Thank you for your prayers. I am feeling them. There is still time to register for our CONQUER conference coming soon, next month. We have close to 400 women registered from all over the US and Canada. It will be an amazing time of seeing how important it is that women, Christian women, learn to be strong, courageous, brave, and sometimes a bit gutsy.
Traditionally the model for the good Christian woman has been to be soft, gentle, submissive, loving, compassionate, and humble. While I would never negate those attributes, I think we need to add a few more qualities to our repertoire in order to become whole and more like Christ.
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Next week I’m going to blog more about my thoughts on that very subject.
Today’s question is how much power do we give another person to make a decision for us? Whether it is our spouse, our mother, or our pastor. Please do not misunderstand me. Submission is an important discipline in the Christian life and all believers are called to practice it, not just women. However, does that always mean that women never oppose someone who thinks they know better regarding what’s best for her and her children? Let’s talk about that this week.
Question: Two years ago, after 6 years of trying to be a “good, submissive, obedient” Christian wife, I realized that my efforts were only making things worse in our family as my husband got increasingly controlling and scary.
I started setting boundaries to protect myself and the kids from inappropriate behavior, and the situation continued to escalate with increasing demands, control, rage, and physically threatening behavior until I filed a restraining order, and he was removed from our home (a year and a half ago).
He has been seeing a counselor for about 6 months and keeps telling me that he is making changes and accuses me of not seeing them. The changes he is making seem very external (not yelling, giving gifts, etc.), but he continues to display all his old tactics of control (blame-shifting, accusations, appealing to authority, wanting me to “believe the best” about him, etc.). Based on what I see and what I've learned about people with narcissistic personality disorder (which I am quite convinced he has), he is extremely unlikely to ever be someone that I could have a healthy relationship with.
I felt that I could justify, even, that he'd ended our marriage long ago by breaking his vows to love and cherish, and so I'd decided to legally declare the marriage over by filing for divorce. However, when I told my pastor, he stated that to divorce him would be going against God's will because divorce is only allowed for reasons of adultery (specifically defined as sexual relations with someone other than your spouse) and if my very life is in danger (i.e. if I've been hospitalized because of him, and the doctors thought I was going to die).
Neither of those things has happened. My pastor said that separation is acceptable, but divorce is not. I don't believe that my husband will file for divorce because his NPD would not allow for a failure like that and, additionally, it would be letting go of what little control of me he has left.
Am I to continue to stay legally married in a situation like this? I want to live for God and not for myself, but I'm having trouble knowing what God really says about this.
Answer: I’m so sad for all you’ve been through. I think your gut is right in that your husband’s entitlement attitude hasn’t changed, especially since he is accusing you of not appreciating all his “changes.” If his heart had repented, he’d be more humble, patient and grateful that you were even willing to wait to see if he could prove that he had changed (Luke 3:8). That said, your question is about what your pastor has told you.
First, I believe your pastor probably has the best of intentions. He wants to be true to how he sees Biblical teaching on marriage and divorce and some church leaders, theologians and teachers agree with his point of view. However, it’s also important for you to be informed: many conservative Biblical pastors, teachers, and scholars do not share his perspective.
And, I also think it is very unrealistic and unreasonable for your pastor to tell you that separation is Biblically acceptable whereas divorce is not. What that says is that you don’t have to live with your spouse or have sex with your spouse but that you have no legal protection against other kinds of abuse.
Separation in most States leaves you vulnerable to be financially abused and controlled. There are no clear guidelines on visitation or child support unless your State has a “legal separation document.” With this advice, what your pastor is advising you to do is to stay in legal limbo land where you are exceedingly vulnerable to continued abuse. I don’t think God asks a woman to enable her spouse to continue to abuse her without protest or legal consequences. That’s not Biblical love.
In saying this, I don’t think most pastors think through the implications of their advice. If they truly did, then I would expect these pastors who tell a woman she is not Biblically permitted to divorce to also stand behind their strong convictions. For example, if they believe no divorce, then as a church body they would reassure her, “We will be your safety net. No worries. If he drains all of your assets or refuses to pay child support or racks up a huge debt that you are partially responsible for, we will fill in the gap. We will not abandon you financially if we ask you not to divorce.” I have never heard of a church that has these strong convictions, to back a woman financially long term. She’s supposed to just “Trust God.”
Sadly the church wants to tie your legal hands but then offers no other protection or financial support if your spouse should choose to spend his retirement savings or rack up huge credit card debt or refuse to pay child support. That’s why God has implemented the civil law to protect the “innocent” from evildoers.
Therefore, it’s your job to do your homework Biblically to determine what you think the Scriptures are teaching you. It’s easy to ask a number of people – your pastor, me, other “experts” in the field what you should do but ultimately you are responsible for you and for the decisions you make. And you and your children are the ones who have to live with the consequences of your decision.
I’m not going to tell you what to do. I will say that there are compelling reasons with Biblical support to not stay in legal limbo land (Tweet That).
Some good books on this topic that present another point of view are Not Under Bondage by Barbara Roberts and Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities by David Instone Brewer.
So take some time to think for yourself. Of course consult with wise others from all different perspectives and then most of all, pray, pray, pray. God promises, “I will instruct you and guide you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8.
Friend, how did you make this tough decision Biblically? Especially if it went against your traditional church or pastoral teaching?
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Finding Comfort In God
Hi Friends, When you read this I hope I am on a boat for on a much-needed vacation. This has been a crazy season of pouring out and as Jesus did, I need to stop and get away to a quiet place. I don’t think I have ever felt more exhausted mentally, spiritually, and physically….
I Need Him To Care And Be Honest. What Do I Do?
Morning friends, Psalm 37:34 says, “Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.” I love that. Do the next right thing and hope in God, not what God will do. So often we pin our hope on the outcome of what God will do, but he never promises us a perfect outcome….
In the parking lot of the lawyer’s office I asked God to show me if I was doing the right thing. I opened his word and my eyes feel immediately upon Jeremiah 15. In it God said “send them away from my presence let them go and if they ask you where shall we go tell them this is what the Lord says…”
Later in that same chapter God talks of a mother of 7. This was confirmation since my husband was the last of seven children. That the Lord should bring me to this chapter at this moment it was undeniable.
I was troubleed about divorce in my spirit. My solution was legal separation. You have the protection of the legal system. My spouse was keeping my kids from me and my attorney was able to force counseling and therefore brought my children back to me. He finally responded by divorce which freed me. I had to take that step though or I would have been completely abandoned and left with nothing. Thankfully my church has a ministry called Divorce Care which helps men and women heal .
That’s the same way I feel. I think legal separation could be alright. I have an aunt who’s been separated for about 15 years now.
I am legally separated in MN and it does not protect from financial liability. I’m not sure about other states, but in MN, if something happens to my husband, they will spend down my assets even though we are legally separated. So, while it’s good to have custody, visitation, and alimony defined in a legal document, it does not protect me financially if he makes unwise choices or if he experiences a debilitating medical condition. It also does not address the ongoing feeling of ‘limbo’ when there is no hope of reconciling.
This sounds a lot like my story, only I’m going on 7 years, we are still together, and 2 of my 3 children are mine from previously. Thanks, Leslie, for your words. You’re right. It is our ultimate decision. I pray all the pray for God’s direction. I’m still waiting, wondering if I’m missing it. I pray for eyes to see and a heart to feel again.
The point I’m at right now is I wish he would just leave me alone. Go away. I don’t have the financial means to do or go anywhere. I wondered this morning, is there such a thing as in-house separation? Ultimately, what good would that really do? My home is a house divided.????
My pastor husband of 34 years was served divorce papers a few days ago. I prayed, served, repented, and followed the path of peace each step of the way. I face blame and judgment from him, my adult children, and people we ministered to.
They simply don’t know about the abuse, blaming, rape, pornography, negativity and narcissism. That’s ok…I will stand before God, my judge AND my defender. I lean on Him daily.
Angela, perhaps they are effectively victims of his abuse as well if you do not tell them of how he abused you? If they are adults they should know that part of his persona.
Think about it prayerfully…
I am so sorry that you were sinned against in such an awful fashion. I pray that God will grant you healing.
Angela.. I am divorcing Pastor husband as well for the same reason. He’s a narcissist, abusive and controlling with me while Mr Wonderful with all others
It’s so hard Angela when you don’t want to tell the ugly truth, but on the other hand your abuser is spreading wicked lies. Trust God. David struggled with the same thing and it’s a tough journey to navigate.
Be wary of telling anyone anything. It can further isolate you and likely these men have already laid the groundwork to make it look like you are the crazy one. The common wisdom of ‘bringing light to the darkness’ backfired on me every time – and caused further hurt and damage.
Feeling led strongly to pray for you. My inly advice is to seek out council from a minister/councelor at another church, maybe even another town. This is what im doing now. Finding someone that i could talk to descetely has changed my life. Praying for Gods guidance for you.
As a child I was baptized, educated, confirmed and as a adult married in the traditional Roman Catholic faith. I was indoctrinated with a certain rigid thinking so at first I felt trapped. I knew I faced a tough decision of divorce from a personal view which was based on a strict Biblical principles,the result was feeling immobile. Fortunately despite my own rigid feeling about adhering to what I’d been introduced to Biblically, as inflexible, the two pastors and one retired priest I met with for help immediately recommended I seek divorce for both my own and my childrens wellbeing. This came following a presentation of taped recording that fully exposed the emotionally debilitating state of affairs that I faced. I was advised of safety plans and was introduced to measure that I could take for my health and safety. I will admit this was back in 2001 and not until 2009 did I make my final moves. In the interim years I did seek abuse counseling, sought pastorial counseling and constantly read Christian books that dealt with all the issues I faced. Stubbornly, I didn’t want to divorce but wanted my will done. Sadly challenging God’s revelations despite knowing no one should continue entertaining a marriage that was injurious to all involved, I share now I was wrong. Sinfully I resisted the admonitions from the clergy about what could happen if I didn’t protect myself. Humbly I share it did all come to the surface as true. Parental alienation formed,verbal abuse continued and escalated, financial abuse exacerbated the situation, along with an increased chance for physical harm. I admit it was all dealt with foolishly as I remained married and tried to change my husband. The physical harm came not only from the threats from my ex but from my own debilitated state including suicidal ideations. It took eight long, lonely, mentally unstable years to finally make my move. I put myself in danger by pushing my will far too long until one day after being angrily toldby him ” If it wasn’t for God I’d kill you right now.” God had me where He wanted me then and now. At that point I made a move to separate but not with the best plan in place. We lived in the same house for many months afterwards because I kept listening to and falling prey to my exes control. I am sharing this because had I listened from the start I could have achieved all the breakthroughs I thank God for leading me to without the amount of stress I did live through. I was depending on my will not God’s and honestly it could have been my demise triggered by a multitude of factors. Friends, God is your best friend! LISTEN! A lovely song by Helen H. Lemmel says it all:
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
And to this and a God directed divorce I say AMEN!
I did not want to divorce my husband, but seperation is not recognized where I live by the state. My husband threatened financial destruction, therefore I had to file for divorce for legal protection. I was not prepared for the pain in my soul of the backlash of lies that my husband told his family, friends, and our pastor. I must continually stay close to God to heal my heart and comfort me. God sees YOU and HE knows the truth. That is all that matters. Leslie has stated many times that God values you more than your marriage. My prayers are with you.
I think many women are unprepared for how ugly a divorce can get. That’s why it’s important to take the time to understand all the costs of staying and leaving before you make that choice. Some people will pressure you one way, others will pressure you another way. Ultimately there is NO good choice, so you have to pick the one you think is the lesser of two evils. My heart goes out to all of you in this place.
Leslie, you are so right. Many people are not prepared by what they will face when going through divorce. “Standard” divorces are tough enough, but when you throw in that you are divorcing a Pastor, or a narcissist, or someone who has been abusing you (or all three in my case), it is so much harder! I did it nearly 7 years ago. The marriage wasn’t good and neither was the divorce (or road since then). But, you are right, Leslie, those facing this decision need to pick the lesser of the two evils. Before deciding, I’d encourage you all to educate yourself and find out as much as you can – talk to those who’ve experienced it, seek the help of a reputable lawyer, find out what counseling resources are available to you (either privately through your insurance or through self help groups like Divorce Care).
I have been divorced for 14 months now, after 30 years of marriage. It took me many years to accept that I could not change or cure the alcoholism or sexual addiction, or the NPD. It has been a painful process, and I too have been lied about to many friends and family. I read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and saw myself there–such a reality check for someone who was in denial for so long! DivorceCare was enormously helpful. And I finally have my serenity and peace back! Lonely road, yes, but the Lord will never leave or forsake me!
Leslie, Although I am legally married, I believe divorce is permitted when one spouse is abusive and refuses to repent. I love how you say that if the church does not believe in divorce, they should make a commitment to support the abused spouse. I have thought about this many times, but have never been able to articulate it well. Thanks.
Thanks Maria, yes I’ve always been puzzled by churches or individuals with STRONG convictions on certain topics yet when it comes to actually living them out financially, somehow they aren’t as strong. I’ve experienced some of that personally from church leaders, for example who had strong convictions that a woman should not counsel a man or a married couple. Yet when I was working in a Christian agency for a director who held those convictions, somehow he “bent” them when people demanded that they be put on my waiting list for counseling, whether they were male or female. Of course he would suffer financially if they chose to go elsewhere.
I listened to my pastor ( who btw betrayed my confidence & told my husband I was seeing an attorney) that I should forgive & give him a chance. Long story but, I wish I had listened to God- not man!! I believe God hates divorce ( from Malachi) refers to the hardness of a mans heart that cases divorce. I have been out of marriage for 2.5 years. Not an easy journey but, SO much healthier!! The stress of an abusive marriage was killing me. When I prayed God open my eyes-He did! I do NOT believe the heart of God is for a woman to live I fear & abuse!
I agree Heidi, no one knows what it’s like to live in your home but you. Therefore the ultimate decision about what is best for you and your kids is not your pastor but you.
I hear you Heidi. I wonder if its not killing me. My children and I live in there crazy nervous fear. I gave stomach issues and heart palpitations that are getting worse. One child gets frequent headaches, and the other has anxiety and stomach issues. The child between us seems to be ok, for now. To split up would relive two, but heartbreak the youngest.
So literally, what is this marriage, this homelife doing to us. Physically.
I was married the first time for 25 years. I checked myself into the psych ward because I felt I was losing it, both emotionally and physically. Same, heart palpitations, panic attacks, digestive…….I was so weak that sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed for months, just crawl to the bathroom and back. I home schooled the children on the bed. In the hospital, my Christian doctor finally (after several days) told me that he would not release me until I could give him evidence that I would not be living with my h anymore, or I would be right back in. Honestly, being in there felt like I’d been let out of jail!! My health had suffered permanent damage, I am still not real well, but after the separation I was much much better.
The church pastor and elders told h to live in the motor home for the time being, because they just knew that when I got home I would welcome him back shortly. Were they surprised or what!? I just couldn’t. My heart was broken and at the time I still believed it was a sin to divorce, but I just couldn’t go back. Then he divorced me. Because, you know, a man has needs. And, of course, he had no idea why I would do this. “Guess she just didn’t want to be married anymore.” duh. (he conveniently left behind the list I had carefully made as to why I was not happy – it was in his Bible) And then, he ‘changed’. This was over 20 years ago, and many people still believe I wouldn’t give him a chance to prove his ‘change’. They don’t know how he talks to me by phone, or how he dissed me for 2 hours straight to my now h when we got engaged (8 years after the divorce), and he wanted to ‘meet him to make sure the children were safe with him’. I could go on and on, but now you know why I answer James as I do. Been there, done that, no T-shirt.
I have experienced those kinds of physical issues and I can agree from a nurse’s perspective that stress has very debilitating and damaging effects on the body, albeit reversible to a large extent. I was so anxious I was sick and on thyroid medication. I am no longer ill or needing any meds.
Stress plays a huge role in the body, digestion issues, circulatory issues, heart issues, endocrine issues. Please please don’t minimize the effects stress can cause. One man said “I only realized I was in a destructive marriage after I got cancer. Our immune system becomes compromised because of all the stress we are under.
I have been so confused regarding this issue and with God’s help, I have come to understand God and His love for us in a new way. My prayer is that what I mapped out below helps others find peace, comfort, and strength in their situation.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD.
***Divorce = certificate of divorce + send out (apolyo G630)
***You can’t re-marry a person you are divorced from (divorce is forever)
God follows His own rules about divorce!
See Jeremiah 3:8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.
***Notice God’s divorce from Israel also = certificate of divorce + send away (apolyo G630)
***So, we learn that not even God can stay married to a hard hearted human, even God has boundaries, even God has limits, even God Himself can’t make a hard hearted person repent and turn to God.
***We also learn that God knows through first hand experience how painful a divorce is.
Keeping in mind all of the above, Matthew 5:31-32 takes on a new light.
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces (apolyo G630) his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces (apolyo G630) his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced (apolyo G630) woman commits adultery.
Rewriting the verse above using the “correct” translation of apolyo, you get:
“It was also said, ‘Whoever puts away his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that everyone who puts away his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a put away woman commits adultery.”
So now this makes much more sense and we see it is not nearly as complicated as current Christian doctrine makes you think. Basically you can’t remarry until you legally divorce. That’s it! The reason sexual immorality is the exception is that during that time, the punishment for adultery was death, so no need for a legal divorce certificate.
God indeed follows his own rules. Israel was guilty of spiritual infidelity and so God was released from the marriage covenant.
I am unclear how you think your redefinition of απολυω somehow nullifies Jesus words in Matthew 19:6.
I wouldn’t call it a redefinition as much as THE definition. If you have a different definition I would love to take a look at your source.
The KJV translates Strongs G630 in the following manner: release (17x), put away (14x), send away (13x), let go (13x), set at liberty (2x), let depart (2x), dismiss (2x), miscellaneous (6x).
Matthew 19:6 is in response to the question posed in Matthew 19:3. “Is it lawful to put away your wife for any cause?” The response Jesus gives is in no way saying the law put forth in Deut 24 is no longer valid. He is telling the Pharisees to man up, take responsibility for their wives. Once they take a woman as a wife they have to honor that commitment, take care of her, and not abandon her. “from the beginning” is the ideal we are supposed to aspire to. I think we can all agree we are not living in the Garden of Eden.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on Matthew 5:21-28. As most woman on this blog, myself included, are married to men that are very angry, and regularly engaged in activities of “lust”. Do you have an argument that somehow Jesus is saying something very different here? Because if we believe Jesus, then the argument of sexual infidelity is kind of a moot point.
Wouldn’t you agree that the whole ministry of Jesus is to help people understand that what goes on in your heart is the real measure of love? Not only love to God but love to one another? That an infidelity of the heart is the same as the physical act? And when God divorced Israel for spiritual infidelity, it was infidelity of the heart, was it not?
Out of curiosity, do you believe a woman has a biblical right to divorce her husband if he physically abuses her?
Thank you in advance for your responses, as the pure pursuit of the truth is very hard in this day in age, with all the translations, traditions, and false doctorines to sort out. We are all just doing our best! God bless.
Thank you for your measured response.
I personally think that Strong’s lexicon isn’t the best one to use despite its traditional popularity. I routinely go to Bauer, Danker, Arndt and Gingrich’s (BDAG) lexicon as it is the one most used for original language research today.
Your translation isn’t entirely inconsistent with BDAG but you really do have to look at the context of the passage and its seems pretty clear, at least to me, that Jesus is talking about divorce here especially given that Jesus is contrasting His standard to Dt 24. The traditional Jewish law allowed men to divorce their wives for any cause (see Dt, 24:1). Jesus is raising the standard for those who would follow Him and BDAG sees the context of Jesus words addressing divorce such that they cite Matthew 5:32f as a biblical example of the word απολυω meaning divorce.
I absolutely agree that Jesus was speaking primarily to men in that passage and I also agree that His aim was to get the Pharisees to stop treating their marriage covenants with such triviality. I also see that throughout the bible, the testimony of scripture is consistent that apart from sexual immorality the marriage covenant is not to be broken between two believers (more on this a little later).
To answer your question on Matthew 5:21-28, I think that Jesus is speaking quite figuratively. The woman who is angry with her husband and has insulted him (who is his brother in the Lord) is guilty of murder in her heart (see Mt 5:21-22). I do not think that Jesus mean to say that all women who have gotten angry enough to say something insulting have given their husbands the grounds to bring them up on murder charges.
The man who lusts after another woman has committed adultery in his heart. I don’t think that Jesus means that this provides cause for divorce anymore than I think that a man whose wife got angry enough with him to call him a fool needs to be brought up on murder charges, and is heading for hell after she receives a just death penalty. Rather, I think Jesus is using hyperbole in both instances to illustrate the gravity of these sins in God’s eyes. Anger is like murder to the Lord and lust is like adultery before a Holy God. Jesus uses hyperbole periodically and if we didn’t recognize those instances then we would all have poked out our eyes and cut off our hands a long time ago.
I do think that men who are lusting after other women, be it on the internet or in magazines, etc, are sinning GRIEVOUSLY against their spouses and should be PUT OUT OF THE CHURCH if they refuse to repent per Matthew 18:15-17. I then think, though I have caught a lot of flack from some of my denominational peers for saying so, that (per 1 Cor 7:15) such a man has proven that he is behaving as an unbeliever and has chosen to “separate” himself not only from the church but from the marriage covenant rather than repent and renew his commitment and therefore his wife is free to make HIS divorce of HER legal.
Concerning God’s divorce of Israel, yes, that was a matter of the heart, but God’s relationship to Israel is not a sexual relationship and so we must recognize the limits of the intent of the analogies that scripture gives to us.
Israel was to worship God, wives aren’t to worship husbands, the analogy has its limits.
Finally, I agree that all sin starts in the heart, not just sexual sin, but all sin, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I also recognize that it is hard enough for us to know our own deceitful hearts and it is somewhat foolish for us to try and know the hearts of another. A husband is not put on earth to stand in judgment of his wife’s heart. The same is true of a wife to her husband.
Personally speaking, I am very sorry that your husband struggles with issues of lust. I can only imagine how that must hurt you and I can only pray that God will soften your husband’s heart and bring him to genuine repentance. I hope you are in a church that believes the words of Christ enough to stand with you in calling him to repentance.
“Out of curiosity, do you believe a woman has a biblical right to divorce her husband if he physically abuses her?”
I believe that in the interest of protecting a wife and children a woman who has been physically abused should be immediately protected and her choice to physically separate should be honored. I think that the Matthew 18 process should be followed and that the innocent parties in that matter should not be pressured to reunite with a physically abusive man until they have a sense of assurance of their own physical safety.
Personally, it is very hard for me not to get absolutely enraged when talking of physical abuse because I grew up in a home where it was present and I saw the destruction it brings on a family. It is a challenge for me to show those men grace, Lord help me.
I’ve tried to be both brief and thorough, I fear that I have failed at both.
The Lord’s Peace be with you.
Thank you, I will take a look at Bauer, Danker, Arndt and Gingrich’s (BDAG) lexicon.
I still think that Matt 3:31-32 is contrasting two different things. Divorce vs. Divorce with a divorce certificate. Divorce would mean the man (or woman) would leave their spouse without settling assets. And that would mean the person who is left is left without their share of the marital assets AND unable to remarry because they are still technically married. Now divorce with a divorce certificate means that the person seeking a divorce would go through the courts and split equity in the house, retirement accounts, made to pay alimony, and the divorced would be properly freed to remarry and be supported by their new spouse. That to me is just a cleaner interpretation of the text. So, I guess my question to you would be, what do you think the difference is between “divorce” and “divorce with a divorce certificate”is? Because to say that the only reason to divorce is sexual adultery, would mean that most people also have to admit that they think Jesus simply forgot or overlooked physical abuse. And I just don’t think Jesus would do that. So, in taking the original greek word and seeing where it is used in other parts of the scripture, we see that it doesn’t mean divorce, it means to dismiss, leave, separate, etc. And then you have an interpretation that doesn’t require adding a contingency to the very words of Jesus. I guess that is where I am at, what I am wrestling with right now.
I also agree that Jesus was speaking figuratively in Matt 5:21-28. I brought that up to illustrate that if someone uses Matt 5:31 as a legalistic tool, then there is a legalistic tool to counter that. I don’t think there has ever been a hand or an eye that ever caused anyone to sin. It is always the heart, brain, decisions that causes one to sin. If your spouse causes you to sin, could you use this verse as a reason to cut them out? Just playing the devil’s advocate here.
I agree with you on your next paragraph. But then that also means that Jesus forgot to add unbelievers to his conditions for divorce in Matt 5:31. But my marriage falls under this category, we were both unbelievers when we got married. And I came to Christ about 5 years ago. I came to Christ because I couldn’t handle his drinking, his anger, his complete lack of financial responsibility, his porn was honestly the least of my worries. And everyone was telling me to leave him. But I knew if I left him he literally wouldn’t survive long. So, I ended up in this void where I didn’t agree with how the secular world would have me act, and I didn’t agree with what the church is trying to say. All for different reasons, so I gave up looking for answers about that and just concentrated on my personal relationship with God, that is all anyone can do. You can’t change another person. As we see in God’s own divorce, even He can’t pray hard enough to turn a person to repentance. And nowhere is the scriptures, at least as I know, does God say a human has the power or responsibility to turn another to repentance. And to tell a spouse with an abusive, unrepentant spouse to simply pray harder is bordering on blasphemy. The scriptures tell us to run from the wicked and I have yet to find a disclaimer that indicates that that doesn’t apply to a marriage relationship. And Matt 18:15 also doesn’t offer a disclaimer that this doesn’t apply to spouses.
“Israel was to worship God, wives aren’t to worship husbands, the analogy has its limits.” But aren’t women supposed to submit to their husbands? So, if a husband isn’t submitted to God, then how can a woman possibly submit to their husband and God? And if she isn’t submitted to God because her husband isn’t submitted to God, then isn’t she in the very danger of committing the very sin that led God to divorce the Israelites? I think this analogy illustrates this point very well.
Thank you again for taking the time to go back and forth with me, these type of conversations help flesh out ideas and bring new ideas to consider. I think we agree on more than we disagree on. That these situations are very complicated, two sided, emotionally charged situations of the heart, and only God judges the heart. We are to love, support, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ in whatever situation they are in. God bless.
Thanks James. I appreciate your input here.
Thanks ANgela for that help in the original languages.
I also listened to my pastor regarding my unfaithful, alcoholic and jealous, controlling husband. He said I needed to stay and just keep praying for his salvation, according to the Bible, so I did so for 57 years! My children and I were all emotionally affected, and it only got worse for me after they married and moved away. My (ex) husband became extremely verbally abusive and insanely jealous, although his heavy drinking and running around stopped. Ironically, the verbal abuse and jealousy were the last straw, and I then set the boundary of separate bedrooms (which he refused to accept, nor did he change, and eventually left). He later begged to return, even breaking into our home while I was away (twice). The second time I had to file a Protection Order, which he broke, and ended up in jail overnight. I finally filed for divorce, and God has blessed me with His peace and the freedom I never had before to serve Him. I need to add, however, that the ladies at my apartment complex gave me a surprise “divorce celebration” when I returned from court, and one of them took photos and posted them on Facebook. I had previously “friended” my then pastor’s wife and several other ladies in the church. They were “offended” by the photos, and the pastor’s wife called me and said, “The church neither condones or celebrates divorce.” Needless to say, I then left the church and joined another, where I’m loved and accepted, and even teach a Sunday School class and was elected as a Board member. My only regret is that I “stayed” so long in that dysfunctional, abusive marriage!
Sandra, although I’m sure it would be exceedingly tough for a church to celebrate a divorce, I get what you are talking about. For too long the church has valued the sanctity of marriage over the safety and sanity of the individuals in the marriage.
And the physical health of the individuals. And the damage to the children. And the spiritual damage.
Well if this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. I’ve been waffling over this for a long time. I went to an attorney about a year ago and chickened out because I was afraid and just recently went to another lawyer recommended by a friend. I haven’t filed yet because I’m still scared, but I’m feeling bolder because I see the destruction this marriage is causing my kids. My husband, I strongly suspect, is a mild sociopath so I have no hope for reconciliation. He refuses to get counseling, which is typical of people w/Antisocial Personality Disorder. He also is a high-functioning alcoholic. This article was very timely and will help me discern. Thanks.
Thanks ANn. I hope you make the next Good Choice.
My counselor recommended a principle, of screening things through a filter. Emotions and feelings are so twisted together for me and often lead me down a bad path. The filter is, ‘is this healthy and godly?’ So helpful!!! Others may not approve of my choices, but like the above writer shares…’turn your eyes upon Jesus’. God knows and sees all. Very grateful that nothing is hidden from Him and He is FOR me!!!
Yes Sophia, He sees everything, nothing is hidden from him. That’s why I love Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and guide you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Thanks for the filter idea. Is this healthy and Godly?
I would have to say no on so many accounts.
My decision to divorce began years earlier when God was showing me glimpses of the abuse, yet I was unwilling to accept it. The decision began when I began accepting abuse. The decision was made when I decided to separate, knowing full well that my husband could himself file, may never repent, or that I might be forced by his actions to file myself.
From the beginning, I read everything I could get my hands on with regards to abuse. I read and watched Leslie Vernick. I read the book “Not Under Bondage”. I went through extensive trauma therapy through EMDR with my counselor. She worked with me to show me current abusive actions and attitudes by my then husband and how I was or wasn’t responding correctly. I watched videos by Dr. Diane Langberg on YouTube to hear how she instructs church leaders about abuse. I took those videos and all materials to the church.
The men and female leaders received them but never watched them or read them. It had never bothered me that they were naive to abuse because, afterall, I was as well – at the outset. But, when they ignored me, doubted me, didn’t listen to me… then I began to feel treated like my husband treated me. I felt less than. I felt lorded over by their authority. I felt abused.
I then realized that this church (not every church), was not using their God-given authority in a Biblical manner. They were not seeking justice, but only loving mercy. They were not walking humbly with their God. They were not protecting the innocent. They were failing to settle a dispute within the church – something the Apostle Paul was furious at with the Corinthian church.
When my church failed me, I turned to my father and mother for their assessment. I talked with my counselor. I talked with a former pastor. My father also talked with his pastor and well, the conclusion was that: I had been faithful to my ex. I had shown him tough love (a.k.a lovingkindness) in hopes that he would see it, come to his senses and repent. I had fought hard for his heart and soul. But, in the end, he had broken his vows. He was hard-hearted and I could not rescue him. He was dangerous financially and was pushing me to file with his spending. As he would not protect me, and had therefore abandoned me, I had Biblical grounds for divorce and so I filed. As soon as I did, my ex locked me out of all accounts and another battle began.
The same day that I filed, I drove to church and discreetly turned in my letter of membership resignation. I never gave up on the body of Christ, I just chose not to stay at that one. They did not represent God and his word as it pertained to my situation. I was not safe there. But, Christ, his word, his plan to redeem the world through His church – all was still trustworthy, good and right – just not those pastors, not that church.
The day I filed, I felt very certain that what I was doing was right. I had no doubts at that time – though later I occasionally would, and would have to return to this truth:
Even if I misread my husband, the marriage, the abuse, and got the whole thing wrong. Even if I was wrong to divorce, even that could not separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. I was safe I was secure. God so loved the world, and me, that he gave his son so that if I would believe in him, I would not perish but have everlasting life.
This was not a license to divorce because I was tired and wanted out. But, I think it is clear that I never went into separation with that intent, nor do I even remotely hear that in you.
It has been over two years since the divorce was finalized and my ex husband still tries to control and demean, still denies, still hates me so as to squash my spirit. That church, to my knowledge is unchanged. There are still so Christians whom I’ll meet who regard me with skepticism and fear. There are days, endless days of exhaustion and feelings of crushing loneliness. There are days I wonder if anyone will ever get what I went through with my ex and with that church. There have been times I have given up waiting for God’s hope and have reached out to grab for myself in my impatience. The results were a total disaster, and oh, so painful.
Still, God is faithful to his promise to never leave me nor reject me. He has given me renewed hope in him, not in what I can get in this life. He has been rebuilding my heart and my home and that has not been in vain. He has heard me weep in anger and question his heart. Still, the love of the Lord endures forever. This is our surety, this is our anchor – even as we make small and big decisions that will echo into eternity.
But, in all those times, there is
Thanks for sharing your story Jenny. I love Diane Langberg, she has been a mentor to me over the years and sadly many churches will not listen to teaching from “women” I hope that is changing.
I was reading the divorce care devotions, going to counseling, saw a lawyer. I didn’t want a divorce but I didn’t trust him. Then one day I received a verse Obadiah 3 that says
“the pride of your heart has decieived you.” I prayed and realized my divorce papers were not coming through.
The attorney mailed and emailed me a copy, which never came through. I was already meeting my husband once a week to talk about our kids, since I left home with them. God showed me that the communication issues I was having with hubby I will have with my boys, I needed to learn to communicate. We were separated for 2.5 years. As I meditated on the verse I knew I had to go back home. It’s been 4.5 years were back, it was a very hard decision but God had silenced everyone who gave me support. I needed to be alone with God. In 4.5 years I can tell you we worked through things alone and together but it was very hard work. Leslie is right this
is such a personal decision
no one can make it for you.
I’m glad you did the hard work (and I hope your husband did the hard work) to make this a better marriage. Yes, each person has to decide, before God what is the right path for her at this time. It may change, later, but for now, what is the path, and walk in it.
Leslie, once again, nails it. If the church is not willing to support you financially or practically, then they have no business imposing these kinds of limits on you. And most importantly, I wish women understood this fact: you have the same Holy Spirit within you that a pastor does. You have the same access to truth and conviction and God’s Word. What is the Holy Spirit telling YOU to do? You are not bound by the words of a man who sees only the surface level, exterior stuff… You can go directly to the source of all wisdom, who sees the things that are hidden and knows the heart of everyone. A pastor/ biblical (usually quite unbiblical, in my experience) counselor/ layperson/ Sunday school teacher/ preacher’s wife/ etc. has no special insight into your situation. Learn to follow your gut feeling. By all means, pray… Yes. Then, lead as GOD directs you. He is the only person you will need to answer to.
In my experience, I was dealing with a professing Christian who showed no Christlike fruit… lying, cheating financially, behaving selfishly, going into rages, neglecting his children in favor of hours of computer time, viewing porn, failing to care for his home, behaving childishly, etc. and I pondered whether my decision to separate was biblical. When he attacked me physically and the violence escalated to be in front of the kids and more frequent, I left. The layperson who was counseling us promised to help… but over time, it became quite obvious that ex would make no effort to change. I too wrestled with the adultery issue, so I prayed and prayed. My answer? During the separation, he had an affair.
I think God made my decision easier and lifted the burden of doubt. Like this woman, ex pretended to “repent”, but all the same attitudes were present. Entitlement. Blame. Anger. Excuses. After the affair, suddenly, the church was sympathetic and “granted” their permission for divorce. The crazy thing is, the affair bothered me less than the abuse. It’s one thing to “fall” into temptation– I get that– it’s another to look the person in the face that you vowed to love and cherish and CHOOSE to hurt her with your own hands. (I know adultery is a choice too, but I hope you understand my meaning…) Ironically, as soon as I decided to divorce, the church told me that the situation was too precarious for them legally and that I could not utilize them as witnesses in court. Not even to urge him to pay child support (1 Tim 5:8, anyone?). Support of any kind– financial, emotional, practical– disappeared. I never heard from them again.
2 1/2 years later, I’m finally divorced. Happily.
Ultimately, an awful lot of pastors or counselors, when it even DOES come down to “biblical” grounds for divorce, will leave you completely high and dry in the process. They are cowards. They do not really demonstrate that they believe the following:
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you? But to do JUSTICE, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
“Ultimately, an awful lot of pastors or counselors, when it even DOES come down to “biblical” grounds for divorce, will leave you completely high and dry in the process. They are cowards.”
This is my point. The broad brushing of pastors here and the uncharitable conclusions aren’t building any bridges.
I agree, James.
It is easy to jump on the bandwagons of strong, emotional opinions but more difficult to consider the few posts sharing a differing opinion.
If a person has information which will cause sin to be uncovered, but they refuse to speak out, they become culpable in that sin. If pastors will not defend, then they are not “being neutral.” To do nothing IS to take a side, it IS to condone, because it is within his power to make a difference, and he refuses. Why? It seems to me it is because pastors fear men more than God. So, help me understand… how is it uncharitable to call that cowardly? I was flat out told that the church would not attend court because they were afraid of the legal implications of getting involved.
It is no different than the people who walked past the Samaritan. Suddenly, the problem is no one’s. And God was not pleased with those who were not willing to take a personal risk to exact justice or to help those in need..
Re: painting pastors with broad strokes… Please, tell me stories of all the pastors who are doing the right thing by supporting divorcees and abuse victims in family court or with church funds. Because I don’t hear them. That’s why so many women flock to websites of support like this. It is not a generalization or stereotype to say that the church’s response has been woefully ineffective.
And to Sue, I will not apologize for having “strong, emotional opinions” about sin. When we discuss the nature of Christ, it includes overturning tables, fashioning whips, and getting angry. Sin and injustice should make us angry.
I have been in counseling with my pastor (and with a wonderful woman who was trained through the counseling ministry at my church) for several difficult situations in my life including the divorce from my physically and verbally abusive first husband. My pastor was extremely compassionate and supportive. If I had needed financial support, my church has what they call a “Samaritan Fund”, for members of the church who are experiencing financial hardship. I was (and still am) blessed to have a career in nursing that allowed me to work a lot of overtime to save enough to live on my own with my young sons at the time.
But the most important thing my pastor taught me how to do was not live as a victim. He was completely reality based and called the abuse what it was- sin that I did not have to continue to tolerate.
Yes, my hurt and anger were accepted as justified and my feelings were validated by both my pastor and the woman I counseled with.
But by not allowing myself to live as a victim, I have also moved beyond the hurt and anger into peace and freedom in my soul.
The righteous anger of an abused woman is not my identity and I don’t believe God wants that to be anyone’s identity. He has so much better for us as children of the one true King.
So glad, Sue, that you had a few ‘good Samaritans’ in your court. Most of the rest of us have not had that, and that is why we are trying to be that for each other. The abused man at the side of the road WAS a victim unable to help himself. And I hope that he, as we all on here, became that ‘good Samaritan’ for others after he was recovered from his wounds. It is right to be angry at the priest and Levite who walked by on the other side, self-righteously thinking,”So glad I’m not living as a victim like HE is”. I would say we all are striving to rise above the place of victim, but to do that we need the compassion, advice, and understanding that we have not gotten at church. The devastation of that really does break our hearts for years, when almost ALL of our friends, family, and children are turned against us.
And James, yes, there are two sides to every story. In the case of abuse, there is the right side and the wrong side. Most of us, if we err on reporting it, it is that we are minimizing or even defending the offender because we have been taught for so long that we must be partly at fault, or that he can’t help it, or that it is sin to ‘speak badly about your husband’, or simply that nobody will believe us anyway because he is so charming and clever and we are a basket-case by the time we speak up. We may even be in great danger when we speak up. Perhaps our biggest fault is that we have been far far too quick at accepting blame for everything and he knows that and has used us as his convenient scape goat for so many years that we can hardly think correctly anymore. And so we need a lifebuoy thrown out to us until we can catch our breath and remember how to swim again.
So true Connie. Thanks for your input.
Sue I think your pastor was very wise. We sometimes get stuck in a victim mentality (helpless, angry, stuck) instead of an owner mentality (what am I going to do about my situation or feelings, etc). IN order to heal, grow, thrive, we need to begin to realize that we are stewards of our own life and life choices and to learn to make good choices.
“If a person has information which will cause sin to be uncovered, but they refuse to speak out, they become culpable in that sin.”
YES. Thank you for stating that. Too many are in denial about their collaboration with the Enemy.
“If pastors will not defend, then they are not “being neutral.” To do nothing IS to take a side, it IS to condone, because it is within his power to make a difference, and he refuses. Why? It seems to me it is because pastors fear men more than God.”
PRECISELY. Either the pastor’s fear of a potential tarnishing by the male community because of the unwritten rule which says guys hang together and support one another — they don’t side with women… Or, a fear of significant income loss — i.e. no more tithing by the exposed abuser… Or BOTH.
God seems to come second to these two concerns.
“So, help me understand… how is it uncharitable to call that cowardly?”
It is not uncharitable, Mtns… You are speaking the truth in love. A pastor who refuses to put forth effort to pursue the truth and to then take a position once concrete facts ARE sufficiently gathered — all because the process might be a little messy — is a coward more concerned about his own comfort… He has forsaken his role… (True Christianity according to James 1:27 is to minister to the needs of widows and orphans in distress. Widowhood is not limited only to those who have been abandoned by death).
Clarification… the fourth paragraph was not edited correctly. It is supposed to read like this:
PRECISELY. It seems to be either a matter of the pastor’s fear of a potential tarnishing by the male community…
I think we need to also realize that pastors are humans and vulnerable and sometimes not very equipped to deal with these situations competently or wisely. They get VERY little training on abuse in seminary.
There is no “neutral” place in instances of abuse. Martin Luther King said this: He said “it was not the words of our enemies that caused the most damage but the silence of our friends.” Sadly so many pastors, and counselors try to stay neutral. They see a woman (who is NOT perfect) claiming abuse, and somehow they neutralize her concerns because they can also see her own sin. But when we do this what we are in essence saying is “It’s your fault that I abuse” Actually God himself held Moses accountable for his outbursts of inappropriate anger, even though he was totally provoked by the sinfulness of the Israelites. I think that is a good example to say that even when we see an abused woman acting inappropriately, it NEVER justifies abuse.
Forgive me for not responding to your comments earlier, I had not seen them until today.
You asked an excellent question.
“Re: painting pastors with broad strokes… Please, tell me stories of all the pastors who are doing the right thing by supporting divorcees and abuse victims in family court or with church funds. Because I don’t hear them. That’s why so many women flock to websites of support like this. It is not a generalization or stereotype to say that the church’s response has been woefully ineffective.”
I can tell you about the church I pastor and the way we try to support women (as well as children and men to a limited degree) who are suffering from abuse.
First, we have a benevolence fund specifically designed to help those who cannot help themselves. This is about 20% percent of our church budget which is a pretty healthy percentage comparatively.
Second, we provide counseling resources and also employ a women’s counselor which is pretty unheard of for a church of our size and budget.
We do what we can. We pray for the means to do more. I am sure that Leslie wishes she was able to provide the funds to financially support every woman suffering at the hands of an abuser. She does what she can and I believe our little church and its imperfect pastor (your’s truly) does as well.
I am sure that many church’s responses have been inadequate. I am also sure that many women, perhaps yourself, have felt very isolated and alone desperately hoping that their church would stand by them in their time of need.
I can only influence the little church that God has given me the privilege of serving.
If I may, the problem with making broad brush condemnations is that the paint splatters not only on those who need the rebuke it also hits those who would like to learn and grow but don’t know where to start and those who already have the heart to help and would prefer not suffer the condemnation of other’s sins.
Sometimes the unintended consequences of blanket condemnation are that those who might hear you, don’t hear you because it is hard to see past the pointed finger to the legitimate points that the pointer is making.
Personally, I hope and pray that you are receiving the help and support you need and that the Lord has used faithful men and women to bring you comfort in your times of trial.
I find James’ response on 3:28 PM Sep 8 unsettling. He’s responding to MtnsRCallin.
This woman shared that her exhusband was a rager. He was a porn addict. He was physically violent toward her IN FRONT OF HER CHILDREN. He had was unethical/illegal in his money-dealings (and if that meant cheating on taxes, then she’d be liable for his choices).
Then he had an affair.
Her church shrank back from her. They left her all alone to fight a bitter divorce and pick up the pieces of her shattered life.
Here’s all James responds with:
“This is my point. The broad brushing of pastors here and the uncharitable conclusions aren’t building any bridges.”
This woman just poured out a personal testimony of suffering at the hands of the man who swore to cherish her. Then her church left her high and dry.
And James says “You’ve got a bad attitude. You need to build bridges.” He says nothing compassionate to her. ???? I just can’t imagine reading something so painful and not having one kind word to say to her.
Why should victims have to build bridges?
I say her ex-church should build a bridge to her thru an apology and a commitment to support victims better in the future.
He seems personally offended at her righteous indignation.
You’re right. I should have read her post more carefully and responded more thoughtfully.
Please forgive my initial insensitivity to your story. I hope my subsequent replies to you have demonstrated that I am not blind to your struggles.
Nobody HAS to build bridges. But if you, or mntnsrcallin or Leslie want pastors to consider your viewpoint I’d humbly suggest you not start the conversation by calling them cowards.
Pastors are a lot like everyone else that way.
Name-calling is not a part of CORE strength. We can express how we feel or think without putting someone else down. I’m sorry I was traveling and speaking and didn’t see this before now, but please everyone, this is a place where we are going to practice disagreeing using our CORE. Okay?
Thank you for your concern for me. I’m not looking for James’ sympathy, nor anyone else’s here, for that matter. I just hope my story can help someone else who is still in the fog see a bit more clearly. Both Leslie’s blog and those on Crying Out for Justice have been immensely helpful. It wasn’t until I came here and read books by the authors suggested that I finally saw my situation for what it really was– abusive. (You are correct in your assessment that my ex was cheating on taxes that I’d be liable for.)
I find many of James’ comments unsettling, as well. For example, on Sept 10, he was asked directly this question: “Out of curiosity, do you believe a woman has a biblical right to divorce her husband if he physically abuses her?”
Seems to me the obvious and easy answer is yes. But he responds, “I believe that in the interest of protecting a wife and children a woman who has been physically abused should be immediately protected and her choice to physically separate should be honored. I think that the Matthew 18 process should be followed and that the innocent parties in that matter should not be pressured to reunite with a physically abusive man until they have a sense of assurance of their own physical safety.”
So in other words, he never answers yes.
There seems to be an underlying assumption on his part that we DON’T follow Matthew 18, but in my case, I did. I confronted the man himself, then told (what I thought was our trusted) pastor. The pastor was more concerned about my ex’s individual credit cards than the fact that ex was physically violent. He promptly told me not to worry about my h’s behavior and focus on my own sin and learn how to suffer better (my own sin? read: You deserved it somehow.) . I was actually told that God WANTED me to suffer for his sake and I should feel GOOD for sharing in His glory. The church sent me back home without an ounce of compassion.
After a lay pastor learned of the abuse, he became the second witness. A third witness, a female counselor, also saw ex’s abusive behavior first hand. An entire panel of elders knew about ex’s affair for THREE months and didn’t tell me. When I showed proof of perjury in court and that ex refused to fix it, they refused to come and testify in court on my behalf. The lay pastor offered to come to court after I begged him to just sit in the gallery and watch. He said he’d call me later about what he saw. He never did.
After numerous PRACTICAL ways that they could have helped me– like helping me move when I left, calling periodically to see if they could help, mentoring my boys, assisting with childcare so I could attend counseling– the church backed out from doing anything.
I was barely keeping myself together (working, attending court, learning how to be a single mom, making ends meet with one income, trying to find housing, dealing with lawyers, collecting evidence, building my CORE)… because the church’s response was as betraying as what happened with ex.
I didn’t have the energy to build any bridges. I learned I couldn’t fix my husband or make him care. I couldn’t make my church care either. I accept both as reality.
Wow, something just jumped out at me here. James says that the woman should not move back to her abuser until THEY have a sense of her safety. Um, you mean the church leaders know better than the woman when she is safe? That is a scary thing!! I have heard of women being murdered because of that sort of thing.
Also, am I the only one who feels ‘patted on the head’ by James’ posts? Condescension is the word that comes to mind. And the apology was a typical N apology, “I’m sorry BUT……(what you said was sorta worse)”
I guess my …. meter has been ringing a lot on this page. After years of experience, maybe I’m finally getting it. 🙂
The more I read of your story, the more upset I get… This scenario of the pastor/elders turning a blind-eye and neglecting to take a stand when they needed to is turning out to be so commonplace. And even though I know it is, it still troubles me greatly every time I read of a new account where it has happened to a sister. I’m so sorry you have had to go through this pain and am praying brighter and joy-filled days are on the horizon for you!!
And regarding Connie’s observation about James’ implication that it is the pastor/elders who should be the determiners of when/how reconciliation should take place, she has identified yet another key aspect of what often happens when wives seek help. We find out that because we are women, we are viewed as Eve. That means we are weak, easily deceived, our discernment is inferior, and we are in need of male spiritual guidance…
I have no problem at all listening to counsel of male spiritual authorities as long as the fruit of the Spirit is evident in their lives… as long as their advice is based on having first exercised a solid unbiased exploration for truth… and as long as they don’t see themselves as infallible! But, that’s just the thing — so often the opposite IS experienced. Oppression, twisting of scripture, baseless accusations, rash-judgment/no pursuit of truth, double-standards, believing the man’s word over the woman’s, a haughty spirit of, “we hear directly from God, so don’t ask us questions…”
This has been my experience.
While, I am not divorced, (still seeking direction), Sister, there is so much of your story I can identify with. I’m hoping you’ll find comfort in knowing you are not alone.
Where would we all be without Leslie’s ministry!!? Her teachings and this forum, for sure, have been a tremendous blessing to my life… and in many ways like God’s direct hand of rescue!!
And to build bridges back after they have been burned requires some sort of repentance, acknowledgment of the wrong done. From what I read, you church has not done this. A good example of a church that is seeking to rebuild burned out bridges is The Village Church in Dallas. Their leadership has come to recognize that they mishandled a number of abuse situations and they are seeking out those women, offering apologizes, asking for forgiveness and now training their leadership in how to properly handle these cases. Accepting that your church was not willing to help, advocate, confront, hold accountable, or even support you is part of living in CORE – I am committed to the truth. Sometimes the truth is ugly, and we wish it were not what it is but sadly, many churches still don’t quite know how to handle these things. I get that. The thing that makes me the saddest is that they don’t even recognize that they need help to do better, and when people offer to give them information to read or video’s to watch, they often refuse. Why? James do you have an answer here?
Leslie, you asked the following:
“James do you have an answer here?”
I think I can muster something of an answer, thanks for the invitation.
Let me start by saying that there are some things I’m not particularly qualified to answer.
I don’t have foggiest clue how or why Mtns, church handled things the way they did. I don’t know who she is nor can I speculate as to what her pastors or leaders were thinking. Insofar as I know, I’m not any of these women’s pastor. I don’t hold myself out as a representative of all evangelical church pastors and so I would appreciate not having to answer for decisions of any of them but myself.
Any anger directed my way for their pastor’s decisions is misplaced anger.
I don’t think that statements such as “Ultimately, an awful lot of pastors or counselors, when it even DOES come down to “biblical” grounds for divorce, will leave you completely high and dry in the process. They are cowards.” are very helpful.
I can understand the anger behind those words. Clearly, she was left high and dry and I can empathize with being left alone to fend for oneself. I grew up in an abusive home and remember my mother hiding money in my shoe so that we had some money to buy food when we had to leave the house for days during one of my father’s life-threatening drunken rages. My own experience has taught me not to minimize or trivialize abuse, I can assure you. I have the scars to prove otherwise.
The assumption that I “just don’t get it” only comes from a total lack of familiarity with my own story and, honestly, comes across as just another manifestation of the “pastors are the problem” stereotype that I think shows up here.
I know an awful lot of pastors and counselors and none of them fall justly under the description of being cowards, man pleasers, or short-sighted men.
Most of the pastors I know have a great deal of courage. They need to have courage just to counsel using the scriptures in a culture that tells them that they are “only pastors” and shouldn’t use their religious texts to counsel but should be referring out all counseling situations to licensed professionals who employ tried and true methods based on the philosophies of men.
I can also tell you that many of those pastors spend hours of time they frankly don’t have in order to step into situations no one else will step into and most of them do it FOR FREE, which, quite frankly is more than most professional counselors can say.
I’m sure that all of us pastors have some learning to do, and I’m sure we all have some growing to do and I am happy to put myself at the top of the list of those who need to learn and grow.
If I didn’t consider myself willing to grow, I wouldn’t have read your book nor would I have come here to read your blog. Nor would I have taken about 3 hours during an already overscheduled week to watch Patrick Doyle’s videos on Youtube.
I am also sure that pastors such as myself must continue to hold all teaching up to the light of scripture because God’s Holy Word, and God’s Word alone is free from error.
Which means that I don’t consider myself obliged to agree with Patrick Doyle on everything he says nor do I consider myself obliged to agree with everything you say on every blog.
I can tell you that reading some of the more recent posts, either directed to me or about me, I have felt more than a little beat up.
I’ve been misrepresented, I’ve had my words twisted in order to misrepresent my statements, I’ve had my attempts to be kind and courteous twisted into allegations of condescension and instead of accepting a good-natured apology as an olive branch it has just been subject to more nihilistic innuendo.
I’m sure that there is still a lot of building to be done in my character and a lot of work refining my ability to pastor the little flock the Lord had graciously called me to serve but I’ll be honest, it’s pretty hard to build using bricks that are being thrown at you because someone is angry with some pastor I’ve never met. Perhaps this is just “pick apart the pastor” week at your blog and if so that’s fine. Most of us are pretty used to it since we deal with criticism all week, every week. Personally, I’ve received far harsher treatment for far longer a time and from people far closer to me than any of the posts meant to chasten me here. But I must say that it is tough to learn from those who demand that you treat them with the utmost gentleness while they feel free to take every opportunity to poke at you.
I am sure that I haven’t handled all of the abuse situations that Lord had directed my way perfectly. Some of which I have handled pretty awfully and I have had to do my best to go back to those people and repent in humility and commit to doing better with the next unfortunate situation.
I’m not unaware of my responsibility.
But I am also sure that I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE for any of the wrongs being done to any of the ladies on this site.
“Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. (Pro 3:30 ESV) comes to mind.
It grieves me to say, that James just continues to do and say what we’ve all experienced in and through the church, as well as from some pastors, which is projection, invalidation, finger pointing and a victim mentality from those we reach out to for help. .
Please try more compassion and less indignation. .
Um…..I”m wondering why we are all being put in the category of ‘angry’ here. Some anger is just and right, Jesus said some very pointed things at leaders who had rules without compassion, but most of us are simply grieved, sad, and broken. And if we have run into many pastors who have not been there for us, then we can say so here. Here is the sort of pastor that we would more likely respond to with tears and gratefulness:
I am not sure how my words have been so spun and morphed as to conclude that I think that pastors are to be the determiners for when a physically abused spouse should re-unite with the abuser.
Nor have I ever said, or even hinted that an abuser and the abused share culpability 50-50.
That is plainly a gross misrepresentation of what I said.
Please ladies, if you are going critique what I say, then represent what I say honestly.
I wrote about my experiences with some of the pastors I’ve dealt with. I hope you didn’t think it was directed at you. Maybe the pastors you associate with understand abuse. But as you can see from the experiences of many here, quite a few don’t. Like I said before, I didn’t till I experienced it. So I don’t fault anyone who doesn’t understand. It took years for my family to understand. Since you counsel couples, I would like you to know that abusers can be very sly. Since you probably don’t know the two individuals you are counseling personally, it is hard to know who is lying. Abusers are very good liars. I think there are abusers out there pretending to be Christians and fooling a lot of people. You are probably aware of all this.
Thanks for sharing your story. It must have been awful living with a person who raged all the time, sorry.
Like you said, being a pastor, you are the target of criticism. That must be tough. I for one am trying not to be critical. I’m glad we can have a civil conversation.
No, I have genuinely appreciated the tone and civility of our conversation and I’ve really appreciated you sharing your story as well as your concerns. I have taken much of what you have said to heart.
You are right that abusers can be sly and lie. Honestly, sometimes hearing his perspective and her perspective can be like two ships passing in the night and proceeding can be very confusing.
At those times I rely on prayer, reflection on the word and loving both the husband and wife enough to work hard at getting to the truth.
Thanks. I am speaking next week in Dallas to about 200 counselors/pastors on this very topic. Pray that they will have ears to hear.
I stayed in bondage in my emotionally abusive marriage because I believed I didn’t have a scriptural reason to leave him. I even condemned myself for entertaining the thought or desire to. This went on for many, many years.
But God. He slowly worked on me and lovingly stirred in me a desire to reconsider what I thought to be true- the teachings of man. I had gotten my ideas and convictions on what I believed man taught rather than getting them from God Himself.
After my NPD husband saw I was no longer being compliant and acquiescing to his whims, the mask began to slip and I was seeing the truth of who he was. When I temporarily separated he filed for divorce.
After he filed I knew that I needed to get beyond just questioning if divorce was okay but really examining scripture in this area like I never had before because I (like many others) came against opposition from within the church even though I hadn’t been the one to file. Through my own reading of scripture (and Barbara’s book) I realized God never asked me to be in bondage. This was NOT a marriage. I learned that God cares more about the people in the marriage than the institution of marriage. He was not honored in my suffering for sufffering’s sake (and not the gospel). I was simply no longer going to argue and fight against what my husband had wanted from the beginning- to be apart from me.
As I see it, the pastors who say divorce is only an option when there are sexual relations with someone other than your spouse then have a quandary. It would seem that this would mean that God would be dishonored and angry if someone in a homosexual marriage got legally divorced if their partner was faithful. Or someone who married their mother. Or someone who married an 8 year old. There would be obvious huffs and eyerolls at such ludicrous thinking….but why? Because we know from scripture that God does not bless such a union. The marriage is not based on God’s principles or heart and the very act of them coming into union dishonors God. So with the abusive marriage in which one spouse did not enter the marriage in good faith and/or one partner is not able to willingly consent.
Man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath for man. Jesus Himself ‘broke’ the Sabbath to take care of man.
” It would seem that this would mean that God would be dishonored and angry if someone in a homosexual marriage got legally divorced if their partner was faithful. Or someone who married their mother. Or someone who married an 8 year old. There would be obvious huffs and eyerolls at such ludicrous thinking….but why? Because we know from scripture that God does not bless such a union.”
I would respectfully disagree with your argument here.
These aren’t marriages. God doesn’t create such unions.
The state allows same sex marriage but its not a marriage in God’s eyes and therefore they aren’t married.
Neither the state nor God permits a man to marry his mother.
Neither the state nor God allows the marriage of a child.
God doesn’t anger at the dissolution of unions he does not create.
James, that is precisely my point. Just as the unions I described aren’t a true marriage in God’s eyes and therefore He does not anger at those dissolutions, unions created under the false pretenses of abuse are a similar union IMO. When one person lies or manipulates in order to get the other person to agree to such a union it would seem this is similar in the sense that God would not approve of such a union in the first place and therefore would not be angered at the dissolution of it.
I’m afraid I would probably side with the pastor on this one.
It would seem that he is “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” in that he is no longer yelling and he is regularly attending counseling. That seems like progress. I’m sure there is still much work to be done. Life change is often slow and hard won for all of us and I don’t think the email gives sufficient information to conclude that the marriage is too toxic to be considered soluble.
What she describes as controlling needs to be better defined.
Blame-shifting happens in almost every single relational conflict I have ever helped to resolve. Husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings and brethren in the Lord commonly point at the other person as the bigger problem.
Accusations are the same. She has made accusations of her husband in this email claiming he has NPD, presumably this is a mental diagnosis she is unqualified to make unless she is a licensed mental health professional.
That doesn’t seem like very healthy behavior to me.
Perhaps her accusations are founded, perhaps they are not. We cannot know for certain since we only get half the story (Proverbs 18:17). Likewise, we don’t know know if his accusations have any merit. Could it be that she is acting in some way that is also destructive to the relationship and this behavior is the basis for his accusation? We don’t know, there simply isn’t enough information.
Her husband is presumably appealing to authority which could very well mean that he is making biblical appeals or it may mean something totally different. We simply can’t know. Wanting others to believe the best in us is something that I think we all would have others do to us; and its scriptural (1 Cor 13:7). He may well have given her reason in the past to doubt his sincerity or authenticity and so it is reasonable not to expect her to make blind leaps of trust but I don’t see how constantly believing the worst about him is going to get that family out of the weeds nor do I think that his wanting to be trusted abusive behavior.
I fear that a number of assumptions are being made that have become a familiar refrain in many of the otherwise very helpful resources that are offered on this site and others.
Those assumptions are that men probably won’t change, women are probably the innocent party in the conflict and the pastor who urges them not to throw in the towel is probably a good-natured soul who is too shortsighted to see the implications of giving the counsel that comes from the main and plain readings of the scriptures.
I am sure the pastor would snap his fingers and change them both if he could but instead he has do for them what they may be willing to do for themselves, fight for thier marriage.
Maybe I’m missing something, I’m open to suggestions.
But when Jesus said, “what therefore God has joined together, let no man seperate.”… That has to mean something to someone, and I can’t find a biblical way to substantiate why that doesn’t mean something to this woman and her husband.
Patrick Doyle ( Christian counsellor on you tube) talks about how he no longer trusts seeing the fruit of the spirit as proof of repentance and change in an abuser. Over many years he has seen them faked far too many times.
Now he looks for behavioural evidence of conviction and comfort in the offender. Conviction comes with contrition which is the understanding that “I am wrong , I have no rights”. This state of mind is obviously lacking from an individual who is accusing his wife of not seeing the changes he is making. ( not particularly patient either, for that matter, after only 6 months of counselling. He did after all have a restraining order against him).
If he’s accusing her of anything at all, he’s not contrite.
If you counsel couples, Patrick Doyle’s videos would be extremely helpful. He has over 30 years of counselling experience and shares it for free. He knows what to look for and is super articulate in expressing himself.
Thanks for the reference, I will try and check out Patrick Doyle.
I have to say that asking anyone to approach a relationship from the standpoint of “I was wrong, therefore I no longer have rights” isn’t sustainable for very long in my opinion.
That sounds more like slavery than a marriage and it very closely resembles the “no rights” paradigm that women have been trying to escape for centuries….
Conviction ( and therefor contrition) is never something that should or can be asked. It comes from inside the person – a work of the Holy Spirit. Attitude and behaviour are simply outward manifestations of it.
Patrick Doyle articulates this in the first 10 minutes of the video below ( along with common pitfalls the church has fallen into, in dealing with these situations)
I noticed that when I watched the link you provided. While there are some very good things said in that interview, I disagree with both of what you reiterated.
First, of course conviction can only come by the work of the Holy Spirit but we are told in scripture to go and show our brother his sin if we have been wronged. You can’t just wait until the offending party “gets it.”
Second, I think Patrick has no basis for defining “Contrition” as “I have no rights.”
In Psalm 51:17, the passage they cited in the interview, the word is Dakah which means to be crushed and broken. It clearly communicates the notion of godly sorrow over ones transgression.
The notion that this sorrow is accompanied by an abdication of rights in a relationship is simply made up as far as I can tell.
Do you know what basis Patrick has for making this claim?
Hi James, I choose to trust a man with over 30 years experience counselling in abuse, who he himself has been severely abused at the hands of his father, and freely admits to his own addictions.
I won’t engage with you in a Biblical debate.
The man in question ( in the original letter) has a restraining order against him, he has been told his sin.
This kind of Biblical justification on your part is crazy making. I’ve given you the benefit of learning from someone who is well respected and works with counsellors such as yourself to help you to help marriages.
If you choose not to learn from him, that’s up to you.
I have no intentions of drawing you into a debate. I assumed that you may know more about Doyle’s approach which is why I asked the question I asked. If you don’t know, that is ok with me.
I am aware that the man of the email had a restraining order against him. Presumably they have dealt with enough of the issues that he is living back at home.
As far as your accusation against me of biblical justification and “crazy making,” I feel that this is an unfair accusation.
I may or may not continue to consider his material. I thank you for going to the trouble of posting it.
I retain the right to disagree with him and with you just as you retain the right disagree with me.
I won’t accuse you of wrongdoing if you disagree with me, will you give me the same courtesy?
The Lord’s Blessings be with you.
The part about having no rights simply means that he has come to a place of humility where he stops pressuring her to give in to him. All of us have only one ‘right’ and that is to go to hell for our sins. Everything else is a privilege. Having expectations of someone whom you have traumatized for many years is cruel. Only setting people completely free gives them the peace to come back to you.
Also, I have come to see that actions mean very little. Stopping the yelling is such a small part of the trauma that I would not even see that as progress. I kept getting, “So what do you want me to DO?” And, “Aren’t I ‘DOING’ better?” And the abuse became more passive aggressive and sneaky. Abuse with a smile and a kiss and even flowers is still abuse. It is all in the attitude. Attitude is everything. Otherwise we have white-washed tombs. I can take all kinds of slip-ups and mistakes if I feel an attitude of respect and humility. First, toward God. Then toward others. Marriage issues are spiritual issues. Having the mind of Christ is essential.
Ok James. I admit that your questions triggered me (questioning me is a tactic that has been used against me all my life to undermine and create self doubt, in order to win).
I apologize for projecting that onto you.
I do hope that you continue to read and learn more about abuse. Wether there are outward signs or not ( or wether those outward signs are “under control”) is not what to focus on, it is, as Connie said, all about attitude.
I can imagine it is very difficult to discern when two people are sitting in your office. If there’s doubt, counsel them separately. The possibility of doing more harm is very real.
Destructive marriages need to be handled completely different than difficult ones. That’s why I highly recommend P. Doyle.
He gets it.
No need to apologize. May the Peace of the Lord be with you.
James, I ditto what Laura says. I know Patrick Doyle. Like we all do, he says things on the fly that might not clearly articulate his heart and beliefs, unless he can explain them more in detail. I have found this man to be used in my own life by God to cause me to think deeply,search my own heart,pray, and come to my own convictions. He is worth listening to more than once and giving prayerful consideration to. BTW, I really admire you for posting here! We still have wounds and many have been healed, but it can be intimidating to share your convictions with a group of women who have been through abuse! Thank you!
Sir, I believe you are assuming this woman and many women on this site are just as guilty as the abuser or supposed abuser. We do not come here to judge individual truth but to show unconditional support to women we can only assume are truly abused. No, it’s not ideal and there are surely some women that are just as much part of the problem. We obviously cannot be sure and know God will surely be aware of the true situation. We are only trying to love and support. If one chooses to lie, no we won’t know. The very idea of a “support group” is unconditional support if we see ourselves in another’s story. Women are advised over and over to search themselves and God’s word. That’s all we can do. This site is obviously not the only resource to be consulted. We are just trying to minister to likely broken and despairing souls because most of us have suffered from abuse as well.
“Sir, I believe you are assuming this woman and many women on this site are just as guilty as the abuser or supposed abuser.”
No, I do not assume this. I hope that you realize that I have the utmost compassion for the women on this site who are hurting.
There are some assumptions I do make:
First, I assume that the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
Second, I assume that there are very few conflicts in which one person is 100% righteous and the other is 100% at fault.
Third, I do think that we might want to question a few things. One of which are the very fuzzy definitions that get tossed around. Another is the unspoken assumption that every woman has the right not only to be heard and taken seriously (which I think we absolutely should do) but has the right be believed as 100% accurate when she is frustrated or angry (which I think we should doubt given a proper theology of sin). Another assumption I think we should question is that a man accused of abuse is guilty until proven innocent.
Fourth, I assume that it is part of the sinful nature to be able to see the sins of others clearly while being blind to our own sin and consequently when we report a conflict to another we are all likely to mitigate our contribution and highlight the contributions of others. In short, we are frequently either the hero or the victim in our own stories.
That’s why you can have a husband tell his side of a story and the wife tell her side and the are completely different while they both vehemently maintain they are telling the truth.
