A Cry For Justice

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

How Diligent, Detailed Bible Study Can Sometimes Lead to Madness

Matthew 16:5-7, 12  When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread….
v. 12
Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Here we have the disciples in personal contact with the Lord Jesus, and He speaks to them.  “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They analyzed His words. They discussed what he said among themselves. They came to a conclusion from their exposition: He is admonishing us for bringing no bread. They were, of course, quite wrong.

In seminary and in our churches we are taught to minutely examine the Scriptures. The Christian is to be a careful student of the Word of God. Pastors are taught Greek and Hebrew and theology. We memorize the books of the Bible, catechisms, and portions of Scripture.

And quite often, we go wrong.

It is of course the very thing the Pharisees did. They ended up turning a blessing of God — the Sabbath — into a horrid burden so that people couldn’t even enjoy what God meant to be body and soul-refreshing rest. Jesus rebuked them for it all — the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way round. We have often said on this blog that so it is with marriage. Marriage was made for man, not man for marriage. Marriage is not to become some kind of master to which human beings are enslaved. And yet, as we all know, that is the very thing that so many pastors and churches and theologians and books are teaching today. Marriage is the thing. People are subservient to marriage. It is vital that the marriage survive, even if the people don’t.

Let me suggest to you a principle that we very much need to add to our hermeneutics toolshop (hermeneutics is what we call the discipline of Bible study and interpretation). Here it is — though I am sure it is in no way original with me:

When our conclusions we arrive at through our study of Scripture lead us to ridiculous, unjust interpretations and applications that are not consistent with the character of God, it is time to go back to our study and see where we went wrong.

It’s like a mathematics test. The professor says “show your work on your paper so that if you get a wrong answer I can see where you went wrong and you can go back and correct yourself at that point.”

Now really, who can deny in all honesty that the “company line” of no divorce for abuse is a ridiculous, foolish, and dangerous biblical interpretation that is inconsistent with the character of God? It’s time for a lot of people who are teaching this stuff to be called out on it and sent back to their homework to correct their work.

Someone is saying “but the no divorce for abuse is NOT ridiculous!” Really? Let me paint a picture [Trigger warning, descriptions of abuse] :

Sally has been married to John for 24 years. Sally’s life in this marriage has been a living hell. John professes to not only be a Christian, but to be an exemplary student of God’s Word and one of the finest pillars in his church. But John terrorizes Sally and the children behind the scenes. Tomorrow, John is going to step up the intensity of his abuse because Sally told him she wants a divorce. John is going to carry out one of the following scenarios (you choose any of them):

a) John is going to corner Sally in the bedroom, smash her up against the wall when she doesn’t see it coming, put his hands tightly around her neck while he keeps her pinned there, look right into her eyes and in a demonically cold and evil tone, he is going to tell her that if she leaves him he will kill the children and then her. He will find her wherever she is. She and the children are his property and no one is going to take them away from him.

b) John knows that Sally is going to divorce him and try to take the children with her. He is not going to allow it. She is a wicked, ungodly woman who will not submit to him and therefore is in rebellion against the Lord. John has tried and tried, but she will not listen to him. Well, if he can’t have the kids, then no one can. John takes his 9mm handgun out of the closet and when Sally comes home with the children from the grocery store, he is going to be waiting for them in the living room. He is going to kill them all. John carries these murders out, then gets in the car and speeds down the road thinking about killing himself. Before he can do so however, he is taken into custody by the police. What John would soon learn is that the bullet that struck Sally did not kill her. Sally survived, now having to endure this hell on earth without her children.

John Piper, Jim Ellif, Voddie Baucham and others of the “no-divorce-for-any-reason” school would most certainly tell Sally that God does not permit her to divorce this murderer. But the hermeneutical craziness doesn’t end with Piper, Ellif and Baucham. Oh no.  It goes on. All the pastors and churches and professing Christians who insist that only adultery and a very specific kind of desertion (the literal leaving of an unbelieving spouse married to a believer) are biblical grounds for divorce will tell Sally the very same thing. “Nope. Uh-uh.  Can’t divorce him. If you do you will be a covenant breaker and sinning before God.” Now of course, if John had been an adulterer, no problem, these guys would say. Divorce is ok for that, but not for murder of the children. Others continue teaching this insanity by saying that the desertion rule doesn’t apply in this case because that is only specifically for the scenario where an unbeliever refuses to live with a believer. “And after all,” these people will tell Sally, “Your husband John professed to be a Christian. Oh sure, he murdered the children and shot you, but hey, King David did a lot of bad stuff too and God stuck with him.”

IT IS TIME TO STOP THE MADNESS!

All of you out there in Christianity Land, listen! This is cruel insanity. This is totally inconsistent with the very character of God as He reveals Himself in Scripture and in the Living Word, His Son. As you all argue over the minute details of Scripture, checking out verb tenses, participles and prepositions, you have come to conclusions that Christ never taught. And instead of saying, “hmmm….you know, maybe the propeller goes on the front of this plane and not down below on the axle,” you absolutely insist that you are going to fly that plane with the wheel where the prop is supposed to be, and you are demanding that all the rest of us get in that plane with you.

Well, we aren’t going to. We are finished doing that. You aren’t a qualified pilot. And more and more and more you are going to hear loud voices saying so.

 

41 Comments

  1. HappyToBursting

    Excellent encouragement for a Wednesday morning!
    When I married my abuser, he liked to remind me that my degree in Biblical Languages was unimportant and unnecessary for knowing the Word of God. However, when I left him, he turned it around on me, insisting that I use my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to justify my leaving, since he believed that would be impossible. At first it seemed like an intense study of the primary passages on marriage would be the right thing to do… and I tried. I really tried. To no avail. Eventually I recognized there was no reasoning with this sort of person and I dropped it. It was just more abuse: using my own gifts against me.

    God’s grace and protection has never been more real to me than when I have looked back on the events of our marriage, separation, and divorce. It was awful and rotten and ugly, but like Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

  2. Anonymous

    An intense post … Thank you Jeff. There are many in Christianity Land that will look down their noses at someone like you for bringing attention to such madness.
    HTB – marvelous Spurgeon quote (a keeper) “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

  3. Valerie

    Your title had me riveted. I have felt driven to study the scriptures more as a result of the abuse. I am actually desiring to learn Hebrew and Greek in order to learn the most accurate rendering of scriptures.

    Might I add a point? I think you were actually stating this if I read your post correctly. I think it is important…of absolute necessity actually… to diligently study scripture much like the Bereans. In Hebrews we are told without faith it is impossible to please God. In Romans we are told that faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God. How can we know God without studying his Word? Where we err is to miss the forest through the trees so to speak. We can become so involved in the studying that we don’t actually learn what we’re studying. We study for study’s sake.

    I am becoming more mindful of the danger of mysticism that is becoming quite popular. Let God speak to you through personal revelation and quietness. Meditate (not on the Word, just meditate). I think this is being presented in acceptable terms in many Christians circles but in my opinion, this is extremely dangerous.

    Jeff, your example of the bread was a prime example of how we can read too much into scripture. “Context is king” as the saying goes and the disciples false conclusion is one that we can giggle of their ignorance, yet I think these kinds of false conclusions are also prevalent among Christians today (I have become aware of my propensity toward this as well). Sometimes the false conclusions are harmless but others may lead us down the wrong path entirely. Great post!

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Valerie – what I am seeing described is a study that leaves one without mercy or understanding, but just wooden knowledge – a tree we were told NOT to eat of. The Holy Spirit is to teach us all things, as promised by Jesus. He did not tell us to become “rule makers”, turning His Word into doctrines and commands He did not teach. When we use the Word to make these “rules”, rarely do we apply those “rules” to ourselves, but instead apply them to the rest of the world.

      The point of this post, as I take it, is that men have misused the Word, hinged on their own wrongful, wooden interpretations, to leave women and children (and sometimes men) in abusive marriages, which are not marriages at all, in God’s eyes. They would rather have these victims lose their lives, than give them the freedom from bondage promised to all believers, beginning in the Old Testament. They love the practice of religion, but do not know the God of it. They may learn Scripture, like one would learn a recipe book. You cook a recipe for your guests, but could really care less about your guests – it’s all about the meal and the praises you will receive. That is how some of these leaders are. They do not “know” the heart of God and Who He really is, His nature and passion for His people. They only know what is written on the pages of the Bible and are more concerned for their own outcome and the praise they will receive, than for the battered, abused, abandoned and wounded sheep God told them to feed and care for.

