She had read all the books, seen the counselor, been to the retreats and tried her best.
Yes, she had prayed. Yes, she had cried. Yes.
He still drank, womanized, was financially irresponsible, or whatever, but she felt scared and unloved and hurt.
What most men fail to realize is that most women want to leave to escape the pain. She does not want to leave because she doesn’t love him. She does not want to leave because she doesn’t like him.
She wants to stop hurting – either at his hand, or from his words, or by his lack of responsible adult behavior – it hurts her. And she’s hurt for too long. She does not think she can go on any longer.
So can she leave?
Ultimately, the bottom-line is that we have free choice and literally can do whatever we want to do.
Whether we divorce or not, however, often comes down to one relationship – the one we have with God.
1 John 2:3-5 (NIV) tells us: We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
John 14:15 (NIV) Jesus says: If you love me, you will obey what I command.
In other words, if we know Him, if we love Him, we do what He says. So what does the Bible say about marriage and divorce?
Matthew 5:32 (NIV) (Jesus speaking): But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 19:3-9 (NIV) Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
And if we DO divorce?
1 Corinthians 7:10-12 (NIV) To the rest I say this (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
But I married an unbeliever…
1 Corinthians 7:13-15 (ESV) And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.
And if I’m widowed?
Romans 7:2 (ESV) For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.
What does God think about divorce?
Malachi 2:16 (NIV) “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.
God views marriage as a covenant, a vow, between Him and his people. There are a ton of reasons to not divorce, and it seems that if our unbelieving husband leaves us, we are freed from responsibility, or if our unbelieving husband is unwilling to live with us (which some say is represented by abuse or negligent behavior – and others say it is not), then we are allowed to divorce. We are also allowed to divorce if our husband commits adultery, which can also include pornography addiction, according to Christ. Remember, however, that Christ said it is the hardness of our hearts for which these things were allowed. It is God’s heart for us to not break the vow with Him, however, unless we want to come under condemnation. He has made an alotment because of adultery and our husband’s unbelief. Know that doesn’t make it easy, however, even if we do divorce.
For a more detailed discussion, please read Family Life Ministry’s Dennis Rainey article. Pay attention to the description one woman gives of her divorce – I don’t know anyone who has divorced who hasn’t said similar things (or their kids have)…
Know also, that even though it says you shouldn’t leave in 1 Corinthians 7:11, if you do, it is for the purpose of restoration.
Also, remember God’s purposes for our lives in 1 Corinthians 7:16 (ESV) How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
You may be the only Jesus your husband ever sees.
And this life will be filled with troubles – the goal is not happiness, but joy in the midst of difficulty. And, boy, this is super hard, especially when you are in a painful marriage.
And if you ARE considering divorce, please consider Matthew 18 first. And please be in tight communion with God – so you do what is right in His eyes and have His strength to get through it.
Love to you,
What about you? Have I missed anything? How does this issue impact you right now?