Home christian living Marriage Problem #1: Misunderstanding of “Covenant”

Marriage Problem #1: Misunderstanding of “Covenant”

by Kelly Crawford

“I felt the need to do some unpacking with our previous discussion of hurting marriages. It needs to be said, apparently, that I’m not addressing marriages with true abuse taking place, or serious mental illness. (Although as a side note, I spoke just yesterday with a friend whose husband suffers from a mental illness, and because of her commitment to her marriage,  the Lord has so graciously not only given them the grace to deal with it, but has used his illness to draw them closer to Christ than perhaps anything else could…weakness of the flesh can be turned for God’s glory.)

That Christian marriages are failing left and right is no secret.  But I don’t believe the majority of them are suffering some irreparable condition.  I believe they are under massive attack.  I believe by and large the church is not teaching truth concerning marriage and is not equipping individuals to be men and women of God, committed to a life-long relationship.  And I don’t believe proper consequences are being felt for the spouse that leaves without biblical grounds or is living in sin against his or her spouse.

Furthermore, the destructive cycle is being repeated as children suffer the consequences of broken parents and then are left even more ill-equipped to handle their own marriages.

Sometimes the issue is deep and complicated and no, I don’t believe there is a 1-2-3 step program that fits every marriage.

And sometimes, I think it is not so complicated, just hard.

I believe Scripture provides principles that when applied, would fortify most marriages.  We are foolish to disregard that fact.  But they must be applied to all of life.  From the very onset of childhood we need to be bathing our children in the wisdom of the Lord, preparing their hearts even then, for the picture that God has reserved to reveal His glory–the picture of eternal covenant between a husband and wife.

I am presuming, first, that a husband and wife are both believers.  For the Bible says, “Do no be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” If a spouse is not a believer though, there are specific principles given to that circumstance.  We will assume the former for this post/series.

Understanding marriage as a “one-flesh” covenant:

“Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  “What did Moses command you?” he replied.  They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:1-12

The terms and duration of a marital covenant are set by God: 1. one man, one woman, becoming one flesh and 2. for life

It’s our starting point.  It has to be.  God said it.  When and if we desire to obey God more than we desire to fulfill our own desires, this one definition would radically what our marriages look like.

Test your thoughts…

  • Do I view my  marriage as a bond that cannot be broken?  One that GOD has joined, not a minister?
  • One flesh can only be made two by a tearing apart and resulting death.  Do I view my marriage covenant that seriously?
  • Do I understand that the marriage covenant is meant to be a picture of Christ’s covenant with His bride?

A friend said, “I just can’t forgive him again.” (The sin was not adultery.)  And I asked her, “would you forgive the offense again if your child committed it?  Your mother?  Your sister?”  “Yes” was the answer.  This woman was not viewing her marriage the way God does.  She was not “one flesh” with her husband.

Someone said, “we should view our marriages like a house where once entered, the door is bricked up and any conflicts just have to be worked out”.  Sound harsh?  Well, it’s in essence what Jesus was saying exactly.

Are there exceptions?  Yes.  But I dare say they should be treated with grave caution and careful discernment and counseling.  This is not an exhortation to women (or men) to live in abusive situations (properly defined).  Marriages can be messy and biblical counsel may sometimes warrant a divorce after separation and every other means available have been offered to restore the relationship and preserve the marriage.

But let’s think rightly, and start rightly.  And let’s help others around us do the same.  Starting with our children and extending into relationships where we have opportunity, let’s take this matter seriously and help restore marriage to its place of intended glory.

I’ve got several more marriage problems on my mind…will share.

You may also like


the cottage child November 11, 2009 - 9:47 pm

It’s frightening to see marriages between two honorable, loving people fall in what seems to be such an unceremonious manner. We know of two couples, just this year, who have divorced or will soon, who we saw as examples of healthy marriage. We’ve come to find out that one was never good, the other one faded and died because the couple was too embarassed to turn to anyone for help. Because two marriages weren’t “bricked in”, (and because we, their friends, didn’t want to be nosey) fourteen immediate family members between the two suffer, and another hundred extended family look at each other and wonder how solid “family” really is.

This I think is the biggest, philosophically speaking, thing you’ve written about since I (happily) discovered your blog, Kelly. That we set aside covenant, cut off parts of ourselves instead of seeking to heal them, so easily, overwhelms me with sadness. I can only imagine how God see it.

kimberly November 11, 2009 - 11:22 pm

I have been married 25 years, and my husband was diagnosed many years ago with a mental health disorder. It is very difficult at times. It took me years to understand, there are things he just can’t control. We have both grown through the challenges we have faced in our marriage. We love each other deeply, and are deeply in love. During a particularly difficult time, a dear friend told me you have to choose to love him everyday,and to love him everyday. That was a wake-up call and a true reminder that love isn’t a feeling, but a choice.

Karen November 11, 2009 - 11:29 pm

Yes, Yes, YES!!!

Thanks for this post, Kelly, it’s good to see someone tackle this head on and so truthfully. Looking forward to upcoming posts 🙂

Marshall November 12, 2009 - 1:13 am

So I am confused by you as you once again seem to be using God’s law to somehow fuse your own. You said “Marriages can be messy and biblical counsel may sometimes warrant a divorce after separation and every other means available have been offered to restore the relationship and preserve the marriage.”

You said that after saying this: “The terms and duration of a marital covenant are set by God: 1. one man, one woman, becoming one flesh and 2. for life”

YOu are saying two things. One is a correct discernment of God’s word while the other (the first quote) is saying a completely different thing. So which are we to follow “Word Warrior?” Are we to follow your belief or the word of God? This is the danger of someone like you, with zero Biblical training, trying to minister to people.

Cassie November 12, 2009 - 2:26 am

I have to agree with Marshall… in one breath you say you’re not talking about situations that involve serious mental illness, but in the next breath you give the example of a friend who, through God’s providence, has an enduring marriage despite her husband’s mental problems. Because of her faith and commitment to the Word. I think it’s clear that you don’t believe mental illness is really grounds for dissolution of the marriage. Why the caveat?

momofmany November 12, 2009 - 2:40 am

When a marriage covenant is broken by one, the other party is not bound to stay in what is no longer a covenant.

Things that the Scriptures declare are breaking the covenant: adultery and desertion (and the Jews considered abuse to be a form of desertion).

In cases of both adultery and abuse, I have seen fellow Christians pressure the non-sinning spouse to “not forget about their covenant,” but the thing is, there is no more covenant. It’s been broken. So it’s up to the non-sinning spouse to decide whether or not to re-engage in a covenant with the spouse who broke it, or not…

…And that is a decision that should not be lightly made, nor should ANYONE push or pull the spouse either way. It’s a decision that must be made between them and their God, with the prayerful support of their church community. There is no “one right decision” in these cases. One woman’s choice to stay with an abusive husband might turn out wonderful. Another woman’s choice might result in deeply damaged children and her own sanity lost. Both stories are true examples from my own community. But often times Christians will use the positive story as the example, but the fact is, we need to hold up both stories. They are the facts.

It may turn out okay if you return to your philandering spouse. Then again, you might contract a serious venerial disease and/or get to experience him or her cheating again and again before you finally choose to divorce… It may turn out okay if you return to your abusive husband. Maybe he’s really seen the light and maybe he’s commited to change and actually is able to learn to be honoring and respectful. Then again, maybe he’s just saying sorry because he know that always works, and yet because he is deeply broken on the inside, his abuse will continue, and maybe now your children will become so damaged by your abusive spouse that they run from all things having to do with God (I’ve seen both examples from families in my community…one man who truly repented, heart-felt and backed up with actions of true restoration and humbleness…and then another family with an abuser husband who used God to bolster his wild and angry commands and actions…his wife stayed for the children’s sake and because she was so used to staying she’d long forgotten how to think otherwise, albeit with the best of intentions for her kids, but in the end, it destroyed the children and they are now angry wild hurting adults…).

There is no guarantee. Each individual believer, when a marriage covenant is broken by abandonment, adultery or abuse (addictions are included in abandonment, I believe), must go into their secret place and patiently sit before the throne of grace, asking for God’s individual leading on their own broken situation. The right answer for one home may be a terribly destructive answer for another. We don’t know, but God does, because God knows the heart of the spouse that sinned, and God knows whether or not they are going to choose to walk the hard road of trying to learn to be a holy spouse or not. Either which way, our arms need to be quick to wrap around the hurting spouse and children (like our God who is quick to answer the cries of the hurting) and our prayers need to go up for wisdom as they try to discern from Him what the best (of such terrible decisions) might be for them.

Jane November 12, 2009 - 7:59 am


Thank you for your post. I agree completely.

Word Warrior November 12, 2009 - 9:59 am


No, it’s not a contradiction, it’s precisely what Jesus said. Read the verse again…he said, “whatever is joined, let it not be separated”–“for life”.

Then he turns around and says, “there is an exception though”.

I said God’s terms and conditions must be our starting point. He is the one that allows for the exception (not me). There are studies that discuss how abuse falls into the exception category that I’m not fully sure I agree with, but I lean in that direction.

And could you ask questions without being so snarky, or else refrain?

Word Warrior November 12, 2009 - 10:02 am


Don’t know why the confusion. I said the post is generally written to a “normal marriage”. I put the caveat in there to say that EVEN in cases where mental illness is involved, it is possible to stay committed–that divorce should not be the first consideration.

In short, mental illness MAY be grounds for divorce, but certainly not always! Why should that be a black and white statement?

the cottage child November 12, 2009 - 10:18 am

Kelly/WW I’m laughing at “snarky” – as I was reading some of the comments I wondered to myself if I’d missed a memo about Snark at Kelly Week. Good gravy. 🙂

Kelly L November 12, 2009 - 10:42 am

You said, “This is the danger of someone like you, with zero Biblical training, trying to minister to people.”
So, do you not read parts of the new testament that weren’t written by Paul (the only scriptualy trained Jew, to my knowledge)? The fisherman were not hanging out in the temple discussing scripture, yet they listened to God, were used by God to perform miracles and cast out demons, and had a testimony and ministry that impacts the world 2000 years later.
The real problem with anyone is that they elevate man made teaching (religion) over God’s teaching. Holy Spirit can teach you more in 1 minute about a verse than those with “real” Biblical training can learn in 4 your st seminary. Since God is no respecter of persons, I am pretty sure He does not agree with your assessment as He cannot withhold wisdom to those who are seeking it…He promised.
As a side note, the kind of thinking I quoted from you is what led the leaders of two very different religions to torture and kill their own members who dared think for themselves.

Kelly L November 12, 2009 - 10:43 am

I forgot to add, Kelly(WW) has biblical training. She reads the Bible almost daily and listens to what God has to say.

Sarah November 12, 2009 - 11:52 am

“And sometimes, I think it is not so complicated, just hard.”

I believe that’s one of the keys to the whole thing right there. How often do we make excuses for not doing the right thing just because it’s “too hard”?

Heather November 12, 2009 - 12:15 pm

It is important to start with the reality of marriage rather than the corrupted shadow picture.

Jesus is the husband. His creation is His “bride”.

The concept of “mother earth” is not completely wrong, as man was taken from the dust of the ground by Father Creator. The problem is that the focus has shifted to worshiping the creation rather than the One who Created it.

Adam was the appointed steward of that creation and caused the “wife” to commit adultery with Satan in the Garden. The penalty is death.

According to God’s view of covenants, Adam broke his end of the deal (basically, he was to trust God and thankfully enjoy His loving care), thus allowing God the right to divorce His harlot wife.

But He mercifully and graciously chose to NOT divorce his soiled bride but instead to redeem her from her chosen life of prostitution (see Hosea).

We are incapable of being able to handle the knowledge and wisdom that Adam greedily snatched for himself. We were designed from the beginning to look to God for everything. Just as a wife is to “submit” to her husband.

The second “Adam” was also born of a virgin (but not virgin earth) and made a covenant with the Father in Abraham’s time. He made–and kept the promise to honor the Lord that we, in our corrupted form, can never do. And He also learned the wisdom of God (that we cannot fully fathom) and kept ALL of God’s commands, including faithfulness to death.

Then, He wore the thorns that Adam’s cursed earth has grown, received the full measure of God’s wrath and died on a “tree”–in payment for Adam’s partaking of that fruit which was not his to take.

He is the faithful lover, ever wooing–always ready to forgive. And, when His bride is tired of running after other lovers, sick from choosing her own rebellious ways. He will return and gather her back into His arms and heal her–no holding of past crimes over her head. The ultimate picture of love and forgiveness.

This is the picture of marriage that all Christians are called to portray. Sadly, our own prideful attitudes and lack of forgiveness gets in the way. We think someone sinned against “me”. But conniving, adulterous, murdering King David said he had sinned against God ALONE.

Why? Because he listened to that satanic lie that he could BE God and then determined for himself what is right and wrong. He allowed his greed to overstep that which is proper and then he tried to cover his own sin with so many fig leaves by sinning even more.

The picture of marriage is not meaningless. Neither is it simply a “God said, so we need to do it regardless of how awful it is” sort of command.

And He doesn’t expect us to remain in difficult marriages in our own strength. When we rely on Him to hold our marriages together, we are showing the WORLD what God’s love and forgiveness looks like and are being a beacon of hope for all those who are recognize that they are suffering under the curse of sin and death.

We are to remain married because it brings attention to what Jesus Christ is doing with his ruined creation. He hasn’t abandoned us and will return when we are ready to thankfully accept His infinitely loving instruction to simply thank Him and trust Him.

If we start “in the Beginning”, the meaning of marriage takes on a whole new significance.

Kelly L November 12, 2009 - 1:18 pm

Great points, Heather!

Heather November 12, 2009 - 1:28 pm

Kelly L,

There is so much more to this than we normally see. But I have my own blog and don’t want to overrun Kelly’s site. (you may have noticed I tend to post lengthy comments)

You’re welcome to visit at my site and follow along with what God’s been showing me. If we can see things the way God does, it changes not just our concept of marriage, but everything else as well.

The first Nov. post is the starting point.


momofmany November 12, 2009 - 2:42 pm

We are to remain married because it brings attention to what Jesus Christ is doing with his ruined creation. He hasn’t abandoned us and will return when we are ready to thankfully accept His infinitely loving instruction to simply thank Him and trust Him.”

Some thoughts from one who has had to think MUCH about all of this…

This quote above brings out a part of Scripture, but it’s not the whole part. The passage in Ezekiel where the bride ran to other lovers? It says there that God divorced her. The part where mankind rebelled against God? That “old Adam” was crucified with Christ on the Cross.

Our God is a God who makes things new. But He is also a God who knows when it’s time to say something is dead (or needs to be allowed to die).

It’s so important that as we struggle with difficult marriages, we don’t make the mistake of thinking that ALL difficulties indicate the death of a covenant…but in the same way, we need to be very careful we’re not assuming that God is going to bring life into something that He’s said is dead.

Again, the key always comes back to each spouse in a difficult marriage prayefully and patiently seeking God’s voice to show them the difficult path (because, honestly, either way is difficult for a person who loves God—there is nothing “easy” about divorcing or remaining married when you are in a bad marriage and you desperately wish it could be otherwise), waiting for God to show them which of the difficult decisions is best for their unique situation.

When we only present the ONE aspect of God (the part where He redeems), it’s no different from touting the one story where the abusive man reforms and truly changes and the marriage is great.

We need to be fair and wise, and we need to give ALL sides of the story, tell the stories where the abusive man became a wonderful husband, AND the stories where the abusive man killed his wife. We need to read the parts of the Bible where God changed someone’s heart and made all things new, and we also need to read the parts of the Bible where God observed that the covenant had been broken and therefore sorrowfully turned His back. There is Scriptural precedent for both, and this is why we need to be ever so careful before we tell someone what the “have” to do with a covenant that one spouse has trampled all over.

I know that in my own situation, I begged and pleaded and worked for change. Divorce was not an option, it was never an option for me. In the end, the Lord gave me a dream and showed me that the marital covenant I’d had was dead…and that was why all my labors and prayers and efforts (that I assumed were His will) had been futile. The covenant had been broken.

What was in my husband’s heart was a deep sickness, and if I chose to remain, it would continue to rip me to pieces. The funny thing is, I was so beat down, it didn’t bother me to be ripped to pieces. I was willing for that to happen… But when I realized that my kids were about to not have a sane or physically healthy mother anymore (as I was past beginning to lose both under the strain of living in that environment–dear intimate friends in family law said that was actually fairly normal for women in these cases), that woke me up. Here I’d been working so hard to “make it work,” but there was nothing to make work, and it was killing me…and the people who were going to lose most? My precious brood.

That dream (and I’m not really big on dreams and visions, persay) helped me take the next necessary steps (and my health and sanity, lol, began to improve, slowly but steadily, once I was removed from the source of the abuse).

I’ve read some commenters here talk about the selfishness of the people who choose divorce. All I can say is that you don’t understand what it’s like to be someone who truly wants to honor God, and have to walk through divorce when it’s the last thing you ever wanted, planned, or worked for. There is nothing selfish about it. It is absolutely agonizing.

Mrs W November 12, 2009 - 3:22 pm

Momofmany, I appreciate your Biblical insight into this. Lots of people totally ignore the fact that God Himself is divorced!

Cassie November 12, 2009 - 4:13 pm

I’m not confused – I just think you have even lower tolerance for the dissolution of marriage than you let on!

Heather November 12, 2009 - 4:33 pm

God has a harlot wife, like Hosea.

And He is willing to forgive if she will stop pursuing other lovers.

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”
They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.”
But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined 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 put asunder.” Mark 10:2-9

This is not just talking about a man-woman marriage commitment, but about the King’s commitment to His bride. Man’s heart is hard and will divorce when he finds fault. God is not like this and we dare not make him into a image of fallen man.

“And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:10-12

Was it God who did the divorcing or His bride? Is He perhaps allowing her to go her way until she decides she’s had enough and then will take her back when she realizes she needs and loves Him more than anything else?

We need to quit looking at “The Law” as a just being a set of rules that we are supposed to obey but cannot. Yes, it does show us how imperfect we are. But we are this way because we reached for that which is not ours to have–the right to play god. And the penalty for that is death.

Jesus said that He is the fulfillment of the Law and in no way will any part of it pass away until all is complete.

“Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44

Jesus Christ the Savior of the world is IN the law. And we can see Him if we ask God to show us.


“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife,
and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife,
then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 24:1-4


God’s bride is signified by the crown of His creation, which was unfaithful to Him in the Garden. “She” played the harlot by joining Satan in his rebellion. “She” did the divorcing…and God, in Christ Jesus, did not divorce her but has pursued her and paid the price required to win her back to Himself.

If He divorced her and then decided to let her marry the devil–then took her back, it would be an abomination. He’s waiting for His bride to return so He can forgive and heal her.

Read Hosea.

I’m not interested in arguing this point on a strictly intellectual level. We can convince ourselves of all kinds of things when we don’t ask God to show us what is the spiritual reality behind the shadow picture.

Heather November 12, 2009 - 4:49 pm

I think my comment is stuck in the spam filter, but I want to be sure to say that I’m not interested in debating whether it is “okay” or right or acceptable for Christians to divorce.

Being human, we absolutely mess up our lives in one or another way and it isn’t my place to beat up others for their mistakes or the unhappy decisions that result from those mistakes. That is between the individual and God. The Bible is pretty clear that divorce is an undesirable result of our sinful nature. No need to pound on that.

I’m only saying that we need to ask Him to show us what He is really saying about marriage, divorce, adultery, forgiveness and Himself. Don’t be satisfied with just reading the Bible like it is a lifeless owners manual of rules to be followed. Look for Jesus on every page. He said He was there when He spoke to the Jewish leaders:

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me;
yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39-40

The Bible is not meant to be only a guidebook for “holy living”. If that was so, then the Pharisees would have been commended rather than chastised when Jesus came. But instead He basically said, “You’re only worried about how to appear good and won’t acknowledge your need for Me. You’ve spent your lives studying about Me but haven’t a clue as to Who I really am. “

Heather November 12, 2009 - 5:22 pm

Mom of Many,

I want to specifically address your heartache. I was not suggesting that I would condemn someone who has been divorced. Or even divorced and remarried. In fact, someone close to me went through something similar to your own situation, although she chose to not disclose the personal “dirt”, so I don’t know how bad she had it.

The agony that faces such people as yourself is not something with which I am personally familiar but I have seen the struggle in others and am not without compassion.

There is a vast chasm between God’s ideal and man’s reality. It only proves that we are not capable of handling the knowledge Adam so lustfully desired for himself. And it should drive every one of us to our knees to beg God’s forgiveness for our stubbornness.

We all need to keep that in mind as we discuss such things as divorce.

momofmany November 12, 2009 - 5:40 pm

You say that God did not divorce, could not have divorced, and that we must be faithful to what the Bible says, and yet that same Bible says our God said,

“I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.” (see Jeremiah 3)

(the whole passage shows His heartbreak, and it is very moving, and God did end up forging a new marriage covenant, and yet…God did perform the legal action of divorce on a spouse who would not stop breaking the covenant (saying with the mouth that she was sorry, but proving by her actions that she had no intention of working for true change).

God does not say He hates divorce, btw. He says He hates “putting away.” The verse is technically talking about a separation by the husband (who had power) to the wife (who had no power), which made is so that the abandoned wife couldn’t ever marry again legally (in other words, condemning her to a life of sheer misery, in that culture, living from hand to mouth, etc).

To make matters worse, in this particular situation, many of the men were dumping their Jewish wives and shacking up with foreign idolatrous women.

But bottom line, there was no legal divorce taking place and that’s not what God said he hated. He hated that the man would just up and leave his wife, leaving her with miserable options—-she could either starve…or she could find a man to take her in, in which case she was basically forced (in order to survive) to live in sin. Totally not cool, and God got really mad about it (and rightfully so).

That passage in Malachi is being used (with good intentions, I think) to support something that isn’t actually what it was saying.

Again, we have to look at all the Bible, not just some (just like we have to look at all the real-life stories, not just the ones that support our desired outcome). We can’t use some verses to proof-text others. And we also have to be really careful to make sure we are interpreting correctly, otherwise we’ll make authoritative statements about what God wants that actually…aren’t what He necessarily said.

Heather November 12, 2009 - 6:58 pm

Yes, we should look at the whole Bible.

God hates divorce. He said so.

Malachi 2:15-17 Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.
“For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”
You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Every one who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Faithless Israel got HER certificate of divorce.

I’m not interested in having a proof-text war with you.

momofmany November 12, 2009 - 10:25 pm

My point, which I wasn’t very clear about (apologies) was that the word “divorce” in the KJV version of Malachi is not an accurate translation.

The Hebrews had one word for “separation” (in which a divorce writ was not given, but the husband simply abandoned the wife), and one word for a legal divorce. Malachi uses the word for abandonment/separation-without-divorce-papers. Malachi 2 does not use the word for “divorce.” It is not talking about divorce. It is a misuse of Scripture (albeit usually well-intentioned) to use Malachi 2 to talk about legal divorce.

This is a really important piece of information as we try to discern God’s heart, no? It’s not something I am making up or stretching Scripture to say. John Calvin, for example, helps explain here what is going on, regarding the men seperating from their now-older-wives in a way that forced the wives into adultery:

No desire to have a proof-text war at all. (No desire for any sort of war). Just a desire to see suffering people not be burdened by rules that aren’t of God. I don’t think anyone here is saying that divorce is a great thing. It’s not. But sometimes, the choice is remaining chained to a destructive person who cannot help but try to rip you apart, or being set at liberty. This is where the choice must be left to each individual to decide which direction the Spirit is leading them, because the “answers” may differ (as they differ in Scripture).

I do not think it brings God glory when we tell people that they must remained chained to someone who lives in such a way that he/she destroys the inside and/or outsides of his/her children and spouse.

Some of this we just have to think practically about. For example, we know what God said about those who who keep children away from Him, or who harm the little ones (the millstone verses, etc!!!). So we know that God is not glorified when children are raised in a home where one of their parents destroys their little hearts. Can He bring good out of it when it happens? Yes. But is it His commanded will that children be left to an abusive destructive environment?

For those who teach that divorce is never acceptable for the Christian, they are essentially teaching spouses of abusers that God requires that their children be left with an abusive parent. They are sentencing these children to destruction, in ways both deeply inward as well as outward (with the inward the worst of the two). Is this an adequate representation of what our God supports? For me, it is not.

Again, this is my opinion. I have no desire to war, or even “mildly fight”. I think that we should be able to discuss these things without needing to war or fight. I think it is good to discuss these things, even in disagreement, to help us all better flesh out how to best help those in difficult situations. The burdens of being married to a destructive person are heavy enough. We don’t want to add to it, and even more importantly, we don’t want to misrepresent God by saying that our additional burdens are of Him.

Kim from Canada November 13, 2009 - 12:19 am

“That Christian marriages are failing left and right is no secret. But I don’t believe the majority of them are suffering some irreparable condition.”

True…in general I see them failing from apathy regarding the failure.

Heather November 13, 2009 - 2:00 am


Perhaps we are just not communicating well.

I’m saying we need to look past the human failure aspect and see marriage from a spiritual perspective.

God knows people fail at keeping marriage vows. I’m not judging you or anyone else who’s marriage has crumbled.

In a sense, all of humanity is an adulteress because of the fall in Eden. None of us is innocent on that count. We are also murderers by default because of the need for God to shed the blood of His own innocent Son as a ransom.

The root of all sin is in trying to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong. The thing is, God never intended for us to have to carry that burden. That is why He told Adam to not eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. It is the only thing in the creation that God forbade man to have.

Knowing what God knows is far too heavy a load for us to bear and we WILL mess up. He knows that. He wants us to simply trust Him as a loving Father who knows what is best. That is what we were designed for.

Jesus did not come to bring further condemnation on us but to bring relief and healing to those who are tired of carrying that cross of “knowledge” alone. He said to take His light load and allow Him to be Lord in our lives. All we need to do is admit that we are not god and then stop justifying our crimes against Him. He wants to take care of those precious, weary souls who want to be cared for.

Where we have failed to live up to God’s standards, Jesus Christ has overcome so that we may–in HIM alone–find hope that we will not have to face God’s penalty for having done what is wrong.

Regardless of what we want to call it, taking a wife/husband and then breaking the promise to care for/honor her/him til death *is* divorce.

If you prefer to say “putting her away”, that is your prerogative. The point is that a promise is made and then broken. Jesus stressed that this parting of the ways has nothing to do with a “getting/giving of legal papers” but is a matter of the hardened heart and subsequent lack of forgiveness that is our natural state.

He sees those who have been hurt and abused and it is not my place to order others to stay in unsafe unions. Jesus promised to repay all those who harm His true family. I’m not about to try to beat anyone over the head with Bible verses. I hardly know what to do myself most of the time and don’t need to be foolishly tampering with what He is doing in someone else’s heart.


As an aside: United Israel is a “type”–or shadow–of all of humanity. The passage to which you referred involves not just “Israel”, but also Judah as well. The kingdom had been divided by Jeremiah’s day and Judah was the smaller kingdom which received God’s continued favor. It is the preservation of the line of David in preparation for coming Messiah.

In the same way, we can see all of humanity represented in the two “sisters”. On one hand, we see God’s true bride (even in her less glorious moments)–and on the other, the stubbornly adulterous one who desires to continue on her own way of idolatry. When the true believers have been sufficiently purified of our idolatry and lack of thankfulness, Christ will return for His Bride.

Both “women” are soiled. One eventually repents and the other does not. Throughout time, God is sifting humanity, looking for His treasure so that He may pull it back from the brink of destruction.

As I said, the Bible presents a beautiful picture of His patient, loving forgiveness that we too often miss.

Jen in al November 13, 2009 - 2:29 am

Great post Kelly! it is so important to start with the right foundation. blessings, jen in al

Lori November 13, 2009 - 11:00 am

Cottage Child – “I wondered to myself if I’d missed a memo about Snark at Kelly Week.”

What, you didn’t know? The week before Thanksgiving Day is the unofficial “unthanksgiving week.” Where you’re as ungrateful as possible as loudly as possible. It’s like having a really debauched carnival right before Lent.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 11:09 am

Cottage child and Lori,

You girls are too much. Praise God for a sense of humor among believers! Love it!

authenticallyME November 13, 2009 - 1:48 pm

Unrelated somewhat, on another note compltely related, is the fact that it is not just a few or the minority of Christian marriages are abusive. I would say these days, most are.

That does not always mean physically, mental or emotional abuse. There is no protocol. If spiritual abuse is felt and permeates the heart, mind and soul, abuse has occured.

I am an open person, and people open up to me. I jsut had another friend exclaim tto me, upon first real talk, how incredibly easy I am to talk to. People tell me things. People tell me things they dont tell most at church. There is a lot of abuse, chrsitians.

How can we on one hand say most Christians are carnal, lacking courtesy, not as dedicated as they should be, or living ‘like the world’, and the on the OTHER hand state that most marriages are not carrying some level of abuse in them? We have growing porn, gaming, men overworking, women stressed, chidlren neglected, more crime, etc, but we say there is no real alarm of abuse? This simply does not make sense.

The truth is, in the church, people have too much shame and guilt to say what is real in their homes. The church would rather stay in denial, than admit it is even more faulty than an unbeliever, because more is expected of us.

It just does not jive for me, and I dont say this to add dissention (ive really enjoyed the posts here lately!) but just to make open up people’s hearts to consider how bad things really are.

Once being a member of a very small denomination, who actually exercised church discipline, I was privy to many schocking scenarios. We had beaters, practicing homosexuals, adult children forbid to marry (boys), youth leader got a married woman in the congregation pregnant, that husband made his wife bathe in his dirty bath water, a yougn mom who would dig her naisl into her baby (asked me to cover for her in nursery one night, over another mother who might ‘find’ it), a man who ignored his 4 children to ‘work out’ after he came home from work….another case of adultery, one case of crack addiction, and several porn addictions. A very good friend of mine just informed me (who also went to that church) that her husband will be moving to Alaska without her two boys and her to fulfill his dream of weatherman. This after several moves, her caring for her grandparents on their death bed, being diagnosed with cancer at 33, and working her dads farm while he went off to school (she supported the family). Now he wont keep his promise to stay put for her well being. This man was an elder. Most of the cases, the man seved in some dimension. This was an INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTAL baptist church! not some liberal ‘church’, like some many want to hear…..it wasnt!

If you are not aware of abusive situations in your church body, doesnt mean they arent right there in front of us. I did attend another church after that one, and things were even worse, with a bigger body of 500. I knew someone involved in helping out with some of the crisis situations…but people were not called to repent, be exposed, or make resistution, and children and women were not being protected, and it became too much for her and her husband to argue with elders on a weekly basis. She eventually collapsed, and left. Now they attend one of those more ‘liberal’ churches, and have healed.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 2:21 pm


I’m trying to process your comment, agreeing with some of it, but feeling there are some really deep issues to be unpacked before we can understand what’s going on in these cases.

First, you said:

“…it is not just a few or the minority of Christian marriages are abusive. I would say these days, most are.”

Now obviously “abuse” is a subjective word. Sometimes it’s real and crushing and needs attention; sometimes it’s a word that makes a spouse feel better about his or her decision to bail out of a marriage. I’ve seen it.

But if we assume that the “abuse” in the comment you made is real, then “most Christians marriages” are not abusive. I know what you’re saying; and I wouldn’t even deny that most marriages where the couple professes Christianity have some level of abuse. But honestly, if a man or woman is a true believer, he can’t, in theory, practice abuse. “Living in sin” is the Scriptural proof of an unbeliever. (I’m talking here of willful, continuous, unrepentant sin.) Too many verses to even list with the blatant warning. The “new creature” in Christ still deals with sin, but he isn’t ruled by it and it doesn’t consume his being. The real issue here, is how we understand sin and what it means to be a believer.

So, I would suggest these marriages are under the guise of Christianity, but not true Christian marriages. (See clarification in the comment below.)

Which I guess would explain that while you listed so many situations,(and I believe them, and I think you’re right in that probably more couples than we imagine are enduring secret sins such as these), among the friends and people I know, I can honestly say that their marriages are joyful and safe. Where you might say that secrets can be hidden, and in fact that’s true, (and I know some of the struggles that have been conquered in these marriages–they are not without problems), I see God-honoring men and women, spend time with them, and feel certain that any degree of “abuse” would not remain hidden. Problems? I’m sure. But not abuse.

My suggestion is that the “church” is made up of a great heap of people who “profess godliness but deny the power”…i.e., unbelievers.

Heather November 13, 2009 - 2:48 pm

Our ability to love perfectly as God loves has been corrupted by our desire to know perfectly as /he knows.

Anyone interested in reading about the greatest Love story of all time?


