A Cry For Justice

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

Report From the Bob Jones University Sexual Abuse Seminar — Part 3

Most of my time for this post was eaten up hoofing it a ridiculously far distance in the Wash DC Dulles airport.  After getting back to Portland last night, my brain was not functional enough to write.  So, I finally get to it here.

The last session Wednesday evening was on the topic of your church and media relations. The speaker was Pamela Snyder who holds degrees in this field.  She did an excellent job.  Initially I thought that this subject was going to simply be how to spin things with the media and protect your reputation.  The whole subject certainly has elements of that, but I do think Pamela was quite sincere and that she shared some very practical wisdom.  Wisdom which, as I will mention in a moment, the BJU administration should have paid more serious attention to in Thursday morning’s opening sessions.

The Q&A time Thursday AM was insightful.  As was consistent through this whole seminar, the 5 speakers who had given earlier presentations, sat on the panel and were very good.  They get it because they work right in the middle of abuse victims and the courts and law enforcement and the whole scene.

Our book was finally mentioned to the whole audience on Thursday morning, and we appreciate this.  That announcement created an increased flurry of activity later at the Calvary Press book table.  I was hoping that in the course of announcing the book they would also recognize that I was present at the seminar, but they stopped short of that.  In fact, my name was never mentioned and my presence at the conference was never acknowledged — only the book title.  Sure, I have to watch out for a petty bruised ego here, but I hope that my motive in mentioning this is to show the existence of a climate that is intensely distrustful of anything or anyone outside its defined perimeter.  I understand that the faculty at BJU don’t know me or much about me.  And they certainly have a duty to guard against endorsing an unbiblical resource.  But in my opinion the distrust there is unreasonable and detrimental to everyone there.  They should have even had books like Lundy Bancroft’s there for people to buy, but their isolation from “the world” is cutting them off from many, many excellent resources like this.  Worse, it is bringing great harm to many people because it produces what I conclude to be an unbiblical “biblical counseling” philosophy that is deficient in wisdom.

Thursday morning the assistant to the president of BJU read a prepared statement to all of us, then again later to the gathered student body during the chapel.  He explained how BJU had contracted with an organization called GRACE to serve as what he called the school’s “ombudsman.”  Their assignment is to be an objective third party to review and comprehensively study BJU’s past, present and future handling of sexual abuse occurrences.  He said that the school may have not properly handled such cases in the past and that the president wanted to take definitive steps to correct this.

Now, that sounds all well and good.  But remember the media expert lady, Pamela Snyder?  I am almost positive that she would have been sitting there in the audience absolutely cringing as this fellow made his presentation to us.  Why?  Because (as everyone who attended Pamela’s Wednesday evening presentation also knew) he violated almost every single fundamental rule that she had talked about!  He was a “suit.”  He was sharply dressed in suit and tie.  His hair was slicked back.  And he read his statement. Guess what?  You CANNOT convey sincerity and genuine sorrow via a read statement.  I told a couple of people there that if I had been able to have our blog readers be present during that guy’s presentation, they would have been looking around for rotten tomatoes!  It just didn’t work.  It wasn’t believable.

Later, I went back up to our book table and as I said there were noticeably more people there looking at the book and some bought a copy.  I had the opportunity to talk with a young pastor there who asked me about a scenario in his own church that involved a sexual offender who had molested numerous children.  As we talked, I went on to tell him about the book and how this issue of sexual abuse shares many common dynamics with domestic abuse, including the common grievous errors that churches and pastors make in handling these things.  We were connecting — until I mentioned my conclusion that abuse is biblical grounds for divorce.  Typically, he went silent and was noticeably uncomfortable.  He said “but we must obey God’s Word.”  And he meant it.  I think he is a sincere Christian who is zealous to obey the Lord.  But I told him, “yes, we must obey God’s Word.  But in doing so, we had better be sure that it is God’s Word we are obeying and not the traditions of men.”  I then gave him the following example:

This last year you might remember the horrible and tragic death of a young mother and her two young daughters in Ohio in a Cracker Barrel restaurant.  We blogged about it.  The abuser father/husband, when his wife told him in this public place that she and the girls were leaving him, went out to the car.  She called the police but just before they arrived the abuser came back in with a shotgun and killed all three of them.  Right there!  Could you imagine it?  He then was killed by the police as he came out of the restaurant.

Now, I continued, lets assume that the mother had survived.  And let’s say that the abuser was taken into custody by the police.  And I asked that young pastor, “are you going to tell that poor lady that she is forbidden by God to divorce that demon?”

He was silent.

You see, we KNOW that to insist that God demands these victims to stay married to these devils is ludicrous.  That it is cruel and unjust and absolutely incomprehensible.  It makes no sense.  And yet, since so many of us were taught that “God hates divorce” (sorry for using that term Barbara), this is exactly what we tell these people.  Although, you know what?  I am seeing increasingly that behind closed doors with the qualifier “you didn’t hear if from me,” some pastors and “authorities” are saying — “well, it is sad, but go ahead and divorce.”

When our interpretation of Scripture makes no sense in that it is totally inconsistent with the very character of God who desires MERCY and not sacrifice, then we can be sure that our take on God’s Word is WRONG!

Finally, there was a chapel message preached by Pastor Ken Casillas, and it was excellent.  Dr. Casillas is on the BJU seminary faculty and is also a pastor in the Greenville area.  He addressed the matter of how we can help victims of sexual abuse.  One point he made particularly stands out in my mind because it goes right up against some of the hardcore “biblical counseling” that we often run into.  He said that we must remember that we are not writing a seminary paper in these cases, but that we are dealing with human beings.  And too often, he acknowledged, we have run to force “forgiveness” upon them and to accuse them of being “angry” in a sinful way, and he said this is absolutely wrong.  I greatly appreciated his message.

In summary then, what was my experience at the seminar?  I can say that I am very glad that I went.  I had a chance to put our book in the hands of some key people.  I was encouraged by the speakers themselves.  And I can also say from this firsthand observation that our Cry for Justice needs to keep on sounding because we cannot assume that just because this seminar was held that anything of substance is really going to change.  The seminar still lacked any forum for victims to tell everyone how they suffered at the hands of their “Christian” abuser and how they suffered even more when they went to their pastor and church for help.  That remains the untold story and we must keep telling it.

41 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  2. MariusP

    Thanks again, Jeff! I’m glad you were able to come to the conference and that you have been able to share your experiences here. I look forward to following your blog in the future!

  3. Joan

    May God bless you for your faithfulness, Jeff!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Joan!

  4. Song

    Thank you, Jeff, for your time in attending the seminar and for reporting on it. I appreciate how you’ve presented your observations. And, thank you for the work you are doing with this blog. It is a much needed voice.

  5. I am so happy you were able to go, Jeff. I am sure it was a much better thing that you went than if you had not, both for you and for many there who got to speak to you personally. I am very glad you were able to challenge some people and give them food for thought. I do hope they come to their senses, God having granted them repentance (I’m thinking of 2 Timothy 2:24-26 here).

    I’m glad you are encouraged. I am too.

    Thank God for what Ken Casillas said. He is so right.

  6. MeganC

    Thank you for representing the victims — being a voice to the best of your ability at this conference. Thank you for your tireless work.

    “And I can also say from this firsthand observation that our Cry for Justice needs to keep on sounding because we cannot assume that just because this seminar was held that anything of substance is really going to change.”

    We will keep sounding as long as we have a voice!

  7. Echoing all the others here by saying thank you, and thank you also to the dear folk in your church who prompted you to go and assisted the journey. I think your reports have been balanced, fair, and reasonable. The prepared statement read by that guy sounds all too typical of these kinds of things. The lack of emotional sincerity conveyed WAY more than whatever the prepared words were intended to convey. An imbalance of grave proportions.

    More and more these days, I listen with my body not just my brain. I am open to what my gut is telling me about the spirit and emotions of the other person. And I notice the disjunctions between their words and their spirit. If there is a chasm between the two, that tells me more than all their words tell me.

    • Song

      “More and more these days, I listen with my body not just my brain. I am open to what my gut is telling me about the spirit and emotions of the other person. And I notice the disjunctions between their words and their spirit. If there is a chasm between the two, that tells me more than all their words tell me.”

      I love this, Barbara! Thank you!

    • Barbara,

      I’m doing this more these days too. That gut thing. I’ve ignored that way too many times in my life and have always regretted it. I’m trying to listen better.

      I just finished reading The Gift of Fear again (whilst sitting in the dark w/no power, reading by flashlight). He was saying something very similar.

      • So you survived the hurricane 🙂 praise God. But still no power eh? Did you lose any property of importance?

      • Jeff Crippen

        Crikeys! Reading a scary book in the dark. Good exercise though. Feel the fear:):)

      • No. We didn’t lose any property. Only the food in the fridge and freezer. Not too bad! We only lost power for about a week. We have it back now. I am so grateful for that I can hardly contain myself. But we do not live in a flood zone so that was not a concern.

        I was just thinking it was funny to be reading a book on fear in the dark by flashlight. 🙂

      • That’s good! And yes, funny to be reading that book by flashlight!

  8. cj

    Interesting reports. Thanks for these.

    Two questions for you:

    1. Might the reading of the statement be due to the perceived need for precision? Usually when exact words are wanted or desired, reading something is the best way to make sure you don’t inadvertently say something you didn’t intend. It does come across differently when you read it, and I don’t pretend to know their reasoning, but sometimes it is a good idea.

    2. On the divorce thing, given that one of the major positions is that the Bible never permits divorce, and another major position that it permits divorce only for the two reasons, it is not strange that there are some who think it doesn’t permit divorce for abuse. Many however do permit separation for abuse. It would be interesting to know if this man you speak of would allow for separation. And what his view of divorce was. These thing would help to form a more accurate view of his issues. And it may just be something he had never thought of before.

    • Jeff Crippen

      cj – As to your first question, a good one – I can tell you that anyone in the session at the seminar in which Pamela Snyder gave her talk on the church and the media and making statements like this – the need for precision does not outweigh the need for believability. The fact is, and it was quite plain, that in his presentation just about everything she had taught us the evening before was violated. In a case like this, no, it was not a good idea.

      Regarding the second question, the “permanence view” (ie, that the Bible never permits divorce) is not a major view. The second view (basis is twofold, adultery or desertion) could be called a majority view. I don’t think that it is strange that pastors and Christians hold to a no divorce for abuse position. I think it is tragic. And I say that because for the last two years now, daily, not only have I been studying this topic Scripturally, but I have been dialoguing with Christians who have been or are currently victims of horrendous, terrible, evil abuse. And my study of the character of God and of the biblical teaching on divorce simply cannot be reconciled with a no divorce for abuse position. Here is a question that until a couple of years ago I had not thought about. Where does the Bible allow for husband and wife to merely separate? Only 1 Cor 7 mentions it, but that isn’t for abuse — it is for prayer for a short time. Now, if you mean separation in the sense of getting the victim away from the abuser for her own safety, fine. But how long is that to be for? In most cases she is being told that she must always be working to reconciliation. And that is just plain wrong and dangerous once you understand the mentality and nature of the abuser.

      Yes, it may be something he has never thought of before. But you know what? There are some things that we need to think about. And carefully, before we run off and start telling people in dangerous situations what they can or cannot do and putting God’s authority on what we tell them. Very, very commonly I find that pastors and Christians have simply embraced time-worn tradition that is parading as God’s Word when it isn’t.

      Thanks for these questions. If you want more food for thought, I highly recommend not only my book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Abuse Hides in your Church, but Barbara Roberts’ book Not Under Bondage, and also David Instone-Brewer’s book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church. Wonderful stuff.

    • cj, based on Jeff’s description it sounds like indeed his view on divorce was challenged. I don’t think Jeff was judging him for this. As I read it (and Jeff can correct me if I’m wrong here) Jeff was pointing out how this is an uncomfortable area due to the traditional positions you mentioned, but when people are confronted with the realities of a doctrine that does not allow for divorce in abuse cases, often they have to reevaluate the traditional understandings because they just do not line up with the character of God as he is revealed in scripture.

      The reality is, traditional positions are largely not challenged until people experience the effects themselves- that is part of the “waking up” on this issue that I see Jeff and Barbara doing here. As long as the Evangelical church is unaware of what abusive marriages do to people, it can remain ignorant of how badly these traditional doctrines injure the oppressed. Once they hear the stories and “get it”, we as the church will be able to do a much better job of coming along side the oppressed and helping them gain the life God desires for them.

      To me it is not surprising that the man became uncomfortable with Jeff mentioning divorce in abuse cases; however, it does grieve me. The two positions that you mention absolutely destroy people by chaining them to abusers. Even separation without divorce is a bondage no one should suffer, and there is nothing to suggest it is Biblical in any way. It smacks of legalism to say “you can’t get divorced, but its ok if you don’t live together, love one another, or share the same life together- as long as we call this separation instead of divorce and you arent sexually active, you are ok.”

      I think the work of David Instone-Brewer clearly demonstrates that divorce for abuse is Biblical in his book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible”- not a light book, it is the work of a scholar who has thoroughly investigated and presented overwhelming evidence on the topic of divorce and remarriage in the Bible. If he is right (and I’m certain he is) then the church absolutely needs to wake up to the oppression it has caused to the abused, for calling people to suffer at the pleasure of men rather than God is an injustice of the highest order.

      • Oops, I cross posted my reply without having seen Jeff C’s post, lest it just sound like I was parroting him!

    • Dear cj, on your second question, I concur with what the two Jeffs said, but I’ll add this as well. Certainly, it isn’t strange that that many Christians think the Bible doesn’t permit divorce for abuse – because this has been a wrong teaching and grave misunderstanding in the church for approximately 1900 years. There was a brief window during the Puritan era where some realised that 1 Cor. 7:15 allows divorce for abuse. But other than that, the doctrine has been grievously misunderstood, distorted, argue about with forest load of trees made into book and pamphlets … and all while victims of domestic abuse were weeping into their pillows.
      As for the idea that divorce for abuse was ‘something he had never thought of before’ then I’m sorry, but I’m going to be harsh here. A minister or man in Christian leadership who had not thought about divorce for domestic abuse before is a man of no integrity and compassion, or a man who has lived on some planet where domestic abuse does not occur. I would bet that any Christian man who has been in leadership will have come across cases of domestic abuse in his own back yard. His own congregation. He MUST have thought about it.
      I’m a little sick of giving these leaders tolerance and patience and excuses. They come across this heinous sin. They can’t deny it. Why aren’t they more ready to face it and deal with it?
      My question is, Why did that man not jump with delight when Jeff C said he believes the Bible grants divorce for domestic abuse? Why did he not say “Brother, I’ve been looking for that and praying about it for years! Tell me where you found that doctrine! Explain it to me! I have women who I can tell this to, and it will set them free of so much false guilt!”

      • “Why did that man not jump with delight when Jeff C said he believes the Bible grants divorce for domestic abuse?”

        Hoping not to be guilty of “giving these leaders tolerance and patienced and excuses”, one very real reason is that I think Christians are taught to suppress our feelings when they conflict with the Word (which really means traditional understanding of the Word). The result is that when something “feels right” we get all skeptical and worried that we are being worldly.

        It is definitely right to be cautious about new perspectives that may have emotional appeal- for instance, if we could show universalism, who wouldn’t rejoice? Such a teaching would be dangerous to embrace, though. That being said, I think we’ve swung too far in the direction of becoming cold and calculated with our interpretation of scripture (too much like computers, I dare say) and it is time to wake up. I agree our fist response ought to be excitement and a desire to see for ourselves.

        This is why one of my big disappointments with John Piper in his response to IB is his use of the word “tragic”. Rather, if Piper is just absolutely convinced theologically to hold to the permenence view despite the mountain of evidence IB provides, he should do so with regret if he has a measure of mercy within him. Holding divorce for abuse to be “tragic” makes me ill.

        On a note about the historical teaching on divorce, I think that at least Martin Luther held to divorce in abuse cases (if I recall correctly he felt abuse by a believer would make that believer “worse than an unbeliever”). I’m trying to recall other historical views because I remember IB spent some time in this in his book on this, but my memeory is fuzzy.

      • Thanks Jeff S. As usual, you moderate my emotional excesses! 🙂
        I was guilty of forgetting what I used to be like, before I understood and had thought through this stuff like I have now.

  9. cj

    Thanks for the answer Jeff. A couple of comments in quick reply. I don’t want to detract here from your very good reviews of the conference.

    1. I believe divorce is permissible for abuse (it is part of abandoning the marriage), so I am not defending him in the least. But it would not be uncommon for a pastor not to deal with this (I haven’t in 20 years), and this guy was young (according to the report). There are a lot of reasons, notably enablement and fear which prevent the abused from coming forward to begin with. It is also well known that encountering new ideas that run counter to long held ideas are uncomfortable (particularly long held religious beliefs). All of which is to say, particularly to Barbara, extending grace to those who haven’t had your experience is a good thing. Being harsh and abusive towards someone you don’t even know, and don’t know the circumstances of is not the best way to address a situation.

    2. “No divorce” is a major position, Jeff’s assertion not withstanding. That’s why it’s in the four views book on Divorce and Remarriage by IVP Academic, and is addressed in virtually every work on divorce. A brief review of the literature shows that it’s not a majority position (the two cause position is majority, and both no remarriage and remarriage are major positions as well). But the permanence view is a major view that must be dealt with and it has some stout exegetical support. BTW, I read Instone-Brewer ten years ago and have followed some of the interaction on it.

    3. To Jeff 2, Piper (unless he has changed recently) doesn’t hold the permanence view. He holds that one can divorce, but neither can remarry so long as the ex-spouse is alive. You can read Piper’s response here: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/tragically-widening-the-grounds-of-legitimate-divorce.

    To all thanks.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks CJ. I appreciate your input and good observations. I can keep them in mind for the next time I speak with someone on this topic. Good job!

    • CJ, I am aware of Piper’s position (it was the position of my church); I thought that WAS the permanence view.

    • Cj, I as you can see in my short response above, I am sorry for my momentary harshness.
      I don’t wish to imply you are not being honest, but I am actually stunned that in 20 years of ministry you have not had to deal with a case of domestic abuse. From what I have read (including the research by Nancy Nason-Clark) it is something that most pastors will encounter at least once and often many more times in their pastoral career. (I agree that if a minister is young, he may not have encountered it yet…) But twenty years! That is a surprise to me.
      I am curious to know: are you saying you have never had a case where a victim of abuse was considering divorcing the abusive spouse? Or that you’ve never had any report or hint at all of domestic abuse occurring in your flock in twenty years? The two things are somewhat different.
      Yes, there are reasons why victims don’t come forward, fear and enablement being two major ones. But have you considered other reasons? I have read more than one research paper or book (sorry, can’t recall the citations now) which say that if pastors talk about domestic abuse from the pulpit, victims and survivors are a lot more likely to come forward.
      That ‘talk’ can be in many forms: praying for victim-survivors and their children (without mentioning individuals, necessarily); preaching about domestic abuse as a sermon topic, or incidentally within sermons; making an announcement that the pastor is going to a seminar on domestic abuse; acknowledging White Ribbon Day or Domestic Violence Awareness Month; encouraging the church to support the local domestic violence shelter, etc.

      Carol Adams refers to a case where a minister announced he was going to a training on domestic violence, and he had five disclosures from his congregation as a result. He was stunned. He thought there was an epidemic of it in his church. Then he realised his congregation was probably no more affected by domestic abuse than other congregations, he’d just never talked about it before, so no-one had come forward.
      BTW, in that anecdote, it wasn’t clear how many disclosures were of current domestic abuse, and how many were of former (historical) abuse.

  10. cj

    To Jeff S, I think Piper’s position is closer to Heth, that divorce is permissible but remarriage is not until death of one spouse. Piper does believe that the porneia in Matt 19 is premarital, but I don’t think he rules out divorce. He certainly rules out remarriage. But I could be wrong. Carl Laney would be a proponent of permanence (as Ryrie was until he was divorced, I believe).

    To Barbara, Yes in almost 20 years (20 next summer) I haven’t had to deal with domestic abuse and by “deal with it,” I mean actual involvement. In two cases, I know by third hand information that it happened in the fairly distant past long before they were attenders of this church, but I directly asked and I was told it i not ongoing. In marital counseling, I have outright asked several people, “Has he (or she) ever hit you or physically threatened you?” I always been told no, even in private and even in multiple questions at different times.

    One factor may be that we are a small church, and so the sample size (if you will) is pretty small. We have had a lot of people come and go since this is a fairly transient community. And we have a significant percentage of single people, including those who have never married. The only one I recall that I would have directly been involved with was a guy who came three or four times over a few month period about ten years ago, who was a heavy drinker. When I went to check on him, I heard that he had been incarcerated for hitting his girlfriend. It was apparently a parole violation but I hadn’t had time to get to know him sufficiently to learn his history. But I never knew the girlfriedn, and I haven’t seen him since that time (probably 2001 or 2002). I am sure there have been others that I just don’t know about.

    You have some great ideas, and I appreciate them. I have talked about it in preaching on marriage, in terms of emotional, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. Your ideas about conferences and the like are very helpful. I will look into that and certainly make it public that I am.

    Thanks again to all.

    • Jeff Crippen

      CJ – It is great to have you here. Thanks again. Ok, saying this with a grin — Barbara is going to give you a bit of instruction from what you said here. Listen to what she says. I had to learn it too. Maybe it is just int he way you worded this and maybe you already know, but the phrase you used that is going to leap out at most all of our readers here is “I have outright asked several people, “Has he (or she) ever hit you or physically threatened you?”” Most often, and as I said, maybe you know this, if you limit your question with the adjective “physically,” then women’s shelter workers, abuse counselors and advocates and so on are going to immediately conclude that you don’t understand abuse. I think that you will learn that if we limit the abuse with that adjective, we are not going to get a “yes” answer in many, many cases. Most of the terrible abuse is psychological warfare. It is verbal, emotional, spiritual. Sometimes the physical is there too, but certainly not always and maybe even not most often.

      Still grinning:) You seem to have a teachable spirit and believe me, I had to learn a lot too.

      • Song

        Yep, you nailed it, Jeff. That phrase leaped loud and clear. Been there, heard it, and had to answer “No” because of the way the answer was phrased.

    • Jeff S

      CJ, I really appreciate your transparency and contribution here. Whatever others will say about your encountering or not encountering abusers, I think it’s great that you are burdened enough by this issue to be here without having had personal experience. You may be one of the first I’ve met- before my own personal situation I’d have probably said “divorce for abuse- yeah, I imagine that’s true” but I never looked into it. The fact of the matter is, I just had faith in the church that it would be handled in a way that was merciful and just. Even after my own church handled my situation badly, I figured it was something of an anomaly until I started looking deeper. When I read Jeff C’s book and heard story after story that mirrored my own experience (except many times much worse) I realized that what happened to me was not an isolated event, and there is a problem in the church.

      See, God had to get my attention in this area for me to develop a heart for the abused. It seems you’ve been looking at this stuff for some time and are engaging with the subject, and doing this without it landing in your face and suddenly having to deal with in a personal way. I respect that and hope you come away with information that can help prevent more mishandled situations. I highly recommend Jeff C’s book book- even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, simply hearing the personal stories in the book gives such a vivid picture of how this issue is hurting one of our core missions as the evangelical church: to bring justice to the oppressed.

      On the subject of “permanence”, I see what you are saying. To be honest I haven’t really distinguished between “allowing divorce but not remarriage” and “not allowing divorce”. To me they are functionally the same thing (and yes, my pastor said to me “we recognize divorce happens, but we’d ask you not to remarry”- I didn’t really feel that made me any less of a 2nd class citizen in the church). But if this is a distinction that they draw, I will note it in the future.

      • joepote01

        “To be honest I haven’t really distinguished between “allowing divorce but not remarriage” and “not allowing divorce”. To me they are functionally the same thing”

        Jeff S. – I completely agree with you on this. I am aware of the distinction and understand some of the mechanics of how some have arrived at such conclusions.

        However, to say that one may never remarry unless the former spouse dies, is to say that they are still in bondage and still under covenant obligation to the marriage…which basically means the position is that the divorce was meaningless.

        When God redeemed Israel from their covenant with Pharaoh, they were not left with any covenant obligations to Egypt. They were granted full release from that covenant of bondage.

        Thank God, our Redeemer lives!

      • Yup. Divorce DOES work. It is not a fictitious ritual. It really does end a marriage: there are no more obligations or ties. That’s what the Jewish divorce certificate said “You are free to marry another man.”

        The Jewish divorce certificate was written in that gender because the way the Jews interpreted the OT (Deut. 24:1) they believed that only husbands could write and sign divorce certificates. But as David Instone-Brewer has documented, a Jewish wife could ask the elders/judges to compel her husband to write her a divorce certificate. Presumably wives did this when they were being abused or neglected by their husbands, and the judges at the time gave credence to the claims. (See Instone-Brewer for more detail).

        This law that only husbands can issue divorce certificates still applies in modern Israel. There have been a few men who have refused the court’s order that they write a divorce certificate for their wives; such men have actually be jailed for not complying with the court order! The Israeli women are called ‘chained women’ because they are not legally divorced and therefore are not able to remarry.

