Agreeing With Curses

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

During the last summer of my marriage God showed me the truth about the power of the tongue in abuse and that it has the power of life and death. He revealed to me that my husband’s constant curses were literally killing me, resulting in cancer.

However, the other day God showed me another layer of truth to this. He showed me that by not standing against these curses I was standing in agreement with them. I stood up for my children, with my eyes constantly on the physical abuse. This earned me even greater wrath from my husband. But I did not stand up for myself.

I had been taught not to stand up for myself. I had been taught that a wife should submit to her disobedient husband without a word (which does not apply in an abusive situation, but that is the subject for another day), and I had been drilled all my life that I was “less than” and whatever other people said about me must be true. I was told to turn the other cheek (again, taken out of context to make a wrong application). So it did not occur to me to stand up in the truth of the Word against the curses. I may have objected now and then, but I did not persist and I certainly didn’t do so on a constant or regular basis.

So as he cursed me on a daily basis, with practically every word out of his mouth directed toward me, I let those curses stand in my life. Twenty years of nearly daily curses piled up against my spirit, soul, and body.

Is it any wonder I ended up with a death-curse of cancer? And while I can say that cancer resulted from the death curses of his mouth, I also have to own the fact that I did not stand against those curses. In so doing, I accepted them even though I hated them.

This is yet another reason why we must not remain in subjection to the curses of an abuser. We have a responsibility to steward the temple of God which is our bodies. If God speaks life but our spouse speaks death, that spouse is demanding an idolatrous allegiance from us! It is just that simple and that serious.

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Blessing for the Ultimate Sacrifice in an Abusive Marriage

By Danni Moss
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When I refer to the ultimate sacrifice in an abusive marriage, most people’s minds probably think of what mine would – what happens if you actually die in an abusive marriage? However, that’s not what I’m talking about.

There is a sacrifice that may become necessary and it is one that the most dedicated of us do not want to make – in fact, many refuse to make.

The most determined of us hold firmly to our marriage vows and refuse to consider that God could actually lead another way. While we believe our actions are demonstrating huge faith and sacrifice for the cause of Christ, they may actually be an expression of unbelief.

First of all is the issue of holding to our marriage vows. God Himself cannot keep a covenant where the other party persists in violation. The other party’s violation voids God’s agreement and His blessing. God is faithful; that is His nature. And that is the deep desire of many of us in our marriages. We are faithful; we will remain faithful no matter what. But we cannot make the choice for the other person to remain faithful. And that voids our ability to maintain our end of the covenant. If we have a wrong belief (unbelief) about this issue of our marriage vows, we will remain in a situation God does not expect or want for us.

Second, we have to understand there is literally an issue of idolatry in place when dealing with an abusive spouse. I address this issue briefly in the article The Issue at the Heart of Domestic Violence. When it comes right down to it, we have to choose which master we will serve. Remaining in a marriage of spiritual idolatry boils down to a problem with unbelief – we do not believe God sees it just that black and white.

Another thing that can keep us in unbelief is our own selfishness. Yes, that’s what I said. It can be very hard to look at this hiding in the corners of our heart. You see, if we walk away we give up a lot. We give up our image, we give up our identity as a wife (huge!), we probably give up friendships and even church support we have valued immensely, we give up the respect of others. We may even think we are giving up on ourselves and God and our family – though this is not the truth. We may give up our home and our financial security.

For me, the single biggest step of faith I ever made was believing God when He told me to get out of my marriage and follow Him. It was a daring, blind step of audacious faith – and it came at huge expense. I did lose friends, family, church support, my identity, my role as a wife, my home and financial security (such as they were), and the respect of others.

But, I dared to believe what God told me.

Today, He gave me a huge blessing. Actually, today He gave me the promise of a huge blessing – which is sitting right in the Word and I had never realized it applied directly to me.

And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Mark 10:29-30

Now, lest anyone think that this sacrifice in an abusive marriage isn’t about the gospel, it is indeed about the gospel. Not only is it an issue of obedience to God, it is quite literally about the gospel. Jesus defined the gospel in Luke 4:18-19:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The gospel includes healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to captives, setting at liberty those that are bruised, and preaching the favorable – full of God’s favor! year of the Lord. The gospel is not just about going to heaven when we die. And that is definitely not what Jesus modeled in His earthly ministry, nor does it describe the fulfillment of what Jesus very specifically commissioned his followers to do when He left. Eternal life starts at the day of salvation and God’s salvation is for every part of our lives, not just our eternal destiny.

The promise of a blessing is literally also for those of us who have left husbands (or wives, as the case may be), family, friends, churches, homes, and financial provision to leave an idolatrous marriage and follow ONE God. God promises us a hundredfoldin this world – not only in the world to come!

This is a powerful promise for those who will dare to let go and abandon themselves to God. The sacrifice is astronomical – but God’s promise is a hundred times bigger.

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.

Breaking the Silence & Offering Hope for Christian Domestic Violence

This weekend I read the book Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence by Jocelyn Andersen. This book is featured in my left side bar.

I have to say, the book is EXCELLENT. The author did an absolutely fantastic job of communicating much needed and powerful truth in a readable style. I read it in a couple hours straight through (but I’m also a crazy reader!) and I like the fact that it is not so weighty that a person in abuse would be overwhelmed by it.

This book clearly and simply — and compassionately — reveals the seriousness of domestic abuse in the Christian church and shares God’s answers for those walking in it.

And the Scripture throughout was what I needed personally right now, so that was an extra bonus.

This book is an important element in bringing hope, help and healing to women who’ve been given a death sentence by the church. I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who knows someone experiencing abuse, to church leaders and counselors everywhere, and to those who are walking through abuse in their own life.

The Last Curse

One of the things I feel so compelled to communicate to people who are in abuse, and to the church which is supposed to stand for their protection, is the very real danger of death as a result of verbal abuse. God is not speaking figuratively when He says in the Word that death and life are in the power of the tongue.

I have written two more installments of my personal journey, directly related to this issue of death by verbal abuse.

The Last Curse

The Breastplate of Righteousness

They are intended to be read in the order given since the second is dependent on information in the first.

Famous Last Words — “It Was an Accident”

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

There were a couple events in the news recently which stood as dichotomous endposts to the ever-popular statement, “It was an accident!”

City Councilman Bill Borchert was briefly suspected of domestic violence when his wife’s back injury took her to the hospital. A hospital worker contacted the authorities to investigate when Laura Mauffrey Borchert told medical staff she had injured her back when her husband pushed her during an argument. Upon interviewing Mrs. Borchert the authorities decided no crime had occurred.

However, there was much to note in the brief news article to which I have linked.

First of all, Mrs. Borchert “was appalled” that the hospital worker contact the authorities about her case. I sincerely hope, but suspect my hope is probably in vain, that the medical staff member was applauded rather than being reprimanded for his/her action. Reporting this incident to the authorities was exactly what this hospital worker should have done, without being intimidated or overawed by the office of the person under suspicion. In fact, I wish the rest of the system had proceeded on the same basis. It appears to me that the rest of the system closed ranks around the councilman, which happens with great frequency. This leaves the wives/children/girlfriends of civil servants, pastors, and the famous and influential in great jeopardy.

Second, in my opinion it seems glaringly obvious that something is seriously amiss in this relationship and this incident. You see, “it was an accident” that Mrs Borchert was hurt because she was wearing heels. Since she was wearing heels he gets a free pass on admittedly shoving his wife during an argument. It doesn’t matter if his wife says it wasn’t in a violent way. He laid his hands on his wife in the heat of an argument and he shoved her. It does not matter if it was a “tiny” shove or a monstrous one. He laid his hands on his wife during an argument. The motivation is the problem, not the velocity of impact!

Also, something everyone should be remembering is that both of these people have a lot to lose if Mr. Borchert were seriously suspected of domestic violence. Their lifestyle and community position goes down the drain, even without a legal conviction. There is no way to know whether Mrs. Borchert is intimidated or a willing participant. But it would be foolish to think that this issue of status is not front and center in consideration here.

Community leaders who are aware of the dynamics of domestic abuse need to do more than take their word for it – in every community, because this type of thing happens everywhere. When someone of prominence is in a situation like this the incident requires more scrutiny, not less. If the situation were, in fact, innocent, both the councilman and his wife should be grateful and applauding the community servants who care enough out abuse in their town to not play favorites or “look the other way” for some people.

This situation highlights several fundamental problems. A lot of communities think they have “all the pieces in place” to accurately address domestic violence. This situation reveals that this idea is a misperception. As long as this state exists, people remain in danger in every community.

However, back to the original bit that brought this so powerfully to my attention. Both Mr. and Mrs. Borchert said “it was an accident.” This was NOT an accident! The simple fact that they were both willing to excuse it with such a patent falsehood, is scary. It was not an accident that Mr. Borchert laid his hands on his wife. Her fall was a direct result of his wrong choice.

On the other hand, the news recently featured the tragic event of actress Natasha Richardson’s death. Now that was an accident. An accident is an unforeseeable event which occurs for no logical reason. Accidents happen – but not as a result of deliberate wrong choices. Natasha Richardson’s passing is truly a tragic accident, worthy of being mourned.

The debacle of Mr. Borchert’s assault of his wife during an argument — is not.

Gender Roles: Are Complementarians Traditionalists?

Jocelyn Anderson, author of the book Woman Submit! featured in my left sidebar, has written an insightful post on her blog (linked in my blogroll), called Complementarians NOT Traditionalists? Hogwash!

One of the things I find frustrating about the complementarian movement, Vision Forum, Eagle Forum, Bill Gothard et.al., the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, True Woman, etc. is how the roots of these organizations within a larger movement are shrouded in mystery and utterly unquestioned. Because “all” the “big names” appear to think this whole thing is just straight from God’s mouth to our ears, no one questions what is being taught.

In the article Jocelyn takes apart just one point in the tangled ball of yarn that is the truth and roots of this movement. And a powerful point it is! It is so important for us as believers to be truly aware. Being Bereans is the responsibility of us all – and that must include digging into where these assumed “truths” are coming from and what their roots are. And unfortunately it is such a convoluted mess it can be hard to sort the threads. Jocelyn is doing just that, and this is a very informative piece of the puzzle.