A Cry For Justice

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

The silence of our friends — by Aimee Byrd, from Housewife Theologian

We’ve been betrayed. This is something that has disturbed me, as well as a handful of other women writers, for a while now. We’ve tried to respectfully engage, and we have been ignored. Completely. So I put a few rocks in my snowballs and threw them out, hoping the sting would provoke some men to wake up and say something. Some have. That’s why I was so pleased to share Liam Goligher’s guest post. All of a sudden people are listening. And asking questions.

CBMW in particular owes a lot of women an apology. They haven’t acknowledged one woman* who has critiqued their fringe teaching and asked for them to think of its practical consequences. And they wouldn’t answer my one reasonable question about their stance on Nicene Trinitarian confessions. It has made some wonder whether they are even interested in listening to women. This is not complementarity according to how I thought of the definition of the word. It seems that “complementarity” has been reduced to nothing more than authority and submission, one inherent in men, the other in women.

Women have been betrayed by the packaging and mass selling of hyper-authoritative teaching under the guise of complementarity. Men who know better are just helping to perpetuate it. And women who know better are also silent. Why is that?

*****
Read the rest of Aimee Byrd’s article here: The Silence of Our Friends.
And you can leave comments there too which is fantastic,
because at Alliancenet’s website comments are not usually allowed.
Aimee Byrd’s blog is the exception.

*****

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22 Comments

  1. Traddy

    The women who have been abused are in a state described by many as a sort of fog – some have to leave the abuse to heal, others can heal within and during the relationship, but most must leave. Look how long it takes victims to speak out that were in the Holocaust or under forms of slavery: not all can or will, some people choose to forget, they stay silent. […]….we are the suffering silent.

    Unfortunately some churches applaud those that suffer and encourage, justify acceptance. […] You are pioneers in a process of revitalizing the Christians to wake up, and leave the abusive teachings, and teachers. This is not about money, nor power – it’s about justice and reality and truth. You are very right we must speak out, but the person who suffers within these relationships is not the one who can do so…Jesus didn’t say much on the cross.

    I’m glad to renounce the traditional Catholic teachings (Latin rite) that have destroyed my family, and the narrow minded priests that did nothing to listen to that reality, nor to help us. They owe us all, all the women who have suffered similarly, a very great apology. The worst of this is bearing huge families ( churches growing by increase not evangelization) and the children are not raised nor educated properly. Much has been swept under the carpet (where the floor is filthy).

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for this. I was raised in this religion and it is such an anti-Christian, anti-people-with-a-conscience cult and it’s absolutely about power and control. Totally, and completely about keeping people controlled so that they are willing victims. “Tap yourself on the head three times, turn around while holding your breath and while standing on your tip-toes and you will be forgiven for your sins.” The having “millions of children” thing totally abuses everyone. The kids don’t get enough love (neither of my parents are able to love others), and they are forced to live with and get along with evil siblings and are considered to be nothing and believe that they don’t matter and are replaceable. It’s why cults / religions like this one, Quiverfull and Mormonism are so dangerous and it’s also why they can become so powerful. Many who practice these religions have no conscience so the “controlling others” is right up their alley and for those with a conscience they are so brain-washed and abused that they rarely see the truth of the matter. And then another generation is born to replace the one before it with no gleaning of God’s truth through his word or growing in Christ. Many in the Catholic faith have never read the bible and are proud of this. They instead practice the “traditions” of their religion and repeat the rhetoric that they were taught.

      The cover up of the priests molesting children–which still goes on today–leaves such a stench in my nose that this alone would be enough to turn me away from it. But the darkness that is associated with the Catholic church–the darkness of the buildings themselves, the darkness of the men who speak for it (priests), the hopelessness that comes from the never ending working-your-way-to-heaven lie is enough to make many commit suicide. Yet for psychopaths it gives them the false sense that they have a chance to get there (to heaven) and let’s face it, they LOVE the thought that others will be still be praying for them long after they are dead–the more evil they were the more others will be praying for them.

      I wrote this in a previous post but would like to reiterate it here. One of my many sisters “dated” a priest for many years. This priest had many women that he had sex with and the only reason he had become a priest in the first place was because his mother wanted to be able to brag that she had a son who was a priest so that SHE could be praised / worshiped for it. He told my sister that it was common knowledge among the priests that when a gay man was new in town and needed to find out where all the gay hangouts were he could just ask any of the local Catholic priests because many of them were gay. Now this was decades ago before the internet and before it was okay to be out of the closet but I thought this was “interesting.” (At the time that I heard this I was still a child and I was actually HORRIFIED by it.) It is so heart wrenching to think that I used to believe that there was something wrong with me and those like me who are capable of loving others and who are destroyed by the lie that is this religion. Of course I didn’t know what the difference between us was until the past few years and then the having to go back over my life in my mind and heart and reframe it with the TRUTH of this has taken even more time but it’s also what has enabled me to heal and to grow in the Lord. Thank you for broaching this subject.

  2. Avid Reader

    IS CMBW ignoring your questions because they believe that women don’t have the right to question theology in the first place?

    Think about this. CMBW’s leader, Dr. Wayne Grudem wrote in his book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth that women are allowed to prophesy in church but NOT JUDGE prophesy. He actually says that women should remain silent in church on doctrinal matters because for them to question a spoken prophesy or utterance in tongues “involves assuming the possession of superior authority in matters of doctrinal or ethical instruction.” (p. 233)

    Chew on that for a while. Grudem believes that women cannot speak up and test a spoken prophesy because this “would become a springboard for judgements.” (p. 234)

    Grudem writes, “If someone gave a prophecy that Jesus was coming back in 5 days there would need to be a correction given before the congregation……Paul says men should give such a correction for the women are to “keep silent in the churches” during that time. They are not to pass judgment out loud on the prophecies……Paul views speaking aloud to judge prophecies as a “governing” or “ruling” function in the congregation—the opposite of being submissive to male leadership in the church.” (p. 234)

    Think about what’s happening here. The Bible commands women to “test all things.” That includes doctrine! (1Thess 5:21) And Jesus commended the Ephesians for “testing those who said they were Apostles, you found them liars.” (Rev 2:2). But when Grudem tells women they have no place to question doctrine in church that sets up the congregation to accept everything they hear from the pulpit without being able to test it according to the Word like the Bereans did with the Apostle Paul. Is Grudem trying to take away women’s discernment? If you don’t have the ability to discern truth from error, that sets you up to be deceived. God commands us “be NOT deceived.” Gal 6:7

    How could Grudem possibly justify this? On pages 295-296 he argues that women are more easily deceived than men. Therefore Grudem says that the fact Eve was deceived is a “characteristic of Eve that he sees as relevant for ALL WOMEN in all cultures.”

    Wow! Chew on that for a while—Grudem’s point is that since Eve made one mistake then every other born again woman will automatically make the same mistake.

    On page 82 he writes, “There is a consistent pattern in Scripture….where women gained power as queens in Israel or Judah they led the people into evil.” Then he quotes the stories of Jezebel and Athaliah.

    Now follow Grudem’s logic here—his point is that because Jezebel and Athaliah were evil, therefore every born again female believer will automatically do evil just because God created them as women! That completely ignores that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Phil 2:13 (NLT)

    Plus, that dishonors the atonement of Christ! That kind of logic is saying,

    “That all women must suffer pain for the sin of Eve. Then we are taught that God is punishing women—-not for their sins—not because Eve sinned—but God is punishing women for being what He Himself made them—women! But to believe that requires you to believe that the atonement of Christ washed all sin away except for Eve’s! And it robs Christ of glory in that His death atoned for all sin, including Eve’s of course!”
    -Dr. Bushnell

    • Daisy

      Avid Reader said,

      Now follow Grudem’s logic here—his point is that because Jezebel and Athaliah were evil, therefore every born again female believer will automatically do evil just because God created them as women! That completely ignores that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Phil 2:13 (NLT)

      Yes, even if one grants the view that women are more easily deceived than men and not as pure and holy and so forth, their view does not account for the fact that Christ freed women as much as men via his atonement at the cross.

      About the first part of your comment I quoted: noticed how [folk like Grudem] fail to cite male examples from the Bible. There are plenty of male leaders in the Bible who did evil deeds, sin, or who were deceived.

      There are male leaders and preachers today in the American church who deceive both men and women and who are deceived, and who sin – who get found out having affairs, or abusing children and so on.

      Yet, I never see such people arguing that because some men do wrong that all men should be banished from leadership or ministry positions. They only apply this faulty logic to women.

  3. HelpingaFriend

    To piggy back on what was said above, we could also point to many, many evil kings of Israel who were male and what about Deborah? She did a good job as judge, spiritual leader, warrior, etc. when no adequate men could be found.

    Now I have a very practical question… What do you recommend be done by a church when a wife confides that she is being emotionally abused by her husband, but has absolutely no intention of leaving him since she is in her 60s and very sick? We are supporting her and helping her heal and establish boundaries, but what about him? If he is made to leave the church, she will leave too.

    Sorry if this has been addressed already on this site, but I’m new here.

    • Hi HelpingaFriend,

      Welcome to the blog! Thank you for your comment and for being there to support your friend. You will notice that I changed you screen name as it revealed your identity. We have abusers and their allies that stalk the blog and while you may not have a safety issue, we want to help protect your friend. If you want a different screen name, feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com and I can change it.

      We encourage new commenters to visit our New Users Information page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

    • Hi HelpingaFriend
      I honour you for helping your friend!

      If you go to our Resources tab in the top menu, you will find a list of sub-pages there. One of the pages is for Supporters of Victims of Domestic Abuse. The links on that page will be helpful to you.

      What can be done by the church to help such a woman? If the outcome of the church expelling the abuser is that the victim leave with him, that is not a good outcome because at this church people are wanting to support her, whereas she is less likely to find support in other churches, especially as the abuser will choose the next church — and you can be sure he will choose a church that he can do a good snow job on.

      I think in a case like this, the church is best guided by the victim’s wishes. And the more the church intelligently supports the victim (see that Resources page I mentioned above), the more likely it is that the victim, in conjunction with her supporters in the church and her supporters in the secular DV sector if she has any, will find that perhaps she does have some options, even micro options, which might help her be more safe and less oppressed. Your goal is to support the victim without running the risk of exposing her to more abuse, more isolation by the abuser, more coercive control, etc. It isn’t easy! None of us have magic wands with which we could make the abuser go up in a puff of green smoke!

      Health is a BIG issue for many longtime victims of abuse. And all victims, even those who do not have bad health from the abuse, tend to find that they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: every choice, every option, is risky and dangerous…. it’s a polylemma (more than a dilemma — there are multiple choices, all of them unpalatable.)

      The fundamental rule in supporting victims is: honour the victim’s right to make her own choices in her own time, and support her whatever choices she makes. Show concern. Believe her. Listen to her… and listen some more…. and empathize and say to her that you care about her. And respect her choices.

      And elucidate and honour her resistance to the abuse. That page on the Resources will give you links to how to do this.

      • Daisy

        For HelpingaFriend but sort of also addressing Barbara Roberts’ post.

        I’m not a married lady but was engaged to a guy who financially exploited me, and I have a few verbally or emotionally abusive family members, including a sister who is really bad with the verbal abuse.

        I’ve had bully bosses as an adult who played mind games with me and who were emotional abusers.

        I found one thing that helped me cope with some of these people was learning that the abuse was about the abuser, not about me.

        I stopped accepting blame or responsibility for the awful behavior of these people (some of them would try to convince me that I was the problem, or that I was setting them off and hence deserving of the abuse.)

        I read a lot of books and blogs about things like verbal abuse […].

        In my super-doormat days, and when I had no self confidence at all, I would sit silently and take verbal or emotional abuse from people. Their nasty comments and attitudes would cut to the core of my self-worth. On some level, I was believing that the trash people said about me was true – that I was worthless and so on.

        […]

        After having read all these books by psychologists and therapists and so on, I realized I’m not the problem – that anything, my sister or other verbal abusers who scream at me, it’s about them, and not about me. The problem resides in them, not in me.

        After reading the books and blogs about these subjects, I realize I deserve to be treated with just as much consideration and respect as anyone else does. So, at this stage, the cruel comments my sister makes at me don’t cut me to the core nearly as much as they used to.

        I stopped taking my sister’s jabs and put downs to heart. I realize she is messed up in the head and needs help – not me.

        I’m also not as terrified of my sister’s awful temper as I used to be and have even stood up to her (verbally) over the phone a time or two.

        When I stood up to my sister, she became even more verbally abusive, and I had to hang the phone up on her. Luckily, we do live apart (she might be visiting this summer, though).

        I have one or two other family members, including a brother, who went to 12 step programs, such as A.A., for years. I have learned not to discuss these types of issues with him, because A.A. has taught him to be very victim-blaming.

        I used to buy into the victim-blaming by others quite a bit, but no longer. Victim-blaming is another danger that people in abusive relationships need to be on the look out for. Some people you go to for help, instead of helping you, may put you down and hold you responsible for the abuser’s behavior.

        When I told my brother a few years ago how our sister badly ripped into me without provocation on my part when I went to visit her at her home – she came into the room where I was sitting and started verbally lashing me – my brother asked me something like, “What did you do to set her off” – as if to suggest I was partially at fault for being attacked. (He got this sort of tactic from attending A.A. for many years.)

        His question suggested I must have done something to “ask for” being verbally abused by our sister. I was not at fault. I did not “ask for” that horrible ranting she carried out. I was merely reading a magazine in quiet, minding my own business, when she came into the room and verbally attacked me for ten or more minutes.

        I have since learned from reading books that no, I am not to blame AT ALL for her nasty tirades (or for anyone else’s), and that there is no excuse for that behavior.

        […]

  4. Stronger Now

    At a home schooling conference I attended, the speaker said that wives should ONLY ask questions of their husbands, regarding spiritual matters, and ONLY at home. He specifically mentioned that even when the husband is not a believer, and he never reads the Bible or goes to church, he remains his wife’s sole spiritual authority. If she has a question about doctrine or its application, she is to ask her spiritually ignorant, unbelieving husband, and his blind “interpretation” or “instruction” is the final word to her.

    Yeah, that was the last home schooling conference I ever went to. The lengths the hyper-patriarchy will go to, to keep women subjugated, know no bounds.

    The “Eve was deceived, therefore all women are prone to being deceived and their spiritual discernment is not to be trusted” is the rationale of a book I read, written by a woman, which is a virtual handbook for setting oneself up to be abused.

    • Saved By Grace

      Men blame women for Eve’s deception YET God blames man for sin entering into the world. There is no mention of Eve’s deception:

      “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

    • I asked a pastor at a Lutheran Church to explain something in the sermon he preached minutes ago to me and he immediately said I was to go to my husband for that information and teaching when we were at home. I was so embarrassed I asked and felt sure I must have sinned. Stupid and low feeling.

      I never asked him another question or tried to discuss Christian things. And honestly didn’t talk to him about much of anything after either. It seemed I wasn’t supposed to discuss the sermon with anyone other than my husband?? That may be taking it to far but I didn’t know why I shouldn’t. He quoted a scripture about women being silent in the church. How are we to encourage and explain things to each other? Seriously, only my husband? At the time I didn’t trust anything my h would say because of his actions and verbal treatment of myself and the family. He didn’t seem to agree with the Lutheran church and really seemed contentious toward everyone.

      • Avid Reader

        His Banner Over Me Is Love,

        You deserved to be treated better than that—that was spiritual abuse. How could that Lutheran Pastor treat you like a child just because you had an honest question?

        The crazy thing is that he had to ignore the ONE HUNDRED verses in the Bible telling us to speak up so he could focus on the one verse that at first glance sounds like its telling women to be silent! I agree with MarkQ on this that those verses about silence in church came because “worship in that church has become a chaotic mess, and Paul is trying to set up some ground rules so that people can exercise their gifts in order and not confusion.”

        And you are totally right that its ridiculous to tell women that we are only allowed to discuss the sermon with our husbands. The idea that women have to learn all their theology second hand through their husband TOTALLY VIOLATES SCRIPTURE. That’s trying to put a mediator between you and God. There’s only one mediator between us and God—Jesus Christ (1Timothy 2:5) —anything else would be teaching another Gospel which the Apostle Paul warned us about. We have to be on our guard because there’s way too much mainstream Christian theology that’s still trying to put that mediator between you and God.

  5. MarkQ

    This is definitely an area I need to study more. I see the arguments from both sides. Not Grudem’s hyper-patriarchal ideas, but the teaching of the Reformed church that women should not be elders. One of the interesting challenges is that “woman” and “wife” are the same word, and generally it is the context that is used to decide, but that leads to translation problems. For example, where Paul is talking about deacons, the verse is translated “wives, likewise”, but that is theology placed on the word, because the word is simply women.

    But, even then, the passage about prophecy is specifically in the context of public worship. The gist of the passage is that worship in that church has become a chaotic mess, and Paul is trying to set up some ground rules so that people can exercise their gifts in order and not confusion.

    Grudem’s teaching is completely out of step with scripture. “There is a consistent pattern in scripture.” Yeah, two evil queens, but notice that he has to say “Judah or Israel”, because the Queen of Sheba is held up as an example of a true believer. That’s cherry picking. The same sort of cherry picking that ends up with Deborah being a false prophet, Rahab a traitor, Abigail a disobedient, treacherous wife, etc. Men like this are not trying to learn from scripture. They are trying to baptize their misogyny by finding a few passages that seem to concur with their conclusions and then, through smoke and mirrors distract us from the rest.

    • MarkQ, I’m not sure which doctrine you were referring to when you said you ‘need to study it more’. But if you meant the doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son and Eternal Authority of the Father, you’ll find good links to study in this post I published last Sunday:

      It’s vital to talk about motivation in the debate about ‘Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission’ (ERAS Part 1)
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/06/19/its-vital-to-talk-about-motivation-in-the-debate-about-eternal-relations-of-authority-and-submission-eras-part-1/

      But regarding the question of whether women should be elders or pastors, we don’t debate it on this blog. We simply don’t take a position on it. There are plenty of other places it is being debated. We believe that engaging in that debate on this blog would take attention away from our mission, which is to awaken the church to domestic violence and abuse in its midst.

      You probably know this already, MarkQ, 🙂 so if I’m being repetitive, please forgive me…

    • MarkQ

      It is definitely the role of women in the church that I need to study, but I’ll leave it at that. I have somewhat an open invitation to talk with my new pastor about his view and I think I will take him up on that.

      Grudem’s argument goes well beyond what is even considered reasonable in conservative Reformed circles. At a minimum, it’s important to not assign gender to teaching that is directed at all believers. Christians are all called to be wise, discerning, testing the spirits, and that is regardless of gender. Even traditional complementarians don’t put women in a place where they are told to submit to everything. Even my old denomination held up Jenny Geddes (just looked up her name), who threw a stool at her pastor when he read the Anglican (England’s state church) book of prayer in a Scottish worship service.

      • Misti

        Even traditional complementarians don’t put women in a place where they are told to submit to everything.

        Usually not explicitly, but don’t forget to consider how words can differ from action or actual practice. I’ve personally witnessed and experienced much pressuring women to submit to everything while claiming they don’t do so, in more than one Reformed church that calls itself traditional and complementarian.

        I’m not saying all Reformed churches are like that. I briefly attended one that wasn’t, before I left the area. But the average person at the other Reformed churches nearby didn’t even know that this church existed—yet knew about some nearby churches in other denominations whose pastors and leadership used comparable double-speak* to their own churches, though.

        *Note that double-speak can be as simple as saying “Be a Berean and double-check what I said!” and then being dismissive or annoyed when folks actually do so and politely point out the flaws.

        On the study of women and their roles in the church, I’m finding it interesting to examine when and where gender is actually specified vs. where the translation(s) have inserted gender, to consider if that addition always makes sense in context. (In at least one instance, the assignation of gender seems inconsistent with that word’s use elsewhere in Scripture.) Also interesting that Romans 16 uses “diakonos” (elsewhere translated “deacon” or “minister”) for the woman Phoebe and he says that “among the apostles” (a phrase that specifically applies the title of apostle to those spoken of) are the woman Junia (and the man Andronicus, as well, so there’s something odd with the common assumption that “apostle” ===* “one of the Twelve personally selected by Jesus”—which is already demonstrated by the fact that both Matthias who replaced Judas and Paul who was previously Saul were accepted as apostles, so “apostle” must have meant something else. I suspect that “apostle” might be better translated “messenger”, something more akin to the modern “short-term missionary”, which fits with Ephesians 4:11, with “evangelist” being more “long-term missionary”. But I have to look into that more, myself.)

        *=== being programming lingo for “equals exactly”

        Not saying I believe one way or the other—I’m still evaluating that issue, myself. I’m just noticing those as specific pressure points, where how you read and interpret them will have significant impact on and implication for other texts. 🙂

      • MarkQ: Even traditional complementarians don’t put women in a place where they are told to submit to everything.

        Misti: Usually not explicitly, but don’t forget to consider how words can differ from action or actual practice. I’ve personally witnessed and experienced much pressuring women to submit to everything while claiming they don’t do so, in more than one Reformed church that calls itself traditional and complementarian.

        I’ve witnessed the same thing as what Misti has witnessed. 😦

      • And I’ve also witnessed a fair bit of what Aimee Byrd describes in her post where she says the following
        [boldface by me; italics by Aimee]:—

        Why do I get emails from a few, privately encouraging me to speak out while they remain publicly silent? Is it complementarian to encourage a woman to take the hits? Is it?

        … when women like me plead for change, we are accused of being feminists or egalitarians or ‘thin complementarians.’ We are blacklisted and ignored. We are treated like women who won’t fall in line. Is that the beauty of complementarity?

      • MarkQ

        Yes, I see that and it makes me sick. I’m just saying that Grudem is going well beyond what is generally taught. I couldn’t figure out why I got along with certain women really well, until one said I was willing to talk theology with her. I was surprised by that, but it makes sense now. A male friend of mine and I were told that we can’t be in the nursery at church. We went to the nursery with our noisy children so that our wives could enjoy the service. A breastfeeding mom complained, and the result was that the nursery is only for women.

        ===, that’s Javascript, right? I don’t know of any other language that uses that concept.

      • MarkQ, I can think back to multitudes of instances when I have tried to talk theology with men, in the coffee time after church, and they subltly stiffen, go on guard. Instead of us having a free discussion, and instead of them showing interest in my thoughts as I was showing interest in their thoughts, they would often start to ‘teach’ me or give me advice.

        I can also recall one particular man, a pastor, who I tried to have a conversation with at a ministers conference. This ministers conference is held yearly by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, and it is open to anyone — you don’t have to be a minister to attend. This particular conference had some interesting speakers, so I attended. I tried to have a conversation with one of the ministers, during the lunch break. I sensed he was feeling uncomfortable because he knew that other men in the room would be noticing that he was talking to me.

        Talk about feeling like a leper!

      • Misti

        That barring of men from the nursery is in fact part of the way the roles get defined and applied. There’s a strong and pervasive belief that women are *supposed* to be the ones in the nursery, and men are *not*. Husbands who helped with the small children get whispered about behind their backs as strange beings.

        But you’ve demonstrated that your own experience illustrates the point Barbara and I have made about the treatment of genders in and by the church. I’ve seen guys get barred from kitchens and wiping down tables, too—or guys allowed to do it, but while they’re doing it, other men or women are pressuring some of the girls/women to take over. The “why” has much to do with the roles assigned to the genders.

        Identity operators aren’t unique to JavaScript. Several languages “==” instead, but due to that’s meaning in JavaScript (which is a common language for programmers to know a little of), use of “==” would’ve been vague in context. Programming seems to be a more common field of study than logic or geometry are, so I thought it a better option than “iff” (“if and only if”).

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