God Hates Adultery More Than He Hates Divorce!


I have seen your abominations,
    your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings,
    on the hills in the field.
Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
    How long will it be before you are made clean?”

-Jeremiah 13:27, ESV

God Hates Adultery More Than He Hates Divorce.

This is my response to Christian counselors and pastors who trot out Malachi 2:16 as blunt force weapon to shame a faithful spouse into staying married.

“God hates divorce,” they say.

And I say, “Not as much as He hates adultery.”

It’s well past time we get that straight.

Adultery is always sin. And God uses rather graphic language in Scripture when talking about adultery. In the above passage, we read of God viewing his adulterous people as “neighing” like animals in heat after their adulterous lovers. And more verses like that one can be found in the Prophets, especially Ezekiel.

Jeremiah is using an understandable repulsion to convey metaphorically God’s heart about Israel pursuing other gods. It is like a husband who finds his wife running after other lovers and playing the whore. This metaphor fails to work if we view such adulterous behavior lightly or think God views adultery lightly.

God hates adultery.

He prohibits it in the Ten Commandments, which were even quoted by Jesus Himself (e.g. Mk 10:19, Lk 18:20). Since the prohibition against committing adultery is repeated by Jesus and is in the same list prohibiting idolatry, one can be assured God has strong feelings about such a command being followed. And I will point out that none of the Ten Commandments read, “Thou shalt not divorce.” Nor does Jesus repeat the statement from Malach 2 saying that God hates divorce.

Even more strongly, divorce is not always sin. Adultery is. God hates sin. By logic alone following from this, we can know for sure that God hates adultery more than divorce. Furthermore, as I have argued elsewhere, the much abused Malachi 2 passage is really about God condemning the Jewish men abusing divorce to commit adultery. It all comes back to the hatred of adultery and not divorce (primarily).

To be clear:

Divorce is awful. I do not wish divorce on anyone as I dearly wished all marriages are free of the trauma of adultery. However, I realize that sometimes divorce maybe the best of the remaining bad options remaining. Furthermore, I do not think God ever wanted to divorce Israel (see Jeremiah 3:8). However, God realistically realized Israel’s heart was rebelliously set against Him. He chose to honor the free will choices of Israel–even though, that meant honoring their adulterous rejection of Him. He divorced her. And sometimes God’s people, too, may need to take such a hard yet realistic step against similar chosen evil.


God hates adultery more than He hates divorce.

20 thoughts on “God Hates Adultery More Than He Hates Divorce!”

  1. God bless you! I m having a really dark day dealing with divorce drama – can t seem to list the house, Ay yi yi. So here is your blog and I read n hear the snarky “God hates divorce” and I hear the joyful matter of fact reply ” Not as much as adultery” and then I hear the “ooooh”.

    My only hypothetical question to you is…. Where were you ten years ago, when I could have used this theologically sound discussion blog to clear up my idiotic and mis informed understanding of following the Word?

    Keep up the work! You are a daily reminder that the time in the dark valleys are not wasted. I will be a wimp and admit I d prefer I was seeing myself climbing out of the valley. But get God s in charge. Sigh.

  2. Thank you so much for this. My in-laws have quoted Micah like it is gospel, but say nothing about their daughters infidelity and adultery. I was actually meditating about how God specifically mentions adultery in the 10 commandments, but never mentions divorce. So to demonize divorce over adultery seems absurd.

  3. In the context of the whole passage it is so hypocritical to zoom in on those 3 words or how ever many there are in the Hebrew. Malachi is surely talking about the man who divorces his wife so he can carry on with other women. I came across the next chapter last week,as it is one of the readings for the Sunday I am helping to prepare a talk for. It seems quite clear that God considers adultery a very serious sin

    5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

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