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Intersection of Life and Faith

Abuse is not God's will

  • 2000 12 Jan
Abuse is not God's will
This is the second of a two-part article on domestic abuse. Read part one in the Managing Life archives of Live It!

The American Medical Association declared domestic violence against women to be a national epidemic. Abuse in the home is the leading source of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 44. Sadly, the statistics for abuse are the same in Christian as in non-Christian households. Physical domestic abuse is commonly cited, but other types of abuse - equally devastating - include emotional and verbal abuse. Although the statistics cite women as the primary victims, men, too, can be victims of domestic abuse.

  • Intimidation is making someone timid, fearful, or frightened so that they are compelled or controlled by threats. If you are afraid your husband will let you have it if you do something wrong, you are abused. The something wrong could be as simple as not picking up the shirts from the laundry, not getting home when you said you would, or buying a new book. Your action is not the problem; it just gives an abusive husband justification for the abuse he was going to heap on you anyway. When you live in genuine fear of making a mistake, you're suffering emotional abuse.

  • Humiliation is lowering a person in someone else's eyes to mortify or abuse them. Some men humiliate their wife's clothes or appearance. There's always a comment designed to make one person feel inadequate. Constant put-downs, insults, and derogatory statements can wear women down to the point where they lose all feelings of worth or sense of identity. The one who takes sadistic joy in humiliating others is an insecure person who feels that by belittling others he will feel better about himself. Humiliation of others is verbal abuse.

  • Deprivation is withholding something from another that she or he needs or deserves. In the extreme, it's to withhold something until a person is too weak to fight for her/his rights. Willful deprivation is abuse.

  • Isolation is the act of separating a person from others. A subtle but serious form of nonviolent abuse is isolating the wife and family from normal social relationships. Sometimes it's physical: moving the family to a remote area where there are few or no other people. Homes often lack even the basic amenities of life and leave wives too ashamed to have friends in for coffee. Often there is no phone and no car. Isolation, whether physical or emotional, can be abuse.

Why women stay in abusive situations:

  • No choice. I have no options, no place to go, no one who cares, no money. I might as well grin and bear it.

  • Religious reasons. As a Christian I must stay in the marriage and hope for rewards in heaven. I'm committed to obedience.

  • Children. I'll take the abuse for the sake of the children. They need a stable home life and I can't disrupt that.

  • Finances. I can't support myself and the children. I need his income to live. I'll just keep quiet and keep going.

  • Wifely duty. I was taught that sex was what I had to do even though he's abusive. It's my cross to bear.

  • Social status. Without his name, I'd be nobody. I'd be out of the country club and ostracized by his friends.

  • The comfort zone. It's easier to stay here where we're all settled than to uproot everyone. I guess I can stand it a little longer.

Women must realize that they do not deserve to be abused and mistreated. Woman is the glory of the man, (1 Cor. 11:7) not a doormat, a victim, or a possession.

  • So many Christian women are convinced that being submissive includes accepting any kind of abuse forever. When they are suffering, many are afraid to go to their pastors for fear they won't be believed, or they expect that the pastor will look down on them when he hears of their abuse. Many women, because of their victimization, are especially afraid of an authority figure. It is imperative to tell someone about your abuse.

  • Some Christian women don't take action because they feel that if they prayed hard enough the situation would change. Abuse is a serious problem that needs professional intervention to cause change. Let God use other people to remedy your situation.

  • Too many women in abusive situations have been told that it is their Christian duty to hang in there and suffer as a Christian, that it is their role to be faithful and willing to endure some hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, says Isaac Black, pastor, professor, and author of Assault on God's Image.

  • Some women feel abuse is the poorer part of their vow for richer or poorer. Some have been told that the more they suffer on earth the greater their reward will be in heaven. But God doesn't call women to submit to abuse of any kind. We must be compassionately understanding of women in trouble of this kind, helping them find knowledgeable and caring counselors. Scripture urges us to warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and be patient with everyone (1 Thess. 5:14).

From Taking Charge of Your Life by Florence Littauer. Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. Copyright (c) 1994, 1999 by Florence Littauer. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company.

Florence Littauer is a popular speaker and the author of more than 25 books, including Personality Plus. She and her husband, Fred, have been married for more than 45 years and speak frequently at retreats and leadership seminars.