Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19 NIV)
Those of us who have rabbits as pets would be familiar with their thumping behavior. When a rabbit thumps its hind legs, it is usually to warn its animal or human companions of danger or simply an expression of frustration or anger. Depending on the rabbit’s body language, understanding what it is trying to communicate is easy. If a rabbit appears on alert and tense, it is a clear signal of possible danger. If it appears annoyed, it is telling us, "I don’t like what you are doing" or "I will not be ignored."
Sometimes, our behavior differs little from that of the rabbits. We are willing to look out for the interests of others at times but not always. Once in a while, in our anger or frustration we may get careless with our words and thump at another or our spouse with our unreasonable expectations. One of the most worrying trends prevalent today is domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.
"Domestic violence is a huge problem not only in our communities but tragically in our churches as well," said Dr. George O. Wood in the video Sin by Silence at ChristianityToday.com. "There are more victims in our churches than we would care to admit and it is time to courageously intervene in this plague on our nation. Abusive behavior in our homes and families is simply unacceptable."
According to an article at ForYourMarriage.org, women often stay with their abusers because of fear. They are afraid the abuser will become more violent if they try to leave. Some fear they will lose their children, while many believe they cannot make it on their own.
"I left with my three daughters several times, but he'd always track us down," said Brenda, a victim of domestic violence sharing her story at Heart-2-Heart.ca. "By the final year of our marriage, my life had deteriorated into a nightmare of fear, pain and despair, and I didn't know how to help for myself."
Abusive men tend to be jealous, possessive and easily angered, wrote the author of the article at ForYourMarriage.org. Typically, they blame their partner for the abuse, saying, "You made me do this." Alcohol and drugs are also common causes of domestic violence.
Conflicts are inevitable in every intimate relationship. Nevertheless, we can come before God to iron out our dissensions and differences toward a healthy conflict resolution. Beyond that, however, we need to understand that domestic violence is not mere marital conflicts and such has no place in a healthy relationship. If there is any abusive behavior in our homes or families, we should not be afraid to sound out to our pastors or to seek help.
The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Colossians 3:19; Ephesians 5:25). A marriage relationship is a covenant and should always be one of love and care (Malachi 2:14-15; 1 Peter 3:7). If there is anything we need to caution the other, therefore, let us do so out of love to forewarn against hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, dissensions, drunkenness and the like. For whoever lives like this and practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). Thumping to express displeasure or demand obedience is not the way to go, for God hates those who love violence (Psalm 11:5).
Dear Lord, we pray for families to live in love without abuse or violence. We ask O God for those under abuse not to remain in silence and for Your comfort and care to lead them to the help they need. Forgive us Lord if we are the abuser, and correct us in the way You would have us change from our violent ways. Tame our anger Lord and fill us with Your love, just as You loved the church and gave Yourself up for her. Renew us in spirit and mind Lord that we may be set free from our old ways to live anew to bear the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Sin by Silence