Close up of the hands of two people (one male, one female) sitting opposite each other at a desk. The woman holds a mug, the man holds an open Bible as if flicking through it. Text over the top: Gregoire, Grudem and grounds for divorce: why didn't Jesus mention abuse?

Gregoire, Grudem and grounds for divorce: why didn’t Jesus mention abuse?

For people who suffer marital abuse, divorce is a significant and important way for them to escape harm (or at least reduce it) and rebuild their lives.

Despite this, the church has long held that divorce is moral only when a spouse has committed adultery or desertion. Remarriage after divorce has also been widely prohibited.[1] These teachings have been largely based on the gospel passages where Jesus discusses divorce, as well as one of Paul’s letters.

Views have certainly diversified amongst Christians, but even today, I read statements like ‘the marriage bond cannot be dissolved.’ Or that while divorce is ‘sometimes necessary due to abuse, it is neither required nor encouraged.’ (Which seems a bit contradictory.) Or, ‘in pastoral counseling, restoration of marriage must always be first [sic] goal.’

My personal view would largely align with Sheila Gregoire (emphasis mine):

I’m having to delete a lot of comments on the blog today from people saying that divorce is never a biblical option. I find that sad. I know God hates divorce–but He hates people being wounded and abused and betrayed, too. And Jesus gave us some reasons for divorce. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am very pro-marriage and anti-divorce, but more importantly I’m pro-truth and pro-healing.

In that post, which she wrote in 2015, Sheila observed that the Bible appears to be silent about whether abuse is a reason for divorce—because it’s not explicitly mentioned in Jesus’s teachings or 1 Corinthians 7:12–15. However, she argued that we can still deduce that spousal abuse is a legitimate reason, given what the rest of the Bible reveals about God. 

Fast-forward to March 2020, Sheila wrote another post commenting on conservative theological heavyweight Wayne Grudem. In late 2019, Grudem made a public u-turn, saying that the 1 Corinthians 7 verses were applicable to more than just adultery and desertion. 

Grudem now believes that the biblical text supports the idea that abuse, even in its non-physical forms, is legitimate grounds for divorce. He bases his argument on an analysis of how other ancient Greek sources used the phrase ‘in such cases’. He found that the phrase ‘referred to more kinds of situations than the original example that was being discussed.’

Then we get to today and why I’m writing this post. 

Continue reading Gregoire, Grudem and grounds for divorce: why didn’t Jesus mention abuse?
Close up of a pair of purple crocuses in bloom. Text over the top: Some thoughts on being an asexual Christian married woman. Light in Grey Places

Some thoughts on being an asexual Christian married woman

This is a long-overdue post in response to those who’ve asked me to write something about asexuality and theology. I wasn’t sure where to begin, so I figured I’d share some observations from my own experience.

Obviously, my experiences won’t be shared by everyone on the ace spectrum, but I’m hoping they’ll provide some conversation starters. 

Continue reading Some thoughts on being an asexual Christian married woman
Picture of someone's hands holding a copy of Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Text over the top: Why Love & Respect's CHAIRS acronym isn't about genuine respect

Why Love & Respect’s CHAIRS acronym isn’t about genuine respect

So, I have a theory about this whole idea that women want love, but men want respect. 

In short: the people who promote this notion use the word ‘respect’ to mean something different to what I think it means. 

If you’re new to this whole ‘love vs respect’ controversy, it’s easy to find in Christian circles, thanks to a popular marriage book by Emerson Eggerichs. The title? Love and Respect

Continue reading Why Love & Respect’s CHAIRS acronym isn’t about genuine respect
Baby-gro laid out with an ultrasound photo nearby. The baby-gro says "For this child we have prayed". Text over the top: Children of prophecy and prayer in the Bible: which parent did God tell first? Light in Grey Places

Children of prophecy and prayer in the Bible: which parent did God tell first?

The angel Gabriel famously announced to Mary that she would become miraculously pregnant with Jesus, and later the same message was given to Joseph (presumably by Gabriel, though the text doesn’t say). However, by my count, there are 13 stories of special pregnancies or prophecy over newly-born babies in the Bible. For each of them, I ask which parent did God tell first?

Continue reading Children of prophecy and prayer in the Bible: which parent did God tell first?

Does the Bible speak against marital rape? Yes… I think it’s hidden in Jesus’s teachings on divorce.

Content note: this post discusses purity culture, divorce and marital rape.

The UK only formally recognised marital rape as a criminal offence in 2003. That is, within my adult lifetime. 

It took that long partly because of something the Chief Justice said centuries earlier. It was published in 1736: 

“But the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract.”

Sir Matthew Hale

In 1991, the House of Lords deemed this statement as “based on a fiction.”

Their ruling was part of a landmark case where a husband appealed his guilty verdict of attempted rape. The couple had already separated when he came to where she was living, physically assaulted her and attempted to rape her. He said it was not possible in law for him to rape his wife. The lords disagreed and upheld the guilty verdict.

Continue reading Does the Bible speak against marital rape? Yes… I think it’s hidden in Jesus’s teachings on divorce.
Silhouette of a woman from behind, sitting on grass overlooking the sea in the evening light. Text over the top: Paul's letter to his prodigal daughter. The paradigm shift hidden within 2 Corinthians 10-13. Light in grey places.

Paul’s letter to his prodigal daughter (and the paradigm shift hidden within 2 Corinthians 10–13)

This post was first published in tandem with the 2021 spring issue of CBE’s Mutuality magazine,Making Peace With Paul.”


Did you know Paul had a prodigal daughter? I don’t mean ‘prodigal’ in its literal sense of ‘wasteful.’ Rather, her actions broached a level of hurt and family disgrace similar to the prodigal son in Jesus’s parable.

And, like the loving father who welcomed his son home, Paul longed for restoration and responded to his daughter with immense compassion.

You might wonder how I can say this, given that Paul never married or had his own children. But this daughter I’m referring to was not an individual person. She was the church in Corinth.

A few months ago, I realized Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians was essentially one of loving concern. Not only that, but its later chapters are like that of a father seeking to restore relationship with his prodigal daughter.

Again, how can I say this? Because in 2 Corinthians, I see allusions to one of the harshest laws in Deuteronomy concerning women, sex, and virginity.

Before I go on, I should warn that the laws I’m about to discuss are extremely violent. However, I believe reading Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians through this lens, thinking about what he says and—more to the point—what he doesn’t say, gives insight into his character as a man of compassion, humility and grace.

Because, despite the violence in Deuteronomy, there’s no violence in Paul’s letter.

Continue reading Paul’s letter to his prodigal daughter (and the paradigm shift hidden within 2 Corinthians 10–13)
Close-up of a bride's bouquet with pale flowers. Text: Proving My Virginity: Deuteronomy, Pap Smears and the Hymen Myth. Light in Grey Places

Proving My Virginity: Deuteronomy, Pap Smears, and the Hymen Myth

In writing this post, I was one of the Top 15 2020 CBE Writing Contest winners

This article first appeared in CBE’s blog, Mutuality, on September 23, 2020 (www.cbeinternational.org).

In a couple of places I have reproduced the text of the relevant verses; in the original, only references were given.


When I first received a letter offering me a routine pap smear test, I replied saying I didn’t want one. Why? I wanted my hymen to remain intact until I was married. 

The nurse who followed up took some persuading when I said I was celibate, but she respected my wishes and conceded that the risks of cervical cancer were significantly reduced while I was sexually inactive. She did however express some bewilderment at how many young women, especially those with religious backgrounds, turned down cervical screening. It’s offered free of charge in the UK where I live and can be lifesaving.

The risk of cancer had never entered my mind. All I was concerned about was doing abstinence, marriage, and sex the “biblical way.” That meant leaving my hymen alone until I had penetrative sex for the first time, which I hoped wouldn’t happen until I was with my husband, on our honeymoon. Then, and only then, did I want this thin membrane inside my vagina to break and bleed.

Well, I didn’t bleed. 

Continue reading Proving My Virginity: Deuteronomy, Pap Smears, and the Hymen Myth
Page from Luke 15 where Jesus tells the parable of the lost son. Text over the top: I wrote a play about the prodigal son's mother, step-mother and half-brother. Wanna read it?

I wrote a two-act stage-play about the prodigal son’s mother, step-mother and half-brother. Wanna read it?

People have asked about the prodigal son’s mother, but I’ve never heard anyone ask what Jesus’s parable would look like if the two sons had different mothers. But that’s what I’ve done in this play.

I believe Jesus told this parable to deliberately target honour violence. Compare it, for example, with Deuteronomy 21:18–21, the law of the “stubborn and rebellious son.” It has a very different ending.

What’s more, if you look it up, you’ll see that just before that law there’s another one about a father dividing his property between two sons. Except in Deuteronomy 21:15–17, the sons have different mothers. 

That was my hook. And it puts a whole new light on the older son’s words at the end of the parable:

Continue reading I wrote a two-act stage-play about the prodigal son’s mother, step-mother and half-brother. Wanna read it?

Everything wrong with the Nashville Statement: Article 01: the meaning of marriage

You remember the Nashville Statement, right? No? OK… 

Imagine Martin Luther in 1517 when he nailed his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, inviting a public debate on the church’s flagrant injustices. 

The Nashville Statement was nothing like that. 

Though it was published in a year ending with the number 17. 

Fourteen articles, from conservative evangelical Christian leaders (some of which were prominent Trump supporters), the Nashville Statement was an overtly sexist, homophobic and transphobic exercise in ideological line-drawing, dressed in theological language. 

CONTENT WARNING: This post reproduces some of its sexist, homophobic and transphobic language and arguments. 

Continue reading Everything wrong with the Nashville Statement: Article 01: the meaning of marriage
Toy version of the rose from Disney's Beauty in the Beast within a glass ball. Text over the top: Transformation isn't powered by love, but by a person. Some thoughts on the Holy Spirit (and my favourite Disney movie)

Transformation isn’t powered by love, but by a person. A few thoughts on the Holy Spirit (and my favourite Disney movie).

The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his twenty-first year. If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope, for who could ever learn to love a beast?

Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s animated adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was the favourite of my childhood years. One cold winter’s night, an enchantress asks a young prince for hospitality – offering him a single rose. But the prince selfishly refuses and as punishment, she turns him into a beast. 

When Disney’s live action adaptation was released, I went to see it in London. Many of the audience came in costume, buzzing with excitement and taking selfies, particularly in the foyer where there was a life-size replica of the enchanted rose.

As I watched, I actually found myself puzzling. Why people were doing this?

Continue reading Transformation isn’t powered by love, but by a person. A few thoughts on the Holy Spirit (and my favourite Disney movie).
Picture of Hebrew to English dictionary open on the word sakab meaning to lie down, rest, or sleep with. Text over the top: What was the Hebrew word when David had sex with Bathsheba and does it imply anything about her consent?

What was the Hebrew word when David had sex with Bathsheba and does it imply anything about her consent?

TL;DR two different Hebrew phrases are used and no, neither one implies that Bathsheba consented. 

CONTENT WARNING this post discusses accounts of rape in the Bible. 

Continue reading What was the Hebrew word when David had sex with Bathsheba and does it imply anything about her consent?
Picture of the feet of a man and a woman standing, facing each other in the middle of the road; the woman wears high heels. Text over the top: The prodigal and prostitutes -- and the surprise gender-flip in Jesus's parable

The prodigal and prostitutes – and the surprise gender-flip in Jesus’s parable

For a little while, now I’ve been furrowing my eyebrows at one particular line in Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son. It was niggling at me and puzzling me in equal measures of concern and confusion. 

Until I realised that the line in question was a very deliberate gender-flip. 

It even challenges that ancient double-standard where women are stigmatised for certain kinds of sexual activity, but men aren’t.

Allow me to explain. Grab a cuppa, this post is 2,000 words.

Continue reading The prodigal and prostitutes – and the surprise gender-flip in Jesus’s parable
Black and white drawing of a man being fired from his job and leaving the building. Text on black background: The six most satisfying decisions I made in 2020 (#4 commissioning this artwork) workthegreymatter.com

The six most satisfying decisions I made in 2020

I want to remember some of the positive things that came out of 2020. 

Disclaimer: I’m sharing this post because giving myself permission to do these things was a big deal for me; maybe my story will encourage other people. But I wasn’t living under a rock. I know I was lucky to be able to invest in myself in these ways. Investing in other people was also a big priority in 2020 – it’s just not one I want to blog about. 

Here are the six most satisfying decisions I made in 2020 (not necessarily in order).

Decision #1: Starting singing lessons

In Christmas 2019 I thought it might be fun to record my favourite carol: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Recording my voice has long been a dream of mine. I even bought a pre-amp before I had any microphones to plug into it. 

Anyway, by 2019 I had my mac, GarageBand and a Røde microphone – and knew how to connect them. So, I recorded myself. 

It sounded rubbish. 

Continue reading The six most satisfying decisions I made in 2020
Woman sitting on a rock, wearing jeans, facing away, watching the sea. Text: Initiative is not a sin. Even when you're waiting on God. workthegreymatter.com

Yeah, I know Sarah didn’t wait on God, but choosing to act is not a sin.

When I was growing up, there was a lot of talk in church about discerning God’s will and waiting for God’s timing. Your career, your finances, your health issues, your love life — nothing was exempt from the Good Christian’s responsibility to talk to God and hear what he had to say.

And if he didn’t answer, we had to examine ourselves — because maybe he had answered and we weren’t listening? Maybe we just didn’t like what God was saying?

Maybe we were the problem.

As I sit down and reflect back over the last 20 or so years of my life, I’m beginning to see how this has been problematic for me. On several levels.

Continue reading Yeah, I know Sarah didn’t wait on God, but choosing to act is not a sin.
Teal backdrop with vase of purple tulips on wooden slat floor, with the words: I took the biblical book of Esther and wrote a one act stage play. It's a duologues, called "I Will Hide My Name." Wanna read it? workthegreymatter.com

I wrote a one act stage-play based on the biblical book of Esther – wanna read it?

I’m not sure who exactly out there might be looking for a theatre play about the book of Esther, but if you are and you’re reading this, please do get in touch in with me. Because I’ve written one and I’d love for it to be performed. It’s titled: I Will Hide My Name.

Short synopsis:

For people who don’t know the book of Esther: Haman, the highest official in Ancient Persia, interviews a Jewish prisoner, who appeals to him to spare her life and that of her people. But why is this prisoner wearing the robes of royalty? And does Haman even realise?

For people who already know the book of Esther: Before approaching the king, Esther appeals Haman to revoke his decree to annihilate her people. He scorns her petitions for peace and only too late does he realise she’s the queen.

Continue reading I wrote a one act stage-play based on the biblical book of Esther – wanna read it?