A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Good men: please denounce the Permanence View of Marriage that denies any reason for divorce.

The Permanence View (PV) of marriage is the view that divorce is not allowed for any reason whatsoever and that no matter what happens in a marriage, marriage vows are a commitment for as long as you both shall live. We have critiqued this notion often on this blog, because we believe it

  1. is deeply unbiblical
  2. has led the church astray on the doctrine of divorce
  3. has muddied the waters of the doctrine of divorce so much that it’s hard for good Christians to figure out what on earth to believe about divorce and remarriage
  4. and all this causes immense harm to victims of abuse.

John Piper, Voddie Baucham and some (many?) in the Quiverful and Family Integrated Church movements hold to the Permanence View, but those camps do not have a monopoly on it. You can also find the PV in other Christian circles and subgroups. Some Permanence View folk permit separation, or permanent separation, and suffer (tolerate) Christians obtaining civil divorce, but they say that it’s possibly/probably/certainly sinful for a Christian to engage in those things and that remarriage after divorce is certainly sinful, although, if confessed as sin, it can probably/certainly be forgiven.

The very fact that my previous paragraph is hard to read shows how muddied these waters are. To avoid the charge of misrepresenting any of the PV teachers, I have to allude to all the variants. The possibly/probably/certainly variants can be found in different Permanence View teachers, and often they can be found within the output of a single teacher of the PV, in different sermons and teachings he has published, which can make it hard to tell exactly where that teacher stands on the spectrum. And how does a victim of abuse, exhausted, stigmatized, at the end of her tether, get through all that hair splitting? She doesn’t. She just gives up. And that makes her even more vulnerable to the hurtful offhand remarks that other Christians make about divorce.

Trigger warning. If you are a victim/survivor, thicken your skin for moment and let’s hear from a teacher of the Permanence View. This is Pastor Voddie Baucham. If you go to his church you will not only have the Permance View poured down your throat, you will find it laced with a heavy dose of victim blaming, crass humor, and sarcastic mockery.

When it comes to marriage, we’re in it to win it, amen? [59:30]

Those of you who know me, you know that just about every place I go when I talk about divorce and remarriage so that my kids get sick of hearing, and I’m glad they get sick of hearing it that means I’m almost saying it enough.

I tell my wife all the time: “If you leave me, I’m going with you.”  (laughs from the audience).

It’s not an option, people.

Here’s the other thing you need to understand. Marriage is not difficult because of the person you happen to be married to. Let me let you in on a little secret– “You’re the problem!”

Can you say, Amen?  You wanna say ‘Ouch.’

You’re the problem.

“Yeah well you don’t know my spouse.”

So? You’re the problem. You are!

“But they have problems too!”

Yeah they do; but that’s irrelevant! (Baucham chuckles). You are the problem!

And if you leave this marriage and go and get into another one, guess what you take with you? You! Who happen to be – the problem!”

There’s not some green pasture out there called ‘a marriage beyond difficulty and without conflict.’ If you could be a fly on the wall in every home in this church, you would discover things in every home represented in this church that at one moment or another apart from the grace of God, could lead to splits-ville.

And if you’ve never got that frustrated in marriage, you’re not doing it right (loud male laughs from the audience). . .

It is a very serious matter that the Permanence View continues to muddy the waters so badly.  The Christian community has many divorced people in it. And only God knows how many married people are remaining with abusive spouses because they have been told that divorce is ginormously sinful and remarriage is totally forbidden.

These people are not living in a vacuum; they are living in the miasma of confusing and contradictory ideas about divorce. They are the canary in the coal mine. And I submit that by and large they have been abandoned and neglected by theologians, academics, and big name teachers. These leaders are largely pussy-footing around the issue, not stepping up to the plate and denouncing the Permanence View with outrage on behalf of the victims of domestic abuse, many of whom do not have a voice, or, if they have one, it only reaches as far as other survivors of abuse and a few wonderful men who ‘get it’ such as Rev Chris Moles, Boz TjividjianSteve Tracy, Phil Monroe, Peter Grant, Joe Pote, Tony (a police officer), David Instone-BrewerDale Ingraham, Ps Sam PowellDave Orrison, Forrest, Gary W [and here too], Michael Lehman, Tim FallJackson Katz, David Dykstra and others. And of course our own Jeff Crippen and Wendell G. :)

Dead canary on coal

Paul publicly pointed the finger at Peter when he was going off in a wrong doctrine that would hurt many believers and muddy the purity of the divine doctrines. Why are there so few Christian leaders speaking out in outrage and denouncing the Permanence View and naming its most famous proponents, showing them they must repent. The canons of niceness in which leaders never criticize other leaders by name have to stop. Would Martin Luther have been able to catalyse the Reformation if he had not named names? No way.

Men who are seen to be eminent need to denounce the Permanance View and its advocates, and if the PV preachers fail to repent, the good men should remove them from pulpits and platforms. Where is the outrage from leaders who should be protecting the wounded sheep?

And why do I call for men to do this? Women can do it as well, but as we know, women have much less clout in the church (women bloggers and tweeters on social media being the wonderful exception).

If we are to clear up the doctrinal mess on divorce, it is vital to get rid of the Permanence View. Until male leaders take a much more decisive stand on this, the canaries in the coal mine will continue to keel over and faint in the miasma, the muddled mixture of contradictory divorce notions. If we could expunge and scrub out the Permanence View (which after all was first taught by Roman Catholicism, the enemy of Protestantism) then we would have a less confusing atmosphere in which to argue our view that abuse is a valid a ground for divorce and is on an equal  footing with the other two grounds: adultery and simple desertion by an unbeliever.

Men, all good men, if you are reading this, why not add a comment? We would like to hear from you, even if it’s only you saying you read this blog or approve of our work. Maybe you have a story that can inspire other men to take a more active role in the cry for justice. Maybe you have a little anecdote of how you or someone else has tried to confront or resist the abuse-enabling mindsets that are so widespread in our culture and in many part of the Christian church.

Men:— you may not realize it, but women who have been abused are GREATLY encouraged when they hear of men who support and validate our cry for justice.  (And yes, we know that sometimes men are abused by women. Habitual evildoing is not something that is confined to only one sex.)

* * *

Jeff Crippen’s two posts critiquing this same sermon by Baucham:

Woe to you, celebrity pastors, big-name theologians and wanna be’s

A retelling of Luke 11:37-52.

While Jesus was speaking, a celebrity pastor asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The pastor was astonished to find out that Jesus did not have any letters after his name, had not been to seminary, and did not blog, or use twitter, or have a multi-channel website, or even a business card!

And the Lord said to him, “Now; you celebrity pastors acquire all those outward displays of theological eminence and influence, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness and a craven fear not to rock the boat of the boys club. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? You pick your spiritually-correct causes to lobby about: abortion, homosexuality, the ‘divorce epidemic’, feminism (which some of you deliberately misunderstand), the ‘erosion of family values’, male and female roles, and missions in other lands, and you talk incessantly about the gospel. You can’t make yourself spiritual with all that outward stuff. Give charity and mercy from your inmost selves, rather than from your presumptuous politico-spiritual-correctness, and behold, everything will be clean to you.

“But woe to you celebrity pastors and big-name theologians! For you cavil and debate about New versus Old Calvinism, the third use of the law in sanctification, Insider Movements, six-day versus long-age creation, intinction, and other such niceties, and you neglect justice and the love of God. You neglect the victims of abuse in your churches: victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, spiritual abuse. You wink at the leaders who cover up the abuses and resist reporting the crimes to the police. Some of you even pat those leaders on the back! And when a crime finally goes to the police you mincingly claim that you can’t say anything because ‘it’s in the hands of the secular courts’. You sit on your hands and assert that you’re unable to take a stand because you don’t know all the facts.

“And you ignore the cries of the abused who have suffered forms of horrendous abuse that society doesn’t (yet) define as criminal — forms of abuse like the pattern of incremental, subtle, coercive control that typifies domestic abuse.  You sidle out of publicly announcing that you’ve changed your mind and now believe that the Bible allows divorce for abuse. You fail to denounce men like Piper for teaching that all divorce is sin. And you sit there, not saying that divorce for abuse is biblical, while the victims of abuse are cast out of their churches for not reconciling with their abusers.

“These things — justice and mercy — you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

“Woe to you celebrity pastors! For you love the best seats in the conferences, and you banter jovially with your buddies on podcasts, while victims of spiritual abuse contemplate suicide, and devoutly Christian single mothers, victims of domestic abuse, are forced by court order to send their kids off to the abuser who will molest their spirits and perhaps their bodies also. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, imparting contamination and prejudice to people who come under your influence — and they don’t know it.”

One of the sycophants of a celebrity pastor answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you sycophant copycats also! For you load people with legalistic burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! You refuse to heed the whistle-blowers’ concerns and you admonish them with the weasel’s excuse that they should have gone to the celebrity pastor privately as per Matthew 18. Even though the celeb pastor wrote his books and his blog for all the world to read, you won’t let the whistle-blower critique his teaching publicly!

“Furthermore, you tell victims of domestic abuse that they aren’t allowed to disclose about their abuser’s wicked conduct, because that would be gossiping. You reluctantly engage in a Matthew 18 process if the victim presses you enough, but you quickly get hoodwinked by the abuser’s fake repentance, and you end up treating the poor victim as the unbeliever, while you allow the abuser to keep his ‘wonderful man of God’ status in the church.

“If you were subjected to the mean-spirited stiff-necked prejudice that you subject these victims to, you would crumple! You would loudly complain that the burden was too hard to bear. And would feel entitled to demand an immediate apology! You would slam those who unjustly treated you.

“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. You mouth phrases like semper reformanda (the church is always to be reformed) but you refuse to give the reformers a hearing. Your ‘canons of niceness’ condemn anyone who uses the type of strong language used by reformers five hundred years ago. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of William Tyndale, who was burnt at the stake. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you ivory tower seminarians! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

 

The Lord shielded not my eyes but my soul from the filth on the screen

Some domestic abusers are addicted to porn as well as being abusive to their wives in a pattern of coercive control.

This is an account from a happily married woman who supported a victim as she divorced her abuser. She discovered that this abuser, among his other sins, was addicted to gay porn. The story came to me by email and we are republishing it here in disidentified form with the author and the victim’s permission.

Trigger warning for those who have been affected by pornography.

* * *

I must tell you how God took us through discovering the gay porn. The victim’s lawyer, more than a year previously, had postulated that the abuser was possibly gay, but we were like “Oh, no . . . not him.”  As typical in a domestic abuse situation, she had no access to financial records but, per the divorce process, he was required to release to her both joint and individually held banking statements. 

He claimed he was too poor to support her, but she knew he’d laundered money so she asked for my help in looking over the statements so she could tabulate where the money all went.  We began noticing anomalies—“blank” spots—and realized the originals of the copies she was in possession of had been altered prior to being copied.  Sometimes the business, phone and city were obscured leaving only the amount of the purchase and the date.  Other times just the name was covered up.   A pattern began to be revealed.  The hidden information was usually on entries of one of several identical dollar amounts and sometimes on a date repeated monthly.  So we began scrutinizing the entries on just those particular dollar amounts debited from the account and found each had concealed portions.

Then we found one he missed and googled the name of the business. Oh. My. God. I was horrified at what I saw and was glad she was away from the computer at that moment.  Sometimes just googling the 800 number on the bank statement brought up websites with repugnant sexual acts being, apparently, performed live.  Upon discovering different entries that were missed, or masked in an incomplete manner, the search became more diligent throughout the several years of statements she had been provided with of several accounts.  

To protect her from emotional trauma I was the one that was tasked with opening all the websites as the information in the bank statements was googled.   All were hard core gay pornography.  The next step was copying the URL’s into a document, then print screening the home page of the deviant websites into the document to prove that these bank statement entries were purchases of porn.  Dignity insisted that I cover the naked parts with blocks of color so I could still allow the website’s confirming contact info to show in the document.  Once the urge to vomit passed, things from their dysfunctional marriage suddenly began to make sense to her.  Even just the few years provided showed thousands of dollars squandered on this addiction.

At two weeks of computer researching and documenting (yes, there was that much) this immorality *I* needed to be prayed for at church—I realized a gloom and heaviness had cloaked me and I didn’t even want to go to church…highly unusual for me.  The Lord was faithful to lift that oppression.

In subsequent weeks I had to organize and print the documentation for the victim to give to her lawyer.   From the beginning I would always put my hand up to partially block the screen from my eyes when I first opened one of those awful sites, but after prayer I can only explain my experience like on Star Trek when they would “raise shields”.   It was like a grey mist came up and shielded not my eyes but my soul from the filth on the screen. I could still see everything in color, but it was truly a spiritual masking. There was no titillation, no anything, though more than once I (like my friend, too) felt like I would vomit from the degeneracy exhibited.  

I am so grateful to the Lord for being faithful to protect my heart and soul when I had to wade through the unflushed toilet of depravity.

