A domestic violence survivor (and friend of mine) recently posted a comment on Facebook regarding Dr. Wayne Grudem’s newly changed opinion regarding divorce because of abuse. She gave me permission to post her comments here on the blog. She goes by the pseudonym, Sandy Beach.
Grudem’s previous beliefs were noted in his recent paper describing how he came to change his opinion:
A. The position of my 2018 book Christian Ethics: only two biblically-sanctioned grounds for divorce (adultery and desertion by unbeliever, based on Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:15)
1. This has been the most common Protestant position since the Reformation
Westminster Conf. of Faith, Chapter 24, para. 6:
nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage . . .
Domestic Survivor Speaks Out Regarding Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Change of Opinion on Divorce for Abuse in Marriage
By Sandy Beach
Grudem may allow divorce for abuse if severe enough and reconciliation is not successful. He encountered 2 women victims and re-checked his Greek. CT article.
Is it just me or are other survivor women unimpressed by this? One man changes his mind and decides we survivors had justification in trying to survive abuse by divorcing. He is hailed a hero and now finally evangelical women will now be allowed to leave because a VIP theologian changed his mind?
Now pastors will sing a different tune. It’s like Moses just came down from the mountain again. But don’t forget, church men still get to decide if you’re suffering is severe enough to qualify for divorce in their book.
And…remember: “However, he clarified that restoration is still the first goal when the question of divorce comes up. If the abusing spouse is a Christian, then counseling and church discipline should be pursued, but if abuse doesn’t stop then a church leader should consider that this may be a case where the victim is free to seek a divorce.” (Marriage counseling is not appropriate when abuse is in the marriage. Counseling 101. Whatever the presenting issue was, it is now overshadowed by the reality and impact of abuse. No point in working on communication or intimacy with an abuser.)
As if abusers don’t snow church leaders and dramatically act repentant all while ramping up the abuse because he is enraged his wife outed him! I didn’t read an apology to all the women who stayed believing the previous teaching of Grudem and other men that they could not genuinely love the Lord and divorce their abuser. Thousands of women in the evangelical world have felt they could not leave a marriage that left them longing for death at times.
I suppose I should be happy about this change in policy. To me it simply reinforces all that is and has been abuse-perpetuating in the church.
Wayne and sanctimonious evangelical pastors won’t crawl in bed tonight wondering if they have to have sex with the husband who treated them with contempt today and try again tomorrow to make a marriage work they are committed to, yet don’t know how to survive. This is not a theoretical debate. Christian women victims got married committed to making their marriage work. Many of us didn’t even know there were evil men like their husbands proved to be. The thought of divorcing bothers these women even more than it does the marriage police.
Most tried their guts out for years before daring to talk to a pastor about even a part of the marriage they lived in. Seriously, who do these men think they are? And women, why are you letting these men control the decisions you will live out-not them? I understand. I really do. Nothing is clear when the fog of abuse is compounded with your beliefs and convictions about marriage, many of which are distorted and destructive.
Many Jesus-loving women have been so desperate to survive, they have divorced in spite of the judgement, lack of support, public shame/blame, spiritual abuse, and isolation.
They chose fear of the future, financial insecurity, social stigma, loss of their family and church support system over one more day in a marriage that was draining them of health, hope and strength. They anguished over the unknown impact on the kids if she stays or goes. Both options were bleak. Next time you meet a divorced survivor, look in her eyes with kindness and ask yourself how bad it had to be to risk all she did.
Truly, a woman can stay so long she loses the capacity physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to muster the courage it takes to leave an abuser. They don’t just simply let their victim walk away. The torment amps up to new levels as he mounts a smear campaign and poisons the people and places she thought provided safety. Often, he continues his attempts to alienate the children from their mother, a feature of an abuser even when married.
What kind of ivory tower has Grudem lived in that he is just now encountering two of the multitude of women who live or lived with decades of sexual abuse and assault at the hands of their “Christian”husband? And an abusive mentality never limits itself to the bedroom. It impacts how the abuser processes life and what he expects of relationships. It is especially diabolical when supported by Scripture and the focus on being “biblical.”
I’ll be impressed when experts like Lundy Bancroft are invited to address the SBC and gatherings such as Grudem’s group convenes. “But he isn’t a Christian!” I’m coming to think that distorted Christian teachings make us less likely than unbelievers to recognize or respond well to abusers or victims. This must change.
Also, is marriage so odious for many Christian women that the men are afraid there will be an all-out run for the door if they give an inch? That sure seems to be the impression, “If we don’t tell them they aren’t allowed to leave under any or few circumstances, they will start divorcing willy-nilly.” Have they never watched closely as a woman faces the heartbreak of divorce – even when instigated by her? It isn’t something God fearing women do because they got a wild hair. We must do better. So much better.