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What Does the Bible Say About..Divorce for Abuse?

I have a disturbing question. My aunt has been married to her husband for 30 years and for the 30 years he has been married to him he has and still is committing adultery. He has now gotten a 16-year-old pregnant for him. She said the Bible does not allow her to divorce or leave him. But God does not want his children to be unhappy. He has no respect for her and she has accepted his emotional and verbal abuse and disrespect (by bringing his children from his affairs to their home). And she continues to pray but he treats her the same and still stays out all night like he has been doing for the past 29yrs. She was originally 130 pounds. Now at 55, she is 300 lbs. Can you shed some light on her leaving him, since there hasn't been a marriage, whether spiritual or physical?


Most people, including most biblical scholars, would disagree with her that the Bible does not allow her to divorce or leave him. Under the Law of Moses, divorce was allowed for almost any reason. Under the New Testament, Jesus said divorce was allowed, but for one reason only. "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matt 19:3-9)

Although some disagree on what is meant by "fornication," most accept that this allows a spouse to divorce the other if that person is guilty of "marital infidelity," as the New International Version puts it. If he has been unfaithful to her, if he has broken the covenant of marriage, then she has the right to formalize his break of the covenant by divorce.

While some take a stricter view of divorce, the Bible nowhere says she can not leave him. If he is abusive or unfaithful it may be safer for her to get out of the situation. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, addresses the case of a person who has become a Christian who was previously married to an unbeliever. If the unbeliever chooses to end the marriage (and adultery could be considered ending a marriage) then the Christian is not bound to try to keep the marriage together at all costs.

I do have to state, however, that even if divorce is authorized it is not commanded. A spouse who wishes to remain in a marriage with an adulterer may do so. Also, keep in mind that some people remain in such a marriage because of their own psychological choice. She may need some counseling, preferably by a qualified counselor who is also a Christian.