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.