Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives?- Part One

Posted by Hannah at 8:11 PM

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Why do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives?- Part One

Question: Dear Sir, my husband is a leader in a popular church in the Bahamas. We have been married for more than fifteen years and for the past five years he has become very abusive. He was first emotionally abusive, then physically abusive after he was chosen to serve in an outstanding church position. The church members do not believe that he is abusive because he is so "nice" and popular. The members often make me feel that I am the problem. Why do Christian men abuse their wives? Need help.

Answer: Dear Friend, Christian men physically and emotional abuse their wives because of several reasons. The first reason is that they can. Yes, generally men are taught that it is all right to be rough and mean, including those men who are spiritual leaders. Society has allowed men to be abusive to their wives and families. When we hear of a man abusing his wife, often the question is asked of the women "what did you do to make him get so mad?" Or "You need to be more understanding of your husband." Even when a woman is being physically or emotional abusive toward her husband/partner she is made to believe that she is in the wrong and not her husband. Women are to be quiet, soft, sweet, gentle, passive. Men are indirectly and directly encouraged by their mothers and fathers to always be in charge and in control of situations. Bahamian wives are taught to brush aside any aggressive behavior of their husbands, and accept it as normal. This behavior usually grows into patterns of physical and/or emotional abuse. In other words, we excuse the loud, boisterous, cold behavior of men. We support the idea the men must have an outlet for their energy. In fact, women are often told to "feed their husband’s egos." Usually, it is in essence adding fuel to the fire. The egos of men are often fed so well by ignorant, submissive wives, that their husbands have become overweight, angry, savage beasts. Men who are overweight with an inflated ego, greedy for power and control. It is now time that wives put their husband ego on a diet, a diet of humility and compassion. Unfortunately, I have discovered through my counseling experience and research, generally Christian men become more abusive, aggressive, and greedy for power after they claim to have had a "spiritual renewal" or a "re-commitment" to Jesus.

This leads me to another key reason Christian men are abusing their wives. For many men Christianity seem to encourage abuse against women and children. Wife abuse. The Christian home. Two terms that should be mutually exclusive. Tragically, however, they are not. Why? No single denomination is immune from this painful scourge. Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Presbyterians, Church of God, Methodists, Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventists, Charismatic, Conservatives, and Liberals, all have suffered and will continue to suffer from this dilemma of family abuse we call domestic violence. Wife abuse doesn’t occur just in families in which husbands are unsaved or alcoholics, where mothers work outside the home or couples are only nominally Christians. Many abused women are married to church leaders, deacons, or pastors. For years in the Bahamas we have heard many stories about men and Christian leaders hurting their family members. Uncles are raping nieces, father are molesting daughters, husbands are beating wives. We are together to blame to for the ongoing onslaught of these behaviors because we have refused to deal with them. We have often covered them up to avoid "embarrassment and shame" or to save the "reputation of the man." Meanwhile, we are losing the reputation of our churches, local communities, and country. Shame. Shame.

What, in these Christian homes, was conducive to abuse? Outstanding researchers Christy Telch and Coral Linquist give an important clue. "They learned that violent couples "have more stereotyped sex-role attitudes and more traditional views of marriage." They stated that "when a very legalistic, highly traditional world view is adopted by men who have ‘exaggerated needs for dominance vis-รก-vis their wives, poor verbal skills to enable them establish such dominance, poor access to their emotions, exaggerated anxiety about relationship issues,’ and difficulty with intimacy, such factors can provide fertile ground for the emergence of violent behavior. In other words, Telch and Linquist support my own findings that men who believe in strong traditional families values are more abusive to their partners and family members. This behavior is fortified by preaching that accepts all sorts of cultural assumptions about what "headship" means. There is a use of scriptures as ammunition for their misuse power. In those circles where wives are taught to submit blindly to their husbands’ every deed and word, where ministers peach strongly against divorce without consideration for the circumstances involved, and where dominance by the husband is seen as his "divine right" and responsibility, the sin of wife abuse can exist unchecked, say James and Phyllis Alsdurf in their book Battered in Submission.

I have worked with Christian leaders, pastors, and lay persons from many denominations and the stories and excruciating. John, an adult son of a deceased Christian pastor, with tears, told his painful story at a prayer support group I conducted. His father was an outstanding, well-respected minister and church administrator for about 45 years. However, he habitually sexually molested all of his children, including the son, and physically and emotionally abused his wife. John indicated that no one knew about their pain, it was a family secreted. They were constantly threatened to keep it a secret. His father was protected by the church and he had two personalities: warm and affectionate in public, and cruel and mean in the home. I have discovered that the reason we do not hear about abuse conducted by whom I believe are who most abusive individuals in society (church leaders, pastors, business executives, police officers) because these persons are in position to cover it up and we help them do it. If you could look inside of all homes in the Bahamas today, I am sure you will find that those suffering from the most abuse are those professed to be Christian homes.

Wake up Bahamas, wake up men. Let us cry out against the abuse. Let us stop covering up. Victims who are Christians often stay in abusive relationships because Scriptures, that are quoted and interpreted from the pulpit, seemingly give them no other option.

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Anonymous said...


Hannah on 9:13 AM said...

A friend of mine asked for a meeting with the pastor about their impeding divorce. The pastor instead of attempting to hear said he could not really speak of it with her because he was counseling her husband for some time. She never knew about that part, and when she approached the Husband about this he told her that was NOT the case! She decided to go over the pastor's head like you did, and she was told to go for another meeting and apply Matt 18. Now the pastor won't return the phone calls.

There is alot more to the story of course, including TONS more contact towards the church in this senerio. SHe was basically blown off, and the upper parties keep telling her "Keep trying". They don't want to get in the middle I guess.

Its a sad state of affairs. I hope you have more luck! Remember no matter what happens God sees things they refuse to!

MB on 8:47 PM said...

I am a Man, have been married for 26 years, 7 children, and figured out through reading "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans along with "Controlling People" by the same author-that my abusive wife wants CONTROL, POWER OVER, and to WIN. She is not interested in understanding or empathy.
Long ago, she physically hit me with her fists about the face and slapped me repetitively. She never specifically apologized. Told me she hated me. (No specific apology.) She has accused me verbally since the beginning of our marriage. According to her, I do nothing correct. She has and is falsely accusing me of all sorts of things. She professes to be a Christian, but her actions suggest the opposite.
She has-(since I started opposing her words and negativity (2 years ago)) turned my family against me. She has told me to "Get Out, Go Away, and You Don't Belong Here Anymore" and has been treating me as an outcast in my own home. I could give more examples of her "madness, but it would take 2-3 hrs.
The psychology behind their actions is explained in these books. Abusive people operate in a different reality-the reality of "I must be in CONTROL". To challenge them in their control means that you will be perceived as an enemy, a threat.
Many abusers do not realize what they are doing. They relate in a backwards manner. When they feel in control-they act sweet and nice. When they do not feel in control-they become abusive in their words and actions. Most of the abuse is secret. The 1st book calls the treatment "crazy making". Control is perceived as a life and death type of situation to people who abuse.
They also attempt to define who you are and your motivations. The abuse generally increases as time goes by. I have experienced this type of treatment personally. You generally find yourself more and more isolated.
All these statements I am making are gleaned from the books. I have posted here in the hope that someone might be helped in their plight-relative to the abuse that a mate might inflict. The books are available @ Amazon books. The used books are typically available for less $.
From a young age I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Word to guide me. I generally thought through the years that I did not need any books relative to the psychological aspects of people. In my sadness and suffering, I obtained and read these books and the information gleaned from them was the truth I needed to have an understanding of why! They helped me to deal with my suffering in a logical manner-that is, I have an understanding of the motivations behind her abusive and backwards way of relating.
Abusive people ignore the principals of the bible. Truth is irrelevant if it means they can Control, have Power Over or Win. They also conveniently forget what they have done or said-relative to their reality. My wife has done something horrible to me and an hour later denied she did it.
For anyone in an abusive situation, I suggest you obtain those books and read them a couple of times or more.
Sincerely, MB/NC

Hannah on 1:59 PM said...

