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
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!