Does God Want Me to Submit to Mistreatment According to 1 Peter 3?

Morning Friends,

Today, Wednesday, March 5 is the day of the live webinar at RBC on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.  If you haven’t already signed up, it’s not too late.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4458076903969650690

Last week I received a response to an earlier blog post titled, “Lesson’s from Sarah’s Story”. The writer asked a question regarding that well-known passage in 1 Peter 3 where Peter is highlighting Sarah’s submission, even though it was to something that would lead her to sin.  I thought it would be helpful to review once again what Peter is saying in this passage.

Here is her question:  I appreciate this perspective on Sarah and Abraham. In my years as a married woman, I have always heard Sarah extolled for her submission as well as set forth as an example of how we should submit even if our husband was in the wrong. I love how you brought all of Scripture to bear in this topic.

My question is, what submission is Sarah being praised for in I Peter 3? A counselor has told me that I Peter 3 is referring to the times Sarah went along with Abraham in saying she was his sister. The counselor asked me what other instances this could have been referring to? I don’t know how to answer that. Why is Sarah given to us as an example of submission when she submitted to Abraham’s request that could have led her to commit adultery?

Answer: Peter wasn’t specific as to what exactly he was referring to with his example of Sarah’s submission, but Matthew Henry’s commentary says of this verse, “Sara, who obeyed her husband, and followed him when he went from Ur of the Chaldeans, not knowing wither he went, and called him lord, thereby showing him reverence …”

We know that God was displeased with Abraham’s decision to lie and put Sara at risk, when he instructed her to tell the authorities she was his sister, so I trust that the Holy Spirit would not have instructed Peter to praise her for submitting to Abraham’s sin. I think we can do more justice to the entirety of Scripture and Peter’s thoughts in this passage to broaden the question to Does the Bible teach that a spouse is to unconditionally submit without question and suffer harsh and abusive treatment within his or her marriage without protest or consequences?

The entire book of 1 Peter has to do with suffering, especially targeting believers who face mistreatment for their faith.  But let’s look at what Peter teaches us about how we suffer in a godly way as well and when we should patiently endure suffering.

First, let’s look at how Peter tells us to handle ourselves in the presence of abusive people.  Peter is clear that believers should be respectful of others regardless of how we are treated. In other words, when someone sins against you or treats you harshly, their behavior does not justify or excuse your sinful response.

Often in destructive marriages a spouse who is verbally battered or emotionally neglected or abused starts to lob some verbal bombs of her own.  Instead of responding to mistreatment in a way that honors God, she dishonors herself, her husband, and God by her building resentment as well as her explosive or sinful reactions to his abuse. 

Peter encourages us to choose a different path. He tells us not to pay back evil for evil by reminding us of Jesus, who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22,23).

Second, Peter explains when we should endure abusive treatment.  He writes, “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?  But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” 

The good Peter is talking about here is a moral good, a doing the right thing kind of good.  Although in this passage Peter specifically advises us to submit to authority, Peter himself was flogged after he refused to stop preaching about Christ even though he’d been ordered by those in authority to stop.  Peter refused to submit because in doing so, he would have to stop doing good (Acts 4:19; 5:17-42).

In the same way when a wife refuses to submit to her husband’s sinful behavior, or stands up for her children who are being mistreated, or refuses to sign a dishonest income tax report, or calls 911 when her husband is threatening to harm her or himself, she is doing good even if it doesn’t feel good to her spouse.

Her behavior honors God, protects her children as well as acts in the best interest of her spouse.  (It is never in someone’s best interests to enable sin to flourish.).

When a woman takes these brave steps she will suffer.  She may suffer financially as her husband sits in jail because she called the police when he hit her.  She may suffer the censure from her church when she separates from him because of his unrepentant use of pornography and verbal abuse.  She may suffer with loneliness, retaliation from her spouse, disapproval from her friends and family for the stance she’s taken. That’s exactly the kind of suffering Peter is talking about.  He’s speaking about suffering for doing good instead of being passive or fearful or doing the wrong thing or nothing at all.  Peter is saying that when we do what is right and we get mistreated for it, God sees it and commends us.

Biblically, sometimes it may be the right thing to stay silent and forbear under mistreatment, but other times it may be the wrong thing to do.

There is no single right answer in each and every situation. The Bible tells us that we are to forbear with one another and it also says to confront and speak the truth to one another.  Which one is the right approach in any given situation takes wisdom.  Even the apostle Paul protested his harsh treatment and appealed to the higher authorities in Rome when he was being flogged (Acts 22:25).

When we tell a wife that her only godly response to an abusive and/or destructive spouse is to submit and continue to provide all the benefits of a good marriage regardless of how her husband treats her, provides for her, or violates their marital vows we’re asking her to lie and pretend. This is not godly, wise, or good for her or her marriage. 

This counsel also reinforces the abusive person’s delusions that he can do as he please with no consequences. It would enable him to stay blind to his sin and colludes with his destructive ways, which is not good for him, for her, or for their family. That kind of passivity does not honor God. 

Peter concludes his teaching with these words.  “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19 ESV).   He also tells wives that we are Sara’s children if we do good and not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:6 ESV).

When we encourage a woman to suffer for Jesus, let’s make sure we’re encouraging her suffer for doing good rather than suffer for staying passive or pretending. 

49 Comments

  1. Cyndy on March 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Oh, Leslie, that was WELL DONE!!! Thank you and thank you, God!! I come from a church that says they teach through the Bible and all of the Bible– in context. My husband(who is in leadership) and the pastor of that church are now using single verses against me since I left him because of destructive behavior. And when I bring up the character of God and Jesus’ actions on earth that don’t fit their concepts and “principles”, my husband just says my perspective is off. He asks me for “specific verses” to substantiate my decisions and perspectives on our marriage and his abuse(which he flatly denies, of course!). I have often felt God stay my mind and mouth when I want to defend myself and I know it would do no good, anyway. But to have Him confirm once again, the truth and true context is such a relief!! This passage has always been one that triggered anxiety in me (not as much recently, but still a little). Thank you, Leslie, for using the wisdom God has given you and speaking the truth for all who need to hear!!! God bless you with increasing strength of body, soul, and spirit to continue this work as long as it is needed!

    • Brenda on March 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how the way the Bible is used changes when people want their own way or want to imprison another person.

      • Trish on February 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

        Amen, sister!! The hidden of abuse of women can be explained away in a millisecond by I dividual interpretation in a violent offender of wimen husband so fast it makes my head swim and breaks logical hearts.

  2. Jennifer on March 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Outstanding post! Thank you for covering this topic and clarifying on this difficult subject. So many Christians need to hear this truth! Thank you!

  3. Sandra on March 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this insight, Leslie! I must admit that I did try not to “repay evil for evil” regarding my husband’s verbal abuse, but after a while I’d become so hurt and angry that I’d finally explode and relate his past sins toward me. I’d then feel guilty and ask God’s forgiveness, but the pattern kept repeating until he finally moved out.

  4. Christine on March 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    And the truth will set you free! Good stuff!

  5. Caroline on March 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you so much Leslie!

    It reads “as Sarah obeyed her husband calling him lord.” So we call our husbands lord…okay I can do that! Surely we are not being told to emulate ALL Sarah’s behavior, like mocking God when he tells her she’s going to have a baby, or offering her servant for her husband to sleep with…

    Many other folks in the bible had a proper sense of respect for their “lord” and yet HAD to resist when being asked to participate in evil. They suffered the consequences of their submission to God and are held up as heroes. I am thinking here of Joseph fleeing the adulteress and Daniel refusing to stop his worship, and the three put into the hot furnace rather than bow down and worship false gods.

    They were each behaving properly in the line of “submission” and it including resisting evil and accepting whatever consequences that came without fear.

    What might it have looked like for he servant Joseph to “submit” to his superior (Potipher’s wife) if he had the same understanding of “submission” that many modern Christian counselors dish out?

    • Brenda on March 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      So True, Caroline,

      If we are to follow Sarah’s lead in one behavior, why not all of them? I wish I had thought of asking that question on several occasions. For whatever reason, because we are “married” (or was married, in my case) the rules are all suppose to change. We are to submit no matter how evil the master and like it. Do whatever he says and like it. But somehow or another we are still not suppose to sin. Hum!!! Not sure how all that is suppose to work out.

      • Leslie Vernick on March 6, 2014 at 7:57 am

        It’s also interesting that God told Abraham to submit to Sarah when she wanted Ishmael and Hagar to leave their community. Abraham didn’t want to do it but God told him to listen to Sarah.

    • Cyndy on March 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Caroline, thank you for broadening even more the “context” of this passage using the whole Bible! This was so well said! God you are really nailing it– Your Truth! Yahoo! I smell freedom for a lot of women! 🙂

  6. janice' on March 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Great answer. Thank you.

  7. Dianna on March 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Helpful question that many can relate to having. I grew up in a good, bible-teaching church but never grasped what those verses were saying. I just put my questions on the back burner and figured I would understand someday. I never thought that Abraham was right and did not think of Sara as a doormat. Different culture but definitely cowardly of Abraham.

    It has been confusing to understand the church’s general stand of turning a blind eye to real domestic conflict and abuse. It is like the issues are too muddy and silly to deal with. Yet it is fact and an awful one that causes much harm. It comes to me that it is cowardly for these issues to be ignored by those in leadership who can make a difference…who need to bother. Many times an abuser can fool the church leadership by their apparent devotion to church activities and good behavior in public. It would seem a red flag when the other spouse does not attend, looks too sad, is sick too often and or has asked for help and appears to give up. It is hard to understand why someone in leadership or lay christians do not reach out to the spouse and see what is keeping them from attending church or looking unhealthy. I think “happiness” is overly rated in our culture.

    At the risk of sounding too critical, it seems that putting God’s biblical lessons to life is not something our churches are good at doing. There seems to be a shallowness in confronting and walking along side adults in changing behavior. We seem to work so hard at raising children and helping teens keep on the right track and yet the youth see little accountability and responsibility in adults.

    A godly christian counseling couple, Ray and Nancy Kane (and surely others) suggest that we need a healthy way to deal w/ pain in the church. To recognize how God uses it to heal and change us to His molding. Not this avoiding and punishing the wounded. I agree.

    Just trying harder to make marriages work, staying in marriages for the children or because God hates divorce is a lie that Satan has confused from scripture. To deal w/ the root cause of the most intimate and basic relationship can not condone sin nor abuse.

    Now to have the courage to trust God to live this out in our lives each day in our families and church families.

  8. Hoping on March 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Leslie! Once again you hit the nail on the head! I went through the ‘suffering b/c I made the 911 call and my husband was arrested–4 years ago. Nearly 2 months ago, I finally left in order to protect the children from growing up in such a negative environment. In each circumstance, I felt God’s clear leading that this was the right thing to do. But, each time, I also received so much criticism and judgment from church people that it is really hard to stand my ground and not doubt my decisions. Thanks for reinforcing what I believed to be true!

  9. Amy on March 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    (Clapping loudly) Well done, Leslie! Thanks for speaking truth and helping victims out of the lies. Sharing this post.

    • Cyndy on March 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Me, too! This is definitely a keeper, I’ll be pulling out as needed!

  10. Kristy on March 6, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I have been out of my abusive relationship 2 years and 19 days. I am mean to others and am alienating my new friends and whats left of my family. I am more immediately aware of my picking a fight. It’s like I have become my ex-husband?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 6, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Kristy, you have not become him but you have allowed yourself to be strongly influenced by his behavior and what he has done to you. Is this the woman you want to be? If not then start now and get some help for yourself to build your CORE strength, commit to being healthy and non abusive yourself. Remember what it felt like to be abused. I hope that’s not what you want others to feel when they are around you.

      • Sandra on March 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm

        Thank you for this, Leslie!
        Even though I didn’t always remain
        “passive” toward my husband’s verbal abuse, insane jealousy and threats, I haven’t become verbally abusive toward any others like that, as his abuse has made me extremely aware of how words can hurt. I pray each day for God’s help in not saying anything to or about anyone unless it’s kind. God has even given me the ability to forgive and feel empathy toward my husband, although I see little hope of reconciling.

  11. Brenda on March 6, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Yes, Leslie!! These things rarely get brought out. It would be nice if these things were preached from the pulpit and brought to light in Bible study, but they seem to be overlooked. God allowed strong women to use their voice in His wisdom and men were to listen. I love this discussion. It has brought joy and more confidence in God to my heart. Ok, tearing up again. God is so good to me.

  12. Betty on March 6, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for your answer on this issue and I concur 100 percent. Can I ask this question….what about the vow we all say before God…’for better for worse’? Do we have to stay in the marriage when it is ‘for worse’? is that breaking our vows before God?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Great question and let me tackle that in more depth in a future blog.

      • Madgie on March 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

        I would love to hear your insight on that question as well! My husband uses that line on me and I have never known how to respond.

      • Elizabeth on March 12, 2014 at 8:38 am

        Oh looking forward to that blog post. This vow is one that I loyally held to for many years. It is what I promised before God and our families. I meant what I said and that kept me bound to a husband that, I have come to understand, did not mean what he said.

    • Valerie on April 4, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      I think it means for better or “for difficult”…not “for better or for destruction”.

      Would God expect (or desire) us to take a vow that states it does not matter what you do to me or others I will stand by you no matter what?

      In her book Leslie has well stated the discernment we need in distinguishing between difficult and destructive. While God has much to say about us being vigilant and honorable toward others in difficult times, he also has much to say on the proper response when we are treated destructively.

  13. Brenda on March 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Betty, I am sure that Leslie will have a much better answer for this question than I will. In my mind, for better or worse means as a couple, the challenges you will face together. Not one making the other challenged to want to put up with you any longer. As a couple, you will be faced with valleys and hilltops. No matter which of those you face you vow to do it together, not against one another.

    Vows are different in different parts of civilization. There were times when a ribbon was wrapped around the couples wrists and they were escorted to the marital bedroom. End of vows. I don’t think God saw it different than what we recite. Many people these days make up their own vows. For better or worse is no where in them. Marriage vows are not written out in the Bible.

    That is just my opinion. Take is with a grain of salt.

  14. Nichole on March 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    One thing I wanted to add about Sarah is that while she is praised for being a submissive wife, look at what happened in Gen 21.

    Isaac had just been weaned and Sarah found Ishmael mocking him. She went to her husband and made a bold proclamation:

    “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.” v.10

    Abraham is distressed because he loves Ishmael. He and goes to the Lord about it, and this is what God says:

    “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” v. 12

    WHATEVER SARAH TELLS YOU, LISTEN TO HER.

    Sarah saw a real problem that Abraham couldn’t see, and she spoke up, on behalf of her son’s protection and well being. Abraham was wise enough to pray and the Lord affirmed Sarah’s insight. He didn’t call her controlling, demanding, jealous or unsubmissive, rather, He instructed Abraham to do what she said.

    And this is the women praised for calling her husband “Master.” 🙂

  15. kathy on March 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Iamconfused.when would it be right to biblically forbear mistreatment and stay silent? We are to forbear w/one another, does this mean to not keep speaking the truth in love to them when the behaivors continue? Sometimes I feel like there is only so much to say.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 11, 2014 at 10:19 am

      It might right to biblically forbear mistreatment when you are being mistreated for your faith stance. To stand silent and not defend or fight back may be the appropriate stand to take – such as Stephen, who was martyred in Acts.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

      We submit to mistreatment when we are persecuted for our faith – such as Stephen did when he was martyred in Acts. We don’t defend ourselves or excuse ourselves. Although Paul did appeal to the higher authorities when he was being mistreated and so there isn’t always only one “right” or “biblical answer.

  16. Sandra on March 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Leslie, my husband said a Christian wife should never tell anyone anything negative about her husband. My older sister is a Christian counselor, and he read my e-mail to her, relating his verbal abuse toward me. Was it wrong for me to defend my faith as a Christian when I told him I didn’t believe I was disobeying God’s Word by doing that?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      No and you can also say to your husband, God tells us to tell the truth and to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness. However I do think women in abusive marriages need to discern the differences between telling someone to gain support and help and just defaming their husband’s reputation to anyone who will listen. It’s tempting once you start to recognize what’s going on to scream it to the whole world and that would not be loving. I can understand your husband is embarrassed that “people know” but that may be the very thing that causes him to check his temper or actions next time – that you are not going to cover for his abuse anymore. And I think you can say that. I am not going to lie anymore or pretend our marriage is good when it is abusive and damaging.

    • Mary on March 12, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      I agree. My now ex husband of two months was absolutely livid and enraged for 18 months when I finally told someone about the abuse after 22 years! He said that it was no ones business and maid him look like an animal! He said “there are secrets between a husband and wife” and outside of the marriage telling others of “personal” problems goes against the bible. It was and has been a nightmare since 01/12 even though now divorced by him….the professed 40 year Christian. We know he isn’t one. He turned it around and slandered me. God released me from this marriage as the scripture outlines that ” God won’t let you be tested more than you can handle and will also give you a way out” He did. He “tol” me in a very clear vision on late night why He took me in a clear message. I will NEVER forget His words. God Bless all.

  17. Brenda on March 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Sandra, I know you directed this questions to Leslie, but I just have to put in my 2 cents and say ABSOLUTELY NOT. I hear many Christians say that would be gossip or not respecting your husband. The truth is not gossip. Not only were you having a conversation with a Christian Counselor for advise, but she is your sister. Talk amongst sister’s should not be a problem. Him saying that you should never say anything negative about him is his believe doesn’t mean it is Biblical. I suppose my next question would be is why was he invading your privacy?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      Brenda, I think the truth could be used as gossip. For example, if a woman shared with someone she and an abortion, I don’t think she would want to have that truth broadcasted to the entire bible study or congregation or neighborhood. Or of a person shared they had a drinking problem or someone knew someone had a drinking problem – it might be the truth, but who needs to know and why? I do think people need to be careful when we disclose negative information about another person, even when it is true. This sister was absolutely right to go for help to a counselor (Christian or not) and TELL THE TRUTH. Otherwise how can you get help? You don’t go to the doctor and lie about how you feel and then expect him to be able to give you the right treatment. In addition, she should not pretend, placate or cover up for his abuse. But to say “because it’s the truth” it’s free information for anyone to know I don’t think would be a rule of thumb I would like my friends to follow.

