Saturday, November 24, 2007

Advice That Can Get a Woman Killed

Advice that can get a woman injured or killed real fast: Sit down and calmly inform your violent husband that unless he agrees to stop the violence and begin counseling you are going to leave him.

Fact: A woman increases her risk of death by 75% when she attempts to leave a violent relationship.

Fact: Even with a safety plan in place, in the event her violent husband responds negatively to the ultimatum, chances are minimal that she will make it to the door uninjured--if she makes it to the door at all.

Question: How many battered women out there have been physically prevented from getting out the door or had the telephone ripped out of your hands and violently destroyed before the violence was turned on you?


The quote below contains advice from author, speaker, Focus on the Family Vice President and media spokesperson, Dr. Bill Maier, to a battered wife in response to a letter for help he received just this year. Dangerous advice is hi-lighted in bold.

Begin Quote: My colleague, Dr. James Dobson, addresses the issue of domestic abuse in his book Love Must Be Tough. He believes the best approach is to force a crisis that confronts the problem head-on. Only then can it be treated and resolved. When you and your husband are both in a good mood, let him know that you have something important to discuss. Tell him that you love him very much, but that you are not going to allow him to abuse you any more. Tell him that you want him to get counseling for his anger problem immediately, and that unless he agrees, you are going to need to separate from him for a while. Given his past behavior, it's likely that he will beg for your forgiveness and promise that he will never harm you again. As much as you may be tempted to believe him, don't. Set a deadline for him to start counseling and stick to your guns. You also need to have a safety plan in place in the event that your husband responds negatively to this news. End Quote

Do Not Follow Dr. Bill's Advice! Do not depend on that safety plan to get you out of the house in one piece. Do depend on the fact that Dr. Bill's advice could get you killed.

Update Feb 2008: We are happy to report that Dr. Bill has seen this post and revised his advice to battered wives. His response can be read here: 

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hypocrisy and Domestic Violence Seminars

I recently posted an article in which I related the experience of a young mother who was asked to leave her church because her abusive, estranged husband appeared on church property during a church function and caused a disturbance.

This church is part of a large denomination which is very aggressive in promoting an image of being supportive to battered women, and less than one year after booting this poor woman and her children out of their fellowship..., this church is hosting a seminar on domestic violence!

While I rejoice that the congregation at large may be exposed to some good things during this seminar and possibly become better equipped to minister to battered/abused women, am I the only one to find this "seminar" to be the epitome of hypocrisy? Because unless it originated from an attitude of repentance for their shameful behavior when they were given a perfect opportunity to demonstrate compassion and did not, "hypocrite" is the only word that is applicable to each and every person supporting this event who did not support one of their very own when she needed them.

What's caught is more important than what's taught. And this church can hold all the domestic violence seminars they care to hold, but the fact is the ruling members know they are safe from having to deal up close and personally with the unpleasant reality of domestic violence. They are fairly certain they will not be called upon to actually help bear the burdens of abused and battered wives.

The experience of a young mother and her small children being kicked out of their church, at the request of a few--and the silence of the many--is proof enough of that.

That is why I have created The Dorcas Network. The Dorcas Network is not simply a function sponsored by a politically correct church leadership. It is a grassroots effort carried out by those who sincerely care.

Am I being uncomfortably blunt for some? I hope so. And I also hope and pray at least a few hearts have been moved and challenged to stand up and be counted.

In the very beginning of the movement to bring relief to battered wives, before the first shelter was ever built, it was the women themselves working together to form a network of safe houses for battered women. It was a grassroots effort then—just as bringing awareness and engendering compassion within the Christian Community needs to be a grassroots effort now.

Depending on our leadership to take the lead, in too many instances, has proven to be a bad decision. This is no time to drop the ball. This is not the time for complacency. The number of Domestic Violence deaths is steadily increasing. And the Christian community is obviously not yet equipped to deal with those who turn to them for help and support.

I exhort Pastors, Christian leaders and lay-people to get involved in this worthy effort. I exhort Pastors, Christian leaders and lay-people to refuse to tolerate politically correct hypocrisy.

If we are not an active part of the solution--we are part of the problem. Become part of the solution. Join the Network!

Jocelyn Andersen

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Positive Roles Can Churches Play In the Safety Planning Process if...?

Question: What positive roles can Churches play in the safety planning process if the victim does not want to pursue assistance from the criminal justice system, but is willing to pursue assistance from her religious community?

Answer: I'm going to be honest and say that for starters, it would be good if churches were even willing to participate in the safety planning process to begin with!

Sadly, in so many instances, I have not found this to be the case. So number one, I would have to say, is to be willing to get involved in the first place.

Then extend help without attaching conditions. There were times help was denied to me (not necessarily by my church) because I would not meet someone's condition (i.e., I'll come get you if you promise never go back. Or worse, why should I come get you? You'll just go back.).

The process must begin with the following two things:
  • Willingness to get involved
  • Not attaching conditions to the involvement such as requiring the woman to seek legal remedies or never go back.

Demonstrate respect for the woman who is seeking help, and grant her the liberty of making her own choices without risking losing our support.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Do Large Numbers of Evangelicals Believe Women Should Shoulder Part of the Responsibility for Being Beaten?

At least one conservative evangelical is honest about his views concerning women and domestic violence.

Below are the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson's comments in a media advisory released just today:
>>"Juanita Bynum's comments and actions prove that she's an angry, out-of-control woman. God wouldn't have her discard her marriage in order to promote the domestic abuse issue or any other phony cause," <<>>how can Juanita Bynum be the poster child for domestic abuse before we know the truth about her role in this altercation? <<>>two sides to every story and like too many domestic abuse cases the husband is being tried and convicted based on a one-sided account<<

I believe the Reverend Peterson may be a bit "over the top" in his attitudes concerning women and what he believes is the "role they play" in domestic violence. However, it might surprise some to find out that high-profile conservatives, Dr. James Dobson and Dr. John MacArthur, don't really disagree with him that women should shoulder part of the responsibility for being beaten. I have cited examples in my book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, where these evangelical leaders essentially agree with what Peterson is saying.

In his bestselling book, Love Must be Tough, Dobson high-lighted an example of a woman who, he believed, deliberately provoked her husband into hitting her, so she could show off her “trophy” (that’s what he called her bruises). He portrayed this woman as being a fairly typical representation of battered wives. He completely exonerated the poor, "uncommunicative" husband who inflicted the bruises (that was in the edition I purchased in March of this year. Dobson just released a new edition of that book in April. I do not know if he has changed anything in the newest edition). And John MacArthur came right out and said (in a recorded question/answer session) that many times, he believes the wife provokes the violent behavior of the husband.

The news reported that the attack on Juanita Bynum was perpetrated in a public setting. From what I can gather, there is little to no doubt that Bynum was physically assaulted by her estranged husband. Refraining from physical violence remains entirely within the realm of responsibility of the one committing the violence. There is no excuse for domestic violence regardless of the provocation or lack thereof.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Recipe for Violence Among Christians

Contents of latest Media Advisory:
I just completed an interview with a Christian radio host in which a new ingredient, in addition to submission, patriarchy and blame shifting, has been added to the recipe for Domestic Violence among Christians -- 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 Dare any of you having a matter against another go to the Law...?

My position is, that any woman, Christian or otherwise, who experiences physical violence should, for safety's sake, take immediate action to protect herself. And this usually involves legal action. My interviewer was obviously not in agreement with this approach. He seemed to feel that the scripture which admonishes believers not to take other believers to court should be interpreted to mean that a Christian wife should not report assaults by her husband to the authorities at all, but rather to her local church leadership only.

For battered Christian wives, this is a very dangerous, life-threatening, interpretation of that scripture. It is an interpretation I am not at all in agreement with. I do not believe that particular scripture is referring to violent crime. And my interviewer conveniently left out the part that says... "but rather let yourselves be defrauded." Obviously this verse is referring to disputes over money or property--not to physical assault.

This interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:1-2, leaves the door open for blame-shifting, an ingredient in this volatile recipe which transfers the responsibility from the one who is perpetrating the violence to the one who is being assaulted. Christian wives are commonly told that they are most likely provoking the abuse, and if they would react to their husband's abusive behavior more submissively, then he would change. Research has shown just the opposite, and blows this unbiblical argument clean out of the water.

The interview underscored the fact that, among Christians, domestic violence is not considered all that dangerous -- as if a Christian wife-beater is not as much of a threat to his wife as a non-Christian wife-beater. This idea is ludicrous, but very prevalent. The proof of that is seen in John MacArthur's statement that a wife should leave while the heat is on, but with the intention of going back when the heat is off.

When is the heat ever off? When is it ever safe for a battered wife to return to a violent home?

During the course of this interview, I was also asked about church discipline for batters. I agree that church discipline for members who commit violent crimes should be enforced, but in addition to, not as a replacement for, arrest and prosecution.

Jocelyn Andersen, author of Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence is available for comment or interview.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Status of Women in Non-Judeo Christian Cultures

Many decry the Bible, the two religions based on the Bible, and more importantly, the God of the Bible and his Son, Jesus Christ, as being male-chauvinist and sexist. Injustices to women in Judeo-Christian societies are very often blamed on the influence of the Bible.

While it is true, that over the centuries, many have abused the scriptures in socially successful attempts to validate their own male-chauvinist and sexist attitudes, the God of the Bible is not a chauvinistic God, nor is the Bible itself a sexist book.

Even a casual comparison between what the Bible teaches and how historically non Judeo-Christian societies have treated their women shows that the most humane and dignified treatment women have ever received has been in Judeo-Christian societies.

Compare Ancient Israel to Ancient Athens
A comparison, for example, between the patriarchal, ancient Hebrew culture portrayed in the Old Testament, and the politically patriarchal, but radically Democratic, 4th and 5th century Athenian culture, reveals discriminations against Athenian women that have never existed in either the Christians or the Jewish cultures, either before or after the 5th century, and are not espoused by either the Old or New Testaments of the Bible.

Women in Leadership
Athenian women were completely and absolutely excluded from any type of tangible power. They were not even considered citizens of Athens—only males could be citizens and participate in politics and own property.

Yet, in the Hebrew culture, we read about women doing both. The Israelites at one point were governed by a woman.

This same woman was their political, military, and spiritual leader. Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, was prophet, Head of State, and commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel. The Bible records that in all of Jewish history, only two men ever held all three of those positions at the same time. They were Moses and Samuel. A chauvinistic God would never have allowed a woman to rise to such a position of prominence and power, nor would it have ever been recorded in a sexist book.

The Right to Buy & Sell Property
Although the hereditary rights of citizenship passed to an Athenian male through both his mother and his father, his mother actually possessed none of those rights. She was not considered an Athenian citizen, and besides the right to be involved in the politics of Athens, one of the most important rights of citizenship was the right to own property.

Since Athenian women were not citizens, they were prohibited from owning either houses or land.

There was no such prohibition placed upon the women of Israel. The Bible record reveals, in the book of Proverbs, a married woman who was also a shrewd business woman—and one of her businesses just happened to be the buying and selling of real estate.

We also see an example, in Joshua, of two daughters asking their father to deed them some valuable property, which he does. A chauvinistic God would never have allowed either of these two things to happen, nor would a chauvinistic book contain records of such things.

What about legal capabilities of Athenian women?
There were none. Below are a few examples:

A fourth century Athenian woman was under guardianship her entire life. If her husband died, she could place herself under the care of the guardian of her minor sons (she was not considered legal guardian of even her own children). If her sons had reached their majority by the time her husband died, she could choose one of them as her guardian.

She was considered incompetent from the moment of her birth until the moment of her death. During the course of her entire life, an Athenian woman never knew an autonomous moment.

On the other hand, Hebrew woman were never considered to be the property of their husbands or required to be under guardianship after marriage.

In the event of her husband’s death, a Hebrew women was not required to be placed under the guardianship of a male relative. She was the guardian of her own minor children.

The widow, Naomi, had male relatives when she returned to Israel from Moab after her husband died. But both she and her widowed daughter-in-law lived alone. Life was not easy for them, but they were free to live independently.

The Widow
The Old Testament story of the widow who, with the help of a miracle, was able to pay off her husband’s debt thereby preventing her sons from being sold into slavery is another proof that Israelite women were allowed to live independently of men and also retain custody of their minor children in the event of the husband’s death. This widow paid off the debts and retained guardianship of her sons.

Anna, a prophetess in the Bible, was married for only seven years before becoming a widow. She was not required to return to the guardianship of a male relative after her husband died. Nor was she required to marry again. She chose to devote the rest of her life to ministry as a single woman. She ministered to God day and night in the temple. She lived a completely autonomous life. A chauvinistic God would never have allowed a woman to serve him in such a way, and a sexist book would never have contained Anna's story.

Personal Identity
As a rule, in 5th century Athenian writings, men were referred to by their proper names. With few exceptions, women were referenced only by their relationships to their closest male relatives. A woman was identified as so and so's mother, sister, daughter, etc.. A few Athenian women (related to men of note) are mentioned by their proper names, but by and large, even in legal proceedings where a woman may have been center stage, her proper name was not considered important. Therefore it was not even documented.

No such discrimination occurs in the biblical histories. If a woman was a main player in a biblical event, her name was recorded. Her closest male relative’s name may also have been recorded, but the woman herself was accorded the dignity of having her identity recognized separately from her male relative’s.

The number of biblical examples of this are too numerous to attempt listing them all, but just a few are: Miriam the prophetess and sister of Moses; Deborah, judge, prophet, commander-in-chief and wife of Lapidoth; Hulda, prophetess and wife of Shallum; Esther, cousin of Mordechai and Queen to Ahasaurus; Ruth the Moabitess who became the grandmother of King David; Naomi, wife, mother and mother-in-law to Ruth; Rahab the harlot; Rizpah, a concubine who took on a King and won. The examples can go on and on. A God who was chauvinistic and sexist would never have allowed the proper names of these women to be recorded. A chauvinistic book would never have listed their praiseworthy and heroic deeds.

In 4th and 5th century Athens, marriage and motherhood was the fulfillment and ultimate goal of every Athenian girl. Sound familiar? No one can blame the Judeo-Christian influence of the Bible on that one. Athens was a polytheistic society which acknowledged many gods—but the God of the Jews and Christians was not one of them. The women of Athens were limited, in the extreme, in the choices they could make for their lives.

There are cultures even today whose women are as limited as the women of ancient Athens. There are modern cultures that advocate for the torturing and killing of women who fail to produce a male child for their husbands, and yet we see women who never conceived a child spoken of positively in the Bible.

Nowhere in either the Old or New Testaments of the Bible is it even hinted at that the only avenue open to the women of Israel was marriage and motherhood.

There are women praised in scripture who either never conceived or whose personal choices led them never to become mothers. Esther is famous for rescuing her people from genocide. But there is no record that she ever became a mother.

If Anna, the prophetess, became a mother during her seven years of marriage, there is no record of it, nor is either her husband’s or her father’s name mentioned. We know very little of Anna other than it was her choice to live the remainder of her life, after widowhood, serving God as an unmarried woman.

A chauvinistic God would certainly never have allowed women to make such choices nor would these choices and have been recorded in a sexist book.

Negative Stereotyping of Women in Ancient Writings
In ancient Athenian writings, we see women negatively stereotyped on a consistent basis. Women were commonly described as drunkards, weak, fearful, vindictive, irrational, self-indulgent, etc..

Men, of course, are portrayed as just the opposite.

We see no such discriminatory stereotyping of women in the Bible. Equally as important, is the fact that men are not consistently described as being near perfect. The Bible records both the sinful and praiseworthy acts of both men and women.

In the Bible we see both men and women performing heroic exploits. In the Bible, we see both men and women behaving in both positive and negative ways. That kind of impartiality is rare to non-existent in any other body of ancient writings. That is because the Bible is not a chauvinistic-sexist book, nor is the God of the Bible a male-chauvinistic or sexist God.

Value of Muslim Women Today
Shall we take a look at modern day Islam and compare the value the Islamic sacred writings of the Koran and the Hadith place on women compared to the value the Bible places on women?

A Muslim woman is worth nothing aside from whatever subjective value her husband places on her. A Muslim husband can legally deny his wife the right to care for or breast feed a child from a previous marriage. There is no community property in an Islamic marriage, and a wife is completely dependent upon her husband for her daily sustenance. The Koran and the Hadith provide numerous instances in which a man can refuse to support his wife. It goes without saying that wife-beating is legal in Islam.

How about Hinduism or Buddhism?
What kind of rights do women possess in countries where these religions have dominated and helped shape the culture for centuries?

It was the influence of the Bible that stopped the abhorrent Hindu practice of suttee [sati] in India where widows were burned alive on their husband’s funeral pyres.

Only in the last year or so have laws passed in India making wife-beating illegal.

No claim that the Judeo-Christian God is a male-chauvinist or that the Bible is a sexist book can be backed up by with facts.

The fact is that, although men and women are continually attempting to create God in their own image, the God of the Bible is not a male-chauvinist, and the Bible is not a sexist book.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Is Christianity a male-chauvinist, sexist religion? Has God really given Christian husbands military-like authority over their wives?

New Testament Men & Women are Equal
In the New Testament book of Galatians, Chapter three verses 27 and 28, we read that God sees no status difference at all between male and female Christians. The scriptures plainly say we are all equal ("one") in Christ. We read in 1 Peter 3:7, that men and women are heirs together of the Kingdom of God.

New Testament Women Can Preach
We read in the book of Acts, that God’s daughters as well as his sons will prophesy. In some churches prophesying is limited to preaching. But preaching is preaching, so obviously, in spite of the many obvious chauvinistic and sexist interpretations of scripture, the New Testament places no prohibition on women preaching.

Although some men abuse the scriptures and use them against women in an oppressive way, Christianity, as the Bible clearly reveals, is not a male-chauvinist, sexist religion.

The "Authority" of Husbands
The entire Issue of the "authority" of husbands hinges on only one verse in the entire Bible. That is Genesis 3:16.

The very popular Matthew Henry Commentary, leading evangelical leader John MacArthur, and many other evangelical writers and leaders unfailingly refer back to this verse as the last word to any and all arguments on the subject. The general interpretation of Genesis 3:16 is based on the assumption that the married male was endowed by God with authority over his wife and given the right to demand submission from her.

Does the passage in Genesis 3:16 which says "and he shall rule over you," really mean that men were given a promotion in status within the marriage relationship because of sin? If that is what it means, then it would be the only verse in the entire Bible that definitively gives males authority over females.

Submit, Subject, Obey
Other verses which some hold to validate that interpretation of Genesis 3:16 are Titus 2:5, Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 where wives are commanded to obey their husbands, be in subjection to their husbands and to be silent in church. These are verses which are also widely believed to bestow authority on the husband over the wife.

However, a close look at both the context and the Greek they were originally translated from quickly dispels any such notions.

All Christians are Commanded to Submit to One Another
The same Greek word, Hupotasso, that commands wives to be subject to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22, is used in Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Peter 5:5 to command all Christians to be subject to one another.

Has every Christian really been given a military-like authority over every other Christian?

Absolutely no one claims that to be the case. Indeed, it is ludicrous to even consider such a thing. Yet that is exactly how these passages are interpreted when it comes to the husband and wife relationship.

The very same Greek word translated, “submit,” in Ephesians 5:22 in reference to wives, is also used in Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Peter 5:5 in reference to all Christians, who are commanded to be “subject to” and to be in submission to one another.

That means the Christian husband is commanded in scripture to also submit and “be subject" to his Christian wife.

Have All Christians Been Endowed With Authority Over All Other Christians? Do All Christians Have the Right to Demand Submission From All Other Christians? As we have shown, the command to submit and be subject to one another applies to husbands, wives and extends to all Christians. This command for all Christians to submit to one another in no way gives any Christian the authority to demand submission from any other Christian.

There is absolutely no implication of authority being conferred on wives over husbands in Ephesians 5:21 or 1 Peter 5:5, and it is both interesting and very telling that virtually no one argues this fact. So why is it that so many claim that Ephesians 5:22, which uses the very same Greek word as verse 21, bestows a mystical, unquestionable mantle of authority over wives on Christian husbands?

Be Fruitful Multiply and Have Dominion….
The original biblical mandate, found in Genesis 1:27-28, was for all mankind (both male and female) to have dominion over the land creatures, the sea creatures, and every living thing that moved upon the earth. No mandate was given to either the man or the woman to exercise dominion over the other.

Old & New Testament Mandates After the Fall of Man
According to Jesus, in Matthew 22:36-40 the entire body of Old Testament writings can be summed up in two commands, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourselves.

The New Testament mandate for mankind is to place ourselves unselfishly at the disposition of one another—to prefer one another before ourselves, to refrain from thinking to highly of ourselves. Christian leaders are warned not to Lord it over their flocks. Jesus said in John 13:35 that all men would know we are his disciples because of our love for one another.

Demanding Submission is a Violation of Scripture
In light of those mandates, to demand submission from anyone (other than legal, judicial authorities) clearly violates the biblical command directed towards every Christian to be “subject to” (accountable to, at the disposition of, defer to) every other Christian. Therefore, the same limitations placed on wives and every other Christian in regards to submission, must be placed on the Christian husband in regards to his wife.

The marriage relationship is not exempt from the general biblical instructions Christians are given regarding all relationships—one of which is to submit ourselves one to another.

Women Keep Silent
The passage in 1 Corinthians where women are forbidden to speak in church is clearly in reference to a wide-spread local custom of the time and no longer applicable today. There are very few, if any, churches in existence today that, in actual practice, adhere to that custom. So there is no good reason to defer to that verse in defense of the authority of the husband.

Keep it in Context
It can be argued that the same Greek word, Hupotasso, translated obey, submit, and be subject to, also applies to children, to slaves and to government authority, so obviously this word has a variety of applications including a connotation of strict obedience and subjection in some usages.

All this tells us is, that the context in which this word is used, must be taken into careful consideration before coming to a conclusion as drastic and consequential as giving husbands the unilateral right to demand a lifetime of subjection from their wives, thereby depriving them of all autonomy and personal freedom.

Evangelical Views Converge
It is interesting that the various schools of evangelical thought disagree about whether or not males and females were originally created equal and given dual authority over the earth and over all creation. Some believe the Bible teaches this is the case and some do not.

Most evangelical views converge, however, in assuming that after the fall—because of sin, the man was given authority over the woman. It is generally agreed that the woman’s curse included more pain in childbirth, increased frequency of pregnancies /multiple births—and that her husband would rule over her by being promoted to the status of “head of the house.”

The man’s curse, it is generally agreed, had to do with working hard. He was told he would eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, because the ground was cursed as well.

Was Adam Given a Mandate To Rule?
No one can deny that the scriptures say, “…and he shall rule over thee.” But is that a solid basis for interpreting Genesis 3:16 to mean that Adam was given a promotion within the marriage relationship and received a mandate from God to rule over his wife?

It cannot be proven from scripture that Adam was given any such mandate.

The scriptures simply say that one of the consequences Eve would have to pay because of sin being introduced into a previously sinless creation, was that her husband would rule over her.

Adam’s ruling over his wife was a perversion. It was a curse. It was a consequence of sin—not a reward for it, and certainly not a command.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I am often asked if I believe patriarchy is responsible for spousal abuse and domestic violence. To a large degree, the answer has to be yes. But I believe the real question(s) should be, "Is the God of the Bible a male-chauvinistic God? And is the Bible itself a sexist book?

All ancient cultures were patriarchal cultures, and many cultures today still are, but it seems the Bible is singled out and blamed for many of the past and present prejudices and mistreatments of women simply because the Jewish culture, chronicled in the Old Testament, was also a patriarchal culture. Bible Definition of Patriarch In the Bible, the word "patriarch" is used only 4 times—all in the New Testament and all translated from the same Greek word, Patriarches, which literally means male ancestor or progenitor. Biblically speaking, the word patriarch encompasses no greater meaning than that.

The secular definition of patriarch is: The father and ruler of a family or tribe, a venerable old man, a bishop of the highest rank in the early Christian church, and patriarchy is defined as: a form of socialization in which the father is head of the family and in which descent is reckoned in the male line—the children belonging to the father's clan.

Feminist's view patriarchy as inherently oppressive and discriminatory towards women, i.e., male-chauvinistic and sexist, and rightly so, as historically, in practical application, that view has been well validated.

Women in the Genealogical Records: The Jewish culture, which is the culture the Old Testament of the Bible primarily chronicles, was a patriarchal culture. We see that the Jewish genealogies are primarily patriarchal—almost 100%. But they deviate from time to time to include women in the genealogical records. Although there is no law or command found in the Bible concerning family record keeping, it is obvious that the human race, as portrayed in the Bible, quickly turned from reckoning family lines through female kinship to the patriarchal method of socialization. Katharine Bushnell maintains genealogy was originally reckoned through female kinship, and she makes a good argument for female kinship and how and why it was overthrown.

Is the Bible a sexist book?

Definition of Chauvinist: The dictionary defines a chauvinist as one who puts his or her own gender on a pedestal, an irrational advocacy and love for one’s own sex, the minimization, status declassification, putting down, and belittling of the opposite sex as a whole. Sexism: A sexist is someone who advocates for and endorses chauvinistic thought and policy, implementing actual discrimination against the opposite sex.

Sexist discrimination is the culmination of chauvinistic thought, so logically, chauvinism leads to sexism. Do the scriptures put the male sex on a pedestal? Do the scriptures put the male sex on a pedestal and irrationally advocate for it while at the same time minimizing, putting down and belittling the female sex? The answer to that question is, no.

The Old Testament example is that women were not only equally citizens of the commonwealth of Israel just as men were, but were also well able and permitted to handle the responsibilities of leadership. Women are still afforded respect and opportunity in that culture. Deborah Golda Mier was born in Russia, grew up in America, and became the second female Prime Minister of Israel. The first was the Deborah we read of in the book of Judges.

In Deborah, we see an ancient example of a woman who held three major positions of authority in Israel. She held these positions simultaneously. Although she had a husband, she was the one who was Prophet, Judge (equal to our modern day heads of state) and Commander in Chief of the armies of Israel. Under her administration Israel lived in peace for forty years. In how many ancient patriarchal societies, besides the Old Testament Jewish culture, do we see a woman held in such high esteem that she serves as head of state, Commander in Chief of the army while also being recognized and deferred to as prophet to the nation? Look around the world today and count the number of women leaders in comparison to men. Even though, at this present time, there are more women in leadership than at any previous time in history, the worldwide ratio of men to women in leadership is still poor. Women are still not permitted to vote in many of today’s cultures. They are counted as citizens of their countries only in terms of possession but not in privilege.

God Created Men and Women Equal The Bible itself (aside from how it is interpreted and taught by traditional role religionists) supports the fact that God initially created male and female as equal in status. The Bible says that both men and women are created in the image of God. The discrimination we still see today, even in these modern and “enlightened” times, is a consequence of sin being introduced into God’s creation. Although God himself, in the third chapter of Genesis, predicted that oppression of wives by their husbands would be one of the consequences of the woman’s sin, Genesis 3:16 does not imply, nor can it be inferred, that authority over their wives has been bestowed by God upon all husbands. But this remains the popular interpretation of the verse.

The fact is, there are many examples in scripture that refute this interpretation and prove that God is not a chauvinistic God, and that the Bible is not a sexist book, but in spite of the weight of scriptural evidence against it, most theological arguments concerning male authority ultimately lead to Genesis 3:16 anyway.

Women in the Bible: Would a sexist book include books named after women—books which memorialize their praiseworthy and heroic actions? Would a sexist book include women in genealogical records? In scripture, there are repeated instances of praiseworthy and heroic actions of women being recorded. The record is there of women in ministry. These things cannot be denied. We read of women functioning as deacon, apostle and teacher. The first person to see Jesus alive and to preach the gospel was a woman. We see women in the highest positions of leadership in the Bible. The most dramatic, of course, is Deborah, but we see others as well.

Huldah, the wife of Shallum, was a prophetess. Although she was married, there is no indication that she was required to consult her husband when she served the Lord as prophet to the nation of Israel. That placed her on the same authoritative plane as Nathan, who was prophet to Israel during the reign of King David. The same goes for Deborah. There is no evidence that she was required to consult with her husband as she carried out her leadership responsibilities as Judge, Prophet and Commander-in-Chief. Some may argue that Deborah is the only example in the entire history of Israel of a woman holding that position, but the fact is, there were only two men in the entire history of Israel who held all three positions simultaneously, and these were Moses and Samuel. So we see that Deborah's leadership position superseded that of every male in the entire Old Testament with the exception of the two she held equal rank with.

A chauvinistic-sexist book would never have carried the stories of Huldah and Deborah. It is the biased interpretations of traditional role religionists that has given the Bible a bad reputation as a male-chauvinistic and sexist book.

Jocelyn’s next book: Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery, & the Evangelical Caste System, is scheduled for release on July 20, 2010 to coincide with the 162nd anniversary of the second day of the historic Seneca Falls Women's Conference held at a Methodist church in Seneca Falls, New York. It was a decidedly Christian event.

Visit the following link for details:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beauty for Ashes

Just this morning I found myself feeling the sting of something that happened to me years ago, and that I thought I had gotten over and forgiven the offender for!

I was really caught off-guard when feelings of resentment and unforgiveness surfaced concerning this particular incident. I had to give myself a good shake and remember that I really do believe all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose. All things--even the worst things.

I can thank him for the things that hurt and marvel that according to his great mercy and power I am even still alive (if I dwell on some things though, it can get scary). I have found that is the only way I can truly forgive. That and asking myself just what that person could do that would satify my sense of justice and settle it for me.

This answer to that of course, is that there is nothing they could do to make up for the pain and injustice. Nothing that would satisfy my soul. Only Jesus can give me peace on that one as I obey him in forgiving and be consciously thankful that he can take these awful things and through a power only he has, make something beautiful grow from the experience.

He truly does give beauty for ashes....

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Young Mother's Story

Churches are failing abused women through a combination of bad advice, faulty theology and a Catch-22 where women are told divorce is not an option and yet held in contempt for staying in the situation and tolerating abuse...

That's how Bob Allen, managing editor of
Ethics Daily began his very moving and powerful article/review of, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, published on July 13, 2007.
He showed himself for the advocate he is on behalf of battered women.

In fact, I have been moved more than once by the sincere compassion demonstrated by evangelical journalists like Bob Allen of Ethics Daily and Ed Thomas of
One News Now.

Within the past week or so the story of a young mother was brought to my attention that had me spitting nails and reminded me all over again of why I wrote Woman Submit!

This young woman had escaped an abusive husband and, along with her small children, was attempting to rebuild her life.

She had found a church she really loved and threw herself whole-heartedly into being a part of the worship and fellowship activities there.

According to a fellow church member, with the exception of her children, "The church was all she had" in her life during the short time she been attending services there.

Now this was not a small narrow minded so-called "fundamentalist" church, but rather a very large church of one of the more "progressive" and modern evangelical denominations. In fact, the denomination in question has done several surveys concerning domestic violence and portrays a compassionate public image for women who find themselves in such circumstances.
The church member who shared this young mother's story with me did so out of profound regret concerning a decision the Church leadership made in regards to this young woman and her children.

His regret was such that he ultimately left that church for one he hopes would demonstrate more sincere compassion towards its members.

It is not uncommon for the spouses or former spouses of abused or battered women to not take the divorce or separation quietly. In fact, they rarely do. It may surprise the uninitiated to find out that the workplace is a common place for battered women to be killed or injured by their violent spouses or ex-spouses.

This young woman happened to be at church when her ex-husband showed up. Fortunately he did not harm her or anyone else, but before he left, he had made quite a scene, thoroughly humiliated her and possibly frightened a few other people as well.

I was not told the extent of the incident or whether or not police had to be called. All I was told was that after this happened, the young mother was summoned to the pastor's office and informed that this was not the right church for her. He felt certain she would be happier if she found another place for herself and for her children to worship and fellowship.

This large, rich (they presently have a $5,000,000 building project going on), "progressive" church dropped this young family like a sack of potatoes--like so much garbage.

One young woman and 2 small children were simply too much trouble for all the rest of the members, who had their lives "together," to deal with.

Yes, the churches are failing abused women, in more ways than we can imagine. It is a stench in the nostrils of God.

And what a breath of fresh air, what a shot of encouragment it is for me to cross paths with people like Bob Allen, Ed Thomas, Marvin Sanders, Tim Wildmon,Earl and Rachel Gooden, Arthelene Rippy, Ted Elm and so many others who are joining with me in what often seems like an uphill battle to bring awareness and hopefully help generate some compassion towards battered and formerly battered women who draw strength from something as small as our acceptance of them and maybe a willingness to be inconvenienced, just a little bit, on their behalf as they take the steps they need to in order to free themselves from the hellish minefield of abuse.

Christian Men's Movements & Domestic Violence

Here is a question I was asked this week and my answer:

Q:In the early 1990s the Promise Keepers was founded and seemed to usher in a new Christian men's movement. .. I'm wondering how you view the rise of the men's movenment as it relates to domestic violence, keeping in mind the following statement from Tony Evans:

"Men, sit down with your wife and say something like this, ‘Honey, I’ve made a terrible mistake . . . I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim the role.’ I’ m not suggesting, Tony Evans says, that you ask for your role back, I’m urging you to take it back . . . there can be no compromise here. If you’re going to lead, you must lead . . . Treat the lady gently and lovingly, But lead!"

A: I have not kept up with the rise of the Men’s Movement, so I really cannot comment on that. I would like to comment on the statement by Tony Evans that men need to “reclaim” leadership roles within their families regardless of how their wives feel about it (isn’t that what he said?) If that is the message of the men’s movement, I can see how that could translate into domestic violence in some cases.

I cannot disagree that many men have seriously dropped the ball in regards to responsibility towards their families in ways that burden wives with taking on multiple roles of mother, father and breadwinner. But Evan’s advice for husbands to “take back” authority they perceive their wife has usurped from them is a recipe for disaster in a marriage where the husband is prone to domestic violence—and there are plenty of men who are prone to domestic violence in evangelical Christian churches.

Evan’s statement is not surprising to me at all. It reflects an attitude that is quite prevalent among evangelicals that if the leadership balance at home is restored to what they feel it should be, with the wife in proper submission to her husband, then most family problems would automatically be solved.

His directive is not so much dealing with the issue of men reclaiming leadership roles within their marriages as it is with men demanding submission from their wives. This is made quite clear by the fact that the wife is given no option in the matter and lines up perfectly with the way the doctrine of submission is taught and interpreted within many evangelical churches. It is statements like this that lead men to believe it is their God-given right to exert authority over their wives, and this logically leads to problems with abuse if they attempt to assert this authority—especially with men who deal with unresolved anger issues and are prone to violence.

I feel certain Dr. Evans would argue that he is not suggesting that men exert authority over their wives, but what else can he be suggesting when he tells men they need to “take back” the leadership role within their marriages whether their wives agree to being defaulted to a subordinate role or not?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Here are some questions I get asked quite frequently:

Q: Do you think the doctrine of submission is responsible for some of the domestic violence that is taking place in the church?

A: Yes I do

Q: Why do you feel this is true?

A: Nowhere in scripture do we find even a hint that husbands are commanded or even permitted by God to demand submission from their wives. Yet we do find in the Bible where ruling over their wives will be a sinful inclination that husbands will naturally lean towards. Ruling over his wife was not a command given to Adam in Genesis chapter 3, but rather a very negative "consequence" of the fall.

I believe unscriptural preaching and teaching on the subject which stresses wifely submission as the answer to all or most marital problems naturally leads to abuses on the part of husbands as they attempt to assert a sinful authority over their wives that the scriptures simply do not permit.

In times past, scripture passages dealing with wifely submission were interpreted so literally, and enforced to such extremes, that laws were passed which gave a husband the right to beat his wife with a rod “no bigger than his thumb.”

Also, the fact that wife-beaters within the church are rarely subjected to church discipline, while in some congregations women who divorce due to the abuse are subjected to church discipline, sends a subliminal message to husbands that wife-beating or abuse is really not all that bad.

Q: Why did you stay and tolerate the abuse?

A: Ah, there it is, the question of the century! I devoted an entire chapter of my book to that question. In fact, the question of “Why She Stays” is the number one question asked of women in abusive situations.

I found, during the course of my research, that I reacted quite typically to the abuse in my marriage. There is really no simple answer to that question, except the one the Bible gives in Genesis Chapter 3 where God tells Eve that her husband will rule over her and her desire will be for him. The ruling part was a consequence to both Adam and Eve—not a blessing for him and a curse for her. And the desire for her husband part explains why she puts up with it.

In my own case, there were many separations and reconciliations along the way as I attempted to resolve the problems within my marriage. It was just part of the process. And if we believe what the Bible says, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that the abused/battered wife, especially the evangelical Christian wife, does not find leaving an easy thing to do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Male Supremist Attitudes Among Christian Leaders

A recent radio interview with a well-known Pastor was about as interesting, revealing and extreme as they come concerning male supremist attitudes from a Christian perspective.

I was asked to field questions and comments ranging from, "Are you submitted to your husband?" Do you agree with the Bible that he is your head?", "Most woman are angered by the fact [that their men are weak and possessed by them] and they end up destroying men--even their own sons..." to "Women tend to control men, and men become violent because they do not know how to handle this..."

Whew! All I can say is Thank God for his grace in giving me complete peace and composure throughout that interview.

That interview absolutely validated observations I made in Woman Submit!, in the chapter entitled "The Eve Syndrome" concerning the fact that abusive men can be traced back to the Garden of Eden where we see Adam behaving abusively towards his wife with no inclination whatsoever to take personal responsibility for his own actions.

It also validates my conclusion that the scripture in Genesis that says, "...and he shall rule over thee," does not teach that Adam was given authority over his wife as a reward for his sin, but rather was merely stating the fact that one of the consequences of his sin would be that his behavior would change in the fact that he would become very dominating towards his wife--even abusively so in some instances.

The centuries have proven this to be true .

About the Author: Jocelyn Andersen is a survivor of many years of
spousal abuse and domestic violence and is passionate about sharing the God-given insights that brought her out of a lifestyle of tolerating abuse into the blessed place of peace and victorious Christian living she enjoys today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Church Is Battering Battered Women

Instead of asking me "Why I Stayed?" Why aren't leading evangelicals being asked why they are advising battered women to return to violent marriages!

As a formerly battered wife and the author of
Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, I am asked -- without fail -- every time I am interviewed, "why didn't you just leave?"

My question is this, why aren't the people who are so incredulous that I stayed after being battered asking prominent evangelical leaders why they are advising women to return to violent homes?

Prominent Christian leaders who are advising women to try and change violent husbands--not divorce them, advising women to get away while the heat is on--but with the intention of going back into the home when "the heat is off", are not being called into account for doling out this very dangerous counsel. while the women who follow their advice are being battered twice--once by their husbands, and then again by the church at large which berates them for not abandoning their violent marriages in spite of the fact that they are following the advice of well known and highly respected, and trusted, Christian leaders.

These evangelical leaders are very prominent, Have huge ministries and are frequently interviewed on radio and television. Their best selling books are reviewed and generally touted as excellent.

If anyone wonders who some of these leaders are, take look into the archives of any Christian Radio show. I guarentee there will be at least one maybe more interiviews with them found there.

If you are still having trouble, read
my book, where I name a few of them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Woman Submit! Christians and Domestic Violence, Is A Book That Could Save Lives

AUBURNDALE, Fla., April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Christian woman whose spirit is being crushed and life endangered by domestic violence often deals with church sanctioned oppression through unscriptural counsel to submit to her husband regardless of the circumstances. She is faced with a unique burden and needs straight answers -- not unrealistic expectations or cliched, stereotypical platitudes. In the book Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, by Jocelyn Andersen, she will get straight answers, clear scriptural direction, and some tough challenges from one who has been there but is there no longer.
For additional information or review copy:

Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence
Available August 1, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794293-0-9, ISBN-10: 0-9794293-0-7
Paperback, $12.99,
156 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Release Source
One Way Cafe Press, Media Relations
P.O. Box 1954, Auburndale, Florida 33823
(863) 614-0439
© 2007 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Experts want new definition of torture

Steve H. Miles of the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics... said findings "show that the severity of long-lasting adverse mental effects is unrelated to whether the torture or degrading treatment is physical or psychological."

He said this in relation to a study on the effects of physical torture -Vs- the effects of psychological abuse that was launched in an effort to more clearly define what "torture" is. This is being done in order to not induce long-lasting adverse mental effects on prisoners.

I know from being in an abusive marriage that living with an abuser, even one who abuses predominently psychologically, is inflicting torture on his or her spouse. Living with a spouse abuser is like living in a concentration camp.

I came upon this realization while reading Corrie Ten Boom's book "The Hiding Place" in which she relates her experience in the death camp Ravensbruck. I related to so many of her experiences there, only the things I was relating to were taking place in the, so called, sanctuary of my own home, and my torturer was the man I was married to (no exaggeration here).

The battered/abused spouse is being subjected to "torture."