1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
This passage of Scripture is often misapplied to keep victims of domestic abusers in bondage. However, in this post I want to focus upon God’s promise of “the way of escape.” Obviously it is God’s will that when we are in a trial or test and we see a way of escape, we take it! After all, God Himself provides it!
Now, there are people who claim to be Christians who will tell you that it is always better (and in fact that God requires it) to remain in the trial. Even “unto death.” In other words, they promote martyrdom. Of course they are characterized by the ever-present double standard of the abuser. No way would they become a martyr, but you are required to be one.
Years ago there was just such a fellow in our church. He was all the time talking about martyrs. Missionary martyrs. Fox’s book of the martyrs of church history. And when someone was suffering, he was always right there to say something like – “just submit. This is the Lord’s will for you. Just think how great your reward will be.” Apparently he disregarded Jesus’ rebuke of the devil. We are forbidden to put the Lord to the test.
Most local churches, pastors, “biblical” counselors, and church members approach domestic abuse in their midst in this very way. They forbid divorce, and often even forbid separation. You know the routine. It is very common that they tell the victim not to ever call the police. She is to suffer. She is to suffer silently. Otherwise she doesn’t have faith, and you know, her abuser’s salvation (if they even acknowledge he isn’t saved) depends on her, right? This all is nothing less than promoting martyrdom. Requiring the victim to be a martyr. We have known more than one account of the response by a local church in which the victim was murdered by her abuser to be something like: “In the end they are all free now and in heaven together.”
In the history of the church there were people, in times of intense persecution, who actively tried to become martyrs. The church had to stop them and make it clear that if God providentially allowed a Christian to be martyred, that was His doing. But to set oneself up intentionally for martyrdom was wrong. If there were a way of escape, a Christian should take it.
And so it is today. Or at least, that is how it should be.
When your pastor or church or some “christian” book you are reading tells you that God requires you to remain in a marriage to an abuser, they are in fact throwing you to the lions in an arena of their own making. What they are saying is, “you must be a martyr.” And often they will remind you, “you know the Bible says”:
Heb 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
“So get back out there to the arena and let the lions do what they may. Exit doors may be wide open, but you are not permitted to take them,” they say.
No one has a right to throw you to the lions. No one. God is in the business of providing a way of escape. Don’t ever be afraid to use it.