Divorce and the Bible - 04/18/2004

Hi, growing up I was smacked around by my mother a lot...abused...beat over the head etc. She regrets it now but...during that time a lot of times I wondered...and still do...about divorce when it's a spouse thatís abusing. The Bible clearly states from what I've read that infidelity is the only grounds for divorce....so what does a person do when stuck in a abusive marriage? Should they just not live with the person and not have a companion for the rest of their lives? I have to say this has always confused me. Any thoughts?



Hi Krista. You've asked about a subject that is sensitive to many people. The Bible does teach that infidelity is the only grounds for divorce (Matthew 5:32, 19:9). Yet I know many Christians who have divorced for other reasons, and then remarried. I hesitate to pass judgment, other than to acknowledge that their actions are against biblical teachings. I think if a person divorces for reasons other than infidelity, then perhaps they should follow Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 7, and not remarry.

Some are under the incorrect assumption that it is biblically permissible to divorce a spouse who is an unbeliever. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul tells us not to marry unbelievers in the first place. However, if a believer is married to an unbeliever, 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 says, "To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him."

Remember, we all belong to the Lord first. I do not condone someone staying in an abusive marriage, and if divorce is the only way to escape that abuse, then by all means do so. But we should not assume that staying single after that is some sort of companion-less punishment. As long as we have Jesus in our lives, we will never be alone. Paul found that remaining single made it easier to be fully devoted to Christ. I'm sure there are some who will disagree with me, but I don't think they'll find their arguments backed up in Scripture. Biblically speaking, those who divorce their spouse for any reason other than marital infidelity are simply not allowed to remarry. Those are the words of Jesus, not my own.

In Christ,

Ben and Jennifer Rast
Contender Ministries