      • Jeff S and Joe,

        Given that the Jewish divorce certificate specifically contained the words “you are free to marry whomever you wish” it would seem the whole purpose for divorce was the freedom from covenant bondage to be able to remarry.

      • Yes- the very concept of divorce has remarriage built in. However, I suppose it isn’t fair to misrepresent someone else’s distinction of doctrine, even if the distinction doesn’t make sense to me. I disagree with both positions, so how they distinguish themselves is up to them.

      • joepote01

        BIT – Very well stated!

      • joepote01

        “I disagree with both positions, so how they distinguish themselves is up to them.”

        Made me laugh! And I completely agree. 🙂

    • When did Ryrie get divorced?

    • Thanks Cj. We may have got off to a slightly rough start because of my (hopefully short lived) lack of temperance, but I think we are tracking well now, and I really appreciate your latest reply. 🙂 I also appreciate how widely read you are in divorce debate. Not many have read that widely, and as Jeff S notes, you seem to have done so without having been ‘driven’ to it by some pressing in-your-face exigency. That is admirable; I wish more people had read as broadly in the literature as you have.
      You wrote:

      In marital counseling, I have outright asked several people, “Has he (or she) ever hit you or physically threatened you?” I always been told no, even in private and even in multiple questions at different times.

      As Jeff C indicated I might, I would like to comment on this. Firstly, I appreciate your noting that you had (at least some of the time) asked that question in private. And that you’d asked it multiple times – because it can take a lot of time and a lot of trust-building for a victim to disclose to an outsider such as a pastor.
      When inquiring whether a person may be suffering abuse, it is very important that you ask the person in private. In particular, if you ask it in the presence of the other spouse, you will very likely get a denial, even if abuse is being perpetrated. Obviously, the victim who discloses in a coupe counseling session is at severe risk of payback from the abuser, once they leave your office.
      But there are more factors involved. The first and most important one, as Jeff C described, is that it is not good to frame the question as “Has your spouse ever hit you?” of “Has your spouse ever been violent to you?” Both these questions give a loud and clear message to the victim that you don’t class it as abuse unless there is violence, and probably only ‘hitting’ counts as ‘real’ violence. That message is playing right into one of the biggest myths that perpetrators spread about abuse: that it’s not abuse unless it’s violence. That is so far from the truth. Please read our definition of abuse on the RH sidebar of this blog.

      Research shows that perpetrators believe “Whatever physical stuff I do to my spouse is not real violence!” So if an abuser pushes his or her spouse against the wall sometimes, or flicks them on tender skin, or trips them up accident-on-purpose, they will say “But I never hit her!” If they hit, they will say, “But I never hit her with a closed fist!” If they hit with closed fists, they say “But I never beat her up!” … You get the picture. Whatever they do isn’t real violence – what other batterers do, THAT’s real violence. (So they think in their entitlement mindset.)

      Much better questions would be “Are things okay at home?” “Are you ever afraid of your spouse?” “Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells?” “Does your spouse respect your ‘no’ ?” “Do you feel like your spouse respects you?”
      If you want to later drill down into whether there has been any physical abuse, a good question that Lundy Bancroft suggests is “Has he ever touched you in anger?” (Convert to ‘she’ if you are a male victim, fellas!)

      I could probably write a chapter on this topic, but I’ll leave it at that for the moment. Thanks for listening. And I hope you continue to come to this blog and be part of the discussion.

      • Laurie

        I seldom had physical abuse toward me…it landed mostly on the children as a way to control me. But the MIND games were horrible. That kind of abuse takes away the very essence of the victim. The victim gets to believing that he or she is incapable of making ANY decision, so the victim doesn’t know how to think anymore. When the person leaves that situation, they find themselves unable to move or think, always second (or third or 29th) guessing their decision. This stymie disorder is like a mental prison and continues long after the abuser is no longer in direct influence of the victim. And that is why abuse cannot be categorized as physical violence alone.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Laurie – Exactly. Thanks for giving us such a good explanation.

      • Song

        Well said, Laurie. Thank you.

  11. SJR

    http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=11365
    She has good insight and a long history of investigating sexual abuse in churches. I know Jeri and trust her. She knows the IFB world because she used to be a part of it and graduated and then taught at BJU.
    She has a different perspective on this conference the BJU put on.
    Worth reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: