Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 groups — women influencing each other
This post has been prompted by a discussion I’ve been having by email with God Fearing Mom, one of our readers. Here are her words, recast and elaborated by me for this post.
I’ve been thinking that other young women like me are being brainwashed. One of my friends had a husband that was evil (according to her description) and thankfully he left her and their numerous children. Thankfully the courts said they don’t have to see their dad. The point is, she is young like me and she was influenced by teaching that gives honor to a fool (certain husbands) — which clearly undermines the principle of Proverbs 26:8 —
Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool.
Women like my friend have an audience of women in difficult or unequally yoked marriages and they operate in clusters of other “Titus 2” and “Proverbs 31” women. Not all women in Titus 2 or Proverbs 31 groups are in difficult or destructive marriages, but these groups potentially contain women who are being abused by their husbands. In these informal groups women are influencing and supposedly supporting each other, and older women in the group are usually seen as mentors. While they profess Christ, grace and our brokenness, they are heaping heavy burdens on women who are undergoing abuse without any idea that God doesn’t require women to be under such burdens.
It becomes another gospel: a destructive heresy that is tantamount to idolatry. The children suffer or grow up wayward because when women have been taught we must obey that type of authority — our light gets blotted out and we lose our saltiness. We lose heart. Thankfully the Lord finally revealed it to me after ten years, and hopefully God will shake these women in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 groups. I don’t think they realize what they are teaching is wrong and how it is especially wrong and dangerous for women who are married to abusive husbands.
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We would like to hear from other readers who have experienced or have views about “Titus 2” or “Proverbs 31” groups. Please feel free to share both positive and negative experiences and opinions. We don’t want to be unfair to these informal groups or to the women in them, we just want to open this up for a compassionate and well reasoned discussion and sharing.
- Posted in: Christianity
- Tagged: Barbara Roberts, church response to abuse, dangerous views on abuse, false gospel, idolatry, mind control
I have never been part of these groups, but it sounds like they are based on two wrong principles:
#1. Foolish men deserve praise and respect no matter what they do, and
#2. Women are the ones that have to be perfect and give the fools all the praise and respect they supposedly “Deserve” –the marriage rests on the woman’s shoulders.
This is absolutely a recipe for disaster, because these kind of groups are ALSO likely to believe that divorce is the greatest sin of all, and that there are no Biblical grounds for divorce. Put it all together and instead of a support group you’ve got a Nancy DeMoss Ring of Hell.
I was convinced that the only hell worse than what I was living on this earth was the hell in which I was going to burn if I left my anti-husband.
I remember that. I had the exact same ideas…the trouble is that logically, if you follow that line of thought to the end, the only way out is death. When you get trapped like that you start to daydream about suicide. I couldn’t go that far, so it forced me to really wrestle with God. I basically said to God: “if you are sending me to hell for divorcing him, it doesn’t matter because I’m already in hell. And if this is who you are then I can never get to heaven anyway.” I had to use logic on myself to start getting out (because I didn’t trust my feelings), it wasn’t until later that God began to show me that my previous ideas had been wrong.
Hi Katy, I do recall wrestling with suicidal thoughts too when I was trying my best and he had this stubborn depression. I prayed out of desperation for help, like a helpless child, and Abba Father helped me speak up through which He sent considerable relief for a time. But I do remember a time when I had to storm out and go on one of my walks and pray a similar way as you. Anyway, nice to meet you.
For anyone to teach/disciple another person, such as the older women teaching the younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2), the pre-requisite is WISDOM accompanied by a humble, pure motive. In our church we have come to take caution in regard to someone unilaterally deciding that they are going to “disciple” another person. There are people who simply want to control others and boost their own egos by keeping a weaker person under their tutelage forever. There is much an older woman can teach a younger one, but this necessarily requires true godliness and love for Christ, having His glory as the goal. In my experience as a pastor, I have seen both men and women set up their “ministries” of teaching others, whether one on one or in a group, purely for self-exaltation. It divides the church and it leaves a path for wolves to enter into the flock.
People doing this is a red flag. Instant intimacy in a relationship is just wrong. It takes time to build relationships. Mentoring is good, but can be done over a cup of coffee in the fellowship hall of the church. I think that the Titus 2/Prov. 31 Women camp, love to take young women and make them their clones, instead of entrusting each individual to God, for Him to decide what they should look like. We become the potter, instead of leaving that role to God. Yuk.
I totally agree with you Jeff, I have seen this very thing happen myself. I have seen woman mentor younger woman to look good to the Pastor and his wife. I have seen so many people do these things for self-exaltation. Yes wisdom, humilty, pure motive, true godliness and the love of Christ … these woman are beautiful and shine for God! I have seen them and my desire is to be one of them one day! AMEN
Yes! Prerequisite of wisdom, and often that is earned through experience. Like Paul said, “If I am afflicted, it is for your sake, to give you an example…If I am comforted, it is for your sake, to comfort you with what I have been comforted with.”
I think right now of how rogue a woman who has been abused would appear teaching other women of the comfort she received from God through her affliction. Instead, such a one who has received so much in promise and provision from God is silenced and “benched.”
A rogue teacher, hmmmm, I think they said the same of Jesus.
Laurie, one of my mentors had in fact been abused by her spouse badly (I don’t think physically). She became a Titus 2 teacher teaching some radical (bad) stuff. I think she had developed Stockholm Syndrome and found solace in teaching young women after her abuser died. She had twisted interpretations of scripture and her children went “south” concerning the Lord. Her friends say she has Parkinsons but I heard her say she shakes a lot from the anxiety from the past with the stress from her husband’s abuse. She lured us with a miraculous testimony but things didn’t really add up!
I have personally concluded (but I haven’t purchased Barb or Jeff’s books yet) the Bible says stay away from certain people, the companion of fools suffers harm etc. but if you’re married to them you are still supposed to behave as a Christian. If the spouse is not they will either persecute to the point of abuse and/or abandonment, or they will be converted but there is no guarantee of their conversion. I think that for a Christian there is always a battle but I’m not sure where you draw the line. Probably should leave before we can’t resist the temptation to sin. Jesus said if your hand or eye causes you to sin cut/pluck it out and cast it from you. I have told my husband I wanted to move out because I was so angry I thought I could hurt him, but then he changes.
G.F.Mom, wow…that is sad. I have seen such things with folks who got divorced beating the “never divorce” drum, kinda the same thing. I know that after my first son died, it was comforting to me to send cards to other mom’s who lost children, but that is not the same as spreading stockholm syndrome for truth.
One thing that I found personally is that every correction that was clearly visible that God was bringing into ex-hubby’s life he tended to squirm away from without any effective or lasting change…just enough to wriggle free.
Its been awhile since I talked to my ex, he never changed either. But that is part of the process, you are about ready to throw in the towel and they put on their “good” face and you hope again, because you REALLY don’t want to go through the mess of separation. And once you unpack your bags, it starts all over again.
I think that women who teach young women that love does not equal blind obedience would be more fitting as Titus 2 teachers, but chances are that THAT type of teacher will be called a “Jezebel” and ignored until she leaves.
These are my rambling thoughts and observations.
Laurie, that is basically what happened to me. The Pearl’s sent me a reply through the mail of this article about the Jezebel profile, basically implying I was being a Jezebel. This was in response to a request on how to appeal respectfully to my husband about his TV shows and Movies he watches in front of the kids. Also, I recently felt I was being shunned on FB and when I inquired to each individual friend in a private message I was “lovingly” basically encouraged to hush and pray and not judge anybody. I had been revealing everything at my own expense, being vulnerable about my stupidity to be duped in the midst of everybody who acts like they know it all, and it helped to heighten a social anxiety disorder because I had nobody that was willing to help me feel enough support. I had surrounded myself with like-minded women and when God was showing me and I was sharing, they didn’t really support me. One of the ladies told me it was my fault that I let the teaching turn into that. Well, excuse me for being so stupid. In my defense, it’s at least partly his fault for being blind to my infirmities. And she could have shared the problem with the teaching she had found but I guess she was projecting her own cleverness that everybody else is going to filter through the bad stuff that brings on entitlement. I tried to explain we are all called to contend for the faith and do what we can, use our fingers and our mouths to protect the weak and the oppressed. Not just to assume praying is sufficient when we can write or speak. But the teacher has brainwashed them into staying out of “trouble” by hiding into their homemaking. The whole thing left me bewildered and emotional. I did what I felt I could. I am so thankful to Barbara for this post. I don’t have much of a reputation left.
G.F. Mom, reading about your shunning experience, I was hit with the thought…”It sounds like Darwin’s theory of evolution.” Man always comes up with some theory that excludes God from reality…evolution means that mankind, in the end, doesn’t have to answer to any God since man is just the outcome of a cosmic accident, and you are a fool if you don’t accept the “theory.” The zealous “respect your head, don’t reveal things that should be kept secret” theory is along the same lines–and they make it sound like it is the Godly thing to do and THAT mostly through coercion and collusion, when Paul gave us the example in 1 Corinthians of how we should really deal with those that sin…and that is NOT to make them a poster child for the Godly home. In the end, those who tell us to be quiet and take it over and over again are really saying that they don’t want to deal with the problem as God would have them do or have to answer to God, the evolution of religiosity.
Well said, Laurie. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you.
That is exactly what happens.
Hi Marcie, welcome to the blog! 🙂
Oh my, I’m in a rush but have both positive and negatives to state so will attempt to write later, however, I’m looking forward to hearing from others; men and women. Great topic.
Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 are Scriptures that depict godly women. It always amazes me, when one or two Scriptures out of the entire 66 books of the Bible, are used to say, “here is your box, now stay in it”. The Scripture is the Scripture and we heed it, always, as God lovers. But using those two sections to maintain abusive or adulterous marriages, is not using the Bible rightly. I do believe that the expounding and adding to these verses that has come through the headship/submission Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 Women camps, has caused great harm to many women. God loves women and women are not to be oppressed or treated as less. They are equal to their husbands in God’s eyes and there is no partiality shown by God. They have differing roles to play, but nowhere does God say that those differences give special rights to the husband (or to the wife).
We are never to obey authority, that is out of line with Scripture; is self-seeking or arrogant; is abusive; or leads us into sin or confusion. In fact, when a leader (no matter which kind – husband, pastor, church leaders) seeks to use authority in a wrong fashion, we better not follow, because they no longer have godly authority! We would simply be following that person’s own direction. The only way someone can maintain their God-given authority, is to not misuse or abuse it! So, when/if they do, you can be assured, that they actually no longer have any authority and you are then following someone who has no authority, to whatever place they may lead you. When a husband abuses his wife, he has lost his God-given authority. When a pastor abuses the sheep, he has likewise lost his. We dare not submit in these cases. Of course, I am not saying to become a rebel. This is why we so desperately need leaders who have been given by God, rightful interpretation and application of the Scriptures.
I am seeing a pattern, of women in abusive marriages, turning to these movements in order to try to save and rectify their marriages, one of which was I. I see women seeking out how to be better wives through these avenues, most likely because they feel so much at fault for the abuse. These groups are often so detrimental, because they do not allow the woman to actually find her true place in Christ, but instead bind her even further into the evil she already lives in, by misusing the Scriptures to wrongly hold her to her abuser, blame her and make her the focus. This camp seems to teach, that the husband is so exalted over the wife, that even when he abuses, he must be right in doing so. How horrific. They also have their own interpretation and application of those Scriptures, and often make demands that the woman follow their applications, instead of leaving her to seek out God’s application for her own life, of those passages. Honestly, most of these faulty applications probably stem from the sin that other wives are dealing with in their own husbands. The Scriptures were not designed to be used to abuse or oppress anyone.
However, having said that, I have to say that I also see much of this “no divorce for any cause” and holding abusive marriages together, being done by other Churches, who do not hold to the strict teachings of the Titus 2/Proverbs 31 woman and expound on the same. That is not to say that those Churches do not believe those Scriptures or abide by and practice them, but they do not have that patriarch focus of headship/submission. They believe and practice the same, but not in an idolatrous way like the other camps do. So, I think there is just an overall misunderstanding and misuse of the Scriptures when it comes to this area. I think that is what we are in the process of trying to change and get right here at ACFJ, huh? Hopefully, the work being done here, will lead to the rightful interpretation and application of these Scriptures in other places, and then the use of them to free the abused and oppressed, instead of binding them to evil.
IamMyBeloved’s, thank you for your thoughts. I completely agree with you! It’s very nice to meet you!
Why was it taught that if you divorced you would go to hell? What was the theology of that?
they get there a couple different ways. Sometimes it’s the idea that if you knowingly and un-repentedly sin (get a divorce, in their twisted view) – then you must not be regenerate. But sometimes, like in Piper’s theology, divorce can be the “unpardonable sin” depending on if you hold the permanence view. There might be other ways this is taught, but the theology behind it is always shaky.
Speaking for myself, I believe it is a convoluted type of thinking– if divorce is sin and you willfully sin, then there is no sacrifice. In other words, its one thing to commit sin sometimes, here and there, by accident but, sitting down, weighing the pros and cons and choosing to do something you know is sin, then you are not covered.
There is no theology, right or wrong, to that one. Its just the fruit of lots of bad teaching piled one of top of the other holding you in a prison of your own love for Christ.
The thing that gets confusing here is the question that requires answering. How in the world, is a woman guilty of divorcing her abusive or adulterous spouse, and going to hell for it, but the abusive cheating man just has to say he is sorry, repeatedly for decades? None of that makes sense. Repentance means you have turned the other, opposite way.
Telling a woman that she is going to hell for divorcing her spouse on biblical grounds, is legalism at its finest. Once again, they are here trying to make us earn our Salvation by works. Why is the spouse not told he is going to hell for abusing or cheating, but the woman is, because she took the Scriptures God gave to her, and applied them, rightly to her life? No one likes divorce. The Word has to fit from beginning to end and misusing these passages this way, is just poor theology, doctrine and shepherding.
Ida Mae, as one writer to another I just have to say I LOVE that paragraph.
No one actually told me I’d go to hell if I divorced. I just felt that way because I was told I’d be living in sin, especially if I remarried. I know a Christian should never feel that they are going to hell because they sin because Christ paid it all, but because I was constantly torn between doing what I thought was right (staying married) and what was supposedly wrong (getting divorced) I often questioned my own salvation.
Schematic: God hates divorce…divorce is adultery…no adulterer has any part in the kingdom.
They miss it that, because of societal norms and the fact that women were not allowed to own property but must be “covered” by a husband, when a man put away his wife he caused her-forced her-to commit adultery. She had to get remarried in order to survive, but if she did so, she was going to hell. Just can’t win.
BIT – I’ve never heard anyone actually say or teach that divorce will land one in Hell. However, I can see how one would arrive at that (or a similar) conclusion from the divorce mythology commonly taught in churches. Note I call it mythology, not theology. The mythology has little biblical basis, but lots of biblical references plucked out of context.
It starts with the false assumption that “divorce is sin” and “God hates divorce.” It then goes on to equate divorce with adultery…not the single act of divorce but the ongoing state of remaining divorced. So, divorce is falsely seen as an ongoing state of sinful rebellion against God.
Then, it’s nicely capped with a poorly substaniated policy that people who have divorced are disqualified from ever holding church leadership positions. This edict provides a basis for always remembering who has divorced and never letting it go, no matter how much time passes or what other life events transpire.
Put it all together and divorce becomes the one unforgivable sin within many churches. Any other sin can be repented, forgiven, and forgotten. Not so with divorce…it is always remembered and always held against the person.
Add to that the many sermons falsely proclaiming “God hates divorce!” and “Divorce is not an option for a Christian!” And it is easy to acquire the perception that a divorce moves someone from being an object of God’s love to being an object of His wrath. And, in some ways, these unspoken conclusions are even more powerful for being unspoken. If they were voiced, they could be exposed as false. By remaining unspoken conclusions to which the false teachings logically lead, they remain unchallenged and retain their deceptive power.
In my book, “So You are a Believer Who has been through Divorce” I use a mythbuster approach to address the various myths supporting this biblically unsubstantiated divorce mythology that is so prevalent in church culture: So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce… [*Affiliate link]
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
I married my husband before we were Christians. My view was if it didnt work I would leave him and get divorced. I didn’t have a problem with that. We became Christians and went to a fundamentalist church where divorce and remarriage were frowned upon. My husband is very very against it. He gets very angry about this subject. So it has been so entrenched in me that I must endure my marriage,as it is Gods will for my life. If I seperate and divorce I am less of a Christian, if I remarry I am backslidden and in adultery. This is what my church unspokenly taught…very rarely preached but many actions in situations spoke a thousand words.
Exactly!!! No one ever told me that I’d go to hell if I divorced the abuser, but they sure didn’t reassure me that I wouldn’t.
What Joe said 🙂
not the single act of divorce but the ongoing state of remaining divorced. So, divorce is falsely seen as an ongoing state of sinful rebellion against God.
Put it all together and divorce becomes the one unforgivable sin within many churches. Any other sin can be repented, forgiven, and forgotten. Not so with divorce…it is always remembered and always held against the person.
And, in some ways, these unspoken conclusions are even more powerful for being unspoken.
OK. I think this sums it up for me. I can see how all of these happen. It seems kind of odd that if someone believed something like divorce were to cost you your salvation, that isn’t spoken of openly or stated in so many words. It seems to me pastors who think this have an obligation to say so in so many words and not leave it up to mental math. That strikes me as being irresponsible. I think of that verse about the watchman on the wall from Ezekiel 33:6, “But his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” If they really thought people would go to hell for divorcing then they should come out and say so in so many words. And if not, then they should comfort those who have divorced. Yet the divorced are left with this impression nonetheless that it does land them in hell even though it only comes from pulling hints and associations out of the fog.
But it is very telling no one actually says this. That tells me the Spirit does not witness to it and they don’t say it because they can’t. And they can’t because it isn’t true. And if it isn’t true….
Well, I think I’ll just follow their lead and leave the rest unsaid. Let them do their own mental math.
I totally hear you and was exactly the same. Thanks for this word of encouragement. Now, the scales are falling from my eyes and im seeing things. Im still in my marriage but as the weeks are going by I can see that God is at work In me.
And Yes! He is a very faithful friend 🙂
“. . . these unspoken conclusions are even more powerful for being unspoken. If they were voiced, they could be exposed as false. By remaining unspoken conclusions to which the false teachings logically lead, they remain unchallenged and retain their deceptive power.”
Thanks everybody for your responses. I see this idea is fairly wide spread. 😦
Yes, entirely too widespread… 😦
For me, personally, I didn’t see divorce as condemning someone to Hell, but I did see it as permanently condemning someone to a sort-of second-class Christian status…someone who had failed so horribly and irresponsibly that they could never again be entrusted with anything of importance…whose children were doomed to a second-class high-risk raising…who should never remarry and if they did remarry would almost certainly divorce again…who must never be given any form of responsibility in the church…
I would never have said that someone who had divorced was a second-class Christian. If someone had asked if that’s what I believed I would have said no. I had never even thought it thru enough to realize that was my perception. It was simply the overall impression and logical conclusion based on what I had heard preached and the attitudes expressed by others within the church.
But when I found myself facing divorce, this was how I felt…as though I was facing the very real possibility of permanently losing God’s favor and being condemned to a second-class Christian status.
Thankfully, I had deep enough roots and enough understanding of God’s heart to perceive the falseness of this perspective…to realize that there cannot be any such thing as a second-class Christian…to understand that since we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, not of works, that such a thing is impossible. And as the Holy Spirit continually spoke His love to me, He led me past the divorce mythology to see the complete lack of biblical basis for the myths.
He is such a faithful friend! 🙂
Dorothy McGuire’s “The Challenge of Christian Womanhood” anyone? I understand it’s still out there under a slightly different name.
I’ve been a part of two “Titus 2/Proverbs 31” groups and have many friends who adhere (or try) to such teachings. I believed much of it myself which is what kept me bound in a loveless, abusive, sham of a marriage for too many years. It was very, very hard to break free because most of my Christian friends, my pastors, and counselors, and my own misunderstanding of scripture, all pushed me to “stay and pray.” I was convinced that the only hell worse than what I was living on this earth was the hell in which I was going to burn if I left my anti-husband.
When you are in an abusive relationship with a “mental bully” who uses lies, intimidation, threats, accusations, crazy-making, and other abusive tactics to keep you confused and compliant, AND you have all of your Christian friends, your pastors, and your counselor admonishing you continually that you must forgive, pray, suffer and endure for Christ, the fog becomes as thick as mud, and you suffocate due to the constant oppression.
It still astonishes me that I ever broke free, and Barbara, your book was a BIG part of what delivered me. I will always be grateful.
Fiftyandfree, thank you for your comment and nice to meet you. I was convinced that my husband was a sort of “thorn in my flesh.” I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that with him around I could never completely please God out of my own performance. I could not fully please him because the bar was too high, and if I chose to only obey God’s Word, not only would I be persecuted by him who was my head, but it would just be bad for me, with everything going against me. I recall days that I just prayed: “Lord, please come back soon!” I just couldn’t wait. I understood I wasn’t going to hell because of Jesus but God eventually showed me that what I was “sewing” to please my husband, were not sovereign seeds that would miraculously become good fruit for me and the children and correction for him, rather I would reap corruption in my marriage and my children.
Slightly off topic, but Rachel Held Evans in her book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” weighs in on the misuse of Proverbs 31. She goes to how it is interpreted by contemporary Jewish culture. It is not used as a clobber verse, but more of a celebration of a wife’s gifts. Not used to hammer women down, but to lift them up. A recommended book.
Not off topic to point to a positive input concerning Proverbs 31. That chapter talks up the qualities of a very astute and strong female, not a piece of property wife. Thanks, LorenHaas.
Thanks Loren. I’ve not read Evans’ book yet but your recommendation has bumped it up my list a bit.
Barnasbasintraining I can only speak for myself…I was taught if you divorced your husband then surely you must not be a Christian to begin with, therefore you are going to hell. A seriously flawed teaching to say the least!!! I was under that belief for a very long time, and to my absolute shame passed that onto other women who were struggling in their marriage. ugh! I am so thankful for forgiveness. Thankfully I started thinking for myself, studied scripture, got help and am on the path to healing.
I have lived this for years… seeking to attain to the Proverbs 31 woman and Titus 2. There was a magazine that our church made available (to married woman only), a christian magazine written in the USA. This book promoted homeschooling, having as many babies as God intended you to have, making your own bread, submission, husband being the head of the home the list goes on.
I became a christian in my early 20’s. I was a woman of the world, very much. When we started attending this fundamentalist christian church I learnt very quickly that I had to lengthen my skirts, not to look on the outward appearance, not to be a ‘strong’ woman (thats really having an opinion) and many other things. I was screwed up from my background wanting to do the right thing, believing everything that came from the pulpit.
I stopped work, had babies.. lots of them, became a housewife that had to be an example to the younger woman. This was an expectation of me from the Pastor’s. I allowed my husband to lecture me, and a sat there and took alot of the time, thinking that I deserved it.
I have stayed in my marriage for lots and lots of reasons. Divorcing and going to hell for it has always been a fear of mine too (my husband is so anti anyone that divorces, runs off with another man/woman) I have been brainwashed in many ways… Leaving my husband, leaving my fundamental church, stopping homeschooling, not having anymore babies have been some of the fears I have had (stepping out of the will of God) that I would lose my salvation. The ministry I was under for many many years has caused so much damage and I have so much work to do to undo so much of it.
I actually could write so much about this as it has caused so much pain and hardship in my life.
Oh WOW! Thank you Barbara, 😀 Beautifully done! I must say I didn’t think you could tackle the tough assignment of sorting through my unintelligible, emotional, and disorganized ramblings, but you came, you saw, and you conquered. Good job! :}
YES! This needs to be examined even further because Titus 2 is a huge movement that I was involved with for 10 years until the Lord opened my eyes.
I was involved in an unequally yoked marriage. My husband is a professing Christian now but it’s still no picnic. That is a whole other comment. I digress…
I became good friends with the leader of our local “Titus 2 Bible Study” and she and I went to a “Women Disciplining Women” conference when I heard Elyse Fitzpatrick speak. She mentioned that the many lists that Apostle Paul wrote (like in Titus 2:3-5) are indicative and not imperative because it is followed by gospel truth in Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,”.
This hit me right between the eyes. All my works at being a good “Titus 2 Woman” by using the magic “Titus 2 Principles” (AKA magic formula) were wearing me down because it came from my flesh. HELLO…LIGHTS ON!
The leader that I was with at the conference did not like Fitzpatrick’s teaching which I thought was strange. After understanding doctrine I realized that the foundation for Titus 2 “ministries” were very works based and idolatrous. That can even be more devastating for a woman whose marriage is falling apart in spite of all of her efforts.
As I’ve studied the context of the whole book of Titus 2, it is a basic blueprint for the organization of a church. Most Titus 2 Bible Studies are inter-denominational/parachurch. which seems to be a paradox. Also, I don’t believe the context of Titus 2 for women is one woman in a large group. From looking at the text, it is singular in nature; one older woman with a younger woman. One on one discipleship which has always been my concern and experience of what is lacking in the church as a whole.
These T2 Bible studies are heavy law. In general they teach if the wife does the principles in Titus 2, it is a formula to a good marriage. The husband will be happier and the home will transform.
They also discourages time in other Bible studies, because learning and relearning T2 should be the main focus of our lives. I believed this for a long time and it kept me in a immature state because I was over focused on my marriage and not learning on who God is. My perspective of marriage really changed after I removed myself from this T2 inclusive philosophy, to learning doctrine which in turn made me fear the Lord, which is the beginning of all knowledge.
The T2 study I was in promotes Debi Pearl’s book in small group hour, “Created to be His Helpmeet” and I read and reread that book. It ended up frustrating me because I couldn’t do the principles stated on a consistent bases. I put the book away for a few years. Recently I took it out and was shocked at all of the lack of balance of law and grace.
This needs to be exposed further as I said. There are some older women out there who desire to be the queen of a flock under the guise of helping other women. Many of these groups also have no accountability because they refuse to come under elder-ship at any church.
That is my rant for today. I’ve been listening to your sermon series Jeff on “Domestic Violence and Abuse” on Sermon Audio. It really is a validation of what I experienced when everyone else brushed it under the rug.
David Instone-Brewer addresses the Titus 2 writings beautifully. Worth the read.
Oy…Debbie Pearl’s book on being a help meet. I burned mine when I read the part about how the woman is too busy serving her family to have a relationship with Jesus, so she should just coast on her hubby’s coattails…God understands. NOT! Martha teaching, when Jesus said that Mary chose the better part, and that WOULD NOT be taken from her.
every time I read something from the “wisdom” of Mrs. Pearl, I feel like burning something. ha ha I need to order a stack of her books just to burn them in the fireplace when I’m angry. 🙂
Thank you so much for this, Denise. I didn’t know that some T2 groups actually discourage women from doing other Bible studies. What a perfect setup for indoctrination and mind control!
The queen of the flock — yeah. One older woman I know relishes that role, leading the women’s Bible study (not a Titus2 ministry just a generic ladies Bible study at a local church). She wears an almost-perpetual sternly furrowed brow, and I sense that every single thing she does is motivated by her Sense of Duty which entirely lacks warmth. She intimidates all the other women in the church who could otherwise provide leadership in the women’s ministries. They shrivel under her glare.
Sounds like turn of the century “duty to the widow and orphan” mindset, where they would “help” but did it resentfully and often cruelly. It is like “point system.” It doesnt matter where your heart is, you get points for putting in the time. God says He looks at the heart. A homebound person who fervently WANTS to be out helping others but can only stay home and pray is of much more relevance to kingdom work than the “queen of Bible study” is. I’m not saying all people who are in leadership only care about themselves and want to control others and be uplifted, but since my eyes have been opened here, I have seen WAY too many that do. Without ACFJ, I would still be “something doesnt feel quite right but I’m too good of a Christian to say anything and besides, I’m probably wrong anyway” mindset. Now I struggle with thinking ANYONE is sincere. Not sure how to find the middle ground.
Hi Debby, you said
My article Unhelpful Comments by Well-Meaning People might help you a bit. Some people are well-meaning but just have sub-biblical ideas because there is so much poor teaching in the church. Others are controllers, and will not jettison their sub-biblical ideas because those ideas help them to control people. In figuring out who is in which group, I find it helpful to challenge them with polite assertiveness to see how they respond when I point out that their ideas may in fact be sub-biblical and hurtful to victims of abuse. The way they respond to my challenges tells me a lot.
Wow, yeah I hear you Denise. I experienced something very similar. I also was in an unequally yoked marriage. My husband considers himself a Christian but not a religious one. He has a dominant personality and is a workaholic. I have been heavily influenced by patriarchy and heaped spiritual abuse upon myself which created further abuse by my husband and I became trapped. It is really nice to finally meat bloggers who have experienced this. My former blogging friends did not support me for exposing it. I have been writing about my experience and my findings over at http://loverofjesusmylord.blogspot.com. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]
Oops I made it sound like i am no longer married to him but it’s because now he is trying to be a better Christian and I am being less religious (patriarchy) and I told him I am now leaning on equality and building boundaries. So I don’t really feel like my husband is saved or born-again. He says he believes spirituality is private. He has certainly given me reasons to doubt he is a true Christian but he is trying to be a better one.
I get devotionals in my email from Proverbs 31 Ministries and some are written by divorced women. I didn’t know there were groups other than that.
Proverbs 31–Seriously, do you know anyone who can live up to that. She is the PERFECT woman. We can all aim high, but I for one am never going to get there.
Brenda R, Who can find a virtuous woman? Proverbs 31:10… She is too hard to find. I am persuaded that only through Christ alone can we be seen as that perfect woman in God’s eyes. She could be a symbol of Christ’s righteous life in a female sense. That is what I have concluded personally.
I have gotten the magazine for Proverbs 31 ministries and they seem really good. I think one of the writers are married to one of the makers of “Veggie Tales.” Also, Lisa Terkherst (President of Proverbs 31 Ministries) seemed to be very thoughtful and empathic with her encouragement. This is an example of an article that left me impressed When Your Husband Has Given Up [Internet Archive link]/. It is nothing like what I had been hearing among the blogosphere.
GF Mom, That is what I was trying to get at although poorly. The only Proverbs 31 ministries that I had contact with seemed to be alright. I know at least 2 of the writers are divorced and not apologizing for it. Lysa TerKerst is a hoot and a wonderful writer. I do skip over the daily letters that are sent out that revolve around children as mine are all grown, but for the most part I don’t get the sense that they are the fire and brimstone for those who get a divorce ministry. I didn’t know there were Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 local groups. I have never run into one. By the sounds of many accounts here I’m glad I didn’t. Adding insult to the already brain washing that I had had would have been too much. That is why I was confused about Proverbs 31. I have done several of their Bible studies that were good and couldn’t figure out where there was any twisted scripture with them.
I am reading this older article today and ran across this. Lysa Terkeurst, the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, has just written a blog post (13 June 2017) titled Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God [Internet Archive link]. She says she has decided to divorce her husband because of his persistent adultery and substance abuse.
Thanks for this Lea. I added a link to your comment and edited the wording a bit for clarity.
When I was first saved, I received much positive input from the Titus 2 – Proverbs 31 ministries. As a farm gal, I grew up with my mother being available when I came home from school. She was a faithful, hardworking woman and not appreciated nearly as much as she should have been by my father, me and my siblings. She was a Proverbs 31 woman so when the Lord saved me and I repented of my “free-spirited” ways, one of the issues that had to change was submitting to authority. A woman in my circumstances, desiring to please the Lord soaks up Titus 2 type ministries because it appears to be so Biblical!
As the years fly by all too quickly and the cycle of strife within marriage and the church wears you down; you begin to question whether you are being rebellious? I found myself inwardly berating myself but continuing on because even in studying the sovereignty of God I felt that, “Well, obviously the Lord has me in these trying circumstances to either test me, grow me, or whatever!” I kept praying, “Lord, you know I love you. This all seems so wrong. Am I doing something to encourage this sin?”
Your emotions become raw as you realize you are living “a lie”. Attempting to exemplify the perfect “family” unit. So much rests on the Titus 2 woman to hide everyone’s sins.
I believe many of these ministries start off with the best of intentions but eventually become “leadership heavy” and thus, un-Biblical.
All the comments have reflected much truth. Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 … both are from the infallible Word. Man has a way of distorting Scripture. We need true shepherd / teachers within our churches. We must all be accountable to “the one another’s” of Scripture. Husbands and wives loving as Christ loved. Believers loving as Christ loved. It is from here that true discipleship for both genders takes place.
Hmm, do we dare start a thread concerning “Iron Sharpens Iron” ministries or “Promise Keepers”??
I haven’t heard of a ministry called “Iron Sharpens Iron”.
I’ve heard of Promise Keepers and know it was pretty showy but like many shooting stars in the para-church movement it burned up and died. I have the feeling that quite a number of discernment ministries have already pointed out the errors and imbalances of Promise Keepers. Might be an assumption on my part. Since it is now defunct, I think it might not be so important to critique it. But I’m willing to be persuaded if you can put a good case 🙂
Promise Keepers is still making “promises”. Just the mention of this ministry’s name brings a sting to my being. During my husband’s first profession of Christian faith and as we home schooled; I encouraged him to partake of a Promise Keepers event. Considering the remoteness of our community, this was a major decision as several men made provision to go. Yes, it was emotional and he came back somewhat exhilarated but Long-story-made-Short … the heart was never changed. AND several months ago another woman insisted that my husband is still “saved”. The fact that he attended Promise Keepers was proof for her. She felt that we have received “bad teaching” to think that my husband is not truly saved. I have discovered that “all the Christians” insisting that my husband is saved will not come and speak to him face-to-face. NOTE: when I use the term “another woman” … it is amazing at how many churched women, young and old, come to the defence my husband’s character!
I haven’t had a chance to investigate the “Iron Sharpens Iron” ministry but it is interesting to note that their National Director, Brian Doyle “… joined the staff of Promise Keepers as their New England Area Manager. He served in this capacity until 2000, when PK centralized all staff to Denver. Brian was then invited by Vision New England to initiate and direct their new Men’s Ministries focus. The goal of this ministry was to equip local churches to train men for spiritual leadership in their homes, churches and communities. In 2007 this ministry became IRON SHARPENS IRON.” Iron Sharpens Iron – profiles [Internet Archive link]
Promise Keepers [Internet Archive link]
Iron Sharpens Iron [Internet Archive link]
All I know is that the infallible Word of God remains true. Men and women can partake of different ministries but only a humble and contrite heart will bow before the Lord & Saviour, Jesus Christ. My struggle comes from the fact that our now adult children have been greatly affected by a poisoned marriage. A marriage which had me desiring to be a Proverbs 31 woman but my husband being a false “promise keeper”. There was much arguing as I pleaded that something had to change. One daughter actually blamed me for the fact that “they, as children, heard more than what they needed to” … I am bewildered as my daughters and son-in-laws place the burden on me, overlooking the fact that the extreme tension was a result of the husband/father’s sin. I am now told to just leave the past behind and move on, however, I must be very careful about speaking of Christianity, home education, etc. lest I receive cold stares or just am ignored. Sorry for rambling … there is so much more; like the in-laws encouraging secrecy ….
We women look for affirmation, “Am I doin’ it right?” which we are usually not getting from home. Groups like these, of which I have been a part, are not places where we are free to tell, but rather free to listen, and compare (which is NOT wise-Jeff C!). It’s like the emperor’s new clothes, only when someone speaks out about the unclothed state of the emperor, the participants stone such a one with theologies and traditions, rather than recognize the truth, “the emperor is naked.” And the only one held to any accountability is the one who told the truth.
I searched for Lysa Terkeurst and found this FOTF article: Divorce: Is it the answer? [Internet Archive link]
So, according to the author of this article, the only permissible reason for divorce is physical abuse; and even then, it’s a crime compared to adultery. 😦
This makes me sad that Lysa said such things. I don’t know where she came up with that statement, but my marriage was the death, the divorce has been bringing me back to life. Except for yesterday, I really went through a Lord please take me home period.
I hope today is going better for you, Brenda R! ❤
Everything you say resonates so personally. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It comforts me to see that my feeling like a second class Christian is not unusual among divorced Christians. Before my God I no longer feel that way (most of the time 😉 but among others, even some friends, and even among some of my Christian friends, I still do.
The notion that divorce is always wrong stings, and it stings badly.
Combine this with the fact that being divorced puts you in a social class which can often make you feel like an outsider. Your married friends are busy with their families and have very little time for you. Your single friends are busy dating, or doing what single, childless folks do. It’s a very lonely place to be.
“The notion that divorce is always wrong stings, and it stings badly.”
Yes, it does! However, it stings less with time and reassurance from the Holy Spirit. The more God speaks His love to me the less other’s misperceptions bother me.
Praying for you, this morning!
I haven’t been involved with these groups directly. But I do receive daily updates from the Proverbs 31 group on Facebook. Some of the stuff I find helpful. However, as a new Christian, sometimes I fall into a trap and believe everything they write and teach. And some of the stuff doesn’t feel right. Now I know not to accept everything blindly, particularly if it doesn’t feel right. Just recently, Proverbs 31 actually had Stormie Omartian write a devotion:
The Three-Word Prayer God Loves [Internet Archive link]
I remember reading something similar in Stormie’s book “The power of a praying wife” and feeling terrible. The three word prayer: “Just change me Lord,” left me feeling like I had to pray to God to somehow change me so I wouldn’t get abused. I then felt it must be my fault for being abused. Anyway, I now know Stormies’ advice is not great for those experiencing domestic violence (thanks to Barbara Roberts and this site). But for women reading this devotion on Proverbs 31, they may not be aware. So it could be dangerous for them. So I can certainly see how some of the stuff they teach in these groups can be wrong and dangerous for women married to abusive husbands.
Crossroads, I am becoming more and more disenchanted with Proverbs 31 since this topic came up. I just read Stormie’s story and I suppose if your only problem is that you get angry when your husband leaves his socks on the bedroom floor or doesn’t fold towels the way you would her asking God to change her would be in good order. I tried that course of action for several years while being verbally abused and having objects thrown at me for whatever I had done or said that usually wasn’t me at all but his twisted mind coming up with accusations against me. Praying to change me or him did not change anything in my marriage. He would have had to repent, pray for forgiveness and become a new man. I was not the problem. Obviously, since I am a human I have faults. I didn’t like it when X left his socks on the bedroom floor and he didn’t fold towels the way I liked. He wouldn’t know it though because I made it a non issue. I picked up the socks and refolded the towels. Reading John Piper and listening to a pastor who said we just have to get him saved was my downfall. I believed that I only had to worry about my half of the marriage. I finally realized half of a marriage was not a marriage at all and that I must sift through what the “experts” were telling me. They write as if they have direct line of communication with God for all people and they don’t. God gave each of us a direct line and he is on call for each of us 24/7. What a big, powerful, wonderful God we have. Like you I find somethings helpful from the emails I get from Proverbs 31 and recently did a bible study written by Renee Swopes that was quite comforting for me. I have had others that went in my burn this book list.
I am reposting this comment here if you don’t mind
I have a mothering manual from the fairly prominent “Above Rubies” ministry that says in the intro that the contents in the manual = SOUND DOCTRINE, and it’s a book about having power in mothering. (I am paraphrasing). Mrs. C. explains according to Titus 2:2-5 that older women are commanded to teach younger women specifically about purity, being a wife, mother, and homemaker. And not doing so maligns the Word of God. She explains they are not called the talk about the tenets of the faith with younger women. Let’s unpack and dissect this scripture, shall we?
hmm… this doesn’t sound like they have to keep teaching only to the sphere of the home specifically.
But when they expound on unequally-yoked marriage hierarchal authority (not in this manual, but in other teachings) over the children, for example, they can only become as “pure” as daddy can stand.
Emphasis mine obviously.
So what I gather is they are teaching that the home is the only sphere of influence for all older women that are reverent, sober and not slanderers (and slandering is usually defined as talking about the husband in a negative way). And any woman that teaches outside of that, even the great doctrines of our faith, is maligning the Word of God.
I know this ministry well. This is the minstry I was referring to in an earlier comment.
loves6, I was reading your comment. I shuddered because I remember borrowing that conviction about the long skirts to the ridicule of my husband. The more modest I dressed, the more embarrassed of me he was. He seemed to prefer to flaunt me as a trophy in front of people so I felt afraid he could be tempted to cheat if I didn’t dress a little more to his taste. We have 5 children together and I see that it became like a sort of dark age because for one thing theres hardly time to study the Bible in depth. You almost have to have it spoon fed to you because if you read it and apply it, even the New Testament, it’s legalism, if you had a husband like mine. But on the other hand, I don’t think I could stand him being religious as his mother religiously abused him badly in hypocrisy through his childhood and they went to a “Christian” cult. I think we’re done with 5 babies and I’m putting them into public school soon at least for a short time while I get professional help. I was gathering the magazines to that ministry for maybe nine years. I got saved 12 years ago. I was also deceived that limiting the family was a “no-no” as was divorce but not anymore.
GF Mom, The entire “urging the younger women to love their husbands and children” thing amazes me. Shouldn’t that go without saying. In a good Christian marriage why would she need urging? Wouldn’t it come naturally, of course until the abuse starts and everything is turned upside down. At that point we find out the abuser wasn’t really a Christian at all, but a wolf lurking about until time to make his move. My first marriage was what I thought would be a good Christian marriage until I found out about his constant adultery. But when first married, I needed no urging to love my husband or my children. It was just there. I loved him until he informed me that he had no intention of living his life any other way and left. I had no choice but to get over it. But, I have never stopped loving my children, even when that meant issuing consequences.
I have been told over and over again that Love is a choice not an emotion and you can choose to love your husband no matter what. I imagined myself on one of those days when objects were flying from x’s hand towards me and saying I love you no matter what. That just really didn’t work for me.
Brenda R, I agree it does come naturally and when things got perplexing in my marriage I tried to love him with the 1 Cor 13 kind of love:
But it was not easy. I think I prayed God to help me but it wasn’t really happening for me but one time God gave him a horrible rash in his “member” because he was mistreating me when I had something that needed to heal. Then he knew God intervened for me.
But I remember times he wasn’t trying to really apologize after me getting mad at him and he would try to get all “charming” and ask me if I still loved him, appealing to my being in Christ. I would remember to define God’s love as in 1 Cor 13 in my mind and I would tell him the truth and say, “Right now I don’t. If God wants to make my love that mature may He do it but to be honest, I don’t love you right now. I just answered honestly.”
I am sorry for what you went through. My situation is hard to define in a nutshell but he only sees it when I point the behavior out and get to the root and he seems to be trying but we go through cycles because I get tired and give over to apathy. Then God shakes me.
GF Mom, I think those verses in 1 Corinthians 13 have got to be some of the sweetest I have ever heard, and some of the hardest to adhere to. How can I keep no record of wrongs when I am being accused of infidelity on a regular basis, having things thrown at me. It is like one long event. Then I started looking at it as LOVE. Christ is LOVE. We/I am never going to fully live up to that. God keeps no record of wrongs for those who repent and I am sure that if X would have truly repented and left the old behavior behind I could have left the record behind as well. I had no problem with being patient. He could rant, rave, throw things, slam a few doors and then say we should just get a divorce. All I would say was, because we had a fight? He would calm down, and I became more and more afraid of what would happen the next time. Until one day my patience was gone. It walked out the door and the rest of me was soon behind it. I had stopped saying I love you long before that. It wasn’t true and I wasn’t going to lie to make him feel better. It has been 7 months since I left and he will still ask me if I love him yet. He has done no counseling, still accuses me of the same things or worse, now say terrible things about my kids and we are divorced. I would pretty much say the answer will forevermore be NO.
Good stuff, Brenda R, I never really looked at it (1 Cor 13) that way, and as I recall my husband didn’t really look at me after the insident.
PS GF MOM. The rash was priceless. I can just imagine the look on his face knowing that your God had intervened.
We have a post on this blog called What Does ‘Love Keeps No Record Of Wrongs’ Mean?
I made the correction for you Brenda!
Barb, Thank you for that. I have been told that I shouldn’t keep the 22k+ emails that I have recieved from X in the last 7 months, because I shouldn’t be keeping a record of that wrong. Myself, I saw it as evidence. I look through the old address once in a while, but have found peace in my new one. He still has my work number, but doesn’t call it much. Praise God.
Last week, I had to go by the old house to pick up things for my tax reporting. He left them on the front porch. X had put up a new front door. It was the kind with the beautiful colored glass window that I wanted several years ago, but what I got was an ugly gray plain door with a wagon wheel window at the top, because it was cheap and a “door is just a door”. I honestly believe he bought it with the intent or driving another knife in my chest. It worked for a while, and then I remembered what was on the other side of the door.
GFMom, I like your unpacking!
I like to too. I want to get better at it. 🙂
This is so affirming. Married nearly ten years, moved numerous times and went to many Reformed churches and just ached in small groups. Today I shared with my mother my angst about returning to small group tomorrow after no one in the group, not even my leaders, called or texted me over the holidays and I received and fought abuse cycle after abuse cycle. In years I opened up the last session before the break and share of the various forms of abuse (no details), and how scared I was to be alone over the holidays with my kids and him. Silence. And if I don’t go I won’t have community and I won’t be remembered. But they aren’t particularly safe either. I want to go to another church, but I’m afraid of finding the same….again. I can’t take the vacant looks if I dare to be vulnerable and I can’t take the pressure of ‘try harder’ Christianity under the guise of “grace-filled” teaching. I can’t take another book of the Bible study or vague pray prayer time. I feel like Eponine in Les Miserables. Over a year ago I came to the Church shaking in admittance of spousal abuse and intimate spousal abuse – they cried no and some are turned off by my refusal to accept the tearful episodes of “I’m sorry”coming from my husband who admits to nothing. I’m tired of hearing sermons using the name ‘abuse’ from the pulpit and yet ending said sermons with calls for us to remember our sinfulness and to forgive abusers because we have been forgiven of all our sin. No cries for abusers to “repent” and salvation, refuge and healing for the oppressed. Social justice is a buzz word and only mercy is sought, mercy for the poor abused husband whose wife outed him. Oh, and that we all walk humbly before God. I’m so hurt I can’t stop writing. Most of all I am afraid of hatred and bitterness seeping in, into this heart that used to lead a procession of worship lets into the house of God (to paraphrase scripture). I am surrounded by the fear in others and filled with myself today. I need The Holy Spirit to help me receive the words “fear not”. I need Him to make me rest today – and I don’t think its going to come by doing my small group homework.
Jenny- You know, it could very well be that your frustration and emptiness in all this soooo-typical advice abuse victims receive is really a healthy sign of your awakening to truth. I understand your fear (a healthy one) of not wanting to become bitter against the Lord, but It seems to me that the truths you are stating here are a very healthy sign that you are seeing some things more clearly. You know the abuse is ongoing. You know people don’t want to hear about it. You are coming to understand the futility of “try harder” religion and the signs of false repentance in your abuser. You are seeing the false and twisted teachings on forgiveness that are so common in our churches. It is indeed very painful to see these things, but they are truth and you are seeing them. So perhaps a way to not grow bitter is to thank the Lord for showing you that all these things are false and not of Him. You said it yourself – you need the Holy Spirit and the peace that He gives. May the Lord pour that very thing upon you.
Dear Jenny, I ache for you. I’ve been there. Thank you for being so honest about your emotions.
Jeff has replied to you with sound, Biblical wisdom. Wisdom we all need.
Jenny, I am so sorry you experienced this.
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.
Jenny I see this is your first comment on the blog. Welcome and thanks so much for pouring out your heart. Feel free to pour our your pain on this blog whenever you want. 🙂
I echo what Jeff C said: it sounds to me like you are seeing a lot of truth clearly. . . And it hurts. Especially the vacant looks from people who ought to be supporting you: Christians.
When you said you “Over a year ago I came to the Church shaking in admittance of spousal abuse and intimate spousal abuse” my heart leapt. I remember that. I want to honour you for your bravery — and for how you have refused to accept the phony repentance performance of your abuser despite pressure from your church.
Thinking about your words, it shows how ludicrous this stigma of domestic abuse victims is. You were ‘shaking in admittance of spouse abuse’ but you had not committed spouse abuse: your husband has committed it. He is the one who should be admitting it. And yet we, the victims, feel we have to ‘admit’ it as if we are admitting to having smallpox or typhoid.
Both the Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements become a form of modern-day “yeast” of the Pharisees and Saducees. At least this is the case in some unequally yoked marriages. The wife learnes to defer her conscience to the husband’s and distrust the prompting of the Holy Spirit is truly the “Right Spirit” because her spiritual head must be her husband. In my case I was persecuted by my husband and I had that false conviction that I was rebelling against my spiritual head and going against him was supposedly tantamount to rebelling against the Lord. So I became numb to his sin and the sin he wanted to raise my children in until God scared me out of it.
Husbands of abusive wives go through very similar thought processes. Whether it’s intentional or not, all the advice to just be a better husband and she’ll respond, just adds more guilt and shame to the situation. There’s a lot of good advice out there on being better husbands, and there’s a lot of good books, seminars, FB groups, etc. with some good information for husbands, but none of that is going to have an effect on a person who has no intention of changing.
I don’t think we have to stop teaching husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, but we do need to be more aware of what constitutes an abuser and understand that more love is not going to motivate them to change.
Conversely, I’m sure these groups (Titus 2 and Proverbs 31) provide some helpful information for some women, but the last thing a victim of abuse needs to hear is how much more submissive and loving they need to be.
As a complementarian, I can stipulate that we need to do a lot better job with teaching that following the leadership of a husband does not mean submitting to abuse. I’ve been thinking about how badly the evangelical church has messed up this whole abuse/divorce issue, and I was thinking about how it compares to the American Revolution.
Paul states that we are to be subject to governing authorities. And in verse 3 he says this:
One of the biggest questions that our [the American] founding fathers faced was how could they declare their independence from Britain and be in compliance with Romans 13. In the end they concluded (and I agree) that when the government no longer complied with Romans 13:3 then that government was no longer legitimate and their obligations to follow it were absolved. I would propose that Ephesians 5 and Romans 13 stand parallel in that regard.
Isn’t it interesting that we have no problem justifying a revolution in order to be free from tyranny, but a wife can’t get a divorce from an abusive husband.
I agree, Jason. 🙂 And that’s why we have a page at this blog called What Headship and Submission Do Not Mean
Yes — exactly! That’s the double standard — and those in power refuse to admit it.
I’ve pondered the same question. Most abused spouses have much more reason to divorce than the American colonists had to secede from Britain. So why do so many American pastors treat American independence as sacred while treating divorce as evil?
It’s a crazy double-standard that makes no sense.
Thanks for articulating it so well.
joepote01 and Jason Jones, I hear you and appreciate you sharing your testimonies with us and I BELIEVE YOU.
One of my aunts was an abusive spouse. When I was young I thought she exemplified the perfect wife and mother–really the perfect everything. But as I grew older and the fruits of her heart were displayed I realized she was one of the most evil people I had ever met. She was vivacious, smart (super smart!) stunningly beautiful with a flare for the dramatic, excellent cook, did all the fun things a mom of her day could do like taking the kids to the park, pool, lake, movies and dragging all the neighborhood kids who could fit into her car with her. HOW COULD SHE BE BAD, RIGHT? Because it was all a show. This woman HATED everyone including her children and husband. She played the game just long enough to train up her kids to take care of her and each other, then she proceeded to become what she really was in her heart–a promiscuous person who loved to sleep with all men and cause the most harm possible to those who were foolish enough to love her. (She considered people who were capable of loving others stupid and weak and looked on them with disdain and disgust.) Once you saw the “second act” of her performance it became obvious that the first half was the façade.
She started drinking heavily, going to bars and having sex with any man that would take her home, taking prescription drugs, going to the doctor with whatever the latest ailment she’d read about was, insisting on treatment (this was before all the accountability they have nowadays). and as a result she was milking the system for all it was worth. She then started AA and milked this system as well. The high drama, forcing her kids into AILTEEN as well as insisting everyone cater to her so as not set her off. She loved the stage provided by AA meetings so that she could put on daily performances. She used stories she’d make up as well as stories she’d stolen from other people’s real testimonies. She would have years of being “clean” until people stopped giving her the attention she thought she deserved, then she’d dive back into drugs long enough for people to once again intervene and help the kids and her, then she’d be clean for a while. In each of these clean spells she’d marry a new man. This was her pattern and her heart.
Her first husband is the only man I have ever known who I knew REALLY loved his wife. I have never met a man like this again in my lifetime and I’m so grateful that God let me see him or I may not believe that there were good men out there at all. This man did everything that he could to save his family including trying to move the family away from the temptations of the bars and drugs and provided beautiful homes in safe neighborhoods and loved his children and his wife and tried SO HARD to keep it all together. In the end he had to let it go–to divorce this woman and move one. My aunt HATED him and said he was TOO BORING! She liked the fast thrills and drugs–he loved his family and her—madly!
What’s my point? Some people–men and women- love what they are and they love evil and filth. The Bible tells us of these people in both the Old and New Testament and yet for some reason we’ve erased these valuable lessons and replaced them with the old psychology that says that all people can be fixed if we just talk it out or are better parents. No. My aunt LOVED WHAT SHE WAS AND LOVED HURTING PEOPLE. This was her heart and it was only through people who taught that all can be saved or helped that kept us from staying away from her and not protecting ourselves from her and people like her–as God’s Word tells us to do–that actually put us and kept us in danger.
My aunt was a psychopath. Later in her life–after her children were destroyed and grown up and for their own safety had no relationship with her–she was finally diagnosed. Not one person in all the years of the kids being under her authority did ANYONE put the blame on my aunt or try to educate the family about this personality disorder. Even today […] it still seems like the powers that be (church and society) will try to force everyone AROUND this person to acclimate themselves TO the evil one rather than straight-up forewarning us that these people exist (in droves) and that any people who are intimately involved with them WILL be harmed by them.
So thank you joepote01 and Jason Jones for continuing to come here and comment and show us that there are men with a heart for the Lord who have been harmed by evil. It does seem like it is much harder for men to speak about this because men are told to be this stoic pillar of strength, yet we know from God’s Word that Jesus–who was God–was sweet-hearted and kind and “weak” enough to love women and men and that his heart was broken by the evil they spewed out. I know this post doesn’t necessarily fit with what is being addressed here but I wanted to say thank you. Thank you!
Thank you, Anonymous, for understanding!
The woman I was married to in my first marriage had much in common with your aunt.
Anonymous-I appreciate this, it’s such a clear picture of a women abuser. There were one or two women in my extended family like this too. I used to wonder why no-one wanted anything to do with them, but it’s only too obvious now.
Such groups need to offer more support for abused women instead of trying to convince them they can change their abusers by being totally obedient. Abusers virtually never change no matter what.
Hi Debbie, I’m not sure what you mean by “Such groups did to offer…” Was it perhaps a typo? Can you please clarify? Thanks!
That’s a typo I need to fix.
The word did in that sentence should be replaced with the word need.
As you requested, I have edited your earlier comment and changed the word “did” to the word “need”.