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 . These children are likely to experience low self-esteem, social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression . The boys so exposed are many times more likely than normal to become abusers; the girls, many times more likely to become victims .
If nothing else, we must save our children.
 Huffington Post, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It’s An Epidemic” by Alanna Vagianos, 10/23/14 (Updated 2/13/15), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html.
 and  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, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872483/.
This series will conclude next week with Part 4 – Public Shame
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