1Peter 5:2-3 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (3) not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
The following letter will raise your blood pressure. BP alert. An abuse survivor shared it with me after she received it from her (now ex) pastor. For decades she was subjected to ongoing abuse from a wicked husband, and her pastor admitted that her husband in fact abused her. That fact was not even in dispute in this case. But as you will see as you read, the pastor demanded that she submit to him (the pastor) and he ordered her to….well, you can read it for yourself. This letter was sent to her by the pastor when she separated from her abuser and was making plans to divorce him.
Hello _____,The elders have reviewed your email and my response below. They’ve reviewed and approved both my email before and this one now. We’ve come to agree and do now insist that you not move forward with divorce until we have the time needed to sort out P’s profession of faith as true or false through church discipline. And if he is determined (as best we can according to Jesus’ words vs P’s actions), then we would aim to figure out if he is still consenting to live with you.[Your biblical counselor] has also reviewed my email independently as a counselor (in the biblical sense) close to your situation and agrees with the content of my response. She empathizes greatly with the turmoil associated with how long this process is taking and is helping us keep your pain and longsuffering in the forefront of our hearts and minds. If anything this latest posture of his ought to (though deeply grieving) also inspire more confidence and faith in Jesus’ process of confrontation and church discipline. As I stated below I believe we will know soon whether P has been pretending to be a Christian or is truly repentant. Jesus designed his words to turn up the heat of accountability and to produce results. I believe we are seeing that now.At this moment, we as elders agree with one another, standing on God’s word, that your decision to move toward divorce is unwarranted biblically and is disobedience to Jesus’ very words in Matthew 19:6 that says “what God has joined together, let not man separate.”Your posture, though full of suffering and pain, ought to be driven not by the feelings induced by that pain, but by faith in God’s word and provision of strength for you and promise to complete you in and through this process. As the pastors who will give an account for your soul, we insist that you continue to follow the heroes of the faith as described in Hebrews 11 who all chose the more difficult road of suffering out of a resolved faith in God for the ultimate reward on the other side. Even Moses, “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Hebrews 11:26.Sister, do not believe the lie that says to choose to suffer is foolish or bad stewardship. That is a lie from hell that says we should avoid suffering even if it means going against God’s word, and that is what seems like you are beginning to embrace. To do so is to question Jesus’ own embrace of the cross and every Christians’ embrace of suffering in faith (before and since the cross).Please email, call, or text me as soon as possible to confirm that you are will not be telling your children of your plan to divorce. And please stand by as me and another elder meet with P as soon as he is willing, or move toward escalated confrontation in person if he is not.”