Next Monday, February 13th, 2012, my wife and I celebrate our 36th anniversary. Probably 37 or 38 years ago, we discussed getting married and made one primary commitment to each other: Divorce would NEVER be an option for our relationship once we were married. PERIOD. This commitment was based upon our faith in Jesus Christ and our commitment to following God’s design for marriage, which we understood to be a covenant between myself, my fiance, and God. My wife and I have never lived in a mansion, we have never owned the best of cars. We have struggled financially, and sacrificed all for me to attend seminary. But we are partners in life and partners for life.
For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of Israel…
Mal 2:16 (RSV)
Is there any ambiguity in this description of God’s feelings on divorce here in Malachi? Did He not make this clear? Could He have been any clearer? Is there any room for interpretation?
Most theologians acknowledge one single Biblical reason for divorce, basically infidelity. This does not mean that a couple SHOULD divorce in this case, it only allows a divorce without committing sin (and I would say this is solely for a couple who are spiritually immature! A mature couple understands forgiveness and would relate the act of adultery in light of how Christ forgave us – but that may be a subject for another blog). Divorce for any other reason is SIN; and the breaking of the marriage covenant is the breaking of your covenant WITH GOD.
I have heard recently of women’s bible studies where participants engage in silly discussion and joking about divorce. Some participants may have been divorced, so this is not all that surprising.
…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
Eph 4:15 (RSV)
Is this proper conduct for a Christian woman, and does this foster an attitude of the Proverbs 31 woman and wife? Does such teaching, and yes, silly jesting about divorce is teaching the younger women something about marriage, teach a young wife how they are to honor, respect and love their husbands? Absolutely not, and it is forbidden in scripture. And I state this as a former singles minister who served a large church and dealt for years with divorcees.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money…
Heb 13:4-5 (RSV)
For a group of women to get together and not only be allowed but encouraged in silly jesting and jokes about divorce is unconscionable.
Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Eph 5:4-5 (RSV)
I am absolutely fed up with hearing about the teaching of false doctrine and of the lack of discernment among professing Christians.
Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.
Titus 2:3-5 (RSV)
The divorce rate among Christians today is repulsive. It shows a complete failure of the Christian educational systems to teach sound doctrine and a failure in making disciples. Anyone who teaches anything other than Scriptural views of Divorce are teaching false doctrine and heresy.
If you enter a marriage with divorce as an option, then your marriage has already failed.
If you have been married before and are now in a new marriage, then your current marriage is to be held in honor before God and is never to be dissolved by divorce aside from Biblical reasons for divorce (and even in that case, the spiritually mature Christian will employ the same forgiveness they received from God to their wayward spouse).
Do not quench the Spirit,
do not despise prophesying,
but test everything; hold fast what is good,
abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thess 5:19-22 (RSV)
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