No Divorce for Abuse is a False Gospel

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  (Gal 3:3)

The widespread teaching permeating the Christian church that denies that abuse is grounds for divorce is in fact, I maintain, a false gospel. How can that be? After all, don’t the people that teach the permanence view of marriage (no divorce for any reason at all, never) profess Christ to be the Son of God, our Savior, through whom we are justified by faith alone? Well, yes….and no.

The fact is that even where Christians teach that divorce is approved by God only for adultery or for literal, physical desertion, but not for abuse, staying in an abusive marriage and suffering “for Christ” is presented as a means (a work) of making ourselves truly righteous before God, while failing to remain in that abuse puts the victim into a much more dubious standing in God’s sight. It’s true, isn’t it?  Think it through. The thing is not overtly stated, but the implication is quite strong. If you want God’s approval of your life, then you cannot divorce. The Lord, it is claimed, will have a special place in heaven for those who suffer patiently at the hands of an abuser spouse. For those who drop out, well . . . hmm . . . maybe they will make it, but at best they will be given a seat in the back row.

This is nothing less than a false gospel. It is works added to faith. And any such message is pronounced anathema by the Lord ¯ set apart for God’s divine and eternal curse. Oh, and so are those who preach a false gospel.

We are justified fully, completely, and finally by God solely through faith alone in the work of Jesus Christ alone, apart from works of the law. And that also means apart from the works of man-made traditions. The goal of all false teachers, through the teaching of their false gospel, is to bring Christ’s people into bondage. We are commanded by our General to never, ever submit to such a yoke.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
(Gal 5:1)

55 thoughts on “No Divorce for Abuse is a False Gospel”

  1. Great post! When I finally took that tightening-of-the-chest step to divorce my abusive ex four years ago so many Christians made me feel as if I had committed the one sin that could never, ever be forgiven. At the time, I did not see it that way. I just felt like I had failed so miserably and disappointed God so much that He would never truly love me. Crazy huh?
    When you consider this type of thinking, that someone in an abusive marriage has no right to leave and divorce, what about the murderers, alcoholics, adulterers, etc who give their lives to Christ, and He accepts them? Why in the world would He turn his back on me, a victim of abuse, for protecting myself and my children from more destruction at the hands of an abusive person??? What about the abuser?? How much of a sin is it for them to continue in their abusive ways without repenting??


    And fortunately, I came to see the crazy thinking involved in such a false gospel as this, but it’s not easy to do when those in the churches are so judgmental and condemning. 😦

  2. Jeff, I completely agree, the permanence (and/or no-divorce-for-abuse) view of marriage is a false doctrine…or at least directly leads to false doctrine when carried to it’s logical conclusion.

    I believe it also severely blunts our understanding and appreciation of the work accomplished by Jesus Christ on our behalf.

    I see a high percentage of Christians having little understanding of the Biblical concept of redemption. Redemption is such a foundational cornerstone to the Christian faith. Yet, we almost never hear any clear discussions as to what, exactly, redemption is, or from what or whom we have been redeemed. And I think a lot of the reason for lack of understanding of redemption stems from the negative connotation with which we surround divorce. When the Christian community stigmatizes divorce using slogans such as “Divorce is sin,” “God hates divorce,” and “Divorce happens because you make it an option,” we are demonizing the very tool by which Christ liberated us from our bondage to the kingdom of darkness.

    We cannot love redemption while hating divorce!

    Redemption is the just dissolution of a covenant of bondage by which someone or something belonging to God is being held captive. If divorce from a covenant of bondage were not valid then we could not have been redeemed from Adam’s covenant with the kingdom of darkness.

    Thank God, our Redeemer lives!

  3. I have never thought of it this way. Or, maybe it just hasn’t sunk in before. I still sometimes feel like a Christian who barely made it and sits in the back row . . . sort of acceptable-but-not-all-she-could-have-been. What in the world?! It is very much up to God to use us how He sees fit. Who do we think we are to decide who is worthy or not? Or on what level? Thank you for this, Ps. Crippen!

