Iran recently released Saeed Abedini, an American pastor, from prison. We all rejoiced in that release, but our joy was certainly dampened by the accusations of marital abuse that had recently been revealed by his wife, Naghmeh Abedini.
I’ve given this some thought in the last few days and several thoughts have surfaced.
1. Often women suffer in secret. I’ve found this to be true through my years of pastoring. In fact, I’ve often been shocked to learn that couples I’ve known for years have kept this secret hidden from public view.
2. An abused person (female or male) must protect themselves and their children. Being a Christian does not mean you have to accept abuse. There is nothing right about that. Truth be told, you only complicate the matter by failing to take action. Although abuse may not be a biblical ground for divorce, it is reasonable for an abused spouse to separate for self-protection and then get help.
3. Many abused people inappropriately blame themselves. “If I only cleaned the house better and was more careful with what I said, he wouldn’t do this to me” is a statement I’ve heard all too often. There is no excuse for physical, sexual, emotional, or any other kind of abuse. Period. Look at your situation objectively. Don’t accept the blame.
4. Abuse is an attack on Christianity itself. Genesis 1 and 2 give us the picture of a marriage that is supportive and fulfilling. Mutual submission is mandated in Eph. 5:21. A husband is to love his wife in the way that Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:22–24), and at the same time, the wife is to respond to that love with submission. None of this leaves room for abuse. In fact, marital abuse in the Christian home sullies the reputation of Christ in this world.
5. Love and reconciliation are possible. Abuse isn’t the unforgiveable sin; forgiveness can come after much prayer, work, guidance, and preparation. But in a practical sense, forgiveness and trust are offered only after a track record of repentance and appropriate conduct has been demonstrated. Retribution is never acceptable.
If you are being abused by a spouse or anyone else, take action immediately. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Call 911. Separate from the situation. Do not continue to accept the abuse because it will likely escalate. Then pray for God’s leadership and seek competent, Christian counsel.
Henderson Hills Baptist Church