Does the Bible allow me to divorce my alcoholic wife in order to protect my children?

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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 for in the case of adultery. “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).

But before you separate, you need to warn your wife first that if she doesn’t seek immediate help for her drinking problem, you will resort to separation to protect the children. Your wife should not get the message that you want to abandon her at her time of trouble but that you are only doing what you should as a guardian for the welfare of your children. Separation may give her the chance to re-evaluate her choices and lifestyle and may be helpful in making her come to her senses like the prodigal Son who came back to his senses when he lost all that he had.

When humanity 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 to overcome.

Your wife is battling a war with addiction, so be patient and pray earnestly for her. See her as the woman you first loved except that she is sick at the moment. Give her the encouragement she needs and the assurance that if once she reforms, you will come back to her with the children. You should give her all the hope she needs for it is this hope that will give her the strength to fight her battle with alcohol. Losing one’s children is the most painful experience any mother can have. This by itself could cause her to delve more into drinking. So, give her the affirmation of reuniting with her when she seeks help and recovers.

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

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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