A Look at Why Abuse Victims Stop Attending Church

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

There are quite a few of us out here now – people who have experienced abuse in the church and are not able to attend church as a result.

Unfortunately, we are then looked upon as back-slidden and everything we attempt to say to the issue of abuse in the church is discredited because “we are not in church” and, therefore, so out of touch with God we couldn’t possibly have anything valid to say. I have been openly discredited on this blog because of my church status, not to mention in private e-mail. I have also seen others in the same situation receive the same treatment.

However, this perspective turns reality upside down.

What has really happened is that the church has put us out of fellowship with its treatment of abuse.

How can I attend a church which predicates my acceptance on the idea that they will forgive me for getting a divorce since God does? It is not true that “God forgives me for getting a divorce” – since He directed me in taking that action. My behavior wasn’t sinful and doesn’t need forgiveness. This statement also blames me for the failure of my marriage. To attend a church under this presupposition, I have to live a lie – a lie that violates my conscience before God.

How can I attend a church which views me with disrespect? Because of my divorced status I am excluded from teaching in the church or using the gifts God has given me (except singing). This means the church is saying I am less than what God says I am. The church is also limiting me from doing what God has called me to do. So to attend that church I have to deny God in my life.

How can I attend a church which teaches and fosters unbiblical gender role stereotyping when I know that this teaching is both unbiblical but also leading to the abuse of other people in the church? To attend that church I have to compromise my conscience, call evil good, and give tacit consent to the continuance of abuse in the church.

How can I attend a church where I know an abuse victim will receive the same treatment I received? The result of this treatment is literal physical abuse, and potential death, to the lives of people in the church, at the insistence of the church and its erroneous doctrine. And I know better! The church may be acting in ignorance – but I would not be! To attend that church I would again have to compromise my conscience and I would have to be an accessory to the crime of abuse – because I do know better.

These are the reasons I cannot attend any evangelical church I know of. It is not because I refuse to attend church or do not want to attend church. The church will not let me worship with them in good conscience.

So, instead, I have to go the heart of the Word and remain “in fellowship with believers” through more unconventional means – which I do.

And I am not alone. I am merely one of a very large and growing group of people that the church is barring from fellowship through their actions. But, in true church irony fashion, guess who is being blamed for being “out of fellowship?”

[Now, the next step is for us to bond together in church relationships where we are accepted and acceptable. Something I’m praying about…]

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4 Responses

  1. Well stated, Danni. Thank you.

  2. Personally, my concept of “church” at this point has very little resemblance to the institution calling itself that. My “assembly” and practice of spiritual gifts at this point occurs with my children and with small groups of other women.

    Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20

    No building, no bulletin, no liturgy, no trappings. Just two or three gathered together in HIS name.

    Therefore, I have absolutely no problem with people running their human institutions the way they want to. If they don’t want to hear from women in their human institutions, I think God will leave them alone.

    (maybe someday they will figure out that “it is not good for man to be alone”)

  3. I’m fortunate that I have found a fellowship that believes abuse is grounds for divorce. My pastor has said this from the pulpit. Now, I don’t know what kind of abuse he was talking about, because, as we know, churches will qualify abuse (i.e., “you can divorce for physical abuse, but not emotional abuse”). So I’m not about to tell him that I divorced my ex for “only” verbal and emotional abuse. But I am content there, and there are quite a few divorced/remarried people there.

    I live in a large city in a part of the country that any card-carrying member of the SBC would condemn as liberal, so maybe that’s why I am so lucky. =) But I know what you speak of, danni. I’ve been to those churches that treat divorcees as pariahs. And I don’t know that we will ever be able to freely say, “God gave me permission to divorce.”

    • Hi Zoey! 😉

      I hope with more and more of us speaking out – people who have reached this place after patiently and seriously seeking God for direction – the voices will make a difference. TRUTH – makes people free. I hope that message – straight from GOD – can reach past the barriers.

      — Danni

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