Untouchable Scriptures, part 2.

[September 17, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Not long ago, we published a post by Megan C (Meg) called Untouchable Scriptures. This is a sequel to Meg’s post.

Many ‘C’hristian abusers use Scriptures to justify their abusiveness. They wickedly distort and put ‘spin’ on Scriptures to coercively control and control their victims, and this often taints particular verses for survivors so badly that many of us feel like we are being knifed in the brain when we hear or read certain verses.

We know this is a common phenomenon for our readers. Particular Scriptures have been so misused that some of us can barely even think about them without being triggered into horrible memories and emotions.

One of our readers, Caleigh, wrote in an article called Quiet Times at her blog Profligate Truth:

….You might say that studying the Bible still makes me skittish. Explaining what the purpose of the Bible is, or what I believe to be God’s purpose with the Bible isn’t something I can do quiet [sic] yet. Questions about studying the Bible, correct interpretations, and things such as that, are difficult for me because I still hear hypocrisy ringing in my ears.  [Emphasis added.]

Another way Scriptures can be painful and triggering is if the victim herself interprets certain verses in a stern, iron-jawed, frowning way, a way that seems to set her behind prison bars, locked forever in a cage with her abuser tormenter. That’s how it happened for me: my abuser did not use Scripture to abuse me very much, but I certainly had the devil’s interpretations of certain verses reigning in my head, wielding knives in my conscience whenever I tried to puzzle my way out of the labyrinth.

We’d like this post to be a place where you can share your experiences of this phenomenon. It doesn’t matter if we end up covering ground we’ve already covered on this blog. This is a way of chewing over the old leather from a new perspective.

For me, two of the most painful Scriptures were:

1 Cor 7:4  (I won’t repeat it here in case it is too triggering for readers.) — I felt I had to allow him sex whenever he wanted it and if I said “no” I was disobeying God. The result was that I felt like a prostitute, giving sex just to satisfy him and obey the Bible, while feeling no sexual desire, just a total emptiness and desolation.

1 Peter 3:6 in the King James:

Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

I thought that if I became afraid — allowed my fear to rise to the surface and boil in the front of my mind — I was no longer a daughter of Sarah and was therefore outside God’s will.

For a friend of mine, one of her biggies was:

Luke 9:62  (NIV)

  ….”No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

—She thought that meant she could not leave the marriage.

So, would you like to tell us: What are your ‘untouchable Scriptures’? And why?

[September 17, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 17, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 17, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

What Does “Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs” Mean?

Thursday Thought — Does Love keep a Record of Abuse?

Healing traumatic memories — and common misunderstandings about this.

116 thoughts on “Untouchable Scriptures, part 2.”

  1. ‘Her desire will be for her husband, and her husband shall rule over her”. Because of the way it was mangled and misapplied to mean the woman is out to control her man and he should rule over her to keep this from happening.. I have always been thought of as a controlling wife- I see now that the STBE manipulated me and every situation to make it look that way.

    1. Yes — I had that one, as well, Pamplamousse. 😦 Poor theology from a twisted Scripture. Anytime I disagreed or put my foot down or refused to do something that was contrary to health in relationships, this verse was used to show me how I “desire to control”. How ugly. 😦

      1. Yes Megan, and always used as a way to illustrate how women are naturally more sinful somehow, than men and have to be watched and controlled so they don’t get out of hand.

      2. Oh? Jodi? You just remind me now I understand….my MIW was obsessed with telling me that “Eve after all was the reason sin began, SHE caused it” Wow that is really true, the underlying tone is that women are more sinful by nature? How Bizzare? Then when you look at that thinking, its the same as today, the man is off the hook for ….adultery, pornography etc because he is weak in nature (no accountability) haha just like the MIW telling me I caused my own labor pains haha (cannot stop laughing) I shouldnt get an epideral because then I was not accepting what I had done back in day (the garden) I remember thinking well yes Eve did it???? But where was Adam?? Was He looking out for her? Did he drop the ball? What was he in charge of?..Wouldnt he take a freakin Advil if he needed it!!??!!……and why is the Scarlet Letter so popular in church society today, its like you dont even have to earn it? They just slap it on you if you are not perfect, or you speak up, or you dont submit to what they say in every way??? Wow was the MIW a complete and udder looney bird.

      3. Anytime I disagreed or put my foot down or refused to do something that was contrary to health in relationships, this verse was used to show me how I “desire to control”.

        Oh, how frustrating. 😦

      4. Memphis- Didn’t you know? The reason Eve’s fall was so great, was because she came out from under Adam’s headship. You know he was prolly standing there saying “now, don’t you do it Eve, don’t you do it” but rebellious Eve, the control freak-just had to have it her way!

      5. Now that would really be ironic. Stand there and tell Eve not to eat it, and when she did, to say, “Oh to heck with it”, and eat it himself. The first hypocrite!

    2. My ex used this to mean that I would develop a sexual interest in him. So I sat there believing it because he went to a school to become a pastor. I desperstely wanted it to be true so that I could right the mistake of marrying him. It never happened, and I was forced to be intimate with a man I found repugnant.

  2. 1 Corinthians 13:8 ” love never fails…”

    I believed that I had to continue to love, to forgive, to cover offences. Sadly, it was all one sided now that I look back with greater clarity and understanding. My greatest sadness was the continuous crying out to God, ” why couldn’t ( my ex) love me? What was wrong with me?”

    I’ve learned that so much of my Christian teaching is not of God. And now I am relearning…

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Yes- along with “[love] endures all things”.

      I was told that I did not love my ex with agape love because if I had, it wouldn’t have failed. That just drove me into depression because I had done the best I could, and of course when you say THAT people say “that’s your problem- YOU’VE been trying instead of letting God work”. OK, so I can’t do it and God hasn’t. Where does that leave me? Oh yeah, forgotten and unloved by a god who has expectations of me I can’t possibly fulfill. I decided I did not belong to that god after all. But fortunately I also decided (after a dark time) that god was not the real God.

      1. That’s exactly where I am right now. It’s a cold dark place where the same questions echo of the walls day after day. Are you real God? Are you there? Do you remember I’m here? Am I real? Does any of this matter to you or anyone?

      2. Anne, I am so sorry you are in that place. Many of us have been there and it is dark indeed. This is the result of people distorting the true image of God to us.

        I’m working on a post describing how I got out of that place – maybe it will help. The short version is I dared to believe that God loved me and wanted good things for me, and he was not pleased with my suffering. It was a step of faith, but God confirmed it over and over again.

        In the meantime, maybe this post can encourage you?

        You Are Lovable

    2. You cannot love, unless you have been loved by Christ, ie saved! This Scripture is still being used against me, but the truth is, that only Christ’s love never fails us, but the rest of us can always fail in our love. I think it was important for me to see that you cannot talk about love that way unless you are dealing with people who have been loved by God, because that is the only way we are truly able to love others, is if we have been loved by God first and have His love in us, to give to others. When I came to see that, it helped me realize that God was not commanding me to stay in abuse, because “love endures” and “love never fails”. My love did not fail, it is what kept me in the abuse for so long. I was also trying to perform all the things that I had been told God wanted me to do, to save the marriage, because, well, you know – God loves marriage, more than the people in the marriage – or at least that is what a lot of people believe. Someone who has not been loved (saved) by God, cannot truly love anyone else, the way God intends love to be. I believe in the Creator-Redeemer distinction, that being that His love is different for His creation, than for His Redeemed.

      1. And part of love is calling wrong, wrong. Not letting evil continue. God is love and He gets angry and calls out what is sin for destruction. People die…they do. God is love and a loving God condemned evil, idol worshipping people to death( Exodus 12). My ex-ididot worshiped himself and thought he was entitled to worship, how is he better than the Egyptians?

  3. Ephesians 5. I still can’t read it. Even though it’s been explained to me over and over, I can’t accept it because it feels so ugly and evil. “He has the final say in all decisions” – makes me want to vomit. Personally I don’t think that the man having the “final say in all decisions” is really what being the “head” means. But that is the way the church teaches.
    Of course, I come from a marriage where his career, moving to other states, taking out big bank loans, etc – were all decisions that he got to make. And he was absolutely vicious to me if I didn’t fall in line with perfect submission. Half the time I wasn’t worthy of even consulting so I found out about one particular bank loan accidentally.

    It’s probably why I still won’t go on a date. :/ Because inside I reason that if I stay single forever, I’ll never be subject to man’s control. The thought of being under that yoke again literally makes me want to die.

    1. Katy dear, Ephesians 5 does not say that “he has the final say in all decisions”. That is a falsehood someone has told you. Also, where the Bible does say, “the head of a wife is her husband” (1 Cor. 11:2-3), it is also not implying that he gets complete control, dominion and a domain of tyranny and/or abuse in the home. It is not a self-centered exercise of power, but leadership like God and Christ. One loving and leading tenderly, taking care to serve the other person’s spiritual, physical and emotional needs and well-being. But, in all of this, there is equality, just as God and Christ are equal. I am so sorry for all the abuse you have suffered. You were probably not really married to a Christian man. There are lots of us here like that.

      There are good Christian men on this blog and I am thankful for their examples, so that we women who have been so abused and left holding those wounds and confusion, can have an opportunity to see what real Christian husbands would and should look like. I am also very, very thankful for my new Church, that has given great examples of husbands who love their wives. Maybe that would be a good place to start. Just find a Church where the love of God reigns and watch some of those married couples. You will always find those you cannot follow, but look for the good ones you can follow. It is healing.

    2. I always clung to what I knew, which was not much but I did know that I was an equal heir to the kingdom of god, wether it was warped unde mans idea of what they called a marriage covenant, or not? In the end, God showed ME the truth, and the rest can just go down with the ship, or mudslide….I agree with you Katy, I am amazed and so happy for all the people here that have remarried, reported a great relationship etc. I honestly cannot imagine that for myself? Nor have I in the last 8yrs even thought about it. A date? sounds completely nauseating? I would never trust anyone anyways, so I never saw the point in that? I never accept help from men because they always expect something from me in return, and that is revolting to me…not to mention dissapointing. I would like to think I am not destin to be alone, but at the same time I do not feel any void because of it, only freedom!! Oh my gosh!! I could just imagine the old church reading or hearing me say such lawless things!!! I went out a few times with my kids to dinner just as friends and within five or ten minutes I am so wanting to barf over the lame stuff that comes out of these guys mouths, I cannot fake it, or pretend I dont hear it, I have zero tolerance….but I never waste a good breath on them, I have once or twice slipped my kids a note “meet me in the bathroom” and climbed out a couple windows when I no longer wanted to be in the presence of who we met for dinner….that would sum up my two slight attempts to be social and both complete insane disasters….oh well, got some good stories for the day I have grandchildren……a few months ago a lady we know from the dog park ask me in front of her husband “”Memphis dont you ever get lonely? Dont you ever want the company of a man?”(she is like my moms age range, the generation that has NEVER been alone for the most part) I thought first “What does she care?” then I am like ” Darn I am uncomfortable””
      then I broke into a full blown sweat, cuz she is like staring and waiting for an answer from me. So I just sorta laughed, then said “No i am not lonely I have a family, and I could have a MAN (as she put it) if that is what I wanted in my life right now…..but thank you sooo much for your concern about my social life????”” Then I almost said “”WHY?”” do you know any nice non abusive trustworthy pleasant men without some sort of hidden agenda?Oh and would not mind three kids, three cats, a dog and an occasional stalking from the MIW???” Obviously I could not date even if I wanted to without putting somebody else in danger, mostly just knew it would be a death sentence for myself….. soooo not to sound like a man hater, that is quite the opposite, its just not going to come easy for me as the end result of years of being abused by the MIW. Plus when you factor in the amount of abusers that are out there, and how manipulative they are, its pretty normal i think to want to not go through all that again.

    3. I think we all get that. We were REALLY married, but not to a true believer. I love the optimism of Anon. I do not share it, only because the Churches mentality in regards to abuse and marriage, would make it very difficult to find a true believer in a church setting, because as we all know the church today is a breeding ground for abusers, and those who share in that same mentality…. I would think Katy you would have better odds climbing mount Everest. or rafting the Grand Canyon…..hahaha Seriously though, what you see at church as we all know does not represent what happens at home, in more cases than people want to admit, I honestly would look at my Grandparents as an example over anyone else, because I KNOW them, saw them with each other, lived with them in their home growing up…….Not that you are actually looking Katy!! Just sayin from the perspective I think we may share, the thought of going to church to see an example of a Godly marriage is completely off my radar. Not saying they are not out there? But honestly that has been done, looking to the Godly marriages around me at church, heck? some people looked at my marriage as the Godly marriage,…..one day a week, in such a close minded setting, it would be really difficult to tell the fakers from the believers….they all look and act the same.

      1. Memphis –
        it’s okay. I am right there with you. Once in a while I ponder the idea that I’m going to spend the rest of my life totally ALONE and it sounds a bit scary…but then when I ponder the alternative the fear is FAR FAR GREATER.
        So I get it.
        I do believe singleness is a gift, but I’m trying to get to the place where I’m single because I choose it freely, not because I’m terrified of men. You know? I don’t want to make my major life choices out of blind terror. I want to make them out of strength. So there’s the rub!!

        and yes — I don’t look for godly marriages at church either. Because I only see those people once a week. it means nothing to me. I get that too. ((hugs))

      2. We can be fooled wherever we go, as to who is being abused and who is not, or who is an abuser and who is not. Actually, I well know what it is to hide abuse, so how would you ever know sometimes, unless the woman actually says something? I agree, that it takes time to get to know people, so as to know and be able to see the truth. I am not ready to say that all Churches are breeding grounds for abuse. I believe that the patriarch movement is a huge breeding ground for abuse (which btw Katy, is a place you will hear the non-biblical term “headship” used a lot) as well as Churches who hold to a permanence view, with no exceptions and who violate the biblical grounds allowed for divorce, which are acknowledged here at ACFJ as abuse, abandonment and sexual immorality.

        I am sorry and apologize that my note seemed to cause an offense or trigger for you, Memphis and Katy. That was absolutely not my intention, I was only trying to help and be an encouragement to you.

    4. That’s what my pastor told me in pre-marital counseling. That Ephesians 5 means that if my husband and I disagree about anything, in the end my husband had the final say and I have to submit.
      (incidentally I’ve been told that the word “headship” is nowhere in that chapter either, if someone can confirm that for me without me needing to read it myself that would be great) I seriously start breathing funny like I’m going to have a panic attack when I get near it. 😦

      1. I cannot speak for Katy Anon, but I’m good. Nothing you wrote seemed offensive or triggering for me….but your right its easy to “Not” see who is being abused unless it is brought out. Unfortunately most evangelical settings are not the safe place we thought they were, and definitely the number one place victims who do say “Hey!! This is not right I am being tortured by my spouse”” well, this would be the place they experience secondary abuse by the people they trusted to stand with them and protect them. Of course I cannot speak for all churches, but I can say I was a part of one of the largest fellowships, and dealt with all their little off shoots along the west coast of the U.S. Also I am only speaking on my experience of what I saw, what I endured without knowing at the time so many others were facing the exact same thing….because victims are ignored, shunned, shamed, called lairs and abused by church pastors, elders, counselors. But hey, that’s why this blog is here, right? So I really did mean that I found your optimism refreshing, also that you were very caring and encouraging :)…..I just can be bit of a smarty pants, and quite frankly I have a weird sense of humor, in case nobody noticed = )

      2. Actually, Katy, the word ‘headship’ does not occur anywhere in the Bible. The bible uses the word ‘head’. The word ‘headship’ has been invented by Christians. Inventing words for doctrines is not wrong per se (the word Trinity does not occur in the Bible but we all agree it’s a very useful word to describe that concept of God being Three in One), but I have heard some people (egalitarians) argue that the word ‘headship’ is best not used, because it is not in the Bible and its meaning in Christendom is so hotly disputed. With that in mind, I sometimes use the phase ‘husband as head’ to avoid using the word ‘headship’. You will notice that in our tags on this blog we use ‘husband as head’ rather than ‘headship’.

  4. A big one in my neck of the woods has become “and forgive us our transgressions (debts) as we forgive our transgressors.” And if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven. The qualifier of “if he repents” is not mentioned so you can imagine the havoc that is wrought. 😦

    That plus folding reconciling into forgiveness. Major problem around here these days.

    The antidote, though, is God’s rebuke that says “you have healed the hurt of My people slightly saying, ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”

    1. Yes, I heard that one from a church woman. She assumed without any background information that I was unforgiving, which was not true. She told me that if I didn’t forgive my husband that God wouldn’t forgive me……She meddled and her comments to me were more abuse! As I said earlier, I am relearning to undo all of what is false and not of God.

    2. I was reflecting on the tight rope of idiocy…lol We all are SINNERS, that alone let the MIW off the hook.. especially in his own mind, “God says SHE is a sinner too”
      Many Pasotors had the attitude, patronizing me as if I did not understand this? “Now now, settle down, we all have sin, and sin is equal in Gods eyes, so lets not be harsh and judge the murderer, because he is also sensitive about his own sin”…..what they did not see was the truth that this person did not believe HE had sinned, and only played both sides of the street for pitty. The rest of the time in the mind of the MIW EVE caused ALL the problems in the entire universe.

  5. When you say from the pulpit “Submission to those with evil intent has a way of activating their conscience” and “Love to your enemy is the most effective way to change their behaviour,” You are essentially saying that when someone acts with evil intent you are responsible because you have not loved them enough or if you continue trying harder to love them eventually they will change. 

    This is part of an email in which I confronted my pastor on his turn the other cheek sermon. I am so distressed by it and by his bland response to what I said. Any tips for how to let it go? I fully realize this might be a bit off topic but I can’t seem to get a grip on it and I know others in this community have dealt with this same problem. I feel like walking away is like abandoning all those who are sitting in that church suffering.

    1. AJ, I am like you. In many churches I’ve been in I’ve struggled with the ethical dilemma of “Do I just rebuke the pastor/elder privately and then walk away if they don’t heed me, or do I tell the church about the evil or wrong doctrine that is covertly residing in the leadership?” Historically I have tended to plump for the latter choice, and have gotten a bit of a reputation in certain circles as a result.

      But these days (and especially since I joined this blog) I chose to devote most of my energy to speaking to those who will listen. Occasionally I try to address those who won’t listen, but I don’t waste too much of my time on that.

      However, if you are thinking of certain people in your church who you know are suffering because of the distorted doctrine of submission and love that is being preached from the pulpit, you might be able to speak to them individually. Depending on how ready they are to engage in the discussion, you might like to point them (say) to a post on this blog about submission that they can check out if they wish. Maybe after attempting a polite, non-coercive, concerned, gentle initiative like that, you might then leave with a clear conscience. What they do with the suggestions you’ve given them, is up to them.

      1. Thanks everyone, very helpful. I can remember when I didn’t know about ACFJ and how confused and lost I felt. So thankful for all of you.

    2. AJ – Don’t let “it” go (the issue). Let him go (as your pastor). I mean, why keep letting these guys traumatize us? Would he turn his other cheek if you kicked….uh, slapped him in one? Speaking strictly metaphorically of course:)

    3. Seems we have a really warped definition of “love” in the church today. All this talk of erotic, brotherly and “agape” love misses the real point of the purpose of God’s love. It is to draw men to God, but sometimes “love” is not a positive feeling, but is a rough, hard process by which we are forced to confront the sin in our lives. It seems that it is often just as “loving” to call an abuser out, or leave him/her as it is to become this meek and mild doormat. In fact, I think it is often more “loving” to do that.

      I submit that it was out of “love” that Jesus called the pharisees hypocrites. It was out of “love” that he drove the money changers out of the temple. It was out of “love” that Paul told the Corinthians to expel the sexually immoral person from their midst. Those were examples of “love”, just as much as when Jesus saved the adulterous woman caught in adultery and when he spoke with the woman at the well, exposing her adulterous life.

      We have such a limited concept of how “love” manifests itself.

      1. Wendell- Another good point might be to say- “love for whom?” Was it love for the moneychanges that influenced Jesus’ actions- or love for God and His truth? I propose that many times when the Bible speaks of love as an action- it makes no mention of the object of that love. We usuallly just assume it’s the person we are dealing with at the moment.

    4. AJ – first of all, it is God’s job to save those other people and if they are truly His, He will take the blinders off their eyes and they will leave. However, I agree with Ps. Crippen here about allowing false teachers to remain in the pulpit. The thing you face, is if you try to gain people by telling the truth, they will most likely get rid of you. I felt the same way. I was fearful for the other people, but in the end, God showed me that they are responsible for what they do. It was between Him and them. I saw the falseness and error, why couldn’t they see it? I was willing to have my eyes opened and follow Christ, but there are lots of people who just want to follow someone else that they think has it right, so they don’t have to figure it out. God will not allow His own to fall into and stay in deception. We may be deceived for a moment, but God will always tell His own the truth, and get them out – even if He has to have them thrown out by the very ones preaching falsehood! Sometimes what looks bad, is really God working stupendous good for His own. It feels wrong at the time, because it seems like you are the only one standing against something that looks so wrong, but God’s people will stand against darkness and evil, no matter what. That’s what we do.

      “Submission to those with evil intent has a way of activating their conscience” and “Love to your enemy is the most effective way to change their behaviour,”

      This is just out and out false teaching. Where does God ever tell us to submit to evil intent? We are instead called to expose it! Exposing evil, is what will help remedy evil, not submitting to it. It is not your responsibility to activate anyone’s conscience, that is the job of the Holy Spirit. We are simply to live our lives for the glory of God and allow Him to do His work through us. If He uses you that way, fine and if He does not, it is not your fault. Loving your enemy cannot change their behavior, only God can do that. We are called to love our enemies. Truth. But, we are not called to change them. You can love your enemy til the cows come home and it is all good, but the change only comes from the work of God. I agree that you should not let it go, but I also know that you can still “not let it go” even if you walk away. In other words, you can leave and still deal with the issues at hand from a distance. We, on this blog, will pray for you.

    5. For one you would have to have a conscience to BE activated, and most likely a person with evil intent, willful, diabolical intent does not posses that conscience to be activated.. and that is down right the most lame thing I have ever heard?? I did once however here my niece, then 6 tell my kids that we were all called to love the devil. OH? REEEEALLY?
      I could see where she at 6 would be confused about loving your enemys. In regards to this pastor, he is telling an entire congregation that all you have to do is SMILE, BE HAPPY, BE JOYFUL and the devil will no longer exist…..its absurd lunacy. You should not let it go, no doubt he applies the same mentality to people trapped in abusive marriages……does he really believe his own shiz? “Now go out into the world as God has called you, to love all that is evil!!???? And if you do not, then its your fault the devil exists!!!!??” Under his theology/theory….he then must not have any enemies, or in his little popcorn bubble of planet earth there is nobody with evil intent. If there is? Well then shame on him for not sprinkling his magic fairy dust on them so that they are now good.

  6. Okay, so here is one I heard over and over again. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.” Heb. 13:4 ESV Other translations word this differently.

    I was told over and over again, that this meant that anything goes in the bedroom, as long as you are married. No conscience needed there. Anything is okay, as long as everybody gets along and agrees. Hmm…

    Now that is just so very interesting, isn’t it? I mean all through God’s Word, we see that people who practice things such as lust and sodomy and rape and unnatural things and sexual immorality, etc., will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; and yet, WOW! I mean, it’s a free-for-all! Anything goes! You now have a license to do whatever the heck you want to do and get this – God is for you doing it! Well, why would anyone remain single and deal with all those temptations and the possibility of not entering the Kingdom, when you can do it for free, as long as you are married? Sick.

    1. It is sick. Not to mention totally backwards. The marriage bed doesn’t suddenly baptize behaviors that are intrinsically evil. This should be obvious, right?

      It is sick how all the rules change for marriage. Here’s another one: Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them…unless it’s your husband doing them. Then smile real pretty and tell us what a wonderful guy he is — and don’t even think about leaving him!

      I wonder how many commands there are that the current doctrine of marriage forbids Christians to obey?

      1. Okay: that’s a good question! Maybe one of our readers would like to assemble a list of biblical commands that the current doctrine of marriage forbids Christians to obey! Go for it, m'hearties 🙂

      2. Yes, BIT, it’s sick. But you would be amazed at how often this verse is used. In the inverted and demonically inspired thinking of the ‘c’hristian abuser, all kinds of perverse and degrading sex are wholly legitimized by this verse.

      3. Excellent point BIT! I have actually heard many of my homeschool friends decry the efforts of the government to hamper or stop their homeschooling and how they would fight it tooth and nail because “God told them to homeschool”- but if their husbands complain about it, they back down like beaten puppies. So they would effectively “disobey God’s commands” because their husband said so, but not if the government did. I tried to point out the absurdity in this position, but they just looked at me like I had two heads.

    2. YES!!! I was told this too! Makes me sick now looking back but I was a innocent/ ignorant girl who didn’t know anything about anything when it comes to the bedroom so I had no clue what a healthy sex life looked like and when every one was saying “as long as you are married it is ok” what was I suppose to think was normal?? I know better now but not before going through a lot of pain 😦

  7. For a long time (many years, off and on) I couldn’t read the Bible at all without hearing my husband’s condemning angry voice, even if it wasn’t a verse he had used against me. (My son had this problem too). It was awful! I can read a devotional and Scripture now and derive some comfort and draw close to the Lord. But I still struggle sometimes.

    I really struggle with almost all the passages in the NT about women & marriage, submitting to authority & slavery (submitting even to harsh masters) & enduring under hardship. Specifically, “submitting to your husband in EVERYTHING”, “winning him without a word”, “Sarah obeyed him and called him master”, “women are to be quiet in the church and ask their husband when they have a question”, women are to wear head coverings, women were the first to be deceived, etc.

    When I read these passages the other day I felt confused & emotionally distressed & condemned. I was looking for some hint that God loves me and does not consider me second class, lacking discernment or easily misled just because I am a woman. But I came away feeling condemned – that God doesn’t really love me because I am a woman, he views me as inferior to men, my husband is right, I really am rebellious. (This despite the fact that all my life I have been a mostly compliant personality & did go along with my husband in things, even when I disagreed with him.)

    I did, at one time, before marriage, think I understood these verses from a godly, balanced and loving perspective. I went to a good church that preached equally on the role of the husband and wife and that taught things like the two become one, yet each brings their own individuality to the union. My pastor back then made marriage seem very beautiful. And I knew God loved women. Now, over many years of abuse, this has all been distorted for me.

    Perhaps this is a new topic, but I, who was never really very rebellious, am feeling very angry. My entire life, with the exception of a few years between when I was saved & when I got married, beginning when I was a child, I have been browbeaten by religion and the misuse of Scriptures, especially those on authority!

    I do not understand the over-emphasis on authority in many Christian circles (which mirrors many cults in my opinion)? What about other Christian principles and virtues? And I thought the Son was supposed to set us free!? Free from sin & condemnation!

    It has not escaped me that those who who over-emphasize the Christian’s duty to be submissive to authority, especially wives to their husbands, refuse to be accountable to anyone themselves and actually seem very rebellious and angry themselves, and always admonishing others. It seems to me the truly rebellious people are often the ones in positions of leadership in the church, both male and female, while they browbeat and manipulate the more timid souls under them.

    1. Dear Anon, in the sub-menu of the Our Beliefs tab at our top of this blog, there is a page called What Headship And Submission Do Not Mean.
      There are a few links on that page to articles that I think might help undo the distortions of scripture that have been drilled into you.
      Here are the articles I most recommend, given what you’ve shared on this thread:-

      Sabotaged Submission [Internet Archive link] by Carmen Bryant

      What Does Submit in Everything Really Mean? The Nature and Scope of Marital Submission [Internet Archive link], by Steven Tracy

      And I’m with you in feeling angry about the misuse of authority in churches. 🙂

      1. Ahhhhh! I read those articles and now I have the heeby-jeebies. I spent all of junior high and half of high school at a fundamental baptist school. I thought I had managed to not buy into their ridiculous legalism, but have learned that I absorbed more than I realized. My school fed directly into three schools, Hyles-Anderson, Bob Jones, and Pensicola Christian College. I heard sermons from some of the pastors mentioned in that article first hand. I kind of feel like I have ants crawling all over my skin. Their view of a woman’s highest calling was to be a pastor’s wife, they encouraged us to go to college with this goal in mind. I was spared some of the brainwashing because they didn’t like me. I was a southern baptist and a ballerina, so I was pretty close the rank of untouchable outcast. Plus my mom was too outspoken for their taste. But still, it seems I still have to do some weed pulling from that era of my life.

      2. Kathy, I want to fly across cyberspace and just sit with you in empathy as those ants crawl, and pray with you that God will heal your spirit and renew your mind. What a sudden shock! But it’s good to purge these false teachings. 🙂

        The work of the enemy is so subtle, isn’t it. But God . . .

      3. KS – O man, I imagine you have some stories to tell coming out of that brand of IFB school.

      4. Barbara, thank you. I can honestly say those feelings aren’t despair to pain or fear, as much as disgust and revulsion. It just makes me sick, and so angry. I meet people from that church from time to time and it’s so surreal; I grew up and moved forward in life so I expect them to have done the same. But it’s like going back in time, that world just freezes in time and never moves. It’s really kind of eerie.

        Oh the stories. Some funny, but most of them so so sad. My charm class (where we were taught how to be ladies) my brother’s manhood class (where they were taught perverted and disgusting sexual jokes and warned not to tell their parents on pain of humiliation), the charts used to explain why fundamental Christians were better than “other” Christians. The evils of skirts above the knee or any clothing that might be considered trendy. My personal favorite was a teacher’s explanation of why other Christians raised their hands in church. “They believe the Holy Spirit is hovering close to the ceiling and they are lifting their hands up to try to catch hold of it” true story. I could go on, but honestly there’s enough there to fill a book.

      5. Thanks Kathy; I reckon you and Memphis could do a double-act entertaining us all at our Cry For Justice Conference 🙂
        we dream about that conference, and hey, it may never happen, but it’s fun to dream.

        And btw, I am glad your feelings were disgust and revulsion — they are very healthy emotional responses to having been exposed to cultish indoctrination.

    2. Just learning the truth about divorce in the scriptures (that it was permitted for mistreatment and abuse) has brought me some healing… we have to re-learn what we thought we knew about the character of God. It’s going to take time.
      I think the word “leading” is a trigger for me. People put adjectives in front of it like “Godly leading”, “gentle leading” etc. But when I hear leading, leadership, I hear You are inferior and need a man to direct you.
      I want God to lead me because He is superior and all-knowing. I do not need a man to do what God already does – LEAD me. This is a huge hairy deal !! I still don’t understand it 😦

  8. Besides the obvious scriptures that keep so many women in bondage and which Barbara explains so well in her book, I struggled terribly with Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Besides feeling trapped and bound to the Monster/anti-husband for life, I constantly berated myself for not praying enough, and for not lavishing him with blessings and good deeds, and I wondered (and still do once in a great while) if I had done more “good” and prayed more for him, would he have stopped abusing me and maybe even turned to the Lord. I’ll never know, but thankfully the Lord has reassured me over the last year that I did the right thing by divorcing the Monster and He has allowed me to see that he has not changed one bit and in fact is just as much a Monster without me as he was with me.

    Despite much peace and understanding (Praise God!) that I’ve gleaned regarding biblical divorce thanks to Barbara and Instone-Brewer’s books, that verse in Corinthians 7 (verse 16) that says, “For how do you know , O wife, whether you will save your husband?” still sends a shiver down my spine and a surge of panic through my soul. What if??? What if the Lord truly wanted me to stay with the Monster and be as godly and womanly and loving and forgiving and selfless and giving as all humanly possible (despite the soul draining abuse)? Would that have shown the Monster the love of Christ? Was I simply not godly enough to lead the anti-husband to Jesus? I know that Barbara explains in her book that this verse can be taken the other way, (How do you know that despite your godly behavior he may never change?), but still I get a chill every time I read this verse and it will probably always haunt me to some degree.

    1. I think there’s something to consider in the 1 Cor 7 passage and that is the underlying call to peace, “For God has called us to peace.” I think that means in regards to the unsaved spouse that wishes to stay that the assumption is they want to stay in a peaceable relationship with the believing spouse, not an adversarial one where the marriage bond becomes a vehicle for the unbeliever to exploit their believing spouse. So then the understanding of how do you know if you will save your husband would be contingent on having something to work with in the first place. If the unbeliever is not interested in becoming a believer but gives their spouse freedom to practice their faith in peace, then it may be they may develop a heart for God themselves and the question would be warranted: there is reasonable cause for hope there. However, if it is an adversarial insistence that the believing spouse stay in the relationship yet the unbelieving spouse demonstrates hostility toward the faith and the believing spouse, then the believing spouse is in a position of being forced to chose between 2 masters, as it were. This, I believe is contrary to God’s call to peace and shows the heart of the unbelieving spouse to be merely seeking to exploit or even drag the believing spouse away from the faith or otherwise use their faith against them, and is not what God intended. In which case it is reasonable not to ask if they might be positively influenced by the believer. Pearls before swine, etc.

      That’s my take on it.

    2. I was one who stayed, forgave, and trusted the Lord to change us. I wrongly assumed that because I was changing, that he was too. I continued to cover, to pray, to go forward believing that the marriage was going to continue for the rest of our lives. Even after the second known affair. With my fears ever before me I forgave and moved forward. As a stay at home mom I was not in the position to do anything but continue to forgive, cover, and pray. Thirty years later, the blinders began to slip.

      I realize that I may have stood in the way of the world seeing my ex husband for who he really is, and even in the way of his true salvation. Obviously, he never changed. Only God changes those hearts which come to Him in repentance. It has nothing to do with us in the end. It is about them.

      We wives believe so many false teachings. Yes, we are having to relearn so much.The one thing I do know is that we can still trust God and His Word, despite what we have been taught and swallowed. Many of us are now quite afraid of trusting anyone who is church related or call themselves Christians. And I find that incredibly sad!

      1. H2 – “The one thing I do know is that we can still trust God and His Word, despite what we have been taught and swallowed.” Scripture is our anchor for sure. If we all had only learned early in life to hear what God says in His Word without altering it by running it through the grids that were laid on us by the traditions of man. And yet the Lord is faithful to slowly open our eyes. In all the distrust we now have, we still retain this solid ground of His truth that can never let us down.

  9. Mine is ‘there is no fear in Christ Jesus’, the Pastors wife said it to me when i told her i was really frightened of my Husband, it still makes me wince when i read it. I don’t know really what she meant, was it that if i have fear i am not really a Christian? i am not sure! Everyone fears sometimes, about our children, accidents, crime etc. Does God leave us then? Fear is not DOUBT, once we know Him we don’t doubt Him or His power,
    To me its usually doubt about Myself, that i can do what He wants of me.
    I have been reading my Diary from when i was 15, since i came back to the Lord when i was 35, i have always thought rather arrogantly that although i was in a lively church then, that i had not really been born again, i really am focused on Him! but i got distracted when Boys entered the Scene, and even though i was going through ‘Hell on earth’, i never stopped believing in Him, and as He promises ‘He never leaves us or forsakes us’, He never left me, i left Him!!
    He took me through all the Abuse i suffered on one painful night, it was hard reliving it all, but he NEVER LEFT ME, He showed He was there all along, and all the subsequent years of Bringing up my Five children on my own, on Benefits, (welfare) with NO support, from family, He was there,I was NEVER ALONE. Praise Him!

    1. E58- that is quite a remarkable testimony! He won’t let his sheep go. “There is no fear in Jesus.” Well, that is one cruel statement that was laid on you. The real evil of it is what is left unsaid, yet is so loudly announced in spite of it. “You have no faith. Your fear of your abuser shows you are sinful.” And on and on. There are times when it is wise to be afraid, and foolish not to be. Where in Scripture does it ever tell us to say something like this to a person who is in danger or need? What she said is equivalent to “I see you are freezing. I hope you find a coat. May the Lord bless you. Bye now.”

      1. Actually Jeff, it is worse than that. She is being told that if she had more faith, or wasn’t in sin, God would have given her a coat. And if God doesn’t deem you fit for one, I won’t give you one either!

      2. During a women’s Bible study I agonized about saying I was suffering with panic attacks every night (for 1 1/2 years since being married). I finally said it hoping for support and comfort. Instantly one of the women yelled angrily, “YOUR NOT TRUSTING GOD!!!” I felt so guilty and alone and was trying not to burst into tears. And none of the other women confronted her for the ugly tone she used towards me.

        I wish I had understood the verse, “Perfect love casts out fear.”—that had my husband loved me instead of being possessive, jealous, screaming in my face, not protecting me, there would be no fear present from him.

        The times I allowed myself to be angry and defend myself after he was mean, I had no panic attack that night. He said I didn’t have one on those occasions because, it I had hate. Now I see he just hated that I was strong at those times to stand up for myself and wanted me to stay in a weakened state.

      3. 7stelle ((hugs))

        That woman’s angry response to you was awful! And the tacit acceptance of it by all the other women was just as bad!

        How brainwashed so many people are by flakey spiritually abusive theology!

        Have you read the Honouring Women’s Resistance pdf yet? It is an excellent 34 page PDF resource from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to check it out.

        Honouring Women’s Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link] [The original link was broken. We replaced it with a link to a PDF of Honouring Women’s Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships that worked. Editors.]

        (Note: the link will take you to a page at the Calgary Women’s Shelter website. You will need to scroll to the bottom of the page and then download the pdf for the whole publication.)

    2. Eahill58, I too was guilted by “there is no fear in Christ.” No-one uttered it to me to guilt me, I guilted myself with it by misunderstanding it.

      For me the heavy-weight scripture on fear was 1 Peter 3:6 — “whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” (NKJV) Satan slid his twisted understanding of this verse into my mind, and no Christian author I ever read (and believe me, I researched this verse!) ever said anything that fully undid Satan’s twisting of it.

      ‘There is no fear in Christ’ was a flying buttress holding up Satan’s cathedral in which 1 Peter 3:6 was the giant inverted cross at the altar, the instrument of torture on which he crucified me over and over again.

  10. sorry about the bad editing, i think its my laptop it keeps jumping to the top of the page and i cant get it to go back!!!…..

  11. Ugh… I heard that all the time! I should not be afraid of my wicked anti-husband because “…. perfect love casts out all fear” and various other “do not be afraid” scriptures. This is another danger of couples counseling. Often these well meaning but errant pastors and counselors encourage women to stay in abusive relationships by counseling them to ignore or suppress their fears, and by suggesting that if they do not they are not trusting the Lord. This is SO DANGEROUS because we are often encouraged to ignore our God given intuition and even the Holy Spirit Himself if we are Christians who fear anything, but especially if we fear our supposedly “Christian” anti-husband.

    Another danger especially in emotional but not physically abusive relationships is that the counselor or pastor often doesn’t understand the woman’s fear of her husband (after all she’s not being beaten) and suggests that she allows herself to be treated poorly (not abused) due to low self esteem, lack of assertiveness, fearfulness, etc. Subtle threats, intimidation, manipulation, control, deceit, and other forms of emotional abuse are often seen as sin, but not abuse, so the victim is seen as overly fearful of a seemingly harmless albeit sinful spouse and therefore is encouraged to stay, pray, forgive, etc.

    One thing I learned on this long, tormenting journey of relationship fraud and abuse in marriage is to ALWAYS TRUST MY GUT (otherwise known as intuition which I believe is God-given) and to turn to the LORD who knows all things for validation (of my gut feelings / fears). If I had done that early on I would not have married the anti-husband in the first place and I would have gotten out a whole lot sooner once I did.

    These pastors and counselors mean well, I really think they do. They just have a serious lack of understanding in the area of relationship fraud and marital abuse. I’m grateful that Barbara Roberts, Instone-Brewer, and Jeff Crippen (among others) are working so hard to bring enlightenment and understanding. May God bless their efforts immensely!

    1. Yes, the “do not fear” . That came along with I should not worry that my ex-idiot would kill me in my sleep “because he’d be caught and your kids would not have to live with him”. Yeah, like his lies are being “caught” by the justice system right now and I want my kids raised by his mom who perpetuates the abuse or the foster system or my elderly parents…This is real fear people!!!!

      1. Omg SS that is incredible. You shouldn’t be afraid that he’ll murder you because “he probably won’t get away with it” ? Makes me want to weep 😦

      2. Yes, the fears are real. Nearly everything I feared that he would do, he did. Fortunately God is bigger than any monster and He protected me and the children (Praise Him!), but my anti-husband was as wicked, evil, and dangerous as I feared and described.

      3. BIT, I never thought of it in those words, but yes, expendable was how I felt when they made comments like that! Thank you for putting words to nebulous emotions!!

      4. SS,

        Is this something that could plausibly still happen now?

        I find myself a little nervous for your sake….

      5. It is still possible, as he owns guns and has a temper but right now he seems more content with legal shenanigans and stalking me in cyber space than invading my house. The first protection order seemed to scare him a bit and cause him to actually rethink that I might be serious. Of course when I called 911 on him after he angrily invaded my house one evening( two years ago) within 36 hours he was telling everyone I planned the whole thing. I planned to make him so upset that he would invade my house so I could call the police. you see I have that kind of mind control!! Ridiculous thinking!

      6. In many ways, what is sadder than the fact he is spouting such nonsense, is how many people are probably believing him!

      7. Of course when I called 911 on him after he angrily invaded my house one evening( two years ago) within 36 hours he was telling everyone I planned the whole thing. I planned to make him so upset that he would invade my house so I could call the police. you see I have that kind of mind control!!

        Wow. 😦

        Does he wear tin foil hats too?

        I am officially making it a point to pray for your protection. I pray the Lord will set up a guard of His own heavenly host around you, your children, and your home at all times to protect you and defeat him.

      8. Right now his new thought is how much he “wants to be be friends ” so we can “co-parent” and how much he misses my friendship. Then calls me dysfunctional and emotionally unstable and that is why I trigger his rage.

    2. I went to the pastor to reveal the abuse. He talked to my A-h without telling me. When I called to ask the pastor why he went behind my back and did that he said he “thought” I wanted him to do to. Then I was blindsided with the A-h having said the marriage was difficult, because I have a lot of fears and that my parents cause problems!!! My parents were nothing, but good to him and me! And as far as the fear—-it came out in panic attacks, because of the abuser himself! And the pastor just swept the abuse under the rug and made me out to be the bad guy. The abuser totally took the focus off himself and the pastor is one of his biggest allies.

      1. I went to the pastor to reveal the abuse. He talked to my A-h without telling me.

        That is one of the worst things a pastor can do when a victim discloses the abuse she is suffering.

        Pastors need so much training in this. They are often CLUELESS about safety, and have no inkling that they must ALWAYS PRIORITIZE the victim’s safety in whatever they do and say. Whether it be from the pulpit, from the pastoral counseling office, from their phone, in the way they chat with men in the church at coffee time, how they raise their eyebrows or roll their eyes, every message they convey and every act they do, they should be thinking about the safety of victims of abuse.

        And that applies whether or not they are aware of any particular victims in their church. Because in every church there will always be people who have survived or may currently be suffering domestic abuse, child abuse, post-separation abuse, and other kinds of abuse.

      2. Barbara & Memphis,

        I just saw your posts referring to the “whys” asked of us victims and it reminded me of this:
        During that meeting with the Pastor I told of A-h refusing to take me and the children to the hospital during particularly dangerous medical situations. He responded with a head tilt of sadness and a syrupy tone asking me, “Now why do you think he does that?” As if to say, ‘that poor man, there must be a legitimate reason for it.’ I was flabbergasted!!! Not one mention or show of concern for what the children and I went through.

    3. One thing I learned on this long, tormenting journey of relationship fraud and abuse in marriage is to ALWAYS TRUST MY GUT (otherwise known as intuition which I believe is God-given) and to turn to the LORD who knows all things for validation (of my gut feelings / fears).

      — Fifty and free, I agree 100%!!! And I love the phrase “relationship fraud”–going to use it when explaining patterns of abuse to the lawyer; I think it will help him to better understand what I’ve lived through.

  12. When I was going through a long, dark period of intense anxiety, panic and terror- the verse “be anxious for nothing, but in everything….” just kicked me in the teeth every time. I also got some of that from people in the church who never took the time to really understand what I was going through. It was obviously because I had sinned, no need to look further. I condemned myself because I was completely helpless to stop what I was going through. Of course, I know now exactly why I went through it.

    1. So familiar with the long dark intense anxiety panic terror periods…..the only thing, I can really grasp is those open moments when God himself swooped down and whispered in my ear…He did that. Everything else, although I felt condemned, snuffed out, like nothing would ever be okay, all the other noise, all the poisoned arrows, and gossip to destroy me all the things I internalized….well they did not crush me…..I also dont think I took comfort in those whispers from God, not at the time…..but I sure do now….its my only comfort that keeps me in an upright position = )

    2. wow ssbga, I know his evil twin. maybe he does not wear a tin foil hat? But he may believe he invented tin foil itself? One time the MIW admitt he actually believes his own lies, he laughed about that…..even when he utter complete stupidity, absolute nonesense people would still let him bend an ear, and his nonsense as to why he would show up at our house at 3am, why he was caught rifling through the garage? Why he tried to run us off the road? ( the last one was, “he was trying to get my attention, to stop me from driving so fast) the other two of course “he was there to see the kids”……..the idiocy went on and on. The only people who ever laughed at him and didnt believe him, were the police!!! If the pastors speculated, they never show it, but when I would tell them exactly what happen they would just say “”Well why would somebody do that?” and of course I would have no rational answer, because it was all crazy making.

      1. I actually had the wonderful experience of sitting in a survivor’s loungeroom recently, with her pastor (not Jeff Crippen, I hasten to add) and she was telling a story about what her abuser did to her, and when she said “He refused to drive me to hospital when I was in labour,” the pastor interrupted and said, “Why would he do that?” And I promptly answered: “That is not a helpful question; the only answer to ‘Why does he do that?’ is that he wanted to maintain power and control over his wife and cause her harm.”

        The pastor got it. Yes, dear readers, he GOT IT! Straight away! And he listened intently to rest of the survivor’s story with compassion and empathy; and his wife was there too and the tears were pouring down her cheeks as she listened to that woman’s story.

        Friends, this was so heartening, to see a pastor and his wife get it. As soon as they were told it’s all about power and control: the only explanation for behaviour like that is the abuser wants to exert power and control over his chosen victim, they came on board and were able to take in everything else that woman and I gave them that night.

        Yes, it can happen.

        And if it does not happen, if people don’t get it when we explain to them the truth about the abuser’s mindset, there is a reason why they don’t get it. Many (most?) don’t get it because they don’t want to get it. They’d rather not get it because it require too much of them — too much change.

      2. One time I told somebody that “My husband wants me dead, and he has tried to kill me”

        They replied “Why?”

        End of conversation.

        One time the news came on there was a story of a police officer who had just murdered his wife and unborn child.

        The MIWs response “I wonder what she did?”(why)

        End of conversation.
        the fear and horror that provoked in me, along with his snarling at me down his snout!!!

        For anybody out there, that question “Why would he do that?” Can instill such hoplesness, despair, and terror into an already exhausted victim, who most likely does not have the strength/or endurance to educate you on the spot, plus it just makes them feel so condemned, like your not in their corner.

        Its so good to hear somebody that said that, was able to grasp the levity of damage it can do, and listen to the truth with understanding and compassion. That is truly a gift. Barb you need to clone yourself, and come to everyones side to educate the people who are willing to listen, so they can truly hear. = ) Thats awesome.

      3. Memphis, many are the times and the years I’ve been tongue-tied from pain, shock, PTSD, all of the above, when I’ve heard that “Why?” question.

        “Why did he do that?” could shift me into off-the-graph pain and bewilderment in a microsecond.

        “Why didn’t you leave?” — ditto.

        It is only from years of working and writing at this stuff, and the many blessings in my life which mean I am now free from all post-separation abuse and anxiety from my exes, and have practiced and rehearsed the right answers to those questions for years. That’s how I am where I am now, and can promptly reply without missing a beat and without blowing green smoke out my ears or snorting like a nuclear powered locomotive on steroids. And it helps to have friends, all the team and family on this blog, who believe and support me and don’t think I’m crazy. Having friends who see things the same way I do helps me convey my ideas without rancour or timidity.

      4. And Lundy knew a thing or two when he titled his book Why Does He DO That?
        He knew that is the question most people ask.

        Also, for readers who are not yet aware, I’ve got an article called Why Didn’t You Leave?

        [This link was updated to reflect the new URL. Editors.]

  13. I’m going to add one more scripture to this list because I haven’t seen it mentioned yet. But another one that makes me hurt is James 1:2-4:
    Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    I thought this meant that my marriage was a trial that i was meant to endure for as long as I lived, and that if I made it to the end of my life enduring his abuse that it would magically turn me into a better person. ??
    I still wonder to this day — how long is a “trial” supposed to last? our whole lives? just for as long as we can take it? (Maybe a post on what is meant by a “trial” would help)

    1. Ya WHATEVA???? The theme I heard, and is not really scripture based is that God could of stopped me from getting married at any time, (like car crash, natural disaster, church struck by lightning, stubbed toe? etc) Soooo what I was force fed was the FACT that God had already put His stamp of “Okie Dokie” on my marriage because it was my fate after all?…Their attitude was that I was just a silly peasant girl who needed a schooling in how to be a believer…..then the debate came down to did I believe in fate or chance??? Therefore I honestly did not believe I had a “chance” in making it out alive.
      Oh, and I would like to make my official apology that I am aware I sound like a broken record. Honestly I am afraid to dabble in scriptures, although I feel them calling me do to my new born again, AGAIN experience…..I am afraid, all these things come back to my mind it hurts, and I cannot breathe….I know the bible itself is not the issue, I can read over and over the scripture God had given me when I had failed, they were somehow untouchable, and not ever mutilated by the church and the MIW ….I know I dont have the mad skills either alot of people have on this blog, and I am just an over all hot mess.
      All they really wanted me to “get” was “It truly was my cross to bare, so suck it up sister!!”

    2. Katy, I used to wonder about that too. Was my pseudo marriage to a con artist and all of the abuse he used to keep me in bondage to him simply a “trial” like any other “trial” which Christians are expected to endure with joy and faith? Oh, my. When I look back I really wonder how I stayed sane. Like Memphis Rayne mentioned in her reply; it was those little whispers from the Lord that held me together.

      1. OH wow, Memphis Rayne. I actually almost forgot about that horror. I remember now that many Christian friends told me that God is sovereign and God makes no mistakes and therefore I was meant to be married to my anti-husband. This used to torment me to no end (which is why I can’t believe I almost forgot about it) because I do believe God is sovereign and I do believe He could have stopped the marriage from taking place. However, I now believe that despite the fact that He is sovereign and that He could have stopped the wedding, He allowed it to happen but that doesn’t mean it was His will, nor does it mean that He ordained me and my anti-husband to be married. It just happened due to human error and He let it happen because He gave us free will, but I believe it grieves Him deeply that the children and I were treated so badly. I believe that some day good will come out of what happened to me (because all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes – all things means even the mistakes we make) and I believe it will bring Glory to His Holy name. I don’t know how, or when, but it will. Sometimes our deepest blessings and joys come out of the sorrows in our lives. My children are one of those blessings. If I hadn’t married that monster I wouldn’d have three amazing kids who love the Lord and are called by Him.

  14. A comment that Pastor Crippen made on another thread got me thinking. He told a victim, “It is his (the abuser) issue to deal with – you (the victim) aren’t the problem.”

    Most people who quote scriptures at victims assume that the victim has a problem. Scripture about submission is quoted because it is believed that a bit more submitting on the victims part will fix everything. The same theory is applied to scriptures on loving and obeying your spouse, marriage, and patience with people and during trials. Why is the victim perceived as the problem? No one would tell a victim of a robbery, “Well, you know the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. So be thankful you were robbed because God must know that you have a problem with money.” No, of course not! Just the opposite would happen. Most would want the robber to be brought to justice.

    The type of scriptures that victims need to hear are scriptures that correctly identify who and what the problem is and encourages victims. Is it just me or does it seem that these type of scriptures are more scarce? Or maybe they are there, but I need to train myself to see them. I did come across one such verse while listening to Pastor Crippen’s May 19th sermon on sermonaudio.com. The paraphrase is mine indicated by the parenthesis. I hope I didn’t take too much liberty, but when I read this verse this is what I heard…

    Romans 16:17-19 ESV
    I appeal to you, brothers (wives), to watch out for those (abusive spouses) who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of their naive (wives). For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”

    1. Very good insight and paraphrase, Anon.

      Romans 16:17 was used by a pastor to turn the sheep in his congregation against me, when I’d been making waves about his faulty doctrine of faith (he followed Word of Faith teaching which came out of Mary Baker Eddy via E. W. Kenyon). So when I read Romans 16:17 it always reminds me of that. But reading your paraphrase helped me see how that passage can rightly be applied. Thank you!

      1. Eeewww! E. W. Kenyon! I did a lot of research into WoF as assignments for some of my theology classes. I think the most amazing thing I ever heard from Kenyon’s beliefs, and espoused by the likes of Hagin and Copeland was that Jesus actually had to be born again in the salvific sense before He could be raised from the dead. In other words, Jesus had to become saved before God could resurrect Him!

        You want to talk about a spiritually abusive system, it is that one. They just couch the judgement differently.

    2. Anon- Those Scriptures that expose the evil one are all over the place. For reasons of naivete about evil or willful disregard for the plight of victims, Christians-Pastors-Counselors suppress their truth and run to the “easy” verses like love and mercy for everyone! Everyone? Does the Bible say God extends His love and mercy on every human being no matter what? Doesn’t it say something about His wrath being upon the wicked? Good insights. Thanks.

  15. I just can’t see the path that will take me from feeling the weight of all these verses and more. I still hear nothing but condemnation in them and I feel weighed down by them and by guilt. I used to love the fact that I grew up in a church where I was challenged to memorize scripture but now I wish I could escape them. I have the super strict IFB background and their interpretation of scripture is so engrained in me I can’t imagine any escape. I want to but it seems hopeless.

      1. I have read the article. I actually can read the scriptures though. I just feel troubled because I still totally believe the way I’ve always heard them interpreted. I can’t break away from those presumptions that are ingrained in me. So I’m making these changes in my life and with every choice going totally against my own belief system. I guess really the scriptures aren’t even the issue it’s my presumptions that are the problem.

      2. Anne, when I finally got to church 13 years after being born again, I asked God to do spiritual brain surgery on me to remove all the false beliefs I had acquired from all my years in the New Age, but to leave in my mind whatever was true and did not run counter to scripture. I believe He answered my prayer and the way He did it was mostly by me reading lots and lots and did I say LOTS on Christianity and true doctrine (on the one hand) and cults including ‘c’hristian cults on the other hand. The more I read, the more I was able to sift the wheat from the chaff. Don’t know if that will help you, but I thought to offer it.

    1. Anne,

      I had a passage of Scripture “applied” to my “situation” in college and it took me a decade to be able to read the book it came from again. When that happened it was the result of an interestingly orchestrated set of circumstances I maintain to this day the Lord arranged Himself. It turned out the passage in question fit that situation precisely and was tremendously encouraging when used properly. But it did take a long time.

  16. No one has mentioned the “God hates divorce” in Malachi yet. I once googled it and found 16 pages full of sermons and youtubes on God hating divorce. Somewhere in amongst that was one or two articles debunking it, including Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage. Later, I googled “God hates evil” and only found two to three pages of entries relating to it. No wonder so many churched women are trapped in evil marriages, because apparently, God hates divorce, but He doesn’t hate evil quite as much!

  17. Yes, “God hates divorce” has done so much harm. It just sends shivers down the spine. I was so relieved when I found the truth about that verse thanks to Barbara and to David Instone-Brewer. I was recently reading the 1560/1599 Geneva Bible on line and sure enough this is what it says:
    “If thou hatest her, put her away, saith the Lord God of Israel, yet he covereth
    the injury under his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore keep yourselves in
    your spirit, and transgress not.” It grieves me so deeply that this verse has since been mistranslated and has caused so much pain. Lord, why? I can’t understand why the good Lord allowed this to happen to His Holy Word.

    1. I lost part of that last post. I was going to say that the Geneva Bible’s version of this verse could be safely interpreted (I believe) as God telling the abuser/hater to divorce their spouse rather than stay married and continue to hate/abuse. But instead many hater/abusers terrorize their spouses into staying and then use various means to cover their sin (isolating the victim, blame shifting, systematic abuse, etc.).

    2. FiftyandFree
      The Geneva translation gets one thing right and one thing very very wrong.
      What it gets right is to render the one who hates as the divorcing husband, not God. What it gets wrong is to render verse one as an if…then instruction. That’s wrong because the ‘IF’ goes right through to verse four, and only in verse four does it say “THEN the first husband may not remarry her because that kind of remarriage would bring sin on the land.”

      The Geneva Bible seems to have relied on the Vulgate, which made the mistake of thinking that If you (a husband) hate your wife, then you may put her away. But verse one gives no such permission, not in any way shape or form can it be faithfully translated like that. As Jay Adams noted in his book on divorce, all modern translations disagree with the Vulgate and Geneva versions in that respect.

  18. I just finished listening to a local religious radio program about marriage. Mostly the guest expert talked about all the usual stuff we’ve heard over the years–learning to understand the other, praying, etc, etc in response to callers’ questions. I kept waiting for someone to call in and ask the guest “what about abuse?” The last caller told of how (after separating) she realized she couldn’t wait for her husband to change, she had to change and make the decision to love her husband. She realized “it takes two”. They got back together. The guest expert agreed wholeheartedly that she was right.

    Hearing that upset me so much. I’m almost shaking right now. I came back to this website immediately. I’m so tired of hearing that my faith is somehow deficient and that’s why my marriage is a failure.

    I’m also so sick of hearing it takes two! For too long I believed that was always true. I’m tired of hearing that all marriage problems are because the spouses don’t understand what marriage is–that our expectations are wrong, we don’t know what sacrifice is. Maybe only one spouse doesn’t get it! And it’s not the one who’s suffering!

    I’m tired of hearing that I’m not praying enough, that I’m not patient enough, that I don’t understand my “role”.

    My husband tried to get me to read a book by a Christian pastor that basically “explains” to women what they’re doing “wrong”. Apparently the pastor’s wife backs him up by saying until she learned all these things she was the source of the problems. Oh my gosh, I read the summary of the book and comments on Amazon. I thought I was going to throw-up. The gist of it is the woman has to cater to her husband and if she doesn’t that’s the root of their problems.

    My husband who has no respect for my faith actually thought I would be open to this! If I just read this book I would know what I was doing wrong. Silly me. I’m supposed to be a doormat and if he is mean towards me, well, I deserve it and he has no obligation to treat me better because I’m causing him to act that way.

    The other day he attempted to talk to me. I said I wasn’t going to sit and listen to him. He said we’re going to have a conversation. I said you don’t know what a conversation is. He answered that he did–a conversation is where he talks, I listen and then he decides. Yes, he said that with a straight face. He also added he’s the man and I have to stop trying to be the man.

    Anyway, reading this post and the comments have been reassuring and especially Anon’s comment above has helped me.

    “Most people who quote scriptures at victims assume that the victim has a problem. Scripture about submission is quoted because it is believed that a bit more submitting on the victims part will fix everything. The same theory is applied to scriptures on loving and obeying your spouse, marriage, and patience with people and during trials. Why is the victim perceived as the problem? No one would tell a victim of a robbery, “Well, you know the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. So be thankful you were robbed because God must know that you have a problem with money.” No, of course not! Just the opposite would happen. Most would want the robber to be brought to justice. “

  19. Primarily, Ephesians 5:24 …wives submit in EVERYTHING.

    Matthew 19:6…What God has joined together let no man put asunder. Ex insists we are not to be divorced. He reminds me Jesus, himself, said this.

    But also, 1 Corinthians 6…believers don’t take believers to court (esp divorce court).

    Ex says my doing this is / was blasphemy. However, ex fails to acknowledge the parts of this passage that refer to taking our issue to the godly and having them help us resolve the problem. I went to my church (the godly) for help because I did not know where else to turn. Fortunately, they stood with me because they had seen / heard stuff over the years from myself and the kids about our home life. Ex was NOT willing in the least to seek help with me, even after my pastor (who ex disrespected…but ex lead our family to this church years ago under this same pastor) and others asked if they could please talk with him (and me) to help us work things out. He refused, refused, refused saying HE was my head and no other, ordained by God to lead and instruct me in how to be his wife. He said I was a fool to seek counsel outside of him (dishonor, disrespect, betrayal, rebellion) and that obviously I had the pastor swayed toward my position. He felt he would not get a fair “hearing” since the pastor was biased towards me. I understood that, and I respected his feelings about that. I even suggested going elsewhere for help, but he would not.

    I attempted the principles in Matthew 18, but that did not work. You cannot force someone to participate in the process. I felt I had no recourse but to go to court. His behavior was very erratic and unpredictable and I really felt my children and I needed protection.

  20. Some verses sound oppressive even without an abuser quoting them to me, and are hard to believe they are from the same God who rescues the oppressed.

    1 Timothy 2:11-15 sounds like women have to have children to please God. 1 Corinthians 7:28-40 implies that a woman doesn’t have to be married (and presumably doesn’t have children) to please God, but what is the reason God has for 1 Timothy 2:15?

    Also, in 1 Corinthians 7 the part about being “not under bondage” is the part that is “just Paul’s opinion” (v.12) and the part about not divorcing is the part that is “from God” (v.10). Why doesn’t God emphasize more the “not under bondage”?

    Romans 12:20 implies that loving enemies will “heap coals on their head” but what does that mean when there’s no evidence of “coals”?

    Of the verses coming to mind, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 seems the most pro-patriarchy. Not just because literal head coverings would be socially awkward, but because it seems to justify male superiority. I know it mentions that man is not independent of woman, but the overall impression sounds like “even nature says that man is above woman”.

    Some of the prior comments also mentioned verses that feel upsetting to me, but I won’t re-list all the verses in the prior comments. I’m not expecting that “why did God do that?” can always be answered, but I’m sure some will relate to the question.

    When I was reading the comments about panic attacks I could somewhat relate because I’ve had panic attacks even in a safe environment. For a long time I felt like I had insufficient faith and felt like I was stupider than people who had panic attacks due to a circumstantial reason. Abuse is a very logical reason for panic attacks, but I didn’t have a logical reason. Over a long time I gradually concluded that I probably have a genetic reason and that God let it happen so I wouldn’t be judgmental of people who took psych meds. If someone stops having panic attacks after escaping abuse that’s a great testimony to prove their escape was a good idea. But if someone has panic attacks in a safe environment even after making progress in their recovery, perhaps a proper use of “don’t judge” (we already know the improper uses) is not judging their choices about medication.

    I see some parallels between the way abuse victims are wrongly treated and they way mental illness is wrongly treated. I also feel like untreated mental illness feels similar to having an invisible abuser that can’t be escaped by going to a shelter. At the same time I recognize that “escaping” by going to a psychiatrist doesn’t present the same dangers as escaping literal violence. It’s not meant to be a one to one comparison, but they both have emotions of fear, hopelessness, helplessness, etc……

    That relates to all those who are troubled by the scriptures that imply that faith is the antidote to anxiety. Logically, I can believe that a person can have faith and anxiety at the same time, but it doesn’t look clear in the Bible.

    Regarding anger and the Bible, I can cognitively appreciate the difference between righteous anger and unrighteous vengeance / bitterness, but emotionally I’m not sure where to draw the line. Anger and vengeance can feel the same. At work it takes constant thinking to sort between actual injustice and perceived injustice. For example, actual injustice is when a customer is deliberately rude; perceived injustice is when a customer causes me stress by being confused. The confused person isn’t attacking me, but stress makes me feel attacked. It’s a relief to know that anger towards abusive customers is justified (in my mind — it doesn’t mean I yell at them), but it takes work to discern deliberate abuse and non-deliberate stress. I know that abusers play confused, but some people are honestly and respectfully confused when they call for customer service and I still feel defensive (and try not to show it).

    Sometimes I can be at peace without answers and sometimes I’m not so peaceful. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 says we can’t know it all.

  21. On a more positive note, I used to feel like 1 Peter 3:7 hated me because “weaker” felt like a hateful word. Now, I feel like it’s actually saying that because she is physically / biologically weaker (which is true for me) you shouldn’t burden her with [whatever] that her body wasn’t meant to handle or else God won’t listen to you……that’s definitely a pro-woman verse. 🙂

    1. What 1 Peter 3:7 actually means [by calling the wife the “weaker vessel”] is that because she is physically/biologically weaker (which is true for me) you shouldn’t burden her with [whatever] that her body wasn’t meant to handle or else God won’t listen to you……that’s definitely a pro-woman verse. 🙂

      AMEN and AMEN! Me too. I was physically weaker than both my husbands. And they took advantage of that in the ways they chose to abuse me.

  22. What about ‘love keeps no record of wrongs’, has that one been covered?

    And in the OT the verses that drive me bananas are the ones that talk about the following.
    Speaking about a rape victim: If she cries out in the country, she is not guilty because there was no one to hear her; if she cries out in the city she is held guilty because there were people around and she didn’t cry out. These verses almost seem that there is no way a merciful and intelligent Supreme Being could even have said them. How can God not know that being raped involves fear or know that abusers or rapists often threaten with weapons or acts of harm to loved ones if the victim makes a sound? So if you have the misfortune to be assaulted in a city, you are automatically guilty, is what the text would seem to say.

    Then there is the Levitical directives for dealing with the births for boy children and girl children, that make it seem as if male children have more value to God than female ones.

    1. She did not cry out while being raped … so is she guilty?

      We have not yet written a post about the directions in Leviticus for different ways of dealing with the birth of boy children and girl children. So I’ll give my thoughts here.

      The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days. (Leviticus 12:1-5 ESV)

      Personally, I don’t think that God is saying that boy children are of more value to God than girl children. The mother is ‘unclean’ for twice length of time after the birth of a female child. But the whole concept of ‘clean and unclean’ in the OT law is not easy for us to grasp from our culture. It was related to many things that the term ‘unclean’ does not necessarily connote for us today. We think of ‘unclean’ as being related primarily to hygiene and infection control. In OT Israel, it did sometimes related to hygiene and infection control, but it often much more related to the rules about religious ceremony. And there may be things which we have failed to fully comprehend about it because we can’t wholly think our way back into that culture.

      Perhaps the rule about the longer period of the mother’s “uncleanness” after giving birth to a female child might be God somehow indicating or making allowance for the fact that a mother’s bond with her daughter is of a different quality than her bond with her son. Maybe the longer period of “uncleanness” was to allow for this deeper bond to be established between mother a daughter for the benefit of both of them.

      Furthermore, the boy child was to be circumcised on the eighth day, whereas the girl child didn’t need to be circumcised. This also bespeaks a difference between the sexes which may relate to or echo the different kind of maternal bonding with daughters and sons.

      The longer period of “maternal uncleanness” in the case of girl children may have been a blessing to the mother. Just think – while she was ‘unclean’ she wouldn’t have been expected to do the full load of household and wifely tasks that would have been her duty when she wasn’t “unclean”. I like to think of it as an extended recuperation period for her after the birth. What a blessing that might have been!

      I can’t prove my idea of course, it is only a suggestion, something to ponder. But because I am certain that God and His laws are not misogynist, I am certain that this passage in Leviticus isn’t baldly saying that males are more valuable than females.

      1. I like to think of it as an extended recuperation period for her after the birth. What a blessing that might have been!

        My daughter and I have talked about this too and we came to the same conclusion that you did. Just for interesting conversation–when one of my sisters was planning to get pregnant she wanted to try for a girl since she already had several boys. She was reading books on how to improve your chances of having a girl or a boy and one of the recommendations for increasing your chances of having a BOY was for the woman to have an orgasm. (I guess it holds the sperm in longer which increases the chance for the slower swimmers to have an opportunity or some such thing.) And I asked her if this was true for her–did she have an orgasm when she got pregnant with her boys? And she said that she NEVER had sex unless she had an orgasm–like I was insane for even ASKING such a question! And I realized (at the time) that I only had girls–and I NEVER had an orgasm. (Of course we know this is only something that MIGHT increase your chances of having a boy because we know rape victims and many women give birth to boys and NEVER had an orgasm.)

        So, since the woman may not have “enjoyed” herself during the conception of her daughter, at least she gets a little extra time afterward. Again, this is only for fun that I’ve written this but it’s the way my daughter and I talk about and deal with things we read in God’s word and how it applies to our real lives.

    2. By the way, if you ever want to see if we have a post about a particular passage or verse, you can explore our TAGS menu and find that book of the Bible. Click on the book and it will bring up all the posts relating that book.

      Another way is to just type into our Search bar the key words of the verse you are interested in.

  23. Oh, cool! I didn’t know about the tags menu re the Bible books though I’ve done a fair bit of poking around. Thank you for answering re scriptures; some of those have really bothered me and made me wonder.

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