Church Leaders and the Church: Responding to Christians Who Are Divorced

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Many times the church has not been a safe place for Christians who are divorced. They have been marginalized, judged negatively, ignored, and not cared for by church leaders and the church.

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This is probably not the kind of blog post you’d expect on Valentine’s Day, but for many, Valentines Day is a painful one.  It may be a day of losses and heartache as they are reminded of their broken marriage – a marriage they hoped would last a lifetime.

Through blogging, I have connected with some precious people who have experienced divorce and they have shared some of the difficulties they have faced at their churches.  This ought not be so.  I’m thankful for “Bethany” who has written this article with such great insight.  ~ja

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14 Signs that Your Church Needs An Attitude Adjustment Toward Divorced People

By Bethany Crocker

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Jesus set the example of reaching out and healing people: the rich and poor, the popular and the outcasts.  He touched lepers and sick people, and raised the dead. He set the standard of caring and kindness, and called his followers to serve and love one another. His church is a place of healing. However, sometimes the church can be a place where people can be hurt as well. Every person in the church needs to be aware of words and attitudes that drive people away.

This list uses strong language to make a point. I hope that it will move Christians to grapple with this problem: the quiet, subtle shunning of divorced Christians and their children. Shunning those who need care is wrong. To be able to right this wrong, we must be aware of how churches push divorced Christians and their kids out the door. Not all the actions in the following list occur in every church. However, any of these items can further hurt people who are already in pain. And that hurt can alienate them from the church. In that case, our actions, intentional or not, are keeping people away from the tender and healing love and grace of God.

I have witnessed some of these actions. I have seen the damage they cause in people. I hear the sadness of people who’ve had to go to other churches because their home church lacked sensitivity. 

Have any of these happened to you? If so, do you still attend church?

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You know You’re in an Uncaring Church when…

1.  You are permanently removed from leadership or from the worship team just because you are divorced, even if you are the innocent party. Taking a break from ministry during the time of crisis is an appropriate response to the emotional condition of people. Disqualifying them from ministry, however, is not appropriate.

2.  Your pastor and youth leader preach anti-divorce sermons that proclaim ALL divorce is wrong.

“If you walk away from your marriage you are walking away from Jesus.”
—or—

“Divorce never makes anything better.”

3.  Your church leaders give the impression that 90% of divorces are for frivolous reasons.

According to a study done in the past 10 years, only 12% of divorcees surveyed said they divorced because they fell out of love. Nearly 50% of divorces were for very serious problems: adultery, abandonment, drug/alcohol addition, abuse, felonies, etc.

4.  Your church leaders act as though all marriage problems are easy to solve if you try harder, including marriages with recurring infidelity, abandonment/disappearance, abuse, drug addictions, alcoholism, or incest.

5.  Your church leaders use scare tactics to warn people about the consequences about divorce. The fact that church leaders don’t use these same tactics with common problems such as gossip, greed, arrogance, overeating, and quarrelsomeness, suggests that using scare tactics is not an approach that sends the right message.

6.  Your church leaders treat marriage as a magical cure for weaknesses such as bad character, selfishness, alcoholism, immaturity, felony activity, illegal drug use, mental illness, porn addictions, child molesting, etc. This attitude encourages people to marry even though one or both are not reliable or responsible.

7.  Your church forgives felonies but not divorce.
First, not all divorce is sinful. To treat all divorce as sinful is wrong. Second, we should not make an unfair distinction in sins, as if some are forgivable and others are not.

8.  Christians don’t offer sympathy for marriage breakdowns. 

For example, in some churches, when innocent spouses tell their story and hope for understanding, they are dismissed by the phrase: “It takes two to tango,” implying that their complaint is irrelevant because all divorces are evidence of the nearly equal failure of both parties.

9.  Your Sunday school teacher or Bible study leader teach you to stay away from singles and divorced people. They show Christian marriage videos and preach sermons with the message you must hang out only with “people who will encourage your marriage.”  Instruction on how to strengthen our marriages and become better couples and parents is vital for the church. However, encouraging Christians to befriend and restore people who have experienced traumatic experiences such as divorce is also a vital ministry of the church. Our teaching should not alienate nor denigrate a group that is already filled with guilt and grief.

10.  Church leaders see divorced people as Bubonic plague carriers, and subtly encourage people to quietly and secretly shun divorced friends. While they don’t come out and tell you to end the friendship, they often recommend that you spend your free time with happily married couples and their children.  They approve when you stop inviting children from divorced homes to come over for birthday parties and play dates because those kids might be a bad influence.

11.  Some church leaders want to use you as a poster child for the Tragedy of Divorce.

Several years ago I was invited to share my story of how God had restored my life and my children’s lives. My dramatic story of disgrace-to-honor reflected the biblical themes of weeping-to-joy and death-to-life, but I was told by a pastor to “tone down the happiness” in my testimony. It was a shame to leave out the amazing reversals: from grinding hardship to financial stability, from feeling rejected to finding a meaningful life-changing ministry. When the Lord rebuilds a person’s life — in spite of all the odds — it bring glory to God when we tell others.

12.  When you ask why there aren’t more single parents at your church (despite the fact that nearly 1 in 4 households with children under 18 are headed by a single parent), Christians often say that divorced people don’t value God’s standard of marriage enough to come to church. In my experience, divorced Christians often avoid church because they feel lonely, isolated, unwelcome, and get used as a cautionary tale.

13.  Your church leaders teach that God will heal your marriage even if one party isn’t willing.

God allows divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. If God allows it, who are we to deny it or accuse people of not trying when it is necessary?

14.  Your church prohibits the D-Word 

Some churches instruct couples to never mention the word divorce in their marriage, as if this is a magic talisman to avoid a marriage failure. Not only is this silly, it’s not biblical.  God often warns his people he will divorce them.  There are boundaries in marriage that require warnings.

Here are 14 suggestions that allow us to be obedient to God’s Word while also show God’s love, grace, compassion, and welcoming to those who are experiencing a horrible form of brokenness in their lives…

** divorce, christian marriages, broken marriages, church response to divorce

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14 Ways to Be Sensitive

1.  When teaching on divorce, mention that nearly 50% of divorces occur for very serious reasons. Not all divorce is frivolous, nor is all divorce a sin.

2. Remember that nearly 1 person in 3 who has ever married has gotten divorced. That means that many people at your church have experienced divorce, even if you are not aware of it. (Note: The divorce rate per marriage is about 50% in the U.S., but some people have divorced multiple times, hence the nearly 1-in-3 people figure.)

2.  Acknowledge that most Christians took their vows very seriously and did the best they could to save their marriage, praying and struggling to hold it together for a very long time.

3.  Accept that in the United States, one person can unilaterally divorce the other spouse without their consent. 

4.  If you do remove a person temporarily from leadership in order to give them time to heal, let them know the steps to restoring their position, whenever possible. Be aware that much healing comes through service to the church. So find some way for that person to use their gifts as quickly as is reasonably possible.

