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.


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Looking at Domestic Abuse Through a Biblical Lens

I guess my perspective is different from many Christians. I have lived among abusive people my whole life. The good Lord saw fit to not just dip my feet in the water of abuse but to plunge me into its depths. Because He graciously has allowed me to live in the midst of abusers (though many times, I must confess, I’d have much preferred He hadn’t), I have an understanding of what abusers do and what the abused go through at their hand. In the end, the pain God has allowed me to deal with has been a blessing in some ways because it’s opened my eyes in a way some folk’s eyes are never opened. I know the pain of abuse. I’ve lived with abuse. I’ve been abused by multiple family members at various times of my life. I understand abuse far too well. Because of this, this is where I take my stand: Domestic abuse in any form, by anyone towards anyone, is sin and the church needs to wake up and realize that there are abusers in their midst who are masquerading as Christians; these abusers are hurting their families, sinning against God, and bringing reproach on the church and on the name of God. The church needs to educate themselves about abuse. They need to help the abused who members of their churches. To fail to do so is to choose to sin.

If you’ve not walked in the shoes of Christians who have been abused by those they’ve loved, I guess it’s easy to look away. After all, you don’t understand what’s going on. Anyway, some of the people being accused of abuse are “just the nicest people” or “the best Christian man I know”. Right? It’s much easier to dismiss the accusations than it is to have to deal with the messy fall-out. Anyway, God hates divorce, doesn’t He, so what can you do?

No, you’ve got your facts wrong. God doesn’t hate all divorce. If He did, He wouldn’t have divorced Israel. But, it’s easier to say He hates divorce and just tell her that if she wants to please God she has to stay with her abuser, than it is to risk the wrath of her abuser, than it is to have to sit down and study that Scripture in context, or than it is to actually have to step up and figure out a way to help those who are abused.

Or it’s easier to say “Just leave” and leave it up to her to figure out how.

It’s easier to tell her that the man she’s accusing of abuse can’t possibly be doing what she’s said he is. After all, seeing him once a week or even two or three times a week means you know him far better than his wife does. Right? Wrong. You dismiss her concerns because you don’t want to be bothered.

Because you aren’t looking at her situation through a biblical lens.

There are a lot of godly women out there who really love the Lord and who haven’t a clue what they need to do because their man won’t stop abusing them, neglecting his duties, won’t provide properly and on and on, but who cares? It doesn’t affect you. It doesn’t stop you from sitting down to a good meal forgetting that somewhere in your city, a woman who loves God with all that she is, is struggling to figure out how to keep food on the table for the rest of the week, or is pulling roaches out of what little food she has and serving it anyway, or is not eating herself in order to feed her kids. It doesn’t stop you from buying two or even three cars while ignoring the fact that this woman who has claimed to be abused but you’ve wondered about her faithfulness because she isn’t always in church, isn’t showing up to church because she has no running car. It doesn’t stop you from buying brand new clothes for your family, forgetting that the woman and children you think are dressed so poorly probably don’t have a way to buy any clothes–not and have a hope of keeping food on the table. It doesn’t stop you from going on a vacation, all the while ignoring the fact that she’s about to be evicted because her husband failed to pay the rent–and this isn’t the first time it’s happened to her.

You need to know. You need to look. You need to see. You need to listen: Abused women, children, and sometimes even men (because, yes, men can be, and sometimes are abused by their partners), because of the stress they live in, tend to have more health issues than the non-abused and are often not allowed to have access to health care. They tend to eat more poorly, often because of lack of resources. They tend to be quiet and subdued because they are afraid of anyone finding out for fear of what will happen when the abuser finds out someone knows, or because they fear being looked down on because they’ve been abused, or because they’ve just been abused so much that they haven’t the strength to pretend all is well. Abusers often keep their money for themselves, even demand that the abused turn over their earnings to them, then they do what they want to with it (frequently providing for themselves but not for their family). Sometimes the abuser wastes his money through gambling, through drinking, by doing drugs, through other selfish purposes or by carelessness. Some abusers are so careless in their own lives that they keeps losing their job so they lose everything–over and over again. Whatever the reason, many of those who are abused live in roach-infested, mold-ridden, run-down houses, own shabby second-hand furniture, drive a barely working car (if they are allowed one), and wear clothes most of us would throw away. They are alienated from others because their abuser makes them be–so no one finds out his secret. They often don’t have friends. They often have no credit or their credit has been ruined by their abuser, and they often have no money, so they feel they have no way out.

The abused Christian woman (or man) who gets up each morning and prays for the strength to get through the day and does all that they can to protect their children, to raise them and provide for them, is fighting a war most of you will never have to fight. And because they are so often ignored by the church, the very ones who should be helping them, they are fighting it alone.

You can ignore what I’ve written. You can refuse to care. But if you do, please don’t say you are doing all that you can to honor the Lord. According to statistics, one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. Maybe it’s a parent, a sibling, another relative, or her partner doing the abusing–but some of these “statistics” are sitting in your church.

I’m one of them.

This is just one issue the church is facing. Abortion. Biblical ignorance. Promiscuity. Poverty. Orphans. And on and on and on, the issues just mount up. Ignore these issues, forget that your help is needed and tell God you plan to do so or repent of your failure to care and ask the Lord how you can help. Somebody somewhere needs you to pray for them, to lend a helping hand, to be a friend, to teach them the truth of God’s Word. Look around you. God commanded us to be His hands and His feet. What are you doing to obey Him?

Soli Deo gloria!

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You are not to blame for his buse

If you are a woman who is being abused by your husband, you need to know that his abuse of you isn’t your fault. You didn’t bring the abuse on yourself. You aren’t, by somehow failing to please him in some way, asking to be abused. Your failures as a wife, however great or small, whether real or imagined by him, in no way gives your husband the right to seek to destroy your body, your mind, your heart, or your being. If you are a woman who is being abused by a man, the sin lies squarely on his shoulders and not on yours at all.

You didn’t cause the abuse by being sometimes being difficult. It doesn’t matter if you somehow “slip up” in your duties at times, serve supper late, fail to pick up the dry cleaning, or keep the house in a bit of a mess when you get busy. Maybe there are things you can do better but that can be said of all of us. Nothing you’ve done or haven’t done gives him the right to yell at you, smack you, terrorize you, castigate you, assault you, rape you, discipline you, or abuse you in any way, shape, form or fashion.

Abuse of any kind is the fault of the abuser. Abuse of any kind means the abuser is sinning not just against you but also against the Lord who created him.

Abuse needs no excuse. Abusers need no reason to abuse. They abuse because they are abusers. They don’t think like normal people, they don’t react like normal people, they don’t respond like normal people. They think, react and respond like abusive people because that is what they are. Because of that, it doesn’t matter if you failed or if you didn’t fail, they will abuse you anyway. Abusers can be driven to abuse by anything, or by nothing.

If you are being abused you have a right to protect yourself. You have a right to leave. To tell your story to someone who can help you. To get to safety. You have a right to protect yourself and your children. You have a right to divorce. You have a right to live in peace. You have a right to live a life that is free from abuse.

There’s a life out there that’s free from abuse. It’s where most people life. By God’s grace, it’s where you can live also.

Soli Deo gloria!


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When Someone Says They Are Abused, Believe Them

abusedwomanviavoicefordignityAbuse is an ugly word that hides an uglier reality. Abuse means abnormal use. Domestic abuse is especially ugly and abnormal because the abuser is someone the abused ought to be able to trust. Domestic abuse isn’t something that just affects “those” people (whomever those people might be). Abuse hides in suburbs and cities, dwells in towns and in the country, inhabits mansions and trailers. Victims of domestic abuse are white, black and every color in between. They are male and female, young and old, rich and poor.

Abuse victims are abused because the abuser takes pleasure in abusing them.

I usually write from the point of a female victim of domestic abuse. My mother was abused by my father, I’ve countless friends who have suffered abuse from their husbands and I’ve known it firsthand myself. No matter what age, race or sex the victim, the facts remain the same: The victim isn’t the cause of the abuse. If they are Christians (the point of view I write from), they aren’t being abused because they haven’t prayed enough, because they haven’t submitted enough (or, as a man, haven’t provided well enough or been kind enough), they aren’t abused because of what they are, who they are or what they’ve done. They are being abused because the abuser takes pleasure in abusing them.

There are times when someone will claim to have been abused when they haven’t been. I’ve had folks ask me how to tell the difference between a lie and the truth in this. The best advice I have is to look at the person telling you and the person being told on. If someone is a victim of abuse, they will generally appear care worn, worn down, fearful and be hesitant to share their story. Those who lie about being abused often appear excited to share their stories, seem to want to tell as many as possible and show no (or few) signs of fear of being found out by their supposed abuser.

If someone comes to you telling you their story, please take a few moments to listen to them because few people will. The truth is it’s hard for a true abuse victim to come forward. She (or he) is ashamed of being abused. She is broken from the rubbish spewed at her and about her by her abuser. She’s exhausted from trying to keep up appearances so that no one knows her painful secret (and is afraid of the consequences if her secret is discovered). She’s terrified of her abuser and worn down from trying to appease him. She’s afraid for her children and ashamed of herself that they have to live in a climate of abuse. It takes a lot of courage to break through her defenses and open to to someone, to anyone, about what she’s been enduring. To turn away from her at her moment of truth is the worst thing anyone can do.

Church leaders should let it be known that they will listen to and protect anyone who is facing abuse. I’ve heard of pastors who would get up and preach on abuse, issuing a statement at the end that if anyone is facing abuse and needs someone to turn to, that they will be there for them. I wish more preachers would follow their example.

Abuse isn’t always physical. It can take many forms and all are evil. If someone comes to you asking you to listen to their story, please take a moment to do so. That you will believe them enough to try to help them might be the only hope they have.

photo via voicefordignity


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When Women Walk Alone

Not all women who live as single Moms are, in fact, single. Some have been married for a very long time but still walk alone as a mother. Sometimes this is her fault as well as her husband’s; a poor marriage is often the product of two people’s choices and selfishness. But not always. Sometimes it’s the product of one person’s choices, his or her selfishness, their unwillingness to live as the husband or wife they are meant to function as, while still desiring to continue on in the facade. The end result of a husband’s or wife’s unwillingness to submit to God in obedience often leaves the other one to walk alone while still striving to stay true to their partner and to God. It is a lonely place.

The road that single-yet-married Moms (or Dads) travel is a painful one. It’s made more painful because we often have no one with whom we can share our journey.  It’s too easy to be misunderstood, to be taken for a complaining wife, a discontented woman or the instigator of the problems.  Even turning to a preacher for prayer and counsel can often result in the wife being told she is open rebellion to her husband and to God. Sometimes this might be true; any wife can fail. But there are times when it isn’t. Sometimes the ache that she lives with on a daily basis is born in her husband’s harshness, his cruelty, his breaking of their vows. Often it is born out of his blatant disobedience to God, his open rebellion to Him, his refusal to act in his family’s best interest, to be the husband or father he is supposed to be. Sometimes her marriage partner is but a little boy in grown up clothes, seeing how many toys he can acquire while his family goes wanting. Sometimes her aloneness is due to her husband’s neglect. Sometimes it’s due to abuse, physical, emotional or otherwise. All abuse, any type of abuse, is still abuse. Still sin. And the ultimate cause of many women having to hold things together alone.

I don’t have any answers in this post–I have more to say later–but for today I do have some suggestions: if you as a Christian wife find yourself facing this situation, pray. Tell God of your struggles for He cares. He has told us to cast our cares upon Him for He cares for us. And He does care. He can never be faithless. He can never fail. If you will trust Him, if you will turn to Him, He will lighten your burden and give you peace for the painful road ahead. You will still have decisions that must be made and loads that must be carried but you won’t be walking that road alone anymore. If you as a non-Christian wife find yourself in this situation, the most important thing you can do right now is to submit your life to Jesus. He, unlike faithless humans, never fails. I would also say this: if someone comes to you with such a tale as this, listen to them, hear them out. Don’t assume that they are making it up, exaggerating it or simply complaining. Don’t assume that it’s her fault for speaking up rather than his fault for driving her to the point she needs to. Most of all, pray for them, believe them and act as Jesus would.

There’s more to be said–so much more–but for today know this:  if this describes you, my heart aches for you and I am here praying for you. I care.

(Photo from 123RF Image ID: 5767616)


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Preaching Truth to Those Who Weep

“As leaders there are a number of things that pull at our hearts. The desire to grow a ministry, the longing for recognition, and the development of our careers strive for the attention of our hearts. Then there are the many ministry needs of hurting people around us. They too call forth the better aspects of our leader’s heart. It is tempting to set our hearts on these and other legitimate concerns. But if we are to lead with the greatest impact, we must recalibrate our hearts around the ministry of teaching. My proposal is simple. We need to set our hearts on the Word of God–to study it, to practice it, and to teach it to others.” ~ Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision For Leadership by Gary Bredfeldt

There are so many needs in the church that are crying out for our attention. Christians are suffering through abuse, poverty, divorce and many other issues that break our hearts and draw our attention. And our attention should be drawn to them. We must, according to Scripture, care for the poor, the downtrodden, the widows, the orphans, the abused and the cast off. We must or we are not loving as Jesus would love or serving as He would serve. HOWEVER–when these issues become our main focus we have allowed them, the issues, to usurp the place in our hearts and in our lives that only Christ Himself should occupy and we have enthroned them in His rightful place.

When we as Christians or as leaders in the church focus first on these things rather than realizing that such issues arise from a failure to teach the Gospel pure and undefiled, then we are adding to the sins committed against those very ones we desire to help. When we fail to speak first of Christ, when we fail to give Him His rightful place in our teaching, we are joining forces with the very ones we wish to speak out against. To fail to speak first and foremost of Christ and rather speak first and foremost to the issue at hand is to abuse the very ones we say we desire to serve and, worse, it is to commit idolatry. This isn’t to say that if someone is starving you don’t feed them before you try to convert them or if someone is being abused that you don’t get them to safety and get them the help they need before you address Christ. It would be ridiculous to even consider such. However once we have ensured their safety physically and emotionally we must begin to address their safety spiritually even as we address the issues they are facing. We cannot change behavior long term by simply teaching morals, offering up 10 steps or getting them into some program. In order to change behavior long term, to ensure the next generation is saved from the issues we are confronting, Christ must be given His rightful place in our teaching. No program can ever take His place; He alone changes hearts. When hearts are changed, lives are permanently redirected in a way that no secular or even “Christian” program can ever do. However this isn’t  about adding Christ to a program. It’s about His love and life flowing through us so that we are His instruments to do His will on the earth. When we are fully submitted to Him, He will act. We must reach out to the poor, the abused, the downcast and any and all who need us because we love God and because to do so is to honor Him. But if we do so and then our focus becomes alleviating abuse or poverty or anything else without focusing on the truth that is real freedom (freedom from sin, from hell, from destruction) then we are not only denying Christ but we are heaping further abuse upon those we claim to help. We must arm the ones we desire to help with the truth that will really set them free. We must teach single Moms how to love their children by teaching them of the love of Christ by teaching them the truth of God’s Holy Word without downplaying anything we think might offend. We must teach those who have been abused how to live so that they are truly free by teaching them of the freedom found only in Christ. If we do this then we are going to be helping to create better lives for them in a way that only addressing the betterment of their lives never could.


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QUIT loving them to death! (via neilschori.com)

I’ve counseled people for over 10 years for just about every kind of problem under the sun.  I’ve helped people with broken marriages, eating disorders, cutting, and just about every kind of addiction there is today.  There is one problem that makes me more upset than just about any other.  And it isn’t even the issue that is presented to me to “fix.”  It is the issue BEHIND the issue.  It is enabling.

Enabling can be done in a marriage when the unfaithful spouse has excuses made for him by the very wife that he betrayed.  Usually it sounds like this: “Bob wants to be faithful to me.  He just has an unusually high sex drive.  And his dad was the same way.  I’m pretty sure it’s genetic.  Men aren’t good at being monogamous, anyway.”

Enabling can also be done in a relationship that has been broken by domestic violence.  It may sound like this: “Adam is a good man.  He only hits me when his boss stresses him out at work.  He’s been doing much better recently.  He brought me flowers yesterday.  He really loves me!”

Enabling is often done in the context of substance abuse, too.  Many times, the addict’s loved ones are afraid that the addict will never talk with them again ….

To read in full, please go to QUIT loving them to death!.