When leaders of Christians for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood state that a wife who is abused or beaten by her husband has brought it on herself because she is not submitting to her husband, they are publicly threatening all Christian wives because they are giving license to all Christian husbands to abuse their wives—even if they add there is no excuse for using physical violence.
Wives who hear such statements understand the meaning quite well, and redouble their efforts to do all within their power to make sure their husbands are happy. Wives who suffer abuse, understand their husbands have been given license and encouragement to abuse or beat them for any reason, since no matter what the reason, it will be blamed on the wife.
Many wives who are not abused or beaten, join with the CBMW in blaming the abused and beaten wives, because they assume they are doing a better job than their abused sisters of submitting to their husbands.
Husbands who hear such statements, experience no pressure to stop their nasty behaviors. In fact, they are encouraged to enforce their man-given authority rights. They know their pastors and peers will not hold them accountable for their sinful actions, but will instead shift the accountability onto their wives.
The result of this is an entire Christian community of wives striving to obey their husbands. Those whose husbands are kind and non-abusive do not need to strive as hard and can voice and push their opinions and preferences. But those whose husbands are harsh and demanding, live in fear of punishment from their husbands and put their entire effort into pleasing their husbands, even if that makes them less than perfect in the eyes of God.
Wives who live with domineering husbands are so focused on submitting, that they are rarely abused for non-submission. Contrary to the teaching of Bruce Ware and other CBMW teachers, these wives are abused because their husband is unhappy about something, or because he feels less powerful than he thinks he ought to feel. If he wasted the day being social, he will come home and chew out his wife for doing nothing all day, even if she was extra energetic and accomplished more than usual that day. If he is attempting to repair the car and the process is not going according to his wishes, he may beat his wife or hurl the wrench at her when she comes to tell him lunch is ready.
Abused wives know this, and do all within their power to make things go well for their husbands. It is unfortunate that they are unable to control the weather, wild animals, pets, inanimate objects, children, other men, the government, & etc.
Because “Christians” blame wives for the sinful behavior of husbands, husbands know they can freely sin against their wives and children.
When pastors like John Piper refuse to intervene until the husband’s violence against his wife turns physical or until the husband demands “major” sin from his wife, they are tempering the threat against wives by disallowing physical violence and blatant sexual sin, but still encouraging husbands to use all other forms of assault and control against their wives.
Furthermore, withholding intervention until the abuse turns physical, makes it unlikely the abuser will stop abusing. The abusive husband’s mindset has become so engrained that any other way of thinking seems ridiculous and non-biblical to him.
When pastors spend 90% of their effort to push wives to forgive and reconcile, and 10% of their effort to encourage husbands to stop abusing, and continue to teach husbands to take authority over their wives, wives know it is pointless to go to pastors for help.
The result of living with this threat from their peers is that far too many abused Christian wives never go to anyone for help until the abuse is so severe their lives, or the lives of their children, are threatened through health problems, suicidal thoughts, or from the abuser’s own hand. And far too frequently, they never go to anyone for help, and one day they end up dead, killed by the very person who vowed to cherish them.
And then some “Christians” claim the murder is the will of God. This blames the wife for being murdered by her husband, and ends up also being a threat against all Christian wives.
It is no wonder Christian women are fearful and prone to anxiety. They live with a major threat over their heads.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge," a novel about a wife who discovers traditional marriage advice doesn't always work. See www.wanetadawn.com
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