Proverbs 4:14-19, Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. (15) Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (16) For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. (17) For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. (18) But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (19) The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
Reading through Proverbs recently, I noticed a number of passages that warn of the danger and the negative effects of associations with the wicked. The Lord’s wisdom instructs us to turn away from evil people – the kind who cannot go to bed at night unless they have worked their evil on someone. Their “food” is wickedness and violence. They have a taste for it and seem to thrive on it. Of course, in the end, it turns out that they are blindly heading for destruction. For all these reasons and more, we are wise to stay away from them. Similarly –
Proverbs 13:20, Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 14:7, Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
We see the same principle in numbers of places in the New Testament too. For instance –
1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 5:6, Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Now, what does all of this have to do with the subject of abuse? Well, it seems to me that it has a direct bearing upon the common struggles the abuse victim has in trying to decide if the Lord permits her to leave and/or divorce her abuser. It also comes into play in analyzing whether it is really true or not that children are always better off with two parents, even if one of them is an abuser. If the Lord advises us repeatedly to not associate with the wicked, how does that “square” with the common advice being given to abuse victims by pastors, churches, and individual Christians that they must stay in their marriage? Does the fact that a person is married to a wicked person negate all of this instruction to separate from such evil?
I don’t think so.