I have been verbally and physically abused since the time of my marriage eighteen years ago…. When I met my husband, he was a deacon, and sometime later he became the pastor; but that didn’t stop him from beating me until I had bruises all over my body and was bleeding. One time I lost consciousness because he tried to strangle me, and recently he did it again. Since my husband is the pastor, I am ashamed and can’t tell anyone. He hit my fifteen-year-old daughter because she tried to defend me.
We are so sad to hear all that you have gone through! It is tragic when men or women profess to be dedicated to God and His work, while carrying on secret private lives. Sometimes they commit adultery, sometimes it is embezzlement, and as in your case, sometimes it is anger and violence. These “wolves in sheeps’ clothing,” as Jesus Christ Himself calls them,1 use their power and position in the church to manipulate their families and those who might discover their dirty secrets.
Jesus goes on to give an illustration using fruit trees. He says that just as a bad tree cannot produce good fruit, neither can a good tree produce bad fruit.2 In this case, your husband is the tree that looks good to many people, but the fruit he is producing is bad. Violence in the home is always bad and always dangerous – no exceptions. So we can see that your husband is a “false prophet,” as Jesus would call him,3 and that he is deceiving a congregation of people who are looking to him to lead them spiritually.
Equally as bad, your husband is teaching your teenage daughter, by his actions, that religious leaders are fakes and cannot be trusted. She, and the congregation, may have future spiritual conflicts because your husband has betrayed them all, and he has done it in the name of Christ. You cannot think that you are the only one who is being hurt; they are all being hurt by his evil actions.
The first thing you need to do is to get physical protection so that your husband cannot hurt you any longer. If your country has laws against spousal abuse, go to the police and report all that your husband has done. If you have any evidence, such as pictures of your injuries, hospital reports, or witnesses, then present this proof as well. If possible, get an order of protection so that he cannot go near you and your daughter in the future. Take advantage of any resources that the legal system has to offer you. Your husband should be put in jail for his actions, so do not hesitate to help make it happen.
If your husband has credentials with a ministerial association, then go to the supervisor and report your husband’s behavior. If the church itself chooses their own pastor, then also go to the deacons and tell them everything.
Then tell everyone. Keeping this kind of secret allows it to continue. You have no reason to be ashamed. He is the one who did this, and you must stand against this evil in your family and in your church. If more women would tell, there would be much less spousal abuse. Let it start with you!
Yes, this is life-changing advice. And yes, if you follow our advice, many people will be affected forever. But what if you don’t follow our advice and he succeeds in killing you, whether on purpose or because he is out of control? Think of your daughter. She needs you. Do this for her. And do it because it is right.
We wish you well,
1 Mt 7:15
2 Mt 7:16-20
3 Mt 7:15