How should a Christian wife handle a deadbeat husband Episode 1

“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.

Aria’s Story

“Hello,

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,

Aria”

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, 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:

  1. If he fails to provide her with food and clothing (shelter is implied with clothing).
  2. If he refuses to have regular sexual relations with her (sexual defraudment).
  3. If he physically abuses her or makes attempts on her life.
  4. If he abandons her.

See my article “For what reasons does God allow Divorce?” where I discuss all the Scriptures relating to each of these four points.

What about “adulterous marriages”?

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.

Please see my article “Is there such a thing as an adulterous marriage?” for my discussion about all the Scriptures related to this topic.

What about psychological and emotional abuse?

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.

Update 5/1/2016

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.

 

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4 Steps to Dealing with a Lazy and Fraudulent 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.

Hope’s Story

“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.

Concerned”

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.

In my posts “4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal” and “Does God allow a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide?” I point to a key passage of Scripture that is not taught in the vast majority of Christian churches today and has been all but forgotten or dismissed because it was given by Moses to the nation of Israel:

“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.

See my posts “4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal” and “Does God allow a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide?” for more complete discussions on these two very important topics.

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.

In my post “When should a Christian couple seek a marriage counselor?” I discussed reasons for marriage counseling from a Christian perspective. I talked about how marriage counseling is often used for the wrong reasons.

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.

See my post “Is there such a thing as an “adulterous” marriage?” for more on this subject of divorce and remarriage.

A final word to Hope

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you leave your husband because he looks at other women?

“My Christian marriage is now “no more” because of the “staring” at other females that was going on in it.” This was part of a comment I received from a woman named Ellie in reaction to a series I wrote entitled “How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?

Here is Ellie’s full story.

Ellie’s Story

“My Christian marriage is now “no more” because of the “staring” at other females that was going on in it. In my opinion it is about one thing and one thing only…RESPECT…or lack of. I made my needs very clear.” Please stop doing that. I don’t like it because I don’t know what you are thinking when you are doing it.” We had prayer, promises, lengthy discussions lots of hurt and mistrust and anger (sin on my part) and after 18 months of more of the same.

I unceremoniously asked him to go.

A woman at our church who always showed an unhealthy interest in him showed him sympathy and then came the adultery. Oh joy. His excuse was that I threw him out and left him for dead.

Enough said. So as you can see. It is a very sore point with me.

Before my husband I met a lovely man but I chose not to marry him as he didn’t know the Lord. He did however know how to respect me in that I never once saw him looking or even glancing at other women. He may have done when alone but not when with me. He wasn’t asexual or homosexual or bi-sexual or similar. What he was, was RESPECTFUL.

I am currently separated from my husband but still married on paper. It’s a complete mess and it all started with staring. I am adjusting to life alone now. Being with a man who has such a lack of self-control just led me into sin. Anger suspicion bitterness resentment. I am more effective for God as a single woman I feel. I was very aware that my husband had body image issues and felt unhappy and I would never openly stare or glance at another guy as I know that it would fuel his insecurities. It’s a shame he couldn’t have the same awareness and respect.

I prefer to stay alone that be with any man who does this.

There you have it. Thank you for your article.”

My Response to Ellie and other Christian women who may face this situation

Based on this story from Ellie these 4 things happened:

  1. Ellie admitted that she reacted in sinful anger toward her husband for his behavior of staring at other women.
  2. Ellie separated from her husband because of this continued behavior.
  3. Ellie’s husband had an affair with a woman at his church.
  4. Ellie has resolved to remain single rather than going back to her husband.

Ellie’s husband’s sin

Before we tackle Ellie’s behavior in this situation we must will first acknowledge her husband’s sin.

On the issue of staring at other women – was he actually gawking or glancing? For some women a man taking quick glances of the women around him qualifies as “staring” when it really is not. So was he really staring or just glancing at women? We may never know for sure.

But let’s assume the worst case and he was actually standing around gawking at women.  If he did then this could have been considered rude and thus sinful behavior on his part.  As we have discussed often on this site there is no sin in a man simply looking at other women.  It is when men act rudely in how they do this that it can become sin.  Even if they are not gawking if they their looking turns into lust (sexual covetousness) then it can also be sin as well.

See my posts on “What does the Bible say about lust?” and my series on ““How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?” for more on this topic of men looking at women from a Biblical perspective.

Certainly what her husband did in having an affair with a woman at their church after she kicked him out was sin.  Even if her husband felt abandoned by his wife this did not justify his whore-mongering (having sex with a woman outside of marriage).

Ellie’s sin

By her own admission Ellie admits that she was driven to sinful anger over her husband’s staring at other women.

But the truth is there is much more to Ellie’s sin that this.  Even if her husband was truly standing around gawking at other women and acting in rude ways she is NOT his authority and he is not accountable to her for this.  He is accountable to God.

The Bible does not say “Christian wives when your husband does sinful things – badger him about it continually and demand that he stop whatever the offending behavior is.”   In fact the Bible says just the opposite in regard to wives dealing with husbands who are disobedient to God’s Word:

“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)

This passage from I Peter goes completely and utterly against the sinful nature of most women if they are honest.

Even for women who acknowledge this Biblical truth it is a constant battle with the flesh. A wife’s sinful nature wants her to try and control her husband’s behavior but God has said “His disobedience is my domain – not yours.”

The Bible does not tell a wife to nag her husband into holy living.  It does not tell her to threaten to divorce him if he does not stop his rude behavior. It tells her to try and win him to God’s ways by practicing God’s ways herself! It tells her to win him “without a word” by her pure and respectful behavior toward him.

Now I just want to add one note.  I am not saying a wife should stay or keep her children in a situation with a physically abusive husband or a lazy husband who refuses to work and provide food and shelter for his family. I have addressed these topics in my posts “Does God allow divorce for abuse?” and “Does God allow a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide?

But the fact is ladies – Biblically speaking if your husband is having sex with you, providing for you and your children and is not placing you or your children in physical harm you have absolutely NO right to send him away or separate from him.  Rather if he is doing all these things for you then you have a God given obligation to place yourself in complete subjection to him and you are to behave in a pure and respectful manner toward him – despite his many failings.

The second sin Ellie committed against her husband was in separating from her husband for unbiblical reasons as a result of her believing it was her right to try and change her husband’s disobedient behavior.

The third sin Ellie committed probably for most of her marriage to her husband was in comparing him to a previous man she had dated.  Here she was condemning her husband for looking at other women when she was comparing him to another man the entire time! This is the height of hypocrisy!

Sin leads to sin

“13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – James 1:13-14 (KJV)

The Bible is clear that we are all responsible for our own sin.  We cannot blame our circumstances and we cannot blame others for our own sinful behavior.  But that does not mean that we are not responsible for sometimes putting people in tempting positions.  This is what happened with Ellie and her husband.

His rude and sinful behavior of staring at other women touched on her insecurities and jealousy.

She reacted to his sin with more sin in lashing out at him in anger and in her failed attempts to reform her husband and control her husband.  This completely went against God’s prescribed method for wives to deal with disobedient husbands.

She compounded her sinful reaction to him by ultimately sending her husband away without just cause which then put her husband in a tempting position.

Her husband reacted to his wife’s sin of unjustly kicking him out by sinning even more by engaging in whore-mongering with a woman at church when he should have kept his distance from that woman.

At each point both Ellie and her husband had a chance to stop the escalation of sin in their marriage and neither one chose to do so. Ellie’s husband could have chosen to stop staring at other women.  Even if he did not stop staring Ellie could have chosen to practice the I Peter 3:1-2 principle and given her husband over to God while continuing to faithfully serve him. That would have also required her to give her insecurities and jealousy of her husband over to God. Her husband could have chosen to stay away from that woman at church even after his wife had kicked him out.

An alternate theory of events

Up to this point we have just accepted the fact that Ellie’s husband was actually staring or gawking at women in some kind of rude and noticeable manner. But I believe based on Ellie’s story and this statement by her that the situation might have been different:

“We had prayer, promises, lengthy discussions lots of hurt and mistrust and anger (sin on my part) and after 18 months of more of the same.”

Notice the key word “promises”. This indicates to me that her husband had made some commitments to her to stop whatever this offending behavior was. Yet he continued to do it.

A man can promise not to stare or gawk at women and actually accomplish this change. This is very doable for us as men.  But if we are made to promise not to look or even glance at another woman this is impossible for most men and I would argue even many women.  We are naturally drawn to beauty as human beings.  Men are even more visually wired then women and we can be drawn into the beauty of a woman without even consciously realizing it. Even for the men that seem not to even glance at other women – a feat she says her previous boyfriend accomplished – often these men are simply very good at hiding their glances to where a woman would never notice.

But if this was the case that she was asking her husband to not even look at other women as opposed to staring and gawking at them then it was Ellie and not her husband that began this spiral of sinful behavior with her insecurities and jealousy.

What to do if you are faced with this situation as a wife

If you find yourself feeling bothered by your husband looking at other women you first need to ask yourself these questions.

How long is he looking at women around you? Is it just for second and then he looks in another direction or toward you?

If this is the case then this is by definition a “glance” and not the act of staring.  Even if he repeats his glances at a woman this is still not staring. Staring is a prolonged look and most people would agree that it takes longer than a second for someone to stare.

So if he is not staring you as a woman need to look inward. The truth you must face if you realize your husband is not staring but simply glancing at an attractive woman is you are bothered by the fact that he finds another woman attractive.

These are the reasons you may be bothered by your husband glancing (as opposed to staring) at other women:

  1. You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.
  2. You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.
  3. You are worried that your husband will cheat on you or leave you for another woman.
  4. You are not insecure about your beauty, in fact you feel that you are gorgeous. But you believe your womanly beauty is the only beauty your husband should take pleasure in.

Now let’s explore each of these reasons that your husband glancing at other women bothers you.

You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.

Realize this has nothing to do with your husband and everything to do with you. Men don’t typically marry women they don’t find attractive. Most men think their wives are beautiful but there feelings don’t make through their mouth.  Just know that your husband thinks you are beautiful unless he tells you otherwise and just because he finds another woman attractive does not mean he does not find you attractive.

You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.

Many women felt beautiful when they were younger but as they have children and age and their body changes they no longer feel beautiful.  Again husbands should attempt to verbally compliment their wives and assure them but the fact is many men struggle in this area to put their feelings into words.  Realize that your husband most likely still finds you beautiful.  He has aged with you. He may have even gained some weight with you.

