Divorce is always painful -
for those involved, and God
Marriage is a set of promises. Christians believe that these promises are made before God, which makes them powerfully binding, and that they reflect God’s own promises to his people—to love us, to be with us, and to remain faithful to us, forever.
When God gives his word, he means it. Jesus is also called the Word of God: this is how strong God’s promise is to us—that he ‘gave his word’, in the person of his son, as a living-out, and eternal resurrection, of his promises to us.
Even the interminable unfaithfulness of the tribes of Israel, throughout the Old Testament, didn’t make God want to divorce himself from his people.
In the New Testament, the church (the people, not the building) is referred to as the ‘bride of Christ’; he in turn is our ‘bridegroom’. This is a sign of God’s great love and faithfulness, and the permanence of his relationship with us. In the gospel of Matthew (NT), Jesus says: ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ He doesn’t say, ‘Unless you’re unfaithful. Unless you turn your back on me. Unless I get bored of you.’ It’s his promise, and he means it.
Jesus explains his views on marriage in Mark (NT): “...A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
“I hate divorce,” says God in Malachi (OT). Divorce is very painful, particularly where there are children involved and, like any good parent, God hates to see his children hurting. Divorce without hurt is an extremely rare thing: even when divorce may come as a relief, it therefore comes after pain—including the pain of broken dreams and promises, and a broken future.
We understand, therefore, that God sees marriage as a promise not to be broken, and that divorce is not his plan for us. That said, the reality is that—for whatever reason—people do divorce. Sometimes they are the initiator; sometimes they are divorced against their wishes. So if God hates divorce, does he therefore hate divorced people? Absolutely not. No one is any less precious or beloved by God than anyone else; no one is beyond his grace.
The pattern Jesus gives us for our lives is a perfect one. Whilst we should constantly strive to live according to that, the truth is that we are not, like him, perfect.
So choose your marriage partner carefully. Take your marriage vows very seriously, and do everything in your power to hold your marriage together. But if you end up in the unfortunate position of being divorced, do not imagine that you are beyond the love, grace and acceptance of God. This is the very time to turn to the comfort of Jesus, and to allow him to be your loving and faithful ‘bridegroom’.
Read the testimony of someone who found God—and a new partner—after divorce
Visit the BBC religion & Ethics webpage on divorce and remarriage
Study biblical teaching about divorce
Study further biblical teaching about divorce
Look up what the Church of England says about whether you can get remarry in their churches after a divorce
Read the book Remarriage After Divorce in Today's Church (3 viewpoints), by Wenham, Heth & Keener
Read the book Missing Being Mrs: Surviving Divorce Without Losing Your Friends, Your Faith, or Your Mind by Jennifer Croly
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