    1. Yes, it’s very easy to allow ourselves to slide into that second-rate-family-member isn’t it, Megan? I know people wonder why I’m so quick to point out seemingly minor issues on this topic…and I know some people think I’m being hyper-vigilant or over-sensitive. But it would be SO much easier to sit quietly and not make waves…and to allow the subtle lies to continue to propogate…and allow myself to again become desensitized to the false perceptions…

      So, now, when I hear a speaker say something like, “God hasn’t changed his mind about divorce!” I don’t just let it slide. I let it be known that I disagree with the negative implications and emphatically speak out in agreement that, “Yes, God still redeems His children from covenants of abusive bondage! He still liberates captives! He still acts as our Kinsman Redeemer! Thank God, He hasn’t changed His mind about divorce!”

      People look at me weird, but they know where I stand on these issues…and they are reminded of where God stands!

      1. Love This: “Yes, God still redeems His children from covenants of abusive bondage! He still liberates captives! He still acts as our Kinsman Redeemer! Thank God, He hasn’t changed His mind about divorce!”

    2. That’s one of the things I love about this blog: as we each share our insights, the penny drops for others. And the penny can drop, and then drop a bit further another day, and we think “Ah, I’ve got it now!” and then, lo and behold, it drops a bit further again, on another occasion! And we all sit around and hear each other announce little light bulb moments and nod our heads and smile and say “yeah, we know how you feel 🙂 ”

      In my experience, the same thing can happen in face to face support groups for survivors.

  4. Two things 1) I do believe that God literally hates divorce, He hates the ripping and destroying of a covenant made before Him. I believe He hates it because He loves the people it hurts (thank you Heather Kopp @ for that thought). I don’t believe divorce is ever God’s plan.

    2) Why is it that in every other part of life we Christians run around setting slaves free? When children, including teens, are beaten why aren’t they told to suffer under their “authority” for the greater good of God? When a person voluntarily becomes a hooker, we try to “rescue” them out of the bondage and abuse of the sex industry. We go to other countries and try to stop the widespread abuses against humanity. BUT WE TELL A WOMAN SHE MUST STAY IN HER ABUSE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD?

    uh oh on a roll. THE FIRST MOMENT a man (or woman) uses abusive language and tone of voice (as in screaming) to dominate and control the other, that covenant was broken. Remember the vows to love and honor? I would like to ask how punching someone in the face is honoring. But yes, lets just focus on the sin of the divorce not the sin of using someone for a personal punching bag.

    God hates divorce. Yes He does, He hates all sin, including beating your wife / husband and / or children. And I am betting He REALLY hates it when we use HIS WORD to continue to abuse others.

    And isn’t that the whole point of the cross? He hates the sin that so entangles us. He hates the wounding and the hurting done to people by people. He hates it so much because He loves us so much. Jesus died on the cross for divorce as much as any other thing and He did it to bring freedom, redemption and grace.

    makes you kind of wonder who God hates most, the person that got divorced or the good Christians circling their prey rocks in hand.

      1. Wow especially on the 2nd article. We were part of a marriage ministry which insisted that any divorce for any reason was sin and if you were remarried you were in a sinful marriage. You needed to repent of your sin of divorce and the sin of remarriage, regardless of whether you wanted the divorce or not or whether you even knew the Lord during that time. If you didn’t then your marriage could never be blessed.

        We struggled with that because we knew so many Christians who were on their second marriage and had a beautiful testimony and marriage. After a while we stepped out of that ministry because we couldn’t reconcile that idea.

        At one point I brought up some scripture ( think in Chronicles ) in which the Lord told the Isrealites specifically to leave their spouses. No on would answer that one for me.

        I have researched divorce alot and I am still on the fence about it. I have read arguments for and against backed up with tons of scripture. Oh I am so confused. I want to walk in and extend God’s grace to people who are dealing with junk in their lives, but I also have a heart to see God’s people adhering to His Word.

        Where and how are those lines drawn?? And do i even have the right to draw such a line?

