What Does the Bible Say About Emotionally Abusive Husbands?

Emotional abuse in a marriage can be just as damaging as physical abuse. In fact, emotional abuse is often the precursor to physical abuse. It can take many forms, such as verbal attacks, intimidation, isolation, and manipulation. If you are experiencing emotional abuse from your husband, it is important to seek help and support. Here are 20 things that the Bible says about emotionally abusive husbands.

What Does the Bible Say About Emotionally Abusive Husbands?

Ephesians 5:25-28: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Colossians 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Matthew 20:25-28: “But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Proverbs 3:31: “Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.”

Proverbs 12:18: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 14:21: “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.”

Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.”

Song of Solomon 7:10: “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.”

Romans 13:10: “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.”

Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Proverbs 15:18: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”

Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

1 Corinthians 16:14: “Do everything in love.”

Proverbs 31:10-11: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”

Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Proverbs 21:19: “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”

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1 Peter 3:1-2: “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Proverbs 11:12: “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.”

1 Corinthians 7:3-4: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.”

Proverbs 25:21: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Proverbs 19:14: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”

Proverbs 14:29: “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”

Colossians 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Ephesians 4:2-3: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Proverbs 16:32: “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

1 Corinthians 13:6-7: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Proverbs 17:9: “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

1 Corinthians 10:24: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

Galatians 5:13: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Proverbs 31:28-29: “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'”

Matthew 19:6: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”

Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Proverbs 15:18: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”

1 Peter 5:5: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”

Proverbs 21:19: “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.”

Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Proverbs 20:3: “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

1 Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Proverbs 31:26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

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Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Colossians 3:13-14: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Proverbs 14:1: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.”

Matthew 7:1-2: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

These verses emphasize the importance of love, forgiveness, patience, listening, and promoting peace within relationships. They discourage anger, conflict, and harm toward one another. Remember, it is essential to study the Bible comprehensively and seek guidance from trusted spiritual leaders when addressing specific concerns within a marital relationship.


How The Bible Describes Emotional Abusers

Emotional abuse, although not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, aligns with several characteristics addressed in Scripture. It encompasses various forms, such as verbal assaults, threats, insults, as well as non-verbal behaviors like rejection, neglect, and isolation. When these patterns persist, they constitute emotional abuse. The primary victims of such abuse are often spouses, children, or friends who love the abuser and find it difficult to walk away from the situation.

Within the Bible, we find instances illustrating emotional abuse. One example is Abigail, who likely had an emotionally abusive husband. Nabal is described as “surly and mean,” known for his insults and wickedness (1 Samuel 25:3, 14, 25). King Saul’s mistreatment of his son Jonathan is also evident in 1 Samuel 20:30. Additionally, the Babylonians inflicted emotional abuse on Zedekiah by killing his sons in front of him, ensuring his last sight would be their deaths (2 Kings 25:7). Delilah’s relentless nagging of Samson until he grew weary of it (Judges 16:16) exemplifies emotional or possibly psychological abuse. According to Scripture, the actions of an emotional abuser are sinful and displeasing to God.

The famous passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13 unequivocally condemns emotional abuse. The apostle Paul outlines the characteristics of genuine love. Love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4), traits that emotional abuse lacks. Instead, emotional abuse quickly flares up at minor offenses. Love keeps no record of wrongs (verse 5), while emotional abuse fixates on pointing out the other person’s flaws to protect the abuser’s ego. Love is not rude, selfish, prideful, irritable, or resentful—qualities often associated with emotional abuse. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (verse 7). Sadly, those who love unconditionally are often the targets of emotional abuse.

Do these biblical descriptions of love imply that emotional abuse should be silently tolerated? Must one endure the abuse and “persevere” through the pain? The answer to both questions is a resounding “no.” There are loving alternatives beyond accepting the status quo. Abuse is a learned behavior, and accepting it means condoning it. Verbal or emotional abuse should not be accepted for two primary reasons: it dishonors the Lord, and it often escalates into physical abuse.

Emotional abuse is not characteristic of individuals walking in fellowship with the Lord. How does a relationship deteriorate to the point of emotional abuse? Somewhere along the way, there was a failure to obey God’s commands regarding interpersonal relationships (see Ephesians 5:21). Both individuals in a relationship should have their own personal relationship with God through Christ and actively strive to honor God and one another. Without that fellowship with God and a commitment to mutual honor, the relationship will eventually break down.

Any relationship plagued by emotional abuse will face three potential paths: the abuser admits fault, recognizes the harm caused, and changes; the abused person walks away, at least temporarily; or the abuse continues indefinitely, causing harm to both parties.

The abuser can only find healing and forgiveness through genuine repentance and turning to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 7:10 explains that “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The distinction between godly grief and worldly grief is repentance. True recognition of one’s sin leads to grief, repentance, salvation, and a clear conscience.

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We cannot make choices for others, nor can we stop someone’s emotional abuse. It is a decision that the abuser must make. However, we can refuse to accept the abuse without engaging in arguments or making demands. The most drastic solution for emotional abuse is separation (1 Corinthians 7:5). Taking time apart from the abuser allows for seeking godly counsel from a pastor or biblical counselor, introducing spiritual balance into the relationship, and working towards reconciliation.

Irrespective of the choices made by the abuser, we have the choice to obey God and honor Him in our lives. Accepting abuse is not the path we should follow. Instead, by calmly maintaining a spiritual demeanor, refraining from hostility or contention, we can defuse volatile situations (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:1–2).

While the world’s perspective often suggests we can take action to change our circumstances, the Word of God reminds us that true and lasting peace comes only from following His ways.

What Does the Bible Say About a Husband Abusing His Wife?

10 Qualities of An Emotionally Abusive Husband with Bible Verses

Controlling Behavior:

  • Bible Verse: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Bible Verse: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Manipulation:

  • Bible Verse: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
  • Bible Verse: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3)

Verbal Insults:

  • Bible Verse: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Bible Verse: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Blaming and Shaming:

  • Bible Verse: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Bible Verse: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)

Gaslighting:

  • Bible Verse: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” (Proverbs 11:3)
  • Bible Verse: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” (Proverbs 12:22)

Isolation:

  • Bible Verse: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
  • Bible Verse: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Threats and Intimidation:

  • Bible Verse: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Minimizing Feelings and Experiences:

  • Bible Verse: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Financial Control:

  • Bible Verse: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Bible Verse: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

Emotional Withholding:

  • Bible Verse: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

These verses highlight the importance of self-control, integrity, building others up, encouragement, honesty, companionship, trust in God’s protection, empathy, contentment, and fostering joy in relationships. They serve as reminders that emotionally abusive behaviors are contrary to God’s design for healthy and loving connections.

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