Read Ephesians 5:25-33.
Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time set aside to bring awareness to the problem of violence committed by one partner against another. The violence might be physical but it always includes emotionally controlling behaviors. Sometimes the violent partner does not resort to physical violence because he can control his partner through emotional manipulation and violence. The relationship can be a marriage or just dating. The dynamics are the same.
Churches should create an environment where domestic violence victims can find help, safety and support. But some common ideas create an environment that encourages abuse.
Sometimes people do not want to acknowledge that someone they have known for so long, who is in their family or community, could do that. Chaplain Al Miles shares a story about a pastor who told a wife who had come to him for help that she must be exaggerating the abuse. The pastor’s response was “I can’t believe it. He wouldn’t hurt a flea. He’s such a great guy.” Domestic violence is not limited to alcoholics or any particular race or class. We must not dismiss the stories of women who report abuse.
In some churches, the Bible is interpreted in such a way that male abusers use its words to support their abuse. Some people seem to think that the Bible gives husbands the right to treat their wives any way they want to. This is not biblical. Even the most conservative readings of these passages emphasize the husband’s responsibility to care for his wife in a loving way.
We also refuse to acknowledge the reality of abuse when we suggest that it is a personal family issue and we don’t want to interfere. The sacredness of family and the right to privacy within families is important, but it does not extend to ignoring abuse. No husband has the right to beat, restrain or rape his wife. No husband has the right to verbally abuse his wife, shame her through hateful name-calling or belittle her. No husband has the right to control his wife’s friends, her movements or her access to other family members. Such actions do not show the love the Christ.
Unfortunately, women are often told either explicitly or by innuendo that they are responsible for their husband’s abusive behavior. In some cases, pastors or Christian counselors have told women that if they will just pray and be a better wife, then their husband will not hit them anymore. That is wrong! The abuser must take responsibility for his behavior. Whether a wife is a “good wife” or not is no excuse.
It’s not surprising that we are uncomfortable dealing with domestic violence and abuse. It’s a scary and discomforting problem. But we must not walk away. Jesus’ church needs to be a place where hurting people can find support and help.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC