I arrived at the event, praying for wisdom, for Betty, and for her family. Amy, Cathy, and a couple of other friends were all there.
After we’d all gotten our kids into a reasonable holding pattern, I asked Betty about her new job. It sounded great–like a really, really good job, especially for a woman that’s been out of the workforce for ten years!
I congratulated her, and she said, “Well, Amy told me that I just have to trust God for what’s happening in my life right now, that he has a reason for all of this stuff happening, and I need to figure out what He’s trying to teach me.”
(Really? Amy said this?? My friend Amy??)
“The thing is,” she continued, “I’m concerned, because I’ll be working 30 hours a week, and my husband really expects everything to be perfect with the house. He doesn’t think he should do any housework, and I don’t know how I’m going to live up to this standard.”
Now, Cathy then shared several comments that stood out in bias relief to me. Since kids were coming up and interrupting, and I was feeding my baby, I’m not 100% sure everything is verbatim, or in it’s proper context.
“Well, God really showed me this past year that marriage isn’t supposed to make us happy, it’s supposed to make us holy.I mean, we can’t look to the world, and do marriage how the world wants us to do it. God will show you a way. Besides, I don’t know any man that wants to clean house. They expect this of us.”
I THANK GOD for sunglasses, because I probably had a scream showing on.my.face, even though it wasn’t coming through my vocal chords. I had no idea what to say. “Cathy, you’re full of ****?” Or maybe, “I think you’re misapplying scripture here?” How on earth was I supposed to address the perverse mishandling of God’s word in this moment, in a party, with a bottle in my baby’s mouth?
My alter-ego, at TaylorJoyRecovers (my pseudonym that came before the Parody Twitter account) has been blogging about certain “Theological Loose Screws”–misapplied, twisted doctrines– that come into play when certain churches deal with abuse. Over our two encounters with Betty, I’d now watched ALL of these perverted beliefs spoken over this woman!
1) Abuse of authority: God set up an authority, so He intends for me to follow it, regardless of what the person in authority does.
2) Presuppositionalism: Christians have more knowledge than those “in the world,” because we have the Holy Spirit.
3) Predestination of Everything: God willed this to happen to me, and will somehow work it for my good.
(I haven’t finished these other posts yet, but let’s say I’m more motivated now.)
4) Sin-Leveling: I’m a sinner worthy of hell anyway. Who am I to judge my abuser? Both of our sin nailed Christ to the cross.
5) Mountains out of Molehills: Are you serving your husband? Cooking for him? Is the house clean? Have you gained weight? Are you going to church? This could directly impact your quality of life–or even your salvation.
6) The Sociopathic Concept of God: Hey, if God destroys whole cities to show His glory, what’s my life in the grand scheme of things? I can suffer for God’s purposes.
I’m not saying that there’s no Scriptural authority, or that God doesn’t work all things together for our good–I’m saying that these doctrines are layered, one on top of the other, to keep a woman like Betty with her abuser. They trap her into a circular mode of reasoning, where separation is unthinkable, but physical/emotional/financial/verbal/sexual abuse is forgivable.
On the way home, I called Amy. We had a detailed, hour-long conversation about the things she and Cathy had said to Betty. Did she actually imply that God willed it for Betty to be abused? Did she understand that Cathy was not properly handling God’s word?
I’ll have to put that in a part 3. I’m so exhausted right now that I can hardly think. I also sent a letter to my pastor and one other elder, and will put their response in another post as well.