Are Negative Consequences Unbiblical?

Morning friends,

I am having a great week here in Arizona with my three loves. We are baking, taking walks, playing games, telling stories, talking and loving each other. They are so darn cute. When I was cooking a turkey breast for Christmas dinner, I opened the oven and my middle granddaughter, Leilani, said “What are you cooking Nana?” I said, “turkey.” She said, “I didn’t know that turkeys came from chickens.” I cracked up laughing. I love how kids put things together in their own way. She loves to eat turkey breast for lunchmeat, but since she’s only seen her mother cook chickens, it was a natural connection.

On another note, my 86-year-old father had some back/neck surgery a few days before Christmas and his recovery has been much harder than we all anticipated. I will be flying into Chicago for a week to help out with things there. Please pray for him if you think of him to regain his strength and gain relief from pain.

Question: When you talk about the idea of implementing consequences with someone who is destructive, I feel confused. Doesn’t God’s word encourage us to forgive and be merciful and gracious? Implementing consequences, especially with another adult feels to me like you are still punishing someone even though you forgave him or her. Please clarify this confusing issue for me.

Answer: I think your confusion is common and I’ve struggled with understanding this concept myself. There is a distinction between punishment and consequences although they may overlap a bit and to the one on the receiving end, they may feel like they are the same thing.

First, let me confirm that God is a God of mercy and I believe that mercy expresses itself in compassion. Because of God’s great compassion, love, and mercy, he does not give us what we deserve. Because of our sin and disobedience, we deserve his wrath. But instead, he offers us forgiveness, through the blood of Christ. When Jesus died, God poured out his wrath on Christ and therefore there is no condemnation or punishment for our sin when we are “in Christ” (Romans 8:1).

However the natural consequence of our refusal to accept God’s free gift is that we don't get to enjoy the gift of forgiveness or a personal relationship with God. Christmas was just a few days ago. Imagine you offered to give someone you knew an extravagant gift he or she didn’t deserve. Perhaps you offered to pay off their mortgage, buy them a much needed new car, or pay off all their school loans. But due to pride, or shame, they refused your gift. The consequences (not punishment) would be that they would not have the new car, or the house or school loans paid off. This is not a punishment, merely a consequence of his or her own choice.

Consequences are a result of our own choices and behaviors. The Bible puts it this way, “What ever a man sows, he reaps” (Galatians 6:7). This biblical farming metaphor enabled people to understand a simple truth. If you plant turnips, you reap turnips. Turnips were a natural result (consequence) of what you planted. Another way of putting it is this: if you plant turnips, don’t expect to see tulips.

Consequences don’t have to be negative. For example, if I pay my bills on time, the consequence is that I build a good credit rating. If I watch what I eat and exercise, the consequences will be a relatively stable weight and a healthy body. On the other hand, if I don’t pay my bills on time, the consequences will be a negative credit rating, repossession of things I own, bankruptcy, or other financial problems. If I regularly overeat and never exercise, the consequences will be weight gain and loss of muscle mass. These are not punishments; they are the results of my own choices.

Second, God has given human beings an incredible gift and that is our choices. We get to choose how we will steward our one precious life, whether we will take good care of our body, our money, our relationships, our time, and the gifts and talents he gives us. When we make good choices, the consequences are generally (not always) positive. When we make poor choices, the consequences are generally (not always) negative. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about these concepts and how to gain wisdom so that the choices we make lead to better consequences.

However, we do see in Scripture and in life that there are times when God is so gracious and merciful that he doesn’t make us suffer the natural consequence of a foolish or sinful choice. The story of Jean Valjean, in Les Miserables, powerfully illustrates this idea.

In the play, Jean Valjean is apprehended by the police because he has in his possession valuable silver candlesticks that don’t look like they belong to him. He tells them that they were a gift from the Bishop, but the police does not believe him, as he has a record as a thief. The police drag Jean Valjean back to the Bishop to prove he lied.

The Bishop says, Monsieur, release him. This man has spoken true. I commend you for your duty, now God's blessing go with you. 

Bishop says to Valjean: But remember this, my brother, see in this some higher plan. You must use this precious silver to become an honest man. By the witness of the martyrs, by the Passion and the Blood, God has raised you out of darkness; I have bought your soul for God! 

In this situation, the Bishop did not make Jean Valjean suffer the natural consequences of his thievery. He pardoned him and forgave him but he left him with a charge. He said this extravagant gift must be used to shape him into an honest, a better man. And if you’ve seen the film or the play, that’s exactly what happened.

But what happens when extravagant grace does not yield positive changes? What happens when the thief goes on to steal more and more and more? That’s when consequences become the most merciful path to wake someone up to their destructive ways.

The apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4). When we are extravagantly merciful to someone who does not deserve our kindness, it is meant to wake that person up to change his or her ways. And when that happens it is a beautiful thing all around. However, when that does not happen, it often empowers and emboldens the sinner to sin in even greater ways. Paul goes on to talk about that in the rest of Romans 2.

So the answer is yes there are times for extravagant mercy, where we step in and do not put into place the natural consequences due the sinner and instead sacrificially forgive and bear the weight of the consequences (as the Bishop did when he lost the valuable candlesticks).

And, there is a point when the person has not changed or repented from repeated sinful behaviors and therefore it’s time to allow the natural consequences of his or her choices to bear down on his life so hopefully the person will repent and change his or her destructive ways.

We see examples from both the Old and New Testaments of this concept. For example:

1 Corinthians 5:9 -“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindles, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to each with such a one…..Purge the evil person from among you.” (Consequences – loss of relationship/fellowship).

Ephesians 5:11 – “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Consequences – will not hide or pretend or cover up sin).

Romans 16:13 – Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Paul isn’t saying here – let’s just forgive and forget every problem but there are consequences for repeatedly sinful behavior).

1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” (Consequences: You will be corrupted by the company you keep).

2 Thessalonians 2:3 – “Don’t let anyone deceive you.”(Consequences – stay wary of people who repeatedly lie).

2 Peter 3:16 – “…There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” (Consequences – when people are good at twisting words, especially Scriptures, be careful around them because you will lose your own stability – crazy-making).

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (Consequences – loss of relationship with certain kinds of people who repeatedly sin in these ways).

2 Thessalonians 3:6 – “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”  (Consequences – loss of relationship).

Titus 3:10 – “As for the person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Consequences – loss of relationship).

Paul in warning young Timothy said, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.” 2 Timothy 4:14,15 (Consequences – loss of trust).

Here are some OT verses that support the same and since the all Scripture is the whole counsel or God I think it is important that we listen to what they say also.

In Numbers 14 – read the chapter up to this point but Moses pleaded with God, “In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just has you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.

The Lord Replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times – not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” (Consequences – you do not get to see the Promised Land).

Proverbs 19:19 – “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. (Consequences: If you keep enabling someone to sin against you, they will keep hurting you so stop doing it).

Consequences are the best teacher for a person who has not listened to words. (Click to Tweet)

Proverbs 29:1 – “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” (Consequences: When you refuse to listen to words, your life starts careening out of control).

Jeremiah 4:18 – “Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is. How it pierces to the heart.”

Jeremiah 9:4 – “Let everyone beware of his neighbor and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord.” (Consequences: Loss of trust, broken relationships, loss of fellowship).

Jeremiah 12:6 – “For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them; though they speak friendly words to you.” (Consequences: Loss of trust, inability to know whether or not they speak truth).

Therefore, we see from Scripture that the consequences of being in the presence of a repeatedly destructive person may be that you don’t trust him, you don’t want to be around him, you don’t want to be intimate with him, you can’t fellowship with him, you don’t believe what he says, and sadly that you may become like him.

Understanding God’s law of consequences is not being uncharitable or unchristian. Rather it is being realistic, honest, and merciful, in the hopes that painful consequences will eventually bring the destructive person to his or her senses. Sadly, many destructive people continue believing they are victims of other people’s unkindness rather than recognizing that they suffer negative outcomes because they have repeatedly made bad choices.

Friend, how do you determine when to put consequences into place in your relationships with others who have been destructive towards you?


  1. Lmsdaily115 on December 28, 2016 at 7:48 am

    This was a very timely article for me. I struggle with enacting consequences very much, and therefore have become a small, squeaky voice in my family. Even my kids try to run over me when I speak up. I have taught my husband that he can be unloving, distant, hurtful with his words, uncaring, uninvolved and proud….and I just keep taking it…I don’t go anywhere…I don’t enact the consequences. I beleive I have a husband who is very skilled at twisting things to point the fault back at me. Example: we are not close or connected in our marriage because I just do what I want to do anyway….not what he wants to do. Therefore, I am not being a team player, not making decisions together, etc. However, he works 18 hours a day 6 days a week and whenever I try to talk with him, it becomes a hurtful argument. I have begun to shut down and give up hope that I can be heard by him. Yet, I have taken the steps to move forward and live the life God has given me to live. Yes, I do make decisions for myself since my husband is not interested in being in my life…as proven by his actions, not his words. Yes, I may not do what he wants all the time, how can I ever possibly guess or mind read that since I only find out what he wants AFTER the offense? I am trying to step out from under the constant blame, but I find myself faced with either seclusion, or blame. I know I need to enact proper consequences. I have a hard time deflecting the outcome as more blame from my husband. What are some ways to explain that this consequence is happening because of your action/attitude…..without turning around and blaming others myself?

    I ferl that I need to seperate from my husband, but he will just say that it is my fault I can’t get along with him, that I am not accepting him for who he is, that the divide between us is my fault, that I am being selfish by doing this and hurting the kids, that I am not a true christian because I should be able to forgive and move on…stop living in the past. I asked him one day if he ever felt remorse for his part of our relationship dying. He said “yes…I feel regret that I didn’t throw you out of the house earlier by the nape of your neck”. For 20 years we have been martied. I never cheated, abused or indulged in addictions. I have tried to be the best wife, mom and person I could be. I found God 2 years ago after my husband asked for a divorce out of the blue. I WAS mostly happy in my marriage, niw I am miserable knowing he has been living a lie for all those years. He was a goid man, loving, caring, compassionate. I don’t know who he is anymore. Cokd, irritable, angry, unfeeling, uncaring, distant and unaporoachable. I don’t want my marriage to end, but God has asked me to lay it at His feet. I have. So how do I obey God and start learning to respect myself in this type of situation? I have asked my husband to leave a few times, and he refuses.

    • JoAnn on December 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      It sounds like he dismissed you from the marriage a long time ago. If he doesn’t want the marriage to continue, then he’s not going to do anything to save it. I don’t think all the burden of saving the marriage should be on you, and I can’t help but wonder what has caused the change in him? Is he having an affair? I’ll be interested to see how Leslie answers your comment.

    • Free on December 28, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Lovely woman, you are living with an abuser. You are actively being abused. What would you like to do about that?

    • Robin on December 29, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Have you considered seeing a BIBICAL counselor that could help you — with just you and boundaries? It might be a good place to start. (But don’t look for counsel in church, they usually don’t have proper training for destructive marriages)

  2. Joan on December 28, 2016 at 7:56 am

    This is wonderful, thank you for spending so much time and effort writing this. I am saving this as a reference guide and sharing it with friends and family. I will be using it in my master’s program in my Christian ethics class this semester and as a Stephen minister in divorce recovery. God bless you, you have helped me get clarity with your books and writings here. Thank you Leslie.

  3. Carolyn on December 28, 2016 at 8:39 am

    This article was very helpful for me! My adult daughter has been in a state of running (from God, me, responsibility) fsince she was 16. She has disliked any authority figure, found fault in everyone she meets and needs to always be “in control” in relationships. Our relationship has been almost non existent through her pushing me away and then ( in a sence crying that I left) pulling me back. It’s been very confusing but I decided to give it to God, pray more and wait. After nine months of waiting( shed demanded us to leave her alone) and many accusations of neglect, I called. She is absolutely selfish and blatantly/obnoxiously rude. I spoke softly, used measured words and tried to actively listen. I have younger children that would be impacted negatively by hearing this. Right now, my daughters ‘ condition’ for me being ‘allowed’ back into her life is that I first develop a relationship with her husband. Her son is one and we’ve never been permitted to see even see a picture. There’s so much more to the story but my question is about love. Does love pursue in this situation? My tendency is to always try to understand and excuse ugly behavior usually finding fault in myself or atleast trying to see things through her side. My husband is finished with her manipulative tricks, accusations and disrespect. Where is the line of pursuing her in love and respecting ourselves enough to let her be? Do we call her anymore or succumb to her constant demands? The consequences are negative in regards that we’ll never have those years back in our relationship. But I do believe that God can restore the ‘ years that the locust have eaten’. Please help!

    • JoAnn on December 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Wow, that is painful. I can’t help but wonder what turned her off like that? You asked if love pursues in this situation. Sometimes love has to be patient and kind, waiting and praying. I don’t recall any verses that call us to pursue in the way you mean, rather we pursue love, faith, hope, etc. The love of God will give you the patience to wait and pray, and let His love pursue her, by whatever means He chooses. I am so sorry; I know this hurts.

    • Aleea on December 28, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      . . . .some thoughts: . . . .Generally, confronting an irresponsible person is not painful to her, only consequences are. We often fear being totally honest because it is not safe to express honesty in many relationships. Honesty leads to both abandonment and retaliation (consequences). As you know, rest assured, God desires truth in our “inner parts”. . . .And as you know, children respond to power and authority but adults respond to relationships. Rules without relationships just generally lead to rebellion. . . .Vulnerability seems the birthplace of love, ―deep vulnerability leads to relationships. . . .Maybe, honestly, ask yourself which person in your life means the most to you, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, “solutions,” or “cures,” have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. . . .Maybe both you and your husband can pray for your daughter together (―maybe you already are), every single day, together. . . .Maybe pray God sends her a very wise friend. If she had even one wise friend (―hopefully that can be you one day soon!) who could be silent with her in her moments of despair or confusion (―and I think if she is treating you and your husband that way she has them), a friend who can stay in there with her at times and who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, not fixing her. . . .Think about water, it is soft and gentle but enough of it simply gives it the power to go anywhere it wants to go. Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear to talk it out. I know you have tried that before. Also, just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for her can be a big comfort. . . .And you own your boundaries, wherever you decide to set them. If you set limits with her and she responds maturely and lovingly, you can renegotiate the boundaries. In addition, you can totally change the boundary if you are in a safer place with her. . . . And then maybe you do develop a relationship with her husband, that could be a very good thing. . . . .Change is frightening. It may comfort you to know, that if you are really afraid, you are possibly on the right road—the road to change and growth. If we are not totally frightened at some point in every day, we are not stretching ourselves far enough to really grow.

    • Colleen G on December 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Hmm I’m seeing things totally different and I am up for being wrong. But a few key things jumped out at me. First your daughter is an adult who, whether you like it or not, can choose to reject any or all authority that she likes. I sincerely hope that her being a Christian or living the kind of life that you desire has not become a relational stumbling block. You will not win her to Christ with that kind of pressure you will just drive her away. If she has rejected Jesus then do not expect her to live like she loves Him. You do not have to like her choices, just do not be surprised that she is not living like a believer.
      Secondly she mentioned you having to develop a relationship with her husband implying that you have not. Why would that even have to be brought up? Why have you not already sought out trying to have a relationship with him as well? You cannot reject your child’s spouse and still expect your child to want anything to do with you.

      Yes I am probably reading too much into the comment and I apologize for that but some similarities pop out that remind of my narcissistic father and the things he says.

      In the even that I have misread I suggest reading the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend will be very helpful for you to be able to see when and where you should pursue continued contact and where you should just step back regardless of tears.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:32 pm

        Thanks for your humble questions. I love that sometimes we can gently challenge one another to “look” at things from a slightly different angle. We may not always be seeing things correctly. But your gentleness and humility gave her freedom to look and to also disagree.

      • JoAnn on January 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        I have had the book by Cloud and Townsend on my shelf for a long time but haven’t read it. Thanks to your comment, I opened to the page “Applying the Laws of Boundaries to Marriage,” and picked out these great sentences: [The above examples are] of someone limiting how they will allow themselves to be treated and exhibiting self-control. The natural consequences are falling on the shoulders of the responsible party…. People who set limits exhibit self-control and show responsibility for themselves. They act responsible to their partner by confronting him or her. Setting limits is an act of love in the marriage; by binding and limiting the evil, they protect the good.” Very well said, and agrees with Leslie that to set limits is an act of love, both for the other and for the self.

  4. Nancy on December 28, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Hi Leslie,

    I am astounded at the sheer number of verses you have quoted that give very specific examples of consequences. They are most certainly necessary and Biblical!

    The verse that sums them all up, for me, is Prov 4:23 Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your life. ( I am to guard my heart AGAINST evil, FOR my Lord). A big part of that has meant learning to trust my own instincts: reconnecting with my feelings and my own body. It has meant “trusting my gut”. If something feels off, then it probably is off.

    Another huge task has been to find my voice. Speak the truth. Not in anger or defensiveness, but from a solid place- my core. I had learned years ago that truth telling was dangerous. It was received with such defensiveness that I was attacked for it. So I chose the easy way- to distort the truth (accept blame, lie to myself, or many other forms of living in denial) in order to avoid conflict.

    Telling the truth is a risk for sure but one absolutely worth taking. Jesus said, ” the truth will set you free”. I have experienced this!

    When children lie, we take that extremely seriously, because truth is the foundation of relationships. But somehow I had let my husband, and myself off the hook. Why? Because it was easier. Granted I paid for it. I’m not minimizing the consequences that I paid for speaking truth. They were extremely painful. It IS more comfortable to live in denial. But Jesus did not come for our comfort, He came for our ETERNAL GOOD.

