2004-07-06 - Divorce
Editor's Note: Tim has taken on an enormous and complex topic in this question. The answer is rarely simple, and often painful to all parties involved. Tim has covered the core of the topic of divorce. There are guidelines in the Bible that cover a lot of ground. Situations like the one specifically covered in this question, which is fairly severe, must be handled with tremendous care for the protection of the children involved.
Matthew 19:9, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
"My question has to do with a man ending a marriage with a woman who is abusive to her children and vexing to her husband. She curses the family as well as mocks any reference to being saved, such as at the end of "The Jesus Film". She refuses to put away her evil-based practises, such as glorifying the dead and evil things. The husband is a Christian. What does God's Word have to say, and what would the man's options be?"
There are so many views on divorce that I can't answer this without crossing someone's experience or beliefs. The passage above are the words of Christ. The other passage commonly referenced on divorce is 1 Corinthians 7, specifically verses 8-16, where it says that if an unbelieving spouse refuses to live with a believing spouse, then the believing spouse is no longer bound. This leaves adultery and abandonment as the New Testament grounds for divorce. Many would add other things as proper grounds of divorce, but I don't find them in the New Testament.
We can't simply seek out of a marriage because we are unhappy or because our spouse is not living the way we would expect. Marriage is a covenant that we make before God, each other, and often family and friends. It should only be ended on God's terms. To add to or subtract from God's Word is for the creature to say to the creator, "I know what You have revealed, but I have a better plan." Thus the creature takes the place of the creator and lives by rules established on his own. Once we start doing this we need to invest in a razor blade and start cutting out all the parts of the Bible we don't agree with. If we do that we should simply start at page one and not stop until we reach Revelation 22:21. We either accept God's Word or we have created our own Bible to live by and put ourselves in the place of God.
I am sure many would give you another answer to this question. However, I don't see much in your question that gives grounds for Biblical divorce. The issue that stands out to me is that you stated that she is abusive to the children. For the sake of the safety of the children, if that abuse is physical, it may be necessary to get a court order to keep her away from them and many would say that is grounds for divorce. If by what is meant by abuse is simply agitating them or harassing them, again I don't see grounds for Biblical divorce.
We live in a culture where divorce is common and has gained acceptance within the mainstream of what we might label "Christian culture." God has not promised the Christian a perfect life or even happiness in the externals of our Christian experience. There are too many passages on endurance, suffering, and perseverance in Scripture for us to expect that trusting Jesus brings an end to pain in this life. When we come to Christ in faith we come to die. We die to ourselves, and seek to live for Christ. This is also why there are so many passages in Scripture concerning hope. We have to remember that that hope is an eternal hope and is not a hope based and focused on this passing earth or the things of it.
The 1 Corinthians 7 passage seems to apply best to the situation as stated above. The passage seems to say that if the unbelieving spouse is willing to live with the believing spouse, then there should be no divorce. I wish I could say, "Yea, the husband should get out of this marriage and find a better mom for the kids," but I can't. God's Word does not allow us all the things we wish. Jesus is not, as many treat Him, a genie, and the Bible His magic lamp where we can have all our felt needs met. Often living faithfully is much harder than giving in to our desires. May God lead us to live faithfully to His will, even when it is a struggle. If we are honest we should all be able to say that the will of the creator and sustainer of the universe always supersedes the will of His creation.
Soli Deo Gloria,