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Biblical Divorce And Re-Marriage

During biblical times, Jewish Law recognized several basic moral justifications for divorce or nullification of a marriage contract between a man and his wife.

Those reasons were ordained by God Himself because they were based on the scriptural passages quoted below, and they generally involved the failure of either spouse to perform their duty in the provision of food, clothing, reasonable marital obligations and sexual fidelity.   (See "Biblical Divorce And Remarriage" by Rev. Dr. David Instone Brewer)

Moreover, common sense logic and other biblical scriptures require us to add violence and health-or-life-threatening abuse to our list of reasons because such evil activities are always prohibited for everyone, regardless of their marital status in life.

Exodus 21:10-11
10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money. (KJV)

Deut. 24:1-2

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another mans wife. (KJV)

Exod 20:14, 17

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

17 Thou shalt not covet.... thy neighbours wife.... (KJV)

The first scriptural passage, quoted above, addresses an archaic social situation that was despised by God, but tolerated as a necessary evil due to complex cultural considerations.

So, even though it does not apply to our society today, we can derive general moral principles from its text because God is a God of logical consistency.

But, to understand Exodus 21:10-11 properly, we must view this passage in its immediate scriptural context, i.e., Exodus 21:7-11.

Accordingly, if a Jewish man sold his daughter to be a servant, she did not become a free person even if she became the wife of her new owner.

However, if the owner/husband decided he did not care for her, then she could be redeemed by her family; otherwise, she remained his wife. Nor under any circumstances could she be sold to Gentiles. (Ex. 21:7-8).

Likewise, if she was betrothed to her masters son, she was to be dealt with as if she was his own daughter; and she could not be sold. (Ex. 21:9).

Furthermore, if the owner/husband took another wife, he remained obligated to his slave-wife in terms of material support and marriage duties. (Ex. 21:10). But, if he refused to honor such obligations, then she was to be set free immediately without any need for her family to redeem her with money. (Ex. 21:11).

Thus, even slave wives, in ancient Jewish society, were protected in their marriages against extreme spousal neglect so far as their material and sexual needs were concerned.

Therefore, Gods Moral Law permits divorce if either the husband or the wife fails to honor the marriage covenant in matters pertaining to food, clothing (and shelter), reasonable sexual relations, marital faithfulness and non-violent treatment.

But, by the time in which Jesus lived, two major schools of thought among the teachers of the religious law, i.e., the Pharisees, had developed and coalesced around differing interpretations for the word "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24:1.

One line of thought maintained that the scriptural passage pertained strictly to matters of sexual impurity, whereas the opposing school of thought insisted on expanding the meaning of impurity to include virtually anything a man might find displeasing about his wife in any aspect of their lives together.

However, the word translated as "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24:1 comes from the Hebrew word `ervah (er-vaw), which means "nudity, literally (especially the pudenda) or figuratively (disgrace, blemish)."

It is translated as "nakedness" or "shame" or "unclean(ness)" in the King James Version of the Bible.

Furthermore, it is based on the Hebrew word arah, which means "to make bare; empty; destitute; discover; make naked; uncover."

So, apparently the thought behind this passage involves discovering or uncovering something about the wife that previously was not known by the husband.

But, exactly what kind of "uncleanness" is meant here is not known — although judging from the Hebrew dictionary definitions given above, it would allude to something discovered that was shameful, and disappointing, and extremely dislikeable.

We do know, however, that if the word "uncleanness" is a reference to the moral sin of adultery, as in Deuteronomy 22:13-24, then the Law of Moses demanded the death penalty.

Accordingly, perhaps Moses realized that if the letter of the law always was enforced in such matters, there would be excessive numbers of executions due to the extremely lax moral standards that were prevalent among the Israelites.

Therefore, he may have decided to modify the law by permitting a wife to clear herself with a solemn oath in some cases (Num. 5:11-31), and in other instances, by allowing the husband to divorce his wife, privately, without subjecting her to a trial. (Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 1:19).

Thus, when prompted for His view regarding this matter, Jesus declared the proper and correct interpretation for this disputed passage as He began proclaiming the Good News about Gods New Covenant with Israel (and eventually, all of humanity).

Accordingly, please note in the following scriptural passage relating this incident, that Jesus never questioned or challenged the continued validity of the other Old Testament reasons for divorce.

Instead, He merely addressed the singular issue of what the word "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24:1 truly meant in its application.

Matt. 5:31-32

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

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. (KJV)

A survey of Matthew 5 will show that Jesus first began His ministry by introducing people to the most fundamental concepts which form the basis for the new and better covenant which God was about to give to all of humanity.

Among the general principles which He enumerated or expanded in meaning were moral commandments such as the prohibition against adultery which He modified to include not only the physical act, itself, but the mental thought as well, i.e., lust.

Likewise, after stating the principle of retaliation (not self-defense) in its classic Jewish form, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," Jesus then abolished it by saying that we should "turn the other cheek" in such instances, instead of retaliating.

In a similar manner, in Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus also clarified precisely what God had meant in Deuteronomy 24:1-2 when it was decreed that divorce was allowed under certain, extreme conditions.

But, once again, please note that since Jesus did not take issue with any of the other permissible grounds for divorce which God had given previously in other Old Testament scriptural passages, we must conclude that they remain in force today because they are laws which reflect Gods eternal, unchanging moral character, not ceremonial, symbolic laws lacking innate moral value in and of themselves.

As confirmation, the apostle Paul later even affirmed their validity in a more positive manner when he elaborated on the duties and obligations that are inherent within all Christian marriages. (I Corinthians 7) (Ephesians 5:23-33).

However, as noted previously, many of the Pharisees in ancient Jewish society taught that the only necessary requirement for a divorce, according to Mosaic Law, was a legal certificate of divorce; otherwise, they believed a man could divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever.

In actuality, Moses permitted (not commanded) such lax rules regarding divorce because although God hates divorce, He was forced to choose between the lesser of two evils in order to maximize the amount of good possible under the circumstances when no other reasonable option was available.

That is the real reason why He instructed Moses to issue such a decree. Thus, by allowing this decree to exist, God intended for it to accomplish two very important objectives. First, it would discourage sinful men from leading illicit lifestyles in an attempt to avoid marriages from which they could not escape legally.

Then, also, it would protect women against retribution, or even murder, from their resentful and dissatisfied husbands who might want a divorce for any number of flimsy reasons.

Thus, this is the "real-life" context in which Jesus gave His response to the Pharisees when asked to clarify and defend His proclamation in Matthew 5:32 concerning the fiercely-disputed meaning for the word "impurity."

Matt. 19:3-11

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. (KJV)

Compare the following parallel passages:

Mark 10:2-12

2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. (KJV)

Luke 16:18

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (KJV)

Mal. 2:14-16

14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (KJV)

Now the question arises as to what, exactly, fornication is? According to the Christian Bible, fornication can mean:

1) Any biblically-unlawful, sexually-intimate relationship between men and women, whether they be single, married or divorced; the only sexual relationships that are biblically-permissible are those which occur between a man and his wife. (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:2-12; I Cor. 7:2; I Cor. 10:8; I Thess. 4:3; Rev. 9:21. See also: Deut. 27:20-23; Lev. 20:10-21; Lev. 18:6-23; Exodus 22:16.)

2) Incest. (I Cor. 5:1; I Cor. 10:8. See also: Lev. 18:6-23.)

3) Idolatry and adultery in honor of idol gods. (II Chron. 21:11; Isa. 23:17; Ezek. 16:15, 26, 29; Acts 15:20, 29; Acts 21:25; Rev. 2:14-21; Rev. 14:8; Rev. 17:2-4; Rev. 18:3-9; Rev. 19:2.)

4) Natural harlotry. (John 8:41; I Cor. 6:13-18.)

5) Spiritual harlotry or unfaithfulness. (Ezek. 16:15, 26, 29; Rev. 17:2-4; Rev. 18:3-9; Rev. 19:2.)

6) Sodomy, homosexuality, bestiality and male prostitution. (I Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 12:16; Jude 6-7; Romans 1:24-29; II Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5. See also: Gen. 19:5-8; Exodus 22:19; Lev. 18:22-23; Lev. 20:13-16; Deut. 23:17; Deut. 27:21; Judges 19:22; I Kings 14:24; I Kings 15:12; I Kings 22:46; II Kings 23:7.)

Therefore, fornication can be defined as any type of sexual or spiritual unlawfulness or unfaithfulness. This means, according to Matthew 5:32, that any such behavior is biblical grounds for divorce.

Accordingly, if a person divorces his or her spouse for any reason not involving fornication (or abuse or neglect or desertion), then that person is guilty of adultery (if he or she re-marries; Matt. 19:9).

Matt. 5:31-32

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

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. (KJV)

At first glance, this passage might seem to say that if a mean-spirited man arbitrarily divorces his wife without just biblical reason, i.e., fornication, then she — the innocent victim — is guilty of committing adultery (if she re-marries, according to a parallel scripture in Matthew 19:9).

However, because common-sense fairness dictates this can not possibly be true, we must analyze this passage more carefully by balancing it against everything else the Bible teaches concerning Gods moral laws. Because often, one passage will clarify the meaning of another passage by giving us additional information or insight regarding the issue at hand.

Accordingly, first of all, we must remember that God is a God of fairness and justness, and that is precisely how we are going to be judged on Judgment Day because the Bible teaches that we will reap what we sow and that we will be rewarded or punished according to what we have done in this lifetime.

Therefore, God never condemns a person (male or female; Galatians 3:28) for the sins and wrongdoing of another person; we each are responsible solely for our own deeds and misdeeds.

That is why I believe the initial impression one first gleans from a reading of the passage in Matthew 5:32 warrants a closer examination.

Likewise, since words often can be a very cumbersome tool for expressing ideas with complete accuracy and precision — especially if the context is not accounted for properly — we obviously have an additional reason for examining this passage more carefully.

Therefore, a very plausible explanation for the passage in Matthew 5:32 might be that Jesus was referring to women who do not object to an unfair divorce by their husbands. In such cases, they would be willing participants in the unjust divorce action, so they would be equally guilty of adultery under the Moral Law of God if they ever re-married.

Conversely, if a woman objects to an unbiblical divorce by her husband, then she must be held blameless for something her husband did. Therefore, she would be free under such circumstances to re-marry because divorce by its very nature, i.e., termination of the marriage contract, makes the marriage contract or marriage covenant null and void.

Please keep in mind that for a contract or covenant to be valid and morally-enforceable, it must be agreed to by both parties to the (marriage) contract.

If one party to the contract violates any of the terms contained within the contract, or even outright abolishes or cancels the contract, then, of course, the other (offended) party is no longer obligated to the contract, either, because the contract no longer exists.

But, if a contract or covenant no longer exists, then how can the offended party still be obligated to it?

Of course, there can be consequences or penalties for the offending party who arbitrarily terminated the contract, but nevertheless, the contract is null and void — unless it is possible for some outside authority to force the continued existence of said contract (which is not normally the case in marriage contracts).

We also must point out that another very good explanation for the text found in Matthew 5:32 involves historical contextual considerations we discussed earlier in this article.

In other words, Jesus simply was saying to the more radical Pharisees that they were wrong in their ongoing dispute with their pharisaical colleagues when they insisted that the word "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24:1 meant that virtually anything was a valid reason for legal divorce.

Instead, Jesus sided with their religious rivals who defined the word "uncleanness" as sexual impurity and nothing more. The word He actually used in this instance, however, was "fornication," a word meant to convey more than just sexual impurity as we saw earlier.

Likewise, some people might argue that both Luke 16:18 and Matthew 5:32 speak of a man divorcing his wife for just, biblical cause and then marrying again, but that nothing is said about a woman being permitted to do likewise by divorcing her husband for just, biblical cause and then later re-marrying.

Or, they might argue that the rules are different for men and women because the man is the "head" of the wife.

But, such arguments are refuted by the following passage:

Gal. 3:28

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (KJV)

Accordingly, there is neither male nor female in moral issues because God judges all of us on an absolutely equal basis!

Therefore, moral instructions in the Bible generally apply equally to both men and women except for those defining the different, respective roles or functions of men and women within the family structure.

So, if murder or robbery or lying or adultery or whatever is morally wrong for women, then it is also wrong for men and vice versa!

That is why Jesus appeared to repeat Himself in the following passage; He wanted to make it perfectly clear to everyone that His teaching concerning divorce and re-marriage applied equally to both genders:

Mark 10:11-12

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. (KJV)

Someone might object that a divorce decree is not valid except in cases involving fornication because of the following passage:

Matt. 19:6

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (KJV)

But, obviously man can tear apart what God has joined together or otherwise it would have been pointless for God to say "let no man tear them apart." (Compare Matt. 19:6-8.)

So, then, if the reality is that they have been torn apart, i.e., divorced, then the marriage covenant, by definition, is null and void. Therefore, the victim, i.e., the offended party, is, in reality, single — and therefore, free to re-marry.

Likewise, God is a God of reason and logic and rationality. Therefore, if in reality, the husband has continued on with his life after unfairly divorcing his wife, perhaps even re-marrying, then how could God hold the victim of the unjust divorce action responsible for what has happened?

It would make far more sense for God to hold the offending party responsible for the sin that occurred, rather than punishing or blaming the offended party by condemning that person to a lifetime of loneliness and frustration as a single person. Let us never forget that each person is responsible for his or her own deeds and misdeeds and no one elses!

Accordingly, if a woman has been divorced through no fault of her own and against her will, it is her former husband, not she, who will be held accountable to God on Judgment Day (unless, of course, he subsequently repents of his sins sometime later in his lifetime). Since the reality would be that she would then be divorced (and therefore, single) through no fault of her own, she would be free to re-marry.

This type of reasoning whereby we must balance various moral laws and biblical scriptures against each other in order to glean the highest level of truthful understanding possible is further illustrated by Luke 16:18, which reads as follows:

Luke 16:18

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (KJV)

Once again, at first glance, this passage seems to indicate that whenever a man divorces his wife for any reason whatsoever and later re-marries, he is automatically guilty of adultery. But, in order to achieve a proper perspective on this passage, we must do two things.

First, we must analyze other parallel scriptural passages which deal with this same issue. Then next, we must collectively balance these scriptures against each other to ascertain a balanced, truthful view. It is only after we follow this procedure that we realize fornication on the part of ones spouse is biblical justification for divorce and re-marriage.

Therefore, the scriptural passage in Matthew 5:32 must be clarified in the same manner in which we have just clarified the meaning of Luke 16:18; we must collectively weigh and balance all pertinent, parallel passages and moral teachings against each other in order to ascertain the truth because that is the only way we can evaluate everything God has said on the issue.

Since we have established from Scripture that a person is biblically justified in divorcing their spouse if their spouse is guilty of adultery or any other form of fornication, we should point out that Scripture does not insist on a person divorcing their unfaithful spouse; only that they are justified, morally, if they wish to do so.

Although we should forgive the betrayal by releasing any feelings of hatred or anger or resentment or revenge for both scriptural and health reasons, continuation of the marriage union is not commanded in the Bible under such circumstances. Instead, it is a matter for individuals to decide for themselves.

Another question that people often will ask me is whether or not mental adultery, by their spouses, provides them with sufficient grounds for a biblically-permissible divorce. Accordingly, here is what Jesus had to say about the matter in Matthew 5:27-28:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (KJV)

Because God is logically consistent, His moral laws reign supreme in both the material and spiritual realms of existence. Therefore, we are guilty of adultery whether it is an accomplished physical act of infidelity or merely an adulterous fantasy in which we indulge for sexual pleasure.

Of course, the consequences resulting from the literal, physical act of adultery generally are more severe and noticeable than when we simply engage in immoral fantasies, but nevertheless, both are wrong to one degree or another.

However, one very important point to keep in mind is that we are not guilty of sin merely because Satan tempts us with evil thoughts. The sin occurs if, and when, we give in to the temptation by dwelling on the evil thought and deriving pleasure from it.

The right thing to do in such moments is quickly to dismiss the evil thoughts when they occur and to have nothing to do with them. As Christians, we must not forget that Satan truly is our adversary, walking about as a lion seeking to devour its prey:

1 Peter 5:8

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (KJV)

So, is mental adultery or sexual fantasy sufficient biblical grounds for a divorce?

In my view, this is something which must be considered very carefully and judiciously. It is not always so easy to ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that a mental transgression of this type really has occurred.

Besides, we all know that the physical act of adultery requires a greater willingness to sin than does indulgence in adulterous sexual fantasy — and that has to count for something in the balance scales of justice.

Furthermore, we always have the option of reconciliation after we forgive the betrayal by releasing any feelings of hatred or anger or resentment or revenge. It is always an option because the Bible does not command or mandate divorce necessarily in cases of adultery.

On the other hand, it can be quite devastating to learn that a very beloved spouse is harboring thoughts of infidelity and sexual fantasies about someone else. Especially, if they are ongoing and habitual in nature.

Obviously marital betrayal can be so heart-breaking and psychologically shattering that I am sure this is one of the primary reasons God permits divorce in such instances even though, generally, He hates divorce.

Accordingly, each case has to be judged on its own individual merits and unique set of circumstances. People will have to decide for themselves the truth of the matter on a number of issues pertinent to this question.

For instance, did their mate really betray them sexually in their thoughts? Is their mate truly repentant for what they have done, and can they be deemed trustworthy in the future? How committed is your mate to the concept of moral character and integrity? Can you put the hurt and pang behind you, and focus on healing your marriage?

I do not believe God necessarily wants us to look at divorce as a first response to marital problems like this. But, if the mental betrayal by your spouse is sufficiently severe or habitual, and they are not repentant, and your feelings of hurt and pang over this matter are substantial, then perhaps divorce is a viable biblical solution.

1 Cor. 7:2

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (KJV)

1 Cor. 7:10-11

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. (KJV)

According to this passage, if both husband and wife are Christian believers, and one of them leaves the other, then both of them are commanded to remain in an "unmarried" or separated condition unless they reconcile and reunite back with each other; neither party has the biblical right to seek a divorce from the other.

Instead, they should try their very best to heal their marital relationship through Godly prayer, love, tolerance, kindness, marriage counseling and marital negotiations between the two of them in an attempt to find good solutions or compromises to problems in their relationship.

So, generally, Christian couples may separate from each other, but not divorce.

Not only because God hates divorce, but also because it would hurt the cause of the Gospel if unbelievers began to think that Christian believers were lax in their moral and marital values.

However, if either of them obtains a divorce despite Gods commandment not to do so, then, of course, the marriage covenant no longer would be valid and in effect.

Therefore, the offended marriage partner who is divorced against their will, without just biblical cause, would no longer be under any further obligation to their now-defunct marriage contract, so obviously they would be single again and free to re-marry.

So as to make the meaning of the above passage even more clear, we should note that the word "reconciled" in verse 11 is derived from the Greek word "katallassw," and that it was utilized in Greek marriage contracts to indicate reconciliation between separated couples who were still married.

In essence, then, Paul was saying that even though they became divorced as soon as they separated according to Roman Law, as far as Gods Moral Law was concerned, they were still married and should reconcile and reunite with each other if at all possible. (Brewer)

Some might argue that a marriage covenant between two believers can never be broken because God never would approve such an act.

But, if a "believing" spouse exercises their God-given gift of free will by getting a divorce without just biblical cause, then the covenant is, in fact, broken despite Gods admonition not to do so.

Because for a contract or covenant to be valid, both parties must adhere to the terms of the marriage agreement "till death do us part." Therefore, if the contract has been invalidated by either party, it is no longer in effect, regardless of how one may feel about the matter.

Others might say that Christian marriage partners who separate should always forgive and reconcile and even reunite, regardless of the circumstances involved.

But, "forgiveness" and "reconciliation" and "reunion" are three different things. It is very possible for a person to forgive their spouse and therefore feel no ill will or anger towards them, but still not wish to reconcile or reunite with them for a variety of reasons.

If that is the case, then the scripture above commands them to remain separated until if and when they reconcile and then also agree to reunite. However, under extreme circumstances, I believe there can be biblical exceptions, even to this rule, if we carefully and honestly weigh all relevant moral concerns in a judicious manner.

For example, I can imagine situations where a sincere Christian couple separate for a lengthy period of time without either one of them ever asking for a divorce.

But, even though one of them may wish to enjoy the blessings and benefits of a marital relationship, what if the other party remains completely indifferent to such feelings and concerns, or they continue to have their own personal reasons for wanting to live separated from their spouse?

Perhaps they simply are no longer interested in a marital relationship with anyone.

Perhaps their job or career or children or grandchildren or hobbies or social activities with friends or whatever provides them with complete fulfillment in their life.

Or perhaps there are important personal traits or concerns that make living with each other impossible.

So, whatever the reason, they simply make it very clear to their spouse that a marriage relationship is something they are not interested in, period.

Furthermore, what if the person, who wants to enjoy a marital relationship again, has made numerous "good-faith" attempts to effect a reasonable reconciliation and/or reunion during their long period of separation, but the other party continues to be indifferent because they are content to remain separated, then what?

In such instances, what is the plight of the hapless individual who has just been informed by their spouse that they are determined, essentially, to live a life of celibacy and singleness?

Does that mean both spouses must live such a life based solely upon the decision of only one of the spouses? I do not think so; I do not believe God would judge that outcome to be fair to both parties involved.

Therefore, the spouse who tried, repeatedly, over a long period of time to reconcile and mend the marriage relationship should be free to divorce the spouse who has decided to live a life of celibacy and singleness.

Because if a separation between two sincere Christian believers turns into a long-term, permanent separation that denies the marital blessings of friendship and sexuality and companionship to the spouse who wishes to reunite back into their marriage, then divorce would be morally and biblically justifiable on the grounds of desertion and denial of reasonable sexual relations.

That is why it is possible — under certain extreme circumstances — for the prohibition against divorce for separated Christian couples to be superceded by higher moral values in an unavoidable clash between competing moral concerns.

Which means, for example, that if both parties portrayed in the above hypothetical situation truly remain sincere Christian believers during this long period of separation, yet they continue to find it impossible to both reconcile and reunite despite their mutual Christian love and forgiveness and biblical counseling, then divorce might ultimately be scripturally justified.

The very great danger in all of this is, of course, the reality that many Christians may want to use this line of reasoning, prematurely, to justify a divorce from their Christian spouse when, instead, they should be working very hard at reconciliation.

In other words, there should be numerous sincere attempts, over a lengthy period of time, to effect a reconciliation and reunion before either party even thinks about the possibility of divorce on the grounds of desertion.

But, if they eventually reach that stage, then the aggrieved party who tried repeatedly to reconcile and reunite would be justified, ultimately, in filing for a divorce.

Furthermore, since the aggrieved party would be blameless for the breakup of the marriage, he or she would be free to re-marry.

Obviously the other party who refused reconciliation and reunion would, of course, bear responsibility for the marital breakup if it was caused by a moral failure in their life rather than personal preferences that made continuation of the marriage relationship impossible.

However, if later during their lifetime, they were to change their mind about living in the state of matrimony, they would have to repent, sincerely, of their moral failure relative to their failed marriage, and then place their sin under the grace and mercy of God.

1 Cor. 7:12-15

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

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.

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.

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. (KJV)

Here in this passage, Paul teaches that if an unbelieving spouse is content to remain in the marriage with the believing spouse, then the believing spouse should not leave the unbelieving spouse.

However, if the unbelieving spouse leaves the Christian believer, then the Christian believer no longer is under bondage to the marriage vows. Hence, the marriage covenant under such circumstances is broken, and the believer is free to re-marry whenever the divorce is finalized.

Of course, under Roman Law, as we saw earlier, divorce went into effect immediately upon the mere act of desertion; in our modern society, however, desertion is only grounds for a divorce, so a legal divorce would still have to be obtained.

As for situations where the unbeliever does leave the believer, I should hasten to add that the unbeliever should be leaving the believer because of the believers Christian faith, not because of sin and wrongdoing in the life of the believer.

If the believer is guilty of any misbehavior that is threatening to destroy the marriage, then every reasonable attempt at forgiveness and reconciliation should be tried in order to save the marriage if at all possible.

Someone might argue that 1 Corinthians 7:12 clearly states that this passage of scripture reflects the apostle Pauls opinion, and not Gods.

But Paul, generally, was speaking under the authority and inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit while writing his letter to the Corinthians, even though, in this instance, he was not expressing a direct commandment from God Himself.

However, he was exercising the personal judgment and knowledge and insight with which God had blessed him on a specific issue of great interest.

So, in fact, this passage is not a false representation of Gods Will as some might claim, but a valid part of Scripture as confirmed by Christian councils and translators down through the centuries of time since the inception of Christianity.

Sometimes it is said that 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 does not say that a Christian believer may re-marry if they are deserted or divorced by their unbelieving spouse. But, in 1 Corinthians 7:15, Paul said that "if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases..."

Obviously the phrase "not under bondage" can only mean that the believing spouse no longer is under bondage to the marriage covenant, under such circumstances, because it is invalidated and made non-existent by the unbelieving spouse when they either desert the believing marriage partner or divorce them without just, biblical cause and against their will.

Therefore, in such instances, a believer no longer is bound to the marriage covenant, and is free to re-marry once the divorce has been finalized.

The author of the book of Romans also briefly addresses the issue of marriage and re-marriage:

Rom. 7:1-3

1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. (KJV)

Compare the following parallel passage:

1 Cor. 7:39

39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. (KJV)

In other words, if the spouse of the Christian believer dies, then the Christian is free to re-marry. This is all that the preceding passages are saying; nothing more.

So, they do not mean that if a person is victimized by their spouse through an unjust divorce, they can never re-marry so long as their spouse who divorced them, without cause, remains alive.

Instead, we must apply everything which the Bible teaches about divorce and re-marriage to the above passages in order to ascertain the highest level of understanding possible regarding Gods truth on this matter.

Now, we come to one last thorny issue which, unfortunately, is far too prevalent in todays society. The question involves whether or not a person is biblically justified in getting a divorce in order to protect their health or life from physical or psychological abuse that is inflicted upon them by their spouse.

My forthcoming philosophical and theological arguments will be in the affirmative.

Thus, in my view, a person is justified, morally and scripturally, in getting a divorce under the extreme circumstances we have just described.

Because I am persuaded that no moral principle is completely autonomous to itself. That is why Christians say that God is a God of love and mercy, but also a God of justice and judgment. However, complexity, not contradiction, is involved in such instances.

In other words, whenever moral laws and principles come into direct and unavoidable conflict with each other, and due to circumstances, it is impossible to comply with all of them, it is our moral duty and obligation to choose the highest level of good possible.

For example, if telling a lie was the only way possible to save an innocent life from death, then obviously you should do so because the higher law (preservation of innocent life) should take precedence over the lower law (truth), as in the following biblical example:

Josh. 2:3-4

3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: (KJV)

Heb. 11:31

31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (KJV)

James 2:25-26

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (KJV)

The preceding scriptures we have just read portray an example whereby God accounted an individual as righteous when they were forced to tell a lie in order to save the lives of innocent human beings. Now compare this example with the following one:

Exod. 1:15-21

15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. (KJV)

Here is yet another example where God looked very favorably upon individuals who lied in order to save innocent human life. The midwives, in this instance, very courageously lied to the Pharaoh because it was the only practical way of saving the innocent Hebrew babies from being slaughtered.

Likewise, the following scripture illustrates the morality of being forced to kill a thief who is in the process of robbing you and possibly even threatening your life:

Exod. 22:1-2

1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. (KJV)

The following passage actually portrays God instructing an innocent individual to lie so that he would not be killed unfairly and unjustly.

Some people might argue that God did not really tell Samuel to lie because when Samuel told anyone that he was there to make a sacrifice to the Lord (as God instructed him to do if anyone should inquire as to why he was going to Bethlehem), he was telling the truth.

But truth-telling, in its fullest, complete sense of the meaning, is not necessarily limited to the strict semantic sense of the words employed by a person, but rather, it is the impression or message which a person intends for his audience to receive when he or she is communicating ideas through words and gestures and overall demeanor.

That is why in our judicial system, a person promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

A seemingly redundant pledge of this type is necessary because it is very possible to deceive people by giving only completely truthful statements while still withholding vital information which prevents the audience from understanding the entire situation correctly.

But, sometimes, making truthful statements in order to deceive someone about the whole truth of a matter, as in the following example, is morally justifiable because they involve situations where one is forced by circumstances to choose between two evil actions or consequences in an effort to choose the highest level of good possible when no completely good options exist:

1 Sam. 16:1-5

1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. (KJV)

The following scriptures illustrate the truth that there is a hierarchy of moral values in that some moral laws are more important than other moral laws:

John 19:11

11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (KJV)

Matt. 5:19

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matt. 23:23

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (KJV)

Gen. 9:6

6 Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (KJV)

Acts 5:29

29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (KJV)

James 4:17

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (KJV)

Heb. 11:17

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (KJV)

Compare the following scriptures which state that Jesus was sinless and without blemish:

Heb. 4:15

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (KJV)

I John 3:4

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (KJV)

2 Cor. 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (KJV)

1 Peter 1:19

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV)

Now compare the preceding scriptures, which say that Jesus was sinless, with the following passage portraying Jesus as disobedient and unresponsive to His parents wishes when they conflicted with Gods wishes:

Luke 2:44-49

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a days journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Fathers business? (KJV)

Finally, I think we have established beyond any reasonable doubt that there does exist a hierarchy of moral values which should govern all of our moral decisions in life.

Accordingly, in those instances where our health or life truly is threatened by physical or psychological violence from our spouse, the moral laws of self-preservation and self-defense — rights which are derived from the very right to life itself — supercede the moral law of marriage, and we should get a divorce from our abusive and violent spouse as quickly as possible. (Compare: Matthew 10:23; Exodus 21:26-27; etc.)

This very same principle also explains why earlier we saw that God said divorce was permissible in extreme marital situations that involve neglect by a spouse in matters pertaining to food, clothing and reasonable sexual love.

Therefore, even though God places a very high value on the institution of marriage, it is possible for extreme circumstances involving fornication, adultery, violence, abuse, neglect and desertion to justify a divorce action.

However, the Bible does not always come right out and say precisely what we should do in a wide variety of domestic abuse situations because it would be almost impossible to write a book that would give such completely detailed, explicit moral instructions for every possible contingency in life.

Obviously the potential number of such situations would approach infinity itself, so size, alone, would prohibit such a vast undertaking.

Instead, the Bible gives us basic moral principles to weigh and balance against each other, carefully and honestly, in order to determine what we should do in a given situation.

In other words, biblical moral principles are intended simply to serve as general guidelines, only; it is up to us to apply them properly and diligently in a rational and honest manner.

Accordingly, in any case of alleged physical or mental abuse, here are some of the moral laws which we should consider when making our decision on whether or not we are biblically justified in seeking a divorce:

(1) God hates divorce, i.e., the violation or breaking of ones wedding vows;

(2) The Bible specifically states that adultery, fornication, desertion by a non-believer, non-support and lack of reasonable spousal rights all are legitimate reasons for divorce;

(3) Many scriptures clearly illustrate the basic moral principle that we always should violate the lower moral law if that is the only way possible (within reason) to comply with a higher moral law because no good, alternative option is available to us. In other words, for example, we are obligated morally to tell a lie if that is the only way possible to save an innocent person from being killed.

(4) We have the God-given right to life, and that precious right obviously includes the right to protect and defend our lives against danger and harm. Naturally, we always should utilize the lowest level of force or flight necessary to eliminate any threat which might be arrayed against us.

Accordingly, in any situation involving physical or mental abuse, or the threat thereof, an absolutely honest and realistic assessment of all relevant circumstances is necessary if we are to determine whether we truly are confronted with a realistic threat to our health or life.

This means, for instance, that angry disagreements between marriage partners, and other such things, are not sufficient reason for seeking a divorce. Instead, both parties should strive sincerely and honestly to work out their differences while re-kindling their love and commitment for each other.

Because most marriages encounter problems, sooner or later, but since everyone promises to marry "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health," divorce should not be viewed as a first option as soon as there is any sign of unhappiness or discontent in the marriage.

Therefore, hurt feelings or feelings of frustration are not sufficient grounds for a biblical divorce.

But, on the other hand, realistic threats to our health or life, such as physical beatings or systematic patterns of mental torture designed to destroy or incapacitate us, are legitimate reasons for leaving a spouse and subsequently seeking a divorce from them.

Of course, only the victims of psychological abuse can decide, honestly, if the constant barrage of invective and hatred by their spouse rises to a level of mental cruelty that seriously jeopardizes their emotional and physical health.

Because it is one thing to engage in heated arguments or disputes with your spouse occasionally, but quite another matter if your spouse attacks you verbally — unmercifully, continually — so that you always are near your breaking point.

In such instances, a divorce is biblically justified because the higher moral/biblical values of survival and self-defense take priority over the lower moral/biblical value that prohibits divorce.

Hence, biblical divorces are not limited to just cases of spousal adultery; they also are justified in clear, obvious cases involving psychological and/or physical abuse!

In such instances, the victim of abuse may also want to consult with two or three reputable, experienced Christian counselors or ministers who can advise them regarding their situation.

For as the Bible says, there is safety in a multitude of counselors or advisors:

Proverbs 11:14

14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (KJV)

Proverbs 15:22

22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. (KJV)

Proverbs 24:6

6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety. (KJV)

Furthermore, after the victim of the abuse has obtained their biblically-justified divorce, they become a single person once again in Gods eyes, so they are free to re-marry if they wish to do so.

However, please keep in mind that God knows our every thought and emotion; nothing is hidden from Him.

So, if we decide that divorce is a biblically permissible solution in a given marital situation, especially in highly-subjective situations involving alleged mental torture, we should make certain, in our own mind, that we honestly can look at God on Judgment Day and say we truly believed our life or health, physically or emotionally, was seriously and realistically threatened by our spouse.

Sometimes people say in such instances that the offended party simply should get a separation, not a divorce.

However, aside from the fact the Bible does not say this, the stark reality in life is that violent, abusive people seldom, if ever, suddenly reform their behavior unless they receive a miraculous transformation through the saving grace of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Therefore, it is not fair to condemn the victim of abuse to a lifetime of constant fear, threats, danger, loneliness and frustration simply because they had the misfortune or poor judgment to marry such an evil, violent person.

For God has not called us to be pitiful, abused doormats, but to life, and life abundantly. (John 10:10).

This point is completely harmonious with the teaching in the epistles that just as Christ is head of the church, so likewise should the husband be the head of his wife and family, and should love and cherish his wife and family just as Christ loves and cherishes the body of believers. (Ephesians 5:23).

Accordingly, a proper biblical view of marriage precludes the violent, abusive relationship that so many modern marriages endure. (Compare: Matthew 10:23; Exodus 21:26-27; etc.)

Although God hates divorce (Jer. 3:1; Mal 2:14-16; Mark 10:2-12), it is morally and scripturally justified under certain adverse conditions because a higher moral law supercedes a lower moral law in the biblical hierarchy of moral values.

Before concluding, I want to emphasize the truth that if a person has been guilty of committing adultery sometime during their past, they still are free to re-marry under certain conditions.

If, for example, at some point in time after committing adultery, they honestly and sincerely dedicate or re-dedicate their life to God by truly repenting of their past sins and asking for His forgiveness, here is what Jesus said:

John 8:3-11

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (KJV)

Thus, whenever a person sincerely accepts Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, they become a new creature in Christ with a clean moral slate (since they have been forgiven).

In like manner, when a person re-dedicates their life to God after praying for His forgiveness, all of their past sins and mistakes are wiped away, leaving them pure and spotless through the saving grace of Christ Jesus.

Then, after that person has been forgiven, God expects them to make a "good-faith" effort, through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to obey the commandments of Christ to the best of their ability. That is why Jesus said: "Go, and sin no more."

But, whenever we do fail, we should pray for His forgiveness, and keep on trying as best we can to be in His will at all times.

So, I believe God always forgives us whenever we repent of our sins sincerely and honestly.

Consequently, although some people might disagree with me on this point, I do not believe God demands that divorced people who have been forgiven for their sin of adultery must remain single and alone for the rest of their natural lives.

Instead, if they truly have repented of their past failures, and are very determined and resolute about not committing that type of sin again, I believe they are free to re-marry as forgiven sinners under the grace of God.

Accordingly, as the book of Romans argues, Gods grace and forgiveness is not something we should take advantage of just because God always stands ready to forgive us if we sincerely repent of our moral failures.

Rather, we always should strive to do our very best not to engage in that particular type of sin ever again; most certainly we should not act in a cavalier manner, committing the same sin over and over again, knowing full-well we can always take refuge in Gods willingness to forgive us.

Thus, even though we live under Gods grace and forgiveness, we do have a moral obligation to do our very best not to commit the same horrendous sin again.

Therefore, new Christians or re-dedicated Christians may have committed terrible sins, including adultery, during their "old" life in sin, but since they are getting a "fresh" start in Christ Jesus, they make restitution wherever possible and practical, and then go forward with their lives, determined to do their very best with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit to sin no more.

Furthermore, they start their new lives in Christ in whatever marital state they happen to be in at the time of their conversion to Christ, and conduct their affairs thereafter accordingly:

I Corinthians 7:20

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. (KJV)

This means that whatever our life circumstances are at the moment we dedicate or re-dedicate our lives to Christ, that is the point from which we start conforming our activities and thoughts to His commandments.

So, if a new Christian or a re-dedicated Christian is single in marital status at the time their new life in Christ begins, then they are free to marry or re-marry if they wish to do so. Nor is it necessary for such an individual, who has been divorced from a previous marriage, to re-marry their former spouse in a misguided attempt to "atone" for a past mistake.

Likewise, if a new Christian or a re-dedicated Christian is married when they begin their new life in Christ, they should remain married to their current spouse. They should not divorce their spouse in order to re-marry a former spouse.

That is one of the reasons why the apostle Paul also said we should put our past sins and mistakes behind us, and press on toward the future in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)

Therefore, in conclusion, the Bible says that divorce is biblically permissible whenever:

(1) your spouse is guilty of fornication, including adultery;

(2) your spouse is guilty of not providing reasonable support in matters pertaining to food, clothing and shelter;

(3) your spouse is guilty of denying reasonable sexual privileges indefinitely and maliciously;

(4) your spouse is guilty of physical or mental abuse that threatens your life or health;

(5) your non-believing spouse is guilty of permanent desertion;

(6) your believing spouse separates from you, then

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