One in three women have suffered from domestic violence. There are no boundaries to it, and we should not be deceived into thinking that we do not have problems like this in the Church. From the pulpit to the pew, no man or woman is immune from the incidents of domestic violence. Because we have failed to recognize and address it as an issue, we have, by our silence accepted it as a part of the norms of society. And it is on the rise.
Domestic violence is seen as a thing of disgrace and shame to a woman and it affects her self esteem. Most of us in the church will readily accuse a woman of leaving her husband than a man of beating his wife, or neglecting her. We continually put pressure on the woman ‘submit’ to ‘improve on her behavior’ ‘not to leave her home or marital status’ ‘he will change’ or ‘because of the children’ without helping the woman set the right boundaries, and equipping the man to address violent behavior and build self control.
God has very specific views on violence: God has strong consequences on violence, especially violence that leads to the death of another person. He said in His word that the violent man who takes the life of another must be put to death. That was the Law. The consequences of the law may have changed as the years have gone by, with many reasons such as mental state of mind justifying acts of violence, but God did not (and still does not) take it lightly (Ex 20:12). That was the gravity of the consequences of violence to another man.
The scripture on that most of us are familiar with is ‘The kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent shall take it by force’. I encourage you to do a quick word search on the word ‘violent’ in the Bible to actually see God’s position about it.
When a man hurts his wife, he hurts himself: Adam’s wife was taken from the rib of Adam. God could have made the woman from the dust, and breathed life into her, just like He did to him, but He took her from his rib. I believe that this is very profound because that means that Adam’s wife is Adam. If Adam deals treacherously with his wife, Adam is dealing treacherously with himself. If Adam is violent with his wife, Adam is violent with himself. The two are one flesh.
Whenever you have the time, take two plain sheets of paper and glue them together. Wait for the paper to dry and then try to separate them. You will find out that it is very a difficult and painful process; and if by any chance you succeed, parts of one paper will stick to the other. It can never be as before. Some parts may even be torn completely in the process of trying to separate them, leaving holes on the paper. Once you are married, you are married. You become your spouse and your spouse becomes you. Even after separation, parts of you will remain with each other.
The blessing of the Lord can never be upon a man that is violent with his wife: I have observed in the chronic emasculation of our men by all kinds of forces. Our men are finding it difficult to make ends meet, find jobs, and even to settle down and raise their kids. It seems as if all kinds of forces are pulling our men down to make them less than who God intended them to be. Perhaps Adam, you are facing these limitations, and hitting the brick wall because of the way you treat Eve? You may not be a beater or batterer, but by your silence, are you helping your brothers that are? The Bible explicitly says that Husbands, deal with your wife with all wisdom, considering her as the physically weaker vessel so that your prayers will not be hindered. Our prayers are being hindered. We can do more, we can be more.
No matter who is at fault, God will hold the man accountable: Adam was given the responsibility of keeping the Garden of Eden, and he was held accountable when they broke the rules. The principle of delegation has not changed. No matter how much we trade blame or give excuses for our actions, God asked Adam. He will ask you, the man.
What can we learn from these events?
We have to take responsibility: As the Body of Christ, we need to take responsibility for ensuring that the family unit is preserved in righteousness, and not violence and bitterness. We cannot leave it to individuals to deal with the problem by themselves. The first thing we may have to do is to acknowledge the rising incidence of domestic violence in our society and by extension, the Church. The Church is the Pillar of Truth. God will hold us all accountable for burying our heads in the sand while His sons and daughters become instruments of the Enemy, and marriages are destroyed as a result of domestic violence.
Men need help as much as women: Many ministries, churches, and organizations have shelters and structures to help women facing domestic violence. This is laudable and should be encouraged. But everybody needs help. We are all victims of domestic violence. Our men need to be equipped to deal with their wives with all wisdom; to develop self control and build self esteem as well.
Treating your Spouse right needs to be taught: People behave badly because they don’t know better. Teaching our men and women is a proactive intentional process, just like teaching a child how to read and write. Some of our norms and old habits have to be unlearned, and it takes dedication and commitment to ensure that it happens.
Finally, we cannot silently look away as the Devil destroys men and women with the curse of domestic violence. The woman may be seen as the victim, but the ultimate victim is the man. He has become a victim of himself, his demons, and his past. A city without walls, so is a man without self control. By keeping silent and not demanding accountability from our men, and equipping them to take control of their lives and destinies through self control, we are building cities without walls. Anything comes in, anything goes. The cities will soon be invaded and taken over. Adam, where are you?