Which One is Worse? The Adulterer or the Abuser? Thoughts on Divorce for Abuse
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.
For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned 1 Corinthians 9:9
He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” Matthew 12:3-4
Many if not most Christians, churches, pastors, confessions of faith and theologians acknowledge that Scripture permits divorce for the reason of adultery. Others add desertion to the list. Often however these same Christians balk at any suggestion that abuse is biblical grounds for divorce. Why? I suggest it is because
- they do not grasp the evil nature of abuse,
- they have a wrong notion about the nature of covenants, specifically, the marriage covenant, and
- they cling to a method of Scripture interpretation (a “hermenuetic”) that is unbiblical.
It is this last reason I want to discuss here.
Many Christians are clinging to a narrow, wooden way of interpreting Scripture
Our Lord rebuked the two disciples on the road to Emmaus for their narrowly literal way of handling God’s word:
“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself….
And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:21-27
These guys had way too narrow of a view of Scripture. They were woodenly literal in their method of handling God’s Word. As a result they thought that the Lord’s big plan was to “redeem Israel.” The Jews. The earthly land of Israel. Earthly Jerusalem. Jesus took them back (in the greatest Bible study small group in history!) to Genesis and walked them “through the Bible” opening the eyes of their hearts and minds so that their “hearts burned within them” with excitement as the glory of Christ’s real Israel, the Church, and of His true Promised Land — the New Heavens and the New Earth — were put before them. They realized that their “take” on God’s Word that they had been taught was waaaaaay too narrow, limited, and restrictive.
And so it is with many Christians today when it comes to the handling of God’s Word. “Jesus said divorce is only permitted for adultery” (“porneia” — a word which the meaning of is quite debated) and therefore NO other reason for divorce is authorized by God. That is their “wooden” take on it. But that is the very error Jesus confronted in the theologians of His day when they perverted the blessing of the Sabbath and turned it into a heavy burden. And the Apostle Paul applies a proper hermeneutic to the OT law about not muzzling the threshing ox so that it could take a few bites of grain once in a while. As Paul says, “you don’t think that the Lord gave this law only for the benefit of oxen, do you? Well, He did, but His main purpose was much bigger. This law is for human beings. The employer is to give the employee his fair wages.” There it is.
So, with this in mind, let me ask you this. Which is the greater evil? Adultery or Abuse? Or perhaps I should word it in this manner — Is abuse as wicked in God’s sight as adultery? Well, for people who are ignorant (frankly, some of them willfully so) of the incredible evil of abuse, I suppose they would answer “oh, adultery is worse. It is much worse to be unfaithful to your spouse than to blow up at her sometimes or maybe even give her a little slap.” You know the drill with such people, right? But for those who know all too well the mentality and even demonic nature of the abuser, we would say that AT MINIMUM abuse is as evil as adultery. And most of us would probably go on to say that abuse is in many ways far worse than the betrayal of adultery (not to minimize in any way the pain of those wronged by adultery).
The abuser is even more deceptive than the adulterer (we understand that some abusers are adulterers too). That abuse is more cruel, more devious, and yes, even more damaging than adultery. There are numbers of reasons why we would suggest this, one of which is simply that the victim of adultery sometimes finds that people are more willing to acknowledge that the victim has been wronged and has grounds for divorce than in the case of the deceptive, deceitful, cunningly hypocritical abuser. The latter we could even say causes even more damage to the victim than in the case of the adulterer.
If God permits divorce for adultery, surely He permits divorce for the greater evil of abuse.
And for those shouting back at me “Show me the chapter and verse! If you can’t show me the black and white words, then you are wrong!” — I say, your handling of the Word of God is all botched up. God’s Word often argues from the lesser to the greater (see the book of Hebrews if you would like more examples of this). If the lesser is true, then the greater is true. If adultery destroys the marriage covenant, then vows taken by a person who has a profound sense of entitlement to power and control and who fully intends to use all kinds of terrible evil tactics against their “beloved” to get that power and control….then those vows are null and void.
Further reading for those who want to chew the cud on hermeneutical errors:
The perspicuity of Scripture, and how some put a grille on the view
- Posted in: Unjust church responses
- Tagged: church discipline, church response to abuse, Corinthians, divorce, interpreting Scripture, Jeff Crippen, Luke, Matthew, rebuke
In my previous marriage, which was very abusive, adultery was a major component of the abuse. It wasn’t an either / or, nor was it abuse plus adultery. The adultery itself was a significant component of the overall pattern of abuse.
I have come to see the biblical perspective as divorce being available specifically for escaping treacherous abuse against a covenant partner…intentional unrepentant violation of the marriage vows for the purpose of manipulation and control. Whether that abuse takes the form of adultery, desertion, physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, or any other form that violates the sacred vows to love, honor, cherish, and forsake all others, the end result is the same…a broken covenant.
I see this as what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 19:8, when He spoke of Moses permitting divorce because of hardened hearts…..hearts hardened against a covenant partner in unrepentant abuse of the marriage vows…using the marriage vows as a means to control, manipulate and enslave rather than as an opportunity to love, bless, honor and cherish.
I also see this as being the very issue addressed in the second chapter of Malachi with the series of condemnations against treachery against covenant partners…treachery of the priests in not being faithful in speaking God’s truth to the people…treachery of Israelites against fellow Israelites…and treachery of husbands against their wives…
It is a consistent message throughout scripture. Covenant breakers who commit treachery (abuse) against their covenant partner, in violation of sacred vows, are repudiated by God…and God redeems His people from covenants that have been treacherously broken by abusive partners. In the case of an abusive marriage that redemption is called divorce.
You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jeff!
All these debates within Christendom about exception clauses, and which exceptions are permitted, and what conditions qualify under the exception clauses…they’re all a bunch of legalistic hogwash! They are the stuff the Pharisees loved…the very sort of questions with which they attempted to trap Jesus in Matthew 19…and Jesus refused to take the bait. He chose instead to speak to principles, affirming the law given to Moses…affirming the sanctity of marriage…and affirming the necessity of divorce due to hardened hearts.
When we stop trying to view the various passages touching on the topic of divorce as a set of rules for when divorce is or is not permissible…when we back off from the details enough to view the overall biblical themes, we can clearly see God’s heart of love and redemption toward His children who have been ensnared in abusive relationships.
Thanks for posting! 🙂
Thanks Joe. Very good insights.
A side note: When I read the word wooden the image of a wood coffin came to mind. I picture these pharisees building coffins and shoving women in them, hammering the lids down with nails in with their twisting of passages. In my case, I was in a church that said even adultery could be forgiven if you were spiritual enough. And the “hardness of heart” wasn’t applied to the abusive cheater but to me for struggling to forgive.
Adultery was just another form of abuse by my now ex. One of my friends husbands uses it to punish my friend quite effectively. She believes it is her duty to forgive. Its hellish to observe and not surprisingly she struggles with suicidal thoughts.
Yes…I too have heard such interpretations and/or nuances. “Divorce is permitted for adultery, but not required. Don’t harden your heart.”
That perspective doesn’t fit though. It does not fit the consistent overall biblical themes of condemnation of treacherous covenant breaking (abuse) and redemption and deliverance of God’s children who are enslaved in abusive relationships.
Praying for your friend, this morning. That is truly a horrible position…to feel compelled to remain in intimate relationship with someone who has repeatedly demonstrated their lack of trustworthiness.
This post on my blog might be encouraging to your friend: Forgiveness with Boundaries [Internet Archive link]
Blessing to you!
Proof texting has led so many into error, and pastors who should have been trained in proper hermeneutics, often aren’t — or they don’t apply the principles to their pet theologies.
Wendell, I believe you are right. Too often scripture is interpreted to re-enforce what we already believe to be true, especially if it justifies holding on to control, status or wealth. Politicians of all stripes are the finest example of this behavior.
Hermeneutics should be the search for the truth in God’s word, but it often isn’t. When I took it in Bible college, one of the first things that they taught was to try to put aside as many pre-conceived ideas as you can. You can never do that 100%, but at least recognizing them and being willing to abandon them in the light of truth is paramount to having a good hermeneutic.
Unfortunately, the whole permanence view, in all of its variations, is so ingrained in the church culture, that I don’t think a lot of pastors look on it as a pre-conception, but as established truth, so they don’t look at the belief critically. It is a non-negotiable and therefore, the normal rules of interpretation do not apply to it.
It often is not addressed until abuse hits their family or someone in their church and then they are faced with the choice of chaining themselves to the legalistic view, or finally examining it to see if what they have believed is really what the Bible says. Sadly, too many choose the path of chains.
Amen. This is very good and so true. I think that these who have this wooden view and interpretation, overlook what was really happening in Matthew 19. They also appear to have a strange view of marriage. Things like marriage being a place of utter despair and regret, intended by God to “sanctify” us. That theory is just ridiculous. God never intended marriage to be a battle ground where spouses abuse and torment each other. I think these people also only use Scriptures they believe will defend their position and not the Bible as a whole. For example, Proverbs 22:10, which says to “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.” (ESV) is often overlooked, as well as a multitude of other Scriptures that would support ceasing life with an abusive angry man.
For me, the bottom line for anyone who takes the permanence view of marriage, is that they are misaligning God’s Word and changing it up for their own purposes and benefit. First, they just ignore what Christ said about divorce and adultery. Second, again, if they or their daughters were in an abusive marriage, the Bible would quickly lose that “permanence view of marriage” they once thought they saw in it. Third, they also just blatantly ignore the Bible on all the other verses that contain grounds for divorce, ie abuse and abandonment and anyone who would try to divert you from God, to focus on and worship them instead (typical abuser type stuff – see Deut 13).
IamMyB’s – Proverbs 22:10, which says to “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.” That’s good!!
beloveds, you are right… They put on others things they wouldn’t bear themselves and if it happened to them or those they actually care about they would have a revelation about their previous view being “misguided”. Jesus speaking of the Pharisees said just that Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Thank you for the scriptures!
Your comment about marriage being a place of utter despair and regret, intended by God to “sanctify” us.
I don’t know exactly when this came to be true in my mind. At one church I do remember when I was struggling with abuse from my ex h and new abuse from my new h and didn’t know it was abuse. I needed help untwisting all of it and comfort for the mind games etc going on. The Christian gave me a cold response to my problems “The problem is you have TWO husbands”. That statement alone did years of damage to me and entrapped me in all kinds of evil.
At the same time Focus on the Family had Harold Camping on the radio. I was a brand new believer. It turned out the Christian above had come from his “c”hurch. My breaks at work would be listening to his program. A lady called in, Camping would say even in an abusive situation with physical attacks she was to stay!! If you had remarried to admit you sinned but not divorce again or else you commit sin AGAIN! I was torn up thinking I had left my abuser and he could have come to Christ if I stayed (I would be dead now though). Adding to this was the fact that because I had remarried now I sinned again and it seemed to be I could never make it right but only stay put being a lesser Christian for having done these things willingly or possibly in ignorance (I was hoping for the later). So the whole mess of the divorce and all the manipulations and heart ache after the divorce and the added pain of the new h not loving me and having shades of abuse was my doing. I was to take it and hope for the best while enduring all things for Love of God and a kind of penance for my sins enduring so that I would be sanctified and believing he would be won without a word by my conduct.
This makes for a longer comment. I was just talking to a lady who said at her church the Sunday school teacher just taught that marriage isn’t to be enjoyed but to be endured etc. A Piper type description of marriage (in a nondenominational church). Never a reason to divorce except adultery. This man talks about his family and all they do etc. Doesn’t sound like a Bible study time.
When people use the scriptures that were intended to “set the captive free” to create bondage they are not in tune with the Spirit behind the words. Jesus said “my sheep hear my voice and they know my voice”. I’m learning to trust that Voice It is only the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers lives that help them understand the Spirit behind the text. I think it a primary need in abuse survivors to truly understand who they are in Christ, get their identity back as a person quite capable of hearing and being lead by a Shepherd that wants their freedom and safety. Abusers steal identity. Sadly the church that backs up the idea that women exist for marriage can’t think outside of something that is a coffin for some of us.
Before I understood my freedom to leave an abusive marriage, a wise friend shared this passage as a warning. She told me that God’s judgement was going to come on my husband because of his destruction of my body, soul and mind because I am temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (16) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
In that context she shared that when my husbands destruction came if I was in his vicinity some of the rubble of that destruction might land on me. This is exactly what happened, his Narcissistic kingdom, built on oppression, abuse and debauchery was exposed in high places and he was crushed by the backlash. Since I remained with him, the repercussions of that destruction did impact my life. God’s isn’t mocked I was given fair warning to clear out of the area before the atomic bomb of backlash landed.
Thank you for posting this, Pastor Jeff! Divorce was finalized last week… I have mixed emotions about it, but I am at peace knowing that God will not condemn me or shame me for entering into divorce with ex-husband, even tho he is the one who filed after I dropped everything the first round because I thought he was wanting to reconcile with me, but instead he manipulated me… Thank you once again!
