A Cry For Justice

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

Is Scripture bondage to you? — a testimony from one of our readers

In the old days some churches occasionally opened up the platform for someone to give a testimony. So if you were expecting a ‘Sunday devotional post,’ we’d like you to switch gears. This is a Testimony.

The following appeared as a comment on our Facebook page recently. The author, an abuse survivor, did an exceptional job sharing her journey and in particular in describing how she had been blind to the bondage her abuser and others had brought her into through the twisting of God’s Word. She also does an amazing job here in specifically naming many of those perversions of Scripture which are so often used to enslave us. Many, many thanks to her. Read and learn:

I was told by my Christian counselor [2012] that “scripture was bondage to me.” I was offended.

  • We ought to esteem others higher than ourselves
  • We have to love the unlovely
  • Jesus opened not his mouth
  • A wise woman builds up her house, a foolish one tears it down by the words of her mouth
  • We ought to forgive as Christ has forgiven us lest we receive not His forgiveness
  • We cannot manipulate as is the sin of witchcraft but rather with longsuffering submit and pray for and heap burning coals and rejoice in trials n tribulations
  • We cannot abstain lest by mutual consent
  • In this life we will be treated harshly and unfairly…do we think we will receive differently than Christ Himself?
  • It is only God who vindicates, don’t let the sun go down on your anger, trust God, do good despite what others do to you
  • You control yourself…guard your heart from bitterness n keep a right spirit
  • Wives submit and don’t have a Jezebel spirit of control
  • As you submit and show forth your soft answers that turn away wrath and by your quiet and meek spirit…it will naturally win over your husband by observing your spiritual conduct and he will rise to the position of Godly headship convicted
  • You cannot leave the unbeliever …how do you not know that he won’t change and you don’t sanctify him and your children? God Hates Divorce

My ex-husband used scripture AGAINST me because he knew I loved Jesus and wanted to live it FOR Jesus and hear “well done” and be an example and keep my relationship with Christ and not slip into the flesh. He guilt-tripped me. He manipulated me. He quoted our pastor who said I was too strong willed and needed a heavier hand to force me into proper submission lest I “put a ring in (my ex’s) nose and lead him.” He quoted male Christian friends, popular book authors, no “Jezebel” spirit, I’m under his covering…like an umbrella and if I reject his leadership as God ordained, I get wet so to speak leaving his covering, BUT it is also I who breaks a hedge and allows for Satan to wreak havoc in our entire family because of my disobedience to God in disobeying my husband.

I was counseled to fast and pray MORE, anoint his pillow with oil so as he slept the Holy Spirit would honor my prayers penetrating him with dreams or visions. I was told to submit MORE, to simply do as he said DESPITE how he treated me…gaslighting, lies, verbal, emotional, economic, spiritual, sexual and physical abuse.

I did it ALL. I read every book, I sought our pastor, his family, three different times of Christian marriage counseling, His Needs Her Needs book study, older marrieds in the church that could help teach him proper headship and submission and how to be a Godly husband. I prayed more, I fasted more, I submitted more, I had an ongoing email correspondence with Dr Emerson Eggrich, author of Love and Respect [NOTE: ACFJ does not recommend Eggrich’s materials for abuse scenarios]. I implemented his advice to be QUIET, not speak, not voice my opinion verbally, I called 9-1-1… one police officer fussed at me, pregnant, hysterical sobbing, saying “This is your HUSBAND and here you are thinking God will bless you as you talk down on your HUSBAND?” He said this to me because I was telling him the words my ex called me and how he’d hurt me… fussed at by an officer… and YES, I anointed his pillow with oil.

And then, I broke. My brain did. I was told that years and years of stress and trauma caused what happened to me. Diagnosed with major depression disorder, disassociative bouts… I just broke. I said “give me a fix-it pill or something.” I’m a confident extrovert leader and I’m a first born list maker, type A personality with goals and calendaring and to-do lists that I scratch through and accomplish… this broken thing that can’t grocery shop, take her kids to a birthday party, forgetting dates and homeschooling from the bed… this is not me. Fix me.

And my counselor kept wanting to talk about my marriage. “No. No. That’s not it. I’m ok. I can take it.” See, I know I’m a daughter of a king. Valuable. Worthy. Loved by God. He’s like my ministry. How can I preach Jesus on Bourbon Street or pro-life sidewalk counsel at abortion clinics and yet I can’t minister the same love and forgiveness to my own husband? No. I don’t need to talk about my MARRIAGE. I need you to fix me back to me again.

And then after weeks of her annoying me by always going back to my marriage came this: the scripture was bondage to me.

And I really was offended. They plucked Jesus’ beard n SPIT on him! I have to be like Jesus, see??? Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Love. FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT!! And guess what…SCRIPTURE IS GOD!! And the WORD became flesh n dwelt among us!

I left that session just offended. Not confused or doubtful and absolutely NOT in agreement with her.

But God…

He dealt with my heart. I selah pondered… I wondered if it could be so. Could I and every Christian I’d ever gotten counsel from and read have it wrong? I mean could it be God hates abuse more than He hates divorce? Could it be there are PEOPLE that God created granted FREE WILL that just won’t ever change? Isn’t anything possible with God? Can’t he change the most vile with just one broken, contrite hearted prayer? I’ve SEEN God change women’s minds choosing life. I’ve SEEN God sober up people on that wicked sin street and they pray the sinner’s prayer with me and God unfurl their hearts and change occur. Can’t God do that with MY husband? I mean yes, he has never shown repentance and fruit, never putting the kingdom first or really showing any relationship to Christ, but Daniel waited YEARS before his answered prayer and vision… can’t I wait years too?

I wrestled. I questioned. I sought the counsel of many pastor friends because I didn’t want to do it wrong. I didn’t trust my own therapist. Maybe she’s a carnal Christian you know, justifying bad behavior. How can I say no to my husband and be scripturally obedient? I’m not allowed except by MUTUAL consent. But… but… maybe that scripture is directed to two married people who BOTH obey God? Maybe God never intended one to get carte blanche while the other towed the line. Maybe God says my husband is wrong and it is okay if I don’t “submit” to ABUSE… to him… to the abuser. Maybe… maybe…. Maybe scripture had become bondage to me.

There ARE other voices besides yours Pastor Jeff … but you have this platform to reach many via social media and the internet. Don’t stop. This is critical and crucial. Women need to hear it. Lundy Bancroft’s book I bought in 2004 validated me. Someone understood what happens in my home. Ahhhh. But I STAYED MARRIED. Why? Because NO ONE … NOT ONE… gave me a way out so that I was still a good CHRISTIAN. Huge difference.

Bless you. May God ignite the Church with this law and grace dual TRUTH. And may God heal women’s hearts… mine, too. Amen.

* NOTE: by “law and grace dual truth” the writer is referring to God’s application of Law to the abuser and grace to the repentant. In other words, she is affirming the fact that God does NOT treat everyone the same and that it is a grievous distortion of His Word to give the promises and blessings of the gospel of Christ to a hardened, impenitent, unrepentant abuser. Especially those abusers who have mocked Christ by playing the role of a Christian for years.

75 Comments

  1. Gracie

    As I have been walking through my desert place for over 18 months, I have had the hardest time getting back into God’s word. Because of this post, I know why. Scripture is bondage to me too. For all the same reasons, and many others. Whoever this is, thank you for the courage you showed.

    • For those who are having a hard time getting back into God’s word, here are two posts by Megan C which may be very helpful:

      Untouchable Scriptures (part 1)

      Untouchable Scriptures (part 2)

      • survivorthrivor2

        Thank you, Barbara for the links offering help getting back in the Word. I read both of them, however my reasoning for having a difficult time not just reading, but studying the Bible is very different. I don’t have a difficult time with any particular scripture, books, and or chapters pertaining to submission, law or using them to promote the husband’s power over his wife.
        My abuser h certainly used his self-righteous, pompous attitude and his supposed superior knowledge of scripture to try and lord himself over me, true. (He once told me he owned me, and was serious) He used it critically to try and make me seem much, much less spiritual than he, and actually told me after some time that he thought he was MY Holy Spirit! For years! I fully understand what that means because I lived it, but I cannot explain it in words, it is too absurd! Maybe some of you know this, too, from experience, but I never took it to heart, I just thought it was ridiculous.
        I knew who I was in Christ, and I knew who Christ was in me. I was terribly confused during those times, and because of the physical abuse, it was truly horrendous, but I probably felt worse about myself for accepting a lifestyle I knew to be horribly, horribly wrong not only in God’s eyes, but society and my own family. I was not raised like that and I had to come to the devastating reality that he was.
        I cannot explain the issue about having trouble reading/studying the Bible. All I can say is, when you watch a man, (and I use that term loosely!) read, study, pray, active in church and worship, choir, leading Bible studies; all the while coming home and acting like an evil monster to those he professes to love, never protecting them, but is instead the perpetrator of evil on them…..it messes with your mind…..

      • Dear Survivorthrivor2,
        thank you for writing this. I admire how you are honouring your own feelings even though you can’t fully explain or articulate them. It is so important for each of us to hear our own reality, that small voice, those faint sensings which come from deep inside us, and when appropriate to say: “that doesn’t quite fit with me. . . that’s not how it is for me. . . ”

        Recovery, I think, involves a lot of this: saying what our feelings really are, what our thoughts really are, and asserting our right* to have those feelings and thoughts — even if we don’t yet fully understand them. We do have the right to be individuals, and our abusers often tried to make us into cardboard fake people, so discovering and standing up for ourselves is a part of our recovery.

        * When I say we have the right to have our own feelings and thoughts, of course that right is to be tempered by our responsibility not to sin against or abuse the rights of others. But I think those who come to this blog know this pretty well already, so I’m only articulating this caveat to prevent adversaries from misrepresenting me for their evil ends.

      • I would like to clarify the final paragraph in my comment above (the one which begins with the asterisk).

        I wrote that paragraph to head off any abusers from interpreting or using my words to justify their abuse.

        For example, consider this hypothetical scenario.
        An abuser reads this snippet of my comment:

        saying what our feelings really are, what our thoughts really are, and asserting our right* to have those feelings and thoughts [is okay]. We do have the right to be individuals

        and says to himself or to his allies — “Hey! See? Barbara Roberts said I have the right to my feelings and my thoughts! Here are my thoughts: I believe my wife should obey me at all times! Here are my feelings: I feel angry and indignant when my wife doesn’t obey me or when she has any thoughts or opinions of her own that differ from mine! And I have the RIGHT to feel and think that way! So all you people who are telling me I have to change — you can just go jump in the lake!”

        Of course, I’ve written this hypothetical speech by an abuser in a much more black and white, brazen way than most abusers would speak. But what I’ve depicted is still the underlying mindset of entitlement that abusers generally hold — they just dress it up in subtler language so its wickedness is more disguised.

        So I wrote that asterisked paragraph to close the loophole that abusers might otherwise have found in my comment to wrongly justify their abusive mindset.

        I hope I’ve now properly clarified this. If not, do let me know. 🙂

      • Still Reforming

        survivorthrivor2,

        You are not alone. I too am struggling to get back into the Word. It really bothers me that I just am not doing it, although I don’t want to read it just to “do it,” like an obligation. Yet for more than a decade – longer in fact – I used to cherish the time I spent studying God’s Word. I learned so much and felt so close to Him. I loved prayer and study and being around God’s people.

        I loved hearing Reformed preachers speak. I listened to a bit of RC Sproul (Sr) over the weekend, and the teaching was good, but I felt a bit more detached than I used to. It all sounded so….. academic. Like the theology was but cerebral, whereas my living with abuse was something else. Still is.

        Perhaps that’s part of it. Once I realized just how vapid the “love” really was in the church we attended and how fake it all was and how easily I was just dismissed and let go – not unlike the relationship I thought I had with my stbx for two decades – well, I guess I let everything go. When there’s no one around with whom to study the Word… what does one do? I had thrown myself into teaching and serving at my former church when I realized the Bible study was so superficial, and that the relationships seemed quite the same.

        So about a year ago – when I detached from the marriage emotionally and admitted to myself that the church was empty too – I just stopped reading the Word. My marriage was nothing and the substance in church was nothing, therefore, I just stopped. I didn’t want to pretend anymore.

        I still pray, but not being connected face-to-face with a regular body of worshiping believers makes it hard to get back into the Word. I can’t really explain it well; It just is.

        It’s like the train just stopped mid-track and I can’t seem to get it started again. I feel guilt about that. And shame. But….. I don’t know what to do about it other than to continue to ask the Lord to connect me with a body of believers. He certainly has done so here – on-line, but not in person … yet anyway.

  2. Kimberly

    This is everything I am dealing and struggling with, except my husband is in the ministry. So he acts one way to us in the home or car and another when he is around people. He drinks in secret and then slurs poison words to whomever. Mostly me but the kids receive it too. He then acts nice the next morning and expects you to love and respect and be submissive because that was last night. This is a new day. Yet it continues over and over.

    I have been battling this feeling of I am the crazy one. It’s me. He’s right. I feel handicapped. Unworthy. I feel in shackles because he looks to be the saint in everyone’s eyes and I look to be the one that hasn’t a clue about life. I’m sad, scared, mind filled with constant thoughts about me or about him. This site has helped and helping but I can’t seem to get these thoughts forever out of my head. I read and try to renew but it just takes another bad attitude and mumbling spirit or him controlling what I get to do or spend or how if I go somewhere when I get home I am punished by having to clean the entire house-feeling like I am just a slave to this man. I clean and he gets mad and let’s the kids trash the place and doesn’t lift a finger. Then the next day you best forget all that happened and move on and he might take dishes out of the dishwasher but if I don’t say thank you then I am disrespectful or hateful or whatever the flavor of the day is.

    He is preaching and teaching right now and I couldn’t get the ump to get up and go and pretend all is great. I hate to do it anymore. I freeze up and am quiet when he is anywhere with me. I could go on with stories but you have heard it and seen it all. I’m in a bible study with a group of women and I have finally for the first time shared with a couple of them and yet now I feel guilt! I’m studying damaged emotions and trying to find answers and heal myself but not sure anymore. Instead I lay awake night after night trying not to hear yet trying to hear what he is slamming around or saying. Who is it to? Etc and then lay thinking and trying to pray and ask for guidance and these same scriptures are what go over and over and I think I am in the wrong. I am supposed to feel joy in spite of the hurt. I am supposed to overcome in the midst of trials. I’m supposed to be confident in my faith having no fear of man and yet I can’t sleep paralyzed and listening to every move he makes. Prayers and discernment and thank you for sharing.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Kimberly, you are not alone, as the wife of a ministry person, who is struggling. I was married to an abusive minister for 34 yrs. Living in a ‘c’hurch fishbowl adds to the confusion. Upon filing for divorce, I moved 25 miles away and broke contact with all but about 5 church and neighborhood friends. Divorcing a minster brings confusion to many that can’t be explained except to another abused person. But even then, how is it that a minister could be abusive. You just have to walk away and do what is right for you. Assume that you are suspect to many as being incorrect in divorcing him. Those are not your true friends anyway. I hope you are finding needed courage and strength here at ACFJ.

