“Do SOMETHING to help me!!!” That is an outcry of many that are wounded because of the domestic violence they are suffering from within their homes. They reach out for help, and no one is there to give a supportive and empowering hand.
The whole issue of domestic violence and abuse is something that needs to be addressed. This is particularly true within the Christian body. It just isn’t being dealt with as openly as it should be. I believe that’s one reason why so many victims are crying alone within their homes and aren’t seeking the help they need. This is a darkness that needs to be exposed to the Light.
Part of the reason I know this is because it’s so difficult to find articles and Christian literature on this subject. Because of the work within Marriage Missions, we are continually looking for resources to help those who reach out to us. And in my search, I’ve found very little.
Ignoring God’s Leading
I know that in Christ, God is transforming us into His image. But I also know that many people ignore the Lord’s leading, counsel and empowerment. They end up instead doing what they want to do despite the power available to them to do otherwise. Tragically, abuse is not absent from the church. It SHOULD be, but it is not. People gravitate to sin and embrace it, rather than embracing the good that God has for us instead.
So, on this subject of domestic violence I have come across some articles that may be able to help you and your church fight AGAINST domestic violence instead of turning a deaf ear or a blind eye to it. If you are already doing something, maybe this article will help you all the more.
I recommend that you click into the following Hidden Hurt.co.uk article to learn what the Bible says about abuse and violence in the home. It also goes into what it calls the church to do about it as well. Please read:
• THE BIBLE ON ABUSE AND VIOLENCE
In my studies on this subject, I came upon a blog that deals with the subject of abuse against women. But it needs to be said that many men also suffer from abuse. It’s just not looked at in the same way, which is wrong. Abuse is abuse, whether it’s a man slapping a woman or a woman slapping a man.
But this particular blog addresses women (although many of these principles can be applied to a man’s abusive situation). Below I will supply a link so you can read it in its entirety. But before I do, there are a few parts of this blog that I’d like to point out because I think they are especially noteworthy. April Gilford gives the following insight:
“I understand Christian marriage to be a covenant whereby two people affirm before God their commitment to love, to respect, and to cherish one another in all of life’s circumstances. With God’s help, the couple promises to love another just as God loves us. Domestic violence is a violation of this covenant. It should not be tolerated in a Christian marriage. It is the role of the church to provide a safe and loving environment for the victim of the abuse. There should be help the abuser to see the wrong in his/her actions and to seek repentance and help for what he/she has done.”
Silent Too Long
I believe for too long, the church has closed its eyes or looked the other way concerning domestic violence. This takes away the “safe and loving environment” that should be contained within the covenant of marriage.
It reminds me of the parable Jesus taught of the Good Samaritan (in Luke 10). Even the religious leader, who should have known better and shown the most mercy, ignored the person needing help. Jesus pointed out that the Samaritan who stopped was more of a “neighbor” who was doing good than anyone else. This would include the religious leader. He said to the person (and all of us), “Go and do likewise” in referring to giving help to others who need it.
As a church, we simply can’t keep looking the other way because we don’t know what to do with the situation of violence in the home. We may not know NOW what to do, but we need to make it our business to find out. We also need to pro-actively minister to those who need help. Marriage is a sacred commitment of love and faith and mutual caring for one another. And when one partner is violating another in such horrendous ways, we as a body of Believers, need to help in whatever way we can, to cause the violence to stop.
To help in this mission:
Please read the following articles posted on the Crosswalk.com web site. I believe it will help your church to reach out to those who are suffering in abusive situations. I also hope that your church will talk about this issue from the pulpit. It’s important that what is being done in darkness, will be exposed to the Light. That way it can be properly dealt with.
The first article deals with Pastors and reasons why they and their church members often shut their eyes to violence in the home. It doesn’t justify this. It just gives a fuller perspective on reasons WHY this could be happening.
Please click onto the following article written by John Shore to read:
• WHY PASTORS STRUGGLE WITH CONFRONTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Please read the following Crosswalk.com articles. They could help you if your pastor and/or church members want to get involved in dealing with violence in the home:
• HOW CHURCHES CAN HELP VICTIMS OF ABUSE
• WHAT CHURCHES CAN DO TO ADDRESS DOMESTIC ABUSE
The following article posted on the Eagles Wings Global Ministry web site can help inform you as well:
• DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE CHURCH
Another article to read is written by Tiffany Sanders. She points out that although a woman Biblically is to submit to her husband, Peter and the Apostles pointed out in Acts 5:29 how there exceptions to following man’s ways if they violate the greater picture of God’s will. It says “We must obey God rather than men!”
