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Tuesday: Peace That Wins — 18 Comments

  1. I probably should have saved the story about my grandparents for today. (That is the problem when you get lazy and do not read the whole lesson ahead of time.) However, I am well aware that not all such situations have a happy ending, in spite of the spouse being a loving caring Christian.

    It is important to remind ourselves that love is a way of living and we do not live that way just to achieve results. 1 Cor 13 gives us something to reflect on:

    Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 1 Cor 13:4-8

    • I partly share the story though to me it’s my parents! My mum waited for so long until my dad had to believe Christ! But yes it was stepwise and my mum had to bear as most of her children except one had to be baptized in Anglican Church! She had to make us ready for church every Sunday much as she never came along with us.! And many other things. But as time went on, the harsh and uncompromising man yielded slowly by slowly and started by allowing mom to worship on sabbath, next the children and after a grueling 19 years, he accepted Christ! This guy is now an elder in church and a serious evangelist so passionate about TMI! We praise God!

  2.  What might be the limitations of a spouse’s responsibility toward a nonbelieving partner? Should faithfulness to the claims of God on one’s life require a spouse to suffer abuse at the hands of a violent partner? What can an abused partner do? I live in an area where spouse abuse is rampant even among fellow church members. As a class teacher, I know these questions will be asked?

    • There is a very big difference between persistent love and putting up with abuse. Marriage should be between two equal partners, and where one partner uses physical, psychological, or emotional abuse to enforce their will on the other person, then that person has broken their wedding vows.

      I understand that in some cultures, walking away from an abusive situation is even more difficult than in our "western culture", but one would only hope that a person who finds themselves in an abusive situation would find support in their community of believers. I do not think that there is any Christian pretext for making someone stay in an abusive marriage relationship.

      • This message would have been encouraging and comforting to me while I was in bondage in an abusive marriage. The church was more concerned with saving my marriage, than saving my life! By the grace of God, I got out and stayed out!

    • Difficult to answer your questions when I do not inderstand your culture or the options one has when one finds themself in an abusive relationship. Perhaps best to remember God's command to spouses "husbands love your wife as Christ loved His church". How does Christ treat his wayward church? That is how families should treat each other. Abuse is sin in any culture. It is Satan's way. Not Christ's!!!!

    • Last week's theme introduced the idea of general cultural influence on the family! This is a natural thing everywhere in the world. But in some more rigid cultures, to leave a spouse because of an abusive relationship can be difficult. Jesus did not come to change cultures, but to call attention to love. Love that must be reflected on the community of believers too. Love that is able to deeply change the way we look at others and specially the way we look at ourselves. When we start to understand love for real we start a revolution that is powerful enough to break all cultural barriers! Real love breaks the war, and establish peace!

      • Yes, I agree with all of you, love (and lots of prayer) can change hearts. However, Paul and the other apostles, knew the marital and cultural abuse of their times (and of future times), which I believe is the reason Paul give us his opinion on the subject. He did make it clear that this was his advice "not the Lord", to prevent unnecessary divorce among the believers. He advised, paraphrasing, If the unbelieving spouse wants to remain in the marriage, and he/she is not restricting the believer from worshipping God, then there's no need for divorce. However, if the unbelieving spouse can not endure in the marriage, or if there is abuse on either party, Paul is giving his acceptance that maybe separation or divorce is needed. Paul is not encouraging divorce in either matter, but as a spiritual leader that was asked a difficult question, he had to do his best to provide "sound counsel" to all that would read his letter to the Church in Corinth.

        As far as abusive marriage, it is always a difficult situation that requires a lot of resources and counseling, even in those cultures where abuse is tolerated. It's hard to believe in our day and time that we still have husbands that 'Rule' over their wives and children as if they were his slaves, and therefore, totally submissive to him. In these cultures (as well as in some modern western homes), changing the minds and hearts of these abusers is not easy, and may take a lot of time and intervention by outside professionals.

        The bottom-line is, Paul is implying that if you are about to leave the abusive marriage/relationship, then it would probably be best for everyone concerned that you leave. This is Paul way of releasing that person from bondage if they are in an abusive relationship.

        From my personal experience, when I was in my early adulthood, I was in a marriage when I was verbally abused, but not physically (any form of abuse is just as bad as physical abuse). However, I was lived in Fear every day, not knowing if an argument with my ex-husband would turn from verbal abuse into physical abuse. I had to always walk on eggshells. I tried my best to be a loving wife, to help him to come closer to God (he was an SDA member all of his life); we had family prayer and family worship, nothing helped; when he got angry, he would turn into someone that I did not know. But in the end, I realized that my ex-husband did not want to change, and sometimes I think he may have even enjoyed the abuse. I didn't know how to just walk away from my marriage, and the church was so against divorce in those days. The church made you feel like it was a "sin" to get a divorce; however, there's nothing in the Bible that says that. We all know that God doesn't like divorce, but he never said that it would be a salvation issue if you got divorced. Fortunate for me, God intervened in my situation and provided me with a way out, a way that the "Church" would condone. My husband's other activities were revealed to me by his mother, and that was my opportunity to leave. But I should not have waited to leave due to infertility, I should have just left because of the abuse. I was only married 6 years to him, but I should have left him when the abuse started, at the end of the second year; I suffered in that abusive marriage for 4 more years. God didn't bring us "out of darkness, into His marvelous light" to be abused.

        I'm now very happy married, 19 years, to an non-SDA man. He is not abusive, we love and respect each other, and he is a very good man (And I'm not saying that SDA husbands are abusive; abusers can be Christian or non-Christian). I pray for my husband every day that God will be with him on his job and in our home, and that he will one day accept Jesus as his Savior. But until then, I'm happy, and I'm no longer in an abusive relationship. (sorry for the long post, but there may be someone out there that need an encouraging testimony of someone that overcame what they may be currently going through). Please remember that God is still in control; no matter what the enemy tries to do to us, Jesus has already won the battle for us.

        Be blessed everyone!

    • The counsel of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians is clear: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them”. (Ephesians 5:11.) Paul sets a high standard for the husband: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25.) A person who is abusive (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) to his spouse and his children is not a Christian. By repeated and continual abuse, his actions are clearly stating he wants no part in the relationship with those he is abusing.

      Further, any minister or church that condones this kind of abuse in its midst, either through inaction or sanction, is clearly not of Christ and should be disciplined, for they are bringing shame and reproach to the name of Christ. And if they fail to receive the disciple, they should be disfellowshipped and treated as unbelievers for so they are.

      One who abuses their spouse is an unbeliever. Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 7:15 states “if the one who is not a believer wishes to leave the Christian partner, let it be so. In such cases the Christian partner, whether husband or wife, is free to act. God has called you to live in peace.” By his abuse, the unbeliever’s actions are unambiguously stating he want out of the marriage, so the believer is free to act, that is, to leave the abusive relationship. And her church should fully support her in this and should discipline the abuser if he is part of the church.

      Spousal abuse should be called out and clearly identified for what it is: sin.

      Just some thoughts for your Sabbath School class.

      • Hi Brother Richard,
        As humbly as I can, I will have to disagree with your statement - "By repeated and continual abuse, his actions are clearly stating he wants no part in the relationship with those he is abusing".

        Having lived through an abusive marriage, I know for a fact that my ex-husband did not want to end our marriage, it took him 6 months to sign the divorce papers. I'm not saying this is the case in all abusive relationships, but in my case, it was all about "Power and Control". He had a very "controlling" personality. Everyone else could see his controlling personality before we got married, except me; I let my love (or infatuation) for him clouded my reasoning. I was so blinded by love, that I could not see what everyone around me saw in him. He definitely had a controlling influence over me.

        Also, most abusers have deep seated emotional problems; and many abusers are in co-dependent relationships. So, No, the abuser is not the one that is trying to escape the marriage/relationship; the abuser would like to continue with his actions/behavior forever, if he could. He enjoys the Power, it makes him feel good about himself to be in control of someone else (this is a sign of deep emotional issue that requires professional help). In my abusive marriage, I wanted to help my husband by making it a requirement to save our marriage that we both to get professional counseling (because clearly I was in need of some help as well, to allow myself to be abused). My ex-husband refused to be involved in any form of professional counseling; so, again that was my way out of the marriage. However, if my ex-husband had agree to counseling, I would have forgiven him and fought hard every day to make my marriage with him work, and we both may have grown closer and closer to Christ. But he did not think that professional counseling would help the problems in our marriage from his 'warped' prospective. So, here I am, very happily divorced, and remarried to a good man. I have not seen my ex-husband in 30 plus years, but I do occasionally pray for him.

        And as for the church disciplining members that are abusers, I want to point out that most of the time the church doesn't even know that a member is being abused or is an abuser. The first rule in most abusive marriage/relationship is "Silence or secrecy". The abusers will even threaten to extend the abuse to other family members, sometimes that don't even live with them, in order to keep their secret private (Fear means control to an abuser). So, how are we suppose to discipline a member on something that is a secret. Even when the abuse is made known to the church, the abuser is so publicly ashamed of his action that he doesn't come back to the church, that was my experience anyway.

        I'm just speaking from my experience; maybe in some abusive relationship it could be all different. But again, most of the time, the abuser wishes to hold on to his power over the other person, and he will continue with his abuse until he get some professional help. So, it's up to the person being abused to leave or to decide to stay and tolerate the abuse. Many people decide to stay in abusive marriages/relationships because they think that they are protecting their children; they have reasoned in their minds, "It's better for him/her to abuse me instead of the children". The abuser will eventually start abusing the children as well.

        If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive marriage/relationship, pray for and with them, then advise them to seek professional Christian counseling Today. It will not be easy, and God will be with you every step of the way, working it out for your good.
        Be Blessed!

        • Hello Toni,

          As you have clearly shown, simple “solutions” to complex problems are not a solution at all. The difficultly humans face is eloquently stated by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. I like the way the Phillips translation puts it:

          For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. (Ephesians 6:12, Phillips.)

          There is a passage that EG White wrote in Christ’s Object Lesson (p. 159) that I would like to cite:

          No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.

          If an abuser is unwilling to give up self and work with God (through all available means such as professional counselling) to overcome his sin, he cannot be saved from it. As you point out, we can pray to God, but abuse is as you also stated a “secret sin” at least in our culture. However, in other cultures, it is “normal”, condoned or even sanctioned. My previous post came from that point of view, but still begs the question of how to deal with the heart that practices this sin.

          I did not mention in my post that it is estimated that one in four abusers are men, but one is nine abusers are women. Given that Adventists have been shown to be no different than other groups in society, I would expect the statistics to be the same in the church.

          Adventists are known for their advocacy of physical health practices, but seem to be suspicious of (lacking in) effective mental health practices, especially where these involve professionals. The people who suffer from mental health issues (including abusive behaviour) deserve better. Ideally, ours would be a church that was open about mental illness and was working to resolve this issue, but this is not the case. We are not preaching and living the whole gospel.

          Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this important aspect of your life.


        • Toni,
          Your description of the abuser is spot on.
          I might add one more thing.
          The abuser may very well be a different person out in public.
          He may be pleasant, friendly and well mannered, even a member of the church.
          He may well be totally the opposite of the person at home.
          Only his wife and children see the real person, and they aren't talking.
          Secrecy rules. It could be out of shame, or it could be that they think this is normal. If the wife is from an abusive home, she may well think that this is normal.
          So the church would never know.
          It would take someone to be friendly with the wife and to get to know her. Eventually it would come out.
          You never know if people in your midst are suffering.
          It doesn't always show.
          Maybe that's a good reason to be kind to all you meet.
          You never know what someone is going through.