Thursday Thought

What a Victim Can Expect in a Typical Evangelical Church

1.  Victim reports abuse to her pastor.
2.  Pastor does not believe her claims, or at least believes they are greatly exaggerated.  After all, he “knows” her husband to be one of the finest Christian men he knows, a pillar of the church.
3.  Pastor minimizes the severity of the abuse.  His goal is often, frankly, damage control (to himself and to his church).
4.  Pastor indirectly (or not so indirectly!) implies that the victim needs to do better in her role as wife and mother and as a Christian.  He concludes that all such scenarios are a “50/50″ blame sharing.
5.  Pastor sends the victim home, back to the abuser, after praying with her and entrusting the problem to the Lord.
6.  Pastor believes he has done his job.
7.  Victim returns, reporting that nothing has changed.  She has tried harder and prayed, but the abuse has continued.
8.  Pastor decides to do some counseling.  He says, “I will have a little talk with your husband” or “I am sure that all three of us can sit down and work this all out.”  Either of these routes only results in further and more intense abuse of the victim.  This counseling can go on for years!  (One victim reported that it dragged on for nine years in her case).
9.  As time passes, the victim becomes the guilty party in the eyes of the pastor and others.  She is the one causing the commotion.  She is pressured by the pastor and others in the church to stop rebelling, to submit to her husband, and stop causing division in the church.
10.  After more time passes, the victim separates from or divorces the abuser.  The church has refused to believe her, has persistently covered up the abuse, has failed to obey the law and report the abuse to the police; and has refused to exercise church discipline against the abuser.  Ironically, warnings of impending church discipline are often directed against the victim!
11.  The final terrible injustice is that the victim is the one who must leave the church, while the abuser remains a member in good standing, having successfully duped the pastor and church into believing that his victim was the real problem.  One abuse victim (a man in this case) told me that he finally came to the awakening that “I know exactly what my church is going to do about my abuser: Nothing!”  He left while she remained a member in good standing, the daughter of a leading pastor in the denomination.

[An excerpt from Pastor Crippen's book, A Cry for Justice*, pp 21-22]

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

A True Story of Redemption from the Pit of Abuse

This is the story of one of our newer readers at ACFJ. She graciously gave us permission to publish it as a means of encouraging and helping others dealing with abuse, including the abuse at the hands of their church. Many blessings in Christ upon her and her family! This is her story.

As you read, just imagine her being given the recent “Catechism for Christian Wives” we so roundly reject. What would it have done to her? You know the answer.

* * *

Hello!  I recently found this blog, and I am so thankful for the work that has been done and is being done. The Lord has used you all so much in my life over the past two weeks! I feel like I have been led to a group that understands where I have been and what I have been through. I feel like there is a place for me with you all. Thank you for helping me to belong, and to be understood.

I was brought up as a very conservative Christian. I was raised in a totally complementarian home and church, where my father took advantage of that and was what I know now as a very overbearing, over controlling, self righteous, self justifying, and narcissistic man. He was a doctor and only worked three days a week. He was home Monday through Wednesday, and after work he would leave to go his farm and farm house about an hour away. He was always home for church on Sunday. My mother was a doormat and very abused. I saw them go to church leaders over and over for counseling and more counseling and more counseling. My father was always justified, and my mother was always admonished to forgive, be submissive, and start over with him. They always said there are “two sides to every story” and that there is always something both parties can do better with to make the relationship work. I saw that it was unfair to my mother. I see now the total injustice of it all.

I thought I knew better. I was never going to be in a relationship like that.

I was living in Tennessee with my first job. I was a member at church that I loved. I met a young man that believed he was called to be a preacher… a “Christian”… he was handsome, athletic, funny, charming, and in our church denomination. I was hooked!!!  He was so admired among all of the people. His dad was a pastor, as well! His mother and father would periodically host a few marriage seminars together for our churches. What a fabulous family! I wanted to be a part of that. There were a few flags during our courtship that I should have recognized. Of course everything would be okay…

We were married. I was so happy, so excited. I wanted to be the best Christian wife there ever was! The best preacher’s wife. I moved 8 hours away from my family to be with him in south Georgia. Things quickly went downhill. He was gone early in the morning before I left for work and didn’t come home until late at night, even though he only had one class at the local college. He said he was doing class work and was studying his Bible the rest of the time. I supported him in his endeavors to gain more knowledge of the Bible. I wanted him to be full of scripture, and a wonderful preacher, of course!  He didn’t want me sexually very often at all — even though we were newlyweds. I became seriously self-conscious.

We had our first argument about three weeks into the marriage, and I thought it crossed several borders — mainly he wouldn’t let me move — he “trapped” me, so to say, in the room, grabbed me hard on each arm. Other arguments ensued. He was never apologetic — it was always justified. He was calculated. He took my car keys. He became very spiritually abusive, as well. I had very hard work days at the hospital where I was the only tech in my department, and when I didn’t want to attend church on a Wednesday night due to fatigue and back and leg pain, I was immediately labeled a rebellious woman. He said I was making him look bad. So I went to church, but left in the middle of the service to lay down in the mother’s nursery room with my feet up (where I could still hear the sermon). He was so enraged that when we were driving home he began flying down the interstate at 100mph. I remember his face as he looked over at me, then slammed on the brakes so that I would hit the console….  then grabbed my arm (bruised it) and injured my arm (bruised it) as a punishment for pointing my finger at him as I was arguing back – trying to stand up for myself…  I tried to get out of the car and he tried to run me over. I got back in the car, became silent and subservient, and we made it home, finally. I thought it would just be better in the morning… forget about it all.

I came home one afternoon that week and was looking for a book to read. I picked up one random book out of the book shelf.  It had an index card in it that fell to the floor — it looked like a timeline.  It said, 2 years counseling.  2 years separation.  final: divorce…  “let the unbelieving spouse leave” …. Calculated. I asked him about it when he got home. He said he was just “venting.” So that was it. I was going to be the “unbelieving spouse” that left him after he, in reality, drove me away. I still didn’t really get it though… not until much later.

I called our pastor for help about a week later. He came over. First, our pastor asked me if I was a saved believer, and what did Christ meant to me. I answered as best as I could. He responded that my previous pastor had “taught me well.”  He did not turn and ask my husband the same question, though.  I thought that was odd. My husband had apparently gotten to him first regarding me and my “unbelief”; he had also got to his family and some of our friends. I didn’t know that until a long time later, though. It was him gaining allies. I didn’t know that an abuser did that until I read your blog.  I remembered taking as much responsibility as I could during that first counseling session. I didn’t give a soft answer…. I shouldn’t have pointed my finger at him. I should have been more submissive in going to church with him. I could do better. We BOTH had a part in this. Let’s repent and “do better.” I remember my prayer as we all prayed aloud… “WE are acting worse than the unregenerate…please forgive US.” I trusted our pastor. He would know best. Surely our pastor would help us! He understood our beliefs, and he understood marriages, and he understood abuse. He was a police officer. He said if anything like this situation in the car ever happened again, I was to let him know immediately and that he would “take care of it.” I was reassured that we could make it in our marriage.

We moved a few months later for my husband to further his career in the medical field. Everything only got worse. The emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse. We began counseling with a NANC (nouthetic) counselor. One night I was tired of covering up the abuse, and I wrote a letter to our counselor. He talked with his superiors. He came over to our home and told my husband it was his responsibility to change for the marriage to work. I felt like I could sing!!!!!! Someone finally was backing me up!!! I felt hope, though. I wanted to forgive and forget! Tomorrow is a new day, and we can still make it.  Our marriage could be saved.

I was tortured by him that entire week with emotional, spiritual, mental, and finally, physical abuse. I finally called a friend to come to pick me up after the physical incident. I hadn’t told a single soul about what was going on, besides my former pastor. She took pictures. She helped me. She let me stay with her for 9 more months. What an angel. She called the police that night but we were in a different county and they couldn’t do anything at that point.

I actually talked with my previous pastor from Tennessee. My membership was still at this church. It had only been 6 months since we had been married. My pastor there told me to take the pictures to the police station and document what happened. Get a report, and he would make sure my membership was “safe.”  That membership was so important to me! He said I would be okay.

So I went to the police. I took my pictures like I was told to, and wrote a report. They told me I needed to speak with another person about this, and took me to her. I talked with her about everything. I spoke in a recorder. I was so naive! I didn’t realize this was going to get him arrested! Ha! I thought I had to press charges or something. All I wanted was documentation that this happened, and that the police from the other county were called the night of the incident, so I could present it to my church in Tennessee.  All I wanted was my membership safe – that I was acceptable with the church and in good standing with the Lord. Well the state of Georgia wanted him to be arrested! Oh boy. Well, I found out later the story that was told was that I went crazy, lost it in an argument, turned malicious, and had my husband arrested.

