Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Domestic Violence - I didn't KNOW!

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

Pastor talking about preservation of family
Pastor speaking to member
I have to admit over the years I have heard more comments about the church's reactions AFTER the relationships had been destroyed by domestic violence.  Some have the opportunity to speak with their pastor, and they said to them 'I didn't know!"

I just have to shake my head.

Sadly, about a year ago I remember reading a story about a pastor that decided to truly listen after a victim was killed by the abuser.  I can't even imagine the guilt he must feel, and how that truly shook his world.  He spoke about it, and how he was trained to make sure to keep the 'preservation of family' always in mind.  After the circumstance of murder happened his view on domestic violence within the church changed drastically.

Preservation of Family

Does the church realize that victims of domestic violence also cherish preservation of family? People have this idea in their head that if separation or divorce happens they are a hypocrite for saying such a thing.

It reminds me of the black and white world of the abuser.  Its either my way or the highway.  They don't listen to the dynamics of the abusive relationship, and assume once the abuser places their 'best face forward' they are finally working towards preservation of family.

The victim is normally the one that reaches out for help, and as long as the abuser dances to the music so to speak?  The victim is no longer heard.  I have to admit I wish moving past this abusive dynamic was so easy, and just magically happens.  It would make life for everyone easier huh?

I know people realize that victims cherish the preservation of family, but under certain circumstances it is not politically correct to acknowledge this belief.  That is more truthful whether they want to admit it or not.  They maybe programed to response in certain ways, but the 'church' talk or banter is just that .... TALK!  They are just parroting what was told to them.  Hypocritical?  Your call!

I mean face facts its easier to call the victims hypocrites than to directly deal with the abuser, and then to have the church's harmed when divorce seems to be the only avenue of safety.  Its sad when the image of the church is more important than the family involved.  Another truth about that is they will never acknowledge that fact either.  Its as obvious as the nose on your face, and the whole world sees it!  YET the church tells us we don't see anything.  Talk about gaslighting!

Politics and Image

I have to admit it seems to me that we have turned the 'preservation of family' into more of a political term and an image type of thing compared to what God intended.   They rail against the politicians that use the term 'family values' because they don't back up what they preach. Do they take the log out of their own eye?

It's easy to say that people are not following the Will of God, and rail on about how selfish people are.  To often the church comes across as a group of negative nellies, and all they are capable of doing is screaming 'SINNERS!"  They have a reputation of you either do life the way we present, or we have the right to condemn you.

With all the pressure for preservation of family we tend to gloss over the hurting people within the families.

They can't see the forest for the trees as the saying goes.

If the abuser for example put his best foot forward in church?  People never stop to think that most people aren't always the same behind closed doors.  Now if you have one that was accused of being abusive?  Most are able to use common sense, and realize those personality traits most of the time don't just disappear overnight, or even by next week.

The churches reaction though at times?  Its easier to rely on the saying, "God moves in mysterious ways' or things along those lines.

Do I believe people in the church are that naive?  No.  Sadly, I have to wonder if politics and image are more important.

What is sad is they go by what they are seeing or feeling in front of them, and just assume the victim is lying, deceitful, and just not thinking the best of them!

I was reading Ezekiel 33 today. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ 

It seems today pastors are afraid to stand up firmly against certain issues like domestic violence in the church.  They don't wish to be seen as 'endorsing divorce', because it seems the image of preservation of family is pressuring them to do things a certain way.

When the pressure of 'reconciliation' at all costs is present otherwise the church's image is somehow harmed?  To me the watchman is hindered from blowing the trumpet. I will admit he SHOULD do it anyway, but we clearly see today they don't!

This turns into 'self preservation' instead, and it saddens me that the human politics and image factor is more important than what God would wish to happen.  Its a form of selfishness they never stopped to think about.

Talk the Talk, but Don't Walk the Walk

A reader named Amy commented on one of my posts, and it clearly shows how completely separated from reality that church wishes to be.  They have a choice like everyone else, and they choose to come across as:

Naive - when they aren't
Ignorant - when they have just enough knowledge to know they need more
Claim they are for 'preservation of family' - yet their actions show 'self preservation' of 'image' instead
I finally left that church last summer, but keep in touch with the pastor. Just recently I met with him to keep him up to date on what is happening re: our divorce (I just now filed) he had finally come to realize how my almost-ex had not really changed but was just talking it up. I finally shared with the pastor all that had happened two years ago with the way people from the church had treated me and what had really happened. He simply said, "I didn't know."
Personally?  I think the pastor was being a bit deceitful.  He may have not known all that was happening to Amy, but to say he didn't realize the pressure others were placing upon the family?  I doubt very highly the man is that much of an airhead.

