Does physical abuse count as a reason for divorce?

If you have read our article called, "Are there biblical reasons for divorce?", and have found that you didn't quite get the answer you were looking for, you may be wondering if there are more reasons why a couple might divorce beyond these two—specifically, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of either a spouse or child. We realize that the world is an evil place, and those things are very real. Sadly, the Bible is silent on this particular marital injustice, however, there are verses that can help us come to a conclusion about it.

God expects us to love each other and to submit to one another in love (John 13:34, Ephesians 5:21). Physical violence is against the law, and no one should have to put up with it for any reason. If there is physical abuse involved, the authorities should be the first ones to know.

If staying together means that criminal actions are being taken against a spouse or child, Christ's sacrifice gives us the liberty to stay or go, "but take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Corinthians 8:9). If staying would make the abusive spouse sin or hurt even more, then a separation with the intention of causing behavioral changes should be seriously considered.

Those being abused, be it a spouse or kids, should find a safe place where they can be protected and taken out of the situation right away. The Bible does not indicate that separation (not divorce) in this instance would be wrong. For everyone's safety, it would probably be the best thing. Friends and family are pretty likely to suggest divorce as the only way, but God places a huge value on marriage. Therefore, reconciliation should always be the ultimate goal.

Remember, God has total control over everything (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6). Whatever the outcome of a marriage, God is completely sovereign over what happens.

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Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at,, and When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.