Not All Abuse Must Be Taken

No, God does not call us as Christians to take all kinds of abuse.  99 percent of Christians would agree with that statement and I would be one of them.  But very few Christians would agree with me on this next statement regarding abuse:

God does call us as Christians to take and bear SOME kinds of abuses.

What is the key word there? The word is “SOME”.

But in our world today we are taught, sadly even by many Christian teachers, that we don’t have to take ANY abuse from anyone.

However the Scriptures contradict this attitude of “I don’t have to take any kind of abuse from any one at any time”:

“19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”

I Peter 2:19-23 (KJV)

Our culture hates the passage I just quoted because it goes against our idea of a society where no one should ever have to tolerate the least amount of pain or suffering.  We are living in a society of people with feelings as fragile and as easily damaged as egg shells.

We have actually reached a point where some people are so fragile that they cannot hear an opposing view point without being so mortally offended that they must seek out therapy.

About a year ago I published an article entitled “Why God wants You to STAY in an abusive relationship” and as I write today that article has received almost 70,000 views since I first posted it. If you just google the title of that same article you will find many YouTube videos as well as other sites commenting on it.

I received thousands of comments or emails most by people who did not read past the first few paragraphs and others who did not read past the title.  I am not a stranger to receiving death threats for various articles I write simply expounding on the teachings of the Bible.  But this article has generated even more hatred than usual.

But do I see myself as victim? No.  I daily remember these words of Christ to those who preach his Word:

“11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV)

So, when I read negative reviews on both Atheist and Christian blogs or when I receive false accusations and death threats via email or comments to my blog because of I preached the Word of God and called out the sins of generation do I frown? Do I get upset?

Well from a human perspective I don’t like false accusations and I wish I could correct each and every one of them.  But I know I can’t do that.  So I must leave that in the Lord’s hands.  And do I take the death threats seriously? You bet I do and that is why I started this blog anonymously and take great pains to keep myself anonymous.   Even my closest online friends do not know my real identity.

But at the end of the day I strive, be it ever so imperfectly, to rejoice when I am persecuted as Christ admonished us to do.

Now does that not mean that I don’t get angry at the sinful ways of our society?  Do I not get angry at the way people so easily speak blasphemy against God and his Word as I see on a daily basis in comments to this blog? Of course some of these things make me angry.   But I do try and follow God’s rule to Be ye angry, and sin not (Ephesians 4:26).

So why I am writing this companion article? Today I received a comment followed up by an email from the same person that was probably one of the most respectful disagreement emails that I have received regarding my article on abuse.   And I felt this was a good opportunity to help clarify some important Biblical principles I have been trying to teach about how we as Christians should respond to abuse.

Christ Does Not Call Us to Be “perpetual victims and punching bags”

Below is the complete email I received from a concerned reader calling himself “John”.

“I read your article about God’s will to remain in an abusive relationship. You presented your argument in a well studied manner in which you used Scripture to justify remaining in an abusive relationship. At the same time I must disagree with you.

While the Bible teaches enduring hardships and tribulations, I don’t see anywhere Jesus expected us to be perpetual victims and punching bags. There has to be a point where either one of two things will occur: the abusive spouse will repent and begin to turn things around, or the situation will become worse to the point of either death or divorce.

At one time I would have agreed with you and even taught along similar lines. Then I went through the experience. I suffered marital problems where I was berated by my wife, criticized at every turn, denied love and affection, then it escalated to where my bank account was drained and finally adultery (the one grounds that we can agree on) was confirmed.

At what point do we say enough is enough? Are we supposed to continue to just take the abuse and never stand up for ourselves and our family members who also must endure this? How many households must suffer financial ruin, physical injury, mental anguish, or ultimately death at the abuser’s hands?

Having been at one time a minister in an abusive church, I witnessed first hand how these teachings hurt families. When we force wives or husbands to remain in an abusive relationship, we as Christians aren’t much better than the Muslims whose record of condoning violence against their wives is well documented. This is one reason why more Christians avoid church than attend. We failed in providing real solutions to help abuse victims. We just throw the victims back in the shark tank to be eaten afresh.

Moving from the marriage into the church in general, there are many accounts of believers forced to leave a church and pastor because of abuse. In some cases it was sexual. Other times it was emotional or financial. Some pastors exercised control over the congregants’ daily lives to where every waking moment revolved around the church and its leadership. God called pastors to be shepherds, but instead many so called pastors became kings over their own little kingdoms.

I followed the Biblical route here and brought my grievances to the elders and pastor. I even went to the point of proposing reform so ALL of us would be accountable. My ideas were completely rejected, and the pastors continued their abuse unrepentant. I was finally left with no option but to leave.

Years later I found myself in another church situation. I saw unbiblical activity and reported it to the leadership, only to the kicked out of the church. I could have suffered in silence and gone along with it, but God does not want me to roll over and be the perpetual victim.

Until we realize victims need real help and not just being told all this suffering is God’s will, more lives will be ruined.”

Now I will address a couple key concerns of this reader.

“How many households must suffer financial ruin, physical injury, mental anguish, or ultimately death at the abuser’s hands?”

No household must perpetually suffer financial ruin because of a spouse who abuses the family finances.  But how this is dealt with is different depending on whether it is the husband or wife. As I stated in my previous article on this subject of abuse the Exodus 21:10-11 principle applies to a wife whose husband fails to provide (i.e. brings the family to financial ruin) either because of his laziness or some type of addiction (drugs or gambling).  So, no, she does not have to stay and take this kind of abuse but rather she can be free of him in divorce.

Now does the husband have the right to divorce his wife because of her financial abuse  such as overspending which may cause financial ruin for the family? No, he does not have the right to divorce her, but based on upon Christ’s example with his wife the church in Revelation 3:19 he does have the right to discipline her.  And that means he gets a new bank account without her name on it and locks her out of the finances completely.  Even if that means he has to do the family grocery shopping and clothing shopping.

Regarding serious physical injury or life-threatening situations, the “Abigail Principle” of I Samuel 25 applies.  God brought Abigail to go against her husband’s evil actions which literally placed her family in mortal danger to save her family and he blessed her for it. And there is no reason this would not apply to men as well if their wife was engaging in actions that could bring serious bodily harm or death to them or their children.

So, in either the case of the husband or the wife, if there is a situation where one spouse is causing great bodily harm or placing the family in danger of death by their actions then the other spouse should get out with the children and contact the civil authorities.

But then what about mental anguish?

This one is different than the others. What did Christ do when he was in mental anguish?  He went to be alone with his father.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:44 (KJV)

The Bible  does not allow for the dissolving of a marriage based solely on mental anguish.  Are there some other remedies offered though for mental anguish caused by one’s spouse’s abusive behavior? Yes, we find a couple other remedies in the book of Proverbs:

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”

Proverbs 21:9 (KJV)

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)

So, if you have a wife who berates you, constantly criticizes you and denies you the love and affection God commands of her the remedy is simple.   First follow Christ’s example as a husband in Revelation 3:19 and “rebuke and chasten” your wife.  If she fails to respond to your chastening with repentance, then find your “corner of the housetop”, i.e. your office or man-cave and leave her in her sin.  Perhaps go to your “wilderness” whether that be hunting or other activities with other men.  And when you get alone in these places – pray earnestly as Christ did in the garden.

A wife may also need to find her “corner of the housetop” sometimes if she is dealing with a husband who constantly berates her.  She may need to go to her room sometimes or just take a drive to be alone with her thoughts and also pray and seek the Lord’s strength to do what he has called her to do in spite of her husband’s sin.

But in the case of the wife – she does not have the spiritual authority to rebuke and discipline her husband, but rather she is called to win her husband without the word by her reverent and submissive behavior toward him (I Peter 3:1-2).

