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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

A taboo topic in Christian circles
Date Posted: December 15, 2013

Over on, my dear sister in Christ, Julianne, of Family Blueprint, had posted an article that sheds some light on something that is truly shocking. The article is no longer there, but I have a copy of some of it here.

I have suffered through co-dependency. I have seen friends of mine suffer this. Women have emailed me after reading about my co-dependency on my blog, so from my perspective, it may seem more prevalent than it really is. On the other hand, abuse toward women in the church is more prevalent than people would like to think. It doesn't just happen to wives. Women in church leadership roles, and in church service roles suffer a more muted, but just as poisonous, level of abuse. I just want the awareness of this to be heightened! So, thank you Julianne for bringing this to the front burner.

Julianne's article:

There is a book out by Zondervan Publishers Christian Men Who Hate Women, by Margaret Rinck.

I know this does not apply to many of our brothers in Christ (and I am so grateful to know some of you as truly godly men), so please don't take this wrong if you are not one of these misogynists, just let this go. But for those of you (men or women) who live in denial of what some women go through in a home and keep telling them to just submit and respect their husband and he will come around...that is so wrong in this case.

There are very sick men out there who are dangerous. Sure if a man is what we consider a "good" man in his nature...there is hope that if he gets saved he will be even better, but if he is mentally sick in his perceptions...being sweet, quiet, and submissive just make this type of man more abusive and sinful. These type of sick men are more attracted to conservative Christianity where women are taught to be submissive. They often even seek leadership positions because they thrive on power over others.

We as a body need to WAKE UP and quit telling these women if they are truly godly they will stay in this mess and it will get better. We need to quit thinking these women are martyrs for good, when the children in these homes often grow up with a hatred of God because of what they lived through this type of man, by keeping the mother in that situation. That is not a martyr when we sacrifice the children. We need to support these women and children emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We need to quit enabling this kind of man from continuing to hurt women in the ways the church has encouraged this kind of behavior unknowingly. We need to take our blinders off. I am watching more and more women go through things that the Bible has given a way of escape, but those around them have convinced them godliness is putting up with the constant abuse that destroys the wife and children emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically too. Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting Relationships Margaret J. Rinck Zondervan Publishing House, 1990 To read excerpts of the book:

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

"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

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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