If God Hates Divorce, How Can He Allow for Something He Hates?

It is true that Malachi 2:16 says that “God hates divorce.” But the passage doesn’t say He hates divorce in any and every circumstance.

God isn’t making a blanket statement that condemns every divorce in every situation. As with everything else, we must understand what God said in context. He was specifically referring to the practice of some Jewish men of Malachi’s day who divorced their innocent wives and married women from foreign countries (Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 13:23-27). To these men, the decision to divorce their wives was simply a matter of personal preference and directly against what God commanded (Ezra 9:12). Through the prophet Malachi, God was condemning their selfish and rebellious actions and encouraging them to be faithful to their Jewish wives. Incidentally, the prophet Ezra actually demanded these Jewish men to divorce their foreign wives, showing that God’s statement in Malachi does not condemn all divorce (Ezra 10:11).

God’s ideal is for marriage to last a life time. And while divorce is often wrong (like in the context of the book of Malachi), God recognized it can be necessary because the hearts of men can become calloused and hard. To read about the times and conditions under which God allows for divorce, check out the Discovery Series booklets When a Spouse Is Unfaithful, When Violence Comes Home , and God’s Protection of Women .

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2 thoughts on “If God Hates Divorce, How Can He Allow for Something He Hates?

  1. While I agree that the intent in Malachi is to condemn treacherous divorce (divorce done without biblical grounds) I would like to politely disagree with you that the text says God Hates Divorce.
    I you want to see my reasons, please check out this post http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/god-hates-divorce-not-always/

    And in my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion,” I have a whole chapter on the mistranslation of Malachi 2:16.

    1. Barbara,

      Thanks for the food for thought. This is really helpful. I just checked and both the ESV (for the man who does not love his wife but divorces her) and the NIV 2011 (the man who hate and divorces his wife) translate Malachi 2:16 in the way you suggest is best.

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