A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Biblical Divorce for Abuse explained in a nutshell

Physical abuse, and indeed any pattern of power and control used by one spouse against the other, even if the conduct does not include physical abuse, is grounds for divorce.

Why? Because if a person is not willing to live as a spouse should live in a marriage — showing basic respect for their partner — if that person is violating their wedding vows by decidedly and repeatedly mistreating their partner, then they are in effect pushing the partner away: causing separation. The scripture which applies to this is 1 Corinthians 7:15 — If the unbelieving partner separates (i.e, if their evil-hearted attitude and conduct creates separation, effectively pushing their victim away) then the victim, and the church, are told to let it be so, let the separation be so. Don’t try to pretend it’s not happened. Don’t lay guilt on the victim. The victim of marital abuse is not enslaved — not obliged to remain married to the abuser, and not obliged to refrain from marrying another for the rest of their life (as the persons in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 were obliged). God has called us to peace. And there can be no peace with a spouse who abuses their partner by a chronic pattern of power and control exerted in numerous ways, often not even physical ways.

1 Corinthians 7:15 —

But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.


For Further Reading

The Bible does Allow Divorce for Domestic Abuse

God Hates Divorce?  Not Always

Does God Hate Divorce? – Youtube

Remarriage after Divorcing an Abuser in a Nutshell

Church Discipline and Church Permission for Divorce — How My Mind has Changed

The Bible Does Allow  Divorce for Domestic Abuse – Guest post by Barbara Roberts at Restoredrelationships.org


  1. Nicola

    Thanks you so much for this Barbara. It’s SO difficult to understand this when still in the abuse, still in the marriage, when the abuser claims to be a believer, and of course all of the spiritual abuse that goes along with that. One of the early steps to freedom for me was fully realising and accepting that my abuser was a charlatan, not a Christian. He was in fact an ‘unbeliever’, an imposter, a liar and a deceiver who simply used marriage, and Christianity, as a means of confining a convenient victim to abuse. I have only discovered this website in freedom, and I realise just how valuable this teaching would have been when I was trapped in the abuse. My prayer is that is keeps on spreading throughout the Christian community to help other victims, imprisoned by the chains of lies and deceit of their ‘unbelieving’ abusers.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Nicola. I’ve put a comment below, in response to Cristina’s question, that addresses the subject of an abuser who professes to be a believer.

  2. Amy

    This short post was the most powerful message I’ve read in a long time. This is a much needed message for those in abusive marriages. I wish I’d been told this years ago instead of how much God hates divorce. I eventually found my way out of a 20 year abusive marriage, but not without a lot of guilt and shame heaped upon me for wanting to leave.
    Thank you for saying in a nutshell what many Christians never say to the abused.

  3. Been There Done That

    THIS is what I continually have problems with. It’s good to be reminded that my standing in the church body or in the greater community of Christ should not be hampered because of something I did not do.

  4. This sounds like God’s wisdom to me. I don’t see how this does any violence to any doctrines or anything we know about God. It doesn’t even contradict the oft touted “God hates divorce.” It just shows where the blame for the divorce properly lies.

    God has called us to peace, and in this position there is plenty of room for God’s peace. But in requiring someone to live with another who refuses to live peaceably with them, there is NO room for God’s peace.

  5. What do I answer to those who say that it says if the unbelieving partner wants to separate to do so, but not the “believing” one, aka the abused one?

    • Hi Cristina. Good question. You tell them that the abuser, for all his public appearance of being a believer, is showing such a strong pattern of the works of the flesh that his profession of faith must be called into question.

      Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

      Further, you tell them that scripture commands the church to

      not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

      So the church, if it were obeying God’s commandment here, would promptly and with no prevarication put the abusive spouse out of the church and tell the entire congregation to no longer treat that man as brother in Christ. Then the victim of the abuser — the genuine believer — is free, if she so choses, to divorce the abuser under 1 Cor. 5:17.

      And if the church doesn’t see it this way and doesn’t obey this scriptural precept, then the victim is free to treat that church as a non-church and make her own decisions irrespective that (non-)church’s disapproval.

      (reverse the genders if need be in my explanation)

      • Thank you! The verses really help to make the case.

    • Annie

      Often, the victim who is a believer is puzzled by the difference between her (or his) Christianity and the Christian life of the perpetrator. However, pressured by the church community who accepts the perpetrator and treats him (or her) as a Christian, the victim puts those thoughts away, like so many other thoughts of cognitive dissonance. What the church needs to question is how she determines if someone is born again. The proof required must be in behavior that is becoming of Christ’ name. Right now, in many churches, one only has to claim to have said the sinner’s prayer to be accepted as a believer.

  6. His Child

    Barb, thanks for the post. You showed great restraint in not typing the post in capitals, as I would have been tempted to do. And I would have added a “SO THERE. NOW GET LOST!” at the end! Maybe that’s why you make a better advocate 🙂

  7. Posicorn

    But, is the victim allowed to remarry?

    • TWBTC

      Yes, Posicorn.
      We firmly maintain that a domestic abuse victim is free to remarry as Barbara stated in the post “The victim of martial abuse is not enslaved — not obliged to remain married to the abuser, and not obliged to refrain from marrying another for the rest of their life”
      Another excellent post, this one by Pastor Crippen, also discusses divorce and remarriage “A Discussion of Divorce and Remarriage.”

    • Welcome to the blog, Posicorn 🙂
      TWBTC has answered your question well.

      If you want to more fully understand my scriptural arguments for biblical divorce and remarriage, I suggest you read my book. I think it would help you get a deep grasp of the reasons why God DOES indeed, most certainly, allow divorce for domestic abuse and remarriage should the divorced survivor of abuse chose to remarry.

      The only precept such a person must follow — and it’s a precept that applies to all believers, not just survivors of abuse/adultery or abandonment —is to ‘marry in the Lord’ that is, marry a Christian.

      • Brenda R

        Barb, I hope that I have learned to discern who is and is not a Christian. Many of us have been married to men who claim to be Christian, but their fruit once signing the dotted line was rotted. IF, and that is a BIG IF I should find someone that I care to marry again, I am thinking a polygraph test may be necessary. For now I am going with my criteria, he must be Christian and pink with purple polka dots.

  8. Brenda R

    Short and to the point Barb. I like it. I’m going to print it off and hand it out to a few people if you don’t mind.

    • Go for it, Brenda!
      we have a very liberal republication policy (see our About tab in the top menu). It states:
      Apart from a few cases where a copyright notice is explicitly stated in a post, we are happy for you to re-post material from this blog. Please show common courtesy by not distorting the meaning of the material if you are only quoting parts from it.

      • Brenda R

        Oh, no. I planned to hand it out as is.

      • I knew that Brenda :), I just put the republication policy in so that other readers who might be casual or one-off visitors to our blog would be aware of it.


  1. Biblical Divorce for Abuse explained in a nutshell « Journeyman

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