Divorce 3

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 2:16 NRS

In our previous pieces about this subject on the basis of Malachi 2:15-16, we have pointed out two reasons why Yahweh rejects divorce as a simple answer to marital discord. They are: one, the covenant nature of marriage and the importance of covenant faithfulness, and two, the importance of committed male and female parents to the raising up of godly children.

Today, I want to highlight the third reason Malachi gives, one that on the surface may seem a bit strange. He says that God rejects divorce “and covering one’s garment with violence.” What in the world is that about? It seems especially odd in this day of “no-fault divorce.” Surely, two adults who are mature can come to a meeting of the minds about how to part ways without recrimination. Yes, perhaps so. But as a lawyer friend tells me, it is hardly ever the case. Two hurt people are almost incapable of not lashing out at the other in the desperate need to protect themselves.

But I want to suggest that any divorce involves violence. What do I mean? I mean that when God has made 1+1=1 something has taken place that can only finally be wrenched apart. Yes, the split may have been perfectly amicable on the surface. But one cannot be broken up without “collateral damage.” I am saying that in marriage, whatever the couple may think or plan, there is a melding of two persons into one. I know from experience in our extended family that although the divorce may be for cause and uncontested, and even though it is followed by a happy second marriage, the first spouse cannot merely be forgotten. Thank God, there is grace to cover the situation and to enable one to live in triumph and victory. But “the two shall become one” is a reality that must be faced before a blithe decision to “split up” is taken.

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