Spiritual Abuse in the Church by D.R.
We were married only four months when I was in a near-fatal car accident and had a “near death experience (NDE)”. This event left me extremely unsettled and my grandmother suggested I join a church. Shortly after, we started attending bible studies at my sister-in-law’s church. About two years later, we were baptized and made our spiritual commitments publicly before the church. It was then we began hosting bible studies in our home and participating in lay-ministry in the community.
As the marriage progressed, I became aware of the duplicity of his motives, intentions and belief systems about marriage and women in general.
Shortly after my daughter’s second birthday, she expressed a desire to see “the big truck that Daddy drives every day at work.” We made arrangements to meet for lunch and after eating at a local restaurant, I took pictures of my daughter sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck. As she was climbing down from the seat, she accidentally kicked the pile of papers under it and a stack of Playboy magazines fell onto the ground. My husband blushed and would not meet my eyes. At that moment, my eyes were opened to the possibility he was addicted to pornography. The evidence soon bore out, and I came to understand why he no longer approached me intimately.
After I made this change, my husband became more antagonistic. My concern for the safety of my daughter and myself intensified.
I felt terrified, my gut telling me to “get out.” I hastily packed up my car and left with my daughter. We lived in the car for a few days until a friend from the support group I was part of took us in. I contacted Child Protective Services and filed a restraining order.
As the news of my situation gained momentum in my church, members and people in leadership shunned me.
The journey out of domestic violence is very much like coming out of prison.
I lived a solitary life with my daughter where we could heal and grow spiritually without oppression. I've been single for thirty years, and although I still desire a godly companion, I am reluctant to let another man into my life. Being the “Bride of Christ” is the safest and most nurturing relationship for me now!
Linda's Comments: I want to thank D.R. for sharing her powerful story here. Re-visiting such painful events takes courage. From our correspondence, I know there were times she struggled with the emotions brought forth as she wrote this, but as her writing progressed, she experienced some healing.
When we liberate ourselves by telling the truth of our experience, we also give individuals and churches an opportunity to examine themselves. It's my prayer that more and more Christians and their churches will turn from legalism and judgment as D.R experienced, and, instead, turn toward mercy. If you have a Christian divorce story, consider contributing to that change by sharing it here.
I advocate for healing of divorced people within the church by gathering stories of Christians who chose divorce because of abuse, and the response of their churches to that decision. (I'm interested in both helpful and hurtful experiences.) I also include those who have divorced because of their spouse's infidelity but have nevertheless been blamed by their church for the divorce.
If you’re interested in having your voice heard by contributing your divorce story in relationship to the church, please email me at LindaMKurthBlog@gmail.com for guidelines. I’ll be happy to help you share your story.
Know that I encourage respectful comments, keeping the blog a safe place to dialog about this subject.