A Cry For Justice

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

If abuse is grounds for divorce, why didn’t God say so plainly in the Bible?

Why didn’t Jesus say abuse is grounds for divorce?

Why is there no explicit statement in the Bible that abuse is grounds for divorce and a victim of abuse may remarry after divorcing the abuser?

Why didn’t Mosaic Law have an explicit law against wife beating and other types of spousal abuse?

Why didn’t God make sure that the Ancient Israelites knew that wife beating was wrong? Other ancient near east cultures would have assumed that wife beating was okay. What was to prevent Israel from likewise assuming it was okay?

How can I know for sure that the five books of Moses—the original “Law”—allow divorce for abuse?

The New Testament indirectly condemns wife beating by telling husbands to love their wives as their own bodies and not be harsh with them. But without the OT Law providing wife beating as clear grounds of divorce, how can we confirm that the NT says wife beating is grounds for divorce?

If abuse is grounds for divorce, including emotional cruelty or just even basic treacherous and dishonest dealings that occur repeatedly and thus remarriage is permissible, why did Jesus not just SAY SO?

Surely He who is omniscient would be able to look forward in time and would know what a difficult issue the whole marriage divorce remarriage thing would be? Why didn’t He be much more clear about such a sensitive and serious issue? He would have spared many vulnerable people terrible agony of conscience.

Why wasn’t God more clear in His Word? I feel creepy saying this because it’s kind of like taking God to task for not writing the Bible properly…it makes me wonder about the whole inspired word of God thing sometimes.¹

Many Christians who have been abused by a marriage partner are in anguish over questions like these.

Quelling the anguish and setting the record straight

Why is there no explicit statement in the Bible that abuse is grounds for divorce? The Bible doesn’t give a law code like the legislation which governments pass today. It gives case studies and general precepts which we are called to interpret with wisdom. The Bible doesn’t use the word ‘abuse’ but it does use words like oppression, injustice, affliction.

The Mosaic Law simply assumes that divorces will occur. It doesn’t set out a list of explicit grounds for divorce. It forbids divorce in only two very unusual situations. I talk about the two Mosaic Laws that forbid divorce in Appendix 5 of my book Not Under Bondage. Here is a quick summary of those two Laws.

  • When a man slanders his bride by accusing her of not being a virgin when he married her and his accusation is shown to be a false accusation, Mosaic Law says he is not allowed to divorce her. (Deut 22:13-19)
  • When a man coerces or compels an un-betrothed virgin to have sex with him, Mosaic Law orders him to marry her and forbids him divorcing her as long as he lives (Deut 22:28-29).This doesn’t mean a woman was compelled to marry the man who raped her. Exodus 22:16-17 says the woman’s father could veto the marriage. The woman’s father could veto the marriage at his daughter’s request. If the marriage was vetoed, the rapist had to pay a hefty amount as compensation to the woman.

Jesus did NOT say adultery is the only ground for divorce. Instone-Brewer has convincingly argued that in Matthew 19 Jesus was only pushing back against male-privileged rabbinic interpretation of Deuteronomy 24. The Jews who heard Jesus talking to the Pharisees would have known that Jesus was only referring to their hairsplitting of Deuteronomy 24:1 in order to justify cavalier divorce for men.

All four times Jesus mentioned divorce, he was pushing back hard against the male-privileged interpretation of Deut 24 which was common in his day. He admonished Jewish men for twisting Deuteronomy 24 to advantage themselves.

That understanding got lost in the ensuing decades, as more and more gentiles came into the church, the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and the church became hyperfocused on celibacy.  For many hundreds of years Christians have misunderstood the debate between Jesus and the Pharisees. Like a limpet that clings to a rock, this misunderstanding is very hard to dislodge from Christendom. We need to cast it out.

Paul did not contradict Jesus, he confirmed what Jesus had said and amplified it. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul made it clear that a Christian is at liberty to end a marriage if the other spouse has abused, deserted or been sexually unfaithful.

Male bias

For millennia, men² have interpreted Scripture through their own lens. By twisting small elements of Scripture and then magnifying those twists to advantage themselves, they have made virtually everyone think that their legalistic lens is the only lens to see through.

The Pharisees in Jesus day interpreted the OT through their male-biased lenses. Christian leaders, most of whom have been privileged men, have interpreted the divorce question through their own biased lenses. Nothing new under the sun.

The trick is to stop playing their game. Don’t ask why the Bible doesn’t list grounds for divorce, or doesn’t say abuse is grounds for divorce in so many words. Identify the contradictions in the biased interpretations, and blow them away.

The mistaken view that Jesus said ‘adultery was the ONLY ground for divorce’ fits very nicely with men’s priorities. The belief that men’s sexual needs get priority has been around ever since the Fall. The idea that the husband owns the wife, the double standard about women’s virginity while men can sow their wild oats, polygamy—all are expressions of that belief. The misunderstanding that Jesus said “adultery is the ONLY ground for divorce” has very much suited men.

Jesus appears to give the Pharisees one reason for divorce namely sexual unfaithfulness and leaves it at that after telling them that remarriage for any other reason constitutes adultery. …

I have always thought to myself something like “Okay, the wrong penis in the wrong vagina makes divorce and remarriage okay. But incest, or wife beating, or just being treated like dirt and dealt with dishonestly, or any other behaviour that constitutes a violation of trust and truth and love and respect in a marriage does not?”

It makes no sense that adultery is somehow considered more evil and more a violation of trust than these other things that are worse. (Kind of Anonymous)

God gave lots of balanced guidance in His Word, but most Christians ignored it

The Ten Commandments condemn false accusation, slander, theft, and sexual immorality. The commandments apply in all sorts of situations. Jesus gave us examples of how to apply the ten commandments. He said murder is not just killing someone, it is also hatred and verbal abuse (Matt 5:21-22).  Since the Law against murder includes verbal abuse, how much more does it cover wife-beating?  Furthermore, “you shall not kill” implies you ought not remain in a position where you might be killed or injured by another.

We can do the same thing with the commandment against theft. It’s wrong to steal someone’s chattels. It is much more wrong to brainwash them to erode their person-hood, so they end up being just a shell, an intimidated puppet under your control.

Adultery, desertion and abuse violate the heart of the marriage covenant. This fits with what Paul said in 1 Cor 7:12-15. Conduct that trashes the marriage covenant—the cleaving, and the one flesh—permits the innocent partner to divorce.

The blind have been leading the blind. Christians for centuries mistook Jesus’ words about divorce. Christian leaders, especially those with a pharisaic mindset, elevated their misinterpretation of Jesus’ words and made it THE RULE by which believers had to interpret everything else that Scripture says about divorce.

The liberty to divorce a covenant-breaking spouse, the liberty that Paul had enunciated, was downplayed and narrowed to extremis.

A small portion of Mosaic Law (Deut 24:1) was misinterpreted by saying it allowed divorce only for sexual immorality. Christians did this, thus replicating one of rabbinic misinterpretations of Deuteronomy 24.

Exodus 21 and Deut 22, passages which gave rights to women, were ignored by most Christians until Instone-Brewer spotlighted how they pertain to divorce. Instone-Brewer has convincingly argued that when Jesus was alive all Jews accepted that Ex 21 meant abuse was grounds for divorce. It’s fruitless to get hung up on the fact that we do not have first century AD documents which show Jewish courts using Ex 21 to enable women to divorce for abuse. Don’t get bogged down in the left-brain dominated thinking that says “we must be able to cite ancient documents that Jewish courts used Ex 21 to allow women to abusive husbands”. That kind of thinking gets tangled in its own shoelaces.

Traditionalist Christian leaders would like us to focus on their mistaken understanding of Jesus’ words about divorce. Their lens favours abusers and oppresses victims of abuse. We have to stop seeing things through their lens.

Malachi 2:16 was mistranslated way back in history. This meant that Christians all believed ‘God hates divorce’. That wrong translation welded the other misunderstandings to each other. The result was a cage from which no victim of abuse could escape without excruciating pangs of conscience. False guilt: pangs of conscience that came from false teaching.

Why did God allow this to happen?

The fault is not God’s. The fault is not Moses or Jesus or Paul’s.

Jesus as a man had to push back against the way men had interpreted scripture to suit themselves in his day and age. Since the NT was completed, men have twisted the divorce texts in different ways, but still in ways that suit themselves. The fault lies with fallen men who have interpreted scripture from their own biases. Men who’ve had insufficient insight or empathy with the plight of victims of abuse.

No one can plumb the depths of why God does not stop the powerful oppressing the vulnerable, or why God allows false teaching to be so widespread in the church. But we know God is not the author of all that sin.

And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. Gen 15:12-16

“The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” — maybe that haunting phrase can help us tentatively guess why God has allowed there to be such distortion of his Word re divorce and remarriage.

The people of Israel would be afflicted for years but would eventually be led to the promised land. The folks who have interpreted Scripture to suit themselves and burdened the vulnerable with anguish and false guilt, are perhaps a bit like the Amorites. Their iniquity will be judged in the end, but maybe it is not yet full.

The Bible talks about “the mystery of iniquity” in 2 Thess 2:7.  That iniquity has been going on for a very long time. I dare not try to interpret this with logic. I only offer it as something to ponder and meditate on:

2 Thessalonians 2
We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in that we shall assemble unto him,
not to be suddenly moved from your mind. And be not troubled, neither by spirit nor by words, nor yet by letter which seems to come from us, as though the day of Christ were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means. For the Lord comes not unless there come a departing first and that sinful man be revealed – the son of perdition, who is an adversary, and is exalted above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he shall sit as God in the temple of God and show himself as God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholds, so that he may be manifest at his time. For the mystery of that iniquity does he already work, which only locks until it is taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked one be exposed, whom the Lord will consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and will destroy with the appearance of his coming – namely him whose coming is by the working of Satan, with all lying power, signs, and wonders, 10 and in all the deceptiveness of unrighteousness among those who are perishing. They perish because they would not receive the love of the truth, so that they might have been saved. 11 And therefore God will send them strong delusion, so that they will believe lies; 12 so that all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Notes

¹ I compiled the questions that opened this post from comments by Clockwork Angel and Kind of Anonymous. Many thanks to them. I beg church leaders & academics—please read their comments to hear their anguish, and please comment here at this blog to say you’ve done so. Don’t leave us victims feeling like we are seldom heard by church leaders!  Please come out of the shadows if you genuinely support us.

² I say ‘men’ because for millennia men have been able to dominate the discourse of Scriptural interpretation.

Men do not menstruate; men do not have wombs. Men have not had to suffer the pain and difficulty of blood coming from their genitals every month. Men have not had to suckle crying babies from their breasts in the middle of the night. Men have not died in childbirth

Until very recently in human history, men have been the chief bread winners. By the sweat of their brow men have worked to put food on the table for their families. Since the Fall, men have had advantages, and burdens, that women have not had. But no reasonable person could deny that men’s advantages have a led to men’s viewpoints dominating the interpretation of God’s Word for the last few millennia. Men have by and large held the megaphone re what Scripture says about divorce.

***

I will be incorporating some of this post into the revised edition of Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion, which I intend to publish this year if I possibly can. I’m working on the revised edition while trying to keep this blog going. It’s a lot of work. Please pray for me.

Further Reading: What Does The Bible Say About Divorce? – one of our FAQ pages.

 

 

65 Comments

  1. Healing Heart

    This is powerful. The burdens we carry after leaving abusers are always with us, and you explain why.
    Can’t thank you enough.

  2. Mary Reid

    Dear Jesus this is a new day of understanding. Thank you for the kind and gentle examples of how to treat people and especially women and children. As you shine your love for all, send a piece of it to our sister Barbara. Give her insights into true truth and give her strength to continue the battle for peace, truth and understanding. Thank you Lord for the technology that allows me to view her posts and for the comfort and peace of knowing the truth about the almighty and ever loving heart of the Father for His precious children. Protect and provide for her and make her path straight. Help her to know you are pleased with her work on behalf of the oppressed everywhere.  Amen

  3. Paul

    All forms of abuse are condemned by most non-Christians who respond to common grace. Society says it’s wrong. It’s sinful and satanic. God is not the author and approver of such evils. The laws of the U.K in which I live and all safe guarding laws teach us to report and safe guard vulnerable people from all forms of abuse. Turning a blind eye to it is neglect and those who work with vulnerable people can be disciplined for doing so.

    It’s sad that some who profess to be Christian don’t treat it the same way and seek to justify it. Unbelievers are not more righteous than God and there is no way God calls or commands any woman, man or child to remain in such circumstances. It’s interesting how many Christians really turn God’s grace into a licence to sin when it comes to these things.

    The truth is that many who attend our Churches are enabling abuse, and to be honest I have lost faith in most due to the evil things they really teach and practice all in the name of Jesus. My advice is take nothing to do with such people and report all abuse. Shame on them for using Christian doctrine to do what all abusive people are skilled in and that is to put people under bondage and fear so the abuse can continue. They do this through twisting the Bible. This is all cult like and so wrong.

    I have seen and experienced spiritual manipulation and abuse myself and to be honest, if I did not actually believe on Jesus I would take nothing else to do with our faith. Wrote by a man.

    [paragraph breaks added by Eds for ease of reading]

    • Helovesme

      Paul from the start I was picking out lines that I really liked!

      “safe guarding laws teach us to report and safe guard vulnerable people from all forms of abuse.”

      “Unbelievers are not more righteous than God and there is no way God calls or commands any woman, man or child to remain in such circumstances.”

      “Shame on them for using Christian doctrine to do what all abusive people are skilled in ”

      “if I did not actually believe on Jesus I would take nothing else to do with our faith.”

      My thoughts are personal and therefore limited, so please keep that in mind. Not making widespread generalizations AT ALL as I respond to you.

      I noticed words like “safe” and “vulnerable,” used in the context of domestic abuse, seem to be thoroughly lacking. It is so “unbelievable,” that of ALL places, a person should feel the safest and the least vulnerable at home.

      That leads me to your next statement. When a person goes missing, it is highly likely that the authorities will question the family members first. Not only to gain as much information as possible, but they are also potential suspects. This is a horrible, wretched reality, but logic demands no less. The safety of this missing person demands no less.

      Logic can be twisted and manipulated until an agenda is formed that is anything BUT logical. I do not believe that men are naturally logical and women are naturally emotional. There is nothing logical in condoning abuse and calling that Biblical.

      I’ve been around professing Christians who have been raised in the church, who have read the Bible more, have gone to church longer, and from the outside looking in—-have led “morally” upright lives. No drinking, drugs or sex before marriage.

      And I’ve been around professing Christians of the opposite “resume.” They have had a fair number of ups and downs, and depending on your point of view, you might wonder how “Christian” they are or are not.

      To your third point, never assume that if a person has a squeaky clean background or upbringing, that they will love the truth as He declares it. Or that they love and embrace His righteousness and discard their own.

      Down to your last point: Amen is all I can say to that. This website never, ever wavers on the rock solid fact that God is faithful no matter how much evil human beings are capable of and inflict on one another.

  4. Paul

    Just to say thank God for people like you, and there are more who actually teach the Gospel which remember is Good News. Some turn it into bad news.

    Those who teach that sexual sin, desertion and actions of abuse which lead to one or both which they usually do when people are confronted which can’t be remedied are not Bible grounds for divorce turn this Good News into bad news for all who experience such suffering. It’s Good News for the sinner or abuser who refuses to repent but bad news for the innocent.

    Some want to make it look like this ministry attacks men. As a man, I don’t believe this and am confident that you defend the rights of both genders. God is no respecter of persons and I am confident that you as a sister and I as a brother both equally apply these principles to both genders. Wives who sin these ways are wrong and men who sin these ways are wrong. Keep up the good work from brother Paul. U.K. (Location airbrushed for protection.)

    P.S I am for all you sisters and call on all men every where to stand with you. For those men who are abusive my call is repent and seek the help you need. At the end, you will be proud of yourself for doing so. Now that’s being a real man.

    [paragraph breaks added by Eds for ease of reading]

    • Thanks Paul! I appreciate you recognising that this blog is trying to defend the rights of all victims of abuse, no matter what their gender.

      My next post will be dealing with the gender issue. To anyone who thinks this blog is unfairly biased towards one gender, I encourage you to follow the blog and check it out.

    • Helovesme

      Paul, thank you so much for that encouragement!

      It angers me that anyone would think this website encourages man-hating. JUST the opposite, and here is why:

      It is only true, Biblical love that compels a person to hold others accountable. And will not back down or waver. This is often where we get mixed up and send out mixed messages.

      I make the argument that if you refuse to rebuke and call to account those that deserve it, and try to whitewash it by claiming how much you love them and don’t want to hurt them or make them feel bad:

      In actuality, you are saying that you hate them. You are so indifferent to the their needs, not to mention the needs of those they are hurting—–that you have no interest in calling out their evil, and calling out for the needs of the innocent.

      I’ve been hurt by a fair number of men. I would never, ever declare that all men are bad and women are better off without them.

      The reason why is because I KNOW there are true blue brothers in Christ out there. Why in the heck would I throw them under the bus, and then try to back it up by declaring that the male gender drove me to it?

      You might hear someone try to justify their crimes against humanity with this sort of argument: I was given a raw deal and therefore I have the right to punish society.

      I haven’t been around this website long enough, but Barbara has always welcomed male commentators and I love hearing their perspectives. And there are male victims of abuse. I would never, ever want them to feel pushed away based on their gender, any more than females do not want the same to be done to them!

  5. Finding Answers

    From the original post “No one can plumb the depths of why God does not stop the powerful oppressing the vulnerable, or why God allows false teaching to be so widespread in the church. But we know God is not the author of all that sin.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……The Bible doesn’t give a law code like the legislation which governments pass today. It gives case studies and general precepts which we are called to interpret with wisdom. The Bible doesn’t use the word ‘abuse’ but it does use words like oppression, injustice, affliction.”

    ^That.

    Mary Reid commented (21ST AUGUST 2019 – 10:33 AM) “….Thank you for the kind and gentle examples of how to treat people and especially women and children…..”

    Amen to ^That.

    • anonymous

      I read the divorce scriptures again. Jesus said that even if a man divorces his wife and another man marries her he commits adultery. Paul as well said that a wife who has divorced her husband should remain unmarried. Remarriage even if it’s another believer is not permitted because it is not confirmed in scripture.

      • Hi Anonymous! I know you have occasionally commented at over the years at this blog. 🙂

        It sounds to me like you are misunderstanding what Jesus and Paul said, and your misunderstandings are the standard ones that are taught in most churches.

        Have you read my book “Not Under Bondage”? If you have not, I would like to encourage you to read it.

        If you can’t afford to buy it, you can request a gift copy of the book. Click here to find out how to request a gift copy.

  6. Sarah

    I’ve really felt the strength lately on this website. You are changing for the good, not dancing around subjects, really hitting hard truths.. it has been very healing!
    That being said, I wish you could take on this one for me 😦

    “No one can plumb the depths of why God does not stop the powerful oppressing the vulnerable, or why God allows false teaching to be so widespread in the church. But we know God is not the author of all that sin.”

    and to go a step further, why a person can pray for a good and kind spouse and end up with a monster. Why you can cry out to God and get confirmation if it is okay to marry said person and still end up in a horrible situation that has devastated your life. I keep thinking we need to reevaluate the way we preach that when we pray, God will direct us. This was not true in my life and the greatest source of trust broken.

    • Hi Sarah, I can’t promise I will have the time to write a post addressing how churches have mis-taught the doctrine of prayer.

      But I do know this. The notion that “When we pray, God will direct us” is overly-simplistic. It comes from the false idea that God is like the genie in the bottle and there is a formula for getting your prayers answered. “Cry out to God in faith and He will direct you” is a simplistic formula. It assumes that we can direct or control or manipulate God.

      We cannot direct or control or manipulate God with our prayers. God answers our prayers in a whole variety of ways. Sometimes He seems to answer with silence: no direction, no guidance, no open doors, no shut doors — zilch. Sometime He seems to answer us by helping us realise that our requests or questions are the wrong requests and questions…so we go away and rethink our requests or questions. Sometimes He guides us very specifically what to do and what to not do. Sometimes He leaves us to make up our own minds using our own ‘spiritualised common sense’. Sometimes He seems to answer us with something like, “Be patient, the answer won’t come soon.” Sometimes He answers us with “You decide! You are at liberty to make your own choices based on your own best judgement and your gut feelings!”

      Quite often I have had the experience of putting out a rushed and barely articulated prayer to God, and weeks or months or years later I have realised that He has answered my request. The request I threw out on the run and often forgotten that I’d asked for it, has often been granted at a time I was not expecting it. And I am humbled and thankful that He heard and answered me even when I had barely given any energy or perseverance to my request.

      • Gany T.

        I appreciate Sarah’s heartfelt, honest question about prayer (the pervasive preaching about it). And Barb’s reply, exhibiting deeper thinking, honesty, and humility than the common overly-simplistic and self-centered teachings on it.

    • Helovesme

      That was such a great response, Barb. I can’t imagine how many volumes of back and forth comments we could generate on such a good question. But you covered a lot of ground and gave a lot of great insights in your response.

      Sarah’s question brought to mind Clara Hinton’s writings on her blog. She was married for 40 years to a despicable pedophile who was an idolized, beloved preacher as well. He treated Clara horribly throughout those years.

      She said she prayed and prayed as a young girl for a godly man to be married to. It was something she wanted so badly. Obviously it didn’t work out that way for her.

      (I’m going to leave it there since I don’t want to speak for her on this page. Just offering up the story to empathize with Sarah)

      To say that such an occurrence challenges our faith would be an understatement. Can you imagine daring to tell a victim, supposedly to “encourage” them: don’t question God. Don’t question your faith in Him. Any doubts and you are sinful and reflects a lack of trust in Him. He is good all the time, all the time He is good. Case closed.

      Such a cold, callous and completely clueless response would only likely increase a victim’s doubt and distrust of the Lord. Great, I prayed for something that worked out horribly, and now I can’t even seek Him about how my faith in Him has suffered.

      I wish I could share my own personal experiences in this—-they relate to relationships but not just marriage. It would take too long and I don’t think I could minimize. This is often a long and winding road. I don’t know how I could express it all in a “shortcut” version!

      But I know the pain you speak of. When people we trusted abuse that trust, we might look to the Lord and question our trust in Him. This is not always necessarily a sign of a rebellious, unbelieving heart. It is a sign of a person in pain.

      I’ve cried out to God and without asking if He has forsaken me, I’ve pleaded with Him to not forsake me. Then I make it clear that I KNOW He has and never will forsake me, but in the midst of my recent or long ago trials—–I wonder “where” He was.

      Then I declare that if He HADN’T been there the whole time—I never would have made through those awful times.

      Then I end by saying: as long as You are here with me, I can make it through another day. One day a time. Your mercies are new every morning. When I wake up, they will be waiting for me so I can face another day.

      In the meantime, hold me close and hold me together. Otherwise I will fall apart.

      In the meantime. let me talk and I know You will listen. I need answers, but most of all I need You.

      In the meantime, exact justice against those that have wronged me. I need justice, but most of all I need to know You love me.

    • Clockwork Angel

      This is a hard one to answer. In my Mom’s case, she had been a very new baby Christian (from the Calvary Chapel Jesus Movement, no less) and was about to marry my father. He had a few years on her as a Christian, and that made her think (being the young baby Christian that she was) that he was so much more spiritually mature than she was. After all, he seemed to know his Bible so well! Right when they were going to make their car trip to go to Vegas to get married, they prayed that God would stop them if He didn’t want them to get married. On the car ride there, they got a flat tire and had to stop. My Mom told me she knew then that God didn’t want her to get married to my father and that He had answered their prayer. However, my father managed to convince her that that couldn’t possibly have been God. It was only a flat tire, after all. My Mom, considering him to be more mature than her in the faith, and also being lonely and having no Christian family (her atheist family completely rejected her when she got saved), went along with it. Flat tire was fixed, and they got married in Vegas. A regret she had to live with for about 20 years. And more fallout after he abandoned us. (Of course, she doesn’t regret having me.)

      But, what if, like you, she had prayed and nothing had happened? What if God had seemingly given permission? Then what? It does seem to happen to a lot of people. I don’t know what the answer is. I remember in my 20s wanting to get married very badly and praying and praying, and having the way blocked with the only suitor I might have had a chance with. In retrospect, it was a good thing. He wasn’t an abuser, but I think he would have emotionally neglected me. I was lucky. God said no, and didn’t let it happen. Perhaps it was for my Mom’s sake, so she wouldn’t have the stress of a bad marriage when I’m the one taking care of her in her illness (she has MS). But why are some prevented from marrying a bad choice and not others? Why is God sometimes so silent?

      I am reminded of God’s providence through it all with my father, though. My Mom and I never went homeless as he’d planned to do to us. I think God maybe even drove him out of our home to save our lives. He was becoming completely unhinged by the time he left us. But, God also didn’t spare my disabled Mom from being beaten, having an arm broken, etc. Why? I don’t know. But my Mom sees that God gave her a precious gift through it all–me. She would never have had me if she hadn’t have married him. So, something good came out of it after all? I’m sort of a Ruth to her Naomi. I’m worth seven sons to her! 😉 But no, really, I’ve cared for her since I was 19 years old. And I’ve watched God spare me from every layoff at work, and magnanimously provide for all our needs.

      So, there’s that. Maybe sometimes God allows these things without saying anything because you’re going to get something–or someone–precious out of it all? I can’t think of anyone who has posted here who regretted having their children. And even if you don’t have those, if nothing else, we know that in our suffering we can help others and have empathy for them in their plight. And then before you know it, we have community with each other, even if it’s just online. And then we can help each other heal. It’s nice having authentic community who aren’t fakers. It’s a rare thing. Perhaps we sometimes need to be hurt by the fakers and abusers so we can find the real deal.

      (Yes, you can probably tell from the spirit of my post that I’m feeling much better today. All hail Trazodone! Sleep at last…. Lack of sleep for a year has been making me literally crazy. The nurse practitioner at the sleep disorder center I was visiting yesterday reminded me that that’s why sleep deprivation is used as a torture device. My mind feels like it’s starting to heal, even though I’m still only getting 5 hours of sleep, but it’s the deep sleep I needed. Or, maybe that cute little stuffed sheep with the sleep apnea mask at the sleep disorder center cheered me up? Both!)

      • Hi Clockwork Angel, thanks for giving us that moving story of how your mum ended up marrying your dad!

        “…they prayed that God would stop them if He didn’t want them to get married.”

        That kind of prayer is a type of ‘throwing out a fleece to God’ — see the story of Gideon in Judges 6

        In my observation the charismatic/pentecostal streams of Christianity often encourage believers to assess God’s will by ‘throwing out a fleece to God’. They also call it ‘asking God to close doors or open doors’. They teach it as a formula by which to you can know the will of God for your important life-decisions. They are promoting superstition by teaching it as a formula.

        Prayer is not a formula. The Bible recounts many occasions where believers did not lay out a fleece to God to receive guidance.

        Your dad liked the ‘lay out a fleece’ formula. All abusers love simplistic notions which they can manipulate for their own advantage. The formula helped your dad manipulate your mum into distrusting her gut feeling when they got a flat tyre on the way to Vegas.

      • “..what if [my mum] had prayed and nothing had happened? What if God had seemingly given permission? Then what?”

        This kind of question is unanswerable, and almost imponderable. All we can know from the revealed Word of God and the experience of many believers over the centuries is that God allows things to happen (or not happen) for reasons unknown to us until those reasons are revealed in the fullness of time and eternity.

        God allowed a man to be born blind so that “the works of God might be shown on him” (John 9:1-3 NMB)

        God allowed Lazarus to die and be put in a tomb for four days before Jesus brought Lazarus back to life. Mary and Martha and their friends suffered grief and perplexity during those four days.

        God allowed Paul to continue suffering from his ‘thorn in the flesh’ and we can only faintly grasp the explanation for that.

      • Helovesme

        “Perhaps we sometimes need to be hurt by the fakers and abusers so we can find the real deal.”

        That stood out to me. Amazing insight. I don’t think you were saying this at all, just to preface. I don’t think we HAVE to get hurt in order to spot the fakers! But when and if we do, we can certainly use put that pain to good use.

        And I’m so glad you’re feeling better, by the way. You have a LOT going on.

        Barb’s response was wonderful, as is the norm. She nailed it with her observations.

        I used to be a part of that “charismatic/pentecostal” sort of arena. I can confirm the accuracy of the “lingo” she brought up that is common in those circles.

        “They are promoting superstition by teaching it as a formula”
        “Prayer is not a formula”
        “This kind of question is unanswerable, and almost imponderable.”
        “All abusers love simplistic notions which they can manipulate for their own advantage.”

        These are the kind of real deal statements that would likely drive a believer, who moved in those charismatic circles, up the wall. To sit back and admit that our God can and does generously reveal Himself to us, but it’s on His terms, not ours.

        This is not and would not EVER mean to stop seeking Him. Asking of Him. Pleading and praying and yes, even pondering the imponderable now and then.

        But no matter how much or how often you pray, go to church or do good deeds, you’ll never force His hand. You cannot “command” the living God. God will not be bribed, and it’s too easy to fall for that trap: I’ve given money to this cause, I’ve done this good work, I’ve prayed for this amount of time—-now You owe me.

        (By the way, I don’t think you or anyone else was suggesting this sort of thing. This is just conversation, not confrontation.)

        But it does not mean He loves us any more or less. That is what we must hold onto for dear life. We are often thrown around by the unexpected and often undesirable life events. If we don’t stick to the rock solid fact that He loves us and always has and always will (and nothing will change that)—–then we have nothing. Might as well eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

        That last sentence from Barb is the wisdom of the Lord speaking. I’ve been in your mom’s position where I thought I was the spiritual “dwarf,” surrounded by all these spiritual “giants!” She has my empathy, and I know that kind of pain personally.

        I’ve never asked anyone on this site how long they’ve walked with Him. Does twenty days or twenty years matter, when all I’m looking for is the Lord working through them?

        Yes, it’s great if a person has had more TIME to read the Word. But does that necessarily mean they divided the truth correctly? The Bible says it can be divided wrongly. Quoting verses doesn’t mean you are applying it properly.

        I’ve brought up my years with Him now and then, but ONLY to testify that of His character, not necessarily my own, because frankly—-there is still much to be desired.

        Back to David. I can imagine someone claiming to be a believer, claiming to be a long term believer, “spinning” his story to acquit him and potentially justify (or at least minimize) his sinful actions:

        David did get to marry Bathsheba. They did have an another son together. And he did remain on his throne till he died.

        I’ve simplified it but I’ve also manipulated it—-and it was fairly easy, wasn’t it?

        You’re in a tough place with your faith? You need to repent. God is distancing Himself from you because He hates sin.

        You married an abuser? You need to pray to be more loving.. God will not fix him until you fix yourself.

        You were sexually assaulted? What were you wearing? God does not like immodest women.

        A newer believer might understandably be more open to deception—-like a newborn baby might stick anything and everything into its mouth. But a mature believer is NOT 100% immune to deception. Everyone and anyone has to be on their guard.

        The original post said: “God gave lots of balanced guidance in His Word, but most Christians ignored it”

        All those false statements I made ignored a LOT. And if you have an evil agenda in mind, simply ignoring the facts is great way to meet and fulfill that agenda.

        When I met the Lord, I did not believe that He was biased towards males. Or, that He was what you would call “chauvinistic.” I also didn’t believe He had saved me in order give me a life that confirmed AND continued the false sense of inferiority I had lived with and endured before I met Him.

        I had been abused by my father, so ironically—I had a pretty strong bias AGAINST males by then. And frankly didn’t think much better about my own gender as well. Are females only born so that the males can dominate them?

        I believed He came to save me FROM all of that and MORE.

