Dr Barbara Wilson

Dr Barbara Wilson, co-editor of New Life, Australia’s Christian Newspaper

As an immature Christian, Barbara Roberts married an unbeliever in 1989 and her marriage gradually became abusive. Barbara with her daughter finally left, but returned to the marriage when her husband made a profession of faith. However the abuse continued and finally, in 1999, she separated from him for the last time and divorced him a few years later.

Barbara looks at the way the Bible distinguishes between “treacherous divorce” and ‘”disciplinary divorce”, the characteristics of each, and what the Bible permits in each of those situations.

She carefully researches both Old and New Testament teaching on divorce in its context, and carefully documents her findings and conclusions. The bibliography is extensive and the book is well indexed.

It is not an easy book to read, and the author has carefully wrestled with the Biblical text to come to her conclusions – and some of them may be different from what Bible believing Christians would expect. They may reject some of them, believing that divorce is not permitted in any circumstance. Barbara also looks carefully at the so-called “exception” clause.

This book is carefully written by someone who has been in this very difficult place at a personal level, and writes with a discernment which many readers will appreciate. It will help the committed Christian to carefully explore what the Bible says about this subject, and not only what one thinks it teaches. The book can also help a Christian who is in an abusive situation know that the Bible sets the victims of abuse free from bondage and guilt.

Most of us have not been through these waters, and we should not be over judgmental until all the issues have been carefully and prayerfully considered. Barbara tells us that “abuse can be emotional, social, financial, sexual, physical and spiritual. It might involve using children or legal processes as an artillery of abuse – for non-physical forms of abuse can be just as (or more) damaging than physical violence. They are also harder to recognise.”

The book has fine reviews from scholars who are teachers in the areas of ethics and theology from Moore College, Taylor University, Covenant Seminary, and Tyndale House. I commend it to our readers and to Christian counsellors as a further tool in understanding Biblical teaching about this destructive experience.