Is Drug Abuse Grounds for a Christian Divorce?
I decided to follow my heart, experience, and understanding concerning this very difficult topic. There are many scriptures that support a wide variety of answers to this question, but as Christians, I suggest we must consider each scenario separately and spend much time in prayer to best evaluate the divorce question.
The short answer is: it depends.
God’s Intention for Marriage
Since God first instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden over six thousand years ago, I have to believe it is His intention that husband and wife live together until death. Since God created marriage to be enjoyed by husband and wife, and it is His intention marriage be forever, this provides a sound basis to make every reasonable effort to achieve restoration and forgiveness in marriage before taking steps to dissolve a marriage through divorce. However, the Bible does say that Moses allowed two reasons acceptable as conditions of divorce.
1. Sexual immorality (adultery)
2. Abandonment (physically leaving)
1. Sexual Immorality
Adultery Defiles and Corrupts
Jesus taught that adultery defiles and corrupts the one flesh union (Matthew 19). It becomes very difficult to ever trust a spouse once the deception and corruption of the marriage has occurred.
Physical, Mental, Sexual Abuse
I believe God never intended physical, mental, or sexual abuse inside the marriage relationship. I’m sure He is saddened by the sin nature of all man, and His preference is that no man or woman mistreat another. However, to think that God intended a spouse to endure such abuse is not understanding the love of God. God’s judgment will be harsh on any of those who mistreat others.
Drug Abuse Can Defile and Corrupt
Drug abuse and physical and mental abuse in many cases appear to have very similar consequence as adultery. Many times the family and marriage is in such chaotic disarray from these abuses that restoration is impossible (Having said that, I have seen some marriages restored after adultery, drug abuse, and physical and mental abuse. So it is possible to restore the marriage, but not often).
Hardness of Heart
Jesus told the Pharisees the reason Moses agreed to divorce for his people was because of hardness of heart. Marriage is a union of two becoming one and should take on the likeness of Christ and the Church. If one partner is abusive toward the other, or to the children, steps must be taken for the protection of all involved. Certainly, the abusive partner is not fulfilling their purpose of reflecting the image of Christ.
Free Will and God’s Will
God give us ‘free will’ and many people exercise their will against God’s directions and desires for their life. If a person chooses to leave and follow their addiction or mistreat their spouse and family, how can one be expected to expose themselves and family to the chaos that addiction and/or abuse brings.
Jesus Prohibited Divorce, but…
Jesus addressed the issue of divorce with the Pharisees in that he said he prohibits divorce for the many trivial reasons (other than sexual immorality) that were used so frequently in the first century, leading to widespread injustice, especially for women whose husbands suddenly divorced them and married another. Divorced women had to fend for themselves, which made it very hard for them to survive.
Sometimes you just have to move on
Being married to a wife who was previously married to a raging alcoholic, I have to say, “There is life after divorce.” My wife has served the Lord faithfully for many years and was able to rediscover the accepting love of Christ and move on with her life outside the chaos of her first husband’s addiction and abuse. She stayed trapped in an abusive marriage thinking God would judge her forever. She exposed her daughter and self to physical and mental abuse for years because of a well intended person from her church who told her she must endure the abuse, because it was God’s will that she stay married. Now, 28 years later, the abuse seems like a faint memory from a long ago past.
One last thought
I have counseled thousands of children and wives who have stayed in abusive addictive relationships. Many are still struggling from the devastation caused by abusive fathers and husband. Anxiety and fear have ruled their lives and only after many sessions have they been healed from the abuse of the past.
I conclude that drug abuse may be sufficient grounds for a Christian Divorce.
What do you think? I would love your feedback and opinions.