5.  Encourage couples to continue their fellowship with any divorced person who comes to church, unless that person is harming others. Accept them where they are right now and pray for them. Don’t exclude them from your Bible study.

6.  Be aware that some people are not marriage material, and that their worst actions are kept secret and hidden. People who are divorced from felons or from dangerous people, for example, usually won’t tell their story to anyone.

7.  Be willing to help people who are victims by offering friendship, legal and  accounting referrals, counseling, and possibly financial help.

8.  Get to know the passages where God allowed divorce due to the hardness of people’s hearts in both the Old Testament and New Testament:

Ex. 21:7-11, Deut 21:10-14, Deut. 24:1-4, Matt. 19:8, Ezra 9:1-2, 10:1-12,
Neh. 13:23-27, Matt. 5:31-32,

(For a good discussion of this topic, download the free printable PDF “God’s Protection of Women” from RBC Ministries.  web001.rbc.org/pdf/discovery-series/gods-protection-of-women.pdf)

9.  Treat divorced people with respect, just as Jesus treated the woman at the well. 

10. Don’t call divorced households “broken families.” Sometimes the marriage was so badly broken that divorce was necessary to bring up the children in a safe and healthy home. Use the phrase “divorced families” or “single parent families.”

11. Be aware that most children from divorced families are likely to turn out just as well as children from intact families especially if their parents find supportive friendships at church. A 2004 survey found that Christians are nearly 3 times more likely to recover from divorce than people with no religion.

12.  Don’t buy into the myth that getting divorced dooms the children to divorce. Although there is a 26% correlation with divorce for people whose parents are divorced, there are at least five factors that correlate with divorce at an equal or higher rate. 

A.  AGE at marriage: If marrying at less than 18 years old: 29%

B.  INCOME: If earning less than $25,000 annually: 31%

C.  How important is RELIGION to you? If responding, “Not important”:  26%

D.  Ever had FORCED premarital sex?  If yes: 34%

E.  Timing of first birth

(1) Having a child before the marriage (or bringing a child into the marriage): 29%, or

(2) Infertility or no children after the marriage: 29%

13.  Don’t condemn the spouse who files the legal paperwork.
Often the person who files for divorce is the “innocent” spouse. Spouses who are out of control, such as adulterers, alcoholics, drug abusers, physical and verbal abusers, abandoners, sociopaths, and felons are less likely to file for divorce. They want it both ways: To live a self-centered immoral lifestyle and keep up the pretenses of having a home and spouse who runs the household while they do their own thing.

14. Don’t assume that the top need for divorcees is finances, home repair or car repair. 

The number one need is for friendship, respect, and acceptance. They need a listening ear on a regular basis. Good people want to be treated as equals, not as “less-than” or second-class citizens. They need to be recognized for the gifts they have and be given opportunities to use them.

©2013 Bethany Crocker (pseudonym). All rights reserved. This blog post may be reposted if duplicated exactly including this copyright.

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photo credits: prayerfriends and valart2008 via photopin cc

88 comments on “Church Leaders and the Church: Responding to Christians Who Are Divorced

  1. I had what I considered 3 close Christian male friends before my divorce. When I said I was going to get divorced, one of them shunned me immediately, one met me once and then shunned me, and one asked me for the Biblical reasons I was doing this. This latter was actually helpful as I cried and prayed and discovered the word of David Instone-Brewer.

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  2. This is super! I had to LOL when she said she had to tone down the happiness in her divorce/recovery testimony. A lot of people were vexed at my church when I was happy to be divorced. My husband was angry, adultering, used recreational drugs which make him angry when they were wearing off apparently, and eventually beat me up. Once the initial shock was over, and my daily anxiety calmed, I was very happy to be dating, going out, making friends and having a second chance. My children were happy too–the danger and fighting were gone from their house and their mom was happy, not oppressed. It did suprize me the number of people who tried to coach me to say more negative things about my life as I would tell my story with joy, like “I imagine it must be hard on the children.” “Nope,” I would say, “They have a better relationship with their father now and so do I.” People didn’t like that my divorce was actually a happy ending.

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  3. My first spouse was sleeping around, got pregnant, asked if I would raise the child though it was not mine, and did not wait for my answer before getting an abortion, for which she blamed me. And then said she planned to continue sleeping around. So we agreed on a divorce after separating. The financial cost was great, as we had just bought a house six months before splitting up. I also believe it contributed to me losing a job that I really liked and was good at, but the community was very conservative.

    About two years after we broke up, and after I had undergone a reformation in my own spiritual life, I met a young woman in Sunday School class. I had told the Lord that I would not marry again, unless the woman proposed, and I told that to no one else. Saturday evening, three weeks after we met, we went out to a church group Halloween party, and then to a haunted house, and ended the evening together praying. The next day we went to church together, dinner, and then a drive in the country. The following Friday, the 27th day we had known each other, she proposed and I accepted. 12 weeks later, we married.

    We have a great relationship, spend a lot of our time in ministry and Bible study, and are very much in love, 35 years later. I actually think that our marriage survived a couple of rough spots because of my prior marriage and divorce experience, which taught me to express my love, to be faithful without any doubt, and to be patient and giving in every circumstance.

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  4. It was mentioned in the blog post, but it bears mentioning again. Few of us Evangelicals study ALL of the biblical passages about divorce. If we did, we would know the verses that give biblical reasons for allowing for divorce in cases of abuse.

    This free printable PDF “God’s Protection of Women” from RBC Ministries is excellent and goes through verse by verse. web001.rbc.org/pdf/discovery-series/gods-protection-of-women.pdf)

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  5. Anon-by-Choice,

    Your story is truly fascinating. I’ve never heard of a man praying for a woman to propose to him, but I can see why it would be appropriate considering your story. I’m glad you two have had a happy 35-year life together. May there be many years more!

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  6. This is great.. . . both the posts and the comments.
    You may be interested to know that RBC have told me that they are in the process of reviewing their articles on divorce and remarriage in light of how I explain in my book (“Not Under Bondage”) that the slogan ‘God hates divorce’ is based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16. But that’s a mere side thread to this post; the post is great and I really appreciate your boldness in posting it on Valentine’s day, Julie Anne. Well done, sister! I’m sharing the post on the A Cry For Justice facebook page right now. 🙂 🙂

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  7. Thanks for reclaiming Valentines Day for the rest of us! I was asked to speak at a women’s tea (oh, how I hated the fakery of those events) at my former church. Not the main speaker, just give a 5 minute testimony with this theme: “The Lord is My Anchor in Times of Storms.” I got a phone call from the head of the women’s ministries asking if I planned to mention my divorce? Yeeeesss…is there a problem with that? I offered that I wouldn’t mention details, just that God was faithful to carry my son and me through it. She explained that it would be inappropriate to mention the “D” word since little girls would be present with their moms. I am a teacher and explained I could convey the essence of the situation without sharing any details. She still deemed it inappropriate and I never shared my testimony in any group setting in six years. I believe the other women who shared that day addressed lightweight phony “storms”; the kind that wouldn’t make the male leadership embarrassed. In retrospect, I realize the speakers were always the same women: elders’ wives who were trained to maintain the image of the church and of the leaders. It is really refreshing to not be ashamed all the time. Thanks, you guys.

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  8. Love all the points, but I feel the need to add something to the last one. AFTER prioritizing friendship and respect, DO assume that for single mothers, finances, home repairs and car repairs are areas of need. Not having good income AND having to pay $60 an hour for a tradesman is a double whammy.

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  9. “. 9. Your Sunday school teacher or Bible study leader teach you to stay away from singles and divorced people. ”

    I am most familiar with variations of this one in the seeker movement. there was a HUGE deal about married men never being alone with another woman not his wife. This was POLICY in some mega’s for married staff. They always quoted Billy Graham policy on this one.

    This meant male and female staff members could not even go to lunch together in the same car! I know of one staff pastor who called his wife to come and take a woman home whose car broke down so he would not be riding in the car with her alone!

    Now many people would say this is wise but it has all sorts of ramifications for living in real life as a believer. Why do they assume a man and woman alone would automatically degrade into sex? What? Are believers just animals with a plastic fish slapped on their foreheads?

    But it was mostly about appearances. This thinking affects single and divorced women the worst as they are seen as “temptations” instead of human beings. They can hardly operate in such an environment.

    I could not have functioned in that world as I traveled all the time with male colleagues.

    There is a law of the universe that if two people want to practice adultery, they will find a way. All the rules in the world won’t keep it from happening. But then, that is not what these sorts of policies are about. They are about appearances. Impressions.

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  10. Another excellent resource through RBC Ministries is the Day of Discovery DVD entitled “When Love Hurts”–Part 1:When Abuse is Worse than Divorce, Part 2: When the Bible is Used to Abuse, Part 3: When Apologies are Dangerous, Part 4:When the Church is Needed Most.
    Thanks for the great post Julie Anne–very encouraging to our family who has had to leave our church because they are supporting the abuser and not us.

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  11. Excellent article, Bethany and thanks for posting it, Julie Anne! Valentine’s Day was the perfect choice as the day to put this out there.

    The only statement worth quoting from my ex-husband pedophile is that Christians have a cheap view of marriage. With our insistence that the marriage be maintained no matter what–abuse, pedophilia, addiction, etc, we have cheapened this relationship that mirrors that of Christ and the Church. Our view of marriage is too low.

    And Another One, I love the “When Love Hurts” DVD and have used it extensively in groups on domestic violence.

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  12. Lydiasellerofpurple,

    You wrote:

    This meant male and female staff members could not even go to lunch together in the same car! I know of one staff pastor who called his wife to come and take a woman home whose car broke down so he would not be riding in the car with her alone!

    Now many people would say this is wise but it has all sorts of ramifications for living in real life as a believer. Why do they assume a man and woman alone would automatically degrade into sex? What? Are believers just animals with a plastic fish slapped on their foreheads?

    I cannot agree with you more. When Christian women are treated like Muslim women, rather than the way as Jesus treated women (Jesus spoke with women alone; he stood up for women) we clearly have a problem with focus. Do we imitate cold-hearted Evangelical rules that have no basis in Scripture or imitate Jesus?

    Also, in my opinion (and I suspect you agree), the entire Billy Graham story is not applicable for normal male-female church interactions. Billy Graham was a Christian celebrity who was a target of tabloids and smear campaigns. His precautions in public were similar to those taken by celebrities today. He was worried about paparazzi. Only celebrities need to take those steps. The rest of us Christians need to treat others with respect and hospitality, regardless of gender.

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  13. jkpvarin,

    Thank you for your story about the women’s ministry director. She should have been thrilled that you would give hope to those who have gone through divorce, rather than acting as if it doesn’t exist.

    For her to pretend divorce doesn’t exist among Christians is superficial and shallow. A person in need cannot be safe at a church that is fake.

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  14. “Also, in my opinion (and I suspect you agree), the entire Billy Graham story is not applicable for normal male-female church interactions. Billy Graham was a Christian celebrity who was a target of tabloids and smear campaigns”

    You are exactly right. And here is the funny part. So many wanna be celebrity pastors put themselves in same category as Graham. They really do think of themselves in that way. As a great man to be brought down so I must protect myself.

    We were told all the time about death threats against them, too. At one point, I was privy to some of these “threats” which were more like anonymous letters saying, “I hope you burn in hell”. Not nice but not a bonafide physical threat. yet, the pew sitters believed whatever they were told and paid for fortress like offices and body guards.

    I finally came to the conclusion that it is important for all “threats” to be made public. But they would NEVER do this. What really galled me where the same pastors going to great trouble to protect themselves would tell someone else in real danger: God will protect you.

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  15. When teaching on divorce, mention that nearly 50% of divorces occur for very serious reasons. Not all divorce is frivolous, nor is all divorce a sin.

    As was pointed out on another blog, frivolous divorce IS common among *CELEBRITIES*, and the Paris Hilton/Charlie Sheen/Justin Bieber set get a LOT of publicity which skews the perception.

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  16. @Lydia:

    What really galled me where the same pastors going to great trouble to protect themselves would tell someone else in real danger: God will protect you.

    Rank Hath Its Privileges, and Some Are More Equal Than Others.

    This meant male and female staff members could not even go to lunch together in the same car! I know of one staff pastor who called his wife to come and take a woman home whose car broke down so he would not be riding in the car with her alone!

    Now many people would say this is wise but it has all sorts of ramifications for living in real life as a believer. Why do they assume a man and woman alone would automatically degrade into sex? What?

    Because that IS the assumption of PORN.
    (And of the Ayatollahs and Talibani. Not much of a stretch from “never be alone with one of those Jezebels” to the burqa, locked harem, and honor killing.)

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  17. Be aware that some people are not marriage material, and that their worst actions are kept secret and hidden.

    And when this gets mixed with a “Salvation by Marriage Alone” church culture where EVERYONE has to get married by 18 at the latest, you’re asking for trouble. BIG trouble.

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  18. Quote: “Realize the power of your eyes. As it has been said, your eyes are the windows to your soul. Pull the shades down if you sense someone is pausing a little too long in front of your windows. I realize that good eye contact is necessary for effective conversation, but there’s a deep type of look that must be reserved for your spouse.” (Dennis Rainey, adapted from the Growthtrac.com article “Avoiding Emotional Adultery”)

    32 years ago I was married for two years, the only reason I married him was because I was pregnant. I wasn’t a Christian but didn’t want to abort. As I was going through the divorce, I was a mess, I couldn’t believe that my husband wanted out. After a night out drinking, I had a nasty hang over, I felt so undone and I prayed, that morning I met Jesus on my knees, His presence was delicious, and I was overwhelmed with how he adored me.
    Fast forward years later…
    I always thought it was odd that my X pastor wouldn’t look me in the eye when I went to him for crap counseling. Then I had lunch with a somewhat well known Christian psychologist who told me that he was instructed by a ministry to not look too deeply into a woman’s eyes. He thought that was bizarre, and asked me how that would make me feel in he avoided eye contact with me, I said, ” I know how that feels! It makes me feel invisible or more so a dangerous woman.” I don’t buy the dangerous woman B.S. today. Thank God.
    Can you stand one more story? ( ;
    I was involved in Bible Study Fellowship for several years when the leader approached me to be a discussion leader, she said she thought God had placed me on her heart. I was excited, till the interview. All was going along fine till she said to me, “of course you have never been divorced” right? Wrong. Immediately disqualified. What turns my stomach today is I was so indoctrinated that even though I felt like a second class Christian I submitted with understanding because I knew it was crucial to be BIBLICAL. ( Been married to 2nd husband for 26 years & I don’t believe I am living in adultery like old church tried to cram down my throat.

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  19. Just think if I would have had an abortion & never married worlds oldest teenager, I could have been a bible study leader. Now doesn’t that just smack of ridiculousness.

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  20. Gailakascared wrote:

    I was involved in Bible Study Fellowship for several years when the leader approached me to be a discussion leader, she said she thought God had placed me on her heart. I was excited, till the interview. All was going along fine till she said to me, “of course you have never been divorced” right? Wrong. Immediately disqualified.

    + + + + + +

    This is so typical of certain Christian ministries, para-church organizations, and churches. That’s why these ministries will simply be replaced by organizations that want to help people more than then want to judge them.

    Christians, and women in particular, should be cautious about joining Christian programs that have policies that disqualify divorced people regardless of the reason.

    In my opinion, and indeed in my own life experience, the result is obvious: BSF and many churches would accept a godly Bible study leader who is married to an active child molester, but not one who divorced that pedophile in order to protect children at her church. (And yes, our churches are full of Christian child molesters.)

    I should know…I am an ex-wife of a Christian child molester who was accepted in my church until I divorced him.
    See my story here:
    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/15/being-married-to-a-pedophile-a-wife-speaks-out-and-offers-hope-to-other-wives-of-pedophiles/

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  21. Just think if I would have had an abortion & never married worlds oldest teenager, I could have been a bible study leader. Now doesn’t that just smack of ridiculousness.

    + + + + +

    Yes, it is ridiculous. It shows how out of touch many of these ministries are.

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  22. I see more and more a certain group of “Christians” using the Bible as a weapon. They don’t want to believe painful things like divorce, children on drugs etc. would ever happen to them. They misuse the Bible to delude themselves that they are not vulnerable to sin and loss, because their knowledge of scripture magically protects them. There is a huge difference between knowledge (information) and wisdom( the application of knowledge). My prayer is those who are at the receiving end of these attacks not lose heart. It becomes difficult to read the same source (the Bible) that others use to disenfranchise you! Thank you JA for your heart for others!

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  23. JA, I do have a question, maybe for here or for another blog. How have you personally kept your faith after experiencing such injustice from your church? Also has it been hard for you to gain encouragement from scripture? How have your attitudes changed? I am troubled, because now when I try to read scripture I become mostly angry. I have returned to my hometown and family who are all educated and well off. It is easy for them to blame “others” ( the liberals, the professors, Obama, gay people, etc) as the cause for all the world’s evil. Also the gays are another cause of divorce.??? They use scripture to show these “others” are causing the End Times. Of course, even if I quote scripture about love-it seems not to matter. They seem to feel safer if they and others like them are the only holders of truth. BTW I am very apolitical, but apparently my views on God’s love make me a liberal! I would appreciate anyone’s input about not becoming cynical about God after being mistreated or seeing such attitudes from other believers. Thanks!

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  24. Gail, Your experiences sound so familiar to me. I saw this all the time in the seeker mega movement.

    The ONLY way a divorced woman could teach at all is if she just happened to be remarried to a respected mover and shaker in the community. It was all based upon power and position. What I came to see is that many of these folks actually hid most of their “crap” so they would be accepted by the group. For some of us, it is not so easy to hide it and don’t have the money to cover for it.

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  25. Lisa said:

    My children were happy too–the danger and fighting were gone from their house and their mom was happy, not oppressed. It did suprize me the number of people who tried to coach me to say more negative things about my life as I would tell my story with joy, like “I imagine it must be hard on the children.” “Nope,” I would say, “They have a better relationship with their father now and so do I.” People didn’t like that my divorce was actually a happy ending.

    This is sad. God gave divorce as a provision for difficult marriages and yet people in the church want to judge one who has divorced as the sinner (or choosing to do evil by divorcing) when the divorcing spouse is only accepting this legitimate and Biblical way out. Why did God give the provision of divorce – – because He knew that there are those very difficult cases where hardness of heart does far more damage than good – – and because he cares about the oppressed.

    I need to offer a disclaimer that this is fairly new thought for me. I’ve had to search scriptures for myself and I also admit that I have been that person who has challenged someone for divorcing their spouse because I was that judging “Christian.” Shame on me! I think I will be paying someone a phone call and a long overdue apology.

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  26. Ann,

    I’ll take a stab at answering one of your questions. 1. “How have you personally kept your faith after experiencing such injustice from your church?”

    I didn’t keep my faith for a season, I couldn’t read the bible because of the way my lens of understanding was perverted at my X church. After fourteen years at legalistic cult I was bewildered & didn’t understand wtheck had happened.

    I took a lot of the blame because I just couldn’t live a perfectly submitted life to all the rules. I was heart broken & I wasn’t sure who I was without my faith. I lost almost all of my Christian friends, this was ten, almost eleven years ago. Didn’t attend church for 5/6 years. The one thing I did was journal my prayers to Jesus, and cry out to him almost every night, but I wongly assumed that didn’t count because I had back slid.

    A funny thing happened, I made new friends & most were not believers. I had a glass or two of wine with them at our dinners, a big no no back in the day, we swapped stories, they showed up when my husband had surgeries in NYC, I went to their parents funerals & children’s weddings. They affectionately nick named me Rev. Gail because I would talk about Jesus without hammering them. I was as lost as they were in truth. But, Jesus didn’t lose me, he revived my heart for Him. I rarely attend church today, I love to read the gospels & the psalms, still get triggered by all the mean spirited bigotry that passes for Christianity today. Jesus is faithful is all I can say, He some how brought me back to believing in Him & His mercy, grace and forgiveness & is healing the false picture I had of Him.

    Not saying its been easy or that I don’t have days when I cry out Why?! The difference is I know it is sacred to let Him into all of me, my doubts, fears, & great joy.
    And the blogs, o my goodness the blogs! Especially here, is where I heal more and more every day from all the voices that call the abusers out. This is church. ( O, boy I might get pounced on for that)

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  27. P.S. Ann, I was very angry. Still get a burr under my collar when I encounter a know it all! Methinks Jesus understands anger at Pharisee’s.

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  28. This free printable PDF “God’s Protection of Women” from RBC Ministries is excellent and goes through verse by verse. web001.rbc.org/pdf/discovery-series/gods-protection-of-women.pdf)

    I also highly recommend this PDF. It is excellent. It’s interesting that we have been spoon fed the 2 justifications for “Biblical” divorce for years as: adultery and abandonment. However, there are at least two prominent church leaders who promote the “permanence” view of marriage and many Christians are okay with that: John Piper and Voddie Baucham. Obviously this subject is up for interpretation and there are going to be variances in that interpretation.

    I’ve had to look at the whole of scripture and not narrow it down to one verse in the NT. What kind of God do we see present throughout the entire Scripture in OT and NT? How does God respond and urge of us in responding to the oppressed and defenseless? I see a just and merciful God.

    You tell me – – – would a just and merciful God expect a woman (or man) who is being physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused to suck it up for the sake of a marital covenant which by all accounts is a farce, while her husband (or wife) gets to continue in his chronic sinful behavior with no accountability? For real?

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  29. You may be interested to know that RBC have told me that they are in the process of reviewing their articles on divorce and remarriage in light of how I explain in my book (“Not Under Bondage”) that the slogan ‘God hates divorce’ is based on a mistranslation of Malachi 2:16.

    I was not aware of that. Excellent! Readers, you can find Barb here talking about the Malachi 2:16 “God Hates Divorce” topic here:

    But that’s a mere side thread to this post; the post is great and I really appreciate your boldness in posting it on Valentine’s day, Julie Anne. Well done, sister! I’m sharing the post on the A Cry For Justice facebook page right now.

    Thank you for passing it along, Barb.

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  30. I got a phone call from the head of the women’s ministries asking if I planned to mention my divorce? Yeeeesss…is there a problem with that? I offered that I wouldn’t mention details, just that God was faithful to carry my son and me through it.

    Good grief – like you had the plague or something. This is all kinds of crazy and no amount of love. I’m so sorry.

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  31. Don said,

    I had what I considered 3 close Christian male friends before my divorce. When I said I was going to get divorced, one of them shunned me immediately, one met me once and then shunned me, and one asked me for the Biblical reasons I was doing this….

    Don, I am so sorry to hear about those two friends who shunned you.

    Would they do the same to someone who lied on his taxes, or was gluttonous, had anger issues, or lusted?

    No, probably not.

    I had a girlfriend whose husband was a compulsive adulterer with dozens of liaisons every year. But when she finally filed for divorce (at the recommendation of her pastors) she was shunned by her Bible study. And so were her kids. No more invitations to the Bible study, social events or even kids birthday parties.

    Spiritual abuse much?

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  32. Gail! Thank you. You give me hope. I don’t go to church anymore, but am in a Centering Prayer group at a local Catholic Church. (No, I am not Catholic). The people in the group are mostly older and Catholic, but embrace me and my husband with love. Of course I was taught that this would only open my mind to satanic influences. Not my experience. Again thank you for your story and words of encouragement. Ann

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  33. Ann, I saw your question to me. I want to get to it but it may take some time. I’m at a ladies retreat soaking up some sweetness from good fellowship with old friends and great teaching this week.

    Like

  34. The rbc material is very good. I plan to update my marriage and divorce teaching based on things I learned from it.

    After the shunning episode, I figured out that I should ALWAYS ask how someone understands ANY decision in light of Scripture and not just assume I know the answer.

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  35. There is definitely overlap with this list for how churches treat divorced people with how they treat adults over 30 who have never married, as well as towards widows and widowers.

    In many evangelical churches, only married people with children are routinely acknowledged, followed by married couples who are childless.

    If you’re single – it could be due to you’ve never married, divorce, widowed – you are either not paid any attention, or you get treated horribly.

    Some of the similarities:

    4. Your church leaders act as though all marriage problems are easy to solve if you try harder,

    For single adults, we get treated as though getting married is super easy. I have wanted to be married since I was a teen, but I’m in my 40s now. Married Christians act like getting a spouse is a snap!

    Until they get divorced or the spouse dies, then I’ve seen them come on to blogs and say how hard it is to get back in the dating game and get another mate.

    6. Your church leaders treat marriage as a magical cure for weaknesses

    That also applies to never married adults. We get told also, in the opposite, that we are not as mature or holy as married people. We are also given the message that only single people commit sexual sin (meanwhile, I’m a virgin in my 40s, while I see repeated stories online of Christian married men who use dirty sites or who have many affairs)

    8. Christians don’t offer sympathy for marriage breakdowns.

    They also tend to be unsympathetic if you’re past 35 and single and haven’t married yet but want to be married. Then you get the “be content / Jesus if your husband” platitudes, or told you are selfish for wanting marriage.

    9. Your Sunday school teacher or Bible study leader teach you to stay away from singles and divorced people.

    Yep. Many married folks view singles as threats, even though we’re not.

    I find this very insulting, and when I brought it up at the TWW blog a time or two, one or two people there actually argued in favor of maintaining the stereotype that singles are dangerous and trouble and that married people should not be around them or be seen with them.

    10. Church leaders see divorced people as Bubonic plague carriers

    Yep, it’s the same thing with being a never married adult over the age of 35. They assume never-married ladies over 35 must be weirdos who have “baggage” and that the never-married men must be pedos or homosexual or weirdos.

    In my experience, divorced Christians often avoid church because they feel lonely, isolated, unwelcome, and get used as a cautionary tale.

    Mmm-hmm, that is why never married Christians stay away too, that, and most every sermon and ministry pushes marriage, married couples, and being a parent.

    but I was told by a pastor to “tone down the happiness” in my testimony

    Wow. 😯

    By the way, a lot of churches and denominations do not permit never-married adults or widows or widowers to serve in leadership roles or functions, either, not even as Sunday School teachers. They prefer people who are currently married.

    If your spouse dies, many churches will kick you out of your role (I’ve read about that happening on other sites and in books).

    Anyway, as I said, there is a lot of overlapping between how divorced people are ignored/treated like trash by churches and how churches treat the adult never-married and the widows.

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  36. @ lydiasellerofpurple
    Thank you. I totally agreed with your whole post, especially this part:

    But it was mostly about appearances. This thinking affects single and divorced women the worst as they are seen as “temptations” instead of human beings. They can hardly operate in such an environment.

    I find it ten times more confounding since I made it to my early 40s with my virginity intact, and I was engaged and went on vacations and stuff alone with my ex fiance’.

    If I didn’t “do it’ with my ex when I was alone with him (and for a couple years I had to take birth control, to boot, so no worries of pregnancy), why is there this assumption among so many Christians I (or adult, single women in general) lack sexual self control and will start sleeping with married men now?

    It’s so insulting to be treated with suspicion and like a prostitute, and I’ve not done anything wrong.

    It also leads to loneliness. If you are a single woman, you will rarely get invited over to dinner with married couples or you can’t chat with married guys, and even married women will keep you at arm’s length because they are afraid of you.

    Do married women like that not realize that sometimes married men cheat with MARRIED women? Because that happens. Sometimes married women entice married men (or vice versa).

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  37. Sort of a tangent, but my sister’s husband only came to faith in Christ within the last few years. She has always been a committed Christian and very involved at her church. She and her husband and children attended church every week together. My BIL had promised to do so when he married her. Anyway, years ago her pastor wouldn’t let her lead a women’s Bible study small group because she was married to a non-Christian. My BIL was furious about that (as was I), so he went to talk to the pastor about it. The pastor stood his ground, and called my BIL a hypocrite for attending church weekly without being a believer. What?! Ridiculous! Right? She didn’t encounter that obstacle to leadership at Community Bible Study and spent many years in that organization leading worship and small groups. I don’t know why they still attend that church (it was a church plant of Saddleback). I would not want to “sit under” a pastor like that.

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  38. lydiasellerofpurple said,

    What really galled me where the same pastors going to great trouble to protect themselves would tell someone else in real danger: God will protect you.

    Yes, this! I could write a lot about that, not just in the context of divorce and stuff, but other things.

    I’ve seen that sort of hypocrisy over and again concerning many different issues in life from Christians.

    On the topic of self defense of bullying and harassment, for instance, myself personally – and I’ve read other Christians discuss this, including Christian authors – you will be told by a Christian or preacher to “turn the other cheek,” but that very same person / preacher will, at the first sign of being bullied by someone, hire an attorney to sue that person, or punch that person in the face, or tell the bully to get lost.

    Some Christians love, love, giving other people spiritual-sounding advice, but they use more “worldly” means to solve the same problem if they have that problem, whatever sort of problem it is! This sort of hypocrisy makes me so angry. 😡

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  39. We attended a reformed baptist church and were told we must divorce or be considered in perpetual sin due to having been married before. It didnt matter that my ex husband had brutally abused me in every way and after the divorce proceeded to sexually abuse my daughters. He no longer has parenting time and our blended family is so well blended most wouldn’t know my husband now is not the childrens “real” father. Because of the reformed teaching of the “permanency of marriage” we would be unable to partake in the Lords supper and would probably have been under “church discipline”. After being called adulterers and told our marriage was not real we right away decided to never step foot in a calvinist church. I do find it amusing that in the last couple weeks calvinists are calling other calvinist churches cults namely “the church of wells” I want to scream at these pontificators that they are in a cult too! The cult of calvin.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. My BIL was furious about that (as was I), so he went to talk to the pastor about it. The pastor stood his ground, and called my BIL a hypocrite for attending church weekly without being a believer.

    Joannah – I was skimming a book by someone who was promoting Puritan teachings out of curiosity. The Puritans had the belief that the church was primarily for believers and in fact, they had church leaders (elders?) who would go to homes of members to verify if the members were all true Believers to make sure they were eligible for church attendance and membership.

    I’d sure like to know the criterion for determining whether someone was a Christian or not (if they claimed to be a Believer). And I wonder if outsiders were allowed to judge whether the church leaders were truly Christian.

    I don’t think I’d be a good Puritan.

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  41. anonymous7 – I’m glad my bunk mates at the ladies retreat I am attending did not come in the room when I was reading your comment. They would have seen my jaw dropped. ACKKKKKKKKK!!! That’s just all kinds of crazy and what strikes me the most about all of this is that it presents to your family the picture of God as an angry God who cares only about image of a marital covenant (regardless of the health of the marriage) over the safety and welfare of women and children being abused. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!! I reject that thought. That is not the God I serve. No, thank you!

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  42. Anonymous7 —

    Your story is truly shocking. I am appalled and sickened to read what you and your husband had to put up with. I’m so glad you left that church. In all my years, I have never heard of a church that tells a couple to divorce just because it was a second marriage. Absolutely beyond belief.

    Is this common? Does anyone else know of other churches that do this?

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  43. I have since discovered it is common in Reformed Baptist and Presbyterian circles. If you do a search using the term “permanency of marriage” you will find some twisted and cruel theological arguments for it. You will also find blogs about people who are so obedient to this false teaching that they proudly retell the stories of abandoning their current marriages and obediently divorcing that second spouse.

    The wife of another married couple in this church had been married once before as an unbeliever. Her husband was being mentored by an elder in the church and the husband was let in on this “permanency of marriage” thing and it was suggested that he consider divorcing his wife because remarriage is a sin and the only way to stop sinning is to divorce her. (Both our families have 5 children.) Every day you stay in your remarried situation you are willfully sinning and are an unrepentant adulterer.

    There is a dark ugliness inside Reformed churches that you won’t see immediately. But slowly, they coerce you to assimilate, or else.
    Thankfully we weren’t completely brainwashed yet, and through email, my husband told the church that we would not be attending their little planned meeting which was to discuss the no-remarried-people-allowed rule.

    Voddie Baucham teaches almost the same thing but gives you an avenue to obtain forgiveness and that is by “repenting of your divorce.” I don’t fit that critetia because I am not the least bit sorry for divorcing a man that I was certain would eventually cause my death. So to be told I’m an adulterer as long as I stay in my marriage to my living husband was extremely hurtful. And I especially was not going to reconcile with my abuser which was given as an “all is not lost” option to a life alone raising my five children.

    In Reformed circles you will find a prideful, elitist exclusivity. Their god is a tyrant and they idolize their families. It is a cult.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Anonymous7,

    You said, “In reformed circles you will find a prideful, elitist exclusivity. Their god is a tyrant and they idolize their families. It is a cult.”

    That sounds very similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses: spiritual pride, elitism, a demanding angry Jehovah, and they idolize their interpretation of the Bible (the parts they like) but not Jesus.

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  45. http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/our-theology/

    This is A Cry For Justice theology beliefs. They start with the Reformation (and creeds/confessions) for understanding of God and that always concerns me because that IS the determinist god position whether Luther or Calvin that comes from Augustine’s Platonist/Manichean roots.

    However, I truly believe they love victims and want to help them.

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  46. This “permanency of marriage” doctrine elevates form over substance. Insofar as the substance is concerned, a judicial decree of divorce is not what ends the marriage. It simply recognizes that the marriage had ceased to exist, that the union of a man and woman had been sundered, before anybody filed court proceedings.

    A husband is called to love his wife. A marriage relationship based on authority rather than love, as in patriarchal and complementarian marriages, is not, therefore, a true marriage. There is a very real sense in which the husband in a patriarchal or complementarian marriage, having failed to love his wife, is acting as an unbeliever who has abandoned his wife. While a wife involved in a patriarchal or complementarian marriage may choose to overlook the failure of love, she also has grounds for divorce.

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  47. Gary W, You mentioned “egalitarian.” Did you mean complementarian?

    Your first paragraph is right on!!! The marrital covenant is broken well before the actual divorce.

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  48. All I can say is if I was a wife-beater, I’d be preaching Permanency of Marriage/God Will Punish You. That way, she can’t leave no matter what I do to her.

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  49. We were told that the bigger problem was the remarriage. That God hates divorce but if you do divorce you must never remarry. The second marriage is a sin as you are still married in Gods eyes to the first spouse. It was like nailing jello to the wall. The only way to appease the tyrant god and elders would be to divorce and live alone or reconcile to the first spouse. Every verse or example given as to why this is a false teaching led back to the current marriage is a sin. The buck stops there. No way around it. This and the other extra biblical teachings in these churches make for breeding grounds for all kinds of abuse.

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  50. I forgot to add that if i had been in a church like this back when i was being abused i would have considered suicide. It was extremely difficult escaping as it was. Being treated like second class citizens by these church members added insult to injury.

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  51. Bethany: Thank you for this! I wish I had seen it Friday.

    I was divorced in 1999 and saved four years later. Six years after that, I walked out of evangelical churches and swore I would never go back. Most of the reasons are listed here. I said yes to these: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 14. 9 and 10 were the worst. Pastors from those churches are still teaching marriage classes that tell couples to stay away from singles. Because a married man and a married woman would’t possibly have an affair, would they? I am so sick of being treated like a “contaminant”!!!

    But what really got to me is what you said at the end of no. 11:

    “When the Lord rebuilds a person’s life — in spite of all the odds — it brings glory to God when we tell others.”

    I could spend HOURS telling the story of how the Lord rebuilt my life. He healed my broken heart and wounded spirit after divorcing a porn addict who didn’t think he had a problem that needed to be addressed. My son was 4 when we divorced, and the Lord has provided for us in so many ways that even my agnostic friends can see His hand in it. In 2008, I was laid off twice in a seven-month period, so I started my own business that is still going strong. He saw us through a lawsuit filed by my ex 3 years ago to get a refund of half the child support he’d paid in 13 years. Not only did he lose, Child Support Enforcement made sure I received every dollar he owed me. (More than $23,000!!!)

    My son is now 19 and a freshman in college on a full-tuition scholarship. He is majoring in political science and philosophy in preparation for law school. We are going to Europe in May for 17 days. I cannot wait to sit down at a cafe in Paris, lift our wine glasses and toast, “This is the life!”

    Right now I’m crying with joy and humility, and remembering a scripture that’s perfect for this:

    Isaiah 61:3: “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”

    Thank you for writing this, Bethany. And Julie Anne, thank you for sharing it. I feel like the Lord has just handed me a very special valentine to cherish.

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  52. tlc3,

    I loved your story. It’s so wonderful to hear how God replaced the years the locust ate. What a blessing to see your 19-year-old son turn out well. I hope you two get to celebrate in your Parisienne cafe!

    It is disgusting the way some churches treat divorced people and see us as dangers. They don’t realize that the partner that continues to attend church is the usually innocent one — you know, the one who DIDN’T have affairs.

    I’m glad you walked away from that toxic church. (Did you ever find a good church?)

    My kids also turned out great. My eldest said to me last week: “I wish you hadn’t wasted so much time feeling guilty. You did what was right and we kids all turned out fine.”

    Blessings to you! And congratulations on starting your own business. That’s inspiring!

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  53. Tic3
    Way to go!! Go live it up in Paris and enjoy! 🙂
    I love to hear stories like this – that you decided not to be the receiver of abuse anymore and live your life to the fullest of what God has made you for! We are all happy for you that you get to enjoy life again.

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  54. “I forgot to add that if i had been in a church like this back when i was being abused i would have considered suicide. ”

    Yes! Tell folks that God is (or will) using your abuse for His Glory and that is where it can lead. You must suffer like that for God to get glory. It is sicko. And we have a duty to tell people that is a false god. By trying to bring “meaning” to senseless suffering they end up protecting the evil folks doing it indirectly! It is sick, sick sick.

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  55. Sorry I have been so silent. I was away at a ladies retreat at the Oregon coast and then had lunch with a friend /blogger and his wife and now headed home. Just pulled over for a quick break. About 3 more hours to go.

    I saw some great comments. Will check in when I get home.

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  56. Oh, hopefully this will help keep me awake:

    I would suggest chocolate-covered espresso beans. I saw one guy eat a handful of those at a party before finding out what they were; he was flying on those for over two days before he crashed.

    Or score some “Scho-ko-Kola”, a hypercaffinated chocolate from Germany originally issued to WW2 German Air Force aircrews to keep them alert on long flights.

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  57. Anonymous2: No, I haven’t found another church. Not really interested in finding one. I have found many online resources, like this blog, that keep me in good communities.

    BTW, my ex still attends church. When we were married, we couldn’t go to church because he played in a golf league on Sunday mornings. We went maybe 4 times in 5 years, even though his dad was still preaching. But when we got divorced, he decided he needed to take his son to church, so he gave up the league. Too bad he couldn’t do that for his wife.

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  58. Thank you for writing this, Bethany. And Julie Anne, thank you for sharing it. I feel like the Lord has just handed me a very special valentine to cherish.

    You are so very welcome. What a beautiful story you shared with us. Thank YOU!

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  59. I have been a part of several reformed congregations, and none of them have taught the above ridiculousness regarding marriage/divorce that I have been reading about in the comments above. I do not doubt that these are true experiences and that there are churches out there doing these things and truly hurting people…but just because a church teaches reformed doctrine does not mean this has to be their stance on marriage/divorce. Just wanted to throw that out there…

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  60. Lily – I think your point is very valid. For example, I know many men who hold to complementarian practices and they treat their wives very well and wouldn’t think of lording over them.

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  61. Why do churches think someone’s background (so far as being married or not, stuff like that) is their business?

    If I went to a church that hounded me about insisting about knowing about my background, that would raise a red flag with me, but I’d also tell them it’s none of their business.

    (I am fine with churches doing background checks to make sure someone employed by the church is not a child molester and so on, I am only referring to personal life choices, like did you marry or not, did you remarry after being divorced, etc).

    I’m not seeing where it’s a church’s business what someone’s personal history is, unless that person chooses to share it. What is the church going to do if you simply flatly refuse to tell them if the guy you’re married to now is husband #1 or #2? How would they know? I’d tell them to buzz off if they asked, or give a vague answer that they could not make heads or tails of.

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  62. The statement: “He is my only husband.” would be literally true, but terribly misleading given the question!!!! That kind of answer got Clinton in trouble for perjury, even though he his answer was techincally correct, given the question, just misleading, due the the time frame and the use of the word “is” by the questioner.

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  63. anonymous7,
    I am so very sorry about what you went through.

    It boggles my mind that some Christians think divorcing a second mate over having divorced the first one is fine, if they are the sort who is vehemently anti-divorce across the board (the ones who say you can only divorce in very narrow circumstances, such as adultery, but they do not recognize physical or emotional abuse as justifiable reasons).

    If that is your view point, it would seem to me that to be consistent, that divorcing the second spouse is adding sin to sin. (Not that I believe this way about any of this, I am just saying that it appears to me that they are not being consistent with their own views about marriage/ divorce).

    anonymous 7 said,

    In Reformed circles you will find a prideful, elitist exclusivity. Their god is a tyrant and they idolize their families. It is a cult.

    I’m past 40, have never married or had children, and, oh yes, many conservative Christians are biased against adult singles and worship the nuclear family. It’s not just Reformed, though.

    Evangelicals, Southern Baptists, and fundamentalists also put marriage and family on a pedestal. Adult singlehood and/or childlessness or being childfree are either not considered at all, or, if they are, they are treated like second class citizens, ungodly, or as failures.

    Look at all the “Family” organizations Christians create, all the “Focus on the Family” sort of groups. I have so far not come across a “Focus on Adult Singles and Childless,” which advocates a Christian world view about singleness or being childless.

    When’s the last time you heard conservative Christian use the term “singles’ values?” It’s always “family values.” Since when is the nuclear family the gatekeeper or setter of values all Christians should live by?

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  64. “Lily – I think your point is very valid. For example, I know many men who hold to complementarian practices and they treat their wives very well and wouldn’t think of lording over them.”

    JA, just some food for thought. Folks would say Piper “treats his wife well”. But we know his doctrine teaches lording it over if you strip away all the flowery verbosity. In fact, his teaching is so confusing as to make no real sense at all. Equal in essence but different (but are hierarchical) roles.

    I live in the same city as CBMW and can attest many of of the guys involved in that world “treat their wives well” and “don’t lord it over them” yet the doctrine they teach causes havoc for many. So, can we believe/teach wrong things but not practice them?

    It is a confusing thing when the results of the doctrine are not as obvious as say, Doug Phillips. It is still wrong or not?

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  65. @ tlc

    Pastors from those churches are still teaching marriage classes that tell couples to stay away from singles. Because a married man and a married woman would’t possibly have an affair, would they? I am so sick of being treated like a “contaminant”!!!

    I have example after example bookmarked of this very thing. Like this:

    ’48 Hours’ CBS Richard Schlesinger reports on ‘Death at the Parsonage’
    (When or if that link ever ceases to work, please go to an internet search engine and look up the names “Joseph Musante” and “Arthur Burton Schirmer”)

    It’s a married preacher who counseled wounded married women at church, had affairs with the women, and if I remember correctly, he led the husband of one of the wives to kill himself.

    I also have examples of stories from single women who say they are approached by married men for affairs, not the other way around. Sometimes married women hit on married guys, or married guys hit on married women.

    That there are so many married people cheating on their spouses with other married people makes me wonder why conservative Christians keep depicting singles as being the danger.

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  66. “I think your point is very valid. For example, I know many men who hold to complementarian practices and they treat their wives very well and wouldn’t think of lording over them.”

    I totally agree with the above – but I also want to point out that just because one’s theology is reformed does not automatically make someone complementarian, either. It was sounding like some of the above commenters were equating the two, and they are not, in fact, one and the same.

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  67. @Daisy:

    That there are so many married people cheating on their spouses with other married people makes me wonder why conservative Christians keep depicting singles as being the danger.

    Because singles are The Other — “Not-Us”.

    Not as much of an Other as Homosexuals(TM), but I’m sure there’s a Christianese connection between the two.

    “BLAME CANADA!
    BLAME CANADA!
    BEFORE ANYONE CAN THINK OF BLAMING US!”
    South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

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  68. @Lydia:

    Equal in essence but different (but are hierarchical) roles.

    Is “equal in essence but different (hierarchical) roles” anything like “separate but equal”?
    Separate but Equal???

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  69. Whenever I think of divorce I think of the Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas movie “The War of the Roses”. But I was planning on having fish for dinner but reading this changed my mind.

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  70. “Lydia – -It’s important to look at who is giving the message that the wife is being treated well. Who is saying it, the wife or the husband? ”

    Sorry JA, I did not explain myself well at all. I was in too much of a hurry and should have explained. I could care less what model folks adopt for their marriage. None of my business UNTIL they go out and start promoting it to others. Or teach it as the one true way.

    In my experience there are very few comp wives who would tell others if something is wrong. I spent many years organizing comp type conferences/seminars in megas and back stage was always interesting. That is why I hate the word “role” so much. They DO play roles. Often, the submissive demur comp wife on stage was General Patton backstage. Or, you had the doormat wife who was objectified. But then that was also how her and her comp husband made money or gained a following so playing the roles on stage was paramount. It was not the same for the women sitting in the audience whose husband is attracted to that doctrine because he is a control freak. So they go home and play their “roles” to be good little Christians. Looking to one another instead of Christ.

    I admit. I am jaded and cynical with this stuff.

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  71. HUG, Your pic pretty much sums up the end result of comp doctrine. If I ever figure out what my “essence” is that is equal, I will be sure to share it. :o)

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  72. Here’s a typical “all divorce is evil” article by the Gospel Coalition’s Russell Moore. It’s so sad that he doesn’t talk about the blessing of divorce for those of us who were in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS from chronically unfaithful spouses or being abandoned by someone who walked away from their responsibilities.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-should-pastors-address-divorce-and-remarriage

    If you attend a church with this attitude, please consider leaving and finding one that’s not got its head in the sand.

    —————-

    As the original blog post said, pastors need to know the facts and acknowledge them:
    Point #1. When teaching on divorce, mention that nearly 50% of divorces occur for very serious reasons. Not all divorce is frivolous, nor is all divorce a sin.

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  73. All married couples shun divorced people. Not just the people in church. The people in church are just a bit more pompous, arrogant and condescending about it. But that’s okay, the rest of us have come to expect those kinds of haughty attitudes from the churchy people! Besides, one day (for about half of them) their pomp and arrogance will come back to haunt them when THEY get THEIR divorce papers!

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  74. Insidious_Sid,

    It’s interesting to know that the South — The Bible Belt — has the highest divorce rate in the U.S.

    On the other hand, those who attend religious services weekly have only a 38% divorce rate. I was one of the 38%.

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  75. anonymous7, I have also been around Reformed Baptists/Presbys (with Quiverfull and Patriarchy leanings), and you are exactly right about their doctrinaire views on perpetual adultery. I broke ties with them when they condemned my father to hell over that (I had been considering breaking ties beforehand given all their OTHER legalistic tendencies, not to mention the NUMEROUS sex scandals and sexual hypocrisies involving some of their church leaders and other members). They refuse any other interpretations, and even when the practical absurdity of their views is made evident (for example, what if it’s been many years and the previous spouse cannot be relocated, etc.), it doesn’t matter – they are convinced their unforgiving, sickening doctrine is actually logical and Biblical, and make clever hermeneutic twists to defend it to the death. Trying to reason with them is like banging your head against the wall. They are the ultimate gnat strainers of our modern day.

    At times, I have wanted to make reconciliation with them because I knew some of them for quite awhile on the Internet, and there seemed to be some decent elements to their circles (devotion to study, etc.) — but the deeper cultic, dogmatic, hypocritical elements that became all too obvious the more you got into their circles, has made me all too wary of what may happen if I attempt to contact them again. I’m sorry you had to deal with their nonsense.

    Khendra Murdock

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  76. “On the other hand, those who attend religious services weekly have only a 38% divorce rate. I was one of the 38%.” – Anonymous 2

    The Complementarian/Patriarchy teaching denominations (like Southern Baptists) now have the highest divorce rate in the nation of any group, even atheists (Barna study).

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