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Part III - Does God Expect Me to Stay Married to a Jerk?

September 21, 2009
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Years ago, a family therapist was asked, “What are the top three causes of divorce?” to which he replied, “Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness!” Of course this is an oversimplification of the varied and many contributing factors to divorce but there is an element of truth in this statement that permeates each. 

At the core of all that ails the human race is selfishness: this innate love of self—self-worship—or pride. We alienate ourselves from one another when we elevate our desires, our opinions, and our feelings above others. We cheat and steal because we want, we lie and deceive because we give priority to our self-interests, we murder—in actuality or with words—because our puny sense of supremacy is threatened. This is the very sin that separates us from God: our love of self over and against the Father. In short, we are deplorably selfish beings consumed with satisfying our own appetites and desires, often without regard for anyone else. 

This is the dreadful state in which the Lord finds us—and despite our active resistance to his rightful rule in our hearts, our thoughts, and actions, he lovingly subdues our rebellious pride with his grace and mercy. He saves us from eternal alienation that our stubborn resistance brings! The old man, so infatuated with himself, is crucified and buried with Christ; we are raised to a new life in Christ (see Romans 6:4). However, this new life doesn’t just happen. Our will, once in bondage to sin, has been freed to pursue godliness in obedience to Christ through faith. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, tells us that we are to be taught to cast away our “old self” and “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24, NIV). C. S. Lewis summed it up in saying, “To become new men means losing what we now call ourselves” (Mere Christianity).

The clearest clue to what this new self looks like is given in Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5–7, NIV). This is a radical departure from our selfish nature into one that denies self even in the face of offense. This same nature is, of course, the foundation for marriage—but also all relationships.

In Ephesians, Paul lays out the foundation of marriage as being rooted in a mutual love and submission, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22, 25, NIV). Notice also that Paul begins this chapter with the charge to “Be imitators of God,” another reference to the disposition described in Philippians chapter two. Later in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares this joining of two people into “one flesh” to that of Christ and his bride, the church (see Ephesians 5:32). Thus marriage—this “profound mystery,” according to Paul—transcends anything resembling a mere contractual obligation. Nor is marriage simply a self-serving means to personal happiness; Christian couples should strive for and display this self-denying disposition.

Another aspect that should govern Christian marriage is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. 

Do we believe that when we suffer, we suffer outside the will of God, or do we believe that God allows suffering to enter our lives for his good purpose? Isn’t there the expectation that we, too, will share in the sufferings of Christ, that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV)? While we do not eagerly seek to suffer, don’t we believe that suffering bears sweet fruit nourished by bitter tears and that such fruit is nothing less than holy character (see Romans 5:2–4)? If we believe that God in his providence causes everything to “work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NLT), then wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that such suffering may also come in the form of a troubled marriage?

That being the case, wouldn’t we be expected to persevere rather than seek escape, trusting God for both endurance and the outcome? It is here—in the domain of our so-called domestic happiness—that we may be tempted to draw a boundary, saying, in essence, “Lord, you may come this far but no farther.” It is often in this context that the old self returns in an effort to assert his rights: “I need, I want, I deserve!” However, the Christian is compelled to lay down these rights and instead trust in God, believing that his grace is indeed sufficient in all things including an oppressive and loveless marriage. It is here that the Christian patiently endures, trusting the Lord for the grace to do so, and hopes for a future where God may be pleased to set things right. 

Please do not think I am suggesting that the person suffering physical abuse remain in a situation whereby he or she is subjected to physical harm. I am not! However, that is a topic for another time, as I am presently addressing divorce for no other reason than the failure to achieve personal “happiness.” This is where we Christians either begin to differ from the world or remain worldly. The Christian life does not culminate in a quest to be happy but to be holy! 

If our attitude is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus, then consider how Jesus responds to his frequently unfaithful bride, the church. Every one of us has, at some point, been unfaithful to Christ; we have wantonly rebelled against him, we have been indifferent, even abusive in our disregard toward him. We have all failed to love him at times and we constantly put our needs ahead of his. And yet Jesus never says to us, “That’s it, I’ve had it! I will not take this abuse anymore; you are selfish and uncaring; you don’t love me or make me feel special, so I am out of here!”  Can you imagine these words coming out of the Savior’s mouth? Never! 

So it is to be with us. For those poor souls who walk in darkness, there is no chance of assuming the self-denying character of Christ; but for those whom Christ has made alive, there is the all-sufficient well of grace. It is to Christ that the Christ-follower must go with his “irreconcilable differences,” not to the courts. It is only Christ who reconciles the unrighteous with the righteous and it is Christ that can reconcile husband and wife. 

The question for the church is this: Will we truly trust him in all things, including while we suffer through marital maelstroms? Will we follow Christ when it is most difficult? If we won’t, then not only will we fail in our witness, we will never know the freedom of living by faith

© 2009 by S. Michael Craven


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Response from : Marcella Snyder  

September 21, 2009 8:10 AM

What about mental abuse it is as destructive as physical but with no outside burses?

