Fact-ional Christianese Marriage Menders

Pastors, Christian counselors, Christian friends and family members are steeped in a system that has for centuries valued the institution of marriage over the lives of the people inside it. Unfortunately, this means when someone reaches the point where they must leave an abusive marriage they invariably face a barrage of well-meaning advice from these individuals who only want to help but have no idea how very much they are hurting.

When you are the one in that place, it can be almost impossible to separate the truth from the fiction. Knowing that your own flesh could lead you astray, you don’t know if you can trust yourself to judge correctly. What if all these voices are right and you are wrong after all?

I have started compiling this document using some of the things people have sent me that they are being told or that I remember being told. I am keeping it in my articles in the left sidebar and will add to this as new things are sent to me. All items added to the list will be de-personalized – no names or personal information will be included.

PEOPLE SAY: God is a God of redemption. (Implying God wants to redeem this marriage from ruin.)

TRUTH: – yes, God is a redeemer! God redeemed me out of my abusive marriage and has given me a life of peace. He has become my husband (Isaiah 54) and provider until such time as He may choose to provide me with another human one. He is an awesome Redeemer!

PEOPLE SAY: God wants this marriage to work.

TRUTH: – but He won’t force anyone to change against their will because He made man with a free will to choose to disobey. And when Israel insisted on disobedience, God divorced her.

PEOPLE SAY: Miracles are possible.

TRUTH: – for those who believe and obey. But if one party doesn’t want to obey, no miracle will follow. And this isn’t a “miracle” case anyway. This is a case of disobedience or obedience. God is not going to reach down with a magic wand and fix it. He wants repentance and radical obedience – the hard stuff, not fairy fixes.

Pastors and churches love to believe in miracle fixes for marital discord. That’s pure bunk and emotionally manipulative sermon illustrations. When a spouse is walking in sin they don’t need a miracle. They need to repent and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

PEOPLE SAY: Your husband has realized his sin and is working on it.

TRUTH: – big secret here for the fully initiated: disobedient spouses always “realize their sin and work on it” when their spouse finally has had enough and leaves. Occasionally this is actually a genuine wake-up call and the repentance and change are true. Usually they are not. They are a manipulative gesture only. And pastors, churches, family and friends always fall for the manipulative gesture – always.

In fact, if this has been a seriously long-term issue, with many artificial repentances and returns to previous behavior, and the wife has reached the point of seeking a divorce, as I did, my answer to this was — if he is truly repentant he will correct his behavior and demonstrate his repentance in spite of our divorce because it is right, and reconciliation can take place later. There was nothing in the world to stop us from remarrying. But that would surely be a test of his sincerity. Sure enough, he stopped fighting me for custody and started pushing for our divorce to be finalized 8 or 9 months into the process because he had found someone he wanted to date (his fight was what was slowing the process down). He remarried 10 months after our divorce was finalized. He had no serious interest in, or intention of, reconciliation.

Some ways you can see through a repentance if it is fake:

Has he repented publically, telling everyone openly exactly what he has done to you and the children privately? Has he openly told people exactly how he has mistreated you? Most of the time they don’t do this; they will manage to save face and avoid actually telling the depth of what they have done because it would ruin their squeaky-clean image. Or they will only tell one or two individuals whom they know will never let it get out, but who will reveal there has been a “big confession” to go with that repentance to prove it is genuine – more image projection. This is a big sign it is not real.

Is he willing to accept all consequences for his behavior, including a lengthy separation, personal counseling for his behavior, not marriage counseling (because the problem isn’t the marriage, it is within him), even including a divorce if that is what happens, accepting that it is the consequence of his behavior? Is he willing to publically acknowledge this to family, friends and church?

Is he willing to submit to on-going accountability on a long-term basis for his private behavior, and allow you to report to his accountability partners about whether he is continuing in obedience?

Does his repentance have “cracks” in it? In other words, an insincere repentance is short-lived and generally has the purpose of manipulating the other spouse back into the relationship and manipulating the viewing audience onto his “side” of the issue. So the repentance may be one face in public and disappear in private with just you. Or it may be “sincere” until it doesn’t get what it wants and then slivers of the old person are visible when no one else can see.

PEOPLE SAY: God is about forgiveness and restoration.

TRUTH: – and He is also equally about justice, and standing up for the abused, and setting at liberty those who are bound, and hating treachery (Mal 2 – husbands who do violence to their marriage covenant), and believers judging the verbal abuser in the church and putting him out of fellowship (I Cor. 5:11), and I could go on and on. It is wrong to pick out two attributes of God to manipulate you – that is a sure indicator of condemnation and judgment that are not from God!

PEOPLE SAY: The marriage is sacred.

TRUTH: – now where exactly is that in the Bible? I don’t remember reading that translation. The verse they think they are quoting is Heb. 13:4 –

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

That verse means something entirely different than “marriage is sacred.” Marriage is honorable and fornication and adultery are not – plain and simple. The verse is a comparison – not a statement of the sacredness of marriage.

Life is sacred. God is sacred. His Word is sacred. My body is the temple of the Lord, as is yours. Surely the temple of the Lord is a sacred place.

And when an abuser constantly abuses that body with his words, he is literally killing you, the temple of God. Now that is a violation of what God holds sacred. Death and life are in the power of the tongue and science is proving that is true. I’ve had breast cancer. Do you need to wait until you come face to face with a literal, physical death? Because it will happen – the Word says so. It is only a matter of time.

PEOPLE SAY: You are one flesh. God says not to separate what He has joined together.

TRUTH: – this is one of my favorites! Yes! God said that! I wish the church would stand up and fight over this one! Because it is not the party who gets a legal document for protection who has done the separating – it is the party who has been doing violence to the marriage covenant day in and day out for years who has been tearing apart that one flesh relationship and has already thoroughly separated it. But the church wants to point the finger and lay the blame on the wrong shoulders! Mal. 2:13-17 describes this very well.

PEOPLE SAY: It takes two to make a marriage and it take two to break a marriage.

TRUTH: That’s a really cute saying but it’s a bunch of horse do-do. It takes two to make a marriage work but one person can destroy it single-handedly.

Saying it takes two people to break a marriage is as logical as saying it requires the collusion of both people for one spouse to murder the other. Proverbs says a foolish woman can tear down her house with her own hands. Surely a foolish man can do the same.

PEOPLE SAY: God hates divorce.

TRUTH: – this is from Mal. 2 and it is a mis-translation. The original language says God hates putting away and it is referring to men who abandoned their legal wives without giving them a certificate of divorce, leaving them without any provision or protection in a society where women were chattel and the property of men. These women were then not free to remarry so they were literally abandoned to be prey to the first man who came along to rape and pillage them. The statement that God hates divorce is one of the most common wrong teachings on marriage in the modern Christian church. God didn’t say that!

A possible alternate translation could be that these men did legally divorce their wives, though the word used is one which does not always mean a legal divorce, but that these divorces were without cause – treacherous divorces as the context plainly states.

In either case, God condemns the actions of these men for their treachery and for putting away. God’s focus is on their treachery and the violence they have done to their covenant relationship – not on the divorce itself, since the text does not say God hates divorce. God hates putting away – which transcends divorce, reaching back to the action of separating what God has joined; an action which far predates a legal document. Putting away reaches back to the violation of that one-flesh covenant that is inherent in abuse.

PEOPLE SAY: Think about the damage you’re doing to the kids.

TRUTH: – that’s a hard one because it strikes at the heart of any mother. Teens seem to be particularly hard, but then, I still have yet to deal with what will happen as my daughter gets old enough to truly process her parents’ divorce. But here’s what I see so far in my situation.

I have a 21-year-old son (as of 2008) who grew up as the butt of his father’s physical abuse. He was the primary target, while his younger brother was mostly protected (this is not unusual in an abuse situation – to have a primary target of violence and have one or more others protected). By the time he was 12 and had gained the ability to think abstractly, he figured out he actually hadn’t done anything to deserve to be treated this way and he started to talk and act back to his father in exactly the same way his father treated him.

This, of course, only made it worse for him because his father received this as gross disrespect (which it was). A teenager who swears and hits back is not only offensive to the father, but makes really good fodder to tell other people about when you leave out the part about how many times you have hit the kid and sworn at him first.

This son, naturally, hated church and God because, as he said in his own words, who needs another Father like that?

When I separated from his father when he was 13 he wanted me to get a divorce but I didn’t because of pressure from church – fear of man won that time. When I finally decided to get a divorce when this son was 18 his response was something along the lines of “it’s about time.”

Fortunately, he did accept Christ when he was 17, but he is going to have issues for a lifetime as a result of the abuse he experienced. He refuses to have anything to do with his dad. I had to convince him that he really could not exclude his father from his wedding. Now how’s that for damage?

Then there’s the second son. He was the protected one. He always denied the abuse; always. The next day after an incident, he would deny it had happened. In court, he testified to the judge that there had been no abuse in our home. Yes, he lied. When I asked him about it later, he said he does remember it but he believes I should not have gotten a divorce. I should have had more faith and trusted God.

So I worry about this child who is 19 now (2008). Will he be like his father and be willing to overlook this behavior in himself since he is willing to overlook it in his father? There is definitely damage here.

And lastly there’s my daughter. From the time she was an infant, she was “treated” to the sounds of her father and adult-sized brothers in screaming, swearing, fist-swinging brawls. I would leave the house with her when it happened but that doesn’t mean she didn’t still hear it.

At one point, she was standing at her father’s knees (she adores her father; he is the love of her life) while he was watching TV. Someone interrupted him with a question. He jumped to his feet and started screaming full-force, starting with the F-word. The sight of her shocked face will be forever etched in my mind.

Another vision stamped in my head happened after I had decided to get a divorce but before I left. He was bringing her in from outside and told her to go around the car one way but she went the other way (she had just turned 3). He started screaming at her for it. Not a simple redirection as might be appropriate if it even mattered. But full-on screaming at a 3-year-old for just walking one way when it was in his mind to go a different way – when it didn’t even matter.

Recently she was sick and had nightmares with the fever. In her nightmares, which now have her so terrified she will not sleep in her bed anymore, she says someone is screaming at her but she doesn’t know who it is. I wonder. But she adores her dad and asks frequently why I can’t love her daddy (this is the story he has told her, lovely man that he is). She will probably never understand.

But how much more scarred would she be if I stayed with him? By staying with her father I would also have given her the example of what type of man she should marry and how a man should treat her one day. Is that the life I want for her?

There is NO question in my mind. Not a single glimmer of a doubt. Yes, she is going to suffer because her parents are divorced. But compared to the damage of living with an abuser – no way.

And even for the boys who were adults or nearly so by the time I finally got a divorce – by getting a divorce I have taught them something, if they will choose to receive the lesson. God is a God of righteousness and all the other things I have written above. Those are all good reasons for what I have done – that’s what I want my children to learn by the fact I did get a divorce. Had I understood all this sooner I would have made the choice far sooner. But I didn’t and God gives grace for that, I have to believe.

The fact of the matter is this — the children of an abusive marriage are going to be hurt. It is up to us to choose whether we will have them see God’s truth or see us live a lie.

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Is Tyranny the Trademark of the American Church – Land of the Free?

The United States fought the war for independence from England for one primary reason – to end what was perceived as the tyrannical rule of England. This fierce focus on freedom and independence has been a constant theme throughout US history, something in which we take patriotic pride.

Ironically, entire Christian homeschooling curriculums are built around the central theme of American patriotism.Yet, the state of the American church shows some very different trends.

To be sure we’re calling a spade, a spade, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page in defining tyranny.

Tyranny (dictionary.com)

  1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
  2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
  3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
  4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
  5. undue severity or harshness.
  6. a tyrannical act or proceeding.

Is it tyranny when a pastor insists on absolute control in the church? Is it tyranny when he ousts members who disagree with him over his mismanagement of funds or when he fails to report a staff member’s alleged sexual abuse of a child in the church?

Is it tyranny when a pastor insists that all within the church consider his teachings “God’s word” to those in the church – to the point they are literally inspired by God and must not be questioned or disobeyed?

Is it tyranny when a husband demands absolute control over his wife’s every thought and action?

Does tyranny accurate describe an abusive pastor, church leader, church system, spouse, or parent? The parallel is powerful and scary – and yet the church wants to not only excuse tyranny in the name of godly leadership, it wants to applaud and encourage it!

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.Matthew 20:25-28

And the Plot Thickens…

Is there a plot afoot? Well, I’m not much of one for conspiracy theories, so I will let you decide. But for the sake of being informed about issues in Christianity, I strongly recommend that you read this entire article by Wade Burleson about the SBC, Vision Forum and Patriarchy. I believe this is a very serious and profoundly significant issue in Christianity today, and has everything to do with recent posts regarding the SBC’s perspective on abuse, women, clergy abuse, etc. If nothing else, we all need to be aware so we can understand what people mean when they use various terminologies.

Marital Abuse & the Bible

This excellent article is from beenthinking.org. It was originally posted to the site on March 27, 2008. This article was a personal blessing to me when I found it. Every point he makes was an affirmation of what God taught me in my own walk through, and out of, an abusive “Christian” marriage. I am so encouraged to see someone who is respected as a leader in Christianity saying these things openly.

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By Mart DeHaan

I’m on edge today. Here’s what’s happening. I’ve agreed to make a presentation to a group of church leaders on the subject of marital abuse. The invitation came as a result of materials and programs we have done on the subject.

As I prepare for the presentation, I find myself with mixed feelings. I’m not an authority on the subject. Yet, I also know that those of us who have used the Bible over the years to support marital permanence have often inadvertently contributed to a loss of peace and safety in the home. So I feel an obligation to do what I can to speak to a problem that, through so much misunderstanding, is robbing men of their honor, and women of their safety.

I’m convinced that most of us have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes the number of women and children who are living with the terrible knowledge of what is happening behind closed doors.

Since this is on my mind, let me just summarize a few of the biblical ideas that have been twisted out of context to contribute to the problem. This, by the way, will be a longer than normal post. But at this point I don’t know how to break it up. For those who want more information, I’ll include links to other materials and programs we have produced.

The Creation of Woman– I’ve been amazed how much of my life I spent with a wrong assumption about what the Bible meant by the biblical phrase “help meet” (Gen. 2:18,20 KJV). Not until recently did I discover the richness of meaning this term had in the original biblical language. According Old Testament scholar, Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, the Hebrew word helper (in Gen. 2:18,20 as a designation of the woman) is used only 16 more times in the Old Testament. In those cases it is always a designation of God as the One who saves, upholds, and sustains His people (as in Ps. 46:1). There is no sense in which this word connotes a position of inferiority or subordinate status. The word suitable for literally means “in front of,” signifying one who stands face to face with another, qualitatively the same, his essential equal, and therefore his “correspondent” (Hard Sayings Of The Bible, pp.666-67, IVP, Downers Grove, 1996).

The Curse– On the heels of our first parent’s sin, God made it clear that “male dominance” would combine with thorns, thistles, and death to sound the alarm that something had gone wrong with the world. Yet, for too long, so many of us have assumed that when God said that the man would rule over the woman (Genesis 3:16) this is what God wanted. Yet an honest look at this text will show that male dominance is no more of a virtue than weeds, death, or multiplied pain in childbirth.

Headship– The Bible uses the word picture of the human body to illustrate Christ’s relationship to the Church and a husband’s relationship to his wife. From this metaphor, the Bible shows us that, like the head of a body, a man needs to use whatever thoughts or choices he has to protect and care for his wife, just as he uses his own head to protect and care for his own body (Eph 5:23-30). Yet, for too long, so many of us have turned a beautiful word picture of sacrificial love into a self-serving expression of domestic entitlement. Instead of seeing the head as the source of protection and provision for the body, we have seen it as a justification for self-serving direction, control, and authority.

Even if benevolent leadership is implied in the “head”, it will not be authoritarian in style. Jesus made that clear when he said of leadership in general, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors’. But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22:25-26).

Submission– In context, submission between husbands and wives is to be a two way street. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he uses the principle of “mutual submission” (5:21) to set the context for how husbands and wives are to understand what a Christ-centered relationship looks like. This mutual submission becomes clear, however, only as we understand that the sacrificial love that is needed for a husband to care for his wife as he cares for his own body is an even stronger picture of submission than what is asked of the wife. Yet on countless occasions, women have been told to be more submissive so that their husbands will be less abusive.

Superficial repentance and forgiveness– Healthy repentance and forgiveness enables us to turn away from self-destructive and dangerous behavior– rather than to prolong it. Yet in settings of marital abuse, the words, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?” are too often used to demand forgiveness without consequences or a lasting change of heart. Once the man admits he is wrong, the pressure is back on the wife to act as if the abuse never occurred. The result is that a return to business as usual allows for the predictable cycle of abuse to continue.

Marital permanence– From the beginning, God made it clear that his ideal was for marriage to be a one-flesh, life-long relationship. What we have too often overlooked, however, is that when hearts became hard, and when the contract and trust of marriage was shattered, God is the one who allowed for divorce (Deut 24:1-4). The Law of Moses treated marriage as a covenant of mutual responsibility, and if a man refused to live up to his marriage commitments, a wife was to be released from the relationship (Exodus 21:7-11; Deut 21:10-14). Too many of us, for far too long, have overlooked the fact that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, [and] for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim 3:16). It is the Word of God that teaches us to allow for the dissolution of marriages that have ceased to exist for the purpose they were formed.

Church authority– The New Testament urges church leaders not to “Lord it over the church” but rather to lead by example (1Peter 5:3). This counsel is consistent with what Jesus taught about the servant role of those who lead in his Name (Luke 22:24-27). But when faced with issues of marital abuse, and a wife’s conclusion that she must leave for the sake of her own safety and sanity, many elders and church leaders have used the leverage of church membership to try and keep a marriage together. The result is that many victims of abuse lose not only their marriage but their church fellowship.

Jesus’ example of suffering– Women who quietly, or even openly, admit to being abused are often told to look at our Lord’s example of suffering, patiently, and unjustly. But when this happens we are overlooking the fact that Jesus was suffering in a redemptive way to show sacrificial love for his bride, the Church. To turn this around and say that a wife is to patiently endure the self-centered, violence of her husband is to unintentionally promote heresy. Encouraging a woman to suffer abuse as Christ did is to inadvertently tell her to misrepresent the good purposes of Christ (Eph 5:22-33).

God hates divorce– God’s strong disapproval of divorce as expressed by the prophet Malachi (2:14-16) is often used as a reason to believe that the termination of a marriage is not an option for the people of God– even in situations of marital abuse. Yet in context, God is talking about those men who willfully put away the wives of their youth to take other wives for themselves. The emphasis of Malachi is very similar to Jesus’ confrontation of the religious leaders of his day. Many of them were also dismissing their wives for self-centered frivolous reasons (i.e. for any reason). In the process they misused the intent of Moses’ allowance of divorce. (Matt 19:3-11). Yet by telling these men that he hates what they are doing, God was not contradicting the wisdom that he gave through Moses to allow divorce rather than to force couples to remain together in hardness of heart. Malachi speaks of the kind of divorce God hates as a kind of unjustified violence that God loathes. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah makes it clear that God himself gave unfaithful Israel a certificate of divorce (Jer 3:8).

In each of these examples, a good principle is taken out of context and used to support the idea that nothing is worse than divorce. When we do this we fail to see what all too many victims realize– that as regrettable as any divorce is, forced subjection to continued abuse can be far worse.

Now let me ask you, do you disagree with my understanding of any of the above ideas? Or, have you seen the damage that misapplied principles of the Bible can do to a marriage?

Do We Think Enough of Marriage to Respond to Marital Abuse?

This excellent article is from beenthinking.org It was originally posted to the site on Oct. 1, 2007.

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By Mart DeHaan

Do we have a high enough view of marriage to respond adequately to marital abuse?

Before answering, let’s consider one woman who represents many. To personalize her, let’s imagine her as our daughter or friend.

She doesn’t know where to turn and blames herself for ending up in a bad marriage.

We know she isn’t perfect. But what we haven’t seen is how often she’s cried, and how hard she’s tried to make her marriage work. For the last 12 years she has prayed that God would give her the patience and grace to stay with the man she promised to love for the rest of her life.

He tells her he doesn’t love her and says he’s sorry he married her. He calls her names, deprives her of affection, and yet, whenever he’s in the mood, expects her to meet his sexual demands. When she talks about getting help, he threatens to tell her friends that she’s mentally ill or that she’s having an affair. She doesn’t doubt that he would lie to protect himself. He knows wounds of the heart are hard to prove and leaves physical bruises where others cannot see.

When she has confided in church leaders, they have advised her to be more submissive to avoid provoking his anger. They usually ask if he has been sexually unfaithful. She doesn’t think so. Some have asked if she thinks he’s really a “believer.” She tells them, “He says he is.” When she asked one elder why those questions were important, he told her that without evidence of an affair or the abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, she doesn’t have biblical grounds to leave her husband. The same church leaders have told her that separation is not an option because it is often the first step to a divorce.

Tough Questions: The subject of marital cruelty opens a Pandora’s box of questions. If we allow separation, and open the door to divorce, how many marriages will be lost? How can we know that a woman is not merely looking for an excuse out of an unhappy marriage?

Often-Overlooked Answers: As difficult as these questions are, they do not keep the God of the Bible from responding to the possibility of real marital cruelty.

Moses did more than describe God’s sacred purpose for marriage (Genesis 2). He also wrote laws granting the protection of divorce to the most powerless and socially disadvantaged women in Israel. Even for daughters who were sold into slavery to pay for a family’s financial debt (Exodus 21:7-11), and for foreign women captured as spoils of war (Deuteronomy 21:10-14), Moses made laws granting protection from husbands who showed willful disregard and neglect of their marital obligations.
In another law, Moses allowed a husband to divorce his wife with only one surprising restriction: he could not marry the same woman again if she was divorced or widowed from another man in the meantime (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). In a legal system severe enough to require the death penalty for those who committed adultery, Moses recognized hard-hearted cruelty that could be worse than divorce.


But is it right for us to call attention to these Mosaic laws when Jesus corrected religious leaders who were quoting Moses’ tolerance for divorce?

Jesus repeatedly corrected the misuse of Moses. When talking to self-centered men who were looking for legal loopholes to divorce “for any reason,” He talked about the importance of marital permanence. To such men, the Lord emphasized that God’s original intent was that marriage be a lifelong relationship.

But it would be a mistake to assume that Jesus would respond to a victim of domestic abuse in the same way. In parallel situations dealing with other laws, Jesus respected the intent of the law as well as its words.

Consider, for instance, the way He applied Sabbath law that, under Moses, required the death penalty for infraction. According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus went into a synagogue on the Sabbath and healed a woman who had been bent over for 18 years. When the ruler of the synagogue saw what Jesus had done, he was angry and accused Jesus of violating the no-work policy of the seventh day. Jesus, however, showed that it was the leader of the synagogue who misunderstood the intent of Sabbath law (Luke 13:10-16). In a similar incident, Jesus later asked, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” (14:5).

On another occasion, Jesus recognized other exceptions based on the intent of the law and said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:23-27). By the same principle, we can safely say that marriage was made for people. People were not made for marriage.

But what if we aren’t sure that it makes sense to reach back to the Old Testament for practical guidelines today? If we’re wondering, remember the following.

Paul encouraged his readers to find spiritual insight in the whole counsel of God. So he wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Even though he wrote these words in the days of the New Testament, Paul saw that when the timeless principles of the Law and Prophets are rightly interpreted and applied, they offer us guidance for working through broken relationships.

So when a daughter, sister, or friend tells a personal story of marital abuse, we need to be careful. Let’s believe them until we have reason not to. And if their plight is real, they don’t need to be told again about headship, submission, forgiveness, and the threat of losing church membership. They need to know that the God of Moses and Jesus cares not only about marital permanence, but also for those who are caught in abuse that is worse than protective separation and divorce.

Father in heaven, forgive us for multiplying the pain of those who are living with abusively hard-hearted spouses. Please give us the wisdom we need to offer help and consolation to those who are grieving lost hopes and dreams.

Abuse in the Church Brings the Judgment of Sodom

It blows my mind when God puts together a new insight from the Word when I’m not even looking for or expecting to find it. The night before last, He showed me the Scripture and insight that I wrote in my previous post, Abuse in the Church? Be Ye Warmed and Filled!. This morning in church He drew some additional connections to this.

First, I need to backtrack to a post I wrote a few months ago, Sodom and Gommorah & the Modern Church. I was astounded to realize that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but pride, materialism and self-gratification, idleness, and failure to stand up for the afflicted and needy. In light of yesterday’s post, this underscores the significance and relevance of Sodom’s sin and the sin of modern Christianity.

This morning God showed me Isaiah 1:10-26. This is a long passage, so I am not going to copy it here. I strongly recommend that you stop and read it before proceeding.

Instead of copying it here, I am going to paraphrase it as I see it applying to the situation of the modern Church’s failure to stand up for the afflicted and oppressed inside its doors. Look at the original to judge for yourself that I’m not going completely off a reasonable understanding of an appropriate application of the text. I am not intending to be flippant or to twist Scripture. I think the context bears out the point I’m attempting to make.

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of the church!

“What are these many services and programs you multiply in offering to Me?” says the Lord.

“I have had enough of great music, and impressive media bites; and I take no pleasure in your series’ of missions offerings.

“When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this modern shrine of architecture and polished programming served to throngs of congregants each week?

“Bring your worthless offerings no longer, your programs are an abomination to Me…

“I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.

“I hate your festivals and your special events, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you;

Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

“Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,

“Learn to do good; seek justice, RELIEVE THE OPPRESSED, DEFEND THE ORPHAN, PLEAD FOR THE WIDOW.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord…
“If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly the mouth of the Lord has spoken!

How the faithful church has become a harlot, she who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers…

Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; everyone panders to what will bring in new members and large offerings.

They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them.

Therefore the Lord God of hosts…declares, “I will be relieved of My adversaries and avenge Myself on My foes.

“I will also turn My hand against you…
“Then I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning; after that you will be called the city of righteousness, a faithful city.

Think this doesn’t apply to the church? Do you think this only applies to the Israelites whom God was comparing to Sodom and Gomorrah? Think again.

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Romans 11:17-22

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.