I don’t know anyone around here well enough to assume anything about their guilt and/or innocence. I don’t know the young lady who emailed Leslie, her husband or her pastor well enough to pass judgment. And that’s precisely my point.
Neither do any of you.
So we should probably not cloak the husband in a garment of darkness nor should we presume that this pastor is a coward or even giving short-sighted counsel. Leslie got an email. I don’t think I’m off base suggesting that this pastor has spent significantly more time with this couple and perhaps has more insight into the situation. Maybe he knows something we don’t. Are you willing to entertain that as possible?
“We do not come here to judge individual truth but to show unconditional support to women we can only assume are truly abused.”
And you are right not to do so. I’m not here to judge anyone individually either. Not the women who are hurting nor their husbands (who might also be hurting), and certainly not their pastors (who I KNOW receive more than their fair share of fiery darts).
“We are only trying to love and support. If one chooses to lie, no we won’t know. The very idea of a “support group” is unconditional support if we see ourselves in another’s story.”
And I think that you do that very well. You love and support one another in a way that is quite commendable. There is great value in the ability to see yourself in another’s story. It helps us to reach out to them and minister to them. It also helps us to be more compassionate, good things all. It is also helpful for us to remember that our story isn’t their story. And it can be very dangerous to project our story onto another’s story. I had to learn this the hard way myself. I used to get absolutely enraged at alleged abusive men because that was my story growing up. I became judge, jury, and executioner at the drop of a hat because in my eyes every angry man was my dad, and I KNEW he was guilty. Furthermore, I wanted to punish that man like I wanted to punish my dad.
I had to learn that it isn’t right to look at all men through the lens of how my dad hurt me.
“Women are advised over and over to search themselves and God’s word. That’s all we can do. This site is obviously not the only resource to be consulted. We are just trying to minister to likely broken and despairing souls because most of us have suffered from abuse as well.”
I know, please don’t take my dialog as a sign that I stand against this site or you fine ladies. I think y’all are one of the good guys 🙂
James, maybe I missed your background. Are you a recovering abuser? What brings you to this site?
I am a pastor who counsels. I was brought to this site after reading one of Leslie’s books.
I am not a recovering abuser though I have no stones to throw at those who are.
Thanks James, you talk truth and bring up some important points. But here what we most often look at are repetitive patterns of abusive behavior, over and over again that is not changed or repented of that begins to wear away at the very soul and spirit of a person. Whether it done by a husband or a wife Proverbs makes it clear that living with a contentious and argumentative person is tough and toxic.
I think there is a difference between two people treating each other poorly and an abusive situation.
Abuse is not a marriage problem. Abuse happens because the abuser has an entitlement mindset. He/she thinks they are entitled to certain treatment. Abuse is about power and control. Unfortunately , if the victim responds poorly, instead of focusing on the abuse, focus is shifted to the behavior of the victim. When my husband doesn’t get his way, he puts me down. Now our kids are older and he’s doing the same thing to them. If it were a marriage problem, he would not do that to the kids.
If a person who was sexually assaulted came to you, would you tell them you had to hear the the perpetrator’s side of the story? People who have been abused need to be believed. They have been ill treated and often times are confused. Some of them may be suffering from PTSD.
Putting them in the same room with the abuser often times causes them to be traumatized again. Opening up to someone in the first place was probably really difficult.
There are wolves in sheep clothing in the church. These individuals do not want mutually respectful relationships with each other. They want power, recognition etc. As a pastor, it’s important to be aware of this. There is no way to have a relationship with such a person. These people usually feel their illtreatment of others is justified. Many people are married to such characters.
Since you mentioned you are trying to learn more about this issue:
A good book to read is In the Mind of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.
Thank you for this response to James’s input! Which is eerily similar to what I experienced with my pastor. Similar to what many of the women on here have described as their experience in counseling. It’s not James’s job to make judgements as to validity of facts in each of these situations. Opening up about the ABUSE we’ve experienced not being believed…again is brutally tragic.. This is a place for healing. .not for judgement, finger pointing and more of the same disregard for abuse in a marriage.
I am very sorry for the situation that you find yourself in. No one should have to deal constantly with being put down or seeing their children put down. The bible clearly tells us not to let any unwholesome talk to come out of our mouths but only what is helpful for building others up. I hope you have a church that will stand with you as you seek to call your husband to repentance.
I hope you can understand the precarious situation that pastors are in. When one spouse accuses the other of abuse we must do our best to protect the accuser while at the same time reminding ourselves of Prov 18:17.
For example, a woman sought counsel from our church claiming her husband was emotionally abusive and controlling. If we had assume her husband was guilty before proven innocent we would not have discovered that she was a compulsive spender. He had cancelled credit cards in order to keep the family from bankruptcy (she had claimed he did so to control her financially). He constantly was inquiring about her whereabouts because he had caught her in 2 separate affairs in their less than 10 year marriage together.
She said he was an angry man who yelled at her and called her names but she neglected to tell us that, mostly, he yelled at her when she got angry at him and began slapping him, kicking him and spitting on him.
When confronted during counseling, she said her actions were not abuse because he was a man and she was a small woman. She said a real man should be able to take that kind of behavior from a woman. She also said it was not abuse because he deserved it when he got annoying.
If we had simply said that she had the right to be believed because she was the first to present her case, or if we assume she had the right to be believed because she was a woman, we would have been complicit in her abuse of her husband.
So while I agree that we cannot afford to receive women who are seeking help from abusive situations with suspicion, we also cannot afford to be too simplistic and accede to maxims which I think are simply gender bias in therapeutic garb.
To be clear I am not claiming that your story or the stories of anyone else on this site are disingenuous in any way. I am saying that there is a call to discernment for pastors like myself that can’t be solved solely by appealing to the principle that “victims need to be believed.” In many ways, that principle begs the question.
James, by believing the victim, you run the risk of being deceived by a few insincere liars. By not beieving the victims, you run the risk to retraumatizing the truthful l ones. Bullies can be very convincing liars. And things get cloudy when they talk about the victim’s faults. Both men and women can be victims of abuse, I’m not asking you to believe just women. I’m not sure if you truly understand what we’re going through. I feel like you are saying the right words, expressing sympathy, but you don’t quite understand. I grew up in a Christian home, met my husband in my mid to later 20’s, didn’t believe in dating unless it was for marriage. I knew nothing about abuse till I experienced it. My husband is very different outside the home. Many people don’t have a clue that he is emotionally abusive. Again I think it would be great if you could walk along side a victim, hopefully one who is responding well, let he/she call you when things are chaoticit will open your eyes at the games an abuser plays and his/her manipulative ways.
I have friends and family that are supportive. I had a bad experience with the church leadership. All my energy goes toward helping my kids navigate through this insanity. I have none left over to help them understand. Many women are barely surviving, they don’t have the energy to build bridges.
Thanks Maria, I could not have said it better.
James, my husband does not think he has done wrong. He believes he has been wronged because will not respect him (treat him like God). One of the pastors told me to read Omartian’s book and win him over without a word and through my actions. He was uncomfortable talking to my husband. Another told me I had to be doing something really awful for my husband to react badly.
“Those assumptions are that men probably won’t change, women are probably the innocent party in the conflict and the pastor who urges them not to throw in the towel is probably a good-natured soul who is too shortsighted to see the implications of giving the counsel that comes from the main and plain readings of the scriptures.”
With the preface that I in NO way condoned above behavior, I have introduced some of these same ideas and they were not well-received by some of the women on this blog.
My main point being, there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in between.
It is difficult to provide a truly comprehensive answer when only hearing from one spouse.
I have had to take a good, hard look at myself and see how I was contributing to my relational problems by being dysfunctional. God, thankfully, had me do a 180 and totally focus on working on myself and completely leaving my husband to God.
I don’t always see that adequately addressed here.
Are women and children really being abused? Yes.
In some cases do they need to leave, separate and/or divorce? Absolutely.
But it’s a big, complicated picture that is unique in each situation that requires discernment and God wisdom, insight and leading.
I in no way condoned **abusive** behavior.
I didn’t see your response until after I wrote my own.
I should have just let you respond 🙂
No, your latest reply addressed other important issues that merit serious consideration.
Sue I don’t think I agree with you- there isn’t one right answer just because God allowed your focus on you to work. Please understand the goal of this blog is not to all look the same. I believe it is ‘a safe place’ for the wounded victim to go, while she works out a plan for her life, and is able to be strengthened by other’s victories!!
I was attempting to share ONE (not the only) different way a woman could respond in an abusive situation.
I attempted to convey that with my last few sentences: “But it’s a big, complicated picture…”
I guess I feel the opposite is true in that only answer shared on this blog is that the wife must leave and divorce no matter what.
Just because the man has been seeing a counselor does not necessarily mean heart change has occurred. He could be going through the motions in order to manipulate external appearances — all for the sake of protecting himself and to make his wife look like the real bad guy (unforgiving). This is a common tactic.
Those of us on this board understand what the blog questioner means when she says, he “accuses me of not seeing them” (the changes). We know that an accusatory spirit is inconsistent with a truly repentant heart. The truly repentant heart is patient and understanding. Empathy and concern for the wounded person’s struggle is exhibited. Trust is not demanded. There is the humble recognition that because trust was destroyed, there is a responsibility to rebuild it… and that it takes time.
Your suggestion that her phrase, “appealing to authority” means she is possibly seeking the counsel of a pastor … is doubtful. More likely she is referring to the “male headship authority card” being played. She is probably hearing how she is supposed to submit to him, believe his word (not ask any questions), and move on toward reconciliation (on his timing) or else she is sinning… This controlling entitlement spirit remains present in all unrepentant abusers.
I agree with you that no final conclusions should be drawn because we don’t have ALL the facts. But if we were to just accept as fact the small amounts which HAVE been reported in this post, it is enough to see that true repentance has likely not occurred. Because when it has, it is confirmed through consistent actions and attitude.
oops another edit error. It should read:
Your suggestion that her phase, “appealing to authority” means HE is possibly seeking counsel….
“Just because the man has been seeing a counselor does not necessarily mean heart change has occurred. He could be going through the motions in order to manipulate external appearances — all for the sake of protecting himself and to make his wife look like the real bad guy (unforgiving). This is a common tactic.”
I agree, this does happen.
His behavioral changes could also be demonstrations of self-control and his gifts could be genuine attempts to show love.
How are we to know?
Given the golden rule, what would you like to be assumed of you if you were in his place?
“Those of us on this board understand what the blog questioner means when she says, he “accuses me of not seeing them” (the changes). We know that an accusatory spirit is inconsistent with a truly repentant heart.”
Are you open to the possibility that it isn’t so black and white? She has made accusations, does that mean she has an “accusatory spirit?” Can we then accuse her of being unrepentant of her own sins? Or maybe we all still find ourselves as saints who sometimes act like sinners. Change happens just as slowly as rebuilding trust does and he will NEVER be the perfect husband.
“Your suggestion that her phrase, “appealing to authority” means she is possibly seeking the counsel of a pastor … is doubtful. More likely she is referring to the “male headship authority card” being played.”
How do you know that with enough surety to judge this man’s heart?
“I agree with you that no final conclusions should be drawn because we don’t have ALL the facts. But if we were to just accept as fact the small amounts which HAVE been reported in this post, it is enough to see that true repentance has likely not occurred. Because when it has, it is confirmed through consistent actions and attitude.”
Respectfully, this kind of judgment from a distance is part of the problem that keeps true reconciliation from ever happening in some marriages.
She has her perspective, and we need to be genuinely kind and compassionate giving her the benefit of the doubt that she comes by her perspective honestly. She is hurting, we can’t discount that.
We must also extend that kindness and compassion to him.
This man will NEVER be the perfect husband.
Wouldn’t you feel frustrated if you had worked hard to grow and change only to feel like an accusatory eyes refused to see those changes?
Wouldn’t it hurt you if you tried to demonstrate that you are learning to think more of your spouse’s needs than your own and went to the effort of giving them a gift only to have that gift received suspiciously because you weren’t a perfect person last week?
Is it possible that this is this man’s heart rather than him being a faker and a liar?
We don’t know.
Yes, there are men who are “faking it” and those lying dogs return to their own vomit. Maybe this guy is one of them, but I have a hard time reconciling the act of jumping to this conclusion and obeying 1 Cor 13:5 and 7.
There are also men who are genuinely repentant who feel as if grace will never apply to their own marriage.
That’s a constant refrain from men I have counseled, they feel like they are constantly crushed by the law with no grace. They feel as If they aren’t perfectly patient, perfectly understanding, perfectly humble and don’t die perfectly to their own emotional, spiritual and physical needs, perhaps for the duration of their marriage, then they are accused of “only faking it” and they can’t ever get out from under the label of “abuser.”
Frankly, most of those men I know who have spoken with me about such frustrations have given up on ever having a mutually satisfying relationship with their wife because they will always wear their own version of a scarlet letter.
I have had to seriously consider ALL of this with my husband.
Does he still have tendnecies to be unkind and selfish? All the time. But so do I.
Is he, in his own way, trying to be a good husband? Yes.
Does it follow to the letter some script that has been devised “proving” that he is truly repentant and a “changed” man?
Not even close.
I was beating my head against the proverbial wall trying to get him to fit into this “perfect husband” mold to guarantee that he would sincerely apologize for everything last abusive thing he’s ever done in our marriage and never, ever do it again.
That’s not going to happen. He doens’t operate that way. and that’s okay.
What DID happen?
1.) After a many, many incredibly frustrating arguments that left me screaming, accusing, crying and being terribly miserable, he finally said,”if you never do ____(my abusive behavior) again, I’ll never do ____ (his abusive behavior)again. And we both stopped those abusive behaviors. That was over two years ago.
2.) After I left him alone and started working on ME being healthy, he has begun to SLIGHTLY respond differently to me. I am learning how to set healthy boundaries for myself and for him and that has been SO incredibly liberating for me and for him too.
He won’t go to counseling. He is impatient with me. He still has double standards and can be a hypocrite. He still says unkind things to me, scoffs at me and is condescending.
Could you all say he is being abusive to me?
But, you haven’t heard from him or his side of the story. You don’t know if he loves me or not. You don’t know his true intentions.
So, you cannot judge him or his heart.
You can only accurately share what YOU have personally experienced in YOUR relationship, but you cannot automatically assume that is what is happening in any other relationship.
Sue, when you started focusing on yourself, and taking responsibility for your actions, it sounds like your husband responded positively. Many of us here are not as fortunate. I for one, realized years ago that my reactions are my responsibilitiy. I focused on pleasing Christ no matter what my husband did. My husband has continued to behave poorly. He does not feel he is responsible for anything. I don’t think any of us here are looking for perfection. If our spouses would admit wrong doing, and work on doing the right thing, we’d be overjoyed.
The scarlet letter is a dangerous ruse comment among abusers. It is their unwarranted victim mentality. Lundy Bancroft teaches about this attitude. Don’t be fooled by such talk.
No you cannot judge or decide where the other person is, but you can see their behaviors, their actions and attitudes and how it is affecting you. An if a someone’s actions and attitudes are impacting you in such a way as to compromise your safety and sanity (for whatever reasons) you may need a break to get healthy, figure out what to do next and let God show you what needs to change.
“How do you know that with enough surety to judge this man’s heart?”
“How would you know?” (if his behavioral changes are rightly motivated)
First of all, could you please show me where you believe I judged the man’s heart? I think if you look back over my words you will see I made no rigid declarations – only statements of what I believed to likely be the case. That word “likely’ certainly leaves room for me possibly being incorrect and for other alternatives to be applicable, right? I was only stating what is often experienced by women in destructive relationships. Most of the time there is a demonstration of worldly sorrow where the man attempts to restore his damaged image through such actions as attending counseling and such … but then confusion enters in when this outward public appearance does not match the private attitude displayed at home. When real heart change takes place, there is no double-life. When real heart change occurs, it does NOT take time to replace destructive attitudes and thinking with new constructive healing ones. I’m curious, where did you get the idea that “change happens just as slowly as rebuilding trust”? I don’t see that in scripture when I look at the examples like Zaccheaus. His old way of thinking was immediately replaced with a desire to see things as Christ does and to do what pleases Him. Now, certainly as long as one exists in this earthly body, there will still be occasions of the flesh re-manifesting and seeking to regain control. I’m not at all saying perfection should be expected from the husband. Absolutely not. But there’s a BIG difference between having a slip up of a bad attitude/choice and quickly confessing it, taking ownership of it, and asking forgiveness for it …vs… ignoring it, excusing it, denying it, or blame-shifting it back unto the wife… With one response, humility is present – a confirmer of repentance. With the other, pride is present – throwing into question whether repentance is real. Why? Because pride, manipulation, lies… they all go hand in hand. It is not judgmental to state this truth. A repentant man who loves his wife and truly wants to rebuild broken trust is not going to PRESSURE his wife in any way and make her feel like trust has to be rebuilt on HIS timeframe and according to HIS perspective. Respectfully offered, if anyone is being judgmental here, might it possibly be coming through in the insinuation that women who take longer than X amount of time to re-enter trusting fellowship with their husbands are women who cannot possibly be following the leadership of the Holy Spirit? This communication is coming through in the paragraph where you speak about the men you have counsled feeling “they are constantly crushed by the law with no grace. They feel as if they aren’t perfectly patient, perfectly understanding, perfectly humble, and don’t die perfectly to their own emotional, spiritual, and physical needs, perhaps FOR THE DURATION of their marriage” (caps used only to point out how this reveals the possibility of resentment … Especially when reading the follow up words), “…most of those men I know who have spoken with me about such frustrations have given up…”
I find it interesting that their focus is being directed more toward THEIR frustration and perceived “duration” rather than outwardly toward becoming better understanding of the personal pain and struggle their wives are experiencing…
James 3:17 reminds me that a person truly desiring to be governed by the Holy Spirit ( as is the case with the repentant soul) will exude His wisdom and character. Therefore the work of the Spirit will manifest through consistent signs of humility, patient listening, gentleness, being peaceable, being open to constructive dialog, showing empathy and understanding, etc… Conversely, the Spirit provides red-flag warnings (blinking like a neon sign) that something is amiss in a heart when inconsistencies and forms of dishonesty are frequently experienced and FURTHERMORE are met with displays of anger, defensiveness, false-accusations, and resistance to questions.
There is no judgment in the recognition of this truth that out of the mouth/behavior, the heart flows…
First of all, could you please show me where you believe I judged the man’s heart? I think if you look back over my words you will see I made no rigid declarations – only statements of what I believed to likely be the case.
I think we have miscommunicated. I was not intending to accuse you of being judgmental, if I erred in my communication then I am sorry, that was not my intent. My intent was to question how you would know with any degree of certainty, from the information provided, what you believe is likely to be the case?
I postulate that a ton of what we assume about the backstory of this guy (and many other men) is purely conjecture.
And I honestly see a lot of people assessing the situation through the lens of their own struggle.
This woman’s husband isn’t the same as your husband or anyone else’s husband. We don’t know him.
“When real heart change takes place, there is no double-life. When real heart change occurs, it does NOT take time to replace destructive attitudes and thinking with new constructive healing ones.”
In some sense I agree, but for the sake of brevity let me articulate my disagreement. If we are honest, we all have moments where we live “double lives.”
Have you ever had a bad day and were short with your spouse and kids but put on a cheery voice when answering a phone call from a friend?
To assume that the masks we wear just melt away the moment one becomes repentant is unrealistic and often places a burden on someone we ourselves have not been able to bear perfectly.
“I’m curious, where did you get the idea that “change happens just as slowly as rebuilding trust”?”
1 John 1:8
I doubt seriously that Zaccheaus was a perfectly generous man for the rest of his life for as you said, as long as we live in the flesh we will struggle with it. I see real trouble with any counseling philosophy that claims that as long as an offender still struggles in the flesh they are still branded as the abuser.
That isn’t grace, its law with the wife as lawgiver and judge. Furthermore, it’s not the gospel its marriage by works alone apart from grace. If we are going to live gospel-centered lives then we need to have gospel-centered marriages, at least in my opinion.
Nevertheless, I realize that no one is obligated to share my opinion.
For much of the rest of your post, I agree. Trust isn’t to be rebuilt on his terms or in his way or based on his timetable. Pressuring one’s wife to do anything is antithetical to being patient and it certainly isn’t dwelling with one’s wife in an understanding way.
I don’t think it is pressuring to say, “I don’t feel like you are giving me credit for the changes I have made.”
That’s just his being honest, and honest communication will be critical in rebuilding trust. Do you disagree?
There is another side to the coin.
Trust isn’t to be rebuilt on her terms, or in her way or based on her timetable either.
Trust should be rebuilt on God’s terms, in His way and based on His timetable.
“I find it interesting that their focus is being directed more toward THEIR frustration and perceived “duration” rather than outwardly toward becoming better understanding of the personal pain and struggle their wives are experiencing…”
Why do you assume that these two are mutually exclusive?
Many of these men appear to have a genuine desire to understand their wives pain and struggles. They also have a desire to protect their reputation and like you and me, are often blind to their own sin.
What standard of perfection should we expect them to achieve before they get out from underneath the law that condemns them so then can begin to breathe in grace in their marriage?
We are all much more aware of our own pain than we are of other’s pain.
That’s the human condition. Because we are all still sinners and sin is selfishness we are generally much more aware of our own pain than we are of other’s pain.
The woman who wrote the email was focused primarily on her struggles and her pain. I didn’t see anything about her husband’s pain or struggles. So what do we do with that, do we condemn her? Should we label her? Should we diagnose her with a mental disorder? Should we assume the worst of her?
Or should we understand that a woman who is in pain is obviously going to speak out of that pain and she is not coming from a place of compassion for her husband, she is coming from a place of frustration?
Hopefully, she will be able to look past her own pain and see her husband’s pain as well, but that will take time, and it won’t likely happen overnight.
Hurt people often hurt other people.
How do we know he hasn’t changed, that he isn’t just having a bad day and will change slowly? Oh, believe me, we know. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, we know. And no, it’s not law vs. grace, it is attitude. Hurt people hurt people? Really? Then we all should be hurting each other horribly. That is yet another excuse. About three years ago the Lord spoke to me, “No more excuses.” None. I was to allow NO excuses from him, nor was I to excuse him in my own mind or make excuses for me to not call him on stuff. There are so many clear indications of real change, and they are so easy to detect. The Holy Spirit in us gives us much grace to the truly repentant. Law IS for the lawless.
Your response is discerning, wise, and well-tempered.
Did you ever consider that I may be an intelligent woman making informed decisions about my marriage relationship?
My eyes are wide open and I am fully aware of the nature of my husband’s behavior, both good and bad.
