Jesus said that divorce was permitted when hearts were hard. If you and your husband do not have tender hearts, you can forget working toward a true Christian marriage. If he is not truly repentant and keeps resisting any accountability, (and if you hold firm on setting up some kind of accountability system and involvement in a local church), he will not be happy. He may want to leave you if you can’t be more “tolerant.” Let him go. It is time for you to be realistic about such things as fruit of the Spirit and tender vs. hard hearts. Adultery? Abuse? Homosexuality? Drugs? Refusal to provide for the family? Or really help raise the children? Living his own life (beside you, but without you)? Are you really expected to be tolerant about such things? What would Jesus say?
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it” (Matthew 19:8-12).
Without a tender heart, what can anyone do? It takes the Holy Spirit to understand and apply the scriptures. Paul explained this passage,
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife (I Corinthians 7:10-11).
This is talking about divorcing for reasons other than sexual immorality. Paul was seeing the hard heart as causing divorce for a myriad of reasons, but he warned against remarriage in those cases. Divorce is to be taken very seriously. This makes one stop and think, doesn’t it?
But, how much do you put up with? How much do you put up with when a man is determined to do what he wants and to be unaccountable to anyone? You can’t pretend he has a tender heart toward God and love for you when he continues to live any way he chooses.
Now it is time to ask yourself: How peaceful is my life? If no matter what you do or say or how much you change, there is still no peace in this marriage, take a deep breath and let him go. Don’t hold on to him by looking the other way, pretending he is faithful to you or wants a true Christian oneness. That is not a peaceful life.
But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (I Corinthians 7: 15-16).
It would be ideal if you two could agree to a life together–even without being on the same page with the application of your faith. If both of you remain faithful to each other and accept a life of accountability, and can live together without constant bickering, then who knows? Perhaps he will become a Christian. But, if there is unfaithfulness or no accountability; no working together toward oneness and no real peace in the home without your giving in on everything, then divorce looms. Get yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Go to a lawyer with all your financial records. Let him go.
Your children need a peaceful home. God doesn’t want us to live in fear or anger, or depression, defeat, or being controlled or humiliated, but in peace. As I look back on the 44 1/2 years of being married to John, I am very thankful for the peace we had together. I did not grow up in a peaceful home. My father was hardhearted, controlling, and unaccountable. It did much harm to my brother and I, not to mention my tenderhearted mother. God has called us to live in harmony and true peace–not a fake peace bought by caving in.
God shines his love upon us and gives us grace. Remember,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will go strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace (a chorus we sang at camp when I was a teen).
He is altogether lovely. He is altogether lovely. He’s the fairest of ten thousand. This wonderful Savior of mine (another chorus from camp).
The LORD is my strength and song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous; Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118:14-15;29).
Grace–that favor with God because of his forever love, mercy, and compassion for you–does not stop just because your marriage is in trouble or fails. With that hope before you, pray that God will lead you and your husband to decisions that lead to a peaceful life. Divorce? It may take that extreme step for you to live in peace.