Generation Cedar

Obedience is not Contingent

Author: Elisabeth Elliot

“The making of comparisons is a dangerous business for a Christian. Each of us must give account, not of his neighbor, but of himself to God. To the workers who, under the guise of a concern for fairness, objected to an equal wage being paid to those who began the job at different hours of the day, the owner said, “Why be jealous because I am kind?” (Mt 20:15 NEB).

To the brother of the prodigal son, put out because this wastrel was being wined and dined, the father said, “My boy, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. How could we help celebrating this happy day?” (Lk 15:31,32 NEB).

To Peter, hesitant to follow the Lord until he found out what was going to be required of the other disciple, Jesus said, “If it should be my will that he wait until I come, what is it to you? Follow me” (Jn 21:22 NEB).

The spirit of godly obedience is not in us; our wills have not been unconditionally turned over to the Master, as long as we determine our own action by what others do. To husbands God says (unconditionally), “Love your wives.” To wives He says (unconditionally), “Submit to your husbands.”* If each lets his obedience be contingent upon the other’s, there is a standoff. The command to husbands is the business of husbands. The command to wives is the business of wives. Let each “mind his own”–direct his attention to the thing required of him–and harmony will be the result.

“There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds” (Mt 5:48 NEB).

*Many wives consider their own cases exceptional. Since no exceptions are mentioned in this passage, I conclude that a wife must be very sure she has a scriptural warrant before disobeying, e.g., if her husband desires her to act in a way clearly forbidden by scripture.”

From Elizabeth Elliot’s Daily Devotional

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69 Responses

  1. “If each lets his obedience be contingent upon the other’s, there is a standoff.”

    Brilliant. Thanks for looking this up and sharing it, Kelly. Elisabeth Elliot’s writing gives me pause every time I read it.

  2. I always thought it was interesting how the Scriptures say “submit” but do not say “obey.”

  3. There are so many examples of husbands who do not act loving towards their wives.

    Yet the majority of blog posts are about the wives’ duty to submit.

    Remember, the husbands’ duty to act loving should not be conditional on the wives’ submission. (This is similar to what you say about the wives’ submission should occur whether or not the husband is acting loving).

    If the husband waits for the wife to be submissive before he is loving–there is a standoff, isn’t there?

  4. yongxiu,

    This post is perfectly balanced: “To husbands God says (unconditionally), “Love your wives.””…

    Anyone who gleans an “unfair” approach from this post is wearing her “wife feelings” on her sleeve.

    The reason so many posts you read concern the wife’s duty is because most blogs are written by women to women. It would be inappropriate, unbiblical and futile for women to be blogging about the husband’s responsibility. That doesn’t mean we take an unbalanced approach. The very suggestion of “but why don’t you talk about the husband” is a telling sign, to me, about our rashness to blame.

    I personally have found it to be true in my own experience as well as hearing from others that actually, a wife does retain a certain “power” over her husband when she does her part. Normal husbands are responsive to a wife’s kindness, submission and respect.

    My job (and your job) is to teach WOMEN to love their husbands and obey the Word.

  5. Yongxiu, what is the difference between submitting and obeying? When my children obey me, they are submitting to me and when they submit to my authority, it is impossible for them to disobey me. I don’t get the difference.
    It is so easy to focus on the sins of our husbands (the speck in their eye) and not look at our own shortcomings (the plank in our own eyes).
    For a long time, I waited for my husband to lead so that I could submit. He continued to ask me to take the lead and make the decisions. Then I realized that it is not up to my husband whether I obey scripture and submit to him. So I began to submit to him although he wasn’t leading. He then began to lead. Amazing. God is so faithful to reward our weak attempts at obedience to Him.

  6. yongxiu,

    You said: “I always thought it was interesting how the Scriptures say “submit” but do not say “obey.””

    Yes, I find it interesting too. Submit, in the context of Scripture (or “to be subject to”) is a much broader command than simply “obey”.

    To submit is to “To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.”

    To submit certainly includes obeying, but is doesn’t just stop there. It’s a voluntary obedience and surrendering.


  7. Actually, I see both male and female bloggers focusing on womens duty to submit, and ignoring the failure of so many husbands to love.

    Both men and women fail to live up to their duty. But the focus in so many blogs and articles is on the woman.

    I wonder if more men were exhorted to love, if it wouldn’t be a better world.

  8. Indeed yong, simple obedience is what children do to parents, while the sacrifices made in marriage have to do with surrendering to and merging each other’s hearts, quite a different relationship from that of parent and child. Many don’t realize the heaviness of the command to husbands to love their wives; when it tells husbands to die for their partners, it doesn’t just mean literally if need be, but sacrificially to the flesh.

  9. “Actually, I see both male and female bloggers focusing on womens duty to submit”

    That’s very true, some selfish males are very focused on female unilateral submission and keeping women in their place. Luckily blogs like these don’t exhort that.

  10. yongxiu,

    I certainly agree men need to be exhorted to love!

    Here’s the model as it should be (which is why every subject has a whole ball of string tied to it):

    Marry a man who loves Jesus more than you. Then, he reads and submits himself to God’s Word. He also makes sure that his family is discipled by a church that believes God’s Word and teaches it.

    In that church, then, there are women teaching the women how to serve their families, and there are men teaching the men how to love and serve their families. Both husband and wife are being exhorted by the teaching and examples of other godly couples (this is the blessing we get to be a part of through our church).

    It is never a woman’s job to tell a man how to love his wife, through a blog or otherwise, IMO.

    If a woman has not married a godly man and suffers under a harsh husband, there are Scriptures that deal with her response as well. She would also do well to find a church who understands how to help disciple unbelieving husbands.

    This is an irrelevant rabbit trail from the post. The HEART of Mrs. Elliot’s message is still being ignored:

    We have a responsibility (both men and women) to obey God. Period. Obedience is not contingent on someone else’s.

    On the day of judgment, we can’t pull the blame card…”But I would have respected him if he were nicer to me”. My kids try it all the time and it is precisely why I’ve spent this week talking about the importance of helping our children take responsibility for their own actions.

    These life lessons have huge implications in the Kingdom of God.

  11. Truly Christian blogs, I mean. Real Christian brothers focus on their own rules, not on others’ exclusively.

  12. Great scriptures to reveal the truth, Kelly.
    One time, when I was farther ahead in my walk than my husband, I commented to a friend that my husband was not the leader. The truth is, the husband is the leader, whether or not he is behaving in a manner WE like. He is still the leader. When he asks you to do things you think he should do, he is leading and trusting the wife with important matters. That we have his trust in many areas allows is to be the proverbs 31 women God called us to be. We should not despise when we are allowed to “take the wheel” so to speak at our husband’s bequest. We should serve as unto the Lord in this area as well as all areas of our lives. Not to anyone in particular, just what I learned while whining one day…lol

  13. Hi, Yongxiu – Ginger give a perfect example of the rewards of obeying/submitting…I think that’s incredibly common among women who grew up in the recent era. At least the women I know.

    I can only speak for myself, but my willingness to follow GOD’s instruction and submit (to my husbands preferences, even in seemingly trivial things) and obey (his direct requests – again, small matters as much as large) – has netted me not only a loving peaceful marriage (what motivates a person to need her way, anyway?) but far more of the small things in life than I would have ever considered doing or obtaining for myself – not that it’s so important, but doing what I’m supposed to do has rewards in addition to the eternal.

    Half the stuff I was bothering myself with wasn’t really mine to manage, which is why it was so frustrating. He knows I try, with God’s help, to meet my role, and he tries, with God’s help, to meet his. We build up emotional credit with each other, so on the days when sin gets the best of us, we know it’s a blip on the radar, not some extreme personal offense requiring a fuss or fight or perpetual hashing over. We’re on a path with clear markers.

    Considering the divorce rate among Christians (many of whom take it upon themselves to set aside clear Biblical instruction when it doesn’t support their hurt feelings) I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to appreciate the original Godly design for marriage. And as EE wrote and Ginger reiterated, what our spouse is or isn’t doing isn’t really ours to work out (insert abuse disclaimer HERE). We don’t have to take that on ourselves, I wonder why we insist on doing it?

  14. Love this, thank you Kelly. By the way, her name is spelled with a “s”, not a “z” 😉

  15. Kelly, I think the only reason I noticed is because one of the times I heard her speak she said something about how her mother didn’t spell her name “normally” but that it suited her because she wasn’t “normal”. 😉

  16. Kelly, I know this isn’t what the post was about and that I am opening another subject here…you said in your comment:

    “…he reads and submits himself to God’s Word. He also makes sure that his family is discipled by a church that believes God’s Word and teaches it.”

    Isn’t it the husband’s role to disciple his family, not the church? and churches for believers to worship together? Maybe I am confused a little on this since we are not part of a church that is as how you described. (I’m not asking for argument sake, I am asking because this is something that my family is struggling with right now. We cannot find a church, especially one that will allow families to worship together.)

  17. Jennifer,I wasn’t saying that was the only time, just asking about the roles of husband/church. Not desiring to argue, just asking for clarification and help for my own understanding.

  18. Charity,

    I see what you’re asking, and I probably wasn’t very clear. Probably “teaching” would be a better word than discipled.

    By “family is discicpled by a church” the assumption is that the church recognizes that the husband is the head of the home and will, by default, disciple them. But as the church teaches these Scriptural principles correctly, the husband is being “discipled”. Also, it’s meant to imply the Titus 2 model where men teach men, women teach women and then they go live it out at home.

    In essence, as members of a church who is teaching sound doctrine, those members “disciple” one another simply by walking alongside, elder with younger, etc., but doesn’t overstep the authority of the head of the home.

    Does that make any more sense?

  19. “I always thought it was interesting how the Scriptures say “submit” but do not say “obey.” ”

    The Bible tells women to obey their husbands in Titus 2:5.

  20. Kelly,

    After “catching-up” on some of your blog posts over the past few days, I can see you’re “on a roll” again 🙂 (and I mean that in a sincere way and not a demeaning way). 🙂

    At any rate, I enjoyed as well as appreciated how you used this post regarding godly obedience in line with headship of husbands and submission of wives. God’s word regarding these principles is quite clear, and quite frankly, not very complicated to understand. Yes, I’m sure we all know of individuals who misuse God’s principles for their own means (which is quite unfortunate and in some cases, disastrous), but that doesn’t mean that these principles become suddenly “outdated” or no longer valid.

    It reminds me of what I read today from an Oswald Chamber’s devotion: “A person of integrity speaks and acts with unimpaired faithfulness to the principles that guide his life – or, in the case of the Christian, faithfulness to his Lord.” In essence, as Christians, we are to be undivided and unwavering regarding godly principles. To do anything else, we lack integrity not only with ourselves and other individuals, but to the Lord as well.

    ~Mrs. Lady Sofia~

  21. Kelly, Ok, it is more clear to me now, and thank you for taking time to explain it further for me. They should be aiding the family (each family member) in their God given roles. I guess when I look around at churches that aren’t doing as you have explained then it seems confusing.

  22. Actually, the Scriptures does not include an exception, so I’m puzzled as to why it is OK to disobey at ANY time.

    It does not say, “Submit unless he asks you to commit murder” or “Submit unless he asks you to violate the Commandments.”

  23. Ok I might get “flamed” here but here goes. I think that at least part of the reason that so many men are no longer loving their wives, is because the wives are unlovely and hard to love. Now, I know that the initial point was about the standoff but let’s think about how affected each one of us is (as a woman) by our matriarchal society. I think there is a passage about where it is a shame for a society to be run by women and children, but I digrese (sp?). I am forever reminding myself to be discrete and chaste and not domineering and it’s harder when I’m around my mother. The sexual revolution was designed by elites who designed communism, in order to destroy the home. As far as I see it women’s plight is worse now (in general) than 200 years ago because we are mostly not in our proper sphere of influence (like a fish out of water) and deep down we don’t feel safe out in the world. It may be little remarks or jokes made at men’s expense. Now men are generally not allowed by our female dominated society to lead women for fear of being a mysoginist and most (having spent most of their waking time at school untill well into traditional adulthood 17/18) have no idea how to lead even if they want to. The men through our modern school system have had an upbringing of being told what to do by a woman (most teachers are women.) I recently saw on the news while staying with my parents after an apendectomy, a 13 yo girl physically abusing a male teacher and he ws yelling at the students to go get help…she was beating him up. I don’t know if there is a law here in Australia where the teachers can’t defend themselves but it looked like he couldn’t even if he wanted to (but probably that was not the case…there’s probably strength in the man somewhere.) Anyway, I’m rambling now and this is getting long. I agree our command to submit is not based on how loving our husbands are and vise-versa. As a side note, we’re not commanded to stay and let a man (or woman if you’re a man) beat us to a pulp. The NT makes it clear that we can leave but at no point are we to divorce such a spouse. Either we remain single or be reconciled. It is an abomination to the Lord when ministers/leaders in the church marry formerly divorced people (adulterers.) Even though we are new creaters our old marriages remain till death of one or other spouse, otherwise we would need to make a new commitment if we come to the Lord after marriage, for God to recognise our first marriage (even if we’re happy and not seeking a seperation.) I felt it needful to add this about marriage, as often women say well “what about if a man abuses his wife?” So there is God’s stand on that issue, like it or not. Liked the original post, thanks Kelly.

  24. Yongxiu,
    It says to obey the Lord over man (and our husbands are men) so as long as what our husbands ask is not against Him then we are to submit…and dare I say it with joy and thankfulness of heart. I know easier said than done and I’m no expert…so pleas if you feel led, I’d appreciate your prayers.

  25. I think my original response was perhaps blocked. If I said something offensive in it I appologise as that was not my intent. I also know that the original Christians would have offended some, even the Lord Himself. That said I still appologise.

  26. Hayley,

    You must be new ’round these parts 😉

    Meaning, I have a really fickle and unpredictable spam filter and it randomly captures comments until I release them. Such was the case with yours. Now I’ll go read it!

  27. Hayley, we don’t have a matriarchal society anymore than Afghanistan has an egalitarian one. We have an egal society and there are unfairnesses on both sides. You could just as easily say many wives don’t submit because we get tired of hearing/seeing men with domineering spirits; I’m certainly tired of seeing source after source chronicle the vast sins of women. There is not a verse in the Bible calling female leaders a curse, but rather indicating clearly that weak men are ruled by bossy wives and unruly children. And yes, divorce IS acceptable in some cases. If all you said was true, faith would seem more like a locked cell than freedom.

    As for the case of a little girl abusing a grown man? Yeah, you have to admit that’s pretty darn rare and certainly not a sign that women now rule.

  28. What a great post – thanks so much for sharing. I think in this day & age submission is a difficult subject, but so important to address.
    Have a lovely day

  29. I do think men are to love their wives, no matter what their wives are like.It is commanded in the Scriptures that they do so.

    If they have true strength, they can do so. If they are ungodly, they will not.

    A true, strong godly man can love a pro-choice feminist. He follows the Scriptures no matter how his wife behaves, and divorcing her is prohibited, so it is in everyone’s interest that he treats her with love.

  30. Technically divorce ( according to Jesus Christ ) is only acceptable for marital unfaithfullness ( cheating ) and that ONLY OUT OF THE HARDNESS OF OUR OWN HEART. So divorce is apparently an option for an unforgiving heart – scripturally speaking. Which, of course, should be the end of the discussion but it won’t be. 🙂

  31. No, divorce is acceptable for sexual unfaithfulness and abandonment. For some reason many have the tendency to blame all on the person asking for divorce instead of the person who may have caused the true death in the marriage.

  32. @yongxiu – I understand your point, the Bible exhorts men to love their wives even as Christ loved the church (and gave himeslf for it). Because let’s face it, if Christ HAD NOT loved the church, and HAD NOT given himself for it, there would be no church. Had he not loved the church, and given himself for it, his disciples would have become disillusioned and wondered off in search of spiritual fulfillment elsewhere.

    The disciples had faith, as we must have, and the faith sustained them for a time. But as the Bible also tells us “faith without works is dead”. If Christ had not perfomed the works he did, there would be no church, no love and no example.

    I think what I find missing from posts like these focused on the women is that it is perhaps impossible for the women to fulfill their part if the man does not try to fulfill his part. Does that though exonerate us from striving to follow scripture? Perhaps not, but it will probably weigh in the mercy of the Lord at judgement day.

  33. This “love your wife” versus “submit to your husband” business seems inherently unbalanced to me. I mean, I would hope that BOTH spouses would be willing to die for the other (whether literally or not). I would hope that BOTH spouses would be willing to take responsibility for the well-being of the other. Similarly, I would hope that BOTH spouses would obey each other.

