ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Biblical Counseling, Christian Marriage, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence and Churches, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Misuse of Scripture, Spiritual Abuse, Women and the Church

A Challenge to Abused Christian Women Regarding Teachings on Divorce

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Divorce, domestic violence, church teachings on Biblical divorce, David Instone-Brewer, abuse, Patriarchy, submission

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For years and years, I was taught that the only reasons Christians could get divorced were for adultery, abandonment, and if an unbelieving spouse wanted a divorce. I believed this wholeheartedly. Sadly, I looked down on people who divorced outside of these rules. I even looked down on those who divorced when there was adultery after hearing stories of couples whose marriages survived after affairs. The Christian world around me was very judgmental on this topic and I shamefully adopted these attitudes.

About a dozen years ago, I had a friend who called me on the telephone and said she was going to make an appointment with her attorney to file for divorce. No!!!  She couldn’t!! I knew about her husband’s long history with pornography. I knew of the affairs. I was convinced that with proper Biblical counseling, they could make their marriage work. I convinced her to call our pastor for one last attempt to save their marriage. She did. She set up an appointment and asked me to go with her. I agreed to go.

Our pastor met with my friend and her husband, along with me and a friend of her husband’s.  Her husband’s friend would be his accountability partner, and I would support my friend.  We had a plan. I was going to do my best to encourage and support her. The other friend was going to hold her husband accountable (whatever that means). And we would meet with the pastor again later.

To make a long story short, some 5 yrs later, they did finally divorce and both remain single to this day. Their adult children have adjusted and picked up the pieces of their shattered family. This was very messy. But it was the right decision. My friend is no longer tormented by lies, emotional abuse, betrayal. She was always so depressed in her demeanor, now she has new life. Her eyes show life. I regret my involvement in trying to keep her destructive marriage together. I prolonged the misery she had already suffered for 20 years.

Fast forward another few years AB (after blog), I started reading personal stories and talking with wives who have suffered greatly in abusive marriages. It compelled me to question what I had learned from pastors and teachers about divorce when abuse was involved:

  • How could God abandon an innocent wife and force her to pay the consequences if she divorced because of abuse?
  • Was it really God’s plan that abusive husbands should stay married, no matter what, with their wives?
  • Was it really God’s plan for pastors to believe husbands who claimed their wives were being unsubmissive before wives who had been harmed by their husbands?
  • Why were so many women not believed by church leaders?
  • Was it really true that if abused wives divorced their husbands, the husbands were free to remarry, but the wives were not?
  • Why did the church seem to default to defend the abusive husband, rather than support the oppressed wife and her children financially, emotionally, and physically?
  • Why were wives being put in church discipline or excommunicated when they initiated divorce because of abuse in a marriage?

One thing I’ve noticed since blogging is that 100% of the women I have spoken with who have been abused by their husbands believe in a doctrine wherein husbands are in a hierarchical position over their wives. I believe this doctrinal teaching enables abuse because church leaders have been preaching verses that make men not trust women to further underscore this belief. Here’s a key one:

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

Regardless of how the above verse is interpreted, surely it does not condone abuse to wives, yet we have an ongoing  problem of domestic violence within the church. There are many Christian women who remain in abusive marriages because of the teaching, “God hates divorce.” Yes, He hates divorce, but He allowed divorce as a way out of a destructive marriage.

Those who abuse their spouses have already divorced their spouses in their hearts by their actions and words.

God divorced Israel because of Israel’s hardened heart. Doesn’t it make sense that an abusive spouse has a hardened heart? Those who abuse their spouses have already divorced their spouses in their hearts by their actions and words. The actual divorce is simply a piece of paper.

If God is a merciful and just God whose concern is for the defenseless and oppressed, it makes absolutely no sense that He would expect abused wives to remain with their abusive husbands. That would make God out to be an abuser who cares more about law/rules than His own people. That’s not the God I know.

Over at A Cry for Justice blog, Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts highly recommend the scholarly works of David Instone-Brewer on the topic of divorce. Mr. Instone-Brewer is a senior researcher at Tyndale House. He has a video series in which he describes divorce, the original Hebrew meanings of important words, culture of the time, etc. Or, if you you only have time for a condensed version, check out the short 6-minute video below. If you come from the same teaching as me, I think it will be an eye-opener for you.

If there is one thing I think the church can and must do better, it is to give hope to domestic violence victims. We need to let them know that they do not need to live in bondage of wrongly interpreted scripture that punishes them, instead of their abusive spouses.

Understanding the original meaning and context of key verses can set women (and their children) free if they decide to divorce. Let’s be clear. I don’t think God likes divorce and neither do I. We’re not talking about normal marriages in which there is normal conflict, but marriages in which a husband is abusing and has a hardened heart and refuses to seek help or change. We need to come alongside these women and support them because I believe the majority of evangelical Christianity is still holding on to teachings that punish women, not their abusive husbands. I’m sick and tired of hearing from women who have been abandoned by not only church leaders, but by congregants. We can do better, and we must.

 

184 thoughts on “A Challenge to Abused Christian Women Regarding Teachings on Divorce”

  1. I was just pointing out at the W-W blog that when Christians keep promoting these horrible and sexist ideas about marriage – that a woman must tolerate being abused or cheated on repeatedly – they are not making marriage look appealing to singles.

    Part of me hopes to marry some day, but, at the same time, I see all the awful things Christian wives are expected to endure by churches and preachers, and I feel glad I did not marry.

    And, the more I see how terribly the church treats abused Christian women and expects them to stay with an abusive Christian husband, while using twisted interpretations of the Bible for justification, I have already said “good-bye” to the Be Equally Yoked teaching, where Christians tell Christians they must only marry other Christians.

    I can’t say as though I consider myself fully Christian, so that may be moot for me. I have doubts about the Christian faith, but I was brought up quite to believe in “Equally Yoked” quite strongly. Now that I see that churches demand that women stay married to an abusive Christian guy no matter what, I am more than happy to open my dating options to consider atheists and other NonChristians.

    See, Christians are really shooting themselves in the foot on stuff like this. The ones who worry and fret over a declining marriage rate among Christians are promoting some of the very nonsense that is making singles hesitant to marry.

    There is also a gender imbalance going on, with there being more single ladies than single men among conservative religious groups, and factors like that are at play.

    But I would definitely say that Christians, with their sexist and draconian marriage policies (and forbidding divorce, or shaming the stuffing out of folks who do divorce), make even marriage-minded singles like me reluctant to marry another Christian.

    It looks like I’m avoiding a steaming pile of doo by NOT marrying a Christian guy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’t been a while since I posted here. Hi Julie Anne! Missed ya!

    Contrary to popular Christian belief, started by the Catholics, of course, it is not a sin to divorce.

    First of all, let’s define what sin is:
    1 John 3:4,
    sin is the transgression of the law. What Law? The Law of Moses, of course.

    The Law, according to Romans 3, is the knowledge of sin. Therefore, we must first look to the law to find out what sin is. The Law begins, of course, with the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

    Deuteronomy 24:1-4 shows a, get this, twice divorced woman. Twice. Let me say that again…Twice.

    Deuteronomy 24:1-4
    1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

    2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

    3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

    4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

    That shows that divorce is not a sin, and neither is, get this…remarriage.

    NOTE: Some people, and theologians in particular, ERRONEOUSLY interpret the word in verse one, “uncleanness” as some sort of sexual sin, aka, adultery, or fornication. That is WRONG. When you dissect that PARTICULAR word, it pertains to something as MINOR as a SCAB on the genitals.

    What is the punishment for adultery under the law of Moses? Divorce? Divorce with the opportunity for remarriage? Or Death?

    Ed raises hand, “Oh, I know this one! DEATH!”

    Many years later, in the gospels, the subject of divorce is discussed…or is it?

    This is where I get into theological disputes with SOME people. I use the KJV. Other versions will miss this. There is two different topics being discussed, not just one topic:

    1.) Put Away, and
    2.) Divorce.

    They are not the same, but the Catholics…and others, have equated them to be the same.

    A Put Away spouse is a separated spouse, without a divorce decree.

    A divorced spouse is a put away spouse with a divorce decree, the piece of paper.

    In the case of adultery, divorce is not necessary. Why? What is the penalty for adultery again? Divorce? NO NO NO. Death by stoning…even in the days of Jesus, the penalty was STILL death by stoning. .

    Put away, then death is the only thing necessary for adultery. No divorce necessary.

    “PUT AWAY”, is another way of saying, KICK HER OUT OF THE HOUSE.

    For any other reason, if you put away your spouse, you need that divorce decree, otherwise, you are still married. And, if you marry someone else while still being married, that is bigamy. You cannot be married to two people at the same time.

    There is a verse that must be dissected once this is understood.

    The verse, already dissected, states that if a divorced man marries a put away wife, they are committing adultery, all because the wife is still married to her so-called former husband. She never got a divorce. So, their relationship is bigamy.

    What is that verse?

    Matthew 5:32
    But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

    and

    Matthew 19:9
    And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

    In the first reference, when you see the word “divorced”, that is pertaining to the man, in the example. The man is LEGALLY (BY THE LAW OF MOSES) divorced. And, he married an already still married woman, who is still married to another man. She never got a divorce yet. She was only KICKED OUT of the house (Uh, that is, PUT AWAY) by her husband…without the divorce.

    I brought this to the attention of a few blogs that did a double take when I showed them Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Now, they tried to tell me a justification of the first divorce, telling me that the word “uncleanness” meant that she had committed fornication, or adultery. I told them, “Not So Fast, there buddy”. If there was fornication, or adultery, that spouse would not be alive to remarry. The penalty for adultery in Judaism is death by stoning, not to remarry. So, where did the word “uncleanness” come from? Search the law a little more, you will see that the word “uncleanness” had to do with such things as, to be blunt, scabs, or skin diseases, etc., not adultery or fornication. I’m just simply amused at theologians sometimes. A dime a dozen.”

    Note, I used the KJV. Calvinism is pretty much ESV exclusive. ESV exclusive misses words, and equates unrelated words. Now,, in the gospels, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees about The Law of Moses, which is also known as “Moses”, which is also known as “The Law of God”, therefore, it wasn’t Moses, the person, that allowed divorce, it was God. And, since this was a topic TO the Pharisees, not TO Christians, Jesus didn’t mention TO the Pharisees about the Law of Moses penalty for divorce, which is, death by stoning, which everyone there already knew, but that point is missed by Christians, because Christians seem to think that Jesus was changing the rules about the law, when he wasn’t. He was clarifying. The initial question, USING THE KJV was, is it LAWFUL to “PUT AWAY” (not divorce) for any reason. And, if you use the ESV, Calvinists, Catholics, and others, think that the question is, “Is it lawful to “DIVORCE” for any reason?” The problem…that was not the question asked at all. The question was about “Put away”, not divorce. And again, the penalty under the law for adultery is PUT AWAY, then stone to death. If Jesus was talking to Christians, then our adulterous spouses would be dead. But he wasn’t talking to Christians, he was talking to the Pharisees, that is, JEWS.

    We can divorce for simply “hating” our spouse, as Deuteronomy 24 states. If Jesus didn’t love us, would we be compelled to remain married to Jesus?

    Jesus did NOT change the rules of divorce. And again, Moses, the person, did not allow divorce. God did. He made it a law, not Moses, the person.

    Hardened hearts, one may retort. Well, when did that change? Humans have hardened hearts by nature. God made a law allowing for divorce, just simply for hating your spouse.

    Now, in regards to 1 Corinthians 7, we are not to PUT AWAY our spouse, but the spouse is FREE TO LEAVE. The choices…divorce her, or reconcile with her.

    NOTE: Both parties here are believers. In the law of Moses, when a divorce happened, neither spouse was kicked out of Judaism, right? RIGHT.

    The words, in 1 Cor 7, which states, let her remain unmarried is just another way of saying, DIVORCE HER, but he Catholics, and others, think it means that she can never remarry again. I say that is hogwash.

    Again, the two choices when both parties are believers, reconcile or divorce, but don’t “PUT AWAY”. Why? Because she can leave on her own without the husband kicking her out. And guess what? She can remarry, and still be in the family of Christians, a Child of Jesus.

    Therefore, I disagree with the theologians that put restrictions on people getting a divorce, even those who think that the only reason to divorce is for abuse. A Christian can get divorced for just for not being in love anymore.

    And for those who think that God hates divorce, in the KJV it does not say that. It states that God hates “PUT AWAY”, not divorce.

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks JA for blogging about this. It is a subject near and dear to me. My wife and I have led divorce recovery groups in churches for nine years and we have heard it all. The most heart breaking are the stories of people abused further by their church. We see it over and over again from the same churches to where I take people aside to warn them of what to expect.
    Dr. Innstone-Brewer’s work (along with Ms. Robert’s) are on our recommended list for participants in our groups. They go a long ways towards helping unlearn embedded bad teaching about divorce.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Loren – I’m glad to hear you and your wife are doing divorce recovery groups. You understand abuse and are in a position to help people overcome not only the negative stigma attached to divorce, but also any spiritual repercussions they may have gone through. Thanks for all you do!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Julie Anne, I’m thrilled to see you writing about this. In the last few days I have go I published two posts:
    What is the woman’s desire? How Susan Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 fed steroids to abusers.
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/04/15/what-is-the-womans-desire-how-susan-fohs-interpretation-of-genesis-316-fed-steroids-to-abusers-pt-1-of-2/
    and
    The Woman’s Desire in Genesis 3:16 — Let’s be Consistent with the Context and with Actual Life.
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/04/17/the-womans-desire-in-genesis-316-lets-be-consistent-with-the-context-and-with-actual-life-pt-2-of-2/

    And in the last 24 hours over at Visionary Womanhood, Natalie has published two posts:
    The God Hates Divorce Lie
    http://visionarywomanhood.com/the-god-hates-divorce-lie/
    and
    What Do Women Want? To Rule or to Be Cherished?
    http://visionarywomanhood.com/what-do-women-want-to-rule-or-to-be-cherished/

    What a strong focus on the topic of women, abuse and divorce!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ed, there are several things in your comment that I want to comment on.

    The King James translation of Deuteronomy 24:1 is not accurate.
    It says “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.”
    The words “then let him write…” are an unsound translation of the Hebrew text. The KJV words convey the idea that IF “she found no favour in his eyes…” THEN the man could divorce her. That is incorrect.

    All later translations, and all modern commenters agree that the verse one does not give that man positive, God-endorsed, permission to divorce his wife. Look at it in the ESV. Deut 24:1-4 — with my capitalizations to highlight my point:

    “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eye because he has found some indecency in her, AND he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, AND if she goes and becomes another man's wife, AND the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, OR if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, THEN her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance."
    

    The key ‘THEN’ only occurs in verse four. All of verses one to three are pre-law narrative, setting out the circumstances in which the Law given in verse four is to be applied.

    I argue in my book (“Not Under Bondage”) that Deuteronomy 24:1-14 shows that Moses suffered ( reluctantly tolerated) men divorcing their wives. But it does not show that Moses or God positively endorsed or condoned such divorces.

    There is a great difference between tolerating a practice and positively condoning it. For example, the secular law tolerates gambling, but it does it positively condone it. Societies often make laws that restrict the most iniquitious and and unjust sides of gambling, so that gambling is less likely to ruin people’s lives. Simply because gambling is mentioned in such laws, does not indicate that society thinks gambling is fully to be condoned or positively endorsed.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Yikes, I don’t know why the bible passage didn’t show up fully in my comment above. Here it is again.

    When a man takes a wife and marries her,

    IF then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her,

    AND he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,

    AND if she goes and becomes another man’s wife,

    AND the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house,

    OR if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,

    THEN her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. However, Ed, I want you to understand that I believe divorce is not always a sin, and remarriage is not always a sin. So I think you and I have some areas on which we probably agree.

    In my view, divorce is sinful if it is treacherous divorce, i.e, if there are no biblical grounds for the divorce. And divorce is not sinful if it is disciplinary divorce. The Bible provides three grounds for disciplinary divorce: abuse, adultery and desertion.

    If a person treacherously divorce their spouse, and then remarries a new partner, that remarriage is sinful because the previous divorce had been done without biblical grounds. And the person who bears that sin (that guilt) is the treacherous divorcer.

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  9. Regarding the term “some uncleanness” in Deuteronomy 24:1, I think it’s impossible to nail down what it meant. Many people claim that it means sexual immorality, but I am convinced they have jumped to a wrong conclusion there. They have generally misunderstood the discussion in Matthew 19 and assumed that because some of the rabbis in Jesus’s day claimed it meant sexual immorality, it MUST mean sexual immorality.

    Ed, I’m not convinced by your argument that it could mean something as simple as skin disease or scab. You’ve based that on taking the word ‘uncleanness’ on its own, and seeing how it is translated eslewhere in the OT, but its translation, like that of many many words, is highly dependent on context. The term ‘some uncleaness’ in another place in the OT is used for faeces that ought to be buried outside the camp, rahter than left on the surface of the ground. So clearly that term can have a wide or vague meaning, much dependent on the context of a passage.

    I prefer to say that we can’t know exactly what ‘some uncleanness / some indecency’ meant in Deut. 24:1. I think the whole attempt to try to nail that phrase down is a waste of time and a giant side track. If we just think of it as a vague phrase that men used to disparage their wives when they wanted to dump them, it makes quite enough sense in that context. After all, men who dump their wives because they ‘find no favour in their eyes’ tend to be selfish men who just want to trade their wives in for a younger model or a richer model. Such a man could easily just tell tell people “I’ve found some uncleanness in her” meaning “She’s a crap wife”.

    It’s amazing to me how so many people have focused their microscopes on the term ‘some uncleanness / some indecency’ — while paying so little attention to the other two phrases in Deut 24:1-3 referring to men’s reasons or justifications for dumping their wives:
    —— “found no favour in his eyes” (v. 1)
    —— “hates her” (v 3)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. And lastly, Ed, the whole idea that ‘putting away’ is different from ‘divorce’ is false. I don’t know where you read that, but it is promoted by people who are not good scholars and have not read widely in the ancient literature that was written during the Biblical period.

    David Instone-Brewer, who is a highly respected scholar at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and who has read widely, not only the Bible in its original languages, but the extra-biblical literature of the time, affirms without any doubt that the term ‘putting away’ was used interchangeably with other terms for divorce. And that is so for both Hebrew terms and Greek terms.

    Please, Ed, read Instone-Brewer’s scholarly book. And please stop recycling this myth that ‘putting away’ is ‘separation without a divorce certificate having been written.’ That myth is a load of hogwash.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It looks like I’m avoiding a steaming pile of doo by NOT marrying a Christian guy.

    I think you just have to screen out this type. I think there are a fair number of ‘cafeteria’ Baptists out there who hear something they think is dumb and immediately drop it from all practical use. {not saying this isn’t easier said than done}

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  12. It’s amazing to me that people put such stock in an over 2000-yr-old book, written by unknown MALE authors to control the population (thereby establishing a hierarchy with men on top, with Constantine needing a ‘carrot’) and cannot think for themselves to establish the fact that they are being pressured to conform . . . 😦

    To the women who are reading this: YOU have the power – ON YOUR OWN – to establish autonomy. You are a human being worthy of respect, consideration, and love. Forget that damned nonsense about being a ‘helpmeet’ and realize that you have every right to be treated as an equal.

    Apologies to you, Julie Anne, but this is the kind of foolishness – talking about SIN as if it is something that flawed human beings just can’t help instead of recognizing that, as human beings, we make MISTAKES and should not have to ‘wear’ them for the rest of our lives – makes me furious.

    Another thing – you quoted Genesis. Some of your readers might like to know that Francis Collins and his colleagues (he’s a Christian, by the way) put that myth of Adam and Eve being the ‘original humans’ to rest – for good – in 2003.

    It’s 2016. Use the internet, people. Educate yourselves.

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  13. Barbara Roberts,

    I disagree with your assessment, and I stand by what I said. That word, Uncleanness is not about a sexual sin. And yes, if you read the 2nd example of Deuteronomy 24, the man can divorce simply for hating his wife. It seems that the only topic spoken of by theologians is the “uncleanness” portion, and they erroneously conclude a sexual sin, when that is not the case at all. Sexual sins require the death penalty. Remember the adulterous woman that Jesus said “cast the first stone”?

    You need to look at the definition of the word,. It deals with NAKEDNESS. Not sin. In other words, the husband states, “I ain’t touching that with a ten foot pole!”

    How one obtains a decree was not my main focus.

    Barbara, have you ever heard the words “PUT IN”? The word PUT has meaning, and it is explained in Deuteronomy when it states to SEND her away. Put/Send, same thing.

    I still stand by what I said. Point blank. Put away is not divorce. They are indeed two different topics. The KJV is translated correctly.

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reply to Lea’s post:

    Daisy said:
    It looks like I’m avoiding a steaming pile of doo by NOT marrying a Christian guy.

    Lea said:
    I think you just have to screen out this type. I think there are a fair number of ‘cafeteria’ Baptists out there who hear something they think is dumb and immediately drop it from all practical use. {not saying this isn’t easier said than done}

    I’m not completely sure what you’re saying there. Other than looking for red flags that any man can give off in a dating relationship, I’m not sure how to screen out jerky Christian men.

    There are Christian women on other blogs (who sometimes visit this one) to say they married a Christian man, and that man turned out to be a pedophile or an abusive jerk (so they later divorced the creep).

    I’m sure none of these Christian women would have knowingly walked into a marriage to a guy who they knew assaulted children or who would be abusive to them.

    There was a news report about a guy who joined Christian dating sites a year or two ago. He chose his victims from among Christian women on that site.

    His victims said he sounded like a genuine Christian. He would discuss his favorite Bible passages with them and use Christian-eze language when chatting with them on the Christian dating sites. He sounded just like a genuine Christian to them, and they trusted him. But he raped them once he met them in person.

    I think this is one area where the “No True Scotsman / But No True Christian Man” argument is meaningless for Christian women seeking a mate.

    Actually, I think a guy being a Christian is more problematic.

    I know there are sexist atheist men out there (this has been a huge problem atheist women have discussed on their blogs and sites, and certainly some branches of Islam are sexist),

    But, however, certain religious groups, such as gender complementarian Christians, will use a belief in God and a distorted interpretation of the Bible to support and defend controlling or abusing women. It’s a little harder for an atheist man to point to the Bible to defend any sexist attitudes he may have of women.

    I think the ‘Equally Yoked’ teaching sort of gets Christian women to think they can, or should, give a self-identifying Christian man they meet at church (or a dating site) a larger “benefit of the doubt” that they would otherwise not give another man (who is NonChristian) who flirts with them.

    I know in my more naive (younger) years, I would have trusted a man a bit more had he claimed to love Jesus (and maybe who I had met in a church setting), than some guy who said he was a Non-Christian.

    I probably would not have put “Mr. Christian” under AS MUCH scrutiny as I would have the Non-Christian guy. Christian single women are taught (usually under complementarian type teachings) to trust Christian men more, that Christian men will be more loving, respectful, and caring to them, than a Jewish guy, an atheist, etc.

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  15. @ Carmen, I’ve been grappling with the Christian faith the last few years. I’ve been having doubts about it and am willing to consider it might be flawed, and so on.

    On the other hand, I don’t uncritically accept atheist or skeptic positions against the faith, either.

    You said,

    It’s amazing to me that people put such stock in an over 2000-yr-old book, written by unknown MALE authors to control the population (thereby establishing a hierarchy with men on top, with Constantine needing a ‘carrot’) and cannot think for themselves to establish the fact that they are being pressured to conform . . .

    Is something less true because it was written 2,000 years ago? If the book of Genesis proclaimed that “two plus two equals four,” does that suddenly become false because of the era in which it was written?

    I do think an argument can be made that certain rules or expectations (like in the Pauline epistles) were only intended for the time and culture in which they were written, so in that sense, some of the content is not applicable to Americans in the year 2016.

    I don’t care for the reference to Constantine. He didn’t invent Christianity. Something being given the stamp of approval by the state or empire doesn’t necessarily make it false.

    Anyway, is it so much that the 2,000 (or older, considering the Old Testament) is wrong, or is it how the book is being interpreted by some who claim to be its adherents?

    Some Christians use the Bible to liberate and help other people, but then you have Christians who use it (or choose to use it) to keep classes of people (such as women or adult singles) relegated to second- class status.

    There are entire groups of Christians who have their own web sites defending the equality of women to men, and who also write articles refuting the views of the Christians who are misusing the Bible to keep women in subservient positions (such as Christians For Biblical Equality and the Junia Project blog).

    You said,

    Forget that damned nonsense about being a ‘helpmeet’ and realize that you have every right to be treated as an equal.

    I agree with the sentiment here, but I just wanted to say that it’s my understanding that “helpmeet” is a mis-translation found in the KJV, and from which some Christians (who are prone to be sexist) choose to interpret to mean “woman is to do the bidding of men, and be a man’s slave, or the husband is the Boss in a marriage.”

    Christians who believe in gender equality, (who usually, but not always, go by the word “egalitarian”), have written articles refuting the Christian gender complementarian interpretation of “helpmeet”.

    You said,

    Another thing – you quoted Genesis. Some of your readers might like to know that Francis Collins and his colleagues (he’s a Christian, by the way) put that myth of Adam and Eve being the ‘original humans’ to rest – for good – in 2003.

    I’ve not read Mr. Collins’ work, but with all due respect, 🙂 , even if he’s correct that Adam and Eve were not the original humans, the rest of the Bible refers to them (whether they were literal or allegorical) as having played a role in the downfall of humanity, with their fall into sin being one reason Jesus had to become incarnate and die for the sins of the world.

    You said,

    It’s 2016. Use the internet, people. Educate yourselves.

    I have chatted with you before on older threads and like you, but I think that comment could come across wrong to some people.

    I think maybe you’re just asking Christians to re-examine some of their beliefs, which is fine, but on the face of it, it sort of sounds really dismissive of Christians.

    I did a ton of reading on Christian apologetics from the time I was a kid and into my 30s. I also read atheist blogs where atheists offered their criticisms of the Bible and the Christian faith.

    I also went through about a ten year phase or so where I did a ton of reading about the Bible: its origins, history, the textual transmission, how the books were chosen and why, etc. Most atheist arguments I hear against the Bible don’t move me or convince me.

    Just like some Christians under-estimate atheists in theological squabbles, I’ve seen an awful lot of atheists under-estimate Christians. too.

    Some atheists assume all or most Christians are ignorant of their own faith, ignorant of the Bible, and atheist arguments against it. Some Christians are indeed ignorant of those things, but some, like me, were very interested in these subjects and read a lot about it.

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  16. Carmen, what makes you think everyone here reads Genesis literally? I think the absolute biggest mistake in any scripture reading is leaving out historical context of the writing, the genre, literary devices, etc etc. Our biggest problem is not having the ability to fully comprehend the ancient world. People tend to read back into it with Enlightenment thinking as if God was dealing with democratic educated people who had no free will. It is a bit bizarre. If that’s the case then why didn’t God create antibiotics right after the fall? :o)

    The only contrast I can think of is it is like reading of life in a rocky cave in Tora Bora while you are on an airplane flying to your vacation spot. You can’t really overlay your own experience onto it. But the grand theme is the provision of rescue.

    Genesis was most likely written during or after the Babylonian exile and follows the basic format of an Ancient Near East creation story. It’s as if the scribes were saying look, we must not forget we have a god too, and he is the “one true God” and he wants a relationship with us unlike the Pagans tyrannical angry and arbitrary gods.

    While we tend to communicate in facts reason and logic, they tended to communicate orally with grand metaphorical themes (Hosea anyone?) and tons of hyperbole. Then write them down centuries later.

    I also think, in this vein, we take the Ancient Mosaic law much too seriously now. People compare and contrast grace with laws that were developed for a people who had just come out of centuries of slavery to the pagans! Where to begin with a people who have pretty much forgotten all about Yahweh except for crying out to be rescued? That is where I think the law began and becomes less of a focus throughout the Old Testament . It should inform us of “something” about that trajectory that David would be in prison today. And Jesus chose a total outlier from the Temple system, John the Baptist, to begin. We tend to gloss right over that fact.

    The ancient world was cruel, barbaric and patently Patriarchal. The difference in how we read it is whether we take that at face value due to free will or assume that’s how God wanted it. Sadly, many believers and most unbelievers tend to believe that’s how God wanted it . Otherwise He is a wimp with no power.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Look what just popped up on another blog I subscribe to, and which gets to the heart of the point I’m trying to make – 🙂
    Announcement
    APRIL 18, 2016 ~ GLOSSWITCH

    “Hi! Most of you know me as a woman but today I’m coming out – as a human being.

    I know this might be confusing to some folks but I’ve felt this way for a long time. It’s something I’ve found myself suppressing due to fear of violence, isolation, being told I’m an uppity bitch who deserves to die in a fire etc. But I can’t keep living a lie.

    For those of you who don’t know, gender is a social hierarchy that positions people with vaginas as less human than people with penises. We get so used to this we rarely question the fact that some of the vagina-d people have an inner sense of “being human”. Certainly this feeling of human-ness is something that’s been with me regardless of the number of times I’ve been ordered to shut up, dress nicely, be a good little object for the patriarchy’s pleasure.

    I realise a common response to women saying “we’re human” is disbelief. People think we’re making it up. It threatens the safe boundaries they’ve created, whereby there’s a nice, reliable class of people who’ll do the majority of the world’s unpaid work, suck it up and won’t complain. The violence of not being seen as fully human is painful (albeit not as painful as the violence of being hit in the face because you didn’t cook tea properly or being pushed up against a wall and groped for the crime of being a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time). Ever since Mary Wollstonecraft first “came out” as human, other women have been doing the same, but there’s still a long road ahead of us before we’re fully accepted as complete people, with our own thoughts, feelings and inner lives.

    Still, from now on I’d like you all to at least try to treat me like a human being – in terms of address, work, pay, respect, sexual and emotional expectations. Don’t worry if you slip up now and then – thanks to decades of female socialisation, I won’t hold it against you!”

    I think I can safely say that empowering women is one of Julie Anne’s reasons for running this blog. I react to things I see that DON’T empower women.
    You’re absolutely correct though, Daisy. Not all religious people subscribe to notions of women being inferior. However, many of the people reading this blog are involved or have been involved (such as Julie Anne herself) with patriarchal, legalistic churches. My goal is to make people think – about religion in general and about authoritarian systems in particular. Women have often been on the short end of the stick in both cases.

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  18. Other than looking for red flags that any man can give off in a dating relationship, I’m not sure how to screen out jerky Christian men.

    No, I think that’s all you can do. I just mean I wouldn’t screen out Christian men just for that reason. If I see red flags, I run. (I read a dating profile the other day – guy sounded like he had a personality disorder, but I think he mentioned being a Christian.) But I’ve missed them before. Some people are good at lying.

    I think where these pastor’s and comp folks err is telling women they have to stay if they have missed the red flags. Honestly, if they think women are easily deceived than they should be more supportive of divorce in these cases, because it’s not our fault, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. @ Lydia said

    The ancient world was cruel, barbaric and patently Patriarchal. The difference in how we read it is whether we take that at face value due to free will or assume that’s how God wanted it. Sadly, many believers and most unbelievers tend to believe that’s how God wanted it .

    I agree.

    I think I said something kind of like this at the W-W blog on some thread, maybe in one of the complementarian threads. Christians could choose to filter their understanding of the Bible through equality (which they can in fact do and remain just as respectful and conservative towards the text), but some choose to see it through a filter of male hierarchy.

    They will focus on the “I suffer not a woman to teach” type verses to the exclusion of the verses that show women teaching or leading men, all with God’s approval.

    I also see some Christians assume that because something was mentioned or present in the Bible, this must mean God approved of it, even though the text doesn’t say God did approve.

    Patriarchy, for example (as you mentioned). Patriarchy was a part of the culture way back when. The text doesn’t say God was fine with it, but he did operate within it while dealing with ancient people. There are hints scattered in the Old and New Testament that Patriarchy was not God’s intent.

    But you sure do have complementarians so invested in upholding sexism, they will debate to their dying breath that God wanted there to be a male hierarchy, rather than acknowledging that male hierarchy was an outcome of the fall.

    I suspect that some of the stiff views we see about divorce are tied into all this. Women who are trapped in abusive marriages to Christian jerks are told they cannot divorce.

    I think this is not only because marriage has been made into an idol, but women are expected among some Christians to be subservient to their husbands no matter what. Men and what men want are more important than women and what women want or need in this view.

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  20. Patriarchy was a part of the culture way back when. The text doesn’t say God was fine with it

    I think Paul dealt with things as they were. The same with slavery. He was giving advice, not saying these things were best.

    Like

  21. Lea said,

    No, I think that’s all you can do. I just mean I wouldn’t screen out Christian men just for that reason. If I see red flags, I run. (I read a dating profile the other day – guy sounded like he had a personality disorder, but I think he mentioned being a Christian.) But I’ve missed them before. Some people are good at lying.

    I think where these pastor’s and comp folks err is telling women they have to stay if they have missed the red flags. Honestly, if they think women are easily deceived than they should be more supportive of divorce in these cases, because it’s not our fault, right?

    One problem I have at this point is that I would guess that 98% of Christian men are either hard or soft complementarians.

    I don’t think I’d want to date a comp guy, and most of the Christian ones are comp.

    Then there are the occasional comp men who lie on their dating profiles, claiming to be egalitarian, but are in reality, comps.

    I shared that story here a time or two about this. I read on another site (I don’t remember where) about an egalitarian Christian single woman who dated a Christian guy for a year or more. He said on his profile he was egal and/or that he believed in the equality of women. He did not mention he was complementarian.

    They married. A year into the marriage, the guy confessed he lied to catch his wife, that he was really a comp, not an egal.

    He became more and more demanding towards her, started bossing her around. She got fed up and divorced him.

    The W-W blog had a thread several months ago about an egal Christian woman who politely turned down a comp guy on a Christian dating site, and he began harassing her over her gender role views.

    If I am remembering right, there was another problem in that the site was supposed to block him from contacting her, but it continued.

    I joined a dating site in my late 20s. At that time, I was not comfortable with dating Roman Catholics. It’s nothing personal about Catholics, but I didn’t feel we’d be a theological match (this sort of thing is not as important to me now). So, at that time, on my profile, I did mention I’d only want to date Baptists or Protestants. Some RC guy flirted with me. He was offended I didn’t want to date/ marry a Catholic guy.

    Can I just say, if you are a religious guy on a dating site, please don’t debate a woman on her theological beliefs.

    Whether she is an atheist, Jewish, Wiccan, Protestant, Baptist, Catholic and her preference is to only date an atheist, Jewish guy, Baptist, Catholic, whatever it may be, a dating site is not an appropriate venue to debate religion.

    I ended up having to block the Catholic guy. I kept trying to gracefully end our disagreement, and he kept messaging me, wanting to prove how Catholicism is right and Baptists are stupid, etc. I told him I joined that site to get dates, not to argue theology all day long.

    It’s funny how some of the very qualities I thought I would have liked in a man 15 to 20 years ago make me want to run away puking or in terror now. LOL.

    Like

  22. P.S. Lea said,

    “I think where these pastor’s and comp folks err is telling women they have to stay if they have missed the red flags. Honestly, if they think women are easily deceived than they should be more supportive of divorce in these cases, because it’s not our fault, right?”

    I wanted to add, that is a very good point.

    I’ve also seen Pat Robertson (host of the Christian program 700 Club) berate Christian women for marrying insensitive men, and it ticks me off.

    Women will write Robertson with questions to get his advice about their problems. Sometimes, married Christian women will write and tell Pat about how their Christian husband is abusive, or a jerk, or whatever. Pat will berate them by saying, “You chose to marry him, lady. You’re stuck with him.”

    Now, there are some cases where Pat says to the wife, “It’s okay to divorce your jerk of a husband” in severe cases, but in other ones, he blames the wife for having marrying the guy in the first place.

    What Pat doesn’t seem to realize is that some men lie during the dating phase. It’s not until after the marriage takes place that these men let their true colors show and start abusing the wife, or that’s when the wife sees the guy has a huge porn addiction, or whatever.

    But Pat blames the wife: “Lady, you chose to marry this guy. You knew what you were getting into.”
    But that is not always the case. Some women don’t find out what the guy is really like until after they marry him.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What Pat doesn’t seem to realize is that some men lie during the dating phase.

    This is also the thing the ‘why do women always date jerks instead of nice guys like me!’ people miss. They don’t start off being jerks! And it’s much easier to see these things from outside a relationship sometimes. Which is why you should listen if your family/friends thing someone is a jerk, or at least consider what they have to say…

    Liked by 2 people

  24. @ Lea said,

    This is also the thing the ‘why do women always date jerks instead of nice guys like me!’ people miss. They don’t start off being jerks! And it’s much easier to see these things from outside a relationship sometimes. Which is why you should listen if your family/friends thing someone is a jerk, or at least consider what they have to say…

    The first part of your post, yes. It’s like the story of putting a frog into a pan of cold water, then turning up the heat gradually.

    Some abusive men are like that. They don’t start out full – out abusive, they start the put downs, controlling behavior, or abuse slowly, and it builds up. (Others may more or less behave themselves UNTIL they marry the woman.)

    I totally agree with the second half of your post. Yes, it’s sometimes easier for people outside your relationship to see the problems in it then for you to see it. I read a good tip in a book somewhere – if you are dating a guy, step outside yourself and pretend your best girlfriend is dating the guy.

    If your boyfriend would do the things to your friend that he’s doing to you, would you be alarmed, and tell her to dump the guy? The advice I read said apply that to yourself. If you would be horrified at your boyfriend doing X to your friend, then you should feel horrified at him doing X to you as well.

    Women do not like to date or marry jerks, by the way.

    Men who seem to have a hard time grasping women don’t comprehend how women are socialized to behave. Once you understand how most women are socialized by churches, their parents, and the media to behave, their habits become understandable. Men are not socialized to go by the same rules women are growing up.

    Also, women who had abusive up-bringings may gravitate to jerky or abusive men because it is familiar to them, they don’t feel they deserve a better man, etc., not that they enjoy being abused or taken advantage of.

    A lot of self described “nice guys” are not sincerely altruistic: they only use “niceness” as a tool to try and manipulate women into dating them or having sex with them. The “nice guys” you see online are usually the ones who complain that “all women prefer to date men who are cruel to them.” -Nope, not so.

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  25. Daisy, my advice to you is to just look for a GOOD guy – someone who is kind to the core, who is compassionate, emotionally mature, and supportive of your goals. Look for someone who is great with kids, kind to animals, and who believes deeply in the Golden Rule. If he’s a Christian, fine. If he’s an atheist, fine. Most important is that he’s a DEEPLY KIND and GOOD person. JMO.

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  26. Thank you, carolsnider. I agree with your post. I agree that I can be just as likely to find good traits in an atheist or other NonChristian as in some self professing Christian men!

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  27. Daisy and Carol – I hope you realize what rebels you are to suggest that atheists have good traits! 🙂
    People are people, that’s about as prophetic as ‘I’ get.

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  28. Julie Anne,

    Yes, I did. However, since all this divorce/remarriage is a sin began with the Catholics, the Calvinists ran with it in their theology, too. So, I go to the originating organization that made it a sin to begin with. I stand by what I said. The actual Hebrew word in Deu 24:1 for uncleanness is simply “nakedness”, having absolutely nothing to do with any immorality. Sin has penalties is the law of Moses. And, Barbara makes it sound as tho MOSES tolerated divorce. Moses had nothing to do with it either. The Law of Moses is not invented by Moses. This is God’s Law, and it certainly is not a toleration of God, either. It’s the law.

    Ed

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  29. Here’s another blogger, Greta Christina, who is on the same theme today –
    ‘Women are not consumer goods.’

    “When women are given advice about sex and clothing, when we’re advised to be chaste and modest, a striking amount of that advice compares us to consumer goods. We’re told that we’re chewing gum, and nobody wants gum other people have chewed. We’re told that we’re candy, and nobody wants candy without the wrapper. We’re told that we’re iPads, so our manufacturer recommends using covers which protect us and make us more beautiful. We’re told that we’re diamonds or pearls, buried deep in the ground or the ocean, valuable because we’re hard to reach. We’re told that we’re shoes, and nobody wants used, smelly, second-hand shoes. We’re told that we’re apples: the best are the hard-to-reach ones at the top of the tree, the worst are the rotten ones that fall off the tree and can be picked up by anyone, and only the best of men will go to the trouble of climbing the tree for the apples that are hard to get. We’re told that we’re cars or expensive watches or wads of cash, and if we’re left unlocked, or are flashed in dangerous neighborhoods, we should expect to be stolen. We’re told that we’re meat, and if we’re dangled in front of hungry dogs we should expect to get eaten. We’re told that we’re cows and that sex with us is milk, and we’re asked why anyone would buy the cow if they could get the milk for free.

    And somehow, all of this is supposed to make us feel valued, and is supposed to teach us to value ourselves.

    watchesI have some important information: Women are human beings. We are not gum or candy; we are not diamonds or iPads; we are not watches or wads of cash; we are not cows or milk. Women are human beings — and when you treat us like consumer goods, you are not treating us as valuable. It doesn’t matter whether you’re treating us like expensive goods or cheap ones, whether you’re calling us diamonds or gum. When you treat us like consumer goods, you’re treating us as less than human. You’re teaching others to treat us as less than human. And you’re teaching us to think of ourselves as less than human.

    Women are human beings — so we own our bodies, and make our own decisions about our lives. We get to decide who we’ll have sex with — one person, five people, a hundred people, no people. And we get to decide whether we want to have sex with people who think we’re disgusting if we’ve had sex with anyone else. We get to decide what to wear — sundresses, shirtdresses, jeans and T-shirts, khakis and polo shirts, shorts and tank tops, sweats, suits. And we get to decide if we want to be attractive to people who see us as candy, a consumable treat that only they get to unwrap.

    Sex isn’t dirt or decay: it’s an experience, and human beings have experiences. And human bodies deteriorate with time, no matter what we wear or how many people we have sex with. Yes, human bodies often need protection: we protect our bodies from sun and weather, from glass on the sidewalk or parasites in the ground, from injury if we play sports, from heat and smoke if we’re firefighters, from the vacuum of space if we’re astronauts. We should not have to protect our bodies from other people who see us as candy or apples or meat, available to anyone with the right purchase price, there for the taking if they’re hungry enough.

    I keep thinking about Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home at age 14 and raped repeatedly for nine months. She spoke at Johns Hopkins University in 2013 about how her abstinence-only sex education, and the sexual teachings she received as a Mormon, made it harder for her to run or call for help:

    One of the questions that is most commonly asked of me, “Well, why didn’t you run away, why didn’t you yell, why didn’t you scream?”… I remember in school one time I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence and she said, “Imagine you’re a stick of gum and when you engage in sex, that’s like being chewed. And then if you do that lots of times, you’re going to become an old piece of gum and who’s going to want you after that.”… I was raised in a very religious household, one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other, and that’s the way I had been raised and that’s what I had been determined to follow, that when I got married then and only then would I engage in sex. And so for that first rape I felt crushed, I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand so easily why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.
    But it isn’t only rape victims who are taught that sexual experience, even sexual experience against their will, makes them worthless. It isn’t only rape victims who are taught that if they’re not well-protected, they should expect to be taken and have no right to complain. It’s all women — every woman who’s been told that living her life makes her depreciate in value, that having experiences means she’s been used, that she has a manufacturer and should follow the care instructions, that she’s only valuable when she’s difficult to attain.

    If you want to value women, and you want women to value ourselves, stop telling us that we’re iPads or watches, candy or cows. Women are human beings. That is what makes us valuable.”

    You see, I think the women are portrayed in the Bible as just that – goods; something a man owns. I know different. Every woman reading here should realize it, too.

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  30. Regarding Carmen’s post of APRIL 19, 2016 @ 10:50 AM.
    (I’ve read about half way down, may read the rest later). For now, based on what I saw:

    My view here might not make some critics of Purity Culture happy, and I do acknowledge there are problematic elements of Purity Culture, but I feel that critics of it are too quick to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    I’ve often applied the same standards to men as I do to women.
    I get that some people may find the used chewing gum analogies hurtful, but at the same time, I understand what such analogies are trying to combat. A lot of people in society today are way too casual about sex.

    I’ve seen so many articles today about college women who just give sex away to a guy. Some of them do not want to do it, but they feel if they don’t perform sex acts on a guy, they won’t ever get any dates.
    Just 20 or whatever years ago, guys had to at least take a woman out to a dinner and a show; they had to put out some effort to get sex, now, they don’t have to do a thing.
    I think that has created various problems for men, women, dating, and the state of marriage (which I won’t get into here, otherwise my post would be 56 pages long).

    Anyway, I think the problem comes in where the purity standards are not as strongly applied to males as they are to females.
    I am a virgin who is past the age of 40. My preference is to marry a male virgin, not a guy who has slept around with 100s of women over his life (the chewing gum analogy can maybe come into play at this point).
    Maybe some of you would not be disturbed to marry such a guy (or have sex with him while dating), but I would be, personally.

    I always expected men to be up to the same standards of sexual behavior that I’ve wanted or expected from girls and women.

    What I see too often, though, are churches that over- emphasize virginity and chastity for females, but don’t expect it so much from men or teen boys.

    Some Christians get into these gender stereotypes that men want sex more than women, women can control themselves but men cannot, etc, and those might be some of the reasons why women get hit ten times more with the sexual purity propaganda than men, but I don’t think all of sexual purity teaching in church contexts should be completely done away with.

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  31. Carmen,
    Are you the same Carmen that used to support Patriarchy? Did you speak at the Baby Conference held by Doug Phillips?

    Like

  32. Just a quick note to new readers. This blog’s audience is generally people who identify as Christians. There are, however, some who do not identify as Believers or will outright say they are atheist. I welcome any and all comment, from Believers and those who do not call themselves Christians. Carol and Carmen do not identify as Believers, yet they are concerned about abuse in the church and support what we do here. I’m grateful for their contributions.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Effie, best laugh I’ve had all day!! 🙂 I would be the very LAST person you’d ever see having anything to do with that asshat. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I used research divorce in the Christianity just out of curiosity since it’s a taboo subject. I used to be quite appalled by some the attitudes from Church leaders to fellow Christians with plenty believe a spouse should stay in a marriage even if the other spouse is abusing or other family members sexually abusing their children, cheating on them, had deserted them, and trying to murder them, the attitude is they should never divorce no matter what to these folks. I read comments from those who had divorced their abusive spouse who were shunned by their church members, family members and in some cases the church sided with the abusive spouse. Some used Jesus being crucified to justify their reason that spouse should willingly suffer in a marriage. Some even believed that remarriage was also out of the question even their spouse was the one that walked out, their reason was life wasn’t fair. I never bought into any of these crazy theories and refuse to except that is a person is abandoned by their spouse,to suffer the price by remaining celibate for the rest of their lives or that if a woman divorced a violent husband who is a threat to her and their kids for their own personal safety, God would condemn her.
    Of course I was thankful not all Christians share these ideals, plenty do support divorce mostly in cases of adultery abandonment and abuse even if they encourage an attempt of reconciliation first. I also would to say, from what I found not all churches believe wives should submit to abuse, in fact plenty church leaders that I read who believe in male headship in marriage,are against such a thing or husbands using the wife submission to justify controlling or abusing his wife as they see it as distorting their roles for selfishness. Also plenty church leaders who don’t encourage divorce in cases of abuse don’t believe a wife should just stay and take it, they might encourage separation while the abusive spouse gets the help that he needs before a reconciliation. There are so many different views on divorce and remarriage in the Christian community but I would recommend any Christian who wants to know more about the biblical grounds for divorce to read books by David-Instone-Brewer, Barbara Roberts, William F.Luck, Rick Walston and Bob Yandian(One Flesh) to name a few. Great article. God Bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. I am constantly amazed at Christians, many of whom are women, that rally to keep a woman in an abusive marriage. And, usually it is the woman’s fault. She doesn’t give sex enough. She works outside of the home, thus showing her husband that she doesn’t trust him to meet her needs. She is bitter and not emotionally supportive of her husband. She doesn’t try hard enough to meet her husband’s needs. She doesn’t support her husband’s vision. She doesn’t encourage her husband to lead at home. If she does something that goes against what her husband prefers she’s not trying hard enough to be submissive.

    Those same women will say that a wife should not support her husband when he does something that is illegal. Well, guess what? Domestic abuse is illegal in all states! Even further, if a child witnesses a parent being abused, that is illegal in most states as well. So, if a wife should not participate in something that her husband is doing illegally, then by all means she should divorce him and get out of that marriage!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Also plenty church leaders who don’t encourage divorce in cases of abuse don’t believe a wife should just stay and take it, they might encourage separation while the abusive spouse gets the help that he needs before a reconciliation.

    I network with people who deal with domestic violence and asked my friends if they had ever encountered a case in which an abuser repented and reconciled. 100% responded no.

    Sometimes, especially in emotional/spiritual abuse, it takes a wife quite a while before she realizes what she is dealing with is actually abuse. These abusers are manipulators and will often convince a woman that she is the cause of the relational problems. This can lead her into a cycle of shame, self-blame, depression. She usually has been living in abuse for years before she finally get the courage to seek help.

    Another thing to consider is that many wives who have been living in an abusive environment, on top of having anxiety or depression, may have sleeping, eating issues, etc. Living in abuse can be physically harmful for an abused wife even if the husband does not lay one finger on her.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. So, if a wife should not participate in something that her husband is doing illegally, then by all means she should divorce him and get out of that marriage!

    Yes! And churches should have a plan in place to help wives who are in a crisis!

    Liked by 2 people

  38. All that being said, I am baffled by how a man is able to divorce and remarry yet a woman is not. Especially if the husband is the one who initiates the divorce. Add further bafflement when abuse enters the picture and a woman divorces for safety reasons. The double-standard doesn’t make sense to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Carmen and Daisy–

    What do you mean? Are you putting people down for trying to follow the Bible and what they believe is God’s will? Ironically, this attitude is another thing that keeps women in abusive relationships. I would just figure that since you don’t have the same beliefs as I do, your encouragement to leave doesn’t apply to me.

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  40. Irene said,

    Carmen and Daisy–

    What do you mean? Are you putting people down for trying to follow the Bible and what they believe is God’s will? Ironically, this attitude is another thing that keeps women in abusive relationships. I would just figure that since you don’t have the same beliefs as I do, your encouragement to leave doesn’t apply to me.

    I am not entirely sure what your deal is, or what you mean.

    If you want to stay in your abusive, un-fulfilling, low quality, or loveless marriage, by all means, knock yourself out and stay in that bad marriage.

    You’re an adult who can make her own choices.

    BTW, Irene, I’m not an atheist. (I am somewhere residing between Christianity and agnosticism, or possibly deism.)

    But for the women who do want to leave, who very much want to divorce their husbands, but feel trapped because they believe divorce might make God angry or upset, please leave your spouse(*).

    Please don’t feel trapped by the anti-divorce doctrinal stances you may hear from other Christians. Julie Anne (way at the top of this page) linked to videos or other material by Christians who explain to you why it is acceptable, in biblical terms, for you to divorce.
    Also if you think divorce is a sin, remember that God forgives all sin, which would include divorce.

    *NOTE: If your husband is abusive and you want to leave him, though, please seek out domestic violence shelters so you can leave SAFELY.
    Everything I’ve read said an abusive man becomes extremely dangerous to his wife when or if he finds out she is going to leave him.
    Please consult experts on how to leave your husband safely (I’m not the person to give that particular advice)

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Irene,
    I don’t believe ANY woman should stay with an abusive husband for ANY reason.

    My disbelief in the supernatural has zero to do with my encourage to women for desiring better lives for themselves and their children. As Daisy has suggested, there are supports, Julie Anne being one. (she does as much behind the scenes – maybe more – as she does her on her blog).

    All I can do is say, “You CAN do it!” and wish you the very best. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Heads up. If you’re on Twitter, check out this conversation. I about had a fit with this tweet, but instead, I asked Jonathan questions and the conversation is turning much better than I expected.

    Like

  43. JulieAnn, I have traversed the same journey as you describe.

    I am no theologian or expert, but these are my thoughts:

    I believe that when God says he hates divorce, he is not speaking of the piece of paper. What he hates is the betrayal of one human being against another. As you pointed out, the abusive spouse has already betrayed (divorced) the other. I do not believe that forcing the abused person to remain in bondage to a marriage vow that has been violated by abuse makes the situation pleasing to God.

    Another thought I have on the section from Deuteronomy (although I don’t think it matters to us what it says or means because we are not Jews who are under the law- we have no responsibility to Deuteronomy as Christians). I believe the defilement it speaks of is that if a husband were free to divorce and remarry a wife at will, it would lead to a form of pimping, where he would basically be free to prostitute his wife, and this would be defilement.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. RE: Jonathan Leeman tweet – He had to explain himself. If you can’t say it clearly in 140 characters, don’t say it at all. His initial tweet doesn’t make sense after he began explaining what he meant. Obviously people aren’t seeing it the way he is.

    Like

  45. Carmen said,
    “I don’t believe ANY woman should stay with an abusive husband for ANY reason.”

    I can agree with that, but telling an abused wife what to do can be problematic.

    Abused wives are so worn down by their husband, they stop making choices for themselves. Maybe Barbara (if she shows up to this thread again) can explain it better than I do.

    It’s healthier for a wife in an abused marriage to be educated about abuse and the issues surrounding it, and hopefully, she will come to the realization on her own that she needs to leave the abuser.

    Once you start commanding, ordering, or pressuring the abused wife to leave the husband (because you think she should), you become one more voice telling her what to do, rather than allowing her to think for herself.

    Irene has been on previous threads here (I think ones about divorce), now that I think about it. She was very angry in an older thread, because she thought people were commanding her (or women in general) to leave their husbands, or something of that nature.
    I find her posts very odd and wonder if she’s sincere or is trolling. I usually don’t engage people like this on a blog, or not too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Kathi said,

    RE: Jonathan Leeman tweet – He had to explain himself. If you can’t say it clearly in 140 characters, don’t say it at all. His initial tweet doesn’t make sense after he began explaining what he meant. Obviously people aren’t seeing it the way he is.

    Maybe he’s gone to the John Piper School of Tweeting. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  47. By Curious Thinker:

    I never bought into any of these crazy theories and refuse to except that is a person is abandoned by their spouse,to suffer the price by remaining celibate for the rest of their lives…

    Being celibate isn’t all that bad – or not all the time. (It has its ups and its downs.)
    Are there times I’d like to be having sex with a spouse? Yes. But I’m living without it so far okay. 🙂

    Like

  48. @Kathi:

    I am constantly amazed at Christians, many of whom are women, that rally to keep a woman in an abusive marriage.

    In the more dysfunctional of Islamic societies, it’s usually the older women who do the Honor Killing and female circumcision of the younger ones who stray.

    I wonder if anyone’s explained how that dynamic cam about and why?

    Like

  49. In regard to Leeman’s tweets, it’s a rather unrealistic assumption that an abused wife can and would stand up to her husband and say no. In a Piperized world, you are conditioned to believe submission and staying mum will “win your husband without a word.” Also you may be afraid to stand up for fear your husband will leave or treat you even worse. This doesn’t even take into account the emotional abuse i.e. gaslighting that may be going on where you are so brainwashed to believe that everything is your fault.

    Those who deny divorce for abuse probably don’t get the power and control motivation. If the wife is still legally bound, he can still exert control over her even if they are physically separated. If there is a divorce but she is not allowed to consider remarriage, she is still bound to the ghost of the abusive marriage. Add to that the emotional trauma that is exacerbated by having her identity tied to her husband’s sin. This does not seem consistent with Jesus’ mission to “set the captives free.”

    Liked by 4 people

  50. Headless Unicorn Guy.
    There have been a few books written on the topic. I’ve only read a few reviews or excerpts of them. I can’t remember the “why’s” behind why women pressure other women to do these things.

    In the United States, you can find a lower-level of female on female pressure to abide by social norms. I’ve experienced that, as have most all women who were raised in the U.S.A.

    My mother raised me and pressured me to fit a certain female ideal (specifically the complementarian June Cleaver 1950s housewife type).

    When I was a girl, I was tom boy. That did not go well with most of my other little female school mates when I was in elementary school because most of them fit the norm of girly girls. They liked pink and wearing frilly dresses and giggling about cute boys – none of that was stuff I was into. I preferred wearing jeans and sneakers.

    Girls are pressured to be very quiet, passive, non-competitive, even as soon as they are little kids. So, if you are a girl in 4th or 5th grade and you are opinionated, outspoken, daring (you don’t fit the sweet, passive and quiet stereotype) other girls will punish you by using social pressure.

    You will be snubbed at the lunch table. They won’t pick you for a team in gym class. They won’t invite you to their birthday parties. They will say nasty things about you under their breath as you walk by but stare you down so they know you know they are talking bad about you.

    Did you ever see the Lindsay Lohan movie ‘MEAN GIRLS’? (Link to IMDB page: movie: “Mean Girls”) It comes on cable TV every so often.

    That movie explains and shows how American teens act out girl- on- girl pressure to conform to societal / high school norms. I’d say it’s pretty accurate.

    Boys are socially conditioned to do the opposite: you guys are generally told to beat the tar out of another boy who annoys you, or to openly and loudly mock him to his face. Girls are taught all that “in your face” assertive stuff is a huge NO NO.

    There have also been studies showing how women are punished in the workplace (don’t get raises, etc) if they don’t abide by stereotypical feminine behaviors and roles.

    Anyway, right off hand, I don’t recall seeing any articles or books explaining why girls do this to each other. They just do.

    From personal experience, I can say because you’re not given a choice or you don’t feel as though you have one. You feel pressured by the other girls, teachers, and your parents to think the only way to be accepted and make friends is to go along with this nonsense. That’s part of it.

    You might feel resentful to see a girl who is not going along with it, who feels good about herself bucking the expectations. So maybe there’s some jealousy going on.

    Like

  51. In regard to Leeman’s tweets, it’s a rather unrealistic assumption that an abused wife can and would stand up to her husband and say no.

    I read this through my own filter as ‘stand up to the abuse by calling it out and then leaving or divorcing’. And I though, good job. But Leeman may not have actually meant quite the same thing.

    Like

  52. Barbara Roberts,

    With all due respect to you, Barbara:

    The only thing that I will add to what I have already posted is that the word, “Uncleanness” needs to be dissected a lot more. It’s the Hebrew word that we need to define, not an English word. It is specific in the definition, that it is pertaining to “nakedness”, and to be more blunt, the genitals. This is an anatomy, not an action of any sin. Do we not get it yet, that sexual immorality is the death penalty? Do we not get it yet that there is no such thing as a divorce, let alone a remarriage, for the case of “sexual immorality”? It’s just death. Being stoned is the means for sexual immorality, until you are dead.

    However, the subject of Deu 24 has nothing to do with sexual immorality to begin with.

    With all due respect to the expert theologians, but they all have this one wrong. Not all of us are Calvinists, or Catholics, and we do not subscribe to their theology in regards to Deuteronomy 24.

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Daisy–

    I am REAL!

    Yes, I have struggled to make decisions for myself and also been angry when people tried to help by telling me what to do! I wasn’t permitted to make any decisions as a teen–and then I got married to a controlling, irresponsible guy. The choices and decisions were his–and my job was to submit. And yet when the decisions he made left us many problems, it was also my job to solve the problems. Now I am learning to be assertive and make decisions, and it is scary for me.

    Also, since I believed that God would be angry at me for leaving, I felt like there was no way to leave. if someone told me to leave but also admitted that they didn’t take the Bible seriously I would think they just didn’t understand what my conscience would dictate. I am not judging you for your own journey, just telling you about the many thoughts that have gone through my mind at different times.

    I am still on a journey–as all of us are in life–and I do still live with my husband.

    Like

  54. Re: Q’s link.

    Oh goodness, no, we can’t have a “softening” on divorce teachings (to quote the paper you cited). Because that might lead to horrible things such as justice and grace to people who are in abusive marriages who want to leave.

    That was ten very long, long detailed pages. I skimmed over quite a bit of it.

    Thank goodness I have one foot out of the Christian faith now and can live my life as I see fit, rather than live by the dictates and legalistic interpretations of the text by some man that would tell me should I marry an abuser, I have to stay with him.

    Our divorce rate is fairly high in the United States, even among Christians. I have yet to see an incident where God has struck a divorcee’ with a lightning bolt for being divorced.

    Many Christians continue to act as though homosexuality and divorce are beyond the pale (note that they are acts by consensual adults – note also I am not saying divorce is a great thing – I suppose it’s sad when a marriage comes to an end, nor am I condoning homosexual behavior), but Christians who are strongly anti-homosexuality and anti-divorce tend to turn a blind eye, or merely shrug their shoulders over, domestic violence and child sex abuse in churches.

    Since I’ve backed away from the Christian faith the last few years, it’s hard for me to express just how silly and thoroughly bizarre I find the “nit picky-ness” some Christians are over some issues, divorce being one of them.

    Ten pages with tiny footnotes too. All basically to argue that people should stay married, even to abusers, and they should never remarry, otherwise they are a bimbo if they do.
    Wow. Utter insanity. I feel sorry for Christians who are still living totally in this bubble, who think this is normal. 😦

    Should I ever marry and then feel a need to divorce, I won’t bother looking up ten page studies by Christians telling me if I can or cannot or should or should not.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Irene // APRIL 19, 2016 @ 7:02 PM

    I didn’t mean to upset you or offend you in anyway.

    Some of your former posts that I read on older threads seemed rather emotional to me, and you sort of struck out at me out of the blue above, so I couldn’t tell if it was authentic (that is, you’re going through stuff and are emotional – which is fine if you are), or if you weren’t being sincere.

    I think it’s great you’re learning to be assertive. I hope you keep that up.

    I used to be passive and a doormat up until a few years ago, mostly because my mother, who was a very devout Christian with traditional values, brought me up to be that way.

    My mother’s understanding of being a devout Christian women was that women are supposed to be passive doormats, lack boundaries, and don’t speak their minds. (The same things Christian gender complementarians teach.)

    Some books that helped me learn to be assertive are (if you are interested and think these may be of benefit to yourself – you can read chapters of some of these for free on Google Books)…

    Boundaries – by Cloud and Townsend
    Twelve Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy – by Cloud and Townsend
    The Disease To Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome – by Harriet B. Braiker

    Books 1 and 2 are by Christian authors. I have no idea if Book 3 author is a Christian or not, but I found it helpful.

    I also wrote four or five blog posts about my situation, how I learned to have boundaries, be more assertive, and so on. In one or two the the posts, I also explain a little bit how my family background influenced me.

    Here is one of the posts I wrote (I think this is one where I mentioned more about my background a little):
    _Basic Overview of Codependency – And How Some Christians Misunderstand or Misrepresent Codependency_

    You said,

    if someone told me to leave but also admitted that they didn’t take the Bible seriously I would think they just didn’t understand what my conscience would dictate

    I used to be pretty similar to you.

    I just don’t know how to articulate to you how it is I’ve changed over the last few years. My mother passing away several years ago caused me to not only have doubts about the Christian faith but to really question what I believe and why.

    My understanding of the biblical text is still fairly traditional and conservative, but I do think a lot of Christians are perhaps overly- literal and legalistic with the Bible, as you can see in the post I did above about Q’s link to some paper about divorce.

    I see some principles in the Bible as being greater than some of the stated, specific rules in it.

    You have Q above in another post linking to this very long, anal retentive scholarly paper that is trying to disprove some other guy’s work about divorce. The guy who wrote this ten page long paper is basically arguing it’s wrong for people to divorce, and wrong for women to remarry, should they divorce.

    I look at all this, and I am in amazement. This guy and his ten page paper seems to miss some of the bigger pictures and concepts I see in the Bible.

    In the OT, God says he prefers mercy, not sacrifice – and this was back in the OT, when the Jews were supposed to be sacrificing animals for atonement.
    Jesus bickered with the Pharisees quite a bit for constantly putting “heavy yokes” on people’s shoulders. The OT had enough rules and laws as it was, but the Pharisees were wanting to add more, and/or make the OT ones even harder for people to follow. That ticked Jesus off.

    Jesus came to liberate people, to lift burdens. He taught people to follow the golden rule, to do unto others. He was about justice, fighting for the wounded and the victims.

    Even if God really does think divorce is a big, nasty sin, he forgives sin.

    God forgave David of orchestrating murder in the OT (though God did see that there were consequences to that).

    God knows all of us make mistakes and screw up. I think Christians are sometimes harder on themselves or on each other than God is.

    I’ve learned to let go of a lot of this stuff. Life becomes more enjoyable and easier to stop beating yourself up over things, or holding yourself to really high standards.

    (That’s another thing: I was a perfectionist for years because of my dad, who was very critical and demanding. I’ve learned to let go of the perfectionist standards, and it’s made life so much more enjoyable to live. I used to really beat myself up over making mistakes, or if I felt I had done something to offend God.)

    Sorry to ramble. I didn’t know how to explain what it was I was trying to say.

    Like

  56. Daisy–I think that person who jumped on you here a few months ago was me, not Irene. I am Irene’s friend and pretty fierce about wanting others to be kind to her. She is a much nicer person than me. So I’m glad I made an impression on you!! And I won’t have to jump on you again because you two have dialogued successfully here. I am trying to let her fight her own battles and she is doing VERY well lately. I have been tempted in the past to put out a contract on that husband of hers–juuust kidding–or not!! I’m not going to give out any Bible verse references here–just speaking my mind–something you do on a regular basis, Daisy!

    Like

  57. @ Nancyjane.
    I don’t really remember if Irene lashed out at me before personally. I was lurking on an older thread where she was posting.

    I don’t recall having posted anything to her before. It’s possible I did but don’t remember it. I also don’t know if I’ve seen your screen name before.

    I’m kind of taken aback by your post to me here. There is no need to attack me or threaten to attack me.

    Like

  58. Dear Daisy,
    concerning your April 19, 2016 @7:49 PM comment:

    I NEEDED to hear that personal testimony typed from your heart, for the humanistic condition called ‘perfectionism’ is a living and breathing mold/rot growing inside many a household in what I describe as visible christianity. But that is exactly what it is; a veneer glued to the soul of every human being, placed there by religious minds with tentacle fingers that reach out and expect such perfection that even they themselves, cannot achieve this godhood state.

    For me, I find it fascinating to read all of the names Jesus called these people who expected ‘perfectionism’ from others, and yet, did not clean out their own cups.

    Your words have given me a joyful contentment to begin my day here and I praise our LORD for you, precious Daisy. Your realness does minister to my soul.

    Like

  59. I used to really beat myself up over making mistakes

    I made a mistake in judgment last year and I have had so much trouble getting over it. I don’t really know how to get past it at all…

    Like

  60. I started to read the divorce paper by Robert Gagnon but I only got to this quote:

    What is at stake here? The practical implications of Instone-Brewer’s argument could be far-reaching. The broad classification of “material or emotional neglect” could be misused to permit divorce for almost anything.

    Well, excuse me, but who has the right to “permit” or “not permit” someone else to divorce? Whose business is it whether a marriage is working or not besides those 2 persons in the marriage?

    I am all for encouraging people to value their marriage and work on it, marriage does take work, it goes through seasons of challenge, and it’s not always easy. Sometimes people may be tempted to give it up when the marriage really is worth working on. But the idea that someone else has the power to “permit” or “not permit” someone else to divorce is wrong. We are not under law, we are under grace! This means we have liberty. We have the freedom to make choices and decisions. As Christians, we will want love and what we believe to be true to inform our decisions, but we have been given the freedom to use our judgment and make decisions. Sometimes love means weighing all the possible outcomes and making hard choices. I do not believe it is loving to enable another person to sin and abuse or to force children to live under those circumstances.

    My parents were not Christians but they had a strong belief in marriage and remained married “for the sake of the kids” even though the marriage had serious problems and there was no love there. Honestly, do your kids a favor and be done with it and stop trying to pretend it’s normal or more moral to live with misery. My parents finally divorced when I was an adult and it was such a relief to finally have a name for the problem and to realize where all the misery was coming from. It would have been easier for me to have had it all out in the open when I was growing up.

    Liked by 2 people

  61. Lea, I’ve been there. It can be so hard. Is it a matter of forgiving yourself or more having to deal with ongoing difficulty because of your mistake? Either one (or both) can be so hard to accept! As human beings, we’re going to make mistakes.

    Like

  62. NancyJane, I’m all for you encouraging Irene but do you think you are a bit overprotective? It’s one thing to encourage a person, another to micro-manage.

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  63. Irene, it seems like you are saying that you are a believing Christian who wants to please God and live by faith, you are struggling to make your way through a difficult or abusive marriage, and it’s not really helpful to you to have someone else say you should just stop believing in God or caring what he thinks, like you should just drop your faith in God along with your abusive marriage. Is that where you’re coming from? If so, I want to encourage you that there are many believers (and I am one) who do not believe that God requires a person to stay in an abusive situation.

    People often do not realize how very difficult it is to make decisions when you have never been given that luxury. It isn’t just that you have to come to understand that you have the right to make decisions- that issue alone is huge! But you also have to learn how.

    Many people who have lived in controlling situations for a long time have trouble even making the simplest judgments. They have not had any practice at it. They don’t even know what they want, they are so used to subduing any desires of their own. Secondly, they have been thoroughly oppressed by fear that to make a wrong decision could put them in grave danger. They may feel it’s safer to let other people make the decisions- you may be unhappy but at least you are safe (that is the feeling). The person who lives in this kind of situation is not allowed the luxury of making mistakes, either. Yet when you begin a new skill you have never practiced before, you have got to give yourself room to make mistakes. No one ever took up the piano and began playing perfectly right from the start. Every skill takes practice. And making decisions takes practice.

    These are the feelings that are involved in having lived a long time under a controlling, abusive situation. Breaking out of it can feel disorienting and overwhelming at first, like all of the structures your life is based on are dissolving and you can’t get your bearings.

    I just want to encourage you, if this has been your story (or any other reader) to start making decisions -even small ones- start practicing knowing what you want and don’t want, what you like and don’t like, and let yourself get used to your feelings. Let yourself make mistakes. It’s okay. It’s part of being a human being.

    The gospel is that Christ loves us in spite of our imperfections, not that he requires imperfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. Lea, I’ve been there. It can be so hard. Is it a matter of forgiving yourself or more having to deal with ongoing difficulty because of your mistake?

    Thank you. The only thing ongoing are the emotions. I’m not trying to be dramatic though. It’s really just kicking myself for being stupid.

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  65. Shy1–Sigh!! You are right about my being overprotective of Irene, but I am getting better as she becomes stronger. Thank you for your encouraging and understanding words to her!! And thank you to Daisy too, since you decided to encourage her instead of condemning her in her time of struggle!!

    Like

  66. Daisy,

    The link I supplied is a scholar, Robert A. J. Gagnon, that makes three points of concern with the scholar, Instone-Brewer, work used in this post. In it Gagnon states –

    “In my opinion, Instone-Brewer has made the best scriptural case, not only to date but also for the foreseeable future, for broadening the grounds for divorce and remarriageafter-divorce beyond the grounds of adultery, extreme physical abuse, and desertion that are normally accepted in evangelical churches.”

    Yet his concern is the thesis could be misused (“to permit divorce for almost anything) and the author (Instone-Brewer) may be misunderstanding the scriptures he is using.

    I believe he keeps it to 3 points to make it easier to follow.

    As far as it being “ten very long, long detailed pages”, and making derogatory comments i.e., “anal retentive” (ostensibly to keep people from reading it), if you take out the footnotes it’s actually about 1000 words smaller than the link you provided above and does not include multiple links. Instead of links he used footnotes, probably for the same reason you gave links, for further proof, understanding and convenience.

    Since most don’t want divorce misused, it’s probably worth reading a reasonable but contrary opinion. I wish he would make it into a YouTube with claymations or something.

    Like

  67. NancyJane, I get where you are coming from. No condemnation from me!

    Q, regardless of his scholarship or how many points he makes, the way I see it, he has no authority to decide if divorce is being “misused” or not. Only the people in the marriage know the conditions in that marriage. It’s between them and Christ, it’s not for other people pronounce judgement on exactly what kind of suffering or how much they must be suffering before they merit relief. It’s possible some people divorce for frivolous reasons but my experience is, if a Christian brother/sister’s marriage ends in divorce, you can trust that they agonized over it and did all they could to avoid it. You can trust that they are suffering plenty of pain without the judgment of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. the way I see it, he has no authority to decide if divorce is being “misused” or not. Only the people in the marriage know the conditions in that marriage.

    Indeed. Society wise, no fault divorce already exists. So anyone who wants out, can get out. If you are asking people to consider the Christian side of things, the only thing you are going to do is keep devout people in marriages, often bad ones, longer than they need to be. At least that seems to be how it works in practice.

    People can always lie about their reasons. Or they can tell the truth. It’s not up to someone who isn’t there to try to tell whether their reasons are true or not. All the stories I’ve read seem to indicate that pastors in particular can be really really bad at telling who is at fault…what is true…etc…

    Liked by 1 person

  69. Shy1 & Lea,

    It’s not about judgement and of course people can divorce by civil law for any reason. I just thought the Christians on here cared about what the bible says?

    And offered a differing opinion from another respected scholar.

    If it doesn’t matter what the bible says then this from JA’s post –

    “Understanding the original meaning and context of key verses can set women (and their children) free if they decide to divorce.”

    has no meaning.

    For those who do care about what the bible says, the following words are pretty sobering –

    “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

    It’s flippant and encouraging sin to say –

    “Even if God really does think divorce is a big, nasty sin, he forgives sin.”

    or

    “God forgave David of orchestrating murder in the OT (though God did see that there were consequences to that).”

    I guess I’ll take that advice, although it would have been helpful to know what order to do these things. Should I get a divorce and then murder or murder then get a divorce. Practically speaking, since murder has some consequences, it seems prudent to divorce first so I wont have to be concerned with those consequences until I’ve done both.

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  70. “Even if God really does think divorce is a big, nasty sin, he forgives sin.”

    I don’t think divorce in and of itself is a sin. There are several conditions where divorce is ‘allowed’ in the bible. It’s the evil done against one’s partner that is the sin, not protecting yourself from it.

    Other people can be nitpicky with the texts, I believe they sometimes can’t see the forest (gods love for us) for the trees (their narrow interpretations of the law). YMMV.

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  71. Yet his concern is the thesis could be misused (“to permit divorce for almost anything) and the author (Instone-Brewer) may be misunderstanding the scriptures he is using.

    I don’t understand how this makes sense. Currently many people in the church divorce for any reason. Instone-Brewer specifically labels some forms of divorce unbiblical. He says it is a “treacherous” divorce to leave one’s spouse just because you find someone you like more. And I don’t see where his work negates the idea that even if a divorce is biblically acceptable, forgiveness for breaking the vow is a possibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  72. I think it is the caviler (imo) way I-B recommends pastors not investigate cuses of divorce before officiating a remarriage…I suppose if what the bible says about marriage and remarriage is trivial a person might as well have a civil marriage, of course that wont be necessary as you can see by I-B’s advice.

    “Many evangelicals have rushed to accept his interpretation of New Testament divorce texts—no doubt, partly on humane grounds, partly out of self-interest, and partly as a way of accommodating to the high divorce rate among evangelicals.

    What is at stake here?

    The practical implications of Instone-Brewer‟s argument could be far-reaching. The broad classification of “material or emotional neglect” could be misused to permit divorce for almost anything. Indeed, Instone-Brewer himself recommends that pastors not investigate the circumstances of a person‟s divorce as a precondition to officiating at a remarriage. So long as the divorced person expresses repentance for breaking marriage vows the pastor can remarry the divorced person, whatever the circumstances of the divorce. While acknowledging that Jesus rejected the “any matter” divorce of the Pharisaic followers of Hillel, Instone-Brewer appears for all practical purposes to end up with “any matter” divorce for Christians or something very much like it.”

    Divorce and Remarriage-After-Divorce in Jesus and Paul:
    A Response to David Instone-Brewer
    Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

    Like

  73. Q said,

    As far as it being “ten very long, long detailed pages”, and making derogatory comments i.e., “anal retentive” (ostensibly to keep people from reading it), if you take out the footnotes it’s actually about 1000 words smaller than the link you provided above and does not include multiple links. Instead of links he used footnotes, probably for the same reason you gave links, for further proof, understanding and convenience.

    The guy’s paper was very long and anal retentive. That’s the truth, a description. I was not trying to discourage anyone from reading it. How could I? They are adults and can click on your link and go look at it if they like, that is what I did. Then I came back here and wrote my thoughts on it.

    I’ve stopped living my life by other people’s opinions or interpretations of the Bible. My life has become easier and more enjoyable as a result.

    BTW, I did not provide a link to that page – you did. I followed your link you gave, I think it was to a PDF? All I remember is that it was about ten pages long with a lot of tiny footnotes.

    Christians take topics such as divorce and other things and make them overly complicated. No thank you, I pass.

    Like

  74. Shy1 said,

    It’s possible some people divorce for frivolous reasons but my experience is, if a Christian brother/sister’s marriage ends in divorce, you can trust that they agonized over it and did all they could to avoid it.

    I agree.

    From what I’ve in books on domestic violence and from Christian women on blogs, a lot of Christian women stay in abusive marriages far, far much longer than most would, or maybe should, because they think if they leave the spouse they are displeasing God, or what not.

    BTW, I enjoyed your other posts in this thread, especially your post of APRIL 20, 2016 @ 8:49 AM.

    You said some of the things I was trying to but didn’t do a good job at, or things I was thinking but didn’t consider writing down.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. Q said,

    Shy1 & Lea,
    It’s not about judgement and of course people can divorce by civil law for any reason. I just thought the Christians on here cared about what the bible says?

    If people don’t agree with your interpretation of the Bible, or with your emphasis on a topic within the Bible, that means they don’t “care about what the Bible says”?

    Anyway. Here is what I and a few others have been trying to get at, since you seem to be the type of Christian who unfortunately only responds to BCV (Book Chapter Verse):

    Mark 2

    One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.

    24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

    25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?
    26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

    27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

    Luke 13

    Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

    15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
    16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

    17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

    John 5

    (Jesus speaking): 9 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
    40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

    Those Pharisees and scribes knew their Scriptures really well, and really, really, really cared about God’s opinion and what the Scriptures, said and still managed to misuse the Bible, misunderstand it, and not recognize their own Messiah when he was standing right in front of them, even performing miracles.

    Mark 7.

    5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
    6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
    “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    7 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’
    8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

    9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe] your own traditions!
    10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[d] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’
    11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—
    12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

    Matthew 23


    23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin.
    But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.
    You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

    Vehemently anti divorce Christians like to strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. They see the tree not the whole forest. They generally think man was made for marriage, not marriage for man.

    Liked by 2 people

  76. @ Lea // APRIL 20, 2016 @ 1:51 PM

    I don’t think divorce is a sin, either. I was presenting my argument from the view of someone who might think that it is and addressing it from that vantage point.

    Liked by 1 person

  77. Daisy,

    Just for clarity I think you misunderstood me, the paper with the link I provided actually has less words than the link you provided…

    “if you take out the footnotes it’s actually about 1000 words smaller than the link you provided above and does not include multiple links. Instead of links he used footnotes, probably for the same reason you gave links, for further proof, understanding and convenience.”

    I don’t live my life by how others interpret the word either, I learned that early on but in a church setting it can be difficult for some. Also I have my own issues with the church, Calvinism, authoritarian leadership……… that is so prominent today, but do believe the bible…and want to live by it.

    Like

  78. Maybe the longer page I linked to was easier to read… your guy was an intellectual type with lots of tiny foot notes.

    If I am going to read a longer paper, I prefer ones aimed at lay persons.

    Like

  79. Q said,

    “I don’t live my life by how others interpret the word either, I learned that early on but in a church setting it can be difficult for some. … but do believe the bible…and want to live by it.”

    No, you’ve made it pretty clear in some of your posts here that if others don’t agree with your views on divorce or dont put as much emphasis on that topic, they don’t take the Bible seriously.

    It sure looks to me like you want others to be bound by your interpretation of what the Bible says about divorce, or by the guy whom you linked to with all the footnotes.

    Christians cannot agree on what the Bible says. It’s pretty much a waste of time to base your entire life and choices on “wanting to live by it.”

    Like

  80. daisy, I was more just making a general comment…since I see a lot of things described as sin in certain circles (not you) that don’t really seem like sin. (Like ‘anger’ and ‘gossip’- which to some people seems to mean talking about a true thing that happened to you or warning others to be wary of evil men)

    Liked by 1 person

  81. If anyone wants to see, or needs to see, the insanity that can come about by wanting to live one’s life, every facet of it, down to the smallest detail, by what the Bible says-

    Please check out this summary of a Table of Contents of a book by some Christian guy (I think someone up thread on the other blog said he was a Puritan preacher?),
    who wrote a book for Christians on how to “biblically” live all aspects of their lives:

    Post on T-W-W blog by mierele Re: Book: the Practical Works of Richard Baxter

    After having seen that guy’s very long TOC on how to live the Christian life, I second mierle’s “Yikes!!”

    Like

  82. Shy1 –

    “Q, regardless of his scholarship or how many points he makes, the way I see it, he has no authority to decide if divorce is being “misused” or not. Only the people in the marriage know the conditions in that marriage. It’s between them and Christ, it’s not for other people pronounce judgement on exactly what kind of suffering or how much they must be suffering before they merit relief. It’s possible some people divorce for frivolous reasons but my experience is, if a Christian brother/sister’s marriage ends in divorce, you can trust that they agonized over it and did all they could to avoid it. You can trust that they are suffering plenty of pain without the judgment of others.”

    Q seems to be of a perspective that most Christians approach divorce from a “frivolous” perspective, instead of believing that they have approached it with a broken and contrite attitude. It seems to me that most people, especially Christians, agonize over it. If they don’t, that is between them and God, and the people they may injure in the process.

    Like

  83. There is a Baxter book on the shelf in my home. (Don’t ask.) I read an excerpt where he recommended that church elders go into homes to personally see and pronounce who were true Believers or not. If they were not Believers, they could not participate in church.

    Like

  84. The life of grace is so easy to miss. Law is constantly seeking to co opt us away from Christ and into following rules. It begins innocently- we love the Lord so we want to please him. We want to know what he cares about, what he wants of us. So we start reading not so much to learn of his person and character, but to find rules to follow. It’s a subtle difference but it leads in a whole different direction.

    Like

  85. Q, I appreciate your concern for the Bible. I grew up in a Calvinist tradition and have only recently started to see trouble with some of the writings. Gagnon appears very thorough, but I’m not sure that his interpretation is necessarily correct.

    First of all Gagnon defends that divorced women who are divorced for unbiblical reasons should only remarry their former spouse, then he posits a general rule: “This parenthetical remark suggests a general principle: a divorced woman should not remarry anyone other than her original husband.” The exception is removed.

    The second thing is that Jesus’s teaching is really difficult to grasp. “From the beginning it was not so.” In other words, in the Garden of Eden, there was no divorce. Well, of course there wasn’t! So, yes, divorce in the law of Moses is due to the hardness of heart of the man (and woman, perhaps), and the very real effects of sin.

    So, now we’re in this legalistic quandary. Without sin, there would be no divorce, but because of sin there is divorce. Now, how exactly should we go down the rabbit hole. For example, Jesus says, “except for immorality [porneia]”. So, who are we to define this word as specifically physical fornication? For example, Jesus says, “but I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman in lust has already committed adultery in his heart.” So, we could, perhaps, take it to the fullest extent and say that “heart fornication” is grounds for divorce, based on the equivalence of sin in the heart and sin action.

    But, I think that we need to be careful with seemingly exclusive statements. I would like to see someone take Prov 26:4-5 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.”

    So, I have a problem with trolls. Do I ignore them, or do I flame them? The Bible seems to say both, or neither. We can’t take verses like this out of the context of the greater Bible, or even the culture.

    One thing Gagnon doesn’t mention is that 1st century Jewish women could not generally support themselves. That is why the neglect of the widows in Acts 6 is such a HUGE deal. They had no means of support. So, if Gagnon is right, Jesus (and Paul) are saying that women who are “illegally” divorced should remarry, or starve to death.

    My conclusion is that we should take this statement like the Sermon on the Mount. It is true, yes, but it was spoken more for the shock value of how deep our sin is than trying to give us an instruction book on how to handle marital conflict. Consider that another version of the same statement occurs in Matthew 5, right after how we should pluck out our eye if it makes us stumble.

    Like

  86. “I started to read the divorce paper by Robert Gagnon but I only got to this quote:

    What is at stake here? The practical implications of Instone-Brewer’s argument could be far-reaching. The broad classification of “material or emotional neglect” could be misused to permit divorce for almost anything.”

    This is how most of them start out with a refutation of I-B. Piper, too. As if most Believers are so stupid they would divorce over not taking out the garbage on time as neglect.

    Rarely do they take on his contextual Hebrew scholarship. A bit tough to do since he is a Hebrew scholar who takes the whole pericope into consideration.

    Piper goes back to Genesis 3 to make his ridiculous case for stupid evil deceived women who want to rule over men. But Piper is no scholar. And Gruden has proven over and over he plays fast and loose with scholarship to make his point. This is a man who once used the writing of Epiphanius to prove his thesis Junia was a man, conveniently leaving out he also claimed Priscia was a man, too.

    But one thing is usually the case, they don’t take on the I-B’s Hebrew.

    So the scholarly question is not how far people interpret neglect ( where was this ancient woman going to go- live in a cave? Neglect has cultural/contractual implications) but whether or not neglect is a viable interpretation and what that meant in the contractural relationship within the law. Then we need historical context for the Pharisee use of “any cause” divorce for which Jesus was speaking. That last part is usually left out or sorely interpreted.

    My view is when they start badly they usually end badly so like you I didn’t bother to go on. Back when I was really researching this it was this same thing over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

  87. lydia00

    Based on what I wrote way way way above, my conclusions, which by the way shows that the original question by the Pharisees had nothing to do with divorce, but “PUT AWAY” (AKA Send away), is that the Pharisees were allowing “send away” for any reason, not requiring a divorce. And THAT alone is what causes adultery when the sent away spouse “marries” another person, because that “another” person is really an additional person. The old marriage was not severed by divorce.

    This is the basis for my argument, because there is no such thing as a divorce for the cause of adultery in the days of Jesus. No such thing. It’s just death.

    I can’t believe that people interpret Deuteronomy 24 as that an adulterous women can get a divorce, and then remarry. How is that possible when she is supposed to be dead?

    How did the experts miss that part? The experts really believe that Jesus states that the only reason to divorce was for the cause of adultery. That is impossible. The man is to be a widow, not divorced. Was the law of Moses abolished when Jesus walked the earth? No. So. how is the dead adulterous wife supposed to remarry?

    How did the experts miss that part?

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  88. “The life of grace is so easy to miss. Law is constantly seeking to co opt us away from Christ and into following rules. It begins innocently- we love the Lord so we want to please him. We want to know what he cares about, what he wants of us. So we start reading not so much to learn of his person and character, but to find rules to follow. It’s a subtle difference but it leads in a whole different direction.”

    It is a mistake to think God did not practice grace in the OT. Sadly, it follows the scary false dichotomy of a mean OT God vs the nice NT Jesus of determinism as if they are different gods. I fear we make way too much of the law and its place in the OT, anyway. That was part of the Pharisee problem. Ironically, John the Baptist got it and was outside that system. Not that you meant that but going down that road has serious problems that lead to cheap grace for ‘Christian” abusers and predators. A huge problem today because of that false dichotomy.

    Like

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