Skip to comments.Does God Expect Me to Stay Married to a Jerk?
Posted on 09/22/2009 7:29:33 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Years ago, a family therapist was asked, What are the top three causes of divorce? to which he replied, Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness! Of course this is an oversimplification of the varied and many contributing factors to divorce but there is an element of truth in this statement that permeates each.
At the core of all that ails the human race is selfishness: this innate love of self-self-worship-or pride. We alienate ourselves from one another when we elevate our desires, our opinions, and our feelings above others. We cheat and steal because we want, we lie and deceive because we give priority to our self-interests, we murder-in actuality or with words-because our puny sense of supremacy is threatened. This is the very sin that separates us from God: our love of self over and against the Father. In short, we are deplorably selfish beings consumed with satisfying our own appetites and desires, often without regard for anyone else.
This is the dreadful state in which the Lord finds us-and despite our active resistance to his rightful rule in our hearts, our thoughts, and actions, he lovingly subdues our rebellious pride with his grace and mercy. He saves us from eternal alienation that our stubborn resistance brings! The old man, so infatuated with himself, is crucified and buried with Christ; we are raised to a new life in Christ (see Romans 6:4). However, this new life doesnt just happen. Our will, which was once in bondage to sin, has been freed to pursue godliness in obedience to Christ through faith. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, tells us that we are to be taught to cast away our old self and to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:2224, NIV). C. S. Lewis summed it up in saying, To become new men means losing what we now call ourselves (Mere Christianity).
The clearest clue to what this new self looks like is given in Pauls letter to the Philippians when he writes, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:57, NIV). This is a radical departure from our selfish nature into one that denies self even in the face of offense. This same nature is, of course, the foundation for marriage-but also all relationships.
In Ephesians, Paul lays out the foundation of marriage as being rooted in a mutual love and submission, Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord and Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22, 25, NIV). Notice also that Paul begins this chapter with the charge to Be imitators of God, another reference to the disposition described in Philippians chapter two. Later in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares this joining of two people into one flesh to that of Christ and his bride, the church (see Ephesians 5:32). Thus marriage-this profound mystery, according to Paul-transcends anything resembling a mere contractual obligation. Nor is marriage simply a self-serving means to personal happiness; Christian couples should strive for and display this self-denying disposition.
Another aspect that should govern Christian marriage is the doctrine of Gods sovereignty.
Do we believe that when we suffer, we suffer outside the will of God, or do we believe that God allows suffering to enter our lives for his good purpose? Isnt there the expectation that we, too, will share in the sufferings of Christ, that we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22, NKJV)? While we do not eagerly seek to suffer, dont we believe that suffering bears sweet fruit nourished by bitter tears and that such fruit is nothing less than holy character (see Romans 5:24)? If we believe that God in his providence causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose(Romans 8:28, NLT), then wouldnt it be reasonable to conclude that such suffering may also come in the form of a troubled marriage?
That being the case, wouldnt we be expected to persevere rather than seek escape, trusting God for both endurance and the outcome? It is here-in the domain of our so-called domestic happiness-that we may be tempted to draw a boundary, saying, in essence, Lord, you may come this far but no farther. It is often in this context that the old self returns in an effort to assert his rights: I need, I want, I deserve! However, the Christian is compelled to lay down these rights and instead trust in God, believing that his grace is indeed sufficient in all things including an oppressive and loveless marriage. It is here that the Christian patiently endures, trusting the Lord for the grace to do so, and hopes for a future where God may be pleased to set things right.
Please do not think I am suggesting that the person suffering physical abuse remain in a situation whereby he or she is subjected to physical harm. I am not! However, that is a topic for another time, as I am presently addressing divorce for no other reason than the failure to achieve personal happiness. This is where we Christians either begin to differ from the world or remain worldly. The Christian life does not culminate in a quest to be happy but to be holy!
If our attitude is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus, then consider how Jesus responds to his frequently unfaithful bride, the church. Every one of us has, at some point, been unfaithful to Christ; we have wantonly rebelled against him, we have been indifferent, even abusive in our disregard toward him. We have all failed to love him at times and we constantly put our needs ahead of his. And yet Jesus never says to us, Thats it, Ive had it! I will not take this abuse anymore; you are selfish and uncaring; you dont love me or make me feel special, so I am out of here! Can you imagine these words coming out of the Saviors mouth? Never!
