Follow up To ‘The Love That Overcomes’
By Fred Pruitt
A reader responded to the recent article “The Love That Overcomes” with this question:
“You commented in this article about divorce being okay because of infidelity, but what if your husband is mean & controlling & you are basically always put down?”
Thanks for writing. I feel the necessity to say right up front, that I am not a marriage counselor. I do not presume to know how another should conduct his or her marriage. That said, in “The Love that Overcomes” article I didn’t exactly say divorce was “okay because of infidelity.”
This is what I wrote: “Both Paul and Jesus give adultery as a legitimate reason to divorce.”
I might even be stretching it a bit with Paul. But that led, of course, to your question regarding any other “legitimate” ways to divorce.
I do understand the situation you talked about. I certainly can see why you want an answer. I have confidence that you will find your answer, and where you will find it is in you. (I assume you know Jesus and are born again, which makes you a Holy Spirit person.)
So let me get to the point, then. First, the New Covenant has no rules. None. Well, just one as far as “behavior” is concerned. That would be Love. Love is the only “rule” of conduct given in the New Testament. (Any other admonitions given are only descriptions of how love operates.)
All other rules and regulations that seem to appear there are also appropriate to mention and emphasize as needed. A first grader (6 year old) has to be taught and “made” to brush his teeth, do his homework, etc. That is life for children. They are perfect in their “child-ness” at whatever age they are, but they are under teachers and parents.
Part of our education is that we miss the mark sometimes. We learn most by trial and error. We have tests and do not get every answer correct. We learn that way. It is right for a time (as education) that we are in a learning environment, which means we can do no wrong in our learning, as long as we keep on learning. Every mistake or wrong answer is something further ingrained in our brains and consciousness which then works to produce an increase in our inner consciousness of the correct action or understanding. All in perfection! God sees no sin in us. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Is 11:9a)
“For our conversation is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20a). We live a life that flows out of heaven! We may not know it or be aware of it, but we are. Until we come into adulthood and full knowledge of Who we are (Christ in us as us), we are somewhat like the children of Israel those 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai. People often pour aspersions on them, making it seem as if they had been cast out by God. They were not! Yes, anyone over 20 years of age at the time of their faithless refusal to go into the Land, died in the wilderness in the next 38 years. But they were NOT forsaken by the Lord! Not hardly! The Spirit led them day by day by day for 40 years with a “Cloudy Pillar” in the daylight and a “Fiery Pillar” at night. Manna from heaven appeared on the ground every morning but the Sabbath for 40 years. Water from a Rock struck by Moses followed them in the desert so that they never went thirsty. (1 Cor 10:4). And – this is quite a miracle also if you think about it – no one’s shoes or clothes wore out! Where can we buy clothes and shoes today that we could wear for 40 years of wilderness hiking and they would appear as if they were still new? (Deut 29:4,5) God takes care of His chosen!
Once, the King of Moab hired a local seer named Balaam to curse the children of Israel, because Moab feared them. But Balaam was instead taken by the Spirit of God and pronounced them clean and blessed in the sight of God! Who? Those often complaining, disobedient, selfishly childlike children of Israel down on the Plains of Moab, that’s who! Moab wanted Balaam to curse them, but this is what the Spirit of the Lord spoke out of Balaam’s mouth about those same complaining, disobedient people:
“He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” (Num 23:21-23).
HE HAS NOT BEHELD INIQUITY IN JACOB, NEITHER HAS HE SEEN PERVERSENESS IN ISRAEL! NO POWER CAN COME AGAINST THEM!
Why is it such tough stuff can be going on in the camp of the tribes of Jacob, and yet Balaam says by the Spirit that God sees NO SIN in them, and further, no “power” of any kind can come against them! Is God Bi-polar?
No, it is because the Lord has a much-bigger trick up His sleeve. The last part of the verse gives the key – that it might be said, “What hath God wrought.” In other words, it is a demonstration to the world that God makes a “people” to be His people out of the weakness of the flesh, instead of the strength of their arms.
“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people…. But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deut 7:7,8).
