Domestic violence in the
©2007 Sis. Kimberly Hartfield, B.S. M.S.
Throughout my twenty-five year marriage to an ungodly “Christian man”, I experienced many incidents of domestic violence. At different times I have been on the receiving end of black eyes, a broken nose, a broken arm, multiple stitches, and have even had a gun put to my head on one occasion. I know your thinking, “Then why did you stay so long?” So I’ll simply say, because I love him, and then I’ll tell you that I no longer live with him, though I am still married to him. As a young Christian bride, growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, I sought answers to my pain both from my pastors and from the Word of God. Much of the help I received from my pastors was well worn advice to just submit to my husband and pray that God would change him. I did just that for many years.
Then one day, I had what I call a vision, where I saw Christ on the cross, and he spoke to me and said “I did this, so you wouldn’t have to.” This was life changing for me, though I still didn’t leave immediately. I knew from that day forward that I had a choice on whether to remain in an abusive relationship or not. But I couldn’t reconcile what I had been taught all my life, that is “Once married, always married” with this new found revelation. So I began to search the Scriptures more thoroughly about divorce. And ugh, that was an ugly word in my vocabulary.
And then one day, as I was listening to Christian Radio, I heard a pastor say that abuse is considered by some pastors today as emotional abandonment and therefore it could be grounds for divorce, as scripture teaches that adultery and abandonment are grounds for divorce. This was certainly a life-changing perspective for me, but I was still uncertain as to my path, until I ran across the scripture passage in I Corinthians 7:10-11 that states, if a woman leaves, she is to remain unmarried or separated, until they may be reconciled. Sometime after this I separated from my husband and have remained separated for over seven years.
During that time, I was tempted many times to just call it quits, and get a divorce. I even found some Old Testament passages in Ezra and Nehemiah that seemed to support that choice somewhat. The children of Israel, it seems, had intermarried with unbelievers, who according to Old Testament law, they were not to have done. So they were told to put away their spouses, even those who they had children with, and to do it according to the law. I rationalized that my husband could not be a true believer and do the things he had done to me. But still I couldn’t go through with it, without a sure word from God.
So I finally laid out my fleece test to God. I ask God that if I was to start over with a clean slate by getting divorced, that I would witness a snow in Mississippi that would last for three days. Maybe this was a long shot, but it needed to be something I knew wouldn’t ordinarily happen. And then I prayed that if there was any hope left for a reconciliation, that God would show me a rainbow in the sky. Well several months passed and I saw neither sign, so I just about gave it up waiting for an answer from God. And then one day as I was working outside in the dreary weather of late winter, I looked up and saw a faint outline of a rainbow reflected on the clouds. And the odd thing about is was from where I was standing, the rainbow was upside down and appeared to be smiling at me. I do believe God has quite a sense of Humor. I pointed up to the clouds and asked two of the youngest kids if they saw it too. Sure enough, they did, so I knew I wasn’t just seeing things.
So I say all this to say, that even when it seems as if there is no hope, wait on God. I’m still separated, and I don’t see enough change on his part to warrant reconciliation just yet, as I am waiting for those fruits worthy of repentance. But I know God has a plan or I wouldn’t have gone through all of that violence and still be alive today. God has shown me through a wonderful book by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend that as God doesn’t allow unrepentant sinners into his presence, neither do I, as a child of God have to allow anyone who is still repeatedly acting in sinful ways into my presence.
So I choose God’s way for my life and get scolded much for “staying in it”, but I know that it is a choice that God allows me to make. I know that God doesn’t ever want a woman to remain in the presence and power of a man who will force his will on a woman, in the name of godly submission. Jesus never forced his will on anyone but allows all to make their own choices. So if you’re a Christian woman in an ungodly relationship, know that you can make the choice to leave, and you can do it in biblically correct way. If adultery or abandonment is your present circumstances, then you do have biblical authority to divorce. Or you can choose to remain separated, as I have chosen. There may or may not be hope for reconciliation, but you can follow godly principles in your search for peace. Be aware though that if and when you choose to leave, you are more likely to be in danger for a time. Prepare yourself with the Word of God, much prayer, and plenty of support from your church family. God will see you through it.
It Rarely Stops Video
- A Christian Perspective of Domestic Violence (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Fear Factor: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- October Awareness of Domestic Violence Month (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- A Christian Perspective of Abuse in the Marital Relationship (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Coming out of the Closet Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence and the Non-traditionally Sexually Oriented (gofishministries.wordpress.com)