MYTH: It’s God’s will for you to suffer quietly in your marriage.
TRUTH : God’s will is for justice, love, and truth to be lifted high—not for his children to live in silent suffering and bondage.
This myth, usually wielded against women, says that they should suffer spousal abuse in order to be seen as godly Christian women who view marriage that values "holiness over happiness." Part of this myth is also the belief that Christian marriages must look perfect to outsiders, therefore you must work hard to hide the pain and destruction from your spouse's marriage-endangering sins. The myth also suggests that you represent Christianity to the world, and if others don’t see your cheerful face, they will not want to follow Christ.
Others might blame you for picking a bad mate, saying, “You made your bed; now lie in it.” But only Jesus knows people’s thoughts. Even if you saw a red flag, you had no idea how unbearable and extreme it would become.
You are not responsible for being deceived by someone who presented themselves in the best light, or for being trusting and wanting the best.
Abuse is not what God wants for you. And it is bad for your spouse as well. It is immaturity and selfishness run amok. When we read Scripture, we see that God’s will is not for his people to suffer quietly, but for justice and love to triumph and be lifted high.
God is against abuse and oppression, and his will is to deliver those who are being oppressed.
No one has the right to demand to hear your reasons for divorcing. Not a stranger, an acquaintance, a pastor, your boss, or a random person on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You do not need to try to convince others of the rightness of your actions. Only you know what you can take. Only you get a vote.
In ancient times, women had fewer rights, and God wanted his people to protect the more vulnerable spouse (usually the woman). But in today’s world, sometimes the wife is the abuser. In my book, I've emphasized that over and over. Men can be victims of abuse, too.
Back in the 1980s, my faith was shaped by a wonderful pastor who helped me understand God’s love. Many years later, his wife left him, and he told me the truth: He’d been abused.
For Christian men, usually this myth takes the form of “loving sacrificially,” “laying down your life” and “dying to self,” even if your wife is the one who is manipulating or abusing you.
In secular circles, sometimes the myth takes the form of the “happy wife, happy life” idea—that if you keep your wife happy by any and all means, your marriage will thrive.
So as we read these verses, keep in mind that these principles also apply to women who abuse their husbands. (For more on male victims of abuse, see Chapter 9 in my book The Life-Saving Divorce, which can be ordered via the link below.)
The Apostle Peter says abusive spouses do not get their prayers answered by God:
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
—1 Peter 3:7 (NIV, emphasis mine)
This verse has two interesting insights. First, when a husband continuously sins against a wife (or vice versa), it leads to having his prayers hindered. It is not biblical for the wife to stay silent in this case.
(See the list of biblical women in Myth Twelve who wisely advised their husbands to do the right thing.)
Second, the word honor in that verse is the same word used in Romans 13:7 for the honor you show to the authorities that God put in place.
… for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. —Romans 13:6b-7 (NIV)
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. —1 Peter 2:17 (NIV)
God wants us to honor our spouses, just as God wants us to show honor to all people and to the authorities. And God commands men to be understanding to wives, otherwise their prayers are hindered.
God demands that all believers, regardless of gender, show one another understanding, love, respect, honor, and kindness. It is a sin for a husband to treat his wife harshly.
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. —Colossians 3:19 (NIV)
God is against those who are violent. He sides with and saves the oppressed and the underdogs.
Put away violence and oppression and do what is just and right. —Ezekiel 45:9a (HCSB)
Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. —Proverbs 3:31 (NIV)
An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. —Proverbs 29:22 (NIV)
Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. —Psalm 140:1-2 (NIV)
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. —Psalm 103:6 (NIV)
God does not accept the sacrifices of men who betray their wives.
Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears.You weep and wail because [the LORD] no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.
You ask, “Why?”
It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth.
You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
…So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
—Malachi 2:13-14, 15b (NIV)
God does not look away when people are exploited.
Each of you must know how to control his own body in a holy and honorable manner, not with passion and lust like the gentiles who do not know God.
Furthermore, you must never take advantage of or exploit a brother in this regard, because the Lord avenges all these things, just as we already told you and warned you.
—1 Thessalonians 4:4-6 (ISV)
These verses show us the heart of God and his will for us: not to suffer quietly to make Christianity look good, but to display his love and his passion for justice, even in our marriages. Sometimes, this means putting an end to abuse by getting out of a dangerous marriage.
Many people say, “God wants loving marriages; Satan wants divorce.”
But in reality—
God wants loving marriages.
Satan wants cruel marriages.
Satan loves the fact that innocent spouses and children are bound to someone who devastates them, humiliates them, betrays them, and treats them treacherously. He loves when Christians suffer abuse quietly, over and over again, for years.
Jesus isn’t like that. Jesus came to set people free.
The Bible Doesn't Say "God hates Divorce"—it's not in the Hebrew text