Response from : Stacey McCully  

September 21, 2009 8:40 AM

Excellent article and so true. After being married for 27 years, I can truly attest that there are many times in marriage that God uses to make us holy rather than happy! It is a message that all married couples need to hear today! thank you for boldly sharing it!

Response from : Glenn Paris  

September 21, 2009 9:32 AM

I think the key for Christians, who do know God's word and his promises, is to actually trust him to work in our situation. It easy to say it and see it for others but we don't trust God to work with OUR loved one and in His timing. I don't know why Christians have become so quick to take on worldly standards in a relationship that can be one of the most powerful generational witnesses. Not only does a godly marriage (good or bad) influence secular culture but it encourages the Christian community as well.

Response from : Nancy Meyer  

September 21, 2009 9:40 AM

Michael, you're absolutely right! God got my attention when I was in a terribly frustrating marital situation and asked ME to change. When I obeyed, the changes in me impacted my husband in such a positive way, our love came back and is now thriving after 25 years of marriage (which is still difficult a lot of the time). God can do so much more than all we ask or imagine--for our good, but most importantly for His glory.

Response from : Greg  

September 21, 2009 9:44 AM

Excellent article and thanks!

God bless in Christ!


Response from : Walker Joyce  

September 21, 2009 10:02 AM

Given your own divorce, aren't you being hypocritical here?

Response from : S. Michael Craven  

September 21, 2009 10:12 AM

Dear Mr. Joyce,

If you read my previous article then you would know that my previous marriage was to an unbeliever who divorced me, which would clearly fall under the exemption listed in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Finally, even if I were being "hypocritical" as you so charge, that still would not negate the Word of God. We don't follow each other; we follow Christ and this obedience is not conditioned upon whether or not others do the same.


Response from : eddie louis harris  

September 21, 2009 11:07 AM

AMEN to this article categorically and emphatically.

Response from : Julie Hamiilton  

September 21, 2009 4:45 PM

As I read this, the timing was excellent as another reminder for me. My family attended a wedding this weekend and the minister's message to the couple/guests was that, at times, we can expect God to use our marriage to continue to make us Holy, not necessarily "happy". And that if we expect marriage to make us happy, we have the wrong attitude and we will be disappointed. I think most couples getting married do go into the relationship with romantic expectations and that disillusionment can quickly occur when things don't happen the way that you expect them to, especially perhaps in that first year or so. He also stated that within marriage God intends for us to be focused (on our role as a spouse), forgiving (every day forgive your spouse), faithful (have a plan to remain faithful always), and fruitful (in our service to God with our spouse and children, if we are so blessed) - this had to be one of the best wedding messages I have ever heard. God bless everyone today who is persevering in their struggles and help us to not weary in doing good. Thank you!

Response from : Thomas Peck  

September 22, 2009 5:47 AM

Thank you for your articulation of a subject not discussed - our unhappiness that leads to God's glorification.
Today's emphasis on man-centered (or to be more PC - person-centered) problem-solving rather than God-centeredness counseling is part of the issue.
The other part is that we have made marriage something more than it is. Too many people go in it as a source of personal fulfillment and about having a kind of ultimate relationship when the reality is that it is about self-denial and sacrifice to another - which reflects Christ!
I am really appreciating these posts.

Response from : Julia Norman  

September 22, 2009 12:11 PM

This article is encouraging to me as I have been in a deeply unhappy marriage for many years. Things have improved a lot over the past few years, but no way could I say we are soul-mates or on the same wave-length, spiritually or emotionally. However, I chose to stay, even when I was being abused physically and emotionally. I had to cling to the Lord, to give me the strength to continue. My husband still refuses to consider anything to do with church altho he was a baptised believer when I met him. We have a loving relationship now, but there is still a yawning chasm in my heart, as we cannot connect on a spiritual level. God has stayed faithful to me and led me through the deep waters. My faith is stronger than ever and He has, and is, blessing me. My greatest blessing is that both my children serve the Lord despite their lop-sided spiritual upbringing.
Knowing that this life is not all there is, keeps me trusting God to sort out all injustice, even in a marriage, in His good time. Yes, sometimes we suffer in a marriage that is less than we crave but we can allow ourselves to grow and mature in Christ, as the far more important end to our story.

Response from : Becky  

September 22, 2009 12:50 PM

I just want to thank you for your article. I think some time we don't know how we effect those around us and I want you to know that you have allowed me to pass on a positive and hope filled article to a wonderful couple thinking of divorce. They saw a marriage counselor yesterday, but I really would like them to look more towards Christ and I believe this will open their eyes. Thank you again - I do believe God has used you for His glorious purpose.

