14You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. 15Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 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. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Malachi 2:16 NLT
Why does God reject divorce? There are three reasons given in this passage. We discussed the first in the previous devotion. It is that marriage is an earthly expression of the covenant between God and us humans. When we violate that earthly covenant for selfish reasons, we make a tragic statement about the covenant faithfulness of God.
The second reason is given in v. 15. The first part of the sentence (represented by two sentences in NLT) is completely obscure. We know every Hebrew word, but no one is certain how they are intended to go together. The translation is different in virtually every version. Here is one example: “Did not one God make her?Both flesh and spirit are his.” (Mal. 2:15 NRSV) Compare this to the NLT above.
But the rest of the sentence is crystal clear. What is the purpose of marriage? It is godly children. Study after study shows that if children are to grow up whole, they need to see male and female models in a setting of great security. In that setting they learn law and grace, unconditional love, and so much more. In contrast, studies continue to show that when children are asked who was responsible for their parents’ divorce, the large majority will say that they were. In part this is because the children often become the focus of the struggle.
I myself am testimony to this. I know now that my parents’ marriage was not particularly happy. They never really understood each other and neither ever quite measured up to the other’s vision of an ideal spouse. But they were devout Christians and divorce was never even considered. As a result, I grew up fulfilled and secure, pre-conditioned to choose a life-long commitment to Christ and to Karen. I shiver to imagine what would have become of me had my “globe” suddenly shattered, with north and south poles breaking away from each other. Thank God for marriage.