God is never the one to leave. He is the one who is abandoned. Even when Scripture describes Him as turning His face away, we understand that this is, in fact, God’s reluctant and painful recognition of man’s decision to go beyond the point of no return in his relationship with Him.
God does not grow tired of loving. His love cannot be hijacked, or so disappointed as to be extinguished, cannot be hurt into indifference; or worse, hatred, and contempt. On the contrary, His love is found beyond the boundaries of reciprocity, in the realm of grace. It manifests itself in excess, it offers itself again and again, motivated by its very nature.
The uniqueness of the Christian God lies in His way of distancing himself from the typical image of the ancient gods: capricious, inflexible, despotic, hard to please, completely disinterested in the fate of mortals. In a comforting contrast to the soul, the God of the Bible is troubled—above all else—by the fate of His created beings. His persevering and inspiring love is the silver lining of the Bible, and the key to interpreting biblical passages related to marriage and divorce.
Far from placing us within the range of an imaginary god’s intransigence, the divine plan for marriage does not include divorce for the simple reason that it belongs to the realm of sin, the virus that has defiled the perfect world God created. Even though, in the wisdom of providence, God tolerates it as His grace seeks our restoration, nothing that is in divorce can be associated with God. God has a natural repulsion for divorce, as He has for sin. He will never, under any circumstances, be able to integrate either into His plan, regardless of the form they might take and the reasons they might stem from, because they are foreign to His nature and harmful by design. God’s purpose is to remove from the universe any entity that is foreign to the nature of His love.
People often make choices ruled by fear, under the influence of the belief that what is seen is the whole reality, or confident that they have completely understood the situation and there is no other option. The Bible is a constant call from God to accept that we do not need to fear if we sit in His hand, that it is worthwhile and in fact necessary to always seek to see reality through His eyes, to walk by faith and in harmony with His will.
The experience of marriage is perhaps the most intimate illustration of the experience of salvation. No one can be saved without faith. Equally, no marriage can be saved without faith. The grace that saves us from spiritual and physical death has the power to prevent the death of love—or bring it back to life.
Norel Iacob is the editor-in-chief of Signs of the Times and ST Network.