A Cry For Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not an option, people.

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

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

You’re the problem.

“Yeah well you don’t know my spouse.”

So? You’re the problem. You are!

“But they have problems too!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead canary on coal

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

54 Comments

  1. Gary W

    It is especially disturbing that Voddie Baucham, a black man, would argue for–nay, insist upon–what amounts to the enslavement of women by men.

  2. E. F.

    I am divorced. My husband decided to become a woman. So by his thoughts I am to stay in may marriage? Wouldn’t that pose some other “sins” he would tell me not to do? Life is not black and white. It is gray…..

    • Wow, E.F.
      Just wow.

      Let’s imagine the PV people on this one, trying to squash it into their rigid system:
      “She cannot divorce this man-now-become-woman. That person’s gender reassignment means that there can be no biblically orthodox sex because it would be a ‘lesbian’ relationship. But the gender reassignment does not mean the original covenant of marriage is voided. The covenant still exists in the eyes of God. So the innocent wife must wait till her *spouse* sees the light and get gender-reassigned back to what he was originally. But that may be medically impossible. So she will have to live like a eunuch for the kingdom of God, until her spouse (the self-made eunuch) dies. And by this she will be displaying the covenant keeping love of God! Hallelujah and Praise the Lord! ”

      I mean, . . . how ridiculous can you get?

      • Brenda R

        Barb, I sure hope it doesn’t get anymore ridiculous than that. I don’t see how anyone could say Hallelujah and Praise the Lord over EF remaining married in this instance. I know I would feel better to hear more men supporting women to get out of abusive relationships.

        EF This could not have been easy for you. You are right, life is gray in so many areas.

  3. cindyrapstad

    As usual you knock it out of the ball park. You are right to post the trigger warning. Jesus never minimized someones pain, never told them they are not good enough, not worthy of healing and to blame for their afflictions.
    The comment about homicide rang true because I told people that I didn’t believe in divorce but I was starting to believe in homicide. I joke about that but when the ex came at me in a crazed out look again I realized I could stab him and that scared me more than the thought of getting divorced.
    This weekend I had the chance to talk to a young gal that was sexually abused and took the time to share my testimony and what a blessing it was to be able to share the love Christ had for me and how he has walked me through difficult times.

  4. Forrest

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir.

  5. The permanence view caters to the ego gratification of many men, which is why I think many don’t want to come out against it. It is tailor made to stroke a man’s pride by teaching him that he is the master of his domain, including his wife! Oh, if we would all just come out of that fog.

  6. Vicky

    Wow….just wow.

    I was going to email Pastor Jeff this morning and ask him about this very thing, and God sent me an answer on it. God is so good!

    I won’t go into details here, but have biblical grounds (both adultery and abuse) to divorce my husband. I am getting my ducks in a row and making a plan.

    I grew up in a strict Catholic family so I have really been struggling. I have seen how the family has ostracized members over divorce.

    It doesn’t help that (through intensive counseling) we were given many, many books and sermons to read from John Piper. It will take years to recover from the notion that I am at fault for this cheating and abuse.

    • Vicky, if you want to be deprogrammed from Piperism, you might like to read our posts that are tagged John Piper. We have quite a lot on him.
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/john-piper/

      • Vicky

        Thank you, Barbara. I could use a lot of prayer. I need a clear exit plan for me and the children, complicated by the fact that a) my husband uses this above example to keep me from leaving, b) I need a job to support the kids and myself and c) I want to make a move back to family when I leave (different state). I am not sure how to go about any of this.

      • Vicky, I strongly suggest you contact your local women’s resource center or whatever it may be called in your locale. The workers there will quite probably have suggestions and info for you that you might not have been aware of. E.g. how to access emergency relief, housing assistance, support for job training, and other things from welfare services. There may well be more help out there for you than you realise. And as well as that kind of info, they will help you assess your risk (which may be higher than you realise) and they can help you develop a Safety Plan and tweak it as necessary when your circumstances change. We have a page on Safety Planning under our Resources section, if you want to get a sense of what Safety Planning involves.

        Please consider doing this. It is not as scary as you might think! And it can be VERY helpful. And validating.

  7. Vicky

    Also, can you please expound on how the PV is unbiblical? I need to be well versed in this, for the arrows that are surely coming my way ….. Thank you.

    • joepote01

      Vicky, that could be a lengthy expounding! 😉

      As a starting point, here is a link to my recent post on this topic: http://josephjpote.com/2014/07/marriage-is-temporal/

      And here is another link to a post from a while back on this blog: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/04/04/divorce-is-sin-says-who-guest-article-by-joe-pote/

      Praying for you that God will give you clarity, wisdom and discernment as He delivers you out of the fog of false doctrine on this topic. I understand…been there myself…as have most others who frequent this blog.

    • Vicky, we have a tag for the Permanence View on this blog.
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/permanence-view/

      Another resource is my book which you can find in the sidebar (Not Under Bondage).

      • Vicky

        Thank you, Joe and Barbara. Joe, I vaguely remember commenting on something you wrote (maybe on your blog?) a while ago, when I was in a fog after my husband confessed numerous extramarital affairs.

      • joepote01

        Vicky – That’s a real gut-punch that’ll leave one reeling for a while! Realizing that so much we thought was real was just a facade…connecting the dots and seeing how little questionable events suddenly make sense in light of this new information…realizing that our instincts were often sharper than we realized and wishing we had listened to them better and sooner…

        A spouse’s repeated infidelity is a difficult reality to face.

        Praying for you, this morning, as the Holy Spirit continues to lead and guide you.

    • Brenda R

      Vicky, Before leaving state with the kids, talk to an attorney and see what the laws are where you live. In some states taking them out of state without permission from the court could result in kidnapping charges. Be safe.

  8. Andrew Reavis

    Thank you for the great post.
    I unfortunately used to abuse my wife with this teaching. I am thankful we have been delivered.
    Our former church accused my wife of “breaking the marriage covenant” when she called the law, I was arrested, and there was a “No-Contact Order”, then removed our membership after I told them neither I nor my wife were sorry for what saved our marriage.
    Our family who is still in that church, do not accept the truth about abuse. We tried sharing with them, as our niece is in an abusive marriage and doesn’t realize it. We shared this blog and received the following response:
    “……..There are some things we are not comfortable with in what we have read on Crying Out For Justice; we don’t believe abuse gives grounds for divorce & remarriage. Certainly separation for safety may be necessary. I’m not comfortable with the feeling I get of “male bashing” on that website. Yes, abuse & all that goes with it is a sin, but I do not believe it is biblical to have that attitude toward any human, man or woman. We women are certainly not better or holier. I know without a doubt & have experienced it in my own life that just as the Word of God teaches, when a wife has an attitude of reverence to an undeserving husband, it does much to win them. 1 Peter 3
    King James Version (KJV)
    3 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
    2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. I have had to search my heart & repent of my own lack of love & bitterness toward my husband. He is not the only one who has sinned; I have also & I have failed many times & still do in being a godly wife & to reverence. I do not believe a husband’s ungodly behavior justifies a wife’s ungodly behavior. Yes, he is responsible to God for his words, actions & reactions, but so am I. And we will both answer to God on our own. That has been challenging & sobering to me. It is a blessing to pray for our husbands & see God work in them! He does when we stop trying to change them! It takes much patience, prayer & sometimes a lot of hurt, but I know God is glorified when we seek to love, respect & pray for our husbands. It is exciting to see & experience God’s healing & the blessing that comes when both husband & wife seek to fill the roles God has given them! (husbands love your wives; wives reverence your husbands)………….”

    Again, we are thankful for the deliverance we have found and give God the glory for our healing.

    • Andrew, it is hard and can be frustrating when we think that a friend or family member is in an abusive marriage but they don’t realise it. You might like to check out our Resources page for Supporters of Victims of Abuse
      and our resource pages for Family and Friends.
      There is some overlap between the two pages, but they are not exactly the same.

      From what your female relative is saying to you, it sounds like she is not only deeply in the fog created by the abuser, but has imbibed a lot of the simplistic male/female roles teaching that is rife in conservative churches. I hope you and your wife have the patience to keep the lines of communication and gentle offers of unconditional support open to her, as it may take a lot of time for her to wake up.

      When supporting victims at the stage she is at, it is important to convey to them that you will support them no matter what they chose to do and how they chose to see their circumstances. You can gently ask questions that might help the fog lift, but you can’t push them out of the fog. If they think you are pressuring them to change the way they think about their circumstances, they usually close down and stop seeing you as a person who cares for them and who is supportive of them. It’s quite a balancing act, and a real art, to support victims when they are so much in the fog.

      But take heart from this: Many of the readers here can testify that at one stage of our lives we were where that woman is. If we came out into the light, so can she!

      As for male bashing, I don’t think so. We recognise that males are sometimes victims of abuse from females. And we only speak harshly about abusers (male, or female), not about men as a whole.

      But people will read their own interpretations into things, won’t they?

      • Andrew Reavis

        Yes, Barbara, calling us to accountability and Christ-likeness is NOT male bashing.
        We agree that abuse in general, is being stood against. It is simple fact that males abuse more often than females, which is why we are called to lay down our lives. It is not that hard to do, and the benefits far outweigh anything I had to give up, which is nothing that I didn’t need to give up for a closer walk with Christ, anyway.
        The frustrating thing for us, is that in the churches, the wife is asked to “submit, love, and make it work”, and if the husband is called out for his negligence and lack of Christlike leadership, it is “male bashing.”

      • Thank you, Andrew. That is very validating, hearing a man say that.

  9. Tim

    Barbara, thank you so much for this analysis of his sermon. The man does much to subjugate women, all the while pretending it’s a matter of biblical faithfulness. There is nothing in the Bible that supports his notion that the problem in a marriage is the person seeking to get out.

    And what kind of baloney is he trying to sell with that part about “if you’ve never got that frustrated in marriage, you’re not doing it right”? I’ve been married over 27 years; is he saying that I’m not doing marriage right because I’ve never gotten so frustrated that I’ve considered leaving my wife? What a slam on marriage from a man who supposedly has a high view of the relationship between a wife and husband. What this really shows is that he has a very low view of marriage after all: marriage is inevitably so bad you’ll want to leave it, and you are – always – the reason it’s that awful in the first place.

    Thanks for bringing his dark teachings into the light, Barbara.

    Tim

    P.S. I just about fell of my chair to see my name listed among those others. Wow!

    • Barnabasintraining

      And what kind of baloney is he trying to sell with that part about “if you’ve never got that frustrated in marriage, you’re not doing it right”?

      I know! What was that about??

      Then again, I might not really want to know….

    • Tim, you and Gary W both of you — I ‘met’ you only recently on the Reformed Baptist blog where we were criticising Meadow’s catechsim. And I am much encouraged to have met you both. Looking forward to a long and happy cooperation with fellas such as you!

      And btw, Gary if you are reading this, I still need to review the draft post you sent to me. Next week! I’m on hols at present.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Tim- When you listen to that so-called “sermon” by Baucham, as we said in our review of it on this blog, he is indeed, as you say, presenting his words as the Word of God. He is a pastor. He is standing behind a pulpit. He is speaking authoritatively and salt and pepper sprinkling in Bible verses (then running to the next one right away so no one can see any problems with his exegesis). I wrote that review of his ridiculous and cruel sermon quite some time ago and I think that it still stands as the one that I received the most hate mail from by Baucham fan/worshipers. In fact, a very good review of our book, A Cry for Justice, was scheduled to be published shortly thereafter by a pretty well known online magazine. It was published alright, for TWO hours! Then they pulled the plug on it. They told me “influential people” were pressuring them to take it down because they don’t like how we at ACFJ get in these guys’ faces. I have very little doubt that this was a direct result of Baucham followers and associates turning up the heat to quash the review. The faithful people over at the Aquila Report were more noble that the others. They did publish the review and have continued to support ACFJ.

      But as we know, Baucham was NOT preaching God’s Word on this subject of abuse and divorce. In FACT, he wasn’t even preaching his own word!! He was in reality presenting virtually word for word Jim Ellif’s equally bad book on the Permanence View. I had happened to read the first part of the book just before I heard Baucham’s sermon, so I caught it. So what I want to know is, why is Voddie Baucham so popular with so many of our leading theologians and preachers? Why aren’t they calling him on this false teaching?

      • Tim

        Jeff, I am convinced that Mr. Baucham’s views are entirely formed by his patriarchy and not the gospel of Christ. Have you seen how this plays out in his view of the role of a father in making sure his daughter marries the right man? He goes so far as to say that it is a father’s responsibility to present his daughter as a virgin bride to her husband.

