A Cry For Justice

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

An Experiment: You Write This post – by… You!

[November 12, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(Matthew 7:13-14  ESV)  (13) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  (14) For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Alright, there is your Scripture text. I want to see what happens here if I just give our readers the Scripture, and through your comments, YOU write the post. I will put them together into one post as you write. Think about it carefully — this Scripture passage has a LOT to say about abuse, about facing it, and about why Christians don’t want to face it.

This is from Now Free (Good job!) —

God gives us two choices….either the narrow way, which leads to righteousness and heaven, or the broad way. The narrow way is the difficult one, because even though we are walking with God, who delights in giving us His gifts such as peace, joy, wisdom and strength, it can be hard at times. The Bible gives us many examples of strong people of faith who encountered difficult times, but the Lord guided these souls to victory.

Victims of abuse undergo some of the worst evil anyone can imagine. Whether or not we are victims of abuse, if we choose the narrow way, we will suffer at times….we become strong, and learn. God sent His Son to die for us, to give us salvation. Can we be so presumptuous to think that we could escape any suffering? The rewards are infinite!

The broad way is so easy, because it is compatible with our sinful nature. This gate leads to hell.

Abuse is a very serious and evil sin. Abusers naturally choose the broad way. And they deceive many with their pleasant and charming façades of peace and “righteousness”. Upon meeting the abuser, many are deceived. Some people sense that something truly is wrong with this person, but just don’t want to “go there.” It’s a shame.”

This is from Sheryl (Also very good, from a different angle.) —

Matthew Henry’s commentary [Internet Archive link]1 on this at “Blue Letter Bible” is enlightening bearing in mind both the abuser and the co-dependent.

I was grieved in my recovery work to learn that I had made an idol out of my spouse in trying to fix him. I was trying to play God instead of trusting God. In order for me to heal, I have had to look at my own portion of dysfunction. There never, ever is justification for abuse of any sort, I am not saying that. However, in my particular situation and in many dysfunctional relationships there is more than one dysfunctional individual and I had to learn what my portion was, own it and work to change it, since I can only change myself. I had to choose the narrow gate of learning to stop responding to his hook that he would throw out to engage me in a vicious word battle. To save my sanity, I had to choose the narrow gate of taking a minute to think of the new healthier behavior or to use a one-liner from “Love and Logic”. At first, it angered me that he could behave as he does and I couldn’t say something back. But I ultimately have learned that choosing that narrow gate of not responding does definitely lead to life. I took my power back instead of giving it away to him. He is not living in reality anyway so why was I wasting my time….casting my pearls before swine….thinking that I could change his ways….that is God’s territory. My job is to trust God and learn to take care of myself with healthy boundaries.

I realize that my situation is different than others represented here. I have not been subject to physical abuse, but verbal, emotional and psychological mixed in with his multiple addictions so the nuances of my recovery work will have subtle differences. However, the recovery group that I was blessed to be a part of, covered all of these areas and we can only change ourselves.

I am only a laywomen sharing my journey. Please only take what you can use or feel God leading you in and leave the rest. Each individual needs to hear from God for His leading in their particular situation as the abuse always escalates and I am not advocating doing anything which might place anyone in a greater position of harm.

Praying for all those affected by the destructive sin of abuse.

This is from Teresa (Very, very good.) —

I saw this challenge, and I prayed, and this is what I wrote down.

I have tried to follow the principles of positivity in my life, but just being positive and leaning on my own understanding led me to the denial of abuse. I did not seek consult from the Lord, so I had entered through the wide gate to destruction; I did not have a personal relationship with the Lord at that time. Sure, it’s good to look for the positive in people and situations, but Trust belongs to the Lord. I was following the tenets outlined by Norman Vincent Peale, or so I thought. It was not the Lord’s path, and led me to denial; my boundaries became blurred, I was BLIND.

