Second in a two-part series.
Linda: Cliff, in the previous post, you said, spiritual abuse is consistently using a position of authority to impose something on somebody or to exert control over them through misapplying scripture. Church hurt doesn’t necessarily involve biblical interpretation and may be only a one-time event.
We discussed the following steps you laid out for dealing with church hurt.
Four Steps for Dealing with Church Hurt:
1. Live a Self-Examined Life.
2. Handle The Offenses Correctly.
3. Persist In Offering Grace.
4. Fix Your Eyes On Jesus.
This blog has some examples of Christians being hurt by the church. I have summarized three of them here. Perhaps you can use their experiences to describe how the steps you outlined might play out.
Cliff: I wouldn’t advise her to go through the four steps. I wouldn’t want to make law out of that process. I would advise her to go to a Christian counselor or other pastor. I would say an alcoholic husband who is abusing his wife has broken his marriage vows.
Cliff: What you are describing is "Man's Church." [Man’s church is all about what it looks like and what you do to look right. It’s about conformity. Man’s church uses fear as a calling card.] There’s no biblical basis for what she experienced. That church is making its own laws. They’re as bad as the Pharisees. They’re doing it so they can feel good about themselves. She was right to leave. I’m sorry she didn’t find another family of believers that she could be a part of, because we are designed to be in a grace-filled community.
Cliff: Biblical submissiveness never means you should be a doormat. Mutual submission is designed for the guy to look out for his wife. I would tell this woman to immediately separate to protect herself and her daughter. Her husband has abandoned his vow to be the kind of man he’s supposed to be for his family. Is he willing to address his problem? Will he ask for forgiveness, change his life style, and be accountable? That would be the only reason to continue with the marriage.
If the pastors of these man-based churches are going to use the passages in the bible about submission, they should not forget 1 Peter 3:7-9. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker [physically] partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate, and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessings, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Linda: So if husbands mistreat their wives, they miss out on being blessed!
Cliff: That's right.
Cliff: Grace requires a willingness to let go of control. It’s a very difficult way for a church to go. Sometimes church hurt happens inadvertently. But even if it’s spiritual abuse, who’s the judge? We have to trust the Holy Spirit. One thing is clear: no one has to submit to abuse within their marriage or in their church.
Dear Reader, if you've found this interview interesting, I hope you'll note that in the comment section below. I'd love to dialog with you about this issue.
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.
Linda M. Kurth is a writer and a divorced and remarried Christian. In going through the divorce, she experienced a dichotomy of responses from the Christian community. After sharing some of those experiences in her upcoming memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce, she's heard many stories of divorced Christians who have struggled with the same issue. This blog invites divorced Christians to tell their stories with the goal of encouraging churches to resist condemnation and become a source of healing and grace.