Woman Feels Spiritually Trapped after Having Grown up in a Conservative Reformed Christian Homeschool Family

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I found Ann’s comment (below) in moderation, but felt it deserved a wider audience than where it was intended to be posted. Ann’s story most certainly is not unique. Her struggle goes along with the previous two posts on abuse in marriage, but is compounded with a childhood of teachings that have been harmful to so many. It’s easy to  copy and paste Ann’s personal story into a blog post, but think about what it’s like to live in Ann’s shoes, and the confusion she faces – daily. Ugh!! There are so many Anns out there.  ~Julie Anne


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by Ann

I grew up as a conservative homeschooled, Gothard-influenced, reformed Christian who kissed dating goodbye and married at 18 years old to an older guy I thought was a solid Godly man. Those 26 years of marriage are now known as one big deceitful lie and filled with the most heart-breaking trauma, some of which I knew and have been trying to process for years, and others I’ve been blindsided and destroyed by.

It’s been a surreal journey to work though so many years and memories that are remembered as one thing and yet known now as another. I feel trapped in a splintered mirror only able to look out into the real world, and no matter how hard I rage and pound against it, this fractured reality keeps insisting that IT’S the ‘real world’ and has been all along.

And through it all is the crushing guilt and self loathing for loving someone who turned out to be a monster, for not protecting my child better, for trusting and believing the best of people, especially the church, and for letting this shatter my faith in God. This faith is slowly finding it’s feet again, but on new ground, as I watch it grow back and study it from all angles trying to understand and make sense of it.

One of the areas of faith that has been weighing on me recently that I’m feeling unsettled about is that while I have a true gratefulness and belief in God’s forgiveness for me and place my hope and trust in that truth, there is also a separate part of myself that cannot forgive myself for my failures, nor do I have the slightest idea on how I’d begin that process. I see these two truths coexist inside me and they don’t exactly feel at conflict with each other- just exist parallel to each other, if that makes sense.

My former reformed theology tells me that it’s my pride that cannot fully embrace God’s forgiveness for me and that I need to confess this in order to move on, find true freedom and peace. Problem is, I don’t feel prideful, just broken. And the whole thing is really depressing as I still believe that trust in the saving grace of Jesus is necessary for salvation –  and to reject this, or disbelieve it, is an act not in keeping with the salvation He offers. I want Jesus. I want to belong to Him and be safe in Him, and this nagging doubt terrifies me.

Anyway, I’d appreciate prayer about this and that I’d be able to find my way clearly.

 

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An Abusive Marriage, Well-Meaning Christians, and God’s Word

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I ran across a post on Facebook that a friend wrote. Flo Fromer-Wedding posted about the spiritual tug-of-war process she went through while she was in an abusive marriage.  Unfortunately, the church is often a volatile place for abused women to get help, especially when there is greater emphasis on the “covenant of marriage,” than the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of individuals in the marriage.

I think Flo’s words might resonate with many, and for others, might help as they navigate these difficult waters, while still trying honor God and do the right thing. ~Julie Anne

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By Flo Fromer-Wedding

I love God’s Word.. I love it so much, in fact, that I resolved many years ago to obey it… even the parts I “didn’t like” or understand. My resolution came with a great price to me personally. It led to a breakdown of my mental and emotional health… It led to a willingness to let go of all control in my life, and even more tragically, it led to me stand back and keep quiet when I should have intervened on behalf of my children. In God’s Name I unknowingly allowed their emotional health to be compromised! All this, because of the written Word of God, devoid of the Spirit of God!

I will never forget the words someone spoke to me or how I felt when they said them… and the light that turned on inside of my head ….. “you not only have a right to protect yourself from abuse, you also have a right AND a RESPONSIBILITY to protect your children.”

THIS shed a whole new light on the situation I had so firmly resolved to stay committed to “til death do us part”. Those words opened my eyes to a bigger picture, one which gave me, not only the freedom, but the responsibility to GIVE IN to the still small voice of the Spirit that had been whispering truth to my heart for so many years….(the voice that seemed to contradict the written word that had been pounded in to my head for so many years!)

I finally gave in to the truth… I gave in and saw JESUS in a way I had never seen Him before, and He opened the floodgates of truth, bringing freedom, and leaving in it’s path, the damaged remains of a life built on some other person’s (many other’s) interpretation of God’s “clear” Word.

How my heart aches to go back and follow the voice of the Spirit, Who is the ONLY one who can bring us to an understanding of God’s written Word. How much damage could I have prevented for myself and my loved ones had I not been so submissive to the “authorities” in my life?

In the hand of satan (and whoever chooses to follow his ways, knowingly or unknowingly) the written Word of God becomes a weapon of destruction…not a breath of Life! I have tasted the Word from both sources now and I can never go back! One brings bondage of the worst kind, in which you believe, while begging God to give you strength to endure and stay committed “to His Word”, that somehow God will be glorified through it.  😞

No, the written Word of God is only alive and powerful (in a good way) through the Spirit of Christ. Without the breath of God, it is a handbook for dead religion.

When I tuned my ears to hear, and freed my heart to acknowledge truth…. When I fixed my eyes directly on Jesus and my heart fell head over heels in love with Him… THIS is when I felt the Spirit correcting my understanding of Scripture… the understanding that had held me and my children captive to abuse. It was at this time that Scripture came alive to me and I began to see the healing power of Jesus in my own life. It was at this time that God’s Spirit began to write songs through me… 12 in one year… because I had so much bubbling up inside of me. I was coming alive, even through the pain and the fears of a very unknown future. I could not contain it so it came out in songs…. songs that would become a testimony to myself and others of what God had done and was doing for me.

All this came when I rejected my “clear” understanding of the written words and I reclaimed those same written words with new understanding through the Spirit. One brought death, the other Life. How can that be… they were the same words I had read all my life? The difference is the teacher,and there are MANY teachers!

Yes, I have suffered condemnation from some of my brothers and sisters in Jesus because they have an understanding of “God’s written Word” and clearly I am in sin. I have learned to live with this condemnation but I reject it… I know it is not from God.

I have decided to follow Jesus… no turning back and no matter the cost… and while there may be condemnation from other Christians , there is NO condemnation in Christ. For that I am grateful. I desire, more than anything, to hear and walk according to the Spirit of Truth… I pray for wisdom and understanding of God’s Word through the power of His Spirit, but if I do not speak the Word in accordance with the Spirit of God, with His heart and with His truth, then I hope I do not speak it at all.

If you have never experienced the suffocating, life-sucking religious bondage that comes from submitting to the idols others have made in the Name of God’s Word… then you may never understand what I am saying here today. I know this is not the kind of testimony that is welcome in many churches… Still it is MY testimony. I am thankful for the ministry of the Spirit as He breathed Life into the written Words on a page and made them come alive to me, for only then, did they become the power that has set me free.

 

Photo credit:  Source

 

Biblical Counseling and Domestic Abuse

Biblical Counseling, Domestic Abuse, Victim Safety, Heath Lambert

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-by Kathi

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) will be holding their annual meeting this fall addressing Biblical counseling and abuse. Leading up to this event I thought it might be a good idea to look at how Biblical counseling addresses domestic abuse.

Heath Lambert is the Executive Director of ACBC and spoke on Restoration After Abuse. In this speech, he discusses two extremes of how Christians respond to abuse. Christians will either tell a victim to get out of the abusive relationship or they will tell the victim to submit more and pray more. He then offers a lengthy response on how to help a victim to restore relationship yet keep her safe.

And so that’s the tension. We want to aim for restoration. We want to believe that this abusive man can change and their marriage can be restored, but we also need to be sure that we’re doing what we can do to keep this woman safe. And so that is the tension, and I think the way you resolve it is with a couple of different things.

One is: violent men have to be separated from their wives and their families for a season in order to establish trust. There has to be some kind of separation here. Usually that’s going to mean the people in the church, if it’s possible, removing him from the home, giving him a place to stay so that the wife and kids can operate in their home in an as uninterrupted a way as possible. If that’s not possible, and if you have a very violent man who’s not listening to reason, then you might have to have the wife and her kids come stay with a family in the church or with a family member or some place else safe. But there has to be some separation so that we can figure out what’s going on and so that we can establish trust. In the early stages of dealing with this, one of the principles that I’ve observed is that a husband only sees his wife during times of intense counseling. (bolding added)

And so you’re out, you’re staying somewhere else, you’re staying with a friend, you’re in an apartment or your family is out staying some place else, and the time you’re with your wife is when you’re meeting for counseling or to work on the problems. And you should have a situation where you’re getting intensive counseling certainly in the early weeks where two, three times a week you’re meeting together to deal with the urgent issues that have come from this revelation of abuse. (bolding added)

I will address the potential of setting up a stalking situation later, but the first issue with this scenario that stands out is when a violent husband is separated from his wife the only time he is to see her is during intense counseling. No, no, NO! Couples counseling is good when there are relationship issues. Abuse is not a relationship issue! Abuse is about power and control by the abusive partner.

