I got into a discussion today about when Jesus permits divorce. My friend is conservative protestant, and so I pointed out that Jesus really only permits the man to divorce when the wife was unfaithful. She said both abuse and adultery were acceptable reasons.
I asked about the abuse, as I couldn't recall any particular verses speaking to that. She said that it was explained as abuse was a form of adultery, in that the husband (or wife) was cheating on the covenant of marriage and the promises s/he made, and thus divorce was acceptable.
We moved on to a new topic as I pondered this. I then asked her about a situation where the husband is emotionally distant: he works all the time, does very little with the wife, doesn't listen to her. Isn't that also a form of adultery, based on her definition? And based on her definition, couldn't divorce then be justified in a lot of cases?
I remember that portion of the conversation concluded with how emotional situations were complicated. But in my mind -- and I didn't say this because it would've opened up a *huge* can of worms -- it sounds like a stretch. We have a clear-cut example of where Jesus says that someone can divorce, and it's not abuse. It's adultery. Not only that, but it's adultery as understood in the basic form: sexual unfaithfulness to the married partner.
And suddenly this gets stretched to include abuse as well? It adultery does include abuse, then why say there are two situations where divorce is okay? There's really only one situation, and that's adultery, only adultery means unfaithfulness to wedding promises. It sounds more like conservative Christians understand that they'd get a huge amount of flack for saying that someone would have to stay with an abusive partner, and so came up with a convoluted reason as to why abuse is an acceptable reason for divorce.
Now, to be fair, there could be a Biblical verse about abuse that's as direct as the adultery ones. But she didn't bring one up, and I can't think of one.