Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Domestic Abuse in the Lord's House

5 comments Posted by Hannah at 11:19 AM


The words still ring in my ears. "There is violence in My house," the Voice said. Having emerged not long before from an abusive relationship, I was all too aware of the prevalence of domestic violence in society. I had been counseled at an agency that called itself The Abused Persons Program and whose sole mission was to assist those whose lives are being devastated by domestic violence. I attended both individual and group counseling for two years. One of the women with whom I weekly shared my struggles and my fears was shot dead by her estranged husband outside the door of her apartment. I was under no delusions about the frequency and rate of domestic violence in the world, but I had no idea that the problem was as severe and in some ways worse in the church. The image of loving, Christian men raising a fist to their wives was so incongruent to me, but by faith, I began offering a support group in my home for women in the church who were experiencing domestic violence. At my first meeting, one woman attended. Then two. The group grew to between 8 and 10 people, attending weekly, from my little neighborhood church. Truly there is violence in the Lord's house.

The Bible regularly deplores violence and abuse, especially of those weaker and in less of a position to defend themselves. The state in which a battered woman lives her life can be accurately described as a state of oppression. Biblically, an oppressed person is one who is crushed, injured, afflicted. To oppress someone means to press upon, defraud, violate, deceive, drink up, (use) and to do violence (wrong). Other meanings include cracking in pieces, literally or figuratively. To break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, and struggle together. These words paint an accurate picture of what happens to the victim of abuse. So, while many think the Bible is virtually silent on the topic of domestic violence, it isn't. In fact, it has much to say.

One pivotal Scripture verse is found in Malachi 2:13-16: And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, inasmuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. In these verses, the Lord, speaking through the prophet Malachi, is condemning the Israelites for domestic abuse. He plainly states that this was not why He ordained marriage, that women were not to be treated in this fashion, that their prayers weren't even being heard because of their violence against their wives. Unfortunately, many churches simply focus on verse 16, "God hates divorce," and then alienates it from the context, thereby using it as a club against women who are being abused and who seek safety through divorce. The traditional teachings regarding wifely submission, divorce, as well as the role of women within marriage in the traditional Christian home actually conspire with the abuser to sabotage many women's health and well-being. Most abused women find little sympathy or support within the church after sharing their secret shame with others. Many pastors counsel women in these situations to change their ways, presuming that there must be something the victim is doing to provoke her husband to violence against her. Women in traditional churches are taught to believe that they can change a man through prayer and submission.

1 Pet 3:1 says: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [behavior] of the wives" and many Christians take this verse on face value. Women who are being regularly beaten are being put in the position of thinking that their husband's walk with God is their responsibility and that if they remove themselves from harm, they will be responsible for their husbands going to hell or falling into sin because their behavior wasn't convincing enough. First of all, the language in 1Peter 3:1 speaks of unbelieving husbands, not those who claim to be Christians. In the giving of household instructions, as was very common in those days from leaders of various organizations, Peter addresses the various relationships in which power and control often determine the course of the relationship. First, in 2:13, Peter says to submit to governmental authorities. There was often strife between governors and those whom they governed, and such contention often stood in the way of sharing the Gospel. It is also assumed that the governing authorities are not believers. The thrust of these passages is how one can, within relationships with unbelievers, share Christ. Governing authorities were more likely to listen to the rational words of people who were peaceful and law-abiding. Secondly, Peter recommends servants to submit to their masters so that the masters, assumed to be unbelievers because slavery was not approved of for Christians, could see the Christlikeness of the Christian servants and be swayed by their actions. Likewise, Peter recommends that women who are married to unbelieving husbands do the same so as to be a witness for the Gospel. He goes on to speak to husbands, I believe of unbelieving women, for that would fit in context and because he speaks to them reminding them that they are "heirs together of the grace of life," of zoe, which is mere vitality, not pneuma, which is the rational and immortal soul. Peter is saying that they have the gift of a life together here on this earth and that the husbands need to respect that life as God-given. Peter tells husbands to dwell with their unbelieving wives in understanding, giving honor, value, and dignity to them, as unto the "weaker vessel." Weaker here is comparable to the usage of the word in 1 Corinthians 8:9 where Paul is discussing the spiritually weaker brethren and the care which the stronger brethren ought to give so as not to stumble them. Therefore, I believe Peter is referring not to the physical attributes of women but to the spiritual state of an unbelieving wife who is married to a believing husband. Therefore, arguing that an abused woman ought to stay in close quarters with an abusive mate, whether he be a Christian or not, is taking 1Peter 3:1 out of context. Peter is clearly talking about how interpersonal relationships can serve as contexts for great witnessing potential and he is not speaking of particularly dangerous situations in which the victim, by her very presence, lends a hand to sin.

Studies and research has shown that submissive behavior of battered wives might in itself provoke more violence. Most traditionalist Christians believe that the primary responsibility for a good marriage relationship lies with the wife and her submissiveness to her husband. Christian pastors promise that God will take care of women who thus submit if there is any abuse, that God will honor their obedience. But the experiences of battered women are in sharp contrast to these misguided and, I believe erroneous assumptions about God and His Word. Traditionalist Christians need to reexamine the teachings of Jesus regarding authority and the exercise of power. In Mark 10:22-42 Jesus looks at the preconceived notions of male power and dominance and then He counters with: "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." Paul, likewise, combats the patria potestas or absolute male power philosophy of the ancient Gentiles with his insistence that Christian men, having agape love through his identification and relationship with Jesus, are motivated to freely sacrifice themselves for the sakes of their wives. James Alsdurf and Phyllis Alsdurf sum up this dynamic succinctly in their inspired work, Battered Into Submission (1989 InterVarsity Press): "To stress wifely submission in a vacuum devoid of husbandly love can result in a disregard for a woman's report of violence and place the woman and her children in great physical danger. Ultimately, it can perpetuate the cycle of violence. When the painful circumstances of battered women are ignored in order to elevate a legalistic standard, it produces people unable to 'rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn' (Romans 12:15)"

Studies also indicate that this traditional view may be one of the factors involved in creating an environment for abuse. The rate of wife beating in couples where the husband dominated was found in a study by sociologist Kersti Yllo to be 300 percent greater than for egalitarian couples. The conclusion of the analysis was "regardless of context, violence against wives is lower among couples where there is a relative equality in decision-making...In general, domination of decision making by husbands is associated with the highest levels of violence against wives." Other studies have found similar results, that the majority of battering of wives occurs in homes where the husband holds the reins of power.

Critics would argue that that is merely an indication of our fallen flesh, that God's word couldn't be at fault. I would agree that God's Word is not at fault, but that we have not taken advantage of the whole counsel of Scripture, that we have traditionally favored certain verses over others, especially where male power and headship is reinforced. I believe strongly that the fault lies in us, not in the Scriptures, and a thorough and balanced reading with as few preconceived notions and biases as humanly possible will render a different result, a more egalitarian result where power is more equally distributed and shared mutually among members of the church and between husbands and wives.

The Bible speaks loudly and clearly on the subject of abuse and its root causes. It also speaks of God's heart concerning the abused. Psalm 9:9 says, "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble." The Lord is compassionate and merciful and leans toward those who have no help but Him. He desires to be a refuge, a safe place, for those who find themselves broken, crushed, and taken apart piece by piece. God severely speaks against those who abuse their power and who use it selfishly and to hurt others. He never advises anyone to participate in that abuse. In fact, He goes farther and tells us to intervene, to "hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death" (Psalm 102:20) The Bible also bears strong words about what God will do to the abuser, the oppressors who wield their power in a harmful and unworthy manner: Psalm 72:43 says, "He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor" and Proverbs 14:31 states, "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor." Interestingly, in that verse, the word used for poor doesn't indicate financial circumstances but instead speaks of dangling, being weak or thin and comes from a word meaning to be oppressed. Abuse incites God's anger like nothing else and gives Him cause for wrath. Psalm 12:5 says, "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him." And may it be so, for every woman and her children suffering under the yoke of domestic oppression and family violence that this blessing of Scripture be given unto her:

In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. (Isaiah 54:14)


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WINGS: A Place For Healing From Abuse

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Video I found on Abuse and Faith

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 4:34 AM

Its Called Silent Suffering and Shame

Women's Ministries

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bible Verses for Faith in Times of Stress

1 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:15 AM

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:6,8)

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10)

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:1,3-5)

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7-8)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10b)

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his son is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42: 5,8)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. (Psalm 91:14-16)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid. (Psalm 112: 1a, 7-8a)

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved. (Psalm 127:1-2)

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. (Psalm 138:3)

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145: 18-19)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Fear of others will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)

Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26: 3-4)

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress. (Jeremiah 16:19)

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)

See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-31)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 31b, 35, 37-39)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4: 12-13)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5-6)

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6)

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith. . . . And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5: 7-10)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4: 18-19)

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:13a,14)

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10b)

You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. (Job 11:16)

By his light I walked through darkness. (Job 29:3)

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. (Psalm 34:17-19)

Trust in the Lord and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:3-7a)

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou has given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. (Psalm 71:3; KJV)

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. (Psalm 71:20)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5,7)

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.” You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:1-2,5-6,9-12)

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:7-9)

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. (Psalm 118:17-18)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. (Psalm 119:28)

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. (Psalm 138:7)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:7,9-12,23-24)

My eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. (Psalm 141:8)

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24)

Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. (Isaiah 26:12)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4-5)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. (Isaiah 66:13a)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” delares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded. (Jeremiah 31:16)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)

For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. (Lamentations 3:31-32)

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. (Micah 7:8)

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Your father knows what you need before you ask him. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:8b,25,31-34)

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:4-5,7,10)

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20)

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

For we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again. (2 Corinthians 1:8b-10a)

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:3)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15a)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. (2 Timothy 4:18)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

Let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)

Scripture references are to NIV and NRSV.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What is a Covenant?

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 4:53 PM

The word "covenant" is defined as "a compact" which is an agreement between two or more parties. In our case, we mean a marriage covenant. Within the very meaning of the name "covenant" lies the essential fact that there are conditions to a covenant. A "covenant" is made up of conditions (terms of agreement) which each party has agreed to uphold, otherwise, there is no covenant. Covenants are legal documents or verbal agreements whereby oaths of faithfulness are expressed between two or more parties. A covenant carries legal authority in which all parties are constrained (obligated) by the conditions of the covenant. It is always conditional upon each of the parties involved to fulfill their part of the covenant. There is no such thing as an "unconditional" covenant. "Unconditional" means no conditions or that anything goes. This in itself would negate the very use of the word covenant. However, there is such a thing as a conditional covenant becoming a "permanent" covenant after all of the conditions of the covenant have been fulfilled.

Establishing a covenant is different than fulfilling a covenant. Establishing a covenant is the successful agreement of the parties involved regarding the terms and conditions of the covenant. Fulfilling the covenant is the actual carrying-out of that agreement.

Because a covenant depends upon each party fulfilling their agreed-upon part, it carries the legal authority that conditions must be met by all parties or the covenant is broken.When a covenant is broken without seeking remedy for reconciliation and restitution or both, the covenant obligations cease and the agreement is terminated. In the case of the marriage covenant when there is a divorce, there is actually an additional covenant which comes into play resulting from the children who are born within the marriage covenant. This additional covenant (the covenant between the children and the parents), continues despite the ended marriage covenant.

God Makes Conditional Covenants

Unconditional marriage covenants did not start with God, but with man by His church teaching (tradition) that a marriage covenant is indissolvable. Even when God first created man in the Garden of Eden, He made a conditional covenant with them. To enable the man and woman to prove their love to Him, God put a tree in the midst of the Garden called: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God's only command to them was for them not to eat of this specific tree. Everything else in the world was theirs; otherwise, they would start dying both spiritually and physically. This was their proof of loyalty and love to God because of the awesome responsibility and authority He had given them over the entire universe. You cannot have true love unless you have the option not to love.

Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." The keeping of the commandments (the conditions) of the covenant is the way we show God that we love Him. Without the keeping of the commandments of the covenant, there is NO display of commitment (love) to God. We have broken covenant! His justice requires us to e ither make restitution and/or reconciliation or else we break our relationship totally with God.

God only operates upon truth. Therefore, if it appears that God is not doing His part in our life it is because WE are not fulfilling our part of the covenant. Covenants are conditional.

One of the conditional covenants that God made is one that almost everyone in the world is familiar with, the covenant with the condition of circumcision. In Genesis 17:10, 14 the Lord said to Abraham, "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised."Then in verse 14 the Lord gave Abraham the penalty for not fulfilling the condition of the covenant: "And the uncircumcised male child, WHO IS NOT CIRCUMCISED in the flesh of his foreskin, that person SHALL BE CUT OFF from his people; HE HAS BROKEN MY COVENANT."

Another example of God's covenants is the one He made with Israel: "Now therefore, IF you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, THEN you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine" (Exodus 19:5). When a covenant has to do with man, a covenant is always conditional if it is to be a covenant. God does not make unconditional or unbreakable covenants with fallible sinful man. However, He does turn a conditional covenant into a permanent covenant when all of the conditions of the covenant have been met. This can be seen in the case of the covenant God made with Abraham. The covenant was actually made with Abraham's Seed to come, Jesus. After Jesus fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the covenant (which included living a sinless life, taking the penalty for man's sins upon Himself in hell, and being rightfully raised from the dead forever incorruptible), God turned it into a permanent covenant. (See Galatians 3:16 and Hebrews 1:8-9).

