Adultery is not, of course, the only sin that can end a marriage. Many marriages are killed by neglect or abuse. Christians today accept that the Bible allows divorce for adultery, but many believe that it does not allow divorce for reasons such as physical or emotional abuse, or when a man withholds money from his wife, or stops her going out, or when a wife neglects the children and leaves them filthy and starving. This has led Christians to feel confused and concerned, because they conclude that God isn’t interested in such things, that these issues don’t seem to touch his heart.
But why? Why is adultery more valid a reason for divorce than cruelty? Why wouldn’t God allow divorce in these situations? And why wouldn’t a victim be allowed at the very least the choice of leaving such a marriage? In fact, the Bible does have a law that addresses this situation. Exodus 21: 10-11 is a text that is usually forgotten, but it provides precisely what is needed, for it allows the victim of abuse or neglect to be freed from the marriage.
Divorce and Remarriage in the Church, by David Instone-Brewer