The tide is turning. In 2015, nearly 3 in 4 Protestant pastors surveyed by LifeWay Research reported they did not view divorce for physical abuse as a sin, according to this study. Pastors who've opposed divorce for anything other than adultery, are changing their minds, for example Calvinist theologian Wayne Grudem (below) shocked the conservative Christian world by changing his mind and accepting both physical and emotional abuse as grounds for divorce in November 2019.
This page is a work in progress. Examples listed in no particular order.
Pastors speak out
Pastor Neil Schori, The Edge Church, Aurora, IL Pastor Neil was a key witness in the Drew Peterson murder case. One of Neil's church members, Stacy Peterson, came to him and revealed that her husband had demanded she lie and cover up his murder of a previous wife. Thirty days later, Stacy, Drew's fourth wife, disappeared. Neil's testimony was key for convicting police officer Drew Peterson. From this experience Neil Schori has become a leading advocate for domestic violence awareness in Evangelical churches.
Pastor Sam Powell, First Reformed Church of Yuba City
He has been a long-time blogger on divorce. Here are some of his most popular posts:
Link to all of his divorce posts.
Pastor Steve Daugherty, Crosspointe Church, Cary, NC
Pastor Jeff Crippen, Christ Reformation Church, Tillamook, OR - biblical exposition
Pastor Jeff Durbin, Apologia Church (Reformed), Mesa, AZ - The biblical exposition in part 1 focuses on the relationship between Jesus and the Law of Moses.
Video Sermon Part 1:
Video Sermon Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RycRQCSTk48
Calvinist theologian Wayne Grudem. Click to his page, then view his paper "Grounds for Divorce: Why I Now Believe There are More than Two" where he discusses the "uninvestigated phrase" “in such cases” (ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις) in 1 Cor. 7:15..." He mentions severe verbal and relational cruelty, threats of physical harm or murder of spouse or children, gambling addiction, pornography addiction, etc. In response to objections he writes: "...leaving an abusive marriage with the blessing of the church is a better way to give witness to society that God is pleased when we can help to rescue those who suffer unjustly"
Researcher at Cambridge Rev. Dr. David Instone-Brewer. He's written several books on this topic. His 355-page book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, goes through the ancient languages, Jewish history, and surveys Christian thought over the past 2000 years. A shorter book for Christian leaders, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church, gives a pastoral slant on the topic. HIs short 7-minute video explanation is easy to understand: Four Causes for Biblical Divorce.
Thomas Horrocks, pastor of Stoneybrook Community Church of God, and chaplain in the Indiana Army National Guard.
"But what I have come to realize is, and let me make sure this is absolutely clear, using these passages of scripture to counsel someone to remain in an abusive relationship is absolutely contrary to God’s intention for marriage. It is, in fact, spiritual abuse. Furthemore, as I have come to learn through further study, the Bible’s teaching on divorce, rightly understood within its historical context, is ALWAYS meant to protect the women. To misuse these teachings to subject women to greater harm is to directly contradict the very intention of the teachings themselves." Read his entire blog post.
Australian theologian Marg Mowczko's blog post gives biblical reasons for divorce based on Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians, and at the end, she concludes:
"Some Christians think all marriages are sacred. Some marriages, however, are diabolical. Furthermore, people are more sacred than marriages, especially abusive marriages. People need to be cared for, protected, and loved, and not unwillingly sacrificed for an ideal. All biblical regulations and instructions, including those about divorce, must be applied with both wisdom and kindness. But please note that I am not promoting divorce. What I do say is this: if a marriage or a home is unsafe, we must not just allow people to leave, we need to help people to leave."
There are many many more pastors, leaders, and theologians who hold this view. I'll add more as I have time. If you are a pastor who has concluded that divorce in the case of physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, and serious neglect of duty (usually due to addictions) is acceptable groups, and would like to share your insights via podcast, sermon, or article with other pastors, please contact me HERE.
Messianic Jewish pastor, Rabbi Steve Berkson.
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