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Why Do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives - Final Part
Question: Dear Sir, my husband is a lay leader in a popular church in the Bahamas. We have been married for more than fifteen years and for the past five years he has become very abusive. He was first emotionally abusive, then physically abusive after he was chosen to serve in an outstanding church position. The church members do not believe that he is abusive because he is so "nice" and popular. The members often make me feel that I am the problem. Why do Christian men abuse their wives? Need help.
Answer: Previously, in part I and II of the answer to this question, I said that Christian men abuse their wives because they are allowed by society to do so. Men are not held accountable for their behavior. I also mentioned that another reason Christian men abuse their partners is that of a miss understanding and misuse of scripture.
There are at least fifteen kinds of abuse. The obvious ones are physical, emotional, verbal, child and sexual abuse. Those that we do not talk much about are: economic abuse - trying to keep the wife from getting or keeping a job, taking her money, denying her from having a say in how the money will be spent, making her ask for money; using male privilege - treating her like a servant, telling her what to do, acting like the "King of the castle"; intimidation - threatening gestures, actions, destroying property, making her fearful; isolation - controlling what she does, who she sees, talks to, and where she goes; elder abuse - children abusing their parents; ritualistic abuse - torture--beating, electrical shock, etc, engaging in ritualistic sexual acts, brainwashing against society, authority, etc. As mentioned is a previous article, the abuse that is most prevalent in our country and that one that is not talk about is RELIGIOUS ABUSE.
Let me share with you a story from the book Battered in Submission by James & Phyllis Alsdurf to illustrate the meaning of religious abuse. "Alice was only eight years old when she was sexually abused by her brother in an attic. Forty years later as she talked about that incident and the many which followed, she spoke through tears. "I passed out and when I came to I was lying like I was hung on a cross. I carried that burden myself, thinking it was my fault because of what I heard at church. The church was so powerful. The little girls sat down in front practically beneath the pulpit and the pastor always talked about hell, fire and brimstone, about harlots and adulterers. It always was the woman’s fault. I wished then that I’d been born a boy. They seemed to be favored. They had a chance to do to high school. I didn’t. My folks had insurance policies for my brothers, but not for the girls. Five weeks after marriage, her husband’s emotional and sexual abusiveness started. "Being in control was important to him. He would make comments about needing to break me like a horse." He didn’t want his family to think he wasn’t in control.
Alice blames the bulk of her husband’s problem on the strict religious environment in which both were raised. "It caused the problem in the first place. There was no expressing of emotions, especially for men. The church gave him the right to do everything he did. All we ever heard was that a woman has to be submissive. It never taught the next thing, that the husband is to love his wife as his own body. I never heard those verses in church. I didn’t even know they were in the Bible until I read them at home myself."
The following text often misused on Christian wives by their Christian husbands or enthusiastic pastors: Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife." Headship here dose not mean lordship, or rulership. It is exhibiting Christ lifestyle of gentleness, nurturing, compassion, caring, and empathy. Interestingly, we often call these feminine characteristics. Matthew 5:38, 39 "Turn the other cheek." This does not mean passivity for of the wife. In essence it is compassion and a willingness to live peaceably with all men. Ephesians 5:33 "The wife see that she reverence her husband." 1 Corinthians 7:4 "The wife hath not power over her own body . . ." 1 Timothy 2:11 "Let the woman learn silence with all subjection." Ephesians 5:24 "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in EVERYTHING." Ephesians 5:22 "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands." There are many more texts, but I think you got the idea.
The best way to explain these passages is by having a clear understanding of another Biblical passage found in 1 Corinthians 13, called the love passage of the Bible. If we are truly motivated by the right understanding of this text, then all others will fall into place. "Love is patient, kind, gentle. It is not rude, rough and crud." But when a well meaning, popular, "spirit-filled" pastor constantly talks about "submitting yourself to your husband," and not submit yourself to one another, the Biblical message is skewed. There is too much preaching about submission. There is too much preaching about headship. We need more emphasis on mutual submission. Then, and only then love will reign supreme, not power and control. Submission is not a requirement for developing relationships, it cannot be demanded or forced. Submission is a RESPONSE to nurture, care and love. Thus submission beget submission.
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Permission is granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your personal use, friends, seminar, or meeting handout. You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary. Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form. Or you call at 242-323 8772. Copyright © 1999 Sounds of Encouragement. All rights reserved. Articles written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist, Marriage & Family Therapist. P.O. Box N-896, Nassau, Bahamas. This Web page last modified: May 02, 2005 . firstname.lastname@example.org