May 1, 2011

What does the Bible say about Domestic Violence?

Scripture References Related to Abuse

Brian Tubbs

Mar 2, 2010

Did husbands beat their wives in the Bible? Domestic violence is not new. Domestic abuse was as real in Bible times as today. What does the Bible say about abuse?

Victims of domestic violence should know that the Bible contains clear, unmistakable declarations against any form of physical or verbal abuse. Those who seek to justify abuse by turning to the pages of the Bible are guilty not only of harming others, but also of distorting God's Word to suit their nefarious and deplorable actions.

Scripture References Related to Abuse

While some husbands undoubtedly beat their wives in Bible times as some husbands do today, it's generally believed that this was never God's plan or design for the home. On the contrary, the Bible repeatedly calls on people to show kindness, generosity, and love to one another, and specifically condemns the abuse of wives and children. Here are a few Scripture references related to abuse and the proper treatment that husbands, in particular, should extend to a wife:

  • "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." ~Ephesians 5:28-29, NKJV
  • "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." ~Ephesians 4:31, NKJV
  • "Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them." ~Colossians 3:19, NIV
  • "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. If you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard." ~I Peter 3:7, NIV
  • "The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked." ~Proverbs 10:11, NKJV
  • "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." ~James 1:19-20, NKJV

The Bible also exhorts fathers not to provoke their children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4) and to see children as a blessing and "heritage" from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).

In several passages, the Bible also promises God's attention to the poor, needy, and oppressed (Psalm 22:24; Psalm 140:12; Psalm 103:6) and exhorts God's followers to support and help those suffering affliction (Isaiah 1:17; Hebrews 13:3).

What Should Victims of Abuse Do?

In the face of abuse, Christians believe that victims should seek help from God and from those capable of extending support and assistance. Some find prayer beneficial – prayers for wisdom, grace, and protection should be offered fervently and consistently. But don't stop at prayer.

When a spouse is faced with abuse, Christians believe that she (or he) should follow the general advice Paul gives in his letter to the church at Rome. In that epistle, Paul writes: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18, NKJV).

Being a general principle, it is applicable to all situations, including the home. There comes a point when it's simply not possible to live at peace. When that point comes, the biblical principle of protecting oneself and others kicks in (Psalm 82:4; Proverbs 24:11; Nehemiah 4:12-14). As for how to implement that principle, victims of abuse should consult with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) for advice on their particular situation.

Biblical Homes – No Abuse or Violence

Christians believe that God never sides with an abusive husband or father (or abusive wife or mother, for that matter). According to modern Christian beliefs, abuse is completely inconsistent with God's standard for the home. What does a biblical home look like?

Christian ideology holds that God's standard for a biblical home begins with marriage. According to God's design, marriage involves leaving the father and mother and joining together with one's spouse (Genesis 2:24). That marriage is to be a lifelong commitment, based on two people coming together in love and in the sight of God (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).

Studies, in fact, have shown that marriage is statistically safer for women and children, when it comes to domestic violence. Of course, it's vital that spouses enter into a marriage relationship for the right reasons and with a healthy assessment of each other. A wife, for example, has the right to demand that her husband will love her unconditionally, treat her kindly and with respect, and value both her and any children that come into the marriage. This is indeed what the marital vows are all about and it's one reason why premarital counseling is important.

In the Christian school of thought, a truly biblical home, one where both spouses strive to act according to God's standard for marriage, there is unconditional love, mutual submission, sexual intimacy, kindness, mercy, and a lifelong commitment (Matthew 19:4-9; I Corinthians 7:2-5; I Corinthians 13; Ephesians 5; Colossians 3:18-21).

In such a marriage, the husband does not set himself up as a dictator, but rather as a servant, modeling Jesus Christ and commits to loving his wife as Jesus loved and gave himself for the church. In such a context, abuse and violence are clearly egregious sins. Not only does an abusive husband do great harm to the one he is to love and cherish, but he has plainly deviated from God's standard.

While many professing Christians tragically engage in verbal or physical abuse, Christians believe that this has never been God's design and that domestic violence has no place in a truly biblical home.

Read more at Suite101: What Does The Bible Say About Domestic Violence?: Scripture References Related to Abuse |

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