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
Back to Abuse and Religion
This information is provided for guidance only and you are strongly recommended to seek suitable expert advice and help.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jewish Action - Taking Domestic Volience to Task

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 8:49 PM

The Magazine of The Orthodox UnionSpring 5758/1998 Vol. 58 No. 3Current Issues
Taking Domestic Violence To TaskBy Jeanie Silver
Domestic violence in the Orthodox community is like a tear in the lining of a beautiful garment. The wearer of the garment knows it exists and feels it ripping, giving way with time. It is hidden from the outside observer until the damaged material slips out from underneath and becomes visible.
Hotlines for Victims of Domestic Abuse
Perhaps at the mikvah, at a meeting of a community organization or school, or in the neighborhood grocery, the damage begins to show. Until recently, those who would have chosen to have the garment repaired could not find a tailor who did the work. That is changing. Around the country, Orthodox communities are trying to catch up to the problem that, while incomprehensible to some, is a bitter reality for others.
Myths & Facts
From the East Coast to the West, sensitive and dedicated individuals and organizations are instituting new programs in an attempt to raise community awareness and search out solutions to the problem of domestic violence. Rabbis, Orthodox social workers and lay people are receiving training in recognizing and dealing with abuse. There is much to do, but steadily it is getting done.
One organization that has spearheaded the effort to deal with domestic violence is the Shalom Task Force, a devoted volunteer group of more than 60 women under the leadership of Nechama Wolfson. The group started in 1992, when a New York pediatrician approached several community members after repeatedly treating bruised and wounded Jewish women and children. Without fanfare and with great care, the Task Force has quietly and effectively dealt with the most difficult of topics and has done so under the guidance of gedolei Yisrael.
Sandie's Story
Sandie* is a 45-year-old mother of four beautiful children, ages 10, 14, 15 and 22. She works as a school administrator and is highly regarded by staff and parents alike for her professionalism and sensitivity to the children's needs. Her husband David owns a successful business that caters to the growing Jewish population in their neighborhood. He is on the board of their synagogue, attends a Daf Yomi shiur every morning, and is well known as someone who is always willing to help out when a need arises in the community.
Sandie's greatest joy is a new grandchild, their first. Her greatest shame is that, unbeknownst to any of her friends, Sandie's husband abuses her. Some of her most painful moments have been at events when she and her husband were being honored for their community activities; it's all she can do to keep smiling when people tell her how wonderful her husband is, and how lucky she is to be married to him.
Sometimes Sandie has a hard time believing what really happens at home. When David comes home at night, she scans his face to see what kind of evening it's going to be. If he's in a "good" mood, he might generously say, "Forget what you've made for dinner. Let's all go out to eat!" On a "bad" night, she hustles the children into their rooms and tells them to do their homework alone because, "Abba needs it nice and quiet tonight."
On nights like that, she knows that it won't take much to send him into a rage -- throwing dishes, screaming at her, slamming his fists into the walls, calling her names, accusing her of infidelity, or threatening to divorce her and take the children with him. Although he has shoved her and pulled her hair in the past, he has never hit her or broken any bones. Sometimes he yells at the kids too, but more often he spoils them and tells them that their mother is "too strict." He used to apologize and bring her gifts after a fight; but that never happens anymore.
Over the years, she's tried many ways to fix her marriage. She suggested couples' counseling several times, but David refused to go, saying that all their problems are her fault. She's spoken to rabbis and counselors, most of whom told her to leave him, but they couldn't tell her how she was supposed to support her children on her own. Others told her that he "just has a bad temper," and that she must avoid doing things that "push his buttons." Part of the reason Sandie went back to work was to build up a nest egg for herself, but David insists that she deposit her check directly into his bank account.
She's spent many nights crying, agonizing over the person her husband has become and wondering what she's done wrong. She feels so ashamed that she hasn't been able to keep shalom bayis in her home that she has rarely tried to tell anyone else. When she has hinted at problems, people say she must be exaggerating. She actually has few friends anymore, as David doesn't trust her to see people on her own. He insists they do everything as a couple.
The most recent incident was over the fact that she bought new shoes for their youngest child without asking David first. He kept her awake until 4:30 a.m. yelling about how she can't handle money, and how careless and lazy she is. (He gives her an "allowance" every motzei Shabbos to cover food, gasoline, clothing, school supplies and household expenses: the amount depends on whether she's been "good" that week, but it's never more than $200 for everything.)
For some reason, this fight was the last straw for her. She realized that he wasn't ever going to change; and she didn't want her children to grow up thinking this was normal behavior. That week she saw a card at the mikvah advertising a hotline for abused Orthodox women. When she called, the counselor really listened -- and made her feel that someone finally understood. But she didn't tell her what to do. Sandie had hoped the hotline would give her an answer, but by the end of the conversation, she realized that she was going to have to make some hard decisions for herself. She did feel better, however, after they worked out a safety plan in case things got worse again. The counselor gave her the names of some therapists, a battered women's support group, and a rabbi who would believe her, and told her she could call back any time she wanted to talk some more.
Sandie decided to start with the rabbi, and called to make an appointment. Although she was hesitant at first to give details, he seemed to understand what she meant by a "bad temper." He assured her that he would not endanger her by telling her husband she had come to him, and he set about helping her evaluate her options within a halachic framework. He also suggested that it would be a good idea for her to talk to a domestic violence counselor.
At this point, after a few visits with the rabbi, Sandie doesn't yet know if she'll stay with David or ask for a divorce: she feels there are pros and cons either way, and she wants to make sure she does the right thing for her children. She does feel, however, that she has finally opened her eyes and is on her way to making things better for herself and for them. She feels hopeful for the first time in years.
* Sandie's case history was provided by NISHMA, a program for Orthodox battered women in Los Angeles. All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
One historic contribution the Task Force has made is in the arena of rabbinic awareness and education. In November, 1997, more than 80 rabbis came together to listen to Harav Avrohom Pam, Rabbis Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Dovid Weinberger and Yisrael Reisman in a three-hour workshop entitled "A Halachic Symposium for Rabbanim on Domestic Violence." The symposium was a follow-up to one held a year prior which was attended by 200 rabbis from every segment of the observant community.
Rabbi Yisrael Reisman spoke powerfully of the reluctance of many to believe that the problem of abuse is found in the Orthodox community. He asserted that though it exists only to a limited degree, it is nevertheless an issue which rabbis and others who come into contact with it must know how to handle.
Long coats, short coats, full, trimmed or no beards, Ashkenazic and Sephardic rabbis from every neighborhood and culture listened and learned together. "Learn to recognize signs of abuse," they were told, "never blame the victim or trivialize the abuse; never ask what she did to provoke the violence; find out if she is in immediate danger; help her create a future safety plan; find out if she has shared her secret with a relative, friend or neighbor; know your limitations and to whom to refer; follow up after initial contact has been made; provide a non-judgmental supportive ear, and know the halachos of confidentiality."
The rabbis learned that a batterer may criticize his partner through name-calling, mocking and ridicule. He may belittle his partner's family and friends and try to isolate her from them. He may have explosive temper outbursts and expect his wife to conform to fantasies and unspoken expectations, and he may threaten homicide or suicide to cajole his partner into certain behaviors.
"Educate yourself and your congregation by speaking about the problem in shul," said Rabbi Weinreb. He told his colleagues how he spoke about domestic violence from the pulpit one Shabbos: the following week he received four calls for help. It is estimated that for each person who seeks help, at least four or five remain silent.
Rabbi Pam touched on the subject of verbal abuse with a compelling message about the devastating effect of ona'as devarim -- words that hurt and cause pain. While praising the attention and care given by the community to the topic of lashon hara, Rav Pam pointed out that little is spoken about ona'as devarim, also prohibited by the Torah. "Harsh words, words spoken in anger, thoughtlessly, carelessly, cut like a sword," he said. "The pain that is inflicted lingers on and festers until the whole foundation of the marriage is worn down."
Each speaker had only the highest praise for the manner in which the Shalom Task Force has addressed the problem, with its deference to gedolim and its attitude of chesed and commitment. Its telephone hotline, (718) 337-3700 or 1-(888) 883-2323 is staffed by volunteers who have received a twelve-week training course. The volunteers, who never meet the callers, are there to provide referrals and help them sort out their problems. Sometimes the callers are children, and occasionally a man will call and say, "Help me! I'm out of control." Sometimes it is the husband who suffers from domestic violence, although it is rare. The hotline number, which is posted in mikvaos and a selection of English and Yiddish newspapers, is now nationally accessible.
The organization has developed "The Young Woman's Prevention Education Project," an educational program offered to young women in yeshivah high schools, seminaries and colleges who are of marriageable age. Based on the premise that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the workshops are designed to help build skills in communication and conflict resolution. The young women are taught that warning signals may surface during the dating process or early in marriage. And they are urged to speak to someone in confidence if they feel uncomfortable about something. After receiving many requests from yeshivos, the Task Force is developing a similar program for young men.
A Rabbi's Notebook
There is no question that the Orthodox community is mobilizing against this ugly problem. What else is needed? More community education; a pool of trained lawyers willing to work pro-bono for clients who often have no money and no access to family funds (a common manifestation of abuse); Orthodox social workers willing to work on a sliding scale; advocates trained and ready to accompany a woman to beis din or court. In cases where all else has failed and divorce is the only solution, women in abusive relationships may have difficulty obtaining a get from a recalcitrant husband. Rabbis are needed who are ready to go the extra mile to do everything possible towards achieving a speedy resolution.
Domestic violence can happen in homes where you would least expect it. If a friend confides in you, you may feel shocked, embarrassed and confused about whether or not to intervene. Nechama Wolfson's advice: "Don't run away. Urge her to seek the guidance of qualified people. Give her the hotline number. Most importantly, don't abandon her."
Jeanie Silver is a freelance writer and Special Assistant to Assemblyman Dov Hikind in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Haven for Sinners or Hideaway for the Pious

6 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:32 PM

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Haven for Sinners or Hideaway for the Pious
Is the Church Safe for Sex Addicts?
by Doug Boudinot

A sexually addicted friend of mine recently told me that his church is the last place he would ever seek help for his addiction. His comment left me wondering why he feels unsafe in his own church? Knowing addicts and addictions as I do, the obvious answer was that he is not in a small group where trust exists between members. Perhaps he is also a cautious man who has trouble trusting anyone. Or possibly he is so certain that he will be rejected he keeps his addiction to himself no matter where he goes.

My friend may or may not have trouble opening up to others, but a deeper problem remains: there is a deep-rooted belief among many who struggle with sexual sins that they must leave their burdens at home on Sunday morning. A question I repeatedly deal with is whether the church is a safe place where even sex addicts can find the love, grace, and healing of Jesus Christ or whether there are some sinners—sex addicts among them—who, after repentance and confession to Christ, still have no safe place in God’s church.

I often consider whether the old adage is true, that Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded. But perhaps your church is not one of those “dog pound” types of environments. Maybe the problem lies not with what you do to your wounded but what you do not do for them. In some cases, apathy or “lukewarmness” may actually be worse than coldness.1

Allow me to make a bold but accurate statement: Sexual addiction is one of the Christian church’s greatest challenges. Sexuality resides at the heart of our humanity, and if that is broken, chances are the rest of us—including our spirits—will be too. Since all cultural indicators tell us that this problem will only get worse, each of us is faced with a dilemma. Will we become part of the problem or part of the solution?

Sadly, we often choose the easier way out and close our hearts to the addicted of our society. Whether it’s out of fear, lack of knowledge or reluctance to follow Jesus’ example, Christians in churches across America are making sex addicts the lepers of our day.

Scripture is clear, we have all sinned and the wages of this sin is death. Addicts know about death. In fact, death is one concept they understand very well—too well. Sexual sin has probably brought about the death of their marriage, their job, financial security, their hope, peace, and sense of self-worth. Rooted deeply in most addicts’ belief systems is the feeling that no matter how successful they may be on the outside, they are really worthless inside. Christian sex addicts are lonely, isolated, and fearful individuals loaded with shame. Adding to these already depressed persons, the trauma of sin breaks our relationship with God. Since only the cross of Christ can bridge this gap—and many addicts are fearful of or distrust the church—their spiritual death seems very near.

Whether it’s out of fear, lack of knowledge or reluctance to follow Jesus’ example, Christians in churches across America are making sex addicts the lepers of our day.

Healing for a sex addict follows the same path used by every sinner. They must find a place to begin telling and living the truth with others in a place where they experience safety and acceptance—something addicts have never known. Addiction recovery programs have a saying, “Truth your way out!” But it all starts with safety. Without safety there is no trust; without trust there is no truth; and without truth there is no hope for grace.

Without grace and compassion there is no comfort2; without comfort in the midst of trouble, there are no sanctuaries established for others to find safety3; without safety there is no movement away from trusting in ourselves toward trusting others4; without trust, there is no walking along the path of truth5; and without truth there is no hope for deliverance and restoration. Simply put, where there is no restorative, liberating power from “deadly perils,”6 there is no healing.

But we know this already, right? It’s what brings us back to church each week. Is there another place in the world more suited than the local Christian church to find the safety so desperately required for healing? Where else can anyone—you, me, the addicted—find true grace alongside accountability, love coupled with firmness, and safe people to tell the truth about who we are?

Correctly answering the question of who we are is the first step to making your church a safe place for addicts and every other kind of sinner. That starts with recognizing that God considers all of us His sheep—lost and stinky creatures that constantly depend on His rescuing hand.

Throughout the Scriptures, one of God’s primary actions is that of rescuing His people, and He doesn’t restrict it to a select few. All of us are in need and God—the Great Rescuer—is always there. In the Psalms, the word ‘rescue’ appears countless times as David, a prime example of an addicted man, is constantly in need of immediate rescue because of his sin. David certainly qualified as a sheep, but did God give up on him? Quite the contrary. He was a warrior and king who “served the purpose of God for his own generation”7 despite his many flaws.

Healing can only come through admitting our faults to God and to His people in community and through praying for one another.

Think also about the people who encountered Christ during His ministry on Earth. Jesus met a woman at the well and in turn she found a safe person to whom she could tell the truth. Similarly, the woman caught in adultery found safety and grace in Jesus as he rescued her from both physical and spiritual death.

As Christ’s disciples are we to do any less? Will we accept the challenge to provide safety for the broken and addicted of our society? James 5:16 reminds believers to “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.”

Healing can only come through admitting our faults to God and to His people in community and through praying for one another. What a radical concept! A Biblical concept! We are called to be Christ’s Body on Earth, a fellowship of safe people who can admit faults to one another and experience forgiveness and healing. We do this because the church is supposed to be where God’s grace is in place. That’s why we sing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” We sing for the “wretches,” the broken and addicted of our day, you and me!

If you are still struggling with this concept, consider that the parable of the Prodigal Son applies to us not only in that we play the part of the son returning to our Heavenly Father, but that we are also called to play the part of the father through our churches to welcome back other lost sons and daughters.

Is your church a safe place to trust your true self, to pray for one another and in turn find the healing God wants to pour into your life? More importantly, are you a safe person for others, even for sex addicts? If not, consider what you are missing. God wraps His loving arms around his lost sheep, enveloping them in grace. He also challenges us to do the same, no matter how ‘stinky’ that next sheep may be!

Copyright © 2004 Doug Boudinot. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Doug Boudinot is the director of Ascent Resources, and the author of Ascent 180, a resource designed to help couples recover from sexual addiction and pornography.

1 Revelation 3:16
2 2 Corinthians 1:3
3 2 Corinthians 1:4-5
4 2 Corinthians 1:9
5 John 12:36
6 2 Corinthians 1:10
7 Acts 13:36

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Black Velvet Glove - this touched me.....

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 2:19 PM

The hardest to bear isn't the slap or the shove,

It's the sting of the words, like a black velvet glove.

It tears at your soul and your heart cracks in two,

What you've become is not really you.

You know that you're good, and you know that you're kind,

But you feel like you're going out of your mind.

The look of disgust, the names and the sneers,

Has this really been going on all these years?

It started so small, just a fight - some name calling,

You couldn't see the black hole into which you were falling.

He took all your dignity, who you were, and your pride,

In your shame and your pain, all you could do was hide.

Hide the fact that the man who promised you love,

Took it back and replaced it with the black velvet glove.


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