A Cry For Justice

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

Instone-Brewer’s Views on Divorce Compared to Mine: Part 2, Differences.

To most outsiders, the person who leaves the marriage looks like the deserter. If a victim of domestic abuse leaves their abusive partner or in some other way declares the marriage over, and (as is so often the case) the abuser effectively manipulates the perceptions and opinions of the congregation, the church will definitely think that the spouse who left is at fault for deserting the marriage.

Should the victim of abuse leave their partner and refuse to refuse to return, bystanders who are using Instone-Brewer’s words as their guide may think that because this person is refusing to reverse the desertion, this person must be an unbeliever. Instone-Brewer doesn’t sufficiently take that scenario into account. So while he teaches that abuse is grounds for divorce, his wording unfortunately (and I’m sure inadvertently) leaves the door open to the church condemning an abuse victim for leaving the marriage and refusing to return to their partner.

This post spells out the points on which I differ from David Instone-Brewer. In part one of this two-part series I explained my appreciations and agreements with Instone-Brewer.

Unless otherwise stated, the indented quotes below are taken from Instone-Brewer’s scholarly book (Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible).  Quotes taken from his simplified book are cited as DRIC (Divorce and Remarriage in the Church). 

I address abuse more than Instone-Brewer does

Instone-Brewer does not address abuse in as much depth as I do. In his scholarly book he talks about neglect more than he talks about abuse. He does not offer a definition of abuse (or of neglect). In contrast, I define and describe abuse in some detail because I know that without a robust definition of abuse my teaching could be used to open the door to divorce for trivial or self-centred reasons.

It seems to me that Instone-Brewer is less aware of the peculiar dynamics of domestic abuse than I am. Perhaps because of his relative lack of awareness, he says some things that might inadvertently compound the plight of victims of abuse. For example:

Jesus and Paul both emphasized that believers should hold marriages together even at great cost to themselves. (p 297, emphasis in original) 

It seems to me that when Instone-Brewer wrote this he was not aware of how damaging that sentence could be for victims of domestic abuse. Why could it be damaging to victims? Because they would feel he was pressuring them to keep holding the marriage together no matter what it cost them, no matter how much the abuser mistreated them.

We deal with Malachi 2:16 differently

“God hates divorce” is a subhead in Instone-Brewer’s simple book, and he gives this explanation:

God does not criticise the legal process of divorce, or the person who carries it out — otherwise he would criticise himself because he had to divorce Israel. God hates the breaking of marriage vows which result in divorce. (DRIC  p 31, emphasis in original)

He also says (in an endnote in that book just cited) that the ESV and other recent translations are better, because they don’t say ‘God hates’ in Malachi 2:16.

Since I know how harmful the ‘God hates divorce’ saying is to victims of marital mistreatment, I deplore any use of that saying, even when the author gives the caveats Instone-Brewer gives. I wonder whether Instone-Brewer was aware of how often people use ‘God hates divorce’ to coerce victims of abuse to refrain from divorcing their abusers.

We understand Deuteronomy 24:1-4 differently

Instone-Brewer believes the commonly-held assumption that in verse one of Deuteronomy 24, Moses was giving a law that allowed divorce. Commentators often call this ‘the Mosaic concession’. That assumption is one which has been passed down for millennia and accepted as given, but I don’t think it stands the test of exegetical logic.

I don’t believe that in verse one of Deuteronomy 24, Moses was giving a law that permitted divorce. Rather, I believe that in verses one to four of that chapter, Moses was giving a law that prohibited one particular type of remarriage after divorce. That law prohibited a man remarrying a woman he had previously divorced if she had married another man after he divorced her and if that subsequent marriage of hers had terminated (either by divorce or by the death of her second husband). I read verses 1 to 3  as the case study example which sets out the particular and limited conditions in which remarriage after divorce is not allowed.

In a nutshell:– I do not believe that verse 1 is a law giving grounds for divorce. Neither is it a ‘concession’ to divorce that Jesus later tightened up on. I believe verse 4 is the law Moses laid down. And that law prohibited remarriage-after-divorce only in the particular circumstances delineated in verses 1-3.

