Divorce because of abuse?

Interesting news regarding Grudem and divorce. Anyone surprised?

This should probably be spit to a separate topic. What do you think @jtbayly?

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Who defines abuse?

And why would a woman whose husband is abusing her not go to the elders? And which elder would not call the husband to account and to repentance? Repentance would result in a very significant change in the type or amount of abuse. Ongoing accountability and sanctification would be required.

But if he refused to repent then he is not of the Body. I would not counsel a woman to remain married to a repetitively abusing non- Christian husband - if you can call him that.

Call this man s husband and you insult all other husbands, even Christ.

I’m just not sure how you can say he has not abandoned his wife if the whole point of the marriage (in his mind) is to give him a victim for his sadistic nature.

The problem is with her not going to the elders or the elders not holding the man accountable. If she doesn’t know she has the right to go to the elders then the problem is with the teaching and leadership of the elders.

Of course if we have some squishy definition of ‘abuse’ then we run into all kinds of other problems.

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Not knowing a lot about Dr Grudem, and not having the full story, this:

After hearing examples of real-life couples whose Christian beliefs led them to endure abuse rather than separate, Grudem said he looked closer at Scripture

seems to be happening a lot lately. The path for many popular theologians appears to be:

  1. Express a conviction of an absolute affirmed by Holy Scripture. Staunchly stick by it as long as it is primarily academic and does not collide with the mess that is real life.
  2. Hear an emotional story that makes you upset.
  3. Look more closely at Holy Scripture.
  4. Wow! I was reading it wrong this whole time and it just happens to line up with my feelings about the aforementioned emotional story.

People are fallible. We’re not perfect readers of the Word. But the process I’ve enumerated… it takes me both hands to count the times it’s happened in the last couple years.

I’m not saying Grudem is intentionally doing this. But this:

My wife Margaret and I became aware of some heartbreaking examples of such things as severe sexual humiliation and degradation that had continued for decades, and another case of physical battering that had gone on for decades

does not justify blurring the Scriptures as if they are one of those Magic Eye pictures you see at the mall, this is a reason to speak with fire and fury against the church whose job it was to be shepherding these people. If they were even under the authority of a church in the first place.


Let’s talk about a topic (divorce and remarriage for abuse) rather than a person. Thx, brothers.


The real issue that needs to be dealt with is remarriage, not divorce.

If a spouse is undergoing real abuse, then I would definitely recommend living apart and legal separation. In some states, legal separation is no longer available now that no-fault divorce is on the scene, so in that situation I think civil divorce is permissible for the purpose of separating finances. But in the eyes of the church, the couple are still married, so remarriage is not a blanket option.

Biblically speaking, being married to an unbeliever/excommunicant/abuser is not the same as being abandoned if the unbeliever/excommunicant/abuser still desires to be married. At least that’s my reading of 1 Cor. 7:12-13. It’s not necessary to continue living in the same house and suffering abuse, but remarriage would result in committing adultery since abuse is not the same as sexual immorality (Matt. 19:9).



Here’s the talk if you’re interested in listening. I plan on listening soon.

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A fair distinction. Married for the purposes of no remarriage but married in no other respect.

I’m not sure I totally agree but I can appreciate the distinction.

“Abuse” as defined by the Duluth Model encompasses anything that could be even vaguely defined as Biblical headship. And the Duluth Model is ubiquitous in the American justice system and the psychology industry.

So be aware that when some people say “abuse” they mean “physical beating.” When others say “abuse,” they mean things including “being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.” “Abuse” is a massive camel nose under the tent flap.

It also makes a great motte-and-bailey where opponents of headship get to run back and forth between “power and control” and “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”


Wilson just wrote about it here: https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/exceptions-and-loopholes.html


I thought his distinction between separation and divorce was helpful. I also appreciated that he highlights the WCF that explains that we are “apt to study arguments.” We are.

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