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No Right to Strike
Photo: Dawn Allynn
Years ago young woman came to our door, asking to use the telephone. One eye was purpled, the face around it discolored by a days-old bruise. Her jaw had a matching, fresher bruise. She had been beaten by her husband.

My wife and I invited her in. My wife put ice packs on the bruises. Our visitor explained she had disobeyed her husband, so he had the right to strike her—it was in the Bible. The young woman was talking about a passage in Ephesians, one where Paul discusses marriage. It is can be misused as a justification for spousal abuse. Does not Paul say wives should obey their husbands? Well, no. Paul says “as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands.” Once married, a wife is no longer a free agent, but must act in their joint interest. Yet the wife is told to be “subject to,” not “obedient to.”

The difference is important. We are subject to the laws of the country in which we live, yet few feel compelled to blindly obey every law. At different times and places our Christians duty leads us to willfully disobey laws—such as when the Soviet Union made it a crime to be Christian.

A wife subject to her husband need not blindly obey him. Her Christian duty may lead at times to disobedience, and a willing acceptance of the consequences. Those consequences should not include blows.

Love His Wife as He Loves Himself

In that same letter to the Ephesians, Ephesians 5:28-29, Paul also states," ‘So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it...' ”

If you love your wife, as you love yourself, you cannot strike her—unless you routinely physically punish yourself when you fail at a goal you have set for yourself. You would be thought crazy if you punched yourself in the face because you did not mow the yard, as you promised yourself you would do. You might fine yourself—pay someone else to mow it—but you would not get physical.

That applies to wives, too. A wife should not strike her husband. Yet one-fifth of physical spousal abuse is committed by women.

Being married is difficult. A good marriage requires two people to subordinate their individual desires to a greater whole. Conflicts result, yet conflict is healthy. Better decisions result from open debate. All sides of an issue get considered. Two heads are better than one. Yet conflict should not degenerate into physical force.

My sister-in-law once asked my older brother about this subject. “Adults do not hit each other to settle things,” he stated, “And men do not strike women.”

We talked our visitor into calling her father, not her husband. We convinced her to talk to her minister about the abuse she faced.

We never saw her again. I still wonder about her.

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By Mark N. Lardas, Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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