“It wasn’t all that bad – it could have been worse.”
I’m tired…so very tired.
Not tired of body, but tired in soul.
There is something troubling my heart that I have to speak, have to get out in front of those who call themselves “the Redeemed”.
For a great many years, I have been counseling survivors of abuse. Almost all of these survivors have come from within the church. And we are talking about hundreds upon hundreds!
Of late, there has been an ever-increasing number of women seeking help for what I can only describe as domestic oppression.
This isn’t new, by any means. But the heavy influx of women and children in need of freedom from oppression that falls just short of violence has been astonishing.
This isn’t a category of abuse you will find in any state codified list. It isn’t a category you will find in most self-help or counselor-advice books. Yet, it is one of the most prevalent forms of abuse experienced by wives, little girls, and little boys in the church!
And I am sick and tired of it!
Pastors: Get your Bibles opened and look up the 80+ references to oppression there and get God’s attitude about it, will you please?
And will you start teaching about it, looking for it, intervening when it rears its ugly head, and provide a safe place for the ladies and little ones to find escape?
If a woman comes to you and talks about how angry her husband gets, PAY ATTENTION!! This is her way of initiating conversation about the oppression she lives under and she NEEDS YOU TO LISTEN!! Take this seriously: do NOT minimize or deny what she is telling you. This is especially true if the man is any kind of “leader” in your church.
Also, get your men together and let them know that no man of God worthy of the name oppresses, dominates, controls, or terrifies his family. That is the job of the Devil, not those whom God has placed as servant-leaders within these families. Get them help if they need it, and keep them accountable – God will ask you about this one day, pastor, so be ready.
Men: Get on your knees, get your Bible open, and prayerfully saturate on Psalm 15. Allow the Holy Spirit to perform a spiritual MRI on your heart and soul, bringing the truth to the surface. Get it into the light, get it confessed, repent of it, and then start bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.
And remember: You will have an exit interview one day; and you will be asked about your treatment of your family.
Ladies: If you are in a church that teaches you are to subject yourself and your children to domination and control as Biblical leadership, ESCAPE!
You are being lied to and your church is creating the environment where abuse comes alive and thrives. Pray for God to deliver you and your children from the oppression He hates – He will do it. Grab hold of Deuteronomy 31:8 and make it your “Anchor Verse” as you walk into freedom and life.
Church: Get educated about abuse, talk about the reality and prevalence of it, and stop acting as if there is neutral ground when it comes to abuse – there isn’t. You side with either the abused or the abuser: there IS no middle ground.
Be open to opening your home to those among you who are being oppressed or exploited. In so doing, you are partnered with Jesus Himself who “came to set the captives free”.
Remember: The “law of Christ” is for us to love one another, just as He has loved us. Galatians 6:2 reminds us that we are to, “bear one another’s burdens [lift up from underneath],and thus FULFILL the law of Christ”. This is our duty, our call, our lifeblood.
If this has disturbed you, good!
If this has angered you, I have to wonder why.
If this has motivated you to become better informed and equipped, then I am proud of you (and so is God).
My prayer is that this post will cause movement toward God’s original design for the Church to be the safe-haven and place of rescue Christ Himself is.
One of the best resources you can get your hands on about abuse in general is Mending the Soul, by Dr. Steven R. Tracy. Steve is a theology professor, former pastor, and he collaborates with his wife Celestia around the world bringing hope and healing to survivors of some of the worst forms of abuse imaginable.
For an understanding about domestic oppressors and their motivations, I recommend Why Does He Do That?, by Dr. Lundy Bancroft. Though not a believer, Dr. Bancroft is considered the leading authority on the minds and motives of men who oppress and abuse.
For an understanding of why people stay trapped in these situations, believing they cannot escape, I recommend The Betrayal Bond, by Dr. Patrick J. Carnes. Dr. Carnes. Despite a heavy saturation with worldly psychology and recovery models, Dr. Carnes has provided a very helpful tool for those who want to understand how people become entombed in abuse and unable to escape.