Sara November 13, 2009 - 3:04 pm

I am in awe over your last remark, Kelly.
I’ve known Christians ruled (for a season) by sin. I’ve been one of them. Do we overcome through Christ, some do, yes. I did, certainly.
But I seriously don’t understand how you can say “real” Christians will only sin every once and a while.
That’s the most ridiculous and non-biblical thing I’ve ever heard.
I’ve been guilty of the same sort of judgment myself, and I’ve certainly made a poor soul or two question their own salvation. Only God knows that, and I repent of having done that in the past.
I’m certainly glad no one did it to me. I had one sister and one concerned brother take me aside, and point out to me my obvious sin. But thankfully, neither told me I clearly wasn’t saved. I would have known that to be a lie anyway, but someone else might have just concluded they were damned.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 3:34 pm


Clarification: Yes, I absolutely believe a Christian can go through a SEASON of sin. David shows us that clearly. But a true believer can NOT remain there, unrepentant, unaffected. He must eventually repent and turn away.

Sara November 13, 2009 - 3:52 pm

I just don’t think it’s that cut and dried. Paul talks about his own struggle with sin in Scripture. It sounds like what your implying is, if you struggle too long, then everything that came before is meaningless and you obviously were never saved.
If all Christians were free from continuous struggles with sin, none of the NT writings would have to address it so much, because obviously no one would “live in a lifestyle of sin” if they knew Christ.
If I had talked to you during my falling away, I would have assumed a) I was had never really known Jesus in the first place and then I would have doubted whether I even had the capacity to understand the gospel or 2) I would have assumed I had lost my salvation irrevocably.
Just because you lived in sin while you weren’t saved doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a Christian to live in sin.
Even David, who Scripture calls a man after God’s own heart “lived in sin” for a considerable amount of time, making more and more mistakes until the day he died. It’s no impossible, just very very unfortunate.
I do believe there are many people in the church today who believe they are Christian and truly aren’t, thanks to revolving door mega-churches and pitiful teaching, however I think a distinction can be made between those who have never known Christ and go along with a Christian lifestyle, versus those who have known Christ have borne fruit in the past falling away for a season.
Some sins by their very nature take a long time to overcome. Christ can and sometimes does miraculously heal and free people from these things, but sometimes he doesn’t and they just struggle through (i.e. the relapsing addict).
While I personally DO make my own judgments (right or wrong) about who I think is really saved and who has fallen away and who isn’t, I know I’m not God, and I try very hard not to judge the state of men’s hearts.
It’s the churches job to call Christians out on their unrepentant sin, and sadly most churchs fail miserably at this. But it’s not for me, or even for the Church to judge whether or not someone is saved.
If you call yourself a Christian than the church can and should discipline you for unrepentant sin, and if you don’t listen, you are to be treated as an unbeliever, but being treated as an unbeliever is loads different than telling someone that they are not saved, and I can tell just by looking at them.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 4:01 pm


This: “But I seriously don’t understand how you can say “real” Christians will only sin every once and a while.” is not at all what I said. Quote me if you wish to dissent so that the discussion remains clear.

Sara November 13, 2009 - 4:08 pm

“But honestly, if a man or woman is a true believer, he can’t, in theory, practice abuse. ‘Living in sin’ is the Scriptural proof of an unbeliever. ”

I can see that you struggle with continuous sin, so therefore I can deduce you are lost and don’t know Christ.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 4:10 pm


Just to make sure, did you see that I changed/clarified my comment?

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 4:14 pm


I agree with everything you just said. A “season of sin” is not what I was referring to in my earlier comment.

Sara November 13, 2009 - 4:15 pm

Yes, I had written my comment mentioning David, and hit “add” and then I saw your comment mentioning David pop up.
But I still not sure we are in agreement. 🙁

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 4:22 pm


I think where we’re on the same page, defining things differently.

Yes, we all struggle with continuous sin. The difference is one whose life is characterized by UNREPENTANT sin. I sin, and I hate it, and I’m constantly repenting, “striving” (yes that’s biblical) to be holy, as He is holy.

But a Christian who is complacent, abiding and “stagnant” if you will, in his sin, is what the Bible refers to as a tree bearing bad fruit. That’s my best take on it.

Sara November 13, 2009 - 4:37 pm

I suppose it’s *possible* we agree.
I’m just very glad to proclaim the gospel, follow Christ myself, teach what I know for sure God has showed me, and leave the judging up to Him.
It’s exhausting, and has proven toxic to my soul anyway.

Tricia November 13, 2009 - 5:30 pm

Momofmany, God bless you. Your post reminded me once again that as Christians, whose main commandments are to love (first God, then others as ourselves), we must leave judgment to God. How it must hurt to feel judged by someone seemingly close to you who doesn’t really know what you’re going through!
I think the most important thing Kelly brought out in these marriage posts is exactly along the lines of living that Christian love: when we see someone hurting, we must reach out lovingly; when we see someone hurting others, we must reach out in truth, but even then, we are to “speak the truth in love”.

authenticallyME November 13, 2009 - 5:38 pm

I dont really udnerstand either, as I know I am always ‘practicing’ some sin…..repentant, yes, other times, no. I am never not involved in some sin any one day or hour.

However, yes Kelly; because abuse is subjective, it would need clarification via definition.

I think working out one’s own salvation is tricky. Ive known people who struggle with sex addiction, drug addiction, and other types, and rare is the person who doesnt backslide back into their mud from time to time….but when on the upside, they sure seem to exude the spirit of Christ. Whole ‘nuther topic, though.

Word Warrior November 13, 2009 - 6:11 pm


As I’ve pondered this “whole ‘nother topic”, it seems harder and harder to understand, though I think it is prudent that we keep reading and studying Scripture, because I think it is our duty to try to understand.

Just my food for thought–the things I’m chewing on…

I know that Scripture says anything less than perfection is sin. Therefore, yes, Christians live in sin daily.

But I also know that Scripture says in first John:

“No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

And that is a serious admonition to contend with. And since the Word cannot contradict itself, there must be a sensible explanation 😉 Articulating that is the challenge.

Heather November 13, 2009 - 6:18 pm

“Works of unrighteousness” are symptoms of the problem, not the root.

I’m beggin everyone to back away from “what’s wrong with marriage and how can we fix it” subject for jsut a bit. Go read Romans 1 and cross ref with Genesis 3. Paul fleshes out exactly what’s wrong with us.


Because, knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. But they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools
and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.

Romans 1:21-23

Humanity is carrying a burden we were NEVER meant to bear–the knowledge of right and wrong. And it came from Adam and Even not being thankful and looking to God for wisdom. The essence of our sin is in the pride of trying to BE God. We think if we try harder, work longer, give more etc, then things will work out and it’s not true.

Everything else comes from the curse that has been leveled against mankind for not having a thankful heart toward our gracious Maker Who withheld nothing but the right to be God.

When we humble ourselves and admit that WE CAN’T DO IT, that is when He comes to heal us. As long as we still try to fight the symptoms, we will suffer from the disease.

God crushed my faith in self this last year and when I finally quit trying to fight Satan on my own, God has come to feed and care for my wretched soul.

Read my November posts if you don’t understand what I’m saying.

We have to get the foundation right or all our efforts at “fixing” will be pointless.

Heather November 13, 2009 - 6:32 pm

When God came to Sinai and laid out His Law, it was not meant to be an attainable pattern for righteous living.

He was, in effect, saying “Humanity wants to play God? Okay, here’s how to do it. If you can be righteous like Me, you can have the Throne”

None of us can be God, and the law shows us how desperately short we come to perfection.

By Jesus’ day, an elite group of legalists thought they had it figured out but then Jesus cut them down by saying “It’s a heart issue, guys. Give it up, you’ll NEVER get there!”

Jesus came not to show us how to “be better” but to release us from the agony of the truth that we CANNOT. BE. GOD. EVER. He knows we’re going to continue to mess up (ie commit acts of sin).

We are never to embrace sin as good, for that is returning to our ultimate transgression of “playing god”.

But He will forgive us over and over and over when the horror of our crimes against Him cause us to humble ourselves like the prostitute and the tax collector and the blind man and the lame man and the parent with the dead child who says “I am dying and can do NOTHING. Please, Lord, save me from myself!”

momofmany November 14, 2009 - 1:36 am

In cases of spousal abuse (I’ll use male abuse on female, because it’s the more common one, but that’s not saying there aren’t abusive wives, etc), it’s primarily about *power* and *control.*

So when a generally kind husband responds with irritation one morning, that’s not “abuse.” He was just in a grumpy mood and while his snappy retort wasn’t kind or good, it was human, and we all are grumpy from time to time.

What makes the abusive husband different from the grumpy-every-so-often husband, is that the abusive husband uses his snotty comments, etc, as a tool to maintain his power, control and dominance (and his wife’s lack of power, lack of control, and subjection).

That is the difference.

Every abuser is as different as the many different personalities we all have. Some use primarily words. Some use their fists. Some use psychological manipulation. Some use God and the Bible. Some use sexual means. Some use emotions. Most use a combination of the above, in some form or another, to keep you down (because the only way they feel good is to keep you down).

Abuse is a *systematic* pattern of behaviors used to get and keep power and control over another human being.

The abusive person does not think the way a normal person does. This is why counseling sessions or sermons are often not very helpful. They have a completely different way of looking at the world, of looking at the relationship. Often, they can look very good on the outside, and the only people who know the truth are those on the inside, living the insanity. (This is why, in cases of abuse, it is good to go to someone who is trained to deal with the unique way the abusive mind works, as opposed to thinking that a good old fashioned discussion with them is going to help them see the error of their ways).

There are many sites on the internet that define in more detail the various types of abuse (emotional, verbal, pychological, spiritual, sexual, etc). They all have one thing in common, though: a person who feels his sense of worth rise in proportion to how low he makes his partner feel.

It is very serious business, and as another commenter said a long while back, it is not the kind of stuff that band-aids can fix. 🙁

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe November 14, 2009 - 11:00 am

Mom of Many, I can agree with you on everything you said. People who abuse like this do think very differently, and just discussing things with them or preaching to them doesn’t get anywhere. I still maintain that people like this need professional help (if you can get them to go, that is).

My experience with people “not being helped” by professional counseling is that they will not take the advice of the counselor. Just sitting in a counselor’s office will do nothing, unless you take their advice and do what they say, any more than going to the doctor will do any good if you don’t take their advice and take the medication.

Some people won’t “let” you help them. We have found this in our personal experience ministering to people with problems as we have spent much time with them and taken them under our wing. Many of them don’t WANT to change. They think THEY are normal and everybody else is weird. A pastor can minister all day to people like this, leaving no time for sermon preparation or normal visitation to the sick and elderly.

I know Kelly didn’t want the discussion on marriage to take this turn (talking about abusive spouses), but I find in my experience with people that there are more and more abusers out there and more and more mental illness, just due to modern life. Also, people of yesteryear had private problems. People of today are willing to talk about them, and some of them have problems that the average person, Christian, or pastor can’t deal with, because they need the medical community to help, and then the person must accept the medical help and co-operate.

authenticallyME November 14, 2009 - 11:21 pm

I agree, momofmany and Mary.

An abuser can do some of the same things as another person committing a *sin*, yet a person who abuses does so chronically and progressively. The actions are always interlinked and connected to their ego. While the average person struggles with control issues, a person who abuses ego depends on the control.

Thus, if one man (or woman) tells their wife they like the bed made daily….if it isnt done, the abuser takes it personally, whereas the other man would not. The wife of a non-abuser knows it is required that she make teh bed, it is a wish. She knows if she doesnt do it once in awhile, it is ok. OTOH, a wife of an abuser has been prompted to know she MUST make the bed at all costs. Even if she makes the bed, something else wont be right. This abuser does not prefer the bed made, he needs it made at all costs, and wants his wife to join alongside him in his self-serving narcissism, and that is why IMO the best thing to do with an abuser is outright refusal to submit, and not make that bed. A wife needs to refuse to allow herself to worship the abuser the way he demands…because it is not a loving thing to make a bed for someone like this.

Yet, many go to church for help, and hear that their is nothing inherently wrong with making a bed so it is best for the wife to just try, as nothing is wrong with this request. Woprse is the looks and tone of voice you will get when the helpers realize you and your husband are at odds over a made or unmade bed (“why is she making such a big deal?”).

But lots more than an unmade bed is at stake here.

I do not think it is alwasy required that a person be excessively trained to give counsel-some are gifted at it. Hoewever, in general, people at church have a hard time saying that they do not know how to help. Instead, they feel is it required for them to help at all costs, and end up giving faulty help instead.

Another thing to consider, is that people who *do* really want help will often pay for it. At church, most help is free, so it is not skin off anybodys nose if they want to ‘play the part’ and elude help. I fidn it is beneficial for their to be a cost in receving trained help for me, as I could get stagnant myself with my therapy, if there is no cost-benefit associated with it. Sad, but true for much of the human race.

Heather November 15, 2009 - 11:34 am

Unrepentant abusers reveal who is their true “father”. The fellowship that God has within His triune nature is not what He does, it is Who He IS. Fellowship is not something Christians “do”, it is something that exists because God has given us life in Himself.

There is no fellowship between “light” and “dark”. It just isn’t there. If an abusive spouse declares that (s)he will not peacefully abide with a believing one, (s)he has revealed the truth with their violent actions that are motivated by an evil heart. The abuser does not wish to be a part of that union and the believer needs to recognize that.

Satan is the father of lies. Don’t just listen to what he is saying….look for the quality of his fruit. Is it rotten? Are you being fed moldy, maggot filled produce? Are you dying inside?

Then get out of Babylon.

What that instruction looks like on an individual basis, is not something any of us is qualified to say because we cannot read the hearts of others as God can.

Some people seem to have had God heal their marriages when the believing spouse recognizes that the only hope is in hiding under Christ’s wing. As she is nourished and healed, then her spouse also comes to repentance.

For others, the abuser has so hardened in their heart that there is nothing to be done but walk away.

But the only way to know what is right is to personally seek the Lord and beg Him to give His wisdom–then cling to Him for dear Life.

Valentina November 16, 2009 - 8:44 am

I have to say that I believe that the reason that many christian marriages are failing is because we as women are so engulfed in feminism. Created To Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl is a great book that revolutionized my marriage.
My father was very emotionally abusive to my mom and my brothers and I and they did end up divorcing. The problem was that during and after the divorce the abuse (towards us children) got 100 times worse. I love my father and now as an adult am able to know how to talk to him when he acts not so nicely but as a child I was treated pretty badly. Divorce is terrible! Staying together and honoring the marriage covenant might be the best thing you can do for your children. Now my father is alone and my heart aches for him even though I know it is his fault. He still is in love with my mom (he would never admit it) and every holiday it is us children that suffer because we are “torn” because we don’t want our dad to be alone but we also have to spend time with our mom and our spouses families. I do believe that God HATES divorce. Especially because of His love for the children.

Heather November 16, 2009 - 11:12 am

I’ve heard some good things about Pearl’s book. And some really unflattering things.

Feminism is certainly a symptom of our selfish human condition.

The fact is that we need Jesus.

All of us.

Lori November 16, 2009 - 12:27 pm

Heather, I just read it about a month ago. It has some great advice. And also stuff that’s not good, some really not good. I would only recommend it with a lot of caveats.

Heather November 16, 2009 - 12:59 pm

Thanks, Lori


Valentina November 16, 2009 - 3:24 pm

I would be very interested to know what advice you believe to not be good. I read the book a few years book and I loved it. My marriage was great before but has been blissful ever since reading Pearl’s book. I also know that the closer and longer I walk with the Lord, he continues to chisel away the chains of feminism that I didn’t even know were there. I am really just interested to know what is “really not good” about the book. I am open to hearing different opinions.

Lori November 16, 2009 - 7:18 pm

Hello Valentina! First of all, I’m so glad that you were able to get help you needed from this book. I too got some good stuff to improve me, and bless my marriage. I think it’s interesting that she compares wifely impropriety to causing the Word blasphemy (Titus 2:5). I really agree with her that I am not to be my husband’s conscience – I can give my opinion, but I am not called to change my husband’s mind, nor be the angel on his shoulder constantly reminding (nagging!) him. Not her image, but that’ the idea. I’m not sure I’d thought about it before, but I tend to agree that both spiritually and pragmatically speaking, there’s a lot to be said for sticking with a man who has committed adultury (not talking about a habitual philanderer here), but seeking him out in love (emotional and sexual). For the protection and provision of the children if nothing else. Lots of other good stuff too! For the record she does not advocate staying with an ausive man (though I guess that depends on how one wants to define “abuse”). I know this isn’t what you asked for, but I don’t want to talk about my dissent w/out talking about the good stuff too.

That said, my main concern was the way she would speak with authority on situations she was NOT privy to. Remember when she was talking about the woman who constantly nagged her husband about being more spiritual, leaving his job to (supposedly) do God’s work? That wife was suddenly stuck with madness. Debi claimed that this was obviously the work of God on the woman’s mind, afflicting her for trying to be her husband’s spiritual guide. I certainly believe that it’s possible, but I think it’s unwise to pretend to claim God’s intentions when it’s not from God’s word, at least when libel/slander might be involved. And it’s not a good idea to go around chalking up mental illness to disobedience to God. It CAN be, but she dosen’t even tip the hat to say, “by the way, this is not always the cause of mental illness.” God does not treat everyone like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30-34). Then she gets more ostentatious later, when she talks about “what not to say.” She mentions a couple she knew (well, was somewhat aquainted with anyway): a widower and his second wife. The husband becomes something of a recluse (well, at least from the folks at that church) after marrying her. Now, Debi herself claims that wife #2 is “good as gold” in her opinion, then goes on to describe “I can just imagine what she was saying to her husband.” In closed quartes. Where Debi was not in attendance. Debi describes this situation where the wife is supposedly emotionally and verbally licking her husband’s perceived wounds, causing him to distrust the people around him. It is possible that I misunderstood. I borrowed the book and cannot at this time recheck to verify. But if I am correct, then that is shameful! Please correct me if I am misrepresenting the passage!

And that section brings something to mind: how is the correct way to comfort and help, a husband when he is feeling emotionally let down? Is it really wrong to verbally empathize with him? Debi says the correct way to help him at this time is to basically tell him he’ll be fine, you believe in him. Verbally empathizing with him just encourages him to feel sorry for himself and distrust others. Now I don’t know. But I tend to think there’s not just one way to approach that. I would really appreciate a more exerienced wife’s input on that, who has also read the book (I’ve been married 7 years).

There were other things that made me pause, but I can’t think of them right at this moment. But like I said, I am not against her book, I just have reservations about recommending it. Hope that helps.

Lori November 16, 2009 - 8:29 pm

Valentina, at this moment I’m still waiting for my response to post. But I want to mention some other things I was uncomfortable with.

In her section on being a keeper at home (where she makes some helpful observations) she mentions a story of a young mother she knew who left her children – only 15 minutes – to help with some ministry, and her little child was molested. If only mother had not left her child! How horrible to lay that on the mother! Shall we never, ever leave our children? Yes, I realize this is a very dangerous world, but 15 minutes? And what if the husband wanted mother to assist him for those 15 minutes? Could she make mothers feel any worse? But young mother is not the only person she condemns. She mentions a time when she selfishly wanted to go grocery shopping w/out her children as it would be so much easier (imagine!). She *almost* left her child with an older couple – the older wife had arranged to babysit and the husband happened to be in attendence. Good mother Debi got a bad feeling about the husband and scooped her little one up and said thanks but no thanks, and now feels so relieved that she saved her child from possible molestation.

Now, let me be clear. If you have a bad feeling about a man, you should not leave your child in his care. Scooping up your child and leaving is the sensible decision. My beef is that she seems to be maligning this man, who as far as we know has never behaved improperly to any child, in her book. She does not know that she saved her child from anything. She should have kept that to herself. She condems women for supposedly making their husbands reserved and supposedly distrustful, but what exactly does she expect young mothers to do when faced with these stories? Yes, recommend caution by all means, but when talking about being a keeper at home, must she go straight to the worst possible scenario?

And speaking of whether or not to trust an older person, please don’t leave your child alone with her. She will grill him/her about whether or not you bake your cookies with whole wheat flour, and then extrapolate the inferred info from his/her response onto your active presense in your child’s life (or his in yours), and that your child is dull, or unattended, when he might just be shy (wary!). Let alone whether or not you bake with whole wheat flour, or bake at all. Seriously?

It seems to me that the Pearls give good advice, but there’s so much funk and junk I’m not sure it’s worth the time. Clearly for some it is, but I’d rather recommend another author (like Martha Pearce).

Lori November 16, 2009 - 9:13 pm


Lori November 16, 2009 - 9:14 pm

Aarg. I did not click “add..” I was going to correct myself and say Oops – Martha Peace.

Valentina November 17, 2009 - 8:04 am

Thanks Lori!
I would need to reread the book and then respond. It is honestly one of my favorite books. I do believe that her book can seem a little harsh with not much grace but I kind of think that we get enough (too much) grace from the world and that may be the reason she wrote her book so matter of factly. I’ll try to reread parts of her book and then respond.

authenticallyME November 17, 2009 - 9:48 am

I like some of the Pearls stuff too, but I have struggled with guilt, shame, and anger when reading some of their thoughts. I tend to like their business ideas, the way they trained their children to work, and the overall spiritual atmosphere they describe for a home.

I persaoanlly dont find it fair to say this world receives too much grace. Everyone has *like* spiritual needs, and everyone has *differing* spiritual needs as well. For someone coming out of abuse and criticism, and shame, I need more grace than harshness.

That being said, too much grace or chastisement is off balance, and doesnt even really make sense, since they are so enmeshed they are one and the same. Perhaps saying I digest things better when they are said tenderly, would be correct, and to say some digest things better when said tactfully/matter-of-factly, would be a good comparison. (???)

Heather November 17, 2009 - 10:05 am


I have read To Train up a Child and used to subscribe to the magazine.

The book I would recommend as it stresses the need for the building of relationships and consistency in teaching/training.

For some reason, I also had a creeping sense of guilt when reading their articles. And it was not because I was not interested in learning the truth. It was more the presentation of “This is what the Bible says and if you aren’t doing it THIS way, you are wrong”.

