God is love. – I John 4:16b, NIV
I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. – Jeremiah 3:8, NIV
God’s character is defined in part by Him being love (I say in part because God is also wise, just, holy, true, etc.) If divorce is always an unloving choice, then God did something contrary to His own character when He divorced Israel over her repeated adulteries with foreign gods. As God cannot act contrary to His character, I contend divorce is not always an unloving act. It can be a loving choice under certain circumstances.
I suspect some may recoil in horror over these words being die-hard, marriage reconciliation folks. However, I do think divorce can be the tough love choice when faced with an adulterer/adulteress who is unwilling to repent fully stopping the sinful behaviors involved in supporting such adulterous choices. God pulled the plug and made an example of Israel for its wanton disregard of the covenant. Even God did not put up with such adulterous contempt indefinitely! And I would add that I do not have God’s level of patience.
For the pastors and Christians who contend God divorce is outside of God’s perfect plan. He never intended us to divorce. I say I agree, but that is not the full story:
Sin and death were not part of God’s perfect plan either.
He did not intend for us to sin. Yet we all have (Romans 3:23). And we all will die once (Hebrews 9:27).
Some of us believe God still heals and raises people from the grave. However, I would suggest a pastor would look awfully foolish refusing to bury the full casket because he believes God did not intend death and demands God raise the 100 year old woman back to life. Foolish indeed!
But for some reason, we do not make the connections when it comes to marriages killed by wanton adulterous choices and lies. Make no mistake, the marriage is dead. Innocence was murdered and will never come back. What is needed is a resurrection of the relationship, and that means a miracle on the level of raising a hundred year old dead woman back to life!
When I think about divorce, I can see how God can use it as an act of love. It is a line in the sand teaching us that adultery is unacceptable behavior. Divorce in the case of adultery tells the accurate story of how devastating this sin is to God’s good gift of marriage.
Adultery brings relational death.
It destroys the oneness of the marriage relationship.
It rapes the faithful spouse’s soul.
And it is evil.
By choosing divorce, a faithful spouse can stand with the God of Jeremiah 3 stating that he/she will not accept this evil. The faithful spouse thereby choosing divorce teaches us that adulterous sin has consequences in this world. They recognize death has come to the marriage, and they are far from foolish to realize that God does not usually send a miracle in cases of marital death.
Plus, who knows how God may use this tough love stance? Maybe by experiencing divorce, the adulterous spouses will wake up and repent before it is too late for their soul. Regardless, at least, the adulterous spouses will know they cannot continue treating their spouses of their youth with such adulterous contempt without consequences. And that alone is a godly message (see Jeremiah 3:8, Micah 2:11-16, and Hebrews 13:4).