I suppose I could hand him a bit more benefit of the doubt right?  Okay.  So the family saw that the abusive party was talking the talk, but his wasn't doing the walk.  When you have a serious matter like domestic violence within your congregation you don't pay attention?!  Well instead of deceit it could be termed neglectful.  If he can't deal with this directly he should have SOMEONE reporting back to him.  At some time he SHOULD be talking to the family directly as well.  Is it not his responsibility on some level to make sure the family is okay?

Do families leave churches when they are getting the encouragement, and support that is needed?  SURE the negative nellies will say, 'they went someplace else so they can hear what they want to!'  We overuse that excuse so much, and no one stops to think maybe we need to look at ourselves with a bit of humility.  In this case safety, support, validation, etc was needed - why would they leave if they got it?  They wouldn't.  People in REAL trouble aren't going to be as fickle as people tend to label them as.  They leave because its plain as day people aren't hearing them, but instead TELLING them things.

Listening skills is art.  The bible speaks about this in many places, and yet to many people are saying the church doesn't listen.  I agree.  They are also making up all kinds of excuses as to why they aren't.  In Amy's case it sounds like they ignored pleads to understand her circumstance, and instead she was given an image of 'preservation of family' as a response.

Should the church follow up if the family dealing with domestic violence just dropped off the face the earth, and never came back?  Common sense would say you need to find a 'safe' way of doing that due to family dynamics.

I didn't know!

I have to tell you that statement bothered me so much.  I would say most of the time they don't want to know.  I have to wonder if they realize playing that game is sinful.

'Well they asked for forgiveness, and said they repented!  Can't you see they are acting remorseful?'

'They were at the alter call crying their eyes out, and asking God to forgive them!  God would ask you to forgive as well.'

"Forgive and Forget - remember God hates DIVORCE!"

'God would never give up on us, and its a shame you can't do that for your spouse.'

Do pastors not know their congregation are saying such things either?  I don't believe that.  When a pastor says they 'didn't know' to me they are placing humility aside, and putting the others under the bus to take his place so he doesn't get run over.

If they don't know this is what is being said?  What does that say about their leadership skills for picking people to help with the family preservation within the church?

Protection from the abuse is what families need - not excuses. Prayer for the abused, and for the abuser is also a must. God would ask for action, and not "I didn't know!"

If you enjoyed this post and wish to be informed whenever a new post is published, then make sure you subscribe to my regular Email Updates. Subscribe Now!

Thanks For Making This Possible! Kindly Bookmark and Share it:

Technorati Digg This Stumble Facebook Twitter Delicious


shadowspring on 9:35 AM said...

I too think that pastor was being dishonest, with himself at the very least. Didn't know? More like, didn't want to believe it. Convinced himself the wife was exaggerating, that things weren't really THAT bad. Encouraged everyone else to make light of anything they might hear that was less than perfect by his own example of denial and latent misogyny.

The reason I think the way I do is because I have run up against that very wall myself. Friends and family do the same thing: if the social reputation of the abusing man is up-till-then squeaky clean, the woman will automatically be suspected of being overly dramatic. The irony is that the woman is usually very committed to her faith, so much so that she has let her love silence her under the rule "love covers a multitude of sins". It is her commitment to love that has granted her husband a sterling reputation in the first place.

He may be no more than a pew-warmer, but he will receive the benefit of the doubt while the wife is doubted without hesitation. Females are still considered unreliable emotionally as an immediate reaction by even the most enlightened men. Cultural conditioning is hard to overcome. If, as is likely, she has not said anything to anyone until it is overwhelming and she is clearly distressed, then because she is in an emotionally upset state her words will be discounted.

I have had people- friends, family even- who treated me as intelligent, rational, and clear-headed until I mentioned that my husband was abusive. Immediately the tables turned, and I was the one being scrutinized and censured.

Even worse are the ones who took me at my word, acknowledged I was being abused, and told me that they would offer no help or support if I felt I needed to leave him because they "don't believe in divorce". Seriously, my life could be a living hell and I should just endure it till the bitter end because divorce is more distasteful to God than my being emotionally/verbally/physchologically/physically abused?!? That is the Christian response?!?

Thankfully my husband was willing to admit that he was in the wrong. He went through 26 weeks of learning to let go of fundamentalist misogyny and respect me as a human being. He learned to accept responsibility for his own thoughts and actions. Further, he sought treatment for depression and is in therapy working through his personal issues so that he can be free to live the life of love God called him to live.

Few women in my situation are so blessed. My husband was humble enough to reject all the people willing to make excuses for him and get some REAL help. Sad to say, but the huge majority of churches and "christian" counselors are mere doctrine peddlars; they are not at all motivated by love and truth.

Amy on 10:27 AM said...

I posted a long response yesterday, but it wouldn't save. So I'll try again. LOL

I am that original poster that left the comment about her former pastor not "knowing" what had been happening.
Part of his not knowing was directed to the fact that he didn't really understand the severity of the abuse that myself and my children endured.
Although I remember one time, about 4 years ago when things got rather heated between my husband and I, this pastor saying to me one time what an angry man my husband was and how he had gotten in the pastor's face about something and then angrily told the pastor he did not have an anger problem. Huh, ya think?

But when my soon to be ex left our home two years ago, it was suddenly a different story. I was told by several men from that church that I needed to just sit down and talk it out with my husband, and basically get over it. AFter all if I hadn't been hit, well, what was the problem? And of course, God hates divorce.
My former pastor even said to me about two months after my husband left how he was seeing a change in my husband. Really??? Because he was still treating me with anger and contempt whenever we spoke...I just didn't see and have not seen any change, except that my husband was trying to snowball everyone over.

He told lie after lie about me and everyone listened. When I finally left the church because I was tired of being condemned, judged and having the guilt of just not wanting to reconcile laid on my shoulders, no one called to see where I was. No one stopped by to hear my side of the story. They hear what they wanted and as I came to find out, it's the woman in these cases that has to bear the blame and guilt somehow of the marriage falling apart.

I one read somewhere, perhaps here, that the final ultimate act of violence against a victim of abuse, is when those around her place the burden of making it work on her shoulders. Why did I have to make it work, why wasn't my husband responsible in any way for his actions?

The day I met with my former pastor to keep him up to date on my situation and he quietly said to me, "I didn't know" was the day I actually stood a little taller and held my head a little higher.

In that simple little statement, I finally felt validated after spending the last two years, or perhaps the last 20 years, of a living hell in my life.
As sad as his statement was, after all shouldn't he have known ?? I felt that my long painful journey was coming to an end.
He finally saw my pain, he realized how bad it had been and he looked me in the eyes after that and said to me, "it's time you filed for divorce and move on with your life."

I pray for others in that church that they are not getting what I did. People coming up to me, whispering in my ear after service, "let me tell you about my troubled marriage and how God turned it around" or "you just need to reconcile and God will work a miracle in your marriage" or "God hates divorce."
Or "I didn't know."

Bayleigh Marie on 4:42 PM said...

This sounds exactly what happened at my church, except that the Pastor took the side of truth and stood up against wife and child abuse. Because he did this, and made the church look "bad" (even though they wouldn't admit to it) he was forced to resign. It is completely rediculous and it turns my stomach. I haven't returned to the church since, and no one from there has contacted me to see how I am doing... they are happy I left because I was giving the church an image they didn't like, and I decided divorce was the road I was going to take. It deeply saddens me that they are more concerned about how the church looks, then about helping women and children get out, of and stay out of, domestic violent homes.

Hannah on 7:46 AM said...

Yes I would agree it is more of an 'image' deal to so many.

I do believe that God will bless that pastor for standing up for what he (God) represents. He is one of the blessed few that saw your true need, and stood on his principals that he felt God would wish him to.

Its churches like the one you mentioned? I wouldn't want them 'following up' with me anyway. To me it would be like them showing up with cupcakes (trying to be sweet) with dog poop icing. The image part of them would tell you its chocolate, and you know its not.

When a church can't handle standing up for what is right? They have no salt. They have no meat. They have no meaning.

The pastor? Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I'm sorry for you pain, but I'm glad you had that pastor in your corner. It is people like him that know how to show the light that God would wish in this dark world.

Your experience and drive, and his stand is what will make a difference in this world. May God bless you and keep you close Bayleigh.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive



Blog Of The Day Awards Winner

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Privacy Policy

| Emotional Abuse and Your Faith © 2009. All Rights Reserved | Template by My Blogger Tricks .com |