For a long time I’ve wanted to write something to my readers discussing the issue of abuse. It seems as though the time is right. Proceed with caution though…this is a bit of a soap box for me so you have been warned.
When I was a teenager, I lived in the Midwest and attended an independent Baptist church. I made several friends there and still have relationships with them today. I had a good friend I got together with several times and even spent the night at her house. A couple of years after we moved from this area it came to light that her dad had molested her and her sister for several years. I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t. The part I find so unbelievable is that the mother never uttered a word to anyone. Isn’t she responsible for her kids?
Now this church took swift action to remove him from fellowship with the church and the authorities dealt harshly with him. Justice was done at church and in the courts as well.
I’m haunted to this day by that story. It’s always in the back of my mind “are there women being abused around me and no one knows?” Could I be at their house one minute and the minute I leave abuse begins again? This week another story from within the fundamental Baptist realm and it just shook me to the core. Again a girl is abused and the mother seems to do nothing to protect her child. How many other stories are there? Why does this happen?
The problems as I see it.
Part of the problem is some of the teaching on being a good wife is off balance. Women are constantly chided to submit, but rarely if ever do I hear someone talk openly and honestly about abuse. This leaves women who are dealing with abuse conflicted. Should they stay and be submissive (pleasing God) or leave and be shamed by their church (displeasing God)? It should not be an either/or proposition. There can be submissive women who simply cannot stay in an abusive relationship to protect themselves and their children.
We need church leaders to stand up for these families, pursue justice with them, and encourage them to heal by the grace of God. Shame and guilt should not be a part of the equation for these women. The hope and grace of God should be the driving force.
Young girls who are molested, raped, or sexually abused are not at fault. No matter how much they are made to believe they are partially responsible. No matter how often they are told that they could have done something differently.
An example of this type of erroneous teaching I have heard is Bathsheba. I’ve heard more than once that she initiated David’s sin because she was taking a bath outside. She caused him to lust. The Bible doesn’t say that. She was taking a bath where it was customary for people to bathe. David was responsible for his eyes. David should have been busy with the battles he started. David was the king and he abused his power by taking another man’s wife. God judged him because of his sin.
God also deals harshly with rapists in the Bible. In both familiar cases, Dinah and Tamar, the men who perpetrated these heinous acts were served equally heinous punishment. These women are in no way implicated as being part of the problem.
Women: Take a stand.
Women need to stand up when abuse takes place. Mothers you need to take responsibility for your children. If someone, man or woman, is abusing your child you need to leave the situation and report it so the abuse doesn’t continue with someone else’s child.
As women we are responsible for their actions independent of our husbands. Think about Sapphira. She followed in her husband’s lie and was instantly killed. She had the chance to speak truth but instead did the same evil as her husband. She was held personally responsible for what she had done. She was not given a pass for being submissive to her husband in his sin.
The Biblical model for personal, Spirit-led thinking.
Esther stood up to her husband for the entire Jewish race. Her husband was a king and yet through God’s help and grace she did not sit idly by and watch her husband annihilate her people. God blessed her for that and used her in a mighty way.
Mothers, I’m speaking to you right now. You need to be the Esther in your family’s life. God has put you in a family and he expects you to protect that family. Your husband might claim Christ but if he is abusing you or your children pray for God’s help and get out of the situation. No matter how poorly you might be treated at your church. Do not allow your fear of what man thinks keep you from obeying God’s voice in your own heart. No matter how popular the pastor might seem. If he makes you feel as though your husband’s abuse is your “cross to bear” or that you are somehow responsible find a different church.
Trust the Spirit of God to lead you. It might seem difficult but His leading is right.
Some will say “she just doesn’t understand” or “she’s a liberal”. So be it. I refuse to sit by and watch this type of situation play out over and over again.