Because God knows our sinfulness, He does not make unconditional or unbreakable covenants with man. Therefore, who are we as sinful man, to even consider that the covenants we make with each other (in this case, marriage), are indissolvable or unbreakable because of unsurpassing violations by the other party? Covenants are conditional; that is why they are called "covenants" because they contain provisions to protect the party of the agreement who do not violate the covenant.

Marriage Covenants

Unconditional, Defined

The very word "unconditional" means without conditions. In other words, it does not matter how many violations of the marriage covenant that a partner makes, the covenant is still intact. The word "unconditional" is a contradiction of the word "covenant." If a marriage covenant did not have conditions it would be like saying that one partner can abuse the other, or a spouse can have sex or play around with anyone outside of the marriage and always feel welcomed back into a safe, secure and happy relationship. This is too ridicules to even consider! Nevertheless, this is exactly what has been taught by the church in saying that a marriage is indissolvable! Because it has been taught as truth that "God hates divorce," it is implied that marriage covenants are unconditional and unbreakable and that NO violations of the terms of agreement will affect the covenant because there are NO conditions! To imply that a marriage covenant has no conditions is a corruption of the marriage institution itself! Whenever the conditions of the covenant have been violated, broken or not met, there is a breech of contractand the covenant agreement was not fulfilled as agreed upon. Therefore, restitution, reconciliation and/or dissolving of the marriage covenant is sought. Covenants always stand upon the foundation of justice, truth and love rooted in morality.

Marriage covenants Sacred? YES! Permanent? No!

Only in two places in Scripture is marriagedefined aspermanent and indissolvable. They are in Deuteronomy 22:13-30 where God has actually REMOVED the right to divorce; not allowing the violating spouseto dissolve the marriage covenant. This means that when needed, the right to divorce (the dissolving of the marriage covenant) has always been there. In these cases that right was abused, so God revoked it for the sake of the woman.

The first instance was when the husband claimed that his new wife was not a virgin, when in fact, she was proved to be so. Because the husband brought a bad name upon her, "...He cannot divorce her all his days" (Deuteronomy 22:19). The other case was when a man had sex with a virgin single woman. He must pay support money (the dowry of a bride) to her family, and by having sex with her he has taken her as his wife and "...[Was not] permitted to divorce her all his days" (Deuteronomy 22:29). But "if her father utterly refuses to give her to him [the marriage would be cancelled and father and daughter would keep the dowry]" (Exodus 22:16).

These are the only two cases where the covenant of marriage was NOT allowed to be dissolved. God removed the man's rights to dissolve the marriage in this case because he violated the woman without marrying her which was a greater violation. God forbad it to protect the woman so she would always be supported during her life. However, the wife still had the right to divorce her husband even though her husband could not divorce his wife. The right to divorce has always existed in the case of a marriage covenant being violated; however, in these cases, that right was lost. Thus, God recognizes that covenants are conditional.

Vows: Conditions of the Marriage Covenant

The vows of a marriage are the conditions of the covenant set forth before the marriage takes place. The marriage ceremony is the "place of agreement" where each partner takes a solemn oath to uphold the terms and conditions of the marriage covenant to which both parties have agreed. The "living together in a marriage union" is the environment in which the agreed-upon conditions of the covenant is carried out by both parties. Marriage IS a lifetime commitment; however, it is not a lifetime commitment without conditions. The ability to keep one’s promise to “love” (keeping the marriage vows) is rooted in godly character. (See articles on The Extreme Significance of The Fruit of The Spirit and God's ("Unconditional") Love: It's Moral Its Conditional.

Because the marriage covenant has been taught to be unconditional and unbreakable, it is powerfully inferred that there is no violation that can qualify for the covenant to be dissolved except in several far-reaching cases. Vows have come to mean nothing.

Let me give an example of an unconditional one-sided covenant agreement. It is your wedding day and you exchange vows with your beloved. The man says, "I take my wife, to have as I wish and to abuse if she does not listen, to meet all my needs, to hurt her as often as I desire because she is now my wife and cannot escape. I own her. I can have sex with anyone I desire and do as I please in complete disregard to her feelings." The wife says, "I take my dear husband to have and to hold, to cherish and to love, in sickness and disease, for better and for worse, always seeking ways to strengthen and grow our relationship till death do us part." NOBODY would ever consider such a vow; however, this is exactly what is taking place when the conditions of the marriage covenant are taught as being unconditional.

Covenant is Relationship

Covenant is relationship! "Relationship" in its very definition carries the fact that there is mutual caring andmoral obligations between each party, and the fulfilling of needs within each other.Simply because there is a relationship, they are in covenant.

Covenants are protected by the covenant partners. This results in a covenant that has conditions and can be violated. The covenant partners are to protect their covenant from those outside the covenant, namely, those who have not been invited to be a part of their relationship. In the case of marriage, it would be any person outside the marriage because that person does not have exclusive rights to sharing the depths of each others emotions, bodily contact and sexual enjoyment.

How the Devil Used the Errors of the Marriage Covenant Being "Unconditional"

The devil was able to spin a web of lies and deceit which drove couples away from the original marriage covenant because of the errors taught by God's church. Of course the church did not decide to teach error; rather, the truth has been lost through time.

Let me explain. I believe that because the truths of marriage, divorce, remarriage, submission and covenant have been lost through time, it gave the devil a powerful opportunity to actually use the errors that are being taught as truth within the church to enslave many of God's people in bad marriages. His church, the very people of God, who have been given the awesome responsibility to uphold these truths have become the very taskmasters enslaving God's people by ignorantly upholding the devil's agenda.

Somewhere down through history well-intended translators of the Bible have adopted these errors as truth. I believe some were done purposely to fit their desires, but most were probably through ignorance. Because the famous Scripture of Malachi 2:16 has been translated and taught as "God hates divorce" instead of its real meaning of "God hates a separation (to marry another person without getting divorced first)," the devil was able to convince us that marriage covenants are unconditional. If he could get the church to believe that marriage covenants are unconditional, he could use the church itself as a prison camp to enslave God's people thereby disabling them from fulfilling the calling of God on their lives because of fear, guilt and shame. Sadly, He has accomplished his mission, to a great extent.

The devil was also able to tie together the wrong translation and teachings of "God hates divorce" to the church teaching that there are no valid claims in which one can divorce (because marriage is taught to be an unconditional covenant). This has propagated the message that the marriage vows (the conditions of the marriage covenant), are useless and invalid, thus binding the victim of the violation into an indissolvable relationship.

As sin and lukewarmness have been escalating within society and particularly the church, more and more people have been making wrong decisions regarding which mate they choose, many times resulting in going off into very bad marriages and sin. Because of the great marital problems this has created, it has caused marriage to be viewed as a failing institution.

Thus, the devil has in many ways been successful in presenting God's institution of marriage to be a failure. Not only is it a failure but the devil makes it into a prison where a person is united in an unconditional, indissolvable covenant relationship with another person who can abuse them at will and they have no way out while the church leadership is ignorantly poised as the devil’s prison wardens. Because marriage is being now presented more like a prison than as a loving relationship, many have disregarded the original marriage structure, not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to safeguard their hearts in case of relationship violations. In other words, they have enacted their own covenant-relationship safeguards because the church has taken theirs away through ignorance and deception. The church can recapture the institution of marriage and again elevate it to its proper place and thereby pulling many from the fire; however, the restoration of these lost truths by God's leadership must come first. The church must acknowledge its failure in the teaching the errors regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. In behalf of God's leadership, I ask you for forgiveness. Please pray for us! Stephen Gola.

(All Scriptures taken from the King James Version Bible or the New King James version.)


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Charles Crismier questions is your domestic violence situation REALLY dangerous??

3 comments Posted by Hannah at 12:26 PM

Attorney/Author/Pastor Charles Crismier aired a third broadcast on his national radio show Viewpoint entitled
REMARRIAGE, ADULTERY AND HOPE on his website, and his comments about domestic violence are just awful!
You can listen here uploaded to internet archieve, and this is part ONE of Marriage, Divorce and Hope

I was listening today to a link that someone posted about Marriage, Divorce and Re-marriage. I will agree with some of his points, but here is a person that I am sure thinks he is helping…but is actually enabling people to sin! I mean here is what he had to say about abusive relationships… It starts about 23 minutes into the program.

If you are in a Physically Abusive situation… AND…Make sure it truly IS a physically abusive…DANGEROUS!!! I mean really DANGEROUS!! Not just what you call “emotionally” dangerous…REALLY, TRULY DANGEROUS! I don’t think Jesus expects you to sit in that relationship and in the presence of that DANGERGOUS person until that “thing” can be dealt with! But that doesn’t mean that you have the opportunity to go and divorce the person! There is a difference between not continually exposing yourself in the physical proximity of the person until they are dealt with and DIVORCING THEM! You don’t have to divorce them to get out of their presence! DO YOU?? No. And if we are told to forgive than we MUST continually leave ourselves open to RECONILE! In fact what we are called is ministers of reconciliation aren’t we?? That is our VERY ministry! And where does that begin? In our marriages!

LOL he goes on to compare that to his own marriage when his wife told him she didn't love him anymore. They of course worked things out. His regular martial issues can't be compared to those dealing with domestic abuse!

Why speak on the subject when you clearly know nothing about the dynamnics. I was outraged! The link today is to his website. The bible does not say we are to continually reconcile ourselves with a dangerous person! You can forgive them without having that portion! Another problem? Normally people aren't going to deal with that THING that is committing domestic abuse. Do you have to divorce? I guess in not all circumstances, but at times it is out of safety issues more than trying to sin.

If he can't grasp the dynamics of an abusive personality he needs to stop speaking about it! Emotional abuse and verbal abuse can be just as dangerous, and it can lead into the aspect of domestic violence he is speaking of! The part that struck me was no real concentration on healing either party of this abusive marriage! Just forgive and reconcile! Can you say BLECK??!!!! To me this is a form of religious abuse when people don't understand things, and decide to make up their own minds. I'm sure in this sermon he felt he addressed domestic violence or domestic abuse, but he clearly never really address violence against women in any true form. I think he would give even more dangerous advice to men sadly!

I don't have a problem with repenting and forgiveness. He skates very close to telling people to divorce their present spouse to go back to the abusive one. He tells a caller that he is be truly repentive of his adultreous act, and do what God would call him to do. He addresses the same towards the abusive spouse. He just wanted to make use it was DANGEROUS enough!

The Pastor continued with part two, and she spoke of the women at the well. The part that confused me is he stated Jesus didn't condemn her, but told her GO and SIN NO MORE! I have checked a couple of versions of the bible, and in NO version did I see him saying ANYTHING close to that! He said that to the woman that was going to be stoned, but not the woman at the well! She was so convicted by what he said she went running to get the whole neighborhood. She turned from her ways, because he condemned her lovingly!

Joh 4:7 A woman of Samaria came to get water, and Jesus said to her, Give me some water.
Joh 4:8 For his disciples had gone to the town to get food.
Joh 4:9 The woman of Samaria said to him, Why do you, a Jew, make a request for water to me, a woman of Samaria? She said this because Jews have nothing to do with the people of Samaria.
Joh 4:10 In answer Jesus said, If you had knowledge of what God gives freely and who it is who says to you, Give me water, you would make your prayer to him, and he would give you living water.
Joh 4:11 The woman said to him, Sir, you have no vessel and the fountain is deep; from where will you get the living water?
Joh 4:12 Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the fountain and took the water of it himself, with his children and his cattle?
Joh 4:13 Jesus said to her, Everyone who takes this water will be in need of it again:
Joh 4:14 But whoever takes the water I give him will never be in need of drink again; for the water I give him will become in him a fountain of eternal life.
Joh 4:15 The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be in need again of drink and will not have to come all this way for it.
Joh 4:16 Jesus said to her, Go, get your husband and come back here with him.
Joh 4:17 In answer, the woman said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have said rightly, I have no husband:
Joh 4:18 You have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband: that was truly said.
Joh 4:19 The woman said to him, Sir, I see that you are a prophet.
Joh 4:20 Our fathers gave worship on this mountain, but you Jews say that the right place for worship is in Jerusalem.
Joh 4:21 Jesus said to her, Woman, take my word for this; the time is coming when you will not give worship to the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.
Joh 4:22 You give worship, but without knowledge of what you are worshipping: we give worship to what we have knowledge of: for salvation comes from the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the time is coming, and is even now here, when the true worshippers will give worship to the Father in the true way of the spirit, for these are the worshippers desired by the Father.
Joh 4:24 God is Spirit: then let his worshippers give him worship in the true way of the spirit.
Joh 4:25 The woman said to him, I am certain that the Messiah, who is named Christ, is coming; when he comes he will make all things clear to us.
Joh 4:26 Jesus said to her, I, who am talking to you, am he.
Joh 4:27 At that point the disciples came back, and they were surprised to see him talking to a woman; but not one of them said to him, What is your purpose? or, Why are you talking to her?
Joh 4:28 Then the woman put down her water-pot and went into the town, and said to the people,
Joh 4:29 Come and see a man who has been talking to me of everything I ever did! Is it possible that this is the Christ?
Joh 4:30 So they went out of the town and came to him.
Joh 4:31 While this was taking place, the disciples were saying to Jesus, Master, take some food.
Joh 4:32 But he said to them, I have food of which you have no knowledge.
Joh 4:33 So the disciples said one to another, Did anyone give him food?
Joh 4:34 Jesus said, My food is to do the pleasure of him who sent me and to make his work complete.
Joh 4:35 You would say, Four months from now is the time of the grain-cutting. Take a look, I say to you, at the fields; they are even now white for cutting.
Joh 4:36 He who does the cutting now has his reward; he is getting together fruit for eternal life, so that he who did the planting and he who gets in the grain may have joy together.
Joh 4:37 In this the saying is a true one, One does the planting, and another gets in the grain.
Joh 4:38 I sent you to get in grain which you had no hand in planting: other men did that work, and you take the reward.
Joh 4:39 Now a number of the people of that town had faith in him because of the woman's witness: He has been talking to me of everything I ever did.
Joh 4:40 So when the people came to him they made request to him to be among them for a time, and he was there two days.
Joh 4:41 And a great number more of them came to have faith in him because of what he himself said.
Joh 4:42 And they said to the woman, Now we have faith, but not because of your story: we ourselves have given ear to his words, and we are certain that he is truly the Saviour of the world.
Joh 4:43 And after the two days he went on from there into Galilee.

He spoke of a letter from a women that was so convicted that she left her present marriage, and divorced because of a prior marriage. She will stay single for the rest of her days out of obeying the word of God. How he placed her story in a special spot on his website. That website is, and I'm not going to link to it. I don't agree with alot of their teachings there.

He spoke of another letter he received from a man that was abandoned by his wife for another man it sounds like. His wife committed adultery it was clear. He had been single for a long time, and told him according to his teaching he will never be allowed to have a intimate relationship again. His time is done. To bad for him. The pastor mocks him pretty much, and told him that it was NOT his teaching but the bible's teaching. He claims he wasn't making fun of him, and then calls him a liar for claiming he never read this in the bible. Told the audience that he must say this, because otherwise his children and grandchildren will sent to eternal damnation. So now again - our place in heaven depends on our family members before us? I thought it was dependent on our own actions!

Twists at the end a statement about domestic violence comment when a women stated that if you are being beaten RUN to a shelter! He mocked her and told his audience she was telling the women it was okay to remarry. I don't know HOW he got that out of what was said. It was interesting Mr. Crismier at times, and you may have come points....but you clearly are way off in others!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Inland Church enlists Clergy

1 comments Posted by Hannah at 10:50 AM

11:43 PM PST on Saturday, March 5, 2005 * By BETTYE WELLS MILLER / The Press-Enterprise

Although domestic violence is no stranger to those who gather in churches, mosques and synagogues, it is a subject seldom broached by clergy or lay leaders.

That is beginning to change.

Most mainline Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church have adopted policies in the last decade that advise clergy how to respond to parishioners seeking help. Some evangelical Christians and Jewish and Muslim women's groups are organizing conferences and training programs.

Two years ago, the California Department of Health Services awarded California State University Channel Islands $596,500 for a Faith Leaders and Domestic Violence Project to educate religious leaders.

Since 2001, Alternatives to Domestic Violence, which is based in Riverside, has held three conferences for clergy and lay leaders. The Redlands-based Cops & Clergy Network will focus on the issue at a Faith and Justice Summit next year.

California Baptist University, a Southern Baptist college in Riverside, has offered domestic violence workshops for graduate marital and family counseling students for five years. It may open them to the general public this year.

"Like others in our culture, people of faith are coming to terms with the statistics on violence in the family setting," said Nancy Nason-Clark, a sociology professor at the University of New Brunswick and author of "The Battered Wife: How Christians Confront Family Violence."

"Walking with women who have experienced violence on the road to recovery is a central role for faith communities and also, keeping men accountable for their behavior in the family setting," Nason-Clark said in an e-mail.

The experiences of abused women vary considerably.

Nancy, a San Bernardino teacher now legally separated from her husband, has found emotional support from the pastor and congregation of the mission church she attends in Moreno Valley, as well as an offer of groceries, as needed. However, elders at the parent church in Los Angeles County told her she should not have left her husband, she said by phone.

Nancy, who asked that her last name not be used because she fears for her safety, said she left her husband of three years in January because of mental and emotional abuse.

"My husband doesn't get physical," she said by phone. "There's coercion. I have to get permission to get a haircut. ... My church doesn't see this as abuse. It's being a bad husband, but it isn't abuse. ... I'm scared."

Church leaders need to understand that mental and emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse, she said.

"If they don't deal with it when it's a little problem it will become a bigger problem," Nancy said. "They're ignoring sin and letting it continue. ... Part of Christianity is the love you're supposed to have. Perfect love casts out fear. You should not have fear in a marriage relationship."

When Anita Silvestri could no longer ignore the violence in her marriage three years ago, she sought help from her Riverside church.

"I didn't know where to turn," she said. "I had never told anyone in my family or my friends."

Members of Calvary Presbyterian Church supported her and her husband.

That experience prompted the Riverside artist to start a domestic violence support group at Calvary Presbyterian--an effort that her church encouraged and supports financially.

The Rev. Bonnie Orth, of Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network, said some clergy ask the same question posed by the secular world: "Why does she stay?" The question, she said, should be, "Why does he batter?"

Domestic violence -- from spousal abuse, dating violence, sexual assault and elder abuse -- occurs in faith groups at about the same rate as it does in the general population, experts say.

It is an uncomfortable topic for many. People of faith are no different, say clergy, domestic violence counselors and congregation members.

"People feel embarrassed or are ashamed," Silvestri said. "It's really sad since it can happen to anybody, from all classes, all education levels, all races."

Barriers and Beliefs

One of every three or four women will be physically or sexually abused by a husband, boyfriend or other relative, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. About 90 percent of domestic violence victims are women; 10 percent are men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Ken Pearce, associate professor of psychology at Cal Baptist, said as many as 20 percent of men may be abused, based on his experience as a family therapist in Oklahoma.

"There's not as much violence" by women against men, he said by phone. "It's more mental or abuse with words. Men get more explosive; women are not as likely to take weapons or beat up on partners."

Misty Jardine, program coordinator for the Yucaipa Outreach office of San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, said half of the women in her domestic violence support groups are church-goers.

"There are churches that are supportive of the victim seeking counseling," she said by phone. "There are others who don't condone leaving a spouse because of domestic violence. I have several clients now who are dealing with that."

Orth said some clergy don't understand how dangerous domestic violence can be and routinely send women home to their abusers.

"They believe the marriage covenant shouldn't be broken," she said. "We firmly believe that domestic violence breaks the marriage covenant."

Restoring that covenant should not be the first priority in an abusive relationship, said Pearce, who pastored an independent Baptist church in Oklahoma City before joining the Cal Baptist faculty.

"There has to be safety for the woman and accountability for the abuser," he said. "After that, maybe there is the possibility of restoration of the relationship."

Pastors who counsel victims to return to abusive spouses underestimate the danger, Pearce said.

"They're trying to restore (the marriage) without any accountability and that's the wrong order," he said. "I'm all for restoration, after safety and accountability. ... I've always suggested legal separation first."

Faith leaders often feel caught between the rhetoric of their particular group and the reality of families in crisis, Nason-Clark said.

"Groups that hold very high ideals for the family are sometimes reluctant to speak out when abuse occurs and other times they are at a loss as to what to do," she said.

Yasmin Attar, coordinator of the Faith Leaders and Domestic Violence Project, said workshops conducted in San Bernardino County and elsewhere in the last year addressed why domestic violence is hard for faith groups to talk about. Another workshop is planned in Riverside County this spring, she said.

Always Watchful

"The barriers they face often are breaking through the silence and the shame, self-blame, the use or misuse of scriptures to perpetuate the problem, denial, lack of information or blaming the victim," Attar said by phone.

Clergy are required by law to report abuse of children, seniors and disabled dependents, but not spouses, she said.

The Rev. Woody Hall, senior pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Savior in San Bernardino, and others said they try to be alert to the possibility of abuse in their congregations.

"I'm always watchful for things I can't account for," Hall said.

Faith can be a powerful source of strength and comfort to people in abusive relationships, or a negative influence, he said.

"The good news is that if a person is part of a community of faith, that can be a support system for them when they're hurting," he said.

Faith leaders need to learn the signs of abuse, acknowledge the danger, and offer physical, emotional and spiritual help, Jardine said.

"I have had several clients where their church helped them for months to get back on their feet," she said. "Often the victim doesn't have money. Emotional support, meeting with their pastors, groups in the church supporting them" are critical to healing and recovery, she said.

The Calvary Presbyterian effort is unusual, said Jardine of San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services.

"That's a huge, amazing step for a church to take," she said. "They're letting members know it won't be tolerated."

No Justification

The religious teachings of Judaism, Christianity or Islam do not justify spousal abuse, although some men contend that certain texts condone abusive treatment of wives, clergy and women's advocates said.

"All religious texts may be used inappropriately to overpower another human being," said Kausar Ahmad, a Temecula consultant who has done domestic violence training for South Asian and Middle Eastern Muslim communities since 1991. "Violence of any sort is unacceptable and it is not appropriate to use any religious document to justify it."

Spousal abuse "totally violates Islamic principles," said Laila Al-Marayati, a Los Angeles obstetrician and spokeswoman for the Muslim Women's League. "I do feel there has been progress, especially among the male leadership talking about it. Ten to 15 years ago people were in denial."

Muslim women face considerable pressure to keep the family together, Ahmad and Al-Marayati said. For many, immigrant status as well as language and cultural barriers can make it difficult to seek help.

Jewish women are commanded during wedding ceremonies to maintain "shalom bayit," domestic tranquility. That commandment sometimes becomes a prison, Rabbi Harold Caminker of Temple Beth El in Riverside said by phone.

The couple also declares that "God is within that relationship. Therefore if you cause harm to your beloved ... you're also wronging God," he said.

Domestic violence is "harder for Jews to talk about because for so long it was not considered a Jewish problem," Caminker said. "The Jewish home was thought to be a refuge. In the modern era people are speaking out. We never acknowledged that it did exist. We have to make amends for our silence because silence kills and we all know it."

Spousal abuse is a sin, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino.

"God created us and he gave personal dignity equally to men and women," he said by phone. "We never advocate a woman staying in an abuse situation. We cannot advocate divorce, but under such a situation we would advocate a separation. ... We hope the marriage can continue in the future."

Lincoln said his seminary training included instruction on spotting signs of abuse, even when victims try to hide their injuries.

"It may be necessary that the authorities be called to get the abusing spouse into appropriate treatment," he said. The diocese refers couples to Catholic Charities for help, he said.

Some Christian men who abuse their wives justify the violence by misusing the Apostle Paul's teachings about submission, said Pastor Felix Jones III of All People Unity Baptist Church in Redlands.

The Bible does not say that women are to be subservient, Hall said. "That can be destructive to personhood," he said.

"Scripture says the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church," Jones said by phone. "Christ died for the church and submitted himself to that. Loving your wife is not violent. Scripture also teaches that until we have healed and reconciled with our wives, a husband cannot have reconciliation and communion with the Father."

Submission must be understood within the context of love, respect and accountability, Pearce said.

"Submission is not being run over by a Mack truck," he said. "We all have to submit to one another. We also have to be accountable to one another. There has to be a loving and accountable relationship."

Reach Bettye Wells Miller at (951) 368-9547 or

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Assemblies Of God Beliefs on Abuse

1 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:21 AM

This A/G Perspective reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.


What position and advice does the Assemblies of God offer the Christian spouse, child, or others who find themselves in a truly abusive situation?
The Assemblies of God strongly opposes abuse and the many tragic forms of dysfunction now plaguing our world. It must grieve the heart of God, who cares greatly for the downtrodden, to see one human being abuse another. It must also grieve the heart of God too if His children observe abuse and sit idly by, allowing the evil to continue.

Defining abuse:
"Abuse is the imposition of one person’s destructive will or actions upon another person which inflicts harm to the victim on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level." Ultimately the victim’s will or future well-being is neither considered nor respected. Abuse usually occurs because of the abuser’s misuse of his/her higher standing, position of authority, or psychological/physical strength. In inflicting the abuse the authority and/or strength of the abuser overpowers the will of the victim. In nearly all cases the victim is incapable of preventing the abuse.

Differentiating abuse from other actions of anger:

We are all subject to anger and frustration. In these weak moments frail mankind responds. At times the response takes the form of an emotional outburst. Often at the root of such actions lie unrelated feelings of stress, resentment, anger, anxiety, annoyance, or general displeasure. But what determines when a relationship becomes abusive and violates trust? Certainly the distinction can be difficult to make. When parents administer discipline and correction for their children they may unwittingly engage in lesser degrees of mistreatment. Studies show angry and disparaging verbal comments can wound deeply and create lasting emotional scars. Therefore the Bible rightly admonishes Christians to refrain from such behaviors. In the case of spouses, the Bible commands, "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). In the treatment of children the Bible says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children [to overly irritate the child’s spirit so as to inflame anger and rage]; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

In situations where a Christian’s actions or words are becoming abusive, he or she should ask the Holy Spirit to guide in correcting the behavior. If the Holy Spirit brings conviction for statements or actions, be quick to resolve the matter by repenting, apologizing to the injured party and asking them for forgiveness. If such actions recur, one should talk with a pastor or Christian counselor. It is important to be accountable to someone who can help in the process of overcoming this area of weakness. Most important, make room for Christ to dwell in your life (Ephesians 4:29-5:2). Through daily prayer and Bible reading, and choosing to obey what God says in His Word, we draw closer to God and take on the temperament and character of Christ, bringing our emotions under control.

Confronting the extremes of abuse:

It would help if we could readily discern between appropriate discipline, emotional bouts of anger, and actual abuse that creates long-term harm. Occasional outbursts of frustration occur within most families. This is much different from beatings, molestation, and other types of sexual abuse, all of which constitute criminal acts carrying legal penalties. Each state has specific laws and interprets abuse differently.

The Christian home is not always immune from the extreme forms of violence and abuse. Such actions touch Christian families, though to a lesser degree than in general society. The Assemblies of God speaks out to its own constituency and society at large encouraging alertness to and awareness of the various forms of abuse.

Though abuse is sometimes difficult to determine, especially when it moves into psychological and emotional mistreatment, its more obvious forms include rape, incest, battery, and other types of physical violence. It is also seen in other aberrations such as sexual exploitation by counselors, the use of children in producing pornography, the imposition of sadomasochism on spouses, indecent self-exposure, etc. When any of these abuses take place in the family, they are doubly reprehensible, for the home should be a place of love, trust, and safety.

Reporting abuse:

Several questions arise when recognizing abuse. What should one do if a spouse is guilty of inflicting abuse? What if a child is involved, either as an abuser or recipient of such mistreatment? What if abuse is occurring outside one’s sphere of influence? In such cases is one still responsible to help resolve the problem?

Our action to report abuse is vital because victims often feel they are somehow responsible for being abused. Such guilt often results in silence which allows abusers to repeat the sin.

The first step for anyone who becomes aware of abuse is to report it to someone who can help stop it. This should occur regardless of who is involved; how it takes place; or where, when, or why it transpires. Far too often abuse is never reported. This silence is caused by fear -- fear of retribution by the abuser, fear of losing a relationship with an abusive loved one who could possibly face criminal penalties for his or her actions, and fear of the truth being opened to public view. Regardless of the reason, such fears create silence among victims and families, and the silence in turn allows the abuse to continue and even perhaps escalate.

In other cases, a lack of understanding the crossover point from non-criminal actions and activities into abuse also allows the cycle to continue. For example an abused Christian wife may hold a distorted view of the husband’s biblically authorized position as head of the home and thus allow the husband to tyrannize her and the family.

God is opposed to all abuse. In condemning murder, Jesus declared that thinking angry thoughts toward another is subject to divine judgment (Matthew 5:21, 22). It is the responsibility of the abuse victim, or of anyone (including the church) who becomes aware of such abuse, to report the abuse with the hope of stopping it. If it involves parties in the local church, the pastor should be notified. Depending on the state in which the actions take place, the witness may have a legal obligation to report the abuse to a civil authority. Christians who report abuse must then refrain from gossip. Too often additional damage is unintentionally inflicted on those involved in abuse simply as a result of idle talk.

Correcting abuse:

After abuse is reported to officials, confronting the offender becomes the next objective. Those who abuse family members or others often refuse to admit their problem. Often abusers harbor a history of being abused themselves. In all cases, where possible, the abuser should be referred to trained, professional Christian counselors. However, ultimately the abusive person must accept responsibility for his/her own behavior.

One who does not accept correction and continues to abuse others is in reality walking deeply in sin and refusing the opportunity provided by God to change. When life is threatened (especially in the case of children) separation (for a time) may be necessary to secure safety and hopefully allow for healing and intervention.

The innocent must be protected, and the abuse must be stopped and the abuser dealt with appropriately.

Hope and healing for those involved in abuse:

There is hope for all in situations of abuse. God is able to forgive and change the abuser, and to restore all those involved to a whole and normal life. This is possible only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ who willingly died so we could turn from such sin in our lives and be healed. In Jesus, "all who are weary and burdened will (find) rest" (Matthew 11:28). Psalm 34:17-18 says, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

There is hope for the family that has been affected by abuse. God desires to heal broken relationships. Families who have received Christ as Savior have found a key in forgiveness. Through the wisdom and strength that God gives they are transformed from dysfunction to wholeness.

Former abusers who remorsefully struggle with the guilt of their past must remember the words of the apostle Paul who himself persecuted and executed many of the early Christians, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." Then speaking generally of all sinners Paul goes on to say, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). What hope and peace this truth holds for all in Christ, including those guilty of past actions of abuse. Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The focus for Christians is not our past but our future, thanks be to Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What is a godly response to domestic abuse for an abused wife?

