A Cry For Justice

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

We Make Void God’s Word when we Prohibit Divorce for Abuse

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:1-9)

Very, very commonly Christians grant the abuser a “get out of jail free” card by teaching that God does not permit divorce for abuse. Specifically, the Word of God is made void and is replaced with the traditions of man. We see the thing in the verses cited above.

God’s commandment to children is “Honor your father and your mother.” So serious is this that any son or daughter who would revile their parents was to be put to death under the OT Law. This is God’s command for children and parents.

Then along came the Pharisees and scribes with their traditions, which they put across as the Word of God. In this case they had so exalted tithing and giving offerings, that injustice resulted. Elderly or ill parents were not helped because this business of “giving to God” trumped all else.

And I maintain that the VERY SAME thing is being done today when churches insist that abuse victims cannot divorce their abuser. And here is how it goes.

What does God’s Word say, repeatedly, about what a Christian is to do in regard to relationships with a wicked person? I will show you:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalms 1:1)

Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. (Psalms 119:115)

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:14-15)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
(Proverbs 13:20)

Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge. (Proverbs 14:7)

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. (Proverbs 22:24-25)

But now I am writing to you not to 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)

Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Enough? There are many, many more such instructions in Scripture, I assure you.

Now, what Christians are doing by insisting that victims cannot divorce their abuser is making void the Word of God for the sake of their traditions. They are teachings the commandments of men as the Word of God. The very same thing the Pharisees were doing, for which they received the Lord’s denunciation. He called them hypocrites and told them that their hearts were far away from Him.

See it? The Lord commands His people to separate from the wicked. Over and over again He gives us these instructions. Are we to believe that the Scriptures that teach about marriage being designed for a lifetime trump all these other Scriptures that tell us to separate from the wicked? Of course not. Marriage does not negate God’s Word. Marriage is not intended to be a covenant that allows the wicked to be wicked and their spouse have no recourse ever. No Scripture ever “cancels out” another Scripture, as if the abuser is given some kind of “diplomatic immunity” card that lets him pull off whatever crime he wants and yet his victim is not permitted to “go out from his presence.”

And I think that what I have stated here is quite enough to prove that God permits and even blesses a victim who separates from (divorces) an evil man.

* * *

Related post:  The Bible virtually commands divorce for domestic abuse

 

12 Comments

  1. healinginhim

    Thank you for this post. I’m feeling rather downtrodden. I just commented on a previous post: “Although I’ve appreciated verse-by-verse teachings from John MacArthur there is a deep chasm in which many who adhere to this ministry will consistently refute that someone like me would have grounds for divorce. Even after I have offered the link to ACFJ; they don’t agree with your stance. (I guess I just have to suck it up) These people say they feel deeply for my circumstances and can’t imagine how terrible it must be, however they feel it is a compromise of Scripture to condone divorce.”
    Thank for the link to “The Bible virtually commands divorce for domestic abuse” … Do I dare share this or am I just casting pearls?

  2. Valerie

    The part that always speaks to me is when he says, “You people honor me with your lips but your heart is far from me.” Those who insist on keeping the abused spouse abused for the sake of upholding the fake marriage are not considering the character of God when they prescribe this. Some of the rituals the Pharisees did were traditions and never prescribed by scripture but rather added to it; whereas people can point to scripture and say that only adultery and desertion are cause for divorce (and some refuse to make a biblical allowance in even these cases). But we can point to scripture to have it say a lot of things the scripture never intended- for example: ask whatever you want in my name and it will be given to you, give to him who asks of you (you are sinning if you refuse to give to every person with a cardboard sign or anyone who rings your doorbell asking for a donation as scripture says in that case)…there are many instances where reading a verse without context is taking it out of context. I don’t see a lot of people openly greeting each other with holy kisses as scripture commands either. :-/

    In the context of tradition, as I see it the tradition of men is to follow the earthly leaders rather than following the heavenly leader. The tradition, sadly, is to not know scripture for yourself. Why do we think we need to depart with common sense when interpreting scripture? Honestly, that is what started opening my eyes to know that I hadn’t been taught a proper view of scripture. I realized many of these teachings did not make common sense so I asked myself, “Is this REALLY what scripture says?” When I started reading scripture as a blank slate and set aside what I had been taught thus far it was like I truly was reading scripture for the first time.

    Lord, may we all come to You in Your holy word with our hearts focused on pleasing you and put no trust in the words of man. To You alone we will give account.

  3. MaxGrace

    Deep breath and sigh – again looking for a “❤️” button because “like” doesn’t convey the tears that I have, or the depth of thankfulness to God for your calling the church’s attention to this serious matter, and for the freedom it brings from suffering at the hands of wicked men. They blaspheme that holy thing called marriage. Thank you for showing the difference between that which is holy and that which is profane.
    From the bottom of my heart – thank you for helping so many of us to see the goodness of God in the land of the living – in the land of the abused, as it were. Moses said “show me thy ways that I might know Thee”. These words this morning – help me to know His ways – they help me to know Him better – for the gracious God that He is and not (a caricature) of an unmovable being on a throne who is represented as tapping his fingers on the side of His throne and shaking His head, saying – you just can’t get it right can you. You have to submit – there’s no other way.” That is the picture that is being represented in so many churches today – while the wicked man is being honored. Preach, Pastor, Preach. We are listening/ and the Amen comes from such a deep place, as deep calls to deep, from His word rightly divided. Sincerely. .

  4. Released!

    A while ago, a dear friend of mine and I were talking on the phone. She prayed with me that my husband either be delivered instantaneously from his abusive ways and addictions, or that I be set free. I was dumbfounded to think about praying these things at the same time because I had always prayed them separately. She told me that the Lord doesn’t expect me to stay in an abusive marriage, that I am the Lord’s precious child and that He loves me, and that I will be blessed by the Lord for leaving. She asked me to pray again at bedtime, and then the next morning.

    Within AN HOUR of praying the next morning, my husband chose to fly into an extreme rage of verbal and physical abuse directed at me, …and told me to leave and that we were finished. There was my answer. I fled [Eds: some details in this paragraph edited to protect identity of victim]

    I have had rough, oh so many rough, days and nights BUT it’s been [some time] now. I am divorced, I have my own place to live now […] My relationship with my children is better than ever. I lived in a substance addicted, abusive hell for decades and I am so thankful that the Lord set me free….and even more, that I took the step of faith to BELIEVE that HE was going to protect me and bless me. And He has!

  5. Friend of Target

    They have nullified 2 Corinthians 6:14:

    “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

    And ignored 1 Timothy 5:8:

    “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

    And replaced it with “You must be unequally yoked with worse than an unbeliever until he dies (or at least commits adultery).”

    • Valerie

      Hitting the like button FOT!

      • Friend of Target

        Thanks Valerie. 🙂

  6. Natalie

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

  7. Anonymous

    We hear so often adultery and desertion is the only two biblical grounds for divorce. I do not believe desertion is merely packing your bags and walking out the door. Walking away from the marriage covenant, the promises made before the Lord to love, honor, cherish, etc., through the horrible, evil and wickedness of abuse clearly IS desertion.

  8. BrokenKaleidoscope

    Yes this!

    I’ve been told by the pastors at both churches I’ve tried to attend that there’s no excuse for me to not be able to stay in my marriage. There’s no abuse severe enough to excuse me for breaking my commitment to my husband and God.

    Yet I heard the same pastors rejoicing when a foster child was able to be adopted. They called that God’s will – God was protecting that child by taking them out of an abusive home.

    So why is it that same perspective doesn’t carry over to me and my children?

    The only difference is the person being abusive.

    Now that it was their friend and it happened in their church it was no longer possible that God might allow us to leave the home. It was impossible to see that the 20 years of abuse was my h’s real character. It was inconceivable that God would act in any way other than to save the marriage.

    So are they saying God changed? Of course they’d never actually say that. They just insist that now God’s mercy and love is demonstrated in his response to my h and desire to restore our marriage.

    On good days I look at the whole thing and think, yes, God loves my h and is willing to show him mercy. However, He won’t do that at the expense of me or my children.

  9. PB

    Amen
    I was told I had no biblical grounds to divorce my abuser.
    God gave me peace and has blessed me since then. He has blessed me with a godly man who loves me like Jesus does.

    • Hi PB, I changed your screen name for your safety.
      Welcome to the blog. I encourage you to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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