Some Christian Marriage Authors and Counselors are Starting to Change their Minds about Physical and Emotional Abuse


Some Christian authors and speakers now accept physical and emotional abuse as biblical grounds for divorce. We need to honor their willingness to publicly change their view.



David E. Clarke Ph.D. Retracts His Prior View of No Divorce for Abuse

On March 30, 2021, Dr. David E. Clarke posted a new podcast and video explaining that he has changed his mind about abuse. He now says physical and emotional abuse ARE valid grounds for divorce. He also states it in writing, and talks about his earlier view that divorce was only for unrepentant adultery and abandonment. Listen to minutes: 1:20-3:00.


I truly applaud Clarke’s change and this public declaration. Clarke says he'll get criticism, but he doesn't care. That's courage, and I honor that. It may affect his income, he probably won't get as many speaking gigs (although, frankly, maybe he will get more!). His books may not be recommended anymore. He may not be featured as a broadcast guest anymore. So he's putting his money where his mouth is. He's earned my respect.


I hope we see this change of mind for many other Christian leaders. I'm proud that he is one of the first to do this. There are other Christian pastors and theologians who also believe that physical AND emotional abuse are biblical grounds for divorce. LINK


Clarke says he retracted his former view. Here's a few sentences from the public You Tube transcript from the video version:

"Are you ready for some controversial teaching on divorce? Well I hope so because that's what you're going to get in this podcast today. ....
Today's edgy topic: chronic abuse is a biblical reason for divorce. I'm not just going to tell you that; i'm going to show you why it's true.
Now I have a confession to make right up front. Until recently my position was that there were only two biblical reasons for divorce, unrepentant adultery as Jesus teaches, and abandonment by a non-Christian spouse which Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians. Now I believe that a wife (still do) has a biblical right to physically separate from an abusive husband. I wrote a book called Enough is Enough how to leave an abusive relationship with an escape plan for the abused spouse.
But I did not think that ongoing unrepentant physical and or emotional abuse was a biblical reason to divorce. I do now. I do believe after careful study that the Bible does teach that chronic abuse is a reason for divorce, certainly for separation no question about that but now i believe it's one for divorce too. I don't recommend divorce, but you certainly are free to divorce if that's your situation. God just has to release you from the marriage. Now i did not come to this conclusion easily or quickly. It took me years it came after careful study of the Bible, consulting biblical scholars I trust, and a lot of prayers seeking God's guidance because it's an important area the work that I do with couples and the sacredness of marriage i want to make sure it's accurate. So on this podcast I present the biblical case for chronic abuse as the third reason for divorce..."  March 30, 2021


Now for the next step:
David E. Clark Ph.D. needs to remove his earlier destructive messages


David E. Clarke's earlier statements, just in the past 3 years, were the opposite. He needs to renounce and retract these:


—Clarke should demand that Focus on the Family remove his 2018 article, "Do You Really Want a Divorce?" 


His article "Do You Really Want a Divorce?" suggests Jesus is against all divorce, never mentions that Jesus condoned it in Matt. 19:9 or that the apostle Paul condoned it in 1 Corinthians 7:15, or any other verse allowing divorce#focusonthefamily

And he suggests that divorce is universally destructive to kids, which is incorrect. Major family researchers found that divorce is likely the better option when the home is highly toxic. Those who hold this view include Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Dr. Paul Amato, Dr. Andrew Cherlin, Dr. Sara McLanahan, Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington, and Dr. Linda Waite. These are all top researchers quoted by Focus on the Family in their online articles.


—Clarke should remove his September 2020 YouTube Video Calling Abuse Victims Who Divorce “Stupid.”


In this video Clarke says that an abuse victims who claim to want a divorce to protect their children are believing a “Lie, Lie, Lie.” (00:15)

He also says, “…my response? A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all.”  (00:24).


If he truly believes that divorce is worse than abuse for children, then he’s ignoring decades of research. And to make it worse, he has been misleading many abused spouses/parents. Family sociologists have known for 30 years that being brought up in an abusive high-conflict home is worse for children’s wellbeing on average than divorce. Here’s a blog post with quotes from the top researchers. And here is my summary of the Dr. Paul Amato study that shows that abusive high-conflict homes are worse for kids than divorce.


If you want to praise David E. Clark Ph.D., for his change of heart (and I think we all should), go to his public Facebook page:  Or to his public website’s contact page:  His comment are also open on the video version:


LINK TO MORE CHRISTIAN LEADERS who say that physical and emotional abuse are biblical grounds for divorce:


Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback:  Or eBook:

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Start Here



Does God Hate Divorce? God Gave Divorce Due to Hardhearted Abusers & Betrayers


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity

God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

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Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting

Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting

Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


Common Myths






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