    In our house, we have a tradition of always doing whatever the other spouse asks without complaint, unless incompatible with some other duty or obligation. If I am working on a project, I can say to my husband, “Can you please go to the story and buy some paper?” He hops in the car and does it, no questions asked. Or on a Sunday morning, my husband says, “Can you get me breakfast?” and I do it. It’s a lot of fun and it works well, but it’s balanced.

  34. Kelly-

    I feel as though I know you. I have kept up with your blog for about a year now, but this is my first comment. Your posts have been an incredible encouragement to me!

    In response to some of the comments discussing whether we should (biblically)divorce or not, Voddie Baucham has a wonderful sermon audio, that was quite eye opening to me, entitiled “The Permanence View of Marriage”. I would encourage all who aren’t quite sure about the “to divorce, or not to divorce” question to listen to him breakdown a particular passage of scripture concerning this very topic. The word “marriage” (talking about the hardness of the spouses heart)there is actually betrothal…not marriage. It’s refering to an actual legal contract that took place one year before the actual marriage…He also addresses all the questions concerning…”What if we have already divorced and are now married again to someone else.” I would link the audio, but I’m not very computer savy…yet!

    Here is his blog where you can find the audio…

    Thanks again Kelly for your ministry…and it truly is a ministry…

    May the Lord Bless you…

  35. “No, divorce is acceptable for sexual unfaithfulness and abandonment.”

    Mind showing me where that is in Scripture? Because if it’s not there it’s just your OPINION and opinions don’t really hold much water for me. Whereas I’ve based pretty much my entire life of living a life of obedience to Scripture.

  36. Sure Grace. Two people with better Scriptural knowledge than me in this area gave examples and explanations. Here’s one:

    “1 Cor. 7:10-16 teaches that married persons should strive to maintain the marriage bond even in the face of severe marital hardship. The reason, stated in verses 14 and 16, is that a believing spouse’s testimony may influence an unbelieving spouse to repent and come to Christ. A similar rationale is put forth in 1 Pet. 3:1-2.

    However, this passage does not teach that a wife must stay in an abusive situation. It permits divorce when an unbelieving husband “departs” from his wife, or as alternately translated, “abandons” his wife. This can occur without physical separation if an unbelieving husband (as he almost certainly must be to engage in such behavior) so completely forsakes his biblical duties to his wife, i.e., to love her as Christ loved the church, to nurture and cherish her as he would his own body (Eph. 5:25-33 and 1 Pet. 3:7), as to create a situation even worse than physical abandonment. If God permits divorce in a case of willful neglect, it is a perversion of Scripture to suggest that God would require a woman to remain in an affirmatively harmful situation merely because the husband remains physically present. “A brother or a sister is not in bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.” (1 Cor. 7:15) It is also entirely appropriate to seek outside intervention from law enforcement or other protective agencies if physical safety is a concern. If the husband professes to be a believer, the church discipline process (Matt. 18:15-17) should be promptly commenced”.

    And the second, concerning remarriage and “putting a wife away”:

    “At that time among the Jews, there existed a practiced called “putting away.” If the wife displeased her husband, he could put her away by sending her away, without divorcing her. She wouldn’t be legally free from the marital relationship, but she wouldn’t be living with the husband. If she remarried in this instance, the husband would be forcing her to commit adultery, since she was still legally bound to him.

    BUT, as Jesus says, if the husband puts away his wife because she committed adultery, then she’s ALREADY an adulteress. The husband can’t MAKE her an adulteress by putting her away… she already IS in that circumstance. We’re interpreting His statement as an “exception,” when it seems to be merely a clarifier.”

    Furthermore, I think most Christians realize that it takes something other than legal bonds to make a marriage, so it takes something other than severing those bonds to break a marriage. Unions with rampant adultery and horrid abuse are already destroyed. I used both examples and Scriptures above trying to persuade a woman whose husband abused her every way there is (including isolating her from friends, lying about her in court, and injuring her so badly she may reach permanent blindness) that no, she did not dishonor God by divorcing the monster.

  37. Firstly, I won’t argue that a Christian woman in an abusive situation should deal with that situation – first through the church and then through the authority set up by the Father.

    However, the analysis of the scripture used is inappropriate.
    Matthew 19:9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
    I’d say that’s pretty clear, using someone else’s opinion doesn’t hold water when compared with scripture. It’s clear all by itself and it follows the question of why Moses allowed divorce. Which was OUT of the HARDNESS of your heart. That’s the only reason Moses allowed divorce. Moses allowed it and God permitted him too. It was not that way from the beginning. Jesus said “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” That is the qualifier (if you want one) – LET NO MAN SEPARATE (not yelling, emphasizing).

    Now, if you want to get into 1 Cor. 7 let’s discuss that. It is plain, that if an unbelieving spouse leaves, the Christian is free from bondage (read slavish obligation). There is no other reason to assume a Christian can divorce the unbeliever- unless you just want to read something into it that is not there. If you really want to get extreme then lets dicuss 7:11 “but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband.” So I guess she’d be single for the rest of her life unless she reconciled.

    That is plain scripture, that is what it says. You still have not shown me from plain scripture that abandonment is a just (Godly reason) for divorce. Infidelity, yes, but Jesus does make it clear that is only out of the hardness of our heart. That, too, is very plain.

    Now, I’ve got to go DH is waiting. 🙂

    These however, are his thoughts:
    You are stretching with the verses you’ve quoted. Being called to peace is not the same as divorce. We suffer for the cause of Christ and give our lives to Him. There are governing bodies that are in place to deal with abuse so that is not what I’m talking about when I say suffer for the cause of Christ. The believing spouse is to model the life of Christ to the unbeliever. The Scripture you’re basing your belief on has many different applications but only one interpretation is allowed. That interpretation must come from the totality of Scripture that deals with that subject. While we are not under the law, the spirit of that law is still relevant. It’s the hardness of the heart (read pride) that is the cause of divorce. I know couples that have experienced infidelity only to learn the deeper meanings of love by working through their pain. In Christ we are capable of forgiveness but forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean restitution. Restitution can be achieved but the offended must be assured that the offender has dealt with and learned from their sin and won’t be doing it again. Be assured we are not sinned against, God is. A cheating spouse can only be changed by a Holy God. Apart from Christ no change is possible. Not only with the offender but with the offended. It is the heart that is wickedly sinful. If a man commits adultery by simply lusting then all marriages can be considered doomed. So what holds a marriage together? Christ. Abandonment is not an excuse for divorce. Technically, neither is infidelity. The true believer knows the fellowship of His sufferings and doesn’t use pride to take the easy way out.

  38. I’m glad your DH is comfortable with such a view of God. I have no interest in what he thinks is the only way to interpret the Bible; I’m more inclined to think that ABUSE is worse than infidelity and that a loving God knows this. Did I mention the woman I referenced had a child in that mess? By all means, ask police officers if church heads are able to restrain dangerous men or whether they have some spiritual power to block such men from killing their families when left alone at night. Your conclusion is that such women are never allowed to divorce?

    Then, a few issues with your own interpretations:

    “I’d say that’s pretty clear, using someone else’s opinion doesn’t hold water when compared with scripture”.

    It’s not opinion I used, it’s another interpretation and indeed another VERSION of the Bible. You are offering no more than your own opinions and interpretations.

    “It’s clear all by itself and it follows the question of why Moses allowed divorce. Which was OUT of the HARDNESS of your heart. That’s the only reason Moses allowed divorce. Moses allowed it and God permitted him too”

    Who cares what Moses did?? God’s permitting a practice back then doesn’t mean it was for all time, which is what you yourself seemed to think for different reasons. God also allowed polygamy back then. But let’s consider the hardness of heart issue: who do you think is harder, Grace? The person who divorces or the hard spouse who brought it about by either infidelity or abuse? In cases such as the one I mentioned, the marriage was ALREADY DEAD, and one former spouse was on her way to being murdered along with her marriage. The separation was ALREADY DONE. Blame him for that, not her.

    Which brings me to this: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”.

    I don’t believe God brings together all legal unions. Once again, marriage is NOT made whole or holy by legal bonds, but by the people united thus. And this leaves me with another point: it takes MORE than severing legal bonds to ruin a marriage. Who has done the separating? The spouse who cheats or beats, or the one who’s ultimately pushed to sever the ruined remains?

    You actually tell me you don’t think abandonement is an “excuse” for a divorce. So what pray is an “excuse”? Not cheating, by your definition, nor apparently even an abandoned or beaten spouse. I’d be sickly amused by the person who considers cheating to be worse than beating anyway. I find your definitions of God and your uses of His Word to be far from either satisfactory or convincing and your dismissal of traumatized spouses to be far more alarming. By all means, be content in your own happy union with such limited exceptions. I hope to God neither of you will ever have such misery in either marriage or divorce. Neither of you have any knowledge of this kind of situation, clearly, and until you do, I sincerely hope you never tell a person in such a situation what you told me tonight.

    The woman I mentioned thinks she’s going to hell if she ever dares try to have a marriage, a REAL union with a man again. She thinks she needed forgiveness for divorcing the man who turned everyone against her with his lies, including his fellow police officers, and who took her child away from her. She thinks she would have been better served to be beaten to death by him than to “burn in hell from leaving him”. And yes, she believes that God is sexist and allows men to remarry, but never women; she claims she will be an adulteress if she ever marries again because GOD still thinks of her union to that monster as holy, and she thinks it would be the same way if HE ever divorced HER and she didn’t even want it. Who believes in a god like that? Usually either people ignorant of others’ pain or people who have been battered senseless by it. That woman sounded like such a masochist that God forgive me, I lost patience and was harsh with her at one point. Of course this did nothing to her, since any verbal weapon I could launch wouldn’t compare to what she’d been through already. Call it my opinion all you want Grace, or just emotion maybe, but I don’t believe in that god; he is not mine and he never will be.

  39. Yes, the more I think on this the more I’m glad I realized it: HE ruined the marriage, Grace, not her. HE pulled asunder, separated, ruined what God allegedly joined together, not her, so if you’re going to blame someone for marital ruin, blame him. That marriage was given to the grave long before the legal documents were drawn up.

  40. Jennifer, it takes 2 to tango and it takes 2 to make a marriage. Yes, I’m can believe she was abused and mistreated but have you ever gotten the other side of the story? Have you ever gone to the man and found out his position? It is important you know. Yes, I’m also aware that there are some horribly, violent people out there and some of them are women. As for divorce, I haven’t specifically stated what I think about divorce. My opinion matters little to none. But I’ll give it to you anyway. When I married I told DH that if he ever hit me to hurt me he’d better never go to sleep around me again. I meant it and still do. I’ll not be hit and I won’t hit. There are women who believe they should hit and never be hit back. I don’t buy into that, you put yourself into a man’s place by hitting a man expect to be hit. This is the way I will teach my son – you never hit girls, unless they hit you first and then you deck them. If you don’t agree, I don’t care, he’s my son and I’ll not see him mistreated. Same with my daughter. Not necessarily biblical.

    As far as Scripture goes, all I’ve done is quote it or write it (restate it with the same meaning). I haven’t interpreted it, it doesn’t need interpretation God wrote exactly what He meant to say and I have no need to interpret it. Now your friend obviously has been misinformed about what Scripture says. I’d say you need to deal with that. Personally, if a Christian divorces, scripture is clear about remarriage.

