The Person Most Likely to Be Abused In Church…

You may also like...

27 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    Fighting back the tears realizing that almost 50 years after my experiences, this is still an issue in not only the same circles I was connected to but throughout so much of the church. My children are now in their mid to late forties and we all still deal with the lingering effects of that time and decades of pain &confusion that ensued.

    It’s a travesty.

    Heading out for a long walk in the blustery wind and rain to keep the flashbacks at bay now. Best antidote I’ve found so far.

  2. Jerod says:

    No responses yet …
    I for one and reflecting on all the BS I put my wife through these past few years.

    Perfect day to tell them how much we love them

  3. Michael says:


    You know you’re not alone…I know many who will never fully heal from these wounds.

    That is small consolation, I know…

  4. Jerod says:

    Well there we go

  5. dusty says:

    Oh anne. ((((Hugs))))) I’m so sorry you are in such pain. Praying for you today

  6. John 20:29 says:

    i don’t know who reads the PhxP, but i am with dusty praying for Anne and any other women so situated – i suspect there are other women, not married to pastors in the same pain – and, yes, it says as much about the church as it does about the pastor
    As a woman, i am so glad that Michael has the integrity to stand up and use his voice in this matter…
    FWIW, in my view such men as “pastor horny” are exposing two of their character deficiencies, a weak spine and a consuming ambition/ego… dunno

  7. JM says:

    Michael, I should acknowledge that I have seen many good offerings from your blog in my inbox lately but am not in a position to register my gratitude as often as I would wish.

    Thank you for bringing light to this subject again. It should be done often because this group of women are greatly forgotten and endure more than anyone who has not “been there” can ever imagine. It is good that God has put this on your heart. Some of these women even suffer broken health and financial ruin. Sadly, the children often become pawns in the hands of truly evil people. The deep pain of being manipulated, betrayed and humiliated and then torn to pieces by vulturous sycophants of a leader or a system that can do no wrong will always leave a scar. The ability to trust is likely never fully restored. I have shared an awful lot in previous posts–but not all. I never will share “all”. Suffice to say that the people I thought were “good” were not. I have forgiven many who were simply doing what they were “taught”. It is the mentality they were brought into as babes in Christ. As to culpable leaders…still waiting for some truths to come out.

    You are right to point out that many who would strain at a doctrinal gnat will swallow the camel of pastoral infidelity and cruelty. It is disgusting. While I tend to be conservative in my approach to my faith, I will never deal with people who deliberately overlook evil for even a “good” agenda ever, ever again. God does not ask me to condone the sin of a famous person to accomplish some other positive so why will I let some idiot of whatever stature tell me that’s okay. Oxymoronic. Many in the “discernment” business are self-righteous and have become blind to their own condition. I have written to more than one of the ODM’s over the years about their shortcomings. I wrote to one within the last year to consider the story about Chuck Smith’s infidelity and deal with it honestly as to how so many of them still hold him up as an example. Silence and deletion. I also prepared a post for a women’s blogger who took issue with men not taking a stand on doctrinal issues in the church and dumping it in the laps of women. I have seen that and don’t like it either. However, I challenged her that silence about pastoral infidelity or cruelty is just as bad and should be decried by every man in every pulpit so there can be push back against its becoming commonplace. I was deleted there, too.

    I haven’t been here long enough to know Anne’s story, but my heart truly breaks for her and her children. Along with Dusty and Em, I will remember her in my prayers today, too.

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    At the women’s shelter where I occasionally volunteer, this situation of a “pastor’s wife” has occurred on more than one occasion. They usually come from outside the immediate geographic area as they are too ashamed to seek services closer to home…

  9. JM says:

    #8, Duane,

    That absolutely fits. As Michael accurately states: “When the wife breaks down from the emotional beatings, she’s “mentally ill”. Then they turn the children against her and she’s abandoned by church and family. It’s always her fault…”. She has nowhere locally she can go for help. Additionally, if the evil people have succeeded–even the children whom she has loved and nurtured are now blaming her (the victim) for the departure of the husband (the selfish pervert). Some are so badly beaten and so alone without any voices on their behalf–they actually begin to believe that it must be their fault and they are crushed. I know of women (not pastor’s wives, though) who have committed suicide over just this type of deeply hurtful, emotional trauma. Women in these dire situations are essentially widows and should be given all help that can be given.

  10. Scooter Jones says:

    Wow, this just hurts reading this.

    I know that I’ve not always treated or respected my wife with the utmost care.

    It takes a lot of effort and humility to maintain a bond of trust and mutual respect.

    After 4 decades of marriage, I feel like I’m just getting started.

  11. John 20:29 says:

    our churches may be too passive? seeing the pastor as a performer? an entertainer for Jesus?
    i am sure that the life of a pastor is one that not many have the strengths necessary to successfully serve… and, yes, there are predatory, cunning women also who will seize an opportunity to draw a pastor off course…
    it is not up to the wife to “hold onto her man.” Rather, it is up to the man to hold onto the vows he made to her and to God.
    I think that there are some extenuating circumstances where a pastor can be restored to both his pastorate and his marriage… but it takes great wisdom, not emotion, to discern when this is the correct course to pursue…
    i suspect that Chuck Smith’s restoration was acceptable to God and i don’t know if the event should have been kept secret – probably should have. But it never should have happened.
    When we were newly married, my husband and i belonged to a church where the pastor was being pursued by a member of his congregation – he thought that he was ministering to a needy woman (she was the wife of a fireman and, yes, the pastor’s dear wife – she was dear – could see as could we all, what this woman was about) – when it reached the point that he stayed for dinner, his church stepped in and confronted him and put a stop to it. I wonder how many situations of this sort could have been thwarted by a mature group within the church body, willing to stick their necks out and do what God expects… we may be pew sitters, but we’re not drones – we, too, are servants of God.
    There is a difference between being a busy body and being a steward. God help us to know the difference.

  12. Ms. ODM says:

    I’ve spoken to many such women — weapon of choice pastors use against their wives — gaslighting. One of my friends over the years being married to a pastor said she had nowhere to turn — if she confided in women in the church, the rumor mill would run wild. And then if the church collapsed – yeah it would be all her fault. She felt she had nowhere to turn.

  13. Shannon Kent says:

    My wonderful and amazing friends who were the very beginning on my healing journey — my story is finally in the light.

    Thank you so much Michael – for being an amazing mentor through this! You have no idea how much the Phoenix Preacher has changed my life. I am forever grateful.


  14. JonnyB says:

    It is not just preachers wives. The same scenario plays out in all relationships it seems. There are never any winners in divorce. It can take years to recover.

  15. Paige says:

    #12 Mrs ODM….yes. Gaslighting (look it up)

    This story. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Made that “t shirt” into a burnt offering to the Lord, and put out the fire with my own tears. It -was- a crushing and lengthy journey. However, now 17ish years removed (literally) from the situation, and NEVER any closure from the humans involved, I will state that GOD is all those things that the Psalms say He is… Deliverer, Savior, Comforter, Refuge, Stronghold, Shield and all the Names for our Redeemer. I testify that GOD has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat in my life.

    Things are far from ‘perfect’ or healed. I still visit the Valley of the Shadow and weep buckets of confused tears wondering ‘what happened”… but GOD. He has turned my mourning into dancing (though crippled) and set my feet upon a Rock, and put a new song in my mouth… and truly (Psalms 40) many have seen it, many fear, and many have put their trust in the Lord because of His deliverance in my life. To HIM alone, I continually offer the sacrifices of praise, the fruit of my lips. There still is a future and a hope.

  16. Michael says:

    I’m running around but wanted you to know how proud we are of you…you did good, my friend.

  17. Eric says:

    Much damage has been done to the Church because people thought the way to protect the church was to protect the staff rather than the laity and the guilty rather than the victims.

