I have read questions regarding reasons to divorce: some mention spiritual abuse. Exactly what is the definition of spiritual abuse?
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Interesting question. I will note that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16: 12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? That appears to fall under the category of 'disagreeing' with each other's religious beliefs, but not necessarily abuse. Now, if one has adopted a belief that becomes abusive, (i.e. Bible bashing, insults, unloving conduct, withholding love/marital rights, again see 1 Corinthians 7) that is another story. I would point out that it would have been better if beliefs were discussed before the marriage took place, but that does not solve the current problem. I would recommend Biblical counseling and mediation to see if some sort of Biblically based compromise can be reached. What exactly is the disagreement? Is it doctrinal? Is it denominational? Perhaps a good idea would be to take a couple's course, or at the very least, a Bible study that would help to aid in discussion. I believe 100% that despite initial differences and appearances, most people want similar things in a marriage, but due to miscommunication and a lack of patience, methodologies as to how to achieve those wants/needs/desires tend to be where many differ. God can make those differences fade away. As long as the two are focusing on the One, keeping Him in focus and as an anchor, He will draw them together. There is a saying that a woman should be so lost in God that the man who seeks her needs to go through Him. I think it should apply to both. Good luck and God bless.
The above answers have been good ones but focused on married couples because of the way the questioner phrased their query. "Spiritual abuse" is a major problem in the broader Body of Jesus …not just within families, according to the experts on the subject. It most commonly occurs whenever one so-called Christian uses religion or the Bible to "beat up" another person. According to many of the books written about this emotionally and pyschologically hurtful practise, pastors are some of the worst practitioners of it for a variety of reasons. Blessings, all!
Spiritual abuse is when a spouse misuses God or the Bible to inflict emotional harm on the other. The term "abuse" is becoming overused in our day, so is important to define the factors that make it so. To abuse is to use something in ways other than it was created to be used. Physical abuse is to mistreat someone physically. So spiritual abuse is to misuse spiritual things to harm someone. For example, a husband who uses the Ephesians 5 command for wifely submission as an excuse to dominate and terrorize his wife is spiritually abusing her. He is twisting scripture in such a way as to cause her to fear and hate God. Using scripture or "God told me" to justify selfish and abusive behavior is spiritual abuse.
Spiritual abuse in a nut shell is when a spouse or more commonly a pastor or church leaders replace Christ with themselves as the center of a marriage or church. They load you down with a religious "to do" list or guilt. If challenged, you are a trouble maker. Then you are faced with fight or flight.
I appreciate the previous responses, but felt one was left out. Someone can spiritually abuse their children. When a parent's religion is followed to extremes, but is errant Scripturally, and the child is told repeatedly and for years that they are bad, not good enough, and going to hell. That is also spiritual abuse!
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