Domestic abuse relationship stories in the bible

SBL Publications

domestic abuse relationship stories in the bible

This article argues that the marriage of Jeroboam and his wife shows “a family likeness” to abuse.[2] Granted, the verses about her reveal no physical beating. The Bible recounts many stories of the horrific sexual abuse of women. In Old The way of Jesus calls us to relationships of non-violence and peace. We are to. God never intended for women to submit to an abusive husband and remain in an unhealthy relationship. Women need to take action and.

They don survival strategies like learned helplessness. The abused woman dissociates, self-hypnotizes, and distances herself emotionally at least from her situation. I do not believe she was colorless and lifeless as a young girl; I believe she became that way in response to her life in her marriage.

Jeroboam, described as a man of standing, a gibbor hayil, would have married a woman of like character and disposition. He would not have married a simpleton—a bimbo, to use a modern word.

Why is she speechless, passionless? Why does she go back? I believe that her portrayal in these verses is consistent with one kind of reaction to abuse. The wife of Jeroboam avoids confrontation. She tries to please, does exactly what Jeroboam says, and downplays herself. Her silence can be a retreat into an inner, protected sanctum. Yet the biblical text regards the wife of Jeroboam as extremely important because of the prophecy she receives. God reveals his plan to uproot and scatter Israel first to this unnamed woman.

Her society cannot or does not hold Jeroboam accountable—but God does. A longer version is under peer review. Hendrickson,includes some insights from this article. House 1, 2 Kings [Nashville: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Abingdon Press, ], Significantly, the phrase is used of David 1 Sam A Reference Book Santa Barbara: One would think that the judgment against his house and Israel would bring him to repentance as it did Ahab years later 2 Kgs Revell, Recovery for Codependent Relationships Nashville: Thomas Nelson, InterVarsity, Battering and Abuse Among Adults Detroit: It was easier to give in than argue.

Those nights I felt that I was almost being raped. Sally found little comfort in her Pentecostal church, which she had turned to repeatedly.

Counsellors there simply advised her to forgive him. She also told her pastor her story, but no one followed it up. The violence mounted until one day her husband threw their three-year-old daughter across the room after the toddler accidentally bumped his leg.

When she left Peter, Sally also left her church parish, feeling isolated and unwanted as a single mother. Ten years later, she is still shattered. She wishes she had heard just one sermon on domestic violence, or had one supportive ear. The Christian men more likely to assault their wives The fact that domestic violence occurs in church communities is well established. Queensland academic Dr Lynne Baker's book, Counselling Christian Women on How to Deal with Domestic Violence, cites a study of Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches in Brisbane that found 22 per cent of perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse go to church regularly.

But American research provides one important insight: Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence.

Those who are often on the periphery, in other words, who sometimes float between parishes, or sit in the back pews. For these men, the rate of abuse committed is alarmingly high. As theology professor Steven Tracy wrote in Adelaide's Anglican Assistant Bishop Tim Harris says, "it is well recognised that males usually seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.

ABC News In Australia, it is widely accepted that gender inequality is a contributing factor to violence against women. The Australian Institute of Family Studies probed this question and concluded: A study published in the Lancet in analysed data from 66 surveys across 44 countries, covering the experiences of almost half a million women.

It found that the greatest predictor of partner violence was "environments that support male control", especially "norms related to male authority over female behaviour".

The past two decades of research has also shown women in religious communities are less likely to leave violent marriages, more likely to believe that the abuser will change, less inclined to access community resources and more likely to believe it is their fault; that they have failed as wives as they were not able to stop the abuse.

A culture of victim blaming or shaming can cause women to exit the church entirely. The most common story in the dozens heard by ABC News is that when marriages break, the men stay and the women leave. The CEO of Safe Steps Family Violence Centre, Annette Gillespie, says that in 20 years of working with victims of domestic violence, she found it was "extremely common" that women will be "encouraged by the church to stay in an abusive relationship".

In a submission to the Royal Commission on Family Violence, one Victorian woman wrote that five different ministers had told her to remain with a violent husband. A church counsellor told her: If pastors prevaricate, or fumble, it could be too late.

New research finds women in the church usually only go to their pastors when partners do something so violent they fear they will die. After year-old Wubanchi Asefaw was told by her church leaders to return to her husband in earlyhe stabbed her to death in their western Sydney home shortly afterwards.

The abuse of the Bible Unlike the Koran, there are no verses in the Bible that may be read as overtly condoning domestic abuse. To the contrary, it is made clear that God hates violence and relationships must be driven by selflessness, grace and love.

Most Muslims believe Islam abhors violence. So why do some say the Koran sanctions "lightly" beating your wife? There is no mainstream theologian in Australia who would suggest that a church should be anything but a sanctuary, or that a Christian relationship be marked by anything but love.

But church counsellors and survivors of family violence report that many abusive men, like Sally's husband, rely on twisted — or literalist — interpretation of Bible verses to excuse their abuse. Baker, whose book on counselling abused Christian women sprang from years of doctoral research, writes: First are the verses — cited by Sally's husband Peter, above — telling women to submit to their husbands and male authority, under the doctrine known as male headship.

