This is the last abuse… And it is an abuse of scripture! Do not fall for it.
The people who quote this to tell a woman to abide in an abusive marriage have not read the scripture and do not understand its context. This is what is written:
“You cry out, ‘Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?’ I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
“Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. ‘For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel. ‘To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ‘So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.’” (Malachi 2:14-16 NIV)
Now, consider to whom is it addressed, and why God made the proclamation, and what He commands husbands to do so that they will not discard their wives… DO NOT BE UNFAITHFUL TO YOUR WIFE.
When an unfaithful man throws “God hates divorce” in your face after abusing you, he is showing himself to be very cruel indeed. He is banking on your desire to always want to do what is right. To be seen as innocent, to be long-suffering. He is banking on you being the sacrificial lamb for his sins. Accepting it only enables his abusive behaviour. He has no incentive to change, because nothing has changed when you continue in a bad marriage on the threat that divorce will alienate you from God.
It is especially despicable when the men are in spiritual leadership, like those to whom the passage was addressed in Malachi, who used their positions of power to keep their women compliant and oppressed until they saw fit to discard them by divorcing them for some perceived incompetence. But until then, the woman would bear the shame and guilt of her husband’s sins, unable to walk away because “God hates divorce.” Rather than serve and protect their wives, they abuse and destroy them.
Remember, though God hates divorce, God loves you dearly. And God hates abuse, especially abuse of power and the marriage covenant! Tell those who wish to shame you:
1. It is not the act of acknowledging a death that caused the death… It is the death and the cause of it that God hates! The things that lead to divorce; the lies, gaslighting, abuses, infidelities, irresponsibility, disregard – these are the things that God hates! These are the acts of hatred and wickedness that breakdown a marriage irreparably. This is the divorce. Going to court and acknowledging that such a death has occurred is not the sin;
2. The last mercy they can show you is the liberty to leave in peace and good conscience. Not with threats of condemnation. That is adding insult to injury. If they believe they have changed and really want to work on your relationship, they should honour you with the regard and the liberty to choose to abide, not to be compelled to do so. Rather than professions that are easy to confuse with the lies they have been spewing, they should rather consider their actions, and begin to make the necessary changes that might influence you to reconsider your decision to officially terminate your marriage to them;
3. Forgiveness does not equate to reconciliation. Just because they apologised, it doesn’t automatically repair the relationship. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on both sides; and on one side, much of the work will be healing and rebuilding your desire to live and love again. Also, a relationship like marriage requires trust. Depending on the offenses and the efforts of the offender, trust can be repaired. But reconciliation can’t happen without the faith that trust will be regained because of a belief in the authenticity of the repentance of the offender. So, though you may have forgiven them, your decision not to reconcile with them is based on other factors, some that may not be in your control.
Ultimately, it is your decision to make with wisdom, faith, and love. If it is your desire to reconcile, if you are encouraged by their ‘fight’ to keep you and their promise to change, and you still have faith that they will change with a second (third, fourth, fifth etc.) chance, it’s your prerogative. Don’t let anyone discourage you.
But do not let anyone force you to bear a burden that the Lord has delivered you from. If you have peace in your decision to move on, do not let their effort to hold you in oppression through their abuse of scripture and exploitation of your noble character prevent you from living free and trusting in God for better.
In the case of physical violence and threat to life, please do not return without evidence of rehabilitation and an accountability structure in place to prevent a relapse. If you have children, you should think very carefully about giving a violent partner a second chance to abuse you and your children.
May God give us wisdom in this matter.
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