        He really does talk about it as if she is a commodity being passed from one responsible man to another. It’s frightening, and it leads to this idea of marriage permanence no matter what. How could it not be permanent under his view. Anything short of permanence means the father did something wrong, and in his world fathers are never wrong.

      • yes Tim, I’m aware of Baucham’s views about how a father should manage his daughter’s courtship and marriage.

        I haven’t read/heard Baucham’s teaching on this myself, but what I’ve learned about it from blogs like SSB was enough to tell me it had a big UGGGH factor.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      What kind of baloney is he trying to sell?

      The kind that slides right down the throat of a woman looking to save her abusive marriage. That’s the kind of baloney that holds false hope, blames the victim – and yet the blame gives her a reason to hope, because she believes it is her fault and she can correct it by just changing and becoming this stepford wife they exalt. She just needs to submit a little more and give in to him and fulfill his “needs” more – and then once she does that and it doesn’t work – then she just needs to keep doing more and more and more. This is the kind of baloney where the victims are told that even if the abuser kills them, if they are really Christians, they will be with God! Won’t it be glorious!?!? It is so sick and twisted.

      Voddie is basically saying that if you don’t have great fights resulting from great frustration once in awhile – then you just ain’t got a good marriage! Huh? That is just absurd. I think they have changed up what God’s plan and design for marriage is and have made their own and it includes all kinds of godless tactics including abuse and lording over that ensures the man is always taken care of and above his wife and kids, while they lay down their lives serving him. Remember, Voddie is the one that came up with that 4 P’s Message.

  10. joepote01

    I am standing in agreement with you, on this, Barbara!

    The so-called permanence view of marriage is nothing short of idolatry…making the institution of marriage an object of worship through the daily sacrifice of suffering, with no regard to the cost or the well-being of the individuals involved.

    Thanks for the mention! I feel honored to have been included in your list.

  11. I agree that this is triggering (and nauseating) because this is what I personally immersed in for many years.

    Hearing the anti-abuse message from a men, Lundy Bancroft and others really helped me turn a corner.

    I agree that the male witness IS powerful.

    • joepote01

      Thank you, for sharing this, LAC! It is sometimes easy to start thinking my voice doesn’t really matter, or that my perspective is just as well kept to myself.

      Thank you, for the encouragement!

  12. Barnabasintraining

    Don’t forget David Dykstra too.

  13. Anonymous

    Another excellent post from ACFJ. I keep looking at the canary and am encouraged that many more will not ‘fall’ as more courageous souls come to the rescue. Thank you, Lord.

  14. Gary W

    At http://divorce.laws.com/history-of-divorce the interesting, though unsubstantiated, statement is made that fault-based divorce restrictions were statistically matched with higher rates of spousal abuse and murder. This makes sense. The permanency view of marriage, where divorce is essentially forbidden, must surely lead to an increase in the incidence of spousal abuse. If an abusive male knows that his wife is prohibited by her faith from leaving him, there is very little to deter him from all but the most egregious conduct. When the imposition of the permanency view of marriage is combined with expectations of female submission to male authority, the abusive husband will act in the certainty that even criminal misconduct will not be reported.

    By teaching the absolute inviolability of the marriage bond, men like Voddie Baucham and John Piper make themselves accomplices to the devastation, and even destruction, some of the very most vulnerable of those for whom our Lord died. What will they enable next? Pedophilia?

    No, wait. . . Even pedophilia doesn’t fall within these men’s understanding of the Biblical Grounds for divorce.

    • Spot on, Gary W!
      And it was interesting to hear that snippet about how “fault-based divorce restrictions were statistically matched with higher rates of spousal abuse and murder.”
      Yes, that sure makes sense.

  15. IamMyBeloved's

    I will continue to say over and over and over again, that any man who makes these kind of statements, has a sense of entitlement and excess hunger for power and control. Voddie makes the red flags wave, when he states that if his wife ever decides to divorce/leave him, he is going with her. Sorry, but that is a red flag statement to me.

    I believe that men who think this way, are perhaps afraid that their wives already have biblical grounds to divorce them, so they have to nail the coffin shut, with these nonsensical and subtly threatening statements, that they say they derive from Scripture. But I ask you, what shoe fits the Savior best? The one that stomps on and treads down the wife in the marriage, making legalistic and unbiblical patriarchal demands higher than she could possibly meet; or the one that sets her free to be loved – first by Himself and then by her husband, who lays down his life for his wife, instead of lording it over her.

