EMAIL ADVICE: Should a Christian pursue unpaid alimony?
This is an "Email Advice" post...
I often receive emails that ask for my advice. When it feels that the things the Lord gives me to say in response to these requests could be helpful for others, I post the question (anonymously) and my responses here. May God use them for His glory and the equipping of His people.
I have a question regarding my situtation. I am divorced and am supposed to be receiving agreed upon alimony, approved by the court in the divorce settlement. But my ex-husband is not paying.
I understand this is a consequence of my sin of not staying married. I have some people in my life who are advising me to retain an attorney and pursue the legally required alimony from my ex-husband.
I have also received counsel to use this as a time to deepen my trust and relationship with God, which I am doing. When I read scripture, He gives me verses of trusting Him, waiting upon Him, not taking matter to court, and forgiving debts.
I’m not sure if I should pursue this legally.
I realize you don’t have all the information but would value any biblical insight and principles you might have.
I’m sorry to hear about the difficult situation you find yourself in but am encouraged that the MM has been and continues to be a help to you.
You are correct, there is a lot of information I don’t know regarding your situation, so it makes it difficult for me to comment in a knowledgeable way. But I’ll offer a few, more general items…
1) Your divorce may NOT be a sin if your husband was guilty of unfaithfulness (Matthew 5:32). You also did not mention if your former husband is a believer in Christ or not. If he is an unbeliever and did not want to remain married to you, you also are free to be divorced (1 Corinthians 7:13-15). If either of those are the case, you should not burden yourself with the belief that you are experiencing the consequences of your sin… because no sin on your part was committed.
If he is a believer and you divorced him without biblical reason, you should confess that wrong to the Lord and receive his forgiveness and cleansing. You are right, in a situation like this, there may still be consequences to bear, but you can bear them with Jesus’ strength and help.
2) Regardless what you do in terms of the legal issues, I agree with the counsel you’ve received that you should use this as a time to grow in trust of our heavenly Father and to draw near to Him. Every difficulty is designed by God or this purpose. Don’t waste the opportunity by fearing, fretting, or worrying. Press into your Father in faith.
3) The biblical teaching about going to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-20) is only related to one believer in Christ taking another believer in Christ to court, and unbelievers are asked to make a judgment about the matter. If your husband is an unbeliever, this passage is not applicable. If he is a believer, then you should seek the help of church leaders to approach him about doing what is right to fulfill his obligation. If your former husband IS a believer in Christ, scripture makes it clear that it’s better to be wronged or defrauded by your brother in Christ (your former husband) than to go to court before non-Christians (1 Corinthians 6:7).
I pray the Lord will grant you clarity about the specific of your situation so you can obey Him as He desires. I encourage you to seek His will above anything else (as it sounds you are doing) and to do what He shows you is right, in spite of counsel that is to the contrary. He will honor your obedience, given out of honor for Him.
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