Saddleback Church Backpeddles on Domestic Violence Divorce Quotes

In an article in which he interviews Saddleback teaching pastor Tom Holladay, Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press reveals that Saddleback has removed the audio clips which raised so much stink earlier this year. Holladay insists that the audio clips are taken out of context and do not reflect what the church teaches or believes, leaving the mistaken impression that the church will not support divorce for abuse under any circumstances. The original clips have been transcribed and can be read here:

Transcript of Saddleback Abuse Audio Clip
Transcript of Saddleback Church Teaching on Divorce
Transcript of Saddleback Church Teaching on Miserable Marriage

In the audio clips, Holladay stated (among other things), “I wish there were a third [reason for divorce] in Scripture, having been involved as a pastor with situations of abuse… There is something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says, ‘If they abuse you in this-and-such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.'”

It is difficult for me to understand how Holladay’s comments could be misinterpreted, but to give him his due, he states for the record in this article that Saddleback does not teach or support the idea that someone must linger in an unrepentant abusive marriage. The linked article says, “What the clip didn’t make clear, Holladay said recently, is the question he was answering had to do with abusive language and not physical abuse. The way it was edited, Holladay said, gave the impression that a chronically violent and abusive situation is the only just cause for separation.”

This is something that touches right on a sensitive spot because then we have to address the question of what qualifies as “abusive language,” and more importantly, what happens when you have a non-physically violent, unrepentantly verbally abusive spouse. Words can literally kill and are just as deadly as physical violence. Not only does the Word clearly state this, but scientific research has affirmed it as well. The Word says that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart and words are the first expression of a heart of abuse. There should be no need to wait for fists. The mouth is fruit of the heart’s reality and can give us all we need to know and act — and prevent physical violence, or physical death and disease by the tongue.

At any rate, I’m reporting this development on this issue in the interests of being even-handed. I do not know what was originally meant since what was published were the audio clips – which seem very clear – so I cannot make a judgment about that. All I know otherwise is what I have heard in talking with some individuals who experienced Saddleback’s counseling. The church does seem to have a much more supportive attitude than most churches, but I also have heard of some very serious failures and profoundly bad, even dangerous, counsel as well. So, I can’t make a concrete statement one way or the other about the original intention of the clips.

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2 Responses

  1. So for the record he shows that he is only ‘educated’ on one form of domestic violence, and his awful advice would only apply to other types?

    hmmmm. So in other words, if you are dealing with an verbally and emotionally abusive spouse – WAIT til he hits..then you can leave. NICE!

    Its amazing how churches can ignore scripture when it comes to the power of the tongue. Its like they are saying, “The bible may say that, but we all know its really wrong!” How irrogant can you get!

    Here’s ONE!

    Pr 18:14, “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?

    THE SPOUSE can according to Mr. Holloday!

    James 3:6-8 BBE And the tongue is a fire; it is the power of evil placed in our bodies, making all the body unclean, putting the wheel of life on fire, and getting its fire from hell. (7) For every sort of beast and bird and every living thing on earth and in the sea has been controlled by man and is under his authority; (8) But the tongue may not be controlled by man; it is an unresting evil, it is full of the poison of death.

    YEP, and you have to wait until you hit to leave tho. Hitting is the only evil you must take refuge from!

    Why do these pastor’s think they make sense?

  2. The thing that really gets me, is that by the words a person speaks, it reveals what their intentions and attitudes are. If they’re an abuser, it reveals just that, and yet time and time again, it’s just over looked. Excuses are made for it, it’s minimized, or else it must be something ‘you’ did. Why is it that churches don’t seem to be able to put themselves in other people’s shoes? Would they really have the same advice and admonition, if they were experiencing the same thing? I some times wonder if some churches don’t have a heart problem themselves. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe that’s not how God operates, but it just seems as though, if a person really did care, they wouldn’t have to be told some of this stuff. They would just naturally see the need, and try to do whatever they could to meet that need. A place of refuge and a listening ear would be a good place to start, instead of blaming the victim, taking the easy way out by ignoring what’s right in front of them, or calling it by some other name. I know the truth is some times hard to bear, but there’s some of us who have no choice but to face it. Am I going to be told by God, Well done my good and faithful servant, if I ignore the cries of my neighbors, co-workers, or fellow Christians who are hurting? Where do people think the atrocities of the world come from? Where do they start? Why do we have so many problems in the world? Am I to believe that they really honestly don’t get it? Or is it a case of not wanting to get it? Unfortunately my recent experience of trying to get help, has been to be ignored. Not even a word back to say that I couldn’t be helped. Thankfully I’m a person who keeps plugging away at things, but what kind of a message does that send to people? It would seem to say, that they aren’t worth it. That they aren’t respected. That God doesn’t care. That you’re on your own. It can’t even lead people to Christ, lead us to see the need for a dependency on God, or give the church any kind of respect, because they won’t stand up for what is right. I’m not saying that every church is like this, but I’ve been in enough of them that are, to make me wonder if this was your experience, who would want to be a Christian?

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