Question from a Site Viewer
I was a strong Christian for years. I loved God and He used me in many ways. However, my wife was making my life a living hell and I blamed God for it. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t change her. The church wouldn’t help me either. I was angry so I committed adultery. Depression set in. I planned suicide. My wife knew it and she was happy about it. What an evil wife! Finally I divorced her, even though Scripture teaches against divorce. Still though, I think I had justification for leaving her. I then met a wonderful woman. We wanted to marry but both felt it was against God’s will. I don’t want to be single forever. I have forgiven my ex-wife, even though she was evil and even though God treated me unfairly. I still seek after Jesus. I seek forgiveness. I feel as though I was the seed planted in the rocky ground. I had no foundation. Now I live in terror of judgment. Will God ever forgive and restore me?
Thank you for writing to the site. I trust that you will consider seriously what we say and take it to God and the Scriptures before accepting or rejecting it. Our desire is to restore to you the joy of a vibrant and living relationship with Jesus Christ.
As I read your account, I am grateful that you provided the details that you did. But I am troubled as well. You say you had an evil wife. You also state that your Christian wife made your life a living hell purposely for 10 years. And you blamed God for this.
It is certainly true that others can either enrich or negatively impact our lives. But, ultimately, it is how we choose to respond that reflects what is truly within our character. Your response tells me that the difficulties in the relationship were not solely the fault of your wife. In fact, if I were your wife, I think I would have left you. You promised to love her in sickness and in health, in good times or bad, until death parted you. Even if she did not love you, and I have not heard her side of the story and am taking no position on that issue, you still had sworn before God to love her. Yet, by your own admission you not only did not love her but you committed repeated adultery. You condemn her for being an evil wife but you have not served her as a husband. You have not sought her own good. You have not lived with her in the way that Christ teaches us to live with those who may not be our friends. Christ saw evil in the world and He loved the world so much that He came to live among us and redeem us from the evil. Rather than following His example, you saw what you perceived as evil in your wife and you sought your own way. You have focused on the evil in your wife and you have sought to justify and mitigate the evil you have done to her. Such is not the attitude of one who is ready to do business with God.
You said that the church did not help you. But I wonder if it was not that you were unwilling to listen to wise counsel from those outside when that counsel differed from what you wanted. The nature of deception is not that we know we are wrong, but we think we are right and we are not. That is deception. And when we are deceived, we tend to reject the advice of others around us who see things in a different light. One of the greatest reasons to be part of a fellowship of Christians is so that others can help correct our wrong thinking. Hebrews 2:13 commands that we exhort each one daily lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. A wise person listens to rebuke but a fool despises correction. If we are not willing to change the way we think when others tell us that our thinking is wrong, then we have no defense to deception. As James tells us in James 3:17, the wisdom from above is willing to yield to the opinions of others. It is not that we ultimately will always agree with others. But we are very open to their rebuke.
From what you have told me, you have wronged your wife, committed adultery, and have been living with another woman whom you love. But you know that God is not happy about this. And I take it that you have come somewhat to your senses to understand that the life you have been living has little hope of doing anything other than losing your soul. So now, you have made a commitment to remain single the rest of your life. But you still see this woman as good and your former wife as an evil wife.
There is a Biblical truth that as long as we look on others as more evil than ourselves, we have little hope of heaven. It is only when we come to the place where we see our evil as being worst and others as being better than ourselves, that there is hope. The Pharisee thanked God that he was better than other men. The publican beat his breast and asked for mercy (Luke 18:9-14). Only one of them was justified. Paul stated that he was the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Isaiah said that he was a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). The spiritual one considers that he himself may be tempted before he seeks to correct those who have gone astray (Galatians 6:1). The priest has compassion on the ignorant and sinful ones. When we see sin and evil, we should respond as a priest, having compassion on the person and petitioning God for that person, reflecting God’s patience with our own patience towards that person. If we do not from the heart forgive others, how can we ask God to forgive us (Matthew 18:35)? Do we expect God to look at us and treat us differently than the way we look at others and treat them? That is not what I read in Scripture. As we do to others, it is done to us.
In ways, your story reminds me of the story of Amnon and Tamar. I am sure you remember the story. In 2 Samuel 13:1-16, we find the account of Amnon being sick with love for Tamar. He schemed so that he could have her to himself. But once he did, he developed this deep loathing for her. She rightly told him that the loathing was a greater evil than the rape. You loved your wife and married her. However, something within you caused you to loath her. You think it was her evil. Perhaps she did not meet what you perceived to be your needs. Perhaps she did her own thing. Perhaps she did not think highly of you. I do not know and do not wish to know. What I know is that there was nothing that Tamar did that caused Amnon to loath her. His mind switched and he loathed her greatly. When we allow our feelings to rule us, this can easily happen. Instead of governing our feelings and thoughts, we let them govern us, and this leads to sin.
Ultimately, what people do does not cause us to loath them. I have known both wives and husbands that have been terribly abused and mistreated by their spouse and yet–the abused still chose to love the abuser. I have even seen an unsaved man continue to live with his and love his spouse who horribly mistreated him, belittled him, threw him out of the house and abused him in every way. I am not encouraging an abused spouse to stay in such a relationship. Nevertheless, I am saying this only to point out the obvious. Whether we love another person or not has far less to do with that other person and far more to do with what is in us. We should not blame the swings of our own emotions, attractions, feelings, and reactions on our spouses. If we love our spouses, we do right. If we allow our minds to loath our spouses, we sin.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love endures all things and thinks no evil. You clearly did not endure all things and certainly thought a lot of evil about your wife. In this we know that you did not love her. You may have had some emotions for your spouse. You made a commitment to her. But something happened to your love for your wife. And lest you think you really loved her, I would challenge you to contemplate what it would be like for Jesus to have the same attitude toward you that you have toward your wife.
I say all of this to encourage you to re-examine what you truly want. If you want Jesus, I can certainly direct you there. But He will demand from you that you change your attitude toward your former wife. If you want to justify your view that your former wife was evil, then I am not sure there is much anyone can do. Like the rich young ruler, this is the thing that is presently keeping you from your goal, and my question to you is whether you are willing to give it up. Are you willing to give up your anger and hostility and negative view toward the wife of your covenant? Are you willing to give up your justifications for your own feelings toward your former wife? How much is Jesus worth to you?
If, after weighing the costs, you want Jesus, then here are the steps I would suggest for you. First, admit that you have sinned against God in loathing your former wife. Be like the Israelites and bring your words before God and say “I have sinned” (Hosea 14:1-2). Then ask God to help you do what is right. And then do it.
I would encourage you to take a sheet of paper and write a letter to your former wife. (If there is a restraining order, then do not send this without first getting it cleared with the proper authorities.) In your letter, do not mention anything negative that your former wife may have done. Rather, in your letter, write simply and sincerely stating that you are deeply sorry for the sadness and sorrow you have brought to her by your sin, your selfishness, and your failure to love her. Tell her that the way you have spoken against her has been a great sin. Tell her that your failure to love her has been a great sin. Tell her that you now realize that the problems in the relationship were your fault. Tell her that you are deeply grieved with how evil you have been to her and that you have sought the forgiveness of God for the deep wounds you have caused. Tell her that you are not seeking any restored relationship with her. Tell her that you only want closure by letting her know that you are truly sorry for the way you treated her, and that you pray that God may be gracious to her and give her some measure of peace for all of the hurt you have caused her. Do not ask her to forgive you. Do not put any request on her. The letter is simply a confession–an acknowledgment of your own grave sin. Do not close your letter with “love.” Simply sign it with your name.
I think there is great value in coming to grips with our own wrong thinking in writing such a letter. I suggest before sending it that you let the pastor of your church read it. If the pastor that opposed your divorce is still around, you might go to him instead and let him give you guidance on the letter. I realize that this will require humility, but God looks kindly on the humble.
I also realize writing such a letter will require a massive shift in thinking in your mind. But if you have acknowledged your sin to God, then this is a situation where your sin against your former wife is known to her and should be dealt with through an apology. Jesus teaches us in Luke 17 that we have a need to repent to the other person in such situations. And, while they should be willing to forgive you, it is not the right of the one who did wrong to demand forgiveness. What we who have done the wrong can do is admit our wrongdoing. It is up to the other person to decide what to do with it.
By moving away from her perceived sin to admitting your own sin and seeing her as a person for whom Christ died and a person to be loved, you will remove the weight that is upon you and open yourself up to the grace of Christ.
I believe that only after changing your view about the situation with your former wife and writing this letter will you be free to move forward with a restored relationship with Christ. You do not see David saying anything about Bathsheba’s evil in Psalm 51. Rather, he freely admits his own sin and gives us an example of what true repentance is like. A broken and repentant heart (a heart that turns to see the situation as God does) is not despised by God.
My heart goes out to you. Difficult is the road that leads to life and few find it (Matthew 7:14). But to those who are willing to beat their breast and confess that they are the sinners who need God’s mercy, there is the hope of life. That is the door through which we all must enter and the path by which we all must live.
I know how difficult it is when you see someone else as evil to change one’s own view of the situation. Let me tell you a true story. I moved to a new city. I heard a radio station that seemed quite blasphemous. I prayed to God to close the station. Within a month the station was closed. Then, my heart was pricked. God answered my prayer, but my prayer had not been right. I saw evil and wanted it shut down. But if God were to shut down all of the evil in the world, He would do the very thing that His longsuffering has not yet allowed Him to do. He is the One who is not willing that any should perish. He came to save sinners. So, if I am to follow in His steps, then when I find a sinner it is my privilege to seek by patient kindness to lead that person to Christ. This is the lesson I learned from that radio station. It was God’s guidance to change my wrong thinking and bring my thinking into line with His salvation purpose on this earth. He did not come to destroy the world, but He came that sinners should be converted to Him. So if we find a sinner, either in our homes, or in our workplaces, or in the world at large, the heart of God is for their redemption. That should be our heart as well. We pray that God will give them repentance to acknowledge the truth and escape from the snare of the enemy (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
My encouragement to you is to choose Christ. Those who seek Him will find Him when they search for Him with all of their hearts. You know your previous thought patterns have not drawn you to God. Repent of them, and ask God to give you His mind. In fact, I would encourage you to make seeking God and transforming your life a priority. Start to memorize His word. Seek actively to change thoughts. Renew your mind (Romans 12:2). Think about good things (Philippians 4:8). And seek to bless others with your words (James 3:9-12; 1 Peter 3:8-9). Learn to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
I realize that reading this will probably be difficult. I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal truth to you and show you the path to eternal life.
One who has been forgiven much,