So here is what is happening if your primary insecurity is over your weight gain. Every time your husband looks at another women, especially a woman closer to her optimal weight it is a painful reminder to you of the weight you have gained.  But realize the problem is not with him appreciating the beauty of those women – the problem is with you and your weight. The answer to your problem is not tell your husband he can no longer look at another women because it makes you realize how much weight you have gained.  The answer is to lose weight! Go on a diet and exercise. But realize even then he is still going to notice the beauty of other women but you won’t feel bad anymore.

You are worried that your husband will have sex with other women or leave you for another woman.

This is an insecurity that many women have regarding their husbands looking at other women and in most cases there is no logical reason a woman to have this fear.  For most men – if their wives are keeping them well feed in the sexual area with regular and enthusiastic sexual relations they are not going to go around sleeping with other women.

But if you are not keeping your husband well feed in the sexual arena you have every reason to fear that your husband in a moment of weakness may give into his sinful nature and engage in sexual relations with another woman.  If this is the source for your fear you can fix this issue! Have regular sexual relations with your husband! Keep him well feed in the area of sex.

It makes my head spin how many emails I get from men who tell me their wives won’t have regular sex with them but then they also get angry whenever they look at another woman.  This is utterly senseless on the part of women who do this!

You are not insecure about your beauty, in fact you feel that you are gorgeous.  But you believe your womanly beauty is the only beauty your husband should take pleasure in.

This attitude that some women have comes from one thing and one thing only – pride. All women want to feel beautiful and this is a natural desire they have been given by God. But there is a difference in a woman wanting to feel beautiful and a woman wanting her beauty to be her husband’s idol. That he must appreciate her beauty and her beauty alone.

If you find yourself feeling this way as a wife you need to confess this sin of pride to God. Realize you are not the only beautiful woman in the world and that it is natural and normal for your husband appreciate the beauty of other women.

For more on how to process you husband looking at other women in a way that honors God and your husband’s God given male nature please see my series “How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women?

Should a man risk divorce to confront his wife’s rebellion?

Should a Christian man risk his wife divorcing him to confront her feminist and rebellious tendencies? Or is it an act of sacrificial love for a husband to submit to his wife in order to save his marriage? Should a husband attempt to discipline his wife until she accepts her place in God’s design knowing that she might leave him and take his children?

These are the kinds of questions that are raised by a story I received from a man who identifies himself as “John” in response to my post “Fathers can save our families from feminism”.

John’s Story

“My wife and I married as equals. We were not Christians in a true sense, but had cultural ties to Christianity. I believed in feminism when I married. After we had our first child something changed. Looking into my new daughters eyes awakened something in me. I knew at that point that there absolutely was a Creator God and there was NO WAY this child was a random event. I began searching in earnest for God and He found me and saved me on May 1st 2005.

Any Christian reading this will understand when I say that my journey with Christ has been wonderful, challenging, exciting, and unexpected! Unfortunately my wife, who I adore, had not joined me yet😔. Also I have come to understand the perils of feminism and the benefits of a biblical family structure. When I have tried to lead I’ve been shut down entirely. She has threatened divorce thrice and hired a lawyer once. I believe she is serious about not only not being submissive but about calling the shots as she has also rejected her own ideals of equality.

My lawyer told me she would get the kids and everything. So I’ve submitted to protect my family. I can accept the insinuations on this website that I am weak or pathetic or groveling or whatever. These are just unkind words. But I’m convicted by the thought that I’m disobedient to God in my stance. I’m truly confused now. I accept that feminism is a lie, that the bible is truth, and I’m ready and willing to act in that way and lead my wife. I wish to do so sacrificially and gently by putting her first. Her adamant refusal and willingness to blow up the family gives me pause. Our children will be hurt and taken from me, their father, if this happens. From the frying pan into the fire! Help!…”

John let me say first and foremost that my heart goes out to you and the millions of men who have to deal with this kind of situation you are dealing with in regard to your wife’s rebellion toward you as the authority God has placed over her.

Egalitarian or “partnership” marriages are based on a lie

Your statement:

 “My wife and I married as equals. We were not Christians in a true sense, but had cultural ties to Christianity. I believed in feminism when I married.”

What I think you mean by the phrase that you “married as equals” is that you embraced the modern belief that marriage is an equal partnership. You were feminists and egalitarians.

Your statement:

“I believe she is serious about not only not being submissive but about calling the shots as she has also rejected her own ideals of equality”

Your wife’s behavior proves a truth that I have said many times on this site.  In most so called “equal partnership” marriages the woman is actually the head of her husband and her home.  In a few “equal partnership” marriages the man is actually the head but he is much more subtle about his leadership than men are in traditional or Biblical marriages. Your wife does as you say and “calls the shots”. This makes her the dominant and you the submissive.

Egalitarianism is a lie that many people believe and your wife is one of them. One person will always be more dominate than the other.  This is the nature of human relationships.  She has lied to herself as so many women do and convinced herself that she truly believes in and acts as an equal partner in your marriage when she clearly does not.

A marriage will either be a “subtle” patriarchy (male lead) or a “subtle” matriarchy (female lead) – there is no such thing as true partnership marriage.

The only difference between the subtle matriarchy in most self-proclaimed egalitarian marriages and the overt patriarchy practiced in traditional and Biblical Christian marriages is that the wife tries to convince herself and her husband that she is not really leading the relationship and the family.  But make no mistake she is the matriarch.

Even if true partnership marriages existed – they would exist in direct violation to God’s design of marriage and the family.

Sometimes your Christian faith may cost you your marriage

Your story of the birth of your daughter bringing you to Christ is one I have heard before.  For many it is not until they see the beauty of new human life that they realize there truly is a God and he really does have a plan for our lives.  I am so glad you came to place your faith and trust in Christ.

The Bible tells us that sometimes our faith, especially when we start to live it and put it into practice will make enemies even in our own home!

“34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:34-38 (KJV)

We can see in the words of Jesus Christ that sometimes our Christian faith will bring us into direct conflict with those closest to us – even those whom we love.  Your wife, the woman you love, has become your spiritual “foe”. Some may object to me saying this about your wife but the words of Christ could not be clearer here.

Now God also wants you to love your enemies and pray for them:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” – Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

But remember what Christ said in verses 37-38 of Matthew 10? Yes you are to love your enemies and pray for them but you are not to love them more than God.  What Christ means here is if you allow your family (and this includes your wife) to cause you to sin against God or not to follow God’s commands for your life then you are not worthy of Christ.  The phrase “worthy of me” does not mean you will lose your salvation as some Christian teachers falsely teach.  It means you are not living your Christian life in a way that is worthy of what Christ has done for you.  Christ is admonishing you to run the Christian race (live the Christian life) in a way that is worthy or befitting of what he has done for you.

Paul speaks of a person’s faith and the impact it has on their unbelieving spouse causing divorce in I Corinthians:

“13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” – I Corinthians 7:13-15 (KJV)

Here is the truth – God commands that you lead your wife:

“23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)

He also calls on you to sacrifice yourself in effort to make your wife holy as Christ gave himself to make his church holy:

“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)

God does not call on you to keep your wife in the marriage at the cost of you disobeying his commands to lead your home. If she wants to depart you must let her depart.  Will it cause a lot of emotional pain to you and your children in doing this? Absolutely it will.  But this is a sacrifice that God has called you to make in obedience to him. If you fail to do this then you are in essence loving your marriage and family more than you love God.

Your children will be hurt in either case

I just spoke about the hurt that divorce will cause your children.  But realize that your children will be hurt in either case.

If you stay your children will be hurt by the bad example they see of their father submitting to their mother. This completely breaks the model of marriage and it goes against the natural relationship that God created there to be between a man and woman.

And no Ephesians 5:21 is NOT talking about husbands submitting to their wives in marriage.  This heresy is wide spread in the Church today but it flies in the face of the Scriptures.

I encourage you and my other readers to read my post “Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?” Where I extensively deal with Ephesians 5:21 in its proper context.

The short answer is this. The Greek word hupotasso which is translated as submit, obedient, submission and subjection in the KJV is a military term meaning to “to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject, put in subjection, obey” and in most cases it is referring to obeying one’s authority. But there are some cases where it used in the sense of “voluntary cooperation” and this is the sense it is used in Ephesians 5:21 when speaking of the relationship between church members in the assembled church.

But it is impossible to see hupotasso having this same meaning of “voluntary cooperation” in the relationship of a husband and wife because God pictures the husband and wife relationship as that of Christ and the Church.  Are Christ and his Church equal partners? Does Christ submit to his Church? The answer from Scripture are clearly NO.

This is why it is the height of absurdity to say that husbands are to submit to their wives in the sense of laying down their authority that God commands them to take in marriage.

Children need to see a strong father who leads his family and a mother who demonstrates what submission to authority looks like. In this way they learn both what proper leadership looks like and what proper submission looks like.

If you stay in your marriage your children will have a very warped view of what masculinity and femininity mean and what leadership and submission are to look like in God’s design.

In essence you are standing your ground with your wife not only because of your higher allegiance to God and his commands for your life but also for the betterment of your children.  Right now and for the next year or so it will be very tough on them.  But eventually they may come to faith in Christ (if they have not already) and come to respect that stand you took for God.

You won’t lose your kids and you won’t lose everything

Your Statement:

“My lawyer told me she would get the kids and everything.”

John if your lawyer told you that then you need to get a new lawyer. There was a time when women used to get full custody of the kids in most divorce cases and Dads only got two weekends a month at best. Thankfully that has changed as men have fought back and law associations dedicated to fighting for men’s rights have come to the rescue. Courts are less likely to award alimony and if they do it is only temporary. Yes you will have to part with half your physical assets but you will be able to start over.

Yes you will have to pay child support but I would fight alimony.  In divorce whoever is the most patient usually wins.  In most cases court appointed arbitrators will try and scare you into a settlement but it is your right to take your case all the way to the judge. Unless they can prove that you would be an unfit parent you can file for joint custody.

I have joint physical and legal custody of my kids and I know several of my friends that also share joint legal and physical custody with their ex-wives.

There are two keys to getting what you want from divorce – patience and steadfastness.  Make sure what you want is realistic and then stand your ground and do not be pressured by your lawyer, her lawyer or a court arbitrator to agree to anything less.

I would suggest you turn your wife’s divorce threat around on her.  Tell her if she divorces you that will mount a “scorched earth” campaign against her if you feel you are being unfairly treated in the divorce.  Tell her a “scorched earth” campaign means if she does not agree to a fair division of the assets and joint legal and physical custody up front you will hire the most expensive lawyers you can find to drain every asset you have.  You are willing to lose your home and everything to your name in this effort.  You will drag this out in court for years if you have to. Turn the tables on your rebellious wife. Be the man that God meant for you to be.

