“Why in the world doesn’t she just LEAVE him?!”
Did that question pop into your mind too while reading about all that the abused endure in Series 1?
The answer is not simple. There are so many intertwining factors, but the foundational reason is FEAR.
“Let Not the Wife Depart”
An abused wife who loves her Lord fears displeasing Him. Many churches give an abused wife no option of setting boundaries or consequences. Sadly, the alien world of abuse appears to be unresearched. Yet God hates lying, hypocrisy and oppression . . . and He authored “You reap what you sow”.
Separation for the purpose of alerting the abuser to the seriousness of his destructive, sinful behaviour patterns is a loving and godly act. A wife who has been able to acknowledge the abuse to herself, yet stays, is providing the abuser with further opportunity to sin, not to mention she is remaining in an unsafe situation.
Gently presenting the facts with humility and encouraging him to get help out of concern for his spiritual well-being is an act that contains no vengeance or bitterness (the common accusation). Rather, it offers him hope and a path he can choose to travel if he wants to rebuild his marriage into a healthy, Biblical relationship.
The wife is looking for the abuser to display genuine and broken-hearted sorrow over his sin (not just the consequences of his sin), to stop minimizing and justifying and to welcome any consequences accompanying the rebuilding of obliterated trust. Observing his stability over time and with counselling and accountability, she can agree to attempt to restore the relationship when she begins to feel safe in his presence.
Some wives fear getting out from under their “umbrella of authority”. They’ve been taught (Bill Gothard 1) that Satan will directly attack them and that God will reject and punish them. No exceptions. The egotistical dictator-husband (Jack Hyles and others) leaves no option but instant, unquestioning obedience. No exceptions. These unbalanced teachings are greenhouses where abusers thrive.
Mostly she fears the physical, emotional and spiritual abuse that she’s already been living with for years. She’s learned well that any resistance is not worth the consequences. 2Example: It has been agreed that Jan will give Ian 3 warnings – at 10 minute intervals – when dinner will be ready. Ian is often busy at his desk and that gives him time to wrap up what he’s working on. Yet, every single night the 8 other people in the family – even visitors – wait, seated around the table, from 10-15 minutes for Ian to show up so they can pray and eat together. An apology is rare. Jan waits for a private time and gently mentions this selfish pattern to Ian. As she feared, a cataclysmic eruption followed and it ended 3 hours later with everything being her fault and several bruises were added to her ‘collection’.
With a marriage like this, it is too overwhelming for Jan to even consider the consequences of her going to someone for help or leaving.3
Part 2 will have more things the abused fear.Joyfully, Joy ______ 1 A Matter of Basic Principles by Vernoit, Vernoit and Henzel 2 soulshepherding.com/2009/09/breaking_free_cycle_abuse 3 http://www.leslievernick.com/2013/12/30/why-do-I-stay