NOTE: I understand if you are a believer like me, you are worried about the church’s reputation. SO AM I. That is why it has taken me over 3 years to post this. And about 6 years to know how to approach this issue. Make no mistake, GOD and Jesus are NOT the source of abuse, pain, suffering or spiritual abuse. God is good and His character is loving. He is so passionate about protecting his daughters and children from the pain and damage abuse brings. Therefore, I do write on the mistakes of the common church, to not condemn or scare people away, but to help inform of where the church needs to GROW. There is no perfect church or group of people. But it’s time to get our hands dirty as the “church” and to get in the loop of one of the biggest problems facing America today: abuse, domestic violence, and divorce. It’s rampant. I’m not going to fear this post will lead others away from the church. I am going to believe this post will serve to lead others away from false teaching and start the healing journey after deep wounds of “church hurts”. I know that God is good and He is bigger than these deep, dark secrets lurking in the air of several churches. He sees the pain every woman faces as she struggles to “accept” her situation and not pursue a divorce. He pursues shedding light for the Gospel’s sake. He came to give life and set the captor’s free.
I became a Christian at 18 years of age and was smitten by all the new-found truths I was learning. For years and years, I knew and was taught that God hated divorce.
Yes, God hates divorce, but what He hates more is abuse. Had I known this and been taught this I can only imagine the soul wounds and losses I would not have experienced. So because of this I share my experience. In no way is this to spite anyone or anything, including the church. After all, there is way more GOOD happening in the church than bad. However, the bad is pretty rotten. Some heavy topics such as abuse have been untouched for way too long and the hearts of those who endured have gone south, looking for freedom and probably never finding it. Because freedom isn’t outside the church walls, where there is no truth. True freedom at it’s best is only found in truth and usually involves a component of “the church”. But we, as the church, have got to start seeing. Hearing. Listening. Searching out. Educating. Empowering. I truly appreciate the power of prayer, but it never rescued me out of a life or death situation… let’s do more than pray. Let’s be the hands and feet and get some action verbs coming alongside these awful stories– practical help for those in abuse. Because if more stories don’t include words like “confronted” and “called out” and “disciplined” for the abuser– I fear the stories will end with words like– the victim was “defeated”, “overwhelmed” and “hopeless in her faith”. The words that follow these are grossly worse: “gravely depressed”, “eternally hopeless” and “suicidal”.
Why No One Likes To Talk About Abuse. This is a post I wish I did not have to write. It’s not pretty or fluffy. It’s not a post on how you can feel better, live longer or find your calling. It’s about setting people free out of the dirty, dark places they have been chained up– and if you’ll hang with me for a few minutes of your time, you will see that bringing LIGHT on this issue will lead the way to healing and restoration for people around the world. Some Christians may not want to hear it. Some may feel that we are “blaming the church”. I am in no way here to blame, but to explain the common experience of these sticky situations that wreck souls if they continue to be swept under the rug.
Since we believe that Jesus came to give His LIFE TO SET US FREE– WHY WOULD WE IGNORE THE VERY ISSUES THAT LIMIT the fullness of that gift He gave??? Jesus showed us that these topics, like abuse and finding freedom, are WHY HE CAME. To no longer live in bondage and shame JUST FOR THE SAKE of “rule-keeping” without considering “the soul” of a precious human being. Which by the way, happens to be worth the blood of Christ. I know it’s not an easy subject to talk about–especially because it’s been a hush-hush topic for so long. No one enjoys hearing it, I don’t enjoy retelling events, and it’s not fun for anyone. Why? The topic of ABUSE brings out that dear friend shame to the surface. People want to run from shame. Whether it’s their shame or not. No one likes talking about their rape experience, and the same goes for abuse and domestic violence.
But it is necessary.
You hold the key. You can be a gateway of hope to those suffering by no longer staying silent. You can participate in leading those you know to the greatest Truth they’ll ever encounter– the Truth that sets people free.So please, listen up.
The Christian church does a lot of things right. They help the poor and set up events to help the community. They offer help to those in need. They hold events. A warm meal delivered to those who face loss is common– but when it comes to a woman who calls saying, “I was abused last night by my husband”, the church has a tendency to freeze. To be silent. To sweep it under the rug. If you’re lucky you might be added to the “prayer chain” or get a counseling referral (to possibly a church-volunteer who isn’t a licensed professional counselor). What’s worse– even if you are “heard” and allowed to share the real crap you face, the church may have zero resources, knowledge or expertise on abuse/domestic violence. It’s not many churches strong suit and that is absolutely okay. That is why there are professionals. But from my experience, the church is afraid to send you off to “those people” for fear of them not leading you correctly. People– these are human souls we are talking about!! Precious human souls. Let’s get them help FIRST and then later worry about “non-Christian” agencies or organizations making a dent in their faith. Because, if we were too busy to notice, they have a thrashing, open wound gushing out from their soul.
Let’s grow together. Let’s agree together and recognize our need to GROW. We can admit, we don’t have it all together on these hot topics. Slapping prayers like colorful band aids over human souls is not the practical help Jesus teaches about in the Bible (see the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37). I don’t want this at all to come across as a church bashing post because I love the church, feel called to be in ministry, and I love God and want others to know Him and be a part of a church family. It’s a beautiful experience and part of our greatest blessings here on earth. That being said, there are areas we need to grow in as a church body. Churches across America need more resources on domestic violence and childhood abuse. We need to be educated and take classes on these topics. Can we get a sermon once in awhile too? We need church accountability to have a Biblical process of caring for abuse and abusers. I do recognize every single church has flaws since we sinners make up the church. But can we pursue growth as a body? The end goal is Christ being glorified — we can unite on that as we learn how to address this very relevant topic. We can stand together and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I believe in God and Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I still have a close relationship with Him even after the tremendous pain I experienced with the church during my abuse and divorce. Others are not so lucky. The church hurt them in ways that were so painful, they didn’t ever make it back. This post is for them. It’s because of them I write.
Common Mistakes Taught That Will Wreck Your Soul:
Here are some of the false things the church is teaching that have caused me immense pain in my life and I believe contributing factors to unnecessary suffering to many others.
#1 – The church never taught me boundaries. Instead, it taught me to turn the other cheek to abuse. To take it, forgive it.
Yes, to the world and to strangers at a distance, we are to turn the other cheek and show kindness to evil. However, day in and day out, it is completely self-destroying to do this to someone who is tearing down your very character. It is outright dangerous to apply Christian principles to abusers and in situations of abuse or domestic violence. Abuse in marriage is not just physical, but it can be any of the following: Physical, emotional, spiritual, verbal, sexual and financial. If you are experiencing emotional abuse, you may not realize it. You may be encouraged by people in the church to keep praying for your spouse while this emotional or verbal abuse is going on. This is a red flag. Even though the abuse is not physical, your staying and turning the other cheek while “praying and staying” is not going to lead you to the victorious life Christ has for you. You are not “invisible” to abuse and “untouchable” because you love God. I promise you that if you subject yourself to ANY kind of abuse, you will reap the benefits. There will be many consequences of staying. You cannot be emotionally abused and walk in the calling God has for you. You are showing your children that this behavior is acceptable and that you deserve this treatment. Rather, our job as parents is to represent to our children our great worth to God. Verses: “Be careful of the company you keep.” “You reap what you sow.” God uses common sense. If you are sowing in a relationship and “tolerating abuse” then you will reap a harvest of low self esteem, isolation, fear, depression, anxiety, and much worse. You will learn co-dependency, which is extremely destructive and will ride a roller-coaster life of emotional lows and blows. Instead, consider reading the book Boundaries and drawing those in your life and prayerfully consider separation.
#2 – The church never taught me to not love myself and that “self love” is a bad thing.
This happened in various ways… mainly putting others before myself. This is a good thing to do for healthy individuals, but again, do not put someone who is abusing you “above” yourself and call it “serving” them. I promise you that you can never OUT-LOVE someone of their abusive ways; only, only, only God has that power. It is best to leave and separate, and if things don’t change (99% chance), to get a divorce. Although the church will tell you to jump through 5 million hoops before you would ever consider divorce as an option… JUST KNOW– that you will wear yourself out, destroy your self-confidence and self-worth as a person, lose your identity, and maybe not make it out — IF YOU DECIDE to attempt to jump through those 5 million hoops. I’m afraid that in that process of “waiting and praying” you will lose your fire. You may lose your righteous anger and be filled with what looks like “loving compassion” but unfortunately, will add more to your guilt because your prayers CAN NOT change a person; only, only, only God can.
I thought it was wrong to “enjoy” myself and feel good about myself. I thought it was wrong to feel spectacular even. This is the breeding ground for an abusive relationship.
The Christian posture is one of humility — which is strength under control– should not lead us to accept and tolerate abuse of any kind, but rather, take a stand and separate from abuse and if the person doesn’t repent– seek divorce. There is no such thing as Godly suffering for the sake of being abused.
#3 – The church never taught me to hold the “guilty” accountable, but instead, accept blame for others’ behavior.
Many marriage and relationship Christian books outline that if you don’t do “this and that” as a wife, you will lead your husband to “this and that”. Christian or not, PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE for the choices they CHOOSE to make. There are no excuses.
The Bible says that “Do not be fooled, you will reap what you sow.” Therefore, if your marriage has abuse in it, do not reason with it. Do not think for one minute that you are not being “submissive” enough or “respectful” enough and therefore, your husband’s anger and abuse is out of control. NO. That is not biblical to take responsibility for someone else’s choices. Please realize there is no end to accepting blame. You will never be perfect enough to help your abuser not act out.
The book Boundaries is a great resource for the church and for any relationship and marriage that struggles.
When the church tells you that something you did is causing your spouses abuse toward you, you have found yourself in a trap. There is no escaping. This alone turned my confident, successful, educated self into a co-dependent crazy person almost instantly. There is no need to take responsibility for other’s decisions and choices. You can only control yourself. Please don’t go down the crazy train of blaming yourself. Instead, make a plan to only own the consequences of your actions.
#4 – The church taught me to see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing as to not compromise the vow I made.
I did have a (very) few people in the church tell me to leave. However, that was near impossible financially, physically and emotionally. Many churches have about zero resources for those in domestic violence. There is no training. No understanding of it. I sought help, but elders seemed to be just as confused as me. Over time, my sessions of confiding in those I looked up to became nothing more than that. They were sessions of people listening, but not hearing. Not seeing. Not helping. After so many times of this, I began to wonder if being abused is just a normal thing? Why are their faces so calm looking? I just told them I am being abused! Unfortunately, many people, even in the church, do not want to see abuse as what it is: abuse. They are not willing to see it. This confused me probably more than anything. Even a stranger in my apartment complex was more helpful than the church. In my time of need, I was told by a stranger to leave and get out of my situation, to make a plan, to seek help, etc. He didn’t tell me to explain why this happened, or what did I do to cause this. He knew this was not okay. He knew there was absolutely no excuse.
Instead, the church needed to be there. They needed to see the abuse going on and stand up for Truth, for me.
Overall, the church taught me to care more about “marriage” than my own soul…. my physical and emotional protection. The value of marriage was worth more than my soul… I felt that my disappointment of seeking a separation and possible divorce would leave me as the ultimate “sinner”. Only 1 pastor counseled me to divorce immediately. Others were too concerned about the church’s reputation.
Thank Jesus, I have learned through tremendous amounts of intentional healing that God is a God of protection for His children. His daughters are priceless to Him and worth His own very blood– and therefore, under no circumstance, inside or outside of religion, called to endure any form of abuse. Instead, we are called to live in safety, protection,peace, unity, and His unfailing, perfect love. Only then can we glorify Him. It is impossible to bring Him glory at the hands of an abuser. We were bought at a price and it is critical that we must live like it.
I just want to say thank you to those of you who told me the truth. That I was living a lie. That abuse in not okay. That I needed to leave. You know who you are. You stood up for Righteousness, Christ’s WORTH in me. You stood for nothing less than believing that I was BOUGHT AT A PRICE, not to live at the mere hands that devalued me. You were my only source of hope, my only glimmer of light twinkling so far off in the distance. You were my voice when I could not find my voice or words. My strength in sheer weakness.
Thank you to the few of you that helped save my life and my soul. And thank you God for Your righteousness and for being a just God. Although I may never see the fullness of your justice, I will trust in You. You alone are my portion. My very lifeline– You are good!
To anyone out there who has been through abuse, currently walking through it or hiding it to the world, know… you are not alone. There are resources out there for you. Here is a link to get some support. Please message me your email and I will gladly privately send more resources in your area. There is help. There is a way out. I will see to it that more churches have domestic violence awareness and education provided to you. Hang in there and know that God wants to help you. He is so protective over your soul, He is going to rescue you.
Jesus will never leave you.
**I am currently booking churches to host my woman’s event: I Will Not Be Silenced, produced by The Well Loved Woman. If you or your church is interested, please contact TheWellLovedWoman@gmail.com — and please visit our Facebook page to see all of the women who have attended our previous event and are walking in freedom! Our mission is to provide healing and resources from the common, yet taboo topics women face today. We would love to bring more awareness and education to your church body and help bring a voice back to those who feel silenced. Many women are saying they felt “instantly more free” after our event — so why not be the door to hope where chains fall at the foot of the Cross?
Follow The Well Loved Woman on Facebook for more updates and upcoming events! Subscribe to our blog here for future posts!
The Well Loved Woman