Update 7/2/08 - I found this link no longer works, and christianity online no longer is listing this article! I tried to do a search for Julie Gilbert, and this article but was not able to locate it. If someone comes across it please let me know! This author addresses her thoughts on domestic violence within the Christian Marriage.
Husbands! Love Your Wives - The Christian Online Magazine
Husbands! Love Your Wives
By Julie Gilbert
The Christian Online Magazine -
Email the Author
As a woman who is a survivor of domestic violence I have been amazed at the
number of women I have come in contact with who were advised by their
priests, rabbi's or ministers to remain in a relationship where domestic
abuse was prevalent. No additional assistance was given and the matter was
dropped as quickly as possible - and everyone pretended that things were
These women were told that "God hates divorce", that it is the woman's place
to "submit to their husband" because he is her head and covering.
Some of these women stayed and endured years of abuse before finally making
the decision to leave, even if it meant that God may be mad at them or
reject them all together. Their life became more valuable and their survival
more intense than staying with an abuser out of "obedience to God".
As one who holds a real and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I have
been greatly bothered by the majority of the religious leadership's focus
and adherence to scriptures pertaining to women such as, "wives, submit to
your husbands". Yet, the majority rarely continue reading the Scriptures to
charge the husbands with God's instructions of, "Husbands, love your wives
just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:22,25
The fact that domestic abuse is difficult enough for the mainstream public
to confront and deal with, it is much more difficult for church leadership to
admit and confront. The fact that domestic and sexual abuse happens to
families within their congregations is something too difficult and
horrendous for them to think about much less discuss or preach on. The truth
is, it is happening right in their own congregations.
As uneducated as the vast majority of people and agencies such as law
enforcement, judicial branches of city and county governments and people in
general, have been on the subject of domestic abuse until recently, there is
even less education within churches and religious institutions.
The Bible, in my opinion, is clear when it tells men to "love their wives
just as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her", (Ephesians 5:25)
It also states that husbands are to "love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself. No one every hated his own body, but he
feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church." (Ephesians 5:28,
29) Husbands are, again instructed in I Peter 3:7 to "be considerate as you
live with your wife and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as
heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder
your prayers". "Husbands, love your wives and DO NOT BE HARSH WITH THEM"
Jesus told religious leaders, who questioned him on divorce, that God
allowed divorce due to the hardening of a man's heart but in the beginning it was
not this way. A verse I hear quoted so often by people is "(God) I hate
divorce, says the Lord" (Malachi 2:16) but they refuse to continue on from
that point. The verse goes on to say, "and I hate a man's covering himself
with violence as well as with his garment" All of this is in the context of
the Lord not hearing prayers, even though one floods the alter with tears
because God is acting "as a witness between you and the wife of your youth
because you have broken faith and dealt treacherously with her " (Malachi
Wow! God acts as a witness for the woman who is abused!! He is not up there,
pleased that men violate women.
Up until 80-100 years ago, it was considered that a man's wife was 'his
property' and he could do with her as he pleased. In Jesus' day, the culture
viewed women much the same if not worse.
Reading about Jesus Christ in the Gospels, caused me to see Jesus doing much
to elevate women and value and empower them. He seemed to rattle the 'status
quo' religious traditions that men had instituted. He confronted men with
stones ready to kill a woman they had dragged before Jesus charging her with
being caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus told them, "He is who is
without sin, cast the first stone" and one by one, from the oldest to the
youngest, they dropped their stones and went away. Jesus looked up and asked
the woman where her accusers had gone, to which she replied they had gone
and did not accuse her. So Jesus told her to do the same thing to 'go and
sin no more'. He forgave her and charged her to change her behavior. I am
sure he wondered why the religious leaders did not bring the man caught in
adultery to be stoned.
Jesus did not abuse people. He loved people and he demonstrated the way to
live, to walk, to treat people and to find eternal life through a personal
relationship with Him. Jesus had quite a following of women who traveled
with him while he ministered to the broken hearted and bound up their
wounds. He valued and esteemed women contrary to the social customs of that
Today is no different. Religious leaders must be educated on domestic
violence as well as teach those in their congregations about domestic
violence. Nowhere do I find Jesus encouraging a man to beat his wife, or
verbally assault her and put her down or sexually assault her or their
children. Yet it remains a subject untouched, untaught and keeps many women
in bondage to abusers and living in a constant state of fear.
"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE and of a
SOUND MIND" (II Timothy 1:7) The Bible also tells us to "do nothing out of
selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better
than yourself" (Philippians 2:3)
Men who use the Word of God to justify their abusive behavior and authority
over women and children fail to reflect the heart, action and behaviors of
Jesus Christ as demonstrated in the Gospels. They violate their positions of
leadership within the family unit and fail to provide the safety and
security in which to nurture healthy and godly beliefs, values and
interpersonal relationships that carry over to the world around them.
The Bible defines love as, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not
delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It ALWAYS PROTECTS, always
trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails (I Corinthians
For a man to abuse his wife and children with his hands, his words, his
strength and actions is to act as an unbeliever and to disobey the core
teachings of Jesus Christ and God Almighty. Religious leaders must begin to
hold men who abuse accountable and provide for the woman and her children a
place of refuge and safety from the abuse in order to heal. The issue is not
so much divorce unless adherence to the Word of God and change on the part
of the abuser does not happen. If a man refuses to submit himself to the
Word and change his behavior producing fruit in keeping with this change
over a consistent period of time, no woman should be forced, coerced or
scripturally mandated to return to such a person or environment.
It is time for the leadership of the Church, as defined by the Lord in His
Word, to be a place of refuge and safety for violated and abused women and
children. To hold men accountable for their actions and educate them on
exactly what the Word of God defines love to be.
Husbands, LOVE - YOUR - WIFE - AS - CHRIST - LOVES - HIS - CHURCH - AND -
GAVE - HIMSELF - FOR - HER !!
Copyright 2000 by Julie Bill
This article was found on Christianity online, but has since been removed. I have not been able to find information on the author. If you have something - let me know! It has a home here for now at Emotional Abuse and Your Faith!
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