What About Abuse by Church Leaders?

John made this statement about abuse he has witnessed in Churches:

“Moving from the marriage into the church in general, there are many accounts of believers forced to leave a church and pastor because of abuse. In some cases it was sexual. Other times it was emotional or financial. Some pastors exercised control over the congregants’ daily lives to where every waking moment revolved around the church and its leadership. God called pastors to be shepherds, but instead many so called pastors became kings over their own little kingdoms.”

I have witnessed similar abuses to this in many churches I know of both local and across the nation.  Supposed Bible preaching pastors who are found to be sexually abusing young people in the church.

One of the Baptist churches I attended growing up had a Pastor who came up with a bright idea of “Paycheck Sundays”.  Basically, he demanded that all his church members sign over their entire pay checks to the church ever so often – I think it might have been every two months.  My father opposed such a demand and even told the church he disagreed and we left shortly thereafter.

I have heard of situations where Pastors tried to tell wives they had greater spiritual authority over them than their husbands which violates the explicit teachings of the Scriptures that the husband is the wife’s greatest spiritual authority (Ephesians 5:23-24 & 1 Corinthians 14:35).

And yes, I have seen churches that do exactly as you describe and you follow the Biblical process of bringing sin or concern to the church only to be turned down or have it turned on you as if you did something wrong for bringing sin to their attention.

But here is the thing about churches and marriages.  Some things they have in common, but many other things are VERY different between these two God given institutions.  What they have in common is that both have sinners in them and both are flawed because of the presence of sin.  Both are to have their authorities exercise spiritual discipline over those under their authority.

But church membership and marriage are very different when it comes to how their association is dissolved.  A covenant of marriage is not easily broken in God’s design.  But God does not tell us we must remain at a particular local church indefinitely.

We might leave a local church for no more reason than we found one that is closer to home.  We might leave a local church over differences in music style or many other reasons. God wants us in church, but he does not tie us to a particular local church.  Now do I think we should church hop constantly? No. Church hopping is not good for our children.  But if there are serious reasons or legitimate reasons for moving from a church than we can do that.

John – I hope this answers your concerns.

5 thoughts on “Not All Abuse Must Be Taken

  1. The word “abuse” or rather it’s expanded overuse is an abuse of vocabulary that contributes to the malaise. Rather than frame situations from a “victim’s” perspective, more can be achieved from a higher third party view.

    For instance when a husband and wife are quaralling, one perspective is the wife is being oppressed and verbally abused, another is that the husband’s authority is being challenged and abused so he must defend it, but a higher perspective might observe that the wife is being sinfully insubordinate (how else could there be a quarrel?) and the husband is indulging his wife’s sins by remaining and fueling her rebellion.

    When the word “abuse” gets tossed about the situational awareness changes to defending the victim resulting in a tunnel vision that occludes nearly everything else. It is a way of hyperbole by an associated inference.

    “Abuse” conjures a Disney-esque wicked stepmother breaking a child’s bones, burning a child with lit cigarettes, broken noses the result of an angry fist strike and the like. No take that emotional word and apply it everything that makes one unhappy and a whole arsenal of weapons to defend the victim have been created. Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse and personal abuse. But none of those so called abuses are related to the image in our mind of abuse.

    The new arsenal of linguistic weapons are created for those with less authority and power to claim victim-hood, which bolsters a claim of moral superiority, to rebalance authority in relationships.

    Instead of a contentious wife, she is a verbally abused victim. Instead of an immature wife who lacks emotional strength, she can wallow in her feelz and claim how she is emotionally abused. The sisterhood will quickly fall in formation to defend the “victim” and launch a counter offensive. Likewise a defrauding spouse when confronted and pressured to repent instead cries “sexual-abuse “ they claim sanctuary from their own guilt and achieve victimhood status and power.

