A Cry For Justice

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

One of the Worst Letters We Have Seen From a Pastor to an Abuse Victim

I think this is one of the most cruel letters from a pastor to an abuse victim that I have seen. While it is very similar in ways to others I have read, it is remarkably deceptive in a number of ways. The “love” words it uses. The selective and dishonest quotes it lays on her. And the not so veiled threat of “obey us or else.” Names have been removed and replaced with [wife] and [husband] for the protection of the victim. She has given us full permission to publish it. Her abuser used emotional, spiritual, sexual, and economic oppression against her over a period of many years.  Keep that in mind when you read what this “pastor” and his elders say to her here. Many, many thanks to her from all of us.

Oh, and this is not some isolated, independent pastor and church. This is a mainline, conservative Presbyterian denominational church — the PCA — that applauds itself in the seminary preparation of its pastors.

So, here you go. As for me, let me say that reading this was like reading a letter from the prince of darkness, a cunning liar working to enslave. I was very tempted to insert my comments into the letter but decided it would be best if you read it for yourselves and put your comments here on the blog. I will provide just a few questions to provoke our thinking as you read it.

  1. Who is a Christian according to this pastor?
  2. What does “redeeming a marriage” mean? Is that a biblical concept?
  3. How often does this pastor claim to know the thoughts and feelings of the victim?
  4. How many abusive, oppressive marriages, according to this pastor, must we expect the Lord to “redeem”?
  5. What kind of authority does this pastor claim to have over the victim?
  6. Do you see guilting statements leveled at the victim?
  7. Is marriage an “inviolable bond”?
  8. Who is the pastor accusing of “abandonment”? The abuser or the victim?
  9. For all of his talk of how grieved he is for her, does this pastor really “feel” for her?

And one final point as you begin. This letter quotes a paragraph from the PCA Position Paper on Divorce and Remarriage which we have listed on this page of our resources where we stated our concerns about it. That paper recommends that abuse is abandonment and grounds for divorce. BUT THIS PASTOR AND ELDER BOARD ONLY QUOTED ONE PARAGRAPH THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT SUPPORTS THEIR CHARGE AGAINST HER! They conveniently left out the rest of  what the Position Paper said. That is rank deception and spiritual malpractice. We will include the rest of that committee’s statement at the end of this post.

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Dear [wife’s name],

We grieve, along with you and [husband], at the present state of your marriage relationship. We know, both from Scripture and experience, that marriage is hard. Even as Christians we sin against one another. Even as Christians we hurt one another. We acknowledge that the emotional wounds that are inflicted in this most intimate of human relationships are real, painful and deep. We believe that even the best Christian marriage is comprised of two redeemed sinners who will inevitably sin against the One before whom our vows are made and the one to whom our vows are given. Your marriage is no different. Sin has occurred, both willfully and unintentionally, as both you and [husband] have acknowledged.

We also want you to know that we have appreciation for how someone can feel so hurt, so overwhelmed, so alone, so utterly hopeless after years of living in a situation that they believe there remains only one option open to them—leaving.

Yet we also believe that a Christian marriage, no matter how shaky its foundations or deep the patterns of sin, can be redeemed and restored by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not that the gospel is a magic wand, nor will necessarily repair things overnight, but we believe it provides the resources we need to walk the hard road of repentance, reconciliation and restoration. When someone has been living within a dysfunctional marriage for so long, often doing so in secret, it is very easy to assume that nothing will ever change. That is our natural human response; understandably so.

This is one reason why God has placed us in community with one another and under the shepherding of those who are entrusted to care for us. One of the roles that our church community and leaders play in our lives is to remind us and call us to respond to life and circumstances in a way that lines up with the gospel we profess. Sadly, in your decision to withdraw from your marriage you have also withdrawn from your church family and the counsel of those who care deeply for you and [husband].

We acknowledged that you have been sinned against in your marriage. [Husband]  has acknowledged this to you and to us. He has expressed remorse and repentance. He has sought counsel and accountability. In saying this, we in no way want to minimize the pain you have experienced. But we also understand that it is easy to respond to sin against us with our own compounding sin.

And it is for this reason that there is a certain difficulty in writing this letter to you. But our hope is that you will see this letter as a demonstration of our love for you by warning you of the seriousness of your actions. We understand that only God can evaluate the human heart, but we must tell you that the decisions you have made are not consistent with how the Bible describes a follower of Jesus Christ.

The marriage relationship we enter into before God is an inviolable bond. Sadly, because of sin, this can be and is broken by adultery. We are grateful that there have been no reports in your marriage of such serious sin that could in fact become grounds for permissible divorce. However, there is another sin that can occur that is tantamount to divorce, and that is abandonment. Our view is that Scripture teaches that abandonment is not necessarily grounds for divorce, but rather effectively is a divorce. In other words, when one leaves or abandons a marriage for unbiblical grounds, they have essentially created a divorce.

When you initially left months ago, we were hopeful that it would be a temporary season that would provide clarity and a willingness for both of you to begin moving towards reconciliation. Sadly, it has not. In fact, as the months have passed it appears to us by your actions that you have only grown in your commitment to abandoning the marriage and not seeking reconciliation.

While Scripture does permit a “season of separation” for prayer, by mutual consent, it does not permit an extended, unilateral leaving of the marriage. Some might argue that there is allowance for separation without divorce, but a careful reading of Scripture does not support such a position. 1 Corinthians 7, verses 10 and 11, are key verses of instruction to two spouses, both of whom are believers:

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): 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.

In these verses, Paul tells the Christian wife not to “separate from” (chorizo) her Christian husband, and likewise tells the husband not to “divorce” (aphiemi) his wife. In the context of Greco-Roman practice, the verbs used for “to separate from” and “divorce” are used synonymously. The critical point here is that Paul is telling them not to “divorce” each other. In other words, Paul uses Greek words which in this context are referring to divorce, not separation as we know it. Here is what one highly-regarded New Testament scholar, Gordon Fee, writes concerning this important passage of Scripture:

Much has been made of the use of the verb “to separate oneself from” (chorizo), in distinction from the verb used in vs. 12-13, “to divorce” (aphiemi). But that probably reflects our own urgencies for greater precision. Divorce in Greco-Roman culture could be “legalized” by means of documents; but more often it simply happened. In this culture divorce was divorce, whether established by a document or not. Either the man sent his wife away (=”divorce” in the sense of v. 12), or else either of them “left” the other (=”to separate”)…Ordinarily when the wife “divorces” she simply leaves her husband (“is separated” from him); the same verb is used in v. 15 of a pagan partner of either sex who leaves, and occurs regularly in the papyri for mutual divorce (agreeing “to separate from each other”). On the other hand, a man ordinarily “divorced” his wife (“sent her away”); nonetheless in v. 13 the wife can do the same.

This is how our own PCA denomination position paper addresses these verses:

We tend to interpret verses 10-11 in terms of modern day separation rather than divorce. But the Bible does not deal with the idea of separation as a “half-way house” step as we know it. Perhaps the biblical writers were so committed to the permanence of marriage that they did not want to study ways to effect temporary separation. But more likely, it was the fact that separation in first century society was de facto divorce. That these verses were clearly referring to divorce is evidenced by the fact that the believing wife is called “unmarried” (agamos) in verse 11.

In short, what we believe Scripture teaches is that there are only two conditions Christian spouses can live in: married or divorced. There is no space for those who remain married yet live separated/estranged. Such a condition is not marriage, but is in essence a divorce.