    • Kimberly. . . the phrase ‘I’m supposed’ (to do/be such and such, or so and so) seems like a refrain in your head. I suggest to you that you cast it down whenever it bobs up. The ‘shoulds’ are bad news, for us victims of abuse. The ‘shoulds’ have ground us into the mire. We try not to should on others (or ourselves) on this blog. You’ll probably have noticed that.

      I suggest you let yourself off the hook of all those shoulds from Satan, and the shoulds from the pointy fingers of whover drilled the edicts into you.

      But more that this, I want to honour you for being DISCONTENT with being abused. That shows you are right, you are not crazy. It is healthy and right to be discontent with being abused. It is healthy to be afraid of a malicious person. You are not wrong to fear, that fear is an ongoing signal to you that your husband is a dangerous man and your spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing is very jeopardized and endangered by being with him. I’m not blaming you for being with him, or for staying, I’m just trying to encourage you to see that your emotions of fear and anxiety are more than reasonable, they are healthy responses to being abused!

      I also want to say that the guilts you are feeling are false guilts. They are the result and consequence of your husband having falsely blamed and accused you, and of the church telling you all the twisted interpretations of Scripture which this post highlighted.

      And I want to offer you a ((hug)) if you would like it.

      It’s okay to take your time. Don’t expect healing to come all at once. Baby steps are fine. Waking up and getting the courage to act, while under the kind of abuse and social situation you are in, is not an easy thing.

      • Still Reforming

        I like this so much I just have to repeat it: ” It is healthy and right to be discontent with being abused. It is healthy to be afraid of a malicious person. You are not wrong to fear, that fear is an ongoing signal to you that your husband is a dangerous man and your spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing is very jeopardized and endangered by being with him…. your emotions of fear and anxiety are more than reasonable, they are healthy responses to being abused!”

        I needed to hear that too because I fault myself for my fear – as if I’m not trusting God enough. Then it’s back into that spiral downward, listening to the accuser of the brethren: “I’m not… this. and I’m not…. that.” Well, maybe I’m not. But Christ in me is. And He’s enough – even when I don’t have the words to pray. He’s enough – and He’s faithful. And anyone who loves Christ won’t be kicking His children around verbally or otherwise. And if they do, they don’t love the Lord. They’re His enemies so they attack us.

    • Dear Kimberly, it is not your fault, you are not to blame, and you can’t fix your husband. He is choosing to entrench himself in abusive evil ways, and he intentionally has crushed and gutted you. You are amazing to have survived!

      I encourage you to not put expectations on yourself that you ought to be able to heal while you are still under his abuse and still being subject to its toxic, wearing, wearying, morbid effects. How can one heal wounds when the wounds keep getting re-stabbed and when the exposed tissues under the skin get toxic putrid stuff poured into them on a regular but randomly unpredictable basis? No doctor, no nurse, would expect healing to take place under those conditions. So please don’t put that expectation on yourself ! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (((((((((hugs))))))))))

      Your feelings of distress and anguish and lack of peace are HEALTHY responses to the fact that you are living in a war zone and you are not the attacker!

      love from Barb

      • Seeing Clearly

        Your description is so accurate. It is hard to realize the severity when we are the wounded on. Thanks, Dr Barbara.

    • Anne

      Reading your comment Kimberly and yours, above it Still Reforming, that’s the way I feel too. I have pulled away from church and no longer attend because seeing my abuser be super ultra Mr. Christian and then continue to treat me badly, something in me shys away from church. I’d like to be a part again of a fellowship, but I’m afraid and I don’t trust anymore. I have devotionals that I read, not daily, but frequently and that’s about all I can get myself to commit to. I still pray and talk to God all the time, but feel guilty that I’m not studying the bible more deeply, reading chapters every day. I get all of my bible “study” from this website.

      I’ve disconnected emotionally from my husband, even feel guilty about that, but I recognize it is a defense mechanism I needed to keep going. He’s being quite nice now, for the last month or so, since his last emotional mistreatment of me, but I’m still hypervigilent, waiting, listening, startling with his every move and word. I don’t cater to his wants like I used to and I know he doesn’t like it, but because of my past outbursts in the last two years, he’s humoring me, hoping I think, that I will settle down to “normal” again.

      I found this post because I searched “answered prayer”. I pray a lot, but somehow still feel I’m not a good Christian because I’m not involved with a local church, not deeply studying the bible when I need to make decisions that require God’s wisdom for my life. Probably too because he doesn’t think I’m a good Christian (I know, never let your abuser define you, he’s the worst judge of who you are! as per Lundy!) But it’s hard. I’m not living up to what I think I should be either, but trying to is too scary and stressful.

      I prayed a prayer only a couple of days ago, asking for help and deliverance from my situation in a certain way as that would be the easiest for me and give me a strong safety net if I leave my abuser. Yesterday I was given a bombshell. I can possibly work full time at a higher salary, if I say yes to this, it puts me in a better place financially. But it’s not what I want to do, too stressful long term, but the other bombshell I found out also yesterday was that a relative would need a helper/housemate in the next year as their spouse goes in a nursing home, but this relative doesn’t want to live alone. At that point, I’d have to quit my job and move away.

      If this works out, it’s like God heard exactly what I hoped for and provided for it … just BOOM, like that.

      And now I’m afraid to trust that it’s my answer to prayer because I’m not a “good” Christian, maybe it’s the devil tricking me to do the wrong thing and end up in hell for eternity!

      Anyone else have trouble trusting a seemingly answered prayer when it hits you right between the eyes, because maybe you feel you don’t deserve deliverance, or can’t trust your judgment, that this is indeed your answered prayer?

  3. Thanks for sharing that….it sounds just like the church I left and of the messages I got from religion

  4. healingInHim

    My spouse didn’t have to remind me of Scriptures to keep me “in line” … the ‘c’hurch, online ministries and others drilled those Scriptures into my heart so that I was convinced that I could ‘endure all things because of Christ living in me’ …
    All the Scriptures referenced in this article are the ones I rehearsed for years. No wonder I struggled for months when I first discovered ACFJ … I was reading so much that was contrary to what I had been led to believe Scripture said. My testimony — my spouse, adult children and extended family put ‘all of the blame’ on me for the way our lives have been affected. For some strange reason, the spouse and family are seen as victims because of “my religion” – like I forced them into this lifestyle of abuse?? Now I have ‘the family’ not offering to help but stating, “oh yeah, you should have left years ago…” Much verbal talk but no decisive action to show that they really stand by their words. None have offered to help me move out at this point in time?
    Thank you ACFJ and to the guest writer for sharing this testimony so eloquently.

    • No wonder I struggled for months when I first discovered ACFJ … I was reading so much that was contrary to what I had been led to believe Scripture said.

      We have recently had email contact from an elder in a church who is telling us this same thing. He is struggling with his sense that what we are saying and teaching runs a bulldozer over so much of what he has believed.

