Where is God in My Destructive Marriage?
By Leslie Vernick
Anyone who grew up in church learned the song, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.” And, how do we know? As the song says, “The Bible Tells Me So.”
Then you grow up and learn that’s not all the Bible says. In fact, that same Bible also says God hates. We’re taught he hates things like divorce (Malachi 2:4). Not a big deal … unless you happened to grow up and marry an emotionally abusive man.
So what do you do with that? How do you reconcile this “God who loves me” with, according to many church leaders and counselors, a God who seems to care more about the sanctity of my marriage than my personal (or my children’s) safety or sanity?
To stay on God’s good side they often counsel women to:
“Try to stop pushing his buttons.”
“Try harder to make him happy.”“Respect and submit to him. He’s the head of the home.”
And, of course, “If he hasn’t cheated you have no grounds for divorce.”
Friend, please understand that the majority of people handing out this advice are well-meaning and truly believe they are offering godly counsel. But I believe they are wrong.
Anyone can cherry-pick a verse and make theology. But, to properly interpret the Bible, one needs to look at the whole counsel of God and know the heart of God. It’s important to see who God is and how he has handled situations similar to the one you’re in.
Please know you have a God who knows how you feel. God knew grief when Adam and Eve sinned…to the point where He actually regretted creating mankind (like you may regret marrying your partner). He gave them everything and it wasn’t enough. They wanted even more. (Genesis 6:5-6)
Then there’s the Jews…a nation God invited to be his chosen people. They were in a covenant relationship. But, instead of being faithful, Israel broke their covenant. They were unfaithful and indifferent. And, God’s heart was broken once again.” (Luke 13:34).
You have a safe place to pour your heart out. You have a God who understands and cares about the anguish you feel.
Please know that God hates what’s happening in your marriage.
A lot of pastors and Christian counselors want women (or men) in destructive marriages to play a dangerous game of lie and pretend. Only a sexual affair is seen as Biblical justification for breaking marital vows. For every other sin (explosive anger, pornography, indifference, financial deceit, etc.,) the burden is on the injured spouse to perpetually forgive and endure the abuse.
God is not asking you to pretend or to lie to cover up evil. You don’t have to act like you have a great marriage when you don’t. It’s okay to acknowledge that your husband’s sin has seriously damaged your marriage. That trust is broken. That you don’t feel safe, or loved, or valued.
There are so many examples of this in Scripture. In Genesis alone, there’s Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brothers, Rebekah and Isaac, Laban and Jacob. God didn’t hide the hideous sin in these relationships and the damage it caused. (Genesis chapters 4, 24, 29, 37)
The infamous Malachi 2 passage that is so often quoted as “God hates divorce,” is actually saying that God hates when a husband is treacherous and unfaithful to his wife. Hates it. He hates when you are being treated with cruelty and indifference. He hates it when you’re struggling financially because of your husband’s sin. He sees your situation and he hates it. (He doesn’t hate your husband but his sin and the hardness of his heart.)
Please know that God Values Your Safety and Sanity
Too many Christians (and even pastors) expect women to stay in a relationship where they are not safe. But that’s not the example we see in the Bible. God cared about the safety of his people. God told Joseph to flee the King (Matthew 2:13-15), David fled from King Saul, God commended Rahab for hiding Jewish spies and lying to the soldiers about it (Hebrews 11:31). Jesus confronted the Pharisees about Sabbath rules, saying it was right to rescue a child or even an ox on the Sabbath … that their safety and well-being was more important that “rest.” (John 7:1, Luke 14:5)
Proverbs 27:12 reminds us, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.”
Therefore, if you’re in danger, do what it takes to get safe! Be confident that is God’s will. That includes physical safety as well as your sanity. If you’re at the end of your rope, tell someone. Get help. Don’t lie and pretend all is well when it is toxic and/or dangerous. God does not care more about the sanctity of marriage than you and your children’s safety and sanity.
Hey it’s not too late to sign up for our free training called (4) Lies That Make Women In Destructive Relationships Feel Crazy and Powerless. It’s today at 12 PM Eastern or 7:30 PM Eastern. Click here to sign up.