A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Is God “For Your Marriage”?

“God is for your marriage.” This is one if those statements that a lot of us heard when struggling with the decision of whether or not our marriages could be salvaged. It is meant to be an encouragement, but often can feel like the twist of a knife in the back of a victim who has experienced that being “for” the marriage means being “against” him or her. When the marriage is the tool of an abuser to hurt, how can God be “for” such a tool?

I think the problem lies in the simplicity of a statement that is dealing with a very complex topic: the will of God. Here is a short view on the will of God by RC Sproul that I have found helpful in the past:

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/wills_sproul.html

The difficult knot to untie regarding God’s will is that evil exists in the world and is allowed within God’s “will”, yet we know this evil is not his pleasure. He does not desire children to starve or women to be raped, so in that sense (his will of disposition) these things are not his “will”. Yet in the sense that they occur and he is in control (his sovereign decretive will) they are his will. Confusing? It can be – but the clear point is that what God WANTS is not always what HAPPENS.

So back to the original question, we need to be very careful about what it means when we say God is “for” something. Does he desire every marriage to survive and flourish? I think so, and barring evil in the world that is exactly what would occur. But we already see that God’s will of disposition can be frustrated, and this is why the statement “God is for your marriage” is unhelpful – it implies that just because God wants something that it will happen.

At this point, I fear some would counter with “Yes, but it is not for you, Christian, to end the marriage”. That is, since we believe that it is God’s pleasure for all marriages to be successful, we should live in accordance with his will of disposition. However, even God being “for” a marriage is not necessarily his will of disposition once an abuser has gone to work. If an abuser does not consent to live with a Christian spouse in peace, the marriage that God is “for” has already been gravely violated – it does not exist. What exists may be a legal marriage (or shell of a marriage), but it is a perversion, and not something that God is “for”.

What I can say with certainty is that if you are a believer, God is “for” you. While your marriage may have become a perversion of what God is “for”, you have not. You have been cleansed and given a new heart. If God cannot be both “for” your marriage and “for” you, which do you think he would choose? Only a Pharisee will choose the former.

31 Comments

  1. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    If God cannot be both “for” your marriage and “for” you, which do you think he would choose? Only a Pharisee will choose the former.

    Love it!! Perfect statement!!

    • I agree. That last statement was RIGHT ON!!!! Wonderfully written!

      • MeganC

        Yes — joining in the cheering squad. That statement had a very healing effect on me, Jeff! Thank you for writing this!

  2. This is similar to what Christ taught about the way the pharisees put the rigid following of the Sabbath laws ahead of the people. Even in Sabbath, there were exceptions. Legalism always puts the rule ahead of people!

    • Yes Wendell, and great post, Jeff S.
      1st Century Pharisees had Sabbath laws that they had concocted by going beyond scripture and disregarding the deep current of mercy which under-girds Scripture. I often muse about how the 1st Century Pharisees’ obsession with the Sabbath is analogous to the modern Pharisees’ obsession with Divorce and so called ‘Family Values’.

  3. Katy

    This is what Nancy DeMoss and Holly Elliff said in their discussion of domestic violence: that God’s will is ALWAYS “for” your marriage, no matter what the abusive partner is doing to the family. In their zeal to enforce marriage as a law, they make violence and abuse the heart of God. They are clearly Pharisees!!

    • Jeff S

      Katy, I think a lot of people say this with a lot of different motivations. Some, at least, I think are ignorant of how it makes others feel because they just don’t “get it” and really intend it to be an uplifting thought. I think Demoss and Elliff are not in that camp, however- they are trying to do more than just encourage and lift spirits.

  4. FreeToGo

    And despise the absolute chaos and maddness, it is was easier for me to believe God was “for” my marriage. And harder, couldn’t even fathom, that it is was a marriage that He could actually deliver, set me free from. I actually thought God was more “for” my abuser than “for me.” The church, and my wrong, misconstrued belief system sure did make it seem that way.

    • I totally resonate with that, FTG. I felt the exact same way. I used to think because I was just a woman, God was prioritizing my husband over me. I thought my whole worth was found in how well I sank all my ambition and identity into propping him up and that God was completely unconcerned for my children or I. This was my lot in life. God was not so good. We were second to the institution of marriage and the sex hierarchy. If I could just endure it, sacrifice myself, and “not fear anything that was frightening” I would find this paradoxical happiness and satisfaction.

      It never happened, and things just got worse.

      I wish these theologians would really look at what their teachings translate into for all of us little people in the real world. And I fear that this is the problem with privilege: those in the privileged positions don’t naturally understand the plights of the underprivileged. That is why it is soooooo important that they be humble enough to really listen to how they are using their influence and power to impacting others. There is no excuse for this. None at all.

      • Desley, I was hooked up on that ‘do not fear anything that is frightening’ scripture too (1 Peter 3:6). It was my ‘biggie’ – the hardest one for me to deal with. Nice to hear from someone else who was massively hooked on the same verse.
        When I say ‘hooked’ I mean hooked like a fish, unable to get free.
        We have seven posts on this blog that deal with that 1 and 2 Peter and several of them discuss 1 Peter 3:6. Here is a link to the archive:

        http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/category/scripture-passages/1-2-peter/

      • Barnabasintraining

        And I fear that this is the problem with privilege: those in the privileged positions don’t naturally understand the plights of the underprivileged.

        Yep. “Let them eat cake.”

    • Yes, very well said, FreeToGo. And I love your screen name! Welcome to our blog :)

      • FreeToGo

        ..

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        .
        Thanks Barbara. I’ve been a blogger on this site for the last 8months. I’m one of the quiet ones, making comments here and there. Rather than being ‘anon’ I thought that I should make it official by giving myself a name. I remember when I was seperated and in utter confusion about whether to get a divorce or not. For the first time in a long time I was actually sure and certain about something. And that something was that I did not want to go back or `reconcile.` Hearing word reconcile made me stomach sick for the longest time. And the thought returning felt like a prison sentence. One day, I was sobbing, wailing, crying out for God not to send me back to a marriage that. And out of nowhere I heard God say, “You`re free to go.“ Those words were sealed in my spirit and despite the opposition of condemnation, guilt, and being told to reconcile. I hung on those words. I today I am free, free, free.

      • Thanks FreeToGo. Yeah, I noticed your screen name was new, but didn’t recognise your gravatar had been here before.
        “And the thought returning felt like a prison sentence.” Boy do I relate to that!

      • Just Me

        FreeToGo – “Hearing word reconcile made me stomach sick for the longest time.”
        I know the feeling. The words “one flesh” make me cringe. I’m glad you’re FREE!!!

    • Lisa

      Free to go……I felt exactly the same way.

  5. Healinginprocess

    If an abuser does not consent to live with a Christian spouse in peace, the marriage that God is “for” has already been gravely violated – it does not exist. What exists may be a legal marriage (or shell of a marriage), but it is a perversion, and not something that God is “for”.

    If God cannot be both “for” your marriage and “for” you, which do you think he would choose? Only a Pharisee will choose the former

    Two wonderful points…well stated Jeff S.

    • Jeff S

      Thanks!

      I will admit that I borrowed the first point from Barbara’s book :)

  6. Anonymous

    Great post and points (even the borrowed one!) and exactly what I needed to hear today!

  7. Lisa

    This is the first time I have ever heard of this from anyone in THE CHURCH.
    I understand it and thank you so much for bringing this to the light…..Many Blessings!

  8. Just Me

    I’ve also heard the statement “Satan wants your marriage. Don’t let him have it!” I remember thinking, “It feels like he already has it and I’m stuck in it’s clutches.”

    • Where in the Bible does it say that Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for a marriage to destroy? I don’t recall reading this.
      Don’t get me wrong, marriage is good and to be protected (by nourishing one another in a marriage), but the last time I checked, it was the Christian’s heart and mind that needed to be protected. Satan desires to lead people away from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:11). Abuse is one way that Satan attacks the Christian’s heart and mind. It is also just another way Satan takes something good and twists it into something evil. What porn is to sexuality, abuse is to marriage.

      John Piper and the like think they have this great, illuminated theology of marriage, but they miss the whole point of marriage, which is to “help” one another grow closer to Jesus and to be a companion and comfort to one another. (“It is not good for man to be alone.”)Nowhere in Genesis does it indicate that God created man in order to make a marriage. Nowhere does God suggest that He desires the preservation of marriage at all costs.

      Marriages get destroyed because one or two of the people in them choose not to love and respect the other. If these guys esteemed marriage as highly as they claim to, then “verbal unkindness” would be dealt with severely since it cuts right at the heart of a marriage. Any “Christian” who was “verbally unkind” to his or her spouse without godly remorse would be anathema. I don’t know what this thing is that they really value, but it is not marriage.What they are protecting is a big ugly distortion of marriage that actually works the opposite of what marriage was intended to do by God.

      “Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

    • Variation on the “Satan wants your marriage” line:
      When I left my first husband I told a Christian woman, the mother of my daughter’s best friend. She said “Are you going to let Satan destroy your marriage?”

      I was stymied. Felt blamed. Couldn’t answer. Went away shocked and breathless. Couldn’t tell her how I felt, let alone what was wrong with her question.

      I now know what was all wrong with that question. It wasn’t ME who’d been letting Satan destroy the marriage; it was my HUSBAND.”

      Typical, ignorant, horrible comment from a well meaning Christian. . .

      • I wonder if she said the same thing to your husband. Probably not. Just like the business of an elder at my church who is aggravated (to say the least) with me for separating from my husband. You’d think that considering the fact that I am not the one wreaking havoc in my family, and that I am the only one who has been trying to get help for years, he would direct his aggravation and judgment at my husband. But no… he says not a peep to my husband. He empathizes with my poor husband who got cheated by those darned women’s rights. My role in his estimation is to buck up and submit to his abuse.

        Why? Why don’t they take out their disappointment, aggitation, condemnation out on the abuser? Are they afraid of the abusers so they just take it out on the victim who won’t defend herself? That is cowardly!

      • Anonymous

        No wonder you felt symied, blamed, shocked. That familiar attack, that stimulates the deer-in-headlights reponse, because the body is created to sense and react to danger. And what was the threat? I believe it was verbal abuse.

        She was asking you a loaded question, which is an informal logical fallacy. There is no way of answering a loaded question because it has a presumption of guilt in it. She defined you as guilty – bam, that’s verbal abuse. And yes, a loaded question is a dangerous thing, like a loaded gun. A caring person doesn’t point a loaded gun at her sister-in-Christ.

  9. Katy

    Piper describing a Godly wife “enduring a smack” from her husband – I have this mental picture of him cramming a camel down his throat now. :)

    • It will complement nicely that large beam that is stuck in his eye.

  10. Friendinneed from Europe

    After another weekend of stalking, I phoned the Police and they asked if my daughter would come in order to make an official complaint. My daughter does not want to go because . . . well they ARE the Police and she is 15 and ashamed. They would like to take note of the stalking because she got locked up during a visit a while ago. I am very angry that the stalking happened again. And more angry when my daughter explained, this week, the details of how she escaped out of the window after being locked up, onto a rubbish bin and then to the ground to make a run for it. Please don’t hate me because I am a father, rather love on my daughter. She burst out crying that her girlfriend had received new earrings, bought with their mother, and she has no mother. Enough earrings but no mother. She would rather have no earrings and 1 healthy mother.

    This week we were blessed by another visit from the church ladies, whom bustle into our house, sent me upstairs for a long hot shower whilst making food for everyone. I was trying to fix them up with some radio, as to be hospitable, they insisted there was no need and and repeated that I should take a relaxing shower. I have been feeling very tired, anxious and exhausted. Thank you Jesus for these lovely People.

    Jeff or Barbara feel free to correct my English leaves space for improvement.

    Bless you all

    • It is hard when children are hesitant to make complaints to the police. I had difficulty persuading my daughter to talk the the police. But once she did she felt better I think. And the police officers she talked to were very good with children. And they did it all in a private room, with her never left alone with one adult at a time.

  11. Sarah

    “Just because God wants something, it will happen”. but not so because of free will.
    This struck a cord in me. It is so hard to not feel betrayed by God because I prayed to him often before I married my abuser. I asked and pleaded with him that if this is a good lasting marriage then yes, I will marry him. But it turned out to be my worst night mare. Desperately trying to get back to HIM but it is so hard

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