Many women that were or are in PCG have admitted that they had to endure some or all of the following abusive and demeaning behaviors. Ask yourself if Jesus Christ ever behaved in such a manner toward women? If you haven’t joined PCG yet, stop and think, and investigate the group!
NOTE: For those needing help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (online chat also available 24/7)
The following can apply to those who have suffered abuse in PCG or in any of the controlling splinter groups. At the end, we show examples of non-abusive behavior in good marriages.
Power and Control
- Calling her names
- Yelling at her
- Making her think she’s demon-possessed
- Shaming her
- Making her feel guilty
- Telling her God is disappointed with her
- Telling her she is usurping your authority and has a “government problem”
- Making her do things she doesn’t want to do
- Making her do everything perfect
- Treating her like a servant
- Telling her she will never be in God’s Kingdom
- Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
- Making her ask for money
- Giving her an allowance
- Making her turn her money over to you
- Not letting her be involved in the family finances
Coercion, Threats and Intimidation:
- Threatening to report her to the minister
- Threatening to leave her
- Telling her that she is headed for the Lake of Fire
- Not listening to her concerns
- Being suspicious and distrustful
- Making all the decisions
- Forcing her to submit to your authority
- Smashing things in the house
- Destroying or getting rid of her property
- Physically hurting her
- Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
- Placing obedience to the authority (i. e., “the government“) over her needs
Using Isolation and Control:
- Controlling what she does
- Controlling who she sees and talks to
- Overseeing what she reads
- Supervising her every decision
- Keeping track of where she goes
- Limiting her outside involvement in the world
Minimizing, Denying and Blaming:
- Making light of the abuse
- Saying the abuse didn’t happen
- Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
- Saying she caused it
- Saying the problem is hers
“Abuse strips a person of the freedom to choose.” ~Dan Allender
Abuse in authoritative, controlling religious groups is very damaging, yet very real. Husbands who are/have been abusive in their marriages have most often been taught to be this way by the leader of the group. They may think they are only obeying God as they go about enforcing (often violently) the “government of God” in their families, but in reality, they are destroying their wives–and their innocent children–by their degrading, controlling, abusive, unchristian behavior. Much damage can be done by “lording it over” a wife.
The word “submit” relative to wives does not mean “obey.” “Submit” is a loving word and very mild. It means to “respond” to one’s husband. If a man treats a woman properly, in love, she will respond to that. A personal, loving relationship is the basis for submission. The husband is to be the head for the sake of order, but this does not give him the right to be a top sergeant in the home. Christians are under Christ as the “Captain of their salvation,” but the relationship is based on love and is not military in any sense of the word. (See: Damaged Disciples by Ron & Vicky Burks, chapter 9, “The Root of the Problem.” Note: This book is now out of print. Check your library, used book stores, or an inter-library loan.)
The past cannot be erased. In many cases a divorce, or other tragedy, has already taken place. Those who are, or have been, engaging in the above kind of behavior must come to see that believing in the “government of God” and “listening to a man” (i. e., Gerald Flurry; Herbert Armstrong, David Pack, etc.) created this suffering in the first place. Although the abuser may have been a victim of an abusive childhood, he must realize he has additionally been deceived by false, perhaps even evil, teachers, who have no concept of the true meaning of love, and which has made the situation far worse! (While abuse can also occur by the wife, this is far less frequent in a hierarchal group where the husband reigns supreme.) Making the choice to walk away from such a harmful group, or person, is the first step. Then after coming to understand what true grace, love and mercy is (and beginning to experience it in our lives through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ) lasting healing can begin to take place. Professional counseling may be necessary.
Respect and Love in Good Marriages:
Respect and Love:
- Be willing to listen to each other non-judgmentally
- Help the other feel safe in expressing themselves
- Respect each other’s opinions and talents
- Be emotionally affirming and understanding
- Be honest
- Respect each other’s right to their own friends, activities and opinions.
- Express love in ways that are meaningful to your mate
- Make money decisions together
- Communicate openly and honestly about finances
- Work together in order to stay within the budget
Negotiation and Fairness:
- Seek mutually satisfying resolutions to conflicts
- Listen to the other’s input
- Accept change
- Be willing to compromise
Shared Responsibility and Activities:
- Mutually agree on a fair distribution of work
- Make family decisions together
- Make time for one another
- Share enjoyable times together
Honesty and Forgiveness:
- Acknowledge past abuse and ask for forgiveness from that person
- Acknowledge that putting a leader or group first was destructive
- Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you and forgive yourself
There is no place in Scripture that shows leaders in the N.T. church have the authority to give personal advice and direction in the life of believers. That means there is no military model of church government1 that is supported by the Word of God. If you are struggling to overcome these patterns of abuse, or attempting to reconcile with your family, don’t hesitate to seek professional therapy, especially from those that understand abuse and trauma. See our Booklist under Understanding Thought Reform / Recovering From Abuse and Trauma.
By N. A.
Exit & Support Network™
Speak Out Against Verbal Abuse [offsite link with many good articles]
Philadelphia Church of God is a Sick System!
Shows many of the demeaning ways women are treated in Philadelphia Church of God.
1 Damaged Disciples by Ron & Vicki Burks, Chapter 9, “The Root of the Problem,” p. 136. (Note: This book is available from used bookstores such as Thrift books at a reasonable price.