Jun 14, 2011

The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse

One of the problems when dealing with domestic abuse in a Christian context is, “What does the Bible says about divorce for domestic abuse?” I believe the Bible allows divorce for domestic abuse, and the key text for this is 1 Corinthians 7:15 – But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. For God has called us to peace.

This verse has been generally assumed to relate to desertion: when an unbelieving spouse walks out, abandoning a marriage with a Christian spouse, but not legally divorcing them. However, in the Greek text the word “depart” (chorizo) means “to place space between, to separate” and it was one of the standard terms for legal divorce in the first century. 

Typically, perpetrators of abuse do not walk out of their marriages – they want to stay in the relationship because they enjoy the power, privilege and control they obtain therein. So the victim of abuse thinks verse fifteen does not apply to her. However, when correctly understood, it is the verse which gives her freedom. (And yes, men can be victims too; though it appears to be much less common than men being the perpetrators).

In my book Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion I define domestic abuse as a pattern of conduct by one spouse which is designed to obtain and maintain power and control over the other spouse. It always includes emotional and verbal abuse and may also include financial abuse, social abuse (restricting the victim’s contact with family and friends), sexual abuse, physical violence, and spiritual abuse such as twisting scriptures to justify the abuse. Abusers who never use physical violence (and there are many) are still very frightening and controlling to their victims. Post-separation, many of these abuses may continue, with the added element of legal abuse leading to protective mothers sometimes losing custody of their children to the abuser.

The perpetration of domestic abuse effectively pushes away the other spouse and divides the marriage. The fact that many victims eventually leave abusive relationships testifies to this pushing away. Perpetrators usually protest that they want the marriage to continue, but their evil conduct conveys the exact opposite – it effectually pushes the opposite spouse away.

When applying 1 Corinthians 7:15, the key question is not who walked out? but who caused the separation? Would it be sensible to say that David was the sinful rebellious one when he left Saul’s court? No; David left because of Saul's abuse. David left, but Saul was the cause of his leaving. If we translate the word chorizo as “separate” we see this more clearly: if the unbeliever separates, let him separate. The unbeliever is doing the separating; the believer is commanded to let it be done. This tells the believing spouse (and the church) to allow the marriage to be over, because the unbeliever has destroyed the covenant. It permits the victim of abuse to take out a legal divorce. Let there be chorizo = let there be separation = let there be legal divorce, because the word chorizo means both separation and divorce.

In Not Under Bondage I also show that since the brother or sister is not under bondage, the victim of abuse is free to remarry a new partner (unlike the instance in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 where marriage to a new partner was forbidden).

This idea isn't new
Before no-fault divorce came into vogue, there was a ground for divorce under English law called 'constructive desertion'. Constructive desertion was deemed to have occurred if one spouse so ill-treated the other that the victim was justified in leaving the abusing spouse, having been driven to do so. The act of desertion was understood as having been caused by the abuser. The concept of constructive desertion was recognized by Puritan theologians who saw it in 1 Corinthians 7:15. My interpretation of that verse is not new, it's just been lost (buried under male-privilege?) for several hundred years.

What if the abuser is a professing Christian? 1 Corinthians 7:15 only applies to marriages where the opposite spouse is a nonbeliever. If an abuser is a professing Christian, efforts may be made to bring them to repentance (Matt. 18:15-17), but pastors please note: usually a Christian victim of abuse has tried to bring her abuser to repentance for years, often decades, before disclosing her predicament to the church leaders.

An abuser who doesn't demonstrate genuine repentance should be treated as an unbeliever (victims and pastors, please refer to my Checklist for Repentance). Because the abuser is to be treated as an unbeliever, the believing spouse who has suffered under the abuser is at liberty to take out a divorce under 1 Corinthians 7:15.

When it comes to domestic abuse, biblical discipline has been appallingly neglected or inappropriately employed by church leaders. But there is a line in the sand and churches must draw it when it comes to the perpetrator of domestic abuse. It's not okay for pastors to take a neutral stance vis a vis perpetrator and victim. Neutrality is not neutral. Neutrality effectively means you become an ally of the abuser, because if you take the view that both parties are contributing to the marriage problem, then you're effectively saying "It's not abuse” — which serves the agenda of the abuser. When responding to domestic abuse, the proper feeling is outrage, and the only righteous stance is to fully support the victim, while holding the perpetrator accountable.

Because abusers are great at feigning repentance and enlisting allies among clergy, an abuser's supposed repentance should be cautiously evaluated and stress-tested over time, just as Joseph tested his brothers’ repentance before reconciling with them. Repentance is not mere words, it should be demonstrated in changed attitudes and behavior. Please refer to my Checklist for Repentance.

Church leaders should always check with the victim to know how she sees her abuser's demonstrations of reformation, whether she thinks he is really reforming or just feigning it. This principle has been followed for years by best-practice secular programs which run behavior change groups for abusers. Clergy who are assessing an abuser's repentance need to follow the same protocol: they should consult with the victim at all stages.

Liberty, but not license
The principles outlined here don't open the floodgates to all divorce. Allowing divorce for abuse, on the principle of constructive desertion under 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not the same as allowing divorce for any disaffection. Because abuse is defined as a pattern of conduct designed to obtain and maintain power and control over the other, my teaching cannot be misconstrued to allow divorce for the catch-all excuse of 'incompatibility', or for the occasional instances in non-abusive marriages where one spouse shows a lack of consideration for the other spouse. In all abuse, efforts should be made to bring an abuser to repentance. However, it is important to be aware that most victims of abuse have already made many efforts in this direction before they seek help from a pastor or other professional. Indeed, the victim has usually borne too much for too long and the pattern of abuse has become deeply entrenched.

Note: This post was updated on 15 Feb 2015


  1. As a Christian victim of abuse, I struggle with this concept, which goes against the grain of mainstream teaching.

    All my life as an active church member, I have been taught that the priority is always to save marriages. Perhaps the question should be asked, why is the church having to save so many marriages, and why is their mission to save marriages not succeeding, since the rate of breakdown seems to be no different to that of the world?

    The usual answer is that worldly teaching has crept in the church, and people think like the world. However, teaching on marriage is as strong as ever in the church, so the average churchgoer doesn't view marriage in the same light as an unbeliever. I personally don't know of mature active Christians who regard divorce as the easy way out. Yet I know of many who have divorced, after much anguish and deliberation.

    Maybe church leaders are missing this elephant in the sanctuary - domestic abuse. It is wrecking marriages. You can't save such marriages without addressing the abuse. If you make saving the marriage the priority instead of tackling the abuse, you will probably fail. If you tackle the abuse, you may lose the marriage too, but at least you save lives.

  2. I agree Flamingo that it's vital for the church to open their eyes and tackle the abuse.
    Probably most church leaders would agree with the 'motherhood statement' that they ought to tackle abuse. And sadly, many believe they are tackling it properly simply by preaching that husbands should love their wives. But much more is required than pulpit platitudes. They publicly bemoan the prevalence of divorce in the church, but they generally shy away from public discussion about the victim's liberty to divorce when an abuser DOES NOT change.
    I think many victims are tired of being rendered invisible.

  3. I'm a Christian, but my husband is not a believer. To him, my faith is a "myth" and he could care less about what the Scripture says in regard to "loving your wife." It would be ideal if all husbands and wives followed the Bible's advice on marriage, but what is the church to do for its believers who are suffering and struggling but have spouses who could care less what a pastor or church leader, or even God Himself, has to say? My husband won't leave (as I know many Christians would then think divorce was fine since the unbeliever departed) because he refuses to work and I'm the breadwinner. He's not going to leave a situation that benefits him - where he gets to abuse me and have me support him, too. I don't attend church because I know no one there would understand or care and would just tell me to keep giving a "good witness" to save him - not going to happen. I'm hurting and feel no care from the so-called "family of God."

    1. know that the lord loves you, he fights for you. you are worth a new dream. praying for you

    2. I would recommend Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee and Leslie Strobel. I found it very honest, compassionate, biblical, and comprehensive. It also has very practical advice on how to make the marriage work and be a good witness to the husband. It has a very balanced perspective that although the Christian spouse has a huge spiritual impact on the non-believing spouse, it is ultimately not their responsibility but God's to work in their hearts. A must read if you are in such a marriage or ministering to someone in such a marriage. I bought the book to minister to someone who was in such a marriage and also got her a copy. She said it helped so much because it convicted her and described exactly how she felt about the marriage and helped her so much.

    3. Anon, I hear your pain and your frustration with the church. If you haven't already done so, I suggest you visit A Cry For Justice which is where I blog now. The community there is very active and will support you, even though your local church may not.
      here's the link

    4. Wow - your story sounds EXACTLY like mine. I just filed for divorce from my abusive husband of almost 5 years. Not only that, but he has built a relationship on lies, lies about where he is and who he is with. because of our kids, I cannot follow him around nor can I afford to hire someone to do so to catch him in his other acts that I know are happening.
      We sought marriage counseling over a year ago, but it was weak. The counselor didn't address the real "elephant" in the room of abuse and made it both of our project to save the marriage.
      Fast forward to this past December, I sought counsel from my church of 15 years, and the pastor only told us how his parents remarried each other after their divorce, and that he could mediate our divorce, but he never once really addressed the issue with my husband.

      So now that we are in the divorce process, my husband is furthering his abuse toward me by finding ways to work the legal system in his favor (our children and me were removed from our house as he filed a false protection agreement, and now he has filed for spousal support because he chose to not work all of the times he told me he was working). Somehow expecting me to pay for it.

      And now that I've taken the step to finally, after much prayer and consideration, leave him, I see so much christian teaching AGAINST me remarrying. So, though our marriage is technically annulled and built upon lies that I didn't find out about until after, I'm stuck being in this state and not even looking forward to a husband who would truly love me some day unless we both wanted to risk being looked at as adulterous according to many christians.

  4. Dear sister, I am convinced you have biblical grounds for divorce because your husband's abusive pattern of conduct (an intentional pattern of conduct which is designed to obtain and maintain control over another) is in effect pushing you away. He may not ever leave (indeed, as you describe, he has plenty of reasons for staying!) but he is actually driving YOU to leave should you choose to do so – it's your choice, but you would bear no guilt at all if you chose to do it.

    The church so often doesn't Get It. You feel no care from many fellow believers because they in fact don't care - they may not realise their beliefs and attitudes are uncaring, but they are. They need to be educated.

    Sometimes whey you point out to people that their beliefs and attitudes are supporting abusers and harming victims, they are dismayed, and want to learn how to do it differently. But in my experience, it's more common for them just to switch off, or discount what you say. Sigh.

    Whether or not you ever get support from local Christians, I want to affirm to you that you are entitled to leave and divorce your husband. Anyone who disputes this should read my book before they make the final judgement. I'm happy to answer questions and field arguments from anyone who disputes my interpretation of the scriptures. Trouble is, most objectors don't bother to read my book thoroughly.

    While there are wonderful exceptions, the church by and large has not picked up the ball on the issue of domestic abuse. In the 19th century, the church often endorsed slavery, but eventually the true teaching of Scripture was accepted and slavery was no longer supported. In the 21st century the church faces an equally momentous issue: will it properly respond to domestic abuse? We can all be part of the answer.

  5. I would say this is where an objective third party in the church would be the best judge.

    Today, it seems the term abuse is tossed about. Even no fault divorce cites mental cruety as grounds. However, no such grounds need be proven. All the "abused" spouse has to say is that they are afraid, or that they "feel" hurt and society and even the church gives them a pass.

    When my ex-wife had her affair, instead of holding her accountable for her behavior, I was asked what I did to force her to have an affair.

    She said I was controlling. Well of course I was upset that she was having an affair, spending marital assets on her love nest with another man. Who wouldn't be? But yet it was her that yelled, hit, lied, cheated, and manipulated.

    No one cared. When I went to the police after she slapped me, it was not taken seriously. The courts cared little about her behavior.

    The fact that I could pay off $70K in debt WHILE divorcing underscored the fact that she was a spend-thrift and once she was limited to child support only, there where ample funds to run the home she abandoned on my income alone AND pay off this debt during the divorce proceedings.

    I think there should be a way out for those who are abused. But I think those who claim the cause of Christ should be willing to have their claims examined by the Church to see if they hold water, or if they are merely fabricated justifications to deflect attention from their own abusive and destructive behaviors.

  6. tbright, if what you say is the true and full picture, then it does sound like the church did not investigate thoroughly enough or make the best response. You did not mention whether the church actually made any ruling about the biblical grounds for the divorce, only that they questioned you about what you had done that might have inclined your wife to have an affair. I agree that if a wife has an affair that is sin, and there are no excuses for it, even if the husband was controlling.
    If a husband is controlling, that's a sin. If a wife has an affair, that's a sin. If these things are co-occuring, then both parties are sinning each in their own way. And they can't really cite the other party's sin as the cause of their sin.

    On the other hand, I agree that a classic manipulator/abuser will claim that their spouse's behavior is the 'cause' or 'provocation' for their misconduct. And this claim can often sound very believable to bystanders. I am unable to assess what exactly went on in your marriage, Mr Bright, but I can affirm that manipulative people will try to deny and evade responsibility for their bad behaviour.

    Your statements about the finances: if you were able to pay off that large debt while going thru divorce, and your income hadn't changed from before the marriage broke down to after it broke down, then that would suggest that your wife had been acting like a spendthrift before the marriage broke down.

    The secular 'no-fault' divorce system often produces 'no justice' for victims of marital misconduct.

