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And What About the Good Samaritan?

May 19, 2008 — Categories:

A woman recently shared with me her experience of being assaulted and stabbed by her abusive husband. As she recovered from her injuries, she turned to her church, expecting pastoral care and support.

A woman recently shared with me her experience of being assaulted and stabbed by her abusive husband. As she recovered from her injuries, she turned to her church, expecting pastoral care and support.

She was not then employed because her husband would not allow her to work. So unemployed and healing from the stabbing and trauma of her husband’s abuse, she found her church unwilling to help her: they did not want to show “partiality.” At least for other members who were recovering from cancer treatment, the church members brought in meals and for families struggling with unemployment, there were Thanksgiving baskets.

I am trying to contain my outrage at this congregation and I pray that God will forgive them because “they know not what they do,” but I must confess ever time I reread this story, my blood boils. NOT SHOW PARTIALITY???? What Bible do these folks read?

Beginning with the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:29-37], let’s just consider the basics of the Christian faith tradition. Who is my neighbor? Jesus tells this parable to challenge the religious and community leaders who pass by the injured person by the side of the road. They are afraid; they don’t want to get involved; they don’t want to be partial and take sides! Finally it is the Samaritan, the outcast, the “other” who stops, attends to the injured person’s wounds, takes the person to safe shelter, and pays the bill.

I don’t know how Jesus could be much clearer about how Christians should respond to the needs of a battered woman. The God of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament is a God who takes sides with the oppressed, the vulnerable, the victim. The Hospitality Code is the common thread throughout these texts that mandates the community to care for those who are vulnerable: and in this day and age, that means battered women and abused children for sure.

This is the fundamental ethical norm of both Judaism and Christianity. Taking the side of the powerless usually means standing up to the powerful. I can only surmise that the abusive husband in this story probably was a person of power in the church and community. I can also hear the voices from the church: “Judge not that you not be judged.” [Romans 2:1-11]

Read the whole passage. Judge not IF you are doing the same things as the one you judge. For a pastor or rabbi, if you are abusing your wife, don’t stand in judgment of your brother who is abusing his. But hopefully you are not abusing your wife and if not, then your job is to stand with the victim of abuse and call the abuser to account and repentance.

If we learn anything about God from scripture, it is that God shows partiality for those who are victimized by another person. We, the church, can do no less. Only then is there possibility of healing for the survivor and repentance for the abuser.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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Posted by Nancy at Mar 26, 2010 11:58 AM
This article about the Good Samaritan describes what happened to me. My pastor didn't want to take sides and did not help recruit men to help me and my 3 kids move out. Although my husband never caused any physical harm, the emotional abuse and threats to me and our kids was outrageous. Yes, the pastor knew this and has heard my husband yelling at my friend at church. So, at the time of my greatest need, my church family stuck their head in the sand. The first few days after leaving a domestic violent situation, is the most dangerous time. While moving our furniture, I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if "he" was coming to "straighten" me out and make sure we didn't leave.

Thanks for your website. The information here and other similar resources gave me the courage to leave a growing violent relationship.

Response of Clergy to Abuse

Posted by Amy Hayes at Feb 22, 2011 09:01 PM
Add my story to that list too, sister! I was in such am abusive relationship that one counselor I went to called it "extreme abuse", and that was after I told her just what went on that week in my house - which was actually a more tolerable week than usual. When it came time to move out, the Youth Pastor at our church helped us. He was scolded by the other pastors and told, "he shouldn't get involved". After I was thrown in jail by my husband on some trumped up charge, the church still never offered assistance. In fact, I was told if I didn't cooperate on letting my husband see the kids, I would lose "church support". That was a joke since I wasn't receiving any support. In fact, the pastor who told me this was as controlling and manipulative as my now ex! My hope is to one day write a book about my experience to help bring some education to the church. Lord help us!

Response to clergy to abuse

Posted by letitia rhinehart at Jun 20, 2012 07:04 PM
This sounds all too familiar to my situation, with exception my pastor agreed with a counseler my ex and i agreed to see together..this was a "requirement" from pastor. I was told to seperate, but dont divorce, it was arranged i live with a lady at church while ex paid her money, ha, like he was gona? And then he came to her house abusing threatening me, the pastor let him know where i was! Then when i had it, things got worse i was pregnant with my 2nd and 2 yr old, the whole church ignored me! I was appalled, only to find out he cried at the alter said "my wife left me" oh brother, too bad nobody had the coursage to ask why i did that! talk about judgement! I left that church, and by the way, one week when the pastor wasnt there and i had seperated (during my pregnancy) a visting pastor was there. He asked how many women were being abused in that church to c ome up for prayer. Well, i kid you not, i saw at least 75% of that congregations women up front for prayer!! That is when i left that church fast!

Partiality: Response to Nancy

Posted by Laurie Hagen McConkey at Jun 20, 2012 07:04 PM
Nancy, I'm so sorry for what you've gone through. I realize your post was a while ago, but I hope you're doing better. What you and your children went through was difficult in & of itself, but what your church did to you was sinful. As a matter of fact, I believe there is a "duty to care" that was dropped (to say the least).

God is good

Posted by Nancy at Jun 21, 2012 12:49 PM
Thanks for your response Laurie.
I'm doing GREAT now! I just purchased a home -which is a miracle. Still in debt from the ex. The greatest miracle is the gift of forgiveness God has given me. No more ill feelings towards the ex and former pastor/church. Choosing to "Forgive them, for they know not what they did". Currently helping others by praying on a prayer phone line. See a bright future ahead. A few years ago life looked dark and gloomy. But God is so good and faithful!

Clergy Abuse

Posted by Rev. Crystal Jackson-Moore at Jun 20, 2012 07:06 PM
I have been in that same situation where the Pastor told me that I should try harder and that he was praying for my relationship with my abusive husband (now ex-husband). It is imperative that Clergy are trained on how to deal with domestic violence and abuse because many victims are being ran out of the church by the lack of compassion from the church leaders and community. I was blessed to have a strong Christian background and I speak out for victims from the pulpit and in the community.

Training Pastors

Posted by Laurie Hagen McConkey at Mar 12, 2013 05:09 PM
There are many pastors who know the right thing to do but are actually in favor of treating women badly. My situation as an abused Pastors Wife was like that and I've since discovered that there are many women who've been treated the same way by this same church. I'm trying to find these women so future women can be spared this travesty

same for me

Posted by Evonna at Mar 12, 2013 05:09 PM
after i left my husband and went to live with my parents, i met with the elders from my church to tell them what happened (hoping to get support for the church and to explain why i would be attending alone because i thought I was close with them). after i explained that my husband had tried to choke me out because i stood up for myself instead of letting him treat me as his personal slave, they said that i was not being a very christian wife treating him like that. then they told me that they didn't want to take sides because "they don't know both sides of the story". i left that church fast after they told me that i needed to suffer "more like jesus".

clergy abuse

Posted by Christina at Mar 12, 2013 05:09 PM
I got shunned by the leadership from the church because I got the police involved. I was told they couldn't do anything to help me because I called the cops!! I felt like an outsider. No one felt like they could talk to me or speak to me. At the time in my life when I needed support, care and concern shown I felt black balled. I was also informed the reason he could still run sound and lights for their praise and worship team during and after being found guilty was because it was a ministry position and not a leadership position. Its been 9 months and I'm still terrified of going back to any church due to this victimization after being strangled and almost killed. What can I do to educate the church to not alienate the victim just because she called the police and followed through with charges?

And What About the Good Samaritain

Posted by Darlene Hills-Clinkscale at Apr 02, 2015 03:29 PM
Darlene Hills: Statement of Purpose 2015

After 30-years personal experience and of becoming increasingly aware of the prevalence of Domestic Violence (DV) among the people of God and of the negative impact of DV for my children and myself within the Christian Community, I am committed to advancing the Faith Based Community’s responsibility for stopping DV as I work with the Faith Based DV Task Force. AND, I am in the process of getting my book published this year-2015. Additionally, I am committed to taking courage, walking through my fear and starting a program that will focus on continual educational trainings for Pastors, church leaders and congregations

In 2000 God commissioned me to write a book for the purpose of: sharing my story to help empower those who experience DV within the Faith based community (FBC); significantly increase the FBC’s awareness and education about the reality of DV; change public perception from DV myths to DV facts; significantly decrease DV from epidemic proportion to ultimately eliminate DV from existing in a cultural of silent and denial. Over the years, my journals and written records support the reality of my DV experience when my memory often would not.

For many 15+ years I worked in the community as an advocate for those who experience DV, including speaking presentations. Yet, until 2011 I was unable to go beyond my fear enough to actually do a speaker presentation in my church, or in any church on the topic of DV, let alone have my book published.

My experience includes: being married to a “preacher” and father of our four children, who was also a DV abuser; being a DV survivor; being a member of multiple DV task forces and DV advocacy projects; doing extensive research on the topic of DV in general, and of DV’s prevalence within the FBC specifically; and as a DV speaker and advocate.

My commission from God compels me to engage God’s Church to acknowledge and accept that it has a critical responsibility for stopping DV. And, I agree with a statement from the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence: “It is our belief that that the involvement of the faith community is critical in efforts to respond to the problem of domestic and sexual violence and is often a missing piece in coordinated community efforts. For a discussion of some reasons why, please read:[…]/103-why-involve-faith-communities.html

God has commissioned me to engage his church in DV conversation for a progressive purpose that includes:
1) Acknowledgment that DV has a significant presence within the FBC
2) Acknowledgment that the FBC has a major responsibility for stopping DV
3) Moving from a cultural history of silence and denial within the FBC to a culture that seeks education of DV myths vs. DV facts
4) Mass education within the FBC on pro-active efforts that promote effective response to the devastation caused by the realities of DV
5) Reduction and elimination of DV and the devastating effects

Habakkuk 2:2-3King James Version (KJV)
2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Please pray for me.

Domestic violence

Posted by Tiffany at Apr 16, 2018 01:27 PM
Why not offer support for victims?

PTSD recovery
Legal assistance
Family Counciling
Financial counciling and assistance
Spiritual Direction through crisis
Family community support

No Christian Support

Posted by Beth White at Apr 16, 2018 01:26 PM
This is my experience. I am a mother of a daughter who somehow has had a series of abusive boyfriends. She was married last year and we all thought he was wonderful and caring and we had a good relationship with him. But, just in the last 2 months, my daughter progressively has cut off communication with us and now won't communicate with us at all. Her husband won't return our calls or text messages. Isolation. But my church only prays for those who are physically sick (we are leaving that church to find one which prays for all reasons) and I can't get any support nor even prayers from my own church. This is so frustrating.