Malachi 2:16, "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."
This morning, many things catch our eyes because they are unusual and outside the normal, everyday activities of life. Other things pass from our glance due to the normalcy of their occurrence. How many of us remember a lot of the details of well-worn paths of life? I confess that I many times notice something on my regular route to and from work and wonder, "When did that get there?" Things so frequently seen garner little attendance of thought. Many times this lack of perception is not injurious to us, but some things happen so frequently that we lose sight of just how good or evil a circumstance it is. For example, there are many churches in our immediate and general area that do not have a pastor right now. Lately, I have heard many from those areas talk about how thankful they forgot to be when they had a pastor. Sadly, we neglect to contemplate the good situations when they become "normal," but just as regrettably, we fail to contemplate the absolute evil of other circumstances when become just as "normal."
In the not too distant past, communities frowned upon single parenthood outside of wedlock. Today's common practice of infidelity was widely reviled, and divorces were far less common then than they are today. The mammoth occurrence of them now makes them seem normal and less criticized. However, the disciple of Christ that yearns to follow after the Instruction Book that God has left us should not allow the frequency of tragic behaviors cloud the understanding of what pleases the Lord and what He hates. In our study verse, we find language that is as clear as any language in Scripture about the Lord's feelings on the subject of divorce. He hates it. It does not get much simpler than that.
Here lately, I have been amazed to sit in the background and listen to people at work talk one with another. It is amazing how often one hears the language of people when they talk about their children. They say things like "well they are with their mother this weekend" or "their father did that and I'm not responsible." These are common expressions today from the divorced. No longer do they even claim an "ex-wife" or "ex-husband." The language they employ shows that they have passed from their mind any remnant or trace of the marriage that once was. Their language pretends that it never happened. As such, they show how little they think about it – or not at all.
When I was growing up, my father talked to us quite a bit about marriage, and his one rule about choosing a spouse was to select one that was "God fearing" as that principle was something from which all other foundations of a good marriage could grow and rest upon. In describing to us what marriage was all about, he many times said "act like divorce is not an option." Granted, he showed us Biblically what warranted a putting away (unfaithfulness), but he impressed upon us the severity of taking that union lightly. Being from a broken home himself, it did not take effort to see or understand how personal it was to him. He did not just know the correct Biblical stance on the subject, but he had also lived through the hell of actually going through it as a boy.
If the Lord hates putting away as our verse declares, so should we. Whenever I have had to comfort or console a friend or loved one going through a divorce, the pain and sorrow that divorce brings seems to multiply upon itself like a chain reaction. Why would someone who is not at fault (has been cheated on), still have such multiplied sorrow? Because they hate the very thing that is upon them. While they believe the course is necessary due to the callous behavior of their spouse, it still hurts, and they still hate it. They had all intention of spending the rest of their life with the person that has now betrayed them. What a loss! Looking at my current situation, I cannot fathom spending the rest of my journey on earth with anyone else or without my wife. Such a thought is hateful to me, and I fervently pray that such a circumstance will stay perpetually alien to my labours here.
The world at large today, however, does not hate divorce. It is rapidly becoming one of the most pedestrian activities that people partake in. Hearing about another celebrity divorce elicits one big yawn from the country. Another divorce in many families emotes the same reaction as it is just one more to add to their family tree. Sadly, many denominations of the Christian world have softened their opinion on the subject to the point that leaders in those groups encourage their members to divorce if they are not happy, because to so many, "God just wants us all to be happy." Friends, God hates divorce, and God's will for His children is to be faithful regardless if we are happy in life or not.
Every time I hear about another one in the lives of those that I hold dear, it causes my heart to cry out at yet another family unit that has imploded along the sands of time. What must God think and feel when viewing the events of the globe in total at all times? How many people flippantly conduct themselves without second thoughts or mixed feelings in behavior that He finds repugnant? While I realize that God has made provision for ending a union due to the neglect and death that one party brings upon it in taking another instead of their spouse, that should still be a hateful situation that we never find agreeable to our soul. May our constant hearing of it in day-to-day life never soften us to marriage's importance or God's feelings about the putting away.
One of my co-workers found out that I was a preacher, and one day he told me, "Preacher, you got any marriages lined up to do?" When I replied that I did not have any lined up at present, he said, "Well, let me know when they come. I'm an expert on marriage. I've been married 4 times." Imagine the shock that I had to contain! Friends, if you want advice on marriage, go to those that have been truly successful. Go to those that have done it for 30, 40, or 50 years. Listen to the advice of the sage and successful in learning how to get through problems and resolving disagreements. May our ministers be successful in helping proclaim the Biblical importance of marriage to the edification of the marriages in the churches. Finally, may we all have a hateful attitude towards this increasingly common situation so that we never find it normal even if it is common.