Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, March 21, 2013
An Open Letter to Christian Pastors & Clergy
Pastors, have you ever preached a sermon against domestic violence? Odds are, you haven’t. I’ve listened to approximately 4,000 sermons and have yet to hear a pastor condemn domestic violence from the pulpit.
Southern preachers prefer to pontificate on matters like abortion and homosexuality. Sometimes they rail against feminism. On occasion they preach against pornography, using the occasion to slam churchwomen over immodest attire. In every denomination, pastors preach often enough on tithing, and never fail to pass the plate. Yet they fail at addressing an issue faced by approximately one fourth of their congregation.
Recently a wildly popular pastor shoved the problem of Christian violence into the spotlight when he choked, kicked and stomped his wife in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel. In the South, beating your wife may or may not be a crime. Records show that the most common law enforcement response to domestic violence is “separating the parties.”
Victims rarely press charges because they fear reprisal. Law enforcement rarely presses their own charges (though they could and should), essentially treating wife-beating as a “victimless crime.”
Bishop Thomas W. Weeks, III crossed the line that even Georgia will not tolerate: He was wearing shoes when he kicked his wife. That’s a felony. Besides that, he committed the acts publicly and on video surveillance tape. He also threatened to kill her, which is another Georgia felony.
The abused wife, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, is an internationally acclaimed televangelist and best-selling author who empowers Christian women with her preaching. Church members say that couple of weeks before the attack, Weeks announced that Bynum would no longer be preaching at the church they founded.
Bynum is pressing charges against Weeks and seeking to end the marriage. Attorneys for Weeks say he will contest the divorce on the grounds that she was cruel. The strangest part of this story is not that the man who kicked and stomped his wife is contesting the divorce or fighting the charges; that happens all the time. What is so bizarre is where this man was just a few days after the beating: He was behind his pulpit telling his congregation that the devil made him do it.
Finally, a preacher is talking about domestic violence! If only his congregation had responded with a resounding movement down the aisle – and right out the church door. No one should sit under the teaching of a wife-beater. The elders should have stripped this man of his title and never let him behind the pulpit again.
T. D. Jakes, the famous televangelist who helped bring Bynum to power, condemned violence against women in a written statement two weeks after the attack. He pointed out that every day, four American men murder their wives or girlfriends, resulting in 1,400 deaths per year. That’s an FBI statistic. He also mentioned that over half a million cases of intimate assault are reported each year. Most cases go unreported. According to the most conservative estimates, between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 women are battered each year. In 1990, the U.S. had 3,800 shelters for animals, and only 1,500 shelters for battered women.
Other Christian leaders even try to blame the victims. Christian author Gillis Triplett claims that there are thirteen traits common to abused wives, including “THEY LOVE THE DRAMA!” (Emphasis his.)
Trait #1. They Don’t Know What Domestic Violence IsEvangelical leaders John MacArthur and James Dobson have both gone on record stating that women must be careful not to “provoke” abuse. In the 1996 printing of “Love Must Be Tough,” Dobson told a story about a woman who was physically beaten by her husband. Dobson concluded that the woman “baited” her husband to hit her so that she could show off her black eye, which he calls her “prize.”
An act of domestic violence takes place every 12 to 15 seconds. It is rare that a week goes by without us hearing about a husband, boyfriend or lover who assaulted or killed his wife or girlfriend. Call any Police precinct and they will tell you the lion’s share of their calls are not related to robberies, drugs or drunk drivers, but to domestic disputes. We hear about domestic violence on Oprah, Court TV, the Channel 5 News and V-103. Every year, the entire month of October is dedicated to this prevalent issue. In Manhattan, New York, one City Councilwoman proposed a bill that would require all newlyweds to receive a brochure on spousal abuse when they receive their marriage license.
Even with all of the public outcry and the private and government agencies that dedicate themselves to domestic violence awareness, amazingly some ladies still don’t know what domestic violence is or that it exists on such a large scale. They don’t comprehend that some men believe they have a God-given right to abuse women. They don’t understand that there are devious misogynistic men who intentionally seek to lure women into domestic nightmares. Due to their lack of knowledge, these ladies become prime targets for abusive men.
Trait #2. They Don’t Know The Warning Signs
In today’s society, every woman actively engaged in dating or seeking a mate should know the warning signs of abusers, but most don’t! At least not until they find themselves booby-trapped in an abusive nightmare. Abusers give off warning signs and they use certain techniques and tricks to lure their victims into their vise-grip like clutches. With domestic violence so pervasive, not knowing the warning signs of abusers is self-annihilation. I advise all ladies not to date until they can identify abusers. Ladies who don’t know or refuse to learn these tell-tale signs are soft, exploitable targets for these hardened men.
According to family therapist, Dr. Torri Griffin, LPC, domestic violence takes on many forms, some of which leave no visible wounds. “Many ladies experience the non-verbal types of abuse from their partners long before experiencing the physical ones. Social isolation, financial deprivation, verbal abuse and emotional abuse are usually present when the physical abuse begins. Most ladies excuse these behaviors as his temperament rather than as serious signs of worse things to come.”
Trait #3. They Intentionally Ignore The Warning Signs
Karen did it again! She covered for her boyfriend’s short fuse and hair trigger temper. They were on their way to a restaurant after leaving church. While stopped at a traffic light, Eric became peeved because the light was taking too long to turn green. When one of the passengers gently reminded Eric that they were on their way to have soup and salad and no one was in a hurry, Eric lit into her with a verbal tirade that shocked everyone in the vehicle; except for Karen. She was used to it! Not to Eric’s outbursts. He scared the daylights out of her with his unpredictable anger. Karen was used to intentionally ignoring the warning signs. She had an abusive man and she knew it. People warned her and pleaded with her to stop dating Eric, but she ignored them. These types of ladies are literal magnets for abusers.
Trait #4. Some Women Believe They Can Change Abusers
We are in the year 2005 A.D. After watching billions of women over the past two-thousand years, fail at their attempt to convert dishonorable males into honorable men, some women refuse to accept this truth: “Women cannot change men!” Secretly, many of these women have convinced themselves that their physical beauty, sexual prowess, feminine wiles and magnetic personalities are powerful enough forces to magically convert misogynistic men into princes. Abusive males, especially repeat offenders, love these types of women.
Trait #5 They Don’t Know What True Love Is
I once did a survey of 4000 men and women to find out what they believed love to be. All told, they presented me with about forty-four definitions; many of which were very scary. Some believed: Love makes you do crazy things; sometimes love hurts; love makes you do wrong and the much publicized… love is blind. News flash: Love does not hurt and it does not make you do crazy things. Jealousy makes people do crazy things! Abusers, inconsiderate and emotionally callous men and women, intentionally hurt the people they claim to love. People with True Love in their hearts ARE NOT abusers and NEVER will be!
Furthermore, love IS NOT blind! It is the men and women who are naïve or unlearned who are blind! Actually they are not blind. Like Karen, they squint their eyes at the truth. Women who don’t know what True Love is are easy pickings for abusive men. These men will slap a woman in the face and afterwards claim, “I love you!” With those three words, these women display unyielding allegiance to their tormentors.
They tell their family, friends, pastor, concerned neighbors, a judge and the police, “You don’t know him like I know him, he’s really sweet and he loves me!” The hard truth is… the love in his Dr. Jekyll side is not strong enough to control or eradicate the hatred in his Mr. Hyde side. Not knowing what true love is what entraps some women in abuse.
Trait #6. They Have A Hard Time Loving Themselves
Some women act as if they simply do not love themselves. They demonstrate self-hatred, no self-respect and low self-esteem by doing things such as: (a) engaging in promiscuity, (b) becoming chronic victims of abusive men and bad relationships, (c) freely, willingly and knowingly entering into risky relationships and marriages doomed for failure, and (d) otherwise putting themselves in situations with untrustworthy men who gladly jeopardize their spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being.
It is a fact: women who properly love themselves don’t become or remain victims of abusive men. They refuse to allow hateful and disrespectful males to torment their souls or bruise their bodies.
Trait #7. They Don’t Understand Love’s Booby Traps
Most abusers are smooth… super smooth. They primarily prey on women who don’t know about the love, sex and relationship booby traps. With untrained women, abusive men are capable of easing into their lives with the tactical precision of an F-117 Stealth Bomber. These low lives are masters at short-circuiting women’s intuition—seducing and manipulating their feelings and emotions—and once snared, controlling them with the barbaric weapon of sheer fear.
In today’s society, few women receive training on love, sex, relationship or pre-marital booby traps prior to dating. Consequently, most women have no idea they need this vital training! They know nothing about the engagement ring trick, the desert island trick or the family feud trick. Those are all commonly used tactics employed by abusive men to snare unsuspecting women. Due to their lack of knowledge, these ladies are fair game for any of the predatory males.
Trait #8. Some Women Wear The Scent of Desperation
These women have got to have a man and quite frankly ANY MAN will do! Whatever their reasons; they’re lonely or they need companionship, sex or money, their desperation seeps into the atmosphere as a scent that attracts: thugs, abusers, wife-beaters and sociopathic liars. The scent of desperation is a powerful aphrodisiac for abusive males.
Trait #9. Some Women Choose Men Indiscriminately
To choose a man indiscriminately means to be unselective; it means to choose a man without careful consideration or good judgment; to randomly choose a man. On one hand, women with this mindset give little or no consideration to the men they allow into their lives. On the other hand, their evaluations are superficial. Usually based solely on a man’s material possessions and perceived assets, like the car he drives.
His track record and character are insignificant afterthoughts. In addition, in this day and age, some women boast about their attraction to thugs and hardened criminals. They make no secret about their love for jerks! Some of their boyfriends, lovers and husbands are dead give aways with nicknames and aliases such as: Pimp Juice, I-Murder, Lady Killa and Glock Gotti. Others fall in love with men who are addicted to alcohol, drugs and pornography; not understanding how these hazardous and addictive vices exacerbates violent prone men.
Because of their lack of proper evaluation, some women are easily swayed into relationships by abusers. After tracking over 2600 domestic violence cases and speaking with countless victims, I found multitudes of incidents in which the woman was the second, third and forth victim of a serial offender. Whether these ladies were black or white, college educated or barely made it out of high school, made no difference. Often, their tormentors already had domestic violence convictions, warrants looming, cases pending or restraining orders filed against them by other women. When a woman indiscriminately chooses a mate, she indiscriminately puts herself in harm’s way.
Trait #10. Some Women Love The Drama
If you have a hard time believing that statement, log on to one of the numerous Internet relationship discussion groups on the World Wide Web. Go sit in a beauty or nail salon for a few hours and just listen and observe. Or go to your local bookstore and make a b-line to the romance or relationship section. What you will read and hear about is plenty of DRAMA, DRAMA and more DRAMA! The fact is; some women love drama! Take note: I said, SOME, not all! Please don’t falsely accuse me of making any sweeping generalizations about women.
The women that love drama do bizarre things such as move in with a man they met at church last Sunday; end result: DRAMA! Marry a man they met last month at a bar; end result: DRAMA! Leave their child with a lover they only know by his alias; end result: DRAMA! Get pregnant by a man who has sired five kids by four different women; end result: DRAMA! Fall in love with a crack addict; end result: DRAMA! Although they are clearly in perilous relationships with impudent men, these women still insist on being treated like queens; end result: DRAMA!
No matter what you, I or anyone else says, they forge ahead into these chaotic relationships simply because THEY LOVE THE DRAMA! You can plead with them, pray for them, cry over them and scratch your head and go hmmm? You can suggest church, therapy or counseling and you show them the alarming domestic violence statistics, but it will all be for naught! Why? Because THESE WOMEN LOVE THE DRAMA! Although their Hollywood heroines and romance novel divas turn out OK, these women rarely walk from their dysfunctional abusive lovers unscathed.
Trait #11. A Lack of Positive Male Role Models During Upbringing
Women who have had no positive male role models in their lives, (e.g., good father, grandfather, stepfather, uncles, big brothers) have no real (authentic and legitimate) points of reference to help them distinguish between dishonorable doggish males and honorable men. This puts most women at great risk because their views and beliefs about the opposite sex are usually derived from three confirmed totally unreliable sources: (a) the media, music and Hollywood, (b) women who know little or nothing about men, and (c) conniving, ungodly males.
This lack of positive male role models usually leaves the average woman unprepared to properly deal with the male gender: particularly with respect to detecting and rejecting harmful males. Many women with this trait have a pattern of choosing untrustworthy men… again and again.
Trait #12. For Some Women Abuse Is All They Know
These women come from abusive environments. They’ve watched their mother get abused or be an abuser. They’ve been victims of abuse. Some grew up in abusive foster homes or juvenile facilities. I once tracked a 13-year-old girl who was thrust into a state run facility by her heartless parents. After years of maltreatment, (i.e., starvings, beatings and locking her in closets for hours and days at a time) they gave her up. Her new parents; the state, put her into a penal system type dorm with kids who had no semblance of a conscience and no inkling of morals or values. The petrified little girl was attacked numerous times.
She had never known love or what it was like to have someone care for her. From the time she was small, all she had known was persecution. Because of her traumatic childhood, she had come to expect abuse. Sadly, her mindset was, “Cruelty and betrayal comes with all inter-family relationships.” Some women who grow up in these types of environments feel that abuse is par for the course. Consequently, abusive men are drawn to them. It usually takes long-term therapy to help these women develop the proper depictions of true love.
Trait #13. Some Women Are Contentious
These women love to yell, scream, argue and engage in endless debates and fruitless verbal jousting matches with MEN. They have taken the war of the sexes to a new level, albeit dangerous and oftentimes deadly. Their weapons of choice include: name-calling, put downs, curse words, 911 blackmail calls, threats, I dare ya’s, parental alienation, attacks on manhood and their silver bullet: false rape and abuse allegations. Once they find a combatant, (A.K.A., husband, lover or boyfriend) these women get hyped up for war and the conflict is on!
Unfortunately, they unwittingly thrust themselves into a dark hole of retaliation; which leads to abuse, domestic violence and spousal murder. If it sounds like I’m justifying abuse, you are not reading me right. It is an irrefutable fact; some women are contentious, belligerent and combative. They choose to be that way and they have a knack for provoking and inciting men to domestic warfare. Some of these women are known for pushing otherwise easygoing men to their wits end.
Following the advice and example of such leaders, thousands of pastors regularly dismiss domestic violence and send women back into dangerous situations. With “saving the marriage” as the highest aim, these pastors seek to prevent divorce at all costs.
Women receive the subtle message that their pain – or even their lives -- are not as important as keeping the marriage intact.
One woman told a victims’ support group how she took her children and fled the state in fear of her life. Her church responded by sending her a letter of ex-communication.
In the introduction to her new book "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence,” Jocylen Andersen states that "
The practice of hiding, ignoring, and even perpetuating the emotional and physical abuse of women is ... rampant within evangelical Christian fellowships and as slow as our legal systems have been in dealing with violence against women by their husbands, the church has been even slower." The Christian wife abuse cover-up is every bit as evil as the Catholic sex abuse cover-up.Christian leaders set the stage for domestic violence by perpetuating pop-culture stereotypes of femininity and masculinity. T. D. Jakes claims in his book “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” that all women were created to fulfill the vision of some man. Jakes bases his gender theology solely on the physical characteristics of male and female genitalia, insisting that all women are “receivers” and all men are “givers.” This false dichotomy breaks down quickly when one considers that female sexuality includes giving birth and giving milk. More importantly, Jakes deviates from Scripture in claiming that women and men must operate like their genitalia in every facet of life.
John MacArthur also does his part to set the stage for female subjugation. He calls the women’s movement “Satanic.” In a sermon called “God’s Design for a Successful Marriage: The Role of the Wife” MacArthur blames working women for everything from smog to prison overcrowding. As an antidote, he offers this quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the disposition of a godly wife toward her husband: “He is her little world, her paradise, her choice treasure. She is glad to sink her individuality in him.”
Finally, consider Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Patterson recently dismissed Hebrew professor Sheri Klouda, simply because she was female. He claims the Bible does not allow women to instruct men. Patterson then launched a new major at the seminary: Homemaking. Only women are allowed to take these courses, which focus on childcare, cooking and sewing -- as well as a woman’s role in marriage. The courses are taught by Patterson’s wife, who is the only surviving female in the school’s 42-person theology faculty.
Considering Patterson’s view of women, we should not be surprised at his response to domestic violence. Participating in a panel on “How Submission Works in Practice,” Patterson tells abused wives to do three things:
Pray for their husbands, submit to them, and “elevate” them. He admits that this advice sometimes leads to beatings, but also claims that the men eventually get saved. Apparently, it’s only the men that matter.
Pastors who truly want to help people and save marriages should stop attacking feminism. Instead, teach couples never to hit, choke, kick, threaten or verbally batter their spouse.
Preach against domestic violence from your pulpit.
Help abuse victims to escape their batterers – permanently.
Encourage them to press charges so that justice can be served.
Pastors, if you want to defend marriage, set an example of a loving relationship. Instruct couples to live in a way that makes their spouse want to stay with them. It really does not take a six-tape series to teach the number one tool of a successful marriage: the golden rule.