The “God Hates Divorce” Lie
Sometimes lies are like a small round rabbit turd at the bottom of a tall glass of pink lemonade. A lot of deliciousness with a little nasty plopped in. Just pretend it’s not there, and you’re good to go. Let’s talk about the “God Hates Divorce” lie.
I know how this lie works, because I used it myself on a number of occasions. Where did I learn it? I’m not sure, but it was while growing up. Maybe my parents? Maybe someone in my church? Maybe my Christian college? Maybe while I was in ministry?
Maybe I just “knew it” all along because it was part of the water I swam in. The Kool-Aid I drank.
Regardless, I used it. I used it in my head when the couple from my childhood church got married. She was a widow, and he was divorced. Every time I saw them, I thought of them as very nice adulterers. I mean, she couldn’t help it she was a widow. It didn’t seem fair that she had to fall in love with a divorced man and become a chronic adulterer upon marrying him. (Those “adulterers” love the Lord and are happily married close to 40 years later.)
I used it when a friend of mine divorced her adulterous husband. I thought she should “try harder” to love him and make it work even though he kept loving other women. (Seriously. I was a die-hard idiot.)
When couples I used to know in my 20’s and 30’s began to get divorced, they seemed tainted, somehow. Like they were lazy. Like they were selfish. Like they failed. We religious folks are big on comparing.
Makes us feel good about ourselves when we can find something wrong with someone else.
I’m in. They’re out.
So when I started wondering if I might end up with a scarlet D on my own chest, I decided to do some studying, since I really had no idea if God would hate it if I got divorced—or not.
I mean, He was divorced, and I figured He hated it because it wasn’t what He wanted. He loved His original bride. But did His hatred of divorce mean nobody could get one without Him hating THEM?
I didn’t think that really fit with what the rest of the Bible told me about Him, either. See how little I knew? I literally had not done any thinking on this subject at all.
Time to start digging.
I had read a book in my earlier years about divorce (Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay Adams) because we used to be in full-time ministry, and it was required reading. BUT, I couldn’t remember much of what I had read. The thought that a Christian couple would get divorced was anathema in my mind.
Then I discovered and read Dr. David Instone-Brewer’s Divorce and Remarriage in the Church.
Dr. Brewer is a senior research fellow at Tyndale House in the UK, the third most important biblical research library in the world (the other two are found in Jerusalem and Rome). Researchers who want to study the Old and New Testaments in their original languages go there to do their work.
Dr. Brewer specifically studies ancient rabbinic manuscripts. He has done a little more studying than the average Church Person as well as the average pastor, elder, and small group leader. So before blowing off what he has discovered about divorce and remarriage in the Bible, I suggest reading his book and THEN speaking from a place of knowing. You can watch some videos he made HERE.
We don’t know what we don’t know. If you want to start on your own journey to learning more about what you don’t know – yet – Pastor Sam Powell has a couple of excellent blog posts in which he explains why the Bible doesn’t even SAY “God hates divorce” in the first place! That translation most likely had an agenda behind it. Don’t believe me? Go read his articles:
So the whole “God Hates Divorce” mantra is just that, a modern day catch phrase used to keep women in their place. Even women (or men, as the case may be) who are being sinned against regularly with no repentance or change on the part of the spouse. But what it ISN’T, is Bible truth.
For more help untwisting this lie, along with many others that pop up, consider joining the Flying Free Sisterhood group. You’ll have access to a long list of courses (including one called “Bible Flippers” and one called “Healing Your Relationship with God”) as well as an online support network of women grappling with the same issues.
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I think more people are not supportive because my husband is a Veteran with P.T.S.D. who is really respected within his roles in the community, and he has been the breadwinner for the 18 years of our marriage. However, dementia is changing his personality and he has become painfully verbally abusive and self-destructive when he is overwhelmed by everyday life frustrations such as finances, disruptions in his plans, teenagers talking back, or the toddler not listening. Hearing aids give him added interference so conversations are hard for him to follow in many ways. Being reliant on him for childcare for our preschooler and for support in raising our teenage daughters results in very irrational defiance from my husband anxiety over the graduate program I am enrolled in makes me much less resilient to teenage sarcasm as well. There is so much to explain but the simple part that my husband refuses to see is that when he is overwhelmed (every 3-4 days and EVERY holiday) he resorts to biting sarcasm, dark negativity, child-like noncompliance (which 3 kids mimic verbatim), profanity,- all of this lasts about 3 days before the anger and vengeance subside, at which point he is sorry and swears he will never utter another sarcastic comment again! Although if I push for an answer for specific ways we can both change, he will quickly become overwhelmed again and throw out more insults. (Wife is ALL of the problem, ALL of the family discord is “Mom’s fault”, “Just leave and get out of my life”, “You don’t know how to be a wife”, – Much, much more all along the lines of myself having psychiatric problems- but no offer of any help or any ideas for solutions to our constant family discord that is harming every single family member. Pleas for separation to spare our 3 year old from exposure to DAILY yelling, crying, insults, etc. lead to threats of a nasty custody battle. If both parents cannot (it’s been several years now) just maintain basic rules of sticking to the truth, not using sarcasm, profanity or yelling, and really aiming for solutions rather than defensive drama, then we have a responsibility to take up separate residences to spare our children from such an unhappy (traumatic and toxic) home environment. I cannot fathom that my husband doesn’t comprehend the damage to our children and to our marriage just from his need to have the last word, and to “win” and dominate. He is 6’3” and truly doesn’t recognize that he already dominates the room by his presence. There is no need to interrupt, cut me off, insult or degrade me to try and make himself the “good guy”. We