FamilyLife Today® Podcast

When No One Gets You: Mary DeMuth

with Mary DeMuth | April 1, 2024
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How do you deal with harsh comments? Asking for a friend... Author Mary DeMuth bravely shares her own story of facing criticism, reflecting on her decision to speak out about sexual abuse, despite encountering hurtful reactions. Is it truly worthwhile to share your story?

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest


  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

How do you handle harsh comments? Author Mary DeMuth shares her story, reflecting on speaking out about abuse despite hurtful reactions. Is sharing worth it?

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When No One Gets You: Mary DeMuth

With Mary DeMuth
April 01, 2024
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Mary: I think we have to open our eyes to the traumas that are around us. I think, too, to dignify people who have been broken and to understand that that does not disqualify them from leadership. God isn't done with us when we've gone through trauma and pain, and those are actually the best traits for someone to have to do something great in the Kingdom.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: I know you don't want to tell this story, but the day you taught at our church to a whole bunch of women, and you shared your sexual abuse story; talk about being misunderstood! [Laughter] Remind our listeners what happened. Mary may have never heard this story.
Ann: Yes, I was in my early thirties, and it's the first time I had ever shared publicly the story of sexual abuse. It's scary to do that for the first time—all women; women I really respected; all different ages. So, I shared that, but at the other end, I shared how I'm on this journey of healing, and how we have the hope of the gospel that Jesus can come in and heal and help us to forgive the people who have hurt and wronged us.
At the end of it, I had a long line of women I was talking to, but then an older woman came up to me, and she just slipped me a note that was handwritten.
Dave: Notes are always fun.
Mary: I'm already afraid! [Laughter]
Ann: I was actually anticipating the note, because I was hoping that this woman would be proud of me because she's older, and she had a place in the church. When I got home, I read the note, and I was so taken back because it said, “Today you glorified Satan.”
Mary: [Gasping] Oh!
Ann: I don't think she could have said anything worse. It could have been: “This was bad. You shared it in a way that was offensive.” That, I could have taken. But to say I glorified Satan in it, that one was the worst thing she could have said.
Dave: Yes.
Ann: Because in doing it, I was hoping that people would catch a glimpse of the Savior; of how He forgives, and He restores. It's the gospel. To “glorify Satan,” I was rocked.
Dave: No, I remember you just went into hiding after that.
Ann: Yes!
Dave: I'm thinking we got Mary DeMuth back, and we've already talked to her—I don't know when this program aired, but about your sexual abuse, in your book, Not Marked. That's not who you are. You would not—
Ann: —Mary, we love having you with us—
Dave: —yes.
Mary: Thank you.
Ann: —because your story is one that brings real hope. But you're also a scholar and an artist. You have a lot of different gifts. [Laughter]
Dave: And, actually, obviously, an author of what, 40 to 50 books? [Laughter]
Mary: Yes.
Dave: Three a year? That's amazing! And we're going to talk about one of them today: The Most Misunderstood Women in the Bible.
Have you been misunderstood?
Mary: [Laughter] I think 100% of us! [Laughter] All of us in this room have been misunderstood. And I think it's actually one of the deepest injuries that human beings go through. We so much want to be understood. When we have someone slip us a note like that and attribute our motives, especially when people judge our motives, as the opposite—
Ann: —yes.
Mary: —Jesus understands us, because they said He cast out demons by the power of Satan. That's blasphemy! They were completely misunderstanding Him. So, He does get it, and He does come alongside us.
But I wanted to look at women in the Bible who have been misunderstood, both in their context, and also in the wider narrative of our lives and in Christendom. That was kind of the impetus of writing it. Not only are we going to study these women, but then the “so what” is: how does this teach us how to walk through the valley of misunderstanding?
Ann: I like that.
Dave: Are women, generally—do you feel misunderstood?
Mary: Yes! We are often misunderstood. I think part of it is that we are comparers. We are constantly comparing ourselves to each other. Layered on top of that, with social media, is we have trained ourselves not to talk to each other. So, we just assume things about people without ever asking them if that's actually true, because we've lost the art of conversation. We don't sit around a table anymore.
Dave: Well, let's talk about women in the Bible being misunderstood, [Laughter] and I'm guessing we should start with the very first one.
Mary: You may as well. Yes, Eve! So, she was deeply misunderstood, both in her context and outside. First of all, we have to remember the narrative, and I know you all have done a good job of exegeting this narrative; but when the serpent is saying all these things, it says: “And Adam, who is with her.” He's there; he is with her.
Sadly, in Christendom, you can kind of see this blaming of Eve for the fall of all humankind. But then, when you go to the New Testament, it's always Adam who's blamed. She's not mentioned. I'm not saying she's not culpable because she is; they both are, equally, but we tend to put more blame on her, which really is unfair. Plus, when she was in the garden afterwards, she actually did a true confession. She said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” That was truth! She told the truth.
Adam did not. He did not say, “Well, I was standing there. I didn't defend her. I didn't…” He said, “This woman that You gave me.” He blamed God. [Laughter]
Ann: —right.
Mary: —and her.
Ann: Yes.
Mary: He also ate, but he didn't say, “And I did this.” He did not confess a truth. That was that conversation that—I mean, the whole story is really, horribly beautiful because then we have the Lord seeking them out: “Where are you? Where are you? We've been friends all this time. We've had this fellowship.”
Then He covers them with animal skins, which is just a hint of what is to come. He proclaims these bits and pieces of the gospel about what's going to happen, and the serpent, and the bruising, and what is going to—He already had the plan all figured out, but that's the first thing.
Also interesting in the passage is that when Adam meets Eve, her name is not Eve. She has no name. He treats her like one of the animals as taxonomy. He names her woman. It isn't until after the fall that he gives her this name that means, kind of, “The beginning of the dawn, this Eve.” You see little hints of Redemption in there. So, she was taxonomy, [then the] fall of humankind, and he names her “Eve.” Then they procreate, and poor Cain and Abel (we can go into that, but—). [Laughter] It's hard.
But you can see these snippets of light in the middle of the story. I think that's the point of this book, is that, I think, a lot of us don't read Scripture at face value. We don't find those nuggets of just simple observation.
So, the framework of this book is, I tell the story; I'm a novelist as well. So, I tell the story in short story form, keeping very close to the biblical narrative. So, if they say it in the Bible, it is said in my narrative; then, as much research as I have to give it flesh and blood. Then I walk it out: “So, what does this mean for us when we’re misunderstood?”
Ann: Walk that out with Eve. Walk the whole thing out as you've kind of put it in the book.
Mary: I believe I called her Eve, the Blamed One. For us, in misunderstanding, we are blamed for things, maybe, we didn't do. I talk about the importance of—the Holy Spirit is important, because sometimes when we are maligned, the Holy Spirit says, “Keep your mouth quiet, and let the Lord be your defender.” And then there are other times that He says, “Defend yourself.”
So, I won't give a blanket statement and say, “You should always defend yourself,” or “You should never say anything.” I'm just saying, rely on the Holy Spirit within you. When you are maligned, and you're assigned these nefarious motives, go to the Lord and ask Him how He wants you to respond in that situation, because He's so gracious to be able to help you.
Ann: That's good.
Dave: I mean, do you as women feel, in present day, maybe, what Eve felt in that garden, that men blame you? I'm asking for an honest response. Do you feel that any differently than any other time, or do you feel blamed at times, and it's really misunderstanding?
Mary: I think—we also had another conversation about sexual abuse in marriage on another program, and I felt that way in that aspect; that I was blamed for not having enough sex, in my own brokenness as a sexual abuse victim.
So, yes; but when you look at it in a marriage, there are always two sides to a story, and there's always compassionate empathy that can happen from both sides. There's always sin that can be confessed. In a marriage, to have the sole blame put on the woman is very, very difficult, or put on the man. I mean, if you put all blame on one person, and you never acknowledge your own internal issues, it can be a problem.
Ann: That's good.
Dave: Yes, have you felt that for me?
Ann: Maybe in that area? [Laughter]
Dave: Oh, boy! Let's go!
Mary: Okay, we're going to have a sin confession time now. [Laughter]
Ann: Back in the early days—
Mary: —yes.
Ann: —I think—
Mary: —back then—
Ann: —yes, I think that—
Mary: —not now.
Ann: Yes. Not now. You’re off the hook now, but back in the day.
I think too, with men (and this is just a blanket, overall statement), probably back in the 80s and 90s in the church, I think any emotionalism or having passion or emotion was looked down upon. That could just be my own, what I'm bringing into the church in my present back then. My family did that growing up, [saying], “Oh, you're so emotional,” or, “Your sister is so emotional.” Maybe, I'm just perceiving that and it's not there, but I remember in the church, feeling like that.
Dave: Mary’s nodding her head.
Mary: Yes, I think we can be blamed for, maybe, the way we've been wired, which is kind of strange. I mean, I think that's why the Lord created male and female, because we have different aspects of each other—
Ann: —yes.
Mary: —that complete one another and help each other.
Ann: Such a beauty to it.
Mary: It is! And I think about—I am so grateful for my husband's logical thinking and his beautiful capacity to put things in compartments. [Laughter] I don't. I just have one compartment. But over the years, we have been iron sharpening iron—
Ann: —us, too.
Mary: —so, he, now, can share his emotions. He's not a robot anymore, which is great. [Laughter] And I can say, “I will think about that another day. I don't have to think about that right now, instead of having it permeate my whole life.”
Ann: Yes.
Mary: So, we come to each other as helpers to each other.
Ann: I agree. Do you see that with us?
Dave: Yes, I was going to say I knew there were years, in our church, where I'd be in leadership meetings, and I wouldn't know it until I thought about it: “There are no women in this room. It's all men.” It wasn't an elders’ meeting. It was just leaders of different aspects of the church. I know that when Ann would come in, or even some other women, and they were part of the meeting, every single time was a much better meeting—
Mary: —yes.
Dave: —The way they think, the way they look at things; maybe even emotions coming in: tenderness or anger. It could be any of the above. I just remember that we would have never gotten to where we got today if Ann weren’t in the room—
Mary: —yes.
Dave: —or Julie, or whoever.
Ann: Women are great, Dave! [Laughter]
Dave: Of course they are! [Laughter]
Mary: We’re awesome!
Dave: I'm sitting with two of them right now.
Ann: Hey, let's go into the New Testament now.
Dave: No, no, no! We’ve got to do Bathsheba, don't we?
Mary: We have to do Bathsheba.
Ann: Well, okay.
Dave: We’ve got another day.
Ann: Oh, yes, we do. Okay. [Laughter] Yes, we have another day. Let's talk about Bathsheba.
Dave: Today's Old Testament. Tomorrow's New Testament.
Ann: Bathsheba’s fascinating. I want to hear about this.
Mary: Oh, goodness. Poor Bathsheba has been very misunderstood a lot, and even now. It has been—even in my own church, it's happened where they'll say, “Oh, she had this adulterous relationship.” And I almost rise up out of my seat: “That was not adultery. Adultery is two people consenting to be naughty. This was one person exercising authority over another.” When you look at the language of when David sent for Bathsheba, the Hebrew there is, “They took her by force.” Even if the Hebrew weren’t that, what could she do?
Also, the whole thing about her bathing on the roof, like she was some sort of hottie, bathing on the roof and being seductive—everybody bathed on the roof. She was probably in Mikveh, which is where people bathe for their ceremonially unclean times. Because she was not pregnant at that moment, they think that she—well, she even said it later, that she'd had her period. She was not pregnant, and had her [menstrual] time, and was most likely having that kind of bathing; so, not a seductive thing.
Then she gets taken, and there is nothing that she can say. He is the king of the realm. She also has the problem of: what's going to happen even if she does scream? No one is going to do anything, because he is the king.
If you look at what David is doing all along the way—and he is a man after God's own heart; he's someone who wrote all those psalms, and so, I'm not dissing him, but—if you look at the decisions that he made along the way, he could have chosen to go to war when kings go to war. He could have chosen to avert his eyes, which is something I learned, talking about something with someone in the third world. They say, “Yes, we don't really have spaces to bathe that are private, but it is known within our culture that you look away when you see someone bathe.”
So, you have all of these choices that he made that were, “I want something. I'm preying upon it. I'm the king. I'm going to get it.” She was sexually assaulted, and we try to turn her into something that I just don't believe that she—
Ann: —a temptress.
Mary: Yes! And I just don't believe that she was. Plus, the fact that when Nathan confronts David, he doesn't say, “Oh, I know it's hard. She was so sexy up on the roof there.” He doesn't! He says, “You are the man.”
Then, when you go into the New Testament, she is known as “Uriah's wife.” So, even the Lord is like, “No. That's who she is. She's Uriah’s wife.” The Lord did some beautiful things in her life after all of that; after losing her son and then having Solomon. She rose to a great amount of prominence in the Kingdom and had her own throne. I mean, there were some beautiful things in redemption there; but I think we really miss the story when we don't really look at it through the lens of people with power.
Ann: Yes. Go into how we can apply this to our lives. What's that look like for us?
Mary: In that way, I think we have to open our eyes to the traumas that are around us. I think too, to dignify people who have been broken, and to understand that that does not disqualify them from leadership.
We see Bathsheba ascending into this kind of thronal role. God isn't done with us when we've gone through trauma and pain. Those are actually the best traits for someone to have to do something great in the Kingdom, because we live with a paradoxical Kingdom where big is small, and small is big; great is little, and little is great. God uses, as it talks about in First Corinthians, “…the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” The despised, He uses. He uses all of these broken, messed-up people to bring about His purposes in His Kingdom.
Ann: That's so good.
Dave: Have you women ever felt, or you think women in the church feel like, they are often misunderstood or looked at as a temptress—
Mary: —yes, and—
Dave: —when they're not at all, and their heart is right, but men may see them that way because they're a woman?
Mary: I think there's that objectification that happens. I think part of it—and we've kind of done an apologetic from this, but—[is], in the 90s, during that culture of, “You have to dress a certain way;” and purity culture and all that, everything was put on the girl.
Ann: Yes.
Mary: “It's all on you to make sure he doesn't stumble,” whatever that means.
The message behind that is: “You are how you look on the outside, and you are responsible for the sin of another.” That is simply not true. We're responsible for our own sin. I'm not saying that we should be immodest. I think modesty is important, of course, just as it is for men. But from that, one of the negative takeaways of that, is that we are our bodies and that our bodies are a problem.
Ann: I couldn't answer it any better than that.
I'm wondering, have you thought through, as you're sharing about Bathsheba and David, I wonder what their relationship was like later? Because Bathsheba ended up getting pregnant. They lost—that baby died, but then they had Solomon together, who would go on to rule. But I wonder what that relationship with David was like later with Bathsheba?
Mary: Yes, I think there must have been some mutuality there because of the way he promoted her, and the fact that she birthed the heir to the throne. I think that—
Ann: —what do you mean by “promoted” her?
Mary: Well, she had this role in the Kingdom of being able, not to rule, but she had some power there. So, yes, I think it's hard to say, because we don't have the back dialogue—
Ann: —yes.
Mary: —of what's going on, and we only are approaching it from the Scripture. The other problem complicating that is that David had many wives, and then Solomon went on to have so many more. The Lord was very clear: “You're not supposed to have more than one wife.”
So, it is a complicated answer, but I do believe that they seem to have—at least, when they worked through the death of their first born, that they did seem to have—some sort of relationship there. Although, she must have just been a mess because, not only had she been violated, but her husband, whom she loved, had been killed.
I do some conjecture, based on scholarship, that she could have been barren, because here she was with Uriah—
Ann: —oh, yes.
Mary: —there's no mention of children, and the fact that she got pregnant with David, but she had most likely been with Uriah for a long time, and there wasn't birth control back then, that she may have been barren. Then to give birth to a child, and then have to lose it. Just think about the layers of trauma there.
Ann: I've never thought through that before; the possibility of her being barren before.
Mary: Or he could have been—
Ann: —yes, he—
Mary: —could have been Uriah’s part that—
Ann: —right.
Mary: —didn’t work out.
Ann: Yes.
Dave: Yes, and I would—I know that today's not a day to talk to the men, but—
Ann: —it could be! [Laughter]
Dave: —I think there are a couple of thoughts here. One is, don't do the David thing in using your power—
Mary: —right.
Dave: —to control a woman, but use your power to serve your wife and your daughters and women.
Here's the other thought: if you look at the life of David, a man after God's own heart, an interesting study is, he always had a problem with women all the way to his deathbed.
Ann: Yes.
Mary: Yes; true, true.
Dave: He honored God in other areas like, “Don't multiply horses.” He didn't, because that was a sign of, “You'll win military battles in your own strength. You're going to win with God's strength.” So, he didn't multiply horses, but he multiplied wives, and he disobeyed that from day one. I've always said whenever—
Ann: —and he bore the consequences of it.
Dave: —oh, yes, but you don't want to do—and, as you said, there was assault here with Bathsheba. I've always said this about that story: “When you're not where you're supposed to be, you see things you're not supposed to see, you do things you're not supposed to do, and you pay more than you ever thought you would pay.”
Mary: Yes.
Dave: That is a lesson for all of us from David's life. It starts with being where you should be when you should be there. He should have been at war. That's what kings should be doing. That decision in itself led to all these other decisions.
So, we think, “Oh, it's just a little—". No! These little, tiny decisions add up. You could end up in a really, really bad place. If you just honor the fact that even with your leisure time; be careful as a man and as a woman.
Mary: Yes.