        You have given me a lot to think about!! lol

      2. Bethtwo –

        “You’ve given me a lot to think about!!” YES! Mission Accomplished! 🙂

        My goal is to share the truths God has shown me. From there it’s between you and God to sort out if/how that fits for you…

        I have become convinced, though, that our church culture (in general) has developed a system of myths on the topic of divorce, and that the cultural mores associated with those myths are so prevalent that scripture is often interpretted on the basis of those myths.

        God bless you, and thanks for reading!

      1. Thanks I will definitely be checking them out. I once knew a woman who was abused by her husband pretty often. One day as I was taking her to a shelter for abused women I told her that there was no way I could be and stay married to a man who hit me. She said ” That is why God gave me the husband He gave me and gave you the husband He gave you. Because He knew I could handle it.”

        Blew me out of the water and broke my heart. She was pregnant at the time and I asked her does the baby belong in the equation too? She never answered me back. She went back to him.

        As far as abuse, having experienced it as a kid and seeing my mom get hit by a couple of guys I couldn’t care less if it was a sin to leave a man that was beating me. I pick sin over a beating any day.

        The other stuff will take some digging on my part. Thank you all who have shared resources, i will be using them.

      2. She said ” That is why God gave me the husband He gave me and gave you the husband He gave you. Because He knew I could handle it.”

        That makes me sad because now she is blaming God for her husband’s abuse. 😦

        What’s more, she implies that God gives sanction to the violation of the covenant and the breaking of the vows to love, honor, and cherish for one party while demanding the other party keep their vow, and even allows for the vow on the part of one to provide the means for the breaking of the vow with impunity on the party of the other.

        But Scripture says God is not yes and no, and that He is not the author of confusion. He isn’t going to have one set of rules for one party and another set for the other when the terms of their covenant were identical, which they were since they both said the same vow.

      3. ” That is why God gave me the husband He gave me and gave you the husband He gave you. Because He knew I could handle it.”

        GASP! Sounds like that old line “God won’t give you more than you can handle” — which is another piece of “pseudo doctrine” that could be dissected!
        I’m with BIT, that is so sad 😦
        But if you think about it — it’s just more rationalization on her part, to somehow reconcile the horror that is her marriage with the God of the Bible and the teachings of her ‘c’hurch. How does a person logically reconcile the ideas that “God loves me”, “God hates divorce & it is a sin no matter what the circumstances” and “Suffering for God is good”
        We get so tangled up, so lost and confused, that we rationalize things in any way that works, without regard for the implications we are making about God’s character. We slander God without knowing it … ?

      4. Regarding God not giving us more than we can handle, we do know that he will not tempt us beyond our ability.

        “13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

        I think there is a difference between temptation and suffering, though. We are never tempted to the point we are FORCED to sin, or at least that’s how I read it. This is not applicable in abuse cases because divorcing an abusive spouse is not a “temptation”.

      5. Jeff – yes temptation is different from suffering. Christians sometimes take that slogan “God won’t give you more than you can endure” – and toss it in the general direction of people who are grieving and suffering in terrible ways. I’ve seen it thrown at women who have just had their children suffer and die. And here it being used by a woman in an abusive marriage. This has nothing to do with “God will not allow you to be tempted by sin beyond your ability to withstand”.
        There are a LOT of things in my life that were much more than I was able to handle, and I cannot say to myself well. I guess God knew I was strong enough to take this beating and stay alive, so I guess God’s whipping me into shape” 😦 😦 There is something so awful in that.

      6. I remember thinking “I can’t handle this”. Once I’d established that, that meant either God hated me, or the people telling me God’s expectations were wrong. I chose to believe they were wrong rather than that I was an object of God’s hatred.

  5. WOW! This is great! I never thought about the teaching on suffering in abuse, as a manner of works, but that is what is being taught. Stay and suffer for Christ, and you will be blessed. Blessed how? In greater standing then with God? Does it make God love me more than if I had left? Not! Thank you so much, Ps. Crippen, for pointing this out! Very insightful.

