I hear Malachi 2:16 quoted often. It’s the verse generally quoted out of context that says God hates divorce. God also doesn’t like, manipulation, lying, violence, gossip, and a whole host of other things but when we’re counseling couples this is the go-to scripture. Except when it’s not. I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and just when I think I’ve heard it all, something new pops up. The question then becomes do I counsel and meet the status quo of the church or do I counsel in love?
In the case of the minor infidelity, I recognize it sounds like sarcasm but it isn’t because honestly infidelity is minor compared to what I hear, you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he has a crack.
In the case of the porn addiction you can transfer the fear of intimacy and get a marriage back on track but these are minor compared to the shattering realities of some marriages.
What do I tell the mother who has just found out her husband is molesting his child? Do I tell her God hates divorce?
What do I tell the wife who comes in and shows me her burn marks and bruises of abuse? “Go back home Daughter of the Most High King, for you see, your Father hates divorce.”
What do I tell the woman who has been told that her husband is going to be staying at their house sometimes, and his girlfriends house sometimes?
What do I tell the woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter and selling the video tapes to his friends for extra money?
What about the woman who has lost her home because her of her husband’s _____________ problem? Fill in the blank, I’ve heard them all, drug, gambling, spending, loaning.
Why am I only speaking about women and not men? Trust me, I know men have been wronged often more deeply than these examples if you can believe it. I get it but you see, I minister to women. I am surrounded by women. So I hear stories from women.
So instead of telling them that God hates divorce, instead sometimes I say, “Get to a safe place where you can think about what your next move is.” No where, not one place, in the bible does it say we must stay in an abusive situation, nor does it say God tolerates abuse. In fact, it talks of love, of bearing one another up. We must be wise, but we aren’t to be heartless and we certainly should never line up with sin.
The dogmatic response of never can’t stand in the face of truth. Life is complicated and sometimes nightmares and horror stories become real life. When I hear Never Divorce I wonder what you would tell your daughter? Well she’s God’s child and she wasn’t created for some of the things she has gone through.