      The bulldozer metaphor is not a bad one. False ideas and critically unbalanced interpretations of Scripture are wrecking the lives of many many women and children (and true Christian men too, though not so many of them have their lives devastated by the false teachings.) False ideas need to be bulldozed. Paul said it, not me:

      Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ 2 Cor. 10:5

      Here is my post on that verse, for readers who haven’t seen it yet: Dealing With A Spiritual Stronghold.en

      • healingInHim

        Barb – Thank you for the link to Dealing With A Spiritual Stronghold. Very true and the comments add more fuel to the fire.
        bright sunshinin’ day at 4:23 pm mentioned abusers being tolerated because they “tithe well” … Oh my, that is why no one touched my predicament while ‘attending the local church’ … we tithed and had the perfect home school family!!

    • Ann

      After me telling my sibling about the abuse and saying I need to get out, the response was, “well, you’ll just have to figure it out.”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Ann – that one is so typical. It is the “I’m not going to take sides because to do so would be too costly to me” which ALWAYS is actually a decision to side with the wicked.

  5. Seeing Clearly

    Through my decades of struggles, living in the thickest parts of the ‘c’hurch, no one ever had the insight to tell me that scripture was bondage to me. And quite honestly, I probably would have walked away in confusion, not allowing myself to consider her words. Finally, a wise, precious, elderly family member told me I needed to divorce and walked with me through the process. Even so, I was scared to go through the divorce process and seriously believed it would be better to die than to announce a divorce. OT Psalms and Isaiah were the scriptures that were relevant, but not much else of the Bible. God was my refuge, however God seemed quite unattentive. Scripture did not seem relevant. You are right, it was bondage to me. The night before I planned to tell my husband that I was filing for divorce, I tried to die by overdose of meds. There was not a place in my Bilble upbringing for life going through a divorce or going back into the church as a divorced woman.

    I survived, it was in the hospital with my elderly family member and my sister by my bedside, that I announced to my now-ex that he was being served divorce papers. He postured himself just a little closer to me and asked, “Isn’t there anything else you can try (besides divorce?)

    Thank you for speaking your truth that scripture is bondage to the abused.

    • Carol, I am so glad that suicide attempt of yours did not take your life! You are a valued member of our little family now. If you had died, we would be missing a valuable part of the body. (hugs)

      • Seeing Clearly

        Barbara, ACFJ is a treasure that I hold dearly as a gift from God. I enjoy gathering around the family table with all of you, sharing, laughing, crying, all becoming wiser and stronger. We are a very wealthy family, and richer as we continue to add chairs around the table.

  6. StillBlessed

    I lived by most of those same Scriptures, read all the books on being a good submissive wife, tried to fix me and him both. The verse I picked as my ‘marriage’ verse when I was first married was “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, and she shall do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” I LIVED BY THAT VERSE!

    Even going for counseling was not really a consideration for me, because it was really looked at as wrong by our church, so of course I thought it would be ‘doing him evil’ to talk to anyone about our problems. And “the law of kindness is in her mouth” was another one of ‘my’ verses. Of course there were just enough ‘good’ times to keep me hoping that THIS time it was for real, and things were really changing.

    After 25 years, things finally got to the place where I shut down emotioally. Then God stepped in and brought the help I needed to bring me back to life. I had to make the choice though, to do what I knew He was telling me to do. We finally started counseling and marriage discipleship. Our relationship is still teetering, and I’m not convinced it will survive. BUT I WILL! I am walking in Truth, understanding there is a balance to the Scriptures (“Speaking the truth in love” was one of the verses that brought me freedom. Also realizing that if a wife is deathly ill, no one expects her to be sexually available to her husband. In the same way, our marriage was deathly ill, so I felt I had freedom to begin saying ‘no’ rather than giving in and then feeling like a prostitute. Also understanding that he broke our marriage covenant, and that sin separates relationships.)

    I know who I am in Jesus Christ, and He is my Life. I have joy and peace, even in the midst of the pain and conflict. That doesn’t mean I’m always calm and serene, however. I still get pulled into fights and respond badly out of my pain. I still often wish my husband was out of my life. I really don’t have any ‘romantic’ love for him any more, and that’s really sad to me. But I don’t feel like I’ve been given the okay to divorce him, so I’m still here waiting to see if his ‘changes’ are for real this time. In the meantime, I’m learning a lot about abuse, including spiritual abuse of churches that keep women in bondage to Scriptures, and waiting to see what God wants me to do with all He’s teaching me. Thank you to all of you who post on this blog – you have taught me so much!

    • Hi StillBlessed, and welcome to the blog 🙂 Lovely to have you here.

      You sound strong and not fog-bound. Well done for having broken through the fog!

    • Karen

      Thank-you for sharing your story StillBlessed. May God be with you to protect and love you as His daughter.

  7. Hope

    Thank you; thank you SO much for posting this; as I read over the responses my heart grieves over again for all the wasted years of my life; trying to submit to these wrong interpretations of God’s Word; I’m crying to think of all the damage that’s been done to my precious kids; and the hurt they’ve gone through because I stayed in an abusive situation for WAY too long! Sadly; this wrong; sinful teaching is STILL going on in many, many so-called ‘christian’ churches today ~ wives (and sometimes husbands) are STILL being spiritually and emotionally abused by their spouses; family members; and church goers; they’re told that if they try and stand up against abuse; they’re ‘not spiritual enough; they’re not REAL Christians; God hates divorce; etc…etc….etc…’! So we see yet another generation of kids walking away from God; wanting nothing to do with church; or religion; or a real relationship with Jesus; all because abusers and manipulators of God’s Word want to keep living their selfish; sinful; prideful lives! Breaks my heart! God bless you for continuing to get the truth out here…………I’m praying that your messages will keep reaching out to ALL the hurting, lonely, lost souls……………….

  8. Lighting a candle

    Am I reading my journal? It feels like it! I walked through that journey to a “t.”
    The Lord opened up my eyes so slowly and gently. I DID separate at times when it was unbearable…but felt that I was in sin when I did that. During one separation I heard in the spirit
    “I have freed you from the house of bondage” and I thought of Egypt, the exodus and slavery. BUT my rational and law bound religious mind protested. “How can I leave him?” Isn’t divorce ALWAYS WRONG? I thought I was being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” However, God saw it differently. He saw it as a loving Father who said ENOUGH. You – husband – will no longer mistreat, torment, and pervert marriage, her heart, and what she is giving. God fought for me as the protective Father I never had.

    Meanwhile…my attitude was this- much fueled by unbalanced teaching” .” You will only take this marriage away from me…:”out of my cold dead hands.” I’m sure most of us can relate!

    BUT GOD….. began to speak gently ….words of love, peace, gentleness. That my tears were seen. That my hurt was seen. That my life was not meant to be another 18 years of bondage.

    I can relate to your story…every bit of it. I do still have some anger at the misguided counselors and books that were not written for abusive marriages. Honestly. BUT so thankful that God left the 99….to come find me…..and rescue me from the religious, emotional, psychological, and spiritual bondage I was in.

    HE is my righteousness. Not my endurance, long suffering, giving, waiting, hoping, and interceeding. I am righteous without all of that..inspite of it ONLY in the blood of Christ. And he desires to heal me and my heart.

    He will give us a new name. Not “wife who can never please.” Not “unloved.” But “highly favored….cherished….BELOVED.”

  9. Becca

    I, too, understand the regret of staying for so long in an abusive marriage, thinking that I was doing the Christian thing. My children have suffered dearly for it. God never asks us to sacrifice our children in order to uphold the marriage vows.

    What scares me is the patriarchy movement that is sweeping the homeschool communities by storm. How many marriages will be ruined because of it? How many children will harden their heart against God and what they are taught that Scripture says?

    • Becca, you may know this already, but Spiritual Sounding Board has a lot of stuff about the dangers of Patriarchy in the Homeschooling movement. SSB is listed in our blog roll in the sidebar to the right.

      • Pat

        Just want to point out that patriarchy (though that word is not in the Bible, what I mean by it — Biblical headship — is) is not the problem. Abuse of God-ordained leadership is the problem. God-honoring leadership by God-fearing husbands SHOULD be found in homeschool communities. Abuses of it should not.

        [Eds note: some syntax and wording changed in this comment, for clarity and to avoid triggering our readers.)

  10. Janet

    So much of this reminds me of growing up under an abusive stepfather who used things like “you have to obey your parents” against me when molesting me for years. He could get drunk and drag me out of bed on a school night at 3 a.m. to yell and spit in my face but as a good kid I was not allowed to say anything back or defend myself. And when I did start defending myself or yelling back, it only got worse. Oh and I was the whore…among other things…I can look back now over much of my life and see how scripture is used against people, people who are only trying to follow Christ, yet manipulated. I read this website so I can put words to my thoughts and try to recognize when this is happening, not to so much to myself now but to others and in the church in general. I wish my husband took a more active role in his own faith. But that is probably another website 😉 Thank you for this site. It will help so many I am sure.

    • Hi Janet, I am so sorry about what you suffered from that stepfather. He was a wicked monster. When we think about people like that, it makes us very glad that Hell exists. It was prepared for the fallen angels, but it is will be the right place for those monsters to end up in.

      oh, and welcome to the blog since this is your first comment. Glad you are reading here, and using it to help others. 🙂

  11. thepersistentwidow

    What a great post! Thanks so much to the author for this and the insightful comments!

    It is a sure sign that if a church is beating people with Scripture and keeping them in bondage, they are presenting a false gospel of works righteousness. It is a hamster wheel of impossible works that will eventually break a person-mentally, physically, spiritually. God doesn’t do this to us but Satan delights in laying heavy burdens to lead people away from the Lord and his Gospel of peace. I am convinced that these are two different religions altogether.

    I believe that God uses these bad situations to prompt us to reconsider if we even belong in such a ‘c’hurch. He certainly used this revelation to bless me, but it took several years and traveling a long, hard road away from the church that mistreated me to realize this. But he was with me, blessing and comforting all of the way, and now I know he meant it all for my good.

    I love ACFJ because it is like a roadmap out of the fog for those on the journey.

    • a roadmap out of the fog for those on the journey.

      Ha ha. So Julie Anne Smith blows her bull horn at Spiritual Sounding Board. And we blow foghorns at ACFJ.
      ANd we give out fog horns for free, so that all our readers can blow them too! 🙂

      • Barb – you need to go to your Word Press settings and add the “like” button feature. I was looking all over for it 🙂 Like, like like!!

      • Maybe TWBTC can do that magic for us? I’m busy today.

      • The magic has been done. There is now a “like” button for comments. Many thanks to Julie Anne for bringing it to our attention.

      • Thanks TWBTC!

  12. Yes, may God heal women and children’s hearts by giving them truth and love found in His Word and found in His true followers who are willing to do as the Good Samaritan and bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted.

    What is behind this epidemic of the church mishandling and misinterpreting scripture which devalues human life and pressures victims to remain in abusive marriages though the covenant has been repeatedly broken, all the while upholding abusers? Many reasons, but as a good friend noted, “Follow the money.” Abusers often tithe well.

    • Oh my, Bright, you have just thrown another iron in the fire. I had not even thought of that, yet. But, it makes perfect sense, the money trail! You wouldn’t want to do anything to upset the “super Christian tither” now, would you? And my abuser spouse is super at it, wow! That just exposes another layer of why I was or seemed to be to people at church the disobedient, heathen wife – how could I not just fall all over my perfect tithing man of god? Thank you, it fills in another blank!

      I did attend the Love & Respect class at our church prompted by my N husband. I think he probably regretted it, though. The entire way through the class, I truly spoke my heart about most of the curriculum, which was usually contrary to what was being taught. I had necks whipping around to see who was talking, mostly men, and it was quite interesting; and entertaining for me, anyway. At the end of the class there was an exercise in which we had to tell how our husband had shown us love during the past week. When it was my turn I said, “I don’t need him to show me love, I love myself, and I know how much God loves me, I want and need respect from him.” I could feel my husband wanting to crawl under his chair. The teacher didn’t know how to respond to me, I think he laughed and just went on to the next couple. But, nearer the end of the class, another woman behind us spoke up and said the same thing; she wanted respect. I felt proud that she had had the courage to say it also, knowing what kind of response from others she was going to get from watching me speak that truth, as well. As we help each other, we all have purpose. I do understand why ACFJ does not endorse that program.

      Thank you so much for your testimony so we may benefit.

      This may help some; abusers generally come from other abusers, sometimes generations of them; the buck stops here – with ME – NOW, no more abusers in future generations of my family! Be a cycle breaker! In Jesus ‘ mighty name and by the power that lives in me which is the Holy Spirit!

      • Moving Forward

        Regarding tithing, it is the other way around here. He doesn’t tithe, and I do, even though it hurts. God is faithful, and he went through so much for me. Tithing may make my budget even harder to cope with, but He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and I do it joyfully. Money is huge for him, and he keeps every penny he can, much of it to waste. His favourite way to sign a letter/email when he is mad is “Your Paycheque”. No understanding whatsoever of what it takes to run a household. It takes a bit of self-control not to sign mine “Your Mattress”, but I do not want to stoop to his level.

        Years ago I bought the Love and Respect book, and tried the principles, but it just didn’t seem to do any good. He might have liked the extra attention, but it certainly didn’t help him to notice me or the children any more, much less love us. Now that I know about narcissists, I understand why. A couple of years ago he bought the book and wanted to study it together. By that point I was feeling completely beaten down by his use of scripture as a baseball bat, and found it quite hard to participate. And when he found out I had read it years ago, did I ever get it about why wasn’t I following the principles and put downs about how it sure didn’t do me any good, etc. Respect just means complete subservience and believing he can do no wrong. Most recently I was verbally pounded about not building up my house like the wise Proverbs woman. Kind of hard to do when he keeps tearing it down as fast as I can build. Thankfully, God often has a Word for me from Him, and that is what I note and remember. But it took a while to get to this point.

      • selah

        When a counselor told my husband and I that he wanted us to go through the book Love and Respect by Eggerich, we bought two copies and reviewed a chapter a week, but we reached a point in the book where I could not stomach the premise or author’s opinions any longer. I could not get a handle on why I was having such a difficult time with the author’s points. Until I found an article online that explained that in spite of scripture being used in the book L&R, the central themes of the book do not come from God’s word but from feel-good fads of love and marriage authors. I actually found a chance to show this to the counselor with my h. sitting in a session next to me. Both of them seemed shocked that I would try to explain that I needed respect and love. Oh, and that I found a resource to support my side of the coin: Love & Respect: Biblical or Deceptive? That maybe a woman actually has a need that a book does not convey. Suprise. Well, we quit the book. And stopped counseling with that one.

        (Eds. addition: And here is another review of Eggerichs’ Love and Respect.)

