Unasked and unanswered questions

A person asks the question on a forum “Is God telling me to divorce my husband?”  They explain that they struggle with anxiety, that they had used pornography but that they had repented, their husband had forgiven them and their relationship was on the mend. However, they wondered if God was still telling them to divorce.

How would you advise?

Most people were quick to leap in and say “No, you should not divorce. Your husband has forgiven you. You’ve stopped sinning.”

I wonder if they might have been missing something. You see. Whilst the correct answer may still be “No you shouldn’t get divorced.”  I felt that the assumption was that everything to be told had been told. But had it? I wondered if the pornography was the “got you!” moment when blame could be pinned on her. I wondered if we weren’t in a “woman caught in adultery” moment.

It may well be that the husband is blameless. It may be that he has remained consistently reassuring to a wife who struggles emotionally and had found other outlets. It may be that this is all that there is to tell but what if some more questions had been asked.

  1. What was the nature of the pornography? What if it was same-sex material and we had someone struggling with their sexuality. And yes, for the record my answer would still be “no you should not divorce.” But this would be something major for the couple to deal with and they’ll need a lot more help than “Just get on with things.”
  2. Why did you start looking at it?  What if she answers and says that she was looking for an escape? Her husband had failed to show her any affection in years. What if he was often absent at night?  What if she was in fact the victim of abuse?

Of course, a discussion board is not the place to go into these things -and maybe those answering just assumed that they would be covered elsewhere. Mind you, the fact that the person was asking on the internet board rather than talking it through with their pastor or a marriage counsellor may itself raise more questions. 

Now, I am not suggesting at this stage that the actual answer about divorce will change. However, what we need to be alert to is that if we just quickly answer the presenting question, we may miss the opportunity to talk about what is really going on. The point is that this should be a helpful reminder not to just leap in with our good advice without first asking a few more questions and making sure we’ve got the full picture.

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