Sometimes, what we know is true and how our spouse makes us feel collide in spectacular fashion. Make your wife angry and she’s liable to say anything. Back your husband into a corner and the marriage is in for some serious damage. Is this sinful? Yes. Is this the way mature Christians should act? No. But, it happens, doesn’t it? And, before long, doubts that were unthinkable early in your marriage begin to creep in . . .
God doesn’t want me to be unhappy. Who is this person, really? I don’t even know him/her. I think I married the wrong person.
Sometimes it can feel as if you’re living with an enemy, right in your own home.
And when you feel that way, know this for certain: You are living with the enemy. But emotions are powerful things and right now, they’re blinding you to who that enemy really is.
Too often in Christian marriages, the truth becomes collateral damage in the war of words, actions, emotions, and pain. And, that’s just the way The Destroyer wants it. He’s great at getting focus off of where it should be and onto where it shouldn’t.
Now, about that enemy you’re living with. It isn’t your wife and it isn’t your husband . . . even though you can get so angry at him/her you tilt the research in favor of global warming. The enemy you’re living with is The Destroyer, The Deceiver, The Accuser – The Father of Lies. The enemy you’re living with is Satan, himself.
If you don’t believe the Bible then such a statement is so much SciFi fantasy. Living with Satan? You’re serious? But, for believers – for those who are Christians – the Bible isn’t unclear about the nature of our struggles in this life.
Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
And if you’re struggling in your marriage right now, this is what is happening. Your real enemy isn’t your wife and it isn’t your husband. The Bible teaches that Satan and his minions are a present, active force for destruction in the life you live, and certainly, in your marriage.
This spiritual drama is playing out in your relationship. Jesus was tempted directly by Satan. For the rest of us, temptation can be more subtle, as in the life of Job where circumstances and acrimony with his wife were used by the enemy.
To get back on a proper footing with each other, it’s important to take a step away from our emotions and recognize what is actually taking place: The Liar is at work trying to destroy what matters to God. Your marriage – the one you’re in right now – matters to God.
You may be arguing with your spouse but in the midst of the acrimony, you’re wrestling “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Your spiritual foe will strive to convince you of many things:
- I married the wrong person
- I married for looks and not for love
- I didn’t really know the person
- God wants me to be happy
- He isn’t a good listener and doesn’t understand me
- She isn’t willing to meet my needs
All of which lead to . . . so, I should get a divorce.
It’s only logical, right? You’re spouse is doing or saying things that make you feel angry and unloved. Who should have to live under those conditions? God want’s better for you, doesn’t he? You should probably divorce and move on.
Except for one thing. God, in His Word, has spoken on the subject. He wasn’t subtle. He wasn’t unclear. He didn’t mince words.
The Bible has a lot to say about divorce but the book of Malachi 2:16 contains God’s succinct statement on the topic: “For I hate divorce . . .”
Divorce may be as common as tax increases but that doesn’t change what God has said. He hates it.
In the heat of the moment, your reasons for considering an end to the marriage loom large but do they trump God’s perspective on the matter? Recognize where that reasoning is coming from, i. e., not from God! Are you willing to defy God and do something He hates? Is there an alternative that would bring about the change needed (in your spouse and in you!) that would prevent going directly against God’s express will?
Countless spouses can attest to having gone through the fires of marriage strife to the very brink of divorce, but discovered that God had a wonderful relationship for them on the other side of the valley of hurt and pain that marriage can sometimes be.
Don’t believe the false reasons for divorce the Enemy casts up in the midst of your marriage’s worst moments. You may not be able to trust your spouse with your heart right now, but you can trust God with it. Don’t do the thing He hates. Trust Him. Seek godly, biblical, help and make sure the part of the marriage you are responsible for stops contributing to the challenges you’ve been having.
Will this approach make you instantly happy and solve all the problems? No. But, it places you on the path to the change God desires in you and avoids the serious mistake of doing something God says He hates.
Is there ever a time when divorce is allowed? In this day and age, it’s easy to find teachers in the Church who condone divorce for adultery – basing their teaching on Matthew 19. I should know, until very recently, I was one of them. Other than this few verses, there is no mention of God’s approval of divorce in the Bible – it doesn’t exist. What’s more, when the Matthew 19 passage is studied and understood, it becomes clear that this passage isn’t speaking of a married couple but of a couple betrothed to each other who haven’t yet consummated their marriage. Can (and should) forgiveness follow where true repentance takes place? Yes, and many have moved through the pain and degradation of unfaithfulness, following genuine repentance, to a rich, beautiful relationship.
What of the serial (you fill in the blank) unrepentant husband/wife? I can tell you that my own wife, Lisa, would never countenance such wrong, sinful behavior from me. She would separate.
If you are going through troubling times in your marriage, don’t seek a divorce. Seek God’s heart on the matter. Satan always makes what God opposes seem like a reasonable idea. You may be feeling unloved right now but our feelings can come and go, can’t they? God has made beautiful many impossible marriages. Remember the Red Sea? He specializes in the impossible.
Believe what God has said about your marriage and seek His solution, not the dissolution God’s and your enemy desires.
And after you’ve gotten back on a solid foundation, for some fresh ideas on how to love your wife in ways meaningful to her, check out my book, Marriage Wisdom for Him . . . Lisa and I wrote one for wives, as well, Marriage Wisdom for Her
God bless you as you choose His way.
** Nothing in this article should be construed as condoning, excusing, or minimizing abuse. If you are being abused, get away, get safe, and call the police.**