Tag Archives: Domestic abuse

For your consideration: A woman’s role…biblically; Part 4

Part 4 is a continuation of a series on what scripture has to say about a woman’s worth and role.

Read Part 1  herePart 2 herePart 3 here

 

Let’s consider Abigail from I Samuel 25. We’ll study her a bit more because we are talking about angry, controlling, abusive men and Abagail was married to one.  Nabal was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy. His refusal to feed David’s men; as was the custom; especially since David’s men protected him, prompted David to set out to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to him. On his way, David met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day. If Abigail would have done what any good, culturally correct woman should have and asked her husband’s permission, think of what could have unfolded.  Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive.  Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous. David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

The 5 Daughters of Zelophead:  Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah stood fearless and firm and as a result reformed the culture of their day. Because they spoke up they reversed precedent and claimed possession of their father’s inheritance. Numbers 27 & 36, Josh 17.

Rahab made a business deal with spies and saved her family. She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Joshua 2 & 6.

Ruth the Moabite boldly presented herself to Boas for protection and marriage. She was used mightily of the Lord as the great grandmother of King David and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth 3.

Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram, whose motherly instinct took over fled danger to protect her son from death. She helped preserve the future of Israel.  2 Kings 11.

Esther was a world changer. She could have stayed quiet and lived a cushy life as queen but instead risked her life. She went before her husband, the King, uninvited and unannounced which in her culture meant it was probable she would be put to death. She was strong, courageous, humble, wise, and respectful. She was a leader and she was a history maker who helped save all Jews from being destroyed, killed and annihilated.

Mary was a young woman of tremendous strength. She placed her joy in the Lord over submission to her betrothed husband. Jesus could’ve come a thousand different ways but God chose to send Him through a young woman. Mary surrendered her life and her reputation to the purposes of God. At a wedding feast Jesus submitted to His mother, Mary; although not immediately, and his obedience to her led to His first public miracle and ministry on earth.

Jesus sought out the Samaritan woman at the well whom men shouldn’t have been speaking to because of cultural racism and sexism. Jesus had no political or cultural leanings; He simply came to do the will of His Father.  Jesus cared about the woman’s deep hurt and told her of her past sins; not to shame her but to heal her. Her testimony of Jesus led many to become believers. John 4.

Priscilla, Lydia, and Nympha were all women who had churches in their homes.

Priscilla helped explain the way of God more adequately to Apollos. Acts 18:26. She was an effective mentor. Paul highly esteemed women he co-labored with for Christ. Paul sometimes wrote Priscilla’s name first; a rarity for his culture. Some theologians believe she may have been the better, or more frequent, teacher rather than Aquilla.

Mary and Martha: in a culture where women were expected to be busy running the house and serving meals; Jesus told Martha, in a round-about way, that He didn’t hold them to the same expectation. Luke 10:40-41

When the woman “caught in the act of adultery” was thrown at Jesus’ feet by men calling for justice (stoning for her but not the man she was caught with), Jesus doodled in the sand, calling the men out on their double standard. They all promptly left. Jesus advocated for an injustice against a woman. Jesus dealt with sexism- double standards for men and women, as well as violence towards women. John 8. Nope, Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to any of it!

A sinful woman rushes in at a private dinner and falls at Jesus’ feet weeping. She wets his dirty feet with her tears and pours expensive perfume (her life’s savings) on His feet and dries His feet with her hair. Talk about some angry and controlling religious leaders! How dare she! That money could have been better used; likely in their pockets. Jesus defended her in front of all the leaders while rebuking them…in front of the woman. Luke 7:36-50

The four single, young daughters of Philip the Evangelist had the gift of prophecy and their ministry is mentioned in the Book of Acts. They represent boldness, courage and a willingness to step out for the Lord no matter age, gender, or cultural traditions.

 

Next time we will look at the Proverbs 31 woman.

Read Part 1  here

Part 2 here

Part 3 here

Headline: Abused women need to stay and pray

 An abuse victim needs to stay and pray for their abuser until the abuser changes.

Sadly, this is what many churches and counselors teach. I think they believe they are scriptural, but they are incorrectly applying scriptures from 1 Peter 3:1-6, while completely leaving out verse 7, and then tack on Malachi 2:16 as a one-size fits all verse.

Any abuse that a husband perpetrates against his wife is sin, not only against her, but against a holy God.

Any pastor who sends a wife home knowingly to an abusive husband sins against a holy God. 

In case you’ve missed the hoopla surrounding what some high-ranking Christian leaders believe and teach about marital abuse; I’ve attached 2 links at the end of this article so you can read for yourself the original wording.

Almost every day I read of yet another Christian leader who believes divorce is sin…period. I could blog full-time on this one issue; however,  my calling is to minister to abused women. But today, since this headline involves a leader high up in a denominational setting, who has leadership over hundreds of thousands of Christians (one report I read listed the membership at 15 million), I want to address this as a courtesy and protection to abused women. 

I want to validate what survivors are living through and affirm that they are strong; not emotionally unstable, loving; not going against scripture, setting healthy boundaries, not being hard-hearted,  caring for themselves and their children, not turning their back on the abuser out of vengeance, and correctly applying scripture; not sinning against God. 

This current headline refers to a leader who has for a decade received backlash from survivors of domestic abuse over his legalistic, uncaring counsel that has further kept victims in abusive relationships. He refused to believe 25 cases of sexual abuse against one man. He sided with and protected a serial abuser by mandating that any woman who wanted to bring charges against the man must have witnesses to verify the abuser’s behavior of her. The audacity of that is undefinable! He and others who have been known to teach that abused women need to stay and pray for their abuser until God changes his heart, or until the abuser changes, don’t understand the nature of abusers.

Fact 1: The Holy Spirit won’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do.

Fact 2: According to specialists in the field of domestic violence there is little to no proof that abusers will ever change. In fact, these abusers have been referred to as  Psychephiles and are ranked in the unhealable category as are pedophilic offenders.

That’s a hard dose of reality to add to a sick and lazy approach many church leaders take when ministering to abused spouses; an approach which cost some victims their lives. It’s easy to give lip service and do nothing. It’s difficult to helplessly listen to descriptions of abuse and even more difficult to offer intervention, a safe place to live, practical gifts of service and financial help to the oppressed.

The stay and pray slant is a popular instruction in many churches and institutions. If the subject were a normal marriage with two healthy people; going through a difficult time, disagreement, or fight then ‘stay and pray’ would be sound advice. In this case it’s dangerous instruction. The women I minister to testify how difficult this is for them and their children. Church leaders put them in an unbearable position and when the women sit down to talk to me they all relay similar thoughts of feeling crazy…depressed…confused. Remember, they have already been beaten down at home for years; if not decades by the time they muster up the courage to tell their story to their pastor or church leader. They are often expending their last ounce of strength so when they are told to ‘stay and pray’ they have no strength left to challenge their pastor. They are traumatized at home and retraumatized by the church.

 The above mentioned pastor sent a women back to kneel beside the bed and pray for her husband. His counsel resulted in the woman receiving two black eyes from her husband.

She came to church one morning with both eyes black.  And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter.  And she said, “I hope you’re happy.”  And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.”  And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

This was abuse of authority. When the woman walked into church with two black eyes the pastor should have called the police and had the man arrested.

The woman later said that her husband was sorry for what he did and their marriage became better. This is perhaps the only time I’ve heard a success story. In most cases of domestic violence the abuse escalates with time; not diminishes

This Wade Burleson article, along with yesterday’s Spiritual Sounding Board article, provides a great summary of the issues at stake with Dr. Paige Patterson and the Southern Baptist Convention. Our distaste for divorce or love of the institution of marriage cannot – must not – surpass the safety of the abused. This is not just a Patterson issue, although Patterson cannot be ignored. It’s time to get this right. No one hates divorce more than someone who has experienced it, but it always has a moral context and it is not always wrong or to be avoided.” Cheryl Bowles Summers

 

“To these brothers who may have ears open enough to hear from a sister who has come to love you and see glimpses of hope in you that maybe you’ll be willing to grapple with the tension glaringly present in the New Testament regarding women, I say to you with respect: Fix this, in Jesus’ Name.” Beth Moore

 

Physical abuse is not the only type of domestic violence. Emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual, and verbal abuse are also real types of domestic violence. If you are in an unsafe situation, please know that more than God hates divorce, He hates that you are being abused. God approves of you leaving and finding safety. In the margin of this website you will find links to help you decide if you are or are not safe; as well as, links to help you leave safely, or stay safely in the relationship while keeping a sound mind and a healthy heart.

Next time I will continue with, For Your Consideration: A Woman’s Role…Biblically. Jesus had some radical teachings in response to the patriarchal system that had deeply rooted throughout history and continues to lend itself to marital, societal, and spiritual abuse. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t have an unbending view of marriage any more than He had a narrow view of the Sabbath. Jesus is about relationship and putting people first. Jesus wouldn’t leave a woman living in a personal hell; He would help her find freedom. He even helps the sinful woman find freedom. Doubt this? Read how He was counter-cultural in John 8:1-11.

Wade Burleson article

Spiritual Sounding Board

 

 

Escalation of abuse led to murder

Here is one more story of a woman who was living under verbal and emotional abuse. 

After 25 years she tried to leave; unsuccessfully. He followed her and killed her.

Here is a fact you rarely hear, but it’s true. Abusers don’t get better.

Abuse escalates with time.

 

From the Tallahassee Democrat:

, Democrat staff writer

There’s been tears shed’: Community mourns a loving mother of six who was murdered

…After 25 years of trying to make their relationship work, she was ready for a divorce.

She was trying to escape what her family said had become a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship.

Judy was as devoted to her kids as she was to her faith. Her gentle and calm demeanor shone through her love for them.

“She was one of the most patient mothers with her children and loved them so,” her mother, Dorothy Yoder, said Tuesday before going to a viewing service for the family. “She really poured her heart and life into them.”

Judy was also an attentive wife, her mother said, even as the couple struggled in their marriage.

Judy sought help through online communities dedicated to Christian women with large families and women struggling with difficult marriages.

“The great irony is, of course, that he has revealed to the world that he didn’t deserve that respect,” Carter said. “She was afraid most people wouldn’t believe her if she came out and said ‘this is what’s happening.’”

Read the entire article here…

 

A Case Against Abused Women: Part 3

 

This is part 3 of a continuation.

You may read Part 1 here…

Part 2 here…

 

Please understand, I don’t write about this topic to chastise John Piper or to change his mind.  I do however find it odd that he believes gender roles is what leads to a Christian flourishing in their personal life, rather than an intimate daily relationship with Jesus Christ. I speak up to protect others from falling under his wrong teaching on this subject. I don’t say any of this from high atop a pedestal, but on my knees at the foot of the cross where Jesus’ finished work brought victory and freedom to set everyone; including the abuse victim, free.  I shine the light and speak the truth even though my voice shakes and my hands tremble.                                                                                                                                                                                       

Who is an abuser?

To the outside: He’s your ideal man. To her:  He’s her worst nightmare.

The impossible part for a Christian woman, married to a Christian abuser, is when her abuser has a Bible and knows it better than her; or can quote it better. The person who helps dig her proverbial grave and helps the abusive husband push her in is the pastor or counselor who believes all marital problems can be solved with scripture and/or counseling.

Here is what Don Hennessey, a relationship counselor and former director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency, has to say about abusers. (This covers all types of abuse: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, reproductive, spiritual, financial.)

We all know that pedophiles target children for sexualized abuse. Don Hennessy coined the word psychephile for the man who abuses his intimate female partner. A psychephile targets the psyche of the woman he has selected as his target for a long term intimate relationship.

Hennessy used the word psychephile in order to emphasise that it is by befriending the mind of the woman that he can establish, maintain and intensify his control of another adult.

The word psychephile combines the root of ‘psyche’ meaning mind or spirit, and ‘phile’ which comes from the Greek for friend.  (How He Gets Into Her Head, p 21 [affiliate link*]

The skilled offender has managed to create an illusion that what he wants is power and control. We are right in believing that this partly explains his behaviour but sadly his intention goes further. The tactics of targeting, setting up and grooming are used by all sexual predators who wish to develop and maintain a long-term sexual relationship with their target. (111)

Skilled offenders are people who believe that their sexual needs must be met repeatedly by the same woman. These psychephiles have a common goal. (111) 

The goal of all his tactics is to have his sexual needs met without negotiation. (102)

The bed is the battleground were the male abuser needs to be in charge. He can be demanding or rejecting of affection and intimacy, but either way he must be in charge. (117)

 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war! (Psalm 120: 6-7)

 

Again, I restate that abuse is not a doctrinal/theological, or gender issue. It is an abuse issue. The best indication that you’re dealing with an abuser is that they always deny the abuse.

According to these sources: Don Hennessey, many counselors who specialize in domestic violence, and counselors who have worked with abusers who suffer from personality disorders; abusers have the power to change but they don’t desire to change. Therefore, they rarely heal from their abusive character disorders.

Abused women from the #MeToo movement don’t reflect a sudden increase in marital and/or sexual abuse, but rather finally shine a long overdue light into a dark corner of our society. We’ve never had a powerful took like the internet to make our plight known around the globe…instantly. We aren’t asking for men to be degraded so we can be lifted up. We aren’t asking to take their place. We are simply asking to be treated with the worth and respect Jesus gave us.  Jesus is the ultimate authority of the dignity of all humans since He found us worthy of dying for on the cross.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. I Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV).

 

“The Cross is certainly the place of forgiveness; it is also the place of exposing.” Diane Langbert, PhD

You Are For Me: Lyrics

So faithful
So constant
So loving and so true
So powerful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

So patient
So gracious
So merciful and true
So wonderful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

Lord, I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me that…

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

You remind me

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

 

 

A Case Against Abused Women: Part 2

Read part 1 here…

 

I know this makes many people uncomfortable. I know there are those who believe I am shaming the church and bringing harm to the name of Jesus. I’m confident that Jesus wants us to shine light in the dark places and bring truth and critical thinking to the table. More than this; I’m confident that Jesus is sovereignly secure in who He is. I believe I’m faithfully living out what scripture teaches. You should defend those who cannot help themselves. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:809 (TLB)inspire

So, I’ll continue…

First, allow me to share what I wrote on Facebook when the #MeToo, #Church Too movement began. I wanted to put it in terms our male brothers could understand.

You’re in prison with a 300 pound gang leader who stares, heckles, stalks, isolates, gropes, objectifies, overpowers, rapes you. No one cares. The guards allow it. If you want to keep your job, eat, or live you’ll have to tolerate it.

In Part 1 I said, “Let me begin by stating my disagreement with Piper’s recent teaching in his article: Sex abuse allegations and the egalitarian myth.” Egalitarianism teaches all people are equal in fundamental worth and social status and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Piper’s argument that sexual abuse is a recent problem resulting from egalitarianism marriages doesn’t mesh with studies, counselors, abuse cases in the media, my limited experience, or Biblical accounts of abuse.

I highly disagree with his reasoning. Abuse is not a theological/doctrinal or marriage problem. It is an abuse problem. I find absolutely no scripture to back this claim. Jesus calls sin; sin.

Abusers have bad character, or a duplicitous personality.

Character traits have nothing to do with doctrinal believes.

But let’s humor that idea for a moment and take a closer look at the suggestion that the complementarian Biblical view is the way out of abusive marriages. How has that worked for the following complementarian and/or patriarchal participants? Click on name to link to story.

Josh Duggar was raised in a complementarian home and embraced those ideals in his marriage. Yet he molested his sisters and a babysitter while growing up in their family home, joined Ashley Madison “Life is short. Have an affair” while married with children, and carried on illicit sexual affairs.

Doug Wilson

Doug Phillips is a Christian author, speaker, attorney, and homeschooling advocate of the patriarchal movement. He was the “ president of the now-defunct Vision Forum Ministries until he resigned due to an inappropriate relationship and grooming of an underage teen, then using his position of authority as clergy, boss, and mentor to continue the relationship after she became an adult.”

Sovereign Grace Ministries

Saeed Abidni  purchased his  license to be a pastor over the internet. His wife, Naghmeh Panahi, left him for proven allegations of domestic abuse, and unfaithfulness. He was recently arrested for violating a no-contact order.

Andy Savage 

The Catholic Church

Tullian Tchividjian

Ravi Zacharias

Correspondence I receive from pastor’s wives and missionary’s wives around the world who tell of abuse they suffer in their complementarian or patriarchal marriages.

I’ve ministered to around 25 women in my area, the Christian homeschool community, who are living through or leaving severe abuse in their complementarian or patriarchal marriages.

Biblical examples of domestic abuse: King Saul giving his daughter, David’s wife, to another man. King David and Bathsheba. Nabal and Abigail. Amnon violated his sister, Tamar. Judah (father-in-law) and Tamar (daughter-in-law). Judges 19 gives an example of serious domestic abuse from a patriarchal household. Polygamy throughout the Old Testament.

These examples nullify the possibility of egalitarianism being the cause of marital, sexual, and domestic abuse.

Controlling behavior, explosive anger, sexual addictions, and constant negativity, are signs you’re likely dealing with a domestic abuser. But if the person constantly denies, justifies, minimizes, or spiritualizes their treatment of others then you know the person is an abuser. It has been my experience the majority of, if not all, abusers have untreated mental health issues, addictions, and/or a personality disorder.

Of course, the man people at church see is always on his best behavior so they would never guess he has the capability to act as two different people. Church activities bring out his best public behavior; not the same as the private behavior in his home. (Again, I know there are  men who suffer from abuse, but my ministry is to women.) I want women, and our church family, to understand sexual and domestic abuse have nothing to do with gender roles. If you are abused, please tenderly hear this: The abuse has nothing to do with you. You can be nearly perfect in every way and it still won’t be enough to stop the abuse. Why? It’s about the abuser and his deep need for power over you. Even sexual abuse has nothing to do with lust or desire. It’s also about power and control.

To be continued…

 

Painting Pictures of Egypt

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

Chorus: I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
And the future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places they used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know
Chorus
Bridge: If it comes to quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?
And if it comes to quick
I may not recognise it
Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?

Songwriter: SARA GROVES

 

 

Saeed Abedini Update March 2018

 

Saeed Abedini, former husband of Naghmeh (Abedini) Panahi, is once again making the headlines.

He violated a current court ordered no contact and was subsequently arrested.

Read the Idaho Statesman article here…

Saeed’s current Facebook posts tell of his return from a trip to Turkey where he met up with Nasim, the woman Saeed has allegedly been in a relationship with since before his arrest and imprisonment in Iran. Naghmeh knew the night before Saeed was arrested that he had spent the night with his lover and that he continued the relationship with Nasim upon his release from the Iranian prison system.

 

Above photo credit: Saeed Abedini’s public Facebook profile picture

 

8:25 P.M. update: 

Boise pastor sent derogatory messages to ex-wife, violating no-contact order, court says

 

Past articles on this subject:

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter

 She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1  

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond, Part 2

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3 

Naghmeh Abedini One Year Later

Naghmeh (Abedini) Panahi’s Divorce

 

 

 

 

A Case Against Abused Women: Part 1

I’ve wanted to address teachings sometimes heard in the church regarding marital abuse because it is this type of teaching that kept me and countless other Christian sisters in abusive marriages. I didn’t know if I would make it out alive, but did. Some women and children haven’t made it out alive.Be a conqueror

This week John Piper once again made the news for his views on women, and why some men abuse women; doctrinal differences. He addresses reasons for cases of widespread abuse being reported in the news.

Cases that have recently been in the headlines include, but unfortunately are not limited to:

  • Bill Cosby sexual assault and rape law suits include 58 alleged victims, 19 of which will be testifying against him in court. Jury selection for the Cosby trial is set to begin March 29 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. The trial is scheduled for April 2.
  • Harvey Weinstein is an American film producer and executive who is currently under investigation for multiple sexual assaults of at least 80 women which spanned 30 years. This scandal triggered similar allegations against powerful men around the world. It spurred the #MeToo movement.
  • Sovereign Grace Ministries had multiple recorded cover-ups of sexual assault and rapes committed against children in their care.
  • Saeed Abidni whose wife, Naghmeh Panahi, left him for proven allegations of domestic abuse, and unfaithfulness was recently arrested for violating a no-contact order.
  • Andy Savage who is the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN sexually assaulted a girl in his youth group when he was a youth pastor 20 years ago. The staff at Highpoint supports and is attempting to save Savage’s ministry.
  • Cases against Bill Gothard (and his board), founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. This was a ministry where teens left their homes to live at headquarters to help with ministry opportunities. With my background, I still find it disturbing that an unmarried single man ran a ministry where he had constant unsupervised time alone with individual students. This is child safety and ministry safety 101 at any Christian based institution and has been for decades: For the students’ protection they are to NEVER be left alone with one person. There is safety in numbers. (Unfortunately many pastors, staff, and teachers don’t adhere to this safety measure).
  • The Catholic Church has been plagued with child sexual abuse cases for decades.
  • Josh Duggar: Ashley Madison scandal and reports of child sexual molestation.
  • The wife of Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee left him and is living in a shelter for safety and provisions. Although Greg Locke denies any wrong doing on his part I’ve read the hateful, scathing text messages he sent his wife about her weight, her looks, his disdain for her, and in which he used profane language against her. He was having a reported, emotional if not physical, relationship with his wife’s best friend who is also his secretary.
  • Ravi Zacharias sexual grooming relationship with a woman not his wife. This case was settled out of court and neither side can legally speak about it. This is convenient for Ravi because I was sent some of the text messages/emails and there is no way he can conveniently talk his way out of his wrong doing. I won’t ever be able to listen to him teach again knowing what he wrote. Some of it was sinful and some of it was weird, but all of it was an abuse of his ministry position.
  • Doug Wilson: I could write a book on the wrong theology of Doug Wilson and his wrongly placed allegiance to pedophiles who have attended his church. A 13 year old girl congregant was groomed, assaulted, and raped by a man from the church. Doug placed blame on the child because she was tall for her age, well developed for her age, and mature for her age. Doug Wilson preformed a wedding ceremony so a known pedophile at the church could marry a young woman from the church. It didn’t end well.
  • I receive correspondence from pastor’s wives and missionary’s wives around the world who tell of abuse they suffer from their husbands.
  • I minister to around 25 women in my area, the Christian homeschool community, who are living through or leaving severe abuse from their husbands.
  • Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (associated with Michigan State University) of sexually abusing her as a teenager, a case that led to more than 250 other victims coming forward for their day in court.

Rachael is a Christian who received her law degree from the Christian Oak Brook College of Law. This makes her the best credentialed child sexual abuse survivor to lead the charge in ridding our churches and institutions of predators, and teaching the public to always: believe the children first, contact the authorities second, and allow the law to sort it out.

 

Let me begin by stating my disagreement with Piper’s recent teaching in his article: Sex abuse allegations and the egalitarian myth. Piper’s argument is that the egalitarian doctrine, which teaches all people are equal in fundamental worth and social status and deserve equal rights and opportunities, has led to men becoming abusers since he doesn’t believe this is the way God intended men and women to function.

I highly disagree with his reasoning. Abuse is not a theological/doctrinal or marriage problem. It is an abuse problem. I find absolutely no scripture to back Piper’s claim. Jesus calls sin; sin.

Dear beloved church,

We must do better.

Marriage is

 

To be continued…

Afer all if we buy into, “Boys will be boys” we are reinforceing “Girls have no humanity; they’re just objects.”

Listen…to her objectified heart

“That’s not really abuse.”

Yes, I’ve heard this statement many times in regards to emotional abuse and I vehemently disagree with it.  The Bible has much to say about abusive people and how we are allowed to deal with them.

See: Do you have biblical permission to leave a toxic spouse?  
#1 Sign of Emotional Abuse
Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

 

Don Hennessy, Director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Center, uses the term ‘psychephiles’ when referring to men who befriend women and then abuse them in long-term relationships.

“Skilled offenders are clever enough to be ahead of all of us and to be able to orchestrate our responses at every turn.”  (How He Gets Into Her Head by Don Hennessy, p 100)

Here’s a word straight from our sponsor: God…

Scoundrels use wicked methods,
they make up evil schemes
to destroy the poor with lies,
even when the plea of the needy is just. (Isaiah 32:7 NIV)

…they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 16b NIV)

Don Hennessy says:

“We [counselors and other professionals] have all failed our clients to the extent that we have failed to understand what is really going on. (How He Gets Into Her Head, 83)

The process of being groomed by a skilled offender will begin as soon as we meet him or take a phone call from him. (157) 

As a society we have already been groomed into an attitude of tolerance and this tolerance is used by the abuser to justify his continued abuse. … His experience of us is such that he believes he can manipulate any agency or individual into accepting his position. (120) 

He knows above all else that we as a community will accept part if not all of his explanation.” (158) From Don Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head: The Mind of the Male Intimate Abuser

This is a series of writings from women living in difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriages…or leaving destructive marriages/relationships. When women are physically abused the harm is often visible, but what about verbal and emotional abuse? The injury is internal…on the heart, soul, mind and strength. You may never guess her husband rages in a different way but the family knows. Her body knows and it often manifests in depression, anxiety, and/or auto-immune diseases. Allow me to show you the inner cries of these women’s hearts.

These are all true accounts from women I personally know.

Many of the stories are close to identical. It saddens and frustrates me to know that most of the stories I’ll be posting take place inside the church body. These men wear a mask to church that is worthy of an Academy Award. Almost all abusers wear masks.

Domestic abuse is not a respecter of age, gender, socio-economic background, nationality, or religion.

This writing is from Melissa. Melissa has been to college, worked in corporate America, considers herself to be a strong woman, and is outgoing and friendly; so to meet her you would never guess this is her home life, or her struggle.

 

God, I don’t understand…

 

He spends hours reading his bible and praying.

He tells counselors I’m the Proverbs 31 woman

While the emotional trauma at home continues.

I cry myself to sleep more nights than not.

 

A child has anxiety attacks when they hear his voice or see him.

A child wishes he would move away.

A child wishes he were dead.

A child wishes he would get professional help.

A child wishes he would take meds.

Children want to have friends over to their house, but…

Children wish he would work more hours.

He exasperates his children.

The children’s bodies aren’t handling the stress well…even with counseling.

 

I would like to entertain guests in our home…but I would have to wear a mask.

He doesn’t understand other’s needs, not even emergencies.

The children and I live with continual traumatic stress disorder.

I asked God to take our lives and end our suffering.

My sanity is a battle .  

Spending daily time with Jesus—studying and praying is the only way

I keep my mind sound.

 

I need an on/off switch.

This would make it easier to understand when my husband considers me

Worthy of relationship or worthy of alienation.

 

He tried to isolate me

Take away finances

Keep me off the phone

Keep me from friends and family

Keep me from outside commitments.

 

Many relational commitments were made before marriage but

At the marriage ceremony vows were one-sided…

For me to keep, for him…optional.

Love, cherish and  honor… he’s not capable.

Forsaking all others, me yes; him no.

I’m nothing more than an object he owns.

You do not love, cherish, and honor your kitchen blender.

 

He cannot love that which needs his time, space, energy, emotion, or money.

 

Boundaries have helped…some.

Grateful lists have been beneficial to see the good God has brought through the pain.

 

Conversation…I listen; he speaks; after all a kitchen blender should not speak.

I have talent, accomplishments, and stimulating conversation…not in his eyes .

He doesn’t recognize much of what I do beyond providing meals.

No encouragement, no affirmation.

To him I’m a mom, cook and housekeeper.

 

I’m a human with worth, dignity, talents, and relational needs.

 

I often live with avoidance, neglect, and withheld relationship; emotionally, spiritually, sexually.

Who knew a man wouldn’t want to have sex with a spontaneous, fun, attractive, fit, creative spouse?

A wife who doesn’t use headaches or anything else to ever be a reason for ‘not tonight’.

A man who cannot deal with being pursued by his lover. Total turnoff.

 

I’ve lost my health, energy, creativity, zeal, hospitality, spirit.

It’s been years since I’ve had a normal night of sleep. Insomnia, night mares, restlessness.

I used to enjoy life, find purpose, make decisions, feel secure, speak freely, and feel capable.

I used to think I did a good job at whatever I set my hands to do. 

Now I feel like a failure.

My mind can’t stay focused.

His rejection of me changed how I think God feels about me.

A difficult lie to see through.

You couldn’t understand unless you’ve lived it.

 

SARA GROVES: Cave of Adullam lyrics

Speak to me, speak to me in my cave of Adullam.
Reach to me, reach to me.
No one cares for my soul.
I thought I saw your kingdom,
But it’s not going to happen like I thought it would happen.
Remind me, remind me of the vision you gave me.
Remind me, remind me what anointing oil is for.
I need to know you’re near me.
I need to know you are holding me just as closely

Chorus: as the day you took my life and gave me a vision,
As the day you poured the oil and gave me a dream.
I can’t believe this is happening.
How does a shepherd become a king?

 

Toxic Tuesday: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

3 Ways To Spot A Wolf In Sheep ‘s Clothing 

Leslie Vernick 

“One of the ways bank tellers and merchants learn to distinguish real money from counterfeit is by examining genuine $100 bills over and over again so that they are more wolf 4likely to spot the counterfeit bills when they see them. In the same way we can learn to recognize destructive people by knowing what to look for.

Some may object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental to call someone a wolf. Only Jesus knows a person’s heart so who are we to judge? Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers, they may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that there will be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9). Part of spiritual maturity is gaining the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why is this necessary? Because Paul reminds us that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Evil pretends to be good.

wolf 3Sometimes we make a naive assumption and it gets us into terrible trouble. We assume that if someone claims to be a Christian and talks like a Christian, that means he or she is a Christian. That’s not true.

Just like there are counterfeit $100 bills that attempt to pass for the real thing, there are those among us who attempt to pass for Christians but underneath they are ravenous wolves. How do we tell the difference?

Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. A wolf can be an expert at talking like a Christian but when you observe his or her behaviors over time, they look more wolfish (aggressive). As the saying goes, the sweetest tongue often has the sharpest tooth. Here are three things to watch out for.

1. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. Wolves refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. You’ve heard the phrase lone wolf? Wolves in sheep’s clothing have themselves as their highest point of reference. They often use charisma and charm to “win” people over but they do not have mutual or reciprocal relationships. People are to be used, possessed, exploited or controlled rather than loved.

2. Wolves look like sheep and talk like sheep but they bite like wolves, especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay “on top”. wolf

When operating in church or religious settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning to seem less obvious or aggressive. They don’t want to look like wolves, that’s why they pretend to be sheep.

3. Wolves are experts at deceit. That’s why they are so successful at making us think they are true sheep. Jesus tells us that Satan, too, is an expert at deceit. That’s why he doesn’t go around with horns and a tail but as an angel of light.

Wolves pretend to be good and to care about the sheep but those closest to them (especially their family) know the truth. They’ve been bitten again and again and again.

But the wolf’s ability to maintain his cover is one reason why it’s so difficult for church people to believe the person who has been wounded by the wolf. They fail to see him as a wolf and assume that the problem is two sheep biting one another.

That’s not true. Wolves have much sharper teeth and stronger jaws than sheep do. A sheep cannot harm a wolf. A wolf kills sheep.

It’s interesting that God chose a wolf as a word picture to portray this type of problem person. A wolf is a predator. It has a strong jaw and 42 sharp teeth designed to stab its prey to death.

As Christian counselors and leaders, let’s not naively close our eyes and think that there are no wolves among us. They are everywhere and we must learn to recognize and stop them from wounding and killing the sheep.”

“The Church has been rather slow to acknowledge the validity of emotional abuse, especially in marriage – and real change can only start if pastors, lay leaders and other counselors start to see the reality that many people face.” ~Leslie Vernick

Counselor Leslie Vernick has made it her “mission to bravely stand up for those who suffer in the shadows.” Her “heart is more and more heavy to help churches know how to competently and compassionately help those in destructive marriages.”

I believe Leslie to be the best of the best in the field of ministering to spouses in abusive marriages. She recognizes abusers and helps the person on the receiving end of the abuse set boundaries, maintain safety, stay committed to truth, remain open to the Holy Spirit, be responsible for their self and respectful toward others without dishonoring their self, and practice empathy and compassion while setting boundaries.

With this in mind Leslie has started a web-based ministry to counselors, pastors, and church leaders. This makes the task of learning about marital abuse/domestic violence reachable for anyone who wants to learn. Because…there are wolves in every congregation.  Almost all counseling centers on communication issues between two people; when in some cases the problem is abuse. Abuse is not a marriage problem. Abuse is an abuse problem—a character problem, and the abuser needs individual help; not marriage counseling. (This applies for marriage, extended family relationships, or non-family relationships. Abuse is abuse; not a communication problem.)

Leslie has numerous free articles and video resources available; as well as, the opportunity to sign up for more resources. If you are in ministry this is a must have area of continued education you should consider. I highly recommend in today’s culture that anyone who works in church leadership should have training in this area.  Click here to check out Leslie’s web-site: Leslie Vernick: Training Church Leaders and Counselors in Abuse.

wolf 5

 

Who Is Killing American Women? Their Husbands And Boyfriends, CDC Confirms.

A new report finds that most female homicides involve domestic violence.

 

Most murders of American women involve domestic violence, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

 

The CDC analyzed data from 18 states, finding 10,018 female homicides between 2003 and 2014. Over half ― 55 percent ― of cases where circumstances were known involved domestic violence. In 93 percent of those cases, victims were killed by current or former intimate partners: boyfriends, husbands, and lovers. The other 7 percent of victims were female friends, family members, first responders and bystanders who were killed during a domestic incident.

While the facts seem shocking at face value, they’re not surprising or new.

It is already well-established that women in the U.S. are far more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than by any other group of people. As HuffPost previously reported: It’s not strangers, friends or acquaintances who pose the biggest threat to women’s lives. It’s the men they date and marry.

According to the report, one in 10 victims of homicides involving domestic abuse had experienced some form of violence in the month before their death, suggesting an opportunity for intervention.

 

“These assessments might be used to facilitate immediate safety planning and to connect women with other services, such as crisis intervention and counseling, housing, medical and legal advocacy, and access to other community resources,” the CDC report read.

 

Click her to read the entire article: 

Who Is Killing American Women? Their Husbands And Boyfriends, CDC Confirms.

 

If you believe you or another person is in danger right now,
contact police immediately.

If you question if you are in danger or not; take the Mosaic Threat AssessmentMOSAIC is an error avoidance method, a computer-assisted method for conducting comprehensive assessments – in the same way that diagnosis is a method used by a doctor. An effective medical diagnosis results when a doctor knows which questions to ask, knows which tests will produce the most accurate answers, and then knows how to draw relevant conclusions from all the answers combined together.

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

If  you wonder if you are in a destructive marriage, or if you know a friend or family member who is in a destructive marriage and you want to support them, this post will help you.

Last week a dear friend reminded me about Leslie Vernick, and her Christ-centered counseling. It’s perfect timing considering the content of some of my recent articles. I often blog to validate women who are living in abusive marriages, or who have left abusive marriages; specifically those who endured someone with narcissistic personality disorder.

Leslie Vernick picks up where  most counselors leave off. It’s rare to find a counselor who fully understands the dynamics of living with an emotionally abusive husband; Leslie does.

If you don’t know who Leslie is, and you’re living in a difficult marriage, consider Leslie your life line…the key to your sanity…a gift from God. She will teach you how to thrive in difficult circumstance and how to set boundaries.

I will post a series of  short videos over the next few weeks. If this is your first time to stumble across Leslie Vernick, and you realize you need her help now, and quickly, then you can find her on Youtube and binge watch all day long. It’s good stuff! You can also locate her books the Emotionally Destructive Relationship and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage at your local library, bookstore, or on Amazon.

“They’ve diagnosed cancer of the marriage as a common cold.”

~Leslie Vernick on the state of counsel abused women receive from pastors, teachers, lay people, counselors and authors. 

Watch this 3 minute introduction video:

Follow Leslie on Twitter

On Facebook

For women who are still struggling with what is required regarding submission in your marriage,  I beg you to watch this 8 minute video, by Leslie Vernick, at Visionary Womanhood.

Do You Think You Might Be in an Emotionally Destructive “Christian” Marriage?

“This is a serious problem in the Church. There are many women married to “Christian” men who only see their wives as objects to be used, mocked, and criticized rather than valuable co-heirs of the grace of life. (It can be the other way around too, but this blog is written for women.) These women are encouraged by their church to submit, overlook, forgive, and shut up. If they try to get help, they are told they are angry (as abused people often are), whiny, and ruining their husband’s reputation. What they really are is confused, brainwashed, and gagged. Their children grow up believing that to be a “Christian” is to pretend, hide, and cover up. They end up despising Christianity and marriage, seeing these as hypocritical cesspools of evil. If you suspect you fall into this category, or you think you know someone who does, here are some places to start getting help in seeing your situation clearly:” ~Natalie at Visionary Womanhood READ MORE HERE

 

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

___________________________________________________

¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: How to Love a Woman in a Destructive Marriage

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents and a mentor what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” Next time, on Toxic Tuesday, I will tell you a detailed outcome of my revelation. For a sneak peak I will tell you it achieved, not immediate, but long term safety for my daughter and me; including a divorce from the abuser in our eleventh year of marriage, and eventually having his parental rights terminated. It was also a dead end to some of my dearest friendships.

Here is an article I bookmarked back in February. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Toxic Tuesday GUEST POST by Natalie Klejwa: A mother of nine, homemaker, business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), and most importantly, a Wemmick loved by the Woodcarver.

Follow Natalie on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Love notes are passed around. A lot of chocolate, too. Roses. Hearts. For women in destructive marriages, days like this are a reminder that they are not loved the way they dreamed when they were little girls. And it is a double edged sword; for if she shares her secret burden with another Christian woman, she will often be shut down and shamed. Good wives don’t say negative things about their husbands, so she suffers in isolation and silence.

These women need love just like anyone else. How do we love them the way Christ loves them? Would He look down on them? Would He gossip about them? Would He rejoice in their distress?

Too often, a former victim leaves her home church because either the church has chosen sides (an abuser is wonderful at playing the devoted victim!) or because she does not have the heart to face a congregation when her family is falling apart. And she is tired.”             Megan Cox, Give Her Wings

Believe her. Let her be angry. Love her. These are the three things Megan Cox recommends in her new book, Give Her Wings: Help and Healing After Abuse. She writes three letters (pleas) explaining to anyone who is serious about helping exactly how they can do it. Here is an excerpt from each “plea.”

Believe HerToxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

In C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, no one believes Lucy when she tells them she has found an entire new country through the back of the wardrobe. Perplexed, the other three children go to the professor about Lucy. After all, Lucy has always been honest. She has never displayed acts of manipulation or craziness. The children cannot understand why Lucy will not recant. They are stunned when the Professor asks them, “How do you know that your sister’s story is not true?” He then explains that there are only three logical possibilities: either Lucy is lying, she has gone mad, or she is telling the truth. Lucy was never a liar nor had she gone mad. Not only that, but the Professor asks them which one of the two children (Edmund or Lucy) was most likely to tell the truth. Lucy was more likely to tell the truth. A new perspective had developed.

This perspective is what is sadly missing in the lives of so many people surrounding abused women. I am at a loss as to why a perfectly sane, honest woman is all of a sudden a liar when it comes to the abuse she is suffering at the hands of her husband – behind closed doors – LISTEN – where no one else lives. I see this all the time now. A woman is respected, honored, looked up to by so many people in the church…until she admits to someone that her personal home life is a living hell. NOW she is doubted, questioned and treated like a squeaky, high-pitched crazy woman who is crying wolf. Where did this come from?

Friends, most of the women I know who have bravely left a man who was killing them on the inside emotionally and mentally are intelligent and loving human beings. Look at their track record. Look at their character. These women have had vibrant, living and active relationships with Christ for as long as you’ve known them. Why would you doubt them now, when they need you the most? Yes, their lives have not been easy, and their pasts may be marked by strange behavior, covering and hidden pain…but that RIGHT THERE should be the indication that something was very wrong in their private lives and, not only that, but that they have been dealing with it alone. She has been trying to honor her husband all those years; trying to respect him.

If a woman seems to suddenly leave a spouse, has the courage to admit what was going on, or runs for safety, don’t take it upon yourself to decide to judge her. You did not walk in her shoes. You were not there.

Let Her Be Angry

You cannot imagine what she has been through. Even she has yet to sort it all out. Listen, it is not going to last forever. Just let her be furious for a while. It is part of the grieving process and it is not sin to be angry. Whatever you do, do not tell her she is bitter and unforgiving. She absolutely needs to let loose of some of the rage. What was done to her was sinful. Unconscionable.She cannot quietly barely brush over that and move on like nothing happened! Your friend has been told to go back to her abuser over and over and then has been refused the privilege of being frustrated and exasperated. How can this be? She has been in a pressure cooker for years, and she is finally able to let some of the emotion out. Let her do it. The anger will eventually pass, if she belongs to Christ. The wrath in her soul and the sobs of her heart will be replaced with quiet determination, forgiveness, and a strength you have never seen in her before….If she is a believer and has shown a consistent walk with Christ, she will not take vengeance on her abuser. Give her a safe place to vent.

God will help to release her. Uphold her; love her; remind her over and over that she is a beloved child of God. And do not encourage her to go back to the abuser. Affirm her constantly. And if she is wavering and blaming herself, tell her the truth, that it was not her fault – that she did not deserve what he did to her. That you would also be angry if you had suffered what she has suffered. That anyone would.

Love Her

You have heard that a woman in your church left her husband. You have also heard that she is claiming he abused her. While you have never seen signs of this (he was such a great guy at church), it is her claim. You are baffled because she never told you while she was with him. You observe her in person…or on her blog or on Facebook. What makes things worse is that she seems to vacillate between this “hyper freedom cheer” and fear. She seems free…yet afraid…yet free…yet afraid. There are two paths you can take.

On one hand you could put her on trial. You could even contact her abuser and ask him whether or not he “really did it.” You could shake your head about the pain divorce causes. You could kind of stay away for a while because it is hard to know what is going on with her – she seems erratic! You could send her an email; maybe asking for an explanation from her (surely she has time for that, trauma or no trauma). Maybe she needs correction. It sounds like she is bitter…maybe she needs a “brother” or “sister” to come alongside of her and point this out.

Sadly, friend, this is what I have seen in my life and in the lives of many abuse survivors I know. Don’t go this route. It will break her spirit. I promise. And further exacerbate a crisis of faith that is probably brewing. There is a better way…

Love her.

I know it is challenging but, get your hands dirty. And I’m not talking about the “I will love her regardless of what she’s done” kind of love. What does she need right now? Do her children need clothes? Or Christmas gifts? Do they have food? Are they paying the bills? Does she need someone to watch the kids so she can heal? Or just go to the grocery store? Do you know a good counselor? Can she cry with you? Is she free to do that? Oh friends, please do not assume you know or understand her story. She, most likely, has so much unraveling to do. Her body might even be going through shock. She might be gaining new illnesses due to trauma. Does she need protection? Is she afraid? Is there a way to make her feel safe? These are all questions that will help you to think through the process of loving her. She cannot handle inquisitiveness. She is trying to survive. Uphold her for a time. Find ways to support her. But, by all means, love her. Please.

Want to give a needy mama wings? Head over to the Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

I think this song by Christa Wells perfectly captures what we can do to come alonside anyone who is hurting and love them the way Christ loves. I hope it touches you the way it touches me.

Visit Visionary Womanhood’s original article: How to Love a Woman in a Destructive Marriage

Toxic Intervention

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

Intervention occurs as a means to involve yourself in a person’s life.  Your goal is to alter their life, and your relationship with them, for the better. It will most likely come across as threatening and forceful to them, in a negative way, so great care needs to be taken in order to help them understand it is for their good, short term and long term.

Intervention is greatly enhanced by the help of persons close to them; such as mentors, friends, family members or respected leaders. They need to be people who have noticed throughout their relational history that something is strangely amiss. I do not recommend enlisting the help of a boss or supervisor; unless this is a work place intervention being used for the purpose of helping the toxic person remain employed.

This will be a sensitive issue to deal with because it means positioning yourself to be vulnerable before someone who may say, “No,” or who may sound a warning to your toxic person. Prayer is of the utmost importance. Ask God what His heart and will is for this intervention and petition it in the name of Jesus. After God confirms through scripture, prayer or a godly friend that this is the path He has for you; find safe, sincere and helpful people who have your best interest at heart and your toxic person’s best interest at heart.

I must remind you that I am not a professional. I am simply passing on situations I have lived through and life lessons from which I have learned. Seeking godly professional help or prayer support is a wise choice before beginning an intervention.

The intervention may require paying travel expenses for, and/or providing food and lodging for, your support help. Ideally this will not be provided in your home if the intervention is for your spouse.

Make a list of applicable concerns, grievances, infidelities, hurtful behaviors or possible mental illnesses.  Your goal is to bring the person to repentance, restore the relationship and provide emotional healing. Make a list of behaviors which must stop immediately. Include the requirement of seeking godly professional help immediately. It would be sensible on your part to have already located names and phone numbers for professionals in your area. If you need help locating godly help go the right margin of my blog and locate: Resources. Click on Counseling Service & Referrals: One Time/Complimentary. You may arrange to speak to a licensed Christian Counselor at Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family also keeps a data base of professionals in your area.  In your letter include goals, and dates you expect them to be met by. An intervention cannot be left open ended or it will have been implemented in vain. If the intervention is for your spouse you may also prayerfully consider mentioning a therapeutic legal separation if the conditions in the letter are not met.

The goal is to always be moving forward. Always be growing closer to Christ. If it be up to you; Satan WILL NOT WIN this battle which means every morning when you wake up; you must put on the FULL armor of Christ. Pray it to God and ask Him to arm you with it: I have rewritten Ephesians 6:10-18 a bit to make it personal as you pray: “Finally, I will be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. I am putting on the full armor of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore I am putting on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I may be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. I will stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

“And I pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, I am alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (NIV)

Prayer and fasting are necessary before undertaking an intervention. Ask your helpers, and a close friend and family member, to commit to fasting one day a week with you for the purpose of a successful intervention.

Intervention can take place at a counselor’s office, in your home (if the intervention is for your spouse), or in the person’s home.

Have with you the people helping you and have a copy of your letter for each person in attendance. This makes it clear that the situation requires accountability.

You may have to be clever in arranging the meeting. Your person should have no previous knowledge as to what is about to take place. Set the day, time and meeting place. This may be easy or this may require calling them home from work for help with an urgent need.

Read the letter. Allow a time for questions and answers if the person desires it.

Have a hand written note assuring them of your good intentions, stubborn love and unwavering concern. Encourage them to do the hard thing and seek help by reminding them of what is at stake.  Lastly remind them that your mind is resolute and the letter is not debatable. Excuse yourself from the meeting and leave the (unread) note with the person.

If your toxic person is your spouse, you will be wise to have sleeping arrangements elsewhere for the next two to three days while they decide their response. In your hand written note; let them know when you will return.

Have your intervention helpers stay behind. It is important to have more than one helper; two is plenty. Remember there is power in numbers. They can ask the person how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and if they understand the letter. They could even lighten it up a bit by offering to go to a restaurant to eat together.

Hopefully your helpers will let you know how your person received the letter. Were they remorseful, repentant, angry, aggravated, or completely in denial? If your helpers report back something like: Your person said you have a lot of problems and you are simply mad at them about ________ or ________ (you fill in the blank) but they are willing to give you the time you need to get over whatever problems you have; then you have a long messy road ahead of you. Toxic people tend to be in complete denial; and even worse, they are good at undermining others, manipulating them and putting on such a grand act that anyone would believe their side of the story. Even if they are in denial they may still be open to professional help for the sake of saving the relationship and they may attempt to meet your requirements and goals. This is good so seek all the help available while you can.

If possible pray out loud, together, with the person you are providing intervention for. I would like to say that Christ will not allow your relationship to deteriorate when the two of you are actively seeking His heart and will together. But since many toxic people are suffering from personality disorders even praying together can yield no change in their attitude, behavior or sin.

The most mind-boggling prayer can be praying with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can certainly be left feeling like a crazy person. They may be sexually, physically and/or emotionally abusive to you but when you hear them pray they sound like they are sitting at the throne of God. You wonder how these two extreme opposites can come out of the same person/personality. This is crazy making at its finest because upon hearing their prayer you may feel like you are, without doubt, the person in need of serious professional help. This is where journaling will help because you will have a written record of their behavior instead of wondering if you dreamed it or made it up. (For more information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and crazy making; read through earlier ‘Toxic Tuesday’ posts.)

If you are interacting in this type of relationship the enemy is undoubtedly trying to destroy your life and the life of those you love. It is essential for you to pray truth (scripture) to God for provision, protection and guidance.

Needless to say, if you have not experienced interacting with an extreme toxic/foolish person you have no idea as to what I am referring. Good for you—praise God—football stadium type cheering and foot stomping. I am happy for you!

For you who are in a seemingly impossible toxic relationship, certain you may lose your sanity; take heart. Study your Bible. Pray. Christ will not leave you alone in your despair. Remember: Your work is prayer. God’s work is what He does on behalf of your prayers. This means when you are in total hopelessness you must call out to God in prayer. He will not leave you there; alone. He will lift your head, put you back together, stand you up, dust you off and give you strength for one more day. He will do this for you. Every—Single—Day. Ask for it.

A toxic person’s behavior can be made worse when they feel helpless or trapped. If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

What Would Jesus Do in a Toxic Relationship?

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

This is my Toxic Tuesday post on Boundaries a day late.  Illness, a migraine, Christmas planning and festivities and appointments left my house and Tuesday to-do lists flat and unchecked on the pages of my daily calendar.

I will be sharing over the next few week steps I took to make right a gone-wrong relationship and I will share the results of my undertaking. I believe God calls us to be the peacemaker, the negotiator—the problem solver. Why do I believe this? It is the theme of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. Relationship gone wrong is the reason we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, the reconciler of toxic relationships. Compared to Him we are all toxic. Jesus had justification to leave us behind forever—to move on; to create a new world with sinless people but He didn’t. He remained faithful to His creation when we did not remain faithful to Him. When Christ could have left He instead came closer.

Believe me, the coming closer to my toxic person made me squirm. The what-ifs of my decision took over a portion of my thought life; which in hind sight was essential to keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (The Message)

 

As I interacted in my toxic relationship I focused my eyes, mind and heart on Jesus and told my mountain to, MOVE in the name of Jesus. “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20. I knew it was the right thing to do and I wanted to stay the course; in fact, when I knew without a shadow of doubt God was releasing me from the relationship I refused to budge. I knew as a Christian God could and would see me through to the other side as I set my resolve toward Him through prayer, Bible study and wise godly counsel. I had faith my toxic person and I would come out on the other side to healing and reconciliation.  At times I felt as though God held my hand as I skimmed the surface of hell begging and pleading with my person to leave their sin, make things right, do the hard thing, seek help, choose their family and their God; not their messed up life and their vocation.

I knew I would never regret staying close to God and doing everything I could through prayer, fasting, setting boundaries, receiving wise godly counsel and finding detours around obstacles.

That being said; if your life is in danger or you are being physically or sexually abused please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.  God does not expect you to endure abuse or live in danger.

More to come next Tuesday.