The Problem with Uppity Women

My friend, David Hayward over the The Naked Pastor recently drew this cartoon. It graphically illustrates the double bind women consistently find themselves in.

"Twins" by David Haywood. Used by permission.
“Twins” by David Haywood. Used by permission.

We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. But we are more damned if we do.

David drew this cartoon in response to the exceedingly complex situation that Naghmeh Abedini finds herself in.

If you are not familiar with the story (and I was not until a couple of months ago), you can read a little more about it here.

A short summary: Saeed, Naghmeh’s husband, is an Iranian pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran for several years. After tireless work on Naghmeh’s part, partnering with big political names (Ted Cruz, for example) and big conservative Christians names and groups (like Franklin Graham), Saeed was recently released.

After his release, Naghmeh then released her own bombshell: Saeed has been systematically abusing her, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, for most of their married life. She has insisted upon living apart, making proper legal arrangements for their children, and will not even consider the possibility of reconciliation without extensive counseling.

To say that she has been slammed by the conservative Christian community would be a slight understatement. Recently, Christianity Today published an interview with Saeed Abedini, her husband. Abedini calls his wife’s accusations “false” and insists he has never abused anyone, despite his 2007 arrest for domestic violence.

Naghmeh has filed a restraining order against him.

© Haywiremedia | Dreamstime.com, Royalty-free stock phot
© Haywiremedia | Dreamstime.com, Royalty-free stock photo

Because most domestic abuse is done in utter privacy, it always comes to a “he said/she said” situation unless the one being abused can show bruises, black eyes, evidence of marital rape, etc. What both fascinated and horrified me about the Christianity Today interview is the title, “The CT Interview: Saeed Abedini Answers Abuse Allegations.”

Saeed simply denies all allegations, attributes them to Satan (does that mean that Satan is controlling his wife?) and the interviewer apparently assumes that Abedini is telling the truth. He’s a Christian hero, after all.

And there is the problem: when a woman speaks out about abuse, particularly in the evangelical world with the expectation are that she will be in essentially silent submission to anything her husband wants, she is named a liar.

And because Abedini is a current Evangelical superstar, no one is going to want to come out against him. He’s going to be a great money-maker for them. After reading the interview, I thought, “Gosh, too bad he’s not Roman Catholic. He’d get immediate sainthood for the way he describes himself and his ministry.”

Who will really suffer here? Naghmeh and the children. But they are just a woman and a couple of children, the least among us. Perhaps they don’t matter very much.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Great post. Thanks Christy!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Stories like this are why I think Lot was a drunken child molester. You think anyone would believe his daughters when they claimed he raped them? Heck, would they even ask? Nope, Lot, like Saed, is considered righteous by definition righteous.

    Even if she did show up with bruises, he would just accuse her of faking it to frame him, and people would believe him.

  • Robin Shope Jansen

    It saddens me we have not evolved more than this. Its disgusting how the religious right always sides with the man. And it saddens me even more that other Christians have slammed me for my SANE and PRACTICAL views (my opinion of course), saying I cannot be a christian unless I hold their viewpoint.

    • I know. The whole set up seems to have lost grace and generosity toward others, especially women.

  • PastorM

    YUCK!

  • OutsideLookingIn

    Saeed also says he was surprised to find out about his guilty plea to domestic violence several years ago. How does that make any sense?

    • John Gills

      Denial is NOT just a river in Egypt!

  • LorenHaas

    One detail to correct. BEFORE he had been released from prison, she privately revealed that he had been abusive in their marriage. This subjected her to all kinds of accusations before he was released, but much of her story was corroborated afterwards when they no longer had to protect secrets.
    Also, he was CONVICTED on domestic violence charges, not just arrested.
    Christianity today again shows who they serve, the Christian industrial community, not Jesus.

  • Saeed is quoted as saying, “…people are confused. People now have two different Saeeds. One of them is a hero of their faith; one of them is an abuser… I don’t believe this confusion is coming from God.”

    I find this response very revealing. The not so subtle subtext reads, “I AM a hero of the faith, and my evil wife is confusing people.”

    • I suspect you have read it exactly right. He self-description of his ministry is darn close to hagiography.

  • jekylldoc

    I have heard a number of stories with similar structure and similar outcome. I am just beginning to recognize how much the traditional view of Biblical authority is defended precisely to maintain traditional power relationships in the home. Very much like Islamism, I fear.