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The Fear of "What If"

The word ‘fear’ denotes an apprehension about something and affects one’s entire equilibrium. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger. Fear expresses less apprehension than dread, and dread less than terror and fright. The force of this passion, beginning with the most moderate degree, may be thus expressed, fear, dread, terror, fright. Fear is accompanied with a desire to avoid or ward off the expected evil. Fear is an uneasiness of mind, upon the thought of future evil likely to befall us.” There are many types of fear which confront people on a daily basis but women who have been victims of domestic violence either fear the pain of another assault or worse, death.

There are numerous women assaulted daily; some even become frequent visitors to the emergency room at hospitals. Others try to nurse their wounds at home, covering them with make-up while pretending that it’s going to get better; or fooling themselves into believing that he’s going to change. Nevertheless, fear lurks in the deep recesses of their emotions; the apprehension of “what if” bombards the thoughts and tortures the night’s rest. “What if he doesn’t change? What if he does it again? What if he kills me?” The list of “what ifs” goes on and there is no concrete evidence in sight to secure a definitive answer.

The solution to such fear is to find help out of the situation through counseling and if that fails, through separation. It is true that many would argue on the basis of scripture, even quoting Ephesians 5:22-25 which says “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;” However, we need to look deeper at this passage of scripture to comprehend whether or not wives were being instructed to submit to brutal beatings, abuse and other defaming attitudes from their husbands.

First of all, we understand that the husband is God’s designated authority in the home but given certain responsibilities as the head in order to operate within the confines of divine order. The wife is instructed to submit; a word meaning, “to surrender; to yield one’s person to the power of another; to give up resistance.” Wives are required by the divine precepts of God’s law to yield to their husbands. Consistent points of argument made by husbands or accepted by wives as being final and without any further discussions are:

• Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands

• the husband is the head of the wife

• let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing

Most often rehearse these lines and neglect the remaining portions which cement the entire instruction. The Lord in His infinite wisdom wanted to convey His order of things to both parties, so that neither would abuse the other. If the husband had no responsibility in his wife’s submission, the Lord would have simply said, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands in everything” and that would have been it. There would not have been a need to outline any form of instructions to the husbands. But rather, the husband is told to imitate the actions of Christ to the Church by demonstrating the fact that:

• He is the Savior

• He loved the church

• He laid down His life for it

Word of Encouragement:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever - Psalm 23

Secondly, although there are no outlined prerequisites, the husbands are told: “Love your wives” and given the understanding that Christ compares her to His attitude toward the Church. His love for the Church has positioned her to receive His act of sanctification [separation to Himself] and cleansing that He might secure for Himself something glorious not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Cf. Ephesians 5:26-27). The concise instructions are found in Ephesians 5:28-29 “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth [“nourisheth it up,” namely, to maturity. “Nourisheth,” refers to food and internal sustenance] and cherisheth it, [“cherisheth,” to clothing and external fostering] even as the Lord the Church:”

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary states, “Thou hast seen the measure of obedience; now hear also the measure of love. Do you wish your wife to obey you, as the Church is to obey Christ? Then have a solicitude for her as Christ had for the Church (cf. Ephesians 5:23) “Himself the Savior of the body”; and “if it be necessary to give thy life for her, or to be cut in ten thousand pieces, or to endure any other suffering whatever, do not refuse it;” Love your wife denotes that you cherish, cover, protect from all harm and danger, even your own volatile temper.

John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible states concerning Ephesians 5:25, “Which consists in a strong and cordial affection for them; in a real delight and pleasure in them; in showing respect, and doing honor to them; in seeking their contentment, satisfaction, and pleasure; in a quiet, constant, and comfortable dwelling with them; in providing all things necessary for them; in protecting them from all injuries and abuses; in concealing their faults, and covering their infirmities; in entertaining the best opinion of their persons and actions; and in endeavoring to promote their spiritual good and welfare: this love ought to be hearty and sincere, and not feigned and selfish; it should be shown in private, as well as in public: it should be chaste and single, constant and perpetual; it should exceed that which is bore to neighbors, or even to parents, and should be equal to that a man bears to himself.”

The Sovereign God did not leave anything to chance, but compounded His instructions of the husband’s conduct by having the Apostle Paul pen these words “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” (cf. Colossians 3:19) Further, the Apostle Peter added in 1st Peter 3:7: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” One should be mindful here of the condition of the neglectful attitude demonstrated toward his wife, which consequentially causes his prayers to become hindered. The word ‘hindered’ means, “delayed,” “stuck,” “slowed down,” “stopped,” “impeded,” “obstructed; retarded or held up.”

Women, it’s time to face your fears and understand that you are called to be an honored and loved vessel; it is the command of God concerning you. You are not to be beaten or abused by your spouse; it is not the will of God. If you are living in this situation, then it’s time for self- evaluation and affirmative action before it is too late. Yes, you are afraid; you are surrounded by countless fears but understand that this is no longer the dark ages and help is available.

To men who would have opportunity to read this article please understand that God does not endorse the abuse of women or bound any woman to submit herself to tyranny or terror. The brutal beatings, verbal, emotional and sexual assault/abuse must stop. It is against the precepts of God’s law and rebellion against His commands that you love your wife. If you have an issue in understanding love, it is clearly outlined in 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. God has not left you without the knowledge of what He expects from you; it’s written in His word and if you do not comprehend the Word, He has provided able ministers to teach you what is good and acceptable for you to do in obeying His command. “Love your wife; honor her as the weaker vessel and do not be bitter toward her.” It is the Word.

To Pastors and other members of clergy who encourage women to remain in homes where domestic violence is practiced and women are constantly battered and bruised; you need tostop it! It is time for you to give Godly counsel in accordance with the “Word” and get real help for your flock. Help the man to understand the context of scripture and the women to understand that God is not holding them hostage to inhumane treatment. And those of you who hit your wives, you need to stop it; it is neither ordained nor sanctioned by God.

Prophetically, God shall visit these crimes inflicted upon women and children and surely the ministers who condone, cover or minimize these things shall be found guilty of bloodshed. The anger of the Lord has waxed hot against these evils and demands that it stops.

Fear the Lord, and do not fear man.