Barnabas Piper Pushes Back at John Piper on Divorce and Pastor David Derksen Writes a Grace Filled Book on Divorce and Infidelity

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-39 NIV


Amazon link

From time to time, I will recommend a book to our readers. Let me remind you of the TWW policy. I do not accept any monetary compensation for recommending a book. I do not take Amazon reimbursement for linking to a book which is then purchased. I recommend a book solely for the value of the information contained in the book.

Pastor David Derksen has been commenting at our blog for years. I have always appreciated his comments, especially since he demonstrated grace to those who have been through a divorce. He has mentioned his story through the years and I’m going to let him present his book to our readers.

I have become increasingly concerned about the punitive rhetoric coming from a number of pastors, both Arminians and Calvinists. However, the worst example of unbiblical analysis of divorce comes from John Piper who does not believe in divorce for any reason. Yes, that means for abuse as well as adultery. He believes a couple can live apart so that the abused partner is physically safe. However, even if divorce were to occur, he does not believe that either couple can remarry. They must constantly try for reconciliation. This is a dangerous advice for those who have been abused.

In 2009, Piper wrote Does the Bible Allow for Divorce In the Case of Adultery? The short answer is “No.” I was shocked by his interpretation back then and have no reason to believe he has changed his mind. His own son, Barnabas has divorced. Some say it was his wife’s fault. I will be interested in watching this since it would seem that Piper might be leaning on his son to *do the right thing.* This is discussed in Barnabas Piper on Divorce—The Scarlet Letter of the Evangelical World.

While Piper never directly says it, over the interview it becomes clear that at some point in Piper’s marriage his wife stopped considering herself a Christian. For a significant amount of time Piper and his wife attempted to keep the marriage together, until eventually Piper’s wife announced she was done and wanted a divorce. The question for Piper then became what God would want for his life moving forward, and how he’s dealing with having a different opinion on that then many in the church have … including his dad.

My dad believes I should be in the persistent pursuit of a marriage that no longer is in existence. He believes I should only get remarried if my ex-wife does or if she passes away. If the possibility of reconciliation still exists, he believes that should be the aim of my prayers. And that is a sticking point for us.”

In many traditional, evangelical church cultures remarrying after a divorce—no matter what the reason—disqualifies them from leadership in the church. Other churches largely ignore divorce, not talking about it and minimizing its seriousness. In the podcast, Piper seems stuck in between, attempting to find a third way. While Piper clearly fought for his marriage up until the point his wife requested a divorce, he also now feels free to move on. He specifically states it can be harmful for a Christian who has been divorced to actively pursue reconciliation with someone who has chosen to leave.

Barnabas Piper is right. Divorce is the scarlet letter in the evangelical world and his father has contributed to this distressing situation. So I’m thankful for Pastor David and the work and love he has put into his book. I’ll let him introduce himself and his book.


Before talking about my latest book, I want to introduce myself. Some of you already know me and have been visiting my blog–divorceminister.com–for some years as I have guest posted on TWW before (more on that below).

My name is Pastor David–aka Divorce Minister.

To begin, I am an ordained minister and endorsed by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for chaplain ministry. My Master of Divinity was completed at Yale Divinity School. I completed five units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)  including a year-long chaplain residency serving Veterans in my home state of Minnesota. Also, I am a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) with the Association of Professional Chaplains (via BCCI) meaning I have specialized training in pastoral care and have met the gold standards for professional chaplaincy. For those unfamiliar with what a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) is, this process to becoming a BCC is much like other professional fields–e.g. medical doctors–becoming board certified in a specialization. That’s my training and credentials.

Why I feel strongly about the subject of marital infidelity and the need for sound pastoral care on this matter ties back to my personal experience with an unfaithful (ex) wife.

You see, my first marriage ended with the discovery of adultery and a divorce. Then I had the “delightful” experience of dealing with “Christian” unbiblical divorce prejudice as I underwent an ecclesiastical trial to retain my ministerial credentials required solely because I was divorced.

I succeeded in retaining my credentials as the ministerial board decided my divorce was allowable based on their assessment that my ex-wife had committed adultery. The whole experience taught me that the Church–especially the evangelical one–is ill-equipped theologically and pastorally to deal with these situations. I interacted with pastors my parents’ age through this experience who were painfully clueless about these matters. Spiritual abuse is too common.

So, in July 2014, I started the blog–divorceminister.com. Early on, Dee was kind enough to let me post here on TWW on my disagreement with John Piper as it comes to divorce following adultery. In short, he does not allow it. I think his view is rigid, unbiblical, and cruel.

This book is the fruit of years of blogging and is another venue to fight the rampant spiritual abuse on this subject matter.

1. Why I wrote Cheated On: The Divorce Minister Guide for Surviving Infidelity and Keeping Your Faith—

The short answer to the question as to why I wrote this book is I felt called by God to do so. My training and life experiences uniquely equipped me to say some important things on these matters. I knew faithful spouses–i.e. those who did not cheat on their spouse–need to hear these things from a pastorwho can relate to their trauma.

I am rather divorce-positive in this book. This isn’t your typical evangelical pastor’s book on adultery and divorce. You see, I am attempting to remind people that divorce was EXPECTED in cases of adultery in Jesus’ day–not merely tolerated as a moral failure on the victim’s part. (Buy the book to see how I lay out this case, with Scripture.) Yes, I am very much NOT in John Piper’s camp on this matter!

In general, I wished I had had a pastor tell me the things I share in the book as I went through my own traumatic experience.

It would have equipped me to fight back at the spiritually abusive experiences I had. The fog of infidelity discovery makes one less able to fight off such half-truths–aka lies—used to manipulate the faithful spouse into behaving in ways some pastors and Christians expect faithful spouses to behave.

This book is my way to act as a pastoral champion for the spouses who have discovered their partner is a cheater.

Too often, we are not seen, or we are seen then abused spiritually. I am trying to change that with this book.

Plus, I wrote this book to help equip those who genuinely care and just need some help understanding the dynamics faithful spouses are experiencing. Not everyone sets out to hurt faithful spouses. Some of just genuinely ignorant, yet they are teachable. In fact, I would have been in this camp prior to my experiences. This book is practical theology for them, too.

2. Why Cheated On is needed—

Even the “best” Christian resources for faithful spouses fail them to varying degrees. The worse resources blame and shame faithful spouses for the adultery and/or divorce. The less problematic ones teach harmful things about forgiveness and what God allegedly expects from faithful spouses.

The common “Christian” advice is not just bad.It is damaging.

Faithful spouses are left thinking that God is more angry with them for “not forgiving” than their unrepentant spouse for lying, stealing, and committing adultery against them. Something is really amiss in the church if that is what is conveyed. It is a damnable lie about God.

Many Christians do not understand a basic spiritual truth about adultery. It is soul rape (see I Corinthians 6:16-17). The cheater inserted a third party into the oneness of the marriage union against the explicit will of the faithful spouse spoken when taking the marriage vows (Buy the book to see how I develop this idea more).

I believe much of the bad pastoral advice over adultery might be avoided if pastors and other Christians grasped that this is a soul trauma of that magnitude–soul rape. It isn’t hyperbole but spiritual truth. Only a cruel and callous person would blame a rape victim for their victimization. The same applies here for soul rape victims.

This brings me to my next point for why the book is needed. Many so-called Christian resources on these matters teach some version of what I call “The Shared Responsibility Lie.

This lie says the faithful spouse is–at least, in part–responsible for actions done by their cheater. It is a lie as Scripture is crystal clear that we are responsible or answerable for our actions alone before God (see 2 Corinthians 5:10)
.
Besides dealing with this lie, my book spends three chapters tackling the three most abused texts weaponized against faithful spouses. These include the infamous “[God] hate[s] divorce” (Malachi 2:16) verse, the book of Hosea, and Ephesians 5:21ff.

Finally, many resources do not distinguish between victim and perpetrator. They simply teach principles for all going through divorce or dealing with marital infidelity. This is not one of those pastoral books. A victim needs a champion; a perpetrator needs a kick in the pants towards repentance. They are very different pastoral approaches needed. This book is hard on cheaters and gentle with faithful spouses with its strong opposition to their further abuse.

3. How TWW readers can support the book’s messages—

My family and I have invested hundreds of dollars and countless hours in creating this book to help Christ’s body. As quoted at the beginning (Matthew 9:35-36), I love the harassed sheep and am thankful Jesus came for me when I was under great duress myself.

The Good News I share is a good news that literally saved my life. I am here today because I serve a God who was with me in my pain and loved me enough to be angry with my abusers. This book is my way of extending those life-giving messages for many more who need to know God is angry with their abuser(s) and does not blame them for divorcing their cheater.

If you think this message is worth spreading, you can help by buying the book and sharing it with others.
Give one to your pastor. Share another with a Christian counselor you know. Write a review on Amazon for the book so that it rises in its rankings.

The world–sadly, the church, too–will not pay attention to this message unless it is demonstrated that people care about its messages enough to buy it (and review it).

By purchasing the book and sharing its messages, you have the power to let the world know that the status quo on how faithful spouses are treated in the church is about to undergo a reformation by loving, god-fearing people in the pews!


Comments

Barnabas Piper Pushes Back at John Piper on Divorce and Pastor David Derksen Writes a Grace Filled Book on Divorce and Infidelity — 127 Comments

  1. Looking forward to reading this! I am so sorry that you had to go through these experiences but thank you that you are helping others avoid similar spiritual abuse. Thankful that you heard Gods true loving character and could fight back!

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  2. I remained single long enough to encounter more divorced men (and widowers) than the never-married ones. The “shared responsibility lie” wounds the betrayed ex-spouse, and also labels him or her. It might be more compassionate, and useful, to figure out whether the other person has come to terms with the pain of the divorce. This starts with kindly listening and observing. Later on it can turn into a conversation.

    Of course, single and widowed people also have things to come to terms with. I’m sure some divorced men were suspicious about why I had never married. A 35-year-old single guy in my social circle used to tell women, “I’m not divorced, but there’s nothing wrong with me.”

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  3. I have been following Divorce Minister online since it started and finished “Cheated On” a few days ago. I join with others saying, “I wish I had this book when I was going through divorce!” All I got was miserable advice to read the story of Hosea & Gomer. What a misapplication of scripture! DM covers this gem in his book. Most valuable is his discussion of “The Lie of Shared Responsibility”. This is worth the price of the book by itself. If you or someone you know has experienced adultery in marriage please pick-up this book. Your future you will thank you.

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  4. Thank you, Dee! Thank you, Loren! I am so grateful to have brothers and sisters around the globe who I count so especially close even though we have never met in person. It is places like TWW that make me proud to be a follower of Christ and part of His Body.

    I hope through my own little part in writing the book others will be able to experience Jesus in fresh and healing ways apart from the religious shaming and blaming that is too typical in situations of abuse, adultery, abandonment, and divorce.

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  5. When Christ’s religion becomes a credentialed profession and not the result of a Holy Spirit lead divine calling, the intended scriptural purpose and result for Jesus’ believers is summarily corrupted. Of a truth, Jesus, God’s Son, will never call anyone contrary to His established word.

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  6. I appreciate what you’ve worked on and look forward to reading your book.

    Just a side note: Your name is David, not Pastor David.

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  7. “I serve a God who was with me in my pain and loved me enough to be angry with my abusers.” – DM

    This is beautiful truth all abused spouses need to hear. Make no mistake about it, infidelity ALWAYS involves abuse of some kind as well (financial, spiritual, emotional, sometimes physical).

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  8. Here’s a helpful link on Jesus’ teaching on remarriage being adultery is likely hyperbole, which Craig describes as “rhetorical overstatement, a graphic way of making your point, but not meant to be taken legally, literally.” Very helpful!! https://youtu.be/837o4On3g24

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  9. Divorce Minister. Where does the Bible draw the line in defining adultery? Is vaginal sex a requirement? If not, what is /are the essential conduct in order to be labeled “adultery” in a biblical sense?

    Often the term is used in a variety of situations.

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  10. From the OP:

    it becomes clear that at some point in Piper’s marriage his wife stopped considering herself a Christian.

    I do not wish to cast aspersions on Barnabas or his ex-wife, but I cannot help but wonder if John Piper’s theology helped contribute to the ex-wife’s belief that she was not a Christian. I remember questioning my salvation after spending a lot of time reading Jonathan Edwards, and that is where JP derives much of his theology. Thankfully, I moved on – faith intact.

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  11. IIRC the (in)famous Harold Camping (he of the 1994 and 2011 “Jesus is returning” predictions) was arguing along these lines, that biblical religion forbids divorce on any grounds, before Piper was. The argument, as I recall it was, was sort of mashup of bits of Paul (marriage thought of as primarily a representation of Christ’s love for the Church) and bits of the OT (Hosea and other texts that liken YHWH/Israel to husband/wife). One has to “stick it out” in order to avoid conveying a false impression about God’s faithfulness to His
    People.

    The argument is kind of inconsistently applied, though. What kind of impression does pastoral abuse of flock convey about God’s character? As the OP says, it seems that divorce is one of the few things that is actually taken seriously, and then in ways that conflict with what seem to be pretty explicit texts on the subject.

    I suspect that an unarticulated but significant element of the complementarian agenda to recover the idyllic old world of “stay at home” wives is to return to the era of economic dependency that kept many women in bad marriages. That’s so much easier than people being changed into the likeness of Jesus and loving one another as He loved.

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  12. While Piper never directly says it, over the interview it becomes clear that at some point in Piper’s marriage his wife stopped considering herself a Christian.

    Sigh. I don’t know if this is true or not. However, the emphasis of these types of churches in prying into people’s married lives encourages trash talking of the spouse for the purposes of excusing your own divorce. Or it encourages publications like this to try to read through the lines to find a way to make the divorce ‘ok’ by ‘christian’ standards. I really don’t like that. Especially since we aren’t getting the wife’s side as far as I can see.

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  13. Friend: I’m sure some divorced men were suspicious about why I had never married.

    I used to get asked this question pretty frequently and it’s always weird to answer. ‘Why don’t you have kids’, is also awkward to answer, aside from saying I just don’t.

    I’m a bit like you in that I’ve been dating in the ‘divorced dad’ age range (as I like to call it). I definitely don’t automatically blame the guys for their divorce. You have to take everyone on a case by case basis, imo.

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  14. Burwell: I cannot help but wonder if John Piper’s theology helped contribute to the ex-wife’s belief that she was not a Christian.

    I wondered the same.

    I also wondered if it’s more her drifting away from this heavy comp type faith for a while and rethinking some things that is being interpreted as ‘not a christian’ for the purposes of checking all the bible boxes for remarriage in some people’s eyes…If I were married to someone who tried to treat me like a second hand citizen because ‘god said so’ I might be inclined to make some flippant remarks about not being interested in that sort of god.

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  15. http://fundys.blogspot.com/2008/01/james-dobson-is-quart-low-on-grace.html

    “In the 70’s Joyce Landorf was was the female version of James Dobson. She was a best selling author of Christian Living books and her publisher was the same as Dobson’s…she went through a divorce, and…her so called ‘friends’ like James Dobson could not wait to throw her under the train…during the time she was going through the divorce, her good friend James Dobson went to their book publisher and gave Word Books the ultimatum to drop her as an author or he would take his highly profitable books to another publisher.”

    Of course, later when Dobson’s own son divorced it was a different story.

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  16. Lea: Burwell: I cannot help but wonder if John Piper’s theology helped contribute to the ex-wife’s belief that she was not a Christian.

    I wondered the same.

    I also wondered if it’s more her drifting away from this heavy comp type faith for a while and rethinking some things that is being interpreted as ‘not a christian’ for the purposes of checking all the bible boxes for remarriage in some people’s eyes…If I were married to someone who tried to treat me like a second hand citizen because ‘god said so’ I might be inclined to make some flippant remarks about not bticeing interested in that sort of god.

    Precisely. That is exactly what happens in the legalistic, fundagelical world. To question male authority makes you ‘un-christian’, in rebellion against your ‘God-given authorities’. To question pastoral authority makes you in rebellion. To question comp male authority makes you in rebellion. To question an elder decision makes you in rebellion. See any patterns?

    Here’s a hint: Truth does not require brute force (authority) to persuade. If your pastor is laying down his life to minister to the homebound, visit the sick, provide assistance to the needy, etc., people will voluntarily follow and assist him. If a husband is humbly loving and affirming his wife, he will never even think of pulling the ‘authority’ card to get his way, er, serve her in sacrificial love.

    Genuine authorities exist to rein in evildoers. Hence, those who desire to position themselves as ‘authorities’ must first position others as ‘evildoers’. Abusive secular authorities will first produce unnecessary and burdensome ‘laws’. Abusive religious authorities do the same. They distort the message that we no longer function under the burdensome ‘Law’. They ignore the gospel message that our Savior has already come, already done away with the transgression and penalty of sin and removed the necessity for ‘law and order’ rule by providing his Spirit to indwell true believers.

    The good shepherd will not beat his flock over the head with his staff (rules), but will be willingly followed to good pastures, protecting and serving along the way. The false shepherds will lead to false pastures, beating the flock with their weighty staffs (rules), all the while gorging themselves on the sheep.

    Who thinks for a second that these celebrity pastors with their mansions, built on the backs of their members’ labor, are good shepherds, sacrificially serving their flocks? Why do the people ‘flock’ to them, worship them, give their hard-earned money to them? It is nearly all accomplished by persuasive, mind-controlling rhetoric, after being emotionally manipulated with ‘worship’ music. What will it take to wake people up, or do we simply assume they are not real followers but simply in it for the ear tickling? But I suspect that many are simply naive and brainwashed.

    I recall when a dear niece and her husband became christians, and she would frequently reach out to me, knowing I was a lifelong believer. I was stunned by the faulty theology in the books they studied, and the emotional manipulation to follow the latest christian fad, be it mission trips or foreign adoption. Adoption is a life-changing event for all involved – you don’t just rush into it because it’s all the rage. It was all so cultlike, and these ‘kids’, who had not been raised in churches, were sincere and easy prey for manipulation. They just wanted to ‘do’ Jesus.

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  17. Complementarianism had two founding mothers: Dorothy Patterson and Susan Foh. Both are apparently now estranged from the organization:

    https://cbmw.org/about/history/

    “CBMW has been in operation since 1987, when a meeting in Dallas, Texas, brought together a number of evangelical leaders and scholars, including John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Wayne House, DOROTHY PATTERSON, James Borland, SUSAN FOH, and Ken Sarles. These figures were concerned by the spread of unbiblical teaching. Under Piper’s leadership, the group drafted a statement outlining what would become the definitive theological articulation of ‘complementarianism'”

    [Dorothy Patterson abruptly resigned from the CBMW council several months ago, but Susan Foh was dropped by the movement years ago after a divorce. Foh is still occasionally cited by some unwitting Complementarianist partisans for her 1970s ‘groundbreaking’ scholarship at Westminster Seminary on Genesis 3:16, but she’s been disappeared/persona non grata for decades now.]

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  18. Jerome:
    [Dorothy Patterson abruptly resigned from the CBMW council several months ago,

    CBMW is all New Cals now, the group that threw Paige Patterson under the bus at SWBTS.

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  19. Lea,

    “I also wondered if it’s more her drifting away from this heavy comp type faith for a while and rethinking some things that is being interpreted as ‘not a christian’ for the purposes of checking all the bible boxes for remarriage in some people’s eyes…If I were married to someone who tried to treat me like a second hand citizen because ‘god said so’ I might be inclined to make some flippant remarks about not being interested in that sort of god.”
    +++++++++++

    so, controlling the narrative to paint her as “the unbelieving partner who separates” to make Barnabas Piper’s divorce biblical

    for the sake of the Piper brand name. to protect Barnabas’ career as he exercises freedom to pursue a relationship with someone else.

    if true, to any degree, it’s sick.

    i have a feeling Barnabas’ commentary on his divorce is the product of a PR group effort. it’s just too… manufactured-sounding to me.

    by the way, his blog post “When A Marriage Dies” (where he breaks the news of his divorce) no longer exists.

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  20. TS00: Precisely. That is exactly what happens in the legalistic, fundagelical world. To question male authority makes you ‘un-christian’, in rebellion against your ‘God-given authorities’. To question pastoral authority makes you in rebellion. To question comp male authority makes you in rebellion. To question an elder decision makes you in rebellion. See any patterns?

    I bless Providence for rebellion.
    Without which we wouldn’t have a Bill of Rights and the liberty we enjoy today.

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  21. “While Piper never directly says it, over the interview it becomes clear that at some point in Piper’s marriage his wife stopped considering herself a Christian.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    no longer a christian according to what criteria?

    christian culture has gone berzerk.

    my faith is viewed by many as suspect if not illegitimate because of how i vote, my views on marriage, and because i’m not sitting in a pew on Sundays.

    if you could the teary-eyed grave concern on the faces of some. they seem to believe my name has been erased from the lambs book of life.

    even 10, 20 years ago it wasn’t like this.

    i think they’ve been brainwashed. the john piper / The Gospel Coalition group has propagandized their carefully crafted message redefining “christian” in extremely narrow terms.

    how dare they.

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  22. elastigirl,

    This is could with the dangerous belief that they as “Christian leaders”can decide who is a Christian and who is not. If you don’t want to be a Christian their way, they just excommunicate you from all of Christianity because they think they are God.

    Didn’t JPipes excommunicate his other son?

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  23. Maria,

    Thanks for the you tube link.
    Keener gives a good talk on the subject, and yes hyperbole does play into it.

    There’s a reason why The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (Article 13) disavows hyperbole as a valid literary device in Scripture, because without this sub-clause, strident fundagelicalism as a vehicle loses much of its traction.

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  24. Ishy: They definitely wouldn’t be preaching Neo-Calvinist theology without rebellion against the clergy.

    So long as they have cowed and docile pew serfs, inconvenient historical truths are not inconvenient.

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  25. Sòpwith: When Christ’s religion becomes a credentialed profession and not the result of a Holy Spirit lead divine calling

    I would gently suggest it’s not a simple either/or… and perhaps you agree.

    Have spent most of my life in churches with highly educated clergy who receive something deemed a living wage (usually enough to get by). Academically rigorous seminaries have plenty of students with a calling. Many will say that courses in systematic theology, Hebrew, and Greek challenged their faith and made it stronger.

    Sure, some folks grab a diploma and jump on the gravy train. And some proudly untrained volunteer clergy order parents to beat their children with wire hangers. Credentials and salary do not rule out a divine calling. Likewise, a lack of credentials and salary do not prove a calling.

    Christ’s love and mercy approach from many different directions. I’m fairly sure we agree on that part. 🙂

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  26. Muff Potter: disavows hyperbole as a valid literary device in Scripture

    Seriously, where would fundagelicals be without hyperbole? They’d have to stop sending the rest of us straight to H E Double Toothpicks! 😉

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  27. Muff Potter: There’s a reason why The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (Article 13) disavows hyperbole as a valid literary device in Scripture

    1. What is their position on puns?

    2. How many dudes in those circles are missing an eye?

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  28. “Soul rape”? For a website that seems to be concerned about how women are treated, to compare being cheated on as a form of rape seems pretty bizarre.

    Look, if you want to get divorced and then get remarried, just say so. To justify your position by acting as you are a victim of some type of rape, is putting you on very shaky ground.

    I have neither been cheated on nor raped. I am sure that both are horrible. But I think it cheapens actual rape (where someone physically violates you) when you compare being cheated on to being raped.

    I mean seriously… Can you imagine if a woman told me she had been raped and I said “I know what you mean…. same thing happened to my soul!”

    By the way, I am not a John Piper acolyte. I think he was some wacky ideas, so I am not defending his position on this.

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  29. I bet growing up in the Piper household was a lovely experience (not). As I recall, the Pied Piper even excommunicated one of his teenage sons (Abraham, I believe).

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  30. Max: I bet growing up in the Piper household was a lovely experience (not).

    “Those who are huge fans might be surprised to know that our family has a lot of tensions and quirks. We have dysfunction and conflict. We don’t always get along very well. It’s not the idyllic repository of peace and knowledge they might have painted a picture of in their heads.” (Barnabas Piper)

    https://religionnews.com/2014/07/01/john-pipers-son-discusses-dysfunction-conflict-upbringing/

    Well, John Piper’s “huge fans” might be surprised, but those of us who have been following the Pied Piper over the years are not shocked at all to hear that the man doesn’t walk the walk after talking the talk.

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  31. Muff Potter:
    Maria,

    There’s a reason why The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (Article 13) disavows hyperbole as a valid literary device in Scripture, because without this sub-clause, strident fundagelicalism as a vehicle loses much of its traction.

    Oh, so the Pharisees and teachers of the law literally swallowed camels… right? I’d buy a ticket to see that….

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  32. Max: not shocked

    It’s never a good idea to tell the world, I will demonstrate my God-ordained principles through the lifelong behavior of my children. (Not a real quote, just a mentality one sometimes sees.)

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  33. Friend,

    Most of those people still say that stuff after their kids have done terrible things or disavowed them or their faith. Just pretend it never happened and your gullible followers will, too.

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  34. drstevej:
    Divorce Minister. Where does the Bible draw the line in defining adultery? Is vaginal sex a requirement? If not, what is /are the essential conduct in order to be labeled “adultery” in a biblical sense?

    Often the term is used in a variety of situations.

    I’m not the Divorce Minister, but I’ll weigh in on this one….

    No less an authority than Jesus said if a man looks at a woman with lust, he has committed adultery in his heart. I will dare to extrapolate that if a woman looks at a man with lust she has also committed adultery. So it’s not the “technical” physical meeting of body parts that defines adultery in God’s eyes. It starts with the heart.

    My first husband had a emotional affair with “the girl that got away.” He told me he always knew she was “the one” (begging the question, why then did he marry ME??). Understanding what I do now, I believe I had full adultery grounds for divorcing him. At the time, however, I was not clear on that.

    What I did have then and now was the priesthood of all believers, in which all believers can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit just as well as anyone else. I never had the slightest doubt that God had released me from the marriage, despite the lack of “technical” adultery as defined by many, and despite my then-pastor summoning me to his office and decreeing my alleged wrongdoing. My husband had by then abandoned me, packed up and moved to another city, and clearly had no intention of coming back… plus he was already dating “the girl who got away,” which he conveniently neglected to confess to the pastor….

    A man lusting after a woman not his wife and thus committing adultery also happens when a man looks at pornography.

    Hopefully this helps clarify the adultery question a bit.

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  35. drstevej: Divorce Minister. Where does the Bible draw the line in defining adultery? Is vaginal sex a requirement? If not, what is /are the essential conduct in order to be labeled “adultery” in a biblical sense?

    Often the term is used in a variety of situations.

    I use the term to mean vaginal-penal sex as per the general definition in a dictionary. However, I don’t think the exception is limited to this form of sexual sin. Jesus talks about “porneia” as the word in Greek for a broad spectrum of sexual immorality that would include adultery as defined above.

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  36. Lea,

    I was declared an unbeliever by the pastor in my former church . Neither Jesus not I had been informed of my status change but that was how the pastor was able to enthusiastically support my ex (who was his BFF) in remarrying. You can malign and defame a woman and declare her an unbeliever so that the husband can tick the right box for re-marriage? Good grief!

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  37. JC,

    As a woman raped by her husband, just want you to know that it didn’t matter a whit to my home church. He is recorded admitting it, he got the support, I was shunned and sent a letter of reprimand. He then moved to the last church I was at with his new wife. They are aware of the rape and physical abuse of the children and I. It literally doesn’t matter to anyone. So I got raped, he got re-married and supported. Not sure I am getting your intended point. I was told by the pastor and elders I had no biblical grounds for divorce so that was the justification of the lies and smear campaign. Crazy making, heart wrenching stuff.

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  38. JC:
    “Soul rape”? For a website that seems to be concerned about how women are treated, to compare being cheated on as a form of rape seems pretty bizarre.

    Look, if you want to get divorced and then get remarried, just say so. To justify your position by acting as you are a victim of some type of rape, is putting you on very shaky ground.

    I have neither been cheated on nor raped. I am sure that both are horrible. But I think it cheapens actual rape (where someone physically violates you) when you compare being cheated on to being raped.

    I mean seriously… Can you imagine if a woman told me she had been raped and I said “I know what you mean…. same thing happened to my soul!”

    By the way, I am not a John Piper acolyte. I think he was some wacky ideas, so I amnot defending his position on this.

    Rest assured the grounds to divorce are well reasoned with biblical texts. Feel free to buy and read the book if you care to engage in thoughtful discussions of such matters.

    The term “soul rape” is a theological idea developed from I Corinthians 6. It is not just some random metaphor gleaned to justify a position and gain near-jerk sympathy as you seem to imply in your comment. I make an argument for why this term aptly captures the spiritual reality (and trauma) of adultery from my reading of the Bible.

    We may have difference in opinions as far as interpretation of said texts. However, I do not use the term “soul rape” to cheapen rape (by the way, men can be raped, too). It is a term I believe that captures a spiritual reality.

    Finally, you wrote, “I have neither been cheated on nor raped. I am sure that both are horrible. But…” The “but” negates all that follows before it. You are essentially telling infidelity survivors that “it’s not THAT bad!” That is insensitive and precisely why I felt I need to start my blog and write this book. People need to become better aware of how hurtful such “well-meaning” comments are.

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  39. Muff Potter,

    “There’s a reason why The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (Article 13) disavows hyperbole as a valid literary device in Scripture, because without this sub-clause, strident fundagelicalism as a vehicle loses much of its traction.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    ok. Then I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. (Galatians 5:12)

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  40. Jerome:
    http://fundys.blogspot.com/2008/01/james-dobson-is-quart-low-on-grace.html

    “In the 70’s Joyce Landorf was was the female version of James Dobson. She was a best selling author of Christian Living books and her publisher was the same as Dobson’s…she went through a divorce, and…her so called ‘friends’ like James Dobson could not wait to throw her under the train…during the time she was going through the divorce, her good friend James Dobson went to their book publisher and gave Word Books the ultimatum to drop her as an author or he would take his highly profitable books to another publisher.”

    Of course, later when Dobson’s own son divorced it was a different story.

    Dobson’s own son divorced? I did not know that piece of information. So did the mighty Dobson then turn around and blame the son’s wife for the divorce so his son remained purer than the whitest snow?

    I have witnessed this same phenomenon in every religious denomination under the sun…..condemn divorce until it occurs in thy own family, then mercy, grace and freedom in Christ is preached. People just cannot condemn the leadership’s families when divorce occurs for that is another “sin,” in and of itself!

    It’s a good thing Jesus is the only Master we should follow rather than the vain philosophies of unstable mankind.

    So the saying, “Do as we preach and not as we do” would be the hypocritical teachings of the visible church.

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  41. JC: Can you imagine if a woman told me she had been raped and I said “I know what you mean…. same thing happened to my soul!”

    Yes, these analogies make me uncomfortable too.

    ALso, MRAs frequently use ‘divorce raped’ to describe…IDK any division of mutual assets/child support/etc, which is disgusting to me.

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  42. Deborah,

    I am sorry that you went through that. I can relate a little bit to being mistreated by multiple churches because of a divorce & being sexually assaulted. Infidelity and divorce are indeed heart & gut wrenching experiences. I can only imagine what a rape must do to a person. I am truly sorry for the pain you carry.

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  43. StillWiggling: My first husband had a emotional affair with “the girl that got away.” He told me he always knew she was “the one” (begging the question, why then did he marry ME??). Understanding what I do now, I believe I had full adultery grounds for divorcing him. At the time, however, I was not clear on that.

    I’m so sorry.

    My own personal experience leads me to believe that asking ‘was it really cheating?’ of a spouse is a dangerous thing. The point is how they treated *the spouse*. And, in many if not most cases, if you find a little evidence, that is probably the tip of the iceberg. You may have no proof of physical cheating, but that doesn’t mean it occurred. You may have proof of one, while there are several you don’t know about (not you in particular, just speaking generally.) You can’t trust a cheater, so having the pastor try to certify that it was ‘really’ cheating is always going to fall in the cheaters favor. JMO.

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  44. Deborah: I was declared an unbeliever by the pastor in my former church . Neither Jesus not I had been informed of my status change but that was how the pastor was able to enthusiastically support my ex (who was his BFF) in remarrying.

    I’m so sorry, Deborah. That’s a bit what I was thinking. It’s pretty easy to do, isn’t it? That’s why I don’t believe in ‘checking the box’. Hurts too many people and pastors are supremely bad at it.

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  45. I went through “divorce inquisition” at several evangelical churches after I was remarried. It became quite clear that I carried a scarlet letter “D” everywhere I went. I was barred from leadership for that reason. Not only did I get looked down on, but I was excluded and even shunned because of it.

    I also took note of how many “pastors” I had lunch with who would position themselves so they could scan every woman who walked in the place.

    So in spite of being abandoned by my first spouse, and celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with my current souse, I was still considered a pariah, damaged goods, or whatever you want to call it. All in evangelical churches be evangelical “pastors”, one of which cheated on his own wife but was welcomed back into the ministry.

    The evangelical church as a whole doesn’t have a clue regarding divorce, abuse, cheating, or sexual assault, imo. I just don’t think their theology and their thinking goes deep enough to handle thorny issues. I am sure there are exceptions, but their wern’t in the zip codes I traveled in. Thankfully I found a church that ministers to people because they are children of God and united with Christ, not because of their social status or the type of dings they have on their record. Good grief…

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  46. Divorce Minister: Jesus talks about “porneia” as the word in Greek for a broad spectrum of sexual immorality that would include adultery as defined above.

    StillWiggling: No less an authority than Jesus said if a man looks at a woman with lust, he has committed adultery in his heart.

    Christians often say that our thoughts are worse than our actions. However, equating thoughts with actions exaggerates the importance of passing thoughts–and we all have them. This false comparison can also give people permission to follow through on their worst impulses: I’ve thought it, I might as well do it.

    A lot of churches promote thought policing, which can lead to dress and haircut codes, arranged marriage, baseless accusations, and irrational standards. Power gets concentrated among a few enforcers. Abuse flourishes, but we call it godly discipline, and boot the wounded lamb out into the cold dark night.

    Personally, I think God appreciates it when we don’t follow through on temptation. The recovering alcoholic walks right past the fifth of gin. The lonely spouse chats with the attractive clerk, but does not contrive to meet up after work. Inside, they learn not to obsess, not to fantasize hour after hour, not to scheme. They consider their own hearts, their own thoughts, and turn their kind attention back to their loved ones. All of us have temptations, and all of us have a duty to manage them.

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  47. Deborah:
    JC,

    As a woman raped by her husband, just want you to know that it didn’t matter a whit to my home church. He is recorded admitting it, he got the support, I was shunned and sent a letter of reprimand. He then moved to the last church I was at with his new wife. They are aware of the rape and physical abuse of the children and I. It literally doesn’t matter to anyone. So I got raped, he got re-married and supported. Not sure I am getting your intended point. I was told by the pastor and elders I had no biblical grounds for divorce so that was the justification of the lies and smear campaign. Crazy making, heart wrenching stuff.

    Deborah,

    First of all, I am very sorry that happened to you. That is a terrible thing.

    I think you either did not understand my comment or I didn’t explain it very well (or both).

    In the article that was posted, David AKA the Divorce Minister says “Many Christians do not understand a basic spiritual truth about adultery. It is soul rape (see I Corinthians 6:16-17)”

    My comment was aimed at that. I think that is a bizarre interpretation of I Cor 6. But furthermore, I believe it cheapens actual rape. Being cheated on is not like being raped (or soul raped). The only thing like being raped is being raped.

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  48. drstevej: Where does the Bible draw the line in defining adultery? Is vaginal sex a requirement? If not, what is /are the essential conduct in order to be labeled “adultery” in a biblical sense?

    This is where things start to go off track. It is like a church youth pastor setting specific limits as to how far teen couples can go. Hold hands? Kiss? French kiss? Touch skin on skin? How high and how low? This just sends kids looking for a loop hole. , just as it does a wayward spouse. We only talked! OK, so we kissed once! Well, it wasn’t in the vagina! It was only once! This is where Jesus took exception to the question of the pharisees about divorce. The key to adultery is not the behavior, it is the heart.

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  49. Loren Haas: This is where Jesus took exception to the question of the pharisees about divorce. The key to adultery is not the behavior, it is the heart.

    Yep. The real reason many pastors seem to be afraid and want to define limits of what is ‘real’ adultery appears to be so they can control who is allowed to divorce for it. And whether *they* think it’s enough.

    I think where it tips to adultery is generally in whether the spouse feel betrayed. Did you find that person on tinder/ashleyM actively looking to cheat? Did you find texts that were disparaging of your relationship/sexting? Chances are what you found or was admitted to is the tip of the iceberg anyways. Pastors have no business making this call. Jesus didn’t say ‘only PIV is cheating’ and there is a reason for that. Because it’s about the heart.

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  50. Muff Potter,

    It doesn’t disavow hyperbole. Article 13 “….We further deny that inerrancy is negated by biblical phenomena such as … the use of hyperbole and round numbers …”

    It acknowledges hyperbole–but says it in a very confusing way.

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  51. Lea: ALso, MRAs frequently use ‘divorce raped’ to describe…IDK any division of mutual assets/child support/etc, which is disgusting to me.

    MRAs always struck me as men who had been burned BAD by a woman in their past and were getting even with anything without a Y Chromosome. According to Divorce Minister, there is a stage after such a burn job where you are consumed with rage and revenge, and MRA/Manosphere types are STUCK in that stage, juicing off the rage. (Not so different from abusive Christians and their Righteous Anger(TM).)

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  52. Divorce Minister: I use the term to mean vaginal-penal sex as per the general definition in a dictionary. However, I don’t think the exception is limited to this form of sexual sin. Jesus talks about “porneia” as the word in Greek for a broad spectrum of sexual immorality that would include adultery as defined above.

    But Tab A in Slot B and ONLY Tab A in Slot B is a very convenient definition.
    (Remember “Clinton Sex”?)

    “I did not know that woman in a Biblical sense.”
    — Douggie Phillips ESQUIRE (AKA “Little Lord Fauntleroy”)

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  53. elastigirl: no longer a christian according to what criteria?

    Not being Exactly Like MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, of course.
    That’s been a de facto definition for a LONG time.

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  54. Lea: Yep. The real reason many pastors seem to be afraid and want to define limits of what is ‘real’ adultery appears to be so they can control who is allowed to divorce for it. And whether *they* think it’s enough.

    I think where it tips to adultery is generally in whether the spouse feel betrayed. Did you find that person on tinder/ashleyM actively looking to cheat? Did you find texts that were disparaging of your relationship/sexting? Chances are what you found or was admitted to is the tip of the iceberg anyways. Pastors have no business making this call. Jesus didn’t say ‘only PIV is cheating’ and there is a reason for that. Because it’s about the heart.

    My ex-husband started an emotional affair with a married woman with two children. This woman was a bartender where my husband-the so-called christian-liked to spend the weekends with his buddies. He would come home telling me about this woman who was always talking to him about how unhappy she was in her marriage, blah, blah, blah. She would hang out with him and his friends at the Country Kitchen after bars close, and then all of a sudden, the story was it would just be him and her-they were just friends-she just “wanted someone to talk to”. Her husband was a scumbag who was emotionally abusive, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to leave him, etc. Of course, I was immediately suspicious from the get go, but he told me she “was just a friend” and “Didn’t I trust him?”. Short answer-NO. Eventually, he said that she was looking for a new church for her and her husband and kids to attend because she didn’t like the old one. Of course, my husband told me she would be attending the church that he and I had attended a few times. It appeared to be an okay church, but I stopped attending after a couple of visits because I didn’t feel comfortable there. This was back when I was questioning the comp teachings and was kind of confused as to what I believed. Anyway, my husband occasionally attended this church without me, and he came back from a service that this woman had also attended bragging about how much she liked it. “Really? How did her husband and kids enjoy the sermon?” I deliberately asked him as this supposedly was the basis for her wanting to seek a new church. “Oh, they weren’t there!” he said, but they “were just friends”. Did he think I was an idiot? He continued to attend this church with her sans husband and kids so that was the last straw for me. Long story short-we split up and he started dating her openly all the while claiming they were” just friends” BEFORE the split. I heard from his best friend that he had been telling her we were going through a divorce months before it actually happened. I even went to the Pastor of the church to tell him what was going on right under his nose, and this guy was sympathetic as he felt it was weird that they were attending church together sans spouses and kids. He said he would speak to my husband, but hubby got wind of this and quit going all the while asking me, “Why did you go and tell him all these lies? Now I can’t show my face there again!” What a moron! Of course, he always claimed that it wasn’t an affair before we split up because he did not actually sleep with her before we split up. But he sure was working on it!!! Oh, well, I told him that she would dump him and go back to her husband by the time our divorce was final and that is exactly what happened. Of course he wanted to come back which resulted in door being slammed in his face and told to go to HE double hockey sticks. So, I am not sure what the Pastor would have said to him about all of this, but I know that “just an emotional affair” is grounds for divorce in my book.

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  55. Lily Rose: I heard from his best friend that he had been telling her we were going through a divorce months before it actually happened.

    That sounds about right. I have regrettably been on the other side of this (told me he was divorced, not true, goodness knows what he told his wife but I’m 100% sure it wasn’t the truth). Cheaters are liars.

    Lily Rose: So, I am not sure what the Pastor would have said to him about all of this, but I know that “just an emotional affair” is grounds for divorce in my book.

    100% agree. And I’m sorry that happened to you. Some people are scum.

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  56. Headless Unicorn Guy: MRA/Manosphere types are STUCK in that stage, juicing off the rage

    But a lot of them haven’t even had these experiences. They just believe others who have. Or they believe lies from abusive husbands about their ‘crazy’ ex.

    I still think the term is awful. Anger and hurt at being treated badly is understandable, but divorce isn’t rape. Sometimes divorce happens because of rape and you can just imagine what those types say to their friends. I used to take people at face value but I have massively rethought that the past few years.

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  57. ‘Looking forward to reading the book! A long time ago when I was experiencing this subject, a well-meaning friend gave me the book Torn Assunder. It was great until I read the part where I needed to acknowledge some sort of responsibility. Wowzers! Insane! Although I tried like hell to accuse myself of something I did wrong, all I could ever come up with was that if all the book said was true, I should have been the one to have had the affair, not my husband! Only when I realized that, were we able to move on together. But no one has to stay together, period! Some couples have looked at us and thought they need to follow suit. Yet, if anyone wants to stay together they should not have any iota of justification for cheating. If they do, they will do it again just like any sin that we justify. It sickens me to the core when I hear of any counselor putting any blame on the betrayed.

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  58. Lily Rose: I think where it tips to adultery is generally in whether the spouse feel betrayed

    Of course, but adultery sometimes goes undetected. It’s awful when a widow/er learns that the deceased spouse had one or more affairs. I’d say it’s adultery (or moving in that direction) if the spouse would reasonably feel betrayed.

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  59. Friend: Christians often say that our thoughts are worse than our actions. However, equating thoughts with actions exaggerates the importance of passing thoughts–and we all have them. This false comparison can also give people permission to follow through on their worst impulses: I’ve thought it, I might as well do it.

    BINGO
    And as a result, many well meaning and decent fundagelicals find themselves on an endless hamster wheel of failure and self loathing for failure because they cannot achieve a misbegotten ideal of total ‘spiritual’ perfection in this life.

    This feature is one of the main critiques Judaism has for the Christian religion.

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  60. Lea: That sounds about right. I have regrettably been on the other side of this (told me he was divorced, not true, goodness knows what he told his wife but I’m 100% sure it wasn’t the truth). Cheaters are liars.

    100% agree. And I’m sorry that happened to you. Some people are scum.

    Yes. Not sure about everything he told her as I am sure he manipulated her too, but she still went for it when we did split up even when I told her there was no divorce before that. I also had to put up with HER husband coming around wanting a shoulder to cry on, but it was obvious he was hoping we would get it on as some sort of revenge affair. While I was sure she did her share of manipulating, I don’t think she was totally lying about emotional abuse from this guy so I wasn’t even remotely tempted. At one point, I was even afraid this guy would come gunning for my husband for stealing his wife. No way did I want to be caught in the middle of that one. All three of them were nuts in my book.

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  61. Lily Rose: I also had to put up with HER husband coming around wanting a shoulder to cry on, but it was obvious he was hoping we would get it on as some sort of revenge affair.

    Ugh!

    And I didn’t mean to say the situations were exactly the same, just that you can’t trust these types – if they will lie to their wife they will surely lie to someone they want to sleep with too.

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  62. Lea,

    No worries! I didn’t take it that way. I had a friend who was in your exact position as she really believed the scumbag she was with was really divorced. Turned out to be a total lie when “the wife” confronted her, but luckily, the woman didn’t hold it against her as she really and truly did not know he was still married.

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  63. Deborah: I was declared an unbeliever by the pastor in my former church . Neither Jesus not I had been informed of my status change but that was how the pastor was able to enthusiastically support my ex (who was his BFF) in remarrying. You can malign and defame a woman and declare her an unbeliever so that the husband can tick the right box for re-marriage? Good grief!

    Light bulb goes on!
    That explains so many things! They need to be able to control the narrative, keep the woman silent and helpless in order to maintain their falsely pious claims of ‘Till death do us part’ while being able to freely toss off any less than desirable spouse.

    ‘It’s her fault. She became an unbeliever.’ Good grief is right.

    It starts with a false, inconsistent, control-based narrative that proclaims God – the Divorcee – not only hates (which he does) but forbids divorce. Add to the text anyone? In reality, The Law provided for divorce, which is what led to the confrontation between the Calvinists, I mean hypocrites, I mean Pharisees and Jesus over ‘proper’ divorce. A little faulty interpretation by the KJV, and we have Jesus proclaiming that God does not allow divorce, even though the Mosaic Law clearly set forth the procedure for divorce. By falsely interpreting ‘putting away’ with ‘divorce’, the institutional church created a whole new, ungodlike and unbiblical form of slavery, known as marriage.

    For more insight, I suggest these two posts concerning divorce:
    https://lightfordarktimes.com/2017/11/21/when-churches-exceed-their-authority-evil-comes-into-the-church/
    https://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/studies/spiritual/home_study/divorce.htm

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  64. Lily Rose: Turned out to be a total lie when “the wife” confronted her

    Ouch! I too believed. I am trusting to a fault, even though I think of myself as cynical. I did a learn a bunch of nifty red flags to look for.

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  65. Lea: But a lot of them haven’t even had these experiences. They just believe others who have. Or they believe lies from abusive husbands about their ‘crazy’ ex.

    Sounds like some sort of “Rage by Proxy”.

    I’ve heard the horror stories myself. Including…
    * Gold Diggers Divorcing for Fun & Profit (back in Usenet days, there was even a Usenet how-to BBS for it — “My Ex-Husband Is My Slave”; the gold diggers on it used to bitch like a Manosphere in reverse about how they couldn’t get a man to commit. Big Surprise.).
    * Being told from my family that women are after One Thing and One Thing Only.
    * Watching “Harley Quinn Syndrome” in action, AKA “Ever seen a lonely thug?”

    My only experience with a girlfriend ended in a bad breakup which seemed to confirm what my family told me above. I’m now 63, in a young geek’s profession, and have just enough of a nest egg to retire – too old to start over if I get cleaned out. My background and life experiences (including the above) have made it difficult for me to trust others in general, especially when it comes to trusting women.

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  66. Lily Rose: He would come home telling me about this woman who was always talking to him about how unhappy she was in her marriage, blah, blah, blah.

    Sounds like a Rule 63 genderflip of the old pickup line “My Wife just Doesn’t Understand Me (like You)”.

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  67. Lily Rose: … “just an emotional affair” is grounds for divorce in my book.

    Sorry to hear your story, Lily.

    I suspect there’s no such thing as “just an emotional affair” (and you probably had the same thought long before I did).

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  68. Muff Potter: BINGO
    And as a result, many well meaning and decent fundagelicals find themselves on an endless hamster wheel of failure and self loathing for failure because they cannot achieve a misbegotten ideal of total ‘spiritual’ perfection in this life.

    This feature is one of the main critiques Judaism has for the Christian religion.

    Real kicker when you consider that Christianity started off branching out from Judaism.

    These days Christians need an infusion of Jewishness. At the very least, it’d improve their creativity and sense of humor.

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  69. Burwell:
    I cannot help but wonder if John Piper’s theology helped contribute to the ex-wife’s belief that she was not a Christian. I remember questioning my salvation after spending a lot of time reading Jonathan Edwards, and that is where JP derives much of his theology. Thankfully, I moved on – faith intact.

    I heard John Piper state flat-out at a conference in the late 90s that anyone who did not have regular positive emotional feelings toward God was probably going to hell. So… yeah. :-/

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  70. “Biblical” marriage is a real head wringer. In the old testament polygamy was a-ok, all of a sudden looking at the opposite sex was adultery. For crying out loud, God make up your mind already! Hey, Jesus did not come out and say polygamy is wrong just divorce…

    …anyway, I digress….

    So here’s my take.

    In the bronze age, there was a proclivity towards multiple wives because in many cases wives died in childbirth and many children didn’t make adulthood. If a man made 40, he was old…and probably in a lot of pain. In most of the world we forget how close death was.

    Jesus issued his edict on divorce in a time when a woman with kids sans husband was in dire straights. He was basically saying that a husband should honor his commitment because he wanted as many christians around for his return (keep in mind, the christians of the day did not foresee their religion extending for the next two millennium)

    So what’s the takeaway message? Polygamy is ok? Wrong!

    It’s about context. It’s about taking a message from a time thousands of years ago and kit bashing it into the 21st century.

    I entered into marriage because I love my wife – I agreed to monogamy of my own free will. It’s our contract so to speak. If one of us breaks it, then there is nothing holding the other person to it either. Likewise if my wife told me she no longer loved, it would hurt like heck but I wouldn’t want to force her to stay.

    And if God is just then he would not punish the person who did not break their commitment.

    I speculate if there is a God, he values honesty more than forcing people into relationships that don’t work.

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  71. Eeyore: I heard John Piper state flat-out at a conference in the late 90s that anyone who did not have regular positive emotional feelings toward God was probably going to hell. So… yeah. :-/

    Aren’t you glad that when you stand before your Maker one day, John Piper has absolutely no input or say so about what your fate will be? I sure am.

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  72. Lily Rose – Your story has some similarities to my story. My ex hooked up with another woman months after he left (though just the latest in a string), and because the divorce was taking so long (since he wouldn’t stop taking me to court) they went to another country, “married”, and came back, telling people he was divorced and they were legitimately married. In my country, he is not considered married, bigamist would be more accurate, as the divorce is not final. But, the church and his friends just went along with it. They certainly didn’t care to ask me for the truth. Unfortunately, it was my children who were dragged along to church with them while I was kicked out for protesting. Pretty hard on the children, and very confusing. With these guys the “emotional affair” is just their means of getting into the bedroom for the physical affair and lies are all a part of doing whatever it takes to get what they want.

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  73. Loren, as usual, I think you are spot on with this comment. Well said!

    Loren Haas: This is where things start to go off track. It is like a church youth pastor setting specific limits as to how far teen couples can go. Hold hands? Kiss? French kiss? Touch skin on skin? How high and how low? This just sends kids looking for a loop hole. , just as it does a wayward spouse. We only talked! OK, so we kissed once! Well, it wasn’t in the vagina! It was only once! This is where Jesus took exception to the question of the pharisees about divorce. The key to adultery is not the behavior, it is the heart.

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  74. JC: In the article that was posted, David AKA the Divorce Minister says “Many Christians do not understand a basic spiritual truth about adultery. It is soul rape (see I Corinthians 6:16-17)”

    My comment was aimed at that. I think that is a bizarre interpretation of I Cor 6. But furthermore, I believe it cheapens actual rape. Being cheated on is not like being raped (or soul raped). The only thing like being raped is being raped.

    Many people who have had a spouse cheat on them tell me that this phrase “soul rape” resonates with their experience. Also, mental health providers are catching up with this understanding treating these as truly trauma (think not unlike trauma leading to PTSD).

    I would also like to highlight how your comments come across to me as minimizing and insensitive to anyone who has had an unfaithful spouse…

    It is like telling an emotional abuse victim that you think physical and emotional abuse are horrible, BUT we should reserve terms like “beat downs” to actual beat downs as it cheapens the experience of real victims of physical abuse. Experiencing emotional abuse is not like experiencing a physical “beat down.” The only thing like a physical beat down is a real physical beat down.

    Saying those things to someone who has experienced emotional abuse is truly insensitive and dismissive of their pain. I do not recommend that.

    Also, I would never say that I know how a rape victims feels because I was soul raped. You don’t ever “know” how another person feels even if you WERE raped because everyone’s experience is unique.

    The point is NOT to say being cheated on and being raped are the exact same experience…they are not. I agree with you on that. However, both ARE a violation of the victim against their will. Both are traumatic. And both need to be taken seriously as opposed to be treated as “not that bad” or as a side issue (which happens A LOT in Christian circles).

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  75. Maple Lady:
    Unfortunately, it was my children who were dragged along to church with them while I was kicked out for protesting.Pretty hard on the children, and very confusing.With these guys the “emotional affair” is just their means of getting into the bedroom for the physical affair and lies are all a part of doing whatever it takes to get what they want.

    Sorry to hear that. It is always worse when children are involved. Luckily, I did not have children with my ex-husband, but the other woman had two little kids under the age of 6. I remember we had planned to visit the in-laws in Alabama that Christmas, but we were going through the divorce so he took his mistress and her two children to meet his mother (she was not thrilled). The other woman wasn’t even officially divorced or separated from her husband yet, and she’s flouting her affair in front of her kids like that. I don’t understand why people go from one relationship into another with kids in tow without letting said kids get used to the idea their parents are no longer together. Blows my mind!

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  76. Noevangelical,

    Thank you for your kindness. It amazed me that I had lots of documentation of the rape but even more of the other abuses of the kids and me. My documentation was not admitted but the ex and pastor were believed with no questions asked. Willful blindness. I believe it was the tip of the iceberg re the evil being covered in that church. No one bothers to verify. But my kids recently asked to see all documentation. They completely believe me. What a lousy situation for adult children to be stuck between a mom and their home church, pastor and dad. They aren’t stuck but it has been so disillusioning for them. I encourage them to look at facts, pray for discernment and watch for the fruit of integrity or the lack thereof. Unless I see a diagnosis from a psychiatric unit for complete psychosis, I will never date a man with a “crazy ex.”

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  77. Jack,

    Great comment Jack!
    Even if we have disagreements about what the Hebrew Bible says or what it doesn’t say, the points are minor; and we still have much common ground.

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  78. Anyway, back to the main gist of the article up-top.
    I think we can all agree that marriage and divorce (in both reformed and non-reformed fundagelicalism) depends greatly on who you are and what your place is in the pecking order.

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  79. God hates divorce He didn’t say you can never remarry , they need to read Corinthians. My problem with all this is so much time and energy being used to tie millstones around a Christian’s neck! I would tell piper and any “pastor “ to take a hike. When your secure in Christ their rantings mean zero!!!!

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  80. Shauna,

    The problem is that for most people The Church is EVERYTHING. Without the approval and good standing of The Institutional Church, most would not be able to imagine themselves a christian, or life worth living. This is what gives these spiritually abusive religious leaders such power over people. For many, the thought of being condemned by their church community is almost as dreadful as the thought of being burned at the stake. We have allowed the modern Institutional Church to regain the power and control of the corrupt religious institution of ancient Israel.

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  81. Dan Savage handles infidelity pretty well as a practical matter. He advises some letter-writers to accept something less than 100 % fidelity, especially if the relationship as a whole is okay. (The principle could extent to occasional lapses as well as “monogamish” relationships.) He once said something that has stuck in my head ever since–he says that forgiveness means nothing if you only forgive the little things; love means that sometimes, you have to forgive the big things.

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  82. TS00,

    And I agree, God hates divorce – not because he wants to defend the institution of marriage, but the people within it, who he loves. He allowed divorce because men are sinners, their hearts are hard. I reject ‘Once married, always married’ for the same reasons I reject ‘Once saved, always saved.’ God is not about some sort of contractual obligation. He is about living, loving, ongoing, personal relationships. He will not bind us to a relationship with him – we are free to walk away, should we so choose; and he will not bind us into a relationship with someone who does not love us. Death by stoning was for adultery. Divorce was for unrequited love, whatever the reason; and it was to be done properly, with a certificate of divorce. The hypocritical Pharisees were in the habit of merely ‘putting away’ their wives, leaving them unable to remarry, or making them officially ‘adulterers’ if they did. This is what Jesus condemned, and insisted that divorce be performed under the guidelines given to Moses, i.e. a legal certificate of divorcement.

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  83. Eeyore: I heard John Piper state flat-out at a conference in the late 90s that anyone who did not have regular positive emotional feelings toward God was probably going to hell.

    At which point, you have to FORCE them to stay out of Hell.

    “Hell has no torment worse than Constant Forced Cheerfulness.”
    — G.K.Chesterton, “Three Tools of Death” (one of the Father Brown Mysteries)

    “HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!”
    — Ren & Stimpy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZFTUtbn1RU

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  84. wtg:

    Sopy: Stop it! I don’t like playing games. You have read this blog for years. You know the answer to your question. I spell it out more carefully than most and it is an orthodox stance. Shame on you.

    If this keeps up,. you will go into slow moderation.

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  85. Muff Potter:
    When you (generic you) consider that only the husband could initiate and write out a certificate of divorcement, a lot more becomes clear:

    From that article:
    “2.It was deduced from the biblical law on the accusation of premarital sexual experience that a husband was required to pay some kind of alimony settlement upon divorce. (It was this payment that the accusing husband sought to get out of; he had nothing else to gain from the procedure as he could divorce his wife at will.)”

    I found this a very interesting point that I have NEVER heard made in a Christian context. Sort of reminds you that these sorts of motivations (money) remain pretty consistent in humanity…

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  86. Lea: “2.It was deduced from the biblical law on the accusation of premarital sexual experience that a husband was required to pay some kind of alimony settlement upon divorce. (It was this payment that the accusing husband sought to get out of; he had nothing else to gain from the procedure as he could divorce his wife at will.)”

    I found this a very interesting point that I have NEVER heard made in a Christian context. Sort of reminds you that these sorts of motivations (money) remain pretty consistent in humanity…

    Exactly. Sounds just like the sort of conniving hypocrisy Jesus accused the Pharisees of. And what do we get? An institutional religious organization that mis-translates words to create entire new commands, such as: ‘Thou shalt not divorce, ever. Unless we say so’.

    Is that what Jesus actually said? If that was what The Law taught, why then did the Pharisees question why Moses [The Law of Moses] allowed divorce? Funny how they were always attempting to trap Jesus into overturning The Law, which would have given them grounds for condemning him to death. Jesus instead explains the proper way for ‘divorce’ to be carried out, and remarriage to be permitted, as per The Law, condemning their abusive practice of ‘putting away’ without legal documents, which was entirely contrary to properly performed divorce that proved a woman was not an adulteress. Read it again . . . you might be surprised. And yes, it would not be surprising if the financial aspect (no need for repaying the brideprice or ‘alimony’) was much of their motivation for adopting the Roman practice of ‘putting away’.

    Quite a bit different from what we have been taught, eh?

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  87. Eeyore: I heard John Piper state flat-out at a conference in the late 90s that anyone who did not have regular positive emotional feelings toward God was probably going to hell.

    A read-through of the book of Psalms suggests that anyone who does not have regular negative feelings towards God is probably not very active spiritually (regardless of where they may, or may not, be heading).

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  88. Lea: I found this a very interesting point that I have NEVER heard made in a Christian context. Sort of reminds you that these sorts of motivations (money) remain pretty consistent in humanity…

    Neither will you hear much of anything in fundagelicalism that has it’s roots in Judaism.
    Unless of course it bolsters a present day hermeneutical dogma they may have.
    Anything more, and you are a suspected Judaizer (per the apostle Paul).

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  89. TS00: Quite a bit different from what we have been taught, eh?

    “…Belief can be manipulated, only knowledge is dangerous…”
    — From the works of Frank Herbert —

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  90. Muff Potter,

    “Once the interconnectedness of everything in warfare is established, success depends on the accuracy of the strategist’s calculus weighing each component’s relative importance and war becomes an effort to deceive your enemies into arriving at incorrect solutions – not just a battle of the wills as depicted by some interpretations of the Western way of war.”

    – Nicholas Morrow, Johns Hopkins University SAIS
    https://www.classicsofstrategy.com/2015/11/sun-tzu-the-art-of-war-c-500-300-bc.html

    I believe that we are in an ages old battle for truth. The classic ‘Art of War’ was not so much a blueprint for physical military strategies as a tactical blueprint for the art of deception. It details the exact strategies Satan has used, and continues to use, to manipulate and deceive both men and entire civilizations. In pursuit of what? Scripture tells us he is ever ‘seeking whom he may devour’. Integral to his success is the foremost strategy of persuading his enemy that he is not their enemy.

    Any enemy engaged in a war of deception would be foolish to admit that he was engaged in a war of deception. His defeat would be swift and certain. Instead, he will cleverly portray himself as a friend, nay, the very best, most ardent and faithful servant. He will infiltrate the homes, meeting places, minds and hearts of those he seeks to destroy, placing his people in, and on top of, every institution that has any meaningful power over the beliefs and behavior of men.

    One does not need to be a genius – which I certainly am not – to begin a list of that which the enemy of truth might seek to control: governments and their agencies, science and medicine, or that which is falsely so-called, educational/programming institutions, organs of media, whether they claim to be informative, educational or merely entertainment and, most importantly, all things religious. Add to that the multitude of political, social, educational, media and religious organizations that exist or have ever existed, and one becomes aware of how easily a powerful, non-mortal, demonic enemy might orchestrate a patient, long-term campaign of deception that misleads, confuses and deceives, if possible, the very ‘elect’ (children) of God.

    The first and vital step is to become aware that one is a target of a vast, clever, powerful war of deception. Only then can one become prepared and equipped to question and battle the never ending campaigns of deceit that wage war upon the hearts and minds of men.

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  91. I don’t understand how preachers think they can get off outright contradicting red letter scripture. God does not tolerate abuse.

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  92. Florence:
    “I serve a God who was with me in my pain and loved me enough to be angry with my abusers.” – DM

    This is beautiful truth all abused spouses need to hear.Make no mistake about it, infidelity ALWAYS involves abuse of some kind as well (financial, spiritual, emotional, sometimes physical).

    I’ve also seen the horribly abused spouse be the one who commits adultery.

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  93. Sopy
    All of your comments were not approved. Divorce, due to infidelity, is allowed according to Jesus. That includes a pastor whose wife committed adultery. The rest of your questions are not worth responding to you. Read my blog posts and find your answer. Im not doing your work for you. My stand on such issues is orthodox by conservative Christians so deal with it.

    If you are becoming sarcastic towards my personal faith or you are playing games, you will be on your way out. I have little time for playing games with people who should know better.

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  94. dee: If you are becoming sarcastic towards my personal faith or you are playing games, you will be on your way out.

    Bah. And here was I thinking this blog was starting to attract a better quality of troll-dung.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,

    Roger Bombast

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  95. Once your view of divorce is harsher than what Jesus taught, consider yourself really close to being a legalist. But not to worry, when you think you are smarter than everyone else you won’t consider that you could be wrong and on the wrong side of the issue. Why is it these “scholars” end up so out of touch?

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  96. Ken A,

    “Why is it these “scholars” end up so out of touch?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    they’ve stared at the data for so long their brain has turned inside-out like a paper cup.

    that, and they believe their own press about being a guru. they love being a guru and having followers, so they need to keep them supplied. some kind of sick symbiotic thing, exploiting God to make it work.

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  97. Muff Potter: “…Belief can be manipulated, only knowledge is dangerous…”
    — From the works of Frank Herbert —

    Amen! This is the key to cults of personality (e.g., New Calvinism). If you (generic you) don’t personally study the Word allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you, you are at the mercy of someone else telling you what to believe. The Berean Christians were considered more noble than the rest because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was true … Paul!!

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  98. Ken A: Why is it these “scholars” end up so out of touch?

    Intellect does not equal wisdom. My dear son-in-law has a high intellect, but occasionally walks into glass doors.

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  99. Headless Unicorn Guy: At which point, you have to FORCE them to stay out of Hell.

    “Hell has no torment worse than Constant Forced Cheerfulness.”
    — G.K.Chesterton, “Three Tools of Death” (one of the Father Brown Mysteries)

    “HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!”
    — Ren & Stimpy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZFTUtbn1RU

    I think back to the dystopian RPG “Paranoia” that I used to play back in eighties.

    The computer is your friend.
    The computer wants you to be happy.
    Happiness is mandatory.

    You then proceed to stab your coplayers in the back.

    *sigh* I miss the Reagan years….

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  100. Max: Intellect does not equal wisdom.My dear son-in-law has a high intellect, but occasionally walks into glass doors.

    Old School D&D expression:
    “Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3.”

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  101. elastigirl: that, and they believe their own press about being a guru.

    So did those two con men, Anton LaVey and Elron Hubbard.

    Like that old Twilight Zone episode, they wore the Mask so long that one day the Mask became their Face.

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  102. Headless Unicorn Guy: they wore the Mask so long that one day the Mask became their Face.

    Which seems to me to be the suggested problem with ‘the mark’ of the beast. Those who adopt his worldview, beliefs and code of behavior will eventually be beyond hope of redemption.

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  103. TS00,

    Thus, if a new Theocracy were to come into existence, all who reject Creed XYZ will be declared heretics, and liable to punishment, presumably death. This already took place, and mostly still holds true, with the Orthodox creed of the Trinity. It was rejecting this ‘mark’ of Orthodoxy that led to the deaths of countless thousands in the various so-called christian Inquisitions.

    We are led to ignore this pertinent part of history by the likes of MacDonald’s gambling buddy, Jerry Jenkins. The plot thickens . . .

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  104. TS00: Which seems to me to be the suggested problem with ‘the mark’ of the beast. Those who adopt his worldview, beliefs and code of behavior will eventually be beyond hope of redemption.

    There’s a third, more famous individual who also wore the Mask of his public persona so long it became his face. A cult leader named Adolf Hitler, who demonstrates the depths it can sink to. The Mask was “The Invincible Fuehrer”. Biographers dating back to a 1943 OSS intelligence report claim the hyper-hyper-masculine “Der Fuehrer” was originally a deliberate public persona adopted as a performance role to “work his audience”. (And show everyone he was so tough and hard nobody could ever abuse him again because he’d abuse them first…)

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