(I) I have here and there heard about this thing called Battered Woman Syndrome. Apparently it has to do with the fact that a woman who is involved in a relationship with someone who is abusive does not leave the relationship. I have not done research to figure our why, but Wiki lists many reasons among which is the following:
- The abused has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.
(II) I am trying to tie together my thoughts on based on my readings from
(A) Thomas Chalmers’ The Expulsive Power of A New Affection (EPNA),
(B) Ideas from Jonathan Edwards’ The Nature of True Virtue (NTV), and
(C) Miscellaneous contemporary Christian sermons and writings on the issue of Moralism.
(III) The ideas in (A), (B), & (C)
(A) ~ I first learned about Chalmers’ EPNA from Ravi Zacharias’ biography when he was talking about what happened when he fell in love with Margie his wife. When RZ fell in love, all his old loves, all his high school crushes, and what not all were forgotten. They just vaporized. Why? A new affection entered his life and that just sort of killed all the old ones. Here is another story – about the same by – told powerfully well by Dee Brestin.
THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION by Dee Brestin.
~ Now this is sort of the story side explanation of Chalmers’ work. It is perhaps the best way to go about understanding it, because EPNA is quite difficult reading. What Chalmers is saying is this – our affection will always be for something, like say the world or the things of this world. And – to tell a person to simply say “No” to the world just will not work (= Moralism) unless you introduce him or her to a newer and more powerful affection, viz., Jesus Christ.
Another way to put it, we have all heard that man is incurably religious. Invariably he sets his focus on one idol or another. You tell him to say no to one, he will feast his eyes on another. Unless you introduce man to the living God he will flit from idol to idol. Like so with drugs and adultery.
* Note: I am not doing justice to Chalmers writing here. My explanation is poor and needs work.
(B) Jonathan Edwards states that our motives for doing one thing rather than an another involve pride and fear. I.e. our motives are basically bad. It has to do with his distinctions between “common virtue” and “true virtue,” two ideas which I am not 100% clear on as yet. Anyway – so why do our affections shift from one idol to another?
It is because one idol may appeal to our pride more than another.
(C) Moralism… I am still doing my reading here.
Why do I not swear?
~ Due to my high moral character? No. Perhaps its is because of fear. Fear that my family may look down upon me.
So you meet a battered wife and tell her that she must leave her husband. However all you really do is tell her that she must leave. You do not tell her how and why. This is moralism. It is the religion of do’s and dont’s. It is telling a person to do X or not do Y and not equipping the person with the right (-eous) means for doing X or not doing Y.
So the battered woman either does not leave her husband or if she leaves, she does so only for a season. Eventually she is back to him and back to the battering.
~ What she needs is a new husband or better put – a new affection – in her life. And affection that fills the relational hole that opens up when she leaves her husband (= Chalmers). What she needs is to be able to act on the basis of true virtue rather than a common virtue such as pride (= Edwards). What she needs is not simply to be told to leave but also told how and why to leave. She needs to be supplied with the proper motives for leaving (Ad Moralism).
Note: My thoughts are still very tentative as I am still processing all this. Whew!!! I am not a counselor and there are very many other things to consider w.r.t. battered women as the Wiki link above demonstrates.
Links to Follow Through On:
~ The Expulsive Power of A New Affection by Doug Wilson on Blog & Mablog
~ Expelling Worldliness with a New Affection by Sinclair Ferguson