A Cry For Justice

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

Pt 2. CCEF’s ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’ course — bread mixed with stones?

In Part 2 of this series on CCEF’s course ‘Counseling Abusive Marriages’, we’re going to be looking at the *redemption* model of the course, and whether God’s Word shows that oppressors often get redeemed. And we’ll be examining the possibility that I might be treating CCEF too harshly.
[Read Part 1 of this series]

We’re picking up midstream in the Course Description:

Lectures and readings will provide the essential conceptual elements for organizing and understanding oppressive & abusive elements and how the gospel penetrates and applies. Through the use of written work and case studies you will learn how to connect the gospel to these overwhelming and complex dynamics. Big promises! Can the course deliver?

It worries me that Darby here is using academic management-speak which doesn’t mean much. Verbal mucus, as one Aussie writer called it.  —“essential conceptual elements for organizing and understanding oppressive & abusive elements”  … what exactly does that mean? And does CCEF realize that this kind of language makes victims of abuse feel like their pain — and the injustice they are swamped in — will be neatly dissected and pinned on the pinboard in this course, so all the neat squeaky counselors will go back to their offices and think that they have abuse down pat. . . and will be even less likely to listen to feedback from survivors, since they now have these ‘elements’ all tabulated and organized and boxed up precisely. 

Course Registration

[dates and costs given. Cost to audit is $187.50. Cost for credit is $375.00 ]

Course Outline

  1. Overview and Conceptualization
  2. Biblical Framework
  3. Physical Abuse
  4. Sexual Abuse
  5. Entitlement — Extreme Neglect — Deceit — and Economic Oppression
  6. Spiritual Abuse, Manipulation, and Terrorizing Behaviors
  7. Helping the Wounded Tell Their Story Okay, so if anyone is interested in hearing the stories from the wounded, I encourage you to read A Cry For Justice — both the book and the blog. And it won’t cost you hundreds of dollars! And it will inform you about topics 2-7 in this course outline as well.
  8. Church Involvement
  9. Bringing it together with Redemptive Stories see? This counseling is all about redemption. 

Let me ask this. Does God show in his Word that oppressors who are dedicated to maintaining power over others, often very vulnerable others — does God’s Word show that these oppressors often get redeemed? Hmm. Let me see. Under God’s direct and personal counseling, did Cain change? What about King Saul? King Ahab? King Rehoboam? Amnon? (Tamar’s rapist) AbsalomHaman? Sanballat? Nope. Nebucchadnezzar — okay, but look what it took! Not a humanly delivered counseling program!

What about the fools in the Book of Proverbs? Nope; moreover, the fools in Proverbs are not depicted as being as wicked as many domestic abusers are! And look at what is said about rebuking (a.k.a. counseling) fools:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov 18:2)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. (23:9)

A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (17:10).

Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. (27:22)

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (29:1)

Furthermore, the Book of Proverbs cautions us about the dangers of counseling the wicked.

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. (9:7)

Yet so-called Bibical Counselors and Pastors have been advising domestic abuse victims to try to *give the gospel* to their wicked spouses by gently corrective words and humble demeanour. Cripes! If you want a good example of this, read Appendix 11 in Not Under Bondage (my book) which gives an account of no lesser personage that John Calvin doing this to a victim of abuse.

What about the “such were some of you” passage?

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

So some revilers (verbal abusers) were saved. Did get redeemed. And some thieves and swindlers (who manipulate and deceive for personal gain, like abusers do) got saved. And some idolaters and adulters and greedy people got saved. But the point is, they WERE that way, but they are not that way anymore. They are now washed and sanctified. They no longer practice those sins habitually, whether covertly or high handedly. (How in the world did all of those sinners in 1 Cor 6 get changed and redeemed without a band of Christian counselors to enlighten them?)

How can a person be a Christian yet be practicing sexually immorality, and/or idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft, greed, drunkenness, verbal abuse, and swindling as a way of life? Not possible. The fellow is faking his Christianity, and he needs to be called out on it, rather than counseled with sugar-coated carrots that promise him **redemption**. Call him the viper that he is. And leave him to deal with it . . .   And maybe the Lord may lead him to repentance, but a program of counseling is hardly likely to. Unless it’s the kind of counseling where the Law thunders from Mount Sinai, it will be more likely to give him the idea that his problem is only influenza, when in fact it’s the black plague.

What does God say we should do with oppressive people who lie, manipulate, slander, revile, coercively control by extortion and threats, commit adultery and idolatry repeatedly and yet proclaim they are Christians? Hint: 1 Cor. 5:11-13.

Am I being too harsh to CCEF?

I hear someone say, “Barb, your tone is insulting. These counselors and professors at CCEF are Christians, and Christians should not bite and devour one another!” Hmm. Am I biting and devouring? Or am I just stating the truth?

Was Jesus insulting when he said this to Nicodemus:

“Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10)

Was he too harsh when he upbraided Simon the Pharisee?

“Simon, I have something to say to you. . .   Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:40-47)

Did Paul badmouth other believers to Timothy or did he just state the truth?

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. . . .
At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. (2 Tim 4:10, 16)

And was Paul backbiting and devouring Peter here?

when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:11-14)

And another question: is it wise to just take for granted that all the folk I am critiquing are believers? After Jesus whipped the sharks out of the temple, I bet many people said “But those officials in the temple are priests and levites, he shouldn’t have been so harsh with them!”
Note: I’m not saying they arent believers, I’m saying we should take nothing for granted, especially when there is so much money involved in marriage ministry book sales, course fees, counseling fees, and weekend retreats.

If I am wrong, and the CCEF course is going to teach that pastors ought to discipline and excommunicate abusers who have been masquerading as Christians, then I am happy to be corrected. But on the basis of what has been published about this course, I think I am probably right. Only a look at the full syllabus would persuade me, and even then I would still have my doubts that Darby Strickland and CCEF are able to deliver a loaf of bread without any rocks in it, because they have demonstrated already in their published material that they are tend to use victim-slurring language, whether they realise it or not.

In Part 3 (the final) of this series we will be looking at how the course seems to envisage churches working in conjunction with counselors to minister in domestic abuse situations, including whether they mention or condone church discipline for abusers and divorce for victims. We’ll also be looking at the reading list for the course. And I’ll summarize my overall thoughts about the course.

 

33 Comments

  1. Suzanne

    Barb, after reading this (and part 1) I had to tell you that, apart from the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit, I don’t know how you and Jeff could continue this work. It must seem to you both, at times, like trying to nail pudding to the wall. I pray that God will richly bless you both in the coming year, that your work will bear much fruit, and that abusers everywhere will come to repentance.

  2. thepersistentwidow

    Barb, This is an OUTSTANDING series! Keep proclaiming the truth, sister!

  3. Ann

    “essential conceptual elements”
    —-“conceptual”, like abuse is some fuzzy, on the fringe, up for grabs idea instead of a concrete happening.

    “oppressive & abusive elements” 
    —why say “elements” instead of just saying “abuse” which by its very nature is oppressive.

    Nothing but a lot of high fluent mumbo jumbo!

  4. It seems to me that the basic premise underpinning this whole counseling movement is that the participants are both born again Christians, when in fact, most abusers certainly are not. A person who repeatedly and intentionally harms another cannot be truly saved and counselors must start treating them like the wolves in sheep’s clothing they are and not the misguided sheep they are not. By being so touchy-feely, they are actually enabling the abuser and heaping more harm upon the victim.

    Counseling is supposed to be for those who want to truly change. Tell me, what abuser really wants to change? How many abusers only go to counseling to be able to lay blame upon the victim and make it look like they are concerned? How many use counseling as a tool to further their abuse? How many go so they won’t lose their victim, their source of perverted satisfaction?

    The abuser needs the hammer of the law to wake them up and the abused needs the comfort and compassion of the church. Counseling like this is totally reversed. Sickening!

