Until These Calamities Be Overpast
By Patricia Backora, author of the book:
Tough Love in Christ's Millennium
Which you can order online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
One comment I read on the Net had to do with a rebuke aimed at a Christian counselor who dealt with a case of domestic violence. This man was upbraided for giving "carnal" counsel to a woman who was too scared to stay with her husband anymore because he regularly beat her and terrorized the kids. The counselor had suggested she look in her phone book Yellow Pages for a battered women's shelter so she and her children could escape immediately from her brutal husband, to enable her to piece her life back together.
Well, the counselor's critic said that advice was no better than what the world could give, and it would only be playing into the devil's hands if the wife left her husband, even temporarily. Instead, she should bear with the blows of her husband patiently until God won him to Christ by her own Christlike behavior. Passages on patient suffering should instead have been cited to the wife, the critic said: I Peter 2:20: For what glory is it, when ye be buffeted (beaten) for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
And: I Peter 3:1-6 was cited, that passage which describes the chaste conduct of a godly wife, which is precious in the sight of God, an attitude which can win a husband to Christ. This is excellent advice, though it usually takes some time to see fruits from it. However, if a woman is dodging flying fists and karate kicks, she doesn't have the luxury of waiting for her husband to be gently persuaded by her chaste conduct. And this doubly applies if she has small children to consider. Even if she were the most patient Christian woman on the planet and her faith were strong enough to cheerfully bear with a few broken bones, how could she ask her little children to endure the same abuse? And even if the man never laid a hand upon the kids and only hurt her, the children suffer psychological damage from seeing their mother beaten up, screaming and crying.
It's oh, so easy to dispense advice to people whose thorny path you never have to tread yourself! That critical preacher ought to think twice before he jumps down a counselor's throat for trying to ensure the safety of a poor frightened woman and her small children. What if it were HIS daughter or other loved one in that woman's shoes, being battered and abused? Would a few smugly dispensed Bible verses still be sufficient to solve the problem?
Maybe the women's shelter isn't the most spiritual answer, but if you're in a raging storm and about to go down in the drink, you'll be glad for any port of safety. The reason that Christian woman would have to look in the Yellow Pages to find such a hiding place is because such help would be unavailable from her own church. Keeping homes "together" takes top priority, even over the safety of women and children!
There are times when one Biblical principle seems to conflict with another. Saving life must take top priority when two laws clash.
Rahab the harlot was economical with the truth when she hid Joshua's spies in her house (Joshua 2:1-7). She feigned ignorance about the men when the king asked her about them. Once the coast was clear, Rahab was able to send the spies away to safety.
It is a sin to lie, but Rahab told a fib when she told the King she knew nothing about the Hebrew spies. In saving those men's lives she saved her own life and the lives of her loved ones when the city of Jericho was later attacked by Joshua. Instead of losing her soul for deceiving the king, Rahab is listed in Hebrews 11: 31 as a woman of faith.
It was against Jewish Law to harvest grain on the Sabbath Day, and the Pharisees let Jesus know it one day when His hungry disciples picked grain in a field to satisfy their hunger. Jesus reminded those loveless religious experts that when David was fleeing from Saul he ate the shewbread which only the priests were allowed to eat. Not only had David been forced to break up the integrity of his own household to save his life, he was starving, and he broke the law to eat only food available to him. That incident is in I Samuel 21:1-6. David had to choose life over death.
On at least two occasions King Saul tried to kill David with a spear (I Sam.18:11). For a while David found the courage to remain in Saul's court and continue serving the mad monarch. But David came to realize that hanging out with Saul might cost him his life. After more threats from Saul, David fled the royal household in Chapter 21, leaving behind his wife Michal. The crisis had gotten so bad David's own home had to be temporarily disbanded. In his exile the Psalmist prayed: Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me (Psalms 143:9). And, in Psalms 57:1: Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. Brutalized women need a refuge where they can be secure until the storm in their life has blown over.
Romans 12:18 says: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Sometimes it is NOT possible. You can obey every exhortation of Scripture to be the perfect wife (or husband) and still get clobbered with a frying pan. David did his best to stay in his own abusive situation, but Saul would not choose the way of peace, so there could be no harmony between the two men, no matter how much David wanted peace. Psalms 120:7 says: I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. It takes two to make peace, not one.
But surely, some would say, it just isn't a Christian thing to do to run away from danger. But Jesus says in Matthew 10:23: When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. Jesus Himself was forced to flee to safety as a young child in Bethlehem. King Herod was out to kill him. In Matthew 2:13 the angel of the Lord instructed His foster father Joseph to "arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him".
So Joseph took Mary and baby Jesus to a hiding place to protect the life of the Son of God. As head of the little family, it was Joseph's responsibility to protect Mary and Jesus from danger. Whenever a man becomes violent and threatens the safety of his wife and children, he has ceased to be a responsible husband and father. Someone else must look out for the safety of his vulnerable victims. The angel did not tell Mary to try to first try to win the hearts of King Herod's wicked soldiers by patiently enduring their sword thrusts. Rather, she was to take Jesus to a safe place until the danger was past.
Is it cowardly to hide from danger? In I Kings 18: 4 one hundred prophets of the Lord were concealed in caves by one godly man who feared the Lord. They were given bread and water to sustain them. Jezebel was out to kill them and they needed a hiding place.
In Revelation 12:6 a woman John saw in vision flees from a dragon intent on killing her. She goes into a wilderness prepared by God, to be sustained there for 1260 days. Many interpret this mysterious passage to signify Israel, fleeing from the Antichrist during the Tribulation Period. This believing remnant of Israel is hidden and preserved by God so that once the crisis is past, she can once again flourish. Women who flee and look for a hiding place are trying to survive rather than thrive, so that once again their bruised souls might flourish.
Does an abusive husband (or wife) merit the same respect as a godly one who obeys the Lord? When a husband becomes a drunken brute or otherwise neglects to provide for the welfare of his own family, he is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith (I Tim.5:8). His office as husband ought to be respected, but even if such a wicked man was once born again, he is no longer acting as godly priest over his own home and is in bondage to another master, satan. The preservation of life must take priority over respecting his so-called "rights" as husband.
I knew one church elder who said that no matter what, wives should submit to their own husbands in unconditional obedience. Even to the extent of jumping off a cliff if he ordered her to do it. But Peter says in Acts 5:29: We ought to obey God rather than men. When the will of your earthly overlords conflicts with the will of God, you must choose God every time. If a brutal husband orders his wife to stay with him so he can abuse the kids, she must act as their protector. God called the husband to be the protector of the family. An army general reigns supreme in his battalion. But if he gets captured by the enemy in battle, he is unable to continue his command. His second in command must take over his duties or the men will have no one to keep up their morale and lead them safely through the battle. When the husband has been taken utterly captive by satan and is doing satan's work of steal, kill and destroy, it is then the wife must assume the role of protector of the home and take steps to protect her own family from harm.
Some say we must be willing to take unlimited abuse from anybody who feels like dishing it out, because Christ suffered terrible things when He lived on earth, leaving us an example. Yes, Jesus did suffer unspeakably horrible abuse by sinners, but only when the time came for Him to offer Himself up for our redemption. In Luke 4:15-30 Jesus reads from the Scroll of Isaiah the Prophet, and lets the people in the synagogue know that He has come to fulfill the Scriptures as the Promised One. Jesus upbraids the people of Nazareth for refusing to believe in Him. They got so mad at Jesus that they grabbed hold of Him and marched Him out of the city, with the intention of throwing Him off a cliff. But it was not Jesus' time to be broken and killed. He passed through the midst of that crowd safely, and went on His way.
The counselor's critic was, in effect, demanding that the battered wife stay in a dangerous situation and place her own safety in the hands of her abusive husband, in hopes he would soften his attitude and be won over by her godly conduct. John 2:24 says that Jesus did not commit Himself unto certain ones who sought Him out because of the miracles He did. That means He did not entrust Himself to them. Christ did not trust these people because He knew what was in their hearts. He knew that their motives were not the purest. If our own Savior had to beware of the wicked while He was on earth, how can anyone find fault with an innocent wife or children for wanting to escape a madman who is always hurting them?
When cold counsellors tell a battered wife to stay in a dangerous situation because the integrity of the family home comes first, they are demanding that she risk her life and the lives of any small children she might have. Regardless of the level of her faith, she must face the flying fists of a man who says "no thanks" to God's call to be saved. Most likely wise counsellors of patience know they themselves could not survive such a horrible trial. So instead of finding the courage and the means to shelter helpless, frightened abused wives and children, a timid church is content to dispense exhortations to endure, whatever the cost. And so the world's social services must take up the slack and provide a hiding place where a battered Christian wife can go to ride out the storm. At least they will not accuse her of being responsible for the big black bruises on her face.
The integrity of the household has been shattered, not by her fleeing feet, but by the flying fists of the beast who turned on her. Just as a hateful bully who drives his victim to suicide is guilty of murder, an abuser whose cruelty drives away his spouse is guilty of destroying the home. Break a plate through violence and it's broken. Period. Even if you keep the shattered pieces "together" instead of removing them from the house, that's only a denial that the home is broken. The plate has still been broken by violence. In the case of an abused Christian spouse, she (or he) can do only her own part by behaving in a Christlike manner. A Christian wife can no more accept the love of Jesus on behalf of her unsaved husband than she can do his own breathing for him to keep him alive. Instead of smug blame on the part of self-righteous counselors who don't want to admit that real life gets messy, a woman caught up in a hell of abuse needs protection. Even wild animals will protect their own young. Who designed them that way? God. God's wrath toward sinners is compared to that of a bear robbed of her whelps (Hosea 13:8). Passivity in the face of great evil is a cowardice which loves to wear religious robes.
Wherever satan is at work to destroy Christian homes and families Christians must bind the forces of darkness through believing prayer. But faith must also be expressed in positive action (James 2:17). Joshua's spies were hidden by Rahab, a woman of the world whose occupation was less than praiseworthy. God used even an unconverted person to meet His need because that was what was available to Him at the time. Desperate women are forced to rely upon worldly programs to save them from violence whenever help is unavailable from their church. It is high time the church took more seriously its calling to bind up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1).
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Here is sensitivity and compassion in action! With emotion akin to suffering with the abused, you write from the heart. Drawing attention to the victims, your pleas for more understanding by the Church are wholly commendable. This article ought to be printed out and sent to every Church! May God bless you as you speak up for those who have no voice.