Total Depravity Of . . . The Saints?
the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25 ESV)
When victims of domestic abuse disclose to a pastor that their mate is abusive, some pastors respond like this: “Total depravity means you are a sinner just like your spouse. So take your eyes off your partner’s sin, and examine your own sin!”
Not only is this pastoral response unbiblical, it’s also extremely confusing and hurtful to the victim of abuse. We call it a type of ‘sin leveling’ — the idea that all sins are equally heinous in the sight of God. I previously addressed the erroneous doctrine of sin leveling in my Levite’s Concubine video, and Jeff Crippen addressed it in his post Not All Sinners Are The Same. I’m offering today’s post in the hope that it will be one more help to our readers on their journey from being entrapped in false doctrine to knowing their freedom in Christ.
One of our aims at this blog is to dispel from the farthest recesses of a survivor’s mind the idea that she is just as wicked as her abuser. False guilt and shame are impediments to the survivor’s path out of abuse and into recovery . . . and to advocacy for those who are still trapped. But Jesus came to set the captives free. His law is the law of liberty, as the above quote from the James shows. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Th article below, by Joel Taylor [Internet Archive link], was first published at Joel’s blog 5ptsalt.com [Internet Archive link]. The original title was Matt Chandler: Total Depravity of…The Saints? [Internet Archive link] It was first published on December 17, 2011. We are republishing it with Joel’s permission. Thank you Joel.
According to many Christians these days, Christians are wicked. Now, it is one thing to describe the Christian as being able to fall into sin, but according to Scripture, the wicked live there, they are enemies of God and they will not be in heaven.
Matt Chandler in the video below[*] declares himself as wicked. Such words seem to contradict Biblical teaching.
“In this moment, I am a wicked sinner, redeemed by the blood of Christ.”
Other well known conference speakers and preachers also teach the same in what can easily be labeled the doctrine of the total depravity of the saints. It is a doctrine not found in Scripture. It certainly is not the position of historical Christianity:
Jonathan Edwards on the wicked [Internet Archive link]:
The design of heaven is unsuitable to them. The design of God in making heaven was, that it might be a place of holy habitation, for the reward of the righteous, and not an habitation for wicked men. It would greatly reflect on the wisdom of God to dispose of wicked men there; for it would be the greatest confusion. But God is not the author of confusion, I Corinthians xiv. 33. It would be contrary to the holiness of God, to take wicked men so near to himself into his glorious presence, to dwell forever in that part of the creation which is, as it were, his own palace, and to sit at his table. We read in Psalm v. 4. “Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee.” Therefore it would doubtless be impossible that the end of the existence of wicked men should be in any wise answered by the placing of them in heaven.
It may be objected that in Romans 7:24, the Apostle Paul calls himself ‘wretched’ and indeed he does – Wretched man that I am!
However, ‘wretched’ is not ‘wicked’. The word for wretched in Romans 7:24 is talaipōros, which is one who is enduring trials, afflicted. It comes from two base words meaning enduring or under weight, bearing a test. Apostle Paul in that passage, is not a ‘wicked’ man, he is a mature believer in Christ persevering! The inescapable point is that the wicked, if they perish in their sins, will not dwell in heaven.
William Hendriksen says it well in his NTC commentary on Romans 7:24: The writer genuinely deplores the fact that due to the law of sin still operating in him, he is unable to serve God as completely and whole-heartedly as he desires. The poignant grief here expressed is definitely that of a believer. No unbeliever would ever be able to be so filled with sorrow because of his sins! The author of the outcry is Paul, speaking for every child of God. The cry he utters is one of distress, but not of despair, as verse Rom_7:25 proves. Paul suffers agony, to be sure, the wretchedness brought about by strenuous exertion; that is, by trying hard, but never satisfactorily succeeding, to live in complete harmony with God’s will but failing again and again. He is looking forward eagerly to the time when this struggle will have ended.
On the other hand, ‘wicked’ in the New Testament is an entirely different matter altogether. Take John 3:20 for example:
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
Here, the word is phaulos, “foul”, evil, ethically bad. In Scripture, the saint is never described as wicked, for the wicked are dead in their sins and they hate the light.
It’s an important distinction, and with many young Christians these days, often boasting in their ‘vileness’ and ‘wickedness’, a distinction that needs clarifying.
