Sometimes unresolved conflict and anger may develop into a very negative, destructive dynamic, even an abusive relationship. Abuse can take a number of forms—physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, et cetera. But any form of abuse is contrary to the central principle of God’s kingdom—unselfish love.
What crucial teachings about relationships are found in 1 John 4:7-8 and Colossians 3:19?
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19, NIV). The word harsh in the original Greek language refers to one’s being angry or bitter toward the partner, causing continued pain, intense hostility, and expressions of hatred toward the other. Paul is very clear that a spouse is not to be hostile or violent. Emotional, sexual, and physical abuse is not acceptable behavior for a Christian husband or partner. Instead, what is acceptable is to love your spouse. Paul also makes it clear that love is patient and kind and that love does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, does not keep record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. None of the attributes of love even remotely condones or accepts abuse in any way, shape, or form.
A healthy relationship is one in which both partners feel protected and safe, in which anger is managed in a healthy way, and in which serving one another is the norm. Often victims of abuse feel guilty, as if they were responsible for provoking their abuser or that perhaps they somehow deserve the abuse they receive. Abusers can be quite controlling and often skillful at making their victims feel responsible. The truth is that no one deserves to be abused by another, and abusers are responsible for their own choices and actions. The good news is that the Bible offers comfort, not guilt, for the victims of abuse. In some situations, in which the problem gets unmanageable, people should not be afraid to seek outside help.
|How unfortunate that some cultures all but condone abuse of women. Why should no Christian ever fall into that kind of behavior, regardless of what their culture allows?|