This is the final week in the Biblical Divorce series. The reason for tackling this rather uncomfortable topic is that there has been too much so-called biblical scholarship used to beat up wives on this and other topics over the ages. I believe this is done completely contrary to God’s will, His nature, and even contrary to good biblical scholarship.
Let me say again that not all theologians take a rigid (sex with another woman) view of divorce. Not that any of them are "pro-divorce." Why would anyone be? Whenever there’s a chance for healing, that should be pursued first. Divorce is terrible and tragic.
But even more tragic is losing our faith in the God who calls us Beloved and who says we will some day be his bride. Losing our faith can happen when we are berated and threatened by representatives of the church for leaving a poisonous, or dangerous, marriage (for women’s stories on this see the Spiritual Crisis series). It can also occur when we stay in a poisonous/dangerous marriage with an unrepentant partner because “that’s what Christians have to do.” (See Wife of SA Finds... for more on this.)
However, after everyone’s given their opinion on the matter… at the end of the day, we make the decision as to what we’ll believe... and do.
So many of us want others to make our hard decisions for us. When we put them in that place, they’ll almost always look for some kind of rigid rule about the situation. But what scripture can they turn to? What verse is going to tell us how to discern when:
- Our partner is truly unrepentant
- There is absolutely no hope left
- Our souls (and our children’s souls) are in danger if we don’t get out
There are none. This isn’t covered under the “general revelation to the Body of Christ,” i.e. scripture. This requires a specific revelation to me… and you.
In other cases, we’ll look to someone for an answer and they’ll claim to have "a word" for us. One good friend had one member of her congregation give her a word that she was to stay in the relationship. Another: gave her the word that she was to go.
We each need to have the kind of living, active, abiding relationship with Christ that enables us to sense His leading for us in OUR OWN situations. It’s best not to wait to initiate such a relationship until there’s a big question that needs answering. That’s the hardest time to hear.
That said, I realize that “last minute” is sometimes unavoidable. When this is the case, let's assume that the best time to start interacting with God is today.
What Does God Want Me to Do?
There are many good books you can read about cultivating the type of relationship with God that leads to direct ongoing communications. Here are some things I’ve learned from my readings... and experience.
- God is more interested in my heart than my circumstances. In who I am rather than what I do. Conversations with Him almost always begin with that.
- God is the champion of the weak and the oppressed. He has a heart for “widows” and “orphans.” His way of doing things will never empower oppressors at the expense of the powerless and suffering.
- God understands that we have trouble hearing from Him. That’s why he speaks to us in many forms:
- symbolism (often repeated)
- the Body (those who truly represent His heart)
- whispers into our hearts/thoughts (which will always be in line with His character)
To all these things we apply our God-given wisdom. Even still, we may get it wrong… and that’s ok. Separation, even divorce, is not “undoable” if that’s not God’s ultimate plan for you and your husband. Likewise, staying is not undoable… we can change our mind tomorrow. Plus, for some of us, staying/going may very well be His “for now” plan.
As long as we are earnestly and honestly seeking God’s will for us – with the understanding that He is FOR us – we really can’t go wrong. Once we sense a direction, we can ask Him to confirm that we're hearing correctly. Often He'll do that by beginning to open the doors for us. Those doors may be external ones (for leaving) or internal — for the growth that enables us to stay and be at peace.
I Commend You
My friend and mentor Donna Merdith-Dixon once said that a mantra for many PSA’s (partners of sex addicts) is, “the hardest thing I ever did was to leave you while I still loved you.” This is so true and the woman who does this for the love of God, her husband, children and herself is to be commended.
Equally commendable is staying in the marriage when there’s no love or trust... just a commitment to God and the marriage and the determination to wait and give it a chance.
Whether we stay or go: we need to lean heavily into the love of the Faithful One. We need to know that our souls are even more important to Him than our marriage.
Next week I'll start a series on "stinkin' thinkin'" and try to answer the question: "why does my husband blame me."