Exo 22:22-24 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (23) If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, (24) and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
I have written before on this subject of abuse victims as widows and orphans of our day. I maintain that the many Scriptures that tell us to care for them and that promise the Lord’s wrath upon anyone who mistreats them apply directly to victims of domestic abusers and their children. Some of you have told me that your pastor (ex pastor now, I trust) rejects this suggestion of the abuse victim as widow.
Those pastors are dead wrong and it leaves me wondering why they are so opposed to treating abuse victims as belonging to this category.
Consider the language used in the Bible for widows and orphans and others:
Deu 10:18-19 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (19) Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Deu 24:17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge,
Psa 82:1-4 A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: (2) “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah (3) Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (4) Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Amo 5:11-12 Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. (12) For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.
Jas 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Now if you want multitudes of similar verses beyond these, they are not at all hard to find. Over and over again we have this theme in Scripture accompanied by sobering, fearful warnings to any who mistreat and withold justice from the widow and orphan.
But let’s step back and think about these Scriptures in more detail. They do not just speak of the widow and the orphan. They also include people like the “sojourner” (the foreigner coming into the land) and they include the poor. Do you see a common thread?
Mat 25:41-43 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (42) For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, (43) I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
These pastors who use their wooden, stiff method of handling Scripture are just like the Pharisees who distorted God’s Word with their knitpicky “strain out a gnat and swallow the camel” approach. They miss the main point entirely –
Mat 12:7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
The big picture in all these passages is plain for all who desire to see God’s truth. The widow and the orphan belong to a category of people – the helpless, the weak, the oppressed. The foreigner in the land. The poor sitting at the rich man’s gate. People who through no real fault of their own have nothing. People who are an easy target for the wicked.
So I want to ask you, Mr. Pastor, do victims (usually women and children) of domestic abusers fit into this category? Are they poor? Are they suffering? Are they in need of justice and food and clothing and shelter and protection from harm? “Yes, but they have a husband and a father. They are not therefore technically widows and orphans.” Well, pastor, you are blind. Your “technical” gnat straining approach to God’s Word is simply serving to enable you to cling to your tradition that has made an idol out of a marriage certificate.
And God sees it. He says that your religion is worthless. He says that you will give an account one day for refusing to care for the oppressed when they came to you seeking help. He says that unless you repent and change your ways, your religion is worthless – it will not save you.