"It’s never permissible under any circumstance for you to raise your hand toward your wife in anger or abuse"

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

For all the good this letter intimates that it intends it discredits itself with the use of abusive speech toward "Jack". The Pastor says if Jack's wife were his daughter he is afraid he would be writing to Jack in the hospital and he in prison.

He is the bully just as well as Jack. One might say this kind of thing off-hand but in the context of lecturing someone about abuse and posturing as a source of remediation of abuse it is the pot calling the kettle black. It may not be the same degree of abuse but it is abusive speech and discredits the author.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree that threatening violence to someone who is committing violence undermines his argument, even though he acknowledges that his reaction would be sinful. It certainly is understandable that if someone were hurting an innocent and vulnerable woman or child, the instinctive response is to defend- but unless you are present during an attack, any violence committed would not be legal or moral. 

As a wife who experienced a period of time when my husband was an abusive alcoholic, I am comfortable saying that if a wife can find it within herself to hold the rope for him and keep herself and her kids safe, she should try to do both. I agree totally that (depending on the kind and degree of abuse) one of the goals should be the restoration of the husband and marriage, but the protection and healing of the wife and children should be a primary goal. The responsibility for the healing of the marriage should not rest on the victim(s). Trusting someone who has committed violence against you inside your own home, especially a man who is most likely bigger and stronger than his wife... let's just say it takes a very long time to be comfortable in the same room, much less in the same bed. It takes an enormous amount of self-control not to flinch or cringe from his presence or his touch, and those instincts of self-preservation aren't a lack of forgiveness- they are common sense. This healing process should not be rushed, and the abuser needs to spend a significant amount of time earning trust. 

In my situation, it was possible to not only restore my husband's relationship with God, but his relationship with me. The last 10+ years have been more than wonderful. Every situation is different- there is no template or formula.

I think it needs to be emphasized that the victim should always report to law enforcement first and the church second. Physical violence toward another person is breaking the law, and as much as I believe in the importance of the church in the life of a Christian, it is not more important for the church to discipline the person than it is for law enforcement to be involved. It is not 'unsubmissive' or a betrayal of vows or a violation of marital privacy/confidence or rebelling against authority to report a criminal act. 

It should also be noted that while statistically speaking, men are more likely to be abusers, I've known a few women in my time that I call "plate-throwers". When they get mad, they break and throw things, which is inexcusable. It may not be taken as seriously as when a husband/man is violent, but I don't see why it shouldn't be treated as abuse when a woman physically violent towards her husband.