Lies About Wives: Unraveling Spiritual Abuse and Lies Abused Christian Women Struggle With- Part Five
“You can save him by showing him God.”
“You need to give God time to work in his heart.”
“You need to pray harder.”
“God says wives must be submissive.”
“You need to give him sex.”
“You need to have empathy for your husband’s failings.”
Many of the lies we’re told as wives treat men as if they need us to take responsibility for their walk with God, we need to help men with their “normal man issues” (ie lust), we have to treat them with kid gloves, we have to accept their emotional immaturity, and we have to behave perfectly or they just can’t help themselves from being “harsh” with us.
Why is it okay for Christian men to have fragile egos, to be out of control with their sexual lust, to be immature in their own relationships with God, to be emotionally clueless, and to have to be taken care of like children?
God doesn’t want men to stay in weak, fragile, immature emotional states, needing to be coddled. He also doesn’t want men who are cruel, abusive, petty, controlling, entitled and selfish. He wants men to grow up, take responsibility for themselves, love others selflessly, have self-control, be kind, compassionate and patient, and know Him deeply.
In a healthy marriage, both spouses support one another to follow God, but each person takes full responsibility for their choices, behaviors, maturity, and who they are as a person.
When a wife is expected to take on this responsibility for her husband, she is being told to carry a burden that’s not hers, and to participate in a belief system that limits his ability to grow into the man God created.
In addition, women are expected the carry the entire emotional load of the marriage and are held responsible for the emotional climate of the marriage.
What a disservice to men who are capable of so much more than is expected of them.
This is part five of the series: Unraveling Spiritual Abuse and Lies Abused Christian Women Struggle With
Part One: Our Broken Church
Part Two: Lies About God
Part Three: Lies About What Godliness Is
Part Four: Lies about Forgiveness
Part Five: Lies About Wives
Part Six: Lies About Husbands
Part Seven: Lies About Marriage
Part Eight: Lies About Feelings and Faith
Let’s take a look at some of the damaging rubbish covertly abused women have been told about their roles in their husband’s lives.
As we go through the following lies, remember to compare them against the 4 Cs:
The Character of God
The Consistency of what the rest of the Word says
The Context of the scripture in the book it’s in
You can save him (his spiritual life is your responsibility)
I was told I needed to stay because I could be the one that leads my husband to God.
I was told ‘Maybe God put that toxic person in your life to help that person see the God in you.’ ~ Covert Abuse Survivors
Does anyone see the craziness here that most of the women who are being told these things are married to men who confess to be Christians? Why would a Christian man need to see God in his wife when he supposedly already has the Spirit of God in him?
But even with men who aren’t claiming to be Christians, God never calls a wife to sacrifice her life to help her husband “find God.” An abusive husband will not find God by being allowed to abuse. A wicked man needs to see his sin and his desperate need for God to change his evil and deceitful heart, not to be allowed to continue in his wickedness.
God has great love, mercy and grace for those who sin in ignorance, and this love will draw a repentant sinner to Him.
But abusers are not sinning in ignorance. They know what they are doing and continue to do so because they feel entitled. This type of prideful, wicked man needs to be brought to his knees before God, humbled, and shown that God hates what he’s doing.
The wife should never be sacrificed for a husband who is rejecting God in every way.
You need to give God time to work in his heart
How long is enough? 1 year, 5 years, 20 years? 40 years? How long do they expect her to live in torment, be destroyed to her depths, live with chronic PTSD, and risk her health? How long are her kids expected to live in a home with abuse?
If he was seeking God as he should be (or pretends he is), nothing could prevent God from working in His heart. God answers genuine prayer for heart change, but someone who’s not truly seeking God will stand still, and no amount of time will help.
Do not cast your pearls before swine and do not give what is holy to dogs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matt 7:6)
People who say this are exalting the life of one wicked man over the lives of his family. Clearly, they value men more than women and children
You need to pray harder, then God will bless you
What an arrogant assumption to make, that we aren’t praying hard enough or respecting our husbands. So often, abused women are treated like little girls who aren’t wise in their own spiritual walks and who are to blame for the abuse. It’s sexist and insulting.
No amount of prayer will overcome an abuser’s free will to resist God’s work in his life and remain abusive.
God says wives must be submissive
I was told that I wasn’t being submissive enough. ~ Covert Abuse Survivor
Submission will not stop an abuser from abusing. In fact, being more submissive to abuse will continue the abuse, not stop it. Only people who don’t care about the well-being of a woman will tell her to submit to abuse.
Wives are not slaves to their husbands, required to submit to his will. When wives are told to submit, the rest of the scripture is being willfully ignored:
Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21)
When an abused wife is told to submit to her abuser, the husband is rarely also told to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Something’s rotten here, and it’s called sexism.
In Part Six I will be discussing the patriarchal theology surrounding the man being the “head,” and submission in greater detail.
Men need sex so you need to give him more sex
I've been told, after saying that sex after he watches porn made me feel like a hooker, that I must love him unconditionally and submit to him in whatever he asks as long as I'm not sinning.
I was told I needed to have sex with him regardless of if I had reason to suspect his faithfulness, that if I ended up catching a disease from him, then at least I would have got it while doing the ‘loving’ thing. ~ Covert Abuse Survivors
This demeaning theology reduces men to nothing more than a physical creature with uncontrollable desires, and women to nothing more than an object to fulfill that lust.
Men are so much more than that, but their sexuality, as God created it, has been diminished and warped though pornography and the constant sexualization and objectification of women that they are inundated with their entire lives.
God created sex in a marriage as a reflection of intimacy, not as a physical act to satiate the need of the man.
If a man has so little respect for his wife that he is happy to use her for his own pleasure without even caring if she’s enjoying it, let alone if she’s emotionally safe, present and happily participating, he’s no better than an animal.
We were created higher than the animals and it’s time we held men to the same standard that God does. Come on, men, have some self-respect!!!
I know of husbands who haven’t had sex for over a year because their wives were healing from childhood sexual abuse trauma, and sex was scary and unsafe. How did these men do this? Because they LOVE their wives with sacrificial love and want the best for their wives.
Did they blowup and die from lack of sex? Nope.
Did they have affairs because they felt entitled to sex? Of course not.
Did their man-parts fall off? Nope.
They were just fine because they are loving men acting as God designed them to.
Did their marriage blossom because the wives felt deeply loved, cared for and respected? You bet. And this is what a loving marriage is meant to be– a relationship where both people are respecting and honoring each other.
You need to learn to keep the peace
I was told that a Christian wife is supposed to assume the best and should forgive, forget, and move toward her husband for the sake of peace. ~ Covert Abuse Survivor
No wife can make her husband live at peace with her if he chooses to be abusive. Period. These kinds of lies show a lack of the most basic understanding of boundaries, abuse, and our inability to change another person. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding is common in Christianity and is used to blame victims.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:8)
Wives are expected to be the ones to keep the peace to make up for the husband’s unwillingness to live peaceably. There are several ridiculous assumptions here:
it must be the wife’s fault he’s not being peaceable
a wife can actually change her husband
men must be incapable of living at peace if it’s up to the wife to do it (as if they’re some kind of animal that we have to tame)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Mt 5:9)
The Word tells us to be peacemakers not peace keepers, and there’s a big difference. A peacemaker works actively to create peace where there is conflict. A peacekeeper avoids doing things that will disrupt peace, such as standing up for herself.
When abused women are told to be peace keepers, they are expected to be doormats and accept abuse. They are being told to deny their basic need for emotional safety.
An abused women usually needs to leave the abuser to be a true peacemaker for herself and her children, for there is no way to make peace with an abuser.
You need to have compassion/ empathy for your husband’s failings
Abusing your wife is not a failing or a mistake. It’s a choice a husband makes to harm the wife who he’s supposed to love.
Our empathy and compassion are what’s kept us in the abuse for so long. Abusers are skilled at playing the victim and getting sympathy. They have been playing on our kindness and goodness for years to manipulate us.
Abusers don’t change from empathy, but our empathy prolongs their abuse.
We’ve spent years, if not decades, having compassion on our husbands and believing their excuses.
We’ve had compassion when they say they can’t help it, and believed them when they promise to change.
We’ve believed them when they’ve said we aren’t understanding enough, or are asking too much.
We’ve believed them when they’ve blamed us for their behavior.
In our empathy, we have minimized their abuse and its effects on us and our children.
It’s a terribly confusing thing to be told to have compassion for someone who is intentionally hurting us, and it makes no sense.
When someone knows that what they’re doing is hurting us, and they continue to do it anyway, what is there to feel empathy for?
We are being told to take the side of abuser against our own selves!!
When we can identify abuse as the betrayal of our love, heart, emotions, mind, and soul that it is–wickedness, as it’s called in the Bible– we’re walking in truth.
In the Bible, wickedness is not handled with compassion and empathy. It’s called out and removed from the church because of the damage that wolves do.
The most compassionate thing we can do for an abuser is to give severe consequence in the hopes that they’ll choose to repent.
Believe the best ABOUT HIM
Believing the best works when someone hurts you out of ignorance, or snaps at you because they’ve had bad day. When someone has shown themselves to be a loving person with your interests at heart, believing the best when they make a mistake is a loving thing to do.
But abusers don’t have their wives best interest at heart. They are manipulative and hurtful and there are no good intentions to believe in.
You need to be like Jesus to your husband
When I was told I needed to be like Jesus to my husband, I wondered ‘Why doesn’t he be Jesus to me then?’ ~ Covert Abuse Survivor
When we’re told we need to be like Jesus, they’re referring to the loving, gracious, merciful Jesus who has forgiven us for our sins. But they also think of Jesus as a namby-pamby weakling who takes abuse and never says a word.
Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin and wickedness. He doesn’t offer grace to the abuser over justice and safety for the victim. Jesus came to free the abused and is vehemently opposed to oppression.
Being more like Jesus is great advice for a woman who is ready to stand against oppression, who is ready to grab some metaphorical whips and set some boundaries or walk away, but we know that’s not how it’s meant when this is being said to abused women.
Truth about wives
We are meant to be in loving relationships with our husbands. We are beautiful, strong capable, smart, wise women. We are loved by God. We are upheld by Jesus and seen as valuable and equal. Yet we are oppressed and held back, treated like children.
When God created wives (ezer kenegdo), he created a spouse for the man who is a strong and bold source of help in trouble, and a partner that will help him become all that God wants him to be. The Hebrew word ezer is a combination of two roots: `-z-r, meaning "to rescue, to save," and g-z-r, meaning "to be strong." In other passages, it is used to describe the Holy Spirit.
In a loving marriage with a man who will take responsibility for himself, our love, respect, truth and spiritual presence will be received. Our voice will be heard. Our feedback about our husband’s weaknesses will be appreciated.
We will be honored as the ezer kenegdo. We will grow with our husband into all Christ created us for.
Anything short of this is not God’s will for us.
I have worked with hundreds of abused women. I see that you are loving, caring, truthful, loyal, Godly, committed wives. You’ve worked hard, trying to make your marriages work for decades. You’ve sacrificed yourself for you marriage and children. You’re the kind of wife that any God-loving man would be blessed to have.
Yet you’ve been blamed, misunderstood, and betrayed for following God by rejecting abuse.
Every time one of you lovely, strong women is shunned and accused, the enemy kingdom rejoices, and the church– the very body of Christ– suffers.
But I know that you are strong, brave, warriors, and beautiful daughters of God.
And I also know that when you see Jesus face to face, He will say with tears, “Well done, good and faithful servant. It was never Me who rejected you. Come rest in My arms.”
If you’ve experienced covert psychological abuse and spiritual abuse, come join our private Facebook group for women of faith who are covert emotional and psychological abuse survivors.