The Government’s Definition of Abuse Vs The Bible’s Definition of Abuse
“Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.”
The first problem with this definition is that it completely negates any type of physical discipline which is commanded by God for children (Proverbs 23:13-14) and is also allowed by God for adults (Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Proverbs 19:29 and Proverbs 26:3). Under this definition of physical abuse spanking of one’s child or one’s wife would be consider abuse (See my article “Does the Bible Allow Wife Spanking” for more on that issue). A mother or father slapping their rebellious child even with an open palm (front handed) would be guilty of physical abuse under this definition.
I agreed in my previous article on abuse that things like shoving and punching have no place in the home not even as methods of discipline because they risk serious bodily injury or even death in violation of God’s law regarding limits on discipline (Exodus 21:26-27). I also agreed that things like biting, kicking and hair pulling have no place in the home as methods of discipline as it should be done in love and in control and not as brawl or a fight. But again overall the biggest problem with the government’s definition of physical abuse is that its definition negates physical discipline in the home which God allows.
“Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.”
First we will address where this government definition of sexual abuse aligns with God’s moral law and that is regarding children. A parent has absolutely no right under God’s law to touch their child in a sexual way, to coerce them or force them to have sex. This is a violation of God’s moral laws regarding incest (Leviticus 18:6).
But really the heart of this definition is directed at husbands in regard to how they engage in sexual activity with their wives. And when applied to the husband/wife relationship this definition of sexual abuse for the most part nullifies God’s Word.
This government’s definition of sexual abuse as with physical abuse nullifies a husband’s God given sexual rights to his wife’s body in marriage. It also nullifies his right to discipline her for sexual refusal. The Bible says that sex is both a right and responsibility in marriage (Exodus 21:10-11, Proverbs 5:18-19, I Corinthians 7:3-4) and that the only thing that must be mutually agreed upon in the area of sex is when a couple will NOT have sex (I Corinthians 7:5) for a short time. See my articles on sexual refusal, sexual consent and forced sex in marriage for more on what the Bible says about these topics.
Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
While we need to be careful of how subjective this government definition of emotional abuse is I think for the most part it aligns with what the Scriptures say that we should generally be trying to build people up and not tear them down(Ephesians 4:29,James 3:8-10). See my article on “What Does the Bible Say About Abuse?” for more on the subject of emotional abuse.
Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
This government definition of “Economic Abuse” is a complete addition to God’s moral law and it also nullifies a husband’s rights toward his wife under God’s law. And again let’s not kid ourselves that they are speaking equally to husbands and wives. This is an attack on patriarchy and men having their wives being economically dependent on them.
The fact is this definition of Economic abuse is exactly the opposite of God’s moral law on this issue. In Exodus 21:10-11 we are told that if a man does not provide his wife with food and clothing she may be free of him (divorced from him). God considers it economic abuse when a man forces his wife to economically independent of him, not when he forces his wife to be economically dependent on him.
And yes husbands under God’s law can absolutely forbid their wives from going to college or seeking careers as wives are to be subject their husbands in EVERYTHING as the Church submits to Christ in everything (Ephesians 5:24).
Also as far as household finances go whether a husband allows his wife to work or not all the financial decision making comes under his direction. If he wants to take away his wife’s ATM card he can do that under God’s law.
Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include but are not limited to causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
If read in a certain way, the government’s definition of psychological abuse may actually align with the Scriptures. God does forbid the use of threatening (Ephesians 6:9). If a husband or wife threatens to kill themselves or their children or pets or to destroy property if they don’t get what they want that is the very definition of threatening behavior which is condemned by the Word of God.
However a warning from an authority toward one under them of the consequences of their actions is not engaging in threatening or psychological abuse. If I isolate my teen son from friends that are bad influences on him is that psychological abuse? The answer is no. It all depends on my motivation. Is my intent simply to exert my power over him or is it actually for his own good? If it is the latter there is nothing immoral about this from a Biblical perspective.
Many people would agree that the example I gave is not immoral. But what if I replaced my son in that example with my wife? OH NO that is completely different right? Why? Because she is an adult? The Bible however makes no such distinction when it comes to the discipline of wives and children. If my wife was talking to or hanging out with other women who were bad spiritual influences on her affecting her morals, relationship with God or with me I have absolutely ever right before God as her spiritual authority to restrict her access to those women.
The Bible teaches a clear social order the husband, an adult male, is the head of the wife, an adult female and children are under the authority of their parents(Ephesians 5:23-24, Ephesians 6:1-3).
And for all you feminists out there the practice of a husband exercising his spiritual authority over his wife in these ways does not infantilize her or make her equal with her children. God has granted a wife and mother more rights than he has her children. She has sexual rights to her husbands body and she is given the position of manager of the home and of the children which are sacred and honored roles. She of course exercises these positions under the authority of her husband but by no means does the Bible make wives and children equals with another.
So when we throw out the straw-man argument that a husband exercising control over his wife infantilizes her we come to the real heart of the issue. Feminists don’t like the fact that while God gives women more rights than children he does not give women equal rights with men. In other words, its not about women be treated as children but its about women be treated as women. Feminists want women treated as men.