Thoughts on Steve Chalke and Yoder: until women are free, nobody is free.

When men commit violence against women it rarely impacts their credibility, status or value in society.  Someone I know who works with men in prison commented that men imprisoned for abusing children are seen as pariahs, whereas men imprisoned for abusing women are sympathised with, “it’s only because they were unlucky enough to get caught”.

John Lennon, Mel Gibson, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Chris Brown, Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, Steven Segal, Paul Gascoigne, Christian Slater, Ike Turner, Glen Campbell, Ray Rice.  All men arrested and/or charged with choosing to hurt a woman.  All men for whom their actions and choices towards women and girls have not negatively impacted their careers.

Jean Hatchett’s tireless work to campaign against Ched Evans’ becoming re-employed after being released on license to serve the rest of his sentence for rape is likely the only reason he has not yet begun playing professional football.  Before the dawn of social media sites and online petitions, it’s almost certain Ched Evans would have returned to his old club and life would have continued for him.  As it is, he may not be working as a footballer yet, but the woman he raped is living with the horrific impact of sexual assault alongside being harassed and forced to change her identity.

Over the last week another serial offender who violated and abused what is thought to be over 100 women has been given a new platform.  Theologian John Howard Yoder features in Steve Chalke’s new book “Being Human” released last week, coinciding nicely with the Open Church Conference he was leading about how to more fully include LGBT* people within the church.

Blogger Thomas Creedy made public concerns about Chalke referencing Yoder within the book, especially where he refers to Yoder as a “theologian and ethicist, best known for his pacifism”.  I have Storified some tweets about the situation HERE.

Christian Today have done a piece giving more information about Yoder, including a response from Steve Chalke, who explained that he didn’t know about “Yoder’s personal history before referencing him in the book, but wasn’t inclined to make any changes to the book in light of the information.” 

He said of Yoder’s book “The Politics of Jesus” that he “think it’s a fantastic piece of theology,” and “acknowledged that there was a “clear gap” between “who Yoder is revealed to be and what he espoused” but added “There’s always a huge gap between our aspirations and behaviour.”

He mentioned cases from “history of leading theological figures who had morally questionable personal lives, pointing to the widespread influence of Karl Barth, despite his unconventional domestic arrangements (he lived with both his wife and his theological assistant Charlotte, to whom he declared his love in letters)” and said that “King David was hardly sweetness and light,”  

He explained that “although he appreciated Yoder’s theology, it was not a defence of the allegations against him. “Just as I consider Karl Barth an extraordinary theologian… But it’s his theology I’m reading, and I understand there’ll always be a gap between who we [say we] are and what we do.””

Although Steve Chalke knew nothing of the allegations against Yoder when referencing him, his response since is of great concern and continues that age old tradition of ignoring, minimising and silencing women who have been abused in favour of the men who abused them.  Preferring the gifts the men bring over the reality of the hurt they have caused.

One of Yoder’s victims was Sharon Detweiler.  Her story can be found HERE.  She talks of the impact of Yoder’s abuse on her, of her struggles with intimacy and trust, her inability to stay in a church for more than a few years.  Of the hurt of being ignored, even with taped evidence of Yoder’s behaviour.  What a disturbing irony!  An author who has written a book about “Being Human” not being able to see or consider Yoder’s victims, talking about a pacifist who violated 100 women.

Jimmy Saville is another man whose crimes were not made public until after his death, but my guess is, his charitable work would not be something Steve Chalke would begin applauding.  In fact those who did celebrate Jimmy Saville, before knowledge of his offences were made public, were very quick to distance themselves from him after knowing about the horrendous crimes he had committed.

In a similar way to Saville, Yoder used his position of power and authority to prey on women, using excuses of gender theology to abuse them.  He never denied the allegations against him and only ever offered a politician’s apology, “I’m sorry you misunderstood my intentions.”  Saville has had royal honours removed and all of his good work is tainted by the reality of his crimes.  Yet for Steve Chalke, Yoder’s ethic and pacifism should remain intact because the sexual offending was “personal history”.

Personal history.  It’s a nice idea isn’t it?  As is the world in which serial sex offending is similar to someone having a live-in mistress.  Yet Yoder’s “personal history” isn’t history for Sharon Detweiler is it?  She continues to live with the consequences of Yoder’s choice to abuse her, as do the other women who were hurt by him.  It’s not “personal” either.  It wasn’t something that Yoder did in isolation, on his own.  It affected 100 women directly, then indirectly affected many they know; their parents, children and partners.  Not only that, it will have impacted the churches they were part of, the people they may have influenced if (like Sharon) they left church leadership after Yoder’s offences towards them.  It’s not personal when 100 women have had to live with being hurt by Yoder.

It’s also not personal when it was not just Yoder’s choices.  Leaders across the Mennonite Church supported him, colluded with him, did not challenge him.  They knew what he had done.  And they failed the many women Yoder hurt.  It’s not “personal history” when individuals and communities protected Yoder and did not speak out.

Steve Chalke is the founder of Stop the Traffik which has at it’s core a commitment to challenging abuse of people, the vast majority of whom will be women and girls.  For him to make this statement about Yoder in light of his involvement in this cause is at the very least, deeply problematic.

Yet Steve Chalke is in esteemed company, theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas dedicates all of 29 words in a 3300 word article about Yoder to his sexual offences.  He describes them as “sexual misconduct” and suggests Yoder’s integrity remained intact because he “submitted to his church’s discipline”.  That Hauerwas, a man with such insight could not see that the power structures of the church means that Yoder could submit to that authority, without ever being held to account, is staggeringly ignorant.

I’m sure I’m not the only person saddened and frustrated by these men who are so committed to Jesus and who have such valuable thoughts, yet see women’s violation and abuse as so irrelevant and small.

It would be shocking if it wasn’t the dominant reality across the world.  Even Paulo Freire, liberationary leader extraordinaire recounts a story in his seminal book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” about a peasant who beats his wife.  Within the story, the peasant is seen by Freire as one of the oppressed, not as an oppressor of his wife.  The man assault on his wife is blamed (by Freire) on the oppression experienced by the man, not on the man’s choices.

A socialist friend of mine who recently turned 60 has shared with me on numerous occasions the ways in which women were simply expected to accept their oppression sacrificially for the “cause”.  The sexual assaults on women in Occupy camps over the last few years show this is not a historical issue.

A while ago I chatted to someone whose husband had studied the leaders of the great revivals throughout history; Wesley, Wigglesworth and others.  He was hoping to find examples of how to be a good leader and a good spouse.  She explained that he couldn’t find one revival leader who had respected or honoured their wife.  Not one.

Over and over again women’s freedom, liberty and rights are discarded in favour of “the greater good”, whether that be Yoder’s theological insights, socialist utopia or Christian revival.  And at that I really weep.

My sisters are thrown in the gutter; raped, violated, dishonoured.  Their lives and stories are trampled on by those who hold the power, their silence requested, nay required, in furthering the liberation of people groups.  Yet while those who birth all the peoples of the nations are trampled on, nobody is really liberated.

It will only be as the power holders choose the voice of the powerless over the Big Thoughts of powerful men that change will happen.  As they address their blindness and the privilege of not knowing what it means to suffer as women suffer.  When as individuals and as a community we hold to account those who erase the suffering of women, no longer will power holders be able to sell books about Being Human while ignoring victims of abuse.  It’s as each of us speaks out and stands up, that change will happen.  Because until women are free, nobody is free.

The Christian Porn Conversation

Last week I wrote “Porn is not a thing”.  It was a piece exploring the idea of a “spectrum of pornographies” as apposed to seeing porn as one entity.  Today I want to consider the messages we see across that spectrum.


Recently Hannah Mudge posted a fascinating article about a man who spent 5 years filming hardcore pornographic material.  He isn’t “anti” pornographic material and says he doesn’t regret his decision to work in the industry, yet his experiences of filming heterosexual content was on every level different than when filming pornographic content of gay men.  He describes the environment with women in these terms “it almost seemed like an entire gender was being denigrated, like that was the whole point—where very young women were choked and slapped and written-on with lipstick, simply for the crime, it seemed, of being a woman.”  Whereas in shooting gay content he said, “The sadness and the degradation I had come to associate with my job, with videotaped sex for money, was suddenly absent.”


Though this man is part of the very culture he critiques, he raises the greatest issue we face from pornographic material; the degradation, objectification and utter decimation of women.  There are other issues, but fundamentally the many and varied ways the spectrum of pornographies destroys men’s (and boys’) views of women (and girls’) is the greatest issue.  It is also rarely articulated in the Christian “porn” conversation.


The Christian conversation on “porn” has (in the main) these aspects:

  1. Purity: viewing defiles the person looking.
  2. Addiction: people get addicted to viewing and so it becomes treated as a medical disorder.
  3. The redemption narrative: (mostly) men sharing their stories of moving from sin (watching “porn”) to redemption (no longer watching “porn”)
  4. Neuroscience/Intimacy: After Dr William Struthers (neuroscientific theologian) wrote a book covering the ways viewing pornographic content affects the brain and communicated the solution as greater intimacy, this is regularly talked about and he is the go to person Christians usually quote or invite to talk about “porn”.


Though all of the above can be part of the issue, I would suggest of greater significance are the following layers underpinning the spectrum of pornographies:

  1. A gendered analysis: this is about men consuming women.  Man as subject, woman as object.
  2. Industry: people make vast sums of money from selling pornographic material.  Viewers are groomed into harder and harder core porn, in order to bring financial benefit to (mainly) white men.
  3. Power: as we’ve seen in the latest power plays of The Sun around Page 3, pornographic material is more about power than it is about any sort of meaningful sexual experience.
  4. The broken lives: the (mostly) women who are groomed, used, abused and discarded by the industry.


Not only does the Christian “porn” narrative mostly lack articulation of these issues, some elements of Christian culture reinforce attitudes within the spectrum of pornographies.  Talk of manly men, who are aggressive and testosterone driven creatures feeds into the messages of men as animals.  The feminisation of the church conversation perpetuates the view that women are the problem.  Modesty culture at root states “men objectify” so women must cover up, the irony of modesty culture and the pornography industry essentially both treating women as sexual objects should not be ignored.  Even responses to the use of pornographic material is problematic.  Talk of “fighting porn” and the war imagery that it often conjures up does not stand apart from and in abhorrence of the violence across the spectrum of pornographies.  Rather it becomes violent language to respond to sexual violence.


Then there is the lack of women’s voices within the Christian conversation about the spectrum of pornographies.  Women feature usually as wives or daughters of the men using pornographic material.  “What would your wife think?”  “How is this affecting your marriage?”  “Would you want your daughter to be a porn star?”


Women are included mainly only within their relationship to the men using pornographic material.  Just as pornographic material reduces women to ornaments with holes, so this approach reduces women.  Not as far, but still solely as men’s attachments.  Why do women have to be thought of as having a personal relationship to a man in order to have value.  As this edited image powerfully challenges, why can’t women simply be “someone”?


The other way women are included is: “women use porn too you know?”   This isn’t inaccurate, women do use pornographic material.  However, rarely are women spokespeople on this issue, or the ones shaping the conversation.


We need to change the conversation, broaden it, increase the number and diversity of voices.  We need a conversation which fully acknowledges the industry and the money being made, that sees the connection between selfish capitalism and the increase in the commodification of human beings.  We need to recognise the power imbalance and gendered dynamic across the spectrum of pornographies; being willing to look at our own community and the attitudes to gender and power that reduce women and create a deep imbalance of power between men and women.    Until then, we will never delve beyond the surface of this issue.

Guest Post: This Is My Story

I have the privilege of sharing a friend’s story here. She shared with me a small part of her story and I asked if she would like to tell it anonymously, more publicly.  I think she is tremendously brave for having said yes.


I have had this post in my head for a long time now, unsure quite how it would translate on the page and agonising over how to say it.


I was going to say ‘I was a victim of domestic violence ‘but I didn’t like the word victim and then I thought of ‘I am a survivor of domestic violence’ but again the connotations of the word survivor didn’t feel quite right and I could all but stop myself singing Destiny’s Child in my head and that wasn’t it at all. I almost settled for ‘I experienced domestic violence ‘but somehow that makes it feel like I went on a cinema trip or something.


So I suppose I came to the conclusion I should just tell my story and that it would all fall into place, that somehow the words on this page would express what I wanted them to and that actually it’s less about how I say it but more about what I say, what I want to say.


This, my story, has ruminated within me for a long time, desperate to get out but with no outlet.I am not at the stage rightly or wrongly where I can say all of this in any other guise but that of anonymity. I am brave enough to speak it aloud but not yet brave enough to bare all with my name to it.


@God_loves_Women has been somewhat of an inspiration to me, her boldness and passion and her ability to use her story and her experiences to strive for things to be better, for good to come out of evil. Her bravery astounds me. She offered me this opportunity to be able to tell my story when I admitted I didn’t feel I could be brave enough but that deep down I needed to tell it, to say it because I ultimately believe it is a path I have to take to receive true healing from it and to diminish the power it has held over me for a long time.


I recently opened up to a friend about it – I said “I suffered domestic violence’ and they were surprised because I don’t look like I have or act like I have maybe or perhaps I don’t fit the expected appearance or demeanour – who knows? I have thought about this a lot, is there really a ‘type’ who goes through these experiences? Or is it simply what we choose to accept to believe about it? That it’s a particular type of women only, that it wouldn’t happen to us?


It was 1999 and I was a fresh faced 18 year old heading off to university. I had a boyfriend, long term all through 6th form but inevitably the long distance thing didn’t work out. There was also a guy in my halls who was in the group of friends I had made and we hit it off really well. We ended up getting together.


With hindsight, I would love to be able to say that there were clear signs but there weren’t. I also think a lot of my better judgment was perhaps clouded by being in the university bubble, it’s not quite ‘real’ life somehow.


I guess at first I thought he was quite protective of me, or maybe that’s how I chose to accept it. I needed to have a part time job to supplement my loan to be able to survive at university. I worked part time in a local bar. I was very popular at work and got on really well with my colleagues, I also had to put up with a lot of the ‘banter’ and comments from the punters. I could handle it but often my boyfriend would come and sit at the bar and ‘watch over’ me and the situations.


He would talk to me when we were back in halls and say that I didn’t need to work because he would give me the money I earned there, he could afford to look after me so it shouldn’t be a problem. I avoided and ignored getting into this too much for about six months but in the end I left my job. I didn’t feel I could enjoy it in the same way, or stay after shift for drinks.


My course was quite a close knit group and I had a mixed group of friends I spent time with. I had less hours of lectures than my boyfriend so there were often times I was out in the pub or around the town with my course mates while my boyfriend was in lectures. He often commented that the other guys on my course were only after one thing and that I should be wary of them. He didn’t like me spending time with them and was very vocal about it even in front of them at times.


The day before my birthday in my first year we were cooking our dinner in the halls kitchen and we were chatting and I was talking about what we had done on our course that day and he suddenly became really angry, it took me by surprise to be honest as I had no idea where it had come from. “He fancies you and he wants you for himself and he’s laughing at me!’ he shouted at me. I asked him what he was taking about and he continued shouting, threw the bowl of chopped vegetables at me and then grabbed a pint glass and smashed it into his forehead.


At this point, I was screaming for help, for him not for me, because there was blood pouring down his head.


So the night before my birthday we sat in A&E waiting for him to have his head stitched up. I’m not quite sure what explanation we gave to the hospital staff or why now one of them didn’t take me aside and ask if I was ok. But, it didn’t happen. I also don’t know why at that point I didn’t completely freak out about the fact he had behaved that way but he apologised, said it was because he loved me so much and he just wanted me to be careful.


We went out with my course mates on my birthday. Some knew what had happened but none of them really mentioned it, I suppose in a way this further normalised the behaviour to me.


I remember one evening I had been out with my course mates and I came back to find my boyfriend crying in my room listening to Semisonic “She’s gone to the movies” and he was distraught about the fact he was losing me and that there was nothing he could do. I reassured him, he wasn’t losing me at all. I still struggle to listen to that song now or indeed any of that particular Semisonic album which is a shame because it’s a great album.


There was another trip to A&E, for me this time after an argument in my halls room where he had thrown me against the bed frame and I had damaged my neck – luckily not bad enough to need a brace, bruising mostly, but in a way I had wanted a neck brace because I had wanted someone to ask me what had happened so I could tell them, talk about it,


One of my closest friends pulled me aside one night and said he was worried about me because he had seen me happy and I wasn’t happy anymore and he wanted to know what would help. Part of me wanted to say something but I didn’t know what so I said I was fine and he shouldn’t worry


I suppose towards the end of my first year things must have calmed down or I was oblivious to what was going on because we decided that for our second year we would live together. We found a two bedroom flat to rent and all was well, we even went on holiday with his family abroad that summer.


The second year began fine, we had a flat that was our own. I was further away from my course mates but still seeing them regularly. My boyfriend just asked that I be home for when he arrived home for lectures.


I somehow turned into the little housewife. Home by 5pm, dinner cooking, kitchen and bathroom scrubbed and cleaned, hair and makeup done. I had no job anymore, I was given money. As I write this I can’t believe it either, that I didn’t see, that I didn’t recognise what was going on, but I didn’t.


I can’t remember why it happened or quite when but I found myself cowering on the stairs in the flat at one point while he repeatedly smacked the side of my face and my ear. It turned purple. I hid it with my long hair. He apologised, said he loved me, we moved on. I experienced real severe loss of balance and dizziness, I went to the doctor they said I had an issue with my inner ear, didn’t ask about the bruising. I stopped hiding my ear, no one mentioned it, so I didn’t. It healed,


One morning, I woke up and my hair was wavy, an extreme bed head look I guess, he said it looked nice, that I shouldn’t brush the waves out, so I didn’t. I had a lot of bruises on my upper arms and back he gave me one of his jumpers and said I should wear it so I think for a week I went to uni with unbrushed hair and a huge baggy jumper but no one asked me why or said anything so I normalised it all.


Our neighbours called the police one night, because of the screaming, they knocked at the door and I hid in bed. A female police officer came up to see me to ask if I was ok and I said I was fine, I told her that I had really bad PMT and things had got out of hand and I apologised and she left. Said I should call if I wanted to and I remember thinking that was odd, why would I need to call them?


He bought a hifi and was trying to sort out surround sound with wires etc. and got frustrated so he whipped the wires against my back a number of times and when I went to escape upstairs he head butted me in the face and broke my tooth.  I called the dentist desperate because of my tooth, not because of what had happened. They saw me the next day and the dentist mentioned the phrase ‘domestic violence’; and it sounded so alien and I explained to him that wasn’t what was happening to me.


We went to a fancy dress party and he got angry I was talking to a couple of guys from my course so he came up and pulled my hair really hard and called me a ‘slag’. Everyone was pretty drunk so there were some heated exchanges of words but by the next day it was all quite hazy in everyone’s minds so no more was said about it.


There were a whole catalogue of incidents, too many to write, and I didn’t say anything but I did start spending more time with a guy from my course. Nothing happened between us to begin with but then I kissed him and was immediately overcome with guilt. We saw each other for a while, my course mates knew and said nothing. I decided to end it with my boyfriend.


We split up but we still had months left at uni and we were sharing a flat, I moved into the spare room. I didn’t get together with the other guy, it was all too messy. Every now and then at night I would wake up because my ex-boyfriend was in my room, in my bed. It was easier just to put up with it,


An argument happened again, i don’t know why, it was early in the morning, I was still in my pyjamas and he threw me across the landing and kicked my knee, it is still scarred today. I think I passed out because I woke up I’m not so sure how long afterwards without my pyjama bottoms on.


I called the doctor and was seen by a nurse. She told me she was going to document what had happened and that I should go to the police. I didn’t go to the police, I went to the guy from my course, desperate, feeling so awful and in pain and miserable. He was great to begin with, I had a bath at his, he went and picked up some clothes for me and I felt safe with him, until a hug in his bedroom suddenly wasn’t enough for him and again it was easier to just put up with it.


I still blame myself regarding that particular incident and it smarts to write it down and it hurts and it’s still raw because I still can’t forgive myself, I should have known better, I cry as I type this as the judgment that many would heap upon me for all of this I heap on myself and I suppose that’s why I have never said it all because deep down I still feel like I’m to blame.


I sit here now and I can run my tongue over my broken tooth, I can still feel it in my mouth, it has been repaired twice but it sits there like a stone reminder of the mistakes I made and my bad decisions, when I wear a dress, the scar on my left knee shows, to me at least, it reminds me of how I failed as a woman. How I let my own kind down.


I never went to the police, the guy from my course told everyone that I had slept with him and I was shunned and labelled for my whole third year. I ended up sharing a house with four guys I didn’t really know but one of them was key to me surviving my third year because he became one of my best friends and exactly that, he never once tried anything or even entertained the idea of us getting together. I lost touch with him when I left but I am forever grateful to him.


So where am I now? I’m married with a young son and to all intents and purposes I have moved on, all of this that happened almost feels like a different life, like it wasn’t quite real. But typing this has brought out the rawness that still exists and the regret and the blame and the judgment and now I can work through it and make sure it has gone for good.


So why share my story? Why be so honest? Because. Because, I didn’t know that was domestic violence, because I was at university, because of the situation, I didn’t think it counted, I didn’t think anyone would care and on so many occasions people turned a blind eye and that kept me silent.


I write this because it’s not the only story, there are many more, hidden away, untold. I write this because I want to be free from carrying it as a burden in my heart any longer. I write this because it is the truth of what happened and the truth that was never told – not until now. I write this because at last someone wanted to know my story and someone allowed me to speak, to verbalise it and to set me free.

To The Men

I wrote this piece earlier today after reading this article. The article states that 1 in 3 women in the EU will be abused by a man they thought loved them; their partner. Yet the article managed to mention women a lot of times, yet did not mention the men who abused them. The invisibility of the men in this piece is not an isolated incident, regularly articles about abuse of women refuses to mention the men who abused them. It’s almost as if violence against women is a perpetrator-less. And yet it is not.


After reading this article I then went to the gym where I watched Robin Thicke singing about the Blurred Lines between sex and rape and how he wants to give a woman “something big enough to tear her ass in two”. Except the song was silenced, so all that you could see was a music video where fully clothed men gesture at almost naked women who appear to be wrapped in cling-film. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody switched it off. I nearly wept right there on the cross-trainer.


