In a misguided effort to provide comfort and direction to abuse victims, well-meaning Christians will often quote Bible verses out of context or cite biblical principles which do not apply to abuse, thereby actually exacerbating the pain victims feel.
As a result, victims may turn away from the real comfort they would find in Christ.
This series of articles is intended to clarify – both for Christians, and abuse victims interacting with them – certain Scriptural passages and principles that could otherwise be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Submission v. Self-Defense
Perhaps the most damaging is the principle of “headship”. The basis for this can be found in Chapter 5 of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, among a set of instructions on holy living for both men and women. The entire chapter speaks of Christians loving and being “submissive” to one another.
The frequently overlooked instruction to husbands (highlighted below) is an integral part of the principle:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her[Emphasis added]…” (Eph. 5: 22-25).
God alone knows how many battered women have lost their lives on bad and unbiblical advice from a priest or minister that they return to a dangerous household, and submit to the will of their abusive, alcoholic, or drug addicted husbands.
Nowhere does the Bible instruct women to submit to violence – least of all by their husbands. Nowhere does it require that they risk their lives or the lives of their children to remain in an abusive marriage. The Song of Solomon is a full book within the Bible describing in lyrical terms the love and devotion that should exist between a husband and wife.
Christians are to be servants to all, in imitation of Christ. This does not preclude the right of self-defense. Author, Matt Perman describes self-defense as “the restraint of life-threatening evil” . That description puts the Pauline principle of “headship” in proper perspective.
 Desiring God, Topic: War, “Did Jesus Teach Pacifism?” by Matt Perman, 1/23/06, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/did-jesus-teach-pacifism.
Originally posted 3/8/15
This series will continue next week with Sin Nature v. Abuse-Related Guilt
Wishing You All A Happy Thanksgiving!
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