Enough Is Enough...The Issue Of Domestic Abuse In The Local Church
This month, the New Covenant Center for Gospel Care wishes to introduce a difficult, complex topic which we hope will help our church congregation to increase their understanding and awareness of. The issue of Domestic Abuse in the Local Church is one we certainly wish we would not have to truthfully confront and lovingly expose. However, both our New Covenant leadership team and Gospel Care counseling staff are committed to growing and partnering together in our understanding of this complex spiritual counseling issue. Truly, our gospel inspired hope is we will actively seek to wisely counsel and biblically address those situations that may arise within our New Covenant church community.
As part of these Domestic Abuse awareness efforts, we would like to recommend a helpful article by Gary Thomas that David Sommer, one of our staff counselors, recently provided our elder team. Before you link to this article at http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/ we would like to share some additional information that we have researched:
- Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF) counseling methodology helpfully describes abusive relationships as “oppressive” in nature. There is both an oppressor and one who is oppressed by that oppressor.
- This designation helps us label abuse as a biblical category that we are aware of and informed about in scripture. This biblical category is also helpful as it identifies how God feels about abuse (oppression) and how he is the protector of those abused (oppressed). It also gives greater force to church leaders to align themselves on the side of/become instruments of a God who comes to the aid of those who are oppressed.
- Most current abuse research, both secular and biblical, no longer define domestic abuse in the narrow terms of physical abuse but have broadened the abusive definition to include mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual, social, and financial abuse.
- One of the reasons for this broadening shift is research of abuse victims has demonstrated that a mixture of these forms of abusive behavior can be just as devastating in terms of long term consequence as physical. This effect can be even more magnified if children are involved in an abusive household.
1. The Abuser
- Latest research regarding domestic abusers is important to understand. Although women can be abusers in a domestic relationship, the vast majority are men.
- It is important to understand that abusers are controlled by a personal value mindset that seeks to control others to do their selfish bidding.
- This personal value mindset is usually reinforced by an individual with a weak conscience, or in some instances, no conscience. They feel entitled to be served and take personal pleasure in their power over others this affords them. They have low levels of personal empathy to those they abuse. As a result, they rarely understand how this mindset negatively affects others in their family.
- They typically feel justified in doing whatever it takes to remain in control of their partner. This is accomplished by objectifying their spouse so as to strengthen their position while weakening their spouse into submission.
- An abuser is difficult to detect because they appear to be a model community and church citizen. They are manipulatively charming to others. They are quite clever in the area of control. They attempt to turn the tables so the victim appears to be the one who has the problem not them. They hope for pity and practice self pity.
- An abuser is also skillful in deceiving church leadership. They can feign repentance when many times they are not really a believer but merely a professor of salvation. They strive to maintain a good image in a church community. One of their worst fears is to have their double life exposed.
2. The Abused
- Effects of abuse, especially long-term abuse is devastating. Some effects on this victim and children include anxiety and fear, disorientation and confusion, false guilt and toxic shame, loss of a sense of identity, alienation from others, physical injury, and a disoriented, distorted view of God.
- A great amount of wise understanding, patience, and care is required at a number of levels within the local church body towards a victim of abuse and family members depending on the nature and duration of abuse.
Thank you for investing time to become better acquainted with this topic. We hope you have found these points enlightening and helpful as you minister to others in the name of Christ. Please contact our Center for Gospel Care if you have any additional questions, concerns, or if we can be of assistance in any area of biblical counseling concern.