Another Testimony of a Christian Woman Who Divorced Her Non-Christian Husband

 

Here’s another Christian woman who responded to my post, Christian Marrying a Non-Christian? Marriage: FAIL, by writing in about her marriage to a non-Christian. At the end of her letter I ask a couple of questions to which I welcome your response.

 

Dear John,

It’s really late and I’m really tired, but I am also so incredibly grateful for your post, John, as well as for the many of the replies.

One year after becoming a Christian I separated from my children’s father, to whom I’d been married nine years. We have been seperated for three years now, and I am just now beginning to figure out what the woman who wrote From a Christian Woman Whose Marriage to a Non-Christian Failed meant when she said, “I need a man who is not abusive, unkind, selfish, addicted, full of rage, and a drunk. I need a partner who is faithful, patient, kind, gentle, loving and who has self control. There was a time in my life (most of my life) that I believed this was asking too much—to have all of these qualities and be a Christian. I believed that there was no such man. But I now believe that there are men in the world who believe as I do and who strive for these standards in their lives.”

I’m finally starting to believe this too. It’s taken me so long to get to this place.

Since I met him I have been crazy about my ex. I love him inside and out. But I couldn’t live with him because ultimately we could not share those core values. I have tried over and over again to wrap my mind around why it is I couldn’t come to terms with him, and reunite my family. But it is that intimacy you talked about, John: we could never be truly intimate because I could not talk to him about how freakin’ cool God is, because he just didn’t and doesn’t get it, yet. I hope he gets it someday, because he really is a beautiful person. But there is something missing, and a darkness present in him that is difficult to move beyond without the light and love of the One Infinite Creator.

When you have God at the center of a relationship, you have that three-stranded cord that is difficult to break. You have the opportunity to really grow and blossom, because that person that is there to lift you up and support you in your beliefs. When I talked to my children’s father about the supernatural, wonderful things that God does the more I seek Him, my ex always found ways to discredit my beliefs. And I understand that he sees the whole subject of God in a completely different way than I do, and I respect that. But I don’t want to live like that. I find that when I am surrounded by people who really support me for who I am on the inside, I am more encouraged to grow in my faith and in my life. God has been so good to me in that way, by giving me a wonderful supportive community of friends and family. 

The thing is, I feel that God has called me to love this man, and I will continue to love him and support him as much as I can. But I know that right now he cannot be my husband. I know also that I cannot spend my life wishing that something would happen to change that. I have to move on, and I just hope that moving on can be graceful, peaceful, merciful and loving, and that God will some day provide me with a husband who understands, knows, and wants to share in the love of Christ with me.

Thanks again for your post, John and all the wonderful comments (and the not-so-wonderful ones). Bless you!

 

Hi, there. John here again.

Touching testimony; it’s always so affecting when someone endeavors to make their everyday life more perfectly reflect their ideals. That’s the struggle of the human life.

I thought a couple of points brought up by this letter might be worthy of reflection/discussion. The first is her statement, “I understand that he sees the whole subject of God in a completely different way than I do, and I respect that.” It’s the “I respect that” that got my attention. It made me wonder (again) whether or not it’s really possible to respect anyone’s opinion about something when you know (or absolutely believe, which here amounts to the same thing) that their opinion on the matter is absolutely wrong. If someone believes that Monday follows Thursday, I can’t respect that. I can pretend to respect it; I can say I respect it—but, really, I can’t. And so it made me wonder if our friend here really respects her husband’s position on God. Not to pick on her, or suggest she’s lying, or whatever. Of course not. It’s just an interesting little dynamic. You always hear people say what amounts to, “That person is an idiot. And I can respect that.” And I always think, “Well, no, actually, you can’t.”

Her “I feel that God has called me to love this man,” caught my attention. I am not saying it’s what’s happening here, but I’m sure that every Christian has noted how often people claim that God has called them to do something that just so happens to coincide exactly with what they themselves, without any reference to God whatsoever, would naturally want to do anyway. I wonder how any of us can ever be sure when it’s actually God calling us to do something, and when we ourselves want to do something so wholeheartedly that it just feels like God calling us to do that thing. I think it’s safe to say those two are easily confused.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Without Having the W

    This is tough.

    I don't know what physical danger these particular women might be in, and separation is certainly understandable if that's the case.

    Otherwise, the Bible is pretty clear that the believing spouse should not be the one to end the marriage. I think that's all about demonstrating the Love that is unconditional — the Love that will not end. We can reject the God of love, but He doesn't reject us, even with our shame and weakness.

    Now if the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, that's another story.

    I Cor 7:15 (NIV)

    But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

    Regardless, for each unique situation, prayer is the only answer. A new husband may not be.

  • Brandon Smith

    1 Corinthians7:12-15 – 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

    Let's not ignore Scripture. It is also helpful to know that it could be very likely that God has that person there for you to disciple, not leave behind to be further pushed away from Christ.

  • Melissa

    Just a quick note and I know everyone stories are different. I was married to a bench-warmer/takin up pew space – who thought he was a Christian. We BARELY made it through the 8 years of lies, unfaithfulness, addictions and the list goes on… I stayed and did what God told me to when the bottom dropped out of our marriage. He clearly said, "FORGIVE as I have forgiven you…" Not just once but many times over. Through these very difficult and heartbreaking times, my husband realized he was not a believer and accepted Christ as his LORD and Savior. It hasn't been easy but for the outcome, I would do it again to have the marriage and family I have now. He is clearly a new creation, the old has passed away! Praise the Lord! And just so you know, I was not the great perfect Christian wife I should have been. I was obedient and Christ made it possible for my heart to heal and for him to let go of all the junk. Jesus is the only way we both survived, physically and spiritually.

    • Kira

      This message gave me such encouragement. I am going through a really hard time right now, and was debating if I made a huge mistake by getting married. We have only been married for 2 years. He does not know if he is a Christian. It breaks my heart, and makes me question a lot of the things I do. Recently, I have started going back to church without him. I pray that God can do the same miracle in my marriage.

  • FreetoBe

    To address your 2 discussion points, John:

    1. Maybe the better word here would be "accept." I understand what you mean when you say that "If someone believes that Monday follows Thursday, I can’t respect that. " I think I can RESPECT a person and ACCEPT their beliefs/ideas/etc., even if those clash with my beliefs/ideas/etc. But I've never had to live day-in, day-out with someone whose beliefs are so opposed to mine, so I couldn't even begin to comment on what I personally would do in this lady's situation. I would ask the lady, though, why she only gave her husband a year—God gave her all that time, surely she could give her husband the same amount of time? Just saying…..

    2. I think God does call us. God tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. So I think every person has a responsibility to themselves to decide if their desire actually has anything to do with being delighted with God. And that's not always easy to do.

  • Kelly

    Perhaps in the telling we sanitize too much the horrendous things have occurred behind the closed doors of the marriage, and consequently the things that ended it. For me it is an effort to be gracious and desperately wanting to walk out the forgiveness that I now have toward my ex (and toward myself).

    I became a Christian approximately a year after getting married. My ex remained an unbeliever. I searched the Word, and determined that if he chooses to stay, then I should stay – and I did. It wasn’t his lack of faith in God that ended our marriage. It was however that he slept with many other women – the last one, he openly “dated” – twice a week when her kids were gone, he went to her house and had sex. And also he was an emotionally and verbally abusive alcoholic.

    Even after having biblical grounds for divorce – adultery, I stayed for ten additional years trying to make it work. I loved him, and I wanted to make it work. I hoped for healing, and for our marriage to be a testimony. In the end, it all took its toll and I began to sink with the ship. It became a very toxic situation, so unhealthy. I fell into sin myself and I began to question everything, including God. We did not end the marriage without much thought, counsel, prayer and heartache. It was devastating, but necessary for my very survival – physical, spiritual and mental. But strangely, I still maintained hope. A year after the divorce was final, I approached him about counseling and possible reconciliation. He refused the offer. Not long after, he announced he had a serious girlfriend. I took that as my cue to move on with my life.

    I believe God hates divorce simply because he sees the incredible heartbreak it inflicts on his children. It was horrible.

    I’d just like to point out that it seems unfair to assume that this writer walked out on a whim. We don’t necessarily have the whole story here. Sometimes it is possible to stay, sometimes necessary to go. But it is always best to search the heart of God

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Kelly: Wow. Strong stuff. Thank you so much for sharing this extremely powerful story of your own experience.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Hmm. I pretty much "know" that Adam and Eve is a biblical myth along with most if not all of Noah's and Jonah's story and perhaps a few others, but I still respect the beliefs of those who "know" them to be true and factual, as long as we can agree on what the message of those stories are. When the message starts to contradict the Gospel, then we have problems.

    My son is not a Christian, in fact he says he is a pagan. He is very spiritual and I pray that someday he will come to know Christ. Based upon his behavior, even when compared to those who proudly proclaim Jesus as their savior, perhaps he already does. I respect his beliefs and I respect him for them.

    I think the problem with many of us is that we don't give those people we love enough time to find their own way to God. With all due respect to those who feel so strongly about the burden of an unequal yoke, I've know guys and gals who have hung in there for years and eventually their spouses have come around. And I've known plenty who never did, but they still had strong, loving marriages. If the relationship is abusive then that's another story, but Christians certainly don't control the market on loving, respectful and spiritual marriages.

    Pretty brave for this lady to share her story with us. Thanks.

  • stephanie

    I have been reading the posts here and I am desperately seeking what to do in my given situation. I need prayers. I am believer and born-again since 1998. My husband is not a believer, although I thought he was when we married. He is European and claimed to be Protestant. Well, he never accepted Christ as his personal savior.

    My husband has had a history of porn addiction, drug use and now violent and threatening behavior towards me… as well as, emotionally abusive. We have two small children and it devastates me that this is having such an affect on them. I do not want to raise two boys who think it is okay to behave like their father to women.

    In addition to all of this, I am an adult survivor of child abuse. I was adopted at 5 mos. of age and emotionally and physically abused by my adopted mother for the majority of my childhood. Last summer, I confronted both of my parents in therapy about this and through a lot of pain and tears… I forgave them and we are rebuilding a relationship.

    I just can't live through it again… I do not know what to do.

    My husband's outbursts have gotten to be more and more violent… to where I had to call the police three nights ago and they arrested him. He spent 48 hrs in jail and has a restraining order to stay away from me and our home until his court date (two months). He is still angry and blaming me and I am still frightened.

    How do I get a call into God to find out what I should do?

    I pray and pray, but still…. I do not know.

    Broken hearted

    • What does the Bible say?

      You have an obligation to protect your children. While you may not be able to divorce, you can remove yourself from that abusive environment. I hope by now you have done so.

  • http://derfliwjn.wordpress wilfred jun

    well it is sad that the partner did not have a personal encounter with God I my self was once also a non christian when i got married my wife was a christian then, but i think you must have a personal encounter with the Lord so that your relationship would still be strong.

  • http://derfliwjn.wordpress wilfred jun

    well i think its the lack of communication between you partners and you better be baptize again with water and the holy spirit so that your marriage would be renewed.

  • Michelle

    It is okay to judge others when the shoe is not on your own foot. I used to be a bright and happy person. I knew that this man was not a christian and yes I had signs of some negative behavior, so yes, go ahead and judge me but he was very kind to me in many ways most of the time. He met me as a christian woman and accepted that and I accepted him but truly thought that he would be saved because of the Godly woman he saw me to be. But today I have become a sad and depressed woman. All the prayers and fasting for over 11 years have not changed him. Me being a very good wife has not changed him. He has been verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to me. I was raised in a family with love. This year will be 40 years my parents have been married. I do not want my 6 yr old daughter to be in a broken home. My husband says I need to go out and do some fun things. He does not know that I have the greatest joy doing things that are of God. He thinks what he does is fun … going to the clubs and hanging out and drinking with "the boys'. He was bad before but after three Iraq tours he is worst. He is very verbally and emotionally abusive and when this makes me sad and depressed and so hurt I don't want to talk then he gets more mad at me and tells me that he is good to me and didn't do me anything and look how I am walking around with a long face. I am at my wits end and depression is getting worst. I love to eat and I have started missing meals because I don't feel hungry. I am THE CHILD OF GOD HERE, why is my Father in heaven letting him win over me when I have been faithful? Is this what He means when He says stay with the unmarried husband and my Godliness will win him over? Well how much must I endure before He stops me from being the victim … He said I will have prosperity and good life. I have repented time and time again if this is not the man He had for me. He being who He is would not punish me like this … SO what is this … and why is He allowing me to be hurt like this when I am a very good faithful christian and a very good faithful wife. And don't tell me … He never gives us more than we can bear … my husband gets to treat me badly and how much does MY GOD think I should bear?

    • What does the Bible say?

      You will never be able to change your husband. A woman’s influence on her non-believing husband is only possible if her husband has a fertile heart willing to accept the truth found in God’s word. This is what Jesus taught in the parable of the sower. The fool will not change, nor the person whose heart is hardened. You do not have to submit yourself to physical abuse. You can remove yourself from that environment; however, you do not have the authority to divorce and remarry. You can only change how you respond to our husband. I highly recommend How to Foolproof Your Life and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I am sorry you are living like this and understand more than you’ll ever know. This life is temporary. Living as God has asked us to and trusting in Him for a better home can bring comfort.

