Quoting Quiverfull: Don’t Divorce Your Abuser?

Quoting Quiverfull: Don’t Divorce Your Abuser? May 11, 2014
Cannot stomach the photos of abusers and their abused so here’s a pretty picture of conure parrots instead

from Ladies Against Feminism and Christian Worldview – What Should an Abused Spouse Do?

Trigger warning for harmful advice. The posting at Ladies Against Feminism and Christian Worldview has a very triggering photograph of abuse.

My suggestion is that you tell your husband that you want to be married to him, and that your goal is reconciliation, but that you are no longer willing to live under abuse. He has a choice to make. He needs to seek help, counseling and accountability through a local church, walking out repentance over time (I’d recommend six months for emotional abuse and at least a year for physical abuse) before you are willing to live with him again. The ball needs to be in his court. You are not divorcing him, but you are also not willing to be the brunt of his abuse anymore.

When/if you decide to separate, you will need to have a game plan. If your situation is dangerous, you may want to consider getting a restraining order (which is hard to obtain without evidence of physical abuse), contacting a domestic violence help line to find a domestic violence shelter in your area (for a short-term place to stay)  and line up  family or friends who are willing to house you (perhaps even in a secret location) on a longer-term basis until you find a more long-term dwelling you can afford. Depending on your situation, this transition process can be very dangerous for you and your children, so think it out well, pray and plan strategically, and move decisively.

If you go to a state-run women’s shelter, they will tell you to divorce your husband. If you talk to many people in the Church, they will tell you to divorce your husband. We need to remember that not only does God say He HATES divorce (Malachi 2:16), but divorce is NOT a simple solution that makes all of our troubles go away! There are custody battles, child support wars, split visitation, the influence of the other spouse when your children are away from you with him (or her), the possible remarriage of your spouse and the introduction of a new step-parent into your child’s life, and on and on. Divorce is nasty and ugly. It is not God’s design.

Read the entire article at Christian Worldview.net

If you are being abused by your husband or wife NLQ urges you to leave, leave  immediately, go to a shelter, to law enforcement, to family and friends, but please leave. You are worth fighting for. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M Dolon Hickmon


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Nea

    And then LAF wonders why a rising number of young people are publicly choosing to walk away from the worship of the petty, nasty god they portray. It’s not a hard choice between “god loves your abuser’s wedding ring more than your safety” and joining the “nones.”

  • Trollface McGee

    Adultery is grounds for divorce, while abuse isn’t – it boggles the mind. If you believe in God, then you have to believe that God has blessed you with some common sense.
    I want to give him some credit for saying that the abused spouse should at least leave (as long as it’s REAL abuse of course *sigh*).
    Also, I don’t know about other jurisdictions, but here, a temporary restraining order is not hard to get at all – most judges would rather be cautious and grant one and not have the publicity of a preventable death. And “state” run shelters (most are private) are there to keep victims safe, not to promote divorce, and in many cases, especially with fundie culture, can be a much safer alternative than family and friends.
    Because of the legal aspects of marriage – divorce is often necessary. Even if the abuser is not physically present, there are many ways that they can and will continue to abuse and control and marriage gives them a lot of tools. I’ve seen spouses that purposely rack up debt, change mailing addresses with the court so the other spouse doesn’t get mail and ends up in jail for missing court dates, etc. It’s also a lot harder if there are kids, and the spouses are still married, to keep the children away from an abusive parent.

  • Astrin Ymris

    To be fair, they DO offer another option to staying with the abuser and praying he stops abusing you. And they seem to recognize– in a roundabout way– that women are at most risk for being murdered when they’re leaving an abuser.

    But they’re wrong about what the Bible says about divorce. Jesus doesn’t forbid divorce, he just states that the divorced couple aren’t free to remarry until the natural death of their erstwhile spouse. Jesus also states that couples in “illegitimate” marriages are free to divorce and remarry. Many liberal Christian denominations take the view that spousal abuse is enough to make a marriage illegitimate.

    The only reason I exist is that my mother’s abusive ex-husband died before my mother was too old to have kids, so she was able to marry my dad.

  • Sara Lin Wilde

    When I was married to an abusive man, I was extremely put off by the idea that obviously every woman whose husband is abusive should get a divorce. I wasn’t ready to consider it – I thought he was redeemable, in a sense *needed* to believe he was redeemable so I could believe that I was, too. So a lot of people and institutions became “the enemy” to me because they had so little to say except for “obviously any smart woman would leave her abuser”, and thus reinforced the idea that I didn’t deserve to be treated any better than I was getting.

    This is the other extreme, where your community becomes one of the ties trapping you in place, because “good women don’t divorce”. I had some feelings like that too, especially early on. Really, they’re two sides of the same coin, where people want to blame and judge the woman instead of understanding her choices and supporting her.

    My ideal (and I’m so grateful to the people who helped me by providing this type of feedback)? Don’t judge any woman, real or hypothetical, who hasn’t walked away at the first sign of violence. That judgment just feeds her the same message the abuser’s serving up to keep her tethered: that she’s not good enough to deserve any better treatment, that the abuse is her fault and no better than she deserves, and that she’d get the same from anyone else because the problem isn’t him, it’s her. IMHO, the best message you can give to a woman who’s in an abusive marriage is “You are competent, capable, and special, and you deserve better treatment”. It’s up to her how she wants to get there, but we can’t choose her path FOR her.

  • Independent Thinker

    “you may want to consider getting a restraining order (which is hard to obtain without evidence of physical abuse)” Wrong, wrong, and more wrong. Threats via text message, emails, facebook posts, or other evidence pointing toward the threat of physical violence are sufficient to obtain a restraining order in many cases.

  • Nea

    Are you really surprised that someone like that would lie to make sure that women don’t think they have escape options? This is the divorce equivalent of those crisis pregnancy centers, who claim to offer full service but instead exist to make sure women make the “right” choice – the one made for them.

  • Gypsy Rose B

    Doesn’t Malachi 2:16 actually mean that god opposes infidelity that leads to divorce? It seems to me that the verse (and others that are used to say NO DIVORCE EVAR) are actually about not breaking the covenant of marriage by mistreating your spouse.. In particular, it seems to be about men mistreating their wives by shopping around for a newer model and abandoning them.

    Taking one line out of the context of the full passage is misleading:

    ’13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”’

  • Gypsy Rose B

    I’m pretty sure that the shelters and women’s programs give options and have victims’ advocates but aren’t allowed to pressure women to decide on divorce. The one in my town, at least, is very much about agency and allowing women to make their own choices.

    And getting a restraining order (or order of protection, depending on the situation) means that there is a legal record that the abusive spouse has been told to stay the hell away. This is undoubtedly considered in court when custody and visitation come up.

    The idea of this kind of scare tactic propaganda being the only thing a woman can see is totally frightening. THE STATE WILL TEAR APART YOUR FAMILY AND IT WILL ANGER GOD!!!

  • tulips

    Excellent point about being two sides of the same coin and I agree. One caveat I might make though is to distinguish between how someone would behave within a relationship that is already established and how to recognize *red flag* behaviors prior to investing in the relationship.

  • Sharon

    The thing that gets me here is that they’re essentially telling abused women that they should WANT to be married to their husband. I was emotionally abused, and it didn’t (thankfully, though I don’t doubt it could have) escalate to physical abuse. Still, I was (and still am) emotionally scarred enough to never feel safe, loved, accepted, happy with my ex. Anyone who suggests that I ought to feel differently makes me feel like my emotions and desires do not matter to God or anyone. I was abused; I didn’t leave because I was bored or generically unhappy, I left because I was actually considering suicide as a way to end the abuse and misery. I figured God would rather have me alive and divorced than not. There was simply no way I could heal while being married to my abuser. For one thing, he never actually changed when he said he was trying (and, he continues to be abusive in communications [which I block as much as possible] so I think my judgement is justified) and for another thing, while I can forgive him, I cannot love him like a wife would. “Having” to be intimate with him again makes my skin crawl; I wouldn’t sleep with someone who demeaned me and my feelings for years. How could I? It would be a huge violation of my person and my feelings. So, no, I don’t think I should have told him I still wanted to be married to him. I didn’t, and I think that’s justified.

  • Nea

    my emotions and desires do not matter to God or anyone

    Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! That is PRECISELY what No Greater Joy and Above Rubies and Ohlmans and Phillipses and Gothards preach. Women’s emotions don’t matter. Women’s desires must be throttled. God doesn’t care, God just wants to see X Y Z action.

  • Lynn

    I had a hard time breaking free and leaving, but part of my motivation was knowing that I want to model to my children that it is a good thing to leave an abusive relationship. I have as little contact with my ex as possible because I couldn’t stand it, but also so my kids know that nobody is required to pretend to be friends with an abuser.

  • There are links at the bottom of this comment. It is up to the abused wife to decide whether or not she will file papers. She may choose not to do so if separation seems sufficient for her purposes. (I do know women who have been separated over a decade because it was preferable for legal and financial reasons to stay officially married.) Or she may realize that in her case, divorce is the best option to keep herself and her children emotionally and physically safe. She is the only one who can make that decision, and she should be supported.

    I was reading the comments in the original article. I should say that nouthetic counseling can be a real mixed bag. There is a lot of sin-leveling – reminding the victim that she too is at fault and that her resulting bitterness is a sin. There also tends to be very little support for divorce among NANC counselors, even in abusive situations.

    I also wanted to share two links as a reminder that couples counseling is NOT RECOMMENDED in domestic violence situations, for at least 12 reasons.

    http://www.dhs.state.or.us/caf/dv/desktools/couples_counseling_12_reaso.pdf

    http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/articles/Policy-Statement-on-DV-Couples-Counseling.pdf

    And finally, my links for two of my own domestic violence articles:

    http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/10/we-cant-ignore-domestic-violence.html
    http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2014/04/bonding-and-bondage-in-abusive.html

  • Another thing to consider is that many people — especially those sitting in the pews with you — do not understand the dangerous dynamics of an abusive relationships. They think that most of them can be fixed if each party will just address the issues and change their behavior. Sure, this can work in a normal marriage, but an abusive marriage is an entirely different situation. The recidivism rate on domestic abuse is extremely high. Abusers are not interested in serious long-lasting change. They will change a little (or seem to change a lot) for a short time to regain trust, and then go right back to the power and control trip. It is so rare for a man who has an established pattern of aggression to change enough to make it safe for his wife to ever fully trust him again. To ask her to try to reconcile — even sometime in the future — is seriously unfair, unwise, and unsafe. There are many couples who do reconcile after abuse, and it goes back to the same or worse. I think the statistic is an abused wife will go back to her husband seven times before leaving him for good. That is, if she or her children aren’t killed or seriously injured before then. Can you imagine the sheer trauma of that repetition, even if only one or two times and not seven?

  • BTW, I am planning a follow-up article on domestic violence (to the one I wrote here: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/10/we-cant-ignore-domestic-violence.html), with a focus on people’s reactions when a woman starts telling her story. I am looking for women affected by domestic violence who would be willing to answer several questions. (Suzanne, please remove this comment if it is not appropriate for me to do this.) Identities will be completely anonymous when I write the article, and I will not share identifying details with anyone else at all. I will probably also mix answers together so I can do them topically. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me at virginiaknowles at gmail dot com. These are the questions:

    ***

    1. What comments or questions did you hear when you shared your story with others (family, close friends, acquaintances, church leaders, social services, etc.)
    2. How did those comments affect you emotionally? Did they make a difference in the choices you made after that?
    3. How did you respond to the comments or questions at the time? How would you change that response now that you know more?
    4. What was most helpful or least helpful for people to do or say?
    5. Anything else you would like to share?

    Also, as a little demographic background:

    1. Are you still married? If yes, are you separated? If you are separated or divorced, how long has it been since you lived with him? Have you been separated more than once?
    2. How long were you married?
    3. Do you have children?
    4. What kind of religious commitment (such as devout conservative evangelical Christian) did you have at the time of the abuse, and how has that changed? Did you find it necessary to leave a church because of their stance on abuse?

    Thank you so much.

  • I hate myself when I go to their sites and leave snarky comments.

  • Jason Pearson

    I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of this, but for a group of people who “have all the answers”, Christian fundamentalists seem to spend an enormous amount of time wringing their hands and worrying about women toeing the line and/or dealing with abusive a-hole husbands. It’s pretty much an admission of failure in that area and (being a Christian fundamentalist myself), it’s downright embarrassing. Not the Stone Age anymore, folks–time to grow up.

  • gimpi1

    Perhaps she’s assuming the real world works the way her cult does, where women and kids are assumed to be lying, and anything but immediate, cheerful obedience is grounds for assault. Sometimes people in these insular churches truly don’t understand what’s it’s like out here in the “worldly” world. If they did, they might just join us.

  • Jesus did not oppose divorce to protect abusers. He opposed it because at the time it was mostly used to dispose of a wife that the husband didn’t want.

  • Allison the Great

    God loves you (kind of, as long as you’re not gay, a democrat, a feminist or someone who doesn’t believe in him, or if you’re a woman in which case he only mildly tolerates you) but he wants you to stay in a dangerous relationship because well, fuck you, you’re a woman.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    Totally with you. In the 1st century, a woman could be divorced for any reason, and set away with no money, a ruined reputation and no ability to see her children. The religious laws of the time were set up so that a man could do this with no loss of righteousness. Jesus called BS. I persoanlly think he would call BS on using his words to protect the righteous status of a guy who terrorizes his wife.