For Christian Women Who Have Never Been Divorced

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“Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and figure it out.”

Submit! That is the ultimate answer. Accept your fate, and submit to your husband.  For he is the head of your household.

In desperation, this woman turns to you, a genuinely happy, married Christian woman.  She risks transparency after years of silence.  She bares her soul to you and gets real.  She finds in you a willing listener and a present source of support. She asks for advice, and you give her practical help and encouragement. Then she goes home.  She applies it and it doesn’t change anything.  She continues to be abused.  She continues to be disrespected, lied to, and cheated on, despite her best efforts to do better, give more, and love selflessly.  She explains to her husband how heartbroken she is and how things need to change or else.  She gets told by her spouse that her depression, her anxiety, her bad attitude and negativity is really the problem. That she's unlovable, and she deserves what she’s getting. That she needs to change, and then things will get better. But it's not him. He’s not the problem. He’s doing the best he can, and he can’t give any more than he’s already giving.

With nothing to work with, she gives up. She's pushed herself past the point of exhaustion, and she’s finally hit the wall. The façade has cracked, her resolve has weakened, and she just can’t continue to live without hope of things ever getting any better.  Surely everything isn’t her fault and surely God won't hate her if she removes herself from the constant stream of negativity and abuse. Maybe some time apart will heal things.  Or maybe she will find some perspective and some strength in the meantime. Something must change, and the only option she sees is to put her foot down and demand a separation.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  Where the way you show Christian love really matters. When she comes to tell you that it’s over, what do you do?   Knowing that God hates divorce and that you hate divorce, and even knowing that this is a decision you could never see yourself making, you can still choose how you're going to behave.

You can turn this into a "Jesus in the marketplace" moment, like some do, and take out all that “righteous" anger on her for her decision. You can sit in judgment and preach to her about how “real Christians” don’t just give up on their marriages.  That you fix what’s broken, you don’t just throw it away. You can preach to her that if she “really loved God and her husband” she wouldn’t break that covenant, no matter what.

You know full well that she has endured abuse, neglect, betrayal, and pain from the man who vowed to love, honor, and cherish her. You know that it's not that she’s simply tired of being married to him and just not happy anymore. You can pour salt into the wound and condescend to tell her that you’ve lost respect for her, and that God will hate her and her children if she goes through with this. You can kick her while she’s down and destroy the trust she placed in you by rejecting her in her darkest hour.  Those are options.

You disagree with her decision after all she’s told you and you don’t think she tried hard enough, and you can go ahead and punish her for disappointing you. Remember that Jesus loved the prostitute and the tax collector despite what they did. His heart broke for the lost and lonely. Apart from that one time in the marketplace, he never stood in judgment, making a scene…but chose words carefully and in private, with wisdom and discernment, to convict the spirits of those who were confused. Be careful with that righteousness. We are called to be imitators of God. He is just, but he's also merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

So instead, you could make the decision to love her.  You can disagree with her decision, but you can support her, encourage her, listen to her, and be a safe place for her.  You can show her compassion.  You can do that because you realize that as much as you might want there to be no such thing as divorce, it happens anyway.  That there but for the grace of God, that broken woman could be you. You realize that hurting people need to be ministered to, and that if you found yourself with your world turned upside down, you'd want someone to hold your hand. Jesus embraced the opportunity to show love and compassion, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do.


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