Many people think that the Bible has very little to say about abuse.
Quite often, if we as victims approach and confide in an member of
our ecclesia, an RB or AB, hoping for some support and encouragement,
we can leave feeling even more guilty and trapped than we did formerly.
We may be told that the abuse is due to our own lack of submissiveness,
or our own sinfulness, that we would not suffer if our faith was greater,
or that we will be rewarded in the next life for the suffering we experience
in this one. We may simply not be believed and often are told that no
matter what the circumstances at home, it would be worse to leave our
husband or wife - as though it were better to die at the hands of their
abusive spouse than to seek a separation and protection for the children!
When talking to ecclesial members we have to realise that understanding
of Domestic Abuse is still in its infant stages in many Churches, and
our ecclesias are not generally an exception, and that the majority
of people still hold basic misconceptions regarding the dynamics of
an abusive relationship and have formed their opinions less on what
Scripture says, and more on those myths generally held in society. An
added hurdle is the mistaken belief that such things may happen "in
the World", but not in a good Christadelphian home!
The question, however, for each of us. should not be what does our
ecclesia say about our situation, but what does the LORD say to us in
the Bible, according to which both our ecclesia should be based, and
more importantly, according to which we, as individuals, should try
The Bible condemns violence and violent men
Many passages in the Bible speak out on the issue of violence, and
GOD's attitude toward those that repeatedly use violence:
Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and
him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Zephaniah 1:9 In the same day also will I punish all those that
leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence
Psalms 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait
upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
Malachi 2:16-17 “I hate [...] a man’s covering his
wife with violence, as well as with his garment.” says the Lord
Almighty...."You have wearied the Lord with your words.”
“How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying “all
who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with
them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”. (NIV
In a similar way, 'wrath' or anger is condemned as being sinful, as
is sexual abuse:
James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be
swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication (note: that is to say, sexual
immorality, including sexual abuse), and all uncleanness, or covetousness,
let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not
convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous
man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ
and of God
What the Bible says about Verbal Abuse
Scripture also shows us that the very words we speak can be considered
as a form of violence:
Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence
covereth the mouth of the wicked.
Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life:
but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
Matthew 5:21,22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old
time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger
of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without
a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say
to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever
shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire
As followers of Christ we are encouraged to consider everything we
say to one another, whether it stands the test of being for the benefit
of the hearer - verbal abuse surely does not qualify:
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your
mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may
minister grace unto the hearers.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth
not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and
clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
The LORD sympathises and offers comfort to those who are afflicted
The LORD does hear our prayers, He does care when we cry. He is there
to comfort, guide us and heal us.
Psalms 18:48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest
me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me
from the violent man.
2 Samuel 22:28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine
eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
Psalms 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction
of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when
he cried unto him, he heard.
Psalms 140:12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of
the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
Psalms 72:14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence:
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
Psalms 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Psalms 103:6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for
all that are oppressed.
Psalms 146:7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which
giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
The Ecclesia has a responsibility to hold abusers accountable
and to help victims
Firstly, the ecclesia - and each individual follower of Christ - has
a responsibility to offer comfort and help to those who are oppressed
(by their partner), needy (of reassurance and protection), weak (due
to the constant onslaught of abuse) and in distress.
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's
burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and
the feeble knees;
Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them;
and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Proverbs 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the
cause of the poor and needy.
Jeremiah 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness,
and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no
wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow,
neither shed innocent blood in this place.
Genesis 42:21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty
concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when
he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress
come upon us.
Isaiah 35:3,4 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold,
your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he
will come and save you.
Secondly, the ecclesia also has a responsibility to hold the abuser
accountable, to admonish him, to judge (that is, to investigate and
discern right from wrong) and to encourage the abuser to change his/her
Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren,
that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able
also to admonish one another.
James 5:19,20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth,
and one convert him;
Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of
his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and
edify one another, even as also ye do
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that
are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient
toward all men.
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 Dare any of you, having a matter against
another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world
shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that
pertain to this life?
As the above verses indicate, we, today, are encouraged to show a sinning
Brother or Sister the error of their ways. In the Old Testament, those
who had the position of being the spiritual guides of the God's people
likewise had an obligation to warn those who were doing wrong of the
consequences that would ensue if they did not change their ways. The
words are non-compromising:
Ezekiel 3:17-19 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto
the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give
them warning from me.
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest
him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way,
to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but
his blood will I require at thine hand.
Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness,
nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast
delivered thy soul.
Thirdly, the manner in which the abuser is to be admonished (i.e. the
spirit in which to approach him/her) is also spelled out for us Not
one of us is perfect - our aim is not to condemn the person - whom Christ
has called - but to condemn the actions, and try to encourage recognition
of the sin, repentance and a change in ways:
2 Thessalonians 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish
him as a brother.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye
which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just
persons, which need no repentance.
We are to shun those that consistently oppress or wantonly harm others
Jesus laid out a clear and simple procedure to follow in the event
of dealing with an erring brother (or sister!):
Mat. 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against
thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he
shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more,
that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the ecclesia: but
if he neglect to hear the ecclesia, let him be unto thee as an heathen
man and a publican.
Those, who after several admonishings still stubbornly refuse to change
their ways, are to be 'marked' or 'put away' - they are to be 'shamed'
to the end that they realise the seriousness of their sin and repent:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the
covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs
go out of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that
is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater,
or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no
not to eat.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not
ye judge them that are within?
But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among
yourselves that wicked person.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother
that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received
2 Thessalonians 3:14,15 And if any man obey not our word by this
epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Note: in all our dealings and communication with someone who
has sinned, with an abuser in this instance, we have to remember that
the aim is ALWAYS to try to seek a change of heart and ways in them.
Hence it is also our duty to continuously encourage the abuser to face
up to his/her personal responsibility, to repent and to seek forgiveness,
and thereby be healed. Unrepentant, they are as the lost sheep in Christ's
Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep,
and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine,
and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth
more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that
one of these little ones should perish.
Scripture on how to treat each other
Christ has called us unto Peace, not fear, he has called us to follow
his example of serving one another, not dominating each other, he has
called us to Truth, not to deceit and hypocrisy. Christ has called us
to Love, not to abuse.
Eph. 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly
love; in honour preferring one another;
Colossians 3:12,13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy
and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have
a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither
in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on
thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live
peaceably with all men.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make
for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and
good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto
love and to good works:
1 Peter 3:8 Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another,
love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect,
be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of
love and peace shall be with you.