In our culture today, the increasing disrespect and disdain for marriage and for God’s perfect plan for marriage is seen in the practice, prevalence and praise even that is given to divorce. The more “old-fashioned” and “temporary” marriage has become, the more widely accepted divorce has become. How should Christians respond to divorce today? Should we just go along with it in every instance and consent that “this is the way things are going to be now”? What does the Bible have to say?
First, when God first spoke about marriage, He commanded the man and woman to “cleave” to one another (Gen. 2:24). The word “cleave” is not talking about the agreement to marry but the exclusive and enduring nature of that commitment to one another. It carries the idea of welding or super-gluing one to the other. God sees marriage as permanent.
Second, when Jesus spoke about marriage, He came to the exact same conclusion. He stated very clearly, “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Jesus is not in favor of separating, dividing, parting or divorcing of husbands and wives whom God has joined together.
Third, consider how one of the strongest words of disapproval is used toward divorce in the Bible. Many know the text in Proverbs 6:16-19, which includes seven things that God “hates,” including pride, lying, murder and evil-doing. In general, our Lord hates all “lawlessness” (Heb. 1:9), which makes it all the more interesting that the Bible uses that word to describe God’s judgment of “divorce” or “putting away”—He “hates” it (Mal. 2:16).
Fourth, the Bible teaches that God restricts divorce and does not permit it “for just any reason” (Matt. 19:3). While some will divorce for just about any reason under the sun, Jesus gave one and only one reason for divorce. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). If and only if one divorces his/her spouse for fornication, only then does a subsequent marriage not result in adultery. God condemns any marriage that involves either spouse who has been previously divorced for any reason other than the sexual unfaithfulness of a spouse.
Marriage is serious in the eyes of God. Divorce is serious in the eyes of God. May God help us to not be so drawn in to the whims and ways of our culture that we ignore, deviate from or tarnish the word of our God! There is a difference between being “old-fashioned” and being “God-fashioned”!