    I thank God for this Blog. It shines light into my soul about where I have continued to let deception reign. Thank you.

    • Libby on January 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Thank You! My heart is singing after reading your reply
      I have been so blessed by it.!!

      • Nancy on January 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

        A www Libby, your welcome 🙂

  5. Leslie on December 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

    After 8 years I finally began to move out of the way of God’s Law of Consequences. 8 years of lies, infidelity, unreliabilty, etc. It took me so long because I was hoping he’d change on his own. It also took so long because I didn’t even realize I was in a destructive marriage. I knew I was in emotional, mental, and then finally physical turmoil, but only after reading Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, were my eyes opened to the destruction I was enduring. God Bless you Leslie, for God has used you as a tool to save my life.

  6. Aleea on December 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

    “Friend, how do you determine when to put consequences into place in your relationships with others who have been destructive towards you?” . . . . . .I have no consistent idea other than when the Holy Spirit tells us to put consequences in place. I have never had the Holy Spirit tell me that unless the issues were major/huge and really obvious, nor do I see how one would really even know how to determine that unless the issues are pretty major. With major issues it is clear but most issues are highly nuanced. . . .Anyways, the really wonderful thing about putting consequences into place when the Holy Spirit tells you is that it shows so much care and love for the other person. ―I just find that beautiful. . . . . But how we know it is not just our own selfishness? ―and we should never underestimate the depth of our subjectivity, I do not really know. . . .But, if it is from a clean heart and verified by the Holy Spirit, it is so beautiful that someone would think enough and care enough to do that. That is what spouses should always be doing for each other. . . . Obviously, the main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of our own selfishness. The selfish orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within one’s preferred world, while giving some of the phenomena in the outside world no reality in themselves ―like they do not exist, but experiencing them only from the viewpoint of their being useful (―oh, I like that and that makes me feel good and validates what I think). The opposite pole to selfishness is objectivity. It is the faculty to see other people and things objectively and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears and especially preferences ―again, we should never underestimate the depth of our subjectivity, especially mine. . . .But, again, that someone would think and pray and then care enough to put consequences into place is just beautiful. I think consequences come from mature love, but I don’t totally know that. . . . Infantile love seems to follow the principle: “I love because I am loved.” Mature love follows the principle: “I am loved because I love.” Immature love: “I love you because I need you.” Mature love: “I need you and care enough about you to confront you because I love you.” Anyways, if you are sure the Holy Spirit has told you to do some consequencing, I would think you should do it.

  7. Jilly on December 28, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you, Leslie, for this post. I have needed this very list. It will help me remain firm, and will be resource for when family members question me regarding loss of relationship. Thank you so much.

  8. Charlie on December 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Today marks a year of separation from my husband. He remains deceptive and unrepentant. I am on the brink of filing for divorce but still struggling, although this is a consequence of his infidelity, abuse and lies. I want to move forward with my life but can’t stop hoping for reconciliation

  9. Lori on December 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    “Friend, how do you determine when to put consequences into place in your relationships with others who have been destructive towards you? ” What a great question, to which I seem to have more questions than answers to. For me, when the consequences of the behavior of the other person are so ongoing it becomes unbearably toxic to me, I impose consequences. I regret not imposing them sooner, as I end up suffering at length, and in my suffering, end up wounding the other with toxic sinful responses. One of the consequences of staying in the toxic unrepentant sinful relationship has been that I have become like the other person over time. Now that I have imposed the consequences of separate living (1 year ago), it has afforded me the opportunity to gradually return to the woman who fears God that I once was. However,I have dwelt so long in the negativity of this companionship of sin that I wish I would have withdrawn my trust, fellowship and intimacy with my husband years ago. One example of my becoming like him is in what I think was his idolatry. His righteousness or lack of it was only decided by his opinion of himself, not the word of God. He does not seem to see any sin in himself and therefore, no need of God to forgive or cleanse although he claims to be a christian of 56 years. My response became idolatrous as I became his conscience, convicter of sin and rather than trust God to be God in his life, I trusted in myself to get through to him. It is obvious to me now, (as I am sure it was obvious to many others at the time) that this was idolatrous. Allowing the consequences of separation (for that is how he was living anyway) has had the effect of my repentence to the Lord for my sinful idolatry. I am now praying for my husband and the Lords will be done in his and my life. Freedom and healing are the fruits of consequences, (at least for me) and in this separation, I have had to return to God as my Husband, Father, Provider and my Everything! He has not disappointed. 🙂

    • Free on December 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Lori, I think you are being too hard on yourself. You adapted to your situation for survival. Idolatry as you call it, was not your choice but rather, an extremely desperate coping mechanism which enabled you to endure the unspeakable, trauma, of a destructive relationship.

      • Lori on December 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm

        Hello Free, Thank you for your support and compassion. I have given your perspective some thought and while I believe it was a coping mechanism in a very destructive relationship, I also believe it was a choice. It was only a year ago that I made a different choice in dealing with the destruction. The choice to separate from it. It was by far the better of the 2 choices as my health has improved and my late teen early 20’s children are saying how much happier we all seem now. The tension in the home has nearly dissipated, and seems to revisit when their father attempts to connect with them. At this point, they want little to nothing to do with him and it saddens me to see just how much destruction there was to be at such a place. Anyway, perhaps I wasn’t strong enough 5 or 10 years ago to choose separation at that time, but thank God I am now. Thank you again for your perspective. I appreciate how it has caused me to reflect more on the decision I made. Blessings to you.

        • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:43 pm

          Yea – what a great interaction of listening to feedback, reflecting on it, extracting what might be helpful and also standing your ground. I love how strong and wise you all are getting. CORE!

    • Nancy on December 29, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Hi Lori,

      Something I say, out loud, when thoughts creep in like, “I wish I had done this or that, earlier”, or “if only I hadn’t done this is that”, is “get behind me Satan!”.

      You are on the road to recovery. Don’t allow Satan to creep into your thoughts like this.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:29 pm

        I agree. We can only do what we know to do. Stop beating yourself up for what you did not know. That is Satan’s ploy – he is the accuser.

        • Lori on December 31, 2016 at 7:08 pm

          I appreciate the encouragement to not beat myself up over past ways of dealing with the emotional trauma of an abusive husband. I would also appreciate and feel the need for clarification as I am becoming aware that I too was reacting to the emotional trauma in emotionally abusive ways to him. After taking the tests you supplied, I realize in my desperation and hopeless feelings of being trapped in a marriage to a man who wasn’t going to look at change, I would engage in lengthy arguments hoping it would effect change. Over the years the arguments got more emotionally heated and the past year or two I began name calling and yelling at him. It was this behavior that I realized was damaging to myself and him which finally caused me to separate for our families sake. I am deeply concerned about my capacity to emotionally abuse another human being and the thought that I need to look at this more deeply and gain better tools is essential to me. I am terrified that I will slip back into this behavior with him, or others at some point. It has never happened outside of my relationship with him or my father. I have experienced this behavior one other time with my alcoholic narcissistic father when after 3 weeks of intense alcohol rehab, he declared he did not need the outpatient treatment plan they prescribed. I reacted desperately and I don’t think anyone witnessing the argument we had could tell which person was in need of treatment. How can I address my abusive behavior? I have had great relief in separating from both men in my life and have enjoyed a full year of no outbursts with my estranged husband although things he has done since the separation would certainly have triggered me had I not had the distance to deal with it rightly. It is just so very disturbing to me that I could lash out verbally as I have done, and I grieve the damage my words and my expressed hatred have had on him. How can I address my issues?

          • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm

            Lori, I applaud you for recognizing that sometimes traumatized individuals react inappropriately, even abusively at times. The difference between people who can be helped and those who cannot, is that awareness. Yes, sometimes destructive men have been traumatized, Either in childhood, or in war or other situations and may react and treat others destructively and abusively. But when they receive feedback from their loved ones that their behavior is “over the top” and abusive, those that are humble and healthy will “take heed” and realize that they need help. So I’m so glad you want help and are getting the help not to respond the way that makes you feel like a bad person. Don’t be “shocked” at your own capacity for sin. We are ALL CAPABLE of great sin. But humbly admitting that, accepting that reality helps us to see it, get the help we need to stop it and change it.

          • Nancy on January 3, 2017 at 10:46 am

            Hi Lori, I would suggest working on your CORE. It is defined a bit on this blog post, in Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and a video on YouTube. It’s excellent !!

          • Ann L on January 4, 2017 at 9:45 pm

            I don’t have an answer for you, Lori, but I’ll share what a counselor shared with me: “Take it easy on yourself.” She didn’t mean that I could give myself a pass on my shortcomings. She meant that I can acknowledge that I am only human. That I stumble, fail, fall.

            Also, she recommended Al Anon. Meetings have been hugely helpful in that I am learning the skills for detaching with love — Al Anon calls it recovering your sanity. It also helps you establish boundaries and allow others the grace to experience the consequences of their own behaviors.

            So I learned that some of my behaviors are about what one would expect given the conditions I allowed to prevail — simply because I didn’t know that other choices were valid and more healthy.

  10. Wendy on December 28, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Romans 16:13
    Powerful words of truth!
    My three children and I have been walking out of a very difficult situation for the past six years!
    My Christian marriage of 20 years came to an end because of my husband’s incredible “spin out of control”with sexual addiction!
    I so very much appreciate this post with all of its scripture backing up the truth of consequences that the Lord does want in the healing process from destruction!!
    Choices…. yes choices my now ex-husband made against me and our three children resulted in the consequence of a conviction to prison for him! He is a convicted sex offender serving time in a Colorado prison for “sex abuse in a person of trust!” Consequences of his choices… Criminal choices!
    My kids and I have struggled to figure out a realistic relationship to have with my ex-husband’s family after this conviction. Your scripture provided here in this post has confirmed to me the boundaries I need to keep!
    His family continues to dabble in destructive lies , secrecy and silence to what has occurred in my marriage and my families life! Confirming to me that I can not have much contact with them because of their continued behavior! This is a consequence!
    Thank you Leslie for your always honest and timely truth about destructive relationships in a persons life! Over the past few years it has given me much clarity as a Christian woman… Through a very difficult situation… To hold my head up and keep looking to God for His healing and His truth!

  11. Denise on December 28, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I have been married to my husband for 31 years. Most of those years I overlooked, excused and forgave his verbal, emotional and mental abuse and manipulation that he spewed on me and my children. A few years ago I stopped pretending everything was ok and started to speak up when he was acting or speaking like a “bully” I also began spending less time with him as I began having anxiety issues and overwhelmed emotionally. His daughter severed their relationships with after multiple attempts of reconciling with him. My hope was that he would realize his behavior was destructive and he would desire to change. But instead his behavior escalated to the point where I had to flee my home with only my clothes for safety and sanity! we have been separated for almost 2 years and he doesn’t show any desire to reconcile and it fact is now engaged to a young Phillipiano girl ( she’s younger than his daughters!) and we aren’t even divorced yet ! It seems like the negative consequences are of little concern to him! He is just moving on with a new life with someone new forgetting the family he’s leaving behind ! SO sadly it is true sometimes conseguences don’t seem to matter ! I pray daily for the Lord to heal my shattered family!

  12. D on December 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I have been married to my husband for 31 years. Most of those years I overlooked, excused and forgave his verbal, emotional and mental abuse and manipulation that he spewed on me and my children. A few years ago I stopped pretending everything was ok and started to speak up when he was acting or speaking like a “bully” I also began spending less time with him as I began having anxiety issues and overwhelmed emotionally. His daughter severed their relationships with after multiple attempts of reconciling with him. My hope was that he would realize his behavior was destructive and he would desire to change. But instead his behavior escalated to the point where I had to flee my home with only my clothes for safety and sanity! we have been separated for almost 2 years and he doesn’t show any desire to reconcile and it fact is now engaged to a young Phillipiano girl ( she’s younger than his daughters!) and we aren’t even divorced yet ! It seems like the negative consequences are of little concern to him! He is just moving on with a new life with someone new forgetting the family he’s leaving behind ! SO sadly it is true sometimes conseguences don’t seem to matter ! I pray daily for the Lord to heal my shattered family!

    • Free on December 30, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Your situation does sound sad. It would be even sadder if you stated with your destructive spouse. I think it takes the children time to understand everything and see the big picture. I have found that telling the children the truth is small bites when it is appropriate heals. They already know something is not right, listen and love them. The family will not be the same, yet what you did have was just an illusion. That hurts too.

      Move on to healing. God will not disappoint!

  13. Robin on December 28, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    I have been divorced for 18 months. Living with my husband for 30 years was daily destructive living for my children and myself . I am free from all that now, and my life has been full of Grace and Joy that I did t know was possible . Looking back I think CONSEQUENCES would have served me very well. I would have been advocating and protecting my family- saying this is my healthy boundary don’t do that again, OR a consequence will be given. I see this as so very BIBICAL, but unfortunately many times we are told the opposite in churchlife. They tell us to be strong and submit and keep our family intact. Where I believe the opposite is more true and more effective. To stand up to his sins and say if you do that again I am leaving for the weekend and giving you time to think about your destructive behavior– or maybe because you continue to hurt the family and refuse to acknowledge it the children and I are going to see a BIBICAL counselor. The big deal about consequences is it’s like he’s free to break a law. Gods laws say honor your wive and don’t exasperate your children.Consequences protect our families from living with a spouse that continually harms, wounds, and damages . If more of us used consequences earlier in life,our spouses would have to look at their destructive behaviors and make a choice .

    • Robin on December 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      One thing I learned was the largest consequence is divorce. A divorce was necessary to protect the family or spouse- but anytime the destructive spouse chooses to acknowledge their abusive behaviors and make necessary changes, the divorce is not the end. It’s a consequence, and there is hope by you leaving you get out of the way, for God to do His Work in the sinning partner.

      • JoAnn on December 28, 2016 at 10:29 pm

        I like what you said about “getting out of the way to let God do His work.” So true and so necessary.

  14. JoAnn on December 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Kudos to all those who bravely stood up for themselves and got out of a destructive marriage! And, I pray that those who are still there will be given the courage by God to do what is necessary to leave and move forward into a new life. Grace be with you.

    • Free on December 28, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      I agree JoAnn is takes so much courage to leave! It is only by the incredible love of God that victims to succeed in their escapes. Taking that first step to trust that he really created you for good and does not want you to be harmed can seem overwhelming for many. Our brains get bogged down with theology and miss the obvious fact that our house is on fire! Get out of the house, call the fire department, call the police, don’t bother to turn back and be sad,…. run for your life!

  15. Aleea on December 28, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    . . . .Oh, and I forgot I wanted to say that loving spouses must r-e-p-e-a-t-e-d-l-y confront each other for the relationship to serve the function of promoting the spiritual growth of both. No marriage can be judged successful unless wife and husband are each others best critics. . . .Lord, “Does the road wind up-hill all the way?” Yes it does, to the very end. . . . .It is wonderful but love is not simply giving. It is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. . . . .Oh and I was reading this study today, “love” of pets and how many, many people are capable of “loving” only pets and incapable of genuinely loving other human beings. Large numbers of American soldiers had these idyllic marriages to German, Italian or Japanese “war brides” with whom they could not verbally communicate. But when their brides learned English, the marriages fall apart. The servicemen could then no longer project upon their wives their own thoughts, feelings, desires and goals and feel the same sense of closeness one feels with a pet. Instead, as their wives learned English, the men began to realize that these women had serious ideas, divergent opinions and aims very different from their own. As this happened, real love began to grow for a few but for most, it ceased. Most of those marriages just fell apart. Critical thinking (―not criticizing, critical thinking!), logic, reason, evidence, research, push-back, Responsibility for ourselves means refusing to let others do our thinking, talking, and naming for us. It means learning to respect and use our own brains and instincts. As shown in the study, many husbands don’t have a problem with you thinking for yourself, as long as your conclusions are the same as or at least compatible with their beliefs, not good.

  16. ChuckSigler on December 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    In his Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, John Calvin said of Luke 17:3-4 that “Christ does not order us to grant forgiveness, till the offender turns to us and give evidence of repentance.” In an aside Calvin added that in doing so, it appears that Christ is commanding us to shut our hearts against the obstinate (unrepentant) and refuse them pardon.

  17. Free on December 28, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    In response to the question, “When should consequences” be implemented. The answer: immediately and constantly. Create consequence with the first offense, just like when you are trying to raise a child and don’t want them to touch a hot stove or run into the street. Anything less than immediate and consistent consequences allows the destructive person to heighten their abuse. If the victim does not take a start, the destructive person views them as weak and easy to control. This usually keeps them happy until you dare to resist. They will run amuck with unbridled selfishness because that is the nature of their problem. Special emphasis on THEIR problem, it is not yours to fix or tolerate or to learn to work around. It is your job to protect yourself from the deranged, even if they are your spouse.

  18. Lmsdaily115 on December 28, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I guess I don’t know that for sure. I see him as a hurt, reactive boy who is immature with his emotions. I keep thinking that he just needs some time while I work on me. I was once that angry, never-pleased person when he tried for 18 years. Then he snapped and we both changed places. I started to see my sin, and he stopped caring. It’s been 2 years. I so don’t want a divorce, but I don’t see any real improvement. I chalked it up to a midlife crisis. Bug I don’t know anyone who went through one to add on how to survive it. Deep inside I keep hearing “5 years”, but I don’t know for what or when 5 years started.

    I get fearful that I’m just wasting my time allowing this to continue and that he is just enduring until the kids leave so he doesn’t have to pay child support. I don’t feel I have a biblical basis for divorce. He doesnt hit me, no addictions…except a workaholic, and no affair that I have any proof of. I’m not sure if this is just the desert of the marriage, or truly the end. Can let it go if it is, but I dont want to kill and bury a marriage that might only be sick and could heal.

    • JoAnn on December 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      How about marriage counseling to help you sort that out? Would he go with you?

    • Free on December 29, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Oh, please DO NOT go to marriage counseling. Abused and abuser should not be counseled together.

      I hear you saying that you are not sure your spouse is abusive. Have you done some of the little assessment quizzes like can be found on Leslie’s sites or Lund Bancrofts? Are you aware of the power and control wheel and the cyclical pattern of domestic violence? I would read and get informed and compare your relationship to the criteria.

      As an outsider looking in all the red flags are there. He may have childhood issues that influenced his entitlement thinking and controlling behaviors. Regardless of the root, the behaviors are dangerous to you and your family. Sadly, men of this thinking pattern rarely, ever change. The few that do change do so temporarily in “Ahha” moments of short duration.

  19. Robin on December 29, 2016 at 1:36 am

    There are levels we must all go thru in destructive relationships. Some women think they need to make some changes in their selves, and some are not sure if their spouse is abusive. God knows exactly where you are and wants you to rest in that. He will guide you thru all the steps and give you wisdom. We never need to compare ourselves where someone else might be, but we can learn as we observe their steps. So don’t try to rush anything, start wherever you are and realize this is a process.

  20. Lmsdaily115 on December 29, 2016 at 4:37 am

    I go to a Christian counselor myself. He refuses to go and talk about our problems to a complete stranger…in his viewpoint.

    • Free on December 29, 2016 at 7:12 am

      That response is a control tactic. He doesn’t want to give up his power over you nor change anything he is doing.

      I agree that this journey is extremely personal and each situation is best understood by the person enduring it. I think it is great that you are trying to learn everything you can about your husband’s disorder and plan what is best for your future.

  21. Lmsdaily115 on December 29, 2016 at 4:51 am

    I did Leslie quiz, but I’m not familiar with Lund Banctoft. Is there a link you might be able to provide for that?

    I’m not a meek and subdued type of person. In fact, I was the disrespectful, sharp tongued person trying to make a perfect life and being very disrespectful for the first 18 years of our marriage. I spoke up when I didn’t like something, but it was not in a very godly way. Granted, my motives were well intended, but executed wrong. During that time, he was not the person he is now. He was generous, loving and kind. Granted, he had dome quirks, we all do. My isdue is that I know he is capable of being that way…I lived it for 18 years, but he just snapped, in a way, that seems out of charachter. I know we have talked about how hurt he was and such. It all opened MY eyes to my own attitude and since then I have been totally remade in God. I researched about respect, nen, women, midlife crisis, signs of an affair, forgiveness, on and on. Yet no matter how repentant, sorry, or respectful I am, I keep running into this brick wall attitude ftom him. If he was always like this, I would agree with you, but it is so Jekyll and Hyde, it confuses me on what is really going on. I would hate to end a martiage over a possible medical problem like depression or hormone imbalance or something. But he won’t see a doctor. So frustrated.

    • Free on December 29, 2016 at 7:17 am

      I highly recommend, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft, equally as valuable by the same author is “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

      There are many other helpful resources that fellow bloggers may like to recommend. I would scan previous posts.

      You are not alone. Something is not right in your relationship and although I hear you taking responsibility for some relationship dynamics, I don’t hear that he is taking responsibility for anything.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:28 pm

        I admit I haven’t read all the threads to this post but I do think we need to be careful here. She says her husband was not abusive or controlling for the first 18 years of their marriage. I’m not sure we can put him into the “controlling” husband category. Perhaps fed up category, angry category, unforgiving category, or done category, but not controlling. But I think some women who have tried hard to forbear with their verbally abusive or harsh spouses for 18 years also come to a point in time where they are angry, resentful, and done and even if their husband tries to seek forgiveness or wants to reconcile, she is very wary and untrusting. We read about these all the time on this blog. So I think we can have some empathy for where he might be here.

        But as I say in my book, it takes two to heal a broken marriage. The abuser must change and show true heart change and it sound as if – at least from her perspective, she has done that – but it also takes the one who has been abused to be willing to rebuild and trust again. Sometimes that is just not possible as the damage has been too great and trust will always be broken. That is the ugly consequences of sin, and God doesn’t erase all the ugly consequences of sin just because we are repentant.

        • L&D-RN on January 3, 2017 at 3:17 pm

          Thank you for your words about the damage being too great and the trust will always be broken. My husband was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive several times during our short marriage and I finally got the courage to leave about 6 months ago. He has since repented and “gets it” and begged me to restore our marriage but I don’t trust him not to do those awful things again. I have struggled with guilt for not wanting to restore our marriage even though he’s repented. Your words have helped relieve some of the guilt because the consequences of going back are too great and the trust is too broken.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      I think you are wise to see that your husband was a loving, patient, kind man for 18 years. It sounds as if he didn’t have the courage or ability to speak up for himself early in the marriage. Or perhaps he thought it more BIblical to be patient and forbearing but it came to a point where he couldn’t do it anymore and shut down – or detached. IT happens. And it sounds as if he’s hardened his heart now against any attempts at reconciliation with you. Perhaps you can ask him if he wants to remain married to you and if he says yes, why? If he no longer wishes to be close to you or have a true marital relationship, why does he want to stay married? It might be financial, but if his reason is “that God hates divorce” I think you might also say but “Do you think that it honors God for us to stay legally married but relationally divorced?” Perhaps then it might bring him to a point where he has to decide whether to “try again to trust you” or not.

      This would be the same process if the man was the abuser and the woman had “had it” and detached and shut down. It may take a long time of seeing consistent change that begins to soften the heart of the one who has been sinned against, but honestly sometimes the consequences of this kind of long term verbal abuse is that the relationship has died and without a resurrection, it is dead.

      • T Carson on December 2, 2019 at 2:46 pm

        Thank you for your wisdom. We are not taught to be free in stating what our heart already knows. Without true repentance and the hard work of restoration, a long term destructive relationship is dead. There has been an unhealthy expectation of trust being reinstated before healing has happened. Forgiveness = trust is the implied gospel on how relationships work. Forgiveness is for my wellbeing. Trust is the fruit of a right relationship with God where the sin issue can no longer have a foothold in the person’s life. It is inauthentic to act whole when destructive unrepentant behavior is marginally repented from in front of the right people but it is practiced habitually in the hidden places. It is inappropriate to ask again and again to have right perspective on the sin issue given how good our lifestyle is at this point in our lives. I am alone and I am afraid of starting new after 34 years of marriage. The last 16 years have being the hardest in my husbands sin issue. I need to be whole again and I don’t see any way to continue in this dead marriage.

  22. Lmsdaily115 on December 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Free. Thank you for your help and guidance. It is very sppreciated. Any links to understanding more that you might be able to share will be appreciated. It’s been 2 years of post bomb drop (him asking for a divorce). I’m not entirely sure why he hasn’t left yet, I suspect a control issue as well. Money, wanting to be with kids, likes his clean laundry….I’m sure that is part of it. But I’m still in because I beleive we can get through this and come out better. I am just losing faith that God and I are enough. If he doesn’t want to rebuild a relationship with me, then fine. I can acceptvthat, but the slow, agonizing death just feels cruel.

    I guess I have more thinking and praying to do. Thank you again. I admire your courage and honesty.

    • Content on December 29, 2016 at 11:29 am

      Hi, LMS. 🙂 I think one thing that helped me make that next step toward separation was that I really came to this place where I knew I was actually standing in the way of my husband and God. I felt a clear responsibility to truly let go (plus, even just the last two days, I am realizing how many times my husband was hinting around at not wanting to be married any longer. I guess I was living in denial before and couldn’t see it clearly at the time). I needed to put my marriage and husband completely in God’s hands to do with what He would/will. Things kept getting increasingly worse and pretty soon, it was an easier (although still painful) decision to make.

      I really did see it as unloving for both of us for me to not enforce the consequence of separation.

      Something else to think about.. Has your husband really not shown any of these behaviors at all before? For myself, I started seeing all of these red flags all throughout our relationship, even when things were still supposedly really “good”. His tendencies were always there (even though he was really affectionate and good to me in many ways and not as verbally abusive as at the end). It helped me to see it was part of the marriage all along (helped but very painful to realize, too).

      Anyway, just some things to think about.

      Also, don’t forget. .. God is not limited by a separation or a divorce. That is not to give false hope but to shed light on the fact that you asking for separation won’t hinder God if His plans are to keep your marriage together.

      Praying for you as you consider your next steps and for your healing.

      I believe God will bring you to a place where you know and are confident in that next step, whatever it is He asks of you. Wait until He does and it will come with peace.

      • Nancy on December 29, 2016 at 12:11 pm

        Hi Content and LMS,

        I spent some time researching the word Ezer ( Hebrew for helpmate in Genesis). It was very helpful. Because our battle is not against flesh and blood, it takes prayer and Bible Study to fight it.

        A paraphrase of Ephesians 6:12 helped me to make the decision to go to battle for my h in separating from him:

        Our fight is not AGAINST people, it is FOR people, against evil. That’s what an Ezer does. She meets her husband’s spiritual needs, not his prideful ones.

        In my case that meant getting out of the way so The Lord could work with him.

        • Content on December 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm

          Hi, Nancy – that was also one of the things God led me to that helped me to separate. I really saw this as the most loving thing to do and that I was fighting for my husband.

          Another part of my story is that I heard in my spirit about a year before we separated these words: “You are going to have to be removed from your husband’s life for him to come to Me.”

          I remember that those words caught me off guard and at the time, I wasn’t even considering separating. Then as that year progressed, God started revealing that my husband was lying and started revealing the gaslighting, manipulation, refusal to really own his problems, and other things that were really off in our marriage. After repeatedly trying to address the lies with him and him sometimes taking responsibility and sometimes not (gaslighting me), it got to a point where I was ready to separate. That decision to go ahead and do so was very hard and I thought back (and have continued to) many times to that phrase that God whispered to me. I feel like God gave that to me so that I could look back and draw strength. He was preparing me for what He was going to call me to do by telling me that.

          I also felt God at one point asking me if I was willing to surrender my marriage and intact family to him for my husband’s sake (his salvation). And, if I was willing to do it even if I didn’t get to enjoy, as his wife, those benefits.

          Today, I am struggling with all of it. I am so sad. And, I question whether I ever heard God’s voice. I wonder – if my husband will be saved, why can’t he be saved in time so our family can be reunited and serve Him together?

          There are things my husband has said through the years that give me indication to believe that somewhere deep inside, he wants to be a Christian. But, doesn’t know how to humble himself to go to God.

          I came across this verse in the last month..”And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37) So, I pray that God uses this time to humble my husband and that my husband’s heart is not hardened even more.

          But, today, the idea of a future being a divorced mom with three children who needs a job, hasn’t worked in eighteen years….is overwhelming me. Prayers appreciated.

          • Nancy on December 29, 2016 at 10:45 pm


            I just finished praying for you.

            All I can say is one. Step. At. A. Time. We get freaked out when we get too far ahead of ourselves ( imagining life as a single mom etc…). From reading your story below ( going from adorating him for so many years to seeing the reality of his defenses) it seems clear to me that God has been working with you and that yes, you have heard from Him.

            When I get feeling unsure I watch a whole whack of Patrick Doyle videos and end up convicted that all of this is out of my hands anyways! I have done my part in guarding my heart, but I am not my husband’s Holy Spirit, I am not capable of convicting him ( that’s one of my biggest temptations – to be his convictor – how ridiculous is that?). The only other part I have to play is to get my eyes off of my husband’s behaviour and onto Christ, like never before.

            I Hope that tomorrow is a better day for you.

          • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:37 pm

            Content, it is scary but you have a big God who will teach you what you need just as he can teach your husband what he needs. Continue to walk in faith and try not to let the fear of change get the best of you. So easy to say, so hard to actually walk out.

    • Free on December 29, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      I talk a pretty firm talk but I stayed for years until my children where grown. It was horrific and I still don’t know if what the best chose or not. Once again, each person’s situation is different. I never had to deal with the painful circumstances of child custody. Other bloggers can speak better to that, but there seems to be great differences in justice based upon what jurisdiction you live in.

      I hoped my husband would get better. We spent tens of thousand’s of dollars on counseling. Decades later, he is still an abuser. He has changed tactics over the years, had very convincing reprieves that looked like healing but were only his attempt to fool people. The person he fooled the most was himself. Now, I know good behavior occurs for only one of two reasons, either he is trying to get something he wants or it improves his society standing my behaving as he does.

      It is a journey. Stay strong.

      • Robin on December 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm

        Free, your story sounds pretty much exactly like mine. I too stayed too long, for 30 yrs. I try not to regret knowing valuable lessons were taught in those years, and I do agree every woman’s story is different. But I’m a strong believer in leaving and protecting the children from being raised and indoctrinated in an abusive and destructive homefront.
        No ones story is w/out pain and we all have a process to walk thru to the other side. I’m very glad Jesus rescued me – so many have said I was very fortunate to get out as I did. I ended up with our home which was paid off, a retirement acct, and a nice pension from his retirement. I believe God gave me such wonderful provision, to pour His Grace out to show me, He would makeup all that was stolen in those 30 years. I’m very grayeful!!!

        • Free on December 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm

          Oh, I agree children should be spared. I just didn’t go that route. My husband traveled a lot so we could have weeks without him in the home. It gave us all a reprieve to decompress and live healthier for a period of time.

          Congrats on the house, pension and retirement. Great!!

  23. Nancy on December 29, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Hi Aleea,

    1 John comes to mind. “We love because He first loved us”. Maybe realizing this, is what mature love is?

    Acknowledging that I am not the manufacturers of love but only a vessel that can pass it along, has been really healing for me. I had it backwards. My Borderline mother expected me to manufacture love for her…I was her Source. That was me ‘being god’. Such a destructive mindset for me.

    I receive love from The Lord- He is my Source. Then I pass it along as best I can. But guarding my heart ( with Boundaries and consequences) is an essential component of not getting ‘tapped out’ ( or going into overdraft) as well as keeping that love as pure as possible.

    Boundaries and consequences – coupled with opening ourselves to the love of Christ- are essential in keeping the flow of love going in the appropriate direction ( from The Lord, to our hearts, and out to others).

    I had this flow backwards for so long. The two verses that The Lord used to reverse this were

    1) Prov- above all else guard your heart
    2) 1 John- we love because He first loved us ( also, when Jesus said that our work is to believe – for me this means opening my heart to His perfect Love)

    Nancy 🙂

    • Aleea on December 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Hello Nancy,

      “I receive love from The Lord- He is my Source. Then I pass it along as best I can. But guarding my heart ( with Boundaries and consequences) is an essential component of not getting ‘tapped out’ ( or going into overdraft) as well as keeping that love as pure as possible.” . . . . That’s just so beautiful, Nancy. Simply wonderful: “. . . from The Lord, to our hearts, and out to others.” That’s just so, so beautiful and when you say that it just goes right to my heart. . . Like really deep. I know that experience. I know what you are experiencing: deep, pure heart cleaning. I know that: Jesus, us, others. When I pray my heart gets so excited by that. I am His totally confused child who is hopelessly in love with Him (I love the Christ of Faith). The Jesus of History (—Many, many times, I don’t understand Him.) . . . . .Nancy what do you do with all the abusive Bible stuff: do you just not dwell on the spiritual abuse? . . . ―Jesus is the King in Luke nineteen who says:“Execute my enemies in front of me. . . ” —Notice how violent all that is in that chapter. “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed [to hell]!” ―First Corinthians sixteen, hundreds of verses, those are mild. . . . Whoever wrote verses like those, and they are all over the place, they run, ―they run riot (spiritual abuse) . . . . .How do you just split off all those? I only know they trigger me to: de-weaponize; de-mythologize; text de-construct. . . . . . .To me, ignoring all those passages is like ignoring the alcohol and drugs you found in your husband’s car or closet. . . . . .Anyways, I love what you say, I hear you! What you say is so beautiful and true. The ugly, spiritual abuse stuff is true too. The gospel promises joy and peace of mind, but it may do so by prolonging childhood and we see the results of that with maybe even many in church. They believed too much (“wifely” submission, the rigid hierarchy of patriarchal church institutions and paid horrible prices for it. . . . I kneel before God because I know I don’t know. I know how little I know, but clergy don’t know either. They can pretend to know things they don’t know but they simply don’t know. An educated theologian seems someone who’s better at rationalizing what they’re pretending to know. ―Wonder, gratitude, open-mindedness, the disposition of being comfortable with not knowing, uncertainty, a skeptical and scientific-minded attitude, and the genuine desire to know what’s true—I always say that Doubt is your intellectual conscience pleading with you to be honest with yourself. . . .Anyways, thank you and what you say: it is beautiful, it is wonderful. We do love because God first loved us, even in the face of all our unloveliness. . . God is the greatest nurturer of all and if our hearts are clean, it seems it is all He wants. I don’t know but I think the difference between the love of God and the love of people is that people love people or things because they are precious but God simply loves us and by loving us makes us precious. This is totally circular reasoning and a whopping logical fallacy but it seems so true: God loves us only because He loves us.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks Nancy, “we love because he first loved us.” So true.

  24. Connie on December 29, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Here is an article that probably explains many if not most of our issues:

    Porn and SG are adultery. In fact, SG is sometimes called ‘Gay light’ because it is not with a woman and because sex is a bonding act, it bonds one to oneself, thus being a huge cause of narcissism.

    My 1st h was always angry. Part of the anger is that they are so ‘in their heads’ with fantasizing that they hate anyone to interrupt their thoughts.

    • Content on December 29, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      That is a really good article. Thanks for sharing that.

      I’ve been contemplating a lot about the issue of pornography and its role in destructive relationships. I believe we are seeing a rise in destructive relationships because of the prevalence of pornography in our culture everywhere. I was kind of contributing it to the fact that these men get addicted to getting their pleasure without having to deal with a woman with real emotions, etc. And, I’m sure that is part of the anger, too.

      My husband’s anger has never been overt in general — only when I’ve tried to bring up how something he did hurt me and definitely as I started standing on truth and refusing to be gaslighted into accepting an illusion and not the reality of something that had occurred. As I started doing that, things got much worse in our relationship and his anger increased as those issues kept resurfacing and I kept standing my ground. He was and continues to be really upset with me that I could think “badly” of him. He says that I am “seeing him wrong”. He was so used to my adoration and praise for most of our marriage and now that is all gone.

      I like what the article says that one day, those compartmentalizing mechanisms break down. I pray for things to come to the light, breakdowns to happen. Not for revenge, but so my husband will see his need for Jesus.

      • Content on December 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        My husband was exposed to pornography when he was around 8 years old, I think. 🙁 And, he was actively into it before we got married. There were so many red flags before I got married, but the fact is that I was lost and in the dark, too. I plunged into some of that with him for a time and satisfied my own lusts – committing adultery in a one-night stand which I quickly confessed to and repented of. Later, God used that guilt from the affair to drive me to Christ.

        Our marriage was so messed up all along and I am just starting to see how tangled up and twisted so much of it was.

        Only God can save him. This marriage is dead and unless God resurrects it, it is done.

      • Free on December 29, 2016 at 8:07 pm

        Content, he thinks he is entitled to adoration. He is incapable of thinking that anyone has anywhere near the value that he has. I don’t think he does it on purpose, it is rather sadder. He doesn’t know how to think any other way.

        Our “normal” is not the normal the rest of the world knows. Our “normal” is absurd!

    • Ann L on January 4, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Oh my goodness. That article is wonderful. I wondered for years about my husband’s extreme irritability. It was like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. He’d be pleasant on the outside, yet whisper furiously behind my back. I’d call him out on it and say “If I’ve done something to anger you, say it! Out loud. To my face.” A co-worker referred to him as “Angry Man” for an outburst we witnessed when my husband didn’t realize anyone was around.

      And that bit about ptsd. Gosh. I’ve been carrying that load around for years, too, and only realized in the past few months that all those symptoms — that was/is me. Although that’s been on my record for 20 years, only recently have I realized what it means.

      Heads up: Standard counseling does not address chronic ptsd. Trying EMDR now and have great hopes for relief.

  25. Allen on December 29, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Wow! This is EXCELLENT!!! This is something I’ve been thinking about for over a year now since I left my husband. I kept thinking “have I not forgiven him because i chose to live but wow this really makes a lot of sense to me and clears things right up!!

  26. Content on December 29, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    “God loves us only because He loves us.”

    I like that.

  27. Content on December 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Aleea, several posts back, I asked if you’d like some resources that helped with knowing who you are in Christ. I later got back on and saw that you would. At the time, I was planning on recommending a resource that God used in my life, but I’ve read several negative things about the author and books since. So, now I’m hesitant to mention.

    Really, I think it all boils down to this for me and every believer. Until we get to a point where we can say, with Paul, “I am convinced that nothing will separate us from the of God that is ours in Christ Jesus” (obviously shortened!) and until we really come to grips with the fact that God is not condemning us and that He is for us and that we are completely and totally made righteous in His sight (It is finished!!!), we just our on shaky foundation that manifests itself a bunch of unhealthy ways as we try to live this life.

    Anyway, none of that might be something you need to even think about. It might be that God has brought you to that place of full knowing those things.

    Can’t remember what it was exactly that got us onto that subject. 🙂

    • Content on December 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Oops, double post. I tried to stop the post and correct a typo. 🙂

  28. Content on December 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Aleea, several posts back, I asked if you’d like some resources that helped with knowing who you are in Christ. I later got back on and saw that you would. At the time, I was planning on recommending a resource that God used in my life, but I’ve read several negative things about the author and books since. So, now I’m hesitant to mention.

    Really, I think it all boils down to this for me and every believer. Until we get to a point where we can say, with Paul, “I am convinced that nothing will separate us from the of God that is ours in Christ Jesus” (obviously shortened!) and until we really come to grips with the fact that God is not condemning us and that He is for us and that we are completely and totally made righteous in His sight (It is finished!!!), we just are on shaky foundation that manifests itself a bunch of unhealthy ways as we try to live this life.

    Anyway, none of that might be something you need to even think about. It might be that God has brought you to that place of full knowing those things.

    Can’t remember what it was exactly that got us onto that subject. 🙂

    • Aleea on December 30, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      “I am convinced that nothing will separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus”

      —Oh Content,
      I am totally convinced of that too. . . .”For in Him we live and move and have our being!” (Acts Seventeen). . . . I always think about it as me, a sunken ship, inside an ocean and that ocean is God (is love). I am convinced of that.

      “I’ve read several negative things about the author and books since. So, now I’m hesitant to mention.”
      . . . I understand. . . .Thank you anyway!

  29. Nancy on December 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Aleea,

    I love your heart and your vulnerability. Thank you for sharing.

    You ask me what I do with the abusive stuff in the Bible. I’ll try to explain. First, I was only born again 4 1/2 years ago and started studying the Bible in earnest 3 1/2 years ago- so, I’m a baby, we’ll, ok…maybe a toddler by now. I know very, very little.

    I am part of a study that is very structured and tackles both old and New Testament. The fellowship aspect is very strong with mature women whom I trust to love me where I am. The study also always asks us to consider ( wether studying new or Old Testament), how does this passage affect me? What is God saying to me about my life. That’s where I tend to stay, in the application of The Bible, to my life. If I step back and start analyzing, I am in trouble.

    About 15 years ago, when faced with infertility I tried to escape my pain and in my desperation to deny my feelings had a psychotic break from reality.

    Through that horrible experience I learned ( and continue to learn) to be very careful to respect the limits of my mind, which is why I love Proverbs :Trust in the Lord with all your HEART and lean NOT on your own UNDERSTANDING.

    This is why I approach The Bible from an application perspective and not a perspective of trying to understand.

    Another important moment for me was when I was called into a leadership position, I came up against the question if I believed that The Bible was THE WORD OF GOD. How could I answer that? I know NOTHING. Nothing. I went through a time of deep struggle. How could I possibly answer that question? There are scholars with degree upon degree who argue opposite interpretations of any given subject. HOW do I know?? Then God gave me the passage of Moses being asked to take off his shoes as he stood before the burning bush – he was standing on holy ground. I had to ask myself if I was refusing to take my shoes off as I studied His word ( holy ground). I was trying to have my cake and eat it too ( study His word with the escape hatch open ready to chalk any emotionally difficult stuff up to human error).

    So I stepped on faith and chose to believe the Bible is from God. Without error.

    So I wrestle with the hard stuff as I encounter it, but at the end of the day it is best to give it back to Him and Trust in the Lord with all my HEART and lean NOT on my own UNDERSTANDING.

    • Aleea on December 30, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      “This is why I approach The Bible from an application perspective and not a perspective of trying to understand.”

      —Wow Nancy, that is really, really good. It is about action, how to act in the world. I totally get that. I keep thinking its something I don’t know but maybe it is something I don’t act out/ act on in my life. That’s very good. I get that. Definitely things to ask God about in my prayer times.

      . . . I love baby Christians, we used to have one at my church who helped me so much. . . . They are totally unstructured. . . .Hmm, how to say this. . . .Older Christians say faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the whole staircase. Baby Christians say, hey, did you notice there is an elevator behind the staircase that can take you to the top floor? Generally, the only time people learn something new is when what they are using to structure their perceptions no longer is working. —Me too!!! But I have come to understand that what I do not know is far more important than what I already know. —And actually, you are operating in a completely different registry: action, not knowing.

      “So I stepped out on faith and chose to believe the Bible is from God. Without error.” . . .Nancy, for what it is worth, I have come to realize that most probably the real issue lurking behind all these scripture debates is trying to hold to inerrancy or infallibility as the guarantee for the resurrections accounts. —You do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, you decide. . . . I know for me, I get enough real love and caring, I will believe a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. It is all true with enough love and caring relationships attached to it. —And that totally made me wonder because when I tried to be objective (outsiders test), I started to really wonder just what was going on because their just are historical, factual, errors: . . . .re: “Inerrant the Wind: The Evangelical Crisis in Biblical Authority” + “The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts.” . . . .Also, “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Your Real Beliefs.” . . . .But at the same time, let me tell you something I think I do understand a little about: So many postmodernists never see Christianity’s core. These things are not unbelievable once you understand their living and nurturing core (i.e. observe you). If you want your life and relationships really messed up, just flaunt both testament’s principals. Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst always said: “The soul is inherently Christian.” . . . So, to describe the testaments as myth is absolutely not to debunk them. The contemporary impression of myth as falsehood is, I think, obnoxious and ill-informed, especially given what psychotherapy has shown: no core fantasy passes as truth without being truer than true. Mythology is a vessel of the truth because it is far, far more reliable than census and historical figures, which, subject to time as myth is not, are basically out of date as soon as they are written. These things are not unbelievable once you understand their living and nurturing core. Where ordinary, . . . you know, secular human life is so based on competitiveness and defensiveness, domination and subjugation, treachery and violence, the Kingdom is based on the self-giving love of God. . . . but the Love is not without reciprocal accountability. That can’t happen in anything but good, healthy relationships. . . . So, I see much more clearly what you are saying. Believing and healing are co-created, aren’t they? (―good, healthy relationships, like the women at your church.) As always, that helps me more than you know Nancy. I know I simply can not make the right and good decisions without God. The right actions or as you say “applications.” . . . So even when and where it is not true, it is truer than true. I am both happy and sad about that. . . . .Or, just like embracing irrationality is literally madness. . . just embracing rationality while denying the existence of mystery to life and its meaning —that is no less a form of madness. When we get too rigid and inflexible, rigor mortis of the soul sets in.

    • Aleea on December 31, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      . . . . .so, it could very well be that the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t just sit out there somewhere waiting for us to walk into it (—one cannot love God directly only indirectly through the act of love itself). Again, it is co-created. Jesus: “Where two or three of you are gathered in my name, there I am among you.” . . . . Christ is present “where two or three are gathered in His name” This has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with how we live. . . .It is not reconciling all the Bibles massive chain-of-custody textual variants, textual alterations, vast textual contradictions, textual interpolations, redactions, unverified authors, subjectively canonized books, a 275 year —no manuscript— tunnel period of only credit-card-sized small fragments (—And unfortunately that is the time when the texts are changing the most!) . . . re:Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities; The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament; Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew; The Birth of the Christian Religion and the Origins of the New Testament; The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined (Lives of Jesus Series); Jesus After 2000 Years: What He Really Said and Did —Huge and comprehensive. . . . .All this, simply doesn’t matter, two or more people are in a room praying for someones relationship, the Kingdom of Heaven is there and the God who demands justice over sacrifice, the God who is totally unspeakable, the God who is named as presence, is the there too. One does not directly love love, one simply loves —a stranger, an enemy, a friend, a concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. . . a real, live, on your doorstep, stinking, begging mess. . . .boom, Kingdon of Heaven. . . . .A mystery in our midst, a mystery we participate in without ever reducing it to an object for reflection. Where two or three are gathered in His name, the result is an affirmation of God that comes only through loving the world, embracing our massive doubts, and taking responsibility for our actions. . . . . .Nancy, I always, r-e-a-l-l-y wondered why both Jesus and Paul simplify the “greatest commandment” of “love God, love others”, to just “love others” in John thirteen and Romans thirteen. The only way to love God/Love is to love others. —God has to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Loving people unconditionally with our lives, instead of agreeing on the right doctrines: divorce, re-marriage, women pastors, . . .oh, and The Historian and Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief. . . People deal with their shadow side in a number of ways, the most common way being to find outside enemies and point to them, demonizing them and blaming them for long lists of perceived evils. This strategy often does a very effective job of helping us avoid that which lurks within us. We all, me too!, can become very skilled in this, constantly pointing out the darkness and evil and twisted ways of others to avoid dealing with the massive doubts and insecurities and critical questions I bear deep, deep in my own own bones. . . . The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. . . . . when we are talking about God, we are talking about a reality known, felt, and experienced but not located. . . .Jesus often begans his teachings by saying “—change your thinking,” i.e. repent, —see things in a new way, —have your mind renewed. . . .Anyways, it is all just incredible no matter how confusing.

    • Nancy on December 31, 2016 at 5:11 pm


      Thank you for identifying how I (try to) operate:

      Action, not knowing.

      That’s it! That’s the space that allows LIFE to come in. My opposite for so many years ( and still my tendency) is:

      Paralysis, attempting to understand.

      This is the space that, for me, is DEATH.

      I lay before you LIFE and DEATH, says the Lord. Choose LIFE so that you and your defendants may LIVE.

      Operating in action, not knowing, is me choosing LIFE.

      Thank you 🙂

    • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Me too. When things get to big for me to “grasp” I remembee the passage “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.”

    • Aleea on January 1, 2017 at 6:32 am

      “Action, not knowing.” & “Paralysis, attempting to understand.” & “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, indeed, my plans are not like your plans. . . “

      . . . .oh, that is all so good and that is “really getting it.” . . . . and another thing so hit me this morning while praying for everyone here, everyone. I pray for everyone, especially myself: Christ is the norm, the criterion, the purpose, and the meaning of the Bible. I know most of you know this but things can really dawn on me sometimes when praying. . . . .The Bible points to Christ; Christ does not point to the Bible. We are not the People of the Book; we are the People with the Book. The Gospel of John does not say, “God so loved the world that he gave us. . . .a book, —a Bible. . . . The book of Revelation does not say that we are saved “by the ink of the Lamb” . . . .And for I don’t know how long Christians have asked WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) and not WWBS? (What Would the Bible Say?). If Christ is the norm of the gospel, then he is also the norm of the New Testament, and of the entire Christian Bible. That, of course, is why we are called Christ-ians and not Bible-ians. . . . .Anyways, here is the point: When something is wrong (—slavery, staying married to abusers, misogyny) its just wrong, sans the texts. When we try to marshal all this “textual evidence” to justify things it is like psychoanalytically we are still worried that they are wrong. . . .The guilt reduction strategy makes those things wrong again. The reason we have to take action is that, in my experience, the past is recorded almost exclusively in the voices of elites —and males, in the viewpoints of the wealthy and the powerful, in the visions of the literate and the educated. —That’s not who Jesus was, He was God. How can women be in the image of God if God cannot be imaged in female form? The Bible can be understood as a pointer to that which is beyond the Bible: the sacred. I think, I don’t know, but I think, in this way, the Bible functions not as a prison but as a lens. —If we spend too much time trying to know vs. acting we are in that prison too. . . . That’s probably why that baby Christian at my church always just told me “—you know the character of Christ, just do the next, no matter how small, right thing.” . . . —Wow, that’s just like Jesus, the whole thing is completely upside down. The “baby” Christians actually understand more about how to walk into real Life. . . . Talking is taking action too, as long as when we talk it is honestly and deeply, that’s how things happen. . .things change. . . . engage in productive interactions.

    • Aleea on January 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      . . .and we are loved beyond comprehension. . . .So we can forget understanding it. God is Love and trusting God’s love means trusting God’s love for us rather than our love for God. I think, maybe, that’s the awareness to have: God’s love for us, not our love for Him. We are the object of God’s love precisely because of all our shortcomings. . . .And God is not like anyone else can be, God loves us to much to leave us as we are. God’s love for us is total and so freely given that it has no “buts and no ifs”. God loves us unconditionally, even when we are doubting God’s love for us. . . .His love is eternal and has no limits. . . . . Open-mindedness is like the ultimate virtue because it allows us to actually change and even change back and change again but you can’t be open-minded unless you are open to the possibility of God being the creator of love and the creator of love beyond comprehension.

  30. JoAnn on December 29, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    When studying the Bible, It is helpful to know that most truths have at least two sides. Without this fact, you get into arguments about which side to believe, e.g. free will or predestination. Yes, the Lord loves unconditionally, but having fellowship with Him is conditional, as in Matt. 6:14-15 where he tells us that if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us. Yes, He desires all men to be saved and come to the full knowledge of God, but He hates the evil doers who reject Him and allow themselves to be used by Satan to persecute God’s people. So always look for the two sides, and accept that this is just God’s way. He can do what He wants in His way. He is God.

    • Connie on December 30, 2016 at 11:37 am


  31. James on December 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Leslie’s article was very good this week.

    The only caveat I would give is this, consequences are biblical insofar as the consequences given are biblical consequences.
    If a wife commits adultery, divorce is a biblical consequence. If a wife has a bad day, yells at her husband for forgetting to put the cap back on the toothpaste and then rolls her eyes at him when he tries to convince her that forgetting to put the cap back on the toothpaste does not make him a terrible human being, the he does not have just cause for divorce. Consequences are biblical as long as the consequences that are given do not themselves do not transgress God’s boundaries.
    A spouse is not a parent. It is not our responsibility to “make our spouses grow up” that was the responsibility of our spouse’ parents’. If we are sinned against, the biblical consequence is that we confront the person who sins against us (Matthew 18:15). If our spouse doesn’t repent after repeated attempts to go to them in a spirit of humility then the consequence is that they must face us and another person (Matthew 18:16). If they repeatedly refuse to meet with that other person or refuse to listen, then the consequence is that they will be brought before the church (Matthew 18:17). If they refuse to listen to the spiritual institution that God has ordained (the church) then the consequence is that they will be put out of the church (Matthew 18:17).

    But, in my opinion, we aren’t at liberty to make up consequences and we certainly aren’t at liberty to do what the bible tells us not to do, or to refuse to do what the bible tells us to do, and call it “consequences.”

    • Maria on December 30, 2016 at 11:33 am

      I agree that we should not go against the Bible and call that “consequences”. But there is another dangerous thing to do, and that is take away consequences from a person who is doing wrong. For example, when our spouse repeatedly sins against us, when we pretend that things are fine, we are not looking out for their good.

      • James on December 30, 2016 at 5:38 pm

        I don’t disagree with you in the least.

        We should absolutely not pretend that everything is ok when our spouses are sinning against us.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:56 pm


    • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      James I think you are too narrow when you say the only consequences you can give have to be spelled out in the Bible. For example, if my husband leaves his dirty clothes all around the house and that bothers me, I can share that with him and ask him to be neater and throw the clothes in the hamper. Or I can be forbearing and pick up all the clothes around the house and just “take care of him”, which might be treating him more like a child than an adult man. But it is NOT a biblical option to feel resentful towards him. But what if he refuses to pick up his clothes, despite my pleading? I can have a boundary. I can say – nicely, “I don’t do wash if it’s not in the hamper” I can communicate that boundary, and if he refuses to put his dirty clothes in the hamper a consequence is he has to do his own wash. That is not in the bible specifically, but the principle is.

      Secondly a consequence is natural result of whatever the choice of sin is. If I speed, the consequence might be I get a ticket. If I spend all my money, the consequence is that I don’t have enough to pay my bills and then other consequences result. Consistently the Bible speaks of relational consequences when there is repeated relational sin. The verses I put in the blog reflect these consequences, loss of fellowship, loss of trust. Your examples take unrelated actions and try to link them together.

      Also I agree with you that the concept of a boundary has been misused and misapplied, sometimes grievously but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have boundaries. It just means we need to help people understand what they are and are NOT. Just like salvation by grace has been seen as license to sin, and Paul corrected those misinterpretations and misapplications, but he didn’t negate the truth of salvation by grace alone. Stewardship of ones personhood, time, energy, talents, and money is a biblical teaching and having boundaries helps us steward our resources lovingly yet responsibly.

      • James on January 4, 2017 at 6:39 pm


        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I think I need to clarify what I meant in my last post. I don’t think that the only consequences that we can experience are the ones spelled out in the bible.

        I do think that:

        A) we should not be handing out consequences that are themselves a violation of God’s boundaries.
        For example, divorcing our spouse because they are a compulsive spender is not a biblical boundary. You are dealing with the financial unhealthy behavior of another by engaging in a spiritually unhealthy behavior toward God. Furthermore, this essentially elevating oneself above God, effectively saying, “my boundaries are more important than God’s boundaries.”

        B) I think we should endeavor to do what the bible says specifically about matters of personal offense before we even start thinking about enacting consequences based on our own judgment.

        It is absolutely true that God allows us to experience consequences. Yet I can find nowhere in the bible verses that you cited suggesting that we (as individuals) are to appoint ourselves as the mediators of consequences that arise from harm done to us personally.

        You posted a good number of verses talking about consequences. None of them tell those who feel as if they have been personally offended to hand out consequences to those who have harmed them personally.

        1 Cor 5:9 is about church discipline, therefore the church body is the one handing out consequences.
        Ephesians 5:11 is about fleeing unholiest, not giving out consequences and Romans 16:17 is about maintaining doctrinal purity by avoiding false teachers.
        (incidentally, you might consider that there is a fair amount of heterodoxy tolerated on this site).

        1 Corinthians 15:33 is about staying away from debaucherous unbelievers (see 1 Cor 15:34), 2 Thess 2:3 is really about the coming of the antichrist and refusing to listen to false reports.
        2 Peter 3:16 isn’t about the very modern concept of “crazy-making” whatsoever, it’s about intentionally misrepresenting the word of God.
        2 Tim 3:1-5 is a part of a larger section (1 Tim 3:1-9) in which Paul instructs Timothy that in the last times there will be debaucherous individuals who are enemies of the gospel who will lead others astray.
        Titus 3:10 is about the final stages of church discipline so like 1 Cor 15 this is corporate and 2 Timothy 4 is a warning to avoid men who publically opposed Paul’s preaching (meaning they are actively speaking against the gospel). Paul wasn’t concerned with being personally offended, he was concerned that his ability to preach the gospel was hampered.
        Your OT examples don’t speak of individual conflicts either. Numbers 14 is about God holding Israel accountable which we have no right to mimic because we stand condemned with those grumblers. Were it not for the grace of the gospel we wouldn’t enter our promised land either.
        Proverbs 19 says that wrathful people will suffer punishment, but by whom? Their spouse? Their friends? I doubt that this is what Solomon was getting at since Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath. It seems to me that our job given the proverbs is to heed them for ourselves, not use them to justify giving consequences to others.
        Proverbs 29:1 is about how someone who refuses to listen to reproof will bring his life to ruin, it has nothing to do with a spouse or a friend bringing them into ruin, that’s not our job, or at least it seems that way to me.
        Jeremiah 4, deals with God’s punishment, I don’t think you are suggesting we are to “punish” our spouses, friends and coworkers who transgress our boundaries like God punished Israel. That sounds like assuming authority we haven’t been given.

        Jeremiah 9, and 12 both deal with the corporate sins of an entire nation. Loss of relationship wasn’t the consequence, loss of their very home, country and promise land was the punishment as they were sent into Babylonian exile.

        All these verses teach us that our actions have consequences, of this you are 100% correct.

        They just don’t teach us that our job as the offended is to be the mediator of those consequences; they don’t teach us that it is our job to initiate consequences when we feel that we have been personally offended.

        In fact, they don’t appear to be speaking specifically to those who have been personally offended by a sibling, spouse, friend, etc… at all.
        But Matthew 6:15 does speak specifically to personal offense.
        So does Luke 6:28 and 17:3-4.
        Ephesian 4:32 does.
        Colossians 3:13-14 does.
        Romans 12:14, and Romans 17-20, all these verses do.
        There are lots of places where the Word of God SPECIFICALLY (not shouting just emphasizing) teaches us about how to handle situations in which we are personally offended but I can’t think of a single one of them that tell those who feel personally offended that it is their job to hand out consequences.

        Can you?

        • Connie on January 4, 2017 at 8:11 pm

          So it’s ok for the church body to deal out consequences, as in avoiding fellowship with an abuser, but the wife then has to stick with him and be isolated from the church too? Doesn’t that sound like a plan!

          • Robin on January 4, 2017 at 8:23 pm

            Jesus set his own boundaries, and so do we, to protect ourselves and our child from abuse, evil, and sin that will destroy lives!!!!

          • James on January 5, 2017 at 3:33 pm

            “So it’s ok for the church body to deal out consequences, as in avoiding fellowship with an abuser,”

            Yes, that is one of the responsibilities that Jesus left for the church to faithfully discharge.

            “but the wife then has to stick with him and be isolated from the church too?”

            I don’t remember saying that?

            What in my post led you to the conclusion that I am advocating for this?

            The plan that I am suggesting thus far is that (A) we interpret scripture in context and (B) that we walk in obedience to God’s revealed will before we begin to implement consequences based on non-biblical principles. That’s not to say that non-biblical principles are necessarily bad, we use them all the time. It is to say that we cannot ignore what scriptures says in order to implement non-biblical principles.

          • James on January 5, 2017 at 10:14 pm


            Of course Jesus set boundaries. They are recorded in the gospels. He set boundaries for the church as well.

            But Jesus didn’t do ANYTHING (emphasis not yelling) apart from the authority of His father.

            “So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (Joh 8:28 ESV)

            Not even the sinless Son of God acted on His own authority. Not even the only perfect human in all of history defined his own boundaries and devised his own consequences.

            Instead, He relied on the authority of His Father.

            And that’s really all I’m suggesting that we do.

            That we look first to the authority of God’s revealed word in the bible to define both our boundaries and our consequences.

            I’m curious as to why you would think I would be “off base” in suggesting that we allow the bible to be the final word when it comes to the issue of boundaries?

            Would you be willing to explain what precisely is off base with that suggestion?

            Because I’m more than a little confounded as to why that would be even the least bit controversial on a website where the bible is presumably considered divinely inspired.

          • Nancy on January 6, 2017 at 8:40 am

            Hi James,
            There is also the authority of the Holy Spirit. A subjective authority that cannot be commented on by an objective party.

        • Connie on January 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm

          Well, James, maybe if the church did what those verses say, and the past……I mean the priests and levites, would stop walking by on the other side of the road thinking, “He brought it on himself, he must have done something to provoke those ol’ thugs”, etc., then all these women wouldn’t need to set the boundaries and consequences and pull themselves up out of the ditch. That would be a relief. But until then…………

          • James on January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

            I’m not sure what this means.

            The church should absolutely faithfully discipline unrepentant men and women who are sinning against one another.

            What does the parable of the Good Samaritan have to do with the church executing discipline?

            If a woman is coming to the church and the church is turning her away, then shame on that church. She should find one that is willing to walk in obedience to the word.

            If they choose to stay in a church that isn’t willing, or worse, they aren’t going to church at all, then they are choosing to take matters into their own hands.

            And God will let them, but it won’t likely work out all that well in my opinion because God has no obligation to bless any plan that refuses to acknowledge what He has already revealed.

            In my own experience, couples in crisis come to the church last, not first. Usually the meeting with the pastor is the last meeting before divorce papers are delivered.

            The hardest scenario is when one spouse comes to Christ and has to live with an abusive, unbeliever.

          • Connie on January 5, 2017 at 7:54 pm

            Oh James, you are so wrong, so very wrong. Most of us have gone to the church first for help, and the church has done just what I said above. Left us to pull ourselves out of the ditch, or go to secular help. That is why we are here. We do not make this stuff up.

            And you totally do not understand boundaries. Your examples are not boundary examples. We’ve tried to explain, but either you’re not reading it or you don’t want to understand. Instead of trying to understand the principle, you keep picking on details out of context. Sorry.

          • James on January 5, 2017 at 10:46 pm

            “Oh James, you are so wrong, so very wrong. ”

            First, it is entirely possible that I am wrong, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, if you’d like tell me specifically where any of my explanations of the scriptures are in error, I will be more than happy to dialog with anyone about them.

            Unless you are saying that I am wrong because the bible is insufficient to deal with these matters; that we can’t fully trust God’s word in these situations and need to look outside of the bible to solve these kinds of problems in which case I must simply disagree.

            “Most of us have gone to the church first for help, and the church has done just what I said above.”

            So it would seem to me that one of two things is true when one person goes to the church and doesn’t find satisfaction, perhaps a little of both. Either the church is in the wrong in which case both parties should probably find a church that is willing to deal with matters of church discipline faithfully, or the church did deal with the situation but one or more parties didn’t agree with the counsel given.

            Once you take it upon yourself to “pull yourself out of the ditch” or “go to secular help” you are operating outside the way God designed for matters of sin between believers are supposed to be handled.

            And in those instances, it is what it is. I don’t condemn anyone for doing that. We all tell God, “its nice that you think I should do this, but I’m going to handle t is one my own way this time.”

            We all, from time to time, tell Jesus to move over and let us drive for awhile. When the car ends up in the ditch we then must admit that we probably should have let Jesus do the driving.

            “And you totally do not understand boundaries. Your examples are not boundary examples.”

            These are both examples or real situation where both parties claimed to be doing what they were doing on the basis of “boundaries.”

            As for my own understanding of boundaries. I’ve read and re-read many of the books that Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written. But who cares whether I understand boundaries or not?

            I do think that it is noteworthy that the very last chapter (as I recall) of Cloud and Townsend’s book, “Boundaries in Marriage” was entitled “misunderstanding boundaries in marriage.” And one of them give an example where a woman divorced her controlling husband who was repentant.

            If this woman had sought to make her boundaries and her consequences biblical, she wouldn’t have ripped apart a family, gutting her families emotional health.

            So perhaps, I am “wrong, so very wrong” in suggesting that we should all maybe read our bibles and set boundaries and consequences that can be supported biblically. If that makes me the unpopular guy on this one, then I’ll wear that unpopularity like a badge because I would rather stand with the word of God than be popular.

        • Teddi on January 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

          It’s not about “offense” it’s about getting out of an abusive situation that is crushing and trying to kill you spiritually or otherwise.

          • James on January 5, 2017 at 3:47 pm


            How could it not be about “offense?” Abuse is a pattern of offense. A chronic pattern of sinning against one’s spouse without repentance or remorse.

            If the situation is damaging you spiritually, then I can’t think of a better place to go than to the church to handle that situation.

            If you are being threatened physically, call the police.

          • Robin on January 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

            Teddi, call it whatever you want- offense, abuse, evil. God does not want you nor I to do nothing. We do have boundaries and there are natural consequences. The church is likely not the right place to go. They seldom have tools and training to know how to help an abusive family. God wants you to protect yourself from abuse being something we continually live with. Children suffer, wives suffer, and even the abuser suffers. I’m praying for you Teddi!!!!!

          • Robin on January 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm

            Teddi, you are right to have personal boundaries and natural consequences to an abusive spouse. It’s not a good source to go to the church as they rarely have tools and training to help those in destructive relationships. This blog is a safe place to get help.

    • Lori on January 8, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      James, I think for me personally, the problem I have in giving credibility to your position of disagreement with the scripture references Leslie has provided as basis for consequences to be applied by an individual towards another is the lack of suggestion you offer for a suffering individual or family. Perhaps if you care to weigh on a real life example of my choosing, it would help me to know what to believe about your current position. How would you counsel the spouse of an adulterer? How might your counsel change if the adulterer was known to lie and continued in their infidelity? How would you counsel the spouse of the adulter to relate sexually with the adulter? I appreciate in advance your response if you are willing to weigh in on this.

      • James on January 8, 2017 at 10:46 pm


        Thanks for the questions. I’d be happy to answer as well as I am able.

        First a clarification though. I don’t disagree with the scriptures Leslie posted in her original post. These are all fine scriptures. All scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching that we may be equipped for every good work. They are even fine scriptures to illustrate that our actions have consequences. My departure, perhaps, is that I disagree that they teach that we (as individuals) have the right to define boundaries and consequences without deference to the scriptures that give us principles to follow in many of those circumstances.

        So when a husband, for example, tells his wife that if she continues to overspend, he will divorce her. That’s not a biblical consequence, he doesn’t have the right to forsake his marriage vow because she has a spending problem. His “consequence” is an unbiblical consequence.

        Now I’ve heard some say, “he has the right to take away the credit cards, reduce her spending money, etc…” Maybe. But wouldn’t it be better to go to her, in grace (Galatians 6:1), and try and find out why she has this spending problem?

        Then if that doesn’t work, use the resources of the church to intervene and help (Matthew 18:16).

        Which would she see as a more loving approach?

        I’ll tip my hand, I think we are way to “trigger happy” when it comes to “consequences” and I think that the selfish nature of the human heart when wounded makes it very hard to unilaterally hand out consequences without being, at least marginally, vengeful.

        In short, I think I see consequences for sinful behavior to be appropriate quite a bit farther downstream than others and I think, when it comes to spousal relationships, that we should rarely determine them on our own; absent the counsel of wise and trusted church men and women who can help us to make sure we have purity of motive.

        So now to your questions. I would counsel the spouse of an adulterer first by asking the spouse who was sinned against how they would choose to handle their spouse’s sin. In the case of adultery, the marriage covenant is broken and the offended party is free to divorce per Matthew 19:9. Fidelity in marriage is a biblical “boundary” and divorce is a biblical “consequence” in this situation. If the offended spouse chooses to stay then I would counsel them to work toward genuine confession, repentance and restoration if their marriage. I would counsel the offended spouse to work toward resuming normal intimate relations after a definite period of prayer for the healing of the relationship (1 Cor 7:5). If the offending spouse isn’t willing to consent then I would counsel divorce. If the offended spouse just isn’t capable of that, then I’d counsel him or her to divorce the adulterer. That is his or her right and the offended spouse shouldn’t be pushed to stay together in that situation. If the offending party continues to engage in adultery I would probably counsel the offended spouse to divorce, again, because divorce is a biblical consequence in this situation.

        I hope I’ve been thorough enough without being too long winded.

  32. Robin on December 29, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    James. Your words sound legalistic. There are many ways a spouse can have consequences for her abusive husband. I completely honor the way you would do it, as stated above. But as Leslie and many other authors have helped us to see, there are many consequences needed to stop abuse. Please don’t think we all need to follow your one way. While I don’t disagree with those Scriptures, there are other ways I have chosen that are pleasing to Hod because they stop sin and therefore Re BIBICAL consequences.

    • Robin on December 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      I meant pleasing to God because they stop sin and therefore are BIBICAL consequences.

    • James on December 30, 2016 at 5:36 pm


      Thank you for your reply.
      I think that many here on this website have an erroneous view of what “legalism” really means. Holding to the authority of scripture as the last and most authoritative word on matters of faith and practice is not “legalism” its keeping sound doctrine.

      Legalism is one of three things:
      1) Claiming that salvation can be attained by the works of the law.
      2) Claiming that salvation must be kept by the works of the law.
      3) Elevating manmade rules as equal to or above the plain and main meaning of scripture (i.e. no dancing, no movies, no playing cards, etc…)

      The following excellent article is a good primer on what Legalism is and is not.

      The problem with relying upon one’s own intuition to devise “consequences” is threefold.

      One, it puts the person handing out the consequences in a one up position in the relationship. Parents hand out “consequences” for their recalcitrant children. This is perfectly acceptable because parents have authority over the behavior of their children. The consequence says, “you have broken my rules, and as the authority in your life I will now discipline you with consequences so that you learn not to engage in that behavior again.”
      We are not in a one up relationship with our spouse, so our spouse is not obligated to follow our rules simply because they are our rules.

      Second, inventing our own consequences can be returning evil for evil.
      Let me give you an example. A man in a sister church of ours got his hands on a Cloud and Townsend book on boundaries. His wife consistently overspent. He told her that since her elderly mother was living with them, if she overspent, her mother would have to move out because he could not afford to support the children, her and her mother.
      She did, and out went the mother. The mother now lives in squalor and is dependent upon the largess of the church for her basic needs until the husband deems that his wife’s spending problem is under control.

      Is that a biblical boundary?

      Not according to 1 Tim 5:8.

      His boundary may well manipulate his wife into better spending habits but the result is that his wife is now angry and bitter because the boundary was at least, if not more, evil than the behavior it was meant to deter.

      I see “boundaries” being the mask for “returning evil for evil” A LOT. Perhaps because the language of “boundaries” has entered the realm of pop psychology, perhaps because a right understanding of boundaries is so little understood despite the concept being so popular. For whatever reason, “boundaries” becomes the justification for engaging in manipulative behavior in the name of consequences and the results are that “returning evil for evil” becomes disguised in the garb of a principle of psychological health.

      Third, inventing our own consequences may not actually work. In one sense, handing out consequences may just embitter your spouse toward you as they grow to resent you for (1) claiming the moral high-ground when you might not actually have it, (2) putting yourself in a one up relationship to your spouse who you are supposed to treat as your equal and (3) consequences may be perceived by your spouse as you perpetuating what Emerson Eggerichs calls “The Crazy Cycle” where one spouse experiences the “consequence” as either unloving or disrespectful. Eventually, that spouse can quite caring about the “consequences.”

      Let me give you an example from a peer counselor.
      A frustrated wife laid down the law and told her husband that if he could not get home before 8:00 PM he would have to make his own dinner and he would have to sleep on the couch because she would not share a bed with someone who didn’t care enough to come home early enough to build relational intimacy with her.
      The husband’s job demanded that he work long hours and recent layoffs made the husband very concerned that if he didn’t work at least as late as his supervisor, he would be getting a pink slip. To keep his job to provide for his family, he chose the couch and the TV dinners over plunging his family into debt and the unemployment line. He got exactly what he chose, TV, dinners and the couch for 3 months.

      Eventually, he was so hurt at what he perceived as his wife’s punishing him for doing what was necessary to be a good provider that he stopped caring about the growing rift between he and his wife.

      That couple divorced two years later. He marks that decision as the catalyst.

      • Maria on December 31, 2016 at 9:49 am


        You give some good examples. But I wonder if there was more going on in their marriage. Why wouldn’t a wife support her husband in providing for the family? Did he consider the income he was earning his? Was he demanding when he came home instead of expressing gratitude to her for managing the family alone etc? Sounds like they weren’t a team.

        Like Leslie has said in the article, there is a time for mercy and grace. But continuing to pour out mercy and grace may not be for our spouse’s good. I think if we focus on the other person’s good, our motive will be pleasing to God.

        • James on January 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm

          These are all good questions that I cannot, unfortunately, answer as this wasn’t my counseling situation. It came from a sister church of ours and the elder’s of that church contacted me only because they thought the husband might start coming to church here.

          He didn’t.

          I understand where you are coming from but I happen to disagree that there comes a time in which we need to stop giving mercy and grace.

          That isn’t the way God treats us, His mercies are new every morning.

          There are times when that mercy and grace takes the shape of loving confrontation and accountability to be sure.

          This is one of the drawbacks I see with the Cloud and Townsend approach to solving marriage problems; it has the tendency to breed selfishness.

          For example, what would have been the problem with the wife sitting up and keeping her husband company while he heats up the microwave dinner?

          I get that the kids need to be in bed, but after they are in bed is it really too much to expect that she encourage his efforts to provide food, clothing, housing and medical insurance.

          I think that this could have been a time when her efforts to outdo him in showing honor (Romans 12:10) could have strengthened her marriage. But, at face value, it appears she was more focussed on her own needs than on his needs or her families needs. Though it is not popular to point out, women can be selfish in a marriage as well.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 6:59 pm

        See my earlier response but just because someone sets a crazy boundary or does so poorly or misapplies the concept doesn’t meant hat there isn’t truth and wisdom to the concepts. Sheesh, if we took that criteria we would toss out most Biblical principles and teaching because of twisting, misapplication of it, and abuse of it to serve one’s own selfish agenda.

        • James on January 4, 2017 at 6:44 pm

          I often hear Galatians 6:7 referred to during discussions about boundaries and consequences. I would like to get your thoughts on the following.

          It seems to me that we have all sown in the flesh. We all deserve to reap corruption. What Galatians 6:7 seems to mean in its context has less to do with having to wear dirty socks because we didn’t get them in the hamper and more to do with living in hardship with a view to toward the eternal blessings we will inherit when we live spirit filled lives.*

          So yes, if my wife speeds she may get a ticket, that doesn’t mean its my job to comment, is it? The state has the right to execute just consequences for violation of laws (1 Peter 2:13-14), but my wife and I have a different relationship. I am not the civil authority in her life, I am an agent of grace. Yes, if she consistently overspends her budget we will be in financial difficulty, that doesn’t give me an out on our marriage, or do you think it does?

          “ This quote came from the ESV Study bible and is a study note on Galatians 6:7: Gal. 6:7–8 whatever one sows, that will he also reap. In this context, Paul’s reference to “reaping” is a reference to the blessings of eternal life (rather than to temporal blessings) that the believer will “reap” as the result of “sowing” his life to the Spirit. As Paul argues elsewhere (2 Cor. 4:17), the believer’s expectation and experience in this life will be persecution and affliction, but “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (Cf. Jesus’ words in John 15:18–21; 16:33.) “

  33. Lmsdaily115 on December 29, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Content. I am praying for you tonight, my sweet sister. I can only imagine how scared you must be. But also, I see such hope and growth in you. Being able to hear and understand where the HS has brought you is fundamental. I agree, it may take those consequences and hard times to grow your husband up and bring him to God. But know you will still be a better, more mature snd godly person even if your marriage is not restored. God has the best up ahead. Now is the time to really trust Him and lay down the control and having to figure it all out. One day at a time. Prayers snd hugs to you, my friend.

  34. Lmsdaily115 on December 29, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Free. How long were you martied for and how long was it between understanding the marriage was dead and finally leaving? Did you feel you had a biblical Vadis yo leave? What were the repercussions on the kids. Mine are 13 and 14. I once told my counselor I can withstand anything (in the marriage). He said concentration camp survivors did the same thing, but it wasn’t healthy or good for them to do so. Touche’. I guess if he just up and left, filed or such, I would e okay with it now. 2 years ago when he asked for a divorce I said no. But I also began a journey of looking inward and taking the log out of my own eye. I just feel fuzzy on when to stop taking the blame and how to really set those needed boundaries and stop taking on blame I don’t own. He is so good at twisting things around that I always see where I made a mistake too.

    • Free on December 31, 2016 at 6:29 am

      LMS, I don’t know if comparing situations really helps anything. I like education of all forms and sought help in many forms, poured over scriptures and prayed. I got wiser about my husband’s problem and made some difficult choices. Leslie teaches about CORE. I had that in place at a very early stage before the term was coined.

      We are all uniquely gifted and valuable in God’s kingdom. This is your life and your journey. Step forward in faith. Focus on your needs and responsibilities. You are NOT the abuser.

      • Lori on December 31, 2016 at 1:08 pm

        Free, I am curious about what CORE is and how can I learn more about it? Thank you.

        • Free on December 31, 2016 at 8:10 pm

          Go to Leslie’s site. She can answer that question. Maybe you can get in on some of her teaching or coaching sessions.

          Help me out here bloggers.

          • Nancy on January 1, 2017 at 12:18 am

            Hi Lori,
            You can also look it up on You tube. Leslie has a great video that summarizes CORE. Read her book though, too. The emotionally destructive marriage.

  35. Lmsdaily115 on December 30, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I have been seeing a Christian counselor on and off for about a year. He wonders why I’m still in the marriage. But I feel the Holy Spirit is asking me to stay. It has been quite clear to me. Not sure why either, but who am I to second guess God?

    • Free on December 30, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Are sure the voice you think you are hearing is the Holy Spirit? Remember the attributes of the spirit? I would compare them and see if it is your mind or the spirit.

  36. Nancy on December 31, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Hi James,

    In your response to Robin, you’ve given great examples of people crossing the line while using ‘consequences’. There is a distinction to be made here, I think, between consequences and punishment. When someone crosses over from guarding their heart to returning evil for evil, they are no longer practicing boundaries ( they may use those words, but they are, as you say, manipulating etc…). I completely agree that a spouse should not be treating their spouse as a child.

    The point of boundaries is to guard our hearts. Against what? Bitterness, resentment etc…. So in the case of the woman who refused to wait for her husband to eat a meal with him when he worked late here’s my take on it.mWhere she went wrong is allowing his decision to continue to work late, to embitter her. Cloud and Townsrnd use this very example in their book ( minus the sleeping on the couch bit- not appropriate in my opinion) with the purpose that in going ahead and eating without him, the family would no longer feel hostage to his decision to work late. This would free her up to be a better, MORE loving wife, right? This works as long as HER heart has no underlying manipulation in it. The idea being “listen, waiting for you to eat is frustrating, so we’re going to go ahead and eat at 6 pm and continue with our evening. Your meal will be in the fridge. Otherwise, I’ll just continue to be angry each night. I hope you understand.” And whether he does ( understand) or not, she follows through.

    We ALWAYS need to take the log out of our own eye, first. She didn’t do that for sure. She had an agenda that crossed into controlling him. That’s not the purpose of boundaries.

    Boundaries guard our heart so we can love BETTER.

    Thanks for giving those examples, because it IS so easy to cross into manipulation and control. It IS easy to return evil for evil. It IS a fine line and one that we all need to be praying about.

    So yeah, these people are returning evil for evil under the guise of boundaries. Not cool.

    • Nancy on December 31, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Not that him working late was evil. I think you get my point.

    • Content on December 31, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      “The point of boundaries is to guard our hearts. Against what? Bitterness, resentment etc”

      That explains exactly where I came to as I made the decision to separate. I knew that if I stayed, I would start getting bitter and I wouldn’t actually be able to love my husband the way I need to. I wanted to be able to love him from a distance (through prayer, mostly, and putting him in God’s hands) and not continue to stay and be hurt over and over until a point where I started to get bitter and resentful.

      I had seen my mom stay and become bitter. It was a key factor in my decision to separate.

      • Nancy on January 1, 2017 at 12:14 am

        I like the way you put that, content, ” I knew that I wouldn’t be able to love him the way I needed to.”

        By separating, you are able to love him better. Your husband is blessed to have you in his spiritual corner!

      • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2017 at 11:02 pm

        Yes Content exactly. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is recognize our own limitations and love from a distance so that we don’t become embittered.

    • Mary on January 14, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Dear Nancy,
      Your reply to James on Dec. 31st was Spot on!! I so appreciated your explanation about what boundaries are all about: guarding our Own hearts! So, our boundaries have to do with Us, not with another person and what we want them to do or not do. It is about what we will and won’t accept into our hearts and what we need to do about things that potentially damage our heart; also, what we do once our hearts are damaged. For example: if someone yells at the top of thier lungs at us, we can make a boundary that we will leave if this action continues. This action doesn’t dictate what another person can or can’t do, but rather what we will do to guard ourselves if the bad behavior continues. This concept is still seeping into my consciousness. I often confuse boundaries and consequences, but they are different! I think I understand where James is coming from, but I think he is mixing these ideas up as well. Guarding our own hearts with boundaries is a responsibility God gives us; it is healthy. God has boundaries as well. He will only be in relationship with us once we have chosen to turn from our ways and walk in His (ie. repentance). Unitl then , He yearns for us, but doesn’t force us into relationship or into acting in certain ways. There are many consequences for the choice of Not repenting and walking in His ways. First and foremost being no relationship with Him! As well, someone would suffer all kinds of difficulties in life as a result of this choice.
      Now, we are Not God; truely, we are not all-knowing. But since the Holy Spirit now lives inside us and we are now one, as Jesus was one with God (amazing concept, yes?), we have His wisdom residing in us. We can access His mind, which is now in us as well, to make good-NOT vengeful-decisions. Truly, it takes a great deal of self-control and maturity to do so. But we all have the capacity to do so as we rely on God.
      I understand Jame’s reluctance to agree to doling out consequences based on the incredible selfishness of the average believer. I think it can only be done wisely as we rely on God to be our source-our everything. We can rely on Him to guide us, tell us when we made a wrong decision and how to rectify it, soften our hearts if we have hardened them against His ways… Therefore, we can make good decisions that bring the opportunity for others to also repent and walk in God’s ways. This IS walking in love and grace.

      • JoAnn on January 15, 2017 at 10:23 pm

        I really like what you said and I agree wholeheartedly.

      • Nancy on January 17, 2017 at 7:18 pm

        Thanks Mary, I like the way you said that guarding our hearts is a responsibility God gives us. Yes, I agree. When the Bible says, “Above all else…” we had better pay attention!

  37. Lmsdaily115 on December 31, 2016 at 9:12 am

    James. You bring up some very good points. The example about the dinner couch thing hit home deeply. I think both of the people in your examples had legitimate concerns and needed to lay down some boundaries. In fact, God often teaches us that this is part of loving ourselves…with respect and guarding our hearts…so we can love others AS ourselves. The problem is that it crosses over to the repay evil with evil when there is not any “speaking the truth in love” to go with it. In both those cases, there was a definite breakdown in trying to restore the relationships. The mother was defiantly not treated as a human to love and care for, and both the husband and wife in the dinner situation were not communicating or seeking to understand each other. Someone plays judge, jury and executioner and that is not our job…it is Gods. Both were so focused on their own hurt, they could not see how they were hurting the ones they are supposed to love, cherish, protect and understand. She could’ve sought to understand the motive behind her husbands long work hours and how he was trying to love and care for his family, had some appreciation for it, and he could’ve heard her heart message that she is feeling ignored, unloved, unimportant in his life and needs some quality time with him when he IS home. Then each could’ve understood the other with compassion and would be able to come closer instead of further away. He was at fault for not trying to undetstand her either. Husbands, love your wives, wives, respect your husbands. Both ignored that and sinned here. Which just shows how easily we all fall into sin. Daily. It shows how much we need to seek God’s guidance. Not to just use the Bible, but also listen to our own Holy Spirit who guides us each PERSONALLY on our own unique paths. Yes, we have the word of God, but the HS is alive and active. So many times people are trying to justify their own sin. They may compare it (what I did isn’t as bad as what he did) which doesn’t hold water because the punishment for a lie is death. The punishment for murder or rape us death. ALL sin is punishable by death in Gods eyes. Or they may twist their motives to make it seem innocent, misunderstood or something it may not. They may deny their sin and blame others in order to slip out from underneath the guilt and conviction and pain they feel by their sin. Or they live entirely imprisoned by their fickle emotions while the enemy plays on that and keeps them stuck on a roller coaster emotionally while they knee jerk react to every perceived offence and interpretation in order to protect their selfish self interests. All the while killing, stealing and destroying love, joy, faith, hope and trust.

    The desired goal in those examples were not bad. But I agree, the execution of them had a crucial missing piece…to restore the right relationship. Even God’s consequences are designed to do just that. To restore a right relationshio to Him, our Father. In Corinthians…Paul gives directions on how to deal with an unrepentant sinner in the church. But he also gives the command to welcome him back into the church when he has repented and not to hammer him over and over with guilt for his past sins. The whole goal is to restore the relationship.

    Hope this helps add to the understanding. Love the real life examples. Thank you.

    • James on January 5, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      “The desired goal in those examples were not bad. But I agree, the execution of them had a crucial missing piece…to restore the right relationship. Even God’s consequences are designed to do just that. To restore a right relationshio to Him, our Father.”

      Exactly, this is very well said.

  38. Connie on December 31, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I just want to say a little about the difference of using boundaries and returning evil for evil (or ‘disciplining’ one’s spouse). I had to read the Boundaries book and watch the lessons several times before I really started to understand that true boundaries and actually the more loving way to respond (rather than react) to abuse. If someone’s dog comes regularly and poops on my lawn and bites me, I could yell at, throw stones, or shoot it. That is returning evil for evil. Or, I could protect myself and build a fence (boundary). If a neighbour comes and takes things out of my house, I can begin to lock the doors when I’m gone. If he calls and yells names at me, I can hang up or not even answer. Those are peaceful and loving ways of responding to evil. It’s that simple. I call it setting myself and others free. I will not control them, nor will I allow them to control me. It is a letting go of expectations, saying,”This is where I am at, and if that doesn’t work for you, that’s ok, you are free to do what you do, I just can’t be a part of it.” It is being honest, finally, and obeying God rather than man. Some boundaries may seem hurtful, but they are not harmful. There is a huge difference. A boundary is like our skin, protecting what’s inside from harm. A healthy person actually has a lot of boundaries that they don’t even think about.

    I do understand, though, that it takes a lot of studying of God’s Word in an attitude of laying aside preconceived teachings, and a willingness to be teachable. It seems so much easier to just always give in and be a ‘peace-keeper’ instead of a ‘peace-maker’, but that enables entitlement and abuse.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you.

    • Content on January 1, 2017 at 2:40 am

      Good comment. I like the language of letting someone know they are free to make their own choices, but that “this is where I’m at” with regard to it – controlling your own self.

      This is an interesting blog post about Jesus having boundaries.

      Also, thinking about consequences or boundaries terminology. Someone brought up, I think, the term or idea of natural consequences. I think this is how I look at boundaries. For instance, one of our ongoing problems in our 24 year marriage was that my husband would get upset if I tried to share my hurt feelings. It didn’t matter how respectfully I did it – I worked on that for a long time. In the end, I realized he just could not handle my feelings (and I was not a nagger – there were two or three BIG things in our marriage that needed to be addressed). Basically, I would respectfully and calmly try to share my heart and he would somehow hear that I had called him a bad father (when I hadn’t) or just totally disregard my heart and what I was trying to say. He would blow up and verbally/emotionally abuse me and then walk out. I used to pursue him and try desperately to fix it all. I started realizing it wasn’t my place anymore to keep going to *him* over and over after he had stomped on my heart. My boundary became that if he was going to walk out and away in anger from a respectful, calm conversation, then I wasn’t going to pursue reconciliation and would leave it up to him.

      And, that’s why we’re separated today. An old issue came up, I told him how I was feeling, I was completely respectful. I even put my hand on his leg, kissed him on the lips, calmly and peacefully told him that I knew his heart wasn’t to hurt me, but that we needed to rebuild trust in our relationship. He unloaded on me and began to leave the room. I reminded him that I wasn’t going to pursue him (as I had discussed this before with him). He told me he was done “playing by my rules” (which were in place for only a few months) and that was that. I knew right then since I wasn’t pursuing him that he wasn’t going to come back to me to apologize or talk the issue through. And, he hasn’t. I asked for a separation days after.

      To me, those are both healthy boundaries and natural consequences of his ongoing choice in the way he handles conflict in our marriage that’s good for both of us (me deciding not to pursue him any more and also the boundary/consequence of separation after ongoing same problems with no commitment or desire on his part to want to work on it).

      I also had to cut all communication off about our relationship because he is not ready to face his ongoing lies or emotional abuse and rebuild trust and the only thing that talking about our relationship would do is bring me more hurt and harm at this time (him continuing to blame me and even telling me I’m fabricating lies about him). In that email communication, I told him in response to his saying that he loved me that we had different ideas of what love meant and that until he was ready to face his ongoing lies and emotional abuse, that I did not want to talk about our relationship. I told him that I understood that his version of love might be different than mine and that I could accept that if that was the case. By doing this, I gave him the freedom to have a different version of love than me, but let him know that I personally can’t live with his version as it stands any longer. (He is not a believer and has asked me to stop bringing God up to him in conversation so I am respecting his wish and trying to use language that is not Christian-based).

      I think it would be wrong to give a “consequence” or use language like that with pretty much any husband. But, the fact is….that all of our behavior has consequences. If you harm someone with your words, the other party can use language about consequences or not, but there WILL be consequences. In that sense, it’s when a wife stops pretending and stops peace-faking that she lets the natural consequences occur of the harmful behavior. Which totally goes with what God said to me (and I know I’ve said on this website many times already)….”Submit to where your husband is taking your marriage.” In other words, stop pretending and it’s ok for your reactions to his ongoing harmful behavior to show that you are hurt and distrusting of him and stop stepping in and doing his work for him (pursuing reconciliation when he should be and begging for apologies or show of concern for things he’s said and done to hurt you).

      • Connie on January 1, 2017 at 3:17 pm

        Thank you for the link on Jesus setting boundaries. I was thinking of that when I wrote the above, but thought it would take a few days’ research and way too much space here. 🙂 Besides, Cloud & Townsend already wrote about that for anyone who feels like reading their books.

        Another thing I like about the concept is that, “If I can’t trust your ‘No’ then I can’t trust your ‘Yes’.” If a friend says a straight, “No, I can’t do that today.”, then I know that when she says yes, she really wants to do it. Someone who always says yes, or feels she needs to make excuses and apologize (or won’t accept my no without excuses) for a no, isn’t a true friend and you wonder if her ‘yes’ is sincere.

        Content, I ran into the exact same thing with my h. We would talk in such frustrating circles and I realized that he was intentionally crazy-making as well as jealous of my time with the children, so he kept me from caring for them in the guise of ‘we need to talk’, for hours. I cried out to God, “What should I do?”, and He said to shut up.” It shocked me (and him), but many scriptures backed that up and I knew I had to stop taking the bait. It wasn’t done with evil intentions at all. He now says it was the beginning of the end, but it was not. Much evil preceded that and made it necessary.

      • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2017 at 11:08 pm

        Content – you are right, all of our actions have consequences whether we state them directly or not. There WILL be consequences whether we use that particular language or not, the fact remains that what is sowed is reaped. And if you sow dishonesty, disrespect, abuse, indifference, deceit and demeaning behavior in any relationship, the consequence is broken trust, a distancing of the person, a temptation towards anger and bitterness and a fracturing of the relationship. There is no way around the consequences. Just as if you sow irresponsibility in your job, you don’t reap a promotion.

        • Mary on January 14, 2017 at 8:50 pm

          Dear Content,
          Your story is So very similar to mine that I am stunned! Your perspective is just what I needed to be reminded of today. Thank you for sharing it all with us:)

    • Nancy on January 1, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Yes. Setting both parties free. I like that 🙂

      Another way to look at it is: what boundaries do I need to maintain in order to love this person the best that I can?

      I am responsible for my heart. I need to ensure it is healthy. Only I can decide ( with much guidance from The Lord) what compromises my heart. Even if, from another person’s objective perspective, my boundaries seem to not make sense, God knows me and the nuances of my relationship.

      Objectivity ( from another person) isn’t very helpful when you’re dealing with manipulation, gas lighting etc… Prayer, more prayer, Bible Study ( from an application to my life, perspective) and following The Lord’s leading is what has been helpful to me.

      It has been a very subjective journey.

  39. Robin on December 31, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Leslie has defined CORE in her book. She also has classes she teaches on building your CORE.
    To explain it more, I feel it’s what a woman needs after being in a destructive relationship. We learn how to keep our hearts guarded and pure by simple steps Leslie teaches. But even reading this blog will educate you on how to have a stronger core.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      We will be having an introduction to building CORE strength class in February. It’s crucial that women (and men) learn to build CORE strength and walk in that strength.

  40. Robin on December 31, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Building your CORE
    1. Committed to Truth and Reality
    2. Open to Growth, Instruction
    And Feedback
    3. Responsible for Myself and
    Respectful Toward Others
    Without Dishonoring myself
    4. Empathic and Compassionate
    Toward Others w/o Enabling
    People to continue to abuse or
    Disrespect Me.

    • Robin on December 31, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      These Core Strengths are laid out and explained well in Leslie’s book-
      The Emotionally Destructive

      But this is a process that each of us learns as we go towards wanting to be healthier, ourselves.

  41. Lmsdaily115 on January 1, 2017 at 1:23 am

    We all have that monster lurking inside us. You just finally saw it. We all have the capacity to hurt and be hurt too. This is where the grace of God and protecting your heart with God’s word can help you gain control of your emotions. You may never conquer it totally, but I have learned there are some times when we, especially don’t handle stress and control our reactions well. These 5 things can very much affect our ability to control: pain, tiredness, hormonal hunger and sickness. Realize you may not be able to “never” not react badly, but you already recognize the triggers and you do what you can to avoid tgem. I suspect sone fear in the padt, maybe a fear of the out of control dynamic you lived with before your dad went to rehab. That would be very scary to think about falling back into. Very understandable, but love conquers all fear.

    I think the trick is to look that monster in the eye and accept it’s existance. Only then can you be on guard against the true enemy…satan.

    Know the enemy so that you can defeat him.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Lmsdaily115 – exactly right. We all have the monster within. WHen my son was little, he used to say, “mom I have a good self inside and a bad self and sometimes the bad self wins.” That’s true for all of us. However the difference between healthy people or spiritually mature people and immature people is that we recognize when our bad self has gotten the best of us and we repent, we apologize, we make amend to those we have hurt and we work hard to change. Those who don’t acknowledge their bad self, or excuse it or deny it then cannot change.

  42. Robin on January 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    The comments on boundaries are excellent; thanks to those who shared. I think an important point is not to just look at what is loving him the best — but how am I taking responsibility for myself? It’s easy to lose ourselves and our value in a destructive relationship. I believe God holds us responsible to advocate safe personal boundaries so we are loving ourselves and not just tolerating sinful behaviors. But both are necessary – to love our spouses well so we choose what will be loving them to the highest we can and at the same time love and advocate for our value to stay intact.
    Remember the last part of building our Core- compassionate toward others without enabling them to continue to abuse or disrespect me.

    • Nancy on January 5, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Robin,
      I totally agree that we need to love ourselves. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think inherent in ‘loving him the best I can’, is a healthy heart- one free of bitterness and resentment. This is very different than tolerating sinful behaviour. If my first priority is ensuring that my heart is healthy then I will set appropriate boundaries in order to guard, and pass on the purest love that I can. And of course this will look very different for every relationship – with more guarding and perhaps distancing with untrustworthy individuals.

      • Robin on January 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm

        I agree Nancy. The whole idea of building up our Core is to prepare us more effectively to fight for our marriage healthily- or as Leslie often says, Leave well, not in bitterness. But all this takes much time. Of course we are wounded after living in a destructive relationship. I hope no one heaps on guilt for being wounded. Here on this site we learn how to survive the aftermath and take on healthyness.

        • Nancy on January 5, 2017 at 9:34 pm

          That is certainly why I come here. To, as you say, “learn how to take on healthiness”.

          Makes me think of Isaiah, my spirit of despair being traded for garments of praise!

          • Robin on January 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm

            Nancy, Love that Scripture. What a deal, trading our utter despair — for Praise.
            Thank you Jesus!

  43. Robin on January 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    In addition to ‘Boundaries’ Henry Cloud wrote another book
    ‘NECESSARY ENDINGS’. It’s all about when a destructive spouse keeps repeating over and over how he’s always behaved destructively-
    it is a sign of what your future will look like if you don’t change. He also lays out for us the difference between a evil man and one just difficult. It’s an excellent book and helped me greatly to be stronger in my decisions.

  44. JoAnn on January 1, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    James, I certainly get your point about inappropriate consequences. In both cases you mention, the consequences were wrongly designed. However, here in this blog, we are talking about consequences for self protection. When a husband is verbally abusing his wife, it is appropriate for her to refuse to listen and to have an effective exit strategy. Likewise for threats of physical harm. I agree with you in that the whole concept of “boundaries ” has often been misused and in the cases you described, in unrighteous ways.

  45. Robin on January 4, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Connie, no James is off base. Greatly.


  46. Robin on January 5, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    James, you are not the authority on this site. You think you have the answers because you refer to the Scriptures. You don’t have a clue .
    These women have been wounded enough. Please stop.

    • James on January 6, 2017 at 1:23 pm


      I don’t remember claiming to be the authority on this site. I’m simply doing what everyone else is doing. Sharing my perspective and asking questions.

      In my opinion, the scriptures absolutely are the authority at least they are for Christians. Non-Christians routinely turn to unscriptural sources to solve their problems.

      Jesus told those who were being sinned against how to handle the situation in Matthew 18:15-19.

      I am aware that you don’t agree that Jesus’s way of resolving conflict is the way we should still handle situations of sin in marriage but Matthew 18:15-19 aren’t my words, those are Jesus’ words. Jesus also said that heaven and earth would pass away but His words never will (Matthew 24:35). Consequently, I am suggesting that we allow our “boundaries” to be shaped by the word of God and that consequences that Jesus spoke of should be the consequences we follow when we are attempting to bring reconciliation in personal relationships.

      You disagree, that’s fine. Most people, even the ones who claim to be Christians consider the bible to be merely supplemental reading when it comes to solving life’s problems, but I just can’t go there.

      I do think you go too far when you claim that by encouraging others to pay closer attention to the bible I am “wounding” them.

      I would never, absolutely never apologize to anyone under any circumstances for suggesting that they take the bible more seriously.

      To suggest that obeying Christ and submitting to Jesus’ way of handling conflict is in some way “wounding” unnecessarily elevates the conversation to a personal level and makes an accusation against me that I think is unwarranted and unfair.

      I won’t hold that against you and I continue to pray for you and your children.

      Peace be with you.

      • Wonderfully made on January 10, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        James question:. 3 years ago I went through all the biblical steps. I followed Matt 18. First talking with my husband, Then taking it to my Pastor who tried to counsel us, my husband rejected the counselling, then we went to another counselor at a different church, who eventually recommend my husband be church disciplined, our Pastor and 2 deacons came to confront. Then it was brought to you he church, still no change, and then he was let go. All this over about a year’s time. Since my husband tried o
        To sue the church over their biblical boundaries and nothing has changed what options are left for a wife in my situation who doesn’t really want to leave? We are on our 4th counselor, everytime they confront him to change we’re done. I have run out of options.

  47. Lacey on January 6, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Posts like this make the inentert such a treasure trove

  48. Robin on January 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    James, I will not debate or argue with you. And yes you sound Authoritive. I believe in ALL Scripture being relevant. I believe in all Jesus words as being True. I also believe Jesus never would want a woman and her children to stay in a abusive, oppressive environment. You can think what you want, but I would encourage you strongly to consider which words you speak are healing and helpful for most on this blog. I don’t care for the way you apply Scripture to prove a point. I walked with a husband and other people in a legalistic church, and you sound just like them. Not helping to find solutions but judging if they don’t do it the way you think is right. I think Jesus referred to them as Phatisees and whitewashed tombs. This is a safe place to find healing and strength so the abuse victims can make healthier choices. Please don’t confuse them.

    • Robin on January 6, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      And telling bruised beatup abuse spouses to go to their church is not good advice. I have no angst with the church I just know most aren’t trained and don’t know what to do with an abusive man. Police only have you fill out a report . They don’t take action, until it’s too late and someone is hurt badly. If you’re going to speak on this blog I think you need more education on why Leslie started this blog. It’s not to judge or tell someone their doing it wrong. Many deceitful people preach the Scriptures to no effect. I hope you are not applying the Scriptures in a way that displeased the Lord.

      • Connie on January 6, 2017 at 9:58 pm

        Thanks, Robin. (I had a much longer reply but I’m tired of the crazy-making and will wait till it’s over – it’s a waste of my time, not to mention rude)

        • Robin on January 6, 2017 at 10:20 pm

          Nancy, I hear you when you say it’s a waste of your time. It makes me very angry when I see how men like James come onto this blog, what seems like to take our focus off of our healing which is our main priority– and adds confusion and sometimes doubt. I love this blog as I have seen testimony as I’m sure many have at the safe refuge it has become, and a place where much education and wisdom is dispensed.

        • Robin on January 7, 2017 at 11:05 pm

          Connie I think sometimes I confused names and left u out. I’m sorry.

      • James on January 7, 2017 at 1:12 am


        The only one who can help a person who is in danger of physical abuse is the local police authority. No therapist, church or online blogging community can grant a restraining order which is why I ALWAYS tell women (and sometimes men) that if they feel they are in physical danger that they should call the police.

    • James on January 7, 2017 at 1:09 am

      I’m not sure what you mean when you say that I sound authoritative. I ask questions, I make points, I cite scriptures and I draw from my own experiences. I would submit that this is pretty much what most are doing when they comment here. As I have said in the past, no one is obligated to consider my points or even to keep reading after they see my name as the author of a post.

      You and I happen to agree that Jesus’ words are true. You and I also happen to agree that all scripture is relevant. You and I happen to agree that Jesus does not want women, children or men to be subject to abusive relationships. There is a great deal upon which we agree.

      There are also some things we appear to disagree one and that’s ok. I don’t think that citing scriptures is wounding, Leslie did so in her answer and does so all the time. Others appropriate scripture to make their points on this blog, all the time. Perhaps you can understand how I might feel a little singled out as the one person who isn’t allowed to use scripture to make their points…?

      I realize that you think that the church isn’t the place to address issues of abuse. I disagree. I don’t think we can pretend that Jesus words’ in Matthew 18 don’t apply to situations of abuse. You aren’t obligated to agree with me. You are free to make whatever choices you feel are best for your own situation but, again, I’m not going to apologize for what Jesus said.

      You are free to be angry with me if you like but I will continue to post what I honestly believe until my voice is silenced by those who have the right to do so. I gently submit to you aren’t helping some people find their voice by telling others to be quiet.

  49. Nancy on January 6, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hi James,

    Here’s why, I THINK, you are receiving poor reception from some on this Blog.

    The Blog is set up to ask about personal experience, and the discussion is initiated by asking questions. The majority of us answer these questions from personal experience which involves vulnerability, soul searching, getting angry, and asking others their opinions on issues we are struggling with. From what I have read you tend to come with the vulnetabilities of others ( those you counsel). You have great examples, which, granted, are from your personal experience, however you have not ‘entered’ the conversation on an equal footing- in these cases you have not made yourself vulnerable. This can feel as though you have somehow set yourself above, and are sitting in judgment.

    Awareness of this inequality ( when you post about others and not your own personal struggle) might make a big difference in the language you use…? Just a thought.

    Also, as I posted earlier, the Bible is not our only authority. There’s also the Holy Spirit, which is a subjective authority in each of our lives.

    • Robin on January 6, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      Nancy, thank u for your recent post and using your voice to say what many would like to say. Well said indeed.

      • Nancy on January 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

        Thank you, Robin. Using my voice is new and scary. Your words are affirming 🙂

        • Robin on January 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          Nancy, re: your voice which is something new to me also…..I have a wall hanging that says– BE BOLD ENOUGH TO USE YOUR VOICE, BRAVE ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO YOUR OWN HEART AND STRONG ENOUGH TO LIVE THE LIFW YOUVE IMAGINED.
          Gaining our voice is truly a healthy habit after being in a destructive relationship. I’m praying for that voice to grow and grow for you and for me.

          • Nancy on January 7, 2017 at 5:22 pm

            It’s interesting to read your saying. Using my voice and listening to my heart (or gut) have been connected. The more I trust my gut, the more confidence I have to use my voice.

            Our voice is an important boundary that guards our heart. I lost my voice YEARS ago when I took on the role of care taking my mothers feelings. It was all about her. I continued that in my marriage which fed my H’s insecurities ( not to mention kept me a formless, shape-shifting, person!)

            Now that I am trusting my gut and using my voice, and guarding my heart for my Lord and King, I am not only discovering who I am, but who those around me are!

            Thank you for your prayers, Robin 🙂 So appreciated.

          • Nancy on January 8, 2017 at 8:25 am

            So… You want to hear something neat? I went to bed reading Beyond boundaries ( It has been on our shelves, my h bought it a while back and I thought I’d take a look, given this thread).

            Anyways, I land right in the chapter that talks about the difference between protective boundaries and defining boundaries! Wow. That was an answe to prayer because I feel as though my automatic response to everything is NO. Which is normal and has worked well ( but I also feel a bit like a two year old 🙂

            Anyways, it’s very cool because in my last post I had mentioned how I was a shape-shifting person. Now I understand that that comes from a lack of defining boundaries. So…I need to keep protective boundaries in place but these will not help me grow as a person. Working on defining boundaries, will. I think this will help me move out of the reaction phase… I don’t really get it yet, but thought I’d share 🙂

    • James on January 7, 2017 at 1:18 am


      Thanks for your reply.

      I believe that I’ve been vulnerable about my own experience with abuse, being abused as a child with two alcoholic parents and how I’ve dealt with that and some of my current struggles. I’ve also been vulnerable about my love for Christ, my love for His word and my appreciation for grace. I have said in the past that I think that many on this blog see the comment section as a place to engage in a form of online group therapy. I have said in previous threads that if that is the case then an open forum is really the worst possible arena. If the expectation of some posters is that everyone is coming to work through abuse situations, then Leslie should really close all comments and start an online forum where registration is closed to only those who are working through spousal abuse so that this forum can function like a support group. But that isn’t what Leslie has said she wants the comments section to be about.

      I don’t struggle with spousal abuse. My wife is a wonderful woman whom I adore. She is supportive, intelligent, wise and gracious and I am thankful that God brought us together therefore I don’t have any struggles to share regarding spousal abuse.

      Honestly though, I don’t think that the reason some are annoyed at my presence is because I am not sharing my struggles with spousal abuse (which I don’t have). I think the reason I receive the ire of some women on this blog is because I am (A) a man and (B) I am willing to express disagreement.

      Take it for what it’s worth but I have seen some ladies disagree with one another on this site and it can get a bit heated but it doesn’t arise to the level of unkindness that it does with me. I’m routinely the object of sarcasm and routinely mocked by a few posters. A select few have said cruel things directly to me and others have made gossipy statement about me in vague terms (which aren’t that hard to decipher). It’s not unusual for false accusations or vague name calling be lobbed in my direction by this select few.

      I attribute this behavior to what you have said above. “Hurt people, hurt people.” I don’t want to insinuate that this kind of behavior is universal or even the norm. I’ve had wonderful conversations with mature, emotionally healthy women on this site who happen to disagree with me and those conversations don’t descend to the level of sarcasm, insult or false accusation and I’ve appreciated their perspective even if I continue to disagree with them on some matters.

      So I cast the sarcasm, the insults, the gossip and the false accusations to the foot of the cross and move on because Psalm 19: says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

      I do want to answer your well stated point here.

      “Also, as I posted earlier, the Bible is not our only authority. There’s also the Holy Spirit, which is a subjective authority in each of our lives.”

      Yes, the Holy Spirit is an authority in our lives. I happen to see the Holy Spirit as the Author of the Bible and so the Bible is one way (I would probably argue the chief way) that the Holy Spirit speaks to believers. That’s not to say that the Holy Spirit of God doesn’t lead us in matters where the bible is silent. But I happen to believe that the Holy Spirit is not self-contradictory and so that Spirit will not lead someone to do something that is in conflict or contrast to what He has already revealed in His word which is why I can stand confidently with the many evangelical statements of faith that affirm that the bible is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of knowledge, faith and obedience.

      The problem with the subjective nature of the claim “the Holy Spirit is telling me to……” is that there is no way to confirm that this is truly the Holy Spirit rather than one’s own internal voice manifesting the voice of one’s own desire other than to bring said feelings to the scriptures to confirm that this is truly God’s will.

      Thank you for your irenic post.

      • Nancy on January 7, 2017 at 9:47 am

        Hi James,

        Yes, the purpose of my post was indeed irenic (I had to look this up. For those like me, who don’t know, it means “aimed at peace”).

        Well, I suppose it was worth a try!

        Time now, to get back to my own heart, and healing 🙂

  50. Robin on January 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Good good thoughts Nancy. Us women can get so caught up in wanting to love and serve our families – we do lose ourselves and our voices and then we plummet down and lose any good influence we had. The last year, since my divorce it took me quite awhile before I realized I got to have a voice, and believe it or not. that I really mattered. It’s been a long year of finding myself. And regaining that confidence in the HS leading me faithfully. I lived 30 years being knocked down every single day, and I walked out of that relationship saying, Just who is Robin anyway? I’m so happy to share today I have a voice, I have a meaningful purpose dad life, and yes my life does matter. Jesus did amazing work in me, one day at a time.

  51. JoAnn on January 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    That’s very encouraging, Robin, that others are getting to know the core you. Way to go!

    • JoAnn on January 7, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Actually, I intended that comment to both Robin and Nancy: “I am not only discovering who I am, but others around me are.” I like that you can say that. That we all can say that, as we heal.

      • Connie on January 7, 2017 at 8:20 pm

        Exactly. And boundaries are very simply that: the God-given freedom to say yes or no to whatever affects us and our loved ones. Our freedom and safety. To know who we are and to celebrate that and not fear man nor allow anyone to take that from us. Like you say, it’s the only way we can know the truth of and honour those around us. How awesome is that!?

        • Robin on January 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

          Beautifully said Connie. Not only are we given a God given freedom but also a God given responsibility to advocate for ourselves and protection for our children. This is a wonderful gift in comparison to what we’ve been told in our churches. Hopefully the church will get the training they need to help more spouses and children who have suffered – Abuse.

  52. Robin on January 7, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Amen, Joanne and Nancy. This is the beauty of this blog.

  53. Starlight on January 8, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Jesus did guard himself from evil too – he exposed , amd spoke boldly ahainst it, he did not entrust himself to men because he knew what was in their hearts. He submitted to the father’s will in the fullness of time but all the other times he slipped through the crowds because his time had not yet come. Jesus had an advantage over us because he could see the evil that was in a man’s heart and knew their thoughts. He knew when someone was seeking truth and salvation and when someone came to trap him and put him on the spot. He often spoke to the Pharisees and others addressing and answering their thoughts, not even their expressed words.
    I think the focus through God’s word is the condition of the heart and the desire, longing and pursuit of God! God loves us and pursues us and loves a pure heart! God sees how many women have been pure in heart and only wanted to do what is right before God and have been totally destroyed and bowled over and have endured as door mats by evil men in their own homes in front of their children – out of a desire to do what is right before God, not knowing that God desired to see them freed from their prisons of abuse!
    As an abused woman who has escaped from a very evil man (a con artist) who tricked and lied and cheated through the whole relationship and is now still using the legal system to pursue his agenda.
    I really appreciate how Leslie has instructed us on how it is biblical to remove ourselves from evil, show us how to use our God given voices to expose evil and protect and to remove those we love from unbridled evil and destruction.
    When Leslie posts the blog questions and answers the spirit inside of me affirms the godly truth she brings to us and the manner in which she outlines it.
    I am so thankful for her wisdom and all of the verses she posted above and the examples she outlines that resonate with truth and are so helpful! I think most of the women reading this blog found them very affirming, helpful and they help us discern whether we should hang in there and have hope or see that it truly is biblical to protect ourselves or to separate ourselves from evil that an abuser continues to demonstrate and the chaos and confusion he continues to create. It is biblical to have nothing to do with someone who calls himself a Christian brother but demonstrates the fruit of evil in their lives.
    Leslie is helping us to put our feet on firm ground and tell us it us ok to regain our voices and trust the senses we have of the evil being done to us, learn to trust our own thoughts and feelings again and to do what we can do to heal and regain sanity in our lives.

  54. Robin on January 8, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Starlight thanks for sharing your heart and experience and reminding us of Scriptures that reveal Gods heart in abuse victims being released from evil . I’m sure everyone of us agree how grateful we are for Leslies leadership to lead us out of oppression.

  55. Lmsdaily115 on January 8, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hi James, I’m not quite sure what is going on during posts on this site about you. Maybe I’m missing something. Even though I, too, am in a difficult marriage, and I wonder if it falls into an abusive situation or not, I realize I am still accountable for my own actions as well. I am going to attempt to clarify your meaning, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here.

    It seems you are reasonably saying that when we need to lay down boundaries with another person, that’s ok, but to make sure they are not sinful on their own. Kind of a “2 wrongs don’t make a right” situation. Then you back it up with scripture. I agree with you wholeheartedly here. It seems some women are feeling you are responding in a way that feels very legalistic. I don’t feel that way from your comments, but others may. I am sure there are many different levels of growth, wisdom, stages and understanding on this site. Your comments may be helpful to some, but hard to digest with others.

    Ladies, I don’t really think James is “wrong” in what he says, maybe just “different”. Different is not bad, just different. Many skills in communication involve “listening to understand” just as much as “speaking to be understood”. Instead of verbally trying to kick James off of this site, it seems it would be a more godly thing to glean what is helpful or gives another perspective from anyone’s comments, and let go of the rest. Maybe each person is NOT at a point where they can see James’ points of view…that’s ok. But then let it go, maybe God spears to you fifferently. It seems he gets bashed because he is male???? Not cool.

    James, my suggestion would be to keep it simple. Sometimes too much is just more to pick apart. Ladies, I can totally accept that we have been living lives that feel oppressed and wrong, now we are learning to break free from that prison and God rain hell fire on anyone who gets in the way. But, like a pendulum, we can very easily swing too far in the opposite direction that we were at. The goal is to balance out in the middle. And not to sin, ourselves, in the process.

    God not only wants to teach us to not be sinful to others, but to also not allow sin to be done to ourselves. The log in the eye scripture passage helps us look inward, but we can also take that too far and start taking on sin that isn’t ours to carry. That’s where boundaries help. They define what we are responsible for and also what we are not. Remember, God is the final judge, jury and executioner, not us. It is not our job to accuse, judge, or deliver justice…even if we have been sinned against. We are shown in Corinthians how to deal with sin, but even then, the gial is to restore a right relationship, not shun and cast out forever. The choice falls back upon the sinner, once the sin has been addressed. We are all so blessed to live in a day where the Holy Spirit is within each one of us and we can personally customize our lives in God’s design for each of us. The bible is our book of God’s words teaching us “how” to travel in a dark world. Listening to understand the bible…..part of God’s communication with us.

    Much love to all. I hope my comments can be taken with the love and prayers I have you all here. I pray for healing and God’s wisdom to befall you.

    • Connie on January 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      It really has nothing at all to do with James being a man. Or with his being too hard to understand. And ‘backing it up with scripture’ doesn’t always make things final. Many people have used scripture to beat us up with, or to start cults and ‘off’ denominations, and that is why we’ve had to learn to cry out to God for discernment. Spiritual things are spiritually understood. Knowledge puffs up, but grace edifies. “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” I’m not necessarily saying that’s what he did, just that it can happen. I won’t repeat the reasons that we are not happy with much of what he has written because it’s all been said already, and if I say it again it will likely be twisted up……again…….to make it look as if I said what I didn’t say.

    • James on January 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      “James, my suggestion would be to keep it simple. Sometimes too much is just more to pick apart. ”

      Sound advice, well delivered.

      Thank you.

      • Patty on January 19, 2017 at 10:58 am

        I really like your comments.
        And yes I have been in an abusive marriage. (25 years).
        Please don’t let some of the ladies run you off.
        It is refreshing to hear the word.
        It is living and powerful.
        I personally see no judgement coming from you.
        Thank you,

  56. Robin on January 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Nancy, defying your own self by setting boundaries is something I wonder how many years will I be doing this?? Not only did I have an abusive marriage but also a childhood where no one was allowed to have boundaries. But everyday I define who I am by a boundary, I stand tall and feel like I am taking responsibility for myself. It truly is a great feeling !!! Glad you are seeing this too!!!!

    • Robin on January 8, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Defining not defying

  57. JoAnn on January 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    LSM, I appreciate your balanced perspective. Well said.

    • JoAnn on January 8, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Sorry, I meant LMS.

  58. Starlight on January 9, 2017 at 1:09 am

    James, you said ”
    I have said in previous threads that if that is the case then an open forum is really the worst possible arena. If the expectation of some posters is that everyone is coming to work through abuse situations, then Leslie should really close all comments and start an online forum where registration is closed to only those who are working through spousal abuse so that this forum can function like a support group.”
    There us a group like that hosted by Leslie, it is called Conquer and I think she had another one for pastors and counsellors called Equip.

  59. Lmsdaily115 on January 9, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Robin, it’s great to see you finding a new nugget of wisdom that is speaking to you. I will have to look into that book too. I love how you could recognize how saying “no” was a helpful boundary, but that you felt a bit like a 2 year old. You knew you needed to figure out how to grow and mature, while developing healthy boundaries. I feel much the same way. Thank you for your openness and book suggestion. Love and blessing to you.

  60. Lmsdaily115 on January 9, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I’m sorry, that last comment was for Nancy, not Robin. My bad getting names mixed up. Love to you all.

    • Nancy on January 9, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks Lmsdaily. I just love how The Lord answers prayers in so many ways.

      I hadn’t dared open the “Beyond Boundaries” book because I had so much to learn from the original Boundaries book. But His timing is perfect. I opened it to a place where I needed – and was ready – for growth.

  61. Robin on January 14, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Nancy, I agree your answer to define boundaries was excellently spoken. Thank you. I found myself quite irritated when others spoke that we’re speaking against negative consequences. As Leslie showed us this week in Scripture negative consequences were used to protect us from sin. One person in particular kept after saying women shouldn’t have negative consequences as it puts them above their spouse. I strongly disagree. Our motive is not to put ourselves above our spouse and be judgemental. Our motive is to stop that spouse who is destructive, from further wounding the family. We have to be so careful when we listen to others, that they aren’t misleading us……….

    • Connie on January 15, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Have you noticed how the understanding of boundaries causes us to be so much freer and stronger? I find it frees me up to be far more genuinely loving than before. Does that not give you a clue as to why some people can’t stand boundaries? Fear and insecurity makes those who want to be ‘leaders’ be able to tell us our oughts and obligations, and to control as many aspects of our lives as possible. Don’t you think that Sapphira should have set a boundary? Abigail did, or she would have ended up like Sapphira.

  62. JoAnn on January 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree and support what you have said so eloquently.

    • Robin on January 15, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      As I read the different responses on the blog, I smile as I get to see my growth. Remembering when I was so deceived by my destructive spouse and feel into his trap many a time. This week at my home I had to set some glue traps to catch mice. It was such a picture of what I have walked thru. There was this tiny little mouse stuck on the glue trap trying to wiggle her way off ferociously but could not. She seemed like she was doing everything she could to escape
      It made me sad as it seemed cruel to destroy a little mouse in a way that it suffered so much. It made me think about many of us . On this blog. We would do anything to escape the deceit and the evil cruel traps he sets for us. And it’s such a struggle to see clearly that the husband would keep setting those traps………and we can be so blind to it. Someone asked me the other day if I gave my husband empathy- I do feel empathy but I do not share that with him. He is exactly where God can work in and with him. But so many of us when we get to this place want to give him empathy and our belief in him. Only God can release the trap for him as he surrenders.

  63. Robin on January 15, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks Joanne, ive been thru so much with abuse, and have survived!!! I’m on my own now, and my life is filled with peace I’ve never known.

  64. Starlight on January 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    So wise, Robin, you speak truth. Yes, they keep setting traps and enjoy watching us wriggle, we dare not say or acknowledge that they are deliberate in what they are doing.

  65. […] my previous blog Is it Biblical to implement negative consequences, I gave plenty of Biblical examples of relationships ending because of unrepentant […]

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