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Theologian Wayne Grudem Amends Position on Divorce During Cases of Abuse

11-26-2019

Theologian Wayne Grudem has amended his position on divorce, and now says he supports divorce from a biblical basis in cases of abuse.

Christianity Today reports that Grudem recently shared his new thoughts on the matter during a gathering of evangelical scholars.

After gaining knowledge of real-life couples who endured abuse rather than separate, Grudem examined Scripture further to verify if abuse may warrant divorce.

Also, couples would go to their pastors and elders for wisdom from God that would lead them through the process.

"My wife Margaret and I became aware of some heartbreaking examples of such things as severe sexual humiliation and degradation that had continued for decades, and another case of physical battering that had gone on for decades," Grudem said.

"In all these situations the abused spouse had kept silent, believing that a Christian's duty was to preserve the marriage unless there was adultery or desertion, which had not happened."

Grudem presented his new findings on the topic at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting last week, in a talk entitled "Grounds for Divorce: Why I Now Believe There Are More than Two."

Others who agree that divorce is justified during cases of abuse referred to 1 Cor. 7:15 – which Grudem says he was not previously convinced of.

The Bible verse reads: "But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace" (1 Cor. 7:15 ESV, italics added).

Now, Grudem asserts that the phrase "in such cases" should be understood to include any cases that similarly destroy a marriage, and abuse is such a case.

"Most commentaries assume that 'in such cases' refers only to cases of desertion by an unbeliever," said Grudem. 

"Examples led me to conclude that in 1 Cor. 7:15, the phrase "in such cases" should be understood to include any cases that similarly destroy a marriage," said Grudem. 

The theologian explained that restoring a marriage is still the primary goal when divorce becomes a question. Counseling and church discipline should be sought, but if the abuse continues, a church leader may consider the case to be appropriate for divorce.

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