A Cry For Justice

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

Real life examples of pastoral advice to victims of domestic abuse, for our readers to analyse

Here are some things that pastors have said to victims of domestic abuse. We invite our readers to analyse their pastoral advice. Pick one or more of these examples and tell us what you see. What are the truths and the falsehoods? Are there any correct statements of doctrine? Faulty doctrines? Euphemisms? Misunderstandings? Wrong attribution of blame and responsibility? Does anything strike you about the tone and language the pastors have used? And if you are pointing out a wrong idea, you might like to say how you would rebut that wrong idea.

We have not made any of this up. We compiled this list from accounts from readers of this blog. Pastoral guidance is in italics. Back-story and post-advice material is in plain font. Trigger warning.

Example 1   Real change is hard and takes a great deal of hard work.  Abusers have options for treatment. Your husband is taking those options – succeeding at times and failing at times.  As long as he is trying, there is hope for real change.  

Example 2  I have helped lots of guys get over anger and I am sure I could help your husband get over his completely if you would help.  He is very open to doing what I ask.  It would be a shame to waste it.  1 Peter 3 would be good meditation verses for now for you.

Example 3  It is never right to give up on anyone. Jesus wants to save everyone and he can. It is wrong for us to put an abuser out of the church. He says he is a Christian and we must take him at his confession. 

Example 4  If a husband or father is provoked by his wife or daughter then it is understandable that he lash out at her sometimes, and in that case the lashing out isn’t wrong.

Example 5  You are wrong to invoke the civil authorities by filing for divorce, because your marriage problems are to be handled only in the church.
The victim was the only one ever put under church discipline, not her abusive (ex)husband. And even though the consistory finally came to the point of saying the husband was abusive, they also said he “wasn’t abusive enough” for the victim to have Biblical grounds for divorce. And in fact they wanted her and her children to go back to him – even after they had “washed their hands of him” because he wouldn’t listen to them.

Example 6  You are not allowed to separate from your husband, because how would you ever know if he had changed if you did not continue to live with him? You are not even to put a boundary in place; that is our job, if we think it needs to be done. 

Example 7  The only two reasons for divorce are adultery and abandonment by a non-believing spouse.

Example 8  If you read Jesus’ words in Matthew 19, He doesn’t allow divorce for adultery. Jesus’ words are: “whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” The wife already was an adulteress – due to the words “except sexual immorality” — so the husband wasn’t causing her to commit adultery because she already was an adulteress.
The leaders would also preach Hosea, who was married to the harlot – so there was never ever a way out other than death.

Example 9  I’ve reconsidered my position on divorce.  I realize now that God can use divorce as a tool for reconciliation.

Example 10  Never give up on anyone.

Example 11  If you divorce, you will be miserable for the rest of your life.

Example 12  If you love Jesus, you won’t divorce your husband.

Example 13  Well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t there.
The victim had just described her husband’s many abusive behaviors.

Example 14  Your conscience will condemn you.
The victim had informed that pastor she was leaving the church. The church had expected her to reconcile with her obviously unrepentant abuser and sign promissory notes for his ongoing, expensive “biblical” counseling.

Example 15  You are being disrespectful to your husband.
The victim had told her pastor that she yells at her husband if he raises his hand to hit her. She yells: “You BETTER not hit me!!!” It works. When she asked her pastor what she should do if her husband tries to hit her, his answer was, “Well, the worst thing that can happen is that you would die. And then you would go to heaven.” When she said, “Then he would go to hell,” the pastor replied, “Not if he repents.”

Example 16  Return to your husband and submit. Your husband is not abusive; he just has poor coping skills.

****

For further reading:
Unhelpful Comments by Well-Meaning People  (this article gives you ideas for how you might want to make snappy comebacks to foolish pastoral counselors…. )

84 Comments

  1. joepote01

    These are so atrocious, it’s hard to know where to begin! I’ll hit just a few…

    Example 3 “It is never right to give up on anyone. Jesus wants to save everyone and he can. It is wrong for us to put an abuser out of the church. He says he is a Christian and we must take him at his confession.”

    If “Jesus wants to save everyone and he can,” then why doesn’t he? The Bible is quite clear in teaching that not all will be saved. It is also quite clear in teaching God’s deep respect for the free will of individual humans. If God respects our free will so much that He allows us to choose destruction and eternal damnation, then shouldn’t we show that same level of respect to an abusive spouse? And why must we take an abuser “at his confession” as a Christian? Aren’t we told to judge people by their fruit? Aren’t we warned to beware of false prophets and false teachers?

    Example 5 “You are wrong to invoke the civil authorities by filing for divorce, because your marriage problems are to be handled only in the church.”

    The church does not have that authority. The civil courts can grant a legal divorce. The church cannot. Likewise, the civil authorities can grant a legal marriage license, whereas the church cannot. Therefore, the church does not have jurisdiction nor authority to do what you claim they are supposed to do.

    Example 6 “You are not allowed to separate from your husband, because how would you ever know if he had changed if you did not continue to live with him? You are not even to put a boundary in place; that is our job, if we think it needs to be done.”

    If the abuser changes after separation and/or divorce, that is between the abuser and God. It has nothing to do with the estranged abuse victim. It requires no action on the part of the estranged abuse victim.

    Example 8 “If you read Jesus’ words in Matthew 19, He doesn’t allow divorce for adultery. Jesus’ words are: “whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” The wife already was an adulteress – due to the words “except sexual immorality” — so the husband wasn’t causing her to commit adultery because she already was an adulteress.”

    It is really quite impossible to have a conversation with someone who does not understand the language. What about the word “except” did this pastor not understand? He needs to go study English a bit more before trying to interpret Bible passages…never mind studying Greek or Hebrew…until he understands basic English there’s no point in bothering about the others.

    Example 11 “If you divorce, you will be miserable for the rest of your life.”

    I’ve noticed this sentiment often comes from people who have never experienced divorce. I’ve not heard such a statement from someone who has actually experienced divorce. Ignorance tends to be very confident in it’s assertions.

    Example 12 “If you love Jesus, you won’t divorce your husband.”

    Really? Just so you know, I don’t repost all those Facebook posts with similar messages, either. But what did Jesus say to Peter? “If you love me, feed my sheep.” A pastor who gives this message to an abused spouse is not feeding the sheep entrusted to his care. Which means he is failing the love challenge Jesus presented to Peter.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Joe. Lots and lots and lots and lots of “pastors” out there who are totally unqualified at best and more than we want to think about who are abusers themselves. This should not surprise us. Jesus warned us about it, so did Paul, so did Peter, as does really the entire Bible.

      • MarkQ

        Hi Jeff, this reminds me of a fascinating cycle of abuse in my former denomination. There is so much energy focused on making people feel worthless. Apparently this is a shortcut to helping people submit and obey “proper” authority.

        The problem I’ve seen is that the elders and pastors who have grown up in the denomination have to be “deprogrammed”. So, if the deprogramming is successful, they go from worthless to valuable, and they go from submissive to authoritative. More often than not, the deprogramming is mostly unsuccessful for the elders who just become mindless robots for the pastor, and it’s mostly successful for the pastors who then become arrogant mini-tyrants.

        It’s not surprising, then, that the church is HORRIBLE at resolving conflicts of all sorts. The “worthless” are treated like they have no rights. The “valuable” are never wrong unless it’s some clear sin or theological error. Everyone else has to be kept in the dark as much as possible, since we don’t trust them to have any wisdom.

      • Ooohh! great observations, Mark! I’m going to give a heads up about your comment to Brad Futurist Guy. I think he will be interested. He has his own blog FuturistGuy and he also supports Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board.

    • grace551

      Great answer!

    • Ex-wife of Pastor-Counselor

      Well, I am not surprised. I was married to a man for 15 years who was a pastor and also a counselor. He is emotionally abusive, and plays the victim. People at our churches loved him. So when I was strong enough to leave him after almost 2 years of counseling I got much of the same kind of response from other pastors and their wives as well as the leadership and their wives. These kinds of responses to abuse from Christians, especially Church leaders, only add to the trauma of the victim/victims.

      I not only am recovering from the abuse dealt to me by my former but also from the rejection of those I considered my “Church family”. This is one area that not only needs true biblical knowledge of abuse and evil but also validation for the person abused as well as compassion and understanding. Shame on those Christians who think God wants us to live in a relationship that requires one to put the needs of an abusive person above the desires God has for our lives. My husband required so much from me for himself I actually was putting him before God in my life to try to keep our marriage together and keep all of the terrible secrets of what was going on in my home when no one else was around.

      • Dear “Ex-wife of Pastor-Counselor,” I changed your screen name just as a precaution for your safety. Welcome to the blog and thanks so much for sharing! Wow. You had a triple whammy — the pastor and counselor and abusive husband all wrapped up in one!

        We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      • joepote01

        “Shame on those Christians who think God wants us to live in a relationship that requires one to put the needs of an abusive person above the desires God has for our lives.”

        Amen!

      • Endurance

        I agree that it takes all of one’s energy to serve an abusive husband. You are right! Living in abuse really does take away our ability to be who God created us to be. The twist can be thinking that this is ‘my cross to bear’ and ‘God will make a way.’ I think we Christian women are often more susceptible to long standing abuse because our scriptures can be applied incorrectly to our situations. When I get to heaven I want to ask God why was all of this so. I wish there was more clear marital teaching when it pertains to abuse in the bible.

        I am happy for you that you were able to leave. How have you blossomed, now that you are free? In what ways has the Lord used you, that he couldn’t, when you were living under martial oppression?

  2. Lea

    Most of these are bad but this “Well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t there” bit drives me crazy. Right. You weren’t there. So what? The wife (or spouse) was there, and that’s who should be making the decision. They know what happened.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yeah, that theory would work really well in a courtroom. “Judge, I know I’m on the jury, but I just can’t…I mean, I wasn’t there.”

      • TruthSerum

        LOL!!! Having worked for attorneys, that’s as they say, priceless! : )

    • HisBannerOverMeIsLove

      This just happened to me. It’s always something like that or ” I don’t know, I don’t live there.” It makes me feel like I’m exaggerating and lying. It also makes me feel a bit desperate to get the details correct and then I’m obsessed and bringing out the black book again. I end up saying I’m not lying he’s minimizing it, twisting it or conveniently forgetting (lying) type stuff.

    • Disbelieved

      I was in a Titus 2 women’s group and I was shaking as I was telling them what just happened, that husband made me get out of the car miles away from our town to walk home, all because I did not tell him before we left to go to the shops that one child needed a larger size item of clothing.

      The women’s response was that I must be lying, they wouldn’t believe me and said if I would only do good to my husband he wouldn’t do that.

      He also swerves on purpose driving on gravel roads with several very young children in the car along with me. He started by asking my opinion of something, when I would say what I thought was best he had his ‘reason’ to rage, it was always my fault he was angry.

      After about two decades of this I am only a slave, I have no access to his bank accounts, have been at home with kids and their schooling for about two decades. what can I do now. If I leave I will be worse off that the lady at the well. Nabal is my husband – cruel in every dealing. I love God and His people where they are, however I don’t think they are in most churches anymore, or if any they can’t speak either.

      • Dear dear sister, I have changed your screen name to ‘Disbelieved’ — for your safety. You had given your real name in the ‘Name’ field of the comments form, which is not a good idea. We want to help you keep safe, we don’t want the abuse to escalate if we can do anything to help avoid that.

        WELCOME to the blog! 🙂 🙂 We believe you. It is not your fault. You are not to blame. Your are indeed married to a very abusive man, a Nabal. He deliberately tries to keep you under his cruel control and he clearly chooses tactics that he knows will intimidate and enslave you. Have no doubt: he is an abuser. And we will support you whatever happens.

        Please read our New Users Info page. It’s important to read it because it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. We prioritise the safety of our readers and commenters. 🙂

        We honour you for surviving all these decades of abuse!

        You asked “What can I do now?” We don’t know the answers to that question for you and your exact situation, but we do know that many many victims who are part of this family at this blog have found that as they were believed and supported by those who TRULY GET IT about domestic abuse, as they were believed and supported and encouraged, as they heard the tips and stories from other survivors, they bit by bit worked out strategies by which to escape the abuser and get through into a new and happier life, where with God’s help their wellbeing and health and that of their children has indeed be provided for.

        Please keep reading the blog. I already think of you as dear sister. And you have been courageous to comment here!

        And you may like to ‘follow’ the blog so that you get an email notification each time we publish a new post.
        See our page Following the Blog for step by step guidance on how to do this.

      • Avid Reader

        Disbelieved,

        We hear you. We believe you.

        Just know that you’re not alone right now. You have all of us standing with you.

      • Anotheranon

        Disbelieved, I am so sorry for the way your husband treats you! Mine was not so bad as that, but did similar things. I know now that he wanted to keep me in a state of fear all the time. When I would figure out what he was doing and counter it, he would switch tactics and find another way to abuse me. Your husband’s behavior will NOT improve if you are “nicer” to him. I know from over 30 years of experience.

        There is nothing wrong with feeling righteous anger over the way he treats you. Find any little way you can to prepare yourself to leave if that’s the way it works out for you. You need to feel like you’re in control of something in your life to give yourself some confidence.

        Trust God to make a way for your life and that of your children. (And get out of that women’s group! Find someone who believes you.) And our Lord Jesus surely wouldn’t want this kind of life for you!

      • braveandstandingstrong

        Dearest disbelieved,
        My story is similar to yours. I want to give you hope. It has been nearly a year since I left my abusive husband.
        I had to say something to you, because my husband would drive dangerously with my children in the car as well.
        It is very scary!

        I believe you. I can’t give many details, but I was a stay at home mom and homeschooled for decades as well.

        It may seem hopeless, but God can set you free from the bondage of abuse.

        I have gone back to school and graduated! Looking back now, I can hardly believe that was me. I was near suicidal a year ago.

        I am starting a new career and excited about it! God did this! 🙂

        I don’t know what is in store for you, but I can tell you for certain…this man is not “God’s best for you” as one of my ‘c’hristian friends said to me.

        I hope you find much encouragement here as I have.

      • Not really Scared anymore!!

        Disbelieved, just wanted to add to what everyone here has said. You are believed and he is abusive and we’ve all been in similar places. Seven years since I separated. So thankful. It was so so scary and hard at first and I still have leftover issues but the difference, the relief, the hope now! Oh, and car…still have issues when someone else is driving, I expected them to drive erratically and try to scare me. Not good.

  3. LH

    “Verbal abuse is not in the Bible.” “Be careful what you say about him, he’s an elder. or you could be brought up on charges.”

  4. Misty

    I just heard of advice given to a friend of mine from my least favorite member of our pastoral staff. When she was going through a rough patch in her marriage, this pastor rebuked her for kicking her husband out of the bedroom, even temporarily. I was shocked at his lack of understanding how a vulnerable person might need space, his lack of compassion toward the hurting, and his complete disregard for the right of a woman (or anyone for that matter) to have autonomy over their own body. This friend was not a DV victim, but the kind of blanket advice would be incredibly damaging to those in abusive situations.

