Friday, September 21, 2012

The Beauty of Loving a Husband without Needing Him

Yesterday I spoke to a group of young mothers at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. I began with the statement: "Your husband is attracted to you when you don't need him, but you love him." I knew that what I was saying to them was completely opposite of what they usually hear, but I expressed a desire to prove to them that Scripture supported my statement. The typical marriage conference speaker will tell wives that they should have their basic needs--needs like love, security, and significance--met by their husbands. Wives will then leave those marriage conferences having huge expectations that their husbands should meet their needs, particularly if they do their part and meet their husbands sexual, psychological and emotional needs as well. I explained to the MOPS ladies that God never designed for Christian marriages to work this way.

Psychologists tell us, and the Scriptures affirm, that the basic needs of any human being (man or woman) include the need to connect with another person or persons (i.e. love or sociality), the need for respect (i.e. signficance) and the need to protect and be free from fear of personal harm ( i.e. security). God never designed a woman to have her basic needs met by her husband, nor vice-versa. A human being's basic needs are to be met by Christ alone. I then pointed the ladies to three Scripture passages:

(1).  "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory" (Philippians 4:19). Not "your husband" shall supply all your needs. The gospels reveal that Jesus gave much practical comfort to His disciples, both men and women (see Luke 8:1-3). Christ explicitly said that those who receive Him as Savior and Lord are not to worry about their future. He, their King, has everything under His control.  He, not your husband, will provide for all your needs. See Matthew 6:25-34 as an example of Christ's teaching on this subject. Any wife who looks to her husband as the provider of her basic needs is substituting her husband for Christ.

(2). "At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30). These are the words of Jesus. The resurrection is that time when God raises believers in Christ from the dead to live forever on the earth where the curse has been reversed. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "The meek will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). When the redeemed earth is given to us as an inheritance, the city that Christ has been preparing for His people (see John 14:1-4, Hebrews 11:10, and Revelation 20) will descend from heaven and unite with this redeemed earth. This is the day that "all of creation is groaning for" (Romans 8:22). The point of all this is: For eternity, contrary to what Muslims, Mormons and other radical patriachs advocate, no woman will ever have her identity associated with marriage to any man.

Any religion on this earth that refuses to assist women to find their basic needs met in Jesus Christ, any religion that refrains from pointing women to the King of Kings and encourages them to revel in the riches of being "wed to Christ," and any religion that somehow makes a woman think she needs her husband (spiritually, emotionally, or materially) is a religion that is not based on the infallible Scriptures or the truth of God's Kingdom. On the other hand, those Christian women who have been set free from the bondage of believing that they need their husbands to meet their basic needs, and then simply love their husbands from the oveflow of experientially resting in the love and provisions of Christ, will find a slice of heaven in their homes.

(3). "What causes quarrels and fightings among you? Don't they come from a battle over desires within you? You want something but don't get it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:1-2). Angry quarrels, scornful fights, and other efforts to control and manipulate your spouse arise from a desire to have your basic needs met by your mate rather than by your God. God never designed your husband to take His place in your life. Christ alone is your Source of real and lasting love, personal and abiding signficance, and unqualified daily security.

"Seek first the Kingdom of God," Jesus said. The Kingdom of God is best defined as God's reign in your life through Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). One day His Kingdom will be all around you, but until then, His reign is within. For this reason, you don't need your husband to be a certain way. You may want certain things from your husband, and of course, there is nothing wrong with asking; but you don't need him to be a certain way. Why? Because every need you have is designed to be met by God.

Questions Asked Me by the Mothers

"Why does the Bible speak of a man and a woman becoming 'one flesh' in marriage if marriage is not designed to be permanent and marriage is not the place that a woman is to receive her identity?"

Answer: Marriage is a picture of the union that a man and a woman indivudally have with Christ. One should never replace the reality with the picture. When you embrace and kiss the picture to the exclusion of what the picture represents, you become an unhealthy Christian. For example, if I pick my wife up from the airport after a long absence,  run toward her to greet her, and then suddenly stop, ignore my wife, pull out a picture of her and then kiss the picture, I am an unhealthy person. I have made an idol of the picture and missed the reality of what the picture represents. Pictures break. They rip, burn, fade, and are often destroyed. So, too, marriages break and fall apart, but they are only pictures of the reality of one's union with Christ. If the picture is destroyed, IT NEVER MEANS THAT THE REALITY CONVEYED BY THE PICTURE IS GONE. A woman is to get her signficance, security, and love from her union with Jesus Christ, and never a union with any man.

"What happens when my husband breaks his vow of sexual fidelity to me, or becomes emotional or physically abusive to me?"

To say that a husband's infidelity does not hurt a wife would be false. To say the wife does not need her husband to be faithful would be true. To say that a husband's emotional and physical abuse does not hurt a wife would be false. To say that a wife does not need her husband to be kind, loving and gracious would be true. A married woman does not need to be married. She wants to remain married, but she doesn't need to remain married.

Therefore, if your husband is unfaithful or abusive, confront your husband in love and draw a boundary. Tell your husband that you cannot control his actions, nor is it your desire to control him. Let him know that if he desires another woman, or if he feels the need to abuse you, then you will let him go. You can and will end the marriage because you do not need him. End it, however, not in spite, or anger, or manipulation or control. End it because you refuse to enable your husband in his sin, or be a wife that remains in abuse because you can't live without your man. You can. And, when the marriage is over, treat your former husband with dignity, respect and kindness--the same way you would treat any man who is not your husband, for that is the kind of person a woman who has her needs met in Christ is.

