Are Pastors at Heritage Bible Chapel Re-Abusing Wives Harmed in Abusive Marriages?

"Marie… I'm being honest… I already sort of knew that about [your husband]. Remember the Triathlon Bible Study? One night I saw [your husband] pacing back and forth in front of the doors where we held the study. He was panting, fists closed, face beet red… and if looks could kill… I'd be dead. My spirit knew. And I was scared for you…"

Eyewitness Testimony at Heritage Bible Chapel

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=41129&picture=woman-and-teddy-bear

Woman and Teddy Bear

As the world gets smaller and smaller, we are discovering that some of our sisters in Christ outside of our friendship circle are not blessed with husbands who love them as Christ loves the church. Thanks to the marvels of the internet, we recently discovered that a married woman who lives in Massachusetts has been suffering from emotional and psychological abuse by her husband for the vast majority of their marriage. After twenty l-o-n-g years, she and her husband finally severed their marital ties through divorce. But that's just the beginning of her awful story… Since informing her pastors nine months ago that she and her husband had signed divorce papers, they (the pastors) have been working tirelessly to bring about a reconciliation.

We are grateful to 'Marie' (her real name) for having the courage to come forward and share her heartbreaking story… 

We are sharing Part 1 today and will post another installment on Friday. Please be in prayer for Marie, whom we greatly admire for her courage and strength.


Marie met her former husband in Bulgaria when she was in her early 20’s. Initially he seemed congenial and affectionate, and six weeks after they first met, Marie (who is American) agreed to marry. They then agreed to move back to the United States temporarily (“for a year”). Almost as soon as they arrived in Massachusetts, Marie's then husband began to change. What followed was a 20-year nightmare of constant verbal, emotional, and psychological torment.

Although Marie's ex-husband never physically assaulted her, he became increasingly violent and angry over the last several years. Screaming rages; constant humiliation; false accusations and criticism – followed by his seething silently and glowering at family members for days afterwards – became a way of life for her.

In the summer of 2014, Marie's ex-husband's rages and false accusations became so out of control that Marie told him then they were divorcing. At that point she had been pleading with him for the previous 12 years to go together to biblical counseling, and he had always angrily refused, insisting she was “the crazy one”. Suddenly, when Marie told her then husband that she was divorcing him, he became remorseful and asked to go to biblical counseling.

It is worth noting that Heritage Bible Chapel (HBC) had recently gone through a church split of sorts and did not have a counseling ministry. The certified biblical counselors, along with two pastors, had left HBC. At that point in time, Tim Cochrell (the senior pastor) had been at HBC for about two years but did not do counseling, and Kevin Wright, the current counseling pastor, had not yet been hired.

Marie found a biblical counselor (ACBC) in Central Massachusetts, Pastor Mark Marquis, and she and her ex-husband had a few months’ sessions with him (he had permission to contact Pastor Tim if he wished). Pastor Mark recognized the destructive nature of Marie's ex-husband’s anger right away, and most of the counseling focused on that. For a few months things were quieter and more congenial. Then the silent treatments, passive-aggressive behavior, stonewalling, and hurtful sarcasm began again. A few months later, the screaming rages (usually over trivial things) were in full swing. It got worse and worse……all the while, the family attended church every Sunday.

Many of Marie's co-workers, two women from the neighborhood, and five women from the church knew about and had approached her over the last few years with concerns about what they were noticing. They were genuinely concerned for Marie. Desperate to get away from the tyranny, Marie gave up almost all of the assets to which she was entitled in a mediated divorce. On February 1, 2016, Marie left with her car and personal belongings.

In March 2016, Marie went to her two pastors and told them she had left her ex-husband and that divorce papers had been signed weeks earlier. She explained that she and her ex-husband had already done months of biblical counseling in 2014. Within months after those counseling sessions, her then-husband reverted back to his abusive behavior and attitude towards Marie, not seeing any issues with his behavior. Marie's pastors were surprised by this news regarding her troubled marriage and impending divorce, but seemed understanding and compassionate.

Eight days later, Marie's pastors asked her to meet with them to “answer a few questions”. The meeting turned into a two-hour interrogation. The pastors' minds were already made up before she entered the room that “abuse, even physical abuse, is never biblical grounds for divorce”. (It should be noted that there are MANY biblical counselors and pastors who do not agree with this position.)

This was a horrible experience for Marie, as her pastors tried to back her into a corner using every Scripture possible to convince her that God never permits divorce (even citing Hosea and Gomer as a proof text). In that two hours of exegetical debate, Marie cited many verses demonstrating God’s protection and provision for the innocent; the marriage contract of Deuteronomy; Paul’s principle of abandonment; Jesus’ notable refusal to send the woman of John 10 back to her ex-husband(s); Ephesians 4 emphasizing the covenantal importance of husbands loving their wives; and the point of Malachi (God’s hatred of unjust divorce, where men were treacherously abandoning their wives). Absolutely nothing Marie said mattered to her pastors; they told her at the end of the meeting that they did not feel any abuse justified divorce. She asked them repeatedly to show her where in the Bible a divorced woman (abused or not) was forced to return to her ex-husband, and they could not. (Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well does not indicate that He told her to ‘reconcile’ with any of her former husbands.)

It is significant that even at that meeting in March, the senior pastor (Tim) and the counseling pastor (Kevin)

(A) claimed to believe Marie;

(B) claimed to view emotional abuse just as seriously as physical abuse (perhaps more so); and

(C) are good, seemingly compassionate men whom she considered friends. They and their wives had been guests in Marie and her ex-husband's home; they were all friendly (this is significant because Marie is not claiming that anyone had a personal axe to grind against her). She believes, in the words of one counselor, that they were “very well-intentioned, but terribly misguided”.

While the facts of the abuse were not (at least at that point) in dispute, Marie's pastors insisted ‘reconciliation’ was the goal and that Marie was expected to comply. She knew reconciliation was not possible because her ex-husband had reiterated and demonstrated many times in those 20 years that he was NOT going to change. We understand that his defensive, unrepentant attitude continues to the present day and that he completely blames Marie for his anger problems, refusing to admit he has a serious problem.

After meeting with the two HBC pastors in March 2016, the pressure to ‘reconcile’ started immediately. This meant, for them, counseling sessions until they determined Marie's ex-husband was ‘repentant’ at which time Marie would be expected to return to him. Marie's extremely intelligent, calculating ex had one obsession – control. Abusers never want their victims to leave. They will do anything to re-gain control. There were many tricks and intimidation tactics over the next several months, which Marie reported to Tim – to no avail. Pastor Tim even told her that his conversation with her abuser “was just to get his perspective on the divorce”.

It was at this point that Marie started to suspect (and was later proven right) that this whole case was being terribly mishandled. The pastors evidently never actually dealt with the abuse, and the effect was that it worsened. Marie had tried every way she knew how to be the godly, submissive wife God had called her to be, in spite of the increasing verbal and emotional abuse. The more submissive she became, the more abusive her ex-husband became. It was a vicious cycle. When a hospital chaplain was informed about this situation, he described it as “the worst case of psychological abuse I have ever heard of in a Christian marriage, in over 25 years.”

Then on May 5th, Marie received an email from Pastor Tim telling her that she and her ex-husband were going to do the counseling “with the ultimate goal of reconciliation” because of Matthew 18. (The divorce had been processed through Worcester Probate Court two months earlier.) In three paragraphs, he used the word “reconcile” or “reconciliation” 14 times. There was a parenthetical reference to repentance on her abuser’s part, but it was clear he had one agenda: to get Marie back together with her ex-husband (who was, and remains, totally unrepentant). Marie was already under an enormous amount of stress, and that vaguely threatening message from the pastor caused her to have what she now knows was a panic attack at work the next day. She was unable to breathe, shaking uncontrollably, and crying. Fortunately, she works in a hospital and her boss, who knew about her situation (including the pressure from her pastor), paged the hospital chaplain. The two of them sat with Marie until she calmed down and told her in no uncertain terms that HBC is a very toxic, spiritually unhealthy place to be. Marie was referred to a domestic abuse specialist, whom she saw twice, and was diagnosed with PTSD.

A male member of HBC (who is extremely adept theologically) read Pastor Tim’s coercive emails to Marie and offered to speak to Tim on her behalf.  He told her, “They’re doing “Matthew 18” on the wrong spouse.” As one of Marie's first defenders, this man and his wife read all the pressuring emails as they came in and supported Marie throughout the ordeal. Later, other church members came forward telling Marie they disagreed with HBC leadership's stance on abuse and divorce generally and their treatment of her personally.

Although no one contested that Marie was the victim, the pastors were tightening the net around her. They wanted Marie to come in for another meeting – her, Pastors Tim and Kevin, and her ex-husband – so they could “look at the Word of God together”. Marie, who is a trained biblical counselor, had a lengthy phone conversation with one of her colleagues who told her she had seen this scenario play out many times before by pastors who were knowledgeable and caring, but they just didn’t understand emotional abuse. Marie's biblical counseling colleague offered to speak to Tim (which she did. She explained to him the lengthy process her center goes through to ensure repentance is genuine – a minimum of a year, usually longer, before any talk of reconciliation occurs). Then Marie's friend and colleague advised her not to let herself be put in that kind of situation ever again – with the two pastors cornering her in a room along with her ex-husband!

A month or so later Marie sent Pastors Tim and Kevin a podcast of an excellent teaching her colleague did at a conference on counseling emotional abuse, which they appreciated. Marie did exactly as she advised her to do – even submitting to counseling herself with another biblical counselor for a couple months. Pastor Tim’s agenda was for the counselor to groom Marie to return to her ex-husband at some undetermined date. The counselor was reluctant to do so; not sure at all that this was God’s will. She explained to Tim her reservations and that her agenda was to focus strictly on Marie's relationship with God.

During this time Marie was attending a DivorceCare support group at a neighboring evangelical church. The curriculum that was taught was almost entirely by ACBC and CCEF counselors. The DivoreCare facilitator disagreed not only with Marie's pastor's stance, but also with his misuse of Matthew 18.

The same month, Marie and Pastor Tim had a lengthy and seemingly positive conversation by phone in which Marie was able to explain more characteristics of her ex-husband’s personality disorder. Her main concern was whether and how the pastors/elders would be able to gauge repentance. Would her ex be able to fool Pastors Tim and Kevin by just saying the right words and doing the merry-go-round of counseling again? Pastor Tim agreed that reconciliation was dependent upon real repentance, so that was good. Marie set two conditions to any talks of ‘reconciliation’: first, that her ex have a full medical and psychiatric assessment, as she was very concerned about his irrational behavior, inconsistent short-term memory, and manifestations of NPD; and secondly, that he admit to the documented abuse and actually repent this time without ‘retracting’ his repentance (as he had before). Tim agreed to these terms and also assured Marie that this was going to be a long, long process whereby no talk of reconciliation would happen under any circumstances for at least a year.

Neither of the above conditions were ever met. Ten weeks later Marie received another email from Pastor Tim asking her where she and her ex-husband were in the ‘reconciliation process’ and what ‘growth and change’ she had seen in her ex.

Marie was shocked, as she had documented everything (including dates, specific statements and incidents, as well as sources). When Pastor Tim asked her about ‘growth and change’, weeks after receiving her pleas for help, Marie responded with a very lengthy and detailed email indicating there had been no repentance by her ex-husband and that no reconciliation process could therefore take place. Divorce had clearly been the correct and only decision in Marie's case. In early August, Pastor Tim preached a sermon on divorce that concerned a number of people in the church because he stated that abuse is not valid grounds for divorce. During some of their conversations, Pastor Tim did confirm for Marie that he believes the Bible allows for separation but not divorce.

For most of August Marie was out of the country on a missions trip; however, she had already begun attending another local church where a close friend – a woman driven out of HBC under very similar circumstances – attends. Marie was unable to heal while attending Heritage Bible Chapel, which is totally understandable because not only did she have to see her ex-husband each time, but she was constantly being pressured to participate in ‘the reconciliation process’ (her ex's lack of repentance notwithstanding). The new church Marie was attending (Cana Community) was planted by a former leader at HBC who is very familiar with Marie's case and that of several other women who have been through similar ordeals.

Over the last 10-12 years, there have been many divorces at HBC (for different reasons), and consistently it is the women who are pressured to reconcile. When they refuse, they are sent an official letter putting them out of the church. This has happened so many times that it has become standard operating procedure. Marie learned that there were secret meetings with hand-picked church members speaking against them, and no matter what the women (in abuse cases) produced as evidence, the husbands were always believed (and in some cases, remain in the church to this day). Marie knows two of the women who had to leave HBC because their abusive husbands managed to convince the elders they were innocent. One woman went to them, police report in hand, and was still told that biblically she had no choice but to ‘reconcile’. Like Marie, she refused and was put out of the church. Marie simply left on her own initiative, knowing that she was 100% in the right. Now she is in a much healthier, Christ-honoring environment where love is preached alongside doctrine. Marie's new pastor has told her that he has seen Matthew 18 misapplied many times and used as a weapon, and has defended her to HBC leadership.

A very important point that must be made is that most (if not all) of these cases which were mishandled (prior to Marie's) happened before Tim and Kevin came to Heritage Bible Chapel. Current leadership was not personally responsible in these prior situations. Some of these women were put out of the church a decade or more ago. However, Pastor Tim cannot deny or plead ignorance to these cases (as he did in an email to Marie dated October 14, 2016) because

(1) HBC keeps scrupulous minutes of meetings, and

(2) a few months earlier, the son of one of the women went and talked to him about the unfair way his mother and other women had been treated.

Another woman (not divorced) left HBC because a former counseling pastor had taught in an adult Sunday School that even if a wife is being beaten, she cannot divorce her husband. A long-time church member then stood up and gave examples of when it might be ‘acceptable’ to slap one’s wife. A furor resulted, and the senior pastor (now retired) tried to do damage control although several people still left the church. These are not recent events, but allegedly there is a long history of marital abuse being swept under the rug at HBC. The onus for ‘reconciliation’ (at all costs) is being put on the women, which is wrong, patently unfair, and unchristian.

On October 5, 2016, Marie's ex-husband, enraged about an objective article she had published about the prevalence of abuse in Christian Slavic marriages, sent her an extremely sarcastic email in which he “demanded” that she revert to her maiden name (which she is not legally bound to do, nor does she intend to do for professional reasons). Two days later, he entrapped her outside his Westboro, Massachusetts office on the pretext of wanting to talk about their children. For two hours he proceeded to tear Marie apart, claiming that his bitterness and anger problems were all, 100% her fault because she was “unsubmissive”. He even admitted to her, with a smirk on his face, that he had played off his abuse to the counseling pastor as “a joke….Kevin laughed about it!”. He had minimized reality and somehow, even with lengthy, repeated testimony, managed to convince the counseling pastor that his verbal abuse was “a misunderstanding” and he was “misunderstood”. He continued to bash Marie and tell her that she was going to hell for her ‘rebellion’. It is doubtful that Pastors Tim and Kevin are aware of this intimidation, as Marie's ex sits in the sanctuary every Sunday with his arms lovingly draped around his kids’ shoulders.

About this time, one of Marie's friends (who has known about her abusive marriage since 2004) posted an article on her Facebook Timeline by Boz Tchividjian, along with the comment "Sound familiar?"  Boz's article discussed churches that erroneously send victimized wives back to their abusive husbands. This is the article in question:

#WhyIStayed: How Some Churches Support Spousal Abuse

Marie had never heard of Boz Tchividjian, but she thought it was a great article that accurately described her marital experience, and said so. There were a number of comments, and a day or two later Marie's 76-year-old mother re-posted the link, and tagged Marie with a comment in her defense. She named Heritage Bible Chapel as needing to be more compassionate with victims of domestic abuse. HBC leaders then got upset because they’d been exposed. The story (via Marie's ex-husband) took on a life of its own and grew into Marie’s mother “sending a letter to the church”. (There was no letter, from anyone. It was simply a FB comment).

In point of fact, Marie’s “supporters”, as Tim derisively called them, were immediate family members and a couple close friends who had known Marie for decades and in some cases were eyewitnesses to the abuse. Those close to the situation who have read the emails Pastor Tim sent to Marie have been appalled. In all of these cases, few as they were, the people who made comments or shared something knew far, FAR more about the situation than either Tim or the HBC elders.

Tim also referred to abuse as a “marital difficulty” in one email and said there was “bilateral sin”, which in context seemed to imply that Marie was somehow partially at fault for the abuse. He made veiled threats about her reputation, which was the beginning of a smear campaign that started after Marie had sent a certified letter in September, revoking her membership at HBC.

He also accused Marie of “slander of her church and pastors”, but neither she nor anyone else close to the situation has stated anything untrue. Slander, by definition, must be false. The HBC leadership seems to be upset because to a certain extent the unbiblical way abuse cases have been handled is being exposed, (in some cases by other victims commenting on the links about their experiences), but that is hardly the same thing as slander. As for Marie, she just wants to distance herself from all the hurt the pastors at Heritage Bible Chapel have put her through – not stir up more. But they continued to accuse her of sin and harass her to come in for more reconciliation talks even months after she resigned from the church and had a no-contact order sent. The fact that Marie's abuser remains unrepentant in his sin and categorically refuses to admit he is an abuser is being ignored. It appears they need a scapegoat – someone to be on the receiving end of ‘church discipline’. Abuse victims are more vulnerable targets and usually easier to manipulate than their abusers, who are masters at control and psychological mind games.

But this time, the one who was abused decided to stand up to them – and tell the truth.

Regardless of who will listen.

Thank God some at Marie's former church have not only listened to her testimony but have spoken out publicly (see screen shots of a couple of comments posted on social media).  There are others…

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There will be MUCH MORE to share in our upcoming post, so stay tuned…

Comments

Are Pastors at Heritage Bible Chapel Re-Abusing Wives Harmed in Abusive Marriages? — 362 Comments

  1. Whenever I hear “Mathew 18” referenced, I feel sick. It is so terribly misunderstood and used to hurt people, so sad!

  2. “They’re doing “Matthew 18” on the wrong spouse.”
    Sigh— Matthew 18 being “done” on even the right spouse by church leaders is— positively Unbibical and Ungospelly. But of course they “done” it to the wrong spouse because– the wrong spouse always seems unforgiving and “bitter” one while the right spouse seems penitent and cooperative.

  3. I’m glad Marie decided to share her story here. It’s very brave. I will be praying for her continued peace, and for truth to become clear to everyone.

  4. Surprise, surprise! It appears that HBC church leaders are New Calvinists. There is a theological pattern in these abuse stories of pastors continuing to harass members who choose to leave their churches rather than subjecting themselves to questionable counsel. If a believer wants to leave a church, they should have the freedom to do so. New Calvinist pastors lead by control, manipulation and intimidation … and they get upset if a member won’t allow them to do that.

  5. Deb wrote:

    For the record, Pastor Tim holds a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor Kevin has an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also, Kevin is currently finishing his Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling degree at SEBTS. What are they teaching in seminary these days???

    Well, the short answer to that question is "New Calvinism." Those two seminaries are SBC training grounds for the young, restless and reformed. We are seeing that indoctrination play out in the way these young pastors treat members when they get their hands on a church. That's the "pattern" I refer to in my upstream comment.

  6. I am concerned by one of the comments in the post, this:

    “I know the ultimate goal is to see the way Christ sees. But it’s not easy getting there from the human perspective.”

    Not sure what is being taught about Christ in that Church, but His viewpoint would never be to want anyone to remain in a situation where their human dignity and possibly their safety was imperiled. The second thing I see in this comment is that there is a ‘divide’ between ‘the way Christ sees’ and ‘the human perspective’ which tells me that this person does not get it that Our Lord completely understands our human perspective because He shares it, having assumed our humanity to Himself. In Christ, we have the One Person who DOES understand fully our human situation; He is not distant from any one of us. He is not unsympathetic with our burdens and our cares.

    In short, He’s on our side.

    What is being taught in that Chapel about Christ may be a part of the problem: that to be a follower of Christ, you have to ignore your own reality and exist attempting to cope with a reality that is abusive and destructive. That is not our faith. That is not Our Lord.

    I do appreciate that the person commenting understood that ‘leadership has a shallow view of what goes on in marriages’ because that is reflected in how the leadership has ‘counseled’ Marie to not take what she is being put through seriously, to suck it up, and stay ‘reconciled’ to hell on Earth with someone who is likely very emotionally ill and possibly dangerous to her eventually.

    When a person is advised to ignore their own reality and to not use their God-given reasoning, you know the people ‘counseling’ them are not honoring God in the process.

  7. A few thoughts:

    Life is too short to put up with this kind of (religious) harassment. And let’s be clear, this is continued and ongoing harassment on the part of the pastors.

    I’d say these guys so deserve a picket, but their house of worship is really out in the country with no curbs on a two-lane road. And it’s winter. And I’m (currently) in Arizona. I’ll have to keep it in mind for a future trip to Massachusetts.

  8. ishy wrote:

    I’m glad Marie decided to share her story here. It’s very brave. I will be praying for her continued peace, and for truth to become clear to everyone.

    Good for her.

    The thing about these men, they only have as much power as they are given. Tell them they are wrong, leave and tell the world. Do it again and again and again.

