This letter is for those in church leadership who cast us aside when we needed you the most. For those in leadership who were duped by those who used you the way in which they used us. For those leaders whose spiritual abuse left us broken and doubting.
You see, you were fooled into believing whatever story they wanted to spin. A pawn in their disturbing game of control and manipulation. Without a second thought, you listened to their stories, accepted every tear, and acknowledged their “I’m sorry” as genuine repentance.
You chose to distance yourself from reality, the darkness covering our home. You avoided the opportunity to investigate further into the truth, to invest more deeply in the lives affected, but instead, chose the bliss of ignorance and the ease of assumption. You were swayed by gossip and lies, and you ignored the warning of Scripture not to judge a matter without hearing all parties (Proverbs 18:13). You foolishly assigned blame apart from the facts. Apart from knowledge. Apart from relationship.
For some, as leaders, your pride stood in the way of pursuing the truth. A need to protect your persona and the image of a building prohibited you from doing the difficult stuff. From failing to investigate the truth from fiction or taking the necessary steps to defend those lost within such a dark situation, your lack of concern left us broken and crushed while doubting our faith.
For those leaders who dismissed us as being excessive in our sensitivity or reluctant to submit to the headship of our husband, this letter is for you. For those who accused of us doing something that caused the abuse or by telling us we needed to have more sex with our spouse, this too is for you. And for those who repeatedly told us, “Your spouse is not the enemy. Do not allow the real enemy to destroy your family,” your words only served to aid the abuser in destroying us in even greater ways.
Understand, we were fully aware of the true enemy and to this day because of shared children, we still face our enemy on a daily basis. You see, for us, our spouse was and remains the enemy. He was a man being used by the true enemy to oppress, berate, demean and abuse. Our spouse spoke the name of Jesus to those he needed to impress, but his actions, the actions we witnessed, confirmed otherwise.
For us, it took time to wrap our heads around the truth of our situation. For us, all we could hear were your accusing words informing us we were the problem. No matter how many prayers we prayed, questions we asked, counseling sessions we attended, we were not fighting hard enough or praying loud enough. You left us burdened by the weight of our heartache and believing we were the cause.
As if the despair we felt for our decaying family was not enough, you heaped sorrow upon our suffering while drenching our open wounds with feelings of guilt and shame. And then you handed our abuser the match leaving him to devour what was left of our broken spirits.
But God! You see, He steps in when others walk away. Truthfully, He never leaves, but instead, because of those thundering opinions around us, we often lose track of His voice. However, rest assured, when He speaks, He calms the storm and reminds us exactly who is in charge and who wrote The Book.
He reminds us that abusers live in a consistent pattern of sin which according to scripture, means they are not a Christian. Instead, a true Christian is one who struggles with sin, yet hates it and pursues forgiveness from God. This is not the way of our abuser. Numerous passages speak to this truth. Here are a few. Psalm 50:16-22, John 13:34-35, Romans 8:3-9.
For those in leadership, the ones who have been given charge over the sheep, to each pastor and elder who walked hand in hand professing to the do the work of God, hear our voices as we beg of you, please educate yourself.
With that said, if you as leaders are striving to accomplish what God has called you to, please, do not demand that we return to our abuser. As a shepherd, your job becomes that of protecting your sheep, especially the weak ones, which means not sending us back to the wolf. And by all means, refrain from using Matthew 18 as a way to manipulate us into doing it your way. More often than not, this passage lacks relevancy to our situation for the reason that our abuser is not a Christian. See 1 John 3:6-10.
So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don’t show love for one another do not belong to God.
1 John 3:10
As the Body of Christ, it should be your mission to protect those who have been harmed by abuse. 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body of Christ saying that if one member of the body hurts, all members hurt. The church should be a safe haven for victims and not a place of safe hiding for the evilness of the prowling wolf leaving the broken sheep to scatter.
As leadership you should understand the strategy of the wolf. His gameplay of fake repentance. The tears he will shed, the walks to the altar at the conclusion of a service for all to see. He will play you.
However, until you witness true repentance, repentance that involves claiming his actions instead of blaming his victim or minimizing his own actions, requesting genuine spiritual accountability, seeking out the service of a true professional in the psychiatric field, you should stay away.
Now understand, we as survivors realize God can change anyone. That there are men who have repented and now walk with Jesus. Nevertheless, we need you to understand this, a man must be willing to submit to God and allow God to transform his heart. A simple prayer asking for forgiveness through streaming tears, which we have witnessed thousands of times, does not confirm that change.
In conclusion, I leave you, the church leadership who cast us aside, with these words, be aware of the problem. Understand the countless facets of domestic and spiritual abuse. Do your research. Become educated.
And for the lives of the precious children involved, do not counsel couples where claims of abuse are made. Instead, admit to your lack of training in this area and work with these couples in seeking out those qualified and trained to diagnose and counsel those in need of dealing with this growing problem found in our churches.
And to those who were cast aside, God is good. He is faithful. He will envelope us with His love and shower us with His grace. Just trust His hand and allow His voice alone to lead.
Those who’ve been enveloped by His love