Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FIrst of the Three Intolerables

In our marriage courses and in our church, as much as we encourage marriages to stay together and work out differences, there are always cases in which separation and even divorce must happen.  I say must, because if they don't happen, a very evil and destructive spirit will pervade that home and cause far more harm if it isn't stopped.

In some situations I have no problem encouraging a spouse to leave, even when he or she is hesitant.  Most of the time when separation is needed, there is so much guilt and fear involved, that what may seem like an obvious and necessary step can seem so confusing to the spouse that needs to take that action.  If we always take the "neutral" position of letting them choose for themselves, we can end up with a severely battered wife, a husband who ends up resenting God, or children who are taken away by CPS when they could have been protected by their own parents before things got out of hand.

What are these intolerables?

Abuse:  When there is domestic violence, sexual or emotional abuse, when the abuser refuses to be honest and get the help that he or she needs and continues this behavior, the spouse and children must be removed from the home immediately.  What if the other spouse fights back? What if he says he's sorry?  When abuse occurs, it is far more than just a problem of someone's temper getting out of hand.  There is a deeper root that has to be pulled out from inside the heart and emotions of a person who feels a need to inflict harm on those he or she claims to love.

This person is unwell, and needs to find help.  For a spouse to stay in that situation, especially with children involved, he or she is condoning that behavior just by staying put.  Not only condoning, but in essence inviting that behavior to repeat.  This can cause severe emotional damage to the innocent children who have to witness this, and could potentially have them removed from the care of both parents.  When you come into contact with a woman who wants to leave a violent husband, by all means, let her leave!  Pray for her, encourage her to get counseling, but he will NOT change when he gets his way.

One of the worst things that we can do to a spouse that is being abused is to tell them to "just pray." Faith is paramount to seeing God change hardhearted people, but faith (as the mantra goes in our church) has to be intelligent.  That means that we have to take action and do what is sensible, even if our emotions scream out in fear.  Fear has to be pushed to the side and rational faith take over.

Your fears say that if you pack up and leave, he or she will be so angry they'll never change.  Fears say that your children will suffer terribly if you take them away from their mom or dad.  Fear demands that you remain paralyzed and take the easiest, least threatening path to finding a solution, which often translates into doing nothing.  Fear makes you codependent.

But FAITH dictates that we do what is right - that we stand our ground and believe that through our boldness of action that God will see us through, protect our children, and give us victory.  And what if the abusive spouse spirals out of control, doesn't want to change and walks out on the marriage?  The answer to that is, move on. Your presence cannot heal him or her. Only God can heal them and only they can fight for their freedom.   You on the other hand, have an obligation to value yourself enough to fight for your own blessings and freedom.

The second intolerable coming next...

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