Prayer of a Wife Who Has an Evil Husband


English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree.

English: A Marriage or Husband and Wife tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At long last!

Prayers like this don’t make it into today’s prayer books.  Now we figure that if we have an evil husband, God wants us to divorce them.  Just like if you’re attracted to the wrong sex, that means that God really has decided that same-sex marriage pleases Him.

It’s so common for people to think this way that it sounds incredibly rude and heartless to say: Actually, no, God doesn’t want you to divorce your husband just because he’s evil and you’re unhappy.  The reason we think God is always nice and compassionate in such a way that we’re always given whatever we want?

Because we are in an idolatrous society, and we have turned to them instead of them turning to us.  We also have become idolaters.

Even though God loves the fools who live in our society, they are still fools.  It is not loving to tell fools that they aren’t fools.  You’re a fool if you think God wants you to get a divorce from your husband (or wife) just because they’re evil.  He doesn’t want you to do that.  He wants you to pray for them and trust Him to help you instead of turning to the false gods of our society that cry out against the truth as “not compassionate.”

God is compassionate: “…Your dear Son Himself has given, and extends His gracious call; to His supper leads us all.  And to this our soul’s salvation, witnesses Your Spirit, Lord/ In Your Sacraments and Word./  There He sends true consolation/ Giving us the gift of faith/ That we fear not hell nor death.”  True consolation,” see; not the consoling sappy lies by which the dragon lulls you to hell, but the consolation of the Spirit who proclaims that Christ’s propitiatory death under God’s wrath is for sinners with no merit–including you.

But here is the prayer:

 

used with permission from Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63794459@N07/

157. Prayer of a Wife with an Evil Husband

–Johann Quirsfeld, Archdeacon at Pirna (1642-1686).  from his “Geistlicher Myrrhengarten”–“Spiritual Myrrh Garden.”

(Myrrh was an ointment which helped cure wounds; it was also used to preserve and embalm the dead.  So the book is a ‘spiritual medicinal garden’ so to speak.)

Oh merciful God and Father, all-knowing Lord, You know my misery better than I can express it in words or lamenting or complaints.  My spouse, whom at one time You gave to me, is sadly living in an indefensible way, and with him I carry a heavy cross in my house almost every day.  It is so severe that I don’t know what I should do in such a wretched and sad state of affairs, because Satan, hounding me, makes the holy estate of marriage with my wayward husband exceedingly bitter.  We cannot separate from one another, because we were joined by you in such a way that nothing but death alone can separate us. 

 

Now I turn myself to you, Lord my God.  Without Your counsel and will, and without Your permission, nothing can happen.  So I must consider this bad behavior of my spouse a cross made specially for me, for I admit that in other ways before You I have certainly been to blame.  But still give me patience towards it.  Assist me to bear it with your fatherly hand, rich in love.  Let us not forever live with each other in such disgust, but instead rule the heart of my spouse, that he would become different, and offer himself up as a pious Christian wife is entitled to expect and as is due her.  Govern the tormenting marriage-demon and other wicked mouths, through which my spouse would often be ensnared.  Plant upright fear of God in his heart, and also honest, wholehearted love toward me, that by it we may from now on live in peace and unity with one another.  Grant us so to continue in our household affairs and daily bread, that we walk as obedient children according to Your commandments, and that we might be and remain the blessed of the Lord, here in time, and one day, there in eternity.  Amen.

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/wedding-sermon-your-voice-is-sweet-and-your-face-is-lovely/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/the-joy-of-marriage-is-in-its-trials-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-joy-of-lamentation/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/prayer-of-a-husband-with-an-evil-wife/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/god-treats-us-so-that-we-do-not-know-what-he-will-do-with-us-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/prayer-in-great-disgust-and-disgrace-luther/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/prayer-about-the-hardness-of-my-heart/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/honest-piety-the-difference-between-training-and-combat/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/short-prayer-against-the-deadly-arrows-of-satan/

Thursday Morning Blessing: https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/lutheran-prayer-treasury-thursday-morning-blessing/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/unwillingness-to-suffer/

  1. April 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Very intetresting and well written article. I’m wondering about a few points. When a husband or wife is evil, where in the Bible does it teach that people stay with evil spouses? What about the parts in Scripture that say not to associate with wicked men who claim to be Christian but continue to indulge in a greedy, deceiptive, lust-driven life styles? Aren’t we instructed not to even eat lunch with them? What about Proverbs saying not to be friends or associates with hot tempered angry men; not to tolerate evil under our own roof;; cruel men are unfaithful; ; bad company corrupts good character; & men who love violence are unfaithful? Didn’t Jesus say to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing and stay away from them? What about self- glorifying control freaks who strive to harmfully dominate , manipulate , exploit & brainwash spouses like a form of witchcraft? According to medical research wives with hostile, hateful resentful spouses often develope structural cardiac changes damaging to health. Don’t these kinds of evil destroy the marriage covenant? Why wouldn’t a wife be permitted to divorce a pleasure seeking, porno-head husband whose lustful eyes zoom in on every female in view, even his own daugters?
    What would you say to the argument that not divorcing an evil spouse often results in severe soul wounds and life -long scars to the body, mind and spirit of suffering family members? Fools and wicked fools are two different things. I’d welcome your input to my questions. My impression is that you are a confident, intelligent, strong minded guy who’s serious about honoring God. Best Wishes.

    • April 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      There are a lot of questions there. But briefly I’d point to 1 Corinthians 7:

      8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that (J)it is good for them to remain single (K)as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, (L)they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

      10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

      12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

      There are biblical grounds for divorce–adultery being one, abandonment being the other. Abandonment can be defined more or less broadly, including for instance abuse that endangers a spouse’s life.

      But if a spouse being evil were grounds for divorce, every spouse would have grounds. “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God alone.” Mark 10.

      Being married to a spouse who ignores his or her duties as a spouse is definitely a painful cross to bear, but Christians are called to bear crosses out of love for their neighbor.

      More often than not divorce doesn’t prevent wounds to the soul but inflicts new ones, just as a child subject to abuse or mistreatment by his parents compounds the damage to his soul by rebelling against his parents and incurring guilt by breaking the 4th commandment.

      But there is healing and forgiveness in the wounds of Christ both for hurting spouses and those who have divorced without biblical grounds.

      God’s peace to you!

  2. June 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    God has compassion and forgiveness for wives of abusive husbands just as much as He has compassion for husbands who abuse. And for the sake of hurting women and children everywhere, please read the entire Malachi scripture on divorce: (Malachi 2:16) “‘I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment.'”

    You might also ask why it is that most people concentrate on the abused to be forgiving, compassionate, and long-suffering instead of putting the focus on the abusive person’s need to repent, ask forgiveness, and change his harmful ways? And on the urgent need for the wife and children of an abusive man to GET TO A SAFE PLACE so that the physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual damage is stopped and the healing can begin.

    I recommend the writer “bear the cross” of interviewing wives and children (even grown children, still healing) of abusive husbands/fathers to see the reality of the situation. And of course there are some abusive wives and mothers, too.

    Divorce for physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual protection is NOT the unforgiveable sin. Indeed, if you take a look a the pattern of God’s involvement in our lives throughout the Scriptures, a pattern of redemption emerges over and over again. God saves His people. Sometimes, this means that God’s redemption for those living with fear, bruises, broken bones, broken hearts, and damaged psyches resulting from an abusive (evil, as called, here) man (and some women) is for them to get out of the relationship to a safe place. Maybe even get a restraining order or move to another location entirely, for protection.

    • June 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      Dear Pnissila,

      I am the adult child of an abusive father/husband.

  3. July 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    A good example is Abigail. Her husband was evil, and she continued submissive to him and fearing God. Then God saw from above and judged the situation, killing her husband and giving to her a better husband, the king David!
    She made her part on earth, her obedience to God didn’t depend on her husban’s behavior or obedience to God.
    The same today, our obedience to the Word of God that tells us to submit to our husbands must NOT depend on our husbands obedience to God.
    God is a judge, and He is good. We make our part and He does His.
    I have an evil husband. God taught me to love him with Agape love. My husband had a extreme suffering life so God chose me to love him, which is an honor.
    God has decided to change my husband, not to kill him like it was Abigail’s case. And he have been learning to love me and to lose his fear with my love for him. The more I love him, more he feels safe to try to love me too.
    All the anger, lies and violence were rooted in fear.
    It is worthy to obey the Word and let God decide!

    • Daniel
      December 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      I would have to say that in your case, your husband is not what people would typically call a classic abusive spouse. He’s evil, he’s sometimes mean, he’s difficult. This is different from an abuser, where the entire dynamic of the relationship is all about domination and abusive control, with not a thought about mutuality or shared love. If he were abusive, you would not be writing the way you are. You would be desperately trying to figure out a way to get away from him and never, ever see him again, if you could help it. And that would not mean that you would be “hating” your abusive husband or not showing Christian love by trying to get away from him. It’s simply a God-given defense mechanism to flee from abusive domination and oppression. Only those who have had to live with a real abuser know what I’m talking about here. The fact that you say “And he has been learning to love me and to lose his fear with my love for him,” also shows me you’re not living with an abuser, because abusers do not try to “learn to love.” It’s not in their psyche/makeup. What drives and motivates them is to try to exert power over another person and attempt to humiliate and coerce and subjugate. This is what makes them feel good and what makes them tick. I know, it’s sick, but it’s the truth. That’s the way abusers are, and almost none of them ever change, statistically. But I’m glad you’re loving your husband and that he has made beginning steps in responding with love. If he were an abuser (like my wife is), he wouldn’t be doing any of this. There would be no response at all. He would just deny, deny, deny that he’s an abuser and would accuse you of being the one who is abusive. And sadly, because of the trauma they’ve been through, to an untrained person the one who is being abused often comes off as looking like they’re abusive or crazy while the person who is actually secretly doing the abuse (out of sight of the public eye) is cool, calm, and collected, looking oh so reasonable while he tells others how difficult you are to live with and how much he has to suffer. Abusers like to keep their abuse secret and choose to attack their spouses when they know that either nobody is watching or that nobody is really “getting” what is happening between them at the moment, even if they’re in public.

      • December 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

        It sounds like what you’re describing is a sociopath. If that’s what you mean by “abuse” and “abuser”–someone who’s essentially mentally ill–that is a pretty narrow definition of the word “abuse.”

        I read a book on “verbal abuse” once, written by a lady who defined it kind of like you’re doing. But she didn’t necessarily pathologize the abuser. In her reading an abuser sees relationships as places where power is exercised rather than places to give and receive love. In her mind an abuser approaches the world hierarchically instead of in an egalitarian way.

        The problem with that definition is that it is fundamentally anti-Christian. Most relationships outlined by Luther in the Small Catechism’s Table of Duties ARE hierarchical. That doesn’t prevent them from being arenas in which love is given and exchanged. It actually facilitates the giving and receiving of love. If both my son and I are clear that I have authority over him, it frees us up to love one another, because there is no confusion about which one of us is supposed to lead. Marriage is the same way. Our present version of marriage creates power struggles because there is supposed to be no leader. Since a husband and wife are one flesh, that creates a monstrosity with two heads. I’ve never seen a two-headed animal that had a happy life.

        All that to say that assuming you are working with a similar definition of “verbal abuse” as the one I read, you are trying to work with two different moralities and make them have a conversation. “Verbal abuse” as this psychologist defined it is no more a real thing than “transgenderism.” It’s a concept invented by a feminist theorist.

        The Christian term for it would be “sin”; specifically sin against the 6th and 8th commandments, and probably the 5th. And sinful habits and modes of living are not incurable fixtures of the identity.

        On the other hand, being a sociopath, or having borderline personality disorder or whatever–that may be something that isn’t cured in this life.

        It’s a trick of the devil to get us to believe that there are circumstances where God’s Word has to be circumvented because otherwise people will be injured. No, we know that isn’t true! God cannot lie. God isn’t ignorant about abuse, verbal or otherwise. Psychologists didn’t discover something in the last few decades that now needs to mitigate Jesus and Paul’s teaching on marriage and divorce. We have to resist that suggestion from Satan every time it tempts us. It’s not true that Satan loves us more than Jesus, or that Jesus was ignorant of the suffering people undergo in marriage. Lots and lots of Christians for millennia endured painful marriages out of obedience to God–just like the people for whom this prayer was written. Our marriages are not more miserable than theirs were.

        Not that there are never grounds for divorce or separation, as I’ve said. But not on nebulous grounds that have no basis in God’s Word and that would leave the door open for people to divorce essentially at will.

        A final point here: this issue is made worse by the complete loss of church discipline. I don’t know what your marriage was like, but my guess is that if your wife is like you say, it should have been something that was brought to the church. In Luther’s little book on marriage (which I will link to in a minute)–he argues that divorce is permissible in a number of situations besides outright adultery and abandonment. But in all those situations he thinks that the issue should be made public–both to bring about the repentance of the guilty spouse, and to prevent the appearance of the Church sanctioning disobedience to God’s Word. The fact that this is pretty much impossible in most churches today causes even more injury to people’s consciences, and it is something that needs to be rectified.

  4. 19goingon35
    October 26, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    God doesn’t want us to suffer. If our spouse is clearly not changing and is hurting us repeatedly and intentionally. That is grounds for divorce. God has given us freedom and our spouse in acting say in a continually emotionally, verbally (even physically) abusive manner is just grounds to break the covenant of marriage. Marriage in itself is a commitment between two parties and when one person consistently breaks it and remorse is not lasting then to save your quality of life, divorce is the only option. NO ONE should be condemned for placing value on their sanity or quality of life. I would say to people considering divorce in these situations, taking the courage to leave; to resist and flee from evil is the only way to truly be free.

    • October 27, 2014 at 10:39 am

      2 things: Where is it written in Scripture that something other than adultery or abandonment is grounds for divorce?

      Second, You write “God doesn’t want us to suffer.” But Jesus says, “Let everyone who wants to follow me take up his cross.” Isn’t taking up the cross suffering?

      God’s peace to you.

      • Corky Silva
        March 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

        So true

    • Corky Silva
      March 10, 2015 at 4:39 am

      amazing how you speak the same words as my husband of 11 years .And in all the years that I have known him never seen him pick up a bible or speak of God except when he married me. And now that he says he is divorcing me he thinks and feels the same way you do about God and divorce……He .abandon me in june of 2014 .. Served me with divorce papers on october 25th 2014 ….. An on October 26 2014 which is my birthday ….. His girlfriend wished me a happy birthday from jimmy and I. on facebook…and still to this day he is not divorced me. But living with another woman leaving me without my husband or my Life .saying the exact same words to me that I read from you .19 goingon35 wow ………and I stay here as his wife being faithful to my husband and my marriage with forgiveness for my husband .An hope he will come home by keeping my faith in God.

  5. Anonymous
    July 24, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    This is a really good prayer. I am kind of confused as to why a man wrote it, but it was a comfort, nonetheless.

    • July 25, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      A man wrote it who was a pastor who had concern for women suffering this cross, I think.

  6. Daniel
    December 17, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    I’ve suffered for years as a man who has had to live with an emotionally abusive wife. If I have found it utter hell to have to stay with someone like her and (while my children were growing up) to defend them from her abusive tactics, how much more hellish is it for women, who are under so much greater danger because of a man’s physical strength superiority? There is no verse in the Bible that says a woman must stay with an abusive man (or that a man must stay with an abusive wife) and not get divorced. (You’ve got to understand that emotional abuse is as bad or worse than physical abuse–you can’t just tell a woman to suck it up if she’s being emotionally abused and not being physically abused!) Remember, 1 Cor. 7 says that if she does separate (see, Paul envisions a situation where she does choose to separate), she should remain unmarried (or else be reconciled…which in the case of 99.999 percent of abusive spouses is an impossibility, because abusers almost never acknowledge that they are abusers and don’t view a relationship as an opportunity to give and receive love, but as an opportunity to exert power and control and domination over someone whom they perceive as weaker–although the abused spouse is never weaker–abusers get their jollies over exerting POWER OVER). So there is the possibility that she can depart (i.e., get a divorce). I find that the only people who truly really get what it’s like to be abused are those who have been through it personally. People who have not had to live through this hell invariably give the kind of pat, supposedly “scriptural” answer you gave above. With respect, I submit your answer shows that you don’t really get what spousal abuse is like. It’s not just someone being difficult. There is simply no relationship when a spouse is an abuser. Period. The marriage is over, even if you are still living under the same roof. And yes, abuse comes under the umbrella of desertion: it’s called “constructive desertion,” which means that the offending party has caused so much damage and destruction to their spouse that it’s truly as if they had physically abandoned their spouse. I honestly don’t know what God thinks about remarriage after divorce. If he looks at abuse as abandonment of the spouse, perhaps he considers that a valid reason to divorce and get remarried. I don’t know. I suggest you check out the “A Cry for Justice” website (https://cryingoutforjustice.com/). That Christian site truly gets it (although one doesn’t have to agree with their position that an abused spouse who gets a divorce can get remarried). You need to read it to get an education so that you can competently counsel women and men in your church who come to you seeking help when they’re being abused. I truly mean this. Respectfully, your advice above shows that you need more education. You should especially read there the horrific story of a woman who was being abused and got the same kind of advice and “help” you gave above from her PCA church. She was eventually freed and got the help she needed when she was finally helped (ironically) by an LCMS church who GOT IT regarding spouses who are being abused.