need to be a team in parenting and since we cannot, I believe separate residences (which we cannot afford and will need state assistance for) are the only legal choice we have to avoid a neighbor (or eventually someone) reporting. I think it’s early on-set dementia causing a real lack of comprehension in my husband. He is almost 65 and I’m 47. He is getting meaner and more irrational daily. My desire is to be patient and to care for him in his retirement while I step up to be the breadwinner. However, I have two more terms to complete a Master’s degree which is in jeopardy as I type due to constant crisis in our home that very much affect my focus and concentration, and my engagement in the program. I fear failing due to the constant stress and fighting which results in a lack of sleep, nutrition, and childcare. I wish I could ignore the insults but usually I am too anxious to eat after having doors slammed in my face (teenagers) and then called a fucking bitch (by the teens) and then told by my husband “It’s your fault- all you do is nag everyone”, “It’s your fault your 16 year old slapped you in the face”, “You’re the only one with a problem in this house”. –It’s difficult to sit down and concentrate on my coursework. Meanwhile the 3 year old is literally climbing on me and the 13 year old is telling him “Mom is bad, don’t listen to her”. The house is pretty chaotic. No one is listening to Mom while the Dad with signs of early dementia is telling the teenagers and preschooler NOT to listen to Mom. So my kids are not being parented. My husband demands my attention and will not allow any peace until he gets it, so my degree and the kids are often neglected to engage in long talks with him (which escalate usually), or to make him dinner, or clean the house. He doesn’t see it. He actually does try to help but can’t see that helping with dinner once a week is not really making a dent in “helping you study”. He really founders on a lack of attention and will cause HUGE and irreparable chaos and accidental destruction if I don’t watch what he is doing. Things like not turning in our taxes, not paying the cell phone bills, I guess more neglect than actual destruction in terms of things like ALOT of missed activities (which leaves me isolated but weren’t that important to him in the first place), ALOT of missed opportunities (I’m an outdoors person as my anti-depressant but can’t really get outside very often with too much housework, coursework, and food preparation on a daily basis). So, I am unsure if divorce or separation would be more harmful as my husband has ALOT of clout in our community and will battle me without mercy in court and at every turn to ruin me in every way he can. The VA does not seem to be able to offer much support, (as he is a Veteran).
Thank you, thank you, thank you from one “die hard idiot” to another. I wish I could find all the people I judged so harshly and personally apologize. Divorced myself now and happy to be “flying free” completely loved and totally forgiven by my Savior! Thank you for your work in blowing the roof off of these destructive relationships and the churches who want to keep us there.. this is NOT God’s will for us
I am so glad to have found this site. I had become ill with the conflict of separating from my husband and being in another relationship and feeling God would turn away from me. I was married for 30 years to a man who was in the same legalistic cult as myself. He has mental health problems and never seemed capable of finding or holding down a job. There was no sexual relationship pretty much from the start. I supported us both and suffered financial hardship and huge amounts of stress every time he had a major breakdown. I sacrificed having a family and my artistic career. I became aware recently of the truth of abandonment and that I had in effect been abandoned in our marriage. In spite of the hardship we had been close friends and I feel terrible pain at the separation.
God hates divorce…. because it breaks people’s hearts, and tears apart what should be families.
We’ve been taught that God hates PEOPLE WHO divorce because they are a special kind of bad.
But wouldn’t you hate something that hurt?
Why not God?
I don’t know.
I don’t know a lot of things.
it hurts much more to tolerate abuse such as cheating and betrayal of any kind. God wants good offspring that are righteous so that is why the woman can divorce if their spouse abused them are dealt treacherously against them. Kids are much healthier when they escape abusive parents and the one who betrayed the wife usually didn’t even care what they did to the kids either.
In my case, I’m the one that had an affair. 10 years ago. We had been married for a little over 3 years. I felt starved and neglected as a wife. We hardly ever had sex, and there was very little affection. My husband forgave me, and we’ve had a child since then. But nothing has really changed. He just recently started sleeping in the bed with me again (sometimes). We have slept in separate rooms since our son was born. One or the other of us would sleep in our son’s room.
He takes care of me and our son when I’m sick. I have a chronic illness that he knew about before we married, although I’m still able to work full-time. If he didn’t, then his perfect image would be tarnished.
We’ve recently been discussing divorce (well, I brought it up) because nothing has changed as far as sex and intimacy. As a matter of fact, over the last few years it has become less and less frequent. So has the affection. When I brought up counseling he said we dont have the time or the money. And that he feels like he’d be at a disadvantage because I have a degree in psychology. He also told me that if I wanted a divorce that I would have to be the one to file. But made sure I knew he would fight me for custody of our son.
Is this a scare tactic? Am I stuck in a loveless marriage as punishment for the affair? How do you know if God was telling you not to marry someone? Am I to blame for the affair? Or is he to blame for pretty much neglecting me and treating me like a roommate?
He is responsible for his neglect and lack of love for you. You are responsible for your affair. It sounds like your marriage hasn’t ever been healthy, and he doesn’t sound interested in working on it. God doesn’t tell us to marry or not to marry someone. God doesn’t “punish” His children. He lets us make those decisions, and He gives us relationship guidelines in the Bible to help us make wise decisions. If we make a crappy decision, we suffer the natural consequences. We are human, and we make mistakes. Especially when we are young. But God loves us dearly, and He has promised to always be with us no matter what happens to us or what kind of mistakes or choices we make. He loves us in the mess. He is not like humans. His love is infinite and never-stopping.
The marriage is already over. Divorce only legally protects you from further neglect and gives you the opportunity to move on with your life. It’s a choice YOU get to make as an adult woman. You will likely have to share custody of your son because that child is also your husband’s child. His threat to take your son completely away from you is just an empty threat. The courts won’t let him do that unless you’ve been molesting or beating him – and there is physical proof (meaning you’ve been reported and there are doctor records of the abuse). So don’t worry about that.
Thank you so much for replying so quickly! There is so much more to this…for instance, our son is 7 years old. If that tells you anything. I’ve signed up to join your group. I’m currently on the waiting list. I’m thankful for the opportunity! My parents love my husband, and I was even told I’m probably suffering from a mid-life crisis! Add to that the fact that we’re in the Bible Belt, and well…you can see my dilemma.
Is it possible that your husband has a porn addiction? That might explain his lack of interest in you.
If Lori Alexandar actually considered the first five books of the bible in her “teachings” she would be “alarmed” with woman who are raped (Dinah-Genesis), women who are forced under slavery (Exodus-Women didn’t rely on other women midwives), women forced out of the home (Abe story and the women he was with-Genesis), Women of a different nationality (Moses wife -Zipporah), Women who shared a husband (Jacob’s wives and concubines). Though none of these women were “divorced” per say, all of these women went through some trials and suffering of some sort. One was even sent away. Was it the woman’s fault for these issues? No it was the sin of MAN that was the problem.
Extreme patriarchy movements do not interpret the bible correctly and constantly find fault with what the bible actually says. Moses did allow divorce and it was because of the hardness of heart (the word heart is mentioned 92 times in the LAW). God himself does not hate divorced people. He can still use those people (if the unbelieving depart, let them depart). God hates “divorce” itself, meaning the constant strain and battle about who is right and who is wrong about this and that.
I read some of the blog posts from popular blogger “Lori Alexandar” at -The Transformed Wife- and I had to quit. It wasn’t because I dislike her patriarchy tone. That was NOT the reason. I believe if a marriage is working and the woman absolutely enjoys her MAN, she can gracefully work with that man and so forth, she should stay with that man. The reason I had to quit, is because she is anti-messianic! Yes! She is OPPOSED to God’s laws! She is opposed to the first five books of the bible! In essence she is ANTI-SEMETIC. There have been JEwish people (women) forced into marriages with men who are terrorist-minded. If God refuses to allow divorce, then he would have to agree to see a JEWISH woman murdered at the hand of wicked men!
I was just wondering if one reason why Jesus was directing the woman at the well away from the fixation on man-made religious edifices is because such institutions often have altars as their focal points? These focal points also seem to compel people to become obsessed with re-instituting the OT practice of making sacrifices to “appease” God. Perpetuating the ‘God hates divorce” lie seems to ensure that the altars have no shortage of sacrificial lambs, many of whom have falsely concluded that they must have somehow displeased the Shepherd and must silently endure his chastisement. Who really benefits from this? I can testify as a woman who languished under this false teaching for 16 years that securing the physical destruction of the victims is the cake. Securing the spiritual fracturing of the next generation is the icing on the cake. I actually wonder if the trend of young Christians dropping their faith during their college careers may be less owing to the wiliness of philosophical arguments and more to the things that they experienced behind closed doors. But the edifices are still being erected bigger and more luxurious than ever before, complete with their requisite focal points.
Thank you so much. For taking the time to help people you don’t even know. Your words helped calm my soul.
There is a special group on cafe mom called ‘porn addict wives’ It is for christian, non-christian, don’t know, native tribal and other women affected by such issues. Some women married into this stuff knowing she ‘didn’t care’ at one point and just let everything in the marriage but then ended up with children and recognized to flakey nonsense to wickedness revolving around pornography, other women were married fifty years to a ‘good christian example’ of a man, and then bam……her man got tempted.
Sexual addiction problems are very real and a problem.
The reasons for divorce vary. After all when men want ‘fake’ women and become narcissistic, it IS NOT woman’s fault. Some women choose to stay in these flopping marriages. Some leave and make better lives for themselves. Sometimes it is the money that keeps them there. The secret of ‘his’ addiction remains…….but the relationship has ended the moment BEFORE he met his current wife…..it was when his eyes were on ‘her’……that imitation thing.
Christianity can and will go the way of the nation of ISRAEL….. scattered, spewed, thrown around the world. Unless, people admit truths. Is a divorced person disqualified from being ‘christian’…..no. That just wouldn’t make sense.
Eli, was a widower in the bible. He still had a big role to play. Despite being ‘single’ he was still accountable to his LORD. He just has a different role to play.
Some may say ‘Ellen White’ is a woman and disqualified from ministry types of things or leading in a church, but really, her husband we don’t hear much about, but many people read ‘ellen white’ writings. She was very prolific writer. Like all denominations and ‘movements’ don’t put all eggs in one basket. Take what helps keep life moving forward.
Thank you for this post and the links by others. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments but appreciate the sharing and caring way that everyone is reaching out to each other. Thanking the Lord for hearing our cries for mercy and justice.
I haven’t read all the comments but I just wanted to challenge the idea that God hates divorce. As the lady from Cry for Justice said: “divorce might be a good thing for the victim of abuse”. I became a Christian in 1993 and the next year I married a man God told me not to marry. A year and a half later, he committed adultery and had a child with another woman. He told me he wanted to divorce me because he no longer loved me. Although I wanted desperately to reconcile with him and was even willing to accept his child, we ended up divorced. It was a good thing! 🙂 God delivered me from an abuser and adulterer. Four years later, I finally met the man I believe is my soulmate. Divorce in my case was my deliverance. Sin was my disobedience to God – marrying a man He told me not to marry. Divorce was my second chance at happiness and doing God’s will, although at the time, I mourned the loss and was very unhappy. Divorce is never easy. What is easy in this life?? But ” we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. Whatever situation you are in, keep looking to Him for wisdom and insight, He will lead the way, and turn your ashes into beauty in His timing.
Natalie, it’s likely you follow Spiritual Sounding Board, but if not, I think you’ll be pleased to know that Julie Ann published this in the last few hours:
I saw that last night! I can personally attest to everything she has observed in that article as well. Thank you for linking to it here.
Thank you, THANK YOU!! I’ve often made the comment that I feel I have a “scarlet D” on my chest- like I’m tainted. And honestly, at my church I’m treated like I’m tainted. I wish more people would talk about this. The Cry for Justice blog has been such a huge blessing, a new community for me that has lifted me out of despair for years now.
Divircr isnt a sin- it is a CONSEQUENCE of sin. God hates injustice. God hates when a man deals with his wife treacherously. But divorce is what happens when one (or both) partners are disobedient to God and become hard hearted. Jesus answered the pharisees when asked if divorce was allowed, that Moses allowed divorce because of their HARD HEARTS. 1 corinthians 7 explains that when a man (or woman) leaves their spouse and is unrepentant, the spouse that is left is not under BONDAGE. In the case of remarriage, the guilt of sin is on the adulterous spouse. In both cases, whether the adulterous spouse remarries, or the other spouse remarries, the adulterous spouse is the one held responsible for the sin. Not the rejected spouse.
I appreciate this information. I am a spouse that is being rejected. My husband separated from me, had an affair, and filed for divorce. I have been open to reconciliation, and he still proceeding. I will not be guilty of sin for moving on and reamarrying if God calls me into a new relationship. My husband is choosing to walk away- despite of my willingness to restore. My only concern is the idea that if we vocalize the idea that God doesnt hate divirce, are we giving permission to the sinful spouses to go ahead and divorce where they might stay and eventually repair the marriage otherwise? My husband is adamant that we are beyond repair. I disagree, but you cantmake someone see the truth, and you cantmake them want to do the right thing. He is in Gods hands now. I just pray God doesnt turn him over to his evil desires.
Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about what is happening to you. That is heartbreaking. Telling the truth about what God really teaches in Scripture about divorce may be used wrongfully by people who disregard God’s Word, but that doesn’t mean truth should be altered to prevent its twisting. Scripture doesn’t support what your husband is doing. It only supports divorce for adultery, desertion, and abuse. In other words, you stand right before God in your divorce, but your husband doesn’t. You are free to remarry, should God create that opportunity for you down the road. Your husband, on the other hand, would be committing adultery if he remarried because he is abandoning you for “any cause” and not for Scriptural causes. That is my understanding of what Scripture teaches.
MHMC, I advocate that instead of saying
“God hates divorce”
we need to be saying this:
“God hates treacherous divorce, but He does not hate disciplinary divorce. And the Bible allows disciplinary divorce for abuse, adultery and desertion.”
I just wanted to tell your readers that sometimes divorce, while sad and tough, ends up being the best thing for kids. I am really proud of the courage my mom had when she ended her marriage. I think that if my parents had stayed married, it would have been harder on everyone–adults and kids alike.
I’m not an expert on remarriage, but I will say that it is very special to watch your parents find and build healthy relationships. One of the most wonderful things about my adult life is seeing BOTH of my parents in healing, mature second marriages. I can’t help but reflect on how lucky and blessed they are. I feel like our lives have so much more love and hope as a result.
That’s encouraging. It’s easy for women to feel doomed if they stay and doomed if they leave. But God can redeem any situation for His glory.
Anna, thanks for your testimony!
You might like to read this post on ACFJ, which supports what you say.
In a nutshell, here is why ‘God hates divorce’ is a lie: cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/24/god-hates-divorce-not-always/
The lie that ‘God hates divorce’ is based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16
Thanks so much Natalie. The truth needs to be said over and over again, to get the ‘God hates divorce’ lie out of the head of the entire Christian community.
PS. if any readers here are wanting to get hold of my book “Not Under Bondage” you can purchase it by going to my website (Click on my screen name here). And don’t be discouraged if you go to Amazon and it says it’s not in stock. Amazon CAN get it in whenever you order it through them.
PPS. Natalie, feel free to delete this sales info — it’s your blog! 🙂
I WANT people to buy your book! Thank you for the info.!
Barbara Robert’s and Instone-Brewer’s work has helped us tremendously in the divorce recovery groups we have taught at our church. The Christian based “DivorceCare” curriculum we had been using was ambiguous at best about teaching Malachi 2:16. In fact, when I complained to the publishers of the content about this teaching I got only resistence. We had to teach around the curriculum. Eventually we dropped DivorceCare in favor of a strictly secular program. It is easier to add good teaching than “unteach” bad.
I highly recommend the work of both these authors.
“Eventually we dropped DivorceCare in favor of a strictly secular program.”
Wow, good for you, Loren!
“It is easier to add good teaching than ‘unteach’ bad.”
That is so very true, Loren. Well said. 🙂
A Facebook friend pointed me to this blog article. I am an ordained Pastor with my MA and MDiv from Liberty University – a conservative evangelical school. My views are my own, but they are substantiated by knowlegde of the Scripture in its original language and the relevant issues related to divorce. All that to hopefully bring value to my heartfelt praise for this article.
God gave the right to divorce, and Jesus affirmed it. Most have no problem understanding it is lawful to drink wine in moderation but an abomination when wine leads to drunkenness. So it is with divorce. Lawfully approached divorce is authorized by God but abuse of privilege leads to sin.
I APPLAUD your post and encourage the reading of both Roberts and Instone-Brewer’s books.
Thank you for lending credibility to the exposure of this misunderstood teaching in the Bible. It is scary to say these things out loud because they are beliefs held with dogmatic fervor by so many. I appreciate the support and encouragement. I hope your voice will encourage the readers here to look more deeply into this subject on their own.
So wonderful that you shed light and truth on such an issue. 17 years ago, when I was going through my divorce, I was fortunate to have the counsel of biblical scholarship such as this. I remarried in freedom and joy. For 13 years, I enjoyed no criticism until one fateful day when a homeschooling book order from a conservative Mennonite publisher arrived with not only books for my children but a tract explain that a divorced/remarried person is in the sin of adultery and must separate from their “spouse”! It mentioned the break up of family and the hardship this poses for children is the death that comes from sin. That it’s better, in the long run, for children to see their parents being obedient no matter how hard or painful. I remember feeling absolutely sick and terrified! I really had to work through it all over again as it was such a convincing terror tactic. Oh that Satan…there he goes trying to rob me of the truth of who I am and Who I belong to. It is He that makes us stand. Nothing we do or don’t do aside from belief and trust in the finished work of Christ! By grace alone are we saved. It is such a shame that we must protect ourselves from the enemy when he cleverly uses brothers and sisters to be his mouth piece. He is the accuser…. We are justified through the blood of Jesus period! Woe to those who tell us otherwise.
Unreal. Scripture was used to actually entice you to sin. That’s satan in his prime.
Thank you Natalie, for posting these resources. I’ll take a look when my kids are settled for the night, but I wanted to leave a quick comment. My views on this issue have been changing and this is something I would like to understand better. I grew up in a home with an abusive father and have seen in my life, and my family, the incredible damage done when a spouse/parent chooses to stay in an abusive relationship because they believe this is what God wants. Don’t parents have a responsibility to protect innocent and helpless children from daily harm when they are able? I would say yes, this is part of “caring for the least of these”. I wanted my mother to leave and protect us, and I was wracked with constant guilt for feeling this way about my own father. I felt like I was bad, sinful, disrespectful etc. for wanting it so badly. Here I am, almost 40, finally feeling at peace with those feelings.
Thank You, Jesus!
I believe God hates divorce, just as He does any sin. I look at divorce as a really heartbreaking event regardless of circumstances. I mean, even the abused party entered that marriage because they loved the abuser and thought things were going to be very different. It’s the end of what God meant to be a shadow of something sacred and holy. I think people whose desire is to keep women “in their place” are going to continue their pursuit regardless if we do away with the “God hates divorce” line. All we can do is seek God with our whole hearts ourselves, and reach out and pray for those who’re not in ideal marriages (I personally gently push women whose husbands are involved in pornography to set a firm boundary and kick them out if it happens again). Love rejoices in the truth! So if a marriage is missing that, something is very wrong. We should be concerned with the people in the marriage rather than the marriage itself at all costs. Less law keeping and more truth and love bringing.
you said, “I believe God hates divorce, just as He does any sin. I look at divorce as a really heartbreaking event regardless of circumstances.”
I hope you read my resonse (above) to another reader, where I asked her why she believes that God hates divorce.
Also, I believe you are wrong to say that divorce is a sin. In my book and the various posts I’ve linked to on this thread, and many of our posts at A Cry For Justice, you will see that we believe divorce is not always sinful.
In fact, we believe and have lots of personal experience to back that up) that divorce in cases of abuse is actually a good thing. The abuser chose to abuse; that’s the sin. That is what ended the marriage. If the victim decides to divorce the abuser, she (occ. he) may have a harrowing time durig separation and going through the family court, but in the long run the victim and her children are often better off. They are relatively free from the abuser’s predations and control. The children have at least some time in a safe house with their protective parent, and can therefore have a chance to recover from the trauma of living under the stress of constant walking on eggshells. And the abuse victim (survivor) is also at liberty to build a life of safety, health and wellbeing. This in turn will free her to work more effectively for the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes such survivors become powerful advocates and supporters of other victims. We have quite a network of them at A Cry For Justice. cryingoutforjustice.com
I had a lot of false beliefs and was just plain ignorant of Bible Truths until I stopped listening to other people and started to study for myself what the Scriptures say on many things.
I just want to say thank you Natalie for listening to the Holy Spirit and searching out Truth to share for others. I found your blog through my own searching and am thankful to have found it.
I have been married for forty years and am going through the divorce process myself right now. I only wish I would have known what I know now, I wouldn’t have waited forty years, but as is said,for such a time as this.
Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us more of what God hates. I wonder how many of us practice these things daily without giving them another thought.
As Natalie has said, we need to come from a place of knowledge and and not our opinions, world view or anything other than the Truth of God’s Word. Proverbs 25:2 it is written, It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Georgia, thank you for sharing your story.
For those who want to taste just a portion of what Dr. Instone-Brewer discusses in his book, this link will take you to a 6-minute video using Playmobile characters and an easy-to-understand overview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRiC0LEoDaM&index=27&list=PL7740BFE40202311E
That video is excellent and SO clear. I wish that those who are arguing here would just spend 3 minutes watching. Seriously, it’s faster to watch the video than to type the comments criticising what Natalie has posted. It would clear up so many false understandings of what the Bible says about this. No one is twisting scripture here and the scholarship is obviously excellent. I shared it on my Facebook page. I’ve know women who have stayed in terribly abusive marriages because they believe it is a sin to leave. I know women who left, in some cases due to being threatened with a *weapon* and they have STILL had to deal with flack from their church and family members who believe divorce is not an option. This kind of false teaching has GOT to stop. The lives of women and children are at stake, the long term mental health of those who are being abused is at stake. Seriously, why is this so hard to understand? Where is the compassion for victims? Sorry about my rant, but I am just so fed up.
You are right. It has got to stop. 🙁
Hi Natalie and everyone,
I don’t want to make too big a deal of it, but I want to quickly say that I take a slightly different line than David Instone-Brewer, in my understanding of Deuteronomy 24.
Firstly, though, let me mention that in that Playmobile video while the voice speaking is Instone-Brewer’s, he didn’t create the images. The guy who created those Playmobiles is a guy from New Zealand. Email me Natalie if you want further info about that guy.
Now to my main point: Deuteronomy 24 verses 1 to 4 is the teaching we need to come to grips with. It’s not legitimate to say that verse one in and of itself gives a man grounds to divorce his wife for sexual immorality. And all translations (apart from the KJV) make it clear that verse 1 does not lay down a Law in and of itself.
The four verses make a unit, and the actual Law is given in verse four, not verse one. Verses one to three are simply ‘pre-law narrative’ — a narrative that describes and sets out the particular circumstances under which the Law in verse four is to be applied.
The law in verse four prohibits remarriage after a divorce in very particular circumstances and ONLY those circumstances.
I believe when v 1 says “he finds something indecent in her” we cannot be certain what is meant by ‘something indecent’. It is such a vague expression that, unlike Instone-Brewer, I am not prepared to say it means ‘sexual immorality’. I’d rather leave it undetermined.
So, in my view, here is particular set of circumstances in which remarriage is forbidden in verse 4:—
If a man marries a woman, then divorces her, and she then marries another man, and that marriage is then terminated for whatever reason, the first husband is not allowed to remarry her.
Pretty confined circumstances, eh? Only if all those things have taken place, in that order, is remarriage prohibited, and it’s only prohibited for that particular man and woman.
Thank you for that insight. This is why we all need to study and study and study rather than assuming we understand something with a fly-by over a hill of assumptions.
This video kind of made me cringe because it says God allowed polygamy. People just assume that’s a given like “God hates divorce” however, knowing the character of God this seems decidedly false because there is no greater pain than your husband sleeping with another woman. I wish there were more serious scholarship on that much avoided topic. Just in my own research, I find the assumption to be a false one and the premise that men can be with multiple women really hurts our witness, if the divorce traditions are lies, it begs the question about our other assumptions. Maybe their are more lies we are spreading that aren’t truth. Just a suggestion.
I’m sorry you also know this pain! In that day, adulterers could be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10). The men in Malachi 2 would likely have been widowed instead of divorced had their wives committed adultery. He would have also been able to bring her to the priest if he suspected she was unfaithful and a curse would land on her if she had been unfaithful (Numbers 5). God gave people in that day a lot more recourse in dealing with adulterous spouses through the mosaic law. When we look at these verses today, it is often through a society that unfairly gives faithful spouses no room for recourse. I’m not convinced that Jesus wanted to take recourse away from faithful spouses when He rescued the adulterous woman from stoning and told her to “go and sin no more.” (John 8). In Matthew 19:9, Christ made an exception in His infamous statement that remarriage was adultery. Sexual immorality (greek porneia) was the exception. Greek lexicons do include adultery in the definition of porneia. The people who throw “God Hates Divorce” around really need to read Malachi 2 in context as well as the rest of scripture.
Thank you so much! My own research led me to Dr Brewer but not Pastor Powell. This is all so helpful because I, like you, needed an explanation consistent with the rest of the Bible and the Jesus I know.
This was so interesting — particularly the links to the articles. Thanks for sharing! (And I can’t help but wonder if some of the people who commented had read those.)
I have no doubt that God hates divorce. God hates anything that hurts his children. And divorce does hurt. But I am absolutely sure that God hates more for a couple to stay in a relationship that is destroying at least one of the two (and honestly, if there is an abuser he or she is destroying him / herself by abusing) and, if there are children involved, damaging them as well and modeling for them harmful ways of interacting.
It so often seems that those who object to articles such as this often seem to believe that the writers are encouraging everyone to rush out and divorce. Having witnessed a good friend just go through a divorce — which was the last thing she ever thought would happen — I’ve seen how much pain it caused her, and even still causes her though she believes she made the right decision and chose the lesser of two bad choices. I know that she wouldn’t rush to recommend people to divorce for no reason. But she’d also recognize now that sometimes you have to do so to protect yourself — and the person you are divorcing. (He is finally at least getting the chance to have a wake-up call to how destructive he has been. Whether or not he will accept it is up to him.)
I do believe that today way too many people walk away from marriages because they are tired and want quick fixes and feel cheated that their expected “happily-ever-after” didn’t happen. But I don’t think these articles are aimed at those sort of people at all — they are aimed at those who want desperately to do right and who want to honor God and what he believes is best for them — and are slowly destroying themselves and their children in the process.
Thank you so much for having the courage to write about these topics!
You’re right. The subject at hand isn’t about excuses for easy divorce. That’s ridiculous, and I know approximately ZERO women (personally) who divorced because they got tired of their marriage. Not saying that doesn’t happen – just saying it isn’t common in Reformed Christian circles, so being scared everyone will start divorcing (cuz it’s so much fun) is a borderline hysterical response. This is about what God really says about divorce straight from the Bible, using the Bible to interpret the Bible, not humans. He gave it to humans because He knows how wicked they can be. And it was originally designed as a protection for women – to put a stop to men divorcing their wives because they wanted a new one. Most Christians have no idea what the Bible teaches on this subject. I didn’t. And that’s why I’m putting this out there even though I’ll probably get flack for it.
Leila, you said “I have no doubt that God hates divorce. God hates anything that hurts his children. And divorce does hurt. ”
Why do you have no doubt that God hates divorce? Really — I’m asking you a serious question –– why do you believe with absolute certainty that God hates divorce? I suggest you ask yourself this question, and be open to being surprised by the answer(s).
I put to you that you have probably heard the slogan “God hates divorce” so many times that you just think it must be true.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that you have read in quite a few English translations of Malachi 2:16 the words “I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel.”
I want you to take a deep breath and prepare to be surprised. Look up Malachi 2:16 in the ESV, the 2011 NIV, or the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and see what it says.
Then, I encourage you to read my post https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/24/god-hates-divorce-not-always/
And then to read my book. 🙂
I hope you don’t mind when I say that I think you have totally misunderstood what I said here. I will blame that on myself — for not expressing myself well.
I think we are saying the same things — just in slightly different ways. When I said that “God hates divorce” I did not in any way mean by that that it is always wrong for people to divorce. What I meant is that God weeps with the people who are suffering as they have to make the decision to divorce. He weeps for all the pain that has led to that difficult decision and all the pain it can cause — even if it is the BEST decision. I have just watched a good friend go through this and even though it was the best decision to leave an abusive husband, it still brought pain of tearing apart two close families — because more than just the husband and wife were involved.
To make a very *minor* comparison that is in NO way on the same level of importance, it is how I would say God wept with us when we made the choice to put our pet to sleep. His desire is for health and life, but there was no way for that to continue. So, while putting her to sleep was the best choice, it was still terribly sad for our family and I am sure that God hated that another living creature had fallen prey to the effects of sin.
No, I actually hadn’t heard the verse “God hates divorce” before. It just wasn’t something preached at me in my church growing up. Certainly divorce wasn’t something taken casually, but it was also considered something that sometimes takes place in this sinful world where God gives people freedom of choice so that no matter how much one person may be willing to work on a marriage, another may not.
And yes, I had already read your article and felt it made very much sense.
So hope this clears up the misunderstanding.
God divorced national Israel to show that our own efforts are “as filthy rags” and that left to our own devices we will go a-whoring after other gods and will not have the ability to be faithful to Him. He was righteous in divorcing national Israel (as well as Adam and Eve). The believers, who in and of themselves, are no more righteous than any other people are yet called the “Bride of Christ” because (and only because) they have been bought with the price of His holy blood. It’s not that God “hates” divorce but He limits that right to something belonging only to Him. In much the same way God doesn’t “hate” judgement but He tells us not to personally “judge lest ye be judged” (I use the word personally because obviously it is some peoples’ position to judge others situations for example as a Judge in a courtroom). To use the line of reasoning that just because God does something himself, that it is something He wants us to do- is very shaky, dangerous ground. He is God and as you say, we are Wemmiks. He has divine prerogatives that we just don’t have because we are not omniscient, perfectly just, etc. and we have the tendency to swing to extremes.
I can understand why you would be disgusted by past behavior of looking down on people in adulterous relationships. As you said, that is just wrong–it’s judging. In much the same way it is wrong to personally look down on homosexuals as (I’m not comparing it with adultery, I just picked it as an example). It is right to say homosexuality is indeed wrong but to then make the leap to say ‘because you are doing something wrong I am going to personally judge and condemn you as a person’ is not what we as Christians are called to do. The goal should be restoration, not condemnation. Love the sinner, hate the sin. People in divorced/adulterous situations shouldn’t be looked down on any more than anyone else and especially in abuse cases should be treated with even more love and support and sometimes even encouraged to separate (sometimes this ends up being permanent) from a spouse that is putting them in immediate danger (emotional or physical). She should be protected from being abused by the other Christians in her life, legal restraining orders and so on–and you are very right that this does ‘not’ happen as it should and that people like to turn a blind eye. I understand that just being separated from an abusive spouse doesn’t mean her life will go back to being “right” again she might suffer a lot of emotional anguish, bank account losses or many other things as she remains faithful even being out of the spouses physical sphere. I get that. Yet, I also think those things don’t give us a right to go back and change what God has said very clearly about marriage/divorce. I am aware of many of the passages that are used (often twisted or taken out of context) to the contrary. I know these people are very well meaning and very intelligent and yet time and time again they find ways to deny the obvious. God doesn’t “hate” divorce but he hates when “we” divorce. Of course there is forgiveness and grace for adultery and divorce just the same. There are so many other things I would like to address here but this is your blog, so I think I will stop there. I did feel like I needed to say something though, since you are in a teaching role.
Can you tell me what you’ve studied to come to your conclusions? Because unless you’ve read what “these people” have written, I don’t think you have a platform to accuse them of “finding ways to deny the obvious.” We don’t know what we don’t know. And I don’t believe, from what you’ve written, that you know. I’m not trying to be snarky here. I’m just honestly wanting people to check themselves before they make blanket statements based on what they’ve always known but never studied for themselves. We can’t rely on being spoon fed. Blog posts are great, but I’m encouraging people to read more detailed in-depth studies.
Hi again, No, I cannot say I have read through every resource you have suggested. I have not. I have read through a few others though mostly my study has been out of God’s Word itself. I have not been keeping up with all of the impressive studies or commentaries–nor do I feel the need to do that.
That said, I think you are very correct in your assessment that many misunderstandings come about with the use of the many modern “translations” (and I use that word loosely) of the Bible. I personally read only the Old King James version (though I am not saying that is for certain the ‘only’ acceptable translation) with very close access to a good Hebrew/Greek and Aramaic concordance. No, I am no scholar in the original languages and I don’t pretend to be. I don’t have any impressive resume’ and am just a regular person but I do have a healthy respect for God’s Word as recorded in the original languages and I don’t think that I have to read every article and book to discern Biblical truths. Also, I think you will have to agree that there are plenty of “qualified” people who disagree with your position as well–even if, in your assessment, I am not one of them.
And if you don’t feel the need to study this, that’s understandable and fine. We don’t all have time to study the original manuscripts the way Dr. Instone-Brewer does, and we maybe don’t care what they have to teach us. But then we probably need to avoid speaking out as if we know. Studying modern translations (including the KJV which is modern relatively speaking to original manuscripts) is great, but they don’t give the complete picture. I think it is wise to sit at the feet of men and women who are doing the hard work of going back to the original texts rather than simply reading our Bibles and assuming we understand everything perfectly.
I never said I understand “everything perfectly” and just because I don’t “sit at the feet” of Dr. In-stone Brewer and others that have concluded the same things does that mean I shouldn’t say what I and other “qualified” people have learned from the Bible?
I do read commentaries of what more learned people then myself have written and I see the value in doing that, to a point.
Veronica, in your comment I believe you misrepresented what Natalie said in her post. I’m referrring to where you said, “just because God does something himself, that it is something He wants us to do…”
Natalie is not saying that divorce is necessarily something God WANTS us to do. She is saying that God does not hate divorce, and her grounds for saying that extend much much further than the fact that God divorced Israel.
The fact that God divorced Israel is only one reason in a long list of reasons why it is wrong to believe the slogan “God hates divorce”.
You also said: “It’s not that God ‘hates’ divorce but He limits that right to something belonging only to Him. In much the same way God doesn’t ‘hate’ judgement but He tells us not to personally ‘judge lest ye be judged’ … ”
I don’t believe you can show us anywhere in Scripture that supports your idea that God limits the right to divorce to only Himself. I challenge you on this; I think that assertion of yours is eisegesis, not exegesis.
And regarding your blanket assertion that we must not judge, or, ‘we can judge the sin but not the sinner’, I believe you have a sub-biblical doctrine of judgement.
Jesus, God the Father, and the NT Apostles many times tell us to judge with righteous judgement, to discern evildoers and wolves in sheep’s clothing — and furthermore, to put them out of the church if they claim to be Christians but are committing heinous sin (1 Cor 5: 11-13, for example).
I suggest to you that you have somewhat naively swallowed a christianese aphorism (‘judge the sin but not the sinner’) without examining to what extent it actually represents the whole counsel of God in Scripture.
the sin is not in the divorce,but in remarriage,matt 19;9,romans 7;3..and there are more verses to this very subject..I can only imagine how this story will be used to justify the sin of remarriage for those living in adultery,and posting such a story is definately treading on dangerous grounds,maybe you could quote scripture on where remarrying is biblical?Instead of ur own opinion,or the books you wud refer..the bible truths stand on remarriage until the end of time,as with some of the other sins that are being called ok .ex..homosexual,abortions etc,etc..we as a people have a tendency to condone what we want to make us feel good..
We can’t live in fear of others taking truth and twisting it, because that’s a given in a sinful world. And this very fear is exactly why there is so much confusion and destruction surrounding this issue for women! This blog post isn’t about remarriage, but the books I refer to cover that as well. If you want to learn more so you can comment from a place of knowing, please get those books and read them. I would like to see some interaction from people who have studied all sides of this and can comment specifically on the historical, linguistic, and contextual meaning of the verses in question. Not just the modern translations we’ve all swallowed without question done by men with an agenda.
thank-you for your response,and i guess we agree to disagree,there is no fear,but perfect love castest out fear.and standing on the biblical truths is freedom to the fullest,marriage is hard work,and its not easy,but honoring the committment is essential..we have been married for almost 29 years,and there was a time when we were seperated,never with the intention to remarry,but to be apart for a season to work out our issues and to get back together,this might not happen to all couples that seperate,and i knew it couldve be my story,but my committment to God was i will trust Him with my marriage,and if we would never get back together,I will serve him as a single woman,still married,but seperated,and do so with a joyful heart..I take the Bible over any man made reading material,even tho im a huge fan of reading other book too,they must line up with scripture..
One thing I have learned about scriptural truth is that we MUST NOT hide it or keep quite about it because we fear some one taking what we said and using it as an excuse to sin. The truth is no less true because some one decided to twist it in their mind and sin with it. Truth is true no matter what. Our bumbling attempts at speaking the truth do not cause sin. The sinner causes the sin when they make their choice.
Here is my post where I give a ‘nutshell’ explanation of the scriptural reasons why remarriage after divorce is NOT sinful.
Oh boy I loved reading this post — the worst is when people are so brain-washed that they preach for the spouses to leave their now married spouses and go back to their first spouse – which is 100 % contrary to the Bible as it clearly says it is an abomination to do this. I am trying to teach this to people all the time — that divorce is not the “unforgivable sin” it is the grievance of the Holy Spirit. No-one gets married in the hope of getting divorced. Many people do not know that divorce is written in their future and divorce is very painful and to not have the support system of your so called spiritual leaders is even more painful. I am glad that you are being so candid about bringing out the truth – I have a group on FB where I share resources for those who are in abusive marriages and how divorce is a solution. I will share this post on there also. Thank you. I love your work here. I love your posts. They are encouraging.
Once you start down that road of creating extra-biblical rules out of fear, you open up a Pandora’s box of trouble for the “least of these.”