    Again, no one here at ACFJ believes in treacherous divorce, that I know of. I wish they would stop acting like divorce for abuse is somehow treacherous in nature.

    How about this. Man’s (and that includes women’s) chief end in life is to love and enjoy God and glorify Him forever. Tell me, how do victims of abuse in marriage (wife and children for example), whose souls and minds and lives are being shredded by the abuser, ever enjoy the God Who created them and fulfill their chief end in life? We must come to some conclusions about abuse and marriage and divorce, in order for that chief end to ever be fulfilled. Nothing glorifying to God, about an abusive relationship that people call marriage. Nothing glorifying to God about the twisted version of marriage patriarchy brings. Nothing glorifying about a woman and her children weeping for God’s deliverance and protection from the man who is supposed to love and tenderly care for them and lay his life down for them. Nothing God glorifying about terror in the home. Nothing God glorifying about any of that – at all. The only way to fix that so it glorifies God, is for the victims to leave, divorce and let God heal them – however He chooses to.

    A wife who is truly loved by her husband, doesn’t hear these kind of statements, because there is no fear on the man’s part, that his wife is unhappy and wants to leave, or is being abused and needs to leave.

    • Brenda R

      Iam,
      X told me right after I left last year that I had the rest of my life for him to get under my skin. That to me was a threat.
      I don’t believe most of Christendom thinks there is a difference in types of divorce. It’s all the same to them. I know that if X would have treated me with love and had been in a biblical marriage, I would never had thought of divorcing him.

  16. Kaylen

    I know that I have written on other post, but how relevant this is to my story. I have been married for 26 yrs to a man, that at this time is a pastor at Baptist church. I have over the years made mistakes in my marriage, that I have apologized for, and it has haunted me even up until now. I even apologized to my children, as a lot of these issues he felt led to share with them. He has treated me like a child in front of the children, but most of the things he has done to me were behind closed doors.

    We tried to work on reconciliation. I owned my mistakes. I said that “if” I came back, things would have to be different and I would have to know that they were going to be different and I was not going to be rushed—I needed the time to heal. I truly feel like he just told me what I wanted to hear. He did admit that he hadn’t treated me the way he should have. I brought up particular events, he admitted them–apologized and said that he was wrong for doing that. He committed himself, on his own, to do “The Love Dare” book (then asked me if I would read it with him, read only–and then got upset that I was no reciprocating the challenges. All this when I told him from the beginning that, and he knew that I was only agree to read it with him). I felt that he did not know the real me: if I said it wrong, if I made the wrong face or body gesture, if I had the wrong tone in my voice, if he felt I had the wrong motive, etc,.. I was not physically attractive to him, you see, I needed to lose weight and exercise to become more appealing to him (If I really loved him, I would want to do what it took to be attractive to him). Then when that didn’t work, he tried to use the I’m worried about your health…or when the kids heard him talk about it. I became a shell of a person. I lost 50 lbs (stomach issues almost daily, and migraines most of the time–especially on days that I would have to be at home). I was told to leave all important issue conversation with the kids to him, especially Biblical issues. Fault was found with most everything I did in my wifely and motherly role, but at the same time he would constantly tell me that if I didn’t do something different I was going to lose my children’s respect—at least whatever was left. If there was a “discussion” and I would say I was done, tell me to sit down, followed by (if I didn’t sit down), following me, grabbing me, getting in my face, following me wherever I tried to go, unlocking the bathroom door, etc….So yes, at times I lost my cool, I said things like “I should have never married you”, “Marrying you was the worst mistake I ever made”, “I want a divorce”, “I hate you”,….all said in anger and none said in a very long time.

    When issues would happen, he would share with the older children, but specifically told me that I should not only not talk to my children, but should not ever talk negative about him to anyone. No one needs to know that a “minister’s” family has problems. So I was stuck, trying to do the right thing for my children. Trying to be the good Christian, but slowly dying–falling into a pit where I truly wanted to die or be numb, and as a nurse, I knew that was not a good place to be.

    I left….of course, it was the END of his world. What did I lose? My children—all five, ages 16-25. None of them talk to me, answer my text, even acknowledge gifts that are given (I did raise them to say “Please” and “THANK YOU”. Mom has abandoned not only such a loving and caring husband, but her children. Now he wanted to do something. Go to a marriage retreat, take a vacation and get a way together, go to counseling…all the things I wanted over 8 years ago and he said that all we needed was the Bible, him and me. Wouldn’t even read a book together or watch a video series. So he did “The Love Dare”, the text, emails and phone calls came—2 good ones to every 1 that would be much like his “discussion/lectures” I had to endure at home. What had changed? Nothing!!! He had brought me a few flowers, he had said a few nice things, he had followed the steps in the book…and said he would do it everyday for the rest of his life. He said he would take me back no matter how I came back (some other abusive behaviors, based on domination and use of scripture that I told him that I didn’t know if I could ever get over–of which he apologized for and then recanted).

    What did I ask for? Admit that he was abusive. Admit to the kids that he was abusive and that I had a biblical reason to leave (which he holds to the doctrine of no divorce except for adultery), and then we would could go to counseling. His answer–he was not an abuser. He knows abuse, and that if I wanted, he could go toe-to-toe with me and prove that I was also abusive in the marriage. His answer was to forget the past, look to the future and just begin to love each other again and make our marriage the number one priority.

    What did I get? Two letters from the church. The first asking my biblical grounds for leaving. Which I did to the best of my ability at the time, and examples of the abuse, most of which he had admitted to, most of which my children had not heard from me. I left telling them that there were issues, I had been treated in ways that I shouldn’t have; that I had not been the wife or mother that I shouldn’t have either; it wasn’t their fault; their dad was a good dad and good provider; and that I didn’t want to be the mud-slinging parent. If they had questions they could ask and to please remember that there are two sides to every story. I apologized to them for the wrong I had done, admitting to them–not just blanket apologies. So now the kids knew, and still sided with him…not me.

    My answer back from the church consisted of these excerpts:

    “Regarding your assertion that your husband doesn’t love you as Christ loves the church, we as you if anyone can perfectly keep this commandment. Of course, no husband can love his wife as perfectly as Christ loves the church.”

    In reference to 1 Peter 2:18-3:1 “In this passage God tells servants to humbly subject themselves to those who may rule over them with a harsh hand, and to patiently suffer the unwarranted grief and pain they receive from them, ‘for this is acceptable to God.’, for Christ suffered wrongfully at our sinful hands to secure salvation for us. Notice the specific inclusion of the wife in this command–‘Likewise ye wives….’”

    :”God says by subjection the husband can be “won” by the wife.”

    “We hereby, as God’s church, and that sovereign agency that binds on earth what is also bound in Heaven, direct and instruct you to immediately return to your husband and to subject yourself to your place in the home as his wife. Leaving your husband, and thus your departure from ____________ Church, have been unscriptural actions on your part. This is your second (and last) admonition by the church. While we pray for your repentance and reconciliation to both your husband and your church, you will be unto us as a heathen and a publican according to the Scriptures until then.”

    This was followed by a letter from my husband to “the family” showing how he had been abused by me, using the same number of arguments that I had used and then a plea for me to come back and what he would do to have me back. All along he has said that he has told my children that he didn’t treat me right, but I don’t believe that is true by the text message and comments that I have received from them. I have resigned to the fact that it is over (I was really pretty sure that was the case when I left or I wouldn’t have left), but it’s really hard that he is still pastoring (he’s such a good teacher), he still his the consolation of my children, and it’s truly sad my children and church family could be so blind to believe that the above is truly how they should treat another sister-in-Christ.

    So now I’m alone, no kids, but more peace than I’ve had in a long time. He may have been able to take my earthly “church” (for the moment) away, but he can never remove my standing with Christ and the on true Church that matters. I cry, almost daily and sometimes more than once a day, not for my marriage…for the loss of children and the fact that he has them and the lasting influence that can have. They say I wasn’t a mother to them, I admit to some extent that was true, because I had finally taken on the attitude if I can’t do it “right”, why try at all. But I really feel that they heard that mostly from him all these years. I just pray that someday, the will see I can be a mother and not live at home with them and that this is not what I planned, nor what I wanted or envisioned for my life. I did want a marriage that was “till’ death do us part.”

    It’s a day at a time. Sometimes a moment at a time, and sometimes even a breath at a time. My faith has grown a little more every day, but I’m relearning I have value, something I had forgotten along the way. That God loves me as much as the person I’m next to, talking to, or thinking about and that he cares about me, too. Someday I know that I will look back and realize that God will have had a purpose for this in my life. Until then….I’ll just keep my eyes on Him, and breathing.

    • Gary W

      Kaylen,

      So much evil done to you here. Just a couple of thoughts, though. First, unless I am misunderstanding what happened, the second letter from the church was nothing more than a verdict that was bought and paid for by your husband. Were such a thing to happen in the secular courts, both your husband and the jurors would be behind bars.

      Second, the notion that any church organization holds the power to bind and loose, though widely accepted, represents a total corruption of Scripture. It is one of the Scriptures that organized Christianity has mistranslated in order to enhance its own power. An honest rendering of Matthew 16:19 would be something along the lines of “I will give you, Peter, the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and if/when you, Peter, bind something on Earth it shall have (first) been bound in the heavens, and if/when you, Peter, loose something on earth it shall have (first) been bound in the heavens.” Basically, Jesus wasn’t speaking to anybody but Peter, and even if what Jesus said could be extended to others, Jesus was basically saying that Peter (or others) could neither bind nor loose unless the thing had first been bound or loosed in heaven.

      Jesus died to set us free. Neither your old church nor anybody else can undo what our Lord accomplished and is accomplishing for, in and through you.

      (in case any Greek scholars would like to test my translation, here, using ESV as the English base with analysis of corresponding Greek terms in brackets, is my analysis of the Mt. 16:19 passage: “I will give you [speaking to Peter, in the singular] the keys of the kingdom of the heavens [plural], and whatever [from a construction including the Greek word for if, when, or though] you [Peter, singular] bind on earth shall be [Greek: active or passive] bound [Greek: perfect passive participle] in heaven [plural], and whatever [from a construction including the Greek word for if, when, or though] you loose on earth shall be [Greek: active or passive] loosed [Greek: perfect passive participle] in heaven [plural].” The similar passage in Mt. 18:18 has its differences, but appears to convey the same sense.)

      • I’m not a Greek scholar at all, so can’t comment from that perspective Gary W, but I find your translation very interesting. If it’s accurately representing the meaning of Jesus’ words there, it means that Jesus was pretty much warning Peter not to be presumptuous in how he dealt with tricky pastoral situations. Peter was known for his foot in mouth goofs. So maybe Jesus was reminding him to not jump presumptuously or without prayerful thought to conclusions that would impact his flock after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

    • joepote01

      “I have over the years made mistakes in my marriage, that I have apologized for, and it has haunted me even up until now.”

      “So yes, at times I lost my cool, I said things like ‘I should have never married you,’ ‘Marrying you was the worst mistake I ever made,’ ‘I want a divorce,’ ‘I hate you,’….all said in anger and none said in a very long time.”

      Kaylen – From my perspective it sounds like you are being way, way too hard on yourself. Those things you said in anger sound to me like a very normal and natural emotional response to the environment in which you were living. How could you NOT feel regret at marrying someone who turned out to be an abuser intent on daily destroying you?

      The timing and delivery of the statements may not have been perfect. So what? The emotional response was entirely appropriate, and given the circumstances about the only way they could have been expressed was in an extremely emotional and volatile scenario.

      It sounds to me like you’ve done an amazing job of dealing with, and escaping, a horrific situation. Don’t beat yourself up over minor things…just trust God to continue to lead and guide you.

      And the children’s attitudes…that’s pretty normal, too. I will probably never repeat some of the hateful things some of my children said to me during the divorce and the custody battle…at this point, they’re simply things that grace allows me to overlook, realizing they were in a no-win situation, reacting to their surroundings. Today, they are all grown and I enjoy a good, loving, respectful relationship with each of them…and I praise God for that!

      God, who has redeemed you, will continue to deliver you and provide for you.

      Blessings to you!

      • Anonymous

        Joe – you wrote very encouraging words to Kaylen. I know nothing is beyond the Lord’s healing and yet I can’t really see my adult children ever becoming close to me. They refuse to ‘discuss’ the issues they hold against me. It’s very controlling and hurtful.

      • joepote01

        I’m sorry, Anon! I understand…and it is so hurtful…

        All we can do is give it to God and release them. They may, or may not, decide to have a closer relationship.

        For me, today, I have a closer relationship with each of my grown children than I ever thought would be possible, given the distance of their teen years. It’s not the same for all of them…some are closer than others…but all are loving and respectful.

