Domestic Abuse Misconception #11: Reconciliation and the preservation of the marriage should always be the goal. NO! NO! NO! Safety should be the goal. Healing should be the goal. But the truth is that in many cases safety and healing cannot happen within the context and framework of the marriage.
My husband asked me yesterday if I had gotten any push back from these posts. I replied not yet but then again I think most of the people who would be offended by these topics have long ago unfriended me, unfollowed me, or just made sure not to read my posts. This one may be different.
Some of you the idea that preservation of the marriage is always the goal seems foolish and ridiculous. For many of us, though, we see this all the time. Within conservative Christian circles divorce is considered one of the all-time evils, causing the breakdown of the family and going against the "what God has joined together...." declaration.
And yet....and yet even God allows divorce.
The problem with the mindset of marriage above all else is that it places the preservation of the institution over the well being of the people the institution was created for. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath and was raked over the coals for it he declared that "The Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) In the same way, marriage was created for man, not man for marriage.
Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and his church, often called "the bride of Christ," a union of gentleness, kindness, self-sacrifice. A marriage filled with abuse is a gross perversion of that picture, depicting Christ as the controlling, manipulative, self-centered monster bent on destroying the one that he "loves." That isn't a picture of Christ and his church. That is a picture of hell.
People say, 'But didn't they take vows before God?" Yes, they did. And abuse is a blatant and horrific breaking of those vows. If and when a victim moves toward divorce, it isn't that she is the one breaking her vow, she is asking to be free from the one who has already broken his, and is destroying her in the process.
I'm not a theologian, but I have worked long and hard to try to understand the heart of God. I see a God who is for the oppressed. For the victim. For a proper and honest depiction of love. Who is for healing. Who is for life.
I am not saying that all marriages that include abuse must move to divorce. That may not always be the best or safest option. What I am saying is that safety and healing and genuine wholeness, the overall well being of the victim, must take priority because that is who God is.
If you question my reasoning on this point, consider these words.
(Note: In all of my posts I use "he" for abuser and "she" for victim for simplicity and because, in the majority of cases, the abuser is male. But it can be the opposite with a female abuser. Dynamics of abuse can also happen in same sex relationships.)