In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we answer questions from our audience related to the difficulties and heartache that accompany troubled marriages and divorce situations.
Tommy and I get a number of inquiries from readers asking my perspective or what we often refer to as the prodigal’s perspective on certain topics. One of the more common questions is, do you think my prodigal is open to the possibility of restoration. More than likely, if you are asking this question, the answer is yes!
During our pause, it was evident to Tommy when the Lord was working on me and softening my heart. We began having more meaningful conversations and spent quality time together with our children. That doesn’t mean there is no hope of restoration if your spouse (or ex-spouse in some cases) doesn’t desire to speak to you or spend time with you, but it may mean you have a longer road ahead if the latter situation is one you find yourself in currently.
Below are some practical tips along with biblical guidance that greatly impacted my life during our separation and divorce.
- Show your prodigal sacrificial love without expecting anything in return.
Nothing demonstrates Christ’s love like sacrifice and selflessness. Find ways to love and serve your prodigal without expecting anything in return. If you are not sure what to do, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and don’t be surprised if He reveals something that is outside your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone forces trust in the Lord and growth in your spiritual walk. That awkward and uncomfortable feeling also produces authenticity. Your prodigal will sense if you are attempting to serve with an ulterior motive so the more authentic, the better.
There are numerous examples I’ve shared in our podcasts where Tommy went above and beyond in his pursuit to love me well. His acts of service displayed the love of Christ in ways that were not present during our previous ten years of marriage. Over time, the seeds he sowed took root and began to grow. His sacrifices did not go unnoticed. It did not happen immediately, but in time, God revealed the fruit from his labor.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
- Ask if you can pray with your prodigal or if you can pray for them.
It’s important to use discernment when addressing your prodigal. Some days there may be more of a reluctance to talk about spiritual matters than others. But, when you recognize there is an openness and willingness, ask if you can pray with your spouse or pray for them. Not only will this create a healthy dialogue, but it will also shine a light into what’s happening in the life of your prodigal.
I don’t recommend this every time you speak, but perhaps monthly or bi-weekly depending on how often you talk. Also, be sure to prepare your heart for their response. Don’t take it personally if they do not request prayer for your marriage. When you spend quiet time with the Lord, you can pray for your current situation.
If your prodigal is agreeable to prayer, that is a great sign that God is at work! Desiring your prodigal to have a restored relationship with the Lord should far outweigh the longing for a restored marriage. Keep in mind, only the work of the Holy Spirit can transform the heart and mind so be patient and loving when approaching your spouse.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
- Take responsibility for any sinful behaviors, habits or actions that you may have contributed to the marriage.
I recognize this may be very hard to hear, and you may be wondering why you should take the initiative if you’re the one being wronged. This difficult question has a very simple answer. God took the initiative to love us when we were unloveable and we should do the same for our covenant spouse. Repentance is necessary before reconciliation can occur and God’s Word calls us to reconcile relationships. You have no control over your prodigal’s actions or inactions, but you can take personal responsibility for yourself.
I remember vividly every time Tommy came to me to apologize for past sins and ways he had wronged me. At first, I thought he was using his sins as an excuse for his bad behavior. With time, I came to understand that God had transformed his heart and his godly sorrow was sincere.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-28, 36
For those that have little to no contact with your prodigal, there is still hope! We did not always communicate well or communicate often. It takes time. God hears your cries and understands your desire for healing and restoration, so don’t give up on the process. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I pray these steps come in handy.
- Pray fervently. 1 John 5:14, Romans 12:12, James 5:16, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Read Scripture for encouragement and guidance. Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Fast. Joel 2:12, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 5:6
- Serve while you wait. Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 20:27-28, Romans 12:10-13
- Lean on your church family. Galatians 6:2, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25
Dear friends, may God continue to bless you and strengthen you as you stand for your marriage, no matter where you are in your journey!
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.Isaiah 55:7 ESV
Are you running from your marriage? Have you convinced yourself that investing any more time in a relationship that isn’t providing what you want or feel you deserve is an exercise in futility? Do you long for a fresh start and clean break from the bondage to a marriage partner you have fallen “out of love” with? If so, please take the next few minutes to consider a perspective that up until this point, may have eluded you.
If you answered the above questions in the affirmative, it is likely you’ve already purposed in your mind the path to be taken. You may think to yourself that nobody should have to remain in a loveless marriage. You deserve to be happy and God wouldn’t want you to be miserable the rest of your life. You might even acknowledge that divorce is wrong, but believe your situation is unique. Restoration, healing and forgiveness may work for some marriages, but not yours… Or so you think.
YOU ENTERED INTO A COVENANT WITH YOUR SPOUSE AND GOD.
Consider the oath made on your wedding day and the words spoken before your spouse, pastor, audience, and Almighty God. “I take you to be my wife (or husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9
Once joined in marriage, Jesus himself plainly states the husband and wife should not be separated. This is not up for debate, nor are there any special circumstances or loopholes. Divorce is not to happen. If you willingly violate God’s law and think there won’t be consequences, you are gravely mistaken.
GOD DOES NOT MAKE “EXCEPTIONS” TO HIS LAW.
But my spouse violated the covenant by not honoring or respecting me, so therefore it’s ok if I walk away from the marriage. WRONG! If this is your line of reasoning, it is seriously flawed. Two wrongs do not make a right. Furthermore, do you see any example in Scripture where a sin is atoned for by committing another sin? On the contrary, if we examine the life of Jesus, we see the complete opposite. He countered hate with love, anger with grace and longsuffering and bitterness with forgiveness.
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
The behavior of your spouse does not let you off the hook when it comes to honoring the marriage covenant. Even if your husband or spouse has committed adultery, divorce is not justified. Divorce only prevents you from being found guilty of adultery if the grounds for divorce is sexual immorality. The anger, unforgiveness, and hard heartedness that have existed leading up to the divorce, are still offenses you will need to give account for.
“IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES” IS A LIE FROM THE PIT OF HELL.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
Modern “no-fault” divorce laws reflect a disdain for Christ’s teaching and the message contained in His Word. For confessing Christians especially, the notion of irreconcilability goes against the very heart of the Gospel. The story of God and man is entirely about restoration; a righteous and holy God reconciling Himself with sinful created beings. Saying divorce is the necessary course of action because the conflict between two individuals is too great for God to repair, undermines the reality of God’s power, as well as the validity of your own faith.
STUBBORNNESS AND AN UNWILLINGNESS TO FORGIVE IS LIKE IDOLATRY.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:23 KJV
You cannot reconcile forgiveness with divorce. They are completely at odds with one another. If you claim to have forgiven your spouse, yet are willing to go through with a divorce, you are lying to yourself. Do not be deceived. Unforgiveness and a right relationship with God cannot exist together.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
The pursuit of divorce as a means to bring you happiness, exalts your wants and desires over God’s. Our God is an awesome and jealous God; one who does not share His glory with others. Engaging in this behavior is foolish and dangerous. Those who willingly violate his laws and think accountability will never come are in great error.
SIDING WITH DIVORCE IS SIDING WITH THE WORLD AND SATAN.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:19-21
Divorce is the opposite of love. I would argue that divorce is a perfect example of hate. To stand against one’s spouse in a court of law is to treat him or her as the enemy. Think of the picture this paints for others to see. You would be hard pressed to find a greater example of how to best undermine and destroy the witness or testimony of a professing Christian than to stand before a judge and advocating for the permanent separation of you and your spouse.
For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.Malachi 2:16 NASB
The lost world does not know God or love Him. Being a Bible believing Christian means standing against the things of this world. Defending and advocating for something God says he hates, puts you in the same camp as unbelievers. If this is your position, the question that must be asked is, “What exactly sets you apart?” Your stance on this issue is contrary to the entire theme of Scripture. You cannot hold this perspective and stay in the Lord’s will if you are a child of God. Stop trying to bend God’s Word to fit with your will. Instead, conform your will to God’s truth. This is the only course of action that truly honors our Lord.
If what has been shared here strikes a nerve, then you should be glad. The conscience, which has been given to each and every one of us, is what pricks our hearts and helps us to know the difference between right and wrong. You may be attempting to convince others that your decision to move forward with divorce is right, but deep down in the hidden recesses of your heart, you know this isn’t true. For the sake of God’s kingdom and your witness, I urge you brothers and sisters, please do not go down this path.
One day there will be a reckoning. When you stand before the Almighty, the excuses you have made in this life will be of no value. You will be held accountable for denying the truth of Scripture and willingly violating God’s commands. Do not be a fool. Repent now of your wicked ways, and turn your heart back to Christ. He will forgive. This is His promise. He has a perfect plan for your life, but it will only be realized when you turn away from your life of sin and give yourself completely over to Him. The time to repent is now. Do not delay.