To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5, 8, KJV
God Did Not Design Marriage To End In Divorce
I wonder how many people have heard this sort of teaching from a well-meaning pastor or Christian leader. This is something I have heard.
It is a well-intentioned teaching. And it is accurate. God did not design humans for divorce. He did not institute marriage for such an ending.
But God did not design humans to sin either.
Yet Adam and Eve did.
Sin has irrovocably changed the world in which we live. It is not Eden, folks!
And God realizes this as well. He is merciful and pragmatic. God is no fool.
Analogies are sometimes helpful in grasping greater spiritual truths. I prepose we look at the realities of war to illuminate God’s heart on the matter of divorce in a world forever changed by human sin.
An Analogy: War and Divorce
I am convinced God never made humans to kill other humans. In other words, He did not make us for war. God made us for peace. Yet wars are always with us. It is a consequence of original sin entering the world. Humans are capable of great evil.
Sometimes that evil needs to be confronted by righteous people in war. War becomes a necessity to prevent tyranny. Scripture agrees stating–as quoted above–a time does come to make war.
Let me use a classic example:
The Allies fought off the Nazis in World War II keeping the world free from a totalitarian regime willing and actively trying to exterminate a whole group of people–i.e. the Jews. I am thankful for those who chose to confront that evil and prevailed. It was costly but necessary.
Divorce is like war in that we and our marriages were not designed for it. But it is sometimes a necessity for good people to divorce so as to confront great human evil–e.g. in the face of unrepentant adultery (see Deut. 22:22).
Sometimes–as we read in the Old Testament–God commands war. It is not always sin or wrong. Divorce is not always sin, either.
Similarly, Scripture tells us through the Apostle Paul to divorce in peace when an unbelieving spouse leaves us (see I Cor. 7:15), and it gives us the example of a righteous God divorcing over unrepentant adultery refusing to tolerate such disrespect and sin (see Jer. 3:8).
God hates adultery more than divorce, after all.
Like war, divorce can occur for sinful, selfish reasons. The classic is for spouses to divorce because they are growing tired of their current spouse and want someone new. That is unacceptable reasoning before God.
Finally, war and divorce are costly. They cause a lot of pain for all parties involved. Neither choosing to enter into a war or choosing to divorce ought to be taken lightly.
These two things–war and divorce–exist and will continue to exist as long as we live in a world broken by human sin and evil. They were never God’s intention for human relationships, yet God does not shy away from confronting evil when it is necessary. That is what both do–i.e. they confront evil and do not give it a free pass in generating even more destruction.