And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
-Malachi 2:13-14, KJV (emphasis mine)
Malachi 2 is such a misused and misapplied chapter from the Bible. From those thinking this chapter is about a blanket rejection of all divorce (“God hates divorce, ya know!”) to others–like Mark Driscoll–somehow twisting the passage into a justification for divorce, it is sad to see how few pause long enough to read the context and try to remain faithful to that context in interpreting and applying it.
First, Malachi 2 is a passage dealing with intermarriages between Jews and non-Jews. Such marriages were forbidden per God’s covenant with Israel.
Further, these marriages were happening at the expense of still living Jewish wives. In other words, God is talking about Jewish men discarding their likely older Jewish wives for a “shinier” non-Jewish “model” so to speak. God calls such behavior treacherous and condemns the method used–i.e. divorce–in order to essentially commit adultery while those treacherous men were trying to look good.
“I divorced my Jewish wife first before marrying the young, non-Jewish hottie. So, it’s not adultery, right?”
Wrong. Absolutely wrong.
God wasn’t having it.
Now, you may be asking yourself how a passage condemning divorce and associating it with treachery could be used as a “Biblical” justification for divorce?
It all centers on one word:
Mark and Grace Driscoll take this word and list it as a Biblical ground for divorce in their infamous book Real Marriage (pp 268). The idea is that this a term one can extrapolate to other situations than the context of the passage. Such a move is a very dangerous way of reading and applying Scripture as it more or less removes the restraints the context puts on the use of said passage. It is a good way to end up teaching heresy.
The treachery mentioned in the passage was the act of divorcing a spouse with no grounds and then marrying another. If anything, this passage teaches on what are not grounds for divorce–e.g. wanting a new, younger, or hipper spouse. It certainly is not a passage providing us with a Biblical warrant to divorce.
I call it a heresy–this is my opinion–as it teaches something the exact opposite of the passage. My former in-laws and former wife loved this Mark Driscoll teaching as they got to define “treachery” in whatever way was most convenient for them. This unfaithful interpretation and application led to spiritual abuse…of me and probably others.
The interesting piece is that I do not consider my views on divorce and remarriage all that radically different that Mark and Grace Driscoll’s. However, I emphatically disagree with how Driscoll employs shaming practices and hyper-gender training teachings along the way (fodder for another post, perhaps). My objection on this particular heretical teaching is how Driscoll takes a passage declaiming divorce and turns it 180 degrees into meaning it is passage teaching God’s people to divorce.
That is not handling God’s word properly.
It is teaching heresy.
And I know from personal, painful experience the destruction such false teachings can create.