Read Malachi 2
Focus on verse 16
I believe it would be fair to say that most couples do not enter into a marriage covenant with the intention of breaking it, yet statistically we are told that right around half of all marriages end this way. As I consider what the root cause of divorce might be, I continue to arrive at a characteristic we call selfishness.
While there may be the odd exception, I believe it would also be fair to say that most divorces are caused by people who make the choice to be selfish. Now, I do not write this to make those who may have this in their history feel guilty about their past. What is past is past and most likely cannot be undone, hopefully is forgiven. Rather I write this more as an observation of the nature of humanity.
In today’s reading we find a segment of the reading, which informs us of how God feels about divorce, and it is not positive;
For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless. (v. 16)
To be fair to the men who might be reading this, I believe this also goes the other way. A relationship is a two-way street so if the material goods are going to be divided between the two that are splitting up, the responsibility of failing to nurture the relationship can also be shared. In other words – I don’t believe there is ever a truly innocent party…there may be one who contributed more to the demise of the relationship but just as it takes two to agree to enter into a relationship, it takes two to rip it apart.
The point I’d like to focus on today is actually the second sentence in verse sixteen which focuses on what it takes to prevent divorce. In a sense it echoes what the writer of Proverbs wrote in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV) Here in Malachi the prophet says, “guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” If we do not guard against the sin of selfishness, and choose to give one hundred percent of ourselves to the relationship, the chances that it will fail are fairly good. If we make the choice to focus our energy first and foremost on maintaining our relationship with God, and then secondarily focus on nurturing the relationship with our spouse, the chances of the marriage failing decreases exponentially. In studies that have been done of married couples in America who attend church regularly and pray together daily, I believe the divorce rate is less than two percent. That is a significant drop from the national average of around fifty percent.
I would take this a step further and suggest that maintaining a close relationship with God will improve and guard not only your marriage relationship, but all your relationships. It would seem that it is difficult to stay “wrong with people” when one is “right with God”.