Abusive relationship

Abusive Relationship
When you are caught up in an abusive relationship

Dear Jim: Is divorce an option to me if I come from an abusive relationship?

Life becomes very trying at times and some of us have had more than our share of difficulties. One of the most challenging is when one lives in an abusive relationship. I have found that what one calls ‘abusive’ is not necessarily the same as the definition of another.

Does God want us to live under in an abusive situation? I believe that the answer is no. However, it does not mean that He grants permission for a divorce. Allow me to share some thoughts.

The Bible only shares 2 circumstances that I have found for a divorce:

  • If a spouse has sex outside of their marriage, the other spouse MAY divorce. Matt 5:32
  • If the unbelieving spouse chooses to leave a marriage, the Christian spouse is not under obligation to stay in the marriage. 1 Cor 7:13

The Bible does not provide grounds for divorce for any other reason, including abuse.

However, it does not mean that the one who finds themselves in an abusive relationship is to live in it. There are some circumstances where it is best for a legal separation. This action should only be considered after much counselling and guidance of a Pastor.

There is a phenomenon when one reaches the point that they ‘want’ a divorce. It is that suddenly everything is magnified. Things that have been small irritations during a marriage suddenly take on huge proportions. The one who wants a divorce is striving to find justification for taking the action of divorce. This is a dangerous time and all too often a rush to divorce is made that is ungrounded.

Please read a previous post to find How does God relate to divorce?

What to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship?

If you find yourself in what you consider to be an abusive relationship, it is VERY important that you seek professional counselling. If necessary for safety, the law enforcement should be brought into the picture for action. I would also seek the guidance and prayers of your Pastor and church leaders.

I receive emails stating that their spouse ‘used to be’ Christians but no longer are. This cannot be true according to Scripture. There can certainly be those who professed to be Christians who never were. However, I honestly believe that most are indeed Christians and have not been following Christ for some time in their lives. This certainly contributes to their getting off course in their marriage. However, once saved always saved. Ephesians 2:8 states that we are saved by grace through faith and not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, a gift in that we did not do it but only accepted it. God does the saving. If our actions cannot save us, then we cannot lose our salvation by our acts. We can lose our joy and the guidance of the Holy Spirit if we do not allow Christ to be the controller of our lives.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, please find a good Christian counsellor. I suggest that you are not able to be objective and make wise choices on your own. The counsellor will be a valuable partner in understanding what is going on and what steps can be taken. Your Pastor is a valuable friend and counsellor to help you keep a healthy perspective through your storm.

May God guide and protect you in this journey.

Warm regards,


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8 comments on “Abusive relationshipAdd yours →

  1. Your response leaves me believing that you have no understanding about what it means for someone who is trapped in an abusive relationship. Until you have had that experience, it is impossible to really understand how evil and damaging it is is to spouses and children. Unfortunately the same can be said about many pastors and Christians who are in an Elder position in the church. I find there is often little understanding or empathy from pastors and elders because of lack of understanding. I think more reading of the bible and especially the gospels and asking God for more discernment with an open heart. Jesus often broke the rules because it was the right thing to do.

    1. Jesus broke the commandments of the pharisees. Not Gods laws if you study this it will open your eyes.
      There are exceptions for divorce. In both new and old testament and theres grace and forgiveness for us too, if we did the wrong thing.
      Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, unbelief can apply to some one who claims to believe but doesn’t live by God’s rules. I believe both mental and physical abuse are also grounds for someone who doesn’t repent and change, and staying in a relationship like this can a have serious detrimental effects. Some judge without knowing the full story without grace and without love.
      Being unequally yoked can apply to many situation

  2. I also have to say that abuse continues because men of the church don’t speak out against it. You should stand up for those who are are weaker. The bible instructs you to do that but it doesnt happen enough. Abuse us not love. You should be ashamed for not taking a stronger stand against abuse.

    1. There are many kinds of abuse, both from men and women, from violence to mental abuse,
      All are guilty in some way from manipulation to arrogance and from using an unjust legal system to our own ends to gain what we don’t deserve or to darken someone’s name or character so we might look to be right in the eyes of others.
      I’ve seen love killed hope rejected and children without fathers, because mothers want to hurt the ex.
      It’s immature childish and selfish to destroy others to obtain what we want or feel what we are entitled too, but one thing is for sure, theres a God in heaven that sees us for what we are and who we have been.
      And the only way we will treat others right is by love.

  3. No body needs to be in abusive or violent marriage , regardless of what it says in the bible , the bible has not changed in 2700 years but people of today have .
    Please keep safe

  4. Well , I think as a Biblical counselor still in training this article has said nothing wrong at all but they have simply highlighted some few essentials on abusive R / ships.

    I also understand that we are all coming from different churches , but I do not think that a True Bible believing church would ignore people that are being abused. We can not blame the church , pastors or deacons because we are going through such situations. We have to seek help , and if it continues for our own safety we should just leave and involve the law enforcement if possible.

    I believe God is faithful and near to the faint hearted. We can never understand the pain one goes through when they are in an abused R/ ship , but we have Christ who is faithful in helping us to make the right decisions ( Matt.7 : 8 ) .

    CC we appreciate your post though you might not have covered the different forms of abuse and how exactly does abuse look like.

    Let us remember the fall in Genesis 3 has distorted everything . It is only the grace of God alone that can save us .Before marriage we should pray for Godly wisdom , cause some people confess to be Christians but yet they do not even have a R/ ship with God. Such situations will always end in tears. Especially online dating to mention , we should be extra careful too .Only God knows the hearts of people.

    “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law. I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws” (Psalm 119:29–30). May the Lord bring healing , safety, recovery , peace & breakthrough to all that have suffered abuse or are still in in such relationships.

  5. The word abuse is pretty vague here. Abuse can be physical, mental, or perhaps some other. It can stem from an underlying mental health condition or from particular sin. I think the bible is pretty clear on what a marriage should look like. The picture of marriage is metaphorical and it’s beautiful. If it’s not working out I think the author is right in that you should seek counseling to try to get to the root cause. If you don’t get the answer you are looking for maybe consider getting a second opinion from two or maybe three other counselors. In the end, it may be a sin to divorce, but we all have sin. The issue remains that sin often has consequences that are often far-reaching and can lead to regrets later in life. As a church I think certain wiser members would like to save you from these. Nothing wrong with separation to try to work through some things. The question remains are you trying to work through them or are you trying to run from them. Running away from your problems usually doesn’t get you very far. I am not a licensed counselor or a pastor, but I often find myself in a position to help others and teach from some of my life experiences. Warm prayers.

  6. Jennifer,

    So perfectly true that without experience the entrapment and cycle of abuse is not understood by anyone. Additionally, as you stated without anyone taking a stand, and in fact promoting the philosophy stated in this article, the church becomes a breeding ground for such men as they can use this philosophy to guilt the person and manipulate. Even a legal separation gives that person power and control because you cannot be from of them.

    There are several Scripture that allow for divorce on the grounds of abuse. In the Old Testament, I believe in Deuteronomy, their is Scripture that states if a man marries a woman and then decides he no longer wants her, he is to let her go and allow her to be free. While one can argue that if the abuser wants to maintain the relationship one should stay in the marriage (which is disgusting 🤮 to even have to type such a statement), the fact is very rarely will an abusive person physically opt out of the marriage because abuse is not about anger-it’s about power and control. But the abuser will reject the wife in other ways. A man that will verbally degrade his wife over and over and make excuses for his violent behavior does not want to be with her, he just doesn’t want her to be away from him.

    There is also Scripture that states to have nothing to do with “a railer,” which in looking at the Greek is an abuser. This means not just the wife, but those who are surrounding him. The abuser is like a monster that grows-with each person that he continues to associate with and who hears his story of self-pity, he is being fed until he is enormously gigantic. He needs to be cut off from his supply. God’s hope is for restoration, and the goal would be for that person to get PROFESSIONAL help. If the perpetrator is not willing to do that, then no one should be having an ongoing relationship with them as they are enabling the perpetrators. How about when the church knows someone is in sin? Aren’t they supposed to bring it before a group of believers if the person is perpetual in their behavior?

    The church can’t preach that a victim should maintain an abusive marriage even in a separated matter yet neglect there own responsibilities. This just continues the cycle of the behavior of the abuser to fall on the victim and continues to keep the responsibility in the victim’s court. If the abuser continues his behavior and others continue to engage him and he’s allowed in the church, where is the victim to safely get her support? In the end, the abuser maintains his position among fellow believers and the victim has to start all over and left wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”

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