A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A Sure Sign that Something is Wrong in a Church – Failure to Care for Widows and Orphans

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)

One of the first ministries that went into effect in the newly baptized Christian church after Pentecost was the ministry to widows. Due to apparent partiality, a problem of favoritism arose and had to be dealt with. Men full of faith and the Holy Spirit were selected to oversee the ministry and God continued to bless the church.

This tells us that the Holy Spirit directs His people to care for the oppressed – widows and orphans. The thing is even connected directly with the growth of the church. And it tells us something else: When a local church neglects the protection and care of widows and orphans (like abuse victims), the Holy Spirit is not operative, is not being obeyed, and whatever “growth” is occurring is most probably NOT true growth of the body of Christ produced by the Spirit. 

Now consider this conclusion carefully. This means then that IF (as we believe to be the case) most local churches are not effecting justice upon and caring for abuse victims in their midst, then at best they are quenching and disobeying the Holy Spirit, and even more – Christ may well have departed from them long ago. For all the show and glamour of senior pastors, multiple staff members, whazoo worship teams, new people being “won to Christ” and new buildings going up, if such a place is dealing out the scenario of injustice to the oppressed in the all too typical manner we write about on this blog and which so many of you have suffered through, then the Spirit of Christ has left the temple.

Is that an exaggeration? An overstatement of the case? I bet some people will claim that it is. But to them, I say, look at the Word of God. How can it be denied in light of all the Lord has to say about caring for widows and orphans, in both Old and New Testaments, and in light of what we have shown here in Acts 6….how can it be denied that any church not faithfully rendering true justice and aid to victims, including dispensing justice to their abusers is only a hollow shell from which Christ has departed?

A Typical Characteristic of an Abuser – He Never Stops Trying

Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward…(Matthew 26:59-60)

It is not surprising that abusers are accusers. They are, after all, of their father the devil who is known as the accuser of the brethren. Slander and lies are his stock and trade and so it is with his children.

Probably every single abuse victim has been falsely accused, lied about, slandered, and libeled by their oppressor. And people have believed those lies. Duped by the abuser, they side with and enable him, becoming his allies.  And all this does not stop with the divorce.

Abusers do what they do. They do what they are. They keep on, for years and years, accusing and lying in order to oppress.  It has been my experience that years, even decades, can go by. You may not have even thought of your old abuser much of late and you are pressing on with your life. And then. . .bang! Some word comes your way. Some person you haven’t seen for along while. Something or someone communicates to you that the abuser is STILL at it. Spinning his evil lies. Making his false accusations. And people still are believing him.

Abusers you see, are wicked. They are children of the Destroyer and destruction is their mission. They don’t stop because they still are what they were. You will never, you see, hear anything like the following words from the abuser:

Oh yes, her. We were married for a long time and I am ashamed to say that I treated her. . .very badly. Oh I justified what I did to her for quite a few years but as I look back on the whole thing now, I am as I say, ashamed of myself. How petty I was. It was all my fault.

Nope. That is not going to happen. What WILL happen if you somehow, as I say by some word from someone or some other happening that communicates information to you about that old abuser, what you WILL see (and perhaps you will even be a bit shocked by the thing) is that the abuser hasn’t skipped a beat all these years. It is as if those years since you got away from him weren’t years at all, but only a few days. His character is unchanged. His tactics are the same.

Because abusers abuse. They never stop trying. It’s in their DNA. It’s in their soul.

Thursday Thought — It’s the Abuser’s Choice

Another gem from the GEMS page:

 

You can lead an abuser to God’s mercy, but you can’t make him drink.
[Ps Jeff Crippen]

I Will Remember You: a poem by a reader

This poem post is by one of our longtime readers, IamMyBeloved’s.  Many thanks to her!

The other day as I was feeling the consequences of being married to an abuser, I started recalling events in my mind of how our lives had been with this man and all he had done to us. That is when I decided to write this.

I will remember you…

As the man who abused my children…

I will remember you…

As the man who tried to put your disabled daughter away in a home where she would be alone, afraid and completely away from all that is familiar to her, just so you did not have to take care of her or me…

I will remember you…

As the man who put your adolescent through psychological testing so you could prove she was crazy, not even thinking about her or the consequences this would have to her life…

I will remember you…

As the man who raped and pillaged your family financially, to the point that at times we could not even purchase milk, though I let you walk away a millionaire…

I will remember you…

As the man who because of the fear you instilled by your abuse, caused the children to scatter like mice when they heard your hand touch the front door handle…

I will remember you…

As the man who sought out the aid of others to try to put me, your wife of decades and mother of your children, away in a mental institution, where my children would be left alone and without a mother.

I will remember you…

As the man who caused your family to live in complete terror of you, because of your abuse.

I will remember you…

As the man your children believed had locked their mother in the garage and set it on fire…

I will remember you…

As the man who was forgiven by us for all your sin against us, and yet it made no difference in your life as you continued to pursue us to destroy us…

I will remember you…

As the man who was so highly abusive that you incited a “c”hurch against me and your children and would not stop until they had excommunicated me…

I will remember you…

As the man who caused your children to have to get counseling to deal with the fear and shame you caused them to bear…

I will remember you…

As the most dangerous person to my soul that I have ever known, who cast me to the street and sought to rip me from God’s hand…

I will remember you…

As the man who blamed me and your children for your family’s abuses and psychological madness, even though it was not us.

I will remember you…

As the man who we loved and tried to lead to God, willing to forgive all your faults and sins against us, who in turn savagely tried to starve and ruin us…

I will remember you…

As the man who sweetly wooed and won my heart, through deception, never revealing who you really were, until the marriage vows were taken and the doors were shut.

But then, after I remember who you really were, I will remember my God.

I will remember that He holds all power and restrained your evil against us.

I will remember for the rest of my life how my God reached out of the Heavens and delivered us from your heavy-handed abuse.

I will remember that all your attempts to put me away, were snuffed out by my gracious Lord.

I will remember that He loved me enough to allow enough to happen to cause me never to look back.

I will remember that He is my Savior, my provider, my Husband, my Friend, my All in All and that His banner over me is love.

I will remember that this same Jesus is all those same things to my beautiful children and that He will heal their devastation.

I will remember that somehow I forgot to find out whether you were a loyal, trustworthy, caring and loving best friend who could be a godly husband and father to me and our children but I won’t forget to find those things out in the future.

I will remember that profession of Christ means little and remember that true Christians bear good fruit.

I will remember that forgiveness does not mean “reconciliation” nor does it mean someone does not have to face the consequences for their sin and crimes.

I will remember that there is a difference between being deceived and being deceptive.

I will remember there is a difference between bearing a wicked evil heart and just being a Christian person who still sins.

Lastly, I will remember, that we have all forgiven you and will still forgive you each time you choose to abuse or endanger us.

Sadly, when rare soft echoes of laughter are heard in the walls of this home, they are overshadowed by the reign of terror you once had here — and are drowned out by the memory of prior cries your children made, pleading with God for Him to please make the abuse stop and free us all from the terror we were living in.

We are now free. That freedom means to us that we are free to serve God fully again, free to laugh again, free to live again, free to love again, free to be happy again and free to still pursue action if you decide to victimize us — ever again.

Real Life Examples of Verbal Abuse

1. Belittling sarcasm, male privilege, verbal abuse disguised as a joke and played to an audience

I was at a home decor store the other day and there was this 50 something year old man wearing golf clothes holding two metal post things that you’d hang planters on. His wife and either her mom or his mom – a woman so old and frail she could’ve been Methuselah’s grandma, were trying with all their might to get this giant box off a shelf that was too high for them. The golf guy who, judging by his clothes and his tan, wanted everyone to at least THINK he’s athletic was standing by the entrance to the checkout lane watching them, with the poles leaning on his shoulder, and he called out “Some time this century ladies!”

I looked at him, then looked at two ladies, looked back and asked, “Are you talking to THEM?”

He repeated his rude remark and added that the poles were heavy. Then he strolled over to them, leaned the “heavy” poles on Granny Methuselah. To my great surprise she didn’t crumple under the burden. He got the giant box the last part of the way into the cart. I informed him as calmly as I could muster that they had worked VERY hard to try to get that box down.

Then with the “heavy” poles leaning on Granny Methuselah, he proceeded to fiddle with a wheel on a fountain he picked up from a nearby shelf. He turned it over, read the label, looked for others like it so he could figure out what powered it, and so on. I was boiling. I thought of so many things to say. “So the poles are so heavy that the Tiger Woods wannabe complains, but they are okay for grandma to hold up while you tinker with a tacky fountain?”

But I know that he would only take it out on wife and grandma. He won’t get it. He will only punish others in a fit of shame dumping. Knowing that helped to restrain me. I didn’t want them to have to pay for my sassing him about his disrespectful behavior.

2. Countering

According to Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship,

countering is the dominant response of some verbal abusers.  He sees his partner as an adversary.  How dare she have a different view from his?  If she sees things differently, he may feel he is losing control and dominance of her.  Consequently he may choose to argue against her thoughts, her perceptions, or her experience of life itself.  As a category of verbal abuse, countering is one of the most destructive to a relationship because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality and it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate thinks about anything.

The other day I helped with a volunteer project. A friend and some strangers were assembling some equipment for a local charity organization. There was a little ramp thing for a wheelchair. My friend noticed that one side is textured and the other isn’t. So she pointed out to this fellow volunteer, a guy I don’t know, “That should go with the texture part up so wheelchairs can get traction.” The guy replied that the wheelchairs don’t need traction but the kids walking up the ramp do. So he was going to do what she said, but not for WHY she said it.

I caught her eye and remarked, “I heard it. That’s called countering.” We left him to assemble it his way for his reasons. My friend is older and wiser than me. She commented that he’s the kind of guy who has to be right and can’t let others think THEY are right, only him. I learn from watching these folks.

An example of what respect looks like

Contrast these two interactions with what I saw between with my pastor who was injured recently and his wife.

Pastor was standing up front getting ready to hold one of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. His wife noticed that he was in a spot that would put strain on his injury because he’d have to hold the wine/juice which is the heavier of the two elements. She made a little motion with her hands. Pastor grinned and nodded. He moved to the bread-holder spot and no one ended up wearing the wine that he doesn’t currently have the strength to hold up. Pastor’s wife offered her input out of love and concern. Pastor received it that way and was grateful. And I am privileged to worship alongside folks who treat each other with respect.

Psalm 94 — O God of vengeance, shine forth!

O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”  (Ps 94:1-7)

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.  (16-17)

Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.  (20-23)

Now over to you readers: feel free to tell us what this brings up for you.

And for those of you with sharp memories, yes, we’ve had a Sunday post on this Psalm before, but the ACFJ team is stretched right now so I think it’s okay to feature it again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,340 other followers