Abuse in Church

Everywhere we turn we see allegations that abuse is epidemic. The church is no exception. There was an anecdote that made its way around the various Christian forums I used to populate that I’ve no doubt was true, but it was used, as these events universally are, to score wider points for evangelical feminists. Forgive me if I get the details wrong, but that incident I believe involved a man in the music ministry of a very large and famous mega church in Southern California. The man was physically abusing his wife, who when she approached church leadership, allegedly circled the wagons around the man and demanded she simply submit more. I seem to recall that drama even ending with legal incident. I hasten to add I am sharing sketchy memories of recounted second, third and fourth hand accounts of an alleged event. My point is not to cast doubt on its veracity though. My actual point will be clear later.

I cam across a predictable article, called The Silent Epidemic, in the Kyria newsletter, which I think is affiliated with Christianity Today. The article recounts another story of a woman abused and how the church responded to her cries for help with advice that she just submit more.

Her husband’s comments were so routine that for 20 years, Brenda Branson didn’t realize she was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse.

“You breathe too loud,” her husband would tell her. “Your smile is silly. You look terrible. Don’t you have anything better to wear?”

It wasn’t until Brenda realized his comments weren’t true that she approached him. And that’s when he picked up a chair and hit her with it. Brenda knew she had to do something, so she went to her pastor. Unfortunately he wasn’t equipped to handle domestic abuse; his suggestions about submitting to her husband only made her home life more difficult. “Our church didn’t know what to do with us,” Brenda says. “They just wanted the problem to go away.”

I also have no reason to doubt the story as told, that is not the point.

The point comes as a result of the interview that follows the story, where a retired police officer, Don Stewart, speaks to the issue of DV in Christian homes.Further, the woman from the original story has formed a ministry called Focus Ministries, and while any effort to help anyone who is a victim of violence is laudable, both the retired policeman and the woman from the story draw from oft reported data that is 100% untrue, and they make the mistake of pronouns so common in DV dissertations, choosing the masculine for perpetrator and the feminine for victim as base assumptions, and fail to qualify by highlighting that while the recognize that DV is an equal opportunity problem they CHOSE to offer help to women.

Mr Stewart wrecks his credibility with the following statements:

According to Detective Sgt. Don Stewart, a retired police officer who handled domestic violence cases for 25 years, one out of every four Christian couples experiences at least one episode of physical abuse within their marriage. In fact, battering is the single largest cause of injury to women—more than auto accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.[my emphasis]

When you run across a string of statistics based claims, and you find one of them to be so badly incorrect you must ask yourself about the soundness of all that persons assertions. See the following chart regarding what I put in bold.


Note that Domestic Violence does not even appear on the chart…..at all, while he claims it should be the biggest bar on the graph. This oft repeated nonsense about DV being the single largest cause of injury has been traced back to an off hand comment in an interview. It was never tested or measured, just repeated. I have to therefore question the claim that one in four Christian household experience an episode of physical abuse, and I suspect the problem there lies in the nature of the question used to get that figure, if there ever even was a survey taken. Gut honestly I guess most marriages could point to one person shoving past the other, shrugging off a hug, even a slap to the face during some heated youthful argument, perhaps that gets you to one in four. Depending on how physical abuse is defined its likely they could even get a higher number than 1 in 4. But that would strain the common sense of even the most ardent sympathizers.

The list of another misleading statistic that can especially be misused in the church environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 2,000 women are murdered every year by an intimate partner.

The problem isn’t the statistic, the problem is the context that those prone to propaganda will swallow with their cool-aide. INTIMATE PARTNER indeed, drilling into this statistic reveals something that would work counter to the evangelical preference for easy divorce. The risk of all forms of violence including murder is much higher with unmarried women and their intimate partners, and according to the Dept. of Justice (you’d think Don as a police officer would know this) fewer than 5% of domestic violence incidents involve couples in intact marriages, meaning they are not physically separated. This states something that would really mess up the game…..the safest place for a woman to be, statistically, is in an intact marriage. Now how often have you ever heard DV used as a reason to STAY married?

Brenda goes on to reveal where she is coming from as she describes the most up-defined term in the DV marketplace, verbal abuse:

Brenda: Emotional and verbal abuse can become so commonplace in a woman’s relationship that she doesn’t realize she’s being harmed. It took me a while to realize my husband’s attacks weren’t my fault and weren’t true. For example, we both used to work in our church’s children’s ministry. My husband often told me I was uncaring toward the kids. For a long time I struggled with this, until one day someone told me how blessed she was by the compassion I extended to her children. Suddenly I saw I’d been basing my identity on my husband’s perception of me instead of God’s.

To claim that one doesn’t know they are being abused until they figure out it is “abuse” is  incredibly specious. I’ve read numerous accounts where women say exactly that, they were experiencing abuse and didn’t know it until someone told them they were being abused. I will never understand that. Whether its called abuse or flarb or vorvg, if someone is being mistreated and its causing them to feel badly, do they not, well, fell badly? Do they not realize that because they sense something is wrong, that something is wrong? Why only when a well intended friend offers them one of these checklists on how to recognize abuse does it suddenly click and they join the victims and advocates?

This tells me that these checklists are tools of inclusion, hence tools of recruitment for new victims to add to the roles. Bulking up the victim list is useful for women to claim moral superiority on that basis, to advocate for easy divorce based on the old canard about being trapped in abuse, and don’t discount the quest for empathy as a victim is far more successful with the term abuse included, be it in why she doesn’t believe in submission, why she divorced her husband, or why she is a feminist. Abuse is a major pillar on which the evangelical feminists and their useful idiot male Christian Socon conservatives stand.

Don and Brenda bring the topic back around to actual physical violence as he recounts another tragic story of a woman severely beaten. As a man too intimately familiar with that dynamic due to it happening to my mother, I am comfortable speaking about this and not drawing the “you are a man and don’t understand” card in rebuke. I DO understand and sympathize enormously with abuse victims.

What I disapprove of is abuse as agenda, is recruitment of victims, and of using outright false information to make points that are then taken and used for more nefarious reasons. There will always be horrible people and horrible crimes and the victims must be treated with care and compassion, and justice must also be done. The abuse industry both in and out of the church have over played what is actually a good and worthy hand by subscribing to tactics more suited to militant feminists.

The news is spreading, and more and more men especially are waking up to the threat….to men….that misinformation on DV poses. Two wrongs (actual DV and lies about actual DV) do not make a right, ends do not justify means, and anything that contributes to Christian woman’s sense of moral superiority, their aggressive urges to control men and use The Personal Jesus (TM) as an ally, and their requisite defense of easy unilateral divorce as an escape hatch from rampant abuse must me challenged. Media R.A D.A.R. is an outstanding resource that is garlic and holy water to feminists, evangelical and secular alike. Sadly for them the facts there are impeccably footnoted and the sources are the same sources they claim to have used when they spread rumors and innuendo. The RADAR folks actually did the research in other words, and from the near 50/50 gender propensity to violence initiation to refuting the hyperbolic fear mongering of evangelical feminists and white knights, they get it right.

Men its time to stop knee jerk sympathy when the mere word abuse is used. Its OK t ask a follow-up. The present meme is harmful to men, yes, but as you can see by the advice Im offering, in the wrong hands it can even be harmful to actual DV victims as the peddlers of fear exploit them and damage their credibility by piggybacking on their pain.






19 thoughts on “Abuse in Church

  1. You had me until:
    “To claim that one doesn’t know they are being abused until they figure out it is “abuse” is incredibly specious. I’ve read numerous accounts where women say exactly that, they were experiencing abuse and didn’t know it until someone told them they were being abused. I will never understand that.”

    Yes, it is ridiculously overused as an excuse to tell lies, but the concept is valid.

    We are all partially a product of our environment. When you love and trust someone, you are likely to believe them, even when they lie. Men and women are constantly undermined by hypercritical spouses, because they believe it when they constantly hear they’re not good enough. Another word for it is “brainwashing.” I had the impression you do understand the dynamic pretty well when you see a husband enslaved and emasculated by a shrewish, power-hungry wife. Try this:

    “To claim that one doesn’t know they are being abused until they figure out it is “abuse” is incredibly specious. I’ve read numerous accounts where MEN say exactly that, they were experiencing abuse and didn’t know it until someone told them they were being abused. I will never understand that.”

    Otherwise, you made some truly excellent points.

  2. *excellent points, especially about inventing and manipulating statistics. That a law enforcement officer banks on his “official” credibility to mislead the public, is self serving and appalling.

  3. It seems that you are saying that the abuse victim may not recognize the abuse basically because it’s always been their norm. To use an analogy that Empath has often used, it’s like how a fish doesn’t notice that they are wet. With that idea I would agree. However, when you look at the abuse checklists, and the utter insanity of some of the items on them, it’s plainly obvious that the intent is not one of raising awareness of a genuine problem but one of trying to artificially inflate the numbers of people who are being abused. I mean seriously, based on some of those checklists, abuse exists in about 98% of all relationships.

  4. Suz: The problem with these abuse claims is that it’s getting defined in more and more ridiculous ways. The thing of these people is not necessarily that they might otherwise not have known that they were genuinely being abused, it’s furthering a new definition of it which often makes no logical sense.

    The idea of “abuse” is one of the chief weapons that the feminists are using to oppress the men in hate. To bring it to how “abuse” really occurs in reality, those abuse checklists chaz345 uses are often the super-majority of these abuse claims, if not most all of them. For example, using logic in refuting a woman is verbal abuse (this is on a checklist I read). To use the Fireproof example, the husband even suggesting buying the boat against his wife’s wishes is emotional abuse. To buy it anyway is even further emotional abuse, and to not spend money for her wishes is emotional abuse (and yes I’ve seen this on one of those checklists, too).

    Claims of “abuse” are what wives use as weapons to fight against any requirement that she submit to her husband. Furthermore, they serve to bring about her husband’s submission to the wife. Even admonishing women in their sins is seem as abusive – this is why it’s not done either in private or in public. This is why women get off with a slap on the wrist for doing the same things that men are thrown in jail to rot for.

    In the end, “abuse” is one of the enforcement weapons of Marriage 2.0. Let us remember that in many circles, men can not be “abused” by women, though the domestic violence rates are equal in victimology. And furthermore, the laws are set up when it comes to abuse to affirm these kinds of claims and punish them. We need to be reminded that any legitimate and genuine “abuse” (i.e. what a legitimate cross section of moral men and women – not feminists – will accept as such) is already covered by laws that were on the books long before any kind of “patriarchy” (a feminist invention) ever existed.

    While I’m not unsympathetic to any kind of genuine abuse when it occurs, so much of the other kind of abuse happens that I’m to the point of not believing any of it unless genuine evidence of it is produced.

  5. I agree absolutely. The expanded “definition” of abuse is ridiculous, as is its enforcement by people in authority. I think the answer is to correctly define it, very loudly, and to get REAL victims (who are hurt by BS abuse claims) on board. Whether a victim knows all along he/she has been abused, or realizes it suddenly, has little or nothing to do with whether or not it’s real.

  6. My favorite list yet was on CF, “eye rolling” was listed as one of the signs of abuse. I didn’t bother to do a tally of the signs to see who is worse but I guess my husband and I are in a mutual DV situation. I abused the poster by mentally rolling my eyes.

    And I agree, the real victims are hurt by the insanely broadened definitions of abuse.

  7. I stand by my assertion. It makes no logical sense to say one is abused and doesnt know it until they are told they are abused.

    Look, a person has some dynamic in marriage that is bad…pick your example, the hypercritical spouse, ok so is that unpleasant? Does she feel bad, depressed, hurt, angry, anything at all? If yes, then its she DOES know something is wrong…..thats my point she KNOWS, and there should be no magic that it gets suddenly labeled
    If however the hypercritical dynamic exists and she is not experiencing any bad feelings at all, if it doesnt “hurt”….two things, one, it isnt hurting her so its not abuse, and two, if its not hurting her to claim that it suddenly starts hurting her when she gets that label hung on it seems rather silly, and thats why I call it recruitment.
    If someone has something unpleasant being done to them they either know it or they dont. If they know it, they know it no matter what you term it, if they dont know it then it isnt unpleasant enough to bother them and to propagandize them into awakening to the fact they are being abused, when they are content already, is recruitment.

    Sorry suz, it just makes no sense whatsoever to hang so much significance on a word/term

  8. Considering most abusers are very skilled at making the abused person feel deficient, I think that it is quite possible that seeing an ACCURATE list of abuse behaviors might wake the abused person up to the fact. “If I hadn’t made her angry, she wouldn’t have hit me, it is my fault”, “She didn’t injure me when she hit me so it isn’t really abuse” “Women can’t abuse men, so it isn’t abuse”. The abused person may feel bad, they may be HURT but a lot of abused people feel that it is their fault or “it isn’t that bad”. Rationalization hamsters run on the wheel for men and women. If I can emotionally/physically abuse my husband but convince him that it is his problem/fault, is it still abuse? If I convince him it is his fault, will he attribute the “wrong” feeling to himself or to me?

    I think the problem is with the insanely broad lists, not with the fact that people can be suffering from an abuser and not FEEL like they are abused. That is why it is so important that abuse lists be objective and narrower not subjective.

  9. “Eye rolling?????” Hookaaayy.

    Yep. Suddenly realizing your spouse’s behavior has been rather rude isn’t at all the same as suddenly realizing that your spouse’s having constantly belittled and even hit you for years, was his/her fault and not yours. Rudeness is not abuse, yet both can be “revealed” suddenly.

  10. Shocking….you couldnt have missed the point more, and then to eyeroll, suz, you are utterly lost and wrong on this.
    Did I read you just assert that someone can “suddenly realize they had been hit”….are you kidding me? Suz, I must put aside all but most basic words, that remark, if i read it right, is silly.

    I have no idea what you are on about with the rudeness, my post has zero to do with some minimal thing like that, or with some grey line between what is real abuse and what is not. Assume I was talking about constant belittling and or hitting…..then read my comment again. Thats WHY it makes sense, in fact the more egregious the abuse the more my comment makes sense, throw out ANYTHING that is questionable whether its abuse or not.

    I repeat, Im shocked. You are usually not one to make things up like that.

  11. The church (no matter the faith expression) must examine its own situation before God long before it makes demands of its leaders and attendees or points a critical finger. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” The requirement is that the church has its act right with God first before it makes demands on the Body. Each head within God’s headship has responsibilities. Failure to meet those responsibilities is sin and sin has repercussions. I know of no church of any Christian denomination or faith expression that is right with God (contrary to Messianic boasting). There is none righteous save God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Regarding your chart and refutation of Detective Stewart: in Law, “battery” is defined as the illegal beating or touching of another person. That is quite a broad term then under which falls many criminal actions. There are three categories on that chart that easily fall under the heading of battery and the other two could certainly include abused women since I have witnessed a husband thrust his wife from the passenger side of their moving vehicle and I have heard of women so overexerted by the physical demands (not just sexually) of their husbands as to pass out. Rape certainly can cause death if it’s violent enough so that, too, could be considered overexertion. The chart does not disprove Detective Stewart’s statement. I’m always curious, though, how one defines “Christian household”. Detective Stewart’s statement is predicated on his understanding of Christianity and heaven only knows what that is but, considering his line of work, it is reasonable to assume it is a very broad understanding. That being the case, his comment does not carry much weight (at least not as much as the secular world might like) and can pretty much be reduced to his opinion.

    In a life lived according to God’s word, there is no place for feminism nor is there a place for abuse by man toward woman or by woman toward man. While the former is thought of as more prevalent, the latter can also be large depending on one’s definition of abuse as has been mentioned here by other posters. God has set the headship and the standard of behavior for men and women. It’s all in His word so it’s no mystery and really can’t be argued with if one is truly a believer. Key word…”if”.

    There is physical and psychological abuse abounding from both sexes. It’s called sin. It is very possible for someone to not know they are being abused. There are myriad cases of abuse victims totally unaware that their circumstances are not the norm. Long term abuse can essentially create a person’s normative and propagate the cycle. In Exodus 34:5-7 is God’s word regarding this: “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

  12. The chart disproves the detectives claims. Your points are a stretch.
    Im thinking the abuse propaganda must be the one thing that the feminists are succeeding with and thats very unfortunate.

  13. That’s OK, Emp. It’s the comments format. Surely you know I agree with you that most of what is called “abuse” is nothing of the sort. I’m also aware that the (mostly psychological) abuse victims who believe they deserve it and therefore don’t recognize it as abuse, are a very small minority. Overall, I agree with your original post. Even in cases of real abuse, the victim is usually fully aware of it, likely participating in it, and has something to gain by staying and tolerating it.

  14. I had to leave a therapist over a year ago because I picked up on her line of questioning. I’d been seeing her for awhile and when the relationship began to change between my husband and me I mentioned giving control to my husband and wanting to be submissive might have slipped out. She jumped on it and began asking leading questions. As a person who experienced abuse as a child and then taking in foster kids, I knew the wording. It was the last appointment I had with her. I knew if I continued that she would insinuate things, and take my answers out of context and I don’t know what she would have felt ‘legally obliged’ to inform authoritites about. I wasn’t going to risk anything to my husband because someone wanted to ‘enlighten’ me about how abused I was at home and want to ‘save’ me. I know the difference between real abuse and a wolf cry.

    We also had a pastor once who was counseling us about our marriage. When he found out my husband didn’t take me out on regular date nights his reaction would have had you thinking I was being abused. He even told my husband that his actions were putrid. Is that lack of date nights one of the things on the list?

  15. That’s very sad, and VERY common, which is what makes it all the more specious when I read the ubiquitous claims about how the church is forcing women to stay under abuse. I know that happens, and what you you mentioned happens but neither are the majority.

    See thats what Im talking about though, they were going to tell you you were abused and didnt know it

  16. Pingback: REAL egalitariansim is distasteful to today’s evangelical feminists | Feminism is Empathological

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s