June 23, 2017

Why Doesn’t The Church Talk About Domestic Abuse?

rrUPDATE: Check out: “Seven Reasons Women Stay In Abusive Relationships and How To Defeat Each One of Them” by John Shore.

From Kentucky.com, following a high profile murder that followed a high profile history of domestic abuse

The news reports of the recent death of Amanda Ross, allege that she was a victim of domestic violence. Based on statistics, it is likely domestic violence is happening across all faith communities in Kentucky. (According to the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, in 2007, over 4,000 Kentuckians were in shelters, including 2,313 women and 1,760 children.) Are faith communities adequately addressing the problem?

1. It’s an issue where women and children are the victims of men’s sins (primarily), so it’s an uphill battle right there.

2. Scripture deals with “love your wife as Christ loves the church,” and the application is obvious, but none of Paul’s sin lists or our favorite parables or stories contain a guy who slaps around his girlfriend or a man who beats his wife when he’s drunk.

3. What’s the payoff for the average pastor who brings this up? Counseling women and hearing embarrassing secrets. And then….divorces. We all know how evangelicals feel about those….or, at least most of them

4. Never has the church’s need to develop its own counseling resources with women specializing in helping women been more obvious.

5. Deal with this much, and someone in your church is either going to jail, or to a lawyer. Families will point fingers, phones will ring, emails will be sent and it will all be your fault.

6. You can be sure it’s going to hit very close to home. Maybe too close for a lot of church leaders. Lots of people are going to be wrong. Lots of people are going to be guilty and lots of people are going to admit some scary things. Who wants to go there?

7. Plenty of women and men prefer to hear about how submission will get you through any marriage problem, and they need for that to be right. It’s what they have been told and what they are telling other women. If someone says I’m leaving a man who is hitting me, then a whole lot of problems occur for some people’s version of submission. (I do not believe that is necessary, btw. I think that is a wrong emphasis on submission and a right emphasis is what’s needed. Mutual love in Christ.)

8. You have to talk about emotional abuse, and now the circle just got very, very, very wide. Are you sure you want the women talking about that one? Pastor? Pastor? Hello?

9. Sexual abuse? Religious abuse? Financial abuse? A lot of roads, all with similar dynamics. Let’s just say we don’t want feminists and liberals starting trouble. IOWs, Who are we empowering with this discussion? Uh-huh.

10. And, as everyone knows, we don’t have those kinds of problems. We’re Christians.

A big salute to those churches and pastors who are on the front lines and involved in this issue. They are real warriors for compassion, justice and reconciliation.

Comments

  1. To be fair, complementarians do take a hard stand against abuse. Check out Steven Tracy:

    http://www.mendingthesoul.org/2009/03/patriarchy-and-domestic-violence-challenging-common-misconceptions/

    However, that does not mean that “complementarianism” does not factor into the equation. It’s teachings, easy to distort in an abusive marriage, can be used to will a vindictive and violent hierarchy of authority and submission. For the church and its pastoral response, complementarian abusers are an embarassment to the cause. Complementarian pastors may be quick to administer church discipline, but this does not primarily take into the consideration the woman’s safety. It is often about punishing the abuser’s sin, which may just put the woman in more danger.

    Good complementarian pastors will heed the advice given by Tracy above and work with able ministers/counselors/social workers who can provide the necessary conditions for a safe exit of a terrible marriage.

    • Adam,
      It is good that some complementarians decry abuse. My observation has been that a healthy marriage is a healthy marriage, and in reality a healthy complementarian relationship looks and functions in pretty much an “egalitarian” way, where there is mutuality of love and grace from both partners as responsible, responsive adults.

      However, iIf one follows complementarian teaching to its logical end, women become some sort of “non-human” or different “type” of human being (even among those who will accept that women as well as men are made in the image of God- this is of course inconsistent, but consistency is not a hallmark of complementarian teaching). Can you see how this is a problem? Once any group is seen as “not-human”, misery is poised to become unleashed.

