Note: for a printable, illustrated version of this article, click here: Scriptures for women experiencing domestic violence
COLOSSIANS 3:19 – “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.”
– This is an edict from God.
1 JOHN 2:4 – “Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him’, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist“- If a husband says he is a Christian, but is in the habit of treating you harshly, then he is a liar and he is not of God. You are not going crazy. Your perception is correct.
2 TIMOTHY 3:1-5 – “You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! “ – Pastors should NOT be shocked when they hear of one of their congregation utilising brutal behaviour against a loved one. It was predicted in the Scriptures. As a victim, you deserve to be believed. You deserve to expect that your Pastor will do what he needs to to facilitate your safety, and to hold your abuser accountable. You have NOT caused his behaviour. You abuser has chosen to ignore God and behave the way he does. There is no excuse for abuse. Abuse is a choice. You did not cause it. You have God’s permission to make youself safe. Indeed, God demands that you make yourself and your children safe!
GENESIS 3:16 – “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” – This is NOT an edict from God giving men permission to rule over women, as many churches incorrectly teach, but describes how some men will choose to behave now that sin has come into the world! – This informs us that because of sin, men, if they choose to do so, will turn away from God and behave cruelly to women and children AND want to rule over them. This is NOT a biblical model of marriage
MATTHEW 18:10 – Pastors who only focus on the aspect of Divorce are being negligent. They need to focus on the safety of the women and children as a primary concern. God tells us all the way through the Bible for the Church to “look after the widows and orphans.”
A man who has separated himself from God by his abusive behaviour has essentially abandoned his family.
MATTHEW 18:6 – “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Children will most likely get a false sense of what it is to be a father if they are currently experiencing an abusive father. Children, may see God, their Heavenly Father as someone who wants to harm them and their mother, just as they are sometimes in fear of their earthly father, or step-father. By being told by your Pastor to stay in an abusive marriage, you may believe this is what you are supposed to do, but at the same time feel that God has abandoned you to abuse. This is a true stumbling block. Know that God values the sanctity of the family home as a safe place. Indeed, unless it is a safe place then it cannot be called a “home.” God is VERY angry with anyone who breaks the sanctity of the family home.
JAMES 3:1 – Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. – James 3:1 tells us of the awesome responsibility of Pastors to be knowledgeable about what they are doing and what they are dealing with. Pastors who tell abused women to go back to their abusive husbands, are only focusing on the aspect of divorce. They are not focusing on safety and accountability as Jesus did when the Pharisees brought the woman who was caught in adultery to him. Jesus kept the woman safe, recognising that she had been used sexually, and he held the Pharisees accountable, for their abusive behaviour. Pastors, by telling a woman to go back into an unsafe situation are not only putting the woman and her children’s lives at risk, but are actually a criminal accomplice, with the husband, to the illegal act of abuse.
EPHESIANS 5:22,23 – “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church,” – Pastors too often teach this to mean that the husband can have Authoritarian rule over his wife, as we have already read in Genesis 1:3. But we have already learned that a man only treats a woman like this when he has succumbed to sin. A Godly man is meant to be gentle and loving. So what does this mean. Well the Bible ALWAYS explains itself. In another Scripture Jesus tells us how he expects a husband to be “Lord” of his wife. We read in: –
JOHN 13:12-14 – “ After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – The Lordship model that Jesus gives is when he washed his disciples’ feet. He told the disciples to do likewise. He demonstrated that a husband is to put the needs of his wife and children first. Does your husband put your emotional, physical, and psychological needs of you and your children above his own? Now let’s look at another Scripture to shed even more light on what ‘submit’ is.
EPHESIANS 5:21 – “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – If we go back one verse to EPHESIANS 5:21 we read that all children of God are to submit ourselves one to another. Have you read this verse before? Did you know that your husband is also to submit to you as you are to him? “Submit” in the Biblical Greek means to “respect and honour” – do you feel respected and honoured?
1 CORINTHIANS 7:15 – “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.” – Because of the abuse, your husband has separated himself from you and from God. You are no longer bound to stay with him. It is not you that is leaving the marriage, but your husband who has separated himself from God. To stay with him will be to facilitate his abusive, sinful behaviour. By you making yourself and your children safe, may be your husband’s last chance to get himself right with God. To stay, will ensure that he will continue to abuse and he will be lost for sure.
The Scriptures also tell us that if an unbeliever leaves you, then you are free. By his abusive behaviour he has already separated himself from God and you. You are simply claiming safety and the renewed sanctity of the family home.
If the church tells you you have to Forgive and reconcile remember: –
Forgiveness does not mean that negative consequences are removed for the abuser.
Forgiveness does not mean that we have to reconcile with the abuser.
Forgiveness does not mean that we are expected to trust again.
In Numbers 14:20-23, God declares that he will forgive the Israelites for their rebellion, but not one of the adults will enter the land he had promised them. There are permanent consequences.
In the same way, when a man abuses a woman and his children, it may never be safe for her to return to him
To “Forgive” in Greek, is to “let go.” Before an abused woman can ‘let go’ of a debt, we need to know exactly what it is we are ‘letting go.’ It can take years for a victim to discover just how much harm has been done to her and her children. God understands this. Just a willingness to put the process of Healing and Forgiveness in the hands of God is enough for a woman to continue to receive forgiveness for her sins. It is not her job to FIX the marriage and to make everything look clean and tidy again for the Pastor and the congregation. It is the abuser’s job to choose to stop doing harm and to stay separate from her while he gets help. She just needs to be allowed to live in safety.
For more on Forgiveness see this article.