Let Abusers Reap What They Sow
I recently saw a blog outlining a Pastor’s response to an abuse victim’s request for help. His response infuriated me! I am sure my blood pressure went up about 20 points. Today I would like to share the original request for help, the pastor’s response, and my response to him. Here is the original letter:
You’ll never believe the terrible state of my marriage. I was raised in a Christian family. My father and mother never fought. I wasn’t rebellious as a teen and my husband and I went through all the “proper” courtship process before getting married. Now, five years later, everything has fallen apart.
Roy, my husband, who was so loving and kind in the beginning has become rude, surly, and angry all the time. The good thing is that he doesn’t hit me or the children (one boy and two girls), but he gets really quiet and spends a lot of time in the basement. Every once in a while, he does blow up and wowser, what a blow-up. He curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names and throws things. We never know when he’s going to blow and what is going to cause it. We’re all walking on egg shells all the time.
Can you fix him? Can you help us?
Hurt & Confused
You can read this pastor’s response to her here. I will summarize it for you, (with a little commentary from me in red). He first acknowledged she was in a difficult situation. OK. Then he shared that God is always with us during our trials. Yep. Then he told her to look at her own actions to make sure she was not adding to the problem. OK, I can accept that. No one wants to make matters worse than they already are. He then told her that if her husband is asking her to do something against God’s word, she should follow God, rather than her husband. Very true. He recommends she become more like Jesus. OK, I can even accept that one. Next, he suggests she might be having so much trouble accepting her husband’s behavior because she was so prideful. Um, NO! I’m sorry, but having lived with an abuser for years, I know:
the victim’s pride is not the issue. The issue is the abuser’s pride!
Anyone who is treated with abuse by the person who is supposed to love, honor and protect them will have a problem accepting the abusive behavior! The pastor then shares that God loves her and holds her in high esteem. Great. Finally, he suggests that if she behaves more respectfully, God will use her good behavior to change her husband. NO!! This is categorically untrue!
The more loving an abuse victim treats his/her abuser, the worse the abuser will behave.
I follow a female Christian counselor named Leslie Vernick. While I don’t always agree with her on issues of abuse, I did like her response to this pastor. Here is Leslie’s response: I Disagree with the Advice to Simply Try Harder .
I also responded to the pastor’s initial blog. Sadly, he didn’t post Leslie’s or my comments. I guess he didn’t like what we had to say.
This is what I wrote in response to the pastor’s blog:
While I appreciate your sentiments, there is one type of husband who does not become a better man when his wife acts more respectfully. This type of man is called an abuser. This type of man has an incredible sense of entitlement. When his wife (who he sees only as his property, not as a person) accepts his poor behavior, and indeed, gives him more and more respect no matter how disrespectfully he behaves, he thinks, “Well, that is my due.” This person will then treat her even more harshly, because after all, it is working for him. The worse he behaves the better he is treated.
This goes against God’s teaching in Galatians 6:7:
“Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Instead, his wife would have more success instituting the Matthew 18 (verses 15-17) process with her husband, (helping him reap what he sows). In this process, she first talks about his sin to him alone. No doubt this poor woman has done this hundreds of times. Next, we are told to tell it to two or three others, so they can hold him accountable. If that doesn’t work, lastly, we are to bring the sin before the church. This is what this person has done by writing to you. But instead of encouraging her to hold him accountable, you tell her to ignore his sin, and (in essence) increase it by submitting to it.
I would love to see the church rise up and hold abusers accountable. I believe if the church did that, there would be less divorce, and fewer children growing up in abusive homes, so that there would be less abuse in coming generations. This is my fervent prayer.
I am sorry this pastor refused to post the comments of those who respectfully disagree with him. I have outlined the Matthew 18 process in the following blog, called “Holding Your Abuser Accountable.”
Educating pastors and those in church leadership is a great passion of mine. Since many abuse victims will turn to their church for help first, educating pastors on the dynamics of domestic violence is one of the best ways we can help victims. I know the intense pain of seeking help from my church, and receiving no help. If you have experienced this, and would like a quick, easy way to help your pastor learn about domestic violence, you might like to check out my Domestic Violence Guide for Churches. This Guide includes two 25-minute PowerPoint videos, and an accompanying 38-page written guide. In less than an hour, your pastor can begin to understand what an abuse victim experiences, and how best to help her/him.
If you have experienced the pain of asking your church for help, and did not receive it, or worse, were shamed and told to “pray” and “submit,” I am so sorry. Please know that while not all Christians will help you, God is here for you. In Hebrews 13:5, He says:
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
And in Ezekiel 34:16, God says:
I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Question: Have you ever asked your church or pastor for help with domestic violence? What was your experience?
Please help us help the Church become educated about domestic violence. And, give us the opportunity to help other abuse victims discern whether they are being abused, and help get them to safety. Amen
Many blessings to you my friends!