[Note from Barb: So far as I understand, some states (particularly in the USA) have mandatory arrest for domestic violence. But some do not. The police who this victim  went to ought to have told her that her husband would be arrested and changed, since they knew this was going to happen. They were negligent in not informing her. Hopefully police in mandatory-arrest states are not being so negligent on matters like this any more, but we cannot be sure. Any victim who wants to ascertain whether mandatory arrest applies in her state can ring a hotline, or contact her local Women's Resource Centre, or do a  google search for the domestic violence laws in her state.]

I emailed my former pastor in south Georgia (the police officer) and told him what had happened. Attached were the pictures from the physical incident. He emailed me back and told me to “call him.” He had my phone number. He could have called me. I never heard from him again.

I opened up to another friend, and immediately (the very next morning) they went to my childhood pastor in my hometown of Alabama for help on my behalf. No help. Nothing. I received a letter telling me to not get a divorce.

My dad wouldn’t even allow a conversation with him or my mother about my situation. I was to submit and go back. Make it better. Or just live apart and never get divorced — not until he committed adultery first. So legalistic.

I called my NANC counselor and told him what happened. SURELY he wouldn’t fail me! He was so upset about what happened. He said he would have been “high alert” or “red watch” or something that I don’t remember… My NANC counselor was a parole officer. However, he wanted me to come in and have a counseling session with my husband and him. I couldn’t bear to see my husband, though. So I refused. — And there you have it — I am the one refusing counseling. The blame was then put on me.

There it was. I was abandoned by every person I trusted — every person that should have helped me and protected me. All they cared about was me not getting a divorce (besides my pastor from Tennessee). I went to the attorney just to see what my options were. I was too chicken to get a divorce at the time.

A few days after my husband posted bail, every cent was gone from our bank account. Well, of course it was. So, like I said, my sweet friend let me stay with her for a while (it ended up being 9 months). — And there you have it –  I am the one who left the apartment and moved out. It is now, again, my fault for leaving. That evening, he was caught stalking at my workplace.

I went to the attorney again. I was going ahead and getting the divorce. I didn’t care about what anyone else said. I already felt abandoned by everyone.

Out of the blue, my pastor from Tennessee wrote me an email, even though we had talked every other conversation over the phone. He told me to NOT go to the attorney again. To wait. That this divorce was NOT acceptable. He used so many phrases that were the same as my dad’s and my pastor from my childhood hometown… It felt obvious that they were in communication with each other, and all making a stance so that I wouldn’t get the divorce. The NANC counselor told me to NOT get a divorce. My dad wrote me an email to NOT get a divorce. My sister, brother-in-law, previous pastor’s wife — all wrote a letter telling me to NOT get a divorce. No one called me, however. No one called to see how I was doing — if I needed anything — if I was okay…

So, three pastors had been informed, one NANC counselor, and two of my friends. These two friends were not in the same church denomination as I was. I never let my story out to anyone else. Not my parents, or my sister or brother, even. Not my dear friends that I loved so much within the church. I had been trying to save our marriage and his reputation this entire time. When I started to try to talk to some of my life long friends, my husband had already spoiled the water. He already had told everyone his version of me being unregenerate, malicious in his arrest, leaving him, and refusing counsel. I never even told them my side. Ever. I didn’t want to try to defend myself to them. I knew it was a hopeless endeavor. God knew, though. He knew what had really happened. So there it was. I was abandoned by the leadership of our church — even a police officer — every person that should have helped me and protected me — even my NANC parole officer counselor — abandoned by my “friends,” and abandoned by my family.

I was going to commit suicide. It wasn’t a question. I was going to. I was consumed with it.

But I didn’t… God kept giving me a feeling that there was a small chance of hope out there —

God rescued me. Oh how he helped me!!! He never left me. He never forsook me. He slowly brought supportive people into my life. I got the divorce. I kept a successful job. I left the church. I moved home. I am now remarried to the most amazing husband and we have two beautiful, precious children. There are still wounds that run deep. My sister and I hardly have a relationship. Her best friend is her sister in law… who is married to my ex-brother in law. My father and I do not have a relationship. He is toxic, but thankfully not around very much. I am not in contact with any of my childhood friends “in the church.”  Sadly, this same abuse situation happened to another friend within the same denomination a few years later, and she was excommunicated from my hometown church in Alabama. She has major wounds also. But, my life has been redeemed.

