Divorce 1

…because the LORD was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did not one God make her?Both flesh and spirit are his.  And what does the one Goddesire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hatedivorce, says the LORD, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.                                                                                              Malachi. 2:14-16 NRSV

Before I say anything more, look carefully at the text. It does not say that God hates divorcees. If you have gone through divorce, whether of your own doing or not, God loves you and intends to work good even through that calamity if you will believe him and work with him.

But that truth does not change the other truth: God hates the action of divorce. Why is that? This passage gives three reasons. I will deal with the first here, and the other two in the next devotion.

The first reason God hates divorce is the covenant nature of marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman was designed to be God’s theological seminary in which two persons of differing temperaments and needs bind themselves to each other and in that bond surrender themselves and their desires to one another, and in that crucible learn the meaning of a self-giving, self-denying love that is profoundly fruitful.

That is the kind of relationship Yahweh wants to have with each of us. It is covenant-love in which God binds himself to us and we bind ourselves to him. Marriage is an earthly and visible counterpart of that divine covenant. How important is it that we keep faith with one another when the youthful fires of passion have subsided a bit? It is important enough that God is the witness to it! It does not matter whether you had a Best Man and a Maid or Matron of Honor witnessing your “undying love.” God was there! And to be unfaithful to those covenantal promises, especially out of selfish desire, has eternal implications. To love is not to be overcome by passion, but to choose the best for another as whatever cost to ourselves. How can we be faithful to God, if we will not be faithful to our wife or husband?

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