    I am not really able to comment further. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  7. Dear Barbara,
    I was in a relationship and my partner had come to know Christ while in jail. ( I had to call the police because of his abusive behavior). We have two small children. While he was in jail, he found Christ. When he came out I confessed that I had been cheating shortly before he went to jail. He forgave me but soon after started becoming abusive to the point where all I felt I could do was run. So I did. I left him but started in my old pattern of infidelity. He was so angry at me for not coming home (my children and I were staying with family)He became so abusive that he almost killed me and almost hurt the children. I had to go to the police. Things were too out of control.Now I can't help but feeling guilty. I feel like yes, his unforgiving attitude and abuse pushed me away, but I didn't HAVE to cheat again. I just went back to the old pattern. I feel that he did need a lot of time to forgive me because instead of my confession healing things, it worsened them. And his alcohol abuse was affecting our family AFTER he had been saved. Now I have a hard time forgiving myself for the choices I made but at the same time feel like because he knew of my past and that I cheated before he went to jail, he couldn't forgive me as much as he wanted to. There was a strong pattern before he went to jail and even though he almost hit the children with his car while they were in mine, I can't help but feeling sad that the children don't have their dad. I feel divorce was the safest option for my family but have doubts I made the right choice even now. Was this right of me to do biblically speaking?

    1. Dear Unknown, thanks for your comment. I don't have time to reply in depth just now but will do so as soon as I can. Bless you.

    2. Here I am again, Unknown. It sounds to me like divorce was indeed your safest option as your husband had a pattern of mistreating you and the kids and alcohol abuse. I doubt that has really been born again, if he continued to behave so badly after his 'conversion'.

      Yes you cheated on him; that was certainly wrong. But your confession did not "make" your husband's behavior worse: he CHOSE to behave worse of his own free will.

      Biblically speaking it was right for you to divorce him for the well-being of yourself and your children. The sadness you feel (about the children not having their dad) could be coming from some wishful thinking - wishing he was a GOOD dad not a bad dad, and that your life with him could have worked out 'happily every after', and these feelings might be mixed with remorse and guilt for your own sins of promiscuity. I used to be very promiscuous myself before I was born again and made alive in Christ. I was desperate to be loved and held by a man, I was not seeking sex, I was seeking emotional reassurance. But of course I never found that reassurance was lasting, it was like an addict, seeking his fix but never being satisfied for long and needing another fix and another fix. I hope you can do whatever it takes to say NO to the temptation to give yourself to a man just for short-term satisfaction, and that you can find support and help so you can feel worthy of treating yourself with dignity and respect, so that if you ever find another man, you will attract one who treats you with respect.
      I don't know whether you have found Christ yourself, or whether you are just thinking about wanting to obey the Bible because you were taught that it was right to do so.

      I urge you to seek Christ: read the New Testament and ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you. Resisting the pull of sin is indeed difficult when we try to do it in our own strength. But when we are in Christ and He in us, and when we cling to Him and love Him more than we love the world, we ask for His help and He gives us power to turn from our sins with grief and hatred, and turn to God with full resolve and effort after new obedience. I pray that you will find and walk this path of life, and that you will be able to bring up your children in a safe and loving environment.

    3. This comment was truly accurate...I. am now pregnant ( a few weeks) by a non believer and he wants me to abort. I know this is not biblical! Neither is having sex before marriage but like you I was just seeking emotional reassurance. Now I feel more stuck than ever. I want to seek God and set a good xample for my kids. I am thinking about adoption but how to explain that to my children. Certainly one thing is true...the broken road is certainly not the one God has planned for me to take...I have made poor choices. Please pray for me.

    4. Unknown, if adoption becomes your choice I am a woman lacking the ability to have a biological child and would love and nuture a child within a Christian home.

  8. If explaining to your children about why you would have the baby adopted is the biggest obstacle, then I would encourage you to 'face the music' and explain your reasons to them.

    Of course, how much you tell them depends on how old and how mature they are. But if you were to convey to them that you have sinned, and are very sorry for your sin, but are not wanting to do another sin to make up for the first sin, and you feel the child would have a better chance of a good upbringing if it were adopted by another family, then I think your kids would admire you for your honesty and integrity.

    Kids don't have to see us as perfect. When we confess our sins to our children, and they see us making efforts to not sin in the future, we are modelling to them how to live life according to God's precepts. Remember, the Bible says:
    "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9)

    I have prayed for you, and will continue to do so. I don't know what the way through is for you, but I do know that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

    I hope you can find more support. I think if you have people you can share with, a counselor, and/or friends who are able to listen with love and help you find and follow the path of righteousness, and as you gradually develop the muscle to resist the temptations that the devil places before you, you will come through this difficult pass. Bless you. Remember, Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

    And "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

    I would like to suggest that you read or listen to some teaching by R C Sproul. You can find his ministry at http://www.ligonier.org/

  9. Well, I'm enjoying a peaceful Christmas morning alone, and this article has brought much needed relief to my soul. In the 24 hours after my [now ex] husband broke down a bathroom door to get at me, the Lord showed me clearly that He was setting me free. While I no longer live in fear, I sometimes struggle with doubt and the thinly veiled judgement of loved-ones in my church family. Thank you, Barbara, for your careful study of the Scriptures in regards to divorce. I am so thankful for the mercy of Jesus, and you are one who has shown it to me, albeit through a blog. :)

  10. Dear Jenny, that is one of the nicest Christmas presents I've received. I love hearing that I have helped a survivor shed the doubts and be more able to resist the guilting fingers of others who don't understand abuse or who have wrong doctrine about what the Bible says about divorce for abuse.

    If you haven't already done so, you might like to visit the blog cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com where I blog now with a team of people who "get" this stuff.

    God bless you, Jenny, and (((hugs))) from me.

  11. Abuse is the opposite of Cherish. Women be free. I know my time is coming to leave and I feel the Spirit of God will be glad within me.

  12. I am a Christian married 32 years. My husband is not. For many years I have excused his abuse and belittlement, control & bad temper. But last week he hit me.....accidently of course!!!!
    I have decided once he comes home from work ina few days that I will be asking him to put some space between us until he gets his act together. My 3 adult sons support me in this. should this lead to a better him well & good. Should it lead to divorce, God has promised me in Psalm 121:7,8 NIV "The Lord will keep you from harm - he will warch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming & your going both now & forevermore." I believe this but mate, am I scared!

    1. Dear sister, I understand your fear, and it is realistic: research shows that the period of highest danger for the victim of domestic abuse is the period around separation.

      I strongly suggest you make contact with your local domestic violence support service. Google or search till you find the right contact details and persevere until you can get an appointment with them. They will believe you, and they will NOT diminish your story just because your abuser has not used much violence. DV workers know that physical violence is not always present in domestic abuse, but abuse can be VERY BAD without any physical violence happening.

      There are DV hotlines in quite a few countries. A DV support service will help you develop a safety plan that is tailored to your particular situation. A safety plan can be useful whether or not your are still living with your abuser. You could also look here for examples of safety plans:

      I also suggest you visit the blog A Cry For Justice, especially the Resources page
      which has lots of links for safety and risk assessment, and for books and other things we recommend.

      I want to commend you for your bravery in making this decision, and for your strength of character and creativity in resisting the abuse of your husband. I am sure you have only told me the tip of the iceberg of what he has done to you.

      You will find that A Cry For Justice has many survivors writing on it who will support you as you walk this path. Bless you, and hope to see you over at A Cry For Justice. :)

  13. thnak you
    since i wrote to you my usband is telling his family I demanded we put space between us for at least 6 months. Not how it happened, but tuff. He also said funny how you don't remember what you said before hand. Strangely he won't tell me what I said. Of course you can't remember what didn't happen! Again he is such a compulsive liar hewr believes himself. I have made an appointment with lagal aid in 2 weeks. So, I am expecting a rough road, but know that I have no choice anymore. My BFF says that, due to him punching me, God is saying "you are free, leave him to me" I'm going to go with that. I'll keep in touch. Thank you for being there for me. L x x

  14. Excellent blog. Christians are more likely to stay in abusive relationships. You cannot tell me God condones having our spirits crushed with verbal abuse every day or living in fear in your own home that could even lead to death. Thank you for writing this.

  15. Just a thought, well a bibilical thought. "1Cor 7:10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife."

    It would seem that in cases of abuse there is no problem to leave, or even divorce, if the word 'leave' and 'divorce' are synonymous in this context. The issue that becomes more difficult is remarriage. So, you can leave, even divorce, but remarriage? Nowhere can I find in scripture that this is spoken of as being without the judgement of adultery. I do not personally judge on this, however, scripturally I cannot find anything different. God has promised to take care of all our needs, if we keep His Word. A huge test of faith, and I speak from experience, but either His Word is true, or it is not.

    1. Linda, I strongly suggest you read my book. It explains in detail why I find remarriage permitted under 1 Corinthians 7:15, and why the 'remain single until the ex-spouse dies' is not what the Bible teaches.

      There are so many entrenched misunderstandings in Christendom about the doctrine of divorce and remarriage, it really needs serious attention. So rather than try to re-explain it all in this thread, I encourage you to read my book.

      If you don't want to buy it, just request you local library to get it in. Then after you have read it it will be available on the shelves to help a survivor of domestic abuse.

      Thank you for expressing your thoughts courteously. :)

  16. Thank you so much for this blog.

    I am a survivor of an abusive marriage. We use to go to my former father-in-law's church and I went to preacher to for help and he turned away from me as if I didn't say anything to him. Then while talking to a woman who I thought was my friend in the church, she told me that I was to "submit to my husband as he is to submit to God." The issue with that is he wasn't a Christian. He was only taking us to the church because his father was the cook for the free breakfast on Sunday mornings. I'm not going to go into all the deals but the marriage to him was extremely rough and filled with many tears and betrayals.

    But this blog does make me feel better about life after the divorce due to Christian faith about remarriage = adultery.

  17. I am divorced from my husband since 1988. He continues to make negative comments about me to anyone who will listen.

    The is still a memeber of the church we both attended when we were married. Because of all the negative comments he has made to me, the pastor at that church will not talk to me.

    Thise verbal comments will never end.

    1. Hi Anonymous, I hear stories like yours so often!
      It is unjust. It shows how the church and church leadership is incredibly ignorant about the mindset and tactics of domestic abusers. I hope you come to A Cry For Justice where I now blog with Ps Jeff Crippen. You will find support there, and many others who you will relate to. Bless you, and thanks for having the courageg to comment here. :)

      A Cry For Justice can be found at

  18. I'm contemplating divorce from my wife due to the financial strain she has put on us. Our bank accounts are now empty and debt has reached close to $70K with about 95% run up by her. Every year she tells me she won't run up the debts any more and here we are again in November and I find that she has spent almost $19,000 on one Discover card. I'm not sure about other cards she may have that I can't see. I work hard every day to support my family. She works part time as a substitute teacher. She had a business that made about $40K a year and that was perfect but she shut it down and has done nothing to replace that income. Yet her spending has not been curbed. She constantly denies sex with me even though I help with the kids, clean the house with her, fix anything that breaks and on and on and on. I am not perfect by any means but I can no longer stay in this disaster. She is jeopardizing my financial future along with my kid's financial future. What does the bible say about this situation? We are both believers however her faith is stronger than mine. Church attendance is a whole different story. I am dying inside here due to the stress of the finances and the lack of emotional and physical love she shows. I have tried discussing these topics numerous times and even went so far as to write her a 3 page letter explaining it all. She didn't read the entire letter and when the conversations start, she quickly says she doesn't have time to talk about things now. I am not nor have ever been a priority in her life as I look back on our 20 year marriage. I'm at my wits end on this one. Does anyone have any suggestions other than divorce when she won't listen or adhere to anything I ask of her? Thank you in advance for any and all replies.

    1. I suggest you read my book rather than ask me to explain it all on this blog post. If what you say is true, and you are being financially taken advantage of by you wife to that measure, that might constitute a form of abuse. However, from what you say it is not possible to identify whether she has an overall attitude of entitlement and shows a pattern of conduct that is bent on exert power and control over you -- so I am not able to determine whether she is abusive (by my definition of abuse). So, I suggest you read my book.

  19. Is a non working spouse the same as one who abandons? We've been married ten years and he has worked only the first four and then quit without even telling me first. I've bent over backward trying to help him get a job. I even moved across the country with him so he could attend a certain college and then he wouldn't even sign up. It was all a ploy to get me to move where he wanted. I work many hours of overtime just so we can get by. We sometimes have to eat rice for a week because there is no money for food and I'm so behind in bills I'm worried my wages may get garnished. He says he'd rather kill himself then get a job he finds demeaning and that I should be grateful he watches our daughter while I'm at work. But I'd rather she went to day care because he barely enter acts with her anyway.. Just sits her in front of the tv.

  20. A husband who refuses to work and resists pleas from his wife that he DO work, and he is quite capable of working (e.g. is not an invalid or seriously disabled so that he can't work) and his wife has pleaded with him to get paid work because they are so poor and if he went out and earned legitimate money she would not be run off her feet trying to keep things kind-of-*bearable* for the family as a whole --- yes, such a spouse has indeed abandoned his wife.

    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. -- 1 Tim 5:8

    That is pretty clear, isn't it. According to Paul the Apostle, your husband is worse than an unbeliver. (worse than the average unbeliever, who works to support his family.) Your husband, if he professes to be a Christian, is most certainly NOT one. Paul the Apostle — Holy Writ — says this, not me.

    I would strongly encourage you to read as much as you can on abuse, by coming to our blog A Cry For Justice. Also, if you can read Lundy Bancroft's book Why Does He DO That? as I suspect you will find lots of light bulbs lighting up -- you will see other things that your husband thinks, and does, and says, that are marks of domestic abusers.

    If you can't afford to buy Lundy's book, get it from a library. And ask them to get it in if they don't have it already. It is TOP NOTCH.

    And if you need a free copy of my book, email me. But my book would not be the thing that would benefit you most, at this stage, I think. From what you;'ve written, it sounds to me like a more general understanding of domestic abuse and abusers would be of more help to you than my book at this stage.

    many blessings to you, and thanks for asking your question. It's a good one.

  21. Firstly, thank you, Barbara, for sharing this.

    I have been married for 2.5 years to my ex-husband. Pre-marriage, he exhibited signs of abuse--yelling whenever we quarreled, bringing up my past and saying that I deserved it, etc. But I did not pick up on the signs, and went ahead to marry him. Once we became married, his behavior exacerbated. What started as yelling then became verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.

