Below are excerpts from an article written by Rick Thomas. There is a time to separate from an abusive spouse and there is a time to run. If your church does not know how to support you, contact the counselors at Rick’s site. The contact information is in his article. I like how he says that they are not a replacement to the local church but they are there to compliment the local church. I am glad they have been having articles up about abuse because I know my readers click over to his site. I hope you all find the biblical help you need that draws you into a closer, more trusting relationship with our Lord and Savior. May God give you the strength to do what you need to do in order for healing to take place and dear sister, I am not referring to your type of “healing”, but the type of healing that comes from God alone. Healing that leads you closer to God not further away. Healing that leads to righteousness not to sin. Healing that leads to restoration instead of destruction.
If my sin is affecting my health, then I can repent and be restored. If the sin of another person is affecting my health, then I am at the mercy of the other person owning and removing the sin from the relationship. In some marriages, the abusive spouse does not repent, a situation that can leave the victim spouse vulnerable.
What am I to do?
This discussion can stir up a few concerns, especially from a person who is in an abusive situation. Here are four of those possible concerns:
- Am I a victim?
- What about the grace of God in un-repented relationships?
- If my spouse is affecting my health, can I leave him?
- Where do I find help?
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV)
Grace – Because we are victims of sin and the impact of sin on our lives can be degenerative, we must talk about the transformative power of the Gospel that has been given to us. It is important for us to not lose heart, as Paul said. God is merciful. Though we have created this problem between sin, life, and death, the LORD does not leave us alone. He always provides a way of escape when sin abounds (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is good news because there could be a temptation for a person to give up, choosing not to access these means of grace that the LORD has given to us. The temptation to quit and not fight is always strong. Many adults give up the fight against sin and let their bodies go. They feel the gravitational pull of death on them and rather than finishing strong, they yield to ever-increasing physical and spiritual depreciation. Though there are means of grace for these temptations, we do not always access them. Whether it is the degenerative effect of the sins of Adam or the sins within our relationships that we are uniquely bound to, there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. – Matthew 18:15-16 (ESV)
The first call to action is to appeal to the abuser. I am not talking about sexual or physical abuse. In those cases, you do not appeal first. You run. You get away from the abuse. However, in other abuse situations where your physicality is not in the kind of threat that sexual and physical abuse causes, you make an appeal to the abuser to stop. If the person does not stop, then you call for help. Do not try to persuade a domineering person to stop being domineering on your own. The LORD has given us a process for such meanness. You have an advocate in the body of Christ, a wonderful means of grace to come alongside those who are victimized by the sins of others. Help – There will be many people who will read this and say, “Yes, but my church does not have the means, competency, or the concern to help me.” I will not argue with you. I have been counseling for a long time. My vocation has been a wonderful blessing in many ways, part of which had given me a realistic view of the local church. In some situations we have failed the body of Christ. I am critiquing myself here. I am talking about us. I am speaking of my family—the body of the LORD Jesus. There are many people, especially women, who live in marriages where the men are not pursued, helped, or held accountable. They are not called to change, as they continue to live in unabated sinfulness, but this is where we must be careful. It would be misguided to lay the sinfulness of people in the lap of the church. That is not an reasonable charge. It is not biblical. There are many churches who are stellar in the fight against sin. They are like me in that the need is far greater than any one person’s or institution’s ability to resolve. Furthermore, it would be placing the cause of the problem on the church. There is no doubt the church can and should do a better job, but the real problem has to do with how sinful people do not want to change. It is similar to the hospital. The help is available, but the person who needs the help must access it. Many, if not most, of the people who live in un-repentant sin are elusive. They are not part of the local church, which puts the local church at a disadvantage. This is a dilemma.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 (ESV)
I have never met a person who wanted to change, who could not change. If a sinful person wants to stop his sinfulness, there is enough grace, with or without the local church, for him to d that.