Check this out

I so rarely repost what others have written, but this is something I have to pass on.  I don’t know Gary Thomas and I don’t know if I would agree with him on anything else, but I do agree with this post.  And I want you to read it…

EDIT: Please note that I do not agree with or endorse all that Gary Thomas has written.  According to some, this post is out of sync with his book, which has been a tool for keeping women in abusive marriages.  I have not read the book, but I trust the comments here.  So please be aware that I am encouraging you to read this post only.  If that is a problem, I will simply delete this link.



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46 responses to “Check this out

  1. Yes, yes, yes!! Thanks for sharing this!!

  2. narcfree

    Yes, thank you for sharing!

  3. jeanne j

    Oh my! This is really good and helps with that struggle of how God views divorce. I am separated right now, with no desire to get back together after 38 years of narcissistic abuse, which I only recently realized. I feel free and happy, and sometimes guilty that I am so filled with joy.

  4. noel6119

    Can’t get it to come up.

  5. Rose V

    Wow did I read some of my own story in the comments women said to him. Overly-empathetic me excused some of his occasional, and it was occasional,behavior because I knew his father was mentally ill and his mother was an emotional iceberg. Then when I tried to get counselors to see the issues, a psychologist and a psychiatrist tole me “He’s just a man who knows what he wants” and “If he can be happy with the woman he’s having an affair with, then there’s nothing wrong with him. You just need marriage counseling.” Good grief, did they get their degrees out of a Cheerios box? The ones who could have helped turned deaf ears to all I told them. I didn’t learn about NPD and RAD till two years after it was all over, and then from a woman in my Bible study! No wonder God has spoken words through others to me about “Injustice”!

  6. Jen

    Thank You! Thank you! Thank you for sharing!!! I’m attending a university pursuing a masters degree in social work. I just finished an action project which was educating a church staff in my area on domestic violence/abuse. Not to my surprise out of three churches I asked to present to only one accepted. My passion is to educate the “church” on abuse. This blog from Gary Thomas will help with a paper I’m working on. Thank you again for sharing! I love your Friday posts and have shared with many of others. Blessings 🙂

  7. Rachel Kingsley

    Just brilliant. Very healing to read this. I too read my story within the stories of these women. We need to heed this message and act on it. God Bless all x

  8. Looks like Gary’s site is back up. This may also be a great time to plug my review of Barbara Robert’s book, “Not Under Bondage.” An important resource for the church!

  9. Elle Meyer

    Thank you so much for posting this and for being one who isnt afraid to speak the TRUTH.

    Elly Meyer Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.

    I have forwarded this to my pastor who my husband had convinced that I was abusing him and my children

  10. Gratefully Yours

    Marriage shouldn’t be an institution that preserves abuse, nor a sanctuary or safe haven for haters, those people who repeatedly and unabashedly exhibit evil, hurting others with no remorse nor effort to repent, restore and reconcile. This thought has been absent from the church for too long.

    Thank you, Dave, for sharing this vital message. It helps our hearts giving us clear direction to stand for healthiness and holiness in all our relationships.

  11. Jenny

    Incredible timing, thank you. It’s not time for me to post my situation but I asked God for clarity about my situation. I had a dream last night and asked God to confirm the interpretation to me today. I believe he had done that through this article. Thank you.

  12. Toby

    Barbara Roberts also refers to the ‘problem’ of translation for the infamous Malachi 2:16 in one of her blogs and explains how some translations have corrected the harm done by the phrase ‘The LORD says “I hate divorce…”‘ See:

  13. ellie2013

    I agree with this article but not necessarily the consistent use of the term “woman”. One reference to the fact that men could possibly be the victim of a evil female. And that seems to be where a lot of abuse within churches stem from. It’s very possible and probable and almost guaranteed that there are thousands of so called Christian women clinging to the church the bible and christianity itself to force and mold the sinner man into continuing to pay her bills not work and be her servant in all ways while she leads a slovenly life. While she purports to pray for HIM all day and night. Since divorce is so hated by God. Articles like this should not be gender biased. They do more harm than good in the hands of women thst want to subjugate the man in their life to chief slave bottle washer and free ride for life.

    Btw. I am an abuse survivor. And female. And christian. And divorced. I will answer to God as equally for my sins as any man out there. No one owes me anything. Certainly not a man just by virtue of his gender. God doesn’t play like that. Look to yourself and your own behavior before casting the first stone.

  14. Irene

    Remember Gary Thomas? He was the guy who wrote Sacred Marriage saying that God doesn’t care if you are happy; he wants to use your marriage to make you holy. He also had a book for women called Sacred Influence. I never did figure out how being beaten down made me holy or gave me influence though.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. I stayed in an abusive marriage because of his teachings. That jerk doesn’t get any brownie points from my for just now realizing what he’s caused.

      • Thanks, Elizabeth Lee! Fascinating how this post could come from that author. Maybe he is seeing the light? I would hope, but I would also be very cautious. I appreciate your comment.

    • Thank you, Irene, for pointing this out. This is why we need a community of support! I have put a caveat on my post and link, but if that is not enough, I will delete the whole thing. After all the progress, I certainly do not want to be recommending an author who puts people back under bondage.

      • I think a lot of Christian authors write their books with the “normal” issues of marriage in mind – the ups and downs of money issues, careers, different styles in communications and parenting approaches, the ebbs and flows of a normal relationship. I have come to realize that when they encourage women to “stick it out” during difficult times, which come to every marriage, they are referring to normal marriages, not abusive marriages. I have bookshelves full of Christian books on how to have a successful marriage. I now realize that ALL of them are inapplicable to abusive marriages. I have attended church and gone to women’s conferences and marriage conferences for years in which they encourage couples to stay together and work it out. I now realize that ALL of them are inapplicable to abusive marriages. However, I don’t really think that the pastor/author/speaker have abusive relationships in mind when they say those things. Nor do I think that they realize that women in abusive marriages take their message to heart, not realizing that abusive situations are unique and the normal rules don’t apply. I haven’t read his other books, but perhaps he is clarifying that abuse is a situation far outside the norm and far outside God’s will for people. Let us hope that is the case.

      • Gratefully Yours

        “Good grief”! (Ha, ha: Ties in with “God doesn’t care if you are happy; he wants to use your marriage to make you holy…”) My husband and I thought we were thriving reading “Sacred Marriage” together on our first Anniversary! So enthralled we bought a copy for our Pastor! Nearly two decades later, duh, “red flag” finding solace in something that redeems repeated pain, leaving someone off the hook for his behavior! We must have enjoyed the book for entirely different reasons! And now it makes sense why a narcissist loved that book and dissed other marriage books and counseling…

        I do think, to God’s credit and glory, like the guy who wrote “I Kissed Dating Good-bye” (though after life with a narcissist I’m may be more inclined to agree with the Good-bye author!), I think God may be speaking to these leaders, exposing them to the truth and they are boldly and humbly sharing their change of heart. That is a very strong testimony of God’s ability to change the direction of a life seeking after God’s own heart. Hmmm, where have we seen this before, maybe the Bible? I thank God for His grace and the ability to flip-flop for His glory. May His truth keep marching on in our lives and the lives of our leaders. I detect a revival on the way!

        Thank you, Dave, for sharing that article. It inspired me to take a stronger stance against bad behavior in others as well as myself.

      • MeganC

        My ex husband used Gary’s book to keep me in bondage, constantly citing that marriage is for my holiness and not my happiness. A few years back, I pointed this out to Gary and he apologized. I believe he felt sick over it. I am not sure that he could have imagined, back then, that abusers would take his theory and beat people over the head with it. I also don’t think he could have imagined what living in an abusive marriage could be like. He read my book, “Give Her Wings; Help and Healing After Abuse” and endorsed it (his writing is on the back cover). He then published a blog post about it on his website and encouraged women to buy it. That was a few years ago. His most recent blog post just blew my mind. I believe it was courageous, considering his background and his position (livelihood) at his church. I am excited that Christian leaders are beginning to speak out!

      • Thanks so much, Megan! There is a special burden on those who write. Their work may continue past the changes God brings to their hearts. I am happy to hear of the changes God has brought to Gary.

      • New Creature

        I am reading Sacred Marriage now and I don’t think the author would want people to remain under bondage. His point is to call people to a higher standard of honoring each other. He is transparent about his early marriage years where he over estimated what he contributed to the marriage while under valuing his wife. Like any marriage book, it most benefits couples where both love the Lord and are seeking to love each other in a godly way. He encourages readers to focus less on getting your spouse to complete you and to focus more on asking the Lord what He is teaching you about growing closer to Him through the normal trials of marriage. I don’t believe he is advocating for abuse victims to remain in abuse. Like another commenter pointed out, any marriage book can become a tool for an abuser to control. And, I want to add, an opportunity for victims to feel undeserved guilt…I agree that marriage books are not for abusers or victims. Its easy for me to say all this since I have a wonderful husband who loves me (my N is my MIL not my husband). The N MIL adds a lot of pressure to our marriage, but that is very different than being married to it. My point is not to advocate for the book, it is just not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      • MeganC

        Absolutely! I am so grateful to the people, in my life, who have “allowed” me to grow and change. I think it shows humility that Gary is allowing God to open his eyes and is even going public with it! 🙂

  15. My favorite line: “All divorce is a result of sin, but not all divorce is sinful.” It’s about time someone recognized this!

  16. Laura

    I felt like this author war having a new revelation of the abuse that is out there. I hope his eyes are opened. Hopefully he repents too. I’m waiting to see the same of Josh Harris.

  17. Gratefully Yours

    Excellent truth, Charlene. My counselor had me stop reading marriage improvement books as they didn’t apply. She learned much from Leslie Vernick who wrote “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” and “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship”.

  18. Leslie Vernick’s books are excellent. I share with many women escaping abusive relationships. There are a number of books that deal with Narcissistic and Sociopathic relationships. Those are the books women in abusive marriage need to be reading. Marriage improvement books are not for abusive relationships. Unfortunately, it takes many of us quite a bit of time to get there and understand what we are dealing with.

  19. Cat

    I clicked on the “Domestic violence” tag on the side and there are 2 other (briefer) articles on this subject. I think what’s discussed above (lumping abusive relationships in with normal relationships) is an issue that plagues a lot of relationship books, not just Christian ones, as well as post-divorce co-parenting ones. I skimmed through a book on co-parenting that made me want to vomit recently. A lot of relationship “gurus” have no clue about abusive relationships.

    Apropos the women Gary described, I was both of them. My ex-husband used to kick me out of the car on the side of the road if we had an argument in the car. I ended up standing once on the side of the road with my toddler son on a vacation in England. And he made me perform the kind of acts he saw in the most degrading types of porn. And so much more. Gary would need to take a lifetime of showers after hearing what I went through in my marriage.

  20. Rosie

    Disappointed to not have fri reg posts

  21. Irene

    Sure, marriage books don’t apply. But who tells you this when you are a young wife? I am approaching my 30th anniversary–30 awful years from the first night. I kept reading Christian marriage books for about 25 years before I threw one across the room and yelled at the invisible author that he didn’t get it! I finally understand now that these books don’t apply, but a pastor recently suggested i just need to read Love and Respect. I think these authors need to have some kind of side note that tells readers it won’t work in cases of abuse. That way at least you will understand why your husband is able to wipe his feet on you while you respect him unconditionally like a good Christian wife!

    • Cecilia K

      Irene, I love that you threw the book across the room! That made me smile, although not that this situation is really funny, but just because I think that is such an appropriate response. When I was with my NBF, I had read a lot of relationship books and knew pretty much all the “rules”, but I noticed that the principles didn’t seem to be working with this guy. However, it didn’t even occur to me at the time that it was the authors who didn’t get it; I just thought I was still not living out the principles properly. *I* must be doing something wrong, or it’s just that He (BF) doesn’t know the rules, so to speak, and He needs to read this/these books. Ha ha ha haaaa!! Now, I get it. I agree with all of you who have said the typical relationship book is not written with abusive partners in mind, and yes, I agree that there ought to be a disclaimer in these books that informs the reader these principles do not apply to abusive relationships.

      I am so sorry that you have had to suffer for 30 years under your abuser. Though I was not married, my ex-nbf and I did go through Love & Respect (I had read it prior to the relationship, and he was listening to it on cd, I think). Anyway, he kept harping on how we need to “love and respect” each other, until finally one day, I said we needed to be specific about what that looks like to each of us. He went first, and said he needed me to take ALL of his suggestions, whether I liked them or not, in order to feel respected by me. I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t promise I’m going to do that.” He was livid, and said, “Don’t bother telling me what you need, then.” I wasn’t going to; I knew better. I think that was the impetus of one of our many break-ups.

      • Gratefully Yours

        Cecilia, thank you for that insight to define what “love and respect” look like to both parties. I’d love to hear how my N-husband answers that as he loved the title of that book. I kept thinking the ironic thing about that title was being so past desiring love anymore, I just wanted “respect” which he should have given if it’s so important and understandable to him. Our Pastor set the record straight when he said (paraphrased), if you look at the whole Bible, all those good qualities belong in both the husband and the wife, it’s not just “love” or “respect” but both and so much more.

        Thank you, everyone, for sharing your journeys and helping us navigate these unique relationships. I agree with you that “disclaimers” should be included in marriage advice books so people can learn to recognize what kind of situation they may be in when when the advice doesn’t work. We need to be upfront discerning the difference between dealing with healthy character traits which thrive with good advice, verses the Biblical “fools” who will be destructive with healthiness, taking advantage of, abusing and obstructing the healthy outcome desired by those who follow words of wisdom.

        Great discussions everyone! I’ve so enjoyed these latest insights!

    • As an author of two Christian books, as well as an attorney, and one who went through a 21 year abusive marriage (which followed a 6 year previous abusive marriage), my upcoming book, geared towards pastors as well as women caught in abusive relationships, focuses on recognizing, removing, and recovering from abusive men. It will, in the very first paragraph, inform women to throw the marriage improvement books they have been reading out the window!!! And start reading books that will inform themselves of what they are really dealing with: a man who is evil but camouflages himself with church attendance and, in cases of affluence, wealth.

  22. Irene

    Cecilia– thanks for the suggestion to ask what respect looks like. My anti-husband said, you need to look me in the eye amd tell me that you will trust me 100 percent. So a man who has lied, stolen money from me, left me homeless with kids, called me names, used ther bible to undermine my self-esteem and done some things i won’t put in print wants me to trust him in everything–no apologies needed. Thanks for helping me see where his brain is.

    • Cecilia K

      Oh Irene, that is so terrible that he would do that to you, and all the while claiming to love you, most likely. And yes, it is absolutely absurd that he would insist that you trust him. Trust has to be earned, Fool! You (and Gratefully Yours) are welcome for the insight / suggestion. I’m sure I ultimately got it from one of those relationship books whose advice doesn’t work in abusive relationships, ha ha ha! But in that moment, it must have been the Lord who allowed me to recall that advice to mind. While it didn’t result in an improved relationship, at least it inadvertently got me out of a bad one (I didn’t have to do the breaking up myself—my refusal to comply with my ex’s absurd request was a deal breaker for him), or at least, it got me out for a while, until we started missing each other and reconciled. = (

  23. Gratefully Yours

    Celia! (Mama Bear response to “missing each other and reconciled”).

    I don’t know if my response will apply to you (though it could to someone), but since learning about narcissism two years ago, part of my healing was being encouraged to find women friends to bring balance to my life. The theory being, if you are single and have women BFF’s it’s presumed when you meet “Mr. Juan Der Ful” you will already be filled with the love of God and friends and a new man’s love and attention will not stand out so intensely because he won’t be meeting a starving need. You’ll be balanced and able to evaluate more objectively.

    Finding those women friends is another thing. Since my mom has NPD, most of my life I erroneously avoided women due to unfairly attributing unhealthy traits to them. I didn’t want to be obsessively controlled. I was wrong as healthy, balanced, Bible believing women are a delight! How to find them was a mystery as I assumed you had to have things in common and didn’t know how to go from “hello” to “are we a match?”. I was stunned when a woman wisely told me that was the wrong approach, “She just has to be a woman!” You start there. For finding friends I started leading small women’s groups at my church and now have many BFF’s who fill my life with love and laughter, encouraging me when I encounter narcissistic behavior. I set good boundaries making my present situation livable and bounce back quicker when setbacks occur.

    • Cecilia K

      Gratefully, Thank you for your concern and counsel. First, let me clarify that although we reconciled that time, the relationship still didn’t work out—we are not together anymore. It’s rather amazing to me that we have been apart for almost three years, I think, and we’ve been no contact for almost a whole year (and I attribute that length in large part to this blog, which God has used to give me the strength to resist the temptation to get back together with him yet again).

      Yes, I absolutely agree that having female friends is a great help to fill the void, and I am blessed to have several. The difficulty for me is that most of them are married with children, and don’t have a lot of time to spend with me, which is fine, because I now take care of my elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, so it’s not so easy for me to get away either. It’s okay; I’m content with where God has me, and I don’t spend as much time pining away for that lost “love” anymore. It’s just on some occasions, I miss some of the nice things we used to do together that I enjoyed, and doing them with anyone else just wouldn’t be the same.

      For me personally, I have found that “just being a woman” isn’t enough. I have to connect on at least a fairly deep level to feel it is a fulfilling relationship, and I do like to have some things in common. I’m not trying to debate you on the issue; I am glad you have found fulfillment in the friends you have made, and I hope that everyone on here has that support group who can help them either bounce back or at least just refresh them every now and then (for those who are still involved with their Ns). Blessings!

      • Gratefully Yours

        Thank you, Cecilia, for your sweet reply. You’ve brought up an excellent angle, how narcissism plays out differently in relationships. I don’t have that “slot machine” intermittent positive reinforcement like you had. I can’t imagine how deeply imbedded into the mind the confusion would be to have positive experiences mingled with negative. Having found relief from learning it’s OK to avoid the destruction of trying to connect on a deeper level with a narcissist, my relationships with family narcissists have become more like a neutral avoidance with intermittent negative reinforcement that still catches me off guard wishing I’d anticipated it so it could have been avoided. I can’t miss something I never had. Unlike your shared sweet memories my narcissistic husband will make glorious memories with other people who praise him for hiking the highest mountain peaks in week-long treks. But he won’t do a walk ‘n talk down the street with me as it’s not exciting enough. For me those hour long walks are my Disneyland when shared with a friend who lets me talk through what I’m experiencing. Like sharing with you right now. That’s grace for my heart.

        Thank you, Dave, for creating this wonderful community. It’s amazing that for all the grief we’ve been through we find such comfort and peace being understood by those connected to the disconnecting disorder of narcissism. You are wonderful sisters!

  24. Irene

    Yes! This is an amazing blog. Thank you.

  25. Cat

    I used to read stuff from these relationship books to my ex-husband and he would point out all the things I was doing wrong according to the books. They became a kind of tool for him to gaslight me and manipulate and control me even more than he was doing.

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