  18. John 20:29 says:

    Well, i think….. ?
    Every person who learns of these acts and does not report them should be legally liable … wonder how things would change if elder Sealed Lips thought he could be sued for all he’s got…. wonder how that would affect his sense of right and wrong…

    Feeling testy tonight, i guess

  19. JM says:

    #11, You alway make good points. However, I wish to inject a few things into the conversation about restoring a pastor who has broken his vows. He has defiled the marriage bed, destroyed unity with his wife and joined himself with what the Bible would call a “strange” woman (not his wife). Marriage in general is supposed to be a witness to the world of Christ’s fidelity to and sacrificial love of His church. Christ does not “join” with unbelievers and is not unfaithful. A pastor who commits adultery destroys more than just the trust of his wife and family. He destroys his precious and symbolic witness before God and man. Additionally, he cannot deny that his life was always to be judged with greater severity as laid down in the Scripture that he purports to preach. To allow a fallen pastor back in the pulpit nullifies the purposes and holiness of God. It should not be done. Lastly, there is the bigger responsibility of the health of the Body of Christ. That is Christ’s concern and should have been the concern of the pastor as both a leader and a husband. If the pastor falls we do not lower ourselves to his level to make things right. We bring the body of Christ up to God’s better and higher level.

    If one wants to speak of forgiveness — that is a completely different issue. When there is a thorough confession of sins committed, genuine sorrowing over the sin, real attempts at restitution, and acceptance of consequences–then repentance can be believed—and this over time. We are to walk in the light and quit acting like children. Therefore, the body in which he served needs to be told. They need to be responsible and accountable for what happens next–not passive. If true repentance has occurred, that body should come along side to help both the fallen pastor and his family to see if there is any hope of restoration there. If there is no hope for restoration, then help should be given to the family so that they can survive and the pastor should be helped separately. Brokenness on the part of the pastor would be best shown by agreeing with the Word that says he should be above reproach. Since he is no longer “above reproach”–he should never seek the pulpit again. If he does–it should be considered a red flag and his repentance questioned. Losing the ability to pastor should not be viewed as punitive. It is a direct consequence of an action he willingly and freely chose to commit. Put another way — I have never heard of a pastor forced into sex with another woman because he had a gun to his head. By restoring these men to pulpits, we sow disrespect for women, mediocrity in our leaders and more of the same, abhorrent behavior by those in the pews. It is surely leaven. It is faithless to think that God does not know things before they happen and that He would have no plan to restore such a church to health. Transparency, prayer and patience would be the best route for a fellowship affected by such trauma. Infact, some fellowships, when they have had to individually take responsibility for their own spiritual condition have grown tremendously. It can be done.

  20. Michael says:

    Thanks as always JM…
    Eric…Em…good words.

  21. Just A Sheep says:

    #15 Paige. Your words brought me the both tears and hope. Thank you for your honesty.

  22. dusty says:

    Shannon and paige…you are very strong women. God bless you both abundantly. (((((Hugs))))) still praying for you both.

  23. pstrmike says:

    great article Michael.

    thanks Shannon and Paige.

  24. says:

    Again (400th time),
    I don’t understand how we as the church can support the Caesar-model of church gov. and then be surprised when it translates into the home (man “bow before me!”).
    Also, and from a societal standpoint at least as destructive, such “men” are replicating that template of abuse to their sons, then to their sons, and so on, not to mention the young girls who grow up witnessing and accepting the woman’s peon status.

  25. Michael says:

    Thanks, Mike…

  26. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’ve had my eye on Greg for about 20 years. He and Melissa went to bible college across the street from my house. My town has about 400. The college has abut 200 students, so Greg was seen as sort of a rising young star among the Independent Fundamentalist Baptists around here. There was always something slightly different about him, an uneasiness with that mold. Several years ago I saw that he had broken with the fundies, and I reached out to him electronically to see what was up. He seemed like a really good guy, trying to do his best to follow the Lord. A couple years later, he started putting out the crazy Boycott Target type video, and I stopped paying attention until this.

    The sad thing is that Greg doesn’t realize he is in a cycle. He grew up in abuse and is passing it along to the next generation without a clue. I am sure he thinks that he was married to a mean woman, and that he just responded to her in anger sometimes. It’s not just the words, or even the slaps if they occurred. It is the mindset. The controlling, the shaming, etc. Its a sickness. A new wife won’t fix it, and Greg himself can probably not even fix it. He will have to get therapy to recognize what is going on, and then will have to take some very painful steps to recover.

    Of course, this says nothing of his wife, what she’s endured, and will endure going forward. Its just such an ugly situation. I hurt for them.

  27. ??? Beautifully written!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.