July 1, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Grace Widows: Binding the Broken (Part 4)

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“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate…” (Isaiah 62:4-5)

This will complete the series, Grace Widows. If you have not yet read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 of this series, I encourage you to begin there.

Whether or not divorce will ever touch your life personally, it is crucial that Christians study and understand what the Scriptures say and mean, so that we can properly minister to the brokenhearted.

If you know someone who is experiencing the trauma of adultery or abandonment, remember they are not only suffering loss, they are suffering rejection. Let them know they are loved by God, by you, and by others in the Body of Christ. Give them time to grieve—and expect it. Assure them that this happened because of sin, not because somehow she wasn’t “good enough.” Hold her hand let her cry.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it… (1 Corinthians 12:26)

If you look through the comment section on Part 1-3 of this series, you will see a number of testimonies describing tragic stories of what happens to Grace Widows and their children when churches misinterpret the Scriptures. Here are just a few:

My first experience with this type of situation was with my mama. I was 7 when my dad left for someone else. He was the youth pastor at the church we went too. Even after he left…remarried for 7 or 8 years, my mom was not allowed to sing in the choir or be involved in many things due to the divorce. She did nothing wrong. – Jennifer

The pain is great when you go through divorce after adultery and abandonment. I had a pastor tell me that I was never to remarry if I wanted to remain in God’s Way… I did my best to move forward as the only parent my boys would ever have (since my ex was considered dangerous to the boys by the judge)… – Mary Jo

I have two dear friends (two distinct couples) that were already married after having been divorced and were told by people in the church that they should divorce again because they were living “in sin”. One of the couples had been married already for at least 18 years and had several young children through that union! – Mrs. T.

We found out that they saw us as living in adultery… It is heart wrenching and there are many stories of people in the same situation who have left spouse; and children now live in homes without fathers or mothers because they have separated according to the church’s doctrine. – Kimberly

I’ve been told that I am committing adultery by having remarried. This was told to me in front of one of my children! The reasoning was, even if I Biblically could divorce, I shouldn’t ever remarry or I was committing adultery and so was the man I married. – Catherine

It never ceases to amaze me that divorce is still considered “unforgivable.” My father was married before (in high school), and his ex-wife left him on the side of the road and divorced him several years later. He really had no say in the matter. A year or so later, he met my mom and the rest is history. They have been married for 40 years! I know that God has truly blessed them (and my sister and I). However, I’ll never forget as a teenager when a young woman in our congregation told me that my sister and I were both bastards because my dad had been married before. – Tamara

I am currently separated from my husband (6 yrs now) and I was told that this is the way things would have to remain. I was told if I divorced him I’d be in sin. He walked out on us and later began various relationships. So I have stayed in a marriage that is no longer a marriage. Thank you for shedding light on this subject. Thank you for not condemning us single mothers that hope one day to have a marriage and family. Thank you. – Tasha

It was three of the most violent and depressing years of my life. He was manipulative, abusive, selfish, and he cheated on me–to the point I didn’t know if he was cheating on me with a man or woman… Even though I hadn’t divorced, hadn’t even mentioned it to anyone, they knew the problems in my marriage (the abuse) and I was already tainted. The people I had known most of my life became virtual strangers and I a pariah. – Tam

We often become the “pariahs” of the church, and just when we and our children are the most desperately in need of help we are judged and excluded. When my husband left our home, I was removed from my positions of leadership in the church we attended, never received a single phone call or visit and even had church members turn away from me and my children in the store. The pain is indescribable- and we go through it all alone. I know of many single mothers who have said that having their husband die would have been easier *by far* than having them leave…. and although I would never wish my husband dead, I can absolutely understand the sentiment. – Diane

In addition to the grief experienced by almost any widow (fear of the future, sorrow for the children’s suffering, loss of income, loneliness, being forced into a “new normal”), the grace widow has the additional pain of rejection, insecurity, haunting images from her imagination, and anger. Loss is loss—it all hurts. However, there is something soul wrecking about being rejected in such an intimate way by the one you trusted most in this life.

To add to a widow’s affliction with words of hopelessness and judgment is unthinkable. It is cruel and negligent to sentence the forsaken to a man-made prison of loneliness for the sake of a false doctrine.

The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. (Ezekiel 34:4)

At times, the rejected spouse is made to feel like she must be “strong;” however, it is important to remember that there is a grieving process that needs to be respected. She is dealing with many emotions, hurts, and fears; she needs time to absorb and come to terms with all that’s happening. Give her grace as she sorts through her emotions. Pray for her, comfort her, and let her know you are there.

What You Can do to Help

The loneliness is overwhelming. Help her to get through her trial with frequent visits, emails, letters, and offers of help and encouragement. If she has children, see if she needs a few hours alone at times. Sometimes just having time to cry and pray alone, without worrying about the children, is important. Bring meals. Send cards of encouragement. Remember her in her grief as you would any other widow.

Remember that birthdays, Christmas, and her anniversary will be painful times. Try to put yourself in her shoes and imagine what might minister to you (Galatians 5:14).

Find out if she is okay financially. Get involved. She may not ask for help. She may assume she will be forced to abandon her children to the daycare, so that she can get a job and support her new “single-parent” household. Make sure you do all you can to see that her church doesn’t let this happen.

Help her to hold her husband accountable to pay child support. Assist her in finding ways to make extra income from home. Remember that she may need child care assistance in her home if she will be busy with a home business. Treat her the way you would treat any other widow, keeping in mind that Grace Widows don’t have life insurance.

The more we help these women and their children through this difficult time of suffering and hardship, the more fully we are carrying out God’s directive to “visit orphans and widows in their trouble” (James 1:27).

As more and more people are affected by the problem of adultery and divorce, we, the church, must be ready with loving support and sound, biblical answers.

In addition, the church must begin to consistently and effectively defend and teach about the precious beauty and sanctity of marriage, and the oneness that should be at its heart. We must counter the insidious attacks that are levied against the biblical family by strengthening the marriages in our midst.

But we must also rightly divide the Word of God in regards to the real issue of divorce and how to direct and heal the shattered lives that are left in its wake. Lives are at stake, marriages are at stake, children—future generations are at stake.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity…  (Psalm 68:5–6)

CLICK HERE to read my own testimony, Beauty for Ashes

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27 Responses to “Grace Widows: Binding the Broken (Part 4)”

  1. What a great ending to the series. HOW to help! Thank you. I have a friend, Erica who needs prayer. She was abandoned and devastated as her husband left for someone else. These events were unfolding as she was going through chemotherapy and fighting for her life. Her divorce is now final as of last week. She has two small children, 1 and 4 to raise on her own. She is in remission but, some recent tests have shown that her lymph system #’s are off. Praying her cancer is still in remission. Pray for healing for her heart and for her body.

    There is so much we can do around us to minster to others. This area of abandonment and divorce is HUGE. Let us encourage and share with others the biblical view of this topic.

  2. Thank you so much for this series, Stacy. It is sorely needed, and I hope that it is read by many.

    Can I add that divorced women and their sisters, abused women, may be hurt when other Christians imply that if they had been given the same providences, those situations could have ended happily ever after? It is very hard work to walk through a painful providence while hearing other Christians express the view that with their wisdom and strength all could be well.

    I think that we Christians don’t consistently apply what the Bible teaches about wickedness to these situations. Evil only has one solution, and that is salvation by faith in Christ, which comes only by grace and not by improving a man’s home environment to the ultimate condition that human wisdom and effort could obtain. A wife has a duty to respond to her husband’s evil in a godly and righteous manner, to be sure, but we’ve somehow gotten the idea that if the wife can surround her husband with the perfect mix of humility and strength, he will turn into one of the good guys, and all will be well.

    This is not Gospel thinking, or the message of I Peter 3:1. I Peter 3:1 reveals the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit’s call and His power to use _any_ means to bring salvation to the Elect; it is not a promise that if a wife does a good enough job her husband will repent and be saved. (To an abused or abandoned woman, this kind of talk can sound not that much different from her husband’s insistence that if she would just continually change and upgrade her appearance, personality, and behavior to suit him, then he could love her and treat her kindly.)

