One of the most troubling verses in the Bible for me comes from the prophet Malachi, chapter 2:16.
"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. (Pasted from http://www.biblestudytools.com/malachi/2.html)
So as not to take the verse out of its context, Malachi is talking about the sons of Israel who have married the "daughters of foreign gods". Whether they have divorced other wives in order to do so, or divorced the foreign wives is unclear from the context here, but contemporary writing in Ezra indicates that there was a mass move to divorce the foreign wives in the post-exilic period as a means of "repenting" in order to inherit God's favor. If this is the case here, Malachi is essentially telling the returning exiles that two wrongs don't make a right. Again this makes sense in the statement that a man is covering himself with violence (the divorce) and breaking faith not just with God by marrying the foreign wife, but then also with the wife.
Hate is a pretty strong word, and it merits a the question; why does God hate divorce?
In Genesis 1:26+27 we read:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Pasted from http://www.biblestudytools.com/genesis/1.html)
This is the sixth day of creation, God creates man (plural: let them) in our (plural) image. Verse 27 more succinctly puts it "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." There is something then about this plural relationship which is illustrative of God, for it is his image. Scholars have long debated the "Imago Dei" as it's known deducing many probable attributes of man that seem distinct from the other of God's creatures. Rationality, Consciousness, the combined nature of spirit mind and body, even the place of man as ruler or steward of creation. It is not however necessary that the Imago Dei must be a distinct characteristic unique to human beings. If God indeed created all that is "Ex Nihilo" as Augustine posits, then the "Ex Nihilo" from which the cosmos came into being is the substance of God himself, namely his spoken word (God said let there be light, and there was light).
Consequently, many aspects of creation may bear aspects of the creator, indeed all should, and yet the "Imago Dei" is in fact mentioned uniquely about mankind. This may indicate that God intended to reveal his character, his nature, his being through mankind more fully than through any of the other created things. God is love, we read in first John, and the plurality of a God who refers to himself as "our" indicates a God of relationship. Is it possible that the Imago Dei is at least partially found in our capacity to love, indeed our desire and need to love? Tangentially, someone may mention the fact that animals display love, but this does not diminish the intention of God's image in man; we simply point to the passage that says if we fail to glorify God, even the rocks will cry out.
If "Love" is the "Image" then we find that image distorted through the fall. The choice of self in being the judges of good and evil causes us to misapprehend the image because of the ever present lens of self. Philosophers and Judeo Christian Scholars have wrestled with a hierarchy of the various types of love that we encounter in life ranking eros at the bottom followed by phileo, and above all the selfless agape. We romanticize about the unrequited nature of agape but the distortion of this image can be seen in the foolishness of tragic fictional characters such as Cyrano DE Bergerac. What we can witness from life, about the nature of love itself, is a progression from the dependent obedient love of children whose parents give of themselves, to a brotherly love that exists as we make friends and start to understand the mutual nature of relationship, on to the creation and possible mutual intimacy and benefit experienced in the marital relationship.
To love costs something. We’ve all heard that to have a friend, you have to be a friend. If we flip the western Judeo Christian construct over we find that Agape is the beginning, and opening for love to become possible. The Gospel stories of Jesus demonstrate this, indeed Paul says that Christ made peace with us on the cross opening the door to love; initially through dependence and obedience. When Christ says no longer do I call you servants, but I call you friends; we are witnessing the progression as in our own experience of life to a mutuality of love. And just as the Christian and the Church are referred to as the Bride of Christ, there is an expectant mutual intimacy into which God's love for us and our love for God is supposed to build.
As in our experience, often intimacy is short circuited, self demands obedience, submission, crimes and misdemeanors against love leave us distant and hurt. We allow ourselves to become distant from others and divorce takes place. Divorce then isn't merely the social crime of leaving a spouse in the cold, but the severing of relationship in direct opposition to the image of love which God desires to reveal himself through. This is why God hates divorce it would seem.
This is not to say that Divorce is not at times necessary because we indeed live in a world where love is broken. Abandonment, Abuse, Opportunism, all are valid reasons to realize that true intimacy is impossible, but Christianity seems too comfortable with divorce. Not only do we tolerate divorce in the marital relationship, but we divorce ourselves on such a regular basis from others who have differing political perspectives, theological opinions, styles of worship, ethnic origin, socio-economic status, and sometimes merely because we don't like someone.
If we are called as Christians to be salt and light, are we not called to be part of God's revelation of his character, and especially of his love? What violence are we covering ourselves in if in our search for personal purity and convenience we destroy the opportunity for God to reveal himself through us?