This past month has been a focus of attention for me as with many others in regards to Domestic Abuse. As a thirty-year veteran of this cause, I have been there, done that and (literally) written the manual on it…
In the beginning I had to deal with the following facts:
1. There weren’t any places of refuge for the victims, especially those of the faith.
2. The issues were not being addressed from a Biblical perspective.
3. No one was being held accountable by the Biblical standards set forth in the scriptures.
The fact is – NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
We have more dog-rescues and foster families of orphans from other countries in our church than we do foster-families of battered women and/or their children. Whereby we have ZERO.
We rarely see domestic violence classes – as a matter of fact there are even less whereby a court-ordered class is taught at a church. As a matter of fact, we have passed the buck to (mostly) Christian women who have taken it upon themselves to start refuges, resource centers and counseling programs- then left them hanging by not financially supporting them or even so much as give them a space in their country-club facilities to operate.
Most of the domestic violence counseling programs at our churches are taught by only those degreed professions – who have mastered the social service and psychological perspectives… Rather than anyone who has been specifically trained in domestic violence – God forbid, one who has been there-done that…
Most certainly these issues are not addressed from the pulpit- nor is the offender ever rebuked or confronted.
As a matter of fact, the church’s prevention tactic regarding this issue is often to ignore it or vail it with a mock-counseling sweep-it-under-the-rug-intervention of “pray harder,” “we will be praying for you,” “be a man,” or “be more submissive.”
Back in the day, I was only 20 years old. My church-going, Bible-study parents were humiliated, and therefore were no help. The church joined in their condescending and condemning rebuke. And I felt they were all correct in their findings.
And to a point… they were correct, but being “right” is not a solution, it is an invitation to devise a solution.
And for those of you who do not believe that there is accountability in the victim – you are part of the problem and more than likely are basing your belief on psychological findings rather than scripture.
That mere fact alone stands to defend my point in that the church must take back this issue! The victim who does not take responsibility is the victim who will remain in the cycle of violence for years to come.
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
I listened to the “experts” who dealt with these questions from a judicial perspective, from a legislative perspective and also those social services workers who dealt with this from a psychological perspective.
Declarations of abuse being that of “power and control” are the ruling decisions – and still stand today.
Unfortunately – that is simply a state of being for the sinful man and woman, since the fall and the curse that followed, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Hardly the definition or solution to the actual problem.
What no one seems to want to deal with is the spiritual issue. The moral compasses of those involved.
Why is the church not the forerunner?
Where is the refuge for the needy? For the poor in spirit?
The churches have disengaged themselves from the issue of domestic abuse – just as I did back then and I, feeling that because I was only a victim, without a “degree” in social services or psychology, did not feel that I had anything much to offer – after all I was a defined as a victim and without the knowledge of Freudian teachings, I had nothing to contribute to this “disease” or whatever the latest DSM described the behavior to be…
Age, wisdom and me trying to run from this calling has lead me to this fact: All of that is nothing but a lie straight from Satan himself.
So here I find myself, yet again… trying to convince a morally inept country to believe that this is a spiritual issue that can only be addressed by Christ and all without the support of the church to back me up.
Another decade, and nothing has changed.
Victims are defined as women, and offenders are men. The Jodi Arias’ of our decayed country are seen as victims of sexual immorality – even when that immorality is of their own doing.
Men who are victims of female abuse are flat out ignored and neglected. Most certainly not validated.
And do we dare discuss the direct-connection between sexual abuse and pornography?
Social services have become the powerful leader in the “plan of action” for victims of abuse, treatment of offenders and what they see as being “best for the welfare of the children” that are involved in the violence.
But God ordained the church, not Social services, psychology or any other liberal agency that does not look to God’s holy word and the hearts of His created beings to transform this relational issue – without Christ there will be no change – He is the only Way.
The church has focused on “Biblical divorce” rather than “Biblical marriage” and has therefore directly contributed to the problem. And by caving to the concept that a degree in psychology or social services out rank scripture – That is simply blasphemy.
The church as conceded defeat to the world-view. And in its vulgar attempt to deflect the issues at hand have left those in need in utter despair.
What a spectacular feeding ground we have now given to Satan.
It is time for the church to take back the authority given to them by God Himself and focus on the solution to the problem – that is found in Christ alone.
Victims are refusing to press charges, testify in court not to mention those who stay at the direction of their church leadership because of a misguided need to preserve the marriage – forgetting scripture that clearly defines a time for separation:
“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer;”
But then again… where to go? If the church and its members are not going to provide a refuge, a place to go for prayer, counseling and scriptural guidance… ? The victims who do fight back, do it with their heads hung down in shame – and they do it alone – or worse- they do it with a victim’s advocate covering their head for them!
Who will show them that Jesus hung their shame on the cross?! That they have victory in Him?
““‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.’””
So how do we start this process? I am afraid that to whomever is reading this, I am preaching to the choir and my fear is that of what has taken me captive over these past thirty-years of desperately trying to run from this call – that is, nothing will change. But, I will continue on out of nothing more than pure obedience – and I ask you to do the same.
We can start by admitting the truth: This is a Spiritual issue and we, as a church, as the beacon of light, hope and love, have failed miserably.
We are called to relationship, from the beginning of time –
First of all, the Trinity in and of Itself. God is not alone, He is in relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Second they created earth and all that is in it and created all of the plants and animals male and female with the command to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
Thirdly, God first made man in his own image – “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
But saw that it was NOT good… “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
The key here that churches seem to steer clear of is this tiny little statement: “fit for him.” We, as a church, do not teach the importance of being “fit” for one another. We do not focus on the relationship as God designed:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;”
We spend so much time trying to keep marriages together that are unholy, un-biblical not to mention volatile and unfruitful to the Kingdom, that by our own view of being “holy,” we are leading the world astray – down a rabbit hole straight to hell.
We have more compassion on those who walk in their sin then on those who regret and mourn their sin.
“It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.”
Here’s the truth church. Divorce is indeed something that God hates – as He does many things:
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
So to those of you who have been an abomination by your lying tongue, lustful eyes, pride of life, road rage, drunkenness, greed, and idolatry– I say to you, you are no different from anyone else that God has declared unworthy – but then again, aren’t we all?
“ All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
For those in the church who are so quick to condemn those who contemplate or determine that divorce is their best solution, I say to you – You have also condemned God Himself of His own kingdom:
“…For all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.”
And before you slam me with hate email and comments – stating how the word “whore” is used as the reason… and that Christ Himself used adultery/sexual immorality as the “only” Biblical reason….
Then so be it:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Therefore, in our society I declare all are indeed guilty. And if you deny your lust then you have now put yourself in the category of abomination with your lying tongue.
Divorce is indeed harmful. I am not suggesting that we, as a church minimize the impact – NO INDEED! But since the church has declared that “All are righteous” and is no more calling out the perpetual sinner or holding them accountable- but rather preaching FREE GRACE without penalty of sin – then it is the least that you can do to show grace to those who have been failed miserably by a church who has allowed – even presided over their godless marriage.
No more, do we the church follow Christ’s command or Paul’s vivid example of holding the sinner in the church accountable for their actions:
““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
“By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”
So what choice does the un-biblical marriage have –Especially when there is no accountability for the grotesque actions of their spouse. Especially in the cases of sexual immorality, drunkenness…
And that “sticky-situation,” of abuse?
The mere mention of domestic violence brings about immediate denial or a sense of disqualification to address these actions – by the church mind you! The very group that is declared: “Anointed, qualified, and ordained…”
Could it be that it is due to their own guilt and shame? That they have laid the very ground work for this lack of covenant keeping? This abomination of the very essence of the image of Christ and His church?
By not enforcing the law of God, in this case- Biblical marriage, Biblical relationship… we have given permission to this particular sin called divorce.
By not teaching the Scriptures regarding relationship and mandating this call for judgment we are guilty of allowing relationships that are not ordained by God to join in unions and calling them business relationships, friendships, missionary opportunities, and even marriage which does nothing but desecrate the foundation of what God has designed as Biblical relationship- and it has spilled over into marriage.
As a matter of fact, our complacency and tolerance of the worldview has led our congregations to follow the way of the world’s vision of relationships, including that of the most holy of all: Marriage –
And this is due to the mere fact that the Biblical precepts of marriage that are under the guidelines set forth by Biblical doctrine are not being taught by those in authority nor are those who violate those guidelines held to account.
We must open our eyes to the wolves among us and purge ourselves of them before they devour the church as a whole:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.””
If you as a church have not purged “the evil person from among you,” then you have deliberately defied God’s command to do so.
How dare you.
So then, what be of those who are not in the church? To that I would remind you of yet another command:
“May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!”
If not this be the responsibility of the church – then who else is going to show the love of Christ? Reconciliation? Recovery? Redemption?
Victims are being turned away from services at the rate of over 11,000 per year – and those who are seeking help… where do they go to find redemption? The state? The government agencies? The Christian facilities that are busting at the seams?
Where are you church? Where have you gone? What have you done giving your power away to the adulterous worldview, the thief who seeks to devour and destroy?
When we have memberships in our churches that exceed the tens of thousands, why is there no available room for victims of abuse who are living in their cars to avoid their abusers? Where is the foster family for them? For their children?
“Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.”
Holly T. Ashley is a published author, speaker and the founder of R3 Ministries and is an expert in the field of Domestic Abuse and family violence.
R3 Ministries is a Christ-centered domestic violence curriculum that is approved for court-mandated victims and offender DV classes and is also a training manual for churches, ministries and Christian lay-counselors for Domestic Violence counseling and programming.
R3 is a ministry of Cross Strength Ministries, LLC