Our modern Christian culture actually looks down on and shames women who believe they do not have a right to divorce their husbands for their whoremongering ways. The real shame is not on these women for honoring their marriage covenants, despite their husband’s sinful ways. The real shame is on our modern church for how wrongfully tell them they are “enabling their husband’s sin” by staying.
“This article has given my great comfort. My husband is openly and unrepentantly committing adultery with a teenager in our town. It’s common knowledge that he has rented an apartment where he spends three nights a week with her.
Everyone is telling me to leave him, even my pastor and my conservative Christian family, quoting Matthew to show that Jesus would approve. They claim by not imposing consequences I’m enabling his sin.
This doesn’t seem right to me. I stood at the alter and promised to love honour and obey him in, sickness and in health, till death us do part. Well, open fornication with a teenager sure sounds like a sickness of the soul to me. I’m to do this not because his actions deserve it, but because he is my husband and I am to submit to his authority. It is painful. At times I feel absolutely crippled with jealousy. Especially grueling is submitting to him in the bedroom, knowing how he spent the previous night.
I feel powerless, and ugly, and old, and saggy, and pathetic. But here’s the thing: in this state it’s hard enough to find the strength to be his helpmeet and mother to our three children — WITHOUT also suffering the condemnation of the entire community (much of it behind my back) for not separating. So thank you so much for the validation that I’m behaving in a godly manner.”
My Response to Sarah and Other Women With Whoremongering Husbands
Sarah – first and foremost I am glad that you saw what God’s Word actually says in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 and not what you wanted it to say. You saw that God only allows a man “to put away his WIFE” for fornication and that he makes no such allowance for women to put away their husbands for fornication.
Is your husband absolutely wrong in his actions of having an affair with this teenage girl? YES. But we need to be clear on something. He is not committing the sin of adultery; he is committing a different sin, but not the sin of adultery.
Our modern definition of adultery has been made gender-neutral to fit our cultural view that polygamy (or more specifically polygyny) is wrong. The fact is that God rewarded Leah with another child for giving her husband another wife in Genesis 30:18 and God expressly allows polygyny and set rules for its practice in Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Deuteronomy 25:5-7. God even pictures himself as a polygamist husband to Judah and Israel in Ezekiel 23:1-5.
And God’s prohibition on bishops and deacons having more than one wife in 1 Timothy 3:2 & 12 is no different than his stricter marriage standards for priests in the Old Testament. For instance, in Ezekiel 44:22 priests were forbidden from marrying divorced women or widows (except widows of other priests) but these restrictions were not binding on the general population of men. So, the idea that because bishops and deacons – church officers – must be the husband of one wife, that all men must be the husband of one wife is absolutely false.
Not let me bring this back to our modern definition of adultery versus the Biblical definition adultery. Biblically speaking there is only one way that a man can commit adultery against his wife and it is not him having sex with another woman. The only way a man can commit adultery against his wife is by him wrongly divorcing her. This is exactly the situation that Christ is addressing. But we have to assemble his statements together to see the full picture.
Matthew 19:3 gives us the full question that the Pharisees of asked of Christ – “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” The key phrase being “for every cause”. In other words, they were asking “Can a man divorce his wife for any reason he chooses?” And Christ’s answer was NO. He told them that if a man divorces his wife “except it be for fornication” that he “committeth adultery”.
And then in Mark 10:11 Christ said “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her”. Is Christ saying it is a sin for a man to marry another woman while he is still married? Some of have tried to twist this verse to say that to condemn polygamy. But God allowed polygamy and made no change on that in the New Testament – so we know he is not reversing his former allowance for polygamy. So, what is the sin in marrying another? It is him divorcing his wife to marry another. In other words, the woman he is seeking to marry is insisting on him divorcing his first wife. This scenario is seen in Malachi 2:14.
So if your husband is not committing adultery by having sex with other women then what sin is he committing – the answer is the sin of whoremongering. When a man has sex with women not his wife this is a sin against his own body and against God.
In 1 Corinthians 6:15 & 18 the Bible says “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid… Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body”. And in Hebrews 13:4 the Bible says “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge”.
Here is my point in all this. You must see your husband’s sin as it is. A sin against God and against his own body. God will judge your husband for his whoremongering, if not in this life, in the life to follow. And you must leave his sin to God and continue to do what is right as a wife.
If you can learn to frame your husband’s sin as the Bible does and not as your feelings as a woman lead you to, it will go a long way to helping you to be a better wife to your husband even as he remains in his sin. Your jealousy toward this other younger woman would disappear overnight if you realized that your husband’s sin is not in merely having sex with another woman, but that it is because he is unlawfully having sex with another woman. In Biblical times your husband could have legally married that teenage girl and taken her as another wife. You would be absolutely wrong and in sin to be jealous of your husband taking another younger wife. I would argue that your jealousy even now, is sin.
You do not own your husband; your husband owns you.
Many Christians falsely point to 1 Corinthians 7:2 to say that God gives husbands and wives equal ownership over one another. 1 Corinthians 7:2 states “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”.
What most people do not realize is that there are two different Greek words for own in that passage. The first with the man is “heautou” which refers to exclusive ownership. The second Greek word with the woman in regard to her husband is “idios” and does not refer to exclusive ownership. It can actually refer to the one being owned. Romans 14: states ““Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own [idios] master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
And since we know that the husband is the master of the wife according to 1 Peter 3:5-6, then we know what 1 Corinthians 7:2 is saying. It is saying each man should own his wife as her master and each woman should be owned by a master (her husband). In no way does it limit a man to just one wife. It is saying he should have at least one wife if he does not have the gift of celibacy.
If your husband is committing the sin of whoremongering should it bother you as his wife? Certainly. Whenever we see someone else sin it should bother us. But it should not bother you based on feelings of jealousy. If your reason for being upset at your husband is “Why am I not enough for you? Why do you need this other woman?” that is the wrong reason to be upset.
In fact, you are actually taking up an offense against God and being upset at your husband’s God given polygynous sexual nature. Your husband’s actions are not wrong because you as his wife are not enough for him sexually. Your husband’s actions are wrong because he is having sex with a woman outside of marriage and he is committing the sin of whoremongering against God. In other words, your husband has allowed his sin nature to corrupt his God given polygynous sexual nature into causing him to commit the sin of whoremongering.
Yes, his sin should bother you. But it should bother you because it is a sin against God. Now if he leaves you for this woman, then the sin does become against both you and God. But do not worry yourself over it until it actually happens. And remember how 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NASB) says you as a wife should respond to your husband’s sin:
“In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your pure and respectful behavior.”
Win him with your submission and your pure and respectful behavior toward him. In other words, attempt to win him back to God with your actions, not with your words. And part of your pure submissive, pure and reverent behavior toward him is you freely and willingly (without an attitude) giving yourself sexually to your husband and putting all thoughts of that other woman out of your mind. Rid yourself of your jealousy
and give it to God.
To listen to the companion podcast for this article click on the link below to go to BGRLearning.com.
Many books and articles have been written on various Christian views about the biblically allowable reasons for divorce. But few books and articles have been written on how to navigate the divorce process once you as a man find yourself in the thick of it. And even amongst the small amount of literature written for Christians on navigating the divorce process – there are none that approach this subject from a truly biblical viewpoint. And that is the problem this guide is meant to remedy.
I went through the process of divorce as a Christian man more than a decade ago. And I received a lot of conflicting advice as well as advice that did not match up with the Bible. I wish I would have had a Biblical guide like this then.
If you as a Christian man want to navigate the process of divorce using Biblical principles then you must first be willing to throw out all your modern cultural conditioning. And when I say “modern” I don’t just mean the last few decades. I mean cultural conditioning that was set in motion in Western civilization more than five centuries ago.
In this guide I will give you a brief history lesson on societal views of divorce starting with Biblical times, then moving to the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods and finally bringing us through the 19th and 20th centuries. I will show you how the seeds for all the changes in marriage and divorce were planted more than five centuries ago. And I will demonstrate how all these changes deviated from God’s design of gender roles, marriage and even his allowance for divorce.
Rest assured though that this guide will not just supply you with knowledge of how the divorce process used to work and how wrong it is today. This guide will also help you to deal with the range of emotions you will experience as a man and how to deal with your hurt and anger in positive ways. And I will supply you with real world advice on how to navigate each step of the divorce process and all of this will be backed by Biblical principles.
Before I get into this guide, I just want to say something about divorce in general. In Malachi 2:16, the Bible says “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away”. God hates divorce and so should we as Christians. But we must realize that the same God who said he hated divorce also prescribed a process for divorce and he himself divorced his wife (the nation of Israel).
The fact is that God shows in the Scriptures that because we live in a sin cursed world there are some sins which God says can be grounds for breaking a marriage covenant. And because a marriage covenant can be broken by certain sins, there must be a process for how divorce may occur.
The sad reality is that the vast majority of divorces that are initiated in 21st Western civilization are not initiated for Biblical reasons that God allows. Not only that, but most divorces that are filed today are filed by women (they initiate divorce 70 percent of the time). And regardless of the reasons for initiating divorce, the modern divorce process itself has become completely unbiblical.
This is what I will tackle in this guide. I will show you as a Christian man how to biblically navigate an unbiblical divorce process which has been established by our civil governments.
With all that said as an introduction I will now give a brief history of divorce from Biblical times to our present day.
The Divorce Process in Pre-modern Times
For 7000 years of human history, divorce was typically a rare thing in societies around the world. God allowed men to give their wives “a bill of divorcement” and “send her out of his house” in Deuteronomy 24:1. And there were of course small spikes in divorce amongst various cultures. The prophet Malachi addressed one of these spikes that occurred in Israel.
In Malachi 2:14-16 we see that God says that men act “treacherously” if they break their marriage covenant with their wives and divorce them for unjust reasons. Later in Matthew 19:9 Christ would clarify what God was saying about men treacherously divorcing their wives. Christ said if men divorced their wives “except it be for fornication” (sexual sin) then that they were committing adultery against their wives. The Apostle Paul would later state in 1 Corinthians 7:15 that men were “not under bondage” to wives who left them and therefore men could divorce their wives for abandonment as well.
It also important to point out that even in cases of biblically justifiable divorce, the Bible never prescribes a method for a woman to initiate divorce from her husband. Instead, the Bible uses the language of the woman being freed from her husband if he does not provide her with three things required by his marriage covenant. Exodus 21:10-11 says that if a man does not provide his wife with food, clothing and sex “then shall she go out free”.
So how would a wife be freed from her marriage even under these justifiable circumstances? The Bible is silent on this. In Mark 10:12, Christ recognized that Roman culture, which dominated the world at that time, did sometimes allow a woman to “put away her husband” but Christ made no allowance for this.
From Jewish historical accounts outside the Bible, we know that in Israel if a woman was not being provided with food, clothing or sex from her husband that she could approach a male relative (her father, grandfather, uncle, brother or cousin) and then that male relative would act on her behalf to compel her husband to give her a bill of divorce freeing her from the marriage.
But this goes to a larger issue – why does the Bible describe justifiable divorce for a woman as her being freed from her husband? The answer is that under Biblical law a man’s wife is considered his property. One of the clearest representations of this Biblical concept is found in Deuteronomy 22:22 which states the following:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
The words “married” and “husband” are a translation of the Hebrew word ‘baal’ used as both an adjective (of the woman) and noun (in reference to the husband). The word ‘baal’ means master/owner and it can also mean someone who is owned by a master when used as an adjective. In Hebrew this phrase from Deuteronomy 22:22 literally means “a woman owned by a master”.
The New Testament encourages women to continue to regard their husbands as their masters in 1 Peter 3:5-6 and in Israel today traditional Jewish women still call their husbands baal.
Even before the law of Moses was penned it was commonly recognized that men owned both their wives and children throughout human history. And this is why in most cases even when divorce did occur (which was rare) it was usually initiated by the man because women had no power to do so.
And when divorce did occur, either because the man voluntarily sent away his wife or he was compelled to do so by her male relatives, she usually left with just the clothes on her back. The man typically retained control of the home and the children.
This is one of the strongest reasons that women rarely petitioned their male relatives to help them get a divorce – no matter how much they disliked their husbands. Because to do so would mean leaving their children behind with their husband and unless they had relatives willing to take them in it meant living in poverty.
Now that you have read God’s design for marriage and his allowance for divorce some of the feelings you have been having are starting to make sense. These are feelings you may not want to admit to anyone because they conflict so much with how you have been conditioned by modern western values. You may even be condemning yourself for having them. And these feelings are “She is mine, those are my children and this is my home – this is wrong. She can’t take herself and my children away and she can’t take my home!” Biblically speaking, these feelings which are common in men match exactly with God’s design for how things should be. It is our modern system that has deviated from his design.
How the Renaissance and the Enlightenment Planted Seeds for Changes in Divorce
Before the Renaissance, marriage was seen as a sacred religious and societal institution. Marriage did not come about the way it does today. It was rare for a man to romance a young woman and then have her fall in love with him followed by him asking her to marry him. Instead, parents often arranged the marriages of their children to better their social or economic standing. And if anyone was being asked about marriage – it was a man asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage often without saying a word to the woman first. It did not matter if she was attracted to the man or not. The father would make the decision based on the character, social and economic status of the man asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
What this meant was – it was extremely common for couples to marry and not “be in love” – meaning they did not at first have strong affection for another. Often the man would have strong physical attraction for the woman – but typically the emotional and romantic affection for one another would come long after the wedding. And sadly, some married couples never came to have affection for one another.
But humanist thinking in the Renaissance began to question how marriage was entered into and why people stayed in marriage. The entire concept of parents arranging marriage for their children came into question. And the radical idea was born that marriage should be entered into based on a man romancing a woman first and then her choosing him based on her feelings.
Plays like Romeo and Juliet (1597) and a lot of other literature of the years to follow would firmly plant in the minds of young people the idea of marriage being based on romance instead of it being based in duty to one’s faith, their family and the good of society.
Near the birth of the Enlightenment in 1689, the humanist English philosopher John Locke would pen a work entitled “Two Treatises of Government”. Even though John Locke was not the first philosopher to write on individualism (Thomas Hobbes did that in 1651) it would be Locke’s treatises on how governments should operate that would lay the foundation for American thinking and modern democracies.
In this work, Locke would propose the radical idea that the husband has “no more power over her life [the wife] than she has over his”. He believed that once human beings reach full maturity (adulthood) that both men and women should have full autonomy. In other words, when we say today of a woman that “She is an adult, she can make her own life decisions” we owe that thinking to John Locke. The idea that women should have full autonomy and control over their lives was a foreign concept to previous generations of humanity.
And it was this thinking – that women should have full control over their lives just as men do which planted the seeds for modern feminism which would then push for changes in divorce laws.
How Early Feminists Fought for Changes in Divorce
The first woman’s rights conference occurred in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. In their “Declaration of Sentiments”, the women of the conference stated the following:
“In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of the women – the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.”
The statement above was a declaration of war on patriarchy in society and the Biblical view of marriage found in 1 Peter 3:5-6:
“5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
Most Americans at first rejected the radical proposals of the first woman’s rights conference. But over the coming years, they would wear down societal opposition to these changes. And the way they did it was in appealing to American ideals of individualism which originated in the writings of John Locke.
While the women desperately wanted suffrage (voting rights for women), they knew there was not enough national support for that yet. So, they targeted the next best thing – divorce laws. Under the guise of fairness to women and doing what was “in the best interests of the children” the “Tender years doctrine” was proposed and adopted by courts in the United States starting in the late 1800s.
The Tender Years Doctrine
The Tender years doctrine was actually an ingenious ploy to get women more power in marriage and in divorce. It played on the beliefs of patriarchal society that women are better suited than men to care for the daily needs of the children and the home.
The Tender years doctrine was accompanied by child support laws and a new expansive reading of “domestic cruelty”. Depending on the judge, all some women had to do was cry on the stand in court regarding their husband’s cruelty and they would be granted a divorce and awarded with full custody of their children, child support and alimony payments. With all these historic changes to the divorce process, a woman could now for the first time in human history be able to tell a man “If you don’t make me happy in this marriage – I will take our children and you will be paying me support for decades”.
It should come then as no surprise that divorce rates surged from 3 percent in the mid-19th century to more than 13 percent by the time of women’s suffrage in the early 20th century. Divorces again jumped as women incrementally gained more and more economic rights during World War 1 and World II and by the end of the 1970s the divorce rate had climbed to near 50 percent. It was only in the 1980s that divorce rates began to drop into the mid 40 percent range because of the rise in cohabitation and the subsequent drop in marriage rates.
There is some good news for men on the Tender years’ doctrine front. Starting back in the 1980s when divorce was at its peak, lawyers for men in divorce began to directly challenge the Tender years doctrine on the grounds that it violated the Equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. And the courts began to gradually accept this argument. But it would be naive for anyone to think the Tender Years doctrine has been completely eradicated from our family courts. It is still very much present even if it must be hidden by court representatives. However, at least now men have a chance of getting joint custody of their children.
Now that we have looked at the history of divorce and societal changes which changed the divorce process, we will look at how the modern divorce process violates God allowance for divorce.
The Modern Divorce Process Violates God’s Allowance for Divorce
The Scriptural truth is that God designed marriage to be a union of a man and woman together for life. But sin corrupted that design so God allowed for divorce. He did not allow for divorce for any reason like modern no-fault divorce laws allow. But even in the case of divorce for reasons God allowed, God prescribed a process for how divorce would occur.
In Deuteronomy 24:1-2 God prescribed the following process for divorce through Moses:
“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.”
The process of divorce that God allowed was simple. If a man found “some uncleanness” in his wife he was to “write her a bill of divorcement”. This bill of divorcement would let the community know and other potential husbands for her know that she was no longer his wife. He no longer had the obligations of a husband toward her and she did not have any obligations to him as his wife. Her marriage to another man under these conditions would not be considered adultery – but would be approved by God.
Over time some Jewish men abused the “some uncleanness” clause and began to divorce their wives for any reason. It could be that she was a bad cook, she was argumentative or perhaps bad in bed.
In Matthew 19:3 the Bible says “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”. So, Jesus answers a very specific question and that was does God allow a man to divorce his wife for any reason? We need to be clear on the gender here as many modern Pastors and Christian teachers wrongly apply Christ’s answer to both men and women. It is specifically given to men.
Christ’s answer is found in Matthew 19:9 where he states the following:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”.
So, Christ answered what God meant in Deuteronomy 24:1 by the phrase “some uncleanness”. God was saying that a man could divorce his wife for sexual immorality. He could not divorce her simply because she was a bad cook, not a great lover or even if she was contentious and unsubmissive.
But notice that nowhere in the Gospels does Christ modify God’s process for divorce – that a man must write his wife a bill of divorce. Christ only clarified when divorce was allowed, not how divorce would happen.
Previously we mentioned God’s allowance in Exodus 21:10-11 for women to be freed from their husbands if the husbands did not provide them with food, clothing and sex. But the Bible is silent on how women would be freed from husbands who violated their marriage covenants in this way.
The reason the Bible does not prescribe a way for a woman to write her husband a bill of divorce is because she is the property of her husband. So, the only Biblically allowable way for a woman to be freed from her husband (divorced from him) is for him to give her a bill of divorce freeing her from the marriage.
Men Are Always to Lead the Process of Divorce
The Bible shows that men are to lead women in all aspects of marriage. Fathers have the responsibility to give their daughters in marriage (Jeremiah 29:6) and to refuse their daughters in marriage to men they deem unworthy (Exodus 22:17). And husbands are to rule over their wives (Genesis 3:16, 1 Peter 3:5-6) and oversee all aspects of the marriage (Ephesians 5:24) and they are also called to oversee divorce if it is necessary – whether they are the ones at fault or the wife is at fault.
As I mentioned earlier, we know from Jewish history outside the Bible that if husbands were neglectful of their duty to provide for their wives that the male relatives of those women would pressure the man to divorce their female relative. And no Biblical principle would prevent male relatives of wives from forcing husbands to fulfill their Exodus 21:10-11 obligation to free their wives in the case of their neglect to provide food, clothing and sex.
The principle that men are to oversee and lead the process of divorce is clearly established in the Old Testament and remains unchanged in the New Testament. And it is the widescale abandonment of this crucial principle that has led to the explosion of divorce rates in Western society over the past two centuries. Allowing women to take charge in the divorce process has proved to be one of the worse societal decisions in the history of mankind. When men were completely in charge of whether divorce occurred or not divorce was almost non-existent.
Even in the case of a woman who was truly wronged by her husband and had allowable reasons for divorce, her male relatives (father, brother, uncle…) would have to agree to pressure her husband to give her a divorce. This process provided a failsafe against the emotional whims of women. It protected marriage as a crucial societal institution rather than just a “relationship” for the sole purpose of the mutual happiness of two people as it is seen today.
The Bible Does Not Cancel a Man’s Ownership of His Property in Divorce
In Deuteronomy 24:1-2 God prescribed the following process for divorce through Moses:
“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.”
When God prescribes the process for divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-2 he says that he shall “send her out of his house”. Notice the husband does not send his wife out of “their house” but rather it is “HIS house”. The entire idea of splitting all the assets of a husband with his wife upon divorce is a completely foreign concept in the Bible.
The Bible Does Not Cancel a Man’s Ownership of His Children in Divorce
And speaking of a man’s property. Besides his wife what is a man’s most precious property? That would of course be his children. And it is in this area of child custody that our modern divorce process yet again go contrary to the principles and teachings of the Bible.
In Exodus 21:7 the Bible says “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do”. You cannot sell that which is not your property to sell. God allowed Hebrew fathers to sell their sons and daughters as indentured servants. And while our modern society may look on such a custom today with disgust – this ancient custom allowed for many families to escape poverty by selling the services of one or more of their children. The period of service could be no longer than six years and the difference was between how sons or daughters went free. Sons automatically went free but daughters had to be redeemed because women were to remain the property of men if possible. So, the daughter could be sold back to her father or bought by another man to be his wife.
The point here is that biblically speaking children are the property of their father, just as the wife is the property of her husband. And just because a woman is freed from her husband in divorce does not mean she gets to take her children with her. This is why until the invention of the modern Tender Years doctrine, men maintained full custody of their children in divorce.
But Shouldn’t the Best Interests of the Children Guide the Divorce Process?
This whole “best interests of the children” philosophy is what lead to the creation of the Tender Years doctrine as we previously mentioned. The “best interests of the children” approach to divorce is an application of the humanist doctrine of individualism.
Here is a brief reminder of what secular humanism is according to secularhumanism.org:
“As a secular lifestance, secular humanism incorporates the Enlightenment principle of individualism, which celebrates emancipating the individual from traditional controls by family, church, and state, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life.”
The main difference between Humanism and Biblical Christianity could be summed as follows.
Biblical Christianity places God and the interests of his institutions of marriage (the family), the church and the nation above the interests of the individual. On the other hand, Humanism places the interests of the individual above the institutions of marriage, the church and the nation.
For 7000 years of human history, why did men stay with mean and cruel wives and why did wives stay with mean and cruel husbands? The answer was they put the interests of the institution of marriage and family above their own happiness as individuals. And when families sacrificed to support the pastors of their churches and missionaries what were they doing? They were putting the interests of the institution of the church above their own interests as individuals. And when men went off to war in defense of their nations, they were putting the interests of God’s institution of the nation state above their own interests as individuals.
Humanists are more than willing to see marriages and families destroyed, churches closed or even nations destroyed in their pursuit of the best interests of the individual. This is why humanists had no problem shuttering churches during Covid – because for them the supposed interests of individual health come above that of the institution of the church. And this is why humanists have no problem at all with allowing unregulated and illegal immigration because they do not care about the wellbeing of nation states. In fact, for most humanists, they would love to see all nations go away and instead go to a one world government.
The Bible shows us that God cares more about the preservation of marriages and families than he does about the interests of individuals within those families.
This is why God only allows men to divorce their wives for sexual sin or abandonment and it is why he only allows wives to divorce their husbands for failure to provide the food, clothing or sex. While husbands and wives can sin against each other in many other ways, it is clear that God considers a woman’s sexual faithfulness to her husband to be core to the institution of marriage and he considers a man’s provision for his wife to be core to the institution of marriage.
And now let’s return to the best interests of children. There is no argument that women are best equipped to care for children. God has specially equipped women to be able to nurture and care for children. The Bible says in Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?”. Women are equipped by God with natural instincts for caring for children. Now does that mean there are no bad or neglectful moms? Of course not. There are some women whose natures are so corrupted by sin that they neglect and abuse their children. But the fact remains that women are usually better suited to caring for children than men are.
However, we must also consider that while women are better suited to caring for children, that children still need fathers in their lives even at young ages. And divorce will impede this involvement. What that means is that the best interests of the children doctrine in divorce is really just trying to choose the better of two bad choices when it comes to the children.
What is actually best for children is to have a loving father and mother whose marriage pictures the relationship of Christ to his church.
But we need to remember as Christians that this entire paradigm that we must do whatever we think is in the best interests of children (ask best interests of individuals) at the expense of the institution of marriage is wrong.
In Isaiah 3:12 the Bible says “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths”. Does that not describe the society we find ourselves in today?
As Bible believing Christians, instead of looking out for the best interests of children and women as individuals, we should be looking out for what is best for rebuilding and preserving God’s institutions of marriage and patriarchy.
The Bible declares God’s institution of patriarchy in 1 Corinthians 11:3 when he says “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”. God has ordained male headship for all areas of society including but limited to the home and church. We need to return to this order.
How much do you think the divorce rate would drop if women knew their husbands would automatically get fully custody of the children? If we were to return to the policy of civilizations before the 19th century Tender Years doctrine, we would return the rights of men and given women a strong incentive not to seek divorce from their husbands. In other words, returning to a policy of men retaining full custody of their children in divorce would rebuild and strengthen God’s institution of patriarchy and at the same time help preserve his institution of marriage.
What About Situations Where the Man Is Physically Abusing His Family?
While the Bible does not specifically address physical abuse in the home between husbands and wives or parents and children it does supply principles about how to address physical abuse which would absolutely apply to the home as well.
In many ways Exodus chapter 21 is the basic human rights chapter of the Bible. It speaks of private property rights, including the concept of human beings as private property. It speaks of children being the sellable property of their fathers (vs 7) and wives being the property of their husbands (vs 8). And it speaks of slaves being the property of their masters (vs 21).
And yes, contrary to American values that we fought a civil war over, the Bible actually explicitly allows slavery. The Southern preachers were absolutely right on that theological point. What they were wrong on was that the Bible does not prescribe slavery based on race. It does not teach that Whites had a natural right to enslave Blacks. On that point the Southern preachers were absolutely wrong. And the South was absolutely wrong in its abhorrent treatment of its slaves.
And it is the humane treatment of slaves which provides the basis for the humane treatment of all human beings and especially those who have owners.
The concept of human property is an idea that humanists simply cannot comprehend. For them the starting basis for human rights is that all people must be completely free and have the same rights. They grant a little less rights for children based on their lack of maturity. But as for adults, in the humanist mind, they must all be social equals. For any human being to have less rights than another human being, regardless of their gender, religious beliefs, ethnicity, immigration status or any other social status is blasphemous to the religion of humanism.
Secular humanism claims to be nonreligious because they don’t believe in supernatural gods (or anything supernatural for that matter). But make no mistake, they have a god and that god – the thing they center their lives on – is humanity. And they have formed doctrines, just like that of other religions, around the worship of their god.
Now we will return to the subject of the humane treatment of slaves as prescribed by the Bible. In Exodus 21: 20-21 & 26-27 the Bible states:
“20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money…26 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. 27 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: 20-21 & 26-27 teaches us that it is not inhumane for a person to own a slave or even to use corporal punishment on their slave. But these Scriptures also reveal that corporal punishment can be taken too far and that masters can held liable for doing so. In other words, the passage above recognizes the concept of physical abuse by masters of their human property.
And when we realize that the Bible explicitly calls the husband the master of his wife (1 Peter 3:5-6) and it implicitly makes the father the master of his children by giving him the power to sell them (Exodus 21:7) then we understand that these rules for the humane treatment of slaves also apply to a man’s wife and children. Therefore, we can rightly say that the Bible does actually condemn a husband physically abusing his wife and children.
And as side note, no a man’s wife and children are not slaves. They are owned, but have different rights and a different social status than slaves. This is another concept that utterly confuses our humanist friends. In their view, for a person to be owned is for them to be a slave. They cannot fathom how someone can be owned, yet not a slave. But I digress.
And now we must be clear on what actually constitutes physical abuse according to Bible. Physical abuse Biblically speaking is when someone causes a serious injury (such as the loss of any eye, a tooth, a broken bone, internal bleeding…ect). It is not simply causing someone a bruise. In fact, the Bible says the following about causing bruises during corporal punishment in Proverbs 20:30:
“The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.”
So, bringing this back to our subject of divorce the Scriptural principle we can derive from Exodus 21: 20-21 & 26-27 is as follows.
If a man as the master of his wife and children physically abuses them according to Biblical standards of physical abuse, then the wife and children can and should be freed from his ownership. In other words, a man who physically abuses his wife and children forfeits his ownership rights of his wife and children. This issue of physical abuse would be a perfect example of when male relatives from either side of the family should be stepping in to protect the wife and children and force the man to give them up.
And now that we have presented God’s process for divorce and how our modern divorce process deviates from his process – we will get into how you should approach the divorce process as a Christian man.
8 Biblical Principles for Men Going Through Divorce
What follows are eight biblically based principles along with real world situations that will help Christian men to navigate the modern divorce process.
Principle #1 – Modern Divorce Is a War
Christ said in Matthew 10:36 that “a man’s foes shall be they of his own household”.
The first principle that you need to grasp is that you must regard your wife, the woman whom you once loved and perhaps still have feelings for, as your spiritual and legal foe during this divorce process.
You need to see divorce as a war in the defense of your family and that your wife is no longer a part of your family.
On one side of this war is your wife backed by state laws and a family court system that is heavily slanted toward women. And on the other side is you trying to fight both her and an unbiblical legal system which gives women rights and power that God never meant for them to have.
You might ask “What if I don’t have children? Should I fight just as hard?” And the answer is absolutely YES! The decisions you make here could financially cripple you for years to come and impact your future wife and children.
Also, because this divorce process is not just a spiritual war, but a legal war – you definitely should seek out an attorney to assist you. But as you get an attorney and listen to his advice on what to ask for remember that it is just that – advice. You get to choose whether you will listen and act on each part of their advice or if you want them to do something different. Some attorneys are great and others are lazy and will just try and get you to settle as quickly as possible. And still other attorneys will purposefully pursue actions they know you will loose simply to run up your tab. So yes, get an attorney – but also be careful with your attorney.
Thankfully I had a great Christian attorney during my divorce. And he did everything he could to keep my bill to a minimum. In fact, out of all the men in my divorce support group, I had by far the smallest bill at the end of my divorce. One of the things he had me do was to think of questions I had for him all week long and write them down on a pad of paper. So, I would only call him once a week after I had organized all my thoughts and questions. And if I remembered another question, I would just write it down for the following week’s call.
And now I have one final thing I want to say on this principle of divorce being a war and me saying your wife must be regarded as your foe.
Notice I said spiritual and legal foe. Don’t take this as an actual physical battle and go looking to get into a physical altercation with your wife. In fact, that is the very worst thing you could ever do during the divorce process and will not only land you in jail, but if you have children, it will most likely result in your wife getting full custody of them.
Principle #2 -A Christian Man Must Fight for What is His
In Nehemiah 4:14 the Bible says:
“And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
God calls men to fight for their children, their wives and their houses.
Fight for Your Wife
First let me address fighting for your wife. Should you as a Christian man fight to save your marriage? Absolutely!
And biblically speaking there are two ways you can fight for your marriage as a man.
If your wife is divorcing you for Biblical reasons – for things you have done which God says allows her to be freed from your marriage, then you definitely should try to fix these issues and reconcile your marriage.
And this is the first way you can fight for your marriage. If you have been a lazy husband who refused to work to provide for your family or if you were systematically sexually denying her or were physically abusing her (by the Biblical definition of physical abuse) then you should fight for her by repenting of these sinful things you have done toward her. Confess your sins to her and to God and turn from these wrong behaviors.
But what if your wife is divorcing you for reasons that the Bible does not allow? For example, what if she is divorcing you because she has “fallen out of love for you”? Or maybe she is divorcing you out of rebellion against you because you started to exercise your God given dominion over her?
Or perhaps you are the one filing for divorce against her because she committed adultery with another man or has systematically sexually denied you throughout the marriage.
Should you seek to appease her in her sinful behavior to get her to come back to you?
Some Christian preachers and teachers wrongfully teach that the answer is yes – that you should appease your wife and do whatever it takes to get her to come back to the marriage. I received this wrong counseling in the early stages of my divorce before I recognized that it was wrong.
And some will falsely point to this passage where God says the following in Hosea 2:14 to his wayward wife, the nation of Israel:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.”
But what these pastors and teachers are missing is that in the first part of the chapter before this verse God speaks of his punishment of his wife Israel. He says he divorced her for her unfaithfulness to him (vs 2) and says he will punish her more even after putting her away. That he would strip her naked and humiliate her before all and take away what food and other things she had left (vs 3-4 & 9-13). It was only after this because she would seek to return to him because of her misery (vs 7) that he would allure her and speak comfortably to her after she repented.
And this is the second way you can fight for your wife and your marriage while you are going through separation and divorce. If your wife is in sinful rebellion against you and by extension God who has placed you over her – you fight by making her life miserable just as God did with his wife Israel.
What was God doing by removing his wife’s food, clothing, silver and gold in Hosea chapter 2? He was reminding her of what he had provided her in their marriage. And this is one of the reasons she said it would be better for her to return to her husband (God) because she had all these things when she was with him.
One final note on fighting for your wife and your marriage. If your wife has committed sexual sin (either by having sex with another man and/or by systematically sexually denying you), you can choose to take her back and restore your marriage but you are not biblically obligated to do so. Yes – this is what God was offering to Israel, to take her back after her unfaithfulness. But Christ allows men to exercise their right to divorce their wives for unfaithfulness in Matthew 19:9.
Fight For Your Children
Our post-feminist society is completely stacked against men and one of the areas this is most clearly seen is in our family court systems.
I can tell you both from my firsthand experience dealing with this (I divorced my wife for adultery) and from countless men I have spoken to in person and online over the years that this is the case. The court arbiters and even sometimes a man’s own lawyer will try and get him to settle on various issues when he should not.
More often than not it comes down to the Judge overseeing the case. Many judges are heavily slanted toward women no matter what they did in the marriage. A few rare judges actually treat men fairly.
When I was getting divorced, my divorce attorney who was a Christian as well, told me to pray for a particular judge in our county to be assigned to our case. That he was not slanted toward women and fairly judged between men and women. And thanks be to God – we got the judge we were looking for assigned to our case. And he was more than fair with me.
It cannot be overstated that the fairness of the judge is crucial and very much affects custody arrangements, alimony and distribution of marital assets.
I have a friend who is currently going through divorce in the same county I got divorced – and he unfortunately ended up getting a horribly feminist judge. This judge gives women every benefit of the doubt, yet does not do the same for men. The court ordered a psych eval of both my friend and his wife and the court appointed psychologist confirmed his wife’s diagnosis of schizophrenia and her horrible paranoid delusional episodes and the fact she does not faithfully take her medicine that she had been prescribed. She had record of false police reports and a host of other bad behaviors.
Yet my friend had to fight tooth and nail just to get 50/50 custody with his mentally ill wife who says delusional things based on her paranoia to her children all the time. They were trying to give get him to agree to a 70/30 split with his wife having their children 70 percent of the time. This is how slanted the system is toward women when it comes to child custody. Now if a psychologist had confirmed that my friend (the husband) had paranoid delusional episodes and he was not faithfully taking his medicine you can rest assured that judge would have granted his wife full custody.
But throughout his divorce process I have encouraged my friend to fight for his children. I have made it clear to him that he does not have to settle just because the court arbiter or even his attorney has said he should. And on several issues after fighting his way through, even with a very slanted judge, he has won one on some issues. Other things he did not. But I told him “At least you fought and did all you could”.
In the beginning he was seeking full custody of his children because of his wife’s mental issues and her not faithfully taking her medicine. His own lawyer and the court arbiter tried to pressure him into 70/30 custody telling him it was most realistic because he was the sole provider for the family while the mother was full time at home. He sought full custody, but settled for 50/50 which was still better than the 70/30 that was originally proposed to him.
