I am in need of some spiritual advice. I have been married for almost 20 years, and am now in my third round of marriage counselling. I keep hearing, the very point being forcefully made, from various ministries, about how wrong divorce is and that I cannot even think it. Yet I live in turmoil, and have made so much effort, and even the counsellors I have seen seem to think it best if I confront reality. If I divorce, do I lose my salvation? If I divorce, will I lose any further opportunity to serve the Lord? If I divorce will the Lord forgive me? Is it ever ok for me to have needs or wants, knowing that I must put God first in all things, and then my spouse's needs and wants above my own? Can I ever find happiness again, living with the knowledge that the Lord hates divorce, and that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Should I, therefore prepare, however I may, to either go through life unloved, untouched, and in constant turmoil as my cross to bear, or for eternal separation from God and the fires of hell? I appreciate your help as I search for answers and grace.
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).
You are approaching happiness as something that is given to you by having everything you want. But happiness comes by accepting and enjoying what you have. It is never bargained for by saying "if I only had ..., then I'll be happy."
The reason God hates divorce is because you are breaking your vows. Notice how you are acting just like the Israelites. "And this is the second thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."" (Malachi 2:13-16).
Paul states, "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). The proper thing is to remain with your wife. If you insist on leaving, then you must do so knowing that you can't remarry another person. The only exception ever given is if you are divorcing your wife because she had a sexual relationship with someone else (Matthew 19:9).
Salvation is lost when a person sins and remains unrepentant (unchanged). If you insist on violating God's commands, then there is no reason for God to rescue you from your sins since you prefer to wallow in them.
So, the reality is that it's all about the Law. Whatever happened to compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace? What about the 19 years of my tears on the altar of the Lord to help my marriage, to strengthen our bonds, to make us into the couple we should be? What about my efforts through marriage counselling, now in my third go-round in 19 years - and she has refused to go? What about her infidelty by refusing intimacy, ending sexual relations, and placing all and everything else above our marriage? Who has broken their vows? Paul also said, "let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" 1 Corinthians 7:9, so what happens when you marry and still burn? Not just for passion, but for companionship, intimacy and love? What of "I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries" Jeremiah 3:8 Obviously the Lord is not speaking of actual adultery here, but adultery in the sense of abandonment by Israel as she pursued other gods.
The Law is God's instruction to us and it is by that very Law you cry against that you seek to justify abandoning your marriage. Though your situation is sorrowful, it remains that you selected your wife. I have no idea what has gone on over the years that has led to your current situation. I only have your side of the story and despite all that you have said you have only indicated that you want out because you aren't happy.
Let me put it clearly, if your wife isn't having sex with you because she doesn't want to, then she is sinning as per I Corinthians 7:2-5. However, a sin is not remedied by additional sins. This situation is not fixed by breaking your marriage vows. You called her behavior "infidelity," but it is not. What you are doing is seeking a way to justify abandoning her, even if that means twisting definitions to match your situation.
In Jeremiah 3:8, God is speaking of adultery on a spiritual plane. Israel didn't stop worshiping God. She had pursued many other gods and worshiped them along with the one true God. That is why God compared it to adultery. They had broke their covenant with God by worshiping other gods.
You ask what ever happened to compassion, mercy, and grace? I could ask that of you as well. Where is your compassion for your wife? Where is your mercy and grace for her poor behavior?
More importantly, why are you not following the command of God? "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (Ephesians 5:28-29). God never said to give love when you feel like it. Love isn't based on feelings. It is something we are commanded to give.
Thank you for your prompt and scriptural responses to my concerns, and for holding up God's Law. You've made it clear where you stand, to the mint, dill and cummin. I will continue to seek God's will on a daily basis.
I must assume you are being satirical since you acknowledge that my response is according to God's law, but since it isn't what you want you are going to "continue to seek." You make it very clear that you are not interested in God's desire, just your own.
It is interesting that you refer to mint, dill, and cummin. I'm sure you were trying to say I should not be so precise about the law and tell you want you want to hear. But do you really know the verse says? "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23). Jesus did not say that tithing spices was wrong. He said, "These you ought to have done." The problem was that the Pharisees were so focused on the small details, that they neglected the big picture. It is not that the big picture was contrary to the details, but that it has a broader scope.
God's laws are consistent. You can't play one law off against another. All the laws work in harmony with each other. But you are looking for a loophole. You know what the law of Christ says. You know that you are breaking your vows to your wife. You know that you are violating God's commands to love your wife. But none of that matters. You continue to search for some hole that will let you do as you please and have deceived yourself that God will be pleased with you if you find one. How utterly sad!