Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Divorce of a Christian

I'll be upfront. I have a bone to pick.

One of my dear, dear friends is in a bad situation, and has been for nearly 10 years. She's been ignored, emotionally abused, insulted. She was abandoned for over a year-- and I mean abandonment in the full sense of the word. Her husband left. Moved out. Provided zero financial assistance, and very little correspondence. There were vague promises to return "sometime soon." For me, that would have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Gosh, no, who am I kidding? The second, third, fiftieth time that her husband left on a Friday and failed to return for days, or even call... I would have changed the locks.
Just being honest.
Love does not mistreat and abuse. Love does not intentionally cause pain. That is not love.

Like me, my friend is a Christian. Unfortunately, she is married to a man who has never professed any kind of faith. He holds himself to no "rules" or morals. And, c'mon, even unbelievers can hold themselves to standards and be good spouses. Unbelief should not be used as an excuse for rotten behaviour. And I do hear that argument quite often, "oh, well, he's unsaved, so how can we expect anything different?" Hogwash. I've known many non-Christians who were intelligent, respectable people.

My bone is that supposedly well-meaning Christian friends comment in passing that they will pray for her... that she should stay "because that's what the Bible says," and then they carry on their way. They don't see the damage, the destruction, the aftermath of the storms. They didn't see a woman sobbing for days, weeks, years. They didn't watch this woman crying out in labor, whose husband had just left to catch a plane for a party (YES, while she was in LABOR.) They don't see the children who are growing up fatherless...but emotionally abused when he is actually in the picture.

Here's the kicker. He says he doesn't want a family anymore. He's not "in love" anymore. He wants to leave.

What does the Bible say about this? Well-meaning Christian sites, like Got Questions, quote 1 Cor 7, to back up their Stay Married Advice:

"12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not
a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And
if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with
her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified
through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her
believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they
are holy. "

Ah, yes.
But the next verse has been conveniently left off:

"15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing
man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in

Her husband wants to leave. For crying out loud people, give the woman sound advice: LET THE MAN LEAVE. Give her no guilt trips. No superficial comments. Offer good advice or no advice at all. Never guilt someone into staying in a bad relationship, if you can't possibly know the devastation of the family.

Though by no means God's desire "from the beginning," it will likely be best for all concerned if he does leave. Scripture gives room for this. God's heart is for us. For our protection.

We can't be legalists with the law. How biased and prejudiced can people get?

Some people will believe and push anything but the text, and "a text without a context is a pretext."

My heart breaks for this woman and her children. And my blood boils when I hear others encouraging her to stay, endure, and "do the right thing." Doesn't she deserve a chance at a normal life? Should she worry every day about whether her husband is even coming home? And if he'll be sober when he does? Does she need the credit card debt piling up on her, when she has been the only breadwinner for years, sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs to pay the bills? Should she try to make a man stay, who says that he wants to leave?

Now, really stop and pray for her. For the kids. My prayer is that the man will either shape up or ship out. God is in the business of performing miracles... but He doesn't change people without their willingness. Saul had a rude awakening and some convincing signs, but ultimately he had to open his heart, before God would work that metamorphosis in his life.


sara's art house said...

What a sad situation :( I feel the same as you do. And I pray that her friends support her with true help and love.

Ms Debbie said...

Whew..... why dont you just tell us how you feel? :) Can I shed some light from someone that has been in that position? As a Christian you are taught to hang on, turn the other cheek, cleave to your husband, etc... so you have a guilt that lives in you WHILE YOU ARE IN IT. Only after you get out can you see the rainbow and realize that God has a plan for your life and all that you went through and finally the decision to end it- was part of that. But making that decision to let go is that hardest gut wrenching thing you can go through. IMHO- the best way to approach your friend is encouraging her to " take care of herself and her kids" . Vengeance on either side creates confusion because your heart still wants to protect that other person . Listen. Empower. Equip. and wait... :) It will only come when she has had enough. As for your friends - I didnt have any like that just remember that they must not understand... at all. They dont see the whole picture like you do. Pray for them. Or.. maybe they will read your blog . :) Wendy, I appreciate your passion.

Arato Girl said...

It is incredibly irresponsible to encourage someone to stay with an abuser. Praying that she knows it's okay to leave him if he doesn't leave her.

Shirley said...

I would also recommend a book entitled "Why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men" by Lundy Bancroft. Keep in mind that it is from a secular psychologist, but it is eye-opening stuff.

Living Creatively said...

Sara- thank you for the prayers.

Debbie- well, subtleness isn't my strong suit. When I feel strongly about protecting a friend, I forgo caution and tippy toeing around the issue.It's the waiting game that I dislike. I've beeen waiting for a change in her life for a LONG time.

Ames, I agree. But this friend doesn't.

Shirley, I will suggest the book. Thank you.

Just so you all know, this friend is aware of my post. I wouldn't write about someone without their knowledge and permission.

Anonymous said...

I have been there done that! I've had the husband who said he wasn't coming home he didn't want to deal with all the "stuff" meaning responsibility. He left and I waited YEARS for him to pull himself together and he never did. I filed for divorce the hard way because he was nowhere to be found. I have remarried and am as happy as can be. I'm praying for her and the children.

Anonymous said...

I have been there done that! I've had the husband who said he wasn't coming home he didn't want to deal with all the "stuff" meaning responsibility. He left and I waited YEARS for him to pull himself together and he never did. I filed for divorce the hard way because he was nowhere to be found. I have remarried and am as happy as can be. I'm praying for her and the children.

Shanda said...

Praying peace and wisdom for all involved.

The main thing is for her to seek God's face. I have several solid Godly freinds who have been through divorce. God has delivered and redeemed them through the process, but it has only been when they humbled themselves before the Lord and sought His will and deliverance that true peace was found.

This isn't one of those things we can choose for another...as much as we may want to. (Unless an intervention needs to be made for protection.) But we can stand with them in prayer asking God to protect, provide, redeem or deliver them and we can be a place where they can be real without judgement.

The most beautiful things often take time...

I always appreciate your "upfront-ness." :)

Just what are those Woods up to? said...

How can anyone miss that--it's right there in the bible. If he wants to leave her, no one should be encouraging her to hang on to such a hurtful, neglectful, and abusive man!