Friday, May 20, 2005

Midnight Musings.

Rob from unspace writes in my comments (first quoting me)
"I was privy to a conversation a while back where an abused woman had been told by her pastor "well, you just need to submit to your husband..." !!!! What!!!!"

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Aaaaaarrrgh! How can any person say that?

I would love to take that person to the morgue for an autopsy on an abused spouse. I'd love to have that person in the back of an ambulance to watch as medics attempt to salvage an abused person's life.

What would this person say to an abused 2 year old? "You have to submit to your parents?"

Why would they say that?

The conversation happened at a homeless shelter -- the woman eventually scraped up enough courage to leave, but not without encountering some really bad moments.

It's considered "biblical" to teach this. It's proof-texting at its worse. Things like "Blessed are the peacemakers and those who suffer for righteousness sake"; "it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body goes to hell"; "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you"; and "do not resist evil" from the sermon on the Mount read with the Pauline epistles -- the last part of Ephesians, the household codes, for instance Col 3:18 "wives, submit yourself to your husband" or Eph 5:22 which says the same.

By doing this, if the woman is beaten, she can take comfort that she is "suffering for Christ." She usually will blame herself for her own abuse. She may feel guilty about even thinking that her abuse is bad. She will feel that if she leaves her husband, she is not being a good wife and has violated her marriage vows -- "for better or for worse." She may leave Christianity, rejecting the Church and its teachings.

This type of reading of the scripture is given more often that we might consider. It also neglects the verse Col 3:19 where the mutuality of the relationship is given stress.

Another thing to consider: abuse takes on many faces. Physical and sexual abuse is very visable in our society, but other types of abuse exist. Some suggest that the self-abuse of women trying to obtain the "perfect" body and the dysfunctional body image that results is a product of an abuse -- we see a transformation from "I-thou" relationships into "I-it" relationships. A woman's posture and body language is restricted. Girls are not allowed to place their bodies in natural postures - "ladies don't sit on the floor" "Ladies don't hold their books that way" -- this a sort of abuse. The way our society demands that "girls don't fight" cause the "mean girl" problem. (I think that boys in those middle school years can take our their aggressions in a physical manner, but girls are not allowed to fight. Hence they use what tools are left -- usually their tongue and their placement in their small groups.) The way society requires woman to adorn their body to be considered beautiful. All this is done, they say, voluntarily. Yes, but we do it at what cost?

Likewise, men are forced into roles by society -- forced to play the games, to act in certain manners, to even think in certain ways in order to "get ahead." They play the rules set up by the good ole boy network in order to gain status and position. Yet a man will have certain freedoms that a woman will not have. And we ask ourselves, are these strictures placed on women intrinsic or imposed? If a woman does not conform to the societal norms of beauty, posture and attitude, affirmation is withdrawn from her -- perhaps even love from her fellows (including women). She becomes a social outcast.

A quote (I don't remember the entire citing -- I am bad a keeping citations) from Susan Hagood Lee, ‘Witness to Christ, Witness to Pain: One Woman’s Journey through Wife Battering’, from the book Sermons Seldom Heard.

From my earliest years, I was a faithful churchgoer, enjoying the religious ambience, awed by the loving and all-powerful God that I believed watched over me. Then I married a man who, once the wedding ring was safely on my finger, began to abuse me. The crisis was both personal and religious. Where was God, when one month after our wedding, my husband first blackened my eyes, . . . when he punched me in the stomach when I was pregnant, . . . when he broke my nose because I wanted to see my family? And what did God expect of me, a wife, who had vowed at the altar to love and cherish my husband through good times and bad?

My course of action seemed clear. God’s will, as the Bible instructed, was that I stay with my husband, forgiving him, when he hurt me, countering his evil behaviour with my love, cooperating with God’s plan of salvation for him. (pages 11 - 15)

Another good article is from Susan Thistlethwaite called "Every Two Minutes." And Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza wrote a few articles.

Well, that was long.

There are other like musings today on the web:
rhymes with kerouac had an interesting posting about two women looking for shelter -- I wondered what they had been through.
Fish has had violence hitting too close to home today.
From the Morning has posted recently (but must have been a while ago) about the abuse problem from a Christian man's perspective.
And Anj's posting really resonated.

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