Thank you so much for writing this. It has been 2 years since the scales were lifted from my eyes and I saw the nature of my x’s heart. I can still vividly recall sitting in my pastors office for a counseling session and being dumbfounded that I was expected to commit to a path of reconciliation. I remember saying that I could not understand how God would not see my husbands treatment of me as a violation of our covenant. In that moment I honestly thought that finding out he had been unfaithful would have been less hurtful than his blatant disregard for my health, safety, and well being. An affair I would have been able to rationalize as a moment of personal weakness on his part but what he did….. was thought out, planned, manipulative hatred directed with laser like focus directly at me. How it could be expected that my marital covenant was intact after that really did not make sense to me.
I still struggle to put together the thoughts that sit on the edge of my brain. The idea that infidelity is the only bad thing a spouse can do that will cause irreparable damage to the nature of the marital relationship is just….. mind boggling. That belief is like believing that God views sexual relationship in higher regard and importance than emotional relationship. The physical act of laying with another person is somehow worse than the act of intentionally breaking down another person emotionally for personal gain. It just makes no sense to me what so ever.
BH – yes, what you experienced was the Spirit directing you, and then the pastor and church quenching that Spirit. They quench the Spirit because they hold to false doctrine. They have zeal, but it is zeal gone wrong. They have been taught that marriage must be preserved at all costs and that such a course will be honoring to the Lord and a wonderful testimony to the world. It is neither.
In my first marriage, I found out for the third and final time my ex was cheating on me. I honestly cannot tell you which is worse speaking from my experience, my first ex’s cheating on me three times, or my now ex’s abuse (with suspicion he was having an affair). Either way, both were/are hard to have to deal with…
Round*Two. I apologize if I marginalized yours or anyone’s experience with infidelity. That was in no way my intent but I can see how it reads that way. I struggled to find the right words to express what I experienced at the hands of my former church family. It was like I was being told sure you are deeply hurt but it is not “the right kind” of hurt for you to be allowed to leave your marriage. It was and is very confusing. I am really sorry for communicating that poorly. You are absolutely right, both are awful, self focused, hurtful, and very wrong.
No need to apologize! Those were your thoughts, your hurts! I understand completely what you are going through! I pray the Lord comforts you and gives you strength and clarity in all you are dealing with!
Thank you Pastor Jeff for bringing up the lesser to the greater argument. The only problem, which you stated in the beginning of this article, is that people do not understand how evil and demonic abuse is. Then this argument would make a whole lot of sense. And I think your last thought, that this marriage is null and void should make abuse grounds for an annulment. Like there was never a marriage to begin with. The great deception was carried out on my “wedding day”. More like anti-wedding to an anti-husband. BTW, we just went through mediation this week and I am a few weeks away from being finally divorced. It is like a great big evil weight has been lifted from my heart and life. Thank you Jesus!
Re: Adultery or Abuse, and the written word.
Deuteronomy 13 is a very clear word of God’s intentions. This is a great piece of black and white words to read. God says here that if any family member, etc., or a spouse, who entices you to serve another god shall be exposed, judged by the elders and stoned. Not keeping God’s laws of loving Him and each other is serving another god. Not keeping the vows you spoke before God to love and care for your spouse, is serving another god. We don’t stone people today. Jesus teaches us to forgive and let vengeance be His. But He also tells us in 2 Tim 3:1-5 to avoid these abusive people., period. It doesn’t say, Oh, except your husband.
Also, a third witness in the written word would be Matthew 19 where Jesus tells us that if we leave brother or sister or mother or father or spouse or children or houses or property for His name’s sake, then we shall inherit an hundredfold in this lifetime. Interesting, hey?
I believe these abusive people are ruled by a spirit of leviathan, or pharaoh (same thing), and that they have the mind of the beast. We are instructed to renew our minds through the word, and they have inherited or become beast-minded by listening and obeying that god. We have the mind of Christ. They have the mind of leviathan. (Thus the “I don’t think like you do” revelation.) Read Job 41-42 and see what God shows you: the physical features are spiritually discerned. I also believe that only God can deliver such a one through intercession and loving the enemy from a distance (a severed distance !) Every time we engage with such a one, we never forget it. It is like entering a hurricane and being thrown out, spit out. They are captive to the devil, to do his will. It becomes a question whether or not they still have free will. I don’t think they do anymore, although they once did. Leviathan is now in a stronghold position over their lives. I really felt that I left the devil, and divorced the devil, not just the man. It was a significant spiritual moment for me.