My point here men is this – do everything you can to fight for your children. Maybe your wife is not mentally ill. Ok. Then go for 50/50 custody. That is a reasonable request in most divorce situations even though the system tries to get men to accept less.
On this issue of child custody for men another issue needs to be addressed. There are times when men do not fight for 50/50 custody and they actually want 70/30 or even 80/20 arrangements where the mother will have the children the majority of the time. Why do men do this? Most of the time it is out of fear. They don’t know how they will manage so much time taking care of their children on their own, especially if they had a stay at home wife.
I was in this situation where I was in a divorce with a stay at home wife (she had been having an affair with an ex-boyfriend so I filed for divorced). But at first it was scary to me that I would have to be taking care of my kids on my own with no help from her so many days a week. But with God strengthening me I never showed that fear to either my ex-wife or my children. And I fought hard and won the custody of my children that I thought was right.
Men you can do this. Don’t give into fear about how you will manage caring for your children. You can do this. And you will come to regret it one day if you let fear win instead of fighting for as much custody of your children as you can get.
Principle #3 – A Christian Man Must Provide for His Children
Jesus said the following about fathers providing for their children in Luke 11:11-13:
“11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”.
One of the most important ways that a man images God in the lives of his children is in his provision for them. This crucial aspect of fatherhood cannot be interrupted during the divorce process or after the divorce is final. This is a man’s sacred duty toward his children.
Ways You Can Look to Provide for Your Children During and After Divorce
The first way is through child support (which is required). You must present earnings statements to the family court (and if your wife works, she must provide these same statements as well) after which the court then inputs your incomes with the number of overnights you will each have your children and then they have a formula which calculates who owes child support to whom and how much is owed. In most cases the man is the higher bread winner and the mother has more overnights than the father. And that is why in most cases the father will be paying child support to the mother.
The second way you provide for your children is also required. In most divorces it is the husband who is forced to get another place while the mother stays in the marital home with the children. This means you get another place, most likely an apartment, and then need to get clothing and furniture for your children.
While it is true that the wife must buy out her husband’s half of the equity, courts are very lenient with women as to the timing of when this must occur.
For instance, with one of my friends from my divorce support group, the judge allowed three years for the wife to refinance their marital home to buy out his equity share. I remained friends with him after our divorces were final and even three years later, she got additional extensions from the court and did not pay him his equity share until more than 5 years after the divorce was final. And she was not a stay-at-home mom when they divorced – they both worked and made similar incomes.
This is of one of the hardest things for men to deal with – the concept that that they must literally provide a home, food and clothing for their children in two separate homes. I and many of the men in my support group went through this mental frustration. If both the husband and wife worked before the divorce and her income was not much less than his, than the hit will be less to the husband. But in the case where the man makes substantially more than the wife and especially if the wife was a stay-at-home mom – the financial hit to the man can be devasting.
But there is also a third way that a man can provide for his children that is not required – but I fully recommend.
At that is helping them with things their mother should be paying for but is not. This happened to me and many of my friends over the years. The mom does not buy them a new coat or shoes when they need it or equipment for their sports they will play in. She will tell them she can’t afford it and send them to you – their father.
Now at this point you may be thinking “Isn’t that what I pay that massive child support check for?” and you would be right in thinking that. And besides that, the court requires that the mother also contribute to providing for the children out of her own means apart from your support check.
But it is in these times of need that you have a unique opportunity to show your children that you love them and that you are the one they can come to for provision and help in their life. I can’t tell you how many times throughout the years after my divorce that I was presented with this situation and I paid for things for my kids that their mother should have paid for. But it paid huge dividends with my children later as they got older.
Does a Man Still Have to Provide for His Wife During Divorce?
Providing for your kids is one thing. But do you still have to provide for your wife during and after divorce? Biblically speaking the answer is that there is no requirement for a man to provide for his wife whom he is divorcing. Really in the Bible divorce was very simple and happened in one day. The man gave his wife a bill of divorce and sent her out of his house. Case closed.
However, in our modern months long divorce process (takes at least six months or more in most cases) the answer to this question from a legal perspective will depend on several factors.
In previous decades when women were forced to be economically dependent on men, child support and alimony awards from family courts were far more generous and women were not forced to work as often as they are today.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics as of 2021, only 25 percent of wives are unemployed and completely financially dependent on their husbands. But with the 75 percent of wives who do work, only about 30 percent of them earn more than their husbands.
This means for women who already work and make less than their husbands, that even with your child support and alimony she is going to have to find additional sources of income.
And if you married a wife who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom but then wants to pull the divorce card you – she is in for a really rude awakening. The judge is going to force her to go out and get some skills and work. Staying home and just collecting alimony and child support payments won’t be enough in most cases.
Some family courts have adopted a policy where one party in the divorce cannot be impoverished in order to support the other. However, this policy is not consistently implemented and it very much depends on the fairness of the judge involved. The sad fact is many men still today are impoverished by court ordered support and divorce settlements that they must pay to their ex-wives.
And speaking of alimony. In the 1960s alimony was awarded in about 25 percent of divorces to women. Now courts award alimony in less than 10 percent of divorces and in many cases and they put limits on the amount of years alimony must be paid out. Also, the policy of not impoverishing one spouse to support the other comes into play here and sometimes men who are not wealthy but have good lawyers can get alimony payments significantly reduced or dismissed altogether.
So here is the bottom line when it comes to financial support to your wife during and after divorce. If you are the only breadwinner or even if she works and you make significantly more than her – expect to be ordered to support her at least through the divorce process. But definitely fight alimony. The divorce process usually takes at least six months and that is plenty of time for your soon to be ex-wife to get a job. However, when she does get a job, you may actually be ordered to help pay part of her child care expenses if she will still make significantly less than you.
Should A Man Report All His Income to the Family Court?
This has always been a topic of big importance in the men’s divorce support groups I have participated in over the years whether they were in-person groups or online groups.
Obviously if you have a normal hourly or salary job and or even a regular contracting job you will get a W2 or 1099 which clearly shows your income. We are not talking about men not disclosing these forms of income as they are easy for courts to get records of. What we are talking about is cash income or other types of income (such as bartering) where there is no paper trail of such income.
The 9th commandment in Exodus 20:16 states “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” and in Colossians 3:9 the Bible says “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds”. And in Numbers 23:19 the Scriptures state that “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
It is passages like the ones above and many others in the Bible about the need for Christians to be truthful in their lives that have led many Christians since the early church to believe that all forms of deception are sinful.
And it is these same passages which have led many Christian men to believe that they must disclose every form of income they have to family courts during divorce proceedings.
But Christians who believe lying and deception are always wrong for a Christian make the same mistake that those who say divorce is always wrong for a Christian.
Let me demonstrate by putting the following two passages together:
“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” – Colossians 3:9
“And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” – Mark 10:11-12
What do both these passages have in common? By themselves they appear to teach that it is always wrong for someone to lie and it is always wrong for someone to divorce their spouse.
But when we examine the Scriptures as a whole, we find that this is not the case for either lying or divorce.
For instance, with divorce, we see that Christ made an exception for men divorcing their wives when he said “except it be for fornication”. And we also see later in 1 Corinthians 7:15 that Paul makes an exception for divorce when he states if a Christian man or woman’s spouse abandons them, they are “not under bondage in such cases”. And there are several other exceptions for divorce given throughout the Bible. So, biblically speaking it would be correct to say that divorce is a sin in most circumstances, but in some circumstances it is not. And this is not moral relativism to say this.
It is absolutely morally wrong for someone to divorce their spouse for reasons that God does not allow. But if they divorce for reasons that God allows, then there is no sin. And in the same way, it is absolutely morally wrong for someone to lie or practice deception in a situation in which God does not allow lying. But if someone lies in a situation in which God allows deception to practiced, then there is no sin.
In other words, in most cases the actions of lying or divorce are sinful in the eyes of God, but in some cases these actions are not sinful. In fact, in the case of lying, it is sometimes holy and right to practice deception.
In Exodus 1:15-21 we see the story of the Hebrew midwives. In this story the Pharoah orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all Hebrew baby boys as soon as they are born. It says in verse 17 “But the midwives feared God” and saved the baby boys. When they were confronted by the Pharoah, they could have told him the truth that they refused to follow his order because it would have been a sin against God for them to do what he said. In fact, they could have refused at the moment he ordered them to perform this wicked act. But what did they do instead? They lied about what they did saying the Hebrew women delivered before the midwives could arrive to help.
The truth was that the Hebrew women, just like the Egyptian women, needed midwives to help them deliver and without midwives the children and the mothers faced a much greater chance of death during delivery. So, if the Hebrew midwives would not have practiced this great deception and had refused and been killed for doing so, many Hebrew women and Hebrew babies would have died during child birth without the help of the midwives.
And the Bible tells us in Exodus 1:20 that “God dealt well with the midwives” for their deception which saved many innocent Hebrew lives.
In Joshua 2:1-20 we see the story of Rahab the Harlot who lived in Jericho. Rahab not only hid the Israelite spies from being found out by her government, but she also lied about them leaving and sent them in the opposite direction. In addition to this she continued to keep the coming invasion of Israel a secret which stopped Jericho from preparing for the siege of the Israelites.
For this act of deception on her part, the Bible enshrines in her name alongside other heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11:31 and in James 2:25 the Bible says “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”.
It is clear from the stories of both the Hebrew midwives who saved innocent children with their deception and Rahab who saved Israelite spies with her deception that God does not consider lying to be wrong in all situations.
The principle that we learn from story of Rahab and the Israelite spies is that deception in war and lying to protect your family from harm is not a sin in the Bible.
Rahab took sides with the Israelites and lied to protect both the spies and her own family from harm from the soldiers of Jericho. And you must do the same with your family. Remember that divorce is a spiritual and legal war with your wife on one side trying to form her own new family and you on the other side trying to protect your family.
I have personally seen men I knew from support groups who were forced to live in poverty for years because of property and alimony agreements they made during their divorces. Their wives were wicked and while they may have had boyfriends, they purposefully never married them so they could keep their large alimony checks.
And I have seen Christian men hampered from being able to court other women and being able to start new families because they are paralyzed by the financial devastation of their divorce arrangements.
It is for these reasons that I absolutely encourage Christian men going through divorce to practice deception when it comes to their assets and income wherever they can while they are in this spiritual and legal war otherwise known as divorce.
Practically speaking this means you need to find ways to lower your reported income in every way possible. But please don’t think you think you can quit your job as a mechanical engineer and go work at McDonalds. The family court when looking at your income will look at your education and work experience to determine what they think the range of your income should be.
So, if you are a mechanical engineer, you may want to move to another engineering company to make less money. But when you make the move – you have to show the necessity of the move. So, one of the reasons you could give for the move might be because you now have to pick up your kids from school and have to be closer to the school or work less hours. Or perhaps you could even arrange it with your current employer that you need to be laid off which forced you to get another job. And then that job “just happened to be making less money”.
And you can do the same things with collections and other assets you have besides your home. You might have tens of thousands of dollars in various collectibles. Can you sell all of them and just hide the money? No. The family court will catch that. But can you syphon off some collectables and other assets that your wife may not know about or just a small enough amount that she would not be able to verify? Yes.
So yes, as man involved in the war that is divorce you need to practice deception. But you need to do it in a wise way that cannot be easily detected by either your wife or the family court.
And one final word on this topic of men employing the art of deception during divorce. Some may say “Even if deception is Biblically allowable in some cases, God always wants us to obey our governing authorities and the family court is a governing authority”.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:13 to “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake”. But Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”. Notice the language Christ used. He did not say render to God the things that are God’s and everything else belongs to Caesar (the government).
In Micah 2:1-2 God says this about governing authorities using their power to violate the property rights of their citizens:
“Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.”
The government has God given obligations to protect property rights as God has assigned them. And God never allowed the government to take away a man’s property or income to give to his wife in divorce.
What this means is as a Christian man you should fight to preserve your heritage (your income and property) as much as possible during the divorce process. Even if that means using deception to do so.
And one final thing I want to say on this subject of income for men during divorce. Seek out additional cash income sources otherwise known as “work under table”. This serves two purposes. First it will help to offset the financial devastation you will most likely experience during divorce and as long as you are careful that your wife does not find out – you won’t have to report it. But there is a second added benefit – keeping yourself busy will help to take your mind off the troubles of your divorce.
Principle #4 – A Christian Man Must Discipline His Children
Proverbs 13:24 says “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
It is not uncommon for men to waver with disciplining their children during a divorce. Often times the fathers have the children for less time than mothers and they want to make the most of the short time they have. But children need the discipline of their fathers even in divorce situation.
Now may the discipline have to be modified? Yes. If a man has a wife that is looking for any reason to lower his custody time or if she is looking for an excuse to get full custody then he may want to alter his discipline methods. Specifically, if he was engaging in corporal chastisement as the Bible allows and recommends, he may have to switch to non-physical discipline.
The last four principles that Christian men who are going through divorce need to follow come from one of the simplest yet most powerful passages of the Bible:
In 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NASB) the Bible states:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
Principle #5 – A Christian Man Must Be on Guard Against Threats to Himself or His Children
You must be on guard to threats against yourself or your children which may come from your wife. The following are some things you need to be on guard against:
Your wife may try to clean out your joint bank account and move the money to a new account she has by herself.
Your wife may bring in a boyfriend after you leave the home during the separation and divorce process – what kind of man is he and how is he with your children?
Your wife might make up abuse allegations against you to try and get full custody of the children.
In a fit of rage, she may destroy your personal belongs she knows you hold dear.
She may try to poison your children against you telling them things she made up or even if some things are true, they are inappropriate things for children to hear about their parents.
She may try to seduce you to get a better divorce settlement and then turn around and threaten to say you raped her if you don’t give her what she wants. Be very careful of this one. Even if she does not use the false accusation of rape threat, sex can be a powerful tool for a woman during the divorce process. Many men because they were desperate for physical connection during the divorce have actually signed on to horrible divorce settlements because their soon to be ex-wives kept using sex during the process to manipulate them.
And here are ways you can protect yourself during the divorce process:
Never be alone with her during the divorce process. Make sure at least the children are present and try not to go into her house where she can accuse you of doing things in her home. Have her bring the children out of the house to the car when exchanging them for parenting times. Also never let her in your apartment or home for the same reasons.
Make sure all communications are via email. Many family courts today have special communications systems for husbands and wives to discuss all issues. If you talk on the phone -she can say you said anything she wants. Reserve phone calls only for emergencies with the children and even then, ask for them to follow up the phone call with official communication via email as proof of the event for the court.
If you have a wife who will not follow the rules of communicating via email and insists on calling you or coming to your apartment or house – record the conversation. Consider investing in cameras for the outside of your home as videos of her going nuts on the porch may be golden. One word of warning on this – the majority of states allow “one party consent” recording between private persons meaning if you are taking part in the conversation, you can record it without the other person’s knowledge. But some states require the knowledge of both people to record conversations so you may actually be breaking the law by recording your wife. Check your state laws first.
Make a preemptive strike on the bank account by opening a new bank account and moving the money there along with your direct deposits from your job. Continuing paying the bills as you normally would and giving your wife money for normal things like groceries and other household needs. Make sure you have a record of the money you give her – maybe take a cell phone picture and have her sign a receipt for the money. When it comes time to come before the family court judge, he will most likely order that you place your wife on the new account. And at that point you can explain to the judge why you did this and now that your bank statements will be monitored by the court – you feel safe in adding your wife to this account.
Principle #6 – A Christian Man Must Be Strong
The strength mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:13 is not speaking of physical strength nor is it saying that all men must be body builders. But rather it is speaking of a man’s spiritual and emotional fortitude. Even in the face of the destruction of your family in divorce, you must lean on God and other men to maintain your spiritual and emotional strength.
These are the stages of grief that most people go through when getting divorced:
Since 70 percent of divorces are filed by women it is the men who usually experience these stages the hardest. Most women have gone through at least some of these stages for many months or even years before they finally pull the trigger and file for divorce.
But for the men in most cases – divorce hits them like a freight train they never saw coming. And when you also add to this the fact that most men compartmentalize and suppress their emotions – it makes it that much harder on them. This is why suicide rates during divorce or just after divorce are much higher for men than for women.
So, what do we mean when we say men must remain strong? Do we mean that a man cannot express any emotion during divorce? No. In fact, it is good and healthy for men to express their emotions – but this needs to be done in the right place and setting.
The men in my divorce support group were an invaluable resource to me during my divorce. I highly recommend to any man that is going through divorce that he finds some kind of church sponsored men’s group. You might have to find one at a different church or even a different Christian denomination than the one you attend and that is ok as well.
But it is here in these men’s groups that you can and should pour your heart out as a man. Some weeks you might just want to listen to other men and hearing their struggles helps to validate yours. Then other weeks it will be you that needs to speak and you talking will help other men as well. Sometimes you just need to vent. And this is a great place to do that. These groups will help you as a man get through the stages of grief much faster than you would have without being in them.
Being strong sometimes means being strong enough to face your emotions and to express them in the proper setting (like a men’s group). But at other times, being strong means being in control of your emotions and not expressing them.
For instance, while it is perfectly good and healthy for you as a man to express your emotions in private settings with other men whether it be one on one or in a group – it is not good for you do this in other settings. It is not appropriate for you to be breaking down crying or going into a fit of rage in front of your wife, your children or especially in arbiter meetings or court hearings. This is where strength means controlling and holding in your emotions.
Your children need to see strength from you. They look to their father for safety and security and you breaking down crying all the time in front of them or going into fits of rage in front of them will not make them feel safe or secure.
And the reason you don’t do these things in front of your soon to be ex is a little different. You don’t break down in front of your wife because you don’t want to let her see you sweat. A man losing control of his emotions in front a woman demonstrates weakness to her – whether she realizes it consciously or not. And throughout the divorce process you to project nothing but strength with her.
One final note on remaining strong. You will have failures in this regard. Very few men go through divorce without their children ever catching them crying. It’s going to happen. And very few men go through divorce without overhearing their father losing about the divorce – either with a friend on the phone or talking to their mother.
But just realize it when you do this and determine to do better next time. Act like a man and be strong.
Principle #7 – Flee Sexual Temptation
In 1 Corinthians 6:18 the Bible states:
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
And in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 the Bible says:
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.”
You may have remained sexually pure before you married your wife and you may have never been with another woman while being married to your wife. But when you are going through the emotional roller coaster of divorce you will be sexually tempted. And you need to be on guard against this.
The obvious sexual temptation spots for Christian men to steer clear from would be strip clubs, massage parlors, bars and night clubs. But there are other areas of sexual temptation as well during divorce. You need to be very careful of pouring your heart out to single women you know, whether they are at your job or at your church as you may easily fall into sexual immorality in these situations as well.
Also even if you are taking steps not to be alone with a woman, you need to avoid getting into any relationships with women during the divorce process. Biblically it is not sin to do so as men are allowed by God to practice polygamy. But it is not wise to do so. While it may bring a lot of emotional comfort during the divorce progress it could also bring problems. You may not think as clearly as you would otherwise and simply give your wife whatever she wants be it money or child custody because you want to move on to your new life with a new woman. Leave this for after the divorce.
Principle #8 – A Christian Man Must Be Firm in His Faith
1 Corinthians 16:13 tells that a man must “stand fast in the faith”. To “stand fast” means to plant one’s feet and not be moved. It is means to hold the line.
As you are going through this divorce there is no more important principle to remember that to stand firm in your faith and to be unwavering no matter what comes your way during the process. It is your firm faith which will help you to fight for what is yours, to continue disciplining your children, to keep your guard up and to be strong.
You need to be in the Scriptures daily – especially the Psalms to look for daily encouragement. Remember that God is sovereign and he knows the end from the beginning. And know that he can bring you through this trial and make you stronger on the other of it – if you will only let him.
And please do not forget to pray daily. Pour your heart out to God often during this process.
Modern divorce is part of a larger war on Biblical patriarchy. The modern divorce process utterly denies men the rights which God has bestowed upon them. On one side of this war is your wife who is backed by the state which has bestowed power and rights upon her not given to her by God. And on the other side is you who stand alone against the state and your wife (ok not completely alone if you have a lawyer – which you absolutely should!).
This war will have many battles. Some you will win; others you may lose.
Someday, long after the divorce is final, you and your wife may be able to be cordial and you may even be somewhat on friendly terms. And if you can get to this point it will be helpful with parenting your children.
But the divorce process is not the time for civility. You must accept that during the divorce process that you and your wife are in a spiritual and legal battle against one another. You are no longer team mates. You are opponents.
You need to realize that God does not just expect you to roll over and give your wife whatever she wants in the divorce. God says a man is one who fights for what is his and he is one who is strong and stands firm in his faith. A godly man must always be on guard against physical, spiritual and legal threats against himself. And very importantly a man must realize that during the divorce process his wife is his spiritual and legal foe. He must protect himself from possible threats from her at all times.
During your divorce you will face battles on many fronts. You will face many battles in your own mind. You may face dark thoughts of suicide or sometimes even dark thoughts of hurting your wife. You may feel depressed and feel that you will never marry again. And this is why it is good for you to seek out a men’s support group to work out these feelings. We men can often be loners. But divorce is no time for a man to be alone. We need the brotherhood of good Christian men around us to lift us up during this difficult time.
And while it is not wise to engage in any new relationships with women during your divorce process – there is nothing wrong with holding on to the hope that you will have another wife in the future after the divorce is over. Just make sure you don’t rush into a marriage to another woman without fully vetting her.
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What follows is an email I received from a man named Mark.
“BGR- I have been reading your articles for about two years now. Been married to my wife over 16 years and we have children together, our oldest of which is a teenager. My background includes being raised in the church and my father was a pastor. For the first 14 years of our marriage I pretty much went along with whatever my wife wanted with a few times where I went against what she wanted. And now let me share what my wife did on the occasions when I did something she was opposed to.
She fought me over career moves that I deemed were necessary; she didn’t work at all and so I was the main and only provider. When we did move away every day, she would just complain about being there and tell me to take her home. Every. Day. After a year and a half of hearing it I finally did. It cost me tens of thousands of dollars in moving fees and lost wages.
I have tried to reason with her in several different ways but she simply would not hear it. It was her way or no way. At times I even withdrew myself and gave her the silent treatment which you have recently wrote on. She was not having that either. Her response to my silent treatment toward her was to literally go nuts and start throwing things around the house.
On one specific occasion when I refused to speak to her, she literally (and I mean literally as in the sense it is supposed to be used, not metaphorically) destroyed the house. Pulled shelves down. Ripped up books. When that didn’t work, she attacked me. I mean physically.I ended up calling the police after I couldn’t take it and could feel that I was starting to get angry. She got in her car and drove away before they got there and they did nothing but laugh at me. If it was the other way around, I’d have been hauled off in handcuffs. That isn’t the only time but the time I called the police which only taught me not to since they’ll do nothing.
And then of course there are the problems we have had with sex over most of our 16-year marriage. At one point we had sex only 8 times over 15 MONTHS. She has told me on several occasions that she has to “feel” connected before having sex and I don’t just get to “use her body for sex” for sex when I feel like it. I have responded to her opposition to me wanting “use her body for sex” with the fact that she has no problem at all “using my body to provide food, housing, shelter, clothes, entertainment etc.”
She complains that I’m not verbal enough or I don’t leave notes telling her how great she is enough and not meeting her “love language” and I point to the other things I do – like never miss a payment on a bill, don’t cheat, drink, do drugs, beat on her, protect her from any threats and it still isn’t good enough.
My wife has told me that I just need to change my communication style and how I hear her. She says that “God intends for marriage to be consensual and loving and that we should want to please each other and do things not from duty but because we want to do them”. And course when she says “loving” she does not mean the Biblical definition of love, but rather love that comes from feelings and emotions. So, in other words she is saying that God intends for marriage to be based on feelings and consent and not on duty. I tried in vain to find a verse in the Bible that states what she has said to me about marriage.
So, over many years I had just accepted that his would be my life with her. For the most part, aside from completely changing my personality for her, I would do whatever she wanted. I worked where she wanted me to, did what she wanted with the kids, let her buy what she wanted and of course had sex when she wanted which was far less than what I wanted.
Then about two years ago my wife had said she wanted to be more “devout”. I took that as a sign that she wanted to you know, actually obey what the Bible said. So, I started to actually read what the text of scripture says in regard to marriage and husbands and wives and I really dug deeper into it I found that there were indeed specific roles given and there are reasons for those roles.
I had Googled “biblical gender roles” in the sense of what does the Bible say about gender roles because I was looking for more information when it sent me to your site which I would read alone or away from my wife. It clarified and articulated what I was trying to tell her. Eventually she found out that I was reading your site and it caused nothing but a conflict about how disgusting and horrible the material is…. which is straight from the Bible.
This is when it all went south then all hell broke loose.
We went and sometimes still go to the same pastor and his wife for counseling. This is a really sweet couple that really does care about people. Yet the pastor’s wife once told me that I was unloving and gave an example from I Corinthians 13. I told her that those were beautiful words indeed…and the guy who wrote them 6 chapters earlier said that the wife’s body doesn’t belong to her but to her husband. I have tried telling them over and over – my wife included – and quoted scripture VERBATIM but they will not hear it.
Another guy who’s training for the ministry told me flatly that I was “not wrong” regarding what the Bible says about gender roles and the way marriage should be and then he followed that up with “But would you rather be in a relationship or be right?”
I’ve caught her with credit cards that she opened without my knowledge and confronted her on those. She refused to even tell me what she spent the money on and continues to refuse to this day. The pastor advised that I just forgive and let it go. And then I wrote a check for the credit card account. I don’t know if that was the best option but in trying to “work on the relationship” I did it to try and move forward.
You see, it isn’t just people on the political Left that don’t believe. It is the so-called Christians – who I call CHINO – Christians In Name Only, that don’t believe. They swear up and down that they love Jesus and the Bible is God’s word…and then when I point out what it says it’s like I am the heretic speaking blasphemy and was the Devil himself. This includes the pastor, who I am friends with and care about. I once heard the pastor tell a group I was in that he was his wife’s “helpmate”…I literally spoke up and said that it does not say that; it says it in the reverse and I can read it to you in the Hebrew if you have any questions. It was not well received.
The pastor – a conservative evangelical pastor who if you asked him he would swear up and down the Bible is THE word of God – won’t stand up for what their very own scripture actually says. They allow women to preach and teach; why would they even bother to tell a wife she has to “submit to her husband” in ANYTHING?
These are people who are “devout” Evangelicals. These aren’t leftist socialists or liberals. They aren’t rabid atheists or raging feminists. They say they believe in the Bible. They are liars. But that changes nothing. And the Bible, my wife doesn’t believe a word of it based on her actions to the contrary of everything it says about marriage.
I sought out a divorce attorney to see what my options were. We did the math together. I would literally end up homeless sleeping in my work vehicle. I couldn’t afford even to rent a studio apartment after the state has taken everything.
See, in the state I live in they will give her half of everything. I have worked our whole marriage and provided for her. I have protected her, loved her, given her children. She only started working in the last year and a half. I would lose my children because the state would automatically award her custody for no other reason than she is a female. She would be entitled to alimony payments, child support, and she would get the house.
So, I have gone back to the way things were before I tried to actually apply the Bible to our marriage two years ago because I’m left with no other recourse and there is no help coming.
I grind my teeth, curse her false shepherds, and pray that Ragnarok come and wipe all of this out. Then I smile and do whatever she asks. If she wants to go on a vacation – we go. If she wants something – she gets it. If she wants sex – it happens when she allows it.
It’s all backwards and reverse.
Recently she told me that “we wasted the last couple years fighting” to which I thought, but dare not say, “uh, YOU wasted the last couple years rebelling”. She once told me “F*$k off; I will NEVER submit to you.” This is from a woman who has a bible degree, went to bible college, attended evangelical “bible believing” churches almost all her life. And yes, I still go to our church only because if I don’t, she will rage and it will adversely affect our children.
And believe it or not, despite all of these things I have just told you about, I still do love her. We have really great kids together.
So, I’m not sure what the answer is. I’ve only seen a society that favors women. I have long thought of writing you on these points and finally brought myself to do so. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for others and for other husbands and wives and the state of the conservative church.
Why Publish Such a Sad Story?
Lately I have been absolutely flooded with emails from MGTOWs. Stories like this one from Mark feed right into their beliefs of why the modern feminized form of marriage is so bad for men. It would have been easier not to publish this man’s story knowing the MGTOW reactions it would get.
I am sure I will get many MGTOWs writing me saying “yeah there’s a lesson there and the lesson is men should not get married”.
The Christian feminists reading Mark’s story will come away with another lesson. In their view Mark just needs to go back to where he was before he discovered what the Bible says about the roles of husbands and wives. He needs to just do what his wife said and work on his “communication style” and “hear her” better. And of course, his wife mentioned the Christian feminist and humanists’ favorite word which is CONSENT. And when all else fails, Mark should just fall back into the appeasement mode with his wife, because after all “Happy Wife” = “Happy Life” right?
But despite the predictable reactions I knew would come from the Christian feminists on my left flank and the MGTOWs on my right flank I really felt the Lord leading me to publish this man’s story and he is right that there are lessons that can be learned from his story not just for other men, but for Mark himself.
Before I get into the lessons that can be learned as well as advice in dealing with this kind of marital situation Mark faces, I just want to make a few things crystal clear.
With that being said lets first tackle some lessons that can be learned from Mark’s story and then I will give some advice based on Biblical principles for a husband dealing with a contentious and angry wife.
Lesson #1 – We Must Continue to Speak Out Against Error in Our Churches and Our Homes
What Mark did in challenging his Pastors and teachers at his church as well as his wife in his home is exactly what we as Christian husbands are called to do as seen in the Scripture below:
“2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
2 Timothy 4:2-4 (KJV)
I know that Mark is feeling discouraged after doing just what this passage commands and not seeing the results he expected. But it is not the results that matter, but only our obedience to God’s commands. God is the only one who can truly change the hearts of men and women, we are only his messengers.
Lesson #2 – While Preaching Against Error We Must Not Add to the Gospel
We who still believe in, practice and defend the doctrines of Biblical gender roles must remember how the Gospel is presented in the Scriptures:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
I Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)
The Gospel is clear in the Bible. If we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he was the sinless Son of God in human flesh and that he died for our sins and rose again we will ARE saved. We have passed from death to life. The following Scripture passage actually describes the process by which we come to trust in Christ and are saved:
“12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:12-14 (KJV)
We heard the Gospel, believed the Gospel and then we were sealed with the Holy Spirit which is our guarantee that one day we will see our Savior face to face. And our belief in the Gospel and the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit has a transforming effect on our lives as the Scriptures state below:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
2 Corinthians 5:17
But the Apostle Paul tells us of the sad reality that there will always be divisions in the church, whether it be on a local level or on a universal church level:
“18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
1 Corinthians 11:18-19 (KJV)
And this is why God gave us the various church offices and spiritual gifts:
“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)
This is why we have different Christian denominations. This is why even within each Christian denomination we have opposing schools of thought on many different doctrines whether it is the interpretation or application of such doctrines.
So, there are two extremes. One is to say “Unless you agree with me on every doctrinal interpretation and application of the Bible then you are not saved and you have no business calling yourself a Christian”. The other extreme is to say “No one knows what is right or wrong and no Christian should ever teach that another Christian’s behavior or interpretation or application of the Bible is wrong”. We as Bible believing Christians can and should call out unchristian behavior and false interpretations of the Bible by other people who call themselves Christians. And we can do so without questioning their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
So, we can rightly and vehemently condemn the false philosophies of Christian feminism and MGTOW without saying Christians who believe in these philosophies could not possibly be Christians. This is a very important distinction that must be made.
To say that a Christian must have no blind spots and have the correct interpretation of every passage and doctrine of the Bible is to add to the Gospel and we have no right to do that.
The next logical question that could be asked in this would be “How then can we know that we are correctly understanding and applying all the Scriptures relating to gender roles? Or in other words how can we know that the traditional understanding of Christian gender roles was right?”
The answer can be found in one Scripture passage we already mentioned and another passage we have not mentioned:
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
1 Corinthians 11:19 (KJV)
“The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”
Matthew 11:19 (KJV)
The Bible tells us that their must be false interpretations of doctrines in the Bible so that the true interpretations of the Bible can be clearly seen as right and approved by God. And Jesus said “Wisdom is justified by her children” or in other words our correct interpretation and application of the Bible can often be proven by the results that it yields.
And what has abandoning the traditional gender roles based on the Biblical passages regarding gender roles produced? Has it been shown to be something that God approves of? The fact that divorce rates shot up from about 3 percent to almost 50 percent, sex outside of marriage became common place, and millions of babies have been slaughtered under the banner of “women’s rights” shows us God does not approve of the modern liberal and feminist interpretation that there are no more gender roles for Christians. And truly Feminism has not been justified by her children.
Lesson #3 – The Seeker Sensitive Church Philosophy is not Approved by God
And this brings us to the third lesson we can take from Mark’s story. The seeker sensitive church is not approved by God nor has the children that this movement has produced proven it to be wise. The seeker sensitive church movement is based on false interpretation of Scripture passages like the one below:
“21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:21-22 (KJV)
Basically, what churches are doing is they are setting up their churches to be as “non-offensive” to non-believers and even professing believers as they can so that they can “by all means save some”. Many of these churches have completely stopped preaching against homosexuality or even sex outside of marriage. Many of them don’t even preach against sin at all. A lot of them just basically preach “self-help” messages that you could find outside of church. And they have lots of fun activities for children, teens and adults.
Now some of these seeker-sensitive churches don’t completely abandon all the doctrines of the Bible. They might even say like Mark’s church that the Bible is the Word of God and they may even preach that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
But what all these seeker-sensitive churches have in common is that they all have completely and utterly abandoned the doctrines of Biblical gender roles. Every single one of them. You show me a church that has abandoned the doctrine of Biblical gender roles and I will show you a seeker-sensitive church.
And Mark is absolutely right that many of these churches claim to be “Bible believing” and they even proudly wear the label “Conservative” while still utterly abandoning all teaching on Biblical gender roles in an effort to please both unbelievers and professing Christians that come to their churches.
And what have these churches produced? They have produced a lot of people who are not even true believers and of those that are true believers they remain babes in Christ. They remain this way because they are never given the meat of God’s Word.
And what else has this seeker sensitive church movement produced? It has produced wide scale divorce within the churches. It is a shame before God that Christians in America have the same divorce rate as non-believers and in some surveys it shows higher. Now for those secularists who say “see the traditionalist Christian philosophy of marriage does not work” let me help you out. First secularists don’t marry at the same rate that Christians or religious people in general do. There is a lot more long-term cohabitation amongst secularists than Christians. So, since Christians marry younger and at higher rates the chance of divorce would higher because the incidence of marriage is higher.
But what is the reason for the higher divorce rate amongst Christians? It is for the very fact that the Christians who divorce were NOT following Biblical gender roles. If a man is loving his wife by leading her, providing for her needs, protecting her, correcting and teaching her as Christ does his church and the wife loves her husband, submits to her husband in everything and reverences her husband and she takes care of the needs of the home they won’t get divorced. You show me a Christian couple that got divorced and I will show you a Christian couple that may have started doing these things, but one or both of them began to fail in doing these things God has commanded.
And even when failings occur, God has not granted the concept of no-fault divorce. There are limited reasons for which God allows divorce and the vast majority of Christian divorces do not take place for reasons God allows.
Again, I will refer the reader back to what the Apostle Paul told Timothy. We are called to preach God’s Word, all of God’s Word even if some parts are not popular in our culture.
Now we will move from the “lessons learned” to speaking to how Mark and other Christians should deal with a contentious and angry wife.
How Should Mark Deal with his Contentious and Angry Wife?
First and foremost, this is not just a contentious and angry wife that Mark is dealing with. This is a wife who sexually denies her husband. Now in many cases a contentious and angry wife is also a wife who sexually denies her husband. But this is not always the case. I know of many a Christian man whose wife will give him her body, even if it is grudgingly given, in order to keep him in the marriage while still maintaining her contentious and angry spirit.
Here is the truth of the matter though, even if a wife is sexually denying her husband there are some men who just do not feel that God wants them to divorce their wife. Others feel they must stay with their wife for the benefit of their children. And still others are afraid to leave for fear of the financial devastation it will cause them. We can see in Mark’s story that he seriously considered divorce from his wife but he saw the damage it would cause to himself personally as well as his children.
We can also see in the story of Mark’s 16-year marriage and especially the last 2 years that he has tried the following four approaches:
Directly confronting his wife by showing her from the Bible she was wrong.
Counseling sessions with church Leaders who told him he was wrong in his interpretation of the Bible.
The silent treatment.
And from this email we have shown here, as well as other subsequent emails I have received from Mark none of these approaches have worked to change his wife’s behavior nor helped her to recognize the error of her ways.
So lets talk about his approach that he has settled back into and that is appeasement.
Appeasement on the part of a husband toward his contentious and angry wife may bring peace, but it is peace at the expense of obedience to God.
God calls husbands in Ephesians 5:25-27 to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and we see that Christ’s love for his church is seen in his washing his wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God. This concept again is seen in Christ speaking to his churches when he states in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.
So, we can rightly say that a husband who does not rebuke and discipline his wife is a husband who is in disobedience to God’s command to husbands to love their wives as Christ loves his Church. And a husband like Mark who is dealing with this kind of wife is a perfect example of how a man must sometimes sacrifice his own happiness to do spiritual battle in his home. The easier and the less painful approach in many cases is to take the path of appeasement. But this is not an option for a Christian husband.
My recommendation in these cases is to use the same approach God used with his wife Israel in the Old Testament. First, he confronted her sin and rebuked her for it calling her to repentance. After she utterly refused to repent (as your wife has done) then he engaged in the silent treatment toward Israel as I recently wrote about. Mark might say “I tried that but she went nuts”.
Let me ask you a question. If your child threw a temper fit whenever they did not get what they wanted would it be ok for you to appease them so they would not throw a fit? The answer is no. And the same answer goes for your wife when she throws a temper fit. When she starts doing that leave the house. Get your keys, get in the car and leave. Go some place and park for a couple hours and just take a nice nap in the car. Or go to a park and enjoy the peace. Sometimes it might be so bad that you just need to find a friend or relatives house to stay at for the night.
Remember how the Bible advises men to deal with contentious and angry women?
“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”
Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)
In other words, it is better to live out of your car than in a house with contentious and angry wife.
And one other thing I would like to add. You need to be VERY consistent in your disciplinary approach with your wife just as you need to be very consistent in your disciplinary approach with your children. So, the approach is, you rebuke her and she fails to repent and just keeps arguing with you then you walk away and engage in the silent treatment. If she becomes violent you leave the home for a few hours or even for the evening.
This consistent behavior toward her will result in one of three actions on her part:
She will completely change her behavior.
She will file for divorce.
She will at least stop the raging so you won’t leave.
And if she does file for divorce – I would highly recommend that you speak to multiple attorneys. There are a lot of bad divorce attorneys out there. You need to find a good attorney that specializes in divorce from a man’s perspective. You also need to get recordings of her raging as that will not play well in divorce court for her.
Many Christians believe the only way a woman can be unfaithful to her husband is by having sex with men other than her husband. Today we call this adultery. But in the Bible adultery was a two-sided coin. In the book of Ezekiel the prophet writes the following concerning Israel’s unfaithfulness to her husband which was God:
“You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!”
Ezekiel 16:32 (KJV)
In the above passage we see there are two parts to adultery, or what we would call marital unfaithfulness on the part of a wife:
When a wife takes men other than her husband.
When a wife does not take her husband.
It is utterly ludicrous to say as so many Christian teachers have falsely taught – that if a woman does not take other men yet refuses to take her husband she is still being faithful to him. If she does not take her husband she guilty of unfaithfulness to him.
In the church we are often taught that sexual immorality, otherwise known as fornication, has to do with sexual acts God does not allow like homosexual acts, premarital sex and adultery. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is a type of sexual immorality that we can actually commit by NOT having sex.
We find this teaching in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church:
“2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 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 7:2-5 (KJV)
So how does a man and woman “avoid fornication” according to God’s Word? In two ways:
Have sexual relations with your spouse on a regular basis to avoid fornication OUTSIDE marriage.
Do not deny sex to your spouse to avoid fornication both INSIDE marriage (by denying them their right) and also OUTSIDE marriage (by tempting them to have sex outside marriage by your denial).
The False “Mutual” Teaching of Sex
Today we have many Christian teachers who actually ask us to ignore the very words we have just read in I Corinthians chapter 7. While it is true that I Corinthians 7:2-5 teaches that both men and women need sexual relations it does not teach sexual relations between a man and woman are based upon mutual desire. In fact, it teaches the very opposite. This passage teaches that sex in marriage is both a right and a responsibility of both the husband and the wife. The only decision which must be mutual regarding sex is the mutual decision by both the husband and wife to discontinue sex for a short period only.
Why I teach So Much on the Sexual Immorality of Sexual Defraudment
As a Christian I believe the Gospel of Christ, the reality of Heaven and Hell and the teaching that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God are perhaps the most important doctrines we as Christians must teach and affirm. However, that does not mean these are the only important doctrines. And while we do have a lot of false Gospels being spread today as there were in the early church era, thankfully there are still preachers and teachers who are faithful to the true Gospel of Christ and the inerrancy of his Word.
We even have a lot of Christian preachers and teachers today teaching that God does not want us to follow the evil ways of our culture. To this I say Amen and Amen! The Apostle Paul gives us this very command not to conform to the sinful ways of our culture in his letter to the Christians at Rome:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
So, we will hear a Pastor teach from his pulpit that we should not have sex outside of marriage as our culture encourages. Great! We say amen to that! But then this same Pastor preach doctrines that conform to our American cultural values and at the same time directly contradict Biblical commands. These Pastors will condemn men for not loving their wives while remaining sinfully silent on the wife’s call to submit to her husband in everything. These Pastors will condemn men for having sexual thoughts while at the same time remaining sinfully silent on the sexual immorality of wives sexually defrauding their husbands.
The unfortunate truth is that today even among those who preach the true Gospel of Christ and the inerrancy of the Bible there is almost a complete and utter neglect or in many cases an explaining away of the Biblical doctrine of gender roles. There is actually an ongoing war on masculinity, patriarchy and male sexuality. All of this is being done to appease feminism which has infested even many conservative Bible preaching churches today.
This is why God lead me to create this blog back in April of 2014. God lead me to stand in this gap and to call my fellow Christian brothers and teachers back to the true teachings of God’s Word regarding gender roles as well as sexuality from a Biblical perspective. This is why many of my teachings on this site focus on a defense of masculinity, patriarchy, male sexuality and sexual rights from a Biblical perspective.
Empowering Christian Men with Steps to Confront their Wife’s Sexual Defraudment
In May of 2015, I published an article entitled “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal”. In this article I detailed 8 steps that Christian men could take in confronting sexual defraudment on the part of their wives. This article has since become one of the top 5 viewed pages on this blog and this page alone has had about 800,000 views since I first published it. I made some edits to this article over the last few years but essentially it has remained the same. Here are the 8 steps I list for men in confronting their wife’s sexual refusal:
Step 1 – Rebuke her privately
Step 2 – Stop taking her on dates or trips
Step 3 – No unnecessary household upgrades
Step 4 – Stop doing the little extra things
Step 5 – Remove her funding
Step 6 – Rebuke her before witnesses
Step 7 – Bring her before the Church
And then I gave the 8th and final step for husbands if these 7 steps did not bring their wife to repentance:
“What if none of these 7 steps work?
If your wife remains willfully defiant, yet she has not left you, it could be for a variety of reasons. She may not want to lose how she lives with you and she knows that after a divorce her lifestyle will be severely affected, and she does not want to deal with the consequences of divorce. Perhaps she may have some genuine care for you left as well as your children but she simply cannot see the error of her ways and will hold out indefinitely with the hope that one day you will fold and give her back the money, the dates, the trips, the house hold upgrades and she will not have been forced to change her ways.
But you have a final step you may take, one that you need to pray long and hard about before you do.
You have the option to divorce her for her sexual immorality.
“But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:32(HCSB)”
A Real Story of a Man Exercising These 8 Steps
Not long after I published my article “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal” I received many emails from men eager to exercise these steps to confront the sinful fraud going on in their marriages. I have published some of those men’s stories on this site over the past few years. One of those men wrote me calling himself “M’s Husband” and his story was the inspiration for my article entitled “Sometimes “Sexual Interventions” are needed in a Christian marriage”. In this article I began with this excerpt from his email:
“Been married two years and we are both Christian. Our marriage is good, outside the bedroom. We have no children. My wife consented to sex once in the last year and that was six months ago. She refuses any kind of counseling. We abstained prior to marriage and from the first day of our marriage, she has always avoided sex and never enjoyed it.”
Throughout the rest of the article I encouraged and admonished M’s Husband to have a sexual intervention in his wife’s life. Over the last three years he has updated me on his situation with his wife as he has exercised the first 7 steps I gave to confront his wife’s sexual defraudment. Both in his letter that I published and as well as other letters he sent to me since anyone can see the love he had for his wife and his wish that their marriage could be made whole.
The sad reality is, just as Israel refused to repent and turn from her unfaithfulness to God as her husband so too after 5 years of sexual defraudment M’s Husband’s wife has refused to repent and turn from her unfaithfulness to her husband.
M’s Husband Letter to his Church Exposing His Wife’s Sin
What follows are excerpts from emails I have received over the last month from M’s Husband.
“Here is the sad update on my marriage. You know that I have been struggling with her rejection since we were married and started writing to you in early 2016.
I think this will be the final act in the drama/tragedy unless she repents and goes to therapy for sex aversion. I spoke for a while with my pastor and he is in agreement with my action.
Here is the letter that I wrote to those in my church and others whom I know. She was served with divorce papers today, so I have made this letter public. I am still keeping the door open for repentance and reconciliation, but I have strong terms that she must fill.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
MY LETTER TO MY CHURCH REGARDING MY WIFE’S SEXUAL DEFRAUDMENT
My wife, M is guilty of willful, continuous and unrepentant sexual immorality. After being deprived for 107 days, she threatened divorce if I continued to pursue my marital right with her. M proclaimed that she will never grant me my marital right. She has informed me that her decision is final and will not change. She has forsaken her duty and obligation to our marriage since the first day we were married by depriving me, rejecting me, defrauding me and forsaking me of my marital right. (Matthew 5:32)
She reluctantly went to Christian marriage counseling with me last year for four months. She rejected all the advice and suggestions that were given to her about chastity in marriage. Our marriage counselor gave up on us because M has an aversion to sex and strongly refused any and all kinds of professional help for that. I subsequently tried to get her to go to therapy and she strongly and angrily refused therapy and denied that she has a psychological aversion to sex.
I have been advised since late 2015 that divorce is a Biblical option. I had resisted that because I love M. M has not gone to her church for six months and she has hardened her heart toward me and has broken her marriage vow of being “one flesh” with me (Genesis 2:24).
Because I do not see any change in that attitude, because of her proclamation to never fulfill her marriage vow again, because of her willful disregard for the commands of God (1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Proverbs 5:19) and because she continues to rebel against God and against me (Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:5-6, Titus 2:5) I see no alternative except divorce. M and I have been nothing more than roommates as she has continuously violated the Biblical law of chastity in marriage (Hebrews 13:4). M has proclaimed to never fulfill the vow of marriage again.”
A few weeks after that letter, about a week ago, I received this update from M’s Husband:
As we continue through the process of separation and divorce, M has started reading Christian blogs and sends me some of them with comments. Too bad she started now, it would have been constructive for her to do that prior to our separation.
Yesterday she sent me one and stated how unloving I was and that she had “done it all” with the communication that she had really gone the extra mile and tried to love me with all her heart. Since submission to me (Eph 5:22) and allowing me to have sex more than once a month (with her acting as if she is being raped with anger and resentment) was forgotten by her, I became angry and wrote her an angry response. It is possible, that I write my best letters when I am angry. I try never to sin in my anger.
Here is the letter that I wrote to her yesterday.
MY LETTER TO MY WIFE M AFTER FILING FOR DIVORCE
I know that you tried to love me. But you decided that one aspect of our marriage would be under your own rules and not under God’s commands.
As your husband and leader of the family, I tried to lovingly bring you to the place that God commands a wife to be in the family. Submissive to me in all things as to the Lord himself. But you rebelled. Sarah submitted and obeyed her husband and called him “lord.” You decided to lead your husband in certain aspects of our marriage. Sinfully, Eve lead Adam. Jezebel lead Ahab. There were others in Scripture who did that. All with disastrous results.
Above all, you made your own rules for sex and rejected the commands of God. Rejecting the command to be “one flesh.” Rejecting the command to not deprive each other. Rejecting the command to satisfy me with your breasts ALWAYS. Think about that word always. The verse in Proverbs does not say sometimes. It does not say, when you feel like it. It does not even say once a week. It says ALWAYS. You denied your breast to me always. I wanted to give you thrills and pleasures through your breasts, but they were off limits to me ALWAYS. But that verse is not speaking only about breasts. “The wife does not have authority over her own body.” Considering that verse makes breasts an analogy for your whole body. You are to satisfy me with your WHOLE BODY ALWAYS. Always…all the time. Kisses always. Kisses on your forehead, your nose, your neck, your throat, your mouth, your tongue, your vagina and everywhere else always. I have authority over your whole body ALWAYS. Not once a week. ALWAY!
You rejected that….always. You rebelled, even as I was patient. For years I was patient. Then after being a “gatekeeper” you shut me down completely. Then you decided that your body, which I have authority over….always, will be off limits to me and by your decision and your rebellion you have commanded to me that we are going to have a sexless marriage, for the rest of our lives. The anger and resentment from you, during attempts at sex, broke my heart.
I did not marry you to be a roommate and I did not take a vow of celibacy when I married you. I loved you and I love Jesus. Paul wrote that it is better to marry than to burn with passion. I thought that if I could be satisfied with you, whenever I want you (which is what always means to me in this context) then I would not give in to the temptation to be satisfied anywhere but in your arms. But you rebelled. You stopped wearing clothes that appealed to me. (Remember, authority over your body gives me authority to dress you in what appeals to me). You would not wear lingerie that I liked, ever. You would not drive us to secluded places for wonderful sessions in the back seat. Not necessarily sex but just deep kissing and petting would have thrilled me. I liked watching you pee (authority over your body) but you refused. I wanted to shower with you, but you rebelled and refused that. You brought anger and resentment to our marriage bed. You let me know that you wanted to be anywhere else but in our marriage bed. I could not comprehend as someone could ever choose a television and computer game over sex with her husband.
I expected sex every day of our honeymoon, starting with the second night (first night on Maui). You refused every time except once in Maui and once in Las Vegas. I NEEDED sex at least twice a week at home, but you made yourself a gatekeeper and pulled your body away from me, so that we had sex four times, in the year after we returned from our honeymoon. Then you made me live as an involuntary celibate husband for sixteen months from May, 2014 until November,. 2015 with a total of one time. That time in the hotel room in Daly City. Not even sex in Memphis, when we were there for four nights and we were married less than a year.
Soon after I realized that you were a gatekeeper I tried to have sex with you but was rejected. “But since sexual immorality is occurring,” I was tempted. My urge and prayer was to be satisfied in your arms every time but you drove me away. I could have waited for you to finish your day’s work but your gate was closed all week, when I needed you every day. So…….I gave in to the temptation. It was only as far as my computer and the porn would not refuse me. You refused me over and over but the porn never refused me. It was there for, to take the place of the wife that God gifted me but who refused me, though I have authority over her body.
My marital right was refused as you did not keep your obligation and duty as a wife. I was more important than your work. Your husband is your top priority. You were great at cooking for me and keeping my stomach full. If I ate all that you gave me, I would have gained weight. But your top priority is sex with your husband. Your father is not your priority, your husband is. You kept the fourth commandment but broke many commandments that a wife has to keep for her marriage. Now look where our marriage is. You were usually unloving in the marriage bed. You were often angry and resentful in the marriage bed.
You tried to love me but you fell short in keeping the commands of a wife. I was patient but ran out of patience, particularly when you shut the gate on sex totally, completely and permanently on May 20, 2018.”
Anger and Discipline Because of Sin is Not Sinful
There are many weak and feminized Christians who would read the letters M’s Husband wrote saying that his acts toward his wife were unloving and not what God wants in a husband toward his wife. But those who says such things are completely and utterly ignorant of what actual love in marriage is by God’s standard and they are utterly ignorant concerning the character of God as a husband.
The Bible tells us the following in the book of Ephesians:
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath”
So right there in the text we can see there is such a thing as godly anger. It is not a sin to be angry at sinful behavior in others. God exhibits this anger toward sinful behavior throughout the Scriptures.
God brought all kinds of travesty on his wife Israel because of her disobedience before he finally had to divorce her for her failure to repent:
“6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. 7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”
Amos 4:6-8 (KJV)
In the book of Revelation Christ warns his churches that he will remove their candlesticks if they failed to repent. At the end of his threats toward his disobedient churches he states:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
I do want to add one word of caution about anger that I have told to M’s Husband. As Christians we may have righteous anger toward sin as M’s Husband has toward his wife’s sin. But we must always guard against our righteous anger turning into bitterness which then becomes sin.
The False Use of the Hosea Example
Many Christian preachers and teachers teach a false doctrine based on the following passage from Hosea:
“The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.”
Hosea 1:2 (KJV)
In this story Hosea takes on a whorish wife who leaves him to commit adultery and then he goes and takes her back. Many Christian teachers and preachers today teach that this is showing God wants Christian husbands to tolerate and continue to stay married to their unfaithful wives while trying to softly win them back. They teach men that living in sexless marriages with defrauding wives actually is honoring to God!
Other Christians will use a passage I have used often on this site to admonish us a Christians to suffer for Christ:
“20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”
1 Peter 2:20-22 (KJV)
They will say that this means God calls men to suffer sexual defraudment from their wives and “take it patiently”. I have previously written that yes we has husbands are called to suffer many kinds of abuse from our wives. Our wives may disrespect us and disobey us in many ways. Our wives may shame us by their behavior. Now when I say “suffer” this does not mean we as husbands cannot or should not discipline our wives for these things. I have written extensively on the discipline of wives in my article “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife“. But when I say “suffer” I mean we may have to accept the fact that we are going to have to live with these sinful tendencies in our wives and we cannot look to divorce them because of them.
