A Cry For Justice

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

Spiritual Abuse and the Church: Can a Church Bind Our Conscience?

Every Christian is free before God to be led by the Holy Spirit and the Scripture.  Each Christian has a conscience and the freedom to obey that conscience as he is directed by the Word of God.  This was Luther’s stand before Rome:

“Since then your sere Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” (Reply to the Diet of Worms, April 18, 1521)

As many domestic abuse victims can testify, local churches, pastors, sessions, and presbyteries far too often attempt to exercise authority over the believer’s conscience which God has not authorized them to do.  The most common example (for our purposes in this blog) of this excess is the church pronouncing that an abuse victim is not free to divorce her/his abuser.  Or to separate from the abuser.  Or dictating to victims that they must submit to everything their abuser says, how the victim should dress, the specifics of how she should relate to the abuser, and on and on the list goes.  The local church, pastors, elders, and other Christians do not possess the authority to dictate these matters of conscience.  They are issues which the victim has the right before God, in agreement with His Word, to determine personally.

This position is not radical nor is it unheard of.  It has been taught consistently by Reformed theologians through the centuries.  Here we will provide one such example.  Francis Turretin (1623-87, Geneva) wrote the Institutes of Elenctic Theology, which is essentially a very large systematic theology.  Turretin is very frequently quoted by people like R.C. Sproul and other leading theologians of our day.    Listen then as Turretin writes in his section on the doctrine of The Church (ecclesiology), and specifically about the authority of the church (he was, of course, opposing Rome’s unbiblical ideas of church authority):

31st Question:  Does a legislative power [in the church] properly so called, of enacting laws binding the conscience, belong to the church?  Or only an ordaining power, of sanctioning constitutions and canons for the sake of good order?  The former we deny; the latter we affirm against the Romanists.

They (the Romanists) by sinning in excess as on other points, make that power immense, maintaining that to the church belongs the power to make laws properly so called, which by themselves bind the conscience and cannot be violated without mortal sin and to which, therefore, obedience is due on account of the authority of those commanding.  However, we think that no proper lawmaking power was given to the church by which she can make laws directly and by themselves binding the conscience; but only an ordaining power which can form constitutions and canons for the preservation of peace and good order which on this account do not bind the conscience by themselves and directly, but only indirectly in case of scandal; that these are not laws enacted by a prince, but only an order by ministers; not of the essentials of Christ’s kingdom, but only of the external accidents and things indifferent…

Pastors have no right to make laws properly so called binding the conscience.  The reasons are first, because there is one lawgiver (James 4:12)…who has a right over the conscience and who can save and destroy, not only the body, but also the soul (Luke 12:5).  Pastors are mere commissioners and heralds, who have no right to make or change laws, but only the office of promulgating them and urging their observation…. in sacred affairs the authority of the command is from God alone, its promulgation (announcement) only is left to ministers.  The conscience has no one between itself and God by whom it may be known and judged.   As it is known to God alone, so it can be judged by him alone.   And second, it is not lawful to add to or to take anything from the divine law (Deut 4:2; 12:32).  If nothing could be added to the Mosaic Law, much less to the evangelical law of Christ.

We have heard account after account of abuse victims being directed by pastors and church leaders to obey the dictates of these leaders or face the condemnation of God.  “We declare that you have no right to divorce your abuser” is a declaration that adds to the law of God.  Many, many other directives, given with the supposed authority of God Himself and said to be binding upon the conscience of the abuse victim (and of others in the church as well) are common.  She is told how she must behave toward her abuser.  She is told what she can and cannot say to him.  She is directed in regard to overseeing her children.  And all of these dictates go against her own conscience, yet she yields to them because she desires to please the Lord.  In her confusion she does not realize that He is calling her to be free, to enact boundaries, to seek help from other sources…. and yet she remains in the bondage of these unauthorized commandments of man.

The fact is that the Word of God is what has authority to bind our conscience.  Nothing else.  When we, with sincerity of heart and after careful and prayerful study of the Scriptures, find ourselves free in conscience to take a particular course of action, then we have the freedom to do so.  If a pastor or church leader can, by the clear testimony of Scripture, demonstrate plainly to us that our decision is contrary to the Word of God, then that is another matter.  In such cases our conscience will concur and we will have peace.  But no human being can pronounce his own opinion as the Word of God.  This, only God can do.

And therefore I conclude that every church, every pastor, every church leader who insists that God forbids an abuse victim from divorcing her abuser is guilty of exceeding his authority and teaching as the Word of God the mere commandments of men.

31 Comments

  1. Bethany

    Very good article. I really appreciate someone in authority as a pastor giving me and others permission to follow are conscience! It is a breath of fresh air when compared to the crap that the pastor my husband is living with is trying to tell me. I would forward him this article but I fear it will only casting pearls before swine. Keep up the good fight 🙂

  2. The fact is that the Word of God is what has authority to bind our conscience. Nothing else.

    Jeff, I’m glad you pointed this out. Churches have no business claiming ground in our consciences, like the way you describe.

    Venturing into the ground of institutional spiritual abuse, there seems to be a new spirit in some groups rising up today where it is being taught that obedience to man (in the form of either church authorities or the husband as “prophet, priest, and king” of the home, a la Vision Forum) and obedience to God are basically the same thing. If you are disobeying men then ipso facto you are disobeying God. Unsurprisingly, Doug Wilson strikes again here:

    That said, in these egalitarian times, we must insist on a masculine presence in the pulpit because the church is the bride of Christ, and needs to obey her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24). The Lord required this of us (1 Timothy 2:12), and so that is what we must do. The individual man in the pulpit must be masculine because the bride of Christ must be feminine. The appropriate feminine response of the Church is to be submissive [to the man in the pulpit], and you cannot be submissive [to the man in the pulpit] while disobeying [the man in the pulpit]. (Bold are Wilson’s comments, [bracketed] comments are mine.)

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/brothers-we-are-not-sisters

    He is complaining here about egalitarianism but what he is promoting is Nicolatianism. Wilson raises himself above the congregation to occupy the place of Christ, so, if they are not obeying him, they are necessarily disobeying Christ.

    This most definitely is going to bind the consciences of those who are led to believe it.

    What Pastor Jeff Crippen did here is the correct use of spiritual authority. It is to use that authority to declare that God alone has authority over your life and conscience.

    • I bet Dougy was a tyrant when he was 2 years old. His father appears to have modeled that tyrrany to him – at least he practices it still today. I wonder why these people are so impelled to have people submit to them? What kind of psychological disorder is that? Narcissism? And why would anyone want such submission anyway? Wilson should just start wearing a Roman Miter (sp?) type hat and be done with it.

      • Wilson should just start wearing a Roman Miter (sp?) type hat and be done with it.

        Yep. Pope Wilson.

      • Jeff S

        I would guess that being a high profile preacher would be a natural fit for someone with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). I’m not going to label Doug that way from behind my computer, but certainly a person who twists the authority of scripture to place himself on a pedestal that others exist to serve is displaying traits of NPD.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Yes, JeffS and that is the danger here. In any organization, especially a hierarchical one — even if that hierarchy is an informal one, narcissists will be drawn to it. And it can be their drive for recognition and power and influence that compels them to write book after book, put in all kinds of hours working and working and networking and speaking, etc. to climb the ladder to fame. Now, some great Christians have been propelled into the limelight simply because of an incredible gifting of the Spirit. If you study their lives, they tire you out! Spurgeon, George Whitefield, and so on. Absolutely incredible. And yet there was this humility. AND they suffered as well. But when the motivation for all that energy is the flesh, then look out!

      • In my dad’s case, it’s a deep seated need for control that comes from his issues with his mother and him feeling that she had too much power in the home and that his father didn’t take proper authority over her. I don’t really see any narcissism in him, but he feels that complete submission of women is the only way that men can be in control, and the family can be safe. It’s some very weird and twisted up ideas in with some emotional issues or needs of healing that he has buried and denied for most of his life.

  3. It seems to me that whenever we have an issue that genuine Christians disagree about, especially in regard to the interpretation of Scripture, it should be obvious to all of us that we must leave wide room for conscience and personal conviction before the Lord. Everyone knows full well that there is wide disagreement over what the Bible says about grounds for divorce. Some say there are none. Some say only adultery. Some say adultery and desertion. Others (the ones like us who are right:) say adultery, desertion, and abuse – because abuse destroys the wedding contract. Now, is it not obvious then that it is incredibly arrogant for any pastor or theologian or church to insist upon its particular position as being THE correct one and then enforce that position upon others, even upon threat of ex-communication for not submitting to that position? Indeed, it is spiritual abuse to do so. Such differences among Christians are indicative that we are into the realm of one’s conscience here. Romans 14-15 stuff. When there is obvious sin – ie, the abuse perpetrated upon the victim, we clearly are to deal with that sin as a church (which we so often fail do to!). But as to the decision of the victim to divorce, that must be left to them. We provide information, we can say what our personal position is, but even in this we must take care. To say “well, you can do what you want but I don’t think God permits divorce for any reason” is NOT leaving the choice to the victim. Rather, we must say “here are the pertinent Scriptures. Here are the various positions. But yes, there are reputable theologians and pastors and real Christians who hold that abuse is indeed grounds for divorce. And we will support you in your decision. You will not be condemned by us.

    I ask once again – why is it that pastors and churches think that people must bring their case to the church and be granted permission by their church to get a divorce? If the grounds for their divorce plainly fall into the realm of adultery or desertion or abuse, then they need merely tell us their reason and do what their conscience and interpretation of Scripture leads them to do. Then we should be dealing with the guilty party in the realm of discipline.

    Now, someone might ask “but what if the person filing the divorce papers is making a false claim and there really was no abuse, but they just wanted out of the marriage.” My reply to that would be that people who are knowledgeable about the nature and tactics of abuse will be able to recognize if the charges of abuse are true or false. Genuine Christians who are victims of abuse are hardly people who “just want out” of their marriage, but quite the opposite. They tend to stay too long if anything. And if a spouse has committed adultery, is that really that difficult to determine if it is true or false? I don’t think that it is.

    • I agree completely.

    • Jeff S

      Great Jeff. Well said!

      In the end, why do we use threats to change people’s behavior? Is a person who behaves on the outside but has a sinful heart any better off? We can present the truth as we understand it from scripture, but shouldn’t the work of behavior modification belong to the Holy Spirit?

      I understand we have to step in to protect the oppressed, so if a wife is being treacherously divorced that is one thing, but in the end- if someone is dead set on leaving, all we can do is show them the scripture and pray they make the Godly choice.

      I remember when I joined my new church what I wanted was not for them to evaluate my divorce (which the pastor did and he believed that it was an abuse situation and warranted divorce), but simply to validate they agreed with the reasons I gave for my divorce and trust that the past was the past. I want to know if they COULD agree with my divorce, not if the actually DID. And honestly, I’m not sure they really did feel the need to judge; I think the pastor was really just trying to encourage me by validating my decision.

    • I wish comments here had a like button. 🙂

    • Mary Lloyd

      “I ask once again – why is it that pastors and churches think that people must bring their case to the church and be granted permission by their church to get a divorce? If the grounds for their divorce plainly fall into the realm of adultery or desertion or abuse, then they need merely tell us their reason and do what their conscience and interpretation of Scripture leads them to do. Then we should be dealing with the guilty party in the realm of discipline.”
      I never thought of it that way. I can see how it goes wrong when we bring our problems trustingly to the leadership, but I can’t actually think of any Biblical position that states they have to give us “permission” to divorce. The only scripture that sprung to mind was this:
      Mark 10: 42-45
      (42) But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. (43) But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: (44) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (45) For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
      Is it possible that our spiritual abusers have fundamentally misunderstood what Godly authority is? Because if they haven’t understood it, they can’t practise it, surely.
      Love, Mary

