A Cry For Justice

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

ACFJ is not a Women’s Rights Movement – It is a Victims’ Rights Movement

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1Tim 5:21)

Our ministry here at A Cry for Justice has as its primary goal to expose evil, particularly as that evil hides itself in the church behind “godly” facades of false sheep wool. And more specifically, our mission focuses on the evil of what we call abuse — the wicked lust for power and control that oppresses others. To narrow the focus even more specifically, we have our sights especially set upon domestic abuse as it hides behind a Christian disguise and upon the accompanying abuse effected upon victims so frequently by their churches when they ask for help.

ACFJ then is not primarily what you might call a women’s rights movement and we thought it important to remind ourselves and our readers of this, especially since we have been noticing some comments that indicate people may be perceiving us as specifically a women’s rights movement. For example:

  • “I know that the focus of your blog is to support women”
  • “How can you say something so negative about a woman?”
  • “We so appreciate your efforts to help women in the church”
  • “You need to stand for women on this issue”
  • “Please write more articles on spiritual abuse by churches”

You see our point? Yes, most of the abuse victims we deal with are women. Yes, most frequently the abusers are men. And yes, often the additional abuse meted out to victims by their churches is done by male church leaders. But certainly not always. Most of you know from hard experience that some of the cruel abuse by churches comes through the hands of women who themselves embrace the typical unbiblical notions about marriage, divorce, submission, abuse and so on. In addition, we have most certainly met genuine victims of domestic abuse who are men. And we have met thoroughly evil abusers who are women.

Therefore, if we are to expose the essence of this thing called abuse and if we are to truly minister aid to its victims, our ministry cannot be one that is a respecter of persons. We can and sometimes do talk about misogyny. But our ministry is not fundamentally a women’s rights movement. Our ministry addresses abuse and wickedness.  Domestic abusers. Abusers hiding in the Christian church. Exposing them. Exposing their allies. Helping and validating their victims. Educating the bystanders who are naive. That is our mission.

Despite the accusations sometimes levelled at us by abusers, ACFJ does not have a default position of taking the side of the woman. We do have a default position of taking the side of the victim of abuse.

To slowly morph into a women’s rights movement would be a serious and debilitating error for ACFJ. Not because women’s rights are unimportant. Not because we do not support, for example, a woman’s biblical right to be regarded in the church as a full-fledged heir of Christ. Not because we do not see the evils of patriarchy. We do, as anyone reading this blog for very long knows. But because the evil of abuse is the heart of the thing we are pursuing and exposing.

One of features of the evangelical church today is the intensity of focus on gender issues. Of course some of that focus is right and proper as a response to how secular society is ‘normalizing’ same sex relationships and gender-bending. But the intensity of focus on gender in the current church goes way beyond that issue. In this intensity of focus, the egalitarian and complementarian camps are polarised. The teaching hammers gender so much of the time. If we let ourselves become just another gender-focused site, we would be of much less use than we are now. And we believe we would be failing to live up to what God and the Bible calls us to do as Christians.

We are rather certain that the enemy of our souls would be happy if we allowed ourselves to get detoured by spending more and more time speaking out for women’s rights. If we focus on women’s rights rather than on exposing the enemy’s dark deeds effected through his ministers of darkness (be they male or female) who creep in among us in the church, wouldn’t the enemy love it?  We would not be rendering aid to all victims without partiality. And we would have become just another women’s rights site.

We have not gone through the Bible to tabulate how many passages focus on gender matters compared to how many focus on exposing and responding to evil. But if we did, we are pretty sure the column for evil would be way longer than the column for gender.

And at bottom, the issue is not patriarchy or misogyny, the issue is evil and sinful wickedness. Misogyny is one expression of evil, but it isn’t the only way evil takes place.

 

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14 Comments

  1. Joe Godal

    Balanced and needed articulation of your ministry focus. It is not about gender. It is about oppression. Great article, Barbara & Jeff.
    Barbara, your articles on divorce interacting with Brewer-Instone have been excellent as well. I have gained new insights & highlyrecommend them. Thank you!

  2. Brenda R

    The types of comments that you listed seem to be targeted at disabling your mission. I see this as darkness trying to stop the light.

  3. **Applause from South Carolina!** But I wonder about including the statement “Please write more articles on spiritual abuse in churches,” an item close to my own heart, as one that appears to you to be gender-oriented. I know about spiritual abuse in churches perpetrated by women (though men are usually the leaders and so by default are usually the ones perpetrating it). And we know that domestic abuse and spiritual abuse are very closely intertwined, as we watch church members breathing in the air of a spiritually abusive environment that breeds domestic abuse. So I’d like to hear your thinking about why writing about spiritual abuse in churches seems to you to be off the mark of the purpose of the blog.

    • freeing hope

      Maybe the author of that comment just wanted to see more about spiritual abuse, in relation to the percentage of posts about domestic abuse? I don’t think it’s placement in the list was to state that writing about it would be off the mark.

    • Hi Rebecca, we do quite often write about spiritual abuse where it interfaces with and compounds domestic abuse. And for those who may not be aware, we do have a tag for Spiritual Abuse
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/spiritual-abuse/

      And a lot of our posts are about the Pharisaic mindset, which is a common element in much spiritual abuse. See our tag:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/pharisees-biblicalmodern/

      But because our focus on this blog is domestic abuse in a Christian context, we do not go into spiritual abuse as much as other sites might. There are many good sites and books that focus on spiritual abuse (some are listed on our blog roll and our Resources). Readers who need more on spiritual abuse need to dig into that stuff for themselves. We just can’t cover everything!

    • And by mentioning spiritual abuse in this post, we didn’t mean to imply that spiritual abuse is gendered. It’s like all kinds of abuse, it can be perpetrated by either sex, but especially where men hold more privilege and are more often leaders, it tends to be disproportionally perpetrated by men. Spiritual abuse victims are probably pretty evenly divided between male and female.

      Sorry for being potentially ambiguous in the post, re our mention of spiritual abuse.

  4. Oh Amen and AMEN !!!! So well said and thank you for saying this…I have spent the last two years (during my so far three year recovery from a more-than-three-decades abusive marriage) trying to explain to others that it isn’t just women that are victims of abuse. Some days it seems that I’m beating my head against a titanium wall. … I know that shelters are not set up for men (or even males over the age of 14) …
    It is indeed a SPIRIT that is afoot in the world and has been for millennium…its name is “evil” and it is time that we as Christians step around the blinders of stereo typing and reach out to ALL victims of abuse …

    May you continue to be Blessed, and thank you for Blessing us with this blog and your ministry. ~Rebecca~

    • Hi Angelsforhorses, we edited your comment a bit. We have a policy at this blog of not publishing recommendations of other websites or resources unless we have checked them out and fully approve them. (And we simply don’t have time to check most such recommendations out!) Your comment didn’t name a particular site, but it did give enough of a hint to make us want to remove that part of the comment.

      Also, we removed your mention of the ‘Jezebel spirit’. I invite you to read this post to understand why we did that:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/09/24/jezebel-as-a-picture-of-abuse-by-wendell-g/

  5. listening ear

    Yes,,,,,your mission is so vital to promote FREEDOM in Christ…thanks for clarifying your position!!!

  6. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  7. E

    Thank You! We are seeing a staggering trail of wounded men and women in the wake of abusers of both sexes. To say that exposing abuse is a women’s rights issue not only obfuscates the true issue, but sets up a knee-jerk response from those who think they are doing so in protest to “feminism.”

  8. angelsforhorses

    Oh no…thank you very much. I’m sorry if I crossed a boundary. Thank you for posting it any way. May you be blessed.

  9. JesusmyJoy

    Excellent post and clarification about the focus of this much needed ministry…”the issue is evil and sinful wickedness”. I am so appreciative for the understanding I have gained from reading here at ACFJ about the hidden nature of evil and sinful abusive wickedness. I never want to be deceived again by those who wear sheep’s clothing, but instead desire to walk in truth, see clearly, and be supportive for the victims being oppressed by evildoers.

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