A Cry For Justice

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

Abuser Protection — by Joe Pote

Thanks to Joe Pote for allowing us to repost this article. You can see the original Abuser Protection article at Joe’s site, Redeemed!

When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Samuel 4:3-4)

What’s wrong with this picture? A lot!  Everything from blaming God for their defeat in battle to presuming the ark would deliver them…and a lot of other things besides…

Let’s talk about those other things…let’s dig down to the fundamental issues…the unspoken lies and assumptions they incorrectly assumed to be true.

Let’s start with the Ark, itself. They correctly called it the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  The key word is covenant.  The Ark was the token of the covenant between Israel and God.  To relate this to our modern western culture, the Ark was the wedding band given to them by God when they took their sacred vows.

Inside the ark were the stone tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments…the terms of the covenant…the covenant vows. The vows were engraved in stone to symbolize their permanence.  They were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant as a constant reminder that these were the terms of the covenant…both the vows taken by Israel and the conditions placed on their covenant with God.  Fulfill these vows and you fulfill your covenant obligation…violate these vows and you break the covenant.

On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat overshadowed by the wings of the golden cherubim. When the high priest made the annual sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the people, he sprinkled sacrificial blood on the Mercy Seat.  It was here that God’s mercy was sought for any unintentional violations of the covenant vows.  And it was above the Mercy Seat that God’s holy visible presence was seen in a cloud above the tabernacle and from which the brightness of God’s glory shone, filling the tabernacle.

The Ark was the token of the covenant through which God dwelt among His people. Only through covenant could holy God live among sinful people without their being consumed.

When the Israelites brought the Ark into their battle camp, they were seeking the protection of God’s covenant.  They were calling on God to honor His covenant vows by providing protection and victory in battle.

There was nothing wrong with relying on God’s covenant protection in battle. Many times God specifically told them to do exactly that…and many times God granted Israel miraculous victories.  Just a few chapters further, a young shepherd boy named David battled a giant named Goliath, while making it clear he was relying on God’s covenant protection to win the battle.

This time, though, the battle was lost and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was taken captive by the Philistines. So, why did God not protect them and give them victory?

Because of abuse!

The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were abusers. They arrogantly and unrepentantly violated the covenant terms…the sacred vows…the commandments.  They abused their power as priests.  They abused the worshippers.  They stole select portions of God’s sacrifices.  They sexually abused the women who served at the entrance to the tabernacle.

The sons of Eli treacherously abused both their covenant with God and their covenant with the people of Israel, violating their covenant vows and abusing their authority.

Then they brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord into the battle camp. Do you see what they were doing?  They were relying on God’s protection under the very covenant they had repeatedly violated!

Even in retrieving the Ark from the tabernacle, they violated the covenant. The Ark resided in the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest was permitted to enter, only once a year, and only accompanied by the blood of the sacrifice.  Yet these two presumptuous abusers barged into the Holy of Holies to carry the Ark out to the battlefield.

Notice they never asked God. They didn’t ask God whether they should battle the Philistines.  They didn’t ask God if He would be with them in battle.  They didn’t ask God for His favor and protection.  They didn’t ask God for victory over their enemies.

Rather, they arrogantly presumed. The sense of entitlement displayed is astoundingly atrocious.  It seems they were trying to force God’s hand…trying to manipulate Him into protecting them, “Let’s bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord into battle.  Then God will have to give us victory.  Otherwise the Ark will be captured or destroyed and surely God won’t let that happen!”

But God did let it happen. The Israelites suffered a crushing defeat.  The sons of Eli were killed in battle and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines.

Upon hearing the horrible news, old Eli died and Phinehas’ pregnant wife went into labor…with her dying words she gave Eli’s newborn grandson the name Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel.” She understood that, with the capture of the Ark, God’s presence was removed from Israel.

The sons of Eli mistakenly presumed they were entitled to covenant protection despite their repeated violations of the covenant vows.

That is so typical of abusers!

How many times, today, do abusers claim covenant protection despite having egregiously violated their sacred trust?  They act as though they are entitled to claim the promises of the very covenant they have broken.

How many abusive spouses claim the privileges of the marriage covenant despite their treacherous violations of the sacred vows to love, honor, cherish and protect?

