A Cry For Justice

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

My Reaction to Wendell’s Story

I am about to admit something very vulnerable to our readers about a struggle I had this past week on our blog. It is not easy for me . . . I’m not entirely proud of this. But, God had something He very much wanted to teach me, thereby healing a little bit of the woundedness in me. And maybe it would help one of our readers, if anyone else struggled in the same way.

When Wendell wrote his second post about how he struggled with and overcame pornography, I had a strong reaction to it. (That post can be found here.) I noticed there were a few comments and I went in to read the article and respond. I admit I could not get through the entire post. I felt angry with Wendell. But, Wendell had done nothing to me! I was also angry that his post had been published. (I am so sad to admit this!) Here on this blog, we have a haven for victims and this man was coming onto the scene admitting the neglect of his wife and daughters . . . admitting his porn addiction . .. and then talking about how he received forgiveness and healing. The pinnacle of my frustration was that his dear wife forgave him and was clearly able to move on. In fact, she hardly remembered all he had written about! Was I supposed to just forgive over and over? And FORGET?

I found myself angrily telling myself things like this, “How nice that HIS wife forgot about it all!” and “SURE. I’m SURE he repented . . . he’ll do it again . . . . just like—“

My emotions were confusing me until I realized that something had been very triggered. But it wasn’t a trigger that God wanted me to walk away from this time. It was something that I needed to face. I wrote Barb and the Jeffs and told them of my struggle with the post. Jeff Crippen wrote back, explaining to me that, at some point, we need to allow another person to repent. He said, “At what point do we allow room on our blog, or in our lives, for genuinely repentant sinners, including porn users and/or abusers, to tell their stories to the glory of Christ?” Although the team was compassionate toward my triggers, it was obvious that I needed to think and pray through some things. Dear readers, I cried most of the afternoon. I took it all to God in prayer. Jeff Crippen had brought up Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. I thought about Saul/Paul. I wondered how skeptical the new Believers were about his conversion.  I wondered how the Christians who had lost family members (thanks to Paul) felt when he chose to follow Christ? And, yet, Paul walked victoriously. And the people he had hurt surely had to learn to forgive him and move forward in love . . . admitting that they are not perfect, either . . . and Wendell did not even do anything to me at all. And there is nothing for me to forgive in Wendell.

God showed me that Wendell was not my ex. He showed me that Wendell’s wife was not forced to stay with Wendell by the “c”hurch. He showed me that Wendell did not expect that she should. He showed me that Wendell was a true, repentant brother of mine. My ex repented over and over for show. Wendell repented one time . . . and has stayed clean. My ex was entitled and lied to me about what God desired from me (to stay in the marriage). Wendell was grateful his wife stayed with him. My ex’s grip tightened on me when he realized I was thinking about leaving for good. God showed me that Wendell’s wife was free to choose. My ex and his family held my reluctance to be his wife over my head. Wendell loved his wife so much and so well that, eventually, she forgot about what he did. And, with a lump in my throat, I decided right then and there to love Wendell, whole-heartedly, as my brother.

God wanted me to see and know that there are, in fact, men who belong to Him, who have hurt His precious daughters . . . and chose to repent, deciding to move forward in victory. And I want to accept that. After all, I am accepted by my true brothers and sisters. And I have failed and let people down in the past.

Something changed and healed in me that day. A part of my anger broke off. And I saw, clearly, the difference between a man who was a false believer , a taker and an abuser . . . . and a man who humbly genuinely repented and who has chosen to share his story to help others.

33 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Megan. You must have really been hurt deeply by your husband’s pornography use.

    I had a really strong reaction to the post as well – but for me it is more in what I see as a problem in the church with minimizing and normalizing the use of pornography. I still just don;t get the sense that people really get the gravity of it.

    As for forgiveness? I forgave my husband the first handful of times he used the stuff. I forgave him after his affair. And then I became a Christian and was guilted by the church into allowing myself to be vulnerable to my husband again even though there were no real signs of repentance. I think my pastor used an illustration from Larry Crabb about jumping and letting God catch me. So I did what I was told and entrusted myself to Jesus. But Jesus didn’t stop him from using again…and again…and again. Jesus didn’t even make him feel bad about it. This was very disillusioning for me as a new Christian.

    That said, I didn’t see this in Wendell’s testimony and wasn’t so much hostile to Wendell as I was to the nuances of porn temptation being somewhat “normal” and “to be expected.” I still sense a level of normalization and minimization…and I was hostile against that…but I have to leave that to the Holy Spirit.

    I really appreciate your honesty here and I am thankful for the patience and uderstanding of the ACFJ team. I feel though that I have to duck out of these conversations for now because it really does bother me that people are being hurt and all we care about is ourselves and our own lives. But maybe that’s my cue to go before the Lord as you did?

    • Desley, I hear you, and although I don’t quite have the same feelings you do, probably because I have not been up close and personal to the plight of those who are coerced into the porn industry, I hear the drive you have for this issue. I think at this blog we don’t and can’t concentrate on that aspect of injustice, because of what our focus is here. But there are other Christian ministries that do. Have you checked out Mending the Soul? They seem to be doing a lot to rescue girls who have been trafficked or driven into the sex industry. Maybe you could find a positive way of expressing your calling by engaging with them. Because it sounds to me like you might have a calling in that field, and that is why you feel so passionately about it.

      • Thanks Barbara. I do understand where you are coming from and will definitely check out the link. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

      • Desley you certainly haven’t offended me. Ever. :)

      • Barnabasintraining

        Me neither!

    • MeganC

      Desley — I completely understand what you mean about the church insisting you are vulnerable over and over. One counselor told me that, because Jesus became vulnerable to the beatings, that I was required to, as well (as per 1 Peter). It is a horrible, dark place to let your guard down only to be hurt over and over. A vicious, deplorable cycle. After a while, you become paralyzed. You simply cannot subject yourself to the pain, anymore. I am so sorry for all you have been there. I feel like I know that pain — remembering it cuts deep to my heart. Hugs.

      • Hugs to you too, Megan. Thanks again for writing this post.

  2. Megan oh sweet Megan, thank you so very much for writing this!! I purposely avoided reading Wendell’s article because I didn’t want to deal with it. I too didn’t want him to have repented, I was sure that it was a false and that he would again fall so why should I bother reading the posts. I am ashamed to say I judged my dear brother before even giving him a chance. You are right there are true believers out there who can be given true repentance by God and I should “aloud” God to do as He wishes and forgive whomever He wants. I want to apologies to Wendell for my judgments and I hope that he will forgive me.

    • Wendell G

      Bethany, I do not feel wronged in any way by you or Megan. We each have to deal with issues as they come up and in the ways they come up. I’ve been where you and Megan have described on different issues, so I completely understand.

      • Thank you Wendell :)

  3. Wendell G

    Thank you Megan for your words and your acceptance. Believe me, the absolute last thing I want to do is hurt another, especially one who has been hurt so severely. I am thankful that the grace of God can work in all our lives and recognize that but for His grace, I could fall again. Blessings to you, my sister!

    • MeganC

      Wendell . . . I was so worried this post might hurt your feelings. Thank you for your graciousness. This was a great struggle in me and I am glad that your post was written and published because it helped me to see some things that I wanted to deal with. Blessings to you, as well, my brother.

  4. Dear Meg, you already know I love this post and think you are very brave for sharing your feelings so transparently here. I admire the way you worked through this.
    What a strange phrase that is – to ‘work through’ something. As if we can clock on, trudge through a bad memory or a morass of bad feelings, put in the grunt to plough through it and come out the other side, clock off, and say “Well I worked through that!” But it’s not like that at all, when we do it with God’s help. It’s can be a morass of mud and grunge at first, but then God can open the windows of heaven and shine his light and turn the whole thing around. That makes the phrase ‘work through it’ seem inadequate, almost a desecration of what can occur in such transformations. Yet is IS work, at the same time. You chose to face it full on, rather than squash it down, step around it, or slide over it. And that takes mental and emotional muscle. So well done, sis!

    • MeganC

      Thank you, dear sister. Big hugs.

  5. Just Me

    Megan, you are such a gift to everyone on this blog. I have often thought “I wish I knew Megan so I could just sit and be completely safe in the company of someone so kind.” I appreciate your post and Wendell’s as well. They’re both examples of genuine repentance and forgiveness, which I admit I have not seen much of in my real life relationships. Lots of pressure and fake repentance, but the real stuff, not so much.

    Wendell’s posts helped me to solidify in my mind that my husband is not truly repentant. I realize it sometimes, then the guilt comes creeping in, and then I need to be reminded again. But I’ve come a long way since finding this blog.

    • MeganC

      Thank you for your kind words, Just Me. Either Jeff or Barb mentioned the fact that many would benefit from Wendell’s story that way — by being able to discern between false repentance and genuine repentance. And I understand that false guilt, as well. That is when we have to remember that Egypt was not that great, after all. It was actually slavery.

  6. Katy

    oh Meg. I understand so well. I am struggling deeply with bad attitudes toward all men in general. It really came to a head this week, and I said something ugly about a man who hasn’t done anything to me – all out of my own anger.
    I don’t know any men in real life like Wendell. I’m trying to plow through the same crap as you, just a little different angle.
    I think it’s easier to just ignore it and not deal with it. At least I’ve been able to do that so far… trying to figure out what the downside is of staying away from men for the rest of my life ;) I figure nobody will get hurt right? As long as I hide my feelings from my sons I guess. :(

    • MeganC

      I have been there, too, Katy. And often struggle in my attitude towards men (sorry ahead of time, men who read this blog!!!!). But, men who have come into my life, consistently exemplifying godliness, have helped me to heal to some extent. Wendell helped me through this post, as do both Jeffs, Martin and my incredible husband. I dare say there few around. But, they are out there.

    • I totally hear you, Katy. I was actually thinking this morning about how my negative attitude towards men is impacting my boys, as much as I try to hide it. I realized that my sexism is something that I need to deal with sooner rather than later if I am going to foster a healthy self-view and self-value in them. But everytime I try to move ahead with that it seems there are more men in the world trying to oppress and dominate women (like today’s news of the women in Egypt), and then I just see men as a threat again. There are some who don’t seem as threatening, but speaking on a general level…

      I don’t know how to deal with it or work through it…I am only trusting the Lord to soften my heart in time. I don’t know if this is the right approach to take or not.

      I will remember to pray for you. I know how hard it is.

      • Katy

        Desley – I quit watching the news cold turkey. I mean NOTHING. for months now. It really helped bring my anxiety levels down a notch. I figure if a meteor hits the earth I’d rather not know it’s coming. (heard about that one at work lol)
        Last week I had an incident with a man that is new to me – I guess I hoped that he was nice – he did something that let me know he’s not “safe” – so I was right back to feeling hateful and then I took it out on another man who was just in the wrong spot at the wrong moment.
        Seriously. It’s not good to be on a hair trigger. Anyone got a remedy? I’m leaning on the ark again :)

    • Annie

      There are some days I do wonder about men too, except I know that there are good men, because I have male members of my family who are honorable, courageous, kind, humble and just great all round (and I don’t mean my darling son!). It’s not that I haven’t met any elsewhere, like in church, but I KNOW my family members intimately, having lived with them, and I know it’s not an act, but you can never tell with anyone else.

      The other day I read a statistic that one researcher put out, that as many as 30% of men could be psychopathic – it is only one statistic, and based on one researcher’s definition, which could include traits that many people insist are simply human flaws such as selfishness, but of course, we know that disturbed characters will always be defensive, so that’s no help either. And I don’t know the stat for women, but it could be almost as high, which means that MANY of the people we come across or deal with are disturbed to the degree that being in close relationship will leave us damaged in some way. It’s still not the majority of human beings, but the impact of the damage is so devastating that we remember them more significantly than other relationships.

      This is not to be pessimisticabout the world we live in, but just wanted to interject with my own thoughts lately. A kind of reality check – that this world is mixed, there are people who are gems – reflections of Christ for whom I am thankful to have been blessed with knowing, then there are those who are crazy-making in their evil, leaving me with such a bitter taste in our mouths I wonder if there are ANY trustworthy characters around. I wonder if Christ was being reflective when he asked, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith?”

      Coming back to the original thread, thanks, Megan, for your heartfelt sharing, and thanks Wendell, for your bravery too. My heart floats when I hear of a genuine testimony of repentance and healing after brokenness. It doesn’t give me false hope of change in my ex, but it does silence the voice of the enemy in my ear that tries to accuse me of not acknowledging any chance of repentance, because I know that I am so happy to hear of a story like Wendell’s. Of course, it doesn’t answer the question of WHY some people take the hard steps and genuinely repent, and some don’t, even if they profess to try – a question that will remain unanswered for the time being.

      • Thanks Annie and welcome to our blog (it looks like this may be the first time you have commented).
        Can you please tell us where you read that statistic? It sounds way higher than the ones I’ve heard. Of course, it may depend on the definition and criteria for psychopathy, but I thought that by Roberts Hare’s criteria and research the rate is a lot lower than that.

        Not that we need or want to spend lots of time on this blog churning over statistics, because that in itself can be a massive time-soak and can stir up all sorts of controversy that is not very productive, let alone helpful to healing. But I’m just curious, since you brought it up.

      • Kathy seldon

        Hi Annie, in response to your reflection about the ratio of good, honest, devoted to Christ people versus the evil that we have become intimately acquainted with and that we see on the news, Jesus said the gate is narrow and few will pass through it. It’s strange how you can read that verse and feel like you understand it. Then, when your eyes are opened through some learning experience, you realize just how much you didn’t understand about Jesus’ words after all. This experience is causing me to see much of scripture in a whole new light.

      • Annie

        Kathy, I thought about that exact verse after I posted my comment!

        Barbara, I had to thumb through my history on the net to find the article where I read that quote. It took a while, but I finally found it. When I tried to look at the citation and the link from which it was sourced, I was unsuccessful – the page was gone. I googled the name but couldn’t find much about the person. Finally, I googled the name and the quote, and unbelievable, there were about 10 entries with exactly the same quote in it! After a bit more research, I found out that the author has been widely misquoted, and that what she had claimed was that 30% of the men who had entered her treatment program were sociopathic. The author is Pamela Jayne, MA, who wrote Ditch that Jerk.

        The original article where I read about her quote acknowledged that the consensus seems to be that 1-4% of males and 0.5-1% of females are psychopaths, but this is a very fuzzy figure. Dr Simon George prefers to refer to a spectrum of behaviors and disturbed characters don’t have to display the fullblown version of a personality disorder to leave a devastating trail of hurt and brokenness in their wake.

      • Thanks Annie, those figures are much more in line with what I have read elsewhere. And I have great respect for George Simon’s perspective too. I really appreciate that you followed that up for us. :)

  7. Barnabasintraining

    God showed me that Wendell was not my ex. He showed me that Wendell’s wife was not forced to stay with Wendell by the “c”hurch. He showed me that Wendell did not expect that she should. He showed me that Wendell was a true, repentant brother of mine. My ex repented over and over for show. Wendell repented one time . . . and has stayed clean. My ex was entitled and lied to me about what God desired from me (to stay in the marriage). Wendell was grateful his wife stayed with him. My ex’s grip tightened on me when he realized I was thinking about leaving for good. God showed me that Wendell’s wife was free to choose. My ex and his family held my reluctance to be his wife over my head. Wendell loved his wife so much and so well that, eventually, she forgot about what he did.

    Sooooo many important distinctions here, Megan!

    So much important truth in your post and in Jeff C’s comments to you.

    God wanted me to see and know that there are, in fact, men who belong to Him, who have hurt His precious daughters . . . and chose to repent, deciding to move forward in victory.

    This is very important.

    And I want to accept that. After all, I am accepted by my true brothers and sisters.

    Yes. You are. :)

  8. Now Free

    Megan, thank you for your courageous post. I know that you have helped a lot of us here, no matter what type of abuses we have experienced. What a blessing you are to all of us, dear sister.

  9. Anonymous

    You are very brave, Megan, so I will just share my thoughts briefly. I did not read past the repentance part. I just could not deal with it. I am happy for his repentance, it is just that I am so confused as to what to trust, or what that would ever look like for my situation, or whether I could accept it and stay, even if it ever did happen. All I can think of is how many times I thought the repentance was real and it was nothing but fake and how he went on from there, behind my back working with this sick pastor, to utterly destroy my life, all the while saying how “changed” he was. I am destroyed, but I am still with him. Why? Because the folks at that “c”hurch continued to tell me that this is what God wants for me and I cannot bring myself to disappoint my God. I just could not read about his wife staying with him. I don’t have a problem with the repentance, just her staying and this “happy ending”, (restoration) that I just do not really believe happens for most of us, nor do I believe it is God’s will for most of us, to stay with our abuser. Not that I begrudge her that or would ever say she was wrong for staying, obviously she was not, but those kind of stories just add to my confusion. I will say, that at this point in my life, I cannot even imagine ever being whole. The wounds are just too deep, too dark, and what he has done to me is just so sinful; it would have been better for me, if he had gotten a gun, but it wouldn’t have been better for my kids. I tend to avoid stories that end this way, because they are so rare, so few and far between and there is not that kind of hope in my situation. So, no offense intended, but I just couldn’t read through those posts.

    • Just Me

      “Because the folks at that “c”hurch continued to tell me that this is what God wants for me and I cannot bring myself to disappoint my God.” There it is. This is exactly it! When a bunch of professing Christians are telling a person that if they leave, they will be acting against God’s will, it is so hard to go against that. My thoughts start racing “What if they’re right? I’m already having such a hard time seeing/feeling God’s presence in my life. If I step outside of His will, how will I ever find him again?” On the other hand, if a whole bunch of professing Christians tell an abuser that what he is doing is against God’s will, what happens? Nothing. Our marriage counselor has confronted my husband on a number of issues. His response has been to hide it better to save himself the embarrassment of being confronted by the counselor. I eventually confronted him about it during an appointment (and I had lots of proof that he was still engaging in the things he had said he changed and demanded forgiveness for on several occasions). He lied, and lied. Once I had knocked down all his lies, he confessed. Now he’s showing some signs of change, but I still think it’s an act.

      “I will say, that at this point in my life, I cannot even imagine ever being whole. The wounds are just too deep, too dark” I have the same thoughts some times too.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Anon. And I think you are just as brave as Meg, and as Wendell, for having shared how Wendell’s story affected you. I hear you. I think the way your responded to Wendell’s story is totally understandable. It must have brought up so much for you (and everyone here knows I’m not blaming Wendell, nor saying that we made a poor decision to publish his two posts) … I’m just acknowledging that for you, Anon, and perhaps for other readers who are not writing what you have written here, but have quietly been having similar responses to yours, this story of repentance from porn use is SO SO close to the bone.

      Please hear me, Anon, and anyone else who is in her shoes, the Bible does NOT require a wife to stay with a husband who is addicted to porn and whose has only feigned repentance. You will not be ‘disappointing God’ if you end your marriage to a man like that. To invoke the threat that “God will be disappointed if you leave your husband” over a woman in that situation is terribly, terribly wrong. It is spiritual abuse. People who do that are using the name of God in vain, they are committing a form of blasphemy – breaching of the third commandment.

      Listen:

      I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11 ESV)

      This is a commandment, not a mild ‘might be good to do’ suggestion.

      And the exception clause in Matthew 19:9 and 5:32 (except on the ground of sexual immorality) tells us that sexual immorality is a permissible ground for divorce and there is no condemnation to the innocent partner who chooses to divorce a spouse who has been sexually immoral. The term ‘sexual immorality’ is wider than just plain adultery, it covers lots of different kinds of sexual sin. No condemnation to the innocent spouse. No compulsion to remain in that relationship. No hint that God would be ‘disappointed’ if the innocent spouse chose to divorce. Not one tiny hint. Those who claim that God would be disappointed are speaking from their own distorted and twisted ideas, they are not speaking with Biblical authority.

      As for the virtually unimaginable possibility that an inveterate porn addict who has feigned repentance many times over, so many times that his spouse’s heart is crushed with pain and unspeakable grief and her trust for him can RIGHTLY, SENSIBLY not be awakened, found, conjured, forced, or coerced ever again, what right does anyone have to say that such a woman would ‘disappoint God’ if she divorced her husband? No right at all. It is pure spiritual abuse to say such a thing.

      Even if such a man were finally, by miraculous intervention of God, truly to repent, the first fruit of his repentance would be that he admit he has no right to expect the woman – the woman he so unspeakably betrayed – to remain married to him. Such a man, if he were truly repentant, would be saying that he had hurt his wife so badly that it would be completely understandable that she could never, ever, trust him again, nor even want to imagine herself trusting him again, because even such imagining would cause her great pain. That is what true repentance in such a case would look like.

      And add into this mix the fact that this man has connived and conspired with a pastor to spiritually abuse you through the church as well…. Pshaw! If such a man were ever to repent, he would fall in dust and ashes and not even expect you to want to look at him. He would understand how grossly he hurt you and would do anything in his power to allow you to heal. And if that meant you didn’t want to see and talk to him ever again, he would mutely accede to your wishes.

      • MeganC

        Oh, Barb. Thank you for this . . .

      • Anonymous

        He’s not been into porn, that I know of. You know what he has done, however…

        Thank you for sharing this with me, Barb. Just going through one of those really hard and confusing times.

        Thank you also Wendell, for sharing from your heart all that the Lord has done for you and for glorifying His name in all of it.

  10. Now Free

    Barb and Annie, I did a quick search and found this link. Prison stats can really skew results. Maybe this was what Jayne was basing her studies on. I hope that she didn’t quote those figures in her book!

    https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-people-are-psychopaths-sociopaths/answer/Jim-Seidman

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