At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus

Matthew 25: 40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Pastors Who Will Not Hear

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Genesis 42:21, “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear….”

Joseph’s brothers were guilty of selling Joseph into slavery. They saw their brother’s anguish, they heard his pleas, saw his tears, yet they ignored him.

Is not this same scenario played out repeatedly in our churches today?

An abused woman goes to her Pastor, weeping she tells him that her husband has been abusing her. She relates many incidents to him and asks him for help. He listens with sympathy. He so hates to see unhappy marriages. When she tearfully finishes, he sits back in his chair and offers his take on things. He generally says something along the line of, “Your husband is a good man. He’s been under a lot of stress lately. You, as his wife, must be patient with him. Now, you might have had a rough day or two with him but it’s not really as bad as all that, is it? Anyone can have a bad day now and then. You need to be praying for your husband. Look for ways to make things easier for him. Make sure that being at home is relaxing for him. Now this is what I want you to do: go home, get yourself made up, cook him his favorite dinner and make sure he has a relaxing evening. Tell him you are sorry for not giving him the support he needs. Then I want you to pray and ask the Lord to help you to be a more submissive wife, to make you kinder, more obedient to your husband. Then, whatever anger issues he has, they will get better and better and so will your marriage. Do you understand?”

The abused wife listens in horror as it becomes obvious that her Pastor either doesn’t believe her or that he is going to refuse to help her. She might tearfully protest. She might beg him to listen, to understand, to stand with her and help her protect her children. To do something, anything, to help her escape the endless cycle of abuse. She might hang her head and go home to once again face her husband’s wrath.

Some Pastors might send her away before she can get started, refusing to even listen to her. Some might call her abuser to him know his wife came in for counsel. Some might listen, pat her on the shoulder, tell her it’s not all that bad or that it’s her job to submit and obey no matter what and send her back to be abused some more.

The Pastor is guilty concerning his sister because he sees the anguish in her soul, he hears her desperate pleas, he witnesses her tears yet, just like Joseph’s brothers, he ignores her and sends her away…back to the slavery of domestic abuse.

Joseph’s brothers pronounced themselves guilty “concerning our brother”. Where are the pastors who will search themselves and acknowledge that they are guilty concerning their sisters–sisters who are daily beaten, broken, battered and abused–verbally, emotionally, sexually and physically at the hands of one thought to be “a good man”?

The church is waiting for the answer.


One thought on “Pastors Who Will Not Hear

  1. Here is what I believe – and this is just from my experience: There are some in pastoral offices who value the covenant of marriage so much (and rightly so) that they want to do anything they can to preserve that covenant in members of their local flock. There are some in pastoral offices who are more concerned with the image of the church they shepherd, and concerned with how the members of the church will react if they, the pastor, says or does anything that would encourage or affirm the decision to divorce from an abusive spouse. And, I truly believe that unless pastors and elders of a church have experienced spousal abuse (either personally with their spouse or as a child witnessing and experiencing it in the home), they believe that the abuse is not as bad as the victim says it is. They believe that it is a matter of learning to communicate better – or giving it time – or doing exactly what you wrote above – or of praying for God to heal the marriage.

    In my own experience, I was told, “I will not affirm a divorce. If I do, in three or four years, there will be many divorces in our church.” I would, I pray, be willing to be offered as a sacrifice for my Lord, Jesus Christ, and suffer so – but to suffer at the hands of a physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abusive person and to have my children suffer the same..begging me to protect them and save them from that abuse – to suffer at the hands of person like that, who happened to be my spouse, who was unfaithful and adulterous, and who also claimed to be a Christian – all for the sake of the image of the church – I simply will not. I was encouraged to stay married, in covenant, for as long as it took for God to redeem the marriage – whether it was a year, five years, twenty years or until I died.

    I asked one question – Where is the covenant in that marriage? Is not the covenant broken when a spouse, over a long period of time, heaps such crippling and devastating abuse on a daily basis, to the point that death seems like a better option than being stuck in that environment? I came to know my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the midst of that nightmare. God has definitely redeemed that for me and my daughters. Does that justify the church treating me (and so many others like me, women and men) as though we have committed the ultimate sin? I contend that although I am sinner who is being redeemed every second of the day, I did not sin in this instance and I carry no guilt or shame and all is resolved with my Father.

    The church is indeed waiting for an answer, Anna. I have seen the love of Jesus – I have experienced it deeply and intimately – I have witnessed it in the lives of others – and I have internalized and made His love a part of me through His Word, prayer and through humbling myself before Him only to find He humbled Himself for me on the cross that I should have been nailed to. When the church stops being concerned with image to the point of legalism, and they start to truly have the love of Christ within them – they will see with His eyes. I think that day will come – but not until we are kneeling before Jesus and fully experiencing His grace, mercy and love in a way we’ve only had a taste of in this world.

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