Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spiritual Abuse-Lecture One

Course: Spiritual Abuse: An Introduction

Presenter: Jeff VanVonderen

Lecture 1 of 3: Healthy and Abusive Spiritual Dynamics

These presentations are part of a 10-part course entitled "Breaking the Silence on Spiritual Abuse". The series includes presentations by Dave Johnson and Lynn Heitritter.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Defining Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual Abuse
What is it and how to recognize and escape it

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Out and Getting On

If you've been victimized by an abusive pastor or church, I think you'll find this article very helpful.

When I left the abusive apostate church I was in, I was literally crushed in my spirit. I felt I had been betrayed by people I thought I could trust. No, let me rephrase that. I had been betrayed.

I was confused and hurting. At that time there was no one I could turn to that would understand. After all, all my friends were in "church", and wasn't "church" where you were supposed to meet God, and wasn't it ordained that one should not forsake the assembling together with the brethren?

I thought to myself, what brethren? They were all locked into the system, and the system I thought I could trust, the one I'd believed in was a sham, corrupt.

God had been good to me since my conversion, or I should say since my baptism in the Spirit. I had grown in the Word, and the LORD had blessed me in so many ways.

It took a lot of disappointments and more growth in the Word before I began to get my eyes opened to the things in the several churches I've been devoted to, that just plain were not of God.

It took months to even begin to recover physically and emotionally from the trauma I'd suffered from the years in church. But spiritually, I was devastated.

I've learned later that many people who leave an abusive church walk away from God altogether and just try to get on with their lives as best they can. But for me, I had some serious issues that I needed to work out spiritually and wasn't satisfied with walking away from God, because I knew he was real, and my experience was real, and like Peter, I felt, "Where would I go LORD? Only you have the words of truth".

About that time I had been wishing I had a computer. Then, by the grace of God I received one as a gift. It was then I began searching for what others had experienced and found that the doctrines I'd been taught in the churches I'd attended were wrong....what the LORD had been telling me in my spirit all along.

I also found others like myself who were leaving the apostate organized churches for the same reasons. They weren't "backslidders". In fact, they were people who were devoted to God and completely serious in their walk. But they had also eventually seen the abuses and wrong doctrines, and controlling natures of the bird cages they'd been in bondage to.

After you come out of an abusive church or spiritual situation, expect to have some emotional healing to go through. It's not pleasant to be sure, but it's normal. You may look at it as a blessing in disguise because once you're out, you're no longer being under the control and expectations of others to conform to their ways and doctrines.

In a way, it was the biggest weight off my shoulders I've ever felt, even if at the time it felt beyond strange, with Satan laying a guilt trip on me that it was somehow my fault. No, it was not and I've come to accept that. For where the Spirit is there is liberty.

To read the article, Getting Out and Getting On, just click in the title.
And God bless you as you continue your spiritual journey of healing and on to maturity in Christ.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shunning-Hall of Shame

"When Jehovah’s Witnesses excommunicate, or ”disfellowship,” a member, even the closest human ties can be severed without question.

ST. PETERSBURG — As far as her children and 6-million people around the world are concerned, Shirley Jackson is as good as dead, has been for seven years.

In 1995, Jackson, a home health care worker and a nanny who lives in St. Petersburg, was “disfellowshipped,” or excommunicated, from Jehovah’s Witnesses. Disfellowshipping is among the Witnesses’ highest forms of discipline, reserved for those who disobey religious teachings and will not repent.

Witnesses are told to immediately shun the disfellowshipped, who are said to be certain to die at Armageddon. Witnesses must pass them on the street without so much as a hello. Sons, daughters, mothers and fathers are expected to cut off relatives, making exceptions only in cases of family business or emergency.

“No matter what they tell you, you will always be my daughter and I will always love you,” Jackson recently wrote in a letter to her daughter, to no avail. Rather than strengthen families, Jackson says, the Witnesses tear them apart.

Disfellowshipping is little known to outsiders, who recognize Witnesses only as the people who pass out magazines on Saturday mornings. But scandal in the denomination has opened a door to its core beliefs and operations.

In recent months, at least three Witnesses were disfellowshipped after talking to Dateline NBC about church leaders’ handling of child molestation allegations. The action made national headlines and spurred former Witnesses worldwide to step forward with their stories.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe disfellowshipping is an act of love, intended to inspire sinners to change their ways so they eventually can apply to be readmitted to the faith.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Theologically, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult of Christianity. The oppressive organization does not represent historical, Biblical Christianity in any way. Sociologically, it is a destructive cult whose false teachings frequently result in spiritual and psychological abuse, as well as needless deaths.

Research resources on Jehovah’s Witnesses
The sanction is based on I Corinthians 5, which directs Witnesses to “remove the wicked from among yourselves” and is necessary, said Witnesses national spokesman J.R. Brown, to preserve the religion’s “moral integrity and cleanliness” in a corrupt world soon to be destroyed by God Jehovah.

* * *

Jehovah’s Witness elders — all are men — are the equivalent of ministers in other religions. Though unpaid, they take on responsibilities such as teaching Bible lessons and passing on denomination policy. They also investigate Witnesses accused of committing crimes against other Witnesses. In some of these cases, the police are never called.

Among the elders’ primary tasks is serving on small judicial committees that hear confessions and decide whether an offense is worthy of excommunication.

Excommunications are announced to the congregation, but elders never say why a person was expelled. Witnesses can only guess from a long list of offenses that range from smoking cigarettes to manslaughter. Homosexuality, fornication, drunkenness, slander, fraud, gambling, apostasy, fits of anger and violence, and adultery are others.

The excommunication announcement tells members to begin shunning that person. If they don’t, they, too, risk being disfellowshipped. Fear of being disfellowshipped is gripping for many Witnesses. Because they believe that only Witnesses will be saved from death, many don’t associate with non-Witnesses.

Being disfellowshipped, then, means losing your circle of friends, not to mention family members who remain in the faith.

Elders disfellowship 50,000 to 60,000 Witnesses around the world each year, Brown said.

“It’s not an unusual occurence, as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

* * *

Jackson, 54, had been a Witness for nearly 20 years when she began having doubts.

In 1993, she said, her husband gathered his belongings in the middle of the night and abandoned her as she and her children slept. She said he had been violent, and she decided to divorce him. But Witnesses told her the only biblical justification for divorce is adultery, which she could not prove he had committed.

Jackson was also on shaky ground with the Witnesses because she had close friends who were not in the faith, she said. In interviews, Jackson and several others said Witnesses are not allowed to socialize with non-Witnesses unless they are proselytizing.

Brown, the Witnesses’ spokesman, said this is not true, although differing interests sometimes make such relationships difficult.

After her husband left her, Jackson continued going to the Kingdom Hall five times a week and performing 10 hours of door-to-door service each month, but she didn’t feel very spiritual. One day while going door to door, Jackson mentioned to another Witness, “When I go into a Kingdom Hall, I don’t feel God’s presence is there.”

She became even more disillusioned in the mid 1990s when, she said, elders dismissed her suspicions that a fellow Witness was sexually abusing his 8-year-old daughter. No one called the police.

But law enforcement authorities eventually got involved, and the girl was found in a trashed home, having eaten ketchup sandwiches to quell hunger, Jackson said. Some months later, Kenneth Donald Weaver was arrested and placed on community control in 1995 for sexual activity with a child. Weaver, who has a lengthy criminal history, is now in prison.

Wavering in her beliefs, Jackson decided not to attend an annual assembly for Witnesses.

Her daughter was upset and told elders. They went to her home for a visit. They had charges against her, Jackson said:

One charge was “speaking out against a brother” with regard to the child molestation, she said. She said they told her to stop cavorting with her non-Witness friends. And someone had told them what she had said about not feeling God’s presence in the Kingdom Hall.

The elders told her she had 24 hours to change her ways, Jackson said. She refused to comply and was disfellowshipped, her name announced in front of the congregation. She was not present.

Her daughter was 17 at the time. She moved out to live with other Witnesses, has not held a conversation with Jackson since and is now married and living in Alabama.

Two of Jackson’s three sons are also Witnesses and don’t speak to her, she said.

* * *

As with the Catholic Church, child molestation cases have brought the inner workings of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the forefront. One case in Kentucky prompted former elder William Bowen to start asking questions.

At the center of the cases is the two-witness rule. The Witnesses abide strictly by their Bible, the New World Translation. The translation is published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the nonprofit organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., that acts as the Witnesses’ headquarters and overseer.

Deuteronomy 19:15: No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin, in the case of any sin that he may commit. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good.

As far as the Watch Tower is concerned, that means Witnesses can’t take action against someone unless at least two people can verify an offense happened.

That standard is difficult to meet in cases of child molestation, where often only the victim and perpetrator are present.

About two years ago, Bowen began to suspect that a fellow elder in his congregation near Paducah was abusing the elder’s daughter. In a review of Witness files, Bowen found that the elder had previously been accused of molesting someone else. Bowen says he got further proof that the daughter might also have been molested.

In keeping with Witness policy, he called the Watch Tower’s legal department in Brooklyn for guidance. The department is staffed with lawyers who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When Bowen described the situation, he says, he was told there was nothing to be done — the man had denied it, so there weren’t enough witnesses. He would have to “leave it in Jehovah’s hands.”

Other former Witnesses who served as elders around the nation have since reported similar experiences.

Disgusted, Bowen resigned as an elder and started a nonprofit organization and a Web site for Witnesses who were victims of molestation.

Thousands logged onto his “silent lambs” site, he says. Many told stories of abuse that elders did not believe.

Bowen, 45, went public with his story. He and several other Witnesses were featured on Dateline NBC. One woman, Barbara Anderson, had worked in the Watch Tower’s research department and was concerned that the organization wasn’t following up on abuse cases.

Bowen contends that tipsters told him the organization keeps a database with the names of 23,000 accused molesters.

Brown, the Witnesses’ spokesman, would not discuss specific cases, but he scoffed at allegations that Witnesses protect child molesters. Yes, Witnesses believe in the two-witness rule, he said, but that’s not the only way wrongdoers can be caught.

“It cannot be said that we will do nothing unless there are two witnesses,” Brown said. He said Witnesses are not required to report crimes to elders before calling civil authorities. Victims and their families are free to call police at will, he said, although some don’t choose to.

Elders’ investigations work hand-in-hand with what Witnesses sometimes call “Caesar’s law,” Brown said. “We’re not handling the criminality of this,” he said. “We’re handling the sin.”

The Watch Tower does keep records of people accused of molestation, but the number in the database is far fewer than 23,000, he said, declining to give a specific figure.

Watch Tower officials use the database to ensure that a person against whom a credible allegation of molestation is made won’t be elevated to positions of authority. Also, Brown said, if a person is accused in separate incidents, Witness officials have a record of that history and will look into the matter seriously.

After the Dateline program aired in May, Bowen, Anderson and Anderson’s husband were disfellowshipped. A couple who said their daughter had been abused by a Witness were also threatened with excommunication.

* * *

The modern Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society began with a small group of Bible students near Pittsburgh and was incorporated in 1884. Back then, about 50 believers traveled door-to-door full time, spreading their beliefs.

They were largely successful in the next few years in convincing people that the end of the world, or Armageddon, was imminent and that only Jehovah’s Witnesses would survive.

Witnesses don’t believe in a burning hell. Non-Witnesses will simply be killed in the end. The vast majority of Witnesses will live forever on Earth, which will become a paradise once rid of the evil perpetuated by a society of nonbelievers. A select group of Witnesses — 144,000, to be exact — will live in heaven with Jesus Christ. This, based on a passage in the Book of Revelation, is referred to as “the heavenly hope.”

The denomination’s governing body and a workforce of other Witnesses operate a massive and well-organized religious base with a legal department, publishing house and printing facilities that ship Witness literature and Bibles all over the globe.

The Watch Tower keeps detailed accounts of the number of hours each Witness goes door-to-door, the number of home Bible studies completed and records of those who have been disfellowshipped.

The governing body also establishes policy for Witnesses to live by that it says is based on the Bible. Witnesses cannot vote, receive blood transfusions or salute the flag, among other restrictions.

Not even the marriage bed is beyond the Watch Tower’s purview.

Brown said Witnesses believe that sexual activity between men and women should “follow the normal course” of things. “We feel that oral or anal intercourse would go beyond that.”

Couples are often counseled accordingly before marriage, Brown said. Guilt-ridden Witnesses have gone before judicial committees to confess wayward sex acts with their spouses.

* * *

The Watch Tower predicted several times in the 1900s that Armageddon would occur. The organization grew as people were baptized Witnesses, hoping to join the only “true” religion before it was too late.

Joseph F. Rutherford, once the Watch Tower’s president, was convinced that 1925 would mark the year that forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would return to earth. Rutherford had a large mansion built in California so they would have a place to live. The mansion was later sold.

Decades passed. Then Witnesses declared that the end would arrive in 1975. Some sold their homes, packed up and hit the road, going door-to-door to recruit as many people as they could. Young adults refused to go to college. Couples put off having children.

Diane Gholson of Spring Hill was among those anticipating Armageddon. In 1974, she feverishly wrote letters to her husband’s Baptist relatives, begging them to become Witnesses before it was too late.

“When it didn’t come, my husband said, ‘Maybe they’re off by a year,’ ” she said.

They waited. And waited.

By 1980, Gholson said, they’d had enough. In 1982, they were part of a group of Witnesses who participated in a march at Watch Tower headquarters. Watch Tower leaders, they charged, were nothing more than “false prophets.”

Gholson was disfellowshipped.

Shirley Jackson, who had been baptized in 1974 in case the end did come, was unswayed, however. She accepted the Watch Tower’s explanation that the “light” of God’s word was getting brighter.

* * *

Brown says disfellowshipping inspires wrongdoers to come back to the religion. Those who want to reapply can do so, but they must adhere to Witnesses’ policies. They are allowed inside the Kingdom Halls but are ignored by the other congregants until readmitted to the faith.

Each year, Brown said, 30,000 to 40,000 are reinstated, having “come back to their spiritual senses.”

Jackson now goes to Glad Tidings Assembly of God church in St. Petersburg. She is happy there and says she can sense God’s presence in the sanctuary. She regrets ever believing what the Witnesses taught her.

Only her youngest child, a 17-year-old son, was not baptized a Witness. He lives with Jackson and her new husband.

“It hurts,” Jackson said of her broken family. “But I’m not bitter. I want to help people who are going through this.”

– Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report

Monday, February 8, 2010

Affairs with controlling pastors

Emotional Affairs with Pastors: Forgiveness is Not a Neat Little Package
My friend Gail at Cogitations recently shared about her emotional affair with a former pastor.
She shares bravely concerning the stomping on and healing of her heart. There is always an element of spiritual abuse when a pastor is involved and on behalf of any kind of pastor I apologize. If you have been in any type of affair this will be a good read but especially good for those of you involved with clergy.

Below is Gail's heartfelt post, Forgiveness is Not a Neat Little Package.

For those of you who may not know this about me, I want to reveal that I was involved in an emotional affair with the pastor of our former church. Until now, I have only hinted at what had happened at our former church. Today, I have chosen to share all of this in much more detail than I ever have before with the desire that the Lord use it to help any woman who may have found herself in a similar situation.

There may be a woman reading this who is out of such a situation and yet still struggles with the guilt associated with such a traumatic event.

I pray that even now, the Lord will supply me with the right words to share.

Our former church and its people had good intentions that went horribly awry as the narcissistic man who called himself pastor wanted to control rather than lead those people under his care. What began as a dream to equip the saints as per Ephesians 4:12 became a place where legalism ruled the day.

At the time Andy and I began attending, our only desire was to serve the Lord and to grow in knowledge and wisdom. We threw ourselves into every aspect of service. We cleaned the church, we helped other members when the opportunity arose, and we prayed for the pastor and his family often and sought to bless them in both physical and financial ways. The more we served the more we were called upon to serve. It was that service to others that became the measuring stick for how well you were “walking the walk".

I was so excited about a study I was planning for myself that I brought the books with me to a fellowship dinner and showed them to my friend who had initially invited us to the church. When the pastor saw the books at the fellowship he said, “This is just what the women need” and asked me to lead a bible study for the women. While I had no experience leading a study group, and I was anxious at the prospect of leading anything, I was excited that the Lord would use me in such a way, and began to plan my lessons. Each week as I prepared to teach the Lord spoke to me through the material we studied. The first study we embarked on, written by a woman named Virginia Fugate was “The Other Side of the Garden.” Admittedly, I had no idea what I was doing, but felt I was doing the Lord’s work and so I plowed on.

We (the women) later completed some very meaty (and some not so meaty) bible studies. The knowledge the Lord granted to me during that time has become priceless to me. I now believe He had a much bigger lesson for me to learn, and perhaps for some of the women who were in that group as well.

