There are many Scriptural reasons which prevented me from speaking out
and seeking help and which left me confused about my position regarding
the abuse, including the belief that
- we should not
go to law against our Brother (1 Cor. 6:5-7), hence even where the law
of the land could help to protect us from the violence or assaults we
are experiencing, we deny ourselves that protection.
- we should submit to our husband as unto Christ (Eph. 5:22,24; Col.
3:18), even where our husband is not acting in a Christ-like manner
(1 Pet. 3:1) our body no longer belongs to us but to our husband - what
right do we therefore have to his treatment of it/us? (1 Cor. 7:4)- this is especially a problem if we are the victims of sexual abuse or
marital rape ... do we have a right to our husbands using our bodies sexually
against our will or is that defrauding him?
- we must not separate ourselves from our husbands, but are bound for
life by marriage (1 Cor. 7:10,39) - hence even moving into a refuge
or safehouse to escape the abuse is not an option we would consider
as that would seem to be a separating of ourselves from our husband.
- we should forgive each other (Mat. 18:21,22 and countless others)
and should repay evil with good, allowing ourselves to be defrauded
and turn the other cheek (1 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 12:17; 1 Thes. 5:15 and Mat.
5:39) - so each time we are abused or assaulted, we forgive our husband,
try to blot it out from our minds, try to be a better wife to him and
put our trust in him again.
- when faced with troubles, we should pray about it, and if we have
enough faith, the prayer will have results (Jas. 5:13-16; Mat. 17:20)
– if therefore the abuse continues after prayer, the fault must
lie with us, our lack of faith or selfish motives, for it says: "When
you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives"
- we believe that we reap what we sow, hence the abuse must be due to
our sinfulness (Gal. 6:7; Ecc. 11:1 and many more)
- if we are truly trying to follow our Lord, then we keep no record
of wrongs, but try to continue to love and act out that love (1 Cor.
to that, what examples do we find in Scripture?
- Hagar was suffering
abuse at the hands of her mistress, and was told to go back and submit
herself when she fled the abuse (Gen. 16:6)
- Job suffered,
though he was righteous – should we too not accept good from God
and not trouble? (Job 2:10)
- Many OT prophets
suffered, and bore it with patience, and they should be an example to
us (Jas. 5:10,11)
- Time and again
we read about suffering, and the need to bear it (1 Pet. 2: 19-21; 3:14,17
and 4:19) and in some way that suffering is for our own good (1 Pet.
1:6,7; Rom. 5:3-5 and Is. 38:17)
believe that "No temptation has seized you except what is common
to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what
you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out
so that you can stand up under it." (1 Cor. 10:13), and hence that
no matter how hard the abuse, we can bear it and it is a lack of faith
to give up and escape it, but God will find the solution and end it.
we also believe that "all things work together for good to those
who love God" (Rom. 8:28), hence if it does not look too 'good' it
must be our love that is lacking, the fault is ours.
On one hand we realise that our husband is being overtaking in a fault,
and we have a duty to try to prevent him from sinning (Gal. 6:1), on the
other hand, we feel responsible for the abuse, as though we were the ones
causing our husband-brother to stumble and sin (Mark 9:42,43) hence the
fault lies with us, and we need to do the changing. What right then do
we have to object to the speck in our brother's eye, when we have a moat
in our own? (Mat. 7:4-5) How can we throw the first stone? (John 8:7).
There are also other hurdles to overcome, which are specific to our Community
and similar ones:
- we are reticent
about approaching or seeking help from the 'World', for is not friendship
with the World, enmity to God? (Jas. 4:4)
- Nor do we want
to admit to that type of problem, because we like to portray ourselves
– the Christadelphians – as being separate and unaffected
by worldly problems, we don't want to let the side down and admit our
imperfections, or bring the Truth into disrepute.
- We should not
be a bad example to younger members, or even our children, by giving
up and ended a marriage which is abusive.
- Since the issues
of abuse are still largely taboo within Christadelphia, we feel as though
we must be the faulty ones to appear to be the only ones to be experiencing
- We do not want
to blacken our husband's name among our Brothers and Sisters, don't
want them to be thought of badly, or suffer the condemnation of their
spiritual and ecclesial family. Despite the abuse, we still love them,
and would rather suffer ourselves than see them suffer.
- We do not want
to bring shame on our husband-brother or the Community, and feel that
to speak out about it, break the silence, would bring shame, rather
than realising that it is the abuse itself which does so ... how often
is the messenger blamed for the message?
- We fear not being
believed even if we do speak out, especially where our husband is a
well-respected speaker, holds an office within the ecclesia, or where
we have come in from the outside and so automatically get less credence
than if we had grown up in the 'nurture and admonishion of the Lord'.
could go on and on about the various spiritual struggles we face, but
will leave it at that for now. Suffice it to say, before the ecclesia
is a position to act either in trying to help the abuser to own his/her
actions and heal, or in support of the victim of abuse, there is a very
long, hard spiritual journey for the victim just in being able to admit
the abuse for what it is, let alone speak out about it and bring the problem
before the ecclesia.
There is still a lot of work to do within our Community.