Domestic Abuse in the Church

It is a sad commentary to read about the occurrence of domestic abuse, anytime and anywhere! However, to learn that domestic abuse also occurs in the church, is quite disturbing! After all, the word of God explicitly teaches concerning the relationship between  husband and wife! Ephesians 5:21-25 says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so that the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. Verses 28 and 29, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. Husbands are supposed to love and cherish their wives, even as Christ loved the church. If this was the case, would  there be domestic abuse within a marriage? I think not!

Is it necessary to go through a 12 step program in order to overcome this egregious behavior? I would say no. If an individual is truly wanting to please the Lord in all of their ways, God can deliver them from any unholy act, desire, or bondage! It is necessary to remove the mask, and to confess the sin that so easily besets you!

In the article, Towards an Effective Church Response to Domestic Abuse, it explains the attempts to raise  awareness of this occurrence, in and out of the church. One of the initiatives is called, “First Man Standing”. This initiative challenges men to openly speak out against domestic abuse, in any public forum they are in, at any given time. To read the article in its entirety, click on the title of the article. Hopefully, someone who reads this article, will be willing to be the “First Man Standing”.  Feel free to leave a comment.


3 comments on “Domestic Abuse in the Church

  1. Paulette, this is one the most quoted scripture passages in conservative churches but unfortunately, not usually for the right reason. I find that most men are ignorant of true leadership (even outside marriage), and by default either dominate their wife or cow down to her. Neither one is scripturally acceptable. Leadership means, “In the best interest of us as one, I lead the way for both of us; follow me.”

    However, upon assuming office even the president of the United States (or other country) immediately sets up a trustworthy group of competent advisors (a man’s wife). Rarely does a leader make autonomous decisions, bypassing valuable counsel. When he does decide to make the decision on his own, it involves a major issue where he alone must make the judgment call – all eyes are on him and he bears the brunt of consequence should that decision be in error.

    Also, I find that most women are ignorant of true submission. By default, they either vie for control over their husband or step into the background, forcing him to carry the full burden of leadership without her. Neither approach is scripturally acceptable. Whatever the arena (marriage, business, service to one’s country, our relationship with God), submission means, “Through an act of my will, I will accept your will as my own. I will learn of it and use my God-given abilities to help strengthen it. I will do this because I have something valuable to offer your leadership; wise counsel, vested interest in your well-being, respect, and in the case of marriage, also comfort.

    Leadership means lead, not dominate and abuse. Submission means submit to leadership, not throw one’s will out the window and become a pushover. It takes weakness to dominate or cow down. It takes weakness to vie for unnatural control and refuse to participate. It takes strength on the part of both husband and wife to live out our God-designed marital roles. However, without wholehearted submission to Christ (the husband of the Church) no can expect not to get it wrong most of the time.
    I will say that abuse is not necessarily physical. A man is abusive toward his wife when he tramples on her spirit, or forces her to lead instead of him. A woman is abusive toward her husband when she continually rejects his will, or forces him to lead without her participation.

    Child abuse is also prevalent within the church, including, inside the homes of pastors and missionaries.

    I went to high school with a girl whose father (a missionary to Japan) continually abused her terribly, and it really messed her up; she was angry and bitter 24-7.  Also, when I was a young boy, my mother used to drive children to school.  I will never forget the day when one normally giggly little girl got into the back seat next to me, crying.  I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what.  Only later did I find out that her father had sexually abused her.  Looking back, I believe that morning was her first time.  She wasn’t the only one; he had sex with her older sisters for many years before she came along.  Years later, this man became a pastor in northern Michigan.  He sexually abused the young children of that church, all the while preaching scripture from the pulpit as if nothing had ever happened.

    The terrible part about this whole abuse issue is that if you or I were to meet those men face to face in church, we would never guess that these men took the innocence of their own daughters.  People need to hear this stuff – church members more than anyone.  Pastors and missionaries abuse their children, and so do many others within the church.

    Years ago, I dated a girl whose male friend raped her.  That encounter literally killed her on the inside, and to my knowledge she has never recovered.  These are just a few examples of abuse victims I know personally.

    Paulette, many of these abuse victims (male or female) interact with us every day but are too ashamed to tell anyone.  It usually takes a major headline, or an article like yours, to make them feel safe enough to seek help (often years after the abuse stopped).

    Thank you for this post, Paulette.

  2. Hello Todd,

    Thank you so much for sharing, from a man’s point of view! Yes, we the body of Christ, must bring our wills into submission to Christ, who is the head of the church. We the church, must be subject unto Christ, who loved us so much, that He gave Himself for us!

    Husbands are to love their wives, even as Christ also loved the church! As you said, this Scripture is often quoted in the church, but are men truly the leaders they have been called and designed to be in the church, in the home, and as husbands? I agree that this Scripture can sometimes be misinterpreted, as well as the words submission and leadership. It is often stated, that “behind” every great man is a great woman. I say “beside” every great man, is a great woman! God created woman, from the rib of Adam, from his side.

    I am so sorry that your friends were abused! Like your friend, many who have been abused, never recover fom the occurrence! However, for those who have gone through such a terrible experience, only the Lord Jesus can deliver them from the pain and embarrassment that they may have hidden from others, sometimes for years! What true friend do we have but Jesus?

    Thank you again, for your most compelling comments. May God bless you, richly!


    • Thanks Paulette, I like your statement about great men and great women better than the traditional:  “Beside every great man is a great woman.”  I feel pleased through and through just reading this.  This is how I have always felt about marriage, and I believe that your version is what God had in mind when he designed marriage.  I really appreciate your dedication to seeing things the way they really are, Paulette.  Thank you.

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