Before October Goes

abuseBefore the month of October goes, I’d like to just say a few words about it being Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Spousal abuse is real and far too little is said in the church about it. What is said, like a piece I read recently by a Southern Baptist pastor, places the blame for violence on unsubmissive women. (It was Eve’s fault…sound familiar?)

Men are violent to their wives and men to their girlfriends because they are badly damaged individuals. These kind of men must dominate and control. They don’t want a partner or spouse, they want a woman to serve their desires and whims no matter what it does to the other person. They are sick people in need of repentance. Until they do, their victims must find help.

No man has the right to lay a hand on a woman to abuse or intimidate her. Those who use Christianity to justify it know nothing about Christ. Churches that allow men to continue in this sin and do not take action to protect women and children are complicit with the abuser. That’s not a church, friends, that’s a cult. Run for your life if you’re in such a place.

Abuse is not limited to the physical variety. In a lot of Christian homes, husbands use their mouths to control and batter their wives minds and emotions. One woman I know suffers from something like the Stockholm Syndrome where the captive begins identifying with the captor.

“Oh, he didn’t really mean it when he said I was worse than dog vomit. He’s under a lot of stress. I don’t want to make an issue of it with the pastor. If I say anything, my husband keeps my money for groceries and then I have problems,” she says.

That’s not a marriage, that’s a jail cell with the jail warden playing Christian on Sunday as he carries his big Bible in to the service.

If you are in an abusive relationship, get counseling. Please know that you may have to go against some of the people in your life who have a warped view of Christian marriage and separation/divorce. Nowhere in Scripture are women given permission to enable a man to continue to sin. In the case of physical abuse, the man who is abusing is breaking state law. ¬†When you let him abuse you, you’re helping him be a law-breaker. Secondly, we are told in the Bible that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Since when is a man allowed to batter that temple?

When you are in an abusive relationship, your children are listening and watching and learning. You are training your sons and daughters that women should be knocked around, screamed at abusively and otherwise battered. That’s quite a message. The contempt shown for you will become their contempt if you do not remove yourself and your children from such a situation.

I once heard a man at a Bible study talk about the effects his father’s abuse of his mother had on him. His last memory of her was in their basement by the coal bin, his mother hunkered down in the corner as his father hurled chunks of coal at her. The father encouraged his sons to do the same. The mother soon after was institutionalized and the boy never saw his mother again. Abuse leaves a horrific legacy in the lives of those who observe and experience it. You are fully on biblical ground, sister, to get out and find help if you are in this situation.

Today I learned that a women’s shelter in the metro area of Milwaukee has shortages of certain things. They have immediate needs for a number of items. I thought about how I could help them. Then I thought, oh, but if I advertise for a non-Christian facility, Christians will complain about that. My response is, where are the explicitly¬†Christian shelters, then? Where are the job training centers to help these mothers like the one that this shelter has? Where are the Christian churches reaching out to these hurting women caught in a cycle of abuse and often poverty as well? Until and unless churches want to make a difference for these women, I am grateful for those who do.

When you are all alone, afraid of the man in your life, and your little ones are traumatized because Mama is scared, these shelters are there. They provide a roof over the heads of these women and help them start a new life away from violence. Three cheers and a salute today to the Women’s Center of Waukesha. I hope that their needs are met for the sake of these women and children.