Abuse and Submission

Abuse and Submission
… What’s Biblical and what’s intolerable?
Third of a four part series.

One of the most common questions we receive by letter, e-mail and from callers on New Life Radio has to do with the tolerance of verbal and physical abuse within a home as well as with hostile people who persecute Christians.

Should we take a path of passivity or should we resist?

How do we reconcile victimization and abuse with submission within marriage?

What exactly does abuse mean?

When do we turn the other cheek?

Here are more thoughts in my e-mail dialogue with Bob!

(Reprinted here is  original question followed by Milan’s thoughts on the subject)“Thank you for the detailed and thought-provoking response you provided for me, below.  Yes, exactly, you are right that I am focusing on the meaning of Jesus teaching on ‘turning the other cheek.’  It’s interesting to me that, in John 18:23, even Jesus himself doesn’t literally turn his other cheek after he is unjustly physically struck, but rather Jesus immediately verbally confronts the man who hit Jesus for no good reason.  It’s also interesting to me that Paul stands up for his personal rights very assertively and boldly in Acts 16:37, and Paul aggressively prevents himself from being physically harmed in three passages in Acts — namely in Acts 22:25 and Acts 23:1-3 and Acts 25:11.  From these passages in Acts (namely, Acts 16:37, Acts 22:25, Acts 23:1-3, and Acts 25:11), it seems like Paul felt very comfortable defending his own human rights, with an unwavering commitment to never let himself get unjustly harmed by anyone.

      In essence, it seems to me that Jesus and Paul set and maintained healthy boundaries with people in a variety of different circumstances and settings, demonstrating to me that Jesus’ command on ‘turning the other cheek’ must have meant that Christians should never return insult-for-insult or abuse-for-abuse, rather than a literal instruction for us to keep receiving mistreatment from people or to actually invite people to mistreat us even more….”  Bob

Hi Bob,

  1. The Apostle Paul is very hard to understand sometimes and many people have difficulty accurately interpreting his writings.  In fact, the Apostle Peter, a fisherman, said that Paul was hard to understand and that the untaught and the unstable distort them and lead others astray.  Having said that, when we read II Corinthians 11:20, it seems that Paul’s sarcastic correction of the Corinthian church and the false Apostles that tried to lead them astray, does seem to say that they allowed themselves to be abused and they should have resisted and not tolerated the abuse.
  1. As a response to a chaotic childhood, angry Controllers (Ch. 8 How We Love) and Vacillators (Ch.7 How We Love) dominate others as an attempt to control predictable outcomes.  They use anger and abuse often as the means for forcing compliance.  Thus, many people treat family members and others unkindly because they are in such inner turmoil from their past.  They replicate sin from generation to generation.  The job of the church is to intervene by leading them to Christ and then holding them accountable to a holy standard of behavior becoming to believers (Ephesians 4:1).


  1. I’m not really sure what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to grab a sword or two in Luke 22:38, yet we know what Peter did with it when the arresting party came to  take Jesus into custody.  I am quite sure that Peter was aiming for the person’s head and he duck and only cut off his ear.  Jesus did tell him to put it away and then He put Malchus’ ear back on.  Jesus was the first plastic surgeon.  The Apostles in Acts and epistles did not use swords to fight.  They use the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6).


  1. In Romans 13, the government is to use the “sword” to punish evildoers.  In whose hand is the sword?  Would the “sword wielders” only be non-Christians or could a Christian work for the government in the role of an enforcer?  Obviously, there are many Christian police officers and military personnel.


  1. I am a martial arts instructor.  Persecution for the sake of the Gospel and ultimately the death of the apostles as well as many believers throughout history because of their message is a part of the difficult plan that Jesus and the Apostles predicted.  If arrested for preaching the gospel and hit or hurt, I might not fight back (I guess I may never know).  Yet if I am jumped in a parking lot by someone who does not know what religion I am or attacks my family, I will resist… I will not foolishly say, “Go ahead and hit the other one”.

To Be continued…


Milan and Kay