Herein lies the problem — “abuse” can be defined by almost anything nowadays. And when we redefine the Scriptures to allow for divorce in ambiguous situations, we not only deny the power of the gospel to its work and to bring glory to God, but we also open the floodgates for divorce under practically any situation.
Now, I understand that the “slippery slope” argument is in most cases logically fallacious and should not serve as the sole basis to prove an idea wrong — however, it does serve as circumstantial evidence in this case that what the Scriptures do have to say about divorce is good and right, besides the fact that it is God-breathed.
Those who hold to a permanence view of marriage — namely, John Piper and Wayne Grudem — have historically held that divorce is unacceptable in any case, including sexual infidelity and abandonment. Still, others in the conservative camp would hold that since Jesus seemed to make an exception in Matthew 19:9 for sexual immorality, that people whose spouse unrepentantly cheat on them have biblical grounds for divorce.
Historic, orthodox biblical Christianity, however, has never held the view that “abuse” was grounds for divorce. First of all, when we speak of “abuse” — especially in the #metoo/#churchtoo movement — we’re defining the term broadly which can range from real, actual physical and sexual abuse to some sort of mild emotional manipulation. And, further, within this movement, it seems to be only men who can be the perpetrators of this “abuse.”
Further, as we’ve seen from the #churchtoo movement, what qualifies in this culture as “abuse” can simply be just being a male — particularly, a straight, white male — as they believe that anyone who holds a perceived position of “power” or “authority” is automatically guilty of abuse.
Because of this, “abuse” would naturally become a catchall to justify divorce which the Bible does not permit. Debatably, the Bible only allows for divorce in unrepentant sexual immorality. On the other hand, the Bible does tell believers that to suffer for the cause of Christ brings glory to God — our ultimate purpose (Romans 8:17).
Wayne Grudem, a well-known and prominent theologian in the Evangelical camp, used to hold to this position — and strongly so. Now, it appears that Grudem has flip-flopped on his historically biblical belief and has embraced the new ideology of the #churchtoo movement. Christianity Today reports,
Wayne Grudem, a leading Calvinist theologian and prominent complementarian, has changed his position to affirm a scriptural basis for divorce in cases of abuse and shared his new stance at a major gathering of evangelical scholars last week.
After hearing examples of real-life couples whose Christian beliefs led them to endure abuse rather than separate, Grudem said he looked closer at Scripture to conclude that abuse may be grounds for divorce, provided pastors and elders seek discernment from God in leading a couple to this outcome.
This would certainly be a departure of a once-held biblical belief and now that Grudem has embraced this ideology, it is very likely that many more will follow suit. Now, we can prepare ourselves for an onslaught of church-approved divorces that are justified by women who desire an “out” from their marriage who cry “abuse.”