The Christian response to domestic abuse

Psalms 72: 4, He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

We know domestic abuse exists within the world but can it really exist within the families of the redeemed? Sadly, the answer is yes. But because most church families don’t have any experience with domestic abuse, because pastors don’t usually address it from the pulpit, because church leadership isn’t prepared to identify it or help the abused, and Christians in general have only a vague, often incomplete and incorrect understanding of it, the church often isn’t a safe place for victims of domestic abuse—even when the victim is a member of the local church and is reaching out for help from her own pastor, elders, or her brothers and sisters in Christ. When abuse victims get up enough courage to reach out for help from the church, they are more often than not given bad or even dangerous advice—if they are given advice at all. Too many are either turned away without any effort to help them, or are sent back home to their abuser.

Our love for Christ demands that this change. Even as you read this, there are members of God’s church, perhaps from your own congregation, who are being abused by their spouses. These precious Christians are living in a man-made war zone in their own homes and many have no one to help them. Think about how this affects their children. What do they come to believe about family relationships? What does living in abuse do to their sense of security? And, if they see their mothers being refused help by the church, what does that say to them about believers? Or even about Jesus? Then think about the moms. What would you think, how would you feel, if you desperately needed help, but God’s people treated you as if you were a leper? What if you were blamed for what isn’t your fault? What if they sided with the one who was hurting you and turned you away? All of these things and more continue to be the reality of godly women who are being abused by their husbands, women who have tried, and failed, to get help for their situation from God’s people.

If we desire to serve our Lord, we must learn to help the moms, and help the children, who are living in abuse. We must respond to them in a way that glorifies Christ and that actually offers them a way out of abuse—should they desire it—rather than just teaching them to tread water in it. As Christians, our first job is to do all that we do in a way that glorifies our Lord. Our goal should be to serve these women as Jesus Himself would.

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