  13. Here is a hymn by Martin Luther to go with this post. Persistent Widow introduced me to it a while ago, but I’ve only known the first four verses until just now.
    I found all six verses here
    I have also worked out that it can be sung to the tune of Hymn no. 39 in the Trinity Hymnal, by reusing the first few bars of the tune for the final line of each verse.

    Oh Lord Look Down From Heaven

    Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. Psalm 112:1

    O Lord, look down from Heaven, behold
    And let Thy pity waken:
    How few are we within Thy fold,
    Thy saints by men forsaken!
    True faith seems quenched on every hand,
    Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
    Dark times have us o’ertaken.

    With fraud which they themselves invent
    Thy truth they have confounded;
    Their hearts are not with one consent
    On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
    While they parade with outward show,
    They lead the people to and fro,
    In error’s maze astounded.

    May God root out all heresy
    And of false teachers rid us
    Who proudly say: “Now, where is he
    That shall our speech forbid us?
    By right or might we shall prevail;
    What we determine cannot fail;
    We own no lord and master.”

    Therefore saith God, I must arise,
    The poor My help are needing;
    To Me ascend My people’s cries,
    And I have heard their pleading.
    For them My saving Word shall fight
    And fearlessly and sharply smite,
    The poor with might defending.

    As silver tried by fire is pure
    From all adulteration,
    So through God’s Word shall men endure
    Each trial and temptation.
    Its light beams brighter through the cross,
    And, purified from human dross,
    It shines through every nation.

    Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
    This evil generation;
    And from the error of their way
    Keep Thine own congregation.
    The wicked everywhere abound
    And would Thy little flock confound;
    But Thou art our salvation.

    Note: Normally we don’t reproduce song lyrics for copyright reasons, but the lyrics are very old, being written by Luther, and it’s a composite translation with no copyright notice attached.

  14. I’ve just added the tag pastors’ wives to this post, because the thread has many good comments from wives of abusers who are in ministry. The tag will help other pastors’ wives find those good comments.

  15. KayE

    For myself, I don’t find Scripture to be bondage, it has set me free and continues to do that. Maybe I was just lucky enough to grow up with sound teaching that has always stayed with me, even in dark places. What I’ve found does create bondage are the many ways that scripture is misinterpreted and twisted, especially by people who are self righteous.When I used to listen to those people I was confused and trapped. So I stopped listening to them- and consequently was shunned and judged by many many Christians.That isolation has been part of the cost of getting free, and it’s tough.
    Sometimes I think the hardest thing for Christian abuse victims is not so much surviving the abuse as managing to retain their faith. That’s where ACFJ is such a lifeline.
    Abusers and their allies don’t own scripture. The ex complained that I used the bible against him so I told him “The bible IS against you”. What else could I say?

    • Abusers and their allies don’t own scripture. The ex complained that I used the bible against him so I told him “The bible IS against you”.

      Well said, KayE!

      And how helpful to remind us that the abusers and their allies don’t own scripture. No they don’t. Scripture is God’s word, not the enemy’s word.

    • Moving Forward

      Amen! I can echo your words. God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. II Sam 22:33

    • bbb

      Wow! I just found your website from a link to this post and I’m blown away. My heart breaks reading the comments from women still being abused. But I read KayE’s post and my heart leapt. I agree, sometimes the hardest thing for abused Christians is holding on to their faith. For me, the first three of years after my ex left I clung to God and he was my sustenance. I have no doubt about his love for me or his goodness in it all. But in the last few years, as I had to change jobs, address my own sins in my marriage, and deal with my children’s hurts and fears and anger, at me as well as their dad, I’ve had a harder time maintaining my relationship with Abba. God made it easy for me in those early days to find time with him in the mornings to worship and cry out to him and hear him. Since I lost that easy time, I’ve struggled to get back to that relationship where I could simply rest in peace with him, knowing that when I was in desperate need and had NO answers, it was ok because my Daddy did. It is a struggle, but I think I’ve found the encouragement I’ve been crying out for in ACFJ.

      (Ed. note: screen name modified)

      • Hi bbb,

        Welcome! And thank you for your comment.

        You may have noticed that I modified your screen name. If you will contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com I would like to explain why. Also, you may find our New User’s Page helpful.

      • Hi bbb, keep reading here, I think it will help you muchly, and you’ll find many others willing to support you and identify with your journey. 🙂

  16. Ben B.

    Studies show that there is just as much abuse IN the church and there is outside of it. What does that tell you? It tells me that there are an awful lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. What do you do if a wolf and sheep are together? You separate them! You protect the sheep at all costs! But the church today tells the sheep to pray for the wolf, that the wolf will change if it sees a positive example, that you should stay with the wolf because it is trying to change. But you know what, a wolf can spend all the time in the world with sheep, it can see the best example possible, but at the end of the day its still a wolf.

    Now here is where I stop being politically correct (or maybe I already was), Jesus is a Good Shepherd to the sheep (Jn 10:11), not a Shepherd to the wolves. If a wolf is going to become anything different, it will only happen by a complete and total transformation through the power of the Creator, a re-creation (2 Cor 5:17, Eze 36:26).

    However, the wolf must make this choice on their own. The church often tries to speed up this transformation or make the choice for the wolf, but really all they are doing is telling the wolf to put back on its sheep’s clothing and everything will return to the way it was before. Of all the wolves I have known, including my own narcissistic father, I haven’t seen a genuine change even once. I’ve seen lots of wolves exposed for who they really are, but the church lets them hurry up and put the sheep’s clothing back on quickly. After all, we wouldn’t want the church to look bad with all the wolves milling about with the sheep.

    When my mom finally left my father after 33 years of a very abusive relationship, there were people from her church that called me up and told me that they had wished that my mom would have waited to leave her abusive relationship. Their reasoning? They preferred she was attending a different church when she left, because her leaving my abusive father while still a member of their church made their church “look” bad. At first I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything in response, I was still trying to process what I had just heard. Then once I had processed it, I had to bite my tongue and pray that I would keep my cool. But such is the thinking in our sad sinful world today, people have forgotten the counsel found in the Bible:

    Acts 20:28-31a (ESV) “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…”

    I believe that sadly many Christian counselors are the “men speaking twisted things”. After my mom left my father, I had no desire to maintain a relationship with my abusive father. I told him just that, but said I would speak with him again if he received long term, professional counseling from a Christian perspective. So what did he do? He talks to a “Christian counselor” over the phone for a week or so, buys his books and other materials that promise you will be changed if you follow the steps listed (sounded like something out of an infomercial when I first heard about it), then had one, ONE, face to face visit. After which the counselor called me up and said that I needed to start talking to my father again and have an open relationship with him “because he was trying”. He claimed I needed to practice the golden rule and treat my father how I would want to be treated. I informed him that I WAS treating my father how I would want to be treated if I had a serious problem, by having tough love. After he spoke some twisted things about relationships and abuse, I gave him 3 things that my father would have to do before I would ever speak with him again. Plus shared several Biblical reasons for separating from an abuser, from both the old testament and new testament.

    But my heart goes out to people who are just coming out of an abusive relationship or who are still in one and encounter people who “speak twisted things”. I was prepared for these people, but most are not. I am so glad for this site and all that it does to help people, to encourage them and give them resources to be able to deal with those in the church who try and say wolves aren’t that bad. I found this website almost 2 years after being free from my abusive relationship, but it still helps me and my mom greatly. I share it with everyone I know who is struggling through an abusive relationship.

