My primary goal in fighting domestic violence and submission abuse is to preserve marriages and the family. I want married couples to be able to stay together “as long as they both shall live.” How does one go about trying to preserve the family? If a person is complementarian, the primary focus is to maintain husband authority via wife submission & obedience. It seems to me, this is preserving the husband's authority, but does nothing to preserve the marriage or the family.
If one wants to preserve the family, each member of the family must be strengthened and encouraged to be all they can be, to use their talents for the benefit of both family, community, and society. Demanding that wives dumb themselves down and weaken themselves so their husbands can appear strong and manly and maintain authority, does not preserve wives. Nor does it preserve husbands. Nor does it preserve marital bonds. The divorce rate is just as high among Christians as among non-Christians, and some say it is higher among Christians than among non-Christians. It looks like the harder churches push husband authority, the more Christian wives choose to divorce.
This phenomenon makes perfect sense, since it is well known that a husband's belief in his right to dictate to his wife, his belief in his entitlement to have his way at his wife's expense and against her will, his belief that these privileges give him the right and justification to punish and train his wife, to expect service from her are the very beliefs and system of beliefs that are the foundation, the motivation, undergirding domestic violence and domestic abuse, whether verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, or all of the above.
Ordering wives to stay married does not preserve marriages, nor does it preserve families. If you keep food in a jar, but the seal is broken, that food is rotten and full of bacteria. We could say the food is dead. It is garbage and we throw it out. In the same way, an abusive marriage that is kept in the “jar” of stay together no-matter-what, is rotten and dead. The seal of love and do-to-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-to-you has been broken, and the marriage is contaminated. In Jesus's words, those marriages are “whited sepulchers, full of dead men's bones.” We know the interior of those marriages are contaminated and rotten because the children from those marriages are 2-3 times more likely to have abusive marriages themselves. (If I recall the rate correctly. It may be higher than that, but I'm too lazy to look it up.)
In my work against domestic violence and its foundation of husband authority, I am fighting for the committed loving relationships that are pictured in the Holy Bible. I am fighting to preserve LIVING marriages, LIVING families, that are holy to the Lord. I am asking husbands and wives to obey what the Bible actually says and teaches, rather than follow the doctines of men. I am asking, begging Christians to reexamine the Word to see if it actually teaches husbands to take authority over their wives, or if that is a teaching inserted into the text by men.
I am specifically asking those with relatively good husband-authority marriages to examine the Word. Your marriage is working because the husband is choosing to share his authority with his wife. Please consider the many wives whose husbands do not share their authority. These wives live with continual pain and devastation of their being and lacerations to their dignity, because their husbands place themselves as god, and above God to their wives and children.
With the rate of women who have been abused by a male partner in her lifetime having risen to one third of women, (up from 1 in 4) and with some studies suggesting the figure is closer to one half of women, isn't it time those who claim to follow Christ pay attention and prayerfully study the Word? Instead of relying on translations, use the concordance. I believe the Authorized King James Version is closest to the original text. Having looked up words in the concordance and then comparing what I learned with what other translations say, I find many translations insert into their texts husband authority that is not there in the Authorized King James Version or in Strong's Concordance.
What I have learned gives a far different picture of God's attitude toward women than is usually taught in many churches. And this knowledge fits like the missing pieces of a puzzle. Instead of a loving God who constantly stomps on women and cannot be bothered with their plight, I find a loving God who required husbands to divorce their wives rather than desert them or kick them out, so that their wives would be free to remarry and find fulfilling lives with loving husbands. I found the rules of divorce were decreed to protect women. This is a totally different side of God than my church taught. And it matches the love and compassion Jesus showed toward women.
Please, search the scriptures to see if this is so. And purchase books like “Behind the Hedge, A novel,” to have a better understanding of what goes on in husband-authority homes, how that belief system effects the whole family and even friends and the extended family. God bless you in your prayerful research.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See www.wanetadawn.com A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.
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