“I’m for the marriage.”
Have you ever had a counselor or pastor tell you this right before making you feel guilty about considering divorce following your spouse’s repeated infidelities? Maybe you’ve told yourself this?
Perhaps, you or they tied it to the Malachi 2 passage. “God hates divorce, and so, do I. I’m for keeping the marriage together.”
Without doubt, God’s intention for marriage was that it was to be a lifelong exclusive commitment between a man and a woman (as I read Scripture). Matthew 19 makes that very clear. However, God’s intention for marriage also excluded adultery.
What happens when adultery has taken place?
Does God insist that marriage stay together?
I find it instructive to consider that the primary verse on marriage–i.e. Genesis 2:24, which Jesus quotes again in Matthew 19:5–is in the same part of the Bible that takes a very hard line towards adultery. It is located in the first five books of Scripture. These first five books together are called the Pentateuch.
Clearly, God did not see ending a marriage via killing an adulterer or adulteress as violating His high view of marriage (e.g. Leviticus 20:1o and Deuteronomy 22:22). Furthermore, Jesus cites adultery (i.e. porneia) as an acceptable reason for divorce in the Matthew 19 passage demonstrating teaching consistency across both the Old and New Testaments.
Also, a rigid stance on marriage seems to violate other Scripture as Jeremiah 3:8 attests to God divorcing Israel and Ezra even had the Jewish people divorcing their non-Jewish wives (see Ezra 10)! Divorce seems to be an option provided to humans in a world ravaged by sin. And sometimes it may be the godly choice.
Personally, I think divorce is the godly choice when faced with unrepentant adultery. After all, even God made that choice under such circumstances (Jeremiah 3:8).
Did God choosing to divorce Israel make Him less for marriage? No.
Did God divorcing Israel mean He no longer hated divorce? No.
Divorce is never a good first option. It is devastating on many levels, yet it may be less devastating than the alternative.
God still divorced His people in light of their hard and contemptuous hearts toward Him. He drew a line in the sand and said, “ENOUGH!”
Does staying (or advocating staying) in a similar sort of marriage with repeated infidelities make us more godly than God or just foolish?
My vote is in the foolish column.