Churches Of Christ/Divorce
My wife and I were married 14 years. She had always had serious hangups about sex but I overlooked them because I loved her. At about the 4 year mark in our marriage, she stopped having sex with me all together and I was banished to sleeping in the other room. She and I had sex a total of 13 times in the last 9 years of our marriage, two of those times resulted in pregnancies which leads me to believe that I was being used for that purpose only. I begged her to get help. I begged her for counseling. Not only did she withhold sex but any affection or love at all. She did not want a relationship with me other than to be able to stay home and raise the kids. I spent 9 years begging her to love me, show me love. I did look at porn during those years of celibacy. I had no other outlet. But, in no way was I ever addicted. Not only was she cutting me off, but she would do very mean, passive-aggressive things to me. She refused to wash my clothes or treat me as a husband even though she did not work. She accused me of things that were not true. Things, that had they been true, could have landed me in prison. She admitted she did it out of anger. Mind you, we are Christians and went to church faithfully and she was even working at the church.
Finally after 9 years of constant turmoil, I could not go on. I had come to the point of being so torn with the thought of divorce or the thought of having to live like this for the rest of my life that I told her I wanted a divorce. I had come to the point of either divorce or taking my own life. My heart had become hardened. I moved out and began dating someone else before our divorce was final. As soon as my divorce was final from my first wife, I married the love of my life. She is everything I have ever wanted in a wife. She loves me unconditionally. I am told my marriage to her will never be blessed. I know that can't be true.
Because I am the one that left and started a relationship before I was divorced, my ex blames me for our divorce. She takes absolutely NO fault for our divorce. She contends that I was having an "affair" which is not true. I only started dating my current wife after I left. She is telling my children that I am the one that left. It is all my fault. I am the selfish one.
I believe that she was unfaithful first, when she decided to refuse sex to me all those years. She forced me to live a celibate life that I never agreed to do. I feel it was her fault that we divorced because she violated our marriage vows first. If she had been a wife to me I would never have left.
I feel that my current marriage to my beautiful wife now is completely blessed. I have never felt such peace and love from another human being. I am at peace in my heart.
I know we both sinned in the marriage but I do not feel I am completely at fault because I was not strong enough to stay in a sexless marriage.
My question is:
1.Did my wife violate our marriage vows by withholding sex for 7 years?
2.Couldn't withholding sex from your spouse be considered being unfaithful to your spouse?
3. If it can be considered being unfaithful, can that be a reason to divorce? It says only because of fornication.
Your story is truly a sad and heartbreaking one. I will be brief but hope my response helps you. 1. - your wife did violate your marriage vows by withholding sex from you.
2. - yes, withholding sex IS unfaithfulness.
3. - Yes! That is a very valid reason for divorce.
To elaborate - DO NOT look to the words of Jesus on divorce and remarriage because Jesus was being questioned and tested on the Law of Moses by Pharisees - so everything He said was Old Covenant law. - He spoke to Jews not Christians. The only thing that Jesus said that has always been and will always be - in every covenant - is that God's original intent is for one man and one woman to join in marriage to become ONE FLESH for life. That should always be the goal of Christian men and women when they do get married.
Look to I Corinthians 7 because that is the most complete instruction to Christians on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Paul made it clear that in marriage neither should withhold themselves sexually from the other because you do not belong to yourself but to each other. He said only abstain from sex when mutually agreed upon to focus on prayer - but not to abstain for long because if you go too long you will be tempted to fornicate. That is a fact. (Read verses 1-5) Then in verses 6-9 Paul speaks of how he wishes more men could be like him - living a celibate life - but he knows that gift to live celibate and not fornicate is given to very few - so he said if a man lacks self control it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Most in the church misunderstand MDR and teach it incorrectly. Also, in verses 10 and 11 they point to that to help support their belief that if you divorce for reasons other than adultery you must live celibate - but that is not a true understanding of those verses. Paul begins that passage by saying - "To the married" - he didn't say - "To the divorced". Those two verses are not speaking of divorce - they are speaking of abandonment or separation. If a woman LEAVES her HUSBAND - she must remain unmarried - why? because she is not divorced from him...then Paul says - or be reconciled to her HUSBAND. You cannot reconcile if you are divorced. You can only choose to marry that person again. If Paul had meant if a woman divorces her husband...he would no longer be her husband so he wouldn't have said "or be reconciled to your husband.".
Divorce ALWAYS ends a marriage - even when done for no good reason. Also look at verses 26-28. Paul doesn't seem concerned with how a person becomes "loosed" from a marriage but does say - if you are loosed, don't seek to be bound to a wife - but if you do marry you do not sin. Well if you are loosed from a wife, at one point you were once bound and Paul doesn't limit how you become loosed - it could be you were divorced or it could be you were widowed.
In my final thought, I want to inform you that a great scholar in the Lord's church did an in depth study of the first 400 years after the church was established in 70 AD. His name was Pat Harrell. He wrote a book - Divorce and Remarriage In The Early Church. He found no evidence of anyone in that 400 years being told they were in an "adulterous marriage". No one was told they must divorce and live celibate or return to their first spouse to be right with God. No one was denied baptism due to their marital status. Quite amazing I think. That says to me most people have been teaching error on divorce and remarriage.
I do not want people to divorce for any reason they see fit like the Pharisees taught. I want people to marry once for life. God wants that too. BUT...we are flawed humans. It takes two to make marriage work as God intended. But it only takes ONE to ruin it and make that marriage fail. - You sir stayed in a terrible marriage far longer than most men would or could have stayed. Your efforts to stay married for life are seen in how long you suffered. Do not beat yourself up over your final choice to leave that marriage and get married to someone who truly loves you. You are human and you did your best to make the first marriage what is should be and you wanted it to be for life. Your wife failed you...she made it impossible, and torture for you. There was no love in anything she did.
Please know that God wants you to be in a good marriage and make it for life. You made a bad judgment when you chose to marry the first woman. But you learned from that and found a wonderful woman to share your life with now. Be happy and know that God will bless you if you remain married and faithful to each other and you both continue to live your lives for God. I am praying for you both and wish you both many happy years together.
In Christian Love, Joe Norman