I pray that God will give you the courage to take the tough actions ahead you need to take and to stand firm and like a man.

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 

I Corinthians 6:13 (NASB)

Other related posts:

10 ways to know if you are sacrificing your faith for your wife

A Rebuttal to Dr. Stephen Kim’s “Divorce and Remarriage”

While many Christian’s believe that adultery is the only reason that God allows for divorce few Christians take the position that Dr. Stephen Kim does in advocating for people to divorce their second spouse and either attempt to reconcile with their first spouse or remain celibate while their first spouse still lives.

Dr. Kim runs the NYPastor blog and his views on divorce and second marriages have caused a lot of confusion amongest believers.  I have had several friends contact me and ask me to review Dr. Kim’s teachings on this subject of divorce and remarriage.

In this post I will specifically be responding to Dr. Kim’s post “Divorce and Remarriage” which can be found here: https://nycpastor.com/2015/01/26/divorce-remarriage/

Dr. Kim is wrong in using Matthew 19:8-9 to cancel out all other Biblical teachings on divorce

Dr. Kim’s statement:

“The topic of divorce is, in my opinion, one of the clearest teachings of Christ in the entire New Testament.  Read the Scripture text above and you can quite easily see why I say that.  The text is very straightforward.  There’s not much ambiguity there.  There’s really not much to explain.  It is all quite self-evident.  For the sake of pedagogical efficiency , let’s just focus on Matthew 19’s teaching on this topic (other texts containing the same teaching include Luke 16:18, Matt 5:32, and Mark 10:12):

He said to them, “Moses, confronting the callousness of your heart, let you divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” But I say to you, “Whoever divorces his wife apart from adultery and will take another, commits adultery, and whoever will take her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)

Dr. Kim’s entire doctrine of divorce is wrong because he sees all statements on divorce through the lenses of Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:8-9.

The Gospel accounts of Christ’s words on divorce (Matt 5:32, Matt 19:9, Mark 10:12 and Luke 16:18) have been sorely misinterpreted by many Christian teachers over the years. Remember that we must always interpret Scripture with Scripture and we must remember that this is not the only place the Bible speaks on divorce. It is wrong to take any one passage of Scripture and make that the lenses through which we must see all the Scriptures – instead we must take the revelation of God as a whole to truly understand God’s law allowing for divorce and what situations he allows it under.

Some wrongly taken Mark 10:11-12 and use this as the way they see divorce throughout the entire Bible. But these same people neglect the exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. Dr. Kim in other posts he writes confronts those who try and use Mark 10:11-12 as their complete basis for the teachings of divorce in the Bible.

But Dr. Kim makes the same mistake with using Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 when he neglects the abandonment exception by Paul that we will see later in I Corinthians 7:15 and he goes to great lengths to explain that passage away in another post.

In another statement we will look at how Dr. Kim completely abandons the teachings of Exodus 21:10-11 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and wrongly believes Christ was setting these teachings aside in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9.

Dr. Kim is wrong in making “void the law” of Moses

Dr. Kim’s statement:

“Divorce and remarriage were permitted by the Law of Moses in the Old Testament (Deut 24:1-4). Hence, although divorce was not God’s original design from the beginning (i.e., “What God has joined together, let not man separate”), divorce and remarriage were permissible during the time of the Old Testament (which is why Jesus informs the Samaritan woman at the well that she indeed did have 5 husbands in the past (John 4:18)). However, by the time we get to Matthew 19, Jesus lays down His standard for all future believers: Marriage is for life and divorce (except for sexual immorality) is never permissible. (A woman may keep her distance–for the sake of safety–from an abusive husband, but she must not divorce him.) The man who remarries after his first marriage ended due to “irreconcilable differences,” is an adulterer (and the same goes for a woman).”

Dr. Kim in rejecting Exodus 21:10-11 and Deuteronomy 24:1-2 as still being authoritative on Biblical divorce does so based on an incorrect interpretation of Christ’s words when he said “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”(Matthew 19:8).

The words Moses spoke on divorce were just as much the Word of God as Christ’s words on the subject in the Gospels.

God hates divorce. But he has regulated and allowed divorce because human beings are sinful. Sometimes a sin is so great that it allows for divorce. God tells us which sins allow for divorce. When Christ said “from the beginning it was not so” he meant divorce was never needed before sin entered the picture. If we were not fallen sinners no man would ever have to divorce his wife and no woman would ever have to be freed from or divorce her husband. But because we live in a world where men and women do gravely sin against their spouses we must allow for divorce and that is why God created a system for divorce.

Think about it – would we need a death penalty if there were not heinous crimes like murder? We would not. But God knew there would be murders and that is why he allowed for capital punishment for murder in his law and this is the same reason he allows for divorce in certain situations.

As New Testament believers we understand that God canceled out the civil laws, the ceremonial laws, sacrificial laws and cleanliness laws given to Israel as a theocracy.  But God did NOT cancel out his moral law.  Moses’s words on divorce are part of the moral law of God.

Paul told us that we as Christians are to uphold the moral that Moses taught:

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” – Romans 3:31 (KJV)

The point is Christ did NOT cancel out Moses words on divorce.

To say that he did is to void the moral of God which we are not to do, rather we are to uphold the moral law.   Instead we understand that Christ CLARIFIED the commands that Moses received from God regarding divorce.

Moses was the first to give God’s law on Divorce.  Christ clarified Moses law on divorce. Later the Apostle Paul would further clarify Christ’s words on divorce. To have a proper understanding of God’s view of divorce we must look at Moses words, Christ’s words, Paul’s words and all the Scriptures on the subject.

Christ was not the first to teach that marriage was for life. Moses also taught that marriage was for life:

“Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.” – Leviticus 18:18 (KJV)

A man was forbidden from taking his wife’s sister as an additional wife (polygamy was permitted but did have some restrictions and this was one of them) during his wife’s “life time”.

Some Jews correctly understood Moses teachings that marriage was for life and only for the gravest of sins could a man divorce his wife. Other Jews believed they could divorce their wives for any reason (that marriage was not for life). The debate amongst these Jewish groups was over Moses words allowing for divorce “because he hath found some uncleanness in her” (Deuteronomy 24:1).

Some Jewish teachers taught this meant he could divorce his wife for any reason – even if it was just because she was a bad cook. This is why they asked Christ in Matthew 19:3 “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”

Christ was settling that argument. He was saying “No you cannot divorce your wives for just any reason you want. It must be for a very serious reason. He told men except your wife commits fornication against you cannot divorce her. But again let’s remember he is clarifying for MEN what Moses meant if they found something unclean in their wife. He was not canceling out the reasons a woman could be freed from (divorced) from her husband in Exodus 21:10-11.

Yes God hates divorce. And yes God does not want men divorcing their wives or wives divorcing their husbands. That is God’s general rule of divorce that he does not want it to happen. But God allows exceptions to his rule and he has created exceptions when he does allow for divorce.

Dr. Kim is completely wrong in making “void the law” of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Exodus 21:10-11 where God speaks on divorce. Any discussion of God’s allowances for divorce must include these two pivotal passages.

Dr. Kim is wrong in his gender neutral application of the adultery exception

Dr. Kim’s statement:

“An exception is clearly given for the case of adultery. By saying “apart from adultery,” Jesus allows the victim of adultery to divorce and remarry. In that situation, the second marriage is not considered adultery, but rather, is a valid marriage. However, the spouse who committed adultery does not receive the right to remarry. He/she must repent and remain single for the rest of his/her life. Furthermore, although Jesus grants the victim the right to divorce and remarry, it is not mandatory. The victim could choose to forgive the sin and continue on in the marriage.”

Let’s get one thing out the way first. The correct word in the exception clause is “fornication”, not “adultery” as his translation reads. Fornication (from the Greek ‘porneia’) refers to all sin that violates God’s laws regarding sexuality which includes premarital sex, homosexuality, incest, origins, prostitution, rape, Beastiality and sexual defraudment.

Dr. Kim here actually takes the common gender neutral approach to divorce passages in Scripture. Any time the Bible speaks on marriage and divorce we must look for gender specifics in commands. There are places where God gives men and women equal ground as far as rules on divorce but in other places there are specific reasons men have for divorcing their wives and specific reasons women have for divorcing their husbands.

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” – I Corinthians 7:15 (KJV)

Notice how in the abandonment exception Paul says “a brother or sister” meaning this the abandonment clause applies equally to men and women.

But in other places like Exodus we see rights in divorce that a woman has that a man does not have:

“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)

A woman could be justly freed (divorced) from her husband if he failed to provide her with food, clothing and sex. A man while having the right to divorce his wife for sexual defraudment, does not have the right to divorce his wife for her failing to provide for him because it is HIS job to provide for her.

So Dr. Kim’s unisex “he/she” approach to Christ’s words on divorce are wrong. We cannot ignore that Christ says “Whosoever shall put away HIS wife, except it be for fornication” – he means “his wife”, not “her husband”.

Also Dr. Kim is wrong in adding that the person (whom I would argue must be the woman) who has committed adultery must remain celibate for the rest of their life. If a woman is justly divorced from her husband even if for her own wrong behavior (such as adultery or sexual defraudment) nothing forbids her from remarrying.

In fact in Deuteronomy we are told:

“And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.” – Deuteronomy 24:2(KJV)

When a woman is divorced from her husband for reasons God allows (either because of his behavior or hers) she may go and be another man’s wife – remarriage is clearly allowed by God.

You see when we take the whole counsel of God (Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 24:1-2, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:3 and I Corinthians 7:15) you get a very different picture of divorce then if you simply take one set of Gospel passages from Matthew as Dr. Kim does.

Are second marriages only allowed when divorce occurs because of adultery?

Dr. Kim’s statement:

“Whoever divorces his wife apart from adultery and will take another, commits adultery.” It is clear that any second marriage (outside of the exception) is not a valid marriage in the eyes of God because Jesus calls it, “adultery.” In the eyes of God, the first marriage is still valid and in full effect. By the way, let’s get this clear: Adultery is always adultery–the passage of time does not change the nature of the sin. The apostle Paul confirms the on-going status of “adulteress” for the woman who persists to live in a second marriage by stating, “Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress” (Rom 7:3).”

Dr. Kim maintains that the only way remarriage is allowed is if your spouse commits adultery against you. Then you may divorce your spouse but only you may remarry and your ex-spouse must remain celibate for life and as I said before there is no scriptural basis for this narrow view of divorce and remarriage.

