Posted in Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, domestic abuse

A woman comes to you and says she’s been abused–what do you do?

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You look at her face. It’s evident that she’s stressed. Something is going on but you don’t know what. You ask her a few questions. She looks down, avoids eye contact. Her answers are all over the place. She’s obviously distressed. Is she lying? You don’t really have the time to try to find out. You tell her to go home, repent, try harder, pray more. Do more to be a better wife, to try to make her husband happy. “If it doesn’t get better, let me know.” Patting yourself on the back, you relegate it to the back of your mind. “Thank you, Lord, that I was able to be there for her.”

A woman comes to you. She says she’s been abused. You tell her you know her husband. He’s a good man, a gentle man, a kind and loving man. There’s no way he could do the things she says he’s done. “I know him. He’s never do the things you are accusing him of.” She tries to explain but nothing she says meshes with what you are sure you know. “I’ll pray for you but the ball is really in your court. If you want a better marriage, you have to work for a better marriage. You must have done something to make him unhappy.” You send her home but just for good measure, you call up her husband. “Your wife came in here telling me things that I knew couldn’t be true. I just thought you’d want to know.” He gives you a sob story about how unbalanced she is, how hard he tries and how little she appreciates his efforts. “I try everything in my power but it just never gets any better.” After promising to pray for him so that he’ll know how to help his wife, you hang up the phone. “Thank you, Lord, for letting me be here to pray for him and even for her. It must be so hard having a wife like that.”

A woman comes to you. She tells you that there isn’t enough money for food, not enough money for the doctor, not enough money for the power or the mortgage. “Our children need so much but my husband spends the money on other things. I don’t even know where it all goes. It’s always like this, and I don’t know what to do.” You look at her clothes. She’s well dressed. You look at her car. It’s top of the line. You know where she lives; the neighborhood is nice, upscale. She sees your doubt. “That car,” she says, “he insisted that he had to have that for business….” Looking back at her you tell her, “I know where you live. Your house is expensive. Your car is, too. Obviously your husband makes enough money. You just need to manage it better. Sell the car, get something nice but much cheaper. Cut out other luxuries. Move to a cheaper place. There’s a lot you can do to make things better. Maybe get into financial counseling. You need to learn to spend money on what’s important. Work with your husband, not against him. We can’t help you.” She tries once again to explain how broke they really are but, really, there’s no explanation necessary. The truth is so obvious. You send her away, shaking your head as you do. As you sit down to dinner that night, you once again think about her story. Then you pray, “Teach us to be grateful for what we’ve been given, for the bounty set before us, and help us to always be ready to share with those in need.” Thankful that you don’t know anyone who is really in need, you start to eat.

A woman comes to you…. What do you do?

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Posted in Authentic Christianity, Christianity

Why can’t I?

The tendency of the modern church is to define our Christianity by our culture rather than our culture by our Christianity. When we do, our role as the children of God becomes unfruitful. Seeking to fit into the world around us and to enjoy as much of it as possible becomes our driving force. It is then we ask, “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” These exact same questions were asked in the Garden of Eden. The solution is to get back to the Cross. When the Cross is the focal point of our lives and our theology we then see the cost of our questions. “Why can’t I?” put Jesus on the Cross.

We look for ways around what God has said. Unhappy about restrictions on our “freedom in Christ” or possible reductions of our “Christian liberty” we avoid “thus saith the Lord” like the plague. “God didn’t really mean that” answers many an argument–not well but often. “Paul was a chauvinistic pig” answers many others. “But that was cultural…or for the first century only…or, it was a Jewish custom” fills in the cracks.

We try to get away with so much. So often we seek to walk as close to the cliff of the world as possible rather than walking in security next to the mountain of God. Rather than asking, “Does this bring glory to the Lord?” we ask “What is allowable? How far can I go?” The one marks us as interested only in pleasing the Lord; the other marks us only interested in pleasing ourselves.

When we let our culture interpret our Christianity, we get a me-centered philosophy driven by humanistic tendencies. God isn’t what matters to us at that point–we are. We claim to be serving Him but our lives belie that. Unless we are becoming more and more holy with the sweet aroma of Christ-likeness permeating all that we do then the opposite is true–our lives are becoming more and more worldly with the accompanying stink to prove it.

The Cross is to be the center of our affections. Knowing the price of our sinful me-centeredness was the death of the holy Son of God ought to set us on our knees praying. As an awareness of our sin and the knowledge that we ARE sin is the beginning of our hatred of sin. When our sinfulness stabs us deep in our hearts and causes us to weep then we are on the road to being people after God’s own heart.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was praised by God not because of his reign as Israel’s greatest King but because of his deep sensitivity to sin. True he, like all of us, sinned. His sins were sometimes humiliatingly spectacular but truer still was his heart. When he sinned, and was convicted of it, his heart was broken.

These things ought to be evident in our lives as Christians. Too often we look at David’s failures and stop there. The conclusion we draw is that God loved him despite his failures. We fail to see that God hated his failures and punished him severely for them. God loved him for his heart that sought to slay his sin, that deeply loved the Word of God and the God of the Word, and that sought the Lord’s glory rather than his own.

The questions the church ought to be asking are not “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” but “Does this glorify my Lord?” “Am I reminding anyone of Jesus in what I say, what I do?” We must stop trying to blend into a culture that hates the One we propose to follow. The world won’t like us one whit more for being a religious version of themselves. They will see through it and mark us as the hypocrites that we are. Cultural Christianity isn’t Christian and everyone but Christians seems to know it. At its core it is about man rather than about God. It will lead us nowhere but to hell. When we seek God’s way, we will be hated of the world but loved and accepted by the Lord. When we seek our way above God’s, failure isn’t far behind.

It takes spiritual eyes to see the eternal. God grants that kind of vision but only to those who want it more than they want anything else. When we fail to seek Him and His glory above all, we end up seeking our own. Repentance is in order. We must ask for eyes to see and then open them. It is then that we will see the depravity and despair all around.

The questions that  the church have been asking have got to change. Rather than asking “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” let’s ask “Does God’s Word address it?” “Is it befitting people of the Lord?” “Who does this glorify–the Lord? or me?” When we get our questions right, our theology will be right.

Posted in Authentic Christianity

If it looks like a duck…

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it must be a…

Goose?

And a lovely goose at that. Or, so it would seem.

Let’s try again…

If he acts like the world, looks like the world, has a filthy mouth like the world, he must be a…

Christian? Preacher? And was once quite a popular one. Good.

Next…

If he quotes false teachers, supports false teachers, and fellowships false teachers, he must be…

“The man who has done the most for Christianity in the last century”? Or, so many would say.

Sad.

Seems the truth may be harder to discern than God would have us believe…

or,

maybe, just maybe, the problem is that, rather than turning to God’s Word so that we can discern truth, we believe everything and everyone that comes along…

everyone except God.

Maybe the truth wouldn’t be so hard to discern if we actually spent more time in it.

And maybe, just maybe, that thing that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck really is…

a duck.

 

Posted in Authentic Christianity

I stand before the Cross

(modified from March, 2015)

I stand before the Cross and I profess love for this Man, this God, who has taken my place on it…

then I turn away…

and go shopping for a bikini.

I can justify it because it is so cute and anyway,

if a guy looks at me to lust, it is his fault for not controlling himself,

and not my fault at all.

I go to church to worship my God…

I hear of His holiness, I sing of His truth…

then the final prayer ends,

and, after telling the preacher how really good the sermon made me feel,

I go home and I turn on the television,

and I fill my mind, my heart, my eyes, with things that I would be ashamed to watch

if Jesus were here…

but, He isn’t….

I justify watching it because it’s such a fun show,

and, after all, God is a God of love and He just wants me to be happy.

I kneel before my God and I pray

Thy will be done…

and I get up

and I go about doing my will…

with everyone that I meet…

in everything that I do…

not for a moment thinking…

that I am sinning.

I open up my Bible and I read about the wonders of God

and my heart rejoices…

I read of His love, His mercy, His tenderness

and I praise Him…

as I read on, I come to a passage that shows more than that…

where His holy anger towards sinners is revealed,

and reading it makes me nervous, uncomfortable…

so I turn the page,

and I read more about how very much Jesus loves me,

and I read into the passage how much Jesus longs for me to respond to Him,

and I think how cool it is that this God, the God of the whole universe, needs me…

me…

and I determine to try to find something really nice to do for Him…

sometimes.

I reach out to my God in my need

and I can’t find Him.

I ask Him, “Where are You?”

but, He doesn’t answer me.

I don’t understand His silence.

I run towards where He was but find only darkness.

I seek Him and I cry, “Why have You abandoned me?”

“Where are You, God?”, I plead…

and it’s then that I realize…

that I am alone…

and He doesn’t seem to hear me…

at all.

Then, in the echoing silence, I hear a still small voice saying,

“If you love Me, you will obey Me.”

And I haven’t.

I am guilty.

I am ashamed.

I am lost.

And I fall on my face…

and I weep.

Posted in Authentic Christianity

Ministering to the Sick – Some Practical Considerations (via Preacher Thoughts)

(I just read this article and was deeply touched by its gentle Christ-centered wisdom. As one who has spent much time in the hospital–both as a patient and with family members–I couldn’t agree more. The article offers excellent advice for any Christian who is ministering to those who are ill. Read and be blessed.)
I came across this little list the other day and thought it might prove helpful for young pastors in particular. Much of this I learned from tagging along with my father-in-law to hospital visits during our summer vacations. But this is the kind of stuff every Christian can do.

Your Demeanor – – You should be humbly confident.
the sick are already struggling to not be anxious, they don’t need you to add to their anxiety
“pray yourself up” before meeting with them; yours is a spiritual work
enter the room slowly, but with a smile that is full of love
don’t let your eyes rivet on tubes and monitors… look into the eyes of the sick or the family that attends them
hospitals are not modest or clean – just deal with it
have some idea of what you are going to say before getting there –> a plan breeds confidence (I like to have a Psalm in mind that I have read over in advance)

Your Speech – – You should get to Christ and the Gospel.
there is lots of time to talk about physical conditions, but not everyone has someone in their lives to remind them of Christ
remember to speak in a calm, conversational, not-too-loud voice (this is where nervousness can kill you – getting too loud or stuttering, etc)
have a specific passage of Scripture to read and comment on
I like to use whatever the Lord has blessed me with recently in my own devotional time
you do not need to read all of a passage
admonish through the Word (e.g. “Here the Psalmist says that God’s voice can still a war or move a city… how glad I am that our Saviour is that strong. He is still that strong and will be for you.”)
keep your admonishment simple, and clear… no need to “preach the whole counsel” today; avoid obscure thoughts or things that do not relate to suffering
don’t shy from asking simple questions that remind them of Jesus
don’t shy away from asking difficult questions. The very ill often want to speak of death, their salvation, heaven, their assurance, etc. Often some of the sweetest fellowship happens when you ask a saint if they are prepared to die.

To continue reading, please go to http://preacherthoughts.blogspot.ca/2016/04/ministering-to-sick-some-practical.html

Posted in abuse, Authentic Christianity

Some thoughts on domestic abuse, complementarianism, patriarchal teachings and the Gospel

“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?

For instance…

  • 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.

 

Posted in abuse, Anna Wood, Authentic Christianity, Christianity

An open letter to the church from an abused Christian wife

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is with a heavy heart, for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and because of His grace that I sit down to write you. I’m writing for myself and for my sisters in Christ who suffer under the heavy hand of domestic abuse. You might hear that term and immediately think that you don’t know anyone living in an abusive situation so what I’m about to say really doesn’t apply to you. Please don’t think that. You probably do know someone who is being abused; you just don’t know it yet. Domestic abuse, domestic violence or, as it is often referred to today, DV, isn’t just about whether or not a man is physically beating his wife: He may or may not be but still be abusive. Abuse comes in many forms. Sometimes it manifests as physical abuse but not always. When a woman is regularly torn down by an abuser’s words, when she is afraid to speak up, afraid to make decisions for fear of displeasing him, when she is controlled by her husband, when she lives in fear of angry outbursts, when she is dominated physically, sexually, spiritually, financially or emotionally, she is being abused. Domestic abuse lives within our churches–not that our abusers are Christians, I’m not saying that, but abusive men often masquerade as godly men, and within our pews are Christian women, your sisters in Christ, who are married to abusive men. We are here even if you haven’t yet realized it (and I can understand that since abuse, at its core, is hard to grasp or believe), and the abuse we live under is real. Because our Lord has called His people to care for the oppressed and the poor among the brethren, we’re asking you to care for us. We especially beg you to care about our children.

How do I convey the ache in my heart? Due to my situation, I don’t always get to attend worship services. It is so glorious when I am able to. Meeting with you, worshiping our Lord, reminds me of the glories of heaven when we shall be together with Jesus forever. I long for that glorious Day. When the service has ended, when the last prayer has been said, and it comes time to go home, I walk out of the door with a lump in my throat, an ache in my heart, and unshed tears threatening to flow down my cheeks. The life that awaits me is nothing like the life most of you are going home to. My life is so often stark, lonely, full of pain and stress. When I walk out of that door, I walk into a home filled with heartbreak. I’m married to an abuser–one whose abuse of us has covered much of the abuse spectrum. I, like so many other of your sisters living in abuse, have often been made fun of by my abuser for my faith–frequently in front of my children (even though he, like so many other abusers, masquerades as a Christian). I’m not the only Christian wife whose husband is abusive; I know so many who are. Precious godly women who have been beaten down physically, emotionally, and mentally. God’s daughters who pay a tremendous price just to serve Him in their homes, to teach their children about Him, or to be able to gather together with you to worship our Lord. Women whose home lives are a living nightmare. Women like me. Not all of us will have black and blue bodies from physical assault but all of us have beaten and bruised hearts. All of us live in a man-made war zone.

So I write this letter–from me but also for my beautiful sisters who live in the same pain that I do. Some of these dear ones know the pain of having a man’s hand raised to slap her, to beat her; some quake in fear when he removes his belt to punish her. I write for those who face not love but terror and pain in the bedroom where she is beaten, attacked, or raped for a cruel man’s pleasure. For those who live in poverty because of their husband’s intentional financial abuse or cruel self-centered control of family finances, control which often leaves her and her children to do without the very things needed for survival. For those who are continually lied to, lied about, cursed out, humiliated, gas-lighted, and otherwise verbally and emotionally assaulted. Those who know the fear of wondering what will happen to their children if their men ever carry out their threats. For those who see no way out.

Heartrendingly, many of us also face pain in our churches. We’ve met with pastors, elders, gone to fellow Christians, begging for prayers, for guidance, for counsel, for help for us and for our children, only to be wrongly told that divorce for abuse is a sin, or that “we can’t help you”, or “try harder, pray more, be more submissive”. Do you know how hard it was for us to gather the courage to come to you–knowing that, if we are found out by our abusers, we will pay the price for our “betrayal”? Do you have any idea how hard we’ve tried to be submissive? How often we’ve denied our own needs just to keep peace in our homes? Do you know what it’s like not being able to have an opinion because his is the only one that matters? To live in fear of making a mistake? Of using the wrong tone, saying the wrong word, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and being punished for it? Of just being wrong no matter what we do? Of giving in, over and over and over again, of burying our own desires for his, of obeying any and all commands no matter how painful because that’s all that we can do, all that we are allowed to do, only to be told by him–and eventually by you–that we’re not being submissive or obedient enough?

God is the only One who has never failed me; I know from speaking with them, from their many letters, from their testimonies, that many of these dear ladies, my abused sisters in Christ, feel the same. When our husbands abuse us and our churches deny the abuse, blame us, or turn away from us, who else can we turn to but God? Thankfully, He, unlike me, unlike anyone else, never fails any of His own. I, like many women (though not all) who marry an abuser was born into abuse. All of my life, Jesus has been the only One I’ve ever been able to fully, completely, trust. He’s so good, this Great God–the beautiful and holy I AM. Abusers change their opinions, their demands, day by day, but God never changes. Abusers put on masks in order to control us and fool others; God is always the same, always good. Abusers deny their abuse of us, blame us for the abuse, go on repeating the same lies, doing the same things, making the same broken promises, again and again and again; God is always a God of truth and love. We’ve been forced by our abusers to do so many humiliating things, endure so much pain, do without so many things we desperately need but God never fails us. He is the only One who has never, ever, failed me–though I, like all of the redeemed, fail Him greatly. When I’ve been afraid, He’s been my Comfort. When I’ve not had a clue how to feed my family or keep a roof over our heads, He’s been my Provider. When my abuser has raged, He’s been my Peace. When I’ve cried long hours into the night, He’s showered His great and merciful Love over me. If not for Him, I’d have no hope. I know that my abused sisters in Christ have similar, heartbreaking, stories of their husband’s cruelties and, sadly, many have similar stories of their churches indifference or, at the very least, failures to understand. Yet their stories are filled with their hope in the Lord–this Great God who loves them and cares for them when no one else will or does.

I know it’s hard to understand where I’m coming from or what abused Christian wives are going through. Maybe you still wonder is there even such a thing as an abusive Christian marriage–how could such a thing be? The answer is, it can’t–not in the way you might be thinking. There can be and are abused Christian wives, yes; but a truly Christian man who abuses his wife? No. A man might have many issues and still be a Christian, but he will be working on those issues, repenting of his sin, always longing to please his Lord and glorify Him better; but no true believer is going to do the things an abuser does, all the while unrepentant. An abuser might masquerade as a Christian but there is no fruit in his life. It’s a mask and a good one at that. Perhaps you might think that you know our husbands and that there’s no way they could be guilty of these things. But you only know them from the outside–we live with them. A bad man might pretend to be good but a good man will never pretend to be bad. The fake face he’s showing, he’s showing to you. God, who knows the heart, sees the truth. And so do we. And so do our children.

Maybe you wonder why we haven’t left, or why we put up with the abuse, or why…, just why, but then you haven’t lived in a war-torn home. It’s not as easy as all of that–not easy for you to understand, not easy for us to know what to do, not easy to leave–especially when we have no one to turn to. Many abused wives have health issues either brought on by the continual stress or exacerbated by the stress of the abuse. Many are poor because of financial abuse, because the abuser can’t or won’t provide, or because he squandered the money on himself. Truthfully, we’re desperate. We’re afraid. And we’re often very much alone. Some of us have no families to turn to, and many of us have been isolated by our husbands so that we have no friends to turn to. Some of us live in fear of speaking up because we fear not being believed or worse, fear what will happen to us if we tell. So, when we come to you, we are coming in fear, out of desperation, hoping against hope, that you will ask the right questions, see through the mask we have been forced by him to wear, try to understand what we’re going through, and that you will pray for us, help us, guide us. Stand up for us. Our stories may be unbelievable to you, you may be so shocked that you don’t want to believe what we’re saying, maybe don’t know even how to believe such horrible things, but please know that we’re coming because we desperately need you. We’re afraid, we’re worn out, and unless you listen to us, unless you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, decide to help us, we’re very much alone. We have no one else to turn to. Our lives may be hard for you to understand but they are still our lives. The abuse may be impossible for you to comprehend but, at the end of the day, unless you help us, we’re still being abused. You can walk away from it; we can’t–at least, not easily and most times not without help.

Abuse isn’t “marital difficulties”. Our abusers aren’t just “angry men” or “men with anger issues” who “really want to do better”. They aren’t men who “aren’t understood by their wives” or who “aren’t being treated with respect” by us. We’re not exaggerating the abuse, or making it up. We’re not nags who aren’t happy that our husbands aren’t doing the things we want him to do. We’re not control freaks trying to make our men fit an image we want them to fit. We take no joy in pulling back the pages on our lives but, if we are to survive, we must. Yes, the world provides shelters, tries to help, but what about the church? Sometimes what the world offers isn’t enough or, where we live, the help simply might not be available. We need our brothers and sisters. We need you. We are your sisters, and we are being systematically abused, belittled, dominated, destroyed, and controlled by the very ones who swore before God and men to love and honor us. So, please, the next time a woman in your church comes to you telling you her husband has been abusive, rather than thinking that she is making up a story because she wants attention, or that she’s just a bad wife who is unhappy with her husband and is using you to get back at him, listen to her and believe her. If she is coming to you, she is coming in fear, and she is terrified both of coming and not of coming–afraid you won’t believe her, and afraid of what will happen if you do believe her but refuse to help her. Coming to you is dangerous. It costs something for an abused wife to step forward. It has cost some women their lives.

Telling the truth about our lives is the most fear inducing things many of us can imagine. What if our abusers found out that we’d told–what then? What if you don’t believe us? When the hope that you will help us is gone, many of us have no hope left. In all honesty, it’s humiliating to look you in the eye and tell you of the things our abusers have said or done, the things we’ve endured, and the horrors we live in. Panic sets in, our mouths dry out, our hearts race, and yet we tell you anyway, hoping, praying, that this time someone might listen. Someone might believe us, maybe even (please, dear God), want to help us–and especially this: want to help our children.

If you will listen, if you will care, more of us just might come forward. But first, we have to know it’s safe. The best way you can do this is by preaching a pure Gospel. Make sure its not watered down–man has already failed us, we don’t need more failures in the form of spiritual malnutrition–nobody does. Then, prepare yourselves to understand abuse. Familiarize yourself with what abuse is–and isn’t. Read some good books on the subjects of abuse, and on biblical divorce in cases of abuse. If you do, you will see that abusers, far from wanting to change, far from not realizing what they are doing, actually rarely change, and do realize what they are doing–and do it anyway. Preach a sermon on the evils of domestic abuse. Announce from the pulpit that it is safe for abused wives to come forward. Let us know that you care about what we are going through. Tell us that you will listen to us and believe us. Let us know that abuse has no place in your church, that abusers will be dealt with, that you will stand up for us and stand with us–no matter what. Let us know that you care about our children, that you love us with godly brotherly love–enough to do what’s right for us. There are so many of us who love the Lord and are trying to be godly women, godly mothers and yes, even godly wives, in the midst of horrific circumstances. Help us to find a way out, help us to get to safety, help us to protect our children.

Please, whatever you do, don’t think, ah, couples counseling is the best way to address domestic abuse. It isn’t. Couples counseling in dangerous to abused wives because abusers use it to further their own agenda. He may seem repentant to you–but when he goes home the abuse almost always increases. Abused wives will be afraid to speak up in couples counseling for fear of this very thing–so please, realize that this isn’t the way to go. Rather, get us alone with a godly woman who will listen to us, perhaps one who has walked this road before us, or sit in there and listen to our stories–along with her, not alone–for yourself. And go on from there.

We need you–we have nobody else. No one but God.

I was flipping through a book the other day trying to decide if I wanted to read it and found where the author quoted from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon on the Good Samaritan. Dr. King suggested that, when confronted with the hurt man, the Samaritan, rather than asking what it would cost him if he took time to stop, might have instead asked, “‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” So as Dr. King asked that question of his audience, I ask you this: What will happen to me, and to my sisters in Christ, if you do not stop to help us?

May the truth, grace, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts.

Soli Deo gloria!

Anna

Photo credit: Aaron Burden from Unsplash

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