Christian Leaders who are abusers

A while ago one newspaper covered the story of the ex-wife of a well known leader, who represents the Christian faith.  She talks of being abused by him for 26 years!  Let us pause with that for a second.  26 YEARS!  Her and her four children have experienced such terrible trauma, at the hands of a man claiming to represent the Christian faith, a leader within the Christian faith.

The horrific experience of this woman is not a stand alone incident, unfortunately, many many women experience abuse at the hands of their husbands who are Pastors, Vicars and Church Leaders.  Many of the women I have spoken to who have lived through an abusive relationship with a Church leader talk of the terrible added dimension of your abuser being in a position of authority within the Church community:

  • The dilemma of the reality of revealing a respected leader as an abuser is terrible.
  • The trauma of disclosing the abuse and being asked “Are you sure?” or to be told, “Well that can’t be right because he’s such a nice man!” or to be instructed, “Well you can’t say anything because it’s him who is keeping this Church together!"
  • The hurt of being spiritually abused by him, for example him telling you “You’re not good enough to pray with me.

Perpetrators of domestic abuse come from all walks of life, the only thing they have in common is their desire and choice to abuse their partner to gain power and control over them.  Church Leaders are no different.  This completely goes against the teachings and life of Jesus, who said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life—a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-30)

We must enable the wives of perpetrators of domestic abuse who are also Church Leaders to feel confident that they will be listened to and believed when they disclose abuse.  We must create a culture of zero tolerance to all forms of abuse of women and we must hold all perpetrators of abuse accountable, both within our Church structures and within the judicial system of our country, never forgetting that domestic abuse is a criminal offence.  This should be regardless of whether they are the leader of an organisation representing the Christian Faith, the Vicar of our local Church or our next door neighbour.

More information and discussion at http://www.restoredrelationships.org

Natalie Collins, 06/04/2011