Question:

Hi,

I have been in a relationship with my now husband over five years. About a year into the relation we moved in together. A few months later he proposed and sent his family to my family to ask for my hand in marriage as according to our culture. I accepted but nothing has ever been finalized between the two families. During our stay together, I left to go work in another country for a few months and came home every month. The last time I came home, I found my husband had turned our home into a brothel. He and his friends would bring in different girls every day and night. My heart sank but I still stayed with him and quit my job. I became pregnant that year and a few months later, we had a traditional wedding, and I was then called his wife.

I went back to my mother's house near the end of my pregnancy to await the birth of my daughter who was born a month later. I stayed with my mother as per tradition another six months until I stopped breast feeding the child. I then went back to my house. I found out that my husband had been living with another girl the entire time I was away. This broke my trust in the marriage and tore me apart. However I reminded myself of the scripture to "forgive them all their trespasses and so shall the Lord forgive you". My heart bled every day but I forced myself to forgive him. He has not been treating me well since, and I cry most days. He continued with his adultery and I continued to pray for him to change. It almost seemed to work until I started talking to one of his friends.

I needed someone to perhaps talk to him to show him why he has to change, but I slowly began falling in love with his friend. As a result, I committed adultery myself. My husband found out and publicly pulled me across the street of our village telling everyone we met that I was an adulteress and with whom I had been having an affair. He told people from the church we attended, friends, family and everyone who was willing to listen. He beat me up badly, he chocked me and every time I felt near to giving up breathing altogether, he would let air in and choke me again. I had bruises all over my body and he shaved my hair off while sitting on my chest and arms.

I probably deserved all this for being unfaithful. But a month after we separated both our families sat us down and said for the sake of our daughter that I should go back to my house and be his wife again. My heart is so cold now toward him. It is almost a week now since I moved back and he still sleeps with me and tries to be nice, but I cannot help having nightmares about him killing me or him taking my daughter away from me. I keep on praying to God to help me forgive him, but I don't know where to begin.  I do not think I still love him anymore but every time I feel like leaving him, the same scripture of forgiveness comes to me, but one that haunts me the most is the one that says God hates divorce. I have sinned against God so many times. I no longer want to anymore, but I feel like am suffocating in this so called marriage. I have come to doubt very much that this is a marriage if there was a traditional ceremony, but no church ceremony.

I do not know what to do, and yet I know I do not want to offend God anymore.

Please help me.


Answer:

You ended up in your current situation due to a long series of mistakes and sins. You committed fornication with the man you eventually married and you only actually got married because you had become pregnant. But even during this time of sinful living, you saw that the man you were sleeping with was also having sex with other women. Instead of heeding the warnings, you continued to have sex with him and ended up pregnant.

After your marriage, you again had ample evidence that your husband was committing adultery. Nowhere do you mention that he repented of any of these sins; yet, you decided you needed to forgive him anyway. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). There was no effort made to get him to change. Instead, your actions gave approval to his infidelity.

You then sought comfort, not from other women, but from a man who then seduced you and you committed adultery with him. Your husband shows his hypocrisy by publicly denouncing you for doing what he himself had done repeatedly. What you did was wrong. However, what he did was very wrong.

You should have never married this man. You could have divorced him when he repeatedly committed adultery. "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). Yes, God hates divorce because it is sin (violence) that leads people to divorce their spouse. If you had divorced your husband, it would have been because of his sins.

But now you made a deep mess by also committing the same sin. Your husband has chosen not to divorce you. You don't mention whether he is still committing adultery, but I would suspect that he is. People like that don't often change. When you find out that his adultery continues, you can divorce him, but you yourself must remain faithful to the marriage until that time. If he becomes violent again, leave. There is no requirement that a wife must stay and be beaten by her husband. If he changes and asks for your forgiveness, then you can decide whether to return, but I strongly suggest that you find out first whether he is committing adultery or not before moving back in with him.

Hi Jeffrey,

I cannot begin to thank you enough for the insight you gave me. I agree that I brought this on myself, that I ignored all the signs.

People can say 'sorry,' but it is what they do that will really tell if they truly sorry. My husband has said he was sorry and acted nice but has not truly done anything to show he is sorry. I will remain faithful from now on and will no longer be sinful.

However as I mentioned, we were married in a traditional ceremony with no vows or oath. Should I then continue being in this so called marriage within its current status or should I ensure it is officiated, that is, done so before God and not based on culture as culture is a thing of man and often goes against the Supreme Will of God? What I am asking is if in my current situation I should go ahead and officially marry this guy for only so much of the ceremony has been done and I should follow through and do the rest?

The sad truth is I know I have led my life down this path for believing that because he bridged the gap I had with Christ, by introducing me to a different ministry, a different church ministry that made me feel the presence of God. I let him do so much hurt to me. I ended up sinning so much against God. Also my bad relationship with my mother, lead me to run to him and not fix things with my mother and so even when he did hurtful things, I accepted it all. After my father died, I refused to deal with that reality and sought to find that same love and affection I got from my father in my husband -- another reason I stayed and accepted his beatings and affairs. Also knowing how much his mother abused him and damaged him emotionally as a child made me feel sorry for him and made me want to stay with him and be a shoulder to cry on for him. I guess I failed at that too.

I want to do right by God as best as I can, so please assist me.

From what I understood, traditional ceremonies do involve vows of commitment to the other person. If there were none, then this would not be a marriage covenant. Christianity recognizes marriages done in other religions or cultures. The marriage becomes sanctified when one partner becomes a Christian. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy" (I Corinthians 7:14). Since I don't know the details of your marriage traditions, I can't say whether it was legitimate or not. I suspect, however, that it is recognized by your government as an official wedding. Whether you have another wedding ceremony is up to you.

Dear Jeffery,

Again thank you for your time in getting back to me.

When you say Christianity recognizes marriages done in other religions or cultures, are you then implying that, as a Christian, whether this culture was against the Will of God or not, just because I am a Christian and recognized by government as an official wedding that it is legitimate? Let me explain more.

In the Basotho culture, a man can "kidnap" a girl and take her to his village and tell his father he has found a bride. Back in the day the condition of this kidnap were very harsh, if a girl refused, she would be raped by this man and possibly others that accompanied him and this would bring shame unto the girl and fear of not returing back home as she no longer is a virgin. Nowadays, it is not as harsh. However when the family of the man receives the news, they often took the girl in and let her sleep in a separate room from the man. Early in the morning hours, the groom's father would go sleep with the girl to see whether or not the girl is still a virgin, unless the boy had told him he had sex with her before. This testing would reveal whether the girl is loose or a worthy cost. If during the sleeping with the groom's father the girl bled, then she was fit to be a wife and a bride price is paid to her family. But if she did not bleed, she was regarded unworthy and send home denouced and made a ridicule by the village.

If all was well, a message would be send to the family of the girl and they were told where to look for their daughter. A messenger would be smeared with rich beef fat from the animal that was slaughtered in honor of this good news and once he gets home with this look, the wedding ceremony would proceed. A sheep would be slaughtered and the girl would be given semi-cooked ribs. Once she eats these ribs, that is to say she agrees to the marriage. Then festivities would begin. That symbol of eating I guess meant taking a vow or an oath although a good lot of these girls knew if they disagreed, they would bring shame on their families as this was an expectation from every girl's family; whether she liked it or not.

If it is not a kidnap version, then a man would tell him father he has caught interest in a certain girl from a certain family and wants to marry her. Once agreed with his family that such a girl and family is worthy to marry into, then the family of the man would go ask for the girl's hand in marriage from the parents of the girl. All the girl was ever asked during such times was whether or not, she knew that particular guy. If she said yes, that was an aswer that the parents and elders used as her response to wanting to get married to the guy. Often a lot of our ancestors were either kidnapped and raped, and, hence, forced into marriage or forced into marriage by mere assumption.

I, however, do not know the exact scripture that, the coming of Christ did away with the cultures that were created by man who simply came from dust. Instead, he ensured us that the generation of Christ follow in the ways that the Lord has ordained. I know then that from this notion that God does not want the shedding of blood that is in our culture that we do as an offering to the "gods" to bless a marriage and ancestors to recognize the newly eds as one, and the new bride as part of the family and their children also. I believe this has a lot of generational curses it carries with it. I still live to regret that I let them perform a traditional ceremony on my daughter where again they slaughtered a sheep, made an offering to the ancestors as a way to accept the child into this family.

Can I pray to God to cleanse my family from all these curses that I may have placed my daughter and my family in general under? And this marriage really bothers me because I badly feel the need to stay in this marriage only if it is accepted by God and for no other reason, even though I have stayed for so many wrong reasons before. Please pray for clarity and let God use you to show me the way.

I truly am waiting to hear from you. I need a break through, I honestly do.

I would suppect that words are spoken regarding the fact that when a woman does certain actions that this constitutes her acceptance of a marriage. You admit that you understood that your acceptance of these customs was a marriage ceremony. While it is not the way Christians would perform a marriage, it would still constitute a legitimate marriage for someone coming into Christianity from a pagan religion. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy" (I Corinthains 7:14).

For a Chrisitian married to a non-Christian, they are to remain married. "If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him" (I Corinthians 7:12-13). If the non-Christian refuses to live with the Christian, the Christian is not obligated to leave Christianity just to keep the marriage. "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" (I Corinthians 7:15). This does not give the Christian the right to marry another person. It is just permission to allow the marriage to the non-Christian to end if the non-Christian leaves the marriage.