A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Abuse and Divorce: Wayne Grudem and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Still Say “No!”

Mary Kassian (www.girlsgonewise.com) wrote about the U.N. Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on her blog, November 25th.  She is to be commended for this.  However, in her article, she said that she had emailed Wayne Grudem (editor of the ESV Study Bible; Member of the board of directors for the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Professor at Phoenix Seminary) and asked him what he would like to say in regard to this U.N. day.  This is what he replied with (and Kassian agrees with it):

I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it. When pastors learn about abuse occurring in a home in their congregation, they have an obligation before God to seek to bring an immediate end to it, through direct personal conversation with the abuser, support of the abused, professional counselling, through means such as church discipline, protective personal intervention in dangerous situations, using law enforcement and other legal pressures, extensive prayer, and, if necessary, legal separation. Pastors also need to encourage their church members and attenders to tell someone in church leadership if abuse is occurring, so that appropriate means can be brought to bring an immediate end to it. Nobody in a leadership role in CBMW thinks that abuse within a marriage is justified by the biblical teachings about husbands and wives.  [Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor, Phoenix Seminary, and co-founder and past president of CBMW].

The bold-faced words are mine.  I bolded them because they tell us that Grudem still denies that abuse is grounds for divorce.  You see the very same position in the following statement on abuse that Kassian quotes from the CBMW:

Statement on Abuse

Adopted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at its meeting in Lisle, Illinois in November, 1994.

  • We understand abuse to mean the cruel use of power or authority to harm another person emotionally, physically, or sexually.
  • We are against all forms of physical, sexual and /or verbal abuse.
  • We believe that the biblical teaching on relationships between men and women does not support, but condemns abuse (Prov. 12:18; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:7; 5:3).
  • We believe that abuse is sin. It is destructive and evil. Abuse is the hallmark of the devil and is in direct opposition to the purpose of God. Abuse ought not to be tolerated in the Christian community.
  • We believe that the Christian community is responsible for the well-being of its members. It has a responsibility to lovingly confront abusers and to protect the abused.
  • We believe that both abusers and the abused are in need of emotional and spiritual healing.
  • We believe that God extends healing to those who earnestly seek him.
  • We are confident of the power of God’s healing love to restore relationships fractured by abuse, but we realize that repentance, forgiveness, wholeness, and reconciliation is a process. Both abusers and abused are in need of on-going counseling, support and accountability.
  • In instances where abusers are unrepentant and/or unwilling to make significant steps toward change, we believe that the Christian community must respond with firm discipline of the abuser and advocacy, support and protection of the abused.
  • We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian community can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.

Notice once again the glaring absence of any affirmation that divorce is a biblical means of dealing with abuse.  Abuse victims/survivors will quickly understand that this statement dooms victims to a lifetime of working to “restore relationships”, to “involvement in a process of reconciliation,” of “ongoing counsel and support,” but divorce?  Forget it.  Remarriage?  Forget it.  Abusers love this sort of talk.  If the victim will just believe God and trust Him and keep doing all she can, God can bring her abuser to repentance and they can live happily ever after.  That is a fairy tale.  [Also notice that they tell the victims that they need counseling too.  For what?  PTSD?  That would be fine.  But I suspect this "counseling" is going to me more of the ilk of "you aren't perfect either, you know."]

As long as any theologian, author, or organization refuses to tell victims that they can divorce their abuser because the abuser has already treacherously divorced them by ongoing, hard-hearted violation of the marriage covenant, then my ears are deaf to everything else they have to say.  That is too bad, because I do think that Grudem and CBMW have done some good and have published some excellent books.  I just cannot hear them though as long as they continue to sentence abuse victims to ongoing bondage.  [I refuse to use the ESV Study Bible for this reason.  Grudem's notes in the back forbid divorce for abuse].

And by the way, what is this business of “legal separation”?  Where is the biblical case for that?  Is it not a limbo state of married but not married?  Doesn’t it sound a whole lot like one of those Pharisaical half-measures that inevitably are required when our interpretation of Scripture makes no sense?

161 Comments

  1. The beast would have LOVED this guy. A lifetime of drama with himself as the main focus and his defective wife never getting it right so, what can he do? More tears, more attention on ‘his needs’, more overacting and the rest of us slowly roasting on a spit until we cracked, giving him *more* ammunition against us.

    Sandwiches female victims squarely between an abusive spouse and an all-male, abusive, power-hungry church leadership with no recourse. That just might be my definition of hell.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Speaking of hell, won’t it be interesting (we won’t see it) that unrepentant abusers and Pharisees will spend eternity there, but will lack victims. All that evil and nowhere to go play with it.

  2. Jeff, your gems of wisdom are so practical …. I’d love to see where, in Scripture, “legal separation” is even hinted at. Not a word, nada. Creating their own theology to protect their own little Pollyanna worlds. I once counseled a woman in a domestic abuse relationship and she ended up divorcing her husband. Her pastor, who had a friendly & supportive relationship with me, was furious. He forbid any of his congregants to come to me for counseling, turned his back on me personally and gave me the silent treatment for three years. Then one day I got a phone call, from him, quiet and meek, asking if I would counsel his daughter. Yes, a battered wife. Now it was very real for him. His precious little girl was in the same situation that female congregant was just a few years earlier, but now the pastor could not ignore the pain.

    I pray that WG and others never have to experience domestic abuse in their families, but I have to tell you, the pastor mentioned above did a complete turn-a-round, and now speaks boldly from the pulpit on the behalf of battered women.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Morven – what a great story! Thank you. Absolutely. Until people (we) are actually touched by this evil we just don’t seem to get it.

    • Just Me

      Morven, that brought tears to my eyes. And what a testimony to forgiveness that you helped this pastor and his daughter when they were in need after the way he treated you. True repentance and true forgiveness.

    • joepote01

      Beautiful story, Morven! The pain brought on by the earlier blindness is searing, but how wonderful that God used another painful experience to remove the blindness!

      God truly does use all things to the good of those who love Him…who are called according to His purpose!

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Wow, Morven! Incredible! Thank you for sharing this!

    • At the risk of sounding cynical and bitter (;-D) I am glad that the pastor finally “Got it” and I am glad that you extended grace and kindness…but I wish the pastor had extended the same compassion to the woman you counseled. She was someone’s daughter, sister, mother…why wasnt she deserving of the same amount of grace?!!
      Alas, better late than never….

    • That is the best “Daddy’s daughter syndrome” story I’ve ever heard.
      I don’t think I invented that term; I read it somewhere.
      Daddy’s daughter syndrome is a not-uncommon phenomenon. It’s where a pastor who was hard and blind to the plight of victims of abuse does a 180 turn when it happens to his own daughter.
      Thankfully, once such a pastor is turned, he never turns back.

    • I have said before that I would like to see John Piper watch his own daughter endure abuse for a season and see if he still says the same thing. Stand in the room while your daughter is being abused for a few days or weeks or months and see if you still think women should follow your advice, Dr. Piper.

  3. Anonymous

    Yes, I get the “you need to get counseling”, as the victim too. Now in my case, the abuser was never told to get counseling! Go figure! I was the one who was told that I needed to get counseling, even though I had been in counseling for months and months and months, they just refused to admit that I was in counseling! Once again, go figure! They wanted to hand pick my counselor, so that they would know that I was only getting someone who would agree with them, that God is a cruel taskmaster, who forces women to stay with their abusers. But, God had a different plan. His plan was to show me Who He really is and what He really wants for me. If God was a cruel taskmaster, like some pastors want us to believe, then He would have left His people in Egypt. God never leaves His people in Egypt. He is the great deliverer. We may have trials, yes, but He does tell us that He always gives us a way out of the trial too! I guess they forget about that passage in Scripture. “Temptation” there, actually means “trial”. He promises to always give us a way out. Now why would that be, if His intent was for us to stay in the trial and suffer for the rest of our lives?

    I agree, it is difficult to listen to anyone who says that victims should spend the rest of their lives being victimized, because it is God’s will for them. These people need to really study their Bibles. I like Grudem too and appreciate his works, but when the thinking is this way, it sort of taints everything else and you begin to wonder how well these people actually know the One true God, if they believe He sentences people to lives of living with wickedness, and if He elevates marriage to a place higher than Himself; a place where He gives no protection to the people involved, they are just pretty much on their own. That is not God’s will and I am deeply, and at the knees of God, finding that out for myself. He came to give us life, and life abundantly. Funny, but I have always known that.

    So many false shepherds. *sigh*

    • Jeff Crippen

      It really does require a deficient understanding of the character of God at a minimum to maintain the no divorce for abuse position. I think it very often also reveals a self-righteousness that is willing to keep others in suffering when in fact if we ourselves were in such a position suddenly our theology of marriage, divorce, and remarriage would change.

    • Desley

      had a FB conversation last month about whether or not it is truly valuing marriage when one allows that sacred institution to be tarnished by abuse. A man from my church was convinced that separation was enough – that the preservation of that marriage doesn’t lead to the conclusion that she must suffer abuse for the rest of her life. He believes there are other options, such as “for instance, take the same approach one might take to an abusive/criminal (adult) child, namely, “I will never cease to be your dad, but I will throw your ass in jail!” He later commented that he fails “to see how the absence of a piece of paper [dicorce certificate] is a factor in tems of abuse.” He continued to pick apart my concerns:

      “Where we seem to disagree is on the notion that when theologian X says, “Never divorce! (full stop)” it means he is telling women to, ‘Suffer abuse and DO NOTHING!’

      You say, ‘Preserving the marriage… keeps the abusive partner’s foot in the door and allows him or her to continue their abuse and maintain a degree of control over the other party. In essence then, staying married IS submitting to a lifetime of abuse, causing immeasurable harm to the victim and the victim’s family… Preserving the marriage sends the abuser a strong message that there is still a chance of the victim coming back to him or her, and thus the abuse is lengthened needlessly.’

      I do not understand how you come to this conclusion.

      When the theologian says, ‘Never divorce!’ the theologain means just that: ‘Never file for divorce!’
      The statement, ‘Never divorce!’ does NOT mean, ‘Never separate!’
      The statement, ‘Never divorce!’ does NOT mean, ‘Promise to reconcile and get back together someday!’
      The statement, ‘Never divorce!’ does NOT mean, ‘Never say a final goodbye!’)
      and it certainly does not mean, ‘Do nothing!’”

      He accused me of building a straw-man argument, attacked my argument as the fallacy of the excluded middle, and then cut off the conversation by “allowing me the last word.”

      My last word (although I had hoped to further the conversation) was:
      “I think we have to realize that what COULD BE is not necessarily WHAT IS. Just because something is logically possible doesn’t not necessarily mean that it is, and we have to deal with reality, not fantasies.

      I still think there are problems with permanent separations in cases of abuse, but honestly, it’s a waste of time to continue to debate this particular because in all my reading (books, blogs, articles) and listening to the stories of people who’ve been abused, as well as virtually every single theologian I have heard speak on the matter, I have never heard of anyone supporting permanent separation. All I’ve ever heard is an allowance for temporary separation with intent to reconcile,.This is exactly how abusers lure Christian women back into the relationship; the church pressures women to forgive and reconcile upon hearing an “I”m sorry, I won’t do it again.”

      Now, if I am wrong about this and there are theologians out there that you know of who support permanent separation, I would love to hear them for myself. Names? Books? Links?”

      But of course, no answer.

      I really am beginning to wonder if it’s worth the energy to try and change this distortion of thinking in most of the evangelical circles. It’s so draining. And for nothing most of the time. If people aren’t even willing to engage in a conversation…what hope is there? I have been trying to pursuade my pastor that it might be beneficial for the leadership to get some DV training, but he doesn’t get it. And then I feel like I am the one in the wrong – that I have somehow veered off the course. And then I see a woman who has very recently sought the church for help after her long-time abusive husband held her hostage for two days and threw her down the stairs sitting next to her manipulative abuser in Bible study tonight. And they were all encouraged that he was there. You know, God is obviously doing a work in his heart. And she takes everything they say as gospel truth. God WILL do a miracle in her marriage. He will because she is trusting HIm and she prayed for Him to do it. She has not even begun to feel the gravity of what this man has done to her psychologically and spiritually…and she will not begin that process until she has cut ties with her and she is safe to begin the healing journey.

      It just makes me so angry! Ugh!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Desley – All of those attitudes you describe in your church by the pastor and members are gross arrogance on their part. Paul told the Corinthians that they had become arrogant and boastful when they should have mourned and put the wicked man out of their midst. The scenario you describe is one of arrogance. They all believe they are getting kudos for “saving this marriage” and “saving the wicked man’s soul.” Neither does their position require them to face up to the really sickening ugliness of all the details of just what this evil man has done and is doing to his wife. All is forgiven, so why is there any need to talk about it anymore – that would be gossip (so goes this line of insanity).

        As to the effort to try to get them to listen and learn? Well, when your pastor refuses to take DV training, that tells me that he thinks that he and his Bible can handle anything that comes along quite nicely, “thank you very much little woman but you don’t need to instruct me.” So, no. It isn’t worth the wasted breath. However, one thing that might be worth it is to document these events and the many times you tried to get them to listen to some truth so that when this abuser is thrown in jail next time (and hopefully it won’t be for her murder), the victim can file a huge lawsuit against that church for malpractice. You can be the star witness.

        By the way, did the church report that hostage taking and assault to the police?

      • Desley

        No, they didn’t report the incident. And then only a couple of weeks after the incident (and the man hasn’t taken any responsibility for his actions…and was visibly angry at the pastor when confronted about it), with the pastor’s full knowledge and blessing, the woman met him ALONE for dinner. The pastor thought she would be safe because she took her own vehicle and met him in a public place. He didn’t even bother to call her that night to make sure she got home!

        And I am thinking about approaching him this week (the building and finance committee meets this week to budget for next year) and asking for them to allot some money for DV training for our leadership. I am going to explain to them that they can are liable for their failure to report (that woman and the child abuse I had disclosed to them thoughout a four-year period). I am hoping that they will get the severity of the situation.

      • Jeff Crippen

        I absolutely cannot fathom not immediately picking up the phone and calling 911 when becoming aware of such a situation involving a person in my church. That these guys did not do that tells volumes about their character. Take the state law with you that says they are required to report these incidents — check with the local prosecutor’s office to get that info. I mean, really turn up the heat on these guys.

      • Desley, you could also give that woman a wallet sized card of info and phone numbers for the DV hotline and her DV services. You can get one of those cards from your local DV support service.
        And talk privately to her if you can about how concerned you feel for her, and how you think she is in a high risk situation. Try to phrase you advice as questions, such as Have you ever thought you might be at severe risk from the way your husband treats you? Have you ever thought of yourself as a victim of domestic violence?
        Gentle, invitational, open-ended questions give her room to tell you how she thinks and feels. They don’t shut down the conversation, they suggestively invite her to talk about whatever she wants to talk about, and to share as much as she feels ready to share.

      • Desley

        Thanks for the helpful advice, guys. I will follow through with this advice.

      • “to see how the absence of a piece of paper [dicorce certificate] is a factor in tems of abuse.”

        It’s a factor because it is a FIRM boundary for a person whose boundaries have been violated and who likely does not have the discernment to set a less than permanent boundary.

        It is also freedom to move to a healthier relationship as the Lord leads. Separation means living in a “marriage” that is no marriage by any Biblical standard. How can one possibly fulfill their marital obligations while separated? Permanent separation is nothing more than a perfect picture of legalism, to get divorced without using the word so as not to offend religious sensibilities. And non-permanent separation for a victim who is unable to think clearly and believes that it is her responsibility to reconcile as soon as possible is terrifyingly dangerous.

        The abuser does not deserve to have someone waiting in the wings for reconciliation. If he really does repent and heal, he can earn a new relationship that he has to work for. In the mean time, let the poor woman have her freedom; it’s the least you can do (really).

      • “I really am beginning to wonder if it’s worth the energy to try and change this distortion of thinking in most of the evangelical circles.”

        It’s worth the energy for those who want to see the truth. For those who do not, I think we should not invest too much of ourselves.

      • Desley

        “It’s a factor because it is a FIRM boundary for a person whose boundaries have been violated and who likely does not have the discernment to set a less than permanent boundary.”

        This was actually very helpful. Thank you, Jeff and Barbara, for everything you are doing here.

      • joepote01

        Jeff S – I am standing in agreement with you about the FIRM boundary. I would also add that it is a LEGAL boundary.

        Depending on the state and local laws, an estranged spouse is likely to still have many forms of legal access to walk all over necessary boundaries.

        For example, in almost every state, a separation would not prevent the estranged spouse from totally ruining one’s credit by defaulting on loans or declaring bankrupty.

        In many states, they may also retain joint ownership of common property. So, for example, if it became necessary to sell a house or trade in a car, the estranged spouse’s permission would be required to complete the transaction.

  4. joepote01

    “And by the way, what is this business of “legal separation”? Where is the biblical case for that? Is it not a limbo state of married but not married?”

    Well stated, Jeff!

    I might add that I feel the same way about the position of remarriage after divorce being forbidden. It attempts to keep one under obligation (bondage) to a covenant that no longer exists…an unbiblical perpetual state of limbo in which one is neither married nor unmarried…

    • Legal Separation did not exist in the legal codes in the 1st Century AD that applied to the first readers of the New Testament . It did not exist in Jewish law or Roman law. Grudem and his mob are sewing a synthetic legal patch onto a Biblical piece of cloth. It’s fancy needlework to maintain their ‘no divorce’ position and all the *family values* that go with that. But its totally illegitimate.
      They adamantly refuse to countenance divorce for abuse, so they have to dance round the doo doo and pretend it isn’t there.

      • Jeff Crippen

        “doo doo” being a very technical Aussie term for, “now they have stepped in it.”

      • yes :)

  5. Just Me

    I do wonder what they would say in the case of states like mine, where there is no such thing as legal separation. You can live separately, but you’re still legally and financially tied until you file for divorce.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I suspect they would come up with a sub-doctrine to their sub-doctrine. That really is what happens when a Pharisaical hermeneutic is used to interpret Scripture. You have to keep covering the “what-ifs” that are the fall out of foolish interpretations.

  6. Jeff – One of my hot buttons is how so many church leaders fail to notify law enforcement when there is a crime. I completely missed the divorce/legal separation issue that you bring up here. Thanks. I’m going to link your post on my blog as an addendum. Good stuff, thanks!

  7. Bethany

    My abuser thinks that our “Separation” is a perfect time for me to “Think about what I have done, and repent of my unsubmissive heart.” he doesn’t know yet that a divorce is heading his way, but I know that as long as I am married to him he will always have an abusive grip on me. Why don’t these people understand that? “Separation” will not help the victim. It will not stop the abuse.

    • Bethany — so true! I am sure that my ex thought that my time of separation would “fix me”, as well!! He sent gifts and hounded me until he realized it was over. Then, the beast came out! Separation will NOT stop the abuse. Truth.

  8. joepote01

    “…know that as long as I am married to him he will always have an abusive grip on me. Why don’t these people understand that? “Separation” will not help the victim. It will not stop the abuse.”

    Amen, Bethany!

    When Israel was in bondage to Egypt and subjected to Pharaoh’s abuse, God intervened with Redemption, not temporary Separation.

    • Pharoah’s heart had been hardened by God (Ex. 10:1, 20). After many plagues, Pharaoh tried to proffer the Temporary Separation line with Moses:

      So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away.” (8:28)

      And again…

      Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the LORD; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” (10:24)

      He said they could go, but he wanted to make sure they didn’t go far and would have to come back. Under pressure, he conceded to a temporary separation, but he would NEVER concede to a divorce. God had to punish him with ten horrible plagues before he finally gave in and let the Israelites go free.

      • joepote01

        Good point, Barbara!

        And…like most abusers, Pharaoh crawfished on the temporary separation as well. Each time, as soon as the pressure of consequences was relaxed, he changed his mind and refused even to permit the temporary separation.

      • Okay – new word – “crawfished”. I like it. :) Can you give me a rounded definition?

      • Jeff Crippen

        Oh man, hold onto this stuff, Barbara. You are on a roll here with everyone else in regard to this Pharaoh scenario. This is great stuff!

      • That is a great point, Barbara!

      • Bethany

        Barbara- that’s a wonderful analogy for my thoughts. Thank you :)

      • Anon

        I will never stop being astounded at these men’s lack of response to the consequences of their actions (like Pharaoh). People who think separation will bring about repentance do not understand this mindset. If even filing for divorce does not stir something in their hearts, to me it is crystal clear they will never change (at least for my situation). If I had filed for separation I would have continued in the same stress and impossibility of attempting to “work on” “our” issues…always implying my being at fault, needing to be better so he would be “able” to change…NO THANKS…tried that for almost 3 decades…didn’t work…

      • joepote01

        Barbara – a crawfish (a.k.a. crayfish or crawdad) is a freshwater crustacean resembling a small lobster. They move forward, slowly, using their legs and pinchers. However, they move backward, very quickly, using their tails. So, they creep out of their holes, forward, but if you try to grab one, it retreats very rapidly, backwards, into its hole.

        So, crawfishing, is rapidly reversing positions.

      • Thanks Joe! You’ve made my day. A new word, whoo-hoo…! :)
        We call them crayfish here, but I’ve never heard it used as a metaphor for someone quickly reversing their position or direction. I take my hat off to whoever thought up that meaning.

      • Still scared

        I love the illustration about Pharaoh. I always thought it was true about my ex. That he had hardened his heart so much that God then hardened his heart so that God’s glory could be seen. I told one of the pastors that I was studying in Exodus during the initial separation and he immediately refereed me to the end of going into the promised land that going back into the marriage was the promised land..he was very confused and didn’t believe me when I said, “no, God’s got me re -reading the plagues and I think this is where I am , not free yet but trying to get there.” . That didn’t sit well with him.

  9. Desley

    Probably not the right place for this, But I was wondering if you have ever critiqued this statement from Peacemaker Ministries on DV:

    “Question 5: My husband is both verbally and physically abusive. Some friends say I should just forgive and submit. Others say I should get out. What does the Bible say I should do?

    Answer: The Bible calls us to love our enemies and do all we can to resolve conflicts in a way that will lead to complete forgiveness and reconciliation. It also teaches that we should submit to those whom God has placed in authority over us. But neither of these commands cancels other biblical principles that apply to domestic abuse.

    Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 17:3, and Galatians 6:1-2 clearly command us to lovingly yet firmly confront someone who is caught in a sinful habit pattern. There is nothing in the Bible that says a wife should not follow these passages. If your husband is sinning against you through verbal or physical violence, God says you should do everything in your power to help him repent. If you cannot confront him safely on your own, you should go to your pastor and ask him to talk with your husband (Matt. 18:16). Or you could appeal to your husband to go to counseling with you. If he refuses to respond to counseling, then you should ask your church to exercise discipline in an effort to bring him to repentance (Matt. 18:17-20). (If your pastor is inexperienced in dealing with domestic violence, encourage him to read the CCEF booklet on Domestic Abuse).

    If your husband refuses to respond to church counsel or discipline, and if you or your children are in danger of serious harm, it is appropriate to separate temporarily and seek help from the police and civil courts (Rom. 13:1-5). Sometimes a violent man has to face civil consequences before he sees the seriousness of his behavior.

    Even while you pursue these avenues, you also need to follow other biblical commands with regard to your own heart and conduct. While nothing would justify abuse on the part of your husband, Jesus still calls you to take responsibility for your contribution to the situation, even if it seems small (Matt. 7:3-5). As God enables you to change things you may be doing that aggravate conflict in your marriage, it may be easier for your husband to submit to counseling and make lasting progress in controlling his anger.

    As God brings repentance and confession to your husband, you can grant forgiveness and experience a genuine reconciliation in your marriage, thereby demonstrating the redeeming power of God’s love and forgiveness.”

    • joepote01

      You know, the crazy thing to me, now, is that I remember being that naive…a time when that sort of advice would have sounded reasonable and scriptural to me.

      Seeing thru the smokescreen, for me, entailed (among other things) learning to accept that God does not over-ride human free will, and that no amount of effort, prayer, or faith on my part can ensure someone else’s repentance or desire for real change.

      The approach you’ve quoted simply does not account for that reality…treats it as though it is not even a possibility…

    • Anonymous

      Whatever. Yes, we must follow Scripture and deal with our own “sin” in the matter, even if it is not addressing the abuse and allowing it to continue on for years and years. But, I agree, that it is pretty naive, even when it comes to the Scriptures, as it ignores all the biblical reasons for divorce! Does anyone really think that God sits in Heaven and winks at victims of abuse and says, “don’t worry, just lead him to repentance and all will be well”. When oh when, are we going to learn that we do not unveil the eyes of the lost? We are only the messengers of the Gospel, we do not hold the power to open people’s eyes or fill them with the Holy Spirit, just like we cannot make those who profess Christ, live Christ.

      I also agree that God does not over-ride our own human free-will, but He does give His own the power to obey His Word and He does make the avenues for our deliverance over time. Thank God! If someone, by their own free-will makes a decision to abuse, the question isn’t if God can stop them from abusing us at all, the question is, has God already stopped them from doing something worse to us, in order to allow us to get out with our lives, sanity or beliefs still intact?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks for asking Desley. This is the same terrible and harmful counsel that we have seen consistently in Peacemakers. We dont recommend them for anyone. PM’s blames victims and keeps them in bondage, it is ignorant of the nature of abuse and enables abusers to continue their evil. Really this counsel is abusive itself and those who give it should be prohibited from counseling.

    • Desley, Jeff Crippen wrote a critique of the Peacemaker book a while ago. Click the link to read that post.

  10. “Abuse victims/survivors will quickly understand that this statement dooms victims to a lifetime of working to “restore relationships”, to “involvement in a process of reconciliation,” of “ongoing counsel and support,” but divorce? Forget it. Remarriage? Forget it. Abusers love this sort of talk.”

    Yes! Yes! I lived under this for SOOOOOOO long! This view is absolutely hopeless and produces nothing but darkness to a soul that has already been battered. If these false doctrines are believe, an abuser knows he’s “gotcha”. You have no escape! Oh . . . that council. Even the cover of their book brings back horrible memories. It’s what my nightmares are made of!

    • Anonymous

      I think it all goes to the same point above, that if any of these people were actually in an abusive situation, they would very quickly change their views, re-read their Bibles, purchase Crippen & Roberts’ and Instone-Brewer’s books and take a second look at every Scripture dealing with marriage that there is, and highlight the verses on divorce. I think what is hard, is being the ground breakers. I am trying to keep my eyes fixed on that — somehow God is using this horrid mess I am in, not just for me, but for those who come behind me, pounding the pathway for easier freedom from Egypt and the Pharisees of our day, for His praise and glory.

      • ” somehow God is using this horrid mess I am in, not just for me, but for those who come behind me, pounding the pathway for easier freedom from Egypt and the Pharisees of our day, for His praise and glory.”
        AMEN! and (((((hugs))))) to you, sister!

  11. Diane

    With regard to Grudem’s statement:

    “I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it. When pastors learn about abuse occurring in a home in their congregation, they have an obligation before God to seek to bring an immediate end to it, through direct personal conversation with the abuser, support of the abused, professional counselling, through means such as church discipline, protective personal intervention in dangerous situations, using law enforcement and other legal pressures, extensive prayer, and, if necessary, legal separation. Pastors also need to encourage their church members and attenders to tell someone in church leadership if abuse is occurring, so that appropriate means can be brought to bring an immediate end to it. Nobody in a leadership role in CBMW thinks that abuse within a marriage is justified by the biblical teachings about husbands and wives.”

    Not liking much of anything about Grudem or the CBMW, I will just say–big deal–to his statement. Strange second sentence–how are pastors supposed to bring an “immediate end” to it? Oh–through “direct personal conversation” with the abuser. Does that work to bring an immediate end??

    How does “supporting the abused” bring an immediate end? Counseling — sure, I don’t know I have not been in this situation…but does that bring an immediate end? Protective personal intervention in dangerous situations? Who defines dangerous? John Piper with his–oh, just endure one more night– theology? I wonder how many women followed Piper’s staying for a season only to end up in an even more dangerous situation? I wonder how many people were counseled by pastors who told them they were not in any danger…things are better because he’s had a talk with the abuser. All physical abuse is an immediate dangerous situation, isn’t it? My law enforcement husband and the PD he worked for sure thought so…enough to always send 2 officers to any DV situation. Yet pastors define what is a dangerous situation? Am I reading too much into that statement? I find it very dismissive and abounding in arrogance.

    Extensive prayer? How is that going to put an immediate end to it? I mean, this all sound really wonderful. Does it work? I would think the only immediate end to abuse is getting away from the abuser and then figuring out what to do next. I am betting that doesn’t mean returning home 2 weeks later. People just do not change that quickly, normally. Legal separation if necessary? Who will determine that? A separation for life? Isn’t that a rather insane idea to be blunt? I get so tired of reading pharisaical advice from people.

    He says church members (and attenders) need to tell the leadership of abuse so there can be an “immediate” end to it. He seems to think leadership can put an immediate end to abuse I would love to see how he would personally do that. He certainly could bottle it and sell it and save people a lot of grief with his immediate ending of abuse.

    I am glad he did give an honorable mention to law enforcement on his list since DV is a crime. Sorry- not impressed with Wayne Grudem’s comment.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Diane- Not too hard at all! Thank you. You are right — arrogance mixed with ignorance, and that is always a very bad recipe. I don’t see anything commendable in this statement by CBMW. Nothing. Of course they are going to come out and say that they deplore domestic violence. I mean, what else can anyone say and still save face? But it is in all the words that follow that really reveals what they really think of DV, abuse, perpetrators and victims. And this is the very SAME kind of mentality that permits child abuse and sexual abuse to hide in the church. These kinds of people and statements only announce to the secular authorities and therapists that the gospel, the Bible, Christians, pastors and churches are one big joke. It shames Christ’s name.

      Thanks again.

    • You’re right on every point you made, Diane. Outrage is the only proper response to this kind of high-calorie, low-nutrition, plastic food fare from Grudem and CBMW and Kassian.

      Yeah, the pastor counsels the abuser to stop his abuse. The abuser salutes to attention, “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,” and goes home never to abuse again. Fairyland.

      What actually happens is that when the pastor counsels the abuser to stop, the abuser goes home and escalates his abuse to a whole new level to intimidate the victim from ever disclosing again.

      This stuff can be lethal. Wake up, church!

  12. Laurie

    “We are confident of the power of God’s healing love to restore relationships fractured by abuse, but we realize that repentance, forgiveness, wholeness, and reconciliation is a process. Both abusers and abused are in need of on-going counseling, support and accountability.
    In instances where abusers are unrepentant and/or unwilling to make significant steps toward change, we believe that the Christian community must respond with firm discipline of the abuser and advocacy, support and protection of the abused.”

    So, in other words, it is the victim’s fault, faithlessness and need to repent and work out reconciliation. Because you can be sure that a smooth talking abuser would never appear to be unrepentant to those to whom he/she wants to impress with his/her repentance.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on, Laurie. I was just thinking as I read your comment – God has failed. He failed in His relationship with Israel and divorced her. He has failed to reconcile with all of those who end in hell. Guess He didn’t pray hard enough – no wait, how would that work? And He has failed to reconcile with the devil. Should have given the serpent more counseling I guess.

      • Jeff C your last comment should be enough to silence the Pharisee’s. It is so on target because abuse victims are given the message that it is up to them to correct/end the abusive behavior if only they prayed hard enough or had enough faith or whatever. That is so untrue. In my own situation at church most have been kind and supportive however people’s comments always seem to center around the idea of me reconciling with my husband (we are recently separated). I have absolutely no interest in reconciling and his behaviors suggest that he is unrepentant. The interesting thing is that I am often seen as hard-hearted and unforgiving because after 20 years I have finally said “Enough!”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thank you KarenR – wonderful to hear a bit of your story, particularly that you have finally drawn the boundary and said “no more.” In Scripture, prayer never replaces action when action clearly needs to be taken. Very good that you also see the difference between genuine repentance and false repentance, the latter being something abusers are so good at faking, especially if their facade of choice is professing to be a Christian. Many blessings on you in your exodus!

      • joepote01

        Jeff – Exactly!

        This whole mindset that divorce is always the fault of both individuals…that both partners are somehow responsible for each other’s shortcomings…

        If that were the case then Adam & Eve’s sin (violation of the covenant) would be God’s fault for allowing the relationship to deteriorate, or not having sufficient faith.

        Israel’s continual idolatry and covenant breaking in the OT would be God’s fault for failing to do whatever He was supposed to do to ensure Israel felt no need to break their covenant.

        And even Satan’s falling away and setting himself up to be equal with God would somehow be God’s fault.

        As though it were somehow possible for God to be ungodly…to be less than Himself…to not live up to the standard of His own nature????!!!!

        When followed to its logical conclusion, it makes no sense!

        Yet people tenaciously cling to this false tradition of men…misinterpretting scripture so as to appear to support it, because they cannot fathom it possibly being false.

        To step outside the paradigm of the church mythology of divorce requires not only seeing a need, but also a willingness to admit one’s prior view was completely wrong.

        Not an easy thing…especially for someone who has never personally encountered the evil of abuse…

      • Loren Haas

        In our DivorceCare group we teach that reconciling is “resetting” your relationship with your former spouse. Rarely does that mean restoring the marriage. Sometimes you can be “casual friends”, but more often only that you can have a “working relationship”, especially in regards to children. Sometimes reconciliation means recognizing that you cannot have any relationship because the other is dangerously toxic. That is still reconciling your relationship to match reality. Reality is your friend.
        Examining your part in the failure of the marriage does not mean you have any responsibility for abusive behavior by your spouse. ZERO. Please do not confuse this! Unexamined failures lead to repeating them. Perhaps you do need to grow, or correct behavior you learned in your family of origin. God can make something of this catastrophe if you work with Him in rebuilding, Acknowledging we have not always been perfect is not agreeing you deserve abuse. It is recognizing that we need a Savior.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Loren – I like that! “Reconciling your relationship to match reality.” Reality = “this guy is going to kill me.” Reconciling = “I shall acknowledge that I will never be vulnerable to him again!”

