Wendy Alsup at Practical Theology for Women has written a truly empathic piece on divorce, one of the best that I’ve seen. I say this as someone who has lived through a divorce; it was a long time ago, in my mid-twenties. My family and I continue to see consequences and reverberations from this in our daily lives, though now they are more subtle and often hidden.
I am amazed all the time at the grace the Lord has shown to me as a divorcée and remarried woman. There are times, especially during times of great spiritual closeness with the Lord in prayer, where that life from before feels alien—like it had all happened to another person, that’s how much the Lord in his great mercy has changed me.
Seven or eight years ago I started writing what was to be a book titled, “Reformation After Divorce,” with one chapter’s thesis based on Malachi 2, following the logic that divorce equaled treachery which equaled violence. Therefore, divorce is violence. (I want to reiterate to anyone who might take this wrong: I was not in a “violent” marriage in any typical understanding of the word. I am not accusing my ex-husband of any physical violence.) The basis of my writing was my experience as a divorced woman now married to a God-honoring Christian man with both of us having come to a Reformed understanding of faith. That spiritual and philosophical move changed everything about us including and especially our understanding of God, manhood and womanhood, marriage and divorce.
“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 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.”
Malachi 2: 14-16
I would encourage you to spend some time meditating on these verses, no matter how good your marriage is right now. Reading the prophesy in one sense, we, God’s people, deal treacherously with the Lord, our spouse. Therefore, one need not be married to profit from meditation on these verses. Ask yourselves questions like:
- What are some ways that I deal treacherously with my spouse?
- In what ways do I act with ‘violence’ toward his or her dignity and spirit?
- Do I understand what violence is?
It was through my reading of Flannery O’Connor that I started seeing that violence is deeper and broader than physical abuse or the holding of a gun or any simple overt action which we deem to be “violent.” Because of God’s holiness, the magnitude of any disobedience is raised to the level of violence against God. Other questions you might ask yourself:
- Do I understand the covenant nature of marriage? It’s never just between two people. Even in state weddings there are witnesses. Because God and society witness our marriages, they are covenants, and the ongoing role of witnesses is bigger than we often think.
- What does it mean for me to be one with my spouse?
- Are my spouse and I seeking what God is seeking, namely, “godly offspring?” (usually, but not necessarily, through bearing and raising our own children. Remember, Malachi’s prophesy was literal and typological and given to individuals and to Israel corporately.)
- Am I watching my spirit when I interact with my spouse?
- Is my spouse my companion?
- What is a companion?
- Am I being a companion to my spouse?