Friday, September 4, 2009

Part 3, Who or What is responsible for the destruction of the family? Denying Domestic Abuse

Many pastors and powerful men declare that the break down of families began with the rise of feminism, specifically when women started going to work outside the home. Let’s take a closer look at this claim. If their claim is based on the divorce rate, then they would be correct. The divorce rate has risen since women joined the workforce in the 1970’s, But is a couple staying together versus divorcing a true measurement of whether a family is “broken,” or has “broken down?”

Is a couple who remains legally married, but has the proverbial tape down the middle of the house, with each partner living on his/her side, married in any way besides the letter of the law? What about the couple who lives in constant conflict because the wife makes her living as a prostitute against her husband’s wishes? Or the couple where the wife cries herself to sleep every night because her husband repeatedly commits adultery, neglects her by refusing to allow her basic medical care, food, clothing, or love, or abuses her with verbal, emotional, spiritual or physical assaults? Or the couple where one is a drug or alcohol addict to such an extent that he/she offers nothing to the marriage? And what about the family where the wife is aware her husband is sexually abusing one or more of the children? The families in these examples are definitely “broken down.” Remaining legally married may make these marriages legally “intact,” but they are not intact in spirit. These couples are relationally divorced. Furthermore, a child living in any of these situations experiences acute and long-term pain and damage, and cannot develop normally.

Yet the “blame the women’s movement” crowd is the same one that makes a big deal about adultery, but denies the seriousness of domestic abuse and domestic violence and refuses to deal with it, except to tell abused wives to go home and submit to their husbands. Consider John Piper, who expects wives to wait until they are physically abused before they ask their pastors to hold their husbands accountable. (see By the time her husband has physically assaulted her, what wife can ever trust him to not assault her again?

With the high percentage women who experience abuse from their husbands, wouldn’t it be logical to expect that DOMESTIC ABUSE is one of the biggest causes of divorce? Wouldn’t it be logical to focus on stopping abuse in order to have healthy and loving families rather than having wives and children who are emotionally and spiritually bruised and so shredded their physical health declines?

So instead of focusing on imprisoning abused wives in their damaging marriages, wouldn’t it be more logical and effective to focus on stopping domestic abuse—even the verbal kind? Instead of assuming that most divorces are caused by the women’s liberation movement, why not examine what is going on in homes that would cause wives to want to be liberated from their husbands? Indeed, if a husband loves his wife instead of controls her, if he follows Christ’s example and lays down his life for his wife, why would any woman want to liberate herself from marriage to a man who showers her with such deep and abiding love?

Considering that so many pastors and churches refuse to hold the husband who abuses his wife accountable, and refuse to teach husbands to love their wives instead of rule and control them, could it be that the pastors who do this are responsible for the high divorce rate? And the individuals in churches increase the divorce rate by pressuring wives to submit and stay with their abusers, instead of pressuring husbands to love instead of control their wives.

In so doing, pastors and churches also contribute to the loss of membership. Their behavior drives women and children away from churches, and some are even driven away from God. But that is another subject.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit

1 comment:

  1. Insightful questions, Waneta.

    It doesn't cease to shock me how "Christian" men will blame the women, blame the victims, for seeking freedom and a healthy empowerment-- which Jesus offers in the gospels and the Holy Spirit through Paul offers in the epistles--all the while they are walking in pride, arrogance and sin-based control (aka oppression) and teaching other men to walk in that same Pharisaical spirit.

    Thank you for bringing these issues to light, and from what I can tell, from a holistic biblical framework.