In Scripture, the wicked are not the children of God. They are not the saints. In fact, they are compared to:
Abominable branches Isa. 14:19
Ashes under the feet Mal. 4:3
Bad fishes Mat. 13:48
Beasts Ps. 49:12; 2Pet. 2:12
Blind, The Zeph. 1:17; Mat. 15:14
Brass and iron Jer. 6:28; Eze. 22:18
Briars and thorns Isa. 55:13; Eze. 2:6
Bulls of Bashan Ps. 22:12
Carcasses trodden under feet Isa. 14:19
Chaff Job. 21:18; Ps. 1:4; Mat. 3:12
Clouds without water Jude 1:12
Corn blasted 2Kings 19:26
Corrupt trees Luk. 6:43
Deaf adders Ps. 58:4
Dogs Pro. 26:11; Mat. 7:6; 2Pet. 2:22
Dross Ps. 119:119; Eze. 22:18; Eze. 22:19
Early dew that passes away Hos. 13:3
Evil figs Jer. 24:8
Fading oaks Isa. 1:30
Fiery oven Ps. 21:9; Hos. 7:4
Fire of thorns Ps. 118:12
Fools building upon sand Mat. 7:26
Fuel of fire Isa. 9:19
Garden without water Isa. 1:30
Goats Mat. 25:32
Grass Ps. 37:2; 92:7;
Grass on the housetop 2Kings 19:26
Green bay-trees Ps. 37:35
Green herbs Ps. 37:2
Heath in the desert Jer. 17:6
Horses rushing into the battle Jer. 8:6
Idols Ps. 115:8
Lions greedy of prey Ps. 17:12
Melting wax Ps. 68:2
Morning-clouds Hos. 13:3
Moth-eaten garments Isa. 50:9; 51:8
Passing whirlwinds Pro. 10:25
Potsherds Pro. 26:23
Raging waves of the sea Jude 1:13
Reprobate silver Jer. 6:30
Scorpions Eze. 2:6
Serpents Ps. 58:4; Mat. 23:33
Smoke Hos. 13:3
Stony ground Mat. 13:5
Stubble Job 21:18; Mal. 4:1
Swine Mat. 7:6; 2Pet 2:22
Tares Mat. 13:38
Troubled sea Isa. 57:20
Visions of the night Job 20:8
Wandering stars Jude 1:13
Wayward children Mat. 11:16
Wells without water 2Pet. 2:17
Wheels Ps. 83:13
Whited sepulchres Mat. 23:27
Wild ass’s colt Job 11:12
Does that describe you, reader? Bottom line is clear in Scripture; either we are a new creation in Christ, or we are not. If we are, our lives will evidence good fruit, not wickedness as a way of life. Words mean things. If ‘wicked’ does describe you, repent and believe in the Gospel and be saved.
[*] Footnote by Barb Roberts: Joel Taylor’s post had a video at the bottom of the text but the video link no longer works. The non-working video may have something to do with this message which now appears on Matt Chandler’s Village Church website Internet Archive link]. Click on the image to enlarge it.
- Posted in: Christianity
- Tagged: abuser's allies, dangerous views on abuse, false guilt, guest post, interpreting Scripture, neutrality, sin levelling, spiritual abuse
Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog [Internet Archive link].
This is excellent. EXCELLENT. I get so tired of hearing Christians talk about how sinful and depraved they are. Why are we not celebrating the fact that we are new creations! I especially like, Barb, how you brought out the fact that the wicked LIVE in that place of disobedience to sin. This confused me for a long time. I know that I slip and sin, now and then. But, the person who LIVES in sin and claims to be a Christian is a liar.
All New Calvinists preach and teach the total depravity of unbelievers and believers alike. With nuance and doublespeak, adorning ambiguity in lofty verbiage, what they call “progressive sanctification” is in reality “progressive justification”.
This is from Tullian Tchividjian: “Are Christians Totally Depraved?”
“While it is true for the Christian that there is nowhere Christ has not arrived by His Spirit, it is equally true that there is no part of any Christian in this life that is free of sin. Because of the totality of sins effect, therefore, we never out grow our need for Christ’s finished work on our behalf—we never graduate beyond our desperate need for Christ’s righteousness and His strong blood-soaked plea “before the throne of God above.”
No, when we become Christians the “totality” of sin’s effect is broken, and that’s why we don’t need the continual WASHING that Tchividjian advocates. John 13:5-11.
The New Calvinists propagate a “deep repentance” that advocates a continual returning to the washing of the whole body. No distinction is made between the washing that breaks our bondage to sin, and the foot washing that is necessary to deal with the remnant of sin that remains in our mortal bodies. New Calvinists hold to the idea that Christians are still in bondage to sin and need a progressive justification.
Thank God that Christians Are Not Totally Depraved [Internet Archive link]
This is SO true, and beautifully put. (Love the lofty verbiage as object lesson for the lofty verbiage!) We attended a neo-Cal church for three years. Over the course of that time, my trust, and therefore love, for God was steadily undermined until I got to the point of writing in my journal, “My faith is on life support.” My depression mushroomed, I stopped reading my Bible, and my isolation from people increased tremendously.
We left for a period, and the church imploded after a couple more years, going from the hottest game in town to a blast zone with hurt people, divisions, and factions that persist to this day. My husband loves this guy, and I liked him as a person (more or less), and for some reason I agreed to start attending a church plant with this pastor a few months after the implosion. He had mellowed out a lot, and seemed much less arrogant, but the underlying message, that we are all worms, was still there. My kids and I all withered again. It took a year, and several anxious, “No really, I mean it that I don’t want to go there anymore,” before we quit.
We started a new, awesome church a few months ago. Shortly before the event that led to my asking my husband to leave. The kids and I are coming back alive after YEARS in the dry and weary place, where there is no water. My oldest, after reading this article, said that the new church preaches God who reminds her of Aslan. I consider that highest praise.
“the new church preaches God who reminds her of Aslan”
Happy dancing here to that one! 🙂
It is always interesting to me, when a “Church” plants their feet in the ground, buries themselves there and refuses to even ponder whether they need to change and grow up in their theology. To say we have not changed anything we believe, is to me, the same as saying we are not growing and choose to remain stagnant. The basics of the Christian faith should never change, but we should always be learning more and being sanctified. We should be willing to change where the Spirit convicts and tweaks us in our beliefs. So, that note at the end there, just makes me squint and wonder whether these people are teachable or not.
This post is excellent, in that this is an ongoing problem in the area of abuse. One thing I learned was that the 12 Step Programs used for alcohol addiction, use this leveling the fault/blame playing field. I learned that through reading The Betrayal Bond book and also through watching a couple of things where the spouses of alcoholics were counseled not to say anything about the addict’s problems, but just to stay focused on their own shortcomings/faults. I was interested in how the sharing the blame thing came to be, because I did not see it as a coming from Scripture. The spouses of alcoholics are taught to look at themselves and not at their spouses with the alcoholism. They are taught to just focus on their own problems and if they don’t have any real problems, then make something up – just don’t focus on the alcoholic. I cannot help but wonder if this isn’t where we really have gotten most of this leveling the “sin” field – not through the Bible, but through other means such as this program. It is always terrible when poor counseling puts a shared blame on the victim for the abuser’s sin, or when the victim is taught that their sin is just as heinous as the abuser’s sin. To me, it is just another last ditch effort to try to save something that even God does not think should be saved. Terrible. Heinous. God hates it–
Wow! This was my exact experience with Al-Anon! Blame the victim, not the drunk.
Because all victims must have a disease called “codependency”. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s incurable. You need the 12 steps to restrain yourself from causing the family drunk to drink. My Mom and I couldn’t take it for long. Having to “make amends” in one of the steps made me sick. What a way to enable abuse!
Meanwhile, my father’s AA group did nothing but slam the victims in their meetings and make it all their faults. Of course, most are there by court order, and don’t tend to want to be there voluntarily, so it’s not surpising that they don’t want to take any responsibility.
To describe yourself as wicked means that you are plotting to sin, you seek it out, you want it in your life, you live it out. Why a Christian would describe themselves that way is mind boggling.
This is well written, Barb and oh so much back up scripture. It makes you wonder when people open their mouths and say crazy things like this if they ever read their Bibles.
Well, the credit for it being well written goes to Joel Taylor 🙂
Thank you for the validation today. A few months ago I walked away from a church after meeting with a pastor. Now I understand why that meeting somehow left me feeling more responsible for my husband’s passive aggression than he was. One thing the pastor told me is that because I dated my husband before he was a “believer” that I brought this on myself. No matter that my husband was a believer when we got married and pursuing growth in the context of our church. The sexlessness, suffering, emotional avoidance were all my fault–as if this never happens with men who have been “believers” a long time–and–I now did not have biblical grounds to leave him or remarry or even get angry at him, so no options existed for me except suffering, either in the marriage or alone without a partner for life. I detected a perverse feeling of pleasure from this pastor in his late thirties, that “obeying the rules” like he did (his marriage is fine–or so he says) works and that “disobeying” the “rules” (like I did) results in predictable negative consequences. He seemed quite pleased that the God vending machine works as expected. He was very “nice” about it, using a calm tone and paying lip service to caring about my pain. But he did not seem the least bit concerned that I felt trapped and powerless and that he was making it worse–after all, it’s what I deserved, right? I felt so battered leaving that office. I’m glad you have given it a name–sin leveling. I have also experienced this in marriage counselors’ offices, both secular and Christian.
So how long does a person have to be a believer before they are marriage material? Who’s rules were you disobeying — the pastor’s? You married someone who professed to being a believer — no biblical rules broken there. Dating an unbeliever is NOT the same as marrying them. Even if you had slipped and married an unbeliever that doesn’t mean that you should experience abuse in the marriage. I am glad that you walked away from this “church” and hope you find one that stands for what is right and good in God’s eyes.
“the God vending machine”
Also, I think you might find this post illuminating
Covert Aggression is not the same as Passive Aggression
Thank you. That post was very helpful.
So where do these guys get off manufacturing endless lists of legalistic rules for Christians if we’re still totally depraved? We can’t possibly follow them if we are.
There is an idea of “daily washing” in Luther, but I’ve never seen a hint of it meaning this, nor heard a Lutheran pastor preach that Christians are still just as sinful / bad / depraved as they were before salvation. Same for the idea of simul justus et peccator (simultaneously saint and sinner).
That is brilliant, Hester! It totally rebuts their stupid doctrine.
We are not suppose to be under the law, but more and different laws seem to be added to the old ones depending on who is the pastor and elders of your church.
I received very similar counseling when I divulged I had been repeatedly sexually abused for many years, by several different offenders. My little body was sold for money. Many of them Christians. Although I didn’t know to use the term at the time, I was child sex-trafficked.
After the Christian Counselor first asked many intrusive personal questions about whether I ‘enjoyed’ being raped, he then told me if I did ‘enjoy it’ I needed to repent of those feelings.
Then he focused on MY sin. Which, according to him, were bitterness and anger. He said I needed to go to my abusers asking for their forgiveness for my sins of anger and bitterness. He used Matthew 5:23-25 and told me if I didn’t forgive those who raped me, God wouldn’t forgive me.
He said a lot more too which has caused me nearly as much pain as the abuse. Spiritually speaking, it has been more devastating than the abuse ever was…
Unbelievable, except (sadly) not. I know of a few women who were trafficked, and by supposed Christians, as you were, Lost, and my heart breaks. I hope you’re in a safe place where you can learn the truth.
LostChild, I am soooo sorry that was done to you. All that betrayal . . . by people who profess the name of Christ!
God has a place prepared for them, and I don’t think it will be pleasant.
LostChild, I am so sorry for what happened to you. Not only did you have to endure so much through your childhood, but you had to relive it through your counselor. You owe those men nothing. You did not sin. You were sinned against, by the ones who raped you, the one who sold you for their own personal gain and the one who said that you had sinned. It is they that need to beg your forgiveness. I don’t believe their was a true Christian among them. They will all answer for their sin. I was misused sexually and mentally as a child often finding porn in my bed. I can feel a small portion of what you went through. ((((((HUGS and lots of LOVE coming your way)))))
Then he focused on MY sin. Which, according to him, were bitterness and anger. He said I needed to go to my abusers asking for their forgiveness for my sins of anger and bitterness. He used Matthew 5:23-25 and told me if I didn’t forgive those who raped me, God wouldn’t forgive me.
This is outrageous and beyond unconscionable. I don’t even know what to say to it. What happened to you was certainly devastating enough but I can see how this would be even worse. 😦
LostChild, You have been violated in so many ways. May you sense the love and understanding of others on this blog. They truly care and would want you to be healed. The Lord has promised that these heinous sinners will be reckoned with. This fact does not take away from the suffering you have and still emotionally, endure.
Wow. Just WOW. What an insensitive tool. A horse’s ass. Scratch that, that’s an insult to horses. What a self righteous posturing, pontificating twit. If brains were dynamite he couldn’t blast the rear end off a mosquito. I wonder if he even heard himself. I am so sorry that this kind of awful crap was said to you. I am almost sputtering thinking of suitable epithets to describe this man’s (and I use the term very loosely) response to you. I am hair pulling, wailing, screeching furious and greived to hear this and am holding back some much more colorful language to express myself.
Where was his chivalry? His outrage over what happened to a little girl who couldn’t defend herself/ His horror and disgust that several professing Christians were involved in harming a defenseless child? Where was his righteous indignation, his desire to hunt them down and see that they went to prison and were stripped of rank and standing in whatever church these evil #*!#s attended dressed as sheep? Jesus must have a warehouse full of upper millstones for these folks if they do not repent. I hope for their sake they do, because eternity is a long time and hell is not remedial.
I had a nouthetic idiot comment to me regarding being molested as a little girl that I probably liked the attention. This “biblical counselor was, so sure he / they are correct and that it is your depravity that causes you to reject their words that they are nearly infallible if you know what I mean. How can someone be so utterly ignorant about the issues of sexual abuse, as to think that this is even a necessary or appropriate thing to say to an abuse victim who already feels horrible enough if they experienced any pleasurable sensations during the abuse.
I am glad you are safe. Glad you are not being harmed this way anymore. Big comforting hugs to you.
Wow! I am trying to grasp what is being written. In my bible study group, I remember distinctly being told all sin is equal. I was told there are no levels of sins and differences. I was told murdering someone is the same as telling a white lie (as an example). I struggled with this. Are you saying all sin is in fact not equal?
Yes, Crossroads, that’s what we are saying. Some sins are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
Here is what The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 150 says:
QUESTION: Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
ANSWER: All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”
And likewise, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 83
QUESTION: Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
ANSWER: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
Fisher’s Catechism (which explains the Westminster Shorter Catechism) lists many things which might make a sin more heinous, including:
the offender is of ripe age, holds an eminent office, or is a guide to others;
the person offended is someone the offender is related to, or is one of the saints, particularly weaker brethren;
the offense violates the express letter of the law;
the offense contains in it many sins, and is not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalizes others, admits of no reparation, and is done deliberately, willfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, or continuance.
Fisher has a lot more items on that list, I’m only giving a few of them here.
In my video The Levite’s Concubine — A Case Study In Domestic Abuse,
I discuss how this this applies to the Levite’s sins in Judges 19-20.
You can find an index for Fisher’s Catechism here. Once there, go to Question 83.
The Shorter Catechism [Internet Archive link]
Thanks Barbara! I sometimes feel disturbed by what is taught by my church and leaders. Its so hard to know what is correct. I have so much learning to do!
Thank you so very much all of you.
Through all I’d been through, I’d never believed God had abandoned me, hated me or condemned me until this Christian Counselor. I was somehow able to separate out what was done to me by my abusers weren’t done by God.This counselor did other things that were inappropriate. …finally telling me “I can’t help you. No one can help you. Not even GOD can help YOU! You’re too damaged!” I wasn’t making progress fast enough or appropriately enough for his taste. I left his office that afternoon, went home and attempted suicide. I don’t even recall driving home. I don’t know how I arrived home safely. Then he was and has remained critical of me for attempting suicide. He spoke with many others concerning things I had divulged in counseling. Even sending a letter to my now, violent abusive ex-husband, In addition he spoke with and faxed his counseling note to one of the pastors who I told him were one of my abusers as a child.
Then just a few weeks ago, he told someone I was a “distraction” because his book had sold 100,000 copies. A distraction? I’ve never recovered. I struggle with who God is, if God loves me. I have panic attacks when I attempt to go to church—unless medicated with Klonopin. I know others this man has hurt in very similar ways too. But I’m just a distraction’ because he’s sold lots of books? There’s that little voice in the back of my head that just keeps popping up. What did I do to make these people so terribly cruel to me? Was I somehow responsible? Even though I know the answer is “nothing” and “no”, that doesn’t explain it! Why destroy a person and then leave her to attempt to put the broken pieces of her life back together over “nothing”?
lost child, You made it home safely because Jesus took the wheel!! If you live in the states, this counselor should be turned into the authorities for his actions. He has violated every privacy law imaginable and should face prosecution for it. He should loose his license just for telling you that you could not be helped even by God. If he claims to be a Christian, well, saying such a thing tells me otherwise. You may need counseling, but not with this person.
