Contend Earnestly: God's View on Divorce: Part II

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

God's View on Divorce: Part II

The Reasons Divorce is Hated

For I hate divorce, God says in Malachi 2:16. But why? Do you ever think of the laws that God says and simply ask, “why is it wrong to do so?” There is very much reason why divorce is so hated by God.

What is the answer? What is the answer of why God hates divorce?

Some preach sermons on this as just another moralistic way to live your life. Don’t divorce because God says so, they will say. But, what happens if we just don’t get divorced because God says so?

We will never fully understand how Christ is seen in it, nor will we see the love of God for us. Because marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with us. If we can see this relationship today, you will understand more clearly why divorce is so hated by God.

Jesus gives us a commentary, not only on Part I's Scripture, but also the original intent of marriage in Matthew 19.

Jesus tells us that divorce has never been permitted and it is because the original intent of marriage was that when the two come together to marry, they become one flesh. They are no longer two people, but one. We will get to the two reasons that divorce is permitted, but for now we are going to focus on the reason of marriage.

So, the first reason that Christ tells us that divorce is wrong is because the two have become one flesh. But this is really a picture. This marriage, this oneness, is a picture of conversion.

What happens at conversion? The Spirit of Christ lives within us. We are adopted in the family, we call God Abba, or daddy.

Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "The two shall become one flesh." But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:16-17

For the most important reason of the marriage, look to Ephesians 5. This is a popular passage of Scripture, but we see the reason marriage is so vital, and in the end, why divorce is so detrimental.

Marriage is the picture of Christ to us. Marriage points people to Christ. Marriage points people to the Trinity.

Let’s look at the different ways:

The wives point us to our relationship with Christ:

What does verse 22 tell us about the wife?

The wife shows us how we are to be with our Lord. We are to be submissive to Christ. We are to realize that through watching the godly wife that we are seeing a picture of the Christian and his/her loving submissive relationship to the Christ.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
1 Peter 3:1

What does verse 25 tell us about the husband?

Verse 25 is for us to see exactly how much Christ loves us. In that, Christ is not a ruler or king that simply gives out decrees and rules without care, but he truly loves us and wants the best for us. So much so, that Christ gave up his own life, his own kingdom, his own rule in heaven for the sake of our redemption for the glory of God. He comes along side of his children and shows them how much he loves them, instead of just demanding worship and adoration. Jesus got his "hands dirty" per se.

This is what the husband does for the world and for the wife. He shows the perfect leadership and love of Jesus Christ.

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7

This idea of the woman being weaker is not someone who is weak like weakminded or anything like that, as some dumb men would have people think, but more of someone who is like a prized vase that you take care of.

What do we learn of the church? That we are the prize for Christ, that we are the ones that are given to Christ.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
Revelation 19:7

Lastly, look to Eph 5:21

and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:21

Who shows us the perfect subjection to one another? The Trinity. So, marriage is also a showing of perfect subjection to one another so that all are equal, yet with different roles.

So, if we can see that marriage is a perfect picture of the oneness that comes about in conversion, if we can see that the wife points us to being subject to our Christ, that the husband shows us the loving leadership of Christ and marriage shows us the perfect subjection that the Trinity have with one another, can you see why divorce is so detrimental to the testimony of our great God?

Do you see that even marriage is not about ourselves, but is all about the glory of Jesus Christ?

The way to make sure that your life is not wasted is to continually point people to Jesus Christ through doing all things for the glory of Christ. This is why divorce is so detrimental, because it destroys the witness of pointing people to the glory of Christ.

In the next post we'll take a look at the exceptions that the New Testament gives us for grounds of divorce.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Seth, I've been enjoying this series. Just one quibble:

Abba cannot be accurately translated into English as "daddy". It does not mean that. It is a vocative form of the word "father". As Crosswalk's online lexicon says, "Whenever it occurs in the New Testament it has the Greek interpretation joined to it, that is apparently to be explained by the fact that the Chaldee "ABBA" through frequent use in prayer, gradually acquired the nature of a most sacred proper name, to which the Greek speaking Jews added the name from their own tongue" (emphasis mine).

