Thursday, March 24, 2011


Christians, just like the rest of the world's population, often get themselves into situations from which there appears to be no way out. We have all heard folks describe their job as "a dead-end exercise in futility." In many cases, it is because there is little or no prospect for advancement, while at the same time, their financial needs keep growing. At other times, their dissatisfaction is because of the negative attitudes of co-workers or a boss. Sometimes, it is because the work is so strenuous that it is effecting their health. If only they could find a better job, but the job market is unfavorable, and they can't afford to quit until they find another one. I have been there, and it produces a terrible feeling of being trapped.

Another area in which people feel trapped is in a "bad" marriage. We all know Christian brothers and sisters who are in marriages from which they wish they could free themselves. There are many possible reasons for unhappiness with a marriage: financial stress, lack of respect from a partner, differences of opinion on sexual frequency, differing views on child-rearing, infidelity, verbal or physical abuse, lack of communication, having no common interests, and even boredom.

Psychologically, one or a combination of reasons can cause a feeling of being hopelessly trapped. Perhaps the Christian fears the shame that accompanies divorce within the church community. Perhaps the individual has no where to go, and cannot afford to live on a single income. If there are children involved, there is pressure to maintain a two-parent environment. And unfortunately, there are those who fear bodily harm from their spouse if they try to leave. I wish I could say that a Christian would not be violent, but that is simply not the case. We are just as capable of violence as anyone else.

It is true that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). It is also true that His permission to divorce over sexual impurity was not because of the act of the one to be rejected, but because of the unforgiving mate's hardened heart (Deut. 24:1; Matt. 19:8). Before I continue, I want to "go on record" that I do not believe a Christian is ever justified in getting divorced, regardless of the grounds. That being said, I also believe a spouse has the right to leave (today, we call it "a separation"), if their partner is unwilling to live up to their financial responsibilities, if the spouse is physically abusive to them or the children, if their mate wants to prevent them from worshipping, or demands they participate in known sin.

The Bible says that a woman is not to leave her husband (1 Cor. 7:10). However, if the circumstances make it unbearable and the wife feels she must leave her husband, the very next verse says, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife" (1 Cor. 7:11). A Christian is only to separate with the hope and intention of a reconciliation. I do not believe a Christian can truly walk in the Spirit, and doubt God's ability to "fix" the marriage. After all, look at what He has done in you!

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