Pride & KindFebruary 21, 2020
Imposter or influencer?March 25, 2020
The story of Job is one of the literary classics in the Bible. It is a story that tries to sort out why bad things happen to good people. It is a story that tries to make sense out of suffering. It is a story that concludes with an epic confrontation between Job and God. And it is a story that captures the isolation, the misunderstanding, and the feelings of abandonment.
Job’s friends and his wife are convinced that it is Job’s sin that has led to his misfortunes. That has a familiar ring to people trapped in violent and abusive relationships. “Why did you make him mad?” friends ask. “Why don’t you just leave?”
And inside the relationship, the abuser often threatens even greater harm if the victim tells anyone about what is happening. And if the victim decides to leave, the risk of violence increases, often with lethal consequences.
As Job said of God, “If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him…If only I could vanish in darkness and thick darkness would cover my face!” (Job 23:8-9, 17)
Being a women and a survivor of domestic violence- women often feel isolated, abandoned by family and friends who are uncomfortable or afraid of the topic, trapped by religious traditions that stress male dominance and the indissolubility of marriage and feel forgotten by God. Job knew that feeling.
I have spent quite a bit of in my past dealing with issues of domestic violence, particularly with the role of serving as a care partner in my church offering Christ like Care and being an advocate through friends and family on the topic. Over the last 10 years here in St. Augustine, I have lost 2 friends due to domestic violence. They were very tragic losses in the community.
It seems to me that we in church communities have a special role in addressing domestic violence.
In far too many churches, abusers justify their violence by saying that wives were supposed to submit to their husbands. They apparently missed the next verse in the letter to the Colossians that says, “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly” (3:19).
The value that churches place on the sanctity of marriage can blind people to the undermining of marriage by violence. It is clinically documented that women who are religious have a higher chance of staying in a domestic violence relationship than a secular woman. Women are more afraid to reach out more than often.
Let’s go back to Job for a minute. His life had taken a very bad turn. He tried to maintain his faith in God, but it got harder and harder. Finally, he launches a powerful rant to God. He does not suffer in silence. He demands answers.
Elie Wiesel, a Jewish writer who survived the Holocaust and knew at the core of his being what it is to suffer, wrote in his book Reflection of Job: “Once upon a time in a far-away land, there lived a legendary man, a just and generous man who, in his solitude and despair, found the courage to stand up to God. And to force Him to look at His creation.”
People who feel abandoned by God, whether because of domestic violence or any other abuse should never feel alone. Never loose your faith in God. It is never your fault. Its about power and control.
Power is absolutely central when thinking about issues of domestic violence. People who abuse and batter their partners are not simply losing their tempers. They are not simply having a bad day. They are seeking to exercise power and control over someone with whom they should be having a loving relationship.
Remember those famous words from the apostle Paul? “Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Any one of us who have been in long-term loving relationships know that there are days we are better at living that way than others. But people who physically and emotionally abuse their partners are not just having a bad day. They are using whatever tactics or weapons they have available—coercion and threats, intimidation or isolation, economic abuse or using children—to exercise power and control over their partner.
None of these show up in Paul’s list of what it means to love. None of these can be condoned by a faith community that claims to follow Jesus. None of these can be condoned by the wider society that seeks equity and justice.
You are Loved……..you are good enough……it is never too late.
If you are in immediate danger call 911
Contact the Florida Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline
For Free legal advice on Domestic Violence Contact FCADV ( Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence) www.fcadv.org