Is it biblical to leave my unrepentant husband?

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July 30, 2010

Is it biblical to leave my unrepentant husband?

“I have been with my present husband for 18 years. About 2 years ago he had an affair with another woman. It was hard for me but I dug in deep and leaned on my church for support. I have forgiven him but there are signs that maybe something is happening again (hides his cell phone, never uses it in my presence). He is also emotionally abusive at times. I am trying to hang in there. I attend church regularly and read my Bible and pray every day. He is a believer but does not share in my spiritual hunger or devotion. I am anticipating on leaving and divorcing him but I want to seek God and what His word says before I jump and make this move. Please help me.”

Dearest sister C,

My husband and I have been in much prayer for both you and your husband since I received your email. Your situation unfortunately, seems to be a common one, even amongst believers. And my husband and I often pray for God to help His children live as lights of this world, strangers, those who are so different that those who do not belong to Him, will ask where our hope comes from and where our trust and joy lie, even in the midst of painful trials.

It is truly sad that children of the Most High God do not often live as if we are; that is, live victorious lives in Christ, rather than floundering around in the mire pit from whence we came. But I don’t want you to be one of these sad children of God who are not living in your true life, your real life, the victorious life Christ died to give you. I want to exhort you and encourage you by God’s love and Christ’s perseverance, so that you too may rise above the ashes and see the beauty of your life, just as our Lord Jesus has given it you – for He gave you His life, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.

You stated that you are “anticipating on leaving and divorcing him but I want to seek God and what His word says before I jump and make this move.” This is very wise sister, and God will bless you for trusting Him and His word over the current pain of your circumstances and over your own personal emotions and desires. Here is what the word of God says about what you’ve asked:

Romans 7:2
“For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.”

1 Corinthians 7:10, 39
“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband…A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

So, the simple and obvious answer according to God’s word, you must stay with your husband sister and not seek to divorce him. I know that this answer seems quite daunting in the light of what you are enduring right now precious friend, so I want to encourage you also with how the Lord desires for you to stay in your current situation by addressing some of the other things you mentioned in your email.

Sister C: I counseled with one of my female Pastors at my Church alone. She mentioned that she and her husband (who is also one of the Pastors) would be happy to meet with my husband and myself for couples counseling. My husband would not agree to it, but she did tell me that I need to continue praying and seeking Gods guidance on the matter. God blesses a marriage union and together he and I should not allow the enemy to come between us and destroy what God has blessed.

Sunny: You were wise in seeking help from your church, for this is the purpose of the fellowship of believers in which God has provided for you. Although it is not biblical for a woman to be a Pastor you received good and wise counsel from them sister. God truly blesses marriages and it was good that you were exhorted to stay the course, for your battle is not with your husband or the other woman (although it may seem that way), but it is with our enemy Satan, just as the Scriptures say:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”

Ephesians 6:12
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

And while it is true and ideal, what your Pastor said, that “together” you and your husband should battle the enemy, this is not always possible if the husband is not willing to repent and turn to the Lord for forgiveness and help. But because God is truly the God of all comfort and because He is true to His word, regardless if we or our spouses are true to ours/theirs, we can always trust and live by what our LORD God says and not how our spouses behave. For God has promised to give a woman an extra special measure of faith, grace, mercy and wisdom so that she may not only endure the pain of her husband’s sin(s), but so that she may also be strengthened by His word to fiercely wage war against the true enemy who brought this battle; Satan alone, and not her husband.

Here is the assurance and hope God provides for a wife who is married to a man who is not obedient to God’s word:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
~ 1 Peter 3:1-6
(emphasis added)

Sister C: I know the Lord will never leave me or forsake me and I hold tightly to that promise, I just feel that my husband is hindering my spiritual walk.

Sunny: No, my beautiful sister, it is not your husband that is trying to hinder your spiritual walk it is Satan alone, for only Satan benefits and is pleased if you do not draw near to the Lord. Your husband has no personal gain from preventing your spiritual walk, only Satan does, for the word of God says:

Revelation 12:9-10
“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

Sister C: I guess I am just looking for instant results and resolution but our time is not the Lords time and our thoughts are not His thoughts. It just gets really hard when I am called bad and insulting names; that’s when I just want to walk away from the marriage. It is a constant battle with the flesh and the spirit daily.

Sunny: Yes my beloved sister, it is – a constant battle with the flesh and the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us. And we must battle against our flesh and Satan, by abiding in Christ and His word, just as He commanded us. We must press on, no matter the circumstance, for Christ our God has promised that He will comfort us, strengthen us and He alone will win the battle for us, if only we die to ourselves, our pain, our sorrows and live fully and only in His joy; that is, to faithfully, lovingly and willingly obey the Father. Our Lord Jesus understands and knows about our sorrows, much deeper and more grievous than we could ever comprehend, for we will never suffer as He suffered to save our souls. Therefore, let us stand on His word alone, so that we might not be shaken and let us fix our eyes on the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Here are some Scriptures to comfort and strengthen you when you are weary from the battle against your flesh and the enemy:

Psalm 16:8-9
“I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”

And though your flesh and Satan tempt you to disobey God’s command to you as a wife, do not give in sister, do not waver, but hold fast to our Lord’s promise and His words of hope, comfort and exhortation:

1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Beloved sister C, you are very wise in discerning God’s truth as you stated that you know that God’s timing and thoughts are not the same as our timing and thoughts; just as the LORD spoke through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:8-11
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

As far as the insults you have endured, sister, I understand. I have been there too. The LORD our God was merciful and gracious to me when He allowed me to endure 13 years of severe physical, emotional and verbal abuse by my entire family – this all due to the fact that I alone am a Christian amongst my parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. It is not easy to endure daily spears of wicked words being hurled at you. But it is humbling to consider the same words and even worse words were hurled at our Savior. And when I am humbled by this thought, I remember what He taught me through His word and I pray this comforts you as well and directs your heart toward God’s love and Christ’s perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

“For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”
~ 1 Peter 2:21-23

I would like to close with this thought my beautiful sister, remember what you are living for – Christ Jesus alone, for His glory alone and for His pleasure alone in order to demonstrate the measure of your gratitude toward God our Father who gave His only begotten Son, so that we might all live above and beyond the trials of this world and live in His glorious light. We live for THAT day, not THIS day, for THAT day is quickly approaching, and THIS day and all its troubles will pass faster than a mist. Therefore, let us set our hearts and minds on all that is above, always preparing ourselves for the Day of the Lord; that our lives may be considered as something beautiful in the sight of our the Lord Jesus (Mark 14:6).

2 Peter 3:10, 14
“But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed…Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

Mindful of the above passage, I want to spur you on sister, knowing that the Day of the Lord is near (Hebrews 10:23-25). And to live not as those without hope or trust in the One True God, but as a daughter of God Most High who trusts her Father’s words over her own emotions, feelings, thoughts and weary soul.

If you would like further and continued support as you travel this road, I think you would greatly benefit from participating in my online Bible study, My Second Love: A Proverbs 31 Study so that you will have continual encouragement from God’s word to stay your course and press on. ♥

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

May the grace and peace of our most merciful God and Father, keep you dear sister. And may our precious and beloved Jesus strengthen you with the power of His grace.


  1. Dear Sunny, as a daughter of the King and a fellow sister in Christ I respectively disagree with you. You have given this hurting woman a pat surface level answer, even though I am sure you believe otherwise. Yes, God will sustain her and allow her to grow closer to Him-- more than she ever imagined. And, YES, God hates divorce, but HE also gives us an out where infidelity is concerned, and he does allow separation according to His word....When you tell an abused woman to "die to self" it is usually so misinterpreted. God calls us to die to our own WIll, but not to our integrity, or to the beautiful unique person He created us to be. To tell a woman to hide in Christ as she is being trampled on, disrespected, and far from honored by her husband is putting false guilt on her. Yes, we are to cling to Christ and hide in the shelter of His arms, but we are also called to walk in reality and with dignity. You, not giving her any more tools than what you gave her is like telling a woman dying of cancer to just read scripture and cling to HIm. We live in a world now where there are other resources to deal with cancer as we cling to the Lord, and there are resources for an abused woman, along with clinging to the Lord. Dr. Dobson's book LOVE MUST BE TOUGH was a life saver for me. It is grounded in the Bible and gives a woman empowerment and dignity, and does not tell her to die to self as you described. Again, an abused woman does not hear "die to self" in a healthy and truly God-centered way. Also, I highly recommend, THE MYTH OF THE SUBMISSIVE CHRISTIAN WOMAN, by Brenda Waggoner. The Lord is using this book as a Biblical life-line to help me navigate through an unhappy marriage and showing me biblical ways to deal in the reality of the situation and to honor Him and myself in the process. If we do not learn to love ourselves in the light of Christs love, to stay true to the person He created us to be as we grow in Him then it is impossible to love our husbands. And loving our husbands in the true sense of the word does not mean to just pray and read scripture and passively accept his sins. You are asking her to do something that I do not believe God is calling her to do. God tells us in Titus 2 to say NO to ungodliness; and abuse and sneaking around, and infidelity, is DEFINITELY ungodly. This woman does have biblical backing to separate until and if her husband truly repents and walks a submissive walk with Christ himself. A man will not respect a woman he can continually run over. And Christ can use many means to bring a man to repentance. To tell her to basically grin and bear it in Christ is as bad as telling a woman with a broken arm to grin and bear it in Christ and let Him heal it. It is not ungodly to go to a doctor and get your arm put in a cast, or have surgery to fix it, as we hope and cling to Christ. The same principal applies here!!! I say all of this because I am walking the talk. He is giving me the grace to be strong and loving and forgiving as I set healthy God ordained boundaries. I look and feel beautiful, even though I have a "sick" husband, and it is only because His grace and strength and beauty dwells inside me.....Blessings to you in His name, Cate

  2. Hello there precious sister Cate,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment and love for our sister who wrote to me and asked me this well as love for all women who are under much duress in their marriages.

    I also respectfully disagree with you I have answered our precious sister with Scripture and not personal feelings or self-esteem, self-improvement ideas. Biblical submission is not a myth, but a beautiful truth that truly sets wives free.

    I understand that you don't know the entire situation with this dear sister who wrote to me. I've been in communication with her both prior to and after I answered her in this post. After the post, she wrote again thanking me for my response through prayer and by the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than by my emotions. Which is hard to do as women. She stated that she knew with her whole heart that this was the answer from the Lord and it brought her great peace, joy and much strength. :-) She is doing well and gaining more wisdom, growing in her faith and watching God work miracles in her life.

    For 13 years, I was brutally beaten, verbally and emotionally abused by my entire family b/c I was the only Christian and respectfully refused to participate in the Buddhist ancestral worship as well as other issues that collided with my faith in Christ and their belief in Buddhism. I know what it is to be in a subordinate position and as you can see, God faithfully rescued me from all my troubles, in His perfect way, with His perfect timing. I never want any sister in Christ to miss out on all the "Red Sea" partings I witnessed during those tumultuous times in my life. The Christian life sister, is full of times where we must either fully trust God, submit to Him, die to self and entrust our lives to the only who can save, or we will take matters into our own hands whilst all the time, weakening our faith and trust in the Lord. What happens when we do the latter? Well, we become embittered women who are still angry about injustices against us rather than growing more and more in the gentleness and self-control.

    The Lord has graciously given me many women to counsel on this very issue over the past 15+ years and each time, the marriage is either reconciled with miraculous testimonies, or the husband who is unrepentant divorces the wife, thereby sinning alone rather than the wife sinning by divorcing him. Either way, the Lord delivers these faithful women without any guilt or anger on their part and all of them have grown tremendously in their faith.

    I won't repeat all the Scriptures that support my response to our dear sister since it's already mentioned in this post. Btw, one of the most misinterpreted passages of Scripture is the ones that where Jesus says a husband may divorce his wife is SHE is found unfaithful, not the other way around. Jesus never mentions an "out" for a woman. The apostle Paul also supports this in 1 Cor 7:10-11 that a woman is not to leave her husband or divorce him.

    May the Lord's grace and peace be with you sister. I pray that the Lord will calm all the storms that continue to rage within you. Zephaniah 3:17

    With much love,

  3. Thank you, Sunny, for your reply. And you are right, I do not know this woman and as you stated, you do. However, my testimony is real and centered in the wonderful love of the Lord. I have been married to one man for 34 years. I have loved him since I was 19. I have been subject to his verbal, physical, emotional, and financial abuse. I have walked with him through his infidelity and drug and alcohol abuse. The Lord is and has been my rock. Through the Lord's mercies my husband has turned around, yet is not totally set free in the Lord. But because of the Lord I have joy and peace and our 4 children are walking in love with the Lord and have Godly and loving spouses. Praise Him!! That is only a miracle from Him.... Also, because of the Lord, I was given valuable tools through Dr. James Dobson and Brenda Waggoner, and Godly pastoral counseling that has NOTHING to do with just emotions. Godly submission is certainly NOT a myth, but how it is interpreted often by the church and well meaning Christians sometimes is. That is what this book by Brenda Waggoner addresses, and unless you read it, you can not fully assume it has to do with just emotions or self esteem issues. Nor does LOVE MUST BE TOUGH.....Through my own close walk with the Lord and personal growth in Him I have found a gentleness and strength and an incredible love for my husband that is ONLY because of Him. However, as I stated in the cancer analogy previously, these books, along with scripture brought me a healthy self love and respect that only comes from Christ.....I am so glad your friend is abiding in Him and finding the strength and peace that is found in Him and Him alone. AS a counselor I encourage you to read Love Must Be Tough, and The Myth of The Submissive Christian Woman before you decide it's merit. ( It appears you are not familiar with these books since you did not mention them, except to say, submission is not a myth, which if you read this book you will see, hopefully, what the author means by this, and it will perhaps give you a different insight into hurting and abused women.) I personally stand behind both of these invaluable books, as I stand with my Lord and Savior.I am thankful for the insight and encouragement they brought to me which in no way maligned God's Holy Scripture.In the peace and strength that He brings, Cate

  4. Miller uses his wife and kids as vehicles for his comedic thesis and like all good comedy uses unrepentant logic drive the humor home. ...

  5. Sonny Bill Williams has refused to apologise for his forthcoming return to the boxing ring, insisting that it will leave him sharp and ready for his Super

  6. (Please see my forthcoming article entitled: “The Unrepentant Sinner.”) Therefore, Paul is a preacher of heresy. He is also a “confusionist” to boot.

  7. Betts lived comfortably because she had two jobs and her husband had a state job. ... She is officially guilty, and unrepentant, she should not be free to ...

  8. The normally unrepentant producers of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” who ... She separates from her husband, even as she tries to heal the marriage of her ...


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