A Cry For Justice

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

My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church — a reblog from Natalie

Natalie, who blogs at Emotional Abuse Survivor (formerly called Visionary Womanhood), has described the ongoing spiritual abuse that she is suffering from the elders at the church she and her soon-to-be-ex husband were attending.  She posted it on her Facebook page and with her permission we are sharing it with you.

My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church 


Note: On April 30 2015 we published John Piper’s old church is admitting to fault in how it has addressed domestic abuse, and making changes.  It seems pretty clear, from the way they’ve dealt with Natalie, that Bethlehem Baptist haven’t laid the axe to the root of the tree, so they are still mistreating victims of domestic abuse.

We know that Bethlehem Baptist got training from Ps Chris Moles. They chose not to have Leslie Vernick come and do training since she is a woman. (Eye rolls are appropriate here.) They also got John Henderson, the Executive Director of the Center for Church Equipping, which is a training arm of the Association of Biblical Counselors, to come and do some training in addition to Chris Moles.

We wonder why that training didn’t bring about all the changes that were needed.


We would like to apologize to Natalie for this reblog coming out so much later than her original post. It’s only because Barb has been more than usually busy.



  1. Lea

    They chose not to have Leslie Vernick come and do training since she is a woman. (Eye rolls are appropriate here.)

    I think that one deserves more than eyerolls! I don’t trust any church that refuses to listen to women. Period.

  2. Avid Reader


    We are praying for you.


  3. newcreation

    This comment isn’t directly related but what is A Cry for Justice’s thoughts on Tony Evans’ Kingdom husband and wife series? Thank you.

    • It seems that Tony Evans is one of the false teachers. Click here [Internet Archive link] to see that Evans is named by Lighthouse Trails as one of the promoters of ‘Contemplative Christianity’ which is a dangerous false teaching that is subtly attempting to lead Protestants back to Roman Catholicism. We would not recommend anything from Tony Evans.

  4. healinginhim

    Yes, Natalie – definitely praying for you.

    And ACFJ … what a humble ministry. I am quite frankly amazed at your countless posts and the numerous ways you articulate love and support to many of us.
    I receive updates from Emotional Abuse Survivor – Thank you for posting Natalie’s story for those who are not aware of it.

  5. JayD

    I don’t understand how they think they can learn how to deal with domestic violence, which in most cases is directed towards women, without actually talking to a woman!
    Seriously this makes me want to scream and hit something.

    • lonelywife

      Leslie Vernick has been instrumental in helping me and thousands of other women in emotionally abusive marriages find FREEDOM!
      I’m with JayD… I’d like to scream and hit something over the sheer arrogance and stupidity involved in THAT decision!

      • Estelle

        This prejudice against learning from women angers me, too.
        Where would the science of Radiography be if not for people learning from Marie Curie?

  6. standsfortruth

    This was a reoccurring theme in Jessica’s testimony, and my testimony was devalued because of this.
    Quoting Jessica-

    only to get the door slammed in my face because I was female who was expected to shut up and submit to everyone with the correct anatomy.

    Correct anatomy?
    This is what is so outragous in the church. The church has discounted this person’s credible testimony because of her anatomy? What about her heart and mind? How long will the church continue to shut their ears to the crys of “God’s people” because of their anatomy?

    To their own shame and disgrace, I can hear the words of our Lord addressing these types of churches…

    Rev 3:15-22 These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    • Whilst I agree with everything you say, I want to remind us all that the prejudice about ‘correct anatomy’ is not the only thing which leads to churches discounting abuse victims’ testimony. If that were so, churches would believe the testimony of male victims of domestic abuse while discounting the testimony of female victims. But the wilful or naive blindness to EVIL is another big driver. And that wilful blindness about evil, combined with silly ideas (courtesy of John Piper et al) about what REAL men must look like, and what repentance looks like, means churches often believe the stories of men who are pseudo-victims — i.e., abusers — while discounting the testimony of men who are genuine victims of abuse from their wives.

      As we say here: ACFJ is not a Women’s Rights Movement – It is a Victims’ Rights Movement.

  7. lonelywife

    Thank you for speaking out Natalie! I was “church disciplined” at a former church in Fl.

    I didn’t agree with the Pastor when he was welcoming in a man and his “girlfriend”, when in fact, this man had a wife and two children that he’d left because of his drug addiction and prostitution!

    In speaking out in defense of my friend…the abusive pastors wrath was now turned in my direction…and I ended up writing a letter requesting my name be withdrawn from the membership as I was leaving the church…but that wasn’t good enough for THAT abusive Pastor…he sent his deacons after me, and when I refused a meeting, he publically named me an outcast, and had the entire 300 member church stand up and promise to treat me as a heathen!

    I know about churches and Pastors like Bethlehem Baptist. Yes I do. Vipers…all of them.

    • …always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15 NASB1995)

      And Christians wonder why it is so rare for unbelievers to ask for that account. Yet isn’t it obvious? The church has become so corrupted by vipers that it is a stench to unbelievers.

  8. ruth

    Bro Jeff & Barbara thank you for sharing Natalie’s story of courage! Makes you wonder why they weren’t consistent with their ‘God hates divorce’ mantra from the beginning? Why did they act supportive and then stab her in the back? Maybe they were acting out of genuine compassion to begin with until someone higher up put the stop to that b/c it didn’t line up with their doctrine .

  9. Heather Black (formerly H)

    Thanks for exposing this Natalie, and for keeping such good records. As I was reading your post I kept thinking, you should post the actual emails / letters / whatever that they sent you (and the ones you sent) with names redacted perhaps, rather than just paraphrasing it as you did. They shouldn’t be ashamed of anything they say to you, right?

    Continuing to stand up for yourself and make this treatment public adds even more hurt [and?] difficulty to you after you’ve already gone through so much, but I pray that it will have a good purpose and God will use it to open some people’s eyes about how abuse is handled by the church. It certainly strengthens me and gives me courage in dealing with my own church.

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