In 2003, when I experienced the horrific assault described in the first chapter of, Woman Submit!, the Holy Spirit had been dealing with me for some weeks prior, about how very much God hates it when his children are mistreated. And no one disagreed that I needed to leave that violent man. In fact, It was my Pastor who encouraged me to divorce him. And it was my Pastor's wife who assisted me in completing and filing my petition for divorce.
God not only hates it when his daughters are abused, He also hates it, when spiritual leaders and trusted advisors refuse to do everything in their power to get a woman to safety, because, in their theological opinion, it may compromise wifely submission and respect towards an abusive husband.
It is never wrong to ask, "are you safe?" It is never wrong to advise a woman to leave a dangerous spouse. But is it wrong to advise her to leave an abusive husband who is not physically violent?
This brings us to the question, about whether a non-violent husband can be considered a physical threat to his wife. And if advising a woman to leave a non-violent abuser is the appropriate Christian response to her unhappy situation. What if her husband is verbally and emotionally abusive but does not batter her? Can he be considered a danger, then? Many would say, No. But I disagree. I say, all abusive husbands are--or are potentially--physical threats to their wives.
What about the wife who is advised to stay, pray, and submit, and is ultimately driven to suicide by such callous advice and by her husband's verbal and emotional cruelties? That husband was a not only a physical danger to his wife but ultimately her murderer. Those who guilted her through religious terrorism also become her murders. Her blood is on many hands.
What about the wife who's health is neglected because her non-violent abuser controls the finances and uses economic abuse to manipulate her options? He successfully prevents her from getting the health and dental care she may [desperately] need. Her health deteriorates. She lives a substandard life, perhaps becomes disabled, a terminal disease is allowed to run its course, and she ultimately dies because of the abuse. Who can say that "non-violent" abuser was not physical threat to his wife?
A husband need not batter a wife to place her life and health at risk. The question, "Are you safe," entails much more than the obvious, "Does he hit you?"
Neglect caused by economic, verbal and emotional abuse [and manipulation] is physically dangerous. And God hates it when his children are subjected to this kind of treatment. He really hates when people who profess to know Him, advise His daughters who are in such circumstances, to stay, pray, and imperil their lives for the sake of religion.