However there are certain sins we are NOT called to suffer from our wives and to do so makes a mockery of the model of marriage. In fact the final remedy God allows for sexual immorality on the part of one’s wife is divorce.
When a man simply stands by as his wife commits sexual immorality against him either by having sex with other men or by refusing to have sex with him he shames himself and he shames the God who made him to image him.
In the book of Hosea rather then presenting himself as a passive husband quietly suffering his wife’s sexual immorality God shows himself as tough husband who divorces his wife and then threatens to strip her and publicly expose her after the divorce!
“2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.”
Hosea 2:2-5 (KJV)
Does the above passage sound like a husband who tolerated his wife’s unfaithfulness to him? The answer is absolutely not!
God said he “put away” or in other words divorced his wife Israel because of her whoredoms and adulteries. He clearly says “she is not my wife, neither am I her husband” meaning the divorce is now final. Yet he still loves his ex-wife and will still bring even more punishments on her to break her from her sin so that one day she may return to him again.
I want you to zero in on a key phrase God says when he states “Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born”. That is a powerful statement! God is saying he is going to shame Israel and expose Israel for her unfaithfulness to him.
This is what M’s Husband is doing with his wife. He is following God’s example with his unfaithful wife Israel. Yet the vast majority of Christians today, so woefully ignorant of the God of the Bible and so poisoned by feminism which has weakened the minds and resolve of men would condemn M’s Husband for his actions.
Let us pray that God give M’s Husband the resolve he needs to see this through to its completion. Let us pray that God will send a revival in the hearts of Christian men to see that God calls us to model him as husbands in our marriages.
A big part of modeling God as husbands in our marriages is to model his discipline toward his wives (both Israel and the Church). Men who tolerate willful and blatant sexual immorality in the form of sexual defraudment on the part of their wives are not modeling God as a husband to his people.
I pray that if you see your own weakness as a husband to confront your wife’s sexual defraudment that you will do so today as M’s Husband has done with his wife.
Stay in an abusive marriage? Stay with an abusive father or mother? To assert anyone should ever stay in an abusive relationship is counter to everything our culture teaches. We are to confront or flee abusive situations but we should never ever endure abusive situations or so we are told today even in the vast majority of Christian circles.
In my previous article “What Does The Bible Say About Abuse?” I talked about what abuse is from a Biblical perspective. I stated that the word abuse literally is “ab + use” which means to misuse or mistreat someone or something. I also talked about both emotional (including verbal) abuse and physical abuse as they are spoken to in the Bible with a specific emphasis on what abuse looks like in marriage and the family.
But what I did not cover were two important areas on this subject of abuse. The first is what role does God grant to the government in dealing with abuse? The second is how family members, including husbands, wives and children, should respond when they are abused by one another in various ways.
Did God Grant Government the Power To Determine What Abuse Is?
Many Christians instead of looking to the Bible for their definition of abuse instead look to their feelings, their culture and most commonly their civil government.
First we must understand that it is God who defines the responsibilities, rights and limitations of the spheres of authority of the civil government, the church and the family. Abuse is a moral issue and it is God and not culture or government that defines what is moral and what is immoral.
Many Christians have been wrongly taught that civil government is an unlimited power established by God. This comes from a false understanding of passages like the one below:
“13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
I Peter 2:13-14 (KJV)
Passages like the one above must be taken into context with the entirety of the Scriptures. Christ himself stated that civil government is in fact limited in its scope and authority:
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”
Mark 12:17 (KJV)
Jesus did not say “Give to God what is God’s and everything else belongs to Caesar”. His words were carefully measured. He said to give to Caesar “the things that are Caesar’s” which tells us God actually intends for civil government to be limited.
So the next question we must ask is “What is the scope of responsibility and power that God has given to civil government?” The answer is found in Romans chapter 13:
“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Romans 13:4 (KJV)
The government is God’s “revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil”. It is the civil government’s job to ENFORCEGod’s moral law – not to MAKEmoral law on its own. Murder is not wrong because the United States government or our State governments say it is wrong. Murder is wrong because God says it is wrong. So when police officers or other law enforcement officers arrest murderers to stand trial and ultimately face punishment they are acting as God’s ministers. When the judge or jury hand down the sentence they are acting as God’s revenger executing “wrath on him that doeth evil”.
Now our punishments for breaking God’s moral law may be different in each state, province or country but the moral law of God itself cannot be added to or changed by anyone but God himself.
The civil government must always be respectful of its limitations when it enters the sphere of the church or the home. This means that they must never usurp or take authority in matters which God has not given to the government but instead he has given to the church or the home.
When the government attempts to usurp authority in the church or the home Christians have the God given right and in most cases the responsibility to exercise civil disobedience against such usurpation.
God has appointed Pastors as the interpreters of God’s moral law in the church assembly and he has appointed husbands as the interpreters of God’s moral law in the home. God states this regarding our obedience to church leaders:
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
Hebrews 13:17 (KJV)
When I walk into my church assembly I must always recognize that God has given my Pastor the spiritual oversight of that assembly. That means if I were to teach Sunday school in my church or teach from our pulpit in his absence I should not teach contrary interpretations to his that would cause division. This is one reason that I have not taught in the church I attend in many years and I would not because I might easily come into conflict with my Pastor’s interpretations on many doctrinal issues. Also I and my family follow whatever rules my pastor sets for dress standards for church activities if those standards are more conservative.
But think of how absurd it would be for me to go to my local mayor or state governor and ask them their interpretation of the scriptures and also what they think the rules for behavior within my church assembly should be. Imagine if I brought these interpretations back to my church and in direct defiance of my pastor began trying to implement them. Not only would these actions be absurd on my part – but they would be in direct contradiction to the Word of God. Those civil authorities have no authority in these matters in my church.
By the same token God does not tell wives when they have a moral or spiritual question to go seek out their Pastor, local mayor or state governor. Instead he tells them to seek out the spiritual head of their home:
“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV)
This is why it is highly inappropriate for government or church officials to come into a home and give wives or children instructions on morality that are counter to the teachings of the husband who is the head of that home. In fact, the husband is the only human authority in all the Scriptures where God commands the one under his authority to submit to him “as unto the Lord”:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:22 (KJV)
It is a sad testament to the wicked times we live in that husbands, the most powerful of all human authorities that God ever established, have had their spiritual authority completely usurped and gutted by both our civil and our church authorities.
The Government Has Nullified God’s Law With Its Domestic Abuse Definitions
The Scriptures tell us this regarding God’s law:
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV)
As we previously established, the government has absolutely no right to add or take away from God’s moral law. None whatsoever. Also Christ spoke against human laws which nullify God’s laws:
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
Mark 7:13 (KJV)
This is what our current US Justice Department definitions of domestic abuse do – they literally attempt to add to God’s moral law and in effect nullify God’s moral law in regard to this issue of domestic abuse. With that said I will briefly address some of this addition to and nullification of God’s law in current US Justice Department definitions of domestic abuse which you can find at https://www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence. Also keep in mind that all these definitions have to do with domestic violence – meaning what is considered abuse in the home between members of the home.
The Government’s Definition of Abuse Vs The Bible’s Definition of Abuse
“Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.”
The first problem with this definition is that it completely negates any type of physical discipline which is commanded by God for children (Proverbs 23:13-14) and is also allowed by God for adults (Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Proverbs 19:29 and Proverbs 26:3). Under this definition of physical abuse spanking of one’s child or one’s wife would be consider abuse (See my article “Does the Bible Allow Wife Spanking” for more on that issue). A mother or father slapping their rebellious child even with an open palm (front handed) would be guilty of physical abuse under this definition.
I agreed in my previous article on abuse that things like shoving and punching have no place in the home not even as methods of discipline because they risk serious bodily injury or even death in violation of God’s law regarding limits on discipline (Exodus 21:26-27). I also agreed that things like biting, kicking and hair pulling have no place in the home as methods of discipline as it should be done in love and in control and not as brawl or a fight. But again overall the biggest problem with the government’s definition of physical abuse is that its definition negates physical discipline in the home which God allows.
“Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.”
First we will address where this government definition of sexual abuse aligns with God’s moral law and that is regarding children. A parent has absolutely no right under God’s law to touch their child in a sexual way, to coerce them or force them to have sex. This is a violation of God’s moral laws regarding incest (Leviticus 18:6).
But really the heart of this definition is directed at husbands in regard to how they engage in sexual activity with their wives. And when applied to the husband/wife relationship this definition of sexual abuse for the most part nullifies God’s Word.
This government’s definition of sexual abuse as with physical abuse nullifies a husband’s God given sexual rights to his wife’s body in marriage. It also nullifies his right to discipline her for sexual refusal. The Bible says that sex is both a right and responsibility in marriage (Exodus 21:10-11, Proverbs 5:18-19, I Corinthians 7:3-4) and that the only thing that must be mutually agreed upon in the area of sex is when a couple will NOT have sex (I Corinthians 7:5) for a short time. See my articles on sexual refusal, sexual consent and forced sex in marriage for more on what the Bible says about these topics.
Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
While we need to be careful of how subjective this government definition of emotional abuse is I think for the most part it aligns with what the Scriptures say that we should generally be trying to build people up and not tear them down(Ephesians 4:29,James 3:8-10). See my article on “What Does the Bible Say About Abuse?” for more on the subject of emotional abuse.
Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
This government definition of “Economic Abuse” is a complete addition to God’s moral law and it also nullifies a husband’s rights toward his wife under God’s law. And again let’s not kid ourselves that they are speaking equally to husbands and wives. This is an attack on patriarchy and men having their wives being economically dependent on them.
The fact is this definition of Economic abuse is exactly the opposite of God’s moral law on this issue. In Exodus 21:10-11 we are told that if a man does not provide his wife with food and clothing she may be free of him (divorced from him). God considers it economic abuse when a man forces his wife to economically independent of him, not when he forces his wife to be economically dependent on him.
And yes husbands under God’s law can absolutely forbid their wives from going to college or seeking careers as wives are to be subject their husbands in EVERYTHING as the Church submits to Christ in everything (Ephesians 5:24).
Also as far as household finances go – whether a husband allows his wife to work or not all the financial decision making comes under his direction. If he wants to take away his wife’s ATM card he can do that under God’s law.
Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include – but are not limited to – causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
If read in a certain way, the government’s definition of psychological abuse may actually align with the Scriptures. God does forbid the use of threatening (Ephesians 6:9). If a husband or wife threatens to kill themselves or their children or pets or to destroy property if they don’t get what they want that is the very definition of threatening behavior which is condemned by the Word of God.
However a warning from an authority toward one under them of the consequences of their actions is not engaging in threatening or psychological abuse. If I isolate my teen son from friends that are bad influences on him is that psychological abuse? The answer is no. It all depends on my motivation. Is my intent simply to exert my power over him or is it actually for his own good? If it is the latter there is nothing immoral about this from a Biblical perspective.
Many people would agree that the example I gave is not immoral. But what if I replaced my son in that example with my wife? OH NO – that is completely different right? Why? Most people would respond “Because she is an adult”. First of all the Bible does not recognize the recently invented social class of “adult”. Instead it recognizes the three primary social classes of Man, Woman and Child. The Bible makes no distinction when it comes to the discipline of wives and children. If my wife was talking to or hanging out with other women who were bad spiritual influences on her affecting her morals, relationship with God or with me I have absolutely ever right before God as her spiritual authority to restrict her access to those women.
The Bible teaches a clear social order – the husband is the head of the wife and children are under the authority of their parents(Ephesians 5:23-24, Ephesians 6:1-3).
And for all you feminists out there the practice of a husband exercising his spiritual authority over his wife in these ways does not infantilize her or make her equal with her children. God has granted a wife and mother more rights than he has her children. She has sexual rights to her husbands body and she is given the position of manager of the home and of the children which are sacred and honored roles. She of course exercises these positions under the authority of her husband but by no means does the Bible make wives and children equals with another.
So when we throw out the straw-man argument that a husband exercising control over his wife infantilizes her we come to the real heart of the issue. Feminists don’t like the fact that while God gives women more rights than children he does not give women equal rights with men. In other words, its not about women be treated as children but its about women be treated as women. Feminists want women treated as men.
When Are Women Allowed To Approach Civil or Church Authorities About Abuse?
A wife and mother should only go around her husband who is her spiritual authority in the gravest of circumstances. If a husband violates the Exodus 21:26-27 principle and threatens or actually causes serious bodily harm or what he is doing has the potential of causing death to her or her children a wife has every right to approach her church authorities and civil authorities.
In I Samuel 25 we see that Abagail went against her husband’s wishes to save her family from his wicked actions that would have had them killed. This teaches us that if a woman finds out her husband is involved in some criminal or otherwise wicked activity that endangers the life of her family she has every right to go to the civil authorities to protect her life and the life of her children.
Also if a wife finds out that her husband has been sexually abusing one of her children in violation of the Leviticus 18:6 principle she has every right to turn her husband over to both the church and civil authorities. When husbands commit such heinous acts they invalidate their ownership and headship over their wives and children allowing their wives and children to be freed from them.
Why God Wants You to Stay in an Abusive Relationship
The natural follow up question to what we have just said about a woman and her children being able to free from a man who physically abuses them(by Biblical standards of course) is “What about non-physical abuse like emotional and verbal abuse? What recourse does a wife have in such situations?”
First I will fully agree that men can abuse their wives in non-physical and less extreme ways than what I have previously mentioned. A husband may not be a drug dealer who places his family’s life in jeopardy by his wicked lifestyle and he may not ever lay a hand on either his wife or children in a sinful manner. But perhaps he has a problem with anger and flying off the handle and saying hurtful things.
Maybe he has a problem with bitterness and taking that out on the family in various emotional or verbal ways. Maybe he is hyper critical toward his wife and children and never uplifts them. Maybe he even abuses his authority and gets off on power kicks and trying to humiliate his wife or children by various unreasonable demands. Maybe he isolates his family not for their protection but to project his power over them. There could be a myriad of ways that a husband either verbally or emotionally abuses his wife and children or he simply abuses his power to meet his own ego needs.
I also want to stop here for a second and make a very important point on this subject of abuse. Often times we center these discussions of domestic abuse on husbands and fathers but we forget that wives and moms can and do physically, verbally and emotionally abuse their husbands and children as well. Do wives or moms sometimes engage in hypercritical behavior toward their husbands or children? You bet they do. Do some wives or moms even punch, shove or engage in other forms of physical abuse toward their husbands or children? You bet they do. Do some wives play emotional games with their husbands and insult their manliness or sexual ability? You bet they do. Do some women push their husbands away sexually which is a form of emotional abuse toward men? Absolutely there are many women who engage in these behaviors.
Also children sometimes abuse their parents in various ways. Do children steal money from their parents? Yes they do. Do children despise and curse their parents? Yes they do. Do some children strike their parents? Yes they do. Do children reject their parent’s authority over them? This happens all the time in our day and age.
But let’s now return specifically to the subject of wives and children enduring emotional, verbal and other forms of abuse that are not the physical or life threatening types of abuse we have previously mentioned that would warrant outside intervention and in many cases divorce.
As I mentioned at the introduction of this article our modern culture has an attitude that we should never endure any kind of abuse from anyone whether it be someone who is our equal and especially from someone who is our authority. We are told to confront the person and then flee the relationship if the abuser does not repent and change their ways.
But when we read the Scriptures we see a very different view of how we should respond to abuse:
“18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
I Peter 2:18-24 (KJV)
When we endure grief or suffer wrongly at the hands of others, in other words when we endure mistreatment which is abuse and take it patiently the Scriptures tell us “this is acceptable with God”. God is not excusing the actions of the abusers. But God is saying when we are on the receiving end of various kinds of abuse and we take it patiently that this is acceptable with God.
Such a thought is foreign to our thinking but the Scriptures tell us “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
We often talk on this blog about how God likes to image or model things. Man was created to image God and thereby bring him glory (I Corinthians 11:7) and woman and by extension marriage was created to help man fully image God as a husband and father (I Corinthians 11:9, Ephesians 5:22-33). When it comes to this matter of suffering abuse – we, both men and women, actually model Christ when we suffer abuse from others taking it patiently as he did. And that is why God wants you to stay in an abusive relationship.
Now again we must look at this passage in light of the entirety of the Scriptures. I have already shown that God does not expect us to stay and endure physical abuse that could risk serious injury or death from Exodus 21:26-27.
There were certain areas Jesus would not go into during his ministry because he knew the Jews there sought to kill him (John 7:1) and it was not yet his time to die. Although Paul suffered great persecutions he also sought to avoid them at times (II Corinthians 11:33). But did Christ or Paul run from “verbal and emotional abuse” as we often hear people telling us to do today? No. They were fleeing the threat of serious bodily injury or in most cases death.
So what this means on a practical level is this. As a wife or as a child there are going to be days when your husband or your father may act in the flesh and not in the spirit. He may say hurtful things. He may raise his voice for what appears to be no reason at all. He may act sinfully toward you by being verbally or emotionally abusive. But his wrong actions do not justify wrong actions on your part. Not only should you never return insult for insult or repay any type of verbal or emotional abuse but you must also never forget your subordinate place as either the wife or the child.
It is not your place to rebuke your husband or our father for emotional or verbal abuses.
Now does that mean that a wife or child can never express grievances they have with their husband or father? No. I don’t think that is wrong but it should never come across as if they are they are equals and are teaching the husband or father. In the book of Job we read:
“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)
This is a teaching which applies to those of us who are in authority over others no matter what sphere it is in including the home. We as husbands must realize that if we have truly wronged those under us God allows them to bring their grievances to us. If we do not act justly toward those under us it is God who will rise up against us. That is why God warns husbands that if they mistreat their wives he will not hear their prayers (I Peter 3:7).
When it comes to expressing grievances we must realize this can abused as well. Remember that God tells wives in I Peter 3:1-2 to win their husbands who are disobedient to the word by their subjection and reverent behavior. If you as a wife are expressing your grievances with your husband every five minutes you are not “taking it patiently” as I Peter 2:20 exhorts you to do.
The same goes for children. Far too often in our culture we make children feel completely comfortable confronting their parents with accusations of unfair treatment on a regular basis. Again we need to teach our children that they too need to be “taking it patiently” and following the example of Christ in suffering what they believe to be wrong doing.
Wives and children also need to be reminded of something on a regular basis. Just because you feel you have been mistreated does not mean you actually have been mistreated. Sometimes your feelings can blind you to reality that is going on. You need to step back and look objectively at what has occurred to see if what actually happened was in fact fair treatment that was warranted because of your behavior.
Should Authorities Allow Abuse From Their Subordinates?
But now we come to the issue of husbands, fathers and mothers who might suffer abuse at the hands of those God has placed under their spiritual authority. Should authority figures react to abuse from their subordinates in the same way that their subordinates should react to abuse from them? Should they simply endure and take patiently all forms of abuse from their subordinates as long as they are not being physically abused or having their life threatened?
To answer these questions we must first understand that all authorities God has instituted have not only a right but also a responsibility to discipline those under their authority. Church leaders have a right and responsibility to discipline those within their assemblies, civil authorities have a right and responsibility to discipline those within their local, state or national jurisdictions and husbands and parents have a right and responsibility to discipline those in their home.
In the case of the family if a husband or parent allows all mistreatment of themselves by their wife or children to go unpunished then they would be violating the spiritual duty God has given them to rebuke and chasten those under their authority(Proverbs 23:13-14, Revelation 3:19).
So for instance if a man’s wife or child is cursing him, or disrespecting him or telling him they do not have to obey him then he is called by God to discipline them. Yes these actions are an abuse toward him and mistreatment of him. They are hurtful and unkind. But for the husband or father in this situation they must remember that this is not about their feelings of hurt after being mistreated by their wife or child. It is about their solemn responsibility as the head of their home to discipline their family members. That is why husbands and fathers must always realize that true Biblical discipline should never be an act of revenge for some incurred abuse, but rather it is an act of love to discipline the other and perhaps cause them to repent and change their ways.
Notice earlier that I said a husband or parent should not allow “all” mistreatment of themselves but the key word is “all”. As human authorities we cannot read or control the thoughts and feelings of those who are our subordinates. We can only hold our subordinates accountable for their words and actions, not their thoughts and feelings.
So we may see that our wife or child does the right thing after being disciplined but they still seem to have an attitude of bitterness toward us. No husband wants to be despised by his wife and no father or mother wants to be despised by their child. But at these times we must enter in prayer for our wives and children knowing that we can only seek to correct the outward actions as human authorities and only God can correct the heart.
If you as a husband or father live to always feel liked and loved by your wife or children then you will not discipline them as God has called you to and you will fail to be the husband and father God wants you to be. Not being liked at times is part of the job description gentlemen.
14 “What If” Questions About Marriage
What if my spouse makes fun of my looks on a regular basis?
What if my spouse hurls insults at me on a daily basis?
What if my spouse is hyper critical toward me on a daily basis?
What if my spouse is bipolar or has some other mental illness and refuses to get professional help?
What if my spouse has some type of addiction?
What if my husband abuses his power and gets off on using his power to make me do ridiculous things?
What if my husband is a selfish lover and never asks me what I want in our sex life?
What if my husband never talks to me and only wants sex?
What if my wife is a contentious and brawling woman toward me on a daily basis?
What if my wife is like a constant dripping water and nags me on daily basis?
What if my husband is a workaholic?
What if my wife is never satisfied with anything I buy her (our house, her clothes, our car…etc.)?
What if my wife always gives me grudgingly given sex?
What if my wife is a selfish lover and only wants sex her way?
The answer to all these “What If” questions is the same. Search the Scriptures and you will find there is absolutely no allowance for divorce in any of these situations. All of these situations are hard to live with if you are the spouse who has to endure them. But God does not give us an easy way out but instead he tells us this regarding the trials we face in life:
“3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope”
Romans 5:3-4 (KJV)
Often times the greatest trials we face in life are a result of the actions of those closest to us. It might be our spouse whose behavior tries our faith on a daily basis. It might be our child. It might be our parents. But in all these cases God does not allow us to simply push the eject button and leave these relationships because they are hard to endure. He calls us to lean on him for strength knowing that his grace is sufficient to get us through each day of these trials.
When we as husbands or wives continue to live with a spouse that verbally or emotionally abuses us or they just make life difficult for us we not only follow Christ’s pattern in taking such abuses patiently on a regular basis, but we also honor God by showing our commitment to his institution of marriage. This is why staying in an abusive relationship can actually bring glory and honor to God.
Is It Wrong to Feel Hurt Because of Abuse?
This is a very legitimate question. Even if we as Christians set out to follow Christ’s example in taking patiently the abuse we may suffer from others does this mean it is wrong for us to allow ourselves to experience anguish or hurt because of past or even future abuses we know are going to happen?
Again we have Christ’s example to answer this question for us:
“41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Luke 22:41-44 (KJV)
You think your husband’s verbal and emotional abuse is bad? You think your parent’s emotional or verbal abuse is bad? Think of the abuse Christ suffered. And because he was God in the flesh he knew before he suffered exactly what he was going to suffer. Christ was literally in “agony” knowing what he was about to face. He asked his father if it was his will that he would remove this coming trial – yet he prayed not his will, but his father’s be done.
So again Christ is our model in dealing with abuse that we suffer from others. It is not wrong to feel hurt about past abuses or impending abuse that we know we will continue to suffer on daily basis from our family member. It is not wrong to agonize over these things. We are not called to suppress our feelings. Christ did not suppress his. But Christ controlled his feelings, he did not let them control him. We should all follow Christ’s example when suffering abuse asking God to remove the abuse perhaps by changing the heart of the abuser. But we should always end such prayers the same way Christ ended his – “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done“.
Our culture teaches us a one size fits all approach to when others mistreat us (abuse us). They teach us we should never allow any type of mistreatment from others to go unchecked and unchallenged. We are told we must confront all forms of abuse from wherever they come and they make absolutely no distinctions between a husband and wife, a parent and child, an employer and employee, a church member and a Pastor or a citizen and his government.
We have literally created “grievance industries” within our political arenas, business arenas, churches and families where people air their grievances both big and small and real or imagined with one another on daily basis. There is very little following of Christ’s example in regard to abuse to “take it patiently”.
So from our world’s perspective children are encouraged to correct and rebuke their parents for every harsh word they may speak toward them. Wives are encouraged to confront every harsh word their husband speaks toward them. And this pattern is seen in churches as well as nations. In other words – every perceived or actual injustice is encouraged to be confronted no matter where it is or how it occurs.
The Biblical approach to us handling mistreatment which is abuse is not a “one size fits all approach”. The type of abuse and the sphere it occurs in whether in marriage and the family, the church or in society with government are handled differently if we are following Biblical principles in these areas.
Those in authority must confront sinful words and actions of those under them whether those words or actions are direct abuses toward the authority themselves or toward others. But these actions of discipline are not to be a repayment of sorts for abuses incurred but rather they are meant to be corrective actions taken in love to help that person better conform themselves to God’s moral law.
Those under authority while having the right to address grievances with their authority should not over use this right. The over usage of the ability to respectfully air grievances with one’s authority goes against Christ’s example of “taking it patiently”. Also specifically when it comes to wives, if a wife is airing grievances ever five minutes with her husband she is violating the I Peter 3:1-2 principle that she is to win her husband who is being disobedient to the Word with her subjection and reverence, not her contentions.
So on the one hand Biblically speaking we do not have to suffer or allow every kind of abuse from every sphere in our life but on the other hand the Bible does not allow us to or encourage us to do what the world says and confront EVERY kind of abuse or mistreatment toward us no matter what the offense is or where it comes from.
We all need to look to Christ’s example of “taking it patiently”.
If we treated divorce like we do killing there would be far less occurrences of it. But on the other hand, if we treated divorce like we do killing we would be far more understanding of legitimate reasons when it is justified.
The Left and Right Ditches on the Issue of Divorce
Often times on moral issues the truth of God’s Word lies in the middle of two extreme camps and there is certainly no exception to this principle on the morality of divorce. On the left side we have Christians who teach and believe that a Christian couple may divorce for any reason. If they have simply “fallen out love” or don’t have anything in common anymore they are told they can divorce. But on the right side we have those Christians who condemn all cases of divorce as a sin against God no matter how grave the circumstances may be.
But if both sides of this debate were to treat divorce as they do killing I believe they would both realize the truth of what the Bible says about divorce falls in the middle of these two extremes. Both sides are wrong.
Three Things That Divorce and Killing Have in Common
The first thing that divorce and killing have in common is that they both end something. Killing ends a human life and divorce ends the one flesh relationship that is marriage between a man and a woman.
The second thing divorce and killing both have in common is that God allows both under certain circumstances because of the entrance of sin into his creation. In this way we can rightly say that there is such a thing as justified killing and justified divorce.
Biblical allowances for divorce simultaneously allow for divorce while placing restrictions on when it may occur.
Interestingly those who fall into the left and right ditches on the issue of divorce both have a common fatal flaw in their positions in that they BOTH ignore the Biblical allowances for divorce. On the left side of the ditch we Christians saying the allowances in the Bible for divorce are not restrictive but simply examples of reasons. On the right side of the ditch we have Christians feverishly trying to explain away any allowances for divorce so as to condemn all cases of divorce.
The third thing that divorce and killing have in common is that in the Bible both are spoken of using general statements with no exceptions and then exceptions are given in other passages.
General Statements on Divorce and Killing
The Bible makes both absolute and general statements about various moral issues.
An example of an absolute moral statement is found here:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)
There is no exception to the fact that there is one God and one mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus. Muhammad was not another mediator between God and man and neither was Buddha – only Christ is.
But then we have general statements of moral truth in regard to killing and divorce.
A lot of people think that the 6th commandment “Thou shalt not kill” in Exodus 20:13 is a general or absolute condemnation of all killing. Christian pacifists have generally viewed it as an absolute command while most other Christians have seen it as a general condemnation of killing.
But actually again on this passage both sides are wrong and unfortunately this is one of the few places where the KJV actually gets this translation wrong as well. The Hebrew word in Exodus 20:13 that is translated as “kill” is the word “Ratsach”. “Ratsach” specifically refers to a wrongful killing. In most cases it refers to murders, but in some cases it refers to man slayers. In either case though – the death was not justified whether it was intentional or un-intentional.
So the newer translations today like the NASB and others are correct in translating the 6th commandment as “You shall not murder.”
But the Bible uses another word for that is for killing in general and this encompasses all killing whether justified or unjustified this is the word “Nakah”. Below is a general statement condemning “Nakah”:
“And he that killeth[Nakah] any man shall surely be put to death.”
Leviticus 24:17 (KJV)
So while it is absolutely true that the 6th commandment only condemns wrongfully killing someone, God’s command Leviticus 24:17 is a more general condemnation of killing and does not place any qualifications on the type of killing it is condemning.
This then brings us to a critical point that many Christian scholars and teachers and even laypersons have made on the moral issue of divorce. There have been over the centuries and there still are many Christians today who say that Christ’s statement on divorce below was absolute statement regarding divorce and not a general statement:
“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
Luke 16:18 (KJV)
John Piper is an example of a popular evangelical teacher who teaches that Luke 16:18 was an absolute statement by Christ on divorce rather than a general statement condemning divorce. In his article entitled “Divorce & Remarriage: A Position Paper” Piper writes:
“All of my adult life, until I was faced with the necessity of dealing with divorce and remarriage in the pastoral context, I held the prevailing Protestant view that remarriage after divorce was Biblically sanctioned in cases where divorce had resulted from desertion or persistent adultery. Only when I was compelled, some years ago, in teaching through the gospel of Luke, to deal with Jesus’ absolute statement in Luke 16:18 did I begin to question that inherited position…
Luke 16:18 calls all remarriage after divorce adultery… This verse shows that Jesus does not recognize divorce as terminating a marriage in God’s sight.”
But Piper and all other Christians who regard Luke 16:18 as an absolute condemnation of divorce and/or remarriage are inconsistent when we know in 95% percent of cases they would regard Leviticus 24:17 as only a general condemnation of killing even though it lacks any qualifiers.
In other words – if you are going to say the based on Luke 16:18 that Christ is condemning all instances of divorce and remarriage then you must rightly say Leviticus 24:17 is condemning all instances of killing. The fact is it just as absurd to say that all instance of divorce and remarriage are condemned by God as it is to say that all instances of killing are condemned by God. The Bible clearly shows allowances for both divorce and remarriage as well as killing.
First let us quickly look at God’s allowance justified killing:
“2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten[Nakah] that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. 3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”
Exodus 22:2-3 (KJV)
In the passage above we see that a man rightly justified in defending himself and his family. This passage has been almost universally recognized by Jewish and Christian scholars as a Biblical right to self-defense even to the point of killing another person.
“Now go and smite[Nakah] Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
1 Samuel 15:3 (KJV)
The passage above was God’s command to King Saul through the Prophet Samuel. This is a very difficult passage that many Christian Pastors and teachers run from today because it offends our modern western sense of morality – specifically the killing of women and children. It is absolutely clear that God order the genocide of the Amalekite people.
But these were evil and wicked nations and God wanted the evil wiped from land. That is why he commanded even the animals to be killed. He wanted nothing left of the Amalekites.
There was another reason that God ordered genocide in many cases. The reason is rebellion. If the Israelites were to leave alive even children of the Amalekites they may one day grow up to find out that their parents and people were the original owners of that land and they may form new Amalekite ethnic groups that would one day rebel against Israel from within their own borders.
So while it might seem like the nice thing to do to allow an Amalekite child to live, it would not seem so nice when that child became a man and had a knife to your throat.
It is interesting to note that because King Saul allowed some of the Amalekites to live one of their descendants, a man named Haman in the book of Esther, would later plot the genocide of the Jewish people through tricking King Xerxes into ordering their death.
But the topic of justified genocide (and there is such a topic) is a larger and more complicated one that we will leave for another article. Even if most people have a problem with justified genocide, most Christians do not have a problem with justified self-defense either of an individual or of a nation. In other words Christians recognize that Leviticus 24:17 was only a general condemnation of killing and not an absolute condemnation of killing.
So for the same reasons that we as Christians recognize killing is only generally condemned in the Scriptures and not absolutely condemned in the Scriptures we must also recognize that divorce and remarriage are only generally condemned in the Scriptures and not absolutely condemned.
In other words there is such a thing as just and righteous killing and there is such a thing as just and righteous divorce and remarriage.
Did Christ Reject Moses’s Commands on Divorce?
The foundational flaw of those who believe there is no allowance for divorce or remarriage is that they take Christ’s words on divorce and then utterly throw out Moses words on divorce and then they explain away Paul’s words on the subject after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension.
In other words they see what looks to be allowances for divorce in Moses’s law and also in the writings of the Apostle Paul but since they have decided that Christ wiped out all allowances for divorce they must set out to cancel out these “supposed allowances”.
In the following two statements from John Piper he actually contends that Jesus Christ nullified the moral law of God given through Moses on divorce.
“In both Matthew and Mark the Pharisees come to Jesus and test him by asking him whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. They evidently have in mind the passage in Deuteronomy 24:1 which simply describes divorce as a fact rather than giving any legislation in favor of it. They wonder how Jesus will take a position with regard to this passage.”
Jesus rejected what Moses commanded? Such an assertion is an affront to the entire concept of Biblical inerrancy which I know Piper states he believes in on multiple occasions. The Bible tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This means the commands Moses wrote were given to him directly by God – by Jesus Christ himself.
Christ could no more reject Moses moral law than he could reject his own teachings.
It is true that God can change his laws and set aside certain laws as he did in the New Testament era. We know that God set aside the ceremonial and civil laws he gave to Israel as a theocracy because he had divorced Israel and put an end to the theocracy of Israel (Hebrews 7:12, Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 9:1-15). But God’s moral law given to Moses is upheld for the Church and parts of it are restated several times in the New Testament.
Christ gave a warning that should send chills up the spine of Christian teachers like John Piper who say Jesus rejected Moses moral law on divorce:
“17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:17-19 (KJV)
What “law” was Jesus speaking to? He was speaking to the moral laws found in the Old Testament (including but not limited to Moses’s moral laws).
And notice something else that John Piper snuck in when he said “Deuteronomy 24:1 which simply describes divorce as a fact rather than giving any legislation in favor of it”. No Pastor Piper, Deuteronomy 24:1 is not simply a recognition of the reality of divorce occurring, but it is in fact commands from God regulating the process of divorce. Jesus himself called Moses words on divorce a “command” and “precept” (law).
So modern translations that attempt to translate Deuteronomy 24:1 as simply a recognition of the fact of divorce rather than commands on divorce have utterly ignored Christ’s divine commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1 which unequivocally calls it a command regarding divorce.
My point in this section of “How to find out for what reasons God allows divorce” is that in looking at the subject of divorce we cannot throw out the Old Testament and only look at the New. To do so is to be in direct violation of Christ’s warning in Matthew 5:17-19 against setting aside the moral laws of the Old Testament.
With this principle in mind, we will look at what the entire Bible has to say on the subject of divorce. We will look at what Christ said through his prophets before his incarnation, what he said during his earthly time here, and what Christ said through his Apostles after his ascension.
The Progressive Revelation of God on the Subject of Divorce
When we talk about the “progressive revelation” of the Scriptures we mean that God slowly over many centuries revealed his truths and his plans for mankind. In modern times we are privileged to have the final and complete revelation of God as found in the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament.
There are many subjects in the Bible where God progressively revealed his truths. Often times when we think of progressive revelation we think of prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah or the sacrifices which pictured Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to pay for the sins of mankind.
But another area of progressive revelation in the Scriptures that I often talk about on this blog is in the doctrine of Biblical gender roles. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see parts of the reasons that God created male and female human beings but later through the Old Testament and especially into the New Testament we see the full purposes for which God designed man, woman and marriage.
I have written on divorce several times before and at the end of this article I will supply references to my earlier writings on the topic. In this article I want take a different approach. I am going to approach this using a “commentary” method where I will simply list the Biblical reference and then comment on the key teachings about divorce that are found in it.
However, for those who have already read my other articles on divorce there will be some new material here that I have not previously talked about in other divorce articles I have written.
So with that being said below is a table with Biblical references in the order in which they are given in the Bible. Alongside each reference I note key teachings on divorce as it progressively unfolds in the Bible.
Progressive Truth of God that is Taught Regarding Divorce
It is specifically given to women. A man could take a second wife but he still had to provide his first wife with food, clothing and sex. If he failed to provide these three things she was allowed to be divorced from him (freed from him).
