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God Hates Divorce and Violence

By Barrington Brennen, 2006

 

 

Question: Dear Sir, You have been talking about divorce and how to help those who are going through it. But is divorce really right? I thought the Bible said that God hates divorce?

Answer: Of course, you are right. God hates divorce, but He also hates violence in marriage. Truly divorce is not "right," neither can we can say it is always wrong. Malachi 2:16 states: " ĎI hate divorce,í says the Lord God of Israel, Ďand I hate a manís covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,í said the Lord Almighty." Often a spouse trapped in an abusive marriage finds it hard to escape because friends and relatives would say that she must stay because divorce is wrong. This is unfortunate. I feel that adultery as well as cruelty in marriage break the marriage vow. The marriage vow includes sexual fidelity as well as cherishing each other.

Marriage is a lifetime covenant before God that should never be severed by human actions. The marriage relationship is so bonding that not even divorce can truly separate the two. The oneness of marriage is not only spiritual but also biological. Research has shown that married couples develop chemical exchanges as a result of sexual intimacy. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul stresses the importance of sexual fidelity in marriage. Sex is truly the cement that bonds couples. No wonder Paul said that when you lie with a prostitute you become one with the her. "Godís perfect will is the preservation of society and future generations by the preservation of marriage."

My understanding of the teaching of marriage in the Bible is that in extreme cases there are only two grounds for divorce and remarriage. When adultery has taken place, divorce is permitted because adultery has already severed the marriage relationship. Thus, divorce becomes a public acknowledgment of what has already taken place. This is also the case when there is life threatening abuse in the marriage, whether it be physical or emotional. My understanding of a compassionate, loving, and just God, helps me to know that He does not expect someone to remain in a bed with a spouse who keeps a gun under a pillow for intimidation. Although Jesus mentioned only adultery as a ground for divorce, yet the Apostle Paul elaborates in 1 Corinthians 7:15 on other grounds for divorce. If the spouse is an unbeliever and he leaves the relationship, then the believer is not bound to the marriage relationship, but is free to marry. This could imply that when a spouse has been brutalized and it has become impossible for him or her to remain in the relationship, that this could be equivalent to desertion, and thus divorce is permissible. I am not suggesting that any act that breaks the marriage covenant is automatic reason for divorce. It is only a ground on which one may consider divorce when irreconcilable differences take place. The covenant of marriage includes the determination of each individual in the relationship to want to seek help or to find ways for healing.

I must point out that Biblically, except for these extreme reasons, there is no ground for divorce on the basis of lack of love, incompatibility, loss of interest, inability to have children, or opposing careers. On the other hand, must an individual hurting in a relationship just sit idly when love dies or differences seem so unsurmountable. No. There must be a commitment on both parties to bring change in a relationship and to take steps to bring healing. The difficulty arises when only one partner feels the pain and the other thinks all is well. It is unfortunate that many take their marriage vows so lightly. It is important to understand that although there are Biblical grounds for divorce in some cases, yet it does not mean that divorce is automatic in these cases. Often two intelligent individuals committed to their marriage can find ways of working things out to bring healing to the relationship.

Although no other ground for divorce is given, one must not judge someone who is in marital difficulty. Each case must be dealt with individually and objectively.

I have discovered that most divorces are preventable. Many divorces in our country are the result of premature marriages or other high-risk behaviors before marriage. For examples: 1) Many couples rush from first-acquaintance to "will you marry me" too quickly, thus creating a premature entrance into marriage. These rush, rush, marriages are high-risk factors for divorce. 2) Many couples live together before marriage, jumping the steps for proper relationship bonding, thus increasing the risk for marital breakups. To put it bluntly, I have discovered in my counseling practice, through just an observance of human development, that more than 80 percent of the couples who have divorced, have lived together before marriage and/or engaged in premarital sex. 3) Sometimes one of the partners in the relationship has not been open and honest with the other about being promiscuous or using drugs before marriage.

There are also high-risk behaviors after marriage that unfortunately sometimes lead to divorce. For examples: 1) One partner may feel that he or she has a right to do any thing he or she wants to do outside of the relationship without the other questioning it. It may be coming home at any hour of the night. It may be taking social trips to Miami with someone of the opposite sex. It may be spending more time socializing with friends than with family. 2) One partner may continue to keep the sentimental attachments with former romantic partner(s). Sometimes sharing family secrets, or spending long hours on the phone discussing personal matters that should be kept between husband and wife. It may also be showing a more caring attitude to a person other than oneís spouse. The goal is the avoid high-risk behaviors before and after marriage that can lead to divorce.

Remember, divorce prevention or reducing divorce-risk activity is much easier than divorce recovery. Divorce prevention is painless. Divorce recovery is painful. Divorce prevention is exciting and adventurous. Divorce recovery is stressful, and physically and emotionally exhausting. Divorce prevention enhances self-worth. Divorce recovery can whither self-esteem.

If you are not married as yet then take heed. If you are married and there is high-risk behavior in your marriage that may lead to divorce, remember to do all you can to be honest and truthful to each other. Commit to rekindling the fire of marriage first before you decide on divorce.

Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org   or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002

 

 

 
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 question@soencouragement.org or barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  Phone contact is 242-327 1980.   
 
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