I have a question about reconciliation. My wife came from a home that she claims was spiritually, emotionally, and physically abusive. Her parents, like us, profess Christ. We actually have gotten along with them in the past even though these problems have always been near the surface. But about a year and a half ago, my wife was meeting with one of our church elder’s wife (who is a counselor) about some difficulties she was having with her mom and establishing boundaries with her which concerned our children. Our kids were telling us disturbing things that was occurring in their home (ie. the two older children were split up and forced to sleep with her parents who were sleeping apart from one another and they were fighting in front of our kids) The elder’s wife informed my wife about some things we didn’t know: her parents were going through severe marital problems and her father had a severe pornography addiction. They were at that time under the care of the church. The elder’s wife encouraged my wife to be protective over our children when it came to their home.
Base on this, my wife and I implemented a policy that our 6, 5, and 2 year old children could not go to their home alone with this issue going on. We told them that they could come to our house or we would accompany them at their house, but there would be no more over night stays and no alone time until we felt it was safe. They then went to the senior pastor of our church to complain and elicited his help in undoing this boundary. I tried to communicate with the senior pastor that there were a lot of issues here that he was not privileged to and that this is a sure land mine, but he got involved none the less and attempted to use his authority to undo our boundary. My wife confessed shortly after this that she remembers her father abusing her sexually when she was a little girl.
Eventually, this boundary became a totally broken relationship. My wife tried to follow the Matthew 18 model and eventually confronted both of them both in a closed door meeting with the senior pastor, two other pastors and an elder. But this confrontation did not heal the division and there was not any steps made on her parents part towards reconciliation. They basically deny practically everything my wife confronted them on and they would like to argue perspectives which is not going anywhere. The church is at a loss on how to fix this. There is so much dysfunction in this relationship and so much I didn’t even share here. We actually just left the denomination to escape this mess with her parents because they were insisting on church authority to be used against her. They have a very strong patriarchal ideas. And her dad works as the church’s financial officer. I want to be a peace maker in this situation, but I am not sure how to do that or even if I should.
The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). You have made good faith efforts to reconcile with your in-laws. Some people will not reconcile. Some people will work to have everything go their way regardless of what anyone else thinks or what the Bible says. You must protect your wife and children. You cannot knowingly put your children into harms way. Keep the boundaries in place.
If you want more information about reconciliation get the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. It is the best book I know of on the subject.
~ Pastor Chris