Again, we cannot emphasize enough our understanding of and compassion for the level of pain and disappointment you have experienced in your marriage over the years. We believe that repentance and forgiveness must happen. We believe that sinful patterns and behaviour must be addressed. We do not believe, however, that the action of leaving your marriage is an acceptable, biblical, God-honouring response to these difficulties.

As a church community we expect each of us to respond to sin — our own and others — from a position of brokenness and humility, seeking repentance where necessary and granting forgiveness where required. [Wife], our call to you is to faithfulness to your vows before God, trusting that his grace is sufficient and that his gospel offers full provision for what you need. Our call to you is to begin to take the necessary steps towards reconciliation and healing of the breach. Our call to you is to come under the care and counsel of brothers and sisters who love you in Christ and desire to see you and [husband[ flourish and strengthened.

[Wife], we love you, and even though it would be easier to do nothing, we hope that this letter will be seen by you as evidence of our love and concern for you, and of our love for the honor of Christ supremely.

On behalf of the Session,

_____________, Pastor/Teaching Elder

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And here is “the rest of the story” that this pastor and his elders deceptively and dishonestly failed to include in this letter. This is from the PCA position paper which you can find on our resources page or through PCA History (see pp 227-228).

4. Applying Paul’s instruction about desertion today

Are there other forms of — separation‖ today that may be considered equivalent to this leaving of the marriage of which Paul speaks? Specifically, what about cases of habitual physical abuse? Has that person deserted his spouse to the extent we may label it de facto divorce? We must be careful not to open the floodgate of excuses. On the other hand, we need to recognize the reality of the ―separation‖. We should allow Sessions the liberty to discern with much prayer what would be the proper response in particular circumstance. Several considerations incline us to agree with those of our authorities who have maintained that desertion can occur as well by the imposition of intolerable condition as by departure itself. We are struck by the fact that, taking Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 together, it appears that the Lord concedes the necessity of the abolition of marriage in certain cases precisely so as to protect a blameless spouse from intolerable conditions. Further, taking into account both the general principles of Biblical ethics and the Scripture’s characteristic manner of ethical instruction, viz. the statement of commandments in a general form to which is added case law sufficient to indicate the manner of application, it seems to us that those Reformed authorities are correct who have argued that sins which are tantamount in extremity and consequence to actual desertion should be understood to produce similar eventualities (cf. Larger Catechism, Q. 99, A. 6).

What is more, a husband’s violence, particularly to the degree that it endangers his wife’s safety, if unremedied, seems to us, by any application of Biblical norms, to be as much a ruination of the marriage in fact as adultery or actual departure. This is so precisely because his violence separates them, either by her forced withdrawal from the home or by the profound cleavage between them which the violence produces, as surely as would his own departure, and is thus an expression of his unwillingness ―to consent‖ to live with her in marriage (1 Cor. 7:12-13; Eph. 5:28-29). Further, insofar as the ―passivity‖ of the blameless spouse is an important prerequisite in Paul‘s permission of the dissolution of marriage on account of desertion, it seems right to note that in the case of physical abuse, for example, the blameless spouse is similarly victimized. Finally, credible alternatives to this point-of-view seem to us to be wholly lacking Scriptural support. It is all very well to recommend separation as a temporal expedient to protect a battered wife, but perpetual separation amounts to a Roman Catholic doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage and could scarcely be justified as a Biblical alternative to divorce.

 

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89 Comments

  1. I’ve read only the first paragraph so far. But already I see (1) Setting the groundwork by devoting the whole first paragraph to sin leveling. (2) Using “comprised” instead of “composed.” Ugh. Which one is worse? Hmmm.

    Just kidding, of course. (But I felt compelled to point out something that I know other grammar guardians will notice too. Maybe it’s like shouting “first!”)

  2. E

    …even the best Christian marriage is comprised of two redeemed sinners…
    Your marriage is no different.

    Someone who cannot tell or will not admit the difference between “The best Christian marriage” and this wife’s marriage is an idiot or an evil liar.

  3. mackie

    What is it about churches and divorce? Is there some kind of competition to have the fewest divorces in your congregation? Pastors like this one seem to see separation/divorce as some kind of personal affront, like it poorly reflects on their shepherding, somehow.

    The tone of the letter seemed very supercilious, very condescending. It does carry an implied “or else” throughout.

    I also hate how smugly he voices empathy for the abuse she’s gone through. He asserts a couple of times that he is not minimizing her pain, but the very tone of the entire letter does just that. It implies that she has overreacted, and that what her abuser did isn’t as bad as she is making it out to be.

    Getting this type of letter when I was in her shoes would have greatly increased my anxiety and my pain over the losses I had and was experiencing. And to be honest, it probably would have assured that I didn’t ever attend that church again. Maybe any church. Christians are so often their own worst enemy.

    • Hi dear sister, I changed your screen name to Mackie — welcome, and thanks for your comment 🙂

      It may not be safe for you to use a screen name here which might identify you; that’s why I changed your screen name. I encourage you to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I agree with you, the tone of the pastor’s letter is very supercilious.

    • You have it so right…as if the churches reputation is tied up in how many strong marriages there are in the congregation. The problem with this is that churches are like unto hospitals…sick people go there to be made well…just as sinners come to church to be made whole. If there wasn’t sin in the world we wouldn’t need Christ. Dogmatic thinking has led to spiritual blindness…masks.

    • Hi again, your screen name is not changed to Mackie, as per your request.

      • Hello Sunshine

        I remember a pastor explaining from the pulpit, like it made all the sense in the world, that when a couple divorced that he had counseled, or even just performed their marriage ceremony, he was angry at the affront to his ministry. His overriding emotions were anger at the embarrassment they brought to him and offense at their abandoning his counsel.

      • Welcome to the blog, Hello Sunshine! 🙂 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.

  4. How utterly abhorrent. I really don’t understand how they can overlook the physical abuse, as if it had never occurred. The husband is obviously operating outside doctrinal norms to the point of endangering the wife’s life! How can they not see this? But then I too had to deal with church elders who not only took me to task for wanting to be safe, but called me to reconciliation with my ex. I was asked to leave the church because I didn’t. They actually said to me I was delusional and in need of psychiatric care because of what I told them about his abuse…but then he was/is such a con man and so very good at the game. Praise God I’ve a good Church Family now…and I’m actually living with my pastor (different church) and his wife and their family. This pastor had tried to give us marriage counseling (ex was very abusive after each session). He knows the truth of what my ex was like as he was able to get some truth out of him.

    I grieve for this woman, and the church as a whole. God did not EVER intend Marriage to be slavery….but a partnership. Where one spouse can rely on the other to handle every issue out of a place of love. When that goes out the window to the point of abuse of any sort…the sanctity of the marriage has been broken. I know the games these people play and they play the repentance card well and often…but I also know how the monster lurks behind the mask of Christianity. It often takes some one who has experienced this type of demonic activity to understand it let alone acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately. And I Do STRONGLY believe it IS demonic in nature…that why and how they are so cunning. The church needs to realize and acknowledge this fact and stop hiding their heads in the proverbial sand.

    And as Always, Thank You for the excellent articles and your continuing work on the behalf of survivors.

  5. M&M

    All the “love” is based on the assumption that the pastor can make the guy change and know when his repentance is real. But he can’t.

  6. “While Scripture does permit a “season of separation” for prayer, by mutual consent, it does not permit an extended, unilateral leaving of the marriage.”

    This is a grievous misapplication of this verse. Do they even realize what they are saying here? According to their application of this verse, a wife could not flee her violent husband unless he agreed to her leaving, and they both agreed to fast and pray while she was gone!

    Some people I know would be literally dead if this passage had been misinterpreted in their case. I know one man, for example, who — as a young boy — fled with his mother out of a bedroom window as his stepfather was battering the door down in order to shoot them all. He would certainly never have consented to a “season of separation”.

    • StandsWithAFist

      As the fog lifts, it becomes easier to see these people are typical & predictable; given enough time they will contradict themselves in the same sentence.

      This is evident when they claim that marriage is “an inviolable bond”, followed by the contradiction, “a season of separation”. Well, which is it??

      It can’t be both.

      So like typical, arrogant, pious abusers, they rationalize this thru scripture-twisting gymnastics, followed by a healthy dose of shame and blame.

      Thus they elevate marriage to idolatry, and become false teachers in the process.

      Shame on them.

      • Raped By Evil

        StandsWithAFist, What you’ve written is gold! How abusers–once identified–ARE typical and predictable. Like the bible tells us they are:

        –2 Peter 2:12, ” These men are like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed. They blaspheme in matters they do not understand, and like such creatures, they too will be destroyed.”

        –Jude 1:10, “These men, however, slander what they do not understand, and like irrational animals, they will be destroyed by the things they do instinctively.”

        From an article about psychopaths (bolded words for emphasis):

        “Because psychopaths are guided by such a different thought process than non-psychopathic humans, we tend to find their behavior inexplicable. But they’re actually MUCH EASIER TO PREDICT than the rest of us once you understand them. Psychopaths follow MUCH STRICTER BEHAVIOR PATTERNS than the rest of us because they are unfettered by conscience, living solely for their own aggrandizement. (The difference is so striking that Fuselier trains hostage negotiators to identify psychopaths during a standoff, and immediately REVERSE TACTICS if they think they’re facing one. It’s like flipping a switch between two alternate brain-mechanisms.)”

        Evil people who are as the bible describes them above, cannot change. Notice that these bible passages DO NOT tell us to pray for them or aid them in their relationships with others or to teach them to act differently. It states what they are as a forewarning to us so that we can identify them and keep them out of the church lest they corrupt it and destroy those who truly belong to Jesus. I’ve never heard this addressed by any pastor except Pastor Crippen and Sam Powell.

        And the part about completely flipping the switch on how you deal with them is something every non-psychopath needs to be taught. We do NOT try to “love them into the kingdom,” or partner them with a person who is highly-conscienced hoping some of it will “rub off” on them. We acknowledge who they are and deny them access to us.

  7. A

    Ack! I could barely read that and just started skimming at the end. Two things come to mind: victim blaming and spiritual abuse. Such an unloving letter. Let’s hit this poor woman over the head with manipulated Bible verses and demand that she “reconcile” with her abusive husband.

    One of my biggest concerns was the sentence when they state that the husband had expressed remorse and repentance. I suppose they believe this. Have they seen any try evidence of this, or do we just demand that this woman return to her abuser because he said he was sorry. (I’m sure he is sorry, sorry that he got caught)

    I hope she ran like the wind away from that church!

  8. Oh my word. This sounds EXACTLY as if it were written by my former pastor. These guys must be using the same Blame_the_Victim.doc template!

    • Spiritually abused

      Yes mine too!(old one 🙂 since I left that church and will NEVER sit under his teaching again)

  9. sheisovercoming

    I just want to cry… for myself, my children, and all of the women and their children who have been spoken to in this very evil way. One pastor and one nouthetic counselor said these things to me, then followed it with, “He’s a good catch. There are a lot of women in my church who would be glad to get him.” My thoughts were, “Shouldn’t shepherd’s protect their sheep against wolves?” Later, I realized there was more than one wolf involved.

    • grace551

      I totally agree with you – there was more than one wolf involved. I hope you are safe now.

  10. Intothelight1

    Perhaps the man from the pulpit has endured decades of marriage disfuction. Either he or his wife is the abuser. He may brag of the many years he has been faithfully married? This has been my experience sitting under a pastors teaching. Like its a prize to be won by the couple who can endure the longest in a unhappy marriage. What is the prize anyway ? Does God dole out paper certificates, with gold stars to those who have stayed married the longest? The Shepard of the flock is to set a example of Christ to his sheep. Not brag how long he has stayed married. God is not a slave driver. Nor is He a blame shifter. God already wrote a letter. We need men of God who know how to read it. Live it. Walk it. This would bring glory to God on high.

    • Free At Last

      Yes, I have first hand seen behind the scenes in this pastor’s 2nd marriage. It is shocking.

  11. MaxGrace

    Chorizo is actually a wonderful Portuguese pork sausage. That’s the first thing I thought about when reading this condescending letter.
    This pastor thinks he can delegate someone to untold suffering behind closed doors and say its okay because the perpetrator “expressed remorse and repentance.?” He uses Greek words to impress her with his spiritual superiority? What the pastor doesn’t know is that’s far from the first time remorse and repentance was pledged in this long standing affliction. Let’s all pretend. If we close our eyes, it might all get better and we won’t have to get our hands dirty. They are so disappointed with her because she left and in fact is loathe to return to such abuse. She’s a failure in their eyes. What arrogance, what insensitivity, what hogwash, what use of the scripture to impart even more suffering on someone who is seeking much needed asylum and refreshing. . They don’t want a “failed marriage” in their congregation. How utterly stone hearted and phony. Their facade has been cracked.

    I want to pray for this sister.
    “Help her, Lord. Set her free. Show us Lord, that your greatness cannot be contained, nor can your words be manipulated by those who are ignorant of your great Heart, in order to inflict unnecessary abuse and harm on your children. They’re doing it in Your Name Lord, and we know and have learned of your absolute faithfulness, justice and righteousness. Don’t let them make a mockery, Father, of all that is Holy. Lift up a standard against such legalism.
    Reveal Yourself, my God in your great mercy and compassion to your child. May the Joy of the Lord be her strength, and your lovely Name a Hiding place, for her. Your Name is a place of comfort, acceptance and hope for your blood bought children. You are indeed a rock that is higher than I, than “us”. Let her go forth in your Presence, and guide her every step with Your Word and your living Spirit. We acknowledge you. Direct her path as you have pledged in your word to those you acknowledge You. Set the captive free. Heal her broken heart, you who have come for a bride. We cast our care upon You because You Lord, indeed care for us. Amen”

    • Outside the old wineskin

      And for all our sisters who are likewise afflicted. Amen.

  12. Onlymyopinion

    It’s unfortunate that we cannot be privy to the letter that was written to the husband by this pastor.
    Was he given as much biblical information about his sinful abuse to his wife causing her to leave after probably decades? What kind of accountability was the husband required to make for his long-term sinful behavior?
    Pastor’s Quote: “One of the roles that our church community and leaders play in our lives is to remind us and call us to respond to life and circumstances in a way that lines up with the gospel we profess”. When and how often did you remind the husband of his Christian duty to his wife? Sermons on men behaving badly towards their own family? Sunday School lessons on treating your wife with respect and dignity? Servant’s attitude at home first?

    • Lea

      Apparently if you don’t leave, you can be as evil and hateful as possible and it’s ok by them.

      • Liz

        That’s exactly what I fear in my situation. I’ve been to the church for help, and my pastor agrees that the situation cannot go on. But he is still taking the approach at the moment that things can be changed, that if my husband meets with him on a weekly basis for “accountability” then things will work out. I was told that there is a spiritual purpose in this, and that God has great plans for us as a couple, and that sometimes God is going to ask me to do things I think are hard, or wrong, or unfair, in order to save the marriage. That scares me so much because I feel like they might blame me if I left; that they would see leaving as giving up, not letting God work in my life.

      • Liz, I think every time we hear a survivor say the kind of thing you’ve said here, the church never properly supports the victim. The way this pastor responded when you asked for help, shows that he will continue to fail to properly support you. Your fear of being blamed by the church is well-founded.

        I encourage you to start mentally preparing yourself so that when they blame and stigmatize you, the arrows they shoot at you will not go in to your heart, so to speak. Pastors like this are not walking with Christ. They are leading with arrogance and are unwilling to be shown their mistakes. They very seldom soften. They seldom truly believe the victim. They are easily swayed by the abuser. If this church does blame you and stigmatize you, be assured that Christ will not be agreeing with them. Christ will not blame you if you decide to leave. And that applies two ways: Christ will not blame you if you leave your husband. Christ will not blame you if you leave that church. Christ advised us to shake the dust off our feet in such situations.

        So, whatever that pastor and church may say about you it is only their opinion, it’s not God’s opinion.

      • Raped By Evil

        Liz, What Barb wrote is invaluable and I would like to add something as well.

        You may want to ask your pastor if he would be able to identify people that the bible describes in

        –2 Timothy 3:1-5
        –Romans 1:29-32
        –Jude 1:10-13
        –2 Peter 2:12-22.

        You may also want to ask his view on what he considers to be wicked and evil behavior such as what is often addressed in the Psalms. Does he believe it’s okay to pray as David did to keep the evildoers bound up or marked for destruction?

        You are placing you mental, emotional, spiritual health — which is connected to your physical heath as well — into this person’s hands and this IS a huge deal, so don’t be afraid to ask some questions. If your pastor gets blustery or tries to include you in the blame of your husband’s behavior, or to discount your husband’s abuse — you need say no more — you may have found your answer to his take on abuse and “your” place in your husband’s evil.

      • Charis

        Liz~

        “I was told that there is a spiritual purpose in this, and that God has great plans for us as a couple, and that sometimes God is going to ask me to do things I think are hard, or wrong, or unfair, in order to save the marriage. That scares me so much because I feel like they might blame me if I left; that they would see leaving as giving up, not letting God work in my life.”

        I heard the same things from my Pastor-Elders. It was clear they wanted our marriage to be the spotlight, show-and-tell, highlight of the year comeback story. A testimony on the platform of God’s redemption…and they were upset, angry, disappointed that I was the one slowing things down, derailing their progress. I was ruining things for them.

        “…and that sometimes God is going to ask me to do things I think are hard, or wrong, or unfair, in order to save the marriage.”

        Funny thing is God DID ask me to do things that were hard, felt extremely “wrong” in the cognitive dissonance of my mind and religious upbringing and seemed unfair at the time. Leaving was all of those things and more. It was SCARY. And it was right.

        It was the right path – not to save the marriage – but to save myself, my sanity, my health and that of my son. I remember wrestling with God over that path. Really, God? If this is Your plan should it feel like this? Wouldn’t Your will feel good? Feel comfortable? Those thoughts led me back to my Bible and stories of people I thought most likely did NOT feel safe or fun or comfortable when they were most aligned with what God was asking them to do. I dug into Moses and the exodus. My heart ached for Mary and her scandal of pregnancy. I identified with Abraham and his taking of Isaac to be a sacrifice. How was any of that…safe? or comfortable? or PREDICTABLE? I tried to put myself in their place and thought – how did they do it?! Didn’t they likely think “How could God possibly be asking me to do this? Do I have it wrong? Did I hear God right?” I knew then that leaving was not just what I should do…it was what God was ASKING me to do. I also read a post here about “what if divorce was God’s will?” and that helped tremendously.

        So, yes – When God asks us to do what is right, it often doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels upside-down and inside-out. And it is often the doorway to His presence, His showing of Himself in ways never before experienced – opening ways for Him to show how He delights in us. O, how He loves. Precariously deep and extravagantly wild – and oh-so trustworthy.

        May you find peace amidst your steps.

      • Liz

        Thank you everyone. It’s so good to feel overt support.

        Charis, I really relate to what you wrote. I feel like if I’m really trusting Jesus I *should* be able to stay and work things out. That maybe it’s not really so bad, he has his good days, I’m sure he’s not a bad person really. But also I think that if I was looking in on this situation from the outside, I’d be telling myself to leave, even though it feels scary. i have not seen real repentance yet, even though loads of things have been tried. I recently found a comment I made on a blog saying exactly the same thing, and that was 3 years ago, so that tells you how much true repentance there as been.

        I know what you mean about the cognitive dissonance! I have this picture in my head of what a good Christian wife is supposed to be and do, and what a Christian marriage is like, and I feel like I’m being sinfully selfish by not wanting to stay with my Christian husband. To some extent I feel like I deserve what I’m going through, that God must be using it to refine me somehow. But the more I pray and read and think about it, the more I’m realising that God’s love for me means He wants me to be healthy and functioning and blessed, not shoved down and neglected and emotionally abused. And He certainly doesn’t want that for my children. I’m terrified they will grow up and repeat the same pattern.

      • Hi Liz, you may find the posts on this page helpful:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/is-suffering-abuse-meritorious-before-god/

      • Raped By Evil

        “…I have this picture in my head of what a good Christian wife is supposed to be and do, and what a Christian marriage is like…”

        Several years after waking up to the truth about evil and how the “c*hristian” churches paint this picture for us of what a “godly” wife and husband are supposed to be (which is nothing more than a white-washed tomb), my daughter and I rented a popular chrisitan movie that had recently come out for rent.

        We put it in and sat down to watch, prepared to be somewhat sickened in some of the more cheesier parts, but what punched us in the face emotionally was the absolute being COMPLETELY out of touch with reality that this movie represented.

        The woman was helpless and mewling around waiting for the man to make the decisions and trying to be “perfect” and spending her time thinking about what would please him while simultaneously trying to pray others into heaven. The man too was childish, trying to present the image of a “godly” man while running around trying to get things done. We could barely tolerate it and ended up turning it off.

        Soooo many of us here have read sooooo many books and attended sooooo many seminars based on what we thought at the time were Godly ways of dealing with our marriage and therefore our life, only to find that we were dealing with a completely different entity entirely—we were married to a child of the devil and some (many in my case) of our own children and family of origin were loaded with these types.

        Needless to say prior to God waking me up, I was ILL-PREPARED to deal with the reality that He allowed me to see. So into the bible I dove, swam, and inhaled. And over and over and over and over God showed me where it was PLAINLY written because HE had written it down for us–the truth of my life and what those of us would be experiencing in the end times.

        We definitely need truthful books and seminars based on the reality that is written about in the bible portraying what true Christian men and Christian women look like, verses the paper doll cut outs that we are encouraged to emulate. I doubt it would attract a huge following or provide solace to the majority, but for the few of us that desire above all things to walk with God faithfully and truthfully, it would help us “get there faster” and not waste precious time and brain cells pretending we’re married to a man who is “a born leader” when in reality he is just a typical a child of Satan.

    • Lisa Carver

      Knowing how psychopathic abusive men many times are.
      Knowing sadly how churches many times are.
      He probably pretended to cry. Then repented with enough drama to satisfy any audience of name your favorite reality show & has the whole church embracing him, they are probably telling him everything is going to be okay because they will be there to support him through this terrible ordeal.

      He more then likely has all of the church looking down their noses at his wife for not being more loving, forgiving, understanding, Christian. Has probably countered with 101 ways she has been a horrible wife. When he tells them the house is always messy, for example, he doesn’t also tell them he walks around dumping things out and making a mess so that she will have “something to do today while I am gone.” Like having two babies at home wasn’t enough.
      And they have believed him.

      She has probably already been told off by more then a few well meaning church members. And I have no doubt they have given her the who is without sin cast the first stone speech. You’re not praying or believing in God enough or He would do miracles speech.

      She has probably been talked down to. Patted on the head and had the you are just imaging it all speech.
      He is a wonderful man, respected at work and church. Your neighbors all love him speech.
      And my personal favorite: What have you been doing to cause him to act this way speech.

      I haven’t been back to church enough in 30 years and as adults my kids will rarely step into a church for anything. I did try going to a few churches. I took my kids and dropped them off when they were still younger. But it never took long for him to find out where we were. He effectively used the church to stalk me and the kids until we just couldn’t stand it any longer. He and his family did the same in the school system, at my place of employment and with my neighbors. Now I watch services over the internet. The church as a whole, most often (and not because I think it’s what God wants) as far as my family has seen, embraces the abuser and leaves the wife and kids to rot. My kids will rarely set foot in church. They remember. And for them God sounds many times like their seriously abusive biological father.

      The kids are watching what the church does. One of biggest dangers of the church embracing an abuser is the message the kids get. God doesn’t love me either. The church should initially kick the abusers out. They can be held accountable from a distance. If they are truly repentant and desiring change they do not need to be allowed to do it where they can destroy any more lives. According to the state agency here for abusers it takes seven years of ongoing therapy for a sociopathic abusive personality to even begin to change. I know God works miracles at times. But a good abuser can fake that with tears in their eyes and trembling in their voice.

      • Hi Lisa Carver, 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.

  13. God-fearing mom

    Yeah they like to steamroll the weaker with their so-called authority with words that would take hours/days to defend yourself from because they don’t even know where you’re coming from nor do they care. They just want what they want with their wrong theology. Blind guides. Pharisees. Woa to them. I would have ripped up the letter after reading basically if you abandon him don’t come back. Jerks!

  14. Joy Forrest

    Wow. I’m sure that scholarly interpretation portion was just what she needed 🙄. This is what I’d called straining gnats and swallowing camels. Too bad they didn’t do a study on what true repentance looks like instead.

    • kim

      Yes! Exactly what the pastor, and so many others, are doing.

  15. grace551

    This pastor seems to be ignorant about abuse and over-confident about his own opinions (like my former pastor). Such as his opinions that:

    – the husband is genuinely repentant
    – the wife was the first to abandon a spouse
    – she has abandoned her marriage without Biblical grounds
    – God wants her to live with her husband while he works on changing his thinking and behavior (and will enable her to endure meanwhile)
    – she is likely to flourish and be strengthened if she goes back

    To the person who has been abused – you have all my sympathy. I hope you have found, or will find, a church home where there is a kinder, more humble pastor who is a true shepherd.

  16. grace551

    Jeff, I would like to hear the comments you had in mind.

    Thank you so much for all you do.

  17. Saved By Grace

    This letter is a LOOOOONG-winded approach to basically say: “you bad woman. You can’t leave your husband. He said he’s sooooorrrry. AND God says you gotta stay married, so get back with your husband or God is gonna get you.”

    This letter just pissed me off. It is long-winded christianese and pious, self-righteous, religious diarrhea that lacks empathy, compassion, kindness. It lacks the true gospel of Jesus.

    I am so sad for all of you who have received a letter like this or similar to this. This letter lacks grace and love. It lacks the heart of Jesus.

    • I agree, all the pious religious talk doesn’t mean a thing. The letter writer is simply taking the side of the abuser. That would happen just the same if it was the man who left, as I found out.The woman would still be blamed, condemned and vilified. It’s got nothing to do with the minister’s interpretation of the bible at all, he would twist scripture around to suit himself whatever happened.This kind of church leader takes the side of the abuser in all circumstances because the abuser is like them.

  18. Anonymous

    And there it is. Right out of the gate – their TOTAL arrogance displayed in the first paragraph! They put EVIL AT THE SAME LEVEL as a “normal” marriage whereby two sinners who said “I do” are genuinely walking with the Lord and seeking to build a God-honoring biblical marriage.

    “We grieve” they say. NO, they do not grieve. I have a lot to say about this article and will do so after consulting with my pastor, getting permission to use their verbiage in a letter written to an abuser and throwing him out of the church by means of excommunication. I am a 23 year member at a PCA church and can assure you, leaders at this church have put on their ‘big boy pants’ and deal with EVIL for what it is. They address EVIL head-on for the good of the victim, the purity of the church, and quite frankly, is for the good of the evildoer, not allowing them to roam about the church seeking to destroy, crush, murder and kill. It is a sober reminder to onlookers, God will NOT be mocked!

  19. Euphemia

    This might as well have been addressed to me. It sounds so much like the letter I received. I was also told that My actions tell that I am thus unsaved and will be treated as such. Should I stay in the church the pastor will personally announce before each communion that Euphemia is not allowed to participate due to being unsaved and I will not be served! Talk about nasty and un-Christlike behaviour by a pastor!!

    • Hi dear sister, I changed your name to Euphemia as we don’t want your abusers to be able to identify you on this blog. Why did I choose Euphemia? Because it is a very unusual name these days so it’s not likely to be the name of any of our readers. And because it is the name of a true believer:

      From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemia

      Saint Euphemia (Greek: Ευφημία Late Koine Greek [efiˈmia]), “well-spoken [of]”, known as the All-praised in the Orthodox Church, is a Christian saint, who was martyred for her faith in 303 AD. According to Christian tradition, this occurred at Chalcedon.

      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.

    • Lisa Carver

      I got the same type letter/lecture from several churches pastoral staff, family and church members and even the police.

      Times were much different in a smaller town, the first time a neighbor called the police 36 years ago. He talked first to my husband. Then without listening to much of anything I had to say, the male cop lectured me on doing a better job pleasing my husband. “We don’t want to get called back here again about this”, walked off telling my then husband to “do a better job controlling your wife.”

      I am so sorry for what you have gone through. It is a terrible thing, being publicly shamed for doing your best to protect yourself from further harm. I hope you don’t stay at that church. I hope you find a place away from all of that.

      Long term abuse can sometimes totally shatter the way we see God. He becomes more angry and starts to sound a lot like the abuser in our lives. Run to the place where you can remain close to Him.

  20. Misti

    This letter is consistent with what I’ve seen multiple pastors and teachers associated with a particular reformed seminary both do and insist should be done. I witnessed them defend that “should” with a vengeance. In blatant disregard for the church’s actual procedures, people were blocked from standing for elder, tossed off Sunday School staff, ordered to repent of a rebellious heart. Didn’t matter what your marital status or gender.

    I witnessed folks getting ostracized for standing their ground, and I saw laymen in the church get pressured, often through misinformation or insinuation, into perpetuating the shunning.

    With the seminary itself, at least one student was tossed out of the seminary itself without warning for “plagiarism” that wasn’t actually plagiarism. (It was just a potentially incorrect citation method—and what the seminary insisted should have been done instead was blatantly incorrect.) Last I heard about it, all efforts to appeal the decision or fix the alleged plagiarism were blocked, which effectively kept the student from being able to return to seminary or enter ministry.

    A professor in this seminary is much-lauded by folks in these circles, who absolutely rave about his skills as a teacher. Despite the several sermons I sat under and conversations I witnessed or was part of, his arguments often if not always depended on at least one construction that either was invalid logic or violated English syntax, and he misused words to a degree that was ridiculous. (I’m not talking the usual grandparent misusing grandkid’s slang. I’m talking misuse of standard formal English terms that can be found in any dictionary—with examples of denotation and connotation—that were part of his alleged field of expertise.) His reputation as a such a fantastic, well-reasoned teacher was used to bludgeon any and all evidence to the contrary, by everyone.

    Folks in general in those circles commonly redefine words, too. It’s not uncommon for someone to be griping (in evening get-togethers or on Facebook) about modern meanings of words “corrupting” the old meanings…and it’s common for the alleged modern meaning to actually predate the alleged historic one, or for the alleged historic meaning to be wrong entirely. Some folks chatter in confusion about how they aren’t getting new converts to the faith, and if you point out that they’re using words in a manner that doesn’t make sense unless you already know the definition and context, then they insist it’s the other person’s responsibility to learn what the words “really” mean.

    There’s so much appeal to history and quoting of historical theologians, but so much the general conversation indicates ignorance of formal English syntax and archaic word meanings, to a degree that you can be sure that those much-lauded sources are being misread, whether out of malice or out of ignorance.

    As a specific example of what I mean, the archaic term “divers” is an easy-to-find archaic word meaning “several” that’s pronounced as the plural of “diver” (someone who dives). It’s modern enough to be found in literature from just a few centuries ago but archaic enough to be included in literary footnotes (which is where I first learned it, in high school). Yet, in my experience, it’s common for folks to assume and insist that it’s an alternate spelling of “diverse” and is pronounced “diverse”.

    Even so, the core problem isn’t that such accidents happen. The core problem is how disagreement or even pointing out a way for someone to strengthen their own argument gets vigorously attacked (overtly or covertly) as being “rebellious”/”dishonoring”/”disrespectful”/”heretical”. Doesn’t matter how discreet or polite you are. You’re instructed to investigate the Scriptures to confirm they say what’s being claimed about them, but in practice? You’d better cede to the folks who are the right gender, have the marital status, and got educated from the right places. Debate, discussion, and even disagreement is only permitted on the right topics, among the right persons.

    And don’t get me started on how the concepts of cult and psychology are warped by straw men so any protest using valid terms (like, oh, moving the goalposts) will get thrown out as illegitimate/secular/heretical/pagan.

    The entire denomination isn’t like that, but I suspect that toxicity is the norm rather than the exception. The “exception” churches I’m aware of in the denomination were outright ignored, where the average layperson doesn’t even know they exist unless they attend.

  21. Gothard Survivor

    Having been in these churches for 40 years all I feel when I read the letter is guilt. It would be helpful for me to see the comments Jeff was thinking of inserting.

  22. Wonderful comments here!

    “Sin has occurred . . . as both you and [husband] have acknowledged.” Here’s an example, from someone I know, and I actually heard this conversation, so I know I’m not just getting it from her. Her sin: Nursing the baby on the couch instead of coming to bed with him right away. Sleeping in the children’s bedroom sometimes (because she was concerned something was happening to the children in the middle of the night, and I’m trying to be discreet here). Asking him to leave for a season because of a violent outburst. His sin: Thirty years of pornography. Two admitted cases of adultery, Violent outburst. (In addition to all the gaslighting and manipulation and mysterious activities without accountability.) So of course, they both have sin, and she gets excommunicated, because he has “repented,” but she won’t “forgive and reconcile.”

    In a nutshell, this letter is an example of arrogance and ignorance. Ignorance of what abuse really is and the tremendous damage it causes, ignorance of what repentance really looks like and how very easy it is to fake. One friend told me that when she and her abuser would be driving back from marriage counseling, he would chuckle and shake his head in near-disbelief, quietly bragging about how easy it had been once again to fool them by turning on the tears. It was quite a game for him.

    • GypsyAngel

      Oh dear heaven, that poor woman. I pray that SOMEONE has showed her the real love of God. That whole Church Leadership needs to repent!

  23. IamMyBeloved's

    Law, law, law and more law. Legalism and Pharisees parading around in their long robes, adding to the Word, declaring themselves to be the gods. No grace. They cannot give grace because they have none themselves. They just teach we are Christians by upholding the letter of the law. They tie up heavy burdens on the backs of others. Funny thing, but no pastor that I know of has ever agreed to take the abuse in place of the abuser’s wife, so he can see what that life would actually be like.

    I hope she throws anything and everything she ever receives again from them, in the trash where it belongs.

    Been there, done that. Best to wash your hands of their spiritual abuse and false teachings.

  24. A

    I dug through my divorce paperwork and found the letter I received from my church years ago. It wasn’t nearly that long and written to both of us. But, same blah, blah, blah. God hates divorce and you need to reconcile. Ironically, I also found some hand written letters from my ex with apologies and “commitment” to change. Ha! How much change have I seen. Eight years later I’ve seen no change, but I have watched him abuse two other women. These guys are liars, just like their father, Satan. When will the church wake up to their schemes?

  25. MotherGoose

    Why is the brunt of repair work always upon the wife while the man who sinned only has to show enough sorry emotions and all is well?

  26. Song of Joy

    It is amazingly tragic what passes for Christianity and pastoring these days.

    These guys are totally sold out to their own delusions of religious grandeur.

    Obsessed and enamored with religious power that they have conferred on themselves, within their own mutual admiration society.

    Since when did Jesus Christ approve of rigid, holier-than-thou bullies and their rules?

    Jesus never spoke remotely like this in the Bible. This letter is a farce, and I believe Jesus would condemn it completely. What would Jesus say and do to those who are suffering?

    Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)
    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
    Because He has anointed Me
    To preach the gospel to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
    To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

    Women who are in abusive relationships are usually all or most of these things:
    Poor, brokenhearted, captive, blind (confused, in denial) and oppressed. Jesus would set them all free!

  27. healinginhim

    As I’ve been contemplating where exactly the Lord would have me; reading this post has me sensing that this is the intent of my abuser and other family members. If through their cold emotional abuse they can push me out of this dwelling, well, then they will have succeeded in proving to others that ‘I was the one who abandoned the relationship’.

    My abusers are very clever and some have even offered to help me move out!

    • standsfortruth

      HealinginHim.. I hope you hold your ground.

      My abuser did the same thing and kept prodding me to move out of my own house and in with certain people that he saw he could not turn into his ownallies. I refused and doubled down because it was not a wise option for me..nor was I prepared. If I had done that he would have tried to turn it into a possible abandonment claim later. Not to mention the house was half mine, and I was furiously user trying to fix it up to sell before it foreclosed.

      I had to look at everything that was offered or said as a set up or a potential trap by the abuser/abusers..

      But since I held my ground, he ended up leaving the house to reside elsewhere (because I refused) until a couple months later when he returned and filed for divorce a few days after that. By that time I had a few more ducks in a row that helped prepare me.

      • healinginhim

        Standsfortruth — Thank you for your confirming comment. I’ve felt so beaten up and tired that I often wonder if I’m doing what is right? In attempts to make arrangements to possibly move out and on with life; it seems that something arises that puts an end to such plans.
        I am taking this all as the Lord’s protection and in hindsight the last few years of me remaining here even though it is difficult is proving to be more beneficial for now.

    • One last thing…HealinginHim,
      Keep in mind that while family members may “wrongly” hold you in contempt in your household, that YOU are the one that is actually embracing TRUTH.

      They may be stonewalling you and soliciting lies, but guess what?
      Your not buying..Its as simple as that.

      You have bought the truth and your not selling it.

      I once read a good book about abuse that had to do with a type of reality that people were living in when living in abuse.

      It explained that when a target was living in the abusers fog, wondering why life felt so rotten and out of control, she tends to conclude that somehow she must be part of the blame for this. (Exactly what her abuser wants her to think.)..The book called that phase of her “limited” awareness -Reality 1.

      But once she becomes aware of the abusers lies, manipulations, schemes and staged performances, she moves on to Reality# 2. The truth stage that gives clarity about what is really going on.

      This stage also releases her from self blame and shame, because she is finally able to see what and who is the problem. The Abuser.

      But once the abuser realizes that his target is onto him, he often enlists church allies, family, friends and relatives, to do his dirty work of trying to convince the target she must seeing things all wrong.. In a desperate attempt to shut down her flow of truth, and drag her back to his FOG.

      You and many others are in this Reality #2 stage and just remember you are not alone. The Light of Truth is in you, AND the Spirit of the Living Lord.
      And Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

      The devil and his cohorts know this as well, and they fear and cringe at the presence of God’s people when they walk with determination and resolve in their hearts.

      I encourage you to believe in yourself, and I hope you walk with resolve in your own household until your personal plan of freedom finally takes shape.

      You don’t have to answer idle curiosity questions. You can put your questions to them instead.

      It may seem like an impossible task, but God honors every small step his people take towards setting up their Freedom plan.
      How does one consume an elephant?
      (One bite at a time)
      What I found was when I took a small step towards setting up my freedom plan…. God would open a door for me to take another step.

      • Free At Last

        Do you remember the title of that book by chance? I’d love to get my hands on it!

      • Hi Free At Last, I’ve checked with Standsfortruth and the book is one we have on our Recommended Books list. It is by Patricia Evans and is titled The Verbally Abusive Relationship.

        It is the only book by Patricia Evans that we recommend. Her later work is not something we endorse because she got into advising victims how to speak to their abusers to help the abuser wake up to the fact that he is being abusive. As you probably already know, we think that’s a foolish approach. It bogs the victim down by making her think she has to do more work to change the abuser. It’s a fruitless path to take.

      • Free At Last

        Thank you, Barbara!

      • Its called “The Verbally Abusive relationship” by Patricia Evans..
        I believe it is on this site’s recomended reading list..
        I found one at a used book store in the self help section.. A good eye opening book indeed!

      • healinginhim

        StandsForTruth — Thank you for the encouragement and confirmation about being patient with future plans.
        “You have bought the truth and your not selling it.” … that is so well put. The truth is all I have to stand on!

      • I just wanted to add that although this particular book of Patricia Evans gave me great clarity on my situtation and put words on what my abuser was doing, I discovered later in further communications with her, that she had “other” beliefs that were not supported by the Word of God.

      • Raped By Evil

        Standsfortruth, I’m glad you pointed this out. That although some books / websites etc. open our eyes to the truth about abuse–it doesn’t mean that we agree with ALL of the things that are stated or addressed. I think that many of us, as we’ve gone through the process of waking up to the truth about evil, feel this way about many of the resources that we used that DID aid us in getting to the place that we are now.

        God is with those who belong to Him and because of this, we His children are capable of learning wisdom through everything. And like you, I think it’s important to note this to others–the beliefs and teachings we see that DON’T line up with God’s as we’re using some of the information from that source– so as to help those still learning the truth and the nature of evil.

        Thank you!

  28. Sharon

    another crazy excuse for a shepherd… i have known far too many women that have been treated much like this… atrocious.

  29. Memphis Rayne

    Oooooh Barf. Really really tragic.. Not just what he says but that he manages to make her feel more desperate and isolated because he is speaking for the whole “Community”…”We the People”…..wawawa.
    Just Barf.

    • Hi Memphis! good to hear from you again. 🙂

      • Memphis Rayne

        Cheers Barb and thank you for still being here for us all!! ((Hugs))

  30. Free At Last

    I can’t tell you how freeing, comforting and supportive it is to hear all of your reactions. I felt so very alone in all this until Pastor Crippen gave me an alternative perspective.

    I wrote the Session of my church a response to this letter clearly outlining all of the ways my husband has been and continues to be abusive to me. I also told them that, because they expected me to return to my unrepentant, abusive husband, I felt I needed to resign membership.

    After a month of sitting on my response, they sent me a short email saying: “It is clear that you no longer respect or trust our counsel nor desire to remain under our spiritual oversight and shepherding” and “In releasing you from our oversight, we of course entrust you into the continued care and hand of our Sovereign and Gracious God.”

    And that is that. My husband is now a greeter at that church and works in their prison ministry.

    Now I just need a divorce.

    • M&M

      Prision ministry??!!??!! Sounds like the kind of person who would encourage criminal behavior, but ministries are supposed to discourage it……I’m sure some prision ministries are worthwhile, but only if they teach repentance and humility that your husband doesn’t have……ahhhh!!!!

      Hope your divorce goes quickly and you find a better church!!

      • Free At Last

        Thanks M&M. I know. The ironies continue to astound me.

        I am still looking for a church (I’m feeling a bit wounded, as you can imagine.)

    • Jeff Crippen

      That answer is as wicked as their letter to you. It says “all of this entire thing has been YOUR fault, including your departure of this church. We have done nothing wrong. We are Christ’s rulers over you and YOU are rejecting us, thus you are rejecting Christ. So be it.” And the last line is the most evil of all. “We of course entrust you into the continued care and hand of our Sovereign and gracious God.” Let me translate – that means “We are handing you over to Him and He is going to nail you because even though he forgave you your sins, you have refused to forgive.” In other words it is a curse disguised as a blessing. Evil. Evil. Evil.

      And boy, what a church! If you visit, you get to be greeted by one of the devil’s emissaries. Make no mistake, this level of deception is just this deep and all of us really need to be wise to it. This is what “angel of light” and “disguised as sons of righteousness” (2 Cor 11) look like.

    • GypsyAngel

      My dear soul, I pray that you are able to find a loving church family.(Praise God I did – so I know they do exist). I just cant understand how elders can be so “doctrine bound” that they don’t understand the damage they are doing or the evil that lurks among them. I suppose that the only explanation is that the destroyer is good at what he does and he uses truth and half truth like a weapon.

      Congratulations on moving forward with your life. May the Grace and Mercy of God be your covering. May He mount you up with the wings of the eagle so you may soar above the storm. Strength to you my dear Dear sister you are in my prayers ❤

      • Free At Last

        Thank you, GypsyAngel. 🙂

  31. TruthSeeker

    I read this letter and get all confused again. Who is God? Am I doing something wrong? I’ve heard similar speeches before. Isn’t the truth that I am a sinner? This letter makes me feel sick inside, but I can’t figure out what is true, it leaves my head spinning. I read about forgiveness and turn the other cheek,love your enemies. Isn’t that Christianity? I guess this is likely spiritual abuse which is why I am reacting so strongly. What do you see that I cannot? What is the truth of this?

    • HI TruthSeeker
      I’m in a rush at the moment so can’t answer in depth, but you may find it helpful to read :

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2017/02/27/three-kinds-of-forgiveness/

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/is-suffering-abuse-meritorious-before-god/

    • Jeff Crippen

      TruthSeeker – We can all identify at least to some degree how these kinds of wicked, warped letters and teachings from “pastors” and others who claim to be speaking for the Lord can cast a real fog over our thinking. In 2 Cor 4:3-4 Paul says that the god of this world (Satan) is in the business of blinding people and working to prevent them from seeing the glory of Christ. And that is exactly what these kind of wolves in sheep’s clothing do as well.

      What I have found over the years is that I am increasingly driven back to the Bible and many of the books I used to read and the sermons I used to listen to have increasingly been gathering dust. Some have stood the test – like Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, Whitefield, and a few others. But most all the others simply hindered me in understanding God’s Word and it takes a long time to unlearn these distortions.

      As Barbara provided you with in the links to articles here on this blog, I would suggest that you read those, then use the search window feature on our blog home page. Search under topics like forgiveness, pastors, church, and so on and read the articles that come up.

      The reason you feel sick inside when you read this wicked letter is because it is wicked. It is cunningly deceptive. The truth is that a “pastor” who is actually a wolf can actually use all the “holy” talk and be absolutely working to destroy the victim. Our problem is not that we tend to be too judgmental and critical, it is that we tend to be too “nice.”

    • Am I doing something wrong? … Isn’t the truth that I am a sinner?

      Hi TruthSeeker
      We are all sinners. But here is how that truth works in domestic abuse.

      In domestic abuse, one spouse abusive and controlling (covertly … overtly… usually a bit of both) and the other spouse is being intimidated, oppressed and controlled. You are a victim; I am another victim; we’ve both been abused by our spouses (our husbands). Whatever your sins or my sins may have been, our sins were not the cause of our marriages breaking down. The cause of the marriage breaking down was the attitude, beliefs and behaviours of our abusive partners.

      Many Christians have been taught that sin is sin and therefore all sins are the same. But that is a flattening and dumbing down of the biblical truth. This post explains this in detail:

      Are all sins equally bad? Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?

      I wrote it to help disentangle the biblical truth from the false ideas which are so often recycled in the church.

      • GypsyAngel

        @ Barbara Roberts.
        I just read what you wrote to TruthSeeker. Thank you for that, because I have been facing a similar dilemma in my heart. I know that I’m forgiven, but I keep going back over my marriage and the mistakes I KNOW I made. But then somehow God always comes through and reminds me that a) I AM forgiven, b) I was not to blame for my abusers choices, & c) NOTHING that I ever did caused or earned the abuse that I suffered. But I know I was starting to sink down into despair and self-condemnation again. So thank you for being the messenger that God used this time to remind me of not only His love for me, but His Truth Of Me. I just happened to check out the new responses on this particular post, funny how God does that. Right On Time ❤
        May you be Blessed

  32. Hope_for_better

    This letter is just full of contradictions designed to keep the wife down. It just makes me sick.

    How is it that they can say that the Bible allows for a “season of separation,” but then say that extended separation is bad? Who made them judge of when separations go on too long and become bad? Then later in the article, they say that the is no such state as separation, only divorce or marriage. Is all separation bad even though the Bible allows for a “season of separation”?

    In any contract, if one person breaks that contract, are the other people still bound by that contract? If an employee stops working and showing up, is the employer still bound to keep that employee on and pay him? No! Any contract if broken, those in it are no longer bound by it. How is marriage different? If a man breaks the vows of marriage by abuse, desertion, or adultery, why is the wife still bound by the vows? She is free.

    Why must the wife in this letter not leave the church? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that members cannot leave a church. Why can the wife not leave? They say that leaders are put into our lives to care for us (which obviously they are not doing), shepherd us, and bring us to repentance. Are they saying they are the only ones who care for her and can shepherd her? Is every other church incapable of helping her? What sin has she committed that they must make her repent? Why does her one “sin” outweigh her abuser’s numerous? Why are they the ones to make her repent? Are they God?

    This letter is so full of contradictions, blame shifting, guilt tripping, and manipulation that it turns the stomach. I am so sorry for whoever received this and letters like this. Please do not give up.

  33. KindofAnonymous

    You know, quite honestly I would probably read that and at least at first, take it to heart thinking it was the truth and I was the one who was the problem. I would have been crushed and felt as if I were disobeying God by not returning and doing as they said. I am getting better at seeing what is really being said despite how its being dressed up and catching on to the language and tone used that demeans and characterizes in a thinly veiled way..

    But I am still rather mystified as to why this whole response pattern is so deeply entrenched in the church and why there is such denial about it; I mean the need to vilify someone who confronts us with their pain and with a problem that is ongoing. It’s as if people want to see what they want to see and if you threaten that, you become the problem.

    • I think there are more abusers, including serial pedophiles, in the church than most Christians have any inkling of. And part of that is that abusers who are in leadership in the church have mistaught the church to vilify someone who reports abuse, or who discloses the pain of having been victimized by an abuser.

    • Raped By Evil

      Beautiful response Barbara!

      KindofAnonymous wrote: “But I am still rather mystified as to why this whole response pattern is so deeply entrenched in the church and why there is such denial about it…”

      There are probably MANY reasons but some that I’ve noticed are:

      —If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

      —Mega churches are money-making entities and it seems as though the elders / higher-ups justify this as an excuse as to why they don’t allow ALL biblical truth in–SOME biblical truth mixed with control measures derived from focusing on SOME bible verses while discounting others–not to mention many of them are abusers and like the power that they exert. After all, their MINISTRY is SO important that if a few suffer due to the mistruths taught, the MAJORITY appear to be quite satisfied!

      –If the truth that is addressed here on this website based on in-depth biblical study, prayer and God truly working in our lives were to get out to the masses–they’d have to change, in many cases, entire belief systems and doctrinal mission statements, and darling–who has TIME for that?!

      You are doing great KindofAnonymous, and as you read here, many of us have traveled the road you are on and you are not alone. We NEED truth because we belong to the Lord and it’s food for our souls–He will provide it for you….you are loved.

    • RomansEightOne

      Me too KindofAnonymous!!!

      You know, quite honestly I would probably read that and at least at first, take it to heart thinking it was the truth and I was the one who was the problem. I would have been crushed and felt as if I were disobeying God by not returning and doing as they said.

      I was thinking the same thing as I read the letter, before reading all of the great comments here. I know I am getting better at discerning, but notice that I can still be thrown off into a fog easily. The only thing that currently works to mitigate being so easily manipulated is to stay away from church and christiany settings. 😦 I need that space to keep my clarity.

      I am so very thankful for this blog! Thank you to every single person who contributes here.

      • Jeff Crippen

        I have been asked many, many times by abuse victims if I thought it is possible that THEY were the abuser. It seems to be a pretty common thought produced by the craziness and fog the abuser creates in our minds. They would love us to think WE are the wicked one, not them. In the last 6 years I have only encountered about 3 or 4 people who claimed to be victims of abuse but who, as it turns out, were counterfeits. That is a pretty small percentage out of say around 250 or more.

      • grace551

        Thank you, RomansEightOne. I prayed that the Lord will help you to see clearly at all times. I hope eventually you will be healed enough to go back to church and will find one that is helpful and loving to you and does no harm.

        I feel the same as you about this blog. I think Jeff, Barbara and all who work with them are doing extremely valuable work for God. Thank you to them, and to everyone who comments.

  34. KindofAnonymous

    Yes you are probably sadly right Barb. I wish it weren’t so. Thank you RBE for those kind words 🙂 I think is true that there is a lot of compromise that goes on because of money as well as imate. I have heard of pastors openly saying that they won’t teach on unpopular biblical passages because it would cost them tithers.

  35. KindofAnonymous

    I have no idea what that word `imate` was supposed to be! Sorry 🙂

  36. Lisa

    It made my blood boil to read this. Absolutely disgusting and appalling. And yet all too often, when church leadership finds out the husband is abusive, the entire burden for restoration and reconciliation is dumped on the wife and the husband is let off the hook. I have no words.

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