  6. Amen!! We are Free!! We are Complete & Free through our Lord Jesus Christ and not under bondage!! We do not have to live in abuse. I was abused and & was married to a preacher.

  7. I still cringe when I hear “permanence of marriage,” and “God hates divorce,” For twelve horrendous years I was told by Christians (including pastors and counselors) that if I divorced the abuser I would have to stay single and wait for him to maybe one day be redeemed and then I’d have to reconcile. THAT was bondage!

    1. Or the other spin I’ve heard…have to remain single until the former spouse either remarries or has sexual intercourse with someone else. In which case, they are then guilty of adultery, and you are free to remarry.

      Really? Despite being divorced from that marriage…despite having been redeemed from that covenant of bondage, our liberty is dependent on someone else’s sin? Someone else (with whom I have no relationship) must sin so I can be free?

      How twisted is that theology?

      1. Indeed Joe, that kind of theology is as twisted as a tangled fishing line.

        Here’s a quote from my book [Affiliate link] (p. 48):

        If “not under bondage” does not mean “free to remarry”, the result is a moral anomaly. Hundreds of years ago, John Owen, one of the great Puritan writers, wrote about this moral anomaly:
        If the innocent party upon a divorce be not set at liberty [to marry again], then, — (1) He is deprived of his right by the sin of another; which is against the law of nature; — and so every wicked woman hath it in her power to deprive her husband of his natural right. (2) The divorce in case of adultery, pointed by our Savior to the innocent person to make use, is, as all confess, for his liberty, advantage and relief. But on supposition that he may not marry, it would prove a snare and a yoke unto him; for if hereon he hath not the gift of continency, he is exposed to sin and judgment.

        I’ll recast the important part in language that is gender neutral:
        If the innocent party upon a divorce be not set at liberty to marry again, then the innocent party is deprived of their right by the sin of another; which is against the law of nature; — and so every wicked abuser or adulterer has it in their power to deprive their spouse of their natural right.

      2. 50-Free –

        First, I would agree with Jeff C.’s comment, that the clear focus of this passage is on Jesus, as Messiah, offering living water. The emphasis is clearly not on condemning the woman, but on offering her eternal life.

        Beyond that, I would say that I have never seen any reason to interpret Jesus’ words of discernment about her marital history as anything other than the simplest and most obvious interpretation…that, for whatever reason, she had been married five times to five different men, but that she was not married to the man whom she was currently seeing (whether courting or living with).

        It should also be noted that Jesus said, “…you have had five husbands…” past tense (John 4:18). None of the five men who had previously been her husband was still her husband. Whether the marriages ended in death or divorce, they had ended, and she was currently unmarried.

      3. Oh, and I should add… The woman told Jesus “I have no husband.” Jesus confirmed her words saying “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband'” (John 4:17).

        So, this business of trying to twist the passage to say that the woman was still “spiritually married” (whatever that is supposed to mean) to a man from whom she had been divorced…to take that intepretation is to call the words of Christ a lie.

        Jesus said she was correct in stating she had no husband!

      4. Also, this passage makes clear that remarriage is possible. Jesus said he had 5 husbands, not one husband and 4 adulterous relationships.

      5. So basically you are still married to the abuser, until he dies or until he commits adultery. I’ve heard this too, and it kept me in bondage far too long. Many Christians use the woman at the well story to perpetuate this absurdity. Jesus told her that the man she was with is not really her husband. Christian fill in the rest – he’s not her husband because she’s still “spiritually” married to her ex.

        Do you (Joe) or anyone else here have any thoughts on what Jesus actually meant when He said that the man she was married to was not really her husband?

      6. 50 Free- That would really be stretching the interpretation of Jesus’ words in John 4, as you note. There are other very plausible possibilities. One is that this woman was not the culprit at all but the victim of legalized wife-swapping by the men of her day. Another would be that she had gone from man to man for some other reason, seeking to satisfy her spiritual thirst. Primarily Jesus was telling her facts about her life to show her that He was indeed the Messiah who could satisfy her spiritual thirst. And perhaps He even meant that her present so-called husband was no husband at all and she had once again come up empty in her search. The end result and John’s main point is that the woman did come to faith in Christ. Nowhere do we see Jesus’ main point of concern for her being that she must not go back to her husband, or that He was condemning her. She came to the well for water and found WATER.

      7. Fiftyandfree, my article on Still Married In The Sight Of God? gives background to how that phrase has been used in Christendom over the centuries.

        [This link was corrected to reflect the new URL. Editors.]

        Does anyone else here have any thoughts on what Jesus actually meant when He said that the man she was married to was not really her husband?

        My guess is that she was not actually married to that man, but was in some other kind of intimate relationship with him, perhaps as a type of concubine (which in our culture would be kind of like a mistress, rather than a legitimate wife).

        And it’s quite possible that she had had so many husbands because at least some of them had dumped her using the ‘legalized wife swapping’ that was enabled under the Hillelite divorce system. Men were getting rid of their wives because of trivial reasons, using the excuse ‘legitimized’ by the School of Hillel, that because Deuteronomy 24:1 talked about a man divorcing his wife for ‘a matter’ (not specific) that meant men had the right to dump their wives for any matter, even something as trivial as burning the toast. The woman at the well might have suffered that kind of treacherous divorce a number of times. And that’s rarely brought out in sermons. Usually the preacher casts aspersions on the woman for being a loose woman. Which makes me think that there is a little bit of prejudice going on . . .

      8. Megan – I agree, the divorced-but-not-free-to-marry position is crazy-talk, with neither scriptural nor logical basis.

        Jeff S. – Yes, this passage is certainly clear that each of the woman’s five prior marriages was recognized by Christ, Himself, as a valid marriage. What’s less clear is whether the marriages ended in divorce or death. Certainly, most people have historically concluded they ended in divorce, and context clues within the passage tend to point that direction. However, I’ve become quite cautious in assuming any passage means more than can be borne out directly from scripture.

        There are plenty of other passages, though, that are quite clear that a new marriage sometime after divorce is valid and is not sin. Strangely, some of the clearest passages are some of the one’s most referenced by those trying to prove a new marriage after divorce is not permissible…they simply don’t bother to read what it actually says, choosing, instead to pick phrases out of context to derive the meaning they’ve already decided they believe.

        You may like to read this post where I discussed this topic in more detail: Free to Remarry [Internet Archive link]

      9. Wow! These are great observations and things I’ve never thought of!

        Five husbands, not one husband and four adulterous relationships! Good catch!

        I always thought that 5th guy was someone she was shacking up with.

      10. I really appreciate this discussion! I have always wondered, in the back of my head, how people can still believe they can claim a person is their husband or wife if they are divorced! I am shocked that they would use a passage like that! Crazy sauce . . .

    2. 50 Free- Imagine one of the common “testimony” services in a local church. “I was a murderer, and Jesus saved me.” AMEN! I was a rapist, and Jesus saved me.” AMEN! “I was an adulterer and Jesus saved me and my marriage!” AMEN!

      Then a voice from the back – “I was married to a wicked, evil husband/wife who oppressed and abused me for 25 years. I almost went insane and even thought about killing myself. But Jesus set me free and showed me I could leave!” SILENCE. Murder, rape, adultery – Jesus can forgive. But not staying in a marriage, even if it is no marriage? Well….

      You see, it is very easy for someone to claim that the “no divorce for abuse” message is not a false gospel and that calling it anathema is just too harsh. That is, until we ask some followup questions or consider a scenario like the one I just described above. “Ok, so you don’t allow divorce for abuse. So, if a member of your church, a Christian, does divorce a wicked, abusive spouse, what are you going to do with that member? And if she remarries, what are you going to do with her? Pronounce her an adulteress? Ex-communicate her? Stop eating with her and go over to the Pharisee table? You see, that is a false gospel. It damns the righteous and protects the wicked. It refuses to visit the widow and orphan. It is no true religion (see James on that one). It is…faith without works, and that is a dead faith which is no faith at all.

      1. John Piper says he is “for” the marriages of those people who have remarried, even though he thinks it was a sin. I give him credit for that graciousness (or pragmatism, depending on how cynical you are), but in the end, what this doctrine creates is the situation where the church blesses and supports the remarriage of one person, while their former spouse is bound to not marry and has no hope of being reconciled. All he or she can do is wait for someone to die.

        That last part may sound awful, but for a struggling, lonely single parent, it’s going to pass through their thoughts that death of their former spouse would make life a heck of a lot easier. And then there was my former pastor who told me “If God wants you to remarry, he can take her at any time”.

      2. John Piper says he is “for” the marriages of those people who have remarried, even though he thinks it was a sin.

        I think this is a serious case of idolatrous thinking. He is for sin because it is marriage? As long as the marriage stays together it doesn’t matter that it’s sin because the thing is to keep that marriage intact?

        If that isn’t idolatrous it is sure confused.

        But what I think it is is the consistent affirmation of divorce as sin, irrespective of certain marriages (in his view) being sin also. He would no doubt say the marriage is sin but a divorce would be worse sin. But he is caught on the horns of a dilemma because there is no such thing as acceptable sin; there is no such thing as a sin we can be “for.” God isn’t bound to force us to chose between one sin and another, albeit a lesser one. He guides our paths in righteousness for His name’s sake, and directs our paths in wisdom. If there is no right way, He will make one.

        We should just admit that in condemning divorce for abuse, and subsequent remarriage we have been calling unclean what He has called clean and be done with this kind of double talk.

      3. I would have to go review Piper’s position, but technically I think he does allow for divorce, just not remarriage until your former spouse dies. That was the position that my church was taking.

        Of course, what this does is make divorce not a divorce. Instead, it is a separation with teeth.

        I think he would justify his position of supporting remarriages by saying there is grace to cover a past sin, and to look forward rather than back. This is probably a similar position that missionaries have to take with polygamous marriages of converts. I don’t think most missionaries demand that husbands divorce their multiple wives in these cases, but I could be wrong. I’ve never looked into it.

        The other thing at play is that Piper’s church does allow for divorce and remarriage, so he had to take a fairly open handed position on the topic.

      4. BIT – I agree with you…this is very convoluted thinking.

        I believe it all starts with this presumption (based on myths that many of us were taught as children) that divorce is sin and/or that remarriage is sin (which really boils down to the same thing, because divorce that doesn’t free us from the marriage covenant isn’t really divorce).

        From there, people start interpreting scripture in light of these biblically unsubstantiated myths…on the assumption that the myths must be correct and must, therefore, be supported by scripture.

        Once we start trying to make scripture support a belief system that is not biblically substantiated, we get into these convoluted doctrines that make no sense and contradict themselves.

      5. I agree. I am amazed at the pervasiveness in which divorced Christians are harshly judged in the church. And in my experience very few Christians would ever consider applying the “widows and orphans” standard to divorcees.

  8. I remember thinking very clearly when I dealt with my church on this issue of divorce (they held a permanence view), that by divorcing I was basically demonstrating I was not truly saved. They would always stop short of saying it (and would deny it if I asked), but there was no other implication. “If you love Jesus, you won’t do this . . .”

    I actually did end up deciding I wasn’t a Christian for a bit based on one of these conversations, and it was the most depressed I had ever been. I just couldn’t live up to what was necessary to be a true believer.

    I ended up rejecting their false Gospel, but it certainly took its toll.

      1. Thanks Katy. I am glad too.

        Just last night at men’s group we talked openly about my divorce and feelings about it, and there was so much empathy and no condemnation. I’m still learning to trust that there are Christians who won’t condemn me.

      2. “…still learning to trust that there are Christians who won’t condemn me.”

        That’s a really good feeling!

        Thanking God, with you, Jeff!

    1. You have my sincerest sympathies for being treated that way. I wish I could say I don’t understand what that would be like, but I sure do. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 12 years at least half in part due to the condemnation I felt when every pastor I spoke to dismissed the abuse as nothing more than sin by a poor unsaved soul, and then laid the full responsibility of the marriage, and even of the salvation of the anti-husband on my shoulders. I was told that God required me to stay, pray, wait, forgive, and endure continuing abuse, for as long as it took, and hopefully one day the abuser would be saved (sanctified) due to my quiet suffering. Anything less than that was indicative of my lack of faith and love for Christ, and possibly even evidence that I was not really a Christian.

    2. I am sorry you went through that Jeff. It is sad that you not only went through the abuse in your marriage but people who call themselves Christian’s in the church would bring you down even lower. The heart of God is Good and Kind. They certainly weren’t using His Heart in making you doubt your own salvation. Very happy that you got away from their false teachings.

  9. Thanks for all of your thoughts on the woman at the well. I was always taught that the fifth man was her current husband (according to her, but that she didn’t admit that to Jesus because she knew that He would not consider her marriage to this man to be legitimate), and that Jesus’ words indicated that He did not recognize this man as her husband because she was still married to another man “in God’s eyes.” No one ever seemed to speculate to which man she was supposedly still married to in God’s eyes. Was it the first? Second? Third? Fourth?

    The “divorced but not free to remarry” teaching used to torment me day and night because I knew that I could no longer live with the abuser, and neither could my children. But if I had to stay single and wait for him to repent one day (if ever) I knew I’d still be in bondage and I’d still feel that I did something wrong by divorcing him. I felt that if you can’t remarry, than the divorce was not legitimate, but that if the divorce is biblically legitimate, then you should be able to remarry. I thought I was alone in my view because I could not find a single pastor or counselor to support me. They all told me to stay with the abuser, or divorce him but never remarry, unless he died, committed fornication (or adultery, which would it be if we were divorced?), or remarried.

    Thank God for Barbara’s and David Instone Brewster’s books! I wish I could get the word out to more suffering spouses. I’ve been praying that the Lord will use me to help others who suffered as I did in an abusive marriage.

    1. “I was always taught that the fifth man was her current husband (according to her, but that she didn’t admit that to Jesus because she knew that He would not consider her marriage to this man to be legitimate), and that Jesus’ words indicated that He did not recognize this man as her husband because she was still married to another man ‘in God’s eyes.'”

      That teaching does not at all fit the passage, though, does it?

      If that were the case, then Jesus would have said something like, “You do have a husband, but the man you are now living with is not your husband, because it was an illegitimate marriage.”

      But that’s not what Jesus said. Instead, He said, ““You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’…” Then follows it up by saying, again, “…this you have said truly.”

      Jesus clearly confirm that in His eyes (God’s eyes) the woman had no husband. She was single…unmarried. Not married and committing adultery. Single.

      There is much we can ponder about this passage, but the woman’s marital status is not one of them. She was single.

      1. The teaching that “the fifth man was her current husband (according to her, but that she didn’t admit that to Jesus because she knew that He would not consider her marriage to this man to be legitimate), and that Jesus’ words indicated that He did not recognize this man as her husband because she was still married to another man ‘in God’s eyes.’”
        I have never heard that before. Talk about illogical!

    2. Thanks Fifty, since you are so keen to get the word out, I’ll just give a plug for this idea which I’ve mentioned before on this blog:
      If anyone wants to get the word out, you can always put in a request at your local library to ask them to stock my book and Jeff Crippen’s. That way, other survivors will be more likely to find the path to freedom.

      1. You can also tell area Centers for Prevention of Abuse and shelters to put those books along with Bancroft’s, in their centers for women to get their hands on. That is going to be on my give a gift at Christmas list for those places this year!

  10. a number of comments here raise the idea that we are allowed to divorce but cannot remarry unless the ex dies or commits adultery. based on Jesus teaching of adultery, just looking at a woman lustfully means he has committed adultery. are these churches going to allow us to remarry if the ex uses porn? by Jesus definition they have committed adultery.

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