“My husband only works when he feels like it. For six to seven months out of the year he refuses to work on his business… he does nothing but play video games. This leaves me with the majority of the financial burden when he is in no mood to work for months on end. He asks his brother for money when I have used all my resources to pay the rent and there are utilities and groceries needed…
So my question is this: If my husband continues to refuse to provide for his family, to habitually deny me sex for no legitimate reason, to refuse to make provision for the possibility of children of our own, and continues to be emotionally abusive, do I have a right to, One: Divorce him on biblical grounds, and Two: Remarry without being presumed an “adulteress” someday?”
This is part of an email I received from a Christian wife who wants to go by the name of “Aria”.
A lot of my posts deal with the evils of feminism and in truth I believe it is a much larger problem in our society than the issue with men that we will discuss here. But just as God hates rebellion in women he also hates laziness in men. So while the problem of deadbeat husbands may not be as great as the problem of unsubmissive wives in our modern culture it is still a problem that we as Christians must address.
I have received several emails like this from women over the last year and I feel it is time to start to share more of their stories so that other women will know that that God does not expect women to be trapped with deadbeat husbands.
But before we continue with Aria’s story though we need to define what I mean by a “deadbeat husband”.
A deadbeat husband is a man who refuses to fulfill any one of these 3 minimal requirements of marriage that God requires of all husbands toward their wives:
“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
The new testament also reinforces this principle of these requirements of husband toward his wife when the Apostle Paul states:
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” – Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
The word “nourisheth” has the idea of feeding or providing for and “cherisheth” is not a romantic term as we now think of it but has the idea of protection.
So if a husband refuses to provide food, clothing (also shelter) and sex to his wife she may be free of such a man in divorce.
Now that we have defined what a deadbeat husband is from a Biblical perspective now we will look at Aria’s story.
I have come across your blog recently in a search for answers to my biggest questions concerning wanting to divorce my husband. I will be as straightforward and matter of fact as possible as to my circumstances and my reasons for wanting out of the marriage.
A little background:
I grew up as the daughter of a minister who, despite leaving the ministry in a professional capacity, still taught and studied, abundantly, the Bible, and the works of Spurgeon, Sproul, MacArthur, Calvin, Luther, etc. I lived with my parents until I was 27. My mother was/is an extremely domineering, psychologically abusive woman, who ruled our home and my father with an iron fist. I lived in fear of her for thirty years. I was always taught that a woman should remain under her father’s authority until he gave her away in marriage, however, I saw the situation as being flipped on its head; my father being ruled by an unruly and unstable woman, and allowing it to happen. I did not feel safe nor did I feel my father had any real authority. I left that home at 27 and continued to date my husband-to-be. My family disowned me.
I married my husband 6 years ago when I was 28 and he was 39. We dated for about little over a year. We are both professing Christians. We had a Christian wedding. My husband was divorced. His wife cheated for two years, he refused to divorce her, and she, in turn, finally, divorced him – that is what I know of the story from his side only. I have, since being married, heard, second hand, that he was impossible to live with and lazy. They were 7 and 9 (boy and girl, respectively) when we married.
My husband promised to have his vasectomy reversed and for us to begin having children one year into the marriage, which he soon declared after that I had agreed to 3 years (which I did not).
These are the issues I am dealing with currently:
My husband only works when he feels like it. For six to seven months out of the year he refuses to work on his business blaming it on it being “the slow season” – so he does nothing but play video games. This leaves me with the majority of the financial burden when he is in no mood to work for months on end. He asks his brother for money when I have used all my resources to pay the rent and there are utilities and groceries needed.
My husband is irresponsible with money. He spends money on games for his PlayStation 4 and XBOX ONE (and yes he has both) before/instead of paying the bills. I have tried to be his help meet in this area going out and getting a full time job of my own. I have no issues with the income he brings in, however, it is gone by mid fall, and I am left with supporting the family from October to March or April of every year. He even got angry with me for getting us each life insurance policies, both of which I pay for myself.
My husband refuses to have his vasectomy reversed, and I am now 33 and am losing my childbearing years at an alarming rate. I am being denied the ability to be a mother. He has not kept his word about getting the reversal after the first year that we both agreed on before marriage. He promises me every year that he will get it done. We are now halfway into our sixth year of marriage.
My husband refuses to lead spiritually. I have expressed that I would like him to, but we don’t attend church together, and he only does a devotion with me if I ask him to. He has no desire to attend church or lead his family in a biblical way. He attended church regularly in his first marriage and while we were dating, so I did not see this coming.
My husband habitually denies me sexual relations for no legitimate reason whatsoever. (I am well within a healthy BMI, I have been a model, and am frequently asked to model. I have very good hygiene, am regularly groomed and shaved, dress well every day, and do my best to present well – this is not a brag, it is to say that there are no physical obstacles as to why I should not be pursued. In fact, he told me early on that I was his ideal woman, but that he would not tell me how beautiful I am so that I would not get a big head.)
I don’t know what you believe about psychological abuse, but I constantly feel manipulated, and am lied to regularly about everything from finances to when we are going to have children to what he may have told me two minutes prior. I feel the withholding of sex is just another way to try to create an insecurity and doubt within myself about whether I am worthy or not.
I moved out nearly five months ago, leaving him with the understanding that I would file for divorce by the end of this year if he did not have his finances in order, continued to refuse to get a vasectomy reversal, he continued to deny me sex, and refused to get counseling with me. I am completely self-sustaining, and he is in no way financially responsible for me at this time – but I have gone without many things I am in need of for it.
I have done my part caring for his children, being sexually available (and pursuant, despite continual rejection and verbal shaming for wanting sex), being a partner to him, keeping the house in order, respecting him and his decision-making to the best of my ability, and taking care of myself while he remains overweight, etc.
So, apart from how all of this causes me to feel worthless in his eyes, I am more concerned with what is the right thing to do under these circumstances. I believe he has not been a husband to me in any sense of the word. And, honestly, I waver, as I was taught, my entire life, that you only divorce when your husband has physically “cheated” on you, or if he is beating you and will not get help and repent. I was also taught, if you do divorce for any reason other than physical infidelity, you cannot remarry and will be considered an adulteress.
So my question is this: If my husband continues to refuse to provide for his family, to habitually deny me sex for no legitimate reason, to refuse to make provision for the possibility of children of our own, and continues to be emotionally abusive, do I have a right to, One: Divorce him on biblical grounds, and Two: Remarry without being presumed an “adulteress” someday?
On a different topic; have you ever delved into psychological and emotional abuse? I feel this is a subject that the world does not shy away from, but is prevalent, even in the church. It is an invisible, yet terribly scarring type of abuse. It goes against everything the bible says about “living with your wife in an understanding way,” caring for her as “the weaker vessel”, and loving her, giving oneself up for her “as Christ gave himself up for the Church.” To crush ones spirit, and to use emotionally manipulative tactics to do so, is abominable, and not uncommon. My own mother was this way. My own father was not obedient to God in disciplining my mother to keep her from wreaking havoc on her own family, which is scattered and broken, and has spread throughout both sides of the extended families.
Any light you can shed on the divorce and remarriage issue would be taken into careful consideration. As I feel very much like a slave in bondage needing to be loosed. I am just wrestling with the rights and wrongs and what is biblically allowed for someone in my situation.
Thanks for your time and consideration,
My Response to Aria
I have actually known men personally who have done what your husband has done staying home playing video games while they send their wives out to work or they depend on other relatives to financially support their laziness. It infuriates me when I see this. I believe it also infuriates God when men do this. While laziness is sin when it happens with men or women – I believe it is especially heinous when it happens in men. God created men to be ambitious and work and make their mark on the world.
A man who has no drive to work is like a woman who has no drive to have children. It completely goes against the gender directives that God designed in men and women.
All husbands have failings in different areas just as all wives have failings in different areas. You are right that Christian husbands have a responsibility to discipline their wives for their sinful behaviors as your father should have done with your mother.
But while husbands and wives may sin against each other in countless ways God does not allow divorce for just any sin.
The story you describe is painful to imagine any Christian wife going through. But things like a husband lying to his wife, not fulfilling his promises (even denying you a child) or not spiritually leading as he should does not give a woman the right to divorce her husband.
There are many tough marriage situations where a wife is called to practice the I Peter 3:1-2 principle toward her husband who is being disobedient to God:
“1Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)
So sometimes as tough as an ungodly husband may make things on his wife – she is still called to continue to serve him, reverence him and love him. In some cases women can even win their husbands to obedience to God by their continued submission and service to their husbands.
However God does allow a woman to divorce her husband for these reasons:
If he fails to provide her with food and clothing (shelter is implied with clothing).
If he refuses to have regular sexual relations with her (sexual defraudment).
If he physically abuses her or makes attempts on her life.
The only marriage in Scripture that could be considered an ‘adulterous affair’ or ‘adulterous marriage’ is when a woman unjustly divorces her husband and then marries another man. In this case she would be considered an adulterous and the man who married her would be considered an adulterer.
I do not disagree that husbands and wives can treat each other in uncaring ways. They can say hurtful and spiteful things to one another. They can sometimes do as you have said and crush one another’s spirits with their actions.
When a husband or wife do this they are not living up to the way that God expects husbands and wives to treat one another.
But I don’t think we need a special carve out for “physiological or emotional abuse” any more than we need special “hate crime” carves outs for crime as we have made today. Murder is murder. Assault is assault. Not honoring your wife is not honoring your wife. Not reverencing your husband is not reverencing your husband. Provoking your children to wrath is provoking your children to wrath.
We just need to call sin what is – sin.
We don’t need new categories for sin – God has given us all the types of sin in his Word.
So can you divorce you husband?
While your husband may have committed a litany list of sins against you there are two that stand out as sins that God considers grievous enough for you to end your marriage. The fact that he does not work consistently and makes you have to support his laziness is enough by itself to allow you to divorce him. His sin of sexual denial by itself would be enough for you to end your marriage. These two sins together make for an air tight case for Biblical divorce.
I applaud you though for giving your husband time to repent. I don’t think anyone should enter divorce lightly without giving the offending spouse a certain amount of time to repent.
But if he fails to repent by the end of this year I believe that you can be free of your marital bonds to him as Exodus 21:10-11 clearly says.
While God can do anything it sounds like your husband has been a lazy man for most of his life and it is highly doubtful he will change. When this year ends if God gives you peace about this I think it would be right for you to end your marriage. And you are free to marry another man and it will not be an adulterous marriage to do so since you have divorced your husband with for just causes.
For those who read this story when I originally published it she has asked me to change her code name to “Aria” and remove a few details from the story that she feels may make it too specific if her husband or family were to ever read it. So if you remember her previous code name or those details please don’t reference them in comments. Thank you.
Any successful Christian marriage is going to require “reboots” from time to time. Troubled marriages are often the marriages that suffer from a lack of regular reboots or if they do reboots they do them in an unhealthy manner.
An example of “reboots” in the computer world
A “reboot” in the computer world is when a computer is completely shut down and then restarted. From a technical perspective when a computer reboots everything in the RAM (Random Access Memory) is cleared out and then when the computer restarts the RAM is repopulated by reloading the operating system and other applications from the hard drive back into the RAM.
I work in the IT industry as a developer and sometimes as a system administrator (I wear many hats). In our industry we know that regular reboots of computers are essential to the health and performance of a computer and that is why we actually schedule them on a regular basis.
Sometimes a computer may have processes “hang” in between reboot cycles so we may have to do “off schedule” reboots.
All healthy marriages need reboots
In the same way that computers regularly need reboots so too our marriages often need reboots. Just like a computer our marriages can sometimes get to a point where they “hang” and do not properly work.
6 Examples of everyday situations that require marital reboots
The husband has a bad day at work or a hard time fighting traffic and he comes home and speaks sternly to his wife not because of anything she has done but really because of his own bad mood.
The husband has a fine day at work but his wife has had a stressful day with the kids and rips his head off the minute he comes in the door.
A husband has to correct his wife’s sinful behavior and she does not take it well and storms off.
A wife shares a grievance she has with her husband and he does not take it well and storms off or he cuts her off and ends the discussion abruptly.
A husband goes to initiate sex with his wife and she turns him down even if for a legitimate reasons.
A wife tries to talk with her husband and he tells her he is busy with something else at the time and can’t talk.
There are many more examples that could be given but I think these examples give us an idea of situations in marriage that may require marriage reboots.
The reason for reboots
The reason for a reboot is to restore full functionality to a computer and in the same way marital reboots are needed to restore full functionality to a marriage. Just as a computer is designed to function in certain ways God designed marriage to function in specific ways. When these functions are performed properly then Christian marriage rightly resembles the relationship between God and his people, but when any of these functions are lacking then our marriages are not functioning as God designed them to and we cease to properly model the relationship between God and his people.
These are key “functions” that God expects from every marriage:
The wife is to submit unto her husband as unto God in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24)
The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and sacrifice himself in many ways to help make his wife holy (Ephesians 5:25-27)
The wife is to reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33)
The husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body and protect her and provide for her as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:28-29)
The husband and wife have a duty to come together as “one flesh” in the act of sexual relations (I Corinthians 7:3-5)
The wife has a right to bring grievances and concerns before her husband in a kind and respectful manner. (Job 31:13-15)
The husband has the right and responsibility to discipline his wife in an attempt to make her holy (Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 3:19)
The husband has a responsibility to live with his wife according to knowledge and this means he must talk with her and spend time with her so he can know her (I Peter 3:7)
The costs of not rebooting a marriage
When we do not reboot our marriages after experiencing any kind of friction or when we have delayed fulfilling our marital duty to our spouse that can break the fellowship and harmony between a husband and wife that God intends there to be in all marriages.
In the same way that a computer lags, slows down or freezes when it is in need of a reboot this is what happens when we delay reboots in our marriages. Both verbal and physical communication between a husband and wife suffer as a result. Some marriages go on like this for weeks, months, years and sometimes even decades!
Imagine that you never rebooted your computer at home for a year? In most cases that computer would not be operating in a healthy manner as it was intended to. But too often we allow our marriages to go on for great lengths of time without the reboots that are needed to restore the fellowship and harmony in a marriage.
The cost of rebooting improperly
A computer does not just need to be rebooted regularly, but it also needs to be rebooted in the right way. Rebooting your computer improperly over a long length of time will cause even more problems that not rebooting the computer.
If you just abruptly turn off a computer by unplugging the back of it you may cause corruptions to the hard drive of the computer. You may also cause problems to other components of the computer doing this. Instead you need to properly reboot your computer by shutting it down through the computer interface in an orderly manner.
In the same way some couples improperly reboot their marriages. There are two primary ways that couples improperly reboot their marriages:
The silent treatment – This where either one or both spouses are upset or angry at the other and communication ceases for a period. Then after several hours or even days of this silence they just start talking again like nothing happened.
End of discussion – This is where one of the spouses gives the “end of discussion” flag and refuses to discuss the situation any further but normal communications continue afterward without any period of silence between the couple.
Obviously the silent treatment is not good for any marriage but I want to discuss the “End of discussion” reboot method. There are some times especially as husbands with our wives or as parents to our children that we may have to throw an “End of discussion” flag out there. Anyone who has a teenager has had to use this flag in a conversation many times.
Husbands though are often afraid to use this with their wives but I think there are sometimes where a wife will continue going on and on and men have to use this “End of discussion” flag with their wife. I saw with my parents as well as many other couples when a wife would continue arguing with her husband especially in front of people and husbands have to throw out that “End of discussion” flag to their wives.
But as husbands we need to careful to not over use the “End of discussion” flag as a way not to ever hear grievances from our wives or even our children. But we must convey to our wives and children that grievances need to be made in a respectful way and in the right setting.
The wife’s use of the “End of discussion” flag with her husband is a little more problematic. Imagine if your teen abruptly stopped you as you were telling them something you did not like that they did and they tried to use the “End of discussion” flag with you. Most parents would have no part of that. In the same way I don’t see a way where God allows a wife to cut her husband off when he is discussing a problem he has with something she has done.
However, there is nothing wrong with a wife saying “lets agree to disagree” as a husband cannot control his wife’s beliefs or feelings on an issue. He can and should though attempt to control and mold her actionsthrough proper discipline. What that means is a husband and wife may disagree on whether something was right or wrong that happened in the past. They may disagree on what to do about something going forward.
But here is the key – the wife even though she may still disagree with her husband about what to do going forward must submit to his way unless he is asking her to directly sin against God.
6 Ways to properly reboot your marriage
Now that we have discussed the need to reboot our marriages and the wrong way to do reboots we will now discuss the RIGHT way to reboot you marriage in these common situations.
If you as a husband had a bad day at work and you come home and yell at your wife you need to reboot your marriage by going to your wife and apologizing to her.
If you as the wife had a bad day at home and you rip your husbands head off you need to reboot your marriage by going to your husband and apologizing to him.
If you as a husband realize that you just cut your wife off with an “End of discussion” while she was trying to share a grievance she had with you (and this was not something you have previously discussed where she is nagging about the same thing over and over) you need to reboot your marriage by going to her and apologizing and then let her express her concern or grievance.
If you as a wife had a strong disagreement with your husband and walked off in an angry manner you need to reboot your marriage by going to your husband and apologizing. If you still have an honest disagreement with him tell him that even though you still disagree you WILL continue to follow his leadership and you will NOT continue to badger him about your disagreement over the issue.
If you as a husband turned your wife away when she needed to talk you need to reboot your marriage by coming to her as soon as you can and asking her what she needed to talk about.
If you as a wife turned down your husband for sex for wrong reasons you need to reboot your marriage by apologizing to him and then you need to initiate sex with him. Even if you turn you husband down for sex for legitimate reasons you still need to reboot the marriage by initiating sex with him as soon as you can.
What all six of these methods have in common is they require us as husbands and wives to truly examine ourselves and compare our actions with God’s Word and his model for marriage. When a husband and wife have broken fellowship their marriage is not operating as God intended it to.
The importance of sexual reboots
While all six points I just mentioned where reboots are needed are important if we had to rank them Biblically speaking the “sexual reboot” is the most important. Some people might say “well you are just saying that because you are a man” but that could not be further from the truth.
God warns men in I Peter 3:7 about not knowing their wives (talking to them and spending time with them) telling men that God will not hear their prayers if they ignore their wives in this area. But if we look at I Corinthians it seems to convey a great sense of urgency of not allowing a lot of time to go between times of sexual intimacy:
“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” – I Corinthians 7:5 (KJV)
Ladies remember – God calls marriage a “one flesh” relationship and at the heart of this one flesh relationship should be regular sexual relations.
Also a lot of women wrongly think if they gently and kindly give their husbands a rain check that he should just come back and ask for sex again at another point.
But what women fail to realize is that initiating sex for most men puts them in a very vulnerable position. When a man initiates sex with his wife it is the equivalent of an animal rolling on its back and showing its soft underbelly. So when a woman turns her husband down when he is in this vulnerable state even for legitimate reasons it really sets some men back. They need to know that it is ok to make themselves vulnerable in this way once again.
Men need to be able to trust that when they initiate sex and make themselves vulnerable that their wives will not turn them away. Each time a woman denies or even delays her husband that trust from her husband is weakened. This is why it is so important for a woman to restore her husband’s trust that she will meet his sexual needs by initiating sex with him as soon as possible after giving him a rain check.
Also a reminder on sexual rainchecks – some women give rain checks far too easily when they could meet their husband’s sexual needs in other ways. So what that means practically speaking for you Christian ladies is if your vagina is “out of service” due to medical reasons (pregnancy, periods, infections) God gave you other ways to help you husband. This should make sexual rain checks extremely rare in one’s marriage.
Some marriages require a “reinstall” rather than just a “reboot”
Sometimes an operating system on a computer is simply defective or corrupted. Anybody remember Windows Vista? Ok for those of you who are not in the computer world Windows Vista was probably the worst version of Windows Microsoft ever had and they quickly had to scrap it and move to Windows 7 shortly thereafter.
In the same way with marriages some marriages have a faulty operating system. For example a man and woman might have married as unbelievers so they went into marriage using the egalitarian “operating system”. Other Christians may simply have had a corrupt or substandard form of complentarian marriage. In either case sometimes a Christian couple when they truly want to honor God with their marriage may have to do a “reinstall” of their entire marriage operating system.
I have received several emails over the past two years from couples that have told me they had to do just that – a reinstall. It takes work from both sides. It is difficult for men who have never lead their homes to suddenly lead and it is difficult for women who have never submitted to their husbands to suddenly submit. But I thank God every time I receive an email from Christian couples who have decided to take this “reinstall” approach to make their marriage be what God intended it to be.
Well after reading this article you may have come away with two good things – how to keep your computer healthy and how to keep your marriage healthy.
But in all seriousness – we as believers in Christ need to examine ourselves daily and constantly be looking to see if we as the husband or the wife need to reboot our marriage. It requires humility and obedience to God in order to do this.
“I am a neurosurgeon with three kids. With my first child, I thought that I would give staying home a chance. I hated it. For five years, I was miserable. I am not a homemaker or a cooker or a nurturer. Our child was not happy, and my partner and I were not happy. I went back to work and took only six weeks off after the birth of my other two children, and our life has been amazing. I have an IQ of 158. I need to use my brain. In addition, I have firsthand experience about what it is like to be a child and mother on both sides of the fence.” This was part of a story I received from a woman who calls herself Jess.
At the end of her comments she asked me a simple question in light of the Bible passages I have presented showing that God made women to be helpmeets to men, bearers and caregivers to the children and the keeper of the home. Her question was “How do you explain me?”
Before I give my response to Jess and to the larger question of the existence of female geniuses in light of the role that God has given women in being wives, mothers and homemakers I want to share Jess’s complete story (as much as she shared that is).
“When I was a child, my mother did everything mentioned in this article, yet I hated my childhood. Kids need to be away from their parents. I asked my parents if they could back off. They agreed. After school, I went to a free child-care provider. I did not get any help with my homework. I spent at most 2 hours with my family a day. Guess what happened? I became emotionally stable. I became happy. My grades improved. I loved my life. That went on until I left home at 18.
Today, I am a neurosurgeon with three kids. With my first child, I thought that I would give staying home a chance. I hated it. For five years, I was miserable. I am not a homemaker or a cooker or a nurturer. Our child was not happy, and my partner and I were not happy. I went back to work and took only six weeks off after the birth of my other two children, and our life has been amazing.
I have an IQ of 158. I need to use my brain. In addition, I have firsthand experience about what it is like to be a child and mother on both sides of the fence.
I am a women and I:
Have no emotional intelligence. My husband says that I am about as emotional as a brick wall.
Don’t have soft hands, they are really very rough and scratchy.
I take risks all the time. I am a rock climber and I love paragliding and bungee jumping.
I have a body fat percentage lower than the average male, and I have basically no curves. I have barely any fat in my breasts, it’s mostly pecs.
I have a very hard time dealing with children.
How do you explain me?”
My Response to Jess and other highly intelligent or genius level women
You sound like a very intelligent woman and with an IQ of 158 that puts you just a couple points shy of Stephen Hawking. I do not deny the existence of high IQ women like you and I have talked about it on my site in several posts.
These are the facts about genius level IQ distribution by gender:
“For instance, at the near-genius level (an IQ of 145), brilliant men outnumber brilliant women by 8 to one. That’s statistics, not sexism…
Of course, in normal daily life, there’s not much real difference between a man with an IQ of 105 and a woman with an IQ of 100. The real difference only emerges as we rise up the IQ scale to the sort of level that the really top jobs require and as we drop lower down the scale – because men, as it turns out, have a much wider range of intelligence than women.
As a result, there are not only far more men with high IQs than there are women, but there are also, as I’m sure any woman would tell you, far more stupid men around than there are stupid women.”
So the fact is that that men have a much broader range of IQs than women meaning there are more stupid men that stupid women – a fact that most feminists love to shout. But on the other end of the spectrum there are more highly intelligent men than highly intelligent women and this is a fact that feminists fight to hide. Often it is explained away as nothing more than cultural influences rather than a biological fact.
This also explains why men occupy roughly 75 percent of STEM jobs.
So how should we as Bible believing Christians respond to women that occupy that 1 out of 9 genius level spot?
If the Bible is a made up book of fables then you can just live your life as you please and when you die you will just fade away.
But if the Bible is the Word of God then that means each and every one of us has a soul that will live on after our body has died. It also means that one day each of us will stand and give an account for how we have lived our lives. If God’s Word is true then we must measure our daily and long term life decisions and actions by the Bible.
I don’t know if you are a Christian or not but if a young Christian woman came to me with your story and she wanted to live her life by the Bible believing she would one day stand before God and give an account of her life I would give her the following admonitions.
The Bible says that the presence of sin in the world has corrupted everything including our bodies even as we are formed in our mother’s womb.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5 (KJV)
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:” – I Corinthians 15:42 (KJV)
So anything in us whether it be our physical characteristics, our mental characteristics, our attitudes, our likes, our dislikes or our desires that do not measure up to God’s standards and expectations for our lives are to be regarded as defects caused by the corruption of sin in this world. These are things that we must overcome to bring our life into compliance with God’s will for our lives.
Now am I saying being smart is a defect because you are woman? No.
But an intelligent woman can use her intelligence in many ways. An intelligent woman can write books from her home, write a blog, teach women’s Bible classes, teach and home school her children and when her children are grown and gone perhaps help other women in teaching their children. In some cases a woman may be able to run some type of small business out of her home if she has the intelligence, energy and will to do so.
The Bible does not say that women are only allowed to cook, clean the house, do laundry and care for children and the needs of the husband. But what it does say is that these things are the primary mission of a woman and if she fails at these things a woman fails at her most important mission in this life.
The purpose for which God made women and the mission he has given to them
The Scriptures show us in these passages the reason for which he made women and their primary mission in life by which a woman will be considered a success or a failure in God’s eyes:
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” – Proverbs 31:11 (KJV)
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” – Titus 2:4-5 (KJV)
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:27 (KJV)
God’s mission for woman is to serve the needs of her husband, bear and care for his children and care for the domestic needs of his home.
The women who get an exemption from this mission are those who are called to a life of celibacy in service to God or are in some way providentially hindered from either finding a husband or having children.
Questions and observations I have based on your story
I would also say to a Christian woman who had your childhood experiences – “what caused you to hate your childhood so much and being around your parents so much?“ This is not normal social behavior for a child.
I realize you tried the homemaker role (which I commend you for) but I can guess why your child and your husband were not happy. It was because you were not happy. If you find things like cooking, nurturing and caring for your home and children on a daily basis to be a drudgery and waste of your abilities then of course it will show and then cause others in your home to be unhappy because you are constantly displaying unhappiness.
You say your life has been “amazing” but I doubt your children especially when they were younger thought it was so “amazing” not to have their mom around as much as they needed her. No six week old baby goes “yeah my mom is leaving me and giving me some alone time”. Children at this age desperately need their mothers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Yes children will adjust as they get older to not having their mother around but that does not make it good for them. Some children in the most horrible of situations still turn out good sometimes in spite of their mothers or fathers not being as involved in their lives as they should have been.
What about your emotional and physical features?
If a Christian woman told me she had no emotional intelligence and had a hard time dealing with children I would tell her the same thing I tell women who say they simply don’t have a desire for sex with their husbands. You need to cultivate a desire for these things and ask God to put these things in your heart and remove any desires in your heart that are contrary to his design for your life.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV)
On the issue of you having a manlier shaped and muscular body and rough hands – this is because of how you have chosen to live your life. It is good for a woman to be healthy and in shape and I am not saying anything against that. But women are designed to have more fat then men and fat is what actually helps to give women some curves and softness to their body. I am sure if you were to work out less and allow your body to have some of that natural fat that women are meant to have you would have a much more feminine appearance.
Now are there some women that don’t work out at all that still have muscular bodies? Sure. And if that is the case than this is the body God has given you and you will need to work with it. But in the vast majority of the cases where women have pectoral muscles as opposed to breasts it is because they are working out and exercising too much.
In the Bible there is something mentioned called “strife” or in newer translations it is called “selfish ambition”.
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” – James 3:16 (NIV)
God is not against women being ambitious. The Proverbs 31 wife was certainly an ambitious woman. What God is against is selfish ambition. Selfish ambition is when a man or a woman are ambitious for something that God did not intend them to have.
God intended for you to marry a man and then serve him with all your heart to the very best of your ability. God intended for you to have children (if you are not barren) and to care for those children. God intended for you to care for your home and make it a haven for your husband and your children. This is not meant to be a life of drudgery but a life of honor and service.
The reason we have such disorder in our society today is because over the last century men have abandoned their authority over women and as a result women were allowed to abandon the role for which God made them in his creation. Women became envious of men and followed their selfish ambitions and this is why in the last century we have seen the highest divorce rates in the history of mankind and even the concept of marriage itself is being rejected in favor of people just living with another.
One of the many casualties of this selfish culture is our young infants and smaller children who cry in terror as they watch their mothers go off to live their “amazing” lives as they pursue their career interests outside the home.
One of the biggest of problems with the Fireproof movie is that it turns marriage into an idol. People are exhorted to do just about anything to save their marriage. Fireproof was released in September of 2008 and it became an instant hit in churches around the country. The “love dare” and many other books and marriage teaching materials spawned from this movie and some churches to this day still use this movie to teach advice about marriage.
Fireproof features Kirk Cameron in the lead role as a firefighter named Caleb Holt. The movies shows right from the beginning a strained relationship between Caleb and his wife Catherine. He is short with her and she is disrespectful with him. Eventually Catherine says she wants a divorce and they go through the divorce process during the movie. Caleb talks to his father who had become a Christian in recent years and his father tells him of marriage troubles his mother and he had. He offers to send his son something that he wants him to try before he gives up on his marriage.
It must be pointed out that neither Caleb nor his wife Catherine are Christians at the beginning of this film.
Caleb receives a handwritten journal that is later referred to as “The Love Dare” and it gives Caleb 40 days where each day he must working on his marriage with most days asking him to do something kind for his wife. In the middle of the movie when Caleb feels his efforts with the love dare are not working his father uses his failed efforts to bring him to Christ. Then after becoming a Christian he redoubles his efforts despite his wife basically spitting in his face the entire movie only for her to accept him back at the end of the movie. She becomes a Christian because of the change she saw in him and they renew their wedding vows as Christians.
So now we will dive into the problems that make “Fireproof” a movie that Bible believing Christians should reject.
The chain of events that lead to the breakdown of Caleb and Catherine’s marriage
Most Christian reviewers of the movie as well as the people who produced the movie itself want your primary focus to be on Caleb’s wrong behavior and not Catherine’s. There is only one small scene in the movie where a Christian nurse confronts Catherine’s sinful emotional affair with a doctor at the hospital. Catherine’s behavior is seen simply as a wife’s natural reaction to a mean and self-centered husband and we are supposed to believe Caleb’s behavior came out of thin air.
Caleb says the problems started about a year earlier. So now I will present what I think were several problems that lead up to breakdown of their marriage based on several key statements made in the first two arguments of the movie.
Here is the chain of events that eventually lead Catherine to seek divorce from Caleb:
A year earlier Catherine comes to Caleb asking for him to use part of his savings for his boat to pay for a new hospital bed and wheel chair for her disabled mother who is living in a nursing home and Caleb refuses to part with any money from his savings feeling that he works hard as a firefighter and after saving for years deserves to get his boat.
Catherine reacts to his refusal by going to work full time as an administrator in a local hospital. Caleb tells her that if she is going to work full time then she will need to help pay the bills in the house while he will continue to pay the house payment and their two car payments.
Catherine begins spending much more time with her mother on the weekends in addition to working full time and Caleb becomes frustrated by his wife’s neglect of him and her home.
Caleb begins looking at porn at some point and Catherine starts sexually denying him and tells him that she won’t give him sex while he looks at that “smut” and she would not compete with it. She later tells him that he has lost all honor in her eyes because he looks at porn.
Catherine’s bitterness toward Caleb over her feelings about him being selfish with his savings, his looking at porn and his not doing enough in helping with the affairs of the home leads to a very disrespectful attitude toward Caleb.
As could be expected in any marriage that has experienced these types of issues there is also a complete breakdown of even the most basic communications between the couple.
Caleb gets frustrated with Catherine’s disrespectful attitude and he finally let’s her have it. He yells at her in frustration and gets in her face telling her how ungrateful and disrespectful she has been after she has spent several minutes smarting off to him. She goes from being a defiant and disrespectful wife all of sudden to a fearful victim who begins to cry in fear. She tells him “I want out” and thus begins Caleb’s and Catherine’s journey into divorce.
It must be noted that beside Catherine’s neglect of her home, her sexual denial of her husband and her highly disrespectful attitude toward him she compounds her sinful behavior by beginning an emotional affair with a doctor at the hospital where she works.
The sins that Caleb and Catherine each committed
Caleb acted selfishly in not wanting to part with any of his savings for his boat to care for the legitimate needs of Catherine’s mother for a hospital bed and wheel chair.
Catherine began to grow bitter at Caleb for his selfishness with his savings and at the same time decides to put her mother’s care ahead of her duties to her home and her husband.
Catherine’s comment acknowledging she has been sexually denying her husband and that she would not “compete with that smut” (the porn he had been looking at) also reveals a sinful heart of pride on her part. While much our current culture (including Christian Churches) teach that a man must have eyes only for his wife this concept is not supported by the Scriptures (see my post “Sexual Arousal And Fantasy Are Not Sin” on BiblicalSexology.com). But even if it were sinful for him to be looking at porn and it was required by God for him to focus all his sexual thoughts and energy on her it still would not be right for her to sexually deny him.
Could Caleb have helped more around the house with his wife working full time and helping to care for her mother on the weekends? Probably. But there is an argument to be made that unless a husband asks his wife to work to help support the family and if she decides on her own that she needs/wants to work then he has no obligation to help her with the duties of the home. In essence she as decided to pull “double duty” – to work outside the home while fully keeping up with her duties to the affairs of her home.
In either case it appears that Catherine has also been woefully neglectful of her home. There is also another question regarding whether or not she should have been spending all those weekends with her mother at the nursing home. Did they not have nurses to care for her mother?
Even though Caleb was not a Christian man he worked many hours as a firefighter and expected and had grown accustomed to his wife being the keeper of the affairs of the home. This is a natural instinctive expectation for any man in regard to his wife even without knowing anything about the Biblical commands for wives to occupy this role. Our society has tried to reprogram men to be “joint keepers of the home” with their wives but this reprogramming has still not taken affect with a lot of men. The refrigerator and cupboards being stocked, meals being made and his laundry being done were all things Caleb had come to expect from Catherine. Then when she went to work that began to change.
I believe this change in Catherine’s neglect of her home was due to several factors. She believed that since she had to work due to her husband’s selfishness with his money that she was no longer going to take care of all the affairs of the home. He was going to have fend for himself – he deserved that for how he had been treating her. She also decided that her mother’s needs were more important than her husband’s wishes. Even if she was right about all the wrong things he had done – her wrong behavior in reaction to her husband’s behavior caused a destructive spiral of sinful behavior in their marriage that eventually lead to their divorce proceedings.
Right behaviors that could have prevented the collapse of Caleb and Catherine’s marriage
First Caleb could have realized the true need of Catherine’s mother for a hospital bed and wheel chair and sacrificed his dream of a boat to help her mother’s real need. This would have strengthen her love for him. But rather than do what was right Caleb acted selfishly and refused to help her mother.
However, Catherine could have chosen to act to both preserve her marriage and at the same time help her mother at the same time. She could have taken the difficult road of fully taking care of the needs of her home and working full time at the same time. Would this be tiring for her? Absolutely. But then she would have been fulfilling her duty to her home while at the same time helping her mother. Another thing to remember is Catherine and Caleb had no children so really Catherine’s duties to her home would not have been as burdensome as if they had children.
Caleb could have chosen to be more discreet about his porn use and least given his wife the perception that he was not looking at it anymore after she caught him the first time knowing how much it hurt her feelings. He seems to be have had little regard for being discreet about his porn habit.
Catherine felt great emotional pain regarding her husband’s porn use as she felt she was to be center of all his sexual thoughts and that she should not have to compete with images or thoughts of any other women on the part of her husband. But even with her hurt she could have decided to act in a right way and not drive him to look at porn further and also increase his frustration toward her by sexually denying him.
Caleb tries to save his marriage
At first both Caleb and Catherine just want to pull the eject level because of hurts they each feel they have suffered at the hands of the other. But then Caleb’s Dad convinces him to fight for 40 days to save his marriage using the love dare journal.
Caleb while not being a Christian yet out of respect for his father decides to give it a try. In the beginning he is doing these things expecting his wife to notice and then apologize for her behavior and they could make up and cancel the planned divorce. But as he does each kind thing toward her she becomes more and more hostile instead believing his actions are not based on genuine changes she would like to see.
This is where we get into some unbiblical concepts and misapplied biblical concepts that are introduced by the love dare and Caleb’s father.
Fireproof confuses agape love with phileo love
The Bible speaks of three types of love in the context of marriage:
Sexual love(Eros) – This is a love based on sexual attraction. It is the initial driving force for most men seeking out women for marriage. A woman may be sexually attracted to a man as well before marriage or she may grow to be sexually attracted to him after marriage. The Bible has entire book dedicated to this type of love, the Song of Solomon.
Emotional, or Friendship love(Phileo) – This is love based on either romantic feelings between a man and woman, feelings of infatuation, or love that is based on common interests. This kind of love is almost 100% based on how much each person puts into the relationship, whether it is a same sex friendship, a dating relationship, or a marriage.
Choice love(Agape) – This love is not based on feelings toward one’s spouse, and it is not based on sexual attraction toward one’s spouse. Instead it is based in the choice a person made when they entered into a covenant of marriage with their spouse. In choosing to enter into that covenant, they have committed to performing certain actions toward their spouse regardless of their feelings or sexual attraction at any given future time. This is why in addition to calling Agape a “choice love”, it is also a “commitment love” and an “action love”.
Many Christian men and women do not know that God has two kinds of love for us. There are certain actions God performs toward us that are completely based on God’s agape or choice love for us. His salvation for us is chief among these actions and this passage is used in the movie to refer to God’s unconditional love:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (KJV)
This passage is used as a central theme in teaching Caleb to continue performing the actions of love that God commands husband to perform toward their wives regardless of their feelings. Now should a husband do these things despite not feeling like doing them? Absolutely.
Men vow to perform the actions of agape love in addition to other acts of love that are unique to marriage when they enter into a covenant of marriage with their wives.
The basics of any form of Agape love are described in the following Scripture passage:
“4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (KJV)
In addition to the actions of agape love described above, husbands are also called to perform other actions which demonstrate their agape love for their wives in the following passage:
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
Ephesians 5:25-29 (KJV)
When a man vows to agape love his wife in the marital sense of the word, he is vowing to provide for her, protect her, care for her when she sick, lead her, forgive her when she sins against him, show her kindness, teach her, discipline her and sacrifice himself for her.
When Caleb refused to take money out of his savings he was not sacrificing himself for his wife’s true needs as he should have. When he became a Christian he realized what that meant to sacrifice himself for his wife and took the money out of his account and paid for her mother’s hospital bed and wheel chair.
But the Bible shows that God’s affection for us is in fact based upon our affection toward him:
“For the Father himself loveth you, BECAUSE ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
John 16:27 (KJV)
The word here in the original language for “love” is different than the word used in Romans 5:8 in regard to love. This word could be translated as “affection” so it could read as this:
“No, the Father himself shows affection for you BECAUSE you have shown affection me and have believed that I came from God.”
See my post “Why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?” for more on this subject of agape love(choosing to love) and phileo love(feelings based love) in regard to both God’s love for us as individuals, his love for Israel and a husband’s love for his wife.
Getting back to Fireproof – they teach that God only has one kind love and it is always agape. In the view of fireproof a husband is not only to agape love his wife by providing her, protecting her and sacrificing himself for her but is also called to perform unconditional acts of affection toward her.
The message we get from Fireproof is that a man should do things like buy his wife flowers, make her romantic dinners, clean the house and a host of other acts of affection despite his wife’s continued sinful behavior including complete and utter disrespect, a generally critical and hostile spirit, neglect of her duties to the home, sexual denial and even an emotional affair.
The Biblical truth is that while God calls husbands to unconditionally love their wives he does not call them to unconditionally perform acts of affection toward them in spite of their rebellious and sinful behavior or to cause them to turn from their sinful behavior.
