By Jean Gasho
Divorce is a very sensitive topic, especially among believers. The church hardly speaks about it. Half the time there is a lot of stigma and blame on the divorced woman. I found myself in the predicament of divorce without any fore warning. I had always been taught that the only biblical grounds for divorce is adultery. But I was not being divorced for adultery, or for fornication, I was simply being divorced because my ex husband had no love or compassion for me. Whatever form of love he had ever had for me (that is if he had ever had it) had turned into hatred and hostility. I was left in a valley of confusion and shock. I asked God why and how. Was I not a good enough wife for him? Christians were telling me the only grounds for divorce was adultery, so it seemed to me whatever was happening God was not in it and I was being punished for something I did not know. Part of me even felt like the divorce was some form of curse, or just being unlucky. Like it was some form of mistake that was not meant to happen. I tried everything I could do in my power to reverse the curse. I just wanted to undo the divorce and fix the marriage, because to me there was no biblical grounds for divorce. It just wasn’t supposed to happen. I pleaded with God. I fasted. I prayed. I begged and cried. “But God you hate divorce…why then have you allowed me to be separated from my husband and the father of my children, this is all wrong.”
God was answering me but I wasn’t listening. I wanted Him to tell me that my ex husband was going to come back to me and everything was going to be okay. The more I prayed, the more God pushed my ex husband away. The more I prayed, the more cruel my ex husband was to me. Then in the storm, I had to learn to listen to God, and in a still small voice God answered me…”He is not your husband, because he does not love you. If he was your husband, he would not have put you away…” God could not change my ex husband’s heart to make him love me…I had to let him go.
God taught me something no preacher had ever taught me before. Adultery is not the only cause for divorce, it is the main valid ground for divorce, but because of the hardness of the hearts of men, a man can divorce his wife for anything, he is not supposed to, but God allows him to release the woman from such a marriage, if he has no love for her. As difficult as it is, its an act of grace on the woman. God is freeing you from a lifetime of abuse and pain. Marriage is meant to be for life, till death do you part. That was God’s original plan of marriage. But we live in a fallen world. The love of many has waxed cold. The hearts of many are hard. God does allow divorce. Its not a one shoe fit all matter. Every situation is different. Every situation is complex. We have to get our judging hats off. I learnt that God has so much compassion and mercy on a woman who is being cast away, even though the world stigmatises and judges divorced women. This is the scripture He comforted me with,
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. Isaiah 54: 3-6″
God showed me that He was allowing me to be divorced. He told me to let the marriage go. I believe many women find themselves in such a situation. I am not saying one should be quick to divorce and not work at their marriage. Of course for marriages to succeed it takes hard work. But there are situations where the marriage is dead, no matter how hard the woman tries, the man does not love you and he wants you out of his life…you have to allow yourself to be divorced for your own good. The man was not good enough for you. Here are some biblical reasons I learnt that allows a woman to be divorced from her husband.
1.Lack Of Love
The bible makes it clear that a man aught to love his wife as Christ loves the church. He is meant to love and cherish you and treat you as the weaker vessel, with tender love and care. When a man ceases to fulfil this divine call of loving his wife, he has broken the covenant of marriage. Love is the most important gift God has given us, its the main reason we marry. God does not want you in a marriage that doesn’t have the basic foundation, love. The bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them, Colosians 3:19. If the love is no longer there, and the man is leaving you because he just doesn’t love you, do not hang on to him. Allow yourself to be divorced and be freed from the bondage.
2. Abuse of children
Abuse of children is one of the main overlooked reasons for divorce. I had a close friend of mine who was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by her own father as a child yet her mother still stood by her husband and did not leave him or report the matter to the authorities. This is a reality that happens a lot, an unspoken reality. Some women will choose a man over the safety and security of their own children. Its tragic. Incest was a sin punished by death in Leviticus 18, so by default a man who abuses his children sexually is dead spiritually, and no longer your husband. Some men also allows their children to be subjected to abuse and are a risk to them. I was once married to a man who esteemed paedophiles and was willing to put his own children at risk of sexual predators. There is no way God can allow innocent children to be subjected to abuse in the name of marriage, as a mother it is your duty to flee such a situation and protect your children. Not only from sexual abuse, but other forms of abuse too. This is a valid reason to be released from the bonds of such a destructive marriage.
If a man is constantly cheating on you, and taking away the affection that is supposed to be for you and giving it to another woman, then God allows you to be released from such a marriage. Adultery destroys a woman’s self esteem and self worth. The covenant of marriage is automatically broken by this sin. Trust is broken by this selfish act. Women are generally very loving and forgiving to cheating husbands, which is a good thing, for forgiveness is always the first step of healing in such a situation. But forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation, especially if the husband is not repentant of his actions. If its a one off incident where the husband is repentant and willing to change, then there is no reason why reconciliation can not be the first option, for God hates divorce. And we should be long-suffering and forgiving and work at our marriages. But if the adultery is a lifestyle and there is no repentance whatsoever, then this is abuse and its not wise to remain in such a cruel marriage. God even says to men, “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth, Malachi 2:15”
4. Emotional Abuse
One of the most overlooked form of abuse to women, yet the most painful with longer lasting effects. Emotional abuse has devastating consequences on relationships and all those involved, especially children. Just because there is no physical mark doesn’t mean the abuse isn’t real and isn’t a problem or even a crime in some countries. Emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse includes acts of verbal aggression, intimidation, isolation, humiliation or any treatment which may diminish sense of identity, self esteem, self worth and dignity. Victims of emotional abuse show personality changes and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal. I suffered so much emotional abuse from my ex husband and his family I almost lost the will to live. God does not want you to emotionally abused to the point of being anxious or depressed. This is never the will of God in marriage.
5. Financial Abandonment
As trivial as this may sound, the bible says money answers all things. A man is supposed to be the head of the household and provider for his family. Its different when your husband is lacking and you are being his helper. You do not divorce your husband because he is poor and doesn’t have much money, that is wrong and materialistic. Marriage is for the richer and for poorer. But when a man has enough financial resources to be a provider for his family and refuses to take up this responsibly by denying you money, then it is financial abuse and its wrong. Even in biblical times when polygamy was permitted, a man was commanded not to deny the first wife her financial rights, which was food and clothing, Exodus 21:10. There are some men who are so abusive they will deny their wives food and even money to buy sanitary towels. That is how serious financial abandonment can be. God did not permit it in the bible, and still today it is a serious form of abuse.
Although the bible says spouses should not deny each other conjugal rights, it does not mean you should be sexually abused by your husband. Sexual abuse in marriage includes being forced to have sex when you are unable to, being subjected to sexual acts you are not comfortable with, examples include being forced to watch pornography, acts of bondage, anal sex or being made to perform sexual acts on your husband you are not comfortable to perform. These are all forms of sexual abuse. Your body is the temple of the holy spirit and you should not be forced to perform sexual acts which are demoralizing to you and cause you to sin. Sex should be of mutual consent even in marriage, and violation of your sexual rights is a cause for you to be released from such a union, even if its for a temporary season until your husband seeks spiritual and profession help. Sexual addiction is a condition that can destroy marriages.
7. Denial Of Children
Children are important part and a basic fruit of marriage. The fruit of the womb is a reward and gift from God. Women desire children, its a God given desire. We were born to be mothers, its in us and no man should take that away from you, even your husband. “But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety, 1 Timothy 2:15″. Childbearing is our redemption as women, but sadly at times there are men who do not want to have children, or will subject their wives to having only one child, when the wife is yearning for more children. Did God not say be fruitful and multiply? It is your God given right to bear children, of course you sit down together and plan your family with your spouse, but when it comes to a point of completely denying you children, then its a clear indication you should not be in that marriage. Its a fruitless marriage. In Genesis 38:8 God killed Onan for failing to give Tamar a child, when he let his seed spew on the ground God called it wickedness.
8. Denial of sex
The bible makes it clear that sex is a conjugal right, not to be denied. In Exodus 21: 10 God even commands men who take second wives not to deny their first wives off their sexual rights. A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other’s sexual needs, 1 Corinthians 7:3. Both husband and wife have a duty to meet the sexual needs of each other. Its extremely important in marriage. Once we neglect to full-fill this need in our spouse, we are causing them to be tempted to sin, by either adultery, watching porn or resorting to masturbation. Sexual appetite is a healthy desire which is God given and its to be satisfied on the marriage bed. When the marriage becomes sexless, then a covenant is broken. Denial of sex is a form of abuse in marriage.
9: Unequally Yoked
If you are a believer, and your husband is an unbeliever who is not happy with your faith and for that reason he can not be with you then you should allow him to divorce you. If he is the one who wants to leave, allow him in peace, for you are not bound by the law in such circumstances. “And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace, 1 Corinthians 7:13-15.
10. Prevention Of God Given Calling
A man who prevents you from reaching your potential in God is not your husband. A good man enhances you to become the woman God has called you to be. Any man who is a hindrance to your calling is preventing your purpose in life. In 1st Samuel 25 we read of such a man called Nabal, who was wicked and not deserving of his wife Abigail. Abigail was a wise woman with the gift of serving and hospitality, but her wicked husband Nabal was a hindrance of her divine calling. As a result God struck Nabal dead because of his wickedness, which was exposed by Abigail, and he gave Abigail to a better man who would admonish her to be the woman God had designed her to be.
In all this the lesson to be learnt is that yes God hates divorce. Yes divorce is painful and was not in God’s original plan of marriage. But God does allow it for his own divine purposes. There are some marriages he destroys because it was just not meant to be, and he is saving the woman from a lifetime of pain. As painful as it is at that time, sometimes divorce is the best thing to happen to a woman. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and there is always beauty that comes from the ashes of divorce.