Abuse, the Church, and #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear

Just a heads up: I will be discussing abuse in this post.

I’m sure that by now you have heard of #thingsonlychristianwomenhear.

I strongly encourage you to read through these tweets because they are very eye opening to the sexism that women face every day in the church. I also recommend #thingsonlyblackchristianwomenhear highlighting the sexism AND racism that black women deal with in the church. We need to do better.

Reading these tweets and the reactions to them made me think back to a time when I sought refuge in the church only to be told that “abuse is not a biblical justification for divorce.”

I would like you to think for a moment about the implications of that statement.

“Abuse is not a biblical justification for divorce.”

Let me explain to you what was communicated to me through those words during the most difficult and tumultuous time in my life. In that one sentence, the church told me that it was okay for my husband to treat me like the piece of garbage that he constantly told me that I was. It was okay for him to berate me, to humiliate me, to use me. It was okay for him to treat me like my body was his property. It was okay for him to tell me that I needed to be a good wife or I could never be a good mother. It was okay for him to tell me that I couldn’t keep the life growing inside of me because I wasn’t obedient enough. The church told me that I have no worth other than what my husband placed on me, and that was good in the eyes of God.

Our words have an impact. They matter.

If I didn’t have the knowledge of the Bible and of who Jesus really is, I would have turned my back and never returned to the church or to my faith, or I would have stayed in the abusive relationship thinking it was my responsibility. How many people are being kept in abusive situations because they believe that it is God’s will? The sad thing is, I ultimately chose to leave my marriage because I knew I could not raise my daughter in that environment. She deserved better. It was not until years later that I accepted that God placed that same worth on me, too.

I recently attended a popular Christian marriage conference. During one of the segments, they played slow motion pictures of children with the biggest, saddest eyes you have ever seen. They said, “divorce permanently damages children.” There was no mention of abuse during the entire conference.

Please consider this: any form of abuse is not a symptom of a bad relationship. It is an issue of the heart of the abuser. No amount of work on the relationship will heal that.

Christians: we are here to be Jesus to each other. To love on everyone of all different backgrounds with self-sacrificial, unconditional love. We are supposed to use the Bible to lift each other up, not to oppress each other. Our experiences are important and need to be shared. Please take the time to read, ask questions, and LISTEN to each other. We can do better.

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