What did God do in the Old Testament when his wife acted in rebellion against him, disrespected him and she became unfaithful like Catherine did here in this story?
“41 They will burn your houses with fire and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women. Then I will stop you from playing the harlot, and you will also no longer pay your lovers. 42 So I will calm My fury against you and My jealousy will depart from you, and I will be pacified and angry no more. 43 Because you have not remembered the days of your youth but have enraged Me by all these things, behold, I in turn will bring your conduct down on your own head,” declares the Lord God, “so that you will not commit this lewdness on top of all your other abominations.”
Ezekial 16:41-43 (NASB)
From Ezekiel and many other Old Testament passages we can see just how God handles a rebellious wife. He brings her conduct on her head. He disciplines his wife.
Notice in this next passage from the book of Isaiah how God removes his blessing from Israel because of her rebellion:
““What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6 “I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
Isaiah 5:4-8 (NASB)
God did not continue to bless Israel and do even more for her and perform unconditional acts of affection toward her while she was in her rebellion. God’s example as a husband to his wife Israel is in DIRECT contradiction to what Fireproof advises husbands to do with a rebellious and unfaithful wife.
But didn’t God show that he would “allure” Israel back to him?
Often times Hosea and the prostitute God called him to marry are brought up to bolster Fireproof’s approach to the rebellious and unfaithful wife. But if you closely examine the story of Hosea you will see that God had Hosea take a prostitute as his wife who was later unfaithful to him and he took her back to show that AFTER Israel repents and turns from her wickedness God would remove his discipline and restore her blessings and her rightful place as his wife.
Fireproof does get it right about a husband confessing his sin to his wife
God calls husbands to confront sin both in themselves, their wives and their children. But before a husband can confront his wife’s sin he must confess his own and make it right.
“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:42 (KJV)
Caleb did do this with his wife in the movie after he became a Christian. This is something the movie actually gets right.
I do though think it was silly in the movie that he paid for her mother’s hospital bed and wheel chair and he did not tell her about it. He could have used that as a powerful moment to let her know how sorry he was for being selfish with his money and that he had paid for her mother’s hospital bed and wheel chair to demonstrate his repentance. It could have avoided prolonging their problems and if she would have never thought to ask who actually paid for it they may have continued with the divorce.
Fireproof teaches the false doctrine of “Happy Wife Happy Life”
During an exchange early in the movie before Caleb’s conversion he is talking about how is respected everywhere he goes except in his own home. His fellow firefighter tells him that he has been there before his wife not feeling respected and it was a rough place to be. His friend tells Caleb that ultimately his marriage problems were not about his wife’s disrespectful attitude toward him but rather it was because of his mistreatment of her.
He offers this advice that he learned in marriage counseling “Your wife is like rose, if you treat her right she will bloom but if you don’t she wither and die”. This is the essence of “Happy Wife Happy Life” that is taught in both secular marriage counseling and sadly in most Christian marriage counseling in our society.
Today marriage counselors often say that most marriage problems come down to the husband’s treatment of his wife. If the husband would just love his wife as she desires to be loved and do whatever she wants their marriage will be great and in return she will love him and be the best wife to him.
But this is blatantly false.
God calls Christian husband’s to make their first concern to honor God with their lives and to model the relationship of God to his people in their marriages. In keeping with that primary goal of marriage husbands are called to sacrifice themselves not for their wife’s happiness – but rather for her holiness:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
In most Christian churches when they teach on the sacrificial love that God calls Christian husband’s to emulate with their wives they stop abruptly at “gave himself up” but they never explain for what purpose a husband is to give himself up for his wife. The primary purpose of a husband’s sacrificial love for his wife is to make her holy not to make her happy. In fact often times a husband will be called to make leadership decisions that his wife disagrees with but he believes are in the will of God. This might make her unhappy. He might have to confront his wife for some sinful behavior she is doing and this will definitely make her unhappy. But the goal is his wife’s holiness, not her happiness.
Now is it wrong for a husband to try and make his wife happy where he can? Of course not. If what his wife is asking for would not conflict with what he believes God would have him do then by all means he should do it. If a husband were presented with the same scenario with saving for some boat or other unnecessary thing and a true need arose for a close family member he should sacrifice his wants in these kinds of cases.
Now there is also the case of a selfish wife where is she is very demanding of her husband’s time and money on a regular basis and not for legitimate needs like a hospital bed and wheel chair for her mother. Men need to be careful in these cases to not spoil their wives.
I have personally seen the damage that the Fireproof movie has caused in marriages
When Fireproof was released in September of 2008 I was in the midst of my divorce from my first wife. My story in many ways mirrored the story of Caleb but in some ways it was different.
First let me state the biggest difference is that my wife and I were both professing Christians and we both had attended church for most of our lives. When I say “professing” I don’t mean that I did not truly believe because I have truly believed in God since I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at the age of seven years old. But by “professing” I mean in my opinion I am not sure that my ex-wife was ever truly a genuine believer. I cannot say for sure that she is not a Christian as only God knows that. But the fact that she has rarely graced the door step of a church in years and the way she has lived her life since our divorce has not given me any cause to think her faith is genuine.
But the reasons for the breakdown in our marriage were similar in some ways to Caleb and Catherine and different in many other ways.
My first wife thought I worked two much – I worked a full time job and a part time job to support our big family with five children. Unlike Caleb though I was not tight with the money and pretty much anything my wife wanted she got if we had the funds. In fact in many ways I was too soft on her as she was an extremely lazy woman with a princess mentality.
Like Caleb I also had a habit of viewing pornography although it did not affect my desire for my wife in the least bit and for all of our marriage until the last year of it we had sex several times a week. At the time though and for most of my life I condemned myself on a regular basis for viewing porn and I ask God’s forgiveness and her forgiveness on a regular basis.
After my divorce, I did an extensive study over several months on what the Bible says about lust. I saw the mistake the most Christians make when coming to this issue of lust. They let commentaries and modern dictionaries define lust when the Bible clearly defines what it is.
In Romans 7:7 the Bible says the following:
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet”
So the Bible tells us what lust is -it is breaking the 10th commandment. So what that we means we need to look to the 10 commandment to understand what lust actually is.
In Exodus 20:17 the 10th commandment reads as follows:
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
If coveting meant simply desiring to possess someone or something than all commerce would be sin. No one could desire to purchase someone else’s cattle, their land or their home. And we know God allows commerce so that is not what is being condemned here in the 10th commandment. So if merely finding someone or something desirable is not covetousness then what is covetousness? Covetousness is the desire to possess someone or something in under unlawful circumstances. Covetous thoughts are what proceed the acts of theft, adultery and even sometimes murder which are condemn in previous commandments.
So what I discovered from the Scriptures was – God never condemns sexual arousal or even sexual fantasy in the Scriptures. Not one place. Not even in Matthew 5:28. What God’s a man for looking on a woman “to lust after her” he is condemning a man for entertaining thoughts of unlawfully sexually possessing her. In the context of Matthew 5:28 Christ is speaking of adultery. So he is specifically condemning men for entertaining thoughts of seducing other men’s wives into having sex with them. Christ is NOT condemning all sexual thoughts and fantasies men may have. He is only condemning men entertaining thoughts of enticing women into sex outside of marriage.
I will say that besides the Gospel itself, few truths of the Bible of changed my life like this revelation I had by studying God’s Word and seeing the truth of what lust actually is in the Bible. It awakened me to how the church for centuries has wrongly condemned human sexuality in general and masculine sexuality in particular.
This has become a passion of mine as I teach Biblical gender roles on this site. To free men from the societal and church condemnation of God given masculine sexuality. And to teach them how they can properly exercise and enjoy their masculine sexuality within the bounds of God’s law.
And now I will return to the story of my first marriage. The reason that our sex life decreased rapidly in the last year of our marriage was not due to my porn habit or any decrease in desire on my part for my wife. The decrease came because for the first time in our marriage she began to sexually deny me. At first it was only a decrease in our relations and then eventually she started to flat out deny me.
What I eventually came to learn is that she had been having an affair with another man for the past year (which completely explained the change in our sex life). She cited my working too much and my history of viewing porn as her primary reasons for the affair. She felt that she should have been the only woman that I desired to see naked and she should have been the center of all my sexual focus and really my life’s focus. She wanted to be number one in all areas of my life and she felt she did not occupy that position based on me putting so much into my job and my viewing porn.
I started attending a support group at a church for people facing the possibility of divorce or actually going through divorce. The director of that group was a huge fan of what was at the time new “Fireproof” approach to handling the wayward wife.
He actually told me that I needed to do what Caleb did in the movie and compete for my unfaithful wife. He convinced me for a time that my porn use was just as unfaithful to my wife as he being unfaithful to me with this man she had been sleeping with for the past year. Many good Christian men have fallen for this false comparison as I once did.
I did what Caleb did and I apologized to my ex-wife in tears on my hands and knees. I begged her to return to me and that I would treat her like the “jewel” she was if she would just give me another chance while I knew she was still seeing this other man.
For a time following this horrible Fireproof advice I was given I convinced myself that my ex-wife was not truly the lazy and the self-centered princess that she truly was.
But then I realized very quickly what this man from this church support group was saying was wrong and that I was trying to convince myself of a lie. Was I the perfect husband? Certainly not. Did I work too much at times and was I neglectful of her at times? Yes. But what I did certainly did not justify what she did.
Did God win back his unfaithful wife by performing acts of affection? No way! He brought down the house on Israel because of her sin. My ex-wife and other Christian men who had unfaithful wives saw their wives emboldened in their unfaithfulness by the example of the Fireproof movie.
It was their husband’s fault not theirs and their husband’s needed to win them back. What heresy! What an utter and complete false teaching this is!
Yes the story of my first marriage did tragically end in divorce and with her quickly marrying the man whom she had the affair with. It was interesting that not long after our divorce before I married my first wife she realized the mistake she made and this guy was not all he acted like he was and she wanted me to consider taking her back but of course there was no real repentance for what she had done. I told her NO WAY and even if I remained a single Dad for the rest of my life that would have been better than being with a wife like her that I could not trust. About two months after that I met the women who would later become my future wife.
