A Biblical Reflection on Marital Strife

I have been speaking about prophecy recently. Forgive me for returning to the core of this subject again.

I have been counseling someone on an ad hoc basis. I did it again today via a telephonic link. He and his wife were divorced in December after a period of strife and trial. In listening to his story, I heard that his guidance was taken largely from his father and his pastor.

The Father

His father, according to him, is a godly man, but is manipulative, controlling and demanding.

His father is the boss of their company, and his way is, as the old fashion saying goes, “do as I say”. Both his sons work for him and he expects every person in the family, children, in-law-children and grandchildren included, to give undivided obedience to his every decree. He is relentless in controlling the family to suit his will and desire. Can he be that godly?

The wife of the man I am counseling challenged her father-in-law about his demand that the entire family go on their December holiday together to the venue of his choice. This challenge came after 15 years of father-in-law’s persistent manipulation of his greater family to comply with his will.

When I asked the counselee whether he stood up for his wife or his father, the man said he supported his father. He works for him and has been controlled by him for so many years that he let his wife down by not considering her feelings and desires!

The Pastor

His pastor, seemingly from a large congregation, seems to follow a charismatic theological approach to his ministry.

This pastor said God told him that the man’s marriage was over and that he should divorce his wife. Due to the continual collapse of the marriage, the wife, I feel, sinfully fell into the arms of a listening ear that would hear her and give her comfort. So they were divorced.

What does the Bible say about both these men and their actions?

The Father’s Control and Manipulation

The Bible is clear that marriage constitutes and NEW family unit.

Ge 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

You easily see three issues that flow from this text: leaving the parents’ home; relational permanency with the wife and oneness in the very deepest manner. Not his father, nor his career, but his wife ought to have been this man’s priority. He failed in his Biblical role as a husband. He removed this woman from her parents to be his wife and created a new family, but never found his way out of his father’s manipulative control!

The Pastor’s Unbiblical Approach

A pastor may not give counsel according to his theological approach just because he does not like what he sees, nor according to his hatred for a particular sin. Nowhere in the Bible does it say a pastor has the right to say: a. God told me that your marriage is over; b. God told me to tell you to divorce your wife.

It is true that sin is sin, and sin is terrible … but are we not all sinners?

Who has not committed adultery?

Mt 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Who has not murdered?

Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Who has not sinned?

Jn 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

In the light of Israel’s adulterous relationship with Him, God used Hosea as an illustration. His wife prostituted herself with other men, as Israel did with other gods, yet God said to Hosea he needed to take her back and love her … just as He took Israel back. Even though this illustrates idolatry and pardon, if Hosea had to take back an adulterous wife, surely adultery is forgivable!

Surely this verse does not legalize divorce because of adultery, as Jesus says in Matthew:

Mt 5:32 “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to know the Bible well enough to think Biblically about the many issues facing me these days, especially what you say about Biblical marriage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *