Matthew 24:16-18 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (17) Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, (18) and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
These verses are of course from the Lord’s words to His disciples which we call the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25). Jesus is speaking to them here about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, but we can correctly apply what He says to our own daily lives now as well:
We see that flight from danger may sometimes be the positive duty of a Christian. The servant of Christ undoubtedly is not to be a coward. He is to confess his master before men. He is to be willing to die, if needful, for the truth. But the servant of Christ is not required to run into danger, unless it comes in the line of duty. He is not to be ashamed to use reasonable means to provide for his personal safety when no good is to be done by dying at his post. There is deep wisdom in this lesson. The true martyrs are not always those who court death, and are in a hurry to be beheaded or burned. [J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, p. 318-19]
One of the most deceitful and wicked wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing that I have ever known used to love to push this business upon people. “Oh but just think of your reward in heaven if you willingly undergo this suffering,” he loved to say to people who were being reviled and maligned by some other wolf among the flock. Of course if anyone were to malign HIM, he would blow up in anger and not stand for it for a second. Abusers have double standards you know. Always double standards.
Many of you have heard this same evil gibberish from pastors and fellow church members I am sure. “The Lord wants you to stay in the marriage. He has called us to suffering. Think of your reward. Divorce is such a terrible thing.” Blah, blah, blah.
But as you can see from the verse above, J.C. Ryle is correct (he was a pastor in England by the way back in the 1800’s). We can prove from Scripture, and not only from this Scripture but from others (think of Paul being let down the wall in a basket, or of Jesus escaping from a murderous crowd because His time had not come), that it is the positive duty of a Christian to escape from danger – and I would say that if such an escape is possible to take without denying Christ, then we are to take it.
In cases of domestic abuse, that escape route is an ending of the so-called marriage, carrying out a careful escape plan, and escaping into safety. So the next time some supposed Christian lays this evil nonsense on you, ask them – “Do you believe that it is ever the duty of a Christian to escape from danger?” Watch them stumble around trying to answer. Because the fact is that what they have just told you in their evil “counsel” is that they insist that YOU are never permitted to escape from danger.