By Leonie A. Dennis
Enduring an abusive marriage for the rest of your life is definitely not the will of the Father. But does that mean that all abusive marriages should automatically be dissolved? I think there are two very important things to consider when it comes to staying in or leaving an abusive marriage, and that is God’s desire and man’s choice. God could desire for the marriage to be restored, but it’s still up to man (the abuser) to change to make it possible for God’s desire to come to pass. If your pastor-husband has shown some sincere fruit of change, then it’s up to you to determine if you’re willing to give him time for that change to become consistent, so that both of you can become one again. This should also mean that whatever role you play that contributes to the brokenness in the relationship should be resolved in order for there to be true oneness and wholeness in the marriage.
But what if the Father doesn’t desire for the marriage to be restored? This could be because the Father never ordained the union in the first place, which means that although you stood before a preacher and said “I do”, God never intended for you to marry that particular man. There could be a number of reasons why your husband may not have been God’s choice. Perhaps the ultimate reason is because God knew that this union would cause you to move further and further away from why He created you. There’s also the possibility that you already knew your husband was not God’s perfect will for you, but you went through with the marriage ceremony anyway for your own personal reasons. If this is the case, then why stay in a marriage you know the Father never established, and an abusive one at that?
Another possibility could be that you were deceived in who you thought you were marrying, and have now discovered that the whole thing was a sham. If this applies to you, then would the Father want you to stay in a union that was built on lies? If the relationship was built on lies, it may be safe to say that this man you married was sent from the Kingdom of Darkness to destroy your life and not from the Kingdom of Heaven to bless your life. But if infact this man was actually sent from the Kingdom of Heaven, but chose to disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit and walk after the flesh, then you staying with this man still goes back to him making a genuine effort to change for the better and you giving him time to do so.
It could also be that you married your pastor-husband because you truly felt in your heart that he was the one for you. There was a strong connection and you really thought you found your soul mate; and maybe he did as well. But you have come to realize that although there was a connection, this connection was mostly or purely carnal. The spiritual dynamics of you are and who he is in the eyes of God is not at the forefront of the marriage, even though there’s the outward display of religious activities. It may also be that spiritually, you and your husband are unequally yoked — not in the sense of one having more knowledge or gifting than the other, but in the sense of one having a heart to serve the Father and one having a heart to walk in their own way; to do what’s right in their own eyes.
God’s desire is for marriage to be a lasting covenant. But where the problem comes in is when God never ordained a particular man and a particular woman to enter into a marriage covenant with each other. Or, if God did orchestrate the union, the problem comes in when man (meaning mankind) out of his own free will chooses to mess up what God ordained by being abusive. So knowing if you should stay in or leave an abusive marriage should be predicated on the validity of your marriage in the eyes of God. You also have to rely on the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to truly discern if God is the one who’s saying stay or go.
Leonie A. Dennis is a spirit-led author who strives to write empowering words that can help pastors’ wives break free from abuse, and become emotionally, mentally, and spiritually whole. Leonie survived emotional, mental, verbal, and spiritual abuse in her past marriage to a pastor, and hopes to use her testimony and writings on her blog, BreakFreePastorsWife.com, to help other women heal.