Many believers who have been married for years and who may even know intellectually all that the Bible says on this matter, still often end up divorcing their spouse. Others reading this may want to know this about their marriage: is there any hope? There is a tremendous spiritual battle for our homes today and sadly, many divorces split Christian homes every year.
For many men, the command to love their wife sounds like an invitation to step on a nail. For many women, the command to submit to their husband may sound like an invitation to jump off a cliff. For others, remaining in their marriage sounds like banging their head against the wall when they already have a migraine headache. While this blog is not an attempt to give a comprehensive view of marriage and divorce, I hope this will give fresh hope for those struggling in marriage and help to all in seeing the permanency of the marriage covenant.
This blog will introduce and seek to give one of the five answers to this question from Malachi 2:13-16: why should you stay married, and how? Any one of these five reasons is sufficient for anyone to stay married. All five added together are overwhelming motives for Christians to fight for their marriages as the world, flesh, and devil fight against them.
In this dramatic passage, Malachi challenges God’s people in the strongest terms possible to be faithful to their marriage relationship. “Did not He make one … And wherefore one? … he hateth putting away.” Malachi here refers to Genesis 2:24 and the original blueprint of marriage, that God makes a husband and wife one flesh. Jesus Himself quoted this passage and commented, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6). Paul also referenced that foundational marriage template in the first marriage between Adam and Eve in Ephesians 5:31 to show the timeless importance of the marriage institution. Yes, God still hates divorce.
The first reason that married couples ought to remain married is this: because of the divine covenant of marriage. Malachi 2:14 “Yet ye say, Wherefore? because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”
Malachi says God is a witness of the marriage vows, meaning He is the enforcer or the One who assures the parties to the covenant keep the terms of the agreement. Malachi 2:15 says, “did not He make one?” That is, God does it. Marriage here is also marked as a “covenant” (Proverbs 2:17). God is central in the marriage covenant agreement. If we honor our human contracts, how much more should we honor an agreement we make with another human who we say we love. Moreover, God is in the midst, who we also say we love.
Malachi uses this word “treacherously” for the third time in this passage emphasizing that some were deceitfully breaking their promises made with God. Why must married couples stay married? Because marriage’s very essence is a one flesh covenant relationship designed and defined by God, and to break that relationship is to betray a promise made before God and man.
How can we remain in our marriage? A husband must never forget his wife in light of three terms in Malachi 2:14: the “wife of your youth,” “companion,” and “wife of thy covenant.” These words describe the intimacy and permanence of the marriage relationship.
The expression “wife of thy youth” (v.14, 15) emphasizes how a husband must keep fresh in the heart one’s wife when they first knew one another. They must remember that first date and re-live that sense of excitement. Married couples must remember the feeling they had when they felt they did not deserve one another and could not live happily without each other. This phrase also underlines that some years have passed. There are now wrinkles and bags, grey hair and sags. Through the years, the fat cells increase and the energy decreases. It is easy over time to take each other for granted so that person that at one time you could not believe would marry you, now you can’t believe you married them. But don’t! Remember your wife from the days of your youth.
The second word is “companion.” This word appears only once in the Old Testament. The root word speaks of a friend or a partner with whom you are permanently bound or knit together. A marriage partner is a permanent partner, someone you are bound to like two bricks cemented together. A companion is also someone your equal.
The third phrase is “the wife of thy covenant.” In many marriages, the couples make pledges and vows. The pledges spoken to God and the vows to each other show the three-fold covenant between husband, wife, and God. Proverbs 2:17 also speaks of marriage as a covenant which says, “Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.” May God give your marriage strength as you recognize that marriage is His divinely designed permanent covenant relationship between a man and a woman!
Part 2 will cover two other reasons why we should stay married and how.