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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive



Blog Of The Day Awards Winner

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Privacy Policy

| Emotional Abuse and Your Faith © 2009. All Rights Reserved | Template by My Blogger Tricks .com |