Marriage, Love, Abuse and the Christian Church
NOTE: If, in reading this site you realize that you are caught in the chains of oppression thru abuse of power, please take Hope. Jesus sees you, he hears your cries for help…and God is moving many of us to be the arms and legs for that help. Please google Isaiah 54 and read this as God’s promise to you that better days are coming! Please see my RESOURCES page for practical programs, books and organizations that get your struggle and are here to help you realize you DO have choices, and that whether you believe it or not – that GOD is on your side and wants to set you free from your captivity. My prayers, with all the strength and passion I can muster, are going out to you for your continued emotional and physical safety. Please contact me directly if you have questions or would like to consider exploring the support and empowerment Metamorphic Coaching brings to you.
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MARRIAGE, LOVE, ABUSE & GOD
Many of those really blatant signs of anger, controlling/possessiveness, manipulation, deceit, jealousy or “pimping” and explosive anger do not always show up before the marriage vows…and sometimes not until either a very stressful time such as a move, a new job and especially the coming of kids. These personality types are excellent at masking these behaviors of theirs until they have convinced you and themselves in likely very subtle ways that they are in charge and you are lucky to be with them. Through the words, actions, looks and even their neglect – they have manipulated you into letting them become the center of your relationship…and any time you try to bring it to middle ground, they might initially give in a little, but their large sense of entitlement brings them back to needing to be on top and putting you down below.
Again, most abusive relationships look very “normal” to those in a more “healthy” state of marriage. However, they are not…for where a “healthy” couple always bump up against their expectations of the other and are able to then change their personal expectations in order to come back to mutuality, or a 50/50 stance – an abusive relationship approach to reconciliation looks much different. The perpetrator always, in the end, looks for the abused to change his/her actions and self in order to meet the perpetrator’s expectations. Sure the perpetrator might be able to slightly change or modify his expectation – but in general it is the abused that gives up way more than they are required to do of themselves or else suffer from verbal put-downs, emotional blackmail, scary tantrums, subtle manipulation, financial threats, etc….and once these stop working – the full out force of physical assault is the last stop in order for the perpetrator to retain control.
Note: Please know that no woman (because this is more often the case) in her right mind would ever stay in a relationship where the man uses her as a verbal or physical punching bag. Abusive men/women are master manipulators and deceivers – of both those they abuse and of themselves – and can get almost anyone to believe their lies and deceit…even very strong women and men. No, the only way a woman in her right mind would allow herself to be physically beaten upon is if her “right mind” has been done away with by the verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc. abuse she has endured. It is the old analogy of a frog and the pot of water on the stove. If you put the frog in a boiling pot of water, it immediately jumps out for he can feel the difference. However, you put him in before you turn on the heat, and he stays in till he is dead…never realizing the slowly increasing heat around him.
There is a definite cycle in an abusive relationship where – after a blow up, the “honeymoon” stage comes back…the “love” feels genuine and real and the abused holds out against all hope that was the last time there would be a blow up. Flowers are brought to the abused, sweet words and promises are uttered, the sex might be better than ever. Yet, in a matter of a few hours to a few months, the tension starts to build again…little things that didn’t bother the perpetrator a few months ago or a few hours ago are now becoming huge battles…until finally there is another blow up/explosion. Again, this cycle might take months or even years to repeat…or can happen repeatedly in a matter of minutes.There is never any resolution…only “confusion and delay” (to quote Sir Tophamm Hatt from Thomas the tank engine – as this is a perfect analogy to how one feels after a blow up with an abuser calms down). You both tend to go around and around in circles, never understanding the other no matter how hard you try…until usually the abused gives into the abuser just to get some peace, to get away from the abuse and often times to get some sleep (yes, a fight with an abuser often can last until wee hours of the morning).
With the little education out there on this subject, ESPECIALLY within the church, it could take YEARS or a very tragic event to take place before anyone will know what happened behind closed doors. Everyone in the family that is at the hands of abuse is shamed or guilted into being kept quiet…and I don’t think our church encourages us very well to speak up either. We, as a community, get uncomfortable when things get too personal and hit too close to home – so we just don’t ask, or we turn the other way. We know how hard life is and how easy it is to loose ourselves in anger – so we make excuses for not confronting ourselves and others on inappropriate, unbiblical behavior – me included.
But folks, all that I described above is not simply “too much love” just directed in the wrong way. This looks NOTHING like the Biblical love I read about and or watch in those “more healthy” marriages…this is down right evil deceptiveness straight from the enemy. It is meant to kill and destroy both participants, and any one else brought into the home. This type of “love” is glorified in the movies, in our romance novels, in our talks with friends and is reinforced with the violence and pornography we are all exposed to at an alarming rate.
I’ve often asked why I never hear this subject preached by the church from the pulpit…and I can guess why. For, if the statistics are right, it hits too close to home for most of us. If truly 1 in 4 women will suffer along with a great majority of the kids – how do you address this safely from a pulpit? For if one in four is being abused even currently, that means she is potentially sitting right next to her abuser, in the church service and is fearing for herself and her kids when she gets home. And I can foresee one of 2 things will happen:
1) The abuser will look at the examples the pastor will give and say how awful and horribly these other men/women are, how could they ever treat another person this way? (This comes from their great sense of self and entitlement – or shall we say sin built up and corroding their heart where they can see the speck in other peoples eyes but not in the plank in their own eye.) This reaction makes the abused downplay their experiences and thinking they aren’t being abused – or at least not to the fullest extent possible so it is not that bad.
2) They will think that the abused most have said something about them (again, because they think too much of themselves and it is always all about them in the end) and then by trying to help, the church has done the opposite by putting very real people at very real risk once they get home behind closed doors.
So, where do we start as a church? Maybe the answer is to start it here – on the internet? I really don’t know, but guess that is where I am starting. Yet, I know as a body of people who love God and strive to live as Jesus exemplified for us – we can put our heads together and come up with not just one solution – but hopefully, prayerfully many. Just as the church, at least in the SF Bay Area, is taking a HUGE and GREAT stand against human trafficking and child slavery in very direct and safe ways…I know the church is being called to take a stand against this type of abuse right here in our own communities. I just pray that God will wake her (the church) up sooner rather than later – and that if possible I have the pleasure of helping her (the church) do this.