Daily Devotional for Monday October 15, 2007
Abuse in Marriage
(Ephesians 5:22, 25)
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" Ephesians 5:25
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. " Ephesians 5:22
Have you been abused in your marriage? There is not a more difficult issue that I have to deal with every day than abuse. People are abused in many ways. Physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and financial are the most common forms of abuse and can happen at every stage of life. Children are abused. Teens are abused. Adults are abused. The elderly are abused. This is such a sweeping, widespread issue that so many face in their life I could do an entire month of Devotionals on just this one topic alone. I have dealt with abuse many times over the years. Just earlier in the year I dealt with the sexual abuse of children. However, today I want to focus strictly on those who are in an abusive marriage.
One of the dark secrets in the church is the amount of abuse that takes place in so many homes, from pastors and those in leadership down to the person in the pew. Remember, these are not homes of people who deny God's existence, reject the Bible as Truth, or have rejected the love of Christ. These are homes of people who do believe in God, do believe the Bible is Truth, and do believe in Jesus! These are also homes where one spouse is abusing the other, and in some cases, both spouses are abusing each other! To people on the outside, these may look like perfect marriages. Only the husband and wife know that there is a dark side to their marriage, abuse.
Let me say that this is why I implore people to take the TIME and the EFFORT to build a spiritual foundation to their marriage BEFORE they get married. Everyone is on their best behavior, says all the right things when they are dating. However, over time, you begin to know who the person you are planning to marry really is. It is very difficult to pray with someone, read the Word with someone, go to church with someone, find ways to serve the Lord with someone, talk about all of the key issues of your future life together, do this over a year or two, and all of a sudden after you take your wedding vows discover the person you married is an abuser.
Does that happen? Yes! People do change over time. When you add in the pressure of careers, children, the issues of life we all have to face along this journey, on top of what I have always said is the most difficult thing in the world, making two flesh become one in marriage, people do change. Abuse CAN enter into even the most Christ-centered marriage. The key is to deal with it IMMEDIATELY. Don't let abuse exist. Fight it right away. The very first time it occurs, deal with it! Otherwise, like all sin, it will only grow and get worse. ABUSE DOES NOT JUST GO AWAY OVER TIME, IT ONLY GETS WORSE OVER TIME!
Please understand that God NEVER intended you or anyone to be abused. If your husband or wife abuses you in any way, confront them immediately since they need professional and spiritual help. If the abusing spouse refuses to get help, do not be a hero! You are going to accomplish NOTHING by staying in an abusive marriage. Your very life could be at stake. Please listen to me carefully. I am NOT saying to run out and get a divorce. I am saying to separate yourself from your abusing spouse until they are willing to deal with their abuse and get professional and spiritual help.
Saying I'm sorry is NOT going to make everything better. Abusers are professional apologizers. They are masters at it. I don't doubt that they are sincere. So is the alcoholic who is hung over, feeling like it would be better to die and vowing to never drink again. Or the gambler who loses a huge bet saying he will never bet again. Until they are serious enough to seek out help, seek the Lord for the strength to live in freedom from their abusive ways, they are not going to change. Like any addiction, an abuser has to want to stop and then take the steps necessary professionally and spiritually to get victory over their abusive ways.
Only after time has passed and the abusive spouse has shown a track record of making changes in their life, should the abused spouse even think about moving back into the same home. What are they supposed to do in the meantime? Stand in the gap for their spouse. Pray for them to turn to the Lord and find His strength to turn from their abusive ways. Press into the Lord since they will need His strength and His presence to heal and move forward with their life. The biggest trap during this time is getting involved with someone else. Remember, you are still married! Did you really mean it when you made your vows to your spouse and to God, "For better or for worse?"
Now is the time to make your faith real, shun the wisdom of the world that says get divorced, find someone else, and move on. Take a stand for your marriage. God is NOT going to bless a relationship you get involved with outside of your marriage. As a matter of fact, it will only compound your problems. Remember, God will not and is not going to bless sin! We all come to those places in life when we have to put our faith to the test and really trust God. It is at those moments of our life that we find our faith, we learn how to depend on and trust in God with everything we have, and come to realize that the promises in the Bible really are for us and they are true! God will protect you, provide for you, care for you, love you, and keep you as you give yourself completely to Him!
I love you and care about you so much. This issue today only highlights again how critical it is to build a strong spiritual foundation with your future spouse over a period of time PRIOR to getting married. You can potentially save yourself so much pain and heartache if you do. Marriage is an incredible blessing from God, a wonderful journey through this life with the person God has given you to share it with. It should be the greatest relationship in your life outside of your relationship with Jesus Christ. To have this person you have committed the rest of your life to abuse you is so sad and tragic.
When we talk about the abuse issue, we normally think of physical and sexual abuse. However, the most common form of abuse in most Christian marriages is verbal, emotional, and financial. For you men and women who are currently abusing your spouse in any way, you know this is not how God has called you to treat your wife or husband. Out of the billions of people on this planet, this is the ONE PERSON God has given to you to share your life with. Why would you abuse that person in any way? God is speaking to you today. God is telling you today to get the help you need, professionally and spiritually. Being an abuser is no different than being an alcoholic, drug addict, or having any other bondage. You need God to set you free!
I will be praying for you today. Praying that the Holy Spirit will bring you under conviction and that you will fall on you knees today and ask God to forgive you. Then go get the help you need to find freedom from your abusive ways. I will also be praying for you wives and husbands who are being abused. I pray that God will watch over you and protect you, that He will give you the strength to stand up to your abusive spouse and hold them accountable for their abuse. That the Lord will help you to make whatever tough choices you have to make so that you are not living your life each day being abused. I will be praying for God to bring healing to your life, help you to forgive your spouse so that you can move forward.
In the end, this tragic issue like all boils down to Jesus. Those who live in rebellion to God and His Word, who have rejected Christ's love in their life, will never understand why you need to be saved and marry someone who is also saved They will never comprehend why it is so critical to build a spiritual foundation to your relationship PRIOR to getting married. They have bought the lies of this world that sex is a sport to play with whoever is willing. They wake up one morning, their lives are a mess, they have been abused in every way imaginable, and they can't understand why. For them, their only hope and answer is to know Jesus and allow Him to bring healing to their life and transform them into a new creature in Christ.
For those who know the Lord as their Savior, they have no excuse for not calling on His name. We all sin and do things we wish we didn't do. The key, however, is recognizing our sinful actions, repenting, and asking the Lord to forgive us. We need to remember that when we are weak, He is strong, and to call upon His strength to live a life pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. God does not desire anyone to abuse their spouse but to love them like He loves us. God does not desire that anyone lives in an abusive marriage, but one of peace and love with Christ at the center.