“He always apologized, and sometimes he would even cry because of the bruises he'd made on her arms or legs or her back. He would say that he hated what he'd done, but in the next breath tell her she'd deserved it. That if she'd been more careful, it wouldn't have happened. That if she'd been paying attention or hadn't been so stupid, he wouldn't have lost his temper.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven link
Update on Dee's situation: Lou is coming home from Rehab. This is very good. Although Lou and my mom will still need lots of help, having them close by will help me gain about 3 hours in my day. So hopefully my participation will increase in the coming week. Thank you all for being so understanding.
Although we want to continue to give you some updates on Gospel for Asia(GFA), we felt it is an important to the mission of this blog to promptly report on a developing situation that deals with domestic violence and a well known religious figure. The circumstances surrounding this situation have been debated and we wanted to add our thoughts on the matter.
Here three stories as told to me by the victims, friends and/or family.
1. One man, a church leader in a Reformed Baptist church, was abusive to his wife on numerous occasions. When he realized she was going to go to the church and ask for help, he set up a situation in the home, complete with hidden video recorder, to *prove* that she was an angry woman. He showed this to the leaders before she came for help. He told the leaders he needed help in dealing with her. They refused to believe her side of the story. She was to be disciplined. She left the church. He divorced her with the approval of the leaders. He immediately began dating again.
2. A health professional (and church member), with knowledge of a number of domestic violence episodes in a well known church which has a pastor on the board of TGC, asked to place a few signs in the women's bathroom with the contact number of a well respected domestic violence hotline. Said pastor absolutely refused to do so.
3. An assistant pastor's wife, mother to their several little children, was being physically abused. Her parents convinced her to leave the home with the children. They then called the lead pastor and asked him to deal with his abusive assistant pastor. He refused to do so unless she and the children returned to the home. Thankfully the wife refused to do so and she divorced him. The church was never told the story. Oh yeah, this lead pastor is hugely supportive of TGC and CBMW and well known to them.
Owen Strachan and the Council of Biblical™ Manhood and Womanhood says the church deals really well with domestic violence.
Special thanks to Julie Ann Smith for copying these into a post.
I think Owen Strachan does not understand the reality in many churches and I am talking about his kind of churches. The first call we ever got on this blog was from a pregnant woman in Georgia who was being beat up by her husband. Her pastor, of another Reformed Baptist church, told her she had to return to him. We talked her out of that and told her where to seek help.
Oh, and TGC/CBMW isn't the only group that has issues. Paige Patterson is notorious for bragging about sending a woman home to her abusive husband and getting two black eyes! Hallelujah! Don't believe me? From our post
Patterson's message sounds like the same old, same old; and we have little hope that anything will ever change. Remember, this is the Christian leader who told a wife who was being physically abused by her husband the following: (audio link)
“I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy."
"And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis. And remember, when nobody else can help, God can.
And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him. Obviously, if he's doing that kind of thing he's got some very deep spiritual problems in his life, and you have to pray that God brings into intersection of his life those people and those events that need to come into his life to arrest him and bring him to his knees."
And, of course, there is TGC's much admired Doug Wilson who recently wrote in Moving Out of Range
Often intractable marriage problems are also opaque. She reports his abusive behavior to the elders or pastor and the husband denies it. It is now a did too/did not situation. When that happens, it is not possible to excommunicate the husband on the testimony of his wife, any more than it would be lawful to go the other way and excommunicate the wife on the strength of his word. You cannot do this because sometimes men lie and other times women do. Scripture teaches that two or three witnesses are necessary in order to excommunicate anyone.
Oh yeah, and she can't divorce because he might repent. And even if he doesn't and she divorces his sorry butt, she can never remarry because it's against the Bible. Besides, it is only a he said/she said situation. Does he care about what really happens out there in churchville? Oh yeah, he's the guy who thought it was a good idea to marry a pedophile off to a young woman. Stupid me.
Some important statistics
From the American Bar Association:
Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims
Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.
Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.
50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.
The percentage of women who lie about violence is quite low.
To date, the MAD study is the only research conducted in the U.S. to evaluate the percentage of false reports made to law enforcement.The remaining evidence is therefore based on research conducted out- side the U.S., but it all converges within the same range of 2-8%.
So, what am I leading up to?
Who is Pastor Saeed Abedini?
Here is a quick history from Wikipedia.
Saeed Abedini (Persian: سعيد عابديني, born 7 May 1980) is an Iranian American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and initially incarcerated in Evin Prison in September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through private religious gatherings in Christian homes in Iran in the early 2000s. In November 2013, the Iranian government transferred Abedini to Rajai Shahr prison, just outside of Karaj, Iran.
There has been a concerted effort to free Pastor Saeed amongst both Christians and justice groups.
After a short family visitation today at Rajaei Shahr prison in Iran, Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, heard disturbing news about possible new charges being brought against Pastor Saeed. Over the years, the Iranian government continually promised that Pastor Saeed’s eight-year-prison sentence could be arbitrarily extended, and yesterday they took their first steps to fulfill that promise.
Yesterday in Iran, Iranian intelligence officers summoned Pastor Saeed for an intense round of interrogation. Pastor Saeed reported to his family that the interrogators were abusive both verbally and physically. During the course of interrogation, the officers repeatedly used a taser gun on Pastor Saeed. This new assault is concerning as Pastor Saeed is still being denied needed medical care for injuries sustained as a result of beatings in the past.
The interrogators threatened that Pastor Saeed will face new criminal charges. They claimed Pastor Saeed has connections with anti-government groups and has made statements and taken actions against the government of Iran. Pastor Saeed denied all of these allegations, and once again asserted that he is apolitical and that he has never threatened the security of, made any statements against, or taken any action against the Government of Iran.
