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'til Death To Us Part

Malachi 2:11-16 
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"Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord which He loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. [12] "As for the man who does this, may the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the Lord of hosts. [13] "And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. [14] "Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. [15] "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. [16] "For I hate divorce," says the Lord, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the Lord of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously." 

God's message through Malachi began with a pronouncement of His love for His people, moved to the temple to set things right with His priests, and continues in this text to elevate the importance of marriage in the view of Malachi's contemporaries. As is the pattern in all of the issues Malachi addresses, he begins an accusation from the Lord against the people, they deny any wrong doing, then he offers the proof of their sinfulness.

In verses 11-13, he accuses the people of profaning God's sanctuary with their marriages, then complaining that their relationship with the Lord isn't right. In verse 14, Malachi's audience denies any wrong doing, they say, "For what reason?" Malachi is quick to respond in the remainder of the verse and as he does, he teaches us a lot about marriage. 

In a moment, we'll study God's view of marriage and divorce, but before we do, I have a question to ask you: How highly do you view marriage as an institution?

Now I know that your immediate reaction to that question is colored by your personal experience. Some of you are the product of a broken home or have been through a divorce. Others are struggling through a difficult marriage or are working hard to make your marriage work. Still others have never been married, and others have a "marriage made in heaven." As much as possible, I want to ask you to separate your personal experiences from this question. Let me ask you again, how highly do you view marriage?

Some people in our culture discount the importance of a marriage union in favor of cohabitation, "It's just a piece of paper," they say. In juxtaposition with that voice, is the cry from the homosexual community wanting the right to solemnize and formalize the relationship they have with their "life partners" with a marriage ceremony. 

Both voices agree to reject traditional Christian morals, but they disagree about the importance of marriage. But the sad truth is, our culture's view of marriage has diminished even among those who embrace traditional values. In the back of most people's minds is that divorce is a viable option if "the marriage doesn't work out."

John Steinbeck got his first divorce when he was 38 after falling in love with Gwen Conger, a 20-year-old singer. He invited Conger to his house, sat her down in a room with his wife and said, "I want you two gals to talk this out, and the one who feels she really wants me the most, gets me." Steinbeck then left the room. Conger got him. When they divorced 9 years later, Steinbeck said, "Well there goes that experiment." (Biography Magazine, Feb 2002, p. 85.)With such a cavalier attitude about marriage, no wonder his relationships headed toward divorce.

Certainly, there are times that divorce is the best way to dissolve a bad situation. In her book, for Better or Worse, Mavis Hetherington affirms that divorce has rescued families from domestic abuse, and has provided some people "with remarkable opportunity for life-transforming personal growth." (Newsweek, 1-28-02, p. 60)

Moses and Jesus both allowed for divorce. Moses wrote, "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house," (Deut. 24:1 NASB) Jesus amplified his words in Matthew 5:32 when He said, "but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity . . ."

In any discussion of marriage and divorce from a Biblical standpoint, we must point out that some divorce 

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