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.