When do I get out of a marriage?

The most intense conversations I had during “The Vow” series were with people in deeply troubled marriages.  If you were around, you know I cast a (Biblical) vision for us to take our vows very seriously, not consider divorce an option, and to remain committed to your part of loving and respecting even if your spouse didn’t seem to be keeping up his/hers.  I’ll preach those kind of messages over and over and over again.

So, three questions have come up since then that I can appreciate.

1. What if I’m in REALLY bad situation?

The Bible speaks to this, all in the context of what I described above, so let me outline both the tensions and the clear principles at work here.  First, God says “I hate Divorce…” (Malachi 2:16).  Very strong language.  Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10:9)  Those have to give context to any decisions.  Having said that, there are two particular situations where divorce is acceptable, even if it is regrettable. I’m not suggesting you should get divorced in these circumstances, only that is acceptable if the marriage cannot go forward.  Reconciling all of this is why these are agonizing situations.

First, if there is infidelity/adultery (Matthew 5:32 & 19:9) involved.  This is the ultimate breach of trust and I HAVE seen marriages re-built many times after unfaithfulness – a beautiful expression of God’s grace.  Still, this is a reason that may not be overcome and it does give you the freedom to release from your vow.  There have been times I have recommended divorce in these circumstances.

Second, if there is abandonment by one spouse, particularly a spouse who does not share your faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 7:15).  This is clear for a particular circumstance in this passage, but it is also a “reason” that I have seen twisted and turned in an effort to justify getting out of a tough marriage.  Given God’s other references about keeping your vow, I would be slow to make broad application of this.

2.  What about Separation?

Again, it is not God’s ideal, but there are circumstances where I have recommended it.  First, if there is fear of abuse to you (or children), get out of the immediate situation.  You will need to create a safe environment and get some wise, strong counsel before re-engaging under the same roof with someone who has made you feel this way.  Additionally, I have seen separation as a short-term tool to rebuild a marriage.  Don’t hurry to this.  It is rare and often doesn’t work.  This is only wise and useful if there is a commitment to restoring the marriage from both husband & wife, generally with a good counselor involved.  Separation does nothing to change the vow you have made…you are still committed to the marriage.

3. What if I’m already divorced?  (I’ll answer this with a post in the next few days.)

~ by Greg Lee on March 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “When do I get out of a marriage?”

  1. I was wondering if there was ever a post about the last question? It is something i am struggling with and would really like some insight into. Thank you

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