Tag Archives: forgiveness

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 3 – Forgiveness

“Drunk Father” by George Bellows (c. 1923), Source Library of Congress (Digital ID cph.3g04623) (PD-Art, Old-70)

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with the widely misunderstood topic of forgiveness.

Christ came to forgive sins (Matt. 26: 28; Rom. 5: 28).  He repeatedly forgave sinners (Luke 7: 44-50), using the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” even from the cross (Luke 23: 34).

Christians are called on to love their enemies, to forgive those who persecute them (Matt: 5:44; Luke 6: 27-29).  The Lord’s Prayer contains the line, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt. 6: 12).

“Forgiveness Requires that a Woman Return to an Unsafe Marriage”

But the assertion that forgiveness requires a woman to return to an unsafe marriage is patently false.

Forgiveness and trust are distinct from one another.  A Christian woman may choose to forgive her husband’s caustic comments, his violence and brutality – electing not to waste any more of her life in bitterness or regret.  She need not live in fear under his roof, and run the risk of additional harm to herself or children.

“There Is No Escape from Marriage but Death”

Many an ignorant minister has described submission to the point of death as the hallmark of a Christian woman, and divorce as more harmful to children than a childhood spent in an abusive home.

However, the biblical right of self-defense supersedes any duty of “submission” to an abusive spouse.  Women and children were not ordained as sacrificial lambs to the tempers of men. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Physical Abuse, Religion, Violence Against Women

Precious

“A Grandmother’s Love” (Courtesy of Women’s UN Reporting Network and USA National Resource Center on Domestic Violence)

A good-for-nothing man is an evil-doer; he goes on his way causing trouble with false words…” (Prov. 6: 12).

Baby girl, you are so precious.  You are so precious, you don’t even know.  Your Momma and I loved you from the moment she brought you into this world.  Even before that.  Your Daddy left early on, but we loved you just the same.

We rocked you, walked the floors with you when you were teething, saw you take your first step.  We cooked for you, we mended your clothes.  We saw you on the bus that first day of school.  You were so pretty, your hair all done up in ribbons.  Maybe you can’t remember, but I do.

You and I, we lost your Momma to hard work, then no work, then those devil drugs.  You must have asked me a million times where she was, on those nights she didn’t come home to us.  But she loved you.  She tried her best.  It just wasn’t enough in this cruel world.

Your Momma tried to help you with your lessons, in the beginning, taught you one and one makes two.  Do you remember that?  It was just that the lessons she had to learn were harder – lessons about hard men, and the hard road a woman faces alone.

Now you want to run after this man!  This good-for-nothing man?!  You think he’s going to give you something you don’t already have?  He doesn’t want to give.  All he wants to do is take from you.  Take your hips, take your fresh young face, take your smile.  But you believe his promises, promises as empty as noise.

Is it because your Daddy wasn’t there to tell you how special you are?  Is it because you didn’t see yourself in his eyes?  We tried, your Momma and I, tried to tell you that, tried to show you every which way we could.  Try and remember, baby girl. Continue reading

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Necessary Anger

Abuse creates a deep wound, leaving behind many emotional, psychological, and spiritual scars. Our experience of reality is altered, our view of the world skewed.

Above all, abuse teaches victims that they are worthless.

Anger

Anger is a step in the process of recovery from abuse, in much the same way that anger is a step in the process of grieving. As victims, we mourn what we have lost – what has been stolen from us. The time, the innocence, the confidence.

Initially, victims may have difficulty “finding” their anger about this loss. They will frequently rationalize the actions of their abusers – minimizing the harm done, and blaming themselves for events (though without cause).

The rationalization is simply how victims cope with damage so profound they can hardly describe it, and emotions that threaten to be titanic.

When Christians characterize victims’ anger as unacceptable, they imply – intentionally or not – that victims are unacceptable to God. Instead of freeing victims from abuse, this affected piety on the part of Christians reinforces victims’ sense of worthlessness.  It pushes victims away from God, depriving them of His consolation.

Depression

In response, some victims will swallow their anger…just as they did in the abusive setting.  However, abuse impacts us at a fundamental level.  Denying our true feelings about it can produce numbness. When anger is denied, all our emotions become muted.

This is not a satisfying way to live. Worse, it puts us at great risk of depression which is often described as anger turned inward.

Detour to Christ

God understands victims’ anger.  In fact, He shares it.

But rage can, also, consume us. If we nurse our very legitimate grievances long enough, bitterness will eat away at our lives like battery acid. Christ offers us a better alternative.

Anger is, in effect, a necessary detour abuse victims take to Christ.

Forgiveness

And anger is a condition precedent to forgiveness, something many Christians fail to understand.

This is not to suggest that victims must endure Christ’s anger before they can be forgiven. Rather, victims must experience and release their own anger before they can freely choose whether or not to forgive their abusers, and move on with their lives.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth” (Ps. 37: 8-9).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 3 – Forgiveness

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with the widely misunderstood topic of forgiveness.

Christ came to forgive sins (Matt. 26: 28; Rom. 5: 28). He repeatedly forgave sinners (Luke 7: 44-50), using the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” even from the cross (Luke 23: 34).

Christians are called on to love their enemies, to forgive those who persecute them (Matt: 5:44; Luke 6: 27-29). The Lord’s Prayer contains the line, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt. 6: 12).

“Forgiveness Requires that a Woman Return to an Unsafe Marriage”

But the assertion that forgiveness requires a woman to return to an unsafe marriage is patently false.

Forgiveness and trust are distinct from one another. A Christian woman may choose to forgive her husband’s caustic comments, his violence and brutality – electing not to waste any more of her life in bitterness or regret. She need not live in fear under his roof, and run the risk of additional harm to herself or children.

“There Is No Escape from Marriage but Death”

Many an ignorant minister has described submission to the point of death as the hallmark of a Christian woman, and divorce as more harmful to children than a childhood spent in an abusive home.

However, the biblical right of self-defense supersedes any duty of “submission” to an abusive spouse.  Women and children were not ordained as sacrificial lambs to the tempers of men.

Domestic violence, Source http://www.psicoterapeutas.com/paginaspersonales/concha/violenciadegenero.htm, Author Concha Garcia Hernandez (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

As many as 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually [1]. These children are likely to experience low self-esteem, social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression [2]. The boys so exposed are many times more likely than normal to become abusers; the girls, many times more likely to become victims [3].

If nothing else, we must save our children.

[1] Huffington Post, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It’s An Epidemic” by Alanna Vagianos, 10/23/14 (Updated 2/13/15), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html.

[2] and [3] National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The Effects of Child Abuse and Exposure to Domestic Violence on Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior Problems” by C. Moylan, T. Herrenkohl, C. Sousa, E. Tajima, R. Herrehkohl, and MJ Russo, 1/10, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872483/.

This series will conclude next week with Part 4 – Public Shame

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Restored to Life

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…’ ”(John 11: 25).

Jesus actively ministered to women. He not only healed women (Matt. 8: 14-15), He fellowshipped with them (John 12: 2-3). And He forgave women their sins (Luke 7: 44-50).

Jesus taught women (Luke 10: 39; John 4: 6-26), upheld their rights in divorce (Matt. 5: 31-32, 19: 3-9), and ignored the laws of ritual purity to address their urgent needs (Matt. 9: 20-22). Jesus used a Gentile mother, begging for intervention on behalf of her daughter, to illustrate faith (Matt. 15: 22-28), and a poor widow to illustrate generosity (Mark 12: 41-44).

Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 3-11). Out of compassion, He raised both Jairus’ little girl (Matt. 10: 18-19, 25), and the only son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11-15) from the dead.

And women ministered to Jesus (Luke 8: 1-3). When all the Apostles but John had fled or gone into hiding, women remained faithful at the cross (Matt. 27: 55-56). While women were not considered reliable witnesses at the time, it was to women Jesus first revealed His Resurrection (Matt. 28: 1-8, Mark 16: 9-10).

Jesus still ministers to women today. Deadened though we may feel, as a result of abuse, Jesus has the power to restore us to life. We need only place our trust in Him.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women