Violence is to be found everywhere. Just before the Flood, God says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” (Gen 6:11) Violence was and is adhered by God. “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”
And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. For Jesus, whose name the Church professes and whose life it tries to exemplify, violence is not an appropriate human response to conflict.
Two little boys were fighting in the bedroom. When their mother entered, one boy quickly announced, “Mom, it all started when he hit me back.” Domestic violence is found in families of all economic levels, among all professions, among all educational levels, among all races, and in all parts of our world. No one is immune!
When one family member suffers violence it effects all family members. It is almost always an adult who is the perpetrator. And of those it is usually but not always the male who is the aggressor. Minors, who have little or no influence in decision-making and are incapable of self-protection, are often victims of violence.
I was in a store recently where a mother and her two children were shopping. One of the children misbehaved, as children often will do in public. The mother yelled at the child in a voice that could be heard across the store. She used language that was inappropriate. Then she slapped the child several times (hard) around the shoulders. Abigail Van Buren once wrote about a woman who listened to a mother verbally destroy her child. The woman told the mother, “I’ll give you a dollar for him.” Only then did the mother realize the value of her child.
Now I firmly believe in discipline. PRO 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. My children can give you a vivid recall of when they were corrected. Their story sounds like going to the guillotine. However it corrected the problem and showed them love in the middle of pain. It was done in a way that preserved dignity and allowed grace.
The abuse of a child is scripturally never acceptable. To physically abuse a powerless child is a sin. PSA 11:5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. God defends the innocent. The child may endure the abuse. But God will deal harshly with the abuser. The cost may even be their soul. To sexually take advantage of a child is a sin. Jesus said it best, if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father. Bruce Larson tells of going to Florida for a family reunion. As they were driving down the road they saw a sign that said “Naturists Convention.” They thought it said “Naturalists Convention,” and thinking that might be interesting they turned and drove in. They all soon learned that “naturist” is another term for “nudist,” and they had driven into a nudist gathering. Before long they spotted a group of nudists riding bicycles. One of the grandchildren was the first to spot the group, and he cried out, “Look Mom and Dad! They don’t have safety helmets on!” That was what they had trained him – always wear a safety helmet when you ride your bike – so that was what he saw when he looked at the scene. Our perceptions are based so much on what we already think or learn, that sometimes we overlook the obvious as we focus on what we expect to see. Sexual offenders most generally were victims. Courageous is the Christian victim who can rise from these ashes to stop the cycle.
Leslie Wetherhead recalled a woman who received a letter from a soldier she did not know. His name was Murray, and he wrote from the battlefield. Murray wrote that he had once been in her Sunday School class, and she had spoken about Christ as a hero for the boys. He mentioned the date when this woman’s words had altered his whole life’s perspective. She had kept a diary, so she turned to see her entry for the date Murray had mentioned. She learned that she had come home that particular Sunday discouraged, and thought about giving up teaching. The entry read: “Had an awful time. The boys were so restless. I am not cut out for this kind of thing. I had to take two classes together. No one listened, except, at the end, a boy from the other class called Murray seemed to be taking it in. He grew very quiet and subdued, but I expect he was just tired of playing.” The shadow of the woman who was a Sunday School teacher fell across a boy’s life and made a lasting impression.
The abuse of a spouse is scripturally never acceptable. Abuse comes in a wide array of ways, physical, mental, verbal, emotional, spiritual, sexual and even absence. The Church teaches that marriage is to be a permanent relationship. The Church discourages divorce. And all of this rightly so! The Church has to help build the home and help couples and families to understand commitment and its importance.
Here is where our scriptural ignorance sometimes does us harm. Since Jesus only talks about divorce being acceptable in terms of adultery, we feel trapped. Since Paul talks about the wife being submissive to the husband, she thinks that it is God’s will to live this way. But neither could be farther from the truth.
When Paul and Peter both talk about the wife being submissive they put the condition on the husband that he must love his wife as Christ loved the Church. Someone with that much love does not abuse another person. Paul dedicates the entire 7th chapter of First Corinthians to marriage. He deals with marriage, remarriage, being single and never married, and being widowed. 1CO 7:15 God has called us to live in peace.
It was a 99′ September day in San Antonio, when a 10 month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth. It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free. Was he heralded a hero? He said, “The lady was mad at me because I broke the window. I just thought, What’s more important – the baby or the window?” Sometimes priorities get out of order, and a Fred Arriola reminds us what’s important.
If your life or the lives of your children are in danger leave. If the abusing spouse is unwilling to deal with the problem of abuse, leave. God has called us to live in peace.