Tiffany writes something that many people look past when it comes to domestic violence:
“A woman must not, then, risk her life or serious injury in submission to her husband. It violates a higher duty to protect human life and welfare. It also cooperates in her husband’s sin. Many ministers, in fact, agree up to this point. Many agree that a woman must flee to protect herself, but must “return and submit” when the danger has passed.”
Tiffany goes on to point something out that we really need to note if we are going to help the victim remain as “safe” as possible. She writes:
“When, Exactly, Has the Danger ‘Passed’?
This ignores a fundamental reality of domestic violence: the danger does not pass. A woman who calls the police for help in a moment of crisis can usually expect to pay for that call when she returns home. It could be an hour, a day, or a week later. The dynamic of an abusive relationship is one in which there is never a moment of safety. Even the most careful, most observant, most vigilant of victims can be blindsided at any moment.
Something she does inadvertently might be the trigger. Something that happened outside and she doesn’t know about might be the trigger. Also, something her husband imagined might be the trigger. The moment when it’s ‘safe’ to ‘return and submit’, if it comes at all, comes after long hard work with a minister or counselor or anger management program.
“It’s clear that a woman has not only a right but an obligation to protect herself from physical harm, and that protecting herself requires more than simply getting out of the house for an hour to let her husband cool down.”
The point I want you to understand here is that domestic violence does not have a “one size fits all” solution. Sometimes leaving is the best way to protect oneself from further violence. But other times it will just increase the resolve of the abuser to find and hurt them even more. Sometimes, getting through the situation so the victim can come up with a plan for the future is a better way. It’s a very difficult thing in which to be involved.
Please don’t counsel abuse victims to do things one way that makes immediate sense to you. Be prayerful and careful in your advice, giving them many options that they can use and then helping her or him to discern which would work best for the dynamics of their situation.
The important thing is to realize that abuse must be stopped. No one deserves abuse. And if God wants to use us in some way to help in stopping the violence, then we must have our ears and eyes and minds open to His leading.
More to Read
In the blogging article I refer to, Tiffany then goes beyond this to explain more about abuse against wives, which you really should read. You may or may not agree with all she says. And some of you may even judge what she says because of some doctrinal stands she makes for her religion which you may not hold.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees. While you may agree whole-heartedly, or disagree on certain points for whatever reason, the bigger picture is that domestic violence outside of the church and within the church needs to be addressed. People are dying here. They’re dying physically and also spiritually because as we turn a deaf ear and/or we look the other way, the compassion that is to be so evident within us as Followers of Christ, is no longer being seen.
God wants to work in us and through us to help others to know Him better. He wants to use us to poke holes in the darkness that surrounds peoples lives. And this is one of those areas of darkness that I believe He wants to use us. This is so that sin is exposed to His light for cleansing and healing.
Each one of us may not be able to do a lot to address this issue to help those who are being violated by domestic abuse. But if each one of us does something —it can be like a mighty rushing water. Each drop combined with others contributes something to moving this terrible situation into one in which God’s mercy can wash away the debris. It can then be better seen and dealt with, within the church body.
To help in this cause, we are going to give links to articles we hope you will prayerfully and carefully read —both for your own education, but also to see if while you are praying, you can visualize how God can use you to help fight AGAINST domestic violence. We pray this will make a difference.
The following articles can be found on the Crosswalk.com web site that may be enlightening to read:
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Abuse in Marriage
29 responses to “You and Your Church Can Fight Against Domestic Violence”
(ZAMBIA) I just saw LT’s comment and feel so saddened that her situation ended up in her marriage being dissolved. I used to read her comments from time to time and at some point I just lost her. LT, wherever you are know that there are some sisters thinking of you.
I think you will remember that I had struggled to forgive my husband who had sex with my housekeeper. And due to his unfaithfulness, I pretended to be involved with someone (which was a stupid thing to do as nothing happened with that man). I realised my mistake when my husband had heard I had been with a man.
With time, quarrels started all over again and my husband unjustly labeled me as an unfaithful wife. He, the actual unfaithful husband overlooked his own sin to focus on my mistake (one mistake).
He went around telling people how unfaithful I was and most of my friends have shunned me. We are on separation… our divorce is pending. It’s sad really. I hope whatever situation you are in, God will see you through.
(USA) Hello, after reading this article, I feel the need to let everyone know about my website, http://spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org.
It is true that many Christian leaders are ill-equipped to deal with violence and abuse amongst their members. However, I was blessed to belong to a congregation of church leadership that believe me, and helped me to leave the situation. It is rare to find help from a spiritual/biblical perspective.
I grew up with domestic violence, watching my mother being abused for many years. Many of her friends were in violent relationships, and it seemed that the violence was in every household that touched our lives. I lost a brother at the age of 27 due to domestic violence, and this evil has touched my life in so many ways.
I give God the glory and honor for equipping me to write about it, and share His Word concerning domestic violence and abuse. Please stop by my website, and learn more about the spiritual side.
God bless you all. Terry http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org (please sign my Guest Book)
(ZAMBIA) In my country, plans are underway to use the church to address domestic violence. It has been difficult for abused women to seek help from the courts because the church has been labelling such women not to be forgiving.
(UNITED STATES) Thank you for your website! It’s very unfortunate to see that in many churches we have this problem and no one is doing anything about it. I know in my church our pastors are extremely awesome and are able to counsel through to many woman and help them through the process along with their husbands. Many of the men though, refuse to be counseled and the woman has to do it alone. It is sad when the woman has to leave the home because the abuse gets to be too much. I know God has the power to transform, but the man needs to be willing to change.
Dear Shakira, You sound like a wise woman with a very good church. We hope that more churches will bring this issue out into the light and help those who are being abused –both women and men. That is another issue that also needs to be addressed, because many women are abusing their husbands — verbally, emotionally, and/or physically. All victims need the support and help of the church in addressing their needs (and the abusers, too, if they will own up to what they have been doing and are reaching out for help to stop it). Thank you for sharing and letting us know your church “gets it.”
(USA) I will share my story of the 6 yrs: I attempted to get my 3 girls and I safe as I confronted the abuse. I sought help, support, and 4 churches later, because of the lack of accountability, it has led to my 2 children being taken away from me, and my oldest daughter and I to try to find a way to enforce our right to even talk to them on the phone.
To try to simplify a my long 17 year battle of emotional and spiritual abuse…that I was not even aware of until 6 years ago, the reason that I was crying daily and feeling helpless so often, praying almost constantly to keep from losing it, I started to realize I was not provoking my husband to treat me with his intimidation. I went to a safe house, against my church’ counsel, because they told me to go home and pray harder.
After 4 churches doing this but in many different ways as they told him behind my back that I was not submitting…I then understood why the d.v. counselors/advocates tell you NOT to attend any counseling with them. Not until praying that God would relieve me and our 3 daughters from this horrible environment of false accusation and contempt, instead of worrying about him or how the church in error veiwed me..I had only believed before that that I should pray for our marriage to work..so that we would not have to seperate again for another cycle of abuse. So, I prayed that God would show me if there was another way out. I divorced him. He married my daughter’s youth pastor within 2 months, and took them to another state. I’ve tried to get them…I haven’t seen my 2 girls in 8 months and I’m having to act as my own Attorney in a few weeks…please pray for us…we are all so devastated!
(UK) Hi, This is so like my own story. Married for 19 years to an abusive partner. When he was finally arrested for threatening to kill me some years ago, my minister took him in, and told me to try again. I had to pray harder! I confided in someone at a Church Conference, and her husband confronted me and told me that I had to forgive him. I finally took the courage to leave him two years ago and the Church ostracized me and continued to support him.
I then met an elder of the Church we attended when my husband was arrested. She said that it was wonderful that my faith was so stong that I stayed in my marriage despite being beaten. I was devastated. The minister had obvoiusly leaked out my problems. My husband then attacked my child and myself in my own home. I called the police. He lied and told them I attacked him. My children were given to him as I was apparently over reacting and could have mental problems (since disapproved) and yet another church is supporting him.
I cannot walk into a church. I still read my Bible and pray, but I feel I cannot trust anymore. So much more needs to be done to understand DV and the type of popular people that are the perpetrators. With love to anyone who is either going through or been through this awful situation.
(USA) I am so sorry. It is horrible how the church continually supports the abuser in family situations. Men do not give men accountability in churches. And since most abusers are sociopathic, they can and will manipulate anybody, and of course church pastors are an easy target for them. Abusers feel better about themselves when they find any amount of support or empathy for themselves. They are even happy if the counselor says it’s BOTH your fault, because even then HE does not have to take ay responsibility.
AS far as family courts goes, it’s even more of a disgrace. They are so bent on equal rights for parents they do not even let a parent protect their own child. They also, across the board, are so ignorant about the dynamics of spousal abuse and how abusers operate. If it weren’t for abuser I believe a lot, or most family court players and attorneys would be out of a job. Family courts across the world do not support or protect women and their children when trying to divorce from abuse. The kids are the abusers number one tool to control their partner, that and finances, threats etc. Courts overlook the protective parents concern and truly insist that once YOU leave him then your kids and yourself are safe!!!
The two things that perpeturate domestic abuse are the church and family courts, they both out of ignorance put women and children in the same double binds, which in effect is abusing them all over again. It just makes me heart broke and sick.
(USA) I pray for all who are in situations where they are being physically, mentally and emotionally abused. I too was once in their shoes. I humble myself and ask forgiveness for all the leaders including Pastors whose words may have been “I don’t want to get involved”. I too felt guilt and shame when I was forced, for fear of losing my life or the life of my child, to leave my home. But I will tell you this that God does not and would never want us to stay in a situation where we might be in danger. I think we forget at times that God has created each one of us with free will and although we may be submitted to God our partners may not be.
And it is because of this that we only have control of our own lives and that God will never force anyone to do what is right if they do not want to. That is why not everyone will be saved. I say this to men who are victims also of domestic violence. God loves you, he wants you to be safe and not an enabler. There are times that we do not say anything for fear of what retribution may come but we are not helping our partners by doing that because they will never get the help they need. My ex-husband was forced by authorities to attend anger management class and probably a bunch more of others. I have since remarried, my husband is a Godly man and God saved the best for last. I pray for God’s mercy on us all!!
I just want to take a moment to thank you both for providing this information. I have been in an abusive relationship and been at a loss to understand it. I have reached out for help within the church, christian friends as well and all I get is words that they will be a support but no follow through. There has been no reaching out to my husband in the way described in effort to call him to repentance. No offer of support to myself and my daughter in any way. I have lost my home and all of my belongings do to the affects alcoholism and abuse. I am weary and at a loss as to what to do. I have been separated from my husband so we are safe, thankfully.
I love my husband and he claims to want to stop being verbally abusive, however, words are all I receive from him and Christians alike. I call out to God and have yet to see His hand at work. I’m very heart broken an discouraged from the lack of support. This information has greatly helped me to gain an understanding and direction though. So thank you for that! I do trust that God is always by my side and He will guide me. I believe that all things will work together for good. God is a good God and I will never be forsaken. I covet your prayers for our family and for the church as a whole.
Oh Tara, I am so sorry that you find yourself in this place. I’m so glad that you are in a safe place now though. I know that some abusers (some are men, and some are women) are able to change, but it is a very difficult thing to do. Please read all that we have in this topic of Abuse in Marriage because you will see testimonies, and helpful articles, plus other web sites you can go to so you can find out more.
You’re right about not being able to find help in most churches. Frankly, they don’t know what to do with abuse issues. It’s a tough, tough issue, as you very well know, and people are at a loss to know what to say. They care but they don’t feel that they are qualified to give advice because most of them have not dealt with those types of issues. As a result, they look the other way, hoping it will go away and they won’t have to address it.
Please know that I am praying for you and so is Steve. Make sure you post a prayer request on the Prayer Wall on the Home Page because we have prayer warriors who pray for those requests, as well.
If you can convince your husband, try to find mentors that will help you. If he truly does want to stop being verbally abusive, then he will reach out for help. It will be embarrassing and humiliating to him, but he has to realize that he has dished it out, so in order to stop it, he has to allow himself to be humble and do what it takes to break this horrible pattern of abusing you and anyone else who is exposed to this abuse. Claiming you want to change and submitting yourself to do what it takes to change are two different steps. Change comes from employing both steps.
Tara, I’m sure there are some things that you will have to change in the process if he is willing to work with you. But he has to do the main changing. This is NOT your fault. No one deserves abuse–no matter what. You did not deserve this and your daughter does not deserve to be a part of this in any way, shape or form. Stay safe, study, reach out whenever you can (when you sense there is safety in doing so), especially draw near to God, pray, and be open to working with your husband on this, but don’t put yourself in a place of being abused again. You are not his verbal whipping gal. He has to do some changing of ACTIONS beyond promises by reaching out for help himself before you can trust him to be a part of the healing process. And THEN you can go from there. I hope this helps. My heart and my prayers are with you.