Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 3 – Forgiveness

“Drunk Father” by George Bellows (c. 1923), Source Library of Congress (Digital ID cph.3g04623) (PD-Art, Old-70)

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with the widely misunderstood topic of forgiveness.

Christ came to forgive sins (Matt. 26: 28; Rom. 5: 28).  He repeatedly forgave sinners (Luke 7: 44-50), using the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” even from the cross (Luke 23: 34).

Christians are called on to love their enemies, to forgive those who persecute them (Matt: 5:44; Luke 6: 27-29).  The Lord’s Prayer contains the line, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt. 6: 12).

“Forgiveness Requires that a Woman Return to an Unsafe Marriage”

But the assertion that forgiveness requires a woman to return to an unsafe marriage is patently false.

Forgiveness and trust are distinct from one another.  A Christian woman may choose to forgive her husband’s caustic comments, his violence and brutality – electing not to waste any more of her life in bitterness or regret.  She need not live in fear under his roof, and run the risk of additional harm to herself or children.

“There Is No Escape from Marriage but Death”

Many an ignorant minister has described submission to the point of death as the hallmark of a Christian woman, and divorce as more harmful to children than a childhood spent in an abusive home.

However, the biblical right of self-defense supersedes any duty of “submission” to an abusive spouse.  Women and children were not ordained as sacrificial lambs to the tempers of men.

As many as 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually [1].  These children are likely to experience low self-esteem, social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression [2].  The boys so exposed are many times more likely than normal to become abusers; the girls, many times more likely to become victims [3].

If nothing else, we must save our children.

[1]  Huffington Post, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It’s An Epidemic” by Alanna Vagianos, 10/23/14 (Updated 2/13/15),

[2] and [3]  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The Effects of Child Abuse and Exposure to Domestic Violence on Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior Problems” by C. Moylan, T. Herrenkohl, C. Sousa, E. Tajima, R. Herrehkohl, and MJ Russo, 1/10,

Originally posted 9/27/15

This series will conclude next week with Part 4 – Public Shame



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Physical Abuse, Religion, Violence Against Women

11 responses to “Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 3 – Forgiveness

  1. Amen, Anna. If we believe that the Lord made a tremendous investment in us, then we are are called to take care of His investment. That’s not selfish at all,that’s like a commandment. Our lives are precious to Him, we are His not our own. When we honor ourselves,we honor Him.

    Also, abusers already have a Savior, someone who martyred Himself to save them. It’s wrong to expect a spouse to do that for you, or to advocate that someone else must be willing to die for your sins. It’s one thing to give your life in sacrifice protecting another, but it’s a whole different thing to waste away in an abusive situation. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do, is to walk away.

    As to the Lord, He is merciful and quick to forgive. The Apostle Paul was once a murderer and He went on to repent and have an amazing ministry. So if the Lord is kind to forgive us of other things, He is surely full of mercy when it comes to abuse and divorce.

  2. Excellent points, dear Anna… the hermeneutic interpretation has to be correlated with other biblical precepts… each issue should be considered as a whole thing… plus, a dynamic approach is necessary as cultural, social and economic circumstances are important as well… sending love and best wishes 🤗💛

  3. “Women and children were not ordained as sacrificial lambs to the tempers of men.” This sentence says it all! great post as always

  4. I find this post very interesting. It brings to mind the contentious traditional wedding vow phrases, “for-better-for-worse” and “till death do us part” both of which has made lots of spouses endure untold hardship including abuse. Christian marriage counselors and preachers need to shine more light into these ideaologies. Wonderful post, Anna❤️

    • You are always so kind, Gbolabo. ❤ The phrase "for better or worse" relates, in my view, to the travails life inflicts — circumstances over which the spouses, themselves, have little or no control. A spouse may lose his/her job due to economic downturn. A couple may lose a child or both become displaced persons in wartime. Fidelity under such circumstances is a blessing. The phrase "till death do us part" should not be misinterpreted as a promise to remain faithful until one spouse murders the other.

  5. Yes, there are some men who are so abusive that a woman would be wise to leave, for her physical and mental health.

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