Do I dishonor God if I initiate a legal separation because of my husband’s refusal to take his medication?

Question: I am a stay at home mom of two young children. I have been married for over 12 years to a spouse who developed late onset schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. He claims to be healed and he no longer will take his medication. He says he feels great and is no longer plagued with condemning thoughts but from my observations all the rest of the symptoms of the disorders are still very much present.

He continually lies, breaks his word, conceals the truth, and quick to walk all over me when I say no to things I believe are negative or dangerous to or household. I’ve tried to talk with him, to plead, beg, set boundaries and implement consequences for financial decisions that have put us in debt and at risk for legal issues. At this point I’ve been advised that my only recourse is initiating a legal separation to protect us from the financial consequences that may arise if something happens to him.

I have to go back to work because he can’t pay the debt he has accumulated. He says I don’t have any faith and that I should trust him but I find that impossible because of all the lies and broken promises.

My question is am I dishonoring God or my spouse to protect myself and our household until he comes back to his senses?

Answer: It is not wrong to protect yourself from foolish or dangerous people, even if he happens to be your husband. If your husband was a diabetic and refused to take his medication because he believed he was healed, would you think you were dishonoring God or your spouse by refusing to let him drive, knowing he could fall into a diabetic coma at anytime and crash the car?

I think Christian women have been misled (or mistaught) that it is their biblical obligation to sit quietly and submissively, trusting God, even as their husband foolishly sinks the family ship or recklessly drives the family car straight off a cliff.

A biblical example of a woman who did not sit back and just trust God was Abigail. She was married to a foolish and cruel man. (See 1 Samuel 25 for the story). When he made a rash decision that put her entire family at risk, Abigail took immediate action against her husband, using the wisdom God gave her in order to save her household, (including her husband) from the wrath of David. Her quick thinking and humble spirit also greatly influenced David and helped him to not respond to her husband’s foolishness with sinful actions of his own. Abigail did trust God but she also took appropriate action.

Another woman who did not go along with her husband’s foolishness was Vashti, Queen of Persia (See Esther 1 for the story). After much partying and drinking, the king commanded his servants to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown in order to display to the peoples and the princes her beauty. Queen Vashti refused to come. She did not want to be treated as an object to be ogled by her husband’s drunken friends. However, her husband became enraged with Vashti’s decision and she lost her position as queen and ended up in prison.

This outcome in no way implies that Vashi’s decision was a wrong one, however it does indicate that even when we make right choices, we may encounter difficult consequences. If you decide to initiate a legal separation and go back to work, this creates other issues and difficulties that you will need to be prepared to face and work through.

On the other hand Sarai’s husband, Abraham, did tell her to lie and say she was his sister instead of his wife because he feared that the Pharoah would kill him in order to get Sarai as a wife. Sarai did as her husband told her to and God did intervene, protecting her by afflicting Pharoah’s household (Genesis 12:10-17) Going along with her husband’s foolishness, however, came with a price, even as God protected her marriage. Although Pharoah eventually returned Sarai her to husband, the scriptures tell us that he did take her as his wife. What was that like for Sarai? Although the Bible doesn’t say more about how that impacted her I wonder if later on Sarai didn’t trust God when she took matters into her own hands regarding her childlessness and later on with Hagar’s mistreatment of her. Maybe a root of bitterness grew in her heart as a result of her husband’s sin toward her.

Your husband has a mental illness that he needs medication at It sounds like he also has some character issues. The scriptures never instruct us to make it easy for someone to sin against us or to trust someone who isn’t trustworthy. Jesus distanced himself from certain individuals because he didn’t trust them (John 2:24).

That said, I do want to caution you. We can protect ourselves like Abigail did with a spirit of humility and submission to God, or we can do it out of fear, resentment, and /or self righteousness. You can take appropriate steps to take care of you and your children and still dishonor God in the way you do it. On the other hand, you could go along with your husband’s ideas and still seethe inside with anger, fear, or resentment. That doesn’t honor God either.

Ultimately you and your children will need to live with the consequences of your decisions. There is no easy path. Both choices have consequences and so I hope you can surround yourself with wise and godly people who will help you walk out your decision with a gentle spirit toward your husband and humility of heart.


  1. Nancy on September 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    WOW! this is the first time I have ever seen anyone defend Vashti’s choice! Usually preachers/teachers tend to look at her actions and point out that it’s her own fault she lost her position because she was unsubmissive! And Sarai is held up as the example of submission- calling her husband master. Is this the time in which she called him that? when she went along with his foolishness?
    I have mulled this question- whether to seperate from my husband who has mental illness, addictions, deceitfulness, verbal abuse issues… This blog didn’t make my decision making any easier though. I’m still not sure. My kids are nearly grown now, and I just had a double whammy today. My husband got arrested for not paying a traffic ticket and failure to appear in court. While the sherrif was here serving us papers to vacate our mobile home for nonpayment. I’m not bailing my husband out, and I sure feel mean. I wont call his family for him so they can bail him out either. Of course he railed against me when I told him I didn’t want to call for him. I ordered your book and it’s on the way. I’ve been waiting for so long to get some kind of direction here!

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