Response from : Linda  

September 22, 2009 9:32 PM

I fully agree with all that you said in your article. For years, I have carried the guilt for the breakup of my marriage. Even though I did not file for the divorce, I bear the scars. My children bear the scars. With that caveat, I must say that we must be careful not to inflict more guilt on those of us who have suffered under the hand of an abusive spouse. Did he hit me? No. The emotional abuse in some ways just as devasting…the pornography, alcohol, drugs, humiliation of both me and my children. It was not physical abuse in the literal sense of the word but an abuse that has many the same effects of physical abuse. It takes a lifetime to overcome the damage. The guilt about the break up of the marriage will always be with me. Perhaps, I should have stayed and endured more of this treatment to suffer for His good purpose. Perhaps with more prayer, submission and less “self” I could have stayed. However, in those circumstances the desperate need to escape the pain becomes an all consuming desire.

Response from : Judy  

September 22, 2009 11:53 PM

I am in situation that I am married to a habitual adulteror. This latest has now become kown instead of secret, because he asked for a divorce so he could have a three month affair while iving out of our home. We have a 25 year marriage. He has told everyone, including our three adult children, that I have not loved him in the way that he needs and has found someone else that will. Who also left her husband, thus destroying two faimiies. After three months my husband decides that he wants to come back and that he loves me after all. What can you give me for this helpless situation?

Response from : Christine  

September 23, 2009 9:18 AM

Very, very good!. I wish every christian, married or unmarried would read this artcile, becuase even though your article addresses marital issues it is so applicable to other relational situations. Your biblical reasoning is sound and the logical conclusion skilfully presented. You certainly deserve an "A".

Response from : Ross L. Gillum  

September 23, 2009 5:55 PM

The best analysis of this simple "yes" answer I have ever seen. It amazes me that anyone, including my first wife can leave a spouse for any other reason than adultery. Christians are exhorted to study the Word, and thank you for obviously doing that before you wrote this. God Bless you.

Response from : christy jo cronau  

September 24, 2009 11:30 AM

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!!!! This has changed my life. I am constantly given advice to get out of my marriaqge. I made the choice to marry an unbeliever....and it is a struggle to be unequally yoked....but we love one another....It's so easy to find fault and feel supreme with our christianity.....I will have your article tucked in my bible from this day forward....Thank you so very much for your obedience to the Lord!!!!

Response from : Tom Matichuk  

September 25, 2009 8:16 AM

After being divorced against my wishes and subsequently serving as a DivorceCare support group facilitator for seven years, I've seen many divorces that can be attributed not just to selfishness, but to unchallenged selfishness. All of us need voices in our lives (in addition to God's Word) to steer us away from the ditch of selfishness. Unfortunately, this is not very common in marriage, whether from outside friends and influences or from our own spouse. To me it seems that the cultural goal of personal happiness and the cultural weakness of poor conflict resolution skills has played a major role in the frequency of divorce. All of us, including the spouses in cold or troubled marriages, need to not only be in God's Word in general, but need to put into practice God's principles for life, including conflict resolution in Matthew 18. Specifically, we need to challenge those around (with the goal of reconciliation) us when they exemplify selfishness, INCLUDING our own spouse!

Tom Matichuk

Response from : Ellen Moon  

September 25, 2009 9:59 AM

Hello Michael, I read your article the instant I saw it! Thank you for your words so full of God's Word. I do want to say that I married my husband 25 years ago out of duty. I stayed married out of duty. I "chose" joy and love everyday instead of "feeling" it with all my heart. Now that my children are grown, I see a glimmer of hope that I could be free from these chains. It saddened me to see that you only mentioned physical abuse as a reason to not stay in a marriage. Some of us do not "seek happiness" by leaving our loveless marriages, but seek to not die any longer. Trust me that there is a place where it is more brave and strong to "leave" than it is to stay.
I hope that you and all the readers never know this place. It isn't a place that I ever dreamed that I would be, but now that I am here, I find that God is here with me. He walks with those of us in the middle of divorce just like He walks with those who "stick it out". (as you might put it.) Please continue to write. You have a gift.

Response from : Katie  

September 25, 2009 10:12 AM

I truly enjoyed your article and you make such a profound point but I do have one question that goes a bit further. I love how you use the analogy that we are often unfaithful to our bridegroom Christ but how would you advise a wife who is married not only to a jerk but a jerk who has a sexual addiction and will not end a 4 year affair but also refuses to divorce his wife? My mother is that wife and my father will not file for divorce but also will not cut off the relationship with his mistress. In addition, if he does end the affair (or at least says he does), how then would you advise the wife to proceed if her husband is unwilling to work on any type of reconciliation? My mother is willing to reconcile because she understands that is God's desire for their marriage, but do you just go on day after day, month after month hoping he will change his mind? We are all so unclear as to what scripture says about this. It is in essence abuse of the sexual and emotional nature, not physical but my mom just doesn't know what Christ would have her to do. If she feels peace about filing for divorce, do you think it is the right thing to do?

Response from : Shelley  

September 25, 2009 10:26 AM

My relationship with God was built after my divorce. My son is now very much caught in the middle. Any thoughts on how this can be handled?

Response from : Lynda Rice  

September 25, 2009 11:29 AM

God is so alive today in our hearts when we truly seek Him. The article here speaks truth to my heart and soul. I say that I have faith in God and I trust him, but my actions re: my marriages, yes plural speak otherwise. I have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride, since I married. All of my marraiges have been abusive. Physically and mentally. I have cried out to God for help in knowing whether I should stay or leave. The present marraige is physical only when I can not accept any more emotional abuse.

Response from : Brenda Smoot  

September 25, 2009 11:31 AM

I have studied marriage for many decades now both in experience and the word of God and in the presence of God; beginning with the horrendous marriage of my parents and following in their footsteps on my own. Please be careful when you approach this subject and beware of judgment. I am often amused with the advice of authors instructing everyone to remain in a marriage based on biblical theory no doubt to preserver in a marriage that first all God did not ordain nor is He able to bless or intervene because of the theories thrust upon everyone to press on when the truth is ~ It is far beyond the marriage it is about the son and/or the daughter of the Most High that My Father, My Lord and My Holy Spirit are more interested in than the marriage itself. And further more I and the Trinity have grown weary with the phrase "broken home". My home was broken and it was not because of a divorce it is all that lead up to the divorce the divorce was the reconstructive surgery procedure that was implemented to heal my home. Just because I am a single working mother does not make my home broken. He is the husband to the husbandless and the father to the fatherless and I assure you that He took that role long before the divorce occurred. No I am not an advocate for divorce because I know firsthand and second hand the tribulations that are incurred before, during and after but it is worth it because now my home is not broken ~ I fixed it in the Name of Jesus! There are so many different ways selfishness occurs in any relationship but once it occurs in a marriage it is devasting. Adultry can occur in many ways other than the obivious and those are the hidden ways that have been expected by the church of the people. Notice I did not say God's church because we have not begun to love each other yet in the way that He would call us His people, the church loves the world way and this is why so many are still suffering. We do not get it yet, time is running out the games need to stop and love needs to be the place it should to produce The Church.

Response from : PM Lovell  

September 25, 2009 11:55 AM

From the article I get the impression Mr. Cravens suggests compareing the unfaithful church to unfaithful spouses. I prayed long and hard to make the right decision after drugs and all the effects of them entered our marriage. I believed in my heart the only reasons for divorce were abuse & unfaithfulness. When my spouse declared he did not believe in God and I found our for sure he had been unfaithful with his body. I finally dicided to end the marriage. Was I wrong?

Response from : Debra Carter  

September 25, 2009 12:09 PM

I am 58 and was married to a jerk in all sense of the word, It took a very long time to relize it was God who carried me through.My husband ran women like he was a stream and they were water but I stuck it through but I could not without prayer from my family and the grace and mercy of God. If you feel your husband is worth the work sweat and mental anguish stay in there butby all means "LEAN TOtally oN GOD".

Response from : Sonja Anderson  

September 25, 2009 12:26 PM

Your article never addresses the SIN being perpetrated by the jerk...are we to allow the emotional abuse to go unchecked in the hope that bitter tears will convict him? If the jerk is a professing Christian, you are not addressing his SIN by turning a blind eye and expecting his spouse to cry away her life. The Church is called on to address all other sin, why would you over look this one? Also, most abused spouses are not ready to bail out until it has gone on for years, putting up with that SIN for far too long. Only Church support can give them strength to meet it head on. You ignored all verbal and emotional aspects of abuse. This is a grave oversight. Only the head-on confrontation of that SIN will convict the jerk...he is immune to the bitter tears he is causing, and his relationship with Christ cannot be all Christ desires if the Church blindly allows him to continue unrepentant and unconfronted. No wonder the divorce statistics are equal to the unchurched world, when Christian leaders shy away from confronting the one sin which could lead to total healing of it's men who are lost in the quagmire of selfishness. You also fail to address WHY he is lost in this sin, which is a great oversight. Check out Lifeskills International for the answer to that. Paul Hegstrom has answered it at length, and it has led to the only healing we have ever found which preserves the heart of the man while evicting the sin of selfishness. It is far more complicated than your simplistic article indicates. My Jesus called my spouse and I to heal, not to cry anymore. It was hard work, but the tears have stopped. The extra critical element was a church body happy to address being a jerk as a SIN. If only you would too.

Response from : Anabel  

September 25, 2009 12:33 PM

How does this apply to spouses with addictions-chemical and sexual or with criminal histories --DWI or sting operations involving prostitutes? What if there are kids in the marriage and at times the parent doesnt come home until the next morning after partying all night?

I believe that God can definetely work in all situations.

Response from : Ron  

September 25, 2009 2:11 PM

Does God want me to stay married to another believer who has abandon me and our marriage, which is spiritually dead?

I haven't seen my wife in 4 years and 8 months, by her choice!

I have been trying! She refuses to go to church together, there is no acts of kindness from her, she refuse to even come to a win-win solution to work towards reconcilation! She says she wants the marriage, but by her actions, faith without deeds, she doesn't want me either! Forget about mercy, grace and forgivness, even though she says, she loves the Lord with all her heart, mind, strength and soul. She says, she is doing what God wants her to do and right where God wants her to be!
We tried counseling, but she still refuses to be civil, kind and talk to me with love! As she writes, In Christ Love! To me, this is mental abuse and disrespect! Does God want me to live like this?