        Keeping that in mind as I tried to read the Word and understand it as He intended it, helped me to not take TOO many paths that diverged from the straight and narrow. Oh believe me, I went down many of those paths, but He worked hard to bring me back, full circle, to that rock solid fact He spoke to me when He first reached out to me:

        I love you, I always have, and I have a plan for your life that is not about crushing you to reflect your shame, it is about compelling you to reflect My Son.

      • Helovesme

        I thought a bit more about Barb’s observation because it was so good:

        “All abusers love simplistic notions which they can manipulate for their own advantage.”

        Wisdom is absolutely accessible to any and all believers, regardless of age or gender. It doesn’t matter when you were saved or how long you’ve been saved. The book of Proverbs encourages us to ask, to seek and to expect God to grant such a request.

        Wisdom will first and foremost teach you the fear of God. Abusers do not fear God. They lack even the rudimentary principles of approaching the One they need to fear!

        Then I thought about the God-given wisdom of Solomon as displayed with the two women and the baby.

        Wisdom does not make you a mind reader. But I think Solomon knew how to ask JUST the right question in order for them to reveal their minds.

        Then I thought of what he did NOT ask: where is the father of this baby? Who earns more money and can therefore take better care of this child? Or which of you will swear to remain loyal to me as their king?

        Back to wisdom and abuse:

        We’ve had insightful comments about “secondary” abuse. A victim goes to church leaders tor help, but instead they only layer on more hurt on top of what the abuser has already done. It can be just as painful as the abuse, if not more so, when this occurs.

        If a female is sexually abused, I am sickened by how easily the victim is blamed and shamed—-in this day and age—-and the church can often be at the forefront. There are many forms of abuse but I’m going to focus on this particular kind, without at all diminishing the others.

        Keep in mind the blaming tactics often leveled at such victims: you are lovely and he couldn’t help it. You were alone with him, so you’re to blame. Your body shape is so attractive and you should have dressed with that in mind. You were asking for it.

        Ever get the notion, with these excuses, that they are saying that it’s “inevitable” that males are all looking to victimize? Live in fear. Men are natural predators, and so you have to do whatever it takes to not be preyed upon. Where is this in the Word?

        Please bear with me as this might seem like rambling, but I will bring it full circle.

        I’ve never been sexually abused, FYI. The reason why is simple: I was never targeted.

        That does NOT mean there was never an opportunity for a male to target me. I have been alone with males in my lifetime. None of them targeted me.

        I was considered ugly for most of my younger years. So I was too ugly to victimize? Should I be thankful, and feel sorry for those “lovely” ladies who weren’t so lucky?

        I was a double D in bra size for a long time. Those are hard to hide, no matter how you dress. I developed a curvy figure, too. I was never targeted.

        I wasn’t able to buy clothes for a lot of years that fit me in all the right places. Parts of me likely “stood out.” I was never targeted.

        In this current season of life. I’ve interacted with males in public. They are often in hard places in their lives, so they aren’t what you would call clean cut or dressed well. None of them have ever laid a hand on me.

        Whether I still AM considered unattractive is up for debate. We can also debate my choices of clothing and my figure (or lack of one), too.

        However, let’s talk to these males over my lifetime. Why didn’t they target me?

        Let’s say they back you up. She was too ugly to victimize. We chose to target and victimize this “lovely” lady instead.

        Before you start celebrating your “rightness,” please go to the authorities and report these criminals.

        Let’s talk to the males I currently speak to. Ask them why they haven’t targeted me. What if they say the same thing? She’s not pretty enough or dressed skimpy enough or doesn’t have the right kind of figure. We’re waiting for someone else that fits that bill.

        Again: Before you start celebrating your “rightness,” please go to the authorities and report these criminals in waiting.

        By the way, victims are often told they are lying when they try to report these crimes. Let’s say the accused tries to claim that she was asking for it and so it’s not their fault. Why do you automatically believe HIM, and automatically disbelieve her? If you just asked a few thoughtful questions to both parties, you might reveal who is and who isn’t more or less believable.

        All these questions will reveal what is truly within the mind. In order to understand sexual abuse, you have to look beyond the sexual aspect of it, while of course not negating it.

        In any and all forms of abuse, the abuser has a “weapon” of choice. With sexual abuse, sex is weaponized to steal, kill and destroy. There is no interest in intimacy or love (this is especially directed at those who have experienced marital rape) It is pure hatred. No matter how you try to “spin” it, I don’t believe lust is at the core of it, although it can play a part. But I’ve struggled with lust. I have never chosen to target and victimize a human being out of lust. And again, the males I’ve been around were likely not pure as the driven snow. And again—-none of them ever hurt me.

        Again, you can spin it to say that something was wrong with me so they didn’t target me. Why are you objectifying me by demeaning how God shaped my looks? And why are you objectifying actual victims of sexual abuse by doing the same exact thing in reverse? The wisdom of God would teach you to fear Him. You better dang well fear Him when you insult the Hands that fearfully and wonderfully made these females.

        I was physically and verbally abused. The weapons of choice were hands to hit my body and words to hit my heart.

        Back to the Bible. I have heard narratives that Bathsheba was to blame. There is nothing to back that up. She deserves more sympathy than anything else. She lost a husband, married her husband’s killer (we don’t know if she knew that) and then lost a child, who she carried in her womb (not David), when God struck him down.

        Why have I never heard a sermon revolving around these topics? Women have lost their husbands. Women have lost their children. Women have been raped by powerful men. Wouldn’t it be nice if men heard such a sermon as well? It might get them thinking. Maybe they know a powerful man that targeted an innocent woman—and now they might realize what kind of a heinous crime was committed.

        Maybe they’d start asking questions. The right ones. The ones that will reveal a lack of fear of Him, or indicate a real fear of Him.

        Do we not ask, because we don’t want to know? Or, because we’re too afraid of what we might find out?

        Solomon asked those questions. The fear of God taught him to not be afraid. 🙂

  7. daughterofgod

    I feel like God’s principles are very clear and always have been. A lot of things go without saying and this one of them. Anyone who loves truth can see it. Evil men have twisted scripture and made it unclear. Thanks for bringing these truths to light sister. May God bless your ministry.

  8. Clockwork Angel

    Thanks, Barb.

    Sometimes I feel like getting answers makes for more questions. For example, if it’s evil men who are twisting scripture, where are all the good men? Most Protestant Reformers that are lauded as heroes would seem to fall into the former category, and not the latter. What does one make of it? At what point does one throw in the towel and say, “I don’t know where the real Christians were for the last 2000 years.” That’s what seems so crazy to me. Or, rather, it’s making me crazy. Outside of our modern times with a few good men standing up, where have all the good men been?

    Also, how can we expect pastors to stand up and preach against DV from the pulpit when the Bible itself won’t in any direct manner? It’s hard for me. Growing up with my abuser father, I felt like the Bible was so silent. Like it was just written for random guys who might happen to have an evil king come after them to kill them. But not for me. Women’s issues are kind of ignored for the most part. As are children’s. Slave’s issues, too, more often than not. Today, I read my Bible and have even less confidence that it’s words of comfort are for me. I wish we had even so much as a psalm written by an abused woman. Something that I could relate to. I’m glad Jesus spent time with women and cared for them. I just wish we had more. Just realizing as I got older that David was a rapist has made it even harder for me to relate to the Psalms. And of course there’s the creepy part where as part of God’s punishment of David for it, his concubines get handed over to Absalom to be raped. God punished David by punishing his concubines. They hadn’t done anything wrong. So, it’s hard for me not to feel like we women are just men’s pawns, and are made to be that way. A part of me says, that can’t be true, based on how Jesus treated women. And yet, the nagging doubt is still there. The Bible largely speaks to men’s problems, and not as much to women’s. I often wonder why God seems to care (in the Bible) about widows more than abuse victims.

    I know, my thought processes are convoluted and rambling. I can often see the overall principles in the Bible there, and yet when centuries and centuries of Bible students (many considered to be heroes of faith) can’t see it, it makes me doubt that they’re even there. It’s like all these old dead men have succeeded in gaslighting me into thinking God doesn’t care. How does one even draw comfort from the Bible again after that?

    • Healing Heart

      This is not at all rambling. It’s well stated, and it’s my reality as well.
      Thanks for sharing.

    • “It’s like all these old dead men have succeeded in gaslighting me into thinking God doesn’t care.”

      I love the way you expressed that, Clockwork Angel!

      I know that Ruth Magnusson Davis is working on the manuscript of her next book “The Story Of The Matthew Bible Part 2”. She has told me that book will be showing how the Geneva Bible (1560) translated the scriptures with a very different spirit than William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale had shown in the Matthew Bible. The Geneva Bible influenced a LOT of people in the days of the Reformation. The KJV came out 50 years after the Geneva Bible; King James wanted to put out an English version of the Bible which counteracted the unpleasant spirit of the Geneva Bible. The KJV was a bit of a compromise. But the Genevan camp (John Calvin, Theodore Beza, etc.) had a strong following and their influence is still around today, not only in Presbyterian circles but in other streams of the evangelical church too.

      Harsh masters rise to the top in institutions over time. They are ruthless. Other people who are less certain of their beliefs, people who are more willing to respectfully debate, discuss and compromise, people who have more moral scruples – they are kept down. They are not promoted up the hierarchy of the institution; if they try to question or rock the boat they are gaslighted, oppressed and de-voiced.

      • Gany T.

        Clockwork Angel said
        For example, if it’s evil men who are twisting scripture, where are all the good men? Most Protestant Reformers that are lauded as heroes would seem to fall into the former category, and not the latter… Outside of our modern times with a few good men standing up, where have all the good men been?

        ^That

        Barb replied
        *… the Geneva Bible (1560) translated the scriptures with a very different spirit than William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale had shown in the Matthew Bible. The Geneva Bible influenced a LOT of people in the days of the Reformation.

        …the unpleasant spirit of the Geneva Bible

        But the Genevan camp (John Calvin, Theodore Beza, etc.) had a strong following and their influence is still around today…*

        ^That
        And
        Harsh masters rise to the top in institutions over time. They are ruthless. Other people who are less certain of their beliefs, people who are more willing to respectfully debate, discuss and compromise, people who have more moral scruples – they are kept down. They are not promoted up the hierarchy of the institution; if they try to question or rock the boat they are gaslighted, oppressed and de-voiced.

        ^THAT

    • The word ‘widow’ in the Bible means ‘a woman bereft of a husband’. When I read this years ago in Spiros Zodhiates’ Lexical Dictionary, a whole lot of pennies dropped and things fell into place.

      A woman can be bereft of a husband because her husband has abused her and she fled; or he is still ‘with’ her in outward appearance but he fails to provide for her in all the ways a husband ought to provide; or he outright deserted her and she is left in limbo; or he has died. All those circumstances produce a woman who is bereft of a husband.

