Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jesus Heals Abuse - New Site

1 comments Posted by Hannah at 5:31 PM

This is a site for Christians recovery from abuse in relationships. Please respect the very gentle and non judgmental atmosphere we wish to create. The forum is for any born again Bible believing Christian to use and to in time, help others. Please post as often as you want in the spirit of the early Christians. Love, tender sharing, and help to get to the place in destiny God has for you are all in order here. Let rebukes be with humility and gentlness surrounded by huge encouragement. Let disagreements be sorted with reference to the foot of the cross, Let human failings be seen through the eyes of Jesus. It is up to every poster to make the place one of safety and security for their brethren to heal.


Monday, February 26, 2007

How Far is Heaven

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:06 AM

How Far Is Heaven

How Far Is Heaven You Tube

I liked this song, and wanted to share.

Save me from this prison
Lord help me get away
'Cause only you can save me now
From this misery

I've been lost in my own place
And I'm getting weary
How far is heaven
I know that I need to change
My ways of livin'
How far is heaven
Lord can you tell me

I've been locked up way too long
In this crazy world
How far is heaven
I just keep on prayin' Lord
And just keep on livin'

How far is heaven
Yeah, Lord can you tell me
How far is heaven
I just got to know how far

How far is heaven
Yeah, Lord can you tell me


Cause I know there's a better place
Than this place I'm livin'
How far is heaven
And I just got to have some faith
And just keep on giving
How far is heaven
Yeah, Lord can you tell me
How far is heaven
I just got to know how far, yeah
How far is heaven
Yeah, Lord can you tell me
How far is heaven
Cause I just got to know how far
I just wanna know how far

Artist: Los Lonely Boys

Friday, February 23, 2007

How Can I Discern Whether I'm in a Healthy or Abusive Fellowship?

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 2:53 PM

Very interesting article on Adventures in Mercy Blog.

I actually went and read alot of what was posted in that entry on her blog, and its truly scarey when you read about such organizations as this. You hear alot of families getting hurt from what seems like very unhealthy bodies of fellowship.

On the they did a very interesting article on what is a healthy compared to an abusive fellowship.

The article starts out:

Abusive fellowships are often the most exciting Christian gatherings around -- filled with dedicated, committed, enthusiastic leaders and members. Do not let enthusiasm and sincerity be the basis for approval. More often than not, abusive fellowships cannot be recognized by mere outward appearance.

I can see people getting sucked in by the enthusiasm of the environment! They seem to be the answer you have been looking for. Its kind of like that saying you hear about, "If looks to good to be true it problamly is!" I think looking for a church home needs to be viewed like that also.

It also seems like when you first met your abusive spouse! Its exciting and promising, but once you marry you find out what it really involves. Their outward appearance and show was all a deception.

Its a short article, but I will take out a couple of points I liked!

In healthy fellowships members commonly maintain friendships when friends leave the group. Abusive fellowships tend to view almost everyone who leaves as a backslider and they view most other Christians as not committed or saved. Healthy fellowships do not consistently tell derogatory stories about those who leave.

In healthy fellowships the leaders prove themselves to be trustworthy in order to be trusted. In abusive fellowships the leaders must be trusted because they are the leaders. To not trust them is to sin.

These first two really hit me. Its much like abusive relationships within the home. If you have friends, family, etc that don't go along with the abusive spouse's way of thinking, or they seem to have you question your spouse's motives/actions (because of what they have seen or heard) at times you are asked to cast them out of your life. Abusive fellowships also ask people to isolate themselves from others that don't agree with their teachings. To not trust your abuser is insinuated as sin as well.

In healthy fellowships the confession of sins and "bearing of one another's burdens" is a personal matter that takes place in the context of a larger "family" relationship with other Christians. In abusive fellowships sins are exposed by (or to) leaders and pressure is often applied to confess to the group.

In healthy fellowships secrecy and independence in personal matters -- before God -- are acceptable as long as sins are confessed in private. In abusive fellowships secrecy or independence in personal affairs are scorned, and all areas of life are to be exposed -- even those that do not touch moral issues.

In healthy fellowships we are encouraged to love and bless our enemies. In abusive fellowships showing hatred for our enemies and speaking defamatory of them is acceptable. And often the occasion for "rallying the troops."

Abusive leaders seldom practice this scripture:

"...when ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered we respond gently..." (1 Cor 4:12, 13)

The traits above on the abusive fellowship almost remind me of the 'walking on eggshells' at home that we do! Past sins are never realy forgiven always brought back up in some form or fashion. Rallying the troops could be getting the children to side with them, or calling friends and family to tell them what an awful person you are to almost win allies! You are NOT allowed your personal opinion, or even to disagree without punishment of some kind. It could be outright rage, silent treatment, manipulative hurt feelings, mocking, ridicule, etc.

Non-abusive leaders rebuke members only for grave public sins, as a last resort (Matthew 18:17). Abusive leaders often publicly rebuke or ostracize members who simply disagree with leaders' opinions. Usually vis-à-vis sermon illustrations or applications, etc.

Non-abusive leaders do not encourage people to leave the fellowships because of differences of opinion. Abusive leaders often assume the right -- unilaterally -- to tell or encourage members who do not agree with leaders' opinions to leave the fellowship.

Non-abusive leaders do not view members as "lacking spiritually" simply because they do not participate in numerous fellowship activities. Abusive leaders view as "spiritually lacking" those who fail to attend most all their fellowship activities. Some even mandate the number of meetings members MUST attend.

Non-abusive leaders do not discourage members from reading information critical about the group. Abusive leaders often control negative information about the group by either discrediting it or by dissuading members not to read it.

Abusers often torment those that disagree with them. Hammering them with this grave sin they have placed there. If you do not agree with their 'leadership' there is something gravely wrong with you, and you will pay the price until you repent of these! Of course they are never truly repented of well enough. If you prove your point they tend to attempt to discredit you with legalistic remarks, crazymaking, diversion, mocking and just deciding they have no clue what you are talking about since the conversation never took place.

Non-abusive leaders do not judge your hearts, but they leave that to God. Abusive leaders constantly judge hearts, motives, and intents. They basically assume -- rather, usurp -- the place of God.

Get rid of leaders and replace with spouse - sounds like home for alot of people! They will tell you what you feel, your motives, your intents, where you are heart is at, and of course they are right even if you disagree.

Read the article for yourself - as I said it is short and sweet, but very powerful! If you have more time the blog I linked to has some interesting comments about some well know organization that seems to be getting their attitude handed back to them on a plate!

Got any opinions on either? Would love to read from you!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Feelings - A Burden or a Blessing

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 10:55 PM

I read an article online recently, and it got me thinking about the genders. What is taught within the church at times regarding this.

To read the article in its entire content - please click here, or as usual the title of the article above.

Here are some portions of the article:

When I was a teenage girl, growing up in the church, I was taught, probably like most evangelical teenage girls, that modesty was very important. In our youth group, whenever the genders were separated, the adult women would take the opportunity to warn us about how we dressed and acted in front of the boys. In theory, this is a good lesson to learn. But in practice, it was something else.

The way it was presented to us was that boys were basically at the mercy of their hormones, and it was a marvel akin to the building of the pyramids that they could control themselves in public at all. The message we got, loud and clear, was that we should fear the visual nature of their sexuality.

I don't know if those particular boys received a corresponding message about the fear they should have of the emotional nature of female sexuality. I imagine they did because we girls also received a message about keeping our emotions under control. That we should fear out own capacity for emotion. Out of a desire to help teens pursue purity, we were fed a diet of fear and shame.

I think they had good intentions, but it left me feeling not only afraid of men - I was taught that even a man who looked like he was just innocently standing there was probably secretly lusting in his heart about every woman in the room - but it also left me suspicious of my own emotional capacity. Even as a teen I knew I had a capacity to feel things very deeply (heck, I knew that as a pre-school age child), but instead of being taught that this could be a blessing to me, to others, and the Lord, I was taught that it was to be treated with suspicion. Nothing good came out of feelings. They were not important and should never be trusted. The message I heard was : God created women to have deep feelings, but feelings should never be relied on. It was pretty easy to understand what God thought of me.

Yes, there is some value in understanding that there is a degree to which men can tend to be more visual, and women can tend to be more emotional (though I think there is lots of cross-over and alternative expressions of those characteristics, and a disaggregated understanding of how people function would ultimately be more beneficial). But it is wretched to teach either one of those as something to fear. And it makes me kinda sad that it took me 20 years to figure that out. Being an emotionally deep person, rather you are female or male, can be a deep blessing not only to yourself, but also to others, and to the Kingdom.

I was in church recently hearing a program, and at the end of this program the pastor stood up and spoke about the struggles of men with visuals. How it is hard with how some ladies dress even at church. I'm thinking to myself - as I was looking around and saw nothing of real substance dresswise around me - I can't believe I'm hearing this again. It was a rather long speech about modesty. I don't have an issue with modesty okay? I'm sure not EVERY person in that building at the time was dressed as they should be. They way he spoke about it sounded like men have no self control! They can't help it, and you need to hide ALL forms and fashion that may hinder that! There was no sense of accountability of their lusts in any real form. The lady next to me was very attractive, but she was dressed modest. Guess what? On the way out I noticed some eyes wandering her way. Did she do anything wrong? I don't think so. She was a very pretty lady, and there was nothing wrong with what she had on. It wasn't to tight, to low, to form fitting, etc.

I realize men are more visual than ladies in some form. Some more than others. I think some women can be visual also. I guess the way he descibed it reminded me the sterotypical scene with the construction workers whistling to every pretty lady that walked pass them during lunch break. I don't mind the mentioning of this, but it should also be mentioned this concept called "self control" also. I think the second part should be pushed a bit harder. With some men it doesn't matter how modest you are!

The article also spoke about how women need to stop being so emotional! To me that portion is a stereotype! LOL I'm not saying some women can't be, but God made us this way. I don't know - it seems to me if I have to be stared at even with modest dress they could put up with a bit of emotion! I realize they may be talking about the ones that tend to go over the top at times, and to be honest they bother me as well! I think everyone has those types in their lifes! Everything is a drama!

What do you think? Am I totally off the mark here?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Albert Mohler Site

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 5:22 PM


I was drawn to this site, because they were going to discuss the Church Of England's paper on Guidelines to Domestic Abuse. I'm not saying I agree with EVERYTHING it says okay? What I do get bothered by is when they can't dicuss the meat and potatoes of WHY the paper was written, and the purpose behind it! I have read so many articles claiming they are asking people to take the "HE" out of God - and then turn it into some feminst RANT.......its frustrating to say the least!

The most he truly got into was a couple of paragraphs out of the WHOLE 60+ pages of the report that he didn't understand, and felt was OUT THERE! TWO paragraphs? Those two paragraphs were not even CLOSE to what the purpose was of the paper to begin with! Okay - he doesn't understand them....I'm fine with that! LOL What about the rest of it??

If you want to get thru some of the stuff that doesn't apply to anything fast forward to about 11 minutes into the program! He first starts off telling people others have wanted to undetermine the use of the word "FATHER" or "HE" or any other MALE word, and then references how we are taught to pray in the bible "Our Father Who Art In Heaven" etc. He goes on this RANT about this - which hasn't got anything to do with the meat of the paper itself! LOL! I'm not for NON gender words in the bible okay? It truly doesn't bother me if the word "HE" is referenced towards GOD! God to me isn't a gender, but it sure doesn't place me UP IN ARMS over using the term! Once again that also has nothing to do with the purpose of the paper itself!

Then he goes on about the "cultural" times around the time in which the bible was written, and how people tend to say we need to "rewrite" things because because the time in history - it no longer applies! How he is against that! I dont' have a problem with that either! LOL and he STILL didn't get into the purpose behind the paper!

Why bother having a show about this paper if you aren't going to talk about it? I'm glad he said that Domestic abuse was sin, but YESH what are people SOOOO afraid of? READ the paper for goodness sakes! LOL If you don't understand the concepts - figure it out and THEN do your show on it!

The paper wasn't written for the purpose of taking the "HE" out of God! The paper wasn't written for the purpose of removing the "gender" away from GOD! The purpose of the paper wasn't to RE WRITE IT due to cultural changes! LOL The purpose was DV guidelines within the church! HE says he doesn't understand WHY people are actually taking this paper serious! WHY???? Mr. Mohler maybe they actually READ IT! WOW what a concept! LOLOLOL!

Most of you won't need to read the whole thing - it does have a table of content!


I read the Harmful theology section, and went on from there today! Funny how I never truly got the impression the first time I read it (the whole thing) NOR the bits and peices I read again today how they want to take the HE out of God so Domestic abuse doesn't happen!

BLECK! MEDIA PERSONALITIES.........DO you homework that means READ the paper! Actually acknowledge the parts you DO understand the POINTS you can agree with! Why? Where you get to the part about WHY it was written in the first place! That is the purpose of reporting on it isn't it?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Survivor's Story

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 11:48 AM


When I read this story it clearly shows the doubt that goes on within the mind of an abused person. I say PERSON because I honestly believe that men can fall victim to this as well.

Early in our marriage my husband was physically violent with me. I told him I would leave if he ever laid his hands on me again. At that time I tried to contact my pastor; however he wasn’t available when I called. After I made the call I began to fear the implications of telling my secret. What would everyone think? Would they believe me? My husband is Mr. Wonderful, everyone likes him. Then the personal self doubt started. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than it really is? Do all husbands act this way? What I saw as a child was nothing like what I was experiencing. My Dad loved my mother: treating her with love, respect and kindness. I was completely unprepared for the abusive situation I was experiencing. The doubt lingered and festered.

Abusers tend to tell you that you are making a mountain out of molehill, and yet their reactions to things are off the charts. We are always asked to look at ourselves first, and I do believe that is a good thing! We should look towards ourselves first, but you still must address things that are clearly against the law of both the legal side and most importantly the Faith side!

This section clearly shows as well how people can hide behind the secrets of their life’s. I have read story after story of how abusive people can just RAGE in the car on the way to church, and within an instant be that wonderful person the fellowship really looks up to with respect soon as they get to church. The family may be reeling, but the abusive person acts as if nothing happened at all.

As time passed, the abuse transitioned to verbal and emotional. Name calling, threats of physical violence, breaking of personal property, verbal abuse of the children, neglect, spiritual and financial abuse were all methods that he used to perpetrate domestic violence. For years I lived in fear. My children were young and with the birth of each he got worse. The more perceived responsibility he had, the more abuse I incurred. It got to the point that my eldest started being a target for abuse. That was when I knew I had to make some changes in our lives.

I truly believe that the best place for children is within a home of two parents as God intended. You read a lot about the effects of separation or divorce has on children, and it is said that is one of the important factors as to the reasoning that you should not. I suppose a lot of people would say before this man started to target one of his children HOW do we know he was NOT a good father to them? I think children learn a lot about the world by using their role models in some ways don't you? I have to wonder why people seem to think this man would be a good father as the children watched him abuse their mother. Is that a good father? Is that the role model that God intended for this household? I can hear people saying maybe she pushed his buttons! I think to myself is his reaction to 'button pushing' one of a Godly man? Is his reaction what the bible asks of us in how to react? There is no excuse for behavior like that, and people need to stop making excuses and start dealing with that.

I began meeting with a friend from church and we discussed and prayed about the situation. We prayed for healing of my husband and we prayed for relief for me and my children. During that time I went to my church leadership and explained what was going on and that I needed help. The church leadership decided to involve him in a general bible study and never came to me and ask me how things were going, or if he was improving. They never confronted him or held him accountable for his behavior.

Some time later, I summoned the courage to leave. With the help of a neighbor who I had been confiding in, they kept my husband busy and I literally escaped from the house with my children. Shortly after I left, I contacted an elder from my church to inform him that I had gone. He and my pastor came to my new home and discussed what had been transpiring in our marital home. I poured my heart out to them again. I told them that someone was going to get hurt, that he was out of control, that I was terrified and I wanted out of the home and relationship. After I filed for divorce they came to me and said, “Don’t do this. Please go to counseling with him. You don’t have biblical grounds for a divorce.”

I wish I could say this church's response was unusual, but I can't say that. This is the how the term "The Holy Hush" started. From where I sit they had a couple of opportunities to step in, and help both these parties. I have to admit I do believe fear is in the foundation of why they didn't. What they did next was very normal, and before I did any research on this subject may have been what I would have suggested also. Marriage counseling! I truly never realized this issue was beyond the realm of marriage counseling. When I think about it now it’s almost like you have an alcoholic spouse, and to stop the problems of the marriage and the booze lets suggest marriage counseling. LOL No AA meetings though! Both parties within an abusive relationship need separate kinds of help, and once that has happened martial counseling could be the next. I think it depends on the whether or not both wish to step outside of their world of denial, and deal with the real issues first. If you can't see the root of rage within the abusive person, and the brokenness of the second within them as well - you are NOT going to be successful! You can not ignore the root of rage within one person, and they fear within the other and expect the issues to resolve themselves. You might have a band-aid for a while, but that ISN'T what we are after right??

So I rescinded the application for divorce and went to counseling. Counseling with the Christian counselor was grueling. I told her that I had read that in situations of abuse the individuals should be counseled separately. She disagreed. He denied the abuse and I was afraid to say anything. It was a worthless and agonizing exercise with him blaming me for everything wrong in his life. I sat there terrified to speak the truth of the abuse that had transpired. What I did learn from this counseling was that I was a complete doormat and I had allowed that to happen in the name of keeping peace. He said that I was not being a good wife because I didn’t submit to his authority. At one point during counseling the pressure was so great to reconcile that I verbalized consideration to moving back into the marital home. When a friend of mine begged me not to do it, I told him I wasn’t ready. The next night he came to my new home and proceeded to assault me, calling me all kinds of names, choking me, throwing me to the ground and beating my head on the floor. When he finally left, I called 911. He went straight to the home of someone on the governing body of the church. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and church leadership finally convinced him to turn himself in to the police.

When she spoke of the fear of verbalizing her issues within the marriage - it shows you clearly WHY counseling needs to start out separately. His anger and abusive ways need to be addressed, and he needs to shown ways of dealing with them better. He needs to address the root inside of him that makes him feel he needs to control the environment around him, and not allow the love that everyone wants and need to flow. The woman needs to know what is it inside of her that made her think that being that doormat was the only healthy way of dealing with her marriage. Could it be self esteem, confidence? Could it be a warped set of values? Why does he feel the need to abuse? Those are the issues that need to be address first, before reconciliation of this family in any healthy form can begin. There are loads of people that will wish to speed this along, because they feel if you stay separated to long there would be no hope. I have to wonder were that faith they pronounce so loudly is when they say things like that! When you push for reconciliation to quickly, and return to the home life without dealing with the issues you are going to see things repeat. Chances are very good the grip of control will be so strong that the family will be to scared to ask for help again. His will towards them will be crushing, fear will return, and extra measures by him will be in place to make sure they DON'T open their mouths again! Remember before this happened you thought they were the perfect family? What makes you think that show won't have a repeat performance in new ways?

We both filed for divorce. Church leadership told me that if I continued to go through with the divorce they would dis-fellowship me from the church, because I did not have biblical grounds for divorce. Then my husband rescinded his filing. After the pressure of church discipline, I rescinded my divorce filings.

He plead guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges and court proceedings ensued. My husband didn’t come back to the church but he met with people individually to recruit people from church to testify for him in court. He told them I was crazy, belittling me and minimizing his own actions.

I tried to stay at the church for the sake of my children. I kept saying that he broke the covenant by virtue of his abuse, that husbands were suppose to love their wives like Christ loved the church. This fell upon deaf ears. The small group we belonged to decided not to have me involved. Few people spoke to me when I attended church, whether it was because they didn’t know what to believe or what to do, I don’t know, but I felt ostracized in the place I sought sanctuary. My place of sanctuary became a battle ground. My church repeatedly became a place of revictimization. Clearly, my church and the leadership did not understand the dynamics of domestic violence and how they contributed to its perpetuation.

Isn't that sad? I think silence happens also because we have seen similar situations happen to others in different scenarios. It doesn't have to be domestic violence. The uncomfortable silence towards people when things happen in their life’s, and people are NOT sure how to respond! Depending on the sins involved is almost pushed out of their sanctuary they were told would be there for them. With the focus on keeping the family intact at all costs you can imagine the hesitation of some to talk about this. "What did you do to make him so angry?" "Did you ignore her needs as a wife?" You just know the focus will be on "Why does he do that?" as they look towards the family for answers. I would assume if the family KNEW THAT they would be able to find solutions also! Why does he do that does need to be looked at, but not with an air of blame and shame. We are dealing with a person with an addiction for rage and angry. I mean again when you deal with a person that drinks is the first question you ask, "Why do you drink?" LOL Those questions must be answered of course, but is that the first course of action?

Its sad the amount of stories, emails, etc I read that mention having to leave their sanctuary. How they placed a burden upon the church that was too much to bare. They are hurting and lost, and not must leave with their tail between their legs. Some never return to church, while others attempt to find a new place of worship. They now have additional pain to work thru. It’s sad.

After her home and sanctuary were gone she ended with:

I came to the realization that “sanctuary” was not in the building but in my personal relationship with Christ. I came to understand that I was going to go through some time where all (and the best) that I could do was to rely on Christ. It became important for me to take time to heal and tell my story as part of that healing process. I hope that leadership in churches will be open-minded enough to realize they need knowledge regarding the issue of domestic violence. I would like to see church leadership accept that domestic violence is a real problem in faith communities and become responsive to the needs women involved. Women, by virtue of their gender, are not lesser vessels in the eyes of God, just different. Until society values women to the extent they do men, there will be little assistance afforded in these situations. Society has recognized substance abuse as a sickness. Domestic violence is a sickness also, it represents a character flaw. It is not just a person who has a temper. It represents their world view of the purpose and value of women.

Men in the eyes of Christ have a great responsibility to care for their wives. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ never abused or belittled people. Clearly, it is not what he intended for women. Educating church leaders with regard to the realities, prevalence and pathology of domestic violence will help women who are literally trapped in their domestic situation. God did not intend for me or any other women to live in the bondage that is the reality of domestic violence. He intended for women to live a life of freedom to help make the world a better place for all his creation, especially to let his creation know about Christ. By ignoring the reality of some women, churches are devaluing what Christ has made and thereby ignoring their call.

I realize this is a story of a women, but much of the same issues can effect men within our faith community also. The reaction to them is pretty much this same.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Preacher's Wife Killed Husband Because of Abuse, Family Says

5 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:34 AM


Parts of Article:

It was a crime that stunned the nation. In March, 32-year-old Mary Winkler, a soft-spoken preacher's wife, was charged with the murder of husband Matt, a Church of Christ minister in the small town of Selmer, Tenn.

"Physical, mental, verbal," said Clark Freeman, Winkler's father. "I don't know how she took it. She's a stronger individual than I am."

Freeman says the abuse became more apparent the last three years of Winkler and Matt's marriage.

"I saw bad bruises. The heaviest of makeup covering facial bruises," Freeman said. "So one day, I confronted her. I said, 'Mary Carol, you are coming off as a very abused wife, very battered.'"

But Freeman says she denied the accusations.

"[She] would hang her head and say, 'No, daddy, everything's all right. Everything's all right.'"

"What went on behind their closed doors is going to have to be told," said Winkler's attorney Leslie Ballin. "Some of what we've got from the state of Tennessee touches on sexual abuse."

What's striking to many outsiders is how accepting and supportive the majority of the community has been to Winkler.

That sense of forgiveness, community members say, stems from the town's Christian roots and from its tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Without Remorse

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:13 AM

Warning this may trigger some. From time to time I find examples of domestic abuse and in just about all forms in one place.

I find that some need examples of what it is to get people to hear them. Sometimes handing over material will crack open that wall of denial....and hopefully they WILL help! Some will say this is just extreme, but in reality this is what domestic violence is....extreme.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Evil Among Us

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 10:03 PM

The Evil Among Us

Helping Youth Leaders Identify and Address Domestic Abuse
by Karla Yaconelli

The majority of Christians who are not abuse survivors would like to believe that the evil of domestic abuse isn't in our midst. They'd like to believe that it's only kids in outreach programs who have abusive homes, not any of the kids in our churches. And for those other kids, if we can just bring them—and possibly their families—to Jesus, redemption and rescue will follow, and the abuse will cease. If Christian parents are periodically abusive, God will solve the problem if they're coming to church and hearing the Gospel.

Who abuses children? Parents, teachers, family, friends, babysitters, Sunday school teachers, police officers, ministers, youth workers—domestic abuse crosses all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, educational, age, gender, and religious lines. It's just as likely to occur in wealthy homes as in blue-collar homes; just as likely to occur in Anglo homes as in Asian, Latino, Native American, or African American; just as likely to occur in Christian homes as it is in non-Christian, Jewish, atheist, Muslim, or Mormon homes.

95% of victims are women or children. But by no means are men always the perpetrators, nor are husbands exempt from suffering domestic abuse. It does happen in reverse—usually emotional or verbal abuse (which is the hardest to spot and address)—though sometimes physical abuse as well. And children experience the full spectrum of abuse from mothers as well as from fathers.

Some of the doctrines and beliefs we frequently address have actually perpetuated the cycle of domestic abuse among us. While most of the teachings I'm about to mention have validity in proper context, for abuse victims these doctrines and beliefs can be deadly to their safety, deadly to their souls, and deadly to their relationship with God. Furthermore, the ways these tenets of faith are most frequently communicated further alienate abuse victims from God and cause victims to remain victimized.

Obedience and Authority

In most evangelical churches, there is a strong emphasis on obedience to God. In more fundamentalist churches, obedience, authority, and headship are interconnected: God is the ultimate authority; the husband is the spiritual head of the home; the wife and children are to defer to the authority of the husband/father; and as the spiritual head of the household, the husband/father speaks for God.

Implications of hierarchy have kept more women and children in life-threatening situations than almost any other doctrinal teaching. It reinforces the notion that abuse by the husband/father is caused by wrongdoings of the wife and/or children who provoked his anger and discipline. This is precisely how abusers, and many Christians who don't understand the dynamics of abuse, portray it. Scriptural misrepresentation and selective use of Scriptures by abusers further reinforce this scenario. Abusers make the rules and proclaim the rules to be God's, so questioning the rules or the abuser's authority equals questioning God. Victims don't want to be out of God's will, so they submit…as they are told the Scriptures require of them.

Obedience to—and compliance with—this hierarchy of authority also serve to make victims vulnerable to abuse from authority figures outside the family (teachers, policemen, clergy, etc.). Remember: domestic abuse is never about anger or discipline. It's always about power and control.


Forgiveness is vital in its proper context, but somehow the message of forgiveness has been horribly distorted. We're overly focused on praying for our enemies and forgiving those who hurt us whether or not there is any change in actions or behavior. This teaching causes abuse victims to believe the apologies of their abusers and their professions that the abuse won't happen anymore. With abused children, it reinforces that they're powerless and that God requires them to love and forgive the people who are hurting them, regardless of whether there has been intervention or justice. Christians too frequently want to hurry forgiveness along. For abuse victims, forgiveness may take a lifetime…if it happens at all. Actually, I don't believe pure evil requires forgiveness in order for a victim of abuse to experience full healing.

It's certainly true that in its proper context, forgiveness is often more powerful and healing for the forgiver than for the one forgiven. Our inability to forgive gets in the way of our relationship with Christ. Unfortunately, when abuse victims search themselves and find they're unable to forgive, it only heightens their shame and feelings of alienation from and unacceptability to God. When abuse victims are made to feel that the only way they can experience healing is to forgive their abusers, and when well-meaning Christians try to usher that process through, the damage to the abuse victim's relationship with God is devastating. Rather than preaching forgiveness to the abuse victim, we should leave that process up to Jesus.


Young women are still taught (at the very least, it's implied) that men have uncontrollable sexual desires, and that Christian females are not to dress or act in a way that would cause their Christian brothers to stumble—i.e. to inspire lust. This means, of course, that if advances are made, young women have brought it on themselves. The truth is that at some point during or after the abuse, all abuse victims have been made to believe that abuse is their fault at some point during or after the abuse. With female sexual abuse victims, this teaching about lust, implied or stated, strongly underscores the belief that they've somehow brought about their own abuse.

Often, overly provocative attire or behavior in females may be an indicator of having been inappropriately sexualized at an early age or at the present time. The opposite is also true; a female going out of her way to be dowdy and unattractive may be trying to desexualize herself because she's internalized that being sexually attractive is what caused her violation.

Sexual Purity

Emphasis on sexual purity and abstinence is a huge issue for sexual abuse victims. We tout virginity as a hallmark of young people's devotion to God. What does that say to abuse victims who may well have been virgins before they were abused? They weren't devoted enough—if they'd just loved God a little more, this wouldn't have happened? Victims often internalize that they have "fornicated" and are no longer able to proclaim their devotion to God, and therefore when the abuse continues or another abuser comes along, they think they deserve it.

Childhood sexual abuse victims have extreme guilt over their "participation" in the abuse. Often they're carrying tremendous shame over the fact that there were some aspects of it that they enjoyed. Some of it (especially with young children) felt pleasurable or made them feel loved and special, which only heightens their shame and sense of God's rejection once they're old enough to understand what's been happening and come face to face with their abuse. A young teen who's beginning to explore his or her sexuality and sexual attractiveness may feel severe guilt when an adult comes along who exploits those feelings, and perhaps the teen enjoys some of his or her own response (i.e., feeling grown up, perhaps experiencing orgasm, perhaps even thinking he or she is "choosing" to have sexual relations with an adult).

When abuse gets reframed as something the victims caused, participated in by "choice," or enjoyed on some level—and then they hear that their virginity is synonymous with their devotion to God—the implications to a victim's current and future faith are staggering. It's not that we shouldn't encourage sexual purity and abstinence, but we must be aware that there are kids in our groups who are hearing this with different ears, and the concept of "secondary virginity" doesn't cut it—especially if they're in active sexually abusive situations, and often even if the sexual abuse is "in their past."

Forgiveness for choosing to have sexual relations with one of their peers is much easier to comprehend than forgiveness for having unwanted (or "wanted") sexual relations with an adult who has convinced them they somehow invited it, or that they brought it upon themselves. And make no mistake—there are plenty of teen-aged children who think they are "choosing" to "love" the adult who is abusing them. Those adults are predators. I don't care how grown up and sexual children appear to be or how vocal they are about "choosing" to be sexual with that adult. It is adult-to-child sexual abuse. Period.


Sometimes God requires us to suffer: God is chastising us, teaching us something, or testing our faith; one day, we'll understand our suffering and all will be turned to good.

To abuse victims, this teaching reinforces the notion that their suffering is caused by unconfessed sin in their lives, and as soon as they discover what that sin is and confess it, the suffering will cease. Or, it reinforces the notion that God calls them to "remain and endure" in order for their suffering to be rewarded, to discover its hidden meaning, or to prove their faith in God.

Be extremely careful. Imagine if victims in your group hear that the suffering they are experiencing is just "part of life, part of God's plan," or that they're lacking faith, but that their suffering will somehow turn out to be for the good of the Kingdom or the glory of God if only they are steadfast.


We're taught that God is bigger than every problem; there's nothing outside of God's power; Jesus can fix all that's broken and awry in our lives; a loving God cares deeply for us, about every hair on our heads.

The ramification of this is the ultimate source of abuse victims' deepest spiritual brokenness and rage. Why doesn't God protect or rescue me? Why didn't God hear my prayers; weren't they good enough? Maybe there is no God. I guess my faith isn't strong enough. Maybe I've already gone to hell. Where was God when this happened to me? God obviously didn't or doesn't care enough about me, otherwise why would this be allowed to happen to me and to my family? For abuse victims, these questions are never answered.


When abuse victims/survivors hear "It doesn't matter what you've done…" it immediately gets translated into "It doesn't matter what your abuser has done." Be careful. Grace can be a powerful ally in helping abuse victims, or it can be just another stone around their necks.

. . . . .

The emotional, behavioral, and spiritual outcomes of the misrepresentation of these tenets can be dire. They include depressive or dissociative disorders, suicide or murder, substance abuse, promiscuity, other high-risk behavior, ultra-conservative religious beliefs, or simply walking away from God. And sometimes our misguided responses only add to the list:

We Ignore It

We're much too quick to believe the denial, the cover up, the retraction, or the profession that it's been straightened out. Abusers always deny, apologize, and cover it up if someone gets close to sniffing it out.

We Make Uninformed or Naïve Assumptions

We assume that the best help for families in trouble must come from Christian counselors, Christian books, and Christian education; otherwise, essential elements of faith may be compromised. The hard truth is that it's much more important for people to get good counseling that it is for them to get Christian counseling.

We Confront

Don't make the fatal (and it really could be) mistake of trying to "talk to" suspected abusers yourself. Abuse gets worse if the victim tells. The abuse goes further underground, and victims are driven to recant. If you confront abusers, they'll cut you off from their children. They may even get you fired. Or they'll withdraw, disappear, and take their families with them. And their children will be worse off than before.

We're Simplistic or Superficial

We nobly "respect confidentiality" and try to help the people deal with the problem in secrecy. Sometimes we give both victims and their abusers simplistic answers: claim the victory, accept Jesus, and turn your life over to him; you're a new person in Christ; it's all under the blood; the slate is washed clean; you're born again; you can start again today. Abusers are notorious for claiming "life change," only to repeat the abuse.

We Believe in Total Immersion

We take the role of rescuer and jump in whole hog without stopping to realize how long the long haul can be. Abuse victims are terribly needy and often very draining. If we're not careful, before we know it, we burn out and abandon ship. Ultimately, this can be worse than if we'd done nothing at all.

. . . . .

More Appropriate Responses

So what can we do? Stop shying away from the issue. We have to find opportunities to raise the issue in our sermons, lessons, conversations, and group prayer times. Abuse victims aren't likely to trust someone enough to share their situations unless the issue has been raised repeatedly. It has to become part of the regular topics you're already teaching and addressing, such as: sex, love, dating, marriage, sin, forgiveness, divorce, parents and family, self esteem, and the will of God.

You can also help this along by appealing to your senior pastor to address the issue from the pulpit, and by finding out if there are opportunities for your youth group to volunteer at shelters or crisis centers. If not (and there are usually safety and confidentiality reasons for this), then incorporate domestic violence shelters into your food/clothing/toiletries drives. In any way possible, let your kids know that this is a very real issue, and one with which you are concerned.

We have to get educated enough to recognize abuse's subtle symptoms in our kids and their families. Educate yourselves as thoroughly as possible. It would be disastrous to get you fired up to address this issue before you have a network in place. Contact your local social services and domestic violence agencies. Find out what kind of training is available.

Check out your local Child Protective Services agency. Meet with a CPS worker for coffee periodically and develop a relationship with one or more workers in case you need them. Find out which therapists they think are particularly skilled at dealing with abuse victims and go talk to them. Introduce yourself to your service agencies and begin a dialogue. Begin building a bridge between your church and social services. Offer to be on call for kids in shelters who have questions about God. Consider starting a foster program or a shelter within your church. Buy books on the subject, read up on abuse wherever you can, learn the dynamics of the cycle, and go online and research. Learn what the laws are in your state about mandated reporting and what happens when you do. Also find out what happens if an abuser is reported to law enforcement. What are the criteria for arrest?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Animals - Don't let me be misunderstood!

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 1:01 PM

who suggested this song, writes: "I've always heard the lyrics of this blues-rock classic as a violent man's weaselly apologies to his abused girlfriend. You may disagree, it's a bit ambiguous."

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I feel real bad.

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry
And then you're bound to see my other side

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy, I want you to know,
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has its problems, and I get my share,
And that's one thing I never mean to do

'Cause I love you,

Oh, oh, oh, baby - don't you know I'm human
I have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I find myself, Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some little simple thing I've done

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dry Bones Can Live Again

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:25 PM

Dry Bones Can Live Again
Dana Nelson

Link to SourceEzekiel 37:1-14 (NRSV): The Valley of Dry Bones
37 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.
In Nicaragua, in a small pueblo, a group of women got together regularly to study the Bible and have discussion and pray together. Over time their level of trust in one another grew deep, and they talked openly in their Bible study group about their daily joys and their struggles. They found that among their group, some of them had a similar problem in common- domestic violence- reoccurring incidents of abuse in their home. One woman said that for a long time she had felt too ashamed to tell anyone about the abuse in her home, but now she realized that she was not alone.
Incidentally, a man in their little pueblo was abusing his son. The small houses were close together and at times it was possible for the neighbors to hear the angry father shouting at his son, and beating him with his belt. So the women’s Bible study group made a plan. One evening when the beating started, the women quickly gathered together and went to the house of this man. They came with pots and pans and metal spoons. And surrounded the violence in this little house and all together in unison they started clanking on their pots and pans. CLANK CLANK CLANK, Clanking the metal pans together and making a big racket, so that the man came out of his house, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” And one of the women in the group spoke up, “Stop beating your son!” The man slammed his door closed again, went back into his house of dry bones, even more angry and defensive, picked up his belt again to hit his son. CLANK! CLANK! CLANK! Again went their metal pots and pans. A Holy noise. A RATTLING, like a rattling of dry bones assembling. The man opened the door again, face flushed, belt in hand, he shouted, “Get out of here, this is my son!”- but the women stood firm and answered back, “This is our community.”
Here in our community, Minnesota, at least 14 women and 10 children were murdered in 2003 as the result of domestic violence. Nationally, in the whole United States more than 3 women are killed every day by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. Over 1.7 million workdays are lost each year due to domestic violence. Employers lose between $3 billion and $5 billion dollars every year in absenteeism, lower productivity, high turn-over, and health and safety costs associated with battered workers. About 90-95% of domestic violence victims are women, but men are victims too. And each year millions of children are exposed to violence by family members. Violence doesn’t discriminate. People of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner. Domestic violence affects over 20% of all marriages.1
Domestic abuse wears people down. It wears us down to the bone. It is corrosive. Victims, abusers and concerned friends alike, it wears us down to the bone. Sucks the life out of us. Until we find ourselves in the middle of the valley, a valley that is very, very dry, and it’s full of bones.
Oh mortal, can these bones live? Listen to the writing of the prophet Ezekiel.
Oh dry bones! Hear the Word of the Lord! And suddenly, there was a noise. Can you hear it? A rattling, and the bones came together. Bone to its bone. And the Lord laid sinews on them and caused flesh to come upon them, and covered them with skin, and put breath in them and they stood on their feet! A vast multitude. An army of the Lord.
Elie Wiesel, who wrote the book Night about Nazi concentration camps, and received a Nobel peace prize. Elie Wiesel, who is a survivor of the Holocaust, said that Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones bears no date, because every generation needs to hear it in its own time, to hear that these bones can live again.
For a year, I worked at a safe home for battered women and their children. It was, still is, a small house in St. Paul, where women can stay, for a few days, or up to a month, to escape domestic violence. In some cases, the women have endured emotional or physical abuse for many years, and it has gotten to the point where they could not longer endure it, and so they leave. I answered the crisis line, I helped women get settled in, and while they stayed there, they had to make some giant adjustments in their lives of finding an apartment to move into, of finding a job that paid enough to support her and her children on her own, and so on. Some, in that short month, had to get their own car, or learn to drive, to acquire furniture. It was very stressful, and to some it seemed impossible. Angry and sad, life was turned upside down. And women asked the question, “How can I make sense of this mess?”
I want to tell you about one woman who stayed there. I will call her Veronica. The day she and her children moved out of the safe home, we also got a call of another woman with children who urgently needed safety. So I went upstairs to Veronica’s old room to sweep it out, put clean sheets on the bed for the new family who would come. As I swept with a broom under the bed, found a notebook that Veronica had forgotten to pack. It was an old spiral notebook, with the cardboard cover ripped off from wear and tear. I stopped sweeping for a moment and I picked it up. I didn’t mean to read it, but there, on the page facing me, written in large, neat handwriting, in pencil, Veronica had written a prayer: “Look to the horizon. Thank you Our Father for food and air. Thank you Father for our life.”
Look to the horizon. Listen, Can you hear it? A rattling. Bones are coming together, and flesh coDomestic Violence is more than physical or sexual assault. It is about power and control over another person in a relationship, that can involve a whole pattern or cycle of behavior that is controlling- like using intimidating looks or gestures; blaming; putting a person down and making them feel bad about themselves. This is verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. Preventing the person from getting or keeping a job, forcing financial dependence; it can mean isolating a person from their family and friends, controlling where they can go, what they can do, who they can see.
My grandma Nelson lived in the country near Litchfield in Minnesota. She lived her entire life on a farm. She came to visit us here in the city, and I was telling her about domestic violence, about what I was learning in college, that not so many decades ago women were practically considered a man’s property, it wasn’t even against the law for a man to hit his wife! I told her I was working in the safe home, in the domestic violence shelter, where women could go for safety. And she said, “Oh good, honey.” She nodded knowingly, and her face was very serious, like she was remembering something. I didn’t know my grandma knew about domestic violence. Grandma, from a little Scandinavian town of 300 people. “Oh, yes” she nodded. She knew of a lady in an isolated farmhouse, down the gravel road from her, whose husband would drink and then beat her, and grandma felt powerless to do anything about it. “Oh that’s so good you’re doing that work, dear.” Grandma knows it’s important.
Every generation needs to hear Ezekiel’s vision that the valley of dry bones can come to life. A vast multitude can assemble, and put an end to the isolation, and the fear, and the violence. Dry bones, listen to the Word of the Lord! We are born children of a fallen humanity. (Fallen). But through WATER, (not through dryness but through) the waters of baptism we are reborn children of God. We are God’s children! And joined tomes upon them, and breath goes into them, and they stand in a vast the death AND RESURECTION – to the rising up of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who dwelt among us full of grace and truth. The Word that causes new flesh to come upon our old bones, and breaths Spirit into us. The Spirit that frees us to live.
Fighting in families, name calling, intimidating or belittling the people we love, jealousy- it sucks the life out of us, it dries us up, corrodes away our flesh, until we are only bones. The whole valley of us suffer from this- because domestic abuse is common. – and it is hidden, so even here in our churches people are suffering from this ongoing reality in their homes, who are afraid to tell people about it, afraid to tell the church or even tell a friend, because it could put them in danger or because they are ashamed. Jesus Christ died for you! If you are hurting someone you love, you are strong enough to get help. Find someone who will help you by holding you accountable. If you are being abused, or if you suspect a friend or family member is being abused, use the telephone and call a domestic violence program to discuss how you can help them in the safest way possible. You don’t have to face this alone. Hope and change is on the horizon.
Oh Dry Bones! Let us come together in our brokenness, to hear the word of the LORD, to be set free from bondage of sin and death.
5 Thus says the Lord GOD: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” Amen.
1 (source Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women)

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