Petitions have been sent to President Obama (who has met with the family), members of Congress and the United Nations in an attempt to secure his release. On each Wednesday, a number of people send out reminder tweets to Pray for Pastor Saeed. I have happily retweeted them.
Nagemeh Abedini: Pastor Saeed's wife.
Nobody has been more of an effective mouthpiece for the Free Saeed movement than his lovely wife Naghmeh Abedini who is the mother of his two children. Here is a report she gave about a visit she had with Pastor Saeed in prison.
The visit was bittersweet. The loss of his dear Grandma in the last few weeks and not being able to say his last goodbyes at her funeral, the sense of loss of missing out on seeing his kids go to their first days of school, and especially missing out on Rebekka’s 9th birthday, has taken its toll on Saeed.
It was too painful for him to see pictures of how much his baby girl had grown up since he last saw her, from the 5-year-old little girl to the 9-year-old young lady she has become. A different kind of maturity covered his baby girl’s face. A maturity that spoke of painful, tear-stained nights. The picture his family took to show Saeed told him of a girl who was trying to be strong and brave for her daddy. Many tears were shed and stories shared. So many stories that Saeed struggled to remember his babies and our family, memories that the prison walls were slowly stealing from him. So many new memories were trying to form about what the kids liked to do now and how they had changed over the years. Saeed tried hard to hold on to something to take back to the prison once the visit was over; something Rebekka said; or something Jacob did.
Saeed was told of the prayer vigils that are happening on September 26th, which marks his third anniversary in prison. Told that he was not forgotten. His face lit up and he was encouraged to hear that so many are praying for him. He was encouraged to know that a date that brought so much pain had become a day when Christians united together to pray for him and the persecuted church.
A stunning admission: Naghmeh Abedini recently claimed that Pastor Saeed was an abuser as well as user of pornography and that she was stepping away from the public temporarily.
Last week, Christianity Today reported that Naghmeh was stepping away from her advocacy for her imprisoned husband.
For the past three years Naghmeh Abedini has publicly battled her husband’s captors, advocating for his release from an Iranian jail.
Behind the scenes, she also struggled with his inner demons.
Last week, the emotional distress of doing both finally proved too much, she said.
In two emails to supporters, Abedini revealed details of her troubled marriage to Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012.
Those troubles include “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography),” she wrote. The abuse started early in their marriage and has worsened during Saeed’s imprisonment, she said. The two are able to speak by phone and Skype.
Touring the country to advocate for Saeed’s release while coping with marital conflict proved too much, she wrote. She told supporters she’s withdrawing from public life for a time of prayer and rest.
However, she asks everyone to still pray for his release.
Pastor Saeed supporters reacted with disbelief.
Many of Pastor Saeed's followers expressed both concern and doubt, even stating that this report was not true and questioning her motives. Julie Ann Smith asked an awesome question on Twitter. I did not take a screen shot but it went something like this.
"Why would you automatically believe a pastor in prison over his wife?"
Good question indeed and one that had me pondering for quite awhile.
Why did she wait until now to report this? The answer will most likely demonstrate why Strachanand CBMW is wrong about how the church responds to domestic violence.
In a post published today, Timothy Morgan at Religion News Services attempted to answer this question.
Why do evangelical women wait so long before reporting abuse?
Research shows that domestic abuse survivors in general are less likely to receive extensive public support through their local church. According to a 2014 poll from LifeWay Research, about two-thirds of Protestant pastors address domestic abuse from the pulpit once a year or less. Additional research from LifeWay found that only 25 percent of surveyed pastors consider abuse or sexual violence an issue within their congregation.
Once again, CBMW and Owen Strachan stick their heads in the sand, refusing to see what so many see. This is one reason why complementarianism will not capture the hearts of women because they do not see the plight of abused women (and let's not forget children) in the church.
The church's response to abuse is to make the woman feel ashamed for mentioning it.
“Many churches appropriately stress the importance of marriage and family, but some churches wrongly teach that a wife’s primary role in life is to protect their husband’s or family’s reputation,” said Holcomb, the Episcopal priest. “Because of this emphasis, those experiencing abuse in their relationship may feel ashamed because they believe they failed in their relationship,” Holcomb said.
Women in the church experience isolation and shame surrounding this abuse, despite what CBMW claims about their advocacy for women.
“Many who suffer domestic abuse feel lots of shame, are blamed by others, and do not tell anyone,” said Justin Holcomb, a Florida Episcopal priest and seminary professor who co-authored with his wife Lindsey “Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence.”
“Christian women, in particular, stay far longer in abusive situations and in more severe abuse than their non-Christian counterparts,” he added.
Sadly, according to Fox News, Naghmeh reported that this abuse has gone on even during the Skype conversations she has had with Saeed while he has been in prison.
She also spoke about "physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed's addiction to pornography)," which, she disclosed, started in the early days of their marriage and increased during her husband's imprisonment in 2012 as they spoke on phone and Skype.
I believe Naghmeh. It is extremely difficult to admit to a marriage filled with abuse, particularly when the Christian world which is watching you and expecting you to be a "good wife." I believe that she reached the end of her emotional rope and could no longer keep up the charade. She is a courageous women in many, many ways.
I also believe that the evangelical church, and, in particular, complementarian churches (both Reformed and not) have stuck their heads in the sand for far too long. It is time to wake up and support the abused and stop pretending that the church has led in this area. When CBMW and Owen Strachan make unprovable statements, it is time to call them on it. I am waiting for Strachan and friends to release a statement that they support Naghmeh. I bet they side step this one, big time, like they have in the past.
Here is Fix You By Coldplay sung by an elderly gentleman from Young@Heart. This group is becoming well known and I think you will see why. This elderly man died two years after this was recorded. Try to watch it without tears.