      Even in a relationship where a man wants to be kind, complementarian teaching makes him think he has to behave in certain ways. (You know of course, about the experimentation done where “normally decent” people apply electric shock to others because someone in authority told them to?) This includes ways that ultimately take moral agency and choice away from a woman, reducing her status to that of perpetual child at best, and slave at worst.

      Please think about this. In the effort to maintain faithfulness to scripture, complementarianism actually subverts what scripture is pointing to -a compassionate and loving God who went to unimaginable lengths to rescue his creation- by making God the author of rules for oppression (oppressing men as well as women). And it subverts the very reason why Jesus died, as an act of sacrificial self-giving for the redemption and reconciliation of everyone, to tear down dividing walls, by putting up all kinds of walls between men and women.

      Complementarian teaching alone is not responsible for domestic abuse; abuse certainly existed before this interpretation of scripture became systematized 50 or so years ago- coincidentally, at a time when what were viewed in the wider society as “traditional roles” were changing. Even though people in agrarian societies like the first century held to “traditional roles” of men and women, complementarianism as it is defined and taught today was not the teaching of the early church. In Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, arguably the most “traditional” of Christian expressions, any disparagement or depersonalization or abuse of a spouse is viewed as SIN and a matter for repentance and confession and restitution, not something that is endorsed by God. The complementarian interpretation of scripture makes the depersonalizing of women something that God supposedly endorses. It is held by many well-meaning, sincere people who want to do what God wants- but that doesn’t change the reality that it is false and harmful.

      Dana

      • “(You know of course, about the experimentation done where “normally decent” people apply electric shock to others because someone in authority told them to?)”

        That’s a very frightening experiment, and I have never thought about it in the context of religion before.

      • Thanks for your comments. You should know that I am an egalitarian, and have written extensively from a philosophical point on why I take that position: http://equalitypress.wordpress.com/

        I was only seeking to represent complementarians on their terms.

      • Dana, thanks for pointing out the “logical” implications of complementarianism.

        Now, if we could just figure out how to stop the Christian divorce rate that is the logical end of egalitarianism, we might make this whole thing work.

        Big thanks to Adam O for a little fairness.

        • Brian, in your 3-sentence post I see 2 digs and 1 blanket statement. I was going to ask you to elaborate, but then I changed my mind.

  2. I have no idea why Evangelicals don’t talk about domestic voilence. From my experience the subject of “sin” seems to be dominated by things that don’t reallt seem to do much damage, whilst the really obvious evil acts that people get up to hardly get a mention. I suggest some of the following reasons as pure speculative guesses:

    1a. Maybe the act is considered so serious that church communities cannot believe that anyone would be engaged in it (i.e. people really do think the best of each other). For example, when was the last time one heard a sermon speaking out against murder, or theft? It goes without saying that these things are ‘bad’ right? So why talk about it.
    1b. Coupled with the above, there is, perhaps an ignorance about how widespread deomestic abuse is.
    2. Perhaps it’s considered best left as a legal matter, not for churches to discuss, but rather a police issue?
    3. Fear of the the ‘D’ word – divorce. Personally, I think domestic violence breaks the marriage covenant anyways .. .
    4. Shame.

    I could pobably think of more. I suspect each community and each couple deals with this issue differently.

  3. Some do – our Pastor has said, more than once , over the years, in church services, that if any person is being abused, they need to do what ever it takes to get out of that – call the church, call the police, call social services.

  4. I mentioned at the end of the post that I salute those who do. And I know many who do, especially in inner city churches.

  5. Tom.

    I just want to say that I am with you on this. Women are no less sinners than men. The terms of abuse may be different but it does happen. I do think that women suffer uniquely from the teaching of submission, and it can be used as a terrible weapon to deprive a woman of basic human rights. However, I know men are abused as well, and it is perhaps more difficult to discuss the causes.

    • I want to second (or third) the advice given to NOT tell abused spouses to get into marriage counseling. Marriage counseling is for *two* healthy spouses going through typical problems. Someone who is abusive is NOT a healthy spouse. Marriage counseling often causes more problems (for the abused spouse) than it does help.

      Pastors, priests and church leaders,
      If you know of someone in a domestic abuse situation (whether it be physical, emotional, etc), encourage them to see a counselor all by themselves. The victim of the abuse needs some serious help pulling herself (or himself) back together again, because abuse goes DEEP into the psyche of a person, destroying them on so many different fronts.

      The abuser thinks differently from most people…this is why the systematic abuse exists. No “normal” counseling session is going to make the abuse stop. In fact, statistics speak rather dismally about the ability for abusers to recover. The thing that makes an abuser abusive is often very very deep, perhaps not fixable this side of heaven…

      This is why, when they say, “I’m sorry, now let me have another chance,” it’s 99.999999% of the time best to say, “I’m glad you are sorry. That means a lot to me. Thanks. But, no. There will be no more chances.”

      Just as a convicted child molester shouldn’t be babysitting children, an abusive spouse should not automatically be put back with his wife just because he said, “sorry.” Wives should not be counseled to ‘forgive and forget.’ They can forgive…if they want to, when they are ready to…but forgetting opens them back up to more abuse. Forgive, but maintain a very clear boundary line and do NOT forget.

      Zaccheaus, when he repented, went and gave back four times what he stole. When you see repentance like THAT, the kind of turning that involves SERIOUS restitution, then, maybe, just maybe, it might be okay to try again. But so often pastors and leaders hear the, “I’m sorry,” and think, “Awww…how sweet. It’s all better now. Let him back in, wife.” And if she doesn’t want to, doesn’t believe the “sorry” story, then the WIFE is told she has a hard heart and is the one in sin! This is a story that should be rare, but is sadly FAR too common!

      An excellent (secular) resource is “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. It is, hands-down, one of the most important reads for anyone involved in a situation of domestic abuse, whether going through it or wanting to help someone else.

      Assuming that the abuser thinks the same way that you think is often the most common mistake that pastors, leaders, and abused spouses make in trying to deal with an abusive situation. But, abusers don’t. Until we realize that, we can’t be much help.

      • I second the recommendation for the Bancroft book. It is an EXCELLENT resource, and one I have bought for others dealing with abusive relationships, as well as a couple of pastors I have helped counsel members in those situations.

      • “Assuming that the abuser thinks the same way that you think is often the most common mistake that pastors, leaders, and abused spouses make in trying to deal with an abusive situation.”

        Replace abuser with just person and you get why much advice from many folks is bad. Many people just don’t get that others do not think the same way they do. They just can’t comprehend the concept.

        • This is true, generally speaking. But the entitlement mentality of an abuser is a way of thinking that is inherently manipulative and dangerous.

  6. OK, here’s a weird question: I have a friend who was terribly abused in a bad marriage, and she got out of it, thank God. But I still see in her the characteristics that make her a good “victim” or “target.” Please don’t misunderstand me — the blame is on him 100 percent, WITHOUT QUESTION. But I feel bad for her — she doesn’t stand up for herself, she lets everyone else take the lead, in group discussions she’s quiet and never contributes. I wonder, what should I do as a friend? Anything? Nothing? I know God will do His work in her. Maybe it’s not up to me. But I know she wants to get married again, and I feel like she could fall right back into an abusive situation all over again.

    • I know it’s not a very glamorous answer, and it may not feel like you’re accomplishing anything, but I would say that consistent, genuine, positive reinforcement of her uniqueness and her beauty as a person is the best medicine a friend can give to a somebody playing the “victim” role.

      I know it seems like she doesn’t hear or accept those compliments and warm words/hugs. But she does. Over time it makes a difference.

      You’re probably already doing this, so I just want to encourage you to do it all the more, and trust God when he says our words have the power to heal. It just takes time, and waiting is hard, especially when we love them so much.

      cheers

    • I found with myself I had to deal with my own demons or I knew I would fall into that hole again. I’m not talking intimidate relationships completely – friendships, relatives, work, etc.

      Can you start by encouraging her to be more assertive? It won’t be easy for her, but she can take baby steps! I found those baby steps didn’t kill me! LOL! I actually found that WOW that didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would! It grew from there with a bit of encouragement from my friends!

      Funny how a bit of assertive nature help stop those from attempting to walk all over me!

    • I third the advice… I think that healing takes a long time, and relearning (or, often, learning for the very first time) how to have personal boundaries, how to have self-respect, etc, can be much more difficult after years of having your power taken from you, having your boundaries stepped all over, being told you are wrong for wanting to be treated with respect.

      I weirded myself out today, because I often feel SO much better now, by breaking down in tears while filling out a form for my local gym where I had to mention three outstanding qualities about myself.

      …I used to think I had way more than I probably had-lol… But as the years went by and the lies were constantly fed me, that confident young woman was broken down, word by word… I feel broken on the inside…better than I was a year ago…but still very much in pieces. The thing is, I’m actually very accomplished and talented…but my confidence is…so hard for me to find sometimes. I have to talk myself into REMEMBERING who I am, remembering that I can do ___, that I am capable and good at it….

      I think that recovery from abuse is something that takes years, not months, and certainly not days. The problem is that the bruises go away, but the lies sink down into the deepest parts of you. The lies are that something is fundamentally wrong with you, that you deserve the abuse, that it is for your own good… You don’t believe it right away, but eventually, and with the “help” from complementarian teaching that you are easily decieved and need to trust your “head” who speaks God’s will for your life as he makes decisions for you, you start believing it… After all, your abuser is so nice to everyone else… It must be all your fault somehow…

      I know it’s not my fault. I know that I am gifted and talented and that I once was a person who could do anything. It’s just that the part of me that really truly knew that was steadily beat down, not by fists, but by words and twisted theology.

      I am thankful for the Healer who is slowly helping put me together again… I just wish there was a magic button somewhere that I could push that would instantly cure me…but there isn’t. Just time…

      • Hannah and Molly, I think you are incredibly wise women. I admire you so much for all you’ve been through and all you are now 🙂 I know what it’s like to lack confidence. I used to be the doormat type myself. But it took years of learning in very hostile, difficult environments–environments where I learned to stand up for myself. So it was the difficult times that made me into the person I am today. But I see my friend in difficult times, like a moderately stressful job where she really does need to stand up for herself, and I almost get angry at her for wanting to take the “easy way out” (i.e., quit or be assigned to another building where things would be easier).

        Also, I believe God worked hugely in my life through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s especially important for those of us who tend to not trust our own feelings/thoughts because we’ve been told they’re “wrong.” If you can find a therapist who does DBT, DO IT!! It’s not a “Christian” program per se, but a lot of it mirrors biblical truth really closely.

        Also!!! To all women, I would recommend the book Loving God with All Your Mind — it teaches you to combat mental lies with biblical truth. So good!!

      • Time……….
        You are so right. There is no magic button. Not beyond true faith and belief God is there for you.
        And how difficult that can be to understand.
        God permits.
        God does not give a burden beyond what an individual can bear.
        God’s reward is not to be found here, today, but with Him after we are finished with this life as we know it now.
        The burdens we are given to bear are to teach us how to succeed and be then able to help another.
        I am not sure if there is a greater challenge we can face in our journey down life’s steps and paths than the above to understand and find peace in.
        And boy, does that take time to digest and apply.
        Tom

  7. Its heart warming to hear people talk about this. Its been silent for so many years.

    I had my own struggles with domestic violence, and the first step was the hardest. That step was owning what was happening in my life. When I wanted to own it I had plenty of people in line waiting to place doubt there. That made me so mad I silently walked away, and to be honest? I think they were glad I did! They certainly didn’t follow UP!

    I have been writing on this for a long time – lol although I don’t have your gift – I still feel that fire to do so. Recently had John Piper’s crew come at me when I criticized his stand on domestic violence. I figured if they can’t see the woman position in this – what about the children’s? They told me I need to basically study up on roles, and learn the word of God. Its strange how diversion is used to get OFF the subject, and back onto their focus. I don’t know how they live with themselves.

    I have to be honest at times I do wonder who is worse at NOT dealing with this subject. Men or Women? I had to admit women can be really nasty about the denial of this as well. They have their own diversion tools they use.

    When the church finally deal with this? I have a feeling after they get their butts sued off due to their rotten advice they give. Someone will get killed or hurt badly – documentation will be found – and I have this feeling another HUGE hit to Christianity in general will come next. The media will eat this up, and you will hear alot about, “This is another reason I refuse religion” or something along those lines.

    The church has an issue with ‘bring the darkness into the light’. I guess its not politically correct or something.

  8. Todd Erickson says:

    1. This falls squarely into whether a church has the right to intrude into the private life of an individual. Many churches would rather ignore people’s problems and avoid offending them and losing attendees.

    2. Rob Bell has an excellent chapter on this stuff in “Sex God”, which is all about submission, and how the man’s job is not only to submit, but to sacrifice, which isn’t just his work. I’ve found this to be an incredible teaching and witnessing tool, so far.

    3. We want marriage to exist in the “Should be” category of life, rather than “is”, and tend to regard it in a fairy tale, “last bastion of Christian existence” manner, when especially as practiced in modern culture, there is often very little of Christ likeness in it.

    It is, quite simply, far too easy and highly encouraged to get married, considering all of the misconceptions people have about it and their relationships with one another.

  9. If any of you are interested, you can go to the American Bar Association website at http://www.abanet.org/domviol/statistics.html and read the rather horrid statistics on spousal abuse in this country.

  10. Some people say, “Why doesn’t she (or he) just leave that creep?!” But the truth is that the time of leaving is most dangerous for the abused person. That is when they are not only apt to be severely abused, but killed. And the abuser can be threatening to kill other people (or pets) f the abused one leaves too. That is a heavy weight on a person.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And sometimes it isn’t just threatening.

      A couple weeks ago, we had a short epidemic of murder-suicides along those lines. Four or five in a row, over a week or two. Most were the usual “kill the runner, then yourself”, but I think one was a “husband kills kids and self” to make sure SHE didn’t get custody.

  11. Way up-thread (under “older comments,” 9/17, 9:03/9:46pm), one commenter told another: “you are reading the Bible like a lawyer.” Without explaining exactly what’s meant by the phrase, I propose that at least a lot (not all, by any means) of the reluctance among evangelicals to discuss domestic abuse is due to the fact that (many) evangelicals are very heavily invested in having the Bible *when read as a lawyer would read it* (though they wouldn’t put it that way) be the guide to Christian life, and they sense that such an approach will yield horrible results when applied to the issue of domestic abuse.

    • incidentally, none of that was meant as a slap at lawyers, or their way of reading. legal documents *should* be read as lawyers read them. the Bible, not so much, i think.

  12. If any readers want to see an even more extensive list of why victims (esp Christian victims) don’t disclose abuse and leave their abusers, check out my website on the Resources page. There is an article there called “Why didn’t you leave?”

    Like Danni (comment above) I’m a Christian victim-survivor. My site deals especially with what the Bible says about divorce for domestic abuse. Victims are telling me ‘the chains drop off’ as they read my book. There are mountain ranges of false guilt and fear around this issue. But the God of the Bible actually allows divorce for domestic abuse, and the church leaders MAY become a little less scared to address it if they know that the Bible does allow victims to divorce.

    But the desire not to upset the apple cart is a tremendous impediment to change.
    We need to keep talking about this and encouraging those who disclose, while condemning the head in the sand philosophy.

    • Barbara, that was a good article you pointed us to at:
      http://www.notunderbondage.com/free/WhyDidntYouLeave.html

      The summary of all those reasons said:

      *”The danger of leaving seemed greater than the danger of staying.
      *It was easier living with abuse than finding a way through the maze of safety.
      *The cost of resisting his demands appeared more damaging than the costs of capitulating to his demands.”

    • Barbara,

      Great to see you post here. I recently bought your book for a friend who had recently divorced because of among other reasons, abuse. Thanks for you work on this subject.

  13. Thank you, Michael, for posting on this subject. As a woman in ministry, formerly working in male-dominated financial fields, and then as a director for a shelter for battered women and abused children, I can testify from experience how destructive church leaders have been toward abused women. Too many women to count in my memory believe(d) the lie that if they only changed “something” (submitted better, cleaned better, etc., ad nauseum), their husband would stop yelling at them, demeaning them and hitting, spitting, slapping, raping and much, much worse. The women in our shelter would heal from their physical injuries, but as some of the women commenting here have noted, the psychological damage to their very persons was so extensive many would go back to the abuser, or move on into another relationship that turned abusive, too. Some gave up relationships with men, altogether.

    Healing takes a long time. We need pastors, church leaders and members of the Body of Christ to build up the image of God in each one of us; and that image of God – male and female – runs counter to so much that society and culture teach about male and female.

    Holistic reconciliation between God and humanity in Christ undoes the alienation between male and female. We need to hear and heed one another’s voices well. Just as men’s voices have been dominant for millenia, women’s voices also need to be heard by men. Yet, neither voice should be used to drown the other out, rather the Church should be the choir where all voices harmonize in worship to our Creator, by the power of the Spirit of Christ dwelling within each one of us in community.

    In Christ,
    Ann

  14. Last week in the sermon our pastor briefly mentioned husbands mistreating their wives. “Men, it has to stop!” he shouted. It wasn’t just something bad people out there did.

  15. Truth Seeker says:

    The problem we have is not the Complementarianism we see taught and modeled in the Bible or as advocated by CBMW. The problem we have is the fringe groups who have taken what God deemed to be good and corrupted it into an abuse model. Many posts I have read here are from victims of those extremist models. The VAST majoity of Complementarian churches and households are peaceful, content, and fulfilled. This described my marriage.

    Also, if we purport to treat this abuse as “perpetuated mainly by men” we are already buying into the lies put forth by the world. Abusers are NOT gender specific. It is a gender nuetral problem. Now, if you are saying that most REPORTED instances of abuse are from man-to-woman, then we have agreement. The fact is that men rarely report their abuse at the hands of women. There are many valid reasons for this …. use your common sense to figure it out.

    Unless the church separates from the world in this issue, we’ll never see an equitable and truly effective healing plan. Each case should be judged upon it’s own merits. Allegations of abuse do not always constitute ACTUAL abuse. False abuse allegations are lodged quite commonly, both in secular society and within the church. Each allegation should be proven to be factual. Many a good man’s reputation and integrity has been ruined due to false accusation. False accusatio is itself a favorite tool of the enemy. A church will rarely discipline a woman bringing such a false claim, because they will be seen as “anti-woman and uncaring patriarchs”.

    There are ALWAYS two sides to the issue. The wise counselor or pastor knows this and must, with the Holy Spirit’s help, discern truth from fantasy. Judge actual, proven abuse vs. false accusation.

    We are to be mindful of Prov. 18:17.

    The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.

    • Right….so you’re saying that CBMW’s Bruce Ware, who says that some husbands “have” to abuse their wives because the wives aren’t submissive enough (sure, he said that husband was wrong for abusing her, but that it was the wife’s fault for starting it by opposing the husband’s will in the first place), or John Piper, who recently chuckled about wives dealing with abuse, saying that perhaps she might have to endure abuse for a season in order to glorify God, maybe get “slapped a bit,” but should not go to police but should instead go to the church for help….

      You’re saying that those CBMW men are giving GOOD advice and it’s a “fringe group” that’s twisting things?

      I’m sure there are some lousy fringe groups, but I think CBMW, with it’s teachings that original sin was likely the fact that a woman failed to ask her husbands permission before acting, with their admonition to women that, being feminine, they are innately going to rebel against their male leader and therefore should be careful about trusting themselves if they have any thoughts that go against their husband/king’s authority over them, with it’s teachings that “getting slapped a bit” isn’t that big of a deal, with it’s teachings that women are secondary image-bearers (“seperate but equal,” anyone?)….can anyone really say that CBMW doesn’t have any part in helping male abusers get away with what they are doing…?

      The fringe groups are bad news, yeah, but for wives married to abusive men, CBMW is bad news too.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Right….so you’re saying that CBMW’s Bruce Ware, who says that some husbands “have” to abuse their wives because the wives aren’t submissive enough…

        Sounds like another Win-Win situation for a wife-beater.

        Never mind that an abuser is more likely to abuse (and be more abusive) to someone who utterly submits. Weakness invites abuse, not respect.

  16. I have an article on my site called “Why Didn’t You Leave?”.
    It gives even more reasons why victims don’t leave abusive relationships.

    If anyone wants to check it out click on my name above and then go to my Resources page.

    cheers
    Barbara

    • Truth Seeker says:

      I posted this on another thread within this blog. I think it is also pertinent to this thread.

      “Getting back to the theme of the deliberate mischaracterization of biblical patriarchy. Here is a quote I ran across on another forum. I think it states very clearly the attitude I see from some of the posters on these “abuse” threads …..

      “I marvel at the way statistically valid things are constantly dismissed on forums usually by women raising the exception to the rule. Exceptions do not negate rules. If YOU ARE the exception, then why does the rule trouble you so? ”

      Now, I would think that those legitimately abused folks would be grateful that there is the VAST majority of people who do NOT suffer their abuse ….. and that they would seek to be in that type of healthy relationship themselves. Especially those divorced people who so desperately want to remarry and be in a healthy environment. I find it personally VERY disheartening to see some of these “abused” people lash out at those in good relationships. Is it simple jealousy? Is it coveting? Is it because they are so damaged that everything is so jaded so that EVERY man is an “abuser” and EVERY church should be looked at suspiciously as being possibly “abusive?”

      There is always a hint of desperation in those so vehemently opposed to biblical patriarchy. Why are they so insistent on imposing the exception onto the rule???

      Points to ponder, huh?”

  17. Thank you for this post on such an important topic; I get a lot out of both the post and comments.

    You list a lot of reasons why we frequently do not deal with this subject in church. I can see how they exist in varying degrees in most churches.

    Yes I believe actually mentioning things about it from the pulpit is good. I also believe that it’s just as important to create a healthy environment as a local body where these issues can be brought to light. There are some things that I think help to create this kind of environment: To have safe, available, known/pointed out people, who others can approach with various issues who are able to connect the approacher with resources (no one can be the one to help everyone on every issue but we can develop networks for people). To have as part of these networks people who have experienced various life situations and now can come along side others (you know, the whole 2 Corinthians 1:4 thing) and specialists/professionals that can be of help. To have a leadership that is committed to God working through them to love people no matter what the outcomes; a leadership that is willing to let go and let God do His work.

  18. I remember when I went to a wedding ceremony for my then wife’s cousin. The minister gave a great talk about marriage of equals where both are giving and receiving. Then when he said “Till death do us part” he added, “This does not mean that the marriage should be a death sentence for either party. It is a goal that takes effort to reach, constant work and help from inside both parties equally and the community to reach.” My wife hauled me out of the place and pushed me into the car, she could not get away fast enough. Nearly two years later was my decision, divorce or death, I almost chose death wasting away of an illness in a hospital, but turned away at the last moment and began fighting to live again. I never knew who the minister was, or what church, I am not even sure of the town, though I might be able to drive there and find out, I think I still remember the way. My wife ruled over our marriage, I was always in trouble, always being punished for doing something wrong. I finally stopped caring about doing things right hoping one of those days the punishments would be my last (the hard way).