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 physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse as grounds for divorce in November 2019.

This page is a work in progress. Examples listed in no particular order. I have attempted to find examples from a wide variety of Protestant denominations.

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.

Here is his Domestic Violence sermon.

Pastor Neil Schori also has a basic training video for church staff and volunteers:

Pastor Sam Powell, First Reformed Church of Yuba City

Pastor Sam has been a long-time blogger on divorce. Here are some of his most popular posts:

Divorce and Tempting God (On the Heidelberg Catechism, question 105: specifically the phrase, “nor willfully run into any danger.” The footnote refers us to Matthew 4:7.)

Staying in an abusive marriage is a way of tempting the Lord your God.

Does the Bible actually say "God Hates Divorce" in Malachi 2:15-16?  Part 1  and  Part 2  Pastor Sam Powell mentions the difficulties of translating this Bible verse from Hebrew to English (as others have mentioned). In Part 1, he discusses the words sane,  as in “he hates”, and the word, shallach is “send away, set free, let go.” He quotes John Calvin:

“This then is the reason why the Prophet now says, If thou hatest, dismiss; not that he grants indulgence to divorce, as we have said, but that he might by this circumstance enhance the crime; and hence he adds, For he covers by a cloak his violence.”

Link to all of Sam Powell's divorce posts.

Sam Powell also discussed the types of pastoral counseling that relies on the their claim to advise based on the Bible alone: The Perils of Nouthetic Counseling

Pastor Steve Daugherty, Crosspointe Church, Cary, NC

Pastor Jeff Crippen, Christ Reformation Church, Tillamook, OR  - biblical exposition

Video sermon on Matthew 19.

His blog post urging leaders to get involved: "She’s marrying a sociopath and there is nothing anyone can do about it"

Pastor (Dr.) Peter R. Shaw, Crosswalk Community Church, Napa, CA

Pastor (Dr.) Peter R. Shaw, Crosswalk Community Church, Napa, CA, interviews District Attorney Allison Haley on the topic of domestic violence during a Sunday morning church service.  (36-minute video)

Patrick Weaver, Patrick Weaver Ministries, FAITHHILL Church, Oakland, CA

Abuse and divorce are key topics for Pastor Weaver. Here are his top blog posts on the topic:


Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr. 1/24/21, Quentin Road Baptist


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.   His website on divorce and remarriage in the Bible is here:

Herb Vander Lugt of RBC Ministries (formerly Radio Bible Class) wrote a FREE pamphlet, God's Protection of Women: When Abuse Is Worse Than Divorce, arguing that both physical and emotional abuse are grounds for divorce and supporting it with Scripture. The FREE ebook download PDF is HERE.  A physical pamphlet is available HERE:  (I recommend making a generous donation.)  Foreword by Martin R. DeHaan II.


Pastor Chad Deitz, pastor of Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Greenfield, CA

Pastor Reuel Sample, The Pastor's Voice podcast

Pastor Sample interviews Gretchen Baskerville. (Three podcasts.) They talk about how many "life-saving divorces" there are—the one-half of U.S. divorces that are for very serious reasons. They discuss why some churches are blind to this, they cannot see the damage being done in abusive marriages in the secrecy of the home. They talk about the spiritual ideology that traps abuse victims with their tormenters, by virtually promising them that if they just pray a bit more, God can (and will) perform a miracle. We talk about the Bible verses never discussed in church; and the passages that condone divorce, even command 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."

Pastor Todd Bordow, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, wrote What Did Jesus Really Say About Divorce? It's a theological and biblical presentation based on his doctoral thesis. Below is his audio sermon on the topic.  (Here is one of his blog posts and a podcast with "The Theology Gals.")

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. 

Pastor Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church. Video "Is Divorce Sinful?"  PART 1  PART 2 He quotes a lot from Dr. Greg Bahnsen, who also explains how emotional abuse is such grounds for divorce and explains in detail how “fornication” in Scripture doesn’t just pertain to physical intimacy but actually has a broad definition in Scripture.


Mike Kinman, Rector, All Saints, Pasadena, CA

Mike is a pastor who gets it about divorce! In this Facebook post, he talks about sacraments. He compares an abusive Christian marriage with a communion cup with poison in it. They are meant to be holy, but is a communion cup with poison holy? No, it would harm you. LINK.

Would you think that a person who knowingly consumed a communion cup of poison was wise, discerning or godly?

(A similar analogy is also used by Jesus in Luke 13: How can the Sabbath be holy when daughters (and sons) of Abraham are left bound to a destructive spirit by Satan? Jesus said these men treated their animals better than a daughter of Abraham.)

Joshua Sharp, MDiv

Article in the Baptist Standard: Voices: Abuse is biblical grounds for divorce

Pastor Paul Cole of the Christian Men's Network talks about why men abuse (0:00), and the legal requirement for pastors to report physical violence (15:55). Another guest, Annette Oltmanns of the MEND Project, tells her own story, gives examples of covert emotional abuse. She talks about the second-hand abuse from church leaders who don't take verbal and emotional abuse seriously. How to help: Listen for an hour without interrupting. Accept: Believe the experience to be true. Empathize with them. Feel their hurt. Validate: "You are right to feel scared."  Encourage: I'm here for you.  Ask only one question: "How can I help you?" (They'll respond often with something very simple and reasonable.) Grieve with them. 

Pastor Jake Kail, Threshold Church, Lancaster, PA

4 Things the Church Doesn't Know About Abusive Marriages (blog post)

The Church's Response to Abuse (sermon; approx 1 hour)

Sermon Series (Audio)

  • Part 1: When Evil Pretends to be Good
  • Part 2: Discerning Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
  • Part 3 Walking in Integrity


Pastor David Orrison of The Chapel in Drake, Colorado, has been blogging about narcissists and other dangerous people in the church for many years. He considers it so important he posts on this topic weekly on Fridays, which he has designated Narcissist Friday. Here's a good place to start:
His introductory blog post and definition of narcissism.  He has a long blog post on divorce. Summary: He had officiated at many second and third weddings. He acknowledges that Mainline and Evangelical churches have vastly different policies, and he recommends a book, Not In Bondage, by Barbara Roberts, for the suffering spouse, and says it is their decision.

Messianic Jewish pastor, Rabbi Steve Berkson

Evangelist Billy Graham's daughter, Ruth Graham talks about her abusive marriage and encourages others not to stay. You need to protect yourself and the children.

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 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 in the podcast about his earlier view that divorce was only for unrepentant adultery and abandonment. Listen to minute: 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. 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.

Official Statement of the U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops LINK

"Finally, we emphasize that no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. Some abused women believe that church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. They may hesitate to seek a separation or divorce. They may fear that they cannot re-marry in the Church. Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage. We encourage abused persons who have divorced to investigate the possibility of seeking an annulment. An annulment, which determines that the marriage bond is not valid, can frequently open the door to healing."


Read more: Scholarly books on biblical reasons for divorce:

2) And Marries Another, Dr. Craig Keener
3) To Have and to Hold, David Atkinson
4) Divorce and Remarriage, William Luck
This page includes Amazon affiliate links.


Books to Give to Suffering Spouses to Help Them Make Up their Own Mind


Books to give to suffering spouses who are in abusive or unfaithful marriages and stay due to their misunderstanding of God's word or church policies. These Christian books address the biblical teachings about divorce.

Do You Need Support?  I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Allies and people helpers are also welcome. Just click the link and ANSWER the 3 QUESTIONS.


Start Here


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity


God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims

How to Find a Good Supportive Church


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

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


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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