How should individual Christians, pastors and churches respond to the issue of spousal abuse?
James Alsdurf (author of “Battered Into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse,” by InterVarsity Press) conducted a survey of nearly 6,000 Protestant pastors in the US and Canada on what to do in cases of spousal abuse. Twenty five percent of the pastors surveyed said that the wife should submit to her husband and trust that God would honor the action either by stopping the abuse or giving her the strength to endure it.
I have previously written on the issues of submission, divorce and remarriage. In particular, I recounted the tragic and true story of Lucy Tisland (discussed in Alsdurf’s book cited above). Please do take the time to read these articles, if you haven’t done so yet.
I also recommend that you read the following articles which discuss how the church should confront the issue of wife battering.
[A] “When Violence Comes Home” by David Sper, Radio Bible Class Ministries;In answer to the question I began this article with, please let me state the following:
[B] “Abuse and Domestic Violence” by Probe Ministries;
[C] “Rocking the Roles” by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks, Navpress, especially Chapter 22 :The Church: A Refuge for Women” and Chapter 23 “Church Intervention: A Case Study”
 I wholeheartedly agree with the view of David Eckert of Wheaton College on spousal abuse in his article entitled “Spousal Abuse and the Church: The Impact of the Fall on Gender Relations.” Eckert says that “physically, verbally and emotionally abusing one’s wife is not in keeping with a marital love centered on Christ.” As to the rest of Eckert’s article, I take some strong exceptions.
 I also endorse the view of Lewis and Hendricks in their book “Rocking the Roles” specifically page 135. They say that “a Biblically submissive wife’s focus is not on enabling wrong behavior but on empowering her husband to pursue right behavior.”
 The RBC Ministries article cited above suggests programs of action and practical actions that pastors, counselors and churches can do to provide help for women in abusive relationships. Except for the article’s view on divorce, I recommend this article to pastors and counselors as a model for their own response and intervention programs for victims of abuse.
 As one Probe Ministries article puts it, “We must distinguish between an abusive relationship and an unfulfilling relationship.” Or as I mentioned in one RA 9262 seminar I conducted for a church, “We must end the abuse and save the marriage.”
No one, not even an abusive husband, is beyond God’s redeeming grace.
 Spousal abuse is a sin, and as such, must be dealt with in keeping with Matthew 18, in situations where the spouses concerned are members of the church. The Probe Ministries article I cited above discusses this action in greater detail.
 Spousal abuse is not only a sin, but also a crime punishable under RA 9262. Since Romans 13 commands us to be subject to the higher powers, pastors and church counselors cannot close their eyes, send the abused woman back into the abusive situation, and hope for the best. God’s miracle and protection for the abused woman have already been provided for in laws such as RA 9262. Pastors and counselors should therefore be familiar with the provisions of this law in order to ably counsel abused women on their rights.
Please take note that I do have reservations about RA 9262. In a future post, I will discuss how the Supreme Court guidelines for judges and lawyers seem to have softened quite a bit some of the “harsh” provisions of RA 9262.
Evangelical Christians are the best husbands – University of Virginia study
W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at University of Virginia, states in his book “Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands” categorically states:
“Religion is a powerful influence in creating the best kind of husbands and dads. Indeed, the home of an active conservative Protestant father seems to be one of the safest places for women and children today.”Wilcox, a Roman Catholic whose father and grandfather were Episcopal ministers, cited data from the large scale National Survey of Families and Households taken in the early 1990s. He says that “the lowest rate of reported domestic violence is among active evangelical husbands. Only 2.8 percent of active evangelical protestant husbands commit domestic violence, compared to 7.2 percent of nominal evangelical husbands – those who attend church once or twice a year or not at all.”
Wilcox, in a 2004 Christianity Today interview with David LeBlanc, argues that “religion domesticates men, helping them focus on their families.” He explains further:
“Familism is the idea that the family is one of the paramount institutions in our society and that persons should take seriously their responsibilities to their spouse, children and parents. Familism is associated, for instance, with strong support for the marital vow and hence, with a high level of disapproval for divorce. Evangelicals register the highest levels of familism of any major religious group in the United States, with the possible exception of the Mormons.”John Bartkowski, professor of sociology at Mississippi State University, in an article by Jonah D. King from the Religion News Service, says that “the male peer group in a church serves to keep fathers and husbands in line, reminding them of their responsibilities.”
In the same article, Dean Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, citing Wilcox’s book, slams feminist groups by saying that “a hierarchical family structure with men at the top fosters a more harmonious family life … The very fathers who hold to traditional gender roles are also the ones who seem to be so committed to their wives and their children.”
Jenet Jacob, a social fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in her review of Wilcox’s book, states:
“Wilcox effectively discredits the assertion that conservative Protestantism propagates an authoritarian style characterized by low levels of positive involvement and high levels of corporal punishment and domestic violence. Instead, Wilcox’s research indicates that conservative Protestant fathers express more affection and praise toward their children and spend more time with them. In addition, the wives of these conservative Protestants say they feel more appreciated for their household labor, are more satisfied with the affection, love and understanding they receive from their husbands, and have more time socializing with them. Furthermore, active conservative Protestant men have the lowest rates of domestic violence of any group reported in the study.”