All too often, in an effort to sound holy or religious or close to God, people will attribute a situation to God when he actually has nothing to do with it. This week, an example of this played out in an interview on NBC’s Today show. Explaining the video seen ’round the world of NFL player Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, knocking out his then fiancee Janay Rice and dragging her from an Atlantic City elevator, Mrs. Rice stated the violent attack was part of God’s plan in using her and her husband to bring attention to the problem of domestic abuse.
As many victims of domestic abuse do, Mrs. Rice expressed anger at the expressions of outrage that criticized Ray Rice and the NFL over how it all went down. I feel sorry for her as a victim of such abuse, but the incident had nothing at all to do with anything God planned out. If anything, it should have been seen as a sign that maybe she should rethink the nature of her relationship and that some professional, godly counseling are in order for both of them if she chooses to remain in the relationship.
God’s word has plenty to say that can be applied to abusive relationships. Unfortunately, a lot of churches are squeamish about addressing the subject and are comfortable with letting wives and/or children endure the abuse. I believe the main principle to be applied is Jesus’s statement about God’s general view of sacrifices (marriage is, after all, a sacrifice). Jesus quoted the prophet Hosea in Matthew 12 when religious leaders unjustly criticized his hungry disciples for trying to preserve their lives by plucking and eating corn on their way to synagogue. He said, “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless,” Matthew 12:7.
Whenever a choice must be made between what is justifiably merciful versus unnecessarily or questionably sacrificial, God prefers the merciful route. Ephesians 5:25-29 commands husbands to love and cherish their wives like Christ does for the church and like any normal human does for his own body. Then in Colossians 3:19, husbands are commanded to not be bitter toward their wives. 1 Peter 3:7 commands husbands to honor their wives and dwell with them in godly knowledge (which includes the Golden Rule and the two greatest commandments that Jesus was asked about). Disobedience to this hinders the husband’s prayers.
Domestic abuse is a violation of all of these God-inspired commands and would, therefore, go against God’s plans. I’m of the opinion that Christian women in abusive relationships should flee them, praying to the Lord to show them the way out and trusting him to be their provider since he’s Jehovah-Jireh. And for unsaved abused women, thank God for Christians who minister to and help them in whatever capacity.
Harry A. Gaylord