John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

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Should She Return to Her Abusive Ex-Husband, Who Found Christ?

To those following it, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to my series, 7 Reasons Women Stay in Bad Relationships. I've been under a tight deadline for a book---but that's done. My next post will be my follow-up to Women in Abusive Relationships: Wave Good-bye to Your Parents.

Before writing that, though, I wanted to address this comment, recently left by a woman in response to my piece, Christian Leaders: For God's Sake, Stop Empowering Wife Abusers:

Dear John,

My sister was abused by her husband for years. After she left him the first time, he became a Christian, and looked to fully devote himself to Jesus and his church. My whole family was happy for him; and after about six months, my sister returned to him. Well, he reverted back to his old ways, and finally went to jail for attacking my sister. She left him again; and then returned to him again. This continued to happen. Last year, she asked us for help once again, and once again left him. This time, though, she filed for divorce, and said she was done with him. It has been almost a year since she and her kids left him. But he is once again claiming that Christ has changed him, this time for sure. He has been preaching forgiveness to her, sending her gifts, and slowly manipulating her. My family and I are so scared that she is going to return to him. He has her convinced that God would not want her to be alone and divorced. So as a Christian myself, I am wondering how many times does a person need to find Jesus? He is playing on her Christian values and morals to win her back. What would your advice be for someone in my sister's situation? Thank you.

My advice to your sister would be to move as far away from her ex-husband as possible, and to stay away. It's great that he's found Christ (again); it's great that he's a new man with new ways and an all-new personality. Let him go be a new man with someone else. But what he's saying to your sister makes it clear he's no more a new man than changing his socks would make him. If he were the Christian he's now claiming to be---if God had really opened his heart to the nightmare of what he's been and done---then he'd be too ashamed, humble, contrite, and respectful of your sister (not to mention her family) to even be thinking about telling her what she now should and shouldn't do. He should be listening, not telling. And the fact that he's telling her what God wants her to be and do? That's not someone who's found God. That's someone who's using God.

My advice to your sister would be to run, run, run---slam her door, bolt it, change her phone number, buy and use how to learn a gun, and get a restraining order against her ex. Do whatever it takes, but keep him out. She needs him back in her life like she needs a brain tumor. Because, again, he hasn't changed. Not with the things you've told me he's said to her. He flunks the "But Now I'm a Man of God" test.

And as for the forgiving thing: It's perfectly all right and even honorable for your sister to forgive her ex. She should. But just because you forgive someone doesn't mean you have to remain in relationship with them. They're not the same thing at all. I might forgive a man for knowingly selling me a terrible car he said was great---but that doesn't mean I have to buy another car from him. Forgiving someone isn't supposed to make you stupid. Forgive him? Fine and good. Return to him? Fine and good luck.

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