Friday, May 18, 2012
“Should A Spouse Stay Married If the Other Person Is Abusing Him/Her and repenting?”
If I understood the question correctly, it will be “should a spouse divorce an abusive but repentant husband or wife?” As far as the permission to divorce is concerned, there are only two of those explicitly stated in the bible: infidelity and desertion. Abuse falls under poor behavior. There are many men and especially women being abused in their different marriages. Some men insult (verbal), neglect (emotional) or even beat (physical) their wives right in front of their children or complete strangers. Some women abuse their husbands emotionally by withholding sex from them. Therefore, I will show you what the Bible prescribes for such cases. If you are not a Christian, I will also show you what the Bible says you should do. While you forgive him or her each time he or she repents, you still have to take the necessary steps to end the abuse. Those are the steps and a prescription of some radars to avert abusive relationships. From the interpretative conclusion, you should be able to peacefully make a decision whether to stay married or not.
Abuse touches me directly because I had a sister who was abused. If she had followed my advice, perhaps she would still have been alive today. I still mourn for her time and again. I think that abuse should be considered as desertion. That is because initially the spouse had promised to love you with all their heart, in sickness or in health, in poverty or riches, and in joy or in sorrow, but they have deviated from that, and they are now showing you hate. Renegading on one’s promise is desertion and in that case, the victim should leave (divorce). On this ground I advised my sister several times to leave. At first she left, and I paid the rents for a whole year and gave her money to start a business. Nevertheless, sometimes since one can never know what makes a woman to fall in love, she always went back. She even abandoned all her things in the new apartment and followed the same man. Such was the dance they regularly performed until we all gave up, and it finally led to her death as the wayward man brought HIV into the home that took both of them.Nonetheless, let us go directly to our main passage.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18: 15-17).”
Together we will formulate a theory from the interpretation of the above passage as we peruse it. It says there are four steps to follow if someone hurts you. Step one. Tell him or her. Some people may not even know that you are being abused. Do not store it in your heart. If they persist in their abuse even after you have told them, then you go to step two.
In step two, you should have a witness or two as you tell the person. That could be a church leader, counselor, family heads, or trusted friends whose counsel and decision both of you will respect. If after this meeting, there is no change, then you go to step three.
Step three is for the Christian. Go to church and report it so that the leadership of the church will deal with it (I Cor 6:1; 5). Those who do not go to church could use the community structures for conflict resolutions. It is no more a close secret. The church should be able to discipline the brother or sister. It is useless repeating steps one and two all the time. The fowl that does not heed to instructions will hear it when it is in the pot of soup. Now, if he/she does not listen to the church or community structure to stop his/her misbehavior, then the church/community and you should cut him/her away (Rom 16:17, I Cor 5:11; Rom 16:17; 1 Thes 3:6-7; 14).
Why on earth will he/she be good for marriage if you think he/she is no good to be dealt with as a believer? That is when 2 Corinthians 6:14 comes in. It reads, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” Once you cut him off and consider him a heathen, you must realize that two heathens do not take the church as their judge; they use the court of law. The law has already established procedures for those who are married and want to cut off their spouses form their lives. That is when step five comes in.
Step five got both the Christian and non-Christian: The victim should talk to the authorities (I Cor 6). If you call the police, it will be the beginning of the government entering into the case. Now you must remember that there are serious consequences when you involve the state. The ramifications may lead you to lose the marriage and not only lose the marriage but also destroy the next person. Remember that if he/she is convicted of abuse, he/she may never have a good job because the law is there to punish defaulters (Rom 13:3-4, 1 Pet 2:14). If you intend to keep th emarriage, then keep the law out of it and pray!
Here is how you avoid abuse. The first is selecting the best person. This is especially to the women; marry the person who loves you most and not the one you love best. The one who loves you most will worship you and always feels grateful to God having you unlike the person whom you love most. He will take your love for granted.
The next thing is to set boundaries in your marriage. Many couples don’t have boundaries. Your spouse should know that there are consequences for violating those boundaries.
Strive to nurture your love daily. The presence of love will see abuse fly through the window. Abuse strives best in an environment where love has traveled. If love is present, abuse has to leave for they have vowed never to be roommates.
The last but not the least, strive to maintain the family structure. Call both parents or if you do not have, call some relatives wh are successful in their marriages and share the little difficulties you are facing in your home with them. Dysfunctional family structures encourage abuse too. Some men treat their wives abusively because that is the way they were brought up. They do not even know any better. Perhaps in looking at other adults or even mentored by an elderly person, they could become great husband and wife.
Until then, I hope that my answer will bring peace and a lasting solution to their marriage.
St Arrey of Ntenako.
at May 18, 2012
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