When it comes to domestic violence, Christians are too often the least informed and the most ready to judge the victims, instead of showing them mercy.
God designed marriage as a partnership between two different people who are both equal in His sight. In 1 Peter 3:7, the apostle stresses the importance of a husband granting his wife honor as, “a fellow heir of the grace of life.” An abusive relationship makes a mockery of this design, elevating one partner to the position of an all-powerful tyrant, while oppressing and demeaning the other partner.
In her book, Family and Friends Guide to Domestic Violence, Elaine Weiss explains that in normal relationships, control is negotiated. Even when they disagree, even when their relationship is dysfunctional, there is some amount of give and take between the partners. By contrast, in an abusive relationship, the abuser wages a concerted campaign to gain complete control over his or her spouse.
Marriage is a sacred covenant, but the Christian community must beware of turning it into an idol upon whose altar victims of spousal abuse are sacrificed. In cases of domestic violence, I’m convinced that continuing to put up with a spouse’s sinful behavior in the name of forgiveness or “turning the other cheek” is both foolish and unbiblical.
There is no virtue in allowing oneself to be victimized, as the apostle Paul demonstrates by his example in Acts 25. Paul knew that, as a Roman citizen, he was entitled to legal protection against the Jews who intended to ambush and kill him while he was in Jerusalem. Even though he clearly had the courage to face martyrdom, he did not simply submit to being brutally murdered, but appealed to the Roman court system for justice: “If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar” (Acts 25:11).
Here in America, we have laws against both child abuse and domestic violence. Nobody “deserves” to be abused. If your spouse is violent or abusive, separation and legal action, including restraining orders and criminal charges, might be required, even if you are not at peace with dissolving the marriage. If you have children, you have a responsibility to protect them from the trauma of an abusive environment, whether that abuse is directed toward yourself or toward them. If you take no action, chances are high that your children will repeat the abusive patterns modeled at home in their own future relationships.
Excerpted from the section entitled “Protection Against Abuse” from Chapter 8 of A Wife of Valor: Your Strategic Importance in God’s Battle Plan,
Copyright © 2016 Rebecca D. Bruner