If You Ever Hit Me, I Swear I’ll Leave You—Even If the BIBLE Does Not Give Me Permission To!

Where is that passage in the BIBLE that says, “Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, STRIKE or batter thy spouse. It is an abomination unto the Lord”?

Ah, there isn’t one?


But isn’t there a passage somewhere in the Bible (addressed to women) that says: “If thy husband striketh or abuseth thee, thou must get away from him, and mayest DIVORCE him. He hath broken the covenant of his marriage, and hath offended the Lord his God”?

Oh. That’s not in the Bible either?

Only abandonment and adultery are grounds for divorce?


Well, what does a good Bible believing literalist, in a position of Church LEADERSHIP, do when a woman in the congregation comes to him and says, “My husband hits me; therefore, I’m leaving him, and I want a divorce”?

This is the SUBJECT of a highly disturbing and arresting article (by Kathryn Joyce). It’s titled, “Biblical Battered Wife Syndrome: Christian Women and Domestic Violence”, and is posted at Alternet.com here). Apparently, Joyce is working on a full book on the lives of women inhabiting (both physically and psychologically) some of America’s religious authoritarian subculures.

In any event, here’s an icky taste from her article:

In June 2007, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Bruce Ware told a Texas church that women often bring abuse on themselves by refusing to submit. And Debi Pearl, half of a husband-and-wife fundamentalist child-training ministry as well as author of the bestselling submission manual, Created to Be His Help Meet, writes that submission is so essential to God’s plan that it must be followed even to the point of allowing abuse. “When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer,” she writes, “it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering.”

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes physical abuse is your fault, and when it’s not your fault, you are to stay in the “wrongful suffering” because God put you there, and wants you there.

Got that?


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to If You Ever Hit Me, I Swear I’ll Leave You—Even If the BIBLE Does Not Give Me Permission To!

  1. ubuntucat says:

    Selective literalism has to go. It has allowed sexist interpretations of the Bible for too long.

  2. It is always good to read a well developed analysis on a give topic, particularly when it involves a subject of great importance

    Johnson C. Philip, PhD (Physics)

  3. Serena Jungers says:

    I would just like to point out that abuse (physical, emotional, or psychological) would categorize under abandonment, because the abusive husband is not loving and caring for all of his wife’s needs as he loves himself and cares for his own needs. Therefore it is Biblical for a wife to divorce her abusive husband. I’m sorry, but anyone who says it isn’t needs to take another look at their Bible.

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