By Danni Moss
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[To read all the articles in this series, see Is Dr. James Dobson’s Advice to Abuse Victims Dangerous, Series. A link to the next article is provided at the conclusion of this one.]
10. “It’s a long shot but one worth working to achieve.”
I appreciate the fact that Dobson acknowledges it is a long shot! I haven’t seen that attitude in any fundamentalist or evangelical church yet. (Again, not to say it isn’t there somewhere, but where ever it may exist it is outside the norm.)
According to www.dictionary.com, a long shot is “an attempt or undertaking that offers much but in which there is little chance for success.” A long shot is inherently an attempt which is significantly more likely to fail than succeed. We know it is not impossible for an abuser to repent and learn to change. But, as Dr. Dobson says, it is a long shot, because it doesn’t happen very often.
A person who is an abuser, especially to an extent which drives a victim to seek outside help, is usually hardened in their sin. This is also why all the victim’s remonstrations with him prior to this have been unsuccessful. His heart is as hard as a concrete wall against her. So, while we maintain hope that God can bring conviction which that abuser will allow to penetrate and saturate his hardened heart – because it is possible – it would do everyone well to acknowledge this is truly a long shot.
Unfortunately, right here, in sight of the finish line, Dr. Dobson’s advice comes to a stuttering halt. After all this carefully-constructed planning of what to do about abuse, Dobson stops short of completing the subject.
Since it is a long shot that the abuser will genuinely repent (an even longer shot than Dr. Dobson acknowledges, given the misunderstandings still present), what is the victim supposed to do if the long shot doesn’t pay off? No answer?
Side-stepping this question seems revealing in its deafening silence. It appears that avoidance is easier than dealing with unpleasant realities. After listing all these details about how to handle an abusive marriage, Dr. Dobson tellingly fails to complete the scenario.
Why would he leave out such an obvious part of the equation – especially after acknowledging the attempt is significantly more likely than not to fail? Dr. Dobson has walked away from the ultimate question. This is an action he holds in common with most of the rest of the church.
This avoidance is one I observed throughout the Focus on the Family website entries regarding the issue of domestic abuse. When facing the last door, the conversation stops in each entry I read. This persistent silence becomes a concert of deliberate of avoidance when it is so unanimous.
Since I haven’t read everything published by Focus on the Family on the subject of abuse, I can’t say if they have an official stance on the subject. But if they do, indeed, leave the door open for a victim to divorce her abuser, this fact is not readily apparent. The general silence on this point leaves the impression their advice would coincide with the majority opinion in fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. And the hope such knowledge would provide to victims is unavailable to them.
You can see the entire original exchange and related posts here: