Physical Healing Vs. Marital Healing

Once I had dinner with a two worship band members, and one of them was in a wheelchair. After we finished, and I drove back to church with my able-bodied friend, he said, “I can’t help but wonder, if we really had enough faith, would our other friend be able to walk?”

Star Trek Wheelchair

My Christian family has no trouble affirming that God can heal our physical bodies. However, at a recent healing-prayer service, one of our pastors reminded us of two principles:

1) All healing is temporary. While Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still died later on. His death does not invalidate his previous healing at all, but rather shows that we still need a savior. Complete healing can only take place in heaven.
2) God heals according to His will. While Paul himself healed many people, he had an illness that was used for God’s glory. Can we say that Paul lacked faith to be healed? Of course not! Hebrews 11 even states that many people did not receive healing, and yet were counted among the heroes of faith.

That’s one reason why I love this video from worship leader Aaron Shust—it affirms faith in God, even when what we pray for doesn’t happen. The song is fabulous, but if you want to watch how the story played out, grab some tissues first.

We can have complete faith that God loves us, regardless of whether or not healing comes. We will all die someday. We can trust that one day He will overcome the sin and death that takes our loved ones from us.

However, if we believe that God is capable of healing, and can still trust God when our physical bodies, or our loved ones’, aren’t healed, why then do some people insist that God heal every marriage?

Last week, I heard the lie repeated that God wants a woman in my church return to her adulterous, cruel husband. Even worse, she was hearing it from her own family.

I can’t understand how a Christian could pressure a heartbroken woman to do this. <cough, JohnFreakingPiper, cough.> Does Jesus want her to get HIV? Should she shake her fist at the mistresses and sing “You ain’t woman enough to take my man?” <cough, Debbie Pearl, cough.> Should she get different lingerie and try a lap-dance? (I kid you not, I HEARD this advice, given at a Christian women’s retreat, with my own ears.) Should she repent of not “servicing” her husband well enough? <cough, Mark Driscoll, cough.>

Wow, I need a throat lozenge.

People who pressure victims simply do not understand the nature of evil. If satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light, why are we shocked when a lying, conniving, demeaning, and promiscuous abuser masquerades as a good Christian?

“Oh, but his ministry blessed me so much! I can’t believe he (or she) could abuse someone!

So what?
Solomon wrote two books of the Bible—can you believe he’d bang seven hundred women later on? David was a man “after God’s own heart”—can you believe he’d kill a man so he could steal his wife? Judas was a disciple of Jesus—can you believe he’d sell out his Lord for a bag of money?

“Oh, but this abusing adulterous douchebag has repented! He’s said he was sorry! He cries every week! We shouldn’t hold his past against him any more than God holds our past against us!”

John the Baptist had some pretty specific things to say about that: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance….and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Yes, I KNOW that was before Jesus died and rose again, so let’s go to the epistles:

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Do you honestly think that a person who faked cheerful Christian smiles while he was in church with you for fifteen years and had three mistresses on the side is being sincere now? He was supposed to have died to sin then, but he didn’t! So how do you know he’s really repented? How can you advise his wife—who knows him better than you do—to take a course of action based on your knowledge of his heart?

Even the most literal reading of the Bible allows divorce for adultery and abandonment. I believe that abuse also constitutes abandonment—abandonment of one’s marriage vows, one’s spouse, and one’s faith—and that therefore Christians of any gender should not be afraid to leave abusive marriages. However, certain authors and pastors have perpetuated the unbiblical doctrine of marital permanence, far above and beyond the Biblical requirements. Those writers are directly affecting the lives of people around me, and they must be held accountable for the fruit of their doctrine.

We do not berate people who are not healed physically, and say they lack faith. Why do we berate victims of abuse and adultery, and pressure them to stay married to a liar? When a member of Christ’s body finds him-or-herself married to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we should protect that person! We should help them all seek safety. Yes, pray for restoration of the marriage, but in the same way we pray for healing—it may happen, or it may not.

11 thoughts on “Physical Healing Vs. Marital Healing

  1. Good thoughts, so sorry to hear that that woman is being told to return to her husband instead of someone standing up to him and telling him to cut it out. 🙁

  2. This seems a little like the purity culture doesn’t it – everyone is so tore up over teen pregnancies/losing virginity/etc that they go to the other extreme on prevention, and other issues are marginalized (people get married way too early, etc). Same way, divorce is awful/messy/broken homes/etc, so we go overboard on making sure it doesn’t happen. Not an entirely misguided intention, until, like purity culture, it causes us to lose sight of the whole picture and abuses are perpetrated under the guise of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    Good thoughts.

  3. this is a great post! … I would just like to add, if I may…

    that I have read about and seen firsthand over the years in various denominations that people with physical & mental illnesses are berated when their healing doesn’t come… they are condemned for lacking faith & for not “praying harder” to be healed or for “having sin in their life” that is preventing it or they are told that if they would have “just gotten right with God” they would have been healed.

    It’s very sad to see “the church” pile guilt on top of suffering…whether it be physical, mental or marital.

    thank you for speaking out against it.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Oh don’t worry, I have a scathing series of blog posts already written for a prominent mental health author about this very issue. 😉 We’ll keep shouting from the rooftops, & bringing light into the darkest corners of the delta quadrant.

  4. I just stumbled upon your website today via Dee Parsons, and would like to say thank you for this article. Certainly wish I had this available to me a long time ago. But thinking about it, I probably would have labeled this advice heretical back then. But thank God, that even in the abuse and adultery, God gave me my mind back, showed me I did indeed have choices, and walked me graciously out into the wide open spaces of grace and peace. Please keep banging your drum, as it will bring freedom to those in chains and it also validates people with stories like mine.
    Walking in grace,

    1. Oh, Karan, praise God for you, and I will keep you in prayer every day. Please keep thinking, asking, seeking, and knocking. <3 And come talk often!

  5. People who pressure victims simply do not understand the nature of evil. If satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light, why are we shocked when a lying, conniving, demeaning, and promiscuous abuser masquerades as a good Christian?

    Successful abusers, pedophiles, sociopaths are masters of camouflage. If they weren’t, they would have been exposed long ago. We just hear about the dumb ones who get caught.

    And they don’t just groom their prey. They also groom third parties as allies and supporters, further isolating the prey so they have nobody to help them. Everyone they could turn to has been gaslighted and pre-groomed to take the abuser’s side.

  6. in situation with all of this right now. NOW. you just put into words what it has taken me so long to figure out. thank you.
    also, I feel like the assumption is “Of course you’ll stay and work on the marriage, but we may understand if you leave,” when in reality, I feel the assumption should be “Of course you need to be apart, but IF you decide to work on it, we will support you.” my most trusted Christian friends have said the second to me. but the first is what I feel/hear the most. it is SO confusing…as if you have to suspend logic to be in church. it has really made me wonder how god feels about me. that is scary.
    also I wish my name was Headless Unicorn Guy

    1. Chatterbox, I don’t know how you found us, but I’m glad you did. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Are you okay? Do you need help? We have a big community in the “Spiritual Abuse Blogging Network”, and it’s possible we can connect you with people if you need help. <3

      1. thank you! i will find you. i have lots of good people around right now thank goodness and am safe, but it has been a process of weeding through confusing messages from church, self, husband. im sure process isnt over.

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