How many pastors, priests, and evangelists claim the right of covenant mercy and restoration as leaders in the very church where they have egregiously violated the sacred trust by molesting children or sexually harassing worshippers?

It is a false presumption! It is a false claim!

One cannot break a covenant then claim protection under the very covenant they have broken!

The sons of Eli tried to do that. It cost them their lives.  It cost the nation of Israel the loss of God’s presence.

How many churches, today, have suffered loss of God’s presence because they are supporting an abuser’s false claim of entitlement to protection under the very covenant they have egregiously violated?

Your thoughts?


  1. Rose

    Well written with excellent insight. The issue today is that we don’t see an immediate effect of punishment by God of people claiming the covenant and ignoring misbehavior. Still praying and waiting for divine intervention. May He reveal His power in this situation and many others.

    • joepote01

      Even at that time, God seems to have been very patient with them. We get the impression that the abuse had been ongoing for years. Eli tried talking to his sons, but they refused to listen. God warned Eli on multiple occassions, but Eli acted as though he felt helpless to change anything…or perhaps could not bring himself to condemn his own sons to execution.

      In the end, though, justice was delivered. Interestingly, it was delivered directly through the abusers’ own choices. I see many parallels for us to learn from, today.

      Thank you, Rose!

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Also my understanding here is that justice was likewise delivered to Eli, who refused to do everything to stop the abuses going on.

      • joepote01

        Yes, IAMB, absolutely correct. Eli was also judged for allowing the abuse by his sons to continue.

        There’s a major lesson there, as well, I think. Eli was old with poor eyesight. He had to rely on what other people told him of his sons’ sins. He tried to warn his sons, but they refused to listen.

        One might say that Eli had every excuse to not act, given the circumstances…to feel like he had done what he could and it was out of his hands…

        However, God did not see it that way. The injustices done by the sons of Eli were too great to be neglected, and Eli was held accountable for his inaction.

        Thanks for pointing that out!

      • IamMyBeloved's

        You know Joe, I think this is a major issue God is dealing with in us who profess to “know” Christ. It is amazing to me, the outspokenness of leaders against watching horrible movies, voting for the wrong person, etc. (which I also do not find profitable for a Christian), and yet they stand in their position of leadership and say something like, “a few light slaps every now and then can and should be tolerated by wives in their marriages”. So it is okay to tolerate sin as long as it is in marriage and among (supposed) Christians? When leaders do not take a stand, as Eli failed to do, they become guilty of the same sin the perpetrator is propounding upon his victim(s) and they too will face judgment in some form, for their failure to take a stand against the heinousness of the sin. Abuse in any of its vast forms in marriage, is heinous.

        Eli possibly used his human weaknesses as a reason to not take a stand. Others will use their position in life, or say it is none of my business, or use other reasons to not take a stand, pushing it aside for someone else to deal with. Actually leveling the sin, is just a form of escape, so they don’t have to take a side in the abuse or get to the truth and address the abuser. It allows them to not have to take a stand. It allows them to continue to condone abuse, by blaming both parties for it. However, God makes clear that He will hold us to account for remaining silent and condoning sin, especially when the injury is against God’s own and being done by professing Christians. I believe that as Christians, we are always called to “take a stand” and not remain neutral or lukewarm when it comes to the sin of abuse. It is time to stand up and say, “In the name of God, it is enough!”

        You have done an excellent job in writing this post. Many thanks.

      • joepote01

        IAMB –

        I completely agree with all that you’ve said here…even as I feel the conviction of times I know I should have done more…and times I wonder if there may have been more I could have done…

        Yes, enough is enough and it’s time to take a stand. Sometimes that means speaking out boldly. Other times it means quietly letting an abuse target know that I know…and that I stand in support of liberty…while also respecting her choices and understanding something of the level of difficulty of those choices…

        It’s time to take a stand!

      • Eli tried talking to his sons, but they refused to listen. God warned Eli on multiple occassions, but Eli acted as though he felt helpless to change anything… or perhaps could not bring himself to condemn his own sons to execution.

        The pastor tried talking to the abusive husband but a.h. refused to listen. God warned the pastor on multiple occasions, but the pastor acted as though he felt helpless to change anything… or perhaps could not bring himself to condemn the husband to excommunication.

      • joepote01

        Exactly, Barbara!

  2. soldiergirl

    Thank you for sharing this.
    I somehow think of the ark as a symbol of Gods heart in this story.
    Hophni and Phinehas presumed that they could claim Gods protection while violating his very covenant.
    They thought to manipulate the very hand of God himself to bring to pass their desires on their enemies by physically carrying the ark.
    They had become comfortable with violating their privelage of abusing Gods people and their the role as priests.
    Their own disobedience to the terms of the covenant and trecherous violation towards Gods people brought forth Gods justice of the inevitable consequences of a broken covenant.

    • joepote01

      “Their own disobedience to the terms of the covenant and treacherous violation towards Gods people brought forth Gods justice of the inevitable consequences of a broken covenant.”


      Broken covenants = loss of claim to covenant promises

      Thank you, Soldiergirl!

  3. cindy burrell

    This is so profound, so consistent with the heart of God, yet how often is this truth overlooked? I will gladly encourage others to read this piece.

    I appreciate your work. Thank you!

    • joepote01

      Yes, once we move past looking for legalistic answers to legalistic questions to truly searching God’s heart, we find so many rich examples in HIs word.

      Thank you, Cindy! I appreciate you!

  4. Ann

    Would the verse: “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound; God forbid” be appropriate for this post?

    • joepote01

      That’s almost how Eli’s sons seemed to view things, isn’t it? They just assumed that God would always be faithful to His promises no matter how they conducted their lives or how egregiously they violated the covenant terms.

      Sadly, many people today seem to feel the same way…glossing over intentional unrepentant sins with “Well, nobody’s perfect. Don’t judge, Jesus died for all sins.”

      They are missing the fact that God’s promises are based on covenant relationship. Outside His covenant, there are no promises to cling to except the promise of awful judgement.

      And the same applies to our covenants. The promises are based on covenant relationship. Outside the covenant, there are no promises to cling to. A broken covenant carries no vows.

      Thank you, Ann!

  5. This is good, Joe. The story of Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, seems to represent what often happens in the church today. Though they were priests, 1 Samuel 2 says, “…the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord” (1 Sam 2:12). Later, Eli confronts his sons with, “Why do you do such things?” but the sons “did not heed heed the voice of their father…” (1 Sam 2:25a). Eli doesn’t seem to take any further action like throwing them out of their priestly position and later God confronted Eli and asked him, “…why do you honor your sons more than Me…?” (2:29).

    You summed it up well by saying “they arrogantly presumed.” They presumed that God was pleased with them in spite of their actions and beliefs, but in reality, God had other plans: “…the Lord desired to kill them [Hophne and Phinehas]” (1 Sam 2: 25b). No one can fool God. He sees and knows it all.

    • joepote01

      Nicely summarized, BSD!

      Clinging to God’s promises is totally appropriate while trusting Him to enable us to walk in His covenant, to grow in wisdom, and to be conformed to His image.

      Presuming to be heirs of His promises while willfully and unrepentantly violating His commands is a foolish thing indeed.

  6. Joe, your post about this passage makes so much sense to me! I have never quite been able to wrap my mind about this story, couldn’t understand what it meant. This is the first time I’ve felt I understand what God is saying by including this account in the Bible. Thank you.

    • joepote01

      Thank you, so much, Becky! I’ve been enjoying taking my time and digging deeper as I read through the books of Samuel this time. So many truths to uncover! 🙂

  7. Rebecca

    Joe your insight into this passage is spot on, imo. In modern day we have seen this as well, as you’ve pointed out, in the past of the Catholic church.

    “How many churches, today, have suffered loss of God’s presence because they are supporting an abuser’s false claim of entitlement to protection under the very covenant they have egregiously violated?” Excellent question and also bittersweet. I continue to see churches ‘thrive’ who are actively hiding abusers and their false claims. Exposure doesn’t always happen, at least not that we can always see or know.

    • joepote01

      ‘Thrive’ in terms of attendance and income, maybe. Ultimately, though, no church is ‘thriving’ without the presence and blesssing of the Holy Spirit…and the Holy Spirit is found where justice and mercy are pursued.

      Thank you, Rebecca!

  8. Brenda R

    How many abusive spouses claim the privileges of the marriage covenant despite their treacherous violations of the sacred vows to love, honor, cherish and protect?

    To venture a guess–ALL of them!! The X still seems to believe that his unrepentant attempts at getting me to go to coffee or dinner should be something that I would be willing to do. The words, “I love you” and “just trust me” don’t mean anything to me anymore. I trust in Jesus Christ not man.

    I read this on Redeemed and is good to reread and let it go deeper into my heart. God’s Word tells us what we need to know when we keep in it and prayerfully seek his wisdom and discernment.

    • joepote01

      Yes, all of them.

      In fact, this sense of entitlement to promises made in broken covenants (or violated trust) might be seen as the most fundamental defining aspect of abuse.

      Thank you, Brenda!

      • So. . . could we put the abuser’s belief like this?

        “I am entitled to benefit from the promises the other person made to me, even though I do not keep the promises I made to that person.”

      • joepote01

        Yes, I see that as a fundamental trait of abuse…whether the promises are explicited stated (as in a marriage) or simply understood expectations (as in a parent/child or employer/employee relationship).

        Well stated, Barbara!

  9. Jeff Crippen

    Joe- This is excellent stuff! Thank you. The answer to the question “how many churches today have suffered the loss of God’s presence because they are supporting an abuser…”? Lots of them. Many of them. Dare I say, MOST of them? Christ’s command is given to us over and over and over from Genesis to Revelation. Put the wicked man out from among yourselves. Protect the widow and orphan. Christ told 5 of the 7 churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3) that he had something against them and in most cases it had to do with the toleration of evil in their church. He told them to repent or He would remove their lampstand. That is to say, He would depart from them. Most churches today really should be re-named. “Ichabod Community Church – the Church From Which the Glory Has Departed.”

    • joepote01

      “Ichabod Community Church – the Church From Which the Glory Has Departed.”

      A sad truth…well stated…

      Thank you, Jeff!

  10. thepersistentwidow

    “Most churches today really should be re-named. “Ichabod Community Church – the Church From Which the Glory Has Departed.” Right on, Jeff!

  11. Still Reforming

    Why do you (asking anyone here) think that this is the more-common-than-not state of the Church today, particularly with regards to leadership? I keep pondering this question, and the only thing I can come up with that makes sense to me is, sadly, the same reason for the abuser’s actions: power and control. And that, sadly again, leads to the heart of the matter, as I see it Scripturally: unbelief. Because if one really believed the very Word of God, there would be enough respectful fear to not trod upon the abused, the beaten soul on the path of the good Samaritan. I have encountered far too many Levites and priests willing to pass us by and say with a nod of the head, “Be warm and well fed,” as they go their way, trifling with God’s Word.

    And why is it that some, when they sense a lack of audience, think that shouting the message even louder from the pulpit will get attention? I can’t stand screeching God’s Word.

    • joepote01

      Good question, SR!

      I believe in many cases it is a desire for power and control on the part of the leadership. Sometimes, this is an active pursuit of power and control. Other times it is more passive…more a fear of believers going astray if given too much latitude…not quite trusting believers of lesser education to be able to hear and understand the Holy Spirit…choosing to err on the side of legalism rather than liberty in an attempt to control the outcome.

      I believe there are also many instances of simple ignorance born of poor theology coupled with limited life experiences. We all tend to believe what we have been taught…at least until life experiences cause us to question early teaching…thereby opening the door for the Holy Spirit to give us insight closer to God’s heart.

      • Still Reforming

        Joe, Indeed. I too think that many – if not all – of us here on this website would attest to formerly not knowing what we now know about such abuse had we not experienced it firsthand. One of the many things I appreciate in Pastor Jeff is that – as he tells in his book – he admits how his church previously had an environment that allowed for abuse, but how his thinking and actions have changed – via experience.

        This understanding that experience influences one’s understanding of abuse lead to my giving my current church’s leadership a wide berth for a very long time, knowing that they did not have direct experience (or knowledge of same) with an abuser. So I didn’t really lay much detail at their feet about the abuse in my home, until it reached a critical point. I didn’t think they would understand and would chock it up to a he-said-she-said scenario with me appearing to be a worrywart alarmist.

        That said, there had been many years of the leaders seeing me fragile or teary throughout the years – not often, but enough that I would think someone (a deacon or pastor) might have inquired with me about what was wrong. Not so. And when the details finally surfaced, there was neither understanding nor interest among the leadership with respect to what to do with us in this situation. And as the situation appears to be unfolding, the abuser is coming back to church (where he is welcomed), so we the abused will leave.

