In this current political and economic climate, it has become a national past-time to point fingers at whichever class of society we feel is the source of all of our hardships. Depending on our political persuasions, we are either inclined to point fingers at society’s “irresponsible dregs” (i.e. – everyone on welfare, especially single mothers) or the people we think are too rich and powerful (i.e. anyone who has a business payroll & wears a suit).
For our purpose here at ACFJ, I want to shine a light on the former attitude, while acknowledging that any viewpoint that puts all of the blame for the world’s problems at the feet of any one group of people is wrong. As believers we know that the world’s problems are caused by sin, and every person has a sin nature. This evil attitude of entitlement that we face in abusers and wife beaters knows no class boundary – it is a major sin of the heart and it is present in the people at the bottom of the social classes all the way to the top. (cough Middle Class)
Every time I see a single mother make a heartfelt comment online about her tremendous difficulties, she is met with horrible responses such as:
“My tax dollars paid for your kids’ free school lunches and public babysitting and food stamps — you’re welcome.”
“If your life is so hard than don’t be a single mom.”
“I guess you should have picked a better husband.”
In response I’ve seen people jump in and say “well yes that’s true, but widows can’t help it if their husband died.” (This is where widows jump in and make sure that everyone validates their own hardship, while all those “other single moms” can go jump off a bridge.)
I have seen a similar attitude displayed even by people who claim to be Believers. Now granted, it’s dicey to assume that someone saying cruel things to the poor is genuinely a Christian, as we have all witnessed in our own lives people who pretend to be Christians (and the accompanying abuse). But let’s just consider genuine Christians who feel that single mothers are one of the causes of all that is wrong with society – because this is a very widespread belief. It is made more ugly by the current financial stress that everyone is feeling.
This was one of the many things I was afraid of before my husband left. I didn’t want to end up in this class of women and children who are dismissed as “less than” everyone else. I knew instinctively that I was going to be judged a failure in certain quarters. I’ve had to examine some previous attitudes in my own heart, about judgments I made before I had to walk in these shoes. Pharisees — there but for the grace of God, go I.
Here are some truths that I have experienced in a big new way:
- When Jesus said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” – that means my money (or lack of it) does not matter. God has control over everything: our government, our tax rates, our employment, and our very survival. If God allows us to be ruled by bad men who grind us into poverty — then that is what He has allowed. But for believers, our hope is in Jesus. Our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus. Our money belongs to Jesus. (I am not thinking of tithing rules here, by the way. I’m thinking of that poor woman in my community who needs emergency food or home repairs.)
- “Personal responsibility” is not our religion. It is ONE component (a natural outgrowth) of being a righteous man or woman. But it is impossible to “take responsibility” for our every circumstance. For victims who have had the misery of trying to get child support from their Abuser, we know it is impossible to force evil men to take responsibility for anything! No court system in the world is able to force evil men to act right. Also – a silver lining in this wreck of an economy is re-examining the false doctrine that “if I just make all the right choices then I won’t end up poor or dependent on others”. The only answer to the world’s problems is Jesus. End of story.
- We are not called to judge the poor before we show love, even within the Body. The women in your church who are single because their husbands died are not more worthy of respect and dignity then the woman whose husband broke every single vow he made to her and his children. Or the woman whose husband sits in church every Sunday but behind closed doors he screams at his wife and teaches his children many ways to hate her. There is physical poverty, and there are those who are poverty-stricken in spirit. Both are crippling.
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. (See Barb’s book Not Under Bondage [Affiliate link] for a deeper understanding of the term “widow” used in scripture.)
Our society may continue to have too few jobs and opportunities for the needy. This might be our future. What does our heart say in response to this possibility? Do we clutch our purses in horror and start blaming the needy, the fools, and start stockpiling treasure in a hole in the backyard? Or do we go the opposite way, and blame the rich, and expect our leaders to play Robin Hood and meet all of our needs & bring perfect justice (all the while sinking the nation into unfathomable debt)?
Or – do we operate under the belief that God is taking away the blessings of our nation and the only way to get it back is to throw ourselves at the grinding mill of performance? Maybe if we enforce more purity rules, take away our daughters’ freedom, stay married to our wicked spouses no matter what, and homeschool our kids, then things will get better. Because nobody will have abortions and single moms can go back to being rare outcasts (rather than constantly in our line of sight) and then we will be awesome again. (SIGH)
I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways that we spin our wheels.
