Tag Archives: victims’ rights

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 4 – Public Shame

Purple flag at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC, in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Source https://www.marines.mil (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Women are often reluctant to make abuse public, as if their lives did not matter.  Speaking out about domestic violence, and seeking help for it, are said to bring shame on the family and the church.

The truth is that abuse starts an avalanche of harm that can extend for generations.  Whatever consequences flow from domestic violence, they result from the abuser’s actions – not the attempts by his victim to defend herself and her children, or escape the abuse.

The Catholic Church sex scandal illustrates how bad the organized church is at dealing with victims.  Focus Ministries http://www.focusministries1.org is just one Christian organization helping the victims of domestic violence, while training churches how better to respond to abuse [1][2].

Though priests and ministers have endorsed them at times, the Scriptural passages keeping women in abusive relationships are taken out of context.  Satan uses these snippets – these lies – to undermine women’s faith, and destroy their lives.

But in Christ we are set free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5: 1).


[1]  Today’s Christian Woman, “The Silent Epidemic” by Corrie Cutrer, September 2004, http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2004/september/silent-epidemic.html.

[2]  1 Cor. 6: 1-11 and Matt. 18: 17 address conflict between Christians, and the use of secular courts.  However, church intervention was never intended to shield sinful behavior, or place lives in danger.

Originally posted 10/4/15

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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8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Religion, Violence Against Women

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

10 Comments

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

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 2 – Faith and Fault

“The journey to eternity” by Walter Crane, National Gallery in Prague (1902) (PD-Art, Old-100)

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with a few more of Satan’s lies.

“Abuse in a Marriage Is the Woman’s Fault, a Result of Her Sin”

Not only are women frequently blamed for the abuse to which they are subjected.  A Christian woman may be told that, as a sinner herself, she cannot criticize her husband’s behavior.  If anything, it is her duty to reform him.

While a clever way of shifting blame, this is circular logic.  It has no basis either in fact or Scripture.

Abuse – physical, emotional, financial, or sexual – is a deliberate act by the abuser.  It is not the woman’s fault, and not her sin.  No one deserves to be abused – not a “witch”, not a “nag”, not a “pig”, not an “old bag”, or any other offensive term the abuser may devise to excuse his reprehensible behavior.  No one.

True, a sinner will reap what he sows (Gal. 6: 7).  However, it is the abuser – not the victim – who has sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8: 7).

As for reform, it may take criminal liability – if that – for an abuser to change his lifestyle. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Religion, Violence Against Women

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 1 – Satan’s Lies

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted in the desert.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’  But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” ’ ” (Matt. 4: 1-4).

In the wilderness of an abusive marriage, stones can all too easily be mistaken for bread.

Satan, we should never forget, is the father of lies (John 8: 44).  Familiar with Scripture, he is adept at twisting the word of God to suit his purposes.  This can cause even the most sincere among us to be misled.

Here are a few of the adversary’s favorite lies.

“Christian Men Are Never Abusive”

Emerging Directors Showcase (2016), Author University of Fraser Valley, Source https://www.flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

A glance at the news makes it abundantly clear that abuse is not foreign to Christians and men of the cloth.

Pastor Arthur Schirmer of the United Methodist Church was convicted in 2013 of murdering his wife [1].  Televangelist Joyce Meyer’s bodyguard, Christopher Coleman, was convicted in 2011 of murdering his entire family [2].

No Christian has the right to abuse anyone – man, woman, or child, inside marriage or out.  Christ came as the Servant to all (Mark 9: 35).  But not everyone holding themselves out as “Christian” has truly accepted Christ, and sought to emulate Him.  And Christians, themselves, are not immune to sin.

“There Is No Such Thing as Rape in a Christian Marriage”

Christian women are often taught that they give up all rights over their bodies to their husbands, and must submit to their husbands as to Christ.  While the Apostle Paul, at 1 Corinthians 7, does speak of a husband as having authority over his wife’s body, he, also, speaks of a wife as having authority over her husband’s body. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Rape, Religion, Violence Against Women

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 4 – Public Shame

Women are often reluctant to make abuse public, as if their lives did not matter.  Speaking out about domestic violence, and seeking help for it, are said to bring shame on the family and the church.

The truth is that abuse starts an avalanche of harm that can extend for generations. Whatever consequences flow from domestic violence, they result from the abuser’s actions – not the attempts by his victim to defend herself and her children, or escape the abuse.

The Catholic Church sex scandal illustrates how bad the organized church is at dealing with victims. Focus Ministries http://www.focusministries1.org is just one Christian organization helping the victims of domestic violence, while training churches how better to respond to abuse [1][2].

Though priests and ministers have endorsed them at times, the Scriptural passages keeping women in abusive relationships are taken out of context.  Satan uses these snippets – these lies – to undermine women’s faith, and destroy their lives.

But in Christ we are set free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5: 1).


[1] Today’s Christian Woman, “The Silent Epidemic” by Corrie Cutrer, September 2004, http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2004/september/silent-epidemic.html.

[2] 1 Cor. 6: 1-11 and Matt. 18: 17 address conflict between Christians, and the use of secular courts. However, church intervention was never intended to shield sinful behavior, or place lives in danger.

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

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Justice, Religion, 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

9 Comments

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

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 2 – Faith and Fault

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with a few more of Satan’s lies.

“Abuse in a Marriage Is the Woman’s Fault, a Result of Her Sin”

Not only are women frequently blamed for the abuse to which they are subjected.  A Christian woman may be told that, as a sinner herself, she cannot criticize her husband’s behavior. If anything, it is her duty to reform him.

While a clever way of shifting blame, this is circular logic. It has no basis either in fact or Scripture.

Abuse – physical, emotional, financial, or sexual – is a deliberate act by the abuser. It is not the woman’s fault, and not her sin. No one deserves to be abused – not a “witch”, not a “nag”, not a “pig”, not an “old bag”, or any other offensive term the abuser may devise to excuse his reprehensible behavior. No one.

True, a sinner will reap what he sows (Gal. 6: 7). However, it is the abuser – not the victim – who has sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8: 7).

As for reform, it may take criminal liability – if that – for an abuser to change his lifestyle. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, Violence Against Women

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 1 – Satan’s Lies

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted in the desert. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” ’ ” (Matt. 4: 1-4).

In the wilderness of an abusive marriage, stones can all too easily be mistaken for bread.

Satan, we should never forget, is the father of lies (John 8: 44). Familiar with Scripture, he is adept at twisting the word of God to suit his purposes. This can cause even the most sincere among us to be misled.

Domestic violence (illustration), Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinfos_showcase/sets/72157650921376780/, Author Sr. Airman Rusty Frank (PD-US federal govt.)

Here are a few of the adversary’s favorite lies.

“Christian Men Are Never Abusive”

A glance at the news makes it abundantly clear that abuse is not foreign to Christians and men of the cloth.

Pastor Arthur Schirmer of the United Methodist Church was convicted in 2013 of murdering his wife [1]. Televangelist Joyce Meyer’s bodyguard, Christopher Coleman, was convicted in 2011 of murdering his entire family [2].

No Christian has the right to abuse anyone – man, woman, or child, inside marriage or out. Christ came as the Servant to all (Mark 9: 35). But not everyone holding themselves out as “Christian” has truly accepted Christ, and sought to emulate Him. And Christians, themselves, are not immune to sin.

“There Is No Such Thing as Rape in a Christian Marriage”

Christian women are often taught that they give up all rights over their bodies to their husbands, and must submit to their husbands as to Christ. While the Apostle Paul, at 1 Corinthians 7, does speak of a husband as having authority over his wife’s body, he, also, speaks of a wife as having authority over her husband’s body. Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, Justice, Religion, Violence Against Women

Unbiblical, Part 6 – Forgiveness v. Victims’ Rights

“ ‘And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us’ ” (Luke 11: 4).

As I have said elsewhere on this website, forgiveness is a personal matter between abuse victims and their God. Urging forgiveness on victims prematurely ignores the gravity of their trauma, and the depravity of the sins committed against them.

This amounts to a further violation. Victims will necessarily feel that Christians are siding with the predator…even condoning the abuse. Shockingly, in some cases Christians have been guilty of this.

Witness the Catholic Church sex scandal. This was, at best, a product of poor judgment, and a distorted view of Scripture. At worst, it was a cold and calculated attempt to avoid corporate responsibility, while facilitating the most heinous of crimes.

Either way, church hierarchy applied precisely the same rationale to young abuse victims, as the high priest, Caiaphas, did to Christ:  “ ‘…[I]t is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11: 50).

To be clear, forgiveness is not a “warm and cozy” feeling, on the part of victims. It is a deliberate decision by victims to leave the harm inflicted on them behind, and instead move on with their lives. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

The Dysfunctional Lawyer, Part 1

“The Cry of Justice” by Frank Varley
Auckland Punch Magazine (1868)

“‘Let us choose justice for ourselves…'” (Job 34: 4).

It takes great courage to flee an abusive relationship, and confront an abuser.

While criminal matters are generally handled through the District Attorney’s Office on the state level and the US Attorney’s Office on the federal level, abuse victims seeking divorce or money damages for their pain and suffering will need to pursue civil litigation.

Civil lawyers can be found who specialize in victims’ rights following rape, child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse, clergy abuse, and sexual harassment.

A good lawyer can help restore the abuse victim’s life. A dysfunctional lawyer (or a dysfunctional relationship with an otherwise good lawyer) can delay the process, undermining an abuse victim’s already tenuous confidence.

Abuse Victims as Clients

Abuse victims deserve a dedicated advocate: someone whose honesty is above reproach, who will be diligent in pursuing their case, who will communicate on all critical matters, and whose legal judgment can be relied upon as sound.

Fortunately, there are many lawyers meeting these criteria.

A. Cost

Cost is likely to be the first criteria abuse victims consider, in choosing a lawyer.

Personal injury litigation is usually taken on a contingency basis, for a percentage of the ultimate recovery. What that percentage can be differs somewhat from state to state. Thirty percent for the lawyer is typical.

The legal fees in other types of cases, for example divorce or bankruptcy, are usually calculated on an hourly basis. This can be a challenge for abuse victims, who may not have much in the way of funds.

Legal aid is available across the country, but the types of civil cases covered will vary. Abuse victims should check with their local offices.

Victims organizations like WomensLaw.org and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) can be a good source of information. Most bar associations will, also, have referral services with lists of lawyers in various specialties. Often an initial consultation will be free or at a reduced rate.

B. Credentials

Thousands upon thousands of lawyers advertise, online and elsewhere. Whatever claims may be made in ads, victims should remember that lawyers are not superhuman, and that a verdict awarding money damages in their favor (particularly a large amount) is not guaranteed.

Since a lawyer can be instrumental in improving a client’s circumstances, the lawyer’s credentials should be carefully scrutinized, in the same way one might review the credentials of a physician.

Abuse victims will find lawyer ratings available online, but should not rely exclusively on these. Many fine lawyers are never rated. The recommendation of a friend can be as valuable.

C. Questions

For their own well-being, abuse victims should speak up. Continue reading

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