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"Say NO MORE to Domestic Violence," Female Pastor

"Say NO MORE to Domestic Violence," Female Pastor

Picture appealing against domestic violence Picture appealing against domestic violence
ByCCD contributor: Yang Ning May 20, 2017
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Editor's note:

The author is a female pastor who serves in Liao Ning Province. In her ministry, she's close to a great number of fellow sisters who unfortunately have gone through various forms of domestic violence. Some of their cases of domestic violence could stretch across 10 years or longer. Till date, this pastor is still single, but she also had experience of verbal violence from her mom since she was young. As such, both her encounter in the ministry and her personal experience in childhood have led her to believe that Christians should stand up to say "No" in face of any forms of verbal or physical violence at home.

There are several cases whereby Christians could possibility choose to divorce their partners as mentioned during my sermons:

1. The partner repeatedly falls into adultery despite numerous chances given. As such, that partner can be proven as deliberately breaking the holy covenant with the other party, thus making little sense for his/her partner to stay on marriage. This position can be found in Matthew 5:32, " But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

2. If the couple has conflicting faiths, Paul permits one to let go of his/her non-believing partner. As seen in 1 Corinthian 7:15, "But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. "

3. If domestic violence does not cease no matter what, surely the victim could choose to divorce his/her partner. In Malachi 2:16, it states that "The man who hates and divorces his wife,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, "does violence to the one he should protect,' says the Lord Almighty."

Despite clear positions addressed in the bible, many church leaders still forbid believers from divorcing their partners despite their ceaseless sufferings of domestic violence. They believe that Christians should never end up in divorce but ought to persevere in their sufferings violence as part of their personal growth.

How do you find such a position? Let me share with you a few stories first.

1. A few days ago, a sister from Shanghai told me a shocking story. Her friend recently re-married a man, who abused her terribly at home. Upon sharing her struggles with her church leaders, she was only told to persevere in sufferings as her leaders strictly forbid her from divorce. Eventually, this sister had committed suicide out of her utter desperation and helplessness.

2. This story was shared by my friend from her own experience. In her unhappy marriage, her husband had been abusing her ceaselessly and brutally at home. Her church strictly forbid her from divorce no matter how serious her injury became until one day, when husband had caused one of her eyes completely blind. Finally, her church became alerted by her sufferings so allowed her to divorce her husband. However, no legal consequences were posed on her husband at all for such a domestic crime. Reasons for dismissal of crimes were simply attributed to how Christians should always forgive, as advocated by the church.

3. I also knew a church leader, who had divorced and re-married 3 times due to his history of abusing domestic violence.  With his first wife, he kicked down her down the staircase from the 6th floor all the way to the ground floor. As shared by his third wife, he often threw domestic violence at her until bruises were all over her face. For this case, I believe that such habitual sins of domestic violence had taken root in this man's nature.

4. Another sister, who's highly educated with a Master's Degree and international working background as a scholar, was not spared from a long period of domestic violence as well. She called me for help after listening to one of my sermons about domestic violence. From her sharing, I realized that she's been holding onto her struggles all by herself. She was so fearful of sharing her situations with others that she often hid in the gym's bathroom to cry. In church, she was told that any case of divorce means adultery. Thus, she became fearful of offending God though she desperately needed to divorce.

I told her that she must divorce given her husband's uncontrollable habits of throwing violence at her. She then agreed. Two years after her divorce, I could sense much more happiness and confidence from her face. However, this sister shared with me that the painful memories of past trauma had not faded away. Domestic violence has left a lasting scar on her souls no matter how fast she had recovered till now.

As such, we could see that some churches have been ignoring victims' pain by falsely attributing any form of divorce to a shameful act of adultery. Matthew 23:4 " They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them" have been used as their justification for their position. As shared by a sister from Xin Jiang Province, her church even blacklisted her after she divorced her husband as she was almost abused to death. Instead of providing any practical help to her before, the church even threatened her with the verse in "Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" after she was kicked out of the church.

Upon being forced out of the church, she wandered aimlessly in faith as she felt that no church would accept her anymore. Until she came across my online sermons, her hope was ignited again as she called me with much expectancy and joy. Finally, she was affirmed that God has never abandoned her in her decision of divorce.

When a woman who has committed adultery was about to be stoned to death by Pharisees, Jesus says to her, "I will not condemn you for your sins. Just don't do it again." If Jesus has forgiven such a woman despite her acts of adultery, will he abandon a sister who suffers from prolonged domestic violence? In fact, he abhors those who threw violence against their wives, not the victims of such horrible acts.

Micah 6:8 states, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Our God indeed upholds justice. As such, are church leaders acting in accordance to God's teaching when they impose the blame to sisters instead of their husbands who are at fault? In fact, such wrong understanding of God's will has resulted in blames that cause inerasable scars in many sisters' hearts.

By our nation's laws, the act of domestic violence should not be tolerated. Thus, shouldn't Christians abide ourselves by the same legal standard?

Hence, I would like to urge all fellow sisters to stand up for yourselves if you are victims of domestic violence. Be aware and free yourselves from wrongful teachings. You should not be wrongly condemned for sins that your husbands have committed on you. God is our ultimate judge.

- Translated by Maggie Li

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