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abused-womanWe’ve been looking at some tender passages of bridegrooms covering their wives with protection, and how they are a reflection of Christ. It is important we look at the opposite, which our Lord addresses in Malachi 2.

I lost a husband I loved to death. I have what the Scripture calls “sweet tears.” Some of you have lost a husband to divorce, or abuse. You have what the Scripture calls “bitter tears.” Some of you are in the midst of an abusive marriage, and you fear separating for financial or emotional reasons. And yet, the only hope for your husband is if you do separate and demand he get help and show the fruit of true repentance before you or your children return to him.

This Malachi passage has often been distorted, making it mean the exact oppositie of what it actually means. It is a difficult passage, but when the Hebrew is understood, can bring such comfort to the victim of physical and emotional abuse.

If you have a friend in this situation, please encourage her to read, even join us.

1.  In the last post we looked at how the Lord covers us, and how a husband, if he is sacrificing for his bride, covers her. Summarize what you learned.


2. Here in Malachi we have the Lord thundering at husbands who failed to cover their wives. The most accurate translation of Malachi 2:16B is “I hate a man covering his wife with violence.” Looking at the context will help:

A. In Malachi 2:10-11, why is God angry with the men of Judah?

B. What are the men doing to try to cover up their sin according to Malachi 2:12-13?

C. Why will God not accept their offerings according to Malachi 2:14?


3. What reasons does God give for His anger at the men who have cast aside their wives (without even giving them a certificate of divorce so that they could remarry). Find as many reasons as you can in verses 15 and 16.


4. The phrase “I hate divorce” is often taken out of context and thrown at the victim. Why is this the oppositie of the intent in this passage?


5. For those of you who have The God of All Comfort, read pages 207 through 209 and comment.


6. Read this article from Christianity Today online. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html

I think this is an excellent article – most Christians accept that infidelity and abandonment are the two scriptural

reasons the New Testament gives for allowing divorce as the covenant has, indeed, been broken by the perpetrator.  This article goes into what abandonment, according to the Old Testament really means. Read this carefully, summarize, and give your supporting or dissenting views.


7. If you are a victim, why does the truth of this passage show you that God will deal with your abuser? How can this help you forgive?


8. How might you apply this lesson personally?

8. Abused women often will not speak up — will not enter in. We may not hear from them on this blog, but I know many are reading. Some fear leaving for financial or emotional reasons. Would you pray for them here?

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


  1. My Tender Heavenly Father
    Thank You for giving me the privilege to bring to You my sisters who are living in affliction. They are living in, as I learned from my own experience, a ‘taste of hell’. How You yearn for them to experience a ‘taste of heaven’! You see my sisters when they are weeping in private. You hear the cries of their souls. You heard my cries for fourteen years. My sisters need courage Lord. They need courage first to admit to a trusted friend they need help. They cannot fight this battle alone. They may not realize prayer will give them silent strength. Oh how they need that strength! Give them courage Lord to connect with us on this blog. I pray that the bonds of fear will be broken. I pray they will come to see You are a God who can be trusted. I know how hard it is to admit I need help. Pride needs to be cast aside. I ask You Father God to deliver and rescue my sisters as You did for me. Cover my sisters with the protection of Your heavenly hosts. I praise You for being Jehovah-Jireh-the God who provides. I praise You for being El-Roi-the God who sees. Thank You for Your mercy. This battle is worth the fight. You yearn to bring your people to repentance so You can bring about reconciliation and restoration. I pray that every word I share brings glory and honor to Your Holy Name. Amen.

    1. Tammy, what a beautiful prayer! As I put my “Amen” to that, I agree with every word you wrote. And I would also add this from my own experience:

      Lord, help these women who are in bondage to abuse to be honest with themselves and with others. Help them to see, even as You’ve helped me see, that “the TRUTH will set us FREE!” (John 8:32) And, Lord, I would pray that those of us posting on here would post with insight, compassion and understanding. Guide us, Father, as we proceed. May the bonds of the enemy be broken!

      1. Wonderful prayers sisters!

    2. I also echo your beautiful prayer, Tammy. You pray and speak with wisdom from your experiences of “being there”.
      I would add that may the Lord break the bondage of suffering in silence for women who are in abusive relationships and the lies of satan who wants to keep these women in their situation.

  2. 2A. God is angry with the men of Judah because they haven’t honored the covenant, and have married daughters of a foreign god.

    2B. To cover their sin, they are coming before the Lord’s alter and crying, groaning, and weeping.

    2C. God will not accept their offering because they have been faithless to their wives.

  3. 3. They were faithless to the wives of their youth even though God had made them one flesh(v 15), and given their union a portion of His Spirit(v 15). They didn’t guard themselves against faithlessness(v 15). They didn’t love their wives (v 16), instead they covered their wives with violence (v 16).

  4. I’m stuggling with question 4 because, as Dee puts it, I’ve had this statement “thrown” at me many times. I can’t see how these verses mean the opposite?
    As I think about this, I see I need to allow the Lord to penetrate this hurt and heal me.
    Please pray for me as I struggle to allow the “God of all comfort” heal me! Thanks.

    1. Lord Marlys and I are struggling to see the truth in Your Word. Quicken our spirits Lord. We have to revisit our past and, although the pain has faded, I don’t know about Marlys, my wound is still healing. I know You hate what has happened to the both of us and to my ex-husband’s former legal wife. Thank You for giving her the courage to tell me the painful truth. You never intended for marriage to be treated with such contempt. I thank You for showing me that yes You do hate divorce and the reason You hate it is not because the offended spouse is committing sin but because the offended spouse is done wrong. What a God You are! Amen.

  5. 1. Summarize what you learned from last post.

    I have gone back and read everyone’s answers to the last post. Thank you Susan for sharing Hosea 3:1-3 from the Amplified Bible. Take out Gomer insert Tammy and you have the summary of my past way of living. What I have learned from the last post is that God will love me again-a woman who gave herself to many Baals. As the old song goes I was ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’. I know now why I feel as if I’m isolated. God is waiting for me to prove my loyalty to Him. He’s not going to give me anything that will lead me away from Him. He knows my ‘I want to be self-sufficient’ heart all too well. Some think I am a little extreme in my decision making. For instance, a group of Christian singles are going bowling Saturday night but I am not going because it’s co-ed and I’m not ready to mingle with the opposite sex socially. I’m following the counsel I get from DivorceCare and I’m still hearing socialize with same-sex friends. So, instead of bowling, I’m going to a Taste of Home cooking show at the local high school with my friend Holly.
    God has ‘wiped the slate clean’ and is giving me a second opportunity to live in FULL obedience. I find myself writing down clear commands I hear in sermons so I won’t forget them. One I heard last year was “When things get good don’t forget God”. In the past when my circumstances would change for the better I would tell God, “Thanks for helping me with this problem. I can handle my life from here. I’ll call you when I need you.” What an arrogant and foolish attitude I once had!
    Charles Spurgeon considered prosperity an affliction. When I am ‘prosperous’ again I want to continually remember I can’t live in my own strength. Everything in my life is not mine, it all belongs to God. I believe if I get that seared in my heart and mind now I can avoid the temptation to return to the old habit of leaving God out of my decision making.
    From Psalm 91 I learned God covers me with provision and protection.

    2. A. In Malachi 2:10-11, why is God angry with the men of Judah?

    God is angry with the men of Judah because they have polluted something in which God takes great pleasure-the sanctity of marriage. The men of Judah were unfaithful to God.

    B.What are the men doing to try to cover up their sin according to Malachi 2:12-13?

    The men of Judah are playing the hypocrite. They are acting with remorse-shedding crocodile tears- for being called on the carpet for their sin. They are worshiping God for all the wrong reasons.

    C. Why will God not accept their offerings according to Malachi 2:14?

    The men of Judah had not only married pagan wives, but they had divorced their first wives to make room for their new ones.

    3. What reasons does God give for His anger at the men who have cast aside their wives (without even giving them a certificate of divorce so they could remarry). Find as many reasons as you can in verses 15 and 16.

    In verse 15 God first reminds the men of Judah they are ‘one flesh’ with their first wives. God has joined them, and by His Spirit He has worked on their behalf to strengthen them.
    God next tells the men He seeks godly offspring. God wants the children set apart and taught to worship only Him.
    Finally, God tells the men of Judah they are in need of a serious attitude adjustment.

    In verse 16 God considers the atttitude of indifference of the men of Judah to their wedding vows and duties the same as a traitor. He tells them He hates divorce and why-for it covers the wife with violence. The Hebrew word used here is CHAMAC. (Strong’s 2555) violently deal with; wrong.

    1. Tammy, I applaud your right spirit to listen to God. I know people who have gone through divorce care and benefited greatly. Your Charles Spurgeon quote is very good, certainly one to remember. I too am so glad God wipes the slate clean.

  6. What is that old saying about a ‘fine kettle of fish’? I feel like I am trembling spiritually, as if on the brink of something that scares me. I read the article and was quite amazed. I had the surgery I referred to before on 12/18/07 and on 1/1/08 I walked through an open door and left my husband of 25 years, fully convinced that God had called me to do so. Everyone except my sister thought I had lost my mind. I was befuddled, but sure I had heard from God. I really did not know the reason why. I knew why I was unhappy, even angry, but what had changed from God’s perspective, I did not know. I questioned God repeatedly and He always reassured me that I had done as He called me. That winter I went to a women’s retreat where Dee was the speaker. I ran into an old Mom’s In Touch prayer partner and we prayed for my husband. She prayed the ‘right’ prayer for him. By that I mean she prayed for what the Holy Spirit knew he needed and I knew it at the time. In May he came to salvation and in August I came back home. It was a miracle that I could bring myself to come back because up until that time I so did not want to. Since then I have looked at the whole incident from every angle, analyzing it, questioning. Did I do the right thing in leaving? Did I come back for the right reasons? None of it really makes sense to me. I hope I gain some understanding as we continue to study.

    1. I guess I have to ask, Anne: why are you questioning? You acted in good faith, and left because you felt God telling you to leave, right? I think it could be the enemy getting you to question it. Am I being too harsh here? I hope not. I don’t mean to be. It just seems to me that you heard God, acted on it, and left the outcome up to Him, right? Isn’t that what He asks all of us to do with our lives? Just a thought!

      1. I question because I was not the only one involved and because I want to understand the whole thing. Walking with God is something that I have had to learn and if ever I make a mistake I want to learn from it. I don’t think you are harsh at all. It is a reasonable question. I have been told that I think too much but I really want to understand things. This study and reading that article got me wondering and thinking I might be on the brink of getting some things. I want my marriage to be real and living. I guess I still think the problem is something I’m doing wrong. Let me rephrase that, something that I can fix.

        1. I love it when God awakens me to new truth, Anne, whether it is hard to face or reaffirms what I already knew. I too have a need to be able to really grasp things in my understanding so I can relate to what you are saying.

        2. Anne-
          Your saying you wanted to somehow “fix” things is a VERY clear indication to me that there is a very good chance that over time your mind has been bound up by some form of emotional abuse. Most of these things are much harder to pinpoint than physical or sexual abuse is. That makes it the most dangerous, and most difficult to explain to family and friends that probably don’t even see these things happening.

          The greatest sign that can indicate someone is in an emotionally abusive situation is that you carry the blame for EVERYTHING. You try fix things that you had no ability to stop from going wrong. That would mean the only thing you did to contribute to the situation, was to agree that your needs don’t matter as much as ___________________’s do.

          A thinking pattern like that is going to take some time to change enough that it is comfortable to live in, but it IS possible. If this is true for you, then your mind has kind of been trained to think about what you did wrong and how to fix that.

          This is a process that you’ll have to start changing by NOT letting yourself dwell on what you’ve done wrong… but shifting that focus into what was done right. It takes time (sometimes it is HARD to do), but I do promise the doubt and questions will fade as your perspective and new normal becomes more comfortable to live in.

  7. I found this particular walk to be the most reflective…. because five years ago I did leave an abusive marriage but that was not until after 11 years and every ounce of who I once was had been drained completely. I now wish I had some of these words and thoughts as defense for my aching heart during the times I needed them the most.

    I was terrified of how I might face the world, loosing half of my friends & family… to the point that staying felt easier somehow. It was dreadful sometimes, but I also knew exactly what to expect where I was and I knew how to play that game. Walking out represented something I didn’t know at all. It took so much courage to get out the door that it took me a full two years of getting my heart ready before I actually left.

    For a long time I avoided the subject of divorce with every Christian I knew, because I was unsure if I’d be scorned or embraced if the subject ever did come up. Most of the scorn I had to endure for getting divorced actually came FROM the church at first. Now that many of those people have watched me struggle through the healing process, most of them say the shift they’ve seen in me has actually changed their perspective about divorce in the case of abuse.

    Abuse kind of is a beast of its own, and is very difficult to completely understand unless you’ve been through it. My advice as one who has been there… is to LOVE, pray for and support those you know in these situations. Be careful to remember that staying in an abusive situation has a high cost, but so does leaving.

  8. 4. Okay, I’ve prayed and pondered this question the better part of the day. Yes, I know God hates divorce. But it’s not the only thing He hates. He hates when husbands don’t love their wives “as Christ loves the church.” (Eph. 5:25)
    My husband & I were living a lie. God hated that. God hates sin. After 30 years, I told my husband God wanted me to honor the Truth. The complicated part for me was that my husband was raised in a Christian home, and knew the Bible inside-out. He used it against me. If I’d ever say I was leaving, he would throw out this scripture, “God hates divorce.”
    I started to speak the truth in love. I would say, “No, that isn’t true,” when he would accuse me of things. God honored that. I was confused at the time as to why calling attention to the truth was so powerful, but it was. And what it did was take the power out of my husband’s words against me. He lost control. His emotional/verbal abuse no longer had the same affect on me. Ladies, the truth is powerful!
    Yet, reading this scripture, “God hates divorce,” still makes me wince inside. I see now, years later, that it is because my husband twisted it. God hates divorce because it’s violent! But that doesn’t mean He wants us to stay in a violent marriage; He hates that, too.

    I have been divorced for 12 years, and God has given me the grace to grow closer and closer to Him. He shepherds me. He loves me! Praise His name!

    1. Praise the Lord for you, Marly’s! You are so right when you say truth is powerful.

  9. Wow, what wonderful sharing today! This is truly a safe place to share our hearts and that speaks to the approval of God on this study.
    I couldn’t resist reading the C.T. article first because even though I gained new understanding on this issue in the past from Dee’s writings, the preaching I was raised in was so steeped in judgment that I find myself still holding onto some uncertainties about scriptural reasons for divorce. This article really encouraged me to adopt the “true” biblical way of thinking as my own and helped me grasp the setting in which God said he hated divorce. I also appreciate the last line in the article that says, God’s law is both practical and loving. Isn’t that so true about our heavenly Father! The writer really brought it all together for me when he said the grounds for divorce are listed in the Old Testament and then affirmed in the New Testament. I wish I could turn back time and advise my own dear sister who held on to her marriage through such terrible mental abuse by her drug addicted husband. I pray this powerful truth will get out and save many people much unnecessary pain.

    1. Dee,
      I like how you worded the question, “When a woman has obeyed the Word and the Spirit of the Lord and still receives a sense of condemnation from brothers and sisters in the church, how should she respond?”

      I’m staring at my computer screen– and have mentally gone through many answers to this question. Ultimately, the answer is to respond how Jesus, when He was doing the will of His Father, responded in to condemnation from religious people. He continued to pursue His father’s will with love, grace, and truth. (easier said than done, and impossible without His power).

      Switching churches may not solve the problem (though I might do it — moving to where no one knows me). The phrase “sense of condemnation” includes a couple of things: true condemnation (which does happen) and a “sense” of condemnation (maybe misinterpretation or expecting to see condemnation where it doesn’t exist).

      After many, many years, it’s finally starting to soak in that other people don’t spend the majority of their waking minutes thinking about ME. They are thinking about their own lives. When I’ve run into moments of condemnation (or what feel like condemnation), I blow them up into ” this church condemns me” or “I’m not good enough for ____” Then I’ve gone to LOOK for hints of condemnation from others to reinforce those perceptions.

      Looking at situations from “the other side:” If I don’t like what someone has done, I briefly think “I don’t like that” — and then am on with my life. Why would I spend my energy “condemning” someone when I have better things to do and think? If I had learned when I was much younger to separate what may be real condemnation from my own overdeveloped radar and SENSE of condemnation, my life would have been much easier. When I receive “real condemnation” from others, I do need to examine my own heart before God. If my heart is right with Him, the condemnation I am experiencing is probably the result of the condemner’s own pain and self-protectiveness.

      My natural response is to “fight back” — give people a dose of the truth. Sometimes I’ve been feisty enough to fight for others who I think are being condemned when I’m on my pursuit for justice. When I’m in the midst of pain and feeling condemned, it’s very difficult to respond with love. But Jesus loved us when our sins condemned Him to death. It’s too easy for me to respond to condemnation with self-righteous condemnation, making me just as bad or worse than those who are I think are condemning me.

  10. #1. What have you learned from the last post, on how the Lord, or a bridegroom, covers us?

    The lesson on Hosea was powerful. Gomer and the people of Israel were adulteresses. I can be one, too. I can set up idols in my heart and commit spiritual adultery against God. Sometimes the idol is even myself, and it shows up in ingratitude, selfishness, and self-serving attitudes, and an unhealthy self-love.

    I think of Gomer, on the auction block, her sin and shame exposed for all to see. It had to be an atomsphere of shame ( I hardly imagine her standing there proudly) and taunting and mocking. When God rips the cover off of us, exposing our sin, He is not like those people and how they treated Gomer. He doesn’t do it to mock us, to make us feel cheap and dirty and unforgiveable. Even as He uncovers our sin, He is still “covering” us with His love, mercy and forgiveness. He remains faithful even when we are unfaithful to Him. Even His discipline is meant to protectively cover us and to turn us around and back to Him.
    If He didn’t care, He wouldn’t bother. He remains the faithful Husband, even when we have played the adulteress. No, He doesn’t look the other way at our sin, but He offers forgiveness when we repent.

    It makes me think of how Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery in John’s gospel. The Pharisees dragged her through the streets, clutching her clothes, they wanted her publicly humiliated for her sin. Jesus wanted to forgive and restore her.

    It makes me think how Jesus endured that public mocking and shame for our sin so that we don’t have to be treated that way by God. The ultimate covering is the blood of Jesus, shed on the Cross.

  11. Tammy’s post about “now I know why I feel isolated” and looking back at the passage in Hosea chapter 3 has me thinking, too. Gomer had to go through that period in which she lived with Hosea but without the sexual intimacy, until her repentance and loyalty were shown to be true.
    Sometimes I wonder why God doesn’t give me this or that. Many years ago, He ended a friendship in my life in which I know I was committing spiritual adultery (at the time I didn’t see it, but God did discipline me and brought me to the place where I had my eyes opened).
    I mean I was living for this particular person. When I did see my sin, I actually thought, well, now I can “handle” my relationship with this person because I will be careful. The Lord brought about an end to the friendship. Looking back, I am glad He didn’t just sit back and let me go, because I would have been stupid enough to really get myself in trouble. I can see now He was protecting me, covering me.

    But I too have the tendency to wander from God, especially when things are going okay, and to live self-sufficiently. It’s something to think about, anyway, that God doesn’t give me even perhaps close relationships with certain people, kind of like Hosea and Gomer. Maybe He doesn’t want me substituting someone else for Him. I’m glad Tammy brought that point up in her post.

    1. Have you ever considered the perspective that maybe Hosea needed to prove to Gomer that his love was not being given to her as a way of gaining control over her?

      Women who have given themselves as Gomer did really DO believe that they are only shown kindness as a way of asking FOR something in return. She was trained by life to respond to kindness of men with sexual favors. Her actual survival depended on it, because if she missed the mark she didn’t eat that night or was beaten rather than paid for her service.

      Gomer would have never been able to accept Hosea’s love as real if he EVER asked her to preform for him in that way. I personally think this season of no sexual intimacy was actually a gift that allowed Gomer to (in TIME) learn to trust Hosea’s motives than it was a season for her to prove her own changed heart.

      1. So true Amber.

  12. One more question, for those ladies that have a son in prison (Janet), and there was someone else whose son was in prison but who is no longer there. Our neighbor’s son has been arrested and charged with a very, very serious crime. I would like to know from those of you with this experience, what were things that people did for you that were the most helpful. I am praying for the family but also wondering what practical things may be of comfort to the family. Also were there things that people said or did that made things worse? I don’t want to do that.

    1. Susan, your willingness to be used by God in your neighbors’ dreadful situation brings tears to my eyes! Bless you! God will answer your prayers. I’m praying for you!
      Speaking from experience:
      -Make yourself available to listen.
      -Offer to pray with them, then pray God gives them strength.
      -Ask what you can do to help (watch kids, laundry, cooking, driving etc).
      -Stop the gossip of others in it’s tracks!
      -Be afraid to reach out to them.
      -Offer advice unless asked.
      -Try to make them feel better by saying, “God has a plan etc.” They do need to hear this, but only in God’s perfect timing.

  13. 6. There is much in this article I don’t agree with. Specifically one of his reasons divorce is okay:
    -Emotional and physical neglect
    -Abandonment and abuse
    I agree with the adultery, abandonment and abuse reasons completely. I think this is supported in scripture. But emotional/physical neglect? Don’t even the best marriages have times of “emotional neglect?” I’m not talking the severe type, that would fall under “abandonment/abuse.”
    I just don’t think scripture is that vague. I think we can count on scripture to speak for itself, and we can count on it meaning what it says. And keep in mind this is coming from a divorced woman! I think it’s dangerous for the church to adopt this almost casual view of the marriage covenant.
    I did a bit of research, and came across an article by Dr. John Piper refuting David Instone-Brewer’s article. I don’t agree with Piper totally either. He seems to swing too far the other way. He seems to say never, ever, ever is emotional/physical neglect biblical grounds for divorce. That’s also to extreme, I think. Anyway, these are my thoughts on the whole issue.

    Here’s a link to Dr. Piper’s article:

    1. Abandonment and neglect are NOT the same thing as a passing time of not wanting to be around one another.

      Abandonment is rejecting the needs of another as valid.

      Neglect is failing to respond to the needs of the other party as a form of punishment.

      I don’t think any healthy marriage contains those kinds of punishment. If it does, then there is a need to heal just like after any argument where things you later regret were said.

      1. I agree, Amber

    2. Thanks, Marlys. Those were my thoughts, too. Instone-Brewer indicates that neglect occurs on a continuum or spectrum. Since this continuum ranges from “really bad” (your health or life depend on getting out) to almost typical, I think he is leaving the door wide open to a too casual view of marriage. Because his definition of neglect seems so broad, I think he has hurt his argument about the worst neglect or abuse (which is too bad).

      Interesting, he talked about how the meaning of the phrase “gay old time” has changed over time, but didn’t address different cultural meanings or different ways people might perceive, express, or define “love” or “neglect.” By introducing changing language (and I agree that use of language changes), he set the stage for the necessity of clear use of language — and neglect was defined broadly.

      Because I wanted to re-examine my beliefs about divorce & remarriage, I wrote a couple of pages before I read anything here. But I’m not ready to post what I wrote 🙂 I think God allows divorce in certain situations, and sometimes it is necessary.

      Thanks for the link to Piper’s article; I haven’t read it yet, but it’s good to have “both sides of the story.”

      1. I challenge you questioning some of these lines of thinking to consider the following:

        A child that is raised in a 100% abusive home, was born there, raised there and moved on to be a fully functioning adult… this is HOME to them. This child has no concept of what a healthy relationship between two married people even looks like. To this child, a common shove is simply a deserved nudge when they didn’t like something. They honestly don’t KNOW anything else, to them it all feels completely normal and part of being married to shove someone else. So they are totally unaware of their actions as even being harmful much less abusive. It is almost impossible to help this one understand that a shove is simply pushing.

        I would then ask: IS the other party that feels these actions are wrong out of line for hurting over it and taking steps to stop it from continuing? Why would that change when your talking about emotional abuse with hidden scars of the heart (silent treatment ect.) rather than shoving?

