Why Pastors Won’t Stand Against Abuse

I wrote an article by this same name with the full story.  Here’s an excerpt.


So why will pastors not take a stand for the abused within their churches? …

One, they don’t want to make a mistake in taking sides.  If an abuser denies the allegation of abuse, they are afraid not to believe him (or her).  However, from the first separation I begged my pastors to follow the Mt. 18 pattern for church discipline.  But they wouldn’t do it and follow through to the final step.  The problem with this is, when pastors will not “take sides” they are taking sides.  They are taking the side of evil and leaving the abused abandoned in their abuse.  They might as well make a fist and punch people, it is just as hurtful.

Pastors are also afraid of creating division in the church.  This is the ostrich approach to pastoring, I suppose.  Unfortunately, the Bible says that those who sin are to be rebuked publicly so others will see and fear.  The silence of the church on the issue of abuse is contributing to its continued growth because abusers are affirmed in their behavior.  So by saying nothing pastors are “calling evil good” and enabling evil to continue.

The big one though is that pastors don’t want to be guilty of “putting asunder” what God has put together.  They take one statement by God (repeated two or three times in the Bible) out of the context of the whole and elevate it above every other consideration.  As I outlined in my article on the theology of an abusive marriage, the Bible has more to say about the issue of abuse.  There is more Scripture has to say about marriage and abuse as well.  But seminaries and Bible colleges don’t teach the rest of the Word on the subject of marriage.

If pastors took a stand against abusive marriages, I believe they are afraid of either making a mistake that would earn them God’s wrath or they are afraid of gaining the disapproval of church members who have the power to ruin their careers.  I love my pastors a lot but this abandonment was extremely hurtful to me.  

Until something changes, abuse will abound in Christian marriages.  And until something changes I will keep being a voice for change and for righteousness.  The Bible does have an answer for the issue of abuse and that answer isn’t silence and denial.


2 Responses

  1. I found your post very interesting. I also had a very hurtful abandonment by my Pastor after my divorce was final. My ex-in-laws also attended the same church and thus the Pastor would not address some very hurtful issues with them. I agree with all 3 of your insights and recognize them from my experience. I have not had a church since I left that one.

  2. On the church issue, I chose to make no decisions until after I passed the worst of the adjustment to my divorce. However, I would have left the church I was in had “Gary” stayed in it. The pastors were considering excommunicating him (because he was actively lobbying for people to take sides in his favor; though I really wonder if they would have done it) when he moved out of state and spared them the trouble.

    Eventually I decided to stay in this church, though I still think about changing. However, finding a good church these days can be virtually impossible. Another friend is looking and not finding anything. The one thing that keeps me where I am is that I know the senior pastor really does live by the Holy Spirit. He has blind spots, just like any of the rest of us. And I know I’ll never “fit” in any church because I dare to go the Word and the Holy Spirit to learn for myself and, as a result, don’t fit in any denomination. But I know his heart – that is priceless in a pastor. So for now, unless and until God moves me, I have stayed.

    I wish there were a good answer to this problem because we need Christian community, too. But how can people stay in churches that abandon them and protect abusers?

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

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