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

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

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

John’s Story

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

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

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

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

Egalitarian or “partnership” marriages are based on a lie

Your statement:

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

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

Your statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes your Christian faith may cost you your marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)

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

Your children will be hurt in either case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Corinthians 6:13 (NASB)

Other related posts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kim’s statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kim’s statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kim’s statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

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

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

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

In fact in Deuteronomy we are told:

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kim’s statement:

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

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

Five Biblical principles regarding “re-marriage”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God allows women who are divorced by their husbands to remarry

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

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

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

“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“marry another”

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

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

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

“while her husband liveth”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

The only marriage in Scripture that could be considered an ‘adulterous affair’ or ‘adulterous marriage’ is when a woman unjustly divorces her husband and then marries another man. In this case she would be considered an adulterous and the man who married her would be considered an adulterer.

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

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

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

Why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?

Many women ask this question “Why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?” sometime after they get married. But you will never get the answers you seek until you first understand that you are asking the wrong question.

The question you are really asking is “Why doesn’t my husband show me affection anymore?”

You may be scratching your head now – maybe you are thinking something like “Affection and love are the same thing! – if you love someone you are affectionate towards them!”

But that is not actually true. There are many ways that a person can love someone and many ways that a person can show love toward someone.

The four types of Biblical love

Storge Love is the instinctual family love that a parent has for a child, a child has for a parent and a sibling has for their other siblings. You don’t choose to love your blood – it is hardwired into you by God.  Now that does not mean you are always fond of your blood, but deep down you love them and will do things for them because they are your blood.

Agape Love is a love based in choice.  It is when we choose to love someone not because of instinct or because of feelings that this person by their actions or their attributes generate in us.  We agape love someone because we have made a commitment to perform certain acts of love toward this person.

Phileo Love is a love based in friendship or affection depending on its context.

In the sense that it is commanded toward our brothers and sisters in Christ along with agape love it is a call to be friendly and kind toward our brethren.

But there is a second sense of phileo that is a conditional type of love.  Affection comes from this type of phileo love and it is feelings of affection in response to the actions or attributes of the person who is the object of affection.

Phileo love can actually be joined with family love – philostorgos to indicate a special fondness for a family member in response to the attributes or actions of that family member.

Eros Love is really a specific sexual type of phileo love and in Greek literature outside the Bible phileo love and eros love would be used interchangeably to talk about the feelings between two lovers.  It is a sexual love that is in direct response to sexual attraction.  While eros love is never mentioned in the New Testament, it is fully demonstrated throughout the entire book of the Song of Solomon.

The difference between Agape love and Phileo love demonstrated in God’s love

“For God so loved [agape] the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (KJV)

Before the foundation of the world God unconditionally committed to love his future creation in mankind.  He knew that man would fall into sin and need a savior and he planned to send his Son as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  This is a demonstration of God’s agape love – his love based on his choice and in his will, not in his emotion.

But God’s phileo love (his affectionate love)is a love that is in direct response to our love and actions toward him.

“For the Father himself loveth[Phileo] you, because ye have loved[Phileo] me, and have believed that I came out from God.” – John 16:27 (KJV)

So we see here in John 16:27 that God the Father’s affectionate love toward his disciples was in response to their affection for Christ and the actions of belief toward him.

So it is absolutely Biblically correct to say that in one way God loves all mankind (agape) but in another way his love is only in response to our loving acts toward him (phileo).

Another way of stating this Biblical truth about love is that God loves all people but he is not affectionate toward all people because not everyone acts in love toward him.

So as a woman if you want your husband to be more affectionate or are wondering why he is not as affectionate as he once was you must first accept this simple truth:

The affectionate type of love you are seeking from your husband is a feelings based and conditional love that is directly in response to your actions toward him.

So the next question you might ask is “What did I do toward him before when he used to be affectionate toward me?”

Measuring WHY your husband shows affection now against WHY he did in the early relationship phase is a mistake

Often women try to look back at the conditions of their relationship when they were dating, engaged and or perhaps newlyweds.

“I didn’t have to do a thing to get his affection when we were dating.  He said affectionate things to me all the time.  He did affectionate things for me all the time. He loved me just for being me.”  – This or something like it is what you might be thinking.

Yes when you were dating, engaged or perhaps even newlyweds he made all these grand gestures and statements of affection for you.  He may have seemed to worship the very ground you walked on and you did not have to do a thing to get this affection – it seemed like unconditional love.

But this was not agape unconditional love as much as you want to believe it was.  It was phileo love – feelings based love.

Ladies since we know that phileo love in the context of a romantic relationship between a man and woman is a responsive love – what was your husband responding to? What generated his phileo love for you and the corresponding acts of affection that came with it?

For most men the initial spark of his phileo love was probably based in his eros love(a type of phileo love) when he initially saw you and was sexually attracted to you.

So literally you did not have to do a thing for him to fall in phileo love with you at first sight!

Then after he got to know you, liked your personality and he found things in common with you then his phileo love for you grew in anticipation of a future permanent relationship. Again you may have done little to nothing to fuel this love. It was simply your attributes (physical and personality) and the possibility of a future permanent relationship that fueled is his feelings of affection for you.

But these conditions no longer exist.

Whether you have been married 6 months, 6 years or 16 years you may never be able to get your husband to show you the kind of affection he did in your early relationship simply based on your physical attributes and your personality.

Measuring HOW your husband shows affection now against HOW he did in the early relationship phase is also a mistake

Not only do many women falsely measure the conditions for WHY their husband showed them affection in their early relationship but the next big mistake is in comparing HOW he showed affection in the newness phase of their relationship.

How your husband showed you affection in the early days of your relationship cannot be the measure by which you judge his affection after your relationship moved out of that newness phase.  In most relationships that was temporary insanity on the part of the man. Does the phrase “I am crazy for you!” ring any bells?

Many women live their whole lives in the past – longing for the days when their husbands first met them and adored them and lavished all kinds of affection on them. Basically they are living and longing for something that was temporary. Women also do this even with their bodies living in the past of what their body used to look like and never coming to an acceptance of the natural aging process.

As a woman you will never find happiness and contentment in your marriage until you accept that as relationships mature and as your body matures things change.

In fact is its because of this longing for the past that some women get drastic cosmetic surgeries as they age and they divorce their husbands longing for the thrills of adoration and affection they experienced during their early relationship with their husband.

But you know what they find? Not long after they are married again to a new man the affection and feelings of the relationship when it was brand new go away. This is one of the main reasons that almost 70 percent of divorces today are filed by women.  They continually seeking a type of affection that is temporary and does not last.

