There’s a topic that doesn’t get addressed often within the church. It’s one of those elephants in the room. It can still be a bit of a taboo subject.
I’m talking about domestic violence.
It happens more than we care to admit. It happens to people we love. It is happening all around us.
More and more I see the world discussing and acting upon the scourge of domestic violence, but it seems to me that the church has not yet risen to this challenge. When it hits close to home, you can’t help but think about it and want to act.
I have a friend who has been married for almost 10 years to a man I believe doesn’t really love her. He is abusive in every way imaginable…verbally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. It breaks my heart. Their situation has escalated to the point of police being called in and protective orders served. And yet she returns to him. She is praying for restoration of their marriage. Now, I’m all about her husband being radically saved and delivered, but not at the cost of her life or the lives of her children. Watching their marriage implode has literally been like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
I know abuse happens to men, but I can only speak to a woman’s perspective. I actually have quite a few friends who have come out of both abusive dating relationships and marriages. At some point, every one of them wanted out badly enough to escape by whatever means possible. They wanted a better life for their children or for themselves. The beautiful thing is that Jesus wanted better for them as well. He wanted better even more than they could ever want.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
This verse rocks my world in so many ways. In this context, our bodies are not our own. They were created by God. They were created for Him. How often do we allow someone to misuse us?
I’ve been seeking wisdom from the Lord and learning from experts on the subject of domestic violence. It’s a cycle. The victims of it don’t see themselves as victims; they live with a veil over their eyes. They live in disbelief of their situation. They are held captive to their abuser. They believe it is all their fault, and this is right where the enemy of our souls wants them to stay. He sees the potential that the Lord has placed in them, and he’ll do anything to destroy that potential. I won’t let him, and I pray that each victim won’t let him. I pray that you won’t let him, either. But how?
Know your identity.
Any victim I meet, this is what I would repeat to them until hearing becomes believing.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our perfect God. He created you with such care and purpose. He loves you with all that He is. He has a future and a hope in store for you. He has blessed you beyond measure. You are chosen, holy and redeemed. You are whole, healed and free. You are perfect in His sight. You are an adopted and beloved daughter.
I pray that every woman who is being hurt will embrace her identity. I am believing for a shift in their thoughts that will lead them into desiring the life that God intended for them.
It’s never OK.
Abuse is never OK. It is, in fact, the farthest thing from God’s purpose for relationships and marriage. There is nothing that a woman could do that would ever warrant a man putting his hands on her to bring harm. It is never her fault.
Every person is responsible for his or her actions. We are not to live in reaction to other peoples’ actions.
It’s not submission to stay.
Sadly, we have not learned healthy definitions of submission. Lisa Bevere defines it as coming under one mission. I love this idea — a husband and a wife come together as one under the mission of Christ. When the husband is under the mission of flesh or Satan, that changes everything. The older women I have talked to who were in abusive marriages, all said that a woman is not called to submit to that authority when her life is in danger or her husband’s actions are opposed to Scripture.
I couldn’t agree more. The Father would never ask His daughter to stay and be the object of abuse or even death. It is never our job to change someone. That is always the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to be safe or help someone to safety.
Pastors and the church need to counsel women to leave abusive situations.
We as believers and church leaders need to step it up when it comes to a response to domestic violence. God can radically restore a marriage, but we are to walk in wisdom. He will deal with the abusers’ souls. He will bring justice and redemption. He is the only one that can bring change.
We as brothers and sisters need to protect these women and their children. We show them love and grace and help. We welcome them without judgment or condemnation. We speak truth in love. We pray for their lives and hearts and minds. We even pray for the abusers to experience a supernatural transformation.
For me, there is no gray zone when it comes to domestic violence. There is right and wrong. There is good and evil. There is black and white.
If you or someone you know is being abused, speak up! Ask God to make a way of escape. Ask trusted community around you for help, and know that God’s heart is broken for you. He wants to rescue you and heal you and give you a bright future.
Editor’s note: If you’re currently in an abusive situation or know someone who is, Boundless and Focus on the Family have a team of counselors to assist you. Call 1-800-A-FAMILY to speak to a counselor, or email us at [email protected]