I didn’t need to have that load added to my already heavy burden.

While I have not read the Helpmeet book, I know someone who has and she said it was wonderful for her (she has always had unrecognized feminist tendencies that were brought to light while reading). I did page through the book but discarded the thought of reading because I could tell it would only make me feel like a worse wife and distract from the stuff I already felt convicted over.

Speaking from ignorance about the overall content of the book (but knowing the tone of the Pearl’s perspective) I think it could be helpful for someone who wants to be a good wife, but is confounded by the failures of her efforts that have been unknowingly tainted by hidden rebellion.

If a woman already understands the need for family order, has already been personally convicted of her tendency to rebel and is asking God for guidance, it would probably just make things worse.

Some people respond well to “in your face” confrontation while others need to be treated more gently.

Even conviction of sin isn’t a “one size fits all” deal.

authenticallyME November 17, 2009 - 10:35 am

Heather, your description was spot on. I know a woman who was kinda ‘in your face’ with her husband, but thought she wasnt, or was entitled to be that way…she loved the book. I read the first chapter and wanted to vomit…it brought out all my shame all over again, something I am trying to stand against!

I have To Train Up a Child, and the answers to letters (No greater joy, volumes?), and still receive their newsletter. In the beginning, being immature, I took tehir advice hook line and sinker, figuring they ‘knew’ better. Unfortunately, for my family, since I was lacking intimacy, the relationships with my chidlren suffered. It was all work and no play….it was discipline without relationship 🙁

I was very grateful when about 2 years ago, The Pearls began receiving mail explaining the ‘fruit’ of all their relationshless-disciplining. Luckily, The Pearls udnerstood, and began developing articles stressing the need for inclusion, family time, relationships, being buddies, etc. I really needed to hear that side of the equation! Some of us did not experience this in our family of origin, and we need to ‘see’ this modeled!

What is funny, in hindsight, is that the discipline I quite naturally gave my girls before reading The Pearls probably was better aligned with God, than what I parroted after reading their books. And I played with them more, related more in the beginning, in purity. I suppose I am one who becomes easily tainted by others doctrines, and in recent years becoming delivered from that!

Thanks for sharing!

Word Warrior November 17, 2009 - 11:02 am

A word about my take on Created to be His Helpmeet…(BTW…I agree with some of the Pearl’s stuff, and disagree with others.)

I think there were a few things in the book, (I would have to re-read it to expound) that I didn’t whole-heartedly embrace–details here and there, but over all, I was transformed by it.

On shame and guilt: I was sobbing as I read the book, and yes, completely engulfed in shame and guilt, which is exactly what I should have been as I was confronted with my sinfulness. A “broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise.” We’re too quick to dismiss shame and guilt as always a bad thing. It is right to be broken–even to the point of physical sickness, over sin. (Remember David?)

It is part of the Lord’s “loving chastisement” in bringing His children back to Him.

CTBHH helped me see how I was often manipulative to my husband, how I was only responsible for changing me and needed to stop being a “dripping faucet” in an effort to improve him.

Another huge lesson I learned from it was the importance of being joyful, and how much our husbands appreciate a happy wife instead of one who is always complaining. As so many other women, when I started implementing these simple concepts, it really brought a sweetness to my marriage.

The book makes me think of the concept that Dr. Laura repeats a lot: men are basically really easy to live happily with if we could just get over our pettiness 😉

momofmany November 17, 2009 - 11:25 am

Well…CTBHH was poisonous to read as a wife in an abusive relationship. As has been said before, when your husband needs to have your full (and unearned, undeserved) trust, respect, and obedience, and uses that to make sure you stay low (humiliated, lessened, etc) in order that he might feel high, any book that tells you that:
1. You were uniquely made to serve that exact man and serving that man is your God-ordained ministry in life,
2. that a “command man” who demands to be served like a king is a good thing (not an abusive personality),
3. and/or that talking to others about your marriage is a sin,
4. and/or that wives who have faith will stay in their abusive marriage, etc,

is a troubling book, at best. I do not recommend the book for abused wives, for those reasons and more.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 11:28 am

Kelly, I agree with your observations as well.
But I’d still send someone an article you wrote over a copy of CTBHH. 🙂

AM, I’m glad to hear they’re offering a more complete overview of their practices in the articles.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 11:39 am

1. No, Pearl does not teach this. She actually gives examples of women who clearly married the wrong man, they were not “uniquely made to serve that exact man.” But she has a “love the one you’re with” mentality (hat tip to the late Mr. Vandross).

2. A “command man” is a personality type. It is neither good nor bad. It is a type of man who can be good or bad.

3. Talking to others about your marriage is not a sin (if it were the Pearls would be culpable as accomplices).

4. In one anecdote she urges (and the whole church urged) the wife to leave her abusive husband. The wife refused. So Debi took her aside and essentially said “If you will NOT leave, then this is the godly way of behaving…” She did not urge the wife to stay.

There are lots of things to take issue with MOM, you should take issue with the real issues, not the percieved, misconstrued ones. That isn’t helpful.

Heather November 17, 2009 - 12:02 pm

“We’re too quick to dismiss shame and guilt as always a bad thing. It is right to be broken–even to the point of physical sickness, over sin. (Remember David?)”

Kelly, this is true to a point. Trust me when I say I’m not one of those who will just brush off feelings of guilt.

We believers need to understand, though, that conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit alone. Yes, God uses Scripture and other believers. But there is no way we can convince someone else of their own guilt–even if it is laid out for the whole world to see.

When Nathan confronted David with his sin, he did not storm in and announce “David, you did X, Y and Z. You are guilty as the day is long and God is furious with you— so repent, you scum!”

Instead, he told a story and as David realized the injustice of what the rich man had done, a righteous indignation flared up within him. God showed Him the truth and Nathan didn’t need to say anything except “That’s you, O king.”

The harder the heart is, the harder the Lord will push in order to crack the shells of certain children. But not all need this type of chastisement.

I am happy for you in that you found Helpmeet to be helpful. In the context of what AM and I have been saying, I would also like to point out how appropriately your comment supports what we’ve been saying.

I seem to recall you saying a while back that you have been one of those hard-headed feminist sorts 😉

Keeping that in mind, I can totally understand the overall tone of your blog and the need for family structure, headship etc.

If this is what God has used to speak to your heart, then perhaps it is your calling to share with others who are blind in the same way you used to be. It isn’t a bad thing to offer help in a way that God has helped you. We (ALL of us, including myself) need to remember that much of what you say here will not resonate with many readers. It isn’t because you are saying things that are totally untrue or unimportant. Rather, that God makes us as individuals and not all of us need precisely the same wounds to be healed in precisely the same way.

I never overlook sin as a “small” thing. It is not small or God Himself would not have had to die. However, prudence requires that we remain humble in our efforts to help others because some may not need the type of help being offered while others don’t yet realize they need help at all.

Make sense?

Heather November 17, 2009 - 12:23 pm


I think part of the trouble with “wifely submission” books is that they only focus on half of the relationship.

And, when people write “scripturally based” books on this subject, they present a lopsided picture of what is “wrong” with certain marriages. Then, they heap a ton of guilt on the head of the woman who has done everything humanly possible (including begging God for direction) to try to keep her marriage together.

In the Bible, we don’t see marital instruction presented in this manner. We just don’t.

I’ve been messed up by too many “Biblically sound” self-help books and almost every one stresses the need to pray harder, read more scripture, be nicer, etc. That is really nothing more than religified human philosophy. What we need to hear when our marriages are failing and kids are rebelling is that we need to cling to Jesus and beg Him to show us what to do.

My dad told me once (he’s been in advertising in the past)….He said “Heather, I’m going to tell you something about those books you read” (I perked up because I thought he’d have good advice about which one had the best answers)…..

He said “People sell books for one reason and one reason only. To make money.” And as that sunk in, I realized the truth. If an author’s primary concern is for the reader’s well being, he would, at his own expense, print and give away what he’s written.

Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to go out and slickly market the Good News in order to make a living. He said “Freely give as you have freely received.”

If you find a book that speaks to your heart. Wonderful, I’m sure God can use anything to get our attention. He hasn’t yet had to resort to talking donkeys, as far as I know.

But we need to keep in perspective the reason these books are on the market in the first place.

momofmany November 17, 2009 - 12:42 pm


“Try harder, do more, it’s all up to you,” that was the mantra from my abusive husband, and that was the mantra from the Debi Pearl book.

The thing is, that is not the mantra that Christ sings over me. When I discovered that, everything began to change. Not my abusive husband. He didn’t change. He actually ended up getting even worse. But *I* changed.

What I had been doing, what I had been believing, what I had been striving for, it wasn’t Christ. It was all “good” things, sure, but it wasn’t Christ. And the guilt and shame that came of it all, the condemnation that was my constant garment (from my husbnad, from the books, and eventually, from my own self) that wasn’t Christ either. There is no condemnation in Christ.

Experiencing His grace changed everything for me…and He still is.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 12:45 pm

Heather – “In the Bible, we don’t see marital instruction presented in this (lopsided) manner. We just don’t.”
-first of all, not all biblical counsel books are lopsided.
second of all, if they are speaking to just half of the marriage (like CTBHH), it is because that is the scope of the book(surely you’ve heard “such and such is beyond the scope of…”) The scope of the Bible is far less limited. Debi Pearl was specifically speaking to women because that is her sphere, at least in her opinion. The Bible specifically speaks to all people.

” ‘People sell books for one reason and one reason only. To make money.’ And as that sunk in, I realized the truth. If an author’s primary concern is for the reader’s well being, he would, at his own expense, print and give away what he’s written.”

-First of all, that is not true across the board. Some people sell books to make money and only to make montey. Some people sell books because they think their product has a value.
Second, You seem to assume that there’s something wrong with making money. Last time I checked, publishing books takes money. Even giving them away on the internet takes money – to run the website, to maintain one’s computer, etc. And what about time? As (author who gives away books and sells them) Gary North often says, “Time is the one non-renuable commodity.” That means it is precious, valuable. (btw, North knows a little something about marketing too) And if a book is helpful then there’s no reason why an author shouldn’t be compensated not only for the time in producing a book, but the time it took to gain the knowledge that went into the book. If an author spend 1000 hours to research and wrote something, then that saves you 1000 hours of your life. That is something of value.

We have all been freely given time. Does that mean we can make demands of each other’s time? We have been given talents , do we then get to make demands of each other’s talents, and claim they’re greedy or parsimonious if they ask for finantial reimbursment?

Perhaps we should say that teachers only teach to get the money (or why don’t they teach for free?) Doctors only are in it for the money (if they really wanted to help people, they would only ask to be compensated for the cost of their equipment.) And the garbage man, doesn’t he just want to keep the streets free of waste? How dare he be so greedy as to ask me to pay him anything beyond cost-reimbursment.

SOME people do do things just for the money. But frankly, even if my doctor only removes my melanoma for the money, I really don’t care if he does a good job, and it’s a price I agree to in advance. But I shouldn’t be accusing him of that anyway.

Word Warrior November 17, 2009 - 12:50 pm


You make perfect sens and ironically, I’ve thought so much about this lately. Yesterday, this verse came to me, and I wondered if it relates to this blog, my approach which some same is “so helpful” and others say is “so hurtful”…

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. ,strong>We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

I’m trying always to be sensitive to everyone, and yet the “urgency” I constantly feel (literally 24 hours) compels me. It’s a hard place to be…I’m truly sincere.

momofmany November 17, 2009 - 1:06 pm

This is meant kindly…but are you certain the “urgency” is truly of God?

authenticallyME November 17, 2009 - 1:06 pm

I know any of us *can* be deceived, but the best way i can describe true guilt over false guilt, is the way I identify inside, and my reaction.

My false guilt was so programmed into me, that I would LOOK guilty, when telling the 100% truth. If someone intimidated me, accused me, even hinted at *my* guilt in an area, I might as well said, “it is true”….because it appeared so. Imagine guilt all consuming you, that it becomes a part of your personality, that you begin deceiving yourself backwards….thinking things you didnt do, you actually did.

I once hit a man, in my car, or we hit one another. Within moments, he had ME convinced the accident was my fault. It didnt matter that later the police decided otherwise, and that witnesses viewed the accident. If someone tries to dominate my conscience -and there are plently out there willing to take that guardianship over our soul-I, as a more submissive natural soul, I have allowed them, even in error.

When i catch myself even coming close to guilting my children, or criticizing them….when I hit one of those revelation moments in my soul, I remember, “Woman, this is how YOU got to be so down on yoruself, you resigned your conscience over to others”…and I am trying to break this ccyle for my kids. Kids who are shamed or guilted, or overly-criticized….will often take a passive role next to others, as an adult.

I am so blessed God revealed this to me, and that I can now operate out of my own authentic self.

I do see what you are saying Kelly, and as humans we all need to be willing to look at our true wrongs. But false guilt does nothing in the way of remedying this, it only perpetuates the problem as often people laden with false guilt, try to escape every instance of guilt they feel, and are compltely lost in what *is* and *isnt* their true guilt to own (becasue they try and dodge any uncomfortability associated with residual and chronic guilt) If that makes sense?

Word Warrior November 17, 2009 - 1:14 pm


Well, I don’t know where else it could come from. It comes, uninvited, with all the force of a tidal wave, and I, unable to stop it, write 😉 It’s what caused me to start the blog. I was constantly “talking to the air” before. Well, I still do, but that’s another issue *grin*

And not to paint some kind of super spiritual picture, but when I read the prophets, Jeremiah and the like (and not, that’s not all I read–rarely, in fact), my heart resonates with what I read there. And when I read the words of Jesus, I see the same urgency and “hard speaking” that other people don’t seem to see.

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60.) Jesus then asked, “Doth this offend you?”

Lori November 17, 2009 - 1:14 pm

Wow, Heather, I just re-read your comment, and I was somewhat mistaken in your meaning (this will make more sense once my prev post is up). You’re even more extreme than I had realized:

“If an author’s primary concern is for the reader’s well being, he would, at his own expense, print and give away what he’s written.”
– “At his own expense”?! That’s not in the Bible, and you’re making assertions about intention!

“Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to go out and slickly market the Good News in order to make a living.”
-Nor did He say that it can’t support the man and family. You’re adding to the scripture!

As a matter of fact, God said
“But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it (grain).” Prov 11:26 parenthetical note mine for clarification. God did not say that if a farmer really want to help people he had to give grain away at his own expense. He said (yes I’m repeating), “blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.” Selling for money is an acceptable, even blessed part of one’s walk with God. Can it be abused? Yes, but that’s not a mark against selling.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 1:53 pm

Actually Heather, just after your “freely give quote Jesus says “a worker is worthy of his food.” Matt 10:10

Lori November 17, 2009 - 2:09 pm

Matt 10:
V8 – Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,[c] cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

V9 – Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,

V10 – nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

It actually appears that in this instance, Jesus is *forbidding* the disciples from paying for the spreading of the Word out of their own pockets (“money belts”) “at their own expense.”

I believe that “freely give” refers to the offer of salvation by the grace of God, and it possibly (though I would not go to the stake for this suggestion) freely give miracles, as they were freely given the ability to perform miracles (“raise the dead!”). It could also just mean go and freely offer cleanliness to the unclean, as you were freely given cleanliness.

authenticallyME November 17, 2009 - 2:48 pm

I think we are to freely give of any spiritual gift.

Other jobs, we can get paid for.

In a sense, however, if someone is imparting their ‘spiritual gift’, and desiring to make money off of it, I could see how that could be wrong.

Heather November 17, 2009 - 2:55 pm


I do believe your heart motivation is one of love for the Lord and for those around you. Not everyone can benefit directly from what you share and, because we are all sinners and internet is less than perfect way to communicate, misunderstandings can result.


I’m sorry I stepped on your toes. I shared what my dad told me. What he meant was, essentially, that I shouldn’t immediately take to heart everything I read. My lack of discernment when reading human interpretation and opinion was getting me rattled and I would forget to filter through Scripture and prayer the “sure answers” that were filling my head.

He wanted me to see that if someone is selling a book, I should not automatically assume they have the reader’s best interest at heart. Perhaps my wording was clumsy, but I was not attempting to assign motives to other’s actions.

But let me ask this: If my primary concern is to get someone out of a burning building, do you think I should stand at the doorway, telling them I’ll let them out for $10?

And no. I didn’t add to scripture, I said that it didn’t say something.

I was in no way referring to the buying and selling of goods like grain or cars or whatever.

I was talking about the marketing of supposedly Godly counsel that hurting people should be able to access for free.

I am aware of the context of the verse to which I referred and, after reading your comment, looked it up to be sure I was not misusing it. I was in Luke, not Matthew. The disciples were instructed to not *charge* for (ie put a price tag on) the things they did in Christ’s name.

They were supposed to rely on God to care for them as they served Him. And He apparently intended to work through the generosity of those whom they contacted. And, it is implied that they were to be thankful for whatever they were given by these people.(v7-8)

If God is the One they were to trust for their wages, wouldn’t it be like a slap in His face to suggest that He should have prompted people to give more–or that they had the right to decide on their own what their services were worth?

Considering that hospitality to strangers is a big part of that culture, it shouldn’t surprise us a bit that He would say that.

In no way am I suggesting that a pastor or missionary should be forbidden to receive compensation for the work they do. I have no problem with people taking up a collection or even for workers to ask for donations. Those who have been blessed by them should be falling over themselves to help out.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

I’m sorry we don’t see eye to eye on this but I’m hardly as extreme as you seem to think I am.

Heather November 17, 2009 - 2:56 pm

Well, I responded, but my comment is lost or something.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 3:03 pm

“I think we are to freely give of any spiritual gift.”

-Why? What is your basis for this theory?

“Other jobs, we can get paid for.”

-Why is it ok to get paid for other jobs? What is your basis for this?

I’m not trying to be contentious, or to quiz for the sake of a quiz. I ask because if one says “this is the right way of doing it” you are by default saying that those who don’t do it the way you describe are wrong, and in this case not submitted to God. I think the standard of right and wrong must come from the Bible on issues of morality.

Let’s say that you’re right, then what constitutes a spiritual gift that must be free?
Where do we draw the line between a healer from the Spirit and a healer from med school? Is not all healing a gift from God? Do you feel the slope getting slippery? I do think some things should be freely given, but I think I addressed that in my last post.

The litmus test for truth must be the Bible, not one’s feelings nor whether one is seeking finantial reimbursement.

Heather November 17, 2009 - 3:14 pm


There is a difference between an occupation that one intellectually and physically trains for and the type of spiritual gift that comes from the Lord.

And the slope can indeed become slippery when a pastor and his people agree on a price for his service. The motivation to serve from a pure heart can easily become entangled with a desire to have more than God has allotted. Not passing judgment on all who have received payment. Just pointing out a reality.

As Paul wrote to Timothy,

But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and it is clear that we can carry nothing out.
But having food and clothing, we will be content.
But they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some having lusted after, they were seduced from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But you, O man of God, flee these things and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. 1 Timothy 6:6-11

Heather November 17, 2009 - 3:43 pm


Comments got through. There’s a long one above AM’s last remark.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 4:02 pm

Heather – “I’m sorry I stepped on your toes”
– this has nothing to do with my toes. It has to do with what appeared to be a misrepresentation of God’s Word. But is does make me tremble as this smacks of the new social gospel that would in fact do away with private property and private venture. I am relieved if I misunderstood.

“I was in no way referring to the buying and selling of goods like grain or cars or whatever. ”
– you were talking about books. Books and grain, wisdom and nourishment(of varying qualities, to be sure).

“But let me ask this: If my primary concern is to get someone out of a burning building, do you think I should stand at the doorway, telling them I’ll let them out for $10?”
– No. But let me ask you this. Do you pay money towards a fire department? Do you wish to stop paying it?

“I was in Luke, not Matthew.”
-Well, I can’t verify the context since you didn’t give the citation, but is it not the same instance being witnessed to in Matt 10? There is a lot of overlap in the gospels after all.

“They were supposed to rely on God to care for them as they served Him.”
-I agree with this. In addition to what I posted earlier.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

– I thought of this passage as well, and it seems to support my claim. I don’t think that wages equates “love offering.” And the ox is as a matter of fact determining his pay.

“There is a difference between an occupation that one intellectually and physically trains for and the type of spiritual gift that comes from the Lord.”
– OK, but where is that difference? During my last pregnancy a very kink lady offered to watch my children AND clean my house for me while I went to the doctor. This is certainly a spiritual gift of help (1 Cor 12:28) at the least. Is she then being disobedient if she turns around and asks another lady to pay for housecleaning? Or babysitting?

“For the love of money is a root of all evils”
– Yes, the operative word being “love.”

“The motivation to serve from a pure heart can easily become entangled with a desire to have more than God has allotted.”
-Yes true, but again my trembling as I wonder who gets to decide what God allegedly alloted?

“He wanted me to see that if someone is selling a book, I should not automatically assume they have the reader’s best interest at heart.”
-I certainly agree with this.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 4:27 pm

Sorry, “sorry that I misunderstood”
and “very kind lady.”

Heather November 17, 2009 - 5:27 pm

I’m not remotely interested in the “social gospel”

I’ll try again with the selling of goods. I have no problem with people writing/selling books and making money.

I am concerned when professing (hopefully mature)Christians place a price tag on what they consider to be godly counsel–and offer that spiritual guidance to others for a cost.

A needy person should not be taken advantage of. Widows and orphans should not have to be reduced to begging or prostitution in order to receive help. And there is a spiritual parallel, in that when we were helpless, Christ gave everything for us. We don’t dare turn around and force spiritually/emotionally bleeding people to pay for their own bandages. Think “Good Samaritan”

The point of the worker being worthy is not how much he gets paid, but Who is his boss. Were the disciples working for themselves (and free to charge whatever they pleased) or were they working for God, (thus subject to His terms of service).

