Dealing with Destruction Under Our Roof

Leviticus 14 contains the Old Testament law about leprosy of the skin, as well as leprosy of a house, sometimes translated as "mildew" or "a plague". This chapter may seem strange to us until we consider that leprosy is sometimes taken to represent sin. If we understand that the Bible calls domestic violence sin, we can see that it is also like having a spreading disease in a home — a disease that becomes worse over time and can threaten to destroy everyone in the home, emotionally if not physically.

The writer of this chapter may not have had domestic violence specifically in mind. However, we will see that as an analogy to domestic violence, this chapter offers insight into action actions to take to deal with this kind of destructive influence in a home. You may wish to read Leviticus 14:33-53 before rereading and focusing on the following verses (the New International Version will be used here):

Verse 34 — Like mildew or leprosy, domestic violence tends to grow and spread. It not only tends to escalate over time, but it also spreads from generation to generation. We know that children who are victims or witnesses domestic violence often become batterers and victims themselves as adults; they can become "infected".

Verse 35 --- Here is a command to call a trained professional for help. We know that hardened abusers can rarely stop abusing on their own. It is right to break the silence and to reveal what has been happening behind closed doors, in order to get help for the family.

Verses 36-38 — The situation must be brought out into the open and faced fully, without denial, wishful thinking, or excuses. It may be necessary to separate the abuser from the family for a time, in order to protect the safety of family members and stop their exposure to the sickness. Allowing the abuser to continue to sin would harm the abuser, and believers are not to cause another to stumble in this way.

Verse 39-40 --- Those who help the family should stay involved and walk alongside them for support, advice, and accountability. It may be necessary to help victims to obtain an order from the courts to keep the abuser from harming family members.

Verse 41 --- Counseling is essential for the abuser, since most abusers can not stop on their own. Sometimes this will only happen if the abuser is arrested and the court mandates treatment. Many counselors say that jail time (i.e., in the "unclean place outside the town") is the most effective treatment for abusers.

Verses 43-45 --- Efforts at treatment must be carefully monitored and followed up.  If treatment is not successful and the abuse does not stop, or if situation is dangerous, it may be necessary to keep the abuser from the family in order to protect life and health.

Verses 46-48 --- When is it safe to go back? It’s not safe to return to the relationship until the abuser successfully completes counseling and there is proof that the abuse will not continue. Counseling is successful if the abuse and efforts to control and manipulate cease.

Verse 52-53 --- Even when treatment is successful, the blood of Jesus and the fresh water of the Holy Spirit are needed to mend relationships. Genuine repentance and forgiveness can help to release the relationship to heal and grow again.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why can it be hard to break the silence about domestic violence and seek help?
  2. In verse 38, the priest must be able to recognize the signs of domestic violence when he first enters the house. What are some signs of domestic violence we may first notice in a relationship?
Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy