"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

15 Words and 15 Seconds That Save Any Marriage

A remarkable number of marriages will end in divorce. Every marriage is susceptible. The path to divorce is never short; it's a winding trail that often circles upon itself again and again. However, I've never met a couple on the journey toward separation who didn't at some point wish to jump off the trail and heal their marriage. The problem is usually discernment, not desire. Few couples seem to know the proper way to maintain a healthy marriage or to heal a broken marriage.

I recently toured a wine factory in Morocco. The wine master walked us through the very tedious and precise manner in which Moroccans make their fine wine. There is a formula. Those who don't know the formula--or refuse to follow the formula--cannot produce fine wine. Likewise, there is a formula to maintain healthy marriages and to heal broken marriages. Though every person and every marriage is as different as snowflakes, the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it.

The formula involves 15 words and 15 seconds.

The Fifteen Words

"You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

Say this to your spouse. Say it out loud. Say it intentionally. Say it thoughtfully. Say it lovingly. You may not at first believe it; but say it. When you walk into a room that's dark, you don't understand how electricity works, but that doesn't keep you from flipping the switch. You don't have to understand how light works to enjoy its effects. So too, these words are a panacea for broken marriages. You may not understand how they work, but don't let it stop you from saying them.

Most couples spiral downward because each spouse points the finger at the other. "You are the problem!" "If you would only ...." "You never..." "You...you...you..."

Your spouse is never the source for any turmoil within you; neither is your spouse the solution for the pain you feel within

There's no doubt that the actions of the one you love can be hurtful or painful; but the Apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content (i.e. "self-sufficient") in who I am" (Philippians 4:11). Many English translations wrongly translate Philippians 4:11 as "I have learned to be content in whatever state (or circumstances) I am" but the words "state" or "circumstances" are not in the original. Paul learned to be self-satisfied in who he was.

So, who are you? 

Many men receive their identity from work; but that's not who we are, it's what we do. Many women receive their identity from those to whom they are related. "I'm Mary, the mother of..." or "I'm Suzy, the wife of ..." But that's not who you are; that's to whom you are related. I tell women all the time they better not get their identity from their husbands or kids because for eternity they'll neither be married (according to Jesus) and their kids will be the same age as they are. 

Likewise, men, until you get your identity from some place other than work, you'll never understand what it means to be content in who you are. 

So, again, who are you? 

The Apostle Paul said, "I am who I am by the grace of God" (I Corinthians 15:10). Your identity is to come from the incredible grace of God. Who are you by the grace of God? You can only begin to answer that question by saying, "I am...."

I am loved by God's grace. I am adopted by God's grace. I am guided by God's grace. I am forgiven by God's grace. I am justified by God's grace. And on, and on, and on. That's who you are by God's grace.

When you understand who you are by the grace of God, then you are "self-sufficient" regardless of your circumstances. You may have a spouse whose actions cause all kinds of trouble; but your spouse is never the source of or solution for the trouble or pain within you.

God is both the source and solution for what ails you within.

The Fifteen Seconds

After you speak those fifteen words lovingly, intentionally, and thoughtfully, kiss your mate for fifteen seconds. Don't pull back. Push in. Push in sweetly; softly; sincerely. 

Kissing is intimate. It is an intimate expression of your love. As you move in to kiss for fifteen seconds, you are communicating "I love you as you are; for who you are; and not for what you give. I have all I need in Christ, independent of you.  I am loving you as God loves me."

The words are the principle by which you live; the kiss is the passion by which you love.

You'll find that it's not nearly as difficult to love your spouse as God loves you when you stop blaming your spouse for what you feel inside. 

When the love of God in Christ becomes your Source, and when Jesus becomes your "balm in Gilead," the healing takes place within which only He can bring. It is only when you are filled up with God's love (see Ephesians 3:19) that you begin to leak His love to those you love.

In my experience, the major reason marriages end is because someone on the trail toward divorce never steps off and assesses the situation from the perspective of God's grace for them. We are called to "live a life consistent with our calling" (Ephesians 4:1). That means graced people should live gracious lives. 

God never designed your spouse to be the source of your fulfillment nor the solution for your pain. 

God's grace is sufficient, You are who you are by His grace.

Remember the 15 words and the 15 seconds next time you feel yourself wanting to blame your spouse for your internal unhappiness.

God is your Source, not your spouse.

164 comments:

Pege' said...

AMEN!!! No better truth could be spoken.

mirriam ndunge said...

great article

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

This is from ‘doubting Thomas’ who imagines a picture of a married couple.

One has blood running from their finger which is in a vice squeezed by the other,

If the 15 magic words were spoken would it help the situation?

:)

Wade Burleson said...

In marriages with physical abuse, the physical pain must be stopped by calling law enforcement. Then, while visiting your spouse in jail, you speak the fifteen magic words and afterwords inform your spouse that you are filing for marital divorce to show that you are strong enough to live without someone who treats their spouse in a manner directly opposite of the way Christ treats the church. That's loving your enemy. Anybody who intentionally injures you (drawing blood) is an enemy, but you are called by Christ to "love your enemies."

Hope that clears some confusion for a doubting Thomas.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Nice reply, but you might want to change the post title of “…That Save Any Marriage” to ‘…That Save Any Marriage Except Physical Abuse.’

This link says. “One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.”

http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/abusiverelationships/a/physicalabusestatistics.htm

:)

Victorious said...

....That Save Any Marriage Except Physical Abuse....

Or except pedophilia; addictions such as alcohol, porn; sexual abuse; adultery; and/or disclosure of homosexual tendencies.

Some marriages are just broken and cannot be mended.

Wade Burleson said...

I am reminded of Hosea and Gomer.

Victorious said...

Wade, the very reason for the Writ of Divorcement was the protection of women who were treated like yesterday's garbage. They wouldn't have to resort to prostitution for their livelihood or risk being stoned for adultery should they decide to marry.

No doubt Matthew Winkler quoted scripture to his wife, Mary, to keep her compliant to his deviant demands. We know what happened when she was pushed over her limit. (And let's not forget Lorena Bobbit's effort to free herself from tyranny).

Anyone woman who maintains a relationship with a husband who is sexually abusing their children is enabling the strong possibility of perpetuating the crime in their children by the example set by their father.

Jesus said that lust is the equivalent of adultery as it begins in the heart. To pretend it isn't happening in a relationship makes a mockery of marriage.

We need to be very careful not to do to marriage what the Pharisees did to the Sabbath by distorting the beauty it was designed to be. And I'm reminded by the book, "Tired of Trying to Measure Up," that the expectations and demands inflicted on us by others cannot always be met nor should they be. Those who have set healthy "Boundaries" for themselves are answerable only to God for either allowing or disallowing those boundaries to exist in their lives.

Victorious said...

P.S. God Himself divorced His people for their unfaithfulness, didn't He?

Julie Anne said...

When one is married to a narcissist for a husband, the response you prescribe is exactly what they want. They want their wife to build them up with 15 words and give passionate kisses. Now, they can rest easily knowing their wife is behaving well. For a narcissist, true kindness, forgiveness, graciousness does nothing but build his sense of entitlement.

Wade Burleson said...

Julie Anne and Victorious,

I totally get a wife in an abusive relationship divorces her husband. She should.

The entire point of the post is a woman doesn't need a man; nor does a man need a woman.

We need Christ, and we have Him. What we do for the spouse to whom we are married is always in terms of what's best for him.

Reporting an abusive spouse and divorcing an abusive spouse seems to me to most always be the best course of action for the abuser.

Christiane said...

"You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

it's the 'neither the source' part that must be related to some theology that understands how it can be that 'hurting people hurt people';

but the truth is, in an active marital situation where feelings are raw, people can't easily get into the boat and row out into the deeper theological waters

is there a better way to express those intial words, WADE? maybe a way that people who are hurting can grasp more easily?

The only theology I can relate myself, coming from my own tradition, is what Our Lord said on the Cross: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'.
And in those words, we come to see that people do things without comprehension of the magnitude of their actions, and in the 'gap' between the pain they caused and their unawareness of the extent of their actions, there may be room for forgiveness;
as since the Incarnation, our humankind has been taken up (assumed) by Christ Who leads us on our sojourn out of the misery of this wounded world, and Who not only reconciles us to the Father, but to one another

Virginia Knowles said...

Perhaps you could change it to "You are not the source of my fulfillment" rather than "You are not the source of my pain." Because truly, an abusive (physical or otherwise) spouse •is• the source of the pain and needs to be held responsible (called to repentance) for shattering a marriage.

Valerie said...

I am reminded of Abraham and Isaac.

God sometimes gave individuals commandments to illustrate the Gospel, to teach us something about him. Those commandments are not normative, they do not modify the Bible's teaching and commandments to all of us generally, and they are not promises that God will do what we'd like to see done, or mend what we'd like to see mended. The point of the Hosea & Gomer story is not that it is a beautiful thing, or a more exalted and more holy thing to maintain marriage through multiple adulteries in spite of God's gift of lawful divorce. Lawful divorce is not something God holds out generously in one hand while wagging his finger against us and telling us that if we are holy enough we won't touch it.

Hosea was not written to provide ethical principles for divorce and remarriage but to vividly illustrate Israel's unfaithfulness, God's faithfulness, God's call to repentance, God's promise of restoration, and (not least, as history would soon show) God's warnings of separation, divorce, division, and judgment if Israel would not repent.

Hosea is in no way advising us to tolerate adulteries in marriage.

Valerie said...

This would not be a controversial post (and it would be a very helpful post) if you called the "15 words and 15 seconds" a great way to build intimacy in marriage, but the hint of legalism and the bold prosperity promise make it unhelpful and even potentially harmful.

Right now, it's saying, "Keep this rule and I guarantee that you will prosper." That has a couple of effects. First, it says that anyone who has had a lawful divorce didn't manage the offending party with enough love. It blames the victims.

Second--in spite of the caveat in the comments--the claim, "the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it" is promising (as if from God) what God doesn't ever promise, a performance-based prosperity in this life. If your statement were literally true, there would be virtually no evil on earth that could not be readily mended by a loving spouse, which begs the question, "Why the Cross?"

Valerie Hobbs said...

"You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me." This sounds remarkably like the co-addiction model. I don't buy it. People who are victimized in their marriages suffer trauma as a direct result of what their spouse does to them. As a direct result.

Wade Burleson said...

Victoria ad Valerie -

It's the pain within - emphasis on the word within.

Not everyone has to agree. I'm not asking anyone to buy it.

In my experience, when a person take ownership for his own feelings, things begin to change for the better.

Virginia Knowles said...

We are warned in Scripture to refrain from actions and attititudes which grieve and anger God, who is all holy. We •can• be the source of spiritual pain and we are called to repent.

An wife whose husband has been malicious and cruel may or may not have outward pain. She WILL have inner pain as a result of his behavior. She can be legitimately angry. How can that be denied?

Yes, she should pursue inner healing as God restores her to emotional wholeness and spiritual shalom, but that doesn't let her husband off the hook. If her husband's actions and attititudes have shattered trust because HE is not trustWORTHY, she is under no obligation to initiate rebuilding the marriage relationship. While we are cautioned not to inflict vengeance, we are free to institute healthy boundaries and consequences. A stiff rebuke and emotional distance (not intimacy) until he truly repents can be part of that. That could possibly bring restoration of the marriage. Sweeping grievous sin under the rug with the enabling lie of "you did not cause my inner pain" will not solve anything.

She could eventually choose to say, "Your actions have deeply grieved me, and I can never again live in a marriage with you; however, God is healing my soul from the damage you caused. I choose to forgive you and I wish you well in life."

Virginia Knowles said...

Or, if she is willing to restore the marriage, she can say, "Your attitudes and actions have caused me great pain and have badly damaged my trust in you. We cannot have true life-giving intimacy until I know that your heart and behavior toward me have genuinely changed. I am willing to give you the time to do that, but you must give me emotional space and respect my healthy boundaries."

Virginia Knowles said...

You may not be demanding that others agree with you, but the problem is that some who are in abusive relationships WILL accept what you say and either attempt to rebuild on a faulty foundation or dismiss a wounded spouse's pain. Your words have consequences. Please use them more carefully.

These blog post may help some of your readers:

Recognizing Pervasive, Poisonous Power in Marriage: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2015/03/recognizing-pervasive-poisonous-power.html

What to Do About Toxic Power in Marriage: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-to-do-about-pervasive-poisonous.html

The Bad Boy and the Angel: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-bad-boy-and-angel.html

Valerie said...

Perhaps an analogy might help. Let's say that someone has lost a spouse or a child to a long illness or a sudden horrific accident. It would not be accurate or helpful to advise that the sufferer should confess that the loss is not a source of pain "within" him or her.

That would actually be terrible advice for a suffering, grieving person. As we listen to others we learn these kinds of things and add knowledge to our fervent desire to love one another well.

Taking personal responsibility for our own reactions is good, but it isn't accurate to say that an abuser or adulterer doesn't cause any internal trouble or pain for his victims and not a merciful suggestion in response to the trouble and pain caused by the offender.

See Psalm 22, of the sinless Lamb of God. Did he experience internal trouble and pain? Was it caused by a failure to take ownership of his feelings?

Victorious said...

Having been the Director of a Victim Advocate program for over 10 yrs., I can attest to the danger of applying a simplistic solution to the victim of violence. Many of the traumatic injuries I've seen in the ERs are too graphic to post but the equally sad observations were that the victims were often told they were partially to blame. One abuser murdered the parent who tried to help his daughter by sheltering her in their home.

Abuse usually escalates both in intensity and frequency and should not be encouraged with loving words of any kind. This appears to have some aspects of Nouthetic counseling beliefs that the victim played some part in the abuse and the abuser needs restoration. This is the same reasoning that blames the victim of sexual assault for wearing a particular dress or frequenting a bar, etc.

Sad...to deny one's natural emotions is to deny one's humanity.

Christiane said...

Hi WADE,
You wrote this:
"In my experience, when a person take ownership for his own feelings, things begin to change for the better."

I'm not discounting your experience, but for people who are in pain, 'taking ownership' of their reaction to what they perceive has been personally done 'to' them may be something that needs to be very guided. I have the knowledge that when people suppress their hurt and anger, they may become depressed from that effort. So when people are asked to 'take responsibility', there must be some very special help offered for them to do this in a constructive way, and that may involve some help that goes beyond the counseling level.

Thing is, the FIRST PLACE many couples will come is to their priest or pastor or minister or rabbi. And I think in doing this, as a couple, they have already just by coming, taken the first step to healing. So as a minister of Our Lord's Church, you are a first responder, and in a position to offer assistance in a work of mercy.

I would like to explore more the concept of taking personal responsibility for the pain I would feel if injured by something my spouse did. How does a minister of the Church explain this in terms of the great mercy of God? In a way that the hurting people can grasp? Christ's power to heal is a given. And the Gospel of Our Lord is an answer to all our pain. We need the help of those who are able to 'translate' this truth in a way that transcends the aching hears of injured wives and husbands. I am confident that you are a caring minister of the Gospel of Our Lord, WADE. But those fifteen words are a 'hard teaching'. :)

Wade Burleson said...

I appreciate all your comments and advice. Much to think about for anyone reading. Thank you.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

OFF TOPIC
Have you heard about the book that was published yesterday written by a Secret Service officer, Gary Byrne, who guarded the Oval Office during the Clinton presidency?

He said he believes it’s his patriotic duty to do anything he can to prevent Hillary from becoming president as he has seen her dangerous, abusive, paranoid behavior.

He said the Clinton White House was a den of coke and mistresses.

He’s willing to undergo a polygraph test — if Hillary takes one too.

Wade Burleson said...

I have, Rex. Plan on reading it.

Barbara Roberts said...

Wade, there are SO many things you don't get about domestic abuse!

You seriously need to humble yourself, learn a lot more about it, and then retract and apologize for a lot of what you have said here.

I am astonished that you, a man who has stood up for survivors of sexualised abuse from church leaders, should think the way you do about domestic abuse. You are believing many of the myths about domestic abuse.

You recommend spouses say to each other "You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

Your fifteen words are plainly FOOLISH. In domestic abuse, the abuser IS causing trouble and pain to the victim. That is the abuser's intention and that is what the abuser achieves, repeatedly, relentlessly, often for decades....

To tell a victim of abuse to say to her abuser "You are not the source of the trouble or pain I am experiencing, you are not causing my pain" is simply asking the victim to tell an OUTRIGHT LIE.

Shame on you, Wade. The victim of abuse has every right to tell the truth to the abuser, to say to the abuser "You are hurting me, you are coercively controlling me and causing me immense trouble, stress, suffering and anguish!"

Furthermore, Wade, domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence. You need to LEARN more about abuse before you utter another word on the subject. Come to our blog A Cry For Justice, read our definition of abuse in the sidebar, then set yourself a long reading program to up-skill yourself on this topic. Victims of abuse flock to our blog. They are fleeing from pastors like you who have been giving them foolish and dangerous advice for years. Advice that has compounded their suffering and anguish.

Find our blog at cryingoutforjustice dot com





Barbara Roberts said...

ticking the box in the hope that I get follow up comments (if I can FIND the box!)

Barbara Roberts said...

Now i've found the box to tick
It's quite frustrating that it's only available if I comment with my Google Account.

Wade Burleson said...

Barbara,

My post is not intended for a marriage with abuse. Why? Because a marriage with abuse is not a marriage, no matter what the state or the church says.

The post is for couples who are not abusive.

Thanks.

Karen R. said...

You said: "The entire point of the post is a woman doesn't need a man; nor does a man need a woman." Yet from my reading the entire point of the post seems to be that if we utter these 15 magic words followed by a sweet, passionate kiss all will be well. You also stated: "so too these words are a panacea for broken marriages."
I'm sure you mean well and I don't get the impression your intent was/is to be hurtful and yet for women who are in abusive marriages this sort of magic pill leads to hurt. How you ask? Well for those of us who after years of praying, getting counseling, etc. and yet had to leave an unrepentant, abusive husband your advice can give the impression that if we had done the secret recipe, all would have worked out fine. You didn't make exceptions in your article for those who are married to abusers. We are often given the impression that if we had done one little tweak, our husbands hearts would be changed.

Barbara Roberts said...

Wade, you say "My post is not intended for a marriage with abuse. Why? Because a marriage with abuse is not a marriage, no matter what the state or the church says. The post is for couples who are not abusive. "

Sorry but that's not good enough.

You did not give a large type caveat at the start of the post saying "This DOES NOT APPLY to abusive marriages".

You only say this now, in the comment thread..... that's not good enough

You still haven't retracted or apologized for promulgating the myth that domestic abuse only means physical violence ... that's not good enough

You still don't seem to have a clue that victims of abuse read your posts and will take what you say and apply it to their situations. You don't seem to realise that they will feel doubly burdened and entrapped and loaded was false guilt, after reading your post.

Seriously Wade, take my advice: STOP and LEARN before writing anything else and so putting your foot in your mouth again.

Victorious said...

I'm of the opinion that victims of abuse should not seek advice or counseling from their pastors initially. Law enforcement and/or dv agencies should be the source of advice as this is their area of expertise. They are qualified to offer the best course of action for the victim.

When we have a physical ailment or disease, we seek assistance from those with medical credentials. The same with dental problems. Pastors are not, for the most part, qualified to offer advice in this area and should they be approached, should have at their fingertips appropriate resources for the abused. A prayer would be welcome as well...after providing the specialized resources.

Barbara Roberts said...

Karen > Mon Jun 27, 08:23:00 PM 2016

Thank you Karen! Thank you for confirming what I am saying.

Bless you! And if you haven'' yet found A Cry For Justice, I invite you to come and check it out :) :)

Christiane said...

I think a lot of couples trust their clergymen and will go for help when problems get to heavy to carry without support. The kind of 'abuse' that requires the police to intervene IS a police matter.

I think WADE is a very responsible, caring person. People who have come here to his blog for years know this. I do believe he would always try to do what is right for the sake of a hurting couple. He has my vote of confidence in his judgment. I'm sure there is more to that fifteen word teaching than he has explained here, and I hope someday he can fill us in a bit more on how this works out for the good of people in crisis.

Pastors are front-line folks. They are, for many, the only ones a person will go to during their lifetime for emotional assistance when troubled. I think Wade can be trusted to realize that some people are in need of more help than a pastoral counselor can offer, in which case, I can envision Wade referring them on to the proper medical/psychological assistance, yes.
For the ladies here who don't know this, WADE's wife is a doctor. The Burlesons have been and are a blessing to many.

Heather C. said...

I believe Wade would not intentionally hurt a hurting person. However, his failure to state at the beginning of this post that he is not referring to abusive relationships, may have done so! Not everyone who reads a post has the time to read the comments. Please, Wade, change your title or add a line stating this is for non-abusive relationships.

Anonymous said...

For years I thought that I just needed the right way to express how much pain my husband was causing. I needed right words, the right timing, right illustration--because if he only know how much harm he was causing, he would stop, right?

With my whole heart I wanted to believe that he would be saved, that he would get better. I couldn't grasp, I couldn't accept that causing pain was not only intentional, it was the whole point. Not only that, but expressions of pain and grief were rewarding, deeply satisfying, and even pleasurable for him.

My elders constantly told me that if I cared enough about my sin then I wouldn't feel so much pain from the abuse, if I served him the exactly perfect balance of submission and assertiveness then he would behave well, if I was more spiritual then I wouldn't be waking up in a panic in the middle of the night, checking to see if he had a weapon and wondering if he would kill me.

When I finally gave up on getting help from the church and went to people with expertise in this area, my children were interviewed, and layers of unimaginable evil were uncovered, things I didn't even imagine. After years of hearing that I just didn't understand how mild my situation really was and that I just wasn't managing everything well enough internally, he was arrested for multiple felony crimes.

And with safety, real safety, peace was immediate. Even a Christian soldier is constantly alert for his life in a foxhole.

I would plead with pastors to stop believing the myths, take victims seriously, and humbly consider that seminary is truly not an appropriate qualification for treating mental illness or for investigating crimes. How can we continue to slap pretty little Band-aids on horrific evil? If a woman's husband lives his life somewhere on the spectrum created by a heart inclined to violence and murder, 15 seconds of verbal denial on her part and a loving 15 second kiss cannot fix him at all, and could only be harmful to her.

Think about the evil, mentally ill people who can walk up to spouses and children and viciously chew them out, make false accusations, call them filthy names, threaten them, remind them that their spouses or fathers are capable of murder and so they'd better watch it, and withhold food, water, sleep, basic medical care, and other essentials.

Now, you listen as that perpetrator cuttingly says, "If you are hurting on the inside right now, that isn't me. That's all you. Your pain is not my fault; it's all your own fault. You are the only one who can cause pain in your own heart. It's not even possible for me to cause you pain, except to your physical body, so you just need to own your own feelings, stop being such a whiner, and stop blaming me for your pain."

If you really believe your theory that hatred is harmless, you must call this the truth. How does it work for you now?

And how does it work for a normal spouse, a normal parent, when he knows he's just hurt his wife or child? Why should he ever apologize if their pain is never, ever his fault, but always their own fault, their own choice? Do you see where this goes, logically? It's a form of gnosticism where only the physical body is fallen and subject to pain, but the spirit-soul is vigorous and untouchable, not subject to any assault. Read the Psalms; it's not biblical at all.

You are proposing something that isn't just wrong in theory, with no real harm done. Rather, you are proposing something that is *guaranteed* to be destructive for some eople, and once on the Internet the ripples of misinformation and suffering could reach to any extent.

Wade Burleson said...

Barbara,

I am thankful for your advocacy of the abused. Respectfully, when you write "Sorry, but that's not good enough," you seem to imply I'm writing for your affirmation or approval. I realize that what I've written isn't "good enough" from your perspective, but I'm hopeful that those who read the comments will see my post is not intended for those who are abused or are being abused. Get out of that relationship immediately because its not a marriage.

Ramesh said...

My simple suggestion to any one whether abused or un-abused is to trust YOUR OWN instincts. No need to listen to others or trust or not trust others. This is important for your survival. Lots of time others, your family, your church, your society and your work place will do the damndest to KILL your instincts. And mostly we go along and let them.

Don't.

Jungian psychology is very helpful here.

And this:

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

is a must read.

Peace.

SlyJeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SlyJeff said...

This will definitely be read by victims of domestic abuse and applied, wrongfully. I spent lot of time trying to believe my wife was not the source of my problem. But the thing was, she was. And the church telling me she wasn't caused so much more internal pain than I should have ever had to experience.

And one of the elders at my church told me she should not be able to hurt me- because my hope should be in Christ not her. That I didn't need her. That sounds a lot like what you are saying here.

Well, that's just false- when we are joined with a spouse, we are intimate and we can hurt one another. If we aren't close enough to hurt and be hurt, we aren't really vulnerable. And what kind of marriage has no vulnerability.

I get that you were targeting this toward "hurting but not broken" marriages, but from experience I can tell you what kinds of articles victims search for, and what they do when they find one like this. You don't want to be a part of that problem and holding them in bondage. But it's very likely you will be.

Barbara Roberts said...

Wade I wasn't saying 'that's not good enough" because I wanted your approval.

I was saying it because as pastor and blogger you are someone who influences others and who seeks to give pastoral care to others, and it's not good enough for a pastor to write posts like this without giving a big caveat that it doesn't apply to cases of domestic abuse and other kinds of serious marital mistreatment.

The bottom line is that you didn't seem to give any thought to the fact that victims of marital abuse might be reading your post.

And that is such a typical thing that many pastors do.... in sermons, books, bible studies, blogs, most pastors don't factor in that some of their readers/listeners are VERY LIKELY to be victims of domestic abuse, either currently or in the past.

I know you get it about child sexual abuse, and have been a great supporter of SNAP. But the issue of domestic abuse seems to be a blind spot to you.


Barbara Roberts said...

Hi Christiane, you said:

" I think Wade can be trusted to realize that some people are in need of more help than a pastoral counselor can offer, in which case, I can envision Wade referring them on to the proper medical/psychological assistance, yes. :

I'm glad (and not surprised to hear) that Wade can be trusted to realize that some people are in need of more help than a pastoral counselor can offer, and that in such cases he would refer them on to appropriately trained professionals.

However, I need to let you know that domestic abuse is not a psychological problem. It is an abuse problem. The abuser has problems with his belief system not his emotions. He believes he is entitled to mistreat his target(s). He believes in his superiority.

And if you are inferring that a victim of domestic abuse has a psychological problem that can be best treated by a doctor or a psychologist, you know little about domestic abuse and you are UNJUSTLY PATHOLOGIZING VICTIMS. I put that in all caps to convey to you how much it hurts victims.

Most people think like you, but they are wrong. Most people's understanding of domestic abuse comes from the MYTHS that perpetrators disseminate about it.

I urge you to come to A Cry For Justice and learn.

We have many many victim/survivor readers at our blog who testify that when they saw a psychologist or a counselor, they got terrible advice. Most mental health professionals and most doctors have little to no training in how to best respond to domestic abuse.

Look up our blog and search for the interviews I did with Catherine DeLoach Lewis. She is one of the rare professional counselors who really gets it. And you might also like to read our post about Honouring Victims' Resistance.

The only appropriate professionals to refer victims of domestic abuse to are:
Womens Centres and Shelters that specialise in domestic abuse
Police and other branches of the justice system
Counselors who really and truly get it about domestic abuse (and beware, because many say they do, but they don't really)

The other good place to refer victims to is a support group for victim/survivors of domestic abuse. Our blog A Cry For Justice is in many ways like a cyber-support group, but there are face to face groups too which a victim can access through her local Women's Centre.


Christiane said...

Hi BARBARA,
I think pastors are geared to help couples who are struggling with marital problems that are more involved in communication difficulties and 'boundary' problems, and such;
but the kind of ABUSE you are speaking about should not be tolerated by any spouse, especially if there are children in the home ..... it is criminal behavior and often does involve emotional illness, drug abuse and alcohol dependency, and yes, in some cases, mental illness.

If I remember right, WADE used to work with the police in a large city in Oklahoma and has some experience with crisis situations. I should think he would be very knowledgeable about what to do if a person came to him and reported abuse.

If Wade said his counseling method is not for cases of abuse, I believe him.
I think among pastors engaged in the doctrines of patriarchy, that they cannot be counted on to help a spouse (wife) who is in crisis within an abusive situation, no. Wade is not a 'patriarchist', thank God. Quite the opposite.
It's frightening how some women go for help to their pastors and are told to go back into the nightmare ... I can't imagine the pain of this. People need educating about reporting abuse and the immediate removal of victims from an abusive situation into protective sanctuary. Help for the perpetrators can come in conjunction with law enforcement and prosecution for criminal behavior, but treatment is not a substitute for legal accountability.
Abuse is not, can not ever be acceptable and there is no level of abuse that is 'okay', and there is no type of abuse that is 'not so bad'.

Jeff Crippen said...

Wade- I'm sorry, but it must be said. This post is filled with statements that will mean further suffering and even the endangerment of any abuse victim who reads it and tries to follow your counsel. For example, "Your spouse is never the source for any turmoil within you; neither is your spouse the solution for the pain you feel within" is a statement that is simply not true when it comes to marriage to an abuser. The abuser is indeed the source of the turmoil. If a wife, for example, married to an abuser/sociopath, says your 15 words to her husband, he is going to see it as nothing but further weakness on her part. He craves power and control over her and these words are giving it to him. He will use the words as further ammunition against her. So articles like this MUST very clearly and plainly say that they are not to be applied to an abusive marriage, the abuse must be clearly defined and identified in the article, or else it is like selling elixer from a traveling wagon show with the claim that two swigs of this will cure what ails ya.

Barbara Roberts said...

Hi Christiana
I am sure you mean well. And it's clear that you respect and trust Wade. And I sense you are quite upset because I am admonishing Wade and suggesting that he needs to learn more about domestic abuse.

You said:
"...the kind of ABUSE you are speaking about should not be tolerated by any spouse, especially if there are children in the home ..... it is criminal behavior and often does involve emotional illness, drug abuse and alcohol dependency, and yes, in some cases, mental illness."

What is your expertise in this area? Are you aware that research shows that domestic abusers do not have a higher rate of mental illness than the general population? And that while many perpetrators of domestic abuse are alcohol or drug abusers, that does not mean that alcohol or drug abuser causes domestic abuse. It does exacerbate domestic abuse, but it does not CAUSE it. The same goes for mental illness.


It sounds to me like you you just repeating some of the commonly held (mistaken) beliefs about domestic abuse, and are not aware that those beliefs have been called into question by research and by domestic violence professionals and social science research.

I want to tell you some important things that I believe you need to understand.

At this point in time, many tactics used by domestic abusers are NOT sanctioned in the criminal code in most jurisdictions.

Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence — but sadly, in many places, the law only criminalises physical violence.

In jurisdictions that only criminalise physical violence, the laws needs to be reformed so that a PATTERN of coercive control is criminalised.


And furthermore, when you said:
"...the kind of ABUSE you are speaking about should not be tolerated by any spouse, especially if there are children in the home..."

You used the word SHOULD. You seem to be ignorant of how your 'should' will impact victims who are reading this thread.

Let me tell you how many victims will hear your 'should'. They will think:

"I SHOULD not have tolerated the abuse from my spouse. I SHOULD leave my abuser... (or) ...I SHOULD have left my abuser earlier than I did. Christiana is telling me what I SHOULD do, or what I SHOULD have done. She is saying I'm silly for not leaving my abuser, or not leaving sooner, or for not going to the police. She is judging me. She is condemning me. She is pathologizing me."

PLEASE Christiana, I say to you what I said to Wade Burleson ------ Stop.
Stop thinking you can give 'shoulds' out into cyberspace indiscriminately.
Stop failing to think about how victims of abuse will hear what you say.

Please come to our blog and learn how you can talk about domestic abuse without hurting victims.






Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

What is the population for whom you have the knowledge and authority to offer the following guarantee: "Though every person and every marriage is as different as snowflakes, the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it."

If your absolute guarantee is only for people who have the blahs in a normal marriage with a healthy and good spouse, then just say that up front, that this is a cure for the blahs, and you hope it will help.

Who is going to wade through all these comments to find that after you've already made a blanket promise that this always works for everyone, even if only one person does it alone, you might have an exception for abuse?

But even in a normal marriage, this isn't true. As a parent, it's not true. As a friend, it's not true. People actually *do* hurt each other, and it is a *typical* tactic of abusers to insist that the problem is not their behavior but our responses to it. Through and through, this article feeds that and sides with abusers and how they think.

Where does the Bible teach that it is impossible for humans to cause trouble or pain in other humans? The Psalms are full of proof that humans cause pain for other humans. Matthew 18:15-17 is designed to treat it. This is simply denial and wishful thinking pretending to be a biblical principle. Humility, wisdom, and charity would remove this post, so I urge and challenge you to do that. Please see Psalm 18; don't miss verse 8. This just isn't biblical teaching.

Would you sincerely tell a victim of child sexual abuse that his internal pain wasn't caused by the abuse, that he did it to himself? Denial doesn't really help people heal.

The truth.... The really precious truth is that other humans hurt us, and when we hurt we feel it. That is why it's called *suffering*. Buddhism tries to drum up a non-reactive awareness to suffering, but Christianity tells the truth. This is why we have the psalms of lament.

Valerie said...

The truth is that if we are in Christ and we suffer from the sins of others against us we will hold onto Christ because he is holding onto us. We will *not* go into denial and insist to ourselves that we are not being hurt when we are. God made Adam a namer of things, and in Christ we learn to call things by their true names.

Talk to Abel, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, and the victims of Diotrophes and tell them that they weren't really suffering from the sins of others against them, that it was all just a faithless construct they made up in their own minds.

The Lord Jesus is fully man. Do you suppose it caused any internal mental and emotional suffering when he was mocked, and beaten, and publicly crucified. This is Gnostic.

Joe Pote said...

Wade, you said, "God never designed your spouse to be the source of your fulfillment nor the solution for your pain."

This is absolutely true, and many people would be much happier and more contented in their marriage if they could let this truth sink in. Kudos for a good word on this subject.

However, you also said, "...there is a formula to maintain healthy marriages and to heal broken marriages. Though every person and every marriage is as different as snowflakes, the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it. The formula involves 15 words and 15 seconds."

This is a completely ludicrous statement!

There is no magic formula to heal every marriage. You, yourself, in the comment string to this post stated that the post does not apply to abusive marriages, and those in an abusive marriage should seek divorce. I agree with the comment and would add that it also does not apply to many marriages involving addictions.

You clarified in your comments, yet left the false statements in the post. Clearly, not every marriage can be healed by following the prescribed formula, despite your claim that, "the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it."

In one of your comments, you seem to have brushed off the many marriages to which this 'formula' would not apply by saying an abusive marriage is not a marriage. That's not very helpful. Until divorce occurs, the abusive marriage is still a legal marriage to which both partners are legally obligated. In fact, I strongly suspect you, yourself, would say that someone married to an abuser would be guilty of adultery if they began another romantic relationship while still married to the abuser...because they are still legally married.

More importantly, most abuse victims are still in the marriage because they are struggling to define what they are experiencing. Often, for many years, they continue to be committed to the relationship and to the marriage, hoping and praying that 'this time' their spouse has truly changed...and they are often slow to recognize what they are experiencing as a cyclic pattern of abuse. So, expecting them to intuitively know marital advice that 'works regardless of the person or couple who follows it," for some reason doesn't apply to them and their marriage is not helpful at all.

In fact, it is downright dangerous! An abuse victim who has not yet clearly seen through the fog of the abuser's lies, would likely latch onto your advice like a drowning man clinging to a life preserver, trying to make your magic formula work...which would be a very dangerous thing.

Please correct the blatant errors in this post, for the safety of any abuse victims who may read it.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Well, old friend do you grow weary of all these comments? I could argue a marriage is not a marriage if the husband leaves the toilet seat up. :)

When making a comment ‘any’ and ‘all’ are words that are hard to prove. Only a small person never admits they’re wrong.

Today’s newspaper reminded me of my 5 year old nephew’s reply when asked what he thought about the SS lesson. The teacher had taken her class outside to observe God’s creation, but it was after our missionary uncle’s recent book was being talked about. He replied, “The birds and the flowers, the birds and the flowers…they’re killing all the Christians in China and nobody cares!”

A small item in today’s newspaper:
“Study: Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world of 83 countries.”

[“Everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” (Mark 13:13 NLT)]

The newspaper said it is estimated 8,000 are martyred each year. That means a Christian is killed about one ever hour. Wonder if we care what their dying words are?

Victorious said...

National Domestic Violence Hotline:

24/7 Confidential Phone Support

Trained advocates are available to take your calls through our toll free, 24/7 hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Heather C. said...

Wade, I hope you sense the desperate tone to many of these comments. The Bible says there is wisdom in many counselors. I hope you see the wisdom from these counselors who have either been in abusive relationships or who counsel them. I have appreciated your counsel the last few years--now I hope you will appreciate mine and others.

Gordon said...

To me, there can be no doubt that Wade is writing about a normal relationship in marriage. Even to someone of little understanding, it will be clear his advice can contribute toward building and restoring a loving relationship that has been disturbed temporarily. He is obviously not referring to an abusive situation, which is one caused by a pattern of physical, mental or emotional behavior. For such a situation , he gives other broad advice to seek outside professional help.

The anti group has erupted against him in a co-ordinated Quixotic manner . By attacking the windmills of their paranoid imagination they produced lots of heat but shone no light on possible solutions .

Couples wishing to overcome normal difficulties in an amicable way will thank him for adding value and stability to their lives.

Wade Burleson said...

Gordon,

Your comments struck a harmonious chord with me.

I am very appreciative of those who work with the abused, as does Barbara, and recognize her expertise.

I realize that all Barbara (and others desire) is a comment (or caveat) in the post that I'm not writing for women abused. I see their perspective, but...

I learned a long time ago that writing that tries to cover every caveat, every exception, every distinction, loses its punch.

It is my prayer that anyone in an abusive marriage will completely dismiss this post since I (the author) quickly acknowledge in the comments that it was neither designed or written with abuse or the abused in mind.

Thanks, all, for your comments. They are very helpful to many.

Wade Burleson said...

Heather C.

I do appreciate the wisdom of many!

Anonymous said...

This will save ANY marriage?? Goodness, that is quite a promise!! I'd love to save my marriage and have a loving, intimate partner again. My husband, head of parachurch organizations for many years - first an emotional affair, then later a full-blown physical romantic affair. He said it had nothing to do with me - I was a great wife. He just thought he deserved something extra for all his hard work. Went to pastor for help. One of the things that stood out was husband's refusal to acknowledge the pain he had caused - if I felt bad or hurt, that was my problem, not his. If I was crying at night or barely coping or feeling suicidal, that was my problem, not his. If I wanted a faithful, truthful, loving husband, that was my unrealistic expectation. He provided for the family through it all which fulfilled his obligation to love us. If that wasn't enough for me, that was my problem. The pastor's main concern was that I forgive, forget and immediately provide whatever my husband wanted and submit to my husband's leadership of the family. Years down the road, he has never dealt with whatever allows him to commit adultery with no accountability to anyone. He won't discuss anything deep or personal with me and is probably fooling around behind my back. No physical abuse, no yelling or fighting, no mental or emotional illness. Highly successful in his job and a natural leader anywhere he wants to be. Charming and attractive - women love to help him, assist him, complement him, tell him he must be such a wonderful husband and they hope I appreciate him. Just a broken hearted woman with a man who can do whatever he wants because the church seems to think that if I am sad or lonely or in pain, it must be my fault. He'd love to hear these 15 words but he doesn't let me kiss him on the lips so that wouldn't work anyway.

Barbara Roberts said...

Gordon says, "To me, there can be no doubt that Wade is writing about a normal relationship in marriage."

Maybe that is self-evident, Gordon. But to victims of domestic abuse and other serious marital mistreatment it is NOT self-evident.

SlyJeff is right about how people use google. Spouses who are being grievously mistreated eventually come to realise that their marriage is on the rocks-- and that it desperately needs to be saved. They will google something like 'how to save a marriage' and they will find Wade's post. And they will read the post ... but they won't necessarily read the comments thread.

Therefore, the post needs a large print caveat right up front.

It's basic ethics in journalism. And in sermononizing.

Then Wade respond to all who have blown the whistle here with this:
"I see their perspective, but... I learned a long time ago that writing that tries to cover every caveat, every exception, every distinction, loses its punch."

I am very disappointed in Wade. He is still failing to prioritize the ethics of his pastoral role. He prioritizes journalistic punch over his pastoral duty of care for his readers.


And Wade, you have already been told my many people here, both males and females, that people in abusive marriages will read your post and take it to heart and try to apply it to their own situations -- with grievous results. And they may never read the comment thread.

Yet all you can say is: "It is my prayer that anyone in an abusive marriage will completely dismiss this post since I (the author) quickly acknowledge in the comments that it was neither designed or written with abuse or the abused in mind."

Why are you dismissing our counsel? Why are you brushing us off?

Gordon says: "The anti group has erupted against him in a co-ordinated Quixotic manner . By attacking the windmills of their paranoid imagination they produced lots of heat but shone no light on possible solutions.:"

Gordon, we have erupted, and rightly so, because we know how much victims of domestic abuse are ignored and given poor advice in Christendom. But we are not being Quixotic: we are not attacking windmills of our paranoid imagination. We are rightly pointing out a serious matter of concern, one that is WIDESPREAD in the church, and we are not being paranoid.

We know what we are talking about because we have lived it. And because we know and support MANY others who have lived it and are still suffering from it.

And btw, Gordon, I DID shine light on possible solutions: I recommended the blog A Cry For Justice. It has masses of resources and articles that offer helpful information and teaching that can help solve this widespread problem in the church.

Barbara Roberts said...

oops, typo:
When I said "Maybe that is self-evident, Gordon"
I meant to say "Maybe that is self-evident TO Gordon."

Valerie said...

The honorable thing would be to take full and *genuine* responsibility for your own words:
"Though every person and every marriage is as different as snowflakes, the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it."

Now you are crying foul that so many people think you are promising that your method is sure to work regardless of who follows it. Is that not exactly what you said? And do you not expect that a year, or two years, or five years from now people will still be taking that statement at face value?

Of course a defense that insults your critics strikes a chord for you, but a better note to end on would be a sincere apology and an agreement to delete this harmful and unbiblical material. Claiming that you have discovered the full solution and final answer for divorce, which will work "regardless of the person or couple who follows it" does deliver a punch, but it's a punch that is sure to wound.

You're responsible for what you *say* as much as for what you (hopefully) *mean*, and there is abundant evidence from the Bible that much of what you have said in this post just isn't true even in a healthy, normal marriage between two godly Christians. When Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor, we know that we do not always love our neighbors well and in fact sometimes hurt them. To deny the reality of this denies large amounts of what the Bible teaches us about human nature and relationships and thus it cannot be a final answer for marriage.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

I'm unsure where you feel "a defense that insults your critics strikes a chord for you." I didn't think or feel Gordon was insulting anyone, but again, that's just my opinion.

What struck a chord with me was Gordon's words, "There can be no doubt that Wade is writing about a normal relationship in marriage." Only I know what I intended, and "abuse" in a marriage never entered my mind in posting what I wrote. I understand completely that those who are in abusive situations may read the post and "think" I am talking about them. However, after reading the comments, it will be clear that my recommendation for anyone in an abusive marital relationship that inflicts pain is to leave the marriage.

I've written about abuse in marriage in the past.

This post was a totally different topic.

Thanks for all the comments.

Wade Burleson said...

Barbara,

You write: "I am very disappointed in Wade. He is still failing to prioritize the ethics of his pastoral role. He prioritizes journalistic punch over his pastoral duty of care for his readers."

Please receive this in the grace with which I write it. I'm unsure why you feel (or think) that expressing "disappointment" in me affects change.

Throughout life thousands of people will be - as you are now - disappointed in me. That makes me no difference, nor does it change anything about what I believe, what I write, or how I live.

The One who counts is perpetually pleased because His pleasure for me is wrapped up in who He is and what He has done for me; not my meager efforts to do anything pleasing to Him.

So, you'll find I rarely if ever respond to a request for change from anyone who says they are disappointed in me.

I'm not sure if that makes sense or not, but it's the way I think and live. I'm always far more convinced by an expression of principle than I am the expressed emotions of one who is disappointed in me.

Now the principle at hand is your second sentence: "He prioritizes journalistic punch over his pastoral duty of care for his readers."

Yes. I do prioritize journalistic punch. I'm the one who said that. :)

No. I don't prioritize pastoral duty of care for his readers OVER journalistic punch. You are the one who said that. :)

We just have a difference of opinion on my motive, character, and intentions. You are disappointed in that I don't see things the way you see them.

I understand.

Thanks for your comments, and I appreciate your work with the abused.

Barbara Roberts said...

Wade, Gordon's defense of you insulted people like me an Valerie because
1. Gordon stuck a negative label on us— "the anti group"
2. Gordon unjustly accused us of being Quixotic and attacking the windmills of our paranoid imagination

Both those things Gordon said are insulting to us, especially the second one.

We are NOT being paranoid. We are NOT imagining there is a problem when a problem doesn't really exist.

Wade, Gordon's language exactly echoes and parallels the kinds of verbal abuse we have received from our abusive spouses.

You really don't get it. You are blind to what we are telling you. We have put our case fairly and well. You appear to be refusing to listen.


Wade Burleson said...

Joe Pote,

Sorry, I just saw your comment. Good word. I agree, the use of formulas are the antithesis of grace and the hyperbole in the post is probably unwarranted. Thanks for your comment.

Wade Burleson said...

Barbara,

I see. Thanks for the clarification of the offense taken over Gordon's comment. I can't speak for him or his intentions (nor do I know Gordon), so I must let him address your concerns if he desires. Just food for thought. Categorical assessments of one's motive or intentions - or comparisons of one's writing or behavior with the description "exactly echoes and parallels the kinds of verbal abuse we have received from abusive spouses" is not as conducive to constructive dialogue as might be imagined.

Barbara Roberts said...

Actually Wade, I believe that pointing out how a person's language is similar to the kind of language used by domestic abusers CAN indeed be helpful to constructive dialogue. But it will only be helpful if the parties to the dialogue are willing to reconsider their beliefs and assumptions, and are willing to be educated by those who are offering to teach them.

I have been attempting to teach you how to say things in ways that are less likely to be harmful to victims of domestic. You could, if you had wished, taken my comment about Gordon's language as a helpful tip about the kind of language to avoid if one is trying to say things in ways will not hurt victims of abuse.

When I first came to this thread, I did not attribute motives or intentions to you, I simply told you that your fifteen word recipe was foolish and that there are lot of things you don't get about domestic abuse.

It is only since you have demonstrated repeatedly in this thread that you are doggedly unwilling to be educated by me and the others who are speaking up to warn you as well, that I have now started talking about your motivation.

And I'm now saying that you appear to be motivated by a determination to not receive any education from those of us here who have tried to educate you.

I do not believe you when you say you appreciate the work I do for victims of domestic abuse. If you appreciated it, you would be willing to learn from what I and others have been telling you here.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I believe if the second and fourth comment had been heeded, the present Post Title would not be a lie. Because of the false Title, it makes at least seven statements within the Post a lie.

Wade, do you remember umpteen years ago, you wrote that Jesus was a Southern Baptist? After much debate of what you wrote, you finally concluded, “Sometimes words do not reveal their true meaning.”

If Paul gave up eating meat in order not to offend his brothers (I Cor. 8:13), why won’t you change the Title?

Anonymous said...

Your honest post describes ALL too well what MANY of us wives have been through, sometimes suffering for YEARS due to advice from so-called 'christians' to just submit, forgive, have more patience, endurance, faith........& we wouldn't cause our husbands to be angry & abusive. This is NOT godly advice, Jesus does not expect ANYONE to live in abusive situations, at any time! God bless you for honestly posting truth here, I'll be praying that He'll send many miracles, blessings, healing, & restoration into your life asap!

Ramesh said...

From my own experience, reading, understanding, processing, being and acting are processes where there are gaps in between. Lots of times these gaps are large in time.

Peace brothers and sisters.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

I confess I take issue with the title because it sounds formulaic and a bit like something you read in a magazine...I understand it was meant tongue-in-cheek, but it comes off dogmatic and potentially shaming. As a linguist I'd suggest "just might save your marriage" instead of the "any marriage", because that's more accurate.

I also see this is an emotive issue, and I'm not likely going to be checking back so apologies if I say something anyone would like to discuss. I did not hear from Wade a definition of what constitutes abuse and I agreed with his statement on abuse and marriage. I don't think it is fair to represent him as not acknowledging the destructiveness of emotional abuse if he has not defined precisely what he means by abuse.

Further, I agree with the importance of finding one's security and all in God rather than fallible and changing human beings or circumstances, whether or not we find the mantra helpful. That is an important point that I hope will not be lost in the discussion of abuse dynamics.

Where there is not an imbalance of power there can still be struggles, and it's an important reminder that one's spouse is not the primary source of joy for the believer.

I think we are all learning and it is true the church still has much to learn about abuse.

With respect to certain comments, I hope we can have constructive conversations allowing room to grow and the interaction of different schools of thought, rather than assuming a lack of care, unteachableness, or ignorance right from the outset. Honestly, that attitude is off-putting and makes it hard for some of us just working things out to feel safe to share what we have learned and are still figuring out for ourselves. It concerns me that anything I say or get wrong can and will be used against me, and I'm not sure walking on eggshells is any more healthy than being unaware of abuse dynamics.

Peace,
Melody Young

Ramesh said...

A musical interlude:

Tchaikovsky, with A Far Cry | WGBH | WCRB | Classical Performance Podcast

The self-conducted string orchestra A Far Cry plays Tchaikovsky's "Souvenir de Florence".

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Sextet in D minor, Op. 70 “Souvenir de Florence”

Recorded at WCRB’s Fraser Performance Studio on January 22, 2010.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

The second I woke up this morning, I knew I was wrong. My word “lie” is wrong and should be changed to ‘untruth’…big big difference!

I’m sorry.

SlyJeff said...

"Only I know what I intended, and "abuse" in a marriage never entered my mind in posting what I wrote. I understand completely that those who are in abusive situations may read the post and "think" I am talking about them. However, after reading the comments, it will be clear that my recommendation for anyone in an abusive marital relationship that inflicts pain is to leave the marriage."

Well, it is true that only you know what you intended- but you ARE trying to communicate intention. I mean, that's the whole point of writing/sermonizing/blogging, yeah? :)

I 100% believe you- I believe your intentions were not to address abusive relationships. And I respect that.

However, I'm talking to you as someone who has been there. How many people actively looking to address pain in their marriage are coming from abusive situations? It's NOT an insignificant number. In fact, people who are so motivated to search the internet looking for Godly advice on healing a marriage are going to probably, on average, be in some of the more challenging situations (and many of those abusive ones). And what abuse victims will find (from experience), is mostly materials that are not designed from them, but with no disclaimer telling them that.

They may not read the comments. In fact, even if they DO read the comments, they still may not even realize it isn't for them, because many people suffering from abuse don't even KNOW they are suffering from abuse. They'd prefer to believe that THEY are the problem and there is something THEY can do to fix it (because goodness knows, the person hurting them isn't going to change).

This is the reality, and I know it's super frustrating when all you want to do is talk about normal marriages and not address abusive ones. But the rub is, it's impossible to talk about healing in marriage and not deal with abusive ones on some level.

My experience was this- I was dying emotionally. I thought *I* was the problem. And I talked to my pastors (they told me, I needed to stop trying to find my worth in my wife). I searched the internet (which confirmed that every painful thing was my fault, and that if I would just be more sacrificial, loving, and focus on God, then things would get better).

The reason I'm still posting here (and I suspect others, as well) is because I *do* think you are coming from a better place than a lot of that garbage I found. I think you *do* understand that this advice doesn't work for people in abusive marriages. Where we disagree is that you believe it's OK to talk about this in isolation, and I just don't think you can. You will end up catching too many hurting people in your net that will end up being further damaged by your teaching. I don't think you intend or want that.

Here's a statistic for you: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been subjected to physical abuse by an intimate partner. http://www.ncadv.org/learn/statistics That's a large percentage of the population, and I think we should not assume that people involved in those situations currently aren't reading what we write. Many will be, and many will be looking for solutions to their problems, even ones that aren't meant for them and will end up making things worse.

SlyJeff said...

'Wade, you said, "God never designed your spouse to be the source of your fulfillment nor the solution for your pain."

This is absolutely true, and many people would be much happier and more contented in their marriage if they could let this truth sink in. Kudos for a good word on this subject.'

This is true; however, we shouldn't understand the level to which a spouse affects us. They may not be the source, but they certainly are a vessel. The advice I got of "she shouldn't be able to affect you that way" was completely unreasonable.

A marriage is the most intimate of bonds. When you are seen by someone in your most vulnerable state and reject (what abuse does), then it is very destructive, and this is to be expected. When you are seen by someone in your most vulnerable state and accepted, the empowerment is unbelievably strong. And this intimate bond is as God intended.

I agree with the statement, but we need to be careful that we are not acting as though the bond of marriage has not power to tear us down or build us up.

But anyway, to take a break from all of the seriousness, I submit a song that tells the truth about marriage in a semi-humerus, but very accurate way :)

https://youtu.be/CkBb6ghk7v0

SlyJeff said...

Er, 'understand' should be 'understate'!

Wade Burleson said...

Melody Young, SlyJeff,

Astute comments - both of you. Thanks.

Rex, apology accepted! :)

Wade Burleson said...

Ramesh,

Enjoyed the musical interlude - as well as your comments! :)

Wade Burleson said...

Finally, to all who have commented:

In 1989 I walked into a home where three children--all under 10--had been suffocated by their father with a pillow while they slept. Two little girls and a boy were dead. I made identification. In the closet, the murdering father had hung himself with a shoestring from the clothes rack. He was dead. The suicide note he left was filled with abusive finger pointing to his wife, whom just a month before, had filed for divorce because of the abuse of her husband. The detective with me told me the wife had just arrived and was outside needing information. It was my job to tell the woman what happened.

That is just one story of over at least a hundred I could tell of my personal involvement with abuse in marriage. Most of the couples whom I counsel are not in "abusive" relationships physically. However, there is deep inner emotional and mental pain. Most of the time in counseling, the person in pain points the finger and says "you have caused my pain, and if you only were different, I'd be happier." Let me repeat: Most of the couples with whom I counsel are not in the midst of physically abusive relationships. My post was written for those couples.

I agree that if a woman is in an abusive relationship, this post is not helpful. She needs to call the police and get out. I'm trusting that reading the comments will make that clear. It was not my intention to write for those individuals. I also agree that the title is misleading to those in abusive relationship. Please accept my apology and my explanation. I will not change the title and trust that you will understand that there are others who will be helped by the title - those who have not experienced physical abuse, but continue to believe that the source of their inner pain is a spouse who has "not shaped up; or not changed; or "not listened as I've taught him how to live his/her life."

Your spouse is not your problem.

Joe Pote said...

SlyJeff - You already know I completely agree with you on this topic.

Yes, a spouse's behavior does impact us, and there is no getting around that.

On the other hand, when I was in an abusive marriage, myself, I found it very empowering to be reminded of my own emotional autonomy...to understand that I was not responsible for my abusive spouse's behavior, nor for her happiness or lack thereof...to understand that I had every right to emotionally withdraw from the toxic relational interaction and cease trying to 'heal' the relationship...to understand that I was not responsible for being the glue that held the relationship together.

So much literature and teaching within the Christian community places an overemphasis on the importance of a 'godly' marriage that one can easily fall into the trap of thinking one's only hope for happiness is to reconcile and desperately try to save the marriage...and that divorce is the worst thing that could happen to a Christian. These false, unbiblical perspectives reinforce the agenda of the abuser in enslaving the abuse target.

So realizing that neither one's spouse nor one's marriage is intended to be (nor ever will be) our source of fulfillment is a critical step in letting go of the toxic marriage and moving on...or at least it was for me.

Yes, these same words can be used negatively to enslave, when coupled with false teaching that 'divorce is sin' that 'God hates divorce' and that 'divorce for abuse is not permissible.' In fact, that was the primary point of my comment...to point out to Wade how enslaving and harmful his post could be with the many references to applicability to 'healing every marriage'...a very false statement.

In his response to me, Wade mentioned use of hyperbole, which is likely how he intended this post. He may have seen the 'formula for healing every marriage' as being such a ludicrous statement that nobody would even consider taking it at face value. However, the sad truth of the matter is that the 'no divorce' teaching has become so prevalent in today's church that a high percentage of readers are likely to take his hyperbolic statements at face value.

Blessings to you, my friend. I appreciate you and your perspective.

Valerie said...

It appears that you are genuinely confident that you have discovered the method to end divorce (except for abuse) and that you sincerely believe that if all Christians just listened to you and applied your "panacea for broken marriages" (as you call it) they would all enjoy happy, healthy marriages (except in cases of abuse).

It's still baffling why you repeatedly claimed that this would always work when you must know that it won't--
"save any marriage"
"there is a formula to maintain healthy marriages and to heal broken marriages"
"the formula works regardless of the person or couple who follows it"
(^one person can refuse to go along, and it will still work)
"a panacea for broken marriages"

As a pastor, you are making big promises for a method that is very simplistic and that obviously contradicts some of what the Bible teaches about the sources of turmoil and pain within us. Even though you've been reminded that sin is presented to the Bible as causing actual pain, turmoil, and suffering within others, even though you've been reminded that Christ felt pain within from the abuses he suffered, you would rather keep your method than conform it to Scripture.

You have some very good things to say, there are gems in here on grace and identity that really are universal truths that all should hear, believe, and apply. So, why do you so strongly prefer to keep the confusion and error in this? Why are you determined to deliver promises that you have no authority to make and no power to accomplish? Why do you prefer rhetorical punch over biblical accuracy--and mercy? You're not sorry, and you're not changing, but why not? Is it so hard to say, "Oops"?

You are unusually sure of your invention when it couldn't have had more than small, local testing. How did you discover it? How many people with broken marriages have tested it? Have even a dozen tested this so far? Have even three? How many of them have you followed for even two decades? You make staggering promises of universal cure for a sad disease, but how far have you gone to determine that these promises are true?

How did you come to find out that abuse is the only exception where your method won't work? Why wouldn't it work for abuse, if you are certain that it works for every other kind of evil? How many complex and very painful situations has it even been applied to? Did the abuse exception come out in your testing, or is it just a feeling that you should except it?

I thought the Panacea for Broken Marriage (as you've called it) was like the Fountain of Youth, a myth. Since you really believe that you've found it at last and bested all who've gone before you, and yet you've contradicted the Bible to do it, it will be interesting (probably sad, maybe even horrifying) what will happen to the people who try this, having already tried everything else.

Don't be taken in by people who will "side with you" only because they can't stand controversy. It is far better to conform all things to the Bible than to avoid all controversy. Humility would take it down, both out of concern for the error (hundreds of Bible verses contradict your theory of internal pain) and out of concern for the people who will be harmed by it.

SlyJeff said...

"SlyJeff - You already know I completely agree with you on this topic."

Yes, I just couldn't help add a little nuance :)

It can be so easy to go to an unhealthy degree in either direction ("my spouse doesn't matter <-> "my spouse is my everything")

"In his response to me, Wade mentioned use of hyperbole, which is likely how he intended this post. He may have seen the 'formula for healing every marriage' as being such a ludicrous statement that nobody would even consider taking it at face value."

Well, Christian teaching on marriage is so over the top anyway that it's hard to spot intentional hyperbole. I mean, how many times do I have to hear "The Bible is God's manual for marriage?" when the Bible actually has very little specifically about marriage. If it's a manual, it's a pretty poor one (but thankfully, learning about marriage is not the focus of our scripture- good news for the unmarried folks out there!)


With all due respect to Wade, this is why I mostly write off most teaching on marriage from the church (not all, but I generally approach anything unproven with skepticism). Christian teachers tends to put marriages in boxes that are easily dealt with and work within their experience and worldview, but real marriages don't easily fit into those boxes. It's super hard to give "general information" about marriage that is actually useful to people who need help, and it seems many Christian teachers won't go beyond the handful of verse in the Bible about marriage. What you end up is generally these ideas we can nod along with or object to, but that don't really impact our lives. And gloss over the kind of complexity people really want/need.

I always cringe when a small group I'm in brings up a marriage study. I'm just tired of trying to find valuable nuggets in the compost of "Christian" teaching on the subject of marriage. Perhaps I feel this way because the ideas that I've found most valuable don't really make it into most discussions of marriage in the church.

Valerie said...

>>He may have seen the 'formula for healing every marriage' as being such a ludicrous statement that nobody would even consider taking it at face value.<<

I would love to see an answer to this.

Valerie said...

I knew it. Wade Burleson your above comment makes it clear that for your exception abuse equals PHYSICAL abuse. Everything else in marriage salvageable by your method.

Oh, the Bible is far better than the promises of men!

Sometimes the first instance of physical abuse is the deadly one. The time to get out is when it becomes obvious that a spouse has a heart inclined fully to hatred and anger and not at all inclined to repentance. Jesus taught us that it's the *heart* that produces murder, and the heart evidences itself in other ways than a slow escalation of physical abuse over time. The church too often urges us that behaviors which in the rest of life are warning signs to avoid dangerous people should be taken in marriage as invitations to denial, to substantial self-blame, to greater affection, to greater appeasement, to greater subservience. They always say that in marriage it's NEVER appropriate to just jump and run for your life and safety, never looking back, just like you would if such vicious hatred came from a stranger at the library or in an alley somewhere.

PTSD from constant malice and continual threatening and intimidation is actually far worse and far harder to treat than a few bruises and a broken nose.

Valerie said...

For *so many pastors* physical abuse and unrelenting hatred which intentionally acts to cause harm (including but not limited to internal turmoil, pain, and suffering) are in completely different categories but Jesus put them in the SAME category in his words on anger, hatred, and murder in the Sermon on the Mount. Punches or no punches, escalating hatred is threatening to the health and lives of its victims.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

When a person lives by principle, and not emotion, then the disapproval or disappointment of people makes no difference.

I believe that the Scripture clearly and repeatedly points everyone to God and His grace to us through the Person of Jesus Christ as the source of our inner happiness, regardless of our circumstances (see Philippians 4:11). Nowhere do I see any Scripture - not one - that allows a believer in Christ to blame their inner pain or hurt on circumstances or someone else. I believe I am, contrary to your opinion, conforming my views to Scripture. Jesus, "for the joy set before Him endured the cross." The saints of old sang hymns as their enemies burned them at the stake. Only those who have been captivated by the grace of God can learn how to enjoy life because of who Christ is to them, and who they are by His grace, and not because of their circumstances. Those without grace find "happiness happens when happenstances happen to be happy."

So, the reason I am not change my views is because I believe they conform to Scripture. However, it's not my objective to convince you that you are wrong and I am right. Though I believe I am basing what I teach on the principles of God's word, I recognize I could be wrong (but don't believe I am), and am always open to anyone who shows me from Scripture where I'm wrong.

I've yet to see I'm wrong from Scripture.

I completely accept that you believe my teaching doesn't conform to Scripture However, I am unconvinced by your comments above that my views do not conform to Scripture. You haven't even given a Scripture that contradicts what I'm saying. You've given me an opinion. As a result, I won't change my views. I must be convinced by Scripture and eternal principles of truth, not the emotional displeasure of those who wish I would write something different. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." That freedom includes being unaffected by people who don't like what you write.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

By the way, your comment above my last comment is some interesting insight. Thank you.

Wade Burleson said...

"He may have seen the 'formula for healing every marriage' as being such a ludicrous statement that nobody would even consider taking it at face value.' I would love to see an answer on this."

My desire was just to give some hope to those who think there is no hope.


SlyJeff said...

"Nowhere do I see any Scripture - not one - that allows a believer in Christ to blame their inner pain or hurt on circumstances or someone else."

Placed in the context of abuse, this means that if a woman being beaten* repeatedly by her husband is experiencing inner pain, it's her fault. I understand that you don't want to have this conversation in the context of abuse, but if it's a universal truth that others are not to blame for our inner pain, it has to apply to all situations, including abuse.

As for emotions, God have them to us, and they are useful. We must not ignore them. They do not overrule scripture, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention.

This entire line of "rise above your circumstances and focus on Jesus to find inner peace" idea is something that hurt me very much in my own experience. I took the burden of the shame and pain on myself, always assuming that it was my faith that was lacking. But, it wasn't. Or rather, my faith was being affected by the pain of the marriage I was in and the lies that relationship was telling me about God. I *tried* to ignore that pain and just focus on God, but all that did was make me feel more shamed when it didn't work.

What *did* work? Removing that person from my life as much as possible. Getting room to breath and think and feel. To seek peace. To understand. Was it ONLY the act of leaving that set me free? No, but I wouldn't have been able to find peace while in an intimate relationship with her either.

We are meant to be in relationships with others. We can't deny that relationships affect us deeply. If they didn't, why the commands to love one another? Why the commands to commune together and seek accountability? Clearly God has created us for horizontal connection, and clearly those horizontal connections are meant to affect us and be a part of who we are.

A belief that our inner pain and peace are only sculpted by our vertical relationship with God denies all the things that the Bible says about relationships. If it were true, the "me and my Bible on a deserted island" model of faith would work, except for evangelism. But people are more than evangelical targets to us. They are our brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives. They are our community, and being connected to them means they affect our inner peace.

This doesn't mean you can "blame everyone else" for your problems and take no responsibility. We do have to take ownership of our own person by setting boundaries, accepting relationships which encourage and limiting/rejecting those that do not. But that's not the same thing as saying you can't blame your inner pain or hurt on someone else. Sometimes, someone else is to blame, and sometimes there's nothing you can do, especially if you live in a culture or country that does not allow you to break free.

Being able to name an abuser and say "You are hurting me, and it's not OK" is a very important step. And it's one that your theology (as stated) denies. Because your theology states that the abuser isn't hurting you, at least not on the "inner" level. And if they are, it's your fault.

Today, I'm someone who is very much at peace, regardless of my circumstances. I am very blessed and thankful. But part of my peace is because those who I am most intimate with foster and grow that peace, rather than disrupt and attack it.


*I'm using physical violence because it's common ground that clearly illustrates the point. I believe that all abuse is emotional abuse at its core.

Cross Stitch said...

Hi Wade!
I appreciated your post and want to thank you for it. I passed it on to my family, but I'm wondering now if I'll get responses like the ones above. :O I was asked this week "how do you do it" after announcing our celebration of 34 yrs of marriage. I thought your article summed it up nicely. :) We may not have said the same words in your formula, but something similar to it has worked for us. The 15 minutes is always nice and usually leads to longer. :)

God Bless.

Cross Stitch said...

Sorry..I meant to say 15 seconds.

Wade Burleson said...

Cross Stitch,

Thank you for your comment. With your spirit, I didn't consider 15 minutes a typo! Your husband is a blessed man, as are you a blessed woman. You take ownership of your own feelings, you don't take responsibility for your spouses feelings, and you love each other out of the fulness of who you are in Christ and not out of a need for anyting else for "My God supplies all my needs according to His riches."

Thanks again, for the comment. I've learned a great deal from the comments of those who have disagreed. I have ejoyed the dialogue!

Wade Burleson said...

Sly Jeff,

I do appreciate your comments. In your last one, you intentionally took your comment out of the context which I wrote (which is fine), so allow me a question for you outside of the context of this post as well.

In your opinion, how did the people described in Fox's Book of Martyrs - people burned alive at the stake by their enemies because of their faith in Christ - how did these people sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, praising God with joyful hearts while they were being burned alive?

My answer is they saw themselves as more than conquerors in Christ and they didn't see themselves as victims. I'm interested in your opinion because it seems we disagree on whether or not it is possible to be in control of your inner emotions regardless of your circumstances.

Victorious said...

"Nowhere do I see any Scripture - not one - that allows a believer in Christ to blame their inner pain or hurt on circumstances or someone else."

Wade, I think the wording you've used in this is peculiar...particularly the words, "allows" and "blame".

The reason I see it as odd is that the entire Bible is replete with examples of people hurting others. Of special interest is that the Mosaic Law enacted boundaries in hundreds of situations to lessen the pain and suffering of unjust treatment of others. In addition, there are many narratives recorded that show how those boundaries were violated thereby directly causing the very suffering and injustice they were meant to curb/curtail/eliminate.

So, while you are correct that there might not be specific verses in scripture that "allow" us to "blame" others or circumstances, there is no denying the obvious...many were/are many, many examples of those who were terribly affected by the mistreatment of others.

While attending a Marriage Encounter many years ago, one principle that I've never forgotten was of great value to me. "Feelings aren't right or wrong; good or bad; they just ARE!" If there are feelings of pain, we do well to try to diagnose the source of that pain whether it's emotional, physical, or spiritual. Otherwise, to ignore the source is to allow it to continue and it remains untreated. To pretend the pain or sorrow has no source, or that we are unable to deal directly to eliminate that source of pain or sorrow makes no sense to me.

Again, the words "allow" and "blame" confuse the issue imo.

Victorious said...

I meant to include this article in my previous comment but forgot.

The Emotional Jesus; His Ups and Downs

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/robertcrosby/2012/06/the-emotional-jesus-his-ups-downs/

SlyJeff said...

My answer would be that one those martyrs did is not necessarily a prescription for how all people will/should respond in a given circumstance. Their response is also not a perfect representation of a lack of inner turmoil (you'll have to excuse that I'm making assumptions because I have not read the book).

Let me instead explain what I *do* believe about inner turmoil , and see how it lines up to what you believe. I think we are actually very close, but there is a critical difference which I think is very important.

I think "It Is Well With My Soul" is perhaps one of the greatest descriptions of the Christian life I've read outside of the Bible. It's the greatest expression of faith in the face of circumstances that I know of. I assume you know the context of how and why it was written, so I'll jump ahead.

Note that Spafford did NOT deny inner turmoil. When he writes "When sorrows like sea billows roll", he is speaking of the anguish of the loss of his children. He is not writing (though some seem to think so) of a person who is emotionally happy. He is sorrowful.

And yet, he points to the Cross as the overriding truth in his life. "Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to know, it is well with my soul". The wellness of our souls is the guarantee that guides our life. We may experience great joy and great pain, but our ultimate hope is in the state of our souls, that is static despite our circumstance.

In my former marriage, my soul was always well. Every single moment. My ex wife could not touch that. My pastors could not touch that. The world could not touch that. If that is what you mean by "inner peace", then we'd agree. But you can experience that kind of "inner peace" at the same time as "inner pain". I know, because I've been there.

I remember vividly being in so much emotional pain that it was hard to move. I was physically sick. I was lying on a bed, too emotionally spent to even get up an fearful that my son would awaken from a nap and I would be unable to help him. There is no way that you can convince me that I was not experiencing "inner pain" at that moment, and yet my soul was always "well". And one thing that was necessary to deal with that pain was to remove myself (and my son) from an abusive situation. That "inner pain" was not caused by a lack of faith. I was afflicted by the actions of another.

And boy my faith grew from that experience. Today I am far more resilient than I ever was, and I am more careful about drawing boundaries that keep me emotionally healthy. I learned so much and put it into practice. It was a lot of hard work.

But the point is, I was in pain, and the cause of that pain was external. A lot of times I masked that pain for others, but it was real and definitely affected me.

So back to your martyrs. History will have boiled them down to a single act of faith, but they were likely far more complex people. They may not have felt the pain of affliction, but they may have and yet been able to respond according to the wellness of their souls rather than their circumstances. But that their outward response reflect one aspect does not mean there wasn't more going on internally. We will never know this side of heaven.

What I do know now is that emotions and pain should not be ignored. These things should be acknowledged and dealt with. We need not fear the state of our souls if we are miserable, because the state of our souls are not contingent on how we feel. Grief and pain are a part of life, and they are also tools to help us navigate through situations in a healthy way.

My emotions are what they are. I do not try to control them. What I do try to do is control how I react to them. I allow myself to feel pain, and I do not feel shame for doing so. And when that pain is caused externally, it is freedom to name that and recognize it.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

You write: "Feelings aren't right or wrong; good or bad; they just ARE!" If there are feelings of pain, we do well to try to diagnose the source of that pain whether it's emotional, physical, or spiritual. Otherwise, to ignore the source is to allow it to continue and it remains untreated. To pretend the pain or sorrow has no source, or that we are unable to deal directly to eliminate that source of pain or sorrow makes no sense to me."

Powerful. Fully agree.

When I feel sad, when I feel angry, when I feel lonely, when I feel abandoned, when I feel... - My feelings are not sin, NEITHER is my spouse the cause or the cure. They are MY feelings and the source for healing of negative feelings and the source of pleasure for positive feelings is to be Christ and His grace which promises me every need I have will be met in Him and all He has promised me is "yea and amen!" (meaning "certain") because of His love, mercy and faithfulness to me regardless of my performance.

That's what I mean when I say I'm learning not to blame my spouse for MY feelings, or allow anyone else to assign responsibility to me for their feelings.

Wade Burleson said...

Sly Jeff,

Superb insight. Thank you. I think my comment above will show I believe negative feelings come to us all. It Is Well With My Soul in the midst of pain is powerful! In my mind, we seem to be saying very similar things.

Valerie said...

I have mentioned specific Scripture. The Biblical view is not that because we are Christians we will never experience inner suffering except as a result of our own personal sin, but rather that when we experience inner suffering we will be comforted by our hope in God. We cannot escape all inner suffering by "positive confession", as you recommend.

The Book of Job was written to disprove your thesis. As a result of his severe losses (mostly at the hands of evil aggressors), Job was experiencing tremendous inner suffering. It was not that his possessions were disappearing that moment, or that his children were dying that hour. The problem, which his friends came to fix, was his inward suffering. He was in deep pain inside himself and yet the Bible says, "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong."

Job's friends pondered the problem in their own prideful minds and came to the conclusion that the best they could do for him was to falsely charge him with sin. In their view, if he was suffering that much inward pain then he had to be very defective and ususually sinful. So they went with that, and used it to hurt him.

Read the psalms of lament and see what they teach. Inner suffering is not personal sin, or a failure to believe God, but a part of life in this fallen world which we can experience and endure, calling it what it is and hoping faithfully in God through it, believing his promises, holding him as our greatest treasure. Believing in Jesus and being born from above does not make us immune to inner suffering, but it does mean that we will hold onto him through it because he keeps our hearts.

Your contention that inner suffering is only caused by inner personal sin is in fact a form of the prosperity gospel, which promises that if we have just the right type of faith we would be impervious to the kind of woe and distress that befalls others.

See Psalm 22--
1. Does this describe inward suffering?
2. Does it teach that this inward suffering is caused by personal sin?

See Mark 14--
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

1. Does this describe inward suffering?
2. Does it teach that this inward suffering is caused by personal sin?

Read Psalm 31, which teaches both that we suffer from our personal sins and from the sins of others against us. (It's also caused by the losses that God ordains in life.) How can we encourage anyone to hope in God in suffering if we think that holiness means an absence of suffering? Would you tell the grieving widow, the father whose son was shot in cold blood, the child who was raped by a pedophile that if they are experiencing inward suffering it's not because of what was done to them, but because they don't have enough of the right kind of faith and need to repent?

Do you remember the Book of Lamentations--
“For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my spirit;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.”

Is this Jeremiah's personal sin, for which he should be faulted and ought to be rebuked and called to repentance? Or is it a righteous and godly grief over the depredations of the wicked, the transgressions of God's People, and the suffering of their judgment?

In this world, the righteous will experience grief like Christ did, like David did, like Jeremiah did. Yes, you can blame them for their own pain, shaming them to repent of feeling grief, urging them to make a positive confession that they don't even believe ("You may not at first believe it; but say it.") or you can be among the merciful who show mercy.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

Your last paragraph above shows me you have a perception of what I teach that is contrary to what I actually teach. I've never blamed anyone for their own inner pain - it's not a matter of blame, its a matter of feelings. Feelings are amoral. What I HAVE DONE is encourage people not to look to other people or circumstances for the source or sustenance of their inner joy and/or happiness. If you see Christ as your "Balm in Gilead" and the "Provider of all your needs," then you can't and won't blame other people for the inner turmoil within you. You'll look to Christ for healing and you'll look to Christ for fulfillment. To me it's not a matter of blame. It's a matter of truth.

And, you can ask anyone who knows me or listens to me teach. Shame has no place in the Christians life (search the word "shame" in my search box at the top of my blog).

I do feel mercy for those in need of mercy. I do love those who point their finger and blame other people for what they feel inside. However, I love enough to speak what I believe to be the truth.

"Your spouse is neither the source or the solution for the pain you feel within."

Will be out for several hours, so this will be my last comment.

Brînduşa said...

I am very tempted to write a longer comment, but just a short couple of observations (they are short compared to what's on my mind, anyway). Abuse or no abuse, when a man cheats on his wife (it could be the other way around, I'm just using this as an example, so I don't get lost in 'spouse no. 1' and 'spouse no. 2'), if his wife is a healthy woman, with a healthy understanding of what marriage should be and with a sense of decency, she will feel very hurt and betrayed. Yes, these are her feelings. Could she truthfully say to him 'You are not the cause of my feelings of hurt and betrayal'? No. His adultery is the very cause! Such a thing hurts very deeply. Yes, she can know her worth in God's eyes even if her marriage falls apart. Yes, she can have peace with God and be secure in her salvation no matter what her husband does. But she will be deeply hurt, even angry, and it *is* because of that betrayal.

I thank God I am married to a good man, so I'm not speaking of my own marriage when I say this, but I do know quite well what an unhappy marriage looks like. Not a physically abusive one, but emotionally so. And there is lots of pain, and it is caused by lies, hypocrisy, arrogance, blame-shifting and a host of other things.

There are longer answers that could be given from the Bible, but I'll just say quickly that when Scripture tells us to weep with those who weep, it doesn't say 'Oh, and actually teach them they are weeping needlessly, because they could choose to be happy instead.'

My marriage is not abusive in the least, and I give thanks for my husband, but I don't find what you wrote in this post (I am grateful for many other posts you authored) to be hope-giving in the least. On the contrary. In fact, my husband and I have had a good relationship in our marriage (so far it's been 16 years, by God's grace) exactly because when something he does or says or doesn't do or say hurts me, I can tell him just how that affects me and how it makes me feel. And he is loving, kind, sensitive and honest enough to care, and to be genuinely sorry when he realizes something has hurt me - and he is willing to correct it. And I try to do the same for him.

Valerie said...

You quoted someone else above, not me, but Christ had negative feelings. He was sad (John 11), he was angry (Matthew 21), he was lonely (Matthew 4), and he felt abandoned (Matthew 27). Jesus doesn't teach that negative emotion is always sinful or unhealthy, nor does he promise to heal us of negative emotion in this life.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" is a commandment. Sometimes it's both righteous and healthy to feel negative emotion very deeply, and to call it what it is. In some cases it wouldn't just feel like a lie (as you said in your OP), but it would actually BE a lie to tell a spouse, "You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

Ephesians 6:4--
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

A harsh, provoking, angry father could say, "You kids can't blame me for your feelings, or make me responsible for your feelings!" That will sound all "Dear Abby" right and sensible, but in the case of a harsh, provoking, angry father, it's just not biblical at all. But this is *exactly* what abusers claim: The problem is never, ever the abuser's words, behavior, rules, plotting, or threats. The problem is always 100% the victim's response. All the load for all the harm done is placed squarely on the victim and is hers alone to carry because whatever the abuser may plot for the purpose of causing harm, the actual harm done is never, ever his fault.

In this view, if prisoners of war end up with PTSD, it's certainly not caused by their captors, and the same goes for the victims of abuse who only have themselves to blame. The idea that abuse is harmless and its effects are all the victim's fault until the abuser starts knocking out teeth just isn't biblical.

It's possible both to take responsibility for our own thoughts and emotions, and to see when we are being harmed by others and withdraw for the sake of our health and safety. Part of emotional stability is the ability to see and understand when someone else is the source of trouble and pain within us.

Valerie said...

>>What I HAVE DONE is encourage people not to look to other people or circumstances for the source or sustenance of their inner joy and/or happiness. If you see Christ as your "Balm in Gilead" and the "Provider of all your needs,"<<

I agree strongly with this. What you say that is biblical is very, very good and very well said. Another human will never be the satisfaction of my needs, or the ultimate source of my joy.

It's what you say that is unbiblical, and which has the potential to be very gravely harmful that's the problem. When my husband was bent on causing my destruction, he was the cause of MUCH inner pain for me. It was real pain, it was genuine suffering, and he really caused it. I didn't decide to feel pain spontaneously, randomly, and independently of his vicious hatred because I just wouldn't be satisfied in my savior. Rather, I felt it because of the evils that were being perpetrated against me on a daily basis. It hurts to be pursued with hatred, and it hurts to be in danger.

But *in that pain* the Triune God comforted me, kept me, held me, nourished me, and in his good time and in a wonderful way he delivered me. I have known intense pain, but in it I have also received immense comfort and have been blessed with real joy.

You are talking about--actually--a narrow subset of marital troubles, those people who expect their spouses to be their sources of joy, ultimate need-meeters, and perfect suppliers of all that they want and crave, who feel entitled to pout that they ended up married to one who is a poor idol but a decent human being. Sometimes that's one spouse, sometimes it's both of them, and it does set them up for misery, and this advice could help them a lot, if they would take it. But that makes the cure good for some, few, sometimes. Not for any, every, all, regardless.

SlyJeff said...

"I do love those who point their finger and blame other people for what they feel inside."

Back to your martyrs, if they were in emotional pain for what they were experiencing (despite their ability to sing songs and exalt God), what was the source of that emotional pain? What was the source?

It would be their persecutors. It would be external. And it would be completely valid to name that.

I think the big disconnect here is that you are presenting assigning blame to others as a bad thing. It isn't. People hurt other people, and they are to blame for doing it. It is not wrong or invalid to be a victim of someone else's actions. Paul was willing to do it when he named Alexander the Coppersmith. It is not wrong or invalid to feel inner turmoil at what someone else has done. And it's disingenuous to say that pain did not come from the aggressor.

It seems that what you fear is people avoiding dealing with their inner turmoil by blaming that turmoil on someone else. People do that, and it's a valid concern, but assign blame is not always the same as avoiding dealing with the turmoil. In some cases, it is the fruit of honest assessment. It is possible to assign blame externally, and take responsibility yourself for dealing with it. In fact, this is what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is a clearing of debt owed. The debt is owed because someone has transgressed. When a real transgression has occurred, the victim's state is caused externally. But forgiveness is taking control of that pain and saying "you caused it, but I'm dealing with it- I'm not waiting on you to balance the scales".

When I hear people complain about "victims" (and I read shades of that in your writing in these comments), I think they are shaming people who are simply asserting that they have been transgressed against. But there is no shame in having someone treat you badly. Shaming people for being treated badly encourages people to stay silent and try to hide their pain (often even from themselves). "Victim" should not be a bad word.

I once heard a secular counselor say this (paraphrased) to a room full people who had been abused: "You cannot wait for your abuser to make it right, because you will wait forever. It isn't OK or the way things are supposed to be, but you will only heal if you take charge and do the hard work. It should be that other person, but it won't be. It's not fair, but it is true". He was right on target. And forgiveness is a part of this.

In my past, when I was going through a divorce, I found myself continually trying to extract some kind of understanding or empathy from my ex-wife. I wanted her to understand my pain. I wanted her to take responsibility. And waiting for that moment was driving me crazy. And it was unhealthy. And it's the kind of thing you are rightly warning against. But the answer wasn't to pretend she wasn't the transgressor. The answer was the moment I told her "You hurt me, but you owe me nothing. You do not need to do anything to make it up or make it right." She did not know what to do with that. The response I got was a confused "OK?", but for me it made all the difference. I stopped waiting for her to make it right. I started moving on. And I stopped focusing on what I wanted her to do.

I believe that is the behavior you are trying to get to with your thoughts here, but there's one difference. I didn't accept the blame, I only accepted the responsibility for healing.

(continued below)

SlyJeff said...

The reason I don't like your statement is that sometimes our spouse IS the source of our pain. They are broken sinners, and they can cause pain. And sometimes they can be the resolution of that pain. The best answer is to empathize and seek understanding, and when spouses do their best to listen and understand, they can work as a team to resolve the pain both feel. We ought not always default to thinking that we are he problem and we are the resolution. I know this because it is my default. I ALWAYS assume that I am the problem and I ALWAYS assume that the fix lies with me. But the thing is, that perspective is just another form of control, because it's easier to fix if the problem is us. It isn't healthy. And when the problem really wasn't me, I lived far too long in an unhealthy place trying to fix what was beyond myself to fix.

In healthy relationships, the answer is teamwork, vulnerability, and respect. That is much more difficult than assigning or taking blame and acting accordingly.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

You wrote: “I also agree that the title is misleading to those in abusive relationship. I will not change the title…there are others who will be helped by the title - those who have not experienced physical abuse...”

I hope you to think hard on this:

Wouldn’t this Title help those who have not experienced physical abuse just as well as the original?

’15 words and 15 Seconds That Save Any Marriage except physical abuse.’

Ramesh said...

My 2c.

If one listens to Wade's messages, he ALWAYS says don't take anything I say without examination or searching on your own. Either from the Bible or from your own conscience.

I disagree with Wade on LOTS of things. Politics, Finance, even some of his Bible messages and examples he uses.

It is all ok.


It is healthy to disagree and search for oneself.

Heck, we think Newton's law of gravitation is so universal and unquestionable... The reality is even Newton questioned his own theory. He tried all his life to make sense of his own law and could not. Please read more here:

Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding | Noam Chomsky

Folks, people are fairly intelligent to discern for themselves what is and what is not good. And they can test it out. Unless their discernment is damaged, as it usually happens living in abusive relationships, work, church or life in a warped society. Then one goes about correcting this damage via their spiritual journey and faith.

Anonymous said...

Not to split hairs, but if a husband is clinically narcasstic, there is no way he would be pleased to be informed he is not the solution to any given issue. To find your worth and identity apart from him, would completely fly in the face of what a narcissist requires.

Just thinking...

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

Bulls eye.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I'm confident people will read the comments and get what they need from them. Just as Ramesh said, I trust the intellect of my readers.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and discussion.

Barbara Roberts, you said:

"Seriously Wade, take my advice: STOP and LEARN before writing anything else and so putting your foot in your mouth again."

"It is only since you have demonstrated repeatedly in this thread that you are doggedly unwilling to be educated by me and the others who are speaking up to warn you as well, that I have now started talking about your motivation. "

" The abuser has problems with his belief system not his emotions. He believes he is entitled to mistreat his target(s). He believes in his superiority. "

I have read years of your comments on net, have a book of yours and appreciate your contribution to helping people recover from domestic abuse. In this particular exchange you are coming across (to me) as having an heir of superiority in over-valuing your own opinion and experiences, especially in your response to Wade when he fails to agree with you. Your insisting that someone learn from you (even if you have a PhD) is not very winsome.

JMHO, Wayne

Anonymous said...

Yikes...heir ought to be air. Sorry

Barbara Roberts said...

Hi JMHO Wayne :) I appreciate you expressing your perceptions of my tone. I have been mulling over my contributions to this thread and asking myself whether my tone was ever too blunt/brusque/stern.

You said: "... In this particular exchange you are coming across (to me) as having an air of superiority in over-valuing your own opinion and experiences, especially in your response to Wade when he fails to agree with you. Your insisting that someone learn from you (even if you have a PhD) is not very winsome."

I freely admit that when I first read Wade's post and the fairly short thread of comments that then existed on this thread, my initial response was indignation. I was angry that he hadn't put a caveat at the top of the post to make it clear it didn't apply to victims of abuse and other kinds of severe marital mistreatment. I was angry that he didn't seem to have given a single thought to how his post would come across to a reader who was a victim of domestic abuse. I was angry that in the comments thread he'd indicated that he thought domestic abuse was ONLY physical violence.

And I wrote my first comment firmly and directly, with a degree of indignation. And I suggested he could learn more about domestic abuse by visiting A Cry For Justice.

My subsequent comments — which are the ones you have picked up and quoted — were progressively more firm. But if you read the thread and see how Wade was responding to me, I think you might find that perhaps I did have reasons to become more insistent.

I do not have a PhD, and even if I did, I would never hold that up as a reason to respect what I had to say.

In regards to domestic abuse and the church, do I OVER-value my opinion and experience in comparison to Wade's? That's a fair question.

It is clear to me from how Wade has responded in this thread that his opinions and experience re domestic abuse in the church and much less well-informed than mine.

Therefore, if on this topic I assess my opinion and experience as higher than Wade's I believe I do so correctly. And wisely.

About 24 hours ago I decided to stop commenting on this thread because Wade was not heeding my input. I know I can't force someone to learn from me! :) And it is unwise for me to devote my limited energies to those who don't want to listen: it's a better use of my time to talk to those who will listen.

Maybe I was unwise to keep urging Wade for so long, to keep coming back to try to persuade him to revise his thinking. In coming back repeatedly, I have been -- yes -- pretty insistent. And I can accept that,especially if only my latter comments were focused on, it could appear that I was using a tone of unpleasant superiority.

The only reason I kept trying for so long to persuade Wade was that I know he has a good reputation for standing up for victims of child sexual abuse, so I thought he might be willing to become awakened to some blind spots he has about domestic abuse.

I had to conclude, in the end, that at this stage Wade is unwilling to be awakened more on the issue of domestic abuse. So be it. I respect Wade's choice to remain where he is at — I don't admire his choice, but I recognise and honour his right to choose.

And I only came back here to reply to your comment, JMHO Wayne. :) I am glad you have found my other work on the web and my book helpful. :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Looking on the bright side, if the Title had ‘except abuse’ there would never be over a hundred comments that teach ten times more than the original post.

I’ll never forget you having to tell a wife that her abusive husband had killed their children and hung himself.

Wade Burleson said...

Barbara,

There are more than a few battered women whom I've helped over the years to become strong in who they are in Christ, prosecute their husbands for their crimes, and begin new lives. You will not find one of them who shares your assessment of me. But they know me, and we don't have the pleasure of friendship. I would enjoy a friendship with you I'm sure, but since there is none, I may not listen as well as you would like. I'm sure you'll find others who you believe you have something to offer them and equally sure they will profit from your mentoring.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

As I originally stated, I did not intend to comment further, but this situation so upset me that I did check back a few times to collect my thoughts.

Barbara, I disagree entirely that you became progressively more firm. Unless I missed something, I saw you come on here all guns blazing, and I was shocked at how quickly you "discerned" Wade did not think the same as you about domestic abuse. The way you handled this, Barbara, hurt me to watch, because you used shaming and came across to me as controlling.

Since this event, I have looked back over Wade's blog to find where he talked about abuse. In comments he has allowed elsewhere, the inclusion of emotional abuse is a given theme.

But Barbara, you did not ask him anything directly, you just assumed because he saw things differently to you about this post's intent that he must not be informed about abuse.

I agree with Wade that our security must rest in Christ alone. I don't agree with Wade on everything, and I'm ok with that. I also understand that if a pastor doesn't get abuse it has serious implications for his church.

ACFJ supports many precious people, and I do not want to diminish that. But you are just one resource, not the oracle. People do need to be free to figure things out for themselves. Writing people off entirely for disagreement or misunderstanding just isn't healthy, and I fear it could ultimately keep some people stuck emotionally.

Just as it is unwise to attack a person personally when attempting to share the gospel, it doesn't help anyone advocate against abuse if those advocating are themselves seen as arrogant or controlling. Not only is shaming off-putting, it is counter-productive.

I know this may hurt, Barbara, and I know I am guilty of the all guns blazing approach too. I am suggesting that we as Christians need to rethink that. Wade models healthy boundaries and respectful replies, and I appreciate his example.

I also appreciated the perspective here from one who has been married much longer than I. I am sad that we can't hear a personal perspective on marriage without being expected to relate it to the power imbalance of abuse dynamics. That, too, in my opinion, is counter-productive.

Melody Young

SlyJeff said...

I understand that Wade has helped people in domestic abuse situations. That does not negate that this post was has great potential to harm people in abusive relationships.

Wanting to respectfully disagree is noble, but it's difficult to see this is an area of mere "disagreement" when you've witnessed the kind of destruction that blog posts like this do in the lives of abuse victims. Just because it is not targeted at them does not mean it won't hit them, and hurt them.

It IS sad that we can't hear a personal perspective on marriage with relating it to the power imbalance of abuse dynamics, but that is the world we live in. It's a world where abuse victims go looking for help, and the majority of the Christian materials they find only confirm that it is their own fault they are in pain, that they need to change, and that the problem is with them, not their abuser.

Barbara did come in guns blazing. Perhaps the approach did not serve the purpose well. It is likely that the way she attempted to contribute made it difficult for Wade to listen. Or, perhaps no matter what she said, he wouldn't have listened. The thing I do know is, she rightly identified a very troubling and problematic post that will likely do great harm in the lives of abuse victims, and however she went about it, her perspective was correct. The truth is the truth, even if those trying to communicate it don't do it in the best possible way.

I have tried to communicate why this kind of post did a great deal of harm to me in the past, but that appears to matter little. Wade believes that the comment section will suffice to clarify his intent. But I think there are a fair number of people who never read the comments, and even if they did I do not know how they would process his refusal to change what he wrote.

Honestly, while a change in title has been requested, I don't think that would do it. From everything I've understood from Wade, he really does believe that all internal pain a person experiences is their own fault, and that must include those in abusive situations. I haven't seen logic from him that suggests otherwise. I see that he advises people to leave abusive relationships, which is good, but I see nothing indicating he believes that it's right for a victim to blame her abuser for the pain.

And if that's the case, it seems to me the reason he doesn't want to change it is because, at the end of the day, he believes it. He may not believe that an abusive marriage is salvageable, but he also does not think that an abuser is the source of a victim's pain.

And Wade, if I'm out to lunch here, feel free to correct me. I mean no disrespect. I'm just calling it like I see it, and applying your theology the best that I can. I wish that you'd walk this back, but I understand you are not mine to control. My heart just breaks for those who may be injured, because at the end of they day, they are the ones who really matter in all this discussion. It isn't about theology or ideas, it's about people.

Barbara Roberts said...

Hi Sly Jeff and Melody Young,
I've re-read the whole comments thread and reevaulated my comments . Yes, I did come in guns blazing. That did not help. I am sorry, Melody, for my tone having upset you. In feeling how important it was to point out to Wade some of the dangers of what he had said, I didn't consider enough how other readers might take what I said. I do not want to make anyone feel they need to walk on eggshells around me.

It is true that I *did* quickly discern that Wade doesn't think the same as me about domestic abuse. Even if he believes that emotional abuse is wrong, the fact is, he has kept talking in this entire thread as if domestic abuse is only *physical* abuse. That is how he responded to Rex Ray's first comment (the one about the finger in the vice). And it's been a recurring theme in Wade's comments.

If Wade thinks it is wrong/sinful/hurtful for someone to emotionally abuse someone else, that's great. But why then does he believe that it is wrong for the hurt person to say "This other person is hurting me; they are to blame for trying to oppress and damage me; they are causing me inner pain.' This seems to be one of Wade's disconnects. I think it's illogical to say it's wrong to emotionally abuse, and then turn round and say that the one being emotionally abused is not allowed to attribute the cause of their inner pain to the actions of the abuser.

And of course, while suffering inner pain, the hurting person can at the same time find comfort in their relationship with God. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

As to the verse about Jesus which says "For the joy set before him, he endured the Cross" -- that's true. But the joy was *before* him; something he knew would come to him in the *future*. zhile he was in Gethsemane he was in deep inner pain and such intense fear that blood vessels close to the surface of his skin broke and blood moved into the interstitial tissues and seeped out through his sweat glands.

Another thing that bothered me about Wade's responses, and why I so quickly discerned that he is under-informed about domestic abuse, is that he consistently speaks if going to the police is the solution for physical domestic violence. That is not the case all the time. The legal and justice system has many flaws and there are many ways that abusers can manipulate the system to keep on oppressing and terrorising their victims. If only going to the cops was always a neat and quick solution! What a wonderful world that would be!

I do not agree that our security must rest in Christ alone. That is true spiritually, but it is not true in the material world. Our security in the material world where there are wicked people in abundance rests on more than just our relationship with Christ. It rests in part on the rule of law in the country we live in, the availability of food, water, shelter, health care, the personal integrity and honesty of others, etc. And in domestic abuse or other forms of severe oppression and affliction, those things become high priority! That's why the Apostle told us to 'remember the poor' and 'remember those in chains' and that God has ordained the secular state to provide protection under the rule of law for its citizens (Romans 13).

In domestic abuse (not just the physical kind) safety is the first priority. And pastors and bloggers like Wade can enhance or diminish the safety of victims by teaching balanced biblical truth, and rebutting distorted or sub-biblical doctrines. I believe Wade's recipe for responding to and dealing with suffering (inner pain) is not balance biblical truth.. And for him to propound it in such a formulaic way — saying it works for *any* marriage — makes it not only wrong, it makes it dangerous. Teaching like that is not just neutral; teaching like that actually diminishes the safety of victims abuse. That's why I believed so strongly that it had to be confronted.

Barbara Roberts said...

Also, Melody said: "I also appreciated the perspective here from one who has been married much longer than I. I am sad that we can't hear a personal perspective on marriage without being expected to relate it to the power imbalance of abuse dynamics. That, too, in my opinion, is counter-productive. "

I'm all for people in good marriages sharing their personal experiences. But I'm against such people assuming that what works for them will work for all others.

And I always feel both sad and angry when those people over-generalise their marital experiences. It's as if they think that the abused in our community do not exist. It's as if they don't think of us at all. It's like we (the abuse survivors) are simply hidden behind the plaster and whitewash and are of so little significance that our perspectives and perceptions do not have to be thought about at all.

So, yes I came out with a fair few guns blazing, but there are *so many* abuse victims hidden behind the plaster and whitewash crying — or in silent pain like Sly Jeff was when he was lying on his bed unable to move ....

Anonymous said...

Wow. This entire discussion thread is fascinating to me. I admire greatly the people who are speaking from a perspective of abuse (whether physical or emotional). I even agree with the suggested (although never directly stated) premise that those who are in abusive relationships will constitute a higher percentage of readership than those in "good" relationships. I think people in pain ARE looking for answers.
It is precisely for this reason why I am thankful that Wade didn't amend his original post. People looking for answers to ANY pain in their life, will only find that answer in Christ. Period. Whether that pain is from abuse suffered at the hands of another, the death of a loved one, a tragedy experienced, or something else.... Wade is addressing the ANSWER to that pain, not the palliative REMOVAL of it. The truth is that if a person does not find their identity and worth in Christ, there will always be a problem of irreconcilable pain.
Now here is where I would like to mention something I find important in all of this: whether you are one of Christ's redeemed or not, pain will persist in this world. In fact, some of the greatest pain I've seen happen, is in the lives of believers. No place within scripture, does the Lord even hint at a life free from pain. At least, not in this life.
The difference between believers (when they understand they belong to Christ), and others (and I think something contextually important to Wade's post) is that of God's sovereignty. When you can rest in knowing the Lord is in complete control of your life, painful or not, you are at peace. The Puritan's had a saying, that at any given moment in one's life, things "are as they should be."
I think the idea of the Lord's sovereignty is what people are struggling with most here. How can this..(insert whatever you are experiencing) possibly be within God's sovereignty? A big question that begins with the answer of Christ. After all, how many Christians go around quoting Romans 8:28, believing that all things work together for good, but rarely read the very next verse telling us WHY things work together for good: "...to be conformed to the image of His Son."
Like it or not, being conformed to Christ is painful.
So, to SLYJEFF - when you say this, "isn't about theology or ideas, it's about people.." That is a circular argument. If the people we are trying to love and serve don't understand what the Lord gives us in His word (theology and ideas) - what good is anything else? Bottom line, nothing and no one can solve the problem of pain except Christ.

-Hupomone

SlyJeff said...

I was not suggesting that "theology or ideas" aren't important, so I apologize if that is what my statement communicated. In fact, I was meaning to communicate exactly that opposite: that what is at stake when we discuss theology and ideas isn't a matter of someone winning and another person losing in an abstract sense, but that there are people at the other end of our very powerful tools that can be lifted up or harmed.

"I think the idea of the Lord's sovereignty is what people are struggling with most here." You have misunderstood what we are saying if you think this. No one is suggesting we are owed a life free of pain. Not one in suggesting that pain cannot make us better Christians. What we are saying is that other people can cause our pain, and it is appropriate to see those doing evil against us as the problem. This does not step on God's sovereign toes. He still rules and is still in control. He still will providentially use all things to work for our good.

And let me get personal (again) to make this clear. If I had the choice to go back and relive my former marriage without the pain (or avoid the marriage altogether), would I do it? I would not, because God has used that experience so powerfully in my life. I would not be the man I am today were it not for God's providential work in my life. But that does not mean that my ex-wife was not the source of my pain. That did not mean that accurately naming that and taking steps to deal with it was unimportant.

To be clear, the fear we have with Wade's post is that those who are suffering in abusive marriages will be in pain and looking for help. In the case of most victims, they will assume that they are the problem and hoping that if they can just work harder, pray better, and be a better Christian, that their marriages will become what everyone says they should be. What they need to be told is "your marriage is not OK, your spouses behavior toward you is not the way a healthy marriage works, and you need to take the steps that will secure your safety, physically, emotionally and in every way". But coming to this post, instead of that message they will, yet again, find it confirmed that THEY are the problem, and if they are feeling internal pain, it's because they have more work to do. That's the concern.

We believe that God is sovereign. We believed that God uses all things to the good of believers. We believe he uses our experiences (including painful ones) to conform us. But we also believe that the pain of abuse is external, and recognizing that is an important step in getting free from it. We believe God uses not only abuse, but the freedom from that abuse to conform us to the person of Christ.

Heather C. said...

Wade, I was looking at your sidebar titled Popular Posts and I remembered reading the one "We Face a Monstrous Evil--Terrorism in Oklahoma". Right at the beginning of that post you put in what you called "obligatory caveats". I understand why you did that. I'm hoping you can help me understand why you would put a caveat there and why you will not put one on this post. I have read all the comments and your reasoning but when I saw this old post with the caveats, I wondered again. I realize you can't do that for every post in case someone may feel offended, however abused victims are important and words that can trigger painful memories hurt as you can tell by the previous comments. Thanks for this discussion.

Wade Burleson said...

-Hupomone

"Wade is addressing the ANSWER to that pain, not the palliative REMOVAL of it."

Wish I was wise enough to have thought that sentence.

Wade Burleson said...

Melody,

Thanks for your comments. Your blog (and words) on many occasions have been an encouragement to me personally.

Wade Burleson said...

Heather C,

"Wade, I was looking at your sidebar titled Popular Posts and I remembered reading the one "We Face a Monstrous Evil--Terrorism in Oklahoma". Right at the beginning of that post you put in what you called "obligatory caveats". I understand why you did that. I'm hoping you can help me understand why you would put a caveat there and why you will not put one on this post."

Excellent point.

Here's why.

When I wrote this post, I had just finished a week of marriage training for business men and women who sold everything to enter the mission field. These couples were some of the most remarkable men and women my wife and I have ever met. In addition, I had JUST (30 minutes before), finished a counseling session with a couple on the verge of divorce (no physical abuse or sexual immorality) because "they just couldn't get along."

As I sat and typed, I wrote this post out in 30 minutes. I wasn't thinking about abuse. I wasn't think of immorality. I was only thinking about couples who get tired of one another, think the problem is the other, and dream of "greener pastures" on the other side of the fence. In my experience, people don't marry adulterers and abusers. Adulterers and abusers become adulterers and abusers because they are looking to their spouse for their inner contentment and happiness instead of Christ. I wasn't thinking about adulterers and abusers - I was thinking about otherwise normal couples who struggle with blaming the other person for their INNER pain - (not even considering PHYSICAL pain).

So I wrote a post, using a hyperbolic title (I admitted that), and it was only when some commented that the subject of abuse came up. I immediately acknowledged that this post was not designed for them, and YES, a caveat would have helped calm some fears in others - but I didn't change what I originally wrote because (as Hupomone eloquently stated), my intention was to address the ANSWER to pain, not the palliative REMOVAL of it." In other posts I've written that IF SOMEONE IS ABUSING YOU, HAVE THEM ARRESTED (that's palliative removal). This post was not designed for those folks. I trust they are smart enough to read the comments, but had I been thinking of them in the beginning I would have been given a caveat.

So...

When I wrote the other post you mention, I was thinking about my Muslim friend whom I had just left when I heard about the beheading. Am I at fault for not thinking about those abused in marriage when I wrote those post? Possibly so, and if you think my not giving a caveat is a sin, then I seek your forgiveness.

Then someone might ask, "But why don't you put an EDIT in and caveat the post through an EDIT?" Answer: Because I believe more will be learned by reading the comments than by a post-dated edit.

Thanks, again, Heather, for a very perceptive comment.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

SlyJeff,

You wrote:

"From everything I've understood from Wade, he really does believe that all internal pain a person experiences is their own fault, and that must include those in abusive situations. I haven't seen logic from him that suggests otherwise. I see that he advises people to leave abusive relationships, which is good, but I see nothing indicating he believes that it's right for a victim to blame her abuser for the pain.

And if that's the case, it seems to me the reason he doesn't want to change it is because, at the end of the day, he believes it. He may not believe that an abusive marriage is salvageable, but he also does not think that an abuser is the source of a victim's pain.

And Wade, if I'm out to lunch here, feel free to correct me. I mean no disrespect. I'm just calling it like I see it, and applying your theology the best that I can. I wish that you'd walk this back, but I understand you are not mine to control. My heart just breaks for those who may be injured, because at the end of they day, they are the ones who really matter in all this discussion. It isn't about theology or ideas, it's about people."


Again, a very, very perceptive comment.

Just one immediate correction of what you perceive I believe. You wrote: "He really does believe that all internal pain a person experiences is their own fault.". Nothing, SlyJeff, could be further from the truth. Here's why. THERE'S NO FAULT IN INNER PAIN. It's an emotion of sadness, depression, isolation, abandonment, etc... It's AMORAL. It's a feeling. What I'm saying is NOBODY ELSE IS THE SOURCE OR SOLUTION for the inner pain. It's not about fault, guilt or shame; it's about finding the cause (source) and the cure (solution).

I am saying that our INNER PAIN is part of just simply living. All of us have emotions. I'm saying that the solution for any INNER PAIN is being filled up to all fullness with the love of God in Christ (that's the solution).

Now, to the issue of PHYSICAL (outer) pain and SEXUAL IMMORALITY by a spouse.

Scripture makes an allowance for divorce for adultery (Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount), abandonment (I Corinthians 7 - and I place "physical abuse" as "abandonment" of the marriage), and death. Therefore, I never try to convince any person in those situations to "save the marriage."

However, there are some men and women that I know with the spirit of Hosea (our best friends are an example). They found out about "infidelity" and didn't leave, but rather, loved through the infidelity the way Christ loves us through our unfaithfulness. I know of a couple of women who have who stayed with their husbands after she reported physical abuse to the police. Her husband was jailed, she went to court, and upon the promise by her husband of going to counseling and never again to physically assault their wives, the marriages were restored. Those kinds of restorations are very, very rare.

I don't advocate them, but I am the one person who would never oppose them because if a woman ever says to me, "I can live without my husband, be happy without my husband, and go on in my life without my husband because I don't NEED my husband - all I need I have in Christ - BUT I am staying with my husband because I am CHOOSING to love him as Hosea loved Gomer" then who am I to stop that kind of thing?

BUT, and here's my caveat (smile), there's not "right or wrong" approach in these situations. There's no shame in divorce because of physical abuse or sexual immorality - the marriage has already ended in those situations. And there should be no shame if a person chooses to love and stay. Either way, the answer to one's INNER pain is Christ - regardless of the palliative removal of the source of physical pain.

That's my position.

SlyJeff said...

"If I had the choice to go back and relive my former marriage without the pain (or avoid the marriage altogether), would I do it? I would not"

Arg, I just realize I wrote the opposite of what I mean. I meant to say, I wouldn't change the past.

SlyJeff said...

Wade, here is where we do find common ground. I absolutely would never try to control a victim to make them leave a situation. I believe that God can and does call people to work in such ways. The issue I have is when PEOPLE demand that OTHER people suffer- "you must stay married to him, even though he is abusing you".

When I first considered divorce in my own situation, my father immediately told me "you must do this" and that hurt me too. It was a very weighty decision and I solicited many, many different views, but those who loved me the most gave me space.

I object slightly to invoking Hosea, though I know it's a typical understanding and usage. I view Hosea's story as being prophecy to reveal God's relationship to Israel, rather than a story of man redeeming his wife. That is, I don't see Hosea as the prime example of someone sticking with an abusive marriage, but rather someone who faithfully executed a radical plan of God's to provide a picture of who God is and who Israel was (and what redemption would look like). Either way, it's getting off in the weeds, since we both agree that it is absolutely within bounds for someone to suffer an abusive marriage in order to honor God.

Regarding your clarification about INNER PAIN, I think where we disagree is that I don't believe you can unlink the "inner" and the "outer". And when you try (like I did), you end up ignoring the inner pain and not realizing that something really is broken. And this is why I reject the notion that something like divorce is simply "palliative removal of the source of physical pain". I believe I understand why you think that way, I just don't believe you can separate pain like that. In fact, my experience directly informs me that you cannot. You cannot spend years experiencing external pain and not have that effect you on the inside.

Wade Burleson said...

SlyJeff,

"I think where we disagree is that I don't believe you can unlink the "inner" and the "outer"."

I agree with you. That is our area of disagreement. However, I'm listening to your views and learning from them. You are not "deficient" for not seeing it my way. You are not "wrong" for not seeing it my way. You see it simply differently than I do. Now, I believe my views are based on Scripture, and would only encourage you to be like the Bereans "and search the Scriptures for yourself" to see if what I'm saying is true.

I also never tell anybody what to do. I trust the Holy Spirit.

Thanks, SlyJeff, for some great dialogue.

Blessings to you. You will be rewarded in heaven with the same rewards that I will receive. We are co-heirs with Christ. He earned the rewards for us.

Amen.

SlyJeff said...

I'm am definitely down for searching the scripture. :)

To that end, what scriptures drive the idea that we have "inner" and "outer" portions to us, and that the "outer" does not affect the "inner"?

Do yo believe that when the Psalm writers petitioned God for physical remedy, that they were neglecting addressing their inner peace by focusing on the external? By this, I mean it seems the example in scripture (and I assume a positive one) is that we can petition God to change our circumstances. He may not always do it. In his sovereignty he may providentially allow things to happen to us so that he may shape us, but this does not suggest that the external does not affect the internal; rather the opposite. It suggests that sometimes God uses the external to shape what is internal precisely because it does affect us.

When Jesus sought solitude, was he only pursuing an external rest, or was he seeking a rest that included his inner self that was affected by the external circumstance? It seems to me Jesus himself saw a connection between what was external and what was internal, and would seek to change his external circumstances in order to address his internal well being. Again, this was not always possible or profitable, but that does not suggest there is no link, but once more that God may use the link in ways more mysterious than is apparent to is.

Note, we agree that external factors do not influence the state of our soul, which is solely the domain of Christ and his redeeming work on the cross.

Wade Burleson said...

"I have learned in whatever circumstances I am in to be content" Phil. 4:11.

The same word translated contentment in this text is the word Jesus used in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, "Blessed (content) are those who are persecuted for My sake."

It's the same word Paul uses when he writes, "I am not sufficient (content) in anything of myself; my sufficiency (contentment) comes from God."

It's the idea of discovering your worth, contentment, and inner happiness from the grace of God and NOT your surroundings (people or circumstances) for "I am who I am by the grace of God."

Valerie said...

If someone is kidnapped and locked in a closet for 10 years, would you say that it would be immoral for that person to sue for any compensation for any emotional pain and suffering since any internal pain and suffering they experienced during the confinement could not possibly have been caused by the kidnapping or confinement?

Would you say that if the kidnapper sees his sin, genuinely repents, voluntarily releases his victim, and offers to make restitution this could not be in any sense a comfort to the victim in her daily internal suffering?

When Zacchaeus repented, would you say that his actions were only valuable in monetary terms and could not have been a comfort relief to his victims in their hearts?

Would you say that the unjust servant who took his fellow servant by the throat would have done no harm provided that there were no bruises, and he had not thrown his victim in jail?

Have you never reasoned with a child who uses cruel language toward another child, explaining that this hurts people? Would you never contemplate reasoning with a railer, child or adult, in that way?

Would you say that the psychological torture of POW's and imprisoned Christians in communist lands is not the cause of the psychological effects that commonly follow it?

Would you say that a neglected child who is never loved, cared for, or spoken to, but only verbally mistreated, who comes to adulthood unable to function well emotionally is not a victim of her parents provided that they never laid a hand on her?

Would you say that expressions of faithful love have no value and confer no benefit to a loved one, if their absence or opposite produces no real loss?

According to the 9th commandment, a truthful answer is precious. Where in the Bible do you find God teaching us that humans cannot possibly cause emotional harm or emotional pain to others? If this is indeed the teaching of the Bible, where do you find it?

Victorious said...

I am saying that our INNER PAIN is part of just simply living. All of us have emotions. I'm saying that the solution for any INNER PAIN is being filled up to all fullness with the love of God in Christ (that's the solution).

Wade, the missing element or principle in that statement is TIME. I believe that element was missing previously in another one of your posts as well. The inner pain doesn't instantly disappear or isn't instantly replaced with the fullness of the love of God in Christ (the solution). Inner healing of sorrow and pain takes time and that differs for each individual depending on the nature and time the abuse was endured.

I'm reminded of this woman from an earlier post and the counsel she received when conveying the abuse by her husband. She said:

I looked to my church for help, but found only encouragement to stay. I was told that if God was my true source of happiness, then the adultery wouldn't hurt me. Again, it seemed that I was being asked to be a joyful victim, and I failed there as well.

From this post:

http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/06/one-walking-in-grace-out-of-marital.html

She said that the healing and recovery was a long, hard, uphill battle. That's the time element that seems to me to be missing in this post.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

You write:

"Where in the Bible do you find God teaching us that humans cannot possibly cause emotional harm or emotional pain to others? If this is indeed the teaching of the Bible, where do you find it?"

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself in" (Philippians 4:11).

This does not mean that "pain" is not present in difficult circumstances. What it means is there is the possibility of "unlocking the secret" (that's the literal meaning of the word translated "learned") of how to be "happy" or "blessed" or "content" regardless of your surroundings or circumstances.

That's where I get it.

It doesn't mean that circumstances AREN'T PAINFUL - cancer is emotionally painful; tragic accidents are emotionally painful; one's enemies can do things that cause emotional pain. What it means is you can learn to be content inwardly - at peace on the inside - REGARDLESS of your circumstances.

That's not my opinion. It's Scripture.

Valerie said...

ESV--
"No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

OR--
"No human being can tame the tongue, but at least it cannot cause any harm."


Wade Burleson said...

Victorious,

You write: "Wade, the missing element or principle in that statement is TIME"

Agreed. Nobody's in "sin" or "guilt" or "shame" because they have inward emotional pain. It's just an emotion.

But because TIME is needed for healing, the person says,

"Listen, honey, I love you, I need you to be patient with me. You are neither the source nor the solution for my inner turmoil or pain. I'm learning to be satisfied and content with who I am by God's grace. If you will be patient with me as I "learn" my identity in Christ."

OR ONE MIGHT SAY THIS:

"Listen, honey, you might get angry with me, verbally abusive with me, or even (God forbid) physically abusive with me - but let me tell you something that you need to hear! I am neither the source of nor the solution for your inner pain. I realize you are trying to make ME the issue for you. I will not accept responsibility for your emotional turmoil. And, further more, if you continue down the path you are on in attempting to make me your problem - and trying to control me through force - you will lose me, because I was never designed by God to be your Source (and if you ever hit me again, I'll call 911)."

Valerie said...

>>one's enemies can do things that cause emotional pain<<

Okay, this is what I am missing when you say that another person cannot cause emotional pain, suffering, or turmoil in another person.

How do you reconcile they "can do things that cause emotional pain" and they can't be the source of emotional pain in us? Because obviously our enemies *can* cause us emotional pain and suffering.

And, obviously we can hope in God in that suffering, and be content in his providence even in grief. It's not that it is not caused, it's not that it isn't real. It's that in it, he is there and he is ministering to us peace, and holding our hearts.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

You write, ""No human being can tame the tongue, but at least it cannot cause any harm."

That's correct. No human can.

"But with God, nothing is impossible" (Matthew 19:36).

Valerie said...

If you were to say that in any kind of emotional pain, the Triune God comforts and keeps us and is able to cause us to find rest and contentment in his providence (even his providence of a process that provides escape where needed) would anyone (here) oppose you?

When the jailers torment, the internal pain is caused by the torment, but when the Lord comforts us it is a real and precious comfort that makes us grateful for his care and makes us hope in him?

Valerie said...

The point is, the tongue is poisonous and harmful--or it cannot cause pain and is harmless. What does the Bible teach?

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

You write,

"How do you reconcile they "can do things that cause emotional pain" and they can't be the source of emotional pain in us? Because obviously our enemies *can* cause us emotional pain and suffering."

If a person is looking to the person who is doing things as their SOURCE of happiness, then yes, that person can cause you pain. But a human being was never designed to be your SOURCE of life (e.g. "inner happiness or contentment"). Therefore, if a person is full of an understanding of "the love of God" (see Ephesians 3), then the actions of another person may cause PHYSICAL pain, but the person in pain--the extreme example is a Christian being burned at the stake--is at PEACE (eg HOPE) with his SOURCE (God), is full of the LOVE of his SOURCE (God), and therefore via his (or her) FAITH in his/her SOURCE (God) is at peace REGARDLESS OF HIS/HER CIRCUMSTANCES.

But, since none of us have arrived at being completely filled with "all the fullness of God" by grasping and knowing the immeasurable and unconditional love of God, the journey we are on (eg TIME) demands patience of us all for ourselves and for others as we unlock the secret of being content in the grace of God in Christ Jesus and nothing else.

"These three things abide - FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE - but the greatest of these is LOVE"




Wade Burleson said...

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God causes all things to work together (eg the Greek word is "symphony") for our good."

He's the Conductor in the orchestra of life, with moments of notes in minor keys and moments of notes in major keys, but all notes work out into a grand musical He has designed call Life.

Wade Burleson said...

BTW - Romans 8:28 is only a promise to those "in Christ."

All things don't work for good to those who are not in Christ.

Valerie said...

None of the verses you are posting teach that humans only feel pain at the behavior of other humans if they have made those humans the source of their happiness.

Did Jesus ever feel pain at the behavior of other humans?

Valerie said...

This is a very thinly veiled form of the prosperity Gospel.

If you have the right kind of faith, and believe the right things you will not feel pain within you. It is only if you have faith in the wrong things, and believe the wrong things [consider another person the source of your happiness] that you can feel pain within you.

It says the same thing to a rape victim that people say to a cancer victim: Not enough faith.

Equivocation never makes a good argument.

Wade Burleson said...

Valerie,

Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

If you wish to imply that it is wrong or sinful to say that knowing and believing the truth brings freedom from things that keep you in bondage, including paralyzing fear, regret, shame, guilt, and other amoral emotions that negatively affect one's inner health, then your argument is with Jesus, not me.

I've enjoyed the discussion. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Valerie, your assertion that some of these ideas are "a very thinly veiled form of the prosperity Gospel" is simply not true. I don't think Wade ever suggested that pain is caused by lack of faith or, as you specifically said, "If you have the right kind of faith, and believe the right things you will not feel pain within you." If anything, it seems that the exact opposite is true. BECAUSE we feel pain and will struggle in this life, it points to our need for Christ. Not to deliver us FROM it, but to be with us THROUGH it.

Moments like this make me appreciate those who are much wiser than I am. Throughout my personal journey of pain and tragedy, I have found three (among MANY others) books pivotal in my life: The Crook in the Lot, by Thomas Boston, Counterfeit Idols by Timothy Keller and Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian.

Here are some ideas to consider:
"In the book of Romans, Saint Paul wrote that one of the worst things God can do to someone is 'give them over to the desires of their hearts.' (Romans 1:24) Why would the greatest punishment imaginable be to allow someone to achieve their fondest dream? It is because our hearts fashion these desires into idols. In the same chapter, Paul summarized the history of the human race in one sentence, 'They worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.' (Romans 1:25) Every human being must live for something... But the Bible tells us, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself. If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope and happiness, that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts." (excerpt from: Counterfeit Idols by Keller)
Building on this idea, Tchividjian (who is no stranger to pain and suffering)states, "Whenever what we've depended on for meaning - and it's usually one of God's good gifts - is stripped away, our first reaction tends to be one of anger, self-pity, blame and entitlement. But idolatry feeds on itself, robbing us of joy until we have no other choice but to cry out for God."

And, in case it needs repeating, believers in Christ will CONTINUE to have pain and suffering in this world. Crying out to God is not a panacea for pain experienced. It is, as Wade spoke of Paul, a contentment not dependent on anything other than Christ.

-Hupomone

Anonymous said...

The book by Timothy Keller is Counterfeit gods. (Not counterfeit idols.) Sorry for that mistake!

SlyJeff said...

Wade, I'm not following how you get from the concept of contentment and sufficiency to a separation between "inner" and "outer" to the point which the latter cannot affect the former. And to be fair to us both, I don't really know that there is a clear definition of "inner" and "outer" anyway.

I would contend that someone can be self-satisfied in who they are while still experiencing pain and being harmed. The purpose of this sufficiency appears, at least from Paul's perspective, not to be about reduction of injury, but rather ability to do God's work as he says a few verses later: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength". He does not imply he lives his life uninjured by others.

Pain is a part of this life, and it's a pretty important part. A person unable to feel physical pain would be someone in a lot of trouble- there's no telling what damage he or she might do without knowing there's even a problem. So to in relationships, we don't want to avoid emotional pain- we want to use it to understand what may be harming us. Assuming that no external force can cause pain means we might accept a lot of damage because we don't even realize it's happening.

If I assess your statements correctly, you believe contentment means not feeling pain (at least, not pain you have termed "inner") by what others do, and not being damaged on the "inner" part of us. This would not be my first thought about contentment. I am quite content. In fact, I have trouble with "bucket lists" because I really just am a place where I am excited to be as I am, and looking forward to whatever God brings me. The things I "want" are so trivial as to be easily discarded when they prove to be out of reach. Yet I definitely experience pain and I am not impervious to damage.

The Bible has all kinds of things to say about how we treat one another. The implication is clear: we can lift up and we can harm each other. We are not meant to be unaffected in the community of believers. If a relationship with God was all that was needed to reduce harm inflicted by others to 0, why would loving one another be the second highest commandment? Why would it be the fulfillment of the law?

To get back to your original article, the issue I have with it is that when we feel pain, rather than assessing that pain for what it is and what it may tell us, you point the person to ignore the relational aspects and think only vertically. But the Bible has much to say on horizontal relationships. If a husband and wife continually ignore pain they receive from one another, eventually real problems can blow up much bigger than if they'd just maturely worked as a team to resolve them (which is different than the "you" statements you give as an example of how people handle it wrongly).

The latter is the pattern I see in the Bible. It isn't "be content and don't let others bring you down", nor is it "blame others and fix their behavior to make you happy". It's "love one another, treat one another respect, hold one another accountable, and work together toward peace".

Wade Burleson said...

SlyJeff,

You write, "I would contend that someone can be self-satisfied in who they are while still experiencing pain and being harmed.

Physical pain is outer pain. It's caused by someone harming you physically. Slander, betrayal, hateful speech, rejection, etc... does not cause "physical" pain, but in your mind it causes inner emotional pain.

I don't disagree.

HOWEVER, my point is that understanding there is a God who loves you, has come and died for you, and because of His death, shall "freely give you all things" that you need, and shall "make all things work for your good" gives you "soul contentment" even when people or circumstances cause physical or emotional pain by their actions. Let me give you an illustration.

A father is in the waiting room while his wife gives birth to their son. The doctor comes out after delivery and says, "Sir, your boy has been delivered, but there's a problem. He has a deformed foot."

"Really," says the dad. "Can you do something about it?"

"Yes," says the doctor, "we can operate on it in a few weeks, but will not want it."

"What?" says the father, "What do you mean 'I'll not want you to operate?' I don't care what it costs, operate on my boy's foot!"

The doctor says, "Dad, listen to me. It's not about money. You'll not want us to operate because every morning and evening until your boy's foot fully forms at the age of 18, you will have to take a coke bottle, wrap it in tape, and roll your boys foot-back and forth-30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening."

The father stares hard at the doctor and then says, "Listen doc, I don't care if I have to rehabilitate my boy's foot, morning and evening, for DECADES until I die, OPERATE ON MY BOY'S FOOT!"

"No sir," says the doc, "you still don't understand. I know you'll do what's needed as long as it's needed. That's not the problem. Here's why you will not want us to operate. As long as you roll your boy's foot on that taped coke bottle, your boy will be hollering and screaming at you saying, "Daddy, don't! Please don't! This hurts! Stop, daddy, please stop!"

The father was silent. He understood.

But then the doctor stared at the father and said this, "If you want us to operate, you must remember this one thing. Though you may be hurting your boy as you roll his foot back and forth, you are not harming your son, you are only ultimately doing what is good for your son. Until you know this truth, you'll not be ready for us to operate on your boy."

The father finally understood. He asked the doctor to operate, but as he rehabilitated his son's foot for the next 18 years, he heard the screams, he knew his son believed he was causing him pain, but he had soul contentment that something good was coming through the pain.

That, SlyJeff, is the truth I'm trying to articulate. God is your Father. We are His kids. There may be things in life that we endure that ARE painful - but He is so loving, so kind, so powerful, so good, so merciful, so tender, so gracious - that He will work all things for our good - even those things that SEEM to be so extraordinarily painful (circumstances or people) that we can't yet see the ultimate good.

That, sir, is the truth that sets free.

And that's how I believe one can be content in the soul regardless of one's circumstances.

Wade Burleson said...

In other words, SlyJeff, we are saying the same thing.

I'm trying to help people FOCUS on God's grace and the ultimate good He produces instead of FOCUSING on the external pain (and sometimes emotional pain) circumstances or people cause which will only produce despair.

It's a matter of trusting the Father.

The boy with the deformed foot, without trust in his father, would despair. He would believe his father is intentionally harming him and giving him pain for no good.

But if the boy could discover and lean on the truth that his father is only and always good, and only and always wise and powerful, then he would - as both you and I say - find contentment in his soul and "endure the cross (pain)" for the "joy set before him."

Wade Burleson said...

So, SlyJeff, I must end our enjoyable dialogue in this thread with these words.

When I say to my wife, "You are neither the source or the solution for the trouble or pain WITHIN me" I am acknowledging that I trust my good Father, who is wise and gracious, and works all things - including tragic circumstances and unlovely people - for my good and His glory. Therefore, I can "find soul satisfaction and happiness regardless of my circumstances," and whatever I do, I do for the good of others, because I'm sufficient in who I am in Christ.

Have a great 4th, SlyJeff.

Wade Burleson said...

Oops, I just saw something you wrote SlyJeff

"We are to... hold one another accountable."

That requires "authority."

I find "holding another accountable" in most religious settings to be "you'll do what we say or we'll reject you."

I despise "holding one another accountable."

God is the ultimate authority. He is sufficient, for "He who began a good work IN YOU, WILL CARRY IT ON TO COMPLETION."

SlyJeff said...

Regarding accountability- I don't mean it the way you think I mean. And so I probably ought not have used common terminology.. I actually take a stand pretty hard on not joining "accountability groups", which has gotten me in hot water before. Rather than diverge into that particular topic (if how I think Christian relationships price profitable accountability), I tink we can safely ignore that statement for the moment :)

As for the other comments, indeed it is a holiday weekend and it may be some time before I'm able to get back to you.

Valerie said...

Anonymous, I think you haven't been reading where Wade has repeatedly insisted that unless you are (sinfully) looking to other people as the source of your joy (rather than to Christ) it is actually impossible for them and their rapes, kidnappings, assaults, abuses, and murders to cause you to feel any pain or turmoil in the inside.

MY view is that God comforts us IN it and helps us THROUGH it.

HIS view is that having the right kind of faith and believing the right kind of things makes you IMMUNE to any internal pain and suffering, that it's actually impossible for other people to cause pain "within you" ever, at all, in the first place, no matter what they do to you.

This is a false doctrine, for even God Himself is grieved on the inside at times, due to the behaviors of other people, both in the immanent trinity, and in Christ as the God-man. The Psalms are full of the expression of this kind of pain, the Bible never anywhere teaches this theory, and none of the Bible verses that he's posted support it. I don't know about the rest of his teaching, but this is obviously NOT what the Bible teaches.

Valerie said...

Wade Burleson, you said,
"...one's enemies can do things that cause emotional pain...."

and you said,
"...even when people or circumstances cause physical or emotional pain by their actions..."

and yet you want everyone to confess to anyone who causes pain for them, even if they don't believe these words are true,
"You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."
- - - - - -

If you admit that sometimes evil people "cause us emotional pain", why do you oppose anyone who says, "My spouse caused me pain"? Why did you insist (in your very first comment) that the "magic words" (as you called them) DO APPLY to an victim of criminal assault, who should go into the jail, confront her attacker face-to-face, and say, "You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

That is one of the few comments a future visitor will see. Early on, you thought that this positive confession was for a victim still enduring physical and emotional pain from a terrifying assault, someone who should not be confronting her attacker face-to-face, someone anticipating the intimidating and painful process of investigation, prosecution, and criminal trial. You thought that was good counsel and you thought she should say it (5th paragraph in the OP) whether she believed it and considered it truthful, or not. With your experience, how do you not know better than this?

Why do you insist that the Bible does not permit "a believer in Christ to blame their inner pain or hurt on circumstances or someone else", when that would be (see your two quoted statements above) nothing but the modest truth in some cases? God knows it, and he is not surprised when we cry out to him in the words of the 41st Psalm. You are trying to apply your method both to cases where it is true and could be helpful, and to cases where it is a lie and could only cause harm.

What is Matthew 18:15-17 for, if should never approach someone who has harmed us in a non-physical way as Jesus commanded: "Go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone." Jesus commands one course, but you advise its opposite: "You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me."

You said, "It's about finding the cause (source) and the cure (solution)". That's true, and that means being brutally honest (not like your 5th paragraph in the OP) about what has happened. My family will soon be going into a courtroom to tell *the truth*, and we will not read out your "magic words". Lord willing, I will speak at sentencing, and I will not say your "magic words". We go to counseling and do not deny or pretend away the effects of some very serious evil, and yet we hope in God our Savior, we are content with his providence, and we actually do rejoice in His comfort. IN OUR PAIN, and THROUGH OUR PAIN, he has been nothing but exceedingly good to us.

Valerie said...

NOW THIS is beautiful and biblical--
"That, SlyJeff, is the truth I'm trying to articulate. God is your Father. We are His kids. There may be things in life that we endure that ARE painful - but He is so loving, so kind, so powerful, so good, so merciful, so tender, so gracious - that He will work all things for our good - even those things that SEEM to be so extraordinarily painful (circumstances or people) that we can't yet see the ultimate good."

Except that the word "SEEM" should be "ARE" in some cases (see Luke 22:39-46), this is wonderful, and true. Who would even dispute it? And it is the very truth that has comforted me in extremely grave suffering. If you would stick with what the Bible says and not alternate between claiming that other people are never the source of any emotional pain for us, and admitting that sometimes they are the source of emotional pain to us (even if we are trusting God to accomplish his good purposes through the evil), I don't see where anyone would disagree with you. Godly people are pushing back at you where you are *wrong*, not where you are *right*. And it's a significant and grievous problem that you know this post will hurt people and yet your refuse to alter it for their sake.

Wade Burleson said...

The key word, Valerie, is "within."

I'm saying the same thing Valerie in the paragraph you call beautiful and the sentences to which you object. I completely get that your understanding of what I'm saying is not complete, but I'm consistent.

ULTIMATELY, no person or circumstances is the cause or cure for your INNER pain.

A lack of being filled up with all the fullness of God by comprehending the unknowable, eternal, and unconditional love of God for you personally is the ULTIMATE cause and cure for my INNER pain.

It doesn't mean God loves me any less for this lack of comprehension - or any more for a greater comprehension of His love - it just means I'm in INNER pain because I haven't yet "solved the mystery" of being satisfied in life with the grace and love of God for me in Jesus Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Finally, Valerie, you write...

"HIS view (Wade Burleson's) is that having the right kind of faith and believing the right kind of things makes you IMMUNE to any internal pain and suffering, that it's actually impossible for other people to cause pain "within you" ever, at all, in the first place, no matter what they do to you."

That's not correct.

I understand that's YOUR VIEW of my view, but you are misunderstanding my view. I freely admit it may be my poor ability to communicate and not anything to do with your reading or comprehension.

I believe that all of us do not perfectly know the love of God, so ALL OF US (including me, will never be immune to inner pain) - but just because we can't fully grasp the TRUTH doesn't mean we can't grow in our understanding of it. So, similar to your view, the grace of God helps us through our pain - but until we stop blaming other people for what we feel, we'll never be in control of what we feel.

Blessings

Gordon said...

I see pain, suffering and death as a natural lot of all mankind . It is part and parcel of the human condition (Job 5:7).

God permits it to occur in our lives for purposes of promoting and testing our sincerity, our trust in Him and our love ( Heb 12:6).

God will not allow us to be tested above our capabilities (1 Cor 10;13). We will find His grace is stepped up to be sufficient to manage every situation we may encounter (2 Cor 12:9).

Don't let us then waste our pain and suffering when it befalls us. It can be used to advantages such as character building, service, rewards and treasures in Heaven (Rom 5:4)

Rex Ray said...

Gordon,
You said, “I see pain, suffering and death as a natural lot of all mankind.” (Job 5:7) [“People are born for trouble.” NLT)

Wade’s post and last comment was about emotional pain.

I relate to your comment on physical pain as I’m waiting for a pain pill to work. I feel like the woman in Mark 5:25. We both have a blood problem…mine is lack of circulation causing a wound not to heal.

I relate to verse 26: “She had suffered a great deal from many doctors…she had gotten worse.” One doctor should not have stopped my blood flow of all surface veins.

I don’t agree with Hebrews 12:6 or Romans 5:4. Eleven in our church are going to a town about 50 miles from Acapulco, Mexico. How will it affect my help with 100 kids in vacation bible school and work on the church building?

On another subject these two links are self explanatory.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/stop-saying-islam-religion-peace-143200315.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/dhaka-attack-why-denouncing-terrorists-023000565.html

"Dhaka attack: Why denouncing the terrorists as being untrue to Islam is completely ineffectual."

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara,

Just passing through here, but Wade addressed this in a similar comment above yours.

He stated the emphasis is on the word, "within." The inner struggle and pain, not the outward, physical and psychological pain. Of course the abuser is causing pain, but the inner turmoil CAN be addressed by the individual. Just check out the comments above and he explains a bit better.

Thank you for your activism and passion for women in these kinds of impossible situations.

Joe Pote said...

Wade,

For future reference...some definitions of terms might be helpful.

In reading the comments, it seems likely what you mean by the terms 'inner pain' and 'external pain' is not the same as what I mean when I use the same terms...though I'm not certain of that.

Your stated position would make more sense to me if your definition of 'inner pain' has more to do with the state of one's soul than with emotional distress.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

Great point.

Thank you.

In my opinion, that's where dialogue is often helpful. The great statesmen of the past understood the importance of dialogue and the need to avoid diatribe.

Christiane said...

after much thought,
the only way I can see the fifteen words as meaningful would be IF we could acknowledge that the person we love had hurt us,

but in the end, we might some day be able to experience our love for this person as if we were looking at them from a far way off, an eternal perspective, which is not really possible in our human ways,
EXCEPT for when a loved one passes away, and in grief, we realize that the person we loved was ever more to us than the one we had defined by their ability to wound us.