    Time and again he would cry and apologize, and promise that he wouldn't do it again. But change never came. I did my best to help him change, even changing everything that he would cite as reasons to hit me. But even after I changed those things, he would come up with new reasons to justify his anger. Time and again I gave him a "one last chance". Time and again I was promised change. But change never happened.

    After 2.5 years, I couldn't take it anymore. I left. Even now, I struggle from time to time, wondering whether it was the right Christian thing to do divorcing him. I know God never wants any of His child to be in an abusive relationship, but somehow I keep feeling like I did something wrong, like if I had given him one more chance maybe he really would have changed. Things are much better now, but from time to time, the past will still catch up to me.

    I am now with a stable, respectful and loving man. He knows about everything in my past, and has always been very patient whenever my emotions get the better of me. He has recently indicated that he wants to have a life with me, that he wants to marry me.

    I have 2 questions.. Is divorce due to abuse allowed? Different people say different things about whether divorce due to domestic abuse is right by the bible. Secondly, is it okay for a divorcee to remarry? Does God allow it?

  22. Dear Anonymous
    if you get my book it will answer your questions in detail, but the short answer is Yes, God does allow divorce for domestic abuse, and you are free to remarry after having divorced for abuse.

  23. I grew up in an abusive home and I was in an abusive marriage (physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually) for 10 years. I won't go into detail because it's pointless to do so. I struggled many years with what to do and what God wanted from me. I tried to be the Proverbs 31 wife. I read the power of a praying wife, I immersed myself in scripture and tried to live it. After 10 years of silence I did go to my church, begging for help. They counseled me to try to save the marriage. And I really tried. When my 9 year old daughter came to me and told me she was scared when daddy got angry like he did that he might accidentally hurt her. I had had enough and I took my 2 children and left. I was very active in my church and was an active part in mnay venues of the church. When my divorce was final my church asked me to step down from all my positions and told me that I could no longer represent who Christ was. This began a disconnect between my head knowledge and my heart knowledge. I believed what my church said...to me this meant I was of no use to God. I was no longer wanted.. I was no longer loved by God. My divorce was 14 years ago and I still struggle with the guilt of being divorced. I still struggle with knowing whether what the church believed about me was true. I am trying to learn to see myself as God see's me but it's hard with so many years of being told you aren't loveable or wanted by anyone much less by God himself.

    1. Dear Anonymous, you were not in sin to divorce your abuser. The Bible gives the victim of abuse liberty to divorce without any condemnation whatsoever. The church that judged and penalized you was wrong, and they sinned against you.
      If you haven't already done so I encourage you to visit cryingoutforjustice.com where you will find many others who have suffered both marital abuse and church abuse, like you have suffered. You are not alone. Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing.

  24. After being in relationship with him for 3 years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the other ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is DRABEGDIONSPELLCASTER@GMAIL.COM you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other problem. you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other problem.

  25. My husband and I are both active youth leaders in our church before. After we got married, I enjoyed having him as my spiritual partner as it had been even before we got married. But in a span of almost 3 years of our marriage, I had walked away from him and our home for 5x already. I always believed that enduring my husband's attitude of bringing up the past decisions I had when I was yet married to him and my wwong choices before were unforgivable and justified his acusations that GOD intends to punish me for my sins. He would suspect every man around me, co-workers, friends, youth of the church, even mere acquaintances as my lover or that I am flirting with them. He would be mad over my manner of dressing, and when we had children, he had began to forbid me and the kids to go to church because he said it was my excuse to see other men. For now, my husband and I separated but I know deep in my heart that I would want our family to be complete again, but I don't want to go on living with him hearing him tell me how stupid I am, how sorry he was for marrying me, how he thinks in his mind and in his heart to re-marry, and for how many times he had insulted me not just as his wife, but as a woman and mother of our kids. I wanted to believe he is a good person still and that GOD would work a miracle imn his life, in our marriage...when I miss him, I am tempted to communicate with him, but it has always been that way. I am the one hurt and I walk away and then I am the one who initiates the reconciliation, without him even seeing the things he has to change in himself

    1. Hi Monicc, I think you are wise to be not wanting to be verbally and emotionally abused by this man. May I encourage you to go to A Cry For Justice —
      which is where I currently blog most actively. I think you will find a lot of support from fellow survivors there. :)

  26. I come from a sometimes physically abusive marriage. He blames me for his actions. If i dont make him angry he is usually fine towards me. I moved out over 5 months ago cause I couldnt handle his unpredictable actions. We still talk sometimes but he still blames me for it all. I dont know what to do now. Can he change or should I just move on?

    1. Hi Carrie, I encourage you to visit the blog A Cry For Justice as you will find lots of support there. :)

      Can men who abuse their partners change?
      But the vast majority of the don't change.

      To read more about this, go to

      Here is one quote from that article:

      Can men who batter change? Yes; the great majority can change. And the great majority don’t. And the reason they don’t is not because they can’t, but because they’ve figured out that they don’t really have to. youtu.be/YmbrAWDft0s?t=12m46

    2. Also Carrie, the fact that your husband continually blames you for everthing shows he is NOT willing to change. Blame-shifting is one of the hallmarks of a domestic abuser.

    3. Carrie, I did something similar—shortly before you did—in regards to both parents and my brother. They, too, refuse blame for anything (which even the "nicer" parent did recently in the comments on my blog and via e-mail.) I've found it helpful to remember Romans 12:18—we are only responsible to live at peace with others insofar as we can effect that peace. (Note the verb "effect" ≠ "affect". :-) )

      Matthew 18:15–17 has a clear pattern: you go to someone once in private; if they don't repent, then once with a witness; if they don't repent, then once to the church/assembly; if they don't repent, then treat them as a pagan and tax collector. I've realized—after being "gracious" and repeating vs. 15 many times, then 16 more than once—that Scripture has good reason for that order. Scripture's specific order for things was designed to protect victims, and in thinking I would show even more grace and love than necessary, I was only hurting myself and demonstrating pride (thinking I knew better than Scripture).

      I personally have reached the point of v. 17, and my family's church governing body is insisting I have no interest in reconciliation or applying v. 15–16. (Yes. It's been a "fun" situation. It helps emotionally that I'm good enough at reading people that I predicted this outcome, but I'm still disappointed.)

      I've also been reassured by I Samuel 19–20 (Saul's children defied him to protect David—and Jonathan even rebuked his father to his face in public.

    4. thank you so much, Carradee for this comment. I like your insight into Matthew 18 and how we are told to only do steps one and two ONCE each time, not countless times -- and how that is meant to protect the victims. :)

      Would you like to submit that at A Cry For Justice too?
      Perhaps you might like to put it here:

      or here:

      or here:

      Or all three places!

  27. I have left my husband who I've been married to for 7 years and together with for 12 years.

    We both have faults and I did not fulfil the proper roles of a wife in the beginning.

    But fast forward to the last few years, I have been the sole income earner and my husband got progressively more violent. I called the police on more than one occasion. He refused to work for years and said it was not a big deal that I was the bread winner, that it meant nothing. He regularly verbally abused me, while I also said demeaning things too. He pushed me into shelves, threw me around, slammed my arm in a door and said that I caused it or made false claims that it was self defense and that I was the abuser. I did do things in retaliation, and I threw a glass at him which he claimed was as bad if not worse than what he did to me. He was a foot taller and 70+ lbs heavier but he said that was irrelevant and acted like a hard done by male victim of abuse. While what I did was flat out wrong, it was retaliation and I couldn't cause the harm he could. He always argued semantics like that, but accused me of doing so. He was so manipulative that it exhausted me. We had to move in with my mother because he would not work. Most of our furniture and belongings went to the garbage dump. He said it was my choice to move because I organized it all and did the work and cleaned out our rental property. But he forced me to make that choice because he refused to work. He also did no house or yard work and claimed he didn't see the issue or how that effects my life or that it shows he doesn't care.

    After we moved in with my mother (which made me miserable and was yet another embarrassing thing I had to explain and justify to people about my pathetic marriage and life) he continued the financial, verbal and physical abuse. He punched me in the ribs and head and justified it. I slapped at him in retaliation and that made him punch me more. He drank a lot, as he always did. So did I but alcohol didn't make me angry like it did with him. My mother commented that he is so lazy, conceited, delusional and manipulative and she began hating living in her own home.

    I eventually just stopped playing his games and he said he wanted a divorce, I agreed and kicked him out. He changed his mind about divorce but I said no. I never thought I could do it, but with my mother's help and support from a friend, I did.

    I'm now in another relationship and feel a lot of guilt over separation and now being in an 'adulterous' relationship. My husband is supposedly Christian but I'm not, but I try. He said my sins will lead me to death. It's horrible to feel that my new found happiness is evil. I care so much for my current partner and really see a future with him, he is my best friend.

    1. Dear Anonymous, I am sorry to have left your comment in moderation for so very long. It was not good of me. My inbox is flooded and I put most of my attention into the blog A Cry For Justice, not this 'notunderbondage' blog.

      You have definitely been a victim of domestic abuse from that former husband. Well done for divorcing him! You have shown courage and amazing stamina under all that pressure, abuse and neglect.

      You need not feel guilty for having separated from and and divorced your abuser. And you can rest assured that the Bible gives you liberty to remarry so long as you marry 'in the Lord' (marry a true Christian).

      I encourage you to visit A Cry For Justice as you will find it a much more active blog than this one.

      I suggest you start with this post:

      and also check out the New Users Page as it gives tips for keeping yourself safe while commenting on the blog: