“’If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.’”
-Deuteronomy 22:22, NASB.
While much is made of God’s proclamation of hating divorce in Malachi 2:16, I fear that many pastors gloss over verses like this one from Deuteronomy.
They treat such verses as unimportant in the discussion about adultery and divorce because we no longer put adulterers/adulteresses to death.
This glossing over is foolish. God’s word reveals God’s heart about these things even if we have mercy these days for cheaters. We know that God does not change and thus neither would God’s opinion on the matter of adultery.
Notice adultery is labeled “evil” in this verse. It is such an evil that God instructs them to kill human beings who are made in His Image!
Maybe I am missing it, but I cannot find a single verse ANYWHERE in Scripture that calls divorce evil. And while God may hate divorce, Scripture does not label it evil.
It is adultery that is evil.
Personally, I believe God does this because God realizes the limited choices before a faithful spouse. I was talking to a friend finding himself in this dilemma over what to do after discovering infidelity. He described the decision process like playing a sadistic game of “Would you rather?”
Would you rather…
….lose a leg or an arm?
…be a single dad or stay married to someone who has painfully demonstrated that they are an adulteress?
…divorce or live a with an unrepentant adulterer who feels entitled to continue risking your life by playing a sick hooker game of STD-Russian-roulette?”
The options stink.
It is a buffet of bad options.
That is why I believe God does NOT call divorce evil. It is an adult decision made in the face of the reality of sin.
Like losing a limb, it is not pleasant or ideal. I wish all could experience the ideal option of a happy and long marriage. However, the ideal options were taken off the table by the cheater. NEVER FORGET THAT!
Speaking to the faithful survivors of adultery, you really only have these two choices (and some may not even have that many):
1) stay with an unrepentant adulterer/adulteress abusively blame-shifting the adultery upon you or
2) divorce the cheater.
All other options are outside of your control as they require a response or action from someone else, namely the cheater.
You see, the option of repentance from adultery is in the hands of the adulterer/adulteress. You do not control that. And even if they do repent, the road to healing will still be full of much pain.
No option is good.
I believe God in His mercy realizes this sad reality. That is why He makes a provision for the faithful spouse to divorce without shame.
Is divorce good? No. But sometimes it is the best option left on the bad buffet line.
If God does not condemn a faithful spouse for divorcing, who are we to?
*A version of this post ran previously.