A Cry For Justice

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

Why Are Pastors Afraid to Permit Divorce for Abuse?

(Joh 9:21-23 ESV)  21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”  22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)  23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

It is refreshing to come across a pastor who understands that abuse is indeed biblical grounds for divorce.  Recently I met two such pastors, both of them Reformed Baptists.  One of them pointed out that from his study of the Puritans, this was not an uncommon position among them.

Unfortunately it seems that we meet far more pastors and church leaders who insist that abuse — even severe abuse — is not a case for divorce.  Separation, yes.  Calling the police, yes.  But not divorce.  I have found that if I press these people with real-life illustrations of abuse, they eventually fall silent.  Their own conscience and common sense begins to whisper to them — “uh, this is a difficult question indeed.  I’d better say nothing.”  They have swallowed the company line position on divorce and remarriage and have not seriously thought at all about abuse nor how the reality of abuse in the lives of victims inevitably makes their no-divorce-for-abuse position ridiculous.

Here in this article I want to propose another very common reason pastors reject abuse as grounds for divorce.  Pharisaical religion uses fear to keep people in bondage.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus by night.  He was afraid.  The parents of the blind man healed by Jesus in John 9 feared being put out of the synagogue if they confessed that Jesus was the Messiah.  The company line, you see.  It is abusive.  It is power and control and it reigns through fear.  Therefore, I propose:

Many pastors and church leaders and even individual Christians are fearful of opposing the dominating position of the reigning Pharisaical religion of our day.  If sexual abuse occurs in the church, or if a victim of even horrific domestic violence asks for help and seeks a divorce, the thing is hushed up.  Why?  Fear.  Fear of loss of reputation.  Fear of loss of power.  And fear that such a scenario will demand that a victim be told “you can be free.  File for divorce.”  And that would mean opposing the powers that rule and the possibility that a pastor giving that advice will be put out of the synagogue, career over.

I have never fit into power structures.  I didn’t in high school.  I didn’t run with the in crowd.  And if I had remained in the police department, I doubt that I would have worked my way up through the ranks.  I was too outspoken when I saw injustice within.  (I wasn’t very wise or tactful about how I went about talking about it either, so I share some of that blame).  And I have never fit in with denominational structure in the church.  I will never be on the head committee.  My office phone (hey, I don’t even really have an office phone!) doesn’t ring off the hook with calls from the “happening” folk who are on those committees.  Part of it is my fault.  But another part, hopefully the major part, is because I simply don’t like environments in which you must hold to a “company line” or else be ostracized, like the New York Fireman who is currently an outcast by his fellow firefighters because he is a vegetarian.  Apparently if you are going to succeed in the NYFD, you have to eat meat.

I propose then that we have constructed an atmosphere in and among our Bible-believing churches and their denominations and organizations that instills fear and opposes freedom of conscience and thought.  It is Pharisaical.  It says, without words, “if you step out of the way and start teaching that victims of abuse can divorce their abuser, then we will put you out.  Your career will be over.”  And thus these structures, dominated by powerful people, have joined the Athenian philosophers who mocked Paul:

(Act 17:16-20 ESV) 16 ¶ Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.  18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”– because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.  19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?  20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”

No, I must modify that.  The powers that rule today are not as noble as these pagan Athenians.  At least the Athenians gathered together and gave him a chance to speak.  And some of them believed.

43 Comments

  1. Loren Haas

    The requirement to subscribe to “group think” is powerful amongst conservative Evangelicals. Does not just apply to the divorce issue. I am thinking of Pat Robertson, who recently said on air “I know some people are going to try to lynch me when I say this” that in regards to the age of the earth “you can’t fight revealed science or you are going to lose your children”. The group think is a “young earth”, so Pat knows he is going to catch flack from the group. Pat pre-dates the “Creationism” requirement of today and his status allows him not to care very much, but what do you think would happen to a lesser established Christian leader? Even politicians who want to appeal to conservative Christians have to give lip service to a young earth and Creationism or they cannot be considered.

    • Group think – I like it! Very descriptive. I reject evolution and even lean pretty well toward a literal 7 day creation. I say “lean toward” because I think I’m right but as I wasn’t there, I don’t know for sure. However, I completely reject the pressure put on us by some ultra conservative types to actually put the 7-day, 24 hour day, creation scenario in our church DOCTRINAL statement which members are required to subscribe to. When positions like this are put upon us with all that pressure, you know that the proponents are just waiting to scream “liberal, he’s a liberal and doesn’t believe the Bible is God’s Word!” if you go counter to them. That is Pharisaism. I do NOT like it!

    • Jeff S

      Pat is untouchable for some reason. His statment on the age of the earth is not earthshaking, but boy has he said some really crazy stuff and gotten away with it.

      It’s worth noting that more and more big names are joining the old earth camp (Piper, Driscoll, Keller- who really is a theistic evolutionist in all but name), while RC Sproul actually has gone more conservative (used to have a “framework” view- now believes literal 7 days but makes no comment on age of the earth). Even though I am no fan of Piper or Driscoll, I am glad to see more people out there getting along with dissenting views on this doctrine. And I really like what Sproul said about his view: he said he wasn’t “taking a stand” as the interviewer implied- he had a belief. It so important when we can tell the difference.

      In the inquirers class at the church I just joined our pastor made it a point to say that we were not going to divide over the age of the earth. The only thing the church required was belief that man was a special creation. My church also allows divorce in abuse situations. This is the kind of fellowship that is more concerned about the Gospel than getting everyone in line on every theological point.

  2. aspen

    Jeff, you say “abuse is indeed biblical grounds for divorce.” I am sure somewhere on this blog you have written your reasons for this view with bibical references. I am relatively new to your blog and haven’t found this information yet. Could you please provide the links to the pertinent posts as I would like to read what you have to say but can’t go through them all myself.

    Thank you.

    • Aspen – Our position on abuse as a biblical ground for divorce is best set out in Barbara’s book Not Under Bondage, and also in David Instone-Brewer’s book, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible (or his more popular and a bit easier reading Divorce and Remarriage in the Church). Actually I’m not sure if we have summarized their biblical arguments here on the blog or not. Fundamentally we find 1) God is a divorcee (Jer 3), 2) the nature of marriage as a covenant with vows/terms, 3) Exodus 21 in conjunction with 1 Cor 7, specifying divorce for not keeping vows. And just today I was referred to an excellent article by and Old Testament professor which you can read at http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/40/40-4/40-4-pp529-550_JETS.pdf

      You might actually just go ahead and start with that last article. It is excellent.

      Happy reading! Let us know what you find:)

    • Aspen, on our Resources page (click on Resources in the menu bar at the top of the blog) you can find lots of things, including this stuff about my teaching on divorce. Of course I’d love to sell another book 🙂 but I also have summaries of my divorce and remarriage teaching for free on my old (solo) blog. On our Resources page you will see this stuff, but I’ll copying it here too for your convenience:

      Barbara Roberts’ website [Barb’s solo site now re-directs to A Cry For Justice. Editors.] where you can read reviews of her book and find many other resources and links
      Audio CDs of the book Not Under Bondage are available for visually disabled survivors. Email barbara@notunderbondage.com.
      Summaries of Barbara’s teachings on divorce and remarriage:
      The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse

      [The original Not Under Bondage article The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse is no longer available, though a similarly titled article by Barb can be found here on the ACFJ blog. Editors.]

      Does 1 Cor 7:10-11 mean a victim of abuse can’t remarry?

      [This original link is no longer available. Editors.]

      • aspen

        Thanks for the links. I will check them out. But summarizing your views on this site might be an idea too.

    • Jeff S

      Aspen, I too would like to see something on the site explaining the position of allowing divorce for abuse; however, given some thought, it’s difficult for me to see how it could be concisely and effectively put together (but Barbara and Jeff C are pretty skilled, so maybe they could do it).

      The problem is that offering Biblical proof for divorce in abuse cases is more about handling objections than it is offering a positive doctrine. Or to say it differently: if we understand abuse and what it does to victims, the default position is that of course a loving and merciful God would allow for divorce, why would we think differently? A good post handling this subject would need to provide counterpoint to reasons people think differently. I would suggest that the main reasons people think differently are not scriptural as they claim, but due to a) not understanding what abuse does to victims and defaulting to a traditional view or b) a monstrous heart that does not care what abuse does to victims.

      I have learned from hearing stories on this site that the reasons for not allowing divorce are quite varied; answering them all in a single work would take a book to do (which is why many have been written). That being said, in my opinion the ONLY text that could lead me to object to divorce in abuse cases is Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees as recounted in multiple places in the Gosepls. If we did not have that text, no one would (I hope) think twice about abuse cases, especially those who understand that abuse destroys victims. David Instone-Brewer does an excellent job showing that what was being addressed in that scripture is specifically one TYPE of divorce (an “any cause” divorce). It’s quite clear from his work that Jesus is not prohibiting all divorces except for in adultery cases– for Jesus to mean that would be for him to use the same language and words of his contemporaries but mean something entirely different.

      Without Jesus issuing a blanket prohibition on divorce, I think it is impossible to justify disallowing divorce for abuse, but people still do (for example, citing “God hates divorce”, which is widely recognized as a mistranslation– check the ESV for instance– and even if it WERE correct wouldn’t be anti-divorce for abuse anyway: we often hate what is necessary). In my estimation the continued denial of divorce in abuse situations  is adherence to expectations and tradition rather than trying to understand the heart of God. Scripture over and over again affirms that God is a defender of the weak, exhorting his people to protect and bring justice for the oppressed. We simply cannot reconcile that God with a doctrine of divorce that leaves a victim bound to an abuser in the most intimate of relationships: a marriage.

      All that being said, if your interest in this is that you are an “I need to see in in the scripture and really get to the nuts and bolts” kind of person (that’s the kind of guy I am), I highly recommend David Instone-Brewer’s book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible”. He’s a Bible scholar and writes like one, so be prepared to go deep if you go that route (but it’s rewarding work– you will see the coherency of scripture in the subject of marriage and divorce far better than you have before). If that’s not you, Barbara’s book or David IB’s book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church” may be better options, as they are written on a level to make this information available with a much more consumable presentation. And that article that Jeff linked above is really good as well, though it does not address the Gospel conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees more than superficially if that is a sticking point.

      One question I’d have: what is your interest in this? Are you or someone you know affected by abuse or are you an unaffected inquirer trying to understand this topic better? I think there is a lot to offer on the blog for both types of people and I’d love to get to know you better.

      And the length of this response, as limited as it is, may explain why a specific page on this topic doesn’t yet exist 🙂

      • Anonymous

        I read yesterday, that Abraham actually divorced Hagar. In those verses, God tells Abraham to listen to and obey Sarah, when she told Abraham to “send her (Hagar) away”. Apparently, according to this article, those words mean “divorce”. So, there is one example of divorce that I have not seen discussed much before. There were also other evidences of divorce in the Scriptures, where women divorced because the man could not provide the things from Exodus 21:10-11. That article is linked above by Jeff Crippen. It also states that divorce for “cruelty” ie abuse, is allowed. Good read!

      • As you said, Jeff S., to explain how and why the BIble does allow divorce for abuse takes a lot of space. That’s why I had to write a whole book about it. I had hoped to write a chapter about divorce, but it became a whole book!

        Condensing the teaching is not easy, but I think I’ve done a reasonable job in those two articles I linked to above. Always open to feedback though…

  3. Anonymous

    I personally think, that my putting my husband out for his abuse, is exactly why I am being excommunicated from the church I used to attend. The leaders there, who appear to be very Pharisaical in nature, decided, in my opinion (as well as others’) that they were going to make me the example, that if I thought for one second, that they were going to allow some woman in their midst to put their husband out for abusing them, that they had another think coming about that! So, that is what they are doing. Scriptural? No. Godly? No. But, they are doing it anyway. I also believe, that they want us to divorce, so that they can say that putting one’s spouse out for abuse, will just end in divorce, that it will never “fix” the marriage. Had the abuse not been so heinous and damaging, perhaps there would have been the possibility of that, but adding into the mix, what the church has done, with the abuser’s help, has just sort of made God angrier than He already was over it all and helped me to see God’s position on this for me. So, I have been released by God and am free now, to pursue a new life, serving Him and not having to fight the demons anymore. I have been pretty devastated over all of it, but God has been very quick to come to me and comfort me and gently lead me and show me His ways in all of this, and I mean very quick. Answers to prayers within the day and tons of comfort at night. He has shown me, that this is not from Him; that He is not my enemy that persecutes me with ongoing abuse.

    One thing I want to note is this. It is amazing to me, how God will show me something that He wants and how it has to happen, and the enemy will come along and change a little bit of it or take a little bit away from what God said, and try to make me believe it is God at work. Very sly. I have learned through this, not to give into something that “looks” like what God said, but is not “exactly” as God said it should be. I think that is a trap and I am learning how to identify that. I think the Pharisees of our day, are like that. They bring you something that looks like God, smells like God and feels like God, but it is nothing more than the enemy’s counterfeit of God’s truth.

    • Loren Haas

      Anonymous, So sorry about the abuse that resulted in the end of your marriage. I am glad for you that you have been delivered from a pharisaical church! Now go and sample a lot of churches if you can, and find one that focuses on healing. You will be amazed at what a difference a change of scenery makes.

    • It is amazing to me, how God will show me something that He wants and how it has to happen, and the enemy will come along and change a little bit of it or take a little bit away from what God said, and try to make me believe it is God at work. Very sly. … They bring you something that looks like God, smells like God and feels like God, but it is nothing more than the enemy’s counterfeit of God’s truth.

      The serpent in the Garden all over again.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly!

    • So much time spent on finding the biblical grounds for divorcing abuse. The truth is simple. The way God intended.

      Why not let THEM spend time finding where God commands the “Biblical” use of abuse!

      TRUTH: SIMPLE.

      EVIL: SNEAKY, UNDERMINING, DECEPTIVE, DEADLY, CONFUSING, MISLEADING,……..

  4. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  5. Anonoymous

    To tell the spouse of a violent and abusive mate that they must stay in that violent relationship is to lower God‟s standard for marriage. Rev. Chuck Winters —

  6. Jeff Crippen

    This comment probably should be a post of its own as we have not dealt with this issue of becoming a step-parent by marrying an abuse survivor and becoming a father/mother to the children. Thanks to Anonymous for providing the link (below) to Rev. Chuck Winters article explaining that God does indeed allow divorce. At the end of the article (I haven’t read the entire thing yet), Winters says this and I it really struck me because it hits right at the issue of re-marriage (which of course is often prohibited by Christians who…well, don’t have a clue or are power hungry) –

    On Step-Parenting
    What about the stigma of being a stepparent?

    From a purely biblical sense… and from a purely spiritual sense… God is Himself a stepparent. Consider this statement from Psalm 68:4-6:

    Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt Him who rides on the clouds – His name is Yahweh-and rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless and a champion of widows is God in His holy dwelling. God provides homes for those who are deserted…
    (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

    There is no doubt that many stepparents have helped earn the reputation that the title elicits in our emotions… but it need not be so. As a matter of fact… with a little reflection… we would conclude that it should be a very gracious endeavor to take on the role of being a godly stepparent.

    When a single parent has become single due to the fault of an offending spouse I believe that all would conclude that the single parent needs help. Not only does the single parent need help, but the child/children also need help. There is little doubt that children do better when they have a godly mother and father in their life.

    God is a father to the fatherless and provides homes for those who have been deserted according to our verses above. This is a part of God‟s Justice and Compassion. Surely God would have the same characteristic in our day… and God uses people.

    With the current reality of the vast number of single parent households we need to work hard to overcome the stigma of being a stepparent. We need to realize that God Himself can lead in bringing two people together if for no other reason than for the sake of the children who have been deserted by one of their parents.

    Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me.
    Psalm 27:10 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

    Here is the link.

    Click to access Biblical%20Misconceptions%20About%20Divorce%20and%20Remarriage.pdf

    • Jeff, do you think these articles are because more pastors are beginning to really wrestle with this issue and are beginning to see it and are speaking out, or finally getting heard? I mean, do you think this issue is beginning to gain some traction?

      • Jeff Crippen

        BIT- i don’t know but Chuck Winters published this only last year. I found it on Amazon in book form – believe the title is Biblical Misconceptions About Divorce and Re-Marriage. I ordered it on kindle. He is a pastor in Arkansas.

        I would like to think these are signs that change is in the air. At minimum we are seeing more tools like this that we can show our opponents and at least show such people we are not alone in allowing divorce for abuse. Also don’t forget that PCA study document that concluded the same thing.

        I emailed pastor Winters and thanked him and offered to send him a copy of our books.

      • Hi Jeff,

        Specifically what force of nature, or church protocol, or whatever it is that is creating this huge biblical blind spot within the church? What is blocking the information from actually landing in the hands of every pastor in every church? Or is it like trying to get a law passed in Congress?

        I mean there are groups, like A.R.M.S. that try to get the information, and support services into churches, with or without the OK of head pastor dude.

        I found their literature in the bathroom stall? Seems kinda absurd, literally treated like the dirty little secret? I support all the efforts made, and of course that would be the best direct route to get to the victoms….to give them support BUT does little good to eradicate the problem if un educated counseling is going on.

        I am perhaps being simple minded on the issue, but the way i see things is there are way more of us than them!!! Every single church across the US and abroad should initiate a DV or Abuse week, where EVERY talk, lecture, meeting serves the purpose of opening minds. If that happen, I would love to see the fall out of how many abusers suddenly “had to work that week” or “”fell ill”…or stopped going all together…For example if every church website was flooded with your blog, lets just pretend for a minute, would they take the time to read? or would they just push delete? What other VERY important issues are taking priority over family? Murder? Suicide? What treats are we serving at our weekly prayer meetings? Who is bringing the casserole?

        How does God see their apathy? Do you think they see they are apathetic? Or do they just brush it off because they are busy doing the other work God has over loaded them with?

        John Courson once talked about his Mother who killed herself because of the abuse of his father, Maybe it was his Grma I am not 100% sure. At any rate I remember sitting out in the sanctuary suddenly gripped with interest, like suddenly I WAS GOING TO BE HEARD through this womens story….. but no. That was all you heard about it, Many letters, pleads, tearful pleads I made to this church, every off shoot of this church, every pastor young, and old…..to no effect. Even though they were faced with the same issue day in and day out, they turned the other cheek, which would make sense they were offended they could not being doing something right.
        It just sickens me, thousands of women and children will suffer the same plight as we did, some wont be as lucky because alot of fimes abusers get away with murder and child abuse. Taking away their Mom, mistreating her IS child abuse. The effects are so devastating I really struggle with what else is on their plates that takes precedent over this?

        What exactly is the blockage in the arteries? Abuse is so dangerously rampant in these communities who or what stops these pastors from listening up?

      • Anonymous

        Jeff Crippen – Please let us know if Pastor Winters gives you a response to your books. I, for one, would like to know if he has anything to say. Perhaps he is a Pastor that would endorse the books and encourage other Churches to at least read them or put them in their own libraries!

    • MeganC

      I LOVE this. Cannot wait to read this article. Thank you, Jeff C.

  7. That was from ME.

  8. I am very sorry I had a question for Jeff C. but it did not post.

    John Courson, during a sermon mention one time about his Grandmother who killed herself because of abuse. I remember suddenly I was gripped by what he was saying, felt sudden relief as if FINALLY I would be heard and understood!….i was mistaken.

    I wrote countless letters, made several pleas to every counselor young, old, from every off shoot of this fellowship. Its as if, I needed to be silenced. so I was ignored. Even when the ongoing counseling was happening.

    Excuse me for being simple minded but the way i see it is that there are way more of us, than them, they are hearing about it day in, day out. They turn the other cheek, because to them it is an offense, SO what exactly is on their plates that takes priority over the welfare of familys and children…..what Godly issue takes precedence?

    I really want to understand, the mindset. Do you think they see it as apathy? Or do they REALLY think gods will is for them to continue condemning the lives of abuse victoms.

    Every church should carry out an entire month of education dedicated to the disease thats over thrown all their family church members. Of course the numbers would drop, abuser safe haven would be lost, then there goes the tithing qouta. Look I am not trying to be smart, but as far as their education they must deem God has other prioritys for them as far as TEACHERS, which is what they go to school for, is to teach the word of God. Whats the priority on the sermon checklist?
    Do you wanna address sin? How bout murder? Suicide? How to live a Christian life? Ya I do not understand? I want too. If somebody comes to you and says THIS, then you say THAT. Wheres the humanity, the compassion and EMPATHY in that?

    Is it like getting a law passed through congress? Are they bogged down with so many burdens they cannot be bothered?

    There are groups like A.R.M.S that try to distribute information to churches, even with out the okay of head pastor dude. I found it in the bathroom stall. Thats the only way they could get it to victoms of abuse, the church definately wouldnt stand for that.

    So my question. Specifically is: What is the blockage in the main arteries?

    If every church, for example lets just pretend for a minute, if every church leader was emailed this blog, would they delete it? Would they value the information as important? Or deem it worthy but something that they could get to down the road, maybe after staff prayer meetings, after everyone is clear who is suppose to bring the casserole?

    I know people who suffer NOW. The generations of people who suffered in the past, and our kids who are going to take the brunt of this in their futures. Literally, I want to know what is it going to take?

    • Memphis Rayne, this is exactly why this blog exists- a cry for justice. Hopefully you will get a chance to read Jeff’s book, because it will be a great resource to get into the hands of pastors.

      I personally really think it’s an issue of ignorance. Ignorance of what abuse does to people and ignorance of the fact that it can happen in their congregations (everyone thinks it’s happening in other congregations). And mixed in with this ignorance is plain, unregenerate evil that seeks to eradicate truth. So we need to educate the ignorante and push aside the false teachers.

      This is no small task, but our cry is getting louder and people are taking notice. SGM is taking it in the form of a lawsuit right now, and the evangelical church can only ignore this issue for so long.

      The testimonies offered daily on this blog are a resource for any pastor who has empathy but lacks knowledge: I defy anyone to come to this blog, read the comments, and walk way comfortable with a doctrine or approach to abuse that continues to give it safe haven.

    • Memphis – I know your frustration. We catch it too. Recently I was at a conference at Bob Jones University on sexual abuse in the church. I went up to one of the main professors there (they had permitted us to have our book on a book table but said they would not endorse it or feature it). I began to talk to him about his (very good actually) lecture on sexual abuse and how it is covered up and prevalent in the church, and I told him about my book. I gave him one and he asked me to sign it for him. He was excited and we were clicking and he started to go get one of the other head guys in the seminary to show them the book….and I told him that I maintain in the book that divorce for abuse is indeed biblical. He said, “oh,” and basically that was the end of the conversation.

      You ask why? Why this wall? I agree with Jeff S that much of it is due to ignorance. And fear. And the brainwashing of tradition. But I think there is also a spiritual element here — one of the strongholds that the Apostle Paul talked about. And the only way it is going to come down is by the use of spiritual weapons. Prayer, and especially God’s truth as given us in God’s Word. We have to take that Word and bring it to bear on this issue. And that means first exposing the issue to these people. Telling them exactly what these abusers do to their victims in all the ugly terms necessary. And any person who doesn’t want to get themselves soiled by hearing about these ugly things, well, all I can say is that they are the Levite and the Priest who walked by the beat up guy that the Good Samaritan rescued.

      It is a darkness. A blindness. It has been a stronghold among us for far, far too long and it is time the spotlight be put on it. Over and over and over until eyes start opening. Books need to be written and distributed. We need to speak on this issue even if our congregations don’t want to hear about it. And we need to confront people. I like to describe a horrific case of abuse in which a mother and her two daughters were blasted with a shotgun and killed in a restaurant last year. I tell people, “so if the mother had survived and her husband had too, are you telling me that you are going to counsel that woman that God forbids her from divorcing him? You say divorce for adultery is ok but not for murder? Don’t you think that says that either you are….well, crazy…or you have gone horribly wrong in your application of Scripture?” People really don’t have much at all to say at that point.

      • Like when i was told, after bruises on my arms were shown to the counselor “Perhaps its Gods will for you to go home at the hands of your husband”….he was like telling me essentially there is NO way out, so suck it up sister!…..

      • But I think there is also a spiritual element here — one of the strongholds that the Apostle Paul talked about. And the only way it is going to come down is by the use of spiritual weapons.

        You know what, Jeff? I am really glad you said this because, frankly, I have been forgetting that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This wasn’t the point you were making but God used it to remind me of who the enemy really is here. I’d been getting confused on that point. Thanks!

  9. I am in the way of wondering, does a whole generation of crusty minded individuals need to die off before any change can take effect?

    But then sadly since those mindsets are passed down to the next generation, its very hard to intervene.

    • No– we can take heart that our advocate is greater than the world and he is reforming his church. I believe we are going to see reform in this area- this evil will not endure.

      Note that a whole boatload of pastors addressed the issue of abuse in their various blogs this past week (more than have in years past). Were some just giving lip service for PR? I am certain. But one thing is sure, they are taking notice, and that is an important step.

  10. All of o the western hemisphere is in need of reform!!! You know I do not want to be the girl who calls out names, or anything ……..

    Did Applegate Fellowship, or any of their affiliates address the ABUSE issue???? The biggest church up and down the West coast, needs a little shout out.

    I want to be comforted that they make this effort, however, how much good does addressing abuse without the education to back up what it is they are addressing?

    Call me a simpleton, but unless their is a HALE STORM of critics, a little lip sevice of acknowledgement only serves one purpose.

  11. None of my specific questions were answered. But that is okay.

    There is no “protocol” and abuser has to follow to abuse.

    Yet there is all this “protocol” put in place victoms have to follow to make them stop!

    Just saying, even the Christian perspectives presented, not here but in other places, forums, etc…..give props to the minimal, weak response of the church as a whole. Yes any is progress is good!!!! Not good enough though, They shouldnt get a dozen roses for just talking about it, or finally acknowledging the existence of….

    Feels like a political arena.

  12. Just making a point. Look at the Pope, and the response to all the child molesters in the church, they acknowledge the hell out of it, to save face, yet they put no measures in place to prevent abuse, or protect the victoms……..it was treated like an “oversight”.

    Again I am no expert on Theology, or the Catholic church, OR am I an Author, or have ANY expertise in Phsycology, in fact I cannot even spell it!!

    I am just an average girl, a Mom, I have no affiliation with a council, group or even a home church for that matter…..

    There is no grey matter in abuse. …all darkness, a specific evil.

    Hardcore stuff, no fluff. Should be treated as such.

  13. I just got an email from an elder in the church I left a couple of months ago- admitting he doesn’t know much about my situation (he never asked) but telling me I had an obligation to reconcile with my husband and practice “unconditional forgiveness”. Coincidentally, this comes the same day that I had my STBE sign legal separation papers in preparation for divorce papers coming next. Stupid me didn’t even think about the possibility that STBE has been in contact with them over this until my friend suggested it.

    • Jodi – “I know nothing of your condition but I prescribe radical heart surgery.” I think we would all run out of such a doctor’s office! Yes, this has all the makings of an abuser gaining allies among the church leadership. What is unconditional forgiveness anyway? Unconditional? Hmmmm. I guess that would mean you have to forgive (and this guy’s brand of forgiveness MUST include reconciliation), no matter what your STBE has done, is doing, or will continue to do. “Sure, just come on home and keep right on doing what you were doing to me. I was wrong to ever insist upon conditions for our relationship.” Hey, wait a minute – doesn’t Christ lay down some conditions upon us that, if we don’t meet, will result in no relationship with Him? “You will die in your sins unless you believe in Me.”

      Unfortunately, that elder who called you probably feels pretty good about himself right now. After all, he tried. So sad though – that ornery rebellious wife just wouldn’t repent.

      • IndeedJeff! What’s really crazy is that it never occurred to me that the ex could have anything to do with this because he hasn’t done anything like this for the past year of our separation-except with the kids(which didn’t work). I guess once he knew separation papers were coming- that’s when he stepped it up. At least he signed them, but I think it’s because he didn’t want to look bad in front of the kids. Either way, doesn’t matter to me.

      • Jodi, perhaps it’s like the last puff of oily smoke before the engine dies.

        LOL for how you never thought of connecting the dots till your friend told you. Been there.
        I think that because WE are sensible, non-guileful people, we don’t think much about how those with guile might be planning and executing their nasty little agendas. We are just getting on with our lives; we don’t scheme and connive. So when something happens like that elder ringing you, we don’t default automatically to thinking “What schemer did this originate from?”

    • I agree with all JC wrote…when you try to leave abuse, especially legally the abuser goes frantic!
      My ex infiltrated every church we tried to attend. He worked constantly behind the scenes. When your trying to get out, expect the smear campaign against you by him…..

      If they have weekly prayer meetings, mens groups, marriages that are “In need of repair groups” he more than likely will be attending in your absence. He wants to gather support, and confirmation you are wrong for resisting his abuse!!! The allies he will acquire, no doubt will bring him comfort, his hope is that he will have more than himself and the pastor to try to persuade you into giving him another try for the sake of your marriage and do not forget the children!!…..”he is their father after all!!!!”…….BARF!!

      Stay Focused!!! You are on the right path! The more it matters little to you, the more he will find ways to matter!

      • Still scared

        can I say how MUCH I HATE the “he is their father ” line! Ugh! clueless people!

  14. …if only I saved ONE dollar for every time I heard that one!!!! Courts, Pastors, their wifes, EVEN my own mother!! I would of had enough money to leave him a lot sooner!

  15. Thank you Chuck.
    I wish someone would preach that message from the roof tops!

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