        I also see you point on self-examination. In my own experience from dealing with abusive people, I needed to examine myself to come to terms with how I had been allowing them to lay false guilt on me, make me feel like I was worthless and bad, and so on. My thinking on this was wrong and I had to correct it to be able to say to the next such person, “you are wrong, and you cannot speak to me in that manner. You do not know what I was thinking nor what my motive was, and therefore you cannot presume to control me in this way.”

      • Anonymous

        Israelites go to PM counseling to discuss Pharaoh’s treatment of them…
        Counselor: I agree. What Pharaoh is doing is wrong. I will have a talk with him. I think I have time next month to fit that in. In the mean time have you considered what you have done that caused him to make you a slave? I’m sure if you try harder… Are you meeting your brick quota each day? You know he is your authority. Yes, I know he isn’t supplying your straw anymore, but if you make sure to meet your quota.. In fact, try to make even more than he asks for. Then I’m sure that he will see that he is being alittle unreasonable and he will repent. How long should you do that? Well, how long has this been going on now? 400 years, you say. Well, you know God asks us to be patient and longsuffering…maybe just another couple hundred years is all. Well, our time is up. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Have a nice day!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Anon – you forgot just one thing – “That will be $125.”

      • Anonymous,

        That is perfect!

      • joepote01

        Anon – Good analogy! :-)

      • joepote01

        Loren Haas – You make two very good points.

        First I like your definition of reconciling as “resetting” the relationship, which may include being reconciled to the reality that there can be no relationship. This is not how the word is normally used, but this is a definiton of reconcile that I can live with. More importantly, it is a departure from how the word is more commonly used, as returning to exactly the same level of intimacy as before.

        Second, on the topic of mistakes made and lessons learned, yes, there are always things to be learned. The very fact that I wound up in such a dysfunctional relationship says something about me and my shortcomings, and the need to grow and learn from past mistakes. I would, in fact, recommend good professional counseling for anyone leaving an abusive relationship.

        However, it is extremely important to be careful in how this is worded, as well as how it is discussed. Most innocent parties emerging from an abusive relationship have lived for years under the burden of feeling responsible for relational failures over which they had no control.

      • Laurie

        Jeff…serpent counseling…haha! :)

      • Laurie

        Karen R.–after 20 years you said enough!, same here. Where were all these who judge us as hard-hearted for the 20 years we said, sure, poop on me some more, I hope it will save your soul…?

  13. Lynette D

    The thing that bothers me the most is when they say ‘you have to look at your own sins.’ It is basically saying “You did something to cause this.” NOTHING a wife does justifies being abused! Nothing!

    • joepote01

      Absolutely, Lynette!

      Not only that, but nothing the innocent spouse could have done, within the marriage, would have prevented the abuse, either.

      • Loren Haas

        Joepote01,
        I agree that it is VERY important how it is worded and the concept that your abuser chose to be abusive instead of many other available options has to be emphasized. Really, the point is not to repeat the same mistakes by growing from the experience. Putting everything on the abuser says that it is all about picking the right person instead of being the right person, one that does look like a good potential victim to an abuser. I guess my experience as a divorce recovery group leader directs me towards guideing people away from repeating the process again. So many of our participants are on divorce number two or three and they realize that they had just married the same person again and history was being repeated. Breaks my heart.

  14. Diane

    Laurie said-

    “Because you can be sure that a smooth talking abuser would never appear to be unrepentant to those to whom he/she wants to impress with his/her repentance.”

    Yes. Reminds me of an extremely arrogant professing Christian pastor by the name of Doug Wilson who presumed to know that a member of his church – pedophile Steven Sitler – was truly repentant of his many crimes of child sexual abuse (history of in several states over many years) against the members of Wilson’s church for approx.18 months starting in August of 2003. So much so convinced, that when someone finally caught Sitler and he was arrested, Wilson wrote a letter to the judge requesting a light penalty for him in of March 2005 before his sentencing. After all, Wilson had initiated six whole counselling sessions with Sitler after his arrest, and Wilson felt Sitler had truly repented. The judge place Sitler on lifetime probation (never being allowed to be alone with children –ever– being one stipulation of his probation) along with a slap on the wrist jail sentence of a little over a year.

    Last summer, Doug Wilson officiated at Sitler’s courtship arranged marriage (arranged by Wilson and an elder) to a young woman with whom he intends to have children, in spite of his parole officer’s recommendation. I guess there is no law preventing him from having children. For Wilson’s sake, and for Sitler’s wife’s sake, I hope Steven Sitler has truly repented. This is the danger of treating abuse so lightly…or presuming to know if someone has repented.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wilson is simply well, a fool in all of this. And as you point out, it isn’t his own neck that is at risk here. Why would this fellow not abuse his own children should they have any. Furthermore, a troublesome undercurrent here in Wilson’s thinking seems to be that a man’s only problem, when he commits a sexual crime, is that he “needs a woman/wife.” And that means, if I am thinking it through correctly, that ultimately sexual crimes are the fault of women. I mean, if women can fix such men, then that means they haven’t done so. Therefore the church needs to step in and find such people a wife — from among the lambs of the flock of course — and all will be well. The leaders of the church will tell these women who they are going to marry, in conjunction with the girl’s father of course. Which brings up the whole issue of “courtship” – but that is a topic for another time.

      • Diane

        I believe you are right in everything you have said. Having read as much as I could possibly find on the whole Sitler situation simply out of shock and curiosity (since, after all, John Piper and so many others highly promote Wilson), I agree Wilson thought a wife would “fix” Sitler, and what a fine day it was when Wilson married Steve and Katie and proved to them all that he (Wilson) was right and Sitler is rehabilitated. I only hope that is the case.

        Another odd thing is that Wilson wrote on his blog about how the congregation would treat/view Sitler once he served his “sentence” and was back at the church. Wilson said he would treat him as a “dangerous man”. Wilson also wrote in his book “Fidelity” that (paraphrasing) “pedophiles are not a good gene pool from which to pick sons-in law”. I have to ask–why is a dangerous man, whose genes are not acceptable to Wilson for a son in law, acceptable for someone else?

    • I find what Doug Wilson did sickening and repulsive at worst and foolish at best. I have a picture of him sacrificing a lamb from his flock on an altar . . . just to prove a point. And future little lambs, as well.

    • Anonymous

      Now see, this is just wrong to me. Biblically wrong! That man, even if he was repentant, should have done the time for his crime against all those children, because that is what God’s Word says the Civil law was put in place for — to protect the innocent and be for good to those who do good and to be fear and punishment to those who do bad! If he was truly repentant, in my opinion, he should have said that he was willing to do the time for his crimes, to try in some small (very small) way to compensate for what he had done. Instead, he got off and those children will be left forever to deal with what that man did to them, even if they did “forgive” him. Perhaps when they get a little older, they will be able to sue him for damages to pay for their counseling or lack thereof! I do not see anything wrong with that or sinful about it. I believe that God put the Civil laws in place for children just like this, as well as anyone else who is abused, and the Church has no business hiding it from the authorities, covering it up, or ignoring victims who need help, nor taking the law into their own hands. I wonder what they would have done, if it had been a murder?

  15. What’s been banging around in my head all day is this. He’s not mentioned here, but Bruce Ware said that if a woman isn’t submissive, her husband has one of two choices. He can either wilt under her and become a milk sop or he can become abusive. Ware is part of the CBMW and, as far as I know, none of them have ever corrected him on this. Someone tell me if I’m wrong about that.

    Because if I’m not wrong, here’s the thing. According to Ware, abuse is the fault of the woman because she’s not submissive. And now Grudem says,

    I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it.

    So…who is he rebuking?

    • joepote01

      Interesting question, BIT!

    • Jeff Crippen

      The woman.

    • Barnabasintraining:

      Do you have a source for that Ware quote? I’m in shock. I shouldn’t be. But I am.

      • It was from a sermon he preached on June 22, 2008 at Denton Bible Church. Donchaknow the sermon doesn’t seem to be available anymore. However, most of the sites where he was criticized have kept their responses. Danni Moss has a copy of a critical article from Ethics Daily (original no longer available at their site) here:

        http://dannimoss.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/sbc-professor-blames-wives-for-husbands-abuse/

        This is the Ware quote:

        “And husbands on their parts, because they’re sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged–or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches,”….

        “He will have to rule, and because he’s a sinner, this can happen in one of two ways. It can happen either through ruling that is abusive and oppressive–and of course we all know the horrors of that and the ugliness of that–but here’s the other way in which he can respond when his authority is threatened. He can acquiesce. He can become passive. He can give up any responsibility that he thought he had to the leader in the relationship and just say ‘OK dear,’ ‘Whatever you say dear,’ ‘Fine dear’ and become a passive husband, because of sin.”

        Here’s a link to a letter that references the sermon still available at Ethics Daily:

        http://ethicsdaily.com/an-open-letter-to-dr-bruce-ware-cms-12922

        There’s other stuff on it too if you Google Bruce Ware submission abuse. Or something along those lines.

      • Desley
      • Nevermind, Barnabasintraining – I found it.

      • Dee and Deb have mentioned it a couple of times at Wartburg, too. You could probably get more info from them. They reference it specifically here:

        http://thewartburgwatch.com/2009/05/22/revictimizing-victims/

    • Well I am not aware of this Mr. Bruce Ware dude. But i have come to the conclusion that MANY church leaders love to openly “DEPLORE” any abuse in the family….at least in their “outside voice” But listen a little closer, or a little longer and their mentality is strikingly different. ……they will say what they think people want to here in a sermon or messege about abuse, how else could a GODLY man make such hainess statements, seriously? Where is GOD in this mans thinking? For one if I were a man, which I am not, I would take insult to that moronic nonesense…since I am a women who has been tormented for years from an abuser I think he probably is one. If I am wrong, great!! That just means he is an average idiot…..male or female, to say something so ridiculous!!”???? Barf!!!!!

  16. In 2010 I wrote a Critique of CBMW’s Statement on Abuse. If you go to my Resources page on my Not Under Bondage website, and look in the left hand column you will see it listed and you can download it as a PDF.
    It actually says ‘written by James Synot and Barbara Roberts’ – which is kinda true because my husband at the time, James, helped brainstorm of a few of the ideas in the critique. But it was basically penned by me.

    I sent the critique by email to all the most important people at CBMW that I could find email addresses for. I got back some correspondence from the President saying that they were going to revise their Statement on Abuse. But they never have. Still waiting. If they ever revise it, I will be eager to let my network know.
    Oh, some of the correspondence I got back indicated they felt annoyed that I had cc-d my email to as many of their big names as I could find (which was maybe 20 people). I was basically told off for sending the same email to so many of their people, as if I was just sending spam.

    And yes BIT, when Bruce Ware came out with his atrocious statement about un-submissive wives causing husbands to be abusive, many people blogged critiques of him. He just ignored them all.
    Sorry everyone I’ve come late to this discussion.

    • And yes BIT, when Bruce Ware came out with his atrocious statement about un-submissive wives causing husbands to be abusive, many people blogged critiques of him. He just ignored them all.

      OK.

  17. Jeff S

    “We are against all forms of physical, sexual and /or verbal abuse.”

    I sure am glad they took such a bold stance on this issue of abuse. For a moment all the abusers out there might fear they were drawing support from Grudem and therefore had free reign to do their worst without fear of someone being against their behavior.

    I regret I have missed most of this discussion. It’s turned out to be a good venting board for this issue and how much it’s really hurt folks. This is not a mere issue of belief and statements made to the general public. This view destroys people. Those who hold it should tremble with fear at the ramifications of their teaching.

  18. Heather, I love it whenever you comment. You voice reality for all those children in abusive homes who do not have a voice. And yes, the effects of living with an abusive parent and fearing for your other parent and yourself and your siblings … these effects are/can be lifelong. Bless you, and thanks for every word you’ve written.

  19. Also, for those good (protective) mothers and fathers who are worried for the effects of their ex-spouse’s abuse on their children, please do know that healing is possible in the Lord. I know from personal experience how the brain and nervous system can be re-wired by Jesus, having found healing from childhood sexual abuse. Praise God. But I don’t want to diminish the effects that others may still feel. When I say I’ve found healing, I mean substantial healing. There may be still some effects lingering; I’m not sure. And it took many many years before I found that healing, and I truly believed I would go to my grave without finding it. Like any healing from God, He sometimes heals people, and sometimes does not (not yet, not till the new heavens and new earth come). But He is sovereign, and we cannot explain why he sometimes leaves certain things unhealed, but we do know that He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

    Heather’s still being affected by the abuse from her childhood seems to be being used by God to give a voice for all the children who suffer like she did. (Hope you don’t mind me saying that, Heather. Please tell me if I have said something wrong.)

  20. Heather, thank you for telling us that. It’s stories like these that keep us persevering on this work. It sounds like you have done some amazing stuff in dealing with the effects of all that violation.
    I was especially struck by this part of what you shared: “I was super angry at my mother for not protecting us. It took me years to admit this because I thought I was betraying her.”
    I imagine those feelings might be ones that many child-survivors have in common. I do hope others who can identify will read your words, and know they are not alone.
    ((((Hugs)))) to you.

  21. Heather, You’ve been through so much. Thank you for bravely telling your story. Big hugs to you from me, as well.

  22. There was a professor at my first seminary who was the big-wig “Marriage and Family” prof. He and his wife were young at the time. We were all about the same age. People thought he walked on water. They were giant proponents of CBWM. We all had to read the big thick textbook and everyone believed that birth control was of the devil and that home schooling was the only choice. I was striving, back then, to show God that I was a good mother and win His approval. I home schooled for 3 years. I had two babies during that time. The wife of the professor seemed perfect. She spoke softly to everyone (including her children) and her children were absolute angels. She never seemed agitated or tired and she just kept on having babies. The pressure in our church (they went to our church, as well) and on the ladies at the seminary was astounding. Why couldn’t we be like her?

    This wife befriended me (I’ll never knew exactly why). She sought me out and found ways for our children to get together. After a few months, she told me that she was highly depressed. I was shocked! She was the perfect example of biblical woman-hood! She told me that she did not have a relationship with Christ . . . that her husband was her “priest”. And that she felt empty inside. One day, she called me from her house and told me she didn’t want to live anymore. She was suicidal. And no one knew it! I didn’t know what to do so I called her husband at the seminary and told him that his wife was struggling. That she didn’t want to come out of her room and didn’t want to live anymore. He thanked me and hung up. The wife called me back a few hours later livid with me for telling her husband. He didn’t go home. He called her and told her this: “It might be best if you didn’t share all your dirty laundry with Megan.” She never spoke to me again. This was one of the behind the scenes displays that told me that our “offerings” to God of biblical manhood and womanhood were just that — offerings. And we know He doesn’t want offerings. Her striving was driving her to deep depression. CBMW promotes striving and excludes others. It deeply saddens me. I am so glad I broke free.

    • Megan,

      That is an incredibly sad story.

      This stuck out to me, though:

      She told me that she did not have a relationship with Christ . . . that her husband was her “priest”.

      This is heresy. We all have One Mediator before the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not have another one in between us and Christ. That is why in Christ there is neither male nor female, etc. Anyone may come, by faith, without any other person or process (they don’t have to become a Jew first, for example) and be immediately accepted by the Father for Christ’s sake. No one else stands in between.

      “He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.”

      • Yes, BIT. I think her lack of relationship to Christ and looking to her hus as her savior was putting her in a very dark place. I remember this prof teaching a lecture in which he had God at the top, then a line pointing down to the husband and then a line pointing down to the wife. As though God spoke to the wife through the husband. A very sad place, indeed. :(

      • Megan,

        This is very disturbing. What was the extent to which they took this man-over-woman thing? Do they teach women don’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit? Do women actually need a husband or some other human man (a male relative, say) to be saved? What happens if he dies or something? Can she remarry? If so, which of these men is actually responsible for eternity? Can women pray directly to God? She really actually looked to her husband as her savior? (My head is spinning a bit here.)

        What is the whole doctrine?

      • BIT — I never heard the prof take it to the logical conclusions you point out here (and, yes — taking it to these logical conclusions is very disturbing!!). I can certainly point you in the directions of his books on marriage — maybe in a private email? Since I have already shared something so personal about this couple, I would not want to put it on the blog. But, I am happy to share!

      • Thanks! I’ll pop you an email. :)

    • Just Me

      That’s so sad. I hope that poor woman is okay now. Think of how many people that couple could have helped if they had just been honest about their issues. Pretending to be perfect isn’t doing anyone any good (not the husband, not the wife, not the children and not the people they are ministering to).

      Megan, you were a good friend to her.

      • Just Me — I was not the best friend to her. If I received a call like that today, I would respond completely differently. I would not have called her husband. It is true that I did not know what I was doing back then and I was afraid for her. But, I wish I could have another chance with this lady.

      • Just Me

        Megan, sorry I caught your follow-up so late. It got lost amongst the discussions (which are great, btw).

        But you were a good friend. Your heart hurt for her when you learned of her pain, which is more empathy than her own husband was giving her. Sure, you’d do something different now, but you made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time. I’d take you as a friend any day!

      • Sweet Just Me . . . You have such a big heart. Hugs.

    • joepote01

      Oh, that is so sad!

      What a horrible burden! What an awful way to live.

      To read and hear of freedom in Christ, but to see it as always just beyond your personal grasp…like a mirage to be endlessly pursued but never attained…

      Megan, this story is a reminder to me that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.

      Our fight is against the ungodly, unbiblical, legalistic teaching of CBWM and other similar teachings. It is not against the poor, blind, lost people who are laboring under that teaching.

      Thank you, for sharing!

      • That is so true, Joe. Thank you for reminding me about our struggle — that it is against a very evil power, indeed.

        I don’t know where she is today. I assume she is still at the seminary. :( She wanted to be my friend but she would not have listened to anything I had to say. Of course, I wouldn’t have known what to say back then, anyway. I was in my own little world of striving, as well. I pray for her, though, now and then.

  23. Just Me

    Heather, Thank you so much for sharing what abuse is like from the perspective of a child. I will pray that God will give you healing.

  24. I had to comment on the Statement on Abuse by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood…

    First what perpetuates abuse is the thinking of this council. Who educated them on abuse situations, Frued? The whole “Mutual Causation” theory is what they are selling here.

    Understand the mentality of an abuser. He does not need you to side with him, all he needs is to hear that it is not all his fault. Like why do they feel the need NOT to toe the line at abuse? Yet they say they are deeply against this un godly horror. Yet they open up all the escape routes for the abuse to continue? When I read a statement such as both the victom and abuser need accountablility, it dismisses their prior claims of actually saying they stand against spousal abuse. Its transparent, and hypocrytical, and sadly damaging to victoms….overall lame! Kinda made me through up a little.

    A. The 8th bullet point, if they had any education of the dynamics of abuse, the council would not post such idiocy. Abusers are always willing to say sorry, the problem is they do not feel sorry, they act it…especially if they are busted. They get attention, sympathy and reward in fake repentance. Example, my spouse must of been baptized 15 times, he would cry while taking communion, people would cry when they saw his sorrow, his reward was the attention he recieved there, knowing those people would coeherce me into forgiveness, which meant to reconcile, which meant going home with him. Did not matter if I said I could forgive him from the hotel 8!!

    B. “Realization that Reconciliation is part of the process” REALLY? my question would be “What process are they refferring too?” What they are really saying is, “If he beats you now and then, you have our permission to leave, BUT remember when he turns nice dont forget you have to go back!!””

    An abusive man already knows the mission is to reconcile.

    You are his property after all, his woman. So what they REALLY wanna send across here is that ….””Listen WOMAN! You must understand that, YOU must get that RECONCILIATION is the normal process in marriage” The tone is, if you do not accept this you will be held accountable!!!!

    Abuse is overt, abuse is subtle both are painful and cause fear, anxiety and hopelesness in the person on the recieving end. Abuse is like MOLD, it thrives in these dank, dark places, although real mold does serve purpose at times, so I do not want to give mold a bad rap.

    C. The most damaging of all!!!! ” ..both the abuser and their victoms are in need of on going counsel” *look, maybe so, but NOT YOURS!……anyways “” both are in need of support and accountability.”” Sooooo ???? Abusers and their victoms alike need to be held accountable????

    This is such a slippery slope, I for one would like to push them down it.

    Abusers would take all this information, and use it against their partners and attach Gods name to it. Every word, in their thinking is giving them a greenlight to continue, because if its LABELED, minimized rather, as just a “Marital issue” then guess who REALLY is getting the blame, NOT him. Right now I am looking around for caveman to club me over the head!!

    Does the word council, imply they have counceled with one another and they all are like minded, therefore the truth on this matter is their own thinking because they have NO education on abuse, but because they all AGREED its the FREAKIN TRUTH?

    I am not trying be harsh, or sound critical of the authority of a “council” but where we live there is a “council” called the “Needle Pushers” Seriously, this is a bunch of older women who formed a council for getting together to knit stuff…
    ..and NO, this is NOT a group this is a “”council”

    They wanted everyone to know how serious they were about knitting.

    Unfortunately they ALSO never thought through the name!!
    But the fact they decided to be a “”Council” gave them the authority to keep pushing those needles.
    Perhaps a bad example, due to this council did no harm, they REALLY do know everything you need to know about knitting!!

    I remember how desperate and alone, and isolating being abused by a spouse is. I knew it was NOT a two person issue, with an abusive man, he can get rid of the first wife, and he will just continue his course with the second??? I also remember trying to explain that reasoning with him, being a better wife, catering to him more would NOT help…I remember trying to explain to Pastors although we are married ABUSE is solely on him and that everytime he was there crying to them, or everytime he took communion, it in fact increased the abuse……the solution for them was the whole “spiritual battle, speech they learned in semenary, and if I would pray for him more, he would be won over!!!” Does NOT apply to abuse situations, women and children should immediatley get supported in getting out, and away, period. If the pastors want to take on the responsibility of catering to him, listening to his lies, comforting him so he feels more emolded…they have MY permission to do so. I am now an official “Council”

    BUT all women and children should NEVER be counseled together with an abuser, how much truth could you possibly get out of that? They should be protected, as the first priority. They can safely pray, counsel, find support, and if you wanna hold them accountable for that go right ahead!!!!

    My point is all these things if they deem it to be part of a “process” can be carryed out in context of NOT subjecting women and children to farther, physical, emotional, mental abuses. These “councils are on the hook for emotionally, mentally abusing women who need help”

    So lets look at the thinking involved here……how does say, like a pedaphile get away with abusing innocent children? The tactics are the exact same, they LIE about it, they make threats to their victoms that they will harm others if they tell i.e. abusive men and there children are easy targets to control their spouses!!! They both, pedaphile and spousal abusers shift the blame onto the victom, they use verbal abuse, words of disgust and contempt, they flash in and out of holding you up on a pedastool, they veiw you as an object, they have no real empathy for pain they cause…..they all set up their victoms, they all alienate, and isolate their victoms. They ALL minimize what they have done, for example a punch turns into a “tap” to get your attention. A predator my say “well it only happen once, I will never do it again” which is strikingly familiar, right? They both seem to be the nicest most caring people to the outside world, they are both highly ENTITLED and SKILLED MANIPULATORS…….this council SAYS they stand against this but they are
    not only allowing for an escape route for abusers, the effect of their ignorance is the complete condoning of abuse.

    I hope they learned a little in the last decade. I think I said enough.

    • Well said, but I especially like this:

      “An abusive man already knows the mission is to reconcile.”

      I remember signing up for a “your-marriage-is-in-trouble-this-will-save-it” retreat that my church was going to pay for, and I felt I had to go because they were putting their money out there for us, right? And I felt like such a failure answering questions like

      Do you think God will save your marriage? No.
      Are you willing to change even if your spouse is not? No.

      I was shaking after I read what I was supposed to be committing too. I couldn’t imagine what I would need to change that would bring peace if she didn’t change . . .

      Of course her answers passed with flying colors. Of course God was going to save the marriage. . .

      (We didn’t end up going because she ended up being in a mental hospital at the time of the retreat, and we didn’t re-scheduled because our marriage therapist told me it would not be good for us after he halted our therapy).

  25. Yikes. i can relate to the woman who was empty and did not want to live, i was a newborn in christ when I got married, after about a year I felt that relationship with God was severed.

    The truth was the abuse i was enduring snuffed out all my feelings, and emotionally tapped everything I had….praying and fostering my relationship was the last thing I had energy for, and the distance I felt from God once I was married to this man, was something I also felt a deep loss for. But God was there regardless if I felt him or not, he doesnt let go.

    Looking back, I saw many empty vessels that appeared so perfect next to my existence at home. The church environment would improve about 1000 percent if ABUSE itself was talked about openly….silence keeps it mutating into different subjects, rather than the specific evil that it has become.

    I can understand how betrayed, and further alone she must of felt when you confided in her husband after she opened up to you.. It was not your fault, as you know.

    Silence is what kept her trapped. He knew that, thats why he also knew she would end a relationship with you, he was the one who made sure she shut you out….if only she knew she was not alone in her struggle in her marriage.

    The way in which he responded to his wife for having any kind of need was appauling! His response to her showed that he was deeply emotionally abusive. All he wanted was to shut her up, and cut her off. I hope he did not succeed……for her to be in that spot and for him not to notice as her spouse, tells you something. He probably knew, but chose to not care for her like he should of been, as long as at church his image was not tarnished due to her.

    Deeply disturbing. Im no expert on aything, but God has a relationship with her, wether her husband was in the way or not….she just could not feel his presence because of her deep sorrow, she has a spouse that seems to not even care about her existence, that is deppressing!!! She felt hopless, found courage to tell somebody, if she could of told him she would of done that, bot obviously she could NOT go to him.

    I am hoping she reaches out again, maybe reads your blog, knows people understand her plight and genuinley care for her and her kids.

    • Well said, Memphis. I thought the same thing when i read Megan’s story: that that woman probably was born again and in Christ, but she was just feeling that her relationship with him had become non-existent because her husband had abused the stuffing out of her. If she was under that kind of controlling male leadership teaching that so easily lurks beneath the surface of the CBMW rhetoric, her husband could have been telling her “You are not right with God, he’s angry with you, he’s turned his face against you because you are not obeying me properly.” This kind of corrosive brainwashing can make a person think she’s lost her faith, even though she hasn’t.
      And yes, Jesus holds onto us even when we can’t feel it; even when it seems like we are in the darkest pit, He never lets us go.

      • Yep i remember plenty of days in church with this monster grinning and snarling down at me everytime the pastor talked about anything negative most all of us humans have done at one time or another, BUT not him!!! He was so imbeded with justifying his treatment of us, that his only focus was MY faults, even the imaginary ones he created in his picture of me. He would do the same with the kids, whatever it took to deflect his attention away from his own nightmarish self….I often wonder how people never notice this bobble head in church!!! He may as well of stood up and pointed with both hands at me during every sermon!

  26. I’m like you, Heather, the righteous anger (and we’re in good company: God is angry with the wicked every day) the way we can still be triggered, the images that won’t be erased, the desire to help others, etc.

  27. Heather – you make what some people would say is an obvious point here, but it isn’t obvious at all. In a sense, why do any of us care what CBWM says? Oh sure, you can read their books and articles and we can go to other parachurch groups and do the same and often learn some things. But authority? Neither should local churches submit to them. Amazing, isn’t it, how when some notable Christian like Grudem or a group like CBWM says something, we “neurotics” (people with a conscience and who sincerely want to please Christ) feel like we have to obey them. But who are they? Just people. That’s all. Christ and His Word are our only authority.

    • On the CBMW Statement on Abuse, they don’t even mention calling authorities when abuse occurs. Mary Kassian posted a comment on my blog tonight that she liked my idea of adding it to their statement and would pass it along. Not sure it’s going to do anything. Look at CJ Mahaney – he’s being sued for failure to report and abuse coverups throughout his churches – it is a church-wide problem. None of his celebrity pastor/leader buddies have said anything publicly against him, either. Silence is a choice.

  28. lydia

    I love this blog. God bless you all. I cannot believe a blog exists where a pastor understands the effects of abuse and says divorce is ok. I can remember going through Instone-Brewer with a friend of mine who was abused to try and make her see what her pastor told her was not true. She could not produce salvation for her “believing” husband to change. He already knew th truth! I would read her Hebrews 10:26-31 but she was convinced God would send her to hell for a divorce. You know what? It came down to the fact that the pastor carried more weight than scripture. His interpretation was correct. Oh the horror of giving someone that much control over your major life decisions.

    It took getting beat up in front of her 4 year old daughter for her to leave both her husband and her church.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Lydia – Thank you. And thank you for that story. You know, the fact is that simply looking at the circumstances such as you describe in your friend’s “marriage,” it is obvious that the Lord would have the victim free, away, and divorced from such wickedness. I mean, just how tough is that to see? But we have all of these churches and theologians and pastors and church members screaming the byword “God hates divorce” (not in the Bible by the way) and fancying themselves as self-righteous protectors of…..what? So the poor victims, who want to serve and obey Christ, get drawn into this whole cruel mess.

  29. Im with you. Abuse at home intensifies not only when you try to leave, but you let others in on his behavior, the real party starts when you get back home from say, communion, and his tearful reunion in front of others, They all, wether wittingly or unwittingly are responsible for EVERY single time they have sent a women and her children back into the war zone.
    Mandatory abuse awareness, then daily they will see these repeated statement and behaviors coming out of these abusers AND only then they will connect the dots…..or no?

    i think I should write a check list of the top ten things an abusive man says, when he is confronted. Make them check each one off during every counseling session when abuse is involved!!! They would think I was some sort of witch, or medium or a magical fairy who reads minds!!! Really all they need is to check out the wheel of abuse, Identify that 1million women cannot be making up the same srories, use my checklist, assist the victoms to a safe place of food and shelter, and take on the abuser on there own. If they persist hard enough they will more than likely get the crap beat out of them too. So look, if they dont want to get involved, stay ignorant and butt out!! Its church for goodness sake, take care of your people, open your eyes and be pro active OR remain CoMPLETELY silent so the rest of us do not have to suffer longer than we would of chose on our own, Boils down to being RESPONSIBLE in the position God may or may not have put you.

    I would NOT reccomend ANY abused women enter into pastorial counseling with her spouse!
    Your misery will only be prolonged trying to treat it as if you have a “Marital Issue” It is an abusive issue period. All the minimization of a womens fears, only magnify what she is about to go through. I have known many abusers, never known one that was truly saved? Oh wait, let me rephraise that, I have never known an abuser who actually stopped abusing his spouse, unless she died and he got a different wife to carry on his legacy with…..and in the church infrastructure, there never will be.
    So to be the realist here, its like a two percent chance they will ever change even with specific help. So add the pastorial counseling scenario, and that dropps that percentage down to say??? UH? I dunno? A negative 100 percent.
    If the reality of the damage they cause is not enough to turn the ignorance around, I am quite certain the reality of the ugly truth will have no effect either….if they wont accept responsiblity for the damage and perpetuation of abuse they cause, I highly doubt they will ever truly listen to an abuse victom. Good thing we serve a just God, and he sees EVERYTHING.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Memphis – I operate on the assumption that ZERO percent of abusers change, and as I have often said, if one rare one surprises me someday I will be very happy. And I also maintain that an abuser, as we define abuse: entitlement, power and control, justification – completely precludes any person who is characterized by such a mentality from being a regenerate person. The thing is impossible.

    • Jeff, I wholeheartedly agree. WOW I am relieved, I have seen this all too many times to not know the truth in that.
      I am proud of myself for using restraint this time with my comments……pretty sure, my fingertips went numb hours ago!

      Thanks for hearing me out!

  30. That was for Heather, YOU do help others, because you share your life with them. In my flesh I want to curse and swear and scream of the injustice, and sometimes I get a little carried away, I leak all over the pages, i get a little fired up. But its who I am. I still have nightmares, I still have pain, worry and stress related issues because of my ex. BUT nonetheless those memories serve as the purpose of propelling us forward to ease somebody elses pain, most important so they know they are NOT ALONE. My parents both SUCkED as a kid, I have to seperate from their madness, and stay at my own loving distance……my call, since I am the only one who knows what that distance is from day to day. My Mom is one of those people who if you cry, and tell her your pain from childhood…she will turn it on you, and say “What did you want for ME to be ALONE???””

    At that point in my adult life after suffering as a child, then suffering the abuse from my spouse for over a decade, and still on going. At that moment, she help me to realize she chose herself over us, and still does. Her legacy from that point forward was not my own, nor my childrens, her bullshit is just that her bullshit. {I hope i can say that’….

    Anyways as I have said before, she help me to let go of somebody that was never really there for me in the first place….I move forwards with my kids, thank God for my babies every day, so grateful HE chose me, HE supplies me with any wisdom I have, HE removed us, Delivered us, cleared the way. Its hard to be a PRESENT mom when you live in constant fear for the life of your family, HE has protected us, gave me back my passion, made me the best Mom i can be, and i do not measure that by anyone elses standards.

    ……Again I will rebuild you, and you shall be rebuilt……
    I do not have a bible with me, mine was destroyed at some point when I left. But i remember god giving me that very simple comfort. I think its from Jeremiah…….

    • Memphis, did you know you can read the bible online at many websites for free. I don’t know how limited you are for gigabytes, but that might be a way you could look up passages.
      Thank you for sharing. You are brave. You sound like you have quite a lot of PTSD, which is totally understandable seeing all the trauma you’ve been though. :(

    • PTSD? Kind of embarrassing my letter came out that you could tell i have alot?
      WOW? Yikes!!!!

    • So sorry if I embarrassed you, Memphis. Please forgive me. I said PTSD because you mentioned that you still have nightmares – and nightmares about former abuse are one of the symptoms of PTSD.
      And by the way, my personal view of PTSD is that it is nothing to be ashamed of. The shame and embarrassment should rightly belong to the person(s) who abused us, not to us who were used as playthings by evil people.
      And when the church gives the double-whammy by siding with the abuser, we are traumatized all the more. Good grief, if we weren’t traumatized by the abuse we have been put through, we would be unfeeling blocks of concrete, not human beings.
      I hope that helps.

  31. Loren Haas

    There have been so many insightful comments and hard learned lessons passed along in these comments that I wish there was an “Amen” button I could push! Could you work on that? Thanks to everyone that has shared their stories, anger and frustrations. Your tears are not wasted.
    “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Ps. 126:5).

    • joepote01

      Loren – I found myself wishing for the same thing… an AMEN button. There are a lot of good discussions on this thread, and I don’t feel compelled to jump in the middle of each conversation. And, yet, I want to be supportive. If we were face to face, you’d see my head nodding up and down in affirmation of agreement. :-)

      Good stuff! Lots of courageous people! God is good!

      • Me too! :)

      • Song

        Nodding my head, too!!

  32. Jeff Crippen

    Heather – one of the most important marks of maturity in Christ (which it appears to me that you have learned well) is that we no longer have to separate and reject and…abuse…other believers who differ on certain points of doctrine, interpretation, and application. As long as we all fall within the bounds of true faith in the gospel of Christ, then realizing that we don’t have to see eye to eye on every point is extremely freeing. As long as the Christianity that we profess results in us loving one another instead of abusing one another, then we are disciples. One of the chief marks of the religion of the Pharisees (which was and remains very, very abusive) is that it used threat and fear to force people to step right into line on every single tradition and point that such systems teach. And whatever our view on those difficult Scriptures on husband/wife, man/woman roles, we know that as genuine Christians we are not going to use our specific positions to abuse others. The doctrinal position that I embrace regarding those topics places me among pastors and churches and practices that I am hardly at peace with in many cases. My “camp” is guilty of adding to the abuse of abuse victims. That is why we wrote our book, A Cry for Justice.

  33. so that’s what causes all those typos! Now I understand. I don’t like typing on ipads.

    • Jeff S

      I type almost all of my posts on an iPad– so convenient but loads of typos :(

  34. Red

    “Notice once again the glaring absence of any affirmation that divorce is a biblical means of dealing with abuse.”

    But it must be this way in Grudem’s mind. Why? Because women CANNOT have POWER over their marriages to divorce! If wives have that kind of power, then what other kind of power and authority do they have?

    I cannot imagine complementarianism teaching that wives have any kind of power over their husbands, even if it’s just the right to divorce from their husband’s AUTHORITY. Can you imagine, complementarian wives having authority over their husband’s, authority to divorce their master? It just doesn’t fit comp structure.

    • Loren Haas

      Red, you have hit the nail on the head. This is going to sound harsh, but just as rape is not about sex, but asserting power, the concept of complementarianism in marriage is not about following the bible, but about men controlling women. Yes, you can point to examples and verses that suggest the headship of men, but it is my contention that is not the model God intended. That is part of the fallen world and an accommodation God made for our hardheartedness. Jesus never taught directly against slavery, yet his teachings were used to justify abolition. The spirit of the teaching of Jesus likewise contradicts complementarianism. Complementists want to live in the Old Testament and advance a wooden interpretation of the New Testament because it suits their desire to be part of a unique “priesthood” that controls. This is contrary to Jesus, who did not walk the earth to control, but to serve sacrificially. Priests do not sacrifice themselves, they sacrifice others..

      • Red

        Loren, I agree that generally the concept of compism in marriage is not about following the Bible but rather about men controlling women. I believe there are those that do believe it is Biblical and that there are those who do know better.

        Regarding the passages that have the term translated ‘head’ and are used to support complementarian belief – For years I’ve studied those passages and I’ve concluded that the context does not support the idea that ‘head’ means “to have authority over”, as I tried to prove to myself that the complementarian position was true or Biblical. Contextualy, the comp interpretation in 1 Co 11 and Eph 5 has NO leg to stand on, and fact is that it is unsupportable. But I don’t think that learned complementarians are concerned with the evidence and facts. Their view is rather always from the angle of power, control, authority, not evidence, facts and proof.

        Absolutely does the spirit of the teaching of Jesus contradict complementarianism and is one reason why the whole complementarian camp blows me away! So does a wife having the power to divorce her husband. It would be a slap to the face of the husband who has authority over his wife, since the wife is able to abolish the hierarchy or power structrue in marriage. Such a thing can make no sense in comp land. The master has power over the slave, so how can the slave have the power to abolish the master’s power?

        “Priests do not sacrifice themselves, they sacrifice others..” Could you further your ideas on this statement of yours? What were you leading to? Just interested.

      • Loren Haas

        Red, I have not thought this through completely yet, but priests typically sacrifice the offerings made by others. They have special status to approach God in this way. Jesus modeled a different way. He sacrificed Himself in a way that allowed us to approach God ourselves. Complementarians want to continue to be the priests who hold special status and they want others (women) to make the sacrifices.
        Still living in the Old Testament.

  35. Jeff Crippen

    “We believe that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Christian community can be an instrument of God’s love and healing for those involved in abusive relationships and an example of wholeness in a fractured, broken world.”

    This is from the CBMW statement quoted in the article above. I have been thinking further about this sentence. I mean, what in the world does this MEAN anyway? It sounds like something out of Washington DC. Doublespeak. But I think I can decipher it. It means that the “Christian community” must forbid divorce for abuse because it is our “God-given” mission to use the terrorism of abuse victims by their (often professing Christian) abuser as a model of God’s love. Sin has broken relationships in the world. It is the abuse victim’s job to take it on the chin and work toward “wholeness” in her marriage rather than allowing the abuse to “fracture” it. Of course that means she will probably have lots of other kinds of fractures, but – oh well.

    “You, good woman/man, have a duty to keep your marriage whole. And we, your Christian family, are here to help you (ie, make you) do it so that we can say “look at our sister over there. See how she loves her husband even though he kicks the daylights out of her in every way. Yet she works and strives toward ‘wholeness.’”

    Well, let me say that if this is “wholeness,” then I prefer just half a portion. Boy that riles me up when people use pious sounding lingo to cover up what they know will sound like insanity if they just out and say it. “All of you Christians out there who are being terribly and wickedly destroyed by abuse are forbidden by God to escape that marriage. By getting your spirit and mind and body fractured and broken, you are modeling “health and healing” to the world. Go therefore, and be happy about it.”

    • Diane

      “Boy that riles me up when people use pious sounding lingo to cover up what they know will sound like insanity if they just out and say it.”

      Oh my goodness, Jeff, that is exactly what they did with that statement. I agree. You are right on. The statement reeks of further abuse by keeping the ever hopeful, cheered on to forgiveness by the Christian community victim in the midst of it all…if we (Christian community) just try really really really hard to show God’s love and healing, then it will all go away. IOW–the Christian community just sticking together through the “tough times and ups and downs of abuse”–assuming falsely that abuse does have an end as a rule–not only an end, but an “immediate” end via the above mentioned pathways described by Grudem–one example being “extensive” (definition please?) prayer.

      People read that statement and do not think it through and analyze it as you did. It sounds so good. We nod our heads and think of how Jesus took His abuse and said nothing in return…how much He loved us even though we were cruel to Him, and transfer that as now being the duty of the one being abused–all in the name of showing God’s love and healing.
      Jesus did that for you–you can at least do that for your abuser.

      And I guess one is supposed to do this hoping and waiting and extensive praying forever? Because we need to prevent more fractures in this fractured world and there is, in these professing Christian leaders’ opinions, no more worse example of a fracture in the Christian life than divorce? How sad.

      • Because we need to prevent more fractures in this fractured world and there is, in these professing Christian leaders’ opinions, no more worse example of a fracture in the Christian life than divorce? How sad.

        Yep. With this crowd for all their hue and cry against abuse, they still manage to think divorce is worse.

  36. lydia

    Jeff, do you have any posts on the passage where God threatens a divorce with Isreal? How are we to view that?

    The reason I ask is I have heard pastors teach that since the Body is the “Bride” of Christ, we could not divorce him nor would He divorce us. I thought this was taking a metaphor way too far when it came to human marriage and abuse. God does not abuse us.

    • “Jeff, do you have any posts on the passage where God threatens a divorce with Isreal? How are we to view that?”

      A minor correction (I think) is that God DID divorce Israel, not just threaten.

      “The reason I ask is I have heard pastors teach that since the Body is the “Bride” of Christ, we could not divorce him nor would He divorce us. I thought this was taking a metaphor way too far when it came to human marriage and abuse. God does not abuse us.”

      Yes, this is what I was hit with too. They also use the word “covenant” to mean an “unbreakable contract” which it does not mean.

      I think it is definitely taking the metaphor too far, and God’s divorce of Israel was a running metaphor through several OT prophets, so if we are going to take the whole counsel of scripture on the topic of divorce, we need to see that God understands drawing boundaries against sin using divorce. Why we would choose to try and emulate the New Covenant with a sinless Christ in our marriages of two sinners is beyond me.

      There is a whole section on this topic (God’s metaphor of divorce of Israel) in David Instone-Brewer’s book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible”. I had NEVER understood the OT prophets like I did after reading that book (irrespective of his conclusions about divorce and remarriage, which are very important).

      • “Why we would choose to try and emulate the New Covenant with a sinless Christ in our marriages of two sinners is beyond me.”

        Excellent. I am learning so much in this discussion!

      • joepote01

        Jeff S – Agreeing with all you have said, and adding this:

        “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5)

        “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23)

        Yes, we know that Christ will not divorce His bride…the true church made up of true believers, who are truly in covenant with Him and truly trusting Him.

        However, we would be sadly mistaken to believe that Christ does not draw boundaries that exclude those who do not honor the terms of His covenant. Christ’s boundaries are firm, they are defended, and being outside those boundaries has eternal consequences.

        Covenant is not about just saying vows…it is about faithfully living out those vows and daily recommitting to those vows in loving relationship.

        The abuser is like the one who says “Lord, Lord” but does not honor the terms of the covenant…and of him, Jesus says “I never knew you; depart from Me…”

      • IB wrote an article called Three Weddings and a Divorce: God’s Covenant with Israel, Judah, and the Church that deals with the Israel divorce issue here:

        http://98.131.162.170//tynbul/library/TynBull_1996_47_1_01_Brewer_3WeddingsGodCovenant.pdf

    • Lydia, in my book I chose not to deal with the issue of God divorcing Israel, as I felt I had sufficient arguments for divorce just from all the passages that discussed human marriage, as opposed to the divine marriage metaphor of God–Israel & Christ–church.
      But I did refute the argument that “because Christ never cuts off his bride despite the Christians being far from perfect, we humans are never allowed to cut off our spouses by divorcing them.”
      It’s a nonsense argument for two reasons.
      1. It takes the analogy between Christ/husband and church/wife too far, way further than Paul meant it to be taken.
      2. It falsely equates apples with oranges: a unilateral covenant of redemption between perfect God and sinning man, with a bilateral covenant of marriage between imperfect man and imperfect woman.
      See p. 57ff in my book.

  37. lydia

    I just want to say I live in CBMW land. They really are trying to rebrand themselves and gradually we are seeing more and more articles like Grudems. Not too long ago, Russ Moore wrote something about they did not believe women were to submit to ALL men. Why would they feel the need to clarify that? Because that is how bad it has gotten. And we are seeing the comp/pats breaking into factions. Just a few years ago, Doug Wilson was considered the fringe but now accepted as mainstream by the GC, Piper and their followers. Some of the things Wilson has taught and written about women, sex and men is ridiculous.

    Since the internet has become so normal, their beliefs and teachings are being analyzed and it has hurt the bottomline for them. They are trying to reengineer their image without really changing who they are and what they believe. It is not such an easy sell anymore but they are hoping the “right words” will work.

    I think comp doctrine has done quite a bit of damage to Christianity in that it encourages people to look to themselves and their partner rather than Christ. More concern for “roles and rules” than being Christlike. It was basically a response to the culture back in the 80′s and not well thought out. One can drive mac trucks through the exegetical holes in the Danvers statement. R.K. McGregor Wright, a Reformed theologican, did just that back in the late 80′s before the internet.

    We are now seeing the fruit of a generation of this teaching. And they are trying to save the doctrine even though the fruit is rotten.

    • Lydia thank you for that insider view of comp-land. Very interesting.
      Do you have any references for that material by R. K. McGregor Wright? I would be very interested. The ’80s are part of the digital dark ages, and it can be hard to find stuff from then, but I’ve got a few good theological libraries in Melbourne where I can chase things down.

  38. “We are now seeing the fruit of a generation of this teaching. And they are trying to save the doctrine even though the fruit is rotten.”

    They blame egal’s for the rotten fruit (not that I am taking a side on comp vs egal- but I definitely take a side against comp the way these folks teach it).

  39. Red

    “Notice once again the glaring absence of any affirmation that divorce is a biblical means of dealing with abuse.”

    Jeff, I’m thankful that you are aware of the absence of affirmations. I made mental note of these things back in the day when I read Grudem’s “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” What he wasn’t saying stared me right in the face back then. I don’t remember what I read now, but what jumped out at me was the way he phrased the idea of man and woman made in God’s image – point being, there was an absence of the idea that the woman really was the image of God. And maybe my mind caught onto the logical conclusions of how Grudem worded his statements, I don’t remember now, all I know is that something on woman’s creation when compared to Adam’s was MISSING.

  40. Red

    “Well, let me say that if this is “wholeness,” then I prefer just half a portion. Boy that riles me up when people use pious sounding lingo to cover up what they know will sound like insanity if they just out and say it.”

    The advise I only ever heard on a situation like this (when one is directly involved) was – RUN!!

  41. Red

    “Yep. With this crowd for all their hue and cry against abuse, they still manage to think divorce is worse.”

    Yep. And why is the question?

  42. Red

    “Yes, this is what I was hit with too. They also use the word “covenant” to mean an “unbreakable contract” which it does not mean.”

    Hit the nail on the head! Tired of the B.S. Churchianity is a nightmare.

  43. Red

    “Why we would choose to try and emulate the New Covenant with a sinless Christ in our marriages of two sinners is beyond me.”

    Thank God, someone with sense!!

    Look at the comp interpretation of Eph 5, the comp thinks and believes that the husband is being compared to God (‘Christ’ meaning God/divinity) when in actuality ‘Christ’ is only a term used THROUGHOUT the Bible for his humanity! Tell me that comps aren’t waay off track!! Man compared to God/divinity/perfection while wife is compared to fallen human sin natutre?! What’s wrong with this picture?

    • Ok good readers, it seems we may be getting off on a detour here. I appreciate all the wonderful input, but let me bring us back to the original point of this post. Namely, that of the “no divorce for abuse” position that the CBMW expounds. Our discussion here, while I understand is related to the the comp vs egal debate, is not specifically aimed at that controversy. What we are agreed upon is that claiming abuse is not a biblical grounds for divorce is absolutely wrong and adds to the suffering of victims, enabling the wicked. And that is the point we want to expose here. So if we could limit our comments to that issue, please.

      Also, let me caution all of us (and I include myself here) that we take care not to paint those who differ with us on some point with too broad of a brush. For example, not all Christians who hold the complementary position are the same. We cannot characterize them all that simply. It’s like me (reformed in my theology) saying that “all Arminians say that….” such and such. We can’t do that and when we do we really don’t work toward coming to a real understanding of one another. I have heard people say “well, those egalitarians are all a bunch of radical feminists who are out to get us to approve of homosexuality.” But it isn’t true.

      Ok, enough said.

  44. Red

    “There is a whole section on this topic (God’s metaphor of divorce of Israel) in David Instone-Brewer’s book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible”.

    Remember, the man/husband is compared to God/divinity/perfection (comp interpretation of Eph 5). That is key. God then can divorce Israel, but Israel cannot divorce God.

    • I endorse Jeff C’s reminder that we would do well to stay on track here and keep the thread focused on the ‘no divorce for abuse’ teaching that comes from the comp world.
      I hope that this comment of mine here doesn’t push the envelope of that reminder.

      I’d like to say, Red, that some of our readers on this blog are men who were abused by their wives, and these men have been in complementarian churches. The churches they were in at the time of divorce counselled those men not to divorce their wives. The reasons they gave to forbid divorce were very similar to the reasons being given to female victims: things like:
      You need to just love your spouse more; love never fails; God hates divorce; we must keep marriages intact because otherwise it will show a bad witness to the world; your spouse’s behavior isn’t THAT bad, you should be able to put up with it; what’s wrong with YOU? what are you doing to cause you spouse to behave that way?; you must look to your own sin, not the sins of your spouse; etc, etc.

      In other words, these men were not seen as having a privileged right to divorce because they were men in a comp world, they were told they had no right to divorce because God doesn’t allow divorce for abuse period. They copped the same wrong teaching that women victims cop. The only difference, so far as we’ve been able to gauge, is that men were told “you need to love your spouse more” but women were told “you need to submit to your spouse more.”
      So the words love and submit might have been interchangeable depending on the sex of the victim, but the end result was the same. No divorce for abuse. Like it or lump it, that’s the way it is.

  45. Red

    What did Grudem NOT say again about women being made in God’s image? They’ve no right to divorce GOD/Husband/Man. Only God can divorce – man is like God, not woman. Ask a comp..

    • Red – please see my comment above. I have never heard a complementarian Christian teach what you are describing here. I don’t doubt you have run across it, but I haven’t. It does not characterize all who hold the complementarian view. Our topic of discussion here is not the egal/comp debate but the erroneous claim that abuse is not grounds for divorce.

  46. Red

    jeff, what complementarian christian is going to prescribe woman not really made in the image of God? that’s plain speak. and i agree, it does not characterize all who hold to the comp view. but that’s NOT the point.

    the topic may not be the egal/comp debate and rather the claim that abuse is not grounds for divorce, but tell me, what verses OUTSIDE of the comp/egal debate do comps use to hold this view other than the ones within the debate? their view of NO divorce is about their structure, not biblical principle. and their structure is laid upon the NT passages they violate. because those passages r the ones everyone is looking to!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Red- I will reply to you on this subject just one more time. There are plenty of OT passages that people who argue for no divorce for abuse use. They are by no means limited to the NT texts that deal with the husband/wife relationship. In fact, the most popular one people run too (mistranslated of course) is Malachi 2:16. They also try to argue from the OT that covenants are permanently binding. In fact, I would maintain that the NT texts you are referring to are actually not even the leading ones that the no divorce position is derived from. I will press further. I propose that if tomorrow we all woke up and found that every Christian was egalitarian, we would also find that the no divorce position was still alive and well.

      As Barbara has so well commented here, the no divorce position is directed toward both male and female victims.

  47. I just wrote a comment on Matt Smethurst’s post at the Gospel Coalition, “Don’t Mess With Her Man”, telling him and his readers about this blog.
    I hope some of them come over here and visit us!

  48. Red

    Well, thank you for your patience. Somewhere I gather I steered wrong. Was just openly sharing my ideas.

    “In fact, I would maintain that the NT texts you are referring to are actually not even the leading ones that the no divorce position is derived from.” And I would argue against this. I would say that the main texts upheld to keep women “in their place” are in fact the leading texts that complementarians derive their no divorce stance from.

    “I will press further. I propose that if tomorrow we all woke up and found that every Christian was egalitarian, we would also find that the no divorce position was still alive and well.”
    I agree. Ofcourse this would be so.

    “I endorse Jeff C’s reminder that we would do well to stay on track here and keep the thread focused on the ‘no divorce for abuse’ teaching that comes from the comp world.”

    Yes, indeed, and this was my focus all along. But apparently you’ve told me indirectly that my ideas are off track. And are they really?

    “I’d like to say, Red, that some of our readers on this blog are men who were abused by their wives, and these men have been in complementarian churches. The churches they were in at the time of divorce counselled those men not to divorce their wives. The reasons they gave to forbid divorce were very similar to the reasons being given to female victims: things like:
    You need to just love your spouse more; love never fails; God hates divorce; we must keep marriages intact because otherwise it will show a bad witness to the world; your spouse’s behavior isn’t THAT bad, you should be able to put up with it; what’s wrong with YOU? what are you doing to cause you spouse to behave that way?; you must look to your own sin, not the sins of your spouse; etc, etc.”

    I understand. I was new to this blog, so thank you for informing me. Perhaps I commented too quickly. I would still argue that complementarian churches do not teach male or female to divorce rooted simply in male authority and female submission or gender hierarchy which is mainly supported by NT texts no matter with which texts one begins with. But I do understand completely what you are conveying to me, and again at the same time, I disagree.

    “In other words, these men were not seen as having a privileged right to divorce because they were men in a comp world,”

    I didn’t recognize that the audience may be the victims of the ‘no divorce crowd’, complementarian or otherwise.

    • Jeff S

      Red, I think to be clear, Barbara and Jeff have always wanted to keep comp vs egal discussions off the blog because they do not believe that comp vs egal is the source of the problem of the mishandling of abuse within the church. They want people of both views to be comfortable and welcome here. This does not mean that they will not speak out against harmful comp views that create an environment which fosters abuse. Some may believe that all comp views foster abuse, but for the sake of peace and reaching out to all victims of abuse, whether comp or egal, the hope is that we can leave those discussions to another time and place.

      I actually thought there was someone explicit on the blog at one time stating this, but I can’t seem to find it now. 

      On the point of how comp churches behave, I go to a comp church and one of the pastors there told me that he and other ministers from the parent church have counseled women to divorce their abusive husbands. And Jeff C is also comp and I have no doubt how he would council a victim of abuse in his church. So certainly, being comp does not necessitate disallowing women to divorce.

      The texts that were most used in my case were in Matthew, Romans 7, and 1 Cor 7. Also I got a dose of Hosea. Strangely Malachi was never used with me, but my former church may have been aware of the translation issue there.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Red – JeffS has explained our policy well here and I hope you understand. No problem if you disagree on some points, that is bound to happen with all of us.

      We are still glad you are here:)

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