  5. Jeff Crippen

    Excellent, Barbara! And not only would we want to be convinced that this course is teaching and insisting upon church discipline – the real stuff, ex-communication and announcement of the abuser’s sin to the congregation and vindication of the victim – but we want to see the heart-felt biblical attitude toward this wickedness evidenced. You mentioned the clinical, dissecting language in the course description that gives the impression of people in white coats running lab experiments. Well, what we want to see is that “hunger and thirst for righteousness” that Jesus said characterizes those whom He blesses. We want to see a righteous anger and outrage against these evildoers, and we want to see it in these instructors as they train pastors and counselors and other students who take these kinds of courses. We want to see an instructor who knows this evil so well that he/she gives an occasional (or not so occasional) hammer of their fist down on the lectern as they announce “this must stop in Christ’s church!! This evil must be exposed and these victims must cease being treated with injustice!!” We want, in other words, to hear from people who are zealous for Christ’s truth, zealous for righteousness, zealous for protecting and delivering the oppressed. Too outrageous I hear someone saying? Well, I seem to remember the King making himself a whip and driving the wicked out of His Father’s house. Zeal for the Lord consumed Him.

    • I totally agree Jeff. I want to see the righteous indignation from the counselors, pastors and others who say they are addressing this issue. If the outrage is missing, I can’t trust them.

      • Lisa

        Amen. “What did you say that made him jump out of his chair, charge at you and squeeze your face?” isn’t the question I expected to hear from my pastor. I was hoping for a reaction like “How dare he do that! Are you ok?” Hmmm. He didn’t get it but he did support my decision to divorce and I’m grateful I didn’t have to fight that battle as well.

  6. Song of Joy

    Great post Barbara!

    “Essential conceptual elements”
    This made me laugh….and reminds me of several spoof games I’ve seen usually mocking government text or business writings. It can easily be adapted. All you need is a few numbered lists of impressive words. The longer the lists, the better!

    Say I am a hip mega-pastor. I need a new idea or theological concept to tweet, with which I can wow my thousands of followers, or baffle them with my genius.

    First, I think of a random 3-digit number, or perhaps I claim that God speaks to me directly and gives me the number.

    Today I choose #: 542

    Then I refer to my “Create-A-Spiritual-Sounding-Idea” table below.

    1. Essential
    2. Radical
    3. Transforming
    4. Astounding
    5. Mysterious

    1. Conceptual
    2. Foundational
    3. Spirit-filled
    4. Irresistible
    5. Awesome

    1. Elements
    2. Potential
    3. Law
    4. Calling
    5. Assurance

    So using # 542, I easily create my mega-pastor tweet:

    GOD FOREKNEW YOUR MYSTERIOUS IRRESISTABLE POTENTIAL #PREDESTINED

    It’s that simple. 🙂

    • Song of Joy, you have that recipe right!

      On this blog we get a steady stream of spam. Much of it is written from this kind of forumulaic phrases. Sometimes we get spam messages that go for pages and pages which are obviously the whole list of phrases which spammers can chose from. Anyone with access to a list like that can send spam, even if they don’t know English!

  7. Bridget

    “9. Bringing it together with Redemptive Stories”

    To me, this speaks to a “success story” and we all know that success stories will create buzz and “sell” the course. (Much could be said about this point and where it is placed in the list.)

    But why does it seem that the only way the counseling time is successful is if there is redemption? I don’t think they are talking about redemption of the individuals here either. I believe they are talking about redemption of the marriage. In the circles that this counseling is prolific in, marriage has become an idol in itself. “Saving the marriage” is the ultimate goal. When this is the goal, the individual people in the marriage become the abstract. The abused wife or husband and the children all take a back seat to the “marriage.” I have heard pastors talk about “saving a marriage” as if that was the most important (the goal) of the counseling. It’s as if the health and safety of the abused/harmed parties in the marriage are of little/secondary importance.

    I have to wonder if marriage has replaced the Gospel in some Christian communities. Is keeping everyone married some kind of badge of honor that church leaders want to wear . . . at the expense of the individuals? Have some people lost track of the fact that the fullness of the Gospel is for mankind (individuals) not for the marriage institution? Another way – marriage is for mankind, mankind is not subserviant to marriage.

    • Ellie

      Here’s a success story. A pastor identified my friend’s abuser and excommunicated him. My friend’s close friends saw through the fake repentance song and dance and would actually run interference for her so she didn’t have to interact with her abuser. The church pulls together to protect her and her child. My friend is encouraged, protected, and, when needed, provided for.

      • Ellie, it’s great to hear success stories.
        Especially one like this, which illustrates that when leaders TRULY ‘connect the gospel to these overwhelming and complex dynamics’ (Darby’s words) — guess what? The dynamics are not overwhelming and complex any more: they are simple!

  8. jmclever

    I appreciate the “translating” of letters from abusers and the pharisaical teaching of some so-called Christian authors, pastors, and speakers. It has taught me a lot and I find myself able to hear it almost immediately in some of my daily interactions in life. In this way I am able to keep myself safe. I am also able to affirm my 11-year-old daughter when she comes to me uncertain of what she has just experienced. Keep up the good work. Thanks!!

  9. Gary W

    O.K., so we supposedly have the opportunity to learn how the gospel penetrates and applies to oppressive & abusive elements, and to be shown how the gospel can be connected to overwhelming and complex dynamics. Whatever that may or may not mean, and I doubt if the author could even explain it, I wonder what is meant, in this context, by the word gospel. We seem somehow to have lost track of the fact that the gospel is something that must be OBEYED, not just received. Romans 10:16. Does the gospel even apply to those who have not embraced the OBEDIENCE Paul associates with faith at Romans 1:5 and 16:26? Does not this required obedience entail the confession of and repentance/turning from sin. Can there be any such thing as a gospel, the application of which to an unrepentant abuser effects redemption (transformation) of either an abuser or of the abuser’s marriage? I think not.

    Rather, true redemption (deliverance) from the penalty, power and presence of sin is made available to those who, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ, confess and abandon their sin. As between an abuser and his target, such redemption is available only to the target. One who continues to abuse does not, by definition, qualify. One means by which our Lord redeems or delivers a target of abuse from the presence of sin is to deliver her (or him) from the presence and control of her abuser.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Good stuff, Gary W! Good stuff!

  10. Jeff Crippen

    You know, we here at ACFJ have just about as many stories from abuse victims/survivors as anyone. At least we have a whole bunch of them that have been told to us. So where oh where are all of the success stories of redemption? I mean, if this is happening as a result of “redemptive” therapy, then where are all the abuse survivors at who say “yep, we had a fairytale ending. You guys down there at ACFJ are all wrong, man. Our pastor/counselor/church came to the rescue and fixed us up and the abuser was redeemed and we are now living happily ever after.”

    • I have heard fairytale ending stories like that. But the thing is: the sources these stories emanate from are ministries which are set up by — you guessed it — **reformed abusers** and their wives. In all my experience and observations so far, these ministries are shams. And money making machines. The man at at the top is still showing qualities of an abuser. And neither the man or the woman seem to be genuine Christians: — if you watch and wait you see the signs of unbelief and paganism eventually. And the fairYtale stories are like fools gold: they seem to have the shine of gold, but they are not gold, the fruit has a short shelf life.

    • He Is Faithful

      My response is my own, and just mine. I’m not recommending this for everyone, but in my case, I’m thankful for the counsel and accurate diagnosis my now ex-husband received from a Christian counselor. I was married to my abuser for more than 25 years. We went through more than our share of terrible counselors, the type you describe often in this blog, but finally he received an accurate and excellent “diagnosis.” (Please note this was not couples counseling – my ex consented to share his counselor’s comments with me.)

      Her evaluation helped me in two ways: It helped me see my abuser accurately, and it gave him the opportunity to repent and change. He chose not to follow her counsel. I chose divorce with a clear conscience. It was important to me to provide this opportunity for change to my abuser. He was my husband, and is still the father to my children. I feel like I can look my children in the eye and say that I gave him every opportunity. At times, I imagine myself responsible for his sadness and loneliness, and I have a good friend who reminds me (with pointing finger and scolding tone 🙂 that he has all the same resources in Christ that I do. For me, it was important to know that he was presented with those resources, and yet he refuses them. I consider him to be like the man who who asked Jesus in Matthew 19, “what must I do to be saved?” and went away sad when Jesus told him what he lacked. He refuses to give up control. That’s on him. For whatever reason, it helps me to know that he was offered resources for help. That may not be for everyone, but it is healing and comforting to my children and me. The problem is that not all counseling is good counseling. In my case it was. For this I am thankful.

      • Ellie

        Divorce doesn’t remove any opportunities for change. I was hesitant to seek the legal protection of divorce because I thought it would be a barrier to change. It isn’t. Divorce isn’t a firing squad. It doesn’t end the abuser’s life. Divorce is meant to offer legal protection. If an abuser claims repentance, I say, he should grant a divorce without harassment. He should use the divorce process to demonstrate repentance and understanding of his responsibilities rather than use the process to demand his rights and complain that he is required to provide for his targets.

        As I wrote in What Change Looks Like, the divorce doesn’t prevent change. If there is change, it should be sustained for a LONG LONG time and without demand or complaint. And it should be for Christ’s sake, not because he LUVS you, LUVS the kids, can’t live without you, or any other pop song cliche or Hollywood ending. Divorce doesn’t hinder a person from seeking Christ. It might just underscore his need to seek Him.

      • He Is Faithful

        Ellie, you are right that divorce does not end the opportunity for change. In fact, it ends the oppression and, as you said, it might “underscore his need to seek Him.” That would be the purpose of church discipline, too, had that been initiated. For the sake of anyone who might think that “giving every opportunity” is a pre-requisite for divorce, and thus burden themselves unfairly, I appreciate that you point this out. In some cases, that would be downright dangerous.

      • Thank you, He is Faithful 🙂
        I hope you don’t mind, I added a paragraph break to your comment.

        I think your commment is helpful for several reasons.
        Firstly, you mentioned “We went through more than our share of terrible counselors, the type you describe often in this blog” which validates and confirms what we keep saying on this blog that Christian counselors and pastors often get it badly wrong in domestic abuse scenarios.

        And then you say “but finally he received an accurate and excellent “diagnosis.” (Please note this was not couples counseling)” This shows that some Christian counselors are getting it right, and when they do, it is a great help to victim/survivors.

        Your comment also illustrates the fact that many/most victims want to be very very sure that they are not making a precipitous decision in deciding to divorce — that their abuser has been afforded full scriptural ‘diagnosis’, admonishment and rebuke to change, so that if the abuser chooses to disregard that call, it will be on their own head, and the victim will not be at so much risk of falling back into self-doubting, self-recriminating thoughts. Her conscience will be assuredly free, and Satan will not be so easily able to find a lodgement for his arrows of false accusation against the victim’s mind and conscience.

        You were very blessed to have that experience of a Christian counselor giving your husband a proper diagnosis and having that occur NOT in couple counseling. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (Phew!)
        Would that more Christian counselors did this properly!
        But your story gives us all hope: because if some Christian counselors can get it right, surely more can!

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Yes. Oh – except for those false shepherds who would say that the reason there was no reconciliation is because the woman refused to believe the abuser’s fake repentance!

      But, you are absolutely right here, because we do not see any rehabilitated abusers. You see, the Word is truth and just because men wrongly interpret that Word and what it says it means to have real Salvation in Christ, doesn’t make what they say right, accurate or true. In fact, it proves their interpretation to be wrong and false.

  11. bb

    Barbara
    were you surprised to see the book Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy on the required reading list? Would not this perspective give
    a reality check on the “redemptive” position?

    • Hi bb, in part 3 of this series I talk about the recommended reading list for this course, which does indeed include Bancroft, and another book we recommend. Was I surprise to see Bancroft included? Not entirely, but it certainly seemed somewhat odd in light of the weird way that Darby interprets the Exodus story (see part 1). The inclusion of Bancroft’s book on the reading list is one reason why I sub-titled this series “bread mixed with stones?” I do acknowledge that there is likely to be some bread in this course. I’m just concerned about the stones that appear to be present as well.

  12. IamMyBeloved's

    I am looking into this organization a little more. Are they associated with NANC, Jay Adams type stuff?

    This article is so good and I am so thankful for you taking the time, Barb, to go through this and reach out and rescue all those who may fall into something so devastating – yet again – before it can happen to them. I am always and forever amazed at people who think they are equipped to counsel victims of abuse. Ugh. I’ve lived my life in it, and I highly doubt that I would be able to truly counsel someone who was in the heat of abuse and do it wisely. Maybe one day – but not today.

  13. Faith

    It was about two years ago I received a phone call that changed my live forever. I had helped my husband with some paperwork for his new job. On that day I had followed all instructions and handed it to him as he walked out the door to go to work for about four hours. Eight minuets later he called me screaming at the top of his lungs, “You are so worthless! You can’t get anything right? I asked you to do something simple and you just mess it up. The way you do things is dumb and stupid. Yes, I can say you are dumb and stupid. Worthless! Just plain worthless. I don’t need your to help me any more! Why do I put up with your worthlessness?”

    I stayed calm and said, “Give me a few minutes and I would call you back with the changes.” I managed to get them done even though I was shaking like a leaf. I called him back and gave him the changes. He didn’t say thank you, he just blurted out “Because of you I will not be able to get as much work done today.”

    I knew I had followed his directions for I had written them down as he spoke them, but with a Narcissistic mind it is always your fault no matter what. I went to stand up, but my legs were too weak so I went to my knees to pray. I needed answers. I was unable to kneel so I laid on the floor in a heap talking to God. “Father I have been down this road too many times. He is going back to his old ways. Please help me! Please don’t ask me to go down that path again.” It was then that God put on my heart that I had a choice. If I stayed I would not be helping my husband or I in our Christian walk and if I left that might be the only thing that would wake him up to get help. I called a friend, packed all my belongings I wanted to take and I left that day only leaving a letter telling him I was leaving to get my heath back and he would need to get some professional counseling. I wrote out a list of things he needed to change before I could come back. I told him the only way to talk to me was through our son. No one else knew where I was. I changed my phone number everything.

    My husband and I were in a ministry together. We were workers in church and had a music ministry and we were in charge of large family camp meeting for seven years. Yes, we helped families stay together! All along we were a mess. His rages and outburst just got farther apart. I still was the thorn in his side. When I found out what a narcissistic person was, a light bulb came on. I was not crazy! My son helped me get away. He had come to my rescue several time before I left to calm down his dad. When I walked out the door that cold January day it was my son’s birthday. I told him. “Son, sorry to do this on your birthday.” His reply surprised me. “Mom, this is the best gift you could give me. I have been afraid he was really going to hurt you.”

    I had walked away from 33 years of marriage. I had stayed with him because I felt if I left I was not showing faith that God could change him. I had married for better or for worse. I had got the worst end. I came to the point where I saw I was not helping my husband but enabling him to continue in this bad behavior. I had tried for all those years to cover up what he really was. I had been living a lie. It has been a rough road. Many times I have asked myself, did I do the right thing? My husband is a people person and many friends questioned me. Church members wondered. He is an elder, singer and teacher in church where he moved. He can talk the talk and act like he is walking the walk but he is missing a key ingredient, a relationship with Jesus Christ. His heart is deceitfully wicked and full of self.

    He went to a Christian counselor for a week of intense counseling a month after I left. At the end the counselor called my son and said, “Your dad is a changed man now. He is really trying hard. You need to tell your mom she can come back now and reward his good behavior for he is trying to give up his temper.” My son told the counselor I’m sorry sir, but it doesn’t work that way. Are you telling me if a person has been an abuser the victim should go back because they are trying to be better? He may mess up but it is her Christian duty to go back? Sir, no disrespect but I will not send my mother back to him till he can prove he has truly changed over a long period of time. God does not ask anyone to stay in a relationship that is abusive. God does not abuse us”

    I am glad to find this web site a few months ago for it has been a blessing. I know I have done the right thing. I am now going through a divorce. My husband has told so many vicious tales to past friends and family and anyone that will listen to gain their sympathy. To keep his good standing in the church he says I had an affair and our son is not his. He wants to remarry and have a family of his own. He still has anger issues that he excuses and blames me for. Was the Counselor right? No! Behaviors can’t change as long as self sits on the throne of your heart, and self can’t get off if you don’t see you have a problem that you are responsible for.

  14. Karen

    Dear Faith,
    Thank-you so much for your sharing just a small reality of your life for it ministered to me greatly at this particular moment in time. And also, Barbara, I appreciate you reposting Faith’s poem for it reassures us Who we need to run to in the raging sea of life. What a great piece of writing, Faith! A good cry was what I needed this morning and my shed tears brought forth some semblance of relief to my soul. The words you quoted from your raging ex “Yes, I can say you are dumb and stupid,” are words I hear often from my husband. Sometimes they are spoken to me directly and other times, replacement words are used to convey the same insult. I believe you know that system well.

    Christmas brings joy to many people, but those of us who experience the fruits of abuse on a daily basis, it provides a season for escalated sabotage in destroying the victim’s happiness and peace, so the abuser can cry out “victory once again.” A couple of years ago, my husband asked me “What do you want for Christmas?” I responded with “I would love that book on Bonhoefer written by Eric Metaxas.” The response that spilled out of his mouth(before he even had time to think) was, “That’s dumb, who would want a book for Christmas?” In that moment, I was hearing the words “You are dumb for wanting a book for Christmas.” He said “That’s dumb;” I heard “You are dumb.”

    That same year, another family member requested “a book” for their gift and received it. The spouse gave it with love in their heart and the spouse received it with great joy. There was absolutely “NO CRITICISM FROM MY HUSBAND THERE,” just a “silent night.” He did not blurt out “that was dumb of you to want a book for Christmas, who wants a book for Christmas, I mean, really!?!” Oh no, for he desires a “good relationship with this family member.” Double standards seem to add gasoline to the fire and often times hurt worse than the initial abusive episode.

    Thanks again for sharing, Faith. Just too hurt to continue here.

    • Ellie

      Used to lay out X’s clothes every day. I did this because I loved him and I wanted to make his life easier. When he was interning at a prestigious organization, one of the VIPs asked him to take care of something. On that day I had forgotten to take care of a minor detail of his apparel, something like a tie clip, but a bit different. He called my cell phone to insult me and told me to bring him ___ RIGHT THEN. I had no way to get ___ RIGHT THEN, but I came up with something to accomplish the same task. I took it to him and he wandered around insulting me and telling me how he could not possibly go in to the VIP’s office looking like that and how stupid I was and how I was going to cost him that job.

      I ordered ___s from eBay and kept them in my purse, in the car, in his desk, in his brief case, in his suit case, everywhere. He would never be without those again. But the thing keeping him from going into the VIP’s office to ask a question wasn’t lack of ___s but his own insecurity. He was shame dumping (aka projecting). After I left him he was trying to get to respond to him one day and he thanked me for always making sure he had ___s. I wanted to throw up. How about apologizing for terrorizing me and shame dumping? That would’ve maybe been something healing. Instead he twisted that screw.

      • Karen

        Yes, Ellie, I know your story all too well. It is mind boggling isn’t it? Always willing to please and yet never measuring up. It is difficult living a people pleaser mentality and in the end, the person least happy and satisfied with life is the “people pleaser.”

        As an insult to injury, I will say that my husband did receive a devotional book as a gift from his sister for Christmas, bringing it home to share with me. It made me sick to my stomach and I could only stand there but a few seconds before I could feel the pain rising up inside of me. I had to leave his presence for that smug evil look on his face cut my heart wide open. I wondered if he told her “how dumb she was to give us a book” or “you, dumb stupid fool, why did you give me a book for Christmas?” I don’t believe so.

        I did not spend one precious minute of my time reading that devotional for it could never minister to me given the abusive circumstances involved. And this is not just about Christmas, it is an every day survival ordeal.

    • Faith

      Dear Karen,
      Yes there are times that makes you think of the past. It was this year Christmas shopping with my son that brought back memories. We had a long day. On the way home tears welted up in my eyes. I turned to my son who was driving and said, “Son, I know you don’t like to shop but I have to say thank you for being so kind today. When you got out of the car first and waited for me, you didn’t put me down for getting out of the car slowly. When it started raining I ran from the car to the store to stand at the entrance. You were behind me but you didn’t bark like a dog and call out quit treating me like a dog. Get out here in the rain and walk with me or I’ll go back to the car.” I’m glad those days are over. I thank God for helping get through each day of my life.

      Here is a poem for you!

      We Never Walk Alone

      No one walks alone for we have a friend indeed.
      He is so special oh a friend like Him we need.

      We may call on Him of anytime day or night,
      For weʼre His children and weʼre always in His sight.

      Heʼll always listen to each joy or concern.
      We need not worry for His back Heʼll never turn.

      Heʼll give us more grace when our load is to heavy.
      And when we need help, Heʼll never wait or tarry.

      We never walk alone for we have a friend indeed.
      If we would just trust and let Him be in the lead.

      • Karen

        Dear Faith,
        I truly appreciate your poem and your wonderful talent for conveying your thoughts in print. I copied it down in my Bible for further reflection as a reminder when the days are almost unbearable. Praise God for you. And I love you too.

        There has been such healing in your life and it is evident by the comments I read from you. Much wisdom there. And I am thankful you had a wonderful day with your son and there was peace in your experience, which is lacking in so many relationships. Your post triggered an experience that comes out of the shadows every once in awhile to torment me this time of year.

        Many years ago, my husband and I visited his family in another state, staying with them during the Thanksgiving season. His family decided to go to the mall shopping and we drove ourselves meeting of them there. My husband was already in a testy, angry mood as he always is when his mother is around, so I was very careful not to say anything or even look at him in the wrong way so as to provoke more anger. While shopping in one of the larger department stores, I wandered into the next aisle and left my husband’s side only for a short moment. And when I went back to the aisle where he originally was……..he was gone.

        Out of sight. And I looked in the aisles adjacent to see if he wandered there as I had, with no sign of him. Then I began to panic and hastily walked the whole entire store looking for my husband, for he was my ride back to his family’s house.

        My husband was gone. And so was his family who was shopping with us in the store. They were ALL GONE and THEY ALL LEFT ME IN THAT STORE ALONE. We did not have cell phones back then and all I could think of was to find the customer service desk and ask them if I could please make a phone call for someone to come and get me.

        I felt so foolish, so embarrassed and so incredibly humiliated and ashamed. My head was spiraling as I wondered “What is the world is going on here….why isn’t my husband looking for me….why isn’t his family walking through that whole store, aisle by aisle, in search of me? They all claim to be these “big, spiritual Christians” talking down to me on every occasion, so why aren’t they practicing what they preach in trying to find me?”

        I had my purse, with no money in it and I forgot to grab my checkbook that morning, so there I sat for over three hours waiting for them to arrive back at his sister’s home. When someone finally answered the telephone, as politely as I could muster, I asked if my husband could come back to the mall to pick me up because I had been waiting for him for hours.

        My husband refused to drive back and get me, so his sister drove all the way across town (a huge city here), picked me up with absolutely no compassionate feelings involved. SHE DID NOT EVEN FEEL BAD ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THERE.

        And when I arrived back at her home and confronted my husband, his response was a smug, wicked, evil chuckle accompanied with the words, “You should have never left my side.”

        That was it. End of confrontation. He had a wonderful weekend while I was absolutely miserable after that abusive situation. And to this day, that episode still replays itself out when we go “mall shopping,” only in my present circumstances, I require myself to be better prepared for my own protection.

        Where there is no conscience, there is no love.

        Thankfully, Jesus, our LORD, is not this way. Praise Him.

  15. IamMyBeloved's

    I just want to make one point about the 1 Cor. 6:9-11 passage. This passage obviously makes it clear that as Christians we “WERE” of that previous nature, but are no more. I also want to point out that the term is “SOME” of us were those things not “all” of us. I am not implying that some of us do not have sin. I am saying that it makes it clear that we are not all of the same category of sinners.

    I think that when we try to put all Christians in the same boat and state that we are all still – after our conversion – just a bunch of sinners, that it empowers evil and perpetuates the view that all sinners are guilty alike, which is what most of us encountered when we went for help. But let the Word of God be true and let’s be free to know that God does not see it that way. I am certain that a Christian domestic abuse murder victim, upon appearing in front of Christ in Heaven, is not told by Him, “Well, you are just as guilty as your murderer, so don’t talk to me about THEIR sin.”! This is a ridiculous interpretation of Christianity and how it works.

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