Why Abusive Men Repudiate True Manhood: Letter to an Abusive Husband

Today, November 25, is The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  I do not normally blog on Sundays, as faithful readers know.  But this is a topic worth addressing, especially because I am on the record as being for manly leadership in home and church.

Let’s address this awful subject this way: if I could talk with a man who was abusing his headship of his home, what would I say?  What follows is an attempt toward that end, and ultimately, toward the strengthening of Christian families.  This is no mere hypothetical, of course.  Abuse happens.  Here you see how I as a complementarian, Christ-driven head of home and church would handle it.

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Dear Bob:

It has come to my attention that you are abusing your wife verbally and physically.  Knowing this, I am trying not to tremble as I write.  There is nothing worse than the strong mistreating the weak.

Please know this: your abuse of your wife in the name of Christian leadership is a direct repudiation of true manhood.  You think that the expulsive exercise of your strength is warranted by Scripture.  You think that it shows that you are a man.  Actually, it shows your depravity.

It shows that you are acting as and very well may be the opposite of what you claim.

Ephesians 5 teaches that a man is head of his wife.  There is no textually faithful way to take this verse other than to conclude that it teaches manly leadership in the home.  But this does not mean that a man can lord his God-given strength over his wife and family.  Hear Ephesians 5:29-31 again, perhaps for the first time in reality: “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.””  Did you see that?  The godly man “nourishes and cherishes” his wife.  Is that what you are doing?  It most certainly is not.

As is obvious from both Scripture and the most rudimentary moral sense, you are not called to use your strength on your wife.  You are called to use it for your wife.  Your full manhood should be aimed at protecting and blessing and building up the woman God has given you in marriage.  As a husband, the Lord has commissioned you to stand in the gap for your wife.  This means that you will sacrifice your body for her, not lead her body to suffer.  You see a train coming and her in the way, and you know your fate.  A man menaces her, and you are a spring-loaded force acting in her defense.  Somebody whistles at your wife, and you stare back at them, fire in your eyes.  In these and other ways, you are not directing your prowess at your wife–you are using it for her good.

Your present pattern, Bob, looks like Satanic headship.  You are attacking and tearing down.  The biblical pattern is Christic headship, sacrificial, others-centered, offered in order that others might flourish and thrive.  If you do not cease your ways, the elders of your church will “deliver [you] to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:6).  If you are bent on destroying your loved ones, you will face the prospect of a life outside the church, which places the soul in danger of eternal destruction if gospel repentance does not happen.

In our wickedness, we will use the Bible and Christianity to justify nearly anything.  The fact that you have justified your wicked abuse by Scripture does not for an instant reflect poorly on God’s Word.  It speaks to the depravity of the human heart.  The Bible nowhere enfranchises your behavior.  It holds up men like Boaz, who is a kinsman-redeemer for needy Ruth, even as it shames wicked men like Shechem who defiles Dinah (Ruth 3; Genesis 34).  Which kind of man will you be?

Repent of your sin.  It is a stench in God’s nostrils.  Were it not for your worth as an image-bearer, I would find it difficult not to threaten harm to you myself, and to bring many men with me.  As things stand, if you continue your pattern of abuse, I will indeed bring men with me, and we will rescue your wife and family, and we will not allow you to harm them.  We will bring the full force of the law crashing down upon you.  We are men of God; we are not weak; we are leaders and protectors of wives and children.  The Lord has saved us from our own wickedness and transformed us to be good to those he has given us.  As men of God, we are not scared of you.  We will surely stand up to you.  We urge you to stop your abuse, repent of your sin, and leave the pattern of destruction you have begun.

Know this, Bob–you will not for an instant longer be able to take advantage of this woman.  Those days, so help me God, are over.

Sincerely,

Owen Strachan.


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