2 October 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

My stepdad was abusive to me when I was growing up. He would scream at me and my sister, deny us food, and sometimes he would hit us when he got really angry. I moved out of the house the minute I turned 17 and have cut him and my mom off completely. 

Now I’m getting married. I absolutely do not want my stepdad or my mom at the wedding. But the pastor of my stepdad’s church says my stepdad is sorry for how he treated us and wants to make amends. The pastor says it is my duty before God to forgive. My sister is on my side and my fiance will support me whatever I decide, but I’m starting to feel guilty. Will I be disobeying God by refusing to allow my stepdad and mom at my wedding? 

Signed, Protecting Myself

Dear Protecting,

You have absolutely no obligation to your abuser. Your wedding is about you and your fiance celebrating your commitment to love one another for the rest of your lives. You get to decide exactly who you want to be there with you for this celebration. 

A lot of churches misunderstand grace and forgiveness. That is why churches can be like flies to honey for serial abusers. In their effort to extend grace to all people, churches fail to protect victims of abuse and continue to empower abusers. One “heartfelt” repentance scene, and abusers are welcomed back with open arms. 

It is likely the pastor knows only what your stepdad and mom have told him. He may mean well, but he should not be meddling. There is no reason for you to feel guilty about not wanting someone who harmed you at your wedding. Release that guilt to God. Jesus was a champion of the vulnerable and abused. He would not be angry at you for setting clear boundaries to protect yourself. 

I hope you, your fiance, and your sister have a merry, delightful, and safe event, and may your love continue to grow like a tree planted by the waters. 

Aunt Sevvy

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identities. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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