When the Church Assaults the Sanctity of Life

By Danni Moss
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This comment was made on another thread, and raises such a huge point, I think it merits its own post.

Thanks to LLS for bringing this up!

LLS:

…I wanted to post my thoughts about an aspect of domestic violence and the church…how they respond to it and what was most puzzling and painful for me.

When I went to counselors who were Christians (to talk about what was happening in my home) they were more concerned with the issue of divorce than with my safety and well being. They were more interested in specific bible verses than the safey of myself and son. I immediately knew this was wrong.

It was very painful for me and confusing, but it was the one thing that set me free to leave home. I was at risk and they could not see that.

Even now, when I speak with Christians about this, their immediate concern is divorce…not “how are you?” “what can I do to help you?”….it isn’t me that they are concerned for.

My situation made me strongly question why there was such an absence of genuine concern from people who know Jesus Christ. But who am I to judge.

Anyway, I have chosen not to argue about bible verses anymore. My husband just used these to intimidate me. He, for a short time, sent me on wild goose chases through the bible to try and find some justification for what I was doing. It was pure intimidation rooted in fear.

One of my major wake up calls was when I read a post online from a woman with children who was in a terribly dangerous situation. She was praying about what to do and asking for advice. I respect that she was praying….I tried to also…but one person’ comment really got my attention. The person was not a Christian and he or she bluntly said..get help immediately…call a shelter..you are in danger. It was the most compassionate thing anyone could have said to her.

My Response:

You have hit the nail on the head regarding something I persistently noticed as well in my church and Christian counseling experiences. Their eyes were first and foremost on DIVORCE – we have to keep these people from divorcing. Whatever I said was interpreted to mean, “I really want a divorce.” They appeared to be more concerned about protecting the Bible verses you mentioned than in protecting me and my children. Actually, I would have to say honestly that they were more concerned about protecting the Bible verses than with protecting me and my children.

Ironically, during all those times I did not want a divorce and I told them all this many times. My eyes were on reconciliation. But all they could see was divorce – so much so that they utterly failed to address the real issues.

When I finally did decide to get a divorce – at the very specific direction of God, I believe – I didn’t ask for counseling. I already knew what would happen. This was also at the very specific direction of God, I believe. He knew I didn’t need the secondary assault by the church in my extremely weakened state. By that time my health was so fragile I don’t know how I could have survived months of continued agony and misunderstanding.

This is why I have said there is something wrong when the church is more concerned with protecting “the sanctity of marriage” than they are with protecting “the sanctity of life.” This is a FACT – and it is quite a telling one. They are more concerned with protecting the religious system and it’s paradigms that compose the organization called “church” than with protecting the lives of the individuals who are the church. This is so profoundly and obviously wrong I am genuinely mystified that such a huge component of “Christianity” cannot see it.

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9 Responses

  1. To put it bluntly, in my own experiences and observations, this is the conclusion I have come to: The church, in general, is far more concerned with how Christianity appears than how it actually is. They are more concerned with appearances than people. This is an across the board thing, in my experience – from altar calls to dealing with abuse in and out of the church, they are more concerned about image the reality. And in trying to “cover” the churches “backside,” they are exposing themselves – to lawsuits – – and to ridicule form the outsiders who are not so easily fooled as those on the inside seem to be, being raised and trained in the system. In desperately clinging to appearances, they are marginalizing themselves….

  2. Yes Katherine, I agree. Fear of man is greater than fear of God. And this often make the church look foolish to the unbeliever.
    Sure, the gospel is foolishness to the unbeliever, we can’t and shouldn’t try to avoid THAT kind of foolishness.
    But this kind of foolishness — where the church disobeys God’s commandments to maintain it image-veneer — can and should be avoided.

  3. A side bar on this topice — and this was my experience…

    I believe a woman in an abusive relationship stops paying attention to her feelings and how she feels. I believe the abuser invalidates her feelings and even her reality. She becomes very “disconnected” from herself.

    When a Christian woman (or man if that is the case) goes to talk to a fellow Christian or Christian counselor and talks about how they feel..I feel afraid, I feel confused, etc. This is met with an almost suspicious attitude because on the average, it seems the church has taught us to not “trust” our feelings. The teaching goes something like…your feelings aren’t accurate and you shouldn’t live by them…I have heard this taught so many times..

    It as if the church has taught us to “deny ourselves” to our own harm.

    Anyway…I feel that is at the root of so many issues that have been discussed on this web site, I felt like mentioning it..

    • You are exactly right.

      The interesting thing about feelings is that they may not be an expression of the truth – but they may also be an expression of the truth. We can’t discount all feelings; we just need to use them as a red flag to go look for the truth.

      Emotional feelings are much like physical feelings. It is possible to have physical sensations that are not an expression of the truth. Nerve pain is one example that comes to mind – when nerves send the message that there is pain in excess of reality. The pain is then real – there is just no causative wound. This happens sometimes after injury, surgery, and practically universally after amputation.

      However, for the most part physical feelings are intended to communicate truth to us, so that we can adjust our behavior accordingly. If we put our hand on a hot stove burner the pain is intended to get us to move our hand and protect ourselves.

      The same is true of emotional feelings. We need to not ignore them but evaluate whether they are giving us false information or true information! If false, then we need to discover why our emotions are sending us wrong information and seek to be “renewed in our minds” to bring our feelings into alignment with facts.

      But just as often, maybe more, our emotions are telling us the truth. We need to pay attention because they are giving us clues to truth we may not be “seeing” with our minds. We are still responsible to handle these according to the truth – not let them drive the truck. But we are not supposed to ignore them, any more than we should ignore physical pain. That’s a good way to end up dead!

      — Danni

  4. Oh yes – love isn’t a feeling….its an action.

    What does that say about the action of domestic violence?

  5. One of the reasons I brought this up is that having grown up in a home where there was abuse and dysfuntion, I was taught to ignore my feelings. Some of which were there to protect me. Living through what I have in my marriage brought me full circle… I think valid feelings should be listened to and respected as much as our minds.

  6. In my part of Christendom there is a slogan “We walk by faith, not by sight” which usually means: ‘Don’t believe your feelings. They are not from faith. They might be based on what you can see, but what you see is not nearly as valid as what you should focus on by faith.”
    This teaching pushes the abuse victim further into denial and disconnection from her feelings.
    Also, feelings are a No-No because that is what (Yikes!) psychology is all about, and we all know psychology is contrary to Christianity, don’t we? (tongue in cheek)

  7. Barbara,

    You said it exactly! Thank you so much for stating it so clearly.

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