Are You In A Survival Situation?
By Leslie Vernick
If you were forced to choose between food and shelter, what would you choose? Which one is more important? Obviously, they’re both pretty important. But, if you were in a survival situation and had to wait for rescue, would food or shelter be your priority?
The answer would probably depend on your location. If you’re in Antarctica, shelter would be your first thought. If temperatures are mild, your stomach might be the loudest need.
As a woman in a destructive marriage, you ARE in a survival situation. And deciding what takes priority can be incredibly confusing. So many things are really important: children, financial considerations, doing “God’s will,” and trying to not lose your sanity in the process.
Unfortunately, many Christian leaders get the priorities mixed up. Quoting a few select verses, they counsel women that, because God hates divorce, His will is for you to stay - no matter what. Or, you’re just supposed to forgive and forget. No matter what.
Let me be blunt: that’s ridiculous. And it isn’t what the Bible teaches.
Jesus always confronted those who cared more about rules than people. He consistently challenged the Pharisees for being hypocrites and missing the point when it came to religion (Luke 11:37-54)
Jesus was willing to break the “rules” when a situation warranted it. And, often, it had to do with safety. For example, God told Joseph to flee with baby Jesus and not respect the king’s authority. Why? Because the king wanted to kill Jesus. (Matthew 2:13-15)
God also told David to flee and not submit to the King when Saul was seeking to kill him. 1 Samuel 18-31
God commended Rahab for hiding two Jewish spies and lying to the King’s men about it so that they would be safe.
These are just a few instances in the Bible where God shows he’s more concerned about safety than a legalistic adherence to rules.
So, when we’re thinking of priorities...how to make decisions about your destructive marriage… first and foremost is safety.
Are you in danger physically? Has your husband ever put his hands on you in anger? Has he thrown things? Damaged the house? If so, you’re not safe.
Are you in danger emotionally? Are you regularly belittled and demeaned? Does your husband say you’re not good enough, pretty enough, spiritual enough? Does he withhold affection when you don’t meet his standards? Does he give you the silent treatment for long periods of time when he’s angry? If so, you’re not safe.
Are you in danger sexually? Does your husband force or coerce you to be intimate with him regardless of how you feel? Does he expect you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable in order to please him? Has he been sexually involved with prostitutes or other people? If so, you’re not safe.
Are you in danger financially? Do you have access to all of the money being earned? Or are there certain accounts which are “off limits” to you? Do you know what where your husband is spending money? Are you aware of your financial situation...debts versus income? Or are you left in the dark, forced to blindly trust? Are you given an allowance while he gets to spend whatever he wants, whenever he wants? If so, you are not safe.
Marriage IS important. Sacred. And God hates the pain of divorce.
But friend, God does care about you and your safety. And I believe it is okay with God if you pursue you and your children’s safety rather than continuing to be harmed in an abusive marriage.