My wife was physically abusive to me, and threatened to commit perjury / bear false witness against me if I ever dared to call the police. One day, she threw a whiskey bottle at my head (missed), and I did call the police. When they arrived, she told them a story, and I was charged with assault. Of course, the charge was fiction, and it was dropped. We obtained a legal separation, and she moved out. Now a year has passed, and I am considering a legal divorce. In Matthew 19: 9, some versions of the Bible use the term “unfaithfulness”, in others “sexual unfaithfulness”, from the Greek “porneia”. What do you think? Is my wife “faithful”, thereby making my a divorce / remarriage adultery on my part?  Thanks very much for you time,


The Greek word porneia means sexual impurity. In the context of Matthew 19:9, almost certainly it is talking about sexual unfaithfulness. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus is telling his followers that the only reason for divorce is for the spouse to commit adultery. This is not a broad permission for disciples to divorce their spouse if they become dissatisfied with the marriage.

I would say that what your wife has done is not sexual unfaithfulness (porneia). You will have to make your own decision, but I do not believe that Matthew 19:9 would support ththe decision to divorce her. My advice is that if your wife remains abusive, you should refuse to live with her. If she chooses to divorce you, you might choose to accept her decision. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul tells the disciple that if they have an unbelieving wife (or husband) who refuses to remian in the marriage, then they are not bound.

My advice to you, then, is that you continue to love your wife and to try to help her turn her life around. I would not divorce her, but if she is out of control, then you should tell her that you cannot live with her under those conditions. If whe decides to divorce you, then you might possibly accept her decision.

By the way, a very good friend of mine went through something similar to what you describe. Adding to this, they have a daughter and it became totally unacceptable for the wife to continue to live with her daugher. My friend moved out and lived separately for more than two years. Finally, she came to her senses and after about three years they were able to move in together and reestablish their marriage. Today she is still troubled, but is coming to church and is making improvement in her life. I wish I could guarantee that if you love your wife, it will help her to turn her life around, but I do promise that if you put your faith in God, he will take care of you.

John Oakes

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