Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion Paperback – 3 Mar 2008
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A no nonsense approach to the topic... deserves widespread attention, with positive acceptance and affirmation from academy and pastorate. --John Wilks (London School of Theology), Evangelical Quarterly, April 2009.
Demands to be read by all who advise men and women facing the sorrows and trauma of an unhappy marriage. --David Wheaton, Churchman, Vol 24, no 4, Winter 2010.
Invaluable for those trapped in abuse. A must-read for those expected to give Biblically-grounded advice. --Will Briggs, Anglican Pastor, Tasmania.
From the Back Cover
David Clyde Jones: "Not Under Bondage will help quiet frightened consciences. The chapters on 'abuse' and 'separation' are the best I've seen on abuse and the biblical response to it.
Michael Hill: "Roberts has read widely and wrestled with the text of scripture and I stand in awe of what she has achieved."
David Instone-Brewer: "This book bravely faces up to the consequences of abuse in a practical and theological way, without ignoring the complexities of the Bible teaching on divorce and remarriage."
Top Customer Reviews
But questions were arising? Could our friend separate herself from her abusive husband? Would she have scriptural grounds for divorce? These and other questions were answered in a very clear and biblical way by Barbara Roberts. Issues such as constructive desertion, church discipline, scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage are dealt with thoroughly throughout the book.
I heartily recommend "Not Under Bondage" to any Christians (pastoral carers, clergy, victim/survivors) who are currently facing these issues, as well as to those who may well do so in the future. It is a book carefully written and giving a truly biblical perspective on these matters.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If more people exercised God's way of escape by divorcing for impenitent sin in their homes, I believe Christians would exert tremendous peer pressure on wayward spouses as they acknowledge that God does not tolerate ungodly conduct among family members. Sin thrives on secrecy and a mate falsely thinking, "It's my fault," instead of demanding accountability.
As Christians, we often focus so strongly on saving the marriage that we turn a blind eye to the other person's free will in choosing to be abusive rather than loving. Love is a choice as is demonstrated by the commands in the Bible to love others. We don't earn another person's love. And often the justifications for refusing to love are utterly ridiculous and selfish.
Every person who feels trapped by God in a loveless or abusive marriage needs to study this book. It may not have been God, but man's ignorance that ensnared them. The irony is that when God's people believe they are trapped and then work hard "to just survive," they are actually creating an environment that allows the mate's sin to flourish.
Barbara will stretch your mind as she explores word meanings, the context, and the consistency of how words are used in other passages. She skillfully proves that our slogan, "God hates divorce," ignores both the meanings of words and the grammar in Mal. 2:16. After you read this chapter, you may want to correct the way you quote that catchphrase.
The eye opening chapter, "What is abuse?" makes the whole book worth reading whether you agree with anything else.
An abused woman herself, Barbara clearly answers the question I've asked abused women for nearly 20 years, "Why do you stay?" Most victims do not know why they continue to "spend all their energies walking on eggshells and trying to `fix' the relationship."
Basically, they stay because in the "dynamic cycle of abuse" tension builds until an episode of sin occurs, then the abuser offers just enough "buy backs" of affection that the victim is happy and hopeful for her marriage without core problems being addressed. The victim believes the buy backs and her fantasy of happily ever after. No doubt, Barbara's words will wake up many victims to their codependence with sin.
I highly recommend Not Under Bondage to help you examine the scriptures from a fresh perspective and to look anew at one of God's ways for waging a spiritual battle against sin in the home.
I pray God's blessings on Barbara and her efforts as she deals with "Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery & Desertion;" and ultimately, our own better treatment of those who falsely assume they are trapped in marriage to an abuser.
Barbara Roberts clearly explains all of the above points and holds out great hope and freedom to women (and men, to a degree) who have been bound to a spouse (who has already broken faith and vows) not by the marriage vows they spoke but by the church that insists they are in sin if they don't submit to the offending spouse after abandonment and/or abuse.
This writer in no way condones 'get out of jail free' divorces of desire or convenience or the breaking of one's own vows. But she does correct the thinking that churches have used to for years to subjugated women into forced surrender to a spouse that has already, by his actions, ended the marriage and, by his continued actions, shows no willingness to alter his behavior.
LIke I already stated, I have not been abused, but until you walk for years with a woman extricating herself from an abusive spouse or trying to obtain legal help from the abusive spouse that abandoned her and kept abusing her, you have no idea the evil that goes on behind closed doors. Nor do you have any idea how smooth the abuser is when telling the church and state authorities how it's "all her fault". Nor do you have any idea the pain when the church believes and supports him and castigates you for being thrown out, or for being in severe emotional and mental distress from the PTSD that accompanies and follows the years of abuse that's been carefully crafted away from public exposure. Thank you, Barbara, for the prison doors you have opened!
I would also recommend Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities by David Instone-Brewer. It studies not only the original text scriptures but also the history during the centuries when these teachings took place. This perspective is pivotal to understanding why Jesus and Paul chose the words they said, and did not say, to the crowds they were teaching. These books helped me to know it was God's voice I was hearing and not my own or the world's.
After the wedding more of his true self and more of his lies became evident. I was sick with grief. The man I thought I married did not exist. But the worst was yet to come. He initially used what I call "Christian guilt" to shame me into staying with him. What kind of Christian would I be if I left him? Why couldn't I forgive his lies and love him anyway, like Jesus loves us and forgives us? And worse, every pastor I spoke to told me the same thing; I'd be sinning if I left him and I had no choice but to "stay and pray." So I stayed despite his continual lies, his use of porn and alcohol, both of which he hid (or tried to hide from me before and after the wedding), his mental abuse, and his financial abuse. He bankrupted us within 6 years by having credit cards with paperless statements so I never knew he was burying us in debt. But the real hell for me began when I became pregnant with our first child. Once I was pregnant our unborn child became his leverage to keep me in bondage to him. He no longer needed to use only "Christian guilt" to shame me into staying. He had a better plan now. I was only weeks pregnant when he warned that he would sue for custody if I dared to leave him, and throughout the marriage he used all kinds of intimidation, crazy-making, manipulation, coercion, deceit, and threats to keep me in bondage to him. He was a doctor and threatened to have me committed for various mental illnesses, or to use my so-called mental health status against me if I tried to get custody. He warned me that no judge would ever believe me over him because of his status, education, and position in the community. He treated me with pathological insensitivity and a callous disregard for my most basic needs, but then demanded that I be a Christian wife to him (if you know what I mean). I won't even go into the graphic details, but let me tell you that most people would treat a roommate, a street person, or a stray animal better than this man treated me.
At the twelve year point I'd had enough. I knew I'd die if I didn't get out of this hellish existence. My health was deteriorating from the constant stress and I was living in complete isolation which I forgot to mention previously. Like most abusers he kept me and the kids completely isolated. I knew I couldn't live like this for the rest of my life and I knew it was destroying my children and I had to get out, but I had no support whatsoever. He had driven all of my friends away. I had no family nearby and no pastor or church which would support my decision to leave. I was warned over and over again by well meaning (but I now believe sorely mistaken) pastors and elders that he had not committed adultery, and that he was a non-believer who wished to remain with me, so therefore I was bound to him for life. Like every other Christian woman (or man) bound to an abusive spouse, I felt stuck between a rock and hard place. I could stay and continue to suffer abuse for the rest of my life (which by the way also subjected my children to harm as well), or I could leave and live in sin. What an IMPOSSIBLE decision. Barbara Roberts so compassionately acknowledges and sympathizes with this conundrum (leave the abuse and live in sin, or stay and continue to suffer abuse) that torments Christian victims of marital abuse.
I was so blessed when I found Barbara Robert's book and I finally understood scripturally what I had intuitively believed for quite some time but was afraid to act upon; I was not bound to this man because the marriage was a fraud from the beginning, he had broken the marital vows (not me), and I was being abused. In my heart and soul I suspected that the Bible does allow for abuse (and remarriage) in the case of marital abuse, but I didn't understand the scriptures which support this belief and I could not find a pastor, elder, or Christian counselor who understood it either. Barbara's Robert's book so carefully explains the scriptures which hang us up and keep us in bondage to abusive spouses, but I am going to be 100% honest about what convinced me to leave my abusive spouse. I threw myself at God's mercy and told Him that I would in no uncertain terms do exactly what He lead me to do if He would just show me clearly whether I should leave or stay. I believe that God speaks to all us individually in a way that we hear and understand Him, (but what He shows us will ALWAYS agree with Scripture). Once I was humbled and surrendered to His will, He clearly told me in a way that I could not deny it was Him, that I must leave. Then He provided Barbara's Robert's book to reinforce what He had shown me and to give me encouragement and further peace. You must seek the Lord in your individual circumstances and be surrendered to His will, and then seek Him diligently. He will lead and guide you if you seek Him. And He will provide the support you need to get out of an abusive marriage if you ask and trust Him.
Back to Barbara's Robert's book; one of the most freeing things I learned from this amazing book is the correct interpretation of "... the nonbeliever who wishes to remain with you." Pastors and Christian friends often tell us to stay and pray when we are bound to abusive non-Christian spouses who do not want a divorce, but Barbara Roberts explains that this verse refers to a man or woman who is not a believer but who wants to stay married for the right reasons; love and commitment. I know families which fall into this category. One spouse is a Christian, but the other is not. The non-Christian is committed to the marriage in word and deed. He or she treats the spouse with love, decency and respect. This is what Scripture is referring to when we are admonished to not leave a non-believer who wishes to remain with us. We are not to divorce a non-believer simply because he or she is a non-believer. My ex was a non-believer and he wanted to stay married, but not for the right reasons. Like most abusers, he wanted to stay married in order to have his own needs met and in order to continue his abuse. Thank God I finally came to understand that I am not bound to my abusive ex simply because he was a non-believer and he didn't want a divorce. Most abusers don't want a divorce. They want to stay married and continue to abuse. Mine certainly was no exception. Had I continued to believe I was bound to him, we'd still be married and he'd still be abusing me.
Barbara's Robert's book also explains a verse that Christians often use to shame and admonish those who are divorced or who are contemplating divorce. We've all heard how the Lord "Hates divorce." Ugh.. That verse used to torment me until I read Barbara's explanation which I think is clearer than David Instone-Brewer's explanation in his book (Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, The Social and Literary Context). His book is excellent, Barbara references it in her work, and I highly recommend it, but Barbara's explanation of this verse is clearer in my opinion. God does not hate all divorce, and this verse is actually referring to the man who divorces as being the one who hates.... He who hates and divorces, or he who hates and causes divorce. Divorce is biblically allowed for abuse and neglect and the divorcee who leaves an abusive marriage is in no way hated by God.
Roberts, and Instone-Brewer, also explain and show scripturally that divorce is not only allowed biblically for physical abuse, but for emotional abuse and neglect, and for abandonment; and that abandonment does not have to be physical. A person can abandon his or her marriage and spouse while still living (and demanding to live) in the marital house and sleeping (or demanding to sleep) in the marital bed. And this is often what abusers do. They refuse to leave, threaten to harm you if you leave, but continue to abuse you if you stay. If you are feeling trapped by your understanding of scripture, or by Christian guilt, in an abusive marriage, please pray earnestly for the Lord to show you the truth about your situation, and please consider reading Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery, and Desertion. Also, pastors and Christian counselors, please read this book and pray to see it as the Lord sees it for the sake of the many hurting people who come to you for prayer and advice about abuse in their marriages.