The Big “D” and Malachi 2:16

Malachi 2:16  God hates divorce……

Ever heard that one? Ever quoted it? I included a survey of this verse in an earlier post, but got only two answers. One respondent answered “other” but I couldn’t access a comment. The other respondent said they had never heard the verse. One of the multiple choice answers was, “have you ever heard the SECOND HALF of the verse?”

Have you?

I found the complete verse, book, and context when I read through the Bible cover to cover the first time. Trying to see God and Jesus in context. The version I remember reading is different than what  pops up when I access Bible Gateway. So I went to other, older versions (like me), and voila! Here it is! So, let’s look at Malachi 2:16  in several versions:

    • New International Version 1984
      “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
    • New Revised Standard Version
      For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
    •  New International Version
      “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

NOT ONCE in 20+ years was this verse quoted to me, in its entirety or in context, by friends or clergy. Just the God Hates Divorce part.

Why was that? When so much care is taken to quote some other passages in context? Was it because the “God Hates Divorce” part came first in the verse, and was therefore more important? If God hates divorce AND he hates a man who covers himself with violence as with a garment….which does He hate most? And reading the entire book of Malachi, I saw that this related not only to a husband and wife, but to Godly offspring, and God’s covenant with an entire race. And what should I DO based on that? I chose caution, conservative (legalistic) interpretation, that man meant person, and didn’t want to take any chances with Godly offspring. And, aside from any Biblical admonition, to protect my kids from their dad and the court system.

Then I wondered why, if marital unfaithfulness (meaning sexual unfaithfulness as defining adultery) was the only acceptable reason for divorce, did marriage ceremonies (which sanctify the covenant of marriage) include words such as “love, honor and cherish?” I wondered why we didn’t just stand before the preacher and say “I promise not to have sex with another till we die,” and leave it at that…since that is what seemed to be the actual substance of the arrangement. Since meanness, coldness, fear, financial ruin….verbal and physical abuse, are often considered non-sufficient grounds for divorce. Or for accountability within the church. And since Ephesians marriage verses seemed to be recommendations, rather than contractual requirements.

Matthew 5:32  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

******

At the time of my divorce, I understood it this way: I will go to hell more surely by taking my own life than by divorcing my husband.  I was shocked and bewildered by God’s silence, my unanswered prayers for healing (not just of Peter; I was willing to change, too) and for guidance. And had come (from a start of open-hearted faith) to believe that God was a harsh taskmaster, demanding colossal sacrifice and endurance in the form of testing and somehow displaying His glory, demanding no shrinking back or He would be displeased, and that fearing Him is a good thing (even after checking out the word “fear” in Strong’s Concordance for many verses hoping it really meant “respect” or “honor”). And that once divorced, I would, Biblically speaking, be forever in a poor plan B. These are some of the ideas, views of God, that come from some skewed interpretations of scripture and Christian counsel. And formed part of the gauntlet I ran.

I didn’t understand much about covenant, Biblically speaking. Thanks to Joe Pote (http://josephjpote.com/) I understand much better NOW. I wouldn’t dream of trying to express the content of Joe’s book, So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce…, because I could in no way accurately abbreviate the points he so clearly makes. But I will say that I have now been introduced to a kinder view of God’s interest in my former marriage and my life, which gives me greater peace in the present. This is what I learned (my understanding): God doesn’t use covenants to enslave or abuse – He redeems us from bondage, including that of marital abuse (and the word redeemed means a lot more than I thought it did); divorce isn’t sin (treachery IS sin); I have not missed God’s best plan for my life because I have been through divorce; I am not to blame for my divorce (it is not always the fault of both parties);  “divorced” is not an eternal condition that overshadows me or defines me – I am not Peter’s ex-wife – the marriage covenant no longer exists, so I am just Diane; my second marriage is not sin (my covenant with Peter no longer existed; there was no covenant to violate); my husband and I are each married to one person – the husband of one wife – the wife of one husband (we are not bigamists married to each other AND to our previous spouses – our former marriages no longer exist) and any evaluation for ministry can be made on that basis.

(If you want to do a very good thing, buy this book for your church library.)

There were two sides as I Ran the Gauntlet: my abusive Christian husband with his destructive and misinformed words and control on one side, and the Church with its destructive and misleading scriptural interpretations and control on the other.

As I am blogging and listening, both sides of the gauntlet are beginning to disarm and go away. Some of the harmful ideas used by both sides are now useless weapons, rusting on the grass. I’m listening. And feeling the breeze of freedom and the sun on my face.

Good Sabbath, my Blogger Church.

