Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Bible Verses on Abuse & Violence


Many people think that the Bible has very little to say about abuse, and yet there are countless bible verses which speak clearly and definitely on the subjects of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Quite often, if we as victims approach and confide in an elder, priest, or member of our Church, hoping for some support and encouragement, we can leave feeling even more guilty and trapped than we did formerly. We may be told that the abuse is due to our own lack of submissiveness, or our own sinfulness, that we would not suffer if our faith was greater, or that we will be rewarded in the next life for the suffering we experience in this one (!?!). I have heard of women who have been told earnestly by their vicar that it would be better for them to die at the hands of their abusive husband than to seek a separation and protection for their children!

When talking to Church members we have to realise that understanding of Domestic Abuse is still in its infant stages in many Churches, and that the majority of people (including elders, vicars and priests) still hold basic misconceptions regarding the dynamics of an abusive relationship and have formed their opinions less on what Scripture says, and more on those myths generally held in society. An added hurdle is to be found especially in the more fundamental denominations, where the mistaken belief is often that such things may happen "in the World", but not in a good Christian home!

The question, however, for every Christian person should not be what does our Church say about our situation, but what does the LORD say to us in the Bible, according to which both our Church should be based, and more importantly, according to which we, as individuals, should try to live?

The Bible condemns violence and violent men

Many passages in the Bible speak out on the issue of violence, and GOD's attitude toward those that repeatedly use violence:

Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Zephaniah 1:9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

Psalms 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Malachi 2:16-17 “I hate [...] a man’s covering his wife with violence, as well as with his garment.” says the Lord Almighty...."You have wearied the Lord with your words.” “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying “all who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”. (NIV alternate translation)

In a similar way, 'wrath' or anger is condemned as being sinful, as is sexual abuse:

James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication (note: that is to say, sexual immorality, including sexual abuse), and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God

What the Bible says about Verbal Abuse

Scripture also shows us that the very words we speak can be considered as a form of violence:

Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Matthew 5:21,22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire

As followers of Christ we are encouraged to consider everything we say to one another, whether it stands the test of being for the benefit of the hearer - verbal abuse surely does not qualify:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

The LORD sympathises and offers comfort to those who are afflicted

The LORD does hear our prayers, He does care when we cry. He is there to comfort, guide us and heal us.

Psalms 18:48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

2 Samuel 22:28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

Psalms 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Psalms 140:12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

Psalms 72:14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.

Psalms 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

Psalms 103:6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Psalms 146:7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

The Church has a responsibility to hold abusers accountable and to help victims

Firstly, the Church - and each individual follower of Christ - has a responsibility to offer comfort and help to those who are oppressed (by their partner), needy (of reassurance and protection), weak (due to the constant onslaught of abuse) and in distress.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Proverbs 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Jeremiah 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

Genesis 42:21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

Isaiah 35:3,4 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Secondly, the Church also has a responsibility to hold the abuser accountable, to admonish him, to judge (that is, to investigate and discern right from wrong) and to encourage the abuser to change his/her ways:

Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

James 5:19,20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

1 Corinthians 6:1-3 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

As the above verses indicate, we, today, are encouraged to show a sinning Brother or Sister the error of their ways. In the Old Testament, those who had the position of being the spiritual guides of the God's people likewise had an obligation to warn those who were doing wrong of the consequences that would ensue if they did not change their ways. The words are non-compromising:

Ezekiel 3:17-19 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Thirdly, the manner in which the abuser is to be admonished (i.e. the spirit in which to approach him/her) is also spelled out for us Not one of us is perfect - our aim is not to condemn the person - whom Christ has called - but to condemn the actions, and try to encourage recognition of the sin, repentance and a change in ways:

2 Thessalonians 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

We are to shun those that consistently oppress or wantonly harm others

Jesus laid out a clear and simple procedure to follow in the event of dealing with an erring brother (or sister!):

Mat. 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Those, who after several admonishings still stubbornly refuse to change their ways, are to be 'marked' or 'put away' - they are to be 'shamed' to the end that they realise the seriousness of their sin and repent:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

2 Thessalonians 3:14,15 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Note: in all our dealings and communication with someone who has sinned, with an abuser in this instance, we have to remember that the aim is ALWAYS to try to seek a change of heart and ways in them. Hence it is also our duty to continuously encourage the abuser to face up to his personal responsibility, to repent and to seek forgiveness, and thereby be healed. Unrepentant, they are as the lost sheep in Christ's parable:

Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Scripture on how to treat each other

Christ has called us unto Peace, not fear, he has called us to follow his example of serving one another, not dominating each other, he has called us to Truth, not to deceit and hypocrisy. Christ has called us to Love, not to abuse.

Eph. 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Colossians 3:12,13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

1 Peter 3:8 Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.


Bibliography

Where not otherwise stated, all quotations have been taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

No Place for Abuse - Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence , by Catherine Clark Kroeger & Nancy Nason-Clark, InterVarsity Press, Illinois (to find out more and purchase the book, please check out the recommended reading in the left bar.)


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Abigail's Story
Charlotte's Story
Kiara's Story
May's Story

christian woman vowing

God is love, and God’s love for us is unconditional. God wants us to love him, but gives us the freedom to make that choice. God does not force us to love him. If someone is afraid in a relationship, then that is not love. Everyone deserves a violence-free life. No one deserves to be beaten and humiliated. If a person in a relationship has to worry that something she said or did might “set him off,” if she is always “walking on eggshells,” or “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” or afraid of how he is going to verbally tear her down, then that is not love. Fear and love cannot coexist. If someone is afraid, it is because they are afraid of punishment and retribution. And that is not love, because there is no fear in love. Read more ...
Sometimes Christian women get so bogged down in guilt and the need to save our marriage, that we forget to save ourselves. This book is a must read for anyone in an abusive marriage seeking spiritual guidance. Solid, Christlike interpretation of scripture will offer much needed inspiration and encouragement.

To order in the US: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

To order in the UK: Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

I also spoke with people in the church about what was going on and the response was always to pray about it and try to be more "submissive". During this time I slipped further and further into depression, often feeling suicidal, and also shared this with people in the church. Again, they just prayed, and said God would work it out. This was another area where he was abusive, spiritually, often saying 'Why would God answer you? Look at you! You're so horrible, God wouldn't talk to you. You're in sin and God won't bless you. He blesses and uses me all the time.' For some time this destroyed my faith and relationship with God to the point where I stopped praying or trying. I started to believe that God saw me this way and that I must deserve his (my husband) abuse since I'm a "bad person". Read more ...
The Christian woman whose spirit is being crushed by domestic violence is faced with a unique burden. She needs straight answers - not unrealistic expectations or stereotypical platitudes. "Woman Submit!" by Jocelyn Andersen provides straight answers and clear scriptural direction.

To order in the US: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence (also available for Kindle)

To order in the UK: Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence




UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247

Recommended Reading:

When is divorce biblically permissible and when is it forbidden? And is remarriage ever permissible for a divorced Christian? The problem is particularly intense for Christian victims of marital abuse, who often believe they must choose between two unpleasant alternatives: endure abuse, or face condemnation by God and his church for disobeying the bible.

To order in the US: Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

To order in the UK: Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

No Place for Abuse demonstrates that the problem of domestic violence in the church is more pervasive than most Christians would like to believe. Nancy Nason-Clark, a trained sociologist, and Catherine Clark Kroeger, a biblical scholar, confront the issue with both objectivity and compassion. The authors give practical tools to pastors and other counselors for interviewing abuse victims and perpetrators and offer alternatives victims may consider instead of continuing to endure a threatening environment. Another valuable contribution the authors make is their caution against the misrepresentation of Scripture in ways that fail to protect abuse victims. This thought-provoking book has the potential to open the eyes of many believers who don't understand the prevalence of violence in many evangelical homes. It will be particularly useful to pastors and counselors, but will offer guidance to any Christian who has encountered such situations.

To order in the US: No Place for Abuse: Biblical & Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence

To order in the UK: No Place for Abuse

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