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Abuse

Recently, there has been a lot of conversation on the relationship between complementarianism and abuse. The conversation was reignited when Ruth Tucker released her book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. Since then, many complementarians have critiqued Tucker’s argument that male headship theology allows for and sustains abuse. In response, more moderate complementarians and egalitarians have lent support to Tucker’s thesis with testimony and analysis of their own. I want to be very clear. I believe that male headship theology makes abuse both more possible and more likely. I believe that power differences between functional equals are emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually destructive. However, I do not believe that all complementarian men are abusive... Read more
I remember how embarrassed I was the day I walked into work with a black eye. I dreaded the questions, knowing I would have to reveal my lost battle with lawn equipment, and worrying that someone might wrongly suspect my husband of abuse. I turned on the office lights, sat down at my desk, and interacted with people all day. No one said anything about my black eye. No one, until my boss privately asked about my injury. I told him the whole story of my wrestling match with a weed eater.  I was relieved that the day’s conversations did not revolve around my black eye, but by evening, it really had me thinking. What if I had been beaten? What would it be like live in fear, to be one of the 5.4 million women in the U.S. who are battered each year?[1] I have recently begun to see... Read more
Since my first week at Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), I’ve heard stories from women who have struggled with their faith in God because they were abused by men. These women were emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually abused by husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, pastors, or other men close to them. Their abusers believed that Scripture (and therefore God) gave men authority to monitor, manage, and discipline women. Longing to please God, these women submitted to abusive men, regardless of the cost to themselves. Some nearly lost their lives, others went into hiding. All are deeply wounded. To protect these women, CBE developed a comprehensive privacy policy that predates standards now used by the medical industry. CBE’s first president, Cathie Kroeger, e... Read more
The biblical King David is commonly referred to as a “man after God’s own heart.” The Psalms are filled with his inspiring praises and heart-wrenching lamentations about feeling forgotten and abandoned by his Lord, left to languish in the hands of his enemies. Those passages of despair and righteous anger have given me permission to express my hurt to God, knowing he can handle it. But the character of David is complex, to put it mildly. We also know him as a man who made a series of decisions that caused devastating ripples in his family and in the lives of those around him. David was a violent military leader who destroyed villages when he felt it necessary. He was also charismatic, attractive, and popular with women. We also know that he was a man who fell into a... Read more
This is Part 2 of a two part series on why the issue of domestic abuse is relevant to all people. Check out Part 1.  I used to think that women experiencing domestic violence who really needed help should and would seek it out. But when I met Rachel, this perception of domestic abuse in intimate relationships was challenged. Rachel is a twenty-one year-old woman working toward a college degree. She has a beautiful little girl. Rachel is divorced, and for good reason. “When he hit me, I knew it was bad,” she said. “He would take the car keys, so I couldn’t leave. He’d take my phone, so I couldn’t call for help. He was verbally abusive. He took all of the money I made. He stripped me of everything I had. I was completely at his merc... Read more
This is Part 1 of a two part series on why the issue of domestic abuse is relevant to all people. Check out Part 2.  Do you remember the day you realized that our world is a grimmer place than you once thought it was?  Do you recall when you realized, for the very first time, that not everyone has food to eat every day? Can you picture the painful moment when you discovered that “prince charming” was not always all that, well, charming? Do you remember the day you woke up a little bit heavier in your soul than you were when you went to sleep? I do. I remember when I first become acquainted with that heaviness. This is the heaviness that inevitably comes with the realization of your own privilege—that the world is not fair and you are not the only one... Read more
Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of people who have begun thinking about biblical equality—either as a result of academic study or through their own experience with the disadvantages women face in the church and world. I am so grateful to the many egalitarian theologians who have painstakingly searched through the original Greek and Hebrew texts to provide academic and scriptural justification for the belief that women are indeed able and called to be leaders in the church. I am also grateful to the women and men who have created spaces for women to be encouraged in their leadership gifts and call. To those who have given their time, energy, and finances to create spaces for women in the church, thank you. To those who have worked to deconstruct the obstacles women fa... Read more
This is Part 2 in a two-part series on the ten myths we often believe about domestic abuse and the reality checks that prove them wrong. Here are the second five myths. Check out Part 1 and the first half of the list. #DVAM (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) Abuse is the choice of a person, usually a man statistically (but not exclusively), to undermine the personhood of his partner, girlfriend, wife.[1] This may include putting her down and devaluing her, isolating and controlling her, making her feel she is going mad, scaring and intimidating her, using her children against her, lying to her and possibly having affairs, exhausting her through making her do all the housework or all of the paid work, raping her, and hurting her physically in any way. This is not an exhaustive list.... Read more
This is Part 1 in a two-part series on the ten myths we often believe about domestic abuse and the reality checks that prove them wrong. Here are the first five myths. Check out Part 2 and the second half of the list. #DVAM (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) Most Christians agree that abuse [1] is wrong. Don’t we? Rarely (it does happen) does anyone decree, at least blatantly, that a person should endure abuse by their partner, and if they do, most of us look reasonably horrified at the suggestion. The majority of Christians agree that abuse should not happen. And yet, abuse continues to happen in our neighborhoods, friendship groups, families, and churches. So, we have to conclude that our theology on abuse is often either misguided, toxic, or both.  Years ago, I s... Read more
A few nights ago, my husband turned me down for sex. He pleaded fatigue and fell asleep at 8:30pm. I know that’s not the typical narrative of one spouse declining the other spouse’s offer of sex. My husband usually enthusiastically consents to sex with me, but on occasion, he hasn’t been in the mood. That’s okay. I also turn him down for sex sometimes. I have Crohn’s Disease, and sometimes I’m in too much discomfort or even pain to want sex. That’s okay too. Our freedom to say “No” to each other makes our frequent "Yes’s" all the better. I know that for me, my right to decline sex makes me all the more willing and enthusiastic to say “Yes” most of the time. But what if you can’t turn d... Read more

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