What Women Wish Pastors Knew

There is a new book out entitled What Women Wish Pastors Knew: Understanding the Hopes, Hurts, Needs, and Dreams of Women in the Church by Denise George, in which she shares the following information:

George sites a survey in which nearly 6,000 pastors were asked how they would counsel women who came to them for help with domestic violence. Twenty-six percent would counsel them the same way Marleen’s pastor did: to continue to “submit” to her husband, no matter what. Twenty-five percent told wives the abuse was their own fault—for failing to submit in the first place. Astonishingly, 50 percent said women should be willing to “tolerate some level of violence” because it is better than divorce.

These numbers are hardly surprising for those of us who are working with domestic abuse victims in the church on a daily basis. 50% of 6,000 pastors surveyed said women should be willing to tolerate some level of violence because it is better than divorce. Yes, this would exactly reflect what we are seeing. And a representative sample of 6,000 is considered quite substantive; definitely enough to be fairly confident this is an accurate reflection of pastoral advice across the board, though no specific denominations are mentioned. I have noticed little variation from one denomination to another, though there are a couple denominations that have taken policy positions against domestic violence.

So do half the pastors out there really think that women should tolerate “some level of violence” to save their marriages? How can this possibly be?

In my observation this is possible because Christian theology attempts to misapply concepts such as submission and suffering for righteousness while completely ignoring the rest of the Word on issues such as violence, anger, verbal abuse, relationship with an abuser, the heart of God regarding the oppressed and afflicted, etc.

I found the quote reference above in the article An Ugly Secret, by Chuck Colson, posted today, April 20, 2009. The article includes “Marlene’s” story, alluded to in the quote.

While I cannot say the oversight was deliberate, accidental or telling, I thought it was significant that Colson’s article does what so many in the church in the “other 50%” are still doing. The focus of his article is entirely and exclusively on physical battery. There is no expressed understanding that “milder” battery that doesn’t include actual fists (forced physical compliance, forced sex, physical aggression and domination) and non-physical abuse are just as deadly and just as serious. There is not enough information present to conclude whether Denise George also makes this mistake in her book.

I wonder what results such a survey would reveal if these other forms of abuse were included in the study? The results would definitely be even worse.

7 Responses

  1. Enduring abuse is not “suffering for righteousness sake.” Enduring abuse is suffering at the hands of the “evil man,” and proverbs chapter two tells us that it is God’s express will for us to be “delivered from” the evil man.

    We must pray that pastors will realize the need to renounce the false doctrine of female subordination, which leads to so much abuse, and for them to experience real heart changes that will produce more compassion for the abused women within their flocks.


    I wonder how many of them will not have a place at the final banquet???

    Now is the time for them to consider whom they really serve.

    Thank you for posting this…and I pray all GOD’s blessings over everyone here.

  3. When many “christian” church organizations still deny women the ability to become clergy let alone the right to vote in church concerns, why are we surprised that the church takes an anti-women position in domestiic violence and clergy sexual abuse (when the victim is female)? Why are we surprised that this “christian” society which has these anti-feminist views still thinks it is somehow the woman’s fault when she is raped or otherwise abused?

    Would sure be great if “christian” organizations followed Jesus instead of their man made ideas and rules.

  4. Danni, I haven’t got the book referred to. Can you tell me when the survey was done and how the participants were selected? And is there a way to access the survey without reading the book?

  5. I was just surfing around DV tags tonight and came upon your impressive web site.

    I’m wondering if you are familiar with the Faith Trust Institute here in Seattle? Carlene Cross’ book?

    BTW, the CDC recently briefed Congress on the health impacts of DV. Sorry to read your cancer returned. I haven’t seen the study, but I’ve been told there’s an amazing correlation between DV and breast cancer.

    Anne Caroline Drake

  6. What on earth are you doing allowing another person to be the authority in your life?? You should never ever do this, and that includes pastors . In a lot of cases, especially pastors and other authority figures with too much power or influence. Please, please, I care about you; wean yourself off them. Even go ‘cold turkey’ if you can. It is that serious. All the best best, Love John.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: