In the Bible, we never see the word ‘abuse’, but the term ‘oppression’ (meaning crushing or burdening someone by the abuse of power or authority) is everywhere. God designed the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman to be holy and sacred union connected and dedicated to God. However some men abuse that covenant, and step over the line into abusive behaviors both emotional and physical.
God’s design of marriage places the husband as the wife’s partner, lover, protector, provider, and spiritual leader, not her dictator. When your husband loves you like Christ loves us, there’s no room for being unkind or abusive. The husband is responsible for loving and treating his wife like he would treat Christ.
When a women is in an abusive relationship, she is likely to feel alone, mentally broken, and helpless. God, though, is still with these souls. He is ready to help guide them through this suffering to find light on the other side.
What the Bible Says About Abuse
In the Bible, all violence is considered an offence against God and against humanity. Scripture is full of condemnations of violence. Time and time again violence is associated with wickedness and condemned as “detestable to the Lord” (Psalm 11, Proverbs 3 & 10). Psalm 10 says: "His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity." These are not the type of men that God want us to be around, and He does not condone their behavior.
In particular, violence against women is condemned. In Jewish law, rape was viewed as equivalent to murder (Deuteronomy 22:26), as was pressuring a woman physically (Deuteronomy 22:25–27) or psychologically (Deuteronomy 22:28–29) into sex. The Bible recounts many stories of the horrific sexual abuse of women. In Old Testament narratives, rape is viewed as an “outrage”. The Bible uses the term “nebalah”. This is a term which only occurs 13 times in the Old Testament and is reserved for extreme acts of violation against God and human beings, including the rapes of Dinah, Tamar, and the woman of Bethlehem.
God is on the Victim's Side
It may seem obvious that the person who abuses is the sinner but some Christians have attempted to justify or excuse abuse using Scripture to back them up, however, this goes against the very nature of God, who is love. God is on the side of the oppressed and abused (Psalm 56). Even in troubled relationships were one is provoked, the Bible speaks out against responding with violence (Ephesians 4:26, Luke 6:45). The Bible views all forms of domestic violence as sin (Psalm 11:5, Colossians 3:19), including verbal abuse (Proverbs 12:18, Colossians 3:8), and exhorts us to protect ourselves from violent people (Proverbs 27:12, Proverbs 11:9). While not everyone has the ability to leave an abusive partner, it is not wrong to attempt to do so if possible, and the Bible encourages victims to seek safety (Proverbs 22:3, Luke 4:28-29, Matthew 18:15-17).
The scriptures clearly express God’s desire for a dramatic transformation of society for those who are burdened, marginalized, or unjustly treated (Luke 4:18-21, Proverbs 14:3, Matthew 9:13, Mark 3:4-5). Jesus refuses to play by the rules of violence and power (Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 26:52, Mark 10:41-45). This new revolution, which was modeled by Jesus, means that the powerful should give up their privilege to the vulnerable, the abuser should stop using violence against those powerless to resist, and the institution should stop ignoring the trauma of the abuse survivor.
A Prayer For the Abused
If you know someone who is being abused, encourage them to get to safety. It's important to also help start a dialog with Christ on the matter. With His guidance and strength, He can help end this cycle. Use this prayer to help get you started.
Gracious God, You created us in Your image and breathed life into us, a life You want us to live abundantly. We ask You to free those living with abuse physically, mentally or spiritually, from their oppression, so that they may walk in peace and enjoy a life full of Your blessings.
We pray that You open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to be more aware, outreaching, and supportive to people in abusive situations, so that they won’t feel alone and know that someone cares. Let us love them as You have loved us.
Be with the women who are in doubt about their intimate relationships. Give them clarity of mind and peaceful hearts so that they can make good decisions guided by Your love. Let them discern any abuse that exists so that they can learn to care for themselves with Your help.
Let those who are causing harm acknowledge that they are hurting another, so they can learn to abhor their own behavior and come to true repentance and amendment of life. Keep us all safe in our relationships. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We can see throughout the Bible that God is not passive about violence committed against women. God acts decisively and compassionately through Jesus to call all people to love mercy, act justly, and nurture healing and justice for everyone. There is no excuse for committing abusive behavior. It is a dark sin condemned by God, and He will not stand for it. Our Lord wants us to live a life that is full of love, care, compassion and kindness, just like Jesus shows us each day. Women deserve to live a life they are not afraid of. God is with them.