Dear Lynette, In the past I have been abusive to my wife both physically and emotionally. We have been separated for several years. She is wanting a divorce because of the abuse.
She will not agree to receive counseling. I am EXTREMELY remorseful and repentant for what I have done and the damage that I have done to her and our marriage. We are both Christians and were married in the church.
I am currently receiving counseling and have been attending since last year.
My question is: Is physical and emotional abuse biblical grounds for divorce?
Thank you for your attention to my question.
Dear Friend, while the Bible is not clear about abuse being grounds for divorce there are some principles which are clear:
1. God's plan is that the home should be free of oppression (Is 54:5-14; Rom 12:8).
2. Physical violence and verbal abuse are forbidden by God (Ps 56:5-6; Is 58:4-6; Mt 5:22; 1 Thess 4:3-6).
3. While Christians may in some circumstances risk their lives for the sake of the gospel, they should not be exhorted to remain or return to life-threatening situations that might be avoided (Rom 16:3-4; Mt 4:5-7; Acts 9:23-24; 12:17; 14:19-20; 17:6-10 19:29-31: 23:10, 12-24).
4. Sometimes separation is the best course for the safety and peace of family members (Gen 13:7-11; 14:8-16; 21:9-21; 25:8-9 27:41-45; 32:1-33; 45:4-15; Prov 24:1-2; Acts 16:36-40; Col 4:10; Philem 24; Cor 7:5).
I believe abusers can change and am happy to hear that you have! The problem is that marriage is built on a foundation of trust and the kind of abuse you are talking about fractures that trust and intimacy - resulting in fear.
I can't speak for your wife - but, can understand her emotional state and the difficulty she has with trusting you.
I recommend you continue to build your life. If your wife decides to give the relationship another chance - then, go for it. But, don't pressure her into it because then the stronghold of "control" will continue in your relationship. The need for control is the motivator for abuse. You want to give her a choice vs. control her decision. If your relationship is to begin again - you want it to be healthy. And you want her to love you freely as God gives people the choice to love Him freely.
Attend a Divorce Care Group so you can get the support you need during this transition in your life.
God bless you in the New Year. Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC
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