Calvinist Husbands Need to Shape Up or Be Shipped Out
Written by PPT/TANC Publishing ghostwriter one.
1Corinthians 7:10 – To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Susan and I, for some time, have been presented with opportunities to counsel women married to Calvinists. Not confused Calvinists who are often confused enough to be good guys, but Calvinists that really understand what a Calvinist is and act like one. Nor are we writing about women who are Calvinist queens and couldn’t be happier. Happiness is a good thing; we are called to it. Look, if some gal is happy being married to an ISIS guy, more power to her—life is about choices. Don’t misunderstand me, that is only an analogy; I am not sure, but I don’t think I have ever compared Calvinism to ISIS.
Rather, we are referring to women in marriages where Calvinism is the crux of the issue. In some of these situations, the wife has been brought up on church discipline and declared an unbeliever. That is totally unacceptable, and grounds for immediate biblical divorce. Let me explain.
The thing that I like most about my life is that I am constantly learning, and would like to think that learning is leading to change. Something strange also happens when you are in a learning mode; you are completely comfortable not knowing stuff. If you are in the process of learning, you know what you don’t understand will come into focus eventually. So, we are about to look at 1Corithians 7:10-16, and some of it I understand, and some of it I don’t. This is about what I do understand.
What I do understand came together through these counseling experiences, my recent gig as an HHA, and the word of God. My recent experience as an HHA caused me to take a closer look at 1Corinthians 7:13 in context with the rest of the chapter. In recent history, “’deinstitutionalization,’ the policy of closing state mental institutions,” has led to mental patients being dumped into the realm of HHA care. Hence, HHAs are often saddled unawares, perhaps because of medical disclosure laws, with individuals who would have been institutionalized in the past.
My first two clients where Bipolar ODD/PAPD individuals. That’s Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder. Basically, every minute of the day, anything that involves conversation is a debate. These people suck the peace and civility out of every environment that they enter into. When these people were institutionalized, psych aids could deal with them because they were labeled and everyone understood why they (patient and aid) were in the situation and what needed to be done. The aid could simply ignore their verbal abuse and was not obligated to please them in any way, shape, or form because the institutionalized individual’s rights were taken away.
In context of HHA care, the aid is obligated to please a serial abuser, and their job will probably depend on it. I have already heard the horror stories of young single women suffering the verbal abuse day after day in order to support their children. In my own experience, these people have wreaked havoc on my own personal wellbeing. When you are with these clients, you walk on eggshells the whole day, and any conversation =’s conflict. You don’t sneeze, you don’t yawn, you don’t use their bathroom, you don’t chuckle because of something they are watching on TV, you don’t say that you like their dog, or their cat, everything you say or do is an issue or the rewriting of the Declaration of Independence.
And here now, finally, is my point in context: one such client is a faithful church attender and professing Christian husband married to another professing Christian. I never met her as she works a lot of hours; go figure. Apparently, she found a job as a live-in nanny somewhere. Well, I would imagine. As a professing Christian, is she biblically obligated to remain married to this man? I don’t think she is for four biblical reasons:
- She may treat him as an unbeliever because of his fruit that obviously comes from a bad tree.
- He is only pleased to live with her for unbiblical reasons.
- She is called to peace.
- She does not know for certain that she will ever be able to lead him to the Lord, and is not obligated to sacrifice her call to peace accordingly.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think I have ever compared a Calvinist to someone Bipolar or ODD/PAPD. However, on the flip side, the idea that a spouse who has been brought up on church discipline not having any rights as a spouse does sound familiar.
The windcock of this conversation is verse 13. “If” in this context is a conditional noun used with “and” stating two conditions: an unbelieving spouse that is “pleased”(KJV) to live with a believing spouse. It’s a conditional clause—if the opposite is true, so is the condition, and the imperative. However, in this case, “not enslaved” (v.15) denotes liberty, and not an opposite imperative. Even though the believing spouse is not obligated to remain married to the unbeliever if he/she is not “pleased,” “willing” or “happy” (NET) to live with the believer, divorce is a matter of liberty and not a command. However, if the unbeliever is pleased to live with the believer, he/she “should not divorce.”
“Divorce” is the decision at hand. But, in regard to a decision to stay with the displeased unbeliever, one of the benefits is NOT “the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” While I do not know exactly what this benefit means, I do know that in context it does NOT apply to a displeased unbelieving spouse, but only to a pleased unbelieving spouse. In other words, this benefit will not be reaped by the believing spouse sacrificing the following: “God has called you to peace.” This benefit only takes place in a peaceful situation.
We now hone in on the word, “consent” (ESV). Uh, this kind of puts forth the idea that the unbeliever may agree to live with the believer for a myriad of different reasons and the believer is thereby enslaved to the marriage. In regard to the idea put forth by the word “consent” in context, and in regard to how I have counseled women in the past, I now say, “nope.” This is another thing about learning mode, admitting you were wrong isn’t as hard. Let’s look at the actual word:
4909 syneudokéō (from 4862 /sýn, “identity with” and 2106 /eudokéō, “seems good”) – properly, to consent in a “hearty” (personal) way, in keeping with the close identification involved (note the syn);enthusiastically agree to cooperate with a partner to reach solutions, i.e. to achieve the things both have committed to do together.
This is why the word is often translated “pleased” or “happy” in many English translations. It’s the idea of being in agreement with each other. It has the idea of being happily on the same page regarding life in general. This does not include any sordid reason under the sun that an unbeliever might “consent” to living with a believer.
But, isn’t this qualified by the unbeliever deciding to divorce? “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved.” I believe that “But” marks a contrast and comparison between a qualified situation and the likely mentality of a believer: “If I endeavor to stay with this person no matter what, God can use me to save them.” Paul’s answer to that is, “For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” yes, it could happen, as it did with my grandmother 36 years later, but it’s not guaranteed.
Furthermore, it is very questionable as to whether or not “But” is the actual first word of verse 15 which seems to qualify the deciding factors for verses 12 and 13. In most interlinears, verse 15 abruptly begins with another “If” denoting another situation altogether. This is a situation where the unbeliever is obviously displeased about living with the believer, and decides to divorce or separate. A few English translations note this and leave out “But” in exchange for “Yet” (ERV) and “If” (WNT). The YLT even adds more delineation by adding “And” before “if” in the beginning of the verse. This puts forth the idea of an additional situation altogether rather than further qualifying the previous situations. I believe the YLT has it right.
Now let’s apply this to a situation where a married couple are at doctrinal odds, and the doctrine, in this case, Calvinism has created un-oneness in the marriage. The spouse, in most cases the wife, refuses to submit to the authority of orthodoxy. False doctrine promoted by any group is defined in the Bible as “heresy” or sectarianism; meaning a person or group that divides with false doctrine.
First, the wife is in fact married to an unbeliever because the husband believes a false gospel. Like in all cases, this doesn’t mean she knows his heart for certain, but because he professes a false gospel, she can treat him “like” an unbeliever. In only one of many qualifying examples, authentic Calvinism is almost always part and parcel with the doctrine of double imputation which is a blatant gospel aberration.
Second, especially in cases where the husband has had the wife brought up on church discipline, which isn’t in the Bible to begin with, it is apparent that he is not pleased to live with her. And additionally, in considering the texts used to support a phrase found nowhere in the Bible, “church discipline,” these verses demand a separation of fellowship. Uh, really? While you are still like, married? Does this mean that Matthew 18 is probably not meant to be applied to marriage? Ya think?
Nevertheless, the Calvinist, ie, unbeliever, has in fact left the wife via church discipline because the verses used in the orthodoxy of it, in fact, call for separation and disfellowship. Hence, the Calvinist, ie, unbeliever, is consenting to live with the believing wife who has rejected his false gospel for unwarranted and unbiblical reasons. She is free to divorce him immediately unless he repents posthaste. And additionally, she should take him to the cleaners financially. Well, that might be a little harsh.
However, all in all, the Christian spouse, whether husband or wife, should never violate their conscience if it is not yet at peace with this exegesis. If a spouse then says, “I have been in turmoil and walking on eggshells for _______ years and I am totally at peace with this exegesis,” alrighty then. The Calvinist needs to shape up or be shipped out. You are called to peace, not a false gospel.
Marriage is about oneness, peace, and love—not law.