Yes I agree! Patricia Evans and Lundy Bancroft both have good books on the subject!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ive read with interest this blog site, I too am in a very verbal/emotional abusive relationsihip. I have been married to my abuser for 31 yrs, I always thought if i could just make him see that he was cruely hurting me, and our 2 boys things would get better. My husband was hurtful in so many ways, but about 10 yrs ago he had a 4 yr long affair with a married woman at work, well, long story short, though I know I should have run from my marriage at that time I did not. but I did run to Jesus,(thankfully) I was truly happy for the first time in my marriage, the affair went on for 2 yrs while my son and I grew in the Lord. I finialy confronted them both one day at his job, basicly drew a line in the sand, I will never know but I think she may have dumped him that day. He began attending church and became a wonderful christian, joined the worship team and everything, He seemed to love the Lord and everything about Church. About 5 yrs ago I got laid off from a job and spent 6 months unemployed,(something he could not control) that is when the abuse began again and has been happening ever since, getting worse actually. The really scarry part is he still goes to church every sunday, reads his bible each day (studies it) but seems to not even get it. I have read the VERBAL ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP, and really saw my life there, it helped to know I wasn't crazy, and no matter what I did I couldn't stop my husband from walking all over my soul. I am working on getting out of this marriage (I'm still a little sad,even tho that doesn't make sense) I'm very afraid right now, I've been married since 19, its hard to face being alone at 51. I know that the God sees everything, I know that I've made mistakes, but I truly wanted a relationship with my husband (we never really had one) and it is difficult, that he could change so radically. I do wonder at times if going to church and being a christian didn't give him a feeling of control, it did seem like I lost a little in my relationship with the Lord, and it seemed like he sort of took over, I just thought that it was my unforgiveness of the affair (It took time for me to get over) but I know that I did forgive that, even though he was in church and being nice to me, he would never discus what had happened or help me heal from it I dont think he ever said he was sorry. Today he denies it ever happened, his words exactly "I never had an affair,I am done talking about it and I never did anything wrong" I realize after doing alot of reading on this matter, that this is quite typical of abusers, and another thing that I have contemplated was the possibility that my husband could be a sociopath, these are people of no remorse, who live their lives through trickery, and deception, they pretend emotions because they have none, they act the part, of whatever possition they desire,ie Christian. I pray each day for guidence, and I do believe that God is my protector, and the lifter of my head. I also pray for my husband, that he would be healed no matter the cause, and that if it is Gods will that I should stay he would make a way for that to happen, and if I should go that he would help me to have the strength for that. God bless you all.

Hannah on 8:34 AM said...

I'm so sorry you have had to deal with this. Your husband doesn't sound to repentive of his past.

God will provide for you - just keep your eyes open...and he will show you. Remember that is alot of years of being beat down in one way or another, but God will make you whole again!

My prayers are with you.

Christine on 6:10 PM said...

Hannah, thank you so much for your kind words, and prayers, they mean so much to me. I have been communicating with my pastor via Emails, not using my name, it has proven to be quite interesting, and helpful, he wants me to bring this out in the open, meet him face to face. I'm still not sure what to do, as far as that is concerned, he said by hidding it I am trying to control it........I'm still working on understanding that, I think I get what he means but when your going thru something like this, like you said, beaten down for so long, your really leary, and so insecure, to know what you should do is difficult. I know that I do forgive my husband for what things he has done in the past, and I truly want what is best for him, but I know I will never have the Love I once had for him,(I no longer see him through the rose colored glasses) and certainly not the trust.
Right now our pastor is teaching a msg "Idolgames" it goes right along with what we have been talking about in our Emails, my husband sits through these sermons, as if he doesnt hear a thing?? The Pastor even said one sunday, "you may be that husband or wife that has been unfaithfull and needs to confess and repent"...Nothing, another time he spoke of the "wolf in sheeps clothing" that comes to church and acts one way and goes home and treats his family and wife another. I dont know how that could not mean anything to my husband, but it seems not to. I just hope I can continue to work on improving myself, I am so weary of this. I welcome any advice or comments.

Hannah on 7:43 AM said...

Hmmm. Trying to control it? I think he misunderstands things. He needs to win your trust, and what is he going to do even if you do come forward?

Confronting your husband publicly or privately with you not having a safety plan OR your permission to do so is going against what is recommended.

I have found that alot of churches will come back with some pat answer like, 'where is you faith' or something along those lines. I have to ask them where is their faith, and do they not feel God can do miracles even under your list of requirements?

If you do not feel safe with his suggestions then don't allow him to pressure you. Find an organization that understands domestic violence, and they will help you feel better about these decisions.

Saying you are trying to CONTROL things by your silence is bunk! There are links on the side on this blog with papers written about how pastor's need to handle things so they can be done safely. Take a look, and see if one of them would help him understand your issues a bit better. Its not unusual for them to think they know, and for them to be truly be clueless.

Christine on 1:54 PM said...

