A Cry For Justice

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

Preserve the Marriage At All Costs?

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

***

The following letter, modified in form just slightly for anonymity, is an actual note from a conservative pastor written recently to an abuse victim (a woman) in response to her question about his position on divorce.  He knows the details of the many years of abuse that she has endured at her abuser-husband’s hands.  He knows.

So here is your chance to tell us what you think of what he says and teaches.  So much of his deeper attitudes are revealed by this short note.  Tell us what you think they are.  Yes, you can use all caps!!!

Dear ______________

I do not believe that Christians are permitted by God to seek a divorce for any reason. Therefore, I will not perform weddings for divorced people.  I allow for separation, but separation should always be considered to be a temporary condition. We must desire restoration of the marriage and reconciliation at all costs.

Blessings on you,

Pastor ___________

105 Comments

  1. Heather

    Where to begin??? With the end “…at all costs.”

    I am so very angry at this pastor’s choice to disallow divorce on any grounds. He and those like him are nothing but accomplices. When will this madness end? Even God does not require our blood for sacrifice.

    This is very disturbing. With all of the apostate beliefs and pride of churches I am continually amazed that the blinders toward domestic spousal abuse among Christians refuse to be removed.

  2. I am speechless. And sadly, not surprised. What does this say to me about his deeper attitudes? He is a rule follower. There is safety (for him, which seems to be a priority) in following the rules. I read hardness, coldness, rigidity, a stern, angry, clenched, bitter determination to follow the rules, at any cost…to others. I see no love, no compassion, no grace, no putting others ahead of himself, no Jesus. Considering that this note is to a wounded person, I hear no care or gentleness for her wounds. I hear that he is “putting down his foot”. He has figured out where she is coming from, what she is really asking – “Is it okay with God if I divorce the man who is abusing and assaulting me?” – and he is narrowing his eyes, gritting his teeth, straightening his spine and warning her – WARNING HER – that she will not get away with any action that will serve to permanently protect herself for her husband’s crimes. It is heart-breaking.

    • Heather

      Thank you, Kelly, for mentioning his lack of grace, mercy, love and compassion for a women who has been deeply hurt and wounded. I have found this to be the case in churches. In fact, I asked my own pastor where they were when I needed them. Not a phone call, not a visit to see how I was. Only condemnation and avoidance.

      It is not of God.

      • A New Free Life

        Oh, Heather, my church did the same thing to me. I went to the associate pastor and told him that my doctors all thought I had MS, but I wasn’t convinced of the diagnosis. I felt like my husband was killing me slowly (he had tried several times just prior to that conversation using a motor vehicle). I told him I was developing a safety plan to leave because either way I had to get out. He told me that they would be praying I did NOT do that. Shortly thereafter my husband left, took all the money, and left me with all the debt and bills and without a means of providing for myself and the children. Two months later my mom died. Seven months after that my dad died. NOT A SINGLE PHONE CALL FROM ANYONE AT MY CHURCH THROUGH ALL OF THAT. I applaud you, Heather, for having the courage to confront your pastor and ask him where they were when you needed them. No, that kind of treatment, that coldness, is not of God.

      • Same here. When the elders and their wives just found out I was separated-they all just stopped acknowledging my presence except for a rare hello now and then. No one asked me anything or even mentioned my separation to me at all.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how God works. I published a poem on this very subject at the same time that you posted this. It took me months of heavy research and hours of prayer to break myself free of the vicious lies of men like the one who wrote this letter. It is sickening the grip it takes on people. My prayer is that one day this thought process of anti-divorce will be as antiquated as blood letting.

    • “My prayer is that one day this thought process of anti-divorce will be as antiquated as blood letting.” AMEN

  4. First off, I am learning in my reading and from talking to others that many pastors would not give the same advice to men. ( I know some do, but not all.) Secondly, pastors who give this advice don’t generally have a high view of women or any of their minions…ooops sorry, their members. They have abusive tendencies themselves. It’s nothing more than a power trip. I’d love to be a fly on the wall if Jesus was in the room at the time this sort of advice is given.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Lynette – I agree with you. This is like the elephant in the sanctuary no one wants to see, hear, or talk about. I think that the abusive tendencies and prejudices can be in a pastor and he really doesn’t fully realize it. But I know in myself that I have to guard against treating a man differently than a woman when they walk into my office asking for help. And if you throw into the mix that if a pastor is trained in a conservative, Bible-believing school, these biases can be very reinforced. And then there is the other kind of pastor who really is a wolf. This is the genre of the abuser in the pulpit.

      • “But I know in myself that I have to guard against treating a man differently than a woman when they walk into my office asking for help. ”

        Is that because of the pervasive myths around domestic abuse, Jeff? That maybe you are unconsciously conditioned to some degree by these myths? I think it’s really cool that you are able to be deliberate this.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Desley – I think it is simply because men are men and women are women and whenever human beings are different, various prejudices come into play. We need to be aware of those prejudices and think them through carefully. For myself, I make conscious effort now to relate to and listen to people as people, not as a certain brand of person. Of course men and women are different and some things have to be taken into consideration naturally in relating to them. I do not and should not relate to a woman as I would to a man in every way. But if we have been raised in a conservative, Bible-believing church, and if we have gone to a seminary of the same theological position, then it is inevitable I think that these things are not going to be thoroughly talked out. AND if a school or church is one of the really, really patriarchal types – look out! Big trouble then.

      • LorenHaas

        This is not intended as a criticism of Jeff’s comment, but I am thinking Bible-believing should be written “Bible-believing”, as in we believe the bible should understood to re-inforce our personal and cultural evil desires. It is unfortunate, but everytime I read or hear “bible believing” my skin crawls. That phrase has been used by the worst of the worst to defend their actions. I am wondering what could be used instead?

      • Jeff Crippen

        Yes, I agree. An alternative is needed. “Letter of the Law” churches. It is Pharisaism that we are really trying to identify.

      • As I See It Only

        Bible be-living?

      • Jeff Crippen

        AISI- you are on a roll. Keep going.

  5. Ellie

    That short note made my stomach hurt. I am nauseous, just literally ill from reading it. Must have triggered something.

    All costs. How can people justify holding folks to a higher standard than even God does? I don’t get it.

  6. Where to begin….The statements “at all costs” or the statement that we can’t pursue a divorce “for any reason” boggle the mind given that he knows her history of being abused. I am amazed again and again that most leaders in our churches are not emotionally or spiritually healthy. They can quote chapter and verse of Scripture yet are unable to reflect the heart of God in their counsel.

    I think pastors (some) are afraid of losing their jobs so they tow the company line, because let’s face it, if it got out to his congregation that he supported divorce, well, then, he might be out of a job.

    People don’t want to do any work, intellectually, spiritually, or emotionally. It’s easy to just shrug your shoulders and in essence say “Sorry, Charlie.”

  7. Reconciliation at ALL costs??!?!?! Just who will be paying those costs, dear pastor? Certainly not you! It angers me to see this man and so many others “volunteering” the abuse victim for more suffering,as if it were up to them. I am incensed on behalf of the poor woman who came to this guy for help!

  8. Oh forgot to mention his closing “Blessings on You” reminds me of the caricature of the pastor on The Simpsons.

    “Tiddly-dee…highdly ho” You have to laugh to keep from crying.

  9. Now Free

    He desires reconciliation AT ALL COSTS? Even death? He desires “restoration”? What does this mean? How can one restore a marriage where the abuser continues to abuse? Just because this pastor “desires” restoration, it will not happen if the abuser continues his abusive ways. It will not happen if the abused woman no longer desires to be with her abusive husband.

    He “allows for separation”. Does this mean he will “marry” people who are merely separated and not divorced? (I say this with humour.)

    Does he find a lot of comfort in knowing that this writer endured 42 years of abuse (yes, severe physical abuse included), and is beginning to truly walk again with her Lord and feel Him with her all the way, is experiencing true life once again, and has never, even for a nano-second, doubted the Lord’s guidance out of this hell of a marriage?

  10. Lisa

    In my experience, this is exactly the case with 3 different pastors. And the children were confronted also about their “BAD BEHAVIOR” one pastor told 3 of the 4 children “DO YOU WANT YOUR MOM AND DAD TO GET DIVORCED? IF YOU DON’T STRAIGHTEN UP THEY WILL” at the time the twins were 8 and my daughter was 14. We are still in the battle. The battle now has been in the court system for 5 long years. I feel betrayed and spiritually drained from it all but will never give up on the hope that one day the kids will all be together again. And that restoration will be given to all our relationships.

    • MeganC

      Oh, Lisa. I cannot imagine five long years of battle. 😦 I am so sorry. Of COURSE you feel betrayed and spiritually drained. And to put the blame on a CHILD? That is truly sickening. Truth — the restoration God will bring about will be in your heart and the hearts of your children . . . NOT restoration to an abuser. Big hugs to you.

    • Lisa, I have heard many diabolical things that pastors, elders and church matriarchs and patriarchs have said over the years, but never have I heard of them telling the children to straighten up or else mum and dad will get divorced! That is beyond cruel.

      It makes me wish we could restore the old fashioned punishments and put that pastor in the stocks for a week, and then get him hung drawn and quartered in the town square.

  11. Keeping This Anonymous

    When will people stop making blanket statements like this?

    At all costs? The cost of someone’s life? Restoring what? A twisted, perverted travesty is not a marriage. No sense of any compassion for the victim. No church discipline for the offender. No contacting civil authorities to report a crime.

  12. “I do not believe that Christians are permitted by God to seek a divorce for any reason.”

    “So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’”” John 5: 10-11

    Christ came to set us free from legalism!

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      Amen, Joe! Perfect scripture!!

    • Heather

      Amen, Joe. And few seem to realize that God himself divorced His wife, Israel. Yes, He hates divorce, but He hated what men did to their wives by divorcing them for whatever whim they had at the time. Jesus came and gave women a place of honor.

      I agree with what someone else has said in this thread of comments that we don’t need the permission of pastors in our private lives. A true believer will be convicted by the Holy Spirit.
      And as far as being married in the “church” goes, I married my present husband in a civil ceremony. We later had a covenant ceremony before God and our loved ones. There are ways of handling this is an appropriate and sensitive manner.

      • Yes, it’s pretty silly to assume divorce is always an ungodly chpice when God, Himself divorced Israel, isn’t it?

        Have you ever noticed that almost every time someone uses words such as “permissible” or “forbidden” it is in expression of a legalistic perception of God?

        I just cannot picture Jesus saying things like, “It is forbidden for a Christian to commit murder,” or “It is permissible for you to love one another.”

        This sort of vocabulary just doesn’t align well with the concept of living by faith, through grace, in wholehearted pursuit of God.

        The Pharisees, though, loved using words like “forbidden” and “permissble.” Those are great words for legalistic score-keepers…great words for speaking authoritatively on issues that are not black-and-white, or on which God has chosen to remain silent…

  13. Katy

    The Gospel of SEE YA WOULDN’T WANNA BE YA!!
    or SUCKS TO BE YOU!!!
    It’s Nancy DeMoss, Holly and Bill Elliff, John Piper, et all — satan’s choir!

    what a creep.

    • Katy

      or maybe that was Jim Elliff – can’t remember the names of all these “patriarchs”

      and AISIO – “This one was too easy–it drips with apostasy. Give us a harder one.
      ha ha I agree, let’s try a harder one 😉

    • Jeff Crippen

      Biff, boom, bah! Katy. Go get ’em!

  14. As I See It Only

    This one was too easy–it drips with apostasy. Give us a harder one.

    • Anonymous

      It is probably the most common one, though! I have heard those statements so so so many times…:(

  15. Anonymous

    I wonder how many marriages where an abuser “conned” his victim into marrying him could really be classed as a marriage. God looks on the heart and knows their real intentions.

  16. Anonymous

    Here is my response to him…

    Dear Sir:
    GOD IS NOT DEAD, (there’s my “all caps”) so how dare you, try to take over His position and authority. God does indeed allow for divorce in certain situations and circumstances, and for you to say that He does not, demonstrates that you do not believe the Word of God. Divorce is not a happy thing for anyone. But to say that you do not allow for divorce for any reason, is to say that you believe you know better than God and will disobey Him, by binding spouses to marriage, where God has allowed for them to be divorced from their spouses. God also allows for re-marriage, so again, you are defying God Himself, to take a stand such as you have. No one who understands God’s Word, agrees with treacherous divorce or a divorce for silly or unfounded reasons, but we are talking about divorce for Biblical reasons that God Himself has allowed. Perhaps a little study and a little humility from you, would do you and your congregation great good, and after all, isn’t that what the true shepherd of God’s people seeks? Truth, justice and mercy? I believe it is. To harden yourself in the way that you have, allows only one way for you to go, and that is down.

  17. Wendell G

    Gee, a pastor who even denies Jesus’ own teachings (as well as Paul’s). Way to be really Biblical pastor….sarcasm intended. Even if you take a strict view of what Jesus said about divorce, this guy is taking it to the pharisee level and creating his own law.

    In my case, I would first try to ascertain the reason for the divorce before making a decision. If it was scripturally allowable (including abuse), I would not hold it against them. I would just want to make sure that they had dealt with the trauma and issues that are related to the divorce so that it would not drag down their new life together.

    • Wendell just a question not an attack- Is it you place to determine if the divorce was allowable by God or not? Even if it wasn’t should they never again be aloud to marry? Should they have to live the rest of there lives single because of a sin in there past? IMHO that is a matter for individual conscience. If you are conducting the marriage you have every right to refuse to marry anyone you choose but I don’t believe you have the right to tell them that they would be sinning by getting married even if they are in sin.

  18. Wendell G

    Bethany, that is not my intent, though I can see how my words may be interpreted so. Pastors tend to take their marrying responsibility very seriously, and my desire is for any marriage that I have a part in to have the greatest chance of success possible. This means first that I will not marry a believer to a non-believer. Second, if they do have a divorce in their past and it was because they committed a grievous sin such as adultery or abuse, have they repented of the behavior and made positive changes in their lives so that they won’t repeat the behavior in their new marriage? I would also want to find out if their fiance has been informed and is fully aware of the ramifications and what to look for in that relationship. Third, if they divorced because of abuse or adultery by the other partner, have they had a chance to heal somewhat from the trauma and baggage that would bring? Are they taking positive steps in that direction?

    My goal is not to condemn them for previous behavior, but to give them the best start I can within my power. I feel that it would be irresponsible on my part to become a “Marrying Sam” and just marry anyone who comes in and asks without at least digging a little deeper into their background.

    Does that help?

    • Yes thank you 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Wendell. Your reply shows a good balance.

  19. To paraphrase badly— Marriage was made for man and not man for marriage.

    *Anything* that destroys the soul to preserve the institution is all kinds of wrong and this man’s answer to the questions shows he isn’t a true shepherd of God’s flock.

    • K

      You hit it on the head, Ida.

      This seems like a kind of marriage idolatry to me. Nothing except God is to be followed “at all costs.”

    • Just Me

      “*Anything* that destroys the soul to preserve the institution is all kinds of wrong”
      Ida Mae, that was powerful. Thank you.

  20. I am so thankful that we have an advocate that intercedes for us (Jesus). I also feel sorry for hirelings who drive there flocks and then desert them when the wolf comes along. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when they come in front of Jesus. I believe there is a special place in hell for ‘pastors’ who intentionally cause people to be harmed. However I also feel that we give too much power to our Pastors in our marriages, they are only men and women who have a job to do. We don’t have to agree with them, in everything, they are not God, and if they are expecting a woman or man to stay in an abusive marriage, I wonder if they are even of God and know His true heart of sincerity. I also had a pastor who refused to Baptize my daughter in water, because his rule of thumb was 12 years old and my daughter was 7 at the time. Yes they can refuse to marry us if we have been married before for what ever reason, however we can refuse to take their council as well, they are not God to us. They are not our fathers, God is, they are our servants. If everyone was to leave the churches of Pastors who believe that marriage is not dis-solvable under any circumstances, then they couldn’t continue to preach the poison. Be thankful that God has revealed the truth about these hirelings and leave their churches and find one that accepts you .

  21. Barnabasintraining

    Dear Pastor _________,

    Thank you for your response. Words cannot convey the level of regard I sense you have for me as a person in reading your carefully crafted form letter! That my account of the many years of hardship and pain I endured in marriage to an abusive husband provoked you to take the time to instruct your secretary to type out these 3 sentences for me really speaks to me regarding your concern for the sheep you are tasked to shepherd. The amount of careful thought you have given to this matter is also clearly implied, plainly indicating how important it is to you that marriage vows can be exploited to inflict such harm, and what value you place on the victims of such mistreatment.

    This short note of yours has impacted me such that I will likely never forget it as long as I live. Really, there are no words to express my sentiments at this time. So with that I will just sign myself…

    Sincerely.
    Your Roadkill.

    • Brilliant, BIT! LOLing here!

    • MeganC

      YES, BIT!! BOOM!!

    • Now Free

      BIT, WHen I first saw your letter, I got tears in my eyes and chills down my spine, thinking that it might be you to whom this pastor was writing!

      Then I read Barbara’s comment and calmed down a little. 🙂 I’m so glad it’s not you but feel so sorry for that poor woman. I hope she sees this superb message and sends it to him!

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh, no! Not me. I know neither the pastor nor the person to whom the pastor wrote. I was just writing tongue in cheek, first person like, what my reaction is to what he said. But thanks, Now Free! 🙂

        What he said really is cold and dehumanizing, isn’t it?

    • Wonderful BIT!

    • Anonymous

      B-i-t, I wish I could have written a letter like that. The sad thing is that your response is probably what pastors who have that viewpoint need to be inundated with, but will be not get because most victims are too overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious or just too busy with court/financial matters to write a letter like that.

      Every survivor needs a Barnabasintraining to write the brutally honest, courageous and sharp-shooting responses that we are too tired and fragile to write!

      • Yeah. I think everyone will join me in singing “For she’s a jolly good fellow … and so say all of us!” Hip hip hoooray!

    • Heather

      Brilliant!!!

  22. The friend of mine who has been physically abused by her husband over a long period of time is now seeking a divorce. My pastor is aware of this and has not counselled against it because the husband is clearly unrepentant and dangerous. I think this is really great on my pastor’s part.
    As for me, I am perceived as being in the wrong for pursuing a divorce because my husband is “only” physically abusive toward my son and not me. Basically, I don’t feel like I am believed, or that the leaders just really sympathize with my husband. But you know what? I have just about had enough. I let my husband back in the home and he is still the same, and worse. He is constantly lying to me. I can’t trust a darn thing that comes out of his mouth. I have no respect left for him other than a basic respect for human dignity. I feel like I am on my own. He was smoking around my son (he never smoked before!) when he knows darn well I am trying to dissuade my son from smoking. I can’t imagine what that felt like for my son to see this man who he thought he knew – this man who calls himself a Christian – suddenly pick up smoking out of the blue. My husband said he only did it when I left him, but I continue to smell it on him and find cigarette packages in his work van. He tells me they belong to his coworkers. I know better because my son and I both can smell it all over him.
    Now again tonight, I opened up his cell phone at the grocery store to get a list of ingredients for a recipe, and the webpage opened to a page he had opened in search of pornography. I said nothing because my young one was there, and I handed it to him, and then he quickly deleted his history and gave the phone back to me, saying the kids were playing with the phone. Once in the car I told him that I knew the kids didn’t type those specific words in the search menu, and then he blamed a coworker again, saying he left the phone in the van with the guy at one point today. I almost fell for it but then remembered that he has a passcode on the phone and nobody else knows it. When I told him this he fell silent and now he is pretending nothing happened at all.

    So here’s my dilemma: I stay married to him but am unable to have an intimate relationship with him for the protection of my children and I. (I have to keep boundaries to avoid becoming more emotionally involved than necessary so I can keep a clear head and make right decisions.) I also can’t force myself to be intimate with him anymore because I don’t trust him, he doesn’t respect me, and I feel raped every time I let him touch me. This is very damaging to my relationship with God (to feel like his sexual urges are more important than my psychological health). I tried this before and it just made me feel resentful.
    I feel like the sexual part of a relationship is built on trust and respect, and without those two things there can be no real intimacy. It’s almost like he should be able to reap the benefits of hard work in a relationship without ever having to actually work at it. And meanwhile, I get to be used and spent because I shouldn’t care about myself?
    Every time he indulges the lust of the flesh via porn, I am on my own because I can no longer go to the church, as I will get blamed for it for the lack of sexual intimacy.

    He has had an affair before. I have no trust left. I feel like I have no marriage left. So what am I hanging on to? What is the above pastor suggestion should be clung to for dear life? A sham? A lie? An illusion? He’s not even trying and I’ve had enough of being abandoned and betrayed. The funny thing is, it doesn’t even bother me too much anymore. I just shrugged it off and thought “oh well. I have nothing invested anymore anyway.” This is a marriage to be preserved?

    • Desley, you have described your situation very accurately, I think. You are in that awful place where if you decide to divorce you will cop it from the church as well as from your anti-husband. I feel for you! But others have gone this road before you, and we are here for you.

      Your pastor not supporting you because it is ‘only’ your son who is being physically abused and not you. How hypocritical and un-Christian! Hasn’t he read all the passaged in the Bible that talk about protecting not just children but unprotected women/widows. So it’s fine for a man to be physically abusing a child, so long as he is not physically abusing the child’s mother? What garbage!
      And it also seems he has that misconception about abuse where he think it only qualifies as abuse it it’s physical violence. Well he’s wrong. As we say so many times on this blog, abuse does not have to be physical violence to be classed as abuse. So many other things qualify as abuse. Sexual abuse – and your husband is doing that with his habitual use of porn, which is making you feel used and objectified, and puts the kids at risk of being exposed to porn, not to mention the additional likelihood that he may be having affairs or seeing prostitutes and may infect you with an STD. And the fact that he is lying all the time about his use of porn; that destroys all trust – if there was any trust left after the way he’s been mistreating yours son.
      And then there’s all the emotional abuse: I bet you’ve asked and told him hundreds of times not to abuse your son but he just ignores you and bulldozes over your requests. That’s emotional abuse. Big time.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Desley- I get it. There is no marriage there, is there? I mean, it is destroyed. You didn’t destroy it. All that’s left is the paperwork. I cannot imagine any form of intimacy being possible with a person that I hold in derision and distrust, and who has traumatized me. Crikeys! I don’t even want to go to someone like that’s house for dinner! I have found that learning that WE each have the right to choose which people we will have a relationship with, and which ones we choose not to, is extremely freeing. Yeah, what are you hanging onto? I sense that is the question for others, but not for you as you have already seen the answer. Thanks.

    • Jeff S

      Desley, this was very powerful. I will be praying for you- I’m sorry that you are where you are.

      And yes, I detect the not-so-subtle blame shifting about the smoking. He’s trying to blame you for it, but we all know he is the one who made that choice and continues to make it.

      I am sorry that your church is not supporting you- shame on them.

    • MeganC

      Oh, Desley. I woke up praying for you this morning. I understand where you are right now. Thank you for sharing with us — I feel honored to hear such precious details of your story. And, so many of us can relate so well. I understand the confusion that comes with wondering if my husband’s sexual needs are more important than my psychological well-being. It just isn’t true! You are so beautiful and valuable to God. He does not approve of the way you are being treated right now. I know it feels like you are living with the enemy. I am praying for you, dear friend. Big hugs. And please know — we are all here for you — to support you.

    • Desley- I struggled with this for a looong time also. It was terrible everytime I felt like I had to give in to him. I felt so dirty afterwards. Then the final straw came when I just knew that no matter what sin I was committing, I couldn’t do it anymore. He just knew I was done- I didn’t even have to say anything. He only approached me one more time after that and the answer was No!. Then about a year plus later I finally left him.All of my unearned guilt is finally gone!

    • Heather

      Desley, my heart aches for you. My ex had affairs. The way I found out was phone calls by the women’s husbands. Had that not happened I imagined I would not have known. But, by God’s grace I learned to forgive and go forward for many, many years. Unfortunately, those affairs were symptoms of a bigger problem, one that wouldn’t go away. And when it all rose to the surface I couldn’t take it anymore. A wise friend explained to me that my husband broke our covenant by his affairs. We no longer had a marriage. He did nothing to change. I absorbed it all. I presented a wonderful package to the family, the church, friends, etc. So when I had had enough and left it stunned everyone. The church wanted me to go to counseling with him so we could deal with our problems. There were many who wanted me to suck it up so that the world would see how Christians overcome problems and make the church a “good” example. But not one of them were concerned about me and what had happened to me over the years.

      You need to take this to God and commit to allowing Him lead and guide you. I pray that He brings others around you who will help you and love you. Just know that you mean everything to your Lord. He loves you and promises to be there no matter what, even when we make poor choices. He is our advocate, our counselor, our Savior. And I do know that one day, after He has kept all of our tears in a bottle, He will make all things right and perfect. Our wounds will heal and we will truly be free for eternity.

      God bless you, Desley.

    • Desley I think all the support that came before my comment are wonderful, I agree 100% with all of them. I have been where you are almost to the ‘T’ and in some parts I am still with you. It is a painful spot to be in. I am praying for you dear.

      • As I See It Only

        Desley, it sounds as though many of us have been exactly where you are. When I was in that pit, God came to me and asked me if I didn’t think it was about time to ‘bury the body’. I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked. He showed me the picture of the movie Psycho, when the main character has his dead mother propped up in the rocking chair, pretending she is alive. I was so convicted by my ruse of pretending that the marriage was alive. For me, it was a break-through moment of release–knowing that the body of a covenant marriage was dead and that it was time to bury it. May you too come to such a place of relief and release!

    • Now Free

      Desley, it sounds as if your marriage is dead. Is anything dead worth preserving? Maybe dried up and pickled hearts in a lab somewhere.

      I just looked up the word “preserve”. It means to maintain (something) in its original or existing state. Do you really want to preserve your marriage in its existing state? Maybe the original state was good, but it sure doesn’t sound like it is that way right now.

      • Now Free

        AISIO, I just noticed your post. Looks like we both had imagery in mind!

  23. It’s so sad to me that this just the kind of thing I expect to see. It’s a surprise when a pastor doesn’t say stuff like this 😦

    I didn’t get the “at all costs” speech, but I did get “reconciliation is always possible” one.

  24. A New Free Life

    The “Blessings on you” ending really made me sick to my stomach. I’ve heard that, too, so many times. I am repulsed by that term. He does not desire any blessing on her life, or he would not have written what he just wrote. It’s as though they think that little tag at the end of a heartless conversation somehow discounts their prideful, callous words and makes them sound kind? Baloney!

    • Heather

      It’s smug and prideful. Whom did Jesus have the harshest words for? The Pharisees. The very ones who thought they were above reproach. They were legalists who were placing burdens on the people which were too heavy for them. Jesus loathed their ways.

    • Barnabasintraining

      It’s as though they think that little tag at the end of a heartless conversation somehow discounts their prideful, callous words and makes them sound kind? Baloney!

      “Blessings on you” = “depart in peace, be warmed and filled.”

      • As I See It Only

        Here’s a little dig I have to admit I sometimes use with such high and mighty clueless folk–I sign off ‘Warmest Regards’–which, to my mind, has something to do with the fires of hell . . . .

  25. Wendell G

    I think that Cyril of Alexandria said it best in the 5th century, “It is not a writ of divorce that dissolves marriage before God, but bad actions.” Something so many pastors don’t want to acknowledge!

    • Jeff Crippen

      There is something far more evil than beating your wife. It is for her to go to the courthouse and file the divorce papers. Thus saith the theology of many, many churches nowadays.

      • Now Free

        “There is something far more evil than beating your wife. It is for her to go to the courthouse and file the divorce papers. Thus saith the theology of many, many churches nowadays.”

        And I say…AMEN!

    • Amen to that!

      • the amen comment is supposed to be for Wendell’s comment.

    • Heather

      Yes.

    • Barnabasintraining

      “It is not a writ of divorce that dissolves marriage before God, but bad actions.”

      There you go. Good on Cyril.

    • Anonymouse

      Thanks for sharing that quote. I like it. Reminds me of something a hotline counselor said in response to me when I said I want to leave (because of my husband’s verbal & emotional abuse), “But God hates divorce”. Her reply was, “God hates the things that lead to divorces.” So true. Never heard any Christian say anything similar until tonight.

      • Wendell G

        You are welcome Anon. I’ve been trying to research early church views on divorce recently (in hopes of submitting an article to the blog editors) and came across that quote. I had a heck of a time trying to verify it as it came from a text that has not been translated into English! I have not had Latin since high school and patristic Greek is way beyond me!

  26. As I See It Only

    I sense a theme that is growing. Just yesterday I ran across this and I wonder if it speaks to others as it does to me.
    This is from Rick Joyner’s February eJounral entitled ‘The Valley of Decision’

    Division in the church is necessary before true unity can come. When the tares (MT 13:24-30) are separated from the wheat, it likely will be the worst division Christianity has ever known [the counterfeits divided from the real Christians]. Who we aligned ourselves with [‘are bundled together with’] is who we are giving allegiance to. It is time to GET OUT of any group, club, political party, or CHURCH that is not fundamentally aligned with Christ. [my emphasis].

    • Jeff Crippen

      AISI- right on. And the trick is realizing that a group or church can have a very accurate to the letter doctrinal statement, yet be Pharisaical and devoid of the Spirit of Christ. I think that is why the Lord is putting this whole abuse thing in front of us. I keep saying, if you want to know sin, study abuse. Where abuse is tolerated and enabled, sin is tolerated and enabled and you have a group then that does not evidence the heart of Christ. Time to depart it.

      By the way, as the critics will probably point out to us if we speak of the tares and the wheat — better to speak of sheep and goats. I say this because in the parable, Jesus tells us that the field where the tares and wheat are growing together is the WORLD, not the church. We miss this because we fail to read on and hear Jesus’ interpretation of the parable. Check it out, especially vs 38 —

      Matthew 13:24-42 ESV
      (24) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
      (25) but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
      (26) So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
      (27) And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
      (28) He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
      (29) But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
      (30) Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
      (31) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
      (32) It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
      (33) He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
      (34) All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
      (35) This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
      (36) Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
      (37) He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
      (38) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
      (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
      (40) Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
      (41) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
      (42) and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

      In other words, the church is not to carry on some kind of inquisition in the world and kill off everyone that are deemed to be tares!

      • As I See It Only

        You are correct, Jeff. It is the Son of Man that does the inquisition, not us. Those of us who bewail being tossed out of a church should perhaps stop and praise God for delivering us from this wrath that is coming, for we do not belong in a that herd of goats.

      • Wendell G

        ” I say this because in the parable, Jesus tells us that the field where the tares and wheat are growing together is the WORLD, not the church.”

        The unfortunate thing is that it is harder and harder to distinguish the church from the world. The world has so invaded our churches, which is why abuse is so easily tolerated in the church. We confuse success in worldly matters with potential success in the church, when they are two different things.

        What I mean by this is that we are so blinded by someone who has an air of authority, runs a successful business, has a lot of theological knowledge, and tithes large amounts that we immediately elevate them to positions of authority in the church (at least in our minds). Unfortunately, many of these things are often matters of pride rather than true humility from a servant’s heart. I’m not saying that someone who is successful in these areas will necessarily be disqualified from positions of leadership in churches, but that we too often confuse these things with true spirituality, thus the world has one more avenue to change the church rather than the other way around.

        I agree with Jeff’s interpretation of this passage and also get something else from it. If we want to tell the true fruit of a person, don’t look for it in the church. Look for it in how they act in the world. It is so easy to put on a wheat disguise in the church, but you can’t keep it up long in the world. That is why pastors need to take the allegations of abuse more seriously as they can be fooled by seeing someone on Sundays. The spouse sees the abuser after the mask is taken off for “church” things.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Wendell – You’ve got yourself a great sermon here! This is excellent. And sadly, it is true. Someone has said, The Church, like a ship, floats in the water of the world. The ship is in the water, but the water must never get into the ship, or all is lost.”

  27. Jeff Crippen

    This is a comment that was posted over on Mark Brown’s FB page in response to this same article. Thanks for re-posting it over there Mark –

    If a husband is abusing his wife he is attacking the temple of the Lord. If a criminal came and destroyed a church would the Pastor say “Do not cart him off to jail, I must live with him, right here in this destroyed church, no matter what.” FAT CHANCE!!

    Marriage is a covenant. When the covenant is broken then it is no longer valid. The marriage vows are not a license to sin. The vows for better or for worse do not mean that a spouse can now pursue worse. This vow means that if the very worst thing happens to you, like a tsunami, then you should love one another through it. Ir does not mean that if your spouse is purposefully destructive that you should endure them.

    The vow for richer or for poorer means that during these times of economic failure we should stick together. These things are out of our personal control. It does not mean we have to put up with a bank robber spouse or one who burns money in the yard.

    In sickness and in health means that we support one another when illness comes upon us out of our control. It does not mean that a spouse may now seek out every addictive substance, contract sexually transmitted diseases or smoke until their lungs collapse.

    In good times and in bad means that if a deer hits your car three different times in a year on different roads you stick it out. It does not mean that your spouse can set the living room on fire because they are angry. Or sad. Or bored. They cannot do something maliscious.

    The vows are not a means for criminal behavior. They are not a pass to be hatefull and mean and destructive.

    Got it?

    • Jeff S

      Standing up and cheering for this one!

    • K

      This is excellent!

  28. bright sunshinin' day

    A merry heart does good like medicine! Barnabusintraining, you described how many of us feel – roadkill! I’d like to see a joke book written which does just what BIT’s comment did – expose the false teaching with great humor! If any of you have more good humor medicine that exposes false teaching, those who add to Scripture, or those who are wearing the “church mask” as Wendell said, please send it!

    The “fog” that many of us have lived in for so long can be lifted by the TRUTH which sets us free! Listen to this oldie but goldie song that says how I’m feeling these days (in great part to ACFJ and Haven for Broken Wings blogs):

    • Barnabasintraining

      Happy to be of service, Bright Sunshinin’ Day. 🙂

    • I don’t know what’s happened to Memphis Rayne, and am worried about her. She used to inject a lot of humour into the blog, but she’s been silent recently. If she surfaces again, maybe she and BIT can collaborate to produces a book like that.

      In the meantime, please pray for her and her kids safety.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Memphis and Ida Mae should do it. Could you imagine the two of them together? 🙂 That would be hilarious!

        I’ve been worried about Memphis too. I hope she’s OK.

      • I was thinking that earlier too Barbara. I hope she is ok.

      • I’ve been lying low for (ultimately) good reasons, so perhaps she is too? During this journey, sometimes we have to keep a low profile for awhile.

        Looking forward to coming back with a vengeance. . . we could poke her with sticks and maybe she’ll surface.

      • We’ve emailed Memphis. Trusting you all to pray.

        and nice to hear from you Ida Mae. 🙂

  29. Now Free

    BrightSunDay,

    About 2 months ago in a post I had written here, I replied to Barbara that I can see clearly now, and mentioned that it reminded me of this very song!

    I also believe that a merry heart is like a medicine to the soul and the body. Last week I found out that my husband is taking me to court, so I’ve been busty with preparations. I thought of taking a break and played this song that I had on my mind for a long time, then sort of forgot. It made my day!

    Thank you! 🙂

  30. bright sunshinin' day

    Now Free,
    If you’d like to share, I’d like to hear what YOU CAN SEE clearly now.
    If God is for us, who can be against us? May He show Himself mighty on your behalf in court!

    • Now Free

      Brightsun,

      What I CAN see clearly now…
      That my marriage wasn’t the happiest marriage in the world,
      that he wasn’t a wonderful husband,
      that I wasn’t the happiest wife ever,
      that he didn’t ever love me,
      that he really did treat me abusively,
      that he was the cruelest person I have ever known,
      that God really didn’t want me to stay in the marriage.

      And God did show me the way and made me strong enough to leave him. I can also see clearly that I stayed too long!

  31. Anonymouse

    This is so heartbreaking and infuriating! My mother’s husband threatened to kill her in a very cold chilling manner before rolling over to go to sleep one night. When she went to her pastor for help he couldn’t tell who was telling the truth because of course the abuser denied ever saying that. She had been an active member of that church for at least a decade at the time, long before her husband ever started attending. Just saying, the pastor knew her – why would he think she might be lying? He said something similiar to me about her marriage in a phone call a year ago. I can’t believe he felt okay saying that to me! I was so upset, but I tried to very gently educate him about how my Mom was not lying or crazy and that abused women usually cover up the abuse and protect their husbands, that it takes immense courage for them to come forward. Crazymaking. The funny thing is, this pastor does not take a hardline stance against divorce (my Mom had a stronger conscience than he regarding divorce)- he said to me that they were so different they never had any business getting together or something like that. He was never against her separating, but he wouldn’t counsel them or support my mother because it was a “he said/she said” situation. So strange, to be lax about divorce but negligent about abuse. This is a nice man, well educated, I believe he wants to be a godly and good pastor. How can he be so ignorant and unkind about abuse??? My Mom’s life was in danger! She did leave her abuser, but always felt like a second class citizen at church. She stayed there though. One man said to her that she couldn’t be part of the lay counseling ministry that she felt called to until she got her own life straightened out. Can you believe it? That hurt her for years. She had been serving ther for years, was well liked, had a good reputation. Crazy!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon – “This is a nice man, well educated.” I don’t like nice men. Our churches and pulpits are full of “nice men.” Nice men don’t take stands. Nice men are always balancing on the fence and refuse to do anything that might cost them or cause some “unpleasantness.” In other words, nice men are not nice, especially when they are pastors. Nice men inevitably come down on the side of the abuser because in order to give our vote to evil we need only do — nothing.

    • Heather No. 2

      Nice guys….that is what is said about my ex. But, nice guys are afraid to take stands, to be be confrontational, unpopular, or the bad parent. They are quick to lend a helping hand to outsiders. Their personas are one those who smile and are upbeat. They never want to appear anything but a nice guy. And they seldom let their masks drop lest they are seen in the light of truth.

      I remember during one counseling session I got upset and told him to stop being a nice guy for once and take a stand. His reply was, “I AM a nice guy!” But he was an adulterer, a liar, and taught our children by his lack of respect for me that I was nothing more than another one of the children in our family. He was unable to emotionally attach and certainly chose not to be the godly husband.

      But, in the end, the “nice guy” still hands out bulletins at the church on Sunday, still goes to his small group. He is accepted and embraced by a church which does not want to rock the boat.

      Nice guys…..you can keep them!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Heather2 – and if a “church” accepts and receives such a person, validating him as a Christian, how can that church be truly Christ’s? The boat they don’t want rocked is their own. As for YOUR boat, well, it can sink as far as they are concerned. And that is reality. It isn’t pretty, but it sure helps abuse victims to see it for what it is and be enabled to heal.

    • Heather No. 2

      Boy Jeff, have you got that right! It’s the sad truth. My eyes were opened and I could never go back there again. I am finding that the true Church is a very small group of individuals scattered here and there. Finding them isn’t always easy, but I continue to trust in the Lord with my past, present, and future.

      For a couple of years I felt so alone in the Church. I read blogs and forums for victims but I had not found any that related to born again believers. Now that I have found all of you I have been refreshed. God has not left us alone. We have hope.

      I grieve daily for what so many are going through, and I pray for their protection, peace, and ability to live fully in this dark world.

  32. Now Free, thank you for sharing what you SEE now. I imagine many of us could have signed our name to your list.

    Heather2, Anon and JC: Good discussion. Facing reality can be scary, but I’m learning that there is safety and freedom in the truth. So true that it takes little effort to side with an abuser. And by siding, evil triumphs. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing (Edmund Burke). And I hear what you are saying, JC: one is NOT good if he refuses to hold to the truth or refuses to help the weak and needy with the truth. One is good not just because he avoids evil, but because he is working to be and do good and to oppose evil.

    Those who are fighting to defend the “weak and sick” remind me of Joseph. In Ps 105:17 reads, “He sent a man before them – Joseph – who was sold as a slave…” The passage continues, “…the word of the Lord tested him [Joseph]…the ruler of the people let him go free…” And one thing Joseph did with his freedom was “…teach his elders wisdom.” That is one reason JC (and Anna) wrote the book, ACFJ: to teach/awaken the elders and shepherds! But if they refuse to listen, woe to them (Ezek 34).

    And they need to be taught just as I need to be taught. What exactly are we hearing in the pulpit, counsel rooms, and from husbands (who are like their teachers) these days in this area of marriage and home life? Sadly a bunch of lies mixed with truth which is one of the most dangerous concoctions…(the Enemy appears as an angel of light). The absence of truth can be deadly (i.e. JC recently mentioned Katherina Allen). Not only physical death (like the threats mentioned above of killing one’s spouse – for pete’s sake!), but spiritual, emotional, mental, etc, death. When the homes are filled with this dangerous concoction – they are TOXIC. No wonder children are leaving the homes/church without faith in droves…Who would want ANYTHING to do with Christ or His church if the picture of marriage is so ugly and the “shepherds” are siding with abusers?

    And to be held captive “in the name of Jesus” under abusive headship (both in church and home) is nothing short of spiritual, physical, emotional, mental SLAVERY. Yes, slavery is alive and well today! And the slave holders? Many pastors, elders, counselors and husbands. And the “chains” which hold victims in captivity? Misinterpretation of God’s Word delivered as truth. It takes little effort to side with Biblical misinterpretation, but great effort to study and handle His Word correctly and COURAGE to do what it says (which will be the narrow road less traveled!)

    Speaking of Biblical interpretation, I’d like to hear more on Eph 5:21 and 1 Peter 3, esp verse 1 since this is the verse so often thrown at the victim as her marching orders to be carried out at home: “…if some do not obey the word, they [the husbands], without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives…” We know the rules for correct interpretation of Scripture – context, context, context. What is the context of 1 Peter 3? As a commenter recently said on another post, isn’t this passage talking to wives married to non-Christians? The RSB note for 3:1 says that Peter is encouraging these women not to rely on argument, but with gentle responsiveness, recommend the gospel to the non-believer. But, the note goes on to say, “the enduring principle involved in this statement is not silence (vs 15), but a sensitivity to the concerns of the unbelieving husband so that the gospel may be presented in the best light.” Vs 15 speaks of being ready “…to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…”

    Why is this Peter passage recommended to wives married to abusive husbands? One could argue that abusers are not Christians, so it is recommended to wives in an effort to save the husband. But, comparing Scripture with Scripture, it doesn’t make sense to me to recommend to the wives of abusers to “win them over without a word.” It contradicts the very character of God. The God I know says He will SMASH the oppressor and all of a sudden, he is gone (Ps 37). The God I know LAUGHS at the oppressor (Ps 2) knowing what is coming for him. The God I know sent His Son to dwell with us (literally “pitch His tent”) to carry our burdens and provide FREEDOM from SLAVERY (Gal 5:1) due to our own sins and the sins of others. Why would he aid and abet abusers by doing/saying nothing?

    Isn’t misinterpretation of Scripture and taking advantage of women an old tactic? Nothing new under the sun. Didn’t the enemy come to Eve in the garden and twist God’s words [yes, he used God’s very Words, but twisted them] and deceive her? And Adam who saw the abuse [he was with her] and did NOTHING to defend, protect, or guard his turf or wife. So why are we so dumb to keep doing the same things which is not opposing evil?

    All through history, we see tyrants (i.e. Hitler) reign and rule using the same tactics. Twisting words and intimidating their subjects with threats and commanding SILENCE. May God help us to speak the truth in love, but to speak it no matter the cost.

    • Wendell G

      Hey Bright! What a lovely moniker!

      I think your last statement about speaking the truth in love addresses some of the recent comments about pastors being nice guys. Think about the word, “love” for a moment. It usually has a positive, ushy-gushy, emotional connotation and so many Christians think that to speak in love is to not show any negative emotions. Any criticism, whether warranted or not is not love in their minds.

      I hear so many Christians tell me when I am speaking out against the evils of abortion (for example) that I am not showing love. When confronting false teaching by calling it what it is, I have had “Christians” tell me I am not speaking in love. Next to the ubiquitous, “Judge not lest ye be judged” misuse, this accusation of lacking in love is probably the one I hear most now.

      Oh what a warped view we have of the whole subject. I guess that Jesus wasn’t acting in love when he cast the money changers out, or called the pharisees hypocrites. I guess Paul wasn’t acting in love when he came out against those who were undermining his ministry or when he told the Corinthians to cast out the immoral church member. How about when he wrote that anyone who preaches a different gospel is to be shunned? I guess Peter was not speaking in love when he confronted Ananias and Sapphira about lying to God. I could go on, but I think the point has been made.

      I think that where we get it wrong on the misuse of this concept is that speaking the truth in love is about our motivations, not necessarily the words we use (though those can be indicative of our motivations). Yes, lovingly correcting someone can be gentle, but in some cases, it must be more forceful and passionate and dare I say, negative? In either case, our motivation for saying or doing what we do must be out of the love motive; love for God, love for the other person, etc. It shouldn’t be out of revenge or with the design to hurt someone.

      Too many pastors cater to that side of the church that says that everything out of his mouth must be ooey-gooey and positive. Being a true shepherd must always entail calling sin a sin when it is necessary, not with an eye toward vengeance, but with a loving desire to see repentance and restoration.

      In my mind, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is verbally smack someone upside the head (my southern roots are showing) if that is what it will take to get them to listen and change! Sometimes it even has to be a whole congregation, though the pastor better be willing to lose his position if he has to do that! Sometimes you just can’t be nice about it!

      Ok, I will get off my rant box now!

    • Bright sunshin’ — we are putting together another post to deal with 1 Peter 3:1 which we hope to publish soon, so I won’t respond to your discussion of 1 Peter here, except to say that you might like to check out this post Jeff C wrote a while back
      Obeying the Abuser: Insights from Abraham and Sarah

      I know the blog is pumping with fantastic comments at the moment and many of you are firing on all cylinders. . .but can everyone please refrain from in-depth discussion about 1 Peter 3:1 until we put that post out? Thanks.

      And no offence meant, Bright Sunshin’ Day, you write really well and we appreciate your insights, but we just want to try to keep each thread more or less on topic, so we’re flagging that the topic of 1 Peter 3:1 will be coming up soon. Whoo hoo!

  33. bright sunshinin' day

    Thank, Barb. I opened the link your provided above and made a copy to read later. I look forward to the upcoming post on 1 Peter 3 and am so thankful for the body of believers on ACFJ sharing their time, stories and insights. Really helps to know we are in this together!

    And, as a new commenter, I’m learning the ropes with your help. 🙂

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