I counselled a couple whose marriage has broken down irretrievably. I felt really sad for them and their young children.
I have always believed, preached and upheld marriage as a lifelong commitment.
So did Lysa Terkeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries.
She taught, encouraged and empowered women to fight for their marriages and do everything they can to save their marriages.
But recently she revealed she is divorcing her husband of 25 years.
With pain and sadness she shared: “… for the past couple of years I have been in the hardest battle of my life trying to save my marriage … “My husband, life partner and father of my children has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online … his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse … I have decided to separate from him … I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savoir.”
I could imagine how tough and heartbroken it was for her to end the marriage she strongly believes is a sacred tie.
It begs a sobering question, “At what point the tie no longer binds?”
I believe there are three ”A” indicative of a marriage that has died.
The Bible is clear about abandonment or desertion in marriage.
“If the one who is not a Christian wants to leave, let that one go. The Christian husband or wife should not try to make the other one stay. God wants you to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15 NCV).
To be clear, this does not mean storming out of the house for a while. Though it is not good nor healthy yet it does not constitute abandonment. Abandonment is leaving for a long period of time.
Perpetually walking out of the house in heated arguments has a way of killing the marriage. It can reach a point when it might be hard to resuscitate the dead marriage.
The Bible is also clear about another ground for ending a marriage.
“The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if she has sexual relations with another man” (Matthew 5:32 NCV).
Adultery has killed many marriages. Infidelity destroys the sacred covenant of marriage.
However let me also say there’s hope in some cases when a single act of adultery was followed by true remorse and genuine repentance. The scars may still remain yet forgiveness can heal and save the broken marriage.
But a habitual pattern of unfaithfulness can kill a marriage as in the case of Lysa Terkeurst.
Spousal abuse and family violence have hurt and destroyed many marriages.
All brutal beating by an abusive spouse, be it physical, emotional or verbal is wrong in the sight of God.
No marriage can survive or should endure such abusive battering.
There can be no justification for abuse. Spousal abuse is wrong, sinful and evil. The scriptural teaching of submission is always to a loving spouse and not to an abusive one.
The safety and sanity of the abused victim have to be protected. In such circumstances, the only option may be to end the marriage.
My heart goes out to those who held on to hope and fought so hard to keep their marriage.
But there might come a time to let go and accept the tie no longer binds.