Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Question:
Is divorcing my husband due to physical and mental abuse a sin?

Answer:

Well, here we go. Divorce is one of those topics that every time I have a psychotic episode and talk about it, readers bail out, I’m headed straight for the fires of hell, and the rhetoric is like an atomic fallout. Which of course couldn’t be more fun, so I never overlook a chance to jump in with both feet!

First, before answering the direct question, let’s talk about this issue of “abuse”. Abuse has become the pet word for pretty much anything we don’t like. “Mental or emotional abuse” is even more foggy and over used.

Of course, true physical abuse is hideous and men who abuse women ought to be horse whipped and drug through the streets behind a N.O.W. parade float loaded with raging hairy feminists.

Nowadays though, “abuse” can be anything we deem uncomfortable or annoying. Okay, it may even be a grab, push or slap which is still very wrong and shameful, but it’s not like the old days when everyone understood that an “abused spouse” meant black eyes, busted lips and trips to the emergency room.

“Emotional abuse” is the most overrated and ABUSED phrase in marriage today. It has now become probably the most offered “reason” for personal unhappiness in a marriage. Sorry ladies, by a long shot in my experience, you are the one leveling this nebulous accusation at husbands although the softer and less macho men are getting, you are now hearing it from them too.

Regardless of who says it, what exactly is “emotional abuse”? Okay, in it’s most extreme form, which I’ve personally seen (not from my wife!), it can be a spouse who is simply unrelenting and shameless with insults, cursing, belittling or berating the marriage partner. The couple of times I’ve witnessed this, I’ve wondered how the victim didn’t turn to physical abuse to end it. It was one of the most miserable sights I’ve ever witnessed.

In all but rare extreme cases like that, I’m of the opinion that “emotional abuse” has been nothing more than a convenient label for normal arguing, uncaring communication or simply two people who are just fighting in the age old way married couples fight.

“Abuse” has sacred protected status in our world of “victimhood” today making “emotional abuse” an ace-in-the-whole because the accused has no recourse, defense or excuse. Once an abuser, always an “abuser”; do not pass “go”, do not collect $200. No amount of defense or logic can reduce or erase the stigma once a spouse has been labeled abuser.

Emotional abuse is so gray, so undefined and so popular today that is has become the excuse of choice to bail out on a marriage. There is no proof, no physical evidence, no definitive criteria… you simply just have to claim you “feel” emotionally abused.

It ranges from feeling insulted, to neglected, to misunderstood, to not “validated”, to not loved, to not happy. Simply not feeling happy about the marriage with a spouse who won’t make things happy evidently has now warranted the label of “emotional abuse”.

How convenient.

As you can tell, I’m not exactly a fan. Emotional abuse, 99% of the time in my opinion, is leveled as the reason for wanting a divorce BECAUSE THERE SIMPLY IS NOT ANY REAL BIBLICAL REASON AND “ABUSE” IS THE ONE WORD THAT SOUNDS SO HORRIBLE THAT NO REASONABLE PERSON COULD TELL SOMEONE IT’S NOT GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE.

I guess I’m unreasonable. “Emotional abuse” is not Biblical grounds for divorce EVEN IF IT IS the extreme version I talked about above.

Well I didn’t leave much wiggle room there, so I won’t belabor the point. But what if there is true PHYSICAL abuse?

That question is always more problematic. Divorce? The Bible does not offer a specific exception that allows for divorce for physical abuse such as for adultery (Matt 19.9). There are some who would argue that physical abuse constitutes abandonment and anyone who would physically abuse their spouse must not be a Christian. Based on that they cite 1Corinthians 7.15 as grounds for divorce. While it has logical merit, that’s seriously stretching both the context and meaning to the point of alarm.

No one wants to tell a woman she’s stuck with a husband that is literally abusing her physically (or sadly, it is common to hear of wife-to-husband physical abuse too). At a minimum, other Christians should help the victim separate safely from the violence as the situation is dealt with.

My advice? If you are truly being physically abused, I would immediately seek refuge and the counsel of Godly mature Christians.

If you are “emotionally abused” and what it really is, is arguing & unkindness, or even significant verbal altercations… that is not a grounds for a Biblical divorce and you should immediately seek serious BIBLICAL PASTORAL counseling and accountability.

If you are saying “emotionally abused” because its the holy grail of divorce excuses and the reality is you are simply unhappy and selfish, then you best remember that God will hold you accountable for your decision to decide you can ammend the Bible with your own reasons for divorce.

You should also consider the damage you are doing to your spouse announcing they are “abusive”… a label not easily shed. Run, don’t walk and find some mature Godly Christians who will hold you accountable, help you with your marriage, and support you as you honor the vows of lifelong fidelity and loyalty to your spouse.

I’d like to hear what you readers think about this whole “emotional abuse” syndrome we see today. Also, what do you think about the VERY tough issue of how to advise a genuinely physically abused woman? Jump on the message boards and leave me and the other readers a note or two. You’re lucky… you don’t have to leave your name or email address! http://www.seriousfaith.com/message_boards/toast.asp?sub=show&action=posts&fid=6&tid=1191

PS: WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS FOR ME? Ask here. To give a gift of support, click here.