And Yet Again, Rick Warren

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Now he says that physical abuse is not a sufficient reason for divorce, according to this Christian Post story.

I feel his pain, in a sense, as he says that he wishes the Bible included such a reason for divorce, but that in fact, it does not.

He is also quite correct that the explicit text of the Bible does not include physical abuse as a reason for divorce. On the other hand, I would suggest that a theological system that doesn’t allow you to find such a reason is seriously flawed and even dangerous.

Warren, according to the article, also recommends:

But while Warren believes divorce is not a biblical option in cases of domestic violence, he strongly recommends the couple to separate. During the separation, the couple should undergo counseling and try to mend the marriage, he said.

I think that there can be danger in the idea of mending a physically abusive marriage, especially where the alternative of divorce has been ruled out, leaving only permanent separation or a restoration of the marriage as options. I appreciate that Pastor Warren says there is no Biblical injunction to continue to live under divorce, while at the same time being concerned that people, in our society especially women, will feel trapped by the alternatives allowed.

As I do with the complementarian/egalitarian debate, I would suggest building a doctrine here rather on the ideals of scripture. What is it that God intended a marriage to be? How can we best support and maintain such marriages? This will allow us to extend the principle of adultery to include other activities that are diametrically opposed to the very concept of marriage.

Now please understand that I don’t accuse Rick Warren of supporting physical abuse. Rather, I think that he, and others who use a rule-book approach to Christian marriage and divorce, place themselves in a position where they cannot recommend the best course of action in many cases. It concerns me that an abused spouse might return to an unreformed abusive spouse because the only alternatives were unthinkable.

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