A Cry For Justice

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

Jericho Road Fundamentalist Church — by Gary W

~~~Trigger Warning~~~

A student of theology, desiring to justify himself, said to his professor, a wise and Godly man in his 90’s, “And who is my neighbor?” The professor replied:

“At a time when nobody else appeared to be present, a young woman was walking through a remote corner of Jericho Avenue Park with her husband, a publicly charming predatory narcissist who had neither empathy nor conscience, but who was a prominent, highly respected, tithing church member. When the young woman meekly expressed an opinion that differed from her husband’s, he flew into a towering rage, verbally berating her, physically pummeling her, stripping her naked, forcing himself on her, and taking her phone, driver’s license, credit cards, check book, and cash. He then walked nonchalantly away, leaving her half dead.

“Now by chance a deacon had been observing this incident from behind a hedge. As a pretext for gazing on the young woman’s nakedness, the deacon approached her and began berating her for having “obviously” behaved in a manner that triggered the assault. After arbitrarily pontificating on the evils of provocative dress, sexually alluring ways of walking, and erotic speech–and after dwelling on the young woman’s supposed refusal to satisfy the desires such objectionable (supposed) conduct had most certainly engendered in her husband–he proceeded to call her a slut, a whore and worse. After reluctantly submitting to the young woman’s wailing, tearful pleas to call her pastor, the deacon, patting himself on the back for his magnanimity, trundled off to his Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting.

“The young woman’s pastor arrived shortly thereafter. After covering her nakedness with a blanket, and after interrogating her, he began lecturing her.*  Being convinced that the young woman had surely provoked her husband, her pastor berated her for having failed to glorify God in her marriage. He admonished her that she must surely have been relying on her marriage as a source of true happiness. Surely, he insisted, God, in His Providence, had visited humiliation on her because she had not been trusting God implicitly and doing His will in all things. The Pastor admonished the young woman that it was now her duty to love her husband with gracious gospel love, to respect him for his position over her, and to submit to him as unto the Lord. The pastor insisted that she must now demonstrate a love toward her husband that is large, constant, and free, and which does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life. The pastor insisted that it was now the young woman’s duty to respect her husband, consciously recognizing his special authority over her as her husband on the basis of God’s Word and the covenant she freely entered when she married him (never mind that the marriage had been arranged by her father the patriarch). Such submission, the pastor insisted, was to take the form of a cheerful acquiescence to her husband in all things consistent with the revealed will of Christ, with a sincere desire to please her husband–all for her husband’s good and Christ’s glory. Her pastor took special pains to emphasize how the young woman’s expression of an opinion contrary to her husband’s was in and of itself lacking in evident love and respect for him as her husband. Her pastor was especially incensed that the young woman had doubtless interrupted her husband with her opinion before he was finished teaching her something of great spiritual value.

“After assuring the young woman that her husband was much better than she deserved, and after indicting her as being a much worse wife to her husband than she ought to be, the pastor drove away without offering further assistance. After all, it would have been unseemly for a pastor to transport a woman clothed in only a blanket, and the civil authorities are never to be involved in internal church matters–or so the pastor thought. Also, the pastor felt that it was most urgent that he catch up with the husband to offer the support and comfort he must so urgently need after having been so intolerably provoked by his wife.

“But a radical secular feminist, a woman who was a director of a government funded women’s shelter, came along some time later, and when she saw the beaten, raped and robbed young wife, she had compassion. She went to her and held her in her arms, and called an ambulance and the police. The feminist accompanied the woman to the emergency room where she continued to administer comfort, supported her through the trauma of filing a police report, and paid the hospital’s charges. Afterwards the radical feminist arranged for the woman to stay at the women’s shelter, where there was food and clothing; and she also arranged and paid for ongoing, compassionate, healing counseling.

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the young wife?” the old professor finally asked.

The theology student said, “The one who showed her mercy.” And the professor said to him, “you go, and do likewise.” C.f. Luke 10:29-37.

Fictional but Representative Post Script

The husband, though prosecuted, was found not guilty by the jury following glowing testimony in his support by, not just the pastor, but by the woman’s father, mother and erstwhile friends. The husband was shortly thereafter elevated to the position of Assistant Pastor for married couples. The woman, having filed a police report, having refused to recant her statement, having consented to willingly and truthfully testify to the assault, and having refused to agree to a withdrawal of the divorce proceedings filed by her husband, was put out of her church, disowned by her family, deprived of custody of her young child and shunned by nearly all her acquaintance. But for the compassion of the radical secular feminist, the young woman likely would not have retained sufficient sanity to relate her story. Perhaps she would have taken her own life. She prefers not to say whether she has renounced her faith.

 

 

Footnote
*Here begins a parody of actual mandates contained in A Christian Wife’s Marriage Catechism published by D. Scott Meadows, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed), Exeter, New Hampshire USA.

Editor’s note:  The above footnote was added to this post at the request of the author, GaryW, on August 7, 2014.

38 Comments

  1. Wayne Boyd

    WOW! Well done. Encapsulates a whole mindset.

  2. Pat

    Excellent writing. Applying modern day circumstances to this parable sure does reveal truth and reason. It also exposes the church’s Pharisaical response to abusive situations, mine included. It’s a consolation and comfort that Yeshua sees the reality of the situation.

  3. This short piece has more impact than ten books on the topic. Thank you.
    Blessings,
    S/G

  4. Seeing Clearly

    This writing is the final prompting I needed to establish myself as a volunteer at a women’s shelter. The option to volunteer has presented itself to me in differing ways over the last few years. Now I am ready to involved myself. Thank you for the prompting.

    • That’s wonderful Seeing Clearly. If the shelter wants a copy or a few copies of my book, send me a shipping address and I’ll get them posted to you or the shelter. But please check first with the shelter. I don’t want to thrust my book on them without their permission. 🙂

      • Seeing Clearly

        Thank you, Barbara. I will feel free to request them from you.

  5. Brenda R

    Gary W,
    Although fictional, I believe this is someone’s actual story and you said it well. Sad, but true. Being “religious” does not mean you are compassionate or empathetic to another’s needs. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that you know God at all. The husband, pastor and deacon in this parable were all Pharisees. They were all “religious”, but none knew the Lord.

  6. Barbara,

    This is probably the best post you’ve ever written and, honey, you have authored some doozies. How I wish this wasn’t based squarely in fact, woven from the testimony of so many hurting women!

    Love you!

    • This was not written by me. I know it shows my byline, but that’s a WordPress artefact. WordPress gives the byline of whoever put the post up on th blog. I did that, but Gary W is the author — as it says in the title.

      Sorry for confusion. Sometimes with guest posts we open with a prefacing line saying it is a guest post; but with this one, that would have detracted from the power of it. So the byline is in the title.

      And I agree with you, Ida Mae, that this post is superb. But Gary W takes all the credit for that. My role was simply to invite him to write it.

      We met Gary W when he was commenting on the Meadows Catechisms at RBF. Since the Meadows’ catechisms, Gary has started commenting on our blog, but he’s been commenting perceptively on other anti-abuse blogs for some time.

      • I think we need to create a user identity at the back of the blog called Guest Poster. Then we can avoid these misunderstandings in the future. 🙂

      • Thanks for clarifying– Wonderful post Gary!

  7. The heart of Jesus comes out in this writing. To say “I’m moved” is the understatement of the year. This blog and your words are a powerful tool of healing and ministry in my life. This is where domestic abuse/spiritual abuse/trauma/ legalism all intersect…and it was done in HIS beautiful precious name…while they did not even know him. The fact that this truth is getting into my heart and ears shows me that My God loves me and is fighting for my heart and life. Thank you.

  8. Anonymous

    This is so accurate. So real it’s left me feeling overwhelmed and shaky.

    • Anonymous, you are not the only one who had powerful emotions while reading Gary’s post. When I first read it I had to take a break in the middle — my emotions were so strong that I couldn’t read it all in one go. If you’d been a fly on my wall you would have heard my aahs and groans and YES! YES! YES!-es.

      • Anonymous

        I kept hearing my pastors voice telling me there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to sit in worship with the man who raped me.
        I constantly remind myself that those words came from a man, not God but I have to admit it is very hard to keep that distinction clear in my head. Or maybe it’s in my heart where the boundaries are blurred.

      • Your pastor told you there was no reason you shouldn’t be able to sit in worship with the man who raped you? That is APPALLING. That man does not deserve to be called a pastor, he is a hired man not a shepherd. He lacks a shepherd’s heart. And he lacks even the decency we would expect from an average unbeliever. Aaargh! My sympathies, Anonymous. What he said to you was so wrong, so hurtful.

        He truly does belong to the Jericho Road club of Levites and Pharisees.

        You are not alone, we stand with you, weeping.

      • Brenda R

        Anon.
        kept hearing my pastors voice telling me there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to sit in worship with the man who raped me.

        There is no way that I could do this. There are other churches. The pastor should have made the man leave.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you.

        He assured me he wasn’t out of line for saying that because he’d expect no less of his wife and daughters.

        He said a lot of horrible hurtful things but this by far was the most. And all this after assuring me he and the church would be there for me, because of course he was the first person I went to when it all became too much.

        I don’t have much hope for finding support in the church any more.

      • Clarity

        Anonymous, We do stand with you, weeping. I am so sorry your pastor who you trust would be so ignorant and heartless. You are not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Isaiah40:31

    Very well written. It shows the true testimony of the fact that we have more empathy in the world than we do in our churches.

  10. Andrew Reavis

    Very well written.
    How did you know my story so well? It is very sad that this is so true in the church, and we experienced it first hand. Thankfully, we have been delivered and now want to help others.

  11. StandsWithAFist

    Absolutely brilliant, poignant, ripped-from-the-headlines, contemporary truth-telling. How many “quivering daughters” & spiritually-abused women & children will renounce their faith? How many will know in their innermost being that what was done to them “in Jesus name” was anything-but. I pray that they will know the Truth in spite of the deceit. “Let your heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

  12. My story too! We were taught to submit to our husbands (even though they were *expletive deleted*)
    they had the authority in the home over their wife and children. He is now with his fourth
    wife????????????????

  13. Heather

    Beautiful. Painful. Poignant.

    Thank you, Gary.

  14. Gary W

    At first I was gratified that my adaptation of Jesus’ parable was being well received. My initial gratification is being swallowed by horror and anger. Horror and anger that what ought to be no more than laughable farce turns out to be an accurate depiction of a very persistent and very dark reality. Horror and anger that so many have suffered so much at the hands of so many who ought to have honored, protected and loved. Horror and anger at the betrayal that has been and is being perpetrated in the name of Jesus. I am so sorry. I pray that those who have not yet done so will find the opportunity (and, where needed, courage) to escape whoever and whatever holds them in de facto bodily slavery — in actual slavery of soul and spirit. I pray that all will find healing, wholeness and peace in the arms of our infinitely and perfectly loving Lord. I pray that all will find others who know how to appropriately and safely communicate the Love of Jesus.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      I thank you for this writing. Unfortunately, it is indeed the truth. However, I think it is also important to state, that these things are exactly what happened to Jesus. He also was falsely accused, abused, thrown out, shamed and humiliated. As the Pharisees wished to make Him bend to their rules, wrongful interpretations of Scripture and man-made doctrines, He refused to. As they upheld their laws and staunch and wooden interpretations, demanding all submit to them and showing no mercy or grace, they stood condemned before Christ. Jesus stood for truth and righteousness – mercy and grace – where He still stands. Victims of heinous abuse, which is any form of abuse, are sharing in those same sufferings Jesus endured and we ought not let it cause us to renounce our true faith in Christ, but rather see those enemies as enemies of Christ and His Cross and know that we who have been so heinously victimized, belong to Him – truly. We must find our strength to continue this fight, in knowing that we are right along side the sufferings of Christ and that He is for us – not against us. The rest are the false followers and professors – the “religious” men who know not God. They are well versed in the Scriptures, and have taken their own authority, but they do not “know” God. They know not His heart of mercy or compassion. Their goal is to uphold what they believe is their own rightful interpretation of Scripture. They lord it over women, trying to make us believe that we are less than the men; and teaching men that they deserve (are entitled) to abuse when women so much as speak or share what Christ has given and taught them; or fail in this sweetly disguised but wrongful and abusive obedience/respect that these false leaders have established for women to adhere to in their marriages. As John 16 states, “they will do these things because they have not known Me, nor the Father.” Pure and simple.

      We will continue to fight this fight. In the meantime, we must console ourselves and draw our strength to go on, knowing that Jesus is on our side and against all those who oppress and hold His people in bondage to abuse and victimization in the home.

      • Andrew Reavis

        I agree with what you are saying. We cannot renounce our faith, and Jesus is always beside us.
        Unfortunately, as we have experienced, abusers use these exact words to keep us in bondage. I did to my bride when I was abusing her, and our church and family used it against us.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Andrew-The misuse of God – His name, Scripture, attributes, etc. – to abuse is never acceptable. When leaders and husbands use God to abuse, it is heinous. However, that is not what I am doing here. My point is that the truths of God are meant to be good and positive things for victims. They need to know that they can use what has been misused against them, to understand they do have power, they are loved and cared for by God and also to draw strength to continue on – even after decades of abuse. In other words, those same truths used to abuse us, can be used to help us when used rightly. I believe that abusers twisting God’s Word or His attributes to maintain their position of power and control, does immense damage to their victims. Bearing the truth to those same victims in an effort to help aid their healing is very different, than abusing with those truths.

        My point is that the abusers in Jesus’ time (aka Pharisees) were doing the same to Him as they do to us today, and it is because they do not “know” Jesus or the Father, as stated in John 16. That should bring some consolation to those of us who have been heinously abused by “c”hurches/leaders. It has been a great help to me, to see myself alongside the sufferings I have had to endure with the same things Jesus endured – although of course Jesus is perfect and I am not. I am not saying it makes abuse “okay because it happened to Jesus too”, which is what abusers will do. I am saying that perhaps we can find some consolation in knowing how much God hates what they do to us, because He hated it when they did to Jesus, too. Hope that helps clear up any confusion from my comment.

      • Thanks, IAMB. I hear in your comment that you are encouraging victims of abuse to not abandon their faith in Christ. For faith in Christ Jesus is faith in one who loves us and understands our suffering because He experienced suffering himself.

        If I may attempt to put this in a rather coarse nutshell, the trick in not abandoning one’s faith when one has been abused by religious people is to see that the abusers and their allies are not representing true Christianity at all: they are displaying the twisted cruel lies, double-standards and hypocrisy of the devil and his minions. So it is fine to reject their teaching and their control. Cling to Jesus, and decidedly reject those who pose as Christians but are really Pharisees. And if you find it hard to discern who is who, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Yes, Barb. That is a good way to communicate that and I agree. My point was exactly that. It is hard to come to the place where we can finally discern the lies etc. we were taught by abusers, but when we do, it is very freeing. Thanks for helping clarify what I was trying to say!

    • Brenda R

      Gary W,
      I have to thank you for writing this so well. It is a hard read because I know how true it really is. This is just the tip of the iceburg. There are many others who haven’t found this site, have no access to communication at all or wouldn’t speak if they could for fear of what could happen to them if they did.

    • Anonymous

      As much as reading it hurts I keep returning to read it again because it somehow makes it possible to feel how much the church hurt me. When I think through my experience I’m numb but when I read this i seem to be able to sort out what the feelings are.

      Thanks for writing it and sharing it here.

      • Anonymous — (((((hugs))))

        I know what you mean about how reading it hurts and helps; it helps to un-numb and un-tangle one’s emotions. I remember in the early years of my recovery I read so much. Each time I read something which made me realise the pain and injustice of what I’d been through, I would feel like I’d been run over by a steam roller. I would sit on the couch, just flattened. Almost stupified. But it helped. It helped my recovery. That may sound paradoxical, but it isn’t. I think many survivors understand this.

      • Brenda R

        I have begun to wonder if we ever fully heal this side of Heaven. Reading or listening to other people’s stories bring me to tears as I try to find words of support. It seems endless. When I see a list of people who are getting married I wonder how long it will be before another woman is entering the fog. Then I cry out thanking God for the next woman who steps out and is rescued from the invisible prison. At the same time I just want it to all stop. I want to watch as the evil one is thrown into the pit and bound there, never to be allowed control of the hearts of men again.

      • Heather

        Brenda, I see things much the same way. Abuse kills our souls to some degree. Whether we get to repair and find healing I am not certain. But I do think, with God’s mercy and grace, perhaps He will create a lovely person of compassion, authenticity, truth. This is what I long for. Slowly, very slowly, I see glimpses of it. For that I am grateful.

        For each and every heart that has been damaged I pray we find whatever it is that we can forge with The Lord. He loves us more than we can imagine.

  15. cindy burrell

    This is a keeper, our Lord’s metaphoric story beautifully adapted to the abuse victim’s story so that perhaps even heavily indoctrinated fellow believers might be compelled to see the truth. Perhaps…

    Great post, Gary W.

  16. For My Daughter's Sake

    I shared this all too similar retelling of this parable, on my Facebook wall, because I was astounded with the similarity to her persecution, by ‘the church’…For My daughter’s sake, with these comments…
    ***
    In the famous Parable of the Good Samaritain, found in Luke 10:25-37, most professing Christians would hope they would behave as the ‘Good Samaritain’ did, when faced with a suffering human being in their midst, and not behave like the religious priest and Levite, who ‘passed by’ the suffering, beaten, afflicted ‘man,’ with their pious judgements, choosing to do nothing, to relieve suffering.

    Perhaps because America is so comfortable, and we live in our sealed houses, in our ‘safe’ neighborhoods, attending our ever so carefully chosen houses of worship, where we all seem to ‘look’ alike, and ‘seem’ fine, on the outside, we assume this parable is regarding the ‘rare’ moment, when a beggar passes us by, or when we learn of the suffering in far off lands who need our financial assistance, or those at the local homeless shelters, we forget that our ‘neighbor’ is sometimes, literally, right beside us, walking with us, looking like us, then somehow, by word of mouth, or with our own ears and eyes, we become aware of their suffering…and choose to ‘pass by’ the hurting person, perhaps judging why the afflicted person has found themselves in the pitiable state they are in, and justify, our own lack on interaction by our presumptive, rationales.

    “Let it not be once named among those, who profess Godliness’…that they did NOT walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,’ when believers, ‘meet’ or hear of an afflicted person, like the one found in the modern day parable below, Remembering that ‘Christ hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.’ Remember, it ‘is’ religious people in this parable in Luke, who pass by.

    Let our good deeds ‘unto one of the least of these,’ be done, knowing that in showing mercy and love in rescuing, helping, and showing kindness, and respect, and ministering to known victims of domestic violence, you ‘have done it unto Jesus Christ.’ and that good work, ‘is’ evidence of your faith, and is a sweetsmelling savour” unto God.

    “Show, your Faith, BY, your works.” ‘…know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
    (Eph. 5:2-4 & Matthew 25:39-41, James 2:18 & 20)

    (Thank you for writing this version- I wish it were titled, ‘Female Assaulted, on ‘The Jericho Road’)

    For My Daughter’s Sake,
    Michele~

    • Heather

      That was excellent, FMDS! I hope and pray that your well chosen words reach the hearts of many.

      It brought me back and confirmed a certain lifestyle in American neighbourhoods. Familiar territory. And few see what resides behind the Sunday morning facades. Oh that more would have the courage to be real and say “no more!”
      Thank you for sharing.

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