        Divorce is far from being a painless choice. Right or wrong there are costs involved in doing it. Kind of like choosing to suddenly quit your job, there ARE costs for making that kind of choice. Those costs come, no matter WHOM thinks we made a good or a bad decision.

        The most important thing is to question yourself about if YOU are going to judge or simply decide to love the individuals facing this difficult decision of divorce.

        1. Thanks, Amber, for joining us! I love your insights!
          My grandson came to live with me 3 yrs ago when he was 12. His father (my son) was abusive. Keep in mind HE was raised by my husband & I…not healthy! Verbal abuse, emotional abuse all that. So, like you’re saying, my son passed on the abuse to his son.
          By the grace of God, another adult son came to live with me at almost the exact time. He has worked through many of “our” issues, and is quite healthy.
          He tells my grandson, “Whether or not something is hurtful is decided by the one who is RECEIVING it, not the one DOING it.” I’m confident this is breaking this cycle of abuse in our family. My grandson (now 15) is starting to learn how to treat others by the way they receive what he does and says. No longer is it acceptable to say, “But I didn’t mean it like that,” or “You’re just being to sensitive.” If someone says something hurts them, it hurts them.
          Does this make sense? Hope so!

        2. I echo Marlys in thanking you for joining us. What you described was my childhood. Divorce is the norm in my family. I am the only member in my immediate family that has never been divorced. As I have shared before my marriage died by annulment.
          You are so right when you state the child grows up thinking unhealthy relations is okay. But, as a child, I knew something was not right with my family. God blessed with me with caring adults (church members, family doctor, and teachers) who showed me healthy love.
          I would like to encourage everyone reading the blog to get a copy of MENDING THE SOUL: UNDERSTANDING AND HEALING ABUSE by STEVEN R. TRACY. I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Tracy speak on Day of Discovery program a few years on the topic of abuse. He and his wife minister to abused women. If the body of Christ would take the time to understand the why of abuse and express compassion instead of condemnation, then maybe more people in abusive situations would feel safe coming to the church for help. One of the first comments I heard after I learned the truth about my marriage was, “Tammy, you’ve been living in sin!” Another leader of my church family told me that I needed to learn to take of myself. The message I heard was “I don’t want to help you.” And the truth is, because of that statement I’m don’t go to church leadership for help. I run to God first and He provides the help through the caring members of my church family. The lesson I learned was I can’t depend on a certain individual for support.
          As we know time heals no wound but healing takes time. As I have shared before, I lived in unhealthy relationships for the first 45 years of my life. I don’t have the funds for professional counseling but that has not stopped God from counseling/healing me through His word, the above mentioned book, Dr. Vernick’s book THE EMOTIONALLY DESTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIP, and this study. Oh and I forgot to mention FOCUS MINISTRIES which is headquarted near Chicago. If you need a safe place to talk to someone, they have a private forum. Paula Silva, the president of FCOUS ministry once lived in an abusive relationship. She is one of the few in the Christian community who is striving to make a difference. FOCUS stands for Focus On Christ who is the Ultimate Satisfaction.

        3. Tammy,
          Very wise statement about running to God first. I also learned not to depend on church leadership. Unfortunately, I applied that too thoroughly, with too many people, and for way too long, and am only beginning to grasp that I can trust some Christians. I’m also learning that many Christians are experiencing their own pain and react to others based on that pain; hurting people sometimes hurt others without realizing it. You’re doing very well to rely on Him to lead you to the right people in your church family.

          I like what the name FOCUS stands for (hadn’t heard of it). Our ultimate satisfaction is in Christ, and He provides healing. I suspect (though haven’t searched Scripture) that hurt caused by the church or Christians is best healed in the church (though possibly a different congregation) by relationships with godly Christians who recognize that only God can heal. It’s way too easy for me to isolate myself, especially when I think people don’t understand. Again, I applaud you for being willing to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to other believers.

  14. I am just in from work and catching up on today’s comments. Amber, my husband was emotionally abusive and very absorbed by his own needs. In the months before our separation I had a book by Leslie Vernick called The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I could not finish it. I was exhausted by it. I knew it was true for me but not in the extreme I thought. While my husband loved me, he didn’t really care about me. We lived separate lives and he was fine with that as long as his needs were met. After about 15 years I learned to just not ask or expect. It was not worth the battle. I don’t want to get into a self pity party so I won’t go on, but then again, maybe I should look at it in writing. When he came to salvation, he really was different but he has not been faithful to do the things he needs to do to grow as a Christian. He is trying and does not lash out at me anymore but I have heard him do it to Joey when he thinks I am not in earshot. I am weary and don’t know what I should do if anything at all. I catch myself praying again for the Lord to just take me home. That should be a red flag for me. My older son Al is so sensitive to being made to feel guilty and now I realize why. He tried so hard when he was Joey’s age. He thought he could fix it. Seeing this just makes me weep. Joey on the other hand is clueless and does not play the game. He and my husband have almost no relationship.

    What all this means for me right now I can not begin to guess but I know that God will make it clear as we go on together.

    1. Anne-
      I was once in your shoes… you don’t even need to explain I know quite well what your saying.

      I personally decided to leave but it took me a full two years of back and forth questioning my motives, his motives, my children, literally EVERYTHING. That process was difficult and draining in ways I can’t begin to explain, but I wouldn’t trade that part of thinking things through for the world. Knowing it was MY choice and I was NOT forced into anything and KNOWING I didn’t leave one day because I was upset or angry honestly gave me the strength that I’ve needed to move through.

      What that process actually IS (outside of the emotions):

      YOU are making a choice to react and respond to your world, your environment, your God, your family based on what YOU think, what YOU feel and what YOU believe. This is a process about YOU discovering what you want and need. When you find it, YOU will have peace in doing whatever you decide to do. The fact that your even walking the walk of considering what you want is huge. There are NO shortcuts in the place your at right now, because everything needs to be sorted through.

      My only advice is if your going to allow yourself to visualize the ‘worst case’ that could happen to you is to keep going through the story in your mind until you come out of that place. Don’t stop your little story line with you stuck, hurting, helpless and unable to figure out where to go. You also can’t end the story dead because that isn’t really your story, that is sort of quitting… this isn’t about how to quit. I’m saying to keep going past that point of the worst you can possibly imagine happening and see yourself having made the choices, having walked the difficult steps and moving on to a life that is free from those questions. What does that world look like? How did you get there and how long does that process take in your story? When you find the end of THAT story, keep remembering it when the swirls of really hard things to think your way through and react to do come your way. One thing I know is no matter how bad things get (TRUST me I’ve seen and endured pretty bad) there is a point that things eventually start going another direction.

      1. Amber, I think you were very smart to plan and think for so long. My mistake was in not doing that. I took the easiest path but it was not the right one. I was like Joshua with the Hivites. I did not pray about it. I took what God said and made my own assumptions. I know however that that is not the end with God. Every day is a clean slate.

    2. Anne
      I would like to encourage you to go back and start over with Dr. Vernick’s book. God used this particular book to literally save my life. I didn’t like it either at first because I had to face my hypocrisy. Once I dealt with that God really began to work in ways I could not imagine.

      1. I did pull it out this morning. I have so much to think about and work through right now. I appreciate all that has been spoken to me. I have to keep going back and rereading, especially the things Amber has said. It is very hard for me to understand right now. I’m going to have brunch with my older son this morning. I pray the Holy Spirit will guide our conversation. We need to talk about so much of this but I can’t do it today. I’m on edge emotionally and I am far from understanding.

  15. 2A. In Malachi 2:10-11, why is God angry with the men of Judah?

    According to the Amp. Bible, because the Jewish men broke their sacred marriage covenant to their Jewish wives and to God, to marry daughters of foreign gods.

    B. What are the men doing to try to cover up their sin according to Malachi 2:12-13?

    Tears were shed by the wife who did NOT offend and then the tears of the men who tried to bring an offering or bribe God, but God rejected the offering.

    C. Why will God not accept their offerings according to Malachi 2:14?

    Mal. 14 : Yet you ask, Why does He reject it? Because the Lord was witness [to the covenant made at your marriage] between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously and to whom you were faithless. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant [made by your marriage vows].

    3. What reasons does God give for His anger at the men who have cast aside their wives (without even giving them a certificate of divorce so that they could remarry). Find as many reasons as you can in verses 15 and 16.

    A married couple is one flesh, man did not control his spirit by God’s spirit, God seeks godly offspring from a holy union, the man dealt treacherously, and faithlessly.

    4. The phrase “I hate divorce” is often taken out of context and thrown at the victim. Why is this the oppositie of the intent in this passage?

    God hates how treacherously people treat each other and the fact that the person/s is not Spirit controlled, but selfish and controlled by ego or self with total disregard of the other is what God hates, thus disregarding the sacredness and protection or sanctity/refuge which God designed marriage to be.

  16. God is always most concerned about our hearts, not the building or beauty, not the money or material, nor the riches or rituals, but the motive of our hearts filled with His love for him, ourselves and others.

    Once again the question is: Is the greatest commandment to love being fulfilled?

  17. 6.Christianity Today article:
    Read this carefully, summarize, and give your supporting or dissenting views.

    I love how the author concluded in the article:

    “And, more importantly, victims of broken marriages can see that God’s law is both practical and loving.”

    “Love, honor, and keep” are the basis of a godly marriage. If violated, divorce, to me, has occurred already and certified divorce is granted by God. Remembering, God is and always will be a “practical and loving” God. God is for us, not against us. All He does is out of love and for our ultimate best.

    I have prayed with my daughter to have her, now engaged father to return for remarriage, stating nothing is impossible for God. I grew up in horror … my mother married 5 times. I do not want my children to experience this. Even after reading this article.

    I still think I will remain single until my husband’s return or I die. For it is written, singleness is less distracting in ministering to God and with God. I like such simplemindedness. I am not saying remarrying is wrong, nor is God, for that matter.

    This is my journey with God and where I feel God is taking me. I have been abused for about 35 years of my life. Neglected by my husband due to weight gain after my pregnancies, I feel (there was his baggage, I realize), I felt rejected to the core.

    Being single gives me the environment to heal in, after being sexually abused, date raped, involved in a same sex lifestyle, then married and having children, this feels best for me for now.

    The church after knowing about my same sex attraction, recently denied me counsel with another woman for my grief for my recently departed brother. They, without asking me, set me up with a man. What they didn’t know, is I had bi-sexual tendencies, so male or female there is always a potential for lust to arise or attractions to occur.

    I told them of the both attractions and told them I did not want a man because women respond to grief differently than men. They said they would refer me to an outside counselor. By then I felt furious how they, pastors of God’s church couldn’t even offer help to a grieving person no matter what background. What a shame.

    I am now scared of churches in a building.

    1. Livingloved,
      I am SO sorry to hear that the church didn’t reach out to you in your deep grief. Please don’t give up on “churches in a building” altogether — that’s not easy for me to write. I think I’m writing it partly to convince myself. I’m thankful that God is trustworthy; but I still struggle with the trustworthiness of many of his people.

      God has (finally!) brought me to a place of enough healing that I see that the next step is to respond with love (or at least more patience) when people are jerks. He is also teaching me that people often react in offensive ways due to their own blind spots and limitations. This really is the NEXT step for me. Right now, it’s hard not to take everything personally.

      Thanks for your honesty. Your posting helped me see that I still need to lean into the Lord with my own fears about church. I’m praying for you (and still looking forward to seeing your brother dancing in heaven!).

      1. thanks a lot, i am burnt out from getting disappointed, i need to heal, how long that will take, i don’t know. But i do have fellowship with other believers at a pace and portion which is healthy for me now. Thank you again. Looking forward to that dance!

  18. This picture of an abused woman is interesting. Her body language speaks of extreme abuse but there are no marks on her body.

    1.In Hosea God speaks to the unfaithful wife. He woos her back to Himself and covers her with love, protection and provision. Jesus sacrificed His own body for His bride. When a man marries a woman he is responsible before God to cover his wife in this way.

    2. Here in Malachi we have the Lord thundering at husbands who failed to cover their wives. The most accurate translation of Malachi 2:16B is “I hate a man covering his wife with violence.”
    a.Their fathers had a covenant with God to marry only women of the Jewish faith. They profaned His sanctuary by marrying the daughters of foreign gods. This is treachery against the daughters of Judah. They are brethren with one Father but have acted treacherously against each other.
    b.It seems like they are shifting the focus off of their own sin with profuse displays of emotion. But their tears are tears of loss, not tears of repentance. Offerings mean nothing without repentance. They are offering religion without their hearts. It is our hearts that He wants as offering. If He had their hearts they would love His commandments. Because He did not accept their offerings, they did not receive His blessing.
    c.God did not accept their offering of tears because they were not tears of repentance. They were tears of lost blessing.
    3. What reasons does God give for His anger at the men who have cast aside their wives?
    a)They are His creation and made in His image. What they are doing maligns His name. b)God’s purpose is that godly offspring be the result of marriage. We have seen in our discussion that children have little chance of being godly if raised in an abusive marriage. c)The men are acting unjustly toward their wives, even treacherously. The men are affected by their sin (covering his garment with injustice). How can they be close to God if they are soiled?
    4.This passage is spoken to the one who did not keep the marriage vows, not the victim. It has been thrown at the victim to say that she/he is the one who broke the vows by leaving.
    5.Comment on pages 207-209.If I understand correctly, the original language that has been translated to say that God hates divorce really says that God hates men covering their wives with violence. It speaks to the one who did not keep the marriage vows.

  19. 7. If you are a victim, why does the truth of this passage show you that God will deal with your abuser? How can this help you forgive?
    The first thing I have to do is remember Hosea…
    God still covers me even if my husband does not. Whether He calls me to stay or to go, He will cover me. I know that God sees his sin and will deal with it as He did in these passages. That frees me to forgive and it also frees me from feeling that I have to allow him to behave in whatever way his sinful heart leads him.

    1. Anne, I like your attitude in the last paragraph above…it’s truely up to God to deal with your husband. And, yes, that is freeing, isn’t it?
      In my own experience, God has dealt with me about not being honest. He still deals with me about honesty in all my relationships! I have a tendency to ignore it when someone accuses me of saying/doing something to “cause” them to treat me poorly. I’ve had to learn to speak the truth in love.
      1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” True, Godly love delights in the TRUTH. That is huge.

  20. I appreciate Anne’s comment on this week’s picture. Her body language speaks of extreme abuse, but she has no marks on her body. This is such an accurate picture of the abuse I suffered for 30 years! No outward bruises because I was never hit. Yet I so identify with this woman’s body language. The creator of this peice of art really knew what they were doing! Very poignant!

  21. 4. Why is the phrase ‘I hate divorce’, when taken out of context, the opposite of God’s orginial meaning?

    It is the opposite of God’s original meaning because the one offended is made to feel they are the one doing wrong.

    5. Comment on pages 207-209 in The God of All Comfort.

    I reread these pages this morning before heading out to my very first T-ball game. (one of my Awana Cubbies is playing) The story of Hurricane Katrina victims was a reminder that life can and does change in an instant. It has been almost five years since Katrina hit New Orleans and as I read these words, I could see in my mind the news reports of people being rescued. So many criticized the people who stayed behind and got caught when the levees gave way. Those people had no way of knowing that was going to happen, just as we don’t always know when the water will overtake us. I am so grateful that I worship a God who will never tell me “Tammy I’m not going to help you”. I also liked the statement, “He has provided me with new friends, new songs, and new sermons that have fortified my soul.” (pg 110) That is exactly what God has been doing for me these past 19 months. I read Psalm 118 this morning and was reminded “His mercy endureth forever.” I believe that is God’s greatest attribute.

    6.Comment on Christianity Today article.

    I agree with Dee that this is an excellent article. What struck me first was Instone-Brewer’s compassion. And I appreciate his sensitivity. However, when I read Exodus 21:7-11, something didn’t sit right with me so I did background research. I read two commentators, John McArthur and Warren Wiersbe, and I have come to the conclusion that Instone-Brewer may have used these verses out of context. Both commentators point out the slave wife was due food, clothing and marital relations. Wiersbe pointed out that if the woman had been purchased for a man’s son and grew to dislike her and took another wife, then it was the father’s responsibility to see the slave wife received what was due to her. If not she was then free to go back to her family and was no longer considered a slave. I know Instone-Brewer was saying a woman is to be provided the basic necessities of life by her husband, but if he is not, is that a legitimate reason for divorce? I don’t agree with his opinion on that issue.
    Can we not say that the church has adopted the attiude of the world? Or, maybe, a worse attitude because I understand the divorce rate in the church is higher than society’s.
    I have an article in my collection titled “The Silent Killer of Christian Marriages” by Amy Wildman White. I’m not tech savvy so if someone could google it and post the link I would appreciate it. The website is safeplaceministries. The silent killer is emotional abuse and the article lists the characteristics of emotional abuse, the traits of an emotionally abused wife, and responses to emotionally abusive marriages. I want to share the following statement from the article.

    “It seems that an emotionally abusive marriage can survive only if the woman breaks free from manipulative control and moves to place of strength, thereby forcing the husband either to change or to lose the relationship. The husband is unlikely to change unless the cost of staying the same is too great.”

  22. I totally agree with what you quoted from that article. In my case, I became empowered by God to speak & act on the truth, which ultimately ended my marriage. That wasn’t what I would have wanted, but at the same time I couldn’t go back on my committment to God to be truthful. I have to say, I would do it again because NOTHING beats obedience to God! Nothing!

  23. As I prayed and read all the comments I feel like I have grown as a person. My heart goes out to each of you that have been hurt. I have a new resolve to love those who have suffered through divorce, truly love, pray and not judge. I encourage those contemplating divorce, for whatever reason, to pray and have a time of separation before divorce, a time to seek the Lord with all your heart and give him opportunity to work, before proceeding. I will pray that the healing balm from heaven will comfort and encourage each one. I open my heart God to change me where I need changing, correct me where I need correcting and love through me as I have been so loved.

  24. 1. In the last post we looked at how the Lord covers us, and how a husband, if he is sacrificing for his bride, covers her. Summarize what you learned.

    I learned that Christ is the absolute Lover of our Souls, who provides for us in tender ways as a lover does, treating us with gentleness and grace at every turn. He is the example of how earthly husbands should treat their wives. If we are covered in Christ we lack nothing!

    2. Here in Malachi we have the Lord thundering at husbands who failed to cover their wives. The most accurate translation of Malachi 2:16B is “I hate a man covering his wife with violence.” Looking at the context will help:

    A. In Malachi 2:10-11, why is God angry with the men of Judah?

    10 Have we not all one Father [a] ? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?
    11 Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god.

    God is angry because the men of Judah have broken faith and married daughters of foreign gods.

    B. What are the men doing to try to cover up their sin according to Malachi 2:12-13?

    12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob —even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.
    13 Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.

    They are making offerings to God just for show and make big gestures of pleading with the Lord. But because they are remaining with their sins, the offerings and tears mean nothing.

    C. Why will God not accept their offerings according to Malachi 2:14?

    14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

    They have broken their marriage covenants and not kept faith with their wives.

    3. What reasons does God give for His anger at the men who have cast aside their wives (without even giving them a certificate of divorce so that they could remarry). Find as many reasons as you can in verses 15 and 16.

    15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. [a] So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
    16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself [b] with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty.
    So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

    God has brought couples together (made them one), God wants godly offspring, God hates faithlessness, God hates the action of men covering their wives with violence.

    4. The phrase “I hate divorce” is often taken out of context and thrown at the victim. Why is this the oppositie of the intent in this passage?

    God hates the action of faithlessness, not those who are victims of it!

    8. Abused women often will not speak up — will not enter in. We may not hear from them on this blog, but I know many are reading. Some fear leaving for financial or emotional reasons. Would you pray for them here?

    Dear Jesus, Lover of our Souls, I pray for each woman who is facing abuse. Please let them know with Your gentleness that You love them and are always with them. Please meet their needs at every second. You alone know their tears and their wounds, and You alone can heal them. I pray that You would please do this in their lives. All in the Mighty Name of Christ I pray, Amen.

  25. Hope this song ministers to you as much as it does to me:


    1. It does Marlys. I will remember that the promise is that when everything fell, we will be held.

    2. thank you, Marly, for that reminder, i love that song, and the God who inspired it and holds us all deep in His heart and lives deep within ours, even when we don’t feel Him.

  26. 7. If you are a victim, why does the truth of this passage show you that God will deal with your abuser? How can this help you forgive?

    Simply that our Father knows all and is a just God. If God is mindful of these priests and their offense against these women, God is mindful of our husbands and the offense done against us. And, God will avenge.

    Forgiving is apart of me guarding my spirit so I don’t end up with the same heart as the abuser.

    8. How might you apply this lesson personally?
    Simply by clinging to God and His Word, knowing he is acquainted with all that concerns me and like a good Husband will avenge me and protect me, loving me all the way.

    8. Abused women often will not speak up — will not enter in. We may not hear from them on this blog, but I know many are reading. Some fear leaving for financial or emotional reasons. Would you pray for them here?

    God, You said to call you Husband like no other, you know each and everyone of us. The deep pain and sorrow, bruises, cuts and hopelessness. I ask you would again avenge your women, help us to forgive as an act of love and thankfulness to you for your righteousness, love and justice.

    The violence you have experienced and endured by others shows you understand us, so help us to wait upon you to renew our strength, to walk and not grow weary, to run and not faint. Give us the wisdom as we learn to fear you properly with awe and respect. Respecting also ourselves as your valued women. Fill us with hope and new vision like only you can. In your hands, held in your heart, safe, provided for and sound, thank you.

  27. After reading the above article from safehouseministries I am confused and yet not. In the opening paragraph it states that this kind of abuse is most often not detected. This certainly has been true in my case. I have had contact with the counselor at my church for the last several years. I love her and think that she knows what she is talking about but the bottom line of all that she can tell me is that I’m just going to have to love my husband. The result has been my thinking that this marriage is not good because of me. In every area of my walk with Christ I can see measurable success and answered prayer except this one. The only thing I have been able to be is passive, at that I have become very successful. If I am not mistaken, the command is for husbands to love their wives and wives reverence their husbands.

  28. That is a very good point Dee. I am seeing love all wrong. I read Love Must Be Tough 20 years ago having children in mind.

    1. Anne, I’m praying for you! Here’s a quote from the article on safehouseministries:
      “By allowing an abuser to continue in his destructive patterns, a woman is not loving him. She enables him, permits him, to continue in sin.”

      1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the TRUTH.”

      1. Thank you for your prayers Marlys. I really need them. As Dee said, hearts can be so deceitful and I have a tendency to be self centered too. I need a level head and God’s wisdom. I also need courage and discipline. I hate confrontation.

        1. Father in heaven, I praise you for Anne in this study. She gives care to others but needs special care from you. I pray that she will feel your presence in a real way. I ask you to clear up all the muddy areas and give her and those who advise her your insight. May she know without a doubt that you have spoken. When our sisters need prayer, bring them to mind so that we may serve one another in love. Thank you for being with our teacher and for all the good fruit that will come from this weekend’s retreat, give her supernatural strength.

        2. Thanks Kim. God is so good.

  29. Has anyone seen Rhema Marvanne, a 7 year old girl singing gospel songs on youtube? Check out her singing Amazing Grace for 4:23 min’s. She is wonderful!

  30. Wow! Here’s the link. Thanks, Joyce!


  31. Wow! What rare talent. That was great!

  32. Hi. It would be a good idea to copy and paste that article from Christianity Today in its entirety for everyone to read.

    The linked page only let’s you read part of the article unless you subscribe to the magazine or are already subscribed. Some of us cannot pay for subscriptions just to read one article. When you’re already hurting and in a bad situation (often financially too) this can be very discouraging when you’re trying to follow something in order to help yourself or a loved one.

    Thank you for listening and posting this otherwise exceptional topic.

    So few know that the word “garment” in that verse also means “wife” (depending on the context) in the original language. The translators didn’t seem to think ‘garment’ (Strong’s concordance #3830 in Hebrew) was used out of context here.

    If I had seen this teaching in 1984, my first year of marriage, I might have been spared 25 years of misery.

    I hope you’ll post the full article for those who can’t subscribe to the magazine just to read that one article. Keep up the good work. God bless you.