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HOW TO AVOID OR END MARITAL SEPARATION OR DIVORCE

 

 

Copyright June 7, 2006 10:42 AM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

Updated August 17, 2007 3:45 PM CST

Copyright August 17, 2007 3:45 PM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

 

 

Before you read this article, we would like you to note that the Lord has used Dr. Bisconti, directly and indirectly, to save over 1,000 marriages in the last three years through his on-line counselling ministry.

 

NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT WE ADVISE ALL THOSE SEEKING HELP WITH THEIR MARRIAGE TO PRAY, TO CALMLY SPEAK WITH THEIR SPOUSE IF POSSIBLE, AND TO CONSULT WITH THEIR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE COUNSELLOR, PASTOR, CHRISTIAN PSYCHOLOGIST, CHRISTIAN PSYCHIATRIST, ETC.

 

WHILE THE LORD MAY, INDEED, USE THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE TO SOLVE YOUR MARITAL PROBLEM, WE CANNOT GUARANTEE SUCH AN OUTCOME.

 

Technical Note:  Dr. Bisconti will be using the words “separation” and “divorce” interchangeably at times.

 

 

 

How does a person avoid or end marital separation or divorce?  The key to overcoming the separation/divorce problem is for both partners to LEARN how important marriage really is in the sight of God.  The Lord says in Mark 10:9:

 

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

 

Now, note the words “let not man.”  The Lord makes it clear here that marital separation and divorce CANNOT BE PERFORMED BY PEOPLE.  If there is to be a marital separation or divorce, IT MUST BE PERFORMED BY GOD.  Well, how do you know if God is performing a marital separation or divorce?  Many Christians will think of specific reasons stated in the Bible BUT WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW IS THAT THE BIBLE TEACHES A BROAD REASON FOR MARITAL SEPARATION AND DIVORCE.  This BROAD REASON includes but GOES BEYOND the specific reasons stated in certain places in the Bible.  Ezra 10:2-3 states:

 

And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

 

These verses teach the broad principle of “Spiritual Separation”; that is, separation based on “a demand for CONTINUING sin.”  In other words, this principle states that husbands and wives are to separate or divorce when one or both believing partners would have to CONTINUE in sin in order to maintain their union.  Now, in case you disagree with what we have stated here, it really does NOT matter.  The reason your disagreement does NOT matter is that ONLY GOD CAN BRING ABOUT A SEPARATION.  Of course, many are deluded into thinking that God has directed them to separate or divorce.  This leads to the following question:

 

How do you know that God wants you to separate or divorce?

 

Well, how do you know that God wants you to do anything?  The answer is:

 

He told you to do it.

 

But, of course, we can be mistaken in a belief that God has told us to do a given thing.  This leads us to the question:

 

How can you be SURE that God has told you to do a given thing?

 

More to the point:

 

How can you be SURE that God has told you to separate or divorce?

 

Hebrews 6:16-17 states:

 

For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

 

Note that, when the Lord deals with a REALLY SERIOUS matter (IN THESE VERSES HE IS TALKING ABOUT OUR ETERNAL SALVATION), he CONFIRMS IT WITH AN OATH.  What is an oath of confirmation?  An oath of confirmation is something that FOLLOWS SOMETHING ELSE.  This means that you MUST HAVE TWO THINGS in order to be sure that God has told you to separate or divorce or anything else.  Here is another Scripture that talks about HAVING TWO THINGS:

 

At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

 

Now some will argue that this is LIMITED TO PUTTING SOMEONE TO DEATH but note Deuteronomy 19:15:

 

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

 

This verse says “any sin.”  Now, some, unwilling to admit the truth will insist that THIS IS ONLY TALKING ABOUT SIN and WE ARE TALKING ABOUT SEPARATION AND DIVORCE PERMITTED BY GOD SO THAT THIS VERSE DOES NOT APPLY.  However, in II Corinthians 13:1, the Apostle Paul states:

 

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

 

In this verse, he is talking about UNSPECIFIED ASSERTIONS, ASSERTIONS THAT HE WAS ABOUT TO MAKE.  In other words, Paul was stating that, WHATEVER SUBJECT HE WAS ABOUT TO SPEAK ON, IT WAS TO HAVE TWO OR THREE WITNESSES.

