Are you staying in an unhealthy or even abusive marriage because you’re a Christian? Perhaps you’re struggling with the “God hates divorce” decree in the Bible. You may also be influenced by your Christian husband, pastor, or religious friends. It’s important to step back from the external noise, pressures, influences, and and voices.
Take time to talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, and clarity. Take a deep breath and know that Jesus is with you every step of the way. Remember that the more time you spend in God’s presence, the more peace you’ll have. In What Jesus Says About Divorced Christians and Remarriage, I share tips for seeking God and finding answers.
Whether or not you’re a Christian woman, deciding to leave your marriage is hard. Getting divorce is damaging, painful, and heartbreaking. There are no easy answers, not even in the Bible. Scripture is a treasure trove of wisdom and parables, comfort and strength…but even the Bible can’t tell you if you should leave a Christian marriage. God rarely tells us exactly what to do in specific circumstances; He’s all about freedom, grace, and love.
A decision as big as leaving your marriage requires you to go beyond “the Bible is against divorce” and dig into your own journey with God. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and wise Christian counselors or mentors who you can be honest with.
4 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Christian Marriage
One of my Christian friends is dealing with emotional and verbal abuse in her marriage. Leaving isn’t easy even though she’s been unhappy for years. A She Blossoms reader recently asked for advice because she, too, is considering leaving her Christian husband.
“I am contemplating divorce even though my husband and I have been married for 19 years,” she said on Is My Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore. “We have had problems the past few years that keep coming up every couple months. I have stayed just because I’m a Christian and God hates divorce and there has been no infidelity. But now my husband and 15 yr old daughter are butting heads and he says she is turning out just like me. They got in a fight this morning and my daughter said she wants to be emancipated and move out. My husband said to give him the papers and he would kick her out himself. Now my daughter says she will leave and move out if I don’t leave him. I feel torn between trying to continue to make things work or lose my daughter. My husband says I have ruined his life and everything is my fault. I just feel drained. I have tried everything to make things work and I’m not perfect and have made mistakes too, but I can’t keep living this way. Should I leave my marriage, even though I’m a Christian?”
If you’re a Christian, you’ll find Bible verses that argue for or against divorce. You can argue and debate until Jesus finally takes us home! But it’s not the best way to spend your time because you’ll never find the correct answer. Instead, spend time in God’s presence.
1. Divorcing your husband isn’t divorcing God
Divorce is painful and difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary. Staying in an unhealthy or abusive relationship is never God’s will! Yes, He hates divorce — just like He hates disease, pain, suffering, war, and other terrible things that happen on this side of Heaven. But just because God hates it doesn’t mean it happens. Some Christian marriages need to die so something new can grow and blossom.
I believe Jesus’ heart is breaks for wives in difficult relationships. He knows the suffering and loneliness of an unhealthy Christian marriage. I wish there was an easy way out — or easy answers — but there’s not. Each woman must take time to seek God’s will for her life, spend time soaking up the presence of the Holy Spirit, and walk forward in faith, courage, and hope.
2. The Bible is not a rulebook for daily life
It can be tempting to quote Scripture that says “God hates divorce.” It’s also tempting to use that phrase as a blanket statement (or proof text) to support the argument that no Christian wife should ever leave her marriage. Don’t fall into the trap of taking Bible verses out of context and using them to make decisions. Instead, learn how to accurately interpret and apply the Bible to your situation.
For example, in Ephesians 5:25 Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This describes a healthy marriage. If you and your husband are struggling to serve and love each other, find ways to bridge the gap. If you or your husband are dealing with addictions, abusive behavior, problems that seem uncontrollable and destructive, get help. Don’t allow yourself to stay in an unhealthy, unhappy, even abusive marriage because you “can’t leave because Christians can’t get divorced.”
3. Explore your reasons for staying married
Jesus Christ served the church by loving, protecting, defending, and serving her. When was the last time you felt loved and protected by your husband? Respected, honored, and served? Be honest about your own behavior, as well. Are you serving and loving your husband? I don’t think Christian women should leave their marriages and get divorced at the first sign of trouble. I am saying that unhealthy, unhappy marriages need to be taken care of. Unhappiness does not help build God’s kingdom. Disunity, disconnection, and sin in marriage is what the devil uses against Christians and God’s work.
If you are staying in a bad marriage because you’re a Christian and the Bible says “God hates divorce”, I encourage you to look at your husband, your marriage, and yourself more carefully. Talk to someone you trust, perhaps a Christian mentor, pastor or counselor. Don’t keep walking through the darkness alone. Get the help you need.
4. Consider talking to a Christian marriage counselor or a spiritual director
You might find it helpful to sort through your emotions and thoughts by taking to a therapist who understands both the Bible and marriage dynamics. Untangling your Christian belief system will help you see how your faith is affecting your choices, health, and life. Another possibility is a spiritual director, to help you learn how to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Learn how to seek God’s presence and communicate with the Holy Spirit. Does He give you guidance and direction? Learn what this means and how to hear His nudges and whispers.
I also encourage you to read Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud. He’s a Christian psychologist who co-wrote the Boundaries series of books. This book will help you see your relationship more clearly, and even help you decided if you should leave your Christian marriage.
Take good care of yourself, for you are a child of God — and that means you’re worth taking good care of! Read 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Through the Divorce Process.
How do you feel? What have I missed? What do you want Jesus to do for you? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below.