Five Biblical principles regarding “re-marriage”

First we must establish the fact that the entire concept of “re-marriage” in all cases but one applies to women and not to men. This is because God allows polygyny (a man to have more than one wife).

“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.” – Exodus 21:10 (KJV)

“And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.” – II Samuel 12:8 (KJV)

A man may take more than one wife but he must make sure that he continues to take care of the needs of his previous wives as well.  But there is one case of re-marriage with men.

God does NOT allow men to re-marry women they have divorced

“Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” – Deuteronomy 24:4 (KJV)

If a man divorces a woman he may not marry her if she ends up marrying another man.

God allows women who are divorced by their husbands to remarry

“And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.” – Deuteronomy 24:2 (KJV)

If a woman is put away by her husband then no matter if he divorces her for right reasons or wrong reasons she is free to remarry another man.

God allows women to divorce their husbands and thus remarry for failure to provide and sexual defraudment

“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)

If a woman seeks to be freed (divorced) from her husband then after she is freed she is free indeed to be remarried to another man.

God allows women to divorce and remarry if their husband abandons them

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” – I Corinthians 7:15 (KJV)

Once again as in Exodus 21:10-11 the woman is freed from her husband and free to marry another if he abandons her. Actually if he departs from her he would in fact be failing to provide her with food, clothing and sex which are violations of Exodus 21:10-11. The husband is free from his obligation of husbandly duties to her.

God allows women to divorce and remarry if their husbands abuse them

“And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.” – Exodus 21:27 (KJV)

While this is talking about a man’s slaves this principle would also apply to a man’s wife as she had more rights than a slave. If a woman’s husband physically abuses and causes her any serious bodily harm she has the right to be freed from him and she is thus free to marry another man.

Did the Bible teach the concept of second marriages being “adulterous affairs”?

Now we will examine some key verses and phrases on divorce as it relates to this concept of marriages being considered “adulterous affairs”.

“whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” – Matthew 5:32 (KJV)

The phrases “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32), “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) and “whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” (Luke 16:18) should be understood by what Christ said in Mark 10:12 where he says “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

Christ is referring to a woman that wrongly departs from (divorces) her husband and goes to marry another man. If a woman wrongly divorces her husband and marries another man then she commits adultery with another man (and he with her). This is the ONLY WAY that a second marriage can rightly be considered an “adulterous affair”.

Christ is not punishing the woman who has been wrongly divorced by her husband and relegating her to a life of celibacy.  He is saying her husband commits adultery against by unjustly divorcing her. The adultery a husband commits against his wife is NOT in him marrying another woman. He is allowed to marry a second wife, a third wife or a fourth wife by the decree of God. The adultery he commits against her is his act of unjustly divorcing her. This is a new type of adultery defined by Christ. Previous to this it was impossible for a man to commit adultery against his wife.

The phrase “causeth her to commit adultery” in Matthew 5:32 should be understood by what Christ said in Mark 10:11 that a husband who unjustly divorces his wife “committeth adultery against her”. This is not saying he causes her to commit adultery by her marrying another man. If she is divorced by her husband whether he does this for just or unjust reasons “she may go and be another man’s wife.” (Deuteronomy 24:2).

A wife who has been divorced by her husband whether for just or unjust reasons “may go and be another man’s wife.” (Deuteronomy 24:2). The sin is on his head in this situation, it is not on hers. She is no longer his wife and therefore cannot be called an “adulteress” because her husband “still lives” (Romans 7:3). The reason is that he is no longer her husband. Yes the man that was PREVIOUSLY her husband still lives, but he is no longer her husband. He has freed her even if he did it for wrong reasons. God will judge him for this – his wife is innocent in his sin of HIM wrongly divorcing her.

“marry another”

“And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.” – Mark 10:11

Does a husband commit adultery by marrying another woman? Some have tried to use this as a way to attack polygamy which is clearly allowed by God for men. But the situation Christ is describing is NOT that of a man marrying a second or third wife. This situation describes a man wrongly divorcing his first wife in order to please a potential second wife who wants to marry him but she wants him to get rid of his first wife.

This same situation was occurring in Israel when Malachi tells men they have “dealt treacherously” (Malachi 2:14-15) with the wife of their youth by putting her away without just cause.

“while her husband liveth”

“So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” – Romans 7:3 (KJV)

“39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” – I Corinthians 7:39 (KJV)

Romans 7:3 and I Corinthians 7:39 are passages that have been wrongly used by many to forbid ANY second marriages by women while their first husband still lives. This is a faulty interpretation because it ignores Deuteronomy 24:2 which clearly states that a woman whose husband puts her away in divorce “may go and be another man’s wife.” (Deuteronomy 24:2).

Again we must look at the entire witness of Scripture and interpret Scripture with Scripture. So when we understand Romans 7:3 and I Corinthians 7:39 in light of the entire witness of Scripture then we understand that a woman can only be considered an adulterous if she unjustly divorces her husband and then marries another man. This the only case in which she could rightly be called and adulterous and the man she is with would be considered an adulterer.

“let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband”

“10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” – I Corinthians 7:10-11 (KJV)

I Corinthians 7:10-11 refers to a situation where wife a divorces her husband for reasons that God does not allow. For instance when woman divorces her husband for “irreconcilable” differences she is NOT free to marry another man. She must remain celibate or be reconciled to her husband.

