By Irene Webster
Have you ever been hurt by your mate so much that you believe you have been abused? Have you ever hurt your mate so much that you may have abused them?
Well, in order to know the answer to whether you have been abused or been the abuser you need to know there is a fine line between control and abuse which most people do not understand. At the root of the problem many people simply do not understand how to love by giving others a choice. Instead, our fallen human nature tries to make others do what they want, often through intimidation and control.
So, let’s consider abuse from a biblical perspective scripture. Ephesians 5:23: (KJV) 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. The Bible says the husband is the head of the wife. The Greek translation for head is Kephale meaning source, or head as in a river because he was the beginning prior to woman’s creation, a spring…
But let me say this, biology proves a head’s purpose is to serve to empower the life of the body for full function. Being the head or source, a husband did not have the right to control and to assume he owns his wife. Source does not mean ownership. Source only means where she started, source as a life-giving beginning. Just as Eve was taken out of Adam, she was now an independent person, given the right to choose. Just as God gives us choices so must spouses give their mates choices.
In healthy relationships each person respects, honors and loves giving the other room to choose. No one should be a robot controlled by someone else’s wishes. Controlling someone’s actions does not allow love to bloom. In fact, when that type of authority is in position someone will always be oppressed, miserable, dissatisfied and often angry. Plus, controlling behavior also shows the controller is not deferring to God. If they did submit to God, their actions would reflect love because God gives choices, and is love, and love overcomes evil with good, not control.
In a marriage where one mate is not submitted to the other, selfishness rules. Again, love alone is the answer. I know because my experience with my husband of 19 years was a good one. He did not always do what I wanted, and I did not always do what he wanted but we tried to submit to one another because we foremost loved God and each other. This kind of love always overcame defiance, unruly, selfish attitudes. God’s love for us was our foundation bringing balance because of God showed us how to differ to one another through His own Son’s life example.
It was because my husband followed Christ’s servant example he was loving, kind, patient, and respectful to me. In fact, we prayed together daily, morning and night seeking to please God and one another. However, since his crushing death I did remarry a man whose main mode of operation was manipulation and control. His mindset was to dominate his wife at all costs. He was raised this way, plus his basic sin nature caused him to pursue his own controlling, selfish manners finally resulting in abuse and ensuing divorce.
So, I speak from experience when I say that being the head does not mean God wants us to control others. God’s intent was for the husband to only take a position of directive behavior, re-directing, lovingly suggesting, and yes, even letting the other do wrong, by choosing their own often destructive path.
That’s what the father did with the prodigal son Luke 15:11-32. That’s what the prophet Hosea did with his promiscuous wife Gomer. By the way, Gomer means “completion,” that is, the filling up of the measure of idolatry, or ripeness of consummate wickedness. Despite her wicked ways, Hosea let her choose how she could live and this is what God does with us. He allows us to choose whether we will submit to our spouse and stay in a situation that sometimes isn’t what we want but may change with God’s help.
It is a God type of love which overcomes evil with good and ultimately wins. This is what Jesus has done for the Church. Jesus laid down him own life for his bride so she could have life and life more abundantly.
Let me say here just tolerating abuse in its many forms can allow it to escalate and does not solve the problems associated with a dysfunctional marriage. Truly, one doesn’t have to stay in this kind of marriage. There is grace and mercy in situations of abusive marriages. After all God is not a God of confusion and His Scripture says:
Malachi 2:16 Amplified Bible (AMP) 16 “For I hate [a] divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment (wife) with wrong and violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore, keep watch on your spirit, so that you do not deal treacherously [with your wife].”
Biblically, there is a place for separation and even divorce. Don’t let other well-intentioned Christians pressure you to stay in a potentially dangerous situation. God does not intend for you to stay in a relationship which is dangerous to your soul, body, and possible children out of shame or false religious guilt. He loves you too much.
I’ve said all this to simply put it this way, making a man the head of the home and assuming he has the right to control and make all the decisions puts him in a dangerous position because it tends to bring out the worst in an individual. I have even experienced that with my precious, deceased C. J. In the first few years of our young Christian life and marriage, I submitted to him completely, always accepting he would make the major decisions, even consulting him on minor daily decisions.
From what I read in the Bible I believed I should submit to my husband to be a good wife. Sadly, he made some very serious mistakes costing us literally millions of dollars because he refused to pray with me for an answer even after I warned him. He, too, believed that he had the sole right to make decisions for our family. However, it was because of those bad, independent decisions I now know dominant behavior does not create a positive environment for unity, growth, and love. Plus, unless there is a check and balance, two united people proving God’s will, serious consequences often result. Dominant male behavior can bring out the basest nature and can potentially destroy relationships. I personally believe it’s too much to put on one person and this is why God gave man a companion, created in God’s own image.
I believe God’s intent for marriage is between two individuals contributing their own special abilities, deferring to each other, thus bringing marital balance and unity.
One such personal example was when CJ and I had to decide concerning our daughter’s health. As we submitted to one another in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to show us what doctor was to do her back surgery the Lord showed up by revealing to us both at the same time one doctor’s name out of a list of 15. And, as it turned out that doctor successfully fused our daughter’s back and kept her from a life-threatening deformity. That doctor was a praying Christian man who is a friend to this day. Prior to that we couldn’t have united like that because of our biblical misconceptions resulting in some willful, opinionated, bad decisions. However, we finally learned God would help us decide what to do. When we sought God’s help solutions came. Always. Despite the fact we were two opinionated, strong-willed, smart people that both thought they knew best, we learned to allow God to become our referee.
It was God’s example of love through His own Son, Jesus Christ which shows us how to submit to one another. We discovered by spending time in God’s Word, praying together, listening, and obeying God’s laws through putting each other’s needs first, marriage could very good for us both. We discovered because of our mutual love and respect for God it was possible to love and respect one another. Just as a covenant it takes two people giving freely to the other. But a true covenant marriage is empowered by a man’s selfless love for his wife just as Christ’s love is not self-centered and doesn’t seek its own.
I leave you with this scripture as a reminder of how we are to conduct ourselves in a relationship:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Amplified Bible 4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things, (regardless of what comes), believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
If you are having trouble in your marriage and want God to help you, pray this prayer with me today, won’t you?
Dear Father, I know I am a sinner, and I need forgiveness for the selfish ways I have treated my spouse. Right now, I choose to forgive my mate and I ask you to forgive him or her for all the things they have done that have hurt me. God show us how to love one another and give us a new start. Teach us how to lay down our own will for each other, fill our home with love, and with your precious Holy Spirit. Help us obey your Word and make us whole.
In Jesus name I pray. AMEN