      Great post, Jeff!

      • . . . a study that leaves one without mercy or understanding, but just wooden knowledge – a tree we were told NOT to eat of. The Holy Spirit is to teach us all things, as promised by Jesus. He did not tell us to become “rule makers”, turning His Word into doctrines and commands He did not teach. When we use the Word to make these “rules”, rarely do we apply those “rules” to ourselves, but instead apply them to the rest of the world.

        Yes. rather like Doug Phillips who made laid down strict rules about church programs and church membership, but does not apply those rules to himself and his own immediate family:
        http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2014/09/03/doug-phillips-update-and-beall-phillips-publicly-responds-to-michael-farriss-recent-statement/

  4. LorenHaas

    “Elephant” jokes were all the rage when I was a kid. Here is one I hung on to:
    “How do you carve an elephant out of a block of marble?”
    “You chip off everything that does not look like an elephant!”
    An accurate view of God can be buried under accretions formed by culturally biased misinterpretation. Slave owners saw scripture endorsing slavery because they adopted a self-serving narrow view of scripture instead of seeing the grand sweep of freedom the Word of God represents.
    Just like the block of marble you have to stand back to see the “elephant” that has been buried in the stone.
    Thanks for this post, it was very affirming for me.

  5. Jesus' Beloved

    As I read this post, I had tears in my eyes. I think about all the years I lost because I stayed in an abusive marriage after being told numerous times by the church (and I will say here that most of these people were well meaning, but were just misguided as they interpreted God’s Word to me) that I had to stay and try harder. That my marriage would only improve if I was willing to die to self more and to love even when I wasn’t loved.

    Finally, 14 years later, when I had the strength, given to me by God, to leave, I was then told by my believing friends that I must handle that experience very Biblically and specifically or else I would never be blessed by God in the future if I chose to remarry. What that entailed was the following:

    1. If it came to this (and it did), I had to allow my husband to be the one to file for divorce. Not me.
    2. After separating, I had to make sure that I constantly extended opportunities to him to work on our marriage and reconcile.
    3. I had to force my heart want to work things out with him, even though by the time I left I loathed him and didn’t even know if I loved him anymore.
    4. When he started to immediately see someone else, I had to keep trying everything I could to make him want to come back to me, UNTIL he officially had sex with this person. Then and only then I would be Biblically released from my marriage.
    5. I had to wait until my husband had sex with another woman after we separated or filed for divorce before I could move on.

    What kind of nonsense is this??? Honestly, someone tell me if this in the Bible and I missed it.

    All that doing the above did was give him ample opportunities to verbally assault me further, to mess with my mind by telling me I was crazy and imaging everything, and to ruin my health from the stress of being around and in contact with someone that made the fight or flight response in my react every time I was in around him.

    The worst pain I ever went through in all of this was when I took my Christian friends’ advice after I left my husband. They made me believe that my marriage was to be cherished and fought for. Their advice made me severely second guess myself. Now I thought everything was MY fault.

    I wish they had left me alone and let me, after 14 years of abuse, let go. I wish they would have seen I DID TRY numerous times before to change his heart and to save my marriage with him but if it didn’t work all those years before, why would it work now? But, I listened to them. I rose up and I went after him. I apologized for all our problems (which he loved). I asked him to take me back. To try with me to work things out. He absolutely loved that the woman that left him now had her tail between her legs, had lost all of her resolve, and was now regretting her decison. He used this against me with a vengence. He did not take me back, needless to say, but rubbed it in my face that he was the one that didn’t want me now. He was with someone else that he was happy with because she wasn’t me. He was ending our marriage because I was so messed up and expected too much. He was done with me. I was too much work. And he filed for divorce, feeling that he was perfectly justified in doing so. Then he had sex officially with his new love interest, which he made sure I knew about. Though I suspect he had sex with her well before then. Since when is an abusive man known for telling the truth about anything?

    So, since then, which was in May of this year, I have lived with him telling me I made a huge mistake. I lost all the ground I gained when I set a boundary with him and told him I left him because he was abusive. He was able to turn that entire situation around on me and make me look pathetic and unwanted. He shamed me far worse than he did for the 14 years that he emotionally and physically abused me. All because my Christian friends told me I had to make sure I had a Biblical divorce, which included me allowing that man to trample on me more.

    I should have been allowed to just walk away. I should have not been told I would be denied God’s favor and blessing for ending my marriage. I should have been free to enjoy the escape God gave me.

    I gave this man so many chances, I can’t even count them all, and they got me no where. Because you cannot negotiate with a soul terrorist.

    I wish the church would get educated about abuse and stop telling women to destroy their health and their children and their hearts in an attempt to do all the work to restore an unrepentant, hard hearted, truth resistant man. It’s not our responsibility to save our marriages or to deliver our husbands. That’s God’s job alone! To tell us otherwise is creating co-dependent Christian women who have no idea how much they are worth to their Creator. And for that reason, we lose trust in Jesus because we think He is behind all the advice we’re getting to stay no matter what, and divorce is not an option for us. Suffering and “carrying our cross” of abuse is.

    It’s going to take me years to heal from the abuse I went through. And even more years to heal from the abuse I went through after I finally left but my Christian friends told me to throw myself back in the lion’s den and let him gnarl me a bit more, in a final attempt to be sure I had a “Biblical” divorce. And what is even sadder is it will take me years to trust Jesus like I once did, because I came to believe with every passing year I lived in that hell that He wanted me to stay and keep trying no matter what. That’s what the Church said so I believed it.

    • anotheranon

      JB, Please don’t be so hard on yourself for the way others have treated you. You know the truth and God knows the truth. Keep your chin up and remember that as a believer in Jesus Christ you are God’s precious child.
      Many Christians don’t have a clue about what abuse really is and they can’t believe things that can take place behind closed doors (being with a “soul terrorist”). Hopefully this blog will educate them.

    • JB, your account of church abuse is really powerful. Boy, you tried so hard to squeeze yourself into their hole. And their hole was not only narrow, it was twisted and unbiblical and full of razor wire on the insides of the hole. This is the kind of thing that comes from books like “Redemptive Divorce” which give advice that is not bad for non-abusive situations but very dangerous when it’s applied to abusive marriages, especially when the people applying it (like those folk in your church) are doing so pedantically.

      People who do that are legalists: whether they know it or not they believe that obedience to the letter is so ultra important that if you don’t do it you are under the wrath of God. For them, Christianity boils down to running through the mouse hoops of the letter of the law as they interpret that letter.

      There’s nothing wrong with obedience to the Word when the Word is interpreted rightly. but the kind of obedience your church prescribed is just stinking legalism.

      Thanks for sharing your story in such detail. I think many others will identify.

      PS, did you know that the subtitle of my book is “Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” . . . divorce for abuse IS Biblical. What they made you do was torture, not Biblical divorce. It reminds me of those children in orphanages or prison camps who are made to scrub a giant floor with a toothbrush, or made to dig a deep hole in the freezing cold hard ground and then fill it in again.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Amen Barb!

        Yes, JB, this is a typical response from the Church and I am sorry for all you have had to endure. I am not certain why we don’t follow the Scripture that says we are to take the Gospel to one who is lost, present it and IF they accept it, let our peace remain there and if they don’t, then to shake the dust off and move on. Presenting the Gospel through our being Christian wives to abusive spouses for decades, is really not what God had in mind for marriage. If the abuser won’t accept the Word and repent, then the Word commands us to shake the dust off. This at least frees us from the command of well meaning people who would tell us to just keep preaching the Gospel to the abuser. I will not say it is what grants divorce, but the abuse certainly grants grounds for divorce. I am not certain where this theology of knocking people’s doors down until they accept Christ came from, but in my opinion, it certainly does not fit with God’s directions to us as believers. We present, we pray and leave the results to God.

        In Isaiah 51:21-23, God speaks to His people about how life has been for them. Of course they were in disobedience and rebellion to God, which we as true Christians are not, But note what God says here in verse 23 —

        and I will put it into the hand of your tormentors who have said to you, ‘Bow down that we may pass over’; and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to pass over.

        This is what it is like living with and dealing with abusers and those who defend a wrongful “permanence view” of marriage. We bow and bend to these things because we are so wounded by our tormentors. But note from the tone in this verse, that this is not God’s intention for His people.

        BTW, they would hate that I used the Scripture this way, but when I asked God’s help for a specific “thing” I was dealing with, the Spirit spoke this verse to me. It made me realize I was being tormented. I believe God wanted me to know that I was being tormented and that I needed to stop making my back a street for the tormentors.

      • Yes, IAMB, that verse is the ‘doormat’ verse par excellence, isn’t it? And you’re right: God does not want us to let other people treat us like doormats, objects they can wipe their dirty feet on.

  6. Valerie

    Wow, JB…I remember well that feeling of hopeless. Feeling that there is something wrong with me that I can’t make 3 + 3 =5. In my heart I knew that trying harder wasn’t the issue because I had either tried as hard as I possibly could or I had to come to terms with the fact that God made me a defective human being because what others were telling me is that this shouldn’t be that hard. If it was then that meant I was either looking at it wrong or my expectations were too high. Either way it was me. Ugghhh…I remember too well. Soul terrorist describes it well.

    JB, have you ever looked into Narcissistic Personality Disorder? When I finally figured out this is what my husband had it was such a freeing experience to realize why I could never make 3 + 3=5. Not saying yours has this but I read some familiar attitudes and behaviors that you describe.

    I, too, have had to work hard at separating what others and my husband told me was truth from what God reveals in His Word as Truth!

  7. celestebella

    Hello Jeff, please remember when giving examples of abuse that it does not always entail extreme physical or any physical abuse at all. The article above and your online sermons lean towards extreme examples. Many of use have had our minds and access to money “strangled” and our lives “taken” in countless other ways should we want to leave.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I hear you Celestebella. Agreed. I intentionally used extreme examples in this post to highlight the insane “biblical” conclusions so often being taught. Thanks.

  8. Barnabasintraining

    “hmmm….you know, maybe the propeller goes on the front of this plane and not down below on the axle,”

    Thou preachest heresy! Really Jeff. Next you will be saying the Earth is round! And then you’ll say it rotates around the Sun!!

    Oh. Wait….

    • Katy

      Like! 😉

  9. livingliminal

    There is something really wrong when christian leaders love an institution more than the people in it. It’s like they are happy to offer up human sacrifices on the altar of their idol. I really don’t think that’s consistent with the life message of Jesus.

    • Not Too Late

      No, it’s not. It’s not right at all. It’s really hard being identified among a group of people (that is, the Christian ‘c’hurch) who are known for loving an institution more than people. If it’s not enough grieving the loss of a marriage, psychological health, friends, etc. survivors have to work through the grief of realizing that the church family we once loved is a place of injustice, and we don’t fit there anymore.

  10. Suzanne

    Many Christians don’t have a clue about what abuse really is and they can’t believe things that can take place behind closed doors (being with a “soul terrorist”).

    I have met so many otherwise kind, decent, Christian folk who don’t have a clue. They seem to me to be unable or unwilling to look outside of their own experience. I believe they lack the empathy necessary to comprehend the suffering of abuse victims because their own lives have not been marred by abuse. It’s especially difficult for them when the abuser is a liar who professes to be a child of God but is in reality a child of the devil. But what I cannot wrap my head around is why they are so willing to immediately believe that victims are lying about the abuse.

    • Anonymous

      Suzanne, I have wondered the same. Maybe the testimony of women, much like in the Bible times, still doesn’t amount to much. We still unconsciously judge women to be prone to exaggeration and being overly emotional. In other words, you can’t always believe what they say. On the other hand, men who complain of their wives being hysterical, demanding or abusive are rarely disbelieved. (I am in no way implying that the male victims in our midst have not suffered judgement and discrimination in their Christian community, but suggesting that the word of a man is still assumed to be more believable, in the first instance, than that of a woman.)

      • Suzanne

        So true.

      • Anonymous

        This is exactly what I have experienced. In fact, it is the older churched women whom seemed the most harsh with me. Could it be that maybe they feel I should be able to withstand the abuse because they have? I do not feel safe, yet in any church.

      • Brenda R

        Anon,
        it is the older churched women whom seemed the most harsh with me

        It is entirely possible that some have been through the abuse and endured or tell themselves they have and are really basket cases. It is also the way they were taught and don’t know any other way–set in their ways. I had an older woman tell me last week that she wasn’t so much against the divorce, but remarriage that was quite another subject. Personally, I’ve gotten beyond what they think.

