Abuse In The Name Of Submission?

Q. In Matthew, Jesus talked about ‘turning the other cheek’. Unfortunately, this has lead to abuses by those who would excuse and engage in abuse of their spouse in the name of ‘submission’. (Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands…). In domestic abuse cases, does the Bible suggest that a wife allow such actions or does she have recourse to defend herself?

A. While I’m not aware of any specific advice the Bible has for an abused wife, I do know of several places that advise husbands on how to treat their wives.

Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.

In Colossians 3:19 husbands are told to love our wives and not be harsh with them.

In 2 Peter 3:7 husbands are told to be considerate of our wives and treat them with respect.

A man who justifies abusing his wife or excuses another man for doing so is grossly misusing Scripture. In Matt. 5:39 the context is dealing with an evil person, not a loved one. And Ephesians 5:22 is about a wife yielding to the spiritual leadership of a loving and Christ centered husband.

From these passages it’s clear that the Bible prohibits a man from mistreating his wife. Although physical abuse is not a justifiable cause for divorce, there’s nothing in the Bible that requires a wife to remain in the physical presence of an abusive husband.

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