  18. Sandra on March 12, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you Leslie! I agree that it can be tempting for a woman who has suffered abuse to share it with others, so that she won’t appear to be at fault for the troubled marriage. However, it can then be used as gossip against not only her husband, but her as well. My church family knows my husband has left, but it is listed as an “unspoken request.”
    Regarding Brenda’s mention of my husband’s violating my personal e-mail and journal, I can say that destroyed what trust I had toward him, and hurt almost as much as the verbal abuse.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 13, 2014 at 9:01 am

      I think a woman who has suffered abuse must share it with others – but specific others, wise people who will help her and hopefully her husband to gain safety and sanity. But you’re right abused women can also be retaliatory and repay evil for evil and that what Christ specifically warns us not to do. That’s why building up CORE strength is so important.

  19. Brenda on March 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Leslie, I do agree with you on this point. I was only referring to this particular situation. If someone told me in confidence that they had any form of problem, it would go no further. That would not only be gossip but betraying a confidence. We were discussing whether or not she had a right to tell her sister/confidant/counselor about the situation with her husband. I was told by people that telling anyone anything about my husband was dissing him and was not to be done. I should only say there is a problem and ask for prayer for him. I was not tackling any other subject than that and hope no one else took it that way. I still feel that this woman had every right to address the issue with her sister in confidence and safety.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 13, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Me too. How else would you gain support and wisdom? If you called the doctor because you were concerned for your spouse, you wouldn’t say he’s not feeling well, you would say he’s having chest pains or he’s vomiting blood or something specific so that you would have a better idea what to do or how to encourage him to get help. In the same way when a women seeks help and she’s too vague about what’s going on at home (to protect her spouse or herself from shame) she won’t be able to get the help she needs.

      • Brenda on March 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

        This is what happened to me and others. Trying to bring out what is really going on at home and seek support from your Sisters in Christ, a pastor or elder that should be willing to listen and what you get instead is a ducked head and a response of I don’t want to listen to gossip. This is real, it is happening to me. I cannot gossip about my own life. I was not making it up. These things were happening to me. Then there were those once the separation happened that asked what they could do. Where were they when I was trying to ask for help? I responded that God was supplying all of my needs. At that point it was ok to talk about and I no longer wanted to. I wanted to heal and move on.

      • Sandra on March 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        Thank you Brenda & Leslie. I guess I’ve felt some guilt in sharing, even to gain support from those of wisdom. Several years ago I shared briefly with my personal care physician, and she said he sounded paranoid, as did my sister. I did look that personality disorder up, and found he did fit that diagnosis, but stayed and kept praying he’d change. However, it only got worse as he aged — today is his 78th birthday, and I do pray for him.

  20. Kristy on March 14, 2014 at 12:27 am

    I commented earlier that I was being mean and thought I was becoming my ex-husband. I have prayed, worked on my core and spent time with Max Lucado’s Facing your Giants bible study and as a beaten and falsely imprisoned woman, because my ex is a doctor who almost had me committed, though I was the black-eyed and beaten in Atlanta, Ga 2012, and I am the Christian, not him, I know there are more women like me than those who are able to speak on this site. I am very angry, hurt, and yes, not always able to forgive. So, working on my core does not work Leslie!!

    • Leslie Vernick on March 14, 2014 at 11:56 am

      I’m not sure what you mean practicing your CORE does not work Kristy. If you are a Christian, each of the 4 CORE strengths have to do with how God wants us to live and respond to wrong in our lives. Does it work to change your husband into a godly loving man? That’s not what I’ve said. Does it work to help you not get twisted by his abuse and poison? It absolutely will if you do them. We all struggle with forgiveness when people mistreat us, lie about us, ruin our reputation, falsely accuse us. I understand it is a struggle, not an easy choice. But the person you hurt the most when you stay stuck in anger and bitterness is you. Please don’t do that to yourself.

    • Sandra on March 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Kristy, I also had difficulty forgiving my X for his severe verbal abuse, cheating, lies, insane jealousy, accusations and threats. We were together 57 years, and although the Bible teaches I must forgive and love him, I was unable to even like him. A few years ago I decided to set a boundary that unless he changed, I would no longer submit sexually. He only became more abusive and finally moved out of the house several months ago. I’ve so enjoyed the peace and freedom since then, and I’m now able to become more involved in my church and other activities that I avoided to prevent his rage. I also can spend more time in prayer and Bible study, this online support, and I now even have a Christian counselor. I’ve been able to forgive my husband and feel empathy and pray for him as well, realizing he is a sick and lonely old man. Your are in my prayers too, dear Sister.

  21. Paula on July 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    My husband is the pastor/teacher of a small Messianic assembly. He has been having an emotional affair with our music director for about 3 years. This is a long time and as hard as I tried to not acknowledge their closeness by turning the other cheek, they just kept showing more affection to each other at the assembly and on our tour to Israel last year. Finally, I realized through all his phone texts and calls, it had gone far enough. My pleas for him to stop fell on deaf ears. I talked to the deacons, they didn’t help much. I went to a Christian counsellor 4 times. That didn’t help either. So, I chose to not attend our services. I just couldn’t condone his behavior any longer. He decided to secretly tape the assembly’s opinion of everyone expressing their concern to show his girl friend at home. After I left the assembly and stopped supporting this emotional affair, he moved out and lives next door in our guest house. He has stopped all personal communication with me but does still pay my living expenses, so he does support me this way.
    He is a very strong leader in our small community as well as he still pastors the assembly. Although most everyone left since the truth about him as been exposed. He has not admitted to anything, and doesn’t intend to. I found your book, How to act right when your spouse acts wrong, very helpful in my response to this. His reputation as Pastor has been ruined since his pride won’t’ allow him to repent. How long am I supposed to continue staying separated? He says he is waiting, but doesn’t say what for. I have tried to be patient waiting but to no avail yet on any change on his part.

    • janet on February 17, 2015 at 10:33 am

      you will know how long… the spirit will guide you. you will know, don’t doubt yourself.

      • Sandra on February 17, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        I would ask him! He may still be having the affair.

  22. oscar on March 14, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Hi Leslie;
    I hope this finds you well. My name is Oscar and I would like to reply privately to your blog.
    I was the bad guy you all talk about for 17 years of marriage and for 40 years until I came to know Jesus and began following Him.
    I am almost certain that anything people would say was wrong with me would not be able to include everything. I was (am) worse than any one person could know.

    I am prideful to the core, and am 100 percent sure that the only good thing that dwells in me is the Person God.

    I am also equally certain that if any good, possibly comes from my life it is Jesus Christ.

    I am 49 now, but for 40 years I was in self and sin and insanity.
    The world would say, Narcissistic.
    On top of everything else, I was a serial adulterer.
    Pride, and coveting lust was at the root of my sexual sin.

    I was married to a beautiful wife. I had two children in Christian school, I made good money, but I was lost.

    I could tell you horror stories of my childhood and family background, and I had been to scores of counselors and behavior modification specialists.

    Though on the outside, all of our friends would have thought my wife and I had the perfect suburban American Christian life. Regular church attenders, Christian school, steady, stable, generous, fun, but I had no clue who Jesus was.

    One day my pastor asked me to be a deacon. I thought to myself, do you have any idea who I am?
    As I walked around my neighborhood that night, I looked at my giant house and new SUV’s and thought of my beautiful wife and sons, I began to weep in a way I had never really wept inside and I told God, prayed I guess, if this is all there is to You, I don’t want it. I was stuck in selfishness and sexual sin and could not stop.
    I actually meant what I said to God. I went to bed that night and had the worst nightmare I ever had. It was like I was in hell with all my sins replaying before me in colorless, empty, pleasureless, ever worsening despairing misery.
    When I finally awoke, next to my wife, I was covered in sweat and felt like I had been there for a hundred years.
    Instantly I knew two things; life as you know it is over; and if you don’t confess everything and stop, you will stay there forever, and if you do confess and stop, you will lose everything. I made a decision that I would not let life go back to normal until everything was confessed.

    For the next two years I was like two people. I battled so much inside, and finally, my wife said she was done. She separated and filed for divorce. But not before she told me about a BIBLICAL counselor her mom knew.

    While we were seperated, I was so deeply addicted to my sin that I actually prayed, God, there must be somewhere in the hills of Tennessee I can go and get help. I can no longer function.

    I was still making 6 figures. When I sat with the Biblical Counselor, after countless other “Christian” and other counselors, for the first time in my life I met the Holy Spirit in His office. In Him, really.

    The Authority present was most powerful and the combination of love and mercy and truth was irresistible. He told me I had to confess and that he was going to tell my wife she had a biblical reason to divorce me.
    For the first time in my life, I had HOPE!
    I called my wife and confessed my serial adultery.

    The first words out of her mouth were, “I knew it!”
    Then she proceeded to name the one person that I had been with that we both knew. I told her the truth. And she was done.
    She said adultery was the one thing she would never have in her life.

    My counselor led me to another Biblical Counselor and I will never forget what he said. I told him of my unspeakable childhood and all my issues and problems and sins without holding back.

    Finally, he said this…..Oscar, do you know why you sin? He said you sin because you like it and you want to. You sin because your heart is deceitful and desperately wicked! Your sin is 100% your fault. It ain’t your mammy and it ain’t your pappy and it ain’t all the tragic things that happened to you.

    But you can repent. You can get on your face before Jesus Christ and confess that this is 100% your fault and that your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. And you can ask Jesus to forgive you and change you.

    I have never heard better news in all my life. Since my sin was my fault, I could repent and my future was in the hands of Jesus Christ and change was possible. My behavior did not depend on my wife or my doctor or my counselor or the pastor or scientists!

    I went and got on my face and wept and confessed all to Jesus and asked for help and forgiveness.

    I had gone through my whole life thinking as long as somehow I could make my sin someone else’s fault, that would help me be ok. As long as my sin was simply a response to someone else’s bad behavior, then I was ok. The problem was, that made my growth and change and behavior dependent on them, instead of JESUS.

    What he told me was the most hopeful and joyful thing I had ever heard! My problem was all me!!!!!!!!!My sin. My self!

    I understood that since the problem was MY problem, NOT my wife’s or mom’s or dad’s, and since I owned it, that meant it was all mine! I was 100% free to take MY giant problem to Jesus and as its rightful owner, I could legally ask Him to take it all and He could legally do that since He really did actually come and live a perfect life and give His life for mine!

    I could legally ask Him to take my place here on earth, inside of me, and I, myself, my sin, could legally be crucified with Him.
    There has never been a better deal! It’s not even a deal, really, it’s a gift. EVERYTHING ABOVE HELL IS MERCY!

    But the thing is, I had to take it for free. I say yes!

    Well, my wife continued with the divorce.
    Now I asked the Lord, HOW do I change 40 years of deeply deeply habituated behavior.

    I looked to His Word and it was clear, one desire, one thought, one word and one action at a time. There was no shortcut, except this.

    I saw from His Word that the meaning and purpose of everything. ………everything and everything and everything means….thank You Jesus for You Are Good and Your Mercy is forever; I love You Jesus.

    That’s what everything means.

    Then I saw that repentance is perhaps the greatest power in the universe, to turn to God and open your heart.

    Name two things you want from God that don’t come through repentance.

    Then I read that we are expected to be MORE than conqueror!

    How do you be MORE than conqueror?
    What’s more than winning the battle against my sin?

    He said every time you are having a wrong thought, that is a personal invitation from Jesus Christ to intercede for that person until you are in the grip of faith for them.

    You can’t think your bad thoughts when you pray my good words and will. It’s like trying to park a car where there is already a car parked.

    Then, God says He saves our prayers and uses them whenever He wants! So…….every time I remembered a time I was in sin with a lady, I would pray for her. Also, 3 times in scripture, Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, He showed me that His will, His 3 times expressed will for man is MERCY. Mercy is God’s supply system for every need everywhere. Mercy is that kindness, compassion and tenderness which is a passion to suffer with or participate in another’s ills or evils in order to releive, heal and restore. Mercy accepts another freely and gladly as he is and supplies the needed good of life to build up and bring to peace and keep in peace.

    Mercy is to take another into ones heart just as he is, and cherish and nourish him there.

    Mercy takes a others sins and evils and faults as its own and frees the other by bearing them to God. This IS the glow of love. This is the annointing.

    What I’m saying is that He said if I pray according to His will, HE WILL ALWAYS ANSWER. Then He told us what His will is!
    So….. every time I see a lady dressed in a micro mini skirt and I am tempted, in my heart I begin to pray for Jesus to flood the one in my mind with fulfilling mercies meeting all her needs as You see them.
    VIOLA! More than conquerors! Not only did I not lust, but SHE got prayed for and one day when she needs it most, God’s bowl of prayers for her can be poured out all into her!

    Every time Jesus allows that “bad” person in “my” mind as His guest, it’s not an accident! Nor a surprise! Will His guest leave as my friend? Will my thoughts be intercessory or accusational?
    Leslie, I totally agree with what you are saying in your blog. It is solid.

    Here’s a little more. The world would call my ex wife a codependent.
    After talking with women who are Biblical Counselors for decades and counsel many women who marry guys like me, I offer you this.

    Mr. Narcissist is almost always in pride at the root. Pride and coveting lust.

    Almost universally, Mrs. Narcissist, (women who marry narcissists) almost universally, are in their sins to the degree that their husbands are in their sins. And, gender roles can be reversed, this is not gender specific all the time.

    What are their sins? What is this codependency, biblically, and who is Mrs. Narcissist?

    Delusional Self Righteousness: Controlling Rebellion.

    In a word……..Pharisee. I sacrifice so much for your sins.

    Mr. Narcissist stared at his twisted self image and drowned in his self exalting selfishness.

    Mrs. Narcissist stared at Mr. Narcissist and drowned in her self exalting selfishness. (I thank God I’m not like THAT sinner)

    At the core, hard to swallow as this may be, we all have the same problem: namely, sinful selfishness in whatever ugly form it takes.

    We all need Jesus.

    Every time the thought of a bad ex husband comes to mond, it’s not an attack from the enemy, it’s a call from the Lord to intercede as the good Samaritan. Yes, it may mean calling 911, seperating, divorcing, and other difficult things. But no matter what action you take with your difficult or destructive spouce, if it is not done in a spirit of intercession in the clear light that whatever he is doing, you and I did worse to Jesus, you will surely bind a degree of whatever you accuse him of to yourself. Even if it is true. Especially if it is true.

    By all means, seprate, call 911, and do the right thing.

    But know this, until you own YOUR sin 100%, until you can come to the place where you see the exact HONEST reason why you picked him and stayed with him and why you are leaving now, you will only end up worse later.

    Until you see that your sin is your fault, not a response to his sin, you are a drunk between drinks.

    Everything Leslie said here is right on the money.

    BUT……if you don’t do it in a spirit of intercession , you are on a long trail of misery.

    Control and praise from people and fear of people are core to a Pharisee, codependent.
    The prodigal sons older brother was a classic co-d.

    After I divorced, my son was about 10 and one night I was tucking him into bed, and he was half asleep, and he just said dad, I don’t get it, it’s like all these years, you were a junky old car, and mom prayed for a new car, and now she has one, but she doesn’t want it because she can’t be the driver. I kissed him and he drifted off to sleep.

    She is a Christian and she even prayed for me before we divorced.
    About 3 -4 years after she divorced me, she called me to say she found someone else, she was getting married and she was going to do it right.

    She asked me what I thought. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to know. She said yes.
    I said, “you are trying so hard to do the wrong thing the right way and it will never work.”
    Six months later, my young son called me totally excited, “Dad, Dad, mom’s getting a divorce, Brians been cheating on her since the day they met. She actually caught him.
    I comforted her and gave her a hug and she said when she was getting married a still small voice in her told her it was wrong.

    She said it was all my fault and any future relationship problems she would have would be my fault. I asked her to please see the Biblical counselor she referred me to in the beginning, but she refuses.
    She is still angry at me.

    A Pharisee can be plastic and calculated and ice, but when exposed, the fury of hell can be released. Perhaps the most traumatic moment in the life of a codependent / Pharisee is the day that the sinner gets saved. Maddening rage or the apostle Paul.

    I have had the privilege of intercepting for my x for 8 years. I have had a pastor say it would be an abomination to Jesus for us to reconcile based on Deut. 24, notwithstanding Jeremiah 3, Hosea, the new testament and the cross.

    My ex wife said her heart was so pure that was why she couldn’t discern who she was marrying or married to. The Word of God says be not decieived……
    The pure in heart SHALL SEE God. God is truth and reality.

    Codependency is delusional self righteousness controlling rebellion. Pharisee. I sacrifice so much for your sins. Praise of people and fear of people are idols.

    I have written today in hopes that maybe someone might be helped. Whatever a battered wife may do, if not done in a spirit of intercession, balance will be evasive peace rare, and a cold love with a hard plastic coating will form, even though to all outward appearances, you will erect a beautiful facade, just like in marriage.

    Often in the beginning of a marriage like this, the co-d will actually encourage and participate in the bad behavior with the husband, because she gets something out of it…….control.

    But when the behavior takes control away from her, unless there is a radical change in her she will be sure to have an encore performance like a drunk between drinks.
    The change Jesus wants in her is the change Jesus wants in him……true repentance and 100% ownership for MY sins and a heart of intercession that will bond the heart of God to our heart in an intimacy never thought possible.

    My writing here is unedited and my grammar is not all correct, but I hope something here is helpful.

    I’m writing from West Africa this morning.

    God bless you Leslie,
    and the good word you have for your readers.
    I realize I went from talking to you to talking to your readers at times. Sorry.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Oscar

    • Leslie Vernick on March 14, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Oscar, I’m so glad you’ve seen your issues and I trust that women will also be shown by the Holy Spirit what their sins and problems are that she needs to work on as well. We all need healing and surrender to God and I think many of the women in this blog have done just that – self-examination, and surrender to God.

  23. Smitha4 on October 7, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information specially the last part dfccbedeeefacdkk

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