“Let Not The Wife Depart From Her Husband”

Inquiry

Sir,

A firm conviction of your superior judgment induces me to ask you to give, according to Scripture, your views on 1 Corinthians 7:10, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.”

Is a wife under circumstances peculiarly trying to live with a husband, I mean when her life is in danger?

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Answer

In giving our opinion on any point of “Inquiry,” let no one think that we do so in a dictatorial, dogmatic, or self-exalting spirit.

If a question be asked us, and we think we can answer it in a simple, scriptural, unobtrusive manner, we feel free to do so. We merely give an opinion on the subject.

That opinion may be worthless, or otherwise; but let it be weighed in the balance of the Sanctuary, and examined by the light of the Scriptures, the teaching of the Spirit in the heart, and the dictates of a conscience made tender in God’s fear. If it agree with the verdict of this unerring jury, let it be received; if not, let it be at once rejected.

We feel ourselves bound to serve the church of God. Whatever light, or knowledge, or wisdom, natural or spiritual, we may possess, and we possess but little, we freely give it to our readers; and if we can in any way help them forward in the kingdom of God, strengthen any weak hands, confirm any feeble knees, instruct any that are ignorant, or comfort any that are cast down, we have all we want.

Let no one, then, think, that by endeavouring to answer any question, we arrogate to ourselves any claim to superior wisdom, or constitute ourselves a dictator to the church of God.

Our feeling is to be least and lowest among the servants of God; but if we can be of any use to any of the redeemed, we count that our highest honour, and our best employ.

The tie of marriage is of the strongest possible kind, and almost anything is to be endured to keep that tie unbroken. So far from grace relaxing that tie, it, if possible, binds it still more strongly, for it adds the precepts of the Gospel, and the teaching of the blessed Spirit to the injunctions of the law, human and divine.

The apostle, in the passage quoted above, gave judgment on a most important case; and he expressly declares, “But the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord; Let not the wife depart from her husband.”

The husband in this case is an unbeliever, and, in those times, an idolater. He might be a persecutor and a blasphemer; but he was her husband still, and she was not to leave him, but live with him.

We may safely conclude, therefore, that nothing can warrant a believing wife leaving her unbelieving husband, and vice versa, but such things as render it impossible for them to live together. It is not disparity of age, or badness of temper, or difference of opinions, or fixed dislike, or discovery of hypocrisy, or wasteful extravagance, or loose, idle habits; no, nor drunkenness and abuse, or even a blow, which should make a woman leave her husband; and, in a similar way, a husband is bound not to leave his wife, as, if possible, he is tied to her more than she to him, from her being the weaker vessel, and more dependent on him than he on her.

We can only, then, conceive two cases which would warrant a wife’s leaving her husband.

1. If he be abandoned to the vilest profligacy. He may be unfaithful to her, but unless sunk in shameless profligacy, we do not think even that a sufficient cause for her leaving him. But if he bring prostitutes to his house, live in shameless adultery with the servant under her own roof, or by his base conduct entail on her personal suffering, we think she may, after every exertion made to reclaim him, leave him; but even then, not fully, nor finally, but be willing to return and forgive him, if he be really reclaimed from his base ways, and is desirous for her to come back.

2. The other case is violence pushed to the edge of cruelty and endangered life. A thorough brute must a man be to strike his wife! but many such brutes there are in this wretched world. But it is not one, or two, or twenty blows, which should drive a woman from her husband’s house. He may be dreadfully passionate, and she very teasing, and what is called “aggravating.” But it is not one quarrel, nor twenty quarrels, nor even, if the fist decide the battle, that will warrant a Christian woman leaving her husband.

Where, however, there is a continued course of cruelty, an attempt made upon life or limb, and from abandoned drunkenness, or insanity, the woman’s life is really in danger, and she cannot procure protection from the law, or any other quarter, then, we think, she may leave her husband; for who can counsel her to stay to be murdered, or who would not have much cause for self-reflection, if he advised a woman, under circumstances where her life was in danger, not to flee, and the next day brought him word she was found a lifeless corpse by her husband’s hand?

Many Christian wives have grievous trials with their husbands. If any such read our pages, let us drop a friendly word of counsel for them.

Remember, Christian woman, he is thy husband, the father of thy children, and once, if not now, the object of thy tender affection.

Art not thou, then, called by every consideration to bear with him to the utmost of thy power?

If you leave him you probably cannot take the children with you; and how are they likely, if young, to be treated by their cruel father; or, if older, how liable to be corrupted and ruined by his example!

You are bound, therefore, to do what you can to bear with him for their sakes. And think also what a poor, lonely woman you will be away from your own home; how friendless, and perhaps destitute; how exposed to temptation and suspicion!

And not being certain that you are doing God’s will in leaving your husband, how you may be tossed up and down in your own mind. But, on the other hand, if you do all you can to bear and forbear, you have the Lord’s promises on your side, and may often be supported and blessed by his presence and smile. Many a persecuting husband has been called by grace, and the meek Christian conduct and deportment of his wife has been the instrument employed, being “won,” as the apostle speaks, “without the word, by the conversation of the wife.” And should this be your happy case, you will bless the grace that enabled you to bear with him when you see your husband’s soul saved.

By J.C. Philpot

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