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LDS Church's Stand on Abuse

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Unfortunately, all forms of abuse, from physical to emotional, can sometimes be found among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Abuse is against the teachings of Jesus Christ and victims of abuse are not guilty of sin. Over time abuse almost always becomes progressively worse and victims should seek assistance in stopping the abuse and receiving help, although healing from abuse will take time. Emotional abuse is one of the more subtle abuses as it is not as black and white as other types of abuse.

Abuse is Against Christ's Teachings:

In the pamphlet, "Responding to Abuse: Helps for Ecclesiastical Leaders" the LDS Church states, "Abuse in any form is tragic and in opposition to the teachings of the Savior. Abuse is the physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual mistreatment of others. It may not only harm the body, but it can deeply affect the mind and spirit, destroying faith and causing confusion, doubt, mistrust, guilt, and fear." Any member of the LDS Church who abuses children or others is not a "member in good standing in this Church. The abuse of one’s spouse and children is a most serious offense before God," (see "Abuse" at Mormon.org)

Child Abuse:

The abuse of children is a grave sin. Christ taught, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6; see also 18:1–5).

The LDS Church has a help line regarding child abuse. "If you become aware of any child abuse involving Church members in the United States or Canada, or if you believe that a child may have been abused or is at risk of being abused, call the" help line: 1-800-453-3860, ext. 1911 ("Responding to Abuse," LDS Church, 1.)

Spouse Abuse:

Men who abuse their wives are not worthy to hold the priesthood. When there is abuse in a marriage it violates the covenant to love and respect one's spouse.

"The scriptures declare, 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it' (Ephesians 5:25; see also D&C 121:34–36, 41–46). The prophets have taught that husbands and wives are to love one another and treat each other with respect and kindness" ("Responding to Abuse," LDS Church, 4.)

Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse is often less obvious because of the lack of yelling or physical violence but this abuse often continues to increase until it becomes physical and/or sexual. Emotional abuse includes name calling, control, demeaning statements, faultfinding, inappropriate rules, intimidation, isolation, manipulation, preventing closeness, sarcasm and put-down humor, tension, threats, unrighteous dominion, and withholding. I strongly recommend reading the following articles as they have helped me deal with my own emotional abuse:

Other Forms of Abuse:

There are other forms of abuse including the abuse of the elderly and the disabled. Mistreatment of the elderly and disabled may include:
  • Name calling, demeaning statements, and threats.
  • Slapping, shoving, shaking, confinement, and other acts of physical violence.
  • Isolation, neglect, or abandonment.
  • Misuse of finances or property.
  • Withholding medication or medical care.
  • Denying freedom of choice to those who are able to choose.
("Responding to Abuse," LDS Church, 5.)

Victims are Not Guilty of Sin:

Those who abuse others are responsible for their own behavior. Victims of abuse are not responsible for abuses received nor are they guilty of sin. If you or someone you know are being abused, you have the right and responsibility to protect yourself.

The LDS Church's policy "is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse or are cruel to their spouses, children, other family members, or anyone else violate the laws of God and man... the first responsibility of the Church is to help those who have been abused and to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse" (LDS Church Handbook, p 157.)

Seeking Assistance and Being Able to Forgive:

Abuse should not be tolerated or endured. Victims of abuse should seek assistance from God, family members, friends, LDS Church leaders, shelters, and/or legal and police assistance when necessary.

"Forgiveness does not require acceptance of abuse or acceptance of an abusive person. But when hurt has healed, when victims have realized that the abuse is not something they caused or deserved, when they have tried sincerely to understand the offender, and when they have prayed for charity and spiritual guidance, then peace of mind and true forgiveness will come" ("I Have a Question," [Scroll Down to "Am I in Error..."] Ensign, Jun 1994, 59–61.)

Healing from Abuse:

It will take time to heal from abuse, but it can be done! "The surest path to healing is through application of the teachings of Jesus Christ.... His love and the healing powers of the Atonement will ease [our] burdens and provide strength to overcome [our] adversities (see Matthew 11:29–30; 2 Corinthians 12:7–9; Mosiah 24:12–15; Jacob 4:10)" ("Responding to Abuse," LDS Church, 1.)

We should ask our Heavenly Father for his help with dealing with the affects of abuse. If we have faith, nothing doubting, we can receive of his healing power. (See James 1:6; Enos 1:15; Moroni 7:26; D&C 18:18).
If you (or someone you know) is suffering from abuse of any type, I strongly urge you to seek help and read the articles and resources linked here. Abuse is an evil tool of the adversary and violates the love of God. We can work to stop abuse by helping others know what abuse is and how to get help. (Also see the LDS Church's Gospel Topic on Abuse, at LDS.org.)

Also see the FAQ: Should Mormon Women Tolerate Abuse? to learn more.

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