Dealing with Unbelieving and Unrepentant Spouses

 

Renette Vermeulen

 

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· THE HOLY MARRIAGE COVENANT IS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, BUT NOT AS CHURCHES TEACH IN THE CASE OF ABUSE AND DIVORCE.  

· JESUS SAID DIVORCE IS LEGITIMATE IN THE EVENT OF ADULTERY, (Matthew 19:9.) 

· GOD’S CREATION PRINCIPLES LIBERATE ABUSED SPOUSES BY EXPLAINING WHY ADULTERY IS DEATH TO A MARRIAGE

· CLARITY ABOUT WHAT PAUL SAID IN 1 CORINTHIANS 7 ABOUT LIVING WITH OR DIVORCING UNSAVED SPOUSES 

· THE DILEMMA OF ONE SPOUSE ACCEPTING JESUS WHILE THE OTHER SPOUSE REJECTS HIM, (1 Corinthians 7:10-16.) 

· WHAT DOES “NOT TOLERATING THE SIN OF LOVED ONES” SUCH AS SPOUSES MEAN? 

 

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 [Acknowledgement to the person who compiled and published this image]

 

THE MARRIAGE COVENANT IS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BUT NOT AS CHURCHES TEACH IN THE CASE OF ABUSE AND DIVORCE

Churches have taught believers that divorce, (no matter how filthy, abusive, sinful, and downright dangerous the marriage has become,) is never an option, but that is not the contextual truth of Scripture, (Mt. 19:1-9; 2 Cor. 6:11-18.)  Of course, no one can argue that God instituted marriage as a binding, holy covenant between one husband and one wife.  However, it is liberating for abused spouses to understand that this cannot be a one-sided covenant.  Thus, God views marriage and divorce from all perspectives in the truthful context of His Word.  Third parties that come between “the two” marriage partners, instantly destroy this very personal covenant, (1 Cor. 6:15-20; Malachi 2:13-16! KJV.) So, polygamy is not in God’s picture of the marriage covenant. “The king, [as God’s moral example to the nation,] must not multiply wives for himself so that his heart turns not away,” (Deut. 17:17.) Under Old Testament Law, because adultery is emotional murder on innocent spouses and their families, “If a man commits adultery… both the adulterer and the adulteress, [for whom he rejected and betrayed his wife and family,] are to be put to death,” (Lev. 20:10; 1 John 3:15.)  Yet, the priests deflected this commandment so that only female adulterers were stoned to death, not males.  So, all the Old Testament kings, priests, and patriarch polygamists disobeyed the true context of God’s Moral Law, (Mt. 19:1-9!)  In fact, they treated their wives as mere possessions, which they may abuse as they please, and divorced them “for any reason,” not for adultery only. 

 

JESUS SAID THAT DIVORCE IS LEGITIMATE IN THE EVENT OF ADULTERY, (Matthew 19:1-9) 

The above mentioned exploitation of God’s Word to justify their sin was the Pharisees’ argument with Jesus in Matthew 19:1-9. Jesus pointed out that Moses added “divorce for any reason” to God’s Moral Law “because of the hardness of their hearts,” (2 Pt. 2:1-3; Mark 7:5-9!)  He referred them directly to God’s everlasting creation principles, as “in the beginning it was not so,” and declared that the only legitimate reason for divorce is adultery, which will result in violence and all other forms of emotional murder, (Malachi 2:13-16! 1 Jn. 3:15, KJV.) 

· Note that Jesus did not prescribe the death sentence for adultery any longer.  He was preparing the priests for life under His Eternal, Spiritual, New Testament Covenant, after He had fulfilled ALL the requirements of Israel’s Old Ceremonial or outward temple Law at the cross, (Matthew 19:28-30, Heb. 8:13.)  When He rose from the dead, Jesus forever moved all true believers globally to obedience to His Moral Law only, (John 3:16-18; 13:34.)  That is why the Lord also said, “[You know that] you will not murder. [Under the Old Ceremonial Law it was literally “an eye for an eye.”]  But I say to you [in the context of the New Testament’s Moral law,] that whoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT a cause, [and thus commits character murder through verbal and other assault,] is in danger of hell fire…  And [because adultery begins in the heart,] whoever [is married and commits fornication,] has already [conceived the sin of adultery in his mind and will commit it.]  It is better [to drastically destroy all sinful desires] than to be [entangled in immorality and be] cast into hell...”  (Matthew 5:17-31! James 1:12-17!) 

Hence, Jesus changed Old-Testament death for adultery to New-Testament divorce for adultery — should the innocent spouse choose NOT to give the unrepentant offender another chance.  This choice of the rejected spouse is viable if the adulterer has no sincere regret, refuses to do full confession to the innocent spouse, (which is part of doing restitution by telling the truth to rectify lies, etcetera,) and if the adulterer does not manifest lasting repentance, (James 5:16-18; Mt. 18:15-20.)  The adulterer’s abuse of God and the spouse’s forgiveness then justifies the choice to divorce.  This is not unforgiveness on the part of innocent spouses, but an important part of their emotional and even physical survival. 

 

GOD’S CREATION PRINCIPLES LIBERATE ABUSED SPOUSES BY EXPLAINING WHY ADULTERY IS DEATH TO A MARRIAGE

Because preachers mostly teach that divorce is impossible for their church members, many believers think, if their loved ones such as spouses will not choose to follow Jesus, (and even though they cheat, lie, steal, destroy, and murder them,) they will drag them to heaven as far as they can, even if they reject God’s Word to revel in sin, (Mt. 18:15-20.)  Well, it is simply impossible for people to reach heaven that way.  Believers should listen to what Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21-24 concerning That Day when we must all face Him.  It is written, “[If they would eventually decide to call Me ‘Lord,’ Matthew 25:1-13,] I will say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness, [because you did exactly as you pleased without striving to obey Me.]’ Whoever obeys My [Word,] I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the Rock…” 

Our efforts to ‘force’ people into heaven to change our circumstances can never please God.  He wants “mercy, [obedience to His Moral Law,] not sacrifice [or outward church and other manmade obedience, which is hypocrisy,]” (Mt. 9:13.) Jesus called sinners to repentance in Him.  Thus, He continually confronted the self-righteous Old Testament temple priesthood to repent from their religious ideas and temple formality.  However, they chose to cleave to worthless human customs and the ceremonial temple Law while rejecting the truth of God’s Word, (Jesus Himself, John 1:1-14,) to do everything their way, (John 1:1-14.)  Eventually, Jesus declared to them, “If God were of the Father, you would love [and obey] Me…  [But] you are of your father the devil, whose will you [unrepentantly choose to] do… [You are Satanists,]”  (Jn. 8:42-44, 52.) 

· During His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ made a strict distinction between light and darkness and the IMPOSSIBILITY to have close, Godly relationships with those who disobey Him, because they follow the devil in sin.  So, how can believers think they only have to ‘live a good life’ and pray for their unrepentant loved ones without ever jeopardizing their relationships with them by speaking God’s Truth, or confronting their lostness in the leading and wisdom of the Holy Spirit?  All believers must understand that disobeying the Moral Law commandments of God when dealing with sin and unrepentant sinners, also endangers their own spiritual safety in Christ, (Rom. 1:32; Mt. 10:37! KJV.) 

 

Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:15-24 help believers to understand God’s creation principles, which Jesus referred to in Matthew 19:1-9.  These verses get right back to basics by explaining how and for what reason, God created humanity. “God created man[kind] in His own image… male and female He created THEM.  [God could have made as many genders, or as many wives for Adam and husbands for Eve as He wanted to.  But, He made humanity as male and female for a very good reason.]  Then God blessed THEM, [male and female,] and said to THEM, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill and subdue the earth, and [together,] have dominion [as equal partners and “companions”] over [everything that moves on earth,] (Malachi 2:14-16.) 

