This morning I was listening to K-Love Radio while driving. They had a caller giving a testimony of God miraculously reconciling him with his estranged wife. He stated they had been moving toward divorce, each side had attorneys involved, and he had already purchased another residence. Then, the morning of Sunday, February 14, St. Valentine’s Day, he and his wife happened to arrive at the church doors at the same moment. They were both overcome with emotion. They both said they needed to find a way to make their marriage work, and his wife sat beside him, in the seat he had been reserving for her each week.
Further interview questions revealed that neither party has yet apologized for anything, but they have both committed to seek counseling in their church for healing of their marriage and working past their issues.
The interview ended with cheerful congratulations and encouragement, “You’re doing the right thing,” followed by an exhortation, “We have to remember our spouse is not our enemy. Even though it may sometimes seem like it, our spouse is never our enemy.”
Great praise story, right? Classic example of a couple struggling with commitments until God unexpectedly intervened, right? Every reason for congratulations and best wishes…no cause for cynicism or doubting, right?And yet…doubt I do. Not just this story, but so many similar stories with fairy-tale-like endings... Click To Tweet
…whether I say anything or not, in my heart I wonder and pray.
I know how easy it is to get swept up in emotions, especially on Valentine’s Day, and how difficult it is to complete the hard work of reconciliation. More than that, I know how little control either individual has over the outcome of relational issues. It takes two committed hearts working toward a common goal to build a marriage, but it only takes one hard heart to destroy a marriage.
Please don’t misunderstand. I firmly believe in God’s desire and ability to heal broken hearts and broken relationships. And I firmly believe in God’s ability to perform mighty miracles. I’ve seen His miraculous power first-hand.Yet, in listening to this account, there were little tells that left me wondering… Click To Tweet
The fact that it was such an emotional instantaneous decision on St. Valentine’s Day…a day when emotions are likely to run high for divorcing couples. The fact that they ‘just happened’ to both arrive at the church doors simultaneously…coincidence or contrivance? The fact that neither party has yet apologized for anything…how serious can the reconciliation be with no discussion of issues and no repentance of wrongs?
Perhaps the brightest flag was his reference to saving a seat for his wife each Sunday…while actively pursuing divorce and purchasing another residence. That’s not normal behavior. One doesn’t come to church each week with sincere expectation of reconciliation while actively pursuing divorce every other day of the week. So, why the behavior discontinuity? One possibility (the one he seems to want us to believe) is that he was simply overcommitted in a relationship to a spouse who had no interest in reconciling. BUT, the reserved seat seems a bit too showy for that level of sincerity…especially given how he slid that into the conversation to make sure we, the listening audience, all knew how gratuitous he was in his weekly seat saving.
No, to me, the saved seat comes across as being done largely for appearances…as a manipulation tool to influence the opinions of others. In fact, it would be a classic abuser move, designed to jab guilt toward his victim while simultaneously eliciting compassion from the rest of the church (poor guy must be heart-broken…just look how he saves her a seat every week).
If we assume the saved seat was manipulation, we can also see how easily he could arrange to ‘coincidentally’ arrive at the church doors the exact same time as his wife on St. Valentine’s Sunday…knowing she would be particularly vulnerable on that day.
Then, for the ‘coupe de grace,’ call K-Love Radio first thing Monday morning, announcing the recommitment to the world while simultaneously giving God the ‘glory’ for the success of his manipulative scheme. That publicly commits his wife whether she was ready or not, and by giving credit to God he projects the perception that to back out would be to act directly against God’s will.
Do you see how slickly that could be pulled off?
Now, you may be thinking I’m reading an awful lot into a few words…and you would be right. The truth could be much more innocently naïve and much less malicious in nature.
Some would say I’m being cynical…that I’ve allowed my life experiences to make me too negative…too unbelieving. I would say through my life experiences I have gained wisdom and discernment.
While I don’t know the truth of this specific situation, I do know the more sinister version is too often the reality. And I do know Christians, in general, are often all too gullible and all too blind to evil. Too often, we naively assume every marriage is worth saving, despite clear evidence to the contrary. And that simple false assumption plays directly into the abuser’s manipulative schemes…duping good Christian people into believing the abuser is a saint while his victim is in need of repentance.
I’m not sure how I would have handled the caller if I had been with the K-Love team. But I can tell you for sure I would not have affirmed to him he was ‘doing the right thing’ when there is a distinct possibility he may be doing great evil. And I absolutely would not have said “Our spouse is never our enemy,” because I know sometimes a spouse is a great enemy indeed.