Response from : isabella  

September 25, 2009 2:51 PM

This article speaks right to my situation. I pray I will remember these truths when my marriage is most challenging. THANK YOU

Response from : Renee  

September 25, 2009 6:12 PM

This is a fabulous article. If everyone (having troubles whether in marriage or life in general) would just go to the Bible and seek help and knowledge.Their lives and those around them would be so much more happy and more fulfilled. The divorce rate in this country and world-wide would no doubt decrease! Thank you so much for your wonderful and very informative article. God's Blessings To You

Response from : Jessica Young  

September 25, 2009 7:16 PM

I think that throughout your article you have good intentions but are neglecting to mention the fact that the bible does state that if you can not live in peace with one another that you are to separate. I believe that GOD knew what He was doing when He allowed that scripture to be put into the bible, and that is where I am at in my walk with GOD and my marriage. We do nothing but fight everyday and we have been through biblical counseling and there is no lasting fruit, and I feel like I have lost my walk with the LORD. I have a 12 year old son and just had a baby. We have only been married for 15 months.

Response from : Lakisha  

September 25, 2009 8:17 PM

This article is profound, and definetly Holy Ghost inspired. The words were encouaging and confirmation to what the Spirit of the Lord has been saying. Thanking you for being the peculiar person and coming out of the worlds way of thinking and taking on the very desire of our Fathers heart.

Response from : Joelle Paquette  

September 26, 2009 12:36 AM

I read your article with great interest. I think every marriage is unique for the simple reason is that only the two partners involved truly know what is going on in their union together. I cannot truly believe that the God I've come to know personally would want me to stay in a marriage that brings me no peace only strife. The Lord states in the Bible He hates divorce. I can fully believe that He does but, on the other hand, He is the only one who can advise any married couple whether to stay or leave the marriage. I've known too many couples who have told me they don't wish to divorce because their church doesn't allow it. Yet they both lived miserable lives in front of their children and nothing good has come out of this scenario. There are certain things in the christian walk where only the people involved can make a wise decision by asking the Lord what they should do or not do. I don't believe giving advice to married individuals is given to all preachers, teachers etc. I think if a preacher etc has never been married God does not annoint such a person to help couples who are having difficulty in their marriage. What I do truly believe is that the Lord wants every individual who wishes to marry to ask Him if that is the right person for them. I, also, believe that when there is any type of abuse again the person should be asking the Lord what he/she should do. When a male asks a woman to marry him both of them should be christians and make sure that God approves of their marriage before hand. Once married if any christian finds himself/herself in an abusive marriage they should turn to the Lord and get his wisdom in which way they should go or leave. If a christian marries someone who is not at their level in their walk with the Lord strife always follows. When Paul compared the joining of two people into "one flesh" to that of Christ and his bride, the church one has to remember that it is the Lord who asks us to receive his salvation. God is perfect and we as christians strive to become like Him but never completely achieve it till we get to heaven. What I know about marriage is too long to explain but I do know one thing that the Lord I know and love does want each and everyone of us to be happy in our marriage. We are allowed to divorce if we are in a marriage where there is only strife. If one did not ask the Lord if their partner in marriage was the right one for them then it stands to reason that they will suffer the consequences thereof. One of my prayers is that preachers etc will teach more on praying about who to or not marry and wait for His answer. In most churches I also have noticed that certain sins as they call them are made to be worse than others. The Lord I know does not make one sin worse than the other. I wish all the church leaders would come to realize that the Lord does not single out one sin as the end to it all. Thank you for reading my response. God Bless You

Response from : Rosemarie Barnes  

September 26, 2009 9:21 AM

I have a husband who puts both of us at risk of losing our home and becoming homeless.What does god say about not being responsible?

Response from : Tom  

September 26, 2009 7:47 PM

Well done, knocked this one out of the park, especially with the great (but unpopular) truth that "The Christian life does not culminate in a quest [or right!] to be happy, but to be holy." Many of us have found, of course, that the wonderful paradox is that true happiness is found when holiness, not happiness, is our goal. This is especially true for marriage; after 25+ years, I finally found happiness - and peace - in my marriage when I realized that it wasn't about my happiness, but His glory. Again, well done...and thank you for a great article.

Response from : Ralph Goe  

September 26, 2009 8:25 PM

Jesus has told us that we will not enter Heaven unless we repent and turn from our sins, is that not a form of rejection of those who will not do things HIS way. I realize it is for our good that we do things HIS way and I do not protest HIS requirements, but if we don't, we will be rejected. If in marriage, which has it's own necessary procedures and/or requirements for it to be called a marriage, why is it wrong for one to agree to end it if the other refuses to follow those accepted and biblically stated instructions and procedures. Are there not requirements for the two involved in a marriage to fulfill in the marriage vows?
This is a question that I would like to hear your opinion on.