This means I don’t believe that in Deuteronomy 24 Moses gave a law permitting or enabling men to divorce their wives. Rather, I believe Moses gave a law prohibiting men from remarrying women they had divorced (when the woman had been married a second time and that marriage had ended). This law mentioned cases of men divorcing their wives, but that was only part of the pre-law narrative. It was not a positive ‘permission’ or a ‘concession to divorce’. It simply described what many men were doing already—divorcing their wives.

We disagree about the meaning of ‘erwat dabar’

Another point on which I disagree with Instone-Brewer is his view that erwat dabar (Hebrew) = porneia (Greek). Jesus used the word porneia in Matthew 19:9 and porneia means sexual immorality.

Moses used the words erwat dabar in Deuteronomy 24:1. And the school of Shammai in Jesus’ day thought erwat dabar meant sexual immorality. Many Christians including Instone-Brewer have followed suit with the school of Shammai and assumed it means sexual immorality. But I am not persuaded that erwat dabar = sexual immorality and only sexual immorality. I think it is more likely a generalised and vague phrase that men in Moses day were using when getting rid of their wives for a whole range of reasons. Some of those reasons might have been sound, like a wife’s adultery, but others could have been trivial reasons. “I’ve found some uncleanness in her” is so vague it could mean almost anything.

I see no reason why erwat dabar must refer only to sexual immorality. The phrase is used in just one other place in the bible and there it refers to human excrement that ought to be buried outside the camp, which has nothing to do with sexual immorality but is simply a matter of hygiene and infection control.

By Moses’ report, men in his day were saying, “I’m divorcing my wife because I find some uncleanness in her.” That could been rather like a man saying, “My wife’s disgusting. I’m divorcing her.” And come to think of it, “My wife is disgusting” is rather typical of the disparaging language abusive men use when they are speaking to people they’re not afraid to show their true colours to —particularly other men who share their entitlement mentality. Most of our readers here can think of similar put-downs that have been levelled at them ( fat b*#* … something the cat dragged in … nutcase … fruitcake… ).

We view Jesus’s words about “hard-heartedness” differently

Even if there is unfaithfulness, the Christian should attempt to forgive. Jesus disagreed with the rabbis who said that divorce was commanded in the case of adultery. Jesus said that divorce was merely permitted and that it should be used only if the adulterer is “hard hearted.” … Jesus taught that we should forgive seventy times seven times, though this is dependent on repentance (Luke 17:4). Jesus permitted divorce only if someone hard-heartedly refuses to repent. (p 297)

I think when Instone-Brewer stipulates that divorce is only valid if someone hard-heartedly refuses to repent, he is going beyond what Jesus said in Matthew 19. To give an extreme but plausible example, consider the possibility that a spouse had been unfaithful only once, but on that occasion he or she contracted HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and then he or she had become profoundly repentant. This example proves that it’s ludicrous to argue that “we should forgive seventy times seven times” in the case of adultery. In Matthew 19, Jesus didn’t stipulate that divorce was only permitted when the other spouse was hard-heartedly unrepentant. Jesus simply noted that divorce was permitted (though not obligatory) for sexual immorality. And He didn’t place restrictive conditions. He didn’t say it was only permitted for repeated, non-repented, hard-hearted sexual sin.

Instone-Brewer thinks Jesus said that Moses permitted (condoned) divorce for hard-heartedness. I do not think Moses condoned divorce for hard-heartedness. I think Moses reluctantly tolerated (suffered) the conduct of hard-hearted Jewish men who were dismissing their wives for trivial reasons — but Moses laid down the law that if a man did that, he could not remarry the wife he had cast off once she had been married to someone else.

I  believe that when Jesus said to the Pharisees, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,” Jesus was referring to the fact that Moses suffered men divorcing their wives but drew the line against a man treating his wife as disposable and then re-marrying her after she’d been married to another man. It was this mentality that Moses forbade. Moses only had to institute that law because some men were so hard-hearted as to treat their wives as objects to be discarded like a piece of rubbish but later picked up again. If a man discarded his wife and, after her second marriage had ended, he married her again, it would show he’d been very hard-hearted to have discarded her in first place! It was that kind of male hardheartedness which led to Moses laying down the law in Deuteronomy 24.

Instone-Brewer and I both agree that Jesus was critical of hard-heartedness. But I don’t agree with Instone-Brewer’s view that Jesus was saying divorce is only valid when the vow-breaking spouse shows hard-heartedness in failing to repent.

We disagree about how Jesus stood re Shammai’s doctrine of divorce

Okay, I know this is heady stuff, but I have to say it to make this a thorough explanation of my differences with Instone-Brewer. So bear with me briefly.

I think that Jesus saw fault in how the School of Shammai interpreted Deuteronomy 24. Instone-Brewer thinks that Jesus agreed with the Shammaites. But I don’t believe that.  You really need to study my book to get your head around my argument. I am sad that most people don’t seem to have bothered to grasp the intricacies of my argument.

Why is my argument so intricate? The argument only had to be intricate because the multiple misunderstandings of the scriptures relating to divorce had been so convoluted, so inter-woven, so multi-layered … not to mention how many of them had been traditionally accepted and passed down for centuries millennia.

knot

tangled-knot

 

These misunderstandings were like a complicated wooden puzzle that tests your IQ. Disassembling all the misunderstandings of the scriptural passages on divorce, and then working out where the pieces must correctly go to fit the whole counsel of God, requires brainwork!

iq-3d-wood-puzzle-game-mind-brain-teaser-traditional-educational-wooden-puzzles-toys-for-adults-children-jpg_640x640

 We interpret 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 differently

Instone-Brewer thinks that in these two verses Paul was condemning Greco-Roman ‘divorce-by-separation’. He says:

Paul did not allow any Christian to use the Greco-Roman procedure of divorce by separation.  (p 201)

Paul added that if divorce by separation had occurred, believers must do everything they can to reverse it.  (p 199) 

In verses 10-11, I don’t see Paul telling two believing spouses that they must do everything they can to reverse the separation. Paul gives two options for the spouses in such circumstances:

  1. remain unmarried (= Greco-Roman divorce by separation)
  2. or reconcile.

He does not say one option is better than the other, and he certainly doesn’t demand or require reconciliation of the marriage. I don’t understand how Instone-Brewer thinks that Paul is telling the spouses to “do everything they can to reverse the separation”.  While that may be an allowable inference/application from other parts of Scripture, it is not spelled out by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.

We interpret 1 Corinthians 7:15 differently

Instone-Brewer think this verse only refers to ‘simple’ desertion — when the unbeliever walks out, or throws the believer out/tells the believer to leave. He does not seem to consider the scenario that often occurs in domestic abuse, where a believer might leave an unbeliever because of abuse. He is therefore silent on the idea of constructive desertion as an application of verse 15.

EXPLAINER: In a case of constructive desertion, spouse B separates from spouse A, but the behaviour and attitude of spouse A is what caused spouse B to separate.  The legal term ‘constructive desertion’ points to the fact that although B appears to be the one who left, A is construed as having the caused marital breakdown.

Paul emphasised that the believer should try to maintain a marriage even if the spouse was not a believer. He was writing when some believers had already separated (i.e., divorced) their unbelieving partners, and he told them to seek reconciliation. It was only when their unbelieving partners divorced them against their will that Paul allowed them to regard the marriage as ended in divorce. (p 297)

Consider the typical scenario that occurs in abuse, where the victimized Christian wants to divorce the abuser, but the abuser—the nonbeliever who masquerades as a Christian—is all the time protesting that he wants the marriage to continue.  Now think about how that scenario configures with Instone-Brewer’s rule cited just above, that “It was only when their unbelieving partners divorced them against their will that Paul allowed them to regard the marriage as ended in divorce.” Instone-Brewer seems to have been unaware that his rule would deny the victim the liberty to divorce her abuser. I’m sure Instone-Brewer didn’t mean to deny victims of abuse their freedom. I think he was simply unaware of how his rule would affect victims, because he hadn’t understood enough about the inverted dynamics that characterize abuse. And I’m deliberately speaking in the past tense in this paragraph because for all I know Instone-Brewer is now more aware of the inverted dynamics of abuse. After all, he read my book and wrote an endorsement of it which I was very glad to feature on my back cover! (Thanks, David!)

We differ on Church discipline in relation to 1 Corinthians 7:15

Here is what I believe: an abuser cannot be a Christian.  Why do I  believe this? A regenerate person  who has been born again by God’s grace, could not continue to exert the patterns of coercive control which abusers engage in without being driven to repentance by the Holy Spirit.