        At a certain point I had to come around in my thinking to recognizing that growth must occur in the leadership. In fact, the pastor came right out and told me when I gave him the document of what has happened in our home, “You’ve put me in a difficult spot.” I replied that he was already in a difficult spot; I didn’t put him there. He signed up for this spot when he took the job. But he didn’t want to be there with the knowledge I gave him. And he still doesn’t want it in his church. So I – the identifier of the issues – must leave; Shake the dust off my feet I shall.

        Joe, it would be interesting to hear your story at some point – because it’s not often we here hear the voice of a man who understands the dynamics of marital abuse and can articulately expound the Scriptural view of same with sound exegesis. I see you have a book on amazon; I downloaded the sample to my Kindle.

      • joepote01

        StillReforming –

        “You’ve put me in a difficult spot.”

        Wow! That says it all, doesn’t it?

        As difficult as I know that was for you to hear, I am so glad you are able to see through that charade of nonleadership!

        “You’ve put me in a difficult spot”…shame on you for speaking to your pastor about the difficulties you are going through…much less for exposing your husband’s sin…”you’ve put me in a difficult spot”… The difficult spot isn’t because I’m a pastor who is called to deal with difficult situations. Nor is it because of your husband’s egregious sins against you, against your covenant, and against God. No…it’s because you spoke up and named his sin for what it is. You shine the light of God’s truth into the darkness of domestic abuse and in doing so “You’ve put me in a difficult spot.”

        Eli was judged for choosing inaction over action…yet even Eli did not condemn the messenger for speaking truth…

        Good riddance, indeed!

        I hope my book is a blessing to you. It is written in a myth-buster style, addressing the system of unbiblical divorce mythology that God led me past as I walked through divorce from an abusive marriage. http://www.amazon.com/You-Believer-been-through-Divorce/dp/1463767161/

        You can read a little of my story in this post on a friend’s blog: http://danerickson.net/joseph-pote-on-divorce-why-i-speak-out/

        Thank you, SR!

  12. His Child

    Notice they never asked God. They didn’t ask God whether they should battle the Philistines. They didn’t ask God if He would be with them in battle. They didn’t ask God for His favor and protection. They didn’t ask God for victory over their enemies.

    Rather, they arrogantly presumed. The sense of entitlement displayed is astoundingly atrocious. It seems they were trying to force God’s hand…trying to manipulate Him into protecting them, “Let’s bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord into battle. Then God will have to give us victory. Otherwise the Ark will be captured or destroyed and surely God won’t let that happen!

    That’s it, Joe! You’ve nailed it on the head! Abusers don’t have a fear of God, even if they seem like they do. They use God and presume that God will always protect them and forgive them. They are encouraged weekly by sermons that assure them that God loves and accepts everyone unconditionally.
    Well, that should not come as a surprise! If abusers manipulate people around them for their own gain, we shouldn’t be too surprised that they would manipulate God. How we treat people on earth is surely a glimpse of how we relate to the God of heaven.

    • joepote01

      Excellent point! Yes, they abuse God’s relationship just as they abuse other relationships…trampling the covenant while relying on covenant promises…

      Thank you, His Child!

  13. Joy

    Have either of you considered speaking to/training aspiring pastors in seminary? My husband as a pastor got NO training on abuse. He barely got any counseling training, and they told him to just refer someone if it was out of his depth. Problem was we were in a rural area and no one had money for real counseling and he was left counseling some very troubled couples and sick and manipulative individuals. I’m sure he messed it up many times, just for lack of a theology of abuse which was never taught.

    • Still Reforming

      Joy, What an EXCELLENT idea! This would extend Pastor Crippen’s and Barbara’s ministry here to the victims of abuse through to the prospective pastors in training. Well done. You get a gold star and a candy bar for that idea! Your next cuppa (as in “cup of joe or tea”) is on me! 😉

  14. TB

    I sympathize just a little with Eli. In my abusive marriage, I witnessed things that were definitely unChristlike in my home and I felt weak and powerless to do anything to stop it. I was threatened by my ex never to call 911 or the police to our home. I knew in my heart at times that that was EXACTLY what I wanted and probably should have done in the heat of an “episode,” but out of fear of the fallout that would have come afterward I chose not to. I wonder now what would have happened if I had.

