Today is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. So I want to take this opportunity to post CBMW’s 1994 Statement on Abuse and to raise my voice with the other voices around the world condemning the abuse of women.
Complementarians believe that God created male and female as complementary expressions of His image. We believe that men bear a distinct responsibility to be protectors. When a husband abuses his wife, it’s a heinous betrayal of his responsibility and a grievous sin in the eyes of God.
When CBMW was founded in 1987, its leaders wrote in the Danvers Statement that “We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern.” Among the items listed was “the upsurge of physical and emotional abuse in the family.” (Rationale #6)
At that time, CBMW leaders also committed themselves to work as a council:
- to bring healing to persons and relationships injured by an inadequate grasp of God’s will concerning manhood and womanhood,
- and to promote the spread of the gospel among all peoples by fostering a Biblical wholeness in relationships that will attract a fractured world. (Purpose #5)
In addition, the Danvers Statement affirmed that
- In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives. (Affirmation #6)
In view of the alarming rise in abuse in its many forms, CBMW recognized a need for a fuller, stronger declaration of our conviction that the Bible speaks clearly and forthrightly against abuse and that it speaks with equal clarity on the differing responsibilities of men and women in marriage.
So the Council issued an expanded statement on abuse as part of its continuing effort to communicate that the Bible’s teachings on male headship in marriage do not authorize a man’s domination or abuse of his wife.
We hope this statement will encourage Christians to oppose abuse wherever it appears.
Statement on Abuse
Adopted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at its meeting in Lisle, Illinois in November, 1994.
- We understand abuse to mean the cruel use of power or authority to harm another person emotionally, physically, or sexually.
- We are against all forms of physical, sexual and /or verbal abuse.
- We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).
- We believe that abuse is sin. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is the hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purpose of God. Abuse ought not to be tolerated in the Christian community.
- We believe that the Christian community is responsible for the well-being of its members. It has a responsibility to lovingly confront abusers and to protect the abused.
- We believe that both abusers and the abused are in need of emotional and spiritual healing.
- We believe that God extends healing to those who earnestly seek him.
- We are confident of the power of God’s healing love to restore relationships fractured by abuse, but we realize that repentance, forgiveness, wholeness, and reconciliation is a process. Both abusers and abused are in need of on-going counseling, support and accountability.
- In instances where abusers are unrepentant and/or unwilling to make significant steps toward change, we believe that the Christian community must respond with firm discipline of the abuser and advocacy, support and protection of the abused.
- We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian community can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.
A Charge to Pastors
I emailed Wayne Grudem earlier this week to ask what he would like to communicate to complementarian pastors on this Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This is what he said:
I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it. When pastors learn about abuse occurring in a home in their congregation, they have an obligation before God to seek to bring an immediate end to it, through direct personal conversation with the abuser, support of the abused, professional counselling, through means such as church discipline, protective personal intervention in dangerous situations, using law enforcement and other legal pressures, extensive prayer, and, if necessary, legal separation. Pastors also need to encourage their church members and attenders to tell someone in church leadership if abuse is occurring, so that appropriate means can be brought to bring an immediate end to it. Nobody in a leadership role in CBMW thinks that abuse within a marriage is justified by the biblical teachings about husbands and wives.
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor, Phoenix Seminary, and co-founder and past president of CBMW
Here are some links to what some other complementarian pastors and leaders have to say about abuse:
- Mike Cosper: Dear Bob—Abuse and the (Complementarian) Christian
- Matt Smethurst: Don’t Mess With Her, Man
- Justin Holcomb: A Hard Look at Violence Against Women
- Russell Moore: The Church and Violence against Women
- Owen Strachan: Why Abusive Men Repudiate True Manhood: Letter to an Abusive Husband
- Mark Driscoll: Men, don’t give women a reason to fear
- Thabiti Anyabwile: Dear Jack: A Letter to an Abusive Husband
- Justin Taylor: The Church, the Gospel, and Violence against Women
- Jonathan Leeman: Violence against Women and Church Discipline (9Marks Blog)
- John Piper: Words on Wife Abuse
Would you take a moment right now to pray for the women in your church? Pray that any abusive relationships may come to light, and that abuse may not remain hidden. Pray for abused women to have the courage to seek help. Pray for the leaders and counselors to know how to wisely deal with each situation. Pray for the power of God to bring insight, clarity, deliverance and healing. Pray that the church may seek to reflect the loving, protective heart of God, and work for the elimination of violence against women.
In my next post, I’ll take this topic further by talking about the common signs of abuse, and what can be done about it.