What Does the Bible Say about Divorce for Abuse?
When a woman* finds that her husband is not a safe person either physically or emotionally, the biggest question I often see her struggle with is, “What now? Divorce is not an option. I made vows before God, and I must keep them.”
This is a personal question that each person must answer individually before God, and I will never encourage anyone to do anything contrary to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in their own heart. Whether you go or whether you stay, I want you to be led of God, and I will support your decision either way.
However, it is impossible to wrestle with this decision without adequate information about what the Bible says about divorce. So many have heard “God hates divorce,” but that is a massive oversimplification and a complete misrepresentation of the scripture!
Below I’ve provided many links to places where you can study the topic of divorce for yourself, especially as it relates to divorcing an abusive or emotionally abusive spouse. (Including a link on this page does not necessarily constitute an unconditional endorsement of a particular author or speaker.)
The various authors here show that Christians not only can but sometimes should seek the protection that God offers them through divorce. Again, this does not necessarily mean that you should; that is between you and God. But it does mean that should you come to the conclusion that divorce is your necessary recourse, there is no condemnation for you. God loves you and has graciously provided divorce as a way of escape and protection from a hard-hearted spouse.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links
Note: To keep the information here from feeling too overwhelming, I’ve placed an asterisk beside a few of the most concise and least technical resources. You may wish to start with those if you aren’t in a position to dive in super deep right now.
Letter to a Pastor Explaining Biblical Divorce
What Does the Bible Really Say About Divorce*
Divorce is Sin…Says Who? (There are many other great articles about divorce on this site too.)
A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce
Breaking Faith or Bearing Fruit?*
Divorce for Non-physical Forms of Abuse
What Does the Bible Really Teach About Divorce?
Understanding the Marriage Covenant
God’s Protection of Women (free download, used by permission)*
The Life Saving Divorce: Hope for People Leaving Destructive Relationships*
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church
Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery, and Desertion
God is My Witness: Making a Case for Biblical Divorce
What are the Biblical Grounds for Divorce?
The Good News of Marriage and Divorce
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage Sermon Series
What God Hates More than Divorce (Part 1)
What God Hates More than Divorce (Part 2)
Recovering from Spiritual Abuse (divorce teaching begins around 10:00 mark)
Divorce Was God’s Protection of Women in the Old Testament*
Dr. David Instone-Brewer’s library of videos on the theology of divorce
Finally, watch this brief Playmobil illustration explaining the four causes of Biblical divorce: