Good afternoon friends,
Pray for me as I feel I’m on a bit of overload. I am dedicating this weekend to try to sort things out and clean up my office “piles”. Pray that I am able gain my own clarity on using my time well and not neglecting good self-care.
Today’s Question: I have spoken in depth to my leaders about your book. They just really won't address the issue of emotional, financial, or verbal abuse. I was asked if I think my situation is worse than Sarah in the Bible and what Abraham did to her!
Yet there was a speaker at our Biblical counseling conference that spoke on the very topic and recommended your book! I am wondering what you think about divorce?
As I read your blog and comments from other women some have been separated for many years. How do you go on with life? I am not entering this lightly. I have been taught the only grounds for divorce are infidelity, abandonment, and if the unbelieving spouse walks away from the marriage.
I just don't know how to keep going on like this. My husband won't work. He threatens me with divorce and then comes back and says he didn't mean it.
There is so much like this that has gone on for many years. My children are very stressed. I just want to be right in Gods eyes. I fear losing his blessing if I go the route of divorce. Would that be consequences for me?
Answer: As I read your letter I feel heartsick. Heartsick for your turmoil and grief. Heartsick for the blindness of your leaders who God has given the charge to protect the flock, yet remain blind to how they enable bullies to bully or fools to continue their foolishness because they refuse to support wives who want to implement consequences for destructive behaviors.
Let’s look more closely at the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham threw Sarah under the bus twice because of his own selfishness and fears. Read Genesis 12 and Genesis 20 for the stories.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
What is the lesson here in these stories? Why did God put them in the Bible?
The lesson most Christian’s take from this story is to emphasize Sarah’s submissiveness. Peter did that when he wrote about her in 1 Peter 3:6. But Peter also went on to warn husband’s to live with their wives in an understanding way, showing honor to her since she is an equal or joint heir with him before God.
However, the error Christians make is that they extrapolate from Sarah’s example that a wife who is being mistreated should simply submit to her husband’s foolishness regardless of what it costs her. The underlying belief here is that if she is to be protected, God will protect her like he did Sarah.
But this is short sighted theology and not in line with the whole counsel of God. First, let’s look at the context of the story: Abraham and Sarah were nomads. They had no family nearby or “church” community to provide accountability or protection. They lived in a very patriarchal culture where women had little choice and few rights.
When Abraham told Sarah to lie and say she was his sister, God was Sarah’s only protection. She had no one to call, no one to turn to and therefore God Himself stepped in to protect her from Abraham’s foolishness and selfishness, not only once, but twice. Although Abraham was a man chosen by God, he still was a sinner and was selfish and unloving towards his wife.
As believers, God calls us to be His ambassadors. We are to be imitators of God. The Church is called represent Him and His character to a hurting and broken world (however imperfectly we may live it out).
Therefore, if we are going to be “like God” and represent His character, what is the Church’s responsibility individually and corporately toward those who are mistreated, oppressed, or taken advantage of by someone else’s abusive, foolish, and selfish behaviors? Is it to be passive? To turn a blind eye? To keep silent and by our silence empower the bully or fool to think his or her behaviors are not all that bad or wrong or harmful?
Or, was God giving us an example for us to follow by rescuing Sarah out of Abraham’s foolish decision. Was he saying that He cares about the spouse who has to live out the painful consequences of their spouse’s poor choices and that we are to do likewise as examples of His character and His heart?
The Bible says we are to “Open our mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open our mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8,9.
I could quote verse after verse about how God hates injustice, oppression, revilers, pride, liars, and those who misuse their authority to hurt others. Why is it that the church only thinks God hates divorce? Why is it that they would rather support revilers, liars, the oppressor and the proud just to keep a marriage together when the spouse (although not sinless) is screaming for help from those who are supposed to represent the heart of God and provide protection?
You say your church teaches that the only grounds for divorce are infidelity, abandonment and being an unbeliever who wants to leave. From what you describe, I think you have been abandoned. You are not being loved or cherished or taken care of or supported or protected. He may have not left the home, but he has left the marriage.
God cares about you and your children. I will say it again. I believe God cares every bit as much about your safety and sanity than He does the sanctity of the marriage. He cared about Sarah’s safety and He cares about yours.