Tom and Jenny (not their real names) had been married for 14 years. Not only was he Jenny’s college sweetheart, he was a Christian. During their marriage, she began to endure a lot of pain from her husband’s infidelity but being a Christian as well, she stuck with his infidelity on the basis that she really loved her husband and also believed in the institution of marriage.
However, in 2013 things grew much worse and Jenny who by then felt as though she was losing her sanity, filed for divorce from Tom in December 2013. By then some things were crystal clear. For starters, her husband was deep into the affair. She also realized that he no longer loved her, he was emotionally abusive to her and among other things, he made her life miserable.
Jenny’s pain became unbearable to the point of unrest and turmoil. She was very discouraged and felt uncertain about her future.
“I sometimes feel God has abandoned me but I have known God for too long (25 years) to know he never will forsake me. It is just so hard now to feel his love now in the midst of the despair I feel,” she said.
The church today is full of stories like this. I can relate to it because that’s my story as well – etched deep within the history of my past experiences. It’s a story that perhaps you too can relate to.
When is the Right Time to Walk Away?
The truth is, God is the one who instituted marriage. It is a sacred thing. It is a lifelong commitment and according to the bible, God hates divorce. In the book of Matthew 19:6, Jesus Himself said, “What God therefore has joined together, let no man separate.” (NASB) Yet in the same passage (v9), He mentions immorality or marital infidelity as a reason that divorce may be allowed.
It is true that many persons [Christians included] are too quick to end a marriage after their first argument or when the flame of romance in the marriage begins to go dim. Too many view marriage as a convenient way to hook up to have some underlying and perhaps selfish need met before they break up.
Still we realize that we live in a world today that is full of sin and unfaithfulness, and divorce is not always avoidable.
On a personal note, I had the opportunity to counsel and pray with [and pray for] couples who felt trapped in a marriage that was dysfunctional, and it was obvious that some of the relationships just could not be restored.
4 Situations in Which Divorce is Advisable
Unrepentant adultery or adulterer – God’s grace is sufficient to allow a spouse who was unfaithful to their partner to be forgiven and for both to reconcile. However, the latter is only an option if the partner who has committed the act of adultery is willing to admit the sin and break off completely the illicit relationship. Healing is possible and prayer and counseling must be sought.
In the case where the husband continues to cheat on his wife or vice versa, and do not repent, putting away through divorce is permissible. No one is required by God to tolerate behavior such as a spouse having sex with someone else.
Domestic abuse and violence against a spouse – Too many become traumatized and emotionally scarred [for life in some cases] and are either too afraid or unwilling to seek help. In some cases separation for a season and counseling has known to work and the marriage is saved.
But if the abuser refuses to take counseling and continuously expose their spouse and family to danger and risk of death, then by all means, walk away. God does not want you to stay married to an abuser. He wants to deliver you from out of that dangerous situation.
Emotional and mental cruelty, control – There are relationships in which a spouse continuously go on violent, angry tirades, screaming profanity while they belittle and call their partner a series of nasty names. Some spouse also seem to think that they have the right to control their spouse’s every move and when it does not work their spouse becomes the subject of much scolding. All of this amounts to abuse.
Victims of such toxic behaviors are often led to depression, drug and other forms of addiction and even suicide. If the abuser is not willing to repent, it is time for the spouse to get out before their life is completely destroyed.
In the case where there is spiritual incompatibility – Okay theologians and biblical scholars, I hear you clearly on this one. The bible says be not unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) However, many times one spouse come to the faith in Christ before the other, and in a best case scenario the believing spouse lead the unbelieving spouse to Christ.
Worst case situations, what if the unbelieving spouse never embraces Christianity? The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 that both the believer and the unbeliever can still stay together, but if there comes a time when the unbeliever wishes to leave the relationship, s/he must be permitted to do so without being held in contempt.
God certainly hates when families disintegrate and fall apart as a result of divorce. But if you have gone through a breakup know that God offers a plan of healing, restoration and freedom. His aim is to set you on a path to wholeness and for you to live out your purpose in an environment that is free from abuse, and hardship.
Are you thinking of strengthening your marriage? Then read: Strengthen Your Marriage
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