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Friday, November 5, 2010

What is Abuse?

The lastest posting on Stacy McDonald's new kick-the-wounded-while-they're-down blog is written by an anonymous woman calling herself "Abigail". The entire thing is heartless and a blow to anyone who has ever experienced verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse. "Abigail" echos the sentiment of Stacy and others that abuse is only true abuse if we can see the bruises. Any other issue is not abuse, just us being rebellious and unforgiving. So let's look at the word "abuse" for a moment.

Abuse just means "mis-use". I can abuse my expensive cultery by mis-using it to chop concrete. I can abuse my washing machine by mis-using it to wash truck parts. And I can abuse my children by mis-using them in ways God never intended. Mis-use means using something for a purpose for which it was not created or never meant to be used.

In the context of Quivering Daughters, we are speaking of abuse/mis-use of authority and it's consequences. The Bible tells us who has authority and what it's use is in those contexts. Anthing outside of that use is mis-use of that authority. Look at the verses specifically to men in the context of family. Their "authority" is not all-encompassing. Matter of fact, it's on a pretty short leash. There are only two things for which I see God giving "authority" to husbands/fathers: they are to love and sacrifice for their wives, and they are to nurture and raise their kids in the Lord, not provoking or discouraging (Eph. 5:25; 6:4; Col. 3:21). That's it, folks. Any other claims of "authority" are bogus in God's eyes. They are a mis-use of authority.

People were created for God. Isn't that the crux of the famous answer to the question "why am I here?": "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?" We have a purpose and it has nothing to do with furthering men's ambitions. Our purpose is relationship with God, and showing others the importance of relationship with God. Children are people too. They also have a purpose. When they are aquired and used to further the visions of men, their purpose is not being used correctly. The authority of the ones who have been given the care of these precious souls is being mis-used. Because, remember, that authority is only to raise and nurture them, while not provoking or discouraging them. I would also add that verses like the Golden Rule and "be kind to one-another" apply to how we raise our little people and treat our adult children as well.

It is a mis-use of authority to require offspring to stay home and further the "visions" of their fathers instead of sending them out to become ambassadors for Jesus. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to tell offspring that they will go to hell if they refuse to follow the commandments of a man. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to preach a performance-based gospel to your children. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to break your child's wiil, or withhold love and affection until they perform according to your standards. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to kick a daughter out of your home because she wants to go to college, have a job, or otherwise doesn't agree with your plan for her life. This is abuse.

It is mis-use of authority to use threats of God's judgment, threats of never seeing their siblings again, or threats of a ruined life in order to control their behavior. This is abuse.

I could go on. But I think I've made my point. Remember, my criteriae for mis-use of parental authority come straight from the Bible. None of the above can fit under "be imitators of God" or "raise your children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord; do not provoke, but encourage them" etc., not to mention all the "one-another" verses that pertain to how we are to treat fellow children of God.

As I've said before:

"...are we making a big deal out of nothing? Have we made ourselves into victims, casting blame on well-meaning parents and spiritual leaders, not "owning up" to our mistakes or claiming responsibility for our own problems and sins? After all, there is REAL abuse out there...just look at all the shelters for battered women. But as all counselors will tell you, abuse takes many forms. It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ seems to place more importance and validity on the kind of abuse that endangers the body while neglecting the kind that endangers the soul.

Just because spiritual and emotional abuse is subtle and often unseen except by the victims, doesn't mean that it is less important than physical abuse that can be seen. Who are you to look at someone who is hurting and tell them that their pain isn't as important as another's? To look at the girl who wonders if she has any value in God's eyes and tell her "Well, buck up, take responsibility for your life, and be thankful you weren't beaten"? How are bruises on the body worse than bruises on the soul?

I refuse to play the my-problems-are-worse-than-your-problems game. Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies? Perhaps because a heart that is whole can live a beautiful life even in a body that is broken. But it doesn't really work the other way around."

Do not further the wounds of people's hearts just because you don't think they're "bad enough". On the outside, the person with internal injuries looks a lot better than the one whose arm was sliced and bleeding. But which injury is actually worse? Does it even matter? Both are injuries that need healing, both can be fatal. One just looks worse and more obvious than the other.

For further reading on this topic: Abusing Abuse? Part 1; Abusing Abuse? Part 2.


  1. I went on that blog.....
    I stopped myself--barely--from telling the blog to SHUT. UP.
    I mean really? Starbucks Jesus?? First of all, don't insult my Starbucks by pairing it with that tone of voice and that perspective.
    Second of all, children should not live in fear. Not that kind of fear.
    Thirdly, no amount of disciplining the parents will do it. Those beliefs/etc....It's in the heart of the people. It's not a shirt you try on, then throw away when someone says it's bad.
    Fourthly, they don't have a bloody comment box. Cowards. :P
    Fifthly, I hate when people want to argue another side, when obviously that is already being shown in the LIVES of people around us.
    You can delete this. I just had to get it out there.

  2. "Perhaps the best parental treatment for a sinful, inordinate desire for approval is a loving hug together with a gentle, loving rebuke."-- Abigail

    Unbelievable. Yes, parents, if your children want you to approve of them, you should (um, lovingly) rebuke them for this sinful desire! If they grow up to say they were hurt for some reason, it's only because they're rebellious and wanted to have their own way! Abuse? What abuse?


    Very well said, Darcy! Thanks.

  3. Beka, I'm not deleting it. You made me laugh. :)

  4. Eric, I think that one sentence made me more upset than all the rest of that post. :(

  5. Oh yes, that sentence took my breath away. Gotta love it. It absolutely reeks of the self-hatred I harbored as a child [and still do]. That is the sort of phrase you can think over and over when you really, really hate yourself.

    For the purposes of the argument, how does that pan out if an adult child thinks they are seeking GOD's approval by following a non-normative career path? They are not seeking man's approval, but God's. But rare is the patriocentrist who would take the argument that far.

  6. Funny thing is ... I was raised in a loving, nurturing, fundie/conservative/VF-embracing, not-quite-but-almost patriarchal family ... and it took me a while to realize that one career path, one denomination, or even one wifely prospect is not more "God-honoring" than another ... I wasn't anywhere near abused ... but definitely confused. This entire mindset is shackles and labyrinths.

  7. I am speechless. "abigail's" bioo is one of the worst parts of the whole site. Her post can be written off as Stockholm Syndrome, but REALLY??!!?!

    My dad was a 'nabal' and I cannot imagine any other end for such men than a heart-attack. I mean seriously!! They are "such fools they cannot be spoken to." And you know what proverbs says about a person who cannot take reproof.

    But then again, neither can Stacy or any of their kind. They barricade themselves behind no-comment posts, and pretty-sounding verses, and a life of hard labor and servitude in hopes that God will reward them.
    Fools.... all fools.

  8. That blog made me sick. I don't even want to read their reviews of the book. It's like... they get ONE person who starts a blog and writes a book against the teaching and immediately they have to stomp her out... are they afraid of something?

    Another thing I have noticed... all married women I have seen who write books and stuff from that mindset... they have such a low view of their husbands... Like... "Oh, I respect and submit to him, even though he is a "Nabal-like" fool who makes stupid decisions all the time" :-P Srsly...

    Apparently no pain is real but physical pain. And even then, you have to practically be bleeding to death for anyone to maybe think of helping you out or even admitting something is wrong.

  9. I read the post and found nothing hateful in it. In fact it spoke the truth. The bible states way back in Genesis that man will rule over the woman. It also states in the new testament God is the head of Christ,Christ the head of man and man the head of woman. She is to submit and obey her husband. Just like the Amish woman do. The children are to obey and honor their parents, it does not say only when you agree with them. I do not know this young lady or anything about her at all , so I cannot comment on if her abuse is real or just a rebillious spirit. However maybe she should have not written the book, if she cannot handle critisim or questions.

  10. Anonymous- what do you THINK she's doing? She IS handling it, handling far more than can be justified-- despite those who are blind to hate & hidden agenda like yourself.

  11. Oh gosh, where do you even start with such blind legalism?? The sad thing is they are actually sincere. Those kind of people do not want to admit that their perfect world contains dark undertones. That no matter how many hymns you listen to or how modestly you dress, if your heart is false, Jesus is not impressed.
    And sheesh...leave my starbucks out of it. ;)
    Anonymous-maybe since you don't know her at all, you should refrain from commenting on her character and spiritual state. Just a thought. The whole take a beam out of your owm eye thing. Jesus was kind of big on that.


  12. Anon.,
    You do realize that the whole "your husband shall rule over you" thing was THE CURSE. A curse!!! Not the way it was supposed to be, not a good thing, but the result of SIN. If you believe that the curse is prescriptive for your life, then your husband should always have to work with his hands (never a desk job) all the days of his life, and you should never use pain meds or management in childbirth. Be consistent. Also, if "Abigail" was really interested in honoring her husband, then she wouldn't be calling him a fool on the internet. Nor would she be promoting herself as a godly woman stuck married to a fool.

    Head in the NT does not = "rule". Do a word search. Do a study on the word "head". I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Also, since when does "children" mean "adults"? And since when does "honor" = "obedience"?

    BTW, I do know Hillary. She is about as far from rebellious as you can get. She is always gracious and has nothing but kind words to say about everyone, even these ladies who attack her character. You know what she told her friends when all of this started? She told us to pray for these ladies and not to return evil for evil.

    1. Honor and Obedience aren't that far removed from each other.... and honoring never includes lying, slandering and maligning or false accusations. I've seen all of these things done by children toward their parents- Quivering Daughters crowd included. (and so many bitter hearts...)
      Where is the forgiveness?
      Yes, perhaps you have been hurt but there is no need to publicly slander anyone.
      Parents are given to us for a reason.
      God leads them and He also leads us. Neither should be disregarded.

  13. Dear "Anonymous"
    Since you are too cowardly to use your own name, or at least some name, we can't really carry out a discussion.
    Hillary is not cowering in a corner. All of her friends are not crying like they were babies. They are rising up and speaking the truth plainly and openly, which cannot be said for Stacy and "abigail" and the rest of their ilk.

    Get away from here, troll.

  14. Your comment about the meaning of "head" in the NT ("I do not think it means what you think it means.") made me think of the Princess Bride. :)

    You have an incredible ability to write clearly and directly about issues that tend to get twisted up in people's minds. It is maddening -- *infuriating* -- that these ladies have made it their mission to discredit and condemn those of us who have suffered from their ideology and to counteract grace and healing with accusations and patronizing. But reading this was like finding a piece of firm footing in a storm. Thanks for articulating the truth so bravely.

  15. As an older Christian woman who once *swallowed the "**Biblical submission" doctrine. I have known many Abigails. I feel very sorry for her. There are dozens of Abigails sharing their heartache on the No Longer Quivering site. :(

    Abigail is still trying to convince herself that if she subjugates herself the right way, for long enough to finally please God or pass some "test" she thinks God is putting her through, then her husband will either keel over dead or become a changed man. Maybe she has resigned herself to the truth that this is not going to happen, and she considers it her cross to bear for God's glory.

    In other words, she has accepted that her marriage will never be a picture of Christ and the church, or she still thinks if she submits and suffers righteously just a little bit longer things will finally change.

    They won't. The only way things will change for Abigail is if Abigail changes. She will have to accept that this particular teaching ("biblical" submission) is a bust. All it produces in immature men is unbridled immaturity.

    A wife is meant to be an ezer to her husband, and ally, someone to be that friend whose counsel is sweet and whose wounds are faithful. "Biblical" submission prevents her from being that for her husband.

    Her submission to abuse all these years was tacit approval of his character and behavior. She has taught the man that he doesn't need to change a thing, that no matter how he treats her, she will be sweet and obedient. She has rewarded his boorishness, encouraging him to keep right on with his life the way he was already going.

    That is not the actions of an ally, but an enemy. A true friend will not support you in bad behavior, but tell you that you need to change. "Biblical" submission robs husbands of that true friendship, and offers nothing but silence, sex and housework in return.

    So yes, be angry with Abigail, because it's not working for her and yet she still insists she's happy. But pity her as well, because she is going to crash and burn eventually. She can't keep deferring her hopes forever. :(

    * see my post "Poison for My Marriage" on my blog http://shadowspring-lovelearningliberty.blogspot.com/

    ** Stacy and her ilk teach about submission, not patriarchy. They are women so they can't teach men, for one, and the huge bulk of all the literature is not directed to teach men how to love their families in a God-honoring way, but to women and children about how to SUBMIT regardless of the nature of their patriarch's actual character.)

    1. BUT Abigail does have the power (as a Christian) to make a difference in her husband. Her prayers don't fall on deaf ears- God hears them. She can be a beautiful example of grace, humility, compassion, love, and respect to him. She can show him what a True Christian is all about. I've seen many women who "stuck" through it and brought their husbands to the Lord and by God's grace, changed their lives forever. God always blesses those who obey Him and by Abigail doing that, she is becoming more and more like Jesus. And that is worth an eternal reward.

  16. Very true, shadow. What they gloss over and ignore is that this whole patriarchy teaching plays at every man's ego and desire to rule. No matter how "mature" or "strong" of a Christian he is, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    "Rebellious husbands/fathers who think they are the ultimate authority, and are accountable to no one besides God, are not practicing biblical patriarchy. These men want their wives to submit and their daughters to obey, but they demonstrate no obedience or accountability themselves." - ST

    This is true, though "rebellious" is the wrong word. However, Stacy's "solutions" really offer none, since EVERY MAN under this teaching also has no accountability. None. Ask my parents... They lived it for years, all of their close friends are still living it.

    A wife IS a man's accountability, that's what she is there for! (not entirely, of course LOL) As shadow said, a wife is an "ezer", that word is only ever used to mean God coming to help His people when they could not do it on their own, except when referring to wives! This teaching take the translation "helper" and degrade the meaning of a wife to little more than a servant and sex slave!

    She is the helper, the fighter, the one he calls when he needs encouragement, strength. She is there when he needs to be reminded of where he stands, of how to love, of why they married.

    She isn't the little cheerleader in the front row going along with everything he ever says, never telling him he is wrong, always willing to do whatever... even men get bored with that, though it seems rather stepford wife-ish. :-P

    It's the false idea that women can change their husbands through prayer and submission. God cannot fail to respect their petition, they are so good, so holy, so perfectly wifey. Sure, He respects your petition... now go confront your husband!

    1. There's a huge difference between "patriarchy" and "patriocentricity"
      It seems to me you are describing the latter here?
      I think it's perfectly fine for anyone (male or female) to confront their spouse on any issues; esp where one is in sin. But I still believe that the father is the head of the household... it's God's holy order as laid out in the Bible. Which means the Father is ultimately responsible for raising the family and what comes along with it- guiding, directly, leading, providing, and serving. The wife (and mother of the children) should do her best to support her husband in all his tasks. Eve was a help-meet to Adam. We as women can be help-meets to our "Adams" and glorify the Lord by doing so.

  17. Lolz Joanna! Your concluding sentence is awesome. =)

  18. Ooooh, we have some good comments going on heer.
    Great stuff, Shadowspring and Joanna:)

  19. I definitely felt my blood pressure rise reading that blog.

    Here's the thing, to people who claim that only physical abuse qualifies as abuse-- emotional abuse, and the beliefs and convictions that it comes out of, eventually lead to physical abuse. It might start as insults, manipulation, withdrawal, withholding approval... but give a few decades, and something physical will emerge if nothing is used to check that abuse.

    Also, emotional abuse can be called physical abuse because it literally changes our brains-- look at people with PTSD-- victims of abuse have rates that mirror combat veterans, and experience an organic, physical degradation of their brain function, primarily in the cerebellum. Brains LOSE MASS when people are exposed to consistent emotional abuse. Emotional abuse LITERALLY harms women who face it.

  20. I think a LOT (most!) Godly parents are simply just trying to raise their children in a way that glorifies the Lord and follows the Bible. True, parents aren't perfect and they DO make mistakes. But parents are also wanting to raise their children up in the spirit of Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
    Is this a sin? No, it's a godly and righteous thing to do. It's what God wants.
    I think it's wrong for children to blame their parents for their godly and righteous intentions.
    Give your parents some slack and focus on Praising them for what they did RIGHT. No need to point out the flaws continually and bash them. I don't see it as parent honoring/respecting and it certainly isn't God honoring.
    (Do you agree our main focus in life should be to honor God in all we do, say and how we live?)
    Many blessings and prayers!