    • Still Reforming

      This was one of my biggest concerns in coming forward with information — not being believed. I thought I would be viewed as a dramatic, emotional, hormonal woman who is probably just over-anxious and exaggerating. I did find that yes, there are those in the church who don’t want to know, and when I handed a prayer request about the situation to these, they told me they made a decision not to read it and locked it away, “but we’re praying for you.” (How are you praying if you didn’t read it? And how would you decide not to read it if you hadn’t read even a part of it?) But I have to shelve those hurt feelings until another time as I deal with the immediately surrounding fires – and I took those to the pastor, although wouldn’t have had the Lord not intervened. I was braced for a similar reaction, but found the love of Christ instead. Thankfully.I think it’s all too often the case where the victim is blamed and the abuser accepted and supported. And I do agree – it’s most likely because no one understands what it’s like if they haven’t lived it themselves. Even living it took me years to understand what was really happening and develop the wherewithal to finally draw a line in the sand.

      • Brenda R

        newlyanon,
        they told me they made a decision not to read it and locked it away, huh?? They locked away your prayer request. Wow! They may as well come out and said, no, we really don’t want to pray for you or about your problem.This is really one of those out of sight, out of mind kind of things. Perhaps they did start to read it and decided they didn’t want to know anymore. It is mind boggling. I am glad you found support with the pastor. That is rare in itself.

      • Valerie

        Oh my word, Newly, I am shaking my head in disbelief. They made a decision NOT to read a prayer request!??

        I can’t help but think that people like this are cowards. They know that if they hear information about what’s going on then that means that they will have to do something about it…take a position. So its just easier to “la, la, la I can’t hear you” and then go off and tell others what a shame that you’re BOTH going through “a hard time”. Spiritually manicured hands don’t need to get dirty then. Don’t mean to sound bitter…just outraged at it all.

      • HappyToBursting

        It was certainly bold on their part to refuse to read it. I had a similar situation when I tried to speak with some elders at a church X had chosen. They said they would only speak to me about the situation if X was also present. Never mind they had been hearing all about it from him… without my presence.

        I’m so glad the pastor was supportive of you. Most churches, in my experience, have pastors and leaders in lock-step with one another.

      • Still Reforming

        BrendaR, Valerie, and HappyToBursting – Indeed. In fact, not only was coming forth with information a trial on top of a trial, but the response from this couple is a trial that I have on a back burner. I am dismayed and deeply saddened by the response of a church leader (the husband) who can get up in front of the church each week and talk about “boundless love” or “carrying one another’s burdens” then pat his sister (me) on the back virtually and say “be warm, we’re praying for you and we’ve put the prayer request sealed away, having decided to not read it.” This response came through the wife in written form, then she tried approaching me in church saying she didn’t want to explain in writing, but they’ve been very busy. I’ve had enough deception in my own home where there are no witnesses, so I only said, “I know you’ve been busy; I have to go,” and turned to leave because I couldn’t handle the dismissal from those I thought I could trust. I’m grateful for the support of others in my church. For now, I’m pondering having a meeting with them with our pastor before the next communion, because I think I’m supposed to resolve this kind of thing with a brother before taking communion, but frankly, the fires at home are enough for me now, and I’ll cross that other bridge when I come to it. I realize that I’m not alone in this kind of response from the brethren, and that both helps and hurts me. I’m dismayed that so many in the “church” don’t want to see. Don’t want to share this burden. And I’m encouraged by those here who know this pain and help those of us still in the mud and reaching out for a good Samaritan.

  11. Brenda R

    This was difficult to read, but quite necessary. The 2 options mentioned were no options at all. I find is sickening that members of the Christian faith, no matter what denomination or doctrinal beliefs would want a person to go through either and actually say this is biblically God’s will. I think my advice for them would be to spend some time in the gospels and get to know Jesus. Stop looking at choice verses for your information and put all of the bible to work in your heart. Quit trying to make people believe that just because there lives are great and can walk into church every week with a smile on doesn’t mean that everyone else should. It’s time for those with the happy face to get in the trenches and help the oppressed, not try to keep them there because of what little they really understand.

    JB, What you experienced was a terrible thing and never should have happened. It is bad enough that you were being abused by your spouse, but you were also being abused by your Christian friends. When people start telling you, “thou must do it this way or that way” they are making decisions that are between you and God. God made us all different. He has different plans for each one of us and our growth. We don’t all fall into the same mold. You had too many voices telling you what to do. I can’t imagine how crazy that must have made you feel. No one should be forced to feel emotions for a person that they do not have. It is cruel even if it is not intentional. If I saw X on the ground in need of medical attention, I would try to help and call 911. It doesn’t mean I was intending to reconcile. It would be the thing to do for anyone that I ran across in that condition. Beyond that–he is just another person living in the same town. I pass by a lot of those on a daily basis and keep on going.

    I had a pastor one time dismiss my concerns of abuse and never spoke to him about it again. When the divorce papers were filed, I as a matter of fact told him what was happening and that was it. I had one person who I spoke to about it after that, my counselor. She helped me get through the process of leaving and divorce. Well 2. My oldest daughter who had wanted me to go for years, but I didn’t say much to her as she just wanted me to make a move. Having read Barb’s book and X forcing me to go back to bed when I wanted to leave the house after he went through a 2 day rant was the push I needed to get me to move. I was so afraid that God actually wanted me to live through the abuse and didn’t want to go against his will that I added to my own crazy making. I had a couple of people comment about “how hurt he was” after leaving. I basically told them they had no idea what they were talking about.

    When Jesus bore the cross, I don’t believe he was smiling and saying bring on the party. Why would anyone bearing the cross of abuse be doing those things. Jesus bore the cross for those who would accept him as Lord and Savior. He did this selflessly as our supreme sacrifice. I am not now nor could I ever be a sacrifice to save the X. Only Jesus can do that for Him. I was never a wife that X loved, I was a prisoner of war.

  12. Wow, that was pretty ‘in your face’ reality! Is there a way to get on youtube and speak these words, your entire post, so that others, churches, pastors, church leaders, men, etc. can hear them? Can we pray that it go viral? I believe that it would be what it might take, although we all know there would be such backlash and would probably hear words like heretic thrown around.

    I have said for a very long time now, that Christianity is simple. And I believe that. I don’t believe that God would send His word to us, and then make it super difficult for us to be able to read it, understand it, and do what it says. Isn’t it after all a handbook for life as His children? I believe it contains every answer we would ever need to live this life the way God intended. The Holy Spirit was sent to live within us as our helper, help for what? For EVERYTHING, right?

    I have lived around, (and am married to) religious people who have made Christianity look so difficult! Not to mention ‘screwed up’ in so many ways. I have stood back and watched this ridiculousness for so long and have suffered because of it. My N husband’s father is a well known minister who has traveled all over the world leading worship. I was told I could not leave my husband, although he was abusive in every way, physical, verbal, emotional, mental, because his Dad was a minister and how would that look? WHAT? Inside my heart, I did not believe it, but I was a young wife and Mother and I felt I had nowhere to turn, and I found out just how true that was when I tried. My husband was the nicest, most spiritual guy at church, and has studied the Bible, how could he be anything but near perfect? I thought I was alone, I didn’t know there were others…..how sad.

    I know that God will restore the lost years, I serve the God of Job, who got double for his trouble. And I am not comparing myself to Job in anyway, but God’s promises are for all.

    You do a great work here, for all of us who seemed to be the forgotten ones for so long, but the light of truth will expose the darkness, you bring that light and I am grateful for you and this blog…..from the bottom of my heart, thank you. May God richly bless you…..

    • anotheranon

      Thanks for sharing Survivor. This brought to mind II Cor.11:3-4. Part of it (Paul) says “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” How it must grieve God to see how His Word is twisted by some.
      Praying for you. May God bring a solution to your dilemma soon.

      • Thank you Anotheranon, for your prayers. If I could tell people my entire story, and I may someday in a book, it would be filled with all the tales of abuse, cruelty, lack of empathy, crazy making, lying, hurtful words that you cannot un hear, lack of integrity, “0” character, procrastination, indecision, criticism, disrespect, betrayal, and the worst one for me; having NEVER had my back with anyone, not family, not friends, not church people, not work, not anyone, anytime.

        But, there would also be tales of God’s goodness and grace to me, His peace, comfort, provision, mercy, joy, yes even joy, compassion, unconditional love, hope, His presence, light of truth, guidance, shelter, and His promises. I know that I know that God has always had my back, it may not have always been evident to me, but God’s ways are not our ways and in His time, I will be justified and my redemption will come. What He does to those who discarded me, didn’t believe me, shunned me, cast me aside and took the side of the abuser is none of my business. God is just, He is the judge and He will judge us all. God is an awesome God!

        My favorite scripture has always been – “SEEK JUSTICE, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

  13. StandsWithAFist

    Lack of empathy is a huge red flag when it comes to recognizing narcissism. Too many pastors are raging narcissists, self-absorbed in a false reflection of perfection: to admit abusers sit in their pews reflects poorly on them….and it’s all about them. Their lack of empathy is staggering. When religious leaders show a lack of empathy toward victims of abuse, that same red flag now has flashing lights and sirens. In my community we have a tornado warning system with sirens, & a voice that actually says “seek shelter!!” Shouldn’t our pastors do the same? Shouldn’t they want to protect the innocent? Shouldn’t they be sounding the alarm and wanting us to seek shelter? If they don’t, then they also become abusive.

    • NotHeard

      ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing’ Edmund Burke

  14. It’s funny because I think I hit on the concept behind this post a long time ago. I described it as Bible study that basically turns into a scavenger hunt to see if you can find more rules than the next guy (preferably with the most obscure OT reference possible), because this shows how holy and committed to following God you are. Doug Phillips was a prime example of this – he was beginning to hold conferences about “Biblical doctrines of food” shortly before the end. The promotional materials for the conference included allusions to a “doctrine of feasting” that, thankfully, we were all spared hearing about by the Lourdes Torres story.

  15. Still Reforming

    This is precisely what many of us living with an abuser fear – losing our church and our church family. And then what happens to our faith? Is it shipwrecked because church and family turn their backs on us when they don’t see the abuse, but they see the nice presentation of the abuser? Coming forward with information after trying so hard to “make it work” for so many years is in itself a trial on top of a trial. I thank God that in His mercy and grace He has opened the eyes and hearts of my pastor and a congregant to believe me and my account and to support whatever road the Lord may take me down – whether to stay or to leave. I have the the love, support, acceptance, and encouragement of these my true family, and through their reflection of Christ, I can receive peace. Today, I remain. Tomorrow? Whatever the Lord brings. Today, it’s ready myself. For what? I don’t know. But if I stay or if I go, the Lord leads and He has given me great blessing through His children – my pastor and some of my church family.

    • Suzanne

      I’m so happy that you are supported by your church family. May God richly bless them for their kindness to you.

  16. Rebecca

    AMEN!

  17. jaime

    Dear CFJ family in Jesus! Fellow sufferers, survivors and ones in the healing process..I bet you the lepers during the time Jesus lived on earth knew exactly what we feel and what we have gone thru. Aren’t we all glad that Jesus could touch them just like they were, He could love and accept them, touch them, heal them, and clean them. They were cast out and castoff. They were not accepted. They were considered dead. People ran from them and chased them away.

    I love this Jesus! He has loved us, accepted us, healed us, and cleansed us and freed us!

    It is unlikely that someone who has never had leprosy or had a close friend who had leprosy could understand the absolute miracle and blessing of Jesus’ intervention and love.

    So many of the CFJ family are Jesus’ heart and caring hands for those who have suffered abuse and oppression. I am so blessed by the Christlike love,care, and understanding shown to each new “leper” that God brings across our path and into the family. No one else could so effectively demonstrate that TRUE LOVE to those who need it the most!

    • anotheranon

      Your words have blessed me Jaime. Thank You.

  18. Katy

    I love this post Jeff!
    One of the things I said to Barbara after reading all the books on abuse and theology was that I was thrilled to discover that God’s Word actually MATCHES HIS CHARACTER!!

    also – to the poster JB – my church had a women’s ministry leader who gave me the same line about leaving my abuser = God won’t bless me in the future. It was all hogwash. I thank God every day for giving me the strength to get away from my “pretend Christian” Abuser husband, because now He has brought me to a much better place. I wish all the women who hear that line could know the truth: God won’t withhold himself from you, just because you can’t take any more of your husband’s (spiritual, emotional, verbal, physical) violence! It’s completely ridiculous!

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