Can I divorce my alcoholic spouse to protect my children?

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By BibleAsk Team


Divorce the Alcoholic Spouse

I am very sorry for the sad situation your family is going through. From the brief message you sent, a separation may be advised at this time only for the safety of the children. But the Bible does not allow divorce except in the case of adultery. Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).

When Christians enter into the marriage union, they should accept the responsibility of applying the principles Jesus shared in Matthew 5:32. Husbands and wives who do apply this instruction, and who are willing by the grace of God to live right, will find that there is no problem, however serious it may appear to be, that cannot be fixed if both spouses are willing. Where conditions are not right, the believer’s solution is to change the condition, not the spouse.

Dealing With the Addicted Spouse

Before a believer separates from his alcoholic spouse, he needs to give them a warning first to seek immediate help for their drinking problem. The believer should set boundaries and follow the guidelines of Matthew 18:15-17. The addicted one should be informed that if he refuses to cooperate, the other spouse will resort to separation in order to protect the children from the bad behavior and example that usually accompany the addicted.

If the alcoholic spouse claims to be converted (John 3:3–6). He needs to understand that they should be under the Holy Spirit’s control and that his allegiance should be to God to honor him and reflect His character. Paul urges the believers, “do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18 also I John 1:8–9; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

The alcoholic spouse should realize that instead of being under the control of the Holy Spirit, he is under the control of addictive substances. And no believer can be controlled by two Masters (Matthew 6:24). Any kind of addiction is a sin. The act of depending on addictive substances (Alcohol) to control a person’s life is idolatry. And idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Revelation 21:8).

However, the alcoholic spouse should not get the message that you want to abandon him at his time of trouble but that you seek his salvation and that you are only doing what you should as a guardian for the welfare of your children. Separation may give the addicted spouse the chance to re-evaluate his choices and lifestyle. It may urge him to come to his senses like the prodigal Son, who came back to his senses when he lost all that he had (Luke 15:11-32).

Give Hope

When we as humans sinned and fell under the power of Satan, God sent His Son to redeem us and give us the strength to overcome (John 3:16). God didn’t abandon us to our doomed destiny. On the contrary, He did everything He possibly could to provide all the help we needed in order to overcome (Philippians 2:8).

Your alcoholic spouse is battling a war with addiction, so be patient and pray earnestly for his salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Remember your first love. Give the addicted one the encouragement and the assurance that if once he reforms, you will go back to him with the children. You should give all the hope he needs for it is this hope that will give him strength to fight the battle with alcohol (Isaiah 40:31).

Losing one’s children is the most painful experience any parent can have. This by itself could cause the alcoholic spouse to delve more into drinking. So, give the addicted spouse the affirmation of reuniting only when he seeks help and recover by the grace of God. “Love suffers long and is kind … does not behave rudely, does not seek its own… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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