I am tired. I am tired of hearing and reading story after story about people who don’t believe that someone in their church community could be an abuser/batterer. I talk to women on an almost daily basis, who were/are maligned, accused and even brought before church discipline because they dared to reach out to their church community for help in dealing with abuse in their home.
Most of the reasons people refuse to believe the victim are as a direct result of being uneducated about abuse and that leaves them vulnerable to the charms and hoodwinking of the abuser. They see him as an upstanding Christian who never gets angry. A person who is a spiritual leader in their church. Someone who holds a position of great authority in their work. The conclusion, then is that the victim must be lying! Why? Well, here is a common reason; “Because she is rarely involved in ministry. She doesn’t even come to the women’s ministry very often. She seems moody and unhappy. She is withdrawn and not nearly as charismatic as her partner. He has also mentioned her mental illness and her propensity toward addiction. How can we trust her? If she were being abused, she would have shown us by now! We’ve never seen him get mad. She doesn’t have marks on her that haven’t been explained. NO! He is the upstanding Christian, she did something and now she’s trying to cover her tracks.”
The church also, falsely teaches and believes that God esteems the marriage contract more then he esteems the people in the marriage. They misquote bible verses such as Mal. 2:16. They insist that she submit more. Pray more. Stop doing whatever she is doing to make him mad. Basically, they put the entire blame and the responsibility to ‘fix’ the problem on her. The consequence is that they are playing right into the abusers game! He has been telling her for years that she is the fault, the problem. He has been blaming her for everything and getting out of personal responsibility and expects that others will back him up in it.
Many churches believe and teach that abuse is a sin issue. I had a pastor once liken abuse to smoking. He maintained that abuse is a sin toward the body and can be healed by repentance. I was shocked. WHAT? Domestic abuse is a crime and should not be tolerated, encouraged, over looked or excused by the church and its members in any way! The fall out of viewing it as a sin, rather then a crime, is that victims are then pressured to forgive their abuser and reconcile with them. Thus putting them back into harms way and not holding the abuser responsible for true repentance and real change.
In essence, by supporting the batterer and blaming the victim, the church is supporting domestic abuse….BUT by supporting the victim and requiring accountability from the abuser, the church reflects the Gospel and changes the world.
By misquoting and regurgitating wrong translations of bible verses regarding divorce and female submission, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by researching and learning the truth about those verses, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By insisting that domestic abuse is a ‘sin’ issue instead of a crime, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by identifying abuse by its true nature and calling it out as unacceptable, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By teaching that Patriarchy is mandated by God and is God’s plan for family structure, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by teaching Biblical equality for men and women as reflected in the scriptures, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By instructing families to deal ‘quietly’ with allegations of abuse, the church silences its most vulnerable victims and supports domestic abuse…BUT by breaking the bonds of silence that protect violence the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By insisting that the victim must forgive and reconcile, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by refusing to accept anything but true repentance and identifying what real repentance looks like, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By teaching that the only reason to physically remove yourself from a marriage is because of physical abuse, the church supports emotional, verbal, financial and spiritual domestic abuse…BUT by understanding and educating our people about all types of abuse and understanding none of it is acceptable in the eyes of God, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By telling women that they can redeem their husband, that they are responsible by their submission, for his salvation, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by holding abusers responsible for their actions and holding them accountable for their own acceptance of salvation the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By instructing, falsely, that a Christian wife is supposed to ‘suffer for God’s sake’ and her ‘cross to bear’ is her persecution, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by sharing that suffering is for the sake of Christ and gospel does not include domestic abuse because our homes are supposed to reflect the safety and love of Christ, the church lives the gospel and changes the world.
By doing nothing to support the victim and everything to defend the abuser, the church is supporting domestic abuse…BUT by putting into place safe methods, models and expectations of the church that will support the victim and hold the abuser to account the church rlives the gospel and changes the world.
Does your belief system support the abuser rather then the victim? It can be really hard to open your heart and mind to the life changing power of the gospel. It is disrupting to allow the Holy Spirit room to change your system of belief about divorce and abuse. It is life changing, life sustaining and will move you into a deeper, stronger walk with Jesus. You will learn how to reflect Christ and stand against the untruths that are filtering into the church.
I long for the day when I am no longer emotional tired fighting for the safety of God’s women and children. I long for the day when abusers will be held accountable according to Gods word and the victims, the vulnerable, the beaten down and fatherless will surrounded with support and kindness. I pray for a revolution in our church! A longing for the truth rather then the popular drivel. I pray that God’s people will rise up in social revolution and defend the defenseless with the Love of Christ which cannot help but discern for them the real stories of abuse among us. Only when we choose to change, choose to fight for the freedom of the helpless, choose to look deeply at our own preconceived religious messages that have been handed down to us through generations and dissect them according to the gospel, will we be able to effect change up on our culture, cut down the divorce rate in our homes and ensure safety for families.