Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.
The abuser needs healing.
If a woman’s husband has cancer she cannot go to the doctor and receive treatment for him, nor can she consume half of his prescriptions for him. He would need to take all the treatments and meds by himself; for himself. In the case of marital abuse; experts recommend isolated counseling for the abuser. Alone. Long term. Without the spouse.
This is a continuation of my last blog post, “Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?”
Today I again write from a place of vulnerability for the sake of abused Christian wives, especially pastors’ and missionaries’ wives, who are in abusive marriages. My heart goes out to hurting women who are not believed when they finally muster up the courage to tell their family, friends and/or church that they have been secretly abused in their own home and are now seeking help and healing.
As I wrote in my last blog post; Christian women are taught to stay, pray, hope, encourage, love through actions, and wait on God. Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and the spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness. God does allow for separation and divorce. See Toxic Intervention. A Toxic Relationship and a Therapeutic Separation. Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse.
You never know what goes on in someone else’s home. You have no way of understanding if the woman sitting next to you in Bible study, or worshiping next to you in church is secretly being mistreated in her home. If she should muster up the courage to tell you; please listen. Please believe her.
What is at the root of abuse?
Most abuse comes from one, or a combination, of these factors:
- Pornography and sexual addictions
- Substance abuse
- Personality disorders or untreated mental illness
- Deep seeded societal and/or nonbiblical religious views of women as objects/property
- The abuser has a background of victimization
- The abuser is emulating what they learned as a child from their own dysfunctional parent/s.
Yet an admission of guilt from the abuser is rare; and more exceptional is an abuser seeking heartfelt help to overcome their attitudes and actions. What’s more common is the abuser denying responsibility, placing the blame on the victim, and justifying every unloving word, dishonorable behavior, and/or violent act. As if this isn’t difficult enough for the wife to survive (or in some cases the man because there are abused men too) she has to endure his grand acting ability to win over anyone who will listen to him.
By the way; the above is not limited to marriages. It can be found in other relationships: Friendships, significant others, extended family, siblings, co-workers, politicians, community leaders, or neighbors.
In Naghmeh Abedini’s case she has to endure seeing television and internet interviews, and reading newspapers, blogs, forums and Facebook posts where Saeed acts like nothing is wrong except a wife who has undergone extreme stress for the last few years during his imprisonment and needs help overcoming her issues.
I understand some of Naghmeh’s heartache and frustration, but I never suffered in a media driven, national and international, environment as she is.
By the way—you’ll notice I don’t refer to Saeed as, Pastor Saeed. It is purposeful due to the fact that he is not an ordained pastor through any church denomination, or non-denomination; rather he purchased a mail order certificate.¹ Plus the Bible has clear teachings about those in leadership and teaching positions in the church for which Saeed does not presently qualify.
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” I Timothy 3:1-7
In a statement to the Idaho Statesman (January 30, 2016), Saeed thanked his wife for advocating on his behalf. He said that his marriage is troubled and that he is not perfect, but he downplayed the allegations of abuse.
“Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s posts and subsequent media reports is not true,” he said in the statement. “But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media.”
“In private.” “Not on social media or other media.”His words.
Two weeks later on social media Saeed posted this:
FACEBOOK: Saeed Abedini added 2 new photos — with Saeed Abedini.
Warm Greetings Dear Saints!
We Love because He first Loved us. (1John 4:19)
This is my first post on Facebook after 4 long years of imprisonment. I see there is a LOVE story between us as I went through hardship of imprisonment by you showing your support with sending hundreds & thousands of letters of encouragement and LOVE to the prison. 1000’s of cities and countries and locations gathering for pray vigils, sending gifts to my wife and children, etc.. .
You created a LOVE story that even Muslims in Iran talked about.
My beloved sisters and brothers, I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how much Your prayers and support changed my situation and how much I am thankful for your heart and Care.
I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife’s relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us.
Free By Christ For Christ
An emotionally and spiritually healthy husband would not put such a spin on his words. I read an agenda, an ulterior motive coming through loud and clear. He could have requested, “Please pray for my family” but didn’t. He referred to marital problems and stated, “My wife’s relationship with me is not good.” He manipulated words to indicate to his readers that Naghmeh is the one getting in the way of reconciliation; not him. Please refer to my opening paragraph, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”
Abusers lack humility and honesty. They fail to take responsibility for their role in the condition of their family and marriage.
A godly man would not treat his wife like this—he should advocate his willingness to seek healing and restoration, or make a full admission and acknowledge she has biblical grounds to leave him. Publically, Saeed is making no attempt to win her back. We read nothing like this.
This reminds me of my own ex-husband. He was abusive in the home, ripe with mental illness, and void of conscience all while publicly portraying the godly, soul-winning, personable, full of charisma, scripture quoting, dynamic speaking pastor.
While he was sitting in jail, awaiting trial for being a child molester he penned a letter. The letter was downright disturbing for me to read but what angered me was the fact that the evangelistic association he sent it to believed him. Then they adored him—and praised him—and forwarded the letter to their prayer and financial partners all over the world so they could pray for this (supposed) humble, misunderstood, wrongly accused man of God. Read the letter here: Man Sentenced to Life in Prison Under Jessica’s Law
Based on personal messages I receive from readers; abusers know no boundaries and come from every walk of life including Christian ministry homes. I read of abuse in evangelical homes being common place. I read of some church ministries which recommend the wife stay silent for the sake of Christ’s reputation. What!
Christ does not need us to protect His reputation. He is completely secure in who He is. There is nothing we can do, good or evil, that changes who He is and what He can do.
The book of Isaiah holds a prophecy of the coming Messiah: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1b
He came to set us free; on earth, and for eternity.
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them;” Ephesians 5:11
Sincere sorrow, true repentance, and a renewed heart toward his wife and children would keep Saeed Abedini out of the spotlight, or at least initiate confessing his problems so healing and reconciliation could happen in his family. Instead he is enjoying the fame and taking advantage of the free press, television air time, and financial help while it is available while showing no remorse for his actions toward his wife.
As my ex-husband insisted, God had called him to the ministry and not even his wife and child were going to keep him from his calling. The truth was he relished the public popularity ministry afforded him, and he enjoyed his sinful, messed up choices in life more than he desired healing and reconciliation.
Many friends, mentors, family members and church leaders attempted to call my ex-husband (at the time my husband) to accountability. People saw character flaws, sin issues, and leadership problems but he refused help, church discipline, and would not listen to those in authority over him.
I’m glad Saeed Abedini was delivered from an unjust prison sentence. I pray he finds the strength and courage to repent, honor God and honor Naghmeh, and show both God and Naghmeh respect from a grateful heart; a heart full of healed, true love.
In my next post I will give scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle for a marriage in crisis due to abuse.
Naghmeh remains verbally, publicly challenged by many who do not believe her story. I hope through sharing my history and insight with my readers that more people choose to trust her testimony, and lift her up in prayer.
¹. Facedbook; Naghmeh Abedini, public profile page, March 1, 2016, 6:07 a.m.