I have found it necessary to dive yet again into the wave of the ongoing outcry against domestic abuse. As usual, my articles are primarily focused on the thousands of people who are members of our network of churches in Global Harvest and people within my circle of influence. I have a responsibility under God to continue to provide scriptural guidance as an overseer.
Abuse can be verbal, emotional, psychological, economic, or physical. All are very cruel and no spouse is deserving of them. The physical is the most dangerous because it puts life at immediate danger but verbal and emotional abuses can be silent killers also. It is crucial that none of them is tolerated in Christian homes but that efforts are made to stop them as soon as possible. It is my belief that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there is no believer that is not capable of overcoming their tendencies towards any of them. It is my further observation that verbal abuse is often a provocator of physical abuse. As much as physical abuse cannot be excused, it is pertinent that we admonish victims of abuse that they learn to not let any corrupt communication come out of their mouths (Ephesians 4:29). Those who would love life and see good days are to keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking guile)1 Peter 3:10). This form of abuse is attributable to both genders. The tongue is described by James as a spark that can create a massive firestorm (James 3:5). In analysing the roots of physical abuse, we cannot overlook this powerful enabler. The couple who will choose to control their conversation especially during conflict will quickly arrest violence.
I have never been the type to look for words. Quite sanguine from birth, my older brother Sam could not fathom how I talked non stop for hours as a child. It took getting married for me to come to terms with the fact that people do reflect before speaking as they search for the right words to use. You can imagine my vituperations when Jummy and I had differences. It took her vehement protest for me to mindfully begin to set a watch on my lips, rather than let them loose uncontrollably. Many times it’s the woman that is more endowed with linguistic ability. Unfortunately, the greatest need of the male gender is for respect. In the words of the late Dr Myles Munroe, ‘where needs are not met, there is malfunction’. The need to feel in charge is at times expressed in violence which unfortunately leads to more disrespect and loss of control. The barbaric act of physical abuse devalues a man and turns him into one worthy of more disrespect and rejection. There is a king and a fool in every man (the fool is in the flesh). A wise woman draws out the king in him but an unwise woman, the fool. The king acts decently, respectfully and gently. The fool acts indecently, rudely and aggressively.
I am explaining all of this in the hope that before people leave their marriages, they will first of all carry out honest examinations in which they will ask themselves if they have not contributed to the ugly status in anyway. Whether male or female, the abuse of a spouse may often becloud our judgment to see our own faults which if not attended to, could lead to another marital failure in the future. For some who have left, the way forward is backwards as they and their estranged spouses subject their relationships to counseling, accountability and therapy. In so doing, they receive superior wisdom to see themselves as they ought to and accept their contributions to the status between them and their spouses. The Yorubas have an adage that loosely translated, goes like ‘If a child falls down, he looks forward. But if an adult does, he looks back’. It is maturity to look back dispassionately and look at what has happened to us objectively and selflessly. The capacity of us humans for self deceit however, makes it difficult (Jeremiah 17:9). We often need the help of dispassionate and neutral Counsellors to help reveal us to ourselves. If not for self deceit, why will a violent man be justifying himself? But it is the same self deceit that makes a verbally abusive woman to conclude she is a saint all because her husband was physically abusive.
Having grown in the last almost 30 years of our marriage, Jumoke and I believe most marriages can be mended if the two parties will be committed to each other for life, seek counseling when their marriage is threatened, take a first step of temporary separation where seemingly irreconcilable and with spiritual and professional counseling seek reconciliation. As Christians, the divorce court should not be our first port of call when we have challenges, it should be the last. Why the hastening to court when living apart already removes the threat of danger? Even if counseling would reveal it is better you go separate ways, you owe it to your children and all who would be hurt and affected by your divorce to be selfless enough to have made efforts to make it work. It’s amazing how many marriages subjected to the love of God and the help of others have been saved and blossomed to become blissful and impactful at the end of the day. The shouts of ‘LEAVE’ have been loud this season but it may not be for everyone.
May I propose you leave TEMPORARILY and seek spiritual and professional help first before you head for the courts. If you end up in court, remarriage after divorce is still possible where one or both of you realise your wrong.
In conclusion today, if all your efforts fail and your marriage falls apart like a pack of cards, it hurts deeply and affects badly. Realise that God can make a miracle out of your mistakes. In Jeremiah 18, we see how a vessel got marred in the hands of the porter, and yet out of the crucibles, he made another beautiful vessel. Out of your brokenness can still emerge a beautiful life, an amazing home and a glorious destiny. Wipe your tears. learn the lessons you should from the past and move on the grace, into the sunshine that awaits after this rain. There is still a future for you!