I am truly disheartening at the number of women who have shared stories, including my own, with pastors who, in one way or another, advised them to stick with their abusive husbands: to be more submissive, to pray more, etc.
So I started thinking about the fact that so many women having such similar stories. If it had not happened to me, I would have a real difficulty believing that any one of these pastors, would ever condone domestic violence. Especially, since these are Godly men, who teach anointed sermons. Who have continually blessed me through their ministries.
And yet here we are with all these women sharing the exact same thing happened with their pastor. And I know those women are not lying, or somehow mistaken about what happened to them. Because it happened to me!
What I wish these pastors understood is how brave these women are when they finally come forward. How scary it is to finally tell our secrets, secrets we have hid for years. And that when a woman is writing/telling the real raw truth of their lives, their words take on an integrity that even the most accomplished fiction writers struggle to write. There could be no doubting the truth of these women’s stories.
Just this week, I wrote a pastor that dismissed my allegations, to clarify now that I come from a position of strength and healing as opposed to the weak woman asking for help. Warning him he has a man capable of hurting women a sociopath in his congregation, and asked why he never confronted him when he was clearly in sin. Even if he had doubts of my accusations, wouldn’t you want to investigate.
But how? How could these good, loving, Godly, well-intentioned men give advice that’s so manifestly, egregiously, cruelly wrong?
Is it because to a Godly man Domestic violence is fundamentally unbelievable. Like all true evil, domestic violence is basically incomprehensible. Most people find it simply inconceivable that any man would systematically victimize his own wife and children.
So, maybe, it’s easy for pastors to, in fact, fail to imagine it. When faced with a woman saying that her husband is abusing her, pastors must sometimes immediately and even instinctively assume that in some fundamental way the woman must be mistaken. Especially, when every interaction he has had with her husband has been positive. They can even seem charming, loving, and care deeply about the unsaved in the world.
What I think pastors are missing is the fact that these men are master manipulators.
For example, my husband was the friendliest, most sincere, open, warm, kind, generous person I had ever met. That was the very thing I was drawn to. But, wife abusers are sociopaths. They can talk the stink off a skunk. And guess who’s at the top of the list of people the abuser is determined to fool? Exactly: The family pastor. Who is very much inclined to love and trust people. Most pastors don’t stand a chance against a perpetrator of domestic violence.
Or could it be that a lot of pastors hold to the traditional Biblical definition of the proper relation between a husband and wife. Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”) But I hardly think that from that pastors typically think that it’s acceptable for husbands to abuse their wives. Most pastors know that the rest of that passage from Ephesians enjoins husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … .” I think it’s safe to say that pastors get that it’s wrong for a husband to beat or otherwise abuse his wife and kids. But I also think that not enough pastors have spent the time thinking about the broad, fuzzy line between biblical submission and repugnant victimization.
I think Pastors need to face and acknowledge this truth. They need to take case-by-case responsibility for drawing a clear line of demarcation between the kind of “submission” they and the church has traditionally understood as healthy, and the kind of submission everyone knows is unhealthy.
Pastors believe in the power of Christ to heal, to bring new life, to reclaim, to save, to resurrect. They believe that through the community of church God radically and permanently transforms people’s lives. They believe in the enduring, righteous strength of marriage and family.
Pastors are not in the business of divorce; they don’t recommend the shattering of a family unit. They believe not in dissolution, but resolution. And really God Bless them. So am I, but there is a time when it is necessary, if the man is not repentant.
Let’s face it Domestic violence is simply not a subject present on pastors radar. so a pastor faced with a domestic violence problem is likely to counsel patience, forbearance, and the discernment of the will of God. Each man is just doing what he knows. And in so doing each, of course, creates pain.
It’s not enough for us to simply desire that our pastors do a better job of handling issues of domestic violence. We must also help them to understand and obtain the training necessary for doing so.
So, although I failed to get the help, I so desired from my church, I will not turn my back on God. I will continue to educate and support women in crisis. I also, learned that all churches are not devoid of the knowledge of domestic violence. There are many churches with great support groups for women in crisis.
Remember, It is impossible with our limited knowledge to see all God is doing to convict your husband and bring him to repentance. You might not see evidence of his conviction for years. That doesn’t mean God isn’t pursuing him. Remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not your own.
Also, remember although it isn’t fair what has happened to you with your pastor, God hasn’t disappointed you; man has! God is the one constant in your life. If anything wasn’t fair it was piercing the hands and feet of the totally innocent God-man for your vile sins. If need be, Repent of your bitterness toward God. Ask Him to give you a right perspective of His love for you.
This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God wants to do a work in you. He doesn’t want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him, and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.
God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance, no matter if your situation never changes this side of heaven, God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.