    Of course, having not been through abuse, affairs, or abandonment in their marriages, the others in the conversation thought I was over-reacting.

  5. Herjourney

    I have some dozzies also.
    The expression of the pastor’s responses was addressed in a certified letter. I received two, which was delivered by USPS . I rejected both.
    The pastor later looked at me and stated “that was rather rude of you to not accept my correspondence.”
    Priceless stuff. I was also stalked on FB by their cronies. Who knows? I probably still am. 😳

  6. Saved By Grace

    Example 16 – something about this just irked me……”he just has poor coping skills”. Ah so it is not his fault that he hit you, broke your arm, yelled at you, threatened to kill you, called you vile names, NO the problem is he has poor coping skills. REALLY so he is not to blame, he is not responsible for his negative actions, he is not to be held accountable, it is all the poor coping skills’ fault.

    This just reinforces the cultural milieu of not taking responsibility for your own actions, but blaming everyone and every thing else. This leads to irresponsibility, immaturity and ABUSE. This yields to daddys defending their son’s rape of a woman. He has suffered so much already, a long prison sentence will only make it worse for him…..boo hoo. He did the crime NOW take responsibility and PAY for that crime DO the time IMO which should be 25 YEARS.

    end of rant

    • Lea

      “it is all the poor coping skills’ fault.”

      If you are an adult who has ‘poor coping skills’ to the point that you abuse or hurt someone else, then you need to take steps to learn better coping skills. Like, real therapy. Nobody has any responsibility to put up with your inability to act as a decent grown person.

      • Yeah. The ‘poor coping skills’ excuse … it belongs to that gruesome Adams family of excuses …. ‘he just exploded’ … ‘he has anger management problems’ …. he has ‘problems with intimacy’….

        See our post Euphemisms For Sin.

  7. Not really Scared anymore!!

    I had #15 thrown at me about my fear that he would attack us with his gun and got told” Well then you’d be in Heaven and he’d be in jail”…And I would leave my minor kids to deal with that!!!?!?!! Seriously!

    • TruthSerum

      That’s what you call dumb and dumber…..The abuser and the pastor for his arrogance.

  8. CMP

    The twists and turns of the psychological abuser include outright claims or underhanded implications that the little wife is delusional, suffers from psychosis, makes many stories up and has a mental illness. This is common: he causes her to doubt herself….with his chronic negation and then she has guilt for her intense dislike that eventually turns to hating his tactics (and later him)

  9. Avid Reader

    Peel away the layers of what they’re saying and you realize that all of their advice is carefully designed to avoid the idea that there is anything wrong with abuse. Because once they admit that abuse is wrong then they have to admit that no one has a right to do wrong.

    • TruthSerum

      God does not condone abuse of any kind ….period.

  10. Kay

    Example 2 I have helped lots of guys get over anger and I am sure I could help your husband get over his completely if you would help. He is very open to doing what I ask. It would be a shame to waste it. 1 Peter 3 would be good meditation verses for now for you.

    The underlying assumption with most of these responses is that a husband has a “divine right” to rule over his wife and if there are issues, it’s the wife’s fault because she does not know her place. The thinking is that she must be provoking him in some way or he would not respond in anger. If she would just submit more…

    First of all, an abusive man uses anger to manipulate and control his wife, and he can turn it off and on like a switch on a light bulb. Second, if her husband is indeed responding in anger because he is provoked, perhaps he needs to read Christ’s example for all Christians in trying circumstances in 1 Peter 2: 21-23:

    To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

    I would suggest, however, that there is nothing you can say to any of these men because they will not hear it. They believe in their divine right to authority over all women and will not be taught by a woman. They will shut her down. They believe in a top-down authority structure and are missing the fact that authority lies in the individual and that includes individual women. Just as there was a time in history when men were drawn and quartered and otherwise tortured for challenging the “divine right of kings,” so any woman who challenges the so-called authority of these pastors will be put through the wringer.

    The instructions in 1 Peter were directed at all Christians who lived in a totally pagan world where obedience to masters and husbands and tyrannical madmen like Nero was a requirement of law. Christ gives us an example as to how to respond in such difficult circumstances and the principles are timeless (do not respond to abuse in a like manner); but at the same time, we are not to allow anyone to steal that liberty that was won at such a great price beginning at the cross. These pastors are thieves who are attempting to take away your liberty in Christ Jesus.

    To the victim I would say remember your true place:

    You have the status of a son in the household of God, and God will not hear the prayers of the husband who does not remember this! (1 Peter 3:7)

    “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3: 26,28)

    “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal. 4:7)

    “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)

    • TruthSerum

      Ummmm…..No. Not. Never. What the husband and these men are blatantly ignoring is that husbands are called to love their wives….Guess what fellas…..Wives are not called to love you! Love is not abusive, so by the very definition of love, you have broken a sacred covenant when you are abusive. Though the wife is called to obey her husband, she is called to obey a loving husband, not an abusive one. God never condones abuse!

  11. Sunflower

    Funny how the women are expected to be perfect Christians, but not the men. Is that an extension of ‘boys will be boys’? I used to hear that, and reply, “NO, boys will be men, if I have anything to do with it.”

    I got #6 from my family.

    Counselor #1: “You have to communicate. If you would only talk to him, he would understand. He really wants to understand you, you know.” (you all know where that goes)

    Counselor #2, after reading my journal: “IF this is true, we have a problem. Please leave so I can talk to your h about this.” Later, “You must have made this all up. He says there is no truth to what you wrote.” (we had spent all my savings to travel far to a well-known christian counselor who wrote books)

    Pastor #1 (to h): You may just have to spank her.

    Pastor #2 (to me):” I don’t understand why you two don’t get along. You and I sure get along well, don’t we?” Yikes!!!!!!!!! I’m outa here!!!!

    Counselor #3: You have to communicate. If you would only talk to him, he would understand. (again?)

    Counselor #4: “I’m sorry, but we are not able to get through to him. He would need weeks or months of counseling. He just isn’t hearing us.” (whew!)

    Doc in psych ward: “He’s not very bright, is he? I know you want to go home, but I will not release you until I know you’ve made arrangements not to live with him anymore, or you’ll be right back in here. You don’t really belong here, but I get why you are here.” The end.

    • Endurance

      I want to add this one. I heard from a Christian counselor in a noted Trauma group in the Philadelphia area.

      Counselor said to H: “You know when this is over I really would like to meet with you for lunch. You have such interesting ideas.”
      (Yup, he snowed another one!)

      Same Counselor: “I will keep you safe. I have evaluated your husband it we can proceed with couples counseling.”
      Then, I call during an abusive episode and he asks, “Are you in physical danger right now?”
      “No.”
      “Then this can wait until our next appointment.”
      When physical violence did occur, it was brushed aside.

      Counselor likes my husband and recommends I give him more encouragement and sex. Pressures me that sex is part of marriage and part of marital life.
      I would like to ask him. If his daughter was raped and beaten by her husband/rapist, would you recommend she ask for more? Is that erotic? Or more likely…unforgivable! Who would ask a woman to have sex with her rapist?!!

      • Stronger Now

        Who would ask a woman to have sex with her rapist?

        [My answer to this question:] Every pastor or counselor I went to [asked me to have sex with my rapist] – except the last one – a woman – who recognized that I was “battered” even though he didn’t hit me, and who agreed that sex under threat of harm to myself or my children or my property is not consensual, it is rape.