 

I think we have established the need for TWO WITNESSES, though there are more verses we can quote:

 

If you have ONLY ONE WITNESS, you DO NOT KNOW THAT YOU HAVE GOD’S APPROVAL TO SEPARATE.

 

This need for multiple witnesses has saved many from grave consequences.  For example, there are men who say “God has given me confidence (some will call it “peace” or “assurance” or “faith” or something else) that I have made the right decision in deciding to divorce my wife.”  Well, this MIGHT BE one witness, depending on certain factors.  Let us say it is.  Well, the Lord DEMANDS a second witness.  Now, if you are stubborn on this matter, consider what God says about confidence (peace, assurance, faith, etc., etc.) in Jeremiah 2:37:

 

Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

 

This verse and other verses establish that a person can have MISLEADING confidence (peace, assurance, faith, etc., etc.).  This confidence is of the Devil.  This confidence ascends from the pits of hell.  If you are still unconvinced, then, here is a verse that REMOVES ALL DOUBT.  Proverbs 28:26 states:

 

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

 

The Lord makes it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that we are NOT to TRUST IN OUR OWN HEARTS AND OUR OWN HEARTS ALONE.  That is, we are NOT to:

 

TRUST OUR FEELINGS AND OUR FEELINGS ALONE.

 

A SECOND WITNESS IS NEEDED!

 

Well, what is this second witness?  The answer is found in I Corinthians 10:13:

 

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 

Note the words “that ye may be able to bear it.”  The Lord is telling us that:

 

HE WILL NEVER REQUIRE US TO DO ANYTHING THAT WILL FORCE US TO SIN.

 

Now, some of you might be asking “How can a person be forced to sin?”  This shows you do not understand the word “sin.”  Sin is NOT “doing wrong.”  Sin is “falling short.”  You might ask “What’s the difference?”  The answer is that a person can fall short WITHOUT doing wrong.  For example, a person is brought up to believe that cursing is not a sin but, then, they get saved and the Lord opens their eyes.  Before their eyes were opened, they had NO CONSCIENCE about their cursing.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit did not convict (“convince”) them regarding their cursing.  They had NO LAW stopping them from cursing.  The Bible says “…sin is not imputed when there is no law.”  The word “impute” means “assigned to a person.”  In other words, the Bible teaches that SIN IS NOT ASSIGNED TO A PERSON WHEN THEY HAVE NO LAW TELLING THEM THAT AN ACT IS WRONG.

 

So, a person might not have sin ASSIGNED to them.  That is, the Lord might not declare that they have DONE WRONG.  However, THEY STILL HAVE NOT LIVED UP TO GOD’S STANDARD.  They are without guilt, because they have not done wrong, but they are NOT without sin, because they have NOT lived up to God’s standard.

 

Where does this leave us?  YES, NOTHING CAN EVER FORCE YOU TO DO WRONG BUT THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN BE USED (BY SATAN BUT, IF THERE WERE NO SATAN, BY SOMETHING [BUT THERE IS A SATAN]) TO FORCE YOU TO SIN, THAT IS, TO INVOLUNTARILY, AGAINST YOUR WILL, (FORCE YOU TO) FALL SHORT OF THE LORD’S STANDARD OF RIGHT AND WRONG.  In regard to separation from your spouse, the SECOND WITNESS is:

 

THE ACT (OF SATAN) OF USING YOUR SPOUSE TO FORCE YOU TO SIN.

 

Now, be careful.  Note the following.  Such experiences are ALWAYS momentary BUT YOU CAN MAKE THEM DRAG ON.  You make them drag on in one of two ways:

 

1.      You simply don’t care about the Lord’s will.

 

2.      You do not flee the cause of the sin.  For example, II Timothy 2:22 says:

 

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

Note the word “flee.”  It is NOT enough to DO what is right.  You must also SEPARATE from a cause of sin.

 

So, in plain English, what does this all mean?  The SECOND WITNESS is:

 

The fact that living with your spouse CONSISTENTLY AND PERSISTENTLY (not occasionally, for after all, NONE OF US IS PERFECT and NO HUMAN RELATIONSHIP IS PERFECT)…CONSISTENTLY AND PERSISTENTLY FORCES YOU TO SIN.  IF YOU ARE NOT CONSISTENTLY AND PERSISTENTLY FORCED TO SIN, YOU ARE NOT JUSTIFIED IN LEAVING YOUR SPOUSE.

 

Now, what if you are CONSISTENTLY AND PERSISTENTLY FORCED TO SIN?  Does this mean that you MUST leave your spouse?  Not necessarily.  The Bible gives us a STANDARD FOR DEALING WITH CONSISTENT, PERSISTENT EVILS.   Titus 3:10 says:

 

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

 

When dealing with consistent, persistent evil you must:

 

Warn the evil party.  If they repent, you do not have to leave them.  If they do not repent, you must warn them a second time.  If they repent, you do not have to leave them.  If they do not repent, you must leave them.

 

But wait.  There is one more thing.  YOU HAVE THE CHOICE OF “GOING THE EXTRA MILE.”  If you do, God will give you and your spouse a special blessing.  What is this extra mile?  Proverbs 17:9 says:

 

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

 

The Lord says here that YOU HAVE A CHOICE.  You can COVER A TRANSGRESSION; that is you can ACT AS IF THE OTHER PERSON DID NOT COMMIT A SIN.  What sin?  Any sin.  You ask “Any sin?”  Yes, any sin.  Proverbs 10:12 says:

 

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

 

Notice that the love in Proverbs 17:9 COVERS ALL SINS in Proverbs 10:12.

 

Well, finally, in spite of everything we have said there will be some of you who cry out “I can’t take it anymore!”  Well, for you we recommend the following:

 

  1. First, of course, pray every day until your situation is resolved one way or the other.

 

  1. Second, if you can carry on a calm conversation with your spouse, talk with them as much as possible about the situation between you and them.

 

  1. Take a week’s vacation from your spouse.  If you can’t physically leave the house, then agree with your spouse to avoid each other as much as possible during the coming week.  If your spouse won’t agree to a “time of avoidance,” this is a sign that the Lord may want you to leave them.  However, don’t jump to conclusions because THIS IS NOT A SIGN THAT THE LORD DOES WANT YOU TO LEAVE THEM.

 

  1. If, after a week, you still feel that you can’t take it anymore, seek counselling.  This can be a Christian marriage counsellor, a pastor, a Christian psychologist, a Christian psychiatrist, etc.

 

  1. You should meet a minimum of three times with the counsellor of your choice.

 

  1. If, after seeing a counsellor at least three times, you still feel that you can’t take it anymore, your situation calls for more dramatic measures:

 

Move out TEMPORARILY.

 

We recommend a minimum of one month.

 

  1. If you move out for a month, you should see your counsellor at least a dozen times.

 

  1. If, after a month of separation and at least a dozen sessions with your counsellor, you still can’t take it anymore, YOU NEED A SECOND WITNESS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR COUNSELLOR.  GET A NEW COUNSELLOR.  Not all counsellors (Christian marriage counsellors, pastors, Christian psychologists, Christian psychiatrists, etc.) have equal wisdom.  If your counsellor is secretly living a sinful life, they may be more of a curse than a blessing.

 

  1. IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, HOW MUCH OF AN EFFORT YOU MAKE TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE IS FUNDAMENTALLY UP TO YOU.  GOD DOES NOT FORCE HIS WILL UPON US.  WE RECOMMEND THAT, APART FROM THE SACRIFICE OF LIFE AND LIMB, YOU MAKE EVERY CONCEIVABLE EFFORT TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE.