Confronting Abuse As Sin

God sees abuse as "sin."
There are many Bible verses that describe behaviors commonly seen in domestic violence. These scriptures clearly call these behaviors sin. One such biblical passage is found in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.    (Galatians 5:19-21, NIV)

Let's see how these sins relate to domestic violence: 

  • Jealousy -- Jealous behavior is often one of the first warning signs of an abusive personality. At first it may be excused as love and caring, but it can quickly become a form of abusive control and coercion.

  • Fits of Rage -- An abuser's raging can effectively intimidate and control his partner and children. By being scary and threatening, he can have his way.

  • Discord and Dissensions-- Even in the absence of physical abuse, verbal and psychological abuse destroys relationships and homes. See The Continuums of Abuse and the Types of Verbal Abuse describe other abusive behaviors that bring discord and dissension.

  • Drunkenness-Though alcohol and drug abuse are not the cause of domestic violence, they are frequently present with domestic violence. An abuser may use them as an excuse for battering, claiming they "made him out of control." 

  • Selfishness--Abusers are often self-centered and narcissistic (lover of self).

  • Sexual Immorality, Impurity and Debauchery-- Sexual abuse is frequently found in domestic violence relationships. The "Continuums of Abuse" describes some types of sexual abuse. Abusers may also have "affairs" or engage in pornography due to an accompanying sexual addiction, or a desire to hurt and demean their partner.

Other common domestic violence behaviors described as sin in the Bible include: 

  • abuse, lack of self-control, treachery, rashness, brutality, inability to acknowledge the truth (e.g., denial) (2 Timothy 3:1-8) 

  • slander and verba1 abuse (1 Corinthians 5:11and 6:9, Mark 7:22,  Matthew 15:19) 

  • anger  (Matthew 5:21-22) 

  • lies, deceit, and falsehood (Malachi 3:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 1:29) 

  • malice (Romans 1:28-32; Mark 7:22) 

  • arrogance (Mark 7:22) 

  • taking advantage of others (Leviticus 25:17) 

  • impressing others while covering secret sin (Matthew 23:23, 28) 

  • child abuse (Luke 17:1-3)

Abusers are in peril of eternal damnation

The Bible makes it clear that unrepentant abusers who do not turn from their ways will be judged and will not enter the Kingdom (Matthew 5:21-22, Galatians 5:19-21, and Revelation 21-22). Malachi 2:13-14 and 1 Peter 3:7 indicate that abusers' payers are blocked.  If a servant of God abuses others, he will be punished when Jesus returns, and will be treated as an unbeliever (Luke 12:45-46). It is so important that domestic violence be recognized and dealt with as sin, because the abuser's soul is in peril. 

When we recognize abuse as sin, it is easier to see what action the Bible prescribes. 

  • Believers are responsible for confronting sin: 
    Abuse is a serious matter; the soul of the abuser is at stake. The sin of abuse must not be enabled, but rather be confronted (see Galatians 6:1, Ephesians 5:11, Leviticus 19:17).

  • Believers are to pray for those who mistreat them. Abusers are trapped in sin and are in great peril of their souls. Believers are to pray for them, according to Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:28, 1 John 5:16.

  • Jesus taught us a formula for confronting sin: 
    Read Matthew 18:15-17. This plan promotes accountability while providing safety measures for the victim.

NOTE: When confronted, a hardened abuser frequently denies the situation and escalates the abuse and attempts to control. A victim should first have a safety plan in place. If the situation is too dangerous, confrontation may be inappropriate. It may be better to allow professionals, relatives, friends, or the courts to confront the abuser.

Discussion Questions: 
1. We rarely hear domestic violence referred to as sin. Sometimes people refer to it as "a love spat," "a private matter," or "a marital problem." How do each of these terms fail to hold abusers accountable for their actions?

2. The Bible says that sin can be transferred to future generations (Exodus 34:7) Have you seen domestic violence occur in different generations of the same family?

Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy