I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom: preach the Word (as an official messenger) be ready when the time is right and even when it is not (keep your sense of urgency whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome) correct (those who err in doctrine or behavior) warn (those who sin) exhort and encourage those who are growing toward spiritual maturity with inexhaustible patience and faithful teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1 AMP
I can almost guarantee that there are abused women and some abused men sitting in every church represented by this blogging audience. There may even be some who are walking with a heavy burden they are not meant to carry. I come to bring awareness, to encourage and challenge you.
Abused No More is my most popular selling book. Why? Because abuse is happening everywhere, including in our churches.
If I had known the above Scripture when I married at the tender age of 19 and was first physically assaulted on my honeymoon, I could have saved myself 25 years of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse and trauma.
May I repeat part of what Timothy said:
Correct those who err in doctrine or behavior; warn those who sin.
It took me about 20 years to gather enough courage to go to my then pastor to ask for help. I was at the end of my rope. I’d done everything I’d known to do, and nothing worked. I loved him, forgave him and submitted to him just as I’d been taught, believing that if I did those things, he would recognize my Godly character and it would change him. It did not.
Do not be deceived—unchecked abuse increases in frequency and intensity. The only hope to save an abusive marriage is to hold the abuser accountable as Timothy said—“correct those who err in doctrine and behavior”.
My pastor’s advice at that time was ‘Hang in there.’ Those words kept me in the situation. I wrongly believed if a man of God told me to stay, it must be God’s will. It entrapped me and made me powerless. Religion teaches women to be forgiving and submissive which only perpetuates the problem. There is nothing wrong with being submissive and forgiving in the proper context—but when you tell a woman who is being battered emotionally, verbally, physically, sexually and / or spiritually, to submit and forgive, you strip her of self-esteem, power and hope for a better future.
God said in Isaiah 54:15:
If anyone attacks you, do not for a moment suppose I sent them.
Again, I say, “Correct the sister who errs in doctrine believing that by staying she is pleasing God, or that it is His will, or that it is her responsibility to hold the marriage together.”
Part of what kept me in the marriage so long was that I thought it was where God wanted me—that it was my cross to bear—that it was up to me to hold the marriage together even though my husband gave me every reason and right to leave. I thought he would change. I believed God would change him. God did not change him—God changed me.
A man is to love his wife like Christ loves the church. Jesus sacrificed for her. He is not forceful with her. He is patient, kind and always does what is best for her. We are to live by His example. In that context, submission is appropriate.
During the first 5 years of abuse, I was so beaten down emotionally from a continuous cycle of verbal, physical and emotional assaults that I thought my only means of escape was to ram myself into the oncoming tractor trailer. But God was in the car with me that night. He diverted my attention and not only saved me from certain death—he also saved my soul because at that point I had not yet accepted the Lord. I would have died to escape hell on earth only to suffer hell forever and ever.
There may be some here who are walking the road I walked, or know someone who is. We have a choice. We can look the other way thinking we will stay out of their business or we can ask ourselves WWJD…What would Jesus do?
Jesus would not turn a blind eye. Jesus came to set captives free. It may take courage and risk to help a sister who cannot help herself. And she may get angry with you…but a woman who is emotionally and mentally beaten down by abuse or is falsely believing God wants her there is not able to help herself. She needs her sisters to walk with her and to do for her until she can do for herself. She needs her sisters to call 911 if they need to. She needs her sisters to be aware of what is happening in her life and support her.
When we turn a blind eye, we empower the abuser and tighten the chains of abuse around our sisters.
Man may tell her to ‘hang in there’ but God says,
“I am able to make all grace abound toward you. You are more than a conqueror—you are victorious. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.
Jesus loves unconditionally. He wants to heal our wounds and scars. He always wants what is best for us. Beating a woman into submission is not love. And it definitely is not God’s best.
I Corinthians 5:11-13 (AMP) says, “I have written to you not to associate with any so-called [Christian] brother if he is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater [devoted to anything that takes the place of God], or is a reviler [who insults or slanders or otherwise verbally abuses others], or is a drunkard or a swindler—you must not so much as eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders (non-believers)? Do you not judge those who are within the church [to protect the church as the situation requires]? 13 God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside [the faith]. Remove the wicked one from among you [expel him from your church].”
Reviler in the Greek is translated Abusive. If God is telling the church (God’s people) not to even eat with an abusive person—what could he be saying to the woman who is suffering daily at the hands of an abusive man?
Eating together implies acceptance. God is telling us not to accept such behavior in the church. He is calling us to deal with the one who calls himself a Christian but is harming Christ’s bride. May I encourage us to correct those who err in doctrine and behavior as both Timothy and Paul state, and not look away to mind our own business? Our sisters need our help, whether they recognize it or not. We could potentially save a life because abuse always escalates.
I leave you with this: Romans 14:19 “So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another …
Linda Irene is the author of inspirational, faith-based books. Her work has been published nationally in Guideposts, Recover the Self Literary Journal and Jacksonville Magazine. She served as literary judge for Florida Writers Association writing competitions.
Linda Irene graduated Cum Laude from Georgia Southern University, with a BA in liberal arts and social sciences.
She also holds a paralegal degree, former certification as Magisterial District Justice for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served as massage therapist for the Olympic Games.
She enjoys spending time near the water, music, dancing and fine dining.