Ask Pastor Roger Barrier - Church Leadership

How Do I Live with Someone Who Wants Me Dead?

How Do I Live with Someone Who Wants Me Dead?

Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at

Editor’s Note: This week’s question to Roger was quite lengthy, so what you see below is an abbreviated version - the full version has been moved to the end of the article for anyone who wishes to read it.

Dear Roger,
How can I be with someone who wants me dead?


Dear Alice,

Your story does more than break my heart. I am angry that your ex-husband was such a wicked, abusive, despicable and vindictive man. You are a special woman to be able to forgive him. The strength this gives you is valuable; but as much pain as your letter contains leads me to believe that there are still agonizing pains and piles of hurt. May God grant you a total and complete emotional and mental healing.

I grieve that you failed to have a loving marriage and a partner dedicated to making a marriage like God designed it to be. May God lead you to a great man and to a wonderful second marriage that far surpasses all the love you missed, great companionship and the delight that God wanted for your first marriage.

I believe that the religious people who told you that God says you can never marry again are miserably mistaken. God said to Adam in Genesis 2:18: "It is not good for man to be alone" . . . . Then created Eve to be his partner and companion in marriage. The first place that God wants people to have their alone needs met is in the context of marriage. If they aren't met there, he wants them met in our families. If our families are not healthy then the church is to be the safety net for meeting needs.

Fortunately, you are not doomed to a life of lonely misery. The Bible is careful to tell us that when marriages sour, He is more interested in picking up the pieces and helping us start over than He is in punishing us for our past failures.
God says that if you have Biblical grounds for divorce then you always have Biblical grounds for remarriage.

Here are the Biblical grounds for divorce as I see them:

1. Adultery is always grounds for divorce (Matthew 5:31-32).

2. A Christian may divorce a non-Christian if the non-Christian wants to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:12-16).

3. Physical abuse, and in many cases emotional, cruel and/or mental abuse may mean that it is time to consider abandoning the marriage (Malachi 2:16).

4. The husband who consistently refuses to live up his responsibility of loving his wife as Jesus loved the church, may, in some cases, have violated his marriage vows and made the marriage contract null and void (Ephesians 5:25-33).

5. The wife who undermines and/or disrespects her loving husband, may, in some cases, have violated her marriage vows and made the marriage contract null and void (Ephesians 5:22-24).

6. The husband who refuses to get a job in order to meet the needs of his family is worse than an unbelieving non-Christian (1 Timothy 5:8). He has forfeited his role as a husband and violated his marriage vows.

7. God never intended for people who are divorced without Biblical grounds to remain single forever (Genesis 2:18 and Matthew 5:32; 19:8-9).

8. If you have proper grounds for a divorce, then you have proper grounds to remarry (1 Corinthians 7:15, 39).

9. If your previous partner has remarried, reconciliation is impossible. There is freedom to remarry.

10. In certain cases it is God's will to remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

11. When a marriage is irrevocably marred and broken it may well be time for both parties to consider simply picking up the pieces and starting over again (John 8:1-12).

You have the right to for divorce and remarriage base on numbers one, two, three and eleven.

You may open your heart and pray for God to bring the right man into your life. I will pray that God will grant you many great days ahead with the right man.

Now we need to talk about your church and the way they have treated you. It sounds to me like they have hurt you deeply, given you some unsound advice and put limits on what you can do with the rest of your life. It sounds like you are suffering, hurt and ostracized by the people in your religion. I am so sorry they have mistreated you like that. I imagine you must feel like they have deserted you--that nobody cares. I would imagine that you struggle with being alone. This is not good.

I read in the newspaper about a 14-year-old boy who took his own life because “no one seemed to care.”

He felt no love from anyone, except his dog, and in a brief suicide note written to his parents, he left instructions for the care of his dog.

“No one seemed to care.” What a sharp rebuke to our lack of love -- or lack of showing our love. It is likely that the boy’s parents really did care, but distracted by the cares of everyday living, they failed to communicate their love.

You might consider finding a church that is more loving and more graceful in its approach to the Bible and to others.

Paul described how a church should handle a person who has sinned or has repented from their sin when they want to be part of the church family. (By the way, from what you shared with me, you have not sinned.). The proper church behavior is found in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul told the church to put a man who sinned and refused to repent out of their church fellowship until he changed his mind. In 2 Corinthians 5 he repented and wanted to come back to Jesus and to the church. Paul told them to open their arms and receive him back for several reasons.

By their attitude your church has ostracized you. It is time for them to welcome you back with grace and not with judgment. These principles are not just for you. Paul's directions apply to all churches of all time.

(1) be aware of the schemes of Satan
(2) deal honestly in the open with the issues
(3) forgive like Jesus
(4) comfort like Christ
(5) open up and express love to those who are hurting

I love the following illustration by Chuck Swindoll from his book, "The Tardy Oxcart." He describes what church ought to be like.

By Charles Swindoll

An old Marine Corps buddy of mine, to my pleasant surprise, came to know Christ after he was discharged. I say surprise because he cursed loudly, fought hard, chased women, drank heavily, loved war and weapons, and hated chapel services
A number of months ago, I wan into this fellow, and after we'd talked awhile, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "You know, Chuck, the only thing I still miss is that old fellowship I used to have with all the guys down at the tavern. I remember how we used to sit around and laugh and drink a pitcher of beer and tell stories and let our hair down. I can't find anything like that for Christians. I no longer have a place to admit my faults and talk about my battles - where somebody won't preach at me and frown and quite me a verse."

It wasn't one month later that in my reading I came across this profound paragraph: "The neighborhood bar is probably the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It's an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality - but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don't tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers With all my heart," this writer concludes, "I believe that Christ wants his people to be unshockable, a fellowship where people can come in and say, 'I'm sunk, I'm beat, I've had it.' Alcoholics Anonymous has this quality - our churches too often miss it."

Now before you take up arms to shoot some wag that would compare your church to the corner bar, stop and ask yourself some tough questions, like I had to do. Make a list of some possible embarrassing situations people may not know how to handle.

A woman discovers her husband is a practicing homosexual. Where in the church can she find help where she's secure with her secret?

Your spouse talks about separation or divorce. To whom in the church do you tell it?

Your daughter is pregnant, and she's run away - for the third time. She's no longer listening to you. Who do you tell that to?

Financially you were unwise, and you're in deep trouble.

Or a your wife is an alcoholic.

Or something as horrible as getting back the biopsy from the surgeon, and it reveals cancer, and the prognosis isn't good.

Or you had an emotional breakdown. To whom do you tell it?

I want to go to a church like the local tavern. I suppose you do, too.


By the way, I almost forgot to answer the most important question that you asked: "How do I live with someone who wants me dead?"

You don't. You get out of there as fast as possible.

I hope my answer is helpful to you.

Love, Roger


Dear Roger: 

Hi! I am separated with two kids who I take care by myself. I had to make a stop to violence and abuse in my marriage. Physically i was also risking my life and emotionally I was feeling very low . . . . I did my utmost to save the marriage but I had to do what I never dreamed I would against my will for I loved him and even now maybe there is a bit of me still does but I can’t trust him to be with him.

He does not love me and also shows that in his actions even in mediation he came to punch me in front of people. . . . Physically it is impossible to me emotionally it’s hard. I had many repercussions after abuse lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, isolation still fight emotions .I find hard to trust I have a phobia of men . . .

Very hard, I gave him chances and went with him to groups to rebuild everything but no use. . . . Once he nearly strangled me and it was a circle of abuse never ending that not take anymore. . . .

I would like to ask you am I not entitled to love again and receive true love just because my marriage did not function. Am I going to suffer more internally because of the love denied and not ever having human love?

I value the sacrament of marriage but I felt cornered to do what i never wanted and I realized that love is not forever when I saw how he treated me.

I forgave my ex even if it is hard and had to let him go to find the peace and respect I never had. The last words of my ex were "you will have nothing, you are not entitled to have love ever again in my life." but I know deep down it’s not right.

Knowing the church to be strict to the unfortunate situations of others makes me feel sad and also more lonely inside and heartbroken. If God created man to be with a woman so how come I am eternally forbidden to have a man if my ex does not want to be a man with me?

How can I be with someone who wants me dead?

Does not God wants my own happiness I ask? I feel miserable inside knowing I am a prisoner of the religion.
I find life can be even beautiful even when you find your independence but when a person inside wish to have somebody and you say forever no it’s very unbearable. How can that person feel complete and happy on earth when denied I ask. . . . I feel like I am punished , I have the Love of God yes and you can say I have all I need but still I wish many times to have someone to love me back. Why not if he respects me and love me truly, something my ex did not do.

For now I am confused what to think of religion regarding this I never had a clear answer. People tell you no but my heart says it’s not what I deserve. I appreciate an answer

Thanks, Alice


Ask RogerDr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.

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