Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse

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by Marie M. Fortune

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Practical guide addresses issues of faith for battered women—an invaluable resource for victims of domestic violence and the crisis centers that counsel them.


Practical guide addresses issues of faith for battered women—an invaluable resource for victims of domestic violence and the crisis centers that counsel them.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.32(d)

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Chapter One

Questions and Answers

Why Is This Happening to Me?

Your experience of abuse may be very new and unexpected, or you may have lived with it for many years. You may have heard many things from other people about why this is happening, or you may have heard nothing, since people don't often talk about this problem. You probably have questions about why you are being abused.

Maybe all those things he says about me are true. l probably don't deserve any better than 1 get. He's probably right.

Paul challenges us with this question:

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are. (1 COR. 3:16-17)

You are valued in God's eyes; your whole self is regarded by God as a temple, a sacred place. Just as God does not want a temple defiled by violence, neither does God want you to be harmed. God's spirit dwells in you and makes you holy. You do deserve to live without fear and without abuse.

The one who destroys God's temple stands in judgment before God. God is displeased when anyone destroys what God regards as sacred. "That temple you are."

But my life has always been like this, hard from the very beginning. 1 watched my mother get beaten by my father. And my boyfriend has beaten me from the time I began to date him. This must be God's will for me. Shouldn't 1 just accept it and live with it?

No. Just because much of your family experience has included abuse does not mean that God wants thisfor you. Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (JOHN 10:10)

Here Jesus is saying that some people come among us to hurt and destroy others. Unfortunately, much of your life has been lived with such people. But Jesus brought something totally different from that. He came so that we might know fullness of life and feel safe and happy. Jesus refused to accept that the way things were in so many people's lives was the way they had to be. He wanted things to be different. When he promised abundant life, he was referring not to material abundance (cars, houses, boats, money, and so on) but to spiritual abundance. Primary to this spiritual abundance is feeling safe and unafraid in your own home, knowing that you are loved and respected for who you are. This is God's will for you and your children.

I am not a very good Christian. 1 have done some really bad things in my life. Maybe this abuse is God's way of punishing me.

There may be things in your past that you regret having done or that you are not particularly proud of. There may be sins of which you have not repented. You may not go to church regularly or do all the things that you think make a good Christian. But no matter what kinds of things you have done or neglected to do, you do not deserve to be abused, and God does not send this abuse to you as punishment. If there are things that you carry that you want to repent of, then talk to God about those things in prayer. But do not excuse your husband's abusive behavior by deciding that it is God's will for you. The battering is not God's fault; it is the responsibility of your husband. He has chosen .to treat you this way; it is not God's will for you.

The Bible says that the wife must submit to her husband. Does this mean that 1 must submit to his abuse?

Actually, the scriptural passage that refers to the husband-wife relationship begins by saying:

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (EPH. 5:21)

This is the starting point for all our relationships as Christians, inside the family or outside. Here the words "be subject to" also mean "accommodate to" or "give way to." This means that we should all, including husbands and wives, seek to be flexible with each other and give way to each other. In another passage we find further clarification:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (PHIL. 2:4)

So we are all, regardless of our relationship to each other, to be concerned for the other's welfare as well as for our own.

Then scripture proceeds to specific reference to husbands and wives:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (EPH. 5:22-23)

This means that there are times in a Christian marriage when a wife should give way to her husband and recognize his interests as well as her own. But the husband's headship suggested here does not mean a role of unquestioned authority to which you are to be blindly obedient. What is described here is a model based on Christ's relationship to the church: Jesus was the servant of all who followed him, and he gave himself up for them. Never did he order people around, threaten, hit, or frighten them.

Almost all the rest of this passage from Ephesians spells out the instructions to the husband in his treatment of his wife: he is to be to her as Christ was to the church. This means he is to serve her needs and be willing to sacrifice himself for her if need be. This is what Jesus did for the church. He is to love his wife as himself, to nourish and cherish her. Another passage is even more specific:

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (COL. 3:19)

Clearly, the emphasis Scripture places on instructing husbands to care for and respect their wives just as Christ did the church leaves no room for excusing a husband's violent and abusive behavior toward his wife.

Meet the Author

Marie M. Fortune is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and director of the Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Seattle. She is the author of several books, including Is Nothing Sacred?

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Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a God sent book I can relate to to this book keeping God in my life and what he can do to help me. Th scriptures help renew my faith in myself that I can do all things thru christ. It has kept my sanity, my respect, love for man kind