When boundaries are blurred, we become pleasers of people, not pleasers of the Lord. And my abuser knew this; we had an unequal yoke although he tried to convince me otherwise. He was so good at it, he was a mental health therapist, and now has a Master’s in Social Work. (I helped him get the degree, wrote his papers for him; God help those who have to deal with him now.) But, I defined myself by the reactions of people in my life.

The narrow gate is open, but there is a light there to guide us, His name is JESUS CHRIST. He does not leave us to our own accord. He came calling to me, He is the shepherd, and guided this sheeple back onto the path through the narrow gate. It does not mean that the path through the narrow gate is easy; but He is with us. I used to be a “Make it Happen” kind of person, but all my good intentions never helped anything, and I became a “Let it Happen” kind of person, and almost gave up. But the Lord kept calling me. I was saved by His grace, and His mercy for what I had become.

1[November 12, 2022: We added the link to the Blue Letter Bible’s Matthew Henry: Commentary on Matthew 7. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that link. Editors.]

[November 12, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to November 12, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to November 12, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to November 12, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (November 12, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

9 Comments

  1. Sheryl

    Matthew Henry’s commentary [Internet Archive link]1 on this at “Blue Letter Bible” is enlightening bearing in mind both the abuser and the co-dependent.

    I was grieved in my recovery work to learn that I had made an idol out of my spouse in trying to fix him. I was trying to play God instead of trusting God. In order for me to heal, I have had to look at my own portion of dysfunction. There never, ever is justification for abuse of any sort, I am not saying that. However, in my particular situation and in many dysfunctional relationships there is more than one dysfunctional individual and I had to learn what my portion was, own it and work to change it, since I can only change myself. I had to choose the narrow gate of learning to stop responding to his hook that he would throw out to engage me in a vicious word battle. To save my sanity, I had to choose the narrow gate of taking a minute to think of the new healthier behavior or to use a one-liner from “Love and Logic”. At first, it angered me that he could behave as he does and I couldn’t say something back. But I ultimately have learned that choosing that narrow gate of not responding does definitely lead to life. I took my power back instead of giving it away to him. He is not living in reality anyway so why was I wasting my time….casting my pearls before swine….thinking that I could change his ways….that is God’s territory. My job is to trust God and learn to take care of myself with healthy boundaries.

    I realize that my situation is different than others represented here. I have not been subject to physical abuse, but verbal, emotional and psychological mixed in with his multiple addictions so the nuances of my recovery work will have subtle differences. However, the recovery group that I was blessed to be a part of, covered all of these areas and we can only change ourselves.

    I am only a laywomen sharing my journey. Please only take what you can use or feel God leading you in and leave the rest. Each individual needs to hear from God for His leading in their particular situation as the abuse always escalates and I am not advocating doing anything which might place anyone in a greater position of harm.

    Praying for all those affected by the destructive sin of abuse.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1[November 12, 2022: We added the link to the Blue Letter Bible’s Matthew Henry: Commentary on Matthew 7. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that link. Editors.]

    • Teresa

      Sheryl; today I saw this challenge from Pastor Crippen1 and I decided I would pray, then study these Scriptures and try to write a response before looking at everyone else’s take on this. So I wrote my response, and I have not posted it yet but I will. Then I started reading other’s responses including yours. And I see a mirror of how I was when I first got away from the abuse; a mirror of how I thought about myself.

      First, I always thought it would never happen to me, and it did. But after getting out, I found myself comparing myself to others; I felt a sense of guilt that I had not been beaten up. WOW. I had been hit a few times, I was sexually abused, and I had a loaded gun held to my head for money!!! And my children were being abused. But it also has to do with VALIDATION from others; you used the word co-dependant, and yes I was that; I use the term “people-pleaser” because that has always been my coping mechanism coming from a dysfunctional family. So first I had the need to be validated by others that this was really abusive, not like the abuse you see from Hollywood, like the burning bed movie, etc..

      I went to the crisis center for help with a restraining order and that is where I was able to first come to terms with the surface of the abuse. I was going to church, and when I would say, “Hi, I am so-and-so, we are here from another state and we are survivors of DV”, they couldn’t say anything, and it almost felt like they distanced themselves from us.

      Anyway, there was more verbal and psychological abuse going on for me constantly in the 9 years I was in it than there was the physical abuse. Abuse is abuse; we can be thankful we are out and did not have to endure more, and, we own what we did endure, it was our cross to bear, not comparatively to others.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1[November 12, 2022: Just for clarification, for readers who might not have noticed: Barb was the author of the post. Editors.]

  2. joepote01

    Nicely done! Both present good perspectives!

    Sheryl, I was drawn to a portion of your post [comment]:

    ….I had made an idol out of my spouse in trying to fix him. I was trying to play God instead of trusting God.

    Speaking from personal experience, this is an easy trap to fall into. We so desire a godly marriage that we wind up not only praying for change, but trying ourselves to effect change in our spouse’s behavior. It took me a long time to realize that trying to correct behavior in someone else, who doesn’t want to change, can actually become a form of attempted manipulation in itself.

    God, Himself, holds human free will so sacred as to allow us to make our own decisions, even if our choices lead to destruction. How much more should we respect the free will of another human?

    If a spouse repeatedly refuses to honor their sacred covenant vows to love, honor, cherish, and protect, then the most loving action we can take is to respect their free will by releasing them from those vows through dissolution (divorce) of the marriage covenant.

    • Teresa

      Ya, I can relate to what Sheryl says about trying to change her husband; I did not try to do that because I was married for 21 years the first time, and thought it was my fault that it was not successful. So in the following abusive marriage I reverted back to my old people-pleaser behaviors to try to make it work; fueled by a poor understanding from the verse of 1 Peter: wives be submissive to your husbands [1 Peter 3:1]. And then I learned after getting out that I needed to read further, about how husbands are supposed to treat their wives, and that is not what I was experiencing.

      But, God did not give us free will to make choices that may lead us to destruction; He wants to walk with us, HE IS ALIVE IN ME and part of my life, He will carry me, but the free will part for me only pertains to my willingness to accept HIM as my Saviour. He is not a backseat driver.

      [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • joepote01

        Sorry, Teresa, I should have clarified.

        When I stated that God allows us free will, even if our choices lead to destruction, I was speaking of mankind in general, not of those who have already made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Yes, for the true believer, we can trust God to complete the good work which He has begun in us.

        Also, a question….in regard to —

        I reverted back to my old people-pleaser behaviors to try to make it work

        Isn’t that a form of trying to change the other person’s actions and attitudes, through your own behavior? That’s how I came to see it, for my past situation.

        Thanks!

  3. Teresa

    Yes, the narrow way is hard, but we have our armour!! The problem I had was only my childhood upbringing in the church; they did not talk to us about the personal relationship with Jesus Christ; they did not emphasize the need for prayer. And, I was taken away from the church in my teenage years with my involvement in Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a whole other subject. So without firm roots as an adult, I went through the wide gate for a time, but the Lord came to find me.

  4. Sheryl

    Thank you, Teresa. I did not make myself clear as I was trying not to sound dismissive of those in physically abusive relationships nor speak to their experience, as I can only speak from my own experience. I can so relate to the people-pleaser approach to attempting to fill my longing for significance….yes, coming from a dysfunctional family. My mother is a survivor of extreme physical and sexual abuse and my father from an alcoholic father. So, praise the Lord by God’s grace they stopped the cycles, however without recovery work there was still plenty of dysfunctional patterning that occurred in my family of origin.

    Also, Teresa, what you said about it being your fault. Because of the church that I grew up in and then my own sinful, rebellious behavior before marriage, I felt like I had to earn his love and for 20 years of the 26 I thought his drinking was my fault and if I could just be the perfect wife he would stop drinking. Boy did that lead me to a wide path of free-willed destruction as a raging enabler.

    Joe, you are absolutely correct, in group we’d say that if we could change them, they would have been changed….Lord knows we tried everything. When I met with my pastor and told him that I just could not keep doing this, that I just wished my ex would hit me and then people would realize what was going on. His response surprised me: “If you have a loved one that is on a path of self-destruction and there is something else that you could do that could possibly interrupt that path of self-destruction. Would it be loving if you did not do it?” My ex had also broken the marriage covenant, though I stayed 10 years still trying to work on it, but when my pastor made that statement I realized that a boundary of filing separation could be a loving thing.

    Sadly, I have to admit that when my ex checked the divorce box in reply, that I froze and have remained frozen for a few years and just now am following up. Due to his gambling we are in terrible debt and I have been frozen in fear of how I would be able to handle my 1/2 of that. Again, failing to trust God. Today I was notified that my home will go to foreclosure sale April 11. So God is providing yet another opportunity to learn to trust Him and I pray that this time I do move forward in full trust of my Lord.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Jeff Crippen

      Sheryl – these things from your life you are sharing are very, very helpful to all of us. I was wondering if you have found a particular workbook on recovery to be particularly helpful to you? Does your group use any particular book?

      • Sheryl

        Jeff, I am praising the Lord, as I think that most believers that walk a path strewn with “tar pits” — as I refer to my places that my adversary intends to keep me in bondage to — [I] hold out the hope that it will be used to bring glory to God. As well as being able to come alongside one another as we are called to. That great cloud of witnesses cheering us on!

        I will e-mail you the name of the person who facilitates the recovery group that I was in. As to books, we have used a variety of them, each time we finish one, we look at a variety of others and vote which one to do next. Sometimes repeating one over so many years as attendees filter in and out.

        I will share the ones that I have found most impactful in my life:

        “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, also we did “How to Have that Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding….” [Also by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.]

        “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans; go to Patricia Evans: Books [Internet Archive link].

        Just went there for the first time today and it lists her other books along with some enlightening snippets / synopsis. Currently I am facilitating a women’s study on “War of Words” by David Paul Tripp that is knocking my socks off. I do not know if I would recommend it to someone who is early into recovery work as what I was taught is that some relationship books are written for those in “normal” relationships….i.e. those that are not abusive and there are different dynamics to be considered for the believer in an abusive relationship. So not all authors are familiar with the peculiar dynamics of the substance abuser or physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and financial abuser and thus it can be confusing / misleading for those seeking to learn how to have healthy boundaries and take care of themselves.

        For me personally, I have no doubts that God has ordained this book for me at this particular time. Right in the midst of the ugliest portion of this divorce and God is speaking to me about how He designed words for us to use as His ambassadors and how every interaction and communication is to have redemption in mind. Not exactly the first thought into my mind as my adversary attempts to waylay my walk, attempts to derail God’s work of sanctification in my life by burning the ropes that have bound me….like in the lion’s den where only the ropes that bound them were burned off.

        One last note, is that I feel that we are to give every effort that we can to save the marriage. Again, I feel the need to note that I do not encourage anyone to remain in harms way, neither does God. But whenever it is possible. we have to exhaust all options in an effort to save the marriage. This is by no means an easy road, but if we believe God’s word that He is in control then He knows our heartache, He knows the battle and IT IS one in the Heavenly realms and He promises to provide a way as we press into Him. Not every moment of every day, but I can now say “thank you, Lord” for this, because there is a deepness to my relationship with Him now that never would have been without this.

        Sure, I wish it were not this way, who doesn’t that walks in this weak flesh and is called to be His child, this is not easy, but He tells us it won’t be. However, He, the only one who will never break a promise to us, promises us that He is more than with us, He is carrying us. We are in the cleft of the Rock and His robes cover us. I think of my hens and how the mama snuggles her chicks in the down under her wing and that is right where He has us when we allow Him to. My struggle is fully allowing Him to, as many co-dependents have strong Christian characteristics but we are misusing them.

        (Sorry, as you can see, I am passionate about this.)

        Hope this helps.

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

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