Domestic violence is a serious issue in our American society. Sadly, it is also present in the church.
According to domesticviolence.org, “domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other.” Examples of abuse include: name calling and putdowns (How many times have Christians done this?), keeping a partner from contacting their family and friends, withholding money, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, stalking and intimidation.
The statistics regarding domestic violence are startling. According to domesticviolencestatistics.org:
*A woman is assaulted or beaten in the US every 9 seconds.
*Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
*Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic abuse annually.
*Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone -the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
*Men who witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives as sons of nonviolent parents.
Tragically, studies reveal that spousal abuse is just as common within the evangelical churches as anywhere else. This means that about 25 percent of Christian homes witness abuse of some kind. Unfortunately, domestic abuse is often dismissed within the church for two main reasons: 1) It’s hard for church members to imagine that Brother or Sister X would do such a thing. 2) The Bible does say wives are to submit to their husbands. (I don’t believe this is the kind of submission Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5:22).
Regarding domestic abuse and the church, there are 4 important concepts:
1) Jesus doesn’t condone abuse (1 John 3:11). While God hates divorce, He also doesn’t want people being abused. It is OK to get out of a violent situation and see if the abuser is willing to get help.
2) Jesus understands abuse (Isaiah 50:6). He can identify with it because he was abused himself. He understands the pain of those who suffer violence.
3) Jesus offers peace and healing to abuse victims who seek it (Psalm 29:11).
4) Jesus also loves abusers. However, he demands repentance (Acts 3:19). He wants to heal abusers of whatever is making them abuse others but he wants abusers to stop hurting people.
Help is available for those who are in abusive situations and for abusers as well. The cycles of violence do not have to continue. I am willing to help if you need it or I can refer you to someone else who can help.