Thursday, November 29, 2012

UnMarried Movie: Is Staying Single Sabotaging Christianity?

WARNING TO SINGLES:  You just might blow a fuse after reading this.  Brace yourselves.

Yesterday I was reading blog and read this comment:

Jenn Grover November 28th, 2012 at 11:06 pm
Persona -- don’t even get me started on that line of thinking about singles. CJ got that straight from Mohler. “There is no biblical category for enduring singleness.” That was the BS phrase Mohler used. I guess we should just throw out the entire passage on singleness that Paulw rote for the convenience of Mohler and Mahaney. My brother confronted CJ (I was with him) about letting Mohler speak on the subject after the 1st Lousiville NA conference. CJ admitted that he thought Mohler went overboard and that he and Josh had tried to get Mohler to tone it down the night before but overall he thought for the good of the group (at the expense of older singles) Mohler’s message should be heard. CJ tried to deflect my brother to Mohler, but my brother told CJ Mohler wasn’t responsible for SGM, CJ was. Mahaney would hear none of it.
Andy Farmer led a community group for the “older singles” after the session and he spent the whole time doing damage control and from what I understood, the damage control continued at the local churches for quite a while after that.
I remember a PDI where singles were exhorted to glorify God as they uniquely could as singles. After CJ became pals with Mohler that message was out the window, marriage and family became idols, and singles became second class citizens in SGM.

Ok, I found this comment disturbing, so I went searching and found the Al Mohler quote.  It comes from his sermon entitled The Mystery of Marriage:

Embedded in this text are precepts and principles meant for us in our own sexually confused day. I want to make a statement which I know you are likely, at least in your spirit, to want to reject. I want to suggest to you that there is no biblical category of enduring singleness as an aspiration. There is no biblical category of enduring singleness, except for the gift of celibacy for God’s glory in gospel service. Now, this is counterintuitive because we live in a day where we cherish our ability to define our own existence and to choose our own lifestyle. We live in a day of confusion in which marriage has been so marginalized that it is now merely one option among others. In society and even in many churches, enduring singleness is seen as one more lifestyle option. And this is especially true of men, particularly the high number who conveniently self-rationalize that sex before marriage is biblically okay, often with the high-sounding cover that, of course, this is true only as long as it’s in the context of a “loving relationship.”
I believe the Scripture does not leave that option open to us, except in that extraordinary circumstance of God giving the gift of celibacy to certain individuals for His glory and for gospel service. Paul was very concerned about this. “I say this,” he says in verse 6, “as a concession, not a command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Celibacy is a gift, and marriage is a gift. You have to know which is yours.

I am addressing this blog post to singes.  

Singles!!!!!     Evidently you are to blame for problems in the church.  Were you aware of that?  (ACK  JA is about to pull her hair out.)    Did you know that you are to blame for the problems in our churches, our education systems, and families?  

I'm seeing a disturbing trend.  As I started reading abuse stories, I was struck at how the church in general is treating singles  - whether single by choice or by divorce or death.  So for years singles have been slipping through the cracks, not having a real place.   Singles don't fit in with families, so where do we put them?  Oh yea, single women should be babysitting for couples with young children.  They have time on their hands because they are single, right?  (Don't get me going.)

It's funny how when surfing the net, all of a sudden a bunch of similar topics come screaming out at me.  I stumbled across a trailer to a new movie:  UnMarried.  I'm trying to find more background about the movie.  The YouTube user is connected with Family Vision Films.   (I'm wondering if there is a connection with Vision Forum.  If someone knows, please let me know.)

Check out this very brief movie trailer.  Listen to the intensity of their words.  Is this a "gospel" message they are trying to tell us?   Do singles have an agenda?

Below is my attempt to transcribe the entire trailer dialogue:

Man #1:  This is the fundamental problem of our social systems.  It is a fundamental problem with our churches a fundamental problem with education systems and it will yield severe, severe, socio-economic problems in years to come. 

Man #2:  We’re losing the vision.  Wer’e losing the very thing - God began a unique work in the midst of this movement and we’re losing it. 

Man #1:  If we don’t address this issue, we’re done.  There is no future for the family.  There’s no future for the church.  There is no future for our Nation.

Please someone help me out.  Isn't Nancy Leigh DeMoss single?  Wasn't Elizabeth Elliot single many years as a missionary after her husband passed away?    Maybe someone has become single as a result of their spouse divorcing them or abuse/infidelity or death.   Are they responsible for that?     Have these ladies caused fundamental problems for our churches and families by their singleness?  For some reason only single women are coming to mind - my brain has frozen.

Really?  Give me a break.

Singles, please pipe in.  Tell me how you are contributing to the troubles in our church.  I dare you.

How does this message promote the gospel?  What redeeming message is it sending singles?  What am I missing?  If I am misunderstanding this message, please let me know.  I can handle it. 

Do these folks have 1 Corinthians 7 in their Bibles?  Oh boy . . . I need to go to choir and unwind my confused brain.  

* * * * * * * Addendum * * * * * 

I did a little more searching today and blogger Karen Campbell at reports that Kevin Swanson is behind this movie.  I'm trying to get more information on that.  But this confirms my suspicions of connections with Vision Forum. 

Kevin Swanson most definitely has an agenda behind this movie and I'll be posting more on that soon.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Courtship Story: Chryssie Rose

Over the past couple months, I've been sharing bits and pieces of the homeschooling movement as it ties in with abuse in churches.  I've connected a number of times with Chryssie Rose who reads here and is also a blogger and asked if she could share her courtship story here and she graciously accepted my request. I encourage you to take some time to read some of Chryssie's articles on her blog, Beautiful Disarray.  She is one of the bloggers who was raised in the homeschooling movement I have been referring to.  We will be seeing a growing number of bloggers lilke Chryssie Rose, you can be sure.  As these young adults are detaching (escaping might be an apt word, too, it certainly was for my daughter) from their childhood families, they are thinking back through their lives and questioning what they went through.  Most young adults go through this process - it is normal.  But what is not normal is the amount of residual scars from this upbringing.  That is why I want to continue to give these young adults a platform on my blog because this lifestyle of excessive parental control continues in many churches right now.  

It is important in this story that you understand Chryssie's family background as it is key to her story.  Chryssie lived in a patriarchal home and was the eldest of 9 children.  Her father moved around quite a bit because of his job, but in each place in which the family lived, they attended churches influenced by the homeschooling movement:  full-quiver, patriarchy, courtship, and modesty and purity teachings.  Chryssie's family eventually ended up at a Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) church in Maryland.  SGM churches have a high concentration of homeschool families, so Chyrssie's family fit comfortably there.  From what I've heard, SGM may not preach full-quiver lifestyle from the pulpit, but Chyrssie's family would surely find other like-minded full-quiver families there.  Courtship, not dating is the expectation at SGM churches.  

Chryssie's Courtship Story

My family had just started going to a new church, and even though I knew a good number of people already, I hadn’t met any guys that I really liked.  A friend of my mom’s jokingly told me that I would find the guy I married at this new church.  I was adamant I wouldn’t. I honestly had had several different crushes, but I had this expectation, as probably most girls in my situation, that a guy would come to my dad and ask to court me. Then my dad would say yes, and we would walk out a relationship like the ones in all of the courtship books - a sweet, pretty, maybe slightly tear-inducing, love story.

It couldn’t have been further from the reality of what my relationship with my husband ended up looking like.

When I met the guy who became my husband, I really didn’t expect anything to come out of it. It was in October, over 4 years ago, and even though I felt like God told me to keep an eye on this guy, he wasn’t really attractive to me.  I couldn’t marry someone I wasn’t attractive too. I hadn’t expected to be in any sort of relationship right out of high school, nor did I expect to be in any sort of relationship any time soon.  My dad used to joke that he wouldn’t let me get married until I was 30. I knew he was joking, but I also knew he meant it too. I wasn’t going to get married unless it was on his time, and his time alone. I really didn’t know what my parents had in mind when it came to relationships for their children. I never had a conversation with my parents about what it would look like for me when I got into a relationship. Being the oldest, my parents had never had to think about that sort of thing, ever.

A mutual friend introduced this guy to me, and I thought this could be a good friend. I’ll call him Daniel.  A few weeks after first meeting, I started getting to know Daniel. He was funny, very quirky, had very different interests than a lot of other guys I knew, and yet, I liked it. I was having to deal with a lot of stress from my family’s situations (you can read more about that on my blog).  It was really good to just have a friend I could talk to and not have to talk about my family’s stuff. He began guessing, though, about different things, and I soon realized that I could trust Daniel, and yeah, I kind of liked him now.

During the first 6 months of our friendship, things escalated quickly. It became clear to me that this guy was worth keeping around, and I definitely liked him. I was about 99.9% positive that he liked me too. Up to this point, we were just friends, and our parents weren’t involved at all. We were graduating from high school, and he had told me several times that he wasn’t going to be in any sort of relationship until he was done with college. That was what his mom wanted him to do, and it seemed like “wisdom” to do so. I didn’t argue with him, but it made it harder when I finally admitted to a close friend that I really, really liked him.

Conflict with Parents

It was about that 6-month mark when his parents realized that we were talking a LOT and becoming very close friends. My mom, I think, was aware of my friendship with him, but I sincerely doubt my dad was aware, especially due to his reaction to the events that transpired next.

Daniel’s parents decided to step in and intervene, and tell him that he needed to cut off all communication with me. He didn’t agree with his parents, but did it anyway. He pulled me aside at church the next day and tearfully told me we couldn’t talk anymore. No emails, texts, chatting, or talking in person and in groups. I was heartbroken, but I knew that this wasn’t the end.

I went home, in tears, and told my mom what happened. She didn’t say anything, but when I told my dad, he gave me an awkward side hug and told me that if my heart was hurting, I did something wrong. I knew right then and there, I wasn’t going to get any support or understanding from my dad in this.  We asked both of our parents multiple times to get everyone together so we could come up with guidelines for a friendship, so we could at least be friends. They refused, but did meet at his parent’s home a few times, but each time, came away from the meeting with a very different view on what was supposed to go on. My dad was determined that we wouldn’t be allowed to talk at all. He even told me that there was no need for us to talk and to stop asking if we could. Throughout the entire separation, our feelings for each grew instead of diminishing. We kept asking for the parents to let us talk and to come up with guidelines for us. And they continued to refuse. I got chewed out by my dad if I was even seen around Daniel at church. I went through those months like a ghost. I felt nothing, and it felt like half of my heart had been torn out of me. Yeah, I know that’s cliche, but I’m serious, I felt nothing.

We finally had had it about 6 months after we had been told to stop talking. I called Daniel up one day and asked him bluntly what he felt for me. He immediately told me that he loved me and was 100% sure he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. That was a breath of fresh air to my ears. We decided that we were going to take things into our own hands because our parents continued to not believe that they needed to do anything and that everything between us was over. We spent about a week coming up with a list of guidelines that we felt our parents would be quite okay with. We even had a couple, who became mentors for us, look it over and help us put it together. We decided that we would then bring it to the parents that coming Sunday, after Daniel officially asked my dad to court me.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mom or dad that mad at me after Daniel left my family’s house that Sunday. Both of my parents were raging mad and wanted to know how I could be so disrespectful and dishonoring of them. I still, to this day, do not understand quite what I did wrong.  Once again, after our parents calm down, there was no agreement made about us getting to talk. We never got to show our parents our relationship guidelines, and we were treated with much condemnation for having “disrespected and dishonored” our parents. My dad felt very disrespected by Daniel and couldn’t believe he had the gall to come and ask my dad to court me.

We seriously thought that our parents at least would be willing to listen to us. I honestly didn’t expect my dad would be so courteous to Daniel’s face, but then stab him in the back when he wasn’t around to defend himself. My dad’s poor opinion of him was shocking to me, and I couldn’t believe that my dad would be so condescending. Over the next few months we suffered through wanting to talk, knowing we really loved each other, and sneaking moments alone at church, or passing each other thumb drives with songs, letters, or just class schedules on them so I knew what he was up to with school.

In total, Daniel asked my dad 4 times to court me. Every time, going above and beyond, to get my dad’s approval, and yet, my dad would twist Daniel’s words, never give him a clear answer to any of Daniel’s questions, and my dad would brush me off anytime I tried to sit down and ask why we couldn’t be in a relationship.  My dad kept telling me that I was making an idol out of this relationship, and I was lusting after Daniel. My mom backed my dad up and neither of my parents seemed to believe that God could speak to me or that I could possibly even love this guy.

A year and a few months after first having met Daniel, we got the pastors involved, and both of us tried to communicate with our pastor the difficulties we were having with our parents not hearing us out. The pastor kept telling us to just keep working on our individual parental relationships and that was all we could do. Being members at a church that strongly supported Joshua Harris’ courtship books, we didn’t have any say in how our relationship was supposed to happen. It was “wisdom” to let our parents rule our lives.

Over the course of that year, we met with pastors, we met with pastors and our parents, individually, and met with each other trying to figure out how to help our parents hear us and listen to our hearts. We spent hours on the phone talking with our mentors.

Year 2

Around the 2nd year of trying to get our relationship off the ground, Daniel decided to take my dad out to a nice restaurant and ask him one last time to court me. One of the recurring concerns my dad had was that we would never be able to get married because we couldn’t support ourselves financially. I actually had a really good job, and Daniel and I had no problem with the fact that I would be providing most of the income. But my dad, even though my mom had paid for him to get through college, didn’t believe that a woman should be the main supporter in the family. I even pointed out that that is exactly what my mom had done, but he told me that I couldn’t take what other people had done and use that as a guideline for myself. So for this last meeting, Daniel and I had come up with a very reasonable budget, and we had had several people look it over for us to make sure we weren’t missing anything substantial. My dad, once again, in a very roundabout way, said no. His reasons were that because Daniel didn’t have a very high paying job, didn’t own a house, wasn’t financially stable, and hadn’t graduated college yet, he would never be allowed to marry me.

See, my dad has this idea that the only kind of man who is going to be allowed to marry any of his daughters, is the kind of man who has everything, and is well into his 30s.   And the fact that this young, college-attending poor guy was willing to bow down to the great and mighty dad was revolting to my dad. How dare he ask when the budget Daniel gave him was so insufficient. I asked my dad why he didn’t believe our budget was good, and the only thing he said was wrong with it was we didn’t have enough money put aside for car repairs. That was it! 

We finally had had it, and in July secretly got engaged. I even got a gorgeous ring and everything. We kept it a secret for about a week, telling only our mentors. We then decided to tell our parents together. Meaning, he told his parents at the same time I told mine so that neither sets of parents would hear it from each other, but directly from us. Oh, and the clincher is, we were going to tell them that we were going to be getting married in 30 days.  We finally told them;  I told my parents at home, Daniel called his parents from work.  My dad said, no, you’re not engaged, and I argued with him for a few minutes before just leaving it. I said we were engaged and that was that. Then got up and walked away. Daniel’s parents blew up at him and he had siblings calling him, sobbing to him over the phone, asking why he could be so disrespectful of his parents. I ended up going to meet him at his work because he started losing it.

By this point, we were sick of trying to hide our feelings and actually started going out on actual dates. The first real date we had was about 2 years after we had first met.  After we announced our engagement to the parents, our pastors contacted us and wanted to meet with us. In that meeting they told us that respecting and honoring our parents looked like us calling off the engagement. We told them that we didn’t have any problem calling off the getting married in 30 days thing, but nope, we were putting our foot down with the engagement, and we were still engaged. The pastors let it go, but the parents didn’t. They kept accusing us of not listening to God because the pastors had told us to break the engagement and we said no. We have no regrets about getting engaged or putting our foot down with letting our parents guilt-trip us into doing what they want. We knew that the instance we gave in, everything we were working hard to stand by would crumble, and we would not be allowed to see each other again. We were dubbed, unofficially, the bad kids in the singles ministry at church, and rarely did anyone want to know what was going on because in their minds, we were disobeying God because we were “disobeying” our parents and not listening to the pastors.

Year 3

Another year went by, and we were still not married, but we were together for everything. Because of my job, I wasn’t home much, and then because of Daniel, I was home even less than I would be if he wasn’t around. My mom kept telling me that dad wasn’t happy that I wasn’t helping her out with my 8 siblings, or helping make dinner or clean the house. I told her there was no way possible that I could do all that. I was gone from 8:30 in the morning till 7 at night, and only got two days free a month. I wanted nothing to do with home life, especially since my dad and I weren’t on speaking terms...again, and mom and I weren’t exactly on the best of terms either.  Another half a year went by and we were yet again trying to pick a third wedding date.  We finally managed to get both sets of parents and sit down all together to talk.  After 3 years of dealing with all of the crap, we finally got to sit down with the parents. But, it was honestly too late for us. We were so done with the way they were dealing with us, we wanted out.  Daniel’s dad tried to encourage my dad to rectify his and my relationship, but I knew my dad had no intention of doing so.

Let me say something about my in-laws. They are great parents, and really, if my dad had been open with them about his issues with internet porn addictions and how he deals with my family, I don’t believe that Daniel’s parents would have been so easily manipulated by my dad. They weren’t really involved in the whole relationship process since it was their son asking me out, not a guy asking one of their daughters out. Also, Daniel did not grow up in a legalistic, patriarchal home. His family is surprisingly normal. By the time this group meeting came about, his parents had been filled in completely of my family’s issues and were suddenly 100% for Daniel and I getting married. They finally understand and realized all of the crap we had had to put up with from my dad.  They were very sorry for the part they had unknowingly played in making things more difficult for us. Those are the kind of parents I really hope and pray Daniel and I can be some day.

Less than a week after this meeting, my dad and I got together for a coffee date. He told me that prior month he had been seriously considering kicking me out. When asked why, he told me that he was very frustrated that I wasn’t helping my mom out around the house. I told him that I couldn’t. I had a job and I had an obligation to that job to be prompt with my hours and those hours didn’t allow for me to be at home. He didn’t seem to hear me. Two weeks later, he told me that I had two weeks to move out.  He was tired of dealing with me, and didn’t have time to deal with me anymore.  He also told me that I was a bad influence on my siblings and he wanted me gone.

The Wedding and Conclusion 

Three months after that, we got married, with my mom’s support and Daniel’s parents support. Oh, and guess what -  the pastors supported us too. We have now been married for a year and a half, and life has been amazing, and we have been doing amazingly well financially even with Daniel still being in school. 

I look back over our story and see so many things we will never do with our children. The first, and biggest thing would be that we will never force them to obey us at all costs. We want to be there for our children and sincerely listen to them when they are trying to work through tough relationships. We also know that no relationship is the same, and it is our goal to treat our children’s relationships as such. We want to get down to our children’s level, and we both know that because of what we’ve been through, that gives us so much more understanding that we can give to our children. The way my dad treated Daniel and me through our whole pre-marriage relationship is something I never want to see repeated. 

I never want to question my child’s faith or that they can hear from God. The fact that my dad tried his ultimate best to make me believe that I was being lustful and idolatrous when I sincerely believed I wasn’t has made a huge impact on my faith. It took a long time for me to get over questioning my salvation because of how my dad treated me. It seemed that everything my dad did and said was for his own glory and his own control over me. I talked with my mom later and asked her if how my dad responded had anything to do with him feeling jilted because I hadn’t asked permission to like this guy. She told me it probably had a lot to do with that. My dad craved control and when I denied him the reigns of my relationship with Daniel, he lost it. To this day, I do not talk with my dad and I don’t anticipate resorting any sort of relationship with him until he changes.

