When it comes to the issue of Divorce and Remarriage, God has a court. The question comes, “Who decides when there are or are not legitimate grounds for a divorce?”
There are 3 spheres that allow divorce:
• When immorality enters into a relationship —it is an allowance by God.
• When there is a non-Christian married to a Christian and the non-Christian deserts the Christian —then that is an allowance for the Christian to proceed with a divorce allowed by God…
• Removal from the fellowship of God to be excommunicated as to be under Spiritual death (1 Corinthians 5). (This is where there’s immorality, beating, or being a “striker,” being a violent person, for a person who’s not taking care of his family, etc.) It’s where the “supposed” Christian will not come under authority.
Before Divorce: A Death Must Occur
To sum it all up —a death must occur. For a woman is bound to her husband as long as the both shall live, as the Scriptures says. But when one dies, she is no longer bound. So a person can die physically —therefore, the Covenant has been broken. Or they can die Spiritually and therefore, the Covenant can be broken.
So the question is: WHO determines (the legitimate grounds), and HOW is it determined. Who decides? After discussing this whole issue of “removing people” from the fellowship in 1 Corinthians 5, it then continues in chapter 6. This is where it is explained HOW it’s to be done. (So chapter 6 is the continuation of chapter 5.)
God has set you up to judge the “whole world.” Judgment is a part of the role of the people of God. They render decisions on behalf of God Himself. Kingdom decisions are to be rendered by Kingdom People. That is because only Kingdom People obligate themselves to Kingdom rules. The Church was never intended to be a “2-hour building” that you went to for services once a week. It was intended to be an “expression of the Kingdom intentions” of the King. That’s why when Jesus prayed He said, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.“
So like it or not, judgment is a part of the role of the people of God.
A couple that decides that they want a divorce for “irreconcilable differences” (which there’s no such divorce for) needs to realize that everybody is irreconcilable to everybody else. You are very different from your mate. You’re supposed to be. God intentionally made you different. The issue is not the differences —we’re to turn them into “complements rather than conflicts.” But His point is, that you don’t go to the unrighteous, who have no Kingdom view of marriage, and don’t understand that God is the author of marriage. They’ll simply grant you (because you agree on your own terms) a no-fault divorce.
He’s not putting down judges, because you must have Civil Government. But when it comes to matters of the Kingdom, they’re to be decided within the Kingdom, and then they can be confirmed in the government.
In verse 7 (of 1 Corinthians 6), he says if you go to a Secular Law Court —you’ve already lost. You’ve lost for 2 reasons: number 1 you’ve destroyed your testimony, and number 2, God is against your process.
And so he raises the point here that the church is to act as God’s judging agency. Now this ought to solve a very important issue that many Christians are very confused about whenever you hear a person say, “Well, you’re not supposed to judge.” They are wrong! You are supposed to judge. The Bible tells us to judge. It tells us in 1 Corinthians 6 “to render a judgment in the Church.”
Christians are supposed to judge. In fact, Christians who are right related to God, are the best judges. That is because they’re going to judge predicated on a righteous standard. The righteous standard is God Himself. It is manifested in and through His word! Because Christians have access to Truth, we can render judgment.
In Matthew 7 (verse 1), people misinterpret the passage where it says “Do not judge, lest you’ll be judged.” Is that because you aren’t to judge? No, in verse 2 it says, “for in the same way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” He’s not saying, “don’t judge” but, BE CAREFUL, WHEN YOU JUDGE. Because the same judgment you use against another will be the very same judgment God uses against you. So think twice before you jump out there judgmentally. In other words, he’s saying, “judge carefully ” —not don’t judge at all!
How do you judge carefully? (Look at Matthew 7:3). Don’t judge folks who have something wrong with them “speck-sized” when you’ve got a tree-trunk hanging out of your eyeballs!
The problem today is, we have people judging other people when they’re as “messed up” as the folks they’re judging. Don’t condemn somebody else for something you’re doing and can’t get a handle on. (This can be further illustrated in John 8 with the woman who’s condemned for committing adultery.)
In the scriptures, when God established His courts, they carried authority with them. Deuteronomy 17, (starting with verse eight) shows that God’s court systems were to be taken seriously. And how powerful they were! (Numbers 5, starting with verse 12 illustrates this.) 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “these things were written for our example.“
Regulations VS Revelations
The Old Testament, you can use it —NOT for it’s REGULATIONS, but for it’s REVELATIONS. That is, the principles still applies even though the specific way of carrying it out —God may not use that anymore. And the principle is —that God wants his people to render judgment, on God’s behalf, related to any kind of litigation issues. And we’re constantly dealing with them. Do you go and sue them downtown? God’s clear —you take it to the church.
What’s the process? It’s in Matthew 18 (starting with verse 15). So the first thing you do is, you handle it personally. If your brother has hurt you (or your mate has hurt you) the very first thing that you do is try to fix it privately. YOU NEVER CARRY A PROBLEM BEYOND ITS NEED, TO BE KNOWN. What makes it a need to be known? Matthew 18:16 —if he doesn’t listen to you. He’s not open for correction. He is not repentant. But it’s a legitimate thing. He says, by then, with 2 or 3 witnesses, every fact is confirmed. Two or 3 witnesses would mean that there would be a legality attached to the process now. It became official… it had witnesses.
So you take 2 or 3 witnesses to confirm that you tried and they won’t —that you are trying to fix this marriage, but they won’t. This is so that it’s not your word against their word, that you can VALIDATE that there is a sin and that that mate is not willing to correct it.
What happens then? In Matthew 18:17 it says, “tell it to the church.” Why do you tell it to the church? Because that’s the extended family —that’s the environment where God’s decisions are rendered.
“And if he will not listen to the church, LET HIM BE TO YOU, AS A GENTILE and TAX-GATHERER.” In other words, HE IS TO BE VIEWED AS SPIRITUALLY DEAD! He is rendered a gentile, or a tax collector. Not only were tax collectors sinners… they were also ostracized because of their occupation. Jews didn’t have fellowship with tax collectors. In other words, they are spiritually dead. They, may be a Christian… but you can now relate to them… as though they are spiritually dead.
Rendering Heavenly Decisions Concerning Divorce
Why? Verse 18. God gives the church the ability to act as His earthly court, rendering His heavenly decisions. “Whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven, whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven.” The church’s job is to bind and loose. That simply means to “exercise authority on behalf of God.” AND IF YOU WANT TO BE BLESSED, THAT’S THE COURT YOU GO TO.
In verse 19, He says whenever you gather together to render decisions, “I’ll be in the midst of you.“ “When you gather together to make judgments using My word, applying them to the situations of life —that’s when the rubber meets the road.” The church is God’s extended family court. And just like you don’t want your children taking your family business out to the street, God doesn’t want His children carrying out kingdom business in the street to people who don’t have a Kingdom mentality.
Subject to God
But here’s why people don’t want to come to the church. They don’t want to come to the church because they don’t want to subject themselves to God. They want to go to somebody who will agree with them. Also, they don’t want to be rendered a “righteous decision,” they only want to be rendered THEIR decision.
So, how does this relate to marriage and divorce? 1 Corinthians 7:39. As long as the mate is alive… either physically or covenantally… then you are bound to that person. And the most you can do (1 Corinthians 7:10), is separate and remain unmarried or be reconciled. You don’t have grounds for a divorce as long as they’re alive.
If they are dead, they must be dead by God’s coroner. And God’s coroner is the church. Once they’re declared dead, then a declaration of death is always a freedom to remarry —because a woman is only bound to her husband, as long as he lives. So once he either dies, or is declared to be such (as a tax gatherer or a sinner) or as 1 Corinthians 5:5 says, “put him in the realm of Satan.” At that point, the party is free to remarry. Why? It’s because God has canceled out the previous marriage.
God hates divorce.
He never demands divorce. God only permits it. But He does allow it, when death occurs in order to preserve and protect the innocent.
There are 3 options the Christian has (and by the way, the reason God says to be married “only in the Lord” is because GOD DOESN’T WANT IT TO BE HEAVEN and HELL EXPERIENCE TO BE MARRIED, if they can help it), a person whose mate commits covenantal death has 3 choices:
• To restore them to the relationship based on restitution.
In fact, that always ought to be the 1st option, to see if we can fix what got broke. What if your mate does something that causes covenantal death, but they’re sincerely repentant? And how do you know they’re sincerely repentant? The Bible says “let them bring forth fruits of repentance.” There must be a demonstration or restitution that pays back the offended party, that lets them know they’re serious in their heart about what they just verbalized with their mouth as demonstrated by their actions.
They must be restored based on “their fruits of repentance.” And if they’re sincerely repentant, then the goal should be, if at all possible, to seek to restore them. (That’s the reason why God accepted the marriage of David to Bathsheba. God took restitution out on David. He lost four of his sons as David had declared that the man who did this crime should be punished four-fold. So he lost four of his sons as payment back to God. He set him free to marry only after he had received restitution.) So if you’ve offended your mate, you need to pay them back.
• To divorce
When your mate has become covenantally dead, that is, to have them declared so by the church, which frees you up. (This was the option Joseph was going to take with Mary. He decided to put her away privately, when he thought the mother of Jesus had been immoral.)
• You can choose to live continually with your covenantally dead spouse.
This applies even though they’ve committed an act and even though they’re unrepentant for their sin. (1 Corinthian 7:13-15) Here he sets the scenario, that the covenantally dead person or the unbeliever (he’s either an unbeliever, or he’s functioning as an unbeliever), wants to stay in the marriage relationship. If he’s willing to function, as her husband, and she’s willing to function as his wife —He says don’t leave.
You need to LOOK AT IT AS AN EVANGELISTIC OPPORTUNITY. He’s not saying you’re staying there and he’s beating on you. He’s not saying you’re staying there, and he won’t work. What He’s talking about is his willingness to stay there under the covenant of the family. Even if you have grounds (for divorce), if they’re willing to function properly, even though they’re not spiritually on track, then you “sanctify them.” If you love them and care about them, but they’re not on track, you may want to stay, pray, and watch God work through you to bring about a change —to bring that person back.
What do you do if you’re already coventally dead? GOOD NEWS —God has the ability to raise people from the dead!
This article was gleaned from an audio tape titled “Divorce Court” from the ministry of Dr Tony Evans. This was just a portion of what he had to say from a message he gave, based on 1 Corinthians 6:1-6. There are several excellent illustrations that aren’t written in the contents of this text. Please consider contacting the ministry of Urban Alternative through the web site at Tonyevans.org to possibly obtain this and other helpful information pertaining to marriage, divorce, re-marriage and other important topics.
— ALSO, Concerning Christians and Divorce —
Gary Thomas addresses this issue of Christians and divorce. We encourage you to read:
• DOES GOD EVER APPROVE OF DIVORCE?
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Separation and Divorce
53 responses to “Christians in Divorce Court”
(USA) I have a question. I want a divorce from my husband. We got married at a court house and its been like almost 7 years. I found out that I was never in love with him. I moved in with him cuz I just didn’t want to be with my parents. I got married when I was 16 years and now I’m in love with sombody else because he has treated me bad and has not shown me love. Like I say I’m in love with another person and next 3 weeks I’m getting a divorce from him and I’m planning to get married again. I have never been educated about church or God and like they say a divorce is bad. But I didn’t know. But I don’t love my husband. I love someone else and I want to be with him. He loves me.
I’m not sure what the question is. You seem determined to dump your husband and go with this guy.
(USA) Really, it’s not in that way. I just really love this person. He makes me happy… but not my husband. I just can’t be with someone who I don’t love… But my question is that I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing because when I was with my husband he didn’t treat me right, in the way that he should.
Moika, I hope I can help you sort this out in some way. I can’t help thinking that God is tugging at your heart in some way, otherwise, you wouldn’t be seeking an answer to your question about divorce on this web site –even though you aren’t “educated about church and about God.” So given that fact, I’m going to separate the issues raised in your question, because there are many complexities raised here –not just one.
First, if you go to the bottom right of the Home Page of this web site, you will see a blue box, which says, “Seeking Direction” Purpose, Hope? Find it Now!” If you click onto that box, it will take you on a spiritual journey, which could help you obtain a lot of answers to some of the questions you have buried within. This is not about church, per se, but about finding out about having a relationship with the living God, who can guide you on a lot of this. Living in community in a church family is a separate issue. You can think about that once you are better acquainted with who God really is for you. Also, you can even eventually talk to a real person in the NeedHim.org link (which that blue box takes you to). There won’t be any obligation in any way, just someone who cares and is available to answer questions.
Secondly, I don’t know anything about your family life, before marrying. And I really don’t need to know. But whether it was completely dysfunctional, or it was a combination of you and your family life in your home being dysfunctional, or you interacted within it in dysfunctional ways –whatever it was, you felt compelled to use marrying your husband as a way of escape. You may not have thought of it that way at that time, but you used him. And whenever we use marrying someone as a way of escape, there is a price to pay on the other side of it. That’s just what happens in life. But even so, out of a messy situation, we can still grow up and start handling everything in a healthier way in the future.
Also, I don’t know your husband and whether he is a dysfunctional person or is acting like one (because he isn’t “educated” differently) or what is going on. Again, I don’t need to. But I know that by your cheating with someone else and “falling in love” with someone else when you are married, is not right –whether your husband treats you right or not. You don’t deal with bad behavior with bad behavior. You don’t escape a bad home life by jumping into a marriage, and you don’t escape that marriage, by jumping into a relationship with someone else. And you certainly don’t “fall in love” with someone else when you are married, no matter what this other man is or isn’t like, and how he treats you. You are still married, and marriage isn’t something you hop in and out of and cheat along the way. Otherwise, what good is your word (when you make your vow to someone) and what does this type of behavior do to improve our society? You have a lot of issues to figure out.
Also, a man who will cheat with you is someone who can cheat on you. You may think your “love” is so unique, but trust me on this, the divorce courts have been filled to overflowing with those who thought the same. If you marry a cheater, you get what you married. Where cheating is the foundation of a marriage, there is trouble. There are questionable basic character issues going on here. I’ve seen over and over again where those who start a life together by cheating, get cheated in other ways throughout their marriage. You don’t start a GOOD marriage out by cheating. It’s important for you to stop cheating and not to be with someone who is a cheater, as well.
Moika, you don’t have to remain “uneducated” and continue on the destructive path you are running down right now. Learn more about the true God –the One who loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you –One that is filled with Truth and Love and Grace, and gives that to you, as well. Pursue Him, as He is pursuing you.
And then learn from Him. Go into the Bible (in a learning way), which will teach you many of the life principles you are lacking right now. I don’t know if your marriage will make it. But learn what you can about being a healthy marriage partner. Whether your husband will eventually see the difference and react in a positive way, I don’t know. It worked in my marriage, where I took my eyes off of what my husband was or wasn’t and worked on myself. And strangely, my husband noticed it and it inspired him to learn how to be a better husband. We now have a GREAT marriage. Whether that will happen in your marriage, you will never know if you hop from one marriage into the next. We know of quite a few people who have done this only to later GREATLY regret it. …Just something to think about.
I’m hoping you will make wiser decisions in the future than you did before. I’ve made some pretty bad decisions in the past, so I’m sure not judging you. You need to know though, that it isn’t just what you live through that’s important, but what you learn through. I hope you live, learn –for your own sake, but that eventually you’ll pass healthy relationship living onto others, as well. I pray the best for you and hope that someday you will see this as a turning point in your life for the better.
My sister, take it slow. Don’t rush into moving in with this other guy. You may think you’re in love with him but it’s something new; that’s why you feel like you’re in love. Don’t get married right away because you’re going to go down the same road. If he loves you, he as well will want to take it slow. Also you were 16 when you got married, that’s way too young to make commitment as such. You may still be too young to get married. Take your time my sister. God bless.
(UNITED STATES) My husband comitted adultery with at least two women. He cannot face this situation. He is supposed to love the Lord but his actions prevent me from believing this. I am seeking a divorce. I see no way that I will forgive him once the trust is gone and God does not want that. He will or cannot face me to discuss this. What should I do?
Mellie, I’m not sure what you’re asking here. Are you thinking he is going to submit himself to coming clean and face the music even though you say that you are divorcing him? I’m not thinking he will. That would take integrity and forthrightness. Being a serial cheater, he has not shown that he has that strength of character in him. It may be that you are expecting more from him than, sadly, he will ever give you.
As far as forgiving him, I highly encourage you to read through the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic –at least the Quotes part of it. Forgiving someone and trusting them are two different things, just as forgiving them and giving them the opportunity to do the same thing to you again are two different things. One you give because God told you to do what He has done for you, and the others are optional, depending upon a lot of variables. You don’t have to trust again or give him the opportunity to cheat on you again, but you do need to take the journey to forgive so that YOU will not be imprisoned by bitterness. I hope the best for you that you are able to get to a place where you find more peace in your life, even if your husband never faces you to give you the closure you need over these matters.
(UNITED STATES) Removal from the fellowship of God to be excommunicated as to be under Spiritual death (1 Corinthians 5) (where there’s immorality, beating, or being a “striker,” being a violent person, for a person who’s not taking care of his family, etc.) It’s where the “supposed” Christian will not come under authority.
Sorry to let you know this has nothing to do with your husband or wife because when you’re married to an unbeliever they’re spiritually dead. Please, next time be careful and read the context of the passage, not just one or two verses, cause even God says we are not to leave our husbands or wives that are not believers, only if they leave you.
(USA) My wife says that she has not loved me since the beginning of our marriage, we have been married for eight years. I understand now that the LORD needs to be the center of your marriage, but she does not want to hear about that. She says that she does not trust me after I kissed a young lady in the second year of our marriage. I did not have sex, because of all the diseases that are out there.
She left and took my boys and says she does not feel loved anymore and she feels neglected. I understand that I have to be the spiritual leader of the home and love my wife as Christ loves the Church, but she does not want to hear that. She asks for money each time and I am at the point I do not know what to do. I LOVE my wife and my kids, but she says there’s no hope for us and she just wants a divorce. I am just looking for the LORD for answers and standing still, but I do not know how long I can keep this up, because I know what I should do now as a Christian husband and Christian Father, but she does not want to have anything to do with me.
I have been married for 3 years to an emotionally abusive husband and his interfering mother who is the master controller. I was not allowed to go to church, not allowed to have devotions. I got out. My grandpa says divorce is not the answer, nor separation. I got my most important relationship back with God. My husband will not change. So is he dead? I can remain married but I will lose my God again and be separated from him if I stay in this marriage. Grandpa thinks it’s okay. I cannot ever lose my God again. Is it okay to divorce and what do you tell a strong Christian man in his 90’s?
Please pray that my husband and I don’t get a divorce. Our court date is on my birthday 3/26, and I am praying that GOD touch him in a mighty way. He has no grounds for divorce. I didn’t cheat, fight or do anything ungodly. I just speak my mind. I love my husband and I need for God to fix it. We are both believers.
I am separated and my husband left the family after an emergency. A protective order was in place. He left his ring and his attorney made it clear he was filing for divorce. This was a shock to me, I realized I had to protect myself and daughter and so I got an attorney. He tends to punish those he is angry with and he blames me for his actions. He cut off all money until the court forced him to support me and our daughter.
I happened to have my paperwork in order first and so I actually filed for divorce first. I, however, do not wish to divorce him. I still wear my ring but do feel unsure of all of this. I am thankful that God is in control and loves me and I know he is still working even in all of this. We are six months into the seperation and his heart is still very hard. I pray that God makes a way. I also know that even if it goes through he shall protect me.
My question, is it right to continue to wear my ring even though it makes my husband and family members believe I just am not letting him go, and that I need to get over the fact that he is not going to work on the marriage?
What do you think God would have you do… listen to the reasonings of others, or doing what you feel in your heart God is telling you to do? I can’t tell you what to do. I do know however, I’d rather seek God in all of this, than pay as much attention to what others think I should do in this. The wedding ring is a symbol for what is going on in your heart. What did you promise in your wedding ceremony? What do you believe God would have you do? How do you believe God would have you live, despite the circumstances handed to you by your husband? THAT is what you should do.
I pray that God gives you the wisdom you need, and the strength to live as God would have you, as you seek HIS heart and HIS ways.
Thank you and mostly THANK GOD for using you.
Thank you Susan, may God bless you as you lean into Him for guidance in this very difficult area of life!
My wife and I have been married going on 2 years. For the past two months we have been separated. My wife is no longer happy with me and states that her love for me is slowly dissipating. Since we married my communication has shut down; she feels alone and unloved. On numerous occasions I’ve treated her in a unloving manner and now she is whole heartedly done with me.
I love my wife and this has truly been an eye opener for me. God has placed a spirit of reconciliation on my heart but she is no longer willing to fight for our marriage. We are a young Christian couple but before we got married we agreed that divorce was not a option but now we’re here. I don’t know what to do, I’ve tried on countless of times to restore our marriage. I pray day and night and have been seeking the Lords face. Please help.
Sorry to tell you this my brother but your wife is ready to move on from you. You stated that you have treated her bad in the past, she’s fed up. Plus I can almost guarantee you that she is being treated with the love you wasn’t giving her from someone else. You said you tried plenty of time to fix it, it’s totaled and she is ready for something new. I wish you the best of luck but I don’t think luck is going to help you at this point.
Please give me advice before it’s too late. My Christian daughter cheated on her Christian husband; she has been waiting on God to bring him back, but he has decided to divorce her, and he says it will be final at the end of the month. What I would like to know is, should I contact his church pastor, or his family? I worry that he may only be hearing that he has a Christian reason to divorce her. She wanted to go to counseling, but he wouldn’t. I have reached out to him with scriptures about restoration and such, he finally told me, I’m not going back to her, and asked me and my husband to respect that and stop trying to communicate with him. I’m devastated for my daughter and him. I love them both and I just don’t know if there’s something I could say, since he cut me off. His whole family are Christians, and I know they’re church, please some advice, crying, sincerly Janet
Sorry to hear about your situation. I can say this to you and your daughter, most men, Christian or not, if a women cheats on him it is over. Also you said that his family is Christian. His family probably agrees on him leaving because she broke the covenant of God, not him. Christians aren’t perfect people but your daughter broke a cardinal rule. He will not trust her again and that is why he not trying to come back.
Please pray for my beloved children, my ex husband, and myself, we must go to court again in November for child visitation again. To be honest, I am afraid, please lift up the judge and the lawyers, that what is God’s good and perfect will be done. I didn’t want this divorce, I keep praying for God’s will to be done in all our lives; for reconciliation, and for wisdom and peace. My children need a father, I would like for our marriage to be healed, that God would breathe life into our family or that He would give us the wisdom and peace to leave this alone and just walk with Him.
My heart truly breaks for families broken by divorce, none of those I know in my divorce care class wanted this, neither the spouses nor the children. Trust me, divorce doesn’t solve the issues, it compounds them. I understand that we believe we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yet at what cost? I am not trying to shame those who had to flee for their lives or have suffered great abuses, or those whose spouses as abandoned you and your children, I know your grief and pain. I know there will be various trials and tribulations, it’s just so much more difficult weathering these storms when part of your family is no longer part of the solution set, but now a part of the problems you and your children are facing. May God help and bless us all. Julie
My husband wants a divorce because he said that I don’t complete him. He said I haven’t helped him for twelve years of our marriage and he doesn’t like my personality too. We have 2 kids together. I just recently moved in with his parents so the kids could be near him and so I can save money and get a full time job, because he cannot afford full child support due to the fact he is struggling. He wants joint legal custody and uncontested divorce. He is very bothered when I mentioned child support, though he loves his kids. He wants me to be in agreement with the amount of child support he can give. I feel like I won’t make it if he decides to give what he can. I also don’t want to hurt him☹️️. His family supports him and I feel alone. I left my job and family from NY to move with his parents in Florida. I pray that I made the right choice. I hate the courts and I want to do the right thing. I know I was not perfect and I learned a lot of life skills with my husband. I never cheated on him, we are just so different. I cannot force him to be with me. I just have a lot on my mind. Lord, please give me me wisdom and peace!!
I will pray for you my sister,but let me say this. A lot of men say a woman doesn’t complete them because they don’t want to tell their wife or partner they don’t satisfy them in the bed. I don’t know if that’s what he meant but I’m almost positive it may have something to do with it. He doesn’t like your personality? There’s someone else catching his interest. I’m a Christian man and if I feel like my wife isn’t satisfying me in the bedroom; it can make a man look elsewhere Christian or not. Good luck and stay prayed up.
Claribel, I will pray for you and your marriage: Oh Father, I lift up Claribel and her husband to You. You are the Creator of all, the Creator of male and female, the Creator of marriage. You are the Designer of each of us, You have known us from before our birth, and You have plans for each of our lives. You are infinitely Holy and loving and powerful … May we all bow before You in our lives. Intervene in a powerful way to stop any additional movement towards a divorce in Claribel’s marriage. Do whatever You need to do to bring each of their plans to a standstill. For You are the God of marriage and Your Heart is to restore and heal each and every marriage … including Claribel’s marriage. Show her that fact in a very real way and help her to own and treasure that truth deep in her heart. Do the same for her husband … Cause him to come face-to-face with You in a way that he sees Your love for him and sees that You have a plan for his life. Cause both Claribel and her husband to be still where they each are and pray… and speak to them with Your truth and love. Give them a glimpse of Your plan for healing and restoration … enough that they each can see the next steps to take to begin working on their marriage again. Bring the issues between them out into the full light and give them each kind words and gentle hearts as they talk them through. Cause each of them to remember the better times in their marriage relationship and give them a hope that their future together will be ever better than their past. I bring these requests to You and lay them humbly before Your Throne in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Amen!
I need some advice. I had to leave my husband of 18 years on the advice of Social Services, because he was abusive to me and the kids. I have waited a year for some signs that he loves me enough to consider the need to get help for his behaviour, without any evidence.
I still love him, but I dare not open my heart as there are some signs that he is trying to gradually get back control. I have to have some contact for the arrangement of visits, which social services put in place, surprisingly. I am being advised that divorce is the next step. But today in church I felt clearly reminded that we should not go to court.
My church has been quite understanding of my situation, but I am not sure that his church understands the issues of abuse, as they don’t recognize women in ministry, etc. Can you bring some clarity, please?
Judith, I’ve been praying about how to respond to your plea for advice. First off, please know that there is no human advisor that can ever give perfect “advice.” Whenever you are given any advice, you need to pray about it, glean through the advice given, holding it up to scripture and use that, which you believe God would have you. No matter how any person has “advised” you, please don’t do it because they said you should. Again, pray, glean, and take what they said as a suggestion–not as something you have to do because they said so. And that goes with what I would say here.
From what you have written it appears that you have been wise in getting yourself and your children into a safer place. Your husband is supposed to protect you and the children. He has abandoned that responsibility and has instead caused you harm. You are probably wise in not opening your heart unless he gives you a good reason, with actions that go along with what he says. Guard your heart. And then don’t be too hasty in trusting him. He needs to get help and he needs to show you that he is a changed man over a LONG period of time.
You don’t say what type of abuse he has inflicted upon you. And actually, you don’t need to. Just make sure that you keep protecting yourself and those kids. If he won’t be their hero in being a safe, protective parent, you need to do that alone to continue being that for them. Don’t take on the guilt trips that some people can push off on you. Do what you need to do–realizing that they don’t walk in your shoes so it’s easy for them to judge you or tell you what your “next step” should be, such as divorce. That is something that you and God need to talk through and decide.
I’ve seen some spouses live in a separated position for years and years. They decided that it would add to the trauma if they divorced their offending spouse. Even though the kids hate what the other parent does to hurt them and their parent, they can’t handle the divorce situation. You need to decide if that may be the case in your kids lives.
I say all of this to encourage you to pray about divorce. Just because you’re separated, don’t feel the pressure to divorce. You and God can decide on this together, no matter what people say. We live in a divorce-prone society. There are a lot of divorce pushers out there that will tell you that you should do this, and that “the next step” is to divorce. Don’t listen to them. Pray, and assess your children–what would be best for them. And don’t feel pressured to hurry. Just take the time you need–even if it is years and years. If you feel God is telling you not to go to court right now, don’t do it. Just wait and see what the future brings.
As far as the fact that as Christians we should not go to court against each other… this is referring to trivial lawsuits. As you read about it in the Bible the context is that Christians were suing each other and were taking each other to court for all kinds of things that could have been settled outside of it. They were quick to take their neighbor to court (just like people are doing today). Just be aware of being hasty about this type of difficult decision. Don’t do as the world does. Be careful, prayerful, and don’t be pressured into anything (unless things get dangerous and it is because you are protecting you and your children).
I strongly encourage you to go through the “Abuse in Marriage” topic. Read all that you can to glean through and gather up the info you need to protect you and your children. Be careful of allowing your husband to get back control. That is usually the first step in abuse issues. They try to control you and isolate you from those who can run interference on their abusive ways. You can read about this in that Abuse in Marriage topic. Again, with all of this, pray, read, glean, and use what will help you. Don’t worry about your husband’s church–whether they understand the issues of abuse. As you will read, there are a lot of churches that close their eyes to abuse. It should never be! But you need to put your energies into taking care of you and your children and not worrying about what others think about it.
And one last thing… find ways to infuse humor into your family life. I know this may seem like weird advice. But the Bible tells us that laughter is good medicine; and it is! So look for ways to laugh together. It’s easy to get caught up in an abusive mindset and forget to laugh. And that’s understandable! You’ve been through a lot of horrible things together. But part of taking care of yourself and your family is to lean into the healing that laughter can bring. Try to find ways to have fun together.
Pray and read the tough stuff to be as wise as you can to walk each day in safety. But also find ways to laugh together so your life isn’t so serious all the time that you and the kids don’t get to have a chance to enjoy your everyday life. You will be giving your family and yourself a great gift. God has a great sense of humor. Just look around at the weird animals that He created. Many of them make us laugh! Look for and embrace the joy of the Lord. I hope you will.
Please know Judith, that my prayers are with you and your kids, and your husband too. He needs to get a clue that he is not doing what is right. It is wrong. Abuse is always wrong. God can make that very clear to him. Lean upon God as your protective husband. I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, comforts you, speaks to you, and works in and through you in this situation. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 15:13) “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Colossians 1:11)
I have a question concerning my obligation to my spouse who is divorcing me after 37 years of marriage. She is divorcing me because she no longer feels emotionally safe with me. I have tried to get her to join me in couple therapy, but she will not participate because she feels emotionally unsafe. She says that the only place of emotional safety at this point is in divorce. I realize that she may have suffered a relationship trauma that must be resolved before she will ever feel emotionally safe with me again, but I cannot get her to engage in therapy to get at the issue and allow me to seek repair.
We will have our divorce settlement meeting next week. While I am feeling intense grief and abandonment from her actions, I feel that my covenant obligation remains to love her as Christ loves the church.
What is my obligation in this divorce? Does God expect me to agree to support her in every way that she feels the need? She would like me to pay half of her attorney fees (her attorney is asking for all of the fees). She would like me allow her to keep 70% of her IRA. The law requires that we split it 50/50. She would like me to provide ongoing support of $10,000 a year for the rest of my life. I am currently 59 years old and all of our children are grown. The point here is not what she is asking, it is how do I meet my Christian commitment to her?
Do I have an obligation to see our covenant as continuing even though she is moving on? If so, how do I properly show my love regarding demands for financial support? Her abandonment feels so hurtful, but I know she is hurting too. We will both end up in financial distress.
Matt, we can’t tell you what to do. You need to pray about that and come to your own conclusion with God’s guidance. But it appears that your wife’s requests are more than a bit over the top. There is a difference between “going the extra mile” in helping your spouse and others vs. helping to make it more comfortable for a spouse to divorce the other. The divorce situation brings different issues into the situation. The 70%, and especially paying ANY of her attorney fees, seems way too much. If she wants to divorce, especially without going to couple therapy and TRYING to reconcile the marriage (which would be against the vow she took), then she should foot the bill for this decision. This is her decision–not yours. Your footing her bill will only make it easier for her to divorce you.
I’m not suggesting here that you be contentious–not at all. That would not be what God would have you do (in my humble opinion). And that certainly wouldn’t invite her to want to “try” to reconcile with you now or in the future. That wouldn’t make you any more emotionally safe, than she considers you at this point. But I’m thinking that you might not want to make it easier and more comfortable for her financially to leave your marriage and set up her own life apart from you. That has nothing to do with being “emotionally safe.” That would be enabling behavior on your part that has to do with her being more financially comfortable to leave you without much financial hesitation.
Even if she divorces you, I would HIGHLY recommend that you go to a counselor on your own part–a good Christian one that could help you to work on your issues. This could help you and any future relationship you could have. She needs to know that you are not just doing this to get back into the marriage. Instead, this is to help you to become a better man for the rest of your life–more godly, loving, reasonable, and someone who is emotionally safe to be with–even if she never reconciles with you again in the future. (FYI: we HAVE seen divorced couples get back together years in the future.) Do this for her; do this for you; do this because it’s the right thing to do. It’s sad that you didn’t do this earlier in your marriage, but it’s better to do it later, than never.
Again, we can’t tell you what to do. If God impresses you to meet her financial demands… then do it. But if not, then pray about what else He would have you do so you go the extra mile in being an emotionally safe person for her without making it easier for her to divorce you. I pray for you and I pray for your wife, and for your grown children. This has got to be hard for them too. As you pray about all of this: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)