    If you’ll check out the OT, Mosaic law didn’t allow multiple wives. NT scripture is also very clear – 1 wife.

    I don’t blame either one of the people you’re talking about – I don’t know them why should I blame them????

    “Which brings me to this: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”.” These are these words of Jesus himself, you may feel free to argue with Him as much as you like – let me know how that goes for you.

    You speak of “legal unions”. I think that’s a crock and has nothing to do with scripure.

    Scripturally there is no real acceptable reason for divorce. Like it or not. You may twist it and manipulate however you choose. Whatever makes you feel better and works for you is fine by me. We will each give an account for how we lived our lives.

    Now, you have no idea of what either myself or DH have experienced in this life. I’ve never been abused physically because I wouldn’t tolerate it. Quite frankly the rest is none of your business. You also have no idea what my spouse has been through. You are making some broad, sweeping, assumptions that we couldn’t possibly understand your friend because we’ve never experienced anything bad happening us. You are wrong. We’ve walked the walk and we know exactly how it feels to be in a situation that scares the daylights of you when you’re in it. However, by the Grace of God we have also learned that He is in control and will use everything to good of those that love Him ( direct quote BTW). We’ve learned that God is Sovereign, all-knowing, present everwhere and we’ve learned to trust in the sufficiency of Scripture.

    You either believe and accept the whole Bible or you nit pick it apart until it suits your desires. Personally, I’m not smarter than God and I choose to trust Him. You may feel free to interpret and discard at your leisure.

    Now, you thought you had my opinion – you didn’t, but now you do. See, it doesn’t amount to much – all of Scripture is much better and way more useful for: ” All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

  41. Saved – “Which brings me to this: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”.” These are these words of Jesus himself…”

    Actually, Jennifer is on to something. I don’t know her friend’s story, and since I don’t want to be the fool who takes the dog by the ears (Prov 26:17) I’m going offer another analogy.

    Jim and Mary are married. Jim has an affair. Maty dosen’t want to disobey Jesus and divorce him. But luckily, Mary’s pastor believes in the validity of the Mosaic law, that would put adulturers to death. Now, we can’t do that because that would be rebellion against our laws. But. He understands that Jim has already broken their marriage covenant. He is under execution so to speak before God. The wife on one executed is a widow and is free to marry. Jim must be ex-communicated and his spiritual widow is free to marry. Jim however, never is. Now, like any death, you need to get a coroner involved, you don’t just throw a body in the ground. In the case the pastor is the coroner, but he must aknowledge that the divorce – the death – has happened, or he sentances her to a life with a corpse. I suspect God will have some choice words for him (or worse).

    Now what about abuse (TRUE ABUSE)? I don’t know. I haven’t worked it out but I think public corporal punishment is appropriate. Attack your innocent wife? Public lashing for you and let’s see how tempting it is again. If that man is ever widowed (naturally) everyone will know not to let their loved one go near him.

    But as long as people say God’s law is irrelevant in the time of the nicer, gentler Christ we must have needless suffering.

  42. “Jim however, never is.” As long as she lives, that is. If she dies I think he should be considered a widow at that point.

  43. Also need to add – if Jim repents Mary is allowed to forgive him. She dosen’t *have* to divorce him. But she’d be a fool not to get a post-nuptual agreement if she dosen’t have a legal finantial protection contract already.

    And while I’m on the subject

    Single ladies. GET A PRENUP!

    The laws of our land do not offer adequate protection against defectors, the way God’s law would. But a pre-nup can stand in that gap.

    Parents of singles, strongly urge your child to get a prenup.

  44. “It takes 2 to make a marriage”

    But it only takes one to BREAK a marriage.

    Much of Scripture is VERY open to interpretation, Grace, and much of what I thought was clear cut is not. Here’s a key to whether something’s wrong: if you read something in the Bible and determine with your finite knowledge that it means one thing, but see EVIDENCE in life that says otherwise, hear others give more extensive explanations than the one you made yourself and have a nagging feeling in your heart that it just doesn’t seem usually isn’t. To stick solidly to your own definition in the face of all these signs to reconsider, and refuse to even look at another interpretation would generally be considered a sign of foolishness.

    “You are making some broad, sweeping, assumptions that we couldn’t possibly understand your friend because we’ve never experienced anything bad happening us”

    Anything bad? Sure you have. Anything like THAT? I don’t think so; you would have confirmed it by now, among other things; you’re far too blunt not to. You do NOT have any idea what that woman went through and you couldn’t unless you went through every single thing she did. Frankly, I don’t give a flip what his “side” was or his reasons for doing this to her, nor do I have any reason to doubt her after all her self-beating. If you believe, as I do, that she was beated and mistreated, WHY would I care to have his side? Is there a just reason for blinding your spouse and setting them on fire, or lying about them in court and stealing their children? Equally frankly, I think you and your DH are too legalistic in your general beliefs to have the empathy needed for such understanding. If you did experience what she’s been through, with all the lies and losing of children, I’m sure you’d be less “holy” about your ideas concerning what God would allow her to do.

    “I think that’s a crock and has nothing to do with scripure”

    I know what the Bible says about marriage and it takes far more than legal papers to make one holy and true. History and Biblical times have proved this.

    “Scripturally there is no real acceptable reason for divorce. Like it or not”

    Wrong. Paul clearly contradicted this. The idea that our God would condemn a defeated person for seeking a REAL union with another human being, in place of the cruel joke of a union they had before is a position so groundless, graceless and senseless I don’t need for a second to worry about arguing it with God.

    I’m so glad you won’t be hit. That woman told me she wishes she had killed her husband in self-defense. I wish she had too, though once again the thought that death is better than divorce shocks me.

    “We will each give an account for how we lived our lives”

    Indeed. You said once you actually wished to determine whether I was “heaven bound”. I guess I won’t be able to go to the grave with the comfort of knowing I never told a beaten woman to get the devil OUT of her deadlock.

  45. Lori, you are AWESOME! Thanks for your input, you offered several points I hadn’t considered. Public lashing-wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe it would cure hitting men better than letting them stew in prison.

    I like your example of Mary too, and I would encourage people to heal marriages whenever possible (especially with adultery). The problem with abusive husbands is that statistics and psychology dictate their behavior as being repetetive and hard to cure.

    “he must aknowledge that the divorce – the death – has happened, or he sentances her to a life with a corpse”

    That’s exactly the picture I’ve gotten, and what a perfect and relieving, Biblical picture: one is encouraged and even required to forgive, but if the other spouse is drenched in repeating sin and not repentent, the other spouse should not be tied to them. CS Lewis once compared divorce to amputating a limb. I agree, and would compare divorcing a dead marriage to amputating a dead limb that would ultimately poison and destroy the rest of the body.

  46. Yes, problems are complex, but both those statements are accurate. Two people make a marriage, because it’s not about ONE person. And just one can break it: if my kids ever got a stepdad who touched them in any bad way, the marriage would end the second he did that, and he’d be the one who violated it beyond redemption. Still, we’ll probably just have to part ways on this idea.

  47. God HATES divorce: Malachi 2

    13″This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.

    14″Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

    15″But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.

    16″For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

    17You have wearied the LORD with your words Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”

    Fortunately we live in the period of GRACE yet God never changes. Heb. 13:9 (Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.) We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When we agree with God and confess and repent of our sin ; He is faithful and righteous to forgive us. 1 John 1:9. There is sin among the family of God, to our shame, yet when we confess we are forgiven. To say you have no sin is to call God a liar. 1 John 5:10

    Marriage IS a covenant you make when you agree to be married, it is till death do us part and Jesus said “Let no man put asunder”. God hates divorce but He loves each and every one of us – we must seek forgiveness. It’s scriptural, it’s right there for you to read it for yourself, it is as plain as the nose on your face and the lie on your tongue. We must be careful what we teach others because we will be judged for how we teach. (James 3:1)

    Shame on us all. We will pour milk through cheesecloth to strain out a gnat but we will swallow a camel if our wicked hearts wants a particular sin. (Mat 23:24) Twisting the Bible to make it say what you want is no different than the Pharisees’ religion. Christians cannot allow lies to go untested. What exactly did Christ do for you? What more could He have done and yet you want your favorite pet sin. Make no mistake, God is not mocked. By adoption of the wickedness of divorce you destroy families for generations to come.

    You do this all the while you slap the Lord in His face and still claim you love Him. Shame on you. If you love Him you will keep His commandments. (Mat. 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.) (Philippians 2:12:
    So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;) God is Holy. Before all other attributes God is Holy and His mercies endure forever. So why are you sinning against a Holy God that loves you?

    Take care that you are not one of those that hears “I never knew you”.

  48. I daresay you still have a poor idea of what makes and breaks a marriage. I’ve been threatened with hell so many times by people who disagree with my views about equality, birth control and Calvinism that your words about the sin of protecting abused people have no effect on me; it only angers me that you dare accuse anyone who supports the legal termination of an unholy union of destroying families, that you place such a thing as being worse than a BAD union which LIES about the nature of God, His design of marriage, and His love for His children.

  49. Read into it whatever you like Jennifer. I didn’t threaten you with anything and you can get glad in the same pants you got mad in. It’s not my law nor is it my word it is God’s word. Your beef is with Him and not me.
    God never promised us happiness or a smooth happy life as a matter of fact if you look at Scripture you will see the exact opposite! He is not intersted in happiness, He is interested in HOLINESS regardless of what any us think about it.

    BTW divorces does destroy families ask any child brought up in a divorced family. If you were talking about a something rare it would be different but people change spouses like they change clothes and then expect everyone to pat their hand and say poor, poor baby. Well, I’m not going to do it. God Hates it – pure and simple.

  50. Saved – I am not sure if you were also accusing me of twisting Scripture, but just in case I will address you concern. I assure you, I have no intention of coddling a pet sin. I vouch for biblical marriage often. But I do not pretend God’s law does not apply.

    “Which brings me to this: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”.” These are these words of Jesus himself…”

    I agree, Jesus hates divorce. But in at least the case of Mary and Jim, Jim had *already* divorced her. She is the the witness and the victim of a capital crime. IF she seeks legal divorce it would only be making official on paper the divorce her husband (covenant breaking) already thrust on her, just as a murder victim is dead but you have to have an investigation. The pastor in this case is there in the role of investigator: one – did the murder take place as accused (is the body dead)? and two – who is the victim?

    I am NOT arguing about whether God hates divorce – but the question is – who commited the divorce? If the husband already broke covenant (divorced) then the wife is not to be blamed for making it official.

    Keep in mind that Christ did not come to end the law, but fulfill it (Matt 5:17). Which means that capital punishment still stands. Only we (society) can’t execute the perp. But we still must observe God’s law as we are able – and that seems to mean that he is ecclesiatically executed (excommunicated), and she is a covenental widow. (see also Deut 22:26, another instance of covenant breaking “This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor” Please note who is considered responsible for the attack on the marriage covenant). And we know that widows are free to remarry. See also 1 Cor 7:15 – the communing spouse is NOT BOUND to the non-communing spouse if they leave – and adultury is certainly leaving! This means not just not bound to live w/ him, but not bound covenantally. NOT BOUND. The covenantal ties have been broken, not by her, but by her rebellious husband.