      The Pharisaic wooden-thinking church assumes that ‘widow’ in the Bible only means a woman whose husband has died. How convenient for them! They can ignore all the abused women!

    • “I wish we had even so much as a psalm written by an abused woman. Something that I could relate to.”

      We don’t have a psalm written by an abused woman. But we do have a psalm written by man who was abused. David was fleeing for his life from murderous Saul when he wrote Psalm 55. And while David was speaking about his own anguish in Psalm 55, he seems also to have been prophetically speaking about the anguish of Jesus who was betrayed by Judas.

      “Just realizing as I got older that David was a rapist has made it even harder for me to relate to the Psalms.”

      I sympathise. And all we can do is marvel (maybe with anguish) at the mystery and the depth of scripture. David as King ordered Bathsheba to come to him so he could bed her. David knew what it was like to be abused! Yet he ordered Bathsheba to come to him and he murdered Uriah when his secret sin was in danger of coming to light. And later he ordered that his concubines be shut up as widows (women bereft of husbands) on his rooftop! Go figure!

      David was a prophet and God inspired him to write many psalms. But he was also a sinner, big time. And his sins came back to bite him. The punishment God dealt out to David for his sins was the rape of his daughter Tamar (which David handled very negligently), and the wrangling conflicts among his sons leading to many untimely deaths. All of those negative consequences weighed on David for the rest of his life.

      Who can understand why God chose to use David to write so many psalms? We can’t understand.

      But we know that when David repented of his Bathsheba/Uriah sins, he was forgiven by God. That gives us encouragement that if we repent of our sins we too can be forgiven.

      We also know that David made many stupid and foolish choices after he’d repented of his sins involving Bathsheba and Uriah. And we know he suffered a lot in the rest of his earthly life because of all his bad decisions. So his life gives us an example of how complex and mixed a believer’s life can be. A believer can be a massive sinner and yet be someone who God uses in marvelous ways in the unfolding and revealing of His plan of salvation.

      Repentance is essential. But repentance does not necessarily guarantee that I will then suffer no negative consequences of my sins in this my earthly life.

      David’s concubines shut up like widows… we can only speculatively imagine what they might have thought or felt. Perhaps some of them felt glad that they would never have to have sexual intercourse again with David! Perhaps they felt relieved that they didn’t have to deal with the complexities of relating to other people in David’s court. Perhaps they might have felt glad for a bit of peace and quiet, knowing that they would still be fed and housed. Perhaps they were relieved that they would not suffer any more risk that one of David’s sons would use them as sexual objects for his own aggrandisement!

      I am not saying that any of those concubines were happy. But I am saying that it’s complex.

      • Gany T.

        Very helpful, honest analysis here, Barb. Thank you.

      • Clockwork Angel

        Thanks, Barb! Yes, it is very complicated.

        I guess I chafe a bit at these passages because to me, real justice would require David himself to be raped, not his daughter or his concubines. It eerily reminds me of the Code of Hammurabi, where (I believe I read) if a man rapes another man’s wife, the punishment is to have his wife raped. Now, Torah of course justly says that the rapist himself is to be killed in this case. No raping his wife allowed.

        On the other hand, perhaps it’s better to read these passages as God allowing natural consequences of David’s actions to occur without intervening to protect him or his household from it all. Amnon learned from daddy, and Absalom got revenge for it. Sadly, I feel Tamar and the concubines should have had Divine protection from this. They hadn’t done anything wrong. But then, when my own father chose to do wrong, it always affected me and my mother. That’s just how life is, I suppose. Our actions affect each other. It kind of stinks, doesn’t it?

        I did read a long time ago at Christian Think Tank’s site that Absalom probably didn’t actually rape the concubines. He just simply went inside the tent and then stepped back out again. The idea was that raping them would have very much upset their fathers, with whom David might have had a political alliance. The point wasn’t to rape them per se, but to establish he was the new king who would be taking over the care of the harem, which was a political entity by nature. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but it’s a worthwhile read anyway.

        Anyway, great responses. Very thoughtful, as always.

    • Helovesme

      Oh Clockwork Angel your comment was NOT rambling. It was wonderful. Please keep sharing. Nearly everything you wrote about resonated with me personally.

      And Barb’s responses were wonderful—–particularly about David. ALL of these are things I too have mused and perused about——and it’s hard to come to any definitive conclusions. How does one make sense of so much senseless suffering??

      Barb is wonderful at handing out her thoughts that help others to generate thoughts of their own.

      The ONE thing about David’s life story that I absolutely put my foot down about is this:

      Never (and I mean never) use the many sinful failings of his life (and I mean sinful. And I mean failings) to justify the sins (and I mean sins) of a church leader or professing Christian.

      When David was confronted with his sins, he knew he deserved to die, literally and spiritually. So not only was he staring at the death penalty, he was also staring into eternal death.

      Separation from Him in this life, and separation from His life in the next one.

      Hmm, what kind of a “repentant” person says they are sorry for sinning like David, but in the next breath they ask to remain in leadership, or ask to not face any other consequences? Don’t turn me into the police, don’t kick me out of the church, and don’t make this all public.

      David was not dethroned because God did not take the throne away from him. But David never, ever asked or expected or even HINTED that that mattered to him.

      If anything, David’s story is a huge warning to anyone in power, and then dare to abuse that power. Remember how God spoke through Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:

      “‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.”

      Before that, Nathan used a story to illustrate how David, who had been given so much, took something that did not belong to him, because he had the right and the power to do so.

      Nathan then describes how a lot of people are going to suffer because of that.

      We might think: should so many people suffer because ONE man was murdered (Uriah) and ONE woman was raped (Bathsheba)?

      Take note, current and aspiring leaders in AND out of the church. If you hurt even ONE innocent person, you and yours around you will suffer. In human history, when scandals erupt, you’ll notice how many people suffer because of the actions of one or just a few persons.

      The sentence that stands out to me is this: “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.”

      I may be reaching, but this made me wonder that IF David had wanted Bathsheba for a wife, he could have asked the Lord for her. Instead, he chose to take her as if she was his own to take, which she was NOT.

      Think back to the Garden of Eden. They had all these trees to eat from, except ONE. The devil tempted both of them to take something that did not belong to them, even though they had plenty that DID belong to them.

      And they always had the power to eat from that tree, and it was only by choice that they did not. The moment the devil tempted them to manipulate their sense of power, that is the moment where it all went horribly wrong.

      Abuse at its core, is taking something that does not belong to you. You have no right to it, but you take it anyway. The Bible says the devil lives to steal, kill and destroy.

      I don’t see a LOT of exact examples of God standing up for women, abused or otherwise in the Bible. But I do see how He stands up to the men who dare to abuse power.

      I also see how He stood up for the woman caught in adultery. My understanding is that she had been tricked into it so they could use her to hurt Jesus. The woman at the well (married five times and dumped five times is a woman who has suffered terribly at the hands of men who were supposed to love her). The woman bent over for almost two decades, whom the devil had bound—-and Jesus stood up for her: leave her alone. She’s a daughter of Abraham. She deserves to be loosed and unbound, no matter what day of the week it is.

      The woman who anointed His feet, a prostitute—-and they wondered how He could bring Himself to be touched by such a woman. And He stood up for her.

      Does anyone truly believe that this woman, as a young girl, dreamed of becoming a prostitute? News flash: when you need money, you will often choose paths that you never thought you ever would. Another news flash: there were no food banks or welfare systems to help the needy back then. Next news flash: where does anyone get off diminishing her worth as a human being, just because men chose to diminish her worth as a human being by using her for sex?

      For the men that did or were having sex with her, would they have said the same? Why are you touching them? These men have been sleeping with a prostitute. Not likely.

      I see God commanding husbands to love their wives. I don’t necessarily see David writing the Psalms. I see God speaking through him, for all the suffering ones—-including the abused.

      When I first started reading the Word, I started with the Psalms. I now credit those Psalms for putting my own anguish into words, but I do not credit David for that. I credit the Lord for using them to connect with me. I was abused by my father for years and for the first time, I saw that the Lord might actually care about what I’d been through.

      It made no difference that a man had written them (I knew nothing about David yet). The Psalms are not about gender. They are about real people, real pain, and real needs.

      • Clockwork Angel

        Excellent post! I so resonate with everything you said. And, your words are full of wisdom. I can tell you’ve been pondering these things for a long time! God bless you!

    • Freindinneed from Europe

      Hello Clockwork Angel,
      I just sent Barbara a mail and. Thought to look at this blog because it has been so many years since I have been here. Where are all the good men. Well it can happen to a man too. Not as frequent, but I am a survivor of female aggressive abuse. Can that be, yes, yes that can be. I am trying to forget it really. The bible speaks about more. And also by women abusing like for instance Jezebel, who killed the neighbour man for wanting his vinyard. She forged false accusation and had him killed. Maybe at this moment all men are violent aggressors for you. First of all try to distinguish people who you want as a friend and those you do not. You will find people who are a disapointment. In church I am approached by the good and by the bad, but I see them better, Today I can distinguish them better.

      With a group of 3 people, 2 men 1 woman we protect 1 woman with 2 children. We call ourselves stand in parents. We stand in front of the door to address the abusing parent as he comes to bring the children back. I myself was punched and I punch back. We teach her not to let him in. This man gives small presents to 1 child and a larger to the other. We work in the opposite spirit so we buy the kids in presents in December. He gave peanuts to his allergic son. Pinches pennys for the childrens swimming lessons. Has been accused for squeezing his children to blackness. We work on the children and on the mother. In this country all parents are considered good parents. The child protection agency gives them a course called “parents for allways”. placing the children in harmfull hands.

      As you read the bible read how the non aggressor won from the agressor and how they did it. for example Nehemiah did not converse with Sanballat. Do not converse with such a man, do not make appointments with him. Proverbs say not to go with a man with aggression. … Be picky as you choose your new friends.

      Twisting scripture who does that. A pharasee. I can tell you that is genderless. I have family members who quarrel all meal long. The bible says better dry morsel that to eat a feast in contention. So a while ago I decided not to eat there anymore. I’d rather eat dry morsel. If you want to weigh a christian, there is another way. Look at the christian fruit that someone bears. A good tree should bear good fruit. Some christian trees bear no fruit at all. Not good not bad nothing at all. Twisting scripture it is a bit of a season that I am in myself, looking and distinguishing people who do that. Jesus calles it perverse toungue, perverse meaning twisted.

      Greetings

  9. Hello Sunshine

    Thank you, Barbara. Really appreciate you.

    I was thinking that a not-so-obvious part of such questions is the assumptions one has about what the Bible is and should accomplish. It’s not uncommonly taught these days that your English translation of 66 books was carefully planned and dictated by God as an ultimate, stand alone, complete, and reasonably clear guide to morality in daily life, applicable and sufficient for all persons, places, and times.

    That is a claim the Bible itself does not make and which I class in the same category as “pray about it and nothing will go wrong” and “you don’t need anyone except God.” I don’t think any of them are true or taught in the Bible. I think they are so far from reality and set up such false expectations that some people are driven from God in disappointment and despair and some others are left in churches with beliefs that are a house of cards from several different decks, balanced by the weight of cognitive dissonance and magical thinking.

    • “churches with beliefs that are a house of cards from several different decks, balanced by the weight of cognitive dissonance and magical thinking.”

      Hello Sunshine, what a great description! 🙂

    • Helovesme

      “I think they are so far from reality and set up such false expectations that some people are driven from God in disappointment and despair and some others are left in churches with beliefs that are a house of cards from several different decks, balanced by the weight of cognitive dissonance and magical thinking.”

      Wow. That was great. What a way with words!

      I’m not kidding, and I’m not trying to be flattering. I’m blown away by how articulate and intelligent the comments are. And that sentence nailed it just right.

      I’ve been a believer for over 20 years now and I am truly embarrassed by religious sounding but substance lacking platitudes like: “pray about it and nothing will go wrong” and “you don’t need anyone except God.”

      There are many more like that, and in reality, they are flimsy-sounding and more entertainment-based than faith-centered. They do nothing to truly build up and bless and strengthen the (spiritually) weak knees and feeble hands.

      They speak more to excite the senses than speak to our souls.

      I can tell you that in looking back, they did nothing for me as a believer in the short OR long term. They did not contribute to bearing the fruit of the Spirit (the true mark of a believer), and they taught me nothing about what the love of God does and does not look like in real life.

      And since the first and second greatest commandments revolve around His love and loving others, what a waste of time it all was.

      Following Him isn’t full of catchy phrases or cutesy comments that leave you more spiritually hungry than ever before. The truth of Christ is truly satisfying, filling—-and nourishing like nothing else!

    • Artina

      Still reading here and find this post and comments tremendously helpful and so well expressed. I’m very appreciative. Thank you all!

      This stood out to me, too:

      “I think they are so far from reality and set up such false expectations that some people are driven from God in disappointment and despair and some others are left in churches with beliefs that are a house of cards from several different decks, balanced by the weight of cognitive dissonance and magical thinking.”

  10. Helovesme

    Oh my gosh Barb you did such a wonderful job!

    It took me a few days to make time to read it, and then I read it on my phone. I’m so blown away. Faith in the Lord, even when solid, can have holes in them. We have questions. We wonder how His mind works, and then we wonder how much we can understand His mind!

    When you speak of reading the Word through our own “lens,” this came to mind:

    The fact that we don’t even recognize it is what scares me the most.

    When I first met the Lord, I tried (still trying) to throw nearly everything I had ever known or learned or had been taught—-out the window.

    The cultural and societal ways I had been taught and were normalized for me did NOT mean that the Lord was in agreement with all of them, if not any of them. It was His call to make, not mine.

    This includes gender norms, which is one of the strongest, nailed down and therefore very difficult to pull up and throw out.

    Too many times, we think God is like us. He thinks like us. He agrees with us. He is “with us” and He is “one of us.”

    Okay, back it up before you start asserting that He backs us up.

    Anytime I have ever gone down that road, thinking that God works like I do, and therefore everything will work out—-it has not worked out too well, to put it bluntly.

    You have to get to know Him on His terms. I know that puts a nice big pin in that nice big balloon of pride and ego—-but frankly, it’s all just a bunch of hot air.

    And it makes no difference to be told something like: things work this way because they always were this way, and it’s always worked out so we continue to make it work.

    Did you ever consider that those workings may not reflect how the mind of God works?
    This is where I usually lose the audience. Ironically, bring in the word “God” or dare to suggest “Scripture” and you can tell that things aren’t going to work out well.

    I can’t wait to read the comments and responses. I’m going to write in another comment so that it’s easier to post and read.

  11. Helovesme

    There is no one better than Barbara Roberts, in my mind, to get the ball rolling on this issue. She is one of the best persons I’ve known to NOT tell people what to think, but to get them thinking. That is a lot harder than it looks!

    “The trick is to stop playing their game. Don’t ask why the Bible doesn’t list grounds for divorce, or doesn’t say abuse is grounds for divorce in so many words. Identify the contradictions in the biased interpretations, and blow them away.”

    The Bible never says to NOT steal a car. How could it? Cars did not exist in those days. One can’t possible imagine that every single possible theft-worthy item had to be listed in order to back up that statement: don’t steal what does not belong to you.

    Barb spoke wonderfully about the concept of “brokenness.” It is evil in the eyes of the Lord.

    I’m wary of drawing direct parallels between our covenant with the Lord and a marriage covenant. Since both relationships are very serious, I’m going to speak to that aspect of covenant making and breaking.

    In the OT, God made it clear that His people had broken their covenant with Him. They had disobeyed Him, refused to be corrected, and went from bad to worse. He claimed they had committed spiritual adultery against Him.

    Now, His people did not see it that way. They had no shame, and refused to repent. They saw no harm, no hurt and no (real) consequences to their actions. No matter what He said, how many prophets He sent to them, and how much and how often He disciplined them—-they would not give up their sinful ways.

    The brokenness was real, even if they didn’t see it (or want to see it). When God said the covenant is broken, it’s broken—-whether they liked it or not, and whether they believed it or not.

    When I read the OT, the brokenness is laid out quite clearly. I don’t tend to read the Word in order to argue with it, but if that is your attitude, feel free to argue with Him on this point: are You SURE things were as bad and as serious as You say they were?

    (Bear in mind how long the Lord suffered with them). But you still might have someone suggest that perhaps ONE more chance is all they needed to finally repent.

    My answer to these things is actually quite simple: it is the one or ones IN that covenant that truly know when and if it has been broken, and when they’ve had enough. You have no business, looking from the outside in, to make such a rock solid determination—–because you are not the one either doing the breaking, or suffering from the brokenness.

    To the marriage covenant, when abuse is involved, this sort of thing happens all the time: there is “counter arguing.”

    He’s cheating on me, or he is abusing me. Well, were you not serving him enough, in an out of the bedroom?

    Ever notice, in the OT, God claiming that He had not done “enough” for His people? Maybe if I’d given them not only the Promised Land, but an ocean as well. I’m not “giving” enough. Maybe if a covenant with Me wasn’t so stringent (God was NOT into the sexually based idol-worshiping cults that His people engaged in), they wouldn’t leave Me.

    Has anyone ever dared to suggest that God was being too “sensitive” or “emotional” when He claimed the covenant was broken? Gosh, He is so touchy. Took things so personal. Took things so seriously. He didn’t HAVE to give them over to their enemies. That sure caused quite a big stink, disrupted a lot of lives and the heathen nations saw it all. How did THAT help spread the His message?

    The next thing you might hear is that a victim has to stay and convince their abuser to change. Pray and pray until he does, regardless of the abuse. The covenant is not truly broken as long as you keep hoping and praying.

    When Christ came to us, every time He preached, healed and ministered to people, He did it all perfectly. He never sinned in thought, word or deed.

    NO human being can or ever can claim this. Is it not lost on anyone that many, many people who saw Him, heard Him and touched Him rejected Him? They refused to believe in Him. They hated Him. They even mocked and scoffed at Him as He died for them.

    Are victims of abuse superior to Christ Himself, in that they will succeed in convincing their abusers to repent and follow Him—-when He Himself did not succeed in this even when He walked the Earth? And the reasons WHY He did not succeed were NOT His fault. They chose to remain in unbelief, despite His warnings that condemnation would be the result.

    I’m not against praying for people, of course! And God is clear on that, too. But victims can rest in that God is not holding them to impossible standards.

    Barb again spoke beautifully about male privilege and the power they had (and still have) to twist the Bible’s narratives to favor their agendas.

    I have a mixture of responses to this, but here are a few thoughts:

    If males are supposedly spiritually superior to females (aka men are in authority and are designed to be leaders)—–and they try to back it up with the Word:

    Then set an example for us, to those you seem to imply so badly need it. If you are on some higher ground or have a special connection to the Lord based solely on your gender, I would love nothing more than to imitate your example as to how the Lord wants us to live.

    Oh, you don’t want to do that? You don’t want to be held accountable to that statement of superiority? Then you have a problem.

    The next example is from 1 Samuel 16:7. Oh, how we love to quote that verse! God looks at you from the inside out, not at appearances as mankind does. No partiality. No favoritism. All He cares about is your heart, and only He knows the hearts of His creation.

    Then why is my gender, which is an exterior characteristic and does not reflect my heart at all—-such a variable when it comes to claims of abuse? Why do you automatically mistrust or challenge my words, but automatically trust and accept the abuser’s words?

    The word “abuser” may not appear in the many translated versions of the Word, but the word “oppressor” certainly is. How are the two different?

    The very last thing is hard to write. Women have been implied to be very emotional, very prone having them and showing them. Men aren’t like that. They lack empathy. That is how they are built. So that may be partially why they choose to abuse.

    I think abuse actually requires a fair amount of emotion. Anger, hate and malice are all emotions. As a former victim, I would try to suppress my emotions as much as possible in order to endure the abuse. I would try to express those emotions after the abuse, but even there it was hard to do.

    On the flip side, I also think it requires NO emotion, NO empathy in order to abuse. You can’t possibly allow yourself to be “moved” by the pain you are causing an innocent person.

    Oh, he didn’t MEAN to abuse? How does one engage in “mellow” abuse? In order to abuse, it cannot be accidental, or unintentional. There is no way that is possible.

    My example from the Word is when the soldiers were commanded to murder all boys under two, by order of the king at that time. I have often wondered how in the heck they carried that out. There is no such thing as “mellow” murder. There is no “gentle” way to kill. You can pull out your sword and kill quickly so the victim does not slowly die. But it’s still murder!

    And how seared do your emotions and sense of empathy have to be, to take a life at all, and then dare to justify it by saying—-at least I didn’t cause a slow, painful death? It’s still murder!

    Abuse is murder. Most episodes of abuse don’t take very long, time wise. They can be frequent, of course, but in my own experiences of abuse—-it doesn’t take hours on end. What HAPPENS in that time frame impacts you for a lifetime.

    So over time, victims ARE being killed, slowly and painfully. Any decent human being, saved or unsaved, would be appalled at that. And even IF, say, a murder victim was killed quickly, that does not bring that person back to life. That is of little comfort.

    As Barb wrote, look at the Word and use it properly. The darkness will be revealed for what it is, the darkness will flee, and the lives of people will be freed as well. How can this NOT be a common, unified cause of the church, and of Christians in general?

    • Gany T.

      HeLovesMe said
      Is it not lost on anyone that many, many people who saw Him, heard Him and touched Him rejected Him? They refused to believe in Him. And…

      Are victims of abuse superior to Christ Himself, in that they will succeed in convincing their abusers to repent and follow Him—-when He Himself did not succeed in this even when He walked the Earth?

      ^That

      • Kind of Anonymous

        I second the motion, HeLovesMe your observation that this would put victims in a place of having more spiritual pull than Jesus is a good one. It’s absurd to suggest that a victim keeps her husband from going to hell by remaining married to him. We have it straight from the mouth of Paul himself that “For how do you know, o wife, whether you will save your husband”?

        To make a woman responsible for her husband’s eternal destiny by virtue of remaining married to him no matter what is stupid. And arm twistingly cruel and thoughtless. God’s arm is not that short. Lack of repentance is what separates us from God and from heaven. Not having gone through a divorce. Many a person has finally been willing to take inventory of themselves when they experienced painful loss and failure.

        Most of us don’t listen until whatever we are using to avoid reality is stripped away and God meets us in that desert place and spouses enslaved in sin and evil are no exception. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” CS. Lewis

    • Helovesme, I really like your comment. You took the pious platitudes about the marriage covenant and the standard advice doled out to abused spouses, and applied them up to the hilt to God’s covenant with Israel. You thus showed them to be illogical. You showed how much bias there is against abused spouses.

      I have not formally studied logic or rhetoric, but I think there might be a name for the kind of argument you made.

      • Helovesme

        Just wanted to say thank you for the kind words. They mean a great deal. The previous comments as well (and the future ones that I look forward to reading) are fabulous

  12. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Barb, great work and thought thank you! It occurred to me as I read this (identified a curlicue?) that somehow I have picked up the idea that only in recent history has the church drifted away from truth and into decline which would involve straying from the word in favor of man made philosophies which have truths in them but are flawed at foundational premise, false teaching and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    But there is this idea that the closer one gets to the original church time, the purer teaching is and closer to what God originally meant and said. And the farther one gets away from the beginning of the church, the worse and more diluted/corrupt Christian teaching gets as the world and sin creeps in. Obviously some truth to that, but at the same time is historical orthodoxy really equal to pure words out of the mouth of God?

    On another angle, re HeLovesMe’s comment: “The next thing you might hear is that a victim has to stay and convince their abuser to change. Pray and pray until he does, regardless of the abuse. The covenant is not truly broken as long as you keep hoping and praying.” That comment connects well with one of the reasons I may really feel blocked when it comes to determining if my situations/previous relationships were first abusive truly, then abusive enough to justify leaving and when. Much more to think about when it comes to being able to identify where the huge block is in what I think is true. Thank you for this, it helps.

    • Hi Kind of Anonymous, you said, “there is this idea that the closer one gets to the original church time, the purer teaching is and closer to what God originally meant and said. And the farther one gets away from the beginning of the church, the worse and more diluted/corrupt Christian teaching gets as the world and sin creeps in.”

      I’m glad you’ve identified how that idea influenced you. I think that idea is a gross oversimplification. If you study church history you will find examples of major errors creeping into all periods of the church age.

      It happened in Paul’s day. He had to publicly admonish Peter for going astray:

      And when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face. For he was worthy to be blamed. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise, insomuch that Barnabas was brought into their simulation also.

      But when I saw that they did not go the right way after the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, If you being a Jew live according to the customs of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why do you compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, know that a person is not justified by the deeds of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. And therefore we have believed on Jesus Christ, so that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the deeds of the law – because no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the law.

      O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, such that you should not believe the truth – you to whom Jesus Christ was described before the eyes, and among you crucified? (Galatians 2:11;-16; 3:1 NMB)

      Another example is Paul’s prophecy and warning the Ephesians:

      Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock whereof the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he has purchased with his blood. For I am sure of this, that after my departing, grievous wolves will enter in among you, who will not spare the flock. Moreover, from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them. Therefore awake, and remember that for the space of three years I did not cease to warn every one of you, both night and day, with tears. (Acts 20:28-3, NMB)

      It happened in the early centuries of the church. Some of them got hyper-focused on celibacy and virtually removed themselves from the world. Some got into what we would recognise as ‘hypercharismatic nonsense’.

      When the Roman Emperor Constantine claimed that he had been converted and made Christianity legal in the empire, a whole lot of lukewarm and pseudo-Christians people got very comfy in the State-endorsed church. More heresy. This led to the bishop of Rome declaring himself the Pontiff and the Head of the church. Roman Catholicism held its iron grip on Western Europe for centuries.

      The protestant reformation exposed and fought back against some of the evils and heresies. But while they rejected the doctrines of Rome, in some cases they replaced the authority of the Pope and his Catholic cardinals, bishops, monks and priests with an assumed authority of protestant Pastors over their flocks. You’ll be able to read a lot of evidence for how Calvin and his followers replicated the Roman Church’s haughtiness when Ruth Magnusson Davis publishes Part 2 of The Story of the Matthew Bible.

      I mentioned up thread that the ones who try to speak truth often get de-voice or ignored. One example of this is the Hungarian protestant church in the sixteenth century, which stated that abuse was grounds for divorce. What they said has been largely ignored by church leaders in later centuries.

      I would suggest that what the Hungarian Christians taught was swept under the carpet by wolves in sheep’s clothing who have always been infiltrating the true church. The same goes for what some Puritans said about abuse being grounds for divorce.

      The Hungarian Christians of 1562 Had More Sense than the No-Divorce-for-Abuse Preachers Today

      Puritans who said abuse was grounds for divorce

  13. Tonya

    This really spoke to me. Because for about 3 decades, I’ve done so many prayers for forgiveness to people who have hurt me. Since the bible commands it. And just about everyone says that forgiveness leads to healing. Yet, I have not felt like I’ve been healed or set free. I’m still struggling with emotional numbness and still struggling period. I don’t feel healed or free in spite of hundreds of forgiveness prayers. This quote may well be a big part of the reason why?

    “Triggers Are Not a Sign of Unforgiveness-
    Triggering has to do with those emotions hidden away, along with memories, all stuffed by trauma in various secret compartments of the brain. Unforgiveness on the other hand is not so much emotion as it is the seeking of vengeance upon someone, rather than leaving it to God. The two are really quite different. You can have forgiven someone, but still get triggered.”

    • HeLovesMe

      Oh my goodness I love that comment, Tonya. And that quote. I’m on my phone so it’s hard to type out a real response but wanted to thank you for such a generous comment. It totally resonated with me and very much describes what I’m going through. Brought me a lot of comfort as this journey is already hard enough as it is!

    • Hi Tonya, if you haven’t already seen it you might like to explore What About Forgiveness? which is one of our FAQs. I think it would help you disentagle some of the false notions you’ve been taught about forgiveness. 🙂

    • Helovesme

      I thought about your comment, Tonya, because it was so good.

      “And just about everyone says that forgiveness leads to healing. Yet, I have not felt like I’ve been healed or set free.”

      “Unforgiveness on the other hand is not so much emotion as it is the seeking of vengeance upon someone… You can have forgiven someone, but still get triggered”

      The “confusing” narratives I’ve heard about forgiveness tended to make things worse for me. And I too thought as you wrote about being set free, and experiencing far different results.

      Forgiving others felt communicated as if it was a one day only sale, and if you didn’t hurry up, you’d be missing out. And you’ll regret it if you don’t do everything you can to get there:

      Forgive someone—like right now! Don’t delay! Why are you just sitting there? Get going! Get it done! Don’t miss out! This is an opportunity that won’t last long! Hurry! Hurry!

      The Word speaks beautifully about forgiving others out of the richness of His forgiveness towards us. And the need for it as well. However, those passages (for a long time) communicated a sense of shame to me. It wasn’t coming easy to me.

      I thought you just had to say: “I forgive this person,” and then it would work itself out in reality. But you had to declare it to confirm your sincere desire for it. Sort of like: I want those shoes, and then I would take the steps to go into the store, try them on and purchase them.

      I don’t think the Bible advocates apathy when it comes to forgiveness. But I don’t think there are passages that tell you exactly how LONG forgiveness should and should not take. And what indicates that you’re taking “too long.” I think that is where Barb’s words in the post about God-given common sense would step in.

      We don’t sentence a person to 20 years in jail for a speeding ticket. You pay a fine. We should consider sentencing someone to 20 years in jail for sexual assault. There is no amount of money that would suffice for such a crime.

      I think of women in the public eye who have given birth, and they are automatically under pressure to lose the weight. It took nine months to put on that weight. It’s supposed to go away in nine weeks? That is incredibly unrealistic, not to mention unfair.

      I had been abused for a good 15 years. Think of all that “weight” I’m carrying around. Think of how much pain I’ve accumulated from a lot of episodes of abuse.

      However, I’m going to flip the coin and throw all that out the window. Assault can happen in a short time, but the impact remains for a lifetime.

      You CAN forgive those that hurt you, but I would suggest that factors like who hurt us and the seriousness of the offenses need to be taken seriously.

      I would suggest that if professing Christens really do care about our spiritual welfare, to find ways to help us, not to hurry us.

      I would also suggest and plead to treat victims with gentleness and with sensitivity. Any sincere, born again believer has no interest in adding to their hurt by stubbornly refusing to forgive, and insisting on remaining that way forever. It might take a lot of time to peel away those layers, but truly—-the Lord knows their hearts because He knows who belong to Him.

      The triggering quote you offered blessed me like you can’t imagine. I had been triggered badly the previous week and they are very hard to deal with.

      Just as “stretch marks” often accompany a woman who has given birth, long after she has recovered—-there are often reminders on our bodies AND souls of traumas we have endured.

      The triggers tend to be very draining as well. They take away precious time and energy. I HAVE gotten the two confused plenty of times, so when I’d be triggered I thought it was an indication of a lack of forgiveness. Back to square one! As if the triggers weren’t traumatic enough, now I’m traumatized in thinking I need to start all over again to forgive.

      To be honest, I’m not sure where I am personally when it comes to the path of forgiveness. I’ve been hurt a lot, by different people at different times, for different reasons! At this point, I let Him deal with that—-I don’t know exactly where I am, how long it has or will take, or how much further I have to go! What blesses me the most is that God hasn’t forsaken me, and I thought I was pushing Him away with so much lacking in forgiveness.

      One reason why it’s taking me so long to forgive is that many times, I had no idea how others had hurt me. I was so accustomed to being treated as inferior that it was just “business as usual.” Also, it took me a long time to put the pieces together to understand what had been done to me. It’s not like I understood everything as the incidents were occurring!

      I try not to justify myself before the Lord for carrying around so much hurt for so long. I have never given birth, but I did need to lose a lot of extra weight about 12 years ago. It was hard to be patient and disciplined. So I tried to work hard, but also not slack off. I try to apply the same thing to forgiving others.

      In losing weight, I would hear “fat jokes” in the entertainment world that would bring me down. And I would feel so bad that I would lose heart in persevering. When I am triggered emotionally, it feels the same way. It’s like they are pointing their fingers at me and laughing: you’ll never get over it. You’ll never “lose” that weight. You’ll never get better.

      Those are lies. My body has been through a lot, and it’s reflected itself in how I look. And it’s also changed me as a person. And it’s not usually not complimentary. But however I look, inside or out—–this is the reality. This is where I am at. Love me or leave me (I prefer you stay), but I am working on working these things out. Please love me, because I could use the support, but please leave me if you can’t handle how I look or who I am right now.

  14. Finding Answers

    Quoting from the sidebar “……..Triggering has to do with those emotions hidden away, along with memories, all stuffed by trauma in various secret compartments of the brain……”

    And ^That can unexpectedly return one deep into a world of near-total-silence and isolation. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and insightful comments.

  15. Thank you to everyone who has commented on this post. I read every comment, often more than once. Although I don’t respond to every comment, I want you to know that I’m thankful for all that you are saying and sharing.

    The amount of complex discussion at blog posts on ACFJ has increased over time, I think. I’m glad for that. For one thing, it means that I can take longer to publish new posts because the discussion in the comments is so engaging and interesting.

    • Clockwork Angel

      Well, I suppose we don’t need so much content if we keep each other entertained. 😉

      That’s what I like about this place, though. We can discuss and support. So, take your time coming out with new stuff! There’s no pressure! Thank you for all you do.

      • 🙂 🙂 “Well, I suppose we don’t need so much content if we keep each other entertained. 😉”

        Yeah, and the comments thread not only entertains us and supports us, it educates us. People ask good questions and make good observations, and that sparks other people to think and to speak. 🙂

        But now I know you’re a long-time carer, I appreciate how much a bit of light relief or entertainment helps you feel ‘normal’, When I was caring for my Dad in his last years, I had a bit of an experience how lonely and burdensome the role of a carer can be. And how exhausting! I appreciated even random small conversations with adults who were not seriously ill, conversations about everyday things or little (benign) jokes.

      • Clockwork Angel

        But now I know you’re a long-time carer, I appreciate how much a bit of light relief or entertainment helps you feel ‘normal’, When I was caring for my Dad in his last years, I had a bit of an experience how lonely and burdensome the role of a carer can be. And how exhausting! I appreciated even random small conversations with adults who were not seriously ill, conversations about everyday things or little (benign) jokes.

        Yeah. I’d imagine it’s sort of like being home with a toddler and having nothing but baby talk all day. You just want to talk normal.

        But don’t worry about me! My Mom is still able to walk. Well, she hobbles a bit. And she’s often lost muscle control in her ankles and sprained them a lot falling over. But at her age and for having had MS so long, that is doing really well. I don’t know why God doesn’t heal her completely, but He has kept her out of a wheel chair. I’m sure as she gets even older, I’ll have the usual caretaker stuff to do. One day at a time. Right now, God has used me to provide for her (and me), since she can’t work due to nerve pain, lack of sleep from said nerve pain, etc. She’s a tough cookie. We still have our fun. We play video games together and watch TV. God is good!

  16. Kind of Anonymous

    What makes me nuts about triggers is….everything. The way as described above, they can return you in an instant to a world of silence and isolation. In my case, fear, anxiety and unreality. Which make it hard to distinguish whether or not the thing that set off the trigger is the same as the thing in the past which caused the harm. When you feel all the same emotions, reality gets kind of messed up. I’d conclude it’s just not worth it and stay away from anything that relates to triggers like sex, men, marriage, intimacy, trust, relationships, trying to deal with people who are aggressive and bullying, having to go unfamiliar places by myself, having to make judgement calls and decisions I will be responsible for that have life altering consquences….but then I might as well agree not to have a life at all.

    • Finding Answers

      I am led by the Holy Spirit to reply from my unexpected hidey hole of near-to-silence and isolation.

      I agree with everything you wrote, Kind of Anonymous, regarding triggers and life altering consequences.

      Living is more than just surviving, but sometimes one must survive in order to Live.

      • So much pain here —

        “Living is more than just surviving, but sometimes one must survive in order to Live.”

        Thank you for saying it, Finding Answers. 🙂

        Reaching Out can you please add this to our GEMS? Thanks.

      • Reaching Out

        The quote has been added to the GEMS page.

    • Helovesme

      Kind of Anonymous: “Which make it hard to distinguish whether or not the thing that set off the trigger is the same as the thing in the past which caused the harm. When you feel all the same emotions, reality gets kind of messed up….but then I might as well agree not to have a life at all.”

      “they can return you in an instant to a world of silence and isolation.”

      And Finding Answers: “Living is more than just surviving, but sometimes one must survive in order to Live.”

      Yes it’s like you both were reading my mind! What was described in the first quote mirrors my own life. Those thoughts run along the lines of my private prayer times.

      It is the same Holy Spirit listening to all of us when we cry out, so perhaps this is His way of letting us know that He really IS listening, and this is His way of bringing some comfort. We may feel isolated, but in reality others know this sort of pain as well.

      A lot of people don’t understand these things, and I can understand that—-because they are hard to understand!

      Even for those experiencing the actual triggers, it is not only hard to experience them but also make sense of them. So this might understandably cause us to withdraw. Loneliness may understandably contribute to the already existing trauma.

      Since the triggers can come unexpectedly, with little to no warning—–there might not be time to properly prepare to deal with them. And you don’t always know how strong they will or won’t be. Or how long they will last, or which memories will come surging back. How can you think straight while you feel like you’re being sucked underwater, and then, you don’t quite know if they are indicative of a lack of healing, or a lack of forgiveness, or (in my case) a lack of sanity!

      There are no easy answers. I don’t believe there is an exact “manual” that is a “one size fits all” that we can turn to.

      My personal experiences with my triggers have often left me feeling drained, ashamed and frankly. pathetic. Am I supposed to survive in order to live, or live in order to survive?

      I would point to Psalm 18 for comfort. And to remind us that regardless of the strength of those triggers, none of them combined are stronger than the Living God:

      “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
      he drew me out of deep waters.
      He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
      from my foes, who were too strong for me.
      They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
      but the Lord was my support.
      He brought me out into a spacious place;
      he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

      The whole Psalm is wonderful, but I picked this portion for the words “too strong” for me.

      I grew up in an area that was prone to tornadoes during the spring and summer. So I understand the fear of something huge and horrible potentially stalking you, or coming after you. As an unbeliever, I used to think the wrath of God was personally coming after me. Was there any way to appease Him so He would spare my life?

      Tornadoes are horrible for lots of reasons, but one of them is that they are unpredictable. They’ll pick up one house, but skip another. They’re not all powerful in the same way (there is a scale that measures their strength). A funnel cloud is how they develop, but even if a funnel cloud is spotted, there is no guarantee one will develop.

      You watch for the signs, listen to the experts on the radio, do what those experts tell you to do, prepare as best you can—–and wait and see what happens. Things are happening that are out of your control, but you can still fight to survive.

      I was terrified. Scared to look out the window (the storms were often catastrophic on their own). Tried not to imagine the worst, but still prepare for the worst.

      We would scurry to the basement (underground is the safest place to be). Don’t leave until you know it’s safe to do so. Even experts cannot always predict something so unpredictable, so you have to stay put. And IF a tornado comes, you have to hunker down as a group and crowd into a corner, away from windows or anything flammable.

      So not only are you limited to being in one space when danger is afoot, then you have to scrunch up into an even tighter space if the danger becomes life-threatening.

      What I’m describing is paralleling what triggers often do to us. Hopefully we can all relate to the fear, anxiety, AND the uncertainty.

      It’s wonderful to be a believer and know His righteous wrath against us was swallowed up on the cross. He is forever done with dealing with us on the basis of His wrath.

      The Lord’s intensity described in Psalm 18 was not directed at us. It was directed at those who are hurting us.

      David pleasantly surprised me when he, as a well known warrior, openly admitted that his enemies were too strong for him, and he needed not only help—–but supernatural help. And God was more than willing to step into that gap.

      No one celebrates that they are feeling overpowered. But David had no problem celebrating that despite feeling outmatched, they were no match for the Lord.

      When I am dealing with a LOT, I feel like I’m that child again—-living in fear and fearing for my life. I easily forget that even though tornadoes are nothing to trifle with, the Lord is stronger than all the natural catastrophes put together! And He is not to be trifled with either, but on a completely different scale!

      When we step into eternity, these “storms,” both literal and metaphorical, will cease to exist. We’ll never have to isolate ourselves and hunker down in a cramped space, both literally and metaphorically.

      I’ve become somewhat withdrawn from people, but not necessarily because of my triggers. I need people around me who can be supportive of me, and those around me have demonstrated otherwise. They have no one to blame but themselves. God is not ashamed of my pain, so I will aim to feel the same way—-and I need people who will bless me, not burden me even more.

      But if you have a person or persons in your life that can and will make you a priority, embrace that blessing.

      And if not, ask the Lord to step into that gap as David did. You won’t be disappointed. When I read the description of how intensely He came to his rescue, I am reassured. You’re in good Hands!

  17. Helovesme

    Hi Barb just a suggestion to include one of your own quotes on that GEMS page.

    “All abusers love simplistic notions which they can manipulate for their own advantage.”

    That brought a lot of perspective for me, and if more people get to see it, I hope it will bless them, too.

    Actually I think you could write a whole post on it. So many things were running through my mind that I’ve heard or listened to that has duped victims. Very simplistic but very much lacking! Things like:

    Abusers hurt because they are hurting. More servant love, prayer, submission or intimacy will solve everything. God hates divorce. Suffer in order to bring him to Christ.

    Extremely narrow thinking that is passed off as Biblical straight and narrow!

    Just a suggestion of course. And specific insert would be that the Word of God is dangerously oversimplified in order to keep victims silent, or continue to remain in bondage.

  18. speaknarrativeforlife

    Wonderful Post Barbara. It’s refreshing to have a knowledgable woman helping to clarify the bible instead of just another privileged, entitled man.

  19. Kind of Anonymous

    Just reading through the article and comments. One thing that still makes me nuts and on which I have commented before, is wondering when there is enough jerk behaviour to justly saying “We’re done”. When would God say this is abuse?

    Could a clue be found in the verse that says that husbands are not to be harsh with their wives lest their prayers be hindered? What would God consider harsh? I have always wondered and noted that those who speak of how sacred marriage is and point to the fact that the church is the bride of Christ, and that marriage is meant to represent the relationship between Christ and the church, fail to notice that someone who is sinning is giving chances to be confronted and to repent but if they don’t, they are removed from the bride/marriage and if they do not repent, they do not come back. While it might be wise not to stretch that too far, it does make me think.

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