A Cry For Justice

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

The Nightmare of Peacemakers Mediation for Domestic Abuse: Part 2 of Persistent Widow’s story

The Church Gets Involved

Trigger warning: under pastor’s orders, a victim suffers horrendous abuse in professional ‘c’hristian mediation 

With the discovery of the other woman, I contacted the pastor a year after our initial discussion, and told him of my new desire to divorce. I felt that my husband had listened to the Word preached for years, and if it had not effected change, nothing would. His years of hate and cruelty caused me to fear that if he returned, he might kill someone, and my adult children concurred. My conscience did not condemn me for my resolve and I felt that Jesus himself was leading us along a clear path out of the turmoil.

The pastor stated that he would initiate “the process”, but in my study of Reformed theology, I had never encountered that term, nor did I know what it meant. He avoided defining the term or explaining what would happen next, so I reasoned that it probably was a church discipline procedure pertaining to the assault issue I previously reported.

In what became a confusing turn back into the fog, the pastor stated that what I experienced was really not that bad, that he’d seen worse, and hair and phone logs did not prove that physical adultery took place. I was told to keep this quiet in the church, as my husband would be coming back, and as a result he restricted any Christian comfort that I might have otherwise received from friends at church. He mentioned that I would have to take my husband back even though I would not love him — like Hosea took back the unfaithful spouse. He confidently asserted that there were always two people to blame for marriage problems, and that I was a trigger. His words left me dazed and bewildered. I truly felt like the floor dropped out from under me and was in such a fog at that point that I did not comprehend the direction this was taking. Knowing that the safety of my family relied on the church, I still trusted in my heart that they would help me. I really thought that once the facts of the case were examined, and with the likelihood that my husband’s explosive temper would blow under scrutiny, the church would support my decision.

I called my husband and notified him that I had discovered his affair. Rather than scream profanities at me as in other phone calls, he suggested that we start over and take a trip to Hawaii. I rejected the offer. Instead, I erected a clear boundary by telling him he was not permitted to return home which led to his unbridled screaming and ranting at me over the phone. I thought that this would be the church’s opportunity to confront my husband for his behavior and either send him for psychological evaluation or bring God’s Law down on him with the hope of repentance through church discipline. Instead, the pastor tried to persuade me to allow my husband back into the house for a short visit, and out of fear of what my husband might do, I refused, and the pastor seemed frustrated with me.

The elders decided to send the matter to Peacemakers Counseling for mediation. I had done some research and discovered that mediation was not advised in cases of abuse and I told them that I believed that it would only be appropriate if he was confronted by the church and repentant. However, the pastor seemed detached and unconcerned. My input was completely ignored and I felt that I had no voice in the decisions beings made for me. He offered no other option but to proceed in the undefined church process and the thought of leaving the church did not cross my mind. My usual clear focus was becoming muddled at this point and nothing seemed to make logical sense anymore.

Because of my husband’s screaming at me on the phone and his violent tendencies, my family was fearful that mediation would be unsafe and pleaded with me not to go to Peacemakers. Once again the pastor was stern and emotionless causing me to doubt my own decision making capabilities. Because my husband was laid off for so long and now an apprentice truck driver, I did not have the $2800 for mediation, so the pastor said that if I paid the first $1035, the church would pay the rest. I reaffirmed our agreement by asking him twice if this was all that I would have to pay and he agreed. Still believing that the problem was that my husband was abusive because he was unregenerate, I reasoned that this would be a waste of money and likened it to a tax that I needed to pay to get through this nightmarish situation. Three months passed with little contact from the pastor. Throughout those months, my husband continued to rant and scream at me on the phone and threaten to come back to the house. By God’s mercy he did not.

Preparing for Mediation

The Peacemaker counselor did phone consultations with both my husband and me individually. She asked me what the issues were and I sent her the ten page list of abusive incidents that I previously sent the pastor. She, like the pastor, never validated any of the incidents, nor showed any compassion to my plight. At one point she insensitively responded with, “Awwwww” in a condescending manner to an abusive incident I discussed with her. I was required to read Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker, which I felt was totally inapplicable to my situation. The book focused on conflict resolution between Christians. Domestic abuse was not addressed in the book, and it struck me as a manual for spiritually immature people with petty issues. In a follow-up phone discussion with her (with the pastor listening in), she perhaps perceiving that I was serious about Reformed theology, threw Calvin’s quote of the human heart being an idol factory at me and questioned if I wanted other men. She also accused me of being “no saint” because there are always two people contributing to marriage problems. I found these comments extremely offensive, confusing, and hurtful. Her allegations were unsubstantiated, and I perceived that she was attempting to find some sin to charge against me. Suddenly I found myself on the defensive despite all of the abuse that I had endured and documented.

She called again prior to the mediation and I voiced my concerns that mediation did not seem proper because only recently he was yelling obscenities at me on the phone and also made the absurd statement that this was all because I was going through the “change of life” in that strange, shrill voice he mocked me with. I told her I thought he had narcissistic personality disorder and frankly stated that I didn’t like him or love him. Perhaps thinking that I would not come to the mediation, she changed her tone. She said that there were consequences for one’s actions and that I could use the mediation time to discuss divorce issues, which I did not think I needed as I had already consulted with an attorney. I could gather no clear sense of the purpose of the mediation or how any of this was biblical, but I wanted to get past this hurdle to complete the mysterious church “process”.

Somewhere between the urgency to protect my family, and the growing confusion of what the right thing to do was, the fact that I had misplaced my trust in the church leadership had not registered in my mind. Having now left my decision to divorce on the back burner, I was now redirected to an ambiguous course, absent of reason, and followed solely due to submission to church authority.

The Mediation Takes Place

Present at the three day mediation were my husband, one ruling elder, the pastor, the Peacemaker counselor, a counseling trainee and myself. We sat around a table and spent some time going over the Peacemakers rules and their wheel of conflict (which I’ll explain more about in a subsequent post in this series). The Scripture about Lazarus rising from the dead was read. Both my husband and I were asked to give a history of our relationship. I carefully wrote out and read my story which took approximately 45 minutes. My husband, rather than contribute his story, proceeded to spend the next several hours talking about himself and refuting my statements unhindered. He was center stage and I thought quite noxious. Blank stares were fixed upon him by the others in the room, and I assumed that they would come to the same conclusion that I had, and someone would reel him. No one did.

Throughout the mediation sessions he was not confronted for any of the issues that brought us there. I had waited for the abusive incidents that I submitted to be discussed but they never were. No mention of the verbal or emotional abuse, reckless driving, disappearing, fighting, or civil disobedience and no mention of the wellbeing of children living in the abuse at all. I brought fifteen pages of itemized phone records proving he talked 6000 minutes to his girlfriend the previous June and they just lay on the table. However, there was one particular incident of great interest to the group. Sometime during the last visit home, (the one when he was raging and sharpening axes), my husband secretly took an expensive item from my jewelry box. When I noticed it missing, I called him to ask if he knew of its whereabouts and apparently that was deemed an issue to explore in-depth. I was harshly questioned pertaining my motives of why I was concerned about the bracelet and was I being submissive to ask him about it. I was also faulted for discussing my husband’s abuse and asking for advice from my adult children, which I think revealed the extent of disconnect of the people who were sitting at that table with me. The abuse affected everyone in the household and didn’t happen in a vacuum as it seems they supposed. No opportunity was afforded to discuss divorce settlement issues although I brought legal paperwork with me.

On the final day, my husband became irritated with the counselor trainee who made the only negative comment about him. She had said something like, “When will he grow up?” Although he had his face partially covered by his ball cap, from my vantage point, I could see that he was angry, shaking his head, and muttering under his breath. With an air of victory, the counselor pointed out that my husband was repentant and crying. I should have refuted her, but I was emotionally drained and exhausted, having myself wept on and off out of frustration throughout the mediation. As the session wrapped up, the counselor quickly made an agreement that we both consented to in which my husband would continue counseling with her, and I would orchestrate conference calls between the children and him. As she typed out the agreement, the pastor made jokes and informal arrangements to travel with my husband in the truck. When the counselor asked for a check, credit card or promissory note to pay the balance due, I informed her that the pastor previously agreed to pay the remainder. He emphatically pushed his chair away from the table and threw his hands in the air denying any financial responsibility, so the remaining balance wound up as marital debt.

Second Thoughts

Alarmed that I somehow allowed my boundaries be penetrated, I couldn’t sleep and called the Peacemaker counselor the next day, telling her that I would not sign the agreement. I did not want to conduct conference calls with my husband and although I did not tell her, I felt that she lacked adequate skills to deal with his serious issues. Concerning the mediation, I told her that I felt my husband was not held accountable for anything. She said, “Yes, he was. Someone said that he should have been talking to his wife instead of that woman.” She had a good point, but the person who said that was me. She also said that he looked sorry.

As a result of Peacemakers mediation, my husband again began calling me with new threats that he had fantasies about seeing me dead and that he was going to financially ruin me. I was at the absolute lowest point in my life, full of despair, feeling just barely alive, and wondering if I had lost my mind. Maybe I really was “no saint” and maybe God hated me the way the church did. These dark thoughts tumbled around in my mind along with all of the other problems this series of events brought. I considered that maybe I wasn’t a Christian, but I really believed that God is faithful and although I was crushed, I believed that He still loved me.

Next post: PCA Interrogation, Hard Lessons, and Emerging from the Fog: Part 3 of Persistent Widow’s story

[Go to part 1 of this series]

90 Comments

  1. Tanya

    Im furious,This is completely and utterly disgusting. Im so sorry you had to be subjected to this folly.

  2. StandsWithAFist

    “Domestic abuse was not addressed in the book, and it struck me as a manual for spiritually immature people with petty issues.”

    TPW: reading this post turned my stomach, and reminded me of Jesus in Mark 3:

    “1 Then Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
    2 They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him.
    3 So he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Stand up among all these people.”
    4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” But they were silent.
    5 After looking around at them in anger, grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
    6 So the Pharisees went out immediately and began plotting with the Herodians, as to how they could assassinate him.”

    Jesus asked a simple question, much like yours: “Is it lawful to save a life or to destroy it?”

    Silence.

    Then He looked at them in anger. Let THAT sink in.

    And then He did exactly what He came to do: he healed this man…in the synagogue. In the church. In front of everyone.

    Horrors. How dare He? Of all the nerve! Outrageous! Why, the synogogue is not the place for healing! And you can just take your Almighty Omnipotence outside and do Your healing there! In fact, we’re so upset that you healed anybody we’re going to make sure You don’t heal anybody again!

    These PCA Pharisees are just like those petty Pharisees who “strain at a gnat & swallow a camel”. It is dumbfounding. I am amazed at your strength, and horrified by your being twice abused by those who were supposed to protect you. Like the man with the withered hand, when Jesus asked him to stand up, he stood up. So did you. You stood up “among all these people”.
    But I feel that anger, that righteous anger, that “shake dust in protest” anger that this ever happened.
    Jesus was angry at their abuse, at their self-righteous, pious, ignorant abuse. He gave them a chance to answer a simple question. When they failed to answer, He answered it for them.
    May we all “stand up among all these people”.
    Good for you, dear one! And woe unto them…

  3. standsfortruth

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us persistant widow.
    (I wanted to read more. )
    So many parellels I see with my own life.
    The Hosea story was wrongly used on me too.
    But as much as the church wanted to twist it to my situtation, i knew it was a contorted application, for their misguided motive.
    Gomer was a “prostitute” when God instructed Hosea to marry her, so that He could show prophetically what He was about to do with the nation of Isreal.
    I knew this in my heart, and just sat back and became astounded at the endless gyrations the pastor and his church came up with, to try to make me doubt my very own truth and convictions.

  4. Tanya

    I’d like to share this Don Francisco song ive been listening to lately, its encouraging me. Its called Vision of the valley its taken from Ezekiel 34

  5. Barely Reformed

    “When the counselor asked for a check, credit card or promissory note to pay the balance due, I informed her that the pastor previously agreed to pay the remainder. He emphatically pushed his chair away from the table and threw his hands in the air denying any financial responsibility, so the remaining balance wound up as marital debt.”

    So in addition to everything else, you had financial abuse by the pastor. Nice… >:P

    • Jeff Crippen

      I wonder if we could publish a public online call for Peacemakers, Inc. to refund the money? I think it pretty well comes under the heading of the hypocrites Jesus exposed for stealing the estates of widows?

      • Good idea, Jeff.

        Peacemakers: Refund that money to Persistent Widow. You ought to be able to work out who she is just from this series, but if you can’t, contact us and we will work out with Persistent Widow how she would like you get the refund to her. And when the money is refunded, we will publish a post on this blog saying that the refund has gone through.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Credit card? Ha! Did she pull out one of those little electronic debit card scanners? And I wonder if the printout would have included a line for the tip!!

  6. A Brusied Reed

    There is just so much wrong with this on so many levels. Many of us who read this blog feel like we have been in your shoes, although I don’t think I will ever hear of a more unjust church response than yours, Persistent Widow. I praise God that you were able to somehow stand through all this with much common sense and thoughtful action, despite the fog of abuse from both your husband and the church and the Peacemakers. May God give you and your children peace, rest, and safety.

  7. xmeriwetherx

    Heartbreaking. I never went through anything this intense, but had a pastor that also re-victimized me with his actions. The “it’s not so bad” statement really resonates with me, as my pastor once told me that my husband’s abuse was “not that bad” because he knew another couple where the husband had pulled a knife on his wife. I guess I was supposed to stick around for that.
    So sad you got such un-Godly council. I’m a therapist, and I’d love to work for a Christian organization… but no way would I work somewhere that promoted these values. That encouraged people to stay in abusive situations.
    Looking forward at the titles of posts to come, it seems you have made it out. So glad… and sad you ever had to go through this.

    • Barnabasintraining

      my pastor once told me that my husband’s abuse was “not that bad” because he knew another couple where the husband had pulled a knife on his wife.

      I wonder if she got her own “not so bad” comparison. Like, “well, it could be worse. He could have used it.” And if he did, “well, it could be worse, he could have killed you.” Or if he kill her, then to the family, “well, it could be worse, she could be dead and unsaved.” I guess as long as you aren’t in hell it’s “not so bad,” then?

      I don’t know when it was decided we were supposed to start using “not as bad as” as the plumb line. Nor do I know how bad it has to be to finally merit attention and action. How does that do anything except teach you to tolerate evil, because there is always something that could be worse?

      • Remedy

        Oh but the victim is in hell….relational hell which feels like hell.

  8. IamMyBeloved's

    She, like the pastor, never validated any of the incidents, nor showed any compassion to my plight. At one point she insensitively responded with, “Awwwww” in a condescending manner to an abusive incident I discussed with her. I was required to read Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker, which I felt was totally inapplicable to my situation.

    Well, well, well. Lookie right there and pay very close attention. For all the wonder of these folk who believe that all we need is Bible in hand to be able to counsel anyone in the entire world – highlighting abusers – through any problem they may ever encounter in all of life – why do we need THEIR book??? Why now does anyone need any other book, whether by Sande or Adams or whoever??? Isn’t this just the opposite of all they teach??? Yep, it sure is! They have been caught. They have just eroded their own teaching and now we all know it is fake. According to their own teaching, you DO need something other than the Bible to aid you through life’s hardships. Ha!

    Funny, how if they were really Christians, that they could even in good conscience charge money to make peace between two people! Don’t ya think? What was it? Three thousand dollars!! Wow!

    Ahh, yes. I also love when the pastor’s cohort with the abusers and aid them in their financially deviant behavior. Done like a true shepherd of the gray-haired flock. It is now apparent which flock he was shepherding, which also gives his true – wolf in wool – identity.

    Seems they do not believe in the new creation Paul speaks of, and hold to the old lie that we are saved, but not changed and remain “just a bunch of sinners”. Always makes me question when there is no real apparent understanding on the part of people like the ones at Peachy-Makers (pun intended) about just how the Gospel works. You had every right to be offended by those comments, PW! Those would be offensive to any actually, truly redeemed individual. They are not seeking real peace, but a fake peace. They just want to make things peachy, without Christ. They cover up sin and call it righteous. They lie and know not the truth.

    I have to say that this is “evil” in its own right. Patronizing a woman who has been victimized; no sympathy; no fear of harming the individuals being abused; etc., etc. all point to only one thing. A picture of satan’s cohorts having a stern unmoved face when they hear of evil. It does not affect them. No emotion. Stoicism. Lack of empathy. Darkness. Evil.

    PW, I know exactly how you were feeling at the end of this post. Been there and done that. I pray one of your next posts comes and tells us that you have regained your strength and know now who the real unbelievers are, as well as how heinously you were abused.

    I can sum this entire ordeal up in a word.

    Evil.

    • thepersistentwidow

      IamMyBeloved’s, Great observations. It is strange that not only the Ken Sande book but THEY are required for repentance and salvation. What did the church do before Ken Sande and the Nouthetic counselors arrived on the scene? And do they even accomplish their goal of saving anyone? It is really ridiculous and unbiblical all around.

    • Preach it, IamMyBeloved’s !

      • IamMyBeloved's

        And that, Barb, is precisely why we know that they are not sent by God. God puts His own first. God protects and takes care of His own. God discerns between the lost and the saved and acts accordingly. People like this blur all those lines and the truth from a lie becomes indistinguishable. God does not embrace or defend evil. Christ died for sinners. We are not called to die again for sinners.

        They just don’t get that and because they don’t get that, it can only mean that their gospel is tainted with error and not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They believe that wives should die for their abusers, or at least lay down and let them have abusive reign for a while while they slowly murder their victims. That is completely contrary to what God’s Word says marriage should be. And remember – they say that the Bible is all they need to counsel someone – but obviously they pick and choose their interpretation and application of that same Bible. That’s all we need to know to be able to discern that they are not glorifying to God and therefore not of God – especially in the area of abuse and rampant evil. They obviously cannot stand up to abusive pastors, which also puts them in the non-God glorifying category. To stand by and allow a pastor to dump the fees after a promise to pay, is just wicked.

    • Peachy-Makers is the perfect name for them.

      They make it peachy for the pastors.
      They make it peachy for the abusers.
      They make it peachy for the highly paid mediators.

      And they make it purgatory for the victim, but who cares about victims anyway!
      They probably deserved it, and it wasn’t that bad anyway. . .

      • Jeff Crippen

        Peaches that are rotten to the core.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      No, PW, they don’t accomplish any godly goal. Just because they have a goal of “saving” someone, does not mean it is God’s goal. This is what I mean by people thinking they have the power to save someone. These people are playing God and obviously do not know the true God, or they would already know that it is not glorifying to Him, to allow abuse to go on and pretend it doesn’t exist. These people are only pursuing their own glory and they make it evident by saying they “believe” that only the Bible is needed for all of life and counsel and then pushing their own book as an addition to it. What a farce!

  9. Jeff Crippen

    Are any of the head guys in the PCA reading these posts? I hope so. If any of you know any of them, tell them to come here and read these 3 posts in this series and then go and do something about it. The PCA needs to bring this victim’s pastor and church leaders, and any of the Peacemakers ministry people who were involved, if they are in the PCA, up on church discipline charges. If this pastor’s actions do not constitute grounds for de-frocking, I really don’t know what more could be required.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Jeff, The PCA and Peacemaker higher-ups are aware and have reached a verdict in my case. I added a few posts and if our readers are interested they will be taken right through to the Presbytery decision.

      • Survivor70

        Where are these links? I have a lot of terrible experiences with the PCA and how they handle victims of marital abuse and would like to read more.

      • thepersistentwidow

        Survivor70, I have a lot more information concerning the PCA and abuse in this series’ upcoming posts. Another post is coming out Friday and there are several scheduled for next week. We will link the posts together as they go online.

      • Survivor70

        I am so glad you are telling your story. This is the first time I have seen anything about abuse in the PCA. I was in this denomination for 20 years and know several women who were counseled to stay with their abusive husbands, including myself. I told my pastor that I would literally rather die than continue to live in the situation I was in, and his only response was to beg me not to pursue divorce. Thankfully God delivered me despite the ungodly counsel, but I still suffer from PTSD. I was married to someone from a very prominent PCA family and everything possible was done by men in the denomination to protect him from the consequences of his advise.

  10. Anon

    At my SGM church Peacemakers was a big deal. I think Ken Sande even came to speak. So much of this reminds me of how my own domestic abuse experience was handled. Looking back it is so obvious that manipulators recognize each other and protect each other. They did in my case too.

  11. Valerie

    This is just outrageous PW! I can’t think of a strong enough word other than wicked. I can visualize sitting in that chair with a righteous fire burning inside me yet feeling inadequate and emotionally drained to defend myself. I remember that feeling…it is completely traumatizing. I still have flashbacks of some of these encounters…feeling like a wounded animal being mercilessly kicked and surrounded with no way of escape. As I consider this I realize that the ones who traumatized me most were the ones professing to be Christians. It wasn’t just that they blindsided me (which they did) but they used their pretense of religion to fuel and justify their bludgeoning me with their words. It was a gang mentality whereby they seemed to act as though the angels of heaven were somehow rooting for them in their wickedness that they disguised as “making me aware of my sin”.

    But God….but God strengthened me through this. He did not leave me as a wounded animal but showed me how to fight evil with His strength! He showed me I was no longer at the mercy of these heartless fools who were wise in their own eyes and showed no mercy for my pain. He gave me a solid rock to stand upon and continued to teach me how to stand against the raging forces that have come against me. God has been glorified despite their attempts to glorify themselves. God has already won the victory and that is the truth that I hold with me every day as I see this through. Thank you for your powerful testimony!

  12. Outofthefog

    As I don’t know how this ends I pray that you are living a peaceful life right now. To not have anyone you can turn to for support & help must have been like a nightmare you couldn’t wake from.
    How do these people live with themselves? How do men in these positions sleep at night? Honestly I am sickened & again barely able to read this.

    Your testimony & details about your situation are SO similar. Fortunately, I had the opposite church experience. Had I been treated the way you were I think I would have never trusted church leadership again.
    I pray you are not in that place but surrounded by those that affirm and love you.
    This is outrageous & I am thankful you have shared.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Had I been treated the way you were I think I would have never trusted church leadership again.

      I know some young people who do not want anything to do with church anymore because of the way they saw an abuse victim treated.

      • thepersistentwidow

        Actually, my eldest sister said that this the reason that she doesn’t go to church. It gave her another reason (in her mind) to reject the Gospel and stay agnostic.

      • Andrew Reavis

        Here are a couple quotes directly from a letter our 14 year old wrote to some family and church elders sharing her heart after the way she saw her mom treated by them.

        “That was the first of many terrifying times that people came in and we hid. Because of this, and the many other things that happened to us for all those months, I never wish to return to the GB [German Baptist] world. Trust me, you would never, NEVER, like to be in the situation you have put us in many times.”

        “As we have come out of all that, and we have opened our eyes to the truth, I have found much more freedom and peace in the “world” than I ever found in the German Baptist church.”

        ‘Church’ has left a very bad taste.

    • Rest assured, OutOfTheFog, Persistent Widow is in a safe church now, and has kicked the dust off her feet from all those wicked PCA leaders and their allies at PeachyMakers. She is now in the LCMS and immensely happy there.

  13. cindy burrell

    This pattern of spiritual/pastoral abuse seems all too common. I suppose it is easy to overlook, diminish or condemn that which has never been experienced. The enemy is alive and well, leading worship, misleading the flock and keeping the innocent in bondage.

    I commend the writer for having the fortitude to relive this horrible experience by writing about it. That is not an easy thing to do. But those on the outside need to understand how twisted and horrific her experience was – and how this kind of oppressive leadership continues to impact the lives of countless others just like her. It’s just plain sick.

  14. Barnabasintraining

    All I could think while reading this was “here we have the banality and insidiousness of evil.” As well as the preposterousness of it. What do you say to a group that cannot comprehend that adultery needs to be discovered and confronted — I mean, for crying out loud we have verses for this! — but thinks it’s appropriate to harangue you for unsubmissively asking about a missing piece of valuable jewelry?

    These people do these things in God’s name? This is how they think justice is done in God’s kingdom? Wow. Not seeing how His kingdom is any improvement over the enemy’s! They look like one and the same to me. 😦

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barnabas – exactly. “Here, let us help you. We are going to fix you and your marriage. Come and spend some days with us. Oh, and be sure and bring $3000.” What is the word I am thinking of? Ripoff? Fraud? Malpractice? And those are some of the nicer ones.

  15. Still Reforming

    Wow. Where to begin? You hit the nail on the head right off the bat with this: “The elders decided to send the matter to Peacemakers Counseling for mediation. I had done some research and discovered that mediation was not advised in cases of abuse and I told them that I believed that it would only be appropriate if he was confronted by the church and repentant.”

    I didn’t read anywhere in this account (maybe I missed it?) where the church leaders ever called your ex-husband to repentance. And the weight of the burden was place on you, the target of his abuse, to make this right.

    The fact that there’s money involved for this Biblical counseling is extremely offensive. I don’t mind if donations were voluntary, but requiring a fee for this kind of affair makes me nauseous. Frankly, if your husband had been sitting in church all this time and still had this kind of behavior that you documented, then what’s the point of counseling anyway? And if he hadn’t been sitting in church with you, that should give the counselors an inkling that they’re dealing with an unsaved man.

    I’m also extremely offended that they leaders didn’t accept your 10-page list of abusive incidents. It’s like the leaders had no relationship with you prior to your handing them this list and were therefore dubious. (I had the same thing happen and it galls me that these leaders didn’t mind my teaching their children week after week on Sundays and Wednesdays for years, but when I came forth with this problem – not that they hadn’t ever seen me teary before – then they were dubious about my report.) All of a sudden, it’s like I was a person off the street making claims they couldn’t verify me. (My pastor told me more than once, “Well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t there.”)

    PW, your report is really eye-opening, although nothing truly new to many of us, but I have shared your posts on social media and been told by Christian women friends that it brings tears to their eyes, because they know of what you write.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Still Reforming, I don’t know of any time that my husband was asked to repent. The goal seemed to be to find ways to change his offensive behavior, but not his heart. And yes, the fact that this service is so overpriced and poorly handled is offensive. Unfortunately, Peacemakers has quite a racket going because if the church wasn’t forcing people to go, they wouldn’t. Since attendance is mandatory to appease the church and they don’t have competition, they can set their prices however they wish. I am glad that the information is beneficial. Had I know about this beforehand, I wouldn’t have gone.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        TPW,
        Peacemakers sounds a lot to me like Retrouvaille, a Catholic marriage counseling program. A dear friend who is Catholic recommended it to me, although I am not Catholic. She seemed impressed with it at the time (about 2 years ago), not that her husband was helped. They divorced last year, and he’s already threatening to drag her into court to take the kids away from her. He also hasn’t paid one cent in child support. She called me two days ago seeking counsel for legal help, but given my current situation, I couldn’t recommend my attorneys…. So much seems to depend on the judge anyway.

      • thepersistentwidow

        Still Reforming, I am not surprised that Peacemakers reminds you of the Catholic marriage counseling program. There is a huge burden of works-righteousness laid on Christians by Peacemakers that we will be exploring later in this series.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Since attendance is mandatory to appease the church…

        …but you have to pay for it. Does that really need a comment?

      • Still Reforming

        Barnabasintraining,

        You know, it really doesn’t need a comment perhaps, but you make the point so well in very few words. That’s what I need to learn to do – make cogent points with fewer words. Yet as they say, “The devil is in the details.” That is SO true in many ways in our testimonies here. So many tents of flesh with dead man’s bones in them walk around the Lord’s house with their hands over their ears.

  16. Persis

    TPW:

    This is horrible. Where is the defense of the widow and orphan and the helpless? Would they have told a juvenile victim that his/her sin contributed to the abuse? Justice is kicked out the door by sin leveling because if everyone is at fault in some way, no one was really wronged and all share the blame. What a sick distortion of God’s holy justice.

    Thank you for being so brave to share your story. I hope it goes far and wide and pulls back the curtain on the “help” that is being offered to the abused.

  17. joepote01

    TPW – How awful! So…basically, the church elders, lacking any wisdom whatsoever in regard to how to deal with abuse, decided the best course of action was to further abuse the victim…

    Totally disgusted!

    You are a strong and courageous woman!

    • Still Reforming

      I agree, Joe. TPW is a very strong and courageous woman. I am learning that courage and bravery is not a lack of fear, but of standing up and doing the right thing in spite of it. TPW has been greatly courageous standing up against the church in a consistent and sustained manner over time. She helps many by her example. It’s not easy first drawing the line in one’s home only to have to redraw it over and over again for the church and also attorneys. In God’s strength alone can we stand.

  18. L. Lawrence

    It strikes me that everyone wanted so desperately to pin this on PW, or at least make it seem like she shared responsibility. Is Peacemakers a Reformed organization? Everyone I’ve met who aligns themselves with Reformed theology appear to hate/disdain women. Has that been anyone else’s experience?

    • Survivor70

      The two reformed denominations I am most familiar with are Reformed Baptist and PCA. Both are very similar on their views on women’s roles in leadership in the church. However, in the RBC I attended for many years, the leadership was committed to pursuing justice and godliness and they called a spade a spade. If a man sinned against his wife through abuse, he was quickly brought under the discipline of the church. They are very no-nonsense. On the other hand, the PCA seems to be an old boys’ club that protects their own (i.e. men). And many churches are also developing a “culture of cool” where the artists and writers and poets and hipsters are especially revered as long as they talk a lot about Being Reformed and enjoying craft beers and cigars.

    • Innoscent

      TPW, reading the mental agony you had to go through makes me angry! I can picture you at the mediation room as if being in a torture chamber… So revolting and sickening!
      That whole “mediation process” is a mockery, total sham. I perceive how the male leadership look down on you a woman, an inferior being to be tamed into submission and obedience to their Pharisaic rules and concepts.
      Some of the things you describe so poignantly I have been through and heard by pastors and elders when in anguish I was pleading for their help, but thank God I managed to avoid being dragged to a church mediatory council where I knew my husband would have charmed everyone with his satanic spell, and my situation would have been even worse then.

      I praise God you are in a better place now and have survived to tell of your story and help other victims. 🙂

    • Still Reforming

      I wouldn’t call it “hate/disdain” of women so much as it seems to be oppression in the form of “appropriate roles.” I find it hard to assume the hatred of all women as much as I suspect it’s just an arrogant, haughty spirit seeking to oppress and rule over others. Women just happen to be an easy target because (1) they’re readily at hand in the home and willing to serve, (2) their emotions make them easy prey because they can be painted as ‘hysterical, overly emotional, hormonal,’ etc, (3) Scriptures related to roles can be easily twisted and perverted to serve the goals of the oppressor, and (4) Reformed theology has a strong historical basis, and that could – as I suspect – lend itself to earlier times when women may not have had the opportunities they do today.

      Not sure about that last one, but it’s possible. Several women mentioned in Scripture not only had jobs (Deborah the judge, Lydia the seller of purple dye) but also served important roles in the redemption story (Rahab helped the spies, Jael killed Sisera with the spike, Abigail helped avert disaster by forewarning David about her foolish husband’s plot, the women at the tomb of Christ who first saw Him risen).

      I don’t know why there would be a connection between Reformed theology and any perversion of Scripture’s view of women, but I guess I’d tend to not cast the stone toward the theology as much as in the direction of unGodly men who want to control others and find women to be easy and readily available targets. Add to that the fact that if women don’t take the time to really exegete the Word properly (perhaps due to very busy schedules with raising children and/or working out of the home), these women rely on the men’s interpretations – and if these men aren’t challenged about their views, the women may believe them. A sad state of affairs indeed.

    • Jeff Crippen

      L.Lawrence – It has not been my experience. It depends on the particular pastor, elders and church. I know reformed baptist pastors who would discipline a man for abuse for sure, and I think the biggest problem in RB’s is ignorance of the nature of abuse. Another big problem in reformed churches is plain old legalism. Is that the fault of Reformed theology? That’s a debate, but I know that in our church, years ago, the legalism crept up on us through men who were legalists themselves. They prided themselves in how they ruled over their wife and families, how they had a plan for everything – clothes, schooling, devotions, work – every area of life. Of course we are all called to glorify Christ in everything we do, but these guys pursued it by pressing their opinions and choices on everyone else and saying you MUST do things our way.

      • Thank you all for your responses, you’ve given me some things to think on. I did not know the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America?) was Reformed. That is interesting to me. I attended a PCUSA church for many years and they had no problem with women in leadership and pastor roles.

        I guess I’m a little more emotional about this as I have a friend going through some hard times in her church. She expressed frustration that other male leaders and even male Bible group partners (not her husband, fellow church members) were actively ignoring her because of gender. Her church is Reformed Baptist.

      • Yes, the PCA referred to in this series of post is the Presbyterian Church in America. The denomination follows Reformed theology and has as its subsidiary document of faith (below the Bible) the Westminster Confession.

        The PCUSA is the biggest liberal version of Presbyterianism in America. There used to be one very large denomination of Presbyterians in the nation of America, but the liberals in that group split from the conservative & Reformed folk back in (?) the 1970 or 80s. (In America there are also a few smallish denominations of Presbyterians, that go by different names again, I don’t want to offend them by making it look like they don’t exist.)

        Unimportant side-note: the acronym PCA can also stand for the Presbyterian Church of Australia, a denomination which is similar theologically to the Presbyterian Church in America. In Australia in there was a similar splt in presbyterianism at about the same time of the split in the USA. In Oz, the liberals formed the Uniting Church by uniting the liberal Presbyterians with most of the Methodists and all the Congregationalists.

  19. sheisovercoming

    This is so much like my experience. Only one of our nouthetic counselors – the pastor – told me that my husband was a good catch, and there were lots of women in his church who would want to go after him. They also blamed 15 year old son, because he stood up for me against his dad’s verbal abuse. It was a nightmare I hope someday we will recover from.

    • Hi sheisovercoming, welcome to the blog 🙂

      a good catch, eh? ….. aarrrgh

    • Jeff Crippen

      Sheisovercoming – Some people think a shark is a great catch. That pastor had formed a boys’ club in that church – no women really allowed. Oh yeah! Let’s see, his concept of his congregation is that a lot of the women in it really wanted to go after another woman’s husband. Let’s see now, that means the pastor’s concept of women is that they are always lookin’ for a man. Translated – that they would love to have HIM! The guy is on a total ego feed, loving the worship of the sheep.

      • sheisovercoming

        Well, he ended up committing adultery with a lady in the church, and I got labeled unsubmissive for not returning to him. After all, he is a man and has needs.

  20. StandsWithAFist

    I am struck by one more thing, something that has come up before here on ACFJ:

    The “List”. The dang, dreaded list, the one that took 45 minutes to read aloud. The phone calls list, 15 pages. The lists the so-called mediators needed to “make peace” (or “peach” as Barbara said).
    I’ll bet every one of us here at some time or other have been ‘obedient’ to make a list at the request of the abuser/allies. Yet here is another pathetic example of being exploited & betrayed by that list. They take that list and turn it into a weapon.

    Beware the list…Learn from these stories & never make one.
    And blessings on you again, TPW.

    • Innoscent

      SWAF, so true! The list… Just recently I was asked to supply an elder with a list of my H’s typical abusive behaviours with some examples/incidents. I sensed his actions might be downplayed and reinterpreted by the elder who was not knowledgeable about abuse. My Christian counselor advised me against providing such a list as it would be turned against me and added the elder needed to educate himself regarding abuse in the first place.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Innoscent,

        You had a good Christian counselor. I’m learning that educating others is a long, slow, laborious and repetitive process. Even my attorney said to me, “I don’t think it’s abuse; It’s just a country boy thing – demanding to be in charge or control.” I referred him to the Super Bowl DA ad, which he had seen. I told him that it’s not a country thing; It’s a control thing. It’s a bully thing – to the point of abuse. Abuse of power. Abuse of authority. Abuse of another’s following Christ, which ultimately is the real battle.

      • Innoscent

        SR, I am grateful to God for providing a Christian counselor who knows about abuse inside out and is my sounding board. It’s been exhausting to go through abusive onslaught all my life and now that I am free, I find that I need to keep my energy to rebuild my whole life, and so I don’t have the energy and time to educate people who have not done their homework, and worse, pretend they know: pastors, elders, attorneys and the like.
        It sounds like you need to find another attorney..?

    • joepote01

      Good point, SWAF!

      The requirement of a list would seem a good indicator that things are taking a legalistic turn…

  21. survivorthrivor2

    PW…a disgusting display of regurgitated Christianity! I am so, so sorry for all that you have endured. How is it that men get such a pass in the face of undeniable evil? I do not understand it and never will.

    I sat in the office of my (so called) Pastor, (I was about 26 with 2 small children) asked him when he looked at me, what did he see? He said, well, a wife, mother, Christian woman, etc. I said to him, well, let me tell you who I really am, I am an abused wife and my children are abused, too. I cannot describe the courage it took for me to make that appointment, go in there and actually admit that for the first time in my life – to ANYONE! And, silly me, I expected to get help, to be believed, and for him to do something about it and rescue my children & I. I was NOT believed, I was NOT helped, and I was patronized and sent home. I was absolutely mortified! And very scared about what was going to happen next. The next week, my h told me that the very same Pastor had called him and asked him to be a member of the worship team. WHAT? I actually could not believe that my h said yes! Boy, was I naive! I was devastated and so confused, it blind-sided me and I didn’t know what to do, so I retreated back in my shell and the abuse continued and probably worsened.

    I just saw that same pastor not too long ago, and it angers me so much. I just want to go up to him and ask him, why and how could you do that to me and my children? It haunts me to this day…..

    • Jeff Crippen

      Survivorth – Your experience is, as you know now, sickeningly typical. There are some exceptions where the victim is believed and helped, but what happened to you is still a plague in the churches. Willful blindness. That is what that pastor exercised. The thought that what you were telling him was true and what the implications of that would be for him, for his church – well, his brain refused to go there. But Christ commands us, especially pastors, to go there! And not only did this guy refuse to help you, he aggravated his sin by calling on a wicked man to lead God’s people in worship. The OT accounts of how the Lord viewed wicked priests in the tabernacle/temple tells us what the Lord thinks of what that pastor did. The thing is all too common. How many churches today have leaders up front on Sundays putting on the “holy show” when in fact they are children of the devil.

  22. rosewaters

    thats horrifying!!!!! Your story makes me SO relieved that I didn’t end up going there, as was suggested by a well meaning pastor.
    Even doing peacemakers as conflict resolution in a pastoral session didn’t work – there was that same reaction. Denying my story and putting the blame onto me without being pulled up by anyone.
    Luckily I saw a DV counsellor who agreed I should stop going to see them.

    • Hi rosewaters, welcome to the blog, and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  23. downtheroad.(and free and flourishing)!!

    Hi Persistant Widow, i am so shocked that you had to go through this,with people you trusted, who you trusted to do the best for you and your family,I am sometimes ashamed to call myself “Christian” when this aligns myself with the people who treat you like this …

  24. There is NOTHING “Christianity” about this church’s response to PW. This is CHURCHIANITY, plain and simple. Christ is nowhere to be found in churchianity.

  25. emmellkaycee

    Someone mentioned leaving the church and never setting foot in another one due to the experiencing these kinds of pastoral/leadership evils… count me another of those women. So traumatized was I for my own churchianity experience, as well as seeing similar ‘leadership’ abuses prepetrated against another – a husband that time – that I left and have never been back. God provides me my needed Body of Christ in other ways than a “brick and mortar.”

    BTW – in less than a handful of years later, that ‘church’ ceased to exist, after having been a congregation for more than 60 years. I am blessed God got me out before having to experience their full meltdown.

  26. a prodigal daughter returns

    I took secular mediators training in which one of our trainers commented “I wonder if we really should avoid mediation between people where domestic violence has occurred” He was concerned about subtle manipulation and coercion and women that gave too much ground too easily because of a history of being run over. I also noted that mediators are to be absolutely neutral taking no sides, yet the act of mediation with an abuser covertly takes a side. It takes a side by implying that there is anything honorable about the abusers intentions in showing up at a mediation. There isn’t. There is only “win or lose” and the abuser is out to charm a mediator and seduce them that this thing they are mediating actually involved a relationship

    Much like wise counselors know there is no “marriage” counseling in an abusive pseudo-relationship. (just crime victim support). Giving the marriage the name “relationship” is like calling the interaction between a rape victim and her rapist a “relationship”.

    Lastly, in my life domestic violence “pastoral” counseling involved making the situation far worse. I went for help twice. The first time I went for help after some severe beatings I was told “if you were my wife I’d beat you too” stated in front of my batterer whose battering substantial increased after that permission to abuse was granted. I was an incredibly shy, mousy obedient woman into submitting whatever my monster husband wanted I didn’t even have an opinion that didn’t originate from him. The pastors wife was a vivacious, gorgeous, dyed blond fashion plate so I think he was taking his intimidation about his own wife out on me

    The second time I was actually in hiding, in a camper in someone’s back yard when the pastor contacted me to meet him at the church where my abuser was. Abuser got on his knees in front of the pastor apologizing stating tearfully how sorry he was he’d been overworked and taken his frustration out on me (without admitting choking me into near unconsciousness) The pastor turned to me and said “well, aren’t you going to forgive him and go home, what more do you need”. I went home, 3 years later on increasingly horrific abuse I attempted suicide because I thought it was the only way out and my life meant nothing to God (the clergy made that clear as the only thing that seemed to matter was keeping abusers happy, after all Man was created in God’s image and woman brought the fall)

    • Jeff Crippen

      Prodigal Returns – Any way to get that pastor criminally charged? He needs to go to jail and get sued. I wish we could one day sort out some way to put stories like yours on the blog and actually name the names of the perpetrators and their “church.” The problem is it would take hard evidence to do that – like if victims had a tape recorder playing, taking down the actual words.

    • thepersistentwidow

      A Prodigal Daughter Returns, I read your story and am in grief. So sorry that you endured this pain and suffering at the hands of your church and I hope that you have since found peace away from your persecutors. There is a toxic false teaching in Reformed churches especially in which divorce is not permitted if the abuser says he’s sorry and abuse is not grounds for divorce-even in a life threatening scenario as you endured.

      It is satanic doctrine and practice used against God’s lambs and it has survived under the radar for too long. We need to work together to expose this evil.

      Thanks for sharing your story. It is an impetus for us to continue the fight.

      God bless.

    • StandsWithAFist

      Prodigal Returns: I too am so sorry for what you went thru. It was (and prob still) is traumatic, demoralizing, horrific & utterly unnecessary.
      I say “unnecessary” b/c it seems clear to me how hard you tried, & how much you have learned and how far you have come.
      I also want to encourage you, in that, as I read your story, in all its ugliness, YOU came thru as the one who wanted peace, who truly wanted to do the right thing, the honorable thing.
      But you were raped with words, & your metaphor of a rape victim having any kind of relationship with the rapist is spot on.
      The church is full of “platitude preachers” who fail to see that. Or, who choose NOT to see it . I know…..b/c if they DID see it, perhaps they would stop expecting victims to make peace with unrepentant rapists.
      Having said that, bear with me as I tell the story of a large mega-church who reached out to the local Police Dept after several “peace officers” (apologies to Ps. Jeff) literally beat a homeless, schizophrenic man to death. Why? B/C they were tired of dealing with him. But more importantly, they beat him b/c they could. They knew they would get away with it. (And they did). The culture of this PD was so corrupt that assaulting this young man was acceptable. Needless to say, loud, prolonged & dramatic protests of the citizens erupted, the story went national & there were no “winners”.
      But the Church was silent, deafeningly silent.
      So, I asked the local church leadership, point blank, if they had reached out to this victim’s family? Had they met with them, or even contacted them? The answer? No–but they HAD reached out to the PD. They had reached out to the “rapist”. That blew my mind: then I learned that the church organized a luncheon for the entire PD (at City Hall) to reassure them that the church “valued them”. The church valued the monsters but not the victim! There was no luncheon for the victims family; no meals or casseroles, the church did not even offer to provide a funeral.
      The church did not validate the victim, or his grieving family. After all, they needed to “build relationships” with the PD (translation: make allies of them). After all, “mental illness is scary” & so the PD needed “spiritual guidance” after this ‘unfortunate’ incident.
      Ready to puke yet? How many times have we all been accused of being mentally ill by our abusers? How many times has the ‘super pastor’ capitulated to the abuser, b/c after all “I would have beaten you too”? How many times has the church chosen to save face & label it as ‘forgiveness’, while condemning the victim for ‘holding a grudge’?
      This church identified FIRST with the abuser, (the rapist) but the victim was irrelevant, incidental & devalued. He was mentally ill, you know, and he was so much trouble. Like the “woman created AFTER the man” he was of lesser value. It wasn’t even their fault, he drove them to it. They can’t really be blamed for this–I mean, it was really his fault. (Never mind that he was homeless, harmless & had never hurt anyone).
      So the church became allies of the poor pitiful peace officers who “gang raped” an innocent, unarmed man….b/c they knew they could.
      Red flag alert:
      Those whose ’empathy’ or compassion is directed at/for an abuser rather than the victim, are themselves abusive.
      Those whose knee-jerk reaction is to identify primarily with the abuser at the expense of the victim further reveal their dark hearts.
      Those who fall for the crocodile tears & Oscar-worthy performance of a predator need to grow a spine & reject the factious, deceitful man.
      That was your experience, PR. The church was abusive. They failed to have compassion or empathy for you, choosing instead to feel sorry for the sick perp pretending to be a saint.
      But you are here! You found your way here; You have a strength & a voice that was not silenced. Yes, at a tremendous cost, but your bravery & courage are remarkable. You have discernment & wisdom, evidenced by what you wrote.
      You are not the problem. You were never the problem. THEY are.
      So glad you told your story here. Keep telling it. Keep speaking. Stay safe.

      • Still Reforming

        StandsWithAFist,

        Excellent testimony of the “peace officer” story with respect to the “church” coming to “rescue” the perp and “love him to Christ.” Let’s put that into perspective:

        A woman is mugged, raped, and left on the side of the road bloodied and beaten, left for dead. The pastor of a local church sees this woman on this road, but is on his way to church. Walking by the woman who reaches out to the pastor, he looks down upon her, but he hasn’t time to stop because he’s simply got to go find that perpetrator who needs the Lord. He can’t stop to help the soul bleeding on the ground when there’s a soul to be saved!

        Next a deacon or elder passes her by. Again, with her last ounce of strength, she musters up the word, “Help!” and reaches out to him. But… there surely must be someone who caused this train wreck. The deacon must find the poor man to sidle up to him and see if he can “win him to Christ.”

        Perhaps that woman ought to go home and clean herself up. If she looks good enough, maybe she can meet that poor man and in her submissiveness win him to Christ.

        Finally the pastor of a small church in a small community comes by and starts a website through which he can reach through the portal and lift that woman off the ground, clean her up with sound exegesis of the Word of the Lord who loves this woman because He is a God of justice, which has been forsaken by the ‘church leaders’ who passed her by. This particular pastor gathers up others like her who have been beaten, bloodied and trampled upon by busy passing pastors and leaders in the “church.” Therein the woman eventually learns how to regain some semblance of self and strength. She slowly begins to lift her head out of and above that fog, learns to walk again, and eventually is delivered out of the wilderness where she can go and worship the Lord in peace as she used to.

    • a prodigal daughter returns

      Jeff, criminally charging these ministers would be very nice. However, I’ve learned as a DV survivor, that charmers can pervert justice and truth falls on the street, trampled by whoever has the most power or money to buy justice. I could share my experience in court with an abuser where I was stomped but that is another story.
      Both pastors were popular and well liked which always makes injustice seem more so. Yes, men surround them, naysayers are discredited– there is no hope this side of heaven for repercussions particularly because it has been years now. I sent a message to both men about the tremendously negative repercussions in my life and my children’s lives (none of whom will darken the door of a church) and got no reply. Silence, no apologies, no acknowledgment. But God knows.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        A Prodigal Daughter Returns,

        I appreciate your statement: “no hope this side of heaven for repercussions,” which is not to say we shouldn’t try. I believe it is our responsibility to do so, however I’m sensing the same thing. This side of Glory, His saints suffer. Satan is the ruler of this world, having been cast out of heaven.

        Where I struggle is – as a Christian – am I supposed to pray for my abuser? For how long? Forever until I die? I prayed for more than a decade. I’m done praying for his salvation. Is that wrong as a Christian?

        And what is the place of imprecatory prayer? Are those prayers for us to utter too? I am praying that my abuser trip himself up in court. I know there’s something like that uttered in the Psalms. That the evil-doer would be caught in his own web – and I hope before the judge even though this judge is not the ultimate Judge of all judges. Does that make me a “bad Christian”?

        Once I’m down the road further in this trial, I want to study “forgiveness” more – and “imprecatory prayers” to understand how we are to pray and our responsibility as Christians in the face of such evil.

      • joepote01

        Still Reforming –

        Speaking from my personal experience, I recall very vividly when the Holy Spirit told me I was released from praying for the woman to whom I was previously married. One morning in my prayer time, He spoke to my heart, “Joe, you’re released from praying for her. That is no longer your burden to carry. Her well-being and salvation are between me and her, now. You focus on praying for those with whom you are in relationship.”

        I’m not saying that fits every situation…just sharing my own experience…

      • we have a tag for praying for the abuser

      • Still Reforming

        Oh, thank you, Barbara!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Valerie

        SR, that very thing has been on my mind for awhile and I’ve wrestled with it immensely. I, too, prayed fervently for my husband…more recently that God would work in his life in such a way that he would be saved. Yet now I can’t help but wonder if I am not praying what God would have me pray. I read in Jeremiah multiple times God told Jeremiah NOT to pray for those God would bring punishment on. On the other hand we know God desires all to come to Him and be saved. Then the pendulum swings the other way once again and I question if I am upholding God’s honor by praying for the eternal good for someone who has mocked our Lord and completely disregarded every attempt to lead him to Christ…all the while professing he is in fact a Christian. Isn’t it those (those who professed to be right with God who were nothing but and refused to hear any other counsel) that God is angry toward? I could write much more about the thoughts that plague my mind. I am so tired and weary from all this. I pray that once I get to the other side and am completely away from my abuser that I find some relief.

      • Still Reforming

        Valerie,

        My understanding about God’s desire that “all be saved” – if you’re referring to 1 Timothy 2:4 (“who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”) – is that God desires people from ALL NATIONS, not that every single person in the world be saved. Because if God did want “all people” in the sense of every individual, well, couldn’t He surely save everyone being the almighty omnipotent God, Creator of the world? It makes more sense to me that God desires people from all nations, as He told Abraham way back in Genesis that through Abraham all people would be blessed. And throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation we see this (Ruth was a Moabite and she the great great grandmother to David, Job was not a Hebrew, some Egyptians came out with Moses during the exodus, Rahab, Joseph’s wife in Egypt was an Egyptian, making their sons not fully Hebrew/Israelite, etc). So even though through Abraham God chose a people and Jews are often referred to as “God’s chosen people,” it is true that God has chosen a people and children unto Himself to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and that is how I understand that verse. HTH.

        Re: praying for my husband, I think I’ve been so torn since learning in churches where headship and male leadership has been misused that I’m war-torn and weary right now. I lead a group for a year in my home “Praying for our husbands” (from the Stormy O’Martian group) and not one single marriage from that group changed for the better. Quite the opposite in fact. It makes me wonder. Was I praying as God would have had me pray? Or was I just regurgitating what I heard in church and read in these Christian books? I know better now about O’Martian’s book – at least for situations of abuse as I am now leaving.

        I’m just wondering about how to pray for him – as he remains unrepentant. I do not think I am bound to pray for him anymore. But I do wonder about praying to have him trip up – not for any sake of vengeance, not at all – but for the sake of protecting our child. And yet, I always find myself ending or midway through prayer asking for God to incline my heart toward His for His goals and purposes in this trial – to incline me to seek His glory as well as the good of His people (which include my daughter and me).

      • Valerie

        SR, yes, you are correct that the passage that comes to mind is 1 Tim 2:4. In it the word used is anthropous (men) and not ethnos (nations). Ethnos is used elsewhere in Timothy to refer to nations. Perhaps my interpretation is still lacking but it seems to be in agreement with the character of God that He would desire all to come to repentance. He would have had no need nor desire to turn from His wrath on those nations who turned against Him yet He relented when they humbled themselves. His sovereignty could indeed allow all men to share in His glory, but he has given free will to all men. Free will is the highest love. He would have desired all people throughout the scriptures to fully obey Him in all things and yet He allowed them to disobey. He had the power and authority to carry out His desire for full obedience but does not exercise it due to His gift of free will. That’s my understanding anyway.

      • Still Reforming

        Valerie –

        I understand. Certainly the character of God is a loving, merciful one, which can only be if He is also a God of justice and Law.

        You wrote: ” it seems to be in agreement with the character of God that He would desire all to come to repentance.”

        My understanding is that God’s character is one of accepting those who repent, and yet we find verses like this: “As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:13) That verse to me affirms God’s sovereign choice as the Potter and we the clay. This makes sense to me in light of similar verses such as “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.” (2 Timothy 2:20) and “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:21)

        In other words, we – all humans – are God’s to do with as He pleases. He is a loving and kind and merciful God, but righteous and holy and just as well. I suppose this isn’t the place for a Reformed versus non-Reformed perspective, but I certainly agree with you that our God is merciful and kind when we as His children do not deserve it, but He granted us His mercy anyway.

        Reformed theology is what makes sense to me as I read God’s Word, however it has been difficult this past year as the heat of trial intensified and the church by and large was not there for me. I am now in a non-Reformed church (just starting there – gingerly and slowly) and to my great comfort, I am among more loving people – or so it would seem. They seem to understand my trial and support me and my child. I believe God is providing people around me at a time most needed – and I know some are praying. I know this not only from their telling me, but from a sense of peace which washes over me with amazing revelation at the most surprising times. My husband can take my home. He can take my money. He can even to some extent take great swaths of time (if not downright custody) of our child. But he can never touch my salvation. He can never touch the eternity I’ll spend with my Lord and Savior. And he can never touch our child’s salvation, no matter how much he messes with her head and heart. And that is my great comfort that the Lord has given me today.

        Sorry. Got off track there a bit. I’m just a jumble lately.

    • Still Reforming

      apdr,
      I agree with Jeff; Your pastor was an accessory to the crime. You may not have a tape recording of his saying he would have beat you too or his coercing you to go back into the hands of a batterer, but the Lord does. I used to hate it when people would tell me what I just said. I’ve heard Mother’s Day sermons that said as much. “Moms, you may think that you’re never being heard or that you’re talking and no one’s listening, but Jesus hears you.” I used to hate that – it was like it was an excuse for the men or husbands to not listen; After all, “Jesus listens. That’s good enough. We don’t have to.” But now, after living through marital abuse and that of the church, I cherish knowing that the Lord hears even when others don’t – and that the Lord has given me this family here on this website and a few select others. Very few, but always sufficient. His grace is sufficient.

  27. The PCA has had problems for some time. Here is one minister, Tony Phelps who has resigned from it to join a different Presbyterian denomination. http://theaquilareport.com/grateful-and-grieved-my-goodbye-to-the-pca/

    He resigned from the PCA for a number of reasons one of which he explains as follows:

    Ultimately, though, my confessional concerns translate into pastoral concerns. Presbyters (elders) are supposed to protect the flock from potential wolves, especially those who would speak twisted things and cause the sheep spiritual harm. Because the PCA has failed to be meaningfully confessional, it has failed to be faithfully pastoral in protecting the flock.

    Now, Tony Phelps in this article is not talking about the PCA’s failure to rightly deal with domestic abusers and victims of domestic abuse. He’s referring to the PCA’s toleration of pastors who subscribe to Federal Vision theology. But to my mind, the PCA’s tolerance of poor pastors in its ranks has other implications as well, and Persistent Widow’s story of being mistreated [understatement] by the PCA is a very good example of how the PCA does not deal properly with leaders who are failing to protect the flock from potential wolves. This will become more apparent in the later posts in this series by Persistent Widow.

    • thepersistentwidow

      It is interesting because the Presbytery assigned Jeffrey Meyers to my case and he delivered the decision to me. More about Meyers here: http://theaquilareport.com/letter-of-charges-sent-to-missouri-presbytery/

      • So the Presbytery assigned Pastor Jeffrey Meyers to Persistent Widow’s case — a pastor who follows Federal Vision theology. That’s like sending King Saul (a leader who had given himself over to an evil spirit) to investigate the wicked sons of Eli. Let me guess: Jeffrey Meyers sided with the wicked sons — PW’s pastor and elders.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Jeffrey Meyers. I mean, who is he? What I mean is, who is he or others like him to even be in a position to give a “ruling” on an abuse case, the nature of which he knows nothing about. Nothing. You have these man-made structures of hierarchy like presbyteries (regional councils made up of I believe pastors/elders from churches in that region) most all of whom as we know have no expertise or training regarding abuse, yet these are the guys giving these rulings. It has been my experience that certainly in the micro-denomination Presbyterian churches, members are scared to death of being ex-communicated, put on trial, and so on. I’ve heard the victims and I have heard the talk of the judges. They issue subpoenas, the cite their minute procedural rules as law, and in the end they justify the wicked and hang the innocent out to dry. And that is exactly what the Missouri Presbytery did when they were forced to try Meyers himself on federal vision doctrinal aberrations. They justified and exonerated him.

  28. outofthefog

    I am just in absolute sadness at the stories I am hearing. How can this be so prevalent? How can we still have so far to go as women and as women in the church? It makes me sick.
    For so many years, as I lived with my abusing spouse, and he spouted his patriarchal, hateful, oppressive, chauvinistic views, beliefs, words, attitudes, actions – I just always bristled at the things he said.
    I cringed when he would say obey or submit or your my wife I am entitled……I thought it was me. I thought this internal abhorrence to what he said was further evidence of an unredeemed soul as he so often shouted at me.
    How could a good christian wife be so bothered by what her husband professed, believed & lorded over her???
    I seriously saw this as yet another issue I needed to resolve and become more godly so I would be the obedient wife I was called to be.
    When I first started to see a glimpse of what I might be going through and I started hearing from other women and a few truly godly men – I started seeing all his words, claims, chauvinism, sexism, vileness, abusiveness, scripture weilding for what it was…. completely contrary to God and His nature.
    For the first time I started to feel that the check in my spirit might have actually been placed there by the Holy Spirit. I started to feel free from his words.
    I read these stories and I just want to shout from the mountaintops that words & actions done by these so-called men of God are false, they are from the pits of hell. I want to go into these churches and start a revolution.
    I pray for the current, prevalent, status-quo to be rocked and dismantled. I pray that for our daughters and our sons. I pray that they will raise up a new generation that seeks to honor the Lord by word & deed and they will see women as God intended, not as the object of man to be used and abused.

    • raswhiting

      An excellent prayer! Amen.

      • standsfortruth

        Yes, Yes, and Yes, in agreement to all three of those righteous prayers Outofthefog.
        We must engage in groundbreaking warfare today that will set the captives free, in order to establish a better tomorrow for our children.

  29. Jul

    I am just utterly speechless! And angry!!!!! This is despicable behavior by so called Christians!!!! I am so sorry you went through this!

  30. Kelly

    My heart is so broken for you! This is so unfair. I am so sorry you had to endure this. So thankful our God hears the cry of the oppressed, even when his people don’t.

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