We’ve had a good discussion this week about the issue of safety and whether or not separation or divorce is Biblical. Traditional teaching on this is that a wife should keep her vows no matter what and this honors God the most. I disagree.
Glad debated whether or not Cheryl was regularly in danger of being killed, even though Cheryl said she did fear for her life. So this week’s questions is, Does a spouse have to threaten to kill his spouse multiple times to make it make the danger more credible and dangerous to stay?
In my opinion, one threat is too many. I’ve been married to the same person for 44 years. Never has he threatened to harm me in any way. The very essence of a good marriage is safety. Proverbs 31, the husband of the virtuous woman, describes his marriage this way. “He trusts her to do him good, not harm all the days of his life.” When you don’t have that basic kind of trust then what? Does God require a wife to stay in a dangerous or harmful situation and does doing so honor him?
The Bible calls all adults to steward the one life we have been given. Are we called to lay it down sometimes for the welfare of another? Absolutely. Jesus demonstrated that kind of sacrificial love when he voluntarily went to the cross. But Jesus didn’t always allow himself to be mistreated. Often he escaped from those who were seeking to harm him. Jesus loved Judas, but he didn’t pretend to have a good relationship with him and was honest with him, giving Judas a chance to repent.
Every day we read in the news of a woman being murdered by a husband or ex-husband. Does this honor God? Does this speak of sacrificial love, especially when children are also murdered or left orphaned by two dead parents or one dead and the other in prison? I don’t think so. Throughout the Bible, God showed care for the oppressed and never once was he on the side of the oppressor. His heart is to rescue the oppressed, not force them into more oppression and abuse.
You cannot feel safe or live safe with someone who has threatened to kill you for whatever reason. Whether he is evil, wicked, or even mentally ill. God does not value the institution of marriage more than he does a person’s physical, mental, and emotional safety. Click To Tweet
The Bible warns, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” (Proverbs 27:12)
Below is an acronym DANGEROUS that I developed to help counselors, pastors, and people helpers quickly discern the level of physical danger someone in a destructive marriage might be in. Please do not feel guilty for protecting yourself and your children from danger and harm.
D – Divorce or separation: If you plan to leave your spouse your level of danger may actually increase. Therefore, please develop a good exit strategy and safety plan. You can get some additional help from your local domestic violence shelter or the following links:
A – Alcohol Or Drugs: Alcohol or drug use does not make someone abuse others however, it does lower internal controls and restraints. If your spouse has been abusive and threatening or has those tendencies and also is using drugs and alcohol, it increases the degree of your danger.
N – Narcissistic Tendencies: Someone who lacks empathy, objectifies and uses people and has little regard for their feelings and sometimes even their lives.
G – Guns Or Weapons: Are there guns in your home? Are they locked up? Are they loaded? Having weapons easily accessible greatly increases your danger levels.
E – Emotional Instability: Does your spouse or his family have a history of mental illness? If so it increases your danger levels.
R – Rebellious Towards Authority: Does your spouse have other people who he is accountable to? Does he submit? If he is rebellious toward authority, this indicates a higher risk level of danger for you.
O – Other Violent Behaviors: Does he have a history of other abusive behavior? Has he harmed pets or animals? If so, that increases your danger.
U – Unpredictable Dr. Jeckyl/ Mr Hyde: Does he have a secret separate life that only you see? Is he one person in public and another at home? If yes, that makes your danger levels increase.
S – Suicidal And Homicidal Threats: Anytime your spouse threatens to take his own life or someone else’s life, take it seriously. If you have experienced more than just this one danger warning signal, please consult with an expert on domestic abuse on your next steps forward. The hotline for help is 1 800-799-SAFE or 1 800-787-7233.
Please don’t ignore these warning signs. God is showing you that you are in danger. He cares about your well-being and wants you to steward your safety and your very life. And your self-stewardship could be the very mechanism that wakes your spouse up to his destructive and dangerous ways.
Friends, when you discovered you were unsafe or in danger what steps did you take to get safe? Include the mental, emotional, or spiritual preparation you needed to take those steps?