Domestic Violence

Often people don’t believe a woman who says she has been abused if they see no bruises. Emotional wounds leave no visible bruises. My friend understands this completely.

She suffered emotional abuse for years from her husband.

They went through premarital counseling with me.

I officiated their wedding decades ago.

They left our church because he didn’t agree with my views on marriage among other things.

I’m humbled she is still my friend. I didn’t see her suffering.

Her silent torment woke me to domestic violence in Christian families. How many others may be suffering?

Domestic Violence Is A Behavior Not A Sickness

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in which a person uses coercion, harassment, deception, humiliation, threat and force to establish and maintain power and control.

It’s not about someone snapping, losing it, being pushed or being nagged until he can’t take it. It’s about power and control.

The person does not “lose it” in front of his commanding officer, in the pastor’s office or a business office. He “loses it” with his wife and children.

It’s not about being sick, but about being slick.

A Pattern Of Abuse

First, a husband establishes control by cutting his wife off from contact with friends and family, dictating who she sees, what she wears, how she styles her hair, when she uses the car, how much money she has, what she does and where she goes.

From social isolation and control, the behavior escalates into psychological battering with name-calling from sexual slanders to putdowns.

Then come threats or destruction of property or pets, showing what the man can do to the woman.

Abuse may escalate to beatings, strangulation or just blocking her from leaving a room.

Domestic Violence

Who are men who abuse? Athletes, construction workers, physicians, attorneys, pastors, fathers, uncles, brothers.

Who are the women violated? They work in all jobs and in homes. They are mothers, sisters, friends, daughters and granddaughters.

Beyond physical abuse or sexual assault, domestic violence includes emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse.

The oft-quoted justification from Ephesians 5:22 that wives are to be subject to their husbands leaves out verse 21 and following verses that say a man and a woman are to be subject to and responsible to each other.

5 Christian Teachings Used To Support Abusers

1) Marriage is sacred: Some pastors think it’s impossible for a married man to abuse, because a wife is a man’s property, but no means no, and sexual assault is a crime even in marriage. An abuser has already broken the marriage covenant by the abuse. The safety of a wife and children are more sacred than keeping a marriage together at all costs. Don’t turn the marriage covenant into an idol.

2) Divorce under any circumstances is wrong: Jesus said divorce is permitted if there is adultery. (Matthew 19:8,9) The New Testament also offers a concession when there is desertion. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16) Emotional and psychological abuse is desertion. To say divorce is an abomination sounds religious, but we must say violence is an abomination.

3) Women are to be submissive; and 4) Men are to be the head of the house: These teachings, based on a couple of verses in Ephesians 5, have caused many Christian women to be abused, even killed. Nine of 12 verses in Ephesians 5:21-33 admonish husbands and wives to be subject to each other and define a husband’s responsibility to put his wife first ahead of his own needs or desires.

5) Christians should always forgive those who wrong them: Some women hope if they forgive, everything will be okay. Forgiveness does not do something for someone else. The abuser needs to be held accountable: to confess, admit what he did, accept responsibility and repent. Reconciliation means restoration to harmony. Because the perpetrator cannot be trusted, the relationship cannot be restored to harmony. (Luke 17:3)

Perpetrators need treatment that holds them accountable and requires restitution.

APPLICATION: Do you know someone who is being abused or you suspect is being abused? Discreetly reach out to them. Offer them your support without being judgmental or giving advice. Be someone they can talk to who would understand.

Get support at The Today Centre in Edmonton

Distress line is open 24/7 – 780-482-HELP

Family Violence Resources in Edmonton


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 28 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 39 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Thanks Pastor Bob for writing this article. I have worked with many women over the years who have been victims of abuse and one of the things that comes up is their vow to God on their wedding day and that if they leave, they are breaking their vow with God. Having some clarity on what the scripture really says rather than misinterpretations is so important. God does not want women to suffer in their marriages, they are too precious as daughter of God. Thank you for bringing this up and bringing the issue out in the open.

  • Bob, thank you for writing this such a clear way. I lived with a lot of verbal abuse over the years as well some sexual abuse and emotional. The hardest part of breaking free for me was breaking the marriage commitment. It took a lot of time but God in his grace showed me that keeping my marriage had become an idol and took precedence over Him. Thankfully, I was able to break free safely. I know it was a horrible shock to many of my friends, many of whom I am sure could not believe it. Even after some 20 plus years I do not regret that decision. I have enjoyed life but more importantly I love and serve God freely and daily.

  • Bob Jones says:

    You do a good work with people in crisis, Sacha. Glad I could stand with you in a helpful way.

  • Bob Jones says:

    Thank you for sharing, Joyce. I imagine your words will be just what is needed by some other wife who has endured abuse and needed an empathetic voice to help her do what she knows she should.

  • David Campbell says:

    Pastor Bob
    You have no idea how much this article is appreciated in our family. Our oldest daughter has lived what you write about and is nearing the end of divorce proceedings. Even since separation she has been attacked to the point of her husband attempting to “spin information” to anyone who will listen and has contacted each of her family and friends attempting to turn them away on her. Her biggest struggle is with “Christians don’t divorce” and as a result she has stayed and attempted to make marriage work for ten years. We are so proud of her and the stand she has finally taken. We have shared this blog with her.
    Also, could you give some clarity to the statement in point two, “The New Testament also offers a concession when there is desertion. Emotional and psychological abuse is desertion.”
    Linda and I have always valued your friendship appreciated your ministry.
    Thanks again

  • David Campbell says:

    Pastor Bob
    You have no idea how much this article is appreciated in our family. Our oldest daughter has lived what you write about and is nearing the end of divorce proceedings. Even since separation she has been attacked to the point of her husband attempting to “spin information” to anyone who will listen and has contacted each of her family and friends attempting to turn them away on her. Her biggest struggle is with “Christians don’t divorce” and as a result she has stayed and attempted to make marriage work for ten years. We are so proud of her and the stand she has finally taken. We have shared this blog with her.
    Also, could you give some clarity to the statement in point two, “The New Testament also offers a concession when there is desertion.”
    Linda and I have always valued your friendship appreciated your ministry.
    Thanks again

  • W Irwin says:

    It would be helpful if you added scripture references for points 2 and 5.

  • Sharon Espeseth says:

    Thank you for writing this clear message of how the Bible can be misinterpreted to support the abuse and subjugation of wives to their husbands. We saw abuse in our own families and witnessed the damage such abuse can cause–even later in life.

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