A brouhaha has erupted today regarding comments made by Tom Holladay who is a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church.  He says that biblical grounds only exist for abandonment and a physical affair.  He said in an audio comment on Saddleback’s website that:

“I wish there were a third in Scripture having been involved as a pastor with situations of abuse,” Holladay said in an audio clip posted on Saddleback Church’s Web site. “There is something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says, ‘If they abuse you in this-and-such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.’”

He says that you shouldn’t have to put up with abuse.  In cases of abuse he recommends separation and counseling while the couple tries to mend their marriage.

Danni Moss, who is an abuse survivor and a Baptist blogger fired back:

“expresses a distinct lack of understanding about the nature, heart, and spiritual roots of abuse. I think he believes he is doing right and doesn’t realize his ignorance or how much he is hurting people, so this is offered without personal judgment. But I also believe categorically that it is dangerous.”

HT: World Magazine

I had a chance to preach on this topic not that long ago.  I want to look at what Jesus had to say on this subject.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery.  And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery,” (Matthew 5:31-32, ESV).

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery,” (Matthew 19:4-9, ESV).

A couple of quick observations.

1.  There are no biblical grounds for divorce.  People have approached this completely wrong.  There isn’t some smoking gun issue or event that occurs in a marriage that mandates that you divorce your spouse.  God makes it very clear in Malachi that He hates divorce, (Malachi 2:16).  In Matthew 19, the Pharisees asked, “why then did Moses command?”  He didn’t command.  Jesus said that he allowed it because of the hardness of their heart, but God’s desire is for reconciliation.

2.  Matthew 7 and 19, as well as Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 (which by the way is abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, so Holladay is making that too broad).  The instruction isn’t so much on divorce as it is remarriage.  When is remarriage permitted?  Much of the problem when people seek a divorce is that they don’t think through the covenant that they made with one another.  You want to divorce?  You can legally I suppose, but in God’s eyes you are still married unless one breaks the covenant (adultery) in which case remarriage after divorce is permitted.  Otherwise you are guilty of adultery.  Far too often people divorce, remarry quickly, only then to divorce again.

So what could be said is that if you divorce your husband due to physical abuse, you can do that, but don’t think that you are free to remarry.  Some would argue then if the ex-spouse gets remarried and thus commits adultery then the person could since reconciliation is no longer possible.  I can see the validity in that argument, but I wouldn’t buy it in every case.

Regardless, the overall point is this – are there Biblical grounds for divorce?  No, God allows it due to our hard-heartedness, but desires reconciliation and for us to honor the marriage covenant we entered into with our spouse.

What do you think?

83 comments
  1. Hmmm.. If there are no biblical grounds for divorce then one must stay in an abusive marriage where the immorality of the other spouse victimizes them. Many Muslim men use this view to keep their wives in abusive marriages, I think that it is a dark picture of marriage and of God.

    But I may be misunderstanding your position Shane.. maybe I am reading too much between the lines of your post. What do you think the difference is between the way marriage is practiced in some Muslim areas and your view?

    Thx, Bob

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Superbowl: Cardinals vs Steelers

  2. Hmmm.. If there are no biblical grounds for divorce then one must stay in an abusive marriage where the immorality of the other spouse victimizes them. Many Muslim men use this view to keep their wives in abusive marriages, I think that it is a dark picture of marriage and of God.

    But I may be misunderstanding your position Shane.. maybe I am reading too much between the lines of your post. What do you think the difference is between the way marriage is practiced in some Muslim areas and your view?

    Thx, Bob

    Kansas Bobs last blog post..Superbowl: Cardinals vs Steelers

  3. The problem with this line of thought, particularly regarding re-marriage, is it is a legalistic view and does not account for God’s grace. I’m not saying the line of thinking is wrong per se, but if mistakes are made, they are already forgiven for a believer and can be forgiven for an unbeliever who is willing to accept Christ and his gift.

    By living with a mistake, i.e. never remarrying after divorce, than you have said God cannot forgive that sin and that his Grace does not extend to that sin.

    Anyone who gets divorced discovers it’s not wonderful. It doesn’t usually fix the “problem” though in the case of abuse, it probably helps. Sinning brings forth consequences, but it does not erase God’s grace from our lives.

  4. The problem with this line of thought, particularly regarding re-marriage, is it is a legalistic view and does not account for God’s grace. I’m not saying the line of thinking is wrong per se, but if mistakes are made, they are already forgiven for a believer and can be forgiven for an unbeliever who is willing to accept Christ and his gift.

    By living with a mistake, i.e. never remarrying after divorce, than you have said God cannot forgive that sin and that his Grace does not extend to that sin.

    Anyone who gets divorced discovers it’s not wonderful. It doesn’t usually fix the “problem” though in the case of abuse, it probably helps. Sinning brings forth consequences, but it does not erase God’s grace from our lives.

  5. The problem with this line of thought, particularly regarding re-marriage, is it is a legalistic view and does not account for God’s grace. I’m not saying the line of thinking is wrong per se, but if mistakes are made, they are already forgiven for a believer and can be forgiven for an unbeliever who is willing to accept Christ and his gift.

    By living with a mistake, i.e. never remarrying after divorce, than you have said God cannot forgive that sin and that his Grace does not extend to that sin.

    Anyone who gets divorced discovers it’s not wonderful. It doesn’t usually fix the “problem” though in the case of abuse, it probably helps. Sinning brings forth consequences, but it does not erase God’s grace from our lives.

  6. I can see where this is a difficult topic for many to work through what the Bible says. I agree with your analysis, and the focus on remarriage.
    I think people need to realize the hardened hearts God is allowing for are both parties in the marriage. Both are sinners, but in many instances one is committing the demeaning and violent sin of abuse.
    I would not counsel someone to stay in a abusive and possibly life threatening marriage that did not involve adultery, but the future options from a biblical perspective are clearly laid out by you.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Definition of Community

  7. I can see where this is a difficult topic for many to work through what the Bible says. I agree with your analysis, and the focus on remarriage.
    I think people need to realize the hardened hearts God is allowing for are both parties in the marriage. Both are sinners, but in many instances one is committing the demeaning and violent sin of abuse.
    I would not counsel someone to stay in a abusive and possibly life threatening marriage that did not involve adultery, but the future options from a biblical perspective are clearly laid out by you.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Definition of Community

  8. I can see where this is a difficult topic for many to work through what the Bible says. I agree with your analysis, and the focus on remarriage.
    I think people need to realize the hardened hearts God is allowing for are both parties in the marriage. Both are sinners, but in many instances one is committing the demeaning and violent sin of abuse.
    I would not counsel someone to stay in a abusive and possibly life threatening marriage that did not involve adultery, but the future options from a biblical perspective are clearly laid out by you.

    AndyCs last blog post..A Definition of Community

  9. Well I’m not a scholar. I think people in general take marriage too lightly. It’s seen as a commodity, kind of. A guarantee of happiness, not a committment. Because they don’t understand the need for self sacrifice in a relationship and in life. And don’t want to do the work !
    In my opinion, divorce should not be undertaken lightly. If there is some terrible situation of abuse then I’d say it’s OK. People who try to follow the Bible’s teachings are not scholars. They just do the best they can. By saying hardness of heart, that would require interpretation. The idea of grace appeals to me more. I believe in Christ’s way of teaching without condemning.

    Moses etc./you have to remember the era. Nowadays a woman might be the one who “puts away” a husband. Roles were pretty proscribed, so a “good wife” should not be put away just because a man wanted a change. A moral statement not to hurt the woman. And likewise, a man. I wonder what they thought about “abuse”, though.

    So your position is reasonable. It’s not really approved, not the best solution, but a possible last recourse speaking realistically.

    I think the best way to deal with teachings on social issues is to try to develop the consciousness of God in our acts so that our acts will be more responsibile and pure. Then, deal with each situation on it’s own merits, judge not, but try for reconciliation first. In other words, teach more, preach less.

    I had a kind of flash of understanding of these seemingly inflexible “rules” that pop up here and there in Scripture. Maybe they are there to serve as guidelines, not harsh orders, as examples of the perfect way to be so that we have something to shoot for.
    We then have to use our all too human freedom to choose what is best. That’s why we need phrases like, “So help me God” or “God WIlling” to remind us that our choices are subject to a higher choosing, and that we strive to be closer to this ideal.

    People should be allowed to remarry but they should have to consult with their ministers and perhaps wait some time and use introspective prayer with the prospective new spouse to try to avoid repetition of the same mistake. Here’s where spiritual counseling can come in handy.
    What is done in love is rarely completely a sin. ALso, while it is instructive to debate such points, we must remember that the world of Christianity is facing enemies who want to destroy all of us. So we should try to unite whenever at all possible.
    Sorry this is so long !

  10. Well I’m not a scholar. I think people in general take marriage too lightly. It’s seen as a commodity, kind of. A guarantee of happiness, not a committment. Because they don’t understand the need for self sacrifice in a relationship and in life. And don’t want to do the work !
    In my opinion, divorce should not be undertaken lightly. If there is some terrible situation of abuse then I’d say it’s OK. People who try to follow the Bible’s teachings are not scholars. They just do the best they can. By saying hardness of heart, that would require interpretation. The idea of grace appeals to me more. I believe in Christ’s way of teaching without condemning.

    Moses etc./you have to remember the era. Nowadays a woman might be the one who “puts away” a husband. Roles were pretty proscribed, so a “good wife” should not be put away just because a man wanted a change. A moral statement not to hurt the woman. And likewise, a man. I wonder what they thought about “abuse”, though.

    So your position is reasonable. It’s not really approved, not the best solution, but a possible last recourse speaking realistically.

    I think the best way to deal with teachings on social issues is to try to develop the consciousness of God in our acts so that our acts will be more responsibile and pure. Then, deal with each situation on it’s own merits, judge not, but try for reconciliation first. In other words, teach more, preach less.

    I had a kind of flash of understanding of these seemingly inflexible “rules” that pop up here and there in Scripture. Maybe they are there to serve as guidelines, not harsh orders, as examples of the perfect way to be so that we have something to shoot for.
    We then have to use our all too human freedom to choose what is best. That’s why we need phrases like, “So help me God” or “God WIlling” to remind us that our choices are subject to a higher choosing, and that we strive to be closer to this ideal.

    People should be allowed to remarry but they should have to consult with their ministers and perhaps wait some time and use introspective prayer with the prospective new spouse to try to avoid repetition of the same mistake. Here’s where spiritual counseling can come in handy.
    What is done in love is rarely completely a sin. ALso, while it is instructive to debate such points, we must remember that the world of Christianity is facing enemies who want to destroy all of us. So we should try to unite whenever at all possible.
    Sorry this is so long !

  11. Well I’m not a scholar. I think people in general take marriage too lightly. It’s seen as a commodity, kind of. A guarantee of happiness, not a committment. Because they don’t understand the need for self sacrifice in a relationship and in life. And don’t want to do the work !
    In my opinion, divorce should not be undertaken lightly. If there is some terrible situation of abuse then I’d say it’s OK. People who try to follow the Bible’s teachings are not scholars. They just do the best they can. By saying hardness of heart, that would require interpretation. The idea of grace appeals to me more. I believe in Christ’s way of teaching without condemning.

    Moses etc./you have to remember the era. Nowadays a woman might be the one who “puts away” a husband. Roles were pretty proscribed, so a “good wife” should not be put away just because a man wanted a change. A moral statement not to hurt the woman. And likewise, a man. I wonder what they thought about “abuse”, though.

    So your position is reasonable. It’s not really approved, not the best solution, but a possible last recourse speaking realistically.

    I think the best way to deal with teachings on social issues is to try to develop the consciousness of God in our acts so that our acts will be more responsibile and pure. Then, deal with each situation on it’s own merits, judge not, but try for reconciliation first. In other words, teach more, preach less.

    I had a kind of flash of understanding of these seemingly inflexible “rules” that pop up here and there in Scripture. Maybe they are there to serve as guidelines, not harsh orders, as examples of the perfect way to be so that we have something to shoot for.
    We then have to use our all too human freedom to choose what is best. That’s why we need phrases like, “So help me God” or “God WIlling” to remind us that our choices are subject to a higher choosing, and that we strive to be closer to this ideal.

    People should be allowed to remarry but they should have to consult with their ministers and perhaps wait some time and use introspective prayer with the prospective new spouse to try to avoid repetition of the same mistake. Here’s where spiritual counseling can come in handy.
    What is done in love is rarely completely a sin. ALso, while it is instructive to debate such points, we must remember that the world of Christianity is facing enemies who want to destroy all of us. So we should try to unite whenever at all possible.
    Sorry this is so long !

  12. I like Casey’s take – abuse is a breaking of the covenant of marriage – and the vows this person swore to upkeep. Abuse is sometimes a lot worse than infidelity (because it can be so on-going and damaging).

    If a couple approached me – I am against divorce (taken too lightly is right) – and one should seek all avenues to save that marriage. But if it cannot be reconciled – divorce needs to be a certifiable option for the safety of both individuals involved (and the kids). One cannot hope for another – the hopes must be in the 2 to decide if it is possible…

    I think marriage can dissolve for a variety of reasons – but abuse is one that is tops in my book. If they want to re-marry after the incident – they need to be wide about it – face their personal problems so as to not bring them into another’s life (namely with focus on the abuser when I say this). Re-marriage is a problem – for sure – when stuff like that is not ‘dealt with’ but allowed to ruin more lives.

    Societyvss last blog post..The Problem With Sin…is SIN?

  13. I like Casey’s take – abuse is a breaking of the covenant of marriage – and the vows this person swore to upkeep. Abuse is sometimes a lot worse than infidelity (because it can be so on-going and damaging).

    If a couple approached me – I am against divorce (taken too lightly is right) – and one should seek all avenues to save that marriage. But if it cannot be reconciled – divorce needs to be a certifiable option for the safety of both individuals involved (and the kids). One cannot hope for another – the hopes must be in the 2 to decide if it is possible…

    I think marriage can dissolve for a variety of reasons – but abuse is one that is tops in my book. If they want to re-marry after the incident – they need to be wide about it – face their personal problems so as to not bring them into another’s life (namely with focus on the abuser when I say this). Re-marriage is a problem – for sure – when stuff like that is not ‘dealt with’ but allowed to ruin more lives.

    Societyvss last blog post..The Problem With Sin…is SIN?

  14. I like Casey’s take – abuse is a breaking of the covenant of marriage – and the vows this person swore to upkeep. Abuse is sometimes a lot worse than infidelity (because it can be so on-going and damaging).

    If a couple approached me – I am against divorce (taken too lightly is right) – and one should seek all avenues to save that marriage. But if it cannot be reconciled – divorce needs to be a certifiable option for the safety of both individuals involved (and the kids). One cannot hope for another – the hopes must be in the 2 to decide if it is possible…

    I think marriage can dissolve for a variety of reasons – but abuse is one that is tops in my book. If they want to re-marry after the incident – they need to be wide about it – face their personal problems so as to not bring them into another’s life (namely with focus on the abuser when I say this). Re-marriage is a problem – for sure – when stuff like that is not ‘dealt with’ but allowed to ruin more lives.

    Societyvss last blog post..The Problem With Sin…is SIN?

  15. I dated a man for two years. Just days after we were married, he confessed he was using crack cocaine twice a week and having unprotected sex with male drug dealers while he was high. The stories behind the thousands of dollars he’d “borrowed” in advance of our wedding had been, obviously, a pile of lies. He didn’t have the integrity or self-awareness to confess his drug addiction to me before we were married.

    He promised he would stop, but he was addicted. In the first seven months of our marriage, he had seven relapses with crack cocaine (that I found out about), all involving unprotected sex with strangers and large amounts of money. He took out a loan for drugs and hid it from me. One day, while I was lying down recovering from a painful surgery, he withdrew my entire paycheck and then gifted my bank card to his drug dealer. My legitimate pain meds for my surgery mysteriously disappeared. A month later, he “borrowed” my parents’ new car for one of his drug runs because his car was out of gas.

    Admitting he engaged in dangerous sexual practices, he refused to take physical precautions for himself or for me. He contracted gonorrhea. I advised him to go to his doctor and get some antibiotics, and when I noticed he was “forgetting” to take the pills, I gently reminded him every morning and evening, but he only gave me looks of disgust and hatred and never finished the pills. I asked him to wear condoms for my protection if we were going to engage in marital sex, but he generally angrily refused, preferring not to have sex with me at all.

    I rushed home from work every night to check on him, giving up my social life, volunteer activities, and religious services. Ironically, I had to account to him for every hour of MY whereabouts. He would lie on the couch as if he were ill, and he’d insist that I sit next to him and hold his hand to comfort him, not allowing me to read books or check my email. He lacked the attention span even to watch a rental movie of his own choosing. He refused to write any thank-you notes to our wedding guests and, because I kept encouraging him to participate, he eventually destroyed the binder with the list of who had given what gift.

    I tried so hard to take care of him. For months, I kept his secret and supported him financially. When the secret could no longer be kept, I involved both sets of parents and didn’t gossip about his problem to our friends. I supported him while he completed an intensive outpatient program. I accompanied him to AA and Narc-Anon. I took his best friend to Al-Anon. I installed pornography filters on our computers and tried to put safeguards on our paychecks. I stopped giving him significant amounts of money because I realized it triggered him to use drugs, but I still filled up his car with gas twice a week so he would be able to get to work. I paid for us to go to marital counseling together.

    None of this worked. He continued to have sex with other people and continued to take large amounts of a drug that ultimately destroyed his mind. He admitted that he repeatedly tried to lethally overdose. Our short marriage cost me somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 of my hard-earned money that went to drug dealers. He seemed to have forgotten the magic word “sorry”.

    Ultimately, he walked away from his job and his professional development program. He was no longer able to live unsupervised. I bought two plane tickets for us and one return ticket for me, and escorted him to a 30-day residential program in another state. At the end of the program, he admitted over the phone that he knew he needed another 6 months in a sober house. I was faithful to him during this time. He, on the other hand, got kicked out of two sober houses for infractions and then landed in residential care again. Turns out he had hired some men to beat him up, sexually assault him, and inject him with their leftover methamphetamine. He had contracted HIV–a particularly bad strain that gave him fevers and headaches every day. Three months later, he was back in residential care again.

    I am in my 20s. You are telling me that your Bible condemns victims like me to lives of solitude. We are allowed to separate from our abusive spouses but we are not allowed ever to love or touch other people. For what? Because I honored and cherished him, because I was faithful even when he was not, because I risked my life every day just to live in the same house with him, because I tried to love him despite his illness, because I was gentle and good and said nothing but healing words to him? Because of that, I’m the one who has to be penalized by taking the veil? What kind of medieval, misogynistic attitude is this? God only knows I would make a great life partner to a sane, responsible man. You are telling me that God’s plan for me is to be victimized and then to suffer alone for the rest of my life.

    Are adultery and abandonment the only morally acceptable reasons for divorce? How about physical and verbal abuse, severe mental illness, drug addiction, theft, lies, dishonor, chronic humiliation, and broken promises? How about a skilled, able-bodied young man who refuses to work and who expects his spouse to work 60 hours a week to put a roof over his head and to support his drug habit? How about HIV–why should the faithful/sober spouse have to literally DIE for the unfaithful/addict spouse’s indiscretion? And why is it the faithful/sober/HIV-negative spouse who is condemned to a life of celibacy, to atone for the sins of the other?

    Your Bible knows nothing about the difficulties of modern life. Your Bible is lacking in sympathy. Your Bible is outright intolerant of the downtrodden. Your Bible is a tool for those who are merely lucky in love to pat themselves on the back and gloat about their own moral superiority. Your Bible has not a single pearl of well-meaning advice for people who are married to intravenous drug users. I am a survivor. Every breath I take is a privilege that I fought tooth and nail for. If I listened to your Jesus’s moral rules, I’d be dying of AIDS right now. You would do well to quit your punditry about what survival strategies are morally permissible. You know full well that if you were in my situation, you wouldn’t let your lying, cheating spouse drain your life savings, ruin your career and your future, turn your beautiful home into a crackhouse, give you AIDS and blame it on you.

    You want to know “what I think,” Mr. Vander Hart? I’m thinking you should NEVER call me “hard-hearted.”

  16. I dated a man for two years. Just days after we were married, he confessed he was using crack cocaine twice a week and having unprotected sex with male drug dealers while he was high. The stories behind the thousands of dollars he’d “borrowed” in advance of our wedding had been, obviously, a pile of lies. He didn’t have the integrity or self-awareness to confess his drug addiction to me before we were married.

    He promised he would stop, but he was addicted. In the first seven months of our marriage, he had seven relapses with crack cocaine (that I found out about), all involving unprotected sex with strangers and large amounts of money. He took out a loan for drugs and hid it from me. One day, while I was lying down recovering from a painful surgery, he withdrew my entire paycheck and then gifted my bank card to his drug dealer. My legitimate pain meds for my surgery mysteriously disappeared. A month later, he “borrowed” my parents’ new car for one of his drug runs because his car was out of gas.

    Admitting he engaged in dangerous sexual practices, he refused to take physical precautions for himself or for me. He contracted gonorrhea. I advised him to go to his doctor and get some antibiotics, and when I noticed he was “forgetting” to take the pills, I gently reminded him every morning and evening, but he only gave me looks of disgust and hatred and never finished the pills. I asked him to wear condoms for my protection if we were going to engage in marital sex, but he generally angrily refused, preferring not to have sex with me at all.

    I rushed home from work every night to check on him, giving up my social life, volunteer activities, and religious services. Ironically, I had to account to him for every hour of MY whereabouts. He would lie on the couch as if he were ill, and he’d insist that I sit next to him and hold his hand to comfort him, not allowing me to read books or check my email. He lacked the attention span even to watch a rental movie of his own choosing. He refused to write any thank-you notes to our wedding guests and, because I kept encouraging him to participate, he eventually destroyed the binder with the list of who had given what gift.

    I tried so hard to take care of him. For months, I kept his secret and supported him financially. When the secret could no longer be kept, I involved both sets of parents and didn’t gossip about his problem to our friends. I supported him while he completed an intensive outpatient program. I accompanied him to AA and Narc-Anon. I took his best friend to Al-Anon. I installed pornography filters on our computers and tried to put safeguards on our paychecks. I stopped giving him significant amounts of money because I realized it triggered him to use drugs, but I still filled up his car with gas twice a week so he would be able to get to work. I paid for us to go to marital counseling together.

    None of this worked. He continued to have sex with other people and continued to take large amounts of a drug that ultimately destroyed his mind. He admitted that he repeatedly tried to lethally overdose. Our short marriage cost me somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 of my hard-earned money that went to drug dealers. He seemed to have forgotten the magic word “sorry”.

    Ultimately, he walked away from his job and his professional development program. He was no longer able to live unsupervised. I bought two plane tickets for us and one return ticket for me, and escorted him to a 30-day residential program in another state. At the end of the program, he admitted over the phone that he knew he needed another 6 months in a sober house. I was faithful to him during this time. He, on the other hand, got kicked out of two sober houses for infractions and then landed in residential care again. Turns out he had hired some men to beat him up, sexually assault him, and inject him with their leftover methamphetamine. He had contracted HIV–a particularly bad strain that gave him fevers and headaches every day. Three months later, he was back in residential care again.

    I am in my 20s. You are telling me that your Bible condemns victims like me to lives of solitude. We are allowed to separate from our abusive spouses but we are not allowed ever to love or touch other people. For what? Because I honored and cherished him, because I was faithful even when he was not, because I risked my life every day just to live in the same house with him, because I tried to love him despite his illness, because I was gentle and good and said nothing but healing words to him? Because of that, I’m the one who has to be penalized by taking the veil? What kind of medieval, misogynistic attitude is this? God only knows I would make a great life partner to a sane, responsible man. You are telling me that God’s plan for me is to be victimized and then to suffer alone for the rest of my life.

    Are adultery and abandonment the only morally acceptable reasons for divorce? How about physical and verbal abuse, severe mental illness, drug addiction, theft, lies, dishonor, chronic humiliation, and broken promises? How about a skilled, able-bodied young man who refuses to work and who expects his spouse to work 60 hours a week to put a roof over his head and to support his drug habit? How about HIV–why should the faithful/sober spouse have to literally DIE for the unfaithful/addict spouse’s indiscretion? And why is it the faithful/sober/HIV-negative spouse who is condemned to a life of celibacy, to atone for the sins of the other?

    Your Bible knows nothing about the difficulties of modern life. Your Bible is lacking in sympathy. Your Bible is outright intolerant of the downtrodden. Your Bible is a tool for those who are merely lucky in love to pat themselves on the back and gloat about their own moral superiority. Your Bible has not a single pearl of well-meaning advice for people who are married to intravenous drug users. I am a survivor. Every breath I take is a privilege that I fought tooth and nail for. If I listened to your Jesus’s moral rules, I’d be dying of AIDS right now. You would do well to quit your punditry about what survival strategies are morally permissible. You know full well that if you were in my situation, you wouldn’t let your lying, cheating spouse drain your life savings, ruin your career and your future, turn your beautiful home into a crackhouse, give you AIDS and blame it on you.

    You want to know “what I think,” Mr. Vander Hart? I’m thinking you should NEVER call me “hard-hearted.”

  17. I dated a man for two years. Just days after we were married, he confessed he was using crack cocaine twice a week and having unprotected sex with male drug dealers while he was high. The stories behind the thousands of dollars he’d “borrowed” in advance of our wedding had been, obviously, a pile of lies. He didn’t have the integrity or self-awareness to confess his drug addiction to me before we were married.

    He promised he would stop, but he was addicted. In the first seven months of our marriage, he had seven relapses with crack cocaine (that I found out about), all involving unprotected sex with strangers and large amounts of money. He took out a loan for drugs and hid it from me. One day, while I was lying down recovering from a painful surgery, he withdrew my entire paycheck and then gifted my bank card to his drug dealer. My legitimate pain meds for my surgery mysteriously disappeared. A month later, he “borrowed” my parents’ new car for one of his drug runs because his car was out of gas.

    Admitting he engaged in dangerous sexual practices, he refused to take physical precautions for himself or for me. He contracted gonorrhea. I advised him to go to his doctor and get some antibiotics, and when I noticed he was “forgetting” to take the pills, I gently reminded him every morning and evening, but he only gave me looks of disgust and hatred and never finished the pills. I asked him to wear condoms for my protection if we were going to engage in marital sex, but he generally angrily refused, preferring not to have sex with me at all.

    I rushed home from work every night to check on him, giving up my social life, volunteer activities, and religious services. Ironically, I had to account to him for every hour of MY whereabouts. He would lie on the couch as if he were ill, and he’d insist that I sit next to him and hold his hand to comfort him, not allowing me to read books or check my email. He lacked the attention span even to watch a rental movie of his own choosing. He refused to write any thank-you notes to our wedding guests and, because I kept encouraging him to participate, he eventually destroyed the binder with the list of who had given what gift.

    I tried so hard to take care of him. For months, I kept his secret and supported him financially. When the secret could no longer be kept, I involved both sets of parents and didn’t gossip about his problem to our friends. I supported him while he completed an intensive outpatient program. I accompanied him to AA and Narc-Anon. I took his best friend to Al-Anon. I installed pornography filters on our computers and tried to put safeguards on our paychecks. I stopped giving him significant amounts of money because I realized it triggered him to use drugs, but I still filled up his car with gas twice a week so he would be able to get to work. I paid for us to go to marital counseling together.

    None of this worked. He continued to have sex with other people and continued to take large amounts of a drug that ultimately destroyed his mind. He admitted that he repeatedly tried to lethally overdose. Our short marriage cost me somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 of my hard-earned money that went to drug dealers. He seemed to have forgotten the magic word “sorry”.

    Ultimately, he walked away from his job and his professional development program. He was no longer able to live unsupervised. I bought two plane tickets for us and one return ticket for me, and escorted him to a 30-day residential program in another state. At the end of the program, he admitted over the phone that he knew he needed another 6 months in a sober house. I was faithful to him during this time. He, on the other hand, got kicked out of two sober houses for infractions and then landed in residential care again. Turns out he had hired some men to beat him up, sexually assault him, and inject him with their leftover methamphetamine. He had contracted HIV–a particularly bad strain that gave him fevers and headaches every day. Three months later, he was back in residential care again.

    I am in my 20s. You are telling me that your Bible condemns victims like me to lives of solitude. We are allowed to separate from our abusive spouses but we are not allowed ever to love or touch other people. For what? Because I honored and cherished him, because I was faithful even when he was not, because I risked my life every day just to live in the same house with him, because I tried to love him despite his illness, because I was gentle and good and said nothing but healing words to him? Because of that, I’m the one who has to be penalized by taking the veil? What kind of medieval, misogynistic attitude is this? God only knows I would make a great life partner to a sane, responsible man. You are telling me that God’s plan for me is to be victimized and then to suffer alone for the rest of my life.

    Are adultery and abandonment the only morally acceptable reasons for divorce? How about physical and verbal abuse, severe mental illness, drug addiction, theft, lies, dishonor, chronic humiliation, and broken promises? How about a skilled, able-bodied young man who refuses to work and who expects his spouse to work 60 hours a week to put a roof over his head and to support his drug habit? How about HIV–why should the faithful/sober spouse have to literally DIE for the unfaithful/addict spouse’s indiscretion? And why is it the faithful/sober/HIV-negative spouse who is condemned to a life of celibacy, to atone for the sins of the other?

    Your Bible knows nothing about the difficulties of modern life. Your Bible is lacking in sympathy. Your Bible is outright intolerant of the downtrodden. Your Bible is a tool for those who are merely lucky in love to pat themselves on the back and gloat about their own moral superiority. Your Bible has not a single pearl of well-meaning advice for people who are married to intravenous drug users. I am a survivor. Every breath I take is a privilege that I fought tooth and nail for. If I listened to your Jesus’s moral rules, I’d be dying of AIDS right now. You would do well to quit your punditry about what survival strategies are morally permissible. You know full well that if you were in my situation, you wouldn’t let your lying, cheating spouse drain your life savings, ruin your career and your future, turn your beautiful home into a crackhouse, give you AIDS and blame it on you.

    You want to know “what I think,” Mr. Vander Hart? I’m thinking you should NEVER call me “hard-hearted.”

  18. Boston BP, what a powerful story of survival. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Trust me, God understands your pain and suffering and courage.

    So many Christians make the same mistake the Pharisees made, with their emphasis on adherence to their own interpretation of Scripture, with no understanding of the overall message of God’s love for us. Do what you feel is right, after letting God work His way in your life, and don’t worry what the preachers say.

  19. Boston BP, what a powerful story of survival. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Trust me, God understands your pain and suffering and courage.

    So many Christians make the same mistake the Pharisees made, with their emphasis on adherence to their own interpretation of Scripture, with no understanding of the overall message of God’s love for us. Do what you feel is right, after letting God work His way in your life, and don’t worry what the preachers say.

  20. Boston BP, what a powerful story of survival. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Trust me, God understands your pain and suffering and courage.

    So many Christians make the same mistake the Pharisees made, with their emphasis on adherence to their own interpretation of Scripture, with no understanding of the overall message of God’s love for us. Do what you feel is right, after letting God work His way in your life, and don’t worry what the preachers say.

  21. Thanks for the comments – I’m not going to be able to reply to everything that was said because there is a lot here.

    A general clarification. I am not saying, nor would I counsel anyone to stay in an abusive situation. Period. It could mean separation or it could mean divorce – I think it depends on the couple and the level of abuse, etc. But I certainly wouldn’t tell a wife to accept and take the abuse.

    My point about the phrase – “biblical grounds for divorce” is that it doesn’t exist. Jesus and Paul both deal with remarriage. Many people take that to mean justification for divorce and there have been times when marriages could have been salvaged (say like even after an affair), but because one felt justified to get a divorce they did.

    My caution is that we can get a divorce legally for a plethora of reasons, some good, some bad, but necessarily don’t think that your marriage covenant is dissolved in God’s eyes, hence the instruction on remarriage.

    Now like I said in my post – there could be instance where remarriage could later on become a possibility (like if your ex starts sleeping around or if he or she gets remarried).

    @BostonBP – you are right I wouldn’t stay in that situation. I didn’t say somebody couldn’t leave a marriage like that. It isn’t God’s desire that we divorce, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I’m not even saying you can’t get remarried, reading your story I believe that you could, but I would recommend counseling and healing first. I disagree with your assessment of the Bible, and it does have much to say about the downtrodden.

    Also, I wasn’t calling just you or just people who get a divorce hard-hearted. I’m hard-hearted, we all are.

    Perhaps the best solution to all of this is to be careful on the front-end. There are many who rush into marriage who shouldn’t. There are many who don’t get pre-marital counseling who should. There are some who don’t understand what a covenant means.

    Ultimately we need to start taking marriage as seriously as God does. If everybody did we’d see far less divorce, and far less spousal abuse as well.

  22. Thanks for the comments – I’m not going to be able to reply to everything that was said because there is a lot here.

    A general clarification. I am not saying, nor would I counsel anyone to stay in an abusive situation. Period. It could mean separation or it could mean divorce – I think it depends on the couple and the level of abuse, etc. But I certainly wouldn’t tell a wife to accept and take the abuse.

    My point about the phrase – “biblical grounds for divorce” is that it doesn’t exist. Jesus and Paul both deal with remarriage. Many people take that to mean justification for divorce and there have been times when marriages could have been salvaged (say like even after an affair), but because one felt justified to get a divorce they did.

    My caution is that we can get a divorce legally for a plethora of reasons, some good, some bad, but necessarily don’t think that your marriage covenant is dissolved in God’s eyes, hence the instruction on remarriage.

    Now like I said in my post – there could be instance where remarriage could later on become a possibility (like if your ex starts sleeping around or if he or she gets remarried).

    @BostonBP – you are right I wouldn’t stay in that situation. I didn’t say somebody couldn’t leave a marriage like that. It isn’t God’s desire that we divorce, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I’m not even saying you can’t get remarried, reading your story I believe that you could, but I would recommend counseling and healing first. I disagree with your assessment of the Bible, and it does have much to say about the downtrodden.

    Also, I wasn’t calling just you or just people who get a divorce hard-hearted. I’m hard-hearted, we all are.

    Perhaps the best solution to all of this is to be careful on the front-end. There are many who rush into marriage who shouldn’t. There are many who don’t get pre-marital counseling who should. There are some who don’t understand what a covenant means.

    Ultimately we need to start taking marriage as seriously as God does. If everybody did we’d see far less divorce, and far less spousal abuse as well.

  23. I like what John Piper said about Marriage. (This is not an exact quote) “All Marriges, Christian or not, can represent the relationship between Christ and the Church.” If you don’t have that at the forefront in your mind as a Christian or in the background of your psyche as someone who has no faith at all, then Marriage will be at the will if your feelings. As to physical abuse or aggrevated verbal abuse, there may be a case for seperation and couseling. You are Correct Shane in saying that we need to start taking marriage as seriously as God does. Shane, you are also correct in saying there are some who don’t understand what a covenant means. When we see or hear of abuse adultry and the like in a christian marrige, issues of true conversion pop up. Christians do fail and sin, but the issue of true conversion should be a big issue to the party or parties involved . Because the time we have is brief. Even if we live to a ripe old age. John Piper has a Great series on Marrige. You can go to desiringgod.org The Sermon Series was Febuary of 08″ or 07′ If the Church takes more seriously the call for true conversion, then when people enter into thier marriages, they will have an idea of what a covenant is.

  24. I like what John Piper said about Marriage. (This is not an exact quote) “All Marriges, Christian or not, can represent the relationship between Christ and the Church.” If you don’t have that at the forefront in your mind as a Christian or in the background of your psyche as someone who has no faith at all, then Marriage will be at the will if your feelings. As to physical abuse or aggrevated verbal abuse, there may be a case for seperation and couseling. You are Correct Shane in saying that we need to start taking marriage as seriously as God does. Shane, you are also correct in saying there are some who don’t understand what a covenant means. When we see or hear of abuse adultry and the like in a christian marrige, issues of true conversion pop up. Christians do fail and sin, but the issue of true conversion should be a big issue to the party or parties involved . Because the time we have is brief. Even if we live to a ripe old age. John Piper has a Great series on Marrige. You can go to desiringgod.org The Sermon Series was Febuary of 08″ or 07′ If the Church takes more seriously the call for true conversion, then when people enter into thier marriages, they will have an idea of what a covenant is.

  25. I like what John Piper said about Marriage. (This is not an exact quote) “All Marriges, Christian or not, can represent the relationship between Christ and the Church.” If you don’t have that at the forefront in your mind as a Christian or in the background of your psyche as someone who has no faith at all, then Marriage will be at the will if your feelings. As to physical abuse or aggrevated verbal abuse, there may be a case for seperation and couseling. You are Correct Shane in saying that we need to start taking marriage as seriously as God does. Shane, you are also correct in saying there are some who don’t understand what a covenant means. When we see or hear of abuse adultry and the like in a christian marrige, issues of true conversion pop up. Christians do fail and sin, but the issue of true conversion should be a big issue to the party or parties involved . Because the time we have is brief. Even if we live to a ripe old age. John Piper has a Great series on Marrige. You can go to desiringgod.org The Sermon Series was Febuary of 08″ or 07′ If the Church takes more seriously the call for true conversion, then when people enter into thier marriages, they will have an idea of what a covenant is.

  26. I find it very curious that people look at this one teaching of Jesus and think that here is the one time He tries to be more legalistic.

    God hates divorce, and He only allows it because of our sinful nature. In His eyes, yes, it’s all basically adultery. Much like looking at a woman with lust is adultery.

    (Full disclosure — My abusive wife divorced me. I have since married. Just so you know where I am in life.)

    I don’t think that Jesus was trying to spell out “grounds for divorce” or trying to tighten the legal standing of marriage. What He was trying to do was drive home the point that it matters, and that we are all fallen people living in a fallen world.

    Wickles last blog post..Are YOU in Blogapalooza?

  27. I find it very curious that people look at this one teaching of Jesus and think that here is the one time He tries to be more legalistic.

    God hates divorce, and He only allows it because of our sinful nature. In His eyes, yes, it’s all basically adultery. Much like looking at a woman with lust is adultery.

    (Full disclosure — My abusive wife divorced me. I have since married. Just so you know where I am in life.)

    I don’t think that Jesus was trying to spell out “grounds for divorce” or trying to tighten the legal standing of marriage. What He was trying to do was drive home the point that it matters, and that we are all fallen people living in a fallen world.

    Wickles last blog post..Are YOU in Blogapalooza?

  28. I find it very curious that people look at this one teaching of Jesus and think that here is the one time He tries to be more legalistic.

    God hates divorce, and He only allows it because of our sinful nature. In His eyes, yes, it’s all basically adultery. Much like looking at a woman with lust is adultery.

    (Full disclosure — My abusive wife divorced me. I have since married. Just so you know where I am in life.)

    I don’t think that Jesus was trying to spell out “grounds for divorce” or trying to tighten the legal standing of marriage. What He was trying to do was drive home the point that it matters, and that we are all fallen people living in a fallen world.

    Wickles last blog post..Are YOU in Blogapalooza?

  29. Great points BP Boston – and what a horrific story – I truly hope the best for you in your life…but you have opened a whole can of ideas that we usually do not address with divorce and re-marriage (thanks for that).

    In your case, as you have laid out, I am not sure anyone would hold you to some vows the other side of the marriage struggles keeping (or has broken numerous times to your detriment). I think in cases like this divorce has to be the option – for your safety and security. As for re-marriage – no one can decide that but you.

    I think you make a good point about how we Christians treat this issue – and yes – we come off quite self-righteous about it (sometimes we have it good and we don’t realize that – and we use a teaching like this quite insensitively). I would like to say ‘I am sorry’ if this teaching has bothered you in any way – and the best I can do is treat others with more care and concern – and not get locked into dogmatic struggles for terminology that do not mean as much as one human life.

  30. Great points BP Boston – and what a horrific story – I truly hope the best for you in your life…but you have opened a whole can of ideas that we usually do not address with divorce and re-marriage (thanks for that).

    In your case, as you have laid out, I am not sure anyone would hold you to some vows the other side of the marriage struggles keeping (or has broken numerous times to your detriment). I think in cases like this divorce has to be the option – for your safety and security. As for re-marriage – no one can decide that but you.

    I think you make a good point about how we Christians treat this issue – and yes – we come off quite self-righteous about it (sometimes we have it good and we don’t realize that – and we use a teaching like this quite insensitively). I would like to say ‘I am sorry’ if this teaching has bothered you in any way – and the best I can do is treat others with more care and concern – and not get locked into dogmatic struggles for terminology that do not mean as much as one human life.

  31. Great points BP Boston – and what a horrific story – I truly hope the best for you in your life…but you have opened a whole can of ideas that we usually do not address with divorce and re-marriage (thanks for that).

    In your case, as you have laid out, I am not sure anyone would hold you to some vows the other side of the marriage struggles keeping (or has broken numerous times to your detriment). I think in cases like this divorce has to be the option – for your safety and security. As for re-marriage – no one can decide that but you.

    I think you make a good point about how we Christians treat this issue – and yes – we come off quite self-righteous about it (sometimes we have it good and we don’t realize that – and we use a teaching like this quite insensitively). I would like to say ‘I am sorry’ if this teaching has bothered you in any way – and the best I can do is treat others with more care and concern – and not get locked into dogmatic struggles for terminology that do not mean as much as one human life.

  32. @M.Hovda – John Piper does bring up a good point, just another reason to take marriage seriously.

    @Wickle – I agree Jesus’ wasn’t surrounding this issue with legalism, but rather pointing out the seriousness of the marriage covenant, affirming what was taught to us in Genesis. I think to some in His original audience this would be a “tightening” because some schools of thought then, just like now, would have people find the most asinine reasons to divorce their wives.

    Also another point is that this teaching was revolutionary in that it addressed both males and females. Typically it was the men who would go get a certificate of divorce, and women were often victimized as a result. So this protects women as well – see the link to the sermon I did on this topic. I go more into depth in it there.

    @SocietyVs – my heart goes out to BostonBP. She has obviously been victimized and I do wish the best for her. I understand that this topic can be very, very emotionally charged. I’m not going to make any assumptions about her situation. I believe what Jesus and Paul teach are sound and loving. One thing that I am not saying is that God’s grace doesn’t apply to those who divorce (and even remarry). It does.

    To all – again my challenge is that we look seriously at how we prepare people for marriage. There are some who rush into marriage and don’t know a thing about the person they say they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Others have not a clue about what it means to enter into a covenant and don’t see marriage this way. Others don’t believe vows are meant to be kept. So often people spend so much time, effort and money on the wedding that they don’t adequately prepare themselves for the marriage.

  33. @M.Hovda – John Piper does bring up a good point, just another reason to take marriage seriously.

    @Wickle – I agree Jesus’ wasn’t surrounding this issue with legalism, but rather pointing out the seriousness of the marriage covenant, affirming what was taught to us in Genesis. I think to some in His original audience this would be a “tightening” because some schools of thought then, just like now, would have people find the most asinine reasons to divorce their wives.

    Also another point is that this teaching was revolutionary in that it addressed both males and females. Typically it was the men who would go get a certificate of divorce, and women were often victimized as a result. So this protects women as well – see the link to the sermon I did on this topic. I go more into depth in it there.

    @SocietyVs – my heart goes out to BostonBP. She has obviously been victimized and I do wish the best for her. I understand that this topic can be very, very emotionally charged. I’m not going to make any assumptions about her situation. I believe what Jesus and Paul teach are sound and loving. One thing that I am not saying is that God’s grace doesn’t apply to those who divorce (and even remarry). It does.

    To all – again my challenge is that we look seriously at how we prepare people for marriage. There are some who rush into marriage and don’t know a thing about the person they say they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Others have not a clue about what it means to enter into a covenant and don’t see marriage this way. Others don’t believe vows are meant to be kept. So often people spend so much time, effort and money on the wedding that they don’t adequately prepare themselves for the marriage.

  34. @M.Hovda – John Piper does bring up a good point, just another reason to take marriage seriously.

    @Wickle – I agree Jesus’ wasn’t surrounding this issue with legalism, but rather pointing out the seriousness of the marriage covenant, affirming what was taught to us in Genesis. I think to some in His original audience this would be a “tightening” because some schools of thought then, just like now, would have people find the most asinine reasons to divorce their wives.

    Also another point is that this teaching was revolutionary in that it addressed both males and females. Typically it was the men who would go get a certificate of divorce, and women were often victimized as a result. So this protects women as well – see the link to the sermon I did on this topic. I go more into depth in it there.

    @SocietyVs – my heart goes out to BostonBP. She has obviously been victimized and I do wish the best for her. I understand that this topic can be very, very emotionally charged. I’m not going to make any assumptions about her situation. I believe what Jesus and Paul teach are sound and loving. One thing that I am not saying is that God’s grace doesn’t apply to those who divorce (and even remarry). It does.

    To all – again my challenge is that we look seriously at how we prepare people for marriage. There are some who rush into marriage and don’t know a thing about the person they say they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Others have not a clue about what it means to enter into a covenant and don’t see marriage this way. Others don’t believe vows are meant to be kept. So often people spend so much time, effort and money on the wedding that they don’t adequately prepare themselves for the marriage.

  35. So what is abandonment? How many years does a man have to put up with the wife saying “no” before he can step out?

  36. So what is abandonment? How many years does a man have to put up with the wife saying “no” before he can step out?

  37. So what is abandonment? How many years does a man have to put up with the wife saying “no” before he can step out?

  38. JM – abandonment mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7 is dealing with the physical abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.

    A man is never justified to “step out” because his sexual needs are not being met. That doesn’t excuse the wife’s conduct either. I have found that these matters are pretty complex and there are issues on both sides (why is she saying no? How is the husband approaching the topic of sex?). I would recommend counseling for both.

  39. JM – abandonment mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7 is dealing with the physical abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.

    A man is never justified to “step out” because his sexual needs are not being met. That doesn’t excuse the wife’s conduct either. I have found that these matters are pretty complex and there are issues on both sides (why is she saying no? How is the husband approaching the topic of sex?). I would recommend counseling for both.

  40. JM – abandonment mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7 is dealing with the physical abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.

    A man is never justified to “step out” because his sexual needs are not being met. That doesn’t excuse the wife’s conduct either. I have found that these matters are pretty complex and there are issues on both sides (why is she saying no? How is the husband approaching the topic of sex?). I would recommend counseling for both.

  41. Interesting. If I had stayed married, I and probably my two children would have been dead long ago and my ex-husband would have been in jail for murder or dead by suicide. I barely got away with my life as it was and 18 years later I still have daily pain from spinal injuries from abuse. If this is the will of God then God is evil.

  42. Interesting. If I had stayed married, I and probably my two children would have been dead long ago and my ex-husband would have been in jail for murder or dead by suicide. I barely got away with my life as it was and 18 years later I still have daily pain from spinal injuries from abuse. If this is the will of God then God is evil.

  43. Interesting. If I had stayed married, I and probably my two children would have been dead long ago and my ex-husband would have been in jail for murder or dead by suicide. I barely got away with my life as it was and 18 years later I still have daily pain from spinal injuries from abuse. If this is the will of God then God is evil.

  44. Diane – that isn’t what I said. Please read the post carefully. I said that Jesus’ teachings on divorce centered around mainly remarriage.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. It is certainly not God’s will for you to be abused or your kids to be abused.

    I in no way would advocate somebody who is being abused to stay in that situation. I said as much in the post too.

  45. Diane – that isn’t what I said. Please read the post carefully. I said that Jesus’ teachings on divorce centered around mainly remarriage.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. It is certainly not God’s will for you to be abused or your kids to be abused.

    I in no way would advocate somebody who is being abused to stay in that situation. I said as much in the post too.

  46. Diane – that isn’t what I said. Please read the post carefully. I said that Jesus’ teachings on divorce centered around mainly remarriage.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. It is certainly not God’s will for you to be abused or your kids to be abused.

    I in no way would advocate somebody who is being abused to stay in that situation. I said as much in the post too.

  47. Shane,

    But you are saying that people in extremely horrible circumstances should stay alone the rest of their lives. I tried to resolve marital problems for years and went through multiple counselors before I finally left after being strangled. And since I divorced, I have stayed alone for 18 years. Now I’m questioning this whole belief system that says I should remain alone the rest of my life. I’ve been celebate longer than most nuns! Why should I continue to be alone?

  48. Shane,

    But you are saying that people in extremely horrible circumstances should stay alone the rest of their lives. I tried to resolve marital problems for years and went through multiple counselors before I finally left after being strangled. And since I divorced, I have stayed alone for 18 years. Now I’m questioning this whole belief system that says I should remain alone the rest of my life. I’ve been celebate longer than most nuns! Why should I continue to be alone?

  49. Shane,

    But you are saying that people in extremely horrible circumstances should stay alone the rest of their lives. I tried to resolve marital problems for years and went through multiple counselors before I finally left after being strangled. And since I divorced, I have stayed alone for 18 years. Now I’m questioning this whole belief system that says I should remain alone the rest of my life. I’ve been celebate longer than most nuns! Why should I continue to be alone?

  50. Not necessarily Diane. If your ex remarries or doesn’t stay celibate after the divorce then reconciliation isn’t possible. He has committed adultery, and according to Matthew 5 you can remarry. I’m sure there are other circumstances as well. One could argue abandonment (1 Corinthians 7) particularly if he wasn’t a Christian. I am presenting what we see in scripture, but how it is applied will be different in each case.

    So my comments are not really directed toward a situation like yours. Reconciliation wasn’t possible with your husband (you tried!) you had to be safe. You didn’t go get remarried right away.

    Anyway, I realize that there are gray issues involved in a potential remarriage situation.

    My main concern are those who divorce in situations where the marriage could have been salvaged and then think they are free to remarry.

  51. Not necessarily Diane. If your ex remarries or doesn’t stay celibate after the divorce then reconciliation isn’t possible. He has committed adultery, and according to Matthew 5 you can remarry. I’m sure there are other circumstances as well. One could argue abandonment (1 Corinthians 7) particularly if he wasn’t a Christian. I am presenting what we see in scripture, but how it is applied will be different in each case.

    So my comments are not really directed toward a situation like yours. Reconciliation wasn’t possible with your husband (you tried!) you had to be safe. You didn’t go get remarried right away.

    Anyway, I realize that there are gray issues involved in a potential remarriage situation.

    My main concern are those who divorce in situations where the marriage could have been salvaged and then think they are free to remarry.

  52. This is definitely a touche subject and one that can be so hard for those involved. Especially, if you are the spouse of an abuser or adulterer. I am not sure what I want to say on this subject, but I can tell you this …

    I remained with my former husband far longer than I should have. He was abusive to me physically and mentally. I “toughed” it out because I loved him and because I did not want to get a divorce. I didn’t want to dishonor God. That was my thinking.

    I started having dreams that he was going to kill me. I even felt, at times, that God was warning me that he was going to kill me. I am not a meak little woman. I will defend myself even against a man … and have done so in the past. But, I wouldn’t fight him. I always had that voice telling me to just walk away, that if I fought him back he would end my life.

    I ended up letting him move out. He wanted to and I felt it was best, but we remained “married” just in seperate households. He would come home and stay a day or two and then leave again and it seemed to make it easier to live in my marriage.

    I wanted to end it. I wanted to just walk away. I suspected he was cheating on me, but I could not prove it. He was drinking and using drugs. He was so mean to me. But, I held on. I did not want a failed marriage. I figured that if I just stuck it out, then God would bless me and he would change one day.

    Then one morning my youngest child told me that he had sexually touched her the night before. My whole world came to a shuddering halt. Come to find out … he had been molesting all three of my children. If had left a year earlier … when he first hit me … he would have never had a chance to molest my kids.

    I divorced him and I am remarried. God has given me a wonderful godly husband who loves the Lord, me, and my kids. We have a new baby and we both believe marriage is supposed to be until death do you part. But, we are also both Christians striving to obey His Word and live for Him. Big difference.

    My former husband claimed to believe in God, but believed Christ the son of God like he was the son of God and you are the son of God. He lived for himself and himself alone.

    Angels last blog post..Mixed Greens

  53. This is definitely a touche subject and one that can be so hard for those involved. Especially, if you are the spouse of an abuser or adulterer. I am not sure what I want to say on this subject, but I can tell you this …

    I remained with my former husband far longer than I should have. He was abusive to me physically and mentally. I “toughed” it out because I loved him and because I did not want to get a divorce. I didn’t want to dishonor God. That was my thinking.

    I started having dreams that he was going to kill me. I even felt, at times, that God was warning me that he was going to kill me. I am not a meak little woman. I will defend myself even against a man … and have done so in the past. But, I wouldn’t fight him. I always had that voice telling me to just walk away, that if I fought him back he would end my life.