Hi there, I wanted to write sooner but having trouble logging in, I have continued to write to my pastor, he wrote back once and said he could not be dishonest with my that he knows who I am, I am not sure how he could have found out, but I dont think he will ever tell me. My marriage has been the same, at times he is not so abusive, even somewhat nice, but even than things are not right, there is no love there. My pastor did give me the name of a christian counselling service that is free, but is some distance away, and may be difficult with my work. I have begun a 2nd job which may or not work out, but it was a possitive step for me. One of my biggest fears is the money issues, I know that this should not be my focus, and that I should trust God, but this is my one thing that I cant seem to let go of. (perhaps a stronghold) I still have not met face to face with my pastor, but I am willing to. I am seeing much more sickness in my husbands behavior, the sadest is we cant seem to have friends, he has a problem with my friendships, I had a friend that we went and did something every tuesay together, usually our grocery shopping was part of it, well he began to ask my why I always drove,(I prefer to drive) and made a big deal out of it, that I was using my gas, I pointed out to him that I was just going to the shopping I would have done by myself anyways, but I realize with much pain that this is not the real complaint he has, it is, I believe that I have a friend, and enjoyed my day. This is sadder to me than it makes me angry, When I try to share my happy moments with him, it is not recieved, he has friends and loves to fish, he even takes vacations, with his fishing buddy, and will not plan nor take a vacation with me, he spends all kinds of money on his sport, but finds fault with me spending 10 dollars at a thrift store, because I went with a girl friend, and enjoyed myself. If I get close to anyone, than gradually that couple is excluded from our lives, I don't invite them over, like I would like because I don't have a welcoming husband. I am trying to give this to the Lord as much as I can. I know that part of abuse is isolation, I also know that my husband may just fear that as I get close to someone, that I may tell them or they may find out how he really is, my friends are also christians, and members of our church. I pray for Gods grace, and knowledge, so I will be bold and strong and know what path to take, Thank you for hearing me.

Hannah on 12:09 PM said...

I would encourage you to do the free counseling - its worth it! LOL Well as long as they understand abuse that is! Some do and some don't! I would call and interview them, and ask questions to see if their line of thinking is realistic or not. If that doesn't pan out - try your local DV shelter. I have done this myself, and YES they even helped me in the faith aspect of things. Their goal is safety - not divorce. They realize if they push you into something you are NOT ready for - it will backfire.

I don't know enough about your situation, but at times with my own I did 'grocery shopping' for example with my friend anyway. Lets face it - they are going to scream about something no matter what happens. You pay for LIVING period it seems at times. We all need contact, and being isolated just breaks the spirit down more. It may help you with assertive training for things that are for YOU, and he truly has no business telling you you can't do. If you friend buys you a drink (a coke for example), or gives you one of her buy one get one free items - there is your gas money technically! Same with pays for the tip at lunch, etc. The deal is even if you say YES she did give you money for gas - he won't be happy and that's the point! Its not the gas - its call control.

Keep talking to the pastor, and don't worry about him knowing who you are. Find support for yourself, and find the tools to make yourself stronger. The path that needs to be taken will be reveiled in time! God will show you that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this site. My huuby is abusive too. Whenever we have quarrels, he beats me up. Send me out of our bedroom, throws out my clothes, ring,collects the things and money he gave me before. I eventually told some people, and that made him madder.I pray God touches him , though he reads the bible and goes to church. He hates third party getting involve in our relationship, but did i did wrong speaking out.I didn't mean to hurt him, just wanted him to stop this physical abuse.

Hannah on 11:48 AM said...

You don't need to keep silent about the abuse in your home. I do believe people that abuse want the family to keep silent, because they realize what they are doing is wrong. People can't help either of you when there is silence, and I do believe that God would wish you to confide with people you trust about this.

What he is doing is illegal, and immoral as well. You have the right to feel safe in your home as well. You aren't hurting him by speaking out - it could help both of you get the help you need! A call to the police may wake him up to the reality he has no right hitting people.

My prayers are with you!

Anonymous said...

Here is a real shocker for you all. Iam a very conserveitive Christian women. To most people my husband and I are looked at as legicalist and redicals. We have strong Bapsit beliefs. My husband is verbaly abusive. He puts me down, naggs me etc. He puts his fists in my face when he is angery at me. He uses subbmission in the bible as meaning you obey me. Not for the true meaning of submission really is. He wants to not seek help. Iam seeking help. Iam currently praying for God's will if I should leave him. We have three little children so this makes it realy hard. I don't think I could put up with 12 or 30 years of this. He has been this way for the last couple years or I have only come to realize how he treats me. We have been married 61/2 years. He acts a differant way in publci than he does at home. Also I want to a pastor and his wife about this and I was looked at as the one in fault and the pastor told my husband to hit me. How can you call yourself a godly man when your tell others to hit their wifes? I feel only by God's great love and protection upon me is why I have not been physical abused. I pray that the Lord will lead us into the right dircetion.

Hannah on 9:09 AM said...

Counsels the man to hit you? WOAH! I would get the heck out of dodge quickly! That's just plain sick! I realize you are not in the position that you would feel comfortable enough to bring this into the light. I hope one day you will be. That needs to be addressed with the pastor personally. There are ways of doing this respectfully, and this pastor needs to realize that advice was wrong. In fact...Its illegal!

Anonymous have you called your local domestic violence shelter, or maybe a ministry that deal with domestic violence? If you don't feel comfortable calling - maybe email them. I have found alot of these places have what I call "Safe Churches". They understand the dynamics of domestic violence. Its important to get up close and personal type of help.

I will be praying for you all.

Anonymous said...

Thank for the reply. We left the church over a year ago. I do want him exposed. That is very wrong what he told my husband to do. Thanks for your prayers.

Hannah on 10:59 PM said...

Anonymous: YES this man needs to be exposed. If I were guessing he may take his words back. I can't believe you were the only one, and won't be the only one that receives this damaging counsel.

I mean WHEN would Jesus ever counsel such a thing! How do you justify such a thing?!

As Jesus says we are asked to pray for this man as well. I will pray for him. Goodness knows he needs it also!

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

This Pastor I have mentioned is no longer a Pastor. He is devoriced. I wouldn't be a bit surpized if he was beating his own wife. My husband Praise God has never laid a hand on me. But he has to ablity to do so. I bet everytime he gets angery with me, Satan is repeating in his head about what that pastor told him. I advise every verbal abused person women or man needs to get the facts. Learn the way of their abuser. I have been reading book and articals and finding out what other people have said about their spouses behavior is simular to what my husband does to me. I have had stress released from me, now that I know Iam not crazy or at fault for my husband behavior. This artical is a big help. Thank you.

Hannah on 9:31 PM said...

I'm glad. Yes we are not at fault for someone else's choices. It good to learn about what you are dealing with, because it helps to make the decisions that need to be made. How true!

Anonymous said...

This site is such a blessing!!!! The suport of knowing there ARE men and women of God that feel abuse and the isolation of it is such a blessing right now. My husband is a former Marine I have dotted every I and crossed every T trying to do all I can to "HELP HIM" to be a Godly wife and example for my children. I hear so much from people in the body that say the stick with it and pray harder stuff. Honestly I am becoming rather angry about it. When I was raped at 12 i had to go thru "forgivness" he was bad and shouldnt do that. But when I told people my mother was bipolar and very abusive to me and my sister we were told to be quiet and pray then tattled on so the disiplan was humiliating and a nightmare. Not to mention the issues growing up that me and my older sister both have had with WHY DIDNT SOME ONE HELP US! Let this be a word to parents out there. You can love and honor your spouse and GOD with out suporting their abuse. I am 32 now and God has brought me thru 2 rapes endless list of reckless relationships and it took me till NOW to see HE DID NOT LEAVE ME and HE DID NOT ABANDON ME! My sister is 42 and she wont even hear it. She still screa,s at our dad and said YOU LEFT ME TO BE ABUSED EVERYDAY! And said NOTHING cause GOD told you to honor her. When you are watching your children cry over abuse and taking long showers to get away from it. Ask your self this... Do i want my daughter at 32 to be scrambling to find a way out of an abusive situation cause NO ONE EVER TOLD HER SHE WAS VALUBLE ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR! Do I want my sons to be screaming at their wifes and know my grandchildren are suffering. Cause the curse has to stop by the parent saying NO MORE! God gave each of us gifts and told us to be good stuards of them. First gift he gave you was your own life? How are you being a stuard of that when you allow your temple to be beat? He gave you children... How are you being a good stuard when you watch them being called names no child should ever hear! 5 years of this marriage and I realized that GOD HAS BIG THINGS FOR ME AND THIS AINT IT! I didnt come to this point survive all I have to sit alone crying. Sadly I still have little support. Sadly the people I know who are NOT christians are going to help more then those who are. Cause truth is unless you have lived thru it you cannot advise on the pain you dont know. Last week my 2yr old said mommy Iam not a princess I am a Bword. This was IT now comes the task of where do I go lord show me the way cause my children are called according to your purpose not the words that are being spoke over them. To see this streem of people who love God but hate the evil that is distroying families and know full well its NOT the desire of the fathers heart for children and women or men to suffer in this way.

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