A Cry For Justice

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

Summary of Our Recent Interaction with a Young Pastor

Ready Reference post. In our recent interactions with a man who called himself YoungPastor, we observed a very typical mindset which probably most of us held in the past, before our eyes were opened to the nature and evil of abuse. The following comments are posted here as a stand-alone article so that they will be more visible for our readers and serve as a handy resource when answering and refuting the erroneous thinking and theology so widely held in the church when it comes to dealing with the wicked and protecting their victims. Contrary to our usual practice of having no post on Tuesday, we are publishling this today because our publishing schedule is so jam packed that we have posts scheduled for at least a full month ahead.

Please note:

1. Due to the many comments, we could not include all of them here, and the following comments are not in strict chronological order as they appeared originally. If you would like to read all the responses to a young pastor, go to the comments thread of Non-Negotiables for Effective and Biblical Abuse Ministry.

2. As our discussion progressed with YoungPastor, it became evident to me (Jeff), and probably lots of you as well, that for all his claims that he would discipline an abuser and that no woman should be under abuse at any time, in fact he would indeed permit an abuser to keep coming to his church in spite of the suffering of the victim. In fact, let’s just state a principle. If a pastor and/or church follows the philosophy of YoungPastor, that church will inevitably render injustice and further suffering to abuse victims and enable the abuser. It is the necessary outcome. In other words, if YoungPastor has been following the beliefs he states here, we would expect there to be abusers in his church and victims who have been sorely treated.

How do I know? Because his insistence that he is going “to see the man saved” and that the marriage needs “fixing” is necessarily going to take a pastor right down that abuser-enabling, victim oppressing road.

3. As Barb helped Jeff compile this post she was struck by “God bless” which YoungPastor used as his sign-off. Some people say “God bless” and mean it warmly, but we have noticed that abuse-enablers often use “God bless” as an oily sign-off after having expressed their disagreement with us and presented their decorous veil of flaky theology.

4. All comments by YoungPastor are indented.

YoungPastor:

Hello there, I am a young Pastor who is considering all these issues for future ministry. I agree with most of these points and very much appreciate what the ministry of this website is trying to accomplish. I have a question about #3, “Divorce for abuse is not only permitted by God, but blessed by Him. The institution of marriage must not be prioritized over the safety of the individuals within it.” I agree that individuals must be protected, but I disagree that God will bless divorce. I have too little girls and love my wife very much, and I have seen many cases of women who are in a bad situation and need to get out. I am a firm believer that no woman should be under any abuse at any time.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

I believe that a woman (or man) who is being abused can depart and should not be under it any longer. I also believe that the departed spouse should remain unmarried and try to be reconciled with the offending spouse. I believe that God may use Divorce for His glory, but I don’t believe that He blesses divorce because Jesus said that no one should separate what God has put together.

Mark 10:7-9 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man separate.

I also disagree with # 2 “A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed (it cannot be fixed).” I believe that to say that a marriage cannot be fixed is contrary to what the Bible says.

1 Cor. 5:18 says, And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation

I believe that we all should be trying to reconcile those who have sinned against God and I think that should count for abusers also. Jesus Christ died for sinners, do abusers have the chance to be saved by Jesus? I believe that they do. Again, this is not meant as an attack on any person and I hope that all marriages would be free from abuse. God bless. 

Jeff Crippen to YoungPastor
Well, please, please, please keep studying this subject. Read our books. Read Lundy Bancroft’s books. And PLEASE do not counsel anyone with the positions that you are taking in this comment. PLEASE. You don’t have it right yet. Your focus is still on rescuing the abuser and on preserving the marriage, and that is going to lead victims down that same old road so many of them have been put in bondage to by their pastors, bible counselors, and fellow Christians.

Remember, we are conservative Christians here. We believe in the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. But through hard, hard experience and lessons the Lord has taught us by facing abusers ourselves, we have learned what He would have us learn, and would have you learn. YoungPastor, you are simply not equipped nor yet qualified to handle a case of abuse. If you tell victims what you are saying here, you are going to add to their suffering, you are going to enable the wicked abuser, and you will not be honoring Christ. It has taken me over 30 years of pastoral ministry to sort this out. I hope you can do it sooner.

Barbara Roberts to YoungPastor –
YoungPastor said:  I believe that God can save an abuser from sin and turn him (or her) into a new creation. I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved. That is not enabling abuse, that is doing the work of the Lord as spelling [spelled?] out in the great commission, Matthew 18. To say that God can not heal and restore an abusive marriage by saving the abuser, I refute as wrong and misguided.

To YoungPastor and any others who may share his mindset: kindly let me put this to you.

The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples that when people rejected the gospel, we are to shake the dust off our feet as a testimony against them.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:1-12 ESV. See also Luke 9:5; Matt 10:14; Mark 6:11)

That is just as much a part of the Great Commission in which the Lord told us to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

Okay, I’m going to do a basic exercise in logic here. Forgive me if this sounds too pedantic.

  1. Making disciples involves teaching the disciples ALL that the Lord has commanded us.
  2. This ALL must include the commandment to shake the dust off our feet when a person or a town does not receive the gospel. The command is clear: we must shake the dust off our feet as a testimony against them, and as we leave our parting words are to convey: “Know this: the kingdom of God has come near you.”
  3. If YoungPastor and his fellows are not applying this command when carrying out their part of the Great Commission, they are either ignorant of the command or are ignoring it by choice.
  4. A domestic abuser who has been or still is married to a Christian will most certainly have heard the gospel, many times in many ways. Even if the abuser has not been attending church, the Christian spouse will have conveyed and explained the gospel to the abusive spouse. If the abuser has been a church attender, multiply the number of times he has ‘heard the gospel’ by many hundreds or thousands. Every time he has attended church he will have hear the gospel, so long as it’s been an evangelical church of some kind or other. In many churches, he will also have heard warnings about not taking communion without faith in Christ, and been warned to examine his conscience for unconfessed sin before he takes communion. Again, multiply these warnings by hundreds or thousands, depending how long he’s been hanging out in churches.

Now, Mr YoungPastor said, “I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved.” But YoungPastor needs a reality check. The abuser has already had the gospel preached to him. The abuser has rejected the gospel: that’s evident by his having continued in his pattern of abusing his wife. YoungPastor needs to not think so highly of himself as potent preacher of the gospel as if NOW he, YP, has the **highly important job** of giving the gospel to this stony hearted, stiff necked, seared-conscienced abuser, when no other attempts have ever got through.

YP neeeds stop trying to preach the gospel to the abuser, needs to shake the dust off his feet as a testimony against the abuser, and he needs to encourage the victim of the abuser to shake the dust off her feet too. THAT would be obedience to the Great Commission.

And if YP does not know this, he has not been properly discipled himself.

If anyone can refute me with Scripture, go ahead and show me where I am wrong. But use Scripture.

Joe Pote to YoungPastor –
YP seems to have also fallen prey to the all-too-prevalent church culture perspective (Divorce Mythology) that presumes all marriages to be worth trying to save and all divorce to be avoided at all cost.

Not all marriages are worth saving; and divorce, though a very difficult path, is not the horrible evil it is too often conveyed to be in popular church culture.

If a pastor believes an abuser to be truly repentant and feels led to invest more time with him, fine. He’s likely misguided and deceived by the cunning abuser, but perhaps not…perhaps he really is dealing with a truly penitent person deeply desirous of fundamental change by the power of Christ. Go for it!

But that has absolutely nothing to do with the marriage, the abused spouse, nor the abused children!

I would that all abusers would come to saving faith in Christ. I don’t expect it to happen, but it would be great if it did.

However, even if it did happen, it would still be unwise for the abused spouse and/or children to return to intimate relationship with the abuser. Unwise for them and unwise for the abuser, whether repentant or not.

Repentant alcoholics usually avoid bars, liquor stores, and other places where alcohol is likely to be served. Repentant drug abusers usually avoid relationships where drug use is likely to become a temptation. If a supposedly ‘repentant’ marriage abuser and/or his sponsor (counselor) insist on the ‘necessity’ of his returning to the very relationship which he has previously repeatedly egregiously abused, I would question both the motivation and the validity of the ‘repentance’ as this would seem to be a course of action that is not in the best interest of anyone involved.

Salvation for the abuser is not dependent on ‘fixing’ the marriage, nor does it automatically ‘fix’ the marriage, nor make the marriage worth ‘fixing.’

Jesus came to save individuals, not marriages.

YoungPastor to Joe Pote –

If we all have free will, why can’t the marriage be fixed? If the abuser has the free will to abuse, does he also have the free will to repent? What concerns me is some of the things posted here make it sound like the abuser can not be saved or turn from being an abuser. Is this what you believe? You bring up Jeremiah 3:8; which is a great point, where God gives a bill of divorce, but what about 3:22, where God says that the backsliding children should return and God will heal them. This is why I say that God may use divorce the same way He uses sorrow and pain, but does He bless them? Does He bless Hell? I agree that most abusers need to be punished and they might never repent, but to say that they can not repent, I can not agree.

1 Tim. 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Again, I ask not in anger or intention to cause disruption, but in order to seek insight from other Godly men of the Word of God and to spread truth.

Barbara Roberts  –

For myself, I found it noteworthy that YoungPastor only mentioned wanting insight from godly men, not godly men and women. I wonder if his wording is indicative of an assumption that men are superior to women?

Ellie to YoungPastor –
I’d like to submit that “Can abusers change?” is not the right question when counseling targets of abuse and trying to help them make a safety plan. The questions are “Has he changed?” and “Why has he changed?”

Divorce should be a way to protect the targets of abuse, to define specific boundaries and provision, to release the targets from any obligation to the abusers. It isn’t punitive. It is protective. The best chance of getting a settlement in the targets’ favor is when the abusers are claiming to be changed. Let them prove it in a favorable divorce settlement. Let them show that they will not use the courts to abuse.

It seems to me that YoungPastor is considering the divorce to be the thing ending the covenant, not the abuse. Once he sees that the abuse ends the marriage and the target’s seeking legal recognition of that fact, he will (as I did) have a completely different perspective.

Divorce is NOT a firing squad. It doesn’t end the abusers’ lives and forever prevent repentance. The divorce doesn’t prevent or impede change. If the abuser is truly changed, he can use the divorce settlement to show it. His behavior after the divorce will be honoring and respectful. The abusers’ changing has nothing to do with the legal status of the marriage or how the targets are responding to his declarations of change.

And I ask you to seriously ponder what I posit to be the pertinent questions: “HAS the abuser changed?”, “Why”, and “What do we do to protect his target in the meantime?”

YoungPastor to Barbara –

Thank you for replying to me. I would like this reply to count toward all those who read my post and commented. I have read all the comments and have considered all the arguments that have been brought forth. I would like to share what I have learned from all these post. While I still believe that God does not bless divorce itself, I believe that God will bless through divorce and divorce is an option for the target to get away from the abuser. I believe that the Church’s main priority in these cases is to protect the target and victims. That said, I can not agree that God can not fix a abusive marriage, by “fix” I do not mean sending the victim back to the abuser to keep up the marriage, I would never counsel, or tell anyone to do that. When I say “FIX” I mean the Church keeping the victim safe while the abuser is disciplined as we see in Matthew 18.15-17 and if the abuser will repent and shows fruit meet for repentance. Then the victim, believing it to be genuine, may then begin the process of reconciling the marriage.

“15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

If the abuser will not repent, then He should be removed from the Church and the victim should seek the Lord about the next step, Divorce, etc. I reject the statement by Jeff Crippen in His post that an abusive marriage cannot be healed. I have detailed in my first post the verse I believe says why God can reconcile people from sin and abuse into righteousness and Holiness.

1 Cor. 5:18 says, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”

I believe that God can save an abuser from sin and turn Him(or Her) into a new creation. I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved. That is not enabling abuse, that is doing the work of the Lord as spelling out in the great commission, Matthew 18. To say that God can not heal and restore an abusive marriage by saving the abuser, I refute as wrong and misguided. My intention was to dialog with other Christians and gain better understanding about the issue of abuse. I want to thank all those who responded positively and conversed abut what the scripture says on this issue. This will be final post on this forum. God bless and may all marriages be free from abuse.

StandswithaFist to YoungPastor –
I appreciate your zeal & I realize you are done posting, but I so hope you are still reading.

You wrote: “I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved.”
Please bear in mind that while God may have called you to preach, your job ends there. It is not your duty to see “him or her saved”. That is God’s job. It is not your responsibility.

With all due respect & reverence for our Lord, not even Jesus could save both thieves on the cross. Jesus spoke to only one thief–the repentant one, the one who recognized His Lordship, the one who was broken & humbled. The other thief continued to mock, taunt & abuse the God of the universe, Lord of all creation, the Savior of the world…and we have NO record in scripture that Jesus responded to him in any way.
Jesus Himself did not pursue that thief to “see him saved”.

Nor did Jesus chase after the rich young ruler, or the many who stopped following Him. He let them go. It was their decision to repent or rebel, to believe or to deceive, to follow Him or to stay on their own human throne. Jesus stopped visiting the cities who craved to see miracles lie it was a circus act but refused to follow Him.

In short, there is a God in Heaven, & I am not Him. I am not the Holy Spirit. I stopped long ago thinking I could see anybody saved. That alone usurps the throne reserved for Jesus. We are called to preach the truth, but not to save.

Only God can save. Can He save everyone? Yes, of course. But He is also a gentleman who allows the abuser to choose.
Most do not, just like the other thief. Selah~

ReachingforthePrize to YoungPastor –
I feel as if I have to say something. So often I have heard it said that abusers need to return to The Lord and repent. But these are the same people who have lured many of us in. Before even marriage, we have been caught in the same snare that the abusers circle of admirers are caught in…he is so nice, he is so polite, he REALLY knows the Bible well, he comes from a Godly family/rejects the ungodly family he comes from, he is pursuing ministry, he is so giving, he is there when I am hurting, he prays with me, we study the Bible together, etc.

When we are thoroughly ensnared, the trap is sprung. Rather than kidnapping and imprisoning us in his home, we marry. We are now trapped in marriage by the law, the church, and the paralyzingly thought that God will be disappointed if we didn’t do all we could to keep the marriage. This is when the person we married is a completely different person. He is busy, he doesn’t have time to study the Bible with us, he tells us that others don’t love us, he may hit us, he tells others that we are having a hard time with ____ and need to be left alone a while (repeatedly), he withholds money to purchase needed clothes/food/etc, he tells us we must sacrifice for the kingdom of God, he makes intentional mistakes and tells others that we caused him to screw up, etc. When we try to confront him we have let him down and “didn’t God say the wife should…” (surprisingly similar to rhe serpent in the Garden.)

We have become locked in a room and abused, some of us as horrifically as stories heard on the news.

But he is an upstanding Christian, he is a pillar in church, he is the one your parents and family go to to make sure we are ok, he is repentant, he is so sorry for what he has done, he needs to get us help and will want us to counsel with the church about our failings as a Christian to show how much he loves us, possibly even reporting us to civil authorities to get us back to him.

The problem with restoring this marriage is that the wife never knew him when he wasn’t lieing and abusing her. We have NEVER had a healthy relationship with our abuser. He is a master actor and the world is his stage. He has manipulated all authorities to intentionally enslave another human being.

Yes, God is all powerful. Yes, God can zap a person, even the most vile and make them love him. But even in Romans 1, as a person continues in sin, God gives them more and more over to their sin as they continue to chose/enjoy it more and more. And, as this abuser has chosen the path of Godliness to perpetrate their evil, I would imagine this would not make God happy and he would treat them appropriately.

Jeff Crippen to YoungPastor –
You said: “I believe that God can save an abuser from sin and turn Him(or Her) into a new creation. I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved. That is not enabling abuse, that is doing the work of the Lord as spelling out in the great commission, Matthew 18.”

Is that what God does to the wicked, unrepentant? What about all the Scriptures like this:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”

His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.

Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart,
“You will not call to account”?

But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart;
you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
(Psalms 10:1-18)

Where in your theology does this pronouncement of God’s righteous judgment upon the wicked find a place? Let’s take a very real case of an abuser. He has been evil to his wife for 25 years – all their marriage. He has struck her. He has demeaned her. He has isolated her from her family and kept her in poverty. The children, as well as the mother, are suffering the life-sapping effects of decades of physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse. And all the while this man is parading in a church as a “godly” man. People there think he is wonderful. In some cases he is a pastor. So here he is, for years and years, so hardened in his evil that he can put on this charade of holiness, teach others Scripture (or his perversions of it), then go practice his evil on his family. And he sleeps quite well at night.

Now, how are we to deal with such a man? First of all, this man is going to try his practiced trade and most likely deceive you. Yet you are saying that your goal is to be to work to bring this man to repentance and encourage the victim to work toward reconciling the marriage. This is where you are wrong. Because the fact is, God Himself does not deal with such wicked people in this manner. He deals with them according to Hebrews 6:4-6. He deals with them as Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. He pronounces His curse upon them and He delivers the oppressed from them. Can God save anyone? Well, the answer really is – no. By this I mean He does not save the unrepentant. He pronounces His condemnation upon them. He says of them (2Thes 1) that they are the ones who are storing up wrath for themselves on that Day. In other words, there are many, many people that God does not and is not going to reconcile to himself. And there must be a place in our ministry for the Law of God to be pronounced upon the wicked, unrepenting man. It is vital that we properly apply the Law and the gospel.

It is a good thing that you recognize such a person is to be put out of the church. But then what? Who is going to determine if such a wicked, person with decades of deceit and a history of playing the counterfeit Christian is repentant? If you think he is repentant, are you going to tell the victim that she needs to work toward reconciling to him? Let’s say that this wicked man here in our example had actually stabbed her, and her children, and they somehow miraculously survived. He went to prison for a short time (much shorter than he should have). He claims to have repented. The prison chaplain says he has repented. People and friends and members of his church say he has repented. You maintain he is repentant. Now, what are you as a pastor and as a church going to do with the victim? Are you going to encourage or require her to reconcile the marriage? Who decides? What if God, as I maintain, desires her to remain free of this horrid, wicked, and without doubt DECEPTIVELY “repentant” man who has once again taken everyone in? What if she has been healing in her years of freedom and she says she does not believe him and will not be reconciled to him? Well, please realize that the pastors and churches that follow your thinking on this issue almost inevitably tell her that God wants her to forgive and reconcile. Can you see that such counsel is sheer madness?

God does not heal and restore abusive marriages by saving the abuser – at minimum you will have to admit that this is not His normal means of working in these situations. For myself, I believe He virtually NEVER does. And He NEVER does when there is no genuine repentance. And we must realize that it takes YEARS to recognize genuine change and repentance. Thus the wisdom of telling a victim that the abuser is never going to change, and to base her assumptions on that premise. Further, it is wisdom to tell her that she is in no way bound to reconcile with the abuser, and she is free to remarry after divorce. It isn’t that God CAN not heal and restore an abusive marriage, rather it is that God DOES not do so BECAUSE this kind of person simply does not repent. Such a person needs the pronouncement of God’s Law upon them, not the good news of God’s promise of salvation. In fact, the pronouncement of the Law of God (which Paul opens the Epistle to the Romans with long before he gets to the gospel), is the very starting point for ministry to the wicked. And it is the ending point as long as they remain unrepentant, which, as I maintain, the vast, vast majority of these kind will. These are the kind who have trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and despised the Son of God.

An abusive marriage cannot be healed. Why? Because abusers do not repent. Praise to the Lord if there is ever a rare, rare exception. But the fact is that the abusers we define and deal with here, the kind who have played the eminent saint for years and years all the while working their evil at home, so rarely repent that it is not incorrect to say that they never do.

Standsfortruth to YoungPastor –
Not only did this young pastor seem to have no experience in understanding the dynamics of covert marital abuse, but he continued to posture himself as one who saw it his job to “hand hold” the abuser to help him “find repentance” when an abuser shows consistant unrepentance. This misapplied action on the pastors behalf is only going to give the abuser another opportunity to fool anyone who will be his audience.

Since the abuser has shown he has no concience, he is “continually acting out a play script” to sell his bill of goods, to any listening ear to achieve support for his casting role of repentant sinner once more.
Only one problem with this picture.. The abuser is working hard to convince everyone else that he has changed, but to the “offended spouse party”, he shows no true works of repentance.
True repentance would show forth works by supporting the offended spouces desire to be divorced and away from him, so she can heal with her family while he makes restitution by finantially supporting her in that decision. No- if the abuser is not willing to do at least that much, then why waste any more time with him ? He is showing the works of unrepentance, and he needs to have his feet held to the fire of Gods law, insted of wasting the churches time with his game of feigning repentance.

StillReforming to YoungPastor –
I’d like to start off by saying that I’m deeply appreciative of your comments here, and I hope that my adding to the replies does not feel like we’re piling on you. Please know that the hearts of those here have been so abused over many, many years and it is from the school of hard knocks as well as an interest in assisting a brother in the Lord to understand the complexities and real-world application of Biblical principles here for those who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of very skilled and adept deceivers and manipulators, who for the sake of brevity we’ll simply call “abusers.”

I’d encourage you to read the definition of abuse at the top right sidebar. Given those dynamics – those of skillful manipulation, deceit, cunning, and cruelty, even if never a hand is laid on his (the vast majority of abusers being male and targets female and children) target. We’ll say “target” instead of “victim” because the latter word is too oft employed politically, and we don’t have a “victim mentality” here. We’re survivors of long-term deceit and cruelty.

I’d like to ask you a question (or two) if you’re willing. Can a husband who has intimidated and lied to his wife over many years in fact be a Christian? That’s an over-simplification in one question because, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details (quite literally). But say a husband has manipulated his wife over many years – saying yes when he will later act out no, promising one thing and not doing it (intentionally), calling her names, memorizing Scripture to use against her (you’re a dripping faucet, you’re a nagging wife, you’re tearing your house down with your own hands, you’re unmerciful, you’re unloving, you’re unforgiving, you’re this and that…), discouraging her from engaging with their children when he’s with them, and on and on…. The wife tries to help the marriage by seeking Christian marriage counseling (repeatedly), but he lies in counseling – maybe even persuading the counselor what a great guy he is.

Then let’s say she seeks refuge in the church, where she’s told she needs to learn more about forgiveness. She needs to do and be more. She needs to be more Christ-like in the sense of laying herself down – but not the Christ who’s upset at the money-lenders in the temple, not the Christ who called the Pharisees “you brood of vipers,” not the Christ who warned of hell, not the Christ spoke of the judgment to come and said that not one jot or tittle of the Law would be changed, not that Christ. No. The church wants the wife to the Christ who gave His life for His church.

So I ask you: Can a husband who is a chronic long-term abuser (behind closed doors – because he manages his anger well at church) and manipulator and liar – can such a one be a Christian while he’s doing these things?

That’s the first question that needs to be addressed. After you have recognized the answer to that question, then you need to ask yourself if you’ve answered that he cannot be a Christian, what is the appropriate Biblical Godly response to such a one? And what about this person’s family? Is it right that the abuser remain in church if the family is broken apart and the wife and kids have had to leave out of fear (intimidation, control, etc.) Is the Biblically appropriate response of the church to welcome the abuser with open arms if his targets cannot comfortably be in the same place with him any longer? What is the right response of the church in such a scenario (because it happens more often than you know – that the targets have to leave their church home while their abusers remain either in the pews or even in the pulpit).

68 Comments

  1. Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

    The compilation is well-done. Thanks for putting it together in this format. It’s easy to follow the discussion this way.

    I noticed in my own comment mentioned in the post that I said this: “The church wants the wife to [be] the Christ who gave His life for His church.” It struck me when reading it that that’s exactly what the husband is supposed to be doing, according to God’s Word (Ephesians 5:25) yet I have never heard that as counsel to the abuser (not that it would help) or any mention of follow-up with the wife to see that it’s happening in the home that way. We all know it wouldn’t play out that way in the home, even if the abuser were so counseled (because he’s not a Christian), but I’m just making the point that it’s the counsel given to the true Christian (wife) yet reversing the roles – making the wife be what Scripture clearly states the husband is to be.

    Excellent summation in one post. It makes the point quite well.

    • EXACTLY! I had this same thought when I read it.

    • Seeing Clearly

      “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church………..”. Hasn’t every pastor logged in hours of sermons on that section of scripture? They appear to be experts on this subject. An elderly member in my family was trying to sort out the source of my marital mess. He saw me in tears and struggles, but also had weekly prayer times with my pastor-ex for a period of time. It was hard for him to imagine that the ‘prayer partner, pastor, my husband’ could possibly be the source of my struggles. In his wisdom, he finally asked my exN what he thought it meant to love me as Christ loved the church. My ex admitted (exposed himself) that he did not really know what that scripture meant. (I imagine he stated it in false humility as if it were a deep theological issue that no one has completely been able to grasp)

      It was the ‘ah ha’ moment for my wise family member. He had made assumptions that this pastor (pastor has an honorable place in my lineage) was an honorable man, never dreaming he was very dishonorable and the source of my misery. In time, with wisdom, he agreed that I needed to file for divorce. His heart was broken to have come to such a conclusion . In his wisdom, he walked beside through the divorce, never questioning me, always respecting me and believing the best of me.

      • Still Reforming

        Carol,

        The actions of your wise elderly family member, though heartbroken to have to walk through it, tell me that the Spirit of the living God is in him – or he would not have walked that path with you as he did.

        When people are willing to double-check their own interpretations of Scripture based on the truth they learn – that tells me that they have the humility required to accept what Christ taught. That usually means standing up against popular views or even changing long-held views of their own (as he had – and probably many if not most of us as well).

        My thinking has changed considerably in just the past six months – and I have found myself thinking of friends who have divorced over the past few years and now understanding better what they were going through. I always supported them and never discouraged what they were doing, but privately I doubted; I used to think that God must want me to stay under the thumb of oppression, and I’d tell the Lord that if that’s what He had for me, I’d accept it, but no more.

        I thank the Lord now for this new revelation. It sets me free to walk more closely with Him in peace and greater understanding. It’s still hard, but it’s better than it was. I am reminded of the Proverb 17:1: “Better is a dry crust of bread where there is quietness than a house full of feasting with strife.”

      • Seeing Clearly

        Yes, Still Reforming,that verse is a good picture and reminder.
        A prisoner set free knows freedom much better than one who always lived in freedom.

      • Ben B.

        Carol,

        Your wise family member, reminds me of Jonathan and David in the Bible. If you remember the story, King Saul (the abuser) was out to get David (the victim), after almost being killed twice, David ran away to escape the abuse. Along comes Jonathan, a good friend to David and son to King Saul, he thought that King Saul had really “changed” and that it was safe for David to come back to the palace. Long story short, Jonathan agreed to test King Saul to see if he had really “changed” and was no longer going to be abusive. No surprise King Saul had not repented from his abusiveness and even became abusive to Jonathan (tried to kill him). Because of this though, Jonathan realized that David was not safe and needed to get away from his abuser.

        Wish more people in the church were like your wise family member and like Jonathan. People willing to test the abuser to see if the are truly repentant or if they are hiding their abusiveness behind their mask of Christianity. People who want to shield the victim and help them in any way they can, even if its just being understanding.

        -Ben

        PS: King Saul is an example of an abuser who never changed his ways, even though he claimed to have “changed” many times.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Thank you, Ben. Such a beautiful reminder of genuine friendship, Jonathan and David.
        While I have known this precious family member all of my life, I only became closely connected 10+ yrs ago; a result of illness and tragedy. I was praying for a number of yrs that God would do something to stop my pastor-Nex. God seemed silent, but now I know that people and events were developing behind the scenes. God waited until my ex exposed himself to this family member. And while church leaders were unsupportive, the medical staff recognized immediately when I was preparing for a procedure and my ex was present, that I was in an abusive situation. The nurse, when we were alone, asked me if I was in an abusive relationship? First I made light of the abuse, but she assured me that it didn’t have to be physical abuse. The thought came to me that while the church ignored and denied abuse, the medical community is proactive. For the first time, I dared to speak up and said that, yes, I was in an abusive relationship. Immediately, staff stepped in to protect me. Even the doctor came to me and assured me that he was aware of my statement. When I made a call, someone took me to safety. I felt like I was watching the movie of someone else’s life.

        God was faithful. God can accomplish His desires without the church. Surely, Jesus wept for me in intercession that day. The church leaders will answer to God.

        A little time passed before the divorce was actually set in motion. An hour after my ex was served divorce papers, his friend, a church leader called me on the phone. He insisted that I had no right to divorce because the only grounds for divorce was unfaithfulness and my ex did not qualify. That statement of his did not deter me. It simply made me more aware of who to avoid, namely, our church, many local churches.

        I hope that YP opens his heart and, as my mother would say, gets on his knees and tells God he is sorry for his sinfulness before he climbs in bed tonight.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Ben,
        I like the analogy.
        Applying YP’s words to it, YP would say that God can use the separation to reconcile Saul with David. And YP would welcome Saul back into his congregation to “love him to Jesus” while allowing David to flee into the wilderness. It would be Saul who would receive YP’s attention, not David.

      • Seeing Clearly

        That’s good, being able to translate into YP’s world.

  2. Scarlett

    Wow! Deja Vu. Back in the day, although we were separated, my abuser took his girlfriend, (the one he was committing adultery with),to the church I had introduced him to when we first met, and it was A-OK with the pastor, who wasn’t a young pastor, but an guy who’d been a pastor for most of his life.

    • Valerie

      Though the divorce is not final my stbx is taking his live-in girlfriend to our church where he was on leadership at the time this adultery started taking place….and leadership is aware. He feels comfortable enough in this “church” that he can flaunt his adultery. It is apparent to me no one has said anything to him because my stbx would flee at any hint of being held accountable- that is his nature. As I see it the whole church is mocking our Lord by looking the other way (or openly condoning…shudder). At the very least they are not considering God to be Holy. The whole thing makes it difficult for me to want to get plugged into any church because I am finding this kind of atrocity is not uncommon. The pain of seeing this being flaunted in front of me is unbearable at times.

      • Scarlett

        Valerie, I think you just pinpointed the source of the problem. By and large, it’s become more evident that the church has morphed over into apostasy. “You shall know them by their deeds”.

        Hold on dear sister and Christ will see you through this.
        Hugs,
        Scarlett

      • Valerie, that church is just like the Corinthian church which was happily allowing the incestuous man to be part of their congregation. And how did Paul denounce them?

        You are arrogant.. . . Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
        (1 Corinthians 5:2,6-7)

  3. Seeing Clearly

    Whenever a pastor prefaces a statement with the words, ‘I believe’, a red flag goes up. Being raised in the church, I’ve been desensitized and left those words to be harmless. As I was discussing those 2 words with my brother, we came to the conclusion that pastors save those words to use like a trump card. It keeps them positioned as authority. In a group setting, the pastor simply plays his trump card and people interpret that to mean God gave him his comment. It is a selfish misuse of their role in the church. Now, when the pastor starts a comment with the words,’I believe’, a red warning flashes on their forehead. Those are definitely words of manipulation. Having been married to a pastor, I was duped by those words many times.

  4. There is SO much here, but this hit me right out of the chute: “I disagree that God will bless divorce. I have too little girls and love my wife very much, and I have seen many cases of women who are in a bad situation and need to get out. I am a firm believer that no woman should be under any abuse at any time.”

    So, If God will NOT “bless divorce” He curses it, yes? You are either under His blessing OR His curse at any given time (correct me if I’m wrong. Not sure God is “neutral” on anything?) so if YP has “seen many cases of women who are in a bad situation and need to get out,” and YP is a “firm believer that no woman should be under any abuse at any time” then she will automatically, REGARDLESS OF HER INNOCENCE, be cursed by God if she “gets out” or refuses to “be under abuse at any time?” For the sin of another? That is way off base.

  5. I want to add that, according to what I see in scripture, it is the offender’s job to reconcile, not the survivor’s. The survivor’s only responsibility is to forgive – if the offender is, in fact, repentant.

    • “The survivor’s only responsibility is to forgive – if the offender is, in fact, repentant.”

      I just want to clarify that we are to forgive regardless of whether the offender is repentant. Forgiveness is for US, the offended, to unburden our hearts, so we are called to give up our right for “revenge” of any kind, because Jesus paid our fine “while we were yet sinners.” GOD doesn’t forgive sin UNLESS their is repentance because He has never sinned HImself, and of course, He doesnt reconcile with an unrepentant person, so for Him and Him alone, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation all come in the same package. Where I was so mixed up for years was thinking that forgiveness and reconciliation were the same thing for us imperfect humans, that if you forgave then you automatically “had” to reconcile. (So I DIDNT forgive because i didnt want to reconcile! Now I know I can do the one without the other).It is the reconciliation part that is reliant upon true repentance of the offender. I only say this because having unforgiveness in your heart only hurts YOU and you have been hurt quite enough by the offender. Distancing yourself from the offender is for your SAFETY, not out of vengeance, even if it may feel that way to him! So it is like a “timeline”
      1) I forgive (not hold hatred in my heart, which frees your spirit)
      2) Offender repents (a TRUE change of heart and action over time)
      3) both agree to reconcile (in some cases)
      # 1 is my responsibility
      #2 is offender’s
      #3 is negotiabe depending on the circumstances
      (In a normal, healthy relationship, 1,2, and 3 happen often and quickly and life moves on. In an abuse cycle, 1 and 3 happen, but 2 is left out, making 1 and 3 VERY destructive for the target)
      This “timeline” sort of gives me a clear reminder of if, when and what action to take. Many offenders never get to 2.
      I hope this doesnt sound “lecturey” I struggled with this for years.

      • Thanks, Debby. I agree that forgiveness is important and a great way to unburden oneself of the pain of offense even when there has been no repentance. However, I view forgiveness in a different light than you do.

        To me, unforgiveness is not about hatred or revenge. (It can be, but isn’t always.) Forgiving someone means to cancel the debt caused by their offense. It means you no longer expect that person to repay you for the loss they caused. Certainly, expecting someone to repay when they have absolutely no intention of ever doing so (as in cases of abuse) can be very hurtful internally. But I came across this verse a while back: “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” ‘If’ is a conditional word. Why would God command that we be more moral than He? (BTW, the verse about Christ dying for us while we were still sinners is not in the context of forgiving offenders.)

        At the same time, the Bible does encourage us to “overcome evil with good,” to pray for enemies and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So harboring hatred is definitely out.

        I do agree, though, that forgiveness and reconciliation are completely different; reconciliation unequivocally DOES hinge on repentance. I do encourage people to forgive whenever possible, but I do understand what a difficult process that can be (having walked through it myself) and extend grace to those who say they’re not ready to take that step yet.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks April. You may have already seen it, but in Steven Tracy’s book, Mending the Soul, if you go to chapter 10 you will find one of the clearest and most biblical presentations of forgiveness I have read. What you are saying squares with what he teaches.

      • Still Reforming

        April,

        I must agree with all you write. I don’t know where or when the church got this unBiblical notion that we must forgive all at all times to everyone when that is not what God does. Why on earth would Jesus talk about hell if God forgives all offenses? Why, there’s no need for a hell if God were to forgive as we’re told to forgive our offenders.

        I have never demanded that my husband or church leaders pay me back for the offenses nor do I care if they do. They’re in God’s hands, not mine. Do I forgive them? I dunno. I probably don’t, but it doesn’t mean that I seek retribution. I guess I still see forgiveness as the slate still having marks on it, but I don’t take it upon myself to exact revenge for them.

        Payment for their debts is something they’ll have to work out with God. As for me, I have shaken the dust off my feet, and I’m movin’ on. Does that mean I forgive them? I dunno. I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean that I harbor a grudge either. I just don’t really think about them at all. I used to feel guilty about no longer praying for my husband for his repentance. i don’t feel guilty about that anymore. I prayed for decades. I’m done with him.

        Since they are unrepentant of what they have done, I guess I don’t even think about the issue of forgiveness where they are concerned. I’m not sure if that ties in in any way with the “what you loose on earth and what you bind on earth” statements made by Christ. I’m going to have to look into that.

        I was thanking God today for the opportunity now that I’m free that I have to really dig into His Word for greater truth and understanding now that He has brought me to this place, this season, in this way. I am thankful to Him for the trial and the pain and the suffering, because had I not walked through it (and it’s still ongoing), I may not have learned (and continue to learn) all He’s teaching me. It’s a tremendous blessing.

        I am well and truly grateful and eager for all He has to teach me. I’m turning a corner in this path, and the abuser and his ilk (at the church from which we have been delivered) are back there somewhere down that path. I’m looking forward more than behind, even though I haven’t forgotten – I don’t know that I’ve forgiven either. But I don’t sweat that.

        I’m to forgive a brother if he comes and asks me for that forgiveness. So far, none of the Christians at my former church have asked for that forgiveness (I don’t think they think they need it.) and my abuser isn’t a brother, so…. I don’t see any dilemma about forgiveness in my story.

      • Thanks for the reply. I would just add one thing: repayment is not retribution, but restitution.

      • Still Reforming

        April,

        I don’t follow. Can you clarify that a bit for me please? Thanks….. Slow as molasses here.

      • In your earlier response, you said: “I have never demanded that my husband or church leaders pay me back for the offenses nor do I care if they do. They’re in God’s hands, not mine. Do I forgive them? I dunno. I probably don’t, but it doesn’t mean that I seek retribution.”

        Asking someone to repair the damage they have caused is not retribution, but a request for restitution. Retribution is about revenge; restitution is about justice. Unfortunately, too many abusers and their allies try to substitute one word for the other: “You mean, I should apologize AND pay you child support?! Retribution!”

      • Still Reforming

        April,

        Yes, I do know the difference between restitution and retribution. Thank you for clarifying your comment.

        I wasn’t saying that by my not asking for restitution that therefore I wasn’t seeking retribution. My point had more to do with responding to how someone had talked about forgiveness being cancelling a debt. I was merely saying that I don’t see any debt owed me from my pastor, church leadership, or my husband. There may in point of fact be a debt owed me from these men, but I honestly don’t think that much about them anymore to recognize the debt.

        Hmmmm… lemme see if I can explain this better. They may still owe me a debt for their actions and words against me and for my abusive husband, but really all of these men have sinned against God, not me. It’s not my Law they broke, but His. (“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” – Psalm 51:4 – and this written by King David over committing adultery and murdering Bathsheba’s husband by proxy).

        So my offenders owe restitution to God, not me. Likewise, God will seek the retribution against them, not I. Soooo… is that better expressed than my original paragraph?

        This is why I stated that I probably don’t forgive these men for what they’ve done, but I’m not seeking retribution either. I just don’t think that much about them anymore to ponder either retribution or restitution. My energies are better spent focused on my and my child, where there’s a lot more fun and a lot less aggravation.

      • Understood.

      • Hi Debby, like Jeff, I recommend the chapter in Mending the Soul on forgiveness.
        I’d also like to mention that in my view the point (1) can be a bit amplified.
        Holding hatred in my heart is wrong if in that hatred there nestles a desire for vengeance. Vengeance is for God to effect, not for me to effect. And if I nurse a spirit of vengeance, it will indeed taint and sicken my soul.
        But as Christians, it is not wrong to hate wickedness in the way the God hates it — Psalm 7:1

        God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (ESV)
        God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (King James 2000)

        It does not taint our souls to feel indignation and outrage about injustice and wickedness, so long as we temper those emotions and wisely channel them into effective strategic action to waken the slumbering, to right injustice, and to call the wicked to account. That is a big part of our motivation at this blog; and we are disappointed when people only ‘tut tut’ about domestic abuse but do not show outrage about it.

