07/24/2015 § Leave a comment
By Danni Moss (1964-2010)
A Repost from her blog “Because it Matters – Freedom from Abuse in Christianity”
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
This question was asked here and I know the person who asked it is one voice out of many, many more who are wondering the same thing. The answer is both simple and complex.
For the simple answer, God does not want you to remain in an abusive marriage. But before you run out the door, be sure you read the complex part of the answer, too.
Jesus stated the purpose of His coming in Luke 4: 18-19:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus came for the purpose of healing the brokenhearted, delivering captives, and liberating those who are bruised. That perfectly describes the condition of someone who is being abused in their marriage. Jesus came to rescue people from abusive relationships!
OK, I just heard a whole bunch of “wait a minute…” voices from readers. 😉 Go with me here a minute. The church has reduced Jesus’ purpose to saving souls from eternal damnation. Do you see that in this verse? Certainly it could be considered to be part of Jesus’ stated Luke 4 mission. But why do we limit Jesus’ purpose to less than what the Word plainly states?
Nowhere in the Word is there a place where God applauds or supports abuse. In fact, abuse is inherently opposite to God’s nature. If believers are made new creatures in Christ and partakers in His nature, how can we possible justify or excuse abusive behavior by someone bearing the name “Christian?”
If we assume an abusive spouse is not a believer (which may, in fact, be supportable by Scripture) is a Christian abused partner expected by God to remain in that abusive relationship? The answer is still no. A Christian does not enable another person to continue in sin. By remaining in an abusive marriage, a Christian sends the message that the abusive behavior is acceptable – and affirms the abusers sin.
Here comes the complex part, however. God does not want you to remain in an abusive marriage. But there is also a process for addressing the abuse. If there is physical violence, even just occasionally, an abused spouse needs to call local domestic violence support and carefully, but quickly, get outside the home into a safe place. In this situation, further Biblical steps need to occur from a position outside the same home as the abuser. If there is not physical danger, all but the final step of dealing with an abusive spouse can take place without physical separation.
So what are the steps to dealing with an abusive spouse?
First, I think we are all called to bring every detail of our lives to God for His insight and timing. Almost without exception (I’d say without exception but maybe there could be one) we need to clean our own slates first. As abused spouses we need to maintain first an attitude of, “Lord, change me.” God uses our difficult circumstances to teach us things we would not learn otherwise. So we must appreciate God’s process, even in exposing our own places that need to be refined and conforming us to the image of Christ while we are dealing with an abusive spouse.
Second, we have to maintain a humble spirit, remembering that God loves us all equally. It is easy to get a prideful and judgmental spirit. We have to remember that every person is created in the image of God, even this abuser, and so is worthy of basic human respect. Gal. 6:1 says,
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Third, Matthew 18:15-17 outlines a very specific process for dealing with an offender, which would include marital abuse.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
So we must first learn how to respectfully address the abuse within our marriage and establish correct boundaries. This is a learning process that can take months.
If the abusive spouse does not change when confronted privately, the abused spouse is to take a couple witnesses to confront the abuser again. These witnesses should be people the abuser respects and that the abused spouse can trust. At this point, I believe professional counseling is in order. A professional counselor can, in fact, be that witness. Another of the witnesses should be pastoral church leadership. This can be problematic because pastors don’t know how to address abuse correctly. But at least give the church the opportunity to do the right thing.
If abuse continues, the Word says the issue should be told to the church. This step is almost impossible to fulfill in the modern church. Pastors generally won’t allow it because they do not understand the Word on the subject. So, the abused spouse should attempt to press the pastor to allow this step, but if the pastor refuses, the abused spouse may need to move on to the final step.
The final step is removal from the relationship. Matthew 18 says to separate from the unrepentant offender. I Tim. 5:8 says a man who does not provide for his family (provision = financial, spiritual, emotional protection and leadership) has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. God calls an unrepentant abusive spouse an unbeliever. That is not my judgment; it is God’s. I Cor. 5:11 says believers are not to associate with, are not even to eat with, a person who is verbally abusive (“railer”). And I Cor. 7:13-15 says that if an unbelieving spouse removes (walks away from the marriage covenant – which can include staying in the house but leaving the relationship) himself from the marriage, the believing wife is to let him go. It may seem backwards for the believing wife to leave – but we have to remember that the “leaving” happens when a spouse does violence to his house (Mal. 2:13-16). The believing wife who removes to safety is not the one who abandoned the relationship.
Some will say removal from the relationship should be for an open-ended period of separation (which could be permanent if there is no repentance); others recommend divorce. I recommend you have a relationship with God whereby you allow Him to direct you because there is not a universal answer at this point. It may very well be that the only way to secure safe custody of children and spousal support for those children is through divorce. This is not out of line. And if the abusive spouse chooses to remarry that will certainly be the final nail in the door to possibility of reconciliation – a choice made by the abuser, not the victim of abuse who took the necessary, and Biblically supported, steps to address an abusive spouse.
God offers hope, not a lifetime sentence, to abuse victims. If you are in an abusive marriage you need to 1) get support for yourself that will stand by you throughout, 2) be willing to take the time to work through the Biblical process, and 3) stay on your face with God throughout the process, asking Him to change you. As hard as it is, this can be the fire that makes you into the person God desires you to be. It is hard and seems far too long in the process, but God is faithful and He does work all things together for good for those who love Him.
Copyright © Danni Moss
Mossman-Tucker, Danni (2009). Does God Want Me to Stay in an Abusive Marriage? Weblog – Because it Matters – Freedom from Abuse in Christianity. Retrieved July 24, 2015 from https://dannimoss.wordpress.com/articles/abuse-in-the-christian-home/does-god-want-me-to-stay-in-an-abusive-marriage/
09/29/2013 § Leave a comment
One of the most difficult things that my wife and I have had to do recently is to be involved in the process and decision to put down my father-in-law’s dog. The decision came after the realization that the dog could no longer walk on his own without assistance, and it was causing Dad a great deal of stress and strain from the lifting and moving of the dog from indoors to outdoors, and back again. The dog was suffering from degenerative nerve damage from his spine, and the medication that he was taking was not working anymore. For the first time that I can remember, I saw Dad become emotional because he knew that the dog was suffering and had to go (he couldn’t use the words “put down” himself), and that he was losing his friend and companion of just over 15 years.
Deep down, I knew that we would be involved with Dad managing the health care of his dog this year, and we knew that the end was approaching, but we just didn’t know the exact day or time. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s tough to prepare for it, and knowledge that it will eventually happen doesn’t make it any less emotional or painful.
Each of us has had moments like this one where the inevitable becomes evident, and there is an adjustment process that we must go through during the transition. Life is a series of transitions within groupings of situations and circumstances, and our challenge is successfully navigating through these transitions with steadiness and grace, and not just from our own perspective, but in reflecting a positive demeanor and presence before others. If you are looking at this from a selfless perspective, you will certainly understand the value of living a Christlike existence and as a Christlike example before others who do not know Jesus Christ as a personal Savior.
This message is about developing your ability to deal with the many changes that you will experience throughout your lifetime. With the recognition that not everyone handles change in the same way, or even very well, there are valuable lessons that are embedded within these experiences. It’s up to each of us to recognize them. I will present information to support facts that the more you rely upon God’s perspective through these changes, the more that you will feel His supernatural presence in the midst of the change and the extraordinary ability to see and successfully navigate through these changes with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So what does this mean for those of us who have a difficult time with change? It’s one thing to be completely surprised and caught off guard with a situation, and it’s another to see it coming, but our responses can be strikingly similar in both instances. Whether you know something is coming or not, we are to draw upon the peace and comfort of Almighty God as we meet these challenges.
I will cover four points about change today. Two of them are obvious to each of us, while the last two are dependent upon the response of the individual. Before exploring these, consider Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Change is rooted within the passage of time.
1 There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
3 a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
6 a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
8 a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
With these verses in mind:
1. Change is inevitable
2. Change is necessary
3. Change is perspective driven
4. Change is an opportunity
First, change is inevitable. Without it, nothing can occur. From the time of God’s creation of the world through the passage of time to the world that we see today, the world has changed.
Long ago You established the earth,
and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
God is the author and orchestrator of all change.
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.
From your own perspective, you have changed physically from the time you were born and through your stages of childhood into adulthood. You have acquired knowledge as a preschooler through kindergarten, elementary and high school and through your job or profession. All of this involved change. Even most importantly, all of these changes had to occur to make you into the person that you are today. The verse that shows the wisdom and value of seeking knowledge speaks for itself.
The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks it.
Next, change is necessary. When you are young, you need to grow in knowledge and learn about life in order to function well and survive. Many achievements over time are based upon performance, and require focus and effort in the short and long term. Note the biblical truths that convey this message, especially when it comes to your growth as a believer in Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.
You do not have because you do not ask.
Growing up is a requirement if you plan to be successful, and growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary in your spiritual growth. When change occurs, your growth and maturity will equip you with the ability to trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit with confidence.
Stop here for a moment–let’s deal with the reality that many people simply do not like change. What does change represent for those individuals? Change represents a different, and sometimes uncomfortable movement to a place that may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. This has nothing to do with the end result of the change being good or bad for the person…it is the unfamiliarity of the situation that causes the discomfort. This can be a big deal for some because there is a comfort in things that you are familiar with, and that’s even if you don’t necessary like it. What we need to see in this discomfort is not the feeling itself, but the dependence that we truly have for God. This discomfort should spark a desire in us to seek God in prayer, for direction, for peace in our discomfort, and–most importantly, trusting Him in the results through faith.
1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. 2 For our ancestors won God’s approval by it.
20 He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, 24 but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, and not by sight.
This is where change, whether it is positive or negative, is all about your perspective.
If you are unable to reconcile with the reality of change and its inevitability, you may get stuck in the moment without seeing the blessings that occur during and after the change. I can’t stress enough that in moments where change is taking place, and there is movement from one situation or circumstance to the next, the believer in Jesus Christ must continually seek God in the process beyond the mere change to receive the full effects and the benefits of God’s place and position in the midst of the development. Ask God to show you, in the midst of change, what He wants to you to see in it instead of focusing only on your own perspective.
18 The Lord is near all who call out to Him,
all who call out to Him with integrity.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry for help and saves them.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Our responsibility in the change we experience is to remain loyal and faithful to God, and He will make known His presence in all things.
Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
To recap, we acknowledge that change is inevitable, it’s necessary, and it is perspective-driven. Now let’s explore the opportunity that is in the midst of change. With change, there is the opportunity to see things from a new perspective that you would not have observed without change, including how you see others that are also part of the change that you are experiencing. This can lead to opportunities for discussion as to how God has been in the midst of everything that has occurred.
In Acts, chapter 8, Philip listened to the direction of the Spirit and spoke to the Ethiopian about the Scriptures he was reading as to their meaning, and he was able to use the opportunity of that moment to lead the Ethiopian to Jesus Christ. The key points here are not just the conversion, but how Philip was listening to the Spirit and his availability to hear the Spirit’s direction. Don’t miss the lesson of hearing the Spirit speaking to you during change. It may not necessarily lead to converting someone to Christ, but it does mean that God will show, in your obedience to His Word, how you can be viewed as a person. Your greatest attributes will shine as you remain faithful to God. Your words of encouragement and affirmation will be well received, and it lays the groundwork for a opportunities to witness, both in the short and long term. This is all the more reason that we, as believers, need to be ready for those very moments.
1 Peter 3:15-16
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
To summarize, change is constant and inevitable, and it can be good or not very good for the person who is going through it; however, it is not to be feared or dreaded. Your perspective of change goes a long way in your ability to manage it, and it starts with seeing the change through God’s perspective. If you trust in Him completely, He will show you where you need to go and provide you with what you need to grow, learn and endure the experience. He will also show you how you can be a positive testimony for Him before others.
09/25/2011 § Leave a comment
Except for some tweets and posts on the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church blog, I’ve been quiet on my own blog pages for a little while. It’s been a busy summer—busier than I can remember for the summer months—and my wife and I were overdue for a break for a couple of weekends in September. With the break, there was time to reflect on the blessings that my wife, my family and I have, and how God has been more than evident in His presence in our lives.
It has become more evident that change is, more than ever, a prominent part of life. There has been unexpected change at my workplace (new boss), my wife’s workplace (yep, new boss), and at church (an elder resignation). Even with all of this, there is still cause for praise and worship for how God has given us the grace and ability to manage all of the changes and the surprising events. When my wife and I have talked about this, we readily agree that we don’t care much for change, let alone sudden ones. While we’re both thankful to be working and making a living, the changes are still unsettling and can be downright stressful! It’s often necessary for us to bring our work home and use “downtime” to still be productive and keep pace with everything that comes our way.
With everything moving so quickly, I have discovered that we need to remain continually focused on God and His Word every day, and remain open to the words and direction of the Holy Spirit everywhere we go, whether it is at work or in the car or at the grocery store. In fact, there is not a moment when we should feel comfortable without the input of the Holy Spirit, especially when things seem to be going well (Psalm 51:11).
