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Why Does God Hate Divorce?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   December 1, 2023

There is one specific, tiny little verse in the Bible that EVERYONE thinks of when the words, “does God really hate divorce?” are spoken.  That verse is Malachi 2:16.  It says, “’The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

So, does God actually hate divorce?  And if so, why?  The answer is a resounding yes, but there is much more to it.  God hates many things, and divorce is not exclusive to those things He hates.  What He really hates is sin.  And He hates the actions that got a couple to the point of divorce.  Let’s take an up-close look at what this means.

Yes, God Hates Divorce—and…

Okay, so let’s get down to why God hates divorce.  The answer is pretty simple.  God hates divorce because it is borne of sin.  And it usually includes cruelty, contempt, hate, dishonesty, dishonor, and a whole laundry list of negative vibes.  And honestly, how many people actually like divorce?  We all hate it!  Yep, even those people who said it was the best thing to ever happen to them.  Why?  Because they had to go through a whole lot of pain to get to the point divorce was a comfort.

So what does God hate in addition to divorce? Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,  a false witness who pours out lies,  and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

These verses show us that God hates things that we have all done.  There is not a person on the face of the earth that has not told a lie or done something out of selfishness.  And while this doesn’t excuse us, it does say that we should be a bit more gracious about judging someone who may not be going down the road of divorce by choice.

Did you know that while it takes two people to get married, it only takes one person to get a divorce?  There are two reasons for this.  First, one person may be forced to get a divorce based on adultery or abuse.  They may have initiated the divorce, but it was not their doing.  They were forced to act because the covenant of marriage was already broken.  Second, one spouse cannot do anything if the other spouse chooses to leave.

Check out this short 2-minute video on what God thinks about divorce:

What is So Bad About Divorce?

There are tons of reasons that divorce is bad for everyone involved—even those who want it.  And all of these points are good reasons for why God hates divorce.  Here is a list of some of the major drawbacks to divorce.

God Hates Divorce Because It Can Feel Worse Than the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse is certainly a huge process of grief.  Please don’t think I am trying to make light of this or downplay it in any way.  But the reason that divorce can cause even more grief is because the relationship is killed but the other partner is still alive.  This is especially difficult in Christian circles where it was expected, even by the spouses, that their marriage was truly “til death do us part.”  It just feels totally wrong.  The partner that is left frequently feels like because they didn’t make it through the rest of their life married, there must have been something more they could do.  And that just adds unwarranted guilt to the already overwhelming grief they are feeling.

why God hates divorce

Finding the right support to help you or your loved one through this time is critical.  They don’t need to be made to feel any more guilty.  And encouragement to help them see there is a better world ahead is also necessary.

One amazing resource for this is Divorce Care.  It was a lifesaving support for me.  Everyone there understood what I was going through, even though their circumstances may have been different.  I got unspeakable comfort from going through this program.  So much so that I am now a Divorce Care leader at my local church! Please look into it!  It can literally change the life of those that attend, not to mention the lifelong friendships and support that are cultivated there.

God Hates Divorce Because You Will Lose Some Friends

I actually hesitate to put this as a bad result of divorce.  Honestly, if you lose friends because you are getting a divorce, were they actually good friends or was this a way to see who your true friends really are?

Regardless of whether this puts you in a better place with who your true friends are, it still hurts A LOT to lose people that may have been friends for many years.  You can add that to the grief that comes along with divorce.  But also remember above, where I mentioned the new friends that you will meet at Divorce Care or other support organizations.  And just to let you know, meeting new friends is one of the items of the hidden blessings of divorce section below!

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Some of your friends may choose to walk away because they don’t know what to do or feel about your divorce.  They fear they may support the “wrong person” or seem less supportive to the other person.  Or they may just not know what to say.  I think that most friendships that are lost are not because of ill will.  It is just a very unfortunate result of divorce.

Once your new life starts to emerge, you will find comfort very quickly.  The pain will lessen sooner than later.  With your new life will come new friends!  And as an added bonus, you may even regain some friends that you have not heard from in years.  Many friends came to me in support and I found out they had been divorced and I never knew!

As a final encouraging thought, know that once things are settled, some of those friends may very well return.  Everything will be fine once again.

God Hates Divorce Because It Takes a Toll on the Kids

This rings true even for adult children of the marriage.  It is devastating news.  And the vast majority of the time, they feel stuck in the middle, even when you and your ex have made strides to not put them in the middle.  This is certainly a significant reason why God hates divorce.

The best think that can come of this is to keep an open dialog with the kids.  And make sure they know you are there for them in their pain.  Go out of your way to do little things for them that show them they are still a priority and to make the time a little bit less painful. Understand that instead of the stable home they had, they are now switching between two very different homes.  Time is also split.  This is very difficult for kids to process.

Make sure that they have someone they can talk to besides you and your ex.  That can be a counselor, neighbor, friend, or anyone that is respected by your kids and can give them the support they need.

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God Hates Divorce Because You Will Miss Your Kids

Of course God hates divorce for this reason.  Regardless of how much or little time they are with the ex, you will feel the pain of their absence.  You will want to tell them something.  Or you will want to take them somewhere.  But they aren’t there.  And  you can’t text or call “real quick” because that time isn’t yours.

One of the worst times you will miss your kids is when you are sharing holidays.  It is very difficult to navigate.

There are some ways to keep this from becoming a bigger issue.  Keeping communication open so everyone’s feelings can be taken into account helps.  Sitting down with a calendar with everyone makes sure that getting to the most important events is covered.  And the most important thing you can do for your own emotional health is have plans ready for when you are alone.  Schedule time with friends.  Don’t be alone!!!

God Hates Divorce Because Coparenting Can Be Very Difficult

Coparenting was hard at times when you were married.  And if you just went through a contentious divorce, it can be even more difficult moving forward.  This is a pretty painful reason why God hates divorce.

Don’t let your ex get to you in a way the affects the kids.  If things start to get dicey, take a step back and try again when things aren’t so bad.

In the case of working with an abusive ex, keep everything possible in writing.  It will help when accusations fly later on.  I was fortunate to get sole custody of my kids in my divorce.  There are no overnights.  Just a few hours one weekday per week and 3-4 hours on every other Saturday.

Now that my ex knows he can’t manipulate the time and events, there is very little battle.  I realize I dodged a bullet here.  Most courts do not have such an arrangement for most divorces with children.  Coparenting can be difficult no matter how amicable the divorce was.  But it doesn’t have to be contentious!  Don’t let yourself get sucked in.

Navigating Extended Family/Friend Events After Divorce

There are times you will go to periodic events:  reunions, holidays, dinners, visits back home.  Just know that they have tons of questions and fears of their own with the new relationship status.  Before you go to any of these events, you need a plan.  You need to know ahead of time how much you want others to know.  And you will want to know ahead of time what words you plan to use to talk about issues that are within your comfort zone.  You also need to have a plan for not wanting to talk.  Have your words ready so when they ask things you are not ready or willing to share, you will not come off as rude or traumatized, but gracious and kind.

Your kids will also struggle with this!  Make sure they are aware and have some plans in place for them to engage as well.  Make sure they know that they don’t have to answer to adult relatives that think they can squeeze more info out of the kids than you.

And the best piece of advice I ever received:  have a code word for you and your kids so that when family or friend events get to be too much, you can “escape” graciously without people adding more stress to an already stressful time.

why God hates divorce

God Hates Divorce Because We Were Not Created for It

I saved the biggest reason why God hates divorce for last.  Marriage is the biggest relationship you can have on earth.  You share absolutely everything with your spouse.  You make yourself completely vulnerable.  And the two literally become one.

That cannot just be undone.  I think that was one of the most painful realizations for me once I realized that divorce was a reality.  How do I walk away from a 35-year long relationship and not look back?  We had shared the majority of our lives together.  He was my person.  I trusted him with my whole life for many years.

Changing gears all of a sudden felt impossible.  And that is because God did not make us to have to change those gears.  We were meant to spend a lifetime with our significant others.  And when we don’t, our whole body feels it.

The Hidden Blessing of Divorce

Now that I have put out all the negative vibes, believe it or not, there are actually some blessings related to divorce. Let’s think about some of those blessings.

God provided us with divorce because He saw the evil of people.  Back in the day, women did not have the independence that we see nearly worldwide today.  And men who got tired of their wives would just divorce them and send them away.  Women had very few options to support themselves and their children once divorced.  So divorcing a woman automatically destroyed their lives.

God made some guidelines for His people regarding divorce.  Israelites could not just get a divorce for irreconcilable differences (or any other non-emergency reason).  God also set in place some guidelines to protect women who were oppressed and abused by their husbands.  He gave a reprieve to those victims.  That alone is a blessing.  Here are some more to think about.

An Escape From Abuse and Hardship

The kids and I walked on eggshells for literally decades.  It was there for the entire marriage.  But we didn’t realize the severity of it.  While it was something we did for years, there were a couple of things we didn’t realize.  First, we didn’t see that it was as abnormal as it was.  While we didn’t love being in that situation, we didn’t see it as abusive as it was.  We were just always careful to stay under the rader.  Second, it got more severe as the years went on.   By the time my ex was removed from our home, it had reached a fever pitch.  For the last 5 years of the marriage, we would celebrate our independence every time he was deployed with the Navy.

