Porn destroys relationships.  If you doubt it, read this book edited by Melinda Tankard Reist.  It’s not a Christian book, but it details the inherently destructive power of pornography and that’s something all Christians need to realize.   

A couple of the stories are from Christian women.  One of them is Kate.  She tells the story of how she married after 18 months of dating.  She discovered her husband’s porn use some time after they said their vows.  His porn use combined with abuse (including rape) to end their marriage.  Through it all, the church wasn’t as helpful or supportive as it could have been.  That leads her to write this section, ‘My Advice to the Church’:


“Even in the thick of it, I could see that lack of awareness and education among church leadership, and an unwillingness to refer people to local specialist organisations and enlist professional advice, drove the way it was handled.  It sickens me to think of the next woman to approach them for help and to think she will be treated the same way as I was.  The pressure was on me to forgive my husband and return to the marriage.  Thankfully, I was determined and stood my ground that abuse is not okay and I refused to be treated that way any longer.  How could something that is illegal and something that our community stands against be accepted as okay by the church?  My heart breaks for those women who accept bad advice and return to the relationship and more abuse.

I felt like I was never seen or heard.  I tried to speak a couple of times with church leaders, but their responses were always along the lines of, ‘You need marriage counselling,’ or ‘God has it all under control.’

I didn’t see the situation for how it really was until I decided to leave my husband.  I approached my church small group leader with the support of a friend I trusted.  I poured out everything – disgusting details of abuse for years and years.  My leader was shocked, we cried together.

But the main leaders decided to handle it themselves.  I stayed at the house of one of them for a week, with my children.  They said they wanted me close to counsel me (although they had no qualifications).  I was in survival mode, having to look after my two young kids in someone else’s house, while going through an emotional storm.  My husband was harassing me, and the leaders were daily drilling me for details about whether I was seeking God’s will.

Although I had told them about my emotional and psychological suffering and the financial control, gaslighting and manipulation, they were stuck on the sexual side.  I had to speak to pastors who I barely knew and tell them all the same details.  I was told I was making a ‘big accusation’ and was made to feel like I needed to prove my story.

I took a trip to the beach to have some space to think and breathe.  I felt at peace, free and protected by God.  I was going to leave him for good.  When I contacted my leaders to tell them, I was told God’s plan for my marriage was reconciliation, and that he was going to heal both of us and we were meant to be together.

I realised then that I was really on my own and was going to have to fight alone.

The leaders told my friends to ‘give me space.’  I don’t know why.  They haven’t spoken to me since.

I was being harassed, stalked, and abused via social media, texts, and emails by my ex.  I told the church leaders this, and they basically told me it was my fault, because I wasn’t responding to him and giving him what he wanted.

When I did find the courage to go to church, not a single person looked at me.  I felt invisible, unwelcome.  I received nothing, not even a text to see how my children were coping with the separation.  I left with minimal possessions, inherited debt, no money, no place to live, no furniture and no support.

My ex-husband received meals, visitors, a mentor, financial advice, legal advice, and someone offered to be his personal trainer.  He had a community around him.  I am appalled the tables were turned on me, and despite the abuse I disclosed, somehow he became the ‘victim.’

I decided to stop being a part of that church and to find a new church community.  I just wish that the church could have admitted that it didn’t know how to handle the situation.  I wish they had referred me to a local family violence organisation, and let the professionals lead the way.  I wonder how different my experience would have been if they had done that.

I wonder how different my experience would have been if I had landed on my leader’s doorstep with a beaten up, bruised face showing evidence of physical abuse.  Would the response have been better?  Would I have been sent back into that situation?  For the God I know, abuse or mistreatment is unacceptable.

There needs to be training of church leaders to see signs of abuse, and to support victims.  There needs to be a shift and an awakening for churches to see that this is happening under their noses. 

I don’t want others to experience the same pain I have.  Please church leaders:

  • Trust what women tell you.
  • Check your attitudes and put aside your personal beliefs and opinions.
  • Admit when you don’t know how to handle a situation.
  • Partner with local organisations in the community specialising in abuse.
  • Train your leaders about abuse. 
  • Have procedures, plans, and protocols in place.
  • Open your eyes to what is happening within the community.”  (pp.159-161)