Thanks, Ralph Goe

Response from : Tammy  

September 26, 2009 11:29 PM

I do agree with most of your article, however, I most disagree with your idea of putting up with poor behavior waiting for change. In most cases I have witnessed where enabling is taken place by saintly enduring poor unacceptable behavior. Not only is the enabler unhappy but the controler is too. The enabler is keeping the controler from changing and growing up because the enabler always gives in to maintain the relationship in a "christian perspective". I do not believe that is what God wants from his children or other children to veiw such a marriage as godly marriage.

Response from : Billy Miller  

September 27, 2009 12:26 AM

God drew the blueprint for the spiritual institution, made the list of specifications, and put them into place...with ONE man and ONE woman...for...LIFE. They had no one else to go to, and THAT was on purpose.
"What God has joined together, let no man put asunder", after much study, comes up saying "Marriage is a GOD thing, a one-flesh relationship that HE establishes at the point of hearing all the vows and an "I do", and NO ONE has His authority or His power to undo that relationship. No "man of the cloth, no judge and court system, and no individual in that relationship.
Some say that adultery is a/the reason for divorce, but it is FORNICATION and THAT is what Joseph thought Mary was guilty of, and that is because they had not consummated their marriage until after Jesus was born. He was getting ready to give her a Writ of Divorce, saying that she had NOT committed adultery and, therefore, was not to be stoned to death.

Response from : marian thompson  

September 27, 2009 12:58 PM

I agree with you completely. Christians today need to become spiritual i.e walk in the spirit and die to self or flesh.Christ never called us to a stress free life but He assured us that when we go through, He will be there with us!Our victory is assured if we do things His way!

Response from : Grace  

September 27, 2009 6:38 PM

Great article! :) I am very much studying the topic as my marriage is on the rocks. Inasmuch as I understand that suffering is often used by God, I also believe that God meant marriage to be a blessing to both the parties. I can tolerate many many things but what would you do if your spouse didn't really share your faith and wanted to live contrary to your faith and what is more didn't really share your priorities and values in bringing up the kids? The tension between the spouses hurts the kids as well. I really am not sure a long suffering mother has more wisdom and can be a better teacher and a blessing than a cherished (by the husband), happy one! Do you really believe that Christians are to be stuck in relationships that make them miserable? It is a really hard topic for me. Or, we could rephrase the question. Do you believe that some Christians make mistakes in their choice of a spouse? My main worry is not only the personal happiness of the partners but the spiritual, emotional and mental health of the children who can perceive all the vibes between the parents no matter how hard they pretend everything is alright and they are happy clappy...

Response from : shannise jackson  

September 28, 2009 9:32 AM

The article, Does God Expect Me to Stay Married to a Jerk spoke on some key principles that I was revisiting in my walk with Christ. We are to suffer with him as well as reign with him and that does not exclude marriage, work, or any other aspect of our daily lives. I agree with this and I believe this but my dilemma is what happens when suffering becomes to difficult to bear emotionally, mentally, or even physically. I know a couple who are going through a difficult time because of infedility. The spouse guilty of this refuses to admit to it or even ask for forgiveness and this leaves the other person in a state of perpetual turmoil. The phone calls from the other woman have not stopped. So the wife has chosen to seperate from her husband. She has not divorced but she has removed herself from the home. What about seperation is it wrong and when is it right?

Response from : pamp51  

September 28, 2009 10:07 AM

Physical abuse is almost a give, but what about phycological & emotional abuse. After he stopped beating me his verbal abuse became worse and so did his mind games. I was a total wreck 22 yrs later when I finally decided to leave him and it took all of whatever little fight I had left. I have been divorced now 5 yrs and alot of the sermons and articles make it sound like I should have never left. I am happy I left and I don't want to be made to feel like I should be guilty or something.

Response from : Bev Moore  

September 28, 2009 11:08 AM

I love the article on marriage but i am divorced for the second time although my ex and i were baptised at the same time but we didnt get it. that was about fifteen years ago and he walked out twelve years ago and is trying to get a portion of my retirement and has got me in court all the time and it has not gone through yet. I am a more understood christian. after studying the word of god I am getting it. I dont think it is right in the eyes of god for him to be behaving this way. I have put it in the hands of god for I have the faith that everything will come out ok as long as I stay focused on god. please pray for me that everything works out. love Bev Moore

http://outllook express

Response from : shelia moore  

September 28, 2009 12:59 PM

This was a great article! The only problem was using the NIV. The KJV supports everything you wrote about. The NIV doesn't. The NIV teaches pride and that we should boast, and also to be "imitators" of Christ. The KJV teaches us to be "followers" of Christ. Anyone can imitate anything. I can imitate a dog but it doesn't make me a dog or anything close. Jesus wants followers!! Not imitators! Stick with the KJV! The NIV says, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!" How horrible!! It's NOT hard to be saved! In II Cor. 1:14, the NIV says, "Be proud". In Heb. 3:6, it says to "boast". The NIV omits 17 verses and another 64,000 words! The NIV is blasphemous when it calls Lucifer the "morning star" in Isaiah 14:12-15. Christians know that according to Revelations, JESUS is the morning star!! I repeat! Stick with your KJV.....trash the NIV! You absolutely can't go wrong with the KJV!
Thanks for taking the time to read this! And again, I enjoyed your article!

shelia moore

Response from : njackson  

September 28, 2009 1:31 PM

I found this article very touching . I am in a quest seeking God for answers of whether or not to give my husband another chance, after finding that he had been involved in an emotional affair. He says he wants our marriage,however, I am so tired of the disappointments. I had been trusting God to heal our marriage , as there were issues before the emotional affair.My husband has ended the affair, but I don't know if I am being shown who this man really is and given a way out or if this is part of the sufferings and many tribulations that we must endure. Is God allowing this suffering to enter our lives for his good purpose?

Response from :  

September 28, 2009 4:03 PM

I am so thankful that I read this article. I am right now going through marital strife and had contemplated divorce, which is ironic because I don't believe in divorce. Today was the first day I ever read an article from this website and can't wait to subscribe to the daily commentary. I am so grateful that God used this article to minister to me and hopefully one day I can share it with my spouse. Your article gives me hope for my situation and I pray that others will be receptive to what I believe to be Godly counsel. Blessings!!

Response from : Martha E  

September 28, 2009 8:59 PM

It depends on wheteher it is a true Covenant Marriage or not. There are a lot of people standing for 2nd , 3rd, etc marriages saying that since their partner broke the covenant they are no longer tied to their first mate. Didn't God say till death do you part. We can violate covenant but only God can break it, after all he created marriage and says he HATES Divorce. How can there be a second covenant marriage when God would have to brfeak that from being a Covenant

Response from : Judy  

September 28, 2009 9:01 PM

I am a believer. I believe selfishness is the root to many unhappy marriages. When adultery continues to enter the marriage, I don't believe God wants you to remain in that relationship. If a person has truly repented from adultery, there will be evidence through their actions. Sometimes a forgiving heart and niceness is taken for granted.

Response from : Narda  

September 29, 2009 7:50 AM

I have been married for 20 years, I am 40 years old. I did not know it at the time but I married a selfish man who is only after his own happiness. He has walked away from going to church, does not want to hear the word of God, does not care for my daughter and he does not remember any important dates with regards to us or our child. Lately, I have been asking God is this what you want for us. I know the Lord has carried me thourgh many things these last 20 years and I am trusting Him to continue to carry me in His hands. Divorce is not an option, thank you for your article and please pray for our family. Sincrely, Narda

Response from : Judy Lim  

September 29, 2009 8:42 AM

I thought this article was very interesting in many ways. I am going thru another marital issue with the same man of 26 years. Alcoholism, I stood with him, knowing that Christ would help us and he did. My husband got sober after loosing his license for the 4th time for 10 years. He vowed to stay sober not to loose his family, but decided after two years of going to AA meetings that he did not need this anymore. I pleaded, for him to continue but he did not, so I was left with a dry drunk and my children and I suffered due to a person not changing his mind, heart or attitude. I fell into the pattern of being verbally abused and protecting me and my children from this over the years. Many things have happened in those next 8 years including my husband smoking pot and drinking again. Which is where I am right now. My 16 year old son has very low self esteem, regardless of what I tried to do to keep it up. Cause both boys want the respest and love of their dad. My 16 year old is now living with a family in AZ, our choice. Not happy but glad he is not getting made of fun of, yelled at and verbally abused. I am going to therapy, however, first and foremost look to Jesue and Jehovah to help me thru this and to change this man. So, am I selfish? I have been with my husband for 26 years enduring and looking to Christ for help, which I will not stop doing, but I have given my husband an ultimatum. Get sober, get help or get out! How many times can I go thru this?

Response from : Rushdi  

September 29, 2009 12:02 PM

No one is complete, (sinless) then why are those pastors teach that divorce is a sin, while the one who want divorce about to hurt his or her spouse and some of them already hate their spouse and about to commit really sins, we all could come back to Jesus ask him to forgive our divorce sin, like what we do for the rest of our sins, I understand that the pastor doesn’t want his name to be mentioned that he told someone to commit a divorce. Or any other sin.

Response from : Maureen C. Lauer  

October 5, 2009 2:13 PM


Response from : Daniel Parlos  

October 6, 2009 12:46 PM

Your article is excellent from a teaching standpoint. I wholeheartedly agree that we should count all of our trails as teaching tools of the Lord. He is sovereign, knowing all things.
However, there is one area that should be addressed, & that is when it crosses over to emotional abuse.

When a selfish spouse perpetuates their behavior, this can very often cross over into emotional abuse, and can be as damaging as physical abuse. This sort of abuse can be far reaching as well, extending into the relationships with the children & the extended family. I speak from experience, & I see the damage that occurs from a selfish spouse. Sometimes it gets to the point when it is hard to believe that they are even saved, or a christian, because their behavior is so bad. And I would have to believe that in some cases, especially when there is a refusal to change, & they are unteachable, it could be argued that there would be a biblical case for a separation, or even a divorce.