And that, is a summary of my husband’s and my relationship. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you all!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Complementarians Speak out about Violence Against Women

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.  
 Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today, Novermber 25, was the day designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

"Millions of women and girls around the world are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated or even murdered in what constitutes appalling violations of their human rights. [...] We must fundamentally challenge the culture of discrimination that allows violence to continue. On this International Day, I call on all governments to make good on their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world, and I urge all people to support this important goal."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

A number of leaders who promote complementarian teachings spoke out against the violence against women.  I am glad to see church leaders acknowledging the abuse of women and girls, especially among leaders who promote complementarianism from their pulpits or teachings.     If you are unfamiliar with the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and what complementarianism is, as I was a few months ago, here is a statement from their website defining their purpose:

In opposition to the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism, they articulated what is now known as the complementarian position which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function. In the home, men lovingly are to lead their wives and family as women intelligently are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. In the church, while men and women share equally in the blessings of salvation, some governing and teaching roles are restricted to men.

Some of these people are connected with The Gospel Coalition, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,  and seeing them speak out against these abuses gives me hope that they take abuse of women seriously.   A few of the articles even mentioned that sometimes it is necessary to involve civil authority.  This seems to be a contrast to the way in which Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders/pastors handled many of the alleged abuse cases we read about in their recent lawsuit.  This illustrates quite profoundly that C. J. Mahaney and his pastors/leaders did not respond in a way that many of his peers would respond to alleged abuse.  You may recall, in most of the abuse stories we have read about online on survivor blogs, personal stories, and in the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit, civil authorities were not notified.  The crime was labeled as "sin" and dealt with in a so-called "biblical" fashion within the church.  

Reader "An Attorney" offers additional insight for the abused woman:  Help the woman get to a shelter with her children, or provide that shelter.  Help her identify an attorney to deal with the legal issues. Help her get a protective order and access to the home. In many states, an abused woman can get an order granting her a car (of one or two the couple own), the house or apartment, the furnishings other than his clothes, and the bank accounts (short term, but in the long term, 1/2 of the cash and investments).  Help her get and keep custody of the children.

I would like to highlight a few of the articles posted on 11/25.  The first article is by Mary Kassian.  

Here is Mary's bio:
Mary is a distinguished professor of Women’s Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of several books including The Feminist Mistake and In My Father’s House.

And here are key snippets of Mary's article:

Statement on Abuse on the Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Complementarians believe that God created male and female as complementary expressions of His image. We believe that men bear a distinct responsibility to be protectors. When a husband abuses his wife, it’s a heinous betrayal of his responsibility and a grievous sin in the eyes of God.

Statement on Abuse
Adopted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at its meeting in Lisle, Illinois in November, 1994.
  • We understand abuse to mean the cruel use of power or authority to harm another person emotionally, physically, or sexually.
  • We are against all forms of physical, sexual and /or verbal abuse.
  • We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).
  • We believe that abuse is sin. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is the hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purpose of God. Abuse ought not to be tolerated in the Christian community.
  • We believe that the Christian community is responsible for the well-being of its members. It has a responsibility to lovingly confront abusers and to protect the abused.
  • We believe that both abusers and the abused are in need of emotional and spiritual healing.
  • We believe that God extends healing to those who earnestly seek him.
  • We are confident of the power of God’s healing love to restore relationships fractured by abuse, but we realize that repentance, forgiveness, wholeness, and reconciliation is a process. Both abusers and abused are in need of on-going counseling, support and accountability.
  • In instances where abusers are unrepentant and/or unwilling to make significant steps toward change, we believe that the Christian community must respond with firm discipline of the abuser and advocacy, support and protection of the abused.
  • We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian community can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.

Julie Anne's note:  Do you notice something missing in the above?  The above statement which is the most current statement from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) very clearly acknowledges abuse.  That is good.  But they failed to acknowledge that violence against women is a CRIME.  There is also no mention of involving authorities when there is abuse.  That omission is wrong.  

Mary's article continues:

I emailed Wayne Grudem earlier this week to ask what he would like to communicate to complementarian pastors on this Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This is what he said:

I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it. When pastors learn about abuse occurring in a home in their congregation, they have an obligation before God to seek to bring an immediate end to it, through direct personal conversation with the abuser, support of the abused, professional counselling, through means such as church discipline, protective personal intervention in dangerous situations, using law enforcement and other legal pressures, extensive prayer, and, if necessary, legal separation. Pastors also need to encourage their church members and attenders to tell someone in church leadership if abuse is occurring, so that appropriate means can be brought to bring an immediate end to it.  Nobody in a leadership role in CBMW thinks that abuse within a marriage is justified by the biblical teachings about husbands and wives.
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor, Phoenix Seminary, and co-founder and past president of CBMW

I'm very pleased to read Wayne Grudem's response above.  Notice he does discuss using law enforcement and also mentions legal separation.  Finally!  Someone needs to change CBMW's statement on abuse to incorporate utilizing legal separation and notifying law enforcement when suspected illegal activity has taken place. 

Dr. Russell Moore also left a public response on his blog.  He is the Chairman of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  Here is his bio:

Russell D. Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics.

I was very pleased with Russell's strong words against spousal abuse.  He does mention getting the law involved, if necessary.  The whole article is very good, please take the time to read it.  I underlined the references of reporting to legal authorities.  

The Church & Violence Against Women 
Male violence against women is a real problem in our culture, one the church must address. Our responsibility here is not simply at the level of social justice but at the level of ecclesical justice as well.
“A man who hits you has surrendered his headship, and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this church in enacting church discipline.”

"In the public arena, Christians as citizens should be the most insistent on legal protections for women. We should oppose a therapeutic redefinition of wife abuse as merely a psychological condition. And we should call on the powers-that-be to prosecute abusers of women and children in ways that will deter others and make clear society’s repugnance at such abuse. "

"Whatever our views on specific economic policies, we must recognize that much economic hardship of women in our age is the result of men who abandon their commitments. We should eschew obnoxious “welfare queen” rhetoric and work with others of goodwill to seek economic and social measures to provide a safety net for single mothers and abused women in jeopardy. We should join with others, including secular feminists, in seeking legal protections against such manifestations of a rape culture as sexual harassment, prostitution, and sex slavery."

Owen Strachan is one more public leader who responded to the occasion.  Owen is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky and also teaches at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Additionally, he is a writer for the Gospel Coalition.

In Owen Strachan's article, he very succinctly identifies himself as a complementarian, describing what he perceives as his role as husband and how he would handle a situation of spousal abuse.  He writes a hypothetical letter to Bob, an abusive husband.  I will highlight a few paragraphs, but please read the article.  You can see that he, even as a complementarian, has very high regard for the protection and care of wives.  I enjoyed his Dear Bob letter very much.  

Dear Bob:

It has come to my attention that you are abusing your wife verbally and physically.  Knowing this, I am trying not to tremble as I write.  There is nothing worse than the strong mistreating the weak.

Please know this: your abuse of your wife in the name of Christian leadership is a direct repudiation of true manhood.  You think that the expulsive exercise of your strength is warranted by Scripture.  You think that it shows that you are a man.  Actually, it shows your depravity.

Owen then discusses the complementarian view using scripture in Ephesians to support his views.   We then read his views of Bob's behaviors in light of his interpretation of scripture.  These are strong words showing he understands abuse as abuse, not as accepted behavior for a "man of God".

Your present pattern, Bob, looks like Satanic headship.  You are attacking and tearing down.  The biblical pattern is Christic headship, sacrificial, others-centered, offered in order that others might flourish and thrive.  If you do not cease your ways, the elders of your church will “deliver [you] to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:6).  If you are bent on destroying your loved ones, you will face the prospect of a life outside the church, which places the soul in danger of eternal destruction if gospel repentance does not happen. 

And like Wayne Grudem, and Russell Moore, Alex also mentions bringing civil authorities into the picture in this paragraph (my underlines):

Repent of your sin.  It is a stench in God’s nostrils.  Were it not for your worth as an image-bearer, I would find it difficult not to threaten harm to you myself, and to bring many men with me.  As things stand, if you continue your pattern of abuse, I will indeed bring men with me, and we will rescue your wife and family, and we will not allow you to harm them.  We will bring the full force of the law crashing down upon you.  We are men of God; we are not weak; we are leaders and protectors of wives and children.  The Lord has saved us from our own wickedness and transformed us to be good to those he has given us.  As men of God, we are not scared of you.  We will surely stand up to you.  We urge you to stop your abuse, repent of your sin, and leave the pattern of destruction you have begun.

Can you imagine if this would have been the action taken in response to alleged abuse stories we have heard from Sovereign Grace Ministires?  Whoa Nellie!

And lastly, on the Gospel Coalition website, there is an article by Matt Smethurst entitled, Don't Mess With Her, Man.  This article acknowledges the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and discusses male authoritarianism listing many Bible verses on "the sort of men who would ever dare harm their brides."   The verses are good, but again, I found the article lacking on what to do if there is abuse taking place.  There was no mention of contacting civil authorities if crimes were committed.  The verses discussed how women should be treated and behavior that God does not like.  They are missing the boat when they fail to address practical applications such as reporting to authorities.  I left a comment on the website and we'll see if they allow it to remain.  It wouldn't be the first time I've had a comment removed from The Gospel Coalition website (hmm, wonder why?).

These public posts encourage me to some extent because they are identifying real abuse issues, instead of ignoring them.  Yet I remain puzzled.  And I think a lot of that puzzlement is due to what I see behind the scenes.  It makes me curious to know if these leaders are just using the right words on this special day to highlight abuse or if they will really put their money where their mouth is and bring harsh action upon abusers? 

And then my mind drifts to stories we've read of church leaders who have covered up alleged abuse (such as Sovereign Grace Ministries, Calvary Chapel, etc).  What if your close friend was a leader of a church who covered up abuse and failed to report alleged abuse to authorities?   How would you handle that situation?  Do you have an obligation to say something - - - even if your friend's church was out of your "jurisdiction"?      I think you do.  If you don't say anything, how many more victims will there be?  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Addendum:  Pastor Jeff Crippen's blog post today caught something that I missed in Wayne Grudem's comment above.  Here are a couple key thoughts:

Notice once again the glaring absence of any affirmation that divorce is a biblical means of dealing with abuse.  Abuse victims/survivors will quickly understand that this statement dooms victims to a lifetime of working to “restore relationships”, to “involvement in a process of reconciliation,” of “ongoing counsel and support,” but divorce?  Forget it.  Remarriage?  Forget it.  Abusers love this sort of talk.  If the victim will just believe God and trust Him and keep doing all she can, God can bring her abuser to repentance and they can live happily ever after.  That is a fairy tale.  [Also notice that they tell the victims that they need counseling too.  For what?  PTSD?  That would be fine.  But I suspect this "counseling" is going to me more of the ilk of "you aren't perfect either, you know."]
As long as any theologian, author, or organization refuses to tell victims that they can divorce their abuser because the abuser has already treacherously divorced them by ongoing, hard-hearted violation of the marriage covenant, then my ears are deaf to everything else they have to say.  That is too bad, because I do think that Grudem and CBMW have done some good and have published some excellent books.  I just cannot hear them though as long as they continue to sentence abuse victims to ongoing bondage.  [I refuse to use the ESV Study Bible for this reason.  Grudem's notes in the back forbid divorce for abuse].

Reader "Sad" notified me in the comments of another article from Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks:  Violence against Women and Church Discipline:

As in other cases of clear and unrepentant sin, abuse can and often should be grounds for excommunication from the church. Rather than simply explain this, I thought it might be helpful to offer a sample of the kind of church discipline letter our church will send. (This particular letter does not refer to an actual situation.) No doubt, a letter like the following presumes that the elders have already been working with the individual, and for one reason or another they determine that the man's profession of faith is no longer credible by virtue of his actions.

Following up on Jeff Crippen's thoughts above, I wonder if Jonathan Leeman's church (or any of the other blog authors for that matter) would consider "divorce" as an option?  If the husband fails to repent and change his ways, is the wife to remain legally separated for the rest of her days?  

photo credit: devastar via photopin cc