Answered by: BibleAsk Team


Can I divorce my alcoholic spouse to protect the children?

Can I Divorce My 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 for 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 thus apply these 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 spouses.

Dealing With the Addicted Spouse

Before a believer separates from his/her 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 ones should be informed that if they refuse 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 born again (John 3:3–6). He/she needs to understand that they should be under the Holy Spirit’s control and that their 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/she 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 or drugs) 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/her at their time of trouble but that you seek their salvation and 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/her choices and lifestyle. It may urge them to come to their 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 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 in order to overcome (Philippians 2:8).

Your alcoholic spouse is battling a war with addiction, so be patient and pray earnestly for his/her salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Remember your first love. Give the addicted ones the encouragement and the assurance that if once they reform, you will go back to them with the children. You should give all the hope they need for it is this hope that will give them 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/she seek help and recover by the grace of God. “Love suffers long and is kinddoes 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).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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