In many marriages, wives will unintentionally enable their husbands to continue in their addictions or sin because they unintentionally substitute their husbands for Christ. When a wife cannot picture a future without her husband, she has made the picture (marriage) her idol, and lost perspective on the reality that her marriage is intended to represent (her union with Christ).

"Be specific on why my husband is attracted to me when I don't need him, but I love him?"

Christ's love for us is magnetic. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Christ does not need us. He doesn't need us to be happy. He doesn't need us to be fulfilled. He doesn't need us to be a certain way for Him to feel significant. When He loves us, it is a selfless love. His love is unconditional, and wells within Him like an artesian spring. We don't pull it out of Him; He loves because He is love. When we begin to understand and experience this unconditional and personal love, we are drawn toward Him.

In the same manner, when a fulfilled, self-sufficient woman marries a man, she doesn't need her man. The Kingdom of God is God's total answer for her total need. What she needs is Christ, and she has Him. She's wed to Him, and she desires to be in her marriage all that Christ has made her to be in life. However, her God is not her husband. Her God is Christ. So, she loves her husband, but she doesn't need her husband. That kind of love is magnetic and draws a husband toward his wife. Granted, your husband may not understand selfless love either, mainly because His needs are not being met by Christ. For this reason, he may become unfaithful by searching for his fulfillment in other women. A Christian woman must set boundaries in her marriage, but the enforcement of those boundaries should always be done with dignity, respect and love for the unfaithful spouse--and for his good.. Only healthy Christians, those who see their basic needs are always met by Christ, can draw boundaries and enforce them with the love of Christ.

There is always something very attractive about being loved by a person who doesn't need you.


The MOPS ladies at Emmanuel Enid started their fall session with this study yesterday. Though it is contrary to much of what they will hear in the religious world, I am convinced that the principles I gave to them are from Christ. His words convey life. His truth sets people free. My prayer is that His words will provide some guidance and comfort to ladies who might read this over the Internet as well.

A final note: If your husband is a controlling, manipulative and patriarchal Christian, when you begin to live like you don't need him, he will panic. He will think he is losing you. He will think that you "are different." Give it time. Soon, Christ will either heal him of his need to have you under his control, or he will leave you. Either way, you can't continue in a marriage where your husband has taken the place of Christ--it is unhealthy for both you and him.


R.A. said...

THANK YOU! This is my biggest frustration in women's ministries - they are always asking us to have our spouses as Christ and I KNOW that is wrong. But you said it so much more eloquently than I could.

Wade Burleson said...


You are welcome!

Eric said...

That is the best perspective on marriage I have ever seen, Wade. Thank you for presenting it so clearly.

Wade Burleson said...

Eric, et all...

Thanks! Feel free to use it however you please! I will write some of these things down because it is often easier to print off and give to someone I am counseling and ask them to read it at their convenience.

Heading out for the rest of the day (and evening).

Thanks for your comments and interest in the post. I will respond to any questions late tonight or tomorrow.

Shari England said...

Amen and thank you! So very true. I for one believed that my husband was to fulfill my needs early in my marriage. Retaliation nearly destroyed us. But truly Wade, your teaching on grace, grace and more grace has enabled me these past years to stop enabling, draw boundaries, COMMUNICATE rather than churn anger into aversion. I learned that before I can ever ask the Lord to change my husband, I first had to ask the Lord to change ME. I can now say I/we have the marriage for which I have prayed for so long. So blessed to be enjoying my marriage instead of just tolerating it. The greatest of these indeed is LOVE, and my desire now is just to love him to Jesus. :)

Pege' said...
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lys said...

The idea of this post seems very healthy and right. I've grown up in church and have known Christ as my savior since a young age. But as I've gotten older and have more "needs" (naturally this happens because one encounters more crisis and problems and challenges as they add years to life) I seem to know less and less what it means to have my needs met by Christ. No one ever seems to explain what this "churchy" phrase of getting all my needs met by Christ means. So in practical terms, how do you get all your needs met by Christ?

Paul Burleson said...
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Garen Martens said...

Once again, you have turned my long-held understanding of a biblical principle upside down.

Paul Burleson said...


I know you are asking this of Wade, But he has asked me to post something I'd told him I'd written on this very issue. I'm glad to because, frankly, I think you've asked the right question.

What I'm about to say is not original with me, but for the life of me, I can't remember where I got it. I've used it so often it feels like mine to some degree, so I'll just keep sharing it. [Come to think of it, it may have been Larry Crabb.]

Someone said there are three types of needs in our life. We can live life to the fullest without the first two coming to pass and there is no assurance they will be met. But that's OK. They are not what makes life worth living

Casual needs are the first kind. We need it to not rain on our picnic, the car to start late at night after a movie, the oven to work properly cooking a roast. When those needs are fulfilled, GREAT. But life would be worth living without them being met. Bad things happen!

Critical needs are the second kind. The doctor says it's malignant, the police call and my loved one has been in a wreck, I'm going in for triple by-pass. The needs are obvious here. But, no guarantee that they will be met. Sometimes the doctor says, "I got it all." sometimes he says, "I couldn't get it all and you have six months." Bad things happen!