My life has been Redeemed! Yes, my life has been Redeemed. There is always hope for a future with the Lord as your guide. I never thought I would be as happy and healed as I am now…  but to feel that the Lord, that HE would never leave me nor forsake me, no matter what, is all that I needed to know and all that I needed to hold on to. I had so much fear in my heart. I could only read Jesus’ words in red that were in the Bible for so long. I now can read more of the Word and trust it. My sweet Savior, my loving Jesus, my helper and keeper, my friend — what would we do without Him?! He has stuck by my side — He has been my advocate.

I have slowly healed — there are still issues out there and the Lord has helped me deal with them slowly but surely. I have not and do not trust many people, but I DO know that I AM in good standing with the Lord, and I AM acceptable to Him! Regardless what a group of people — a group of “Christians” say!

I didn’t realize how healing this blog would be though. I didn’t realize how terribly common it is for a woman to be abused by her spouse and the church to not only deny her protection, but even promote her destruction. Thank you for being a blog for not just the abused women, but for the conservative, Christ focused and God fearing women out there who are abused and need help – the ones who are not receiving the help they need from their “church.” Thank you for validation. For believing me. For helping my wounds. For letting me finally tell my story. Thank you for having my previous church denomination on your list of people and places to avoid. I didn’t feel well today as I wrote this.  I thought I was going to faint a couple of times, my heart was racing, my heart palpitating, my adrenaline was pumping…. it was hard to write this. I left out a lot of other things that happened, other encounters with my ex, other abandonments, other oppressors, other evils. I also left out some amazing stories of God’s providence, though — of his reassurances of His love for me — of help from total strangers, of His provision. The good definitely overcame the evil in my life. I was silent, too. I never defended myself to anyone. God knew. He knows. And now you know too.  :). Thank you again for letting me tell my story.

In His love

 

Monday Mourning

Today I sit on my daughter’s empty bed again and just cry. I’m exhausted from a week of trying to undo yet again, what my ex did the week before. My life now is handling tantrums and rages born of fear, frustration, hurt and confusion. It’s crawling under benches and beds, to sit with my daughter when she is having “big feelings”. It’s holding my son as he clings to me, knowing he is simply afraid to let go. It’s working with his many fears, obsessions and compulsions that get worse every time we near transition. It’s reassuring him every time my voice changes, that he is not in trouble, that he is safe.

And I cry…

I cry because I had to send them back to him again, knowing full well what that means for them. I cry because I feel helpless to help them. Every other week, I am bound and helpless again. This is transition day for me. A day my heart punches at the core of my soul with helpless screams and moans, as I leave my babies at the designated drop off and they watch me walk away, their eyes wide and scared. I won’t see them for a week. I can’t protect them for a whole week.

The only thing I can do now, is make their beds, do their laundry, clean their sinks and prepare their spaces for when they come back to me again and we begin the long process of assessing and again correcting the damage that has been done. Slowly and quietly, that’s what I do on these transition days. The dread of the previous day’s anticipation of this day is realized and I attempt to lift my heart and rest my spirit for the familiar battle that I know is coming.

My week will be spent in preparation. Reading anything I can get my hands on, planning how to teach them the critical thinking skills they will need, to see truth and to manage living with a narcissistic, abusive father, without being ripped to shreds in the process. It’s the only thing I can do for them when they are with him. It’s the only protection I can offer them. I must teach them how to identify manipulation, how to spot blame shifting, how to counter gaslighting. It’s survival skills 101 and I am on an unwavering mission to educate myself and become fluent in abuserese, so that I can teach them to identify it too. And then I have to pray. Pray that the Lord give them discernment by the bucket load. Pray that all they have learned will be recognized and used to minimize the effects of the abuse on their little hearts and minds.

It’s teaching them to steer the boat and to navigate the rapids they will face, because I can’t be there to hold the rudder steady for them. My kids have to grow up a lot faster than they should. I can’t change that right now. But what I can do is give them the skills they will need along the journey they are on and pray like crazy that they will find their way through the darkness, into the safety of truth.

I know God is with them. I know He will steady their feet, as He steadies my heart. And so I make their beds today, I clean their dishes and put away their clothes. I pick my heart up off of the floor for the thousandth time and I resolve to push on. At some point, God promises a finish line, and I am determined to see my kids cross it.

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