Second are verses that say God hates divorce. And third are those in 1 Peter that tell women to submit to husbands in a very particular way, as they follow instructions to slaves to submit to even "harsh masters". But Denis Fitzgerald, executive director at Catholic Social Services Victoria, says it is crucial for the Bible to be read in light of the culture it was produced in. And Simon Smart, the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Christianity points to "what [Croatian theologian] Miroslav Volf describes as the difference between 'thin' and 'thick' religion — where thin religion is stripped of its moral content and used as a weapon for goals completely unrelated to the faith.

What does it mean? The doctrine that is most commonly, and controversially cited by abusers is male headship, where a husband is to be the head of the wife in marriage and the wife is to submit, and men are to be head of the church. What submission means takes many different forms.

At its extreme edge, it is complete subservience. In the s and s, literature coming out of the United States suggested it meant putting up with every possible harm. According to Elizabeth Hanford Rice in her book Me? Three female authors — Dorothy McGuire, Carol Lewis and Alvena Blatchley — even praised a woman for staying with a man who tried to murder her. Correct interpretations of scripture are debated in ways not dissimilar to those in the Koran; there is disagreement over translation, hermeneutics, exegesis, the relevance of the culture in which it was written, the then-radical attitudes of acceptance Christ expressed towards women and the role of women in the early church.

These debates hit peak expression in the latter half of the 20th century as most mainstream Christian denominations moved to ordain women to the priesthood, to equal positions to men. Today, those churches in Australia that do not have women priests include the Catholic, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, and the influential Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church.

Some of these groups have responded to the expansion of women's role elsewhere by restricting it further in their own ranks.

'Submit to your husbands': Women told to endure domestic violence in the name of God

Today, it is clear proponents of headship intend to teach a form of self-sacrificial love — for a man to be head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, and to sacrifice himself to his wife in the same way. But there remains some confusion about what submission actually means.

Inprominent American evangelical pastor John Piper, a frequent visitor to Sydney, was asked, "What should a wife's submission to her husband look like if he's an abuser?

domestic abuse relationship stories in the bible

Almost four years later, he issued a " clarifying statement " in which he called on men in the church to discipline abusers, and uphold "a beautiful vision" of marriage where men lead with gentleness. Another influential pastor James Dobson has in the past advised women to bait their abusive husbands to goad them into behaving badly, which he believed would shock them into realising they had a problem and agree to counselling. InAmerican pastor Steven J Cole concluded in a sermon that "a wife may need to submit to some abuse".

My view is that a wife must submit to verbal and emotional abuse, but if the husband begins to harm her physically, she needs to call civil or church authorities.

In Sydney, as recently asDavid Ould, the rector of Glenquarie Anglican Church — also active in the conservative Anglican Church League — asked if it might be "a Godly wise choice" for women to stay with abusive husbands given the Bible teaching in 1 Peter 3, telling wives to submit to their husbands. These verses follow on from those in 1 Peter 2 that tell slaves to submit to masters — even those who are harsh, or, in other words, physically violent.

Ould, who now works to protect women in his parish and region from domestic violence, later clarified his comments. He told ABC News his central message was: Anglican counsellor from Charles Sturt University Nicola Lock, who has been working with domestic violence cases for 25 years, says the use of headship theology in spousal abuse is "very common". Any suggestion of its abuse usually evokes vehement rebuke and defence from senior clergy. Ministers who uphold headship say their teachings are just being confused with patriarchy, and twisted by those who abuse power.

Those who uphold "egalitarian" views of marriage in this diocese report being sidelined, overlooked for jobs and ostracised. Some told ABC News they could not publicly state that they believed in equal relationships between men and women, for they would lose their jobs. And as domestic violence advocate Barbara Roberts points out, in conservative churches women are often taught that desire to overthrow male authority is a sign of sin — thereby making feminism innately wrong.

In other words, if male authority and leadership is from God, any challenge to that is from women's sinful natures — or the devil. Kara Hartley is the Archdeacon for Women in the Diocese of Sydney and deputy chair of a taskforce looking into church responses to domestic violence. The main perpetrators of abuse are husbands and boyfriends, although it is important to note that men can also be victims of abuse by their partner.

As such, it is critical for the church to break the silence on domestic abuse and advocate for the end of gender-based violence. What does the Bible say about abuse? How do we reconcile the God of the Bible, who at times seems to promote violence, with our experience of domestic abuse? Scripture is often used to keep women silent about their experiences of domestic violence, to urge them to stay with an abusive partner, and even to justify abuse.

domestic abuse relationship stories in the bible

But the Bible is clear that God opposes those who oppress, marginalize, and abuse others. The Bible views all forms of domestic violence as sin Mal.

The story of Abigail in the bible and how it pertains to domestic violence: - Choices and a Voice

Even in troubled relationships where one is provoked, the Bible speaks out against responding with violence Eph. He was particularly concerned about women and children, who were often considered less important, and made vulnerable by oppression and abuse. Jesus reminds us that the vulnerable are violated by the denial of justice. This is why Jesus stops the stoning of the woman under suspicion of adultery John 8: Men had the power and privilege in family and societies in biblical times, and still do today in many situations.