What Marriage?

Dear Christian Counselor,

What do I do with my marriage? I am tired and hurt and devastated. We have been married three years and have fought this entire time because he is controlling and emotionally and verbally abusive to me. I have since learned he cheated on me before we were married and also recently. I feel lost and not knowing what I am to do at this point. On top of all of this, he is not remorseful for his behavior and choices and says I deserved it.

Lost and Alone in Marriage


Dear Alone in Marriage,

My first reaction is to say to you, “What marriage?” Jesus names adultery as His exception to the prohibition on divorce (see Matt. 19:9, for example) because it breaks the relationship so thoroughly – physically, emotionally and spiritually. So you do have the option of divorce. You did not say whether you or your husband are Christians or have a Christian community, but if you do, it is time to engage those resources. You need a pastor, a counselor and a group of friends supporting you, praying for you and helping you through this time. If you don’t have these things, go get them!

Just because divorce is an option doesn’t mean you have to take it. But if your husband remains unrepentant in the face of confrontation by you, your pastor, Scripture and the Holy Spirit, then I would suggest you enforce a separation, even if you remain in the same house. Use the time to do your own counseling, especially in terms of your identity and decision-making, investigate your legal and financial options, and pray, pray, pray. For something this important, you want to know you followed God rather than culture or even your own ideas. In the end, you will either have to build something totally new with your husband or pursue life on your own, because what you have is not what I would call a marriage.


Related Material:

Questions About Forgiveness
An Unrepentant Spouse

Lady in Waiting

Sad guy holding a bouquet of flowers on a bench in a parkDear Christian Counselor,

I’ve actually just started getting serious about my faith. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years now, no sex involved, and I am not ready, but my boyfriend has been none too discreet with the fact that he’s ready for it. I know I won’t be ready until after we’re married. How do I explain this to my boyfriend, I mean he has been waiting for so long?

Confused


Dear Confused,

This question won’t even matter if you both are not on the same page spiritually. Your common ground, first and foremost, must be your faith in Jesus Christ. Is this man a Christian as you are? If the answer to that is no, then you have a battle with Truth in being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14). If the answer is a resounding yes, then you have Scripture to guide your sexuality (see, for example, 1 Cor. 7:32-36). If this man is a respecter of Jesus and the Word of God then he will wait until marriage for the glory of God and the ultimate good of the relationship.  We follow the commands of Scripture because they are good for us; to disobey or ignore them would bring pain and hardship for you. It is healthy for your relationship to face this head on and see where he stands in regard to Truth. You need to know.

— Karen


Related Articles:

Why Wait for Sex?  Focus on the Family
Worth the Wait Video from a real groom
A Scientific Perspective WebMD

Can a Christian Be Depressed?

Dear Christian Counselor:

Can a Christian be both depressed and victorious? I have struggled with mild depression most of my adult life, enough that it’s hard to stay on task, and a disagreement can ruin a day or two. I certainly don’t feel victorious but I do continue to pursue the things of God with Bible study, prayer and fellowship. Am I sinning when I am depressed? Doesn’t it show signs of unbelief?

Praying for Strength and Relief


Dear Praying:

Every year millions of people struggle with various forms of depression. Recently, we learned that Mother Theresa considered herself to be a “saint of darkness” due to seasons of depression. Scripture shows us that even biblical characters experienced this mood disorder. Elijah, the prophet, felt so defeated that he wanted to die. Psalm 88 describes a deep depression in which the author asked if God had rejected him. Paul mentions an ache that will not leave him. Depression is real, and it happens to Christians.

Depression can happen for a variety of reasons. It can be biological, or it may occur following life changes. It can happen after childbirth or because there are years of undealt-with emotions in a person’s life. We live in a fallen world, and it affects us all differently. Sometimes, that means depression.

Depression becomes a spiritual issue when it leads us to ask questions like, “Has God forgotten me?” or “Am I truly a believer?” Christians work very hard to ‘just pray better’ or ‘memorize more verses’ to make depression go away. Christians tend to feel guilty and withdraw from others, compounding depression’s difficulties since we need the presence of caring people in our healing process.

Most people can see growth through depression with the help of counseling and the support of community. Sometimes medicine can help. A good counselor will encourage you to explore causes of depression. They will also give you space to wrestle honestly with the spiritual aspects of your mood. In God’s mysterious providence, our problems often thrust us into increased dependence on God. He is, after all, a Man acquainted with sorrows (Is. 53:3).

Jessica


Biblical Counselors on Depression (CCEF podcast)
Is Depression a Sin? (Focus on the Family)