  9. Hi, this is Marie – thanks for interviewing me and contacting the church, and exposing this! I just noticed one tiny mistake I wanted to correct: “she thought it was a great article that accurately described her marital experience, and said so.”

    Actually, my comment back then referred to it being just like my CHURCH experience; not marriage. That comment was misunderstood by HBC leadership, and in a later email, they tried to claim I had said my marriage was “physically abusive” by saying “the article was exactly like my experience”. The point of the article was about CHURCHES that push spouses back to different types of abusers, and that was what I was claiming “accurately described” my ordeal.

    Interesting though how they tried to twist that statement.

  10. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    The point of the article was about CHURCHES that push spouses back to different types of abusers, and that was what I was claiming “accurately described” my ordeal.

    These ‘churches’ do not speak for God.

  11. @ Marie Notcheva:
    Welcome to TWW! You are among friends!

    I went over and looked at that article by Boz Tchividjian when I was putting the post together and saw that it was discussing physical abuse. While that is inexcusable, emotional and psychological abuse can be even more damaging.

    http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/whats-worse-physical-scars-or-mental-scars/

    What’s Worse: Physical Scars or Mental Scars?

    If you asked anyone who hasn’t experienced psychological abuse what is worse: psychological or physical abuse, you’d probably hear the latter as the answer more frequently. When we think of physical abuse, we tend to think of it as more damaging because it leaves behind obvious reminders of its occurrence. Sometimes these take a transient form, as in bruises or cuts, but other times they may remain with us for a lifetime in the form of scars or permanent injury.

    Someone who has endured psychological abuse bears scars of their own, however. Psychological abuse, also called emotional or mental abuse, involves behavior that creates mental trauma. The behavior can take the form of verbal attacks, controlling behavior, or jealous behavior and can involve intimidation, threats, and forced isolation from friends and family.

    Psychological abuse of this sort can cause long-lasting damage. It can result in the development of disorders like post-traumatic stressTypes of Domestic Violence disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, and/or depression. These problems may linger long after the abusive relationship has ended, thus begging the question: is mental abuse just as bad as physical abuse?

    The research indicates that it is just as bad and, in some cases, may be worse.

  12. Oh – also, those screenshots were PRIVATE messages from people at HBC who reached out to me on their own initiative. That’s why I redacted their names – so they don’t suffer reprisals from HBC leadership. I never shared my story publicly.

  13. This reminds me of a situation that often occurs within Jewish communities:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agunah

    I remember reading about it. There was a politician whose staffer was an Orthodox Jew who had left his wife but also refused to grant her a divorce certificate. Other Jews, especially women, got upset and were lobbying the politician to get his staffer to shape up or else fire him.

    Something tells me that if it had been a man who divorced his wife, the church leaders wouldn’t really care. It’s only women divorcing their husbands that they see as a threat. That does remind me a lot of the agunah situation.

    By the way, are the kids safe around their father? With personality issues like those, I’d be a little worried.

  14. Max wrote:

    Surprise, surprise! It appears that HBC church leaders are New Calvinists. There is a theological pattern in these abuse stories of pastors continuing to harass members who choose to leave their churches rather than subjecting themselves to questionable counsel. If a believer wants to leave a church, they should have the freedom to do so. New Calvinist pastors lead by control, manipulation and intimidation … and they get upset if a member won’t allow them to do that.

    At my ex-church – Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley – a godly, middle-aged woman who worked in finance left for a saner church because she was alarmed by the abuses at GBFSV and unbiblical authoritiarianism. The pastors/elders ordered her to be harassed by church members to “repent”.

    OK, the decision of the pastors/elders crosses the line in to the territory of a criminal conspiracy. Ordering someone to be harassed is stalking.

    It’s high time that these NeoCalvinist authoritarians at these churches face arrest and prosecution. They aren’t above the law.

  15. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    @ MidwesternEasterner:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    Good to know.

  16. Deb wrote:

    I’m glad you have some supportive friends.

    Supportive friends are a gift.
    Kudos to Marie, I’m emotionally drained just reading, I cannot imagine the strength needed to deal with it as she has. I also hope Marie puts plenty of distance between herself and HBC and her ex, actually for HBC I hope everybody does.

    Reading through the narrative above I found the continued misuse of Matthew 18 has become so repugnant I now have a visceral reaction against it.

  17. I know I'm just spitting into the wind here, but why can't the wives of these bone -headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ??? If my husband (neither a pastor nor a counselor) behaved any such way towards an abused woman and I knew about it …………….

    Well, he'd change his ways or be a mighty miserable man. I can think of a few dozen ways to make him quite uncomfortable and very embarrassed!

  18. I read a post like this with a growing fury. I have been away from the church for almost two years and every time I read a story like this I realize yet again how worthless and misguided most churches are. Especially those who hold a fundamentalist view of scriptures. Sometimes I think it'd be nice to go to a church again, make some friends, be part of a community. But then I remember how I let myself be spiritually and emotionally controlled by the church and its minions multiple times before I realized I didn't have to live like this any more. As a man who loves my wife and would die to protect her my heart goes out to Marie. Thank you for your courage. May all abusers reap the just desserts of their deeds.

  19. May I ask a question? I’m not poking a stick here; I’m asking.

    On what basis do these “pastors”/”churches” make these claims, that physical abuse is not grounds for separation / divorce?

    Is it based on the vows of “for better or for worse”?

    What is it? Is it the breaking of a contract? If so, a contract is invalid if one party or the other breaks the terms, or never intended to fulfill them. So what’s their beef? They call physical abuse “love, honor and cherish”-ing?

    I know that most of the people being discussed do not believe that marriage is sacramental. So what is it?

    I don’t understand their basis for making these claims. At all.

  20. In his commentary on Galatians, William Perkins – said by some to have been the father of the Puritans – makes this observation when discussing 5:21 and in particular the meaning of the word ‘ seditions’ – division or separation and the blame attached thereto. He gives the following example. “A man threatens death to his wife. Hereupon she separates. Yet not she but he makes the separation and the fault is in him”.
    That seems to me to be the correct view to take. The wife is entitled to separate without any blame being attached to her or any punishment imposed. It is the husband who has caused the separation and it is he who should face discipline.

  21. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    @ MidwesternEasterner:
    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    Keep an eye out. In my personal experience the abuser picks a new target as soon as the original target is truly gone. Will be praying for you.

  22. PaJo wrote:

    May I ask a question? I’m not poking a stick here; I’m asking.

    On what basis do these “pastors”/”churches” make these claims, that physical abuse is not grounds for separation / divorce?

    Is it based on the vows of “for better or for worse”?

    What is it? Is it the breaking of a contract? If so, a contract is invalid if one party or the other breaks the terms, or never intended to fulfill them. So what’s their beef? They call physical abuse “love, honor and cherish”-ing?

    I know that most of the people being discussed do not believe that marriage is sacramental. So what is it?

    I don’t understand their basis for making these claims. At all.

    You ask a very good question.
    I don’t understand it, either. I *think* it is made up to force women (& abused men as well!) into untenable situations in a play for power.
    I really do. Because the Bible just doesn’t support the kind of interpretation that these guys seem to be claiming.

  23. Lowlandseer wrote:

    In his commentary on Galatians, William Perkins – said by some to have been the father of the Puritans – makes this observation when discussing 5:21 and in particular the meaning of the word ‘ seditions’ – division or separation and the blame attached thereto. He gives the following example. “A man threatens death to his wife. Hereupon she separates. Yet not she but he makes the separation and the fault is in him”.
    That seems to me to be the correct view to take. The wife is entitled to separate without any blame being attached to her or any punishment imposed. It is the husband who has caused the separation and it is he who should face discipline.

    I believe that this is right.

  24. Nancy2 wrote:

    I know I’m just spitting into the wind here, but why can’t the wives of these bone -headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ??? If my husband (neither a pastor nor a counselor) behaved any such way towards an abused woman and I knew about it …………….
    Well, he’d change his ways or be a mighty miserable man. I can think of a few dozen ways to make him quite uncomfortable and very embarrassed!

    I love your spirit, NANCY TWO …… you have an advocate's heart and a backbone to match 🙂

  25. PaJo wrote:

    May I ask a question? I’m not poking a stick here; I’m asking.
    On what basis do these “pastors”/”churches” make these claims, that physical abuse is not grounds for separation / divorce?
    Is it based on the vows of “for better or for worse”?
    What is it? Is it the breaking of a contract? If so, a contract is invalid if one party or the other breaks the terms, or never intended to fulfill them. So what’s their beef? They call physical abuse “love, honor and cherish”-ing?
    I know that most of the people being discussed do not believe that marriage is sacramental. So what is it?
    I don’t understand their basis for making these claims. At all.

    If they are following Ware’s theology, then women are not made in the image of God. Therefore, they are owned by men when they get married. But as we discussed elsewhere, pets are probably treated better than wives in hyper-Calvinism.

    The real basis of all of it is selfishness and power control games. None of it really has anything to do with the Bible, that’s just the method of control they’ve chosen.

  26. If the royal law is to love thy neighbour as thyself – As Jesus, Paul, James and John remind us in the NT – then of course abuse is grounds for divorce even if there is no textual support for it. These guys have made a golden calf out of an institution and sacrificed human beings at the altar.

  27. A bully by any other name is a bully.
    And unless you stand up to them and confront them they will never change.
    God gives women His wisdom and strength is they can listen and then act on it.
    Stop being victims and stand up for yourself. Be wise as you rock the boat of complacency and change however, because these men go crazy when they are confronted.
    Their egos are so fragile and they need to be in control.
    Don’t place yourself or your children in danger.

    Romans 12:18 As much as lies within you live at peace with all men
    Sometimes you just can't take any more.

  28. old timer wrote:

    A bully by any other name is a bully.

    And a bully seems to include not only the abusive spouse but the religious leaders also who love to force the letter of the law on women when the leaders should be adhering to the Spirit of the law.

  29. @ Lowlandseer:

    Yes. Marie and I had an interesting discussion about her training in Biblical Counseling. 

    I wonder if Marie's book review, published several years ago by The Gospel Coalition, will be removed from their website.  😉

  30. Nancy2 wrote:

    I know I’m just spitting into the wind here, but why can’t the wives of these bone -headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ??? If my husband (neither a pastor nor a counselor) behaved any such way towards an abused woman and I knew about it …………….
    Well, he’d change his ways or be a mighty miserable man. I can think of a few dozen ways to make him quite uncomfortable and very embarrassed!

    I’m sure the husbands who are telling wives to stay with abusers would be equally hard to deal with in a marriage, right? At least, if a wife took a stand how would they react?

    But there are different standards for men and women.

  31. PaJo wrote:

    I know that most of the people being discussed do not believe that marriage is sacramental. So what is it?

    Well, Gary Thomas believes marriage is to make us holy not happy! Some people seem to be inching towards sacraments in their beliefs, and they seem to see covenant as a blood oath or something that can never be broken even if the other party doesn't hold up to standards, rather than a contract.

  32. @ Lowlandseer:
    Yep! I do. Which is why the cross-examination in March went on for 2 hours instead of being over in 10-15 minutes….I knew in advance what verses they were going to try and use to back me into a corner and know the circular arguments, so I was prepared.

    It doesn’t matter in patriarchy circles how many degrees you have if you’re a woman. You will still be sent to the “back of the bus”, so to speak. Yeah……no. I’m SO done with misogyny. 🙂

  33. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    It doesn’t matter in patriarchy circles how many degrees you have if you’re a woman.

    You cannot change someone’s mind on this, just like you can’t change someone’s heart. Sometimes you have to just move on.

    Bless you!

  34. Lea wrote:

    Some people seem to be inching towards sacraments in their beliefs, and they seem to see covenant as a blood oath or something that can never be broken even if the other party doesn’t hold up to standards, rather than a contract.

    I know several hyper-Calvinist men who believe that only men have the authority to make contracts. Women are just property to be owned. The contract is with her father and/or the church. Which is why the pastors goad women into staying, because the men believe that by supporting that church, helping keep the women from leaving is part of the contract.

  35. @ Deb:
    That would have been an interesting discussion, given the reservations expressed about Nouthetic counselling here.

  36. Lea wrote:

    Marie Notcheva wrote:
    It doesn’t matter in patriarchy circles how many degrees you have if you’re a woman.
    You cannot change someone’s mind on this, just like you can’t change someone’s heart. Sometimes you have to just move on.
    Bless you!

    Oh yes, Lea. I moved on….months ago. With my head held high; my faith intact; and the unwavering support of my new church leadership. HBC is the one who chose to pursue this…..they are so far on the wrong side of the law I almost feel sorry for them.

    And you know what’s ironic? All I wanted was an apology. And then to be left alone. That still hasn’t happened.

  37. Lowlandseer wrote:

    @ Deb:
    That would have been an interesting discussion, given the reservations expressed about Nouthetic counselling here.

    Trust me, there is MUCH in nouthetic/’biblical’ counseling that is ANYTHING but biblical. I have an insider’s view. While the nouthetic approach is (IMO) correct and helpful in certain things such as addiction recovery (I specialize in eating disorders and that was the subject of my first book), the more extreme branch of nouthetic counseling has badly failed in areas like depression and cases like this, where a mis-interpretation of Scripture causes one to badly mishandle marriage counseling. (Abuse is not a marriage counseling issue anyway, but that’s another question.) Recently I had a lengthy discussion with a high-ranking biblical counselor about this, and he agreed with me – but remember, there is a whole spectrum of schools of thought under the ‘biblical counseling’ mantle. They are not all the same (think Jay Adams vs. Ed Welch).

    Anyway, maybe someday I’ll write an article about that….right now, too busy working long days in order to survive.

  38. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I moved on….months ago. With my head held high; my faith intact; and the unwavering support of my new church leadership. HBC is the one who chose to pursue this….

    I am glad. I think it is going to take women being brave like you, and like Karen at TVC, and so many others, and telling them no, and then exposing their error, to make anything happen. At the very least, it serves as a warning to others.

    ishy wrote:

    I know several hyper-Calvinist men who believe that only men have the authority to make contracts.

    Wow.

  39. @ ishy:
    In a Latin-rite (Roman rite) Catholic sacramental marriage: the husband and the wife, as ministers of grace, administer the sacrament of marriage to each other

  40. Max wrote:

    Well, the short answer to that question is “New Calvinism.” Those two seminaries are SBC training grounds for the young, restless and reformed.

    Calvinjugend.
    Some of whom graduate into the Pastorate/SS.

  41. Lea wrote:

    The thing about these men, they only have as much power as they are given. Tell them they are wrong, leave and tell the world.

    But Eternal Hell is quite a motivator to stay.
    God as Pastor’s Enforcer.

  42. Velour wrote:

    It’s high time that these NeoCalvinist authoritarians at these churches face arrest and prosecution. They aren’t above the law.

    Laws of Man or LAW OF GAWD???????
    (i.e. the Justification of the Righteous…)

  43. Christiane wrote:

    @ ishy:
    In a Latin-rite (Roman rite) Catholic sacramental marriage: the husband and the wife, as ministers of grace, administer the sacrament of marriage to each other

    But that’s ROMISH.

  44. Nancy2 wrote:

    I know I’m just spitting into the wind here, but why can’t the wives of these bone-headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ???

    Amen Nancy! Once again, we have this “re-abuse” occurring in a New Calvinist church, with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention (HBC leaders were trained in SBC seminaries). I keep thinking that women ensnared by reformed churches, which have a distorted complementarian view of them, would rise up en masse and declare “Enough is enough!”, then start dragging their sorry husbands/boy friends out of this mess! Listening to a weirdo like John Piper tell them they should “endure smacking” ought to be enough to send New Calvinist women to the exits! What are they thinking?! I suppose it has something to do with their sorry men liking this macho put-your-woman-in-bondage preaching and that they wouldn’t be in church otherwise (at least they are in church, right). The reformed movement which promotes such belief and practice is just sick and wrong.

  45. It’s not surprising to hear they don’t believe in divorce for abuse. Neither does John Piper, and we all know how popular he is. It’s a prevalent teaching.

    Being believed about abuse and being told “but it doesn’t matter- you still are bound in marriage” is the flip side of the coin for not being believed. Neither option is great. Either you are not believable or you are a puncing back. No good answer for that one.

    I was believed.

    I didn’t matter.

    It made me feeling like an object to God. A thing to be used up and thrown away. That he didn’t care about ME- only a marriage. A marriage that only served my ex-wife.

    I wrote these lyrics (which I’m sure I’ve shared before) about how that felt:

    Does it matter who I am?
    They told me it was OK
    That the way that I was made to be should all be wiped away
    I tried to lose that part of me
    And swallow my desire for peace
    But I never overcame the hope that one day I might be free

    I could not let all that I was be emptied and destroyed
    A sacrifice to bring no hope, just one more broken toy

  46. Christiane wrote:

    What is being taught in that Chapel about Christ may be a part of the problem: that to be a follower of Christ, you have to ignore your own reality and exist attempting to cope with a reality that is abusive and destructive. That is not our faith. That is not Our Lord.

    This is correct. I spent YEARS trying to get to a place where anything that was ME was wiped away. Because what was *ME* was hurting and in pain. I kept thinking that my goal in the Christian life was to get rid of *ME* and replace it with Christ. That sanctification was all about replacing myself with Jesus. And while *I* hurt in the marriage, Jesus wouldn’t.

    People would say that’s crazy and why would I think that, but there is so much language we use in the church that supports this horrible view. Talk about replacing the self with Christ and so on. And I realize that this language isn’t intended to convey a message of totally destroying oneself, but when you aren’t healthy, an extreme message can be inferred. But to top it off, a lot of modern worship music and style ALSO supports the idea of “losing yourself”. People go to an “out of mind” place where they sway to the music and appear to transcend themselves. There can be the notion of getting consumed by Christ.

    I remember one line in an otherwise good song by Hillsong: “Rid me of myself, I belong to You”.

    We have to be very careful what we teach when our worship and messages seem to indicate that the goal of the Christian life is to lose our identities, because it isn’t. And when I wrote the lyric “Does it matter who I am?” above, this was a real question I was asking myself and wrestling with, not just a dramatic question to open a song. Because modern Christianity can easily be interpreted to mean that no, it doesn’t matter who we are.

  47. @ Jeff S:
    Jeff, thank you for sharing that. I just subscribed to your blog. Could you please email me at mnotcheva@gmail.com when you have a chance (I didn’t see contact info on your blog?) I’d really like to talk to you about a book I am writing, called “Broken Toys”.

    I am sooooooo sorry you went through this. Often we think only men have the upper hand, but women can be just as abusive. Hope to talk to you soon.

  48. Deb

    You are on heckuva good writer. You pulled me into Marie’s story even though I had already spoken with her and read the documents. It was almost like I was seeing it again through fresh eyes. Thank you.

  49. Dave A A wrote:

    Matthew 18 being “done” on even the right spouse by church leaders is— positively Unbibical and Ungospelly.

    It is one of the most misused verse in the Bible. Sadly, when it is misused, it is usually to abuse church members who are hurting.

  50. Deb wrote:

    For the record, Pastor Tim holds a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor Kevin has an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also, Kevin is currently finishing his Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling degree at SEBTS.

    I had a chance to speak with him and shall write about that encounter next week. Totally.not.impressed. Not one word of concern for Marie. Not one! He needs to join the ranks of some seminary professors who teach because they sure can’t preach the Gospel to God’s hurting people.

  51. Christiane wrote:

    When a person is advised to ignore their own reality and to not use their God-given reasoning, you know the people ‘counseling’ them are not honoring God in the process.

    The one hangs around certain churches to long, especially those who love John Piper, etc. this is what happens. Eventually the abuse nature of the teaching will hurt lots of people.

  52. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    How old are the kids? When my children hit the teen years my ex-husband started abusing them, too. Narcissists are often okay with younger children because they’re cute and make the narc look good. When kids get a little older they are not so adoring and not so cute. He hasn’t seen our kids in several years now. Mine are all in their 20s.

  53. @ Marie Notcheva:
    I am so grateful for the courage you are showing by allowing us to get your story out. Your former pastors come of sounding like a bunch of unloving, ill educated louts. I am so mad at them I could spit. Thankfully, I am not writing until next week about your situation. It is going to take the weekend for me to settle down.

  54. Nancy2 wrote:

    why can’t the wives of these bone -headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ???

    Because these guys are part enough to marry women with no backbone. Also, think about it…could there be abuse in their homes as well?

  55. Another great case study.

    Interestingly enough is a Google search indicates there is a gender gap in churches.

    More women than men attend.

    Given the abuse stories here, I would think it to be the other way round.

    Are the attendees of Calvinist churches mostly men?

  56. Deb wrote:

    Nouthetic/Biblical Counseling

    It’s increasingly clear that church counselors in fundamentalist ranks are focusing more on “Nouthetic” than “Biblical.” “Nouthetic” comes from a NT Greek word meaning “to admonish” or “to correct.” These authoritarian leaders appear to enjoy wielding admonishment and correction, rather than love.

  57. PaJo wrote:

    On what basis do these “pastors”/”churches” make these claims, that physical abuse is not grounds for separation / divorce?

    Because they claim that Jesus only allowed divorce for adultery. now get ready for this, “because their hearts were hard.” John piper claims this means that really gospelly people would not divorce even for adultery.

    Now catch the logic. Piper and presumably the gang at HBC, believe that the *hard of heart* person is the one who was sinned against. That then means that pastors can verbally beat up the abused spouses because their hearts *are hard* and therefore need to be better Christians.

    As I look at that verse, I believe that Jesus is doing something different. The ones with the hard heart of the abusers and Jesus is giving an out to the abused spouse. It is also incorrect that Jesus was making a “just this and no more ” statement. the Bible is much deeper than a superficial reading these guys want. Adultery goes deeper than merely an affair. It it is adultery to cling to one’s rage, ones substance abuse. one’s physical abuse, etc.

    Jesus says it all goes into the heart, There his absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jesus would allow fore divorced in abusive situations. Also, the Hosea and Gomer example is an example of pastoral ignorance in executing Scripture. I shall deal with this when I get to do my *tutorial* on this story.

  58. Christiane wrote:

    In a Latin-rite (Roman rite) Catholic sacramental marriage: the husband and the wife, as ministers of grace, administer the sacrament of marriage to each other

    I notice in the press that Francis has recently tried to address the issue of what now when a couple who allegedly or perhaps actually were in a ‘sacramental’ marriage then divorce, do not pursue a finding of nullity of the marriage, then marry in a non-catholic ceremony and are therefore banned from the eucharist.

    I hope you all get that worked out, but in the meantime it looks to me like all the churches (aka Church and ecclesial communities) have plenty of problems of their own to deal with.

  59. Pastor at HBC

    I know you are reading this. You are abusing Marie and coming off like a bunch of hardhearted louts. This story will affect your church unless you do something to change your course.

    Remember, even other churches disagree with you and we will be getting to that the next time. Shame on all of you!

  60. (((((Marie)))))

    Your story touched my heart and I thank you for your courage and vulnerability in sharing your journey.

    I imagine by now that you’ve learned to decline “invitations” from those pastors, because they don’t have YOUR goodwill in mind. All those hours you suffered, yes, as they re-victimized you. I wouldn’t have had the patience to put up with them. Please don’t give them one more minute of your life. You are worth far more than their derision!

    If only they would invest so much time and effort into feeding the hungry….

  61. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Marie Notcheva wrote:
    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.
    How old are the kids? When my children hit the teen years my ex-husband started abusing them, too. Narcissists are often okay with younger children because they’re cute and make the narc look good. When kids get a little older they are not so adoring and not so cute. He hasn’t seen our kids in several years now. Mine are all in their 20s.

    I understand. I agreed to speak with Dee and Deb on the condition we not bring the kids into it…out of respect for their privacy, I want to focus strictly on the issue of the church adding and compounding to the problem. Tim has made this exponentially more painful for our family, and because of his unwise decision to escalate this I am standing up. It ends NOW – spiritual abuse included.

  62. ishy wrote:

    pets are probably treated better than wives in hyper-Calvinism.

    Oh, yeah. My ex-husband was much better to the dogs then he was to me and the kids.

  63. dee wrote:

    Pastor at HBC
    I know you are reading this. You are abusing Marie and coming off like a bunch of hardhearted louts.

    One of the things that made me so sad reading the comments at that Gary Thomas article was to see all the women saying ‘you are a man. You are an evangelical. I know they will listen to you‘.

    I do hope that they listen to you, dee, but I have my doubts.

  64. Compare the Neo-Calvinista approach in this case with the perspective of Calvin himself…

    Calvin [Institutes 4.12.8.]

    We ought not to pass over the fact that such severity as is
    joined with a ‘spirit of gentleness’ (Gal. 6:1) befits the church. For we must always as Paul bids us, take particular
    care that he who is punished be not overwhelmed with sorrow (II
    Cor. 2:7). Thus a remedy would become destruction.

    But from the purpose intended it would be better to take a rule of moderation. For in excommunication the intent is to lead the sinner to repentance and to remove bad examples from the midst,lest Christ’s name be maligned or others be provoked to imitate them. If, then, we look to
    these things, it will be easy to judge how far severity ought to go and where severity ought to stop.

  65. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I agreed to speak with Dee and Deb on the condition we not bring the kids into it…out of respect for their privacy,

    Absolutely. I feel the same way about my kids.

  66. Deb wrote:

    For the record, Pastor Tim holds a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor Kevin has an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Also, Kevin is currently finishing his Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling degree at SEBTS.

    What are they teaching in seminary these days???

    FUEHRERPRINZIP.

  67. dee wrote:

    He needs to join the ranks of some seminary professors

    He is still connected to them mentally – they did a number on his young mind at SBTS. While there, he was undoubtedly indoctrinated by professors like Bruce Ware – champion of the aberrant doctrine on “Eternal Subordination of the Son”, which has had a corresponding impact on subordination of women believers in New Calvinist churches. These young reformers came out of SBTS messed up and now they are messing up the church.

  68. It is doubtful that Pastors Tim and Kevin are aware of this intimidation, as Marie’s ex sits in the sanctuary every Sunday with his arms lovingly draped around his kids’ shoulders.

    And his Angel of Light mask switched on.

  69. Lea wrote:

    I do hope that they listen to you, dee, but I have my doubts.

    There is a mean streak of arrogance in New Calvinism. These guys won’t listen to anybody – they have it all figured out. They have come into the world for such a time as this to straighten the church out, you know.

  70. Deb wrote:

    @ Marie Notcheva:
    And we would be happy to publish what you have to say about Nouthetic/Biblical Counseling!

    I’d also like to see a commentary comparing Biblical Counseling(TM) to Scientology Auditing, Nouthetics to Dianetics. I predict there would be LOTS of similarity.

  71. Max wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    I do hope that they listen to you, dee, but I have my doubts.
    There is a mean streak of arrogance in New Calvinism. These guys won’t listen to anybody – they have it all figured out. They have come into the world for such a time as this to straighten the church out, you know.

    The Predestined Elect, God’s Speshul Pets Who Can Do No Wrong.
    Just like the Caliph and Mullahs of ISIS/Daesh.

  72. Max wrote:

    dee wrote:
    He needs to join the ranks of some seminary professors
    He is still connected to them mentally – they did a number on his young mind at SBTS.

    Until there is nothing left but
    doubleplusgoodthink INGSOC,
    doubleplusbellyfeel INGSOC,
    doubleplusduckspeak INGSOC.
    He Loved Big Brother.

  73. dee wrote:

    Because they claim that Jesus only allowed divorce for adultery. now get ready for this, “because their hearts were hard.” John piper claims this means that really gospelly people would not divorce even for adultery.

    They have to keep preaching this because otherwise THEIR Widdle Wifeys might get ideas?

  74. Thanks for sharing your story, Marie.

    While this is not what happened to me, it IS what happens to women over and over in evangelical circles. It’s not just this church. I’ve heard this story many times. It’s almost like the pastors are being taught in some class or seminar what to do with an uppity woman.

    One of these days a pastor is going to send a woman back to her abusive husband and she’ll end up dead.

  75. Jack wrote:

    Another great case study.

    Interestingly enough is a Google search indicates there is a gender gap in churches.

    More women than men attend.

    Given the abuse stories here, I would think it to be the other way round.

    Are the attendees of Calvinist churches mostly men?

    I think New Calvinism and the whole “manly” church movement actually originated because some pastors didn’t like the fact that more women than men attended church, and wanted to change that.

  76. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Deb wrote:

    @ Marie Notcheva:
    And we would be happy to publish what you have to say about Nouthetic/Biblical Counseling!

    I’d also like to see a commentary comparing Biblical Counseling(TM) to Scientology Auditing, Nouthetics to Dianetics. I predict there would be LOTS of similarity.

    Up to and including the emphasis on celebrities.

  77. Nancy2 wrote:

    I know I’m just spitting into the wind here, but why can’t the wives of these bone -headed, women-targeting pastors grow some backbone and take a stand for their sisters in Christ???

    Because then Queen Bee would lose all her Privileges of Rank.

    Remember Douggie ESQUIRE and his First Wife’s attitude towards the Handmaid of his harem.

    Or (going secular) Camille (Mrs Bill) Cosby, wife of one of the biggest/richest stars in Hollywood.
    (No matter that her husband is getting outed as not only a womanizer but a predator from way back.)

  78. Marie, if I may, you have said that there was no physical abuse, and I believe you that he did not hit you.

    But what many people don’t realize, even these pastors, is that physically striking is not the only form of physical abuse. Physical INTIMIDATION is a form of physical abuse. If he comes at you with raised fist, yet does not strike you, that counts as physical abuse. If he uses his larger size, or his greater strength, or if he towers over you with the goal to make you cower or give in to him, that is physical abuse because he is using his bodily strength to gain power over you.

    And physical intimidation is only an smidgen away from landing a physical blow, and that is a first step towards striking a possible fatal blow. A husband who kills his wife, does not start with pointing a gun, he starts with anger, intimidation, then moves on to striking and ends with pulling the trigger on the gun.

    A pastor who seeks to love a woman who is an abused wife, will help her escape a potentially fatal situation, not try to coerce her into staying with her abuser.

  79. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    New Calvinism and the whole “manly” church movement

    The first wave of New Calvinist preachers were influenced by macho potty-mouth Mark Driscoll. Men that wouldn’t otherwise darken a church, were drawn to Driscoll’s keep-your-woman-in-place darkness. The Promise Keepers movement drew some men back to church, but nothing like New Calvinism which has targeted Generation Xer and Millennial young men. Women are just tagging along as lesser citizens in the Kingdom – as Matt Chandler says “I preach to men.”

  80. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    One of these days a pastor is going to send a woman back to her abusive husband and she’ll end up dead.

    I’m pretty sure that’s already happened. Probably many times, but was it the Scott Peterson case where the pastor involved changed to advocate for abused women? Maybe just a similar one. I tried to research but there are SO many bad things in the world I couldn’t find it.

  81. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    One of these days a pastor is going to send a woman back to her abusive husband and she’ll end up dead.

    And Pastor will have a Pious and Gospelly excuse, Chapter-and-Verse Proof Texts and all.

  82. @ Jeff S:

    A few weeks ago here, there was a bit of discussion about a claim attributed to Elizabeth Elliot which went something like:

    If God’s called me to be a doormat, I’ll be the best doormat I can be.

    What a beautiful picture of surrender! Furthermore: if God’s called me to be a serial adulterer, I’ll be the best serial adulterer I can be. If God’s called me to be liar, I’ll be the best liar I can be. If God’s called me to be a money-launderer, I’ll be the best money-launderer I can be. If God’s called me… etc… etc… etc.

    If.

    I can think of little biblical evidence of God calling anybody to be a doormat, which is an entirely different thing from the calls (which are found in scripture) to endure persecution with patience. Wanton unrepentant sin is not meant to be welcomed in the church – Paul used to hand people over to statin to be taught not to blaspheme. Likewise, when we find cruelty, suffering and persecution inflicted from within the church, we need a robust response.

  83. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I think New Calvinism and the whole “manly” church movement actually originated because some pastors didn’t like the fact that more women than men attended church, and wanted to change that.

    Which was a legitimate concern; I remember Why Men Quit Going to Church and its accompanying website “Church for Men”, and they seemed above board.

    But then Communism begat Objectivism and “More Manly than Thou/Can You Top This?” and fragile egos of little men got involved. Little Men who can only think in terms of I Must Exalt Myself and Zero Sum Game and Power Struggle. Until now you have Hypermasculinity on the level of Adolf Hitler or the Taliban or the Manosphere PUAs. Genteel/Gospelly coat of paint or no.

  84. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    What a beautiful picture of surrender! Furthermore: if God’s called me to be a serial adulterer, I’ll be the best serial adulterer I can be. If God’s called me to be liar, I’ll be the best liar I can be. If God’s called me to be a money-launderer, I’ll be the best money-launderer I can be. If God’s called me… etc… etc… etc.

    Especially if it’s all been Predestined before The Foundation of the World.
    “GOD WILLS IT!”

  85. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    One of these days a pastor is going to send a woman back to her abusive husband and she’ll end up dead.

    She already did, Elizabeth Lee. Her name was Lyuba Savenok and she lived in Michigan. I wrote about her here: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/2016/09/30/the-culture-of-abuse-in-christian-slavic-marriages/

    Oh BOY were the pastors at HBC upset when the BCC published that article! Meetings were called; accusations were made. And best of all? The nearly 30 messages of thanks I received from women (some Slavic; some not) extremely grateful for my calling attention to this inconvenient truth. 🙂

  86. Max wrote:

    as Matt Chandler says “I preach to men.”

    I know it shouldn’t, but it actually shocks me when I hear people talking like this. I mean, can you imagine going to that kind of church?

  87. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Which was a legitimate concern; I remember Why Men Quit Going to Church and its accompanying website “Church for Men”, and they seemed above board.

    You can come up with a good question but a wrong answer. Easily.

  88. Lea wrote:

    I know it shouldn’t, but it actually shocks me when I hear people talking like this.

    If you need a little more shock today, check out John Piper’s interview of Matt Chandler where they talk about “Calvinism and Sexual Complementarity.” Besides his preaching to men comment, Chandler refers to women members of his church as “our girls”, making it appear that they love the bondage served up in his New Calvinist church.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKEpVzHnUw0&t=6s

  89. Jeff S wrote:

    I kept thinking that my goal in the Christian life was to get rid of *ME* and replace it with Christ.

    there are a lot of ‘phrases’ about what IS diminished in us when Christ IS increased ….. my own thought is that we die to the kind of sins that separates us from God and from one another …. we are willingly drawn to return to the Lord Who leads us into life

    what dies? our selfishness, runaway ego, the sin of pride, greed, needs to be destructive, to have undue control of overs, etc. …. those deep-seated traits in us that open us to other paths than the Good Way if we choose to act on those weaknesses

    what remains? if we choose life, we find our soul’s renewal in the ways of grace and we stop being so fearful; we arrive at the place of peace with Our God and with one another and most of all with ourselves (we call this ‘the Peace of Christ’)….. the early Christians greeted one another:
    ‘the Lord be with you’ and the response was ‘And with your spirit’

  90. Jack wrote:

    Are the attendees of Calvinist churches mostly men?

    They are going that direction. A friend of mine at one of the largest churches says that any woman who goes there can get engaged within six months to anyone she wants.

    And the shenanigans of the TGC are the reason the Southern Baptist Convention is losing people in droves, both men and women.

  91. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Likewise, when we find cruelty, suffering and persecution inflicted from within the church, we need a robust response.

    And this is possible …… we have so many examples of reformers in the Church and so many who left comfortable existences to walk beside those who are hurting

  92. Marie’s ex-husband sounds a lot like my older sister.

    My sister is verbally abusive and has been so since my childhood. I finally cut back ties with my sister a couple of years ago.

    I’m sorry to be a broken record, but this book (among others) really helped me in regards to my sister (as well as other abusive or selfish people in my life), and it may help other people:

    The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans</b

    You can read a few chapters of that book for free here:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=XWgxgogz3aAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

    I will say the writing of the book isn't the greatest; it could've benefited from an astute editor. Despite the poor writing, though, it's very insightful and helpful.

    There is no reasoning with an emotional or verbal abuser.
    Like physical abusers, the emotional/verbal abuser is very entitled and they will never accept responsibility for their abuse.

    It wears on a person's self esteem, resolve, and sanity to live with the constant put-downs, the sarcasm, and other methods of verbal abuse.

    The verbal abuser will always blame their choice on behaving abusively and harshly on the target of their wrath and/or external factors (e.g., their job is stressful, some guy cut them off in traffic that day, etc).

  93. I didn’t mean to turn the rest of my post into bold face type. I guess I forgot the last closing tag on the “b” tag. 🙂

  94. Daisy wrote:

    There is no reasoning with an emotional or verbal abuser.

    I don’t think you can reason with unreasonable people.

  95. Lea wrote:

    I don’t think you can reason with unreasonable people.

    Well, it’s not me that’s unreasonable. I’ll reason with any reasonable person; the only reason I require them to agree with me is that only an unreasonable person would disagree with someone as rational as I am.

    You’re all rubbish.
    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

  96. I read the original post last night but was too tired to comment at that time.

    I know Dee is not generally a supporter of judging motives, but I sometimes do judge motives, or at least wonder if someone has an ulterior motive for doing what they do. I get suspicious at times (but try not to slip into paranoia).

    I know in some of these churches, or with some men of a complementarian bent, they tend to idolize marriage – so they severely frown on divorce, no matter the reason.
    Some of them counsel poorly as they do because of their love for hierarchy and authoritarianism.

    I think complementarianism also plays a part in why they counsel women as they do. They think of women as second fiddle to men and think women should just put up with abuse.

    However, when I was reading this particular story last night (and sad to say, I’ve seen a few other similar ones on other blogs about other Christian women with abusive husbands), a few parts of it raised red flags with me.

    There was a portion or two of the OP (original post) that made me really wonder about the motives behind why “Pastor Tim” and these other guys were treating Marie (and other women) as badly as the were.

    Some of the content that had very strong Red Flags in it for me were-

    Pastor Tim’s agenda was for the counselor to groom Marie to return to her ex-husband at some undetermined date.

    …Neither of the above conditions were ever met. Ten weeks later Marie received another email from Pastor Tim asking her where she and her ex-husband were in the ‘reconciliation process…’

    …Pastor Tim preached a sermon on divorce that concerned a number of people in the church because he stated that abuse is not valid grounds for divorce

    This part especially raised my antennae:

    Over the last 10-12 years, there have been many divorces at HBC (for different reasons), and consistently it is the women who are pressured to reconcile.

    When they refuse, they are sent an official letter putting them out of the church.

    This has happened so many times that it has become standard operating procedure.

    Marie learned that there were secret meetings with hand-picked church members speaking against them, and no matter what the women (in abuse cases) produced as evidence, the husbands were always believed (and in some cases, remain in the church to this day).

    Marie knows two of the women who had to leave HBC because their abusive husbands managed to convince the elders they were innocent.

    One woman went to them, police report in hand, and was still told that biblically she had no choice but to ‘reconcile’. Like Marie, she refused and was put out of the church.

    Based on all that information, it is my own belief, and I may be wrong, that the big, underlying motive for why these guys are doing what they are doing in these abusive marriage situations is that they have a very deep streak of misogyny and are sadists who enjoy, on some level, seeing or knowing that women being abused by their spouses.

    I really suspect these guys get off knowing they are keeping women trapped in painful or dangerous situations. I think they are perverse and sick.

    My gut is telling me there is something far more going in than the standard gender complementarian idiocy, the usual complementarian incompetency, or love of church authoritarianism. Maybe I’m wrong about all this, but this is just how I’m reacting to what I’m seeing in the OP.

  97. Daisy wrote:

    I read the original post last night but was too tired to comment at that time.

    I’m generally too tired late on to read a post, but I comment anyway out of vanity and egotism.

    IHTIH…

  98. Roger Bombast wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    I don’t think you can reason with unreasonable people.
    Well, it’s not me that’s unreasonable. I’ll reason with any reasonable person; the only reason I require them to agree with me is that only an unreasonable person would disagree with someone as rational as I am.
    You’re all rubbish.
    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

    Best quote of the day!!! I’m sitting here at work, between patients, and I think the other people in the waiting room want to know what I’m laughing at…..

    Yours for the sake of intellectual snarkiness,

    Marie

  99. @ okrapod:
    Yes. I did find an article concerning a document put together by the Argentine bishops to attempt to incorporate some of the ideas from ‘Amoris Laetitia’ into pastoral practice. Here is an excerpt:

    “… some civilly remarried couples who can’t adhere to the Church’s teaching of “living like brothers and sisters,” who have complex circumstances, and who can’t obtain a declaration of nullity for their first marriage, might undertake a “journey of discernment,” and arrive at the recognition that in their particular case, there are limitations that “diminish responsibility and culpability.”

    For these exceptional cases, the bishops wrote, “Amoris Laetitia opens up the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” ”

    https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2016/09/12/pope-okays-argentine-doc-communion-divorced-remarried/

  100. One other thing I wanted to point out.

    I notice these male church members expect women to put up with garbage off men that they would probably not take themselves.

    How much do you want to be that if Marie’s ex, “John Doe,” had ever spoken to Pastor Tim the way John Doe speaks to Marie in private, that the good Rev. Tim would not have sought reconciliation with Doe,

    But would’ve back=handed Doe from one end of the church to the other, kicked him in his groin, knocked his teeth down his throat, and got up to two inches from his nose, and told him in no uncertain terms to never, ever speak to him like that again?

    But Rev. Tim has the audacity to coach women such as Marie to stay and put up with that trash indefinitely?

    Tim ain’t the one who has to spend all day with John Doe, go to bed with the guy at night, or sit across from a dinner table every day.

    Pastor Tim, the flaming hypocrite, can get bent.

  101. dee wrote:

    Pastor at HBC
    I know you are reading this. You are abusing Marie and coming off like a bunch of hardhearted louts. This story will affect your church unless you do something to change your course.
    Remember, even other churches disagree with you and we will be getting to that the next time. Same on all of you.

    Silly girl, get back in your “place”!

  102. @ Marie Notcheva:

    Marie, I’ve just read your article. This is one thing I really wish pastors could get through their heads! It’s sheer arrogance that they can’t:

    Rather, respect that she has much more insight into her husband’s state of mind and cultural mores than you do.

  103. @ Daisy:

    And a P.S. to that.
    One wonders why pastors such as Pastor Tim tend to approach marital relationships differently from other ones?

    I do wonder if these church elders and preachers who coach women to just stay and put up with an abusive husband would also coach women (or men) to tolerate such abuse off a co-worker, boss, sibling, mail man, aunt, father, dentist, grandmother, uncle, plumber, auto mechanic, sales clerk, or neighbor?

    I do know that, yes, some preachers in some churches would indeed have a church member tolerate harassment and abuse off anyone and everyone (including bosses, siblings, etc), but I bet there’s a sizable portion who would coach people, “Stand up to your rude boss! If your boss won’t behave, report him to H.R. or leave him and get a new boss at a new job.”

    But, magically and inexplicably, the rules for some reason change if it’s a SPOUSE who is being mean, cruel, or abusive.

  104. Roger Bombast wrote:

    the only reason I require them to agree with me is that only an unreasonable person would disagree with someone as rational as I am

    Nailed it.

  105. @ Accipiter:

    I relate to every thing you said and agreed with all of it.
    A small part of me has toyed with the idea of possibly returning to church some day, but then I keep seeing these horrifying stories of how churches enable or perpetuate abuse and think I may be better off staying away.

  106. Daisy wrote:

    …Pastor Tim preached a sermon on divorce that concerned a number of people in the church because he stated that abuse is not valid grounds for divorce

    Well, Pastor Tim needs to know that, in the State of Massachusetts, the following grounds for a “fault divorce” are listed in Mass. General Laws chapter 208, section 1: adultery, desertion, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication, cruel and abusive treatment, non- support, impotency, or a prison sentence of 5 or more years.

    Cruel and abusive treatment … spiritual abuse by church leaders can be just as cruel as physical abuse by a spouse; both leave lasting scars.

  107. ishy wrote:

    If they are following Ware’s theology, then women are not made in the image of God. Therefore, they are owned by men when they get married. But as we discussed elsewhere, pets are probably treated better than wives in hyper-Calvinism.

    That seriously raises a good point

    Supposing Marie’s ex, John Doe, had been abusing their pet dog (if they had one).

    Not only is it immoral for a person to abuse an animal, but there are laws against it as well.

    I seriously doubt that Rev Tim would have suggested if he had found out about it,
    “Oh well, the dog must stay with Doe and keep submitting! We’re not going to take the dog away or call the law on him. Poor dog will just have to stay and put up with it and realize the suffering is to sanctify him.”

    But I guess it depends on how evil and warped Rev Tim is. Maybe he would be okay with dogs being abused, too.

  108. Zechzav wrote:

    If the royal law is to love thy neighbour as thyself – As Jesus, Paul, James and John remind us in the NT – then of course abuse is grounds for divorce even if there is no textual support for it. These guys have made a golden calf out of an institution and sacrificed human beings at the altar.

    ^This. A billion times this.

  109. @ old timer:

    I pretty much agree with your view, but I will say that sometimes standing up to a bully or abuser does NOT change the abuser or bully.

    Sometimes the only manner of self defense is to escape, leave, stop communicating with the abuser.

    With my verbally abusive sister, I tried standing up to her a few years ago. I spelled out my disagreements and issues with her.

    Rather than change and conceded her treatment of me was in the wrong, my sister just dug her heels in and became ten times more nasty and volatile.

    As a result, I no longer reach out to my sister so much.

    Sometimes giving the abuser the boot is the only way to go, because they won’t change or bend.

  110. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    I was listening to the BBC World Service today, a show called The Y Factor, and the topic was revenge. One of the examples was a divorced couple where the ex-husband did some awful things to his ex-wife but was good with the kids. The ex-wife had fought him over custody due to the ex-husband’s psychiatric issues but she had to let her children go to an unsupervised weekend visitation. The children never came home. Her ex-husband, who had been good with the kids, killed them and then killed himself. It was his way of revenging himself on his ex-wife.

    Don’t discount revenge.

  111. Lea wrote:

    Well, Gary Thomas believes marriage is to make us holy not happy!

    As a never- married 40- something year old lady, I guess God cannot make me holy. Sigh.

  112. Daisy wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    And a P.S. to that.
    One wonders why pastors such as Pastor Tim tend to approach marital relationships differently from other ones?
    I do wonder if these church elders and preachers who coach women to just stay and put up with an abusive husband would also coach women (or men) to tolerate such abuse off a co-worker, boss, sibling, mail man, aunt, father, dentist, grandmother, uncle, plumber, auto mechanic, sales clerk, or neighbor?
    I do know that, yes, some preachers in some churches would indeed have a church member tolerate harassment and abuse off anyone and everyone (including bosses, siblings, etc), but I bet there’s a sizable portion who would coach people, “Stand up to your rude boss! If your boss won’t behave, report him to H.R. or leave him and get a new boss at a new job.”
    But, magically and inexplicably, the rules for some reason change if it’s a SPOUSE who is being mean, cruel, or abusive.

    Well no; not exactly. They don’t literally say “put up and shut up” or go back tomorrow. They “allow” f or a separation – not specified in length – after which, at some undetermined time, the spouses are expected to ‘reconcile’ (they in fact asked me to file motions to dismiss the divorce; of course I refused….see someone else’s comments here about state law in MA). But the point is, they will not knowingly and willfully make someone stay in an abusive HOME (marriage, yes; because they do not/cannot/will not concede that abuse is ever grounds for divorce — hence the last 10 months of ‘pursuit’.)

    The thing with ‘separation’ is that it’s ambiguous; ‘repentence’ is utterly subjective; and women end up in limbo for years and YEARS sometimes, never allowed to officially divorce; never safe enough to go back to former spouse. Then you run into all kinds of legal difficulties – if one spouse dies in debt, the other is still legally responsible.

    Aside from the practical difficulties here, the elephant in the proverbial living room is that abusive people generally don’t change. And before you start accusing me of having a “low view of Christ”, as the pastors did on March 14th when I explained that to the m, recognize that not only abuse psychology experts like Lundy Bancroft have concluded that, but also many, MANY Christian writers and biblical counselors. You CANNOT, realistically, expect a long-term destructive pattern in a marriage is going to disappear and make everything great for victim to return. That’s reality.

    So you see it’s far more complex than just outright telling an abused wife to “stay there and put up with it”. They make it sound as if they really are trying to help and are concerned, but it’s a hopeless trap as any woman who’s been through it knows.

  113. Zechzav wrote:

    These guys have made a golden calf out of an institution and sacrificed human beings at the altar.

    A more vivid portrait of authoritarian New Calvinist churches has not been painted.

  114. @ Marie Notcheva:

    I have a book by Welch and read it. I didn’t care for it. For years, I had clinical depression, anxiety, and what you might call a “fear of man.”

    I read Welch’s book a few years ago on how to deal with a FOM (Fear of Man), and one of the things I remember from his book on that topic was how victim-blaming and discouraging the book was to me.

    In that book, Welch advocated that you be very passive, just remember God is in charge (this is supposed to comfort you and make people seem less scary), and some of his content was along the lines of, “your own personal sin is to blame why you have problems with Person X in your life being mean to you.”

    I found other books more helpful, including one by Christian authors Cloud and Townsend, and books by Non-Christian authors, all of whom told me to stop being a doormat and to stand up for myself.

    These other authors didn’t suggest being passive, just thinking sunny thoughts about God, and didn’t blame me or my own sin for why I kept attracting selfish or mean people.

  115. Daisy wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    If they are following Ware’s theology, then women are not made in the image of God. Therefore, they are owned by men when they get married. But as we discussed elsewhere, pets are probably treated better than wives in hyper-Calvinism.
    That seriously raises a good point
    Supposing Marie’s ex, John Doe, had been abusing their pet dog (if they had one).
    Not only is it immoral for a person to abuse an animal, but there are laws against it as well.
    I seriously doubt that Rev Tim would have suggested if he had found out about it,
    “Oh well, the dog must stay with Doe and keep submitting! We’re not going to take the dog away or call the law on him. Poor dog will just have to stay and put up with it and realize the suffering is to sanctify him.”
    But I guess it depends on how evil and warped Rev Tim is. Maybe he would be okay with dogs being abused, too.

    Well if it was only verbal/emotional abuse of the dog…….

    I’m sure he’d have been ok with a separation, in any event.

  116. Max wrote:

    ofessors like Bruce Ware – champion of the aberrant doctrine on “Eternal Subordination of the Son”, which has had a corresponding impact on subordination of women believers in New Calvinist churches. These young reformers came out of SBTS messed up and now they are messing up the church.

    Believe me, Max, the subordination of women is not limited to neo-cal churches. In my church (former church, I guess?) they don’t use the word “Complementarian”, but they really push submission and extremely limit what women are allowed to do. In my experience over the last 15-20 years, this runs through most SBC churches.

    Women can not speak/participate in mixed gender SS classes. If we wish to participate, or even read aloud, we must go to the segregated women’s classes. The men have a “men’s meeting” before the business meeting to determine what will be brought up during the business meeting. Women are not allowed to speak at business meetings. SBC wide, the boys are Royal Ambassadors. Girls may be “girls in action”, but their still just girls – nothing royal about them and they are certainly not ambassadors.

    A deacon in our church went on a “husbands, use your boot if you have to” Jezebel rant in SS class (ps – same deacon has now “surrendered to preach”). Another deacon made fun of my husband repeatedly because we went to church in my car, so I drove and DH didn’t. …. and, there’s more.

    Being a wife in an SBC church is really no different than being married to an enlisted man in the military. God doesn’t communicate with the wives, just like highers in the military do not communicate with spouses. When deployment or transfer orders come down, there is no consideration for the spouses. That was the way my husband behaved when he decided he wanted to move 1200 miles and start a planter church. I had no clue he had made certain decisions until I accidentally overhead stuff in the men’s conversations.

    My husband and I separated (I believe) because of the SBC teachings about wives. I still don’t know whether my husband just can’t see and doesn’t think about what goes on “because he’s a man”, or if he actually buys into it. I often wonder if he agreed to counciling because he loves me and wanted to save our marriage, or if it was just because he wants to preach, and most churches will not permit a divorced man to preach.

  117. @ Christiane:

    I believe there is a big difference between “rid me of self” and “rid me of selfishness”, but I don’t think Christians tend to draw a clear line here.

  118. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    But the point is, they will not knowingly and willfully make someone stay in an abusive HOME

    I feel this is one of those dumb letter not spirit of the law things. If you are separated, living apart, for years you are effectively divorced. What difference does it make if you make it official or not? It may make a huge difference to the abused spouse, mind you (financially, peace of mind, etc). But as far I’m concerned, living apart for a year or more is no longer a marriage, in any way it is meant to be. So, it is exceedingly legalistic to say a separation is allowed but not a divorce to the point of being downright ridiculous.

    If someone divorces and their spouse is truly repentant (as judged by the other spouse, not any unconnected persons like pastors!) and the love is not irrevocably damaged, they can always get remarried. There is no reason to stay legally married to someone, when the marriage is effectively dead.

  119. Lea wrote:

    Marie Notcheva wrote:
    But the point is, they will not knowingly and willfully make someone stay in an abusive HOME
    I feel this is one of those dumb letter not spirit of the law things. If you are separated, living apart, for years you are effectively divorced. What difference does it make if you make it official or not? It may make a huge difference to the abused spouse, mind you (financially, peace of mind, etc). But as far I’m concerned, living apart for a year or more is no longer a marriage, in any way it is meant to be. So, it is exceedingly legalistic to say a separation is allowed but not a divorce to the point of being downright ridiculous.

    I completely, whole-heartedly agree. Which is why I didn’t buy into the whole ‘separation but not divorce’ horse and pony show. Either you’re married or you’re not.

  120. @ Marie Notcheva:

    The two biggest problems with “you can separate but not divorce” are

    a) It’s not a Biblical solution. How can we be in a “marriage” doing all the things we are called to if we are separated? Yes, there are probably times a separation, mutually decided, can help with healing, but the way it’s advocating for in abuse situations, it’s reads more like a technical “married but not married” so everyone can feel good about the way they’ve parsed the law and found a loophole.

    b) Separation with an eye on reconciliation has built in pressure to reconcile, which is very dangerous for someone who has had their boundaries repeatedly violated and likely is not good at setting them up and keeping them up. The last thing you want to do when someone needs to learn to erect healthy boundaries is to keep asking them when they are going to take them down.

  121. Jeff S wrote:

    Being believed about abuse and being told “but it doesn’t matter- you still are bound in marriage” is the flip side of the coin for not being believed. Neither option is great. Either you are not believable or you are a puncing back. No good answer for that one.
    I was believed.
    I didn’t matter.

    I kind of experienced similar growing up. My family taught me that my feelings do not matter, but other people’s feelings do matter.

    My mother taught me when I was a kid that God loved me, but then she’d turn around and basically tell me that other people’s feelings mattered more than mine.

    So if I came home crying because some kid had bullied me, instead of telling me that the bully had no right, and that I should stand up to the bully the next day, she’s tell me I should feel sorry for the kid (and not fight back).

    After my mother died, Christians would basically tell me my feelings of grief did not matter.

    So long as there are starving orphans in Africa, according to the many Christians I went to, nothing I go through can compare, so I have no right to cry about Mom’s passing or to miss mom.

    I also got a lot of the, “Nobody cares about your feelings” from my father and sister (even after mom passed).

    All of that made me think God didn’t care about me, either.

    Oh, yes, God cares about everyone else (especially African orphans), but not me.

    A lot of Christians out there are like this. I think it’s rather cruel and the Bible does’t support that attitude, but many believers I encounter in real life (or read about on this blog in abuse stories) are this way.

  122. @ Daisy:

    There’s a lot of “Nobody cares about your feelings” coming out of Christiandom these days, which is strange for a who religion that, at its core, is about being made spiritual whole and is often bolstered by testimonies of what that feels like.

  123. @ Jeff S:
    I agree with what you said. I’ve observed that too, in Christian writing or in sermons I’ve heard.

    There are other similar, damaging beliefs Christians batter people with. Like you have Christians who assume having healthy self-esteem or boundaries is a form of selfishness.

  124. Deb wrote:

    What are they teaching in seminary these days???

    I’ll take a wild guess and say: Chauvinistic horse-pucky.

    Or was that a rhetorical question?

  125. Daisy wrote:

    Based on all that information, it is my own belief, and I may be wrong, that the big, underlying motive for why these guys are doing what they are doing in these abusive marriage situations is that they have a very deep streak of misogyny and are sadists who enjoy, on some level, seeing or knowing that women being abused by their spouses.
    I really suspect these guys get off knowing they are keeping women trapped in painful or dangerous situations. I think they are perverse and sick.
    My gut is telling me there is something far more going in than the standard gender complementarian idiocy, the usual complementarian incompetency, or love of church authoritarianism.

    You know, you might very well be right. It can explain the level of callousness and contempt these men, and men like Piper and Ware, have toward women.

  126. dee wrote:

    I had a chance to speak with him and shall write about that encounter next week. Totally.not.impressed. Not one word of concern for Marie. Not one!

    I’m not surprised.

    Just from having read the OP my temper flared, and I harbor a fantasy of kneeing Rev Tim in the groin, or giving him a good verbal smack down.

  127. Jeff S wrote:

    it’s reads more like a technical “married but not married” so everyone can feel good about the way they’ve parsed the law and found a loophole.

    This is a bit like the ‘soft comp’ solution of ‘every once in a while a big decision will come…’

    I feel like once you get to this point, you have realized you’re on the wrong side of the issue, but can’t give it up. [I don’t think anyone who would pressure someone to reconcile with an unrepentant abusive spouse has realized they are on the wrong side though. I obviously don’t know Pastor Tim et al but he sounds like he doesn’t take any of this seriously enough.]

    Jeff S wrote:

    Separation with an eye on reconciliation has built in pressure to reconcile

    Yes. Anybody who starts out saying ‘the goal is reconciliation’ has skipped all the steps and jumped right to the ending they want and their ears are closed to reality.

  128. Another woman (not divorced) left HBC because a former counseling pastor had taught in an adult Sunday School that even if a wife is being beaten, she cannot divorce her husband. A long-time church member then stood up and gave examples of when it might be ‘acceptable’ to slap one’s wife.

    He must have figured, when he heard the counselling pastor, that it was safe to take off that civilized, Christlike mask a little. I’m glad that fool got plenty of blowback.

  129. Daisy wrote:

    I pretty much agree with your view, but I will say that sometimes standing up to a bully or abuser does NOT change the abuser or bully.

    I’ve run into my share of them and when I didn’t bow down they just went looking for someone more compliant. Interestingly in school when they did beat me up, it seemed more to intimidate others than bring me to heel. I can’t speak for them years later if they changed, only what I saw of them then. I think bullies are weak people and cowards at heart and I don’t think it is a simple matter for them to overcome that.

  130. Nancy2 wrote:

    SBC wide, the boys are Royal Ambassadors. Girls may be “girls in action”, but their still just girls – nothing royal about them and they are certainly not ambassadors.

    Check this out about Girl’s Auxiliary. This link was not my church, but this is how we did. The steps were all about names for levels of royalty. Needless to say I worked my way up through this which included specific study courses about Baptist missions and various accompanying projects. My ‘master piece’ so to speak was when I made a cross stitch map of the world with color coded sites where Baptists had mission work. It is probably still downstairs in some container or other with all my other stuff. I will have to check that out; I have not done embroidery for years, not since I took up crochet.

    Anyhow, it was heavy on missions education. I don’t even know if the SBC still does that.

    https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/47569

  131. @ Jeff S:
    Jeff S wrote:

    @ Christiane:

    I believe there is a big difference between “rid me of self” and “rid me of selfishness”, but I don’t think Christians tend to draw a clear line here.

    hmmm …. problem is that some may not be trained in taking responsibility for responding to one’s conscience by making moral choices ….. you have to accept that we, as human persons, have been given ‘choice’ and we, as human persons, do bear responsibility for our actions before God. So if a Christian is brought up to that consciousness of personal responsibility for moral behavior, they can’t dismiss their own selves as irrelevant ….. rather, the goal is to live our lives with the goal of conforming our hearts and minds to the Mind of Christ in so far as we are given the grace to do this. There is a huge difference in diminishing and in renewing. We are called into renewal ‘in’ Christ, but we are still human persons with souls, yes.

  132. Jack wrote:

    Interestingly enough is a Google search indicates there is a gender gap in churches.
    More women than men attend.

    Ask any single woman raised as a Christian who wanted to get married (and are still single), and we can tell you this.

    There are very few single men of marriageable age (roughly mid to late 20s up into the 50s) in Baptist or evangelical Protestant churches.

    That being the case, I cannot fully figure out why so many Christians continue to insist on pushing the equally yoked view, which stipulates a Christian can only marry another Christian.

    You don’t see the problems with that thinking when you’re a 20 year old female, but when you are in your 40s like me, and your keep noticing there are no single men in churches, you starting strongly re-evaluating such doctrines.

    I’d rather marry a decent Non-Believer than
    1. Marry an abusive or selfish man who says he’s a Christian -or-
    2. stay single until I die

    (Equally yoked promotes point 2 on that list)

  133. ishy wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Based on all that information, it is my own belief, and I may be wrong, that the big, underlying motive for why these guys are doing what they are doing in these abusive marriage situations is that they have a very deep streak of misogyny and are sadists who enjoy, on some level, seeing or knowing that women being abused by their spouses.
    I really suspect these guys get off knowing they are keeping women trapped in painful or dangerous situations. I think they are perverse and sick.
    My gut is telling me there is something far more going in than the standard gender complementarian idiocy, the usual complementarian incompetency, or love of church authoritarianism.

    You know, you might very well be right. It can explain the level of callousness and contempt these men, and men like Piper and Ware, have toward women.

    I think it can be difficult to tell who is callous and who is sadistic when they are all mouthing the same words, but as far as I’m concerned all of them are missing that whole bit about if you know all things, prophecy, etc, but don’t have love it counts for nothing.

    Maybe they should teach that verse in seminary.

  134. dee wrote:

    Because they claim that Jesus only allowed divorce for adultery. now get ready for this, “because their hearts were hard.” John piper claims this means that really gospelly people would not divorce even for adultery.

    Now catch the logic. Piper and presumably the gang at HBC, believe that the *hard of heart* person is the one who was sinned against. That then means that pastors can verbally beat up the abused spouses because their hearts *are hard* and therefore need to be better Christians.

    I agreed with the rest of your post too, but this part caught my eye.

    As my mother would say, these guys get the Bible, marriage, abuse, divorce, and what all else “Bass-Ackwards.”

    I remain stunned at how often so many of these churches, preachers, and celebrity Christians swap things around.
    They give mercy, rationalizations, loop-holes, and repeated chances to abusers and perpetrators but judgement, condemnation, and more rules to follow to victims.

    They get God and the Bible’s teachings totally backwards. It’s a pattern in a lot of the abuse stories I see on here, at Julie Anne’s blog, and elsewhere.

    I’m also reminded of various biblical passages, such as the one where Jesus said the Pharisees tied up burdens on the shoulders of people but then (insult on top of injury), wouldn’t even so much as lift a finger to help carry those same burdens.

  135. Nancy2 wrote:

    Believe me, Max, the subordination of women is not limited to neo-cal churches.

    Agreed. It’s just most obvious in the New Calvinist churches in my area, so I often key in on them. The unBiblical treatment of women believers can manifest itself wherever spiritually-ignorant men rule.

  136. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Oh, yeah. My ex-husband was much better to the dogs then he was to me and the kids.

    That reminds me. Same is true for my family.

    My mother told me that her dad, my maternal grandfather (he died before I was born), would treat his hunting dogs better than her mom (my grandmother) or the kids.

    He would buy the dogs rock candy and other treats, but no candy her or her siblings.

    From the way my mother talked about it, that wounded her. She couldn’t figure out why her daddy showed more consideration or fondness for the hunting dogs than for her and her siblings.

  137. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I’d also like to see a commentary comparing Biblical Counseling(TM) to Scientology Auditing, Nouthetics to Dianetics. I predict there would be LOTS of similarity.

    There’s been an interesting weekly televised expose about Scientology hosted by former Scientologist and actress Leah Remini. I caught two episodes and saw a preview for a third.
    In the third, one of the former Scientology women or some guy talks about auditing. I read about some of this stuff years ago, too.
    I don’t remember all the details. I think if you’re in CoS, you have to show up for auditing every month or week – you may have to pay for these sessions too (?) – they hook you up to a machine and scream accusatory questions at you for 30 minutes or more.

    Hey, if I need to be yelled at I can get that for free by phoning my verbally abusive big sister, LOL.

    I don’t need a Nouthetic Counselor or “Tom Cruise-ologist” screaming at me about my real or supposed imperfections and sins, I get all that from family members, and it doesn’t cost me a penny. 🙂

  138. From the HBC website:
    “The men’s ministry team will be hosting a man-food and movie night on Friday June 3rd at 7:00 PM in the HBC gym. We will be showing the movie “Courageous” and eating untold quantities of manly food.”

    I do hope there will be nothing but “manly” cooking beforehand, and nothing but “manly” clean-up and soap bubble rinsing afterwards!

  139. Daisy wrote:

    @ Marie Notcheva:
    I have a book by Welch and read it. I didn’t care for it. For years, I had clinical depression, anxiety, and what you might call a “fear of man.”
    I read Welch’s book a few years ago on how to deal with a FOM (Fear of Man), and one of the things I remember from his book on that topic was how victim-blaming and discouraging the book was to me.
    In that book, Welch advocated that you be very passive, just remember God is in charge (this is supposed to comfort you and make people seem less scary), and some of his content was along the lines of, “your own personal sin is to blame why you have problems with Person X in your life being mean to you.”
    I found other books more helpful, including one by Christian authors Cloud and Townsend, and books by Non-Christian authors, all of whom told me to stop being a doormat and to stand up for myself.
    These other authors didn’t suggest being passive, just thinking sunny thoughts about God, and didn’t blame me or my own sin for why I kept attracting selfish or mean people.

    I Googled the name “Ed Welch” and discovered that I’d read his When People Are Big and God Is Small several years ago . . . and I had a similar reaction to yours, Daisy. There wasn’t a whole lot of help there except for, get over it.

  140. @ Muslin fka Deana Holmes/mirele:

    I’ve seen several similar news stories like this show up in various social media I belong to in the last few months.

    There have been several instances in the UK and USA, reported in the news, where a couple has a strained relationship, and the BY or husband “gets back” at the GF (or wife) by murdering their child / children.

    They usually do this when the GF/wife is away or they are separated.

  141. @ Marie Notcheva:

    Had you not put the part in about limbo, I was going to mention it.

    I’ve seen this brought up by other women on other sites, how their church expects them to keep giving their abusive spouse chance after chance to “repent” and “reconcile.”

    In some cases, 5, 10, or more years drag by!

    Meanwhile, if the woman were just to divorce the guy, she’d have a shot at being free, and either enjoy being single, or have a chance to find a guy who will not mistreat her.

    I also agree that abusers will seldom to never change, and a lot of churches have naive or unrealistic expectations of the relationship working out or the abuser changing his stripes.

    The abuse allows the abuser to “get their way” all the time in a relationship – they get all their needs met and don’t generally try to meet the needs of their victim. They have no incentive to change.

  142. Daisy wrote:

    There have been several instances in the UK and USA, reported in the news, where a couple has a strained relationship, and the BY or husband “gets back” at the GF (or wife) by murdering their child / children.

    There was an awful one in main recently where the pastor husband killed his daughter. They are also looking at his first wife who just happened to fall off a cliff while pregnant.

  143. Lea wrote:

    I feel this is one of those dumb letter not spirit of the law things. If you are separated, living apart, for years you are effectively divorced. What difference does it make if you make it official or not?

    I once read about an IFB couple who despised one another, but IFBs are strongly anti-divorce, so for 20 or more years, the wife lived in the couple’s home while the husband lived in their RV on the home’s drive way.

    I’ve seen numerous similar stories like this online and Christian TV, where the couples (some Christian, some not) so dislike each other, the husband will move out of the main room and into a guest room.

    In one story, the wife lived in the upper story and the husband had the lower floor.

    And these couples will live like this for years, rather than divorce.

    I’m of the mind that if your marriage has deteriorated to the point you cannot stand each other and are living in different ends of the house, that’s not, IMO, much of a marriage, and I don’t see the point in the couple staying together.

    I find it odd that some Christians (such as pastors) would find those arrangements preferable to the couple divorcing, where the husband is living in a camper on the drive-way while the wife lives in the house.

  144. Jeff S wrote:

    There’s a lot of “Nobody cares about your feelings” coming out of Christiandom these days, which is strange for a who religion that, at its core, is about being made spiritual whole and is often bolstered by testimonies of what that feels like.

    Oh yeah. I also find it odd because Jesus himself showed emotion.

    The Bible said he was a “man of sorrow.” He told his disciples that his spirit was grieved unto death. He cried at the tomb of Lazarus.

    I experience cognitive dissonance on this. I can’t wrap my head around my family or other Christians run around saying we should help and care for other people…which I agree with… but if I go to these same people when I am hurting or in need they shoo me away and shame me for it.

    I don’t know how or why this “God wants Christians to help and care for every one” applies to every one – but to me.

  145. I always wonder why they don’t read the whole chapter in context and understand their sacred duty to the precious children of God.

    Ruth wrote:

    Whenever I hear “Mathew 18” referenced, I feel sick. It is so terribly misunderstood and used to hurt people, so sad!

  146. This! Feel this. The “F your feelings” crowd is very sensitive but bullies those of us when we hurt. And there are more of them in the evangelical church than outside the faith, in my experience.

    @ Daisy:

  147. @ Bill M:

    I’ve had both reactions.

    My sister is one bully who did not change when I confronted her, but there are a couple of bullies in the past who, after I stood up to them, one became afraid of me and treated me with respect, and the other one just left me alone (after yelling at me).

    I just wanted to make folks aware that standing up to an abusive person doesn’t always result in change.
    Sometimes it does or can, but on occasions when it does not, your only option may be to cut off contact with the abuser.

  148. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I think New Calvinism and the whole “manly” church movement actually originated because some pastors didn’t like the fact that more women than men attended church, and wanted to change that.

    The irony is that they are failing miserably. Most of my circle would probably snicker at the “manly” thing or think it was a Tim Allen-esqe joke. Most of us real men have jobs that keep us busy and then come home and have families that keep us busy.

    Here’s what I’m seeing in my neck of the woods –
    – more men dropping their kids off/picking their kids up from school
    – more men involved in parent and tot swim lessons (when I was a swim instructor 30yrs ago – it was called “Mom and Tot” swimming)
    – our child care centre supervisor told me that they have a majority of men on the board for the first time in forever – I’m one of them. We’re an eclectic bunch too, mechanics, physiotherapists, lab folks.

    I have no idea what the religious affiliation of these guys are but there are more of us out there and involved than there were before.

    These “Calvinists” want to engage manly men?- meet us at the at the paddle pool.

  149. @ Jack:
    Oh yeah, it’s my day off.

    I’m folding laundry, cleaning floors, vacuuming carpets, cleaning the bathrooms and cleaning out the fish tank. I just made my son lunch and sent him back to school.

    All done in a “manly” way of course

  150. Tina wrote:

    I Googled the name “Ed Welch” and discovered that I’d read his When People Are Big and God Is Small several years ago . . . and I had a similar reaction to yours, Daisy. There wasn’t a whole lot of help there except for, get over it.

    Yes, that was my reaction to his book. I remember the first chapter or two were pretty good, so I had high expectations that he’d offer some really great ways to deal with being afraid of people, but it was essentially “get over it.”

    He also seemed to suggest that you just had to put up with mistreatment. (That was the message I got from my mother growing up and older – nice, sweet Christian girls don’t stand up for themselves, just suffer in silence.)

    I found other books I read so much better because they told me it’s okay to be assertive and confront people if they’re being awful to me. That view is what made me a lot less afraid of people!

  151. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I completely, whole-heartedly agree. Which is why I didn’t buy into the whole ‘separation but not divorce’ horse and pony show. Either you’re married or you’re not.

    I am glad that you have been brave enough to bring your story out into the public eye. One thing I like about this blog is that, unlike much of the Church, there is not a bias towards “High Impact People.” Celebrity status in the Church sells, so there are many people making their living off of pimping those who are rich, famous, highly educated or top leaders in there fields. I have come to the logical conclusion that because Christian celebrities are subject to temptations that the rest of us never will face, that their character tends to be less Christ-like then the average Joe church attender. We have a system very much of the blind “best selling authors,” most of whom do not even write their own books, leading the blind. This is one of the reasons why screwed up situations, like the one you have found yourself in, happen.
    I also wish to point out that the logic of those teaching the forbidding of divorce is very broken. The statement that they are following the letter of the law is not at all true. In fact, they are doing the opposite of the letter of the law. Certificates of divorce were allowed because of “hardness of heart” according to Jesus. Sometimes Jewish men would send their wives away without this certificate. This was the equivalent of legal separation back then. The realities on the ground was that a homeless woman back then was a much bigger deal back then. These women were often forced into adultery in order to just eat by co-habitating with men that they could not legally marry. Jesus addressed this situation. He did not forbid divorce. He stated that it was not in the original blueprint and it is not a good thing, but because of hardness of heart God Himself allows it. It is a lesser evil than “legal separation” which is not a thing to be found anywhere in the actual O.T. law. Jesus is actually arguing against its practice.

  152. Nancy2 wrote:

    the elephant in the proverbial living room is that abusive people generally don’t change. And before you start accusing me of having a “low view of Christ”…

    Well… rephrase the elephant thus:

    Abusive people rarely repent, although they will normally learn to look remorseful as those with a low view of Christ are easily gratified by outward show…

    You probably get where I’m coming from here.

  153. Daisy wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Oh brother. For father’s day, do they also give away fire arms and BBQ Grills?
    Churches Want Your Dad, and Will Give Him Bacon, Guns, and a Grill
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/21/churches-want-your-dad-and-will-give-him-bacon-guns-and-a-grill.html

    I’m never one to pass up free bacon, but a PORKfest worthy of Mr Creosote?

    And “gun giveaways” at church always trigger my “First Church of Zardoz” mode.
    If Pastor isn’t dressed in red speedos, black hooker boots, ponytail, and pornstache, he isn’t even trying.

  154. Melody wrote:

    This! Feel this. The “F your feelings” crowd is very sensitive but bullies those of us when we hurt. And there are more of them in the evangelical church than outside the faith, in my experience.
    @ Daisy:

    Someone described this as “Exquisite Sensitivity towards any hurt (real or imagined) done to themselves coupled with Utter Indifference towards anyone their own actions might hurt.” The context then was Speshul Snowflake Activists.

  155. @ Melody:

    I know after my Mom died, what little caring and support I did receive mostly came from Non-Christian friends (and a few back-slidden Christian friends who were only just barely Christian any more).

    I find that Non-Christians are not interested so much in judging you, or in trying to figure out how or why you are to blame. They are not interested in coming up with “biblical” reasons for your suffering.
    They just get straight to the business of being empathetic.

  156. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Someone described this as “Exquisite Sensitivity towards any hurt (real or imagined) done to themselves coupled with Utter Indifference towards anyone their own actions might hurt.”

    That is definitely what we see with erring pastors! ZOMG, their kids might read this stuff and be sad. As if that is the problem of people reporting the truth, rather than the problems of people doing evil.

  157. Muslin fka Deana Holmes/mirele wrote:

    The children never came home. Her ex-husband, who had been good with the kids, killed them and then killed himself. It was his way of revenging himself on his ex-wife.

    Don’t discount revenge.

    This just flashbacked me onto something I heard long ago: one of Loudon Wainwright III’s nastier novelty songs, “Unrequited to the Nth Degree”. Which includes the lyrics (from memory):

    “Though I’ll be dead —
    I’LL GET YOU BACK!
    HA! HA! HA! HA!
    HO! HO! HO! HO!
    CHORTLE! CHORTLE! CHORTLE! CHORTLE!
    HEE! HEE! HEE! HEE!”

    And that describes the attitude to a Tee.
    Song itself is findable on YouTube, but is (obviously) a walking Trigger Warning.

  158. Daisy wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    I agree with what you said. I’ve observed that too, in Christian writing or in sermons I’ve heard.

    There are other similar, damaging beliefs Christians batter people with. Like you have Christians who assume having healthy self-esteem or boundaries is a form of selfishness.

    I would not be surprise if said Christians were control freaks looking for easy marks.

  159. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    I’d also like to see a commentary comparing Biblical Counseling(TM) to Scientology Auditing, Nouthetics to Dianetics. I predict there would be LOTS of similarity.

    There’s been an interesting weekly televised expose about Scientology hosted by former Scientologist and actress Leah Remini. I caught two episodes and saw a preview for a third.

    I remember something about it hitting my newsfeeds at work last week, a side article about all the hostility she and her informants were getting from Scientology (whatever they call the Guardian’s Office these days).

    Fair Game Law LRH in effect; nothing new.
    The reason this article stuck in my mind was Scientology was denouncing them as “Bitter(TM)” and “Gossips(TM)”.

  160. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Elizabeth Lee wrote:
    One of these days a pastor is going to send a woman back to her abusive husband and she’ll end up dead.

    She already did, Elizabeth Lee. Her name was Lyuba Savenok and she lived in Michigan. I wrote about her here: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/2016/09/30/the-culture-of-abuse-in-christian-slavic-marriages/

    Oh BOY were the pastors at HBC upset when the BCC published that article! Meetings were called; accusations were made. And best of all? The nearly 30 messages of thanks I received from women (some Slavic; some not) extremely grateful for my calling attention to this inconvenient truth.

    One of my writing partners in PA told me once that wife-beating jokes are very common in Russian culture and comedy. He didn’t know about the time frame of these, whether it had lessened or was still going strong.

  161. Daisy wrote:

    One wonders why pastors such as Pastor Tim tend to approach marital relationships differently from other ones?

    I believe that attitude/belief stems from their misunderstanding and misapplication of the *metaphor* of Christ and his Bride, the church. Christ would never divorce his Bride, and a pure and devoted Bride would never sever her relationship with Christ; therefore marriage permanence. A metaphor is not intended to be a law, but that is no bar to someone who believes that laws change hearts.

  162. In my extended family there have been several cases of separation without divorce, three of which that I know about eventually reconciled though it took a while, and two of which did not. It was a big family, but none the less this is a lot of couples with problems. To my knowledge not one couple ever considered divorce. I don’t know how prevalent this was at the time, but nobody seemed too upset about it. I went ahead and divorced my husband, but there were compelling legal reasons to do so. Otherwise I would not have. He might have divorced me, but he could not have made me divorce him (as opposed to separation) except for the legal issues.

    So, personally, I think that each person has to make their own decisions based on their own circumstances and what is best for them. My marriage was not abusive, BTW, so if it had been that would have been a different issue in my thinking. In my experience, the finality of divorce weighed heavily on my children because they had to give up hope that they would ever get back what they had lost. So, if there was no abuse, and if there were no compelling reasons, then long term separation is one option for some people if they choose that, in my opinion.

  163. @ Daisy:

    He loses me when he goes with the “people who leave church are evil” line. The exchange between Andrew Benson and christianpundit in the comments is more informative on the subject. I agree that, from experience in the Dallas young adults community, the “evil fake Christian guys out to get the pure Christian girls” gets out of control and creates an anti-male environment. I think it goes to show you that it’s not men winning and women losing, it’s pastors winning and laity losing.

  164. Nancy2 wrote:

    From the HBC website:
    “The men’s ministry team will be hosting a man-food and movie night on Friday June 3rd at 7:00 PM in the HBC gym. We will be showing the movie “Courageous” and eating untold quantities of manly food.”

    I do hope there will be nothing but “manly” cooking beforehand, and nothing but “manly” clean-up and soap bubble rinsing afterwards!

    Is manly food the type that’s loaded with saturated fats that clog arteries and lead to ED?

  165. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve seen several similar news stories like this show up in various social media I belong to in the last few months.

    Children are mere objects to such people rather than little ones who bear the image of God. Abusers will use anything or anyone to accomplish their goals. One behavior which abusers employ to abuse their target(s) is destroying the beloved objects of their target(s). If the target parent loves the children, then it is consistent with the logic of abusers to destroy those objects or, alternatively, destroy the love bond between the target and the children.

    Susan Smith. It is not only fathers who kill their children for revenge or other motives. She convinced a lot of people that a stranger had abducted the children. Abusers get away with abuse for so long precisely because they are such convincing liars.

  166. okrapod wrote:

    then long term separation is one option for some people if they choose that, in my opinion.

    I think the key here is ‘if they choose’. Not because the bible says so.

  167. Nancy2 wrote:

    Believe me, Max, the subordination of women is not limited to neo-cal churches. In my church (former church, I guess?) they don’t use the word “Complementarian”, but they really push submission and extremely limit what women are allowed to do. In my experience over the last 15-20 years, this runs through most SBC churches.

    It’s not just Neo-Cals and Southern Baptists.
    Calvary Chapel also teaches cast-in-concrete-gender-roles based solely on plumbing received at birth.
    They too claim that it’s the Almighty’s ‘Biblical Design’ according to Scripture.

  168. This article infuriated me so that it was hard to even finish it.

    Marie, I’m so sorry you have been put through all of this. You have been abused twice, once by your spouse and secondly by your church, both of whom you should have been able to trust.

    The pastors’ minds were already made up before she entered the room that “abuse, even physical abuse, is never biblical grounds for divorce”.

    Who do they think they are? Playing games with other peoples’ lives? Playing god? How dare they!

    Marie was already under an enormous amount of stress, and that vaguely threatening message from the pastor caused her to have what she now knows was a panic attack at work the next day. She was unable to breathe, shaking uncontrollably, and crying.

    The mind, when convinced it must do something at all costs, can force us to keep going for so long, but there comes a point where the body reaches its breaking point. The stress is destroying the person and the body gives them a warning: get out of this situation! If you find yourself in this situation, listen to your body!

  169. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    @ OnlyEleven:
    @ OnlyEleven:
    No but some of the founders and the former senior pastor (retired) came to faith in Plymouth Brethren. None of current leadership to my knowledge, but not sure.

    I had a hunch. I was brought up in Plymouth Brethren, and it was like unto a sin to refer to going to meeting as going to “church”. Most PB “churches” are called chapels.

  170. Marie – you have my utmost respect for sharing your experience. I wonder what would have happened at your church if your ex had talked to any of these ministers or deacons wives the way he did to you? I bet the outcome would have been totally different.

    Back during the depression, my great grandparents were divorced. She had remarried. She was living downstairs with her new husband and her daughter’s family. He was living upstairs. I’ve heard really funny stories about this. Can’t you imagine this. I am so thankful times are different and you don’t have to live in the same house with your ex.

  171. The counselor was reluctant to do so; not sure at all that this was God’s will. She explained to Tim her reservations and that her agenda was to focus strictly on Marie’s relationship with God.

    I don’t understand the counselor’s perspective or exactly what she was saying, but I just want to say, I don’t believe you can ‘focus on someone’s relationship with God’ apart from their emotional and physical well-being. We are whole beings, not fragmented parts. If a person is being abused and coerced to remain under abuse, their relationship with God is going to suffer. In order to ‘focus on their relationship with God’ I think you need to show loving concern for the whole person and support them fully in seeking their health and safety.

    And, I think Jeff’s post below illustrates how this works-

    Jeff S wrote:

    I was believed.

    I didn’t matter.

    It made me feeling like an object to God. A thing to be used up and thrown away. That he didn’t care about ME- only a marriage. A marriage that only served my ex-wife.

    I wrote these lyrics (which I’m sure I’ve shared before) about how that felt:

    Does it matter who I am?
    They told me it was OK
    That the way that I was made to be should all be wiped away
    I tried to lose that part of me
    And swallow my desire for peace
    But I never overcame the hope that one day I might be free

    I could not let all that I was be emptied and destroyed
    A sacrifice to bring no hope, just one more broken toy

  172. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    Marie, I don’t want to add to your stress in any way, and I don’t know the ages of your children, but do you not feel that witnessing this intense emotional abuse their mother has been subjected to is harmful to them?

  173. siteseer wrote:

    The mind, when convinced it must do something at all costs, can force us to keep going for so long, but there comes a point where the body reaches its breaking point. The stress is destroying the person and the body gives them a warning: get out of this situation! If you find yourself in this situation, listen to your body!

    Excellent advice.

  174. Lea wrote:

    okrapod wrote:

    then long term separation is one option for some people if they choose that, in my opinion.

    I think the key here is ‘if they choose’. Not because the bible says so.

    Yes. And people need to be aware of the issues this opens them up to, for instance financial responsibility for the spouse.

  175. siteseer wrote:

    Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    Marie, I don’t want to add to your stress in any way, and I don’t know the ages of your children, but do you not feel that witnessing this intense emotional abuse their mother has been subjected to is harmful to them?

    Yes – and that was one of the main reasons I filed for divorce. I was scared my daughters would end up in marriage like mine….or sons would treat their wives that way and think it was somehow ok.

  176. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes – and that was one of the main reasons I filed for divorce. I was scared my daughters would end up in marriage like mine….or sons would treat their wives that way and think it was somehow ok.

    A parent has an absolute responsibility to make sure the children are safe in every way. I would not hesitate one minute to get my children out of an abusive situation even if they were not the primary objects of the abuse. Stay strong.

  177. dee wrote:

    PaJo wrote:
    On what basis do these “pastors”/”churches” make these claims, that physical abuse is not grounds for separation / divorce?
    Because they claim that Jesus only allowed divorce for adultery. now get ready for this, “because their hearts were hard.” John piper claims this means that really gospelly people would not divorce even for adultery.
    Now catch the logic. Piper and presumably the gang at HBC, believe that the *hard of heart* person is the one who was sinned against. That then means that pastors can verbally beat up the abused spouses because their hearts *are hard* and therefore need to be better Christians.
    As I look at that verse, I believe that Jesus is doing something different. The ones with the hard heart of the abusers and Jesus is giving an out to the abused spouse. It is also incorrect that Jesus was making a “just this and no more ” statement. the Bible is much deeper than a superficial reading these guys want. Adultery goes deeper than merely an affair. It it is adultery to cling to one’s rage, ones substance abuse. one’s physical abuse, etc.
    Jesus says it all goes into the heart, There his absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jesus would allow fore divorced in abusive situations. Also, the Hosea and Gomer example is an example of pastoral ignorance in executing Scripture. I shall deal with this when I get to do my *tutorial* on this story.

    So, I just happen to be preaching on Matthew 1:19 this weekend. The fascinating thing about this verse is how the Bible calls a man, Joseph, “just and righteous” FOR DECIDING TO DIVORCE Mary in light of her presumed–wrongly–infidelity. Talk about a 180 on how many “Bible believing” pastors treat divorce. They’d never call someone who CHOSE to divorce “just and righteous.” That’s another reason to question Piper’s interpretation of Jesus’ “hard of heart” words in regard to divorce.

  178. siteseer wrote:

    The counselor was reluctant to do so; not sure at all that this was God’s will. She explained to Tim her reservations and that her agenda was to focus strictly on Marie’s relationship with God.

    I don’t understand the counselor’s perspective or exactly what she was saying, but I just want to say, I don’t believe you can ‘focus on someone’s relationship with God’ apart from their emotional and physical well-being. We are whole beings, not fragmented parts. If a person is being abused and coerced to remain under abuse, their relationship with God is going to suffer. In order to ‘focus on their relationship with God’ I think you need to show loving concern for the whole person and support them fully in seeking their health and safety.

    I was ordered into ‘biblical counseling’ to “deal with [my] sinful response to the abuse” and glorify God by “working toward the goal of reconciliation” . You really can’t make this stuff up.

    I have this in writing, along with the statement that my healing from the abuse was not the goal. (The counselor and I did a bible study on the Beatitudes and read Colossians. And then I left HBC, spent time on the mission field with string Christ-followers, and went to a better church, so REAL healing could begin).

    I think Dee is planning on publishing some of Tim’s emails to me in next week’s posts. They’re so convinced this is the correct way to handle divorces that are due to emotional abuse that I’m sure they won’t mind.

  179. siteseer wrote:

    The mind, when convinced it must do something at all costs, can force us to keep going for so long, but there comes a point where the body reaches its breaking point. The stress is destroying the person and the body gives them a warning: get out of this situation! If you find yourself in this situation, listen to your body!

    The Abuse Apologists have already anticipated you, Siteseer:
    Matthew 10:28.

    “So what if I rack him ’til he die? For I shall have Saved His Soul.”
    — “The Inquisitor”, Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

  180. Muff Potter wrote:

    It’s not just Neo-Cals and Southern Baptists.
    Calvary Chapel also teaches cast-in-concrete-gender-roles based solely on plumbing received at birth.

    They too claim that it’s the Almighty’s ‘Biblical Design’ according to Scripture.

    Remember my opinion of Calvary Chapel: How it distills down and concentrates all the ways Born-Again Bible-Believers can go sour. With always-ready ammo hoppers full of Bible Bullets.

  181. siteseer wrote:

    Who do they think they are? Playing games with other peoples’ lives? Playing god? How dare they!

    Never underestimate the Righteousness/Arrogance of God’s Speshul Pets.

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!” — Benny Hinn

  182. Stan wrote:

    Nancy2 wrote:

    From the HBC website:
    “The men’s ministry team will be hosting a man-food and movie night on Friday June 3rd at 7:00 PM in the HBC gym. We will be showing the movie “Courageous” and eating untold quantities of manly food.”

    I do hope there will be nothing but “manly” cooking beforehand, and nothing but “manly” clean-up and soap bubble rinsing afterwards!
    Is manly food the type that’s loaded with saturated fats that clog arteries and lead to ED?

    WE HAVE MOVIE SIGN!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seJSVbE9cxc

  183. Daisy wrote:

    Sometimes giving the abuser the boot is the only way to go, because they won’t change or bend.

    Exactly Daisy.
    Don’t let the door hit them on the way out.

  184. There are few things that burn me up as much as self-righteous idiot pastors who abuse women because of their frankly stupid ideas about divorce. But, that is what you get when marriage, like Everything Else becomes a Gospel(TM) issue.

  185. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    There are few things that burn me up as much as self-righteous idiot pastors who abuse women because of their frankly stupid ideas about divorce. But, that is what you get when marriage, like Everything Else becomes a Gospel(TM) issue.

    Personally, I think these pastors need to be chained to a post and flogged like Jesus was (hey, don’t they want to be more like Jesus?). …… by the abused spouses they have subjected to even more abuse.

  186. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I have this in writing, along with the statement that my healing from the abuse was not the goal

    On this blog, probably about a year ago, I posted a link to a church site that was using a Christian Nouthetic counseling service (or else it was a link to the Counseling services itself). They were advertising to their church members that this service was available via their church.

    I was nauseated and horrified to read that the people behind that counseling said out right that their goal of their treatment was not to heal you or help you!!

    I don’t remember the text on the counseling page verbatim, but it sounded to me like it was nothing more than a victim-blaming ordeal, where they would have you sit there and be asked by a counselor to inventory your own failures and sin in life.

    I fail to see how having someone “beat themselves up” and dwell on their flaws and sins is going to help them in any way, shape, or form.

    Their idea of counseling sounds like this old Mad-TV sketch with Bob Newhart who plays a psychologist who counsels a woman patient who is afraid of being trapped in boxes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAhA7KfbJgg

  187. Daisy wrote:

    I was nauseated and horrified to read that the people behind that counseling said out right that their goal of their treatment was not to heal you or help you!!

    I filed formal complaints with the California Medical Board against my ex-pastors/elders at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley for engaging in the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine, a crime in California that can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. They have repeatedly engaged in this form of “counseling” which crosses criminal lines and they have repeatedly engaged in medical diagnosis.

    Nouthetic Counselors are dangerous quacks and they should be stopped.

  188. Nancy2 wrote:

    Personally, I think these pastors need to be chained to a post and flogged like Jesus was (hey, don’t they want to be more like Jesus?). …… by the abused spouses they have subjected to even more abuse.

    Nope. I’d settle for a sincere apology. By December 23rd. That’s all.

  189. Nancy2 wrote:

    “The men’s ministry team will be hosting a man-food and movie night on Friday June 3rd at 7:00 PM in the HBC gym. We will be showing the movie “Courageous” and eating untold quantities of manly food.”

    There is nothing “courageous” about legitimizing spouse abuse!

  190. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I have this in writing, along with the statement that my healing from the abuse was not the goal.

    That’s just sick.

    I think Dee is planning on publishing some of Tim’s emails to me in next week’s posts. They’re so convinced this is the correct way to handle divorces that are due to emotional abuse that I’m sure they won’t mind.

    It’ll be so helpful to so many to have a chance to critically examine the reasoning involved and shine the light of the word of God on it.

  191. Daisy wrote:

    I find it odd that some Christians (such as pastors) would find those arrangements preferable to the couple divorcing, where the husband is living in a camper on the drive-way while the wife lives in the house.

    Sounds familiar. Fundies are obsessed with sex and love controlling people’s relationships. They tend to view scriptures about relationships as prescriptive rather than descriptive. Then they apply a typically narrow minded and patriarchal template to every scenario. This mindset tends to elevate the relational male or leadership as right even when they are horribly wrong.

  192. Daisy wrote:

    A small part of me has toyed with the idea of possibly returning to church some day, but then I keep seeing these horrifying stories of how churches enable or perpetuate abuse and think I may be better off staying away.

    Being away has been a huge stress reliever. And if I ever need relationship counseling we will actually use a licensed and professional counselor that won’t attempt to manipulate us into complying with a patriarchal relational framework.

  193. Did not expect these credentials from major SBC seminaries. That is truly frightening in my estimation. This is a real sad state of affairs for the SBC.@ Deb:

  194. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Nope. I’d settle for a sincere apology. By December 23rd. That’s all.

    You are my hero Marie. You have so much more spiritual maturity than your former pastors.

  195. Ben wrote:

    Did not expect these credentials from major SBC seminaries. That is truly frightening in my estimation. This is a real sad state of affairs for the SBC.@ Deb:

    Unfortunately, Ben, SBTS and SEBTS have been turning out mindless hyper-Calvinist zombies for quite some time now. Those zombies, with the aid of Mohler and friends, have gone to take over by force most of the SBC churches around those seminaries, including my former church. I was there when the pastor of that church was onboarded, and I can tell you for a fact that he did not present any of the views that he now forces on the church, such as that all members must sign a covenant to commit all their decisions to the church’s staff. It even extends down to weekly forced participation on the church website and Facebook page.

    Sadly, most Southern Baptists are unaware that the entire leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention has been replaced by Mohler, including everyone on the resolutions committee. No resolution can go through to deal with it. IMB and NAMB have gotten rid of most of their missionaries pre-2005, and replaced them with hyper-Calvinist church “supplanters”, whose job is to go into current churches and make them authoritarian hyper-Calvinist, not to plant new churches. This is what Southern Baptists are paying into the Cooperative Program.

  196. ishy wrote:

    You know, you might very well be right. It can explain the level of callousness and contempt these men, and men like Piper and Ware, have toward women.

    Again, this is just me speaking, but there’s a word to describe what’s going, and it’s patriarchy. Not Christianity, but patriarchy.

  197. Ben wrote:

    Did not expect these credentials from major SBC seminaries. That is truly frightening in my estimation. This is a real sad state of affairs for the SBC.@ Deb:

    That’s the NeoCalvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention and seminaries, complete with the hateful, untrue Eternal [a lie] Subordination of the Son trinitarian/semi-Arian heresy to justify the subordination of women via the man-made doctrine of Patriarchy.

  198. Christiane wrote:

    I am concerned by one of the comments in the post, this:
    “I know the ultimate goal is to see the way Christ sees. But it’s not easy getting there from the human perspective.”
    Not sure what is being taught about Christ in that Church, but His viewpoint would never be to want anyone to remain in a situation where their human dignity and possibly their safety was imperiled. The second thing I see in this comment is that there is a ‘divide’ between ‘the way Christ sees’ and ‘the human perspective’ which tells me that this person does not get it that Our Lord completely understands our human perspective because He shares it, having assumed our humanity to Himself. In Christ, we have the One Person who DOES understand fully our human situation; He is not distant from any one of us. He is not unsympathetic with our burdens and our cares.
    In short, He’s on our side.

    Christiane, This would be a form of Monophysitism and Eutychianism, heresies that were addressed and refuted by the church at the Council of Chalcedon. But like all heresies,’s they rear their heads every few centuries. Unless others here don’t know what it means, here’s a brief description.
    http://www.theopedia.com/monophysitism

  199. ishy wrote:

    IMB and NAMB have gotten rid of most of their missionaries pre-2005, and replaced them with hyper-Calvinist church “supplanters”, whose job is to go into current churches and make them authoritarian hyper-Calvinist, not to plant new churches. This is what Southern Baptists are paying into the Cooperative Program.

    Please don’t paint all of us with this some paintbrush! I think what you’re saying is happening among the SBC missions force is a minority situation. Yes, I do see some of this “type” in our work force, but not most.
    Now, is that changing?
    Maybe. But for now…just know that most folks are just like you and appalled at what is happening in the US church.

  200. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:

    Again, this is just me speaking, but there’s a word to describe what’s going, and it’s patriarchy. Not Christianity, but patriarchy.

    No, MALE SUPREMACY.

    Just like the KKK and Skinheads are White Supremacist, these are Male Supremacist.

  201. Accipiter wrote:

    Sounds familiar. Fundies are obsessed with sex and love controlling people’s relationships.

    As obsessed with sex as a total nymphomaniac.

  202. Plymouth Brethren wow old home week, they are an interesting group. In many ways some of the most faithful folks to ever walk the earth in my experience. I came to faith in PB related church. We were open brethren so we were a tad left of attila the hun. Some of the Closed Brethren (Exclusive) Brethren. They do take their theology very seriously especially their eschatology, ecclesiology, and male leadership. Actually, they take way to many things seriously except things we really should take seriously. I mean Dave Hunt was not a historian or a theologian. He was an accountant, I actually liked Dave Hunt the person. Some actually saw Jack as a real hero, they hold to many reformed views of the atonement and the state of man but “Calvinism” gives them the willies.

    I still deeply care for the people there, even though its been so long, I truly miss some aspects of the fellowship. This little PB church, all PB are small, did try so very hard yet could make you crazy. Made me crazy in so many ways. I actually made peace with many there after so many years and now have a good but distant relationship. I think that is honoring to God even if we do not see eye to eye. Some of those I knew asked me if I wanted to come back. My theology is too different and I would wind up getting the boot or even far worse I might damage another person’s faith. I have always feared damaging other people’s faith.

  203. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    @ Lowlandseer:
    Yep! I do. Which is why the cross-examination in March went on for 2 hours instead of being over in 10-15 minutes….I knew in advance what verses they were going to try and use to back me into a corner and know the circular arguments, so I was prepared.
    It doesn’t matter in patriarchy circles how many degrees you have if you’re a woman. You will still be sent to the “back of the bus”, so to speak. Yeah……no. I’m SO done with misogyny.

    Marie, you are evidence that women who hold to Complementarianism are able to see its harmful effects. Kudos to you.

  204. Jeff S wrote:

    Because modern Christianity can easily be interpreted to mean that no, it doesn’t matter who we are.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians say that ALL we deserve is hell. From whence did this strange view originate? When I hear it now, I want to cringe.

  205. Nancy2 wrote:

    My husband and I separated (I believe) because of the SBC teachings about wives. I still don’t know whether my husband just can’t see and doesn’t think about what goes on “because he’s a man”, or if he actually buys into it. I often wonder if he agreed to counciling because he loves me and wanted to save our marriage, or if it was just because he wants to preach, and most churches will not permit a divorced man to preach.

    Nancy2: I didn’t know that you and your husband are separated. I’m sorry that you have had to go through such mind-numbing idiocy from that church.

  206. Nancy2 wrote:

    From the HBC website:
    “The men’s ministry team will be hosting a man-food and movie night on Friday June 3rd at 7:00 PM in the HBC gym. We will be showing the movie “Courageous” and eating untold quantities of manly food.”
    I do hope there will be nothing but “manly” cooking beforehand, and nothing but “manly” clean-up and soap bubble rinsing afterwards!

    Manly food? Is there such a thing? These guys are full of themselves.

  207. Of course they were re-traumatised. Expecting someone in a marriage so bad they want out of it to stagger about under the weight of other people’s insane pious expectations, that show they really haven’t grasped what’s going on, is enough to kill those already wounded. I’m so glad I have had no such ‘helpers’ during my last 2 years of separation & approaching divorce.

  208. Darlene wrote:

    Manly food? Is there such a thing?

    Ah yes, come along & indulge your greed as well as your pride. No womanly vegetables for you!

  209. Darlene wrote:

    Manly food? Is there such a thing?

    I’m pretty sure man food is all my favorite things like steaks and hamburgers? Maybe ribs?

    Nancy2 wrote:

    I often wonder if he agreed to counciling because he loves me and wanted to save our marriage, or if it was just because he wants to preach, and most churches will not permit a divorced man to preach.

    These guys are doing so much damage and they don’t care. I’m so sorry, Nancy.

  210. Daisy wrote:

    They get God and the Bible’s teachings totally backwards. It’s a pattern in a lot of the abuse stories I see on here, at Julie Anne’s blog, and elsewhere.

    when I think of people ‘getting the Bible’s teachings totally backward’, I think it is a good example of how the Bible reads us …… we have an encounter with Holy Scripture and sometimes it opens its gifts to us, and sometimes it exposes that in us that we may not see in ourselves.

    I don’t think any encounter with sacred Scripture goes without some teaching, and if people are reading Scripture ‘bass ackwards’, then it is they themselves that need to be sorted out.

  211. @ Christiane:

    Good morning, Christiane. May I get personal without giving any details? We have been hit with the proverbial ton of bricks, again, in our family. It is not about religion, and it is not anything that we ourselves caused or can control. Would you please pray for us, for wisdom to make the right decisions, for opportunities to implement the right decisions, and for the little ones who are being emotionally battered by life one more time. Thanks.

  212. @ okrapod:
    oh my dear, of course I will …. your comment brought me to tears ….. I will pray today, and tonight I will keep vigil for you and your family

    I am so sorry you are troubled now, but you will not be alone as there are many people here who will also pray for you and with you …. may Christ keep you close to His heart

  213. Darlene wrote:

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians say that ALL we deserve is hell. From whence did this strange view originate? When I hear it now, I want to cringe.

    Yeah, when I hear that, all I can think is, “Does God really hate me and he is only grudgingly saving me because I jumped through the ‘belief’ hoop?” I don’t know that I want to spend eternity with someone who only grudgingly likes me because of Jesus.

  214. ishy wrote:

    Ben wrote:

    Did not expect these credentials from major SBC seminaries. That is truly frightening in my estimation. This is a real sad state of affairs for the SBC.@ Deb:

    Unfortunately, Ben, SBTS and SEBTS have been turning out mindless hyper-Calvinist zombies for quite some time now. Those zombies, with the aid of Mohler and friends, have gone to take over by force most of the SBC churches around those seminaries, including my former church. I was there when the pastor of that church was onboarded, and I can tell you for a fact that he did not present any of the views that he now forces on the church, such as that all members must sign a covenant to commit all their decisions to the church’s staff. It even extends down to weekly forced participation on the church website and Facebook page.

    Sadly, most Southern Baptists are unaware that the entire leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention has been replaced by Mohler, including everyone on the resolutions committee. No resolution can go through to deal with it. IMB and NAMB have gotten rid of most of their missionaries pre-2005, and replaced them with hyper-Calvinist church “supplanters”, whose job is to go into current churches and make them authoritarian hyper-Calvinist, not to plant new churches. This is what Southern Baptists are paying into the Cooperative Program.

    Hopefully the American Baptists aren’t going down that road too.

  215. Darlene wrote:

    Nancy2: I didn’t know that you and your husband are separated. I’m sorry that you have had to go through such mind-numbing idiocy from that church.

    Nancy: So very sorry that you are having to go through this.

  216. brian wrote:

    Dave Hunt

    One of the greatest Christian apologists who ever walked the earth! In his latter years, he proved to be a “Berean” by searching the Scriptures daily to see if what the New Calvinists were saying was true. His scholarly work “What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God” is a must read for those desiring to learn more about the aberrant teachings of John Piper et al.

  217. @ Lea:

    What probably happened is that you selected the text in Bridget’s email at some point, then carried on scrolling/reading and afterwards clicked one of the Reply buttons on Okrapod’s email. WordPress, however, displays the text you’ve selected, not the text of the email you’re trying to reply to. I hope that makes sense!

  218. Max wrote:

    brian wrote:
    Dave Hunt

    I read the famous The Seduction of Christianity getting on for 30 years ago now. I am aware that a reply, entitled The Reduction of Christianity, was written, but I dinnae ken by whom and it doesn’t seem to be as famous. I suppose if I could be bothered to, I’d track it down! I’m sympathetic to both halves of that argument, TBH.

    More later.

  219. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    WordPress, however, displays the text you’ve selected, not the text of the email you’re trying to reply to. I hope that makes sense!

    How strange! I think I’ve done that a time or two…

  220. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    The books you note dealt with “New Age” thinking that was entering the church at the time; I’ve not read either, so can’t comment. However, Hunt’s predictions in “What Love Is This?” about the impacts of New Calvinism on the American church are proving to be prophetic.

  221. Max wrote:

    However, Hunt’s predictions in “What Love Is This?” about the impacts of New Calvinism on the American church are proving to be prophetic.

    It seems to be on youtube. I will take a listen-about 80 minutes apparently. I read one thing by Hunt way back when and then no more because he seemed at the time to be focusing on anti-catholic ideas and I was not into that.

    But on your recommendation I am going to check out What Love is This.

  222. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    siteseer wrote:

    Marie Notcheva wrote:

    Yes. The abuse was strictly verbal/psychological and it’s directed at me. No risk to them.

    Marie, I don’t want to add to your stress in any way, and I don’t know the ages of your children, but do you not feel that witnessing this intense emotional abuse their mother has been subjected to is harmful to them?

    Yes – and that was one of the main reasons I filed for divorce. I was scared my daughters would end up in marriage like mine….or sons would treat their wives that way and think it was somehow ok.

    Good for you!! This is the way to teach kids that no form of abuse is acceptable. They need to see their mothers take a stand.

  223. Prayers for Okrapod & her family.
    And for the others here, whose needs are not known to us, but who are nonetheless our brothers & sisters in the family of God.

  224. Just to clarify, my husband and I are not separated right now. We went to counciling almost two years ago.
    But, his actions have made it clear to me that a certain church is the most important thing in this world to him.
    For example, we go to one family member’s home in another county for Xmas Eve dinner (lunch, for you city people), and then to my parents for big Xmas morning breakfast. Both meals at both homes are very inclusive large gatherings: in-laws, friends, cousins that we only get the chance to see once or twice a year, unless we see them at a funeral or visitation.
    That has been our family tradition since my paternal grandfather passed away in 1976.
    Hubby is not going to the breakfast his year – church services take priority over family. I am assuming he will skip the dinner next year, since Xmas eve will fall on a Sunday.

  225. ishy wrote:

    most Southern Baptists are unaware that the entire leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention has been replaced by Mohler

    Ishy, it continues to amaze me that millions of Southern Baptists are so willingly ignorant about Mohler’s influence on Calvinization of their denomination. I used to think they were just uninformed or misinformed, but that excuse is starting to wear thin as the word gets out about Mohler’s schemes. While the giant slept, he hand-picked reformed SBC entity leaders and indoctrinated an army of young, restless and reformed to pastor the next generation of Southern Baptists. He has proven to be a brilliant general on a battlefield in which the other side has barely fired a shot.

  226. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    No, MALE SUPREMACY.
    Just like the KKK and Skinheads are White Supremacist, these are Male Supremacist.

    My comments farther above are what started the chain of follow-ups.

    I honestly suspect that what lies at the heart of the men who run this church is not merely patriarchy.

    It’s sadism and misogyny (hatred of women, not just mere dislike or thinking men are better than women).

    Some of the men at this church hate women (though they will no doubt deny that and proclaim deep respect for women), and I believe they enjoy seeing women suffer.

    It is my belief they enjoy orchestrating events to keep women in bondage and pain (e.g., forcing them or pressuring them to stay in abusive marriages).

    There is, IMO, something far more troubling and evil going on with this church (and ones like it, and with guys like Mark Driscoll) than the usual gender complementarian idiocy which tells women to marry, have kids, and telling them “you can’t preach.”

    This church goes far beyond that garden variety sexism. I feel there’s something more deep and sinister going on with church men who pressure women to stay in harmful situations.

    And I’m still dying to know if Pastor Tim would put up in silence with being verbally harangued the way he obviously expects women in his church to put up with it off their husbands.

    You know Rev Tim and his male cronies would not put up with verbal abuse from another man for a split second, but he / they demands that women acquiesce to it-

    And probably slaps some lame-o theology and Bible verses on to it to justify it, by telling women it will sanctify them, or, “our Lord suffered, and this is your cross to bear,” etc.

  227. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:

    Yeah, when I hear that, all I can think is, “Does God really hate me and he is only grudgingly saving me because I jumped through the ‘belief’ hoop?” I don’t know that I want to spend eternity with someone who only grudgingly likes me because of Jesus.

    I can see how some types of theology give that impression, but this is often how I felt growing up, due to my family.

    I had it ingrained in me from the time I was a kid that other people’s needs and feelings matter, but mine do not.
    At the same time, though, as a kid and older, my mother would tell me that “God loves you” and “Jesus loves you.”

    I never really believed that God or Jesus loved me, since simultaneously my family was telling me that I don’t matter as much as other people.

    God and Jesus love others far more than they do me.

    The only reason Jesus died on the cross for me is because he HAD TO, but he WANTED to in order to save other people.

    That is how I viewed things for a long time due to my family’s beliefs and I still retain some of this in adulthood. I think God loves you and everyone else reading here, but not me so much.

    This is one reason I get my hackles up when certain types of Christians discount emotions or feelings or tell people that your pain or problems don’t matter as much as Joe Blow’s over there.

  228. Max wrote:

    While the giant slept, he hand-picked reformed SBC entity leaders and indoctrinated an army of young, restless and reformed to pastor the next generation of Southern Baptists.

    Mohlerjugend with their brown shirts hidden for the Stealth Coup from Within.

    He has proven to be a brilliant general on a battlefield in which the other side has barely fired a shot.

    A masterful blend of National Socialist Coup-from-Within and Marxist-Leninist Salami Tactics.

  229. Nancy2 wrote:

    church services take priority over family

    There seem to be a number of churches trying to guilt trip members into coming Christmas morning. I may or may not go Christmas eve, I’ll just have to see how the timing works out. But it seems like people over a day chosen for service makes more sense to me.

  230. Darlene wrote:

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians say that ALL we deserve is hell. From whence did this strange view originate? When I hear it now, I want to cringe.

    It was the default on Christianese AM Radio in the Seventies. I remember hearing it over and over and over and over, usually on half-hour preaching shows which consisted of yelling a sermon on the air and not much else. I remember several radio preachers among those lines, many of whom had a similar accent to J Vernon Magee (who himself was DEFINITELY NOT like that).

  231. Daisy wrote:

    I honestly suspect that what lies at the heart of the men who run this church is not merely patriarchy. It’s sadism and misogyny …

    There should be no doubt at this point that some corners of the New Calvinist movement are populated by tribal, egotistical misogynists (including preachers!). They become sadistic when they use anything within their power to make women feel miserable – including the pulpit they are supposed to be ministering love from. Of course, none of this sounds like Jesus or the Church He gave His life for.

  232. Daisy wrote:

    You know Rev Tim and his male cronies would not put up with verbal abuse from another man for a split second, but he / they demands that women acquiesce to it-
    And probably slaps some lame-o theology and Bible verses on to it to justify it, by telling women it will sanctify them, or, “our Lord suffered, and this is your cross to bear,” etc.

    A Post Script.
    And Pastor Tim & Buddies “allowing” women to separate is only putting a Band-Aid on the situation.

    Women, first of all, are adults and can decide for themselves what they want to do – stay, divorce, whatever – but abusers seldom change.

    Telling women they can only separate (and keep badgering them to “reconcile) isn’t much of a choice. You’re basically pushing them back into the arms of the abuser, and asking them to put up with verbal abuse for the rest of their lives.

  233. Daisy wrote:

    Women, first of all, are adults and can decide for themselves what they want to do

    This is the weirdest part of all this to me and we saw it with Karen Hinkley’s TVC issue too. Counselors/pastors/etc, are welcome to give advice, if sought. But it is not their life. Where do they get off thinking the decision was ever theirs to make???!

  234. Lea wrote:

    There seem to be a number of churches trying to guilt trip members into coming Christmas morning. I may or may not go Christmas eve, I’ll just have to see how the timing works out. But it seems like people over a day chosen for service makes more sense to me.

    I can see both sides of this. A few big mega churches cancel church services if it falls on Christmas Day.

    The bummer thing is there are single adults with no living family, and fellow church goers may be the only “family” they have, so if church is cancelled, they spend Xmas Day all alone.

  235. You are courageous definitely.

    My church did a similar thing. My dad was abusing me, and I went to the church for help (as Matthew 18 says). And they put me in counseling, and the counselor told me that if I showed my dad more respect, he wouldn’t have a reason to do what he did.

    And another friend of mine at a different church had the same thing. Her husband was abusive and cheated. And the church reprimanded HER when she was no longer willing to reconcile with him and wanted a divorce. Smh.

    Gross. All of it is so gross and makes me want to smack some heads together!! Sorry guys. I know it’s not the Godlike thing to say, but uhh….I hate when churches do this.

  236. Marie, I just want you to know I am following your story and am so angry and sad that you have to endure what you do. My heart breaks especially over the conflict with your children over your former Church and that pain you are enduring on top of everything else. You are an amazing person and I am routing for you and praying for strength and peace through this dark time. I am also praying for healing with your loved ones and that you feel supported. I am glad your story is being shared. Hang in there!

  237. Max wrote:

    Ishy, it continues to amaze me that millions of Southern Baptists are so willingly ignorant about Mohler’s influence on Calvinization of their denomination. I used to think they were just uninformed or misinformed, but that excuse is starting to wear thin as the word gets out about Mohler’s schemes. While the giant slept, he hand-picked reformed SBC entity leaders and indoctrinated an army of young, restless and reformed to pastor the next generation of Southern Baptists. He has proven to be a brilliant general on a battlefield in which the other side has barely fired a shot.

    You and me both.

    I remember how indignant people were at Southeastern about the changes, and about how none of the changes were made by people actually at or from Southeastern. Then longtime professors with a great diversity of backgrounds were laid off in favor of doctoral students who all went to Southern. They were a bunch of kids (younger than me at the time), and they had no qualifications other than being minions of Mohler.

    Now all the SBC churches around Wake Forest are Calvinista. People who graduate from Southeastern don’t seem to be able to think for themselves. I’m ashamed to have gone there.

  238. ishy wrote:

    People who graduate from Southeastern don’t seem to be able to think for themselves.

    That’s what indoctrination does to the mind! “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” doesn’t fit the SBC-YRR population. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Mohler, Piper, etc.” fits better. While SBTS and SEBTS are the primary “go to” places for New Calvinism, MWBTS has also surrendered to the aberrations of New Calvinist belief and practice. Sad to see the SBC go this direction … the youth group is running the church now!

  239. @ Lea:

    “I feel this is one of those dumb letter not spirit of the law things. If you are separated, living apart, for years you are effectively divorced. What difference does it make if you make it official or not?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    whether or not you reach the goal: to be ‘biblical’.

    apparently, technicalities are the arbiter of what it means to ‘biblical’.

    i see this so much in christian culture. the perpetuation of ‘formats’ (in church, in the living of life) so that all the biblical boxes are checked, regardless of the resulting misery, stupidity, injustice, counter-productivity, ineffectiveness, compromise to integrity, destructiveness to human life…

    faith in rules.

    my conclusion: christianity is more about a continuum of control freakery amongst its leaders than it is about anything else.

  240. @ ishy:

    Daisy: “I really suspect these guys get off knowing they are keeping women trapped in painful or dangerous situations. I think they are perverse and sick.
    My gut is telling me there is something far more going in than the standard gender complementarian idiocy, the usual complementarian incompetency, or love of church authoritarianism.”

    Ishy: “You know, you might very well be right. It can explain the level of callousness and contempt these men, and men like Piper and Ware, have toward women.”
    ReplyReply w/Quote (select the text to quote then click this button)
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    little napoleons reveling in their perceived permission from God to be male chauvinists.

    congratulating each other and themselves all the way.

    but this is old news, isn’t it.

  241. elastigirl wrote:

    little napoleons reveling in their perceived permission from God to be male chauvinists.
    congratulating each other and themselves all the way.

    I really think a few men created their theology to cater to their selfish desires, and people are dumb enough to follow them. Power, money, women, minions, and grace that covers rampant sin no matter what they do, but no mercy for those they control who step out of bounds because that reveals what kind of people they really are.

  242. ishy wrote:

    Power, money, women, minions, and grace that covers rampant sin no matter what they do, but no mercy for those they control who step out of bounds because that reveals what kind of people they really are.

    Yep. I love what the little kids tell each other basically all the time: “You are not the boss of me”. I wonder why there are so many grown ups who forget the pure joy of that.

  243. Nancy2 wrote:

    I do hope there will be nothing but “manly” cooking beforehand, and nothing but “manly” clean-up and soap bubble rinsing afterwards!

    Nope, you gals are sposeta’ do the cookin’ AND the cleanup afterwards.

  244. okrapod wrote:

    “You are not the boss of me”.

    In the free church of Jesus Christ, ALL believers are priests. ALL believers have equal access to God. ALL believers can hear His voice. Pastors are called to serve the Body of Christ, not be lords over them. Control, manipulation, and intimidation are not fruit of the Spirit and should never be found in the “strengths” section on a pastor’s resume.

  245. ishy wrote:

    I really think a few men created their theology to cater to their selfish desires, and people are dumb enough to follow them.

    Yep, such “pastors” would not have a stage if they didn’t have an audience. For you who have been been cast under a spell by a ministry of this sort, it is advisable to leave Pastor and his buds in your rear view mirror as soon as you wake up.

  246. Daisy wrote:

    there are single adults with no living family, and fellow church goers may be the only “family” they have, so if church is cancelled, they spend Xmas Day all alone.

    that is one good reason to have a service

    we are doing the usual Midnight Mass and for those who don’t attend it, there is also mass the next day

    I wouldn’t miss Midnight Mass. One interesting part of it is that the Christmas Proclamation is read aloud …. it is always thrilling to hear. And the Gospel of St. Luke’s beautiful nativity is read aloud. It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t attend else I might not remember ‘what Christmas is all about’ 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u3Ia6msMFw

  247. I just wish that women could step back and view the whole story of the Bible. A few verses are being used to weave an entire doctrine that actually goes against the overarching message of scripture.

    Women who sincerely want to please God are kept in bondage by those who are willing to take advantage of their sincerity.

    We would do so much better to build our relationships on the “one anothers” of the Bible. Hierarchy models may seem right at first glance but they are of the world, of the fallen nature, of the curse. We are called to a better way!

    http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/bible-study/all-the-one-anothers.php

  248. Christiane wrote:

    we are doing the usual Midnight Mass and for those who don’t attend it, there is also mass the next day
    I wouldn’t miss Midnight Mass. One interesting part of it is that the Christmas Proclamation is read aloud …. it is always thrilling to hear. And the Gospel of St. Luke’s beautiful nativity is read aloud. It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t attend else I might not remember ‘what Christmas is all about’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u3Ia6msMFw

    I like the idea of a midnight service, as it not only doesn’t conflict with family time, but it is like the candlelight service on Christmas eve.

    I’m just not sure I can stay up that late!

  249. “Over the last 10-12 years, there have been many divorces at HBC (for different reasons), and consistently it is the women who are pressured to reconcile.”

    Well, that right there tells me just about everything I need to know.

    I’m sure they’re preaching their hearts out about gender roles, submission, authority, etc. I wonder when they will see the link….

  250. Lea wrote:

    I think my church is having one small service. But I don’t feel compelled to go or anything.

    I certainly didn’t mean to sound as though I was condemning, shaming, or scolding you, or anyone else, for not wanting to go. I understand both sides of the issue.

    I just recall reading about older single adults, (the divorced, widowed, etc), who say they get lonely on holidays. They don’t have any biological family to spend the holidays with, and some of them find it difficult.

    When some mega-churches cancel Christmas Day services, it gets debated online about every time it occurs.

    When I lived in Houston, Osteen closed his mega church for the day. I think I remember seeing older adults online, or in the local printed paper, say it depressed them, because they had no where else to go.

    They had been looking forward to going to church Xmas day but could not because Osteen shut it down.

    Maybe churches that shut down for the day can put a program in place for single adults.

    If they don’t want the church building itself to remain open, maybe they can set up a foster family program where families that agree to it can host (at their own homes) anyone who would like to spend the day with those families.

    And the church can help fund those families – give them grocery store gift cards so they can buy extra turkey and pies for their church member guests. They could start planning this a month or two in advance and have sign up sheets.

    That way the widows, the divorced, and singles with no family (or no family near by) would have somewhere to go, if they want.

  251. siteseer wrote:

    I just wish that women could step back and view the whole story of the Bible. A few verses are being used to weave an entire doctrine that actually goes against the overarching message of scripture.

    I agree with all your post, that part especially.

    That is EXACTLY how I view the topic.

    It’s part of the reason I get quickly impatient with gender complementarians who want to get into what I consider very nit-picky debates about ‘what does this or that particular word mean in the koine Greek’ and so forth.

    Comps are about the details, I am more about the big picture.

    I’m like, look, the overall thrust of the Scripture is that Jesus came to stomp on hierarchy and authority (the many even said NOT to lord authority over others), yet gender comp contradicts some of these very central themes of the Bible.

    Obviously those 2, 3, or 4 clobber verses complementarians like to keep pointing to all the time must not mean what they think they mean, and/or those verses are not binding on all believers today, since applying them today the way complementarians want to do violates the nature and basis of what Christ taught and practiced.

  252. Daisy wrote:

    (the many even said NOT to lord authority over others)

    That should read, “The man even said not…”

    That “y” snuck in there. 🙂

  253. The way I see it, abusing his/her spouse is directly sexual immorality.

    There are plenty of men who NEVER raised a finger to hurt their wives, but YET cheat on their wives. So Ok let’s say a husband “hates” his wife so much that he abuses her. What are the chances of him not watching porn? What are the chances of him walking down the street and not lusting after other women? What are the chances of him not cheating on his wife secretly?

    Zero chance, in my opinion.

    Being abusive is a manifestation of sexual immorality. I do not need to collect any other evidence of him porn watching, lusting or cheating. He is witness against himself for being abusive to his wife. He obviously doesn’t love her (even if he say he does) but instead hates her intensely by his action. If he hates his wife enough to abusive her, there is no chance he won’t commit sexual immorality in one form or another. By their fruits you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16)

    When Sarah and Abraham TWICE chased out Hagar, God stood on Hagar’s side. God will always stand with the abused victim. So if a wife gets abused, God stands on the wife’s side. If a husband gets abused, God stands on the husband’s side.

    God always sides with the victim of sin first, even though he too love the sinner. But DO NOT mix the two. Yes God loves everyone. But God loves the victim before the sinner. So the church, while trying to love everyone, must also FIRST love the victim BEFORE loving the sinner. There is a priority to things.

  254. KayJay wrote:

    “Over the last 10-12 years, there have been many divorces at HBC (for different reasons), and consistently it is the women who are pressured to reconcile.”
    Well, that right there tells me just about everything I need to know.
    I’m sure they’re preaching their hearts out about gender roles, submission, authority, etc. I wonder when they will see the link….

    This! This! Yes, that line (among a few others) was a big red flag to me too.

    The rest of your comment is right on the money, as well.

    I think there is a link between gender comp (fixating on male hierarchy, constantly lecturing women to submit) and abuse / mistreatment / or unfair treatment of women.

    Some complementarians remain in deep denial of how damaging their gender teachings are. Example:

    From Christianity Today:

    “I get really tired of people who argue that complementarianism leads to abuse or subservience of women. It mischaracterizes the complementarian position,” said Mary Kassian, women’s studies professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Girls Gone Wise. “I’d urge complementarians to make sure they are balanced and they are upholding that women are co-heirs and co-laborers.”

    Source:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/september/behind-trinity-tussle.html?share=AyGVVKbyztCW4tSjZWDOhrZdOWPiF1uz

  255. Daisy wrote:

    @ Christiane:

    That sounds lovely.

    Thank you, Daisy

    I realize that many folks are not comfortable going to Church because they have suffered abuse at the hands of clergy, but people can still keep Christmas at home with a reading aloud of the St. Luke’s nativity, and maybe lighting a Christmas vigil candle, if they are comfortable with that tradition. And surely nothing is better than spending time with loved family ….. we can never take it for granted that we will always have our loved ones around for the next Christmas, so there is something poignant about any family Christmas gathering. And there might come carolers to the house. And my goodness, all kinds of strange things can bring the nicest people together at Christmas:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuRn2S7iPNU

  256. Daisy wrote:

    I honestly suspect that what lies at the heart of the men who run this church is not merely patriarchy.
    It’s sadism and misogyny (hatred of women, not just mere dislike or thinking men are better than women).
    Some of the men at this church hate women (though they will no doubt deny that and proclaim deep respect for women), and I believe they enjoy seeing women suffer.

    Daisy, I think you’ve nailed it! This is the sick root of patriarchy.

  257. Daisy wrote:

    When some mega-churches cancel Christmas Day services, it gets debated online about every time it occurs.
    When I lived in Houston, Osteen closed his mega church for the day. I think I remember seeing older adults online, or in the local printed paper, say it depressed them, because they had no where else to go.
    They had been looking forward to going to church Xmas day but could not because Osteen shut it down.
    Maybe churches that shut down for the day can put a program in place for single adults.
    If they don’t want the church building itself to remain open, maybe they can set up a foster family program where families that agree to it can host (at their own homes) anyone who would like to spend the day with those families.
    And the church can help fund those families – give them grocery store gift cards so they can buy extra turkey and pies for their church member guests. They could start planning this a month or two in advance and have sign up sheets.
    That way the widows, the divorced, and singles with no family (or no family near by) would have somewhere to go, if they want.

    I doubt most megas care that much about single people, but it’s a good idea. All the megas I’ve been to don’t even have something for single people on a regular basis, much less on holidays.

    I had the singles leaders in one church (sadly the church that is now Calvinista) who said that singles were always invited to their house on holidays if they had nowhere to go. It wasn’t church initiated, and I usually was home at those times, but it did make me feel like someone cared.

    There’s often charities that need help on Christmas day, like soup kitchens. They could also go to a different church. Or they could organize a group to have Christmas together. There’s plenty of options between church and no church.

  258. Daisy wrote:

    If they don’t want the church building itself to remain open, maybe they can set up a foster family program where families that agree to it can host (at their own homes) anyone who would like to spend the day with those families.

    See this is where I think the community aspects of church should be helpful, for people who are disconnected they could make connections there. i guess it feels nicer for things to happen organically from that point m but I know that isn’t always the case.

  259. Christiane wrote:

    but people can still keep Christmas at home with a reading aloud of the St. Luke’s nativity,

    We used to read the Christmas story at home before we went to open gifts.

  260. ishy wrote:

    I really think a few men created their theology to cater to their selfish desires

    Mark Driscoll, anyone?
    And his entire teaching on The Song of Solomon?
    (along with pretty much everything else he taught on.)

    I honestly don’t know how these guys can be so blind to the fact that they are taking God’s name in vain. They teach what is in their own hearts and minds slapping a “Thus saith the Lord” or “The Bible clearly teaches” on it to make it sound like God’s will when really it is their own will.

  261. okrapod wrote:

    Yep. I love what the little kids tell each other basically all the time: “You are not the boss of me”. I wonder why there are so many grown ups who forget the pure joy of that.

    Not me!! I may not say the exact words, but you would get my drift 😉

  262. Mara wrote:

    I honestly don’t know how these guys can be so blind to the fact that they are taking God’s name in vain. They teach what is in their own hearts and minds slapping a “Thus saith the Lord” or “The Bible clearly teaches” on it to make it sound like God’s will when really it is their own will.

    So true!

  263. ishy wrote:

    Unfortunately, Ben, SBTS and SEBTS have been turning out mindless hyper-Calvinist zombies for quite some time now. Those zombies, with the aid of Mohler and friends, have gone to take over by force most of the SBC churches around those seminaries, including my former church.

    Founders ministry is teaching that all the original SBC churches were Calvinist: http://founders.org/2016/12/14/are-southern-baptists-cousins-to-the-anabaptists/.

    Founders seems to be getting an infusion of influence lately. They even re-vamped their website a few months ago. Instead of posting new material every few weeks, they are now posting new material every day or so. Their site has lots of good information to learn where they want to take the the SBC. Their most recent journal is on the Trinity, and it comes down hard in favor or ESS.

  264. Ken F wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    Unfortunately, Ben, SBTS and SEBTS have been turning out mindless hyper-Calvinist zombies for quite some time now. Those zombies, with the aid of Mohler and friends, have gone to take over by force most of the SBC churches around those seminaries, including my former church.

    Founders ministry is teaching that all the original SBC churches were Calvinist: http://founders.org/2016/12/14/are-southern-baptists-cousins-to-the-anabaptists/.

    Founders seems to be getting an infusion of influence lately. They even re-vamped their website a few months ago. Instead of posting new material every few weeks, they are now posting new material every day or so. Their site has lots of good information to learn where they want to take the the SBC. Their most recent journal is on the Trinity, and it comes down hard in favor or ESS.

    For those of us that have been SBC for years–me–42 years–the SBC I loved is gone.

  265. Daisy wrote:

    From Christianity Today:

    “I get really tired of people who argue that complementarianism leads to abuse or subservience of women. It mischaracterizes the complementarian position,” said Mary Kassian, women’s studies professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Girls Gone Wise. “I’d urge complementarians to make sure they are balanced and they are upholding that women are co-heirs and co-laborers.”

    Ha! They don’t even do that for her.

  266. The manly menu tonight: St. Louis style ribs, steaks grilled on the barbie, huge baked potatoes, big loaves of sour dough bread, and a huge chocolate cake for supper. No veggies in sight, unless you count the loaded baked potato as a veggie.

  267. Daisy wrote:

    Obviously those 2, 3, or 4 clobber verses complementarians like to keep pointing to all the time must not mean what they think they mean, and/or those verses are not binding on all believers today, since applying them today the way complementarians want to do violates the nature and basis of what Christ taught and practiced.

    I totally agree!

  268. ishy wrote:

    Max wrote:

    Ishy, it continues to amaze me that millions of Southern Baptists are so willingly ignorant about Mohler’s influence on Calvinization of their denomination. I used to think they were just uninformed or misinformed, but that excuse is starting to wear thin as the word gets out about Mohler’s schemes. While the giant slept, he hand-picked reformed SBC entity leaders and indoctrinated an army of young, restless and reformed to pastor the next generation of Southern Baptists. He has proven to be a brilliant general on a battlefield in which the other side has barely fired a shot.

    You and me both.

    I remember how indignant people were at Southeastern about the changes, and about how none of the changes were made by people actually at or from Southeastern. Then longtime professors with a great diversity of backgrounds were laid off in favor of doctoral students who all went to Southern. They were a bunch of kids (younger than me at the time), and they had no qualifications other than being minions of Mohler.

    Now all the SBC churches around Wake Forest are Calvinista. People who graduate from Southeastern don’t seem to be able to think for themselves. I’m ashamed to have gone there.

    Dee and I are fully aware of this most unfortunate trend.

  269. Shauna posted on the Open Discussion thread that she does not have funds to provide a Christmas for her son Billy. (He is the minor who was abused by a church member and Dee covered the tragic story and how the church mishandled it.)

    https://www.gofundme.com/pxs5dk

    If anyone could help out, including for presents, give cards for places like WalMart, etc.
    they have some very tangible needs right now. Including the basics for living life.

    Thank you.

  270. Deb wrote:

    they had no qualifications other than being minions of …

    This is a historical “thing” – tactic(?). The brown shirts of Hitler, the Cultural Revolution of Mao, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. A Cult of Personality Leader reaches past peers, the educated, the experienced, to naive youth to form an alliance and get things done – the Dear Leader’s way.

    This strategy should always be suspect, with a light to expose the tactic, the camouflage.

  271. Christiane wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    there are single adults with no living family, and fellow church goers may be the only “family” they have, so if church is cancelled, they spend Xmas Day all alone.
    that is one good reason to have a service

    Nope. Singles spend Christmas alone because “church people” are not practicing what they preach and teach. My family has pretty much an open house policy at Christmas time – Don’t have anything else to do? Come on over. We’ll set you a plate and save you a place. You will eat with family!

  272. zooey111 wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    I honestly suspect that what lies at the heart of the men who run this church is not merely patriarchy.
    It’s sadism and misogyny (hatred of women, not just mere dislike or thinking men are better than women).
    Some of the men at this church hate women (though they will no doubt deny that and proclaim deep respect for women), and I believe they enjoy seeing women suffer.
    Daisy, I think you’ve nailed it! This is the sick root of patriarchy.

    True.
    Raise self up by putting down women.

  273. siteseer wrote:

    I just wish that women could step back and view the whole story of the Bible. A few verses are being used to weave an entire doctrine that actually goes against the overarching message of scripture.

    I just wish neoCal preachers would do that! New Calvinist belief and practice are based on cherry-picking verses and text out of context to support reformed theology. The whole of Scripture does not support their views on several fronts.

  274. I am appalled at this as a woman, as a former wife in a toxic marriage, as a Christian, and as someone with both a heart and a brain. The dissolution of this abusive marriage is long overdue, and the use of scripture by her spiritual leaders to try to coerce this woman back to an unhealthy situation is either high-level manipulation and gas lighting or just plain ignorance. This has got to stop.

  275. Nancy2 wrote:

    Come on over. We’ll set you a plate and save you a place. You will eat with family!

    Now THAT’s ‘Christmas’ 🙂

  276. Max wrote:

    siteseer wrote:

    I just wish that women could step back and view the whole story of the Bible. A few verses are being used to weave an entire doctrine that actually goes against the overarching message of scripture.

    I just wish neoCal preachers would do that! New Calvinist belief and practice are based on cherry-picking verses and text out of context to support reformed theology. The whole of Scripture does not support their views on several fronts.

    And all the hullabaloo over innerancy for the many years–know that they are in charge they twist the scriptures in ways only Satan could have come up with.

  277. Ken F wrote:

    Founders seems to be getting an infusion of influence lately.

    Until recent years, SBC’s Founders group of old guard Calvinists operated under the radar. They were conducting a “Quiet Revolution” (they actually called it that) behind the scenes by influencing folks like Al Mohler and Russell Moore. Then along came the in-your-face New Calvinists – which are anything but quiet! The neoCals are accomplishing what the old guys couldn’t do … Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America! But, I suppose the principal architects of the rebellion were the Founders … the old boys just needed the aggressiveness and militancy of their neo-brethren to pull it off. Someone will write a book about this mess some day, detailing the darkness which put the SBC candle under a bushel.

  278. mot wrote:

    all the hullabaloo over innerancy for the many years

    Inerrancy to a New Calvinist simply means that they believe their interpretation of Scripture is inerrant.

  279. Max wrote:

    mot wrote:
    all the hullabaloo over innerancy for the many years
    Inerrancy to a New Calvinist simply means that they believe their interpretation of Scripture is inerrant.

    It actually means more than that and it’s much worse.

    The men behind the Chicago Statement/Inerrancy of Scripture believe that the U.S. government should be overthrown, that our government and society should function based on the Patriarchial system in the Old Testament, that ten local Christian men should take over local governments, states, and the nation from there. The group believes in slavery and specifically that “non-Christians” should be “enslaved”, which to my understanding means anyone not in lock step with their crazy beliefs. The group also denies that the Holocaust took place in World War II and they hate Jews.

    The Inerrancy of Scripture/Chicago Statement was just their ploy, in my opinion, to get approval for their whacko ideas.

    No thanks. I reject the Chicago Statement and the Inerrancy of Scripture, because the men behind it are PURE evil.

  280. Velour wrote:

    No thanks. I reject the Chicago Statement and the Inerrancy of Scripture, because the men behind it are PURE evil

    Velour that is so true and these men are in charge on so many church institutions and no one dares to question them, because they see what has happened to the others that dared to question anything.

  281. Nancy2 wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    Daisy wrote:
    there are single adults with no living family, and fellow church goers may be the only “family” they have, so if church is cancelled, they spend Xmas Day all alone.
    that is one good reason to have a service
    Nope. Singles spend Christmas alone because “church people” are not practicing what they preach and teach. My family has pretty much an open house policy at Christmas time – Don’t have anything else to do? Come on over. We’ll set you a plate and save you a place. You will eat with family!

    I get my kids Christmas Day at noon. My church will have a Christmas evening service…on Friday the 23rd. I’ll probably go, but I will spend Christmas Eve alone. Like she said.

  282. Velour wrote:

    No thanks. I reject the Chicago Statement and the Inerrancy of Scripture, because the men behind it are PURE evil.

    It is very hard to get the pure version of anything but then even highly diluted poison can kill you.

  283. Velour wrote:

    The men behind the Chicago Statement/Inerrancy of Scripture believe that …

    Whew! Do you have an article or link you could refer me to detailing all those beliefs?

  284. Max wrote:

    Velour wrote:
    The men behind the Chicago Statement/Inerrancy of Scripture believe that …
    Whew! Do you have an article or link you could refer me to detailing all those beliefs?

    Hi Max,

    I didn’t save the links. Months ago when the discussion came up here about the Chicago Statement (perhaps it was Gram3, Lydia, and a few others who knew its history) I researched the “Chicago Statement”. That took me to the men behind its formation. And what an evil, sick, twisted group of men and beliefs I found.

    It’s easy to find. Just re-trace my steps in your research.

  285. @ Velour:
    OK. Thanks Velour, I’ll do a little digging. There are so many disturbing things going on in the American church these days, nothing would surprise me anymore. Some of the folks claiming to be champions of orthodoxy are turning out to be some of the most unorthodox out there.

  286. If this article is any indication, the connection between inerrantism and those types of political ideologies goes all the way back to the 1800s when that particular doctrine and approach to Scripture first began to materialize.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2016/11/09/white-evangelicalism-is-white-nationalism/

    “Biblianity” does often seem to be a way to sideline Jesus Christ and the gospels, particularly when moral/conscience issues are involved. Slavery is one; the death penalty is another. The USA has acquired a reputation as the death penalty capital of the First World, and part of the reason for that is that USA-style biblicists were more likely to support the death penalty on theological grounds than Christians elsewhere would be.

  287. Max wrote:

    Some of the folks claiming to be champions of orthodoxy are turning out to be some of the most unorthodox out there.

    Max: Was the concern about liberalism and inerrancy just a ruse to takeover the SBC?

  288. Marie Notcheva wrote:

    I get my kids Christmas Day at noon. My church will have a Christmas evening service…on Friday the 23rd. I’ll probably go, but I will spend Christmas Eve alone. Like she said.

    I’m sorry. It’s really a shame that there isn’t a family near you that will think to include you.

  289. JYJames wrote:

    True.
    Raise self up by putting down women.

    The Zero Sum Game, where the only way for Me to Win is to Make You Lose.
    Where the only way to climb to the top is to crush everyone else down.

  290. Nancy2 wrote:

    Nope. Singles spend Christmas alone because “church people” are not practicing what they preach and teach.

    Singles spend Christmas alone because Church People are too busy Focusing on their Families.

  291. Mara wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    I really think a few men created their theology to cater to their selfish desires

    Mark Driscoll, anyone?
    And his entire teaching on The Song of Solomon?

    Which is why he will forever be known as “Deep Throat” Driscoll.

    Yet another peek into a ManaGAWD’s sexual fantasies.

  292. Harley wrote:

    The manly menu tonight: St. Louis style ribs, steaks grilled on the barbie, huge baked potatoes, big loaves of sour dough bread, and a huge chocolate cake for supper. No veggies in sight, unless you count the loaded baked potato as a veggie.

    Sounds like that Manly Man at my shop back around 1980. Broke three chairs just by sitting in them (heard the complaints from building maintenance) and claimed that his refrigerator at home contained only inch-thick steaks and beer. Guy was a cartoon of himself.

  293. mot wrote:

    Max: Was the concern about liberalism and inerrancy just a ruse to takeover the SBC?

    There were leaders in the Conservative Resurgence who were genuinely concerned about the liberal drift at certain seminaries and churches. At the time, our pastor was attending SBC’s Midwestern seminary pursuing a doctorate – he would come back with reports of teachings by liberal professors, like explaining away the miracles of Christ. But embedded in the Conservative Resurgence leadership were stealth Calvinists who had another plan in mind … they saw the opportunity to expand the movement to a Calvinist Resurgence!

  294. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes & mirele wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians say that ALL we deserve is hell. From whence did this strange view originate? When I hear it now, I want to cringe.
    Yeah, when I hear that, all I can think is, “Does God really hate me and he is only grudgingly saving me because I jumped through the ‘belief’ hoop?” I don’t know that I want to spend eternity with someone who only grudgingly likes me because of Jesus.

    One of the struggles I often have is that I know God loves me, but I’m not so sure if he likes me.

  295. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    A few weeks ago here, there was a bit of discussion about a claim attributed to Elizabeth Elliot which went something like:

    If God’s called me to be a doormat, I’ll be the best doormat I can be.

    I heard Elizabeth Elliot speak a few times, and she was no doormat. She spoke about the godliness of wifely submission, but I got the impression that she wore the pants in the family—while insisting that her husband was the leader.

  296. I am from a seeker sensitive church and I had been talking for a while with a friend from a neo-Calvinist church. Finally after everything and much consideration, I managed to break it all down:

    Neo-Calvinists wants to GLORIFY God and is worried about dishonoring God. So their #1 worry is about people teaching FALSEHOOD.

    Seeker sensitive church wants to LOVE God & neighbors and is worried about people LOSING that FIRST LOVE. So their #1 worry is that love disappearing.

    That is the core of all the problems for neo-Calvinists right there: GLORIFYING vs LOVING.

    What does it even mean to GLORIFY God? Is it to live a sinless life? Is it can to excommunicate people because they own certain DVDs? Is it even to BURNING heretics on the stake??!! One can argue all of the above glorifies God.

    Neo-calvinists, if given power and influence, sounds just like the people who would burn heretics and witches on the stake. Just look at how they treat wives who were abused by their husbands. In their twist theology they “thought” they are glorifying God. But in reality they are taking God’s name in vain and hurting many people.

    Seeker sensitive churches might not teach all truth. I mean come on NO CHURCH teaches all 100% truth. But I am so glad to be in a church where LOVE is at the front and center of all things. At least we know our focus is the Greatest Commandant and the Great Commission.

    Neo-Calvinists can say we Seeker Sensitive teaches falsehood all they want. They can say we “skip” talking about hell (we don’t actually skip it) all they want. They can say we “water down” (we don’t) the Gospel all they want. They can say we are not even real Christians (LOL!) all they want. But I couldn’t care less. Because time and time again I see their love DISAPPEARING! Their love is not universal, but SELECTIVE. They love some but hate others. For example loving the abusive husband and hating the abused wive victim. When their love disappear so often, I will argue that they DO NOT even have the Holy Spirit inside them. They are indeed getting badly led astray by Satan.

  297. brian wrote:

    I mean Dave Hunt was not a historian or a theologian. He was an accountant, I actually liked Dave Hunt the person. Some actually saw Jack as a real hero, they hold to many reformed views of the atonement and the state of man but “Calvinism” gives them the willies.

    Dave Hunt’s book on Calvinism is very good, but I would be careful. Whilst he disagrees with Jay Adams on Calvinism, he agrees with his anti-psychology views. His book “The Seduction of Christianity” goes along the same lines as Adams – especially on self-esteem. I was not impressed when he belittled the victims of school bullying with this simplistic nonsense: “we commend them to God and his grace” (whatever that means). After saying that without any elaboration, he moved subject. His method, like most fundamentalists, is to quote a proof-text without any thought for the practical and emotional implications.

  298. Pingback: A Letter from My Father – marie_notcheva.com UNITED STATES

  299. Dave A A wrote:

    “They’re doing “Matthew 18” on the wrong spouse.”
    Sigh— Matthew 18 being “done” on even the right spouse by church leaders is— positively Unbibical and Ungospelly. But of course they “done” it to the wrong spouse because– the wrong spouse always seems unforgiving and “bitter” one while the right spouse seems penitent and cooperative.

  300. I don't get you guys! Matthew 18 is forgiveness. Nothing about staying in abusive marriage. I think you are misunderstanding and hearing one side of the story. The pastors can't defend themselves due to confidential aspects of counseling. I saw no emails as evidence.

  301. @ Tina:
    We do deserve hell for we are all sinners but thank God we have a loving father that sent His Son to save us from our sins. All we have to do is ask. God doesn’t hate us or He would not have given up His ONLY SON! Have you ever loved anyone enough to offer your son for death so save an undeserving person. I think not!

  302. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Consider:
     0401 represents April 1st in American date format
     If you click the link supposedly to a comment by Tina in our chatbot friend’s post, it doesn’t take you to a comment – it takes you to the TWW WordPress login screen.

    Quite apart from the semantically disjointed sentences, the second apple-point alone looks suspicious to me.

  303. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    @ Lea:
    I think our new friend is actually a computer. We haven’t had one of these for a while!

    You’re referring to the Call a Ginger incident?

  304. ZechZav wrote:

    “we commend them to God and his grace” (whatever that means).

    It means Christianese Buzzword Bingo.

    After saying that without any elaboration, he moved subject. His method, like most fundamentalists, is to quote a proof-text without any thought for the practical and emotional implications.

    “I know I’m right,
    I have a Verse!”

  305. Skebo0401 wrote:

    I don’t get you guys! Matthew 18 is forgiveness. Nothing about staying in abusive marriage. I think you are misunderstanding and hearing one side of the story. The pastors can’t defend themselves due to confidential aspects of counseling. I saw no emails as evidence.

    I have 28 pages of e-mails (including the 4 posted here) as evidence; and no, neither of them counseled me. If you’d like the documentation, please contact me privately through the contact info listed on my blog.

  306. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    I like British and Scottish people. You’re all so intelligent and insanely polite. Thank you.

    Cheers from this side of the pond with a stiff upper lip,

    The Honourable Lady (albeit the plonkers at HBC won’t admit it)

  307. Marie,
    You are a very brave lady. My prayers are with you. Thank you for helping to expose the lies and limited thinking that surrounds abuse and false application of counseling in many churches.
    My wife was emotionally abused in a previous marriage. Healing does happen in a positive and nurturing environment.
    After hearing her story of abuse and doing a few years of research on the subject of violence toward women, we decided to teach some self defense classes for women and teenaged girls. My wife eventually earned a black belt in six styles of martial arts. She looks for opportunities to encourage women to recognize and escape abusive men. @ Marie Notcheva: