Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Christian Activist Slams Victims of Domestic Violence

If Phyllis Schlafly is not dedicated to an all-out assault against victims of domestic violence and the credibility of abused and battered women, she is making a very good show of it.

In spite of the fact that she frequently skews facts in her own articles minimizing, or ignoring altogether, violent incidences between spouses. Schlafly, attorney, political activist and founder of Eagle Forum, an evangelical watchdog organization, falsely accuses the American Bar Association of using false and misleading statistics in divorce cases where abuse or domestic violence is alleged--which they do not. It is Schlafly, in fact, who misleads her readers by deliberately providing them with false information. Schlafly cruelly slanders genuinely battered women by depicting them as making false allegations against their abusers.

When writing about domestic violence, Schlafly’s articles reek with tabloid sensationalism and deceptive journalism. One would think a veteran journalist who is an attorney as well as a prominent, well respected, spokesperson for Christian evangelicals, could be counted on to present her readers with honest, well researched facts. But the sad truth is that Schlafly has allowed her fear of radical feminists to color her perception of all women who do not fit into her very narrow view of what constitutes appropriate feminine behavior, which is topped by an obvious belief that any woman who takes legal steps to protect herself from an abusive spouse or physically violent relationship is merely a liar using the legal system in order to further her own devious, feminist, anti-family agenda.

Just one example (there are several) of Schlafly’s skewed portrayal of the domestic violence issue can be seen throughout her Town Hall article, "Brave Judge Resists Feminist Agenda," (August 2008). This article is rife with untruths which, considering her status as an attorney with access to much more legal information than the average researcher, can only be construed as deliberate deception and a misrepresentation of easily accessed facts.

In paragraph one of "Brave Judge...", Schlafly states, as fact, her opinion that restraining orders are unconstitutional, that abusive and violent husbands are non-criminals, and that most women who allege abuse are devious liars.

In paragraph two, she states, as fact, her opinion that jail sentences for restraining order violators are unjust. Need I point out that violating a restraining order is breaking the law? And those who violate them are well aware that they will be arrested as a consequence?

In paragraph three, she gleefully begins “proving” her points by introducing the Anibal and Vivian Crespo case (Crespo v. Crespo, FV-09-2682-04) in which Superior Court Judge Francis Schultz, ruled that Anibal Crespo’s rights were violated by his ex-wife being granted an unconstitutional restraining order against him. The case is thought to be headed to the Supreme court. It is interesting that Schlafly's description of the facts of the case differ slightly, yet (as we shall see) significantly from reports submitted by other sources.

In an analysis of the ruling, written by Mary Pat Gallagher, we find the following facts: “The ruling vacated a final restraining order that Vivian Crespo obtained in 2004 against her former husband, Anibal Crespo, based in part on photographs showing injuries he allegedly inflicted in March 2004 when he entrapped her arms in the electric windows of his car when she tried to talk to him about unpaid child support. Anibal was living upstairs from Vivian in a two-family home."

WCBSTV relates the following:
Anibal and Vivian Crespo divorced in 2001 after about 17 years of marriage, but lived in the same two-family home in North Bergen: She was on the first floor with the children; he was on the second floor with his parents.

In 2004, Vivian Crespo obtained a final restraining order from a different judge after claiming that her former husband hit her face and pulled her arms when she sought the child support money. Anibal Crespo responded that his ex-wife attacked him while he was in his car and any injury she suffered came when he closed the car window to protect himself. As a result of the restraining order, Anibal Crespo had to move
."

Schlafly describes the facts of the same case as follows: “Anibal and Vivian Crespo were divorced and rearing their children in the same household when they had a fight, and Vivian asked for a restraining order. Anibal was not charged with any crime, but the judge issued the restraining order, which banned Anibal from his own house and thereby separated him from his children.”

Am I the only one who finds little resemblance between how Schlafly relates the “facts” of the case and the descriptions given by Gallagher and WCBSTV?

Anibal and Vivian Crespo were divorced and rearing their children in the same household?

Schlafly deceptively portrays Anibal and Vivian to her readers as divorced yet still living together. This immediately paints Vivian Crespo in poor light to most of Schafly’s readership which is primarily composed of evangelical Christians. Vivian is going to get little sympathy from that camp—and obviously none from Phyllis Schlafly who had to have known the facts of the case before writing her horribly misleading article. It doesn't take an attorney to know the difference between a "two family house," and the "same household."

Vivian and Anibal Crespo were not living in the same “household.” These facts are clear in news reports read by the public at large and in documents presented at legal proceedings.

"They had a fight, and Vivian asked for a restraining order…?"

It is indeed a sad day when a couple can have a simple argument and a restraining order is granted, no questions asked. However in the Crespo’s case, the argument was not simple. Vivian claims she was hit in the face by her ex-husband, and Anibal admitted to rolling up the electric window of his vehicle thereby entrapping Vivian’s arms. That was assault, pure and simple--regardless of whether they were arguing or not. Vivian’s injuries were photographable by the police. Police photos of her injuries were presented to the judge when she asked for protection from further assault.

Schlafly's statement, "They had a fight, and Vivian asked for a restraining order…" does not even come close to giving readers an honest report.

Schlafy plays on her readers sympathies by writing, "Anibal was not charged with any crime, but the judge issued the restraining order, which banned Anibal from his own house and thereby separated him from his children…"

As an attorney, Schlafly knows that the granting of restraining orders do not carry an automatic sentence of being separated from one’s children. Parental visitation is mandated in cases where restraining orders are granted just as in divorce decrees. But this refrain of, “fathers being separated from their children by frivolous, undeserved restraining orders,” oft repeated by Schlafly, is a veritable mantra with men’s rights and father supremist organizations (the majority of which do a very bad job of masquerading as pro-family advocates).

Schlafly has written at length concerning her objections to the passage and renewing of VAWA, the VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT, which admittedly has some serious problems, especially within the family court arena. Unfortunately, she has allowed her writing on the subject of women’s rights and domestic violence to become extremely biased against families headed by abused (or formerly battered) women and single mothers. She has allowed herself to become the evangelical, feminine voice for groups who pose as pro-family advocates but are in reality, nothing more than men’s activists and father supremists dedicated to the continued suppression of women.

If these groups are indeed “pro-family,” why do their media releases, websites and commentaries reflect the same misinformation and sensationalism as is seen in Schlafly’s article dealing with Vivian and Anibal Crespo? She makes unproven accusations against women such as, “Too often, the order serves no legitimate purpose, but is just an easy way for one spouse to get revenge or the upper hand in a divorce or child custody dispute.”

Who says “too often?” Where is the proof of that? The facts are that false accusations occur no more frequently in divorce/custody disputes than in any other legal dispute. In fact a report by Bala and Schuman published in the Canadian Law Quarterly in 2000 revealed that when it does happen, it is fathers who are much more likely to level intentionally false allegations against mothers. Studies have also shown that fathers who level intentionally false accusations are usually batters or otherwise controlling and abusive.

Sure, there will always be men and women who abuse the legal system in making false allegations. But they are certainly not the majority, and in no way constitute the, “all too often.”

According to the S. L. Keilitz National Center for State Courts, up to 50% of contested custody cases involve domestic violence. In addition to that, studies have shown a high correlation between wife beating and child abuse--even sexual molestation. In spite of this information, mothers who dare to try and protect their children from abusive fathers are very likely to lose custody altogether. The percentages are staggering--70%. Yet Phyllis Schlafly along with men’s rights/father supremist groups continue to scream that restraining orders against batters are unjust and destroy families.

It is domestic violence and abuse that destroys families, not the act of seeking protection from the abuse.

As far as I am concerned, Phyllis Schlafly has become an avowed enemy of battered and abused women (and their children). In my opinion, she has seriously compromised and is well on her way to losing her credibility altogether, as a journalist, as a spokesperson for evangelical Christians, and as an advocate for the American family.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Should Wives Be Subject To Husbands in Absolutely EVERY Circumstance?

Listen To Commentary

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Do Wives Desire To Destroy Their Husbands As a Result of the Fall?

An all too common interpretation of the portion of Genesis 3:16 that says of the woman, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband," is that all women (because of sin) have a natural desire to dominate and rule over their husbands.

Bruce Ware and John MacArthur of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe this is what the Bible teaches and (along with many others) are aggressively promoting this view to evangelical Christians today.

They base their entire argument on a comparison of Genesis 3:16 with Genesis 4:7 where sin is depicted as a lion crouching at the door (obviously in preparation for a kill) and his DESIRE is for (to destroy) Cain.

By extension, those who promote this view, must also believe that all wives have a natural tendency to desire the utter destruction of their husbands--not just to rule over them.

Does this argument hold water?

Listen to entire commentary here


Following the line of reasoning embraced by The Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood via both Bruce Ware and John MacArthur, in interpreting Genesis 3:16, when compared with the obvious context of the verse itself and with Song of Solomon 7:10, the answer is, "NO." The argument of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood holds absolutely no water. They are teaching false doctrine. Their very destructive argument simply perpetuates the curse that Adam embraced, God Prophesied, and that Jesus sets free from.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let Your Women Be Silent in Church….1 Corinthians 14:34

Although many theologians may say they believe the command for women to keep silent in church services. In practical application, they demonstrate that, in reality, they do not. You would have to search far and wide to find a single evangelical fellowship that actually adheres to this verse of scripture. I personally have never encountered one that does.

In how many church fellowships are women required to be utterly silent in all church proceedings? In how many Christian gatherings do we actually see women prohibited from praying out loud, singing any song—in the choir or otherwise, or forbidden to speak up in order to give testimonies, prayer requests or make announcements? The verse specifically says, be silent in church.

So, even though this verse is frequently quoted in defense of authority of males over females, it is otherwise ignored by the church at large including by those who conveniently use it, only when it suits them, in order to make a point.

The Bible record itself refutes the popular interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:34. The scriptures do not prohibit women from speaking. We see women in the Bible who did not remain silent but spoke publicly in the name of the Lord, and their words were recorded in the scriptures: Miriam, Deborah, Anna to are just a few.

As far as church is Concerned, in the Bible we see:

  • That our sons and our daughters will prophesy (How many denominations teach that prophesy means to preach?)
  • Women prophets (Deborah, Hulda, Miriam, the four daughters of Agabus)
  • Women Bible Teachers (Pricilla)
  • Women Deacons (Phoebe)
  • A Woman Apostle? (Junias)

A Question of Submission....

Ephesians 5:21-33 begins with a command for all Christians to submit to one another, and ends by explaining that the marriage relationship is intended by God to reflect the relationship between Christ and his church.

The relationship between Christ and his church is a completely voluntary love relationship on both sides.

Jesus said all men would know we are his disciples because of our love for one another. A husband who exerts authority over his wife, and demands submission from his wife, is not loving his wife and the marriage is not reflecting the love relationship between Christ and his church. Therefore, any husband who exerts authority over his wife and demands submission from her (and any leader who endorses such behavior) is not a disciple of Jesus.

We see this command again in 1 Peter 5:5 (all Christians are commanded to submit one to another). Does that mean that the right to exert authority and demand submission has been given to every Christian over every other Christian?

Most will agree that is a ludicrous notion.

So how can a theological conclusion be justified which claims that is exactly the case with husbands and wives?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pastor Bruce Ware Claims Christian Wives Are Bringing Abuse on Themselves by Not Submitting to Their Husbands? Are They Really?

I have already addressed many aspects of Bruce Ware’s Sermon in my book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, one of the chapters of which is entitled, Church Sanctioned Oppression. I go into the issue of gender roles and some of the reasons for abuse in the chapter entitled, The Eve Syndrome (and no, I do not blame unsubmissive wives).

I have also consistently addressed the main point of his sermon from my earliest interviews after the book was released.

Excerpt from interview:
Q.
Why do you think men beat their wives? Do you believe the doctrine of wifely submission, as taught within many evangelical churches contributes to domestic violence among Christians?

A.
Yes I do. The way this doctrine is taught and interpreted within many evangelical churches often leads men to believe it is their God-given right to exert authority over their wives, and this logically leads to problems with abuse when they attempt to assert this authority—especially with men who deal with unresolved anger issues.

I might also add that the way the doctrine of submission is commonly dealt with (within these same circles) effectively shifts the blame for the husband’s behavior from the husband and places responsibility for it squarely onto the shoulders of his wife. This happens when she is told that if she reacts submissively to his abuse, his behavior might change.

The message that women bring abuse on themselves by not submitting is not a new one, and I have maintained for quite some time that this view is quite common among evangelical leaders and has been transmitted to the evangelical church from its
highest levels.

I believe Bruce Ware's comments underscore the fact that Christian Men and Women who desire to see a change in attitudes (which must precede change in actions) within the evangelical community regarding how to handle the issue of violence in the home still have a long row to hoe. That's why I invite both men and women to join
the Dorcas Network. A network committed to equipping the Christian community in responding compassionately, effectively, and biblically to those experiencing domestic violence within their spheres of influence.

WOMAN SUBMIT! CHRISTIANS & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, is free for download at
http://www.womansubmit.com/

Monday, May 26, 2008

Resources for Dealing With Abuse or Domestic Violence From a Christian Perspective


The four books listed below, are written by authors who have experienced domestic violence and/or abuse and have survived, by the grace of God, to share the stories of their personal journey's out of the minefield of abuse.

These books are complimentary to one another covering a number of scenarios within the "Abuse/domestic violence among Christians" arena. Together they provide well rounded, detailed counsel in advising not only battered and abused Christian Women, but also Christian leaders and individuals in responding confidently, compassionately, and biblically when domestic violence or abuse strikes within their spheres of influence.




Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, is for anyone experiencing domestic violence or marital abuse. It is also for those they are most likely to turn to for help—family, friends, pastors, etc.... The Christian woman whose spirit is being crushed and life possibly endangered by domestic violence is faced with a unique burden, and she needs straight answers—not unrealistic expectations or clich├ęd, stereotypical platitudes. In this book, she will get straight answers, clear scriptural direction, and some tough challenges from one who has been there but is there no longer. Buy the Book Save a Life




Would the REAL CHURCH Please Stand Up!, by formerly battered Christian wife, Susan Greenfield, is a detailed challenge to all Christians in responding biblically when the issue of abuse and domestic violence among Christians presents itself up close and personally at the local church. click here for more info



Another excellent resource is Waneta Dawn's, Behind the Hedge.

In this fictional account of an abusive marriage within a Christian home, Waneta Dawn has done an amazing job of exploring the dynamics of such a relationship, and the destructive effects of it on the entire family. It is written with God given insight, sensitivity, and compassion.

The story is a page turner and portrays biblical guidance for women experiencing abuse that has not yet escalated into physical violence. click here for more info



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Response From Dr. Bill

Below is a communication I received from Dr. Bill Maier (Focus on the Family Vice President and Media Spokesperson) in response to my blog post entitled Advice That Can Get a Woman Killed http://womansubmit.blogspot.com/2007/11/advice-that-can-get-woman-killed.html
~~jocelyn andersen

Hi Jocelyn,

My name is Bill Maier, and I’m a clinical psychologist at Focus on the Family in Colorado. I saw your blog posting about my response to a “Weekend Magazine” listener who had been abused by her husband. Your criticism regarding my “confrontation” advice was right on target and I’ve revised the column accordingly.

Here’s a link to the revised page:

http://listen.family.org/askdrbill/A000000380.cfm

I want you to know that I’ve challenged the evangelical church to acknowledge the issue of domestic abuse during several Focus on the Family radio broadcasts. Here’s a link to our web page devoted to the topic of physical and sexual abuse (from our TroubledWith.com) website:

http://www.troubledwith.com/AbuseandAddiction/PhysicalVerbalAbuse.cfm

Thanks for your commitment to this critical issue.

Bill

Friday, February 08, 2008

Were Gender Roles for Men and Women Established Before the Fall of Mankind?

The importance of understanding what gender roles consisted of, if indeed there was such a thing as gender "roles" before the fall of mankind, cannot be underestimated when attempting to achieve an understanding of gender roles from a biblical perspective.

Evangelical leaders know this, and that is why the gender "roles," as seen in the first two chapters of Genesis are a frequent source of discussion and debate.

Understanding gender roles, as defined before the fall, is important for the simple fact that the entire body of conservative evangelical theology concerning this issue rests on what is contained within the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. And even though the biblical evidence is vigorously denied by many, the record shows that gender roles were radically different before the fall of mankind than after. In fact there is no biblical record of gender "roles" [as we understand them today] before sin entered the kosmos.

According to Pastor David L. Brown Ph.D., God has ordained a rigid caste system in regards to gender roles in which men assume the leadership "role" in the church and home, and women are to assume the support "role." He cites Genesis 2:18 and Genesis 2:20 as the basis for his conclusions. Brown contends that the scriptures which say there was not an "help meet" to be found for Adam ( so God was compelled to create one for him), prove the support role of women was established before the fall of mankind, and that Eve was created for the sole purpose of being an obedient, submissive, support person for Adam.

The writings of Pastor Brown reflect the general consensus of conservative, evangelicals in regards to gender roles within the Christian Church and home. "If man had not sinned," Brown declares, "he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness."

Pastor Brown has some serious flaws in his theology concerning original (un-fallen) gender roles in the following areas:

  • He assumes that the use of the words help and meet (meaning proper [or appropriate] help) in conjunction with the creation of woman implies she was created for the purpose of subordinate obedience to man
  • He assumes that the man was originally created to rule over other people, most especially his wife -Vs- receiveing a mandate to rule over the plant and animal kingdoms only.
In Psalms 33:20, the shepherd/prophet/king David, declared that the Lord was his "help." In this verse, he used the same Hebrew word "help" that was used in Genesis chapter two concerning the woman in relation to the man. Does this imply that David was to rule over God with wisdom and love? Or that God was to obey David with humility and meekness? God was to be a submissive, support person in helping David succeed? Is it possible that the word "help" can be used without any connotation of subordinate subservience? We see it used it that way many times in scripture. God indeed was David's help. And the scriptures are clear, that he is our help as well. But he is certainly not our subordinate servant.

The word "help," in Genesis chapter two in regards to the woman, has no implication of subordinate servitude whatsoever. And the word that follows it, "meet," simply means "proper" or appropriate. The argument can be made that Adam was also an appropriate help for Eve, for the simple fact that they were both humans.

In Genesis 2:20 (one of the verses used by Brown to prove that women were created to serve men), we are told that Adam gave names to all the cattle and all the fowls, but there was no appropriate "help" to be found for him. Why? Because there was no one else like him on the planet. The implication of this verse is clear; each of the animals, both male and female, already had an appropriate help--its own male or female counterpart. But the man did not have an appropriate help. He had no female counterpart. On the other hand, the woman came into being with an appropriate help already in place--her human counterpart, the man.

Was mankind (males in particular) created to rule over other men and women? The bible says humans (both male and female) were created in God's image and that both were instructed to have dominion over all the rest of His creation. We see no command given, in either the first or second chapter of Genesis, in regards to mankind ruling over any other human being. It is simply not there. The female human was given the same benefit as the male human concerning the privilege of subduing the earth by being given dominion over the plant and animal kingdoms.

Neither Genesis 2:18 nor 2:20 proves that the present gender role distinctions defended so fervently by conservative evangelicals were ordained of God before the fall. The rigid gender role, caste system, we see enforced among evangelicals today are nothing less than the result of sin. They have not been mandated by God but, rather, by men.