Divorce remains one of the greatest social ills. The Statistics on marriages and divorces for 2016, released by the Singapore Department of Statistics on 18 July 2017, reveals that divorce in Singapore is at a 10-year high.
Among the reasons given for this increase in divorces are infidelity, money woes, lack of communication, irreconcilable differences and—would you believe it—weight gain.
Whatever the reasons given for divorce, it is hard to deny that divorce brings with it terrible ramifications. It destroys families, hurt the innocent (especially children), leaves psychological and emotional wounds that take a long time to heal, place massive stress on finances, etc.
While divorce has been a social norm for a long time, God’s attitude toward divorce remains steadfast and unchanged. The people of Israel wanted to know why God rejected their offerings and petitions. He explained through the prophet Malachi one of the reasons.
“Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks a godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously (Mal 2:14-16).”
God hates divorce. Surely the increase in divorces is a sure sign of the growing godlessness of the society we live in.
The church is the salt of the earth (Mat 5:13). But as the Lord says, if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
It is our task to voice out against this appalling social ill. In the short course of our national history we have been blessed bountifully. But let’s not take it for granted that God’s blessings will continue if we allow our morality to plunge.
“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Pro 14:34).”
But doesn’t God allow divorce as Moses in the Law had made provisions?
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and send her out of his house (Deu 24:1)…”
The Jews apparently had been abusing this text to divorce their wives for just any reason, much like today’s society (weight gain? Seriously?).
The Pharisees thought this would be a thorny issue to challenge Jesus, so they came to Him one day and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason (Mat 19:3)?”
A root of the problem is the understanding of what Moses meant by “found some uncleanness in her.” Jesus began by correcting their erroneous thinking that God approves of divorce.
“And He answered and said unto them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Mat 19:4-6).’”
Referring to Deuteronomy 24:1, the Pharisees tried to press their issue. “They say to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away (Mat 19:7)?”
Jesus expounded to them the scripture. First of all, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts against the ordinance of God on the sanctity of marriage (v. 8). The Lord goes on to explain what Moses meant by “found some uncleanness in her.”
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery (Mat 19:9).”
The only acceptable reason for divorce is fornication, which is illicit sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other. Anyone who divorces his/her spouse other than for sexual infidelity and remarries is guilty of adultery. And anyone who marries the one guilty of fornication is likewise guilty of adultery.
Jesus explains what Moses meant by ‘uncleanness’. It is fornication. There is no contradiction in the scriptures. It is men who twist the word of God to gratify their inordinate desires.
God hates divorce. Just because He allows it due to the hardness of men’s hearts does not mean He approves of it. In Rom 1:28 we learn that “God gave them (the wicked) over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting”. It does not mean God either condones or approves of sin.