Perhaps another helpful item would be the definition of “husband”: Protector and Provider. Abusers are not either, at all. Thus the abuser is in complete violation of the Ephesians 5 scripture about husbands like Christ.
I am so glad you wrote the book, Jeff. Reading it is like you were there in that marriage and saw everything because much of what you wrote, I experienced. People need to know they are not alone, or crazy!
Barb, your comment “I don’t think like you do”.
This has been framed to me at various times. Once, When an exercise of closing our eyes and thinking of how God looks at us…..I saw a gigantic smile. Which shocked me and then made me cry mostly because I had just been told what a faker Christian I am etc. When asking what my h saw the response was “I don’t think like you. I can’t see God ever looking at me with delight because I’m a sinner. He sees me only through Christ’s work and him covered in the blood.” It seemed to turn it into he had the right or more correct view in the exercise and I might have been just imagining what I wanted. The pastor didn’t say this he only said if anything other than Gods delight for you was thought of you needed to repent.
I am so thankful you take the time to expound on God’s Word on this VERY important subject. If you only knew how many times I come to ACFJ to learn, to strengthen my knowledge of this subject, so I can share it abroad!
This teaching is NOT just for those who have been harmed by abuse, or those of us who have loved ones, harmed by an abuser, it is for THE CHURCH! We must raise up our young children hearing soundly on the subject of marriage, and the roles of women and men in and outside of marriage. Ignorance on such imperative subjects can be tolerated no longer. Generations have already been destroyed, and their witnesses dampened because of wrong teaching on something so simple and obvious that abuse IS EVIL, and obviously, that abuse of a spouse is equally and MORE TREACHEROUSLY EVIL THAN ADULTERY!
My first child did not get a mother who taught her this so clearly, but ALL of the rest of them have and will continue to be taught this imperative teaching throughout their lives, because of your faithfulness in teaching this to God’s people through ACFJ.
Just tonight, my youngest daughter, heard the Bible study teacher pray, ‘because we know that God hates divorce…’ in her prayer, and a red flag went up in her young mind. She humbly waited for a private moment with the adult teacher, and said meekly to her, ‘Does your Bible really have the words ‘God hates divorce in it?’
Because that (female) child did not fear man, that teacher, whose spouse is a Bible professor in a seminary, heard a young child share the truth of that scripture, recalling God’s own divorce from Israel, because her mommy had first learned those truths here, on ACFJ. You can be sure, the spouse was consulted.
We will never know the full impact of this teaching on ACFJ, but, I am confident, it is a worthy battle.
Thank you for all you do, and write. Thank you to Barbara and all the regular contributors!
I had an affair after years of abuse. The thing is, if I had not had an affair, I would not have known what was going on in my marriage was abuse. After my affair, I went to counseling. I was so grieved over my sins. After some probing questions my counselor asked me if I felt I was in an abusive situation. For the first time in my marriage I finally realized what I had ben through wasn’t just typical marriage fighting. It was abuse. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and spiritual abuse. So now I feel stuck. I sinned greatly against God and my husband. No doubt there. I committed adultery. I don’t try to blame the abuse on my affair as I understand I am responsible for my actions. But how do I move forward from here. I’m in an abusive marriage. But I read things about how adultery is just as bad or equally bad (which it is, I’m not denying it) and feel stuck. Like I am no better than my abusive husband and will remain stuck in this marriage. Part of me wishes the affair never happened, but then I think if it didn’t would I have ever realized what was happening in my life was abuse? I need guidance. I need help. I know Christ has forgiven me. I am thankful for the accounts of the adulterous women who found grace and mercy in Christ. With that said, how do I not compare myself to the ugliness of my husbands abusive ways?
Broken Girl –
Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth…or what benefit they may be to you. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers…
The affair certainly complicates things. However, it has been dealt with. You have openly confessed your sin to both God and your husband. You have repented. You have sought and received forgiveness. It is over and done with. You are not continuing to abuse your covenant vows via ongoing adulterous relationships.
Your husband, however, has not repented of his violations of covenant vows. He continues to treacherously abuse your marriage covenant, using it as an opportunity to enslave and abuse you.
You do not have to continue living in slavery to his abuse. Christ offers redemption from covenants of abusive bondage. You are not under bondage. In Christ, you are free to leave, seek divorce, and live in peace.
And the fact that the affair led to counseling which led to having your eyes opened to the abuse…all I can say is Praise God! That’s how God works in the lives of His beloved children. “…God causes all things (even our own sin) to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 – parenthetical clause added for emphasis.)
By staying you cannot change your past. By leaving you can change your future.
I am not trying to minimize your prior adultery. However, your prior adultery is no longer an issue. His ongoing abuse continues to be an issue…an evil toxic issue preventing you from living in peace.
Trust God’s forgiveness. Do not let sins He has forgiven hold you in bondage to an unrepentant abuser.
Praying for you!
Amen.. I totally agree.
This is my situation exactly (except it was mostly emotional and spiritual abuse). I take [the] full responsibility of my actions but I find that my guilt gets in the way of me seeing past my own sins and failures. I am in so much pain over it and really, I never wanted to hurt him. I truly loved my husband. I just felt like if I didn’t do something I was going to end up taking my life. We both had depression, but he used it to completely isolate me. I ended up using my depression to selfishly escape.
I grew up with an abusive dad and I never wanted that in a husband. The first man I ever dated became my husband (I was young) but only after being told I had to vow myself to him first – like a marital vow. He was very insecure. I didn’t feel right about it but I vowed anyways, I was stupid. I was told we were married so no matter what we are committed.
Even before we became actually legally wed, I was already put on a horrible emotional rollercoaster and found that I constantly had to make him happy or he will give me the silent treatment. There were some sexual manipulations included… He never wanted to take responsibility for anything. I was made to feel guilty when I went on mission trips I felt God call me to, because he didn’t approve. He was very fundamentalist. I felt very isolated, neglected and alone.
He complained about doing very basic stuff. I had to try to take care of myself, he was so lost in his own helplessness he felt like having a job was to great of a burden to bear. Needless to say, I got financially drained as a result. I was shunned because I said we shouldn’t buy a video game (he already bought one the week before and they are not cheap). I felt so confused and hurt (I was taking over finances, which he agreed to but later he resented me for it – his spending was very out of control but was so was mine – partly because I constantly bought stuff we didn’t need so he could be happy again).
He lied to me about tobacco and alcohol initially and a lot of my own personal money went to his addictions. I felt used. But I wouldn’t let myself acknowledge that, I kept making excuses for him. I was wrong to do that. I should have had boundaries.
After legally wed, he stopped having sex with me, he knew I had temptations and I told him about my struggles but he brushed it off. When we did have sex I felt it was all about him, I didn’t feel very loved. I withdrew more. It came to the point where I would sit in my car and cry to God after work why I don’t have any peace and why I am constantly plagued with suicidal thoughts and panic attacks (I never had panic attacks before I met him). I would take old pills for depression and sleeping pills after bouts of his refusal to talk to me. He constantly pitied and victimised himself. So I always felt like the bad guy. So now its very hard for me to convince myself that I wasn’t the bad guy. I dissociated so much that it’s hard for me to recall too much of our past. I feel its mentally blocked.
I had put marriage on a very high pedestal. I always believed divorce was evil and NEVER an option. Then I got locked into a marriage that was killing me mentally and spiritually. I thought adultery was the only way out. My stupidity led the way from there. I just wanted to feel free but instead, I made it to where the real issues couldn’t be addressed, I just caused more pain and hurt and now I can’t see past my own damage to deal with the damage that was done to me. I can’t even feel anger. Just sadness and confusion and tons of self-doubt.
Dear sister, thank you for sharing your story. I am sure other readers on this blog will find it helpful because they will identify with lots of what you’ve gone through.
The teaching that divorce is never an option is a very wrong teaching. It makes people like you feel trapped in destructive marriages.
Your husband coercively controlled you right from the get go — asking you to vow yourself to him even before you were married! For a man to do that to a woman he is dating — it’s abuse.
It’s clear that you acknowledge your own sins in the way the marriage ended. But the difficulties you had in relating to your husband during the courtship and marriage were not your fault: they are primarily the fault of your father who abused you and the husband who abused you. Your father’s abuse crushed your spirit, so you were not able to enter into an intimate adult relationship from a position of inner strength and confidence in your personhood and your right to be treated with dignity.
The fact that you never had panic attacks before you met your husband shows that he was mistreating and abusing you. Your panic attacks were deep responses to the fact that you were living with an abusive husband (the very situation you had wanted not to end up dealing with!). Your husband’s abuse on top of your father’s abuse was the straw on the camel’s back.
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