    I ended up letting him move out. He wanted to and I felt it was best, but we remained “married” just in seperate households. He would come home and stay a day or two and then leave again and it seemed to make it easier to live in my marriage.

    I wanted to end it. I wanted to just walk away. I suspected he was cheating on me, but I could not prove it. He was drinking and using drugs. He was so mean to me. But, I held on. I did not want a failed marriage. I figured that if I just stuck it out, then God would bless me and he would change one day.

    Then one morning my youngest child told me that he had sexually touched her the night before. My whole world came to a shuddering halt. Come to find out … he had been molesting all three of my children. If had left a year earlier … when he first hit me … he would have never had a chance to molest my kids.

    I divorced him and I am remarried. God has given me a wonderful godly husband who loves the Lord, me, and my kids. We have a new baby and we both believe marriage is supposed to be until death do you part. But, we are also both Christians striving to obey His Word and live for Him. Big difference.

    My former husband claimed to believe in God, but believed Christ the son of God like he was the son of God and you are the son of God. He lived for himself and himself alone.

    Angels last blog post..Mixed Greens

  54. This is definitely a touche subject and one that can be so hard for those involved. Especially, if you are the spouse of an abuser or adulterer. I am not sure what I want to say on this subject, but I can tell you this …

    I remained with my former husband far longer than I should have. He was abusive to me physically and mentally. I “toughed” it out because I loved him and because I did not want to get a divorce. I didn’t want to dishonor God. That was my thinking.

    I started having dreams that he was going to kill me. I even felt, at times, that God was warning me that he was going to kill me. I am not a meak little woman. I will defend myself even against a man … and have done so in the past. But, I wouldn’t fight him. I always had that voice telling me to just walk away, that if I fought him back he would end my life.

    I ended up letting him move out. He wanted to and I felt it was best, but we remained “married” just in seperate households. He would come home and stay a day or two and then leave again and it seemed to make it easier to live in my marriage.

    I wanted to end it. I wanted to just walk away. I suspected he was cheating on me, but I could not prove it. He was drinking and using drugs. He was so mean to me. But, I held on. I did not want a failed marriage. I figured that if I just stuck it out, then God would bless me and he would change one day.

    Then one morning my youngest child told me that he had sexually touched her the night before. My whole world came to a shuddering halt. Come to find out … he had been molesting all three of my children. If had left a year earlier … when he first hit me … he would have never had a chance to molest my kids.

    I divorced him and I am remarried. God has given me a wonderful godly husband who loves the Lord, me, and my kids. We have a new baby and we both believe marriage is supposed to be until death do you part. But, we are also both Christians striving to obey His Word and live for Him. Big difference.

    My former husband claimed to believe in God, but believed Christ the son of God like he was the son of God and you are the son of God. He lived for himself and himself alone.

    Angels last blog post..Mixed Greens

  55. Frankly, after this discussion I remembered exactly why I don’t want anymore relationships. In a way it’s better to be lonely and safe.

  56. Frankly, after this discussion I remembered exactly why I don’t want anymore relationships. In a way it’s better to be lonely and safe.

  57. Frankly, after this discussion I remembered exactly why I don’t want anymore relationships. In a way it’s better to be lonely and safe.

  58. Actually, all this reminded me of why I don’t believe in the Bible. I think I understand exactly what you’re saying Shane, and it’s cruel. “If he/she is beating you or otherwise abusing you or your children, then by all means leave. But you’ll have to live without a loving, HEALTHY partner until your jerk of a husband either dies or has sex with someone else.”

    Yeah. I think I get it. And yet divorced people are accepted as full church members–without being harangued constantly about reconciling with their exes–but Christian gays have to stay on the outside and hope they are “cured.”

    But stay on this legalist tear–I’m sure it draws people to the church in droves.

  59. Actually, all this reminded me of why I don’t believe in the Bible. I think I understand exactly what you’re saying Shane, and it’s cruel. “If he/she is beating you or otherwise abusing you or your children, then by all means leave. But you’ll have to live without a loving, HEALTHY partner until your jerk of a husband either dies or has sex with someone else.”

    Yeah. I think I get it. And yet divorced people are accepted as full church members–without being harangued constantly about reconciling with their exes–but Christian gays have to stay on the outside and hope they are “cured.”

    But stay on this legalist tear–I’m sure it draws people to the church in droves.

  60. Actually, all this reminded me of why I don’t believe in the Bible. I think I understand exactly what you’re saying Shane, and it’s cruel. “If he/she is beating you or otherwise abusing you or your children, then by all means leave. But you’ll have to live without a loving, HEALTHY partner until your jerk of a husband either dies or has sex with someone else.”

    Yeah. I think I get it. And yet divorced people are accepted as full church members–without being harangued constantly about reconciling with their exes–but Christian gays have to stay on the outside and hope they are “cured.”

    But stay on this legalist tear–I’m sure it draws people to the church in droves.

  61. Kristi – you not believing the Bible is your choice. I however am not free to interpret the Bible to have say something it doesn’t just to make people happy.

    I think divorce is taken too lightly by many people inside the church and out. There is grace, there are gray issues. I can’t possibly discuss every single circumstance that may be involved.

    Let’s be honest though, most divorces occur for the lamest of reasons. That is what I’m most concerned about.

    Homosexuals are welcome within my church and many others, but I’m not going to affirm their lifestyle, just like I wouldn’t affirm the lifestyle of a drug addict or dealer, a guy addicted to porn, somebody involved in adultery, or somebody who constantly cheats and steals.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t love them, but loving them doesn’t mean telling them that their lifestyle is ok – actually I think that would be hateful.

    We also teach the grace, love and forgiveness that is available to people through a relationship with Jesus Christ as well. People need to experience this first before their lives will change.

    Churches that teach this are the ones that are growing.

    You are free to disagree with me though.

  62. Kristi – you not believing the Bible is your choice. I however am not free to interpret the Bible to have say something it doesn’t just to make people happy.

    I think divorce is taken too lightly by many people inside the church and out. There is grace, there are gray issues. I can’t possibly discuss every single circumstance that may be involved.

    Let’s be honest though, most divorces occur for the lamest of reasons. That is what I’m most concerned about.

    Homosexuals are welcome within my church and many others, but I’m not going to affirm their lifestyle, just like I wouldn’t affirm the lifestyle of a drug addict or dealer, a guy addicted to porn, somebody involved in adultery, or somebody who constantly cheats and steals.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t love them, but loving them doesn’t mean telling them that their lifestyle is ok – actually I think that would be hateful.

    We also teach the grace, love and forgiveness that is available to people through a relationship with Jesus Christ as well. People need to experience this first before their lives will change.

    Churches that teach this are the ones that are growing.

    You are free to disagree with me though.

  63. Kristi – you not believing the Bible is your choice. I however am not free to interpret the Bible to have say something it doesn’t just to make people happy.

    I think divorce is taken too lightly by many people inside the church and out. There is grace, there are gray issues. I can’t possibly discuss every single circumstance that may be involved.

    Let’s be honest though, most divorces occur for the lamest of reasons. That is what I’m most concerned about.

    Homosexuals are welcome within my church and many others, but I’m not going to affirm their lifestyle, just like I wouldn’t affirm the lifestyle of a drug addict or dealer, a guy addicted to porn, somebody involved in adultery, or somebody who constantly cheats and steals.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t love them, but loving them doesn’t mean telling them that their lifestyle is ok – actually I think that would be hateful.

    We also teach the grace, love and forgiveness that is available to people through a relationship with Jesus Christ as well. People need to experience this first before their lives will change.

    Churches that teach this are the ones that are growing.

    You are free to disagree with me though.

  64. First of all, comparing gays to drug addicts, porn addicts, and adulterers is contemptible. Why don’t you just agree with Rick Warren that their also pedophiles? And yet you claim you love these people?

    I just want to make sure that you’re consistent on this. I want to know why all this tough love is so inconsistent. Divorcees are Sunday School teachers, Deacons, Elders in the church–anything they want to be. Yet most of these divorcees DO NOT fit into your neat little interpretation of “okay” divorce. Have they repented of their divorce and returned to their spouses–the ones, that is, who haven’t committed adultery or abandonment? Because I’m betting that the vast majority of divorced people in the church fit that category. Yet they don’t have to grovel at the feet of evangelicals to be full, accepted MEMBERS of the church. And since the rate of divorce among evangelicals is the same as that of non-evangelicals, I think maybe…just maybe…this is hypocrisy for all you bible-believin’ folks.

    I grew up in the church. I had a happy childhood with an honest, caring, faithful Baptist pastor dad. I’m not a wounded person who left because I got my feelings hurt. I left because the “hate the sin, love the sinner” meme is a lie. The fact that you think affirming what is natural to a homosexual is hateful. Acceptance is hateful? Affirming what is natural, even if you don’t understand it, is hateful? The fact is you don’t love them–you like them a lot but think their lifestyle is sinful.

    But I’m willing to bet you genuinely love the people you know who are divorced. Yet the Bible is full of how God hates divorce. Is there a scripture that says God hates homosexuality? Cause I missed that one. And I think “God hates” is more pointed than an Old Testament abomination.

    Yes, I’m free to disagree with you, and I do. It’s a shame that only some sinners are allowed to do that. I guess the others have to hope they’ll come to agree with you so that they can actually experience that love you claim you have for them.

  65. First of all, comparing gays to drug addicts, porn addicts, and adulterers is contemptible. Why don’t you just agree with Rick Warren that their also pedophiles? And yet you claim you love these people?

    I just want to make sure that you’re consistent on this. I want to know why all this tough love is so inconsistent. Divorcees are Sunday School teachers, Deacons, Elders in the church–anything they want to be. Yet most of these divorcees DO NOT fit into your neat little interpretation of “okay” divorce. Have they repented of their divorce and returned to their spouses–the ones, that is, who haven’t committed adultery or abandonment? Because I’m betting that the vast majority of divorced people in the church fit that category. Yet they don’t have to grovel at the feet of evangelicals to be full, accepted MEMBERS of the church. And since the rate of divorce among evangelicals is the same as that of non-evangelicals, I think maybe…just maybe…this is hypocrisy for all you bible-believin’ folks.

    I grew up in the church. I had a happy childhood with an honest, caring, faithful Baptist pastor dad. I’m not a wounded person who left because I got my feelings hurt. I left because the “hate the sin, love the sinner” meme is a lie. The fact that you think affirming what is natural to a homosexual is hateful. Acceptance is hateful? Affirming what is natural, even if you don’t understand it, is hateful? The fact is you don’t love them–you like them a lot but think their lifestyle is sinful.

    But I’m willing to bet you genuinely love the people you know who are divorced. Yet the Bible is full of how God hates divorce. Is there a scripture that says God hates homosexuality? Cause I missed that one. And I think “God hates” is more pointed than an Old Testament abomination.

    Yes, I’m free to disagree with you, and I do. It’s a shame that only some sinners are allowed to do that. I guess the others have to hope they’ll come to agree with you so that they can actually experience that love you claim you have for them.

  66. First of all, comparing gays to drug addicts, porn addicts, and adulterers is contemptible. Why don’t you just agree with Rick Warren that their also pedophiles? And yet you claim you love these people?

    I just want to make sure that you’re consistent on this. I want to know why all this tough love is so inconsistent. Divorcees are Sunday School teachers, Deacons, Elders in the church–anything they want to be. Yet most of these divorcees DO NOT fit into your neat little interpretation of “okay” divorce. Have they repented of their divorce and returned to their spouses–the ones, that is, who haven’t committed adultery or abandonment? Because I’m betting that the vast majority of divorced people in the church fit that category. Yet they don’t have to grovel at the feet of evangelicals to be full, accepted MEMBERS of the church. And since the rate of divorce among evangelicals is the same as that of non-evangelicals, I think maybe…just maybe…this is hypocrisy for all you bible-believin’ folks.

    I grew up in the church. I had a happy childhood with an honest, caring, faithful Baptist pastor dad. I’m not a wounded person who left because I got my feelings hurt. I left because the “hate the sin, love the sinner” meme is a lie. The fact that you think affirming what is natural to a homosexual is hateful. Acceptance is hateful? Affirming what is natural, even if you don’t understand it, is hateful? The fact is you don’t love them–you like them a lot but think their lifestyle is sinful.

    But I’m willing to bet you genuinely love the people you know who are divorced. Yet the Bible is full of how God hates divorce. Is there a scripture that says God hates homosexuality? Cause I missed that one. And I think “God hates” is more pointed than an Old Testament abomination.

    Yes, I’m free to disagree with you, and I do. It’s a shame that only some sinners are allowed to do that. I guess the others have to hope they’ll come to agree with you so that they can actually experience that love you claim you have for them.

  67. God hates sin, not people and it is a Old Testament and New Testament concept.

    Kristi, I am not happy about the evangelical divorce rate, which by the way, is who this post is mainly directed at. You imply that some reason I wink at this problem, I don’t. I have seen to much pain and turmoil that comes from divorce. I’ve worked with too many kids who are suffering as a result of divorce. I think far too often people divorce for the lamest of reasons, evangelicals included, most divorces are not a result of abandonment, adultery, abuse, etc.

    I’m not sure why this post suddenly became about homosexuality. But it seems to me that it must not be possible in your world to love people with whom you disagree. I can do that, and do it all of the time. Actually last time I checked that is what the word tolerance actually meant.

    Kristi – there are a lot of things that come natural to me that are just as sinful if I give into them. That argument doesn’t wash. I admit also there are people who do not love the sinner, I just don’t happen to be one of them.

  68. God hates sin, not people and it is a Old Testament and New Testament concept.

    Kristi, I am not happy about the evangelical divorce rate, which by the way, is who this post is mainly directed at. You imply that some reason I wink at this problem, I don’t. I have seen to much pain and turmoil that comes from divorce. I’ve worked with too many kids who are suffering as a result of divorce. I think far too often people divorce for the lamest of reasons, evangelicals included, most divorces are not a result of abandonment, adultery, abuse, etc.

    I’m not sure why this post suddenly became about homosexuality. But it seems to me that it must not be possible in your world to love people with whom you disagree. I can do that, and do it all of the time. Actually last time I checked that is what the word tolerance actually meant.

    Kristi – there are a lot of things that come natural to me that are just as sinful if I give into them. That argument doesn’t wash. I admit also there are people who do not love the sinner, I just don’t happen to be one of them.

  69. Dear Boston BP,

    My heart goes out to you. Within 24 hours of my marriage I knew my husband was addicted to crack cocaine. Within 2 days of my marriage he was arrested for disturbing the peace (threatening my dad after we questioned him about stealing $4000 from my bank account).
    I can go on with my story, for which he has been served divorce papers within a week of our marriage.
    Sadly, the courts do not recognize this as grounds for annullment (he also has a 20 yr, criminal history with police has since informed me of for my own safety).
    Even though the courts recognize this as a marriage I do not. Not in my heart.
    He broke his vow to me before I ever broke any vow to him, to love honor and cherish …love delights in the truth (his lies are numerous)
    I know Jesus is the friend of a wounded heart, and if he saw me he would neither condemn me, but rather congratulate me for saving a life, my own
    (go to crack reality.com on the internet).
    Much love to you and all my sisters whose “Prince Charming” was no prince at all. The most loving and helpful thing to do is to leave in this situation and hope they can find their “rock bottom” to regain their life. That's hard to understand.

    God is near to the broken hearted. My best to you.
    tj

  70. My husband is verbally and emotionally abusive to me, he is cruel and tells me to go to hell almost everyday. He has anger issues and tells me this is his house and he is not going anywhere. He keeps all the money, tells me what I can and can't say to our small group, the control and intimidation everyday are very hard to live with. I had to leave for my own safety, when he yells at me he comes toward me, I can't take the mind games anymore. I moved out, the next morning he is registered on a dating website. I wish he would divorce me, I know what the Bible says but God never intented love to be this painful.

  71. You're right that God desires us to stay with our spouse forever, there are biblical examples of divorce like at Mt 5:31 and in 19:9 it clearly states that the only ground for divorce is adultery.Sadly though, very few are keeping this arrangement:(

  72. Dear Boston BP…

    Wow… first let me say that I am sorry, on so many levels… especially on behalf of those who have clearly been critical of you. The Bible does say those things, but its the way they are interpreted that causes the problem. We need to look through God's eyes in situations like this, not through our own rose colored glasses of what we think reality should be. Does God hate divorce? Yes, but He hates abuse even more. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am divorced, and I am also a Christian. My heart goes out to you… and I want you to know that I believe with all my heart, that God is MORE interested in a personal relationship with His Child, than He is concerned with the institution of marriage. Some will judge me for that, but most of the judgment will undoubtedly come from those who are in seemingly secure, committed and faithful relationships. I'm glad you survived, but know one thing: you never walked alone. You may not realize it, but you are “more than an overcomer, by the Blood of The Lamb… and the word of your testimony, loving not your life (even unto death).” Rev 12:11 The Word of God can be used as a weapon of destruction, or a tool of instruction. I feel for you. I have a personal message for you, if you email me. There was no way for me to contact you on this thing. I was just surfing the net and felt compelled to reply to you. You have a purpose and God has a plan, and this is why you survived. Never forget that. Cindy ( [email protected] )

  73. Cindy, the point of this post was not to hammer people who have had a divorce.

    I don't think presenting what the Bible says is looking through rose colored glasses though. And I did say no one should have to stay in an abusive relationship.

    BTW, you are taking Rev. 12:11 – it's talking about martyrs.

    Obviously there is grace. Most divorce is not a result of abuse however, it's usually a whole litany of reasons that basically point to our tendency toward selfishness.

    I meant this to be a tool for instruction.

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