When was the last time you looked at this verse? It’s used all the time, in the Message and in evangelical culture, to justify opposition to no-fault divorce and the rising trend of multiple marriages. “God hates divorce” is the mantra of many Christian conservatives. But have you ever thought about what this verse actually means?
How did a verse that so obviously tells men to be kind to their wives and not to leave them destitute become a verse that tells women they have no right to leave an abusive marriage? (Isn’t promising to love, protect and provide for someone and then throwing them out on the curb the very definition of “dealing treacherously”? Divorced women were in dire straits in that era.) Branham taught that men could divorce women for adultery, but women could never divorce their husbands, under any circumstances. Branham taught that wives could win their husbands to Christ and change them from abusers to saints by living the example of the Holy Spirit before them. That is not what this verse is about. This verse, if anything, looks like it’s about God caring for the afflictions of spurned women and commanding men to treat their wives better.
The “stay until he changes” dogma is a fiction created by cobbling together piles of fractured Scriptures into a Frankenstein that bears no resemblance to the words above. God hates divorce, indeed, but not because it ends a marriage. He hates it because it hurts women.
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Sierra is a PhD student living in the Midwest. She was raised in a “Message of the Hour” congregation that followed the ministry of William Branham. She left the Message in 2006 and is the author of the blog The Unspoken Words: A Non-Prophet Message.
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce