Thursday, August 31, 2006

Why Do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives - Final Part

Posted by Hannah at 8:34 PM

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Why Do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives - Final Part

Question: Dear Sir, my husband is a lay 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: Previously, in part I and II of the answer to this question, I said that Christian men abuse their wives because they are allowed by society to do so. Men are not held accountable for their behavior. I also mentioned that another reason Christian men abuse their partners is that of a miss understanding and misuse of scripture.

There are at least fifteen kinds of abuse. The obvious ones are physical, emotional, verbal, child and sexual abuse. Those that we do not talk much about are: economic abuse - trying to keep the wife from getting or keeping a job, taking her money, denying her from having a say in how the money will be spent, making her ask for money; using male privilege - treating her like a servant, telling her what to do, acting like the "King of the castle"; intimidation - threatening gestures, actions, destroying property, making her fearful; isolation - controlling what she does, who she sees, talks to, and where she goes; elder abuse - children abusing their parents; ritualistic abuse - torture--beating, electrical shock, etc, engaging in ritualistic sexual acts, brainwashing against society, authority, etc. As mentioned is a previous article, the abuse that is most prevalent in our country and that one that is not talk about is RELIGIOUS ABUSE.

Let me share with you a story from the book Battered in Submission by James & Phyllis Alsdurf to illustrate the meaning of religious abuse. "Alice was only eight years old when she was sexually abused by her brother in an attic. Forty years later as she talked about that incident and the many which followed, she spoke through tears. "I passed out and when I came to I was lying like I was hung on a cross. I carried that burden myself, thinking it was my fault because of what I heard at church. The church was so powerful. The little girls sat down in front practically beneath the pulpit and the pastor always talked about hell, fire and brimstone, about harlots and adulterers. It always was the woman’s fault. I wished then that I’d been born a boy. They seemed to be favored. They had a chance to do to high school. I didn’t. My folks had insurance policies for my brothers, but not for the girls. Five weeks after marriage, her husband’s emotional and sexual abusiveness started. "Being in control was important to him. He would make comments about needing to break me like a horse." He didn’t want his family to think he wasn’t in control.

Alice blames the bulk of her husband’s problem on the strict religious environment in which both were raised. "It caused the problem in the first place. There was no expressing of emotions, especially for men. The church gave him the right to do everything he did. All we ever heard was that a woman has to be submissive. It never taught the next thing, that the husband is to love his wife as his own body. I never heard those verses in church. I didn’t even know they were in the Bible until I read them at home myself."

The following text often misused on Christian wives by their Christian husbands or enthusiastic pastors: Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife." Headship here dose not mean lordship, or rulership. It is exhibiting Christ lifestyle of gentleness, nurturing, compassion, caring, and empathy. Interestingly, we often call these feminine characteristics. Matthew 5:38, 39 "Turn the other cheek." This does not mean passivity for of the wife. In essence it is compassion and a willingness to live peaceably with all men. Ephesians 5:33 "The wife see that she reverence her husband." 1 Corinthians 7:4 "The wife hath not power over her own body . . ." 1 Timothy 2:11 "Let the woman learn silence with all subjection." Ephesians 5:24 "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in EVERYTHING." Ephesians 5:22 "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands." There are many more texts, but I think you got the idea.

The best way to explain these passages is by having a clear understanding of another Biblical passage found in 1 Corinthians 13, called the love passage of the Bible. If we are truly motivated by the right understanding of this text, then all others will fall into place. "Love is patient, kind, gentle. It is not rude, rough and crud." But when a well meaning, popular, "spirit-filled" pastor constantly talks about "submitting yourself to your husband," and not submit yourself to one another, the Biblical message is skewed. There is too much preaching about submission. There is too much preaching about headship. We need more emphasis on mutual submission. Then, and only then love will reign supreme, not power and control. Submission is not a requirement for developing relationships, it cannot be demanded or forced. Submission is a RESPONSE to nurture, care and love. Thus submission beget submission.

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Anonymous said...

I must let you know that I have been blest by you comments. I was a Pastor's wife, I say was because we are now divorced. Two years into our marriage, I moved out to Cal. with my husband to start his minister. Three months after our move, I lost our first child 20 wks into my pregnancy. My husbands family felt I was too close to him and I was pulling him down with my grief and told me so. When I went to him for support of course he sided with them. He told me things like I was just jealous of his family because they could have children and I can't. I got pregnant again & remained on bedrest for 8 months in which his abuse continued. I spoke to his senior pastor about his abuse. He told me he couldn't make him treat me right. I spoke to the conference president. He sided with my husband that I had a problem. Of course my husband now told everyone that I was crazy. You know I felt crazy,so I came to Florida to be with my family. Shortly after I was here I got papers in the mail from the courts advising that my husband felt I was crazy and he was the better one to have the child and that I needed to return to Cal. immediately with the child. He had the church behind him in every way. Even though I was an RN with a masters degree in counseling, I really thought that he would have gotten the child but God did not allow that to happen. 12years after the fact. My son has remained with me here in Florida. I have completed another masters in Nursing and have done research in postpartum depression. I will be finished with my nurse practitioner degree in Dec. 2006. I found that even the health community is nieve regarding abuse. I am hoping to help women who have been abuse as I have been. Let your readers know that there is a lot to be gained by abuse like: Faith in God, inner strength, hope, understanding, trust in a God that has never and will never fail. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I am also a pastors wife undergoing very intense forms of emotional abuse. He tells me I am a demon sent to pull his ministry down...amongst other things. I have thought of leaving him but I am afraid because of my children, 2 kids under 5.I really want him to change. I am the only one who knows and I cant even look at his face while he is ministering because I know he is just a terrible person . He hates me soooo much, I do not know why. He wants me to be broken, like a horse too. I need help. I really need help.

Hannah on 4:21 PM said...

Anonymous 2 - please find someone to reach out to. You would be surprised how many people may be willing to help. Focus Ministries is an organization that you can start with.

My prayers are with you all!

Anonymous said...

I am a pastor's wife too and have been subjected to almost every time of abuse you could imagine from physical to be raped by him. To make it worst he boasted to another minister about it on the phone. He accuses me of have affairs that I am clueless about. At time I feel I am watching a movie and this is not my life. When he is on the pulpit I just wonder the nerve of this man. I have heard him on the phone with the sister he is having an affair with called me some adjectives that I cannot even mention. The saddest thing is I am not depended on him I am a professional with a masters degree and the one who paid for his education. He does not give me a cent. Help me please pray for me and other ministers wives who are secretly suffering at the hand of ministers.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am so sorry for your abuse. I would recommend that you talk with someone at a local domestic violence center anonymously. I would encourage you to move to a shelter for women, who are experiencing domestic violence at the hands of their partner. I do know that women believe it will get better. However the odds are it will get worse. I would strongly encourage you to get out.

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