Posted June 24, 2013

I have never really experienced divorce in someone close to me before but this past year I have had a couple of people I know really well go through divorce and it has really stirred some deep questions in me. I believe God hates divorce, in fact he states it in His Word but he does allow it in the case of adultry. But what about those who are being abused? I do not want to base my conviction upon feelings but upon the Word of God and I’m really trying to figure out what God would have a woman do in those circumstances. I think divorce is allowable in these cases but I don’t have a good Bible verse to back this up. Both of my friends who got a divorce this year were being physically abused to the point of fear for their life. I can’t see it being wrong to leave their husbands but what does the Bible say about it?

So, I guess what I would love is to see a good disscussion on Biblical divorce, circumstances, etc.

Is divorce allowable in the case of abuse?

What about a person who was divorced before they were saved? Should they remain single or can they marry in the faith?

What about a believer who is married to the unbeliever and the unbeliever wants to leave? The Bible says to let them go but then is this person required to stay single or can they marry in the faith?

I know how much God hates divorce but I want to know how to respond to my friends or others I may come in contact with through my life. Any Biblical help/insight would be most appreciated.



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  1. betsy

    This is something I have also wondered about – I look forward to hearing some answers.

    # July 17, 2013

  2. swifttohear

    Well, sunflower, you don’t ask easy questions, do you?!

    A general conversation about divorce can never be “easy”! By that, I mean that although the rules may be black and white as per Biblical mandates, people’s hearts tend to be varying shades of grey. We are all “hard-hearted” (which, Biblically, means disobedient, stubborn, or self-willed). Moses was, in a way, forced to make a provision for divorce because we fail to love our spouses as much as we love ourselves.

    For example, the Bible is clear about how believers are to treat unbelievers, but that requires a serious judgment call about whether or not someone is a believer. A Christian is supposed to claim Christ in word and in deed, right? So if, in a marriage, a “Christian” man physically abuses his wife, is he really a Christian? What about in the case of emotional abuse, which in my opinion is just as harmful to the mind as physical abuse is to the body? Obviously, a liar, cheater, beater, or infidel is NOT a Christian, right? But what if he only hurt her once? What if he repented after, but then “fell” again a month later? Maybe God will change his heart, and he will become a Christian one day… Maybe if his wife would just persevere a bit longer…. Maybe, nothing!! Only God knows the heart and only He knows for sure who are His. Often I hear well-meaning Christians make judgment calls that cast burdens on the saved that are far too heavy to be borne… ones they couldn’t possibly bear themselves, if the shoe were only on the other foot.

    We are to “judge righteous judgment” the best way we can: by knowing the Bible inside and out so that our hearts are set on the wisdom that is from above. When we live in obedience to Christ, we will see things far more clearly because we will be unencumbered by worldly wisdom.

    “Worldly wisdom” causes us to make judgment calls that are based on probabilities. For example, we see a bad marriage and say that sooner or later, it will end. We see an emotionally weak woman and we say that sooner or later, she will break. We see a disobedient toddler and we say that sooner or later, she will rebel. Most often, we will be right. However; most often, people’s hearts are stubborn and they remain so. Most often, people seek their own way and not Christ’s. Most often, people resist God’s call toward truth and righteousness (“narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”).

    It is only a rarity that God will turn the heart of the disobedient toward Him. Rarely, an abusive husband will turn from his wicked ways to embrace the love of Christ. Rarely, a Christian marriage will survive infidelity. Rarely will someone truly and totally submit her will to God. This is why we are to forgive 70 times 7. God forbid that we offend one of God’s elect. None of those who rely on worldly wisdom are able to discern who God’s elect are, and in whose marriage they exist. Probabilities only work in the absence of God’s miraculous grace.

    Biblical guidelines pertaining to marriage are the same as those that pertain to all Christians. To be a bona fide follower of Christ, a true Christian will cultivate a soft heart towards her spouse, pitying him the way Christ pitied her, loving him the way Christ loved her, giving herself in servitude to him the way Christ did for her. And so it should be on the part of the husband toward his wife, on the part of a parishioner toward her pastor, on the part of a sister toward her brother, etc. A soft heart, a kind word, and a gentle spirit go a long way towards the preservation of a tough marriage just as they go a long way toward the preservation of the church.

    So, sunflower; you were looking for particulars. Most people who wish to be loosed from a marriage will find “justification” through one of the following exceptions, and claim that it applies to them. Be ever so careful who you believe. People lie, and only God can justify. All we can do to help those we know who are suffering in a troubled marriage is to remind them of their own duty to their spouse before Christ, which is to love one another as Christ has loved us. Here they are:

    • A Christian is not permitted to marry an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14).
    • A Christian wife may leave her husband if a) he is not saved (Ezra 10:11), or b) he is unfaithful (Matt. 5:32). Part A is permitted only if she became a Christian after she married him (2 Cor. 6:17); further, her “ignorance” nullifies her vow (Lev. 4, Num. 30:9).
    • If a woman was a Christian when she married and thought that her husband was a Christian when he wasn’t, she is supposed to stay with him (thereby sanctifying him and their children if any) and pray for his salvation (because she can’t know if he will one day become a Christian or not). (1 Cor. 7:16).
    • If a couple marries in the faith and their marriage dissolves (for mutual “irreconcilable differences” other than adultery), neither is permitted to remarry (Matt. 5:32).
    • A Christian woman who is either widowed or “put away” (abandoned) by her husband (through no fault of her own) is permitted to remarry in the faith and is commanded to do so if she is under 60 years old (1 Cor. 7:15, 1 Timothy 5:14).
    • It is best not to marry at all (if you can contain yourself, and are so gifted). (1 Cor. 7:37).
    • Only the death of a husband can nullify any of the previous rules (Rom. 7:2).
    • Do not murder your husband (I added this one because of the previous point just in case somebody was getting an idea!!)

    My husband and I tell troubled married couples the same thing: focus on bringing your own heart under obedience to Christ. Meanwhile, wait patiently for God to change the heart of your spouse and be prepared to accept God’s sovereign will, no matter what the outcome. Many are called, but few are chosen.

    # August 3, 2013

    • lollie

      that is exactly what I definitely needed to hear especially right now. thank you for the clarification. I feel so much freer!

      # December 31, 2013

  3. amelia

    I have a lady who came to me for counsel whose husband was not a believer and had left her for another woman. There were wrongs done on both sides of the issue, however, mostly their marriage trouble came from the unequal yoke. It was very difficult to counsel her, knowing that she had already left her husband, and that Scripture in 1 Corinthians 7 commands,

    10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
    11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
    12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
    13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
    14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
    15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

    So her unbelieving husband wanted to divorce her and was living with another woman, so she decided to give him the divorce. However their marriage needed to be remedied before they separated. She had not been the help meet that she was commanded to be, and now a great weight lies on her shoulders to raise her children alone.

    Divorce was never God’s intent. In Mark 10 Jesus explained why divorce was even an option… “And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.”

    Divorce always destroys God’s perfect plan. “And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:8-9

    For the case of physical abuse, I would never say “It’s okay, just divorce him.” If need be, for physical safety, separate but do not divorce. And absolutely do not remarry – that would be adultery. In the case of the physical abuse or molestation of children, the law should absolutely always be involved. Then when he’s in prison for 20 years you can go visit him and pray for him to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Marriage is and can be beautiful and glorious, and Satan is always seeking to destroy its beauty. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8

    # September 1, 2013

  4. misscountrygal

    This is a good question, and I really like what has to say about this:

    The Bible is silent on the issue of spousal abuse as a reason for divorce, although it is obvious that God expects us to love one another and to submit to one another in love (John 13:34, Ephesians 5:21). Physical violence is illegal and should not be tolerated by anyone. No one should have to live in an unsafe environment, whether it involves a family member, friend, employer, caregiver, or stranger. Physical abuse is against the law, and the authorities should be the first ones contacted if this occurs.

    A spouse who is being abused should seek a safe place. If there are children involved, they should be protected and removed from the situation immediately. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that separation (not divorce) in this instance would be wrong. Although friends and family will likely suggest divorce is the only answer, God places a much higher value on marriage, so reconciliation should be the goal.

    The Bible gives two acceptable reasons for divorce: the first is in the case of abandonment of a Christian by an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15), and the second is if one partner is involved in a lifestyle of infidelity (Matthew 5:32). Although God allows divorce in these circumstances, He does not command it. It should be assumed that two Bible-believing Christians will not mutually agree to divorce, but will practice the forgiveness and love that God freely gives us. “’For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).

    Once a separation has been enforced, the abuser has the responsibility to seek help. First and foremost, he should seek God. “For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks” (Matthew 7:8). No one has more power to heal individuals and relationships than God. He must be the Lord of our lives, the Master of our assets, and the Head of our households.

    Both husband and wife must commit themselves to God and then develop a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3). This commitment to God should be accompanied by intensive biblical counseling from a trusted pastor or equipped believer, first individually, then as a couple, and finally for the entire family to help heal the trauma all have endured. Change is possible for people who truly repent and humbly surrender to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

    Divorce is not the only option for a happy ending if both spouses are seeking the Lord. Together, the couple should then commit to serving and obeying God. They should spend individual time with God daily, attend a Bible-believing church, begin serving God through a ministry, and get involved in small Bible study groups. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).

    The best way to prevent being trapped in an abusive marriage is to get to know a potential spouse before making the commitment to marry. The signs of being an abuser are manifested in one’s personality. The “red flags” are always there but are often overlooked when attraction and infatuation take over. These signs can include irrational jealousy, the need to be in control, a quick temper, cruelty toward animals, attempts to isolate the other person from his or her friends and family, drug or alcohol abuse, and disrespect for boundaries, privacy, personal space, or moral values.

    # September 6, 2013

  5. burkeygirl4jesus

    Okay! So here’s my take on it. If a husband is abusing you, he’s being unfaithful to you, breaking his vow that he made to God and you! In most of these cases, the husband is in adultery, be it actually physically with someone, or whether it’s through porn. In Bible times, such a man would be stoned, so yes, you could marry again, as long as you had not committed adultery as well. Nowadays we don’t do stoning, but that man is dead to you! It is wrong to marry him again. I don’t know why so many Christians don’t catch that part, but it’s in the OT – Leviticus, I believe. I know a lady who found out after the divorce that her husband had been involved in porn as well as having another woman. Search the scripture for yourself!

    # January 13, 2014