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What does the Bible say about Spouse Abuse?

 

Bob Prichard

The Bible condemns spouse abuse by demanding a lifestyle of love and compassion, which rules out the violence in the home. Whether abuse is mental, physical, or verbal, abuse does not fit with the Christian lifestyle. No member of the home has a right to hurt other family members.

Paul tells husbands, 'Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it ... So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church' (Ephesians 5:25, Ephesians 5:28-29). If a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, he will not consider abusing his wife. Christ gave Himself for the church, and loves and nourishes it. As they follow His example, husbands will love and nourish their wives. Abuse denies love and diminishes the wife. As Adam received Eve, his wife, God said, 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh' (Genesis 2:24). A man who abuses his wife acts as if he hates his own flesh, because he and his wife share this 'one flesh' relationship.

Paul wrote, 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing' (Ephesians 5:22-24). Some men have, unfortunately, taken their position as head of the household as license to abuse wives and children. Submission does not give permission for abuse.

In the verse preceding his admonition to wives to 'submit yourselves unto your own husbands,' Paul wrote of 'submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God' (Ephesians 5:21). Neither the husband nor the wife is to 'lord' authority over the other, but both are to mutually submit to one another in love. Submission does not allow or condone abuse, or protect an abuser from the consequences of his actions.

Peter amplifies the proper view of submission. 'Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear' (1 Peter 3:1-2). He adds that the Christian woman who adorns herself with a meek (strength under control) and quiet spirit may win her non-Christian husband (1 Peter 3:3-6). 'Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered' (1 Peter 3:7). The godly husband who properly honors his wife will dwell with her in peace and love, and would never consider hurting her. The church must help families learn to live in love and peace, without violence.

  -Bob Prichard, P. O. Box 3071, Oxford, AL 36203

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