There came a time when I felt the study questions we were answering did not ask some of those hard questions that tap into the depth of the study. I did not feel the questions were challenging enough, and did not want the women simply “plugging in” an answer. I mentioned it. The pastor asked if I could develop some additional questions for the women to answer. My being uncomfortable with teaching any way, my pastor soothed my troubled heart by assuring me he would guide me every step of the way. I found comfort in the knowledge that the pastor would guide my unsteady steps.

I should preface this by saying I had an erroneous view of biblical submission.

Submission was esteemed at the church as one of the marks of a godly woman.

The type of submission esteemed was and is unbiblical. It is a submission that requires the one submitting do so without the question does this line up with scripture and with no thought about the consequences of submitting to requests that could be contrary to the scriptures. It was a mindless submission.

So began the process of writing additional study questions that would be reviewed by the pastor, which threw us into a closer relationship than I bargained for. As he got to know me better, he decided that I needed to become a certified N.A.N.C. counselor. Not long after that proclamation I began to attend the N.A.N.C. conferences. I only attended two N.A.N.C conferences. It was at the second of these conferences, while I was far from home that his intentions toward me and our relationship became painfully clear in a hotel room far away from my husband and family.

We were invited out to dinner with a couple from the church and he accepted the invitation on our behalf. When the dinner hour approached though, I could not get him to answer his cell phone nor his room phone. I patiently waited in my room. I had no way to contact this couple, no way to drive to the church. I was stranded and all I could do was wait until I heard from him. Finally, when the hour approached for the evening meetings I tried again and that is when he came to my room. It is a night I will not soon forget. The blinders I wore for years were removed finally during the course of that evening.

As the relationship developed, I became trapped in a web spun by a master manipulator. He recognized my felt needs and sought to meet them. He gathered information about my past, my present and my childhood and used that information to his advantage while he lured me deeper and deeper into a relationship that was unbiblical and ungodly. The main players in this relationship were the pastor, his wife, and I. The relationship on both sides became hyper-dependent on each other rather than God who is the All-Sufficient One.

Both the pastor and his wife constantly undermined my husband to me and it was then that I began to look at my husband through their eyes. I was taught that I was to submit to my husband, and if he was found to be in sin, then the elders (in this case that one man) was to act as my authority and protection until my husband was no longer in sin. My husband’s sin was his failure to lead his family in the elder prescribed manner, thus rendering him ineffective as my leader and protector, leaving me without biblical cover at which point the pastor stepped in to act on my husband’s behalf until my husband saw the light.

Scriptures were taken out of context and twisted in order to meet the desires of a narcissistic man. Looking back, I can see how my mind became poisoned against my husband, and how I eagerly submitted to anyone and anything in my quest to please God. I now know that nothing I can do will please God. His grace alone sustains me.

However, I know I am not without fault. I have since admitted my guilt, and my sin to all those involved. I allowed myself to be duped because wrapped around the duping was a hard, shiny candy shell that was food for my flesh. The heart, which is deceitfully wicked, fooled me into believing I was doing good when in fact I was doing evil.

Over time and with prompting from his wife and myself the pastor appointed men to co-lead with him. It was through these appointments that the emotional infidelity came out of the darkness and into the light. I was terrified the revelation would destroy my family as well as the church body. This man warned me many times that if our special relationship were exposed it would destroy my family as well as destroy the ministry he had so carefully constructed. By now, the relationship had become so suffocating and so controlling that I dared not make a move without his approval, all the while desprately longing to be free of his control and yet I still refused to expose the relationship until, quite by accident, the cat escaped from its bag. Fear and shame controlled me.

During this time, the pastor would call me repeatedly and if I did not answer my phone, he would call until I finally answered. Upon answering my phone, I would be bombarded with questions such as, “Who are you with?” “Where are you?” “Why aren’t you answering your phone?” It was an emotionally draining time.

When folks became aware that there was something amiss, it was quite by accident. I had been slowly backing out of the relationship with the pastor and his wife and seeking other acquaintances within the church, when it became obvious that mine was not a normal pastor/ congregant relationship. I was helping to plan a surprise birthday party for another elder’s wife. He and I were shopping for party hats and favors when my phone began to ring repeatedly. The elder looked at me, clearly confused as to why I was refusing to answer my phone. I fumbled about trying to switch my loud ring tone for a silent one; all the while, this elder wore a puzzled expression. After multiple calls, and an unsuccessful attempt to silence my phone the elder asked me who it was who had called so many times. I, with downcast eyes, spoke the caller’s name. The elder gently requested that I answer the phone if it should ring again. It did, and I answered to a barrage of questions. As I answered each question, trying to remain calm as panic welled up inside of me, the other elder looked at me intently as the thirty-second call seemed to last an eternity. Finally, the pastor grew angry as he suspected someone was there with me and he hung up loudly. I recoiled as if I had been shot. Seeing that I was visibly shaken, the elder began to ask me very pointed questions. Within minutes, the truth was out.

About this same time, I had been reading a book written by a woman who had suffered what she called clergy abuse. In her book, the scenario was very similar to what was happening to me with this pastor; in fact there were times as I read it I often had a sense of deja vu. However, she lay all of the blame squarely upon her pastor. The elders in her church supported the pastor and he remained in office while she and her family left the church in shame.

I did not agree with her assessment of blame. I felt and still feel that my former pastor, bears the crux of the blame, given the position of authority he held. However, I, too, had my own sins to acknowledge. Among those sins were my wrong view of God and my people pleasing ways that led to a huge fear of man. There were times I felt very close to the Lord, during all of this but there were many times I felt like I was not the Christian I claimed to be. I am grateful for the support those other elders showed our family during that dark time. To this day, they valiantly protect my identity from those who would be overly critical of my involvement.

There have been more than a few Christians who have offered their opinion on what I could have or should have done differently. It is easy for someone who has the benefit of hindsight to offer solutions in a neat little package as to how I should have behaved, or how they would have behaved in a similar situation. Such answers belie the truths God intended me to glean from this dark time in my life. A darkness that I felt may overtake me. That darkness still tries to wrap its tentacles around my spirit and drag me to the slough of despond. There was something beyond the darkness though, something God had just for me. Something God wanted me to fully grasp and understand.

He wanted me to understand His grace.

I now understand it in a way I could never have known had I not gone through this experience. It has proven to me repeatedly that the “all things” in Romans 8:28 truly encompasses all things. It has taken many years and sadly more heartache for me to understand the depth of His grace for me.

It is an unfathomable grace that has no end.

They were hard lessons that I do not wish to repeat, harder than Katrina was, which He used to strip away what remained of my dependence on myself.

I share this in its entirety because my husband and I have received a letter from this man, and in it, he claims that he would like to reconcile the situation. I am thankful that the Lord has worked so in his heart. We have no objection to his wanting to make things right with us and the many other members of the church he led that were hurt and confused by his behavior. We rejoice that the Lord opened his heart to the grievousness of his sin and that in the years that have passed (four and a half) he has finally come to an understanding of the damage he caused by his own sins.

The problem we do have is that he requested a face-to-face meeting.

Initially, I felt guilty, because my gut response was, “No”.

I have no desire ever to lay eyes on either one of them again. I understand I must forgive them, and I am ready to do so, in fact, I have already forgiven his wife. (Her letter came in July of this year) I just do not understand their need to do this in person. We have sought counsel on this matter and everyone we have spoken to says there is no reason for a face-to-face meeting.

A friend of ours said to us, “Sometimes, Christians think everything has to be wrapped up with a bow on top and it just isn't so.”

Forgiveness is not about the bow on the top of the package, or the neat little check list whose items are carefully marked off with perfect little checks. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart, for the glory of the One who opened that heart to its own wickedness and His amazing grace. It is my acknowledgment that I am a sinner too, and as such, I understand grace. A grace that has been so richly poured out in my own life that I know and understand the need for forgiveness and would never refuse another heart’s cry who seeks it from me.

It is the story of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 that opened my heart to true forgiveness. How could I, whose great debt has been paid, refuse to do the same for one whose debt to me pales in comparison?

The questions remains though, what debts do I then owe to the one who seeks forgiveness? Do I owe them a face-to face meeting?

I do not believe that I do.

The hurt that was caused to my family as well as many others is reason enough to remain cautious. Therefore, we approach this time carefully, prayerfully and with many counselors as we seek to please Him who loved us first in all things, even this thing, especially this thing.

We also realize that these things happened for the single purpose of making us more like Him Who called us and made us His own. If perchance there is a woman reading this that has been through a similar situation and is burdened with guilt, who is confused and grieving, please know there are many other women (and men) who have been in a similar situation. For the Scriptures say that no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. As you seek to find answers to your deepest hurts you will discover that His grace is indeed sufficient for the pain you suffer, and indeed your sin is more common than you think.

We have all turned away, we have all sought our own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. There is healing in the balm of Gilead. Allow the Father of light to apply that balm to your hurting spirit and experience a grace you never knew.

Finally, I want to encourage you, if you are that woman, to pray for those who have hurt you, pray for those who have despitefully used you, for those who have caused you to sin, because it is in prayer you will realize you are no different. You will discover that you are a sinner too, and suddenly you will recognize the Pharisee in you and you will fall before your Maker prostrate and cry out “Lord! Have mercy on ME the sinner!”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spiritual Abuse Has Many Forms

If you feel in your heart, a nagging feeling that you may be a victim of spiritual abuse, please remind yourself that spiritual abuse isn't limited to verbal suggestions. It may even include physical abuse in it's worse forms.

However, a spiritually abused person doesn't always recognize on the surface they are being spiritually abused.

Be aware that using scripture to control or dominate you is a tell tale sign of spiritual abuse. No one has the God given right to lord it over another person, controlling them and dominating them through the use of scripture.

In fact, no one has the right, whether in marriage, the pulpit, or group-think to control and dominate you.

If you believe, that indeed, you are being subjected to any form of spiritual abuse, for your own mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare, it is wise to being planning a way of escape, not worrying about what your pastor, mentor, group or even your spouse thinks.

In a way, spiritual abuse can be worse than physical violence because it damages the very inner part of your being, your soul. It should never be a matter of "putting up with it" for the sake of appeasing others. Never! Plan and find your way out of it. There will always be a way of escape, one way or another. Not always easy, but possible.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Misogyny in Religion

Misogyny is hatred or strong prejudice against women. The word comes from the Greek words μίσος (misos, "hatred") + γυνη (gunê, "woman"). Compared with anti-woman sexism or misandry (hatred, strong prejudice against men), misogyny is termed by most feminist theories as a political ideology like racism and antisemitism that justifies and maintains the subordination of women to men.

Contents [hide]
1 Usage
2 Misogyny in Greek literature
3 Misogyny in feminist theory
3.1 Mythology
3.2 Religion
3.3 Philosophy
4 See also
5 See also

Misogyny is sometimes confused with the similar looking word — misogamy — which means a hatred of marriage, hence the following error.

Any doubt he may have ever cherished in his misogamic breast concerning a woman's creative capacity. — Pall Mall Gazette, 7 January 1889
An example of correct use, from the same period is:

He ... walked the banks apart, a thing of misogyny, in a suit of flannel. — Herman Charles Merivale, Faucit of Balliol, 1882
A clearer example of the sense, also from the same era but using the related word misogynist, is provided by Thackeray.

Confound all women, I say, muttered the young misogynist. — William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians, 1878
Occasionally writers play on the similarity of sound between misogyny and miscegeny (mixed-race marriage).

This psychosocial analysis of the murder of a white civil rights activist by her mulatto lover (Joe Christmas) is replete with themes of fate, free will, sociopathy, family violence, misogyny, miscegeny, and isolation versus community.
An example used in current context is:

Among the concerns some of Hillary Clinton female backers have with Barack Obama is the perception that he can slide into misogynist comments at the blink of an eye.
In the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde humorously has Miss Prism referring to Dr Chasuble as a womanthrope, but intending misogynist or misogamist:

You should get married. A misanthrope I can understand - a womanthrope, never! (Act 2)
[edit]Misogyny in Greek literature
Misogyny in Greek literature
Misogyny comes into English from the ancient Greek word, misogunia, which survives in two passages. The earlier, longer and more complete passage comes from a stoic philosopher called Antipater of Tarsus in a moral tract known as On Marriage (c. 150 BC).

[edit]Misogyny in feminist theory
misogyny in feminist theory
Traditional feminist theorists propose many different forms of misogyny. In its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female. Other forms of misogyny may be less overt. Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Entire cultures may be said to be misogynist if they treat women in ways that can be seen as harmful. Examples include forcing women to tend to all domestic responsibilities, not giving pregnant women jobs, or beating a woman. Subscribers to one model, the mother/whore dichotomy, hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant is the virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to a saintly standard of moral purity(Abrahamic) are considered "whores".

Frequently, the term misogynist is used in a looser sense as a term of derision to describe anyone who holds an unpopular or distasteful view about women as a group. A man who considers himself "a great lover of women," therefore, might somewhat paradoxically be termed a misogynist by those who consider his treatment of women sexist. Archetypes of this type of man might be Giacomo Casanova and Don Juan, who were both reputed for their many libertine affairs with women. Misogyny is a negative attitude towards women as a group, and so need not fully determine a misogynist's attitude towards each individual woman. The fact that someone holds misogynist views may not prevent them from having positive relationships with some women. Conversely, simply having negative relationships with some women does not necessarily mean someone holds misogynistic views. The term, like most negative descriptions of attitudes, is used as an epithet and applied to a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes. As with other terms, the more antipathetic one's position is in regards to misogyny, the larger the number of misogynists and the greater variety of attitudes and behaviors who fall into one's perception of "misogynist". This is, of course, the subject of much controversy and debate with opinions ranging widely as to the extent and breadth of misogyny in society.

J Holland sees evidence of misogyny in the mythology of the ancient world. In Greek mythology, the human race had already existed before the creation of women — a peaceful, autonomous existence as a companion to the gods. When Prometheus decides to steal the secret of fire from the gods, Zeus becomes infuriated and decides to punish humankind with an "evil thing for their delight" — Pandora, the first woman, who carried a jar (usually described — incorrectly — as a box) she was told to never open. Epimetheus (the brother of Prometheus) is overwhelmed by her beauty, disregards Prometheus' warnings about her, and marries her. Pandora cannot resist peeking into the jar, and by opening it unveils all evil into the world — labour, sickness, old age, and death.

J Holland also sees evidence of misogyny in the Christian view on the Fall of Man based on the Book Genesis, which according to Christian interpretation brought tragedy and death into the world by a woman. (See also Original Sin.)

The religion of islam is in itself mysogynistic. The Quran specifies both that "women are inferior to men" and that any women who are found to disagree with this should be beaten (Qur'an 4:34). In the book "Women and the Glorious Qur'an: An Analytical Study of Women-related Verses" the author claims that the relation between men and women specified in the "men are the guardians of women" verse, does not simply apply within a family, or within marriage. The book specifies that men are superior to all women, both in general and in specific cases, not just their wives or daughters. The book mentions that this is a "progressive" opinion within islam, and that there are many islamic scholars with much worse opinions on women, such as the very authoritative at-Tabari, who claims that men are superior to women, not just in the case of a woman being financially dependent on a man, but always, and due to Allah's statement on the physical and intellectual superiority of men above women.

Strindberg's misogyny
Arthur Schopenhauer is famous for his essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." The essay does give two compliments however: that "women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than men are" and are more sympathetic to the suffering of others. However, the latter was discounted as weakness rather than humanitarian virtue.

Nietzsche is known for arguing that every higher form of civilization implied stricter controls on women (Beyond Good and Evil, 7:238); he frequently insulted women, but is best known for phrases such as "Women are less than shallow," and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!" Nietzsche's reputation as a misogynist is disputed by some, pointing out that he also made unflattering statements about men. Nietzsche can easily be interpreted as anti-feminist, believing that women were primarily mothers and opposing the modern notion of women's liberation on the grounds that he considered it a form of slave morality. Whether or not this amounts to misogyny, whether his polemic statements against women are meant to be taken literally, and the exact nature of his opinions of women, are more controversial.

The philosopher Otto Weininger, in his 1903 book Sex and Character, characterized the "woman" part of each individual as being essentially "nothing," and having no real existence, having no effective consciousness or rationality. Weininger says, "No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them." The author August Strindberg praised Weininger for probably having solved the hardest of all problems, the "woman problem."

[edit]See also
Misandry - male counterpart
Honor killing
Marriage strike
Object relations theory
Violence against women
[edit]See also
Cette mâle assurance

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bible Abuse-Self Quiz

Self Quiz

A group starts with two people. And two individuals can find themselves embroiled in many of the same fundamental destructive group dynamics that large organizations fall prey to.


of a destructive group or belief system?
Find out with this

Does your group discourage doubts, criticism or ideas that differ from their belief system?
Do you tend to rationalize whatever the group does even when it goes against your sense of right and wrong?
Yes___ No___
Do you often feel exhausted from lengthy group activities, meetings and projects?
Yes___ No___
Does your group have its own unique words, cliches, slogans, chants, prayers and doctrinal phrases that reinforce the group viewpoint?
Yes___ No___
Are doubts viewed as a lack of faith, dedication, commitment or disloyalty?
Yes___ No___
Have "your thoughts" become "the enemy?"
Yes___ No___
Do you often find yourself doing more and more things in the group or because of group peer pressure that you would not have done on your own?
Yes___ No___
Does your group publicly humiliate or criticize members?
Yes___ No___
Does your group have a system of punishments and rewards for behavior?
Yes___ No___
Group paranoia: Does your group obsessively think other groups or people with different beliefs are out to get them?
Yes___ No___
Does the prospect of leaving your group seem scary, difficult?
Yes___ No___
Do you feel the need to leave in secret?
Yes___ No___
Have you been told something bad might happen if you leave?
Yes___ No___
Does your group/belief system think they have/are the only or highest truth, or have the solution for the world’s problems?
Yes___ No___
Are your leader’s ideas or belief system considered beyond reproach or sacred?
Yes___ No___
Do you follow a particular individual or belief system that requires unquestioning obedience and loyalty?
Yes___ No___
) Do members of your group feel specially chosen, superior, exclusive, elite?
Yes___ No___
Do you feel the need to save or convert others to your belief system or ideology?
Yes___ No___
Is your group secretive to outsiders about its inner workings, teachings, activities or beliefs?
Yes___ No___
Does your group equate purity and goodness to being in your group, and impurity or evil to those outside your group?
Yes___ No___
Do you place your group’s mission or agenda above your own goals and ideals? Do group interests come before your own interest
Yes___ No___
Do you find yourself thinking in a we-they, us-versus-them mind set?
Yes___ No___
Does your group/system have a clear outside enemy?
Yes___ No___
Do you see less and less of your family and friends who do not belong to your group or who do not subscribe to your group’s belief system?
Yes___ No___
Does your group use frequent public testimonials, confessions, or sharings that reinforce the group’s mission or agenda?
Yes___ No___
Is communication within, into and out of your group controlled or censored in any manner?
Yes___ No___
Does your group criticize, shun, abandon or demean individuals who leave the group?
Yes___ No___
Do members seek approval or get permission from group leader(s) for personal life choices?
Yes___ No___
Do you feel pressured to attend meetings, events, lectures, seminars? And do you feel guilty if you don’t attend?
Yes___ No___
Do you feel pressured to give a portion of your income to the group, or spend money on courses, books or special projects?
Yes___ No___
Are the group’s financial needs more important than your own economic well-being?
Yes___ No___
Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, belief, or sexual orientation?
Yes___ No___
Does your group have a totalitarian structure: a strict, top-down centralized control?
Yes___ No___
Do you wonder if you have been in a destructive group?
Do you...
...have difficulty forming new friendships and intimate relationships?
Yes___ No___

...have low self-esteem, poor self-image or loss of identity?
Yes___ No___

...have difficulty making simple decisions and choices?
Yes___ No___

...often feel depressed, anxious and nervous?
Yes___ No___

...feel isolated, lonely, guilty, cynical?
Yes___ No___

...feel like you are just now growing up, becoming a mature adult?
Yes___ No___

...have short-term memory difficulties?
Yes___ No___

...feel you have nothing to believe in?
Yes___ No___

...often feel anger and rage towards the group?
Yes___ No___

...have nightmares or unpleasant dreams?
Yes___ No___

...find it difficult or impossible to stop mental or other group ritualistic practices?
Yes___ No___

This quiz has no scientifically predetermined number of "yes" answers to indicate a distructive group. However, answering "yes" to any of the above questions means you may need to examine your group and its influence in your life in those areas.

All the documents on this site are copyright 1998 by John D. Goldhammer and Prometheus Books. You may freely save, distribute or re-post this information with full credit given to this site's URL.

Legal Notice: The administration of this website was taken over about September, 2004 by Med Trans 1, Inc.. The content on this site was the work of the late Jan Groenveld, and as such, Med Trans 1, Inc. is not knowledgeable about the specific content presented on this website, nor is responsible for any inaccuracies that may be discovered.

We wish to be fair to all parties involved, and there is no intent whatsoever to present inaccurate in formation. Therefore, if any group or individual feels that information presented on this site is inaccurate, please contact us. If the information is proven to be inaccurate, it will be either changed or removed upon receipt of verifiable proof being supplied to us. Verifiable proof is defined as a disinterested source independent of your group such as newspaper, encyclopedia, public records and similar sources.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are high-profile evangelical leaders endangering victims of domestic violence"

Bill Berkowitz
July 23, 2007

"Dr. James Dobson and Dr. John MacArthur, two influential evangelical family counselors, 'blame' battered women for their plight, says Christian evangelical author Jocelyn Andersen.
While domestic violence -- also known as intimate partner violence -- is in no way limited to any particular race, religion, ethnic group, class or sexual preference, author Jocelyn Andersen maintains that for far too long too many evangelical pastors have tried to sweep the problem under the rug. According to Andersen, the problem of physical, as well as emotional and spiritual abuse, is being exacerbated by the outdated teachings of several high-profile conservative Christian pastors.

In the introduction to her new book "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence" (One Way Cafe Press, 2007), Andersen points out that "The practice of hiding, ignoring, and even perpetuating the emotional and physical abuse of women is ... rampant within evangelical Christian fellowships and as slow as our legal systems have been in dealing with violence against women by their husbands, the church has been even slower."

Andersen maintains that domestic violence in Christian families "often creates a cruel Catch-22 as many Christians and church leaders view recommending separation or divorce as unscriptural, but then silently view the battered woman, who chooses not to leave, with contempt for staying and tolerating the abuse. Victims quickly pick up on this hypocritical attitude and either leave the church altogether -- or begin hiding the abuse. Either way they are giving up the spiritual guidance, and emotional support, they desperately need."

"The secular medical world has had to reach in to advise and help women from the church see the truth of their situations, get shelter, and inform religious leaders about the need to accept medical and clinical facts about physical and mental abuse," -- a news service of the American Family Association -- reported in late June.

"Secular organizations are constantly addressing the religious aspects of domestic violence," Andersen told the news service. "Christian women struggle with it and the secular organizations see what Christian women go through and religious women go through. They have set it up as their goal to educate spiritual leaders on the spiritual aspects, and the different aspects of domestic violence so they can give good counsel to the women coming to them. It's a big issue."

Andersen's book discusses why women who are victims of domestic abuse stay with their abusers: "The third chapter of [the Book of] Genesis give us a clue, when the woman is told, 'your desire will be to your husband' -- and he will 'rule over' you. The clue right there is no matter how he acts, her desire is often still toward him. She loves him. She responds to the abuse with an even greater determination to try to resolve the situation ... and make it better."

According to OneNewsNow, "Andersen never advocates divorce -- yet she says after domestic violence enters the marriage picture, there must eventually come a point where a Christian woman decides what the will of God is for her in the face of the dangers of abuse. And that is where Andersen says the woman will likely conflict with pressure from the church to stay, no matter what."

High-profile evangelical leaders blaming the victim
Andersen, whose account of physical abuse by her husband makes for a harrowing first chapter, says that the problem is exacerbated by misguided advice and use of outdated information in the writing of Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Dr. John MacArthur, a pastor-teacher at the Sun Valley, California-based Grace Community Church. "We do see some very big-name evangelical leaders blaming the battered woman for the abuse," Andersen explained. "You know, talking about how she may provoke her husband into doing it; or that her poor, non-communicative husband can't handle maybe what she's trying to communicate to him and he lashes out and hits her -- [that] shifts the blame right off him and to her."
Via several emails, Anderson told Media Transparency that the work of Dobson and MacArthur perpetuate the problem of domestic violence among evangelical Christians.

She chose to look closely at their work because of the "scope of influence" they wield "within the Christian Community." Both men are "prolific writers with best-selling books," and the both "have large listening audiences for their radio broadcasts," which "have been staples of Moody Christian Radio for years." Millions of people listen to the broadcasts weekly, she said.
"Both Dobson and MacArthur are high-profile evangelical leaders with enough influence and ability to make a positive contribution to the plight of battered women which would result in lives being saved." Instead, "their words are often used to send Christian women back into the danger zone with counsel that encourages them to try and change violent husbands or return to violent homes as soon as the 'heat is off.' The last time I looked, assault was a crime, but Christian women are generally not encouraged to report that crime."

In her book, Andersen cites an incident in which a battered wife wrote to Dobson telling him that "the violence within her marriage was escalating in both frequency and intensity and that she feared for her life." Dobson "replied that her goal should be to change her husband's behavior--not to get a divorce ('Love Must Be Tough,' (1996) [this is the edition that was being sold as of March 2007])."

"He did suggest leaving as a temporary solution, but only as a way of manipulating the husband's behavior. I found it inexcusable that not one note of real concern for this woman's immediate physical safety was sounded in his response--in spite of the fact that she clearly stated she was in fear for her life."
"Dobson counseled her to precipitate a crisis in her marriage by choosing the most absurd demand her husband made, then refusing to consent to it. This was not only absurd advice in a domestic violence situation, but life-threateningly dangerous as well, and very telling of the fact that, in spite of over 1,000 deaths per year due to wife-beating, the wife beater is not generally viewed as a real threat to his wife's life or safety. "

Andersen also takes on MacArthur: According to a tape titled Bible Questions and Answers Part 16, a member of Grace Community Church asked MacArthur how a Christian woman should react "and deal with being a battered wife."

MacArthur's answer contained "some very dangerous advice to battered wives. He said divorce is not an option to a battered wife, because the Bible doesn't permit it." While saying that it was okay "for the wife to get away while the pressure was on" it was with the understanding that she would return. "He warned wives to be very careful that they were not provoking the abusive situations. Because, he said, that was very often the problem."
"Three years later, MacArthur said essentially the same thing (softened with a few disclaimers) in a booklet he still distributes today titled 'Answering Key Questions About the Family.'"

"How many thousands of pastors, leaders and lay Christians have been and are still being influenced through the writing of James Dobson, John MacArthur and others who share their views?" Andersen asked.
Andersen says that both of these pastors "admit they believe a large percentage of battering cases are instigated and provoked by the wife." While Dobson "described the issue of domestic violence as a problem of 'epidemic proportions,' in 'Love Must Be Tough,' only five-plus pages are devoted to the subject. And he used over half those pages to highlight a case in which a wife deliberately provoked her husband into hitting her so she could gain her 'trophy' of bruises which she could then parade around with in order to gain sympathy."

While those incidents happen, Andersen points out that "the bulk of the research about domestic violence refutes the myth that battered wives enjoy being battered or deliberately provoke the violence in order to gain some moral advantage. That unfair example in no way typifies the face of domestic violence."

"If a Christian Leader blames a woman for the violence in her marriage and neglects to encourage a battered wife to use the legal resources available to her in order to preserve her physical safety, that leader is not only sanctioning the abuse but perpetuating it as well," Andersen maintains.
"Many wife-beaters who are church-goers, professing Christians, even pastors and leaders of churches are getting the message loud and clear that their spiritual leadership is not so concerned with the fact that they beat their wives as they are concerned that wives should be submitting to their husbands and not seeking legal protection or divorce."

"Telling a woman to leave while the heat is on with the intention of returning is not uncommon advice among evangelicals. It amounts to no less than sending a battered woman back into a violent home. With a violent spouse when is the heat ever really off? This is sin and, in my opinion, it is criminal."
Thus far, Andersen hasn't received any grief for the charges in her book. She said that she received a request for a review copy of her book and a media kit from a news correspondent at Family News in Focus -- a Focus on the Family news service -- which she mailed several weeks ago, but hadn't yet heard from them again."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christian Men Who Hate Women

Healing Hurting Relationships
Margaret J. Rinck
Zondervan Publishing House, 1990

Rinck acknowledges that some men misuse Christianity to dominate or abuse their wives and/ or other women around them. Frequently these men exhibit their misogyny only in private or only to a few women. These men appear to many as the epitome of propriety to those outside this "intimate" circle. Rinck tells us how to recognize these men, suggests how to deal with these men, and tells us that we women are fully human and that no one, man or woman, has God's blessing to treat us as any less than fully human.

1) "Any challenge or objection by his wife is met with rage, temper tantrums, or stony silence. The Christian misogynist (yes, there are such people) often uses distortion of scriptural teaching to keep his partner "in her place." " page 16

2) "The reason is that once the woman changes a particular behavior to please him, another behavior becomes the target. The definition of what is pleasing constantly changes, so that she is kept off balance." page 17

3) "A woman should examine whether her marriage relationship has most of these characteristics:

1. The man assumes he has the "God-given" right to control how she lives and behaves. Her needs or thoughts are not even considered.
2. He uses God, the Bible, and church doctrine to support his "right to tell her what to do," and demands that she "submit" unquestioningly to his desires, whims, decisions, or plans. There is no sense of mutuality or loving consideration. It is always his way or nothing.

3. She finds that she no longer associates with certain friends, groups, or even family members because of her need to keep him happy. Even though these activities or people are important to her, she finds herself preferring to avoid them in order to "keep the peace."

4. He believes and acts like her opinions, views, feelings, or thoughts have no real value. He may discredit them on principle or specifically because "she is a woman and easily deceived like Eve was." Or, he may give lip-service to respecting her thoughts, but later shoot them down one by one because they "are not logical."

5. He acts charming and sweet at church and is well-liked at work, yet at home the family has to "walk on eggs" to prevent setting him off. People who do not see him at home find it hard to believe that she is really suffering emotional abuse. He reinforces this feeling whenever she points out the differences between home and church by saying something such as , "Oh, quit exaggerating. I'm not like that!"

6. When she displeases him and he does not get his way, he yells, threatens, or sulks in angry silence.

7. She feels confused by his behavior because one day he can be loving, kind, charming, and gentle; the next day he is cruel and full of rage. The switch seems to come without warning.

8. No matter how much she tries to improve, change, or "grow in the Word," in her relationship with him, she still feels confused, inadequate, guilty, and somehow off balance. She never knows what will set him off next, and no matter how much she prays, he never changes. She almost feels she must be "crazy" and she is sure it is her fault.

9. He acts possessive and jealous, even of her time with the children. He may even try to restrict her normal church activities because "a woman's place is in the home." If other people, especially other men, notice her or talk to her, he becomes very angry or jealous.

10. When anything goes wrong in the home or in their relationship, the problem is always her. If she would just be "more submissive" or "more filled with the spirit" or "obey me like a good Christian wife," everything would be fine. He seems blind to any cruelty or misbehavior on his part. He actually sees himself virtuous for "putting up" with a woman like her." pages 20-23

4) "The unique feature of misogynists is that their abusive, nonempathetic grandiosity is directed toward the women in their lives. Misogynists may occasionally exhibit these characteristics toward other people, but the brunt of their disorder is aimed at their wives or girlfriends." page 43
5) "The misogynist is extremely control-oriented; he needs to control and dominate his wife." page 46

6) "He may make sex mechanical (when and where he wants it), refuse to be concerned about her sexual satisfaction, becomes less and less physically affectionate after the wedding, express repulsion or disgust at the idea of romantically touching, or use blame or punishment when her sexual needs differ from his own." page 47

7) "The goal of his emotional and psychological battering is to wear down his wife, to keep her under his control at all costs.

Some of the tools of abuse and control are yelling, bullying, threatening, temper tantrums, name calling, constant criticism, verbal attacks, ridiculing the woman's pain, subtle attempts to confuse her and make her doubt her sanity, forgetting things that happened between them, accusations, blaming, and rewriting history. The misogynist uses all these tactics with the overt aim to "teach you a lesson" or "make you a better person." In Christian homes the justification for abuse becomes even more powerful. Often God or the Bible is used to justify the verbal attack as "correction." "If you were a really good Christian wife you'd . . . ," or "I only do this because God gave me the authority to lead you and be your spiritual head." These become stereotyped defenses. If the wife shows anger, fear, or weakness, she is "rebellious," "untrusting," or "immature in the Lord." If she questions her husband's decisions or opinions, she must be disciplined for her own good." page 53

8) "Codependent women are usually deceived by the occasional "nice" behaviors that their mates exhibit." page 60 - see Dee Graham's Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence, and Women's Lives (New York University Press, 1994) for a way of explaining women's submissive behavior that does not degrade women by calling us co-dependent. In Loving to Survive, Graham attributes this behavior to "the Societal Stockholm Syndrome," an adaptive behavior that allows women to survive in an hostile environment. She adamantly refuses to acknowledge that such women are codependents. Good book and I agree with her. Although the behavioral responses/ intellectual conclusions that people reach are the same where they are codependents or suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, women who are suffering from the Societal Stockholm Syndrome can be "reprogrammed" to reject a culture that condones abuse and to reject their abusers.

9) ". . . Elaine was a people pleaser and tried desperately to "correct" her behavior so as to please her spouse. Yet each time she tried, it seemed as if the rules had changed." page 60

10) "Learned helplessness is observed in victims of chronic abuse or trauma; these people feel that they have no ability to make choices or influence their destiny." page 61

11) "A child growing up in the kind of environment Ruth Ellen or Mary did or in other dysfunctional families where codependency develops learns some rules:

1. Your feelings do not matter. Pleasing others and soothing their feelings becomes all-important. Peace is to be maintained at any price.
2. No one is there to protect you. "If Mom can't protect herself from Dad's abuse, she obviously isn't going to take care of me."

3. The only way to handle a man's aggression is to give in to it. "Mom stayed married to Dad for thirty years, and he belittled her and treated her mean, so I guess I have to do it too."

4. The most important thing in life, yet the most painful thing, is to have a man. . .

5. The way to keep people from abandoning you is to try to be perfect, meet all their needs, ignore your own thoughts and feelings, and, above all, never act as if their mistreatment is that bad." page 69

12) "They end up feeling constantly condemned by their spouses, by Scripture and by God. It never occurs to them to question their husbands' interpretation of Scripture or to decide for themselves whether it is being used appropriately. All too aware of their faults, they see these biblical injunctions as proof that they have failed and that if they would just "do it right," everything would be fine.
As we all know, Scripture can and has been used to justify everything from slavery to the Holocaust." page 72

13) "Example: Phillip was separated from his wife for three years, but not divorced, and had an affair with a needy, codependent Christian woman. A Christian himself, he told her that "it was God's will" for them to have sex because "in God's eyes we are already married." She begged him not to do it, but Phillip pressured her and forced himself upon her. Afterward he said he had "no guilt" because "God had created sex and their love was beautiful." "page 74

14) "Many men use this notion of their sanctioned "authority" to commit atrocities against women and children. . . .At a national seminar I attended, one well-known Bible teacher said that even if a woman's husband beat her, she would be better off to "obey God," submit to the beatings, and even die than to leave him to seek relief!" page 75

15) "Even victims of such abuse find it difficult to conceive [that the abuse is real]." page 76

16) "Sexism permeates our evangelical culture. In some churches, it is intrinsic to certain doctrinal positions. The problem is both cultural and religious." page 79-80

17) "Another root problem in the evangelical church is misuse of the biblical ideal of submission." page 81

18) "However, for the woman who has no idea of what a healthy relationship of mutual submission looks like, let me outline a few characteristics:

1. Both partners live in a daily, personal voluntary submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. . .
2. Love is based on a deep, mutual respect as the guiding principle behind all decisions, actions, and plans. . .

3. Both partners are aware of their status as "heirs together" in Christ . . .Both recognize that the purpose of those gifts is to build up, through mutual submission, the body of Christ as well as their own relationship.

4. Natural abilities and talents of each individual. . . are a practical basis for delegating various roles and responsibilities in the home.

5. The emphasis is on a mature relationship between two adults, not on prescribed, arbitrary roles or functions into which each personality is forced to fit. The marriage is seen as a relationship rather than as a career or an organization.

6. Each person maintains their own God-given personal identity and personality. . .

7. The sexual relationship is not only procreative but it is one of joy, fun, fulfillment, and refreshment for both partners.

8. Intimacy and deep emotional closeness replaces game playing and role playing.

9. Honesty and fidelity are the cornerstones of healthy communication patterns, based on a deep, abiding trust in the other person and in Christ.

10. Decision-making is based on a process where both partners have a willingness to come to a mutually satisfying outcome. " pages 83-85

19) "He believes that the best way to keep his woman from leaving him is to cripple her emotionally, to limit her activities, and to keep her guessing psychologically." page 89
20) "He is incapable of seeing her as a separate human being." page 103

21) "This woman lets his personality overwhelm her and gives way to the force of his persona." page 103

22) "Recovery is a life-long process, so I urge you to let go of any perfectionist expectations you may have about accomplishing this in a few weeks." page 111

23) "The misogynist is happy with things as they are; he likes having the balance of power in his favor and sees no need for help." page 115-116

24) "The feelings that normally motivate change - sadness, guilt, remorse, anxiety - are not a significant part of his emotional experience." page 138

25) "Thus, even in a Christian context, the prognosis for repairing a misogynistic marriage is not very good." page 140

26) "The primary thing that the Christian community can do to change the misogynistic system is to break the silence about it." page 159

27) "Often those most vocally opposed to change regarding sexism are women who are afraid of change and of losing their martyr's role in society." page 161

28) "I am aware of two cases in which a misogynist, through charm and manipulation, deceived court-appointed psychologists and/or psychiatrists and persuaded them to grant him custody of the minor children." page 164

"Appendix E : What is Misogyny?

You may photocopy this appendix and Figure 1 for the purpose of sharing information about misogyny with a prospective counselor.

What is misogyny? The word is unfamiliar to most people. It comes for the Greek words misein, meaning to hate, and gune, meaning women. Literally, misogyny means the hatred of women. Misogyny entails a pattern of mental and emotional abuse in marital and male/female relationships. While misogynistic behavior can include physical abuse, it is usually much more subtle. Unlike the usual stereotype of men who hate women, such as wife beaters and rapists, the usual misogynistic male primarily uses emotional and mental weapons against his partner.

The partner of the misogynist is usually very bewildered. What happened to the man with whom she fell in love? After the honeymoon had ended, she realizes that she married not Romeo, but Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The fact is that women in misogynistic relationships are constantly dealing with a double-minded man. Her partner at times is charming, adoring, affable, and loving; the next moment he is likely to be controlling, mean-spirited, and cruel. The wife is likely to be so confused by the mixed messages of her relationship that she wonders if she is going crazy. She thinks that because he can behave so lovingly at times, that it must be her fault that he is not always that way. Women in these dysfunctional relationships are usually very codependent. When they are scapegoated by their spouses as being the cause of the problems in the relations - they tend to accept the blame.

Christian men who hate women (religious misogynists) are in some ways more dangerous and destructive in their behavior than their non-Christian counterparts. Secular misogynists do not have the powerful, additional arsenal of church doctrines, God-talk, and the sanctioning of male authority, which comes with the idea of Christian marriage. Christian women are often taught in the church or at home that they should "submit" to men "no matter what" because men are the "spiritual head" over women.

What is confusing to the woman is the double-sided nature of the man's behavior. He frequently acts one way at home and then presents a different face to the outside world. When he is at church or work, he is witty, kind, considerate. Often his wife finds that her pastor and friends at church do not believe her confessions of abuse because they never see his misogynistic side. This double-life factor keeps the wife and others off balance. She becomes convinced that if she would "just do what he says" or "try harder" or "be more loving" then he would be consistently kind and caring to her.

I have seen cases where psychologists, psychiatrists, and pastors have been totally fooled by the good-looking facade of these men. Misogynists are usually quite bright and quite capable of doing a snow-job to escape detection by a professional therapist. Even when a misogynist is confronted with evidence of his abusive behavior, he may respond saying, "I know I did that - but it's only because I needed to teach her a lesson. If she would just do as I say, everything would be fine."

Misogynists are unable to empathize with their wives' pain and distress. In fact, the pain of their partner seems to enrage them and feed their hatred. Here are some telltale signs of a misogynistic relationship:

1. The man assumes that it is his "God-given right" to control how his wife lives and behaves. Her needs, thoughts, feelings are not considered.
2. He uses God, the Bible, and church teachings to support his right to "tell her what to do," and demands that she "submit" to his desires, whims, decisions, or plans without question. There is no sense of mutuality or loving consideration. It's always his way, or no way.

3. He believes that a woman's beliefs, opinions, views, feelings, and thoughts are of no real value. He may discredit her opinions in general or specifically because she is a "daughter of Eve and easily deceived." Therefore, her opinions are of little consequence. Or alternatively, he may give lip service to the idea that his wife's opinions count for something, but then discount them one by one because they are not "logical."

4. The woman reports that her husband's behavior at home is strikingly different from his behavior at work or church. At home everyone "walks on eggs" out of fear of displeasing him or setting him off. When the wife points out the difference between his behavior at home and other places, he is likely to respond, "Oh, quit exaggerating! I'm not like that!"

5. The woman reports that when he is displeased and/or does not get his way, he yells and threatens, or sulks in angry silence. Yet the next day he acts as if "nothing" had happened, and is charming and sweet. No one can predict when he is going to switch from nice to nasty.

6. The woman finds that in her relationship with him, no matter how much she may try to improve, change, "grow in the Word," etc., she still feels inadequate, guilty, and somehow off-balance. She never knows what is going to set him off next, and no matter how much she prays, he never changes. She almost feels as if she must be "crazy," and she is sure it is her fault. Even when other relationships at work or school give her positive feedback and encouragement, she loses all her confidence and self-esteem when she returns home. No matter what she does to change and adapt to his demands, it is never enough. His demands always change and become unreasonable.

7. The husband remains blind to any fault or cruelty on his part. When anything goes wrong in the home or in the marital relationship, the problem is always the woman. If she would just be "more submissive" or "be filled with the Spirit" or "obey me like a good Christian wife," everything would be fine. He actually sees himself as virtuous for "putting up" with a woman like her. On the other hand, he can become unreasonably jealous if other people, particularly men, pay too much attention to his wife. Thus, the wife no longer feels free to associate with certain friends, groups, or family members because of her need to keep him happy. Even though these activities or people are important to her, she prefers avoiding them so that she can "keep the peace."

If you see a relationship that has most of these characteristics, you are dealing with a misogynist. If a pastor or counselor, you meet a woman who comes in for counseling and she describes a relationship that sounds like this, there is misogyny involved." pages 185-189
Figure 1: The Rinck Misogyny Continuum

Unconscious Foundation of Misogynistic Behavior: Shame and Fear of Abandonment

This produces a pattern of disrespect and hatred toward women. Misogyny lies on a continuum and is manifested at various levels of intensity, in various types of behaviors and attitudes. To one degree or another, all the types (I through IV) of Christian men who hate women use the Bible, church doctrine, and theological arguments to support their right to control women. He demands "submission" to his viewpoint: He discounts his wife's feelings, opinions, and thoughts. He acts charming one moment, then hostile and cruel the next. He frequently points out his wife's faults. He is unable to perceive his own shortcomings in the relationship.

Type 1 Misogynist (Mild):

No physical abuse of his partner. He uses indirect criticism; denies that he is abusive, protestations of love when confronted with his disrespectful behavior; extremely subtle, may use flattery to keep woman at his side. Uses logic to control situations. Outargues spouse, totally discounts woman's feelings and thoughts. He rarely loses his temper. He always looks as if he is in control, very reasonable. Out of touch with his own feelings.

Type II Misogynist:

Includes Type I behaviors plus more overt verbal tactics such as teasing, bullying, belittling, namecalling, obvious criticism, unfavorable comparison of partner with other woman. Uses nonverbal tactics such as pouting, the "silent treatment," dirty looks to show displeasure. May demand special attention. May be jealous of wife's attention to children or other relatives. May use temper tantrums to get his own way. Increase in intensity and frequency of behaviors over Type I.

Type III Misogynist:

Uses any of Type I and Type II behaviors plus the threat of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. More extreme in controlling social life, religious practices, finances, sexual interactions, and matters of daily living. Increase in intensity and frequency of behaviors over Types I and II.

Type IV Misogynist (Extreme):

Uses of any of Type I through type III behaviors plus physical and/or sexual abuse toward wife and possibly children. Level of intensity of abusive behavior is very high and poses a significant danger to the woman. Abusive style has become a deeply ingrained behavior. More extreme in controlling various areas of family life." page 22

Note: It took me probably 10 years of verbal/emotional abuse by a "true Christian" followed by reading probably 20 books on (feminist) theology to accept that there are committed "Christian" men who truly believe that they are given the moral right by God to "chastise" (read that "punish" ) any woman who comes into their path.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Elizabeth Packard-Victim of a Christian Misogynist Husband

Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (28 December 1816 – 25 July 1897) was an advocate for the rights of women and people accused of insanity.
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[edit] Life
At the insistence of her parents, Elizabeth Parsons Ware married the Reverend Theophilus Packard on 21 May 1839. The couple had six children. The family resided in Kankakee County, Illinois and, for many years, appeared to have a peaceful marriage.

But Theophilus Packard held quite decisive religious beliefs. After many years of marriage, Elizabeth Packard outwardly questioned her husband's beliefs and began expressing opinions that were contrary to his. While the main subject of their dispute was religion, the couple also disagreed on child rearing, family finances, and the issue of slavery.

When Illinois opened its first hospital for the mentally ill in 1851, the State Legislature passed a law that required a public hearing before a person could be committed against their will. There was one exception, however; a husband could have his wife committed without either a public hearing or her consent. In 1860, Theophilus Packard judged that his wife was "slightly insane" and arranged for a doctor, J.W. Brown, to speak with her. The doctor pretended to be a sewing machine salesman. During their conversation, Elizabeth complained of her husband's domination and his accusations to others that she was insane. Dr Brown reported this conversation to Theophilus (along with the observation that Mrs Packard "exhibited a great dislike to me"). Theophilus decided to have Elizabeth committed. She learned of this decision on June 18, 1860, when the county sheriff arrived at the Packard home to take her into custody.

Elizabeth Packard spent the next three years at the Illinois State Hospital at Jacksonville, IL. She was regularly questioned by the doctors but refused to agree that she was insane or to change her religious views. In 1863, in part due to pressure from her children who wished her released, the doctors declared that she was incurable and discharged her.

Theophilus still believed that his wife was insane. When she was returned to the family home, he took her clothes away and had her boarded up inside her room. However, while the law allowed a husband to have his wife committed to an asylum, it was illegal for a husband to keep his wife locked up in her own home. Elizabeth was able to throw a letter out a window to a friend. A writ of habeas corpus was filed on her behalf.

[edit] Packard v. Packard
At the subsequent trial of Packard v. Packard[1], Theophilus' lawyers produced witnesses from his family who testified that Elizabeth had argued with her husband and tried to withdraw from his congregation. These witnesses concurred with the Reverend that this was a sign of insanity. The record from the Illinois State Hospital stating that Mrs Packard's condition was incurable was also entered into the court record.

Elizabeth's lawyers, Stephen Moore and John W. Orr, responded by calling witnesses from the neighbourhood that knew the Packards but were not members of the Reverend's church. These witnesses testified they never saw Elizabeth exhibit any signs of insanity, while discussing religion or otherwise. The final witness was Dr. Duncanson, who was both a physician and a theologian. Dr. Duncanson had interviewed Elizabeth Packard and he testified that while not necessarily in agreement with all her religious beliefs..."I do not call people insane because they differ with me. I pronounce her a sane woman and wish we had a nation of such women."

The jury took only seven minutes to find in Elizabeth Packard's favor. She was legally declared sane, and Judge Charles Starr issued an order that she should not be confined.

[edit] Life after the trail
Elizabeth did not return to her home. While the Packards never formally divorced, they remained separated for the rest of their lives. Elizabeth did stay close to her children and retained their support.

Elizabeth realized how narrow her legal victory had been. While she had escaped confinement, it was largely a measure of luck. The underlying social principles which had led to her confinement still existed. She founded the Anti-Insane Asylum Society and published several books, including Marital Power Exemplified, or Three Years Imprisonment for Religious Belief (1864), Great Disclosure of Spiritual Wickedness in High Places (1865), The Mystic Key or the Asylum Secret Unlocked (1866), and The Prisoners' Hidden Life, Or Insane Asylums Unveiled (1868).[2] In 1867, the State of Illinois passed a "Bill for the Protection of Personal Liberty" which guaranteed all people accused of insanity, including wives, had the right to a public hearing. She also saw similar laws passed in three other states.

[edit] References
^ The prisoners' hidden life, or, Insane asylums unveiled: as demonstrated by the report of the Investigating committee of the legislature of Illinois, together with Mrs. Packard's coadjutors' testimony (1868), digitized copy on the Internet Archive site, contributed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[edit] Literary uses
Barbara Hambly refers to Mrs. Packard in some detail in her novel on the insanity of Mary Todd Lincoln. Emily Mann wrote a play on Mrs Packard, which premiered in May 2007.

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading
Levison, Jennifer Rebecca (2003), "Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard: An Advocate for Cultural, Religious, and Legal Change", Alabama Law Review 54 (3), doi:10.2139/ssrn.406821, .
Packard, Elizabeth,The Prisoners' Hidden Life Or Insane Asylums Unveiled (1868) Kessinger Publishing, LLC (February 21, 2008) ISBN 978-0548837412.
Packard, Elizabeth, Marital Power Exemplified in Mrs. Packard's Trial Fred B Rothman & Co (October 1994) ISBN 978-0837725529
Sapinsley, Barbara (1991), The Private War of Mrs. Packard, Saint Paul, Minnesota, pp. 220, ISBN 978-1557783301,
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