Then the next two music videos were of male performers “featuring” female performers. How apt! This is the lie the world tells women. That we are features of men’s lives. Not people, not human beings in our own right.


And through my headphones I heard music that praised Jesus and declared that we are free because of His sacrifice and I looked at the screen and considered how many women, the world over, are not yet free. And I almost wept on the cross trainer, instead taking my rising anger out on the machine, getting faster and faster, to the point I almost fell off.


I arrived home dripping with sweat and wept hysterically on Mr GLW. This is such a terrible world. And I wrote the words below. Mr GLW advised me not to publish them. He said I would appear as a man-hating, angry, feminist if I did. But I needed to. Because this is how it felt to be a woman for me this morning.


And if you read my words and you feel more offended by what I have written than by the fact that 1 in 3 women is abused by a man, or that a man rapes a woman every 9 minutes somewhere in the UK, or that 140 million girls and women are living with having had their genitals mutilated, or that a man rapes a woman in South Africa every 36 seconds, then you need to consider your priorities.


If you read my words and feel I am alienating men, or being harsh, we are in the midst of a genocide, a war against women, and yet the media want us to believe this is about isolated incidents. It is not. Men abuse women because they believe they own them, and are entitled to do whatever they want to them. This is across the entire globe. No woman, in any community across the world is safe from male violence.


I am married to a man and I have a son and so I know there are good men out there. But until we begin to see this as a war against women, and about global gender relations, we will never see systemic change.


The hearts of my sisters and I break. And the world-at-large remains silent.


To the men

Your kind are raping my sisters

Your kind are killing our mothers

Your kind are reducing my value

Every single day.


And yet, as you hear my words,

You do not feel enraged at your brothers,

At your fathers, at your friends.


You feel enraged with me,

For giving men a bad name.


I do not hate you

I do not know you

But I cannot trust you

Because your brothers are raping my sisters

And the rapists, murderers, torturers

Cannot be identified in anyway

Don’t take up this with me, take it up with your kind


My rights are not women’s rights

My cause is not niche

My sisters are they who brought you into the world

While them who birthed all the people of the earth

Are not human.

Then none are human


The screens show mutilated women

Parts, not making up a whole

And your kind have convinced some of my sisters

That to sign up to this mutilation

Is the route to power


In the church

My sisters are sacrificed daily on the altar of unity

In the media

My sisters are altered daily in the hope of being found worthy

In the home

My sisters are more unsafe than in a dark alley

In the state

My sisters’ voices are silenced


When my sisters are laying in the gutter

Broken, chained, discarded

Who lifts them from the gutter?

Who breaks their chains?

Who walks them to freedom?

Not your kind, but the mothers, the sisters, the women.

Yet my words make you angry with me

And not with your kind.


I want to call you brothers

To bridge the enormous chasm

That stands between our peoples

The sisters and the brothers


So listen to my words

Said by a broken hearted woman

Hold your brothers to account

And help us end this war on women

Letter from a Pastor; How not to respond to a woman experiencing abuse

The following email was sent by a pastor to a woman who is being abused by her husband.  Her husband has been extremely abusive to her and she is seeking to escape from him.  All names and identifying details have been removed, but the recipient of the email has said she would like people to see the reality of how Church Leaders are unequipped to respond appropriately in cases of abuse.  As you read this email, you may think that some of the pastor’s comments or thoughts are correct.  I would suggest that for a couple struggling with relationship difficulties they might be, but where there is abuse, it is not the relationship that needs dealing with, but rather the abuser.

Hi Hannah,


I hope you are doing well, despite going through these difficulties in your marriage.  I thought about responding to your last email; the one you sent after another incident with Saul where you called 911, and where afterwards someone gave you some information about not staying with an abusive partner.


But to be honest, to me it looked like you had made up your mind and that you yourself are looking for a way out of the marriage.  I don’t know everything that has gone on between the two of you, but I do feel as though I know both of you fairly well in some degree.  I know Saul well enough to know that he is a believer who loves the Lord, and has changed in many ways from the way he was.  However, I also know that he is a work in progress as we all are.  He tries to look at many Scriptures with his Saul’s Way glasses on.  He is certainly not perfect, and he does have his quirks, and inappropriateness, but I also know he is not an aggressive or violent person.  He is stubborn and often pig headed, and doesn’t like to lose an argument, but I can say the exact same thing of many people, including yourself.  I do not believe you are afraid of Saul physically, rather frustrated and tired of how he often goes about things.


I also know that you are a believer who loves the Lord, and has had many great experiences in ministry.  However, you too are a work in progress.  You also, like Saul, like to try to look at certain Scriptures, and interpret them to fit what you want.


You two are very different people–different cultures, different families, different ways of looking at the Bible, different ideas of what is appropriate.  So many different things.  But something brought you two together.  If you don’t remember, it was your love and passion for our Lord Jesus.  I think you often forget that and focus instead on all the negative things in Saul–his past, his quirks, his inappropriateness.  (Some of these things he can change, and needs to work on changing, but others, like his past, he can’t change, and you simply need to accept, forgive and try to forget.)


Hannah, I believe that you need to be honest, and decide whether or not you are committed to this marriage–“in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live”.  If you are, then you will try to make things work, rather than always running away (often months at a time) and pointing out the negative, you will need to start working on the strengths and focusing on the positive.  What is going on now cannot help this goal.  Saul is not physical abusive to you.  He can be incredibly frustrating and mentally annoying, but not physically abusive.  And in regards to verbal abuse, in our counselling together, I have witnessed just as much verbal abuse coming from your lips, as I have from his.


If you don’t want to be married to Saul anymore, then just be honest and tell him you made a mistake–that you don’t want to be with him.  Don’t try and find loop holes in the Bible for your mistake or lack of commitment.


The fact is, Jesus said that the only reason Moses made a concession to allow for divorce, in the case of physical adultery, was because the people’s hearts were hard.  This is not what God intends.  If you are looking for a way out of your marriage, then your heart is not in the right place–it is hard.


Now, I know that if you decide to honour your marriage commitment, it will not be easy–nothing worth saving is easy.  It will demand a lot of love, grace, patience, work and sacrifice on both parts. Did I mention grace and patience.  But I believe anything is possible with God.  And I know that God’s will is that you marriage commitment be honoured, worked on, and be something that brings love and joy to both of you.


The last thing I want to do is get in the middle of this very dysfunctional marriage again.  But if I can help the both of you, I would consider it an honour, especially if it will bring peace, joy and love to both your lives.  I hope you know that the tone of this letter is one of love and wanting to help a sister and brother in the Lord.



Blessings and prayers,


Pastor Phillip



(P.S.  I don’t know whether or not you know, but Saul is going in for his major knee surgery on September 13th.  I thought you would want to know so you could be praying for him and his recovery.  Please feel free to reply or call me anytime.

Open Letter to Stormie Omartian

Dear Stormie Omartian,

I have just read your book, “The Power of the Praying Wife” and I felt I must write to share my horror at the message you are sending out with what you have written.  Please do not mistake me as someone who would say this lightly.  I read your previous book, the Power of the Praying Parent, and found parts of it extremely helpful when I was going through a terrible time in my life.


I would like to share a bit more about that time with you, as I hope it will give you some background into my concerns with your book.  It was 6 years ago, almost exactly and I was living in a hospital with my 2 and a half year old daughter and three month premature baby son.  My son’s prematurity was caused by an assault from my husband, who had abused me sexually, emotionally, psychologically, socially, financially and sometimes physically for four years.  I come from a Christian family and have been committed to God my whole life, although this commitment was almost completely destroyed by my husband’s satanic and evil attempts to destroy everything I was.  In a nutshell, that was where my life was when I was given your book, the Power of the Praying Parent.  It was a great comfort to find practical ways of praying for my children, especially my son, in a situation where I could do nothing else, but watch as his life swung between life and death on an hourly basis.  So I thank you for the help you gave through you authorship of that book.


What has concerned me so greatly about the book I have just read, the Power of the Praying Wife, is that if I had been given that book 6 years ago, I would have invariably returned to my husband and would be dead now.  I would like you to understand that, I am not being dramatic or over-imaginative.  If I had returned to my husband, I WOULD BE DEAD NOW.


Instead, I am very much alive!  My son is a perfectly well nearly 6 year old and my daughter is a beautiful well adjusted 8 year old.  I have gone through many hours of counselling and serious spiritual battle to get to the place where I am now: divorced from my first evil and abusive husband and married again to the most wonderful, Christian man who loves, cherishes and respects me with everything he does.  I am healed and whole and restored because I was able to escape, unlike the many women every year killed by a partner or former partner.


I am not a one off case, please understand this.  At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her.  That would suggest a third of the women reading your book are also experiencing abuse similar to mine.


I feel it is important to share with you my specific problems with your book.  I hope you will appreciate this is quite a long letter as I hope to list the many reasons your book would have led me to return to my abusive ex-husband and how throughout it perpetuates the values of abusive men and encourages women to accept and even embrace abusive behaviours.  I will do this by going through the issues one by one.  Thank you in advance for listening to what I have to say.


The Power
In the first chapter entitled “The Power” your first assumption is all women reading your book have some power that they are at liberty to give up to their husband.  Potentially a third of your readers will be abused and without power, to suggest they are to give up this power, is more than just a problem.  It is an impossibility.


In your second page of this chapter you state, “A husband can hurt your feelings, be inconsiderate, uncaring, abusive, irritating or negligent.  He can do or say things that pierce your heart like a sliver.”   At this point you have included abuse as a potential sin a husband is perpetrating against his wife, abuse can never be tolerated and at no point do you validate the  reality that this is wrong and that he should be held accountable for this sin.  In fact I would say that in my position as a domestic abuse awareness trainer, all the behaviours you list could be described as abusive, if they are partnered with a desire to have power and control.


You go on to say that “Many difficult things that happen in a marriage relationship are actually part of the enemy’s plan set up for its demise”  At this point you seem to negate any personal responsibility on the part of the husband for his behaviour.  I am not denying that the enemy isn’t involved in the situation, but it is only through personal responsibility for our choices that we can move forward.  As Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”


You state that we can say “I will not allow anything to destroy my marriage”  but if we live in a world of free will and our husband is choosing to abuse us, without stopping, we cannot stop him.  In fact, by giving us free will God has stated that even He can’t stop our husband abusing us.  If we could stop abuse by prayer alone, surely sex trafficking would no longer be a problem, when actually more and more girls and women are being trafficked and raped multiple times on a daily basis.


You state “You can submit to God in prayer whatever controls your husband – alcoholism, workaholic laziness, depression, infirmity, abusiveness, anxiety, fear or failure – and pray for him to be released from it.”   This seems to suggest the abusive husband is the victim in this, he is being controlled by the abuse.  As a professional domestic abuse trainer, I would like to clarify that abusive men control their victims, they are not controlled by their choice to abuse.  They abuse because they want to and because they can.  The only way a man will stop abusing is if he accepts 100% responsibility for his behaviour, maintains regular accountability and develops compassion and empathy.


You go on to mention “God’s position on divorce”  using the verse from Malachi, “God hates divorce”  to suggest that God is against divorce and we are “grieving him” if we do divorce our husband.  I feel you are offering a rather simplistic understanding of this passage and God’s word  as a whole when you say this.  I would suggest that the reason the passage says God hates divorce is because He Himself went through the pain of divorce in His marriage to Israel.  He had to abandon His beloved due to their inability to love Him and recognise the great love He had for them.  You have said you did not want to grieve God by divorcing your husband, but what about how your husband had been grieving God by his treatment of you.  What about God’s love for you and His desire for you to be everything you can be?  In fact to abused women, you are saying here, “your life is less valuable than your marriage.”  When satan tempts Jesus in the desert, he says, “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.”   Jesus’ response is, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”   We are asking women to put God to the test when we do not see the terrible danger they are in and help them to safety.  Maintaining separation and divorcing an abusive man is nothing short of heroic for many women and we need to celebrate their victory, as God does , rather than condemn them with individual verses taken out of context.


You go on to describe your husband’s behaviour in a way I would define as abusive, “The biggest problem I faced in our marriage was my husband’s temper…He used weapons that left me crippled or paralysed.”   At this point I would point out to you that he chose to do this and nothing you did  caused him to.  You were too valuable to be treated this way.  You seem not to acknowledge this and rather blame yourself for his behaviour, “I’m not saying I wasn’t at fault – quite the contrary.  I was sure I was as much to blame as he, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”


If I had read your words six yeas ago, it would have convinced me my husband was right, I was responsible for the abuse.  It was my fault and it was up to me to go back to him and change myself to make him able to treat me well.  I now know that is the ultimate lie abusive men tell.  It makes us believe we have some power, that we can change things.  And yet we have no power, it is an illusion and it keeps us trapped, unable and unwilling to believe someone is choosing to treat us in this way


You say that when you got to the end of your tether with your situation, “…because I came to God in total honesty about what I felt, He allowed me to thoroughly and clearly envision what life would be like if I left Where would I live, how would I support myself and care for the children who would still be my friends, and worst of all, how would a heritage of divorce affect my son and daughter.”


I have not read a more clear description of how I felt when I was living in a hospital with my children.  Completely hopeless, knowing I would be seen as a failure, losing all that was important to me and most of all letting my children grow up without a father.  It was a terrible picture that I saw.  But in my case God did not show me it.  It was the devil, trying to convince me back to an evil, life draining existence where my children could go on to be emotionally and potentially sexually or physically abused.  You have described the feelings every woman I know who has experienced abuse has gone through, and for many these feelings lead to them going back to their abusive husband, where they  and their children are being continually abused.  There are worse things for children than a heritage of divorce, ask any child who has witnessed their mother being beaten or belittled.


You felt God was calling you to stay and I am not denying that God may have said that.  It breaks my heart however that women who read your book will go back to a life of abuse rather than a life of freedom after reading your words.


You go on to talk about the results you saw as you began to pray, you say, “Little by little, I began to see changes occur in both of us.  When Michael became angry, instead of reacting negatively, I prayed for him.”  Although I don’t doubt God’s transforming power, I find it interesting that your husband’s change related to your changed response to him.  For some men who want to control, as long as things go their way, their behaviour is much more acceptable, obviously this is not the case with many perpetrators, but if every time I behaved unacceptably people adapted their behaviour, I would probably be nicer to be around, not because I had changed but because people were pacifying me.  It happens with 5 year olds, if you give them everything they want, they stop having tantrums, because they don’t need to.


Later in the chapter you go on to say “You have to decide if you want your marriage to work, and if you want it badly enough to do whatever necessary within healthy parameters, to see it happen.”   You seem to assume we all know what healthy parameters are.  I would suggest that throughout the world you will find many different thoughts on what healthy parameters are.  You have so far suggested you are as much to blame for your husband’s abuse as he is, that exposing children to abusive men is preferable to a legacy of divorce and that pacifying abusive men is a suitable way of enabling God to change them.  I would consider all of those outside of healthy parameters.


You say that ”A wife’s prayers for her husband have a far greater effect on him than anyone else’s…”  but then go on to say that, “… I’m not convinced we should depend on our husbands to be the sole providers of [prayer] the best thing for our marriage was for me to have women prayer partners with whom I pray every week.”   It appears from your words that a wife’s prayers are the most effective, but a husband’s are less effective than having prayer partners.


His Wife
Now moving onto the second chapter, “His Wife”, in which you begin by saying, “[You must] maintain a pure heart.  It must be clean before God in order for you to see good results.”   This makes me feel extremely uncomfortable; like prayer is some sort of formula, get the heart right and the blessing flows.  But what about the many pure hearted people who never had their prayers answered, what about the children who pray that sexual abuse will stop and the thousands dying of AIDS who pray they will be healed, who continue to suffer and die.  Where does the formula go then?  It is interesting that Jesus answered the rebel’s prayer on the cross when he had not maintained a pure heart:  “’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’”

You go on to say, “This whole requirement [of a pure heart] is especially hard when you feel your husband has sinned against you with unkindness, lack of respect, indifference, irresponsibility, infidelity, abandonment, cruelty or abuse.  But God considers the sins of un-forgiveness, anger, hatred, self-pity, lovelessness or revenge to be just as bad as any others”   I would like to point out that you start by invalidating the truth of this pain by saying “when you feel your husband has…”, you seem to be suggesting he may not actually have done these things, it is just our perception of what he has done.
Where is your understanding of a God of justice here?   You do not at any point condemn the behaviours you have listed or validate those of us who have been treated in those ways.  In fact you seem to only condemn the response to those behaviours.  Also, please could you explain how we are to forgive when the abuse continues, Jesus said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’”   The cost of forgiveness is great and requires us to truly feel the pain of what has been done to us.  The ability to do this in an abusive environment is impossible.  When we are being abused we are in survival mode and do not feel the true pain of what is happening.  Forgiveness is not an act of consciously forgetting what has happened, this is actually denial, which involves being dishonest to ourselves and others, something unlikely to be supported by the Spirit of Truth Jesus talks of, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…”

You talk about it being painful for us to die to ourselves in our marriages, “…this kind of pain leads to life.  The other alternative is just as painful and its ultimate end is the death of a dream, a relationship, a marriage and a family.”   I would beg to differ, for some women staying in their marriage will lead to ACTUAL death, not metaphorical death, not relationship death, actual real death and for some of the women, their death will be the first time they have experienced peace in a long, long time.

At this point you may be about to point me to your one sentence on safety in the book, “(In fact, if you are in any kind of physical or emotional danger, remove yourself immediately from the situation to a place of safety and get help.  You can pray from there while your husband receives the counselling he needs)”   This bracketed sentence is your one and only attempt at ensuring safety for those reading your book, when statistically at least 25% of those reading it will be experiencing physical abuse.  As a qualified and trained professional in domestic abuse issues I would like to state that this is NOT enough.  You have already listed abuse at least three times as a thing a husband can be “released” from if the wife is willing to pray and be changed for him.  I would also say, as someone who has experienced physical and emotional abuse, I would not have defined myself as emotionally or physically abused.  Most of us women who have experienced it think it is unique to us and in order to survive in an abusive situation, we will minimise the abuse and our level of danger, as will our husband.   He will say that he ‘only’ slapped us or ‘just’ broke our leg and we will believe it really is unimportant.  The sentence you have written is unlikely to enable any woman whose husband is assaulting her to recognise herself in it.  Especially with all you have said previously about it being our fault too, and that we must change to enable our husbands to change.

Later in this chapter you talk of Queen Esther as an example of a truly godly wife.  You describe how she did not, “…run in and scream, ‘Your hoodlum friends are going to ruin our lives.’  Rather she prayed first and ministered to him in love, while God prepared his heart.”   I would like to challenge your idea of Esther as a loving wife.  In reality she was a sexual slave procured by the king to satisfy his desires.  Her waiting was not about love, it was about absolute fear; if she approached him and he refused her, she would die.  Rather than using Esther as an example of a loving wife, she is more suited to the description of a courageous woman, willing to be martyred if there was a possibility it would save her people.

Further through this chapter you begin to look at creating a home.  You state at the offset of this section, “I don’t care how liberated you are, when you are married there will always be two areas that will ultimately be your responsibility: home and children”   You may be under the impression this is true, but in fact this is a complete lie and is based on nothing more than your own personal situation.  I am married to a wonderful Christian man, who is a full time stay at home dad who does the majority of the housework and child-care activities.  I do not in anyway feel more responsible for those areas than him, however I endeavour to share responsibility with him for our house and children.  I am the only financial provider in the house and my husband and I are truly able to live out these roles, without the world collapsing or our children being scarred for life.

You go on to say, “Even if you are the only one working…you will still be expected to see that the heart of your home is a peaceful sanctuary…you will also be expected to be sexually appealing, a good cook, a great mother, and physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit.  It’s overwhelming to most women, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own.  You can seek God’s help.”   As I read this again, I am shocked at your lack of understanding.  The reason that it is overwhelming to women is because it is completely unacceptable and no person, male or female, should be continually pushed to achieve the unattainable.  We do not need God’s help to do everything you have listed, because we are worth too much to have unrealistic expectations thrown at us at every turn.

These expectations are continued as you say, “My husband may not look in the cupboard for a light bulb or a battery for months.  But when he does, he wants it to be there.  Nor does he want to come home late from work one night and find there is no bread for a sandwich.”   My question to you is, why can’t he buy batteries, light bulbs or bread for himself?  He is a grown man and capable of doing these things for himself, just as we are capable of doing things for ourselves.

You go on to say, “Part of making a house a home is allowing your husband to be the head so you can be the heart.  Trying to be both is just too much.  God placed the husband as the head over the family, whether he deserves it or not and whether he rises up to take his position or not.  It’s God’s order of things.”   How can you say this?
Look at what happened with Deborah, “And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.” “Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honour in this venture, for the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.”

And what about God’s attitude to Saul?  “But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.  Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols.  So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
God does not give rights without responsibilities.  Those who do not uphold the position God gives them do not maintain that position.  When Barak would not lead, Deborah took over from his authority.  When Saul dishonoured his position, God removed it and gave it to David.  Men who abuse or dishonour their wives, do not maintain their place as head.
I would also say that you are misunderstanding what it means to be the ‘head’.  It is not an authoritative word; it does not mean to be the chief over the home or the elder of the home.  In fact, “…the emphasis of Ephesians 5 is not on the authority of husbands, but on their obligation to love their wives as they love themselves. In fact, the only mention of authority in marriage is found in 1 Corinthians 7:3-7, where Paul gives husbands and wives mutual authority over one another’s bodies.”

You go on to talk of how we should let go of our expectations of our husbands.  You use the following story to illustrate this, “…my husband called from work and said he wanted me to prepare a certain chicken dish for dinner.  I went to the store got the food, prepared the dish, and when he came home, he walked in the door and said bluntly, ‘I don’t feel like chicken tonight, I want lamb chops.’…I realised it was healthier for both of us if I rearranged my expectations”   I would like to clarify for you that this wasn’t a case of too high expectations on behalf of yourself, it was a case of male privilege on behalf of your husband.  He believed that you as his wife, was there to serve him and he could do what he liked.  This is a form of domestic abuse.  I would say to you and any other woman whose husband was behaving in such ways that you are worth far more than this.  You are not a glorified slave, you are not a possession for your husband to use as he wishes, you are a human being, made in the image of Almighty God, and as such, you should expect more from him and should not allow him to devalue you in this way.

You say “It is interesting that God requires the husband to love his wife, but the wife is required to have respect for her husband…I assume no woman would marry a man she didn’t love, but too often a wife loses respect for her husband after they’ve been married awhile.”   Please do not assume women do not marry men they do not love.  Throughout the world there are many girls and women sold into marriages with men they will never be able to love.  The culture into which this verse speaks is one where women were bought and sold as possessions.

You go on to use Queen Esther as an example of this lack of respect.  “All [the king] asked of [Queen Vashti] was that she put on her royal clothes, don her royal crown, and make a royal appearance for the people he was entertaining.  She declined, knowing full well it would be humiliating for him…She not only wronged her husband, the king, but the people as well.  Unless a wife wants to lose her position of queen of her husband’s heart, and hurt her family and friends besides, she mustn’t humiliate her husband no matter how much she thinks he deserves it.”

Let us clarify a few things here.  It is believed that the king was asking Vashti to “to appear wearing only her royal crown.”  This theory is supported by the statements that the king was very drunk  when he made the demand for his wife to “show the people and the princes her beauty “.  Suddenly this changes the situation from Vashti being disobedient into her refusing to be sexually abused publically for the pleasure of the king.  Rather than vilifying Vashti for her disobedience, we should be celebrating her heroic act of standing up to the king and his abusive ways.  Far from modelling disobedience to the people of the land, as the king suggests; Vashti was standing up for her position as queen, much like Mordecai, later in the story, stands up against Haman, because of his commitment to God.
His Work

As you talk about a husband’s work you state, “…a man’s identity is very often caught up in his work.  He needs to be appreciated and he needs to win, and his work is often a means of seeing both happen.”   Rather than challenge this view, you use it to encourage women to pray for their husband’s to find purpose.  But this view must be challenged.  It must not be acceptable for a man (or indeed a woman, as this is a human problem, not a male problem) to get their identity from their job.  Our identity must first and foremost be found in God, and it is only when this happens, that we will be able to find our purpose.

His Sexuality
In this chapter of the book you make many factual statements that are in reality only assumptions and myths about men and women.  You state that “…for a husband, sex is pure need.  His eyes, ears, brain, and emotions get clouded if he doesn’t have that release…there is a far greater chance of settling the other issues if sex comes first.”   This is an assumption, it is not based on any biological fact.  Men can concentrate and focus on things other than sex and to suggest otherwise is to do men a great disservice and push women into accepting sexual abuse in order to resolve issues.
You at no point in this chapter discuss rape.  You do not mention that it is illegal, you do not explain that sexual abuse, violence, coercion or manipulation is wrong and instead you put all the responsibility on the woman for satisfying the man’s needs, while enabling the man to do nothing to support or honour his wife.

You go on to say, “Sexual problems are quite common because many women don’t have a clear grasp of what God’s view is on the subject…Unless we’re fasting or praying for weeks at a time, or are experiencing physical infirmity or separation there is no excuse not to engage in it regularly.”   I would say most Christian women and men are very aware of this view and I would suggest that this is, in part, why 13% of American married women have experienced rape by the current husband,   and why in the UK, the most common rapists are husbands, ex-husbands, or partners.

You go on to explain that God’s perspective is that “…our body is to be used to comfort and complete the other person.  Something is built up in the man and the marriage when this need is met by his wife.”   You do not however state that the same is so for the wife when the husband, ‘comforts and completes’ her.  You squash men’s and women’s sexualities very neatly into two boxes which do not fit the majority of people.  What of the women that have higher sex drives than their husband, what of those men or women who have been sexually abused?  It is very dangerous to use stereotypes as facts or to assume men and women are in fact biologically opposites.  This is not the case.  To not ask within your book why women are not interested in sex with their husbands is very dangerous.  Maybe they have brokenness that needs healing, maybe their husband has raped them on a regular basis, maybe they need their husbands to give them love in other ways, before they feel able to give of themselves in a sexual way.

Your solution to sexual problems in the marriage are as follows, “When your husband  communicates to you what he has in mind, as only a husband can do, don’t roll you eyes and sigh deeply.  Instead say, ‘Okay, give me fifteen minutes’…  During that time, do something to make yourself feel attractive…Comb your hair.  Wash your face and prepare it with products that make your skin look dewy and fresh.  Put on lip gloss and blush.  Slip into lingerie you know he finds irresistible…While you’re doing this, pray for God to give you renewed strength, vitality, and a good attitude.  Hopefully, when you’re ready, your husband will find you were worth the wait… He’ll be happier and you’ll both sleep better.  This is a small investment of time to see great rewards in your marriage.”    For many women, this advice is a push towards accepting sexual abuse, towards further unhappiness.  Please do not say that we will sleep better as a result of this.  Potentially we will sleep worse, much worse.  I say this from a place of experiencing sexual abuse on a daily basis from my ex-husband.

You briefly mention the situation of a woman who is being sexually neglected by her husband, saying, “…if he is content to go month after month without sex, then something is wrong.  If there is no physical problem hindering him, maybe he’s having deep feelings of failure, disappointment…prayer can help reveal what the problem is and how to solve it.  Get professional help if you need to.”   I would like to know why this is your advice for a man struggling sexually, whereas your advice for a woman is just to get on with it and make the man happy.

Your parting thoughts in this chapter are this, “If you don’t think highly enough of yourself to take care of your body, do it as an act of kindness for him.”   This is yet another unacceptable comment.  How is it right that a “fearfully and wonderfully made” creature of God should be advised by you to make effort with themselves ‘in an act of kindness’ to their husband?  It is not!  If any woman does not value themselves, this needs to be supported and the reasons for it considered and support given to enable her to move forward.

His Affection
You use an example of a couple named Patti and Tom to talk through the issues of a husband who is not affectionate.  You explain how Tom was affectionate only during sex and at no other time and how Patti was finding this incredibly hard.  As she prayed and submitted herself more to God, Patti became sure she deserved more affection and approached Tom, leading to transformation because of Patti’s prayer.  “Tom proceeded differently this time.  He took his problems to his own prayer group of men, who instantly rallied around him.  They decided to not only support him daily in prayer, but also to keep him accountable to show some form of affection to Patti each day.”   This worked and Tom became affectionate and Patti became much happier.

Throughout your book you focus on the wife’s prayers for her husband and the power they have, but in this situation it was the accountability of Tom’s prayer group that enabled him to change.  Why not have a wider focus in your book?  Not only is accountability mentioned regularly in Proverbs (11:14, 15:22, 24:6, 27:17), Jesus makes it clear what we should do with believers who continually ignore the accountability of other Christians, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”

Why does your book not focus on this teaching at all?   Why is the focus on the wife and her responsibility to bring about change?  What about Jesus’ teaching about those who are sinning taking responsibility, about those who are around that person not enabling them to continue with their sinful behaviour, but instead challenging it and being willing to provide consequences if necessary?

In this chapter you again box men and women with no factual basis to do so, “Affection isn’t at the top of a man’s priority list because men often see sex and affection as being the same.  A woman’s greatest need is for affection.”   I can assure you my greatest need as a woman is not for affection, and my husband’s greatest need is not for sex.  I do not know many women or men who fit into the boxes you have given them and for those who do fit into the boxes you have given, this doesn’t make their behaviour acceptable.  When my husband and I first married, any time we had an argument, he would say the reason he had behaved in a certain way was ‘because he was a man, and that’s what men do.’  I will not accept this.  If it is because of who he is that is one thing, if it is because he is a man, it is as unchangeable as his genitals.  If it is because of who he is, his history, background, experiences and personality, they do make him who he is, but they are changeable and if he loves me and I love him, we will work to change the parts of us which hurt the other, and with God’s power working within both of us, we have done and will continue to.

His Temptations
In this chapter you address a man’s ‘temptations’, you talk of a friend, “…whose husband had numerous affairs before they finally divorced.  I questioned her choice of ‘friends’ but I never questioned her godliness or commitment to pray.”   It is interesting that you blame her friends, who I am not saying are blameless, but the constant factor is this woman’s husband.  It is important to understand that this is an abusive tactic, an abusive man will attempt and potentially succeed in seducing our friends.  This not only means we lose any confidence we have, but also that we have no friends and are isolated from those who could have supported us.  I know this to be true as my ex-husband regularly employed this tactic on my friends, some did say no, while others didn’t.  I do not absolve women who have relationships with married men of any responsibility, but I would not be surprised if your friend’s husband was abusive.  I recently spoke at a church where a woman spoke to me afterwards and disclosed that until I spoke about the abuse I had suffered, she had never realised that her nearly 40 years of marriage had been abusive and she wanted to cry, finally her pain and brokenness over all that time had been validated.

His Mind
In this chapter you talk of the attacks of the enemy on a man’s mind, “I finally realised that all men have an enemy who wants to undermine what God desires to do in their lives.  Women have that same enemy, but men seem to be more vulnerable to his attacks in certain areas.”   I feel you are undermining men’s abilities to fight off the enemy and elevating women to a higher plane, where they are less likely to be unable to resist the enemy.  This is blatantly untrue and is not in anyway factually based.  It again reinforces the need for women to take responsibility for men, when men in fact need to take responsibility for their own lives.

His Fears
This chapter talks of praying for a man’s fears.  “Men are often susceptible to [fear] because without even realising it they get attacked by the ‘what if’s’.  ‘What if I can’t make enough money?’  ‘What if something happens to my wife and children?’  ‘What if I get some terrible disease?’  ‘What if I’m overpowered or threatened?’  What if I can’t perform sexually?’  ‘What if no one respects me?’”   I would suggest to you that this type of fear for men comes from the thing you call ‘God’s order of things’.  While men are pushed into the man box of having to be in charge, earn the money, achieve, make the decisions, be the head, they will feel this fear, because your interpretation of the Bible means that men, without any capability to do so, are expected by God to be in authority, purely because they are the owner of a penis.  I believe the best way to stop men having this type of fear is to challenge the theology and tradition which puts such high expectations onto men.

His Purpose
You write in this chapter of a praying for a man to find his purpose.  Towards the end of the chapter you address the issue of a woman’s purpose saying, “Whatever God has called your husband to be or do, He has also called you to support it and be a part of it…For some women this means creating a good home, raising the children, being there for him, and offering prayer support.  Other women may take an active role by becoming a partner or helper.  In either case, God does not ask you to deny you own personhood in the process, God has called you to something, too.  But it will fit in with whatever your husband’s calling is.”   I know you are saying that God has a purpose for me, but the emphasis you give is that my calling is secondary to my husband’s.  It is always going to be part of my husband’s calling to raise the children and create a good home, in partnership with me.  Sometimes it is the woman who is called first and the husband who is to support her, and although you do not condemn this, you do not mention it either.

His Choices
This chapter is about men’s choices and how we need to pray for them to enable them to make better choices.  You again make very stereotypical comments about men, “We have to remember that all men think they are doing the right thing.  ‘Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.’ (Proverbs 21:2)”    I think you will find the word man is this verse is actually about men and women, “People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.”   This is not about men, we all like to think we are making right choices.

His Priorities
Yet again in this chapter you stereotype men, “Men have many different ideas about what their priorities should be…if you want your husband to place you as a priority over work, children, friends and activities, you need to do the same for him.”   Of course we should prioritise our husbands, if we want them to prioritise us, but what about when we do this and he still places other things above us.  You do not really give an answer to this.
His Fatherhood
You quote your husband in this chapter saying, “We get so caught up in doing what we do in our work that we’re afraid we haven’t done enough with our children.  Or we’re afraid [we] haven’t done well enough, or we’re missing something.  It becomes even more of problem with teenagers.  We fear we can’t communicate with them because we’ll be perceived as old and irrelevant.”   I would suggest to you and your husband that this isn’t a specifically male concern.  It is something that concerns me and I think most parents.  We are concerned that we don’t get the balance right, but that isn’t something to do with our gender, more to do with our humanity and love for our children.
You go on to say, “Thoughts of failure and inadequacy are what cause many fathers to give up, leave, become overbearing from trying too hard, or develop a passive attitude and fade into the background of their children’s lives…Mothers get overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, too, but only the most deeply disturbed ever abandon, ignore, or hurt their children.”   Again you seem to be making a factual statement based not on reality but on your own perception.  Men leave due to selfishness, not inadequacy, it is an excuse to justify hurting, abusing, neglecting or leaving your children.  The reason men leave is because society has accepted men doing so.  If a woman leaves her children she is vilified, if a man does, it is just another absent father.  In contrast, single fathers are seen as heroes, whereas single mothers are looked down upon and seen as failures; yet another example of women being responsible for men’s failings.  Also in this chapter you miss out completely on the fact that there are men who abuse their children, and nowhere in the book do you suggest women leave to protect their children, I would go as far to suggest that your book is likely to convince women who are being abused to stay, putting their children into further danger and causing them further damage.

His Emotions
In this chapter you write of Don who, “used anger to control his family.  Each family member was so concerned about his temper that they lived their lives on tiptoe doing his bidding out of fear, not love.”   This is defined as abuse.  As most professionals working with situations of domestic abuse can tell you, abuse is not about anger, it is about control.  Although you talk of how Jenny, Don’s wife, saw transformation when she prayed, after she, “learned she not only didn’t have to tolerate his anger, but going along with it was disobedient to God…”   there are many women who are not so blessed.  Abuse is unlikely to stop through prayer alone.  You state that, “The best gift a wife can give in secret to calm her husband’s anger is to pray for him.”   I would say this is dangerous advice for anyone in an abusive situation, controlling others by behaving in a way that appears angry will escalate and to advise people to pray, rather than find safety is completely irresponsible.
You say at the end of this chapter, “Don’t stand by and watch your husband be manipulated by his emotions.  Freedom may be just a prayer away.”   Men who control others by behaving in a way that appears angry are not being controlled by their emotions, they are controlling others by the way they behave.  The man who is abusive is not the victim, those around him are.  It is important to understand that men who choose to behave in these ways do so because they believe women are inferior to men, something your book has reinforced over and over again.  If we are to stop abuse, we must challenge it.  Slavery did not stop through prayer alone, it was through action, prayer, political intervention, hard work and massive sacrifice on the part of many courageous people that it ended.  We will not stop abusive or unhealthy marriages through prayer alone.  Although everything Jesus did was committed to prayer and He spent much time praying, He was always involved in practical action and challenge.  Prayer is impotent without action.

His Obedience
In this chapter you spend time looking at how to pray for a husband to become obedient to God.  As you go through the chapter you say, “If you husband’s disobedience to God’s ways has already brought down your house in some manner, know that God will honour your obedience and He will see that you will not be destroyed.”
If this was true, why are women who have been obedient to God for years continually being abused by their disobedient husbands?  Some to the point of their death or the death of their children?  When you have stated so strongly that divorce involves disobedience to God, you are advising women to stay in abusive relationships, waiting to be murdered in their obedience.
In summary I would ask you to consider what I have said.  I and my children are some of the ones God rescued, but many, many women will not be rescued, especially if they read your book and the many dangerous statements it makes.

Thank you,