Frequently Asked Questions
As we trust God to reconcile and heal our marriage relationships, we all face common questions or situations. The questions below provide a perspective that others have received from the Lord through His Word.
1. Why do some stands take so long?
When we begin to trust God to heal our marriage, our focus is on the relationship. Often, God has a much bigger plan for restoration than we realize.
Joseph went to Egypt as a slave and was put into prison. (Genesis Chapters 37-40) God did not rescue him from this injustice immediately. Joseph went through a period of training and development. Eventually, God used the situation to save all of Joseph’s family.
The walk of faith and the relationship with Christ that develop during a lengthy stand build patience, endurance and other qualities God uses throughout our lifetime, as well as when our mates return.2. I have been divorced several times. Will God heal only the first marriage?
God’s perfect will is that the first marriage endure. However, because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), many first and second marriages end in divorce. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover the sin of divorce when a covenant is broken by both parties and they have married again. When true repentance takes place, God’s forgiveness and mercy is available.
Sin in any area of our life deadens sensitivity to God in that area. Sin makes it hard to listen to God and hear His voice. The good news is that through Jesus, we can have forgiveness from sin and restored fellowship with the Father. (1John 1:9)
The Bible calls divorce a sin and remarriage an act of adultery. (See Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Luke 16:18 and Romans 7:3) If you have not repented for your divorce, remarriage, or for marrying a divorced person, then you will not hear clearly from God on this issue.
Another important area to consider in seeking God’s direction is whether a mate from a previous marriage remains unmarried because they do not want to violate God’s Word. They may, in fact, be standing for restoration of their covenant with you.
If your former mate is not standing, and you have repented for the part you played in the divorce, God is able to bless this second marriage you have entered into. However, the suffering and hurt that a marriage partner and children from a previous marriage experience mean they will still need God’s healing touch.
When we honestly confront, confess and repent of sins, and seek the Lord, He gives wisdom, guidance and grace to walk in His will. His Word and the Holy Spirit lead us in His perfect path, and we can know with certainty His best for reconciling and healing our marriage.
3. My husband is a non-believer and is in adultery. Doesn’t scripture tell me to let him go? Does this free me from my marriage vows?
Some Christians use 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 in this situation. This passage directs us to allow the mate to leave the home so we can operate in peace. We do not manipulate or try to keep them physically or legally from leaving. This is quite different from breaking a covenant through divorce.
“If a wife should leave her husband, she must either remain single or else come back and make things right with him. And a husband has no right to get rid of his wife. On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God. And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don’t think I’m being harder on you than on others. I give this counsel in all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 7:10,11,15-17 The Message)
Our goal is not just to keep a marriage together. Instead, it is to bring healing to the relationship so it can operate as God planned.
For most Bible scholars, the marital unfaithfulness “exception clause” found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 refers to unfaithfulness during the engagement period prior to consumating a marriage. In Jewish society, a formal divorce was needed even when the marriage was not completed. Mary and Joseph’s situation (Matthew 1:18-25) was a valid “exception clause” reason to divorce and was why Joseph considered it before the angel spoke to him. In addition, the exception clause also refers to divorce after the marriage night if the bride was discovered not to be a virgin.
Many Christians use the exception clause as an excuse or justification when they have hardened their hearts. Jesus referred to this condition in Mark 10:2-9. Christ tells us not to put asunder marriage, and He gives us the provision to carry out this command. Behind every broken marriage is a heart hardened against God, then hardened against a mate.
Hosea was God’s prophet and obedient to the Lord. Despite his wife Gomer’s adultery before and during their marriage, Hosea maintained a sensitive heart and followed God’s best by keeping covenant in spite of Gomer’s continued infidelity. Eventually, their marriage was restored and healed.
In Romans 7:4-6 we find that, despite our fallen nature, we are “married to Christ” so that we can experience forgiveness and a new life. This developmental process can in turn extend to our covenant mates so they too can bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
4. My husband and I were not born again when we were married. Did we ever have a covenent?
Scripture is clear that marriage is God’s system and is a covenant relationship. Marriage is God’s first holy institution. According to Malachi 2:14, God is always a witness at a marriage, whether the participants are believers or not. Verse 15 of the same chapter tells us that God puts into each marriage a bit of Himself, a “remnant (or breath) of His Spirit.”
When a believer marries an unbeliever, according to 1 Corinthians 6:14 they are unequally yoked. But with repentance comes forgiveness, and we serve a God of mercy who heals and restores. If as a believer you married a non-believer, ask and receive God’s forgiveness and be assured He will work on your behalf.
Although God is a witness to marriage, if He is only a witness and does not live within either partner, it is only a man-made covenant. However, even covenants made by men are still subject to all God’s principles.
Matthew 19:6, “What God hath joined together…,” applies not only to those He has chosen as marriage partners for each other, but to any couple. Even if couples are not born-again when they marry, they have chosen God’s plan for man and woman. When they wed they are joined together in God’s system of marriage. Although seeking God for a spouse is best, only a few couples know that they were called to marry each other. Even when God is not consulted before people enter into a covenent, the covenant must nevertheless be honored.
In Joshua 9:3-20 a covenant was entered with deceit and without consulting God. Yet God required that covenant be honored. He expects no less of our marriages, even if circumstances do not measure up to His best. For example, after marrying, if a person finds that their mate concealed homosexual behavior, that does not nullify the covenant, even though deceit was involved.
With God, covenant is an unchangeable commitment, not a contract that can be broken. God is our source of strength, enabling us to keep covenant. Marriage without God is only a covenant between men, but when God is present in the life of at least one of the mates, covenant takes on a new dimension. God is not just a witness, He is also a partner in the marriage covenant. All His resources and power become available to bring restoration and reconciliation.
5. My spouse has remarried. Does scripture tell me that taking him or her back is wrong?
The Bible gives several examples of taking back covenant wives or husbands after they were involved in other relationships or marriages. King David was a covenant keeper and his wife Michal was restored to him despite an interim marriage (See 2 Samuel 3:13-16). The last two chapters of Ezra give another example of reconcilation when children were born into the marriage. At least 113 non-covenant marriages were ended so that the mates could return to prior covenant marriages. (Ezra 9:1-10:44)
Remember that individuals and children involved in non-covenant relationships are important and precious in the Lord’s eyes. Hager and Ishmael were sent out from Abraham because they were not part of his covenant family (see Genesis 21:9-21). Yet, God’s angel was with them, and God blessed Ishmael, making him the father of a large nation. Following this example, we should pray for God’s provision and blessing for those involved in non-covenant relationships with our mates.
Christians who oppose reconciliation after interim marriages usually refer to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In this passage, it appears that neither party kept covenant. One forced the divorce and the other remarried.
The Deuteronomy passage is quite well explained in context in the cross reference of Jeremiah 3:1 through 4:4. It is God’s heart and plan to stand for the adulterous nations of Israel and Judah, calling and wooing them back to Himself. He is our example of the ultimate Covenant Keeper.
For further information, order the audio tape entitled “Non-Covenant Marriage” by Marilyn Conrad, available through our tape and book catalog.
6. The Bible refers to adulterers as aliens in Proverbs 5 (NAS). My spouse is in adultery with another person. Why shouldn’t I refer to this person as an alien.
This is a good example of using scripture to back something we do or say when our heart’s intent may not be right. Remember, God looks upon our hearts, and He is more concerned with our motives than whether or not we are scripturally correct.
When Covenant Keepers began, we used the term alien to describe a person with whom our mates were in adultery. However, the Lord dealt with me about using that word. He asked me to look at my heart. Was there unforgiveness and bitterness toward that person? If so, it could be heard in my voice and perceived by others.
The term alien carries a negative connotation. One covenant keeper’s son was upset when he overheard him mention the alien’s home. To the child, it meant something awful from outer space!
I listened to the testimony of a couple with a healed marriage. In talking about the non-covenant person, they used the word alien. They did not condemn or judge and had no bitterness or unforgiveness in their voices. However, I wondered if perhaps other listeners, those still not healed and walking in unforgiveness, anger and hatred, would feel justified in using the term alien and the intent of their hearts would not be right. Therefore, it is best to avoid using such terms.
Others may misunderstand us and erect walls, making it difficult for them to hear what we have to say. A final reason for not using the term alien is that cults use this terminology, and we certainly want to avoid something of this nature. Bottom line? What would Jesus do and say? Would He use such terminology? Our ministry describes people in this situation with the word non-covenant.
7. My prayer partner says God released her from her stand and she married someone else. How should I respond?
When people faint (Galatians 6:9) and stop standing for the healing of their marriages, it is difficult for us to understand. However, we need to forgive them and walk in love toward them. It is only by God’s grace that we do not give up; therefore, we are not to judge others who do.
This does not mean that we are in agreement with what they are doing. How we treat the situation also affects our own stands. Many individuals have said that God released them and brought someone else to them. In such cases we are to pray and to love those involved, not criticize, judge or talk about them. The principle of sowing and reaping is in effect. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Be sure to sow love.
Naturally we are saddened. However, we base our stand on God’s Word, not on what others do. God does not state in His Word that He agrees with divorce or that the healing of the mariage is impossible. He states that He hates marital separation and divorce; so why would He sanction divorce to bring in another mate? We are to love our mates and be there for them if they want to return.
Our attitude should be one of forgiveness and love toward someone who faints. This includes not gossiping about them or running them down.
The healing of our spouses, marriages, families and ourselves is one of the greatest things we will ever see. These healings have such profound value that we cannot afford to consider letting the enemy steal them.
8. I want to date while standing for my marriage. There’s nothing wrong with going out with a friend, is there? After all, I am divorced and God doesn’t want me to just sit around.
The healthy thing, spiritually and emotionally, is to spend the time apart from your mate getting healed of rejection, unforgiveness and bitterness and letting God heal your broken heart. Use this time to allow God to heal you in all areas: emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially and physically. We need to be strong, healthy people when our mates return. In most cases, they will return to strength but not to weakness.
Dating while saying you want your marriage healed is double-mindedness. The Word says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways and receives nothing from the Lord (James 1:5-8). If we date we open ourselves for development of an intimate relationship and deception. The Bible says, “Make no provision for the flesh.” (Romans 13:14) Because of hurts and emotional needs we are vulnerable to an involvement with someone else.
Furthermore, if we are holding our marriage covenant, we must be true to that commitment. Someone has compared our situations to wartime. We are battling for our marriages, and our mates have been captured; we are fighting the enemy for their release (Ephesians 6:12). In actual war, if our mates were captured, we would remain true to our marriage vows. We would not think of dating because we are lonely or because we miss them. The same is true in spiritual battles for our mates. When deciding to participate in any event or friendship, ask yourself, “If my mate were at home with me in a healthy marriage, would I do this?” We are to conduct our lives as faithful mates.
9. Since my mate and I are in covenant, is it wrong for us to continue to sleep together, even when we are divorced?
God’s Word tells us that we are to obey the laws of the land, and legally you are divorced. The divorce decree does not break your covenant, but it does prohibit certain privileges; having sex is one of these. If a person is deceived in this area, it opens the door for more deception in other areas.
Some say, “We confess scripture about our mates desiring us, so why deny them?” One reason is that there is no commitment involved. Renewal of the marriage vows is a statement of commitment to each other and to the covenant. Some covenant keepers have used sex as a tool to keep their mate in the relationship. It is important to understand that the marriage and relationship will only be as strong as the tools used. As covenant keepers, we need to use tools that are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and restoring through the power of Christ. (See Ephesians 4:17-24 and 6:10-13)
If you have separated for any length of time but not divorced, you need to pray and ask God about continuing the sexual relationship.
One covenant keeper who was separated from her mate continued to sleep with him when he visited. After two years her pastor and elders visited her with a word from the Lord concerning this area. At first, she did not receive it but did agree to seek the Lord. God spoke to her and she ended the sexual relationship with her mate. As a result, she experienced healing and a release from bondage that she had not realized existed. Today, her marriage is well on the way to reconciliation as God brings healing both to her and her husband.
10. Friends make comments like, “Put your mate on the altar and go on with your life;” “Your mate has a free will;” and “God never takes anything away without providing something even better.” How should I respond to comments like these?
Many friends act out of compassion when they encourage you to “go on with your life.” Encouragement to find someone else is misguided, but there is truth about releasing your mate to God and strengthening your walk with Him rather than remaining mired in misery.
When Abraham stopped trying to fulfill his covenant with God and released it by being obedient and placing Isaac on the altar, he began to walk in the blessing and provision of the Lord. (Genesis 22)
We need to let go of our mates and put them on the altar so God can work His will and purpose in their lives. We do not stop praying, confessing the Word or doing spiritual warfare on their behalf. It simply means we let God move while allowing Him to work in our own life. The result will be peace. We must not mistake this peace as God releasing us from our stand. We simply enter into the believer’s rest that comes from taking our hands off the situation and releasing it to God.
It is true that God respects freedom of choice. It is also true that Satan does not. As a result, we should intercede for our mates so that the Lord will bring provision and people across their path that will lead them to choose God’s best.
The best response to such comments is not to reject what they say, but rather to acknowledge with gratitude their care and concern for you. The daily demonstration of God’s grace as you walk this out in your life will do more to teach your friends about God’s covenant love and His will toward marriage healing than any verses you could use to “prove” your position.
11. A friend who attends another church told me that Covenant Keepers practices witchcraft because we use the Bible to manipulate mates to return. I know that we do pray scriptures, so how should I respond?
This misconception comes from not understanding what Covenant Keepers is doing in relation to 1 Corinthians 7:15. This verse states, “But if the unbelieving partner [actually] leaves, let him do so; in such [cases the remaining] brother or sister is not morally bound. But God has called us to peace.” (Amplified Bible)
Yes, we do let them go; however, that does not mean that we divorce them or turn our backs on them. In Matthew 18:22-25 Jesus told Peter that he was to forgive his brother up to seventy times seven. He then told of a servant who, forgiven a huge debt, refused to forgive a fellow servant a very insignificant debt.
We are told in Colossians 3:13 AMP, “Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].”
We have the right and privilege to pray for their salvation and to love them with the love of Christ. Romans 12:18 states that we are to live at peace as much as possible. We accomplish this when we forgive and pray for them. When we pray, we should pray the Word of God and Godly qualities for them.
Romans 14:19 tells us to aim for and pursue harmony and mutual upbuilding of one another. We need to earnestly seek God for guidance and wisdom on how to pray for and interact with our spouses. You pray the Word for your believing or unbelieving mate “so that He might sanctify her (him), having cleansed her (him) by the washing of the water with the Word.” (Ephesians 5:26) By praying the Word and positive prayers, we lift up our spouses and desire only good things for them.
We can get into witchcraft if we pray negative (bad and destructive) things for our mates (such as praying for accidents or the death of one’s spouse or another person involved with the spouse). Covenant Keepers only stresses and encourages the praying of the Word and positive qualities for our spouses.
12. I want my marriage healed, but my situation is overwhelming. I’m raising children alone. I’m not receiving enough financial support. Christian friends and family oppose my stand. I have disputes with my mate and physical problems due to excess stress. How can I keep on living like this?
Situations are subject to change because of our hope and faith in Jesus according to 2 Corinthians 4:18. Our faith is not in our mates or circumstances, but in a redeeming Christ who intercedes before God day and night for us and our requests.
Until changes in your situation occur, God gives you sufficent grace (strength and ability to do His will) to overcome weaknesses and He provides for your needs.
Allow God to use circumstances to develop and strengthen your faith. Faith grows (just as muscles) through exercise. Your spiritual exercise will involve fasting, praying and the necessary spiritual warfare.
Believe that God loves you, is present with you, and delivers you (Psalm 41:1-3). Ask God for a prayer partner or a Covenant Keeper group to support your stand.
Expect God to be the special father or parent that your children need (see Isaiah 54:13).
In disputes, claim Isaiah 54:17 (Amplified Bible). In the depths of financial need, follow God’s plan for your provision by planting seed into God’s kingdom for a financial harvest through tithes and offerings.
One of Satan’s schemes is to weary you and scatter your focus. By fragmenting your attention with circumstances and activities, he tries to overload you. Cut back on nonessential involvements and spend time with the Lord. Limit activities to those that encourage and strengthen your stand. Choose wisely the words you speak about your situation. Stand on God’s promises no matter what the circumstances, and you will know the final outcome.
13. I want to have my marriage healed, so what should I do about legal proceedings?
It is comforting to know in the midst of legal decisions that we do have an advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1). It is also comforting to know that we have wisdom for the asking and the presence of the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) with us (John 14:16-17, 26).
There are two root causes of disputes. In the spirit realm, Satan brings attacks (Ephesians 6:12). Satan loves to bring disputes and also brings assignments against us. Our mates cannot be a root cause because they are flesh and blood! In the natural, man’s selfishness is also a root cause (2 Timothy 3:2-4).
If there is abuse, ask God to show any area in your life that triggers this abuse from your mate. Your attitude and motives are keys in determining any legal action or response. If you or your children face danger from physical or verbal abuse, it may necessitate a restraining order or separation for protection. This is a time to heal, to receive direction from God, and to do spiritual warfare.
Many Christians are uncomfortable working with lawyers. They are unfamiliar with the court system and are unaware of the steps to take to select a lawyer or even if they need legal assistance.
Do not be pressured to hire a lawyer until you have sought the Lord. There is sufficent time to determine if you need an attorney and to find the one that the Lord would have represent you. While it is wonderful to have an attorney who can pray with you, it is more important to have the one God wants to represent you, than choosing the one solely on the basis that he/she happens to be a Christian.
You are not obligated to follow the advice of your attorney. Remember, they work for you and their duty is to provide legal services that will best obtain your desires and wishes.
Spiritual warfare is vital before making any court appearances or making important decisions. Remember, God is our source and our defender. (Colossians 2:10 TLB and Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP)
14. Do we allow our mates to return home before they are born again? Won’t they just leave again?
The condition of our mates when they return home is up to God. Whether they are saved and serving Him or have repented for the pain caused to the family is up to God. Restoration and healing is a progressive process and depends on the individuals. Only God knows the environment that will best facilitate healing. If a mate decides to return home but is not open to getting help, sometimes they do leave again. It is very important to pray and hear from the Lord about the timing.
In talking with covenant keepers who have had a mate return but leave again, we have found a common theme. Usually the covenant keeper stopped praying, doing spiritual warfare, and walking in love.
If God allows a mate to return in a broken, unsaved state, God knows you can handle it. He promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that you will not be tempted beyond you are able. You may not feel you are able, but His grace will be sufficient for you.
Loving your mate unconditionally, being supportive, and practicing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 are most essential. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 1 Peter 4:8 (AMP) reads, Above all things, have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins, forgives and disregards the offenses of others.” 1 Peter 3:1 states the godly character of a wife may win her husband without a word. The love of Jesus is what your unsaved mate hungers after, and they will be drawn to Jesus by this kind of love.
When there is divorce, many times the commitment to the remarriage is stronger than if there has just been a separation. Often, premarital counseling is required by the minister performing the ceremony, and salvation will be taken care of during the counseling.
When there has been a divorce, there is more leverage because the mate cannot just move back home. There must be communication before a remarriage takes place.
One covenant keeper said her husband was saved five years after he returned home. However, he never asked for forgiveness for the pain he had caused her and their children when he left them. Only after attending a Promise Keepers meeting with the men from his church did he come into understanding of the necessity of asking his wife’s forgiveness. If we will be patient and continue to walk in love, God will work on our mate’s heart and not only save them, but bring them to true repentance.
An excellent source of information on this topic is the book "After the Prodigal Returns" and the tape set “Keys to Marriage Healing and Growth.” Both are available from Covenant Keepers.
15. I’ve been standing for five years and I feel like I hurt as much today as the day my mate left me. Why do you tell me to examine myself when he has obviously committed the greater wrong?
Continuing hurt most often stems from continuing unforgiveness. This unforgiveness may have developed into deep resentment or a root of bitterness. When we release our bitter root judgement against our mates, our own hurts can heal. When we release any unforgiveness or judgement toward our mate, we will see that God’s Spirit can reach them more easily with conviction of sin in their lives.
We need to forgive our mates frequently, even every five minutes, until we become quite skilled and prompt to do so. The way to develop an attitude of forgiveness is to study and meditate on scripture verses about forgiveness and gain awareness of what it cost the Father to forgive us.
We should ask the Holy Spirit to minister to us about forgiveness and to teach us every day as we study the Bible on this area. As we foster forgiveness within ourselves, we will be freed from assignments that torment our souls (mind, will and emotions), causing us to hurt.
As we intercede regularly for our mates and anyone with whom they may be involved, we will begin to feel the same compassion that our Lord Jesus and Stephen, the first Christian martyr, felt while they were dying at the hands of others. They each prayed, asking the Father to forgive the people and not hold this sin against those who killed them.
In addition to walking in love and overcoming evil with love, to stop hurting we need victory in our thoughts. Three things will help us to accomplish this. First, we must refuse to let our minds dwell on negative imaginations. Second, we must provide refuge for our minds by communing with Jesus. And third, we need to restrict Satan’s activity with the process of binding and loosing. To help us stabilize our minds, we need to find godly friends who are in agreement with us and God to accomplish His will in bringing reconciliation and healing to our marriage.
Covenant Keepers offers three excellent CD / tape sets: Been There—Done That, Volumes 1, 2 & 3. Each set contains six CDs (also available in audio tapes) with testimonies and insights from couples with healed marriages. See our product page.