A man who rapes a woman is required to pay her father the bride price for her and marry her and he may not divorce her for the remainder of her days. When we understand this passage in light of Exodus 22:17 we can see that the father has the right to take the bride price and yet utterly refuse to give his daughter to the man that wrongfully takes her.
While it may seem cruel to our modern sensibilities to even entertain the idea that a woman could be forced to marry her rapist if her father consents the fact is she would be ruined for all other men. She would never have children unless she married this man and for most women that thought alone would be worse than marrying their rapist.
The first allowance and regulation regarding men divorcing their wives.
This passage first alludes to the fact of a husband taking and marrying a woman. The word for “married” in the Hebrew literally means “to own” so he becomes her owner by marrying her. It says that if he as her owner finds some uncleanliness (literally indecent behavior) in her he may write her a letter of divorce and send her out of his house.
This verse allows for a divorced woman sent out of her husband’s house to go and be another man’s wife. Some of have tried to say this is just a statement of fact and not an allowance for a divorced woman to remarry. But the fact is neither in this passage nor in any part of the Law of Moses do we find a prohibition toward men marrying divorced woman(except for the High Priest) so Moses’s mentioning of it without a hint of condemnation is an allowance for the remarriage of women sent away by their former husbands in divorce.
Once his divorced wife has remarried another man – the former husband may never again take his divorced wife to be his wife again. It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew it is literally rendered as “her first owner” or “her former owner”. This means he was no longer her owner. This also confirms that when a man divorces his wife he relinquishes all ownership over her thus terminating their marriage in the eyes of God.
Some have tried to take the word “defiled” to mean that the divorced woman did something wrong in remarrying. But the word “defiled” in this context simply means once she remarries she is “off limits” to her former husband. Again there is absolutely no indication here from Moses’s words that either the divorced woman sinned or the man that married her sinned by their marriage to one another.
The first condemnation of wrongful separation of a wife from her husband.
Under Biblical law and by Jewish custom women could not initiate divorce with their husbands. While in Exodus 21:10-11 God allowed women to be free from husbands who failed to provide them with food, clothing and sex some women even though they could not have lawful divorce would leave their husbands for reasons other than what God allows.
Through the Prophet Hosea, God again references the adultery that Israel had committed against him for which he divorced her but here he says after his divorce of Israel that he is no longer her husband nor is she is wife. This passage deals a fatal blow to the false teaching that if a man divorces his wife she is still married to him in the eyes of God.
God will betroth Israel again one day and that marriage will be an everlasting one that will never end. Again this indicates that when a husband sends his wife away in divorce the marriage is in fact terminated in the eyes of God. The only way it can be restored is for the husband to once against enter into a new covenant of marriage with his wife whom he formerly divorced.
The first condemnation of husbands divorcing their wives in the Bible.
God says he hates divorce. But if you look in the verses before he says he hates divorce he speaks to what kind of divorce he hates. He describes Israelite men who so desired to marry pagan women that they “treacherously” divorced their first Jewish wives in order to take their new pagan wives.
Since we know that previously in Exodus 21:10-11 as well other Old Testament passages that God allowed men to take more than one wife we know that these men did not have to divorce their first wives to take a second wife. They could have taken a second Jewish wife while still providing for their first wife and there would have been no sin. Their sins were twofold. Number one they were taking pagan wives which was forbidden. Secondly they were compounding their sin of taking pagan wives by divorcing their Jewish wives to make their pagan wives happy.
Christ applies the designation of adultery to situations that it had never previously been applied to. In the Old Testament adultery had only been spoken of in one of two ways. The first and most literal sense of adultery in the Old Testament referred to married women having sex with men not their husbands. Ezekiel 16:38 uses the most literal translation of the Hebrew word for adultery with the phrase “women that break wedlock”. Ezekiel 16:38 is also a good example of the second use of adultery in the Old Testament referring to Israel’s spiritual adultery against God by worshiping false gods.
How does a man cause his wife to commit adultery by wrongly divorcing her?
“he causeth her to commit adultery” – Christ is building on Malachi chapter 2’s discussion of men treacherously divorcing their wives. He is saying when a man wrongly divorces his wife in order to make a second wife happy he causes his first to break her wedlock with him when she should not have had to. She has not sinned – he is the one that send her away but regardless her wedlock with him is now broken.
How does a man commit adultery by marrying a divorced woman?
“whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” – Christ builds on Jeremiah 3:20. The divorced woman here is not the same woman that has been wrongly divorced by her husband in the first part of verse 32. Under Roman law and custom women could divorce their husbands so Christ expands Jeremiah’s condemnation of treacherous separation by a woman from her husband to treacherous divorce by a woman from her husband.
We know that a wife who departs from (or divorces her husband) is called “unmarried” later in I Corinthians 7:10-11. So the man who marries the woman who has wrongly divorced her husband is not committing adultery with her because she is still married to her first husband but rather he is committing adultery with her because God has placed her off limits to all men but her former husband.
So at this point in the Scriptures we see adultery used to describe several situations:
1. Ezekiel 16:32 – When a woman takes strangers instead of her husband this is a form of adultery and it is the most literal and original meaning of the word.
2. Ezekiel 16:32 – Also applies adultery to Israel in the spiritual sense of her idolatry. So adultery is given an even wider definition of unfaithfulness.
3. Mathew 5:32a – Applies adultery to a situation where a husband wrongly divorces his wife forcing his innocent wife to break wedlock with him.
4. Mathew 5:32b – Applies adultery to a situation where a man marries a woman that has treacherously(Jeremiah 3:20) divorced her husband. While she is no longer married to her first husband, she is declared off limits to all other men but him because she wrongly left him.
In a way this putting a wife who has divorced her husband wrongly off limits to all men but him is similar to the concept of Deuteronomy 24:2-4 placing a wife sent away in divorce off limits to her first husband if she remarries.
These two situations are the only two types of remarriage forbidden in the Bible.
What does the the exception clause mean?
The exception clause refers to this phrase “saving for the cause of fornication”. Fornication refers to all forms of sexual immorality including premarital sex, prostitution and adultery and sexual defrauding of one’s spouse. So God was saying if a man’s wife committed a sexual sin against him most likely in the form of adultery or sexual defraudment he could justly divorce her. This is a gender specific command as most commands in marriage are and it only applies to men. He was not allowing women to divorce their husbands for fornication.
In conclusion Christ is simply amplifying the teachings of Jeremiah and Malachi on the topic of treacherous divorce. Nowhere in his wording does he set aside the law he gave through Moses allowing divorce by both men and women for certain reasons.
The key to understanding the enter passage is found in question by the Pharisees that started it – “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”
Here Christ is being asked to answer the question of what is uncleanliness from Deuteronomy 24:1. Some Jews thought it meant “for every cause” while others thought it was only for serious sexually related sins. Christ settles the argument in verse 9 where he says “except it be for fornication”. So Christ was opposing “every cause” divorce for men. He was saying a wife had to commit some type of sexual immorality for her husband to lawfully divorce her.
Again nowhere in this passage does Christ set aside or nullify the commands he gave Moses regarding divorce but rather he clarifies why God allowed divorce through Moses and that was because of the sinful hardness of hearts that are in both men and women.
An interesting difference between this passage and Christ’s previous statement on divorce from Matthew 5:31-32 is that this time he says the man commits adultery by divorcing his wife and marrying another woman.
In my note on Matthew 5:31-32 I described 4 different scenarios that are described as adultery. Matthew 19:9’s declaration that the husband who wrongly divorces his wife is committing adultery is the 5th definition of adultery.
As we previously explained this was not an absolute condemnation of all divorce and remarriage by men toward their wives but was simply addressing the Malachi 2 scenario of men treacherously divorcing their wives. When a man does this he commits the new form of adultery Christ first mention in Matthew 5 and which is to wrongly break wedlock.
Again we see the reference to the man marrying the divorced woman committing adultery. See my discussion of what that is referring to back in my notes on Matthew 5:31-32.
It leaves out details that Matthew gives for the most part but adds a few he does not. Matthew calls Moses’s law on divorce an allowance while Mark calls it a “command” and “precept”. None of these are contradictory because Moses’s words on divorce are in fact all these things – a command, a precept (law) and an allowance by God.
Another interesting part is it refers directly to a woman divorcing her husband. Again this is not a condemnation of all divorce for women because Exodus 21:10-11 clearly allows women to be divorced from husbands who fail to provide them food, clothing and sex. Instead it is pointing back to Jeremiah 3:20’s condemnation of women who treacherously depart from their husbands. It is talking about wrongful divorce and remarriage for women – not all divorce and remarriage for women.
The shortest statement by Christ in all the Gospels on the subject of divorce.
Surprisingly this shortest statement is the one that John Piper and many Christian teachers have built their entire theology of divorce on. Then they have to cram in or explain away the rest of the Bible that does not fit with their beliefs based on this passage.
Luke 16:18 is no more an absolute statement on divorce than Leviticus 24:17 is an absolute statement on killing.
Instead based on the entirety of the Scriptures, we understand Luke 16:18 is a general statement on divorce and remarriage in the same way that Leviticus 24:17 is a general statement on the subject of killing. We know from looking at the entirety of the Bible that not all killing is sinful and in the same way we know from looking at the entirety of the Bible that not all divorce and remarriage is sinful either.
A general statement of truth regarding the fact that under normal circumstances a wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives and she can only marry another man after he dies. If she treacherously departs from him (Jeremiah 3:20) and marries another man she is rightly called an adulteress.
But some wrongly take this statement to cancel out Exodus 21:10-11 which frees a woman from a man who fails to provide for her. They also ignore the fact that passages like Deuteronomy 24:2-4, Hosea 2:2 and I Corinthians 7:10-11 show that divorce does in fact terminate a marriage in God’s eyes whether it was done for lawful or unlawful reasons.
This means in the case of divorce a woman is no longer consider in the eyes of God to be her former husbands wife. Remarriage for her is only considered adultery if she treacherously(unlawfully) departed from her first husband.
Paul begins by building on what Christ said in the Gospels on divorce but he states it in a slight different way adding some detail that Christ did not. Contrary to what many have thought of this passage it is NOT speaking of separation. It is speaking of divorce.
The way we know this is by Paul’s use of the word “unmarried” in referring to the woman who departs from her husband. This literally is the same word used for single women and it literally means “unmarried” in the original language of the New Testament.
The term “unmarried” here is also another fatal blow to those who hold the position that wrongly divorced persons are still married to their previous spouses. The Biblical witness directly contradicts this false teaching.
We know from Exodus 21:10-11 that this is not an absolute restriction on wives’ divorcing their husbands but only a general statement. Only if a wife treacherously divorces her husband for reasons God does not all then she must remain unmarried and she is off limits to every other man except her former husband and she may reconcile to him if he will have her back.
This section starts off with a very important statement that has been twisted and maligned by some and totally misunderstood by others. Paul says “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord”. Was he saying everything that came after this was his opinion? Of course not. His only opinion in this entire chapter was his opinion that celibacy was better than marriage if one had the gift of celibacy. Nothing else in this chapter was his opinion but it was in fact the divine word of God. But even his opinion on celibacy was allowed and authorized by God to be in the Bible.
What is also important about Paul’s introductory statement in verse 12 is that he entering into progressive revelation. He is revealing more truths from God on marriage and divorce that neither the prophets nor Christ before him spoke on.
This is why our understanding of divorce will be incomplete if we think Christ had the final word on the subject when he walked this earth. Christ did have the final word on the subject but through his servant Paul after his ascension.This passage tells us that if we become a Christian and our unbelieving spouse wants to stay then we should stay with them and not divorce them simply because they are not a believer. We should try to win them to Christ if they want to stay. But if they want to depart then let them depart and the Christian man or woman are not bound to their unbelieving spouse who has left them. The marriage can justly be terminated under such circumstances.
It is interesting to note that the English word “depart” which occurs twice in I Corinthians 7:15 is a translation of the Greek word Chorizo which is the same word that Christ uses as a synonym for divorce when he says “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder[Chorizo]”(Matthew 19:6). This word in most cases does literally mean “to depart” and is used that way in other Biblical passages. But it can be speaking to divorce as well.
Also there is no Biblical reason to believe this does not apply to all marriage situations where one spouse leaves the other even if both are professing Christians.
So in summary the Apostle Paul is saying under the divine inspiration of God that if your spouse abandons and or divorces you then you are not bound to them anymore. Whether they have divorced you, or you divorce them for abandonment you are no longer bound to them in marriage. And this is one area that equally applies to both men and women in marriage.
A restatement of I Timothy 3:2 on Pastors not being divorced.
Summary of Biblical Reasons for Divorce
Based on all the passages Scripture passages listed above we can see that God does not allow divorce form just any reason and that he places specific restrictions on divorce. These restrictions are in fact gender specific – something that is often overlooked. Below are the specific reasons that a man and then a woman can get divorced under God’s law.
God allows a man to divorce his wife for these reasons
If she claims to be a virgin before marriage and he finds out she has in fact had sex with other men before marriage (she has engaged in pre-marital sex with other men).
If she has sex with other men after they are married (adultery)
If she refuses to have regular sexual relations with her husband (sexual defraudment).
If she abandons him.
God allows 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 abandons her.
Are All Remarriages Forbidden According to the Bible?
God gives us this very important command:
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV)
Those on the far left side of the divorce issue are diminishing or taking away the restrictions God places on divorce in teaching they can divorce “for every cause” as some of the Jewish leaders taught. But those on the far right side of divorce either add to God’s word by saying all remarriage is forbidden or some restrict all remarriage only for women.
Contrary to the teachings of John Piper and others Biblical divorce is not just a permanent form of separation where the couple remain married in God’s eyes for the remainder of their lives and they are forbidden from remarriage.
Exodus 21:10-11 simultaneously proves two important points. First it proves that the concept of “remarriage” does not apply to men (except in one instance) because men are allowed to marry additional wives.
Remarriage primarily applies to women because as Deuteronomy 24:1 states when a man takes a woman and marries her he owns her. Marriage in the Hebrew was a man taking ownership of a woman as his wife. So whether her husband divorces her or he dies the next marriage she enters into is a “remarriage” because she was formerly owned by another man.
Deuteronomy 24:2 says of a divorced woman that “she may go and be another man’s wife”. Moses could have taken this opportunity to condemn this action but he did not. Instead he gave regulations working with this situation if the divorced woman did indeed choose to be another man’s wife.
But even without Deuteronomy 24:2, the burden is not on us to prove that God allows remarriage. The burden is to prove that God does NOT allow remarriage.
The Bible is clear from Deuteronomy 24:4, Hosea 2:2 and I Corinthians 7:10-11 that divorce does in fact terminate a marriage in God’s eyes whether it was done for lawful or unlawful reasons.
There are only two types of “remarriage” that are forbidden in the Bible. The first is found in Deuteronomy 24:3-4 where God forbids men from remarrying their wives whom they have divorced if they marry another man. The second type of remarriage that is forbidden is if a woman treacherously departs from her husband (leaves or divorces him for reasons other than Exodus 21:10-11 allows) she is forbidden from remarriage to any other man except her former husband whom she wrongly left.
She is off limits to all other men even though she is unmarried and if another man marries this unmarried woman who wrongly left her first husband then he is guilty of another form of adultery Christ describes in the Gospels.
The False “Innocent Spouse” Doctrine of Divorce
The entire teaching of an “innocent spouse” being confined to a life of celibacy because of the sin of their former spouse finds no basis whatsoever in the teachings of the Bible.
This false teaching is based on a failure to understand that the Bible teaches divorce DOES in fact terminate marriage in God’s eyes (whether it is for just reasons or sinful reasons) and it is also a failure to understand that Christ gave us another definition of adultery when it is used in the context of divorce and remarriage which is the wrongful breaking of wedlock either by a husband or a wife. He equated adultery to the treacherous act of a man divorcing his wife for unjust reasons to marry another wife and a wife divorcing her husband for unjust reasons to marry another man.
Confining a person who has justly divorced their spouse or who has been wrongly divorced by their spouse to a life a celibacy is like throwing someone in prison because they killed someone in self-defense.
What About Divorce for Physical Abuse?
While the Bible does not speak specifically to the issue of divorce for physical abuse I cannot imagine that God views a woman who has had her jaw broken and teeth knocked out by her husband and divorces him as a wife who “treacherously departeth from her husband”(Jeremiah 3:20).
But the truth is the Bible does not speak specifically to every issue of life – sometimes we must look to broader principles of the Scriptures when the Bible is silent on a specific case. I believe this passage below gives us such a principle that could relate to physical abuse in marriage:
“26 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. 27 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 was required to free his slave or indentured servant if he caused serious physical harm by knocking out their tooth how can we think that a wife had less rights than a slave or indentured servant? The fact is in the Scriptures basic human rights are demonstrated in the rights of slaves and indentured servants. All of these rights bubble up to those who had more rights like wives and free men.
So I don’t think it is a stretch or adding to the Scriptures to say a woman could divorce her husband for causing her great physical bodily harm.
Generally speaking most occurrences of divorce and killing are done for sinful reasons that God does not allow and these are the divorces and killings that God hates. But we can see when we examine the Scriptures as a whole understanding the principle of progressive revelation that God no more condemns all divorce than he condemns all killing.
God does not hate it when a man justly divorces his wife for adultery any more than he hates it when a man kills to defend his family. He hates that they were put in those positions to have to do those things – but he holds no ill will against the victims in these cases.
God only condemns two types of remarriage – the first is that a man may not remarry his wife whom he divorced if she marries another man. The second is a woman who unjustly divorces her husband for reasons God does not allow is forbidden from remarriage to any other man but the husband she wrongly left.
Finally, the teaching that those who have been the innocent victims of wrongful divorce by their spouse or have been forced to divorce their spouse for just cause are relegated to a life of celibacy by God finds no basis in the Word of God.
“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.
“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.
“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:
Ellie admitted that she reacted in sinful anger toward her husband for his behavior of staring at other women.
Ellie separated from her husband because of this continued behavior.
Ellie’s husband had an affair with a woman at his church.
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.
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).
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.
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:
You have always felt insecure about your beauty even before you ever met your husband.
You are feeling insecure about your body due to weight gain or natural aging.
You are worried that your husband will cheat on you or leave you for another woman.
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.
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?
“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
“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.
“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.
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
“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.”