I recently read this awful book. I went on about it, at length, on my main site. It was one woman’s perspective about marriage and kids,–all about what God wants. To sum the whole thing up–if you’re a woman, you’re meant to stay at home, having babies, and letting your husband make all the decisions, because he’s the man. Women were made to serve men after all. As if that wasn’t infuriating enough, this woman, has the gall to suggest that if you’re in an abusive relationship, you may have to distance yourself physically because of danger, but you’re still supposed to respect your husband and maintain a relationship with him, because God can change any man.
Look, can God change any man? Well, yes, certainly. If God can create universes, God can change your abusive husband’s heart.
Here’s the thing, just because God can do something, doesn’t mean he’s going to do it. It’s not that God isn’t sympathetic to the fact that your abusive husband is being a jerk and, quite frankly, acting against the things God wants by mistreating another one of his creations; it’s the fact that your abusive husband, no matter how abusive, or how bad, is an autonomous being.
People were given brains so they could think for themselves. God, or whatever higher power you believe in, gave people brains so they could learn about the world and then decide how to act based on their knowledge. Generally, God doesn’t go around forcing people to think and behave in certain manners. We are allowed to think or behave however we want as long as we’re willing to pay whatever consequences there may be.
Let’s say your husband is really abusive; let’s make up a hypothetical guy. Let’s call him Ted. Ted is a real dick. Maybe he’s physically abusive. Maybe he’s mentally abusive. Maybe he’s both. He treats you like dirt. He treats you like you’re not a person. He tries to convince you that you’re crazy. Everything is your fault. All his problems are because of you. You’re stupid and you don’t know how to do anything. He’s the man and he knows more about everything that you. A little slap every now and then is warranted because you were making him angry. If this sounds familiar in your personal experience, I do apologize.
Let’s say you are religious. You pray to God about Ted. Please God, please let Ted stop trying to convince me that I’m crazy. Please God, I’m terribly depressed, please get Ted to stop. Dear God, please don’t let Ted hit me again.
It’s not that God doesn’t hear your prayers, because he does. In fact, they probably depress him a great deal. One of his children, is treating another one of his children in a terrible manner, in a relationship that is supposed to be the most important relationship on Earth, and beyond, to both of them.
We have to get back around to this Ted is his own person thing. Ted can make his own choices. Let’s say God hears your prayers and he decides to send realizations and good thoughts to Ted. Does this mean Ted is going to stop being a dick? Nope, well, chances are, no, but there is also a chance it will work.
Here’s the thing, for this whole thing to actually work, Ted has to accept the help from God. Ted has to accept these good thoughts, or good vibes, or whatever it is. Ted has to want to accept these things. They’re not going to be forced upon him, most likely. I only know of one scriptural story about a man forced to change mentally by God. So the chances of God forcing Ted to be a better husband are not good.
There are several things that make this process more complicated. Maybe God is sending out a ton of life changing vibes to Ted. Maybe Ted doesn’t want them. Maybe Ted realizes what he is doing is wrong, but he doesn’t care, and therefore will not accept any promptings from God on the subject of changing.
Maybe, Ted is so utterly screwed up that he doesn’t realize he’s doing anything wrong. The fact of the matter is to correct a wrong behavior, someone first has to admit that they’re wrong. If you’re a heroin addict, you have to admit you’re a heroin addict. If you’re an alcoholic, you have to admit you’re an alcoholic. If you’re an abuser and you want to change, you have to admit that you’ve been abusive.
Ted may be so high and mighty with his opinions, that he would never allow the thought that he is wrong to even enter his head.
So here is God, sending all these life-changing promptings to Ted, and he’s over there either ignoring them, or not realizing they exist because Ted is Ted and he’s always right, right?
Is Ted going to change if either of these scenarios are the case?
Granted, maybe Ted does allow these promptings from God into his life. Maybe Ted says, “Oh man! I’m abusing my wife! I’ve got to stop. She’s a person. She deserves respect. She deserves love.”
This one is the least likely. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, it’s that how this usually works is that abusers keep on being abusers; they just might mellow out a little as they get older, but they’re still abusers. Maybe they quit beating you after age fifty, but the mental abuse is still good and strong.
If you believe that God loves you, you should also believe that God wants you to be happy and safe. If physical and mental abuse from a spouse has gotten so bad that you’re coming close to being killed, or killing yourself because you can’t take the mental abuse anymore, this is not something God wants. God does not want you to stay with a person who has hardened their heart to your extreme detriment.
What can Ted’s wife do?
Ted’s wife can stay in the abuse and end up a battered shadow of herself, possibly committing suicide because she can’t take it anymore.
Ted’s wife can leave Ted. Ted’s wife can get a divorce. Ted’s wife can go find herself a man who knows how to treat women like people.
Maybe Ted will realize he’s wrong and stop his terrible behavior, but how long is Ted’s wife supposed to wait for this to happen? A year? Two years? Five? Ten? Twenty? Until she’s dead? Is she supposed to wait until Ted is resurrected?
Ultimately, it’s a decision that a woman would have to make with much thought, and prayer, if you’re a praying person.
Before taking some terrible advice from a supposed Christian woman who wrote a book, it’s better to use your brain, which God gave you, to make a choice that benefits you the most physically, spiritually, and mentally.