Naghmeh Abedini files for legal separation

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TylerR's picture

Editor

Perhaps we should leave the poor folks alone? 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I can't comment on the rationale Mrs. Abedini has for this, but it strikes me that we need to pray for these guys.  Pray that they work things out per Matthew 18 and all.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

Naghmeh Abedini Reveals Why She Filed Domestic Relations Case Against Pastor Saeed:

"I do deeply regret that I hid from the public the abuse that I have lived with for most of our marriage and I ask your forgiveness. I sincerely had hoped that this horrible situation Saeed has had to go through would bring about the spiritual change needed in both of us to bring healing to our marriage,"

"Tragically, the opposite has occurred. Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children,"

"It is very serious stuff and I cannot live a lie anymore. So, I have decided to take a break from everything and seek the Lord on how to move forward,"

"I want our reconciliation to be strictly based on God's Word. I want us to go through counseling, which must first deal with the abuse. Then we can deal with the changes my husband and I must both make moving forward in the process of healing our marriage,"

"In very difficult situations sometimes you have to establish boundaries while you work toward healing. I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved,"

"I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer. We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed. I believe in a God who freed Saeed from the worst prisons can hear our plea and bring spiritual freedom."

dmyers's picture

Shameful behavior on her part to be airing this out in public while he was in prison, then to hit him with a lawsuit (and more public statements) the day he gets off the plane in Boise.  It's my understanding they attend a Calvary Chapel church.  I'm not impressed with the apparent lack of any meaningful role for their church in this mess.

GregH's picture

dmyers wrote:

Shameful behavior on her part to be airing this out in public while he was in prison, then to hit him with a lawsuit (and more public statements) the day he gets off the plane in Boise.  It's my understanding they attend a Calvary Chapel church.  I'm not impressed with the apparent lack of any meaningful role for their church in this mess.

Maybe just maybe you should have some information about the subject before you decide to start blaming a victim of abuse for trying to protect herself.

dmyers's picture

GregH:  Virtually every word of your response is plainly wrong.  I have plenty of information about Naghmeh's betrayal of her husband directly from her own mouth -- she has been in full running mouth mode (albeit usually couched in spiritualese) in the media, on Twitter, and on Facebook for months now, during almost all of which time the accused has been in no position to defend himself against her accusations.  I'm not blaming the victim for being a victim (if she is a victim); I'm blaming her for betraying her husband publicly instead of handling the matter (if there is a matter) in a biblical manner.  Also, unlike you, I'm not assuming (based on no evidence other than her vague and often completely nonsensical accusations) that she is a victim.  Quite the double standard you have:  she's a victim because she says she is; he's an abuser because she says she is; you have tried and convicted him without hearing any contrary evidence from him, while I am criticizing her on the basis of her own words.  (You realize you're ignoring his restrained public statement recently that included the statement that much of what she has said and the media has reported is not true, and Franklin Graham's statement along the same lines?)  If her objective is to protect herself (rather than, say, get massive attention/sympathy, trash his name, tilt the playing field for a divorce she wants, clear the way for another suitor, keep the public donations for herself, etc. -- all equally if not more likely possible alternative motives at his point), she could have done that perfectly adequately before he was imprisoned, early in his imprisonment, or now through her church rather than in the media.  Again I ask, where is there church in all this mess?

dmyers's picture

Here's an account of the (still incomplete) police report of the alleged abuse:  http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/community/boise/article58590133...

Note (because the news article deliberately does not) that under the Duluth Model of abuse that is almost universally followed in these types of incidents, if it had been Naghmeh on the computer and Saeed had closed the computer and taken it away from her to prevent her communication with her family, those acts alone would have constituted abuse.  Note also that he specifically denied pushing her to the police and there was no trial to determine who was telling the truth; instead, he opted to accept the plea deal he was offered (not an unwise decision even if he didn't push her).

GregH's picture

If she is a victim (and I am going to take her word for it that she is), she did not "betray" her husband. She owes him nothing except a separation or divorce. You do not betray an abuser; you get help and separate from him.

It is true that neither of us know for sure what is going on there. Until we do, it might be prudent to just not condemn a victim. I am not saying he was an abuser. I am just telling you you have no right to trash her when you don't know the truth.

I am not sure what you know about how the church has handled this mess. But based on the church's history on dealing with these issues, I don't blame her if she did not ask her church to handle it. In too many cases, the church's response has been to cover up for an abuser and blame the victim while telling her she just needs to be a better wife and more submissive.

Finally if you feel her actions/words have been somewhat irrational, I would suggest you do a little research on victim psychology. It might help you understand why victims are often irrational.

dmyers's picture

So the conclusion is, cry abuse and throw out everything the Bible says about marriage and dispute resolution, make no attempt to involve the church but just assume they'll mess it up, and take it to the media while you're husband is in a foreign prison because he won't recant his Christianity.  OK.  Got it.  Apparently feminism is very strong in fundamentalism.

GregH's picture

You need to do some research on abuse... If there is real abuse in marriage, it is not a real marriage. It is an abuser/victim relationship. No, ideas like "wives, submit to husbands" do not apply anymore. The victim needs to leave.

Yes, I am a proud feminist. Thank good for feminists who fought for some semblance of gender equality over the past century. I am not a fan of the Good Old Days of 100 years ago where women were property in every sense of the word.

Bert Perry's picture

Now Julie Anne (periodically a contributor here) has her biases, but here's some things she's learned about the case.   More or less, Mr. Abedini did plead guilty to domestic violence in 2007, and this, as well as some use of internet pornography (of what sort I do not know), was known to the body that ordained him before he went to Iran.  These are not facts subject to JA's biases; they are pretty darned objective.

So what appears to be going on here is that Calvary Chapel and others seriously dropped the ball in their ministry to Mr. Abedini, and I would presume that is why Mrs. Abedini went to law. At this point, we need to pray that both Abedinis are convicted of their need to find a local body of believers that takes discipleship, to include church discipline, seriously enough to love them with all of their virtues and faults and confront them on the latter.

And let's be blunt here; you probably have the Abedinis in your church.  Not necessarily as a pastor, but there are people who are struggling with their temper (and its expressions), pornography, and the like.  How are you going to disciple them and not drive them from their families and church?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

I reject many of the claims in Julie Anne's blog. Without the likes of the ACLJ and Franklin Graham pestering the Obama administration as well as European countries, I doubt Saeed would be free.

As for Franklin Graham, his organization offered to provide a place for the Adedini's to live in NC while getting care and counseling. From what I can tell, Naghmeh rejected it wholesale, including getting a court restriction to keep Saeed from going there with the kids.

What does all of this mean? Apparently the stress of Saeed being in prison for years took its toll on Naghmeh. That is understandable. As for the abuse and pornography I have no idea. The police report on the incident Saeed pled guilty to tells of a minor case to me. People often plead guilty to things so that they can move on...

I have no idea as to what happened and when. What I do know is that people see what they want to see. If they want to stand for women against abuse, people are making Saeed look like the worst husband out there. Others see a gold digging wife who got a little too comfy living off of the proceeds she gained while he was in prison.

What strikes me as odd in this is it is clear that Naghmeh has no trust in Saeed whatsoever. For her to change from warrior for him to describing him as an evil porn-addicted unapologetic wife beater was fast and sudden. It could be true. It could be a false.

I would appreciate it if EVERYONE prayed for them to have a reconciliation.

 

Julie Anne's picture

My ears were itching.  Bert, thank you for linking to my blog. I don't expect even my regular readers to agree with me. I do enjoy healthy dialog. 

Mark, what claims are you rejecting?  I spent a considerable amount of time researching and formed my opinions based on the many primary source documents that were readily available online (and linked to them).

Greg is right. When there is abuse, there is no marriage. We hear people talking about reconciliation, but that is the wrong focus. Usually the abuser is in denial that he has a problem and has no desire whatsoever to get help. I have asked a handful of pastors who deal with domestic violence as a primary part of their ministry and 100% of them said they have never seen an abuser come to full repentance. Knowing this, the wife must get away and protect herself and their children. 

I have a lot of respect fo Naghmeh NOT going to Graham's compound for "counseling."  Abuse is not a marital issue. The abuser is the issue, not the victim.  Anyone who understands abuse dynamics would NEVER counsel a husband/wife together in which there is abuse. For Graham to recommend they seek counseling and work on their relationship shows that he has no clue how abuse situations should be handled.  He could have been putting her in harm's way.  Also, legally, if she were to take the children out of state it could have affected custody arrangements.  She was right in remaining at home and seeking legal protection.

dmyers, are you a pastor?  What would you do if a wife came to you and told you she was being abused?  How would you respond to that? I'm troubled that it seems your default mode seems to be to not believe Naghmeh. 

 

dmyers's picture

GregH and Julei Anne:  It appears that you've allowed the zeitgeist to take precedence over scripture.  Yes, sometimes real domestic abuse exists, including in some Christian marriages.  And in those situations, I have no sympathy for the unrepentant abuser.  Are you two objective enough, however, to acknowledge the legitimate studies showing that domestic violence against husbands occurs at least as frequently as the other way around?  Are you objective enough to grant that a wife's verbal abuse of her husband, including screaming, hurling insults, and so forth -- particularly in front of the children -- is just as wrong as the same behavior from the husband?  Do you acknowledge that divorce courts frequently see false allegations of abuse as a child custody ploy?  Are you interested in truth enough to assess the Abedinis' situation on its own, rather than colored and likely distorted by your previous bad experience with a particular church or society's and law enforcement's entrenched assumption that domestic violence/abuse goes only one way?  Your previous comments indicate that you're not, which calls into question the reliability of your arguments and your criticisms.

The scriptural passages on marriage, the spouses' joint and separate responsibilities in marriage, separation, and divorce are clear.  Likewise, the scriptural passages on dispute resolution (in Matt. 18 and 1 Cor. 6) are also clear.  Nothing in any of those passages makes an allegation of abuse an exception to the rules.  Nothing in any of those passages supports the radical idea that "there is no marriage" where there has been (or allegedly has been) abuse.  I note that neither of you made any effort to support your position from scripture.  I think there's an obvious reason for that.  The scripture is also clear that men and women both are depraved and perfectly capable of manipulation, deceit, and seriously bad behavior in and out of marriage.  So it is unbiblical to buy into the current culture's message that a woman's allegation of abuse should always and automatically be believed and her husband's denial of her allegation should always and automatically be disbelieved.

Julie Anne, I am not a pastor (you can breathe a sigh of relief).  But I have been a deacon attempting to deal with some very troubled marriages, I have dealt with my own very troubled marriage, and I am a trial attorney with 30+ years of experience sorting through competing versions of the same event to attempt to arrive at what really happened.  I also take the Bible seriously on marriage, divorce, and dispute resolution.  If you were to take a more objective look at Naghmeh's historical behavior and public statements, you would realize that there are major inconsistencies there.  If you were at all interested in an unbiased assessment of what we know so far, you wouldn't dismiss Saeed's (and others') denials, nor his imprisonment and testimony through his imprisonment.  You would also acknowledge Mark Smith's point above that even the one-sided record of the 2007 incident reflects a minor case, especially if it was not repeated (and we have no indication from anyone that it ever was).  You would also acknowledge that Naghmeh's admitted role in that incident was itself abusive. If your response is that there is no such thing as a minor case, then you demonstrate that it's not possible to have a rational discussion with you on this topic.

Also, both of you have missed my primary point:  there is no excuse for how Naghmeh has behaved in this matter, regardless of the truth of her vague accusations and especially if she is in any way overstating (or lying about) her grievances.  She has clearly relied on the expectation that people like you would believe her entirely and unhesitatingly and that you would rush to judgment and excommunication of Saeed without ever having heard anything from him in defense.  You have even approved of her unscriptural divorce filings (you can't respond that she has "only" sought separation because, according to you, the alleged abuse means automatically that there is "no marriage" any more).  If she had grievances before Saeed was imprisoned in Iran, she should have taken them to her church and submitted to their discipline process (short of actual physical abuse, which there is no indication was occurring, and which she should have dealt with through law enforcement if it was).  If she felt she had grounds for divorce, she should have taken that issue to her church, again submitting to their discipline/dispute resolution process.  If she truly wants reconciliation, which she has said she does, she should never have impugned her husband publicly and made the likelihood of reconciliation much more remote.  If he was somehow abusing her from prison and enjoying a cushy imprisonment complete with 24/7 access to a phone, the internet, pornography, etc. -- allegations that have yet to be explained in any sensible way -- she should not have told everyone in this country that he was isolated from all but the most infrequent contact with the outside world and otherwise mistreated in his imprisonment.  However you want to couch her actions while he has been half way around the world and in no position to defend himself and now that he is home and she has refused to communicate with him other than through public court filings, her behavior has been shameful.

I urge you to drop the filter of feminism and apply the filters of scripture and reality.

Bert Perry's picture

Dmyers, I agree with you that abuse in itself does not ipso facto break the marriage.  I disagree with Julie Anne on that one with you.  I would, however, suggest that if we follow the Matthew 18 process--with the caveat that the victim does not have to again face her accuser alone, since she faced him (or he her) already during the abuse--we are very likely to find out that the abuser is, in fact, not a brother, and therefore he is going to end up separated or divorced from his wife, and separated from the church.

But let's parse this out in Naghmeh Abedini's world. Again, we know for a fact that Mr. Abedini plead guilty, and that his church apparently knew of this and other issues and ordained him anyways.  These facts are not up for debate; they're entered in court and quotes by the participants.   So she's tried Matthew 18, and the church has flat out dropped the ball.  It's made things worse, moreover, by ordaining him when 1 Timothy 3 suggests that he ought to be rejected (one woman man, temperate, not violent, etc..), and then sending him to Iran, where he's immersed in that culture and subjected to serious trauma in a porn-laden Iranian prison.  

Side note; our society, including fundamental churches, listed abandonment along with adultery as cause for divorce.  

And now he's coming back from an abusive society where female victims are often gang raped and murdered because of the "damage done to the family's honor."   She's heard some of these cultural cues in their phone conversations.  So given that the church has dropped the ball per Matthew 18, what is she to do?

She files for separation and goes public because that is her only recourse.  You might actually say that she's doing what the church should have done per Matthew 18:17.  Find this embarrassing?  Me too.  It's what happens when churches drop the ball with Matthew 18.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

This was a situation where Neghmeh's  church failed her. So if she was thrown to the Sharks she did what she had to do as Bert pointed out.  If their church was with her we never may have heard about any of this.  I know a church that handled a situation that was close to my brothers family. I don't know the details but it dealt with abandonment by the husband.  The wife submitted to the church's authority and made every attempt to save the marriage.  This was a 10 year process until the church granted her permission to seek separation  and divorce. It was then and only then that wife who is a believer moved forward with the divorce.   I believe this is the biblical process DMeyers is talking about.  If 10 years is not enough I don't know what is.  Obviously the church in question was not willing to hang in there hence the current situation. 

Mark_Smith's picture

Your claims that the motivation for Franklin Graham and ACLJ are purely for their own benefit, which is patently ridiculous.

Also, while Saeed pled guilty to a specific abuse charge in 2007, that does not mean he continued to abuse Naghmeh before or after that event.

You then claim Saeed is unqualified for ministry based off of nothing but Naghmeh's facebook comments. Odd.

You seem to suggest Graham was nefarious in offering counseling in NC. Odd. Weird I'd say.

You seem to imply Saeed is some unrepentent criminal and wife beater based off of nothing but Naghmeh's facebook comments, which can be seen to be from a woman looking to benefit financially from all the money she has received over the years.

Let me say, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE TRUTH IS and neither do you.

Mark_Smith's picture

Do you have knowledge that Naghmeh's church has given her permission to divorce? How do you know that?

GregH's picture

I will readily admit I don't know the truth in regards to exactly what abuse occurred. What is interesting though is the reaction. For sure, it indicates that the church's uneasy tension with feminism (a noble thing even if it has excesses) has created some unhealthy attitudes toward abuse that inexplicably exist to this day.

Never would I have guessed that we would still have people claiming a woman is wrong for separating from an abuser whether the church "allows" it or not. And yet we do... Not just as has been hinted at in this thread but in actual situations I have unfortunately seen first hand.

Julie Anne's picture

Your claims that the motivation for Franklin Graham and ACLJ are purely for their own benefit, which is patently ridiculous.

Ridiculous based on what, Mark, your opinion?  At least I provided factual documentation.  

Julie Anne's picture

Do you have knowledge that Naghmeh's church has given her permission to divorce? How do you know that?

I am troubled by this statement. What it says is that church leaders must be convinced beyond a doubt that there is abuse going on before they will grant permission to get divorced.  Oh boy - - I wonder how many deaths have occurred because of this. Abusers by nature are narcissistic, manipulative, conniving. How do you think they are able to get away with abusing for so long???  Because they hide it.  Yet pastors think they have an inside look into the actual lives of wives inside their residences to see how an abuser treats her physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually?  That's putting pastors on a pretty high pedestal.  Do you realize that if you are wrong by saying she doesn't have permission to get divorce when there actually is abuse, you are further abusing her?  This is called secondary abuse:  spiritual abuse.  Now she has been abandoned by the church, the place where she should be able to go for refuge.  

Do you know how many people I connect with you now refuse to go to churches because no one believed them and their abuse?  I try to be nice here, but some of you are perpetuating the problem in modern church and why there are so many Dones.  Please educate yourselves on abuse and how to respond appropriately.  The church in general is very uneducated on this topic.  The "do no harm" is an expression that should be very high on a shepherd's role in a person's life.  Please make sure that when someone comes to you with claims of abuse, that your first response is "do no harm." 

 

 

Julie Anne's picture

You seem to imply Saeed is some unrepentent criminal and wife beater based off of nothing but Naghmeh's facebook comments, which can be seen to be from a woman looking to benefit financially from all the money she has received over the years.

I fail to see how she's going to be making any money when DeMoss group said they are no longer representing Saeed/Naghmeh. Your claims are unsubstantiated. 

We have seen nothing public about Saeed's repentance, either from the court case in 2007, or later. What we do have evidence of is a man who went into ministry within a year of the court conviction in which he pled guilty. Are you ok with that?  Are you okay with Saeed having a pastor's title with that kind of family disarray?  Your anger at Naghmeh is displaced. It seems you would want to focus more on the fact that Saeed, who chose to go in full-time ministry, to a dangerous country, representing Christ, was not qualified to be a pastor. Why is there no outrage that his own church and licensing group did not do due diligence? 

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, let's draw this slightly differently.  If we assume that the case is as you say--an assault conviction that you've got no evidence was repeated, but where the wife is making various allegations.  Do we allow this person to serve in ministry when his house is divided?  I believe we have a few commenters here who have stepped aside from ministry for this very reason--no gross sin, but the husband and wife are simply not on the same page.  It's a very real issue.

My take is that you don't allow them in the pastorate, because Paul told Timothy and Titus that the man must manage his own home well.  For that matter, speaking as my church's Sunday School Superintendent, I doubt I'd let him serve in Sunday School, at least not without clear accountability and clear indications of how and why he's changed and repented since that conviction.

The ugly reality is that if I don't take these things seriously, I risk ending up on the witness stand trying to explain why on earth I knowingly put that guy in a room with a dozen five year olds, and everything I say gets put on the front page of the local paper, while my pastor hands the keys to the church building over to the victims.  

Honestly, we've got to take the Matthew 18 reconciliation/discipline process seriously, as well as the qualifications for ministry.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Julie Anne's picture

You seem to suggest Graham was nefarious in offering counseling in NC. Odd. Weird I'd say.

What counseling qualifications does Graham have when there is abuse?  For that matter, what counseling qualifications do most pastors have?  I can tell you from my experience in dealing with more wives than I can count, the normal response from pastors is that when there is abuse within a marriage, it is labeled as a marriage problem. That is absolutely wrong thinking.

Can you imagine putting a rapist with his rape victim, or attempted murderer with the victim?  You must look at abuse in that way. Abuse is using a position of control over someone else. This is not a marriage relationship issue, it is flat out abuse and criminal behavior.  Please, if any of you take any of my words home, please take this home:  Domestic Abuse is not a marital issue, but an abuse issue, and most likely, criminal activity.  

Franklin Graham or for that matter, any pastor, has no business dealing with criminal behavior. It must be reported. Now in the case of emotional/verbal abuse which is difficult to try criminally, I believe it is a pastor's responsibility to come alongside and help the wife/children to separate so they can be safe.  Emotional and verbal abuse is just as harmful in the long run as physical abuse.

 

Julie Anne's picture

dmyers, I think the title of your post explains a lot:  Feminism doesn't trump marriage or the Bible

I don't know what you mean by feminism. I believe it is a very loaded word. Some equate it with different time periods in history. When I use the word, I use it to mean that women should be treated equally to men. They should have the same voting privileges, land purchasing, pay for employment, etc.  I struggle to think that any Christian would want women to be treated less than men because she does not have male genitalia. 

The issue of domestic violence does raise concerns about feminism and being treated equally. Are you okay with men using a position of authority to control a woman to do what he wants?  I'm wondering what Bible you are reading that endorses this kind of behavior.

GregH's picture

I would like for any man here to stand up in support of the way women have been treated through history just because they have different genitalia. What man here could say that the condition of women just a few decades ago was better than today? Go back 100 years when women could not own property in their own name and had practically no chance of getting a divorce even in cases of abuse and tell me that is better than today.

The good change we have seen is because of brave feminists. More power to them. Yes, I am a feminist in that I believe that women are equal to men in society and should have exactly the same rights.

 

Mark_Smith's picture

The man just got released from 5-6 years in an Iranian prison, and we are battling about whether he is worthy of a pastorate?

 

The issue is rather than meet him at the airport, Naghmeh delivered a court order... OK. If Saeed is that bad, then ok. But we KNOW NOTHING. All we have is the facebook posting of a woman who, up until November, said Saeed was a great father and husband. now he is the scum of the earth.

Keep in mind, David was a murderer. Forget pornography, he had multiple wives and concubines. He killed a man to have his wife! Paul was a murderer. Were they qualified to lead in God's eyes?

The point is, whether Saeed is qualified for a pastorate is irrelevant at this point. The shocking thing is the behavior of Naghmeh. If Saeed is that bad, that she won't even meet him at the airport when he comes home after years in prison...wow. Years during which SHE BECAME FAMOUS for defending him!

Wow...

 

Bert Perry's picture

GregH wrote:

I would like for any man here to stand up in support of the way women have been treated through history just because they have different genitalia. What man here could say that the condition of women just a few decades ago was better than today? Go back 100 years when women could not own property in their own name and had practically no chance of getting a divorce even in cases of abuse and tell me that is better than today.

The good change we have seen is because of brave feminists. More power to them. Yes, I am a feminist in that I believe that women are equal to men in society and should have exactly the same rights.

Depends on whether the woman has been born yet, I guess.  It's worth noting that unborn women were protected a wee bit better (at least in most of the U.S.) a century ago than today.  To be fair, Susan B. Anthony and the like were generally in favor of this protection--how the various manifestations of feminism have changed.  I'm not up for a full discussion of the various types of feminism extant today line by line, and definitely not here, but let's not pretend it's a monolithic movement and an unalloyed good.

Plus, it's worth noting that the case we're discussing is not really one where 19th century divorce laws, which tended to allow it only for adultery and abandonment, would make much difference.  A good lawyer could have made the case for Mrs. Abedini back in 1890 due to her husband's long incarceration, and if he'd partaken of Victorian smut, that wouldn't have looked good in court, either.  Her pastor would likely have supported her.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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