This is not the marriage covenant.  This means that both males and females, (humanity as a whole,) are custodians of the earth, which also pertains to every other area of their lives that God had trusted to them.  At Pentecost, with the outpouring of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Old Covenant prophecy of Joel 2:28-29 was fulfilled.  God promised, “I will pour out of My Spirit on all [believing] flesh [on that day.]  Your sons AND YOUR DAUGHTERS will prophesy… [or receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.]  And on My menservants AND ON MY MAIDSERVANTS [or ministers in the body of Christ,] I [poured] out My Spirit… And [both male and female] will prophesy,” (Acts 2:17-18!)  Jesus undoubtedly redeemed, saved, empowered, and commissioned both genders to His global ministry, (Matthew 28:18-20.)  That is why Paul declared, “[Spiritually,] there is neither Jew nor Gentile, [race,] rich nor poor, [status,] nor male nor female, [gender,] We are all ONE in Christ,”  (Gal. 3:28.)  This is God’s universal order for males and females to manage everything on earth together.  Gender has no influence on this general stewardship on all levels of life for all humanity. 

However, God made mankind in ‘two parts’ as male and female because “it is not good that [a human or anything else] should be alone. [So He] made the man a HELPER COMPARABLE TO HIM.  Not another man to have as his best FRIEND, but a woman to have as his WIFE, who is “closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24.)  So, women are not “lesser beings” that must be “ruled” by males.  All of humanity was created in the image of God.  Women are the female equivalents of males.  Then, God joined the two parts of humanity together in the holy marriage covenant, and commanded, “A husband [and wife] will LEAVE [everyone else so] the two [can] become one flesh, [in marriage,]” (Gen. 2:15-24.) 

However, when humanity disobeyed God in the garden and fell from being the perfect image of God, they wreaked havoc on His holy marriage covenant and on all other relationships, (Gen. 3:12.)  Still, marriage remains binding for as long as both marriage partners remain faithful, respectful, and take care of each other.  So, sincere, Godly agape, (love in deed and truth,) is the glue that holds “two people” together in this most important covenant.  Once this glue disintegrates through abuse, everything falls apart.  That is why, after the fall, most of God’s commandments are directed at humanity’s sinful rule over the defenceless to bring His Godly Order to the chaos in this world, (Gen. 3:16.) 

· However, just as God will never force anyone to love Him, all our relationships on earth must be sincere, Godly choices and personal commitments. No human relationship, least of all the holy marriage covenant, can survive without true “love for one another.” That means, far above anything that money can buy, fidelity that proves true commitment and love, sincerity, and submission to one another in everything good and Godly, is vital for any relationship to succeed, (Eph. 5:21.) 

 

CLARITY ABOUT WHAT PAUL SAID IN 1 CORINTHIANS 7 ABOUT LIVING WITH  OR DIVORCING UNSAVED SPOUSES 

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16, “If a believing [spouse is married to an unbeliever,] who is willing to live with [the believer,] let them not divorce… But if the unbeliever departs, let him [or her] depart; [believers] are not under bondage in such cases.  God has called us to peace.  For how do you know, [O spouse,] if [the unbeliever will ever choose to be saved]?” (John 1:12-14; 3:3-5.) 

Conversely, when the unbeliever chooses to live a moral life with the believer and not the other way around, (2 Corinthians 6:11-18,) Paul explained in verses 12-13, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified [or made holy] by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”  He was not referring to either the doctrine of ‘sanctification,’ (the so-called growing in church ‘holiness,’) or the baby sprinkling as a baptism.  Sadly, baby ‘baptizing’ denominations grabbed this declaration as Scriptural ‘proof’ that the babies of Christians must be ‘baptized’ to be ‘holy and saved.’ Paul was not speaking about even the Biblical water baptism of true disciples; he took the time to explain the difficulties that arise from marriages between sincerely born again believers and unbelievers. This passage does not mean that believers may marry unbelievers. It pertains to a situation where only one spouse comes to redemption and salvation in Christ after marriage, while the other one remains an unbeliever, (1 Corinthians. 7:14.) 

Here, Paul said that divorce is not the norm for such marriages — apart from adultery, which instantly breaks the marriage covenant.  Paul explained that God creates a holy environment for the sincerely believing spouse in an ‘unequally yoked’ marriage!  The believer must not divorce the unbelieving spouse if the unbeliever is willing to live a moral life with the believer, not the other way around. Should the believer agree to submit to the sin of the unbeliever, the home would be in chaos and the believer’s salvation would be in danger.

God’s supernatural holiness for unbelieving spouses and the little, young, or teenage children of sincere believers have nothing to do with sacramental (or so-called ‘saving’) church rites.  Similarly, so-called church ‘sanctification’ has nothing in common with the “holiness” of the unbelieving husband or wife, or their children. God’s “holiness” through the saved spouse is not personal salvation for the unsaved spouse and children.  The holy spiritual position of truly born again spouses, which so favourably affects their unsaved spouses and children that they are holy, only covers their children under God’s holiness until the children are able to leave home and make a life for themselves.  Salvation is always a personal matter between the person and God, (John 1:12-13; 3:3-5.) Nevertheless, unbelieving teenagers and young adults must, just as the unbelieving spouse, submit to the truth and holiness of Christ in respect to Jesus and the believing spouse.

If unbelieving but holy children of this ‘mixed’ marriage could be water baptized as some churches proclaim, then the holy but unbelieving spouse can also be baptized - which is impossible. No one can ‘stand in the gap’ for another person to be redeemed or saved; not even for their own children.  In Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:4, 18-20,  God declared, “The soul that sins will die. The son will not bear the iniquity of the father; neither will the father bear the iniquity of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” That is why one may only water baptize self-confessed, true believer-disciples in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is certain that this passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 does not mean that the ‘holy’ spouse or children of believers should be ‘sprinkle-baptized’ - or baptized by immersion, if they are still too young to make a personal choice concerning accepting and following Jesus!

 

THE DILEMMA OF ONE SPOUSE ACCEPTING JESUS WHILE THE OTHER SPOUSE REJECTS HIM 

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul answers the question whether believers may choose to divorce unsaved spouses.  Paul does not detail the dilemma of believers who came to Christ after marriage, while their spouses decidedly refuse Him.  If the unsaved spouse lives a moral life and chooses to “live with the believer” and not the other way round, the marriage remains difficult but might be workable.  However, note that fornication, adultery, and other immorality is not even mentioned here.  Immorality remains totally unacceptable in marriage or any other relationship.  Additionally, the believing spouse must always keep God and His Word in highest regard.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves [parents,] or [children and spouses] more than Me [and compromise my Word for them,] is not worthy of Me…” To live in a marriage with an unbeliever, will pose great challenges.  Hence, in this passage, Paul gives Godly guidelines to manage that extremely awkward situation, (1 Cor. 7:10-16.)  He first shines the spotlight onto Jesus’ prohibition on divorce “for [just] any reason… except for fornication, [which will lead to adultery,]” (Mt. 19:1-9; 5:27-30!)  He then builds his response on what Jesus said.

· Furthermore, according to Jesus’ directions on dealing with all unrepentant people, (Matthew 18:15-20,) there is absolutely no reason why believers should accept the unrepentant ABUSE of spouses, or anyone else.  “Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals,” (1 Cor. 15:33.)  So, we must flee from sin and wilfully unrepentant people.  This is not a matter of revenge but of survival.  For instance, believers might not choose to divorce adulterers, but they still need to glorify the Lord Jesus and protect themselves at the same time.  Chances are that drug addicts, adulterers, etcetera, might never repent from sin, except when they truly accept and follow Jesus.  And also a word of caution here.  Hardcore abusers often pretend to be redeemed and saved just to keep their hold on believers.  The reason for such treachery is that to unrepentant people it is simply a case of, “If I can have my spouse… and the bottle, porn, drugs, (male or female) prostitutes, control, and violence… why should I repent?”

Nevertheless, in the hope that the immoral spouse may sincerely repent, the innocent spouse of either a believer or unbeliever may choose to continue with the marriage.  Yet, the abused spouse should keep in mind that when the matter constantly surfaces, separating ourselves from unrepentant sinners after we have done what God requires of us to resolve the conflict, (Matthew 19:15-20,) means that believers may distance themselves from them, as continual forgiveness is unworkable under such circumstances, (Mt. 7:6!) 

· As a result, hardened sinners must be dealt with in ‘tough love,’ although this places the believer between an even greater rock and a hard place where spouses, adult children, and other loved ones are concerned.  E.g., refusing to tolerate unrepentant sin might lead to broken relationships and even divorce, (Mt. 18:15-20.)  It is then good to let the unrepentant person leave for the sake of everyone concerned, (1 Cor. 7:15.) When the marriage has deteriorated to the extent where even necessary communication escalates into arguments and violence, (but they cannot separate or divorce because of complicated circumstances,) the situation will become totally unbearable. This believer cannot accept or tolerate sin, yet has to “live with it” - without participating in the other spouse’s sin.  It is stated in 2 Corinthians 6:12-18, “...You  are restricted by your OWN AFFECTIONS… [It is your love for them that keeps you in submission to their sin.]  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, [as all unrepentant people wilfully choose to do the will of their father the devil: John 8:44.]  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with a [hardened] unbeliever...?   For you are the holy temple of the living God…  [1 Corinthians 3:16-17.] ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you will be My children…” 

Sticking with the unbearable choice to remain yoked to unbelievers, will place believers in a constant, multi-tiered battle for personal sanity and spiritual, emotional, and even physical safety.  Add to that the believer’s struggle not to become trauma and treason bonded, ‘passive’ aggressive, or to submit to the manipulation, lies, and pressure of the unbeliever, and we have a disaster in the making.  The believer’s submission to evil will enhance the abuser’s power.  And as an agent of Satan, (John 8:44,) the door is then open for the abuser to destroy even the eternal life of the believer.  So, it is always necessary that the abused take care of themselves in the leading of the Word and Spirit of God, (Mt. 18:15-20; Rev. 3:11.) 

 

WHAT DOES “NOT TOLERATING THE SIN OF LOVED ONES” MEAN? 

When this study was posted on Facebook in three parts, some people misunderstood concerning “not tolerating” the sin of unbelieving spouses and other loved ones. “Being intolerant with people who struggle with sin is not Godly love,” someone said. 

Please understand that I was not referring to arrogance or ruthlessness.  The context was that agape-obedience to God, (love in deed and truth,) is not mere humanism.  It is actually Universalism in disguise, (believing that everyone can be saved as they choose, while Jesus is the Only Way, Truth, and Life,” (John 14:6.)  Following “the cult of softness” to please people is hatred for them.  We must always obey God’s contextual Word and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as far as humanly possible.  This is true love for God, humanity, and all of His creation.  I always highlight the fact that we must also treasure our interpersonal relationships.  Hence, we have to practice Jesus’ teachings on Godly confrontation “as far as possible, and as far as it depends on us.”  (Read what Jesus instructed us to do if someone is angry with us, and when we are angry with someone elsebefore we bring our praise, worship, etcetera to His holy throne!” (Matthew 5:20-26;18:15-20!)  Godly confrontation is not fighting; it includes loving even our enemies like this

If there can be no solution after two or three such confrontations in love and truth,  we must refer back to what Jesus instructed in Matthew 7:6.  He said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, and do not cast our pearls before swine, lest they trample it and tear you to pieces.”  Spirit Filled Life Bible footnote 1991, (beware of new translations,) “Some discrimination is necessary in preaching the Gospel [and in following God’s commandments to agape people by obeying the precepts of God’s reconciling Moral Law.]  To [give His holy Word and your own holy ‘pearls’] to contemptuous blasphemers who only cheapen it, also endanger ourselves.  The two metaphors here (dogs, swine) are Hebrew and refer to  inviting totally uninterested [hardened sinners] to join the blood-cleansed body of believers and share in Jesus’ mercy that leads to holiness.”

· We need to follow the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and leading  to know when and where to give God’s “holiness” and our “pearls” to people.  Ignoring this commandment of Jesus will bring much sorrow and danger to ourselves.  It will also enable hardened abusers to not only destroy us, but also to desecrate the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  As long as we believe “we” can convince, convict, redeem, and save anyone, we actually suffer from “messiah syndrome.”  Jesus never sent us to do the work of the Holy Spirit in obeying His commission and Moral-Law commandments, (Jn. 16:8-14; Mt. 28:18-20.)  This is where churches dreadfully confuse believers, as they do not focus much on the Jesus’ Moral-Law.  “Desire to do good without knowledge is not good...” (Prov. 19:2.)  Neglecting to obey God’s Moral-Law commandments, will cause people with good intentions to suffer unnecessary and may even keep them out of heaven through misunderstanding and messing up God’s will for the situation, (Rom. 12:1-2.) 

 

Additionally, I have seen many believers go back to the sin of the world on the insistence of unbelieving spouses and parents, because they refuse to withstand their pressure to join the “old life” again; not wanting to ‘spoil the fun in the home,’ or giving the impression that they “they are holier than thou…”  Under such strain, believers who did not “count the cost” to follow Jesus, fall prey to the devil that always work through misplaced loyalties and love for their loved ones. Although God commanded us to, “If possible, as far as depends on us, live in peace with all people,” this is certainly not always possible, because of the threatening, corrupt choices of unrepentant people, (Rom. 12:18.)

· To bring God’s true Word to people is to bring His Peace and Highest agape to them.  It is a noble passion to seek peace with people, but it does not mean we may bow to their sin in the process.  It is a stern, Scriptural principle that when people unrepentantly reject Jesus and the morality of His Word, we must ‘shake the dust from our feet’ and leave them to their choices, (Mt. 10:14; 18:15-20.)

The reality of bringing the Gospel to unbelievers is that we should NOT speak to the unbelieving world about repentance from sin without first declaring Jesus’ Gospel of redemption, salvation, and blessing to them, (Gal. 3:10-14.)  Should they refuse the Lord Jesus Christ, so-called ‘repentance’ from sin will only be a pretence of ‘goodness.’  We must never loose sight of the fact that clinging to decidedly unrepentant people and hypocritical believers severely affect our own lives in Christ. We must not confuse so-called “passivity” or actually secret aggression with Godly ‘love’ for people. True Godly love does not consist of mere feelings.  Real love is seated in decided submission to God and to everything else that is good and Godly, (Jn. 13:34; Leviticus 18-20.)

The first and most important commandment of God’s Moral Law of Love is this, “Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart, soul [or mind] and strength, and your neighbour AS yourself,” (Mt. 22:37.) To love God is to hate all moral sin — our own sin includedTherefore, we must always ‘love’ sinners (and ourselves) enough to tell them the truth about all things, confront sin as Jesus commanded, (Matthew 18:15-20,) and pray for the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit under all circumstances.  This is how we “withstand” the wiles or schemes and deception of the devil by standing in the whole ‘armor’ of God.  His armor is not a quick-dress ritual, but steadfastly withstanding all evil in complete Holy-Spirit integrity.  When it comes to choosing between standing for Jesus or pacifying people, we must remember His counsel in James 4:4, “Friendship with the [unrepentant evil] world is enmity with God [and with yourself...]”   

Home 

Psychopaths that Deceive and Control us    

A prayer for healing and deliverance from abuse

Dealing with abuse and abusers God’s way  

Not Testing the spirit Speaking to us is “Exalting ourselves Above the Knowledge of God” 

Repent from false doctrine and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior     

KILLER CULTS 

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