Abused Christian Wives, It Is Not Your Fault and You Don’t Deserve It.

It is not a sin to protect yourself and your children from harm. Even harm which comes from your husband’s hand

We should not only be aware of the problem of domestic violence, we should also care so deeply about those members of the Body who have been, or who are being harmed by an abuser, that we actually feel their pain, and will do everything in our power to help them…but so often we just say, “but that’s none of my business”, or worse, we side with the abuser. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, that we are all members of one Body and if one member hurts, we all hurt.

 

Abuse is not something we like to talk about. It doesn’t make us feel good.  It is something that sometimes we would rather just pretend does not happen. But sometimes we need to look at the ugliness of it, in order to do something about it.

October 19-23, 2015 is Domestic Violence Awareness Week.

So we should look at it.

It is a huge topic, covering many things, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on domestic abuse in the Church, particularly that perpetrated by men against their wives.

In the setting of the Church, allegations of abuse can sadly be dismissed as an overly sensitive wife, or as coming from a wife who simply refuses to submit to her husband’s headship. Or perhaps we think that the wife must have done something to set him off. Or maybe we do care, but we just give thoughtless pat answers, and we prescribe Ephesians 5 and say, “You should submit…” If you dispense such advice to the abused, be careful, you may be well meaning, but you may also be aiding an abuser in destroying her.

Some, including men I admire like John Piper, would argue that the abused Christian wife should endure the abuse for a time as per Matthew 5:39. It is true that as Christians we are called to endure suffering for Christ’s sake. But on this point, I believe that John Piper is wrong.

Let me ask this question? Who determines how long the victim should endure? You? Me? John Piper? The local Church?

Let me ask, is 5 years long enough?

10 years?

15?

Consider how long most couples are together before abuse is revealed…at what point would you say that her season of enduring is of a sufficient length? Do you want the victim to begin a new season of enduring after the abuse is revealed?

I should hope not.

To those given charge over the sheep, the pastors and elders – I am not an elder.  I cannot claim to know the pressures you face when dealing with these situations.  I know you are striving to be biblical and do all things to the glory of God and out of love for the Church, but please, please, please, never demand that an abused spouse return to an abusive situation before you will counsel them. And please don’t ask if the abused Christian wife has followed Matthew 18. That is just foolishness. The shepherd’s job is to protect the weak sheep, not to send them back to be devoured by the wolf. As I have written elsewhere, Matthew 18 does not always apply. It certainly no longer applies in an abuse situation, for the simple fact that an abuser is not a Christian, even if he is a member of the church.

Read More