Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Does your church feel safe to you?

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

I was pleased today when I found an article on CBMW about Defenders of Women.  It speaks of the insecurity that some women feel about approaching the church when they truly need help.  When they truly need to be validated, and supported.  One of the stories within the article showed how legalistic people can be, and pretty much throws common sense to the wind.
After several years of being battered, I was finally divorced from my husband. I began attending a church and became a Christian. When I talked to the pastor about church membership, his major concern seemed to be whether I had obtained a "scriptural" divorce.

He did not tell me how glad he was that I had managed to stay alive; or how brave I had been to protect my children all those years by deliberately bringing my husband's wrath down on my head whenever I saw him heading for one of my children. He didn't tell me how great it was that I had finally found the courage to leave.
To be honest with you?  I don't understand this.  You are talking to someone that has just escaped a dangerous circumstance, and his first priority was it make sure her escape to safety was scriptural?  Seriously!  That makes no sense to me!

Do you know WHAT that says to people?  My grace towards your situation is conditional upon a couple MORE questions from YOU!  I realize you mentioned you and your children were terrified, but I need to make sure you did this right first! 

I do know there are men that have been in circumstances that scared them to death as well, but I guess there isn't enough of them out there or something. 

I wonder if they pictured themselves living with school yard bully they grew up with, and NOT having their parents (or support system) there to protect them while LIVING with this person would have it make more sense to them.

Picture YOU are the boy in the green shirt in the picture!

Lets say you go the principal of that school, and complain that you want to transferred elsewhere!  You are scared and feel uneasy due to the fact he beat you up last night, and terrorized you during breakfast.  The principal looks at the you and says, "I have a couple of questions for you son to make you qualify for a transfer.  Did you do anything to egg this boy on?  Were you EXTRA nice, and even TRY to make friends?  Did you have a look on your face, or have sarcasm in your voice?  I'm going to have to talk with him as well to get his side of the story.  We all know there are two sides to everything.  Come back next week to talk with me again.  In the meantime TRY to be on your best behavior, and MAKE this work!  We all know 'boys will be boys', and maybe your just need to toughen up a bit as well.  We have the strictest of conditions that need to be met before we can transfer you.  You stating you are scared of him only tells me maybe you didn't try hard enough to be friends.  Why don't you go back to class, and think about what I said!"

NOW as a small boy, and NOT as the man you are today HOW would this make you feel?  

You know SOON as that principal gets done talking to him that he will come home ready for retaliation.  You can 'be nice' but is that going to stop the bully from punching you again?  Or will he just pick you up and place your head in toilet?  How about destroy your things?  Mock and ridicule you for being a pansy?

WHY would that NOT be okay, and yet the response from the pastor IS?

What he wanted to know was whether or not my former husband had actually hit me and who it was that began divorce proceedings. As soon as I assured him that my former husband had discarded me like an old shoe just as soon as it was clear to him that I was no longer willing to be a puppet suspended upon strings of fear, my pastor's face cleared and he told me that, since my unbelieving husband was the one who instigated the divorce, I was free to serve God even in my divorced state. My stomach twisted into a knot. I realized that if I had been a member of my church at the time I actually left my husband, I might not have been given the kind of advice I most needed ... namely, get out of there and don't look back! I wanted to weep. My pastor is a wonderful, compassionate man. He cares deeply for his people ... even the women. I have to assume that his response was born of ignorance.

It is ignorance. Susan Hunt wrote the article stating the church needed women to be the go between for the church leaders, because I guess they can't relate to this at all.   Its sad to think that men need women in the fashion, because they completely miss the point of the danger right in FRONT OF FACE!  Where is the common sense there?  How is that the LEAST bit rational???

You know what that tells me?  You hear leadership speak of roles, and how God placed it out there THIS WAY.  They seem to be concentrating to MUCH on how we are different due to gender, but to never truly attempting to understand the differences relationally.  I have heard many pastors state 'how women are'.  They can't be all that knowledgeable in those areas regarding 'how women are' if stories like this happen.  They are to be protectors of the weaker vessel, and yet the system is set up in a way that intimidates them.  I hope the next study or book they write is around that 'red flag'.

