A Christian Perspective of Abuse in the Marital Relationship

A Christian Perspective of Abuse in the Marital Relationship

©2005 Sis. Kimberly Hartfield, B.S., M.S.

Many young Christian women delve into the romantic ideology of marriage, believing that they have met their Prince Charming.  They enter into that relationship blinded from the realities of the imperfections of their chosen mate, many times refusing to prayerfully consider God’s will in the matter.  Rather than prayerfully asking God “Is this the man You want for me”; they plead shopping list style saying, “I want this particular make and model of man” never considering that this particular man may not be in God’s best interest for her.  As Christians, we are called, not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, but to be equally yoked with another believer.  When we ignore this warning, or if we simply are not careful and prayerful in the choice of our spouse, we may find ourselves in an incompatible, or worse, an abusive situation.

Young women considering marriage should be made aware of early warning signs and look for the possibility for violence in their potential spouses. Her family should also look for any visible signs of physical aggression such as unexplained bruises or marks. Family and friends of the young woman can also be on the look out for suspicious behaviors and verbal aggression.  Any form of verbally, mentally, sexually, or physically aggressive play or behavior should be noted as a potential risk for future violence.  Any sudden or unexplained angry outbursts should also be noted, especially if there seems to be an insignificant or insufficient reason for the outburst.  What may seem to be a stressful blow up could very well be an early warning sign of a possible abuser.  The young woman and her loved ones must trust their instincts when they feel something is not quite right.  The young woman should never dismiss evident warning signals, nor take for granted the truth of her partner’s excuses or his blatant blaming as the truth of her own fault. Potentially abusive partners are most likely on their best behavior before the marriage, and are likely to change for the worst after the wedding day.

There are several factors in a relationship that could be indicators of the potential for possible future abuse.  One of the first things that an abusive partner will do is to attempt to isolate the victim from loved and trusted friends and family members.  This can be a physical isolation, but more often than not, it is a form of mental isolation.  This can emanate from the abuser in the form of seeds of doubt and mistrust planted by the abuser and formed by the victim when she believes the insinuations made about those close to her, or formed against the victim herself by those closest to her at the suggestion of the abuser.  An abuser will often try to convince the victim and those who love her that she is mentally or emotionally unstable by calling her “crazy.”

Once the attempt at isolation is underway, the abuser will try to undermine the self-confidence of his victim in other ways and begin to dominate every aspect of the victim’s life, including the victim’s thought and behavior patterns.  Fear and intimidation tactics are often employed by the abuser in order to maintain control.  The abuse usually progresses through stages of mental, verbal, sexual, and physical forms, or any combination of these.  Some examples of mentally abusive tactics are hiding car keys, controlling monetary access, and punching or kicking the air or surfaces near the victim for the purpose of intimidation.  These may progress to more aggressive forms of physical and sexual abuse that often become quite violent and sometimes deadly in nature.   Physical abuse is most likely to occur when the abuser feels that his victim is beyond his complete control.

Don’t Be Silent: Stop Domestic Violence

Any woman caught in an abusive relationship needs to first ask herself if she or her children are in any immediate danger and if so she should seek counsel from a trusted source and secure a safe atmosphere for herself and her children.  Then she will be at liberty to prayerfully consider her next step to her and her family’s ultimate well being. At this point, the Christian woman may have to consider the possibility of separation or even divorce, while seeking divine guidance through her particular situation.

Many Biblical passages dealing with the marital relationship seem to be somewhat unclear where abuse is concerned, but when we look at the overall scriptural context, we know that Jesus never condoned any kind of mistreatment of any person in the Scripture.  In the context of the marital relationship, partners are to be submissive to one another in the love of the Lord.  The love of Christ is never domineering or abusive.  Christ never forced anyone to do anything.  He simply loved them into submission.  He gave himself up for the Church even unto death in order to show His undying love for it, knowing that ultimately the Church would love Him back and desire to serve Him and do the will of Yahweh God.  Submission was never intended to be the self-serving of one partner over the other in any relationship.

Neither did Jesus, nor the Biblical Scripture, ever condone divorce, but only allowed for it under certain conditions; the primary consideration being adultery by an unfaithful spouse, and the secondary consideration being abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.  A few Christian authorities have considered abuse as a type of emotional abandonment, and believe that God also allows for divorce in these relationships.  Other authorities do not see it this way.  The conflicting views of these authorities have kept many women in abusive relationships for years. Under the guise of encouraging women to be submissive to their husbands, Christian authorities have condemned women to their eventual death, because the women were unsure of the biblical perspective on submission and abuse.  Women can and should seek the counsel of leading Christian authorities, but a Christian woman’s ultimate authority should be the guidance of her own conscience by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible clearly says that if a woman should leave her husband, she should remain unmarried or be reconciled to her own husband.  Remaining separated or divorced without the consideration of remarriage could be a wise choice though a difficult one, considering the possibility of potential problems of stepfamilies in today’s culture, especially where pedophilia (childhood sexual abuse) and other forms of child abuse could be a problem in families where young children may be affected. Pedophiles often target young women who are looking for love, with small children, whether they are male or female. But when a woman divorces early in life this may be an unpractical impossibility.  One portion of Scripture that speaks of young widows, states that it would be better to marry than to burn with desire.  This could also be said in the circumstance of a young divorcee.  In a sense, the death of a marriage is akin to the death of a spouse.  God can and will forgive someone who made a wrong choice in a marriage partner and chooses to divorce, just as he forgives those who commit adultery or any other sin, only if they seek His forgiveness and mercy.   When a young woman seeks God divine guidance, she may eventually find herself in a healthy and godly relationship in the future.

Silent Screams: A Treatise on Sexual Violence

But we should never say that divorce is the only solution to marital abuse, but that it is a possible resolution to an unfortunate circumstance.  Christ did not command divorce, but He said that Moses allowed for it, due to the hardness of mankind’s heart.  Under the stated circumstances, partners who are willing to repent and forgive and seek professional help or Christian counsel, can and have repaired their relationship to become a healthy and committed Christian Family. It should be noted that forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation, when one partner refuses to repent of ungodly and abusive behavior.  Reconciliation should only take place where repentance or a complete change of behavior has occurred. But the backbone of this kind of Christian relationship is faith in God’s power to heal it.  Without healthy Christian guidance, prayer, and study of the Holy Scriptures on the part of both individuals in that relationship, the marriage will continue to be at risk for future abuse and possibly divorce.

Until a woman recognizes the fact that the only Prince Charming she may ever know is the Lord Jesus Christ and that He is the only One who can truly love her as she needs to be loved, she will continue searching for that love in the dark forest of despair.  Jesus is the only One who can redeem her from the heartbreaks of this world and she must realize that her mate is not her savior and he will never be perfect, nor love her unconditionally as only Jesus can.  If a Christian woman finds herself in an abusive situation, whether mental, verbal, physical, or sexual, she must acknowledge Jesus as her Savior and the Lord of her life and pray for divine guidance if she is to find her way out of that dark forest.

Author Kimberly Hartfield’s A Little Redneck Theology


About mamaheartfilled

I am a mother of eight wonderfully challenging children and nine grandkids, of whom I am very proud. I am also a bi-vocational ordained evangelical minister, and a Christian Counselor. I received my B.S. degree in 2004, studying primarily in the areas of Psychology, with minors in Religion and English. I received my Masters Degree in 2009 in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I have endeavored to paraphrase the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, for the last ten years or so and am working on a final edit, now. It is my hope that it will be of some use in the great commission of Christ. My ministry is primarily geared toward victims of sexual and domestic violence, including victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether currently or in the past. Since I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in overcoming many of the life issues that Christians may face, I feel qualified and compelled to discuss them in a truthful and open manner, as God’s word tells us that “We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” God has brought me through such diverse tribulations as sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction, adultery, divorce, remarriage, a very brief, though unjust, incarceration, and having experienced multiple miscarriages and various other trials. I have been asked to leave two Southern Baptist Churches, due to my being a female, ordained as a minister, and fired from a SBC sponsored Christian School (mostly white) for speaking out against racial prejudice in the Family of God. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and inadequacies and God’s grace given to me to forgive those who have been a stumbling block to me, I have overcome many of these adversities. God’s word tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to the purposes of God." Since I have this hope, I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community around the world. I hope to be able to use my personal experiences as a ministry of God’s grace and in the comforting of the people of God with the truth of God's mercy. I claim II Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 as my calling, which states: “Blessed be God, the Origin of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Origin of mercies, and the God of comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, by the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.” As I have received the gift of God’s healing, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others with the message of God’s mercy and grace. My love for the Sovereign Lord of my life, Jesus Christ, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore these commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I may bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I am now a published author and have several books in publication, including my autobiography, "A Little Redneck Theology." The views expressed in my writings are strictly my own insights, acquired from personal experience and diligent study of the related topics and God’s word concerning them. Though I am an ordained minister, my views should not be considered authoritative. I believe that the Christian community’s ultimate authority is the guidance of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
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13 Responses to A Christian Perspective of Abuse in the Marital Relationship

  1. blessed says:

    Thank u very much 4 dis post I hv bin married 4 just four months now bt courted 4 eleven during d courtship my hubby insults me verbally of which I told my family bt my parents couldn’t stand d shame bkos we were engaged in a traditional way it was like marriage they pleaded and encouraged me to go on with d wedding now we are married n d insults are worse than before one day we argued n he beat me I told my parents they didn’t say anything I left him bt my parents asked me to be patient until I put to birth b4 they can act or do anything now he talks abt beat in me as his corrective measure n d insults just won’t stop am regretting y I didn’t leave Wen I wanted to now I don’t know he doesn’t listen to me I can’t complain of anything without him seeing it as me disrespecting him I want to go but my parents how will they take it n my family name will be ruined Wat of my child Wat do I do pls help by replying I need yr advice.


    • If you are in any danger get yourself to a safe place if possible. Don’t worry about anything people may say. If they have never been in an abusive situation, they won’t understand anyway. There are shelters all over the U.S. and Churches that may can help all over the world. Seek out godly people who can advise and counsel you locally and join a church family where you can get the spiritual guidance you will need at this time in your life. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation. If he is repentant and shows a change of behavior there might be reconciliation, but if not, you don’t have to put yourself in harms way. If he is unrepentant, then you can forgive him and move on with your life without him for now. There is always hope for change, but without such proof, you shouldn’t put yourself in any danger.


    • Rebecca says:

      “The love of Christ is never domineering or abusive.” …AND
      “Submission was never intended to be the self-serving of one partner over the other in any relationship.” Amen, Amen, and Amen!
      Thank you for this article (and others). Keep on preachin’ Biblical Truth!


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  9. Dee says:

    Your article has helped me begin my very difficult journey of getting out of my nightmare. My mother law asked me this week to leave my husband because she knew there’s something wrong for her son. I agree because the last couple of months he has been acting very strange, very aggressive((he bought a gun), disrespectful, and possessive about our bank account. I took heed to her advise and starting digging for information. I took his cell phone and started checking his text messages, call history and media file. My mouth dropped when I found pictures of naked women who had been in his music video (he works in the music industry) I also found videos of them doing despicable things, I could hear his voice in the background! I tried to hold my tongue until I had an action plan to leave him but I could not go another day with the humiliation I felt for my self and f or the women on my husband’s phone. A war ensue in my house, unthinkable insults rained on me and I cried all day not because of me but for my children lives, their future and my covenant with God. All day I had been looking for information to help me deal with this nightmare. I came across your article. It was like a fresh glass of water, thank you for sharing your painful experiences which has giving me hope, but most importantly Godly advice.

    Yours and His,



    • Please get yourself and your children out of harm’s way. Since he has purchased a gun, you must protect yourself and your children from probable harm. You can decide later whether divorce is necessary, or whether a reconciliation may take place at a later date if he gets psychological help and shows proof of change (the fruits of repentance). But be very careful, as repentance (a change of behavior) is necessary before any thought of reconciliation may take place. For now you must remove yourself from his presence and access.

      Liked by 1 person

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