        I know that’s not always the case…

  17. Brenda R

    Kaylen,
    I find it odd that the “church”, which I assume means a few men in control, didn’t go on further in 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…… That part might have destroyed their whole case against you. Huh!! They sure did a good job of choosing what they wanted from the Word.

    • Kaylen

      Yes….You see “he’s such a good teacher” that he doesn’t have to follow the guidelines as others do. They were to busy getting the toothpick out of my eye to notice the telephone pole in his.

  18. thepersistentwidow

    Kaylen, What pain and suffering you have endured from that abusive church and husband. The church that rejected you is legalistic and no place for you, a daughter of the King, to be. It is a mercy that you are now disconnected from their foolishness. They were not worthy to have you.

    My heart goes out to Christians who no longer attend church due to persecution, because the church should be a place of peace and comfort to believers. I wrote this post that may be helpful. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of assistance. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/03/04/lutheran-church-missouri-synod-offers-real-help-to-victims-of-domestic-abuse/

  19. Searcher

    The pv of marriage concept is founded and steeped in male patriarchy. Basically, it says that a man can do no wrong. This is absolute nonsense.

    I see guys at church who just can’t get their lives together. They may be well educated but jump from job to job. Their wives dutifully stand by them as they bankrupt their families. The wives may never disclose that they are suffering. You can only imagine what goes on. Now and then, however, the man may let his anger or disdain show. How can fallible men be give supreme control over their homes without any accountability. This is an unbalanced situation. The irony is that many men who promote such views are still not very happy with their wives.

    We (myself and my wife) are familiar with a case where a wife gave up so much for her husband. This man was under the opinion that he was entitled to certain things because he was a man. He didn’t think that he had to bring anything but demands to the table. [Eds: details redacted to protect the woman who was abused from being identified by the abusive man — who is now her ex].

    It boils my blood when I hear religious commentators say things like,“our characters will be perfected in adversity.” This is their answer to women who are unhappy in their marriages. Flawed theological teachings are one of the main threats to the vitality of marriages. The threat of divorce helped to straighten me out early in my marriage. I have grown over the years and I cherish my family. No one is perfect but having a standard aids up as we seek self-actualization. How can I prepare my children for adulthood if I am selfish and content with a mediocre family life. Any teaching that doesn’t promote us to be our best is flawed.

    [Note from Barb: I have been in email contact with Searcher to discuss his comment. He understand and respects why I’ve removed the details of the case that he alludes to in this comment.]

  20. Larry Kuhn

    Does anyone know Paul Washers and RC Sproul’s view on remarriage after divorce?

    • Hi Larry, thanks for the question.

      We have a post about Paul Washer. Abuse and Scripture: Paul Washer and the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture.
      I haven’t re-read it all just now, so am not sure how definitively it might ask your question about Washer’s view on remarriage after divorce.

      I’ll ask Jeff Crippen to answer your question about RC Sproul.

    • Just found this at Ligonier (link):

      I take the position an innocent party in divorce is free to remarry

      Also here is a post Jeff Crippen wrote a while ago on RC Sproul’s view on divorce:
      R.C. Sproul on Biblical Grounds for Divorce

      • healinginhim

        Thank you for posting the links concerning Paul Washer and RC Sproul. It’s good to review these articles and the information from commenters.

  21. Gigi Meyer

    Thank you for addressing this “cult” view. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh but I have been in an intense conversation with people who strictly adhere to this teaching which borders heresy. I’m perfectly fine with people who leave a marriage and remain single but this group is advocating that if you have remarried, you should leave your husband, children, family and live a celibate life unto God. This teaching grieves me for the many, many vulnerable women (and men) who have been in abusive relationships and are being taught this erroneous theology. I am deeply saddened at the harm it brought to well over one half of the friends in my group. I spoke out against it and had private message after private message thanking me for taking up the cause of trying to point out erroneous “theology”. May your work and information on this doctrine prosper so that others are not taken in by these errors….believing that unless they abandon their second marriage they are going to hell….yes this is what was being promoted…..heartbreaking.

    • Hi Gigi, we don’t think it’s too harsh to call it a cult view.

      Welcome to the blog 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      We left your screen name unchanged but if you want us to change it to something else (for safety reasons), just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

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