Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Today Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by the GOP because she began to read words that would impugn the character of our about-to-be Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. (They weren't her words, by the way, they were the words of Civil Rights icon, Coretta Scott King.) That reminds me of the time I got divorced. What do the two experiences have in common? I, too, was silenced by a group of men so that I could not impugn the character of another man--my husband. Did I mention that he happened to be the pastor of my church?

When I left him, I had no intention of retribution or burning bridges. I was so hurt by his years of rejection, I just wanted to crawl away somewhere and recover so that I could be a better mother to our four children. For years, I had considered a separation, had begged for us to go to marriage counseling. But as the pastor of a fundamental church, he was more concerned about "what it would look like" if his congregation knew his marriage was in trouble. And let's face it, he had told me on more than one occasion that the most important thing in his life was "his church." His church?

When his daily criticisms and sneering disdain had hammered me down to the point of being clinically depressed, a family friend took me aside and said this: "Honey, I know you pray for him. But you've been praying a long time. What if you pray for the next ten years and after all that time, he's still the same guy?" OK, Dean used a stronger word than "guy."

And he was right. 35 years later, my ex is still the same "guy." But I haven't been married to him for the past 34.

When I left, he wrote up a "position paper" on what to do about me. Yep. It's true. I read it. He had a conversation with the elders in the church and decided they all had to protect their wives from my "influence." (Because they thought, if the wives knew the truth, they'd all start packing their bags?) On a Sunday morning, he stood in front of his congregation and read his pseudo-official document which decreed that no woman in the church should speak to me--not in person, not by telephone, and if they saw me in the street they were to turn and walk away (which, by the way, some of the women did when I happened to see them while doing business in the same city).

Weeks later, after I'd moved fifty miles away, he issued another statement from his pulpit: That I'd had a "breakdown." That I'd "gone away" to try to "recover." That he was "working on his marriage." (Little did the people in "his church" know he'd already started dating one of the nice single ladies in the congregation, who called to ask me if I intended to come back--because, she said, his statement had confused her regarding their relationship.)

Bizarre? Yes. Is it unusual for men to attempt to silence women who speak out against them? Oh, absolutely not. Right now I'm thinking of the couple who used to live next door to me. The wife called the police on her husband one day because "he had his hands around my throat and he just kept squeezing." His side of the story (which he later told to me) was: "I wasn't trying to hurt her. I just wanted her to stop talking."

If you're still wondering why women poured out into the streets on the day of the March for Women across this country, those are a few more good reasons.

The Republican dominated senate--the male dominated senate--made Senator Warren stop talking today because they couldn't stand to hear her read the words of truth in Coretta Scott King's letter. Warren's response was: "They can shut me up, but they can't change the truth." Amen. In spirit, I'm holding your hand, sister, and I'm holding it high. The more we are silenced, the louder our voice becomes.


  1. Wow. This is what happens. I just married the PK. Getting divorced was rough, but sometimes you have to recognize emotional abuse and walk away. Thank god I had a supportive pastor (not his dad, but still a pretty conservative Baptist church). Today I don't feel welcome in those houses of worship. They kidnapped Jesus and declared him a Republican.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Oh my gosh, Jimi, if I weren't already working on two books, I'd immediately start work on the next one: Kidnapping Jesus. That's exactly what happened, and, like you, I don't feel welcome in most churches (though I have found a couple that are all-embracing--include the backsliders and sinners such as myself, lol). Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. I am so sorry that this is your story, Kay. Unfortunately is is so true. The papers here in Denver often tell of some man who cannot stand to lose his property, er . . . I mean his wife--same thing, no?--so he shoots, strangles, or some other way kills her. How can churches and people who fervently subscribe to them, churches mired in the Old Testament, call themselves Christian. There is absolutely no LOVE in sight.

    1. Art, I wondered that for a long time. I had to take a few Psychology classes in college before I began to understand. Many people who attend churches do so out of fear--not all, mind you, I see and acknowledge those who love a God figure. They fear death or judgment or the afterlife. That fear sometimes makes them desperate--to hang on to archaic beliefs (homosexuality, other religions, etc, are "wrong"). And desperate people do desperate things. It seems almost comical to say, but the men in my church were fearful that their wives would begin to demand that they be equal partners in a marriage. Hell, I wasn't even asking for that. I just wanted my husband to spend time with his children. I just wanted a real family instead of a fake one. At any rate, you are absolutely correct; the New Testament--the New Deal with God--is not about rules, it is about love and forgiveness. When we keep those characteristics front and center, we become better people... and we become "Christ-like" (aka Christian).