A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Widows and Orphans of Our Time

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

There are literal widows and orphans today who need our help. Widows who are widows indeed, without even family members to care for them.  But this biblical category of people who are particularly near to the Lord’s heart – widows and orphans – is much, much broader than most Christians have realized.  In response to our post of Scriptures that speak to this issue, Belle commented:

“Couldn’t all the passages that speak about caring for the fatherless apply to children who do indeed have a living father, but he doesn’t protect and teach like a father, but rather hurts them?  They have a biological father, but who would debate that they don’t really have a protector and nurturer.  Wouldn’t most everybody agree that we as a country do right to remove children from dangerous situations and place them in a safe home?   So, when the Bible speaks of caring for the fatherless and widows, I’m wondering if the woman who has a husband who doesn’t love her, but abuses her, might she fit under the category of widow?  She has a husband, but no one to love and care for her.”

Belle is EXACTLY correct!  Here we are, looking all around us for widows and orphans, and yet we miss them.  They are right in front of us – many sitting in the pews of our own churches.  We are fooled, just because there is a man with them.  But he is no husband or father.  He is their tormentor from whom they need rescue.  If that sounds anti-marriage and family to anyone, it is!  But be sure your head isn’t all turned around in regard to just who is anti-marriage and family here.  It isn’t us.  It isn’t the wife and her children.  It is the abuser.  And we have for far too long succumbed to his promotion of the notion that the sole enemy of marriage and family is radical feminism.  Who or what is more dangerous to the families within our churches?  Radical feminists who make no claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word, or the pious, eminent “saint” of a man sitting in our church, even perhaps leading our church, wearing a façade of the name of Christ, yet in reality lording his power and control over his wife and children as Pharaoh lorded it over the enslaved Israelites? The answer should be obvious.  The real threat lies within.  In fact, there is more truth among radical feminists about the evils of abuse than there will ever be in the mind and mouth of the abuser who claims to follow Christ.

Worse yet, these “Pharaohs” have recruited us.  We, the members of Christ’s body, have blindly accepted the abuser’s masquerade and his accusations against his victims.  He has issued us the whips of legalistic bondage through his perversions of the Scriptures, and we are far too often his allies in this oppression.  Can I hear protests?  “Oh, that is way harsh!  You exaggerate!  There is no way it is like that!”

Ask the slaves.  Scroll through the comments to the articles on this blog and read their stories first hand.  And then –

Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

16 Comments

  1. No. You are not exaggerating.

    Those who call themselves by the name of Christ are going to have a lot to answer for.

  2. Joey

    I do feel like a widow, probably worse, because he WILLINGLY and INTENTIONALLY left me after 30 years, when I stood up for my safety after years of drunken physical and verbal abuse. If he had died it would have hurt far less, at least I could have believed he loved me and might have gotten to heaven. Instead, he left me for the bottle and is now killing himself and abusing everyone around him to the point that most of his own family won’t have anything to do with him. He was the love of my life, but the real “him” died a long time ago. His body lives on, but his soul is full of demons, and that grieves me deeply!

    • Sheryl

      “Instead, he left me for the bottle and is now killing himself and abusing everyone around him to the point that most of his own family won’t have anything to do with him. He was the love of my life, but the real him died a long time ago. His body lives on, but his soul is full of demons, and that grieves me deeply!”
      For sure! The irony is that recently he stated that he is the same person he has always been but others around him have changed and not realized it. Au contraire, the one I once knew died long ago. He has not spoken to our daughter since November when she left for another country after he had put her in a choke hold…which he completely denies and is going after her for hospital costs since authorities were called and he almost had a 5150. He blew a .317 he was so drunk. No charges as our daughter didn’t press any for the chokehold and he was at his residence so no charges for being drunk.
      26 years of marriage yet he left me so very long ago for his addictions……that unwillingness of the abuser to have meaningful intimacy with anyone is crazymaking in itself. Even so, I now still grieve for his demon controlled soul as I see the awful, awful price that his addictions have cost him and he blindly stumbles on down that path of self-destruction. For the time our son is by his side, but I believe the day will come when he burns that bridge too.
      Mine didn’t do the filing in my situation, I filed for separation as there was infidelity too. He responded with divorce………….yes, he had left so very long ago and didn’t give a rip of how his choices affected me/us.
      Sheryl

  3. J. Ann

    Jeff, you are exactly right. How could the “churches” get it so wrong and backwards? If I wasn’t crying, it would almost be funny. I lived under that false teaching for 40+ years. I was considered respectable (as long as I pretended that everything was OK) because our legal marriage contract was not broken by legal divorce, even though it was an abusive and empty marriage. My daughters were treated as second-class, because of their divorces. In recent years they were treated much better and ministered to by some of the women in our local church, but not really treated as equals.

    • Jeff Crippen

      In some cases, pastors and Christians and churches are going to hear our Cry for Justice. Some. In others, it is like trying to put new wine in old wineskins. The old traditions just can’t handle it. So new wineskins are in order. If it requires the planting of new churches, so be it. Forty years? Well then, you can identify with Moses! Like him, the Lord prepared you in that wilderness and this era of your Christian life may be turning out to be the most productive of all.

  4. Robin

    Belle, you ask a question that I have asked as well. I often feel akin to a widow. The only adult male influence in my children’s lives is an abusive father, who rarely spends time with them, but when he does he manipulates their tender hearts. I and my children have no family close by – no uncles, no grandfathers, no cousins that can be a godly example for my children. I feel left alone by those in the church (and they are aware of our family situation). And, I am not the only woman in our church that has been abused, nor the only woman to have been abandoned by her husband. Where are the godly men that are willing to become a part of these fatherless children’s lives to be an example for them, to show them a “man after God’s own heart?” Understand, I am not seeking a husband or a step-father for my children, but men that can influence and mentor my children, and demonstrate for them a true Christian faith that reflect’s God’s love for them.

  5. … and not all feminists are radical 😉

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right, Morven. In fact, every Christian should be a feminist in the sense of being a humanist – ie, pro-human being! Unfortunately in most of our conservative circles, “feminist” or “humanist” immediately carries the connotation of anti-Christian. Maybe we need a new term. Hmmm….. pro-victim/innocent/ – but then you need to have the idea of the positive aspects of being human, male, or female. Will have to think on that for a bit.

  6. Widows
    When I was researching for my book I found that both words for “widow” ( the Hebrew and the NT Greek) meant simply “a woman bereft of a husband”.
    That means a woman whose husband has died (our English definition), PLUS these other kinds of women:
    – a woman whose husband is alive but is not protecting and caring for her like he should (for instance, a victim of domestic abuse)
    – a woman whose husband is alive but has deserted her
    – a woman who is divorced but not remarried
    – a woman who has never married and therefor does not have the protection of a husband, but is not a young woman living under the protection of her father or elder brother
    – it could even mean, in the 1st century culture, a woman whose husband was absent on a long journey or for military service, so she did not have his protection and support. These days, with technology and rapid travel, this kind of separation does not put a woman at such risk as it did in ancient times.

    This biblically correct definition of “widow” is another thing the contemporary church likes to overlook. These days, if your husband has died, you get all sorts of kindness and warmth from the church, but if you are divorced, or (cripes) being abused by the man who lives under your roof and calls himself your husband, then you are likely to be subtly judged, shunned and neglected. After all the rest of the congregation wouldn’t want to pick up your contagion, would they?
    (This is copied from where I wrote it at the earlier post where Belle first made her observation about widows.)

    • Belle

      This is very interesting, Barbara. Thanks for reposting it. I had never known the Biblical word for widow was so broad!

    • .
      Barbara,
      .
      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you …
      for sharing this insight with the world!
      .
      For literally years — I have tried to get people to understand
      that — (biblically-speaking) the term “widow” was not ‘limited’
      to solely applying to ‘women whose husbands had either died
      or abandoned them” and that — (biblically-speaking) the term
      “orphan” was not’limited’ to solely applying to ‘children
      whose parents had either died or abandoned them”.
      .
      After having my fill of the many years of sitting and silently
      (having been taught that women were to “remain silent)
      observing “conservative” christians and churches openly,
      publicly, hypocritically & continually ‘condemn’ (in the most
      ‘pharisaic’ manner possible) the very existence of so-called
      “illigitimate” children (their words, not mine —- as my belief
      is that every child created has a very “legitimate” right-to-exist,
      including those children who happen to have exited the womb
      ‘out-of-wedlock’) —- and their “single mothers” (regardless of
      the fact that most of these mothers were rearing their child in
      “the fear and admonition of the Lord) of the nation and world
      — and were also constantly laying ‘blame’ for nearly all of our
      society’s-evils at the very feet and on the very existence of
      such individuals (all while strangely minimizing the role of the
      ‘fornication’ or ‘adultery’ that created such circumstances) …
      I began to make it very clear that I felt that the very people that
      “the church” was both Targeting and Bullying (i.e. ‘Children with
      No-Fathers’ and ‘Women with No-Husbands’ — including women
      who had never been married –whether they were still virgins or
      had even been in an intimate-relationship and even had a child)
      were actually meant to be “included” as part of the “orphans
      and widows” group that the Bible makes so clear that God
      holds near to His heart and that “the church” was to “visit”
      (with protection, love, guidance, acceptance, care, etc.).
      .
      The reaction that I received was one of complete hostility
      — with some people even going so far (due to my sincere
      conviction that “the church” should not “pick on” the so-called
      “illigitimate” children and the “unwed” mothers as well as my
      refusal to engage in such activity) as to falsely imply (and, in
      some cases, make the outright false accusation) that I, therefore,
      “supported” the “fruit” or fornication, adultery and broken-homes
      (which was the term such ‘congregations’ used to describe the
      families that had met with divorce — in spite of the fact that, in
      some cases, the divorce is what ‘kept the actual-family together).
      .
      Meanwhile, the ‘congregations’ continued to worship at the alter
      of the “idol” of the “male-headed-household-nuclear-family” and
      (falsely) accuse (and make a ‘suspect’ of) every “single-woman”
      as being ‘secretly-after’ any and all the married men in the area
      (even the most ‘chaste’ and conservative was a ‘suspect’) and
      (falsely) accuse or imply that every “single-man” was secretly
      fornicating or living as a closet-homosexual (as there could be
      no other possible reason for them to be both single and chaste)
      — and, in many cases, simply “mocking” (or otherwise disdaining)
      the whole idea of “singlehood” or “fatherlessness” as a sure sign
      of being “out of favor” (or even “out of fellowship”) with the Lord.
      .
      So often “christians” will pretend to ‘question’ why the ‘divorced’;
      ‘abused’; ‘neglected’; ‘abandoned’; never-marrieds’; & ‘illigitimate’
      avoid even allowing their shadows to touch the church door — and
      yet to never “seems” to dawn on them that … no group want to be
      treated like the “untouchables” of the pagan-caste systems (and
      especially not “in the name of Jesus” or “for the cause of Christ”)
      and that … by targeting, bullying and further adding to the abuse
      and afflictions of the very people for whom the Bible has made it
      clear that God holds a special place in His heart, will and plans
      (i.e. the “orphans” and “widows”) — they are actually living in
      disobedience to God’s word, command. will and plan and are,
      themselves, truly in need of sincere repentance on this matter.
      .
      The so-called “church” of these “last days” will have much to
      “give an account for” at the Judgment Seat of Christ on this
      and so many other choices that it has made concerning the
      lives of those who are abused, afflicted and over burdened.
      .
      — AP Gifts
      (soaptalk AT hotmail DOT com)
      .

      • thanks much, Allpeople Gifts! One day when I get time (when will that be, Lord?) I will search out those pages I photocopied from the lexicons in the theological libraries, where I found out that info about the meaning of the word “widow”.

  7. I am a Women from Kenya and in my Church i am helping Ophans and Widows, so i need your prayes.

  8. arwen2002

    This is obviously a great post and some very good points were made. There’s another point of view I would like to point out as well. It is certainly true that the majority of abusers are men and that there are multitudes of divorced single mothers out there who are single and raising their children on their own due to the abuse and abandonment of the husbands and fathers in the picture, or women and children who are still living in homes where they are bereft of a husband and father because of his abuse. But even though it is the fatherless (and widows) who are mentioned and given concern many times throughout the Bible, I for one want to point out that in situations like mine (where my egg donor was the abuser and not my dad), the impact of having to grow up as a motherless child, I firmly believe, is every bit as devastating as it is for children in the world (including adult children) who are fatherless (either through the father’s death or his abandonment/neglect/abuse). It’s the exact same story for all abuse victims and survivors like me who, like with the people growing up with abusive fathers, have biological mothers in the picture who both WILLINGLY AND KNOWINGLY refuse to be REAL mothers to their children. Even though the motherless (and the widowers) are not mentioned in those key Bible verses, I think they, too, can be included in this train of thought, because I believe that God has always been fully aware of the devastating impact of a neglectful and abusive mother (and wife) but only mentioned the fatherless and the widows because of all the incredible power men held in human society in that day in age. Back in those days, if women and children were without a husband or father or any kind of male protector, they were sunk and had virtually NO source of financial support and income whatsoever, so the impact of the loss of a husband and father was a tougher blow back then than it would have been concerning the loss of a wife and mother. (Plus, polygamy was very common in those days too, and I imagine that in such a patriarchal society, new wives were probably very easy to come by if a guy didn’t already have more than one, so it was likely very uncommon for a husband to be without a wife and a mother or stepmother for his children.) But that’s obviously not the case in most of human society today, and I think that for the few widowers back in Biblical days who, for whatever reason, couldn’t find another woman to remarry and be a stepmother to their kids, or who actually did have abusive and neglectful wives who refused to properly care for their children, and for the people in similar situations nowadays as well, those verses can equally apply.

    • I think the points you make are all very valid, Arwen.

  9. joy

    You are precisely right, Jeff. I think people convince themselves that the descriptions of their own abuse are exagerated because they compare their own suffering from abuse to those whom society deems as so much worse than their own. Abuse is abuse, no matter what way, shape or form it takes.

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