    • December 18, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      With respect, you don’t really know what I’ve experienced. Without getting into details, I can tell you that you have completely misjudged me.
      But in my opinion, it is totally irrelevant. My experiences, or yours, do not have greater authority than God’s Word. I hope you will agree with me on that. I don’t deny that there are occasions when an abused spouse may divorce their spouse. But it’s also true that “emotional abuse” is so vague that it essentially allows a person to get a divorce for any reason at any time.

      Against this, we have Jesus saying, “I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matt. 5:32

      Exceptions to this rule, while they may exist, are, and should be, exceptions, rather than the rule. The reality is that even in “conservative churches”, we have essentially come to the point where people divorce at will and remarry at will. We worry about whether or not a person can do this and remain a Christian later.

      Whether other pastors can rest easy about this–even LCMS pastors–really makes no difference to me. I have to give an account for myself and my ministry to God, not for them. So will everyone who has gotten a divorce. And because that is so, I don’t intend to tell people that an accusation of “emotional abuse”–a category invented by psychologists in the last several decades–is by itself carte blanche for divorce.

      If you can show me that I am misreading the bible in saying that, I will be glad to make a public statement saying I was wrong. Otherwise, I’d urge you to consider that no one’s lived experience is of greater weight than God’s Word, no matter who says differently.

  7. Daniel
    December 18, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    True, I don’t know your situation. Forgive me for misjudging.

    Of course, we’re not dealing here with people attempting to get a divorce for superficial or selfish reasons. But without training, you’re not going to be able to be discerning enough to know who’s telling you the truth and who’s making up a story when people approach you claiming that their spouse is emotionally and psychologically abusive and that they need help. You also will not know how to best proceed if you suspect that they are telling you the truth. And you will not be able to avoid the tricks the abuser uses to psychologically lead you astray. I have seen trained counselors (who know a lot about counseling marital problems but who don’t know a whole lot about emotional abuse–for example, they think that spousal abuse is a “marital” problem–it’s not) easily tricked by an abuser (in this case, my wife). They had no idea they were being taken for a ride.

    OK, you may not like the term “emotional abuse.” You think it’s psychobabble. Fine. Even if the term “emotional abuse” is new, it is still a legitimate concept. The term is not “vague” if you define it correctly and don’t lump every thoughtless, clueless, selfish act that a spouse might do to his spouse into this category. Emotional abuse has a characteristic pattern, and if you’re trained to recognize it, you won’t mistake it for something else.

    And yes, it’s a given that God’s Word always prevails against men’s experiences. That’s one of the reasons I ended up at your website, because I was concerned about the Lutheran church holding on to the word of God and not exchanging its legitimate Catholic legacy for practices more in line with Baptist and Methodist churches.

    As one who has been abused for 25 years, I am agonizingly familiar with all the “divorce” and “adultery” passages and arguments. When you’re experiencing intense suffering (most of which is unseen and unvalidated by anyone, because abusers are very good about not letting themselves get caught in public doing their abusing–that’s why physical abuse is so much easier to deal with than emotional abuse–the injuries can be shown to a physician and the abused person is believed) and when you’re in a completely loveless so-called “marriage” for years, you get to know the subject of divorce from a scriptural point of view quite well. I can cherry-pick these scriptures with the best of them.

    But I noticed you didn’t bring up any of these scriptures (not that you don’t know them–I know you do–but I noticed in your advice that you didn’t bring any of these up):

    Psalm 82:2-4:

    “How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked?
    Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
    Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

    Hosea 6:6a: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

    James 1:27a: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”

    James 2:14-17: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

    All of these scriptures deal quite directly with the subject at hand and also need to be integrated into one’s theology, along with the classic passages on divorce and adultery. So, I guess I would ask:

    What do you, as a pastor, tell a woman or a man when they come to you claiming that their spouse is abusing them? Can you tell the difference between an abuser and someone who is just mean sometimes or callous or difficult to live with?

    If (because you’re trained) you determine they’re telling you the truth, do you send them back to their abusive spouse (never a good idea)? Do you tell them (if they’re a woman) to “submit” more? Do you tell them (if they’re a man) that they need to “love their wives” more? Do you tell them God will reward their suffering if they go back to their abuser?

    Do you recommend “couples” counseling? (If you’re trained, you know that couples counseling is probably the worst possible thing you could ever recommend in an abuse situation.)

    I guess I’m hoping that you’ll be one of those RARE pastors who truly acquires an in-depth understanding of this subject of emotional/psychological abuse which is so prevalent and pervasive in so many families in so many churches, and that you won’t be one of those pastors who sends the abused person back to their abuser for further punishment.

    • December 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Daniel: I do know what it is like to have someone, probably “emotionally abuse” me in the sense you’re describing. I had a parishioner in leadership for going on ten years who would “punish” me for unknown offenses in underhanded ways that went unperceived by other people for a long time. This person also slandered me and claimed I was abusing him to anyone who would listen for years, and at one point had most of the congregation convinced that I was persecuting him and trying to run him out of the church. But it was exceedingly difficult to explain this to people because he had so many people convinced for a long time that he was a really good man. It was only after he started to do the same thing to some other people in the congregation that I was able to finally say, “Look, this has to be dealt with in public, even if it causes some people to leave, because allowing this to go on is doing more harm to the church than silently enduring it.” The really sad thing is that I didn’t confront this person earlier; I tried to work with him, gave him important responsibilities, met with him monthly and sometimes weekly, and put up with his temper tantrums. I did this because I thought that he would see that I wasn’t out to get him; that I wanted to be his pastor and give him the Gospel.

      So I think I’m familiar with the general outline. But I think the person involved was just emotionally or mentally ill. I mean, I can’t see it any other way. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t culpable for his actions. The church was already struggling, and the conflict with him was at least a partial cause of us losing several more members that we couldn’t afford to lose. And the toll his behavior took on me and my family by extension, as well as the whole congregation by creating a climate of darkness–it was very damaging.

      However, he didn’t get kicked out of the church for being “emotionally abusive”. If he had been disciplined by the church, it would have been for slander, gossip, and working to undermine the ministry of the Gospel.
      The emotional abuse was very, very unpleasant, and if you had to endure that not only where you worked, but also at home, that would be a very difficult situation. But again, this is different from just “verbal abuse.” This is dealing with a mentally ill person–a sociopath of some kind.

      If such a person was unwilling to get help, separating might be appropriate.

      But I’ve seen and heard way too many examples of wives who accused their husbands of “verbal abuse” because, essentially, they just didn’t want to be married anymore. It happens all the time, and it’s exceedingly easy for a woman to do it.

      The situation you’re describing, and I think I’m describing, is also totally different from other examples of what might be called abuse. I know of husbands who for many years yelled at their wives and cussed them out for whatever reason. Was that abuse? Absolutely. Is it the same kind of thing you’re describing and I’m describing? Absolutely not! The person I’m talking about never raised his voice or swore at me. He was very moral and fastidious. He just tried to destroy my ministry, career, and reputation.

      What I don’t want to see is a situation where women believe that any time their husband swears at them or says something insulting in anger, they now have biblical grounds for divorce–in addition to societal approval. And I don’t see how this can be avoided once “abuse” language gets adopted by the Church.

      If you have to separate from your spouse because she’s mentally ill and harming the children, there is probably justification for that. Or a husband who is so physically violent that his wife’s life is in danger–Luther saw that as grounds for divorce. Verbal abuse/emotional abuse by itself leaves the door wide open to the many women who simply decide they don’t want to be subject to their husbands.

      As far as me getting more training, I’m never opposed to that, and there have been situations where I’ve been unsure what the right thing was for a spouse to do. But not in my congregation. I think I’m not unique in saying that people simply don’t come to their pastors, by and large, when they want to get a divorce. They just go get a divorce. The person who agonizes over it like you is not generally what I am dealing with. I deal with people who don’t get married in the first place, generally. In cases where people decide to get divorced, they don’t think twice about it. This being my experience (and I think it’s not unusual) you can see how I would look differently at the issue.

      Here is the link I promised in another comment to Luther’s sermon on Marriage, although I suspect you may have read it already.

      https://www.1215.org/lawnotes/misc/marriage/martin-luther-estate-of-marriage.pdf

  1. March 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm
  2. March 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm
  3. March 15, 2013 at 11:24 pm
  4. April 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

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