Stan Cox

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Divorce: An Abomination to God

"'For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence,' Says the LORD of hosts. 'Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously'" (Malachi 2:16).

Popular culture, left unchecked, can have an insidious influence upon the local church.  This has always been so.  The Corinthians, jaded by a culture of immorality and ungodliness, allowed a sexually immoral person to remain undisciplined.  They rightly were admonished by Paul.  "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6).  Paul instructed Titus to sharply rebuke the Christians on the isle of Crete, lest they be influenced to sin by their culture.  "One of them, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.'  This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:12-13).

Popular culture had influenced the Israelite's treatment of their wives in regard to divorce.  In their conversation with Jesus they sought to justify their practice of indiscriminate divorce by saying, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" (Matthew 19:7).  Jesus rightly distinguished between the concession of Moses, for  the purpose of regulating what was an abuse of the women, and what God had intended from the beginning.  "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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" (Matthew 19:8-9).

What once was allowed by concession is no longer so under the covenant of Christ.  "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).  God has always hated divorce, but under the new covenant of Christ, he no longer tolerates it.

It is interesting to note that the disciples were astonished at Jesus' teaching.  They said, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10).  Their attitude in this is very similar to that you hear expressed by some Christians today.  God's laws are too harsh!  Surely it cannot be!  Homer Hailey, in expressing the genesis of his false teaching on the subject of divorce and remarriage indicated his belief that the purpose of the gospel was to include, rather than exclude.  As such, he felt that God would not exclude the divorced and remarriage who would come to Him, though they remain in that relationship.  Others agree.

It is not surprising that such attitudes would become more pervasive with the passage of time.  We too live in a culture that tolerates ungodliness.  The call to righteousness is thought by the worldly to be extreme, narrow and unseemly.  The order of the day is to tolerate!  Tolerate the homosexual, tolerate the pagan, tolerate the promiscuous.  The only intolerable action is to be intolerant!

Such an attitude has influenced Christians in our time.  It seems that the first issue where this has been seen is that of Divorce and Remarriage.  For a number of years false teachers have advocated a broader fellowship of those in adulterous relationships.  Many have called for the fellowship both of the sinner, and the errorist who gives him a rationale for his behavior.  But, other false doctrines are also being tolerated.  Some now are calling for a more understanding treatment of those in institutional or premillinial error, others claim our "hermeneutic" is too radical, and there is a call to equivocate on the literal nature of the Genesis record with regard to the amount of time it took for the work to be done.

Jesus clearly stated the principle of duration with regard to marriage.  It can be simply stated as "One man, One Woman, for a Lifetime."  Further, Jesus clearly stated the one exception that would allow for a divorce with His blessing.  "Except for sexual immorality."

Any position that redefines, softens or diminishes this teaching is false.  Individuals who take these false positions will always have adherents, for there will always be individuals who think God's ways to be too harsh, and who desire to follow their own predilections.  But, as Job, we must learn to humbly submit to His wisdom and will.  "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 'Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me" (Job 38:1-3).  We have no right to question God's will, our place is to accept it.


Man believes that he may enter into the marriage contract for a season, and break it at his pleasure.  While he may indeed have the legal right, God indicates that divorce is not acceptable.  "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6).  Jesus stated that those who divorce do so because of the "hardness of your hearts."  While the stigma of divorce has for the most part left our society, and the legal procedure is easily secured, God nevertheless still hates divorce.  As his children, we must reject the world's influence, and heed His will.


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