Is it right for my wife to live apart without divorcing me?


I was reading your article regarding if divorce is a sin. I have been studying this and other areas of sin and forgiveness, and I have a question to present. I have a personal interest in this topic as my Christian wife has left (abandoned) our marriage union and refuses living together several times over the last few years.  Though neither have followed through with a divorce, she still chooses not to commit to our marriage or live together, due to personal issues which she refuses to surrender to God!

Now, there hasn't been any physical adultery, nor any intent to remarry, but she has still disobeyed Christ's command to never leave our spouse.  Is departing or putting away the same sin as a divorce, which in both cases really abandons a marriage union?  I was going to initiate the divorce last month based on I Corinthains 7:15, where Paul says let them go, we are no longer under bondage when a marriage is abandoned.  I changed my mind and told her that since SHE was the one to end the marriage union, SHE can be the one to follow through and bear the final blow, but she refused when the ball was put in her court.  She obviously doesn't want to bear the consequences of the sin, but yet has committed a terrible sin by deserting the marriage with no intent to reconcile.  She feels that if she remains single she will be covered by grace and still see heaven, according to I Corinthians 7:11 that says not to depart, but if we do, remain single or be reconciled.

You mentioned the difference between a single sin that we repent and stop, and continuous sin that we confess, but then continue on living in.  Yet the Bible says there is no sin to great that He won't forgive?  What about if she does remarry, would she be living in adultery, and would God forgive her if she some day felt remorse and confessed, but still remained in the new marriage?


I can only speak in generalities since I do not know you, your wife, or the reason for the separation. I would conclude that your wife feels she has good reason for leaving you and I must assume that the reason she has not reconciled is because the cause for separation has not be resolved. The way you have written you note leaves me with the impression that you don't think you have done anything wrong and there is nothing for you to correct. While you have presented the issue as simply one of whether you are living in the same home, I strongly suspect that this is just the surface of much deeper problems.

The reason God hates divorce is straightforward. Divorce implies that sin is occurring in a marriage. "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).

When two Christians are involved in a marriage, one would hope that they would tackle the problem of sin and resolve the issues raised by it. Unfortunately it doesn't always happen. "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 general rule is that married couples are not to get a divorce. But when sin is left unresolved, then there is allowance for leaving until the issue is resolved. The leaving does not give permission for remarriage. And yes, Paul is talking about divorce since he stated that the departing wife is to remain unmarried. The ultimate goal is reconciliation, but that implies that changes are made to resolve the problems which caused the separation.

The instructions in I Corinthians 7:15, "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace," covers the case where a Christian is married to a non-Christian, someone who has no desire to follow God's law. If the non-Christian leaves, the Christian is not under obligation to make themselves a slave to the non-Christian. There is no implication that remarriage is allowed. It just means that the a Christian doesn't need to feel an obligation to force the marriage to work with someone who has no desire to remain in the marriage.

The only condition where God allows a person to remarry is when the other spouse committed some form of sexual immorality and that was the cause of the divorce. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). That the innocent party can remarry is implied in the way the Lord phrased that the guilty party cannot remarry.

If a person divorces and remarries anyway, they would have to leave the adulterous marriage to be forgiven. Jesus states that when a person who remarries without a right to do so, they are in the state of being in adultery. It is not a one time sin, but an ongoing one. The sin would have to first cease. Else there is no repentance because repentance means a complete change in behavior. Simply feeling sorry or guilty is not repentance. It is the attitude that leads toward repentance. "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (II Corinthians 7:9-10).

What I would recommend is that you talk to your wife where you actually listen and find out what it is that you are doing wrong. Where she is correct, make changes in your life so that your wife will want to live with you. This idea of pushing each other to see who will file for divorce first or who will commit sexual sins first is silly and unproductive.