Response from : adrian  

October 29, 2009 11:04 PM

my God!so well put!i was soo discouraged today til i read this article,this put things in perspective for me.

Response from : andrea banks  

October 30, 2009 1:12 PM

AMEN! You are absolutely correct is saying most divorces are caused by selfishness also and unwillingness to
walk in love. I believe it's time for
the real christians to stand up and walk the walk and not just talk the talk

Response from : JODY  

November 1, 2009 7:02 PM

after the death of both are children within 14 months and him having diabetes and ed does god still expect us to stay together?

Response from : Joyce Brown  

November 4, 2009 8:13 AM

Thank you so much for your article. It is God's answer to my prayer. I feel I am long-suffering elsewhere except where I cross the line in marital problems as your article indicated. The Lord is showing me things that I did not surrender to HIM. I kind of knew it, but I guess I needed someone to "spell it out." Thank you again.

Response from : Anita  

November 4, 2009 8:39 PM

I want out so bad it hurts.

Response from : Stella  

November 29, 2009 10:41 PM

I feel the pain of those married to jerks; i.e. extremely selfish people who walk in darkness and are incapable of recognizing their hurtful actions/words. But thank you for writing an article directed to me - a believer, someone who knows Christ, who believes God's word. Thank you for not speaking to my pain, but for teaching God's word. I admit some days are worse and I seek confirmation of both my pain and my "right" to leave. Yet some days are not so bad because I look to my Heavenly Father for guidance and for fulfillment - love from Love Himself. I press on because He gives me the strength to carry on; I continue on because it's about Him and not about me. I do my best trusting Him to complete the work - both the work He has started in me and the work He plans for my husband. I cannot see the big picture but I can trust in God, the Creator of all things, the Author of our lives. But some days I need help; some days it's worse and harder to get the focus off myself and onto God and His "mission" - I'm here for the ride, as He uses me to call others to Himself. So I pray for my unbelieving spouse and I pray for our unbelieving children - knowing that God hears my prayers with compassion and that prayer is not futile. Prayer has carried me this far - through the fear of financial problems, teenage difficulties, through lessons in self-control and boundaries, and through loneliness. I pray for others who are in my same type of situation, that you will wake up with your eyes on God and let Him fill you up daily with His wisdom, peace, and grace before going forth in your own strength. Consider this: great people of the bible, whom God commended, suffered great trials - so we're in good company :)

Response from : Debra Zaragoza  

December 13, 2009 1:24 AM

WOW! This article certainly hit me where I needed it. I am in a very immature 5 year old marriage, where neither of us is thinking of the other person. I have often had thoughts of leaving my husband. This article caused me to think about how I should respond as Christ does. I plan to print this article and review it often. Thank you for posting it!

Response from : Mary BETH Hauser  

December 21, 2009 11:15 AM

I'm struggling. Does God expect us to live with a steady diet of belittlement and verbal abuse? Of being told to "get out" and forbidden to take the reliable car - with a few dollars in my pocket? Does God expect me to live with a man who needs to put me and my son down to make himself feel beter - both publicly and privately? Specific scriptures would be helpful.

Response from : Susan Foreacre  

December 28, 2009 11:21 AM

I am confused the same as Mary Hauser, does God expect us to continue to be in a relationship where there is emotional abuse, does God expect us to live with a man who is constantly negative and putting you and your children down?

Response from : S. Michael Craven  

January 12, 2010 9:17 AM

Dear Susan & Mary Beth,

I realize that suffering in a marital relationship is painful and liberation seems the best and most apparent option. But the Lord is sovereign and He alone will liberate you when and if He chooses. He may also reconcile the situation. However, in the meantime, we trust in Him knowing that He causes all things to work together for good. He knows your circumstances, He has allowed your circumstances and He asks us to trust Him regardless of the circumstance. The words of Peter underscore this strongly when he writes, "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures suffering unjustly" (1 Peter 2:19). There is no exception clause simply because the suffering occurs in our most intimate of personal relationships: marriage. Hold fast to what is true and trust Him for He is your only hope in any circumstance.


Response from : angela voigt  

March 29, 2010 9:55 AM

Thank you for that article, it was a God send for me today! I am a youth ministers wife and we are both at our wits end with each other. We are and have in the past gone to counciling but we simply do not live well together and I am desperately praying for Gods deliverance for our home

Response from : Michelle Bell  

January 17, 2012 11:31 AM

This is a most excellent article!!! Probably THE BEST I have ever read on Christians suffering in marriage. I don't know you Mr. Craven, but the Lord bless you for the TRUTH of this article; that's some good insight and some deep revelation on the matter. This ought to help set a lotta folks free!!! I'm going back to read it again, cause I may definitely need to quote you!!! Glory to His Name!!!

Response from : Tom Anstead  

May 9, 2013 6:12 PM

"Happiness" comes from DOING THE RIGHT THING.


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