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Kay Warren: ‘We Were in Marital Hell’

Through God’s work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Kay Warren: ‘We Were in Marital Hell’
Image: Courtesy of Kay Warren

I’ve always been a church girl. Most of my earliest memories are tied to the people and the small churches my dad pastored in San Diego, California. I remember feeling the pressure to be the perfect pastor’s kid who knew all the right answers to Bible trivia questions. I recall the heavy pressure to be a model for other people and especially the pressure not to embarrass or cause shame to my parents by exposing our family flaws.

Many of my experiences are probably common to others who grew up in a pastor’s home, but a few incidents weren’t related to my dad’s job, and they marked me in ways that have taken me years to overcome. I was molested by the son of the church janitor when I was four or five. I remember not telling my parents because it was “bad” and because as a young child I didn’t have the language to express what had happened.

The deepest place of confusion and internal struggle for me as a teenager was finding pornography at the home of neighbors where I babysat. I was both fascinated and repelled by this forbidden material. It was clearly taboo for a Christian young woman who sincerely wanted to live a pure and holy life for Jesus, but somehow one night I picked it up and looked at it. Instant self-loathing, guilt, and remorse. How can I look at pornography? I love Jesus! I want to be a missionary! I’ll never look at it again, I told myself. And I didn’t. Until the next time I babysat. And the time after that. ...

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