Some may think that is talking only about the physical descendants of Abraham, but its full meaning is for us, the True Israel, the church, the “Jerusalem from above.” “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Gal 4:26). If we are believers, this is where our moment-by-moment life springs from in each of us!
Now, what does all this have to do with marriage and divorce? First, to realize that it is always a good thing to marry or to stay together in marriage if possible. Janis and I have been married more than 42 years and we would not have it any other way. But people do face difficulties that are above and beyond what others face sometimes. In all my time in the Lord, I think I must have heard all kinds of marriage advice given about all types of problems. I have seen many people so firm in their conviction regarding divorce that they will consider a person a sinner for leaving a partner no matter what the reason. No matter how awful or abusive, they (according to many in the “church”) must stay together.
A couple of years ago I was approached by a couple of women regarding an abusive husband. It was physical and emotional abuse. It was not getting better but worse. Most of her Christian friends told her she had to “submit” to her husband and not leave, despite the abuse. They asked me what I thought.
Without batting an eye I replied, “Oh, I would get right out of that! You do not need to stay and be someone’s punching bag!”
I can see someone coming against that and saying, “The New Testament law of marriage says ….”
I would say, “Which of you, if he had a donkey that fell into a pit, would not get him out on the Sabbath?” How much more a hurting woman in a physical and emotional nightmare?
Does God love the rules or does He love the people!? To carry Jesus’ word a little farther, the law was made for man, not man for the law!!!
Again, Hosea’s word, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hos 6:6).
What is “knowledge of God?” This is knowledge of God:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 Jn 4:7,8).
In scripture, when it is speaking of “knowing,” it is talking about a mixing with the thing that is known, i.e., the truth known becomes our inner reality or consciousness. Knowing God is being “mixed together” (one spirit) with Him as Adam and Eve were “mixed together” (one flesh): “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived.” (Gen 4:1). To “know God,” therefore, means being mixed together or one spirit with He Who is Love. Inside Love there is no law. Love does not need the advice or approval of the law. It is simply what (Who) it is.
Let me stress that I am talking about a principle here, and not giving “permission” or declaring “okay” any divorce in any given situation. No one can do that. As I stated above, it is good if marriages can stay together and work through rough patches, even for serious things. But that is one of the “responsibilities” of the New Testament, that we find our own answers in the Spirit from God. While we may have those who advise us, teach us, share with us, maybe mentor or disciple us, ultimately it is God and I alone. We are like a king with advisers. The advisers will lay out situations, perhaps recommend courses of actions, etc., but the king must make the final decision. And that is who we are. Those in such situations can stay if they wish as an “intercession” if they believe they must do it as an unction from the Spirit. But also human life must be preserved, and any kind of violence of body or mind to be avoided, and there is no shame in removing ourselves from situations like that. I speak only in a general sense, which is all I can do, of course.
The real question, if we can receive it, is this: “Lord, what is it you are up to here? I want to be about your business.” God’s “business” is not checking on or approving or disapproving of our morality or anyone else’s, but rather on bringing people into Himself and His Eternal Love. God loves everyone. All the parties. Since scripture says over and over that “all have sinned,” that means God loves “sinners,” which means, ALL of us! All of them (us) without exception. The WAY He loves them (us) is through the Cross of His Son and all that we have learned with it. Through that He turns them (us) into saints!
That is God’s ultimate goal for everyone. “That all might know Him, from the least to the greatest.” Again, in the Biblical context of the meaning of “know,” that means that everyone in His kingdom, from the least to the greatest, are expressions of and manifestors of Him in His infinite variety! We are “one” with the Father, the Godhead in individual human form (Jn 17:11;20-23), because He is the Head, and we are the Body. The Body does not go in a different direction from the Head, but moves as one with the Head because Body and Head are one and cannot be separated.
The final answer to the inquirer is this. Do what seems best to you, as you see yourself in Christ. He is the love shed abroad in your heart, given by the Holy Spirit, and trust that your decisions are His and according to His Love, since you are one with Him, and “have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:16b). I would also add that there is nothing wrong with asking others that you respect for counsel or guidance. We all need to do that sometimes.