15 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:05 AM

Domestic abuse is a one-sided relationship where a spouse regularly seeks to control and punish his or her partner. The most common sort of spousal abuse is that of the husband toward the wife. The abuse can take many forms: verbal, physical, psychological, sexual, and financial. These are the primary methods a man uses to dominate his spouse.
Regardless of the form of abuse, there are no easy answers for a wife whose husband regularly abuses her. Financial concerns, intimidating threats, personal doubts, and a husband’s ability to hide the abuse or make her feel responsibile (when she most certainly is not) are just some of the factors that leave hurting and scared wives feeling cornered with few, if any, options.
As trapped as a wife may feel, she is always free to choose the option of love. Sadly, however, too many have been taught that showing love means that a wife should passively tolerate her husband’s abuse. Love is misunderstood as getting along and not upsetting one’s husband. But a weak, fearful, compliant response usually enables her husband in his abusive patterns. Meek compliance on her part is not best for either of them. Nor does it serve the larger good of a godly marriage. Therefore, it’s not loving.
The Bible says that showing genuine love is to "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" ( Romans 12:9 NIV). In other words, a loving reaction is both compassionate and strong. Although her husband may not see it this way, an abused wife can show that she cares for her husband by sending the strong and consistent message that she will give him consequences for his abusive words and behavior.
A consequence is something that a wife decides to do. It’s not something that she tries to make her husband do. Consequences vary depending on the seriousness of the situation. For instance, a verbally abusive episode (although still serious) often calls for her to simply end the conversation after informing her husband that she won’t continue to talk with him as long as he remains controlling or disrespectful. Situations involving physical abuse may require calling the police and pressing charges. In other cases where there is a longstanding and oppressive pattern of emotional/verbal abuse, legal separation and even divorce are legitimate options to consider, but only as a last resort.
An abused wife shouldn’t expect the situation to turn around quickly. Many abusive husbands apologize and act remorseful, but a wife shouldn’t be misled. An abusive husband’s quick remorse is often just another ploy to regain control. Other men don’t apologize at all and resist admitting the harm they are causing. They continue to minimize their sin and put the blame on others. It frequently requires an abusive husband to undergo an extended time of his own personal suffering before he will come to his senses and begin the long and difficult process of understanding and owning the damage he’s caused. Therefore, a wife committed to loving her husband should be prepared to stand her ground for a long period of time while her husband learns necessary lessons from the consequences he is suffering for his sinful behavior.
An abused wife shouldn’t try to give consequences without help. Confronting her husband without a plan or physical protection can be a grave mistake. It will likely cause her husband to feel threatened. He is used to being in control and giving him negative consequences takes that control away. Therefore, a wife should prepare for the possibility that her husband could resort to physical intimidation and violence to regain control. She needs a plan that would help ensure her safety For example, having several friends present at a point of confrontation, having an escape plan or an alternate place for her and her children to go stay, notifying the police, obtaining a restraining order.
A wife has no assurances that his suffering the consequences will wake up her husband, end the abuse, or resolve their marital problems. She can, however, begin to love as Christ loved as she gradually begins to rest in the fact that God desires what is best for her. It may take a fairly long time to really believe this, but God is there to empower her to show love, to comfort her with love, and enliven her with a purpose for her own life no matter what happens ( Psalm 23:4 ). Her heart can begin to gain a growing confidence and peace that says, "I’m not totally powerless. I’m free to love. And although it may not work out between my husband and me, I am confident that it will work out between God and me."
Written by: Jeff Olson

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The bible on abuse & Violence

5 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:54 PM

The Bible on Abuse & Violence
Many people think that the Bible has very little to say about abuse.

Quite often, if we as victims approach and confide in an elder, priest, or member of our Church, hoping for some support and encouragement, we can leave feeling even more guilty and trapped than we did formerly. We may be told that the abuse is due to our own lack of submissiveness, or our own sinfulness, that we would not suffer if our faith was greater, or that we will be rewarded in the next life for the suffering we experience in this one (!?!). I have heard of women who have been told earnestly by their vicar that it would be better for them to die at the hands of their abusive husband than to seek a separation and protection for their children!

When talking to Church members we have to realise that understanding of Domestic Abuse is still in its infant stages in many Churches, and that the majority of people (including elders, vicars and priests) still hold basic misconceptions regarding the dynamics of an abusive relationship and have formed their opinions less on what Scripture says, and more on those myths generally held in society. An added hurdle is to be found especially in the more fundamental denominations, where the mistaken belief is often that such things may happen "in the World", but not in a good Christian home!

The question, however, for every Christian person should not be what does our Church say about our situation, but what does the LORD say to us in the Bible, according to which both our Church should be based, and more importantly, according to which we, as individuals, should try to live?

The Bible condemns violence and violent men

Many passages in the Bible speak out on the issue of violence, and GOD's attitude toward those that repeatedly use violence:

Psalms 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Zephaniah 1:9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

Psalms 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. Malachi 2:16-17 “I hate [...] a man’s covering his wife with
violence, as well as with his garment.” says the Lord Almighty...."You have wearied the Lord with your words.” “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying “all who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”. (NIV alternate translation)

In a similar way, 'wrath' or anger is condemned as being sinful, as is sexual abuse:

James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication (note: that is to say, sexual immorality, including sexual abuse), and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God

What the Bible says about Verbal Abuse

Scripture also shows us that the very words we speak can be considered as a form of violence:

Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Matthew 5:21,22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire

As followers of Christ we are encouraged to consider everything we say to one another, whether it stands the test of being for the benefit of the hearer - verbal abuse surely does not qualify:Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

The LORD sympathises and offers comfort to those who are afflicted The LORD does hear our prayers, He does care when we cry. He is there to comfort, guide us and heal us.

Psalms 18:48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

2 Samuel 22:28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

Psalms 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Psalms 140:12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

Psalms 72:14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.

Psalms 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

Psalms 103:6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Psalms 146:7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

The Church has a responsibility to hold abusers accountable and to help victims Firstly, the Church - and each individual follower of Christ - has a responsibility to offer comfort and help to those who are oppressed (by their partner), needy (of reassurance and protection), weak (due to the constant onslaught of abuse) and in distress.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Proverbs 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Jeremiah 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

Genesis 42:21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. Isaiah 35:3,4 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Secondly, the Church also has a responsibility to hold the abuser accountable, to admonish him, to judge (that is, to investigate and discern right from wrong) and to encourage the abuser to change his/her ways:

Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. James 5:19,20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

1 Corinthians 6:1-3 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

As the above verses indicate, we, today, are encouraged to show a sinning Brother or Sister the error of their ways. In the Old Testament, those who had the position of being the spiritual guides of the God's people likewise had an obligation to warn those who were doing wrong of the consequences that would ensue if they did not change their ways. The words are non-compromising:

Ezekiel 3:17-19 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Thirdly, the manner in which the abuser is to be admonished (i.e. the spirit in which to approach him/her) is also spelled out for us Not one of us is perfect - our aim is not to condemn the person - whom Christ has called - but to condemn the actions, and try to encourage recognition of the sin, repentance and a change in ways:

2 Thessalonians 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

We are to shun those that consistently oppress or wantonly harm others

Jesus laid out a clear and simple procedure to follow in the event of dealing with an erring brother (or sister!):

Mat. 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Those, who after several admonishings still stubbornly refuse to change their ways, are to be 'marked' or 'put away' - they are to be 'shamed' to the end that they realise the seriousness of their sin and repent:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

2 Thessalonians 3:14,15 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Note: in all our dealings and communication with someone who has sinned, with an abuser in this instance, we have to remember that the aim is ALWAYS to try to seek a change of heart and ways in them. Hence it is also our duty to continuously encourage the abuser to face up to his personal responsibility, to repent and to seek forgiveness, and thereby be healed. Unrepentant, they are as the lost sheep in Christ's parable:

Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Scripture on how to treat each other

Christ has called us unto Peace, not fear, he has called us to follow his example of serving one another, not dominating each other, he has called us to Truth, not to deceit and hypocrisy. Christ has called us to Love, not to abuse.

Eph. 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Colossians 3:12,13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

1 Peter 3:8 Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Where not otherwise stated, all quotations have been taken from the King James Version of the Bible.No Place for Abuse - Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence , by Catherine Clark Kroeger & Nancy Nason-Clark, InterVarsity Press, Illinois
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