Dear Dr. Moore,
My wife and I are at an impasse. There’s been no abandonment, no sexual immorality, and no abuse. We just don’t get along. We shouldn’t have married. We should have known we are incompatible. I know God hates divorce but I don’t have any other option. My pastor and some Christian counselors have told me that while God hates divorce, this is the lesser of two evils because God doesn’t want me to be miserable. What do you think?
Married but Miserable
Here’s what I think (and I’m paraphrasing a pastor friend of mine here). With “Christian” pastors and counselors like these, who needs demons?
Divorce isn’t about you, and it’s not just about your marriage. Divorce is the repudiation of a covenant. It doesn’t start anything over again. It instead defaces the icon God has embedded in the creation of the union between Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:22) .
I do believe that there are exceptions to Jesus’ prohibition against divorce: namely unrepentant sexual immorality or abandonment by a gospel-repudiating spouse. Neither of these, according to you, are present here and so you do not have reason to leave.
I plead with you to reconsider this and to understand that when you give account before the Judgment Seat of Christ, these “counselors” you have around you will not be present, and their cowardly justifications for sin will ring quite hollow.
Does God want you to be miserable? Long-term, no. And that’s why God has designed marriage as a life-long covenant signaling the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the long-term, God wants you to be deliriously happy. But by long-term, I mean the next trillion years, and beyond. In the short-term, one often must bear difficulty and, yes, even misery. Remaining faithful to a wife you wish you hadn’t married might seem miserable to you, but taking up a cross and following Jesus is “miserable,” in the short-run. That’s why the Book of Hebrews presents the life of faith in terms of not receiving what was promised (Hebrews 11:39), but seeing it and embracing it from afar.
If you take the nuclear option of divorce off the table, you might find that you and your wife have more reason to seek help with your problems and make this work. But even if your marriage never becomes what you thought it might be, it is worth it to stand by your words and maintain fidelity to the wife of your youth.
What God has joined together, let no man separate (Mark 10:9). And that includes the “shepherds” whose craven counsel leads to simply more chewable mutton for the wolves.
Publication Date: June 18, 2012
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About Russell Moore
Russell Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He formerly served as Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Crossway, 2004) and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, May 2009).
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