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22 thoughts on “The Big “D” and Malachi 2:16

  1. Regina Riley Jones June 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm Reply

    There is more than one word for “divorce” used in the Hebrew, and also in the Greek. In Malachi, the word used is not the writing of divorce, which GOD INVENTED, is was the cruel practice of “putting away” your wife, essentially abandonment, which left her still married, but uncared for, and without a writing of divorce, only left to begging or prostitution to make a living. In this sense, the “violence” of “faithlessness” makes sense. Putting away your wife is an act of violence. The same word is used in the Greek about remarrying a “put away” person. You cause them to commit adultery, because they aren’t considered divorced without a writing of divorcement (again, invented by God). Think about it… why would God hate what He invented?
    More in detail in the book, “Divorce: A Gift of God’s Love” by Walter Callison.

    • ranthegauntlet June 26, 2013 at 9:30 am Reply

      Hi, Regina! Thank you for the knowledgeable input. I wish more Christians knew this – it would save considerable grief as they offer input to others! And to those who are dealing with divorce because of abuse! Isn’t it amazing how looking at actions or words (by God or people) with more insight changes our entire paradigm. This changes seeing God as cruel and inconsistent, to kind and dealing realistically with cruel practices of the day. This is a huge reminder to me, and I much appreciate it, because I am wrestling with some other biblical topics that, in my limited view, makes God look pretty scary, and are an impediment to abiding trust. I will check out the book (thank you for the recommendation!!!). Do you blog as well, Regina? I didn’t see info on your gravitar. Thanks again!! Diane

  2. Barbara Roberts March 31, 2013 at 1:07 am Reply

    I believe that Malachi 2:16 has been mistranslated in most older translations, but the ESV,, the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the 2011 NIV have each got it correct. You quoted the 2011 NIV in your post:
    ““The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. “So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.”
    In the Hebrew, the verb ‘hates’ is third person masculine singular (he) not first person (I). It is not God doing the hating in that verse, it is the divorcing husband.

    In my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce For Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” I have a whole chapter on Malachi 2:16 and an appendix where I list all the Hebrew scholars who have rendered that verse as:
    ‘he [the divorcing husband] hates and divorces’.
    These scholars have argued in detail why ‘I [God] hate divorce…’ is not the correct translation.

    I believe the church needs to take the slogan “God hates divorce” and consign it to the trash bin where it belongs.

    • ranthegauntlet March 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Hello, Barbara! Thank you for weighing in on this. I’m eager to read your book!

      Yes, several translations make it clear that the husband does the hating and violence. In my blog, I mostly address the versions I actually studied and heard. Though, there would be great benefit to flesh out and present these more accurate versions. I have done some looking up of word translations in Strongs, but not lately, and not that particular “hates.” Thank you for bringing it up. It is VERY good to hear! So, correctly expressed, there is never a mention of God hating divorce or the violence done by the divorcing/hating husband? Just an admonition to a hating/divorcing husband. Hope I understood correctly. I love the fresh air of a new thought in my brain!

      Although it is still frustrating to me that so many (theoretically Spirit guided) people who have translated (and edited) the Bible seem to have neglected that point (even different NIV versions over time!). Which is why it is hanging out there for non-scholarly types (most of us, most of the church) to latch onto and quote liberally to the harm of others. And that different people will argue the validity of Strongs vs other concordances, based on the perspective of the translators. It never ends.

      And I agree that the church should off the use of “God hates divorce!” Though, rather than the wastebasket, I’m thinking maybe the fires of hell…

      Blessings!

      Diane

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  4. robind333 March 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm Reply

    Great information and like you, going through divorce I thought I was no longer within God’s saving Grace. It took me awhile, but I learned better……Thank you so much for sharing such a informative and much needed post! Many, many blessings to you…Robin

    • ranthegauntlet March 9, 2013 at 10:51 pm Reply

      Hi,Robin: I’m so glad you’ve found a wiser view of divorce…learned better! You seem to be doing good work in leaving the abuse in your past, which is wonderful! Blessings! Diane

      • robind333 March 11, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply

        I finally realized God wanted something better for me. He wanted me to be with someone who not only respected me but loved and respected him…Thank you so much and many, many blessings to you….Robin

  5. barbarastanley February 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm Reply

    Wonderful! You are finding the truth and it is setting you free. I am so happy that the burdens are being lifted from you. God bless.

