In this last post in our spiritual crisis series, I am again drawing from one of the responses to the 2015 joint Beyond Betrayal/ACOJ spiritual crisis survey. I will also be sharing some of my own story of overcoming spiritual crisis... where it overlaps a bit with this respondent's journey.
This respondent, the wife of a sex addict who is struggling with her faith, wrote in:
“Now I am preparing to leave and I have not consulted God on this decision because I don't want to hear it if He says ‘stay.’ This addiction has caused me to purposely not listen to God.” — Spiritual Crisis Survey respondent
I totally understand this sentiment. The moment I came to the decision that I could not stay with my first husband, I felt so cold, empty and alone. I stopped talking to/listening to God for the first time since my childhood. It was the darkest spiritual days of my life.
I spent over a year in that place: afraid of God’s wrath, but even more afraid of staying with an unfaithful husband who wouldn’t stop lying or get help. I was sure God must hate me. And why not? The message of my pastor: “your marriage is more important than you.” The message of Christian “friends” and family members — “unless he’s beating you (or you saw him in bed with the prostitute), you have no right to go.”
I was sure God was on their side. They were supposed to represent Him. I was just some crazy, angry woman who was dying inside. I had only lies, and some less than compelling proof of unfaithfulness (I even questioned the diagnosis of the STI I know I didn’t cause).
Turns out He had other thoughts on the matter. During the next year – after I’d taken my kids, moved to another city and tried to get on with my life, He began the process of wooing me back… so tenderly.
He got us the best housing situation imaginable in the inner city
He secured me a high paying job that I quickly began advancing in
He gave me peaceful circumstances (other than the harassing letters from people in the church I’d left… including one death threat)
He gave me supportive people (some Christian.)
After awhile my cold shoulder (toward Him) began to thaw. I started to open up the dialogue again. I began to consider that just maybe… He was trying to say I was more important to Him than my marriage. Me personally. My soul.
Hear His Heart
I am praying that the woman who wrote this response — and anyone who feels that God would never give them permission to leave their husband — will read this post. I pray you will come to know you can trust God enough to consult him. That you can trust you are more important to Him than your marriage.
God does allow us to put boundaries up. He does allow us to follow through on consequences. He won’t ask us to do something and then not empower us to do it – whether that’s leaving or staying with boundaries. He might not even ask us to do either — he might just let us exercise our free will.
International speaker/author Graham Cooke says:
“The will of God is not a tightrope; it’s a broad, green pasture. The pasture has some boundaries to it, but the space between them is immense and unimaginable.” (Prophetic Wisdom)
Thus, whether we stay or go, He can work with it. And remember that the decision made today can be reversed tomorrow if we discern that’s merited. (For further reading I recommend the section on restorative separation in Beyond Betrayal… coming out Nov. 1)
Ignore the Pharisees
Yes, there are loads of church leaders who will tell you I’m wrong. Others (and I can direct you to their websites) who will tell you that what I’m saying about leaving is true… as long as “his penis went into her vagina.” However if it was porn, strip clubs, massage parlors (I’m not sure where they figure same-sex affairs fit in) – he’s off the hook. You HAVE to stay.
We’ve become such a congregation of Pharisees – looking for “the line.” We’re as bad as those in Jesus’ day running the “pharisaical divorce scam.” (We can divorce her over any old excuse… right? No? Who’d bother getting married then? Matthew 19) Funny how the Pharisees always see “the line” as somewhere that’s convenient for the sex addict, and a burden to the wife (she can’t divorce me because I stick to masturbation… ha, ha).
Let’s start with an understanding of God’s love for us. Let’s meditate on “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yes, we might lose our church if we go — and some/most/all of our Christian friends (been there). We won’t lose Him though. Not ever.
And as for the losses: He loves to redeem these. So many of us found, in time, we had a better life, with better friends, a healthier fellowship group and more.
He does this, not because we’re perfect, but because He is. And we can trust in that perfection, and his immense love for us. A love that does not change whether we stay with our unfaithful husband or go.