    I recognize my cowardice. I can’t go back and change things from the past but I still operate out of fear even now. I have a hard time confronting injustice because of fear. I need to get passed this and am currently asking the Lord how to do just that. I know the Scriptures about not being afraid or anxious or worrisome. I just don’t have it down in my behavior yet.

    I suppose Eli realized his sons were bad but he, too, maybe was uncomfortable with the fallout of a true confrontation. I need to grow in this area. The last person I confronted (and there aren’t that many I have confronted, LOL) in what I thought was a reasonable way was highly offended and said she had to really work with the Lord to forgive me. I was shocked she felt she had to forgive me. LOL I guess I am too much of a people pleaser and tend to avoid confrontation because people will then not be pleased with me.


    • Still Reforming

      TB – Don’t be overly hard on yourself. The reason you confront people reasonably, such as this last person you “confronted” probably has to do with what you know is reasonable and you expect that other person to respond in a way you would respond, which is reasonably. This other person sounds rather cold and perhaps abusive herself. Telling you she had to “really work with the Lord to forgive you” with respect to your merely talking with her about a situation or problem sounds like she’s the harsh person here. If you were dealing with a “normal” person, the response would have been given in the very spirit that you approached the situation – one of love.

      I’m now coming around myself in the same way you are to realize that many times I’m railroaded only because I allow myself to be, whereas if I just take a stand in conviction and confidence that I am within my rights to be treated with dignity and respect, well, I’m not doing anything wrong and if another takes offense, it is that person’s offensiveness, not my own. I do not offend, but others may take offense. I can’t control that.

      I am realizing that pleasing others (as you mentioned) and pleasing the Lord are not the same thing. If I please the Lord, His people will be pleased. Others, not so much. That’s just the way the economy of this fallen world works.

      I have learned with my own abuser that I had to continually give the benefit of the doubt to his words and actions for decades precisely because there was so much doubt. Does he (or do others) have that much doubt in me? Nope. Why is that? Because I am the Lord’s, and he is not. Remember that. You are the Lord’s and cherished by Him as one of His. Don’t let the devil’s servants get the better of you. You owe them nothing and the Lord your all.

    • joepote01

      Yes, I find it easy to identify with Eli as well. Eli clearly had a heart for God and passed that desire for godliness on to Samuel.

      But, He couldn’t seem to find it in himself to condemn his own grown sons for their abuse. I suspect every parent can understand. In general, we want to expect the best from other people…and that is even more true of our own children.

      That understanding and realization, though, bring even more clarity to God’s clear stance against abuse. The fact that the abusers were Eli’s own sons wasn’t allowed as an excuse. The fact that Eli was old, nearly blind, overweight, and probably had other health issues wasn’t allowed as an excuse. The fact that he addressed the issues with his sons and they refused to listen wasn’t allowed as an excuse.

      The fact is that gross abuse was being allowed to occur right in God’s house, and Eli was in a position of to do something about it and did not stop it. People were being deeply wounded by those who should have been helping them. God’s credibility was being slandered by those responsible for upholding His testimony. And Eli failed to put a stop to it.

      I find this part of the story very convicting…both to our society and to to me personally.

      It strips away every excuse for allowing abuse to occur…

      It drives me to my knees, where I find myself returning again to pray the Serenity Prayer:

      “Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      The Courage to change the things I can,
      And the Wisdom to know the difference.”

      Lord, help us all! It is only through Your power, Your strength and Your wisdom that evil can be overcome…either in our homes or in our own hearts. Lord, give us the strength, courage and wisdom!

      Thank you, TB!

  15. TB

    The fact is that gross abuse was being allowed to occur right in God’s house, and Eli was in a position of to do something about it and did not stop it. People were being deeply wounded by those who should have been helping them. God’s credibility was being slandered by those responsible for upholding His testimony. And Eli failed to put a stop to it.

    I will personalize this paragraph:

    The fact is that gross abuse was being allowed to occur right in MY OWN HOUSE, and I (TB) was in a position to do something about it and did not stop it (although I protested and got in the middle to try to stop the craziness many times). My children and I were being deeply wounded (this stuff gets to your very core) by a father/husband who should have been helping them. God’s credibility was being slandered by a mother/wife and father/husband who were responsible for upholding his testimony. And I (TB) failed to put a stop to it (until almost a year ago, when I finally left).

    My daughter shared a recent dream she had with me. In the dream she says she was hiding in a closet with some of her younger siblings. She said I found them there and some of them were bleeding. She said her dad was responsible, but I was scared, so I told her not to worry—that everything was alright. She then said she told me, “MOM, WE ARE B-L-E-E-D-I-N-G!!!!!!” She wanted me to DO SOMETHING, not just pacify her with soothing words. Thankfully, it was only a dream, and in reality we NEVER had bloody episodes, although the heart wounds from all of it were/are quite severe (as my ex continues to deny it was as bad as I/we say it was). But today I can certainly see the damage in my older kids from the dysfunction we lived in for so long. It has infected even my daughter’s adult dreams. How sad.

    My daughter told me this dream after I left my ex. She was and is so glad to be out of that family dynamic. Her dream spoke volumes to me. My fear bound me and kept me from taking appropriate action against my then husband, in order to protect myself and my children–fear of him and his reaction if I had called for help, fear of him being found out (his reputation would be marred), fear of the possibility of having to speak the truth to an officer, fear of him getting a record, fear of what the neighbors would say if a police car came to our home, fear of people finding out we were not the family they thought we were, fear of people looking at me differently, fear of how to fix the new mess that would ensue if the police were called out, fear of him coming home after being questioned by the police and facing his wrath that would surely follow, and so on, and so on.

    In fear I finally left. In fear I sought help. In fear I began counseling with several sources. In fear I filed for divorce. In fear I moved out. In fear I stood before a judge as she signed my divorce papers. In fear I started over. In fear I recently started a job after having been out of the workforce for 25+ years. The fear follows me but I am starting to look at it differently. I am starting to understand what someone said about fear:

    Fear is the opportunity to exercise courage.

    I am thinking of identifying myself as courageous instead of fearful in this new season of my life. The two things are quite different, and I prefer to now think of myself as full of courage rather than full of fear.

    • TB, what’s not to like in this comment you just made? It was stupendous! 🙂

    • Brenda R

      Fear is the opportunity to exercise courage.

      TB, Your courage is remarkable. There is fear in what we’ve been through. There is fear in the unknown of the future. But we have hope in Christ. Your dialogue is intense and I could feel the pain of your children and you. What a beautiful way you tell of a horrible experience. I am so glad you are out and starting over. I pray for healing for both you and your children.

    • Still Reforming

      TB, I have heard a similar expression – that courage is not the lack of fear, but acting in spite of it. Heroes and heroines do not lack fear, but act in the midst of it.

      My story is not dissimilar to yours, only I’m the one who has had the bad dreams. I don’t know if my child has had them. I too was afraid (and still have fear) that the details of my account wouldn’t be taken seriously, and some of that has happened, but I am finding that what God tells us in Proverbs 17:1 rings very true: “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

      So my account isn’t taken seriously enough or understood for what it is; I can live with that. Better that than living with lies in a false “marriage” and walking on eggshells the rest of my days.

    • joepote01

      TB –

      I love this comment! Much truth…much conviction…much grace…much faith…much courage…

      I find myself reminded of Joshua 1:9:

      “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

      Blessings to you!

  16. Round*Two

    My stbx has mentioned many times. God will remember our sins no more. Hebrew 8:12 I suppose God does not remember the ‘abuse’ toward me bcause my stbx has repented every time? when we get to heaven we will not be judged because there are no sins to judge?
    I just want a clean heart before the Lord…

    • Your abuser did not really repent. His repentance episodes were
      a) worldly sorrow, as opposed to godly sorrow
      b) manipulative ploys to get you to give him another chance (in other words, he was lying) (viz, Simon the Sorcerer)
      c) shallow, skin-deep repentance for a little bit of what he’d done, but not for the whole of what he’d done and the wrongful beliefs and attitudes that are at the heart of it
      d) the behaviour of a person who temporarily convinces himself and believes he is repenting and truly following God — a Biblical example is in the parable of the sower: the seed which sprang up and appeared to be a thriving plant at first but under adversity it withered and died because it had no deep roots.
      See this post Seeds Sown on Rocky Ground: Lessons About the Abuser’s Mentality

  17. Round*Two

    Yes, to all of the above!
    And a good analogy of the Sown Seed…
    There is so much helpful insightful information here! Thank you!

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