I have not posted regarding the Pastor Saeed abuse story yet. I planned to research the story before writing my thoughts. However, I feel the need to address Franklin Graham’s response which is both disappointing and harmful to women of faith in abusive marriages.
His response epitomizes the lack of Pastoral knowledge regarding the VERY DIFFERENT dynamics of an abusive marriage which require a VERY DIFFERENT Pastoral response. This attitude of “there are 2 sides to every story” is why a Woman of Faith Has an Even Harder Time Leaving Her Abuser. She will remain faithful and in prayer long after she should if she is more worried about what her Pastor, her Christian family and friends will say than what God would say if she simply prayed and listened only to Him for wisdom and direction regarding her situation.
If her abuser calls himself a believer, spiritual abuse will be part of what is used against her in addition to verbal put downs, emotional abuse, physical abuse or threats of physical harm, financial abuse and marital rape. She will already be hearing from her husband that she is not a good, submissive wife, he’s not leaving, and she can’t leave. Should she hear that from her Pastor, too? He is supposed to be the shepherd of the flock. As the one who stands on the altar and by doing so accepts the responsibility to speak the truth to and care for the people God has given him to shepherd, shouldn’t he at least pursue knowledge regarding something that affects at least 25% of 60-70% of his flock?
Her abuser will even say he doesn’t want a divorce because it’s against God’s Word (what?—yes, he will say he’s listening to God and she’s not.) Don’t be deceived. Abusing a woman, treating her with violence and treachery is against God’s Word. The Bible actually says a man should not be unfaithful to his wife or treat her treacherously. He should not be unjust or treat her with violence or cruelty. He (the husband) should not hate and divorce his wife. Malachi 2:16 Holman Christian Standard Bible: “If he hates and divorces [his wife],” says the LORD God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.” Other translations mention violence. Again, this woman is put in the position of pursuing the divorce for her protection (financially, emotionally, and physically.) God does hate divorce. He hates the one who causes it.
Because of the attitude expressed by Franklin Graham and other uninformed pastors, she will have the additional problem of having no one to talk to who will support her decision to leave for her safety and the safety of her children.
The Church does not want to seem supportive of divorce, of course. People who haven’t been through this don't have any understanding of Domestic Violence and most people will believe both parties were at fault. They are looking at the relationship in light of a relationship with two mentally healthy people involved. In that case, yes, they could get marital counseling, she could continue to pray for her husband, wait for things to change, etc.
They don’t understand this is not a marriage with two mentally healthy people. An abused woman cannot go to counseling with her abuser: 1) He will not go! He will not want to “air their dirty laundry” or “have their business known”…translation, he does not want what he is doing exposed. 2) He is VICTIMIZING his wife and children—please get that straight. She is dealing with an evil person intent on destroying her and their family (their own flesh and blood children).
They don’t understand this man’s behavior has been the exact opposite of the definition of being a husband who loves his wife and is the head of the home as Jesus is the head of the church.
If a Pastor wants to be informed, there is information out there readily available. I will come to your church and speak regarding this very important subject. I am not PRO-DIVORCE. I am pro-safety and healing of abused women and children which sometimes necessitates divorce.