January 21, 2013 in Sovereign Grace Ministries
Kris says: If you’re visiting the site because you’re interested in the lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries, you can view the original filing here. The amended filing is here. For those of you who are new to the site and are interested in understanding some of the assumptions and the mindset that could cause leaders to behave in ways described in the lawsuit’s allegations, this post from 2011 does a good job of connecting the dots.
Here is commenter “Wow’s” story:
I haven’t revealed much of my story, and it doesn’t warrant the horror of the sexual abuse victims involved in the lawsuit. However, I read and understand exactly how and why parents accepted the church’s stance on these abuses, because I did the same thing in a different way.
When we came to SGM (then PDI, the original), my husband was caught up in living a very ungodly life including multiple counts of adultery. I was encouraged to win him over with my silent, submissive spirit. I tried very hard to do this, including much prayer, fasting, and worship. One day he “felt the Holy Spirit” enter him and gave his life to the Lord. I was so relieved, as were our children, that our family would finally be healed, as we had suffered numerous separations. He confessed to me all of his past infidelities. My heart was ripped to pieces, but through counseling at the church, I was made to see how sin was sin and I needed to forgive him and he needed to forgive me. God’s best, I was told, was that we be reconciled and forgive one another. All sin was equal. There was no room for my feelings, and somehow every time I walked out of there the focus seemed to be on how I needed to change.
Two years later, my husband got into another affair, this time producing a child. I wasn’t told that I had to reconcile with him, nor was I released to divorce him. I was instructed to seek God for an answer. Understand here is where the system speaks for itself. There is no glory or redemption seen in divorce (or there wasn’t at the time), so the unspoken pressure, if you’re to live up to the SGM family model, is to overcome the sin of the partner through forgiveness. There’s no mention of forgiving but moving forward in a manner consistent with the destruction a spouse has done.
I forgave my spouse, and we moved away from SGM. This ultimately was a great thing, because I stopped expecting him to live up to that model and he stopped cheating. However, I went away believing in a God who neither cared about my feelings or truly loved me, as He sovereignly allowed all of these things to happen to me when he could have prevented them. I was depressed and suicidal, but remember, it was a sin to seek outside professional help. I couldn’t get counseling or medical treatment. The problem had to be rooted in sin–my sin, and I needed my self-confrontational manual to dig it out.
When anger and resentment finally dared to surface, I filed for a divorce. I walked away from God, committed adultery, and did attempt to end my life, ending up in an ICU with my husband by my side. From that point on, he endeavored to love me like Jesus, religion aside. It took quite a while, but he became that husband that SGM men ought to endeavor to be. For him, it isn’t a role he’s playing in order to live up to the image, rather it’s laying his life down in order to treat me as his own body. I’m happy about that, and I’m thankful for him.
Why then, do I still resent SGM’s spoken and unspoken pressure to be in faith for my marriage? Because it was without compassion toward my feelings and experiences. I was the one constantly having to strive to do what they themselves didn’t know a thing about, but would they would learn through future generations of their own. I resent that I wasn’t told that God was as faithful and redemptive in divorce as he was in marriage….like I had to make the miracle happen with my unswerving faith. I resent that I was taught that spanking my children would change their hearts, and that living the formula would produce godly offspring. I now have godly offspring because God was faithful in my giving up on the formula. I was on a leave-of-absence from my faith for the three years following my departure from SGM, yet my children began to thrive when I stopped seeing only the sin in them and started enjoying them as the individuals God had created them to be. I adore them now, whereas before, I saw nothing but the sin I needed to weed out in order to keep them out of hell.
It’s all grace, I know that now. I’m still healing from the legalism and the formulas I absorbed. I truly don’t think they understand the hierarchy they create in their polity. Their own lack of willingness to honestly communicate true and deep failure works to hold themselves up in front of wives whose husbands’ real and deep failures seem so pathetic by comparison. So many wives have confessed to me their habits of comparing their husbands to the leaders, with the husbands coming up short.
When will they realize they are not serving the members while holding onto their pride? When will they say, “I stand up here and pretend to be more than I am so that you will revere me, yet I work to lower your view of who you are and who your family members are in Christ”? That’s what I want to see. Tear down the pedestals. Look for God’s redeeming grace in failure as much as you do success. Understand that we are doing our best to live godly lives in a fallen world, and for Pete’s sake, stop expecting us to be perfect in what we say or do, and how we deal with our concerns with you. Listen. Hear us. And consider, truly consider, coming off your prideful pedestal and repenting for the mistakes of the past.