We Make Void God’s Word when we Prohibit Divorce for Abuse
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:1-9)
Very, very commonly Christians grant the abuser a “get out of jail free” card by teaching that God does not permit divorce for abuse. Specifically, the Word of God is made void and is replaced with the traditions of man. We see the thing in the verses cited above.
God’s commandment to children is “Honor your father and your mother.” So serious is this that any son or daughter who would revile their parents was to be put to death under the OT Law. This is God’s command for children and parents.
Then along came the Pharisees and scribes with their traditions, which they put across as the Word of God. In this case they had so exalted tithing and giving offerings, that injustice resulted. Elderly or ill parents were not helped because this business of “giving to God” trumped all else.
And I maintain that the VERY SAME thing is being done today when churches insist that abuse victims cannot divorce their abuser. And here is how it goes.
What does God’s Word say, repeatedly, about what a Christian is to do in regard to relationships with a wicked person? I will show you:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalms 1:1)
Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. (Psalms 119:115)
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:14-15)
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge. (Proverbs 14:7)
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)
Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Enough? There are many, many more such instructions in Scripture, I assure you.
Now, what Christians are doing by insisting that victims cannot divorce their abuser is making void the Word of God for the sake of their traditions. They are teachings the commandments of men as the Word of God. The very same thing the Pharisees were doing, for which they received the Lord’s denunciation. He called them hypocrites and told them that their hearts were far away from Him.
See it? The Lord commands His people to separate from the wicked. Over and over again He gives us these instructions. Are we to believe that the Scriptures that teach about marriage being designed for a lifetime trump all these other Scriptures that tell us to separate from the wicked? Of course not. Marriage does not negate God’s Word. Marriage is not intended to be a covenant that allows the wicked to be wicked and their spouse have no recourse ever. No Scripture ever “cancels out” another Scripture, as if the abuser is given some kind of “diplomatic immunity” card that lets him pull off whatever crime he wants and yet his victim is not permitted to “go out from his presence.”
And I think that what I have stated here is quite enough to prove that God permits and even blesses a victim who separates from (divorces) an evil man.