Stop Walking on Eggshells

When someone in your life has borderline or narcissistic personality disorder

A Christian View of Divorce and Abuse

Keeping the faith in an abusive marriage

One of my Welcome to Oz community support groups is WTOChristian. Often, members feel conflicted about divorcing an abusive spouse because of what the Bible says.

Here is what the book Keeping the Faith: Guidance from Christian Women Facing Abuse by Marie M. Fortune (1987, HarperCollins) says about the subject:

We have always taught within the Christian tradition that the marriage covenant is broken by adultery or sexual unfaithfulness in marriage. The main reason that adultery is a problem is that it results in broken trust between man and wife. If the promise is made to be monogamous, then adultery breaks that promise.

But we should realize that there are other kinds of unfaithfulness. Bringing violence into one's marriage is also unfaithfulness. Once violence has entered a relationship, trust is destroyed. If you can't trust your [spouse] not to hit you, what can you trust?

[Anyone] who brings violence and abuse into [his or her] family life is putting asunder the marriage covenant that God has blessed. The violence is what breaks up the marriage, and the one responsible for that violence is the one responsible for the breakup. The actual divorce is in fact only the public acknowledgement of the private truth that the marriage has long been since destroyed by abuse. You are taking steps to let other people know what has happened to remove yourself from a destructive situation and get on with your life.

There may be things in your past that you regret having done or that you are not proud of. There may be sins of which you have not repented. You may not go to church regularly nor do all the things that you think make a good Christian. But no matter what kinds of things you have done or neglected to do, you do not deserve to be abused, and God does not send this abuse to you as punishment.

This book is written to remind you that God is present to you even now, and that there are Christians who do understand your pain, your fear, and your doubt. We will not turn away from you; we will not abandon you. We will walk with you as you seek to end the abuse in your life.

Now, does "abuse" mean only physical abuse? I don't think so. Here is the dictionary definition of "abuse":

1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one's authority.

2. To treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one's eyesight.

3. To speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.

4. To commit sexual assault upon.

 What do you think?

Randi Kreger is the co-author of Stop Walking on Eggshells.

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