Confronting Domestic Abuse

Bible Book: Psalms  10 : 1-2
Subject: Domestic Abuse; Violence; Anger; Bitterness; Physical Abuse; Marraige; Home
[Editor's Note: This is a bold and much needed sermon regarding Domestic Violence from Alan Stewart. October is Domestic Violence Abuse Month in America. Pastors need to consider addressing this spiritual issue and horrendous problem in the home.]

Psalm 10:1-2

What do Mike Tyson, Lou Rawls, Charlie Sheen, Tonya Harding, Adrian Peterson, Vanilla Ice, Carmen Electra, Evel Knievel, Floyd Mayweather, Bobby Cox, Mel Gibson, Jason Kidd, Ray Rice, and O.J. Simpson all have in common?

They were all arrested on charges of domestic violence. Those are all famous names that made national news, but then there are stories in our own neighborhood that make local news. Such stories are becoming commonplace in our society, but it is no longer just issues between husbands and wives.

On February 21, 2019, first responders came to the home of Indiana State Trooper, Matt Makowski. Matt had been shot in the lower back, and the perpetrator was his 11-year old son. When investigators spoke with the boy, he quickly admitted to shooting his father and said, “and if I don’t get the video game systems I want, there will be a ‘part two.’”

Lead In:

In this passage of scripture, the Psalmist is wrestling with the age-old problem, "Why doesn't God do something about the prosperity of the wicked, and the misery of the afflicted.” As he is writing, you will note that the fear is not enemies invading from without, but rather enemies that are destroying from within. He refers to them over and over in this psalm as “the wicked.” This word “wicked” doesn’t simply mean “evil.” It carries a much deeper meaning. It means, “one guilty of crime; showing hostility towards God or man; to do wrong and to vex by violence.”

Now, while there were wicked nations around Israel, David was talking about wicked people within the covenant community. Not those people who were abroad, but those that were at home.

Today, I want to address the problem and plague of domestic abuse. This expression "domestic abuse" is a term that has come into existence in the last half century. Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of willful intimidation and abusive behavior used for the purpose of gaining power and/or control over an intimate partner.

Now, domestic abuse is an enormous problem in our country.  We might think that domestic abuse happens in other towns or communities but not in ours, but this is not true.

Domestic abuse is a non-discriminatory evil. According to sociological studies, you will find that domestic abuse occurs equally in every community, within every race, social and economic class, and every religion.

We may think it “happens in the world, but not in the church,”  but the truth is 1 in every 3.5 women in this building have been impacted by domestic abuse. It is destroying families and it is inflicting suffering and pain on people all across America.

These statistics prove it is of epidemic proportions:

  • In the United States, an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute.
  • This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.
  • On average, more than 4,000 women are murdered by intimate partners.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the U.S. alone, and costs approximately $37 billion dollars a year in healthcare, court proceedings, and social programs.
  • Every year in America, 4 million senior adults are abused at the hands of their family, and this number is expected to rise over the next 20 years with the increase in the elderly population.
  • In 1990, the U.S. had 3,800 shelters for animals, and only 1,500 shelters for battered women. Today, there are 2,900 shelters for battered women, and 200,000 women are turned away due to the facilities being at capacity.

2 Timothy 3: 3, in describing the character traits of the last days, he writes, “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good...”

“Natural affection” – “inhuman, abusive”

“Fierce” – “brutal, savage, violent”

Without question, we are living in such days.

I want to lay four thoughts on your heart today as we confront this issue with courage and confidence from the Word of God.

I. The Graphic Nature Of Domestic Abuse

Five times in this chapter, David refers to “the wicked.” Again, it speaks of those showing hostility and do wrong by violence. But, to whom is this violence being perpetrated against? Well, six times he refers to “the poor.” It doesn’t mean those lacking finances, but rather someone that’s been afflicted and browbeaten.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms. It includes physical, but also mental, emotional, verbal economic and even sexual abuse. And, while it comes in many forms, it also has many faces. It may start out as simple as insults, belittling, fowl words, and excessive jealousy. It can move to pleading for every penny she needs for food and the children. And, then it can ultimately lead to bullying, slapping, punching, pulling hair, molestation, rape, and even threatening with an instrument or weapon.