When I wrote my book, I advocated for Matthew 18 to be used to determine whether a covenant-breaking spouse who professes Christ is actually an unbeliever and can thus be divorced by the believing partner (1 Cor 7:15 /constructive desertion).  Later I changed my mind (link). I now think that 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 is the most appropriate text when dealing with heinously sinning spouses such as abusers.

Instone-Brewer rejects as ‘legalistic casuistry’ the notion that a person who refuses church discipline is to be treated as a nonbeliever — bringing the situation into the purview of of 1 Cor 7:15. And he doesn’t discuss 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 at all.

He says that 1 Corinthians 7:15 allows divorce for desertion by a nonbeliever OR a so-called believer. He thinks verse 15 applies to any desertion that cannot be reversed.

If believers are deserted by believing partners, Paul commands the deserters to return. There appears to be no doubt that the believers will obey this command. Paul says it is not his own command, but that of Jesus (v. 10: “not I, but the Lord”). Paul therefore does not even discuss the possibility that believing deserters will not return to their partners. If believers did refuse to obey this command, and thereby refuse to obey the direct command of Jesus, the church would presumably be forced to excommunicate them. 

Therefore verse 15 applies not only to desertion by an nonbeliever, but to any desertion that cannot be reversed. Paul assumes that this will occur only if the deserter is a nonbeliever, but in a secular minded church, even a so-called believer disobeys the direct command of Christ.  (282, emphasis in original)

In light of his mention of the church being “presumably forced to excommunicate a deserting believer who refused to reconcile,” I find it strange that Instone-Brewer pretty much dismisses the idea of church discipline as a preliminary to obtaining a valid divorce.

But my more serious concern is this: Instone-Brewer’s teaching in the above quote is dangerous for victims of abuse. It doesn’t take into account that abusers tell everyone they want the separation reversed, which makes the victim looks like a deserter who is sinfully refusing to reverse the separation. (My first two paragraphs in this post highlighted this problem.)  So Instone-Brewer’s interpretation unfortunately—and I’m sure inadvertently—leaves the door open to the church condemning an abuse victim for leaving the marriage and refusing to return to her partner. And many churches DO condemn victims in that way because they do not think the person is a victim of domestic abuse, they only think the person is a sinful for deserting the marriage and refusing to reconcile.

We differ in how we talk about remarriage after divorce

Due to his not taking into account that abusers typically say they want the marriage to continue when their partner decides to divorce, Instone-Brewer says some things that are likely to hurt victims. Here is an example —

Paul’s gives very clear instructions in 1 Corinthians 7:11 that the person who has separated from their partner must remain unmarried and attempt to be reconciled with the person they have divorced. … Few people who divorce someone against their will would bother to obey this command unless, like these Corinthians, they were convicted they had done something wrong soon after the divorce. (DRIC, p 103-4)

Clarification added Dec 27 2016.  Just before this quote Instone-Brewer stated that he was talking about “a groundless divorce”. He believes that Paul, in 1 Cor 7:10f, is referring only to divorces that have no biblical grounds. But I don’t agree: I think 1 Cor 7:10-15 is referring to more kinds of divorces than only the groundless kind.

Instone-Brewer appears to think that his readers will all be persuaded by his view that 1 Cor 7:10-15 is referring ONLY to groundless divorce. But not all his readers interpret 1 Corinthians 7:10-15 the way he does.

In reality, a sincere Christian who divorces an abuser against the abuser’s will has not only ‘bothered’ to try to obey verses 10 & 11 — “the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife” —  the sincere Christian has felt intense conviction at the very prospect of disobeying verse 11 by taking the radical step of divorce. And the sincere Christian may well be suffering condemnation from the church for resisting the church’s pressure to reconcile … because so many churches misjudge abuse situations by perceiving the abuser as the innocent partner.

If a reader is not persuaded by Instone-Brewer’s view that 1 Cor 7:10-15 refers ONLY to groundless divorce, then Instone-Brewer’s words which I quoted above could make a victim of abuse feel guilty for divorcing against their partner’s will and not attempting to be reconciled with the person they have divorced. That’s not helpful at all! It could increase the false guilt of victims, rather than liberating them from false guilt.
End of clarification 

Instone-Brewer does not try not to judge who is the guilty and who is the innocent party. The result is that sometimes he uses mutually blaming language.

Instone-Brewer states that he does not try not to judge who is the guilty and who is the innocent party:

(DRIC p 114)  I have come across too many instances where the innocent partner is ostracised by a church — wives of highly respected ministers who, in private, are abusive or unfaithful, or husbands who are assumed to be guilty of some unknown sin because their wives walked out on them. Only God can reliably judge who is the guilty and who is the innocent partner. In any case, by the time most marriages break up, both partners have broken their vows to support each other.

My own practice therefore is to not attempt to judge who is the innocent and who is the guilty. I feel that it is better to leave justice and forgiveness to God. This does not mean that we should ignore the sin of breaking up the marriage,  but we should remember that we are not the ones against whom the sin has been committed. The person who breaks their marriage vows has sinned against their partner and against God before whom those vows were made, and they should ask forgiveness from both of them. I therefore always have a Service of Repentance for broken promises before any marriage involving a divorcee…

How can he acknowledge the injustice of churches ostracising the innocent partner, but not be prepared to come down and say that Lesley is the innocent partner and Lindsey is the guilty partner? (I chose gender neutral names on purpose.) It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s contradictory. His practice means he can end up mutualizing the blame when it ought not be mutualized. He doesn’t wholly see that in the vast majority of abuse situations, the blame is only, wholly, to be laid on the abuser for breaking the covenant.

And here is another example of him mutualizing the blame; he is writing in response to a victim of abuse.

God loves you and knows that you are a victim, as well as knowing the ways in which you may perhaps have contributed to this marriage breakdown. (DRIC p 166) 

The victim of abuse cannot be held guilty for breaking their marriage vows, just as the Christians in concentration camps couldn’t be held guilty for working on the Sabbath when the Nazis forced them to. I deal with marriage vows in chapter 7 of my book. And unlike Instone-Brewer, I would never suggest a victim of abuse who has divorced the abuser and is going to remarry ought to partake in a Service of Repentance for breaking marriage vows. In my view, that would be laying false blame on the victim.  If the victim asked for that kind of Service, it’s a different matter, but I don’t think it’s up to the pastor to suggest it.

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Related posts:

David Instone-Brewer, The Westminster Confession, and Judging Divorce — by Jeff S

Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it – by Barbara Roberts

How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim – by Jeff Crippen

19 Comments

  1. under the waterfall

    That is inconsistent reasoning re the church discipline. I noticed too that Jesus did not add caveats like ongoing hard hearted adultery, or, if he repents you must reconcile. I think many have forgive and trust or reconcile bound together as if you cannot do one without the other. Perhaps this idea of divorce only being allowed in the case of hard hearted ongoing repentance is due to a WEAK view of sin, not the strong view of it they suppose it means?

  2. LauraGrace

    These misunderstandings were like a complicated wooden puzzle that tests your IQ. Disassembling all the misunderstandings of the scriptural passages on divorce, and then working out where the pieces must correctly go to fit the whole counsel of God, requires brainwork!

    I often wonder why God allowed the subject of divorce to be so hidden, complicated, and misunderstood in Scripture, that only people driven to near insanity with suffering would find the conviction to dig deep enough to find the truth.

    • I have occasionally wondered that too. I think it’s a little like what Jesus alluded to here:

      “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV)

      • In other words perhaps one reason that God allowed misunderstandings of the scriptures on divorce to become so tangled, is that the tangle would sift many many believers, test them, prompt them to re-think ideas when their ideas were NQR – not quite right – not resulting in a doctrine which conformed to all the attributes of God: His mercy; His compassion for the repentant sinner; His justice; His hatred for sin; His right judgement; His love and protection for his flock; His love of truth… And His exhortations that the church must not oppress the poor but must protect the vulnerable (widows, children, sojourners, etc).

      • MarkQ

        Definitely agree. I think there is a surface simplicity (love your neighbor as yourself), but a very complex interaction underneath. My takeaway has been that theologians who have to ignore or wave away passages in order for their arguments to stand aren’t making a convincing argument, and especially those who take something Jesus did, take, for example, cleansing the temple, and wave it away by saying, well, he’s God and God has the authority to do that.

    • H

      I’m not sure if in your comment you meant that the teachings on divorce in Scripture are hidden and complicated or whether you mean that people’s perception of them are. I know I’ve wondered about both of those questions. But I personally found that reading Barbara’s book felt like a dark veil being lifted off my eyes… suddenly the teachings in Scripture on divorce, sin, genuine repentance, and reconciliation all seem so breathtakingly crystal clear, consistent, and full of sweet mercy and justice – for the first time! My heart sings with the breathtaking righteousness and justice and wisdom of our God! Other common schools of thought on divorce, abuse, and repentance are full of inconsistencies, pit some verses against others making God’s word imperfect, are cruel and unjust towards the “innocent”, and minimize the serious effects of sin.

      It seems that over centuries Satan has had much success in confounding a larger portion of the professing church, which makes perfect sense, as it serves his purpose in enslaving the weak and helpless and quieting the consciences of those prone to Phariseeism. It’s incredibly sad, especially when I think of the pain of the potentially millions of women and children who have been harmed by enslaving teachings on marriage and divorce. But while I mourn it, I can’t be surprised, as Satan is the prince of this world right now and his goal is to steal, kill, and destroy.

  3. MarkQ

    I would offer another interpretation of the “hardness of hearts”. The death penalty was similarly required due to the hardness of the Israelites’ hearts. In Eden, there was no need for the death penalty. But, because the entrance of sin led to murder, there needed to be a consequence for taking life, and a protection against further taking of life.

    I think Jesus is arguing from the general to the specific. He shows the broad view of the OT case law – that it was needed generally because of sin, more specifically because of the general sin of the Israelites (hardness of heart), and most specifically exactly how this sin was demonstrated in the breaking of the marriage covenant.

    This is in opposition to the Pharisees, who argued more from the specific to the general. They wanted to argue that Moses’s teaching on divorce made the subsequent mistreatment of their wives okay. Isn’t it ironic that Jesus’s argument itself has been taken from specific to general in a way to justify continued mistreatment of domestic abuse victims?

    • Yes, but if you argue that, MarkQ, I believe it’s important to state what specific law (case law) Jesus was referring to in that discussion with the Pharisees. The Pharisees (and most of the church) assumed that the law was Deuteronomy 24 verse ONE. But verse one isn’t the law in that pericope; verse FOUR is the law in that pericope.

      But the irony — oh yes indeed! It is ironic (and tragic) that Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19 has been interpreted in a way that justifies the continued mistreatment of domestic abuse victims!

      If you haven’t yet read my book, Mark, I encourage you to do so. 🙂

  4. under the waterfall

    Barb, I can see that indeed, you are quite right, that to truly arrive at a biblical understanding of this is brain work and then some. I have asked myself the same question; if marriage is so darn important to God, and as some groups assert, an issue that, if you make a mistake in what you think is permissible, could affect your eternity, why wasn`t He an awful lot more specific and detailed? Surely He knew what a difficult hot topic it would be for the church. Yet at the moment I am going to have to start small. As in what is a pericope? 🙂

    • pericope
      noun
      an extract from a text, especially a passage from the Bible
      an extract or selection from a book, especially a reading from a Scripture that forms part of a church service

      And Wikipedia says:
      A pericope (/pəˈrɪkəpiː/; Greek περικοπή, “a cutting-out”) in rhetoric is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, suitable for public reading from a text, now usually of sacred scripture.

      • under the waterfall

        Thanks! Funny how close that word is to “periScope“, a method of having a look see above you from under water.

  5. Fool me once

    “by the time most marriages break up, both partners have broken their vows to support each other.” NO NO NO NO. It was awful for me, to be asked to tell a counselor what my “role” was in the breakup of the marriage, as if I had somehow done something to provoke or deserve the abuse. I was not perfect, of course, but that doesn’t mean I broke my vow to support my former spouse.

    • It was awful for me, to be asked to tell a counselor what my “role” was in the breakup of the marriage, as if I had somehow done something to provoke or deserve the abuse.
      Fool me once,
      That was the same misapplied assumption proposed many times to me at the height of abuse. (much of it coming from, you guessed it.. the false church)

      This is really another tactic that “exposes” who the cohorts of evil are, as they try to bluff Gods people into blaming themselves for being targeted by the very one that vowed to honor and cherish them.

      As sad as it is,- it is a “tell” as to who is NOT on your side.
      They cannot see truth from lies, NOR do they want to- because it costs them too much.

      When asked the question ” And what was your role in this dysfunctional marriage?…
      I would take comfort knowing I was vindicated by the Lord, and say
      “My role is..I am the target of his abuse”
      That usually would shut them up for a while.

      • LauraGrace

        One thing I heard a lot was that even if I wasn’t the guilty party, I certainly “allowed” the abuser to treat me the way he did. He even used to tell me that any other woman would have gotten along with him and been happy with him!

      • Hi LauraGrace
        this post may interest you, if you haven’t already seen it. 🙂
        Enabling? Sins of the victim? Tetchy topics indeed!

      • It seems some people try to devise a rabbithole comeback for every which way the innocent target turns.

        But using their same “enablement logic,” I asked how would this apply in cases of innocent children duped by child molesters?
        Did they enable their molesters into molesting them?

        My Exs- fake churchy friend lost his cool when I presented this logic to him, as he accused me of comparing him to a child molester.
        Funny how they tend to get frantic when you are on the cusp of truth.

        Well, I said, all I know is its not my fault.
        Im just tired of being abused.

  6. under the waterfall

    Fool Me Once, I find it VERY frustrating, when dealing with Christians on anything that is at issue, how often folks speak what they`ve been told to speak or what they`ve heard someone else say or teach or just blindly repeat whatever is in their theological box even when its obvious they are being presented with something that brings those assumptions into question. They just pick it up and pass it on without discerning it first. Can`t tell you how many times people have preached at me about not forsaking fellowship with one another and yet if you asked them to define what the bible means by fellowship, they wouldn`t have a clue, if you asked them if what the bible means is actually happening at their church, they`d dance around it and hem and haw. Never mind asking them if God requires us to attend churches where no real fellowship is or can occur and the church is lifeless or on life support and thinks its doing fine.

    I attended a vineyard church for a while and some idea or teaching would make the rounds. For instance, once it was a version of bloom where you are planted. So if you went up for prayer, the “word“ you would receive would be some variant of that. Sometimes there were pieces of wisdom clearly spirit led, but often this sort of unthinking one size fits all stuff would go and it was very frustrating and sometimes hurtful too. It`s obvious to me that Christians are not taught how to think and discern critically or encouraged to do so in many churches. In fact, being Berean can make you a bit of a problem, because you start noticing that its more culturally acclimated Christianity than truly biblical Christianity. Barb`s remarks about having to really dig into scripture resonate with me. I believe the call to do so is upon me.

    • LauraGrace

      Exactly, standsfortruth. It’s the same when you ask “lifers” (those who think marriage is for life no matter what the abuser does to you) if they think God really expects a woman to stay married to a man who molests their children or rapes or murders someone. Usually they will say, “Well, no of course not.” Really? Well, where does it say in the Bible that it’s okay to divorce a child molester, rapist, or murder? It doesn’t. Right. So how come you say it’s okay to divorce a murder, rapist or child molester, but not a wife beater, emotional abuser, con man, tyrant, liar, etc. Blank stare. Eye roll. Deep sigh.

  7. Anonymous

    Here are some earlier posts that contain info from Instone-Brewer. It’s good to see that truth was spoken here on ACFJ from the beginning and even though the new posts might be similar, it’s still important to do this (present new posts addressing previous information). Not everyone has the time to go back and dig through all the posts (with their many comments that add to the wisdom addressed) and may only have time to view the most recent ones. Repetition with our current insights obtained through our daily walk with Jesus, into the biblical wisdom written of, keeps us all in-tune and fresh with God’s truth through his word.

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/10/14/david-instone-brewer-the-westminster-confession-and-judging-divorce/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/06/25/interview-with-david-instone-brewer-author-of-divorce-remarriage-in-the-bible/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/02/03/23285/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/09/07/covenant-and-contract-are-they-different-things/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/08/12/16990/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/testimonies/

    These are just a few…..

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