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Marriage in the Balance

The lengthy discussion that followed my  weekend post  on “The Bible and Marital Submission” shows what a difficult problem this is for those of us who share a deep and conservative commitment to the Bible as the Word of God.

I posted on the subject again because I’ve seen how often churchmen claim and misuse authority. I’ve seen churches (often unknowingly) stand behind such men. And while readily admitting that, as fallen men and women, we all contribute to normal marital conflict, the misuse of authority/hierarchy to silence and harm women has put the name of Christ in bad light, not only among abuse shelter workers, but also before a watching world.

Have also seen how some churches unintentionally reinforce abusive marriages (1) by misunderstanding the abuse cycle,  (2) by making marital permanence more important than the purpose and covenant of marriage; (3) by insisting that wives forgive and reconcile with men who say they are sorry– as part of the abuse cycle, and (4) by removing from membership wives who, after seeking counsel, say that they are going to divorce their husbands to protect themselves and their children.

For these reasons and others I want to once again suggest the following summary to show why I believe that those of us who have a conservative and high view of the Scripture may need to take another look at what we have been saying:

1.   The Bible does not say anything about marital submission, until after the fall. The word for “help-meet” that God used for woman is used over 15 times in the OT referring to God “our helper.”

2.   God’s words to Eve that, although she would desire her husband, he would rule over her, were part of the curse, not the remedy.

3.   The Old Testament cultural pattern of male-dominance, polygamy, and hard-hearted divorce show how the curse of sin came true.

4.   The Old Testament says far more about divorce than that “God hates it.” It also says that God hates violence and allows divorce for hard-hearted persons (hard-hearted can refer to one or both).

5.   Jesus did not relate to women like other religious men of his day, and, most importantly, made it clear that, in his kingdom, those who rule will be as those who serve.

6.   Paul followed Jesus’ lead and, while wisely accepting the husband-wife social order of his day, gave husbands and wives a Christ-like motive and way of relating to one another.

7.   Paul’s counsel would have sounded much different to his first century readers than it does to us today. The culture of his day allowed husbands to rule their wives and regard them as property.

8.   As in the case of master-slave relationships, Paul’s counsel to husbands and wives did not call for over throwing the social order, but planted seeds of mutual love and respect.

9.   The range of meanings for words like “submission” and “head” must be considered in light of the whole story and counsel of Scripture. In addition to the fact that lexicons show that there is a difference between “submission” and “obedience”, marriage is not a military-order, so using the military meaning of “submit” isn’t necessary. In other contexts the word for submit involved “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden” (Thayer and Smith).

10. Paul doesn’t say he is using the analogy of marital “head and body” to make the point of a husband’s authority over his wife. (The only place he mentions “authority over” is when he says in 1Corinthians 7 that husbands and wives have mutual authority over the one-anothers’ bodies.

11. Paul uses the head-body relationship of husbands and wives to encourage husbands to care for their wives as they care for their own bodies, and to love their wives as Christ suffered and sacrificed for the Church. He encouraged wives, in turn, to cooperate and submit to the good of their husbands-both for Christ’s sake.

12. When Paul says that a husband is the head of his wife, he does not say anything that would give a husband the right to lord it over his wife (Just as Peter makes it clear that church Elders have no right to lord it over the church (1Peter 5:1-3).

Having said this, I deeply respect those men and women who use an “authority and submission” arrangement of marriage as a way of showing mutual respect and sacrificial love for one another. I’m convinced that when the attitudes of Christ (and the fruit of his Spirit) are the dominant marks of relationships in the home or church, those attitudes will give a new heart and meaning to our relationships regardless of whether we believe there is a God-given authority and chain-of-command, or not.

Let me say it again. If attitudes are right, almost any way of arranging ourselves in the home or church will work. Those same attitudes will help us organize ourselves according to what God has given us for the good of one-another.

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143 Responses to “Marriage in the Balance”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, being in your position I am sure you see and hear more about the abuse of husbands over their wives in the church than do I.

    All of my adult life I have heard of the “bare foot and pregnant” attitude contributed to a paticular denomination. The idea was to keep their wives busy at church activities and in a constant position of being under the male dominence of both husband and male church officials.

    One paticular friend of mine (female) was not even allowed to read any newspappers or magizines or books unless their husband reviewed it first and cleared it with “Pastor.” They were not permitted to watch television without a sanction from husband and Pastor either.

    This was a long time ago, I knew that a situation like that is only headed for distruction. I was right. A person can only be caged for just so long until they rebel. Wives rebel,children rebel, because of an overbearing attitude and attempt to “control” anothers life will lead to rebellion.

    I can not speak for God, but it is my feeling that God wants nothing to do with such people who would enslave a wive and use Him (God) as an authority to do so. I do not believe that the social and family structure given to us from the Holy Spirit implies or gives autority to the husband to be an unreasonable and controlling Tsar.

    But does give the Husband the responsibility to serve the wife by way of leadership. As properly exampled by all of scripture. All things begin at the head and resonate from there. Good stewardship produce good results. Bad stewardship produces bad results. Our handling of the office given us is at the mercy of “free will” and so the nature of man will distort the original meaning, or honor the giver of such responsibility by “serving” in such position as God intended.

    It is just common sense. I too know men who are not capable of being in any leadership position, who misuse scripture to bully their wives. But such men are living a lie and soon the life built on the lie will collapse around them.
    I also know men who give over to their wives all authority, every decision all financial matters, the raising of the children, everything. These men are very happy. They have no responsibility. They sleep well at night and go about their lives content.

    A boy and girl who marry will learn a lot as they grow together as husband and wife. As long as they actualy love each other and give mutual respect to each other, they have a good chance at being happy. Add God and a fellowship with Jesus Christ, they have an exellent chance. But add the serpent in the voice of interference telling them notions about dividing them. And the seed of destruction is sewn.

  2. Mart De Haan says:

    I love the way you have expressed this. I also agree that those who neglect are like those who abuse. If we as men go passive, and fail to step up to our responsibility to be a good example, and as we are able– to provide and protect, we do great harm. I’ve heard you make that point before, and I fully agree. Know you’d agree that such strength comes with as much listening, talking, restraint, and gentleness as the fruit of the Spirit enables… (Gal 5:22-23).

  3. mtman says:

    This is a good concise and complete topic to bring this hot issue to a conclusion. Obviously Mart De Hann has put more effort and study into this topic than any of the other postings appear to have done. This appears as complete as it can be. There is only one aspect of the topic that I don’t see addressed and that was posted yesterday by Wordgazer. I do not bring it up here except for the fact I have had it on my mind since it was posted and can not fathom how she manages to accomplish it. She posted that she is an educated female that has her emotions completely in check and is not an emotional female. That all Christians should keep their emotions under control. Her post was more articulate and precise than mine but that was the gist of what I read.
    Therefore I have two questions that I hope Wordgazer will be kind enough to answer for me. Those comments really concerned me. 1) How do you do that? I mean keep your emotions in absolute control. I couldn’t if I tried. When I take communion many times I am simply over come with emotion. When I read some of the pain and hurt in these posts I admit my eyes are flooded with tears. When I watched the space shuttle launch and saw those in the viewing stands standing as it lifted off with their hands over their hearts I was overcome with emotion. When I read on dog rescue sites about puppies with their mouths duct taped shut thrown into a creek or a nursing mother thrown from a moving car I’m over come with emotion. I simply don’t know how to control my emotions like you describe.
    2) How can you reconcile keeping your emotions in check with the shortest verse in the bible, John 11:35, Jesus wept. I don’t mean this to put anyone on the spot but I truly would like to know. Why as a Christian should I keep control over my emotions. If anyone can answer this please help me out here.

  4. SFDBWV says:

    mtman(Bruce), Look up the word rapture in the dictionary. You will find our last action on earth is the greatest emotional ecstasy we can attain.

    Bob(rdrcomp)and I often talk about being Marines, we also talk about weeping openly as well as being filled with joy.

    Let your emotions flow, Bruce, just don’t let them control you.

    Your friend

  5. Charis says:

    This brought tears to my eyes, Mart.

    Beautiful work fleshing out the scripture for us!

    Thank you. May your tribe increase ! :)

  6. mtman says:

    Thank you Steve: I too was in the military but not the marines – the AF. I am frequently overcome with emotion and they don’t control me but to be totally honest they often move me to action. I just can’t understand how any person can have an emotional disconnect and hoped wordgazer could help me to understand. Thanks again.

  7. Afua says:

    Here we are in 2009 with a “condition” that I saw in the church 3o + years ago, that has in many instances, not been resolved sufficiently as to be the example to the world. For why then is the divorce rate among Christians equal to the non? The cry of the woman and children (and let us not forget some men as well)is that of being seen and not heard. The cycle continues, being passed along from generation to generation.
    This is a complex issue for sure for we are a “stubborn” people; our hearts are hardened; our minds clouded by “rights” and “freedoms” which have little to do with God’s righteousness.

  8. SFDBWV says:

    Charis, While reading my “Days of Praise” (The Institute for Creation Research) I learned the meaning of your name Charis. “Grace.”

    Grace and peace to you today.


  9. Charis says:


    I didn’t read Wordgazer as saying she has no emotions. My take is that she objected to some of the posts on the other thread which characterized men as “logical” while women are “emotional” and appeared to be using that to “prove” that a woman “needs” a man in charge because she is “too easily deceived” by her “emotions”.

    Personally, I am far FAR more emotional than my husband but I consider him handicapped, in a sense. If one is unable to FEEL, then how can one empathize? have compassion? The Psalms are chock full of emotions of every kind and they were written by men weren’t they? Personally, I have seen (so called) “logic” be a serious problem: when one can argue, rationalize, and justify his way out of taking responsibility for the way his own behavior impacts others, its a serious problem. In Greek, there is an interesting word which resembles my experience with just such “pretzel logic”. Its “logismos”:

    “Casting down imaginations[logismos], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Cor 10:5

  10. donjo says:

    My take is that it is ESSENTIAL READING to study David Instone-Brewer’s thoughts on marriage and divorce, as the verses are simply too easy to take out of context and misunderstand. David is a 2nd temple scholar who has collected copies of all surviving marriage and divorce papyrii from this period on his website. He totally changed the way I read some verses.

  11. believer3 says:

    Excellent post. These words should go a long way toward improving charity and respect among men and women.

    Mtman, (7:54 comment) the references you make to emotion are the positive aspects. It is highly doubtful that Wordgazer meant that she is emotionless. It is more likely that she was responding to the demeaning view of women that says women are ruled by their emotions instead of logic.

    No one should be emotionless as you said well. No one should be ruled by imperfect feelings. As well no one should be ruled by unfeeling logic. Women are no more ruled by emotions than men are ruled by unfeeling logic. Both are demeaning statements. Men are as much or perhaps more in danger of emotions running amuk as women are because of testosterone rushes.
    In short, this whole line of reasoning is unproductive for either gender.

  12. Wordgazer says:

    Mtman, it is true that there has been a misunderstanding. I do not keep my emotions completely in check. I am not emotionless– I am actually a deeply sensitive, very emotional person. I simply do not allow my emotions to rule me (most of the time, anyway– I’m not perfect).

    I don’t have time at the moment to go into this in more detail (gotta go to work), but I’ll post more on what I actually meant when I get a break.

  13. cherielyn says:


    Quoting from your first post of the day, “This was a long time ago, I knew that a situation like that is only headed for distruction. I was right. A person can only be caged for just so long until they rebel. Wives rebel,children rebel, because of an overbearing attitude and attempt to “control” anothers life will lead to rebellion.”

    I sure can identify with this. I was brought up in a Brethren church and there was so much legalism. I had a friend who was blond, but genetics gave her naturally dark eyebrows. One Sunday I witnessed one of the older women grab her by the arm & march her down to the bathroom, demanding that she remove the eyebrow pencil from her eyebrows. She tried to protest that she wasn’t using any. The woman wasn’t satisfied until my friend scrubbed her eyebrows until the skin around them was red. The woman didn’t even have the decency to apologize when she was proven wrong.

    Many of the girls in that church became pregnant out of wedlock.

    I agree with you about overbearing attitude & control leading to rebellion. Rebellion is not right because it is sin. Nevertheless, I really believe that the rebellion I experienced & witnessed in others, in that church, could have been avoided, had the leaders & perceived leaders not be so legalistic.

  14. kishablack says:

    Peace n Blessings! I believe we should stick to the ‘blueprint’ of life, the Holy Bible, when looking for help in our everday lives. The instructions aren’t hard, we make them hard by wanting to add or take away. Through scripture we know that man and woman shall become one flesh through marriage. Now as married people, we are one, we must stop adding these second, third, fourth, and so on, people into it. If God be the head of man, and man be the head of woman, then that is all we need. Since the word tells us to submit one to the other as husband and wife, then that is all to it. We are also told that God is not a God of confusion, so if people are not getting it and is having trouble in their marriages, then I suggest to quit spending so much time going to so many different sources other than the Bible, and spend more time in the Bible and on their knees, and pray for correction and strength within their marriage. For those who struggle to read or understand the Bible, believe me when I tell you to stay steadfast in prayer, and God will show up!We must allow yokes to be broken that are keeping us captive from the promise that is there for us. Should we think that God put a marriage together for us to be warring with each other, or to be miserable? No. It is going to take work and we must be open for correction. In Jesus name I pray that the Holy Spirit touch each and every person taken into marriage and give us knowledge, power, strength, correction, and love through our marriages, and teach us to become one flesh. In Jesus name, Amen.

  15. mtman says:

    Thank you all for helping me understand yesterdays post and thank you wordgazer for responding. I will look forward to your next post. I know wordgazer isn’t emotionless but when I look around the world today I personally am often overcome with emotion. It often spurs me to action as I have done with a dog rescue as a volunteer. Same with children, we sponsor two in Honduras. I wish I could help more but I realize there are limits.
    It just seems to me that I’m more than not over come by emotion. Especially when I see all the hurt and pain around me. When I read confused’s post I sat here with a flood of tears. I could not respond because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing in any attempt to give her comfort. Instead I prayed for her. I have been where she is and I know how it is to be emotionally devastated. To feel helpless in a situation. My first wife left me and there was nothing I could do about it. The guy she left me for did not work out for her and it was to late at that point to turn back. Divorce is ugly. In my case it really worked out for the best in the long run and for that I am grateful. I have a truly wonderful wife.
    I seem to be overcome with emotion more often than not and because of that it prompts me to reach out. I don’t seem to have any control over emotions but they do not rule me either. I look forward to wordgazer’s response and truly appreciate her taking the time to help me understand this issue. With what happens today it is hard to isolate myself from it even here on the side of our mountain. Thank you all for the clarification.

  16. believer3 says:

    kishablack, if only it were all so easy. :) There really is no such thing as a ‘plain reading’ unless you were born and lived in the days when these particular words of the Bible were written. Because we were not born and have not lived in those times, then we tend to apply modern meanings to ancient words, thereby changing their meanings.

    So then, what do you think it means when 1 Cor. says that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God? Notice the different wording that you gave than what Scripture says. Why do you change the wording and eliminate the last part?

    And what do you think it means that husband and wife are to be one flesh?

  17. poohpity says:

    If we say we believe the bible yet in our own homes we treat others without love, compassion, forgiveness, empathy and respect than our words are useless. It is harder to show our love for Christ to those we are closer to than anyone outside. Now with tears in my eyes I have to say I need to practice what I preach. I want so bad to show the love of Christ to others and if I can not show it to those closest to me my faith is nothing but hypocrisy. What we do behind closed doors says more about us than anything. Even some of the posts we read on this blog show who we really are and the grace and mercy of our Lord is not evident.

    Drawing people to faith in Jesus Christ is shown by our action more than our words. In marriages or any other relationship that is our witness. The divorce rate is just one of the symptoms.

    If we took time before we get married to really get to know someone and watch their behavior we might not jump into marriage so quickly. The ones that already have, it takes a lot of work and that work will not be so hard if both parties make a point of putting the Lord first because He can heal anyone. Putting up with abuse is not what the Lord meant when he said, “Love others as you love yourself”. What are people teaching the children that watch abuse, you are teaching them that it is alright to have someone treat them badly.

    I fell in love with Christ because of the love He felt for me and He accepted me just as I am. That is what we need to show to others not the arguments over words it is the theme that counts and that theme is in Genesis to Revelation.

  18. Hope1218 says:

    Although, I realize the focus of this article was the role of submission in marriage, which by the way to all the single men … the Bible does not say women are to submit to men but wives to their husbands … I wanted to add something regarding the abuse. As you very accurately pointed out, abuse is present in the Christian home. Abuse is all about power and control and the emotional piece of it is the failure to exercise self-control over those emotions particularly anger, insecurity, disappointment and fear. Emotions are a part of who we are and Our Savior was an emotional being (Jesus wept), however, He did not make decisions based upon His emotions. Scripture does not ask us to be without emotion, “Be angry but sin not,” but calls us to make decisions based upon the truth.

    I want to make one more point. Sadly, abuse from women toward men is also present in Christian and non-Christian homes. Sometimes it is physical and it carries a great deal of shame for men who want to do right by God. It also involves verbal abuse and other forms of manipulation. The cycle is the same. I just wanted to point this out because there is so much stigma and shame involved in divorce and I just wanted those men who are on the receiving in to know that God never intended for them to be victims in marriage either due to the “wickedness of women.”

    Peace to all.

  19. Mart De Haan says:

    I realized while writing this that I was once again addressing male-abuse of women without acknowledging the opposite. You are definitely correct in saying that it can go both ways. Words can be like knives and guns in anyone’s hands, man or woman.

  20. rokdude5 says:

    My personal experience is that marriage doesn’t stay balanced but it waxes and wanes. I, too, agree with your views, Mart. I do know that as a guy, there are times “I just don’t get it” as my wife puts it. I know I need to be told what she wants. There are times I think she wants me to read her mind but I can’t. (I think I must have missed school the day they taught that.)

    I Peter 4:10 comes to my mind when it comes to my marriage. I don’t have all the gifts that she has and she doesn’t have my gifts. So as long like you said, Mart, LOVINGLY serve one another, we will exemplify what God wants us to do.

    A side note to all of the guys here: Go and buy some flowers for your ladies. Just the fact it isn’t any special occasion makes it all the better.

  21. kaliko88 says:

    I missed out on most of that discussion. I was able to read the post but not the comments. They’re back now, and I’ll have to go over them later. I’m not even sure why I’m commenting now. With my marriage in such a mess so recently, this subject is painful, and I feel like I don’t have a right perspective to even lend any ideas. But as much as I could wish that this was the end of the subject for a while, I’ve learned that when a issue of discussion is uncomfortable, it’s probably God poking and proding me, and I should actually pay more attention.

    There is a word in this discussion that keeps making very brief appearances, but that I think is more accurate to how a marriage should be. It is what I strive for at least in my own actions towards my husband. Compliment. I am not just supposed to be a servant or a helper, I am not only supposed to love and cherish, I am supposed to be a completion to him. We are to be a compliment, almost like the missing piece of ourselves. I think the illustration of the head and body is appropriate. It is how the church is described as well. Alone and acting on our own we can only do a limited amount. Working together, complimenting each other’s talents, we can accomlish much. But while we each contribute, there must always be a ‘head’, a place where final decisions are made, otherwise there would be chaos. The same is true of a marriage and family.

    It is how I wish it was for myself. It is what I believe, after study and thought, God’s word teaches. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I am far wrong. And I don’t think it applies just to marriage but to other types of relationships as well. And I can pray all I want, but if I don’t pray rightly, it isn’t going to help much. I find myself modifying my prayers lately. It is too tempting to get too specific and try to ask God to bully my husband. ‘Make him change this’ or ‘get him to apologize for this’, or other such nonsense. I simply pray now that God will touch his heart, and that he will be softened as I was.

    You are right Mart, that if attitudes are right, a marriage can be a wonderful thing. I just have to learn to only try to shape my own attitude, and hope it is an attractive encouragement and not a spiteful tool.

  22. donjo says:

    I think you mean complement, not compliment.

  23. poohpity says:

    When we do not know how or what to pray we have a great intercessor and He knows what we need and what is God’s will. He will pray for us and as seen above from all, we need intercession. My heart goes out to all who have and are suffering from hurt from others.

  24. poohpity says:

    I do not think now is the time for an english lesson especially when people are pouring out their hearts.

  25. Charis says:

    Mark L, Rhonda, and Mart,

    About wives abusing husbands. I have been there and done that at times. I have said mean things I regret. I have even lashed out physically on a half dozen occasions. The problem is that the bad theology fed the problem rather than helping. Because I felt so entirely POWERLESS in my marriage, I had no voice, no say, and my husband used Bible verses, and various doctrines quite abusively at times- for male privilege, to make whatever decisions he wanted, and to avoid doing things which really were needs for me and the children (like fix the heat, buy a car which would fit all the 8 children legally, etc).

    Honestly, I think if women knew that we DO HAVE AUTHORITY in our marriages, it would go a long way to help us to manage our authority properly. But feeling like I have NONE, it feels like being an animal in a cage and at times I acted like an animal fighting against the cage. I would like to see Christian women FREE of these cages. After all, Jesus came to set the captives FREE, didn’t He?

    I read Lundy Bancroft “Why does he DO that?”. Its not expressly Christian, but his respect and protectiveness toward women strike me as very Christ-like. And he speaks of fundamentalism and male entitlement as feeding the abuse of women and I AGREE with him! My husband could point at me and call me “abusive” and I might hang my head and have to admit its true, but he has 3 fingers pointing right back at him. And isn’t it sad that I- a fundamentalist Christian woman- have to read a secular writer to find someone who understands? Shouldn’t the church be the “leaders” in respecting and protecting women? Lots of the men in Bancroft’s abuse recovery groups had been physically attacked by their female partners. The difference was, it was annoying and they felt disrespected, but they did not fear for their LIVES and the lives of their children. He boils the difference down to power and control- abuse is used to maintain entitlements, to assert power and control. He has three circles for husband wife and children. In the abusive system, the husband circle is huge and the wife and children circles are tiny. In a healthy family, the wife and children are valued, protected, respected, and the circles are all close to the same size. I liked that illustration, and I think Jesus looks down and values and respects wives and children every bit as much as men.

  26. mtman says:

    A book I read years ago that had a favorable impact on me was called Irregular People by Joyce Lansdorf. Some people are just irregular and she tells how best to deal with them. I don’t even know if it is in print any longer.
    I’m with Pooh, there are so many people hurting and when I hear these stories poured out I hurt too…

  27. Tamar says:


    You write,

    “I deeply respect those men and women who use an “authority and submission” arrangement of marriage as a way of showing mutual respect and sacrificial love for one another. I’m convinced that when the attitudes of Christ (and the fruit of his Spirit) are the dominant marks of relationships in the home or church, those attitudes will give a new heart and meaning to our relationships regardless of whether we believe there is a God-given authority and chain-of-command, or not.”

    I would like to remark on the ultimate danger of teaching an authority and submission relationship. I too am from the Brethren but my husband was Presbyterian. I thought that we would have a traditional marriage with the wife being the mistress of the home, who graciously defered to her husbands needs while she managed the home according to the traditional patterns.

    However, my husband wanted a pure authority and submission relationship. I was to offer absolute obedience, but only when he asked for it, of course. I could make many decisions myself, until, on a whim, he wanted to make the decisions and demanded absolute authority.

    He desired a state in which we were truly one in flesh and spirit. To him this would be best attained by the obliteration of my will.

    He was controlled and after the first punch in the face resulting in a bruise, he never hit me in a visible place again. Of course, this restricted me to long sleeve shirts for most of my marriage, and no shorts.

    For twenty years I was subjected to this spiritual, physical and emotional abuse, as he sought to bring me in line with his will.

    Authority and submission are a vile cocktail for power, and have no more place within the Christian home than dominance and submission and other forms of bondage. That others can use these terms respectfully is like saying that marijuana should be legalized as long as no one inhales.

    How can you or any other preacher prevent a young man from inhaling the drug of absolute power offered by the authority and submission paradigm. It is a hsame to all Christian communities and must be eradicated.

    The flipside of this may be that women who see men as terribly fallible human beings simply see the only solution as one of taking over power themselves to preempt a life of utter humiliation. I believe this paradigm contributes to female on male abuse as well, as some women simply feel they cannot afford to give their husbands any power at all.

    Frankly I hold anyone who teaches or approves of the teaching of “authority and submission” to be responsible for the violent dominance and submission tragedies that do exist in Christian homes.

    As you can see, it will be many years before I recover from the humiliation that I experienced. And yet I count myself fortunate that I was not subjected to limitless pregnancies and working restrictions. My abuse was more in the realm of the physical and emotional.

    I appreciate everything you have written here except that in those last few paragraphs you have abandoned my former self to prison. Once again, I am on the floor curled up, being kicked and berated. I am no hero. I snivelled and begged. I brought myself low. I lived with that man for 27 years. I spent the last 15 years inproving my education, getting a job, a car, a bank account, a plan.

    But I did not leave until my oldest, our son, left. He ran away – more wisdom to him. I then left and created a home and he came back.

    I beg you to take a stand against the evil and outrage on women, the absolutely terrible teaching of authority and submission. A teaching which brings to mind raw power and total slavery.

  28. donjo says:

    In Eph 5, the husband is called to SACRIFICE, not use authority, and this is paired with a wife’s submission. So the authority/submission teaching is non-Biblical; it should be a sacrifice/submission teaching.

  29. Tamar says:

    I want to add that all this time, for 27 years, we attended an evangelical church, led Bible studies, taught Sunday school, etc. My former husband was from a missionary family.

    I honestly believe that he had a sincere belief in Christ, he read his Bible and prayed, he cried and despaired. But no one ever told him that as a Christian he should not be the “authority.” No one ever told him that a wife was not a slave, a submissive assistant, who existed to fulfill all his needs. It never occurred to him that a woman could have ambition, career aspirations, that a woman was a human being in ways that men are.

    He was astounded when I simply told him that I was a human who had ambitions as well. He was not the only one. But it was too late. He cried that he could never give up his need for control, he could not treat me as an equal. It was impossible for him.

    This was not just an intemperate man. This was a man who had been poorly served by the teaching he heard from the pulpit every week. His core beliefs about women had been formed in the church and in his home.

    His father is petty and controlling person, who is manipulated by an intelligent and powerful wife. She too abused her children. But she told me to accept authority and submission, at the same time as she was begging her brother to get her husband and son to a psychiatrist.

    It is an empty shell this Christian life I have seen.

  30. Mart De Haan says:

    Tamar, thank you for telling some of your story. It is painful to read but so important for us to hear. It resonates so much with what we heard before and after releasing the booklet and 4 part video series that can be read and streamed on-line at http://www.dod.org/search.aspx?keyword=abuse

  31. Tamar says:

    Many people have told me that I must accept the “authority and submission” paradigm as equally valid. However, I can’t. It is the instrument used to bludgeon many women.

  32. SFDBWV says:

    Cheryl, yes we agree, sin begets sin. Christ came to tell us that love begets love and showed us a better way. But that old nature is a powerful force.

    I am so saddened to read all the broken hearts out here. Marriage isn’t supposed to be that way. Life shouldn’t be that way.

    But we need to place the blame where it belongs…Sin…
    No one would abuse another if they were following Christ’s example and living for Christ. We can’t blame God, this is sin.

    Glenna lived in Saudi Arabia for several years. If you think women are abused under misled christian men, take a look at Islam and women under muslim law. It is horrible. Their men think also that they are obeying Allah as they even murder their own daughters for dishonoring them.

    Hold tight to the Christ, I am in prayer for all of you that hurt.


  33. Tamar says:


    I am unaware of anyone blaming God. I am not aware of anyone in this list who is blaming God.

    I am saying that one small step would be to speak against marriage as an authority and submission relationship. Is that too much?

  34. poohpity says:

    I believe that is what Mart has been addressing all along. Many here beleive that everyone needs to treat each other with the love and care our Savior has given us. Many articles from Our Daily Bread and Day of Discovery address those issues with so much understanding and love and respect for both genders.

  35. Wordgazer says:

    Mtman wrote:

    Thank you all for helping me understand yesterdays post and thank you wordgazer for responding. I will look forward to your next post. I know wordgazer isn’t emotionless but when I look around the world today I personally am often overcome with emotion. It often spurs me to action as I have done with a dog rescue as a volunteer. Same with children, we sponsor two in Honduras.

    Not only am I not emotionless, Mtman, but I am frequently overcome with emotion even as you are. It is interesting that though you are a man and I’m a woman, both of us do know what it is to truly, deeply feel– there really is not a major difference between us in the area of emotion based on our genders.

    I have found, though, that if I respond with any emotion (such as defensiveness, which it’s all too easy to let rise within me) to someone who claims that because I’m a woman, I am controlled by my emotions– I am simply confirming what they believe about me. I find that I simply must respond with logic and reason to claims like that– and I find that I can do so, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    I will say that I am completely appalled by stories such as Tamar shared. I am filled with grief and outrage that a woman should be treated this way by a Christian man, or that the Bible should be used to justify such treatment. I stated before that the Christ-Church/Husband-Wife analogy must necessarily be limited. The husband is NOT to the wife, everything Christ is to the Church. The question, then, is where exactly do we set the limit? To what extent does the Bible teach that the husband is to the wife as Christ is to the Church? Donjo hit the nail on the head. The Bible limits the analogy to sacrifice and love on the part of the husband, and submission and respect on the part of the wife. These are the ways the husband’s relationship to the wife is like Christ’s to the church– the husband is to lay down his life for the wife (other teachings Christ gave on laying down one’s life make it clear this means death to self in all areas) and to love her, and she is to yield to him and respect him. That he is the “head” and she the “body” is a unity metaphor. “Head” was not a word commonly used to mean “authority” in ancient Greek. Instead, as the “head” the husband is in a place of prominence (very much so in that culture, but it is still so in many ways in our own). He was (and is) to use his place of prominence to nourish and care for his wife– not to rule her.

    Christ rules the Church (lovingly of course); He also saves her, redeems her, and receives her worship. But the passage in Ephesians 5 does not mention any of these things– not even rulership. It mentions only sacrifice and love.

    As for a Christian’s relationship to his/her emotions– I am taking my thoughts from the book of Galatians. Galatians 5:22-25 lists the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, etc. (including self-control). Then it says that those who are in Christ “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.” Emotions, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. They are just part of being human. But when we let them become “passions” that control us, then we are giving in to the sinful nature. By “controlling my emotions” I did not mean that I do not let them have free rein when it is appropriate to do so– only that there are times I make a conscious choice, an act of my will, not to do what my emotions are telling me to do, but to do what I know is right. And I know that basing a decision entirely on emotion will almost always lead to a bad decision. I must use reason, and I must follow the principles the Scriptures give.

    I cannot do this in my own strength. But when I walk in the Spirit, then He enables me to walk in self-control. Also, what God wants when I am experiencing overwhelming negative emotion is for me to pour out my heart to Him, as the Psalmists did– I do not suppress my emotions, I simply come to Him in prayer and express them to Him in full, so that He can bring me back to a place of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit– rather than inflicting my negative emotions on others. I’m not saying I never lose control; I’m not saying I always walk in the Spirit– but I believe it’s His will that I continue to try to improve in this. When Christians surrender their emotions to God and ask the Spirit to lead them, we are not subject to the control of our emotions, however deeply we may feel those emotions.

    I hope this makes it clearer what I was talking about. I believe all Christians, male and female, are equally called to “rule our emotions” rather than be ruled by them– not suppressing them, but by letting Christ be Lord of our emotions. I believe males and females are equally capable of doing so, and of bearing “the fruit of the Spirit, which is. . . self control.”

  36. postonc says:

    After reading many of the comments, I’m somewhat embarrassed to even believe my current problems are as intense as they seem to me right now. I do have a couple of comments. It seems to me that the man has a greater responsibility to set the tone for the marriage being the stronger vessel (if I remember that correctly) and has ownership of ensuring God guides the one flesh. I know this is a bizarre thought but if Adam was doing that maybe Eve would have checked with Adam before partaking. Just a thought.

  37. postonc says:

    sorry, hit the send buttom to soon.. my second comment is I don’t believe I would have ever sought the LORD with the passion I do now if it were not for this trial.

  38. mtman says:

    Wordgazer: Thank you for amplifying your comments of yesterday. I have read them very carefully and I have a better perspective now and I believe I clearly understand where you are coming from. I totally agree with you! I rule my emotions or else I would have every broken child, every ill teated dog to care for. I know I can’t do that (reason) but it doesn’t make the pain any less that I suffer for those who can’t speak for themselves. Your explanation now makes very good sense to me. Also when accompanied by scripture. Thank you for taking the time to clarify this and I am sure it will help others as they read it too.
    When I read posts like Tamar above it touches my heart deeply. I think abuse does go both ways but more often than not it is the woman who is suppressed or abused. We humans and Christians included are equal opportunity abusers. We got a telephone from my brother in law in NY that he was in an adjacent check out line and an elderly woman with a walker was in the next line and she lacked the money to pay for her groceries. A young man behind her was yelling at her for holding him up. It so upset my B in L that he pulled out a twenty and gave it to the clerk for the woman and walked out shaking with anger. A just emotion in my opinion. It just seems that there is very little love or compassion in the world today and so very many folks are focused only on themselves.
    Thank you so much for taking your time to enlighten me – I really appreciate it. Your post was excellent.

  39. Charis says:

    Dear Mart,

    I prayed hard for you today, for wisdom and insight as you write and teach… Your words and your heart give me a lot of hope. I hope many will get the message. It grieves me deeply what passes for “christian teaching” out there and the pain that I know it will bring to people (from first hand experience). But you are really speaking words of life and I hope many will hear you and those like you instead of the shiny looking fruit which leads to death.


    (((((Tamar)))))) so sorry :(

    postonc, did you see I left a note for you near the end of the submission thread? a couple resources which might be helpful…

  40. believer3 says:

    ”It seems to me that the man has a greater responsibility to set the tone for the marriage being the stronger vessel (if I remember that correctly) and has ownership of ensuring God guides the one flesh. I know this is a bizarre thought but if Adam was doing that maybe Eve would have checked with Adam before partaking. Just a thought.”

    Maybe’s are always thought provoking. But we are not God. If God had wanted the woman to be checking with the man before she did anything, He would have told her to. He did not. Neither did God tell the man to oversee the woman.

    A man’s strength, as in a stronger vessel, would be in his body, which is the vessel for our souls. Yes, husband’s should use their stronger bodies to provide and protect the less strong wife. But both husband and wife are responsible for their input into the relationship of marriage. Frankly, I have not seen anything in Scripture that suggests that men have ownership of God’s guidance for the relationship. God speaks to both husband and wife. And each are responsible to God. When God chose Mary, God spoke to Mary, not her father or fiancé. Each individual is responsible before God for the choices they make in life. And that example was also seen in Adam and Eve’s sins.

  41. SFDBWV says:

    Tamar, It is the word of God that is in question here and has been reguarding submission. The interpetation of God’s intentions are what we have been trying to understand. Is God wrong in what he has said by way of the inspired word? Or is what he said been used improperly as an excuse for cruel domination?

    I will restate what I said earlier, anyone who is abusive to another is not following the example of Christ, nor living for Christ.

    I would say your husband would have been an abuser wether he was a pretend christian or not. Most men who beat their wives don’t need an excuse to do it. They like doing it and feeling the power.

    I am sorry you stayed and endured the suffering. I have known many women who stayed, or go back. And I admit I have never understood why.

  42. Wordgazer says:

    Mtman, thank you very much for your kind words.

    SFBVW, I think that leaving an abusive relationship is very much harder than it looks from the outside. A woman in that situation has largely been stripped of her self-confidence; she’s had her beliefs in herself as a person of worth and dignity torn to shreds. When you are in that weakened position, it is very hard to take any kind of initiative at all, let alone the drastic life-change (and danger!) of leaving a man who will consider it a personal affront that you did so.

  43. sjd says:

    Tamar and others,

    It grieves me to hear of your experience and of so many others. I agree with you that the Church does a great disservice to continue to promote the “authority, submission” design that has been defined by many here and that you and many others have experienced. If we brothers and sisters in Christ allow these type of relationships to carry on under our knowledge, and promote the teaching of such abuses, we are guilty of dishonoring men and women and more importantly our Lord. I am afraid much of our “worship” together as a community of believers is so tainted with sin, that it is repulsive to our Lord. If it wasn’t for the blood of Christ and His amazing mercy and grace that He continues to shower on us, we all might be “asleep” as some were in the Corinthian Church who were dishonoring the body of Christ.

    I do not agree with many of the conclusions that are being made regarding the design of marriage as seen in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere, yet I agree with much of the applications. I see that God is a God of order and I see this within all of creation, as well as the family and the Church. Even within the Trinity, I see roles that are lovingly lived out amongst equals that are One. Yet, I do not see this forum to be the time or place for me to try to explain my take on this. There is too much pain evidenced here and I am afraid that I may be misunderstood and do not want to in any way inflict more pain than has already been felt in your various relationships. Each of us must look to God and I must submit to Him as I see Him leading me, and that is always to be in love, honoring the other individual above myself, as I die and Christ lives in me, seeking for them to experience all of Christ in them.

    This is part of Mart’s statement that I agree with “I’m convinced that when the attitudes of Christ (and the fruit of his Spirit) are the dominant marks of relationships in the home or church, those attitudes will give a new heart and meaning to our relationships…” I also do not like his use of words, “authority” and “chain of command” as they have very derogatory connotations for many as has been seen in these past few days of blogging. Somewhere I believe there is ground in the middle where maybe we can come to agree.

    Christ can live out his life in these bodies of ours to bring glory to God as He truly deserves. The hindrance to our properly glorifying/worshiping God and glorifying/worshiping God by loving others is one thing, self! I pray for those men and women that are abusing their opportunities to glorify God by not loving and respecting, in the power and person of Christ, that they will be convicted and wake up to the beauty of what God has planned out to exemplify His love in this world.

    I thank those of you who have shared your pain. I will pray for you. You bring to us an awareness of the ugliness of sin’s effect in marriages. He so cares for each one and wants us not only to experience Heaven one day and the freedom from so much pain, but also wants us to experience Him today. I am learning that more each day thanks to many like you all. May God comfort you all today.

  44. postonc says:

    Charis, yes I did and I’ve been to both sights… I’ve received the link to Why Baggage Never Matters… I should have thanked you earlier. I must tell you it is something I have not received from anyone else in my journey.. something practical… I thank you again.

  45. cherielyn says:


    I am so torn up by the experiences you have shared with us, especially your closing comment, “It is an empty shell this Christian life I have seen.”

    A husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Can you picture Christ punching ot beating someone, so that they have to hide the bruises? Can you imagine Christ using physical, emotional and spiritual abuse against you? Can you picture Christ kicking and berating you while you are curled up on the floor trying to protect yourself?

    This is no picture of the Christ of the Bible!

    What your husband did to you is no reflection of Christ at all. Because of his treatment of you, you have a distorted view of what the Christian life is supposed to be.

    You will be in my earnest prayers. I pray that your mind will someday be healed of the torturous memories of the past. I won’t go into more details, but want you to know that I’ve been there, except for the fact that my abuser was not a Christian.


  46. Tamar says:

    I do not think of what happened to me as unique. I also do not think that what happened to me reflects on God or Christ in any way. I do believe that until “authority and submission,” which is just another way to say “ruler and subject,” is rejected as a viable paradigm for marriage, women will taste the dirt in their mouths. For some, they will turn this on their husband.

    It is a vicious teaching, but I see that most people prefer their paradigms to the gentle teaching of the real Christ.


    Thank you for everything that you have written inh this post. One day I pray that you will understand that not only the lucky few women deserve the treatment you have described – but ALL women deserve to be treated as human beings, as equals.

    It is not enough to say that as long as the practice is correct the teaching does not matter. We cannot say that slavery is okay as long as the slave owner is kind. Likewise, to ask total submission even to a “kind” master, is still dehumanizing.

    I pray that God will rescue women from the church.

  47. abe says:

    I pray that God will rescue women from the church.

    Amen, sister! We should make it a mantra:


  48. Wordgazer says:

    Tamar wrote:

    We cannot say that slavery is okay as long as the slave owner is kind.

    I agree. Just as we no longer take the verses in Ephesians 5 about slaves and masters as some kind of Biblical mandate or approval of slavery (but rather as God working with structures as they existed at that time, with a view to transcending them), so we must not take the authority structures of the ancient husband-wife relationship as they existed in the Bible, as mandates for husband-wife relationships today. Sure, husbands were in charge in Ephesus, which is part of why Paul tells women to submit “as to Christ” (slaves also are to consider themselves to be serving Christ) — but he plants the seed of transcendence by deliberately using the word “kephale” (head) rather than “arche” (ruler) to describe husbands and wives (along with the concept of wife as being like the husband’s own body) and then uses the word “submit” (yield) rather than the word “obey” to the wives.

  49. kaliko88 says:

    Tamar, I am sorry for what you have gone through, and I am glad you have now made a more peaceful life for yourself. But this is a discussion on what the authority/submission teaching really means, not an advocacy of it, and certainly not to give credence to the use it has been put by people like your ex-husband. It does not mean the same thing to others that it currently does to you, and in fact there are so many layers to the discussion that I don’t think there is anyone who completely agrees with each other on every point. But that is why it is being discussed, to compare, contrast, learn, and discern what the teaching really means.

    And I for one do not need rescuing from ‘the church’. I need, and have received, rescue from ‘sin’. (Thank you, Steve.) To be honest, if it had not been for my church family, I’d have killed myself long ago. I am quite well aware how completely fortunate I am that I have found a church that believes in the bible completely and so far does a smashing job of following Jesus and God’s word, and that others are not so lucky. But knowing that there are wonderful churches out there to be found makes me want to remind others of that.

  50. daisymarygoldr says:

    I am in great pain…to hear the stories shared on this page and the way marriage in balance has been interpreted.

    kaliko88, I am assuring you of my daily prayers…for some reason I feel very close to you. I wish from the bottom of my heart that God will restore back the original love in your marriage.

    Tamar, you are too precious for God. Be assured, healed and satisfied with His love which cannot be compared to any other love! You are being prayed for…

    Charis, I have been praying for you ever since you shared your story at “marriage disconnect?” Praying for God to fulfill all the desires of your heart…

    Mart, I also deeply respect everything that you have suggested above, though I do not agree with anything you have said. If abusive men are the problem, you have to teach a man to be a man and not a woman to be a woman. However, I do believe that you are doing all of this from the goodness of your heart and I will only pray that this perspective of yours will in some way bring hope and healing to shattered lives.

    As for me and my family we have chosen to follow the Lord…to walk in the ancient path…the straight and narrow way….of marriage marked with unconditional love…of giving in and giving up of self…of sticking together through thick and thin, for better or for worse…until death does us apart.

    “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of “equality” with God as something to cling to. Instead, He “gave up” His divine privileges…He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor…” (Phil 2:5-9)

  51. daisymarygoldr says:

    My siblings and I were never taught lessons on marriage and we had never attended any marriage prep or for the matter any course on marriage. My parents are a living witness of a marriage ordained by God. They are far from perfect people… people of like passions…life was not a bed of roses for them…and their marriage is certainly not one long extended honeymoon. They had a fair share of conflicts and the typical stress of raising a family all by themselves in a far place… away from their extended families. No matter how fierce the storm they never ever caved in or got wrecked. Professionally, they are both equal, yet my father still is the leader who never makes a decision without consulting my mother. My mother still is the submissive wife who always directed us with “Ask your father and do what he says”. Spiritually, she is the one with the greater faith and can recite whole passages from the Bible, including Ps 119… yet it is my father who always preaches at church and even writes little messages for her to share at her women’s Bible study! I have never seen them cuddle or whisper words of love…yet we all felt secure and healthy in the strong love of God they shared with each other.

    As far as my marriage is concerned…we still have a l-o-n-g way to go. The way I am here in this blog is exactly how I am at home. Attitudes? They some how conveniently fly out of the window…when I’m in the middle of an emotional mess. And when my husband says mean things to me…it is with much shame that I admit… to retorting back with “knives and guns”. Yet his love covers all my faults. Regardless of conflicts or disagreements we have never considered changing anything the Bible says about marriage. We have not yet perfected God’s original design for marriage but by His grace we are learning to yield…for Him to work out His will for our lives….and I am learning to submit and respect. Flowers or no flowers…Love is unconditional ….not the fair-weather kind of love…but the love that seals a covenant. A covenant which is not just between the two of us but a covenant which God Himself established to put us together… with Him as our center! I’m sure all of this must be sounding Greek and Latin to all of you here…thankfully, God is merciful and full of grace. He does not show partiality or holds back…if we are willing to learn from Him… He will certainly give us wisdom and will also help us to walk in His right way.

  52. daisymarygoldr says:

    Correction: If abusive men are the problem, you have to teach a man to be a man and not a woman to be a man.

  53. Mart De Haan says:

    When you say you respect what I’m trying to do but don’t agree with anything I’ve said, are you saying that you think I’ve misrepresented the Scriptures in every one of my attempts at 12 summary statements?

    Also, to others,I might have gone too far in my conclusions about “attitudes” and those who see “authority” and “chain-of-command”. I was trying to respond to a starting point similar to what I think Paul was facing. If something cannot be changed quickly (i.e. either a social order as existed in the first century, or a deep conviction held as a matter of faith before God) then the Apostle seemed to go for a change of heart (i.e. Matt 5; Gal 5:22-23; James 3:17-18) within the “unchangeable” circumstance.

    At the same time, I can now see that my conclusion may sound as if I could accept an authority-based or chain-of-command relationship as equal to “showing the attitudes” of Christ. That would reflect an unfortunate lack of clarity and misstatement on my part. But I won’t change it now, so that the conversation and testing that follows will make sense.

  54. kbutterfly says:

    I have been reading through all the comments. Having been in 2 abusive relationships this is a very moving conversation. Raised in a christian home, my first efforts have always been to seek Godly counsel and try to repair the marriage. The church was quick to tell me to leave the relationship, which if I had of been in my pastors position, I would have done the same thing. During the divorce process the emotional and physical abuse did not stop. At times I put the divorce on hold just to get a break. I moved and joined another church, my husband at the time joined the same church. He was baptised and begged the church to get involved to save our marriage. I repeatedly told the church to leave me alone, and that they did not understand how dangerous this man was. I finally had to tell them I would be forced to file a complaint if the assistant pastor did not leave me alone.

    Years later I married again. Even though I had been through much counseling I again, chose to marry a very selfish and controling man. He was extremely subtle in his emotional abuse through our 2 and a half years of dating. After we were married it only took about 1 year before he physically abused me. After many years of counseling, well meaning advice and lack of support from family, the church, clergy and government systems I am doing the only thing I can do, trust in my God who loves me so – who will never leave me nor deceive me.

    In closing, there are no easy answers to this. Each relationship is different. Some men and women are hard hearted, hard to reach and rebelious to teaching. I cannot say that I have always acted in the most Christlike manner in dealing with these situations, however if I have learned anything from all this I have learned that God is still creating in me the good work He started. Before anyone feels sorry for me, I assure you that I am the most at peace that I have ever been in my life.
    Sometimes God has his own way of handeling things, reaching people. I have learned to wait on God, to not be afraid, to say that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and when I have done all to stand; I will stand. No weapon that is formed against me will prosper because of who my God is. If He be for me who can come against me. This is my God in whom I will trust.
    I know God never wanted me to be harmed, but I aslo know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
    Enjoy yourselves to day – because He lives!!!
    With the love of Christ to you all,

  55. SFDBWV says:

    Wordgazer, Of course you are correct. Easy for me, a man on the outside of an abusive situation, to not fully understand the dynamics of a woman trapped in such a situation. I certainly in no way mean to lessen the seriousness of the matter. Thank you for your patience.

    I have stated before I have been a Municipal Court Judge for now 36 years. Don’t be impressed. It’s a small town and goes with the job of being Mayor. The thing is, I have put men in jail for years who beat their wives. Only to have the wife, recant her story or attempt to drop charges. I have helped arrange for women to get into safe houses, only later to see them go back to their husbands. I have even known women who like being dominated by a man. Who not only endure beatings but in some twisted way, it is part of the attraction they find in such relationships. These are the extreams and the darker side of real life.

    We are suppose to find a better society living inside the Church. But the truth is that the same conduct found outside the Church is very much inside the church. There are wife
    beaters,murders,thieves,liars,alcoholics,drug addics,psycopaths of every degree setting in pews in churches every where.

    The first step for all sinners is found is seeking release from the grip sin has on them. Jesus Christ is the only way sin can be defeated by people in slavery to the chains of sin.

    I will NOT pick up the chant mentioned by some earlier, as “God save women from the church.” That is misplaced anger. Rather my prayer is for God to mend hearts, purge sin from His Church, heal broken lives. My prayer is genderless.

    To all of the women who have bared their pain here on the blog. I am very sorry for your suffering. I pray that your own paticular situations are resolved by answered prayer. That you find peace.

    Forgiveness, is hard to find when tied down to the weight of anger.

  56. Charis says:


    Thanks for praying for me :)

    Things are really very much better in my marriage now. I suppose, the next area of healing for me is the hurt from not receiving any “good news” from the institution calling itself “church” when it came to the realities of marriage. Sadly, I see my leaving the church (though my love for the Lord has never waned) was a powerful motivator, a wake up call for my husband that I was not going to live with the status quo for another 26 years. He could not use “religion” to shame, guilt, nor control me anymore, nor was I impressed with his “appeal to the authority” of institutional “allies” to “put me in my place”. Nowadays, he actually listens to my input and correction. I have even seen what I consider miraculous: the development of genuine kindness and consideration.

    Another aspect of being a woman is that I think we do tend to remember emotionally intense and/or traumatic episodes for a very long time. Scripture twice mentions Mary “treasuring up these things in her heart” (in Luke 2). So, with a marriage history which includes unfaithfulness, alcohol abuse, verbal abuse, sexual coercion, some domestic violence toward me and toward the children, etc, I am left with some “triggers” or “buttons” which he hits at times. Its mostly “old” and the unfaithfulness is very old (1990). He has changed now, but sometimes the insecurity, the fear that he is moving that way again still rises… Maybe someday my buttons will heal? I wouldn’t mind your praying for that.

    I don’t hold him accountable for porn use, but he mentioned recently that he hasn’t been using, and I think he’s a much better husband when he isn’t filling his mind with those lies.

    Thanks for your prayers,

  57. postonc says:

    I am becoming confused, frustrated and disheartened by this discussion. I am fairly new (4 yrs) to seeking to know God through His Word which I believed would establish His Truth in my life. His Word of Truth being absolute. My wife has been saved for 25 yrs so it was my belief that if I sought God’s Word in earnest that we would talk the same language… the Truth of God, which would be the catalyst in saving our marriage. She would understand my heart and I hers. It seems to me now that many who have commented here have sought that Truth for many years and yet still are not understood as they intended or disagree with each other on putting His Word into practice. How can that be?

  58. Tamar says:


    I want to say that I do appreciate what you have written here. It takes enormous effort to shift one’s views on these things.

    I did want to articulate a little about what it feels to be on the underside of the authority submission paradigm because I don’t think men can imagine well what it would be like to live in, sleep in and function within, a relationship of submission in the home. It contravenes the Golden Rule to treat women as if they are created for submission and men for authority. I am trying to say that these things are not neutral. There is an active harm from this teaching.

    I also want to say that there is a grave misunderstanding about why women stay in abusive relationships. Other women I know who have been abused are now lawyers and administrators themselves. One woman is now preparing her application to be a federal judge. But she told me that she was relieved that her ex husband, a minister, left her because she could never have left him. He did want to come back after only a couple of weeks, but in that time she was able to organize herself to resist.

    I don’t really know how a woman who has always envisioned herself as a married woman, whose religious community treats single/divroced women as second class, who has no training or income, who has been taught that women are without authority, can be expected to establish her independence from an abusive man.

    I do know that when my husband was charged with assault he lived apart for several months but I did take him back to the dismay of the police. I was not ready to take on a new social identity or share custody and see him take the children every second Sat. But I did work and plan to be independent in the future.

    It is a very difficult thing and the Christian community needs to encourage all women to acquire and maintain a marketable skill, to have contact with others, to have their own authority and identity.

    I don’t believe that I wanted to be dominated, but from the outside I would have fit the classic stereotype of an abused woman.

    Fortunately the law where I live had available a preventive measure. The police delivered a warning that a criminal harrassment charge would be laid if my former husband contacted me. They impressed on me that I must not intiate contact either. My children were just over 18. All the legal and financial circumstances finally made it easy for me to leave.

    And yet, given all this, it has taken my physical being two years to unhook from the marriage. I have experienced a sort of nausea in decreasing measure for two years. It has finally left after 2 full years. Not one ounce of that feeling was a wish to be dominated, but it was simply the natural withdrawal that the body has to undergo.

    I understand women who do not leave abusive situations. I recommend the work of Lundy Bancroft and Evan Stark for reading on this subject.

    I also realize that women are in no way better than men. Women are just as fallible and human as men, just as flawed. But we don’t put men under the flawed rule of women, and we should not put women under men.

    Men also suffer in many ways in marriage. This needs a proper and adequate response which goes beyond demeaning women.


    I am sorry for the negativity that you perceive. I was raised in a very traditional Brethren home and within that paradigm I saw more mutual respect and grace than is often taught by fundamentalists today. My parents did not have an authority and submission relationship. They were very traditional, but after once or twice telling my mother to “obey” my father had the common sense to see how it demeaned a human being who was every bit as intelligent as himself, and he just let it go.

    My mother died almost 20 years ago and my father, 92, mourns her still. I have seen a committed and tender Christian marriage.

  59. sapnads says:

    Thank you for the write up. It made me think what sort of a relationship my husband and I share. I am grateful to God and I can proudly say after two and a half years of marriage, in Christ we are growing into the children God intended us to be. We have our respective parents to thank for in the way they are leading their lives and showing us their children how we must live ours in turn – completely God centred. As mentioned in the last few sentences of your write up Mart, if we live God centred lives i.e “right attitude”, we shall surely be able to do things for the good of one another.
    Having said this, I don’t claim that our marriage is flawless. There are many occassions where we fight, say things we don’t mean to etc. But at the end of the day we always make up, irrespective of whose fault it is because we hold on dearly to Eph 4:26.
    But since we have understood what our roles as a Christian couple are:
    My husband – does not abuse me, is not violent with me no matter how much I might have agrevated him, does not direspect me, supports me in every aspect of my life (professional or domestic) and loves me very much – which he shows in words and in action.

    As for me – I do not challenge his authority as the head of our family, am submissive to the best of my abilities – out of my love & respect for him. I try to be the kind of wife that is written about in Prov 31. Its work in progress but I am confident that I shall grow into that woman some day :)

    Our church is also very encouraging of married couples. Our church leaders continously emphasise the importance of a sound home unit and its direct link to a sound church.

    My comment might sound like a dream marriage – do take it with a pinch of salt – but I want the readers to understand that our marriage is “work in progress” and we are just blessed to be guided in the right manner from day 1.

    God bless you all

  60. Charis says:

    Hi postonc,

    My husband and I both became Christians around 30 years ago and went to seminary and became “missionaries” for about 3 years. I put “missionaries” in quotes because it was such a disaster- a shipwreck morally (think of some of the moral scandals you hear about about high profile preachers)

    I feel like I spent a lot of years as a kind of modern day pharisee. I went to church, knew the Bible, and even led church things, but I “lost my first love” (Read about the Church at Ephesus in Rev 2. The writer mentions their good works and mentions their perseverence TWICE- that was me. But they are chastized for losing their first love, and they are in danger of losing their lampstand (they won’t be a light to the world anymore).

    In fact, maybe it will help you to read about all 7 churches in Rev 2-3. You will see all kinds of ways which church people can get off track.

    That said, I think its wonderful that you have come to know the Lord and I would encourage you to keep going deeper with Him. Despite all the marriage struggles we have had, I believe that my husband and I are a “matched set” and that God has used even the pain as a kind of furnace in my life to bring up the ugly dross so HE can scoop it off an purify me. I think sometimes I made marriage and family an idol and put them before God and expected them to “satisfy”. Only GOD will really satisfy. So hang tight to HIM.

  61. Charis says:


    You said you became a Christian 4 years ago and your wife has been saved for 25 years and for the past 8 months you have been separated? It makes me wonder if she hoped and hoped for those 21 years… she read about “christian husband” laying down his life for her, living with her in an understanding way, treating her respectfully as a joint heir (Eph 5 and 1 Peter 3) and she found out that it doesn’t work like that?

    I remember in the late 80’s and 90’s thinking if only my husband would quit drinking and really get serious about God, our marriage would be better. It wasn’t true. I went through a lot of grieving over the fairy tale dreams that never come true…

    Honestly? For over 25 years of marriage, I don’t think my husband ever managed to “leave and cleave”. He left his parents geographically, but he had lots of unresolved issues plaguing him for his whole 50 year life from childhood abuses. And to “cleave” I think a man needs to truly acknowledge his woman as equal and respect her as the help GOD gave him. Nowadays, I finally see him making progress in that direction. :)

  62. Charis says:


    Been thinking about you… I have one more practical suggestion. Get hold of Ken Nair’s book “Discovering The Mind Of A Woman” Give her the book with a highlighter (like Ken suggests in the beginning). Its a really solid Christian book by a very gentle humble man whose perception and insight into how a woman thinks/perceives is truly remarkable.

    Knowing/understanding a wife is among the biblical instructions given to husbands. (see 1 Peter 3:7) Ken Nair can help with this. And BTW following that particular biblical instruction comes with a great big perk- answered prayer! :) Look it up and see for yourself.

    My prayers for you and your wife!

  63. mtman says:

    I for one have really learned a lot here. The two posts just made are well timed as I think we need to hear about the good marriages too. I sure did but that does not take away the pain for those going through bad times, just balances it out a little. The life experiences set out here along with the wisdom expressed is priceless.
    One thing stands out however. Churches are not meeting the need. They try to be all things to all people and don’t examine the very issues that are causing many pain – such as this topic has shown. Some folks want to be entertained, others traditional worship, some modern worship, and still others simply want a social club that has a cross on top. There are for sure good churches out there, but when my wife divorced me the Priest came to me and advised me churches in a divorce are similar to property I was a little stunned. They are divided he said between parties and I would need to find another place to worship. As it turned out that Priest had just divorced and was who my ex-wife had her sights set upon.
    Having said that it appears to me that churches have failed to live up to their calling for the most part. I will go back and read about the 7 churches but first I want to comment on the Apology of Tertullian who lived from around 160-225 A.D.
    Part of his apology states ” But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another, for they themselves are animated by mutual hatred. See, they say about us, how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves would sooner kill”. He tells how they spend their voluntarily provided money. To bury poor people, supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of parents, on old people confined to their houses, those who have suffered shipwreck, and any in mines or banished to islands or shut up in prisons for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church. “But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us”. Todays churches try to reach out to unbelievers and neglect those Christians within the church who if they demonstrated their love for each other would serve as glowing examples to unbelievers and give unbelievers the desire to be part of that loving community.
    So I feel I can state in my opinion that the modern day church is lacking in many area’s from what the early church was. They loved each other first and non believers were either drawn to them or hated them. Now we have abandoned those places to our government to handle so we can tell the world how much we love them and one another. The difference as I see it is not false teaching as much as giving up those things our Lord entrusted to us to handle. How can people see how much we love each other if we aren’t doing it? That is why the church has failed in helping reconcile so many marriages and we have the morass of values we have today. They gave up the responsibility to those who do not love. They gather on Sunday and make each other feel good but what do they really do for each other. A not believer should be drawn to a church because they see a loving community.
    I have repeatedly stated that I prefer the simple life and in my opinion that means getting back to those things that the early church had and not to shove it off on some governmental body to do for us. That is just my opinion of course. I think the church has failed many of us in many ways.

  64. kaliko88 says:


    sapnads emphasized that her marriage is a “work in progress”. Well, that holds true for people, especially for those earnestly seeking God. I think it is most applicable to people like me who started in faith, drifted far away, and came back with a whole lot of bumps, bruises, baggage, and general grunge. The cleansing process is rough and it takes a while to smooth the edges. Think of a rock in a stream – it takes years, sometimes decades to tumble it into a smooth pebble. And while we’re in that river we get moved and rushed about sometimes, and knocked into others, and sometimes even broken and chipped. But still, while we remain in the waters, we are being smoothed into something beautiful.

    daisy, thanks for praying. I’d say our marriage is beginning to heal, but really it’s as if we made all the preparations to start the process and then just stopped and went into our separate corners. We’re together and yet very far apart. I am most touchy because being left mostly alone I have plenty of time to think and notice all the really small stuff that is wrong. But one good thing has come of this. I have been digging deeper into the Word. That may actually cause a greater rift between us, because my faith is an affront to him. But trying harder to get closer to God, I hope, will give me better tools to show a proper picture of Christ. I can only hope that, or something else, will finally draw him to belief, not repel him. In the meantime, I can at least keep working on the small stuff that is wrong with me.

    And thank goodness for God’s timing. Pastor started doing a series on the fruits of the spirit, one month for each of them, and so far every message and lesson has been exactly what I needed to hear to keep me going. I emailed him and told him so. I don’t thank him near as much as I should. I don’t thank people here as much as I should. We are a spunky bunch, but you guys keep me on my toes, you get me to look deeper, and I know we pray for each other. That matters a lot.

  65. Loretta Beavis says:

    Thankyou for a truthful summary.
    I have stopped attending three churches because the pastors
    would not tell the truth to my spouse that his abuse is
    wrong. My spouse uses the dead phrase I’m looking for a
    “perfect chuch” I’m just looking for Pastors that are not
    ashamed to tell the truth thats in the Bible, and loving
    enough to confront men who call themselves “Christians”
    but hurt their wives.

  66. poohpity says:

    I am so confused how someone who reads the bible everyday and has a personal relationship with God can not understand what the Lord is saying about marriage or any other relationship for that matter. The Word is living and changes peoples lives. Trust me I am not saying perfection because after continually reading it we realize we will never be perfect until we go home to be with the Lord. It helps us continue to grow and know God more and more. There are always going to be questions without answers and answers without questions. The more we think we know the more we understand we don’t know. The bible also says there is strength in getting help from many counselors and we have the mighty counselor to give us wisdom when asked for. So help me understand if we read daily, listen to God and pray, what is so hard about yielding to God and others. This does not mean abusing another human being and there never has to be a question about that.

    I have experienced so much from being in the world and have done so many things that it would curl your hair and trust me I have a long way to go to being a person after God’s own heart. I desire daily to spend time in God’s Word and it has transformed my life and is still transforming me. So help me understand how there can be so much abuse and victimization. Do they read the Word everyday and just try to find things to back up bad behavior. I do not understand.

  67. Tamar says:

    My answer is that yes my husband was reading the word every day. His beliefs were that a wife must obey her husband as the Bible says and as is in the wedding vows. If a wife does not obey then she has broken her wedding vow and that makes her a whore. If she tells anyone else about private matters in the family that also makes her a whore.

    I believe that the vow to obey, the authority and submission paradigm and the “final say” dictate, disadvantage a man from learning how to negotiate, yield to someone else and in general it perpetuates what is normally called the “terrible two’s” in children.

    For what little decisions does the husband need final say? The color of the livingroom couch? Or does the husband only need final say as to which house to buy, how much debt to take on, what treatment for the sick child? Why should the husband have final say at all? He only needs it because he lacks the ability to engage in his wife’s viewpoint. He does not understand that the wife lives in the house, will outlive her husband and needs input into debt management and she bore that child with her own body. Why should the husband have final say? I dón’t actually read about final say in the Bible. If the husband has final say, he will one day see that he is saying it to no one but himself.

  68. Charis says:

    20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for disposal of refuse. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Tim 2 (TNIV)

    According to 2Tim 2:20-26 we have the opportunity to become a transformed vessel! We can be transformed from a dirty pot full of “refuse”(TNIV), an “ignoble” (NIV) or “dishonorable” (NASB) vessel, to a “vessel fit for the master’s use”.

    I have wondered if the unclean pot might be a bedpan or a chamber pot? Did they have those in NT times? “The Message” puts the pots in the kitchen:

    “In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.” 2 Tim 2: 20-21 (the Message)

    I’ve been in the process of having the uncleanness purged out of the vessel that is ME. The process is not easy, but it it GOOD!

    Oh, LORD, please keep up the scrubbing until I am utterly and completely purged of all the garbage! I have an inkling that the junk is burned off too, through a process of fiery trials…

    When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
    My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

  69. poohpity says:

    Tamar, if he read everyday what happened to his mind being transformed and displaying the fruits of the spirit. Did he just read what he needed to back up bad behavior? Did you read and know his actions were not of love?

    Charis, I do not understand your reply.

  70. Tamar says:

    He felt that if I was submissive enough then he would not react the way he did. It was all because I was disobedient.

    But the problem is that submission to abuse proves to the abuser that abuse works and it reinforces abuse.

    We all know that there are clergy who commit adultery. This is just like that only a different sin. We are all sinners. None of us is pure enough to become the full time ruler of another human being.

    Power corrupts and absolute power ….

  71. daisymarygoldr says:

    Mart, a student can never be above the teacher. You are the teacher and I am the student…though sometimes just for pretense I do enjoy reversing the roles. I am not saying anything about you misrepresenting the scriptures. If you think, the 12 points is what it will take for placing marriage in the balance then maybe it is! You don’t need to change. You are the expert and you are the leader…I am not. I am just an ordinary person…I do trust your good intentions but for some strange reason which is beyond my understanding my spirit does not agree with yours…on marriage. The abusive churchmen are human wisdom at one extreme and your response to them is human wisdom at the other extreme. Where is God in all of this? When Eve stepped in front of her husband to lead… and decided to eat of the fruit and also made her husband eat of it, God went out of the picture. God is still missing and the picture will never be straight…until God is brought back into the equation. You are a great man of God and I trust that He is leading you….

  72. daisymarygoldr says:

    Charis, I regard you as a woman who is far worthier than me. If I had to go through all what you went through…I don’t think my faith would have survived. Hence, I really look up to you and all that you have to share. I know the tender soul of a woman and I do feel your emotional pain. I am glad to hear your husband is changing for the better and I will continue to pray for complete healing.

    Charis, it is very sad… to see you and many other women getting hurt by the church. Jesus talked about other shepherds… ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing who sneak in to steal and hurt His sheep. Be comforted in knowing this that God will certainly avenge the wrongs… when He will deal out retribution to those lawless ones on judgment day by saying: “I never knew you, depart from me, you who work iniquity.” Charis, you know it very well…that the Church is the body of Christ…the only unique body for which He gave His life…the only precious body for which He will come back to receive for Himself. I will pray that someday you will experience His love flowing through His Body to heal every inch of your hurting being. I am the Church… and Charis I sincerely hope you feel the immense love of God… burning in my heart for you.

  73. daisymarygoldr says:

    kaliko88, I’m glad your marriage is showing signs of healing. Yes, it will be slow but keep trusting God and be strengthened by His Word. Nothing is impossible for Him and He will certainly restore. One of my friends is going through a bitter separation. A very strong woman of God with 2 beautiful girls aged 4 and 2. When things were getting bad in their relationship…she used to leave verses all over the place… in the bedroom, in the bathroom. She used to play worship music everywhere…at home…in the car. It only caused her husband to pull away farther…and today they are no longer together.

    kaliko88, as I said before, I will say again…just continue to be there for your husband. It does not take a whole lot to submit and satisfy a man….but they are really miserable and incomplete without a woman! Will be always praying for you…you are a very wise woman and I know you are a sure winner!

  74. postonc says:

    Tamar, I have only compassion in my heart for you and sorrow for anyone who believes they are righteous in abuse of any kind to anyone but especially to their own “one” flesh. If your heart ached as intensely as mine is at this very moment, I can not even imagine how you endured for so many years. My comment was not intended for you but it was a general comment on how those who love God, have invited Jesus in their heart and seek Him in all they do… are not able to understand the words coming from another’s heart.

    Charis, thank you so much for sharing and your encouragement, it has given me a some moments of rest. Unfortunately my wife, who has refused to communicate with me for almost all of the time of our separation, is now pressing via text messages to divorce now.

    As much as I believe God’s glory will be found on all things… I’m struggling right now … I’m inclined to ask if her request is from God… if she says yes, then so be it.

  75. SFDBWV says:

    Tamar,Charis, Do you think all men who profess Christianity are like the evil men you both present as example?

    Do you think all of Christianity has fallen into the dark light you speak of.

    You each tell a terrible story about your husbands, is there nothing good about them?

    Have either of you been able to let go of the anger that comes through on your comments?

    Are either of you Bible believing Holy Spirit led Christians?

    I am not making any judgements here I am only reading what you say and am not seeing Christ, I am seeing bitterness….sorry.

  76. Tamar says:


    I have survived the turmoil in my life, but I am very sad for you. I have no illusions that women are more compassionate than men. Some say so, but I don’t see it.

    I know the scriptures say to let the unbelieving partner go, but I think we all of us have to be ready to let our partners go. Painful, but there are no guarantees in life.

    All anyone can do is be concerned about their own behaviour. It only causes grief to try to control someone else.

    I think the greatest satiscfaction is from a clear conscience oneself. If you know that you have done the right thing then rest in that. I know that I have not always done the right thing, but I feel that in leaving I did. I depend on a clear conscience not on the emotional impact which is usually miserable in these situations.

  77. swwagner says:


    I couldn’t agree more with your comments. I figured out a long time ago that the Bible has not been understood correctly in a lot of areas…submission in marriage, being one of the most controversial.

    When I said my marriage vows 33 years ago, I promised to “obey” my husband. I was told by the church that this was Biblical and my own understanding of the scriptures at that time in my life led me to do so.

    I have not kept the promise to obey because by the end of our 1st year of marriage it was clear to me that you can’t follow and obey a man who doesn’t lead.

    In an effort to be the “head of the wife”, my husband nagged me about how I should fix my hair, how to clean the stove and when to do the laundry, etc. (He still does.) He had no plans, opinions, or goals. He was mad because he had to use his “hard earned money” on my expenses and expected intimacy on demand. (He still has the same attitude, except now there is no intimacy because I “don’t turn him on” anymore.)

    The only way we have made it this far is because I ignore most of his fits of rage and the orders he gives during them. If I did everything he wanted, we would be bankrupt and I would have no self esteem what so ever.

    I am not the smartest or most spiritual person in the world, but God gave me enough brains and insight not to obey a man like my husband. Believe it or not, we have reached a satisfactory understanding of marriage and are relatively happy together.

    I have found that God meets my deepest needs and that He alone is the source of all comfort and understanding.

  78. Tamar says:


    I think that what we have written has challenged your belief in the notion that men should have authority over women. I believe that all gender-based authority leads to sin since it interferes with the authority of righteousness and the Word.

    I love my father and look up to him. In fact, I have already mentioned this. I have to assume that you are jumping to negative conclusions about me for your own purposes.

    This is one more thing that makes it difficult for a woman to leave an abusive situation. The judgemsnts can be very harsh.

  79. Tamar says:


    There are many good things about my husband. He was very hard-working, musical, good-looking, a great cook, we shared many interests. I like men. Most abused women do.

    But “obey?” I envy SWWagner.

  80. poohpity says:

    Gosh, now I am really confused. Mart again I want to say your knowledge of the scriptures is truly God breathed. It is very refreshing to see the reflection of His grace and mercy in your blog. As Paul says in Colossians 3:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Looking forward to your next topic.

  81. poohpity says:

    My confusion is not about what you wrote Kim. I posted at the same time. I like what you had to say.

  82. drumstikkgirl says:


    I don’t get what you said about Eve. The Bible doesn’t say she stepped in front of Adam to lead, or that Adam was supposed to lead. It also doesn’t say that Eve made Adam eat the fruit. He was with her, meaning he heard the all of the serpents speech and still did it. This doesn’t prove that Adam was the leader from the beginning


    I don’t really get all of your point either, I have never read in the Bible where it says for the husband to be the spiritual leader. It says to love her as he loves himself. To me that is where the “head” analogy ends.

  83. Wordgazer says:

    daisymarygoldr said:

    Regardless of conflicts or disagreements we have never considered changing anything the Bible says about marriage. We have not yet perfected God’s original design for marriage but by His grace we are learning to yield…for Him to work out His will for our lives….and I am learning to submit and respect. Flowers or no flowers…Love is unconditional ….not the fair-weather kind of love…but the love that seals a covenant. A covenant which is not just between the two of us but a covenant which God Himself established to put us together… with Him as our center! I’m sure all of this must be sounding Greek and Latin to all of you here…thankfully, God is merciful and full of grace.

    Thankfully, this is not all “sounding Greek and Latin” to me– or, I would guess, to many of us here. Christ is certainly at the center of my 21-year marriage, and I actually do submit to my husband.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that there is a belief among some Christians, that the minute male authority is removed from marriage, women will immediately rush off into high-powered careers, ignore their children, criticize and belittle their husbands, etc. It has been my experience that the opposite is true.

    I submit to my husband, and he sacrifices himself for me. I submit myself to his desires and needs. What I do not yield myself to is his authority, for he has never wanted to exercise authority over me. He has never thought I needed to be led, nor does he want to lead me. He wants me to stand by his side, fully empowered to be his equal partner in every way. Should I not submit to this– particularly when I believe it’s what the Bible actually teaches? Should I insist that he lead me, when we both feel that am a full adult, and that my husband and I are to be led by Christ, together?

    I work part-time, and care for my children is my top priority. I also, due to the circumstances we are now in, do the lion’s share of the housework. I do not demand that my husband do exactly half of it when he is in an intensive college program, and I have more time than he has, to do these things.

    And I don’t question the Bible in the sense that I challenge it, or the Lord. I don’t question the Bible’s authority for my faith or practice. What I do question is whether the Bible actually says what we have been taught it says– particularly when one thing it appears to say (God’s permanent design is male authority) contradicts something it plainly says (God created the man and the woman to rule creation together, and male authority only came about as a result of the Curse.)

    Daisymarygoldr, when you said this:

    When Eve stepped in front of her husband to lead… and decided to eat of the fruit and also made her husband eat of it, God went out of the picture.

    I read the same passage you do, and I simply do not see Eve “stepping in front of her husband to lead.” The Scripture says he was standing right there with her, and that she listened to what the serpent was saying to her, and he did not intervene. It never says she made him eat the fruit– it says she gave it to him, and he ate. There is simply nothing there at all about her usurping any supposed authority that he had (which God had not given him, since God told both the woman and the man to “rule the earth” together.

  84. drumstikkgirl says:

    However, the concept of the husband as head of the wife, was explained, in that he should sacrifice himself for her, and love her as himself. This spiritual leader part was not part of the explanation. If it was necessary it would have been part of the explanation, which it is not.

    If you infer that, than many things can be inferred, like since Jesus can offer salvation, then maybe the man can too. Or since Jesus is worshiped as the head of the church, the husband should be too. I don’t think you can take a scripture and put more there than there really is.

  85. Wordgazer says:

    I wanted to add that I have no wish to be disrespectful in any way to Daisymarygoldr, and I hope I have not been. My marriage, however, despite (or because of?) the lack of any male authority, is extremely happy and is based on a deep, Biblical covenant commitment. We are still best friends through all the trials and joys of all these years, and look forward to kissing each other hello every time we come home to one another.

  86. Tamar says:

    There are about 200 times that the Hebrew word for head rosh is used to mean “leader.” However, when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, the word kephale was only used for one person to indicate that he was a leader. That one person was Jephthah. The story of Jephthah is not usually read in the synagogue.

    It is highly problematic to derive the meaning of “leader” from the Greek word kephale.

  87. SFDBWV says:

    Tamar, I have read what you’ve said.

    Tell me if you will, what do you think that Paul has said? Are we suppose to believe the word of God or are we suppose to change it’s meaning in order to fit our desire? Or frame of mind?

    The authority God has given me, through His word, is a position of responsibility.I am answerable to God for my stewardship of that responsibility. My conduct my leadership,my Christlike love, I demonstrate to thoes in my family, bear the fruits of my efforts. I serve by leading.

    Please Tamar, I am not judging you. If you were my sister or daughter, I would have been the first person you could have ran to and recieved help from your husbands abuse.

    I certainly have nothing to gain by asking you to clearify your position. I am sorry you see it that way.

  88. Wordgazer says:


    I hope you don’t mind if I respond to your question to Tamar:

    We are supposed to believe the word of God. But what if what we think it says it not actually what Paul meant, or what the Holy Spirit was originally communicating through him? What if the word “head” really didn’t mean “authority” in the ancient Greek? What if we’re reading a meaning into the passage based on our modern usage of the word “head” when it wasn’t meant to be there at all?

  89. abe says:


    Author: Gilbert Bilezikian
    Title of Book: Beyond Sex Roles, pgs. 277-78

    How do you answer this claim of Dr. Bilezikian that does not mean leader or authority?

    In order to understand the meaning of “head” as used by the apostle Paul, it is helpful to determine its meaning within the language spoken by Paul. The authors of works such as A Greek-English Lexicon by Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1968), or Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965, 10 volumes) have thoroughly investigated biblical and contemporary extra-biblical writings and reported that the word kephale was used in the secular and religious Greek contemporary to Paul, with the meaning of source, origin, sustainer, and not of ruler. The second century B.C. translation of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament into Greek provides a case in point. The Hebrew word for head (ros), commonly used for leader, ruler, or supreme is translated in the Septuagint by a Greek word other than “head” (kephale) over 150 times. It was much later that the word kephale began to be used as “authority” under the pressure of Latin usage, as evidenced in the writings of some post apostolic church fathers. For Paul and his correspondents the use of the word kephale as a synonym for ruler or authority would have been as meaningless as attempting to do the same today with tete in French, or Kopf in German.

  90. Mart De Haan says:

    What do we lose if we see the head/body illustration as an ideal picture of mutual, loving, interdependence, responsibility, and accountability to God rather than authority, entitlement, and control?

  91. abe says:

    I think sometimes some men want authority over their wives so badly that they won’t accept Biblical evidence, like shown in my post above – that they really don’t have that authority. That doesn’t mean these husbands are bad husbands, they may be very good husbands. They just want authority that the Bible hasn’t given them. And so they deny any evidence that doesn’t support their view by calling it unbiblical or something like that.

    We will always have men who want to have authority over women that God hasn’t given them. What women have to do is learn how to deal with these men.

  92. drumstikkgirl says:


    What does that mean for the women, spiritually, what do they do in their spiritual life. And what exactly does spiritual leadership even mean? The husband has to lead the prayers, lead the children’s prayers. The Bible says that it’s the parents responsibility to teach their children the ways of the Lord. What do you mean by understand their spirit? That seems impossible to read someone’s spirit and know what’s best for them, and it doesn’t seem biblically ordained.

  93. kbutterfly says:

    I understand that there are people that take Gods word out of context and that control / abuse can become an issue. I think this is part of getting to know Christ and living in line with Gods word. In Genesis Chapter 2 vs 18, Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him. It goes on to say that living creatures were formed and named but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. Further down in vs 22 it states, And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man. My understanding is that we are to be a help mate, to come along side. I do not think that God ever did this to position us as a lesser. There are so many complications with being married, most of them stem from our selfish nature. I know me personally, without marriage I would have known what the scripture says, however I would not have had the experience necessary to become one with them. God allows us to have free will the problem with that is our free will hurts others. Many of the other issues have already been discussed as far as husband to be like Christ etc, so I just wanted to throw these verses into the mix.
    Before I close my comment I would also like to throw in Pauls thoughts on living like him, if we have that gift. Again, we need to focus on ourselves serving God. That does not mean allow yourselves to be abused in any form, but those discussions I do not think are meant for this topic.
    What do you guys think?

  94. kbutterfly says:

    I miss stated above, our free will CAN hurt others. That is why we must try to “pause and think”.

  95. poohpity says:

    My confusion comes from people talking down to others in their posts. We are all on the same ground before the Lord. Sometimes the Lord uses those that are simple to confound the wise.

  96. daisymarygoldr says:

    Whether it was in Creation or the giving of His Law or the sending of His Son or the building of His Body… God displayed orderliness. God made man first and then made the woman. He had set the divine order for the man “before” the woman. The serpent’s dialog was exclusively with Eve; Adam was not in the scene. If you insist he was there right beside her…he was silent. Hence, he also failed to fulfill his responsibility of a leader. He failed to take charge and make the decision in the light of God’s commands to him….regarding the forbidden fruit.

    Eve was not selfish but had the right attitude of- “love” … so she did share the fruit with her husband. However, because she took over as the head and decided to eat the fruit… she decided for both herself and her husband, God’s divine order was defied. When Adam decided to remain a silent spectator and followed through with his wife’s leading, God’s divine order was defied. When God and His wisdom and His order are ruled out…it is the exact recipe for disaster- the fall! drumstikkgirl and Wordgazer, if you still don’t get it ask God to explain….and the Holy Spirit will explain spiritual things to you in the best possible way.

    Good question Mart! I was also thinking on…what would happen if it is all about love?

    Has any one visited a household where it is all about love? The parents love their children so-o-o much that they do not care what the children do. I do get to meet some of those children in my Sunday school class. Very loving kids…but they do not want to follow instructions; they refuse to abide by a certain order. Children who have no restraint or control and fail to do what they are told to do. There is no decorum, no organization, no structure and no order. It is one unruly household filled with utter chaos and confusion. God is not the author of Confusion. Hence Paul reminds us that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way”.

    Please, no more questions …I am too tired to talk anymore and I just want to say I am proud of all you women leaders out there. My God bless you all!

  97. drumstikkgirl says:

    yes, not memorized though.

  98. poohpity says:

    Another confusion is, What is so hard about loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Loving others as you love yourself in any relationship. Would anyone want the worst for someone they love or treat them with contempt and disrespect. To look in the mirror and tell that person you are not worth being loved because you are a ………. fill in the blank. God created and then human beings rip each other apart for their own self edification. Those are the things I am confused about.

  99. Tamar says:

    Tamar,Charis, Do you think all men who profess Christianity are like the evil men you both present as example?

    Who asked this question and why? I don’t understand.


    I appreciate your stance on this more than you can know.

  100. daisymarygoldr says:

    Just wanted to comeback and say, that I miss you gr8grannyjacobs, you are the heart that beats with God’s love!
    rdrcomp, I’m praying for your son and his family through this difficult time…

  101. tshook86 says:

    Hello everyone,
    I am the wife and caregiver of a christian man who is in a wheelchair, who relies on me for transfer in and out of the bed and the chair. I wish I was more successful in being submissive to a husband with a chronic illness, but without God I don’t. The two hardest things in my life are both spiritual. One is to make sure I don’t take the lead…to encourage him to lead…to watch for tricks of trying to give me the lead (he often asks me “What do you want?”and then we do whatever I say). The other is to be gentle with the truth. Besides memorizing scripture, praying to be aware of what is going on…is there any other suggestions out there to make sure that decisions are made by my husband? (Sometimes I don’t even realize we are following me until we are past the decision and living with the consequences.) Thanks, Feeble Woman

  102. cherielyn says:

    My son just got divorced in January. He did not want the divorce. His wife was not interested in counseling. They were married just short of 8 years when she met someone online and moved out of state to be with the man, less than 2 months after they “met.” My son is devasted, but also relieved because his wife was his abuser, physically, mentally & emotionally. In hindsight he says he doesn’t know how he could have survived a lifetime of the treatment he received from her, even though he was in it “for better or worse, ’til death us do part.” Fortunately they had no children who would have been hurt in the process.

  103. poohpity says:

    I guess I may have to address it another way. I guess it would be nice if some would consider what they write on this blog whether it is nice, beneficial or uplifting. I do not enjoy when some say really ugly things to others or about others. This has been a problem here before. When I post sometimes I have to rethink before I submit to see if it will cause harm to someone or to help. That was where my confusion came from. You know sort of like Thumper on Bambi. If you can’t say sumpthin nice don’t say sumpthin at all. :)

  104. poohpity says:


    It would seem like that would be a very difficult situation. Making decisions together may be an option. I bet he feels like he has let you down. In a situation like that you are showing so much love by caring for him and I bet there are many areas where both are a little confused. That would be an excellent time to really ask what he is feeling about the chain of events and really develop intimacy by sharing each others hearts. Being totally honest about what each is experiencing may open doors for a higher level of love between you both.

  105. Wordgazer says:

    Daisymarygoldr said:

    Wordgazer, if you still don’t get it ask God to explain….and the Holy Spirit will explain spiritual things to you in the best possible way.

    Are you trying to be insulting, Daisymarygoldr? The issue is not that I “don’t get it.” Believe me, I read and study the Scriptures and I do pray for understanding. I have been doing so since I was saved in 1979. I disagree with your interpretation, but my disagreement is not based on “not getting it.”

    I am becoming a bit frustrated with what seems to be a disconnect in the discussion. Some of us are talking about the issue of whether or not the Bible actually places men in “headship” (a word that never appears in the Bible) over their wives in the first place. We are supporting our point of view by discussing the meanings of words in the Bible in their original language, backing them up with lexicon quotes, etc. Others are ignoring all of that entirely, and as if we weren’t here, just go right on talking about a husband’s authority over his wife as if it were an established and unquestionable doctrine, and not an issue in dispute. Please hear us. If you disagree with us, please respond with why you disagree– do not just ignore the issue we have raised, please?

    I also agree that we should not be talking down to one another. If I have done that at any point, please let me know that I have offended, and I will apologize. But I would note that both sides of the issue have made statements about the possible motivations of those on the other side — that men who believe in male authority just don’t want to give up authority, for instance; or that women who don’t want to be under male authority are just “bitter.” I believe that when 1 Cor 13 says love “believes all things,” that it means we should not assume things about other’s motivations or attitudes, but should give each other the benefit of the doubt. To that end, we should stick with the issues, and not skirt the actual issues by asserting that they arise from character flaws or bad attitudes, rather than honestly held beliefs, in others.

    Mart, if I’m out of line here, please let me know; this is your blog, and I do not wish to intrude. But I don’t believe I can continue the discussion as it is going now.

  106. drumstikkgirl says:


    excellent points, I’ve started to feel that way as well. I hope I have not offended anyone, and I apologize if I have.

  107. Wordgazer says:

    tshook86 said:

    (he often asks me “What do you want?”and then we do whatever I say).

    I think you have the sweetest heart, tshook, in the way you are trying so hard to help your husband keep his dignity and power in your marriage. But the issue above seems like a non-issue to me unless he is never willing to assert what he wants. My husband often asks me, “what do you want?” Why? Not because he wants me to lead him, but because he genuinely and honestly wants to give me what I want! Submitting to him in this case would mean telling him what I want to do, so he can be happy in giving me what I want. How can he lay down his life for me if I never let him?

  108. Wordgazer says:

    Cherielyn, I feel for your son. It is true that it is not only husbands who can be abusive, controlling, etc. I pray that God will give your son complete peace and healing for all he’s been through.

  109. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    daisy I am touched in my heart by your post. You are so…………………………….precious to me.

    Steve W VA made national news tonight on NBC. Made me very homesick:)

    I have been faithfully following all the comment’s. I can’t say for others who is the head in a marriage. I can only say how God has worked in mine. My husband and I have found for us the more we each surrender to God the closer we become.
    This marriage has been a journey with valleys and mountain tops but God has united us. I have refrained from posting as I don’t want to hurt anyone as I realize that we are all in different situations.
    The only comfort I can offer is prayer for all who are hurting and ask God to be with you as you surrender to Him. He is the revealer of His truth.

  110. poohpity says:

    Our Steve? What was it about?

  111. gr8grannyjacobs says:

    pooh Yes our Steve. It was just about a town in WV Morgantown to be exact and how they are dealing with the economic situation .I do miss the mountains and the part of the country I came from. I was just sharing. Totally off topic wasn’t I? I kinda messed up on the WV so you see it is a post to our Steve but not our Steve that made national news.Hug to you pooh:)

  112. Charis says:

    daisymary (1:30),

    Thank you. I do feel your love and your words touched me deeply. I’m glad we are sisters! :)

    poohpity (1:06),
    sorry I was unclear. I was trying to explain why christians sometimes don’t seem to change… I meant to quote the last part of the 2 Tim 2 as well and say that they are in captivity. I think Kim’s explanation of the flesh is clearer, though

    Steve (1:53) Sorry you perceive me as bitter. I did say that my marriage is doing much better these days and that I have seen what I consider miraculous transformation: the development of kindness and consideration from my husband. I thought those were good things :) And I dislike you referring to him as “evil”. He is no more evil than Paul the Apostle was “evil” pre-Damascus road. I have spent many hours over the course of 2-3 years in prayer and seeking God to overcome bitterness from the 20+ painful years. When I wrote here of the historical things which happened, I am not feeling resentment at all. I have read that when one can recount abuses without feeling the pain, that is a sign that the healing and forgiveness is complete. Imagine a “matter of fact” tone. Personally, I don’t find it helpful to whitewash it and pretend that everything has been a bed of roses. Strikes me as too hypocritical. I think the Lord is OK with my speaking the truth about my experiences.

    Mart (4:26) asked: “What do we lose if we see the head/body illustration as an ideal picture of mutual, loving, interdependence, responsibility, and accountability to God rather than authority, entitlement, and control?”

    I’d say we’d lose a MISunderstanding and we might stand to gain a great deal. I think the head/body metaphor speaks of intimacy and connection. Wasn’t until I felt that with Jesus that I understood what it means. I’m still not sure the whole passage is really even about marriage? since Paul clearly says in verse 32 what he is speaking of “but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

    You did GRRRREAT! If all talk of husbandly leadership was the way you talked of it, it would be a joy, I look up to and hope your tribe increases. :)

    I noticed that Kim’s blog is linked with his name and his blog is great reading! He really role models biblical husbandry. Click “Kim” in one of his comments.

  113. Mart De Haan says:

    Thanks, everybody for weighing in on this. Sometimes what is not said (because it cannot be said) can be as insightful as what is repeated over and over.

    At some point we also realize that there’s probably not much more that can be said at this point that will be helpful.

    Am sure that we’ll revisit this down the road again, from a different angle. But for now you’ve all given me the kind of testing, feedback, and counsel that I was hoping for. Hope it’s been helpful for you also to hear ideas tested from different points of view.

  114. jephthah says:

    Where did you get your info on jephthah? I find the story fascinating but it is very difficult to find it discussed anywhere but in Judges 11. Also, the thing on his story not being discussed in synagogue was interesting also because I get a sense that he is not very much appreciated in Jewish heritage. You sound like a bit of a scholar from your breakdown of the original meaning of the Greek word. Any information on this or resources where it is discussed would be greatly appreciated.

  115. abe says:

    I don’t believe the husband is the spiritual leader of the family. Head in Eph. 5:23 does not mean leader or authority. A man is not his wife’s spiritual leader. No one in scripture does it say he is.

    It’s not wise to say something is scriptural, like the husband is the spiritual leader of the wife – when it is not in the Bible.

  116. abe says:

    Christ is a woman’s spiritual leader. She does not need her husband to be her spiritual leader.

    When I read these people say that the husband is the family’s spiritual leader or his wife’s spiritual leader I am so disappointed with them. It says neither in the Bible, yet Christians keep teaching it as if it were in the Bible.

    Why do Christians do this to women? Can one of the people here who claim that the husband is the spiritual leader point to the verses in the Bible where they got this from?

  117. abe says:

    tshook86 ,

    Adults make decisions, children don’t. It is the Christian community that teaches that wives should not make decisions, not the Bible.

  118. mathladyx2 says:

    I am disappointed that the Christian community is teaching that the husband should make the decisions. Marriage is a joint venture, not business owner/employee relationship.

    The bible neither says that men are the spiritual head of their family nor says that men are to make the decisions.

    I feel the Christian community is doing women a great disservice by teaching this. They are hurting women and their marriages by not properly interpreting the Bible to them.

  119. William Tan says:

    Hi Mart De Haan

    I Thank God for the Writers on Our Daily Bread, Daily Strength, My Utmost for His Highest and Our Daily Journey. I find so much to learn from them about God and Jesus Christ daily. I am encouraged to walk in faith in God daily. They are very good models as Husbands and Wives in their faith in God and serving God.

  120. mynewday says:

    Can people divorce for Spiritual Desertion or Abandonement from the other spouse?

  121. poohpity says:


    I believe that many can find any reason to get a divorce. I think that our God wants us to stick to the commitment or vows we make because He wants us to be people of our word. You can look in the bible and ask God for wisdom and find the answers you seek.

  122. joelandkathy says:

    Attention postonc

    You said:

    Charis, thank you so much for sharing and your encouragement, it has given me a some moments of rest. Unfortunately my wife, who has refused to communicate with me for almost all of the time of our separation, is now pressing via text messages to divorce now.


    Dear Postonc

    I just happened to notice your post in the middle of this topic that someone directed me to.

    Let me say that I did not have time to read all of the posts in this blog. It seems like an excellent conversation with many very thoughtful posts.

    Postonc – we specialize in two areas: helping couples go from misery to an outrageously happy marriage and helping men who have lost their wives and are working to win their wife’s heart back.

    It sounds like you may want to contact us to let us begin to help you to win your wife’s heart back. Hey, a wife who is texting you that she wants a divorce? That is, as I said, one of our two “specialties”.

    I believe that Charis sent you a link to our website and the baggage dvd. You should be able to track us down. I do not know the rules on this forum – I may not be within the rules to post a url. You can though, do a search for God Save My Marriage or Jesus Save My Marriage and the search results will put us up in the top of the results.

    Most men in your shoes do the exact wrong things – and they make things worse, and then make it sound like their wife is uncooperative. Your letter about your wife is “textbook.” You are just doing the wrong things and getting the normal results that a man will get when he does approach this process of restoration correctly.

    Blessings to you,

    Joel and Kathy Davisson

  123. joelandkathy says:

    Hi MyNewDay –

    Two answers:

    If a husband is in unrepentant abandonment or in unrepentant adultery, then he is acting like an unbeliever – and a wife is told to “let him go” – sometimes a man will “Say” that “I want to be in the marriage” – but his unrepentant/continued adultery/abandonment makes it clear that he wants out. A wife would be obedient to the Word to “let him go” – which in America means divorce. HOWEVER, we do NOT encourage divorce for the purpose of being divorced. We encourage it because MOST MEN, if the WIFE files divorce, will finally start to “wake up” and “get a clue” – and she can then require him to avail himself of help that is available to begin a journey to becoming a man and thus a good husband – then there can be a restoration.

    BTW – if a husband initiates the divorce, there is seldom if ever a chance that he will later change.

    Let’s turn this around.

    If a wife is in adultery or abandoning the marriage. A husband is called to lay his life down for his wife – so, if a wife gets messed up, then a husband is to work to agape love her and win her back to the Lord and to himself through his agape love. He is not to consider her an unbeliever and “save himself” from misery as a wife is supposed to do. He is to “lay his life down” for her as Christ did for the church.

    Note: third scenario: If a woman is married, gets saved and her husband is not saved yet, then she also is to agape love him and win him to the Lord. She cannot divorce him or leave him simply because he is unsaved. This is what Peter was talking about when he instructed a wife to win her husband without a word.

    Does a man lay his life down for a wayward wife forever, even if she never turns back to the Lord? The letter of the law would say yes. However, in our personal ministry, we have set some flexible time frames for a man – minimum of two years – but if they were married for a long time and have children etcetera, he should work to win her back for longer – up to five years, in worst cases. Then we offer that God’s grace would not hold this man to being single forever.

    However, that is our personal ministry position – and we take a risk in offering that grace to a man.

    Why DO we offer it? If a man will follow our advice and “plug in” to our ministry and do what we ask for two-five years – almost EVERY wife will be willing to be restored within that time frame. The problem is not getting the wife to turn back to him – the problem is normally getting the man to ACTUALLY change – and that takes time.

    This is an overview of some answers for you.

  124. gonwk says:

    This is the 1st time I am posting … but if the problem between Mwn & Women were so Simple then everyone would be Happily Married Ever After.

    The Rule is let the WIFE run the Show and Never Say NO to Her … and your Life will be … well as they say in Christian Lingo … “Blessed”!!!

    BTW, I have seen many of Good marriages Ruined by guidance of Pastors … especially when they Advise … Go & Pray and God will Show You the Answer. If these people knew how to pary to begin with they would NOT have been in the Pastors Office for Marriage Counseling to begin with! :D


  125. oceandeep says:

    I abhor abuse and violence as you do. I just want to state that it works both ways. I am a man, recently divorced by His wife. While she claimed abuse, I never hit her and was gentle and rarely angry, and faithful. I was frustrated because I was not loved and rejected. She used the “Silent Treatment” to make me suffer. I think she wanted to see our marriage work, but she only focused on what I was doing wrong and I focused on what I was doing wrong. In counseling, I was told to honor my wife as the weaker vessel, but it was, and remained (even stronger after counseling), a “its my way or the highway”. I think that too many times, counselors and clergy favor the claims of the wife over the husband. I was not respected and my mistakes were remembered and never forgiven. Yet, to this day, I am not angry at my wife, I accepted her faults, even though it was frustrating. I have lost all (and live several states from my children as I had to move in with my parents)but it has brought me closer to Christ. My counselor, I suffer from depressiona nd grief because of the divorce, after 1 and 1/2 years of gut-wrenching and brutally honest counseling has concluded that my wife has a narcisistic personality disorder. I think there are a suprisingly large amount of abuse cases filed by women (yet a very small percentage of overall divorce cases) use the allegation of abuse to gain support of their case. And her secret motive in my case was that she did not love me anymore. Abusive women generally abuse men in very subtle ways and can conceal their abuse more easily. And the courts generally side heavily with the women. Yes, the women are the weaker vessel, but be careful, some are not as weak as they portray themselves!

  126. poohpity says:


    I can not put the blame on either men or women but on peoples lack of getting to know someone really well before they jump into a marriage. People by pass making a friend first and usually but not always jump right into a sexual relationship. The foundation of any relationship is a friendship and that will always remain when all else fails and people do not understand to look for red flags that maybe an issue down the road. Some people think that those feelings that get aroused from sex equal love and that is a horrible myth. Both men and women abuse each other and other people in general it is just part of disrespect. A sign of our times and it just seems to get worse.

    As a women I would never claim to be the weaker gender but I have also allowed by heart to be broken but that was before Christ. Now I take time to get to know someone before I allow them my trust. I think it is sort of like when Christ told us to love others as we love ourselves. If we think about loving ourselves there are going to be some people we will not let them have access to our heart because they may not know how to care for it.

    I understand your depression and grief. I can not even imagine what it is like to not be with your children. Please do not judge all women with the thoughts of how your ex has harmed you because you may miss the woman that God has for you or He may want sometime with just you alone for awhile. I hope there will be much healing for you and being reunited to your children as soon as possible they will always love you.

  127. revrufusw says:

    As a Christian it seems fairly simple (although a complex issue). What woman would not want to be loved as Christ loved the Church? If the husband understands the true love of Christ he will share this with the wife which will be reflected in his attitude towards her. When a wife feels this “unconditional” love from the husband the natural response should be to want to please him, just as we wish to please God. This is assuming that they are in a Spiritual relationship; without Christ as a foundation there can be no security in the stability of the relationship. By focusing on the need of the other, a husband and wife will always have their needs met. This is not to say that is is smooth sailing,we battle daily with the flesh and will deal with adversity until we are transformed. We must always remember that our vows are a “Covenant” with God and treat it as such.

  128. poohpity says:

    Amen revrufusw, love given gets love in return from those who love the Lord.

  129. Barbara Roberts says:

    Abuse victims are crying out for other Christians to help them. You can read such cries in this post and in the other posts that Mart has written on similar topics.

    While many of the comments from non-victims are very sympathetic, I wonder how many commenters realize that some of what they say is actually REALLY HURTFUL for victims. Let me give you an example. I’m not wanting to single out revrufusw, because his/her comment is no worse than many others. Please don’t be offended refrufusw that I’m using your comment to illustrate my point.

    The comment was “By focusing on the need of the other, a husband and wife will always have their needs met.”

    A victim will ALREADY have tried and tried to focus on the needs of the abuser, and tried to meet those needs, anticipate those needs, and be the best example of godliness he or she is able to be (while sometimes falling short because the abuse is like a pressure cooker and you are always walking on eggshells to try to ward off ‘trouble’.)

    The comment above suggests or implies that by practicing the formula “Focus on your spouse’s needs” you should have a happy marriage. But what if the other spouse doesn’t care about your needs at all, but actively undermines and disregards your needs, your feelings, your very identity? What if they also bamboozle you with blame shifting so that you feel, “It’s my fault; I should try to be a better spouse”?

    This is what goes on in abusive marriages.

    The rest of the Christian community needs to understand this. How can I say this with enough passion to get it heard? Most of the principles that work for normal marriages are useless in abusive marriages. Period.

    Bottom line: it takes two to make a marriage work, but it only takes one to make it fail.

    Please think twice before uttering platitudes about how marriages can be made to work. Think about how your words could add to the guilt and a sense of failure of a victim of marital abuse.

    And I’m sorry if the word ‘platitude’ offends you. I know nobody on this site means to utter platitudes or be superficially dismissive of victims’ problems. But that’s how some of the comments come across to victims. And some victims will hear those comments not simply as platitudes, but as criticism and blame to themselves.

    In case you’re wondering, I’m a survivor of domestic abuse, ten years free.

  130. cherielyn says:

    Barbara Roberts: AMEN! Thank you for your valuable insights! I can identify and wish that in the past I had been able to explain this as clearly as you have. A person can just feel so beaten down that it is nearly impossible to verbalize their internal feelings to a well-meaning counselor or pastor in a way that will make sense to them. Unfortunately, too many of them just “don’t get it” and we are victimized, once again, by their well-meaning, but uneducated, solutions to our problems.


  131. Barbara Roberts says:

    Thanks Cheryl. Yes, I identify with that feeling that so many people ‘just don’t get it’ about domestic abuse.

    If any of you want to read further on the issue of submission, I suggest you do a web search for Professor Steven Tracy at Phoenix Seminary. When you find his page go to his “media” sub-page and click on the article titled “What Does ‘Submit In Everything’ Really Mean? The Nature And Scope Of Marital Submission”.

    And if you want to understand why victims often don’t leave and why they often go back to abusive relationships, do a web search for Not Under Bondage which is my website and look under the Resources tab for my article “Why Didn’t You Leave”.

  132. Laus says:

    Rather than submission, I will use the word adherence. Adherence to the decisions taken by husband is required for wife to lead the family and to grow. If that adherence or support is missing then there will be confusion and there everything will become standstill. No progress.

    In a family, as per God’s creation, man is the head of the family and woman is the supporter or helper as described in the book of Genesis. If the help is not extended by wife during the decision making times, then there will be issues and there will not be growth.

    Sam way as wife is also going to possess the eternal life, husband should listen to her opinions, pay attention adn consideration to them. However the decision making is left to husband only. There should be only one decision maker in the family. That is the husband as per the Bible. The situations in which wife fails to abide the decisions takens by husbands there will be separation in relationships.

    We need to be more careful abou this and understanding our role in front of God clearly will direct us in the right and everlasting path.

    May God Bless Us All

    (from India)

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