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I know that divorce is frowned upon by God; however there are exceptions to this, abuse, being one of them, along with adultery. However, when one reads through the Bible, ‘marriage unfaithfulness’ gets thrown into the mix.

Would that encompass emotional abandonment? I do not refer to one having an emotional affair, but more along the lines of someone just not being there for their spouse emotionally.

Or does this fall more along the lines of abuse, and does God see emotional abuse as he does physical abuse, wrong?

I have run across items referring to this aspect from Matthew here. Another with several translations from biblehub.com. So it looks like there are two separate entries, Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9.

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Can you share what scripture(s) you are talking about? –  ryan Jun 28 '13 at 18:26
@ryan - still trying to find the full passage for this. Please bear with me. –  IndigoGirl Jun 28 '13 at 18:34
There is an interesting discussion on this from Catholic perspective forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=67107 where this is understood as "when marriage is invalid". ie, divorce is never permissible, except in the case where it never occurred. –  Greg Bala Jun 28 '13 at 18:35
You may want to consider 1 Cor 7, in which husbands and wives are actually commanded to have sex - or it's inverse - when a marital partner refuses to be intimate - as a possible grounds for emotional abandonment. The question then becomes, does emotional abandonment become the non-intimate partner's breaking of the vows, meaning that the abandoner is the one who "divorced" first. –  Affable Geek Jun 29 '13 at 1:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Marriage unfaithfulness" is not a term used in the Bible, so one would have to define it in order to determine a biblical answer. Where did you get the words from, and how were they used?

Since you ask "What MIGHT the Bible refer to as marital unfaithfulness," then I would consider what the husband is supposed to do for the wife and fails to do it as unfaithfulness. Eph. 5:25 tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. No one can do that perfectly, but at least we can aim our (husbands') love in that direction. To point his love away from his wife would be "unfaithfulness" to God's command here.

1 Peter 3:7 tells the husband to dwell with the wife, giving her honor. He should make an effort to understand who she is and deal with her in her weaknesses (the "weaker vessel"). Is it honorable treatment to treat her as a slave, to place greater burdens on her than she should bear, to demean her with controlling commands that turn her into a slave instead of a person made in the image of God? To deliberately treat the wife with dishonor or with less than chivalrous motives is to act in "unfaithfulness" to commands in the scriptures.

These are areas the Bible might consider actions as marital unfaithfulness to the scriptural role the husband is called to uphold. I do not mean to imply that these are the same as sexual sins and worthy of divorce. I do mean to state that these are potential areas of abuse (emotional or physical) that would be considered wrong if they are practiced against the wife with evil intent.

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When we get married we take VOWS (promise) before GOD to LOVE, HONOR and CHERISH our spouse. By definition "unfaithfulness" - unfaithful

— adj 1. not true to a promise, vow, etc 2. not true to a wife, husband, lover, etc, esp in having sexual intercourse with someone else 3. inaccurate; inexact; unreliable; untrustworthy: unfaithful copy 4. obsolete not having religious faith; infidel 5. obsolete not upright; dishonest

Is abusing your spouse, lying about your spouse or emotionally abandoning your spouse keeping within those VOWS? Is this what LOVE, HONOR and CHERISH is? I think not.

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Its also something that shouldn't be done, something that causes a believer to run from God. I believe that a Church should be rebuked if a Church doesn't rebuke that abusive husband/wife but after that Christian TRULY repents it wouldn't hurt to forgive if he TRULY doesn't want to do it again

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Welcome to the site. Thank you for sharing, but the site strives to be academic, using sources and citations to support answers. The site is not a discussion forum. Once you reach 20 rep you can chat about whatever you want. Please see Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer? After that, please edit this post or delete it. I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend Sep 3 '14 at 21:03

Mat 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

Mat 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

1Co 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

1Co 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

1Co 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

If you marry an emotionally detached person then you are stuck with them. If they are an unbeliever and they leave then you are not bound to them any longer. Spousal abuse hitting or cursing is a form of adultery and warrants divorce.

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"Spousal abuse hitting or cursing is a form of adultery and warrants divorce". Could you give a biblical justification of that? –  DJClayworth Jun 28 '13 at 21:18
Having sex with someone and hitting them is rape and all forms of rape are fornication regardless of the duration between the sex and assault. The premise being it is possible to rape or commit fornication with your wife. –  caseyr547 Jun 28 '13 at 21:23
@caseyr547 This does not appear to answer the emotional abuse aspect of my question. Also, as far as I know adultery is extramarital sex based on most dictionary entries. Such as this one,dictionary.reference.com/browse/adultery. How is physical abuse related to rape if not in conjunction with forced physical penetration against one's will? –  IndigoGirl Jun 28 '13 at 22:10
@IndigoGirl the premise of my assertion is that it doesn't matter if the genitles are directly involved since they were involved. Hitting your wife and her telling you stop after sex is the same as hitting your wife during sex and her telling you to stop. –  caseyr547 Jun 28 '13 at 22:26
@caseyr547 interesting point of view. So you would consider verbal abuse cursing then. But what about controlling behaviour, not allowing one's spouse to go out or threatening their life - or would that fall under physical abuse? Basically I am looking for Scripture that frowns upon such deeds. Other than where one would call it adulterous. –  IndigoGirl Jun 28 '13 at 22:41

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