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:
In a similar way, 'wrath' or anger is condemned as being sinful, as is sexual abuse:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!):
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:
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:
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.
Where not otherwise stated, all quotations have been taken from the
King James Version of the Bible.
In This Section:
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
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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 UK: No Place for Abuse
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