Your husband may still have phileo love for you but you don’t recognize it

The truth is that most men when they move out of the newness phase of a relationship and regain their sanity go back to normal male operations. Men are not as naturally affectionate as women are. Even the way that men show affection is often very different than women.

While many men verbally communicate their feelings of affection during the newness phase of a relationship this is NOT the norm of how men operate.

While women primarily communicate their feelings with words, men on the other hand primarily communicate their feelings with actions. This is something that for most women does not compute – but it is a fact.  The rare women who come to accept this fact in many cases end up having happier marriages and they typically don’t have the unmet expectations that other women do.

Let me just stop here and say I am not saying it is right for a man to never tell his wife that he loves her.  Men need to do that. Men need to tell their wives and children that they love them on a regular basis.  It takes intentionality and it takes men coming out of their comfort zone, but it needs to happen.

Ok back to you ladies. So perhaps your husband was showing you affection through his actions and you did not notice it.  Maybe it was those times he saw you were overwhelmed and went and did a couple loads of laundry.  Maybe it was when he stepped in the kitchen and did the dishes.  Maybe it was that night he came home from work and saw that you were overwhelmed and took you and the kids out to dinner.  There are so many things like this that men do each and every day that in their minds are acts of affection toward their wives but these things go unnoticed by many women.

He only touches me when he wants sex!

Most men are typically not physically affectionate unless they want sex.  It is hardwired into men. Are there exceptions where men are more emotional and/or touchy without it turning into sex? Yes.  But these men are rare.

For most men the equation goes like this:

Physical affection = Time to have sex

I realize as a woman you might hate this.  Many women complain about this. Some wives eventually figure out this equation and stop giving their husband physical affection because they know where it will lead (and this is very wrong by the way).

“Why can’t he touch me or I touch him without it every time having to turn into us having to have sex? I feel so used.” – This is a thought that may have crossed your mind as it has the minds of millions of women before you.

Let me try and convey this truth in a way that will make sense to you as a woman.

For you verbal communication, emotional connection and words of affection may or may NOT lead to you having a desire to have sex with your husband.  Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t.  Sometimes you just want to talk, cuddle up and then go to sleep together – no sex is needed.

But imagine on one of those occasions where your husband was talking with you and you were emotionally connecting with him and then that caused you to have a strong a desire to have sex with him. He massages your neck and shoulders which just turns you on more.  Then he just stops and moves on to something else or if you are in bed he kisses you goodnight and rolls over and goes to sleep.  How frustrated would you be at that point with your desire burning red hot?

Now take that feeling of frustration and realize that for a lot of men EVERY time there is any kind of physical affection (hugs, cuddling, kissing, you sit on his lap…etc.) he is instantly turned on and ready to go. What happens for you on occasion and takes time to build happens to him in EVERY intimate touch between the two of you.

In fact you may have done nothing at all and not even touched him but just from him having a sexual thought he might be hot for you so he comes over and starts touching you.

In either case, whether you initiated the physical affection or he did asking men to separate physical affection with their wife from sex is a very difficult thing for a man to do- it feels unnatural to a man to separate these two things when it comes to his wife.

I am not saying it is impossible for a man not to have sex with his wife every time they have an intimate touch or embrace.  Many men practice restraint in this way all the time. I am not even saying that men should not practice a little restraint in this area. But the key phrase is “a little”. A married man most of the time should be able to act on his desires to have sex with his wife.  If that is every day, or every other day then so be it.

And on those occasions when your husband does show you affection without going for sex as women you need to realize how much your husband is sacrificing when he does this. He is literally resisting every fiber of his being telling him to have sex. And no it is NOT selfishness on his part – it is by the design of God.

“Well just because it is hard for men to do, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it!”

There are a great deal of people (even men who beat themselves up for the approval of women) that think men just need to be “civilized” and “reprogrammed”. Men need to be “more verbal and vulnerable with their emotions like women and they need to tone down the physical side of their sexual natures and embrace a more emotional sexual nature like that of a woman”. In short – men just need to be more like women and we would have better marriages.

There are a lot of marriage books, even Christian marriage books that are teaching this today.  Very few will come right out and say men need to be more like women in their approach to relationships, but most of them simply reword this and do it in a more subtle way.  But make no mistake this false teaching is being heavily propagated in marriage counseling books and sessions across America.

To that every man in this world should say “BOLGANA”! Especially Christian men who know that God created men and women with distinct and very different natures for his purposes and his design.

No my friends – what is called for is not for men to become more like women, but rather what God calls for is for us to UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT the differences in our male and female natures.

So if you realize that your husband does in fact show you signs of affection you were not seeing as signs of affection then this is what you must do. You must learn to accept the way he now shows you affection rather than longing for the days when your relationship was new and he was in crazy mode. People who are stuck in the past can never move forward.

But what if there are truly are no signs of affection that you can see? How do you go about creating the conditions that might lead to rekindling his affection for you?

5 Changes you can make that might rekindle your husband’s phileo love for you

You used to be able to win your husband’s affection based on your good looks and personality alone.  Basically you had do next nothing to get his affection but breathe and be his girlfriend.  But once a relationship moves past the new phase your actions toward him now become the basis for his phileo love for you rather than your physical attributes and personality alone.

Respect your husband

Do you find yourself constantly questioning and fighting with your husband? Do you speak disrespectfully to him especially in front of others? Do you find yourself criticizing him and telling him where you think he fails or could do better on a regular basis?  All of these behaviors can make a man feel disrespected and will definitely kill his phileo love and affection toward you.

If you have body acceptance issues – deal with them

Many women whether it is just a year or so, or several years after marriage begin to have body acceptance issues.  They may gain some weight before or after having children.  They may develop lose skin or cellulite.  They long for the days when they had smooth skin over 100 percent of their body and no rolls and no defects.

But let me tell you a secret ladies – most men do NOT care about these imperfections in their wife’s bodies.  That is why a famous song says that a man loves his woman’s “perfect imperfections”.  If you have body acceptance issues this will greatly affect every area of your marriage.  It will affect the next three things we will address regarding how you dress, how you undress and how you give your body to your husband.

Those next areas we will discuss are absolutely critical to instilling genuine affection in your husband toward you.

How you dress matters

As I said many times previously your physical attributes will not win his affection on their own.  However that does not mean they are not still a vital part of generating phileo love in your husband. Are you wearing sweats and big tee shirts all the time? Get clothes that flatter your figure. Get your hair done and if you need makeup then put it on. Dress to impress your husband!

How you undress matters

Has your lingerie been collecting dust for months or even years? Get it out, wash it and put it on for your man. Women don’t realize how important lingerie is to most men – when you present your body to your husband in lingerie it is like holding up a sign that says “I am yours”.

How you give your husband your body matters

Even if you don’t sexually deny your husband – are you enthusiastic about sex with him? Do you find yourself swatting his hands away on a regular basis? Do you have all kinds of restricted areas on your body? Like “you can touch here, but not there”. Do you make your husband have sex in the dark?

Putting all kinds of restrictions on how, where and when your husband can touch and see your body is a sure fire way to kill your husband’s phileo love and affection for you.

Ladies let me say one last thing here on freely and willingly giving your body to your husband which is a requirement by God (I Corinthians 7:4) of both men and women in a marriage. This is going to be a blunt statement but it must be said.

Just spreading your legs does not fulfill the requirement to give your husband your body.

Your entire body, from head to toe belongs to your husband.  That means if your husband wants to touch your butt he can touch your butt. If he wants to come up behind you in the kitchen and cup your breasts in his hands that is his right given to him by God. It is not right for you to limit sexual activity with your husband to his penis and your vagina.  I warned you that I was going to be blunt – and I was!

Now should men exercise sensitivity in this area toward their wives? Absolutely! Men should be sensitive to things like time and place.  A man cupping his wife’s breasts in the kitchen may be ok when no one is around but he should not be grabbing her breasts when they have company.  Also men should take into account that there are certain times of the month where areas of a woman’s body may be more sensitive. When trying out new sexual things in the bedroom this should also be approached with sensitivity and gentleness.

If you as a wife need to move your husbands hands away for legitimate reasons – this should always be done in gentleness and with kind words to him that let him know your body still belongs to him, but this is just not the time and place.

Conclusion

Maybe your husband loves you dearly but he is simply not showing it in ways he did when you were first dating.  If he never tells you he loves you then maybe gently and respectfully approach this with him.  Don’t condemn him, and acknowledge that you know how hard it is for him as a man to verbally express his feelings – but you need to hear those magic words “I love you” and so will your kids.  Maybe he never compliments you what you cook or what you wear and you need to hear that.  Just gently let him know that little compliments will go a long way in making you feel loved.

But if your husband does tell you that he loves and does give you compliments but you want grander acts and words of affection because you are living in the past when you were first dated then it might be you that needs to make a change and accept how you husband shows you affection now verses how he showed you affection then.

Perhaps you realize that yes you are getting zero signs of affection from him and you are not doing those 5 things I mentioned earlier to generate affectionate love in your husband. If you are not then you need to get on it.

It’s may take some hard mental changes for you to do those 5 things.  But in the end it will be worth it when reap the affection that you have sown in your husband’s heart by doing these things.

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” – II Corinthians 9:6 (KJV)

Feminism destroys a Church and a Marriage

“While preaching against the prevailing feminism of our day from 1 Peter, I was accused by a member with an egalitarian disposition of having a low view of women and a dismal view of marriage… A month later I was deposed from office, the church was disbanded and I was informally exiled from the denomination… I have been and am being defrauded by my wife, betrayed by my son, removed from my career along with over a decade of preparation, education and experience…” – this is just part of a story I received from a former minister in response to my post “How a husband can enjoy sex that is grudgingly given by his wife”.

It gets worse, much worse as you read this man’s story.

Jonadab the Rechabite’s Story

“BGR

Warning: what follows is a verbose, blubbering, whiny tale of a beta’s misfortune and malfeasance. Read at your own risk and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

You write on an issue that is a very present and painful agony in my life. I too know well the pain of sexual rejection; it is my constant companion that accompanies me like my shadow. It brings with it many bitter fruits. In my case my wife said that she did not want to have sex with me, because she did not respect me (she just could not have sex with a man she did not respect). That was over 25 years ago and the situation has not really improved.

Back then I, thinking of myself as a Christian man of honor and valor convinced myself of three things:

1) That I was called to love my wife no matter what; better or worse till death.

2) Suffering was often a part of love. That to take up my cross daily and that being rejected and despised was simply my sharing in the fellowship with the suffering of Christ, which He did out of love for His bride. So if Christ suffered for a church that would not honor Him or worship Him in Spirit and truth, then I could suffer for my bride who would not respond to me sexually or give me due honor and respect. So I recommitted to love my wife, even when she was unlovely, to be patient, caring and helpful, hoping that she would repent if I gave her time and space.

3) I would honor my vows unto death and that meant I would not be a rapist nor a beggar for sex, I would neither abandon my wife by divorce nor have an adulterous affair, so I was left with either a life as a eunuch or finding sexual release on my own, alone. I chose the latter and found that the use of visual aids were helpful. Mind you, if my wife responded to my overtures positively, she was my only sexual object, and she had all of my love and attention, but if she did not desire me, then I granted to her, her wish and I discretely found release and pleasure on my own.

I struggled with the accusation that visual aids were the same thing as adultery. I was concerned at the thought of the deceitfulness of my own heart in the matter, but I reasoned that my use was not to covet another women, but to remain with the woman I married. Still, the continuous outcry by the Christian community against porn had my spirit often vexed and confused. The church was screaming condemnations against male sexuality and porn while welcoming divorce and mute on defrauding. Women were viewed as holy and men as sinners, I knew if I went to the church to help my marriage, they would fail miserably to correct my wife and most likely point her to the path of divorce.

We would have sex a few times a year (2-6) and as a result I have five children. But as she got wind of my porn use and she became even more bitter toward me. I was/ am confounded about her anger of my porn use, she didn’t want sex with me, but she also did not want me to have a sex-drive. I believe that it was her desire to control me and control my desires, that provoked her to scorn me and despise me even more.

On the rare occasions we would have sex, I judged that she was “sand-bagging”. I believe she was intentionally making it as bad as she could so I would cease my overtures, while avoiding the charge of totally defrauding me. She resisted my attempts at foreplay, she would not touch me below the navel, would not kiss back etc. It seemed that her approach was “get on – get off -and get off —and make it fast!” In time I came to look at her as the destruction and desolation of my sex, she was the miserly and uptight killjoy – constantly on the prowl lest I have any enjoyment in life. She would not have sex with me and I had to be out of her presence have even a modicum of pleasure from the sexual consolation of masturbation. I realized that porn was not primarily about me desiring hot T and A, but me wanting to be desired. Paul said better to marry than to burn, I was married and I was burning with no way to quench the fire, only escape the flames for a short while.

It wasn’t always a total desert. During a time that she was a little more responsive, I as a result went porn free and I believed that we were on the road to lasting improvement. At the end of that extended time things were more tolerable and I became an elder in my church with a clear conscience. Eight years later the church commissioned me to plant a church and to become fully ordained, which I did. Things were going well, in fact a survey of the congregation had each household reporting that the prior year of participation at the church plant was the most intense year of spiritual growth of their life.

