Tag Archives: self-defense

Poison

King Cobra, Author Vishnukanayathil (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras”(Deut. 32: 33).

Across time and across the globe, women have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, violated, and put to death for seeking equality with their male counterparts.

There have been political, cultural, and religious reasons given for this inequality.  But at heart is the matter of poison.  Not a chemical or biological agent of warfare (though there is a kind of war being fought), this is instead an insidious poison of the mind.

Simply put, many consider half the population of the earth – the female half, the very mothers who bore them – less worthy than the other, male half.  This toxic belief corrodes nations and cultures, along with relationships and individuals.  It establishes and enforces a power differential in favor of the male members of society which is a temptation toward abuse.

More than that, the inequality violates the laws of God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1: 27).  

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Sin has, throughout history, distorted the relationship between men and women.

Though the Old Testament prophetess, Deborah, more than capably judged Israel; though women were faithful at the cross, and the first to arrive at the empty tomb; though Mary, Persis, Priscilla, Tryphena, and Tryphosa were just a few of the women who ministered in the early church; and though God pours out His spirit on sons and daughters alike (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 2: 17-18), Christianity has not been immune to this distortion.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5: 22-24; Col. 3: 18), and very little on the requisite love by husbands for their wives (Eph. 5: 25-26, 28-29, 31; Col. 3: 19, 1 Pet. 3: 7).

This skewed emphasis by the church has done greatest damage – both spiritually and physically – in regard to abuse.  Over the centuries, women have again and again been counseled by their priests and ministers to remain in abusive marriages, even at the risk of their lives.  For many of these women, the poisonous belief that they were of less value than men proved lethal.

Abuse is, of course, biblically prohibited.  Submission to another flawed human being was never intended to supersede the right of self-defense [1].

Nor does forgiveness by the victim necessarily restore trust.  That may be lost forever.  Certainly, an abused woman is not required to return to a situation she perceives as dangerous.

Christianity is the antidote to this and other poisons like it.  Male and female, let us live our faith as Christ would have us do.  Let us treat one another with kindness and respect that the warfare between the sexes may end, and the world may see in us — men and women alike — the image of Christ.

_____

[1] The Christian concept of “headship” (Ephesians 5: 22-33) is best assessed vis a vis the servant leadership modeled by the Lord (Mark 10: 42-45).

Originally posted 5/30/12

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

 

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, 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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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Physical Abuse, Religion, Violence Against Women

Breached Defenses

Do a search on variations of the title to this piece, and you will be directed to instructions on how to breach the defenses of various video games, and a few posts on breach of contract. Those are not what concern abuse survivors.

Property

Oh, our defenses were most definitely breached. Whatever meager defenses we had as children – whatever protests we made or attempted to make or wanted to make but were too confused and frightened or too young to make – were ignored and overridden as if our bodies, our souls, were the property of someone else.

Silenced

That is, in fact, how our voices were silenced. Protest was so clearly useless, what would have been the point?

Ongoing Vulnerability

But breach is one of those wounds that keep on giving. Years later, we may tolerate the unexpected groping by an older boy at the beach, the fumblings of a middle-aged optician in a darkened exam room, and despise ourselves for it, when the fault is not ours. Was never ours.

Boundaries are meant to protect us. When they have been violated physically, sexually or emotionally, we become vulnerable to further violation.

This is not an indictment against us, not a sign of weakness on our part. The fact that wounds leave scars is simply proof that we are human.  And we were, after all, children. We never had a real choice; were forced to submit to violation of the most profound kind. Continue reading

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

Headlines

The supply of child abuse cases seems endless. Here are just a few examples, from recent headlines:

• In September of this year, Fr. Jeffrey Paulish, was caught in the act of molesting a 15 year old boy in a vehicle on the campus of Penn State University. Paulish first attempted to say the undressed boy had sought counseling from him. The abuser met the teen through the “casual encounters” section on Craigslist.

• In October, one of Fr. Robert Brennan’s victims died of an overdose. Brennan, age 75, is alleged to have molested more than 20 children during the 15 years he was transferred from parish to parish, when complaints of abuse were made to Catholic Church officials.

• The same month, a Pennsylvania school bus driver acknowledged having repeatedly molested an 8 year old boy from 2002 – 2004. The driver had passed a criminal check prior to being hired. Only a small percentage of predators ever fail criminal background checks.

• In November, Leon Watson, a Philadelphia youth football coach was charged with having raped two boys.  Neighbors were stunned.

Some abuse survivors will feel re-victimized on hearing such reports. The past rises up like a spectre, and we feel the familiar shame wash over us. Taste again the bile in our throats. Other abuse survivors will respond with anger that this depravity should persist.

The majority of us will instinctively pity the victims, even if reminded of our own pain. Chances are that those who remain unmoved are still so close to their trauma that identifying with other abuse victims poses too great a “threat” to their emotional stability. Distance feels safer.

A small number of abuse survivors will feel contempt for other victims, viewing them as “weak” and blaming them for the abuse inflicted. Rather than being an accurate assessment of other victims, this criticism betrays the feelings of helplessness the critics, themselves, experienced and are now desperate to deny.

There are few hard and fast rules for recovery from abuse. There is no timetable. We move forward a little, then fall back. Some lessons have to be re-learned, over and over, particularly those about the right of self-defense.

However far along we may (or may not) be toward healing, let us strive to keep faith with one another, and to bear witness to the truth of our ordeal.

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, Justice, Sexual Abuse

Poison

Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras”(Deut. 32: 33).

Across time and across the globe, women have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, violated, and put to death for seeking equality with their male counterparts.

There have been political, cultural, and religious reasons given for this inequality.  But at heart is the matter of poison.  Not a chemical or biological agent of warfare (though there is a kind of war being fought), this is instead an insidious poison of the mind.

Simply put, many consider half the population of the earth – the female half, the very mothers who bore them – less worthy than the other, male half.  This toxic belief corrodes nations and cultures, along with relationships and individuals.  It establishes and enforces a power differential in favor of the male members of society which is a temptation toward abuse.

More than that, the inequality violates the laws of God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1: 27).  

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Sin has, throughout history, distorted the relationship between men and women.

Though the Old Testament prophetess, Deborah, more than capably judged Israel; though women were faithful at the cross, and the first to arrive at the empty tomb; though Mary, Persis, Priscilla, Tryphena, and Tryphosa were just a few of the women who ministered in the early church; and though God pours out His spirit on sons and daughters alike (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 2: 17-18), Christianity has not been immune to this distortion.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5: 22-24; Col. 3: 18), and very little on the requisite love by husbands for their wives (Eph. 5: 25-26, 28-29, 31; Col. 3: 19, 1 Pet. 3: 7).

This skewed emphasis by the church has done greatest damage – both spiritually and physically – in regard to abuse.  Over the centuries, women have again and again been counseled by their priests and ministers to remain in abusive marriages, even at the risk of their lives.  For many of these women, the poisonous belief that they were of less value than men proved lethal.

Abuse is, of course, biblically prohibited.  Submission to another flawed human being was never intended to supersede the right of self-defense [1].

Nor does forgiveness by the victim necessarily restore trust.  That may be lost forever.  Certainly, an abused woman is not required to return to a situation she perceives as dangerous.

Christianity is the antidote to this and other poisons like it.  Male and female, let us live our faith as Christ would have us do.  Let us treat one another with kindness and respect that the warfare between the sexes may end, and the world may see in us — men and women alike — the image of Christ.

_____

[1] The Christian concept of “headship” (Ephesians 5: 22-33) is best assessed vis a vis the servant leadership modeled by the Lord (Mark 10: 42-45).

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

 

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women