I’ve covered how the bible views abuse by looking at Ephesians 4 (physical and verbal abuse) and Ephesians 5:1-21 (sexual abuse). All abuse is emotional abuse.
Paul wrote about these things first before going over the ideal family unit. You can’t have an ideal family at all without first knowing what isn’t.
But First a Review
Chapter 4 confirms that Jesus is the one who ascended. We should only worship him. He is the only one God and we are all connected to Him. He gives us gifts to edify and encourage.
In a dark contrast to this, abusers make themselves the center of a victim’s universe. The abuser acts out as if they are god. This is why Paul calls us not to be like our former selves, don’t be full of anger and malice. Don’t give the devil an opportunity with your anger (physical abuse). Speak things in grace to one another (no verbal abuse). Be forgiving.
Chapter 5 continues to call us to be like God. It then calls out the worst abuse of all. Those who practice sexual immorality have no place in the Kingdom of God. Anyone who says otherwise is full of “empty words”.
We should not even partner with sexual abusers (allow them to abuse us or others). We should instead wake up and allow Christ’s light to shine on us. We must expose them. Don’t expose them rashly however. Be wise and prudent in this.
Why do such bad things happen? Because the days on this Earth are evil.
Don’t get drunk but instead be in the Spirit singing spiritual songs and hymns to one another. Give thanks in everything, submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.
Only after understanding this can you continue learning of the ideal relationships in the very next verses.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Paul is not giving husbands a free pass to mistreat their wives. It is a godly thing for wives to be submissive, but not if the husband is abusive. That’s the problem with abusers, they expect more from their victims than from themselves. How do you expose such hypocrisy? Call them out on their bluff. Hold the abuser to the same standards that they hold you. Suddenly, you will find how very human and hypocritical they really are.
Flee abuse in its many forms. Cling to Jesus who loves us, the church, in a tender and kind way. Jesus’ love is the standard for all godly relationships to flourish.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Jesus washes us with His word. In the same way, husbands are to speak to their wives in a kind and endearing way.
27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
No blemish means… no black eyes. No blemish means… no scared hearts. No blemish means zero abuse. No bruises. No red marks. No blemishes in any way, but instead pure and clean. Fully endeared and fully loved.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
This negates narcissism. It completely kills it. If the abuser would only repent and heed these words. They understand very well how to love themselves. If in their repentance they would then love their wives as much as their very own bodies… then they would be the most loving husband in all of the land!
Men must love their wives as much as Christ loves all of us who are members of His body, of His church. This is the ideal family.
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This is what Genesis 2:24 meant. The husband and wife are treated as one flesh. They are equals and yet distinctive. Through her submission she honors him; from that honor and respect he is loved. Through the incredible love he shows his wife she feels endeared; from that endearment she is honored and respected.
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Are the Children to be in the Lord or the parents? Both are to be in the Lord. Parents are flawed as the rest of us, yet in many cases, despite those flaws it is best to always obey them.
If those flaws are the gaping hypocrisy of abuse… well I think we’ve already covered that, Paul certainly has in chapters 4 and 5. And so to those victims of abuse, forgive and flee, prudently, to a place of safety and healing. If you seek wisdom on this, ask of the Lord. Be wise now for the short days we live are evil indeed!
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
To the non-abusive father and mother, do not be overbearing using your authority in such a way that the child feels slighted. Also, don’t spoil them with everything they ask for. But “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Workers and Bosses
This next part is more applicable in today’s time when explaining the ideal relationship between a worker and a boss.
5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
To Those Still Trapped in Abusive Relationships
Paul covers so much in these verses. Take it to heart friend. If you are involved in an abusive relationship, don’t even partner with them. Instead, find help. You have a right to expose sexual immorality. I know it can be a confusing time of emotions, but know that those ever changing emotions are subjective.
The objective truth is: abuse is ungodly. Those who practice sexual abuse have no place in the Kingdom of God. They must fully repent of their ways. The victim has a voice. He or she has a right to expose and find help. Do it as quickly and as wisely as you can.
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Awake indeed! Get up, expose the abuse and seek out healthy relationships that are built upon a mutual love and respect, just as Christ’s love is for the church.