What if he wants to leave?
Pastor Mark Jeske
Even with a “till death us do part” promise at one time, a marriage, in order to survive, needs two willing participants. St. Paul lists a situation in which a believing spouse may seek a divorce without sinning: “If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances” (1 Corinthians 7:15).
Note the two conditions: 1) one partner wants out and the other is innocent; 2) the one who has given up on the marriage and his or her promise is an unbeliever. The point: if a person is a believer, there is still hope. Believers never give up. Believers listen to the Word, listen to their pastor and counselors, and listen to their families. Believers repent of their own sins and forgive those of their partners. An unbeliever feels no such obligations.
When you are abandoned in such circumstances, you are no longer bound to your marital vows. But before the injured spouse claims desertion and calls an attorney, it is proper to make sure that he or she has exhausted every option. Just because the law allows no-fault divorce doesn’t mean that God approves.
Above all, it is God’s view that matters most to a believer’s heart. It is his approval that we should crave more than any other. When we do things right, we can live without guilt and go forward without lies and excuses.
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