Being a writer sometimes means that when I toss words out into the universe, someone (or someones) will not like them and will toss some words right back at me. This has happened to me quite often and I totally get why; because I’m not writing fluff. I’m writing about things that some people don’t like to think about and because I’m writing about things that some people totally disagree with. Get it. And I’m fine with it.
So I’m here to set the record straight, in case anyone cares or thinks of me in wonky ways.
I don’t hate men. I love men, actually. I love my husband. I love my sons. I love my Dad. I love my stepdad. I love my father-in-law. I love my brothers and brothers-in-law. I love my guy friends who have stood by me and fought for me and protected me. And I’m even grateful to all the boys who have broken my heart along the way, for the lessons I’ve learned from them.
I don’t hate marriage. I love marriage. I wanted to be married my entire life. I think marriage is beautiful. I know many gorgeous marriages where the husband and wife treat other with honor, where they enjoy each other’s friendship, where they are partners who fight together to push back the darkness, where honesty reigns and vices are laid down and grace is shown.
I don’t hate the Church. I love the Church. I love the church that I spent nineteen years being a part of. And I love my church home now. I have learned and grown so much during my time within the spaces of my faith communities, and I will be forever grateful that Jesus led me to these precious churches.
And yet. And yet nothing is perfect.
I love men, but I’ve got some men issues. And I’m working through them, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been but I’ve got a ways to go. And that is why I write what I write.
I love marriage, but my marriage was hard and I failed and it ended. I still grieve that loss, the greatest loss of my life so far. I’m getting there, and I’m definitely not sad all day every day anymore, but it still saddens me. And that is why I write what I write.
And I love the Church, but my church experience was not without its flaws. And that is why I write what I write.
I have the absolute privilege that my first marriage and church experiences were intertwined in the specific ways that they were. Twenty or so years ago, I asked for help; I got some significant help, but we didn’t get holistic help. (Side note: I take responsibility for this. Though in part I didn’t know any better, and I was young, and I did ask, I wasn’t persistent enough and I didn’t ask loud enough and long enough until I was truly understood. I know better now.)
But fast-forward to a few years ago and I asked for help and we got it: holistic, time-intensive, long-term, both-parties-taken-to-task serious help. And I can’t help but wonder if what we experienced – a fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that looked at both of our lives and hearts full on – had occurred twenty or so years ago when I first asked for help, if my marriage might have had a fighting chance. There is, of course, absolutely no way to know this, but I have a deep and distinct hunch.
And that is why I write what I write. Not because I’m standing up for women at the peril of men and marriage but because I think my marriage could’ve been saved if things had been caught and stopped earlier. That’s why I want to shake the Church by the collective shoulders sometimes and push back and speak over the din because there are women who are dying in their marriages; because I know marriages can be turned around; because I believe that every marriage can be saved if both parties are held accountable.
And so this is why I write what I write.
Because it’s not okay for a husband to abuse his wife.
And it’s really not okay if the husband claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
And it’s extremely not okay if his church leadership knows about it and doesn’t do everything in their power to stop it.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to hit his wife and for people to stand by and do nothing.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to force his wife into having sex and for people to stand by and do nothing.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to hide bottles of alcohol or drugs around the house or text another woman all hours of the night or watch endless hours of online pornography or call his wife an idiot or a lying moron or to tell her condescendingly that her behavior would be explainable if she were bipolar or to tell her that her saying she wants them to get help is bringing Satan into their family, all while people stand by and do nothing.
It is totally and completely not okay.
I love men. I love marriage. I love the Church. But my heart is broken for hurting marriages and I’ve heard too many horrible stories from too many hurting women. And I’m standing up for them. For the rest of my life, I’m standing up for them. And I am begging the Church to stand up too.
Because I believe in a God who loves us and wants us to be whole and can restore absolutely anything, if we contend for the vulnerable and if we hold people accountable and if we help each other and really listen and if we pray and believe.
If you would like to partner with me to help hurting women by bringing them hope, go here for more information: www.patreon.com/elisabethklein.