“We may already think domestic abuse is certainly a crime against humanity, but the Bible shows us it is also more than that. More than a criminal act, it is a sin that God abhors” (p. 108.)
This statement captures the thrust of Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s excellent book: Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence.
Throughout the book, the authors accurately site tragic statistics that provide evidence of the pervasiveness of violence in domestic relationships. There are diagrams and questions to help the reader assess and process the facets of domestic violence and domestic abuse.
Equipping the Church
It is an unfortunate reality that many churches are woefully ill-equipped to deal with domestic violence. It has been my experience that when the church does not know what to do with an issue, they do nothing. Hopefully, this book will change that.
Is It My Fault? covers a difficult subject and does it skillfully, making it an excellent tool for the biblical counselor to use with a counselee who is struggling to accept that the treatment by their significant other may indeed be domestic violence. The authors touch on some of the common responses of being abused (shame, anger, and despair) and help the reader to understand the mindset of a person who has experienced abuse.
The Holcombs state, “This book is a resource for healing and hope, not a substitute for reporting abuse, legal care, medical care, counseling, pastoral care, or family and community support. We focus exclusively on the emotional pain resulting from the violence and what the Bible says about the experience of domestic violence” (p. 27).
Taking a Biblical View
The Holcombs present both Old and New Testament support for women as equal in the sight of God and lay out a biblical view of what the Bible says about violence against women. They cite numerous verses and passages of Scripture to aid the often confused and frightened victim comprehend God’s perspective on spousal abuse (chapter 8).
Because “submission” is often used as a way for an abuser to continue to hurt and demean a woman and her children, the Holcombs wisely include teaching on biblical submission in marriage. Unfortunately, many abused women believe that a life of abuse is God’s will for them in a relationship. And the Scriptures are often twisted by their abuser and even by the church to support the view that women are to live with and tolerate abuse. There is no command or expectation in Scripture that a person must tolerate abuse to become more holy or as a refinement of character toward Christlikeness. A man who is abusive to his wife or children must understand that the greatest crime, the greatest attack, is against God who has created that person in His image.
The Holcombs biblically support the fact that God has compassion on the abused person and intends to deliver them from violence and harm. Very often that deliverance is more providential then supernatural. God has provided legal and societal ways and means for which an abused person can escape their circumstances, and the abused person must elect to take advantage of them. There are several appendices that provide practical and fairly detailed information on getting help and making a safety plan to exit an abusive relationship.
I appreciate that the authors did not only focus on the physical aspects of domestic violence but also on emotional and sexual abuse in marriages and relationships. This is often overlooked or taken less seriously because the injuries for these types of abuses are internal.
A Highly Recommended Resource
Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence is an excellent tool for anyone in a formal one-to-one ministry in a church setting or a casual discipleship relationship where there is concern of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse of women and children. I believe any pastor would benefit from reading this book as an aid in helping any woman in his congregation who is suffering in an abusive relationship of any kind.