[If you haven’t yet read the earlier posts of Stephanie’s story, here are the links – Part 1, Part 2]
Stephanie’s pastor and his wife continued to make excuses for her abuser’s wickedness. Now Stephanie tells us how they stepped up that pressure. We will include some of the actual emails and letters that the pastor sent her in the next installment (Part 4). They are like letters from the kingdom of darkness.
Stephanie continues now with her story:
The pastor had ordered us that no marital issues or concerns, or any questions we (mostly aimed at me) might have were not to be discussed with family members or church friends. Nothing could be discussed concerning our marriage and life outside the house.
I would check the church prayer list every week, and now I was wondering if I would find that the church had removed me from it. I had sent a letter to the church to be released from membership. What I did find listed on the prayer list was this: “That the Lord would grant her [ie, ME] repentence and grace to fight for her marriage.” There was no added prayer request for my husband!
After the meeting with the pastor and the counselors, I was still receiving daily texts from the pastor asking me what my plans were, when I was planning to come to more counseling, and telling me that divorce is not allowed and that “you don’t have grounds for it.” These texts went on for three months until I filed the papers for divorce.
I was tired of being harassed by the pastor, so I sent in my letter of resignation to the church on January 21. I received an email Jan 30 from the pastor stating that I was a candidate for church discipline. My sins?
- Because you are refusing to counsel with me.
- Deliberately considering a unbiblical divorce.
He also said that the church will have to vote to consider my resignation letter.
However, when I checked the church constitution, I found that it says that once a letter is received, the church is to immediately release the member no questions asked. Nevertheless, on February 13 I received an email stating that the church voted to enact church discipline against me.
I heard nothing more from the church until June 19, 2019, when I received the excommunication letter in the mail. This was of course very hurtful to me and it continues to hurt me even now. All the while my husband runs free from any discipline or punishment.
By August I had no access to the prayer list. I hope that means I am off of it. I came into this marriage debt free, had a job, and a paid off car. Now after leaving this marriage I am in debt, I have no job and no car! But as of August 27, 2019, I was officially divorced and FREE out of bondage from enslavement to a wicked man and a wicked church.
[In Part 4 we will publish the communications Stephanie received from her ex pastor and church].
I Woke Up
“Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. But I also know that you are trying to kill me because my message hasn’t yet penetrated your thick skulls. I’m talking about things I have seen while keeping company with the Father, and you just go on doing what you have heard from your father.””
You are free through and through! I love the Message (paraphrase) in these verses. It is clear that your former husband and church are still listening to the father of lies. You did well to LEAVE that evil. Now, run and DON’T LOOK BACK!!! God will use your experience to help others, just as he has done me. He already is with your willingness to share your story here!
I Woke Up
I am also I Woke Up. I don’t know why it’s posting as my other user name, creelcrib. No worries here, just letting you know.
I Woke Up,
I changed your last 2 comments to reflect your screen name ‘I Woke Up’
If you have a WordPress account by default your screen name will appear as the name you have set with that account. To change that you would need to go to the Profile Settings of your WordPress acct. And sometimes I think WordPress just has a mind of its own. 🙂
Bless you Stephanie, so glad you’re free! I’d love to hear updates every now and then as to how you’re doing.
It’s incredible how arrogant and ignorant these ‘pastors’ are to think they have any say what so ever in your life, they truly think they are God, yet they are the lowest of the low – his behavior was shameful and sinful…and disgusting. He was trying to isolate you too, it’s part of the same pattern of all abusers and abusive cultures. He’s the one that needs to be excommunicated, along with your husband, you were truly surrounded by wolves, again, so happy you escaped and are free, how brave you are and were.
Know that you are being prayed for now by people who truly care about your well being and understand the truth of what you’ve been through. May God restore to you all that was lost, materially and spiritually. God Bless!!
Thankful to be free
My situation was financial abuse which was determined by our minister to be “borderline abuse”. My ex refused to earn, ran up debts and left me with all the bills – many in just my name plus I was primary caregiver and working full time plus a second job. I would cook meals and he would refuse to come to the table because his work was too important for him to stop and eat with us. He was chasing a pot of gold and neglecting his children and me. I had been asking for help with our marriage for years. He was never going to change. He still feels he was in the right.
It’s like the word “abuse “ has taken over from sin. Sin took him over a long time ago and that was not ok. There was no doubt what he did was evil but abuse? Maybe not -technically – so I was told to invite him home with financial boundaries. So I did in obedience. Of course he didn’t like the boundaries (look for paid work, reduce our costs) and so he refused. But the church didn’t call him out on that.
today he sits in our church service and the kids and I have been ostracised because I did the leaving. There was no church discipline for him and I am left in the cold. Thankfully I have met a kind man and have a new job and my faith has shifted into overdrive. I pray I will settle in a new church. I feel sad for the church I loved because they don’t have the courage to stand against sin (which is ironic because it’s a conservative church and can at other times be judgemental ) and they are left with the unfruitful man in their congregation.
Thankful- yep. I see this same scenario all the time. I am sooo glad you are free. Thankyou
Wow ! I can’t believe All these comments i2 am receiving from my blogs! So healing and encouraging.
Also are you adding the church discipline emails and all the Ex pastor texts too before the excommunication letter?
This is so wonderful that it is out on the web for the world to see and know about! I wish we could say what church and pastor!! But that wouldn’t be nice.
Thank you, Stephanie
I just wanted to mention that it is very biblical to warn others of any kind of danger. If a situation, place, person etc. is going to cause great harm to others that we have dealt with, it is a good thing to warn of the danger (Ezekiel 33). Paul the apostle names Alexander the coopersmith in 2Timothy 4:14 as doing him much harm and to be on guard against him. There are many more scriptures about exposing bad people. I am grateful you are free from the abuser. They are indeed of darkness and extremely oppressive to be around. Blessings.
Rowan on the high mountain
The pastor’s response is a textbook example of how not to deal with a husband abusing his wife–counseling the abuser and his victim together as if the abuse is a marital problem for which they’re equally responsible, telling the victim she should return to her abuser, trying to help the abuser isolate and control his wife, and, finally, the DARVO maneuver of demanding the victim repent rather than the abuser. I’ve wondered for years why so many see the inability to trust and reconcile with unrepentant abusers as less forgivable than repeated abuse–I’ve encountered the same attitude in both professed Christians and non-religious people.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of hearing one of those astonishing sermons that sometimes appear when you need them most. While talking of abuse by clergy and religious institutions, the preacher criticized the idea of “mandatory forgiveness,” said that forgiveness was a gift that should only be freely offered, and stressed the necessity of acknowledging and atoning. He mentioned an oak he’d seen growing on a rock ledge as a metaphor for those who persevere in spite of mistreatment, which is similar to why I chose the name I use here. I once saw berries on a small mountain ash (also called a rowan) growing from a crevice in bare granite on the top of a mountain, and it’s a symbol of hope for me–that even if my circumstances are bleak and I’ve been stunted by them, I’m determined my life will bear some fruit, however scant.
Stephanie, I wish you continued healing and abundant blessings in the life ahead of you.
I totally got “the creeps” reading the pastor’s 1st reason for the “church discipline”:
“Because you are refusing counsel with me.” The “with me” sounds like “I own you.”
This issue separates the sheep from the goats. The reason some people “don’t get it” is because this matter is spiritually discerned.
Our church has had three cases where our senior pastor actively encouraged the woman to leave an abusive marriage. My husband and I were shocked however when other’s would side with the abuser no matter how much we tried to explain the evil. Maybe the people not wanting the abuse exposed don’t want their own issues exposed?
It has been eye opening. My heart goes out to all women in this type of situation. It has become a daily matter of prayer for us. Since we have “woke up” we have been shocked at how often we hear of abuse. Praying for all the people here who have found support and healing.
Nailed it. Yes indeed. Spiritually discerned.