  3. Christ is the exclusive source of peace...'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.' Seven hundred years before He was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold that He would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). On the night of His birth in Bethlehem, the angels filled the night sky with the chorus 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.' (Luke 2:14).

    During his ministry on earth Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee as recorded in Mark 4. Jesus and His disciples were in a ship sailing on the sea, when a great storm arose.

    The waves grew bigger and bigger and water came right into the ship and threatened to sink the ship. Then the disciples woke the Lord Jesus up and said, 'Master, carest thou not that we perish?' And He promptly arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, 'Peace, be still.' And the wind ceased, and immediately there was a great calm. And whenever storms arise within our own hearts the same Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in us still calms our hearts with the same words, 'Peace, be still'.

    Christ has brought peace not only to man, but to the whole creation. Colossians 1:19,20 tells us, 'For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.' Thus our Lord Jesus is truly the Lord of Peace and the Prince of Peace!
    Peace in our families and home...peace peace!!

  4. Hello Chimuka,
    It's like you snatched that question from me but i will like to ask a similar question with a real Testimony. Please how would one advice this Woman Appropriately?

    I once lived in a rent-age House with the Son of the Late Land Lord who was always in the Habit of both Physically and emotionally Abusing his Wife. He harasses, insults, curses, slaps, blows, bite, kicks, etc. the wife. This habit led to so many injuries and wounds on the Face, Head and other parts of the Body. On one instance he broke her head and another he strongly pushed her with Leg while she was swiping towards the Door that led to the outside Door frontage which was by the Road and she forcefully and unpreparedly went through the Door and hit her chest on a pavement and also hit her Eyebrow on a wooden pillar. This left the poor woman with a serious injury on the Chest and a serious wound on her Eyebrow. In fact there are other traumatic attitudes along side these Horrific behaviors.

    You see!!! this is a serious threat to Life.

    I was left in a confused and a worrisome state of wondering the best advice to give the poor woman.

    Would such a Spouse continue to live in this kind of Marriage?

    • It is very hard for a victim to leave an abuser and I think the statistics show that the victim (at least in the USA where there is a lot of support) leaves seven (yes 7) times before leaving for good.
      I once moved between the victim and her husband in a courthouse hallway because he was literally controlling her with his eyes. The judge gave her everything she needed in temporary orders but later she went back to him which was when it got much, much worse until they finally split for good.
      When talking with other professionals, we call child molesters “pillars of the community” because that’s what they seem like (not drooling guys hiding in the bushes).
      And abusive spouses don’t have to be drunks, they can be church elders or that nice lady selling her house. Mainly they just have to be humans with a human (sinful) heart.
      Thank you Jesus for your love and grace.

    • Ephriam,
      To answer your question, she should not stay in that physically abusive situation.
      However, she may because she might have grown up in an abusive home and thinks that such behavior is normal. Or her self esteem could be so low that she thinks she deserves it.
      Or she could have children and feels that she needs to be there to receive the abuse instead of them. There are any number of reasons that she might stay unfortunately.
      It would take friends who witnessed this to step in and "rescue" her and perhaps even take her from her captor.
      Then it would take time to get her to see that she should stay away from him.
      It's a sticky situation.
      But that's just my opinion.

  5. “My mama didn’t raise a punching bag!” I told my husband before we got married. “If you lay one hand on me, you will draw back a nub.” He has never struck me and we raised our son the same way. To respect women. My husband is of another faith, but he has always gone to my church when he went. We had a come to Jesus meeting about 2 years ago after having some problems in our marriage. He started attending church with me every Sabbath since then. He even goes when I am sick and can’t go. We are coming up on our 36th anniversary, so hang in there. The Lord answers pray.

  6. Hi Sylvia, I like your comment, it's almost like mine.
    My husband was not from our church but I prayed for him for
    15yrs and 2 weeks, but God answered my prayers. He was baptized and he is strong in church working for the Lord.
    Let us remember our sisters who are married to non believers.


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