Christian Marriage, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Russell Moore, Women and the Church

The Children of Divorce and Abuse in Marriage

Divorce:  Do children bear the sins of their parents’ divorce? Is it better to remain married even with abuse? What is the church teaching us about divorce and abuse by their silence on the subject?

I took a break from writing this article to go outside and noticed these two roses. It dawned on me that this is like an abusive marriage: one is thriving, the other is dying.


Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “In this role, he leads the organization in all its efforts to connect the agenda of the kingdom of Christ to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the gospel in the world.”  He previously served at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as Dean of the School of Theology, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration, and as Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics.  

ERLC, like SBTS, believes in complementarian marriages and strong “biblical” manhood and womanhood roles. They are very strong on family and marriage, so it makes sense that Moore would host Lore Ferguson’s article at his site, Divorce and the good of the children.

The article is clearly geared to children of divorced parents, but as I read it, I thought about divorce because of abuse. What about the children of a victimized spouse who decides to divorce?

There are two issues that I had with the article:

  • The first issue is Ferguson believes that children will shoulder their parents’ sin and carry that burden.  I, as an adult whose parents divorced, have never even thought of such a thing, so I’d like to touch on that.
  • The second issue is about abuse in marriage. If you read through this article trying to use the eyes of an abused wife, I don’t think she would be feeling she has an option to get divorced even though there is a small disclaimer posted below the post. The guilt and condemnation she would feel when reading this is troubling, especially when abused wives may already be in a weak emotional state. Abused moms would likely “put their children first” after reading this article and I am concerned that some may not feel the freedom to make the right step and LEAVE a dangerous situation (even with children).

Divorce is messy. It is ugly. It is painful. It is painful for both parents and children alike. Ferguson’s article looks at divorce from the children’s perspective. It is a harsh reality of divorce Ms. Ferguson portrays it well here:

Family traditions—seared.

Holidays together—severed.

Family portraits—always lacking.

Weddings—one parent always missing.

Yes, those are the very difficult aspects of divorce.

But what we often see from the Christian leaders about marriage/divorce is the generalizations about divorce. I don’t like divorce. I think it harms families. But in some cases of abuse, I believe it is Biblical to get divorced, and even necessary.  


The problem that I see is that the Church often idolizes the institution of marriage so much that it fails to mention those cases where it may be better for a couple to divorce than remain in an abusive marriage.


Do I believe that there are too many divorces?  Yes

Do I believe that people divorce for trivial reasons?  Yes

Do I believe that some people do not hold the covenant of marriage as something sacred?  Yes

Do I believe a husband and wife should remain together when there is abuse?  Each case is different, but sometimes the answer should clearly be NO.

One of the problems I’ve been noting – especially since reading about domestic violence at my friend, Jeff Crippen’s blog, A Cry for Justice, is that churches/pastors don’t want to touch the divorce word. They hardly want to acknowledge its existence.

If you are divorced, you are likely marginalized just as singles are often marginalized. They don’t want to let you know that it’s okay to divorce for adultery. Some lead you to believe that the Bible allows NO GROUNDS whatsoever for divorce:  Voddie Baucham and John Piper are in this camp. I’m not sure how they justify removing scripture from the Bible to say this and can rightfully call themselves Shepherds.

Many don’t believe that divorce is okay for abuse, they’d just rather not bring up the subject at all and keep people guessing. Many who do believe that divorce is okay for abuse situations, still fail to bring it up because of the stigma attached with that D word.  They certainly don’t want another family affected by that D word in their church under their watch.

Divorce is a dirty word and I’ve read many stories of pastors who would rather keep a spouse married in abuse telling the victim to submit, to pray, to suffer for righteousness sake, than have one in their congregation go through a difficult divorce.

Now, I do think it is appropriate to prevent divorce if at all possible and to do everything within one’s power to help make the marriage work, but when it comes to abuse within a marriage, we’re talking something entirely different.

This part got of the article got my dander up:


I have met few who would say their parents’ divorce was for the best—their mother was being abused or their father was a serial philanderer. Almost every person I have asked would say it wasn’t in the best interest of the child, and they know because they are that child.


Ok, I can understand an adult child saying their parents could have tried harder if the divorce was for “irreconcilable differences.”  But in abuse?  Would a child really say that it wasn’t in the best interest of the child to divorce even in abuse?

So, I would like to ask you, my astute readers- – if you were the child whose parents were in an abusive marriage, would you want your parents to remain married – – – while abusing?

My parents divorced and I did not know the full reasons until just last year.  But I do know this.  The following was not true for me:


Please think of that, parent, if you cannot see any way out of this difficulty but through divorce. Think of your child bearing the full weight of your spouse’s sin on their own shoulders—without you, by himself, by herself—because they will. For the rest of their lives they will bear the weight of what you decided you could not—and they cannot divorce themselves from it, hard as they try.


I did not carry the weight of my parents’ sin on my shoulders.  Yes, there were inconveniences with divorce. We had to figure out how to do the holidays, but thankfully, my parents actually were able to join together at holiday events, even after they each remarried, and so we did have enjoyable times as a family.  But none of us carried the weight of our parents’ sins on our shoulders. That was their issue. What about you?  I’d like to hear from some of you and your experiences.

Here’s more from the article:


For the good of the children, do not get divorced if you can help it. For the good of the children, bear on your body the mark of covenant, the suffering of your own flesh for your own flesh, the sacrificial example of a parent who stays. Bear the name you took or gave, bear it well. For the good of the children who will someday be mothers and fathers considering the weight of their own marriages.


For parents who are getting divorced for trivial reasons, yes, I agree with the above. But what message does this send to an abused wife?  It says stick it out. Make the sacrifice, bear your burdens, etc. It is says that staying is better than leaving, even if she has to suffer.  That is NOT right.

Here’s the small disclaimer at the bottom of the post:

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 7.08.38 AM

This is very confusing. In the middle of the article she claims that even in abuse, that divorce was not in the best interest of the child, yet she includes this disclaimer. Which one is it?

This is far too confusing for an abuse victim to make sense of. I can’t even make sense of it. No wonder so many victims remain in their abusive homes. They want to be obedient to what is being taught at church. They want to make the right choices for their children.

I’m waiting for some bold pastors to step up to the plate and strongly deal with abusers and actively help mothers and children who are affected by abuse. There is one pastor who says this, preaches this, and shouts it from the rooftop. Pastor Jeff Crippen has sharp words to abusers and is a fierce defender of those who are abused.  Boy, doesn’t that sound like Jesus – someone who defends the defenseless and hates abuse?

I sent a link of the article to Jeff this morning and shared my concerns and here was his response (that he gave me permission to share). I hope this will give abuse victims hope and encouragement if they are facing a very difficult and abusive marriage:


Exodus is good. It is a blessing from God.  God is the God of the exodus. Not only from Egypt, but from all evil. Jesus came to effect a new exodus of the new and true Israel, His church, from this world. In this sense, Jesus Christ is the Lord of divorce. He blesses it when it is an exodus from evil and bondage.  It is not some mere “sin” he forgives us of.  It is the same glorious event that He effected when Moses went to Pharaoh and said “Let My people go.”  ~Pastor Jeff Crippen, A Cry for Justice


166 thoughts on “The Children of Divorce and Abuse in Marriage”

  1. @ missdaisyflower:

    Some of the stuff in that Daily Beast article, if true, actually sounded like it could have the opposite effect from what Ramsey intended and land him in legal trouble, esp. the alleged “bounty” laid on online critics. You can’t offer a bounty to someone to shut down someone else’s free speech for you. I have serious doubts as to whether that’s legal. It’s funny because when I watched his videos, Ramsey seemed intelligent enough, so you’d think he’d be smart enough to tell when his behavior started bordering on the illegal.


  2. Hester, I agree with you on Ramsey. Now, I may be no lawyer, but the words “making terrorist threats” were running in my mind the whole time I was reading the linked article….
    And this is not to my credit in the least, but I always got bad vibes from him….I think it was that “trust in God, not in men” that I heard from my greatgrandmother as a child.


  3. Anonymous said: “I tell women who are in abuse marriages that their pastor doesn’t get a vote unless he takes their place for a year.”
    Amen!! That is so true. Let’s see how some self-righteous know-nothing likes it for a while. Wouldn’t last a week, is my guess.


  4. If a pastor told a woman to stay in an abusive marriage for supposedly “Scriptural” reasons by twisting Scripture, he is an abusive pastor and is also endangering other people and not a true pastor, not looking out for and shepherding God’s flock, or caring for God’s people.

    I have met pastors who would tell an abused spouse to leave. I can’t say how many there are who would or how many would do the opposite. Never conducted a survey.

    Pastor certainly does NOT get a vote if he is telling someone to stay in a dangerous situation. I would leave that church if my pastor told me to do that.

    Sadly an abused woman needs the support of her church and therefore would have lost that emotional support if she left because her pastor is an uncaring, or abusive pastor telling someone to stay in abuse.


  5. I left my husband after he told me to leave over and over because he would not go to counseling.

    He stalked me, broke down my door, kicked dents in my vehicle, closed our bank acct so I had no money, and harassed me constantly and broke the restraining order again and again until finally a witness came forward and he was arrested. Did no good cause his parents bailed him out.

    I still to this day am slandered about the church because I was divorced and remarried.

    I don’t think someone abused and gotten away from abuse ought to worry about others judging them.

    I consider Christians who would judge someone going through that not really worth fellowshipping with. And I don’t defend myself to them about it.


  6. Cathryn, the church has a long way to go in learning about abuse and how to deal with those who have been abused.

    I am sickened by what I hear from the pulpit. Some pastors treat abusive marriages exactly like they treat normal marriages which has ups and downs. They are completely different. And I’m very tired of hearing pastors say that a woman plays a part in an abusive marriage and saying it in a negative way. Yea, her “part” is survival, whether that means physical, emotional, or spiritual.


  7. Julie Anne,
    Many pastors spend a lot of time reading the writings of a man who said the following to the people in his church:

    “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” [ 1 Corinthians 4:21]

    In most Evangelical churches, this verse is preached as “the Word of God” from the pulpit, and the life of the man who said this is considered a “model of maturity and an example to follow.”


  8. It’s entirely proper for Paul to deploy the whip, when it’s called for with the i9mpenitent who are degrading people and corrupting the church like some of the “pastors” we are reading about here. Paul wasn’t the only one either: Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead in front of Peter when that was called for.

    If you want to grumble about harsh discipline to certain kinds of evildoers in the church, inflicted not by fleshly tools like the civil authorities but by the power of God, then you need to stop grumbling about the wicked that are continually complained of here getting away with it. How is your beef with Paul’s imposition of church discipline any different from the attitude of church leaders who resent these people being turned over to be prosecuted by the civil authorities?


  9. It’s just like Matthew to change the subject to Paul again, but leave out the fact that Jesus used a whip, in His righteous anger. But once again, MP throws the whole thread off topic, as he has others. But people keep feeding the problem. I tried to warn you all.


  10. “I consider Christians who would judge someone going through that not really worth fellowshipping with. And I don’t defend myself to them about it.”

    you go, girl! It would be a waste of breath and degrading to try to defend yourself to them. Not worth the effort.


  11. We ought not be surprised a pastor would allow such abuses to occur when there probably are pastors abusing their own wives, as we know there have been pastors caught abusing children.


  12. Glad to know Marsha. This was happening at CC Abuse website as well. Alex caught on. But Alex is gracious and not moderating anyone’s comments off. Not my website, just here to warn.


  13. Julie Anne
    I understand this particular thread to be “THE CHILDREN of Divorce and Abuse in Marriage.”.

    Not “Divorce and Abuse in Marriage.”

    Is that correct? If so, then I am in the right place. I am a child of divorce. My parents were married and divorced twice.

    I am thankful for the two “OFF TOPIC” posts yesterday by my sister Cathryn. because even though they are off topic, they illustrate a very common problem for Children of Divorce such as myself. Namely, that the parents who get divorced, perhaps especially the mother, are so consumed and overwhelmed by their own pain and hurt that they completely forget about the pain and hurt of the CHILDREN. Their cries of pain drown out the Children. If you look at the pronouns in Cathryn’s posts, you will see it’s all about “I, me my.” There is nothing at all about the Children, and so it is off-topic. But again, still relevant and helpful in this case to the discussion. I hope for healing for Cathryn – and ALSO for her children.


  14. Matthew – Cathryn was discussing pastoral response to abuse which was a key part of my article. In order for her to share part of her story, of course she has to use personal pronouns. What’s the beef?

    Not only that, if there is no hope in an abusive marriage situation, taking care of herself and her children by leaving is a way in which she could better give to her kids. How can one give from a broken and empty vessel?


  15. Julie Anne,
    No beef, no disagreement here. Just an observation that Cathryn didn’t mention the children a single time, and her thought pattern seems to reflect a general tendency that I have observed in my own experience as the child of divorce.

    Have you also observed this kind of tendency, for the mother in particular to feel so overwhelmed that she can’t really think much about the feelings of the children? That is what my mother told me years after their divorce about her feelings.


  16. I haven’t seen that. I have seen mothers who believe the lie that their children will be ruined; drug dealers, meth addicts, prostitutes, or Fox News anchors if they divorce. The abuse survivors I know are very concerned for their children and do everything in their power to protect them.

    And as a child of divorce, I do wish that my mother had figured out what a despot my father was and gotten herself some peace.

    Hmm, I am just now thinking about Patrick Stewart whose father was an abuser, and how is is a very vocal victims’ advocate. He was a child who wanted to see his mother protected. Surely Charles Xavier’s opinion counts for something.


  17. I haven’t seen that. I have seen mothers who believe the lie that their children will be ruined; drug dealers, meth addicts, prostitutes, or Fox News anchors if they divorce. The abuse survivors I know are very concerned for their children and do everything in their power to protect them.

    And as a child of divorce, I do wish that my mother had figured out what a despot my father was and gotten herself some peace.

    Hmm, I am just now thinking about Patrick Stewart whose father was an abuser, and who is a very vocal victims’ advocate. He was a child who wanted to see his mother protected. Surely Charles Xavier’s opinion counts for something.


  18. Cathryn said: “We ought not be surprised a pastor would allow such abuses to occur when there probably are pastors abusing their own wives, as we know there have been pastors caught abusing children”.
    Yes, and not just “probably”;there certainly are. When my church had a speaker from the local women’s shelter , one of the most heartbreaking stories she told was about the fact that she & her staff have to be prepared every Sunday afternoon/evening, because the wife & children of one of the pastors hereabouts will be coming in–again!!, & they need to find a new place to hide them. Once he finishes the sermon on Sunday, he goes home & starts beating them. All of them……They have to stay hidden until late Tuesday or early Wednesday for him to calm down enough that they aren’t afraid for their lives.


  19. Matthew said: “Have you also observed this kind of tendency, for the mother in particular to feel so overwhelmed that she can’t really think much about the feelings of the children? That is what my mother told me years after their divorce about her feelings”.
    No, Matthew, I’ve never seen that. Not once. I’m sorry you feel that your mother was inadequate to the task of protecting you; that is very sad.


  20. zooey111
    I shared “what my mother told me years after their divorce about her feelings.”
    Not what I felt about my mother. But it is sad she felt that way.


  21. Dear Cathryn,
    I want to thank you for sharing some of your painful experience here, it has been valuable for me and others too I am sure.

    If you felt comfortable, I was wondering if you had time to share some of your reflections about the effects of your divorce on the children of divorce, (such as myself.)

    Since I have been married only once, never divorced, never abusive, never unfaithful to my wife, and we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this year, your experience of your own divorce is a bit distant from me. But your insights about the effects of your divorce on your children are something that I could relate to better, and might be helpful for myself and other children of divorce.

    The headlines of this thread are
    “The Children of Divorce and Abuse in Marriage
    Divorce: Do children bear the sins of their parents’ divorce?”

    So this seems like the appropriate place for such discussion.
    (Julie Anne, please let me know if there is some more appropriate place for a child of divorce such as myself.)
    Blessings to you and your family


  22. As I told everyone, I used to counsel families involved with substance abuse and domestic violence.

    As I stated, in my first comment (which Matthew may have missed in his accusation I care more about my feelings than my childrens’) children of an abusive marriage are more likely to marry an abuser or grow up to be an abusive spouse. So leaving is recommended by experts, law officials, etc in order to protect the children and break the chain of abuse. A child of divorce can also be so consumed by their own feelings they might miss the fact that their parent was protecting them by leaving the abuser. My own oldest daughter blocked out memories of many of the abusive things her father did in order to feel good about her father. I chalk that up to her love for him, not any unloving feelings toward me.

    But if you really must know my kids were messed up because of divorce too. And I don’t minimize that because I was a child of an abusive marriage and divorce and have been through that pain myself. Nor would I recommend divorce to anyone not in an abusive marriage or endangered in such a way. And if you really must know I apologized to my kids for the part I played in their pain over the divorce, contrary to the false accusation on this thread that I may never have noticed their pain.

    Who on this thread would suggest a woman stay in an abusive marriage. Many women end up dead because their pastors or others offer them such ill advise.

    I find it interesting how when someone is abused, victimized, someone else finds a way to blame the victim rather than the abuser.


  23. My story about growing up without a father, because my father was abusive, and a heroine addict.

    How is that for a reaction to the topic Matthew?

    I did not realize how negatively my father’s absence impacted me until I was an adult because i didn’t equate my pain and misery with my father’s absence. But it was there nonetheless.

    When, as an adult I re-united with my father, finding out he became a Christian; we both concluded it was a good thing he was not in my life growing up. For God protected me from many terrible things because my mother divorced him while he was in prison. She later remarried and my step father adopted me when my father signed away his parental rights. My father later became a Christian after he was arrested again later for bank robbery.

    I don’t think my mother was completely oblivious to my pain or that of my siblings. I think she was so miserable herself she couldn’t notice anyone else’s misery over her divorce or at least she could not talk about it with us 4 children. And frankly, what would have been the alternative to the divorce? As my father said after his conversion to Christianity, “Heroine and families don’t mix.”


  24. I guess what I’m saying is, that even if a parent is not talking about it with their children, it does not mean they don’t see their child’s pain over the divorce at all. They may just not be ready to discuss it or know how to handle it. The parents might be hoping it will just get better over time, or maybe the parents figure they’ll be more prepared to deal with it later. Or maybe the child hides their pain or doesn’t know how to talk about it but just acts out.

    For example my second daughter started acting out by lying and stealing for a period of time after the separation. That was not something I was expecting to deal with because I did not habitually lie or steal as a child.

    But both my oldest kids became productive, well adjusted, working, functioning adults who are willing to marry. Neither of them flunked out of college or life.

    How did it impact them spiritually? Not as badly as abusive pastors and churches did. But I still would never minimize who damaging it was for them or for me as a child of divorce. The question I suppose is, which is more damaging? Danger of abuse or a divorce.


  25. Dear Cathryn,
    Thank you for taking time to respond and share more of your experience. It seems like it’s less relevant to me and my personal experience that it would be to some other people reading this, but that is fine. We can only share what we have, and none of us can be everything to everybody. The Body of Christ has many different parts.

    From what you are writing, I personally seem to be picking up that you have a lot of anger against some men because of your own experience or the experiences of other women you have been around. You seem to be directing that anger against me, for things that I didn’t do, either to you or to anyone else. Just my perception.

    I don’t believe that I “falsely accused” you, but rather I made an observation of fact about two substantial posts that I saw. I don’t have complete information, I don’t know you, I’m quite new to this blog and I have not read too much of it yet, and I may have missed some things or misunderstood some things. I was not intending to “accuse” you, but rather to make observations for mutual learning, positive change, healing, and growth to become more like Jesus was.

    Anyway, thanks again, and be blessed in the name of Jesus.


  26. Matthew,

    I think one of your original responses here to Cathryn was not edifying whatsoever and in fact felt like a cheap shot. Now you seem to be doing it again by your “anger against men” accusation.

    We don’t victim blame here. You called her out for straying from the original topic, yet you’ve hijacked the Bob Coy thread with your Paul opinions.

    Please be careful. The cloaking of your words in ChristianeseTalk does not lesson the sting of your words and that is exactly what spiritual abusers do.


  27. “From what you are writing, I personally seem to be picking up that you have a lot of anger against some men because of your own experience or the experiences of other women you have been around.” That’s comes across to me as a really insulting comment. FWIW, nothing Cathryn has said has come across to me as projecting any kind of anger at men generally. Cathryn, you are extremely gracious.


  28. By the way, Cathryn and I were writing online at the same time, and sort of crossed over each other, so the comments are not in the correct order.

    What I wrote at 2:09 PM was a response to what Cathryn wrote at 1:18 PM.

    Yet while I was still in process of writing, Cathryn wrote two more posts that I didn’t see yet, at 1:47 PM and 1:59 PM. I agree that those two further posts do NOT “come across to me as projecting any kind of anger at men generally”


  29. Matthew,

    Even if you sense there is anger towards men (I do not) in Cathryn’s comments, it is hardly helpful or pertinent to the conversation.

    The timing of responding to comments while someone else is doing the same frequently happens as Gary W just attested to. It is just the nature of busy blogs and we have to cut each other a bit of slack. No biggie.


  30. “How did it impact them spiritually? Not as badly as abusive pastors and churches did. ”

    Bingo. That aspect has more damage in just about every area of life.


  31. Matthew, here’s how we’ve been working with the kids in my house so that they can learn to apologize effectively:

    So here, you would acknowledge what you did wrong, say it was wrong without minimizing your actions or blaming the other party, then state the proper way to handle it in the future and that you’ll do it that way.from now on. No “quotes.” No “but she.” Just make it right.

    That’s how we teach the kids so that they don’t turn into abusers and so that they recognize false repentance and they avoid marrying abusers.


  32. Matthew may have been sensing that I am kind of annoyed with the fact he said some things on another blog that I thought were not very nice and then when confronted did not apologize.

    I apologize to everyone for dragging this blog into that other issue. But no, Matthew, I do not hate men or resent them. In fact growing up I always got along with boys better than girls and my brother was my best friend, as is my husband currently. My father and I, as I stated previously, reunited later in life, despite the divorce.

    Matthew, I apologize if I came off as resentful. I don’t want anyone to have hard feelings or diss anyone. But I just did not want things to be thrown off topic on any site and then as a result accidentally threw things off topic.


  33. This is an excellent topic. We should not minimize how hurtful divorce is to the children, as it was to Matthew, just because the parents are hurt.

    When I spoke about the chain of abuse being broken by the victims or potential victims leaving, I forgot to mention that fact that sometimes this won’t happen. Sometimes the victims stay too long before they leave and then the victims are scarred by the abuse and will continue the chain, as was what happened with my family. My sister and I both became involved with violent men, sadly.

    Also, it does not have to end in divorce because the victims left. There is the option of a legal separation, rather than divorce. I’m sure we can all agree on that being a viable option.


  34. Dear Cathryn,
    You wrote: “My sister and I both became involved with violent men, sadly.”

    I have heard that in many cases, women who had abusive fathers wound up being attracted to abusive men, and I’ve wondered why that is.

    A thought just came to me, which I wanted to bounce off you.
    I think that on a deep emotional, social, and interpersonal level, people (perhaps particularly women) tend to be attracted to something that is “familiar.” Even if they may know intellectually that it isn’t “good”, it’s what they are used to, and it “feels like home.” This familiarity brings a sense of “security” especially for women.

    If a father is abusive, the daughter is familiar with his language, choice of words, way of saying things, behavior patterns, and this is her unconscious image of what a man is supposed to be. This seems “normal” to her, since she grew up with it.

    In the same way with an abusive church like Bob Coy’s Calvary Chapel, he is abusive, but the people are familiar with his language, choice of words, way of saying things, behavior patterns, and this is their unconscious image of what a PASTOR is supposed to be, so it seems “normal” to them.

    That is why you can find some women online gushing about great Bob Coy or some other “favorite pastor” is, and blindly defending him, without ever facing the truth about his abusive behavior. He is familiar. They think they “have a relationship” with him because they listen to his teaching, see him in the distance in the pulpit, watch him on TV, hear him on the radio, read his mass spam e-mails, or read his books. They have never spoken with him in their lives, they don’t know where he lives, they have never seen his personal helicopter or cars or second home or other expensive toys. He doesn’t know they exist, although his accountants are happy to take their money. But they feel “secure” because they are “under his teaching” and they “have a relationship” with him.

    One time years ago I happened to see the tail end of a TV show. I barely knew who Greg Laurie was at the time. But it seemed like it was “his show” and this was the last one – it was going off the air. He looked at the camera and said, QUOTE: “Let’s continue the relationship.” Years later at another Calvary Chapel, I heard another pastor expound at some length the same false teaching about himself from the pulpit in his church – that if people hear him preach, that means they “have a relationship” with him.

    In todays electronic age, this kind of thinking also extends to other “Christian Celebrities” beyond the walls of a 20,000 person “mega-church” with 10 campuses but no actual members. ( I believe this is using the term “church” very loosly by the way.)

    I remember having a man from a local Calvary Chapel over to my home for dinner one time. He was a peer about my age, a mature married man, actively involved in ministry and church for years, and I’m sure he was saved. He told me: “I’ve been listening to Chuck Smith’s teachings for an hour every day for years, and I agree with everything he says.” So he’s familiar with the voice of Chuck Smith, his language, choice of words, way of saying things, and he doesn’t ever want to even think about “being rebellious” and daring to question “God’s anointed.” Sure Chuck Smith isn’t perfect – but why ask about where he’s wrong? It’s “not profitable.” Just believe this man’s teachings, don’t discuss them, follow, give money, volunteer, and don’t ask questions….

    Others may have their favorite Christian author whom they believe can never be questioned, because they are so familiar with his language, choice of words, or way of saying things.

    I think the solution is to listen to the voice of Jesus first, not the voices of other men, so that we are familiar with Jesus’ language, choice of words, way of saying things, and behavior patterns.
    What do you think, Cathryn?


  35. Matthew,

    You keep saying things like:

    “I was hesitant to look at this thread, thinking that it would be “nothing but a bunch of emotional angry women venting about their feelings and experience,” and

    “I personally seem to be picking up that you [Cathryn] have a lot of anger against some men,” and now

    “I think that on a deep emotional, social, and interpersonal level, people (perhaps particularly women) . . .”

    I have a question or two, and please understand that, for now at least, I am not intending to be critical or condemning. First, do you see how these kinds of statements can be hurtful? Second, can you see how some would begin to think you are a misogynist?

    If you answer either or both of these questions “no,” I suspect something may be going on that is deeper than what is apparent on the surface. You seem not to see how you come across to people, sometimes in hurtful ways. I would even say you may be unaware that you are crossing interpersonal boundaries that ought not to be crossed without permission. Your questions have gotten really, really personal. The fact that you have an issue you pursue obsessively may be another clue. If my observations ring any kind of a bell whatever with you (or even if they don’t), you might wish to stop participating in blogs until you have counseled with somebody who knows something about this sort of thing. It would benefit both you and those you sometimes hurt, or risk hurting, however unintentionally.


  36. I believe it is human nature, not necessarily male or famale, to gravitate toward the familiar, and this sometimes can be an abusive situation (marriage, church, etc) if we were abused.


  37. @ Matthew said
    I have heard that in many cases, women who had abusive fathers wound up being attracted to abusive men, and I’ve wondered why that is.

    There have been entire books explaining why.

    You might want to read books such as

    Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft,

    The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused — and Start Standing Up for Yourself by B. Engel

    The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Braiker

    While some of those books are primarily about codependency (one book says it is not, but it really is), they offer case studies of patients where the psychiatrist who wrote the book illustrates how and why their female patients ended up with abusers.

    One reason of several why women end up dating or marrying abusive men:

    Women who are taught by churches they are to be submissive, that being “submissive” is womanly, feminine and God’s role for them – *which means being codependent, not making their own decisions in life, taught to put up with garbage treatment by other people) – often attract abusive males.

    Women who are doormats, who will not stand up for themselves and be assertive (which most women are taught from girl hood by churches, preachers, and conditioned to be that way by secular society) are like honey to bears (cat nip to abusers, narcissists, and con artists).

    Low self esteem, having, in childhood, been abused or neglected by one or both parents, can be another reason some women date or marry abusive men.

    One or two books I have also discuss this from the male perspective: sometimes males, due to abuse in childhood, also grow up to be codependent, just like their female counterparts.

    You can read one such example here:
    Anxious and Overprotective Parents by Paul Couglin
    (scroll down and start reading that page at the portion that begins,

    “Encountering abuse is the final difficult experience that sifts girls and leaves them vulnerable to becoming Christian Nice Girls as adults.”

    And especially the part that starts,
    “But it’s the verbal and emotional abuse that lingered long after my [Paul’s] physical wounds healed.”)


  38. Yes, and let’s not forget men can be the abused victim in a marriage as well, though it is usually not as often as women being victimized, because men are generally physically stronger than women. I think the fact that men are abused in marriages is often overlooked and in a way almost denied by society, basically ignored, sadly.


  39. Cathryn, ( & missdaisyflower)
    Thanks for sharing your perspective, as an individual and as a woman. I agree with you that men are also sometimes victimized in marriage, but it is often overlooked. Yet, I believe one reason for this is, usually it is not physical abuse that men suffer at the hands of some women, do it’s less obvious on the surface.

    As a woman, you wrote:
    “I believe it is human nature, not necessarily male or famale, to gravitate toward the familiar, and this sometimes can be an abusive situation (marriage, church, etc) if we were abused.”

    Well, as a man, I don’t necessarily agree with that. It seems to me that woman TEND to have a greater need for security in the familiar, even if it’s abusive. Perhaps that tendency is reflected in the volume of books missdaisyflower listed. I’m not talking absolutes here but tendencies. God did create us male and female. We are different, not just physically, and that is good. Not inferior/superior, but different.

    In my case, rather than marrying a woman who was abusive, exploitive, manipulative, divisive, and dishonest like my mother, immediately after college I escaped, moved alone to the other side of the country, and eventually found a wife whose personality was pretty much the opposite of my abusive mother.

    Of course, none of my family growing up knew Jesus. God introduced me to my (Christian) wife a few months after I personally came to know Jesus, and that makes all the difference in the world.

    Thank you for sharing such a list of your resources. It seems to be sort of a hot-button issue for you perhaps? If so, I was wondering what you personally thought of my ideas in my post above – you don’t even have to buy the book, and it’s very short.


  40. @ Matt P
    1. “Well, as a man, I don’t necessarily agree with that. It seems to me that woman TEND to have a greater need for security in the familiar, even if it’s abusive.”

    You are there responding to a woman, yet you say, “as a man….” You ask for female perspective why many females tend to do X, and when a female gives you that input, you totally negate it and even say, “as a man, I…” Why bother asking for female input if you insist on bashing it from your own male view?

    Matt P said,
    2. “It seems to be sort of a hot-button issue for you perhaps?”

    No, it’s not a hot button topic for me.

    Why do you continue to assume that the women to whom you are conversing in this thread or others at this blog are being emotional?

    You are coming across as rather pompous, sexist, and presumptuous and intentionally obtuse. Perhaps you are trolling.


  41. Matthew, please re-read Gary’s last response to you.

    You seem to have a problem with women, as if we are so different from men as to be hard to understand or so emotional that men would want to avoid reading our posts. Yet gender does not seem to be impeding communication between women and other male posters on this site.

    Does this personal comment bother you? Well, I am very bothered by the personal comments you have directed at Cathryn and Daisy, as if the goal of communication here was to use others necessarily limited words here to gain some kind of psychological insight into their ‘issues’, issues I might add that nobody else is seeing. You need to stop this.


  42. I suggest everyone look at Alex’s blog again on the latest pages. Things have been coming to a head with Matthew as he just accused some of the women of being stalkers.

    I wanted to be sympathetic and believe he did not see how objectionable his comments toward others have become, and that if we confronted him lovingly, as Christ says to do when we have an issue with a brother, and as Gary had just done, that Matthew would see.

    I’m not sure what the problem is because on the one hand Matthew shares his life with us, as though he wants fellowship, and then on the other hand he sabatages it, as though he doesn’t. It is hard not to feel sorry for him and believe he isn’t doing it intentionally. But then he says these not so nice things as though he’s doing it intentionally. Almost as though he is trying to sabatage the sites about CC.

    Also, if he is indeed being gang stalked or group mobbed it would explain why Matthew would be paranoid and think someone is a stalker. Read up on what gang stalking is. It has nothing to do with street gangs like the cryps and bloods. It has to do with people networking to destroy a particular person. It happened to me and some friends of mine. It can make someone paranoid. Which is one of the reasons I am kind of sympathetic to Matthew’s issues.

    I am also sympathetic because I was attacked on the internet and did not wish to gang up on Matthew. It is not good to experience such a thing. Just my opinion.


  43. “God did create us male and female. We are different, not just physically, and that is good. Not inferior/superior, but different.”

    How are we different –besides physically? This seems to be mentioned by so many people in sermons, blog convos, books– for so many years it is considered conventional wisdom. It isn’t.

    How do we know the differences (emotional, intellectual, etc) are not cultural? Societal? Traditional?

    There was an interesting study years back about London Taxi drivers and their brain scans that really caused me to ask some hard questions before I took the above as conventional wisdom.

    Many of the “differences” have been chosen for us by society or our culture.


  44. Matthew,

    I think of blogs like a person’s cyber-living room. Those of us who comment on them are like visitors who are invited into this cyberhome to have a discussion. On blogs like this, those people have had been through difficult experiences, and we get together to support one another as we find meaning in what we’ve endured. We also look to these trusted others to find solutions to the problems that we’ve encountered through the experiences we’ve shared.

    But when we are in someone else’s living room at a small gathering, we tend to be polite. We don’t say to our host, “You have a picture of a desert scene on the wall. Does that mean you have issues with lakes and oceans?” If a fellow guest wears a blue dress, we don’t ask them what it is that they hate about trousers, nor do we start an argument with them about the problems that they have with the color red and their alleged rejection of people who wear yellow.

    I don’t know if your angst here has to do with Calvary Chapel or not, but you have gone from thread to thread on this blog, just like you’ve been mingling at a gathering of people in someone else’s living room. As one of those guests, I think that you’ve heard from everyone at this point that your behavior has been rude and inappropriate. Here’s a friendly suggestion. It might be time for you to go home. We’ve all heard from you on subjects from soup to nuts, and this gathering doesn’t sound like it’s the right fit for you. People have been polite and direct with you, but you’re not being very polite with us. And that’s okay, but it’s getting old.


  45. Cathryn,

    Thanks for letting me know. I’m going to check out CCA and ask Alex about this.
    My responsibility here is to make sure this is a safe place. We’ve already dealt with 2 issues:

    1) initiating the Paul debate here, and also bringing it over to other threads which disrupts the current article and conversation, making it awkward for people to jump back in with the real issues

    2) I did not care for the way he dealt with you and ladies in general here.

    These 2 issues have been addressed not only by me, but by others. He has said nothing about stalking here and I haven’t seen any sign of it. That seems to be an issue somewhere else.

    The SSB doghouse has had its spring cleaning and is ready and available to house the next offender. I’m watching.


  46. I didn’t need to talk to Alex. I read comments. He claims he was stalked, yet he’s making wild accusations to long-time CCA readers there. No, we don’t need that kind of drama coming over here and there’s already been enough. Into the doghouse he goes:



  47. Julie Anne, I hope I didn’t cause any trouble. I normally try to behave on people’s blogs, and if I disagree with them, I try to stay polite or civil about it.

    Ironically, I was not angry in my first reply to Matthew P. It was his suggestion in his reply to my post that I am too emotional on the topics under discussion that struck me the wrong way. I was dispassionate in my first post, it was his reply to my dispassionate post that antagonized me.

    I apologize if I was too rude to the guy, or created trouble for you and the blog.

    BTW, even if I did find this to be a “hot button topic” I don’t see the relevancy of that. It shouldn’t matter if someone does get worked up on an issue.

    It only rankles me because some men in our culture will automatically dismiss anything and everything a woman has to say, by claiming she’s not being rational and is being too emotional – a tactic used by some men, which I find condescending and sexist. Maybe Matt P was not doing that, but that was how I read his posts to myself and others.


  48. Daisy, I typically like to keep blogs separate and have a clean slate with each person who comments, but I’m very familiar with CCA as I helped Alex out when things were heightened with his court case. I know some of the regulars there and saw the interactions with my own eyes. It was a similar to what we experienced here. And once again, it was directed to women. That’s not cool. It compromised the safe environment we try to keep here. Thanks!


  49. A lot of different topics encompassed in this discussion: “Christian” vs. secular counseling, whether abuse justifies divorce, and whether children are better off in an abusive home.

    The issue that strikes me is the common mantra, “Do not get divorced for the sake of the children…” Remaining “for the sake of the covenant,” where abuse is present defends only the office of marriage while neglecting the sanctity of it. The covenant that has been habitually broken, a relationship that wholly contradicts God’s intent for marriage is treacherous and hypocritical and makes a mockery of marriage.

    Would those in authority defend child abuse? Sexual abuse? The contemporary church has an appalling record of diminishing the impact of emotional and verbal abuse. Is there such a thing as “lesser evil” when it comes to abuse? God forbid. Those who would say so have never lived it.

    So what about the children? Perhaps your readers will consider my blog piece on that very subject from the perspective of an abuse survivor:

    I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Cindy, your comment is excellent. There is such an unhealthy stigma to divorce. I get it that there are people who will divorce at the drop of the hat, but when we are talking about abuse, infidelity, there should be no stigma whatsoever. Why a pastor would rather have a couple remain married with abuse going on is beyond me. It’s like the stigma of having someone divorced in the church body is worse than abuse? Really? Pastors will have to answer to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. I know it’s an old post, but here goes.

    I am the child of an abusive marriage. I am also soon to be the child of divorce. The author of the divorce and children article evidently doesn’t know what it’s like to have a gaslighting father. You know what my reaction was when Mom told us she was ending it?


    I wanted to scream it from the rooftops. I told my (Christian) friends as soon as it was “safe” (after she had told him about it), expecting them to be elated, delighted, supportive, to tell me, hey, we’re so glad you’re finally going to be human! I got something entirely different.

    Most of them went, oh. I’m so sorry for you, that you have to go through that. So I tried to explain. No really, I love it! I can’t wait! I’m already celebrating! This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life!!

    A few tried to understand, but most of them didn’t even try. They just went right on expressing their condescending pity. Even my “liberal” and “unusual” friends don’t understand how it could be such a relief to get AWAY from one’s “dad.”

    So much for “Laugh with those who laugh.”

    I do not love my “father.” I do not respect him or pity him. I will not spend time with him, ask for his help, or give him anything in return for all the years he “loved” me. I no longer believe he is saved, despite all the “biblical” nonsense he uses.

    I haven’t read the comments, but I will say: anyone who has had an abusive parent will get it. It is so incredibly empowering to say “I do not love you.” So I decided to comment, even though this is an old post. The author of the divorce and children article should have asked the children how they felt before telling everyone else.


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