Couples counseling implies that the problem of abuse lies with both partners. Abuse is always the perpetrator’s problem, not the victim’s problem. Abusers may sabotage counseling sessions by attempting to get the counselor on his side. On the other hand, if the counselor is siding with the victim, the abuse may increase as the abuser tries to regain power and control of the relationship. A victim may not feel safe to speak up about her experiences for fear of retaliation, and an abuser will not be totally honest about his actions. Couples counseling is neither the best option nor the best practice when abuse is present.

A victim needs to seek individual counseling to deal with the trauma of her abuse. Likewise, a perpetrator committed to change needs to seek counseling that specializes in treating abusers.

Heath Lambert’s counseling solution continues on with:

 Slowly, over time you can begin to increase the amount of supervised time that a couple spends together. We will be together, but we’ll go out with some couple friends of ours who know about the problem who are working with us. Or maybe a Christian couple who is coming with us to go to the park and our kids can play while we sit and talk. And then after that’s gone on for a while and you’re making progress, then you can slowly increase the amount of unsupervised time. This would be where a husband takes his wife on a date. They go out to dinner, they go out to do something fun together, and they’re alone, but they’re alone in public, and they’re alone for a shorter amount of time so that we can continue to evaluate this kind of thing. Eventually, you want to slowly begin to reestablish the couple in the same house. And I say you slowly want to do that, and that might be the husband comes home from work, has dinner, helps put the kids to bed, but then goes and stays where he’s been staying for a while. Slowly establish them in the house.

Then maybe he spends the weekend, and we’re just establishing that this seems that it’s going well. Through all of that we’re watching two things: we’re watching one, the comfort level of the wife. She knows this guy. She knows him better than anybody else. And if she is saying, “I feel really good about this. I think he’s different,” then that really is a judgment that matters. And on the other hand, if she’s saying, “Something’s not right. He’s acting strangely,” then that is a judgment that really matters as well.  So we’re watching for her response and paying attention to that. And then, the other thing we’re watching are signs of repentance from him.

The point there is to give some indicators of what it looks like when someone who is guilty of sin is really turning at the level of their heart from that sin. We want to be as Christians watching this man to see is he demonstrating these marks of repentance. If he’s not, we have a problem, but if he is, we can start to feel good about these slow, steady steps towards restoration, but also keeping this woman safe in the midst of this process.

Back to the potential stalking situation….This scenario is focusing on a violent abuser. Does the counselor even consider the fact that when a violent, controlling abuser is separated from his victim he will probably do all he can to find her? Abusers don’t give up their victims that easily. Are they that naive that a violent abuser will easily agree to separation?

Lambert suggests that everything is done purposefully to ensure the victim’s safety. How is the progression of monitored date nights to moving back in together keeping the victim safe? Who is ensuring that the violent husband is following all the steps? Is there a third party spending the weekend at the home during home visits to make sure the violent spouse is non-violent? This is a recipe for disaster.

In the world of victim advocacy, safety plans are developed with victims for the purpose of the victim to identify ways to keep herself safe. A good safety plan is tailored to an individual’s unique situation. The scenario above is far from safety planning!

I am guessing that Heath Lambert is considered the expert of Biblical counseling since he is the Executive Director of ACBC. I strongly question his qualifications as an expert in abusive behavior and abusive power dynamics if this is his solution when dealing with a violent offender. This leaves me extremely concerned for how Biblical counselors will be trained in October to assist victims of domestic abuse. More importantly, I am concerned about the safety of domestic abuse victims who go to any “Biblical counselors” for help.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and would like help please email us at SpiritualSB@gmail.com. Or, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 to speak with a victim advocate.

 

**Updated to add: I plan on writing more about how Biblical counseling addresses abuse. If you have experience of going through Biblical counseling to deal with domestic abuse and would like to share your story, please email us or send us a private message through our Facebook page. You may share anonymously and share as little or as much as you would like. We want to honor your story.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Feminism: Is it a rebellion against God?

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I’m just going to plop this video link into this post and see what happens. It’s only 2 minutes, 36 seconds. That’s it. Below is my attempt at transcribing someone speaking off the cuff (a little challenging on the punctuation, just sayin’).  ~ja

 

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Are you a feminist? Are you a feminist? My guess is feminism has influenced you. And
maybe it’s not the kind of feminism that [says] true feminism means that all women must be lesbian, that we have to have contraceptions [sic] for everyone, that we have to be able to terminate babies if we want to. I don’t mean that kind of feminism. I don’t even mean the kind of feminism that says equal pay for equal work.

But I know you’re a feminist or you’ve been influenced by feminism when I tell you this:  the Bible says, “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.”

Case closed.

I can hear you, “What about this –  what about that –  my husband’s an unbeliever?’

Well, read  1 Peter 3. You’ve been influenced by feminism, and I know I have, because when I say these words, it’s difficult, “Wives submit to your own husbands,” – it’s a command.

You say, “Well I’m more spiritual, I’ve got a higher IQ, you don’t know about my husband.” “Wives submit to your own husbands,” that’s exactly what the text says, “as to the Lord.”

And then Paul ties it to the church, “for the husband is head of the wife even as Christ is head of the church, His body, and He Himself is the Savior.”

And so what do we do to try to get out of the feminism trap? I mean, I haven’t even said yet, “Wives do you obey your husbands?” and, “Sarah obeyed Abraham, even calling him what — Lord.”

I haven’t even gotten there, but we are so influenced –  we are so eager, so egalitarian, not just with function, but with nature, and both and vice versa, that we can’t say “you know, we are equal, my wife is more godly than I am. She is more spiritual. She does all the things in light of Christ’s work better than I do. I think she is more godly, but I am the head of the household. Why? Because God decrees that.

And I’ll tell you what happens: people who are feminists have the same problem that’s found in antisemitism.

You say, “How do you equate those? Don’t call me names.” It is a revolt against the sovereignty of God. God says, “I picked the Jews and no one else. These are my people – my covenant people.” And everybody freaks out.

And then God says, “In marriage, here’s how it works: husbands are the leaders; wives are the followers. Wives are their submitters.”

And so the rebellion isn’t really against masculinity, it’s a rebellion against God, himself.

Are you a feminist?

K.B. Davies Says Domestic Violence is No Excuse for Divorce Even in Case of Death

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-by Kathi

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K.B. Davies frequently comments on Lori Alexander’s Facebook page, The Transformed Wife. Lori allows his comments to stay and doesn’t challenge them. Why Lori leaves comments from men like K.B. and Trey unchallenged is mind boggling. Personally, I would distance myself as far away as possible from someone who uses the Bible to support domestic abuse. The fact that he comments on a women’s-only teaching page is for another day.

Digging a little deeper, he blogs and markets himself with the following: “Transformational Change Agent. Thought Leader. Spiritual Coach. Author & Speaker. Self Development. Personal Growth.”

K.B. Davies recently posted this on his Facebook page: Continue reading

Analysis: Paige Patterson’s Teachings on Domestic Violence Keep Victims in Harm’s Way

Paige Patterson, Domestic Violence, SBC, Divorce

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Over the weekend, an old recording of an interview from 2000 with Paige Patterson resurfaced, causing an uproar because of his response regarding domestic violence. Paige Patterson is a prominent Southern Baptist leader and president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS).

I have been familiar with this recording for several years, but numerous attempts to address this issue have been ignored. Until now – when the world is paying attention to sexual abuse, harassment, and violence against women especially. It’s about time! Patterson caught wind of the responses and felt he was misrepresented, so he issued a statement yesterday (April 29th). As of this writing, both The Washington Post and Christianity Today have picked up the story.

I have taken a close look at the transcription from the interview and the new statement. The old statement is shown in orange font, the new statement is in purple font and indented. My editorial comments are in black. While Paige Patterson has attempted to clarify his position on domestic violence and respond to the recent firestorm, his new statement in his press release leaves me even more confused. He contradicts his original statement. The new statement sounds more like a fairy tale, rather than a factual incident. Continue reading

God Loves Victims More Than Saving an Abusive Marriage

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Personal Story: What Did the Church Teach You about Yourself?

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Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Ken Alexander has the Final Word

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Submission, Control, Godly Marriage

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Comment and response on The Transformed Wife, 2/13/18

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14   Chapter 15   Chapter 16   Chapter 17

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Chapter 18 – A Way to a Man’s Heart… Continue reading

A Personal Story and a Sad Conclusion When Pastors Failed to Respond Appropriately to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, Church response, Rob Porter


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Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – “Healthy,” One of Lori’s Favorite Buzz Words

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Healthy Living

 

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Owen, the Watch Dog, does not approve of this book.

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14   Chapter 15   Chapter 16

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Chapter 17 – Serving Healthy Foods Means Healthy Families

We’re getting to the point in the book where I’m wondering why some of these chapters are even in here. I’m beginning to feel like they’re merely pages to fill up a book. The last chapter was about decluttering your home, and this one is about healthy food and DIY household cleaners. Which leads me to question:

What does this have to do with being a “transformed wife?” Continue reading

BREAKING: Leaders at Doug Wilson’s Christ Church Put Woman in Abusive Marriage Under Church Discipline

Mike Lawyer, Counseling, Abuse in Marriage, Abuse of Authority

I have been in contact with a woman named Gen, who has agreed to let me post this letter she received from Mike Lawyer, “on behalf of Christ Church Session.” Christ Church is Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow, Idaho. If you would like to learn more about Doug Wilson and his extra-biblical and spiritually abusive ways, see his name in “Categories” in the side bar.

Gen told me she was in an abusive marriage. She was not physically abused, but was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. She and her husband sought counseling, and were in counseling both together and separately.

Gen also told me that she didn’t respond appropriately to the abuse – that she reacted by yelling and crying. I don’t think that’s an inappropriate response to abuse, do you? That seems very normal. I’m not sure where she learned that she was responsible for her response, but that concerns me because it takes the focus off the perpetrator and places it on the survivor – as if they are both equal sinners.

This following letter was sent to Gen on January 18, 2018. Mike Lawyer has decided he knows her spiritual condition and has determined that she is not living up to being a proper wife, etc. Because of her “unwillingness” to deal with her sins, she is being put in church discipline.

It’s important to understand that Doug Wilson believes that husbands are the heads of the home. He believes in Patriarchy. If husbands are the priests of the home, who do you think they would believe first, the husband or the wife? Continue reading

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Stuffing Feelings and Pretending to Be Joyful

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Trusting God, Emotions

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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14

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Chapter 15 – The Disciplined Mind: Trusting God & Doing Good

I must admit, it is getting more difficult to read through The Power of a Transformed Wife and garner up the motivation required to continue writing these reviews. I guess I need to trust God to get me through.

This entire chapter can be summed up with the following: 1) Life sucks, 2) Trust God, 3) Think good thoughts, and 4) Do good. Well, this is all fine and dandy if you’re not in an abusive relationship, dealing with anxiety or depression, dealing with a looming financial crisis, or experiencing a chronic medical condition – all of which Lori’s readers have commented on her blog or Facebook page. But, wait! Lori does deal with chronic pain, so what is her answer? Continue reading

First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church

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The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: spiritualsb@gmail.com. Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Lori Alexander Refuses to Talk About Abuse

Lori Alexander, Domestic Violence, Biblical Submission

Lori Alexander, domestic violence, abuse

Images used on The Transformed Wife blog posts. Left: “Married to Angry Men” on 9/9/17. Right: “Too Many Angry Wives” on 7/20/17

-by Kathi

There is nothing new under Lori Alexander’s sun. She still writes about submission, and I’m sure she always will. Every once in a while she will write a post that gives us an extra glimpse about how her teachings may keep women in abusive relationships. In “Sweating Bullets While Teaching Submission,” Lori tells us why she does not write about abuse.

Lori will write about submission and never mentions abuse because:

If you read other biblical marriage blogs, you will see that most of them have warnings all over them about abuse and what submission doesn’t mean. If you notice, my blog doesn’t have this. I have written many posts about submission and never even mentioned the word abuse on most of them. I do this purposefully because abuse and submission don’t go together as many today try to do by twisting and perverting the beauty of submission. (Yes,  I have a post on my side bar for those who are in marital crisis but it has nothing whatsoever to do with submission since even wives who aren’t submissive are physically abused.)

On purpose, Lori will not discuss abuse because she believes that “biblical submission” is not abusive. Continue reading