As I have written on this site in other places my second wife is a good Christian woman and she certainly has more character and is a far more trust worthy person than my first wife ever was. She truly loves my children and has been a great step mother to them.
But I came to realize that she was indeed a “rebound relationship” not long after we were married and I realized all the differences between us we had overlooked even while both being Christians with her feminist upbringing being a big red flag I overlooked. But I have learned a lot from my first marriage and this second marriage has taught me a great deal as well. We have our rough days and she and I both struggle with certain sins. I still struggle with working too much at times as my wife will attest to. I have tried to carve out some time together and we try and schedule date nights (something I did not do in my first marriage).
But we do love one another and care for one another and we try to do our best to make it work despite there still being many conflicts of marriage philosophy in our marriage. And to answer the question everyone will ask in the comments – is my wife still a feminist? Yes but not as much as she was when were first married. Over the years through our many discussions (some more gentle and others more heated) God has worked through me trying to teach her God’s Word on this subject and she is not the same person she was when we were first married. But we still have a ways to go and sometimes my wife will have relapses and revert back to her old feminist attitudes and it gets tough during those days.
In my first marriage I never disciplined my wife and I did not confront her sinful behavior until the end of the marriage when it was too late. I provided for my family but I did not lead in all areas the way I should have. But in this marriage I have learned to stand up and lead and sometimes do the difficult task of confronting my wife’s sinful attitudes and behaviors while admitting I have some sinful habits and behaviors myself too. It’s not that I don’t still struggle with disciplining my wife and my kids – because I certainly do – but at least now it’s happening.
We have demonstrated that one of the biggest of problems with the Fireproof movie is that it turns marriage into an idol. People are exhorted to do just about anything to save their marriage. God does NOT call us to enable sin to save our marriage. Our faithfulness to God and his will and design for our life is the most important thing. Some marriages cannot be saved due to unrepentant behavior on the part of one or both spouses.
Do I think Kirk Cameron and those who produced this movie had good intentions toward helping couples to save their marriages and stem the tied of divorce? Yes I do. I think Kirk Cameron is truly a man of faith and so are the people who produced this movie and they were sincere in the beliefs about what they thought love in Biblical marriage looks like. But sometimes Christians can be sincerely wrong. Egalitarianism is evident even in the movies theme phrase “Never leave your partner behind”. Despite modern misconceptions about what Christian marriage looks like the Bible never ever refers to marriage as a partnership. It calls a wife a husband’s companion but never his partner. Instead the Bible refers to marriage as a patriarchy.
Contrary to Fireproof’s motto “Never leave your partner behind” – God did in fact leave his wife Israel behind after he disciplined her and she failed to repent of her rebellion and unfaithfulness toward him and then he divorced her. He tells us in the New Testament that he has taken on a new wife in the form of the Church to make his first wife Israel jealous and one day Israel will repent and be restored as his wife in addition to the church.
I am surprised it took me so many years to write my feelings about this movie but now I am glad that I have. I hope that Christians will realize that while there is some good in Fireproof the good DOES NOT outweigh the bad. It completely distorts how God’s agape love works and neglects the discipline of God and his conditional affection.
I know you might be scratching your head right now asking “Isn’t premarital sex and pre-wedding sex the same thing?” Biblically speaking the answer is no they are not the same. These are two separate and distinct things.
This topic is crucial for young Christian couples who are dating or engaged to consider in this age where sex before marriage has become so common that a couple is considered weird if they do not have sex before marriage.
Does sex automatically make a couple married in God’s eyes?
Some Christians have tried to argue that there is no such thing as “premarital sex” because they believe the act of sex automatically makes a couple married. They reason based on this logic that the Bible does not condemn something that is impossible to happen.
But the Bible does not support this notion.
We will show here from the Scriptures that there really is such a thing as “premarital sex” and the act of sex itself does not automatically constitute marriage. Later in this article we will distinguish “premarital sex” from “pre-wedding sex”.
So if sex does not automatically constitute marriage what does?
Biblical marriage may be constituted in one of four ways.
Marriage Method #1 – A man seduces a woman into sex and her father consents to marriage
“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endowher to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” – Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)
One key word in this passage as it relates to the “does premarital sex exist” debate is the word “endow”. This occurs AFTER the man has seduced the woman into having sex with him and BEFORE she actually becomes his wife (is married to her).
So we have just proven from Exodus 22:16-17 beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is indeed such a thing as premarital sex in God’s view of sex.
In this passage God was saying that if a man seduced a virgin who was not betrothed to another man and he had sex with her that he had to pay her father the bride price and her father would decide if he would allow the man to marry his daughter. The father had the power to refuse him even after the man seduced his daughter but he still had to pay the bride price because he violated the father’s property rights regarding his daughter.
But then the question must be asked – what is the lasting moral law here in Exodus 22:16-17 and what is the temporary civil law that applied only to Israel as a theocracy? There are two moral law parts in this passage and one civil law part in this passage.
The first part of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found here in this phrase:
“And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her”
Whether the woman is a virgin or not – God only honors sex AFTER the covenant of marriage has been established between a man and a woman:
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)
All other sexual relations between a man and woman outside of marriage are either whoremongering or adultery.
The second part about of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found in this next phrase:
“If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him”
In Numbers 30:3-16 we see that the only way a woman had the power to make vows of her own (which would include marriage) that could not be overridden by her father or her husband were if she was a widow or divorced:
“But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.” – Numbers 30:9 (KJV)
A father’s authority over his daughter is further reinforced by the general principle of the headship of man over woman (not just a husband’s headship over his wife):
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” – I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
This passage above was not talking about marriage but rather that general authority of men over women and why women should wear head coverings in worship as a sign of women being under men. The marital status of the woman was irrelevant.
Under God’s moral law, a father transfers his ownership and authority over his daughter to her husband in marriage. If the woman’s husband dies or he sends her away in divorce then the chain of authority is broken and she is free to marry whom she will.
What is no longer required is that a man be forced to marry a virgin he has sex with. This was a civil punishment as part of the law given to Israel a theocracy and the New Testament tells us that God’s Old covenant law with Israel a theocracy has been replaced by the new covenant that God has made with the Church(Hebrews 8:13)
This leads us to the second Biblical method of a man and woman entering into marriage.
Marriage Method #2 – A widow or divorced woman could consent to or seek marriage on her own
“And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” – Ruth 3:9 (KJV)
We see this situation occurring with Ruth who approached Boaz to see if he wished to marry her in Ruth 3:9. Since Ruth was a widow she had to the power to enter into marriage without seeking the consent of her father.
In the story of Ruth we see Levirate marriage being played out. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 describes the process of Levirate marriage where a brother or near kinsman was required to marry the wife of the dead relative to raise up an heir for his dead relative’s estate. Ruth had every right as the widow of a relative of Boaz to propose marriage to Boaz.
The only consent she needed was Boaz and then he confirmed with a nearer relative that he could in fact marry her.
Marriage Method #3 – A man rapes a woman and her father forces him to marry her
“28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (KJV)
This is a very controversial passage of the Scriptures that atheists and others who hate the Bible, hate the Jews and hate the Christian faith love to use to try say the Bible promotes immoral activity. The argument basically goes “How could a loving God force a woman to marry her rapist?”
The problem is those who want to accuse the God of the Bible of issuing immoral commands are not looking at this from the perspective of the culture in which the command was given. In the time period this was given a woman’s virginity was her most prized position. Once that was taken she would have had a very difficult time getting married. In a Biblical world view the greatest crime the rapist committed was not in forcing himself upon her against her will – but rather in taking her most prized possession. In a way rape was form of theft.
Remember this same woman who had been raped could have been forced to marry this SAME man before he raped her by her father. Then she would have been compelled to have sex with whether she wanted to or not.
Some say there is no mention of the father’s consenting to marriage and that it must automatically happen. But we must remember that no passage of Scripture stands on its own. This passage does in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 must be understood in light of Exodus 22:16-17 which clearly shows a father must always consent to any marriage his daughter enters into (unless she is a widow or divorced).
So a father forcing the man to marry his daughter whom the man raped was a punishment against him and restitution for his daughter. The man had to care for her the rest of her life and he could not divorce her for ANY reason.
Now this does not mean a father HAD to have his daughter marry her rapist – it was his discretion.
The real problem people have with this passage is NOT that a woman might have to potentially marry her rapist. The real problem people have is the fact that God gives such power of a father over his daughter that he could force her to marry her rapist.
But again considering the culture of the time a father could be looking out for his daughter’s best interests. In their culture the worst thing that could happen to a woman was not being raped, but instead not being able to get married. If we understand this then we understand this is not something immoral that God is commanding.
Marriage Method #4 – Men could take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife
10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.” – Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)
This is another favorite passage of atheists and people who hate the Bible. God allows men to take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife.
A few things to mention about this. It was actually a mercy that these men would take back some of these women as wives considering all the men and their families had been wiped out in war. They had nothing and they would probably have died on their own.
Can we guess again what the atheist’s biggest problem was? It was men forcing women to be their wives against their consent. But God does not give people (including women) the same rights we do in our modern civilization. And God is ALWAYS right.
Does this mean we have to take captives when we go to war and force them to be our wives? Of course not. This passage allows the taking of captive wives – it does not mandate it.
5 principles we learn from Biblical methods of entering into marriage
A man may not marry a woman without seeking her father’s consent if he is still alive unless the woman is a widow or divorced.
A woman may not consent to marriage without her father’s approval unless her father is dead, she is a widow or she is divorced.
Based upon the 2 previously proven principles of God’s moral law sex by itself DOES NOT constitute marriage. So it is possible to have premarital sex which is a clear violation of Hebrews 13:4 where God says the only sexual relations he honors is between a man and woman in marriage.
A father may force his daughter to marry a man without her consent based on his headship over her.
Men may force women to marry them when they are captured during war. Again this is not something we are required to do by the Scriptures – it is only an allowance to do so.
What we don’t see in the Bible about entering into marriage is also very important
Some very important things we don’t see are any requirements to have clergy or judges conduct marriage ceremonies, requirements for marriages to occur before witnesses, or for couples to seek the approval of the government or a church.
Contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and laws of the United States or most western countries neither the church nor the government have any authority over marriage. God created the intuition of marriage long before the formation of governments or the church.
The authority to enter into marriage has always fallen under the authority of the family – and specifically that of the father, then the husband and only a woman if she is divorced or widowed and not a captive of war.
So is pre-wedding sex a violation of the Scriptures?
We have shown here conclusively from the Scriptures that premarital sex is a violation of God’s moral law. But what about “pre-wedding sex”?
Most of the time people enter in marriage at their wedding so we often confuse the too. But a couple’s covenant of marriage and a couple’s wedding may be two separate events. In fact a couple may enter into a marriage covenant without a state marriage license and without a wedding and the marriage may be considered binding and valid before God.
The only way such a “spiritual marriage” would not be valid is if the woman was not windowed or divorced and her father was still alive with her being under his authority.
So what this means is it would be perfectly Biblical if a man sought and received the consent of a woman’s father for marriage if the couple felt they could not wait for the wedding for them to enter into a covenant of marriage before God privately and then have sex BEFORE THE WEDDING.
Once the father has agreed to his daughter marrying a man the wedding date is only a formality. At the moment of betrothal the woman is free to enter in a marriage covenant with her husband in private – just between them and God and then they may freely have sex. The wedding at this point is only a formality to show the world their commitment to one another. But the couple could choose not even to have a formal wedding.
Are there dangers in pre-wedding sex even if it is not unbiblical?
Yes but only if the man and woman do not see their vows made in private as just as binding as those that would be taken before witnesses. But if a man and woman don’t see their marriage vows made in private as binding what makes us think they would take their vows made in public any more serious?
Premarital sex even amongst Christians today is at an all-time epidemic level. I believe we should look for all ways possible to take away temptations to premarital sex. Previously I have talked about Biblical courtship and couples not allowing themselves to be alone together before marriage as a major method of preventing premarital sex.
But because our culture balks at courtship and limitations of being alone together I think that this option of “pre-wedding sex” which is made right before God by a couple entering into their covenant of marriage privately after they are engaged is a valid option that Christian couples should consider to avoid the sin of premarital sex.
Why should a couple put themselves under this pressure once they are engaged? A wedding is simply a date and a celebration of marriage. It is not something that should hang over a couple’s head and possibly tempt them to sin because they think they have to wait to exchange vows until that day.
“I’ve been thinking about this, and I have to wonder if God ever really intended for polygyny to be widespread or many men to have strongly polygynous designs. If He did, then one has to ask why he didn’t design us so that women conceive girls at least twice as often as boys. It seems unfair to make most men desire multiple wives and then not create enough women who could marry them.”
The question above was submitted to me from one my readers. This really is a great question and it is one that often stumps those who embrace the fact the God does allow polygamy in the Bible and that men naturally have polygynous natures.
Before I answer this question let’s first review the terms we are discussing.
Understanding the Terms
Polygamyrefers to one man having several wives or one woman having several husbands. Polygamy is distinguished from polyamoryin that polygamy is always a one to many relationship where polyamory is a group marriage with the possibility of multiple men and women all having sex with one another.
Polygynyrefers to the type of polygamy where a man has several wives and polyandryrefers to polygamy where a wife has several husbands.
The Bible only allows one type of polygamy and that is Polygyny. Polyandry and polyamory break the biblical model of marriage that women was made for man and that a woman can only have one husband at a time. If she were to attempt to marry a second husband she would be committing adultery against the first unless her first husband was dead or she was justly divorced from him(I Corinthians 7:39).
From this point forward I will use polygamy and polygyny interchangeably as there is only one type of polygamy that is allowed by God.
7 Biblical Facts about Polygamy
FACT #1 – God rewarded Leah with another child for giving her husband another wife (Genesis 30:18). Some try to say she just thought God rewarded her but the Scripture does not EVER record God condemning her for this so we take the Scriptures at face value that God did indeed reward her for giving her maid to her husband as another wife.
FACT #2 – God expressly allows polygyny and set rules for its practice. (Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 21:15-17,Deuteronomy 25:5-7)
FACT #3 – God while allowing polygyny warns against Kings “multiplying wives” meaning they were not to horde wives as Solomon would later do. – (Deuteronomy 17:17)
FACT #4 – God tells tells David through his Prophet Nathan when he sinned and took another man’s wife(Bathsheba) that he had given David the wives of his master and would have given him more wives (II Samuel 12:8)
FACT #5– Jehoiada the high priest gets TWO wives for the young king Joash (II Chronicles 24:2-3)
FACT #6– God pictures himself as polygamist husband to Judah and Israel in (Ezekiel 23:1-5)
FACT #7 – God divorces his first wife which was Israel as nation(Jeremiah 3:8) and in his seeking of his second wife(the church) seeks to make his first wife Israel jealous(Romans 10:19) and one day his first wife Israel as a nation will also be restored in the New Kingdom of God.
Many great men of God including Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, David and Joash were polygamists and NOT once did God offer a word of condemnation to these men for their polygamy.
Israel was still one of the most polygamist nations in the world during the time of the Roman Empire. At first Rome passed some laws exempting Israel from its monogamy policies but later it removed Israel’s exemption and it eventually forced monogamy only marriage on Israel.
While women and men are roughly equal worldwide the distribution of genders by countries is not equal
While worldwide they estimate there are slightly more men than women the population of men to women is not distributed equally by countries. There are far more women in eastern European countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia then there are men. This is why women are trying to leave these countries in droves to seek men from other countries to be their husbands.
The reason I stated this fact is just so people understand that while worldwide the male to female population may be roughly equal that does not mean in various local populations of countries, provinces or states that it is equal.
3 Reasons God gave most men polygynous desires even if they may never be able to fully realize them
So now we come to Alex’s question. Why would God give most men polygynous desires to a greater or lesser degree when most men in the world will never be able to act on these desires?
To help populate the world. In the beginning of creation it is very likely that we had more women than men as this would help the world population to grow faster as one man could impregnate several women at the same time.
Because some men were too lazy, too stupid, too poor or slaves and could not have wives this would leave many women without husbands. Only men who had the brains or means to take care of a family could marry (and that is the way it should be now but unfortunately western society has chosen to subsidize monogamy).
War and early death of men would leave many virgins and widows in its wake. Man’s polygynous nature would allow him to easily come in and make up for the imbalanced sex ratio and quickly rebuild the population.
The last point about war killing off most of the eligible men is an interesting one. In fact one of the contributing factors to the rise of feminism after World War I was that fact that millions of women in Europe and America could not find men because of the millions of men who will killed in the war. This same problem happened again after World War II. There were millions of young women that were never able to marry after both wars and many widows left to continue on their own with no male support.
God prescribed a way for women to be protected and provided for by men especially during times of war, famine and disease when men are being killed off. His answer was polygamy. That my friend is one of the big reasons God gave men polygynous desires. In fact if we practiced Levirate marriage as found in the Old Testament(Deuteronomy 25:5-10) if a man’s brother was killed in war or some other way he would marry his brother’s wife to care for her and raise up an heir for his brother’s estate. And no there was no prohibition of if he was married he could not do this – if did not do it – it would be a shame to him.
So yes during times of relative peace as the world has seen for several decades where we are not losing men by the millions we seem to question God’s wisdom. But I can tell you if another world war broke out and millions of men were being killed over several years the truth of what I am telling you would be very real.
But let’s leave war and disease taking out all the men and talk about why polygamy is needed even in times of peace like we have today.
Even if there was an exact ratio of 1/1 males and females there is a great possibility that many men will not want to marry. In fact a lot of women talk about this today- “Where are all the guys that want to marry?” That is a different topic for another post. But I can tell you for a fact when I was going through my divorce they told us that divorced men had a far easier chance of getting married and often got married faster than the divorced or widowed women. It is just harder for divorced or widowed women to get married again especially if they have children for a variety of reasons.
Now if polygamy were legal it would solve this problem by allowing wealthier men to come along and have multiple wives and be able to care for them and their children.
So is it unfair that few men today can fully act on their polygynous natures in a Biblical way?
I think in some ways it is unfair(unjust) and in other ways it is not. If a man is lazy and lacks ambition and lives in his mom’s basement at the age of 30 – no it is NOT unfair that he can’t act on his polygynous desires. In fact he should not able to act on his sexual desires even with one wife because he cannot provide for a wife and family.
I think our ban on polygamy is unfair to a single mom whose husband was killed or abandoned her and she has to scrape by just to put food on the table and care for her children. I am sure that if you gave many single moms who are in hard economic straights the choice to be a second, third or fourth wife to a wealthy man they would take that opportunity in second! But we don’t give them that choice.
I think it is unfair to men who are very successful in their business endeavors who in centuries past would have been able to not only to fully realize their dreams in business but their reward for being successful would have been to be able to have multiple wives and more children.
It is an utter waste to me that wonderful successful men are limited to only one wife when so many women out there struggle to make it alone on their own. Also it is a fact that most successful men whether they be in business or politics have very HIGH testosterone levels and very high sex drives.
So basically you have a man who has the means to take care of multiple wives and their children and has the high sex drive to want multiple wives. Many women would love to be one of his wives but our society stops this and then we wonder why these very successful men often have affairs when in Biblical times they could have just had many wives.
I am not defending men that go whoremongering – but our culture as well as our churches have set up men for failure with our attitudes toward male sexuality and specifically man’s polygynous nature.
But wasn’t polygamy only allowed because of sin in the world
Some Christians believe the only reason God allowed polygamy was because of the existence of sin in the world. After all, we only have wars, famine, disease and other things that wipe out men and leave women with no support because of sin in the world.
However, the first reason for man’s polygamous design was to populate the world. You would have a much slower world population growth if you had an even number of males to females born in the beginning of the world. Also the fact that males were so prized in early civilization seems to be an indicator that in the early days of humanity males were more rare than females.
God’s first command to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply – he wanted lots of babies being born. Now some have asked why did he not give Adam many wives if that was his design and that is a good question.
But the original creation in the Garden of Eden also had these things as well:
Sibling marriage was made necessary by the creation of only one man and one woman. Adam and Eve’s children had to marry each other(sibling marriage). Later God would outlaw this practice. So we all would agree that sibling marriage was only a temporary part of God’s design in the beginning.
God created Adam and Eve naked yet later in the Bible he commanded that clothing was to be worn. And the Bible never says clothing was only made necessary because of sin as we see in Revelation that the Saints and Angels are clothed in white robes. If humans only needed to where clothing because of sin then we would all be naked in heaven and in the new world. So we see that Adam and Eve being naked in the beginning was also only a temporary part of God’s design as well.
Instead we understand that God always intended to cloth Adam and Eve as clothing separates mankind from the rest of God’s creations. Clothing is a sign of dignity and it sets humans apart.
So the first reason apart from sin in the world that God made man polygynous in his nature was to help populate the world.
But there is another reason apart from populating the world that I believe man was made with a polygynous nature. Despite all the claims that “God only has only one bride” the fact is God has two brides. His divorced wife Israel and his new bride the Church. The Bible tells us he took on his new bride the church to make his ex-wife Israel jealous(Romans 10:19). The fact is no matter how you cut it – we serve a polygamous God. It is a one to many relationship. God has relationships multiple people, multiple nations and multiple churches. Yet God expects all these groups to have only one God as wives are expected to have only one husband.
“My husband was involved in porn soon after our marriage and refused to have any kind of intimacy, not even holding hands. I suspect that he does not even love me and is continuing the marriage only for the comfort of financial stability it offers him. He lost his job 2 years after we were married. Then we relocated and he has not found a job until now. It has been 17 years of unemployment.” This is part of a very sad story I received from a frustrated Christian wife who calls herself Hope.
In my last post we discussed how a husband could Biblically deal with a lazy wife and in this post we will use Hope’s story to help her and other women learn how to Biblically deal with a lazy and fraudulent husband.
Here is Hope’s full story and then I will give my response.
“I have just started reading your posts and enjoyed several of them. I have a query. Both my husband and I are Christians and have been married for 20 years. We have 2 kids who are still young. My husband was involved in porn soon after our marriage and refused to have any kind of intimacy, not even holding hands. I suspect that he does not even love me and is continuing the marriage only for the comfort of financial stability it offers him.
He lost his job 2 years after we were married. Then we relocated and he has not found a job until now. It has been 17 years of unemployment. If I raise this issue it makes him angry and frustrated. I think he wants to start a business but lacks capital. I have a good job but I have to pay the mortgage, cars, family’s expenses and any holidays we have. Basically I cover everything. I have a cleaner who cleans the house. My husband takes care of the children, send them to school and helps with their homework. Any extra income I save for my children’s future education and our retirement. There is not much extra to contribute towards his “dream business”. Maybe I am scared, in case he uses up the money for business and the business fails. I cannot earn back this kind of money now as I am much older now and coming to retirement age. He pays for all the expenses from my bank account. I never question him regarding how he spends the money or how much he spends. I use my money mainly to purchase items for our home. He is free to buy anything for himself. i don’t ask to account for each purchase.
He has mentioned having a joint account. I have trust issues; my marriage is not even normal. I have dealt with wives whose husbands left the marriage and the kids with all the family money in a joint account. Letting a husband have access to the wife’s account may be ideal in a good marriage but not otherwise.
His family has also been hinting that my inheritance monies from my dad’s estate should be shared equally with him. I am frankly disgusted with this as he has been so fussy looking for jobs and has left me to struggle with the family’s finances for years, despite my deteriorating health. I want to share what I have with him and the children but he wants to control what happens to the money. Legally he is not even entitled to this money. If I have to hand over to my husband what my father struggled to earn during his lifetime in the name of submission, I have decided either to pass on everything to the kids by a will or to forego my entitlement and give away everything to charity. Less fight this way.
I would appreciate your views.
My Response to Hope and other Christian women who find themselves in a similar situation
Hope – let me be clear to you and any woman who finds herself in this kind of situation. Your husband is a deadbeat. He is a leach. It would be one thing if you had just been married and he just lost his job then you would need to have grace about these kinds of things. But after 17 years he has proven the kind of man that he is.
God hates divorce and does not easily allow it
First you need to understand something about how important marriage is to God. In Malachi 2:16 God says “he hateth putting away”. “Putting away” is a euphemism in the Bible for divorce.
Just because your husband is not romantic or perhaps is too tight with the money or you feel he is unfair to you in other ways does not give you the right to divorce him. For a man, just because his wife is lazy, un-submissive or does not perform well in bed does not give him the right to divorce her.
Also contrary to what many Christian websites teach addictions in and of themselves are not cause for Biblical divorce. Addictions are only a cause for divorce if they result in things that God says he allows divorce for.
For instance if your husband has a porn addiction which leads him to sexually defraud you then you can divorce him for sexual defraudment. If your husband had a gambling addiction that lead him to consistently spend all your family’s money and you and your children were going without food, clothing and shelter as a result you could divorce him for failure to provide. If your husband had an alcohol addiction but his alcohol addiction did not affect him providing for you, having sex with you and he does not physically abuse you as result you have no Biblical right to divorce him.
If your husband’s addiction does not result in a sin for which God allows divorce then you must practice God’s command to women with disobedient husbands:
“1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)
But the Bible does allow for divorce in certain situations where God sees some particular sins as grave enough to break the marriage the covenant. Some of God’s reasons for divorce are gender specific. See my post “For what reasons does God allow divorce” for a more complete discussion on all the reasons that God allows divorce.
God allows women to divorce their husbands for failure to provide and sexual defraudment
In your situation Hope, your husband has committed two grave sins against your marriage covenant either of which would be grounds for Biblical divorce. These sins are failure to provide and sexual defraudment.
“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
God requires every husband to provide his wife with three things – food, clothing (and by extension shelter) and sex. God was clear that “if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free”. This is part of the lasting moral law of God rather than the temporary parts of God’s law to Israel including sacrificial laws, cleanliness laws, civil laws and laws regarding the priesthood.
In the New Testament these three principles are reinforced in these passages:
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” – Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
In the same we as husbands provide for the physical needs of our own bodies by providing ourselves with food, clothing and shelter so too men are required by God to provide these things to their wives.
“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5 (KJV)
A husband and wife have both a responsibility to “render” (give) their bodies to their spouse and they have the “power” to take or make use of their spouse’s body for the purpose of sex. If one spouse denies the other this is an act of fraud similar to if an employer had made a contract to pay an employee wages and he fails to pay those wages that are owed he will be guilty of fraud.
Make sure he really is being lazy and sexually defrauding you before you take action
Obviously the first thing to consider would be if your husband is temporarily or permanently disabled from working. In this case a wife does not have cause to divorce her husband.
Ladies if your husband works a full time job and then comes home and chills on the couch this not the kind of laziness we are talking about. If you are a full time stay at home mom there is no reason why your husband should feel bad about chilling after a hard days work. Even if you both work because he has asked you to work – yes he should help but again this is not the kind of serious laziness that can be cause for divorce.
Also just because your husband is not making as much money as you would like him to make does not mean he is failing to provide. If he is working hard and doing his best to provide this is what counts before God. Even if he is unemployed for short periods of time like months you have no right as a wife to take action against him. Rather you should support your husband during this difficult time and encourage him as he seeks work.
Also if your husband is having health problems or perhaps he is not completely satisfying you in bed the way you would like that is not sexual defraudment. As long as he is not completely denying you and is making himself available this is what counts before God. This does not mean there may not be room for improvement – but it is NOT cause to take the actions we will talk about next.
But if you are like Hope and have experienced years of laziness and sexual defraudment (as opposed to months) this is not something God calls you to live with. God does NOT expect you to remain in bondage to such a man.
4 Steps to Dealing with a Lazy Husband
Step 1 – Exercise your right to bring your grievances to your husband
“13 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;
14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?
15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” – Job 31:13-15 (KJV)
Even though your husband is your authority – that does not give him the right to not to hear your grievances. But make sure you talk to him in a gentle and respectful manner.
Step 2 – You need to seek out a marriage counselor as a witness to your husband’s sin
“Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.” – Malachi 2:14 (KJV)
If your husband will not hear your grievances or refuses to change his ways then you will have to move to this next step.
Marriage counseling should not be a way for a husband to abdicate his duty to discipline his wife. Many men take their wives to counselors because they are afraid or unwilling to discipline their wives but this is not a reason for marriage counseling. In the same way marriage counseling is often used by wives as a way to “tell on their husbands” for sins that they should be practicing the I Peter 3:1-2 principle towards as we discussed earlier.
But there are some instances where marriage counseling can be used in a Biblical way and in your situation this would be one of those times. You need to understand that you are not going to a marriage counselor to go around your husband’s authority but rather you are going to the counselor to use them as a witness to the grave sin your husband has committed against you and your marriage covenant.
Hope in your case your husband has committed two sins that can break you marriage covenant – failure to provide and sexual defraudment.
After you have testified against your husband you will need to decide if you want to give him another chance if he truly repents and says he will change his ways. However in this particular case Hope – with your husband being in this evil pattern for 17 years and the fact that he seems to be using you I am not sure how much you can trust anything he says.
You need to pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to if your husband’s repentance is genuine or not.
Step 3 – Bring him before your church authority
“15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” – Matthew 18:15-17 (KJV)
If he will not listen to counselors or refuses to go to counseling then bring him to your Pastor and his wife. If he will not listen even to them then he has chosen to act like an unbeliever, and now he will be treated as such.
Step 4 – Divorce your husband for failure to provide and sexual defraudment
“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)
After you have sought out a counselor and then your church authorities and if you husband fails to repent then you may divorce him.
Can you remarry after this?
There are many Christian websites and pastors (and even regular commenters on this blog) that will tell you that you may divorce your husband in this instance but that you must remain unmarried until he dies. This is not supported by the Scriptures. I have written extensively on this subject that once a wife has been freed from her husband in marriage she is free to remarry except in the case that the reason for him divorcing her was because of an adulterous affair on her part.
Hope – I realize your husband may truly love your children and perhaps he treats them kindly and they love him too. But he is showing an utterly terrible example to them by his lifestyle. It sounds to me like your husband married you for your money. He also seems to be one of those men with dreams of grandeur and does not have his feet planted in reality.
There is nothing wrong with a man having dreams of starting his own business. But a man must support his family and perhaps takes jobs that he does not like while he is pursuing how he will start his own business. He can’t sit home for 17 years planning to start a business.
He has no right and no excuse whether he is addicted to porn or not to sexually defraud you. I pray that God will guide you in the difficult choices you need to make.