General C. Everett Koop, Former Surgeon General, labeled domestic abuse as “the single most important health issue in the U.S.”

Now, the sad fact is, domestic abuse is no respecter of persons or homes. Listen to what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 30: 28, “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.”

The word “spider” is translated in the original as “lizard.” But, as small as a spider and a lizard are and easy to catch and crush, they are agile and clever enough to make a home anywhere, even into the very palace of a king. The royal boundaries and walls mean nothing to the spider. It makes its home wherever it finds a hole large enough to get through. Then, it plans how to capture whatever prey should happen to pass its way. Such is the case with violence and abuse. It has no limitations and knows no boundaries, and it does not care about gender, race, class, location, or social status.

Abusive acts usually occur in places designed and believed to be safe. And, those who are the perpetrators of abuse are often family members, or those who have our trust.

Think with me in the Bible.

1. Who would’ve thought to have found domestic violence in the very first home in the history of the world?

Way back in the dawn of time, Adam and Eve had two boys: Cain and Abel.

And, in a moment of worship, jealousy filled Cain’s heart and we are told in Genesis 4: 8, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

2. Who would’ve thought to have found domestic abuse in the home of David, the man God declared was “a man after my own heart?”

David’s son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar, and  another son, Absalom, in his rage had Amnon killed. Listen to it in 2 Samuel 13: 32, “...for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.”

In can happen in the best of homes, with the best of testimonies, with the best of potential. When an undetected weakness is met by an unexpected opportunity, we fall into sin.

  • The seeds of this sin come from the heart.
  • It is a spiritual problem.

Mark 7: 21-23: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

All of us have a potential for all kinds of sin because we’re human beings. There are all kinds of perverse desires that lurk like a spider in the human heart.

II. The Grievous Nuisance Of Domestic Abuse

(vs 5a)

Now, the key word here is the word “ways.” The Hebrew word is speaking of a road or a path, and it has the idea of a rut or a groove. It’s something like a groove in a road.

A farmer may drive his tractor back and forth over a farm road until after a while, there is a rut in that road. And, he can just set the tractor and let go of the wheel and the tractor will follow that way.

We are given some insight into the habits of those who are the perpetrators of domestic abuse.

  • They are very arrogant, very daring, very determined, and very clever.
  • They think that their actions are hard to detect, but there is a predictable pattern that domestic abuse follows called the cycle of abuse.

You will notice in the text, in one moment he’s using strong words, then he’s back to fuming in the secret places of his heart, and then lying in wait like a lion to pounce on his prey. Sadly, each form of domestic abuse connects to another making the "cycle of abuse" difficult to stop.

Consider the phases.

A. The Tension Phase

(vs. 2)

The word “persecute” means “to burn,” like the flame on a candle blown by the wind. In the beginning, as the tensions increase, communication breaks down, and the victim becomes fearful and feels the need to calm or appease the abuser.

A second meaning of the word “persecute” is “to hotly pursue.” The abuser begins looking for anything to explode about.

There was a woman in the Bible married to a man like this. Her name was Abigail and his name was Nabal. Here’s how the Bible describes him in 1 Samuel 25; 3, “...but the man was churlish and evil in his doings...” The word “churlish” means “hard, mean, cruel, fierce, and violent. We would say of him, “Boy, he sure is a hot-head!” What it is talking about it a man filled with ungodly, unjustified, and unbridled anger.

Proverbs 10: 11, “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

B. The Incident Phase

(vs. 9)

This is when the verbal, emotional, or physical abuse occurs. There is anger, blaming, arguing, threats, and violence.

Again, we are told of Nabal - 1 Samuel 25; 3, “...but the man was churlish and evil in his doings...”

The word “evil” is describing a man whose actions are “hurtful, unpleasant, malignant, giving pain, unhappiness, and misery.”

Now, there are some people who just say, “Well, it only lasts a little while. I blast away, and it’s over.” Well, so does a tornado; but it may take months to clean up the wreckage.

C. The Reconciliation Phase

After severe episodes of abuse, the abuser often apologizes, gives excuses, and may make promises. They apologize and ask for forgiveness while at the same time blaming the victims for having caused the violence they themselves perpetrated. This change of mood confuses the victim as she begins to think the perpetrator might change. The victim will forgive or excuse their perpetrator outburst by saying they are high-strung or are strong-willed.

D. The Honeymoon Phase

The storm has passed, and all is calm. The incident is forgotten, and no abuse is present, but sadly the honeymoon stage is unlikely to continue. Soon, the tension will begin to build again as he pursues his goal of maintaining power and control and the cycle repeats itself over and over. Abusers rarely change and abusers will not change until they are held accountable for their violence and get help.

III. The Gracious Need In Domestic Abuse

(vs. 14-15)

When you are quick to get angry, you can lose so much. There is nothing more crippling to your Christian testimony than for you to fly off the handle. Ecclesiastes 7: 9, “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

A. Repent Of Your Anger

Someone has well said that if you repress anger it is like lighting a wastebasket, putting it in a closet, and closing the door. It may burn itself out or it may burn the house down. So, the first thing that you need to do is confess it to the Lord, and turn from your anger.

B. Reflect On Your Anger

When you take a step back from your anger and begin to seek understanding from the Lord, He will show you the answer. It is so important to analyze the source of your anger, so you don't go off half-cocked.

Psalm 4: 4, "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still."

God promises He will show us the way if we will seek Him.

C. Regulate Your Anger

You know, there are people who say, “It’s just something that comes over me. I can’t control my anger.” Yes, you can.

Proverbs 16: 32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

Here’s the secret: The way to control your anger is to be in control of your words!

Proverbs 29: 11: “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

IV. The Guilty Neglect With Domestic Abuse

(vs. 17-18)

More than 6,000 pastors were asked how they would respond to a female church member coming to them for counseling on domestic abuse. A ghastly 50 percent of those surveyed said the woman should willingly “tolerate some level of violence” seeing as it is a better outcome than divorce.

Let me say, that 50 percent got it wrong! Because domestic abuse typically occurs in the confines of the home, it has become something that is easier for the church to ignore. If no one else were there to witness it happening, then we can think maybe it didn’t happen. Church leadership across America has often turned a blind eye to a problem that has become progressively worse by telling women to try harder or learn how to be submissive rather than assisting them in securing the protection they need and holding men accountable to the responsibilities of biblical manhood.

Some cultures actually excuse and condone violence against women and children. But let me assure you, it is a despicable and cowardly act.

Here’s what God thinks about it.

Psalm 11: 5, “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.”

  • First, I want to make it perfectly clear that we as a church stand against any kind of domestic abuse and violence, and we will not tolerate it in our midst.
  • Second, I want to make it clear to victims of domestic abuse that we are here for you.

Proverbs 31: 9, “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Does this mean that a woman must divorce an abusive husband? No, but neither is she to be courageous to remain in a dangerous situation. The Bible says God hates divorce, but He encourages us to flee danger, just as Joseph and Mary did after the birth of Jesus. Joseph took his family to Egypt to flee danger, but he also returned when the danger subsided.

  • Christ came to free us from sin and violence.

Psalm 18: 48 ; “He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.”

There may be many of you among us today who know someone who is experiencing domestic abuse. You need to assure them they do not deserve such abuse. Tell them you are concerned about their safety and their children’s safety, and they have a right to be safe.

National Domestic Violence Hot Line: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


I Got Flowers Today

I got flowers today
It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day.
We had our first argument last night,
And said a lot of cruel things
that really hurt me.
I know he is sorry and didn’t mean the things
he said, because he sent me
flowers today.

I got flowers today
It wasn’t our anniversary or any other special day.
Last night, he threw me into a wall
and started to choke me,
It seemed like a nightmare.
I couldn’t believe it was real.
I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over.
I know he was sorry because he sent me
flowers today.

I got flowers today
It wasn’t Mother’s Day or any other special day.
Last night, he beat me up again,
and it was much worse than all the other times.
If I leave him, what will I do?
How will I take care of my kids?
I’m afraid of him and scared to leave.
But I know he must be sorry because he sent me
flowers today.

I got flowers today
Today was a very special day.
It was the day of my funeral.
Last night he finally killed me.
He beat me to death.
If only I had gathered enough courage
and strength to seek help, I would not have
gotten flowers today.

Source: Author unknown