Interestingly enough, life is worth living when critical needs DON'T come to pass. We can ask anyone who's faced the bad doctor's report and yet rejoiced in a fashion for the rest of their days that makes the rest of us wonder about our own ability to face it the way they do.

But then there are the crucial needs. These are needs without which NO ONE can live life as God intends life to be lived. Those needs, while few in number, are so crucial that to not have them met, can create other relational problems that can stagger the mind and can leave one with a hopelessness that is unspeakable. They are few but, they are crucial for life to be worth living.

They are, in simple terms, boiled down to the bare a human being we need..

to know someone loves us unconditionally.

to know are special to someone.

to know you are not alone.]

It's wonderful when a marriage supplies these, when parent/child relationships supply these, when friendships supply them.

BUT...Two things to remember...

One, no marriage, parent,child, friend, was ever intended to meet them. Nor can they without failure. They're not God. It would be best if we didn't insist they do. That's what Wade's superb post presents.

Two, God DOES meet them and that's the kind of relationship we have with Him in Christ who did settle our sin issue that kept us from having that kind of relationship with the Father.

We're loved unconditionally. [Not.. "if I/when I/because I".. because He (Christ) has.]

We're special beyond measure to Him. [We're that ONE lamb worth going after, that one son whose return He celebrates.]

We're never going to be separated from Him. [He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.]

That makes life and life worth living. All the other kinds of needs, if met, make things kind of nice, maybe even comfortable, but the latter needs are ESSENTIAL for life to be worth living and God says yes to meeting all of them.

Then...we can give love, acceptance, and be there for others because we have been give that in Him. But we DON'T have to attach an umbilical cored to any one or any thing for life to be real life. That's the idea addressed so well in the post today.

I hope this helps to some degree, but keep asking questions. That's healthy too IMHO.

Julie Anne said...

I think I need to print this post out, frame it, and read it over and over again until it sinks in, Wade. Thank you, thank you!!!

Wade Burleson said...


That which I love about you and Eva is that you never allow tradition to trump Scripture! :) You be my kind of people!

Wade Burleson said...


A superb answer to Lys important question. Thanks a billion zillion! :)

I might just add that HOW one comes to find their crucial needs met in Jesus Christ boils down to....

FAITH ... that God's Word is true, so that when you read He loves you unconditionally, eternally, and personally -- you BELIEVE. This is NOT as easy as it sounds. It requires supernatural grace to believe in the incredible and deep love of God for your soul. That is precisely why the Apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians (in the best New Covenant prayer in all the Scriptures) that "they might really come to know (practically) the love of God" (Ephesians 3:19). It requires "faith" to be rest in the truth of those things you cannot always see with your eyes.

HOPE - is not the American hope we think of when someone says, "I HOPE I win the lottery." Biblical HOPE is CERTAINTY. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name." In other words, the hymnwriter is dead on--the certainty that God is FAITHFUL to His promises to us is HIS SON. The Person and work of Jesus Christ becomes "the anchor" of my soul. Any preacher who spends more time getting you in the right "frame" instead of proclaiming the glory and beauty of Jesus and His work on your behalf, is a preacher not worth His salt. One of the reasons Christians have a hard time "feeling" his or her crucial needs are met is because the "certainty" of God's faithfulness to meet their needs is tied up in their performance instead of Christ and the certainty of His performance for them.

LOVE - This is love for Christ and His Kingdom. "Seek and you shall find. Knock and it will be open to you. Ask and it shall be given." In other words, when a person determines to find his or her crucial needs met in Christ by LOVING CHRIST ABOVE ALL ELSE, there will never be any disappointment. God is indeed most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him (Jonathan Edwards). One of the reasons it is difficult to experience needs met by Christ is because too few people converse with Him continually, worship Him daily, and enjoy His company personally. "Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God," Jesus said, and when you seek Christ as the fulfillment of your crucial needs by connecting yourself to Him, resting in His everlasting love, and looking to Him, the King of Kings, for your marching orders--you will never be disappointed in finding fulfillment, significance, purpose and meaning in life.

Wade Burleson said...

Julie Anne,

Thanks, Julie Anne, for your kind words. My prayers continue to be with you! Appreciate your ministry!

Wade Burleson said...

Shari England,

Your testimony that you sent me privately is really amazing! Thanks for sharing and being an encouragement to both your pastor and all those blessed by your writings!

Wade Burleson said...

To All,

Headed out for the rest of the day and evening! Go Sooners! :)

lys said...

Wade and Paul,

Thank you very much for your responses. Your posts have truly given me some good insight into questions I've been having for a long time. You've given me some good stuff to think about. I feel like there are certain phrases and ideas I've just repeated and accepted my whole life without really understanding their depth of meaning. Thank you again!

Kristen said...

This is really good, but I had a few, possibly balancing thoughts:

I agree that our foundational spiritual needs are to be met by God alone. I also believe that God designed us to live in community, that marriage is a form of community, and that God designed it so that some of our needs would be met through one another. The problem is when we place another human in the place of God. We should be careful, though, not to go too far the other way and decide we don't need anybody but God, and cut ourselves off from one another in a hyper-individualistic manner. Other humans can be like "God-with-skin-on" to us, when they act in the love of God towards us-- and we can be the same towards them.

