Summary: This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.
This teaching is taken from my book “Beaten, Battered, Bruised & Blessed” (Christians Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence) more information can be found at www.c21c.org My prayer is it will help you in Pastoral ministry.
Confronting Domestic Violence Biblically
The issue of domestic violence when considered in a biblical context creates, for those seeking to minister to victims and perpetrators, a number of dilemmas, in particular, reconciliation.
In this section, I, with the help of Pastor Harry Letson, will set the issues involved in domestic violence in their biblical context to broaden church leader’s/worker’s understanding and hopefully prepare them to deal with instances of domestic violence.
The “Christian perpetrator” will often abuse the biblical teaching of headship and submission not because he wants to obey God but simply because he wants his wife to obey him. The woman who passively allows her husband/partner to abuse her physically and verbally may be simply and sincerely attempting to follow the teachings of 1 Peter 3:1-6. Her silent response may be because she believes to speak out would only result in even more abuse or because people, and often Christians, will not believe her. Whatever the reason, it needs to be communicated from the pulpit and understood in the pews that Peter was teaching about a Godly submission that calls husbands to be the servant leader God made him to be. Peter’s aim in this passage was never to condone a perpetrator’s ungodly lust for power and control that Jesus condemned (Mk. 10:42-43; 1 Pet. 3:7).
It is a dangerous misconception that women must simply comply with their husband’s wishes and that this is suffering as Jesus did. Jesus’ suffering was for the spiritual good and well-being of others. Jesus wasn’t indulging the evil actions of His enemies and submitting to their selfish whims, Jesus was submitting to his Father for his glory and honour.
RECONCILIATION IS POSSIBLE
There can be no doubt reconciliation is possible, Jesus’ ministry on this earth was all about our reconciliation to God. Generally, when there has been long term abuse in a relationship, reconciliation is not instant. The process of restoration is slow and arduous. There are of course no simple methods to follow that guarantees success. Our goal when ministering in a domestic violence situation, should always be reconciliation. However, we must accept that we will not always score and when we fail to win reconciliation we must seek to minister the grace and mercy of God.
Reconciliation is not encouraging a woman to return to an abusive cycle. If there is continuing abuse then there cannot be a reunion. Reconciliation to God requires the end of hostility on our part, For the offender, it requires a turning away from the old way of life and embracing the new life with its godly principles and values. (Eph. 2:11-18). In a reunion after domestic violence, reconciliation means an end of the former hostility on the part of the abuser. Reconciliation means that he must do everything required to ensure that there is never a return to the former destructive and abusive lifestyle of the past.
In the pastoral care of a victim and perpetrator who seek to be reconciled, I believe the following guidelines will help;
Reconciliation is a Slow Process that requires the following;
Repentance of their sin against God and their victim.
Resolve with fruit, when pressure is on they are self controlled.
Relearning of behaviour that excludes violent reactions.
Re-assessment of the reunion, don’t think everything is OK after a prayer.
Reconciliation is a Two Way Process (not just all the abuser)
Take action against the abuser. It may simply be to tell someone or even leave. Those who do take action are less likely to be abused again.
Fear should no longer be in control. Victims need to be encouraged to take some control over their lives.
Forgive and sacrifice vengeance. If the victim is always looking to get their own back then reconciliation will never take place.
Rebuilding a relationship damaged by domestic violence will and must cross over the river of unforgiveness to forgiveness. Forgiveness may seem like they are letting the perpetrator off the hook for what they’ve done. The pattern of forgiveness spoken of in Luke 17:3-4, however, makes it clear that forgiveness is also lovingly holding the abuser accountable for his actions and thus reminding him that this is the path he has walked away from.
To Divorce or not to Divorce
If an abusive husband is not willing to go through the process of reconciliation. Then a wife must continue to follow a path of spiritual counsel and where she feels and believes it is necessary takes legal action.
Consider the dilemma biblically in the following way;
1. It would seem that Old Testament divorce laws were a merciful provision (Dt. 24:1-4). Even though God hated divorce (Mal. 2:16), it seems that He would rather have divorce than the abuse of women and children. God Himself divorced the northern tribes of Israel (Jer. 3:8). Therefore, a woman who is married to a perpetrator may not be sinning if she seeks divorce action--even if her husband is not guilty of sexual immorality (Mt. 19:1-12).