Thursday Thought — What a Victim Can Expect in a Typical Evangelical Church
What a Victim Can Expect in a Typical Evangelical Church
- Victim reports abuse to her pastor.
- Pastor does not believe her claims, or at least believes they are greatly exaggerated. After all, he “knows” her husband to be one of the finest Christian men he knows, a pillar of the church.
- Pastor minimizes the severity of the abuse. His goal is often, frankly, damage control (to himself and to his church).
- Pastor indirectly (or not so indirectly!) implies that the victim needs to do better in her role as wife and mother and as a Christian. He concludes that all such scenarios are a “50/50” blame sharing.
- Pastor sends the victim home, back to the abuser, after praying with her and entrusting the problem to the Lord.
- Pastor believes he has done his job.
- Victim returns, reporting that nothing has changed. She has tried harder and prayed, but the abuse has continued.
- Pastor decides to do some counseling. He says, “I will have a little talk with your husband” or “I am sure that all three of us can sit down and work this all out.” Either of these routes only results in further and more intense abuse of the victim. This counseling can go on for years! (One victim reported that it dragged on for nine years in her case).
- As time passes, the victim becomes the guilty party in the eyes of the pastor and others. She is the one causing the commotion. She is pressured by the pastor and others in the church to stop rebelling, to submit to her husband, and stop causing division in the church.
- After more time passes, the victim separates from or divorces the abuser. The church has refused to believe her, has persistently covered up the abuse, has failed to obey the law and report the abuse to the police; and has refused to exercise church discipline against the abuser. Ironically, warnings of impending church discipline are often directed against the victim!
- The final terrible injustice is that the victim is the one who must leave the church, while the abuser remains a member in good standing, having successfully duped the pastor and church into believing that his victim was the real problem. One abuse victim (a man in this case) told me that he finally came to the awakening that “I know exactly what my church is going to do about my abuser: Nothing!” He left while she remained a member in good standing, the daughter of a leading pastor in the denomination.
(An excerpt from Pastor Crippen’s book, A Cry for Justice [*Affiliate link], pp 21-22)