The numbers are staggering. About 40% of women in California endure domestic violence in their lifetime. And unfortunately, many times children observe the physical and emotional abuse that these women experience.
As believers in Christ, we must base our response on what the Bible teaches and what we know about God’s character.
First, we know that God is a rescuer. In Exodus 20:2, He says, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” And we know that the Father sent Jesus to rescue and deliver us from our sins. Clearly, God cares, and it’s His will to help those who are in trouble:
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
— Psalm 9:9
If God helps those in trouble, shouldn’t we too?
Also, understand that abusive, dysfunctional relationships aren’t God’s best for us. In fact, Ephesians 5:25-33 teaches that the marriage relationship is supposed to reflect the relationship between Jesus and The Church (His Bride). This relationship should be one of mutual love, self-sacrifice and respect. When domestic violence occurs between a married or unmarried couple, it breaks God’s heart, and it should break ours as well.
So if someone finds themself in an abusive relationship, what should they do?
First, determine whether it was a one-time incident or if there’s a consistent pattern of the abuse. If the former, then perhaps some couple’s counseling would suffice; if the latter, then more drastic decisions may need to be made such as separation or even divorce. Understand that God doesn’t want anyone to stay in an unsafe situation and continue to be abused. Seek advice from a counselor, trusted religious leader, or social services resource and set some boundaries.
If you’re the abuser:
Realize that there is help and forgiveness. Admit that you need help; find support with managing your anger; enlist a mentor who can help you be accountable and can encourage and pray for you. Remember, “… if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).
What do we do if we know someone is in an abusive situation?
First, we should pray for wisdom, asking God to help us know how to help. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives….” We can then reach out to the victim in love, expressing our concern and letting them know that God cares and wants them to be safe and rescued. They may be scared about making the situation worse, but assure them that God will take care of them. Speak with your own pastor or clergyman about resources that you can share with them, and don’t be afraid to participate in God’s rescue plan.
Although praying is never a bad idea, Christians can make a tangible difference by volunteering, or by giving money, clothing, or food to local organizations and ministries.
The truth is, when we reach out and rescue others, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40).
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the author does not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Serving California.