        Apparently all of these pastors and counselors are in agreement with the father of the college frat party rapist, who thinks his son should be free because he only did it once!

      • TruthSerum

        This is a perfect example of a narcissist and his flying monkey. This counselor is himself a psychological criminal (co-narcissist) for encouraging abusive treatment onto a victim who was betrayed by broken marriage vows of honor and love.

      • Kay

        I had a really good Christian marriage counselor. He told my husband the following: “You treat your wife with contempt; you have rage issues that need to be addressed; and you think that if I fix your wife, your problems will be resolved. You cannot or choose not to hear your wife, I don’t know which it is but I have my suspicions. Until you get individual help, I cannot do further marriage counseling because I will not put your wife at risk.”

        Then he turned to me and said, “Come see me for plan B.”

  12. Happy Gramma

    I would like to share a few responses I received from pastors in the Nazarene church. After meeting a couple of times with my h, pastor said h really did love me, just needed a little coaching. Same pastor also said I’d be surprised how many couples in the church were going through the same struggles. He also said we were both carrying around buckets of stuff that we needed to deal with and that I needed to ask God what I needed to change in my life to bring about change in h. This was suggested after telling pastor of h’s pathological lying, condescending, disrespectful and emotionally abusive behavior. I’m no longer attending that church. H is still actively involved.

  13. I’ve just added this as a ‘further reading’ suggestion at the bottom of the post:

    Unhelpful Comments by Well-Meaning People (an article by me which gives ideas for how you might want to make snappy comebacks to these foolish pastoral counselors)

  14. KayE

    Example 11 is a flat out lie. Some “Christians” try to insist to my face that I’m miserable and I deserve that misery because I got divorced. Miserable? I’ve never been happier. My children are happy, my family is happy, the dog is happy. Just go away you sad people.

    • TruthSerum

      My happiest years were when I was single.

  15. MarkQ

    Interesting how much of this parallels my experience with an abusive church. The church requires membership vows, and recently spent a lot of ink discussing why membership vows are so important. Some even say that church membership is like marriage to the bride of Christ. One church I used to be a member of has now decided that it is up to the leaders of the church to decide whether a member has sufficient grounds to leave.

  16. M&M

    Even though I believe these stories are true it’s hard for me to understand how it’s possible for pastors to be so cold. If I had less knowledge I might not recognize as many of the manipulation tactics of the abuser, but I would still feel sad for the victim and desire her freedom. It doesn’t take knowledge to feel compassion.

    Also, I think there’s a difference between “God wants” and “God will”. Whether or not you believe that God wants to save everyone depends how far you are on the continuum between free will and predestination, but whether or not He will should be “no” for both based on the Bible. Whether you say that not all will choose Him or that not all are elect it should lead both sides to stop assuming they know who will be saved. But I don’t see why the saved or unsaved status of another person should affect the amount of compassion that a Christian has for the oppressed.

    When I feel like these things wouldn’t happen at my church I wonder if it’s actually better or if I just don’t know what’s hiding in it. I’ve also been thinking about how the question of compassion for the abuser is often turned into a “yes or no” when it could be a “yes if” as in “only if the victim isn’t harmed”. I heard a missionary talk about how she felt led to pray with and feel compassion for a woman who had sold her daughter and I thought “was she really hearing from God to pity the wicked?” But I think she was right in context because important things happened first. The victim was rescued and given counseling and a safe place to live for many months before this happened. It was the victim who initiated the visit to the mother who sold her and the missionary told her to wait and then later to promise that she wouldn’t go alone and wouldn’t return to live in that area. The perpetrator wasn’t claiming to be a Christian at the time she sold her daughter and the missionary was far more concerned about the victim than the perpetrator in general.

    All that together shows me that a person doesn’t have to harm victims in order to show God’s love to the unsaved. Joseph tested his brothers before welcoming them back.

  17. “If it was that bad, why didn’t you leave?”

    And here is my article about the MYRIADS of reasons why victims don’t leave:
    Why Didn’t You Leave?

  18. Everyone in an evangelical church should read this list. This is what really goes on, and it isn’t fringe.

    But many don’t realize it until it happens to them or someone they love.

    • braveandstandingstrong

      What about Peacemakers? My X church has that as part of their membership that you will follow peacemaking principles to handle conflict.

      I walked away and never looked back when God showed me the leadership there were sweeping things under the rug. Abusers flourish there. Of course, Anti-husband has been loved on and everyone appears to feel sorry for him.

      Jesus did not say, “cease to have compassion on anyone who leaves the church.”

      I found a great therapist who says walking away from my abusive evangelical church was the healthiest thing I could do. Staying and trying to defend myself to their garbage would have left me no energy to defend myself.

      So thankful to be FREE from both my abusive husband and my abusive church!

      • Peacemakers Ministry is DANGEROUS. We have several posts about the abominable way Peacemakers dealt with a victim of abuse.
        You can find them all under our Peacemakers tag — we currently five posts with that tag.

  19. Hebzibah8

    These are all ones I was told, and honestly don’t know how to biblically rebut them. I just know they cut me to the core and added to my trauma:

    He pays child support so hasn’t he abandoned you and you have no grounds filing for divorce.
    (After he had moved out and refused any further reconciliation attempts)

    If your husband doesn’t confirm your version of events, then we will have to assume you’re lying.
    (This was after he had been caught in multiple lies to the pastor who said this.)

    Holding a knife or gun to you and/or threatening to kill you is not abuse if he didn’t physically hurt you.
    Destroying your things or getting angry and breaking furniture is not abuse, he just has a bad temper.
    If the things he throws at you don’t hit you, it’s not abuse.

    He says he hasn’t slept with her, and you haven’t caught them in the act so it’s not an affair.

    Your husband prefers porn to you because you are disrespectful.

    Your husband keeps having affairs because you are neurotically jealous about all the other affairs and won’t forgive him.

    Leaving a “difficult marriage” means you don’t trust God to do a miracle.

    Emotional/verbal abuse isn’t real. Calling it abuse invalidates the experiences of people who have actually been abused.

    Just make sure your kids use a different computer so they don’t find his porn.

    You should have more empathy for your husband’s struggle with porn. If you did, he wouldn’t need to look at it as much.

    You should never tell people about the bad things going on in your marriage. It is disrespectful to tell anyone about his “shortcomings”.
    (When I started to speak up about the abuse and affairs)

    After all, God blessed Sarah because she obeyed her husband even when it was hard (referring to her lying to Pharaoh).

    You can’t be in sin if you are obeying your husband (even if he tells you to do something sinful) because he is your head and you must obey him in all things.

    Having any boundaries, whatsoever, with your husband is a sin. They are a form of leadership and say that you don’t trust God through your husband to decide what’s right for you.

    There is no such thing as marital rape.

    Don’t criticize your husband at all. Never tell him you don’t like something he does. If you would just be positive all the time and never negative, your marriage would be fine.

    You need to look at why you are provoking him to anger.

    All men get angry and yell once in awhile.

    • Endurance

      Please tell me this counselor was struck dead for his sins or at least is covered from head to toe in boils. Gee, I wouldn’t want to see what happens to him at the pearly gates. I’m thinking about mill stones around the neck with each line you wrote.

    • Hi Hepzibah8, thank you for this great contribution to this thread! And welcome to the blog 🙂 We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you keep reading this blog, I think you will find many rebuttals to all those pernicious examples of pastoral advice. Boy, you sure got heaps of them didn’t you. That church or churches must have been a nest of vipers!

      I’ve linked these items elsewhere in this thread, but here they are again (these two items are from my solo blog Not Under Bondage) —

      Unhelpful Comments by Well-Meaning People

      Why Didn’t You Leave?

      And here are some posts which may help rebut that idea about Sarah being blessed by God even though she lied to Pharaoh, so wives ought to obey their abusive husbands no matter what and just trust that God will bless them even that involves the wife sinning against God’s precepts.

      Obeying the Abuser: Insights from Abraham and Sarah

      Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

      1 Peter 3:6 — Sarah’s children do what is right and do not give way to fear

      Since the Fall, men have been sinfully disposed to oppress women — but this doesn’t mean women must remain in abusive marriages.

      Also, even The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which is a stronghold of Male Headship teaching, say:

      The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. [see Question 5 in CBMW’s article Fifty Crucial Questions: Marriage, Headship, and Submission

    • M&M

      Hebzibah8, 😦 😦 😦 ❤ reading your post gave me an interesting thought. People you mentioned don't think that men have to love their neighbor. Jesus told his disciples to love their neighbor. Thus the 12 original disciples must have been women haha. (Or if they were men then men ought to love……)

    • Avid Reader

      Hebzibah8,

      Wow! That’s a LOT of really messed up theology they threw at you.

      For you to still be walking with the Lord after going through all that shows how powerful your heart for God really is.

      Welcome! We need you here with us.

    • TruthSerum

      These lines are just wrong on so many levels. I am a Christian and former adult psyc nurse (retired). These lines are in themselves not only manipulative, they are dangerous and clear red flags of oppression and abuse. Bottom line: Get out.

    • TruthSerum

      These are examples of spiritual abuse and manipulation, which are all evil. God never condones abuse, and sets the elect free with His truth, not oppression of abuse.

    • standsfortruth

      Hebzibah8, thank you for sharing.
      All of the same statements you mentioned were thrown at me too.
      I knew it was all wrong, and that their idol of “saving the marriage at all costs”, became the giant beam in their eyes.
      Even as I cried out describing the ongoing abuse, to one of my ex’s bible study friends, he said “Dont worry ____, you shouldnt have much longer to suffer..
      so take heart, -Jesus is comming back soon!

      I too was accused by the pastor of not having enough faith in God to change my husbands heart after his decades of abuse.
      And when I ultimately found the conviction to put up boundries and exercise resistance against the continued abuse, the pastor afterwards approached me with how concerned he was now for my eternal welfare.
      I began to realize just how messed up things had become.

    • Lea

      >>If your husband doesn’t confirm your version of events, then we will have to assume you’re lying.

      Insanity.

    • Anonymous

      Holy CRAP! A big fat load of evil dumped on the head of one of God’s children. I expect things like this from the Catholic church or the Mormons or Muslims but aren’t Christians supposed to know God’s truth? Oh wait, that’s right. It’s why this website (ACFJ) even exists and why it is RELENTLESS in not allowing even a smidgen of BS to fall through the cracks.

      We could each take one of the statements above and write an entire post on each one and this still wouldn’t cover how bad it really is in the churches today.

      From the psychopath,

      What FUN it is to be one of the devil’s children on the playground that is the church today! I love to read things like this as it gives me ideas and allows me to have a new excuse when my whore of a wife tries to bring any truth or reality into my life. I am nothing but a lie–there is not a drop of truth in my mind, heart or conscience and from what I can see here, truth is a complete waste of time! Look at how these losers run around trying to love and help and do good and they do it with their heart! I love to see them coming because they are so stupid and so easily destroyed. I love to give them a big ole sob story about how my wife / mother / father / cousin / uncle / neighbor abused me and how nobody seems to understand me — implying that maybe THEY are the one who will finally reach my evil heart. What GLEE it is to see them with their sympathetic ugly face turned towards me and I know I’ve once again lured another sucker to my sticky fly-paper of death. As my stupid wife comes walking up to us, I see the latest dumb-dumb turn towards her with hatred and the “I know you aren’t a good wife to this poor innocent man!” look and I do the tap dance of evil that I do in my mind knowing that I will always have an ample supply of idiots because the church ensures that none are allowed to know the truth. It is wonderful to be me! I am god! I am to be worshiped! I love who I am!

      When I read what my brethren evil ones are doing to true Christians I rejoice in my father the devil! I really don’t think there is a devil because that would mean there is one more clever and evil than myself and that’s simply not possible. I ALONE am god! I ALONE am the only being alive! I ALONE exist and all others are simply animate objects that I’ve placed here for my enjoyment and pleasure! And what fun it is to watch them spin around and get all worn out from the endless games that I play with them!

      Keep up the good work my comrades in arms! Keep on keeping any truth from being spoken from the pulpit by regurgitating the same old worn-out sermons that have kept those with a conscience quiet and controlled. Don’t allow them to get out from under the suffocating weight of guilt and shame and make sure they are tithing to the point of starving their own children and unable to keep themselves financially afloat or else they might have an escape route if they somehow wake up to the truth about me and my kind. We can’t have that! It’s great to be me!

      • ACON

        Very good description of the mind and strategy of a “Christian” psychopath.

  20. KayE

    I found this on the website of a local conservative evangelical church, a church which is well regarded by other churches. It is taken from a formal address to the congregation about marriage, which was made jointly by all the church elders.

    If you have been divorced then I am sorry things ended this way. But realize divorce is not a plan of God and He still sees your marriage as a valid relationship. If reconciling with your spouse is not an option then invest your life into serving Him. Remarriage will only lead to further adultery before God.

    Ironically the statement was preceded by the elder saying “There are no judges here today.”

    • TruthSerum

      Good Heavens….What legalism! “Yes, God hates divorce. Yet what He hates more is to lose his child…” From my Christian counselor who inspired me to divorce a man who did not know how to love.

      • Hi TruthSerum, we don’t believe that God hates divorce. Please read this post. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/24/god-hates-divorce-not-always/

        I think that ‘God hates divorce’ slogan needs to be expunged from the Christian vocabulary. It does immense harm to victims of abuse.

      • Anonymous

        Barb, your reply is concise and can be used when the “God hates divorce” dung is thrown at us. Thank you!

  21. Ng

    Most of these ‘nuggets of wisdom’ are so far from any reality, and have no spiritual or practical wisdom in them. Do people actually allow pastors to speak like this? I would not go back to such a ‘pastor’.

    Divorce can be a tool of reconciliation, that I agree on. The abuser may wake up and want to repent, change, and make things right with God and the ex-spouse. That does not always mean getting together again, as a couple.

    Sometimes I get so upset when people congratulate a couple on their anniversary – as if the number of years meant some special merit. What matters, is the content: how is the quality of the marriage, and are both partners respecting each other? If it is just staying together for the sake of marriage, then… I rather congratulate the brave newly divorced woman, (or man) who had the courage to walk away from abuse, or the single, who still has not given up after years of rejection and disappointment. That’s faith!

    • TruthSerum

      Hi Barbara,
      I totally agree on removing the statement that ‘God hates divorce’. I typed the exact words of what my counselor stated to help me make a critical decision….22 years ago. I am in total agreement with you on this.

      • 🙂 thanks TruthSerum.

        And you have a great screen name!

  22. Ng

    And, one more note about Example nr 2: What arrogance and naivete to assume that the pastor can be a savior to any man and cause them to change… he can be duped about that, and the husbands may want to continue to feed his ego for their own benefit, but wives know better… No one can change an abuser againts their will.

    (Although: a radical crisis may cause them to stop and re-consider their priorities.. but it is not always a possibility to cause such a ‘tough love’ scenario. Viktor Frankl recounted how during the Holocaust, a narcissist well known to him from Denmark, ended up in a German concentration camp, and survived… After the WWII, that abuser was a humbled, changed man, a repentant person with no more abuse tactics left. I’m not wishing anyone to end up in a prison camp, unless they get a fair trial…)

  23. Misti

    Most of those require that Matthew 7:17–18, Matthew 12:33–37, Luke 6:43–45, and I Corinthians 5:11 be outright ignored.

    And then the ones that don’t demonstrate Romans 13:3-4, which applies to the government’s right to punish criminal behavior and points out that criminals are the ones who fear it.

  24. Valerie

    From elders–
    If you don’t get back together with him, your children will never forgive you and will come to hate you.
    (All the minor children are protected with permanent restraining orders, he is being prosecuted for felony child abuse, and there is a protection plan through CPS to keep the children safe.)

    If you get restraining orders tomorrow, we’ll believe you. Otherwise, we’ll know you are a liar.

    If you get a legal separation tomorrow, we will believe you. If you don’t, we’ll know you’ve been embellishing your story.
    (I told them it would cost $3000, and I only had $50 in the bank, and that I didn’t think it was the safest option for my kids.)
    The size of your bank account is not of interest to us. If you do it, we’ll believe you. If you don’t, we won’t.

    If you were telling the truth, you wouldn’t want to stay in your home and would want to go into hiding. You can prove that you are telling us the truth, if you agree to have your children split into three groups to live with three different church families. You can’t know the families or help with the assignments, and we can’t guarantee that you would be with your littlest children. If you give the house to your husband and go into hiding, we’ll believe you. If you don’t, we’ll know you’re a liar.

    If you don’t let him come back soon, he will probably never come back. He likes not living with you and the kids, so you are on dangerous ground prolonging this.

    If you don’t have him back soon, he will soon be homeless, and then he will lose his job, and then you will lose your home. Your children will be homeless and it will be all your fault.

    We’re telling your husband to come back in 3 days, if you don’t find him an alternate place for him to live. If you find him another place to live, fine. If not, he’s coming back.
    (I went and found the cheapest place I could find.)
    You are acting like a foolish woman, who didn’t count the cost of a tower before she built it.

    You are embellishing your story. You use words creatively to make things sound worse than they are.

    You need to trust your elders. What we decide together is blessed by God so that you can be confident it’s what God has for you right now.

    You could help him change if you really tried, and the fact that he isn’t changing means you are not trying hard enough to help him.

    If you confront him sufficiently well, he will stop. He does this because you let him.

    No other woman in this whole church would allow her husband to behave like that. Any other woman would put her foot down and that would be the end of it.

    If you confronted him sufficiently, he would remember. The fact that he (claims not to) remember a confrontation proves that it didn’t happen, or wasn’t sufficiently memorable.

    Your story isn’t even credible on the surface. No judge will ever believe you, and you have nothing that could be called proof in a court of law.
    (Said by an elder who was a lawyer. As it turns out, judges do look at evidence. I have restraining orders of at least 2 years for every minor child now.)

    You are just trying to make him look bad. He is not as bad as you say.

    (To other members of the church, behind my back:) You can only believe about 80% of what she says about the abuse. Some of it is too crazy to be real.

    (To the abuser:) We know your wife is lying, so just go back home, and if she ever asks you to leave again, just refuse. It’s your house, and she can’t tell you what to do.

    If you cared enough about your own sins, then you wouldn’t mind his sins against you so much.

    You shouldn’t give up on your marriage over this.

    Are you upset because you had a miscarriage? Is that the cause of this? Or is it because you are hormonal? We’re all husbands, we know what it’s like.

    I saw him pat a child on the head the other day, so he couldn’t be as bad as you say.

    I have to watch out for my own legal risks, so I can’t speak to you any more.

    If your husband tells you to do something that you think is unwise or unsafe, you have to do it. He is the head of the family.

    (After pastor and elders persisted in breaking reporting laws for YEARS:) You are not allowed in any of our services, on our grounds, or at any of our activities in the community until you meet with elders here about (at that time privately held, and expressed to none but but them) your belief that what the elders did to you was wrong.
    (What would a meeting accomplish? Since what they did was objectively sinful, I cannot ever call it good.)

    We won’t arrest you if you come, but we can’t allow you in a worship service (that was an important event in the life of my family) because worship services are about the Gospel. (I said that the REAL Gospel is that God receives me because of Christ’s sacrifice for me. That’s the REAL Gospel.)

    It’s probably good you never came back to the church, with the issues you have. It’s probably part of God’s sovereignty that it happened like it did.
    ~~~

    These are just off the top of my head. There was more. It was horrific. I ended up with an anxiety disorder and PTSD, and this kind of hatred and ostracism contributed more to it than even my husband did. I knew he was not trustworthy all along, but I had held my elders in high esteem, like fathers and like brothers, and I trusted them more deeply and far longer than I should have. For years, I would have a panic reaction in churches with similar architecture and service formats. For years, I had a strong aversion to the phone, using email, and opening mail. I ended up with a pile of mail a few feet high because it just felt so extremely threatening that I could not bring myself to do it. And that in itself had some hard consequences for me financially.

    And to this day, five years later, I am the bad one. I am shunned in public, I am ostracized, and I am not welcome. I was told that maybe, possibly, if he is convicted they might revisit that. Oh, well, Better off safe than sorry.

    • I’m gobsmacked about how many wickedly twisted things those elders said to you!

      What a mountain of garbage and excrement they dumped on you. And you are still alive, still resisting the lies and the oppression, still standing up for the truth! Good for you. You deserve a medal! — you and Hepzibah both.

  25. Concerned Mom

    If I were to believe that statement, It would mean a death sentence for the remarried….and I am remarried….must I now worry whether or not I going to hell? This all exhausts me…

    • Hi Concerned Mom, I changed your screen name as you’d given one which was similar to your email address. I also deleted the URL link to your WordPress account which was connected to your gravatar.

      You might want to re-read our New Users Info page for tips about how to fill out the comment form safely. I’ts under the tab New Users at the top of the blog.

      And you are NOT going to hell for having remarried. Here is our post that explains that, and it’s spelled out in depth in my book.
      Remarriage after divorcing an abuser — in a nutshell

  26. HisBannerOverMeIsLove

    Here is another one to add: “That was yesterday. See how he is when he gets home. You have to stop going to the past.”

    And another: “It has been years since he hit you.” To me that just seems like it’s that much closer to happening again.
    And WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER ABUSE THAT WASN’T HITTING?! It’s not like there was a break from it. It was just different.

    Actually, that all helped me in a different way. It made me see how impossible it all is. I confronted my h about his behavior. He has to admit it’s happening, seek God and repent now or we are separating. That has taken years and years and years. And I took a great risk I don’t suggest all do. I prayed and felt if I didn’t I wasn’t protecting my children and I stand before God as to how I care for them. The fear that has wrapped me up into a ball for decades just took a back seat. I decided all the consequences either way were worth it to have God’s best.

    I’m seriously done with living in fear of everything. Now if I run back to the shadows in a week or month is yet to be seen. I really want to stand my ground. Even if he repents separation maybe the only way to help all of us to keep calm and not be triggered. If that’s what it takes that’s worth it. If no fruit of repentance shows then that’s easier to just not see each other. It still isn’t over but it is moving in a direction that seems to be the right direction.

    I’m reading Lundy’s books Why Does He Do That? and When Dad Hurts Mom Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse and Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A guide to knowing whether your relationship can —and should—be saved. The last book has helped me with the lists of what respect is and how every relationship should have it etc.. So, I don’t feel like it’s just me saying this and that is wrong. It also helps clear my mind as to what is going on so clearly. Hope this helps somebody.

    • Thanks HisBanner,

      and readers who are new to this site: we give some of these books for free to victims who cannot afford them or who could not safely purchase them without their abuser seeing the purchase on their financial statements. Click here for details of this offer.

  27. Valerie

    #1 In what ways is he succeeding? Do you not consider that how he acts around others isn’t the same as how he acts at home? Jesus isn’t concerned about a behavior change but a heart change. You are looking at the exterior, God looks at the heart.

    #2 It is disconcerting for me to hear you take the credit for turning around someone’s anger. Was God involved or did you do this all by your proud self? Did you ask the spouse if their anger was completely healed? It seems you are lacking in discernment that you take what people say at face value without considering if their behavior matches what they say. You are trying to place false guilt on me by insinuating it would be my fault if my actions to protect myself would inhibit his recovery. If he’s truly desiring change it will happen with or without me. As for the scripture, I will meditate on the scripture that God places on my heart. If you’d like I can give you some verses to meditate on.

    #3 What scripture are you referencing with regard to giving up? Jesus said to expel the wicked from among the church. (Actually all these statements show such a lack of discernment and unawareness of scripture that I don’t know where to begin)

    #4 & 5 Scripture reference please?

    #6 RUN FORREST RUN!!!

    #7 Please read Barbara Robert’s book.

    #12 To obey is better than sacrifice.

    #13 Judge with righteous judgement.

    #14 Interesting. The Spirit convicts, the devil is the one who condemns. You’re right. The devil may try to condemn me but since I am doing my best to adhere to God’s word then I know the Spirit will liberate me from that bondage.

    There was such an outrageous amount of serpenty slithering through those examples that its hard to know where to begin.

    • Joy

      You tell them, Valerie! I know, right? I was surprised too by the manipulation of the scriptures so frequenrtly, although not shocked. This is why pastors should be educated about abuse, as well as scripture.

  28. Joy

    Personally, I try to see the best in others and praise them for what pastors do right; I do not, however, put up with blatant disregard for others safety, especially when it comes to abuse.

    I have a feeling already that some of these examples will make me angry.

    Example 1- Well, getting the abuser into counseling is a good start, so this pastor is making some effort to assist the couple in their abusive situation. My questions, though, are how does this pastor know that the abuser is making any progress in his counseling and not lying to him; also, is the wife getting any counseling and help? Is there any way that she is healing from her emotional and psychological wounds?

    Example 2- … How about giving the wife different words of encouragement than 1 Peter 3, something a little more applicable to the abusive situation, instead of making it worse?

    Example 3- Oh heck no! Does this person know about abuse? This is unbelievable! It clearly states in the bible that Christians are to not have anything to do with certain kinds of people and one of them happens to be revilers or abusers! Furthermore, just because someone says he is a Christian doesn’t mean he is one! This pastor is extremely misguided if he thinks Jesus will accept everyone who says “Lord, Lord”. If Jesus accepts everyone who calls themselves a Christian, then why would people need to be divided during the end of the world, as it says in Matthew 25:32? By accepting this abuser into the church, the pastor is making it OK for the vicious cycle of abuse to continue and perpetuate in the congregation among other families.

    Example 4- Since when is it acceptable for a husband and father to lash out at his wife or daughter? Where in the bible does it say that it’s fine for a husband to lash out at his wife and a father to lash out at his daughter? If the pastor continues to support the abuse that is going on in this household, the wife and daughter will draw away from God because of the church turning a blind eye to the abuse happening right in front of them, behind closed doors.

    Example 5- The bible says that a woman may divorce her husband if he cheats on her or abuses her. The only reason why the pastor isn’t allowing divorce is because everyone will then know that he was abusing her, while putting on an act to everyone else. The abusive husband “wasn’t abusive enough”? What’s abusive enough? When the woman is severely hurt or dead?

    Did I read that right? The church leaders wanted the wife and her children to return to her husband even after not wanting anything to do with him for not listening to them? I am in shock! The fact that the church leaders saw how terrible he was should have convinced them not to even think about suggestion for the woman to go back to her abusive husband, much less drag her children with her!

    Example 6- This woman isn’t allowed to divorce because the husband may change? Most abusers don’t change, if they do, it takes many years, as well as repentance and a lot of work from both of the couples. What do you mean the wife can’t set boundaries, only certain people can? How arrogant is this pastor? He has absolutely no right to advise this woman on how to handle something that he knows nothing about.

    Example 7- There are more reasons for divorcing a husband than just adultery and a non-believing spouse, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says that abusers will not inherit the kingdom of God and 1 Corinthians 5-11 says not to have anything to do with revilers or abusers. The best way for a wife to not have anything to do with her abusive husband is to divorce him.

    Example 8- The bible says in 1 Corinthians 5-11 to not have anything to do with an abuser, which includes sexual immorality. This pastor is using just a few verses in the bible to prevent the wife from divorcing her husband. Has this pastor read the whole of the very bible that he preaches from? He is misinterpreting the bible based on what he thinks it says, instead of what it really says.

    Example 9- Not all divorces end in reconciliation, as well they shouldn’t. The focus should be on what is best for the separated couple, not reconciliation.

    Example 10- Again, 1 Corinthian 5-11 says for people to not have anything to do with abusers, which means giving up the vicious cycle of domestic violence. That may mean giving up the relationship.

    Example 11- Who says that those who divorce will be miserable for the rest of their lives? Plenty of people remarry after divorcing and find that they have never been happier than they are, currently. Besides, I personally think misery is caused from living with an abusive husband, not being away from him.

    Example 12- Where does this pastor get the idea that Jesus will stop loving someone just because she divorces her abusive husband? It’s a ploy to strike fear into her to get her to stay with her abusive husband isn’t it?

    Example 13- God gave people imagination and empathy for other people when an individual has not gone through what the other person describes and expects His people to use those gifts to help others out. This pastor’s answer is an excuse to not get involved in a difficult situation, even though pastors are called into a higher standard of living than others are.

    Example 14- I have no words to describe the righteous anger I wish to express right now…If anyone’s conscience should condemn them, it should be the pastor and congregations! Shame on these people for not helping their sister in Christ out when she needed them most.

    Example 15- The wife’s husband is being disrespectful to her, not the other way around. She has a right to defend herself against her abusive husband. So, all she has to look forward to is death and being reunited with her abusive husband once they go to heaven because he repented? What a way to give the woman hope, pastor…not!

    Example 16- *Deep sigh* Children get told the same thing, along with “oh but you love your father and your father loves you, he’s just doing what’s best for you, you won’t understand until you are older. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband , your father is just teaching you how to be a good future wife. So stop being so stubbornly rebellious toward him, instead, honor your father like the bible says, by doing what he commands.” This is when people only read one part of the bible verse and not the other, which says husbands should love their wives, in other words, husbands have to work at the marriage, too, not just the wives. What gives this pastor the right to define what is and isn’t abuse, anyway?

    • Hi Joy, it took a little while to publish you comment because I needed to read it carefully and put line breaks into it, so I procrastinated for a while…

      Also, when you are filling out the comment form, it would help us if you manually removed all text from the “URL” field before you hit the submit button. The URL that has been coming through with your comments shows your full name, and that means we have been having to remove it each time we publish your comment. We want to protect your identity.

      • Joy

        Dear Barbara Roberts,
        I have been struggling with both removing the URL from my name and putting line breaks in between my long paragraphs. Any suggestions on how to make this easier would be greatly appreciated. I’m sorry to make uneccessary work for you, I did not mean to add to your stress level.
        Sincerely,
        Joy.

      • Hi Joy,

        WordPress can be confusing. If you email me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com I can help you figure this out 🙂

  29. StandsWithAFist

    #2 Gets me.
    Before I finally found ACFJ, I was searching seemingly in vain for Christian websites or counsellors who truly understood abuse. In 2012, I stumbled onto the blog of a now-semi-well-known pastor/counsellor [an “Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Western Theological Seminary”] who wrote this about abusive, narcissistic men:

    I’ve come to enjoy working with narcissistic men because I know what they don’t yet know… that deep down, they’re vulnerable little boys who need to be loved.

    Yup, that’s right: he enjoys working with abusers b/c they are just scared little boys who need to be loved. Apparently he’s just the guy to love them. Love is all they need.

    It got worse…he went on in the same post:

    I don’t buy into this whole, “He’s the abuser, you’re the victim” thing, in large part, because we’re all more deeply broken and confused than we know. Yes, you’ve blown it too. But what sets you apart is your willingness to own your own stuff and to heal. You are a victim. And you are responsible. Yet, unlike him, you have empathy. You feel. You are capable of repenting.

    So the victim IS to blame! The victim has blown it too! The victim must repent!

    I was now screaming at the screen of my computer. I was just beginning to find my voice & I was outraged and said so, right there on his blog in no uncertain terms.

    So he privately emailed me (a public response might have marred his image) and took me to task:

    I do want to say that the tact you took in responding to me seemed ungracious, at best. You made some significant assumptions in it, with little room for dialogue. In fact, the lack of empathy and the way you exerted power can be interpreted as narcissistic. And perhaps those of us who are abused are most apt to respond like this. I know I have. If you would have asked, I would have wanted to express to you that because I believe that the Holy Spirit is active and engaged in transforming people, I have seen narcissistic men repent. My best understanding of narcissism from years of study and pastoring people (and my best understanding of people in general) is that we are ALL victims and agents, and that narcissists were likely hurt and abused themselves at some level. My hope in the blog was to take narcissism very seriously AND move toward what is most difficult for me – compassion, even forgiveness…maybe even just a bit of understanding. I have sat with brutally oppressive narcissists who simply crumbled, at times, under the weight not only of their sin, but of the abuse THEY suffered.

    So there you have it, in all its horrific, pitiful, scratchy wool: the shame-dumping, sin-levelling, one-upping, misogynistic, finger-pointing, patriarchal, scripture-twisting, blame-gaming, scapegoating, holier-than-thou, super-pastor-wolf in wool.

    Beware of titles, and “Professors of Pastoral Care & Counseling”.

    Yikes.

  30. Anonymous

    I’ve come to enjoy working with narcissistic men because I know what they don’t yet know… that deep down, they’re vulnerable little boys who need to be loved.

    I’ve heard something like this from a man who studies psychopaths for a living. He appears to be a psychopath himself and it seems to me like he is trying to convince the rest of us to think of these evil people as loveable underneath it all. He’s trying to model the behavior he wants the rest of us to adopt –that if we just look at psychopaths from a different perspective we can see their positive qualities. Yeah. That’s not gonna work for me.

    And you are responsible. Yet, unlike him, you have empathy. You feel. You are capable of repenting.

    And this one. Man. Wow. I mean really! There was a website about how important it is to have high levels of emotional intelligence. The author went on and on but then at some point he said something like, “Just tell us how to act so we can get on with it!” His research had shown that those with high levels of empathy are the best employees, are the most easily trained, most loyal and they enhance the organizations that employ them if they allow them the opportunity to be free to do their work. Basically an environment free of psychopathic control tactics and all the evil that naturally comes with them. (Their father the devil and his demons are always with them.) But he had revealed himself when he showed that he really HATED those with high levels of empathy even though he could see how important they were in creating a cohesive environment, but he himself didn’t value those qualities and resented having to pretend to admire them. He wanted to find the best way to manipulate those of us with high levels of emotional intelligence but he, like this pastor, encourage us to feel guilty and OBLIGATED to evil people because after all –poor little conscienceless evil people are at a disadvantage –so we should feel sorry for them –and him –and fill in for all their shortcomings. Yeah. That’s not gonna work for me either.

    Those who have no conscience have made the choice to not have a conscience. And if this is true, then I have chosen to have a conscience. It’s the choice I made and it’s the choice THEY made. I have to live with the consequences of my choice to feel love, guilt, shame, gratefulness etc., and psychopaths have to live with the choice they made to NOT feel love for others, guilt, shame or gratefulness. If they want to join the party over here on this side of the fence we well welcome them but THEY have to do the work. If I choose to sear my conscience I will have to live with the repercussions of it and some of those repercussions are not being allowed to fellowship in spirit with those who belong to the Lord. My choosing to be a responsible, loving human being doesn’t mean that I have to fill in for those who aren’t and who have chosen to be like their father the devil. Until they choose to have a conscience they are against Jesus and therefore me and the bible (and common sense) tells me to have nothing to do with such people.

    Thank you StandsWithAFist for revealing another wolf in sheep’s clothing and the evil advice
    he’s trying to force on us. These people are always so CREEPY once you realize who they serve (the devil).

    • StandsWithAFist

      All of these responses are so sadly enlightening, and if there is any “theme” it seems as tho men are emasculated (b/c they are all just sad, weak, little boys) and women are to blame (b/c it’s their fault that men are sad, weak little boys).
      Neither of these have any Biblical support, but are lies.
      And we all know who is the father of lies.
      Lies lead to enslavement, not redemption.
      Jesus came to set captives free.
      Even Jesus could not save the Pharisees from themselves, and He called them out on it as they tied up heavy loads but did nothing to help:

      Luke 11:46 But Jesus replied, “Woe to you experts in religious law as well! You load people down with burdens difficult to bear, yet you yourselves refuse to touch the burdens with even one of your fingers!”

      He never told us to pursue Pharisees with more “love”.
      He walked away from them.

      These so-called pastors/counsellors behave as though Jesus got it wrong!

      That’s when it’s time to call them out on it…. walk away.

      “Woe to you experts in religious law! You have taken away the key to knowledge! You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.” -Luke 11:52

  31. onebravegirl

    These were said to me by my (former as of two months ago) pastor:

    “You need to endure and show your children that you are a woman that endures!”
    “This is where you prove your commitment to Christ!!”

    while my (ex) pastor looked at my husband, laughed, told him what a close friend he considered him, and if there was anything at all he could do to help him, just to call…

    When I, wanting to do the “right thing” asked if I could speak to him and his wife alone, he refused, saying he would not speak with me without my h there. — This, although they met weekly for breakfast… I told him of my fear, but it meant nothing to him, and he insisted that I MUST come and speak to him, with my h… that this was Scriptural, this was “God’s order”, that he (pastor) was my biblical authority. So I did, and it was three hours of him, my h, and myself. (I recorded it all, because slowly I am wising up). It was wrong of me to go, but I wanted desperately to obey God, and when you are “in it” it all seems so overwhelming.

    He told me that I was disobeying my spiritual authority. It was very confusing and so hurtful and I’m so glad I’m out — but the spiritual stuff is SO PAINFUL because of the longing in our hearts to please the Lord — I think that is so easily manipulated. It still gets me, to be honest, although I am getting stronger every day and God has given me resources (like this) and loving and honest (and fierce) support.

    Thank you for the work you and the others do in opening eyes to the truth of abuse in “Christian” homes and churches. I am halfway done the book A Cry For Justice and every page is mostly highlighted– I feel like I am reading my life. Thank you.

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