She spoke of another lady that had to go and face a room full of elders before the church could make a decision support her welfare, and before she went INTO that room she completely feel to pieces. She was scared to death to face them.  HOW will I prove my case?  How do I act?  What do I say?  How do I answer?  Her entire world as she sees it is dependent on a bunch of men that want her to come to court, and prove her case.  THEY like the pastor mentioned prior first priority is in the complete opposite direction of where it should be.  I guess they don't realize its seen as her pain is frivolous to them.  They can CLAIM that is not what they mean to do, but unless you do something to change it?  She is going to feel it.  When she leaves if she doesn't prove her case to their satisfaction, and sends her on her way with a 'We will pray for you!' only?  She is not going to feel safe in this environment.  Men deciding she is just acting like the stereotypical 'silly and emotional' woman, instead of going the extra mile to understand WHY she is scared?  To me it shows lack of discernment.

Some men have this awesome gift of realizing when they need to show compassion and empathy.  They realize they need to find a way of placing this woman at ease, and make her feel safe.  They truly make an effort to understand WHERE she is coming from, and are able to work around what makes her feel the safest.   

It seems to me that most men are approaching these women in times of need like they are MEN instead of women. 

In doing so they completely miss the BENEVOLENT RESPONSIBILITY of leadership they claim must be present for men.  They are not providing the protection they state is needed towards women in ways that they can feel protected.  It seems to me like a one size fits all.  It works for us men, so it must work for the women as well.  We are different remember?  I honestly think they may not have stopped to think about that.  I know we all giggle about our differences, but it sounds like they might have forgotten to take that extra STEP!

I thought the last portion of her article was worth repeating:

  • Church members should be taught that injustice is sin and that submission does not mean that a woman must submit to the sin of abuse. Women should understand that it is wrong for a wife to enable a husband to continue sinful practices. She has a responsibility to him to take this to her pastor and to the elders of her church.
Making church a safe place is not a safe thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. It takes courage, and I am not courageous. The only reason I have been able to speak and write about this is because God has called me to do it and because some of His daughters surround me with prayer. When I think of those brave women whose letters I have shared with you, Isa 62:1 burns on my heart:
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.
We must speak for the victims, the fatherless, the needy, the afflicted who have no one to help. But notice, we do not do it just for them: We do it for Zion's sake, for Jerusalem's sake. We do it for the sake of God's church. We do it so that the King of the church will not be appalled, but will be honored.
I have to ask does the following statement sound SAFE to abused women when spoken from a church leader?  Remember the PICTURE as well!

Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

You see from the prospective of abused women within the church?  That is along the same lines as the statements from the principal I gave above about the bully.

When you turn the woman away with these types of statements - the pastor is taking sides with the abuser.

You are not safe when we hear things like this.  Learn to endure the sin for a season, and maybe even endure a slap - THEN we will help?  Did no one think that MAYBE that was little late?  We were scared when we asked your advice to abused women, and you stated endure ... does that make you safe?  When you are hurting and scared does this sound like words to protect with?  If this is BENEVOLENT RESPONSIBILITY you seriously need to look at it again.  There truly isn't anything benevolent about it.  If they are asking - someone is scared chances are!  WHY tell them to endure a little, and then come back?  Something tells you aren't partnering with women that can help you relate.

Why place something on a website as advice, and then don't bother using it?  That doesn't make you safe.  It shows you say one thing, and do another!

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JaneDoeThreads on 7:13 PM said...

Hannah that would have been it for me, the minute he would ask me such,

I would have been out the door and Never looked back. I am so sorry you had to go through this Unnecessary judgment and condemnation. But I understand the lack of 'knowledge of one's sinful nature' that causes so many to be that way--its sad.

But understanding doesn't take away the frustration and rage when hearing testimonies like this, and it is why, I don't open up when I go to church and I keep people at arms distance, I observe first, if I don't see fruit, I don't tell, and its funny, it doesn't take that long to discern true 'love' and religious emperor's clothes.

The issue I think, really is that the church Needs to stop glorifying misogyny and violence to women as some kind of Twisted 'martyrdom' for Christ, because it is NOT the same as one suffering for doing the Work of Christ [persecution, etc] but for TOO long, the men/churches-hegemony have been Hiding and Justifying male abuse, under those pretexts, deliberately neglecting the part where it says,

to suffer According to God's Will, to take it patiently, etc. Abusing women by husbands and men raping is NOT according to God's Will, evidence of this I saw once more this morning,

in the story of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, when he told the midwives to 'kill' the sons and they Feared God and disobeyed. It later says, God rewarded these midwives [who lied to the Pharaoh as well telling him that the Jewish women gave birth fast] with families of their own for protecting the babies,

NOW if THAT had been God's Will, He is the Same, Yesterday and Forever, He would have chastised those midwives for interfering and having compassion. We see it was the opposite, it wasn't God's will/desire for genocide and violence to women and Especially at birth--it was Satan's will. Spare the females and kill the sons, because the females were used as sex slaves.

Folks need to get in the Word and find out WHO God is, and learn what Iniquity is and what Mercy is, too many, are applauding iniquity and human right abuses and like the officers who killed at the Nuremberg trials, do they think, that God will go,

uh huh, you were Just following orders?

I don't think so...

God Hates Violence, especially to women and children and punished leaders and men with DEATH, horrid deaths, in the OT numerous times, and in Malachi, the judgment. Its interesting at the end of the Israel period [when in comparison to the time of the Gentiles that Jesus spoke of, I think its two dialectics, that we, Gentiles are going through the Same evolution/de-evolution that Israel and Judah went though] that Malachi, the judgment to the leaders was their 'tolerance' to the garment of violence, men against the wives of their youth--for treachery. He isn't talking adultery here, he was talking about domestic violence, hate, rape, etc.

Its Serious--and that's the problem today, too many, do NOT fear, the WRATH of GOD, if they did, they wouldn't be beating women, children nor holding their hand when they do so. No way,

but, Jesus said, in end days, woe to those who birth and nurse, that wasn't mothers, that was Women, and I believe, like sin kills earth and life, sin kills women too, sin as in the fullness, of human iniquity, and it is Why, we need to dig in to Jesus more now, than ever,

and repent, of all hate, violence, wrath and malice. Because I do believe, time is running out.



Hannah on 7:37 PM said...

I think time is running out at times as well.

Its hard to believe today that we have to tell churches to hurry up and get with the program. They spiritualize everything way to much. How? If they can't look sin straight in eye and NOT see it for what it is? If they can't firmly call it out without some Pollyanna approach to things all the time? Its sad - but when it comes right now to it they truly aren't worth their weight in salt.

YES Jesus had a caring, humble and loving side to him. That is only PART of his appeal if you will. He was firm when calling out sin, and firm with those that looked to rules only - and basically used NO common sense! Jesus got judged when he healed on the Sabbath from humans, and yet no one rejoiced at the healing...because they were to worried about the 'rule'. He completely transformed someone's life here on earth, and took away the pain and misery when he healed. This person's circumstance wasn't important to the rule keepers, but it was to Jesus. They just saw rules - just like today. Lets not look into the nuts and bolts of why people's lifes are torn apart, and suffering and oppression is there WAY to often. Nope. We have 'rules', and common sense isn't allowed.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus said something to himself like we might have said, "What are they nuts?" lol! I doubt it, but HEY it was a thought! He knew they just don't get it. They just think they do. You can't tell people you are all about Jesus and his compassion - and ignore sins like this. Its a counterdiction.

JaneDoeThreads on 11:38 AM said...

Hannah, I posted this at the CBE scroll but thought I'd let you know too. I don't know what type of readership you have here but I will be doing some serious might be interested, I will let you know when I have the posts up and running.

cross post: “Male Culture–Is it the Jesus Culture”, by Jane [WIP}

I will be writing a series on Male Culture is it Jesus Culture here soon, and I wanted to make mention of it here. Why am I writing this?

After prayer and reflection on the issue of violence against women, the gender role-wars debate, the influence of ‘culture’ kept coming to me, and in prayer I saw numerous things. I do believe the Holy Spirit is leading me here and I believe that this is one main problem that lies at a lot of the root of the problems we are seeing today.

However it is not simply just male culture but there are other influences as well, that I will go into at a later time.

The basis of this thesis is: Colossians 2:6 ”

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Emphasis on the tradition of men and rudiments of the world.

This thesis will NOT be about differences in gender nor gender roles, marriage, etc., but about Western Male Culture and the Scriptural anti-thesis to those rudiments.

The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

I will post excerpts here, as I write, because you have a varied reader-audience as well as on my blog. I will add the link to the essays with each post, so not to clog up space here.

I hope, that you will find some things useful, to refer too, and that it will build up the faith and encourage reflection, to many.

Thank you,

Love, Peace, and Solidarity in God’s Kingdom,


Mara Reid on 11:54 AM said...

Hannah, they are talking about this CBMW article on NLQ. So far they don't like it

Hannah on 3:14 PM said...

I guess I will have to look on NLQ to see what they are saying. lol! Its a heck of alot better than alot of opinions on this realm that have seen in the past from CBMW.

Hannah on 3:15 PM said...

That sounds interesting Jane. I'm looking forward to reading it!

JaneDoeThreads on 11:52 PM said...

Hannah, for some fun, and seriousness, I added your link to a post this evening on my blog, my daughter and I are browsing [looking at sewing blogs] and I LOVE this song, when I get a bit down and discouraged at the misogyny in so many churches, I listen and sing this song, LOL, its to me, like leaving a toxic relationship. It's a secular video, Kelly Clarkson but LOL, well, that song reminds me SO much of the false love in some churches and how I felt when I finally had the courage to walk away.

So, check it out...sometimes it helps to sing you know.

Peace, Jane

oh, blog: 'under Sistas Sometimes Its Better to Walk Away

Hannah on 9:00 AM said...

Yes I find some music say it SO WELL! Actually I have enjoyed some of Kelly Clarkson's music in the past well. "Because of You" I'm sure speaks to alot of children that were neglected when going up!

My kids and I like to put on the music and act SILLY and giggle at times. It helps melt all the stress away, and generally place you in a better mood. My daughter has been listening to some 'older stuff' - you know stuff I grew up with recently? I guess someone talked about it at school, and she wanted to check it out. She was sitting there shocked as I glided by singing the lyrics! "You know this song?" lololol! Then I told her directed her to more.

I had to remind her WHOM do you think turned you on to music to begin with GIRL? Her brother loved that of course, "YEAH!" We like to place the music on when we are cleaning. It tends go to faster!

I agree certain songs do bring up those feelings with you! Dixie Chicks made a song recently, 'not ready to make nice'. It has more to do with what happened to them personally when fans turned on them, but it reminded me of the feelings I had struggling with the realities how the church tries to shut people up. It can be man, women or children - and how nasty they can be if you don't cooperate with the "Holy Hush". How I stepped out in life anyway, because it needs to be talked about. lol and some of the reactions at times when I did were not that nice towards me.

This journey has given me a thicker skin that's for sure!

JaneDoeThreads on 11:21 AM said...

wow Hannah, you know I JUST posted on the persecution of Christian women and other women artists who 'break out of the patriarchal' mold and why I don't like the majority of Christian music [females esp] due to that--and I begin to read my blog list and you mention Dixie Chicks. God confirming to me that I'm not crazy, its sometimes hard to be outside the 'box' and female and Christian isn't it? But in small ways, like just your mention of Dixie Chicks, the Holy Spirit reminds me that I'm not crazy, that what I see/or what irks me is not uncommon and that it's o.k.

I posted just on music today, found a new female artist, who breaks the mold in not just gender way but race too. And a few other music videos, of other female artists who are not well known or who are, a varied list [three videos] and my tastes are a bit eclektic, for sure.

LOL yea I do that too, I show my daughters the videos of 80s music, the whole Retro thing--and they'll say, oh so and so does that song and I say, you mean they Remade that song, where do you Think you got goth and punk and rock from?

On the other hand though, LOL, I see JUST how old I really am, like the Pretty in Pink video I was showing her the other day, like, can't recall actors name but he's like, well, older than me, I think???? And that part of it, like,

when your fav music from teens are looking like retirement then it just Feels weird, or like one says to me, you Know you're getting up there when they play your Teen songs, in Commercials! Ha

But it IS fun isn't it? Looking back, and those Hairstyles! What WE we thinking then?



Hannah on 3:42 PM said...

Tee hee! I have pictures of me with white gogo boots, and hip hugger pants with a flowery shirt! YEP 1960's! What is even funnier is my mother with her beehive hairdo! BLECK! I remember her doing her hair. It seemed like it was 4 feet tall - like Bart Simpson's mom - and then she had hair pieces she used to make it taller! lol and my father with the HUGE sideburns!

JaneDoeThreads on 4:57 PM said...

LOL, and those 'poly type of shiny shirts' men use to wear, remember those? Bwaaa, yea I had a pair of Coke Cola hip huggers, I though they were So coool, and that was in 70s, early, and I remember

Three Dog Night. Think one of the first songs I remember the older teens listening to, my babysitters then. And yea, the 'teased' hair, and All that hairspray, and Orange Lipstick! Its funny how you remember those things. I collect records, early 40s, some way earlier, have a few good ones, from 60s, remember Roberta Flack?

I didn't even know about her until I found the record in trash, someone had threw out tons, including a signed Janis Joplin, now whether its her signature or not, have no idea. But yea, I remember the gogo boots, had a white pair in elementary school and those hotpant suits, the shiny ones. LOL

Though, my mother chopped off my hair so I didn't have enough to tease, so I had to go with the Twiggy look, lol, and later, the Mod Squad.

LOL and Today, my daughter wants that flat, straighten parted in middle hair, I keep telling her, Use an Iron, you don't Need those high dollar straighteners, but WE don't understand.




Anonymous said...

It was a FEMALE pastor that told me 'How dare you!' and 'Shame on you!' when I asked my church for physical help leaving my x-husband since he was not letting me pack and unpacking the few boxes I did manage to pack. She told me those things because it took me 3 1/2 years to prepare financially to leave. She told me those things AFTER I told her it was an abusive relationship. Having a woman vs a man as pastor makes no difference if they are both ignorant.

A few other observations: 1) I always hear the 'God hates divorce' quote, but this quote is in the context of a MAN abusing his wife. 2) At the end of time, 'the love of many will grow cold' I'm convinced that prophecy is also one of the 'off limits' subjects that many will soon have remorse over for not covering.

JaneDoeThreads on 11:57 AM said...

I"it was a FEMALE pastor that told me 'How dare you!' and 'Shame on you!' when I asked my church for physical help leaving my x-husband since he was not letting me pack and unpacking the few boxes I did manage to pack..."
Ditto, Good point and one that is NOT really looked at honestly, this is the ONE main reason, I do NOT support the whole Egal Christian movement Either--it wreaks of too many of the similarities of Betrayals to Women in liberal feminism--this MYTH that Gender Parity will somehow change the patriarchy-misogyny and that women will be better off,


