I want you to read what I must read all too often.

“Hi, I’ve been reading your material for years and respect your insight on child rearing. It has helped me immensely! I have a friend that is married to a verbally abusive husband. Most of your material is geared to married Christians. This friend of mine is saved, but her husband is not. They have a seven-year-old daughter that is a confused, emotional wreck already. Her husband has had multiple affairs with other women. He uses their daughter to manipulate situations and hurt her mother. Whatever training the mother does with her daughter, the father tells the daughter not to listen to a word that she says. The little girl is told by the father that the mother is hitting her when she spanks her. It is a horrible situation. The father does not provide them with any food, a vehicle, payment for doctor visits, and so on. The mother has filed for divorce, not knowing if this is the right thing to do or not, but not knowing what else to do, she did. It has been 5 months now, and her husband has not been served. She has called her Christian lawyer many times about this. She now believes that this must be the Lord’s will that she stay in this situation. Meanwhile, her daughter is growing more and more difficult at home and in school, with every passing day. The situation is so much worse than I could even begin to describe to you in this short letter. I know she would appreciate any insight that you would have to offer. She is very concerned for her daughter and wants only to do what the Lord would have her to do. Thanks for your help. Love in Christ, Her Friend.”

Debi Pearl answers:

The Scripture makes it very clear how God feels about divorce, He hates it. It is an Old Testament passage, but God has not changed his mind. He still hates divorce. It is not His will, it wasn’t so from the beginning, and it is not so today. There have been occasions, both in Scripture and in our ministry, where a man was so vile that God has killed him. A woman can come to God asking Him to deliver her from a man if he will not repent, but a woman should be sure she has obeyed God in her relationship to her husband, before she asks such a thing.

God has given us several promises concerning marriage to unbelievers. I Peter 3:1-6 tells us how to win our unbelieving husband, and in 1Cor. 7:14 God promises that our children will be holy if we stay with our unbelieving spouse and honor God in our relationship with him. That is a promise from God. These Scriptures give us the “how to” on our end and the expected results. I have seen God keep His word. I have also seen many who would expect God to keep His word when they did not obey their end of the “how to.”

I am not taking her situation lightly. I know that although I am married to a righteous man, I have often wanted to demand my rights and set him straight. How much more difficult it must be for a young woman being subjected to the unreasonable demands of a lost, selfish man? But God is able, not only to save your man, but also to take you to a place of sweet loving kindness in the midst of turmoil. God is also able to save your children. There is no promise in Scripture to spare your children if you leave your lost husband. I could give you a list of hundreds of godly Christians that chose to leave their unbelieving spouses and then married a believing spouse, had decent marriages, but lost their children to the world and bitterness. I have sat and listened to many say, “We sinned; our children suffered, and we lost them to the world. They hate us. My divorce was wrong. Oh if only…” God didn’t destroy that family. He didn’t cause those many lives to be lost. It was the principle of what you sow you will reap. God hates divorce because divorce is destructive. Its temporary relief deceives people into thinking they have somehow escaped the long-term, tragic reaping that comes with divorce, the reaping that sometimes reaches its ugly arm into the 3rd or 4th generation. It affects an ever widening circle of people. Others look on, especially the young married couples, and see your divorce as a quick fix, and follow your lead. When things get rough in their marriage, your situation has helped mold them to go the same road. And so the circle of destruction is passed on to countless more. Seeds of sin just keep on replanting themselves, and bitter hurt seems to go on forever. God hates divorce because it hurts so many. God made a way to win your husband and change your marriage.

I Peter 3:1-4 says, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands: that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

God tells us here, if your husband is not obeying the word of God, then you can win him without trying to teach him the Word of God. God says that as a husband looks on and sees the way his wife responds to him, he will be won. He will hear and see her cheerful countenance. He will notice her willingness to help and forgive. He will see her giving up her rights and not taking offense when he knows he has wronged her. He will see she honors him, obeys him, treats him with respect, and serves him with a non-rebellious, non-resistant attitude. He will see her spirit is not raging outwardly in emotional fits or inwardly in silent brooding of hurt, but her spirit is quiet, restful, and peaceful. He will see she doesn’t puff up and talk incessantly in criticism of him—or others. He trusts her. He knows she is not going to discuss him with her pastor or friend. He sees she is wise with what little money he gives her. She is a remarkable woman, not because she is classy in the way she dresses or looks, but in the way she controls her spirit. She rejoices for an opportunity to bless him, and he knows her heart is good. He tries her; he deliberately tempts her into hurt or anger; he judges her unfairly; he demands things of her that he knows embarrasses her, yet she is in subjection to him in all things. And in the end, she wins him by her chaste conversation. It is a promise from God to you. And God goes on to promise more to this obedient, believing lady.

“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy (I Cor. 7:13).” When children have a believing parent that is walking in honor to God and her spouse, it will causes the child to honor that believing parent. The child will find refuge, companionship, joy, and respect in that parent. It is a natural law. If your child is failing, then you need to look at yourself and say, “Am I continuing in faith and sobriety? Am I walking in peace and joy? Am I willing to forgive and forget? Am I feeling sorry for myself and playing the sad face, or am I rejoicing and believing God? Is the expression on my face and the words coming from my mouth a reflection of the joy of the Lord?”

It is an impossible task, yet with God all things are possible. God is able, and with him you can do the impossible. You can wake up in the morning with a song in your heart, kissing your child and laughing at the sunlight sprinkling your room. You can serve, give, forgive, and enjoy the victory you have in Jesus. And when you feel that hurt, angry spirit rise up, you can open your mouth in praise and thanksgiving to God that you are free from sin and bondage, and free to be glad. In that kind of atmosphere, a child grows stable and complete, a selfish man stops fighting and trying to defeat and subdue.

Dear Mama, whether your husband is lost or saved, God has given you the opportunity to set the atmosphere in your home that will bring joy, peace, thanksgiving, and love. He has given you the tools to become the most loved woman and mother on all the earth. He has given you the plan to right a thousand wrongs and prove to the world that with God all things are possible. He has provided you with the way to show the devil that God can take the weakest, silliest wreck of a woman; a woman that has given-over to become broken, both physically and emotionally, and turn her into a strong, confident, God fearing, honoring, joyful, yes, even thankful woman. One day you will wake up, turn your head to smile good morning to your husband, and see the tears of thanksgiving glistening in his eyes as he tells you one more time how much he loves you and how proud he is to have you as his wife. Then someday as the years pass you will hear your teenage sons and daughters speak of how wonderful their mama is, and you will think that life could never be any sweeter. This is what God loves, because it brings so much happiness, so much joy, so much peace. And the blessings will continue to flow out, not only to you but to your children and your children’s children, and then to those around you who see God’s blessings and hunger to know the truth. It was not the easy road; God’s way never is. This happened because day by day, minute by minute, you chose to believe God’s Word and honor him even though your flesh wanted to scream in anger and defeat. And in that moment of weakness, when you bowed beneath the load, God reached down and gently reminded you to keep on because some day your children will “arise and call you blessed; your husband also, and he praiseth you. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

Women have a tendency to want the answer to their prayers NOW. That is one reason why divorce is so prevalent. But haste is not God’s way. In truth, it is not the best way. In the end, when the blessings begin to flow, it will seem like such a short time, because the blessings never end. Every blessing-seed plants another. Divorce is the world’s way out. But God is able, and with Him, so are you. God loves to bless you; he loves to heal you; he loves to hear that your children walk in truth.

You say your husband is just “too vile,” that it would “take a miracle” or him “dying and being born all over again.” Yes, now you are beginning to understand. God has a miraculous plan to make it possible. You are part of that plan. Every day, minute by minute, as you respond to the living God in obedience and thanksgiving, you make that plan unfold. “That, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” He has given you the power to overcome the reactions (lust) of the flesh and to see that plan become a reality in your life. Will you?

As surely as this article goes out to the many thousands, a score of angry women will write me a letter containing personal examples, proving this could not work with their daughter’s husband, or with their friend’s husband. They will tell me the vile, ugly things the husbands do and of the broken sweet lady in distress, and I will agree. But I would remind you that in the verse that records the sowing and reaping we are warned not to be deceived. It is easy to be deceived by our feelings and what we see. When a person is deceived, they are convinced they are doing right. It seems right, it feels right, everyone says there is nothing else to do. Eve felt that way once. We, as with Eve, think that the will of God stands in the way of our freedom and peace. We believe that due to our unusual circumstances, we are an exception. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” God hates divorce. Divorce has its own set of tragic reapings. If only you could see past today and tomorrow. If only you could get a glimpse of the years to come and of eternity, you would then agree with God. One man and one woman, loving and enjoying each other was and is God’s best plan. It was such a good plan that he made it a picture of his relationship to us, His Church. The second time around can never substitute for this.

Divorce followed by the most wonderful second marriage is still a failure, and will be throughout eternity. When you chunk a bad marriage, you chunk your lifelong opportunity for God to have manifested his power and glory. A failing marriage is a challenge to God. When you divorce, you divest God of the opportunity of ever making something glorious out of the Devil’s mess. Divorce is not just your failure, it becomes the failure of God to triumph in those circumstances. You are not just saying that it is “more than you can bear,” but that it is “more than God could handle.”

This is a hard saying. For many reading this, it is simply an impossible dream. For some it is more like a nightmare. I am here to tell you, the Christian life is a miracle. If it is not a miracle against all odds, then it is not Christian; it is only a religious life. God has given you the “how to,” and he has given you his Spirit to make it possible. He will give you the heart to want it to happen—if you ask him. He is a good God.

Michael adds his thoughts:

If you or your children have been hit (other than the children being spanked) so as to leave discernable marks two hours later, and you genuinely fear that he will repeat his battering, you can take legal steps without divorcing your husband. In a moment when he is not angry, calmly inform him that the next time he physically assaults you or the kids, you are going to call the law and have him arrested. You must first resolve in your heart that you are willing to prosecute him and see him go to jail. I visit prisons every week. It is a great place to mull over the consequences of one’s deeds. And I have never met a prisoner that turned down a visit from anyone. Think about it, lady; it is a great time for writing love letters and sharing a three-minute romantic phone call once a week. Guys who get out of prison run straight home to their ladies and treat them wonderfully—for a while anyway.

If your abusing husband fully understands that you have the power of the law behind you, he will learn to keep his hands in his pockets. I am not suggesting you do this to be vindictive or to get even with him. It must be done in humility and love. If your husbands knows that you are the weaker vessel, desperately seeking your survival and that of the kids, and that you are not trying to punish him, but that you are going to stand by and continue to love him, that you are going to wait for him to get out of prison and then try to start over again, it may move his heart to fear if not to repentance. You say, he cannot help himself. Does he help himself when his peers—other men his own size—make him angry? Does he fly out of control and start hitting his boss or his employees? No? Then he has self-control when he must. The law can make it a must, which will allow you to continue with him and demonstrate your womanhood and win him to yourself and then to your God.

But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself, as long as you know the children are safe. If there is any thought that they are not safe, or if he is not repentant and willing to seek help, then go to the law and have him arrested. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, “What if he doesn’t repent even then?” Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce—always, forever, regardless, without exception.