While preaching against the prevailing feminism of our day from 1 Peter, I was accused by a member with an egalitarian disposition of having a low view of women and a dismal view of marriage. That accusation was escalated to my presbytery would have gone nowhere, (my exegesis and application were biblically solid), except that at the same time my oldest son was feeling distressed about his mother’s growing expressions of contempt toward me.

A man who is fancies himself a “white knight” and super husband, liked to go hunting with my son, convinced him that the only possible reason for my wife’s discontent was that I was a lousy, unloving husband and therefore unfit for the ministry. That same man who had previously played a role in the destruction of two other churches, called a member of my presbytery accusing me of a “porn addiction”. An investigation ensued which was little more than just a few phone calls and when I was asked about my sex life, my wife or porn, I spoke the truth as plainly and forthright as I knew how with as little spin and humility as I could muster.

A month later I was deposed from office, the church was disbanded and I was informally exiled from the denomination. When I was first ordained, I vowed to submit to my presbytery and so I have heeded their discipline, even if I have disagreements with the process. (If I cannot submit to the church how can I expect my wife to submit to her husband?) Besides I no longer believe that I rule my household well, which is a biblical qualification to enter the ministry and some contend to remain in it.

To sum up: I have been and am being defrauded by my wife, betrayed by my son, removed from my career along with over a decade of preparation, education and experience, and most of the same people I prayed and agonized over daily will not talk to me. The blame me for the destruction of a very tight knit church.

One of the former members of the church was tried and convicted for an offense committed years ago when he was a minor and he had to go through the courts, jail and now prison with no pastor to comfort him, because I was deemed unfit to be a minister of the word and sacrament. I get teary eyed every time I think of that loneliness and doubt he had to endure and no one was not there for him when he really needed a pastor.

My wife and I went to a nouthetic counselor who just validated my wife’s feelings of contempt and condemned me as a “porn addict”, even though I hadn’t used porn for a over a year and a half. He dropped us after a few visits, never admonishing her to repent of her 25 years of sexual defrauding. She became convinced that she has grounds for a biblical divorce because the white knight community has bellowed their scripture abuse in her ear: that to look another woman with any sexual desire is the same as committing acts of adultery and any act of adultery is grounds for a christian wife to divorce her husband and destroy the home.

Except for an anonymous blog using a pseudonym, I cannot repeat what I just described to anyone including my family, the former members of my church or even my current church; to do so would constitute a catastrophic failure to protect my wife and my son’s reputation. My mother and siblings think I am a failure and maybe some kind of pervert. I cannot correct them or defend myself, I must let them think what they will, even if I am a reproach to them. I am now woefully insufficiently employed, working a job with long hours for low pay, mostly alone and that requires me to miss worship most weeks.

A deposed pastor even with graduate degrees in computer science and in pursuit of a doctorate of ministry is not in market demand. Nobody really cares that I taught church history, christian worldview, was published or preached to large crowds. My public positions against popular sins of the day have made me anathema to many potential employers. Add to that a downcast spirit and … well you get the idea. I have lost the role of head in my home and live under the threat of divorce.

I live in a sexless marriage where the marriage bed is defiled and cold, a symbol of decades of defrauding. Unlike the divorced man who has to pick up the pieces and get on with a broken life, I live daily feeling anew the fresh agony of a ongoing defrauding and a life lost of purpose. In moments of weakness, I feel alone, unwanted and useless. This is the fruit of a defrauded marriage. I wonder if I broken my vows and had gotten a divorce if I would be nearly so despised.

I know that all things work together for good, but right now I am having a difficult time seeing how it will all work out.

Lord I believe! Help thou my unbelief!”

My response to Jonadab

Jonadab – I am so very sorry to hear how the poisonous influences of feminism in both your church and your marriage have essentially destroyed the life you once had.

After I read your story this passage of Scripture came to mind:

 “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” – Psalm 27:10 (KJV)

Just substitute mother and father with wife, son and church.  The Lord will take you up my friend. He can be a comfort to you during this difficult time.

I have a dear friend who some years back lost his ministry to false accusations.  I knew him from high school.  He got a degree in ministry and was so excited about serving the Lord and then he like you was betrayed.

I too have experienced and I know many who have experienced the unbiblical counseling that often goes on in Churches and other Christian ministries.

But believe it or not there are still some Bible preaching churches that would give you comfort and support.  You might need to change denominations to do it, but they are out there.  If you told your story to my Pastor you would have a very sympathetic ear.  He would have issues with the porn, but everything else you have stated he would be right with you.  He takes a hard stand against sexual denial in marriage when he does marriage counseling and he believes very strongly in Biblical authority in marriage.

Your story shows how feminism is not only destroying marriages, it is destroying churches as well.  It has seeped into every area of our lives in America and Western cultures. That is why we must take a stand against it.

You can’t go back and undo the past, but you can influence the direction of the future.  You may not be able to save your own marriage or your church, but you might be able to save other people’s marriages or other churches with these warnings.

You need to take a stand

Jonadab – there is something more that you can do.  Yes we need to warn others and yes there are some things we can’t change.  You won’t get your old ministry or old church back.

But you still have a marriage that needs you to be its head.  We are all sinners and we all make mistakes.  I am sure you have made other mistakes in your marriage and parenting but just from reading your story here are things that were NOT sin and NOT mistakes:

You preaching against feminism from I Peter was NOT a sin. You followed God’s Word and his leading.  You have nothing to apologize for.

You using “visual aids” to give yourself sexual release because your wife was failing to meet your sexual needs was NOT a sin. The Bible lust which is covetousness, it does not condemn sexual arousal or sexual imagination or use of images.

It sounds to me like you tried to serve your wife and please her to the best of your ability and I am sure you were not always perfect in this, but this in no way justifies her behavior or her contempt toward you as her husband.

Your wife is acting in wicked rebellion toward you and God. In her selfish and self-conceited sin she thinks she is the only woman you may look at and she is determiner of where and when you are allowed to experience you God given sexuality as a man.  She is completely wrong on this.

You need to get off your knees stand up and be the man God has called you to be. You must take back the leadership and authority in your home that you have abandoned for years.

If you want to know the area you have sinned in (based on your story) – it is in the abandonment of your duty to be the leader and authority in your home.  I do not say this to shame you, but to encourage you to get up and do what is right. You have enabled sin in your wife and son’s life.  Even if they do not recognize your authority to lead – you must lead anyway.

So the first thing you must do is a full self-examination with the Lord. Allow God to search your heart and reveal any sins you have committed and confess those to him. If you need to confess some actual sins (as opposed to perceived sins) against your wife or son then confess that to them as well.

Ask the Lord to give you courage because you are going to need it my friend.

stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – I Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)

You stood firm in the faith in your church and lost your church because of it. But you have not stood firm in the faith in your home – because I think you might fear to lose that as well.

But you must be prepared to take a strong stand that may result in your wife divorcing you (or you divorcing her) and further alienation of your son. But you must put God’s ways first.  You must take a strong stand against sin.

I know in the beginning you believed that God called you to suffer with your wife’s sin of disrespect and denial. But I think now you realize that you have been enabling sin all these years.  You have not used the tools that God gives to husband as the head of his wife and his home.  Now you have the knowledge of what is right – you have only to act on it.

Find a Bible preaching church in your area – one where feminism is preached against without fear. Find support there and then begin the hard work of disciplining your wife.

See these two posts I wrote on the subject of Biblical discipline.

8 Steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal

7 Ways to discipline your wife

May God be with you brother.  Remember – even when your own family stands against you, God will be there to lift you up.

Martin Luther on divorce for sexual denial

“Only first the husband should admonish and warn his wife two or three times, and let the situation be known to others so that her stubbornness becomes a matter of common knowledge and is rebuked before the congregation. If she still refuses, get rid of her; take an Esther and let Vashti go, as King Ahasuerus did [Esther 1:12‑2:17]”.  This was a statement by Martin Luther “Living as Husband and Wife” (1523) on the subject of sexual denial and abandonment in marriage.

I had one of my readers(thanks Dash) bring this quote to my attention today.  I have attended a Baptist Church for most of my life, but I studied many of the writing of reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin in my youth and I don’t remember coming across this quote. After verifying it in several sources I thought I would bring Martin Luther’s words on this subject to your attention.

Let me first say, that unlike the Catholics, we as Protestants do not believe that our church leaders are inerrant in their utterances on doctrinal interpretation. So while I agree with the sentiment here of Martin Luther on the subject of sexual denial, there are many other areas where I would not agree with him.  But where we as Christians agree (whether we be Protestant or Catholic), we should stand together.

I think Luther’s words stand in stark contrast to a Pastor who emailed a man scolding him for considering discipline against his wife for her chronic sexual denial:

“I do not think it right to pursue discipline toward your wife for not having sex with you as you have previously suggested. Sex is the physical expression of intimacy that is to exist in a marriage relationship where the two are one – not just physically. I have never heard of or read of anyone being disciplined by a church for such a reason. And, I am not alone in that position. I have sought counsel from other pastors and elders on it without divulging your identities to those outside our church.”

So again I am not advocating for the inerrancy of Luther’s application and interpretations of the Scripture.  But whether you agree that the Scriptures allow divorce for sexual denial or not what this does provide is historical evidence for Pastors that the Christian belief in discipline for sexual denial is not a new teaching.

With all that said – here is the full quote from Luther on this subject of divorce for sexual denial:

 “The third case for divorce is that in which one of the parties deprives and avoids the other, refusing to fulfill the conjugal duty or to live with the other person. For example, one finds many a stubborn wife like that who will not give in, and who cares not a whit whether her husband falls into the sin of unchastity ten times over. Here it is time for the husband to say, “If you will not, another will; the maid will come if the wife will not.” Only first the husband should admonish and warn his wife two or three times, and let the situation be known to others so that her stubbornness becomes a matter of common knowledge and is rebuked before the congregation. If she still refuses, get rid of her; take an Esther and let Vashti go, as King Ahasuerus did [Esther 1:12‑2:17].

Here you should be guided by the words of St. Paul, I Corinthians 7 [:4‑5], “The husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does; likewise the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does. Do not deprive each other, except by agreement,” etc. Notice that St. Paul forbids either party to deprive the other, for by the marriage vow each submits his body to the other in conjugal duty. When one resists the other and refuses the conjugal duty she is robbing the other of the body she had bestowed upon him. This is really contrary to marriage, and dissolves the marriage. For this reason the civil government must compel the wife, or put her to death. If the government fails to act, the husband must reason that his wife has been stolen away and slain by robbers; he must seek another. We would certainly have to accept it if someone’s life were taken from him. Why then should we not also accept it if a wife steals herself away from her husband, or is stolen away by others?”

Martin Luther, “Living as Husband and Wife” (1523)

http://www.lutherdansk.dk/Web-Living%20as%20husband%20and%20wife/Living%20as%20husband%20and%20wife.htm

By the way I am not advocating for the death penalty by civil government for a wife denying her husband.  Martin Luther was a product of his time and his day there were a lot more crimes that people thought were punishable by death.

But I do think we make divorce far too painless today, especially as it relates to women. Today a woman can deny her husband sexually or have affairs with men and then when they divorce she gets either joint custody or primary custody of the children, his house and half of his assets. It is almost as if the government(which has been thoroughly infected by feminism) rewards the rebellion of modern women today.

If it can be proven that a woman was purposefully and willfully denying her husband or that she was committing adultery then I do think it should affect property settlements and child custody in divorce. There must be a price to pay.

On the issue of proving sexual denial, I think Martin Luther actually had a great idea.  Let others know. Make sure for some time that other members of the Church as well as family and friends know about her denial if she will not repent privately.  I agree that a husband should not make this public if his wife admits her wrong privately and changes her ways.  But if she is continues in her ways, it is time to drag her sin into the light.  Sin wants to hide in the dark, it wants to remain in secret.

Does God allow divorce for spousal abandonment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Corinthians 7:10-16 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

This cause for divorce applies equally to both genders

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

How long must one wait?

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

Conclusion

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

Does God allow divorce for abuse?

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

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

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

Does the Bible speak specifically on spousal abuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of abuse are we talking about?

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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Does God allow a woman to divorce her husband for failure to provide?

“Will God allow me to divorce my lazy husband who refuses to work and provide for me and our children?” This is a question many Christian wives ask. If a man fails to provide for his wife and children does God consider this a breach of the marriage covenant allowing for a woman to divorce her husband?

As I have stated in the first two articles in this series on divorce (“Why does God allow divorce” and “Does the Bible allow divorce for adultery?”) – some allowances for divorce are gender specific, and failure to provide is a gender specific reason for which God allows divorce.

God allows divorce for a husband’s failure to provide

In the book of Exodus God gives a woman these rights that are due her, and if her husband fails to give her these three things she is to be freed (divorced from him):

“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)

Here Moses’s states that there are three critical duties a husband has to his wife – he must provide her with food, clothing and duty of marriage. The English phrase “duty of marriage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ownah” which literally means “conjugal rights” (right to sex).

If a man did not provide these three things to his wife – he had to free her. We will discuss denial of sex as a cause for divorce in a separate upcoming post. For this post we will looking at a man’s duty to provide for his wife, and failure to do so being considered a breach of the marriage covenant and grounds for divorce.

Someone might ask – “Why would a man free his wife even if he was not providing for her physical needs as God commanded?” While the woman could not free herself – her male relatives or the elders of their town could force a man to give his wife a bill of divorce and free her if he was neglecting to provide for her with food and clothing (and shelter would be included with clothing).

Is God saying if a man loses his job his wife can divorce him?

No. What God is talking about here is not momentary failures of a man to provide for his family. Some men may lose their jobs (either because of their own failure, or no failure of their own) and this temporary loss of provision does not warrant divorce. In fact some men may go through some temporary times of depression if they lose their job and a wife needs to be patient with her husband and build him back up.

Some couples may agree that for a temporary time while a man is finishing college to provide a good life for his family, that his wife may be the primary source of income during this time. Again this is temporary and for the ultimate purpose of him becoming the primary provider and her being able to step down from that role.

What I believe God is talking about here is a man that chronically fails to provide, he hates working and looks for any way not to work. He will allow his family to starve and it does not bother him, or he forces his wife to work while he sits in laziness doing nothing. This is the type of man God is targeting in Exodus 21:10-11.

Is there a difference between “failure to provide” and “laziness”?

While often times the sin of laziness is directly linked with a man failing to provide for his family this is not always the case. A man may have inherited wealth, or earned wealth from a business he owned many years ago and sold. Some men can live their entire life off their savings. So this man could be lazy – sit on a couch all day, play video games and eat Cheetos. But if he provides food, shelter and clothing to his wife and children through his accumulated wealth (rather than working a job) he is still providing and thus meeting this requirement of marriage.

Does this mean laziness on the part of a husband is acceptable before God? Absolutely not! God says in the book of Proverbs:

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” – Proverbs 6:9 (KJV)

Our minds and bodies were not meant to lay around on a couch all day. Rather we were designed by God to be busy (both men and women) – God wants us to be ambitious.

But there are certain sins which God considers to be breaches of the marriage covenant, and other sins while still being terrible and wrong, do not breach the marriage covenant and therefore do not warrant divorce.

Does God allow a man to divorce his wife for laziness?

No – a husband may not divorce his wife for laziness, but he may discipline her for it as her head and authority. Just because a man is expected to be the primary provider, this does not free a wife to sit on the couch all day either. God expects both men and women to be busy.

Proverbs 31 tell us this about the excellent wife:

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:27 (KJV)

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)

If a woman is failing to keep the home, failing to cook meals or failing to adequately care for the children a husband could discipline his wife by removing her access to his income and him directly providing the food and other necessities himself. I even once heard of a husband shutting off the cable TV so his wife could not watch her favorite shows (because of her laziness).

What about if a husband is disabled?

God only expects us to do what we are able to do. If a man is truly disabled then his wife may have to step into that primary provider role. What we are talking about here is an able bodied man that refuses to work and provide for his family.

Conclusion

God is clear in Exodus 21:10-11 that a woman is to be freed (allowed a divorce) from a husband that refuses to provide her because in doing so he has breached the marriage covenant.

On a personal note this is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen – and I have seen it up close and personal with some of my relatives and other acquaintances.   It disgusts me to see men get laid off from their job, and purposefully sit on a couch playing video games and watching TV collecting unemployment checks for months before finally looking for work in their last month of unemployment. It disgusts me when a man sits on a couch and has his wife go out and work and provide. It is different if he is disabled, but when an able bodied man refuses to work I believe we ought to follow God’s Word in I Thessalonians:

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV)

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Used under Creativecommons license 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Does God allow divorce for adultery?

Does God allow divorce for adultery or does he want couples to stay together no matter what?

In my post “Why does God allow divorce?” I showed that the Bible allows divorce for multiple reasons. I even addressed Christ’s statements on divorce which seem to be comprehensive about divorce, but upon closer examination we see that they were not comprehensive.

Christ’s answer was a targeted response to a targeted question about divorce – “divorce for any cause”. Also the question asked him, as well as his answer was very gender specific, it was about divorce from the perspective of a man. Christ’s answer could be boiled down to “No, a man cannot divorce his wife for just any reason he wants, rather he can only divorce his wife for serious reasons that God allows for.”

Christ gives a reason that divorce is allowed

I talked in that previous post about how Christ used the words “fornication” and “adultery” in connection with divorce in Matthew 19:

“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.” – Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

The English word “fornication” is a translation of the Greek word “Porneia” which literally means “sexual immorality”. It encompasses premarital sex, sex with prostitutes, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality and any sin that is sexually related. Some have mistakenly taught that fornication only refers to premarital sex and therefore Christ’s exception for fornication applies only to a woman betrothed and since the couple was technically married the man could give his wife a bill of divorce. But since we know that historically speaking fornication included adultery and all sexually related sinful activity this interpretation is far too narrow and cannot be correct.

Christ expands the definition of Adultery

In our modern English dictionary “adultery” is a gender neutral term, but in the Bible it is not. In the Bible – both in the Hebrew Old Testament and in the Greek New Testament Adultery always has at its center a married woman. In its most literal form the only way adultery occurs is when a married woman has sex with a man other than her husband, whether the man she has sex with is married or not is irrelevant.

If a man (married or single) had sex with a woman other than his wife, like a prostitute or some other unmarried woman, this was NOT considered adultery. It would have been Whoremongering, but not adultery.

But in the Gospels Christ expands the definition of adultery from its literal form, to a symbolic form. He says that a man commits adultery against his wife when he divorces her for any other reason than sexual immorality. This would have left all the men in his audience scratching their heads. They were thinking “Wait, only a woman can commit adultery against her husband, a man can’t commit adultery against his wife”.

So in other words Christ was saying “Men you think only your wives can commit adultery against you? But you commit adultery against your wives by divorcing them for any other reason EXCEPT sexual immorality. You further cause the man who marries your wrongly divorced wife to commit adultery because you are still married to her in God’s eyes”.

I believe it is clear from Christ’s statement that a man is allowed to divorce his wife for fornication (which includes adultery).

Does Gender matter in divorce?

But what about a woman divorcing her husband for fornication? Can we just switch the genders in these verses?

Can we take this passage….

“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.” – Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

And then switch it up like this…

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away her husband, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth him which is put away doth commit adultery.” – Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

Many would say it is right to do this. I used to believe we could switch the genders but recently as I have been restudying all the Bible’s passages on marriage and divorce I have come to a conclusion that even at first I had a very hard time with.

When a Bible passage is not comparing and contrasting a man with a woman(like marriage passages do, and some passages on Church leadership do) then it is right to understand “man” as speaking to all mankind(women included). Most of the Bible is speaking equally to men and women. But there are some passages that speak in gender specific terms – I believe that these passages are gender specific.

If we cannot switch up the genders on passages that speak to marriage, then it would follow that we cannot switch up the genders when it comes to divorce (the dissolving of marriage).

So what is the conclusion?

In the Gospels God allows a MAN to divorce his WIFE for fornication. He is NOT allowing a woman to divorce her husband for fornication. I know how that sounds, I know how offensive that is to our modern culture.

I can just hear it now “So a man can run around with other women and his wife cannot divorce him, but he could divorce her for doing the same thing? That is wrong! That is unfair! That is unjust!” I know this because I used to think that way. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying that God condones a man whoring around. But let’s face it – there are many sins a man can commit, but God only allows divorce for certain sins.

When you study the issue and think about it not from our cultural perspective, but from that of Biblical times it makes sense. A woman could ONLY be having sex with one man – her husband. She could only marry and have sex with another man either if she was divorced for reasons God allowed or if her husband died she was free to remarry.

But with a man he could marry more than one woman. So he could have multiple marriages to different women and be rightly having sex with each of them. Sometimes though a man might have sex with a single woman that was not a prostitute, but he had not officially taken her as a wife. In this case a woman would not be able to divorce her husband simply because he was sleeping with another woman without taking her as a wife. His sin Biblically speaking, was not against his wife, but against God and woman he was having sex with because he had not brought her under his protection and provision as his wife.

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Why Does God allow divorce?

Why does God allow divorce? For what reasons did God allow for his beautiful creation of marriage to be dissolved?

I mention divorce on this blog often, and it may have given some the impression that I believe in “easy divorce”, or divorce “for any cause”. This could not be further from the truth. I believe that marriage is sacred, and before sin entered the picture in the Garden of Eden, God meant for marriage to be for life. However because of sin, God allowed divorce because he knew that some husbands and wives would commit such grievous sins against their marriage and their spouse that it would break the marriage covenant.

Divorce is a huge topic, so it will take several posts to adequately cover it. This first post will lay the foundation for other posts in this series on Biblical Divorce.

When did God first regulate divorce?

Undoubtedly divorce, or “a man putting away his wife” occurred long before the nation of Israel existed. But God’s first regulation regarding divorce was issued through Moses in his Laws to the nation of Israel:

“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.” – Deuteronomy 24:1 (KJV)

So here we see that God allowed for a man to give his wife a bill of divorce and send her away because he had “found some uncleanness in her”. The English word “uncleanness” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ervah” which literally means “nakedness of a thing, indecency, improper behaviour”.

There were competing schools of thought on what Moses meant by “ervah”. One group taught that Moses was only allowing divorce for serious transgressions committed by the wife, while the second group taught that a man could divorce his wife “for any cause” including trivial things such as being a bad cook. Later in the Gospels Christ would settle this dispute once and for all.

But before we get to the discussion of divorce in the Gospels, we need to address another statement on divorce from Moses. Most people incorrectly think that this was Moses’s only regulation on divorce but they would be mistaken.

In Deuteronomy 24 Moses addressed divorce from the husband’s perspective, but in Exodus 21 Moses addressed divorce from wife’s perspective:

“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)

Here Moses states that there are three critical duties a husband has to his wife – he must provide her with food, clothing and duty of marriage. The English phrase “duty of marriage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “ownah” which literally means “conjugal rights” (right to sex).

If a man did not provide these three things to his wife – he had to free her.

Notice the language of divorce is very different when talking from the husband’s perspective than from the wife’s. One of the major differences is that a husband sends his wife away in divorce, while a wife is freed from her husband in divorce.

The reason for the difference in language is that in marriage a woman was made the property of her husband. A wife could not give her husband a bill of divorce, because she was his property, only he could give her a bill of divorce and thus “free her” from the marriage.

Some have asked – “Why would a man free his wife even if he was not giving her the three things God commanded him of food, clothing and duty of marriage?”  While the woman could not free herself – her male relatives or the elders of their town could force a man to give his wife a bill of divorce and free her if he was neglecting these things.

Christ settles the debate on divorce in the Gospels

Christ addressed the issue of divorce in four different passages in the Gospels – Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18. As with any other issue in the Bible – the only way we can know the truth of God’s Word is to put the entire witness of the Bible together and that means the entire Old Testament and the New Testament. This concept is especially important when dealing with the Gospels. The truth is that Christ probably spoke many times on the subject of divorce, but God only chose to have four of those instances recorded by the Apostles.

Matthew’s Gospel gives us two accounts of Christ’s words on divorce, the first one in Matthew chapter 5 gives us one of his short statements on divorce. Matthew 19 gives us a much lengthier word from Christ on divorce. Mark’s Gospel also records a lengthy discourse on divorce, very similar to that of Matthew 19. Luke gives us a very short statement on divorce, similar to that of Matthew 5.

The biggest and most controversial difference between the four Gospel accounts is what is sometimes referred to as “the exception clause”. In Mark’s account and Luke’s account it would appear that Christ says a man cannot divorce his wife and a wife cannot divorce her husband, thus wiping away allowance for divorce in God’s law, but in Matthew’s accounts we see an exception allowing divorce in the case of fornication.

But in both of Matthew’s accounts – an exception is given, for “fornication”, or sexual immorality. This is why Matthew 19 is considered by most scholars to be the most complete teaching of Christ on divorce.

The fullest account of Christ’s answer to the question of divorce

“3 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?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 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.

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Matthew 19:3-12 (KJV)

Many Pastors and scholars have made the mistake of looking at Christ’s answers on divorce, without fully understand the question he was answering. If you don’t understand the question, then you can’t correctly understand the answer.

The Pharisees were asking Christ to settle the dispute on divorce – would he side with those who taught that a man could divorce his wife “for any cause” or would he side with those that a man could not divorce his wife except for serious immorality?

Christ answers their question by going back to the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the picture. God meant for man and woman to be together for life in marriage. He then explains that Moses’s allowed them to divorce their wives because of the hardness of their hearts. God allowed them to divorce their wives because of the presence of sin.

But let’s remember – that is was not really Moses that allowed divorce – it was God himself speaking through Moses. We need to remember that.

Now that we have setup the background of Christ’s answer in Matthew 19:9 we can fully understand it better.

“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.”

Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

Two key words in Christ’s answer

There are two key words used in Christ’s answer – “fornication” and “adultery”.   The English word “fornication” is a translation of the Greek word “Porneia” which literally means “sexual immorality”. It encompasses premarital sex, sex with prostitutes, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality and any sin that is sexually related. Some have mistakenly taught that fornication only refers to premarital sex and therefore Christ’s exception for fornication applies only to a woman betrothed and since the couple was technically married the man could give his wife a bill of divorce. But since we know that historically speaking fornication included adultery and all sexually related sinful activity this interpretation is far too narrow and cannot be correct.

So why didn’t Christ just say “except it be for adultery”? The reason is that adultery is only one type of sexual immorality. The English word “adultery” is a translation of the Greek word “Moichao” which means “to have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife”. Christ was saying that if a woman commits ANY type of sexual immorality – including but not limited to her sleeping with a man not her husband that her husband had the right to divorce her.

Christ’s big change-up on adultery

In our modern English dictionary “adultery” is a gender neutral term, but in the Bible it is not. In the Bible – both in the Hebrew Old Testament and in the Greek New Testament adultery always has at its center a married woman. In its most literal form the only way adultery occurs is when a married woman has sex with a man other than her husband, whether the man she has sex with is married or not is irrelevant.

If a man (married or single) had sex with a woman other than his wife, like a prostitute or some other unmarried woman, this was NOT considered adultery. It would have been whoremongering, but not adultery.

But here Christ expands the definition of adultery from its literal form, to a symbolic form. He says that a man commits adultery against his wife when he divorces her for any other reason than sexual immorality. This would have left all the men in his audience scratching their heads. They were thinking “Wait, only a woman can commit adultery against her husband, a man can’t commit adultery against his wife”.

So in other words Christ was saying “Men you think only your wives can commit adultery against you? But you commit adultery against your wives by divorcing them for any other reason EXCEPT sexual immorality”.

Was Christ’s answer on divorce comprehensive?

One of the common heresies we see today is some Christian groups taking the Gospels and trying to cancel out the inspired Scriptures that followed them (like the Pauline epistles). This is because of a complete lack of understanding of progressive revelation and the inspiration of the Scriptures. There are many important subjects not covered in the Gospels but covered later in the Epistles of Paul or the other writers of the Scripture. Some things Christ briefly touched on, but he did not fully cover them.

On this subject of divorce we know that Christ’s answer was targeted at the idea of “divorce for any cause” which he was vehemently rejecting. But when we understand the targeted question he was answering we know that his answer was NOT comprehensive but was in fact targeted at “men divorcing their wives for any cause”.

We know this because if it was comprehensive then Paul could not have wrote this under the direct inspiration of God:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Corinthians 7:10-16 (KJV)

So in verses 10 and 11 – Paul is referring back to Christ’s words on divorce. He does not mention Christ’s exemption – but Christ’s general tone toward divorce. Divorce should not occur “for any cause”. He then adds a new allowance for divorce saying “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord”. Some have wrongly used Paul’s statement to say that this was not inspired Scripture. But this is not the case.

Paul was trying to draw a distinction between what Christ said during his earthly ministry and what Christ was speaking through him now. I will have a dedicated post on this passage from Paul where he addresses divorce. But for now I am only using this passage to illustrate that Christ’s words on divorce during his early ministry as recorded in the Gospels were not his final word on the subject, nor was it comprehensively taking on all the allowable causes of divorce.

It is a mistake to ignore the gender in Christ’s answer

Now that we have established that Christ’s word on divorce in the Gospels was not in fact comprehensive, because of Paul’s expansion on it, we need to look closer at the aspect of divorce he WAS targeting in his response. Unlike most of what passes for Christian marriage counseling today, the Bible is very gender specific when it comes to commands regarding marriage as well as divorce. Even many Christians who embrace Biblical gender roles in marriage often fall into the trap of forgetting that there are also gender differences in divorce.

If you look very carefully at all the Gospel passages regarding divorce – Christ always speaks of how a man can divorce his wife in answer to the question of the Pharisees. He does not address reasons a woman can divorce her husband. Remember that he was clarifying what Moses meant when he said a man could divorce his wife for “uncleanliness”.

It is a mistake to say that God took away a woman’s right to be freed from, to be divorced from a man who would not provide for her and who refused to have sex with her. Exodus 21:10-11 still stands and Christ did not cancel that out when we look at his answer in context of the question that was asked him.

We must remember that Moses law can be divided into 5 parts – moral law, civil law, sacrificial law, priesthood law and ceremonial cleanliness laws. God reinstates his moral law in the New Testament while leaving behind the other four parts of the law as those laws were made for Israel as a theocracy as Part of the Old covenant he made with Israel. When Christ died on the cross, he ushered in a new covenant and a new priesthood – the priesthood of the believer.

Exodus 21:10-11 is confirmed to be moral law reinforced by God based on these two passages from the New Testament:

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 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)

This passage from Ephesians 5 confirms that a husband providing for food and clothing for his wife, as he would for his own body is part of the moral law of God. This is a reinforcement of the provision clause of Exodus 21:10-11.

On the issue of sexual relations between a husband and a wife – Paul reaffirms and expounds on the right of sex in marriage. Where previously Exodus 21:10-11 spoke only of the right of sex from the woman’s perspective – Paul makes it clear this is in fact a right of the husband as well.

So it is correct to say that Exodus 21:10-11 still stands, and Christ did not cancel out these requirements for marriage, or the fact that a woman could divorce her husband he neglected to give her “these three”.

Is it unbiblical for a woman to be allowed to divorce her husband?

As I pointed out previously in the Old Testament the language of divorce had with it that a husband would “send away his wife” in divorce, while a woman was “freed” in divorce because she was (and I would still argue that she is) his property.

Today the mechanism of divorce is different, but the principle remains. In Biblical times a neglected wife could bring her grievances to her male relatives or to the town elders to bring pressure on her husband to free her (divorce her).

Today a woman has been given the right by our government to divorce her husband – she brings her grievances to the court and the court grants that divorce. There is no sin in this process as we are not the nation of Israel and we are NOT a theocracy. If a woman divorces her husband for reasons God does not allow only then does her seeking a divorce become sinful.

Conclusion

Christ settled the century’s long dispute regarding the question “Can a man divorce his wife for any cause?” His answer was clearly “No”. Instead we see that man can only divorce his wife for reasons that God allows. We also see that Christ’s reason of sexual immorality is NOT the only reason a man can divorce his wife as he inspired Paul to expand on his answers regarding divorce. His response was not meant to take away a wife’s right to be freed from her husband under certain allowable circumstances that are shown in other passages of Scripture. In the next posts in this series we will more closely examine each of the reasons that God allows a husband or wife to divorce their spouse.