Bible Question:

Why does God hate divorce if He allows it?

Bible Answer:

Scripture teaches that God allows divorce for several reasons. Yet, Malachi 2:16 states that God hates divorce.

“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.” Malachi 2:16 (NASB)

Therefore, the question is, “Why does God hate divorce if He allows it?”

God Hates Divorce

God Hates Divorce

We will start by examining Malachi 2:16. The Hebrew word for “hate” in this verse is sane and it means “detest.” This means that God does not just hate divorce; God detests divorce. When we read the phrase “him covers his garment with wrong,” this custom is explained in Ruth 3:9 and Ezekiel 16:8 where we learn that when a man covered a woman with his garment, the act symbolized either engagement to be married or marriage. Therefore, someone who divorces his wife has sinned by breaking the marriage relationship. The message is that God hates divorce because it is wrong and the one filing for divorce has committed wrong.  God encourages us to watch our spirit or attitude. When our attitude is correct, our actions will be godly. Wrong attitudes result in wrong actions.

When God Permits Divorce

Yet, Scripture teaches us that God allows divorce for two reasons. The first reason that  God gives us for allowing divorce is given in Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:10-12 is for adultery. In Matthew 5:31-32 Jesus said that when immorality (the Greek word is porneia) occurs, divorce is allowed. The Greek word porneia refers to adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality. For an explanation of porneia, please visit, “Porneia Definition — What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?” The second reason for which divorce is allowed is when an unbeliever wants to divorce a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). For more information about when God permits divorce, please visit “Biblical Divorce and Remarriage.”

Why God Permits Divorce

But why does God permit divorce? There is one major reason or explanation. That reason is given in Matthew 19:7-9.

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:7-9 (NASB)

Jesus said that divorce is permitted because we have hard hearts. The Greek word for “hardness” is sklerokardia. It is a compound word of skleros, which means “hard, harsh, rough, or hard” and kardia, which means “heart.” That is, Jesus said divorce was permitted because our hearts are callous and rough. We are filled with sin and the root cause of our sin is pride – ME!

When self-centeredness turns to marital unfaithfulness (porneia), the offended spouse may have too much grief, find it difficult to forgive, and the lack of trust be too great. The one who committed porneia seriously offended his or her spouse  and violated the marriage contract. The one committing porneia is the offender and the innocent spouse is the offended. Malachi 2:14 states that marriage is friendship and a covenant or contract.

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. Malachi 2:14 (NASB)

Because of the trauma to the marriage, the offended spouse may not be able to recover from the offender’s unfaithful behavior. Therefore, God allows the offended spouse to divorce. It is an act of grace. It is His permissive will. Yet, it is His will to allow divorce.


God would prefer every marriage to continue because God planned for marriage to last until death parts husband and wife.  God says that marriage is friendship and mutual commitment. Marriage  should be a symbol of love and respect, and it is symbolic of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-32). Therefore, God hates divorce but permits it for the reasons stated above.

Suggested Links:

Porneia Definition — What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?
Biblical Divorce and Remarriage
Can someone be guilty of adultery if divorced against their will?
Am I bound to my wife the rest of my life?
Should married couples divorce when there is physical abuse?
When Should A Spouse Flee?
Marriage In Splendor - God's View
Is it a sin to divorce if you profess to be a Christian?