Previously: On divorce
Back to our hypothetical question: what is a Christian woman to do, whose Christian husband sins against her, but will not listen to her, and their church will not obey Matthew 18 because the fear of man is greater for them than the fear of the Lord?
This is not so hypothetical — it happens. I know women in this situation, who are genuinely asking, “What am I to do?”
Many women solve this problem by divorcing their husbands, and this would partially explain the Christian divorce rate. This is man’s flawed answer: solve the problem of sin by committing another sin. But, I do not believe that to be the Scriptural answer to her problem. Just because the woman’s husband is not obeying the Scripture by continuing in his secret sin, whatever it is, that does not absolve the woman from her responsibility — or desire — to obey the Scriptures, if she is a godly woman.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:2-11
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:38-41
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 1 Peter 3:1-2
I believe the Scripture teaches that the wife (or spouse, really — husbands can be in this situation with their wives) is to turn the other cheek to her husband, and continue to love and serve him. To patiently endure suffering, and to return good for evil, is a very unpopular answer. If the wife took the course that 66% of born-again Christians advocate, and divorces her husband instead, society would approve of her. But not leaving, and not reviling, and not gossiping about how awful he is to your friends, and loving him sacrificially instead — this is what God approves. The truth is, God does not always stop every bad thing from happening to us. I believe it grieves the Lord when a Christian husband hardens his heart against his wife, but His word to wives is to entrust themselves to Him.
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed and do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1 Peter 3:8-17
to be continued …
Update: continued in On freely giving, because we have freely received