I know a woman who married for complex reasons: Her sordid past made her fearful and distrustful—of herself most of all. She met a man who was strong and committed to the faith she had recently discovered. A godsend! Or that’s what she told herself, even when she questioned some of his demands. But perhaps that was her fault; she had tons of sin to purge.
Soon enough, though, she began to wonder if this was what Jesus meant by “abundant life.” None of the churches they visited lived up to her husband’s standards, so they began “meeting” at home, as a congregation of two. He did most of the talking. The hothouse atmosphere produced strange fruit, and she couldn’t help noticing that while he zealously corrected her faults, he seemed blind to his own. As her loneliness intensified, so did her doubts—about him and about her own judgment. He began dictating how to dress and what to read and whom to befriend, backing himself up with Bible verses. They could scarcely have a conversation anymore; even the most trivial subjects led to lectures or arguments. Her heart shriveled, and thoughts of getting away devoured thoughts of pleasing him.
Finally she turned to the elders of her former church. After prayer and further counsel, they advised her to separate. The marriage died, but her faith survived.
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