    Now, I concede that I could be mistaken in my application of God’s law to the NT and modern legal restraints. But trying to find the application of God’s FULL Word today, and not just the NT, is hardly Scripture-twisting.

    If anyone would like to explore divorce and remarriage from a FULL biblical perspective I highly recommend _Second Chance_ by the (Right)Rev. Ray Sutton, available for free here:

  51. “Your beef is with Him and not me”

    Another classic line.

    God very clearly promises us spiritual blessing and health, which means something much deeper than what is often called happiness. Holiness brings joy, and abusive unions are NOT holy.

    “He is not intersted in happiness, He is interested in HOLINESS regardless of what any us think about it”

    And you think it’s holiness to stay in a wicked and deadly union, do you? This is foolish and THIS wrecks families and souls; ask children in a union like that. I was not referring to the constant loose divorces that take place nowadays and you know that darn well; I’ve been speaking about VERY extreme circumstances. Your words, indicating that any legal “marriage” is pure in God’s eyes and that staying in one no matter what is holy, and that God doesn’t mean for us to be happy are poison, or could easily be to an unsaved and/or downtrodden person. You should speak far more carefully.

  52. I know you didn’t actually threaten me Grace; my words were, “I’ve been threatened so many times with hell that your words have no effect on me”. You didn’t threaten, just indicated strongly that I am or could be in danger.

  53. Lori, profoundly said. That’s been my core point the whole time: of course God hates divorce, but who caused it? In cases like the ones we’ve spoken of, it happens through convenant breaking, not legal process. SOME marriages don’t end until the court process, but the ones we described most definitely do.

  54. Jennifer, I’ve never actually said that anyone should stay in a marriage. What I have said is that God hates divorce and I’ve posted several direct Biblical quotes about divorce. You assumed that – careful how you assume; you know that old saying about assuming things.

    Our goal as Christians is to obey the Scripture. You’re being led by your heart and the heart is deceitful above all things. God’s word is clear regarding divorce. We should obey God’s word even when we don’t believe it or agree with it. We will be judged by it: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

    God’s word is also clear about the governing bodies – HE set them up and they only do whatever He allows them to do. The governing bodies have set up many regulations regarding marriage up to and including divorce. Until Christ returns they are what we are stuck with. Of course, that same gov’t also allows all types of depravity but that isn’t our subject. We all have our choices to make – I choose the narrow path of Scripture and I let it speak for itself.

    You are a strong advocate for those you consider weak or mistreated, even against strong Biblical evidence to the contrary of where you stand. Your arguments are situational & emotional. Mine are from a Biblical & unemotional standpoint. I’m not judging anyone who gets a divorce – I’m pointing out what scripture says.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. If you don’t choose to accept it then you’ll have to deal with the consequencs just as I’ll have to deal with mine. We’ve both made our choice.

    Now we disagree about: divorce, creation, wifely submission, obedience to scripture, and biblical authority. Did I miss anything? 😉

    Do we at least agree that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless and perfect life, performed many miracles, died on the cross, was resurrected on the 3rd day and currently sits at the right hand of God interceding for us? Do we agree that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Are we both – Thankful for grace?

    Want to let this one go for now?

    Jennifer and Lori:
    I do appreciate you both acknowledging that God hates divorce that was my whole premise. I don’t why we had to debate it like this.

  55. “I’ve never actually said that anyone should stay in a marriage. What I have said is that God hates divorce”

    Grace, for pity’s sake. I never contradicted that God hates divorce; didn’t you assume that? God is very much an advocate for the downtrodden, so I don’t know why YOU’RE debating either that or the divorce issue with me. I’m now to understand you never stood against people getting divorced, even when in situations like the one I described, when you clearly indicated otherwise in EVERY respect? What the devil?? You lost me here.

    If we don’t disagree about the fact that God hates divorce or that sometimes people should get out of bad marriages, then what are you disagreeing with me now about? Why are you saying that I’m all emotional and un-Scriptural if you don’t even disagree with me about how some SHOULD legally end unhealthy unions?

  56. Saved – “I don’t (know) why we had to debate it like this.”

    Well, because of certain understandings and misunderstandings, and because we’d hate someone having to suffer for applying a misunderstanding of Scripture to her life.

    For example, when I read:
    “Personally, if a Christian divorces, scripture is clear about remarriage.” I took it to mean that you believe that there both parties must be bound to the other until death. So I wanted to pipe in so that women who are currently suffering with a faithless husband would not be jailed in a broken covenant. Perhaps you would not consider that a divorcer though, after all, but being divorced. If that is the case, then I apologize for taking your time.

    “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”

    I addressed this because it has been a long standing tradition in many Christian churches to force spouses to stay with adulturous mates due to imphasis on this passage *at the cost* of the Mosaic laws and the ecclesiatical (not civil) applications of the case laws.

    “By adoption of the wickedness of divorce you destroy families for generations to come.”

    Just wanted women to know that if their husband has already broken their vow, she hasn’t adopted “the wickedness of divorce.” It’s all on him (well, it’s al on the adulturer – I’m talking about a certain case, but it’s applicable to either offending mate). Even if you and I are in agreement, it is helpful to spell it out since so few people are even versed in the laws, let alone have guidance on how they might apply today.

    And that is why it’s worth debating. Thank you for your time. I mean it.

  57. ” I wanted to pipe in so that women who are currently suffering with a faithless husband…”

    Actually I believe it to have further implications than just adultery. But would rather not continue on this tangent at this point…

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