Stephanie’s Story – Part 5 – More Letters from the “Pastor”

We continue with Stephanie’s story of abuse not only at the hands of her ex-husband but in some ways even more so by her ex-pastor and church. If you have not read the first 4 parts of her story in earlier posts, be sure to do so.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4

Here is an email sent to her by the Pastor.  I continue to not use his name, but honestly he deserves to have his name and his evil words here posted on the mountaintops:
Please forgive me for taking so long to send this email but I have been extremely busy since last week. I have attached a copy of the minutes from the church meeting last week so you can see exactly what was discussed. Per section 4 of our church Constitution, The church cannot accept your letter of resignation at this time because I have recommended you to the church as a candidate for church discipline. This recommendation was given because at this point you have refused to meet for counseling since November of last year and you are not willing to continue to work on saving your marriage. The church will be meeting again this evening to determine whether to proceed with church discipline or not. If they don’t proceed with church discipline, they will be free to accept your letter of resignation at this time. I would encourage you to please come to the meeting to voice your side of the story before the church votes on this matter. If you can’t make it, you can call in by phone or you can send me an email that I would read on your behalf. Please understand that we still love you as a sister and we are deeply concerned and we are praying for you and your husband.
By His Grace and For His Glory,
Pastor ________
Can you imagine an abuse victim going to a lynch mob meeting like this at the church and “voicing her side of the story”?  Oh yeah. That would end well I’m sure!!
And here is the section from the church meeting minutes he sent her in which the entire church membership dove into the fray (against her of course). Words in brackets [ ]are my insertions:

Issue of the ______ family/recent communications and update (informational)
a. Review of constitution and discipline policies/procedures (handouts given)
b. Reading of Matt 16:13-19 “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
c. Letter of Resignation has been received from Stephanie to families
of church that includes the details regarding the circumstances of her marital union
d. Records of all communication is available for church members who desire to know the context of the circumstances to review due to the public nature of the circumstances
e. “Love covers a multitude of sins…” issues were being worked on privately to counsel both Terrance and attempts to reach out to counsel Stephanie in pursuit of this biblical guidance
f. Details of Pastoral guidance were shared:
i. Meeting in October with [abuser] and Stephanie by Pastor  and
[pastor’s wife]; plan of action was determined
ii. Met again with Terrance and Stephanie in November with Pastor and another biblical counselor (a couple) at her request
iii. Ladies of church have reached out to meet and counsel with Stephanie;
iv. Most recently, Stephanie has not shown a willingness to be counseled by both Pastor and/or the other counselor;
v. Terrance confessed his sin against God and his wife before the
congregation; confessed his sinful anger, emotion at the counseling
meeting and vengeance regarding the naming of another woman
to a cruise manifest. He summarized that he has not been leading his wife the way the Lord has commanded him to. He is requesting that the church continue to pray for him that his wife returns to him.
vi. We have identified that the home is the center of contention and bringing the condition of the property to a mutually “acceptable” state is the primary issue
vii. Stephanie, at this point, has given up on the marriage and is not willing to continue to work on the relationship
viii. Working through the issue biblically and communicating in a Godly manner to resolve conflict is at the heart of the matter; there must be mutual submission to one another and reverence for biblical process to arrive at peaceful resolution
ix. Brother ________ asked if there is any house work that need to be done to help the issue.
x. Church discussed response to letter of resignation;
1. Brother ________ asked if there has been any adultery or physical abuse; it was assumed based upon the communication that has been shared that Bro. Terrance has not been physically abusive or
not in an adulterous relationship.
2. Persistent theme is the refusal to meet with or counsel with Pastor;
it is assumed that, according to her refusal to resolve this
in a biblical manner, there is a disregard of biblical authority and
unwillingness to abide by the constitution process adopted by the
church.
3. There is an acknowledgment in the communications received from
Sis. Stephanie that she has no biblical grounds to seek a divorce;
she has been absent from church attendance/meetings and
moved from the marital residence.
4. Bro. ________ suggested she be given an opportunity to address
the church regarding her resignation and the circumstances of her
estrangement from her husband.
5. According to the situational assessment of Pastor, she is a
“proper candidate” for church discipline and recommendation for
church response will be determined at a follow up meeting.
6. We are to pray for our dear sister and brother that they be
reconciled to one another and that Sis. Stephanie would be
reconciled to this church body.

And there you have it. What a horror story! I have no words.

Stop Saying “God hates Divorce”

It hasn’t been that long ago that someone told me our church’s position on divorce was wrong.  We acknowledge that God permits divorce for habitual, unrepentant, hard-hearted violation of the marriage vows.  Sexual unfaithfulness, failure to love and provide for, desertion, and abuse (a kind of desertion) are, we maintain, biblical grounds for divorce.  In fact, these violations are what destroy the marriage, not the victim who files the legal paperwork.  My caller however, insisted upon her rendition of Malachi 2 – claiming that it says God hates divorce.  What she meant by this, of course, was that God hates ALL divorce and thus divorce is never permissible.  She is wrong.  Very, very wrong.  And her words do great hurt and harm to abuse victims.  Christians need to stop saying “God hates divorce.”

Continue reading “Stop Saying “God hates Divorce””

The Widows and Orphans of Our Time

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

There are literal widows and orphans today who need our help. Widows who are widows indeed, without even family members to care for them. But this biblical category of people who are particularly near to the Lord’s heart – widows and orphans – is much, much broader than most Christians have realized.  One lady commented:

Couldn’t all the passages that speak about caring for the fatherless apply to children who do indeed have a living father, but he doesn’t protect and teach like a father, but rather hurts them?  They have a biological father, but who would debate that they don’t really have a protector and nurturer.  Wouldn’t most everybody agree that we as a country do right to remove children from dangerous situations and place them in a safe home?   So, when the Bible speaks of caring for the fatherless and widows, I’m wondering if the woman who has a husband who doesn’t love her, but abuses her, might she fit under the category of widow?  She has a husband, but no one to love and care for her.

She is EXACTLY correct!  Here we are, looking all around us for widows and orphans, and yet we miss them.  They are right in front of us – many sitting in the pews of our own churches.  We are fooled, just because there is a man with them. But he is no husband or father.  He is their tormentor from whom they need rescue.

Continue reading “The Widows and Orphans of Our Time”