Dear DM, I read Piper’s book and thought I had to stay in my marriage.

Hi DM –

Today was rough for me. A woman at my church asked how I was, and I answered where things are at…awful and that court is next month.

Once she learned we were actually divorcing and not just staying separated she shared her stand that divorce is always sin, and how God hates it, how hard it will be on the kids, how because JESUS forgives us we just forgive and that forgiveness and reconciliation are one and the same if it’s true forgiveness.

She went on now JESUS didn’t mean sexual immorality within marriage, but it meant only the betrothal period and basically to her, she shared this all in love, because she doesn’t want me to do the wrong thing…she married a divorced man before she knew this and she shared how messed up it is for the kids to go through life with step families etc.

It was especially hard for me because I had read [John] Piper’s book in 2012 when the first d day hit and I held onto it and thought it meant I had to stay. When I found out in 2016 he had cheated physically one more time in 2013 after our reconciliation, I made the difficult decision to divorce him. He made a short lived effort to ‘win’ me back, but once he knew I was serious, his anger flew and hasn’t stopped. It just takes different forms.

I wish I could just say I don’t care what she says. But because I used to think that it hit a nerve, and it’s so hard. 

Deciding to divorce him for adultery was the hardest thing I ever did. I just could not continue on in a destroyer marriage full of lies anymore. Not to mention all the mental health stuff and other awful deep difficult issues involved.

It would be easier if all of us Christians agreed. But we don’t. I want to please the Lord. I hate what my kids are going through. But as I see it, that’s a result of his choices, not mine!

She spoke to me of other couples who chose to stay together and of the legacy they left behind…forgiveness..reconciliation…a family for their kids and compared that to what I am choosing…divorce and a lifetime of hurt for my kids.

She acknowledged that in our case she thought we needed a legal separation, but she said it would have to stay at that, otherwise you know, divorce is a [sin?] and why divorce unless it’s for the purpose of remarrying?

I had a lot to say in return including just because I want a divorce that does not mean it’s for remarrying. I don’t know what God has in store for me, but this marriage is now dead.

The conversation left me upset and deflated. This is not the first, second, or third time I had this happen. I am not his Savior. I will forgive but not stay married to him.

JESUS tells me to forgive so I will! I don’t see JESUS telling me to stay married to him!

I was thankful to come home and look up your response to Pipers stand so I could remember what he said etc. And why I don’t agree.

In the end, I feel sad and sick about this devastation and never wanted this. I don’t feel ‘peace.’ I feel necessity and a deep hope that God will keep using my life, and that I can have a legacy of love and trust in Him through it ALL!

Any reply would be great.

Thank you,

A

 

Dear A,

For starters, I hope you give yourself some grace. 

Please cut yourself some slack. It is okay to struggle with this person’s unwanted feedback. Many here–present company included–can relate to your experience. You are not alone.

On to what you wrote,

Once she learned we were actually divorcing and not just staying separated she shared her stand…

She is not entitled to speak into your life!

If you wanted her opinion on divorce–and that is all this is her opinion–you could ask. Part of dealing with these characters is firmly reminding them that they have trespassed on your soul and that is unacceptable!

They are NOT the Holy Spirit. Forcing their opinions on you is a prideful thing to do and far from loving. More on that later…

…because JESUS forgives us we just forgive and that forgiveness and reconciliation are one and the same if it’s true forgiveness.

I am not going to go through how each of her stances are unbiblical as I read Scripture. However, I do want to pause on this particularly ludicrous one.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are NOT the same thing. By that thinking murders and rapists ought never to go to jail when they victimize Christians as Christians are REQUIRED to forgive and reconcile with them.

That idea is wrong, dumb, and dangerous!

Moving on…

She went on now JESUS didn’t mean sexual immorality within marriage, but it meant only the betrothal period and basically to her….

This idea sexual immorality only means in the betrothal period is the John Piper position on the Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 exception clause. My rebuttal can be found here and here.

…she shared this all in love, because she doesn’t want me to do the wrong thing…she married a divorced man before she knew this…

Saying your are doing this in love is not the same thing as truly acting in love. It is not loving to trample on someone’s heart like this, and generally to act in pride as if her opinion is the “RIGHT” opinion on the matter.

What she did was NOT loving but prideful.

And this brings me to my next point: What she says after this reveals her real motive. This isn’t really about you at all. It is about her.

She is offloading her own sense of guilt and shame for marrying a divorced man upon you. This isn’t about loving you but rather “loving” herself.

It was especially hard for me because I had read [John] Piper’s book in 2012 when the first d day hit and I held onto it and thought it meant I had to stay. When I found out in 2016 he had cheated physically one more time in 2013 after our reconciliation, I made the difficult decision to divorce him.

You are an example of why I have very strong feelings regarding John Piper’s teaching on this matter. His teaching puts faithful spouses at risk for further abuse–as I believe infidelity along with all that goes with it is abuse–and even STDs from their cheating spouses who they are not “allowed” to divorce.

I wish I could just say I don’t care what she says. But because I used to think that it hit a nerve, and it’s so hard. 

What I have learned in these scenarios is that usually this happens when I partly agree with the person. The trick to getting free is to refute that part of me that agrees with the destructive argument.

And it makes sense that you would agree as you were following Piper’s teaching in the past that she foisted back upon you. Remember in this that Piper is just one voice, and a rather extreme one on this issue at that!

When Piper is more conservative and strict on divorce than those who wrote The Westminster of Faith (1646), you know his view is hardly THE ONLY TRUE position on the matter. Godly Christians can and do disagree on divorce. So can you! 

Jumping down a little bit:

I hate what my kids are going through. But as I see it, that’s a result of his choices, not mine!

Precisely. And please do not buy into her slant that they would be free of pain if you stayed with your cheating husband.

They would still be children with a mother who was repeatedly soul raped by their father. 

She spoke to me of other couples who chose to stay together and of the legacy they left behind…forgiveness..reconciliation…a family for their kids and compared that to what I am choosing…divorce and a lifetime of hurt for my kids.

strongly disagree with this straw man that she is painting. You are modeling to your children a godly insistence on righteousness and holiness. You are modeling to your children that adultery is serious and has consequences. You are modeling to your children that God is merciful and provides a way out for the victims of adultery to escape such abuse.

I suggest that is better than modeling the opposite. It is better than teaching them that adultery is acceptable and a “good Christian” tolerates such abuse via covering it with nice sounding words like “forgiveness” and “reconciliation.”

Avoiding pain is not in the cards for your children because your husband decided to blow up the family with his adulterous sin. This is a buffet of bad options.

At least by choosing divorce, you are not modeling ungodly forgiveness–i.e. forgiveness without reference to repentance (see Luke 17:3)–and adultery toleration to your children.

She acknowledged that in our case she thought we needed a legal separation, but she said it would have to stay at that, otherwise you know, divorce is a [sin?] and why divorce unless it’s for the purpose of remarrying?

So, is suggesting you must be cheating already if you are choosing divorce? What a lovely thing to insinuate to an adultery and abuse victim.

Sure sounds like a thing a person who saying these things to you “all in love” would say. Yeah, right!

Now, I do not have any problem with faithful spouses remarrying after a divorce. If God says that we can divorce an adulterous spouse, that implies we are free to remarry, IMO.

Yet the choice to remarry or not is up to the faithful spouse. They do not have to remarry.

Moving along…

In the end, I feel sad and sick about this devastation and never wanted this. I don’t feel ‘peace.’ I feel necessity and a deep hope that God will keep using my life, and that I can have a legacy of love and trust in Him through it ALL!

You are in the midst of the battle. It is no surprise you feel unsettled by it all as your divorce isn’t even final. Once again, I hope you will extend yourself some grace and self-compassion on that number. Such feelings are to be expected under such fresh wounds and pressure.

And as you continue to walk this out, I am sure God will–and is–walking with you. He promises to never leave you (see Hebrews 13:5). And God has a way of honoring those who genuinely seek after Him.

 Any reply would be great.

Hope this helps some.

May God surround you with His peace beyond understanding and comfort on this difficult journey!

-DM

 

 

4 thoughts on “Dear DM, I read Piper’s book and thought I had to stay in my marriage.”

  1. Thank you very much for your reply DM. That was much more than I had hoped for! I wish I could remember the whole conversation as there was more. One thing she keep saying also was how one sin is not worse from another. This she said was the reason why I am to forgive and reconcile if he repents,
    Otherwise I am to wait indefinitely. I responded that yes, all sin is sin, but different sins have different consequences. I think that in the enforcing of consequence of divorce she was seeing that action as proud and graceless.
    Of course I am not perfect and have sinned in our marriage like selfishness and many other ways. I tried to say how adultery breaks the covenant and that is what God hates…as that is the cause for divorce. I know also that sometimes there is true repentance and some people reconcile, and I know that is a miracle when it actually happens. But to be honest having been one of those, or hoped I was for those years that I thought we were in reconciliation, I wonder how many are staying and it’s still a lie…the marriage is dead. I only support the true repentence and real change if there is to be reconciliation…
    Therbut wonder how often how much that happens…feeling sadly cynical after my experience of many ‘reconciliations’.
    I am wondering what to say in response to being accused of being legalistic and graceless in responding to adultery with divorce. I tried talking about Jeremiah, how God gave a certificate of divorce to Israel. She said that was Old Testament. JESUS brought grace. I tried giving examples of other sins where you would not expect the victim to be in contact,
    Even is they forgave. Then she responded true forgiveness means reconciliation.
    All I could think of was Elizabeth Elliot going back to the Auca Indians after they murdered her husband and the Amish inviting the school shooting murderers in after the awfulness after she said that,
    And wondered ‘Is that what I am supposed to DO!?’ I want to follow God,
    Whatever
    he asks and this is confusing me..is it showing forgiveness also by choosing to not hate, to pray for the adulterous spouse and not hold onto bitterness but leave them
    To God? Is that a show of forgiveness?
    She spoke of lifetime covanent forgiveness seventy times seven type thing to which I responded adultery broke it, the deed is already done, it’s dead, like telling a murder victim it’s wrong to die, he killed this marriage with adultery. This is Jesus who said the words about marital infidelity in the New Testament! It’s not Old Testament. I am having to practice that seventy times seven forgiveness with all the awfulness being thrown at me daily.
    Sigh.
    I thought by staying I was showing the world His love and now I am showing tough love and Gods heart for marriage which is faithfulness…imperative, integral, the fabric of
    The covanent.
    I think I will have to go over this a million more times in my mind.
    Thank you…if anything else I added you have some words for that would be helpful…
    It’s so hard with watching the kids hurt and being alone but I am reminded that God is my husband and He is their Father! And you are right..:I am not alone!! He is with me!!!
    thank you for the encouragement and truth.

    1. People labeling you “graceless” and “legalistic” for responding to adultery with divorce are in the same category as those people who blame rape victims for prosecuting their rapists, IMO. Adultery is soul rape. You are leveling consequences and removing yourself from future trauma by divorcing. People putting such religious labels on you for divorcing your soul rapist are being insensitive, cruel jerks.

  2. I remember how much my own Christian mother agonized over divorcing my very abusive (and likely adulterous) father. He didn’t want a divorce, but he was so full of evil and endless cruel immoral deeds that it was impossible for her to stay married to him.

    The thing is, adulterers and abusers live in darkness. They may say they are sorry, or put on a temporary act of contrition to manipulate the situation to their benefit. But they really live in darkness. And real Christians live in light. Jesus says we should never walk in darkness if we believe in him, and scripture also says that we should not be yoked together or partners with those that walk in darkness.

    That’s why I feel that a Christian is perfectly justified in divorcing a spouse who continues to live in darkness; I believe it is in keeping with the love and purpose that Jesus has for us.

    John 8:12
    When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

    2 Corinthians 6:14
    Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

    Ephesians 5:5-13
    5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
    8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

    1. Song of Joy….. You have helped me and encouraged me! It has honestly been the biggest shock of my life as I’ve gone through the last year of wondering if my husband really had an affair. There has been some really ridiculous circumstantial evidence that makes no sense. Throw that in with me discovering that he had been hiding almost our entire savings from me. He has repented of that but swears no affair. I had a pretty good loving husband before all of this drama. Almost 35 years of marriage here. There have honestly been so many things that have been brought out into the light. I will be writing those verses down today! Thank you!!

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