So it is to be with us. For those poor souls who walk in darkness, there is no chance of assuming the self-denying character of Christ; but for those whom Christ has made alive, there is the all-sufficient well of grace. It is to Christ that the Christ-follower must go with his irreconcilable differences, not to the courts. It is only Christ who reconciles the unrighteous with the righteous and it is Christ that can reconcile husband and wife.
The question for the church is this: Will we truly trust him in all things, including while we suffer marital maelstroms? Will we follow Christ when it is most difficult? If we wont, then not only will we fail in our witness, we will never know the freedom of living by faith. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
S. Michael Craven is the President of the Center for Christ & Culture. Michael is the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity (Navpress). Michael's ministry is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, visit: www.battlefortruth.org. Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.
My wife and I have both changed and for the better. We hit speed bumps now and then but we knew what we were both committing to when we received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
Don't get married six months after meeting that person.
I knew my wife socially for 11 years before we started dating. I knew what kind of person she was.
Keeping kids in a bad situation with a parent who is emotionally unable to be a good parent for whatever reason, is harmful to the kids. Take the kids out of the situation, help them to understand that it is not their fault, and help them to understand the reason(s)their parent is sick. Then help them to acquire the tools they need to have so they can have a "relationship" with the sick parent without getting harmed.
God divorced Israel for cheating on Him with other gods. Jeremiah ch. 3.
I would tell you the verse, but it is better that you read the chapter.
Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds.
I hate to say it depends, but it does. If she is a true psycho-bitch, then divorce and take the kids with you. Protect the kids.
In my son’s case, he married a woman who, within a month, was physically attacking him with anything she could grab several times a week. On the nights she didn’t assault him, she would scream obscenities for hours.
And yes, she claimed that if they had kids, it would get better, and no, she didn’t need any counseling.
I told him to run - but as it turned out, she filed for divorce a few months later.
I see two questions being asked on this post. First is an epistemological question: can I know God’s will? The second question is more axiological, namely, how does that knowledge affect my relationship with a “jerk”? Although God not not revealed everything about Himself, that does not mean that I can’t know something about God. God has revealed what he wants us to know about Him through the Scriptures. If we don’t accept the Scriptures as being our epistemological authority, then we are left to our own imagination and/or superstition. We know that Scripture teaches that marriage is to be a life long monogamous heterosexual union. Anything short of that is contrary to God’s will. Divorce is the result of sin or the hardness of our hearts. Because of sin, God allowed the state (civil law) to issue a divorce for two reasons: adultery and desertion. Before you get married, keep your eyes wide open, and after you get married keep them half shut. People get married for the wrong reasons, and they all too often fail to understand what it means to be married. The person that you married was a jerk before you got married, so what did you expect?
It is hard to take them out of the situation when they are young, primarily because of divorce lawyers. Take advantage of every moment you have with them and build their self esteem and strengthen your bond with them. As time goes on, they will understand. They say in Alanon, do the best you can and turn the results over to God. If they believe in themselves and they trust you, you are doing all you can.
I have an older one (23) that I can't take out of the situation. I trust that she will figure it out. She has my blood running through her veins.
Selfishness is not the cause of divorce.
What a wonderful response!
Selfishness is the cause of ALL sin.
My ex-husband, too. His mom just spent a couple of weeks with him and was sneaking around on the phone to tell me what a mean person he was. I said, “You don’t have to tell me- I was with him for 8 years!” Meaner than a snake, and I say that with all apologies to the reptiles out there.
I thought my husband was “the bee’s knees” back when I married him many years ago, but now I KNOW he is a good man. You all make me want to run in and give him a hug and a kiss, which I think I will do - some people maybe choose to vent their disappointments with their comments on this topic, while others reading this thread realize again just how wonderful life is and that Obama or no Obama, love in the home is wealth enough.
Indeed, one of the biggest reasons the Lord YHVH sent us His Word was to let us know what is His will, and what is not His will.
We know the will of God when we know the scriptures.
No, that’s not so at all.
Pride is the source of all sin, and pride and selfishness go hand-in-hand.
I doubt the effectiveness of counseling.
It's just some words.
That depends on the person hearing them (and giving them). In many cases, one person WANTS to destroy the other - so counseling won’t do any good.