If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times:
- A woman tells her pastor, Bible study leader, or friend, that her husband is abusive.
- That person tells her that adultery is the only Biblical grounds for divorce
- That person also gives the woman a wonderful story about “How God redeemed another awful situation, and God can do anything, so you should stay and fight and watch as God brings about a miracle in your marriage.”
- That person warns against leaving, because “God hates divorce.”
Just in case you don’t believe this actually happens, or think it’s really, really rare, Here, here, here, here, here, and here are a few examples….and that’s just the ones I found with a 5-minute search.
Brothers & sisters, I know that God can do miracles. I know God wants families to thrive. I know that there are a million stories throughout history of God changing hardened hearts.
But I also know for a fact: This advice is Satanic.
Yes, I said Satanic.
It is a variation of an argument used by Satan himself.
Let me explain.
I’ll give you some background first: Contrary to popular belief, abuse is not solely physical. The definition is as follows: (source)
Legal Definition of Abuse– Most states legally define domestic abuse around the concept of harm or threat of harm. This is concentrating on the tactics, not the goal of abuse.
In Washington State, for instance, the law defines domestic violence in two places: In RCW 26.50.010 it is defined as a) physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, of one family or household member by another, or b) sexual assault, or c) stalking, of one household family member by another.
RCW 10.99.020 states that “domestic violence includes but is not limited to any of the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another: assault, reckless endangerment, interfering with a 911 call, coercion, burglary, criminal trespass, malicious mischief, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, violation of a Restraining Order, restraining the person or excluding the person from a residence, violation of a Protection Order, rape.”
(Don’t worry, the “Satanic” explanation is coming. I know this is hard to read—I just want you to know a little more first.)
Behavioral (or Sociological) Definition of Abuse Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that an adult or adolescent uses to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
The goal of the violence is to decrease the survivor’s options.
The behaviors can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, spiritual, or the destruction of property and pets. Domestic violence is intentional behavior, employing a combination of actions that are unique to each primary aggressor, but similar in their goal.1
So, now that we’re clear, abuse by an intimate partner is the attempt to control another person, by fear, intimidation, psychological, emotional, financial, or spiritual means.
No two abusers are exactly alike, but we can count on one thing:
The abuse will escalate.
(No, that’s not the Satanic part, even though it is from the devil…but it is part of the explanation, so stay with me.)
“Escalation describes the process by which controlling behavior becomes more frequent, less disguised, more damaging, and closer to lethal over time.
Escalation occurs, in part, because the feeling of being in control is never stable for the primary aggressor.”
Regardless of how submissive, loving, or appeasing the survivor is, studies show that escalation is inevitable, because the abuser desires to control the victim, but never feels secure in that control. A look, a glance, a misplaced bottle of soda—all of that could rock the foundation of the supposed “control.”
(Please, Google “domestic violence escalation” and learn more about this subject)
So, if she stays, UNLESS GOD WORKS A MIRACLE, the overwhelming odds are that the abuse will increase, and the victim will be subject to greater violence.
Now, for the Satanic part.
In Matthew Chapter 4:5, Satan himself uses the same argument these well-meaning, but deceived, followers of Christ are using:
“5Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. 6“If You are the Son of God, he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written:‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strikeYour foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”…
Throwing yourself from the top of the Temple is stupid. It’s also impossible to survive unless God himself works a miracle, and sends some angels to deliver you.
Jesus says here that the Scripture specifically forbids us from putting God to the test, especially by doing stupid things that will otherwise kill us, and asking God to intervene.
So…why do we ask abuse victims to go back to a situation where they’re likely to end up in the hospital, or even dead?
I think it’s ignorance: people don’t realize how often abuse victims are killed by their partners. The number one cause of death in pregnant women is not death in childbirth. Rather, it’s being killed by the father of the baby.
Another reason is that abusers are very, very good con artists. They can convince a pastor or deacon or friend that they are REALLY, REALLY SORRY, and a victim who loves the abuser wants to believe it!
Or worse, abusers can convince their allies that the problem is really both of the spouses.
Some people genuinely want to please God, and say, “Well, the Bible only specifies divorce in the case of adultery, or if an unbelieving spouse leaves, so therefore, she has to stay & pray for God to work a miracle. It’s in the Bible. We follow the Bible to the letter.”
That’s the equivalent of sending someone back into a burning building because their lease says to take care of the appliances. “I’ve got to protect the dishwasher! It’s in my contract! I’ll lose my deposit!”
Would you yell, “Sure! Follow that lease to the letter!” Of course not!!
You’d yell, “Yes, you’ll lose your deposit! Which would you rather lose, your deposit, or your life?”
Yes, leaving probably means a messy divorce, a painful series of losses, a new place to live, and dealing with a lot of uncomfortable questions.
However, the alternative is living with the daily fear of the escalation—and that escalation will happen.
It’s only a matter of when.
God may have already provided for the victim’s deliverance: through you.
You can connect the victim to resources, to people with means to help her, or help her make a safety plan.
You can be an agent of hope, instead of repeating the lies of the enemy.