he shall be forgiven.
11 “‘But if he can’t afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for that in which he has sinned, one tenth of an ephah[a] of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it, and he shall not put any frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. 12 He shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, on the offerings of Yahweh made by fire. It is a sin offering. 13 The priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he has sinned in any of these things, and he will be forgiven; and the rest shall be the priest’s, as the meal offering.’”
14 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 15 “If anyone commits a trespass, and sins unwittingly regarding Yahweh’s holy things, then he shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your estimation in silver by shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. 16 He shall make restitution for that which he has done wrong regarding the holy thing, and shall add a fifth part to it, and give it to the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and he will be forgiven.
17 “If anyone sins, doing any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, though he didn’t know it, he is still guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. 18 He shall bring a ram without defect from of the flock, according to your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning the thing in which he sinned and didn’t know it, and he will be forgiven. 19 It is a trespass offering. He is certainly guilty before Yahweh.” (Leviticus 5:1–19)
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows, 34 but I tell you, don’t swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one. (Matthew 5:33–37)
12 A worthless person, a man of iniquity,
is he who walks with a perverse mouth,
13 who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
who motions with his fingers,
14 in whose heart is perverseness,
who devises evil continually,
who always sows discord.
15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly.
He will be broken suddenly, and that without remedy.
16 There are six things which Yahweh hates;
yes, seven which are an abomination to him:
17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are swift in running to mischief,
19 a false witness who utters lies,
and he who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:12–19)
Help me closely examine my life. Remove from me any tendency toward the seven things You hate. Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23–24). And where I have been wounded, Lord, help me forgive others in the same way I want to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14–15). And as much as is possible help me live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
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