  4. M

    A few years ago I joined a little church, full of hope that this was going to be the Godly fellowship I needed and wanted. I attended Bible studies and prayer meetings, and began to be fond of some people there, especially the teenagers, who seemed to have a thirst and a hunger for Jesus.
    As I gathered some courage at a prayer meeting, I tried to verbalize the heartache I was going through with my husband. He had shown some homosexual tendencies and was freezing me out emotionally and in a hostile manner, whenever I wanted to talk, and especially when it was important.
    My little boy was small back then and I really needed some support. At this particular prayer meeting I stuttered out a few things that were worrying me about my marital relationship. I was unable to be specific about the homosexuality: I had not been in that fellowship long and it was not the time, but I felt if I could only make a start God would minister to me and help me by speaking through one of His servants.
    The main teacher began to speak directly to me, publicly, in front of the teenagers and everybody assembled. He said, as though the Lord had given him the words to say, “Your husband doesn’t want a preacher, and he doesn’t want a counselor: he wants a wife”. Thereby I was chastened, but not by the hand of God. If he had shouted “fetch the ducking stool” it could not have been a more acute public slaughter of my character. Even so, I was desperate for help, and still tried to look for something like a life-raft in that comment. There was none. I was the bad guy, according to him.
    Since then my husband has gone from strength to strength in serial homosexual affairs. He has visited Thailand purposely to have sex with a man only four years older than our beautiful son. I am so disgusted, hurt, brokenhearted….not to mention deserted and written off by the church.
    Jesus has not written me off, however.
    I have signed up for psychiatric counseling, and I believe a day will come when I will be free. I noticed that as I began to be filled with the Holy Spirit once more, so I gained the courage to resolve this problem, and to know that God was helping me in this. I believe the Lord Jesus weeps over us when He sees us abused. I believe He wants us to receive His deliverance from abusive relationships. I also believe He isn’t rushing us to come out, but, step by step, in bite-sized chunks as we can manage them, He will release us progressively from the bondage that satan has forced upon us.
    God bless all here. Know that the love of Jesus is able powerfully to meet all our needs.
    Much love from Mary

    • Jeff Crippen

      And much love to you M! Thank you for telling us your story. Christ has preserved your faith in spite of it all. Stories like yours are far too common – particularly in regard to how you were treated in that church. Sadly, there may have been people in that church who would have helped and learned and seen the thing for what it was. But as is so common, in comes this “leader” who arrogantly claimed to have this great and perfect insight, even though he knew nothing really of your situation. Increasingly I am realizing that our churches simply have incompetent, unwise, unqualified people leading them. Seminary degrees or not. Any “shepherd” who does not know evil – what it looks like, how it attacks, how it lies and deceives – has no business watching over Christ’s flock.

      • Memphis Rayne

        Geez, that is about the worst display of ingorance I have heard. How horrible what this pastor did and said to M? I am glad she is able to see it for what it is, even though at the time that must of been such a devastating blow. You finally get to the point of courage, and trust to reach out in pain….then you are literally shamed for speaking the truth…..shamed then told to shut up! So horrible. Sadly I have heard that before, that exact same sentence? Must be in the “Old Boys Club” handbook?

      • Jeff Crippen

        No kidding. Maybe Mary should have laid out all the sordid details of what her husband was up to! Only half-kidding. She no doubt used proper discretion in that setting. But what I mean is that this guy would have to put his hands to his ears and repeat some mantra, “It isn’t true…tell me it isn’t true…I won’t believe…I won’t believe.” So many professing Christians are like Dorothy returning to Oz “Close your eyes and repeat over and over, ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” “Home,” of course is the fantasyland in which they choose to live.

      • KingsDaughter

        “Any “shepherd” who does not know evil – what it looks like, how it attacks, how it lies and deceives – has no business watching over Christ’s flock”

        AMEN! Preach it, Pastor!

    • M&M

      Hi M,

      I hope your situation has improved since you wrote this post……it’s terribly disturbing what your husband did in Thailand……and if his partner was under 18 it’s also against US law

      https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/extraterritorial-sexual-exploitation-children

      https://www.ijm.org/casework/sexual-violence-against-children

      (I don’t know how old your son was to have a point of reference). I’m glad you had the faith to look for a way out of the abuse.

      [Note from Eds: we haven’t checked out the second link much so please do your own due diligence.]

  5. Memphis Rayne

    At best (*for him) a private “”Shhhh, look we will pray for you, just do NOT talk about this OUT LOUD”…”Oh and here is an invite to our married couples retreat, I hope you come, we will have brownies, sing songs, drink koolaid, but remember to smile and only speak when spoken to….. So glad we had this little chat, because EVERYONE is welcome here”.
    Welcome “Home” Dorothy, and yer little dog too!
    So sick, he was so void of compassion, and any REAL understanding. I have seen, heard, then felt the blow of this “repeat after me” Christianity complete with the glazed stare(because there is NO feeling behind it) no humanity involved. If they do not know how to respond(or in Marys case just dont care to) they just pull out some lame “stock” statement they heard somebody else say? Ta da!! You are officially healed by MY words!! Now skat! But go in peace!

    • Jeff Crippen

      “Go in peace” translated = “and don’t you dare make any trouble for us.”

  6. Mary Lloyd

    Hi again! Many thanks for your comments. It is comforting to think I have finally found a little community of believers who understands what abuse does to people. God bless you!
    I have thought over that bizarre episode a few times and my gut tells me that the teacher was retaliating over something. I can’t think of any other reason that he would want to put the boot in when I was already struggling and brokenhearted. I had been getting along well with those teenagers I mentioned, and they were eager to hear anything I could tell them about Jesus. I have wondered if the teacher felt his authority was challenged and wanted to get some control over them by discrediting me. Sounds wierd I know but I remembered something else he said on another occasion, this time directly to the teenagers, which was “you will find that the Christian life is one long boring process with occasional high spots”. Wow, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was irresponsible to want to snuff out their little flame of interest, and in retrospect, must have come from a very dark spiritual quarter. He said this at a Bible study and I felt at the time it was another little snipe at me. My Christian experience has been exciting and interesting, and I am able to say that even the darkest of times, Jesus has brought good out of it. All things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. This verse has comforted me many times throughout this big problem I have at home, and gives me hope that there is a reason for it all, as yet known only by God.
    One of the worst things about my situation is that even my loveliest memories of when I was a new mum believing everything was great in my marriage, that even then I was being lied to. I cannot look back without the light bulbs going on about my husband’s sometimes cruel behaviour: how when I asked where he was going one night when my son was tiny, needing a contact number in case of emergencies, he flatly refused to tell me, and made me feel like I was a neurotic woman. I am afraid I have a catalogue of things like this now and they have got worse. But you are right, I have found no one in the church who was really able to counsel me properly. It is like they stick their fingers in their ears and go “lalalalala”.
    My mum, who is nearly 92, was the only one I was able to confide in, and even then I only did that relatively recently, because of fear of impact on my son if anyone realised what I was going through. Worried that the problem was too big for her to have no one to share it with, I consented that she could tell a sister, who I had believed was also born again. Strangely, this sister, another representative of “the church”, told me I could not divorce, and dragged up much of my unsaved past to pin the blame on me for what I was going through. It damaged my relationship with my mum briefly, though she has realised now that I am not the reprobate my sister seemed to label me as for wanting out of my marriage. This has set me back somewhat in that I was making progress before, and daring to believe that the Lord perhaps does not want me to continue with my husband, considering how he is still lying outrageously while seeing men. But now I think I am ready to consider it again, though I know I need counselling to strengthen me to the point of going. My son is 24 now and doing well, so I have no need to worry quite so much about what divorce might do to him.
    I can’t thank you enough for listening to me and for commenting and supporting me. I covet also your prayers. There is much I haven’t said. If it is OK to continue to write through this process, please let me know.
    Much love in Jesus, from Mary

    • KingsDaughter

      Mary,
      I am going through a similar situation and can relate to the set backs. One day I feel clear and “radically healthy” about understanding that what my husband is doing is wrong and that confronting his behavior is not only good but it is the absolute right and loving thing to do. Then someone whom I let my guard down with will throw fireballs and knock me back on my rear by criticizing my decision to separate or questioning my integrity and intentions. Then I will struggle with guilt, doubt and various other negative emotions.
      Here’s is what I have found to be helpful;

      PRAY -I can’t say it enough, it is those moments whe I think I might blow-up or melt from sheer confusion that I find peace on my knees (often on my face) before The Lord.

      Read- Each time I encounter a bump in the road, it is God’s word that refocuses me on the path. Psams, Proverbs, 1John… … so much speaks directly to the situation and is invaluable!

      Reach Out- When I hit that proverbial bump in the road and my apple cart gets turned over I need friends to help pick up the mess! I have found that resource here, through others who have been there and most recently with a counselor who specializes in abusive relationships. I don’t fully understand why but when someone you trust gives you damaging advice, even if you know it to be inappropriate advice it can send you tumbling!

      I wrote a post on facebook about what it feels like. Maybe you can relate?

      “this is what it feels like;
      I just called you from my front lawn to tell you that my house is burning down and you yell to me, ‘Go in and get the fire extinguisher from your basement. Quick! Before you lose EVERYTHING! You’re the only one who can do this! SAVE your house!!!’ ”
      This could be elaborated on to include being blamed for contributing to the fire, judged for not rushing back into a raging ferno, and the compund emotional distress of seeing your home in flames while Job’s friends urge you to “do what’s right… examine your motives… etc etc” Because they all know that you must not be a true neighborhood person (read Christian) or possibly love your home (read marriage) if you won’t obey your neighbors and risk your life to save your home (tounge in cheek) Right? WRONG!

      It is hard to feel the love in that, isn’t it?

      Blessings to you, Sister!

      Praying for your continued strength and for helpers to come along side you.

      • Mary Lloyd

        Thank you sister! I do need helpers and I do need prayer. I am scared about what I know I have to do, which is to get out of this destructive relationship somehow. I found you all through the information on covert-aggressive personality on this site, which was a major “light bulb moment” about who my husband is. In another place I found a check list to see how strongly a person is covert-aggressive: he scored 29 out of 34 possible! I have felt trodden underfoot in my marriage, but then as you say, didn’t expect to get trodden underfoot in the church. So many issues here to deal with!
        I am just finding my way around this site and it is wonderful.
        Thanks all. Love, Mary

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        King’s Daughter..what a perfect FB post example!! Excellent!

    • Dear Mary, I have been ‘off air’ for the last few days, busy with travel and networking 🙂 but I want to say WELCOME to the blog. And here is a link to a story from a woman who was married to a pedophile. Her (ex) husband’s sin in not the same as your husband’s but the struggles and doubts she went through are probably very similar. I hope you find it helpful.

      http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/15/being-married-to-a-pedophile-a-wife-speaks-out-and-offers-hope-to-other-wives-of-pedophiles/
      (((Hugs))) to you, and keep writing on our blog as often as you like.

  7. Mary Lloyd

    Hi Barbara, thank you so much for the welcome, the link, and also where that led me to re spiritual abuse in the church. There was a lot of encouragement in there for me to press on, knowing that the Lord is with me in this situation. It is hard to know how to make progress, and I have sat with head in hands so often saying “Lord, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do!”
    I have felt like I was trapped, knowing that God hates divorce, but that he also hates homosexuality – so where did that leave me? But I am coming to understand that I don’t have to do anything until I am sure the Lord is guiding me, and when I know that is the case, I will be OK… eventually.
    Meanwhile I have to get from a to b, and things are tolerable to a great extent SO LONG as I don’t rock the boat. That isn’t any way to live, however.
    I was very interested also to read about Julie-Anne at the Spiritual Sounding Board, and the trouble she went through successfully suing that church. I feel that there is still much prejudice against women still and to hear that pastor abusing them, while being egged on and encouraged by male congregation members, was distressing to say the least.
    Ladies, I do believe it will cost these prideful church leaders a great deal to receive a word of admonishment and rebuke from a woman in Christ – and that is precisely why He will call us, equip us and use us in this late hour. I guess the equipping involves going through the fire like many of us here are experiencing.
    I was reading Matthew 20 recently as follows:

    (25) But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
    (26) But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
    (27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
    (28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

    As we women are being called to servanthood, so I believe we will be used to minister powerfully to the church the Servant heart of Jesus Christ. We cannot give what we do not have: as we have been abased, so we shall abound in the blessing of God; as we have been abused, so we will minister to the abused. We have not been forgotten: we are loved and we are treasured in the Lord. John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. ”
    Praise the Lord! Sisters, we are in the bountiful hand of God.
    Feeling better!!! Thanks all.
    Much love from Mary

    • Mary,
      Just for the sake of accuracy, Julie Anne did not sue the church, but she successfully got their suit against her thrown out. Thy tried to sue her for defamation 😦

      We are glad you are here and have been finding help.

      • Mary Lloyd

        Sorry yes I understand, thank you for pointing that out.
        Love, Mary

    • Dear Mary, God does not hate divorce per se; he condemns treacherous divorce but he allows divorce for abuse, sexual immorality and desertion. Your husband’s sexual immorality gives you full grounds for divorce, have no fear!

      “God hates divorce” is a slogan based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16. My book Not Under Bondage explains this in detail, as well as explaining a lot more about how the Bible allows divorce for domestic abuse. If you cannot afford a copy email me with your postal address and I will have one sent to you as a gift.
      You might also like to read this post by Ps Jeff Crippen Stop Saying “God Hates Divorce”. Also, in this talk I gave to the adult Sunday School class at Jeff Crippen’s church, you can hear me talking about the mistranslation of Malachi.

  8. Mary Lloyd

    Hi Barbara, God bless you LOADS sister, and thank you so much for your reply.
    I feel what is needed is to counsel and to assist others to find out for themselves what God says about their situation personally, as opposed to drawing up new rules for abused persons to live by. Happily, I found out that it wasn’t God who wanted me trapped in the belief that I could not move, as though He both hated the homosexuality, AND the only obvious solution to it, namely divorce; it wasn’t God who abused me further by trapping me, but that, I had to find out for myself.
    But divorce for me will only be the beginning of a whole new set of sorrows and obstacles because, as I now understand, my HB is a covert-aggressive, and this accounts for the inordinate amount of fear I have had over getting out, now that I have made the decision to do so. This personality is one that is determined to win, having absolutely no sense of fair play, nor any conscience over wrongdoing. I am married to a sociopath who holds all the cards financially, and all the charm to harm me while convincing others he is the good guy. In a sense, the homosexuality is the lesser symptom of a much greater problem in his disturbed personality. I have to proceed with caution, and with all my wits about me. As God is progressively delivering me from misconceptions I had about Him, so He is delivering me from misconceptions I had about my HB, and also about myself. I have been like someone blind to the extent of the problem here, but my comfort is, that God sees all. Furthermore, in seeing all He is able to protect me from harm, if I trust Him and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
    You would think that part would be easy, knowing that God loves me in the way that He has proved to me time and time again. But sometimes I don’t find it easy. Sometimes I go and get beer and drown my sorrows because I don’t want to think about the problems any more. I know that when I do this I am hiding away from the problem and also hiding from God. Not a great strategy. And then imagine the tears as I feel the Lord’s tender presence in spite of my stupidity. Yes, I can be stupid and STILL He loves me, STILL He tells me I am His. I might be a stupid child, and I might be a bad child, but I am HIS child and He has promised He will never let me go.
    Abuse interferes with your perceptions, I think, so that even normal healthy relationships and activities can be potentially problematic. Many times I have opened my eyes in my situation to see that my feet are hanging over the edge of an emotional cliff. If someone said “step off! God is there!” I would have a hard time doing it and would shut my eyes tight again and stay where I am. I would do that because I can’t trust anyone at this point. Not a soul. On the other hand, when I am ready to go, God will tell me Himself, its OK, I am ready for you, time to step out.
    I believe He is readying me because He has proved to me His love and His tenderness and His long suffering and His all-seeing, all-knowing personal care. I believe He is readying me because I found you all and this awesome site, and because many previously hidden things have come into view as I have studied and read. I believe He is readying me because He is showing me I have something to give: I am not done yet.
    My time to step away from the edge will come.
    Love from Mary

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