I hear this this statement often and I understand the pain that it represents. In our “no-fault” divorce society, it only takes one spouse to divorce and when the other spouse who doesn’t want the divorce protests, they will often say, “But I don’t believe in divorce.” Unfortunately, the fact that one doesn’t believe in divorce doesn’t make it go away.
I remember a man who said this to me, and then went on to describe how he was going to try to block the divorce. He didn’t cooperate with anything the court needed from him, nor did he cooperate with his divorcing wife. All he ended up doing was make his wife more angry, and frustrate the judge–and of course, the divorce went through in spite of his protests.
But when you really examine this statement, it really doesn’t make much sense. In our no-fault culture, not believing in divoroce is about as effective as saying “I don’t believe in gravity.” Obviously, divorce isn’t a “belief system.” It is a legal ending of a marriage. And if you are caught in this painful process, it doesn’t matter really what you believe about divorce. Unfortunately, you’re going to be forced to deal with the legal realities.
I don’t like divorce! I can even say that, like God, I hate divorce. I’m always struck by the context for that statement that God hates divorce. Ever look it up? It’s in Malachi 2:14-16: “You 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.”
He continues, “Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his.. . . So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. ‘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.’”
Divorce in our culture is an epidemic, and the solution is not just to hate it–we must be proactive. We must take our vows seriously. God takes them seriously. And we must guard our hearts, not just when divorce threatens, but long before that awful experience can ever take place!
I love this quote from Thornton Wilder’s play, The Skin of our Teeth: “I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people who got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them–it was that promise.”
Question: What can we do to reverse the divorce statistics in our culture? In our churches?