Domestic Abuse – Part II (What the Bible Says)
When I posted my “woman to woman” blog the other day about my personal and often stressful experiences with victims of severe family violence (from the family law office environment perspective), I made mention that my hubby would be helping me with a “Christian response” or “what the Bible says” about this topic. And here it is. At least this is what came to our hearts.
Love. Many of the women that I’ve worked with tell me that their abuser “loves them” so much and that they “love” their abuser so much. Thankfully, the Bible says A TON about love. I’ve been trained that love is action. Not emotion. You can see the fruit of love that flows from the heart. It is something tangible and has a specific set of characteristics. Love looks like this. 1 Cor 13: 4-8 NLT “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”
Does your abuser look like this definition of love?
Additionally, we are to “obey the law of the land”. 1 Peter 2:13-15 “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers ….” And it is against the law, at least in Texas, to commit spousal abuse and/or family and domestic violence. See http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm
Does your abuser violate the laws of the land?
Religious Abuse (or possibly misuse, condemnation or guilt, or all of the above). One of my favorite ladies was a victim of physical abuse for a decade or more. When I questioned the hows and whys of remaining in such an abusive situation (some of which I saw first hand), it seemed to be her personal religious convictions that kept her there above all things. Looking at the 1 Cor 13 definitions of love, she was trying to operate in forgiveness, allowing love to cover the wrongs, enduring the abuse for the sake of the family (almost like “taking a hit for the team”). Also, her church’s view was that you can only divorce for adultery. And she greatly feared rebuke by her religious leaders as well as fears she had of shaming her family if her marriage was not successful.
Recently I came across a church’s website that deals with “divorce and remarriage”. This is a church that requires its members to allow church discipline and correction. And here is how they deal with abusers in their church. Their website says “In 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 Paul discusses the case of a marriage between believer and unbeliever. In such an instance, the overarching command is clear; the believer should not divorce the unbeliever who is willing to remain married. However, if the unbelieving spouse does desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free. In the case of unrepentant and continued abuse, the abused is encouraged to immediately separate and is also expected to inform The Village Church who will attempt to engage both the abuser and the abused with the gospel in hopes of repentance and reconciliation. If such does not occur, the elders may deem the abuser an unbelieving spouse according to the tenets of Matthew 18:17 and allow for divorce on the basis of the spiritual desertion caused by the abuse. In all other issues of marital difficulty and division, the command of the Lord is clear; divorce is not to be pursued.”
I love that this church encourages its abused member “to immediately separate” from the abuser. They are obviously working to protect the abused and any child of the abused. Way to go church! My husband also stated that, during the separation and counseling process, some spouses probably commit adultery. Or, have committed adultery in addition to family violence, which also removes the biblical requirement to stay married though that is not the topic here. (Yes, he and I have some CRAZY discussions!)
Another thing my husband and I discussed about serious domestic violence is the importance of boundaries. It is IMPERITIVE to have safe boundaries within relationships. There is nothing healthy or loving about being a full time door mat. That does not mean to be aggressive or hateful, but you certainly do not have to idly sit by and be abused and especially not in the name of Jesus or the Bible.
Now, I am not a pastor, a theology major, a lawyer, or a mental health professional. But as a woman, I have been overwhelmed by the growing number of abuse victims that I have come into contact with in recent years. And as a Christian woman, I have been heartbroken over the women I have dealt with who believe that they are dutifully serving their families and their God by remaining in such an abusive environment.
If you find this post ringing truth in your life, I sincerely and genuinely pray that you will seek and find professional help and that you will find the courage, strength, love and support to take steps of healing. Above all things I pray you will have an encounter with our ultimate Healer. You would be amazed what He can do for you!
Social media hugs.