Dear Church, when you say

Dear Church,

When you say __________, a target of abuse hears ______________ and an abuser hears __________.

Below are eleven common sayings or teachings of the church. The next thoughts are what a target might hear. The last thoughts after each number is what an abuser often thinks about the saying or teaching.

1. Sin is sin.

When I get angry at my husband because of the way he treats me, or when I don’t want to submit to him, my sin is just as bad as his sin.

I can do anything to my wife because she is so sinful. She won’t obey me and respect me. I have the right to force her to do my will.

2. You must forgive as Christ forgave you.

I have to forgive my husband when he repeatedly, intentionally hurts me. I must forget what he has done to me and act like it never happened.

I can treat my wife any way I feel like treating her. She must allow me to do so and not hold it against me. I can say, “Sorry,” and I don’t have to mean it.

3. Anger is a sin.

When I feel anger because my husband hurts me, I am sinning and need to get rid of the anger.

My anger is justified because my wife will not obey and respect me. She has no right to be angry with me.

4. God can change anyone.

If I am patient and try harder to be a better wife, God will change my husband.

My wife won’t leave me because she thinks I will change. I don’t need to change. She’s the one with the problem.

5. Where am I sinning?

I must focus on my own sin and not try to identify if my husband’s hurtful behavior is sin.

My wife’s sin is the problem. I am not the problem.

6. Everything happens for a reason.

What is God’s reason that my husband hurts me?

I would treat my wife better if she would just listen to me and do what I say. It’s all her fault.

7. God is in control.

Why won’t God help me? Why won’t he make this situation change?

Since my wife thinks God is in control, I can do whatever I want to control her.

8. Men are God-ordained leaders; women are to follow them.

God wants me to do what my husband says, but it hurts me.

She has to do what I say and the church will back me up.

9. Don’t judge.

I have no right to question what my husband does to me or say that it is wrong, no matter how it makes me feel.

No one has any right to tell me what I’m doing is wrong.

10. You don’t deserve anything but hell.

I don’t deserve to be treated well. I am blessed to be going to heaven and should expect no more than that.

My wife deserves the way I treat her. She’s a terrible sinner. She’s lucky I don’t treat her worse so she stops sinning.

11. Be thankful in all circumstances.

I should be grateful for all I have and not be negative.

She’s lucky to have me.

Dear Church, are these thoughts really what we want people to hear and believe? Do you realize how much of what we say and teach contributes to domestic abuse? We must do better!

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