Far More Precious
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10
All my life, I was told that God was the God of Love. I was told if I loved my neighbor, in return I would be rewarded with love. So when in high school, when I was lured into what would become a four-year abusive relationship, I found myself at a complete loss.
“This could not be what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to turn the other cheek,” I thought. I was spiraling into a cycle of being hit and then forgiving my abuser, hoping that my ‘love’ was enough to save him from his sinfulness. I could have gotten myself killed for it.
Many of my Christian peers at the time congratulated me for having the humility and patience required to remain with my attacker. To them, my suffering was just another cross that I needed to take up in order to bring more people to salvation. Surely, through by persistent example, my abusive boyfriend would see the light and come to Jesus. He would eventually have no choice but to see how I had stood beside him and never wavered in supporting him, wouldn’t he?
It would take a nasty break-up, a restraining order and several years before I would realize just how wrong I was. So today, I want to share some things that I have learned, in the hopes that it may be used to save others the same, long road of injustice:
• Christian love does not require women to remain in abusive relationships, no matter what the circumstance.
• A Christian woman knows that, just as all other children of God have an intrinsic worth, so does she. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 As God has commanded His children to protect life, and the dignity of human life, so does He command us to respect the dignity of our own persons.
• Christian love does not mean giving in to our beloved’s commands, nor does it mean retaining possession of our beloved. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do, especially in abusive relationships, is to keep ourselves from enabling attackers. Even Jesus rebuked Peter out of love (“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”Mark 8:33) when Peter insisted on his ‘humanly concerns.’ In that circumstance, Jesus compared Peter to Satan in order to show Peter the errors of his ways. In a way that seemed harsh, Jesus helped Peter become more of a Man of God.
• A Christian woman knows that she has been charged to be submissive to her husband (“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18). At the same time, she also knows that God has charged her husband to love his wife as himself, and to behave himself as if he was Christ (“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” 33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-23, 33). Women do not have a responsibility to submit themselves to the good of men who do not attempt to make themselves Men of God; and men of God command respect from their women through love and care, and not physical or mental violence.
• A Christian man knows that an ‘excellent’ wife, though hard to find, is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10 see above). An excellent woman is one who is allowed to follow her vocation as she is called to by God, one who is allowed to flourish in her family, in her Church, and in her larger community. A Christian man, therefore, should take care to cultivate his wife into such an ‘excellent’ woman through upholding her dignity.
God wishes for none of His children to suffer at the hands of another of His children. He died for the dignity and salvation of His creation and it is up to us to make sure that we are protecting those among us who are most vulnerable. This includes those in our community who are trapped in abusive relationships, and kept there in the name of being a ‘good Christian’, or a ‘good wife’, or a ‘good girlfriend.’
A good woman knows her worth and she protects it. A good man knows the worth of a woman and he protects that. Abuse is never acceptable. And by the grace of God, one day the world will see that. But it takes someone standing up to it. That someone can be you.
Elizabeth Rose, a twenty-something college student and the author of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. Available now from Mockingbird Lane Press, 10% of all author royalties will be donated to local battered women shelters.