When circumstances have taken place that you don’t always understand right away, it is always best to trust God for direction when you are unsure of your response (Psalm 3:5-6, 56:3-4). He is our comfort in the midst of uncertainty.
12/30/2009 § Leave a comment
As I was reflecting on this past year, it occurred to me that we are not only transitioning into a new year, but also a new decade. While the events of this year were much the same as riding an economic roller coaster, the past ten years of our lives were significantly changed by our economy, our world view and the world’s view of America, threats and attacks on our own soil, technology, and even how we buy and listen to music and watch television.
As much as we sometimes struggle with it, change is inevitable. In many ways, change is good for us. We don’t always see it that way. We don’t see change as a good thing if it results in two very important areas of our lives. We don’t like change when (1) it forces a change in our daily routine or (2) when it has us do something when we are not ready to do it. For example, if we could turn on the radio every day and know that our favorite radio station was there waiting for us for our listening enjoyment, we relish it and take comfort in it. It’s reliable, dependable, and we expect that it will be there when we want it…until one day, and sometimes without warning, there’s a programming change. The radio station, suddenly, is no longer playing the music you want to hear. Now it plays something completely foreign to you…some alternative classic rock format. When something like this happens, you experience a sense of loss. It is unsettling and you are no longer in a place of comfort; instead, you are scrambling for a radio station that will once again bring you into a place where you can gradually settle into a routine. There are certain areas of our life where change can unnerve us and we welcome stability. This past year, for many of us, 2009 was a clear example of unwelcome change in our lives.
Change is always difficult to reckon with. Being creatures of habit, we don’t accept change easily. The reality is that change occurs constantly. It is inevitable, and we cannot prevent it from happening. That is why change is often a mental wrestling exercise where you fight the change, but then, after seeing the futility of the struggle against it, grudgingly acquiesce to the reality of the circumstances pertaining to the change. Over the past year, and the past decade, changes took place in your life and your family, my life and my family, and our country and our world, and, whether you make the choice to accept these changes or not, each and every one of them were no surprise to God. God is aware of everything as the God who sees everything (El-Roi) all around us:
So she (Hagar) named the LORD who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “Have I really seen here the One who sees me?” That is why she named the spring, “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” It is located between Kadesh and Bered.
Since He is a God who has seen your every move, the changes in your life over the last year and beyond, we can make some conclusions about our God who sees us as we are—in our moments of strength, joy, anger, weakness, despair, and vulnerability. He has seen it all, and there is nothing that has not happened in our lives that He is not aware of.
First, we have to look to God as being all-powerful and all-knowing:
When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be devout.”
When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine that they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.
With God being in complete control of your life, He has to be aware of everything you know and experience. He knows your needs, and He has the power to guide, protect, and keep you through the winds of change.
Next, He is a God who provides for you in your times of need:
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. And Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the LORD’s mountain.”
Note that the Lord provides for us as we have faith and trust that He will do it. When we lack faith or trust in Him, we fail to see His provision.
How has your view of God affected your response to changes in the past year? In the past 10 years? In your lifetime? Is God a pivotal part of your life experiences, or has He merely been a peripheral figure that is only a part of areas of your life that you deem relevant? God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has so much to offer if we are only willing to let Him be a part of everything that we are involved in. This is an effort of allowing God’s will for your life to truly take hold. When you are operating in God’s will, since He sees and knows everything, the changes you experience will be considered normal. As God is not surprised by change, operating in His will gives you the comfort at those times when change is uncomfortable. This represents two more names of God that we can trust in—He is a God that provides peace (Yahweh-Shalom) and comfort. He is our Shepherd (Yahweh-Rohi).
The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
But the LORD said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it Yahweh Shalom. It is in Ophrah of the Abiezrites until today.
Since God does not change, His will also does not change. His will for your life has also not changed. His desire for you and your life is filled with promise and the expectation that if you trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ, you will receive the full benefits of His loving care, provision and protection (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Your outlook in 2010 has everything to do with how you believe God will work in your life. While we do not always see change coming nor are we prepared to deal with it, we can take comfort that our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing God is stable and consistent—in short, He has not changed (Malachi 3:6), and He does not change His mind (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:21).
Even with the many changes that we will inevitably experience, God’s plan for you, in the New Year, in the coming decade, is to be your Shepherd, your peace, your provision, your Almighty God who sees and knows it all before it even happens. Trust in Him to be all of these things for you, and you will have more than a Happy New Year. It will be a victorious one in Jesus Christ. It’s a change that all of us can live with.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.