    We underestimate the depravity of an abuser. He doesn’t need someone strong enough to stand up to him–this sometimes helps; it sometimes makes things worse–he needs Christ.

    A pastor once said to me, “Well, you just need to stand up to him. My wife would never let me get away with that kind of abuse. If you stood up to him, he would back down and behave.” (I have also heard of pastors and counselors prescribing more absolute subjection as the cure.)

    I can see why this pastor thought that confrontation, really good and wise confrontation, was the answer, because it so often works, but it works only to the extent that we supernaturally repent and are changed by the Holy Spirit. While some kind of confrontation is necessary (Matthew 18:15-17), repentance is not its automatic outcome. There is a great difference there is between a Christian who is learning to love righteousness and an unbeliever who has given himself over to hatred and emotional or physical violence.

    If a regenerate man’s wife points out a behavior that is offensive to Christ and offensive to his wife and children, the Holy Spirit _will_ convict him of sin and bring him to repentance. Maybe after a time, and maybe even after involving others in the process, but if a man or woman is loved by God, true repentance and genuine faith will be the end of the process. Not so with the hardened heart of an unbeliever; he will not repent until he has given a heart that _can_ repent.

    While our holy responses can sometimes make difficult situations more tolerable, or can testify to the Gospel through which God brings salvation, right responses can as easily make things less safe and comfortable for a woman and her children. I think that in this area we must not judge by appearances, but judge a righteous judgment. See Matthew 5:11, 12 and consider how many Christians have been abused, jailed, and martyred, not always and not even typically because they failed to manage their abusers sufficiently well.

    Onlookers will often suggest obvious solutions–most frequently either “Stand up for yourself” or “Subject yourself”–not realizing that these options are just as obvious to a wife who has sometimes spent years contemplating her situation, praying for wisdom, and seeking counsel from her pastors, elders, and closest friends. The very same things that occur to observers have usually occurred to her, and have been tried in the hope that some behavior of hers will at last elicit consistent kindness from her husband.

    She is a sinner, so we know she hasn’t responded perfectly, but we must understand that God is not waiting for her perfect performance to secure her husband’s repentance. God uses means, but according to the Gospel, God is never waiting on our perfect performance to bring grace and salvation to someone else. He does whatever He pleases, and He is good in whatever that is, whether it’s the God-glorifying and humanly desired end of a husband’s salvation or the God-glorifying end of giving him up to destruction for his unwillingness to submit to Christ.

    If we would comfort grace widows, or any of their sisters who live in harm’s way with evil men, we must approach them with humility and the grace of the Gospel. We must understand that when a man changes, that is the work of God. While it can be helpful to discuss options for responding wisely to evil, it’s critical that we understand that when things are falling apart, or have fallen apart, it is not necessarily an indication that the victims simply haven’t contributed enough to earn “happily ever after.”

  3. kelly says:

    Thank you Stacy for your testimony and this series. My marriage has been troubled due to an unequal yoke. I got saved and he has not yet come to that place. He abandoned me for the world and to live “his” life and accomplish “his” goals 8 weeks ago. I was not prepared for how devastating this would be for me. I have been grieving and trying to move forward, it is SO painful.

  4. Stacy McDonald says:

    Dear Anonymous – Thank you so much for sharing. I was wondering if you would mind if I turned your comment into a post. You share some very important points.

    “A wife has a duty to respond to her husband’s evil in a godly and righteous manner, to be sure, but we’ve somehow gotten the idea that if the wife can surround her husband with the perfect mix of humility and strength, he will turn into one of the good guys, and all will be well.”

    This is important. And perhaps this is why so many people seem to behave as though a Grace Widow is automatically “less” worthy of our sympathy and concern than a widow who was made so through death. Like you said, because she is a sinner, there will certainly handle things poorly at times. However, she can’t be held responsible for his sin. (And this goes both ways, as men are sometimes the ones called to be longsuffering with a rebellious or adulterous wife.)

    “While our holy responses can sometimes make difficult situations more tolerable, or can testify to the Gospel through which God brings salvation, right responses can as easily make things less safe and comfortable for a woman and her children. I think that in this area we must not judge by appearances, but judge a righteous judgment. See Matthew 5:11, 12 and consider how many Christians have been abused, jailed, and martyred, not always and not even typically because they failed to manage their abusers sufficiently well.”

    I’ve seen this first hand. Sometimes kindness, calm words, or humility have the opposite effect one might expect – a guilty conscience often evokes anger, and sometimes violence.

    “While it can be helpful to discuss options for responding wisely to evil, it’s critical that we understand that when things are falling apart, or have fallen apart, it is not necessarily an indication that the victims simply haven’t contributed enough to earn ‘happily ever after.’”

    Excellent! Excellent! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Stacy McDonald says:

    Jennifer – that is heart breaking. I tried to read to my husband what you wrote, but couldn’t get the words out. I pray God works mightily in her life and shows His love to her in an amazing way.

  6. Pamela says:

    God has certainly used you to write this series. It makes my heart break to think of these women and the load they carry. I loved that you gave us ways to help. I’ll be copying the list out to share with others.

    May your week be filled with joy.


  7. Jann Cobb says:

    Thanks for sharing about this. I experienced divorce when my parents split up. It has been a very long and painful experience. My husband and I vowed that the “D” word (divorce) would not be a part of our marriage. Praise God 28 years and still loving and serving Jesus.

  8. Mary says:

    I have always understood the Bible to say that there are scriptural grounds for divorce (adultery; desertion), and that then the innocent person is free to remarry. Asking somebody to divorce the second spouse with whom they have children and go back to the first, or be single, is unfair to the children; two wrongs don’t make a right, plus it is ridiculous.

    As for pastors/elders being divorced and remarried, I never thought of “husband of one wife” meaning “one wife at a time,” that is, not a bigamist or polygamist. Hmmm. My question is, where do you make the cut-off? I have a friend who has been married four times. He is a Christian. He claims the divorces were not his fault. But, he feels he should not be a pastor because of the four marriages. I guess everybody in a divorced/remarried position must pray to see what the Lord would have him do concerning being a pastor or elder.

  9. Stacy McDonald says:

    There is something to be said for a track record. Four divorces and each time he just happened to marry an adulteress? If what he says is true, then I would not recommend someone with so little discernment for the pastorate.

  10. Mary says:

    Yes, I would agree with you there, Stacy. There is a well-known Christian author and bible teacher who has a tv show and he has been married four times. I still like to watch his show. Sometimes I wonder if I should, seeing his track record. I never know what to do in situations like this. I don’t know the circumstances of these divorces. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, you know?

  11. Kelly says:

    I posted a little while back. I am at the 2 month mark since my husband abandoned me so treacherously. I have had to pay people what little money he left me to do things for me. My close friends didn’t offer to mow the lawn or any simple gestures. I have fibromyalgia. I found this thoughtlessness ADDED to my pain. I have had people tell me I am better off without him. I’m not sure you get over 22 years of marriage in 2 months??? We did not have children due to my medical infertility. If I could say anything, I would say, YES PLEASE help us with the tiniest things, it means so much. I cannot believe how COLD the love of the Body has grown. I have been a faithful stay at home wife since 1995 and did things for the Body of Christ in all sorts of sufferings. I want to make sure I am not coming across as bitter…I am not. They know not what they do. Many of them haven’t suffered much at all. It’s just another wound added to so many that already exist. Thank you for listening.

  12. Mary says:

    I noticed there was a new comment, Stacy. I feel bad for Kelly. You know, Stacy, today, it is important for people with needs to let them be known, as Kelly did here. We don’t live in community much any more in America. People are so bogged down with their own needs and their own business that they don’t even notice the needs of others. You have to say something; ask for help. I know this is really hard.

    We live in a town of only 227, no other towns nearby for over 20 miles in any direction. Most people here are related and/or have lived together all of their lives.

    There used to be places to congregate, where information was passed around, and peoples’ needs would be known and taken care of.

    Once our town lost its public school due to lack of students (think Demographic Winter), and our grocery store after that (it was a domino effect), we lost the heart of our community. Parents and grandparents and neighbors would meet there to pick up their children, or to attend a basketball game in the evening, and everybody would catch up on what was going on in each others’ lives: my father had a heart attack; Susie’s baby came; Joan’s kids are down with strep throat, etc. Peoples’ needs would be known and neighbors showed up to help, unasked.

    Now, though, that we have no place to congregate except a senior nutrition center (which is not available for everybody in town), a convenience store and a cafe (all of which are simply places to eat and spend money), you have no idea what is going on with your neighbor.

    Our next door neighbor was just in the hospital for open heart surgery. We wondered why his grass was so high, but nobody told us about his surgery, or we would have mowed his lawn for him. His daughter ended up doing it. THANK GOD, after he was out of the hospital, and he was trying to get his generator started to get his sump pump going when our power went out, his wife called us and asked my husband to come over and do it, since she could not find her son-in-law. My husband and son were eager to help.

    So, this is the thing. These days, you have to make your needs known, as hard as that is, or people don’t even notice, for one reason or another. Sorry for the book.

  13. Amelia says:

    I just want to say I’m praying for Kelly, I understand some. My parents were divorced when I was a young adult, an only child and it was a town scandal…Very few offered to help or be a friend, they only talked about it all. Humiliating.

    I understand how the church can be as well, even today.

    I pray God will give Kelly Beauty for Ashes. He is able and I pray He will use Kelly to help other women in the future get through these things. God be with you Kelly. May He put His loving arms around you Kelly!

  14. Brenda says:

    I thought this was a very good article Stacy, but I have question. You’ve shown us how to treat/care for the victim but what do we do about the victimizer?

    I’m in a unique situation where my sister has committed adultery (at least twice that I know of) and left her devoted husband of 20+ years (over a year ago now). She had always lived as a devoted christian so this has been very hard to understand.

    Do I follow I Corinthians 5:11 and other scriptures that tell us not to have anything to do with believers who live this way? My sister says my stance is unloving and hypocritical- is she right? I don’t FEEL hypocritical or unloving…in fact I thought I was being tremendously loving by telling her the hard things that no one else would that the Bible says on adultery and divorce- it wasn’t easy but I did it because I honestly fear for her soul.

    She shows no remorse or guilt for continuing in adultery. I pray for her eyes to be opened to her sin, but should I continue to allow my family (my kids specifically) to be a part of her life? I feel like if she weren’t a professing christian, I wouldn’t be as confused, but the fact that she claims to be one definitely complicates things. My parents and other siblings have accepted the situation and I am the one who is missing at the family gatherings. I’m constantly second guessing myself on it…

  15. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Brenda,

    What is her church doing? If your sister is a professing Christian and is unrepentant in her sin, she should be brought up on charges and excommunicated from the church. Your family, by fellowshipping with her, is condoning her sin, and making it easier for her to remain in it.

    I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. 1 Corinthians 5:9–11

  16. Brenda says:

    Thanks for your reply Stacy. She has been out of church for several years, just kind of jumping around from place to place, maybe attending a bible study here and there, so she has no other spiritual accountability.

    I actually told my parents exactly what you said (accepting this is like condoning it and makes it easier for her to continue). But my sister was quite prepared to let all of us go out her life if we crossed her and my parents couldn’t stand the thought of that, so here we are.

    You are the first person to tackle this question and I thank you for that. No one seems to want to touch it and I’ve asked A LOT of people if I’m doing the right thing. The “tolerance” movement has really affected Christianity to the point that no one seems certain of what to do or say any more…

    I have scoured the scriptures and the ones that speak of this type of thing seem to be pretty black and white, but I always question if I’m interpreting everything correctly. We are unfortunate to live in an area where we cannot seem to find anyone who really study the scriptures. Not too many church choices either…so it’s been hard to get any advice.

    Anyway, thanks for responding- you’ve told me what I already knew. I had a dream that my sister and I were restored again and I’ve been missing her ever since that dream. I’ll keep praying for her…

  17. kelly says:

    Ladies, thank you SO MUCH for your prayers. Your sweet comments and understanding lift my heart. I am starting through the court system doing a legal separation because my husband will not financially support me of his free will and must be made to. I did not file for divorce because I must keep health insurance benefits. It may go to divorce through him should he decide to pursue that route. I wanted to leave room for repentance but I must tell you I am not hopeful. I am now at month 3 and I am growing in my relationship with Christ in a way I could never have known. Do I dare say, I can rejoice in this trial of treachery? I think I can. I am deeply wounded but I remember my Savior was wounded for my transgressions and I celebrate my life in Him. Prayer is the most powerful thing any of you can give me. I never wanted to learn the legal system. I really want to express something important here….being a stay at home wife has NOT been a disadvantage -many have said, “now you have to go to work”. No- I don’t . I was married 21 years. He has to support me for LIFE. God takes care of his women who follow His mandates. God will be glorified, I am certain of it. I love you all my like minded sisters. I wrote some articles for LAF in 2005 under Mrs. Kelly S. and will write on this topic as I come through it. Hello to Mrs. Jennie Chancey, I think of you often. Love Kelly

  18. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this series!!!!!!! It’s as if you wrote it just for me. My husband of 15 years left me for another woman three years ago, we have been divorced for a year and a half, and he’s been married to her for a year. I have struggled immensely with the idea that I am bound to live out the rest of my days in loneliness just because I was rejected by my husband. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually remarry, but these articles have brought me a new sense of peace, freedom, and hope that at least it’s a possibility – along with the Biblical reasoning to back it up. Thank you!

  19. Cindy says:

    My heart breaks for Anonymous and Kelly. It’s been 11 months since my emotionally abusive husband had an affair and left. I rejoiced in the freedom from daily fear. It’s a long haul!! Not something to get over quickly. Many people have stood by me and helped, others, act like I should be over everything already! In The state I live in I can’t even file until a year after he left….puts so much in limbo and it’s hard to heal and get your bearings straight. Pray for my boys. Two of them are really seeking God, but one is really leaning toward believing his father’s lies… I don’t know, maybe he is just at the wrong age where he’s trying to figure out who he is, praying he might listen to the voice of his Savior.

  20. Kelly says:

    Thank you Stephanie for sharing your struggles. I will being going to court Aug 29th. I would appreciate prayers because one of the things I have had since this began for me May 15th is I throw up a lot. I am afraid I will throw up in court. Sounds crazy, but all of us who have been abandoned have been brutally traumatized. My attorney is a Christian and very compassionate and oh how I want this over with. I am abiding in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty over my affairs. NOTHING happens that has not been filtered through HIS love for me though I often cannot understand at the time. I am very concerned that our men are falling all over the place. My next door neighbor’s husband walked out 3 weeks ago and she has 2 little girls, stay at home mom. We have been trying to help each other. Our churches and homes must train men in godly noble manhood, our very futures depend on it. If Satan can take the men out, it’s easier to take the wife and godly seed next. Love Kelly

  21. Teresa says:

    I greatly appreciate Stacy’s scholarship, understanding, and compassion on this topic. The Lord used Stacy’s series of articles on “Grace Widows” to restore a level of dignity to me that I had not felt since my marriage ended in 2002, when my husband began a relationship with another woman. There is still a stigma associated with divorce, especially in conservative Christian circles. The marital status “Divorced” is very ambiguous because it gives no indication of the circumstances that led to the end of the marriage. I appreciate the more descriptive term “Grace Widows”. At least for those women who were not covenant breakers, this term gives a degree of dignity in the midst of devastation.

    Soon after my divorce, I fell prey to the erroneous teaching that a divorced woman may never remarry. I wanted to join a major homeschool organization for the remainder of my daughter’s homeschool high school education. In order to join, I had to read a 251-page book on divorce, which clearly taught that remarriage after divorce was against God’s will in any and all circumstances. And I had to sign a document stating that while I was a member of this organization, I would not remarry, and that if I did remarry, I could no longer remain in the organization. I signed this statement in ignorance because I had never received the clear teaching of God’s word on this topic.

    I am very thankful for the great Biblical scholars (like John Calvin and Richard Baxter) who were courageous enough to tackle this topic. And I’m very thankful that Stacy McDonald has thoroughly researched Scripture and also the writings of other Biblical scholars and is courageous enough to proclaim the truth so that women like me are not bound by erroneous teachings.

    For those who are interested, I will summarize the writings of Richard Baxter on this topic. Richard Baxter was a Protestant Christian leader from the 1600s. These comments are taken from Baxter’s book “A Christian Directory, Volume 1”. Some of the actual quotes are too long to include here in this comment, but the interested reader can look them up.

    On page 444, Question VII, Baxter answers the question: “Doth adultery dissolve the bond of marriage, or not?” His answer is yes, adultery dissolves the bond of marriage, and the injured person (i.e., the one who did not break the covenant) is then free to either divorce the covenant-breaking spouse or free to remain in the marriage.

    On pages 444-445, Question IX, Baxter addresses the question: “Is it only the privilege of the man, that he may put away an adulterous wife? or also of the woman, to depart from an adulterous husband?” His answer is that if the husband has violated the marriage covenant to the wrong of the wife, she has the freedom to divorce the husband.

    On page 447, Question XX, Baxter addresses the question: “Who be they that may or may not marry again when they are parted?” He answers, “They that are released by divorce upon the others’ adultery, sodomy, &c. may marry again.” He also addresses other cases of divorce in his answer.

    We must be very careful not to add to Scripture anything that is not required by God. And we must be careful not to bind people to false doctrines when Jesus Christ Himself proclaims freedom.

  22. anonymous says:

    My question is: what about pornography? My husband spent the first five years of our marriage totally mired in it. He had a full blown addiction that was actually spiraling out of control, until he acted out and visited a strip club.
    All those years I did what all the other ladies said, I tried to subject myself, I tried to confront, I tried to be the perfect wife. I read book after book, some that said if only I was the perfect wife and did my part, God would step in and fix my husband.
    I wanted to divorce, but felt like I had no real ground because the adultery wasn’t physical. But it felt the same to me. It hurt so much. And it went on for so long.
    Long story short, he overcame the addiction, but without any real spiritual growth. Basically I think he is white knuckling and has been for two years. Which is pretty amazing, but doesn’t mean real repentance.
    He never really apologized, he still doesn’t understand the absolute havoc he wreaked on our family and on me.
    And even though I’m trying my best to come around, I find I still don’t trust him, and I don’t respect him. I can’t bear to have him touch me. And I know at this point he is wanting reconciliation, but I just can’t.

  23. Kelly says:

    I wanted to stop by and leave a comment on my situation. I have posted
    a few times since my husband abandoned me May 15, 2011 and committed adultery. He was also an unbeliever. It’s been 10 months. My life verse since this began was Psalm 27:13-14. I am now divorced. I have worked through my grief and angst and surrendered my pain to God. In HIS MOST GRACIOUS PROVIDENCE…God has brought into my life, a GODLY Christian man who is widowed and has a 12 year old daughter. I met him at church. We are embarking on courtship which we believe to be biblical at ANY AGE. I am most certain it will result in marriage at God’s appointed time and we are committed to total purity until that time. I was unable to have children, so this is a most amazing gift and proof that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think. He has given me “beauty for ashes”. Blessings my fellow sisters in Christ…..Kelly

  24. A New Grace Widow says:

    Just in tears reading over this whole series! Why? Well, I remember reading through it all last year as you were writing them, Stacy. I remember reading through women’s comments, stating their personal and horrifying experiences. I remember praying for each one…and thanking God that I would not ever have to know what it was like to be in those shoes.

    Me and my husband have been together since we were kids, dated straight through high school with no breakups, through college and then married. We now have five children together, the youngest one is a baby and still nursing. The oldest is 11.

    Less than 2 months ago, my husband and their father walked out the door and has not looked back. He has said that he is suffocating and can no longer live under the same roof as me. He has said that he needed to be his own man for once in his life, putting his foot down, and figure out what he thinks is right and wrong. He said that he never got along with my conservative friends anyway. He’s accurately noted some of the Christian families we’ve seen who live their lives out of fear of everything, and act like they are miserable. He thought that that was where we were headed and he did not want to go there.

    This was not supposed to happen in our family. We have already survived an emotional affair (on his part, from a few years previous to this); bankruptcy; complete financial loss; near foreclosure; vehicle repossession; career loss; the deaths of our grandparents, who we were both close to, and the list actually goes on and on. Not only that, but we have seen this happen to so, so many people around us, and we both always vowed in our hearts to keep our family together and to keep our love burning alive for ever. We taught our children Scriptures on God’s plan for the setup of marriage and family. We studied. We used examples of those we’ve known that it happened to and stated where they went wrong at.

    And now, I find myself in this same living nightmare.

    Fewer things in life have shocked me more than seeing my husband, who’s always been very family oriented and friendly – turn into this totally selfish, wicked, degrading, ranting, out of control man who has had very very little to do with our children since he’s been away. He never calls them. He sees them 1 or 2 days a week, at most. He is mysteriously unavailable on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

    And, to top it all off, he is either lying or in complete denial over his affair with a co-worker. As soon as he left me, he said that he would be at a hotel thinking and praying, but instead was caught uptown late at night with this other woman, having a good time. His car has been seen at her home at all hours of the day and night. He has chosen to spend time with her and her children as opposed to me and ours. He has spent $12,000+ that we had been saving up for various goals and projects, money that we had both worked hard on to scrape up while we were dirt poor, living paycheck to paycheck. He has told me that she is just a friend, but that they “really click” and that she is a “really good friend”. He’s admitted to taking her out to dinner, out to see movies, concerts, and the like, and still tries to claim that there is nothing going on between them.

    I have also been appalled at how certain groups of Christians have seemed to look at me now. I have felt the subtle hints of blame, and have felt a cold shoulder, if you will, where people don’t know what to say, so not much is said at all and I do feel somewhat shunned from certain circles now. That has really shocked me, too. It’s almost like some people are afraid of this whole thing like it’s a contagious disease that they need to keep their families away from, lest they catch it, too. It’s totally unfortunate, because, now more than ever, I need community and so do my children! My children desperately NEED to have godly men in their lives and need to see how Biblical marriages should be set up.

    Please pray for our family and I am still praying for everyone else who has gone through this same living nightmare.

  25. I never knew churches were so judgmental on that subject.. I have always went to a non dom church and they have always been very free and unjudgmental.. But I am replying to say thanks it’s a great set of posts sometimes I still struggle with not feeling “good enough” even though my husband begged for my forgiveness and told Me over and over it was not about me it was him being stupid.. But it did still happen (8 years ago) and somedays I still get upset about it and insecure about it.. I think it’s because his one night out made a child that he has to pay support for so I’m reminded of it all the time holidays, her birthday, phone calls, and monthly when the money comes out of the account…

  26. Stacy McDonald says:


    Even though it’s an offense that can be healed, it still leaves scars – and just like physical scars, emotional scars are sometimes sensitive.

    Your situation would be hard for any woman. But a growing understanding of God’s sovereignty will bring you comfort. Knowing that God has orchestrated your steps and that your husband’s sin is his own, it is not tied to your worth in any way, will help you not to “own” his adultery as a personal rejection. You are his precious gift. I am sure it breaks his heart to know that he has harmed you so deeply.

    The Enemy would have you imagine that he deliberately set you aside to pursue something “better.” But the truth is he wasn’t thinking about you when he sinned. It is likely that the Enemy blinded him from all thoughts of you. If he would have remembered you, if he could have looked ahead and seen the pain in your eyes, if he would have been thinking clearly about his vows and the great treasure he was jeopardizing, if he would have remembered that God was right there as a witness of his treachery between him and the wife of his youth, he would have easily rejected sin. But the Enemy is good at deception.

    May the Lord give us eyes to clearly see. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That should be our prayer for ourselves and our spouses each day.

  27. Sandra says:

    very good. thank you. the devastating, pain-swollen path of abandonment, placement outside my husband’s heart and care, violation of our marriage, adultery, separation, divorce — long past now. the divorced woman- judged by all in one way or another – isolated in a leprous-like social state – unworthy of real company- financially struggling and a burden to her family and her church – and problematic to the church in where her servant heart can be placed —— that woman she still suffers pain and a type of ‘un-ease’/rejection yes. she is very much alone. but joy to know she’s a clay jar in progress. (and will share that the children are now adults and survivors…doing well for the most part).

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