In my case, my church supported our separation.  In fact, our pastor told our family and our congregation that if I had not requested assistance in separating from my ex, they would have insisted on it anyway.  I was grateful for the protection and guidance of my church.

And I am grateful that God has put in place a haven from abuse and hardship.  Because I live in America in this day and age, I would have landed on my feet.  But back in the day, women didn’t have the same freedom that my family enjoys today.

Divorce Can Provide Freedom

I never really thought about wanting freedom.  I loved the idea of having a companion for life.  And at one point, my counselor spent a whole session with me talking about the choice I needed to make between gaining freedom from abuse or being willing to live with my marriage and enjoying the benefits of having a partner during the times that abuse was not prevalent.  To be sure, not all abusers are all bad.  They have some good qualitites.  And my marriage had some good times and memories.  That was very hard to let go, especially after 30 years.  Starting over terrified me.

But in the end, once the separation became a reality, the freedom aspect hit me.  And I loved it.  I had actually said I would never remarry.  I gave my ex nearly 36 years.   The thought of wrapping my head around trusting someone else after my ex betrayed my trust so badly was mind-boggling and scary.  But when I started thinking about what independent life would look like, I actually embraced it.

Life’s Little Advantages to Freedom After Divorce

I could stay up and watch tv in bed as long as I wanted to.  I could watch whatever I wanted.  Okay, not necessarily because my boys definitely get their choice and I am definitely not a remote hog. I could decorate however I wanted to.  Luckily for my boys, I am not an overly feminine decorator!

Admittedly, these are kinda selfish, non essential freedoms.  But there are some huge freedoms that I realized pretty quickly.  Our family was no longer walking on eggshells.  I controlled the family budget.  No more damage control every month trying to undo bad decisions I had no control over.  Large purchases were my decisions.  Where to live, what car we owned, family trips—all decisions that I was happy to be making.  And I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to see these major decisions making life better!  I found it even more of a blessing when my kids would tell me how much better life was for them as well.  Maybe the best thing of all is that you get time to regain your emotional and physical health!

While all of these freedoms are awesome and I truly enjoyed them, I will tell you that loneliness still exists.  And sometimes fear creeps in.  But one day at a time, and soon you realize that you’ve got this!  It didn’t take very long into my separation/divorce to realize that we were going to be okay.

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How We Can be Supportive of Christians Going Through Divorce

It would be a very rare thing to find a church that didn’t have members who had been divorced.  But in spite of that, there is a huge lack of support for divorced members of the church.  I think because Christians consider divorce so taboo, it is easier to sweep it under the rug.

I know I already mentioned it, but Divorce Care helps to fill in that gap in such an amazing way.  There are thousands of groups in churches in 27 countries!  There were 61 groups added the month this article was written!

But having a Divorce Care support group in your church isn’t enough.  There needs to be a culture of love and support for the hurting family.  Here are some ways we can do that.

Realize That Not All People Involved Wanted the Divorce

Studies show that the majority of Christians who attend church regularly believe that divorce is wrong or sinful.  Further, while the Bible specifically states that divorce is okay in the cases of adultery or abandonment, many Christians still believe that even in those cases divorce is wrong.  That doesn’t even count attempted murder, illicit activity, or abuse.  many believe that because Jesus didn’t specifically mention those things, they are not valid reasons for divorce.

Although most Christians sincerely want to honor the Word of God, they can sometimes become overzealous in their desire to see their fellow Christians do the right thing.  Unfortunately, they do not give others the grace required to live in an imperfect would among other imperfect people.

Most people who get a divorce do not do so because they just don’t feel like being married anymore.  And most people do not tell very many people what happened that destroyed the marriage.  It is a very private and agonizing experience.  And honestly, people knowing the reaons for what happened should not be a prerequisite for gathering around a hurting friend who needs love and support as they try to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Even if You Don’t Know What to Say, Let Them Know You Are Thinking of Them and Praying for Them

Most of us don’t have any idea what to say when others are in pain.  This is especially true when we don’t know exactly what they are going through.  It seems the way we handle that in the church is with silence.  And that can make the suffering feel even more isolated and judged.

We can actually go to them and tell them that we don’t know what the circumstances are or what to say at the moment.  But we are praying for them and we are there for them.  We can also tell them we are there if they want to talk anytime.  Just remember—we are there to listen—not give our unsolicited advice.

Include Them in Church Functions

One of the hardest things for me to do once I no longer had a husband with me was to go out to social church functions.  We had been members of our church for 26 years.  And he had been an elder for about 15 of those years.  I felt like it was too awkward.  My ex had (actually still has) a very different public persona than what we saw in the home.  I didn’t think anyone would ever believe our story.  But I was wrong.

I was fortunate that many of the people close to us knew what was going on.  He didn’t hide his abuse around them.  In fact, he kind of flaunted it.  And when he started to get some pushback for it with church leaders and counselors, he started treating them just as abusively.

Because of this, the leadership stood by my side throughout the process and also made a few public announcements regarding our situation.  They didn’t do this out of disrespect for our privacy.  It was actually so they could clear things up that my ex was doing around the church.  At one point he wrote a very dishonest letter to every family in the congregation.   The pastor and elders had no choice but to address the whole church publicly.  There were several events similar to this that caused our lives to be put on display for well over a year.

Anyway, in most situations, people who are going through a divorce are very self conscious for several reasons.  And because we can not know everything, it is important to minister to those people wherever they are.  Make sure they feel welcome AND comfortable!

Why God Hates Divorce


In the case of abuse, it is important not to support the abuser at the expense of his/her family.  Trying to stay neutral for the sake of doing the right thing for everyone can actually be doing more harm to those who have been abused.  Also, we must never question someone’s claims of abuse, but most especially when the church leadership has come out and asked for support for an abused member of the church.

Invite Them to Dinner/Events

Part of making them feel welcome is going out of your way to invite them to events, even if they are well advertised and you know that they know about them.  It is important to do this because people who are going through a divorce often prefer to isolate.  It is very hard to get out and try to do normal things.  If they know there are supportive people at those events, though, they will be much more likely to come.

Include dinners with your family and other routine, “normal” things.  It will help them to feel at home and give them a sense of balance and normalcy that they probably haven’t seen in a long time.

Another thing you could do to help:  take their favorite dinner over to them on a day that you know has been rough for them.  Single parenting, new jobs, a new home, and many other things can make life significantly more difficult.  Getting dinner delivered could very well be the highlight of their week!

Don’t Make Judgments Regarding the Divorce

Every single person that has ever been married has done harm to the marriage.  We are sinners marrying sinful people.  At the end of the day, someone can be working really hard on their marriage.  They can be doing all kinds of good things.  But it may not be enough to keep the marriage alive.  And as outsiders of that marriage, there isn’t a think we can do about it, except love and support those that are hurting.

Chances are, they already feel terrible about their divorce.  We don’t make them repent any better or correct their course by handing  down judgment.  That includes judgment from a distance.  If you are talking to others about their marriage/divorce, it will almost certainly get back to them.  It absolutely got back to me.

Don’t Bring Up the Divorce

Some people will want to talk about their marriage, divorce, single parenting, and other related subjects. And some people will not.  So how do you know whether or not to talk to them about it?  There are a couple of things you can do.

First, you can let them bring it up first.  That is the most obvious way to know.  If you have questions after they brought it up, be sensitive.  Don’t ask any hard-hitting questions to start with.  If they are receptive, follow their lead to gauge their comfort level.

And if they don’t bring it up on their own?  You can always tell them that anytime you want to talk you would be happy to listen and support them.  And then make sure your words are supportive and not harsh!  If you need to, google a web page that will tell you some of the best ways to handle the right words to say at the right time.

Treat Them Like You Always Did

This may be one of the most important things you can do with a friend in the church who’s getting a divorce.  They already feel like a fish out of water.  And most are craving some sort of normalcy in a world that has turned upside down.

Invite them to do something that you always used to do with them.  Invite them to your mutual favorite restaurant.  Go to a park or shopping location that you went to together in the past.  If you all have kids, have a family day with them.  At this point, anything you can do that can help them to have a good time and forget about the current events is a successful day.  It is such a beautiful way to touch someone’s heart!


In conclusion, I would like to recommend this book. Leslie Vernick has written an amazingly healing book (The Emotionally Destructive Marriage)  about what God thinks about divorce, how he loves His children, and how He weeps for them when they are hurting.   She also explains how to gracefully get through a difficult marriage, separation, or divorce in ways that are encouraging and God-honoring.


If you are struggling and need to get any book, this is the one!  It clarifies so many things about how to handle life once you realize you are in a destructive marriage and not just a difficult one.

If you liked this article, I think you will love the following ones as well:

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible Say About Narcissism?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

Can a Narcissist Be a Christian?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist Do When You Try to Leave?

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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