#2 of 5 mistakes the church makes in regard to abuse



2. Assuming “God hates Divorce” means that divorce is a sin

This one burns my buttons when it is misquoted and misused! I have heard so many times that ‘God hates divorce’. Most of the time this verse is used to heap shame and condemnation upon the victim of divorce. Typically, its quoted as a partial verse, alone and without the preceding texts which clarify exactly what God was trying to say. Consequently, I have decided to tackle this highly misquoted and misunderstood text of the Bible.

“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. Mal 2:16 ESV

In order to understand Mal 2:16 I believe it is very important to read the entire chapter of Mal. 2, if not the entire book. God was giving a tongue lashing to the priests who had broken their covenant with God. He was also angry at the people who were participating in evil. The men of that day were divorcing their wives in order to marry heathen women. In public they were pretending to be loving and kind toward their spouses but in private they were abusing them. God was concerned that the women and children who were being divorced were being dealt with in an unfair and unkind manner. He wanted it to stop. He was tired of the husbands excuses and justifications for their actions. He got really mad when the men would then ask for His blessing and offer sacrifices when at home they were abusing their families.

It is very noteworthy to also understand that many translations of Mal 2:16 are mistranslated. Some Bible translations have started to fix the translation, but not all have do so yet. For a more complete understanding of how it has been mistranslated please go here https://www.crossway.org/blog/2005/08/faq-malachi-2-16-collins/

It is also noteworthy to recognize the many other places that warn us against violence, abuse, lying, and to stay away from dangerous people. God never condones violence in any form within a family relationship. He instructs, many times, against angering your children and hurting your wife.

“If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people mor (1)

The Hebrew word for divorce has been historically difficult to translate and has resulted in 2 Jewish traditions. The Hebrew words, `erwath dabhar, on which a correct interpretation depends, are not easy to translate. The phrase troubled the Jewish rabbis of olden times, as it does Jewish and Christian commentators and translators in our day. When the Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus with discussion of divorce, he refused to side with either Jewish court and be trapped into agreeing with either side.

In 1 Corinthian 7:15, Paul  addresses marriage and divorce. He gives guidelines to who can seek a dissolution and separation of their marriage. You can read more about this here #1 of 5 Mistakes the Church makes in Regard to Abuse

Add to all of this the many places where God directly addresses the attitudes and behaviors of violence, hatred, anger, selfishness and lying and it is very safe to say that God hates abuse enough to have provided a way of safety and escape for those who are victims. I believe when you read the Bible in its entirety and put together all the cohesive words regarding His will for marriage, it becomes very clear that an abusive marriage does not honor Him or glorify Him in anyway. His will is that his people would live in peace, be safe, kind and loving toward one another. Divorce is permitted (not required) in order to keep His people in safety as well as to end the dishonoring and unrepentant actions that do not reflect Gods love as a healthy marriage should. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin that many Christian churches make it out to be.

As Kevin DeYoung so ably puts it, “Every divorce is the result of sin, but not every divorce is sinful.”


*Source: Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion   Barbara Roberts





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