I mention this because I think it severely skews our relationship with God if we think that abba can be translated as "daddy" in the Bible. A totally different meaning is actually in view. Yes, in a sense we entreat God as a child would entreat her daddy; but a child does not have the reverence for her father that the term abba implies for God; nor the sense of majesty or sublime authority. And most importantly, the term "daddy" is not specifically vocative, and so its semantic range takes it very far from that of abba, into irreverent, inappropriate, one might even suggest blasphemous colloquialiasm.


Seth McBee said...


I guess I would have to disagree with you on this point, or maybe I should just explain my usage more. What I am trying to convey is that the term "Abba" conveys a personal "father" not a distant one. This term, from what I have read in my lexicons and dictionaries, puts a new spin on the term "Abba" in the NT. It shows the personal relationship instead of just merely God being a "distant" Father.

When a child uses the term "daddy," when I have had it said to me by my sons, they are not being irreverent in any sense. But, in today's culture, just by my son calling me "daddy" instead of saying he merely has a "father" shows his personal relationship with me. The term has no connotation of whether he respects or has reverence to me, but shows the aspect of a relationship. Which, in turn, should show that he, in actuality, does respect and honor me.

This is why the term "Abba" when referred to God was so revolutionary. When Paul says that we have been adopted in Romans 8:15 he immediately uses the term "Abba" showing that this is a relationship with a daddy, and not merely just being born of someone.

Most estranged fathers are not called "daddy" and most children, in today's society, do not call their loving dads, "father."

That is my point with this term. It would seem that the Old Hebrew term would back your reference up, but with the context and usage of the NT it would seem to follow my usage.

Here is what TDNT says: Notice what they point to at the end of the first paragraph:

As concerns the usage of Jesus, the probability is that He employed the word אַבָּא not merely where it is expressly attested (Mk. 14:36) but in all cases, and particularly in address to God, where the Evangelists record Him as saying ὁ πατήρ, πάτερ, ὁ πατήρ μου, πάτερ μου, and even perhaps πάτερ ἡμῶν. In so doing He applies to God a term which must have sounded familiar and disrespectful to His contemporaries because used in the everyday life of the family. In other words, He uses the simple “speech of the child to its father”.

When the Aramaic term is used in the Greek Epistles of Paul (R. 8:15; Gl. 4:6), there may well underlie it a liturgical reminiscence, possibly the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. In any case there can be no doubt that the use of the word in the community is linked with Jesus’ term for God and thus denotes an appropriation of the relationship proclaimed and lived out by Him. Jewish usage shows how this Father-child relationship to God far surpasses any possibilities of intimacy assumed in Judaism, introducing indeed something which is wholly new.

Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (1:6). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McBee:

Great stuff! In addition to scriptural basis, Dr. Mohler (as you probably know) has written extensively on the culture of divorce (his piece on the "industry" of divorce is especially poignant). And there is study after study that highlights the detriment (the lightest word to use) it has on family. But, as you say, staying together just because you "should" is missing the big picture. Great pieces. I look forward to the third.

As far as Abba, I think I would liken it to approaching God with fear and confidence. Reverence yet familiarity (Bnonn did not say this, but sometimes we fall into the trap of austerity to the point of sterility). Then again, 1/2 of TDNT quote was Greek to me. Then I figure out it really was Greek writing and I felt better.

Thanks again!

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Seth, I agree that there is a personal, familiar element to abba; I just feel quite uncomfortable with translating it as "daddy" without qualification, because of the way this term is perceived and (in my opinion) abused by Christians. It's like the way that they refer to God as their "friend"—which is also a valid translation of philos (eg John 15:15). The problem is that they let this word obscure the creator/creature distinction, and so they tend to think of God as being like one of their human friends.

I know that God himself uses these terms. But they are used in a high-context society where there is a lot of implicit qualification on them. I think a lot of Christians today have really lost the discernment of that qualification, and so they think of the terms as directly mapping from human life to their relationship with God. That was the concern driving my comments above.


Seth McBee said...

I agree completely with you. I understand you wanting to make sure people have the right ideas about our relationship with our Abba, Father, but I would be careful not to throw the word to the side because of some lax evangelicals.

Especially in the age of fundamentalism and legalism that would probably like to deny the idea of "daddy" and "relationship" altogether.

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