Abuse and Divorce: We’ve Got it Completely Backwards
Have you ever had a really good thought hit you while you were doing something totally unrelated? Here I was today, digging out this water line so I could insert a “T” fitting and make a new water faucet for the hose. All went well until I tried to fit the cut pipe back together. I had to do a lot more digging before it worked.
Anyway, in the middle of all of this, my mind wandered where it so often does these days – the unjust treatment of abuse victims in our churches. I had a kind of “eureka” moment just before the pipe slid back together. Here it is. As usual with these kinds of things, it really is just common sense.
Jesus addressed abusers. When He gave His instruction about divorce, he was talking to (or about) men who treacherously divorced their wives. Think about it. These are the people he was talking to. HE WAS NOT SPEAKING TO A WOMAN WHO CAME TO HIM PLEADING FOR RESCUE FROM HER EVIL HUSBAND. Sorry for the caps. Sometimes I need to shout.
What do we do today? Woman comes into her pastor’s office. Tells him her husband is actually a wicked man who has been emotionally, verbally, and even physically abusing her for years. Pastor pulls out his Bible. Turns to Matthew 19 and reads to her:
Matthew 19:7-9 ESV (7) They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” (8) He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Then he tells her she has no grounds for divorce, to go home and try harder.
JESUS DID NOT DO THIS! JESUS DID NOT DO THIS! This is what hit me at the water line hole. The words we are quoting to victims are the words Jesus spoke to the ABUSERS! And as you think about the implications of this, the horror of it begins to strike you. We are treating victims like their abusers! “Hmmm…let’s see. Jesus said something about that…ah yes, here it is! You are forbidden from divorcing your evil husband (or wife).” I mean, it really is the same thing as pulling out the account of Jesus whipping the moneychangers and then telling the woman she needs to get lashed!
Someone find me a Scripture where an oppressed person came to Jesus pleading for help and Jesus sent them back into their oppression. Find me a Scripture where Jesus told a suffering woman, for example, to go back to her suffering. I don’t know that Jesus. Here is the one I have met in God’s Word:
Matthew 4:23-24 ESV (23) And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. (24) So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.
Ok, back to the water line.