The following is an excerpt from a letter I received some years ago from a lady who was married to an abuser and who went to her pastor and his wife about the matter. Ultimately after it all played out, she was ex-communicated formally from her church for refusing to remain married to the wicked man. And then some years after that, the pastor was expelled from his denomination. A few people from the church apologized to this lady, saying that their leadership had lied to them. But no mention was made of their church’s failure to discipline her abuser, even though he was also a member of the church.
My Pastor and his wife asked to meet with me this past Sunday. I always feel a dread to these meetings, because I walk away feeling so hopeless after I have spoken with them. I am usually a real mess for a couple of days and just pray and ask God to show me if I am being rebellious in anyway.
These are some of the things that they have said to me, and I am wondering what you think of them:
1. They tell me that I need to make it easy for my husband not to sin. I am not certain how to do that. I have never said anything to my husband, that I know of, to cause these outbursts of wrath from him, but I think they think I must have done something. I do not argue with him or talk down to him. I do not respond to him, except with fearful silence, when he is behaving this way. My Pastor and his wife are very into nouthetic counseling and I do not know that much about it.
2. They tell me that I am not to assume anything, based on his past behavior or otherwise. They say that he said he loves me and they believe him. They say he said he was sorry, and that I need to wipe the slate clean and encourage him, instead of being angry and distant. I cry a lot over this, first of all, because he has repented so many times in the past, and it has always been false repentance. I also cry because I do not know how to make myself feel close to him anymore. I do not want to be intimate with a man who talked about me sexually, in the ways that he did. I am not certain I can heal enough from this, to trust him again or be intimate with him again. They think I should not think about the notes, but I can’t help but remember all the hate.
And the abusive controlling demands from the pastor continued –
“They say that they want me to send any emails I write to my husband, to them first, so they can make sure that they are encouraging to him. “
They say that I can never know that and it isn’t for me to judge him.
And the result of all of this “pastoral counseling”? –
These are the things that upset me so much that I just cry and cry. I feel so weak and defenseless after talking to them. Do you think that is rebellion on my part? Do you think that I am just resisting submitting to my husband?
These things are not uncommon. You can see how such “counseling” could even lead to suicide. It is absolutely spiritual malpractice but, unlike the secular counseling world, churches most often have no accountability.
*RASN = Revilers, Abusers, Sociopaths, Narcissists