  6. MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com February 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm Reply

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but it looks like you got a very stern and grim take on divorce previously. Jesus’ admonition against divorce has a historical contextual element: “divorce for ANY reason” certainly sounds like they’re being quite flippant and/or wanting to trade in for a newer model. Jesus’ sternness may be counteracting such breach of covenant. At the same time, just because you divorce, you are not prevented from re-marrying (the remarriage phrase is a warning against divorcing in order to remarry, as opposed to first divorcing with no prospects on the radar and then coming back into God’s blessing at a later date) because Gen. says: It is not good for a man (woman) to be alone. So it is not good for divorced Christians to be alone. They should remarry. Marriage is a risky venture because it requires both parties to put in 100%. One party failing is enough to doom the marriage. It sounds like you really went overboard trying to make your marriage work. Maybe you shouldn’t ahve gone to such extremes to try to rescue it. Those calls are tough. In any case, God is a God of redemption, and waht was failure and loss needs to convert back into blessing. we can be forgiven of any sin, and we are not cast out of God’s blessing for our sin (I’m not saying you sinned by divorcing but I’m talking theoretically to build a case for remarriage). Hope this helps.

    • ranthegauntlet February 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm Reply

      Hi, Mike! Yes! I think your comment is right, every word. Yes, I mostly did get a stern version, and chose a stern version when in doubt. I didn’t want to rationalize scripture to suit myself. At the time, I either didn’t hear enough of what you just said to believe it, or didn’t dare believe it. AND WAY TOO OFTEN IT ISN’T TAUGHT.

      I ABSOLUTELY DID GO OVERBOARD in trying to save that marriage! I would probably have stayed just as long, to protect my girls (arguable), but if I had believed then what you just expressed, I would have felt so much more courage and safety (with God and people) in the process. I could have been kinder to myself, seen God as redeemer, wouldn’t have felt too guilty to protect myself, and seen the Church and God as companions and protectors, rather than law-enforcers and overseers. I wish this for others in the present! 😀

      Thanks for your wise and kind comment, Mike!!

      Diane

  7. joepote01 February 11, 2013 at 11:06 am Reply

    Diane, thank you, so much for this post!

    You have no idea how much it means to me, to read of God blessing you through my own words and experiences.

    Rejoicing with you in your freedom in Christ…and in your ministry to others!

    Joe

    • ranthegauntlet February 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm Reply

      You’re welcome, Joe! Others are being blessed as well – this post was reblogged on http://talithakumblog.wordpress.com. I’m not there yet with freedom in Christ, but you and a few others are certainly making it easier to believe – by expressing yourself with honesty and balance, and a whole lot of wisdom. I’m uncomfortable with the thought of ministry. If I am influencing others’ thinking, intentionally or not, I certainly hope it is in a helpful direction!!

      Really loved your book! You were concise, orderly, clear, and yet so thorough, and conveyed intensity of feeling about the subject, with compassion also. And wise, well founded scriptural research and analysis. There are so many views, and books, and philosophies, and 5 or 10 or whatever # of steps to anything out there – it’s overwhelming. And so many words (jeepers, mine included!). You make yours count!

      Rejoicing with you, too!! Diane

  8. Talitha Kum February 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on TALITHA KUM.

  9. Lori Lara February 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm Reply

    You’re one of the most thoughtful seekers of truth I’ve ever encountered. The fact that you dive into scripture with such openness and humilty says a lot about you. As your sister who’s never been in your shoes, I appreciate your situation from the sidelines, and I can only hope that I’d approach such a huge decision with such careful consideration. I’m cheering you on and praying for your the ‘peace that passes understanding.’ We can know only so much. The rest is faith and obedience to what God puts right in front of us.

    By the way, I changed my blog name from Jumpingonclouds to Lorilara.com. I hope you’ll visit my new site and click follow so we can continue together. Love, Lori

    • ranthegauntlet February 10, 2013 at 11:09 pm Reply

      Thank you, dear Lori! I already found your new blog and followed! I wouldn’t miss hearing what you have to say for the world. Blessings, Diane

  10. Talitha Kum February 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm Reply

    blown away….

    • ranthegauntlet February 10, 2013 at 11:08 pm Reply

      Thank you, Talitha (how beautiful, choosing such a name!). And for the reblog. And for YOUR blog! Blessings, Diane

  11. mybroom February 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm Reply

    funny how there can be so much emphasis on “God hates divorce” and so little on “God hates injustice & oppression”

    • ranthegauntlet February 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm Reply

      Too true, Graeme. But not so funny, eh? Maybe this will change. Blessings, my friend!

    • joepote01 February 11, 2013 at 11:08 am Reply

      Too true! And yet, the clear emphasis in the oft-quoted passage from Malachi is on how much God hates injustice, oppression and treachery.

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