One of the clearest teachings in Scripture is that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). God created men and women in his image, which means that all people, male or female, white or black, young or old, Democrat or Republican, American, North Korean or Syrian, Christian, Muslim or Atheist and everyone else possess intrinsic value and dignity.
Therefore, the way we treat other human beings matters enormously to God. The systems and power plays that have existed to oppress people throughout history are wicked and should be repudiated by the church of Jesus Christ.
In our cultural moment, we are constantly seeing attacks on the imago Dei. One of the clearest forms of these attacks is abuse towards women. The rise of the #metoo and #churchtoo movement has been a painful reminder that in his church and from those who call themselves leaders there is a gross toleration of something God despises: abuse
In the past couple of days, the question about what the Bible says about spousal abuse and whether or not divorce is allowed in such cases as come to the forefront. Some leaders, such as Paige Patterson, have advocated in the past that a woman should submit to her husband, even taking abuse, so that she can “pray her husband through this”.
I want to be clear: Abuse of any kind is not in step with the gospel of Jesus and should be condemned in the strongest terms. If a husband is abusing his wife, the answer is not further submission and prayer by the wife. The answer is for the church to assist her through removing her from the situation, calling the police and cooperating with any investigation so that justice can take place.
Therefore, divorce is allowed in cases of abuse because the abuser has made the home unsafe, which is a form of abandonment (1 Corinthians 7).
We do not honor Jesus, nor do we honor those created in his image, when we treat spousal abuse (or any type of abuse for that matter) as if it is not an assault on what God has created good.
Dr. Russell Moore recently tweeted: Marriage as a picture of the Christ/church mystery (Eph. 5:32) means that spousal abuse is not only cruel and unlawful, but is all that and also blasphemous against a Christ who loves and sacrificed himself for his Bride.
I want my daughter to grow up in a church where she feels valued and protected. I hope, if she marries, that she marries a man who will not abuse her, but love her and cherish her. Yet, her value isn’t rooted in the fact that she is someone’s daughter or someday that she is someone’s wife, boss, employee, etc. Her value is that she was created by God. She is an image bearer of the One who does not stand silent in the face of abuse, but who promises all abuse has an expiration date.
As a church, we stand for women and with women against abuse whether sexual, physical or otherwise. The church is to be a refuge and safe place away from abuse, not a hideout for those too cowardly to face the consequences of their actions. Yes, we preach grace. But we also want justice.
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