“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I am a homeschooling mom, a conservative Christian, a woman who believes the Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church. I believe that the Bible teaches that men are to lead our churches. I am also a woman who has been abused by a man who took scriptural teachings and twisted them into something that they were never meant to be. A woman who has often been ignored and even maligned by the church for asking for help and daring to speak out about his abuse. A woman who has been attacked by fellow believers for continuing to believe that Scripture teaches that men are to lead our churches and our homes.
Why, I wonder, can’t we address abuse while upholding Scripture?
Why can’t our leaders follow God all of the way, expressing all of His truth, not just the ones that don’t make them uncomfortable?
Why can’t we uphold the truth on this side of the spectrum while also upholding it on that side of the spectrum also?
- The scriptural truth that God calls men to be the leaders of their homes and of the church shouldn’t devolve into non-scriptural patriarchal teachings that elevate men in ways God never intended. These non-scriptural teachings encourage dominance of men over women and over their families; they also help to set the stage for domestic abuse within some homes while also helping to hide the truth that domestic abuse does exist within some homeschooling families as well as within the church itself.
- The truth that God hates abuse and oppression of all kinds–including domestic abuse–shouldn’t just belong to the more liberal-minded churches.
- The truth that God allows divorce in cases of domestic abuse, the truth that Malachi 2: 16 has been twisted into saying something that it was never intended to say, shouldn’t just belong to the liberal churches, either.
If we allow that which Scripture does not we are guilty of adding to God’s Word. If we ignore or teach against those things which God allows because it makes us uncomfortable or because we’ve never done it that way, then we are guilty of subtracting from God’s Word. And, if we are silent about any or all of it when we should speak up, we are aligning ourselves with evil.
There is much evil in the world today. There is also much evil masquerading as good right in our own churches. There is only one cure for man’s sinfulness and that is the pure, undiluted, Gospel–the Gospel neither added to nor taken from. There is likewise only one way to address the plague of domestic abuse within our communities and within our own churches and that is also the pure, undiluted, Gospel. When God’s Word in its beautiful completion and entirety is taught, believed and lived out, the power of evil dwindles, shrivels, and dies.
I’m not asking for churches to focus all of their teaching on domestic abuse. I would stand against that in every way. I’m not asking them to set up everything in their churches to focus on abuse victims; to do so would be to make our churches man-centered rather than Christ-centered–something that is innately evil. What I am asking is that our spiritual leaders teach and embrace all of the teachings of Scripture–even the uncomfortable ones–without twisting them into something evil and vile. Complementarian teachings are, I believe true and beautiful and absolutely based in Scripture. Twist those truths into patriarchal teachings that so many churches now embrace and you have built a breeding place for domestic abuse; ignore them and you are subtracting from Scripture. Take a stand for the sanctity of marriage, teach the truth that marriage is sacred, holy and is meant to be permanent and you are honoring the Lord; twist such teachings into the permanence view of marriage, or ignore the real meaning behind Malachi 2: 16, and you are teaching falsehoods.
Domestic abuse isn’t just your average normal run-of-the-mill type of marital problem. There really aren’t two sides to every single story. When you have two people who won’t get along, who aren’t “in love” with each other anymore, who make each other unhappy or who simply won’t quit arguing, there are two sides–he said, she said–and both are probably, in some way, wrong. In such a case, those involved need to take responsibility for their own actions, stop being selfish, listen, serve one another, and remember and uphold the vow that they made before God. There’s little to no wiggle room in such situations. Such partners probably need counseling, maybe even couples counseling, and they need to decide to love God and each other more than they are loving themselves. However, domestic abuse isn’t the same type of case. In abuse cases, you have one spouse who is trying to control, dominate, wound and destroy the other spouse–there is no room for finding common ground in such an evil environment. If our leaders understand this–while upholding the truth of Scripture in its entirety–then great strides will be made in ministering to abuse victims–and doing so in a way that is Christ-honoring while looking out for the safety of the victims.