    Praying that we all will follow Acts 20:28-31a and “be alert”.

    • Ben, thank you so much for this wonderful comment. It is fantastic to hear from someone who grew up with an abusive father and who sees throught the lies so well, and supports his mother so well.

      Bless you, and I hope you keep commenting. It buoys us up when we hear from males who get it. 🙂

    • My counselor asked me this question as he described who & what my husband was – finally, after many years of counselors and getting nowhere, as they always took his side, “Where do you think is the best place for these abusers (I believe he called them crazy people!) to hide? “THE CHURCH!” Unfortunately, it has worked.

  17. Faith

    I was at church this week in a room looking for something when a young woman walk in to practice a song before church. It was a divine appointment for she said, I told myself if I would ran into you with no one else around today, I would get your advice. I know you have been through a lot and had to leave your husband. I saw tears in her eyes and she began to tremble. Her story of her marriage came tumbling out. Her husband was not only a narcissist but he has been physically abusing her. She was scared and didn’t know what to do. She was concerned about what the church would think if she left him. She wondered if she was just a better wife could that help him. You know all the things most of us have said when we went through our mess.

    I listened to her pour out her heart. I was thankful I was able to share with her this sight and I was able to give her stories and texts in the Bible were God does not expect us to stay in an abusive relationship. I shared with her if she was a perfect wife she could not change her husband. He has choices he must make for himself. He is accountable for his own actions. Tears came to my own eyes as I listen to her story. I had been there just two years before. The story was so real. I felt her pain and her agony. She cried and said, “There is no way out. He hasn’t run around on me. He screams at me saying you can’t leave me because I haven’t been with anyone else. She sobbed and said I have begged God to have him find someone else so I can leave. At the same time I love him and I know that sounds strange. I don’t want the abuse but I find myself hoping something I can do will change things.”

    I shared with her about codependency. I had been there. It’s something Satan uses to keep you in bondage so you will continue living on life’s emotional roller coaster. It will rob your health and make you feel worthless or crazy. She said I feel like I can’t leave because he’s being nice right now. I truly understood for I too had said the same thing, but then I reasoned with the thought, and came to the conclusion if I stay I may end up severely hurt.

    As we ended our talk I assured her God didn’t want her to stay where there was danger. I shared with her how I left my dysfunctional marriage. She then threw up her hands and through her tears said “I feel so relieved. It’s like a weight has been lifted. I am so glad we talked.” I took her hands and prayed for God to give her the strength she needed to take the steps necessary to get out of her abusive house and help her to know in her heart that He wants her to be happy, safe, and free of all these hurts. He wants her to have a home where she can have children that can be raised in a safe environment. I encouraged her to call anytime with questions or just needed to talk.

    When I logged in and read the article this author wrote my mind thought about this young lady. I had felt guilty if I had thoughts about leaving, or I thought if I could only be the perfect wife or have more faith and pray more earnestly my husband would totally be different man. If I would just learn not to say anything back maybe he wouldn’t blow.

    Those that want to, will you please pray for this young lady to be able to have the strength to leave her dangerous situation. I am really concerned for her life.

    • Good for you, Faith, and how wonderful of God to make that appointment!

      If you haven’t already done so, you might like to check out our resouces page for Supporters of Victims of Domestic Violence.

      I shall pray for that lady.
      Encourage her to read the Safety Planning page of our Resources. 🙂

      • Faith

        Thank you Barbara for these tools. I am helping 8 women right now. It is rewarding but at times it is heart wrenching. One can only do so much to help. It is up to the woman to take action.

      • One can only do so much to help. It is up to the woman to take action.

        Yes, Faith. And part of the art of being a good support person is to understand that, so that one doesn’t burn out worrying and pouring energy into the woman when she is not yet taking action. We can suggest, we can encourage, we can inform, we can validate emotions and abuse, we can provide right teaching to undo wrong teaching, but we cannot act for the victim. However, we can help her develop the confidence to choose and act at her own pace. And mostly we do that by honouring her. 🙂

    • anotheranon

      I will pray for her to see clearly that she needs to be safe; that as a precious child of God she should be safe from any and all kinds of abuse: that God will give her strength to take action.

  18. Still Reforming

    “God does NOT treat everyone the same…”

    This is a refrain that repeats itself over and over again from Genesis to Revelation. Look at Israel and her enemies. Did God treat them the same? What about the verse “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated”? (Romans 9:13) Did God treat those two people the same?

    It would be interesting to go through Scripture and show how many different persons and people groups God treated differently. Who are the Jews if not the people God treated differently? Where are the Hittites today? Where are the Jebusites? And the Amalakites? Yes, a remnant remains of Israel.

    God keeps His people – those whom He loves enough to treat differently than those who are not His children.

  19. Linda A

    This has been one of the MOST insightful blogs I’ve ever read! As a counselor, it will be one I save and keep for reference! Thank you so much! Probably because I also see myself in a lot of it too! Again, thank you. Linda.

  20. a prodigal daughter returns

    Abuse by scripture–the use of scripture to bludgeon woman into blind compliance to those who would exploit them is a hallmark of the authoritarian charismatic movements I came out of. Power is generally obtained by climbing on the backs of women in the group and the more obedient, submissive and compliant the wife the more likely the “Lord” of the house is to advance to elder status. Sadly the more power men have, particularly using religious authority, the greater the oppression, systemic abuse and violence against women.

    How much is enough power over women? Until there is nothing left of them but a smiling slave whose personality is subsumed into a gender role that serves every male supposed need and want. Those countries that control women down to their underwear put them in burkas and still it it not enough, they take away education too, and if they don’t comply they take away their life.

    When my previous church went legalistic about women the rules in the beginning were subtle, but they got increasingly oppressive. I remember our ladies conferences didn’t veer out of Proverbs 31 it was as if the rest of the bible didn’t apply if you were female (except “submit to your husband” or any passage that could be used to insure servitude to the “lord of the house” The power, the authority as a follower of Christ didn’t exist for women. I remember thinking as a young female “I wonder why God created women when he hates them so much?” It was the natural conclusion based on the treatment I endured and observed.

    I struggle with this still as I deeply love scriptures I love them more than I love anything but I hate Proverbs 31 forced to memorize it by constant repetition. I’m choosing to go to liberal and non-Charismatic churches if I go at all, for safety reasons. Perpetrators of spiritual abuse thrive in those places where “personal revelation” has equal footing with scriptures. They also thrive in the ultra reformed as well, any place where the authority of males is exalted the authority of women as children of God is diminished.

  21. One of my more popular blog posts was about verses that pastors use to spiritually abuse or control their congregants. It only makes sense that self-proclaiming “Christian” husbands would also do the same in an abusive marriage. It’s all about control, whether it is emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Great post!

  22. KayJay

    I couldn’t figure out ow to reply to Katherine, above, so posting here: your husband sounds like a very dangerous person. Someone very close to me when were much younger committed suicide after actions and words very similar to his. I had lived in fear for some time that he would first kill me, then turn the gun on himself. It ended up being a deliberate drug overdose that killed him, but it was traumatic nonetheless. I hope you can find help, safety and healing as soon so possible!

  23. Valerie

    Wow, this post really took me back to that dark place in my life. The time in my life when I was developing a passion for Christ while simultaneously feeling as the poster describes “being in bondage to scripture”. It was a tug of war at my heart and mind. The two patterns of thinking were not compatible and I didn’t know what to do with it. My perspective changed, however, when I felt the Spirit speak to my heart, “But who do YOU say that I am?”. With that constant question in my head I began to look at scripture in a new way. I didn’t just assume that everything I had been taught was the truth of scripture because these interpretations were by men who contradicted themselves…something was amiss.

    The two incompatible schools of thought I had been indoctrinated into could be summed up as “Be good or else” and “God is cuddly”. These two heresies were obviously incompatible but it was all I knew. The depression only deepened when I thought God was okay with how my husband was treating me and the real issue was I just needed to _____(fill in the blank). So if I was having pain in my marriage due to the abuse, I was in bondage to thinking either I wasn’t doing enough good or I just wasn’t loving the way Jesus does. Actually the latter was true. I wasn’t loving the way Jesus taught. I was loving my husband the way man had taught and rubberstamped with God’s holy name on it.

    I now have a more accurate understanding of scripture to know that neither of the 2 indoctrinations were accurate. What I have found is the road is indeed narrow. But people don’t like narrow. They like lots of square footage, triple garages and 8 lane interstates. We want room to be comfy. The narrow road makes people uncomfortable so they interpret the narrow road to be taught by narrow minded people. The “love” card gets pulled as the trump card…whenever people uncomfortable they chalk the issue up to the truth teller not being loving.

    As others have mentioned in this post, the litmus test is the fruit. Since coming to my new understanding of scripture, I hear God more, I hear God better and there is more fruit in my life. I have been blessed and comforted by God in profound ways. This could not be true if I were following a false religion.

  24. Outofthefog

    I have thought for the last 2 years I must not be the Christian I thought I was since many of the referenced scriptures were hard for me. I have questioned myself daily about these things. Was it but enough that I questioned every decision, move, word, purchase, thought, meal choice, while living with my N spouse, now I question my very faith? Not wanting to read or hear certain select scriptures coupled with accusatory words of N spouse left me dazed & so confused.

    How many times was I labeled unsubmissive, anti- biblical, ungodly by my N abusive spouse? Too numerous to count.
    He used all the typical scriptures against me especially after I “kicked him to the curb” (his words) so that now I feel angry about these words in the bible. In turn that makes me question my faith. I love the Lord. He brought me out of the fire & yet some of His words do feel like bondage. It’s so helpful to know I am not alone in this feeling. I pray I get to the other side of this & know & believe that all scripture is profitable.
    At this time my N abusive spouse is in counseling. He does continue to use these scriptures against me or to condemn me. He repeatedly says how much he is improving yet in the next breath tells me how the bible says I should not be withholding , that I am not being a godly wife (we do not live together – this doesn’t seem to matter to him). It just goes on & on. During his nice cycle it’s easy for me to think there is some change but it always goes back to me not doing something right biblically. (When I tell him & set clear boundaries about intimacy & other things he threatens that he will find it somewhere else ( this from a bible thumper???).

    I/we came out of the hyper – patriarchy movement & I have since rejected their horribly oppressive teaching and view of women, daughters & headship (although he still subscribes to those beliefs).
    I am striving each day to undo the damage of these teachings & and very abusive N father with my many children. This is hard. But for the first time in decades years I feel responsible for my own destiny & am daily thankful for the peace.
    I know he wants to reconcile & I am willing to do my part if & when he shows true, courageous change. It’s been many months since he left & he just, a few weeks ago, started counseling – His style of counseling which is to woo his counselor & look charming. This leaves me little hope.
    He has much trouble admitting problems & sees the bible & scripture to be his guide which keeps him in bondage to evil interpretation. He has his nice cycles as I have said, but they are short lived & give the false promise of hope for a future. I also pray to be wise.

    My constant heart cry has been “Lord reveal truth to me & give me the discernment to know & believe it” because one thing that is ever present is the constant question “is it me who is crazy?”.
    Fortunately I have an amazing pastoral & friend support system that says “No! No it is not you!!!!”

    • OutoftheFog, I want to add my voice to those who are telling you it’s not you! You are not crazy. You are sane. You have been abused. The things you are suffering and the self-doubts you are having a very typical of trauma victims who have been oppressed for years by malignant narcissists who lie through their teeth. Your husband is a typical abuser of the Hyper-Patriarch subset of Abusers.

    • Still Reforming

      Outofthefog, your husband and mine must have been separated at birth because they sound like twins. When I read your words, ” During his nice cycle …” I was reminded of this post that may help you: “Look out for mean, followed by nice, followed by mean, followed by nice….” https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/11/28/look-out-for-mean-followed-by-nice-followed-by-mean-followed-by-nice/
      Boy when I read that did I relate! I think part of the fog is that we human beings want to believe that the person to whom we’re married (or our parents or partners) are the nice person and that the mean side is the aberration. But it’s exactly the opposite.
      One of the first books I read while sloooooowly coming out of the fog was a book titled “The Angry Smile.” It’s about passive aggression. It helped me to understand that nice facade but what truly lies behind it. The title alone speaks volumes to me. It’s giving you/me a gift with one hand while using the other to smack me upside the head.

  25. J

    Scriptures were often twisted in an attempt to keep me in bondage. Spiritual abuse was very much a part of the emotional and other abuse that I experienced.

  26. Round*Two

    I don’t know how I missed this thread, but I want you all to know I read ALL the comments, and I don’t know why I am always in disbelief?! I just cannot imagine people would be so cruel to do what has been done to each of you! My heart and prayers are with each of you!
    What I wanted to say too, about myself, was that NOT ONE person whom I had spoken to about the abuse, including my pastor, recommended me going back into the marriage! They aLL told me to get out, but I felt ‘fear’ and ‘shame’ in leaving…I think it was the ‘fear’ that was holding me back? OR, I was more concerned about stbx than myself? I can’t even explain it, all I know is I am away from him, and my life has been days of CALM! Thank the Good Lord for that!
    My heart goes out to each and everyone of you! Keeping in prayer ACFJ and its members!

  27. Innoscent

    My H’s Bible version was also the TTV i.e. “Twisted Things Version”. 😦 And some pastors and counselors quoted that version to me also. At home and at church it was God’s Bible against Satan’s Bible, in other words a Bible version war. You know like in Luke/Matthew 4 after Jesus had fasted 40 days in the wilderness. And how many times my H would refute a clear-cut text by ‘That’s your own interpretation’ and walk away. The Devil invented relativism, didn’t he? Your truth, my truth, it’s okay to agree to disagree, we all love Jesus anyway, yada yada…

    The other side of the satanic pendulum is absolute truth out of just one verse. For instance I was told it was a sin not to pray for someone (like for my abusive H) based on Samuel’s words to the people (1 Sam 12:23) –

    Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

    But my Bible also says that God commanded another prophet at least 3 times not to pray for the hardened and rebellious people, in Jeremiah 14, let alone the imprecatory prayers. I know this has been mentioned elsewhere on the blog but I’d like your input on this one. Thanks!

    • Hi Innoscent, have you read the posts under this tag ?
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/praying-for-the-abuser/

    • Innoscent

      O thanks a lot Barbara, I couldn’t remember where I had seen those discussions. I have only read one of those posts. I will peruse them attentively. I am so hungry for Truth to be kept free.

      • That’s cool.
        Anytime you want to find things on our blog, you can try looking in the TAGS tab in the top menu to see if we have a tag that might deal with your question. 🙂

      • Innoscent

        I use the Search feature mainly and now with your help I realize I have not used the Tags tab or menu before. Still finding my way around the blog. Thanks Barb 🙂

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