A Cry For Justice

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

Why do Christians insist that Abuse Victims Return to Egypt?

Right on through Scripture, any desire to return to bondage and slavery is treated as foolish and even sinful.

And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:1-6)

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:1-3)

The Israelites grumbled. The Lord had done wonderful things for them by His might and power, delivering them from the harsh life in Egypt. But when the going got even a little difficult, the grumbling began. They longed for Egypt. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Abuse victims want freedom. They are enslaved and oppressed by their own personal “pharaoh” and once they begin to see just what is happening to them, they yearn for liberty.

Freedom and liberty in Scripture are good things. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Don’t let anyone trick you into returning to bondage. That is what the Bible says.

So why do so many pastors, churches, counselors, and individual Christians teach the opposite when it comes to abuse? What do I mean? The standard line — you all know it far too well — given to an abuse victim in a church is “Go back to Egypt. Go back. Return. Be enslaved. Submit to it. You’ve got a contract with pharaoh and it can’t be broken.” So the abused ones go back. And the abuse intensifies —

So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.'” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (Exodus 5:10-12)

Why? Why is it that there are myriads of “freedom” programs (aka “ministries”) allegedly under the banner of Christ, offering liberty to captives — but not to abuse victims? “Come on, you can be free from slavery to overeating. You can be free of addictions. Here is how you can get free of co-dependency.” And on and on and on. But abuse victims? Forget it.

Think it through. How many ministries are in professing Christian churches specifically designed to set abuse victims free? You are going to have to search high and low to find one. Oh, but go looking for “ministries” (quotation marks here indicate my sarcasm) that put victims back into bondage in Egypt and you will find them all over the place. “Come on down and we will fix your marriage. Don’t even think about divorce. We will show you how to live happily ever after….with Pharaoh.”  Am I right? Of course I’m right. Because all of this is true.

Christ redeems His people. That means He sets us free. That is why He came and went to the cross. Anyone telling you to stay in Egypt is not of Christ no matter how “Christian” they might appear.

***

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41 Comments

  1. Cher

    Most women are told to keep praying for their Pharaohs. Keep being your Pharaoh”s cheerleader. I was once told to sacrifice myself like Christ when my husband was showing zero compassion for me during my difficult pregnancy. Women stay in marriages to Pharaohs because if not they will be excommunicated from their churches. Even when they tell others about their Pharaoh, the most they are ever told is I’m sorry you are going through that, but here’s a book about how to be an excellent wife. Just keep giving him sex. Just keep cooking for him and he’ll love you.

    • Alone

      So very true! I am facing the exact same in my indie fundy church, and it is so very lonely and the feelings of betrayal are tough. The hypocrisy is stifling. What growth in Christ can happen in this kind of environment?! I have no escape and no friends. I really wish I hadn’t taken him back. I cry every day and every night.

  2. Free from Abuse

    Are there any Christian ministries for abusers? And, I don’t mean marriage improvement seminars that an abuser will manipulate to convince everyone that he’s trying and she’s in the wrong, but a real ministry addressing the abuse. Because the sad reality is that once the victim escapes, he always finds a new woman to victimize. I’m just one of several women my abuser victized.

    • I do not know of any Christian ministries for abusers that I would recommend.

      There was a program called Changing Men Changing Lives which was based on the Duluth model and adapted for Christian men, but I am not sure it is running any more. They certainly haven’t been active on social media for ages and ages.

      There are programs which purport to be run by Christians for abusive men who profess to be Christians, but we have no confidence in any of those programs.

      Furthermore, we have heard testimony from several women whose husbands did one of those programs and those women report that their husbands didn’t change, but instead the program gave the men the feeling that they were equipped to teach other abusive men! Some of those women comment on this blog regularly, using pseudonyms.

      We have also critiqued Domestic Abuse Training Materials for pastors and church leaders that are offered in various places. We don’t have confidence in any of the trainings that are being offered at the moment, either.

      See our critiques of trainings here:
      our tag for Dallas Theological Seminary
      our tag for CCEF

      • Alone

        Just curious: if there are no programs that you know of that you endorse, would you ever be able to build such a program/training for changing abusive persons? I’m only asking cuz it feels so without hope…

    • Karen

      And, I don’t mean marriage improvement seminars that an abuser will manipulate to convince everyone that he’s trying and she’s in the wrong, but a real ministry addressing abuse.

      Profound statement Free From Abuse. When I was still in the fog, I didn’t really understand what was going on because I was just trying to exist. Every morsel of energy was used to defend myself against false accusations, criticisms, and condemnations on a daily basis, so ‘to exist’ took a tremendous amount of energy in not believing my husband’s lies.

      My husband and I attended a weekend marriage conference in trying to get our marriage back on track. I should have realized there was an agenda on my abusive husband’s part when he kept encouraging me to attend with him. After the main couple’s session, we were given peacemaker books with an evening assignment to work on together. As soon as we sat down in the privacy of our own room, my husband boldly declared, “Okay, let’s find out how to “FIX YOU.”

      Then the wicked truth of his heart was finally revealed. He wasn’t there to confess his sins, repent, and work on the marriage doing his part. He wanted me to be there so I would be ‘fixed,’ for I was the problem in the marriage, everything that went wrong was my fault, all the while he looked like the saint……while verbally, emotionally, and physically abusing me, his wife.

    • Ng

      There was a program / curriculum I came across on-line, quite accidently via a Lifetime movie I (again very accidentally..) saw. The film was based on true events, on an abusive husband who came to realize he was the problem with his temper, and he truly was sorry for his destructive behavior.
      He and his wife came back together & he became a minister, who in turn founded this program for abusive husbands. What I read seemed to have lots of good: the point was, it’s never Ok to be violent, abusive, inhumane etc.. and the husband HAS to learn to deal with his emotions in a higher more mature way.
      The issue I had was that in contrast to so many other marriage ministries that tell the wife to ‘line up’ with their act, they went to the other extreme and practically operated with the premise that it’s ALWAYS the man’s fault (his insensitivity, his egoism etc), and of course, we know well that it is not true – there are arrogant, abusive and violent wives too.

  3. Anonymous

    Jeff wrote: “Why? Why is it that there are myriads of “freedom” programs (aka “ministries”) allegedly under the banner of Christ, offering liberty to captives — but not to abuse victims?”

    When I first started learning about the many character disturbed manifestations of evil in human form, it horrified me to learn that it is so often those of us who came from abusive childhoods that go on to be enslaved by abusive spouses and abusive schools of thought. (I think I used to believe that God would not allow this or that with enough psychology we could move on past it.) Why? Abusive people SEARCH / SEEK OUT those of us who have been conditioned to submit to and internalize abuse–because they LIKE to enslave victims as it makes them feel powerful and gives them an audience of rapt “adories,” to manipulate and coerce.

    When we aren’t taught the truth about evil that’s written about in the bible, or about people without a conscience and how their brains function completely differently from those who have one, we often reach erroneous conclusions about their motivations. If we’ve been wrongly taught (as I was) that all humans are fundamentally the same and that it’s ONLY because someone was abused that they become abusers themselves, and that with enough love and patience and perfect modeling behavior on OUR part they can change, we will perpetually be on the hamster wheel known as the “cycle of abuse.” These enslavers COUNT on keeping us there and if we find out the truth of the matter, we are useless to them and we also pose the threat of exposing the great lie–that evil is real and comes in human form. So OUT we go and good riddance too! The quicker they can get rid of us the less chance we have of speaking God’s truth through His word thus alerting our true brethren to the great deception.

    Living in the End Times AIN’T for the faint of heart!

    • NutMeg

      You’re completely right. I wish people would realize that once a person has been taught to be a victim they will need help to get out of that thinking or they will continue to be sought out and trapped by abusers. Because that’s what abusers look for: easy prey. An abusive home will usually turn into getting an education in an abusive institution which quickly turns into an abusive marriage. And the abusive marriage is the worst because usually the abuse victim has been hoping for a way out of her abusive family only to be trapped in more abuse for the majority of her adult life! There is something soul crushing about an abusive spouse. And even if she starts to realize something is “off” with her husband she is taught that she is no better than he is. So she must not be prideful or judgmental but she has to help him be a better person. Because it could be her who was acting badly and wouldn’t she want someone to help her through that instead of giving up on her? The people who give this kind of advice are either ignorant, crazy or intentionally keeping victims under bondage. I wish more parents would teach their children about evil and how an evil person usually won’t change.

      • healinginhim

        Anonymous and Nutmeg — so true. I have often wondered why I seem to be surrounded by abusers? Even though I am trying to stay away from the abusers I am criticized by others because it would appear that I am forsaking ‘family ties’ … ha! What is family??

      • standsfortruth

        I agree.
        My whole family grew up under an abusive husband/father.
        My children have adjusted to the abuse and now dont see it as abuse.
        They dont value my opinion or input when I visit them so those visits were draining on me emotionally, and financially as I would treat them and spend money on them.
        But I have learned now that my children really dont appreciate me as a person, because of the damage that was done to them durring my “submitting time” while I was still married.
        I find more healing and wholeness for myself staying away from them because they really dont appreciate what I have to offer.

      • healinginhim

        standsfortruth – You have succinctly articulated what has been happening to me. I’m being guilted into visiting or I am then considered to be the ‘cold one’ … it’s all about public appearance so they can tell others that they have invited me. It’s just that the visits are cold and abusive … I don’t even desire to see my children or extended family and relatives anymore. I am definitely an outcast because of HIS name. Meanwhile the man I married is quite welcome to extended visits with everyone including precious grandchildren. 😦

      • 😦 😦 😦

      • standsfortruth

        We are indeed in similar situtations HealinginHim.
        Its been another milestone for me to just admit to-myself that my own children who stay with their father, (after me finally escaping my 30+ year abusive marriage) are merely using me for personal gain purposes..
        I was just another tool for them to use and manipulate as they have wittnessed growing up..
        Although it was painful to admit this to myself, it has been quite freeing at the same time to acknowledge.
        And in doing so I am becoming healthier in both mind and body, and it seems like God is blessing my time away from them.
        Now I can intentionally use my resources to actually help and improve myself, insted of giving what little I have to those who have been trained to disrespect and not value who I am.
        I could not change the way they viewed me, so I either had to accept it and pull away, or I would start to see myself through their eyes and devalue myself like I was while married to my abuser.
        I know it is not my childrens fault for this mindset that have grown up in, because it is the way that my husband/abuser treated me in front of them both durring their formative years and into their teens, so it is all that they know.
        -However I do blame the churchs that denied the abuse, and my evil ex-husband who was behind it.
        So I have discovered like you that my best healing and healthier times are when I am free from them.

      • Anonymous

        Standsfortruth and Healinginhim,

        So similar–the realizations that you’ve come to! I always feel like I’m so mean and selfish when I finally reach the point where I need to just take care of myself and let go of all the hopes I had for certain relationships and focus on God (through His word) and how he loves me. But this IS right to do once we are shown the hearts and minds of people like you’ve described.

        It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve had any kind of relationship with some of my children. It’s been an amazing time–hard and eye-opening and freeing too. As much as I love my children, once they left home it was such a relief! These were people who–if I’d been given the choice such as in a neighbor or a classmate–I would NEVER have been friends with and would have gone out of my way to avoid. It’s so hard to explain this to “church people” because I bought the whole “unconditional” love a mother is supposed to have for her children and husband (and for everyone really). All that lie did was blind me to the truth–that these were people who hated everyone and they LOVED who they were. And this lie kept me in bondage to the evil one.

        A recent wedding brought all of us together for the first time in years. It was good to see that these people (who hadn’t had any contact with me or the last daughter in all this time except what they heard from their dad) had been allowed to become who they wanted to be–who they truly were. Because they hadn’t heard my thoughts in years, they were surprised when I no longer tried to speak truth or guide them with love. I absolutely accepted them as they were. They were what they always were–I just no longer tried to see them for anything but this. They tried to shock me with the things they had done and the religions and values they now held and I agreed with them that this seemed like a good fit for them. What? No battling? Nope. God’s word is as alive today as it was centuries ago and they’ve read it and been loved deeply by me because of it. God can reach them if they choose to seek him and if they don’t they are making the decision with eyes wide open. I absolutely trust Jesus not to leave one single little one of His behind.

        So, thank you both again, as both of your walks with the Lord parallel mine in many ways and I’m sure this is no accident that we’ve all found this website and place to share. And I pray we are a voice for others who may not be able to comment here–that they know they are not alone and that God still loves them. Thank you!

      • Thank you Anonymous,
        I am always encouraged by your posts since we have so much in common in our walks.
        Hopefully if others here find themselves in a similar situtation to ours, they wont second guess themselves so much when they realize that their so called “visits” with family members leave them feeling more frazzled and drained then refreshed.
        I hope they will be encouraged to honor those feelings, and seek healing and wholeness with a clear conscience “away” from those who negatively affect them.
        There is no shame in the choice of self preservation.

  4. Stronger Now

    Because the church refuses to believe that evil exists, and that we are not to be under bondage to evil. So many in the professing church do not know the Bible. They choose to remain ignorant of the truth about God’s heart and His compassion for the abused and downtrodden.

  5. Onlymyopinion

    Thank you so much for this. It just makes so much sense!

  6. Sister

    Conversely, there is also the other extreme in the “c”hurch that tells the victim to escape from Pharaoh, but then tells the victim the wilderness is the promised land and/or assumes a designated counselor will guide them to some sort of promised land and ultimately abandons the victim in the wilderness when things aren’t wrapped up like a Hollywood tv show or movie at the end of a certain amount of time. Then they self righteously assume they are doing some sort of tough love by telling the victim to get over it or move on and then stops talking (makes no effort to communicate with the victim further).

    The Church needs to provide safety for the victim in the wilderness, walking alongside her, never leaving, always praying with her that God will provide a promised land and then enjoying the promised land with her once God delivers it.

    It was tough enough for the Israelites to have faith in the wilderness and God had spoken to them through Moses & through miracles. How much tougher it must be for victims not to long for Egypt when they not only don’t have a prophet leading them through, they don’t have the Church either.

    • Well said, Sister, especially your last two paragraphs. 🙂

      • Sister

        Thanks! 🙂

    • Alone

      Agreed, Sister 🙂

    • Ng

      Very aptly described, Sister 😉
      There are all sorts of varying scenarios with this theme..! It’s true that so many ministries want to have the ‘glory’ of being deacons of light, telling the escapee what to do… and if she/he refuses to obey and instead seeks God’s will for her/his life, they write her/him off as rebellious.
      It’s a very common story in fact.. The victim is welcome as long as she/he co-operates and fits in with this ‘savior’ ministry, becoming a success story of their program..

  7. healinginhim

    Such a good post.

  8. KayE

    I think that many of these so called “Christians” see nothing wrong with abusers. They feel very comfortable around abusers because deep down they are reminded of their own father, Satan.

  9. Discovering Freedom

    I have been tainted, ridiculed, slandered and had all sorts of lies made up about me by my abuser from my former church because I would not ‘reconcile’ with them. What they really wanted was for me to say ‘you’re right, I’m wrong’ and probably jump through umpteen hoops to prove it but never quite get there. I desperately want freedom from them and folks that were involved with them so I put a no contact boundary in place. Still, there is pressure to ‘return to Egypt’ otherwise I am not showing ‘God’s love’ or ‘good fruit’. No thank you, I choose freedom and my Saviour, not religion.

    • Welcome to the blog 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      As a precaution, I changed your screen name to IchooseFreedom&mySaviour. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

    • Hi Discovering Freedom,

      Welcome to the blog! We encourage new commenters to read our New User’s Info page. It gives tips for staying safe when comment on the blog.

      You will notice that I changed your screen name to something less identifying. If you would like me to change it to something else, please let me know. My email is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      Again, welcome!

  10. LorenHaas

    Very encouraging post for me, Jeff. Your voice helps me resist the call to “reconcile” when it really amounts to giving in to pressure from those who do not understand.

  11. Toiler

    I continue to sound a cry that something is wrong in the church and it is bigger than simply sin. There is a movement forming that completely idolizes marriage. It is a counter-movement to feminism. No theology formed as a counter-attack is good theology. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We don’t need new movements that are harsh and unyielding. We need what we have always needed. Love, compassion, gentleness, and forgiveness. God God hear the cry of those in bondage and deliver them! Blessed are the poor in spirit.

  12. Gothard Survivor

    Wow. I didn’t understand so much for so long. Between trying to make sense of the confusing words and actions around me and trying to apply the Christan standards that I must respect my abusive parents and then my mean manipulative husband, after many years I was angry with God. I guess these standards were not God’s standards after all. Thank you for shining a light.

  13. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  14. shepherdguardian

    Reblogged this on Shepherd/Guardian.

  15. E

    Why? It seems that it may be in part due to having respect of male persons over female persons: “It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.” Proverbs 24:23b

    • Yes E, I agree.

      And the trouble is, when anyone suggests that to the male persons in question, they perceive it as an act of unchristian disrespect, if not an act of outright hostility.

      Catch 22.

  16. Alone

    I was encouraged by this passage this morning, and thought I might share it with all. Thank You Lord, for the encouragement and hope You give us, but also for the encouragement and hope all those who have been there, done that, who post on this site and now offering encouragementand hope to others who are still going through our own journey. May Your name be praised!

    Psalm 66

    Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
    2 Sing the glory of His name;
    Make His praise glorious.
    3 Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!
    Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will [a]give feigned obedience to You.
    4 “All the earth will worship You,
    And will sing praises to You;
    They will sing praises to Your name.” [b]Selah.
    5 Come and see the works of God,
    Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.
    6 He turned the sea into dry land;
    They passed through the river on foot;
    There let us rejoice in Him!
    7 He rules by His might forever;
    His eyes keep watch on the nations;
    Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
    8 Bless our God, O peoples,
    And [c]sound His praise abroad,
    9 Who [d]keeps us in life
    And does not allow our feet to [e]slip.
    10 For You have tried us, O God;
    You have refined us as silver is refined.
    11 You brought us into the net;
    You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.
    12 You made men ride over our heads;
    We went through fire and through water,
    Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
    13 I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings;
    I shall pay You my vows,
    14 Which my lips uttered
    And my mouth spoke when I was in distress.
    15 I shall offer to You burnt offerings of fat beasts,
    With the smoke of rams;
    I shall make an offering of [f]bulls with male goats. Selah.
    16 Come and hear, all who [g]fear God,
    And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.
    17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
    And [h]He was extolled with my tongue.
    18 If I [i]regard wickedness in my heart,
    The Lord [j]will not [k]hear;
    19 But certainly God has heard;
    He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
    20 Blessed be God,
    Who has not turned away my prayer
    Nor His lovingkindness from me.

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