Does God Say an Abuse Victim Must Stay?
Many Christian abuse victims are given the message that God has ordained the suffering that they are experiencing, and that it would be a sin if they separated from or divorced their abuser. This belief keeps many victims trapped in unhappy marriages that can only be described as “hell on earth”.
So, what does the bible say about suffering? Doesn’t the bible say that all things work together for good for those who love God? (Romans 8:28) Pastor Jeff Crippen takes a look at this theological question in his post from May 21, 2012. Here is the link.
I will give you a quick summary of his major points. Jeff says that yes, God can bring good out of all things, and that includes suffering, even the suffering brought on by an abusive spouse. One of the “good things” that can be brought out of our suffering is the sanctification and spiritual growth of a Christian.
If this is the case, Jeff asks, shouldn’t we remain in any suffering that comes our way? He says an emphatic NO. WHY NOT? Because
“sometimes redemption comes in the form of exodus.”
“Take THE Exodus, for example, Israel’s redemption from cruel, abusive bondage in Egypt. God provided a way out and led His people through that way. The doorway of escape is also decreed by God, and therefore we can confidently use it. Sometimes there is no door, and in those times we patiently trust in the Lord to sustain us in suffering.”
There are several examples in the bible of people escaping from abuse:
- The early Christians fleeing from Jerusalem after Stephen had been martyred (Acts 8:1ff).
- Paul using his Roman citizenship to prevent a Roman soldier from beating him. (Acts 22:25).
- Christ Himself escaping from a mob in his hometown (Luke 4:30).
Pastor Crippen concludes: “So the principle seems to be stated by Paul as follows: (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB) No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
“In any test or temptation (the Greek word can mean either), God will not leave us in it beyond our ability to endure it. He provides a way of escape. And if He provides a door, we can safely assume that He intends for us to use it! Are you in an abusive <relationship>? We aren’t talking about a <relationship> that has problems and difficulties. But if you are in a <relationship> to a person that is characterized by a profound sense of entitlement to possess power and control over you and who feels quite justified in using abusive tactics to maintain that power and control, and if there is a way of escape — you have every right to take it. Such ‘doors’ will no doubt look a bit different in different situations: separation, divorce, getting help, calling the police — but if the door is there, it is meant to be used. Anyone who tells you differently is akin to a person who insists it is God’s will for you to stay in a burning building when a perfectly good fire escape is right in front of you. ‘No, thank you sir. You can stay here and roast. But I’m outta here!’”
In conclusion, Pastor Crippen believes that if God gives you a means of escaping the abuse you are experiencing, it isn’t a sin to take it. I agree.
Question: If you are currently in an abusive relationship, what types of open doors have you seen, that perhaps you have not yet walked through?
I pray any of you who find yourselves in this situation right now will take steps to find the help that you need. Check out my Get Help page which includes many helpful links, books and phone numbers.
If you are in a Christian community that insists you remain with your abuser, possibly all this community needs is some education about domestic violence. Please click here to check out a Domestic Violence Guide that teaches church leaders about the dynamics of DV and educates them on how to help those who experience it.
May God give you eyes to see open doors, and the courage to walk through them.