What tends to happen ALL THE TIME is the women who eventually Do get to move up the 'pastor ladder' [same with political] is that they are the ones, though they may not Realize it, who are chosen, because they will be what Mary Daly termed as the Painted Birds--token women,

we see this All the time in confronting women's human rights, in government, military [where one in three women are raped BY fellow soldiers/US fact, case before Pentagon and continuing] and in other leadership positions. Just because there are women in leadership does not make a women's emancipation come to pass--

power corrupts absolutely, what Does happen is a type of assimilation into the 'elitist' power structure, lording it over others, throwing women off the bus so to speak, because once one has theirs, well, to hell with the others...there ARE a FEW EXCEPTIONS to this RULE but they are a FEW...a small minority and THOSE women who do NOT sell out [or those in abolition or emancipation/liberation or reform or human rights, etc--same thing], if they Don't sell out--

they'll be PURGED OUT, soon as the Legion Lords and Bathory Women realize that they cannot 'control' their tokens --

and time after time we see those who believed somewhat, in emancipation, get into those parity positions, only to quickly forget their oppressed class and then they sell their soul

to do evil. Often times it's Money, or Power--Status,

it's a narcotic, a spiritual narcotic, it takes a very dedicated person, to stay true to the cause. So yes, you'll find numerous women pastors, just like women politicians, leaders, who will 'compromise' for the sake of village [what they'll say] when really it's for the sake of maintaining a place in Baal's and Herod's palace--regardless of size, and the ones, the women they Will throw under the bus the most--the quickest, and with out recognition by others

are the invisible marginalized women. The poor, the underclass, the minority ethnic groups, the elderly, etc....

happens All the time. This is why, these groups who work 80% of the time pushing for women in Ministry, really are NOT a friend to women, as much as they are out for Ambition, I'm going to say it,


not for Positions.

No greater love, than to LAY DOWN ONE'S LIFE, FOR THE SISTERHOOD--


so yea, Females, [and there are female traffickers, slave holders, SS police like in Iran who assist in raping other women/girls, etc], can be Just as patriarchal AND EVIL

as men.

Kind of blows that whole angelic 'patriarchal' Madonna purity goddess b.s. out the window doesn't it? And it was Patriarchy and Gender Construct Roles, the Romance of it, the Chivalry LIE

that Created, those Women, those Bathory women--who drink the blood of virgins/innocents/marginalized,

so that They, can stay Young and Virile. Just like the Vampires, they, beware,

spiritual discernment--oh how it is So lacking these days.

Love, in Solidarity,


JaneDoeThreads on 12:02 PM said...

[cont] Oh, how you can tell--real simple,

they will Use, refer to, Misery of women, oppression, but it's only a means to an end, a ticket--Push the envelope a bit further, dare to Turn over the Rock, the Foundation of Patriarchal and Misogynist Infrastructure Oppression, and how yes, Women have assisted and Benefited from [particularly race/class] and their FANGS will come out with a Vengeance--they Also tend to 'water down' horrors, with sweeter sugar coated words,

example, calling FGMs cut flowers [female genital multilation] rather than Castration--which is what FGMs truly are--not a 'cutting'...and they do this, in the 'language of not offending', but TRUTH, does not rejoice in evil--but Confronts evil, Love does not 'join in with oppressors' but works to stop the oppression...

that's how you can tell. The problem is, the abuse of the meanings of Grace, Unity, and Spreading the Gospel [that thrives on the blood sacrifices of women and bodies of women in particular] has so polluted TRUTH in these days--

many simply do not discern the difference anymore, it's gone Gray. And that is why, yes, we will see, MORE women, that will not only side in with patriarchy, they will Police other women--and they'll do it,

in the name of Liberation.

mark my words on will see it More and More.

In solidarity,


Anonymous said...

I sure do wish there were people or an organization out there who would provide mediation for women to their churches, including proposing training for leaders on domestic abuse. Though the woman can leave the church, many times her family is involved there and the opinion of the church can turn her children's hearts against her and to feel sympathy for the abuser (especially if they are not aware of the abuse). Additionally, often friendships have been formed for many years, and the guilt and condemnation that is placed squarely on her head because of the church is extremely hard to take. This is my situation -- no one seems to be able to help me.

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