Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A reply to a thread on a faith board.

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 4:11 PM

I wanted to post a reply I sent someone.

I read an article by Catherine Clark Kroeger called “The Abused Bride of Christ”.
its a pretty long article - 4 pages but very well written.

She spoke of the great strides that Evangelicalism has made especially in the last half of the century. How we can become doers of the word and not just hearers. She said you can point to many of the accomplishments and ministries that have brought just glory to God. Also that we have gained in both numbers and influence throughout the globe.

Catherine has been referred to as an “Old Minister’s Wife”, and from her giggles to that I assume she loves that title. You can hear her speak of all the endeavors she and her family had lived thru. When I hear messages from her online she seems to have just an uplifting attitude and tone, and her love for the Lord is very clear! She is author, speaker and adjunct associate professor of classical and ministry studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She holds a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of Minnesota.

She states that evangelicals maintain a high view of the Christian home, and seek to build strong families and how commendable this is. One of the items that the bible emphasizes for Godly homes is that of safety. In Isaiah 32:18 it states: My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwelling, and in quiet resting places.” The theme is a recurrent one. Prophet Isaiah speaks of this as an inheritance of the believer (43:13-17). The Psalms repeatedly speak against violence, bloodshed, lying in wait, threats, intimidation, and verbal abuse, twisting of people’s words. There are many verses and stories throughout the Word speaking about such things. So when people state that the bible is silence on the subject of abuse - I believe they are very wrong!

Here is one small quote from the paper listed above:


Responsible research, such as that of Calvin College and of Nancy Nason Clark, demonstrates that the rate of abuse is at least as high as in the general population. Because of an unwillingness to face this unpleasant truth, the problem has been denied, concealed, minimized or ignored. Key organizations that focus on the Christian family have failed to address the issue and sometimes attribute concern over this area to those of a more liberal bent. Yet the Bible calls upon the righteous to deliver the oppressed from the hand of the violent and declares that God is angered that there is none to intervene for them. For these reasons, it is imperative that there be a Christian organization that will help evangelicals to address the issue within their own fold. Since they feel threatened at this point, leaders need to understand that this will be an endeavor of those who know Christ as Lord and Savior, those who seek to do His will. The deep-seated suspicion may be dispelled first by demonstrating convincingly the reality of the problem within evangelical homes, second by laying out the biblical imperatives that demand a response, and third by offering credible resources to bring about safety and healing. We need to be able to talk to one another within the family of faith. Slowly we are building a network of born again believers who are involved in ministry to abusive families. There are social workers, shelter workers, therapists, safe home providers, such as that of Calvin College and of Nancy Nason Clark, demonstrates that the prevalence is at least as high as in the general population. Because of an unwillingness to face this unpleasant truth, the problem has been denied, concealed, minimized, or ignored. Key organizations that focus on the Christian family have failed to address the issue and sometimes question the orthodoxy of those who express a concern. Yet the Bible calls upon the righteous to deliver the oppressed from the hand of the violent and declares that God is angered when no one steps up to intervene for them. END QUOTE

I have a blog online, and I have myself received a lot of stories from men and ladies about how the church was the first place they came for help. They were disheartened, and seemed to be alienated from the rest of the church over the fact they brought this to light. Its almost like people are afraid to speak of it. It was almost as if red flashing lights were going on in their heads, “Oh my GOODNESS…divorce divorce! We can’t deal with this!” when chances are very good that is the LAST thing on the person’s mind! They just want it to stop! They are often very taken back by the lack of concern from the church, and often have to seek help outside of it in order to have some sort of support in regards to the danger within their homes. I remember the shock I experienced when I realized this was NOT an isolated, but very common theme. It’s a very scary subject, and very hard to get your mind around because of non-rational, illogical situations, etc that surrounds it.

I don’t think anyone really expects the Pastor to dive in with both feet, and be a true expert of this subject. They say that this happens within homes just as often as in the secular world, and yet people of faith have that extra stumbling block of getting help because of the reaction of their church. They are often sent home with a sense of shame and they must do something to improve without any real sense of support and understanding. Often these people will speak very little of the dynamics JUST to get a sense of what the reaction is, and when it is not supportive they keep the rest to themselves. If the church does get a sense of maybe we should do something, and don’t have any background on this they will help at first. They tend to push for forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration before its time.

I had one women tell me (letter from blog) that she was placed into the hospital by her husband, and the church helped get her husband out of the house. Within a couple of weeks of her returning home they were pushing for her to take him back because of his act of remorse, tears and statements of change. She told me she knew he wasn’t repenting of this, and she could feel it very much. Her church was placing pressure on her, and was wishing for her to bring the family back together. She relented and within 6 months was in the hospital again in worse condition than the first time. When the church repeating their actions a second time she left. It shook her faith to its very roots, but she did find a place of support and is continuing her journey of faith. I was thankful to hear this because there are some that don’t. I think they believe God is like their church, but I know he understands both her heart and his.

Paul had to prove his repentance again and again the people in Jerusalem. Joseph also tested his brothers before he reconciled with them, and revealed whom he was when they came to him asking for food. So we do have stories of waiting instead of pushing it along.

I loved the last paragraph:


Our task is to bring wholeness and safety to hurting families, but not simply to make our church “look good.” We need rather to look long and hard at both the problem and the potential for healing. Disgrace is brought upon the name of Christ not because the victim discloses the abuse but because we fail to intervene with God’s healing power. Sociologists tell us that abuse occurs within about 25 percent of our church families. We have failed where we were needed most. The church, too, has been victimized by our refusal to recognize the evil and to respond, but the path to new beginnings is open before the people of God. END QUOTE

Recently I read about Nancy Nason-Clark was awarded $440,000 by Lilly Endowment Inc. (I was like WOW!) to develop a web-based model for training pastors to respond to domestic abuse. They can use this model in the privacy of their own home, or their church office. It gives guidelines, resources, etc for the church to follow in times of crisis when this happens within the church. The web-based training will have interactive capacities for questions and answers, offer video clips relevant to the content, and include special monthly features, such as guests-online, panel discussions between experts and ‘ask an expert’ section. To me that was VERY exciting! They have a pretty good response also, so maybe now pastors along with lay people can now make better educated responses to those families in trouble!

Dr. Nason-Clark states the University she works for pays her bread and butter, but her heart and soul belong to her God. Dr. Nason-Clark has been a professor of sociology at the UNB since 1984. Her book publications include The Battered Wife (1997), No Place for Abuse (2001), and Refuge from Abuse (2004). An award-winning teacher, she has published extensively, obtained 38 research grants, and given more than 250 presentations, invited speeches, seminars and workshops in Canada and around the world.

“With knowledge comes social responsibility,” she said. “For me, scholarship and social action go hand-in-hand.”

The Program is called: “RAVE”.

is the first newsletter and shows you HOW you can become knowledgeable. I urge you to check it out. Rave = Religion and Violence E-Learning .

For sure help and input is needed to help those that NEED the churches help and support (both abusers and victims) so they can come out of the closet and face this issue head on. I will agree that most churches will attempt to give the family member to safety at the first point of impact, but it is what happens afterwards that makes the bigger difference in people’s life’s! What I mean by that is both the abuser and the victim – they both need prayer and support!

I hope a time is coming soon for understanding of this subject. Christain Counseling Today (I think that is the publications name) recently came out with an entire issue dedicated to this subject of abuse and the church. It will be interesting if it has any real impact.

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