I made the choice to marry him and I can make the choice to leave him.
Just because I’m choosing to stay, doesn’t mean I’m being “fooled”. It doesn’t mean I’m living in denial or fear or confusion. I’m choosing to “stay well” and I’m doing it in strength not weakness.
I could easily pack up and leave but I don’t believe that’s what God is leading me to do. He has given me HIS love for my husband. That doesn’t mean I’m a doormat and I’m pretending everything is just fine.
It means I’m setting boundaries in love.
I do feel sadness and disappointment that there is an emotional distance between us. I do wish our relationship was different and better. But, by the power, wisdom, insight and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am learning that I can live with that and be okay.
God has also given me His eyes to see the wounded man my husband is and how I can minister to him without allowing him to hurt me.
Could you also consider that God may be calling some other women to do the same in their challenging marriage relationships and not all men need to be labeled as monsters nor their wives weak-minded fools.
Please stop making these assumptions.
Sue, I am not sure what you are referring to. My question was for James. Did you mean to post to me?
James I agree with you but I think what most women here are looking for in these instances is not a perfect man, but a man who is humble and self aware enough that when he blows it, or repeats past offenses, he recognizes what is happening and confesses, repents, and owns it. Sadly so many women see their husband’s repeat their entitlement, blameshifting, lying, and even when they call them on it, there is little humility, repentance, or change. I think that’s why they are reluctant to believe any real change is happening. Those whose marriages have been restored, have not been with perfect men (or women) but more self-aware people, more humble people, more honest people who are quick to admit to a wrong and make it right. I think that is the “change” women are looking for, not that he does it right all the time, but he recognizes when he didn’t do it right and owns it.
I can certainly understand their frustration.
In my view that is why it is so important for husbands, wives and churches to follow the Matthew 18 process of church discipline. If a husband doesn’t own his sin, then clearly he has not repented of his sin and the church needs to be willing to go all the way to excommunication if he continually refuses to repent of his sin.
I agree entirely that humility and the willingness to own one’s sin are essential elements of repentance.
Thanks HisEzer for your insights.
James, thanks for chiming in. We appreciate pastoral insights here. I fear that so many pastors (those I’ve personally talked with and worked wtih) are ill equipped for really handling these specific kinds of situations and give the standard answer to a woman in very deep distress. I would encourage you to be open, to listen to the women’s story on this blog and how many of them get the “standard answer” without any real confrontation or accountability for their spouse.
Thank you for the warm welcome.
I am sure that many pastors are ill equipped. I am trying to equip myself to the best of my ability. That has meant taking certification courses in biblical counseling.
I will take very seriously your encouragement to listen to the women’s stories on this site. Each of these stories are another reason for pastors like myself to continue to learn and grow.
I am sure that for too many pastors have given the “just submit” or “try harder” without providing confrontation or accountability to husbands who are acting abusively and I assure you that I have no intention of acting in such an unjust fashion.
I want the church the Lord has graciously given me to pastor to be a safe place for women to heal, grow and forgive and for husbands to confess, repent and experience God’s transforming grace.
Though I might not agree with you on everything, I am glad for the work you are doing.
I can so relate to your testimony, dear Jenny, because mine is much the same. Yes! Jesus loves us unconditionally, now and forever, although our ex-husbands did not and broke our hearts. Jesus is our true husband, and will never betray or leave us. Praise HIM!
Praying for you, your sister in Christ, Sandra
I filed for divorce a month ago. Our entire married life has been a struggle. I knew after the third week that something was wrong. I also knew that divorce was not an option. There have been three distinct moments in my life that I know looking back, I could have walks away and filed for divorce. I had good reason. However, I held out hope that God would work in my husband’s heart and there would be a change. When I heard my son say something to me that sounded exactly like what his dad would say, I had red flags. i determined for my self with the help of a counselor that my husband does not respect me or my opinion. I finally had to admit that when my husband told me my job as his wife is to make his life as easy as possible, he was not kidding. I had no value in his eyes. He certainly did not cherish me as his friend and spouse. I just never wanted to admit that I had been duped. So now here I am, in themiddle of a divorce with minor children. Thankfully, because my husband thinks so poorly of me, he didn’t believe I would ever leave him. He was surprised when he was served papers at his place of employment.he cannot lie and tell a story to cover the truth now. He is so embarrassed that he is actually cooperating. I don’t think he has changed any but I do believe he got his wake up call. My kids will have a better dad now that he is working hard to prove that he’s not so bad he has to get divorced. We have been to five counsellors over the years. In the 15 plus years we have been married I can honestly say we have tried to make our marriage work. In the end, God gave me a peace that I cannot explain as I walked out of my lawyer’s office. I felt gods hand on me that day. I know He is watching over us.
I’m happy that you are making a decision for yourself Sunshine. I’m praying for you!!!!!!
To me, compassion stands on the pillars of trust, love, contextual awareness and textual detachment. To eliminate the inner turmoil, we focus our attention on God. . . .I don’t want the world to ever lose the center of Christianity, it is so, so beautiful (Christ redeeming us) but texts sometimes get sick and maybe (—but I could be totally biased) we have to heal them. We have to use language more carefully and restore meaning while equally having an attitude of vast compassion and taking loving-kindness seriously.
People’s lives are being destroyed by being around spouses with these issues and maybe God put certain people here on this earth to renew/ update these marriage models so that we can move forward in the church. Maybe these models need fundamental, serious renewal. It sure looks like it in many cases. . . .As I have said before, it is hard because at the same time others want to seriously update Christology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology. The same text principals and logic applied equally, fairly, in balanced fashion changes each area. . . . each —ology. I think God is pleased when we update our models but I don’t know how you contain changes. . . .but they are necessary.
. . . . . I was reading awhile back now the Presbyterian Assembly report of 1845 which concluded that slavery was based on “the plainest declarations of the Word of God!” Those who took this position were conservative evangelicals and among their number were the most respected conservative theologians and exegetes of the day (They knew Hebrew & Greek, context and taught in those fields including, Robert Dabney, James Thomwell, Charles Hodge (imagine that, Charles Hodge!), et. al. These were the fathers of twentieth century evangelicalism and of the modem expression of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, etc. As late as 1957 John Murray of Westminster Theological Seminary was still arguing that these men were basically correct in their understanding of the Bible’s position on slavery.
. . . .I think it could be shown that various Systematic Theologies absolutely hijack the entire Christian system, overriding the individual Christian’s ability to wisely make personal decisions while being lead by the Holy Spirit and wise others (RE: divorce; divorce sooner rather than later, etc.) The church thus fails to get its overall needs met in any type of balanced fashion. Pastors focus the church system on particular needs of the institution of Christianity in an imbalanced fashion (the image that a “Christian” marriage means staying married even if someone is basically on suicide watch or their marriage destroys their very person, etc.), while diminishing awareness of true needs: all spouses need REAL love and affection, et.al. All of these “needs” would otherwise be prioritized in a wise strategy for healthy Christianity (i.e. people are more important than the Bible “teaching” slavery or the Bible “teaching” you can never get a divorce except for this one narrow exception, or the Bible “teaching” you can’t get remarried, et.al.). . . . And I realize what a dangerous, slippery slope that can be.
Truth serves Life —vs. Timeless Truths. . . . I really do believe that so very often people see in the texts what they bring to the texts. . . .That is why it is so critical to bring a clean heart motivated by loving-kindness and compassion and work hard to hear the voice of God. When we are motivated by loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom (—I always beg God for wisdom but I don’t know that I really have much of it), the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just our individual selves and I convict myself everytime I say that. It is so, so important to be psychologically healthy and work very hard at remaning so because when we are not, all our personal defense mechanisms wind-up in our beliefs and theologies. . . . In fact, I think most systematic theologies are defense mechanisms against really experiencing and encountering God.
My divorce is final. How do I get my life back to normal?
I think I have forgotten what is “normal”
Violet, you have internalized his voice. You have to learn what you think. I find that this happens to me everyday in little ways. I have memorized all his rules, demands and grievances so fully that they ruled my thought life. I try to think and feel and ask myself what do I think? Slowly, little by little I am realizing what I like.
Your new normal will be fabulous! So much better than even the best day with an abusive spouse. It may just take a little time to unfold.
Violet, one step at a time. You have so much ‘newness’ to walk into. I’ve been divorced 14 months and everyday I think, is this really true? Do I really get to live life freely, and blessed and provided for?? I wonder if I’ll ever get over the feeling of freedom and ease……….
Violet, if you’re having trouble getting back to normal, I’d encourage you to Join CONQUER, and avail yourself of a strong support system of other women who know what your life is like.
A lot to commend in your comments.
Having studied systematic theology, I can tell you that much of it has come as a defense system against heresy and against false teaching.
But I don’t think this question is a systematic theology question it is a question of exegesis. Exegesis aims at getting to the heart of what a specific passage or set of passages says, systematic theology addresses what the Christian faith as a whole teaches.
If you have bad exegesis you will eventually have bad systematic theology.
I think I understand what you are saying and you are perhaps being more correct and careful with what you are saying than I am. . . .But, maybe, if you choose to, deeply think about something with me, something that happens before exegesis. . . .And maybe think about the fact that God wants both of us to learn something totally unrelated to our “positions.” —Because, usually, God is up to something like that in our lives.
>“If you have bad exegesis you will eventually have bad systematic theology.” . . . James, you understand how and why we have to do redaction and textual work just to decide what the texts are to begin with. Obviously, we have no autograph copies of the texts and only small fragments of copies of copies or copies for hundreds of years. The ancient manuscripts of these New Testament texts differ one from the other and the further back in time we go the more they differ. A 275 year —no manuscript— tunnel period of only small fragments exists before we have complete texts (And unfortunately that is the time when the texts are changing the most!) We cannot exegete/analyze documents we don’t have. . . . .As you know, Jesus and His disciples spoke Aramaic, a dialect of Hebrew. The Aramaic substratums, the oral traditions from which the Greek N.T. was written down, we have no access to. Our gospels contain sophisticated forms of argumentation and presentation that work only in rhetoric Greek (Not Aramaic) and they presuppose knowledge of the Greek Old Testament, not the Hebrew version, which Peter and John, et.al. would have had read to them in the synagogues. . . . .So, we have to make decisions as to what really are the New Testament texts on divorce before even asking what the texts mean inside culture, context, language, Christian life, et.al. . . . . For example, when you read Matthew (Matthew written ~90AD) you clearly see he recasts/ redacts Mark (Mark is ~70AD, written well before Matthew). . . . Matthew recasts/ redacts Mark’s teaching on divorce to update it for his situation.
. . . . Might the Holy Spirit lead us to further reinterpretation (updating) on this and other questions (slavery) through time? . . . . James, we can’t get behind the oldest known gospel fragments (3rd century papyri) and we can’t analyze documents we do not have, that are no longer extant. The eyewitness spoke Aramaic. The gospels authors wrote decades later in rhetorical Koine Greek. . . .To leave the historical consensus, because those scholars had access to quality manuscripts that are lost forever to time, always troubles me. How is it that all of a sudden we smart 21st century folks know what these verses and passages really mean and not what faithful Bible teachers/ scholars, many who gave their lives for Christ, confirmed? To me that is a “process theology” that is floating along with the culture. But, but . . . . what does God want me to learn?
For me, I have found nothing so sweet as a life completely committed to the Lord God. If you have experienced God regenerating your heart, it is the most incredible adventure of your life and you can’t get away from Christ no matter how far you travel and how hard you try, how many questions I ask. God is total, pure love and the love of God is the most strengthening and life-affirming force you can imagine. God can heal everything (—At least that is what I believe and trust Him for, even though I am still VERY broken.) Again, it is truly beyond anything I can imagine, His ability to redeem. But I am also trying to say something much larger: When I look at the intersection of Psychoanalysis, Depth Psychology and Theology/ Exegesis it easily drives me to one conclusion: Without vibrate, truly sacrificial, committed, living relationships with Christ, people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Without a central loyalty, life is finished. We ruin each other by being together. We destroy each other’s dreams. It takes three to make real love and real life happen in our marriages: you, your spouse, and the Holy Spirit.
To the person who wrote the question Leslie is answering: If you choose to, focus your attention on Christ. . . .I bet He will direct you to act with loving kindness to yourself. He loves you, you have the greatest value. He gave His life for all your worth! —All we can do is keep seeking God in Christ and let Him direct us. God probably didn’t give us those documents on purpose so we would not worship texts but instead worship God and pray a lot, LOT more for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Good words Maria. You have been faithful as many of the women on this blog have aimed to do. We’re just not responsible are we, for their choices.
Sue, please back off the women that didn’t choose as u did. Let’s keep this a safe refuge for a diversity of choice. There is not one right way to do Destructive relationships. Let’s have Grace and not judgement for each other.
That’s my point, Robin, as I shared in response to you higher up in the blog.
I feel like I’m being shot down as the bad guy for even proposing a different idea. That others are the ones who are saying it can only be one way- leave and divorce.
I just want to introduce different ways of thinking that MAY help SOME women, but not all.
Some will need to leave and divorce. Some may need restraining orders. Some may need to never see their ex again to regain their safety and sanity. I get that. I really do.
I’m just asking for consideration, not the be all and end all authority on abusive relationships.
I really like that James shared his insight as a man and a pastor. Perhaps there may be a few women here on the blog who can take his ideas, and evaluate their marriages and say, “yes, I can apply some of this to help my relationship with my husband to improve.”
For others, there is absolutely no way it would help at this point.
Ultimately, we will all need to make the choice of how we will live the rest of our lives as individuals whether we stay or leave. And my hope is that maybe something I share will lead a woman to a life that is free of pain and bitterness no matter if the choice she makes is completely different from mine.
Sue, From what I have observed, in general, women in abusive situation do not give up on their marriages when they realize they are in an abusive marriage. Many here have blamed themselves for the failure of the marriage and made excuses for their husbands. It is only when things have become unbearable that they leave. Of course, there are exceptions. The women here who have left after decades of abuse and experienced freedom for the first time advise others to leave sooner because of the destruction they and their children have experienced. These women are sharing their experiences with the hope that they are helping others.
I believe Sue that the women on this blog don’t just suggest or go towards divorce. Perhaps you jumped in on one case out of many and assumed that is what most do on this blog. I think the women are quite diverse and work hard to figure out which path will work for them.
I have to say that it is a delight to have a conversation with someone as thoughtful and intelligent as yourself. I am sure that I will learn a lot from our conversation on this topic, and, Lord willing, on others as well.
It is absolutely true that we don’t have a single, exhaustive, NT text, it is also true that most of our texts are compilations of textual fragments. I personally find that the amount of textual agreement between texts is remarkable and that the number of textual variants that we have that actually affect the meaning of a text are miniscule compared to other works of antiquity.
I won’t spend a lot of time trying to defend the accuracy of the textual corpus that we have but I would direct you to the work of Daniel Wallace, NT Prof. at Dallas Seminary as a most excellent resource in addressing some of your excellent points.
I admit that I come with some biases. Among them are that I trust the bible, I trust it more than I trust the theories of man and I trust it more than I trust the feelings of anyone, myself included.
I admit that I come from a conservative evangelical background that prioritizes the plain and main meaning of the text and that my seminary training has taught me to interpret the bible using a grammatical historical method.
I think the highest form of the Holy Spirit’s revelation is the word of God, not the feelings or inklings of people, Thus when someone tells me that they think the Spirit is giving them some revelation that is clearly antithetical to the word of God, I err on the side of the word of God.
I would argue with the more traditional dating of Matthew (around 50 to 60 AD).
Those are my biases, and I proudly own them.
To very briefly discuss some of your textual critical points.
I am aware that the spoken language of Jesus was Aramaic, but I also believe in the divine inspiration of the text and so I would say that Autographa was reliable despite the difference in language. I don’t think those two language differences was too much for the Holy Spirit to handle, in other words.
Regarding Matthew redacting Mark, it may well be that Matthew used Mark as the basis for his gospel (though I think other theories have much to offer) but Matthew was an eyewitness and the fact that Matthew’s account does not significantly depart from Mark’s is actually confirmation that both texts accurately reflect Jesus’ words.
Since I don’t happen to see any significant textual variants in Jesus words in Mark 10 and Matthew 5 (using Metzger’s work on textual variants), I’m likely to interpret the text based on what I know rather than what I don’t know.
Could another fragment be found that changes the way we view these verses? Maybe, but this isn’t the only two verses that substantiate the way the body of Christ has understood Jesus emphasis on the permanence of marriage nor was Jesus the only One who weighs in on the topic, Paul also restricted divorce in 1 Cor 7.10-13.
So I don’t need to continually pray to ask the Spirit to show me His will on marriage all the while refusing to heed what the Spirit of God has already said. I agree that the Spirit speaks to us, I also believe that the Holy Spirit hasn’t change his mind on these matters.
Now to the things that we agree on. I also treasure the experience of my regeneration and can remember the very day and hour the Lord moved in my heart to bring me to faith in His precious Son.
I also believe that apart from a life giving relationship with Christ, we will do nothing but hurt one another and I firmly believe that genuine, submissive, life giving relationship with Christ is the key for both this man and his wife who wrote the email. I thank you for your sweet reminder of God’s love for me. And I hope you are reminded daily of God’s love for you.
Thank you so much for your reply. I sincerely appreciate that. . . . and especially your prayers, very much appreciated. I only now have had a chance to look at it.
James, I always try to keep my mind open, so some of what you say troubles me but I always believe Christ teaches that it is paramount to have vast compassion and real love for suffering people. “Truth” that destroys people’s very lives is not truth (—like all the centuries the Bible was used by very learned, godly men to justify slavery.) Evil is unnecessary suffering. Why do I want to tell precious souls to stay married to, for example, hardened psychopaths? . . .Do I want to commit them to serve a life sentence? The Bible simply does not address neuropsychological measures outside of the norm directly: —interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, devoid of empathy, etc. and these are deeply problematic issues.
James, from what I can tell, often an abuser feels no real need to change, because he is convinced that divorce is not an option. He assumes that a good Christian wife is required to remain with him regardless of his treatment of her. Divorce is viewed as simply not an option. This attitude has caused countless pastors and congregations to ignore a major instrument that can be used to correct inappropriate behavior: divorce. Divorce is clearly the least desirable option, but sometimes it is a necessary option. —The possibility of divorce reinforces the serious nature of being interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, devoid of empathy, et.al. Again, “Truth” that ruins someone emotionally and spiritually is not truth at all.
>“. . . .I think the highest form of the Holy Spirit’s revelation is the word of God, not the feelings or inklings of people, Thus when someone tells me that they think the Spirit is giving them some revelation that is clearly antithetical to the word of God, I err on the side of the word of God.”
I know what you mean. —You have no idea how much I know what you mean. . . . but . . .Again, “Truth” that destroys people and their lives is not truth at all. I don’t totally like it either but God has set it up so that we simply have to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. That drives me to way more prayer. I too so wish the Lord God would have made all ancient extant Bible manuscripts indestructible, unalterable and self-translating (—vs. scholars constantly, I mean constantly! disagreeing over context and the meaning of words, phrases, chapters, paragraphs.) In the past, I have been so, so frustrated by that. —Why Lord???. . . The why is because God deals with each of us as individual persons. That is why we have a personal relationship with Him.
. . . James for every one Dan Wallace there are ten Bart Ehrmans who are equally competent and they demonstrate that the textual variants do seriously matter, see: “Inerrant the Wind: The Evangelical Crisis in Biblical Authority.” . . . . Of all the manuscripts we have of the New Testament, 98%+plus come from the 9th century or later. That’s very helpful if you want to know what the Bible said in 900 AD. But if you want to know what the Bible originally said, you are in the centuries (—the centuries) where we have NO manuscripts other than very (very) small random fragments. You know the facts, P52, et.al. is the size of a credit card. That means you have to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance or have a Pope to tell you what the text was (—but you know James that Pope doesn’t really know either.) Of the ancient manuscripts we have, no one knows how many textual variants exist but you hear numbers from extremely competent scholars in Europe and the U.S. that converge and it is tens of thousands and scholars know of a huge amount of deliberate textual alterations, redactions, additions and forgeries that need to be taken very seriously. See the “The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts.”
Without love and vast compassion (—yes, people will make mistakes and have self-serving tendencies) . . . without love and vast compassion, we destroy people. . . .I have never been divorced or remarried. I am not trying to justify a personal position. The men and women here are not getting away with anything. You don’t get away with anything, ever; consequences are built right into the very fabric of the universe. —Now, how do we go deeper with Christ? How do we love and worship God more? . . . like in speechless adoration! The Holy Spirit will always be nudging us and bringing to our memory everything Christ told us. The closer we stay to God, the more familiar we will become with those nudges and tugs and the more we will be able to trust them. I wish we would just get written orders each and every morning but God doesn’t operate that way. If someone is rationalizing a decision or action, the Holy Spirit’s direction should show them the error. I know for me, I am always, deeply concerned about my motivations, any desire in me for power, any wrong ambitions and motivations that are fear based, even if the “gains” are secondary. God’s plan for us is to live moment by moment under the direction of His Holy Spirit. —Do you know how hard that is for someone like me who wants everything detailed with subparts?
You are so right, Aleea. So many passages have been mishandled by the church. Here is a tiny little (but huge) example:
I agree and that is an outrageously good example from the Greek N.T. . . . We don’t want half of our brain/ spiritual power wrongly “shutting up” and submitting “for sport” if that was not in God’s Word in the first 300 years of Christianity. We need our heroes and she-roes! We need our precious men and we need all our precious women too. . . . Let’s love and care for each other and not have edges toward men or other women (—Note to self, Aleea, that means you too!!!). . . . . Five minutes inside eternity and I will wish that I had sacrificed more, loved more, prayed more, given more. . . .I believe that what Jesus wants most from you and I, is relationship and friendship. He wants to be involved in the big and small moments of our lives. So, how do we go deeper with the Lord, how do we access the limitlessness Love and the very Life of Christ? I think that comes from an unquenchable love for holiness (—as He is Holy), deep cleaning our hearts and keeping them clean. Dying to ourselves and daily living wholly to him, walking the road of love and deep compassion for those who are suffering.
. . . .And let me tell you something I do know for certain, if God is a cranky theology professor, we are ALL finished, every last one of us. The texts are far to complex, as are the multi-variate contexts they arise in. We simply do not know, many times, how to make a definitive determination as to what the best text is; nor do we have a clear picture of the transmission and alteration of the text in the first few centuries. . . .So, snuggle into the love of God for strength and refreshment, and keep asking the Holy Spirit to direct you and share that with wise others for feedback.
Thanks Aleea for your insights. I think they are so helpful.
Thanks Aleea. Love your heart.
Aleea, I really liked Leslies comment to you. You don’t need to be concerned with how your anger will effect your counselor. She is trained and can handle it. I hope you’ll talk to her about this!!!!
Thank you so much Robin for altering me to that. I did now see that and responded to Leslie.
Leslie, please pray for me (—and I ask that of anyone else here too), my goal is to know more of God Himself. . . . Not joy, not peace, not even blessings —just God Himself. —As everyone knows, there is a world of difference between knowing the Scriptures and stuff and knowing God. Who can fathom these mysteries God has concealed?
. . . .And James, I was so praying for you this morning and I hope you will pray for me too. It is just true, for everyone: God loves you, you have the greatest value. As you know, He gave His life for all your worth too. . . . . —Women are just extraordinary creatures but men are equally extraordinary. It’s difficult to lay down our “identity” even for a moment and see others beyond their identities where there is no Jew or Gentile, no male or female. . .et.al. The highest quality love is Gods (real love) and I believe the way to get more of it is to keep our hearts as clean as possible. For me, that is working hard to keep flushing out/ getting rid of my bitterness, jealousy with people, resentment with God, etc.
Thank you dear sister. I replied to your last, most excellent, post but for some reason none of my latest replied have been posted.
I am a man who can use all the prayer he can get so your intercession is much appreciated.
You also are a precious daughter of our Father and King. May His marvelous Grace lead you into ever increasing seasons of joy and peace.
I have prayed also for you that you would know the blessings of the Lord in abundance.
James, Leslie mentioned in one of her replies that you are a pastor. I have often thought that it would be great for a pastor and his family to walk alongside a woman who is experiencing abuse. I have friends whom I call when my husband is behaving badly. In the same way, if you and your wife (if you are married) could befriend a woman in your church experiencing abuse, you will understand it more.
If anyone is interested in Barbara’s book but has financial limitations she has a gift book offer you can read about here:
I am married to a wonderful and intelligent woman who is a great blessing to me. She has a lot of relational wisdom and I have learned a lot from the way she is able to set other women at ease and be a great comfort to them in times of distress. She has a soft heart for those who are hurting.
Unfortunately we have seen our fair share of abusive marriages in our church. She works with the women and I work with men.
I wish I could say that I’ve seen characteristically quick progress but the changes we have seen are often slow and victories are often hard fought.
Some of the more severe situations have resulted in church discipline for an abusive spouse. That’s always very difficult because so many see the charming side and do not see the darkness.
Thank the Lord, a few truly want to work toward healing their marriage.
Thank you for your suggestions, the are wise counsel indeed.
To James: It seems that from what I’ve read of your comments, you don’t believe divorce is “biblical” for any reason, other than adultery, and then the believer is not to remarry. In other words, even if the offender is physically or verbally abusive, and unrepentant? My ex-husband was all of the above and agnostic, and I stayed, and fasted and prayed for him for 57 years, until he finally abandoned me (otherwise, I guess I would still be with him today).
sister, I think you are on your way to seeing clearly and being able to make a decision for yourself based on what you are starting to learn. Another great book on marriage and divorce is Paul, Women and Wives by Keener. Great research is in this book. You will know what to do because you will be basing your decision on what you have studied and not what someone is telling you is right. YOU WILL KNOW FOR YOURSELF! Take the time of your separation to study that. You will have so much peace! Take care sister.
Another resource for your consideration is “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage” from Jay Adams.
James, you never addressed Sandra’s question. She was advised by ‘divorce is only allowed for adultery’ camp and her life was practically destroyed for it. We’d like to know exactly where you stand on this.
I missed that one. I thought I had walked through this somewhere else but I must not have.
I believe that a Matthew 18:15-17 gives the outline for an orderly process of church discipline. In the case of abuse where there is no adultery, the church is responsible for carrying out church discipline if the offender does not repent. That means going all the way to treating the offender as an unbeliever if there is no repentance.
Per 1 Cor 7 I believe that a non-beliving spouse who refuses to honor the covenant of marriage has “left” the marriage and so I would fully support the believing spouse’s actions to legalizing the non-believer’s choice to end the marriage.
Thank you, James. I guess I thought you may believe that marriage is “until death,” no matter what.
God bless you, Sandra
James, thank you for your response to this question. I believe the same.
There are two questions that remain. How do you define the covenant of marriage? And what is your definition of abuse? I believe these are the bottom line questions the church needs to answer with clarity for they define where the trouble is at its root. Churches and theologians are all over the place with answers to these questions. Therefore, confusion abounds and those suffering are left hanging.
Thank you for your thoughtful responses.
James, you never addressed Sandra’s question. She was advised by ‘divorce is only allowed for adultery’ camp. We’d like to know exactly where you stand on this.
Michelle, I considered legal separation at first but my lawyer advised against it and as I did research on my own I found out wives do not get financial support during a legal separation. When I filed for divorce I immediately received maintenance pay- and I walked toward that knowing anytime during the process of divorce (which took 2 years) he could have a change of heart or we could remarry. He never responded in anyway towards wanting a reconciliation. But my point is legal separation does not give the protection a divorce does. I’d check out the laws of the state you live in.
That sounds like good advice. It’s just that at this point, I don’t want his money. I just want him to go. But our youngest, he needs to help me financially take care of, and I’m pretty sure he would. I would lie to just take care of my oldest two and myself, by myself. Not sure how, but that’s what I want. No more living in fear for me or them.
Everyone needs to do what works for them Michelle. I had good friends that pushed me to go after what was due me. They said you are walking in fear of him and just want to get out- remember to look at larger picture. Today I am glad I listened to those wise friends. He would have kicked me to the curb. Today I have half of his retirement pension, 3/4 of his retirement savings, our home which is paid in full. I know you have to do what you need, but please consider your future!!!!!! God cares about you being provided for, and too many abusers get away with taking everything. In my state wives receive 50 percent of all they owned together.
Robin and Michelle,
Getting what is “due” to you is a difficult area to navigate. Like Michelle, I was just desperate to be out of the situation, away from the stress, and to put it behind me. Like Robin, I didn’t realize the “damage” that was being done and how precarious my situation was until a few years later in counseling.
Even though I’d been a stay at home mom for 10 years, I was confident I would get a good job and be able to afford life (I wanted to be independent and “prove” I could do it on my own). I didn’t have the funds for a lawyer at the time of the divorce, so I did it without one. My husband promised me I could have my things, including some items I’d had since childhood. 7 years later, I’ve never gotten those things, never got that “good” job, and receive absolutely nothing from him financially. I wish I would have those items and life would be easier if I had some financial help, but in some situations, it doesn’t/can’t happen (ie: it may be a financial situation like mine where you can’t afford a lawyer. Or maybe you are like me and are unaware that there are services like Legal Aid, so you can’t access them. Or you may be escaping a dangerous situation and do not have time to plan ahead or grab items).
Over the past 7 years through lots of counseling and the support of others, I’ve learned that whatever we do, we have done the best we could at that moment with the skills, abilities, knowledge, and resources that we had. I think this is what people need to remember when faced with decisions like the person in the original question.
Ok, you’re right. I do have my children to think about. We don’t really own anything, although I have my studio, and he owns the cars. I do need a vehicle which helps me with the kids and my studio. Today I will start research. I think I live in an alimony state.
What are the guarantees that the h would actually pay what he’s suppose to?
Michelle, I was not able to see how much damage he was doing on a daily basis to my health, until he was gone. My counselor wisely said- we need to get him out of there so you can start healing. Now it’s been 14 months since our divorce, and 3 years since I filed and had him removed from our home. I am happy and healthy and my stomach aches and headaches are all gone!!!!!!
This is a response to Connie’s post on
September 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm
(There was no reply button under it)
“The part about having no rights simply means that he has come to a place of humility where he stops pressuring her to give in to him. All of us have only one ‘right’ and that is to go to hell for our sins. Everything else is a privilege. Having expectations of someone whom you have traumatized for many years is cruel. Only setting people completely free gives them the peace to come back to you.”
“Abuse with a smile and a kiss and even flowers is still abuse.”
Oh my, so very true — in fact it’s the worst form in my opinion. I would much rather be hit directly in the face than to be manipulated that way. I never got flowers, but what I often would get is something like folding of laundry or washing of some dishes — something he does not do so it could come across as sacrificial, but in reality it was his way of forcing a substitutional apology upon me to put me in a position of needing to say, “Thanks” or else he could feel justified in his mind that I’m unkind and the real problem… He began to abandon this manipulation, however, once I began to find my voice and calmly (yet admittedly often through tears) call it out for what it was. “I’d love to be able to say thanks for your folding of the clothes, but to do so would actually be a form of enabling on my part. I can’t do that anymore. Manipulation is not OK. Your actions feel manipulating because of the fact there is a higher priority being purposefully avoided. You know what I need most… I need honesty, transparency, and your ownership taken of the harms against me, not folded clothes.”
Never once did I experience any empathy, understanding, or willingness to confess his destructiveness… Instead there would just be more anger (further confirming there was no motivation of contrition behind his “helpfulness”).
“Marriage issues are spiritual issues.”
To Connie and HisEzer:
Connie says ” to lay expectations on a person you traumatized for years is cruel “. Absolutely true! It shows that in the heart of the husband is still “all about me”. If he were focused on the damage he’d done to his wife, then he’d give her all the time she needs. All pressuring would STOP.
Pressuring after all is another form of control which triggers an abuse victim. A truly repentant man would totally abandon the “a man has needs” mantra. After all, their whole marriage was about meeting his needs and 0% about her feelings. It’s time that situation STOPS.
I meant to add this-
I TOTALLY get the appalling shallow acts of contrition- a sink of washed dishes or folded laundry.
I remember coming home to a made bed [although he’s always the last one out of the bed so he should have been the one making up the bed EVERYDAY].
I knew that meant:
I realize I went too far keeping you for half the night for a yelling tirade, but I’m too proudful to SAY IT so I’ll just DO a couple of simple gestures. Then we’re all good, right?
Here’s my mental response-
???? A few ‘acts’ of kindness does not erase the damage you did to my soul. It doesn’t move you into the ‘good husband ‘ club. it does not mean I owe you obligatory sex and just in case you’re really DELUSIONAL, this doesn’t elicit any sincere sexual DESIRE in me for you. In fact, it repulses me.
Dear H, It never was about bedding, dishes, jewelry, laundry. If you have figured out that maybe completing a chore we both know you never do as a way out of addressing the real trouble, it seems reasonable you have understanding of the real issues I have tried to communicate to you for years (or decades). Stop worrying about the bed getting made. That’s not what’s wrong. Signed, W.
Oh my gosh! Your letter sounds so appropriate to my situation. Could I borrow it? I would say:
That little box of Chips Ahoy you got from the gas station that you’re calling a peace offering won’t cover the damage to my soul. It won’t clean up the raw eggs you threw across the kitchen towards me. It won’t fix the crack in the door you backed me up against when you punched it, it won’t erase your angry face from my mind from when you got nose to nose with me, yelling so hard I felt the spit from your words on my face, And those two dresses? Really, you shouldn’t have. And I mean that. They symbolize another horrible incident. Where is our symbolism of resolution? When will you get to the heart of the matter instead of trying to cover it up with edible and wearable things or that famous supposed ‘makeup s-e-x’?
Don’t buy me anymore ‘things’! And stop getting angry when you don’t sense sincere desire from me. Clearly, I am not you.
MY! The gas station gifts!!!!! Yes, half dead flowers or Rose bud or a .25 chocolate or two! WOW H! I’m really feelin the repentance now! What’s sad is I used to be grateful he even thought of me when he stopped to get himself something. you really tried there! Boy do I feel special! NOT!!! Especially when the are gifts for special occasion. Mine actually bought me alcohol for 20 year anniversary and I quit drinking 19 years ago.
I agree, a truly repentant man is not so focused on “his needs” anymore but learning to care for her needs and inviting her to express her needs without fear.
Really! The heart thing and all? I was told it’s anxiety. It occurs mostly when I’m physically exerting myself or even when I think about my homelife. One day last week it just came over me after lunch at work; and it stayed until about 7:30pm when I decided to read something aloud to my daughter that was funny. We laughed outloud and eventually I noticed my heart calmed down. That was a strange experience.
I understand your statement about ‘a man has needs’. But still it confuses me that that has to be so important, but ‘it’ is no longer is the sacred thing that keeps the two close together. I’m sick of it and over it. My main concern is what this is doing to my oldest two children (12 and 14), and what it could do to my youngest (6) if we were to split. Its a heartbreak either way.
I read something in my quiet time this morning that has me thinking and relying more on Psalm 32:8. It said, “And I may be called to walk through this world with a bright smiling face while my heart is breaking.” And that is my cross to bear. I am relying on God’s instruction on my next steps. Is it to stay, leave, or wait a little longer. I heard that when you don’t have a clear answer, then it could be that you are on the right track. So, I suppose I need to find that bright smiling face for today. Hopefully, I will be more successful at it than yesterday.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m happy you were able to get away.
I have always heard, read about, and believed that stress is bad for you and can cause physical ailments. I have never really suffered except a headache or upset stomach every now and then. I’ve always used excercise, particularly running to help relieve my stress and anxiety. But sometimes even in my running, my heart starts feeling funny again. Palpitations. I have joined my kids in martial arts. I believe it’s helping, but over the past several months, during about half my classes, the palpitations begin and I just don’t feel good from it. It seems to me unbelievable that stress over one person could really cause me all this angst leading to such physical changes and discomforts. And my h tells me how I need to go get it checked. He is blind to the idea that it’s our homelife. That he may be a big part of it. He doesn’t have insurance on me, and he doesn’t make an appointment for me or give me the money I need to have an appointment. I’m not sure how serious he is or if he thinks I’m just making this up.
Michelle, it would be wise for you to see a physician about your symptoms. Why aren’t you included in the insurance policy?
My husband said it cost too much for the both of us.
Perhaps I could save up and make the appt myself. I just took care of expensive headlights, inspection, and registration after my h let me drive the car 2 months past the expiration date. I’m going to give him my monthly contribution minus the amount I just spent. He’ll get receipts instead. I went ahead and took care of it because I was so afraid of getting a ticket. I don’t know why he would let me drive like that.
Michelle, Sounds like your husband is unreliable and not looking out for your good. It may not be wise be blindly submit to him.
I’m starting to see that, but its still hard to remember to not believe everything he says completely. As honest as he claims to be, his truth is different from the way I see and hear it, and my older kids catch him on it and are confused as well.
Michelle, Do his actions match his words? If not don’t believe what he’s saying.
When people spin the facts or withhold information to make things look one way but it is really another, it is confusing, and it is not telling the whole truth.
It is your husband’s responsibility to make sure you have access to medical care that equals or exceeds his own. This isn’t a matter of perspective. The bible is crystal clear on this point. Ephesians 5:28 and 1 Tim 5:8 leave no room for imaginative attempts to wiggle out of that responsibility.
If he can’t afford to cover you and the children on his employer paid insurance policy then its time to start downgrading some things so that you can have appropriate medical coverage.
Have you spoken with your pastor or a counselor in the area to address this area of concern?
Michelle, I don’t know what state you’re in so why don’t you google it and see what you find in your state .
The day I filed, my lawyer said, it doesn’t matter if you’re a prostitute standing on the street corner- in the state of Washington both spouses get 50 per cent. He can argue all he wants, and it will do no good, standing up against the judge and the law.
Michelle, not covering you with insurance, but covering himself sounds narcisstic. And unacceptable in a relationship where he is to honor his wife. I’m glad you’re starting to see, it’s time for some serious change.
Well he did say it was really expensive, but then again, I have noticed that he tends to round up or down monetary values on things, ie, income tax return, bills to be paid, etc, according to what point he’s trying to make. Hm, I didn’t apply that knowledge to the insurance. Hm. I’m still trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I guess.
Michelle, I don’t think it’s acceptable for a man not to provide for his wife– before himself. This makes me so angry for you!!!!
I didn’t quite see it that way. I’m trying to remember exactly how he explained his reasoning that day. He has a way of making things sound like whatever he needs them to, then later I think about it and wonder happened.
I lived much of what you are, Michelle. My husband had insurance on me but wouldn’t pay co-pays. He also verbally abused me because I was weak and needed to go to doctor a lot. I had one illness after another for 25 years until I gained control of my own finances and quit believing his lies. I do not have the illnesses like I did when we lived together. I remember Lundy Bancroft saying ‘illness’ and esp continual illness is something he had always seen in abuse victims.
Lundy Bancroft? said that. I thought maybe it was just me being tightly wound. But, over the last several months other health things have appeared that I’m not use to. And the palpitations come when I so much as thing about what’s going on, or one night when he was yelling at me while I suffered with the discomfort and he just kept on. It’s verbal, it’s extremely emotional, it’s confusing,…
Robin, whenever you disclose more about the abuse you suffered, my heart goes out to you. Praise God you are healing. You are one strong woman.
Thank you Maria. My counselor has been talking much to me about all the growth I’ve experienced. My life is truly changed for good. I’m so sorry for men like yours that refuse to see your worth!!!!!
Michelle I think it’s quite normal to give our husbands the benefit of the doubt. But we also need to wake up to truth. I look backwards now and say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I really had that little worth to you??
I think we recognize these things as we get away from the Destructive relationship and realize how most people treat me with kindness and worth!!!!
What’s really confusing is when he’s ‘ok’, he’s nice and treats me alright, even nice. Except when my 2 older ones do something then he barks at them. He talks sanely as long as he’s ‘ok’, but then there are times when it gets crazy. He talks crazy, irrational, and accusing. Sometimes, I don’t know him. Well, more than half the time. Jeckel and Hyde come to mind often. I don’t really know if he thinks I’m a good wife, good mother, and a good caretaker like he says, because of the crazy times when he says the complete opposite. I don’t know what to believe. Confusing.
Look up the domestic abuse cycle on the Internet. It will explain a lot.
Okay, I will.
Michelle, many of us have lived your life. We totally understand. You need to make a plan to stop chaos and confusion. You can stay and learn from Leslie how to strengthen your core- or you can make for a plan of escape. Escape does not mean forever, sometimes it means, the abusive spouse gets a stronger boundary line. If he seeks for help and is genuinely repentant the separation doesn’t have to be forever. The choice is up to him.
I have come to believe that that choice is his. A few times over this summer I told him we needed to separate for a time of healing for all of us. I don’t know if it was a tactic, but he said if we did, he wasn’t coming back. I let him know that was his choice. Not the response he expected I guess. From there he would say things to our 6 year old, making him cry because daddy was leaving. The next thing I know he would cry or almost and practically beg me to stay. He seems afraid, Im not sure of what, but I have a feeling it’s a fear of what it would look like to his family. At the moment he is supposedly looking into counseling for himself, but I haven’t heard of any sessions yet.
Michelle and Maria,
After living 30 years with a man that abused me every day and it’s not because I didn’t attend counseling. I felt like I was born in a counseling room. I just have to say- if I could do it over, I would leave early on in the destructive relationship and save my children and myself from so many years of abuse. I do t believe personally you can save your children from the wounds from abuse. But I am learning to respect others views. I am a free woman, and the Lord has been so good to me – I’m so amazed. I had no idea how wonderful my life could be- while I was living with my abuser. I wish for both of you the very best, and I hope someday you will walk in the freedom, I have been given.
Ok, so I looked up abuse cycle. I’m pretty sad about it. Too many familiar symptoms. Sometimes not knowing feels a little bit better.????
Michelle, it does feel better – not knowing. But then your kids grow up and the symptoms of abuse has left them wounded for the next 20 years and suddenly you wish you would have understood more.
Not only are they wounded, you then have to watch them abuse and be abused, and you can’t say anything because they think it’s normal and that you are being the paranoid crazy mama that dad says you are. That hurts!!!!!
I sure don’t want that. That actually sounds like somebody else’s story that I know. And now she feels stuck and too old and too unhealthy to do anything. I don’t want to be her.
Thanks for bringing that to my attention. They are the reason I stay and the reasons I think we should separate. Trying to decided the better of the two options…
But not knowing isn’t good for you or your children. It makes you vulnerable to continued abuse and crazymaking. Light always is better than darkness, truth is better than lies, even if we don’t like what truth says.
I think that’s one of the reasons God gave me to leave my husband: So my two teenage girls would not finish their lives at home thinking this was a good, healthy Christian marriage and family. I essentially took a stand in front of them and their Dad and said this is destructive and hurtful to our family. Something different needs to happen for me to return. It split our family right down the middle and there was great tension between my oldest daughter and I. We hardly saw each other. But now she says she understands and we have incredibly open talks and love on each other as much as we can. I have prayed daily for my girls knowing God was and is at work in their lives so they will be healed, healthy, and whole earlier in their lives than I was! He’s doing it!
Cyndy good for you protecting your children and doing a very hard thing!!!!!! Thanks for sharing, we all need to hear from those who succeeded in helping their children not repeat the cycle!!!!!
Thanks! God keeps reminding me it’s a life long process. But He is so kind to keep giving glimpses of HOPE to reassure me that He is busy at work and won’t be stopping til He’s completely finished! ????
Oh my gosh, you two are right. At this point I barely know what a healthy relationship looks/feels like, much less my kids. A healthy one seems like a dream, a fantasy. All I do know is my teenagers are hurting now, and my youngest is doing fine having both his parents around. I can’t stand the thought of hurting any one of the three, but I see to stay, in the long run, could be hurting the youngest by possibly leading him down the abuser path. That would break my heart because he is such a smart caring soul. And my teens are simply struggling in this atmosphere as am I. I don’t want to keep the pain going or cause any new pain. So I wonder sometimes does one must have a little more pain before things can get better, i.e. Having to leave? A physical split in the family? It’s already divided. Hm.
I see my seperation as making tangible and real, what was covert and hidden.
It’s finally telling the truth of our relationship.
Seperation was a decision to step into the reality of the situation, instead of continuing in denial and fantasy.
It’s living in ‘ what is’ instead of living in ‘what I wish it would be.’
Hi Nancy, that is an interesting way to see it. You’re right. I suppose one would have to step out of the comfortable, what has become the norm, to make the necessary changes for the better. A new norm. A new reality.
Thanks Nancy, you said it well. Healthy people live in truth, in what is, not what they wish was true.
“I don’t want to leave hell……I know the names of all the streets.”
I’m just reading a book called, “Rising Strong”. The authour talks about the process of decision making after things go wrong, how we tell ourselves stories, how hard it is to face facts and rewrite the ending rather than letting it happen while we go on as usual and try to ignore the problem.”
That’s interesting. What is the author’s name?
Brene Brown. I found it at the local library.
Another resource that helped me a lot is a short free online course called, “You are a target”.
For what it’s worth, I’d like to add that there is one thing I totally disagree with in that book. She insists that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. I don’t think so. However, she does add quickly that we need firm boundaries with some people.
I like that book – it’s by Brene Brown.
Dear Robin: Thank you for the loving advice you gave to Michelle & Maria. I also stayed in my abusive marriage for way too long (57 years), believing if I just kept staying & praying for my husband, he would be saved, and the abuse would end. This is what my church taught was biblical. However, he didn’t repent, and the abuse only increased after our daughters married. My daughters and I suffered emotionally all those years, and I wish I’d had the courage to end the marriage, rather than waiting until their father finally left me, because I now have peace and freedom to serve the Lord as never before. I live to regret all those wasted years.
Sandra, I’m so sorry for your pain.
I understand the regret, but I hope you are living a fulfilling life today. We must forgive ourselves for what we yet did NOT know. I don’t think I would say I regret- because I know God uses everything in our lives. But yes I agree it is a heartbreak to watch the cycle of abuse damage our children. I have found the best thing I can do is be all I can be today healthy, always seeking wisdom, and watching for opportunity to help my grown kids!! God Bless You!!!!
Sandra, I am not staying because I hope my husband will change. I am staying because it is best for my kids. My husband is not very involved with the kids. We are fortunate that way. If I were to leave, more than likely the courts would rule for joint custody. This will increase his interactions with the kids without me in the picture. It would not be healthy for them. That’s why I stay. Each of our situation are different and we have to make decisions based on our particular situation. I am able to be healthy in spite of the dysfunction. If I were not, I would leave. For me, it would certainly be easier to leave, but I think I would only be thinking of my interests if I did that.
Sadly, abusive men don’t just “wake up” and change when they are enabled and excused and pacified. They get worse. The only thing that has a chance to wake these men up is consequences and accountability – hopefully by other men.
I wanted to add that I am fully aware of the consequences of my decision. I am being as proactive as I can. My kids are exposed to healthy families. We talk a lot about what’s going on, and discuss what’s contrary to the Bible and what’s healthy. I watch to see if negative emotions are setting in. I made this decision after much thought, prayer and counsel (even legal counsel p). It’s a fluid decision too, if things change, I’ll reevaluate the situation. Unfortunately, many of us are faced with choosing between two evils, and we have to choose the lesser of the two. If there were a guarantee that I’d get sole custody, my decision would be different. But even with sole custody, he’d have more time with them than now.
Another thing, I have not neglected my health in this- I exercise regularly, try to eat healthy, process things with friends and family, fill my mind with positive things- scripture etc.
How you’re handling things sounds a lot like what I’m doing. Talking with the kids, keeping a close eye on how they’re doing, making sure they know the difference between what’s happening and what should be happening,… I also excercise. I run to help clear my head. I joined my kids in martial arts for strength, self defense, and confidence. I try to eat right if the food or means is there, otherwise I make sure my kids have it. The difference between you and I is we are already a blended family. The two older ones are mine. My h is involved enough to bark orders at them and treat them unfairly compared to how he treats our youngest. My daughter now has an angry bent towards my h and my boys. My oldest son cries easily and doesn’t feel accepted here at home, except for when my h is out of town. So I provide other outlets of acceptance for him and to have a male role model, i.e. Trail life, youth night, and Martial arts.
As for me, I’m slowly feeling it take a toll on my physical health. I don’t feel good most days, so I try harder to ‘mind over matter it’.
I’m afraid a decision is going to have to be made, and it will have to be by me. And somehow, the second half of the year(my most favorite time of the year) is usually worse and each year it seems to get even more so than the year before. Strange.
It’s important that you take care of your health. Your kids rely on you more than they do your husband (from what I’ve gathered). If you got sick, doesn’t sound like your husband will take care of you. Things wIll get much worse. Before you make a decision, gather as much information as you can. Do you have people around that support you? Make a plan. Do you work?
Michelle, a good tool to use when making decisions is the ‘decision matrix’.
You can search for it on the internet for more information.
There are a couple of people. It seems strange there use to be others from counseling of sorts, but because I don’t get the chance to talk to them regularly or anymore, they may or may not be there for me. Sure, we pass by in church and greet each other, but not much to say because of time and there’s too much to say. So, it’s almost awkward. And sometimes my h is with me at church, so on goes the famous ‘parking lot’ smile. I’m trying to make a plan, I’m just not sure what that looks like. I do work at the moment, but it is a temporary position that I was trying to make permanent; but word has it the company is not doing so well and if they have another bad quarter, then they will have cut backs. I think my days are numbered. I also have a studio out of my home that I am trying hard to build up to prepare for such a change. I’m believing in growing a self-sustaining studio. My efforts are wrapped in prayer. Perhaps with the holidays I may be able to get a seasonal job or something to supplement my efforts.
Decision matrix? I don’t think I have heard of that. I will definitely look it up and see if it can help me.
I think my biggest hold up is my 6 yr old, the child between us. My older two are hurting and suffering as am I. My 6 yr old, not so much. He’s the golden child in my h’s eyes. My youngest sees, but how much he understands I don’t know. To stay will continue the pain and suffering of my two oldest, to leave would hurt my youngest because he wants his mommy and daddy together at the same time. I can’t stand to hurt any one of my 3 children at home. I feel so stuck.
Thank you for your suggestion. I’m going to look up that decision matrix now. My h is out of town til Mon morn, so I have the ability to look such things up.
And I think as Maria said, this decision isn’t always a good decision, but rather the lesser “bad” decision. There is no “good” decision here when your torn between the effects on different children.
Michelle, be very wise as you listen to Maria and her choice to stay. As far as I know, Maria has had a strong core and sets firm boundaries. You have been sickly, and unable to set boundaries such as letting husband not provide medical insurance or a decent car for yourself. Taking care of yourself as Maria does and recommends is much more than exercise. It has a lot to do with standing up to sin and confronting it, and knowing when to leave even if it’s just an hour or a day. Your situation desperately needs some change, and I would suggest one of Leslies classes if you havnt already. The fact that you have said repeatedly the older kids are hurting and not doing well signals a temporary separation might be best until he can abide by some of what you need- to stay in the house with him. I’ll be praying for you!!!!!
You know what, Robin? Thank you for your words. I suppose since I didn’t disagree with his argument about the insurance, that was a way of letting him not provide for me. I have this unhealthy relationship with money and self-worth. And he has said as much about how it since he makes the money, then it’s his…whatever, income tax return, his decision to spend as he wants or needs,… And since I have currently have a job outside the home as well, he expects a monthly contribution from me, where he still decides how it’s spent… Boy, this sounds worse by the letter.
Anyway, I know you’re right. There does need to be a change, desperately and soon. I have decided that the next time it seems he his going at my kids, I will calming ask him to come with me. Over the summer he said a couple different times when he was trying to get me to stay that he wanted me to help him. But, history has shown he mostly likely will not like that, but I have to for my children. I just won’t stand for another messed up holiday season. I don’t understand why we can’t simply get along. Why can’t it be that simple? What has he against my children? And why is he against me when I have a different opinion? Confusing.
I thank you for the prayers. I definitely need them, as does everyone. But prayer warriors I welcome. I don’t want to be sad or confused or depressed anymore. I want to be healthy like I use to be. I don’t want me or my children to live in fear anymore. It’s crazy! Psychological. Awful.
Thanks Robin, well said. We’re concerned for you Michelle and your children.
Thank you for you kind words, dear Robin. Since my divorce last year, I’ve found peace in the Lord and freedom to serve Him as never before. I’ve forgiven my ex-husband, although I couldn’t reconcile. He lives near my two daughters (an hour drive from me), and attends a church, and my daughters look after him. I teach Sunday school, help with the missionary and other church correspondence, and I’m also a Board member. My daughters are very devoted and dear to me, and I hope to be able to move near them soon as well. God is good! God bless you too! Sandra
Praying for you Michelle!!
Thank you. I really do appreciate that.
Michelle, I unfortunately speak from experience. He use to hold all the money and expected my paycheck too. I refused. It was his responsibility to support the household and he minimally did that. I had medical insurance but if he paid a medical bill he would sorely abuse me in front of adult children. Making a real scene . I still remember the first time I confronted his lie in front of children saying he had given me the money to pay and now I wanted it s second time.
In all your confusion understand it’s not a marriage but an arrangement. No matter what he says, his actions will prove the marriage relationship is not important to him. The last month before I filed he gave me $25.00 a week for groceries and household. That did it for me– no more withholding, no more treating me like skum. I’ve been divorced 14 months and never thought my life could be this good. God has so kindly and gently taken care of me.
So are saying it is really his full responsibility to take care of the family financially, even if I have a paycheck?
She may or may not be, but I am. It is his responsibility per the word of God.
1 Tim 5:8. There is simply no justification for allowing you to live under his own standard of living.
Mtnsrcallin, my recommendation after reading your last post is – don’t assume because a male pastor comes on this site what he says is truth or revelant. I also did not care for some of his responses. I’m not sure why a male pastor would want to come on a site for abuse victims that are mostly women. Even if his heart is right, he doesn’t have the tools or the training, to speak authentically to us. I would encourage everyone on this site not to let him distract you from the important work of your own healing. It’s really easy to get swayed to listen to him and debate. Does it really matter if he agrees with one of us– or is it just detracting us from our main goals????
Robin, I agree with you. I find things the “Pastor” writes concerning. There are shades of victim mentality reinforcement for men and it seems at time the male clients are doing a good job of manipulating him. Having said that, of course it is very difficult work and few are interested in helping remediate perpetrators of emotional, sexual and physical abuse.
“There are shades of victim mentality reinforcement for men…”
I don’t know what you mean by this, would you be willing to explain?
“…and it seems at time the male clients are doing a good job of manipulating him.”
I don’t know how you could claim to be in any position to make such a judgment never having spoken to any of them.
Would you be willing to explain how you can tell they are manipulating me without even knowing who they are?
I welcome James on this site if he is a male and/or a pastor. However, I hope he comes willing to learn that he may be short sighted on some things. I do not want this to be a site where everyone thinks the same and there is no new ideas or fresh air to challenge our viewpoints. I want that challenge to be respectful and without judgment, but James may want to challenge me or you some things, as we might want to challenge him. Ladies this is the real world. You cannot live in a cocoon where no one challenges your thinking or actions, just as James or other Biblical counselors or pastors should not live in a cocoon where the only “truth” they accept is from those who think exactly the way they do in every area. Organizations that support that kind of isolation are called cults and are unhealthy and destructive. We will welcome different perspectives here, as long as other people or their perspectives are respectful and they are also open to hearing challenges to their own thinking.
I know for me it usually proceeds like this:
1) Precontemplation*** (—Not ready to change. . . similar to a state of doxastic closure—I don’t even imagine that I need to change because, really, I don’t yet understand I even have a problem. — I don’t care what “doxastic closure” or precontemplation even is because I don’t know what I don’t know. (i.e. This is worthless nonsense!)
2) Contemplation/ Prayer (—Wow, I never even thought about that before! —Could that actually be true, Lord???)
3) Study/Contemplation/ More Prayer (This is an interesting, but not completely correct point of view —getting ready to change.)
4) Way More Study/ Preparation (—Ready to change, but now my pride is in the way: “This is true, but not all that important.”)
5) Action (changing/ humbling)
6) Maintenance (sustaining change) “I always knew it was so.” (—some level of pride is back, unfortunately!)
***Precontemplative means I am at the stage before contemplation even begins and thus does not mean denial but no real awareness. I don’t know what I don’t know.
Michelle I’m saying it can both husband and wife responsibility BUT
when he is providing things u need .
When he doesn’t pay for medical ins or provide u a car it seems to be enabling his sinful behavior against you. I kept my own money when my counselor helped me to understand my husband was robbing me. Why should he change if I give him my paycheck? There are things that need to make him uncomfortable. My husband raged and raged over it. He made 10x the money of me- he did not need my money to pay utilities and gro. It’s a control issue.
It makes me very angry how he so discounts you!!!
Ok, I see. My h does make quite a bit more than me. About 4x as much according to the tax paper I saw. And he has said that I should be able to make my contribution as if I’m on my own, but none of the bills he pays is any of mine. Our living expenses are more important than my personal bills( dentist, school loans,…) he says. He acts like my creditor more than my husband. He didn’t like hearing that and denied it completely, that it is unfair for me not to help, as if I don’t already help and do enough with taking care of the kids, their activities and education. If it were left to him, none of it would get done, except maybe for my youngest. When he goes out of town, I’m only left with groceries that he bought half the time, but no money for things that run out. How can he expect me to give him most or all of the money I have. You’re right. It’s more of an arrangement than it is a marriage, or a marriage that I have only read about and use to dream about.
Michelle, the right question to ask yourself is-/ does my husband take care of me?? Is he paying for the things I need?? Or is he taking my money and doing whatever he wants?? A good question is – are we partners in our finances- do we discuss how we will spend the money? Doesn’t he listen when I tell him what I think or need?? These are important questions and when I realized he didn’t honor my voice at all – I knew it was time for me to advocate for myself and quit letting him have full reign!!!!!
Thanks Robin. I will address these questions in my journal during my quiet time in the morning.
I just went over the questions. Thank you. Now I’m wondering, what does it look like to advocate for myself? Is his money our money? My money his money? What do I have a right to and advocate for? Use whatever money I have to fill in the gaps where he isn’t, especially if he believes his money is his money? That’s kind of what I’ve been doing, which has caused me great grief from him because I don’t give him enough. He doesn’t see where my money goes, and he hates that.
I appreciate your concern for me and my children Leslie. I really do. It feels strange right now because when he goes out of town he sends really nice texts and calls every night saying nice things. He’ll be home either late tonight or early tomorrow. As usual, I’m fighting off the anxiety. When he comes home I always try to make it last, but I’m determined not at the expense of my children.
Michelle, have you ever read a book on the abuse cycle?? That’s what you’re experiencing. One day he rages, the next day he is loving.
I know it’s difficult and confusing when nothing is consistent. Welcome to the abuse cycle.
No I haven’t. I have only read Leslie’s book on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Do you think these men who do this know what they’re doing? Do they really mean it?
Michelle, I asked the same question many times. Yes they absolutely know what they are doing. It’s hard to believe– huh??
They do? It’s so twisted. This is never what I anticipated for marriage and I feel guilty for thinking the thoughts I have. It’s just that they derive from my reality. And my h talks a good talk, but then his actions and the crazy talk comes out,… So confusing.
Yes, Michelle, they know exactly what they are doing. It is calculated behavior designed to maintain power and control over you. I know it hurts to think this it is true, yet it is.
Michelle, Does he treat other people like he treats you! Or does he behave this way in private only? If so, he knows what he’s doing.
Michelle here’s 2 excellent books to read so you can get educated on the abuse cycle .
1. Angry Men and the women who love them. Paul Hegstrom
Focus on the Family sent this to me
2. Why does he do that?
Inside the minds of angry controlling men. By Lundy Bsncroft.
I recommend them both to teach you and answer your questions. They are both reasonable on Amazon.
Ok. I will definitely look them up. Thank you.
I have watched my church leadership bail on couples, including my own marriage. I had a one- on- one with my pastor and sensed fear…fear of trusting the Holy Spirit to guide women in these situations and fear of things or people getting out of control. I know these people live the Lord and want to do right, but fear in their own hearts that haven’t received healing causes withdrawal and hurt to others. At least that had been my experience.
Thru years of having pastors not being helpful/ I learned most of them don’t have the training and so they lack knowledge. I think a personal counselor who works with abuse would be a better, safer choice.
Each church body and leadership is different. But thank God for those lay options!!!
I think it takes a lot of courage for a man in spiritual leadership to consider view points that challenge his own convictions and beliefs. It’s scary. But perfect love overcomes fear. Love and courage. That’s my prayer for them.
I replied to your post. Not sure if you’ve seen it.
The reason I’m taking the time to engage with you is because you mentioned you and your wife counsel couples. When I realized that there was something wrong with my marriage, after much thought and prayer, I approached a few pastors. If I had taken all of their advice, things would be very different for me and my kids today. I have never dealt with depression, but I think because of how desperate I was at the time, I would have been driven to possibly taking my life. I share this out of concern for the folks you counsel. You are in a position of great responsibility. The advice you give hurting people that come to you will affect them and generations to come. If you ask a woman who is being physically abused in front of her kids to stay in her marriage, if the kids grows up and is physically abusive, you had a part to play in that. When someone is in a desperate situation, they don’t need to hear a bunch of rules. What they need is compassion and practical help. I was told by my pastor that it is sin to hot have sex with my husband. But practically speaking, how was I to do that when the next day, I would feel like a prostitute because of his treatment of me. Because of the emotional turmoil I was feeling, my reactions were not godly. In counseling, I would be reprimanded for my bad reactions. It was only after I emotionally distanced myself, that I was able to work on myself and respond well. The funny thing is the person who reprimand ed me told me of a story of how he went off on an airline employee when his plane was delayed. He was not proud of his behavior but I remember thinking to myself he would have had many fits if he were in my shoes and yet he expected supernatural behavior from me.
If we were we go to a very poor part of the world where people don’t have enough to eat and preach the gospel to these hungry people, they would not be receptive. What they need is food. In the same way, preaching theology to people who are losing their mind because of abuse is not what these people need. Like Leslie mentioned, it is easy for pastors to give advise. But if they do, they should be willing to help in the practical things.
There is a perception out there that people take marriage very lightly and are quick to divorce. The stories you will hear here are the opposite- women who stay and have stayed in spite of inhumane treatment . God can chage anyone who is willing. Jesus did not go after the Pharisees.
I have just written a bunch of my thoughts. Hope they make sense. I am not accusing you of anything, just hoping you can see a different view point. I’m not sure why you are not willing to be open about your views on divorce.
Maria, I agree with you, and I would add to James to never do couples counseling when there is any hint of abuse. You will not get the full story from the victim because they are scared of what will happen to them after the session. Even alone, she may not open up for a while unless she feels very very safe, especially if she has already had some bad experiences with counseling.
I gave a counselor my journal once (and we flew a long way to go to this well-known counselor who wrote books). He read it at home that night, came back and said,”If this is true, we have a huge problem.” My h denied everything and after that I was a liar. My h had this smirk on his face, and after that we went to another counseling service but I was scared stiff to show my journal, even though that was the best proof of our problems. By that point I was too crushed and confused to even remember what to say. Why would I make up stuff to write in a journal? I had a large family to raise and far better things to do than write lies……I don’t even think I would have known what to make up if it weren’t true. Who would even imagine stuff like that?
A few years before that, I’d gone alone to a counselor my sister recommended. After my first sentence he started telling me exactly what my ‘marriage’ was like and I was dumbfounded how he knew all that. He said the only answer was an intervention (abuse – bullying – is addictive), so I arranged for my ‘friends’ to do this. They betrayed me and called h to come get me, because they just knew I was hormonal. Interventions only work once, so that was devastating. I believe that counselors have a lot to answer for.
Connie, I am sure sorry that you have been betrayed multiple times. It’s so easy to become bitter when that happens, but it sounds like you did not. Are you still married?
I was married for 25 years, then was single for 8 years, then married again 11 years ago. This has been very difficult, however, we did go to counseling a number of times, and especially Caring for the Heart was a very good resource. I would also recommend Elijah House, where I went with my 1st h. He refused to listen to the counselors, but they were very discerning. As I wrote earlier, several years ago the Lord spoke to me, “No more excuses.” I have since developed a very sensitive ‘excuse meter’. Some of the abuse has become much more passive, but as I have learned to emotionally detach and accept that I am more a maid than a wife, and that’s ok because I have Christ, it has become bearable. I have also become more my own person, doing things with friends (God gave me a dream about having support) and getting out by myself, giving up expectations. Having CORE strength is so very important. I’ve decided to ‘stay well’ for now. Maybe that is the coward’s way out, I don’t know some days. Divorce is far worse than death, it rips out your heart, it is never over, your reputation is toast…….yet in so many cases staying actually is death. There are more women in the US killed by intimate partners than people killed by war and terrorism combined, and that includes 9/11 but does not include those who have died on the inside. This is no small thing. And I’ve learned by experience that many men go to church (and/or get on e-Harmony) to find a nice girl. They learn to speak ‘christianese’ and are very clever.
After years and years of studying, I see how a certain type of person can come into a situation sounding very sincere and helpful, yet accusing a whole set of us with broad strokes while at the same time being extremely offended that they supposedly are doing it to them. Then, when called out respectfully on one or two things, they will suddenly switch to victim mode, “After all I’ve done for you and I’ve spent a whole few hours researching this and you are all so mean and nasty.” I really haven’t sensed anyone here with a mean attitude, just understandably cautious, out of experience. And when the ‘adviser’ so quickly makes it all about them, well, we naturally wonder. We are here because our empathic nature has gotten us into trouble, so of course a ply for ‘poor me’ is likely to bring a response of ‘oh so sorry we didn’t mean it like that’. That’s why we stayed too long and/or went back too many times.
Thanks for the reply, I’ve had a hard time keeping up this week. It’s been a busy week.
My wife and I do counsel together. I am also not unaware of the importance or the responsibility that I have before God.
Your story touches my heart in so many ways, primarily because I am not unfamiliar with abuse. I grew up in an abusive household with an alcoholic father who would go into drunken rages routinely. Which is why I have gone on record saying that no wife or child should ever be pressured to reconcile with a physically abusive man unless they feel absolutely reassured about their own safety.
I agree that churches need to support abuse victims financially and our church has a benevolence fund that we draw upon in order to do just that. The members our church give regularly and generously toward that fund and my wife and I have personally contributed sacrificially to that fund.
In the church’s defense, the kind of practical, material support that the average church will give to an abuse victim is a great deal more than your run of the mill state licensed counseling practice will do in terms of practical support. When was the last time you heard of the LPC down the street offering to take an abused wife and her children into their home?
James, sounds like you are trying to help these women the best way you know.
I don’t doubt that women are abusers too. The woman you described sounds like one. On occasion, when shopping, I’ve seen women who are abusive to their kids.
We have a shelter house for women in our area. They do a great job.
I have never been around an alcoholic, but I’ve often thought that living with an abusive spouse is similar to living with an alcoholic. If you don’t mind, could you please explain how you chose not to follow in your father’s footsteps? Do you have any siblings? How are they doing? I am terrified of the influence my husband is having on my kids. Please pray for them.
I imagine that living with an abuser is very similar. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I have blocked out all but a few of the most traumatic events of my childhood.
My first choice, which happened when I was in high school, was never to drink.
That’s a commitment I’ve kept to this day.
I have also had to learn early in our marriage how to “fight” (disagree) with my wife since I never saw healthy conflict resolution in our home. In fact, there were times my wife would say, “I can’t stand us fighting.” I would reply, “that’s not a fight, nobody has called the cops yet.”
I owe a great debt of gratitude to her for helping me through those years as I discovered how to truly listen to her and value her.
I lead one of my siblings to the Lord after I came to the Lord. He is doing great. He is a very talented worship leader.
Sadly, my other sibling ended up dealing with alcoholism and ended up taking his own life. He resisted any and all “Jesus talk.”
You are clearly a good mom and have a true heart to see your children living in a healthy home.
Whenever anyone asks me to pray, I always pray with them right then, so I’ll do the same with you.
“Heavenly Father, I pray for Maria, I pray that you will protect her with your mighty hand. I pray that you will give her your peace as she worries about the influence her children’s father. I pray that she will know that her concerns come from the heart of a good and noble mother and that she will rest knowing that you see and hear the cries of her heart. I pray for her children. Lord of hosts please dispatch your angel armies to protect them from the influences of the evil one. Place a calling on each of their lives, protect them that they may grow to know your grace and love.
Father I ask that you will bring to my remembrance Maria and her children in my daily prayers that I may be found faithful to lift up my dear sister and I ask that she and her children will see your hand at work in the coming weeks and years. I ask this in the Might Name of Jesus.”
Thanks, James. I just posted a reply to one of your posts above.
You were humble enough to realize that you did not know how to disagree with your wife in a healthy manner. That’s the difference between you and our spouses here. Instead of doing what you did, many of our spouses would tell us we are sinning by not submitting to them, that they are the head so their wishes go, that by disagreeing with them we’re being disrespectful. A lot of sermons cater to their way of thinking because they aren’t very clear. If our spouses had the humility to listen to us, we would not be in this situation. Instead they have huge egos.
You have going through a lot. Reading your story gives me hope. At the same time, I feel sad for what happened to your brother. How is your mother doing? How about your father? Did you experience anger? How did you deal with that?
I hadn’t realized it, but when Leslie wrote about this topic, it brought back negative feelings of my experiences with a the pastors I dealt with. Recently, I approached our Youth pastorto help with one of my kids. He listened to me, but it’s been months and he hasn’t reached out. Taking with you has helped a lot. Thank you.
I am glad that my story has given you some hope but my story is really all about Christ and His mercy because my life really turned around the day I met Jesus.
My mother is doing very well. Thank you for asking. She is remarried to a very thoughtful man. Together they run a business in a little country town. Years ago she courageously took steps to deal with her own alcohol addiction and she’s been sober for decades.
My father continues to be an alcoholic and will likely die of liver failure, which he already exhibits signs of having.
I struggled with terrible anger for a number of years. The first step in addressing that was coming to the Lord. Then I began the long process of forgiving my father.
I still deal with being angry and I often have to walk in the discipline of forgiveness toward him.
Years ago I started reaching out to him to reestablish some semblance of a relationship out of a desire to honor my parents.
I have recently had to struggle with the fact that when he dies, I probably won’t be sad about it. I’ve had to take a number of questions to the Lord about that reality.
How are you and your children doing with all that you are struggling with?
If you’d like to share more information about them I can pray more specifically but I also understand if you don’t want to divulge too very much via this medium.
You and your children have been in my prayers today.
May the Lord bless you in abundance.
James thank you for your prayers. Only people who know my story are aware of what’s going on. To an outsider, my kids are like any other kids. One of my kids was dealing with anger, I was able to find someone who helped. Since I have separated myself from my husband, the only way he can get to me is through the kids, and he does. Of late he has been bad mouthing me to them. Please pray that they will be able to see the truth. I’ve raised them in the church. One if them is questioning why God is not answering their prayer for their dad to change. They have expressed that God does not care. It is very easy for me to view God as a father because I was blessed with a wonderful father. Please pray that my kids will be able to view God for who he is. Please pray that my husband’s plans for ‘evil’ against us will not come to pass. Thanks again.
Could you please explain the process you went through to forgive your father?
How has your dad responded to your reaching out to him?
The process of forgiving my father took awhile.
The first step was realizing the scriptures didn’t give me the option of holding on to bitterness against him. So I prayed to the Lord to help me do what He was calling me to do even though I didn’t feel like forgiving my father at all.
The second step was to realize that while my father may have been the aggressor and abuser in our family I could not stand in judgment of him before the cross as I had also sinned and fallen short of His glory.
I had not made the same choices or sinned in the same way, but I was a sinner just as needing of the Lord’s forgiveness as my father.
The third stage of my journey of forgiveness was to try and empathize with him. He came from a family where alcoholism was prevalent, his upbringing was fraught with turmoil and expectations he never measured up to.
He worked very hard at a job he hated and alcohol became his escape.
What he did was evil, but it was not evil that he premeditated. Like most, he was blind to his own temptations, weaknesses and sins. He was acting out the natural implications of his sinful nature.
Sometimes I think we are surprised at the horrible things that people can do, but if we consider the bible’s description of what humanity is apart from Christ I think we will surprised that people aren’t doing worse.
When I worked through this I began to have some compassion for him rather than sitting in judgment over him.
I slowly began contacting him and spending time with him and that pretty much brings me to date.
He has responded. He hasn’t really every apologized or even owned up to what he did. He is still in denial and still gets uncomfortable when his pastor son talks about his faith. My prayer is that the Lord will open his eyes and his heart to the gospel.
Of course I will pray for your children and husband.
“Father in heaven, I lift up Maria’s children to you, please protect them from the lies of the enemy and give them eyes to see the truth. Help them to understand your will and give them faith to endure the situation. I also pray that you will change their father’s heart. Father I also pray that you will thwart the evil plan of this man and that you will, in your sovereignty, prevent him from anything that might bring hardship or pain to Maria or her children.
In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.”
What triggered me about what James said- was when he gave an example of a wife coming into him for help. When he found out later she had some issues that needed healing, I felt he was saying it was 50–50. I don’t agree with that at all. When a woman acts out after years of abuse, she definitely does unhealthy things until she is able to get some tools as I did thru Leslies books, video’s, and blog – which give her something she can work on herself. But that never lets the husband off the hook or makes it 50 percent her fault. Abuse is never 50-50. Had someone helped and listened to this woman, chances are she’d accept the help and get healthy.
Robin, I think it is Leslie who has said that it is not the wrong things that people do each other that kills a relationship, it is the willingness to acknowledge the wrong, and repent.
She was the abuser.
She kicked, slapped and spit on him routinely when they got in fights that she picked with him He cussed at her when she slapped, kicked and spit on him.
She came in accusing him of abusing her. Incidentally, she told him during one of her tirades that she was going to do so and when he pointed out that she was physically abusing him, she said, “No one will believe you because no one will ever believe that a woman can abuse a man.”
She wasn’t “acting out of years of unhealthy abuse” she was the abuser.
Thank you Maria- so very true!!!
Another thing- in a bullying situation, fault is never 50-50. The victim may react inappropriately, but that doesn’t’ mean he/she is at fault. Another thing to remember is that bullies provoke and taunt their victims. They take little jabs at a time hoping the victim will explode. If a victim doesn’t realize this, an outsider will think the bully is innocent, and the victim is in the wrong.
What I meant to say was although our reactions are not appropriate sometimes, that doesn’t mean fault is 50-50. We are responsible for our bad reactions.
Yes, to Robin & Maria: My ex-h used to keep bringing up my past, until I’d finally explode, and then he’d say, “I wish the church could see you now!” He actually got a “high” when that happened!
You’re right, Sandra, they do get a ‘high’. Cruelty is addicting. One night my 1st h was putting me down again at night, and I said, “You know, if I keep responding to you till 4 am and then finally start crying, or if I cry right now, or when I am really sick, you will not let up until I cry, and then suddenly you will say, “Oh, now I get what you’re trying to say!” He then said, “Connie, don’t you know that if I can make you sick or cry, that makes a man out of me?” Then he rolled over and went to sleep. Me? I quickly got my journal and wrote it down, because I knew he would NEVER admit to having said that.
One day I cried out to God, “Where does this come from?” I immediately saw in my mind two videos playing at the same time. My older brother tormenting me, and my h as a child tormenting his younger sister. It is, plain and simple, an addiction to bullying. And my responses were the same……I wanted so badly to be loved, that I actually fed the bullying by my pleading and crying and trying to reason with him. There is no reasoning with addiction, only consequences, as it says in Proverbs, “A word to the wise is enough, but stripes are for the back of fools.” I had to get that CORE strength, let go of all expectations and neediness, and let God take care of him. I recently read that there is only one way to deal with a narcissist, and that is to nip it in the bud the very first time and not let it go even once. They will either find new supply or treat you with respect. As Dr. Phil says, we teach people how to treat us. I think that is what his new wife did. She seems to be the bigger bully and has him saying ‘how high’ when she says jump. By the time I figured that out, it was way too late to change lanes.
James, keep doing what you’re doing. You are a good man, full of love and courage. I’m proud to count you as a brother. Many blessings on you and your family, and every person God leads your way!
Thank you for those very kind words. I’m proud to have you as a sister in the Lord and I pray that God blesses you and your family as well.
My husband has told me to go to the doctor and that he would pay for it. I don’t have a doctor and that’s all he says. My husband says many thing, but actually doing them is another story. Perhaps I should just call any doctor and hand h the bill?
No I haven’t told anyone. It never occurred to me that it was biblical instruction.
Please, go to the doctor. Your health is of the utmost importance.
If not for yourself then for your kids.
Hand your husband the bill and give him a chance to let his yes be yes.
James, I’ve a question about 1Tim5:8. Does this verse mean that men are to provide for the family? In this day and age, both men and women work to provide for their families. I know men who stay at home to look after the kids while the woman works.
I believe that this verse does put the burden of the family finances on the husband. That doesn’t mean the wife shouldn’t or can’t work outside of the home. Actually, many women did during the time of the writing of Paul, either by bringing the wares of the family business to market or engaging in some kind of enterprise when their children were grown (such as Lydea the seller of purple cloth in Acts 16)
In my opinion, that verse puts the burden of ensuring the financial health of the family on the husband. Consequently, there is no reason why a husband should allow his wife to go without health insurance if he enjoys coverage.
Ultimately, God holds the husband responsible.
Thank you for that perspective. That makes sense, but also saddens me since that’s not what’s really happening on a consistent level for me. I have to ensure my two older ones are taken care of.
Michelle, In many situations, I have had a gut feeling that my husband was up to something. I have learned to listen to that voice. I’ve been more prepared when I have. Not sure if this applies to you, but just thought I’d mention it.
James, I believe your church, and you, would be blessed to have Leslie teach a CORE program there.
I’m not sure our little church could afford her, but I agree that CORE principles are very valuable indeed.
Thank you, Connie:
What you said brought to mind that just before my ex-h started his verbal abuse (out of the blue), his eyes would narrow and with a sneerful face and voice, he truly seemed satanic.
I’m not sure what kind of a gut feeling you’re talking about, but I have it too. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something inconsistent and things that don’t make sense at times. It’s strange.
That sounds good and reassuring and all, and I really appreciate the verse references. It really helps. It’s just that when my h talks a good talk of trying to do better yet he stills thinks the same, resulting in speaking the same and reacting the same,…I’m not sure if he’s really trying or if there’s some sort of cover up or chain pulling going on. Like giving me just enough rope to hang on to or something. I don’t want to be mean and think he’s not trying, but I don’t want to be played a fool, nor do I want my kids to keep hurting. Right now my h is being nice, so I feel almost ashamed to talk like this. But our history has shown it won’t last. So I don’t know…
That is why my lawyer recommended divorcing instead of legal separation– to get me 50% of everything and money to live on while divorce was processing.
I was married to a crazy abusive, lying, bi-polar wife and we have been divorced a long time now and she has since “remarried”… I find myself believing that i am not free to remarry via scriptures but I really would like to. Am I “Free?”
Matt 5 :21 …whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth ADULTERY. Matt 14: 3-4 … It is not lawful for thee to have her. Mark. 10::2 …Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth ADULTERY against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth ADULTERY. Lk. 16:18 (AKJV) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth ADULTERY: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth ADULTERY. Romans 7:1-3 …… if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an ADULTERESS:… 1 Cor 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.. 39 The wife is bound by the LAW as long as her husband liveth…
I may be super conservative, but you are not free. In my opinion, even a terrible marriage is still a marriage. I suggest you embrace being single and find fulfillment in it. If your x wife dies you can remarry, but between you and God, you need to keep your word an not mock his teaching.
You might be right. Its just if she would not have lied to me i would have never married her. 2 weeks after we were married she confessed she lied to me… i wanted to jump out of the car. I save myself for this whore… and now i have to live my life in this prison of singleness?
Actually Mr. Free, if you are correct i think it then goes to the point that all remarriages without the death of the first spouse are not marriages in God’s sight but a state of continuous adultery that need to be repented of. Kinda like stealing a car. I don’t like that either cause that would mean my abusive “wife” is suppose to come back to me. Rom 7:3
Lee, read Deuteronomy 24:1-4. According to this passage the one thing you absolutely cannot do is remarry your ex-wife. This doesn’t contradict Rom 7:3 if you understand that the couple in this passage aren’t divorced. The woman is married to her husband. In other words, she is not divorced from her husband, she hasn’t been given a certificate of divorce (see Deut24:1-4 again.). While looking at the passages in your original post, keep in mind that there “putting away” (no certificate of divorce), and there is “putting away with a certificate of divorce). Sometimes translators use “divorce” for both circumstances. This is often overlooked because in today’s society “putting away” isn’t practiced anymore. When these passages were written, women could not issue the certificate of divorce, that is why there was such a problem. Also take into consideration that God divorced with a divorce certificate Isreal. But according to the scriptures, God is to remarry the house of Isreal (New Covenant). But how could God do this if He doesn’t allow remarriage to the first wife? Enter Jesus! He died to release Isreal from the law of Deut. 24:1-4 and he was resurrected to be the eligible bachelor for Isreal. So, long story short to deny divorce and remarriage is to deny the very plan of salvation. I truly believe the enemy has put a great veil of deception over the issue of divorce and remarriage to keep God’s children in Godless marriages of bondage.
So wait if I gave her a degree of divorce i am free?
So you must believe that Deut 25 is for today too?
God took Israel back already.
When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.” — Show no pity. Deuteronomy 25:11-12 Yes, fight fans, you read that right. If you’re getting bet to a pulp by another guy, and your wife grabs your opponent’s stones to help you out, she gets her hand cut off. Now if you practice this today, only then should you also practice Deut 24:1-4 …then the first husband who divorce her can’t marry her again. She has made herself ritually unclean, and her remarriage would be an abomination…
How remarriage does not end the first marriage
There is not any example or teaching in Scripture that the act of remarriage ends the first marriage. Nor is there any place in the Bible where the making of a covenant with a second person ended the covenant with the first person. Jesus clearly stated that remarriage does not end the first marriage when He said “Whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” The first marriage is not ended by remarriage. A person can commit adultery only with someone else’s husband or wife. If both of the persons involved in sexual immorality are single it is fornication not adultery. God does not recognize a second covenant without a death of a spouse.
To say that remarriage ends the first marriage is to say that remarriage is the “divorce” from the first marriage. There is nothing that Jesus said that would indicate that remarriage was “divorce” from the first marriage. Romans 7:3 states clearly that remarriage does not end the first marriage and that only death ends the first marriage. “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but IF her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” I have not found any place in the Bible that would indicate that remarriage is the “divorce” or an event that ends the first marriage. biblicalresearchreports.com/
Lee, consider reading , A CRY FOR JUSTICE by Jeff Crippen. It has a chapter about divorce and what happens when the marriage has been destroyed by an abuser. I think you will find many differing opinions on this blog. Read all the information you can on the subject of re-marriage and then let the Holy Spirit guide you to what is best in your situation. God Bless and I’ll be praying for you.
I hope i find something there, it just when i look at what the Bible says it does not seem to leave a way out, as un-compassionate as that sounds.
Lee, I think you misunderstoid my points. I never said remarriage ends the first marriage. My point was that the certificate of divorce ends the marriage. Simply putting away a spouce is not a divorce and therefore both spouces are still married and any sexual act outside that couple would be adultery. Putting away PLUS the certificate of divorce frees both spouces from the marriage and they are both free to remarry. So for example if there is a married couple and the husband micks his wife out of the house (putting away) to pursue another woman he would be commiting adultery. Now the woman is in a pickle because she isn’t allowed due to the laws of her culture to initiate the divorce through the courts, so she is left unable to marry another and can’t support herself because women aren’t allowed to work. Gods laws are for the benefit and protection of His children. God’s laws are perfect and forever. Jesus said he didn’t change any of the law (Matt 5:18). God hasn’t taken Isreal back yet, that is what Jesus came for (Matt 15:24). Jesus has his second coming to fulfill.
The covenant people of God are his wife. They have often been faithless and broken the marriage covenant. Would God—could God—divorce his wife? No!
But is it not wrong to take her back after she has lain with so many others? “You have played the harlot with many lovers, and would you return to me?” (Jeremiah 3:1). Ah, but what a husband he is! Incredible in grace! “Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord” (3:20). [Pastor John Piper]
So has you Pastor warned the sheep in the flock about Deut 25:so no one gets there hand chopped off.
Jesus stated Matt 5 “21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time (Moses)… 22 But I (GOD Almighty) say unto you… 31 It hath been said, (by Moses) Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I (JESUS) say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife,… causeth her to commit (continuous) adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth (in the greek continuous tense) adultery. Until death do us part, means what it says. So without the death of the first spouse, the “second marriage” does not exists in God’s eyes, even though the laws of the land say it is; like “homosexual marriage”
I still hope to find an abuse card to get of this.
Hey got the Cry For Justice and read the last chapters and it has a few interesting points but nothing that I was hoping for. I feel like Pilot “What is truth?” It seems we have Dr. Phil and compassion for the abused on one side and God’s blood Covenant rules on the other.
Look up the original geek words in Matt 5:32. “Shall put away” and “her that is divorced” are both the greek word apolyo. The missing piece in this verse is the certificate of divorce. This verse is talking about put away spouses, NOT divorced spouses. If you haven’t obtained the certificate, you are not divorced and being with another would be adultery. Read Jeremiah 3:8 to see God’s divorce with a divorce certificate with Isreal. And Jesus hasn’t gathered all the lost sheep of Isreal yet. Deut 25:11 is the “eye for an eye” meme found all over the OT and the NT, they are to indicate equal punishment for the crime(usually monetary). Jesus used the same principle in Matt 5:30.
Ultimately, you need to take your situation to the Lord your Father and place you full faith and trust in His will. God gave us the holy spirit to help guide us. Jesus is our advocate and councellor. Use this situation you are in to discover the Lord’s will for you. Whatever you do, don’t rely on any man’s interpretation of the Word. We need no teachers other than the Word. People may not like what you and your Father decide but you are to love your Lord with all your mind, body and soul. I will lift you up in my prayers. God bless you brother.
Jesus said What God has joined let not man put asunder. The Pharisees and disciples understood. The Pharisees gave an exception. The disciples said, If that is so, it is better not to marry. Now here is clincher: If just scribbling out a note saying, I repudiate you and had it to his wife, why worry? 10 seconds and it’s over.
ONE FLESH is for life They all knew that.
Lee, everything I hear you quote sounds like LAW.
Do you walk in the fact– that Jesus came to set you FREE?
The Law is more like the O.T. and the law of Moses. We are free but not free to sin, Jude 4. If a divorce certificate ended a marriage then why is remarriage adultery? Matt 5 :21 …whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth ADULTERY. Matt 14: 3-4 … It is not lawful for thee to have her. Mark. 10::2 …Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth ADULTERY against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth ADULTERY. Lk. 16:18 (AKJV) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth ADULTERY: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth ADULTERY. Romans 7:1-3 …… if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an ADULTERESS:… 1 Cor 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.. 39 The wife is bound by the LAW as long as her husband liveth…
I have not been following this blog very much but I just read your response, Lee. Look at Jesus as the ultimate answer to what God’s heart is and what He would do. God is a paradox. We can’t put Him in a box because He doesn’t appear to want to be there. Consider John 8:1-12. Blessings on you! He delights in you and wants to delight YOU as well.
I have read many of these comments and find very little comfort in them as it seems that people have come here to debate what constitutes abuse, what constitutes an abuser, what constitutes repentance, what constitutes adultery. I think many sincere Christians desperately want/wanted reconciliation of their marriages and their spirits for many years. They desperately want to be in right standing with Jesus and have most likely endured many years of abuse trying to stay in “right” fellowship with Him. Now many of us desperately want peace who have finally taken the only step to stop the abuse by divorcing our husbands. Many of us have moved on to marry again and still are plagued with the fear of being an adulterer now. Many struggle to understand why the Bible could not be more clear on abuse that we all know God abhors. I’m not sure I will ever find complete solace on this side of Heaven. I had a marriage where I was sexually abused. I had a church that supported my ex. Even though he would admit to some of it. Because he cried at church and was beside himself, they said he was contrite. If I were on the outside looking in I might think the same, what people like some on here that quasi defend abusers don’t understand is that the tears and hysterics is not because they are losing their spouse. It is because the abuser has lost control. They don’t look like the model Christian anymore. They are upset over their loss of “things”. It is still painful to think about all this. I lost almost everyone in my life, my reputation, my church and my ex texts me something hateful about twice a week. It’s not an easy way to live as the pain still lingers. I will end this with two things. First the one thing my Christian counselor said to me that gave me peace. He explained to me that marriage is supposed to be a covenant just like the covenant that we made with Christ when we became Christians. There is a requirement to be in the covenant relationship with Christ. We must be repentant to become a Christian. We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to see our sin as sin andturn away from it and not live in a lifestyle of sin. The counselor explained to me that as a Godly Christian we should have the same requirements of our relationships. We should not be in covenant relationship with unrepentant people. We should require people to be repentant and to own their sin, not to be perfect just willing to change. Secondly, please consider not arguing over whether a person was abused or not and not to blame shift in either direction. I think it is good and healthy to remind people to be honest with themselves about their own sin and to continue to work on themselves. None of us know what the other has truly been through. It is a long row to hoe living with a broken spirit in a new found land of grace. Seek first to understand and then proceed with love.
Belle, I agree with you wholeheartedly. This blog is a place to receive support and encouragement; not to have to prove anything.
I have been divorced for 18 months. Not once did I ever question, did I do the right thing? Walking away from an abuser that owns nothing and refuses help, was a no brainer for me. It hasn’t always been easy- but I have never regretted getting out of a destructive relationship and owning myself and watch what God had in mind for my future.
Thanks for sharing!!!