He was a nouthetic counselor. Non-Licensed. The state he resides in this is perfectly legal. He was the dean of students at the Christian College I was attending.
Also, LostChild, if you are looking for a safe church, you might like to check out this post from our blog:
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod offers real help to victims of domestic abuse [This link is broken. Editors.]
AARGH! What a bad combo! ((((hugs to you, Lostchild))))
In my understanding of nouthetic counseling there should be guidance looking at the Bible alone. This persons understanding of the Bible is obviously very limited and bias. He has still overstepped your privacy by going to other people about your business while you were going to him in good faith. Gossiping is also a sin.
LostChild – This was not a Christian Counselor. And I am disgusted with his concern over book sales. Pastor Crippen has had several very informative sermons explaining how very often the well-known preachers who have very public ministries, are the ones who quite often can be the most abusive.
“Why destroy a person and then leave her to attempt to put the broken pieces of her life back together over “nothing”?” IT IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF ‘EVIL’ and you are not responsible for the cruelty thrown at you.
Having panic attacks while attempting to go to church, reminds me of my circumstances. I finally had to leave because of the emotional abuse; the misunderstanding of my behaviour as I attempted to cover-up for martial abuse. If a safe church is not available I highly recommend you stay at home. Listen to Pastor Crippen’s sermons and others recommended by ACFJ. You need to heal and listen to the TRUTH. Please don’t listen to lies. Praying for you.
This man is brimming over with superiority and pride. He dismissed and discounted your testimony by calling it a ‘distraction’. But he will find that God calls him a liar. A hypocritical, cruel, callous, heartless, narcissistic, scripture-twisting, abuse-condoning snake.
And if anyone thinks my language is getting too harsh there, let me refresh your mind about what language the Apostle Paul used in Galatians 5:12—
And remember Rev. 22:15 —
Who would want to be in that man’s shoes under the powerful wrath of God? ~~~~Shiver ~~~~ But shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen. 18:25)
God calls him a liar. L.I.A.R. A hypocritical, cruel, callous, heartless, narcissistic, scripture-twisting, abuse-condoning snake.
Barb, I found this description to be most accurate!!! 🙂
Hearing your story leaves me divided between two emotions. First, I am very angry that someone could be so cruel to you and masquerade as a professional Christian counselor. What a sick, twisted person and the thought of all of this drives me to want to work harder for change. Secondly, I have much admiration for your courage and perseverance through such difficult circumstances. You are a very special person beloved by God.
Thank you for sharing your story because through it you are exposing the corruption that exists in many churches. I had a good dose of it too, but nothing like the magnitude of what you endured. I do have resources to help you find a church that will comfort you with the Gospel, not hurt you with godless laws. If you would like to find out more, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. I could just explain more about this and you won’t be pressured in any way. Praying for peace for you.
My husband has been emotional abusive for most of our 20 year marriage but I just diagnosed it 9 months ago with help from my counselor. We have definitely received the “look at your own sin” counsel many times. He has seemed to be changing and getting better (non abusive) for the last 3 -4 months. But Just last night he told me, not in anger at all, but kind of in this is what we have to do to get better plea, that he thinks I have been abusive to him. I wanted to hear what he was thinking and why he thought that so I let him give me a list of the ways he thinks I have. I do NOT think I have been abusive in a patterned way, but I’m sure that I have done/said abusive things. I’m wondering if anyone can speak to this? Had this happened to them? Knows of posts written here I can read to understand this better? He thinks that I have to acknowledge “my” abuse too (like he has) before we can move forward. Frustrated b/c I was becoming more and more clear and now I’m confused again!!
[note from ACFJ moderator: I changed the screen name on this comment to protect the woman’s identity]
Hi Clarity, and welcome to the blog. Here is a post that will probably help:
I am abused — those words are so hard to say.
And in that thread you find this comment by me which links to a great post by Lundy Bancroft that addresses your question.
blessings to you 🙂
Oh Clarity, you sound like me. I’m sorry your going through this. It’s a long journey to loving yourself . That’s what I had to do I never realized I didn’t love me. I wanted his love but nothing I did would get that for me. Then one day iI woke up and realized he was a sociopath! He would tell people how wonderful I was then when we were alone he was so wicked. When I finally confronted him after 22 years. I was told its me, he wouldn’t and still will not take responsibility for the abusive things he has done . He told me I abused him. After his verbal,mental & sexual abuse . I was crushed!!!
But God has changed me. I seek my Lord every day, my God is the center of my life and his love feels my soul. I love me, I love others and most of all the fear of my husband is not there. I still have triggers but I hold on to The Lord. Look your husband will probably never admit to things he did and take sole responsible for setting you up to fall. They play games it makes them feel powerful. You take responsibility only for what God has showed you that you were wrong in. And nothing more, we are to be lead by God and trust him. If our husbands aren’t making Godly discussions then we can’t fall in their foot steps.
I’m praying for you! You be strong Girl. God sees and he gives the strength and wisdom to his little ones.
THANK YOU so much! What a lightness I felt after I read this as I felt like some of my burden had been lifted off by a kind stranger. thank you!
Clarity, I’m new here, too, and have been going through some similar struggles as yours. I haven’t talked to my husband about his abusive patterns, but I do know that he thinks I’m cold, neglectful, unloving, not respectful, etc. Because I have finally pushed back against two decades of manipulation, deceit, alcohol abuse, and unrepentance. I go back and forth between wondering how much of the problem really is me, and seeing the mounting evidence that it really is him. That’s not to say I don’t have my share of dysfunction, but rather that he’s been the controller, while I’ve been the controlled: he’s been fully in charge of the relationship dynamic since the beginning. Honestly, a lot of what he would consider abusive on my part, if he were familiar with all this, has actually been my subconscious self-protection mechanisms designed to keep me sane.
If I did talk to him about abuse he would absolutely do what your husband has done: ask me, very calmly and “respectfully,” to consider my own abusive areas. And – this is key – it would be manipulation! He knows I’ve always been easily distracted, cowed, and burdened with guilt because I really do have a very tender heart and out-of-control conscience, and he uses that to his benefit to remain in or regain control.
But he’s been out of the home for a month or a bit more, and I’m only now starting to see this stuff with some clarity. Some days are better than others. I read here a lot, post when I have something to ask or say, see an excellent counselor once a week, and am reading and working through a few really good books (“The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” and Barbara’s and Jeff’s books).
I just really want to encourage you that you are not alone in this. The confusion and uncertainty will begin to lift as you seek God for clarity and do your own studying and learning about this subject, and examine your experiences in light of what you learn. Also, don’t worry if the fog seems to have lifted one day, only to descend thicker and colder than ever the next. It’s all part of the journey.
As I’m about to write this I realized it is 1:28am here and you wrote at 1:21am. I seem to crave silence and thats always late at night. Thank you so much for your words that help me feel like I’m not in this alone. Thanks for the reminder that the fog lifts and falls back again. Those words you used “cold, neglectful, unloving, not respectful,” sounded so familiar b/c my h. has actually told me those words. It is so confusing until I get away for a while and look back at it. He actually apologized for saying that I had been abusive and said he hadn’t been able to sleep for 2 nights b/c he felt so guilty. Praise God. But it’s just always a roller coaster never knowing what to expect every day and week. Were going to the beach this week. I’m hoping for some alone time at the ocean to spend with God, hearing his voice clearer. And hoping for peace with my h, I’d love your prayers. Thanks again!
Clarity, bear in mind that abusers frequently lie. And they are good at concocting lies that will be very plausible to their listeners. I don’t know about your h, but with some abusers they would say they lay awake at night feeling guilty for having hurt their victim, but in fact they either did NOT lay awake feeling guilty at all (they just made that up) or else they lay awake thinking how to best concoct a lie which the victim would buy, a lie she will easily swallow because it is so much what her heart longs for.
Do hear me that I’m not saying this necessarily applies to your case, but keep aware that the games some abusers play can be very confusing. I know. It’s heartbreaking.
Clarity, I have to give a second to what Barb just said. X told a whopper last night. He continues to try to suck me back into the web. He said he was going to church in a near by town but was going to go to the sister church here when it opened soon. That church has been here for at least 5 years. He made up the whole thing thinking I was not smart enough to figure it out. He will say and do anything to make himself look good. I gave up hope for reconciliation some time ago and he continues to try to get me caught. It is not working. The more he does the more I know that I am on the right path away from him. He doesn’t know how to tell the truth. He is a master of lies. Be careful, Clarity. Don’t let the fog get too thick.