Christians and Domestic Violence

When Bluestocking interviewed me on her podcast during my blog book tour, she raised an interesting question. She asked how I would respond to someone who blames domestic violence on Christianity. She explained this issue came up in a law school class on domestic violence, and she had been surprised at how many people said Christianity caused domestic violence.

People who are hostile to Christianity will use any excuse to blame Christian faith and practice for anything and everything. Unfortunately, there are people who claim to be Christians who give ammunition to the critics. In Dream or Destiny, David’s father claimed he had the moral right as the head of the Christian family to discipline his wife and children using violence. David turned against religion until he left home and came in contact with true believers and realized that his father’s words and actions were the opposite of the teachings of Christ. The abuser’s excuse was just that—an excuse, not a justification.

St. Paul’s words in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 are often misinterpreted to mean that the husband should completely control the wife.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. ~ Colossians 3:18, NIV

However, the rest of the passage is frequently ignored by those hostile to Christian faith and by those using the Bible as an excuse for abuse.

 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.  ~ Colossians 3:19-21, NIV

The word submit does not mean subject yourself to abuse. Submit means to yield to the authority of someone else or to defer to another’s judgement. In any organization—a business, a club, a government, a family—the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to make decisions.

The owner of a business will probably surround himself with talented people he trusts. He will solicit and consider their advice. He will probably authorize them to make many decisions independently. However, the business owner retains the authority to make the final decision on major issues. He has the responsibility of the success of the company, but he values his employees and heeds their opinions.

In the same way, a Christian husband will discuss decisions with his wife. If they don’t agree, she can try to persuade him to her way of thinking. A good husband will listen to his wife and give serious consideration to her ideas. However, if they continue to disagree and a decision has to be made, the husband’s vote is the tie-breaker.

A Christian husband who is sincerely striving to follow God’s will shows respect for his wife and prays about his decisions. He will never abuse his wife or children. Rather, he will do everything in his power to love, nurture, and protect them.

Unfortunately, many churches fail to recognize domestic violence in their congregations. The book Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence describes the experiences of a woman who was abused by her pastor husband. Although I’m not in complete agreement with some of the theology author Jocelyn E Andersen espouses, I think it is important for Christians to be aware that domestic violence can happen within the church. An abused woman needs spiritual help, of course, but she also needs help to get out of a dangerous, life-threatening situation.

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am trying to do my part to raise awareness of this serious problem everywhere it exists, including the church.

I am donating $5 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for every copy of Dream or Destiny sold during the month of October. 

Dream&FernI will also give every purchaser a free e-book of Fern’s Fancies as a thank-you for supporting my efforts to raise money to fight domestic violence.

You can order Dream or Destiny from the publisher,, or directly from me. If you order directly from me, I will make the donation and send your e-book from the information on the order. If you order from the publisher or, please complete the form below so I can send you the e-book and make the donation.

Note: request form removed 11/1/09 as promotion is over.

Share this!