Everything we do at Blazing Grace is about restoration, with an eye on helping people cultivate a vital, love relationship with God – especially when it comes to marriages. I’ve seen God take marriages that were close to divorce and resurrect them. No matter how deep the pit the couple is in, I believe that restoration is possible because I know how powerful God is and how passionate He is about the couple.
The dark reality is that some marriages don’t make it, usually because the husband refused to get help, fell deeper into sin, and hardened his heart until it turned to stone. Emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse may be ongoing. In the end, the message he sends his wife is that he will not give up sexual sin. If he continues on this path, he will eventually lose his marriage and family.
The following is a chapter from my book The Wife’s Heart; Healing from Your Husband’s Porn Addiction and Adultery that offers counsel for a wife who finds herself in a marriage like the one I described above. It also stands as a warning to those who think they can continue in sexual sin without consequences. I also touch on the arrogant spiritual abuse that many churches inflict on wives in this arena.
The Unwanted Chapter
From The Wife’s Heart
I didn’t want to write this chapter. Every marriage is precious, and I always want to offer hope and encourage you to persevere until your marriage is restored. I’ve seen God heal marriages that were on the verge of divorce. (One divorce was several days from being finalized in court when the Lord turned their hearts around.)
But the reality is there are some marriages that won’t make it. The wife sets boundaries and consequences, gives her all, and supports her husband, yet he hardens his heart and throws himself deeper into sexual sin, and their relationship passes the point of no return. Some women are wounded so deeply they never recover (the wrong counsel from their church, friends, or counselors didn’t help) and the marriage is lost, even though the husband broke free.
If you’re considering divorce, here are several points to think about:
If your husband is getting help, yet stumbling, there is still hope. As long as he’s not having affairs or having sex outside of marriage with others, consider waiting a little longer to see how it plays out.
You might need to consider a divorce if:
Your husband ignores your boundaries and continually crashes through them, without regard to the consequences.
He’s abusive verbally, or especially, physically, on an ongoing basis, and shows no signs of conviction or remorse. If he hits you, it would be best that you leave immediately and get the counsel of a professional with experience in spousal abuse.
You separated from him because he crossed your boundary of no sex with others outside of marriage, yet he continued to engage in sexual sin.
He refuses to get help.
He makes little to no effort to restore your relationship, other than occasionally saying something to placate you for the moment.
You continue to catch him in lies, or he makes promises he doesn’t keep.
Your safe friend, who has been supportive of your efforts to heal your marriage, believes you’ve exhausted all of your options and divorce is all that’s left.
You’ve gone to God and asked Him what to do, and believe He’s saying it’s time to close the door on the marriage.
Most or all of the indicators above are true.
If you’re living with your husband, move out and spend time in prayer. If the Lord confirms you should let the marriage go, start looking for an attorney.
I hate it when a marriage fails because of sexual sin. As a child of divorce, I know that the damage and trauma divorce inflicts on a family is gut-wrenching. Many marriages would be healed if the church were willing to speak out boldly on sexual issues and provide clear answers.
It may be that divorce is the only way you can heal. If you’re living with an abusive husband who continues to trample on your heart with his sexual sin and the way he treats you, there is no relationship. Staying might make it worse because you could put yourself and your kids in danger.
Once a man’s heart goes dark, he can become evil and twisted, marked by rage, abuse, manipulation, and cruelty. You dare not stay with a man in that condition.
You were given the right to divorce your husband the first time he committed adultery, whether with porn or another person (Matthew 5:32). You are not sinning by choosing to end an abusive relationship, in spite of what anyone says—including those in the church.
There are some in the church who might try to throw a guilt trip on you, even pastors, if you decide to end your marriage. They don’t know the whole story or how hard you’ve tried, and have no right to be an armchair critic. Don’t listen to them.
Not long ago, a wife in the Southern region of the US divorced her husband who was hooked on child porn, which is a felony in the States. What made me sick was when the leadership of her church rebuked her because she didn’t follow their restoration procedure before filing. After the national news media caught wind of it, the leadership of her church backed down and apologized.
The Pharisees, those who care more about their rules and traditions than people, are alive and well in the church today. Don’t listen to them. If you know God is calling you to a divorce, proceed.
Your healing process will include saying goodbye to your marriage and grieving what was lost. Continue to lean on the support of your trusted friend or group. Allow them to minister to you and support you.
If you don’t have a support group, contact us so we can get you plugged in to our wives’ groups.
Some husbands try to stop their wives from making the reason for the divorce public because they don’t want their reputation blown. You need not feel guilty about exposing what happened; use wisdom and consider what is appropriate.
Some wives beat themselves up with what “they should or could have done.” Their husband chose sexual sin and darkness; they neither encouraged it nor wanted it. Most wives do everything they can and more to make their marriage work.
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
God doesn’t compromise with those who chase sin. If your husband is abusive to you and persists in sexual sin, it’s impossible for his relationship with the Lord to be in the right place, no matter what position in the church he holds. He’s in a dangerous position spiritually, with serious eternal ramifications if he continues on his path.
You may have made some mistakes along the way. I don’t know of anyone who gets everything right when it comes to something as hard and painful as recovering from adultery. Nevertheless, if your husband is the man I’ve described in this chapter, you can stand before God with a clear conscience.
For more information on The Wife’s Heart, see:
I Hate Seeing Marriages Destroyed from Porn or Sexual Sin…
18 years ago, one researcher found that 56% of all divorces had pornography involved. The numbers would surely be higher today. So much of this wreckage could be avoided if churches would openly talk about sexual issues, set God’s standard for sexual purity, and offer effective answers for hope. (“Lust is bad, don’t do it” isn’t what I’m talking about here.)
Instead, many churches have gone ostrich on the topic, which plays right into Satan’s hands. One recent survey said that 26% of pastors talked about sexual issues in the past year. Yet the epidemic of porn and sexual sin continues to blow up at every age group, from youth to age 80.
We dare not continue to stay silent about sex in the church and watch more marriages and families be destroyed.