Staying, Is Not Your Only Option

by Yvonne Chase on February 24, 2020

A hit dog will holler. My last post Walk Away As Jesus Did didn’t go over so well with Christians. Many assumed I wrote it because of my current circumstance. While I’m beyond grateful Gary’s book found its way into my life at this time, it had nothing to do with it. Michelle, a woman at church was on my mind. We met and became friends after sitting next to each other week after week.

As we hung out and got to know each other, she talked to me about her marriage that she walked away from even though a pastor counseled her to stay and pray. He said, “Pray for your husband. Pray that God would change his heart. Ask God to give you the grace to deal with him. God’s grace is sufficient for you.”

One day she pulled out her phone and showed me a photo of her swollen eye. It was as big as a tennis ball; I mean she looked like she was in the ring with Floyd Mayweather. Her eye was swollen shut with gashes all over the lid and that entire side of her face was swollen. That’s why she walked away from her marriage and filed divorce papers.

staying

I asked her if she showed that photo to the pastor and she said yes. I asked her again, did you show that photo to the pastor and her reply was yes. She showed me additional photos with bruises on her body at the hands of her husband. I was flummoxed! How could a pastor in his right mind look at that photo and tell her to stay? Would he tell his mother to stay? His sister? Aunt? Cousin? Goddaughter or any other woman in his life that he cared about?

The other day I read a quote that said, “Unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of bad behavior” yet we’re taught the opposite; unconditional love does mean unconditional acceptance of bad behavior. What on earth is a woman/wife to pray about when her husband is using her as a punching bag other than for resources to get as far away from him as the east is from the west?

As someone said in the comments of my last post, “If a person has no inclination or desire to change and that attitude inhibits me, it’s time to flee. Walking away does not change my love or forgiveness towards them.” Fleeing in Michelle’s case may not mean immediate divorce although it would for me God forbid I ever found myself in her shoes, however, it definitely means separation for the sake of her own safety.

staying

As one reader said, “There’s a time to try and work it out and there’s a time to walk away.” If any woman finds herself in a physically abusive relationship she ought to walk away while she still can.

Bob Hamp, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says this about forgiveness; “Forgiveness in no way implies a requirement to reconcile. Forgiving is about restoring the heart of the one who forgives. If you forgive someone, you are now able to make decisions about the relationship from love instead of fear. Boundaries are not a sign of unforgiveness.” The church doesn’t teach forgiveness in this way and that is why so many women find themselves stuck in abusive relationships.

It was this comment though that made me shout loudly while standing at the bus stop; “Sometimes Christians do us a disservice by encouraging us to turn the other cheek. We don’t need to turn it so someone can punch it.” I mean…I couldn’t have said it any better! If we want to talk about being a “good” Christian, a “good” Christian wouldn’t continue to hurt you by punching you in the cheek, would they?

staying

Here’s what I know for sure, God did not create his precious daughters to be punching bags. He did not create us to be abused in any way; physically, verbally, emotionally or otherwise by anyone. This quote by Anne Lamott, shared by another reader deeply resonates; “Loving your enemies was non-negotiable. It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weaknesses. It didn’t mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.”

And that’s why I shared this book. I’ve been going to church since I was in my mother’s womb and I haven’t stopped. Based on all I’ve heard, I can confidently say this; many churches are not teaching the whole Bible in its proper context. The same bible that tells a wife to submit to her husband tells both husband and wife to submit to each other and tells the husband directly to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it yet we beat women over the head with the message of submission that’s often taught incorrectly and we forget to remind a husband how God calls him to love his wife.

The Bible tells a child in Exodus 20:12 to honor his mother and father that his days may be long. That same Bible tells fathers in Ephesians 6:4 not to provoke their children to anger. The Bible that shows God as my unconditional loving, forgiving, gracious Heavenly Father also shows a side of him that walked away yet I didn’t know that side fully until I picked up this book. We need to teach both sides of the coin.

So, if you are a Christian in an abusive relationship of any kind, hopefully, you know staying, is not your only option. Seeking wise counsel; keyword wise is a good place to start as you prayerfully consider the next steps. Proverbs 11:14 says “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.”

Something to think about…

What say you? How familiar were you or are you with scriptures about Jesus walking away? Did you know he walked away? How important is it that we teach the whole Bible in it’s proper context? 

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa notes February 25, 2020

“God did not create his precious daughters to be punching bags.” Amen to this, Yvonne! This message you’re preaching here needs to be preached in our pulpits more often. Women in an abusive relationship have a hard enough time leaving as it is; they sure don’t need “Christian” guilt heaped on them to stay as punching bags. We can pray for the accuser from afar in safety better than we can pray unconscious in a heap on the floor.
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Lisa,

You’re right, it’s a message that needs to be preached more often in our pulpits. I’m glad God is using me in this space to let women know they have options. Christian guilt is the absolute worst and it’s what keeps many women stuck in a cycle of abuse. Yes to this: “We can pray for the accuser from afar in safety better than we can pray unconscious in a heap on the floor.” The church must do a better job of looking out for and protecting Gods precious daughters.
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Lauren Sparks February 25, 2020

Going thru a similar situation with my son who is in an abusive relationship. It is awful and yucky and I appreciate you addressing this. laurensparks.net
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Lauren,

I’m sorry your son is having that experience. It’s not often we hear of men in abusive relationships even though it does happen. I hope he gets out soon.
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Karen Del Tatto February 25, 2020

Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom to those women who are in abusive relationships.
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Mandy Farmer February 25, 2020

IT’s sad to me that so many women stay in abusive relationships. Thank you for this good advice. pinned.

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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Mandy,

I find it sad too, however, now that I know a bit more, I have a better understanding. I’m sure there are a host of reasons why a woman might stay even though she doesn’t want to. It’s a vicious cycle.
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Trina Taylor February 25, 2020

“We need to teach both sides of the coin” Yes! Yes! and Yes! Thank you for sharing the other side of the coin. Many Christian women stay in abusive relationships because they don’t know walking away is an option. It’s not the Christian thing to do yet sometimes it is. Thank you for introducing me to When To Walk Away and for this much needed post.

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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Trina,

You’re welcomed. It’s an excellent book that I plan to recommend over and over again because more Christian women need to know they have options and that leaving will not give them an express ticket to hell. As I said in the post, God’s grace is sufficient when she leaves or if she stays. His grace is sufficient; period!
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Patsy Burnette February 25, 2020

This is such a difficult subject, and a difficult position to be in. Thank you for tackling it.

Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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Michele Morin February 26, 2020

A few years ago, I read a book by Ruth Tucker about domestic abuse in the church: Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife.
Althought she is a well-educated woman, she was deceived into believing she should stay with an abusive husband. It nearly cost her her life in the learning process.
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Michele,

My Lord. I’m glad she got away. That title; Black and Blue Wife. My God! Help us! We have got to do better and teach both sides of the coin.
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April February 26, 2020

“Boundaries are not a sign of unforgiveness.” so many churches and Christians don’t get this right. You have to look at the biblical principles as a whole instead of picking out parts of verses to use it to spiritually abuse someone. These women don’t need to be going through spiritual abuse along with mental & physical…so very sad.

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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@April,

Thanks for calling it what it is; spiritual abuse. And yes, we need to look at biblical principles as a whole instead of picking out parts of verses to spiritually abuse another.
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Theresa E Boedeker February 27, 2020

I wish more women knew this truth you are talking about. That forgiving and praying doesn’t mean you accept abuse. That love means you stay no matter what. Because then we are enabling the person’s bad habits and sin. Something God doesn’t do with us. Sometimes you need to leave.
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Theresa,

Yes, when we stay, we enable bad habits and sin and you’re right, God does not do that with us.
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Laurie February 27, 2020

Self-preservation is important. If leaving an abusive relationship is what is needed to keep your sanity and your self-respect, then that’s what needs to be done. Forgiving the abuser doesn’t mean you acccept his (or her) abusive, crazy behavior.
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Laurie,

YES, to self-preservation! Say this louder for the people in the back: “Forgiving the abuser does not mean you accept his or her abusive, crazy behavior!”
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Dr. Elise Ho February 28, 2020

I am not a Christian. Perhaps, some will think my comment comes from that fact BUT that is ok. I am disgusted to hear this story of a person (the pastor) who, to my understanding, is meant to protect gods children and has sent this woman back into the fire. No one should ever be told to stay in an abusive relationship!!!
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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Dr. Elise Ho,

Unfortunately, some pastors care more about marital status than what’s actually happening in the marriage. You’re right, no one should ever be told to stay in an abusive relationship. Thankfully Michelle left and filed divorce papers in spite of the pastors’ counsel.
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Kathleen - Blogger's Lifestyle March 2, 2020

Yvonne, thanks for saying what needs to be said here. A wise teacher once told us to ‘think independently of all men – but not the Word of God.’ I once taught a primitive group to read and write their own language so that they could search the Scriptures themselves to see that what they were told ‘is true.’ Yes, tell the whole story.
Our Elise has chosen your post to be featured in the next Blogger’s Pit Stop 🙂

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Yvonne Chase March 5, 2020

@Kathleen,

It’s great that you equipped the primitive people with the skills needed to study the scriptures for themselves. That’s exactly what we need to do so that we know what to do when we find ourselves needing wise counsel. Thanks for the feature.
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