Wednesday, November 04, 2009

YOU can only change YOURSELF, but is that what they are really saying?

Posted by Hannah at 9:35 AM or some people use recently had one of their Administrator's post an article in the marriage section.  The article was called, "Domestic Violence within the Church: The Ugly Truth".  The article speaks of what most Christians would feel is a myth about domestic violence within the church walls.

A portion of the article read:
George sites a survey in which nearly 6,000 pastors were asked how they would counsel women who came to them for help with domestic violence. Twenty-six percent would counsel them the same way Marleen's pastor did: to continue to "submit" to her husband, no matter what. Twenty-five percent told wives the abuse was their own fault—for failing to submit in the first place. Astonishingly, 50 percent said women should be willing to "tolerate some level of violence" because it is better than divorce.
To say that some were stunned by the results is understatement.  I can't blame them, because to be honest I would have felt the same way years ago.  If I had NOT experienced this myself I doubt very much I would have believed such a statement.  If you think about it WHERE is the common sense behind the advice that so many pastors do indeed give?

For myself, that was one of the contradictions within the church during my early days that made me so confused.  They would tell me, "You can't change a person, because can only change yourself." 

I do believe that statement, but the results from the survey that was presented show their actual beliefs go in the opposite direction.  Why?  When you tell others to permit themselves to be abused or submit more, because it maybe something you did to cause the abuse?  It states I can indeed change the other person with my behavior.

'If I submit more I would not be abused?'

They can tell you that is NOT what they meant, but if you look at it clearly?  THEY ARE SAYING JUST THAT!

The church states the world refuses to take responsibility for their own actions, and yet at the same time they are hand them excuses over to use!  You can change the fact you were abused by (insert excuses).

Does this counsel ask the abuser to take responsibly for own their actions when tell their partner to act NICER so they don't get abused?  No.  It tells the abused party since they were not nice they got what they asked for. 

Again they will say that ISN'T what we are saying!  Their pride is now hurt, and human nature will tend to get in the way at this point.  I guess their counsel sounds 'spiritual' to them, but it lacks common sense if you understand the dynamics of the relationship.  Do they think they can 'spiritualize' the relationship dynamics or something?  

Can you apply the same if your spouse was say a thief?  If you submitted more to them maybe they would stop stealing?  What if they molest children?  What if they like to manipulate and deceive others to get what they want?  Is submission to those parties going to guarantee their change?  I realize some people will use scripture to say you can change others with your chaste behavior.  What if the abuser is a female?  I guess the man is out luck huh?

I personally think they have an issue with being told they are wrong.  You notice they always seem to get tongue tied when it comes to this issue?  They get defensive and state we are trying NOT to listen them on purpose.  We bought into feminist theology.  lol that's always a hot button phrase huh?

Human nature happens within the church, and I think at times its easier just to stay in their bubble instead.  When they look to the world they can speak of all the abuses that are out there, and how sad is the sin of the world.  How you need to be careful of evil people!   When they look to the family?  Someone caused the abuse to happen.  Could it be that we have issues with their double standards?  I mean sin does happen within the church NO?!

I recently was reading an article about pastoral counseling, and christian counseling.  My browser window failed me, and lost the article completely.  I was disappointed, because the article I was reading made alot of sense.  It speaks about the amount of training that most pastor's get for counseling people.   I think we all realize they have to get some, but it clearly isn't enough.  How could it be?  If you look at professionals that do this for a living?  They don't get their certificate for their services after one semester of work.  For some reason the church feels I guess that the Holy Spirit will come upon them, and they would be granted this gift of knowledge without the true training.  I wonder if they would be quick to say the holy spirit would allow them to do brain surgery as well huh?  If you speak with pastors about the training they received?  Most of them will tell you they don't get training in domestic violence, or if they do?  Its not covered very well.

Now if you look at the survey again does it show us that enough training happens in most cases?  No! 

If you go to any faith board online, read websites or blogs, or maybe even speak of a person at church ... what do they do most of the time?  They tell you to approach the Pastor or Clergy within the church.  The clergy are given a burden they clearly are not capable of handling.  Its not a cut down either.  Its reality.

Those with no true training in alot of areas, or lets just say NOT ENOUGH are asked to counsel on issues they don't know enough about!  People rely on clergy to help families in trouble, and they just plain don't have the capacity to do so.  We all may have gifts when it comes to certain areas, but most people in everyday life would struggle with what to do about emotional abuse and verbal abuse for example.  If you read people's comments about the 'lists' you find online about the traits of domestic violence they don't even understand them.  When you get remarks about screaming on the list you get statements like: "I yelled at my child yesterday before they placed their hand on the stove.  Are you saying NOW I'm abusive for doing so?"

I doubt very much training for domestic violence is the only area they not received enough help in.  You do have clergy that will admit they can't deal with certain situations, and have resources for those they feel can help.  Then you have pastors like John Piper that actually speak about abuse within the home, and state how they should take verbal abuse for a season or a smack one night.  When I look at how clueless these people are ...sigh!  They don't even realize they are NOT the safest party to go to for HELP!  The message the church sadly does encourage.

Here are some comments about the article itself:

I have found a huge lack of help in the counseling area at church. The counselors have no personal experience in the area or they are just lay people willing to listen. Giving someone bad advice like "just go home a be subservient to your husband" is something I've been told, too. I wish the body of Christ and churches would get real and realize that sin still occurs within the church even though we are Christians. We don't like to admit it but we are all still plagued with this ugly thing called sin. Just because you become a Christian doesn't mean you are cured of all of your sin. Not dealing with it and throwing scripture and a bunch of rules at people without helping them in a more tangible way is basically doing what the Pharisees did in Christ's time.
 Do they realize they look like Pharisees?  Here is the next comment...
The article doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I've been at CW long enough to see the overwhelmingly disproportionate emphasis on female submission, female servility, quite honestly, in sex, finances, home decisions, everything. If women wear enough baggy clothes, keeps her mouths shut and supports her husband, no matter what he does, then she is right by God.

 and the next...
The article doesn't surprise me either.

America has an entire religious industry of books, political hacks, traveling road shows, heretics, charlatans, seminars, women's groups, bible studies, magazines, pod casts, clothing lines, hairstyles, web sites, DVD sales, flashcards, calendars created for the express submission and control of women.

The escalating level of misogyny supported or tolerated in religious circles is disgusting.
 LETS not forget about the biblical roles, and how human nature is regarding some that use this biblical role  to corrupt!
And remember, where men hold total power in a church, they are far more likely to emphasis the duty of a woman and the power of being male. Some men will act as servant-leaders, and some will become corrupted by unlimited power, that's just human nature.
 Can you imagine if you asked your Pastor to resign?
First, with thinking like that, a lot of these pastors should simple resign. I could not live with all of that blood on my hands if someone followed my advice and died from the result of it. What do I say on judgment day?!

Secondly, this response from 6000 pastors is very alarming. We are not talking a sample of only 100 ministers. 6000 is a very, very large number.

Thirdly, did it ever occur to some of these pastors that perpetrators of spousal abuse are extremely prone to abuse children in many ways?!

I don't think pastors realize in time they may have blood on their hands.  They are expected to COUNSEL with little training, and I don't understand why they can't admit that.  Its okay!  If you feel you need to get more than ASK the church to support you in that area!  Do we place clergy in a position that they feel uncomfortable with doing so?  I wonder if that is part of it!

I would be extremely suspicious of any pastor I found was given such advice to a battered woman. Maybe he hits his wife too! Why else would he want to protect a known offender and place a woman/family in such danger.

I first heard of this nonsense a while ago when I started to move around the country (U.S.). I was brought up in Pentecostal and Evangelical churches that one would say are very traditional and conservative. Yet I was quite shocked and surprised by this twisted perversion of scripture. My parents had been aware of it but they said they did not know any preacher in the Diocese that thought that way since the 1950's.

This was because something went horribly wrong to a family after a woman took the advice of a preacher and returned with her family to the abusive addict husband's house. Apparently he found out she had talked to the pastor and became extremely angry at the fact that she was "saying bad things about him". He killed his wife and two children (1 and 3) with a butcher knife. The pastor was fired and from that point on domestic abuse was taken more seriously. Too bad a family had to die for change to happen. Based on the results of that survey, it looks like many more will die.
The above poster would be thrown in the 'extreme' pile, and blown off pretty much.  If you research abuse enough you will realize her example is the reason they need to educate themselves more, or find appropriate sources of help.

Common sense is always not used, and when you bring that up?

I grew up in the Pentecostal movement. If I was to go to my pastor and use term like "common sense" he'd say that I was being humanistic using my out mind to understand God's word. He'd also say I lacked a circumcised mind and too many Christians use terms like "common sense" when making decisions.

I have noticed when you bring up secular help the church tends to scream about feminism.  How they will just talk you into 'breaking up the family'.  These places don't 'respect' our beliefs about the 'head' of the family.  If you look at their responses can they say THEY do??  It seems to me they don't respect either of them, and at least secular resources will attempt to help.

It is really sad that there are secular groups/ non Christian people who are showing Christ's downtrodden abused children more compassion, love, and mercy than the church is. We really need to think about that. Does it make any sense for these pastors to sit on their self righteous self created islands while nonbelievers are doing the work of the church? Anyone who is okay with that should hang their heads in shame.

If the church would step back, and humble themselves enough to listen to what is being said?  They would realize they should hang their heads in shame.   The bible indeed speaks about biblical roles, but it also speaks against violence of every type.  It speaks about helping the oppressed, and to bring the oppressor to repentance.  The survey that was conducted shows clearly that neither party will be brought to healing if submission in the women's case or 'man up' for men doesn't change.  These aspects have nothing to do with WHY this happens, and as they mentioned, 'you can't change a person - you can only change yourself'.  Changing yourself won't change the party that abuses!  They need HELP in that area!

Lack of submission and not being a MAN has nothing to do with WHY they are abused.  Lack of knowledge when it comes to counsel towards abused parties is one aspect as to why it continues in some cases. It also shows their arrogance to think being insulting would change anything.  The term I have always used for this belief?  

Its spiritual pixie dust.  Its imaginary help that isn't a reality. 

The church is quick to condemn those that don't do as they feel they should to show their 'christian' beliefs, but they never think about the lack of training and spiritual pixie dust to see they could be part of the problem.

If people can figure that out from looking at survey results?  If you look at the comments you can see this needs to be reexamined.  We need to stop sending people to others with lack of training and knowledge, and then expect them to help bring the prized results.  Pastors are quick to mention we must look at all scripture, and not just parts of it.  Why then do they do that when it comes to violence within the home?

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