MYTH 11 : It’s your fault, because you deserve punishment.
TRUTH : No one deserves abuse or cruelty—ever. God calls us to love one another, not mistreat and betray each other.
This myth says you are to blame if your spouse abuses, hits, slaps, mocks, punishes, or ridicules you; calls you names; denies you food, clothing, or basic needs; acts indifferently toward you; withholds things you enjoy; or monitors or controls you. Some people who feel guilty about a past sin (often sex, youthful rebellion, abortion, criminal behavior, etc.) come to believe that the abuse is God righteously punishing them. This is not a right understanding of God.
The Bible promises that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV). Jesus has taken the punishment for our sins on himself, on the Cross. The debt has been paid. We have been washed clean because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
In this world, we all may still have the natural consequences of bad behavior (such as needing to apologize and make things right when we say something unkind to a friend).
But God doesn’t get revenge on us or punish us with abusive marriages to teach us a lesson.
That is not the kind of God he is.
For example, when religious authorities wanted Jesus’ permission to kill a woman caught in adultery, Jesus told her he did not condemn her.
He let her go free (John 8:1-11). Our God is a God of mercy, forgiveness, and love.
You aren’t supposed to die for your own sins. That’s Jesus’ job. God loves you and forgives you.
And if God has forgiven you, maybe it makes sense to forgive yourself. Jesus’ Great Commandment calls his followers to love one another. Abusive behavior is certainly not love. Three times in Ephesians 5, husbands are called to love their wives. Abuse and neglect are not signs of love.
If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
—1 Timothy 5:8 (BSB)
For more on this myth and others, plus stories of those who've experienced what you have, read Chapter 3 in The Life-Saving Divorce.