Conclusion

Biblically speaking when a man marries another woman this is NOT adultery. He is allowed by God to have more than one wife. The only way a man can commit adultery against his wife is by unjustly putting her away whether it is to marry another woman who wants to be his only wife or just to put her away so he can be on his own and have no obligations to provide for her and have sex with her.

The only way “re-marriage” applies to a man is when a man marries a woman he had previously divorced and she was married to another man and he tries to re-marry her. This is forbidden by God. All other marriages a man engages in cannot be considered remarriages – but simply additional marriages as he can have more than one wife.

Just because a man wrongly puts away(divorces) one his wives this does not preclude him from marrying other wives.  If a man can find a way to reconcile with this wrongly put away wife before she remarries(which she can do) he should try to do that.  But once she is remarried he CANNOT remarry her even if her second husband dies or divorces her.

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.

The Bible also talks about incestuous marriages (where someone marries a relative or a relative’s wife). Only in the case of this one type of adulterous marriage or in the case of an incestuous marriage would God demand as John the Baptist did of Herod that the marriage be dissolved.

Again the reason that Dr. Kim has come to this flawed conclusion regarding divorce and adulterous marriages is because he has chosen to use two passages(Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9) to void or reinterpret all other passages on divorce in light of these two verses.

The only way we can truly understand God’s view of marriage and divorce is by examining his entire Word on the subject.

Does God allow divorce for spousal abandonment?

If your spouse abandons you, but does not divorce you does God allow you to divorce them?

The Apostle Paul tells us about how to handle spousal abandonment in his first letter to the Corinthian Church:

“10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

I Corinthians 7:10-16 (KJV)

Many Christians mistakenly think this is just talking about relationships between a believing and non-believing spouses.   But the principle of a spouse departing remains the same whether that spouse is a believer or not.

Paul starts this passage by reminding of us Christ’s word on divorce, and that God does not want husbands and wives divorcing each other without a cause that God approves of. He then adds another cause that God allows divorce for – the sin of abandonment.

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” I Corinthians 7:15 (KJV)

But Paul does not say divorce – he says “not under bondage”

Some Christians will say “Paul does not use the word divorce, but he simply says they are not under bondage” – meaning the person cannot divorce and remarry. They simply don’t have to go seeking after the departed person. But again word “divorce” does not have to be used. In Exodus 21:10-11 divorce is spoke of as a woman being “free”. In the same way when Paul says a “brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” – he is saying they are freed from that marriage.

This cause for divorce applies equally to both genders

By his language “A brother or a sister” Paul makes it clear that both a man and a woman can divorce their spouse for abandonment. This is not a gender specific cause for divorce.

How long must one wait?

The Bible does not specify a wait time in cases of abandonment. I personally believe that even if a spouse says they are leaving never to return – that a Christian should give their spouse a long time to reconsider. My thought would be to wait at least a year before filing for divorce.

Conclusion

God does not require a believer to be bound to a spouse that abandons them. Marriage requires to people, if one departs then the marriage covenant has been breached and there is no more marriage.

Does God allow divorce for abuse?

Does God allow a husband or wife to divorce their spouse for abuse? Is domestic violence a Biblical cause for divorce?

So far in this series we have shown that while God hates divorce, and God does not allow “no fault divorce” or “divorce for any cause”. He only allows divorce for certain causes. Many Christians believe that divorce is limited to only two causes – adultery and abandonment. This is based on Christ’s words in the Gospel on divorce and Paul’s words about abandonment.

However this interpretation ignores other key passages of Scripture like Exodus 21:10-11 that allow a woman to be freed from her husband for other causes.   Neither Christ nor any of his Apostles removed these rights from a woman, or her right to divorce if these rights were denied.

Does the Bible speak specifically on spousal abuse?

No. The Bible never specifically speaks on spouse abuse. However the Bible does speak on the subject of physical abuse in other contexts:

“And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.” – Exodus 21:26-27 (KJV)

If a man physically abused his male or female slave and caused any type of serious physical damage – he had to free them.

It is human right that God has given to all mankind –we do not have to allow ourselves to be physically abused.

Some have tried to point to passages in the New Testament like Matthew 5:39 to suggest that a spouse needs to allow physical abuse to continue for Christ’s sake:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 (KJV)

But they are ignoring the context of Christ’s statement. For the sake of the Gospel –we are to endure all manner of persecution – even unto death. He is not talking about a husband or wife taking a beating from their spouse in marriage.

The right to be freed from physical abuse is a human right, regardless of who the abuser is – whether it is a parent, an employer, or even a spouse.

In the context of marriage physical abuse would constitute a breach of the marriage covenant.

What kind of abuse are we talking about?

If you look at the language of Exodus 21:26-27 it clearly speaking of physical abuse that causes bodily harm. It is not talking about “emotional abuse” or any other kinds of abuse. In fact in I Peter he tells slaves:

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” – I Peter 2:18(NIV)

God does not allow a master being harsh, or a husband being harsh, or a wife being harsh as a reason for a person to be freed.   In other words, God does not allow divorce for emotion abuse, only for physical abuse.

Conclusion

There is no reason to believe that God would expect a husband to stay with a wife who stabbed him and tried to kill him (physically abused which resulted in great bodily harm). There is no reason that God would expect for a wife to stay in a marriage with a husband who continually beats her or her children as this is a basic human right given to all people – the right to not be physically abused.

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