Secondly, about this:

"Marriage is a picture of the union that a man and a woman indivudally have with Christ. One should never replace the reality with the picture." I agree that we should never replace the reality with the picture, but I firmly believe the idea of marriage as a picture of our relationship with Christ is a misunderstanding of Ephesians 5. In Ephesians 5, a specific picture of Christ relating to the church (not with individual men and women) is held up as a picture for marriages to try to follow-- not the other way around. And that picture is Christ laying down His power and position in order to raise the church up to be glorious beside Him. Marriage is a union of two equals, not a picture of a human worshiping his/her Diety. I think this idea that marriage is a picture of the human/God relationship is getting the biblical imagery backwards in a potentially very damaging way, mapping the husband to God and the wife to the worshiping human. It undermines the whole point of this blog post-- that women are not to be dependent on their husbands in the same way they are on Christ.

I've written more on this idea in a three-part blog post beginning here, if anyone's interested:

Paul Burleson said...


Speaking for myself only,

I'm a bit puzzled, really interested, completely open, ready to learn, and totally confident in your teaching abilities. I'll read and report later. Thanks.

Kristen said...

Paul-- you and anyone else are free to disagree with me, of course. But I'm honored by your openness to hear the words of someone with no teaching ministry at all-- I'm just an ordinary person blogging on the Internet about what makes sense to me. But I think that I am bringing some valid hermeneutical principles to bear-- so maybe it will make sense to others as well.

Barbara Roberts said...

With all due respect, I think you are incorrect when you say:
“If your husband is a controlling, manipulative and patriarchal Christian, when you begin to live like you don’t need him, he will panic. He will think he is losing you. He will think that you “are different.” Give it time. Soon, Christ will either heal him of his need to have you under his control, or he will leave you.’
I support dozens of Christian victims and survivors of domestic abuse, and am a survivor myself. The almost universal experience of the victim-survivor is that when she (or occasionally he) begins to live like she doesn’t need her spouse, and starts to follow Christ rather than be controlled by her manipulative husband, the abuser escalates the abuse. This is far more than him panicking. It is him becoming much more dangerous and abusive than he already was! Moreover, very few abusers are ‘healed’, though many jump through hoops for while to portray themselve as repentant and reformed. And most abusers don’t leave their spouses, they want the marriage to continue, because they want to continue to have power and control over their victim and receive services from her.

I think you might be advised to learn a bit more about the dynamics of domestic abuse. I like your blog in general, and have found helpful articles on it, But in this matter, would you consider learning a bit more before you teach about it?
Kind regards
Barbara Roberts

Wade Burleson said...


"The almost universal experience of the victim-survivor is that when she (or occasionally he) begins to live like she doesn’t need her spouse, and starts to follow Christ rather than be controlled by her manipulative husband, the abuser escalates the abuse."

Don't disagree with you. When that happens, the police are called and a divorce is filed. I mentioned this within the post. I grant that I could have been clearer in the wording of the quote you give, but I had already dealt with what you mention as "a universal experience" in the body of the post.

"But in this matter, would you consider learning a bit more before you teach about it?"

You have made two assumptions:

(1). That I do not know enough about spousal abuse to teach on the subject, and
(2). I need to learn "a bit more" before I teach on the subject.

I am surprised you have not asked me about my qualifications or experiences before making an assumption. Other than that, I can assure you I am always ready to learn, but I will not stop teaching on the subject, particularly since I am unconvinced I am as unqualified as you assume.

Wade Burleson said...


I wholeheartedly agree with your balancing statements.

Other humans who are "God-with-skin-on" to us are often disappointing to us, but I agree, WHEN you find someone who displays the character of love and grace, someone significant, you can have one of the most unbelievable human relationships imaginable.

However, even then, that human relationship is designed to supplement us treasuring God.

Thanks for the good words!

Anonymous said...

OOh boy. This needs to go on the road. One of my great pet peeves is that ALL of scripture is ignored when it comes to marriage between "believers".

This would be considered heretical teaching in many evangelical circles.

But then, I have witnessed the horrible damage done to marriages with the comp/pat teaching. Some of it is just women not maturing spiritually because of their "role". That is bad enough but when women stay in abusive situations...even emotional abuse...that is not that obvious to outsiders they become sin enablers. And this usually happens because even their "christian" friends and leaders encourage it. It really is a sick doctrine.


Rex Ray said...

I’m glad to see finally some disagreement with Wade’s post.

Starting with his first Scripture reference of Philippians 4:19 (“My god shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory”),

Was that verse all that Adam needed to live or did God supply his needs with marriage to Eve?

That’s the trouble with applying one verse to cover all the bases. For example, look at Wade’s next verse (Luke 8:1-3) on whom Jesus gave comfort to:

“…and many others who were contributing their OWN RESOURCES TO SUPPORT JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES.”

It would be foolish to conclude Jesus only comforted those who gave him money.

More foolish than that are the statements: “To say the wife does NOT need her husband to be faithful would be true” and “A wife does not need her husband to be kind, loving and gracious would be true.”

Also “The Kingdom of God is God’s total answer for her total need” is what is believed by Nuns.

But I thought we were Baptist. :)

Victorious said...

I perceived Wade's post as a refuting the prevalent teachings that lead to a wife's total dependency on a husband. These teachings require she abandon her intellect, decision-making abilities, and in general, diminish her self-esteem. When she recognizes that she is fully capable of self-sustenance, two things happen; one, she takes her eyes off her husband as an idol and replaces him with Jesus; and two, she begins to assume responsibility for her own welfare and use of gifts as God intended. The end result, hopefully, is both husband is eleviated from a burden he was never meant to carry, and she benefits from a renewed relationship with Jesus as her provider.

That's how I saw it.

Barbara Roberts said...

Hi Wade, thank you for responding to my comment. I shall email you as what I would like to share with you is a little more detailed than what would be appropriate for a blog comment.

Wade Burleson said...


Received your email. Well done! Thanks for your ministry and the explanations of your views on my post.

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

Wade, about 70 % of all divorces are initiated by wives.

A study reported in the American Law and Economics Review in 2000, "

Moreover, in some of the states where no-fault divorce was introduced, over 70 percent of the divorce filings were by women. Among college-educated couples, the percentage of divorces initiated by wives is a whopping 90 percent.

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

Wade, we're now well into the fourth decades of feminists and the secular culture telling women they don't need their husband. Woman have, if statistics are correct, fully taken it to heart.

Christiane said...

somewhere between extremes spoken of on this topic,
I find myself drawn to the beautiful Anglican marriage liturgy for a comment quote devoid of both 'emotional distance' or 'submissiveness of the female spouse to the male spouse'.

from Anglican wedding liturgy:

"Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. Amen.

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life. Amen.

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other's forgiveness and yours. Amen.

Make their life together a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair. Amen.

Bestow on them, if it is your will, the gift and heritage of
children, and the grace to bring them up to know you, to
love you, and to serve you. Amen.

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others. Amen."

Hope this provides something positive to the discussion, good people... and I think EVERYONE should have a voice to express their thoughts and feelings within the Body of Christ, as long as they are people of good will.

thatmom said...

Wade and Paul, thanks for your words in the post and comments. Having spent many years on the inside of the patriarchy movement and having watched it move firmly into the patriocentric position, that is, making the husband or father the absolute center of life, I found what you wrote to be so true. This is the direction so much of evangelicalism is traveling and your words needed to be said. I can well remember one of my first wake-up calls came from reading what is now one of my favorite verses: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” (Psalm 73:25) Believing we need anyone or anything to provide what only God can provide is pure idolatry.
On the other hand, sharing my marriage with a wonderful man who has never once played the role of a patriarch (our foray into this movement was instigated solely by me!), I can honestly say we seek to meet each others’ needs and that is what living organically by grace in a one anothering relationship ought to look like. It isn’t about me, it’s about my husband, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Wade Burleson said...


Femininism is no more a threat to true Christianity than patriarchalism.

Both are extremes. Both ultimately fail.

Charis said...

Women (in the western world) no longer have to stay with someone who bears no resemblance to “loving”. We are no longer trapped by economic necessity and biased laws.

Instead of blaming "feminism" and the education of women for the fact that women file a higher % of divorces, how about stepping up and loving well so your wife won’t want to leave?

This teaching by Pastor Danny Silk complements what Wade said and addresses that high % of women filing-
Men’s Issues – What has Happened to Men?

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

"How the new gender economics has more and more professional-class women looking at their mates and thinking: How long until I vote you off the island?"

Kristen said...

James Brown-- I read the article. But I don't believe the only two alternatives are a male-led marriage or a female-led marriage. I still think an equal partnership of two people who both put one another first and lead the home side-by-side together, is possible. It seems to be working in my marriage. . .

Hannah Thomas said...

Well Jimmy you can see life with your 2 way glasses - The male way or female way - if you wish. Its your choice.

I have to admit the 'light bulb' story? Everyone has seen that circumstance played out in one form or another. It doesn't have the one way gender role though. I have seen males act the same way. Its more of an attitude issue than gender if we are going to be honest here.

The point of this article - which for some reason has gone right over your head - is you can love your husband. Husbands are to love wives as well.

Don't depend on the other person to get what you 'need' in forms that are unhealthy, unattainable, and that only God can supply.

The word 'need' doesn't have to be so black and white.

This concept doesn't have to be so threatening, unless of course you see loss of control. If that is the case? A serious look at why it makes you so insecure is INDEED needed.

God doesn't place people 'in control'. That is his position, and he honestly doesn't need the help. He is doing just fine all by himself.

Retha said...

Jimmy/James, it is objectively true that women can live without husbands, whether, we get the idea from the Bible or feminism, or just plain observation of what is happening around us. It is equally true that men can live without wives.
It seems to me that you oppose the speaking of the truth when the truth, in your opinion, leads to disagreeable outcomes (divorce is a result of this truth, according to you).
Why should anyone trust your blog comments if you judge statements not by their truth, but by their potential result?

And another ironic thing: By blaming the one who files for divorce, not whoever made the marriage undesirable, you are talking like a secular masculist, while complaining that Wade talk like secular feminists...
I don't know how much you know of secular masculists (their blogs are called the manosphere), but they are certainly more anti-marriage, anti-family and pro-promiscuity than their feminist counterparts. For example, I know of no feminist who advocate that a mother do not have to take responsibility for her children, but I know of masculists who say that leaving men do not have to see their children again or pay child maintenance.

Larry said...

Mr. Burleson,

I take exception to your article, especially the answers to the three questions the mothers asked you. Here are my responses to each one of them.

You said, “Marriage is a picture of the union that a man and a woman indivudally have with Christ.” If this is the case, then what of those who are married to unbelievers (1 Pet 3:1, 1 Cor 7:12-13)? Your answer, taken at face value, suggests that those that are not Christians can’t be married, yet The Apostle Paul explicitly says otherwise.

You wrote: “A married woman does not need to be married. She wants to remain married, but she doesn't need to remain married.” I’ll suggest that if she wants to abide in the vows that she made to her husband, she most certainly does need to remain married. Jesus said what God has joined together; let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:6). Nowhere in scripture is it indicated that God’s will is for those joined by God to divorce. Anything contrary to this is an indication of a hardened heart (Matt 19:8).

Further, Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 says those who vow and do not keep it: a) sin before the Lord, and b) are fools. Jesus reinforced this teaching quite nicely in the sermon on the Mount concerning regular promises or words spoken (Matt 5:33-37). If this applies to such, how much more a vow concerning a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime?

Finally, you said, “Christ does not need us. He doesn't need us to be happy. He doesn't need us to be fulfilled. He doesn't need us to be a certain way for Him to feel significant.” While it may be true that God “doesn’t need us”, it is not true that men do not need other men. If not, why the command to preach the gospel to those who are lost? Do they need to hear the message of truth? What of the sinner in 2 Cor. 2? Did not Paul tell the church at Corinth to forgive and comfort him lest he be destroyed with “overmuch sorrow” (vs. 7)? What about wives married to unbelievers? Do they not need the godly example of their submissive, chaste conduct so they may become believers (1 Pet 3:1)? If not, what Bible passage teaches otherwise?

The world teaches that spouses may divorce because the other is not behaving like they ought. Instead of behaving like you don’t need your spouse, the Bible teaches to return good for evil, to love those who are treating you like an enemy and to bear…believe…hope and ENDURE all things (Rom. 12:17; Luke 6:32-36; 1 Cor. 13:7). Love that doesn’t do all of this fails, and therefore cannot be called love (1 Cor. 13:8).

The attitude behind this entire article is the promotion of divorce when the husband is not behaving like he ought. Based on the aforementioned scripture, I must therefore conclude that the article is contrary to the doctrine of Christ.

Victorious said...

Larry said:

"Nowhere in scripture is it indicated that God’s will is for those joined by God to divorce. Anything contrary to this is an indication of a hardened heart (Matt 19:8)."

Can we agree that abuse is an indication of a hardened heart on the part of the perpetrator?

Surely you're not suggesting that the victim of abuse has a hardened heart for leaving the situation?

Kristen said...

Since God speaks of Himself as getting a divorce in Jeremiah, I think that thinking of divorce as an unqualified wrong in every case is a misunderstanding of the passages on divorce. Who has broken the covenant-- the one who's using and abusing the other spouse, or the spouse who is the victim?

Here is a post on my blog on the subject, drawing from the writings of David Instone-Brewer on this subject:

Larry said...


Abuse may be an indication of a hardened heart, but it’s not necessarily so. I have known of cases where the wife provokes the husband to anger by her ungodly behavior. It would be wise to follow the proverb writer’s advice when dealing with cases like these (Prov. 18:17).

The “victim” of the alleged abuse does not necessarily have heart issues, either. This would be primarily directed at those who have sufficient knowledge of what God has said concerning His marriage law – not an action taken in ignorance. But whether or not the divorce takes place because of a “heart condition”, the command by Jesus (Matt 19:6) is still broken. I can certainly empathize with a spouse in an abusive situation, but putting asunder what God joined together is still sin.

Larry said...


I tried to access the link provided, but for some reason I’m unable to view it at this time.

I don’t believe the Jeremiah passage is relevant, primarily because this divorce is spiritual in nature. The children of Israel were accused of committing “adultery” and “playing the harlot” by God, yet we understand these are metaphorical descriptions concerning idolatry.

In addition, there was specific instruction delineated by God as to what would happen if the children of Israel broke the covenant of Jehovah (Lev. 26). There is no such statement concerning marriage about this, except “from the beginning” divorce was never in accordance with the will of the Lord (Matt 19:3-8). Also, the Lord promised to “remember” the covenant that was made if they repented (Lev. 26:40-45). Divorce between the man and woman is almost always intended to make the separation permanent. Thus, I do not see how the Jeremiah passage has any bearing on the topic under discussion.

Victorious said...

Larry said:
"I have known of cases where the wife provokes the husband to anger by her ungodly behavior."

If a wife provokes her husband, she is responsible for provoking. He is responsible for how he reacts. If his response to provocation is abusive (and particularly physical), he legally liable for assault.

I'm convinced the message of Jesus about "putting asunder" was directed to the Pharisees who were putting away wives for "any cause." In other words, he was placing the blame where it belonged for hardened hearts.

Victorious said...

I also agree with Kristen about God divorcing His people for unfaithfulness.

Of particular interest is that He mentions a "Writ of Divorce" in both Jeremiah 3:8 and Isaiah 50:1 as well. I lean toward the Writ of Divorce as implicit in Jesus' words that if a husband divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. A legal divorce in writing would permit remarriage although that was not the outcome for marriage designed by God. That's why scripture says He hates divorce: ...and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."

It's the "behavior" that causes divorce that He hates. I see this principle much the same as the Sabbath being "for" man, not man "for" the Sabbath. The two parties in a relationship are more important to God than the "institution" of marriage.

Retha said...

Larry said: " there was specific instruction delineated by God as to what would happen if the children of Israel broke the covenant of Jehovah (Lev. 26). There is no such statement concerning marriage about this, except “from the beginning” divorce was never in accordance with the will of the Lord (Matt 19:3-8)."
Exodus 21:10-11 talk of a wife being allowed to go free, to leave the husband, if the man does not provide for her food, clothing and "duty of marriage."

God did allow women to leave men under some circumstances.

Kristen said...


I certainly think the passage in Jeremiah does apply; God would not use a metaphor of divorce with Himself as the initiating party, if divorce were evil in all cases.

Yes, God is against breaking the covenant of marriage. But when a divorce is simply a legal acknowledgment by the wronged party that the covenant has already been broken by the other party, then it is not the wronged party who has broken the covenant.

The kind of no-exceptions model you are advocating amounts, in my opinion, to binding up a heavy burden and placing it on the shoulders of others. It turns the New Testament into just a newer and stricter Law, rather than the good news of the Kingdom that sets us free.

Also, I don't care what the wife does to provoke the husband to anger-- violence is never justified, and the attitude you're espousing (even putting the word "victim" in quotes as if you didn't really believe it!) is a pure and simple example of victim-blaming.

There are wives (some husbands too) who wish every day they could die, because they believe what you are teaching regarding divorce. Is it really God's will that they remain trapped this way? That doesn't sound anything like the good God that I have come to worship.

When the interpretation of a Scripture makes God into a monster-- when a mere human being finds themselves easily capable of being more merciful that the picture of God implied by that interpretation-- there is a problem with the interpretation. The whole weight of the rest of Scripture about the nature and character of God testifies against that interpretation, be it never so plain and literal.

Retha said...

Larry, in those "cases where the wife provokes the husband to anger by her ungodly behavior" - have you known of the wife's "ungodly" behavior by the story of the abusive husband, or by what way did you know?

Larry said...


The wife in your scenario is not absolved of responsibility of her behavior after the husband reacts. He is only “legally liable for assault”, if the wife chooses to press charges. She could confess her sin of provoking, repent of it and strive to do her part to make the marriage better form there. Of course, if both profess to be Christians, it would be unreasonable to unnecessarily drag a spouse into heathen courts for revenge (1 Cor 6:1-8), which of course takes us right back to the Romans 12 passage about vengeance being the Lord’s (Rom. 12:19).

Although Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, The Bible teaches anyone may harden their heart toward the commands of God (Heb. 3). So the principle remains.

I find it curious that the immediate assumption is that charges need to be pressed. Is this not the wife thinking evil of the one she is supposed to love the most (1 Cor 13:5; Phil 4:8)? I am not so much concerned about the law as I am about this attitude of hate toward the alleged “abuser” (And I personally don’t like to use terms such as that, because far too often they insinuate the person can’t change their behavior, and thus somehow justifies this victim mentality toward ungodly behavior).

Kristen said...

Larry-- You've got to be kidding me.

"Don't take one another to court before unbelievers" is about civil lawsuits-- "he borrowed my lawn mower and brought it back damaged." That was what Paul was talking about, not this.

Violent abusers don't stop just because the abused decides to try to not provoke next time! Criminal behavior must be addressed, and those they assault are due full protection of the law.

What you are talking about can, and has, resulted in deaths. I only hope no one reading this takes what you're saying to heart.

Victorious said...

Larry said:

"Of course, if both profess to be Christians, it would be unreasonable to unnecessarily drag a spouse into heathen courts for revenge"

Not for revenge, Larry, but for protection. That's what the law does; protects citizens.

Rom 13:4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

There is wisdom in availing oneself of the services that law enforcement and civil authorities provide. You would be remiss to ignore situations that need to be corrected. You enable evil and crime to continue without consequence.

Not something you would teach your children...that their actions have no consequences, right?

Larry said...


1 Cor. 6 does apply, because the article in question and what I have said is not specifically talking about “violent abusers” – you are.

Even so, a spouse in the situation you specify can remove him/herself from it...with the hope that the spouse with the anger problem will come to repentance and then reconciliation (Matt 5:23-24). Of course, if the unrepentant will not change right then, it is not for us to say or assume it will never happen (2 Pet. 3:9). As long as the person is alive, there is belief and hope (1 Cor. 13:7) that the person will come to repentance. Whether a person actually believes this or not will be evident based on what he/she does (Matt. 7:16-20). Since divorce is usually intended to make the separation permanent, the initiator of divorce is just a guilty as the “violent abuser” is – just in a different sin.

But most often divorce is not for “violent abuse”…it is because the other spouse is allegedly not getting their needs met. So what you are addressing is not the central point of issue I have with the article.

Based on the nature of your replies, I suspect that what you instead have in mind is something along the lines of “punish the no good *expletive deleted* and let him burn in hell” type of attitude – regardless of whether “violent abuse” has taken place or not. This again violates the law of love and does not possess the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

Victorious said...

He can repent anytime anywhere. My experience with abusers is that without strong confrontation from a court-ordered anger management program, he will continue the pattern. And it almost never stops with verbal abuse, but escalates in frequency and intensity.

I met many women in the ER who denied this would happen. I asked them to mark their calendar each time their husbands abused them and watch how it escalates.

The "Cycle of Violence" is very well documented by those who work in this field. It's a cycle of abuse (verbal, emotional, physical) followed by "repentance", follwed by the "honeymoon phase" which only lasts a short time and back to the beginning of the cycle again.

It's a learned behavior for some men just as surely as learned helplessness is for some women.

Can't be unlearned easily or without professional help.

Kristen said...

Larry, you said:

Based on the nature of your replies, I suspect that what you instead have in mind is something along the lines of “punish the no good *expletive deleted* and let him burn in hell” type of attitude – regardless of whether “violent abuse” has taken place or not.

Wow. That's a pretty long leap to make from my words to my alleged attitude. I agree with Victoria-- abusers need help to change, and that help can't come from the abused spouse, but has to come from the court systems. Abusers handled with "Ok, we'll separate until you say you repent and promise not to do it again" are just going to go back to abusing shortly after they've got their spouse back in the home. I'm not making this up; it's based, as Victorious said, on valid research.

I never call anyone no good, nor do I want anyone to burn in hell. You, sir, are presuming entirely too much.

For the rest, I disagree totally with your views on divorce. When the covenant is broken, the non-breaking party does not sin if he or she merely gives legality to the break. Retha is quite right about Exodus 21:10-11. That was interpreted at the time Jesus was preaching, as a just-cause divorce law available for anyone, and Jesus did not negate it. He was negating the "any-cause" divorce then popularized by Rabbi Hillel. Try again to read my article. If you can't click on the link, copy and paste it to your browser. Until you've read my entire argument, you can't really address it very well.

Kristen said...

PS. I should have said that help has to come from the court systems and from professional counseling. Just throwing a guy in jail does no good at all, and I believe our justice system ought to be rehabilitory.

Larry said...


I am still not able to access your article. Perhaps it will load tomorrow.

For the second or third time, I am not referencing “abusers” only, but those who would put their spouses away for any cause, and the attitudes that fuel this this line of thinking. Why are you restricting behavior to the worst case scenario, when that is not the problem in the majority of divorce cases? “Violent abuse” is not the core issue, and it is a big part of my reason for “presuming” your thought patterns more along the lines of harmful rather than helpful.

We are not under the Law of Moses today, so the Ex. 21 does not apply. Neither is the blood sacrifice of animals, the destroying of heathen nations by force, or the denial of marriage by the father. Jesus bypassed the Law of Moses and went back to the beginning. The command is “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder”. Divorce is not commanded anywhere in the New Testament, except by implication where a spouse is married to someone they ought not to be married to (Matt 19:9; Mark 6:18). Rather, those that are married are said to be bound to their spouses for life (1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2-3).

Just because God permits something does not mean it is in accordance with his will. God permits people to put their spouses away for any cause (1 Cor. 7:10-11), just as He also permits man to sin (1 John 2:1); this does not mean it is in accordance with the will of God. “When the covenant is broken”, whether by abuse from the husband or wife, regardless how large or small the infraction, reconciliation is the goal. Not permanent separation from the spouse.

For emphasis, this issue is not restricted to “violent abusers”, but to all who would put their spouse away in violation of the Lord’s direct command.

Ramesh said...

Wordgazer's Words > What About Divorce?

Kristen said...

Thy Peace -- Thank you!

Larry, the problem is that we're talking at cross purposes. I'm not supporting divorce for "any cause." I'm supporting divorce for "just cause," which is defined as a cause that actually breaks the marriage covenant. You seem to be supporting no divorce, ever, whether for just cause or not, which I completely disagree with-- but you keep arguing with a position I am not taking. And I never said Ex. 21 applied today.

So the reason I'm talking about cases like abuse is that those are the cases where I believe the scriptures as a whole support the idea that the wronged spouse is not bound forever to the abuser.

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,
I always enjoy your posts on gender and marriage, which are so balanced and portray a viable model for the Church. I'm grateful to have a husband who would agree with you 100% and was given to me just when I DIDN'T "need" him the most! =D
I have a Pinterest board on Biblical Equality where I have several of your posts pinned. They are encouraging and refreshing, especially coming from a man's perspective rather than a woman's. (Mainly because I can share them with other men who won't typically listen to a woman say the same thing. =P)
Thank you again. Your blog is a blessing.
=) Rev. Jasmine Flores, NYC

Anonymous said...

Wade, thank you for this sane and healthy viewpoint! Our prayer is that more in the SBC (men and women alike!) would be able to embrace this Biblical view!

Donald Johnson said...

Ex 21:10-11 establishs some principles for divorce after a marriage, namely abuse and neglect. Yes, they were given to Israel, but marriage is not just for Jews, it is for everyone who wishs to marry. So the principles on reasons for divorce also apply to everyone, not just Israel.

One simply cannot discard Torah as instruction for believers in Jesus, Jesus accepted Torah and was Torah-observant. Paul says the same thing about Torah. One needs to assess whether some text in Torah applies to you and if you are married the Ex verses certainly apply.

Used Printing Equipment said...

I remember one saying. Love is where wecame from and Life is where we are coming back.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I made vows when we got married, and basically was to be there for each other in good and hard times. If God can cover all of our needs, then why he created Eve to cover Adam's needs? And why we had to made vows with a covenant to each other instead to God?

Sorry, but there are needs that God cannot cover and I do need my husband. If I am wrong, then why we need to get married in the first place?

I think your post is all messed up about how a real arriage relationship should be and if women think like you there is gona be way more divorces than happy marriages :(

Anonymous said...

This is one of the BEST posts I have seen on marriage! Thank YOU! I have met many women who made their husbands little gods and it's idolatry. It is a misrepresentation of the scriptures. I love the way you explain it. Thank you so very much. This should also take loads of pressure off men.