Abuse is abuse is abuse. Even if an abuser sits in your pews. Or someone you may sit next to in the congregation. And, God forbid if it be the man you see in the mirror!
Just like the number of divorce is no different among Christians and non Christians, abuse occurs within highly conservative and religious families. Per Institute for Family Studies, they have reported that 1-in-4 highly religious U.S. marriages have intimate partner violence. That is not including emotional, psychological, verbal or spiritual violence. This data is not reflecting marital neglect and abandonment either. So at least one in four of the families that you either serve or fellowship with are abusing their wives. Yes, please read that again!
“Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them.” Hebrews 13:3
It’s commendable that prison outreaches exist. But some of your fellow Christians are in invisible prisons. The bars are not recognizable to those on the outside, because of the belief system regarding the worship of the marital establishment throughout the church. All must protect the marriage at all costs, even at the expense of a woman’s overall well being.
Sadly, even these precious women don’t easily recognize they are confined and controlled within their environments. “The man is the king of the castle”, therefore everyone else is subject to him even if it includes family tyranny. By the time a woman’s pain becomes so loud that it begins to awaken her that something is terribly wrong, she has become a shell of herself. She no longer recognizes the reflection she sees in the mirror.
I have been that ghost of a woman in the mirror. And when I finally reached out for help to a Christian psychologist and minister; he told me that I needed to lower my expectations in my marriage, as I thought to myself, “Seriously”? Cutting him some slack, maybe he was trying to help me lower my devastation levels, though he never explained. But instructing me in front of my husband at the time only served to confirm to him that he could treat me as ugly as he wanted and “God Himself” was backing him via this religious representative. Telling anyone to lower their expectations of their basic needs being met within intimate relationships is dangerously careless. And there are serious ramifications for the one being counseled if they swallow that bitter pill.
I was not even asking for my conjugal rights, that were refused me early into our marriage. I was not asking for cake, just give me the bread versus the bread crumbs. Just the basics please. I was expected to ignore and suppress my natural needs; not neediness, but the basic human needs that we were designed by our Creator to give and receive.
Let me make this clear, I am not talking about an individual demanding another person to meet all of their needs. This is not the topic at hand. I understand it’s not humanly possible for any human to meet all the needs of another. That would be an unhealthy and unreasonable expectation. More women than not, don’t make these demands.
Those who willfully withhold love and affection and basic respect towards their wives, find no difficulty showing respect to other church members or to their co-workers. If he would at least treat her as one of his fellow believers. But instead she is left abandoned within her own home.
Before she quit asking, she was not even asking for much:
- Being understood
- Being listened to
- Having companionship
- Feeling appreciated
- Being respected
- Being taken care of and nurtured
- Showing and receiving affection
- Being loved and valued
Unfortunately, well meaning religious individuals will encourage her and expect that she “tries harder”, “forgive more”, “love never fails”, “lose weight” “give more sex”, “pray more”. The list goes on telling her to “lower her expectations” while indicating to her that she is the one who needs to change because she must be in the wrong.
She is told to do whatever she needs to do to save her marriage “because God hates divorce”. I don’t recall God ever calling anyone in the Scriptures to Saviour-hood. And yes while God hates divorce, even more than divorce is when a man covers himself with violence or he deals treacherously with his wife. God Himself was a divorcee. He knows the pain of abandonment and rejection and he called it adultery. Behold, there must be other factors that God considers unfaithfulness besides sexual immorality.
Many women are on an emotional and spiritual life support; with the church oblivious of her desperate need to be loved by the one who promised to love her and to protect her, even from himself if necessary. What oxygen is to our lungs, love is to our whole essence. There is not one part of our trifold being that is not either hampered or elevated by love. Love can build and cause to flourish while the lack thereof can tear down and diminish. Neglect and a lack of intimacy on all fronts is betrayal and abuse, including the breaking of the marriage covenant.
She has suffered long in silence, as she endeavored to obey what the church told her regarding what God expected from her. She sought to cover her husband, because “love covers and believes the best”. She did not want to hurt his reputation, not realizing he was the one who destroyed his own character. While he was more concerned about appearing righteous than behaving righteously.
A generation of women have been utterly destroyed behind closed doors and then retraumatized and ostracized by the church. Abuse within Christian homes is an epidemic while the church does not want to hear it, refuses to believe it, and rather not be bothered by it.
The church is called to heal the brokenhearted and set the prisoners free…will you hear her pleas?