        We don’t feel that pastors, counselors and Christian leaders are really our allies in the Cry For Justice until they get really ticked off about the outrages being done by abusers and their allies — and then start to show that their are ticked off (outraged) in their public statements.

      • Still Reforming

        Barbara,

        Your comment brings to mind: “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverb 8:13)

        I would venture to say that tolerating abusers and not doing due diligence when situations become known to pastors and church leaders is the same as not hating evil. It is not an appropriate fear of the Lord.

        Which brings to mind another proverb: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” (Proverb 3:27)

        These pastors and church leaders have a lot of explaining to do.if they don’t repent. It makes me wonder if they really believe after all.

  6. Scarlett

    Let’s not leave the innocent children out of this scenario either, and the way abuse in the home is affecting them, and will affect them perhaps for years to come. If the wife has to leave to protect the children, (as well as herself), I can’t believe the Lord is going to curse her for it. Women and children are the weaker vessels physically, and in the children’s case, emotionally and totally incapable of either protecting themselves or even understanding what’s going on. They are like little sponges that are absorbing the events with their emotions. Have pastors considered this? Or the wives and abusers for that matter?

  7. Barnabasintraining

    What we see here is a man who has not yet realized that saving the abuser is not a means to the end of saving the marriage. YP’s real goal still is to save the marriage. Until he departs from that, he will not be able to see clearly.

    As long as the salvation of the abuser has anything whatsoever to do with the victim in any way shape or form the “mission” is compromised. You cannot seek to save both the abuser AND the marriage. It is my assumption that if the abuser were to be presented with the real demands of righteousness the situation necessitates — at the top of the list would be that the wife is not now nor ever coming back irrespective of whether he gets saved — he would suddenly and completely loose interest. God is just another tool for him to use to get his wife back under his thumb. I saw this happen. The abuser in our case was given an invitation to be discipled (yes, I know that is for believers but that’s how I recall it being presented to him) and taught the things of God. The idea was if he learned Bible and how to apply it, he would encounter conviction somewhere along the way and all would be well. More or less. Anyway, all they accomplished was the abuser learned how to use yet another tool to abuse his victim. And so he did. To his already way too well rounded abuser repertoire he can now add spiritual abuse. All of this because the thing they were really after was saving the marriage.

    And I agree with Barbara. There is no reason to “throw good money after bad” regarding evangelizing the abuser. The idea of persisting in trying to reach the abuser is bad stewardship, and in fact a form of insanity in doing the same thing over and over….

    • Still Reforming

      Barnabasintraining,

      You wrote: ” The idea of persisting in trying to reach the abuser is bad stewardship…”

      Indeed. It makes me wonder what YP and those of his ilk do with Matthew 10:13-14: “”If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”

      Does house not mean house? Does” go out of that house” not mean what it says? Howzabout shake the dust off your feet? How do they not apply this to the abuser and his household? Or to the targets of that abuse?

      Similar statements (if not the same account) are given in Mark 6:11 and Luke 10:11.

      Perhaps if it were YP’s daughters he’d think differently. As it is, I think many pastors prefer to keep this issue academic and not get their hands dirty by coming alongside the victims, like the good Samaritan did. They prefer to think they’re going to love the abusers to Jesus and conveniently forget about the targets. Because that might come with a cost, whereas loving their abusers to Jesus looks better to the congregation to whom they’re playing.

  8. LH

    When reading my morning devotions today, I thot of your ministry as well as my ex-church when reading from Jeremiah: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying’ ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” Jer. 6:14

    My ex-church, still my ex’s church, claimed that his (crocodile) tears and saying “sorry” (and ignoring the caveats that went with the ‘sorry’) meant he was truly repentant and that I needed to reconcile and take myself and my kids back into that abuse. I am so thankful I finally got out before my ex destroyed our second daughter the way he did the first. I am still dealing with broken health because of 27 years of abuse from this supposedly godly man who put on a total false Christian front while we were dating and still does in public to this day. My ex-church did both of us wrong when they did not give him the law, and did not give me the gospel, but rather reversed it. Your ministry continues to be a place of healing for me. Thank you so much, and I pray that all churches who claim God’s name will finally get it that evil really does exist in the church – just as Jesus warned us that it does.

  9. I believe that it is my duty to try to preach to the abuser and see Him or Her saved.

    I was going to say that YP is not capable of “seeing the abuser saved” because he’s not God, but Standswithafist got there first.

    This was very timely and very similar to that SSB thread I mentioned in my recent email to you, JeffC. The exact same issues were brought up – Barb is not following Matthew 18, abuse is not the unpardonable sin, etc. I tried to explain to the person in that thread that you were talking about hardened, chronic, likely personality-disordered abusers, not just heated arguments, but he still stuck to this line. As others pointed out, an abuser of that sort would have had multiple opportunities to repent over the years and years he’s been mistreating his wife and going to church. Matthew 18 is, at best, a formality at that point.

    • The pseudo-christian abuser’s classic cry, when confronted by a godly Christian, is “You are not following Matthew 18 properly!”

      Well I’m happy to state quite openly and unashamedly that I am not following Matthew 18 with abusers. I’m following 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 — the passage that abusers and their allies have ignored and downplayed for centuries.

      For those new to my work, I explain why I believe 1 Cor 5:11-13 is the correct passage for disciplining abusers in this post:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/04/church-discipline-and-church-permission-for-divorce-how-my-mind-has-changed/

    • survivorthrivor2

      The beginning of the end of our marriage (and the beginning of our separation still in progress) was predicated upon an attempt to go to the church where my N was still going and implementing Matthew 18. I had gone there previously, but it was just too much for me to go anymore, see him lead worship, occasionally speak (teach), and watch the “act” in front of others, once again. I went that particular night, by the unction of the Holy Spirit, I was not afraid. I had done all I could do over the years, to no avail. What did I have to lose? Well, I was about to find out.

      I showed up at the same time he did, he seemed shocked to see me walking up to the door, (this was a home church) he looked at me strangely and asked what I was doing there? Excuse me? Is that how you greet your wife walking up to go into church? I said what do you mean, I’m going to church! I started towards the door, he was acting weird, and didn’t even walk in with me, when I turned around to look, he was not there. Because I hadn’t been in awhile, people acted like they were glad to see me. I took that with a grain of salt. I engaged in some awkward, nervous chat, then I finally saw him come in, sit down and start going over the song list with another worship person. When he was finished, he came and talked to me, introduced me to a few people and then went into the kitchen to mill around and get a refreshment.

      I saw the Pastor’s wife in the stairwell and I made my way to her. All of a sudden I was asking her if I could talk to her and her husband alone. She said sure and found him and we went into his office. He sat down and she stood (God showed me why that was significant), I was standing, too. I said, well, we are going to have a Matthew 18 moment tonight at church. The Pastor looked shocked and said, no, no we’re not, not tonight. There was a going away party for a worship person that night in addition to church, so what?, I thought. Is my life, well being & safety not more important than a party?

      He then asked me why; I said because of the things I came to both of you about over a year ago and told you how my h had been treating me and still is, and he is in a leadership role in church. Then his wife piped up and said to me, “why are you still in this marriage?” I was shocked, then I told her that I came to them for help over a year ago and not a thing was done about it, I never even got a phone call or a text asking me how I was doing and if I was okay and if I needed help? Again, she said, why should we help you? I couldn’t believe my ears! Aren’t you pastors? Isn’t that your job to help people who are in trouble, especially if it’s at the hands of another one of your flock in leadership?

      It was getting more bizarre by the moment. I also was talking about something my h had told me that the pastor said about us possibly getting counseling, that the Pastor said he didn’t say to my h at all. I said, so you are telling me that my h lied about it? He didn’t know what to say and his wife leaned in close to him and said, well we need to give (my h) him the benefit of the doubt. Excuse me? Didn’t you just hear what your husband said, he said he didn’t tell my h that, and you want to sit there and call me the liar instead? In the face of the actual truth!?

      The pastor spoke up and said that it was “really weird” of me to want to do this tonight of all nights and then I just lost it. I said, I’M WEIRD? I’M WEIRD? Are you kidding me? Then I just said, okay, okay and just stormed out. I knew I was getting nowhere. I saw my h when I was leaving and he came out to the car with me and I said to him to GET OUT! Don’t come home, just don’t! He had protected EVERYONE but me, and I knew this was going to be no different. I was visibly very upset, but of course my N went back into church and carried on with the going away party, leading worship, as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary, at all.

      I did not know when all this happened who & what my h was, an abuser and a N, but it was the catalyst that lead me to the truth, which I did find out two weeks after this incident. Praise God for even the ugly truth! I believe it was my time, and I had to do all I could to expose him for who he really was (even though it was ignored), and at the same time, the pastor and his wife and that church was exposed for who & what they really were, as well.

      It is cathartic writing this down and somewhat re living it, it shows me how far I have come in the knowledge of God’s power, protection, loving kindness and that above all HE HAS ME, and always has! To God be the glory!

      Btw, I absolutely loved this post and gleaned so much from it – brilliant!

      • survivorthrivor2
        well done! Your testimony here is not only cathartic, it gives glory to God for how He worked all this together for your good.

      • Seeing Clearly

        You are a very courageous lady, survivorthrivor2, to follow through with your intentions and talk face to face with the pastor and his wife. And you are also wise to decide that you should walk away when you did. I commend you. Every time we practice “boldness”, we affirm our worth to ourselves. It really doesn’t matter what the person on the other end thinks. Most of life is trial and error, I am finding. We must first be true to ourselves. Our abusers never, ever told us that, so we often are the first to devalue our gut feelings. I am so proud of you. Thank you for sharing with us.

        I wonder what the significance is of you and the wife both standing. Did I miss it? Or could you tell us?

      • survivorthrivor2

        Carol, thank you for those very kind words. This journey is different for all of us and I find that taking back my power and allowing God to help me become who He had already created me to be (pre abuser/Narc) is the most exciting part. I am beyond grateful everyday and it empowers me like I can’t even explain! You made a good observation in that “it doesn’t really matter what the person on the other end thinks.” So true, you cannot control what others think, only the way you think about yourself.

        I’m sorry, I did not explain the significance of the pastor’s wife standing as I said I would. It actually confirmed what I had already thought, that the wife was the head of that union, not her husband. And in that room that day, God confirmed it very clearly just by the way they postured themselves – her standing and him sitting down. How can we expect those who are not even right in the eyes of God, themselves determine our righteousness or the lack thereof?

        The significance of me standing meant that if you want to try and bully me with scripture, harsh and unkind words, or your vain (having no real value) thinking, I’m standing toe to toe, I know who I am in Christ and it won’t work, not today – not anymore. I’ve been bullied by the best (worst), my N abuser h, and I’m still here, that which was sent to kill and destroy me did NOT, because God said NO! And I’m not goin’ anywhere! Woo Hoo! To God be the glory!

      • Seeing Clearly

        Thanks. It’s a great picture of how people posture themselves unknowingly for the verbal engagement. (She stood, he sat, you went toe to toe)

        People mostly think they communicate with words and facial expression. I am learning that quite a lot is communicated by words omitted, inflection in speech, words said only with that famous frozen smile, the body language, silence. And when we part company, Or they stood me up, I realize they told me everything I need to know for future relationship. I am learning to pay attention.

        When you walked out of the church that day, a lot more was communicated to you than words. And you have already figured that out. BRAVO!

  10. Lighting a Candle

    Divorce is a way out of harm’s way. The breaking of the covenant already occurred. The offender refused to change in a measurable way that stuck. Divorce is simply a legal and spiritual way to mark his foolish choices. Most of us have fought divorce and subjected ourselves and our children to enormous harm….believing that leaving was worse than the slow death of contempt, cruelty and hatred. Thankfully, the Word says otherwise. They LEFT US when they chose to cheat, hit, hurt, revile, and refused biblical, secular and legal correction. The vast knowledge and personal experience on this site should not be ignored.

    In my own family, we had severe emotional abuse though the offenders were pastors and elders. This led to three generations of addiction, confusion, domestic abuse and every other kind of sin and confusion. The families stayed married….but the children and grandchildren suffered immense pain and destruction in every sphere of life

    I hope and am striving with God’s leading and strength to break that cycle for me and my children.

  11. Valerie

    Thank you for this. It painfully brings me back to my own days of belief in “try harder” but it is important to point out this line of thinking that enslaves. Someone said the devil doesn’t have to get us to hate our Lord, all he needs to do is get us just far enough from the truth to do the damage he seeks. That is a truth I think the church at large is ignorant of. We arrogantly think we know when we are being deceived or we are ignorant of how the devil deceives us by allowing us to have a little bit of truth and goodness while contaminating it with falsehood.

    What strikes me in reading this is the emphasis is on the abuser…why not tending to the needs of the victim? He says what he feels the abuser needs but doesn’t ask the victim what she needs. To desire someone to come to repentance is certainly biblical- it is God’s heart….but at any cost?

    I also think of what the intent of Christ’s repeated message is when speaking about the yeast. Why did He speak about watching (being diligent) for the yeast? Why did Paul command to expel the wicked from among you? Wasn’t it because God recognizes how a community is infected by the yeast…by wickedness? Why else did God repeatedly command His people not to intermarry with those who did not fear God and why did He command them to take out even the women and children in certain communities? Why did a loving God do that? Was it not because He knew how they would turn from Him and be taken in with every wind of strange teaching and give themselves over to what should not be done (as they very well did)?

    So when we here are zealous for the wicked to be expelled from the church, is that attitude congruent with scripture or opposed to it? It is not as though the abuser has not had a chance to make things right. It is not as though the target as never said a word then suddenly up and takes her belongings and children and leaves and refuses to speak to him again. In my case I spoke to my husband countless times…trying to get him interested in scripture, warning him when he was acting opposed to it (gently but firmly), telling him I was concerned for his spiritual life. His response to all these pleadings? Scoffing. Denying. Retaliation toward me. Now with a person like that it would seem that to continue to ring his doorbell in your suit and tie, bible in hand, in attempt to finally get him to see the light is a bit arrogant isn’t it? Is it really about a passion for the lost at this point or feeling good about finally winning that chess game with a master player. “Yeah, I finally got him!” What does scripture instruct us to do with such as these- does it not tell us to hand them over to Satan SO THAT they can be saved? Could it be that more abusers are not finding the road to salvation because of those who are convinced they are pursuing- but in actuality enabling by never allowing the abuser to live the consequences of his sin?

    Sorry for the long rant…been working through some issues like this lately and having a fire within me that is begging to come out!

    • standsfortruth

      This seems like a biblical case of the blind leading the blind.
      The blind pastor thinks it is his job to nurture the blind abuser within the church all the while allowing the true victims -Gods people to be scattered outside the church.
      Doesn’t God get angry with leaders who do more to scatter his people rather than protect and gather them?
      Isn’t this a bit like throwing the baby out, and saving the dirty bathwater?
      How long can these people fool themselves before a Righteous God?

    • What does scripture instruct us to do with such as these — does it not tell us to hand them over to Satan SO THAT they can be saved? Could it be that more abusers are not finding the road to salvation because of those who are convinced they are pursuing — but in actuality enabling by never allowing the abuser to live the consequences of his sin?

      AMEN

  12. joyisnowfree

    All I know is that God speaks to the conscience of the person that practices sin. He speaks thru His Word, circumstances, people, dreams. If a person has not repented, he or she has rejected God. So God is doing His job, who are we to think that we can do any better in bringing someone to repentance, who has already heard the good news and claims to be born again?

  13. Anonymous

    I believe that a woman (or man) who is being abused can depart and should not be under it any longer. I also believe that the departed spouse should remain unmarried and try to be reconciled with the offending spouse. I believe that God may use Divorce for His glory, but I don’t believe that He blesses divorce because Jesus said that no one should separate what God has put together.

    If the above, the YP’s early response, is the basis of his stance, then it really should not be all that hard for him to change his mind. YP’s understanding of I Cor 7:10-11, about separation, and Mark 10:7-9, about not letting man put asunder what God has joined together, seems to be at the heart of his position. Books like Barbara Roberts’ Not Under Bondage and Instone-Brewer’s Divorce and Remarriage in the Church clearly and comprehensively show that the Scriptures in fact do allow for divorce. So my question to YP is that if his objections are purely based on his understanding of the Bible, how does he respond to Barbara Roberts and Instone-Brewer’s challenge to his assumptions?

    On the abuser changing, YP says:

    To say that God can not heal and restore an abusive marriage by saving the abuser, I refute as wrong and misguided.

    I think it should be clear to him by now that nobody is saying that God has not the power to heal or restore individuals. The point is that most abusers show that they do not want to change, even if they say words to the opposite effect. They do not want a Godly marriage either, they simply want the old marriage back, which we say is wanting something God doesn’t bless. To continue to have that kind of person in the same church as the victim is being cruel to the victim. That a pastor intends to faithfully carry out God’s work and inflict cruelty at the same time doesn’t seem right.

  14. Came alongside

    Very insightful thread. As young people we often grow up thinking we are smart and our parents are dumb. The older we get the “smarter” our parents become. I sense that YP needs to allow time and experience to mature him, and use his ears more. I don’t say that snarkily, either. As a disciple of Jesus for 55 years now, I have seen that opinions expressed in youthful zeal often miss foundational truth that is revealed through decades of studying and rightly dividing the Word.

    I would challenge YP to read this link: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/11/09/god-only-did-one-counseling-session-with-cain/

    I would also confront YP with these facts: abusers, as defined in the sidebar above, have:
    • diligently perfected (sometimes for many decades)…
    • their *choice* to abuse in private -vs- public (abuse is not a sickness, a mistake, or a consequence of a traumatic childhood—it is a DECISION purposely and strategically timed to evade scrutiny),
    • manipulated others into believing them to be wonderful (impression control), thus
    • manufacturing a “Teflon” coating: none of their sins stick to them, and
    • frequently gaslighted their victims to ensure their behavior appears to others as crazy (creating allies — and sympathy — for the abuser because of his “mentally ill” wife).

    Practicing abusers have so honed their skills that it would behoove clerics like YP to seriously consider the validity of what this haggard, weeping wife is revealing about her life with a cruel, dangerous, deceptive husband. She comes to a pastor at great risk to herself. Even mature leaders should stop naïvely thinking that such a man as she describes couldn’t be that bad and certainly couldn’t deceive them if he was! What folly. Despite specific warnings from witnesses, I’ve SEEN denominational leaders fall prey to the abuser’s serpent-like enchantment of them while their support of him contributes to the continued mutilation of her soul. After the damage has been perpetrated on the wife exacerbated by their collusion with the abuser, plus the leaders finding themselves targeted by the abuser, only then did they repent to the victim of aiding and abetting the abuser. How supremely sad.

    Anytime a pastor/leader finds himself faced with a broken wife exposing her abuse-injured soul he could exhibit healthy humility by falling on his face before the Lord in recognition of his own inadequacy, inexperience and humanness. And in this position of submission to the Lordship of Jesus request God’s protection from the spirit of deception that will most assuredly seek to cloud his vision. Then stay on his face until the Holy Spirit empowers him with discernment of spirits AND gives him direction for each particular case he encounters.

    ~~~These God-instituted: Confession, repentance and restitution.~~~

    “Wife, I was wrong and sinful. I broke our marriage covenant by (Abuse described in detail, and yes, he broke covenant even if he didn’t commit adultery). Review the marriage vows you require an affirmative answer to as you perform a marriage. “Keeping only unto her as long as we both shall live” is only ONE of the vows!) Confession is agreeing that what we did was wrong, was sin.

    “Wife, I am sorry and with God’s help I will put abusive behavior behind me.” Repentance is changing one’s mind about one’s sin and choosing to turn away from it, allowing the Holy Spirit to change us into Christ’s image.

    “Wife, here is the house — I will continue to pay for you living here while I move out for you to heal. Here is: (the money I stole; the payment for the counselor, the hospital; support for you and the children freely given, not because the court is forcing me to, here are the children I took away from you, instructing the children he turned against her to follow his lead in repentance and honoring her, etc) without deadlines, or strings, or pressure to allow me back into your life as I work on being a man who honors you and the Lord, and you heal up from all the damage I have caused you.” Consistent restitution shows adherence to Biblical mandates.

    If the wife says she hasn’t heard a confession, been repented to for the sins against her, or received gracious and generous restitution you’ve got your answer on the genuineness of the husband’s claims of change or repentance to God.

    It’s quite likely that you won’t get a specific confession of wrongs that>>>leads to repentance that >>>exhibits restitution as fruit. Why? Because an abuser as defined on this website has a seared conscience, a reprobate heart and ENJOYS getting his own way. When you believe you haven’t done any wrong there is nothing to confess to, nothing to repent of and certainly no need to offer restitution! Why change the status quo when it’s been working so well in your favor? How do we know he doesn’t believe he did wrong and has a seared conscience? A truly saved-by-the-blood-of-Jesus man (or woman as the genders are occasionally reversed) has the Holy Spirit resident in him—when he sins the Holy Spirit convicts him and the man seeks repentance to restore fellowship and ungrieve the Holy Spirit!

    YP, “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18 is wise counsel. It’s one of many verses that teach safety in the multitude of counselors. And, unquestionably, if you are confronted with a case of spousal abuse, especially if the controlling, manipulating, dominating guy claims to be a Christian, you ARE waging war against a Jezebel spirit (well, unless you cower when he goes on the offense against you and protect yourself by becoming his ally). You may have gone to “boot camp” by completing seminary, but you have yet to complete SEAL training and you’d better not wash out because your life, not to mention the victim’s, can depend upon the depth of that training! Malignant narcissistic (Jezebel controlled) abusers are vindictive and are driven to WIN…always.

    I hope you never have to walk through the putrid sewer that my pastor has had to while standing up with an abused member of our church. It’s ugly. But if God called you to be a pastor, then He called you to be an under-shepherd of His sheep. Your job is to teach the sheep to follow the Chief Shepherd and tell others about Him, to guide the sheep to good pasture and teach them to feed themselves, to follow the Chief Shepherd, and to protect the sheep in your care from the wolves.

    When finding one of your lambs bleeding out from wolf bites your under-shepherd job doesn’t include counseling the wolf and the little lamb on ‘their problem’, or stroking the wolf (who couldn’t possibly be all that bad, after all, he teaches LAMB school!), nor is it assuring the wolf that the Chief Shepherd loves his unrepentant self so much that His grace smiles on the wolf , or trying to convert the wolf into acting more like a lamb. And it positively doesn’t include insisting the bleeding lamb go back to the wolf’s den with him and exercise patience, prayer and attempt to “be a better lamb” while waiting for the hungry wolf to grow wool!

    No, your job as under-shepherd includes learning expertise beyond boot camp. May I suggest this article as a start? https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/12/05/how-the-arrogance-of-professing-christians-is-enabling-the-wicked-part-1/

    Become proficient in identifying sheep blood, skilled in recognizing wolves methods of attack, then wield your staff with strength and conviction and declare “On the authority of God’s Word by disobedience to these scriptures (list them according to the behavior) you have broken the vows you made to your wife before God Almighty. To God and this woman confess your sin, repent, make restitution and commit to your own personal responsibility without requiring another thing from this woman. You broke the marriage; if she legalizes by civil divorce the vows you broke she is free to carry on with her life with no guilt. You know what you have to do, now do it.” Hold him accountable. If he balks send his arrogant, unrepentant self out the door as you defend, comfort and restore the lamb.

    Only the Lord can change a truly repentant wolf into a sheep, but it is a rare wolf indeed that will acknowledge his sinfulness and submit to the price obedience extracts nor the lengthy process to become spiritually healthy. He likes being a wolf.

    • Came alongside
      t.h.a.n.k.y.o.u.

    • Andrew Reavis

      Wow. Long comment packed full. Amazing. 

  15. downtheroad

    What a deluded person Young Pastor is,so very very sad, why cant he take the word of older Men and women, as the Bible says he should, People who have lived with this for years? I think that Pastors look at the rate of Divorce in the Unsaved world, and think they can then counsel the Christians they come across that Divorce is wrong for any reason…So so sad, i hope he is not like those Pastors who counsel women to stay with their violent Husbands until their own Daughters are in the siuation, then they change their Minds!!!, but what of the women who took their earlier advice?, surely their hearts must ache for them? (From the book “Beaten into Submission”
    It is sickening that Pastors daughters are so much more valuable than the woman sitting in their Pews, but of course the very Believers who campaign against Euthanasia, and abortion , “all human life is precious” until it comes to a Beaten wife of course, its down to the level of some middle east countires in churches today where women are so de-valued.
    I would say to YoungPastor that i was in a church which “worshipped Marriage” i was required to sit on the opposite side of the church from my Husband when we had separated,i would go to the bathroom and vomit, then have to return and carry on smiling, despite almost being crippled by fear, because he had convinced them he was a “new man” in Jesus, and would never hit me again..I left that Church and after 15yrs at a new Church he appeared again, after we were divorced,i fainted the first time i saw him .So i have had to leave that Church too..He continues to try to “reconcile”, which consists of Stalking me, talking to friends about how he is wonderfully “saved”.Does this sound like the actions of a true Born- again belliver? So YoungPastor would you want your Daughter or sister of yours to go through this, i am sure your Naive protestations would seem very hollow then, i just hope that you are Teachable enough to see Evil for what it is, and i hope to God that you dont Judge any female you love as wrong if she leaves her abusive Husband and are not like the Asian Brothers and fathers who kill their daughters for “shaming the family”, because if you send them back to a dangerous Man that is what you will be doing

  16. Thank you April and Jeff and StillReforming. I so appreciate this site! It gives me new angles that my evangelical entrenching has caused. I will reread all you have written on this “forgiveness” subject and also get the book Jeff you were referring to. Just separating forgiveness from reconciliation has been a HUGE change for me and a welcome one. I truly do understand, giving “grace to those who may not be able to forgive right now.” Pain needs time to heal.

    • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

      debby,

      The following article was life-changing for me and something I never heard in church. I realize it’s a link, and the moderators of this site wisely don’t let unchecked links past, but I’m hoping this will pass muster. It jives with all I’ve read to date on this site and if not, I hope I’ll be corrected. It’s an examination of forgiveness and its inextricable link with repentance. I hope this helps and gives you food for thought.

      http://gideonz.tripod.com/articles/forgiveness.html

      Moderators, I’m sorry if this adds to your work. I don’t mean to do so really, but this article does have some very relevant information presented in a rather concise format with appropriate Biblical references. Again, sorry about posting a link. It’s just such a cogent argument presented so well and really influenced my own thinking, as I hope it might with debby, if she finds it to be of interest.

  17. Sarah

    “I also believe that the departed spouse should remain unmarried and try to be reconciled with the offending spouse.”

    YoungPastor – this very practice gives the Abuser power over the Target. Being young to pastoring, you may not be aware of the subtle ways Abusers operate. They will try to exert control and manipulate over their target — ANY way they can.

    Why should the “departed” (hope you mean fleeing and not actually dead) spouse forfeit their life waiting for the offending spouse to straighten up? The departed spouse can spend 10, 20, 30 years waiting. Basically, this giving over their life to the control of another – which is a form of slavery and bondage. Why should the target sacrifice themselves for an abuser, who doesn’t even care enough about them NOT to abuse them?

  18. Came alongside

    I don’t often comment, but this thread has really stirred up my righteous anger. Can’t you just hear the “But she MARRIED him! She chose to marry this man of her own free will, thus binding herself with vows to him before GOHDD!” Uh. No.

    She married the man he purposely deceived her into believing he was. The image he projected was false. It was like a hologram. He was a costumed impostor. She didn’t knowingly marry the wolf he was. She married the sheep he portrayed himself to be. Every vow the parson laid out the wolf repeated with all the concrete substance of an echo. The bride believed him to be as honest and sincere as she was. If you’ve forgotten traditional (i.e. most common) Christian marriage vows, here is a refresher: http://www.myweddingvows.com/wedding-ceremony/traditional-christian-ceremony

    You’ll note that most abused wives come for help long after they’ve loved him beyond their own pain; comforted him first out of love, then to keep peace in the home, and finally out of fear of the consequences if she doesn’t comfort and pacify him. She honors him in that when she finally tells her painful story she strives to not embarrass him, or ‘speak badly or ugly’ of him as she plays down his true wickedness because he’s told her she’s to blame. She stood by him when he was that insufferable whiney sick “it’s all about me” male instead of lacing his chicken broth with a mickey or ten like the rest of us secretly wished she would have. She has kept herself only to him because he was her desire in the first place, not some other handsome dude, but this man that she covenanted with.

    Granted, there ARE abused wives who have, in their efforts to be a good wife, failed in a point or two but that in no way justifies sin leveling by the pastor or the abuser. The abuser’s actions are not a “failure” on his part. On the contrary, he’s been quite successful in his actions. But the women who have stayed in an abusive marriage for decades, praying, hoping, grovelling, hiding his abuse out of fear or embarrassment, who’ve been trying to be the “better wife”, the more “submissive wife” or the non-“rebellious” wife he badgers her to be is generally the keeper of her vows because she’d rather die than disappoint her Lord by breaking those promises or be the spouse that is less honorable. Her staying so long has been a combination of her morals/spirituality, fear of what he’ll do, lack of outside support and the fear she can’t provide for herself or her children.

    Now look at his habitual, vile treatment of her. In his abuse of her, which of these vows, if any, has he honored before the Lord he claims to serve?
    *Entering into the matrimonial state reverently, discreetly, soberly and in the fear of God? (Excuse me, but none of his abusive behavior reveals any fear of God! What a laugh. He acts as though he IS God.)

    *Love her? (Bashing, shaming, ridiculing, manipulating, controlling, instilling fear, twisting her words against her; forcing her to appease him just to avoid his endangerment of her or the children; casting her out and allowing, nay, forcing her into poverty, hunger, homelessness; using scripture to coerce her to obey his selfish demands, etc, are NOT loving.)

    *Comfort her? (Abusive behavior that eventually makes her physically ill; causing pain by bullying her out of her children; stealing her finances, or her half of them as a couple; forcing himself upon her sexually or insisting upon relations that are abhorrent to her, purposely ruining her credit; lying about her character; using parental alienation, threatening or actually following through with physical violence are NOT comforting to ANYONE let alone to a woman in the relationship that is supposed to be most safe and intimate. It isn’t loving, either.)

    *Keep her in sickness and in health? (Denying payment of her medical bills; denying her the right to seek medical care; causing the injuries that require medical attention are NOT “keeping her” –see both the noun and verb forms below.)

    *Forsaking all others keep only to her as long as you both shall live? (Refusing relations; satisfying himself adulterously with porn, straight, gay or animal; physically committing adultery with someone other than his wife, are NOT keeping himself only to her.)

    Which of his daily behaviors towards her upheld any of the points of his public pledge to be faithful to, to care for, love and CHERISH her? None of them. This. Is. No. Marriage. She spoke her vows to an attractive apparition that vanished into the air and in its place was an abuser-demon. And even the pastors who operate in the power of the Holy Spirit to release people from manifested demonic oppression will insist (by shame, threat or both) this honorable woman stay in bondage to this abuser-demon even though he has broken every part of the covenant without any confession, repentance or restitution to his victim. And if you think demon is to harsh a word you haven’t spent any quality time listening with an open heart (and zipped up your lofty opinions) to the countless number of women who have been imprisoned, degraded, battered, exploited, tortured (yes, tortured) and had their souls murdered by such deplorable excuses for husbands.

    Legal and binding agreements, both business and social (i.e. marriage) are made all the time–and broken all the time. It is right and just, not to mention common sense, to accept that the breaking of the covenant many times over was a ~~volitional decision~~ by the perpetrator to destroy the marriage, then support the victim as she acknowledges that destruction through the justice system. The civil Dissolution of Marriage document is simply legally ratifying the “divorce” the abuser already accomplished by the breaking of his vows. HE violated God’s decree in Mark 10:9. The “two” were no longer “one” because the abuser’s choices broke the covenant long before the victim was forced to place documents on the judge’s bench.

    Those standing to represent Jesus Christ must, I repeat, MUST study the whole counsel of the Word of God, then walk a few hundred miles in the bloodied shoes of the abused, before brashly delivering bad pronouncements based on only one or two misapplied proof texts.

    ****************************************************************************************************************
    “Keep” has these definitions:
    >>as a noun:
    Food, clothes, and other essentials for living.
    synonyms: maintenance, upkeep, sustenance, board, room and board, lodging, food, livelihood.
    >>as a verb:
    1. have or retain possession of or put or store in a regular place.
    synonyms: store, house, stow, put (away), place, deposit;
    2. continue or cause to continue in a specified condition, position, course, etc.
    synonyms: remain, continue to be, stay, carry on being, persist in being
    ****************************************************************************************************************

    • I’m sharing this comment from CameAlongside on our FB page, it is so good.

    • StandsWithAFist

      “She married the man he purposely deceived her into believing he was”.

      With wisdom from ACFJ, my BFF’s daughter divorced her abusive husband (and his abusive church.)
      She later told her mom that prior to meeting her now-ex, she had kept a journal, in which she had written her prayers to God about her future husband and what she was looking for in a husband.
      Her now-ex H later admitted that he had found her journal while they were dating, and after reading it, pretended to be everything she had written down. He had deliberately, intentionally “purposely deceived her”. She married him, believing he was “the answer to her prayers” when, in fact, he was a fraud, a fake, a pretender, an abuser. He was a lie.

      He had found the “recipe” and he cooked it up.

      So, to YP, the super pastor, the pastor’s wife, the women’s ministry, the elder board & the sheep: stop giving these wolves the benefit of the doubt. Wolves know how to trap sheep & destroy them. On purpose.

      That “marriage” can’t be saved because it isn’t real, and never was.

    • standsfortruth

      Thank you for sharing this breakdown of the marriage vows, Came alongside.
      To hear this so aptly put is sweet vindication for my tired, weary and bruised soul.

  19. IamMyBeloved's

    Young Pastor said:

    If the abuser will not repent, then He should be removed from the Church and the victim should seek the Lord about the next step, Divorce, etc. I reject the statement by Jeff Crippen in His post that an abusive marriage cannot be healed. I have detailed in my first post the verse I believe says why God can reconcile people from sin and abuse into righteousness and Holiness

    See this right here? This is what is so wrong. The Church believes that they can effectuate repentance and yet they do not know what it even looks like for an abuser. The Bible says that repentance is a gift of God – not men. This is so wrong and it is what leads to repeated abuser. The Church gets the abuser to say he is sorry and look like he has changed, slapped him back with his family and it all starts again. Wash, rinse, repeat – over and over again. Then the Church just gets sick of having to deliver the wife from the abuser and it leads to the victim being victimized by the Church, because they can’t figure out why their repentance THEY led the abuser to, isn’t sticking – so they begin to blame the victim.

    Let’s just let God be God and let Him bring about the repentance. We are to be “reconcilers” to God, but God must first bring abusers to brokenness and give them the gift of repentance. It does not come through giving a “good talking to” or discipline. It is a gift.

    • Many times the church doesnt even WAIT for the “I’m sorry” from the abuser but instead takes his/her twisted viewpoint (“She won’t________”; “She is unforgiving”; “I never _____ ” etc.) at face value and completely disregards what she has to say!

      I agree with the can’t figure out why the “fix” won’t “stick” so it MUST be HER fault (since in their arrogance they can’t BELIEVE that their “Biblical advice” hasn’t led to one big happy Christian family.

      • I agree Debby. And in the cases where the abuser is male, I think a lot of this stems from unconscious misogyny that sees women as second class citizens in the family of Christ.

      • Still Reforming

        Barbara, I’m beginning to (finally) understand what you are saying here. And it startles me to know that I lived it for so many years – giving the benefit of the doubt to the “brethren” for so long not unlike what I did with the husband – before it finally began to sink in. I wonder why that is. I wonder if I just didn’t want to believe it or I was raised to give the benefit of the doubt or because I am not of that mindset myself I don’t see that in others or a combination of all and maybe more….

      • Jeff Crippen

        Debby – I think it is Bancroft who observes that most of what people know about DV abusers and sex offenders comes from THE ABUSERS AND OFFENDERS themselves!

    • Jeff Crippen

      IamMy – You are correct. Because as this YP guy goes about determined to “fix” the marriage and “fix” the abuser, he at the same time is necessarily oppressing the victim, prolonging her suffering, and in reality siding with the abuser. I agree that church discipline needs to be enacted and the abuser put out of the church, but then the rest is up to the Lord. And this still is not done with the intent to restore the marriage. As I always say, a marriage to an abuser doesn’t need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.

      • Still Reforming

        Jeff – Your comment to Debby makes me smile for a couple of reasons. (1) It tells me that there are people out there who have the gift of discernment to recognize abusers for who they are and aren’t snowed by the words or appearance and (2) It strikes me as one of those ironies that God allows to have the wickedness of the perpetrator to act against himself. Not unlike a classic Greek tragedy in which the weakness of the character ends up spelling his own doom. There’s a divine justice about that.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Jeff – That’s exactly what I meant by my last paragraph. Free the victim and let God be the one Who decides if repentance for the abuser ever gets brought about – not unlearned men trying to force repentance in someone who has no desire to repent, because they “think” they understand abuse and abusers. In the meantime, the victim is free and restoration is not ever sought. Divorce is implemented, because it is right and blessed by God.

      It’s just time for believers to learn to discern between good and evil, wheat and tares and judge those who show up in the Church, who do not belong there. That is the command. The command is not to try to restore to repentance a wolf who has crept in and is destroying God’s people.

      • Still Reforming

        IaMB – May I cut and paste some of your comment for use on social media?

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Yes, that is fine.

    • Still Reforming

      IaMB – I think in YP’s case the repentance of the abuser is entirely academic. I think this because YP does not state how he (YP) will know that the abuser has repented. In the case of abuse, as we all know here largely by experience, the abuser is not going to come forward and tell what he has done and then repent of it. And if it’s all a he-said-she-said, we all know how that plays out as well. The she-said is by and large dismissed. So if YP cannot say how he will know the truth of what’s being stated and how YP will know if repentance has occurred, then it’s all academic. He has no experience here and his statements quoting Scripture are cherry-picked and superficial. In fact, YP’s first two sentences are contradictory. On the one hand, if the abuser won’t repent that same person should be thrown out of church, but on the other hand, the church should try to heal the abusive marriage. It shows a lack both of understanding and depth of knowledge on the part of YP.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        New Creation. Isn’t that what demonstrates there has been “true repentance”? Yep, according to Paul – only a “new creation” counts. That newness would be obvious to all. New creations would own their past sin and demonstrate their immense sorrow for how they had abused their victims.

        YP’s idea of repentance sort of goes like all the rest, who believe that Christ wants a wolf reconciled to His beloved daughter. First, you have to just plain see the writing on the wall, that people like that have no discernment and are not reading deeply into the Word. They do not live the “real” Christian life, where we know there is a deep spiritual battle. They live in the world of fluff with a path of flowers and love and everyone is just fine. They live in a false dimension that says satan and his cohorts just need to be loved to Christ. They live where evil and righteousness blend together so well, that it causes even the truly justified saints to be confused. That is not the real Christian life. Just read – that’s right – just actually reeeaadd the New Testament and see how the real Christian life is filled with battles. We do not win the battle with abusers or any other evil entity, by pretending we can love them to repentance and justice. We win the battle by warring just as described within the pages of that precious Sword of the Spirit. We have weapons, we fight, we stand and we need other real Christians behind us, fighting with us. The martyrs did not cry out “how long oh Lord?” because they reconciled and made friends with their assailants! Let’s-just-get-real.

  20. Sarah

    And, just so you know, “Shane” and :”Young Pastor” are related… ❤

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