Shelby: Oh, I can't wait. We're going to hear more from Mary with a specific application to all that we've been talking about today, here in just a second. But first, I'm Shelby Abbott. You've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Mary DeMuth on FamilyLife Today.
Mary has written a book called The Most Misunderstood Women of the Bible: What Their Stories Teach Us About Thriving. We've been talking about that today. You can get your copy right now by going online to, or you can find it in the show notes, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
You know, Mary talked a lot about being misunderstood. It's really easy to feel that way, which is one reason why FamilyLife hosts Blended and Blessed® each year. We want couples, in stepfamilies specifically, to know they are not alone.
The Blended and Blessed one-day marriage livestream event is for couples in blended families, or dating couples who are dating someone who has kids. It's going to be a live event from the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Saturday, April 27th, but it's also going to be recorded, and you can live stream it later on. If you want to know any more details about the Blended and Blessed one-day marriage livestream event, you can check out the link in the show notes.
Now we wanted to hear a little bit more specific application from Mary DeMuth. Let's hear what she has to say:
Mary: The Lord sees and honors and dignifies women throughout the whole Bible. I think what we think sometimes is, no matter if it's a man or a woman in the story of the biblical narrative, we think, “Oh, that's a nice story.”
But these were actually living, breathing, actual human beings with stories and pain and trauma and frustration and victories and all of that. First of all, the fact that the Lord has them in the narrative—it's not a Bible of a bunch of men; there are women populated throughout the whole Bible.
Then that little, helpful tool to remember: what is prescriptive versus descriptive? Just because David did this terrible thing, the consequences show that this was descriptive, not prescriptive, [as if], “You should not go to war, and you should assault people.” Because it's in there doesn't mean you have to do it. It's a cautionary tale. So, we have to remember that some of these stories in here are cautionary tales. Obviously, with Eve, “Don't start sinning for the whole human race.” [Laughter] I mean, that's a really good takeaway.
But, yes, these are real human beings. The Lord sees you; He knows you; He understands you even when you're misunderstood in your context. Even when, in Bathsheba’s case, her humanity was misunderstood. She was an object; she was not a human being. The Lord still understands your humanity because He created you; He loves you; He is for you.

Shelby: Communication between men and women can often be very confusing, and miscommunication can happen, wires can get crossed, and people can get confused quite often, especially within the context of marriage.
Well, Mary DeMuth is back tomorrow to talk about just that: communication between men and women and how we can understand one another in the context of our relationships. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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