Q. My unbelieving husband abused me physically and mentally? I would rather die than continue like this. Can I divorce him?
A. I am sorry that your husband is like that. A man who abuses his wife or children is not fit to be a husband or father, but is a coward who vents his inferiority on those physically weaker than he. Death is not a solution to your pain, and the Bible permits divorce only in the case of sexual immorality (Mt 5:32, 19:9; see yesterday’s post), or abandonment (desertion) by an unbelieving spouse:
• 1 Co 7:15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.
Your husband is unbelieving, so if he chooses to leave, let him leave. You are not bound to the abusive marriage. However, if he does not show any inclination to leave, the biblical option is separation. Nowhere in the Bible does it require an abused wife to submit herself to her abusive husband. Her safety and that of her children are paramount. She can extract herself and any small children to a safe shelter, whether to her parents, her friends, or to a government-run shelter.
In fact, abuse is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, and must be reported to the authorities. And it is not restricted to physical violence either. The abuse could be physical (e.g. hitting), sexual (e.g. subjecting her to his perversions), verbal (e.g. taunts), emotional (e.g. tearing down her self-worth), and mental-psychological torment. If you are afraid, inform your family or close friends and ask the church to help. The police could place restraining orders on the abusive husband, or put him in jail if he poses a threat to you and/or the children’s safety.
The best option of course is for your husband to become a Christian submitted to the Word of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict his heart of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8). Ask your pastor or church leaders to witness to him, and pray for his conversion. If he is truly repentant, reconciliation is possible. Don’t submit in silence. God never intended you to.