Interesting day. My fingers were tripping over the keyboard as my mind was trekking in another direction altogether for today’s post. But the book I’m reading, and a startling newspaper article about someone I know, made this topic essential for the day.
Today I was reading the early pages of the superb book, Violence in Families: What Every Christian Needs to Know, by Reverend Al Miles. Wow. I am up to page 30, and have inserted 11 flags to come back to later because the information is so good, clear, powerful. One prominent concept is the way people turn their thoughts to characteristics or actions of the victim, rather than those of the abuser. Reverend Miles describes how groups instructed to focus on their feelings about the murder of a lovely, young, Christian lady, often respond by 1) denying that this could be true because she was young, Christian, from a small town, and not likely to put herself in a dangerous position, or 2) that she must have done something to make her partially to blame for her murder.
Then, just hours later, I became aware of an article by Eric Betz in the Flagstaff Daily Sun (Flagstaff, AZ). A drunk Dept. of Public Safety officer (not local Police) was convicted of groping a young woman at a bar (by putting his hand up her skirt and brushing his fingers across her genitals). In her statements after pronouncing sentence, Judge Jacqueline Hatch essentially laid responsibility on the victim.
Quoting the article: “Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was. “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said. Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty. “I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.” Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims. “When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.
You’ve got to read this article and the responses. I mean, really, you need to read this. If you are a friend, or a pastor, of a HUMAN BEING, you need to gain perspective about the progress of thought regarding “being a victim.” I’m kind of proud of comments by most of the respondents to the article. Most of them get it. A few don’t. The judge, in her position of authority, definitely doesn’t.
What does this have to do with Psychological Abuse and Christianity? Everything. In the next several posts I will explain why.
In the next post I will talk about my experiences with the Church “law” or “authority” – pastors that I went to for help and intervention: Six pastors, in four states, over a 20-year period. One of them was genuinely helpful. None were as backward as Judge Hatch. Frustrating and sad, yet I appreciate the efforts of each.
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (NIV) If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
Think about how you would respond if someone in your church or neighborhood was groped. How about if she claimed her husband was mean, critical, scary, weird – and she needed help or advice. What verses would come to mind to quote to her? What approach would you take to address her problem? What would be your feeling about hearing her story in greater detail?
We’ll talk about it.