Friday, April 4, 2014

Abused Wives: An Open Letter To Pastors

Dear Pastors Of The Church, 

I know you've been there… you've likely faced a married woman before you upset, frustrated, hurt and maybe teary that she is being abused by her husband. Whether it's emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse we know it's wrong. As you sit there in your big swivel chair leaning back studying her with possible reproach…  these thoughts might cross your mind…

Well, she must surely be mistaken. Maybe he's a little "controlling", sure… but he's surely not abusive. I mean, let's give him the benefit of the doubt here. Or maybe you think… well, there are always two sides to every story. Pastor, you're absolutely right. Yes, there may very well be two sides to every story… one is called the truth and the other is called the lies. We know every man who abuses his wife and children no matter what type of abuse he engages in or multitude of them… he will also be known as a grand manipulator to those closet to him within the walls of the family home. He will be a man of outward friendliness, of cheerful banter to those outside his family… he's the man who strikes up a cheery conversation with the school PTA mothers, with the receptionist at the children's dentist office and makes sure his delightful laugh at his children's silly antics or victorious roar for his son's soccer kick is heard by those around him… he gains supply from seeing their beaming smiles at him… inside it assures him that yes, yes, THEY all see him as the doting, caring father he wishes to be seen as in the community. It leads everyone to believe that he is the healthy one, the one who is not the issue, the one who deeply cares for his wife and children and yet… it's all a facade. It's a pack of lies he has cunningly created to sell himself as someone he is so the opposite of behind closed doors. Sociopaths, abusers, manipulators… all one in the same… they aren't very smart… no, their strength is they are cunning and there is a marked difference between the two.

By now you, dear Pastor, are likely thinking she just needs to "calm down", maybe see a psychologist or her family doctor… maybe she's high strung, maybe she's anxious, maybe she's this or that… you wrongly predict. Maybe you partly want to blame her for her problem because in your mind she must not be submitting to her husband. If he's cheating she must not be giving him sex at all or often enough. If he's hitting her, maybe she's driving him to it by picking fights… if she's being gaslighted perhaps she's exaggerating. If she's in a marriage that is less than healthy it may be natural for you to further place blame on her by asking if she's prayed for her husband and her marriage. Maybe you believe that because the bible states a wife should submit to her husband that includes submitting to a fault where she's in danger and is living a miserable life submerged in unhealthy toxicity as her children watch in equal horror, suffering as much as she is. Maybe you believe that if she's being cheated on she should hold tight to her marriage and husband, to keep praying and hope he will turn to God and away from his sin… even at the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease in the interim… a disease that could potentially kill her.

Pastor, you may believe that through the power of Christ that a wife's marriage can be saved despite her husband beating her… leaving bruises and marks on the Lord's own daughter's body… and yet to her very detriment you won't tell her to leave her husband. You won't tell her what she needs to do… run and not look back. You won't tell her that if he truly wants help he will seek it from God and walk that path separate from her so she's safe in the interim… you won't tell her that if he's serious about change he will do it and not make any more excuses or apologies but instead… he will take responsibility for his actions and how they've hurt her and their children. You won't advise divorce and yet you make her feel guilty for considering it… when she's the victim not him. He's a bully, a stunted little boy in a man's overbearing body that steps on ladybugs and beats butterflies… he's an emotionally crippled little boy who needs a verbal lashing from you and yet you wouldn't dare go there…

And yet she's counting on you. She's counting on you to pull through for her. She's counting on you for  intervention, moral support and encouragement. And yet… you will likely fail her. You will sit back in your big leather swivel chair and stare at her expectantly wondering just what she expects you to do… you advise her to pray more, pray harder, to submit more, to be kinder… you advise her to speak softly and try her best to please him…

You're sending her to her death… 

Because if he doesn't kill her she may very well want to kill herself.

Wake up, Pastors of the world…

Please start acknowledging domestic abuse for what it really is…


Because if you don't do that…

You're being incredibly Unhelpful.

The church like her husband becomes the enemy not her refuge.

And she has to lean on God all on her own…

When she finally leaves her husband bearing bruises and scars…

All in the toxic, twisted name of submitted love.

© ~ 2014 

Ephesians 5:22-33

New International Version (NIV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word,27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b]32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

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