Perhaps I should not have used a burning building scenario. Paying someone for a preventive secular service (to preserve material wealth) is not the same thing as racing to the side of someone who is already in serious emotional/spiritual trouble.

1 Corinthians is probably not a good place to go in order to determine the proper use of spiritual gifting (or even to develop a comprehensive list). Paul was chewing out the Corinthians for their lack of brotherly love and concern for each other. And he basically was saying “Who cares if you have ‘gifts’ if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord of love? Stop being so self-centered.”

But, I would say that one good way to determine whether something is a true gifting from God or just another service is whether the person who offers it is expecting some sort of material compensation.

If we ask for monetary payment (or look for human praise)for our good deeds, then we should not expect to receive heavenly treasure for our sacrifice. Matthew 6:3-4

When I read my Bible, I note that when God heals, it is not the same as when man “heals”. We have to use drugs, knives, plastic body parts etc. I don’t find anywhere that those who God healed were continually dependent on Prophets or apostles for long-term treatment. A service that relies on man’s skill is not the same as something God miraculously does.

Concerning less tangible gifts like help, prophecy, interpretation, etc……The pagans worshiped gods who would “give a word” through their priests for a price. In Acts 16, Paul casts out a “spirit of divination” from a slave girl who was making her masters a good profit. Elisha refused to take payment from Naaman when God cured him of leprosy(He knew it was God alone who deserved the glory)–but a dishonest servant got to carry the disease when he accepted a tiny portion of the payment for his own gain……

I’m thinking we need to be extremely careful how we manage that which God has entrusted to our care.

There is a big difference between getting paid for doing a secular service and accepting payment for something that God alone deserves credit for.

I think it takes discernment and self-control to not overstep from simply trading perishable material goods to slipping into territory where we don’t belong.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 6:55 pm

“I’m thinking we need to be extremely careful how we manage that which God has entrusted to our care. ”

“I think it takes discernment and self-control to not overstep from simply trading perishable material goods to slipping into territory where we don’t belong.”

I agree.

Heather November 17, 2009 - 8:01 pm


Our discussion became pretty tangled so I wanted to pull out and clarify a couple things before I go my way.

I need to explain something about the original comment I quoted from my dad.

He is given to hyperbole and isn’t likely to even believe himself that the “only” reason a person writes a book is because of greed. If a book is being sold, though, someone stands to make some money and it is something to keep in mind when reading the book. He’s been in both publishing and advertising and knows that the markup on some books is huge compared to the publishing costs.

He was only trying to get me to see that I was repeatedly spending money on and reading stuff that kept me vaguely agitated and was harmful to my simple faith in God alone. It was during a time that I was attempting to dig deeper than “what I’d always been told was true” and book after book (all with different perspectives about what real salvation looks like) left me even more confused and worried that my soul was in peril if I didn’t pick the “right” perspective.

And it trailed back to the fact that I was trusting in man’s wisdom rather than asking God directly.

I am not a bit against Christians writing books and making money from their efforts. If a person has something worthwhile to share, I don’t mind paying them for their work and wouldn’t stand in the way of someone else’s ability to buy.

All I was trying to say is that it is important to use caution and remember that not all Christian living/help books are helpful (for various reasons)
and since I do not personally know the authors I need to be extremely careful to not bank my faith and spiritual well-being on their teaching.

I never have believed that a pastor or missionary should work “for free” and it’s not my business to say that someone who takes a job as a pastor is sinning.

If someone is truly needy, and *I* have the ability to help, I don’t see that the Bible supports the idea of me trying to charge them for that help. On the other hand, there is nothing that I have found in Scripture to forbid a helper from receiving a gift from the person who has been helped, if God moves them to give.

Lori November 17, 2009 - 8:29 pm

Thank you Heather for clarifying. Lots of good points. 🙂

momofmany November 17, 2009 - 9:01 pm

Consider being an abused wife, hyper-controlled by a man who uses his role to find ways to humiliate and denegrate you (but slyly, not overtly or ever in front of people), and you go to a Christian marriage book for help and read things like,

“When you obey your husband, you obey God. The degree to which you reverence your husband is the degree to which you reverence your Creator.”

Where is that in Scripture?

It’s not there. This is false teaching.

“God has provided for your husband’s complete sanctification and deliverance from temptation through you, his wife.”

This is not Scriptural teaching. Debi puts the wife in the place of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine being married to an abusive man (who you are never good enough for, as it is) and now you are being told that your submissive spirit and your NOT demanding your rights is what his sanctification is dependant on?

“God stands with you when you stand by your man, but you will stand alone if you insist on standing by your rights. Always remember that the day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day leading to your divorce proceedings.”

Again, imagine listening to this, if you can, as a wife who is regularly and consistantly abused. Debi is talking, in that quote, to wives who have been sinned against by their husbands, and telling them how to respond. The wives are basically told NOT to feel what they are feeling. But God wired us to feel for a reason. Feelings have purpose. The feelings of deep pain are often there as a warning sign that something is terribly wrong. I put on a smiling face for YEARS in the face of hte abuse, my goal being to win my husband’s heart. In the long run, it simply taught him that the abuse was okay, that he could continue hurting me because I wouldn’t make his life miserable for it. It is like giving sweet smiles to a toddler’s daily tantrum. It feeds more of the same.

“A woman’s calling is not easy. To allow someone else to control your life is much harder than taking control of it yourself.”

How was I to know that my husband’s need to control everything was abuse, when books like the above define it as his “role,” and obedience to his control as my “role.”

I could go on with quote upon quote, but I won’t, and even then, we would probably still disagree. I simply want to say that this book and similar books can be terribly destructive when read by women who long for God but are in abusive marriages. Unless you have experienced such a marriage, I’m not really sure I can explain.

Comment on Marriage Problem #1: Misunderstanding of “Covenant” by Lori | marriageproblems November 18, 2009 - 8:46 am

[…] View original post here: Comment on Marriage Problem #1: Misunderstanding of “Covenant” by Lori […]

Valentina November 18, 2009 - 8:53 am

I’m so sorry you have gone through what you have gone through. I am not married to an abusive man. He can be tough and he is definately a command man and I believe if I were to test him he could become really mean but he has never been abusive towards me. Pearl’s book really helped me and many other women I know as well. We are not married to abusive men. But I have seen nice normal men with not so nice wives turn pretty ugly and borderline abusive. Your situation sounds different.As I said before my father was very emotionally and almost physically abusive. It must of been very hard for my mom. She tried for years and eventually couldn’t take it any longer. My mom and dad should never have been married but without them there would be no me (and my brothers). Their marriage was a result of my mom becoming pregnant with my brother.

I think what Pearl was trying to say when she said “When you obey your husband you obey God” is that we are called by God as wives to reverence and submit to our husbands. There are many scriptures on this. I just know in my own life that when I obey God’s commands I am blessed.

Valentina November 18, 2009 - 2:50 pm

For the record…I love my husband and am a very blessed helpmeet!!!!!!!!!! We need to focus on our husband’s attributes and love and respect them because God has called us to.

Anonymous November 19, 2009 - 9:36 am

I agree with momofmany. If you are struggling with serious problems in your relationship, things bigger than “he won’t fix stuff around the house”. Helpmeet can be a very dangerous book.
In my own relationship DH struggled with an addiction to pornography since childhood. Yes, he is a believer, and yes, he has been free of if for almost two years now, but his freedom had everything to do with God and not even one small teeny tiny thing to do with what I did or didn’t do as a wife.
In fact, reading the Helpmeet book during our years of marital difficulty caused a lot more heartache and damage than help.
Here I was trying and trying and TRYING to be the perfect wife so that he would stop struggling, and never fully grasping the concept that it had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t caused by me and couldn’t be cured by me.
Now my husband is healing, and I am having to work on my own issues from following the advice in that book (sleep with your husband as much as possible so he’ll be too tired to look elsewhere). The fact is, in our unique relationship I felt wrong to offer myself to him in the condition we were in, but I did it anyway because I thought I was being the “good wife”. Now I struggle with a fear and disdain for sex as a result of having it so much with a complete lack of relationship.
So, her advice completely backfired in our relationship.
Not to say it couldn’t help someone else, but I don’t recommend the book anymore as you never know when someone is being abused behind closed doors, or whether legalistic and somewhat formulaic advice will do more harm than good.

authenticallyME November 19, 2009 - 11:23 am

ANONYMOUS….amen! That has been my experience, exactly!

Jennifer April 26, 2010 - 5:56 pm

Anon, THANK you for your honesty! I just recently heard from yet another woman who claimed that her marriage’s problems were about HER changing, not her addict husband, that just leaving him alone was best, etc. VERY tiring and irritating; the wife is not Superwoman and can’t be her hubby’s missing link to health.

Kim January 10, 2011 - 7:09 pm

My husband has committed adultery more than once. He depends on me being submissive and forgiving and can’t figure out why I am so upset when he has “cut it off” and wants to make a new start. He doesn’t listen to pastoral counseling when I’ve forced it; he has refused to go to any other kind of counselor. We have a large homeschooling family and everything thinks we are a wonderful, happy family. I’ve been waiting on God to act for years now, and instead of healing our marriage, He has allowed my husband to engage in multiple emotional affairs and a couple of sexual affairs. He knows how to say what a pastor wants to hear and does just enough “repentance” to the pastors to convince them that he is repentant and they won’t have to institute church discipline. Things are better for a while, then he gets busy with things outside the home and finds women who are more than willing to help him with WHATEVER needs he has. I find it sickening, but I have children to support and do not want to raise them in a broken home. I’ve read a zillion books on marriage and adultery and forgiveness and being a good wife. I am not blameless (I get easily discouraged these days and can fall into depression) but I have “done” all these things suggested. His ego just needs more than what one wife can provide. Sigh.

Word Warrior January 10, 2011 - 8:45 pm


My heart breaks for you. I don’t have answers. I only know the One who does. I am praying for you, dear one.

sexshop April 1, 2012 - 6:32 pm

I am glad for commenting to let you be aware of of the incredible encounter my cousin’s daughter found checking your webblog. She came to find several issues, most notably what it’s like to have a marvelous giving heart to have many more clearly have an understanding of several complex subject areas. You really did more than people’s desires. My honest regret for not expressing appreciation to earlier.Magazin sex shop Brasov arat lenjerie femei la super ieftin diferite marfuri ca tratamente ejaculare precoce. Online sexshop magazin in Botosani va ofera lenjerie intima de culoare rosie


Leave a Comment

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram

Post Category

motherhood/family/parenting Uncategorized christian living homeschooling pregnancy/birth control marriage frugal living/saving money large families public school abortion feminism dating/courtship church/children's ministry entrepreneur pictures

Author's Picks

Why We Should Encourage Our Kids to Marry Young 220 comments Two Children are a Heritage From the Lord (After That, You Should Know... 173 comments Population Control Through Tetanus Vaccine 127 comments

Latest posts

The Power of Gathering Around the Table: Beyond Hospitality 0 comment Weddings, Getting Older, Navigating a Large Family & God’s Goodness 33 comments Help My Friends Find Their Child Through Adoption 0 comment The Shocking Truth About Education 2 comments

Copyright ©2023 Generationcedar. All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Duke