Friday, November 20, 2009

One of the blessings of being in a PhD program and being a pastor of a church is that my mind swims in new thoughts all the time. From the practical to the heady; from the counseling to the grammatical—and I love it! Here are just two thoughts I’ve mused the last few days.

In a marriage relationship, what should the believing wife do if she is married to an unbelieving husband who is abusive, violent, and harsh—physically?

Quite simply, what if someone’s (=the wife’s) life is even on the line? Consider with me the following thoughts.

I understand the responsibility of the local government to step in and take action (Rom 13; 1 Pet 2). But aside from this, we must recognize why we often feel uncomfortable for the wife in this particular situation. Think about it, if the good of the body (i.e. protection, health) is the “highest good”, then we must bring back missionaries who are out on the mission field in dangerous places who wonder if they will wake up alive the next morning. There are many missionaries who serve in places where they are daily living with the reality that death may capture them. And note: they do this for the gospel’s sake. They want to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who may be hostile—and even violent!

Follow my thinking, if we hold missionaries in such high esteem because of their boldness for Christ and willingness to lay their (physical!) life on the line, why can’t someone do that in the marriage relationship too [note: I am not prescribing anything, just describing my thought]? If a wife wanted to remain in a marriage relationship—even though her life may be in constant danger from a husband who is violent, physical, abusive, and life-threatening—she could be just as much of a godly witness to her husband as Jim Elliott was in the Amazon.

Why do we qualm when we shift gears from the missionary who is overseas putting their life on the line every day to the believing housewife who wants to stick it out in the marriage relationship to a (obviously unbelieving) husband in hopes that God may sovereignly transform his heart because of her tremendous witness for Jesus Christ?

Again, I’m not prescribing that a wife must remain in the marriage relationship even with a violent or abusive husband. What I am prescribing is that the Bible gives no grounds for divorce (or even separation!!) because of a violent spouse. None. Search the Bible and you won’t find it. Therefore, if we can walk individuals through 1 Peter and show how Jesus was mistreated and violently abused (though he did right) and yet a wife wants to follow in the footsteps of her savior and be a witness to her husband, even if she suffers (physically!) for doing what is right, she is blessed (1 Peter 3:14).

Too much babbling on my first thought… I’ll write my second tomorrow. :=)


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