The Abuse Victim as Widow
Exodus 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.
Deuteronomy 10:17-18 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (18) He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Psalms 94:6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
These few verses are just a small sampling of many others found in Scripture that repeat the very same theme – God commands us to render justice for and give care to the helpless and weak. Orphans and widows are prime examples. I would like to suggest to you that the victim of abuse classifies as a widow, and therefore the Lord expects us to provide her with justice and protection. Why do we call her a widow? Because her husband really is no husband. He is an oppressor and tormentor. Often, she is a “widow indeed” because her abuser has successfully alienated the rest of her family from her.
1 Timothy 5:3-5 Honor widows who are truly widows. (4) But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. (5) She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day…
If you have studied this subject of abuse much at all, you know that this phrase “left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in prayers night and day…” is quite a good description of the Christian woman who is a victim of abuse.
Notice carefully then that the church – that’s US – is charged by God with “honoring” widows who are all alone, having no one to help them. Abuse victims are almost always “all alone.” What does it mean to “honor” such a woman? It means to render justice to them, and in particular it means to help them financially if necessary. You may not get that from the word “honor” at first reading, but a study of how the word is used in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s epistles, will prove to you that such is the case. See, for example, 1 Timothy 5:17.
If you will take your concordance or Bible software program and do a search of the word widow/widows, you will be amazed at how many times the people of God are charged with protecting and caring for the widow. God promises to bless us when we render care and justice to her, and to remove His blessing from us when we fail to do so. James says that visiting orphans and widows in their affliction is the heart of true religion. So, how’s your heart? How does your religion measure up to this test? Do abuse victims receive justice and protection and provision in your church? Many evangelical, Bible-believing churches flunk this test, as the repeated stories of Christian victims of abuse will testify. To those pastors and churches and Christians who do heed the Lord’s call, may the Lord make His face shine upon you.