Instead, let us look to the One who sustains us – in all of life’s possibilities. Justice and mercy flow from one perfect source. I’m reminding myself every day not to waste time looking for it elsewhere.
14 thoughts on “The Believer’s Attitude Toward Single Mothers”
Great post! I saw some of this kind of attitude this weekend, but it wasn’t involving an abuse case per se. My son-in-law will be performing the wedding of mutual friends next month, and I will be taking the photos. Both the bride and groom are divorced with children. While they both have jobs, he is between health insurance.
To complicate matters, he had a workplace injury that gave him a severe concussion a couple of months ago. The workers compensation company was paying the medical bills UNTIL they did a scan and found out he may have an aneurysm, and they said it was pre-existing so they would not pay for anything else related to his head. His two brothers died from aneurysms. To confirm the diagnosis, he needs a $5000 MRI done, but without health insurance and with the other company refusing to cover, he is not able to get it done.
My son-in-law posted on Facebook about the situation and then set up a fundraising effort on Gofund to help raise money for the expenses. Well, the FB post started a firestorm of political arguments about Obamacare and universal health care.
Now, understand that this man is not a Christian and is just exploring the faith, and all this rhetoric is not helping him get the care he needs. He was asking my son-in-law why God must hate him. His fiance got on FB and rightly chastised all those who were making it political as his life is potentially on the line. In other words, all the hate filled rhetoric was being a horrible witness to them!
Understand that I am about as conservative as they come. I have very strong political opinions, but there are times when all that needs to be put aside in order to help someone who needs it. Each situation is different. Yes, there are those who are mooching off the system and refuse to even try. I see them every day in the library at which I work. On the other hand, there are so many who are there, not by choice, but by circumstance or evil intent of others.
I have also long held that if the church was less interested in their opulent buildings and spending money on fluff, they would have more money to fulfill their responsibilities to each other and actually reaching out to people. If the church had not abrogated their responsibilities financially and spiritually, perhaps we would not be in the mess we are in as a society.
We get the leaders we deserve. Judah was placed in their 70 year captivity because of their sin, not the sins of their neighbors. Nebuchadnezzar was raised up (and later brought low) as a sovereign act of God to fulfill His purposes with His people. Politicians will not save us, only Christ. Too bad we don’t live like that is truth.
I have also long held that if the church was less interested in their opulent buildings and spending money on fluff, they would have more money to fulfill their responsibilities to each other and actually reaching out to people.
The church is so concerned about building huge expensive buildings (with their accompanying giant mortgage payments) so they can accommodate their “growing” membership — all the while half of that “growth” isn’t even true believers!
“My tax dollars paid for your kids’ free school lunches and public babysitting and food stamps– you’re welcome.”
Whose tax dollars? ALL money belongs to God, all, and He is free to use it however He chooses. That welfare money, is still God’s money.! Our tax money, is still God’s money!
I have heard this among the Christians too, but what I like best, is when the Christians refuse to help or aid someone in anyway, but then also burden one with guilt for using the system to help themselves. I saw that most prominently in a previous church. They say things like welfare is a sin, or that is not God, you can never declare bankruptcy, etc., but all the while they refuse to lift a financial finger to help anyone. However, God is in charge and control of the whole world and that means welfare and bankruptcy courts too. What is left to do, for a woman who’s abuser is not helping or paying all the bills or trying to ruin the victim’s credit? I think it can be our freedom given from God, to walk away empty-handed sometimes. It is as if God is saying, “You only need me. I will break you so far off from the sinfulness of the abuse you have suffered, that you will be happy you only had Me.” I cannot personally imagine not having to deal with some form of abuse during the course of receiving support from my abuser. Although it may take time, and immense trust, and there may be some fear involved, God can and will take care of us and He never manipulates or abuses in the process. Thank You God, for being a perfect Savior and husband to us victims of abuse that are devastated, fearful, distrusting and broken wives/husbands and mothers/fathers of children.
“I think it can be our freedom given from God, to walk away empty-handed sometimes. It is as if God is saying, “You only need me. I will break you so far off from the sinfulness of the abuse you have suffered, that you will be happy you only had Me.” I cannot personally imagine not having to deal with some form of abuse during the course of receiving support from my abuser. Although it may take time, and immense trust, and there may be some fear involved, God can and will take care of us and He never manipulates or abuses in the process. Thank You God, for being a perfect Savior and husband to us victims of abuse that are devastated, fearful, distrusting and broken wives/husbands and mothers/fathers of children.”
This just needed to be heard again.
I don’t remember where I got this article from (I could have sworn it was from ACFJ?), but I this quote has always stuck with me:
“While there are some biblical passages, especially in Proverbs, which do assign blame to the poor for their condition, Scripture overwhelmingly attributes poverty to other external factors, particularly oppression.”
The Culture Wars Over ‘Family Values’ [Internet Archive link]
Jeff thanks, I can’t remember where I saw that paper the first time. It was sooo convicting, especially for those of us who grew up in the 90s in the evangelical community – we saw all of that stuff firsthand.
Thank you so much for that link, Jeff. This topic has been really on my heart lately as I am understanding what really happens when a woman leaves an abusive marriage and has to start out on her own again. It’s horrific the way the church treats these oppressed mamas / children.
BTW, the link WAS from ACFJ:
Resources on headship, submission and family values
As a taxpayer, I think that the purpose of safety net programs is to help people in crisis situations and I think it morally right that we should care for others in this way. Fraud and corruption in these programs should be sought out and remedied, but those truly in need should receive benefits. Everyone should want a safety net as we never know if we also might be in need at some point. Who knows what trials might be before us?
A few years ago the government instituted a stimulus program to jump start the economy by giving every family a few hundred dollars. I think that giving money to the most needy must have a positive effect as that money is quickly put back into the economy. I am not an economist, but I doubt that these programs are destroying the economy as some would have us believe. Food related stocks benefit from food programs, thus boosting the stock market. All of this is interrelated, and the blame shifters jump to foolish conclusions.
It is cruel that some blame the recipients of the programs for signing up for the aid that they are eligible for instead of blaming the politicians who created the laws, however the politicians know that these programs are necessary. Perhaps kicking people while they are down gives some people a self-righteous feeling of superiority. It seems that many of these people claim to be Christians, and they especially, should be ashamed for their unrighteous lack of empathy for the poor.
Ah, the pendulum swing…blame the rich or try to behave better to win God’s favor, instead of living in the favor He gives freely.
It is definitely there, the mental time bomb of failure because you are a single mom. The church buys and sells this and the one so affected beats the same drum (in her own heart) very loudly in an effort to believe it, too.
I have been on food stamps and it was better than watching my children suffer hunger, now I am making too much money, but not enough to buy food, so, here we go again. But things are getting there, slowly.
Love what you brought out about judging single moms; we are called to have the faith that we do, a little of which can cast mountains into seas, we are called to have that faith WITHOUT respect of persons…which we are at times loathe to do.
Thank you for this insight.
I notice the difference in the treatment that I, as a divorced single mom, now receive, over the treatment I received from the church when I was a dutiful busy mom and wife. Then I was good enough to lead Bible Studies, Womens committees, Sunday School classes and organize the occasional missions lunches. Now I never approached to serve, nor is my opinion ever sought or validated. On anything. Very telling. It’s funny they think I don’t notice it.
It makes the whole church experience an even more precious one for me. I go to church with the awe of being given the privilege of what Christ felt when He came to His own, and was rejected. He was never welcome with His own people, unless they needed to use Him. To be abandoned, ostracized, rejected, invalidated, criticized, misunderstood and despised by one’s own community, is what our Savior went through. I am not on my own.
I remember when my daughter was in the midst of her divorce, a patron of the library, who I had known from a previous church struck up a conversation with me. When I told him of the abuse and the divorce, he told me that I should know that my daughter can never serve in the church again! In fact, his opinion was that no divorced person, despite the reason, could ever be in any kind of ministry position. I doubt he would allow them to be the church janitor!
Ugh! How awful.
I’m trying to imagine how dirty his church’s bathroom facilities are because no divorced people can be church janitors, and the married folk are just too high and mighty or busy with their families to do it. 🙂
Ya gotta find ways to laugh at this stuff, eh?
ANFL (A New Free Life) has just published a post that relates to this thread.
Redemption [Internet Archive link]