Daily Observer (Jamaica)

WIFE-BEAT­ING in the CHURCH

- Religion · Society · Lifestyle · Domestic Violence · Marriage · Violence and Abuse · Family · Copyright · Law · Jamaica · Twitter · Public Domain

by its cover, but if you asked me at the time, this was a de­cent ‘good up-good up’ Ja­maican man, kind enough to pa­tiently help out a sis­ter with car trou­bles. His nos­trings-at­tached help re­newed my hope in a kin­der, gen­tler Ja­maica where we serve and help each other. Clearly how­ever, his home life was not kind or gen­tle.

That is the two-sided mys­tery in which our com­mu­ni­ties — in­side and out­side the Church — find them­selves. In the pub­lic do­main, wife beat­ers are of­ten­times ‘nice’ men — help­ful, gen­tle, kind, and gen­er­ous. In their pri­vate lives, they seem to be bar­baric vil­lains. With hus­bands and wives forced to spend more time to­gether be­cause of the COVID-19 re­stric­tions, it is use­ful to re­flect on the bib­li­cal frame­work for how a hus­band should treat his wife, es­pe­cially within the con­text of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or wife-beat­ing.

Here is just a sam­ple of what the Bi­ble re­quires in terms of how a hus­band should treat his wife in a Chris­tian mar­riage:

“Hus­bands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” – Colos­sians 3:19.

There is no am­bi­gu­ity here. I would imag­ine that this in­struc­tion to “not be harsh with them” in­cludes no shout­ing, shov­ing or slap­ping. Chris­tian hus­bands who are harsh with their wives must be held ac­count­able.

“Hus­bands ought to love their wives as their own bod­ies. He who loves his wife loves him­self. Af­ter all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” – Eph­e­sians 5:28-29.

So if a hus­band loves his wife like his own body, he wouldn’t beat her, un­less of course he is sadis­tic. Also, Christ loved the church in a sac­ri­fi­cial way — giv­ing his life for her good. This is a tall or­der for a hus­band, but it is the bib­li­cal pre­req­ui­site in mar­riage. This type of sac­ri­fi­cial love is an­ti­thet­i­cal to wife-beat­ing or abuse of any kind.

“Hus­bands, in the same way be con­sid­er­ate as you live with your wives, and treat them with re­spect as the weaker part­ner and as heirs with you of the gra­cious gift of life, so that noth­ing will hin­der your prayers.” – 1 Peter 3:7.

So the wife is a joint heir, equal to the hus­band and not his slave or punch­ing bag! Ad­di­tion­ally, it is in­ter­est­ing to note that treat­ing your spouse poorly or un­faith­fully can hin­der your spir­i­tual life. Malachi 2:13-15 re­in­forces the point: “You flood the Lord’s al­tar with tears. You weep and wail be­cause he no longer looks with favour on your of­fer­ings or ac­cepts them with plea­sure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is be­cause the Lord is the wit­ness be­tween you and the wife of your youth. You have been un­faith­ful to her, though she is your part­ner, the wife of your mar­riage covenant…so be on your guard, and do not be un­faith­ful to the wife of your youth.”

So the good book has a lot to of­fer on how a hus­band should treat his wife. The prob­lem is the hearts and minds that have not yielded to the in­struc­tion of Scrip­ture and are mas­querad­ing as right­eous men in our midst. In Ja­maican so­ci­ety we can liken this sit­u­a­tion to hav­ing ad­e­quate laws for a crime, but weak en­force­ment. The church must call a spade a spade and stand by what the Bi­ble teaches about how a hus­band should treat his wife and use that bib­li­cal frame­work to build an ad­e­quate re­sponse to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Of course, there are in­stances, al­though far less preva­lent, in which hus­bands suf­fer do­mes­tic vi­o­lence at the hands of their wives. Those wives too must be held ac­count­able.

In the end, may ev­ery hus­band who beats his wife truly re­pent (stop beat­ing her) and find bib­li­cal coun­selling that both re­bukes and coun­sels him; and may ev­ery wife who suf­fers in si­lence find the courage to es­cape and find good coun­sel that re­stores her self-es­teem, health, and over­all well-be­ing.

And may she also find a friend in me and you, ready to pro­vide hope, heal­ing, and help.

Shelly-ann Har­ris is the au­thor of sev­eral ti­tles in­clud­ing her lat­est, God’s Woman. Con­nect with Shelly-ann on Twit­ter @ Har­ris­shellyann

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