The challenge of domestic violence facing churches and what pastors could do about it. A free resource by I Will Stand - https://www.facebook.com/IWillStand.page
Pastors Protect Your Flock
The church teaches children to look for a good, Christian spouse. They teach them no sex before marriage and they teach them from a young age, that marriage is for life. But most in church leadership do not invest in learning about abuse. They don’t teach young people about it either. There is no prevention by the larger church and no ability to understand how to handle it when abuse does surface. The big problem with that is that many abusers, especially in Christian homes, don’t start their abuse until “I do”. They know that once vows are uttered, they are locked in, and a “good” Christian spouse “should never leave”. It’s safe for the abuser to
By Christi Brown
wait, until that day, to begin exerting their control. And even those who do start abusing before the wedding day, are very cunning and careful and they know how to trap their victims in their web of lies and deceit. They ensnare them into marriage either by guilt or force. So, what about the victim? The way churches have it set up, the young are not taught about abuse, because pastors themselves don’t make any attempts at learning about it. They consider it rare and can’t believe it would ever happen in their congregation. They don’t know that the statistics of abuse are such that people have either been a victim or know someone who has been or is in it now, so they don’t worry about it very much. They don’t think they need to. They have other things to focus on. But at the same time, the young are expected, by the church, to be able to know, before marriage, the depth of a person’s genuine character. If after marriage, that person shows their true selves to be different than what is presented before marriage, then the church is telling them that it’s just tough and they should have seen it ahead of time. Yes, let’s blame the innocent for what the guilty do and punish them, by making them stay, or banish them, if they decide to get away. That’s the way the church often works today. It’s a bit like the analogy we Christians commonly put ourselves in, as sheep, being watched over by a shepherd. Pastors are supposed to be shepherds, appointed by God, to lead and protect God’s children. But they are allowing the wolves to attack the sheep. They aren’t guarding the flock. They are not arming themselves to do so and because of that, they can't spot the wolves and they can't help their sheep spot them either. The pastor’s job is to warn the sheep what wolves look like, how
they act and what to do if a sheep ends up coming face to face with one. But they don’t do that, because they themselves, have not made it a priority to find out what the wolves look like. They assume that if there really is a wolf in the flock, they will be able to spot them and they will figure out how to deal with them then. They go on, with the presumption that wolves are very rare, clearly visible and easy to detect, well before it’s too late and a sheep is attacked. This sets the scene, so that inevitably, when one of their flock is attacked, the pastor tells the bleeding and desperate sheep, "Well, it's too late now, you agreed to walk into the field with this wolf and now you have to stay in it. You can't run and protect yourself. And besides, they say they aren’t biting you, they say they aren’t even a wolf, and they do have sheep's clothes on, so maybe they really are a sheep. They probably are and you just don't know it. We will talk to them about not attacking you again and you have to learn to be a better sheep so you can get along with them. Surely if they were a wolf, we would have seen it before they attacked, and so they can’t really be and you have no reason to try to get away. If you do leave this field, you will be punished.” What? How can pastors claim to be protecting their sheep, when they refuse to learn how to recognize the wolves in the flock and then learn how to deal with them? How can they blame the sheep for being attacked and then punish them for trying to get away? How is this possible in the church today? When confronted with abuse, many pastors become easily deceived, disorganized, and all too simplistically, they decide to ignore the difficulty of the situation and run to the only thing they know. Divorce is wrong. God hates it, so it is wrong. They
cling to that misunderstood verse in Malachi, at the expense of the victim’s crushed heart, because they can’t handle the idea that abuse could actually be happening and they can’t reconcile that with their view of what marriage should be. What they don’t see is that the damage of divorce has already been done, well before the papers are signed. Divorce in the case of abuse, happens in the heart, when the spouse breaks their vows to love, honor and cherish the other, by abusing them. That is what God hates. He hates that His children are hurting to the point that they must break the covenant He created for the purpose of joy, in order to stop the pain and save themselves from dying in it. He hates the destruction, the evil and the sin that causes divorce, not the act of divorce itself. He hates the hurt and pain that His children go through when they are betrayed in that way. He hates that His creation of marriage has been corrupted and misused, and yes, abused by those who would hurt their spouse, instead of loving them, as He intended. Pastors, I challenge you today, to equip yourselves with God’s truth. Stop perpetuating the pharisaical lie that God wants victims to just tolerate being abused because of the narrow and incorrect interpretation of the Bible, that divorce is never an option for anything but adultery. Stop believing that there is no wolf and learn to see these predators, as they attempt to mix in with your flock. Learn to find them and expose them for what they are. If you want to impact the statistics of abuse and divorce, step up and teach your sheep how to see the wolves and show your flock how to uncover them from their false wool. Prevent the attacks, instead of denying them. Step up and protect your sheep, instead of blaming them for being attacked.
I Will Stand is a passionate, fresh organization dedicated to standing up for those who are affected by abuse in relationships. To make contact or get involved with I Will Stand head to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IWillStand.page