    Some women really do get physically beat up by unloving sinful husbands. But taking a horrific and rare circumstance to prejudice women against household authority is destructive. Yet, by the overuse of the word “abuse” that is precisely what is happening. It serves as a linguistic shield against seeing, confessing and repenting of sins that are much more prevalent. This in turn gets the downward spiral going.

    Example: Refusing to submit, because submission is enabling abuse, a woman sins in insubordinate living.

    Confused and offended a husband responds by instructing his wife she is failing to submit,

    She receives such correction as abuse and proof that her husband is an abusive tyrant so she amps up her contention.

    They go to the church for “counseling” she speaks the word abuse and the elders immediately seek to defend the victim from the evil patriarchy and require the husband to mend his ways and live to make his wife happy.

    He sleeps on the roof. She is humiliated and claims his roof sleeping is emotional abuse. He points out that biblical wisdom says sleeping on the roof is better than available alternatives unless she repents. She cries out (you guessed it) “spiritual abuse”.

    Lather rinse repeat. Until one day the man wants off this carousel ride and either kills the marriage, himself or his wife. Women cry and console each other saying “this is what happens when you stay married to an abusive man”. Not wanting to be abused they go home and refuse to submit to their husbands because submission is enabling abuse….

  2. Well said Jonadab.

    If I were to sum up everything you said it would be:

    Women are abusing “abuse” to overthrow their husband’s God given spiritual authority and excuse their own sinful behavior.

  3. @BGR – your summary is on the mark.

    I would add that it is not just women abusing abuse, but men who desire to be virtuous, but don’t really understand virtue. They white-knight against abuse, eschewing justice and shielding women from realization of their sin. In their zeal to protect women from harm, they gladly join the chorus against men (all but their own enlightened self, they are the hero’s in their deception). Blasting men as: selfish, lazy, sexual predators, dead-beats, passive, overly aggressive, video game playing, non-church going etc. Misandry in the guise of protecting women from misogyny, these white -knights put on the cape of a hero, but are villains that tickle the ears of women predisposed to sin, ie seek power and control where they are commanded to submit and trust. These white-knighting men are often men of renown, men with pulpits, badges, publishers and microphones. Of course men who want to be like these men of renown ape their misandry.

    I know you know this, for these are the same who when confronted with the Word of God slander the messenger. They double-down their venom on the husband trying to exercise a biblical ethic and their fall-back bunker is “abuse is a serious problem” and the false premise that patriarchy is abuse. Churches cower at the word abuse, they have seen many a preacher accused for not intervening to save a woman in peril. Preachers have seen what happens when they do not endorse the feminist orthodoxy, and they fear the herd of feminists more than they fear the Lord. What happened to Paige Patterson is the evangelical equivalent to #metoo. But in evangelical circles simply not spouting “patriarchy is abuse and it must be stopped” is enough to take out any leader, no matter how many books he has sold to women. The shepherds now protect the wolves and serve up rams for meals.

    IMO- these are but a couple of reasons that humble men of God should change the vocabulary and change the frame. Right now the messages women hear are: independence is virtue, like a fruit of the spirit, women are more spiritual than men, a woman’s feelings are spiritual signals of prophetic gravity, women do not sin on their own, but only as the result of worse sins of men, men are tamed evil beings with nefarious latent desires that must be controlled, men must continually be tested to their worthiness, consent trumps covenant, women are more equal than men, … ad nauseam. Until women hear that failing to submit to fathers and husbands is sinning, that a marital argument is prima facie of her spirit of contention against Christ and his appointed authority, that withholding sex is a crime of defrauding in the eyes of God, that she is easily deceived and needs to view her feelings with skepticism, that man was not created for woman, but woman for man, that Sarah was held as an exemplary wife for calling her husband “Lord” ….then the zeitgeist of this present evil will not be abated and will become judgement upon generations.

    Christian counselors have adopted the Duluth definition of abuse, an initiative that its authors stated was for the purpose of reconfiguring the family from Christian norms. Seminaries teach the Duluth definition and then turn around and critique the Pauline epistles with it. The graduates of such programs then go into practice where they propagate unbiblical gender ethics under the cloak of “Christian counsel”.

    “Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  4. I have never commented on here before but I have read your blog extensively. I find your beliefs in tradition gender roles refreshing, as it is very hard to find. I have never commented because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, but I do believe I have something to say about this. I agree 100% that the word abuse is thrown around WAY too often. It has been misused so much that I believe it has lost a lot of its meaning. I was sexually abused as a young girl and to hear other people claim abuse when in actuality they are just being spoiled, selfish brats is honestly sickening to me. I feel very sorry that John had to endure what he did. His wife was most definitely abusive in a horrible, horrible way. I will keep him in my prayers.
    But I also think both sides of the argument need to be careful with throwing around abuse. For instance, Jonadab, you said the following: “For instance when a husband and wife are quaralling, one perspective is the wife is being oppressed and verbally abused, another is that the husband’s authority is being challenged and abused so he must defend it, but a higher perspective might observe that the wife is being sinfully insubordinate (how else could there be a quarrel?) and the husband is indulging his wife’s sins by remaining and fueling her rebellion.”
    While I agree that a husband and a wife quarreling doesn’t mean that a husband is being abusive, I also don’t think that it necessarily means a wife is being abusive either. Surely, an argument could turn into abuse by berating, saying unjust and hurtful things, or even turn physically abusive by either husband or wife throwing punches or shoving and etc. Sometimes arguments just happen because in a marriage, both spouses are human and sin. Husbands can pick fights just as much as a wife can. I know, because I am married to man who does that quite a few times out of the month. Usually I am quiet and just let him say what he wants. I know he doesn’t mean what he says and he is just really frustrated at his work. I would not call that abuse at all. He’s human. He sins. But I also wouldn’t call me picking a fight with him as abusive. It would still be wrong, and a sin, but not what I would classify as abuse. Surely it would be handled differently because it would be a different type a sin. If a husband is picking a fight with his wife (unjustly, NOT just reprimanding her for a sin), it is a sin on his part. He is called to love his wife as Christ loves church. I would not call that Christ like love to pick a fight over one piece of burnt chicken or spilling a glass of water at the dinner table. If a wife picks a fight with her husband, she is sinning because she is not respecting his authority over her as her husband, and yes, as her owner. But I don’t think it’s abusive if I argue with my husband over something like dumping a bottle of shampoo and leaving it without at least telling me he did and me getting into the shower and slipping. Now, it’s still wrong and a sin, but not abusive.
    My whole point of this rant is that I really think both men and women need to be careful when they throw the word abuse around. Otherwise, it diminishes the very real abuse that happens between spouses.
    PS I would just like to add that I don’t know you, Jonadab, but if I had to guess from the passion behind your comment you could have possibly faced a very real abusive situation from a possible wife. I don’t know, I’m only guessing. So please dont think I am diminishing any experience a man might have from spousal abuse from his wife. Surely it is a horrific sin and crime on her part that should not be tolerated. I only meant that just like not every male is being abusive in an argument, not every woman is being abusive in an argument. 🙂

  5. …not every woman is being abusive in an argument.

    She is in all likelihood not abusing her husband, but she is violating 1 Peter 3:1-2 and is therefore in want of conformity unto the law of God, aka sinning. Every argument between a husband and wife is a violation of 1Peter 3:1-2. Note not a disagreement, not a miscommunication but an argument, a quarrel. The husband may or may not be sinning in the quarrel, but the wife is certainly sinning. There are several proverbs about quarrelsome and contentious wives, but not much directed at husbands other than general wisdom such as “a harsh word stirs up misunderstanding, but a gentle answer turns away wrath.” Further note that it is not husbands that I am defending (although they surely require someone to defend them against the tidal wave of feminism) I am now defending the Bible as the standard for ethics within Christian marriage. To that end there has been much mischief and violence by those with a more worldly approach. Ironically to hold the Bible as such is labeled as “abuse”.

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