How Should God's Willingness to Divorce In Jeremiah 3:8 Affect Our View of Divorce?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

How should God's willingness to divorce in Jeremiah 3:8 affect our view of divorce?

Well, we referred to that in an earlier question.

I don't think God ever did divorce. The language of divorce in Jeremiah, I think, is used precisely to take it back. In other words, when he writes his wayward wife a "bill of divorcement" and sends her away into exile, he goes to get her.

So I don't think God ever divorced his people.

There was a legal separation of seventy years, during which he punished his people. But the language of cutting off or ending the relationship was used only to take it back again and say, "I'll never let you go." This happens most clearly in Hosea, where the language is, "I'm done with you," and then in chapter 11, "My heart grows warm. How can I let you go, O Ephraim?"

So I think it should affect our view of divorce by saying that God never divorces and we shouldn't either, if we can help it.

Not all Christians can stop a divorce from happening. I'm not going to lay that on every Christian. I'm dealing with a guy right now in our church—I spent an hour with him yesterday—and his wife is on him so hard for a divorce, and he doesn't want one. And he's wondering what to do. And it may go that way, you know?

You can refuse to sign the papers, and then it will take 18 months instead of 3 weeks to get it done. But you can't stop divorce from happening in our culture if somebody wants it to happen bad enough.

So when I say, "Don't do it," I don't mean that it won't happen to you.

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

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