  • Michelle

    Also let me add that he (my husband) says that I just want him to go to church and to become a christian and all that stuff, but that would never happen. I maybe could tolerate him not becoming a christian, in a way, because I know other families that one spouse is a non believer and the other one is and they have a very good marriage. The thing about it is that when my husband wants to really hurt me, he starts talking negative about me, my christian life, my christian friends, my church, and any and every thing concerning God. This HURTS! Which of course is his intent and my heart breaks. If he was nice even though not a christian I could live with that but when he tries to hurt me with the thing that means the most to me … My God and my christian walk … that hurts like someone hitting me in my chest with a hammer.

    • Lenore

      I know its been a while sinse you posted but i hope you read this at some point, and i pray that you are doing better and maybe do not need advise anymore. But I have and still have similar problems, one day God brought me to a Christian book store, far away from my home. I wont get into that story, but I was guided to buy a bible that was in a language that I could understand and I also was led to books on "why we suffer". These books helped me to understand what Gods plan is or might be for me, why I must suffer. Please dont give up on God, maybe you can find a book store near you, or something online if you dont have a Christain book store near you, find a book on your situation, I know it will help. I still suffer, but I my life is getting better, and those books gave me understanding and my love for God and Jesus are strong, and if someone puts down my belief, I stand my ground and keep my faith. When someone (like your husband) trys to turn you away from God, by making you doubt your faith or hurting your feelings about your faith, remember, that is the devil speaking… and never let the devil get the best of you. God would never have your husband speak to you that way. Please, I cant convince you in this small of a time, find some good reading, or someone from your church that could talk with you.

      I hope you are doing better, I really do.

  • Marsha

    I’ve studied this topic for years and I’ve lived it out.

    You say, “I wonder how any of us can ever be sure when it’s actually God calling us to do something, and when we ourselves want to do something so wholeheartedly that it just feels like God calling us.” We can KNOW when God calls us to do something by checking HIS WORD. If it says we need to do it, then God’s calling us to do it. People think they can ignore God’s commands by “feeling” that God’s “not calling” them to “do that.” That’s called rationalizing. God expects obedience from those who claim to love him. He says their worship is in vain if they follow the ideas of men.

    The woman says God called her to love this man. He calls all of us to love everyone, so what she says is true. He also calls wives to respect their husbands, so your comment about not respecting people who feel differently than you is unbiblical. You can disagree with someone, give them the freedom to choose their own opinions, and respect their right to make their own choice.

    The Bible clearly states that God hates divorce, that a wife is bound to her husband until he dies or leaves or commits adultery.God says if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so; but the believing spouse is to stay and “win over” her husband by her devout behavior. The Bible also says that if the unbelieving spouse wants to stay married, the wife “MUST not divorce him.”

    The Bible contains the story of Gomer for a reason. She was an unfaithful wife who kept running off from her children and husband; yet God commanded the husband over and over to bring his wife home and love her. Loving our spouses unconditionally is imitating the way God loves. His word says without love, we are nothing. But love is not a feeling, it’s an action and a life style. If you care more about your self, your desires, your wishes, then you are not loving as God wants you to love. The Bible says we are to think more highly of others than ourselves and we are to put to death our selfish desires. Our focus needs to be maturing in faith and love, not following our desires for what feels good.

    Whether your situation changes or not, GOD can change YOU so that you can live in your situation with grace and love – being more like Jesus and following his perfect example of laying down his life for the ones he loves.

    I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. God’s desire for you is not to be happy. It’s to be HOLY. That happens during tough circumstances, not in easy times.

  • Michelle

    I wasn't sure who you were responding to. It doesn't sound like you were responding to my post but you seem very knowledgeable so if you would read my post (again … if you've read it already) and respond to it for me … I would appreciate it. Thank you :-)

  • http://www.cp.com Flo

    Dear Stephane,

    I read ur post with tears in my eyes. I know how it feels to be in ur Friday and God doesnt seem to

    be responding to ur prayers. You deserve a better life after all the childhood abuse. I want you to know that God is not a deaf God, nor is he ignorant. I want to remind you that he loves you more than anything. Come to think of someone who loves you unconditionally, someone who will never lie to you, someone who will never betray you, someone who will attend to all your needs. Now the multi million dollar question is why hasnt he answered ur prayers upto now. I want u to understand that when it comes to God's dealings, time is not a factor. He knows and understands what u re going thru – no doubt and maybe he is just waiting for you to take one step and that will prompt him to react.

    No matter how hard the situation may look like, God will surely come thru for you.

  • Alanna

    Michelle, I have just been reading these posts including yours to find some guidance on my current situation. I have only recently accepted God’s place for me in his kingdom which has been an amazing experience for me and my family, I was born to a christian family but ran from jesus for 27 years. In that time I married a man with a broken spirit, who has no desire to help himself, heal from his past or accept guidance or counsel on how important his role as a partner, husband, man and farther is. I know I am not the perfect sister, daughter, wife or mother but I do know I am striving to understand and take in to account all my responsiblities, the most difficult at times for me is to remember I am trying to live like jesus did.

    Jesus lived and displayed love – unconditional perfect love, he grieved for the wicked and those who hurt, Jesus took time out to think and pray and at times protect his emotions. Which brings me to the topic of practical decisions and support for Christians who live in this world, if you are being abused and suffering in a mental and physical manner, you are to protect yourself and those children you have been blessed with in your care.

    It can be the action we don’t take that is detrimental to our children, loved ones or ourselves, opposed to the abuse we accept and continue to expose ourselves and children too.

    I don’t know all of God’s plans and I am not sure on all the answers but I know that if you don’t remove one’s self from an emotionally or physically abusive situation one cannot grow or heal. While God’s laws are to be upheld and marriage is one of these, he also requests we love and protect our children. My role at the moment is to be an example to my 1 year old son, and while I am still a wife, I have been guided that my most important role is to protect my son in every way I can. I know this will be difficult to read given I do not know or understand you, your situation or how difficult decisions can be to make. If your partner will not agree to work with you or take responsibility for his role in your home/marriage I believe as a women, mother and child of God you have ground on which to demand time out for you and your children to seek help, address and assess your marriage. Maybe the answer you are seeking (Your husband changing or god entering his life) is not the answer God has in mind here.

    Maybe God needs you to know he will not forsake you (financially, emotionally and physically) if you choose to protect yourself and your children before allowing the devil to crush your spirit (conditioning yourself to abusive conditions). I haven’t listed any bible references and would be willing to discuss this further if you would like to.

    As I write to you I realise I can’t change my husband only Jesus can, I can pray and I can protect myself and my son as I need because God gave me a mind, a voice and a spirit to do so. I can also use the emotionally dead marriage I am in to embrace the friendship of those around me and church family and in some ways be thankful for his income so I can sponsor those less fortunate financially than me in other countries.

    The battle is so hard my dear friend and I hope it will get easier for you. Angels are rejoicing for you each hour.

    Much love Alanna

  • Amandaammu

    I have been trying to make it work for 12 years. We are both christians and worse he is a minister. when we are with people he is the perfect husband. but at home he treats me worse than dirt. He abuses me emotionally and i find it difficult to tell anyone. The church expects me to be the best pastors wife.  I have prayed so hard over the years.  I have found myself being tempted many times to leave. I just want to be happy. to have a partner who is the same at home and in church. Would it be so bad if I divorced him. there has been adultery in our relationship but all I do is cry myself to sleep and tell myself I have forgiven him. deep inside i dont know what forgiveness means anymore because before i heal the same thing will happen. it tears ma heart apart. Help Me! talk to God on my behalf. anything please

    • Dee

      You say that you have prayed for help and then been “tempted” to leave. What if its not Satan tempting you but god answering your prayers? Seems to me that the only way a god who loves you but refuses to impose upon your husbands free will COULD help you would be by offering you a way out. Please understand that the verses about divorce were written to protect women from abusive and neglectful husbands. If nothing else, seek help for these issues from outside the church – maybe a secular counseling center.

      And if he EVER hits you (or your kid if you have one), kick him in the balls and walk put the door. I mean it. At that point it is no longer a spiritual issue and becomes a safety issue.

  • Sheila

    If a relationship is mentally and physically abusive then it needs to end. The christian God I love would understand and forgive me if I left such a situation after I made every attempt to work it out. I do not believe God would hold it against us for protecting our selves or our children by leaving.

  • What does the Bible say?

    We need to be careful about assuming what God thinks or feels. He has revealed His word to us. In His word, He teaches that infidelity is the only authorized reason for divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9). In the case of abuse, a wife may remove herself from that situation to protect her life and/or the lives of her children. However, divorcing and remarrying is not authorized by the scriptures. I hear so many stories of women dealing with abusive husbands – whether it be physically or emotionally. The emotionally abuse seems more prevelant and less obvious. There are a lot of good books available that can help wives deal with the emotionally abusive relationship.

    • Jill H

      You do not have the authority to tell anybody what they can and cannot do regarding scriptural doctrine. Your comments show a propensity for dictating rules and absolutism. That’s no one’s call to make, whether you believe scripture dictates absolutes or not.


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