Previously: On patient endurance with love
Our hypothetical situation, in which a Christian wife has a Christian husband who is unrepentant about sinning against her and the children, is not so hypothetical. I have known women in this situation in the past, and know women in this situation now. The sins have been things like consistent anger, harshness, or cruelty toward the wife, a critical and impossible- to- please spirit toward the children, failure to provide for legitimate needs such as food or shoes, undermining the wife’s authority and the respect due her as the mother in front of the children, refusal to instruct the children in the word of the Lord, even [p-rn]ography. The men who do these things, even though they may have been born-again, truly fulfill the description of being disobedient to the word.
If the husband’s secret sin is criminal, according to the law of man or of God, then the wife of course cannot countenance it, and must act to protect herself and her children. A husband who acts criminally toward his wife or children has voluntarily torn up his husband and father card. He fulfills the definition of an unbeliever, and is the one who has left the family by rejecting his responsibility as husband and father.
But while anger or harshness, or even rebellion, is heartbreaking, it is not criminal. I am not making light of the grief these women endure when their husbands place them in the situations mentioned above; nor does the Lord. He knows what it is like to be sinned against; He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with griefs. He must become the wife’s strength and portion to endure under these circumstances, and He will be (Psalm 18, 28, 71, 118): His ear is open to the wife’s cry.
The Lord will take up the wife’s cause on her behalf in these situations; He has the desire, the power, and the wisdom to work. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and righteousness, and the wife can trust that the Lord is able to get her husband’s attention, even if the solution is not instantaneous, and she must wait on Him. The Lord is working with the heart of another human being, and the wife can trust Him that He knows what must happen, and what that heart must learn and experience, to come to repentance. The wife can trust that the Lord is doing just what needs to be done, even if the wife, with her limited knowledge and limited perspective, cannot see it on the surface. Thus her need to wait on Him, trusting in Him.
The Lord’s aim, I believe, is the same as the Scriptures relate: to bring the husband to repentance in a spirit of gentleness. The Lord is impartial; He will not take one’s side against the other; He loves both the husband and wife. If He can bring the husband to repentance, and healing of whatever lie or pain is lodged in his heart, then as wives, let us give the Lord that opportunity. Let us wait patiently on Him to work in the heart of our husbands. Let us give grace and mercy to our husbands, just as we have been given grace and mercy by the Lord.
to be continued …
Update: continued in Where to draw the line