A Cry For Justice

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

“Sacred Influence: What a Man Needs from His Wife to Be the Husband She Wants” — a review by Avid Reader

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This book is hopelessly stacked against women. Reading through it feels like you’re wandering in the desert, desperate for water, but each time you finally reach what looks like an oasis, it’s nothing more than a mirage.

According to Gary Thomas, he specifically wrote this book to help women facing difficult marriages. Yet this book still sounds so totally clueless towards understanding exactly that!

In the book, Sacred Influence, Gary’s main points are:

I want you to think about something — what if your husband’s faults are God’s tools to shape you? What if the very thing that most bugs you about your man constitutes God’s plan to teach you something new? (p. 37-38)

Let’s agree to keep this perspective in mind throughout the book…….How is God using your marriage to an irritable man to teach you how to love angry people? (p. 40)

Maybe you even married a violent man. Perhaps you saw signs of this rage or violence before you married but in your eagerness to become a bride you chose to look past it or excuse it as a onetime occurrence. Maybe you thought marriage would make everything better. But now you’re stuck in a frightening situation. (p. 133)

Wait a minute — what about willful sin? Gary doesn’t seem to understand the difference between setting boundaries to protect yourself from the willful sin of others and genuine trials of faith. Keep reading and you’ll see how he tries to turn someone else’s willful sin into God’s plan for your life when God NEVER wants anyone else to sin just to teach us something. Don’t get me started on all the Scriptures about anger being a work of the flesh.

Reading more quotes that follow you can see how Gary keeps trying to shift the burden of responsibility for behavior away from the perpetrator and onto the victim. He’s literally trying to make the victim feel responsible for not being patient enough with the perpetrator. And he wants you to learn from someone else’s behavior when the perpetrator is the one who needs to learn the lesson from their own behavior!

Gary continues —

Sometimes your husband would have to be in deep denial or less than human NOT to be angry with you. If you act as though anger is always illegitimate you’ll merely confuse him, because asking him not to feel angry is like his asking you to never feel hurt. (p. 148)

You can’t control your husband’s anger but you can provoke it by being disrespectful. (p. 149)

Women—in general—simply don’t understand how offensive and annoying it can feel to a man to be constantly challenged and corrected, especially in a disrespectful manner. (p. 150)

Maybe your side of the argument is that you don’t want to put up with an angry man! Maybe what you want but don’t get — referring to James 4:2 — is a peaceful relationship and so you are tempted to lash out with the same attitude of pride and expression of anger. (p. 152)

The time to obsess over your husband’s character is before you get married not after. Once you exchange vows, you should focus only on your obligation to love. (p. 222)

Jesus couldn’t have said it any clearer. [Gary quotes “love your enemies” verse.] If you manage to love only an easy-to-love husband why do you need God? Even non-Christian women can love a thoughtful, caring, unselfish and mature man. What credit is that to you? If you serve your husband expecting to be served in return what spiritual rewards can you hope to gain? In that case you’re merely trading personal favors. But when you give and don’t receive—when you love those who don’t know how to love or who refuse to love; when indeed you can love even the wicked and the ungrateful [husbands]……you exhibit the same love that God showed to us when he loved us in our sin and rebellion. And Jesus promises that he will richly reward you.” (p. 221)

But I don’t believe any wife should tolerate physical abuse. (p. 95)

Some women spiritualize domestic violence. They assume it’s their duty to bear up under the assault and certainly not to report it to anyone, lest their husbands get in trouble. I want to be as clear and as honest here as I can — if your husband hits you — both of you need help…..you must speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor or maybe a dear friend. (p. 152)

Gary is so focused on blaming women that even when telling women to seek help — he still criticizes them!

Then to justify blaming women Gary quotes some highly questionable “science.”

Questionable “Science”

Gary writes,

When a woman doesn’t understand the way a male brain works, she risks fostering an extremely destructive male response. (p. 107)

It’s a biological fact that emotional conversation can feel very stressful for a man and actually increase his anger, particularly if that conversation gets pushed on him. If you married a man whose anger and rage seem to build the more you talk, STOP TALKING! Let your husband’s brain process the stress as you wait for him to come back to you. Just because conversation calms you down doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on your husband. (p. 148)

Who says that conversation automatically calms down women? And if conversation is biologically stressful for men then why do men easily handle that “stress” at work?

Gary quotes much of this “biology” from the book What Could He Be Thinking? by Michael Gurian. Researching this book on Amazon I found this review:

Amazon Reviews of Gurian book:

“I have been a practicing neurologist for seventeen years, and relating behavioral disorders to neurological conditions is my field of expertise. I know enough about the topics addressed by the author to recognize that he is a quack.”

“While there are grains of truth in this book, most of the supposed “science” is either badly misinterpreted or intentionally twisted to fit the author’s social outlook. Most of the claimed “biological” reasons for male behavior have no basis in reality…….Now to venture out of my field as a scientist – allow me to speak as a man to women thinking of buying this book — If a guy acts like a pig, it’s because he is a pig. Dump him. You should hold men to high standards and they should hold you to high standards.”

Back to Sacred Influence

Reading through this book — what really got under my skin was that after blaming wives repeatedly for supposedly being the problem — Gary turns around and praises mistresses.

You read that correctly. On pages 115-128 this book takes a really weird detour where Gary tells wives that they aren’t good enough because they haven’t tried to be mistresses. Using the example of how Jeanne-Antoinette (1721-1764) rose from poverty to wealth by seducing King Louis XV, Gary writes, “The narcissistic tendencies of an eighteenth-century French king appear in men today. How can a woman handle such a man — not so that she reinforces the narcissism — but so that she earns the right to offer positive influence?” (p. 116)

That’s insulting on so many levels. First of all, wives don’t have to “earn” the rights granted by marriage. Wives set boundaries. Mistresses cross boundaries. It’s impossible to be both. And Gary is teaching us to follow the example of a woman willing to do anything to obtain wealth and power. That’s the polar opposite of how we’ve chosen to follow Christ by dying to the “lust of the flesh, lust of the world and the pride of life.” (1John 2:15-16 & Galatians 5:16). Besides, we resent the assumption that the mistress is automatically better at pleasing the husband than the wife. The Bible actually warns against believing that lie in Proverbs 9:17-18.

Gary tries to deny that he’s saying that — then he turns around and blames women readers by saying they might “seriously misconstrue” his point. (p. 124)

Gary’s trying to have it both ways when this was a completely inappropriate example to begin with. Why didn’t he use the example of Queen Esther? Abigail is another great example of how a godly woman’s influence saved hundreds of lives.

Think about this for a moment — Gary is giving the benefit of the doubt to mistresses but he won’t give that to wives! That’s when you realize that this book is hopelessly stacked against women.

Read further through this book and once again you see Scripture being taken out of context. In chapter 13 Gary tries to make the point that women are more interested in relationships than careers and thus don’t understand their husband’s drive to have a career.

Gary writes,

If you were to study the brains of a man and a woman while they gazed into the eyes of a child or grandchild, you would see that the typical female gets more out of such an encounter — physically than does the male. Relationships simply reward you more than they tend to reward your husband. (p. 175)

Then on page 177 — he quotes Matthew 10:37-38 which says we must love Christ more than our families.

Gary writes,

From a biological point of view, this a very “male” statement that must seem abhorrent to many females—until they realize that Jesus himself spoke those words. (p. 177)

Then he accuses women of having

a female view of the world, though not necessarily a biblical one. (p. 177)

OUCH!

Wait a minute — in Matthew 10:37-38 — Jesus was talking directly to BOTH women AND men when He told us to follow Him. That’s not a male perspective. That’s a Christian perspective.

Why would Gary insult all the ladies by assuming we automatically care more about our families than taking up our cross and following Christ?

There’s so many other deeply troubling quotes in this book that we could discuss but by now — Gary Thomas’s attitude towards women is pretty obvious and very troubling.

169 Comments

  1. Abigail

    Gary Thomas might be coming around — see his recent article “Enough is Enough”.
    [link to that article removed by ACFJ moderators]

    • Hi Abigail, we don’t have much confidence that Gary Thomas really gets it yet. See the other comments on this thread.

  2. Star

    Can you imagine what Gary would have to say if the tables were turned and the abuse of a woman towards a man were being excused in such a way? I guess he thinks it’s in the male nature to be angry, cold, and alienating towards family unless you want something from them, like sex. This book tells us everything about what type of person the author is, and nothing about the true nature of men.

    • Hi Star,

      Thank you for your comment and Welcome to the Blog!

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. You will see that I changed your screen name. The change was due to the fact that the screen name was identical to part of your email address.

      If you would like a different screen name, feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com and I can change it.

      Again, Welcome!

  3. Lea

    Perhaps you saw signs of this rage or violence before you married but in your eagerness to become a bride you chose to look past it or excuse it as a onetime occurrence. Maybe you thought marriage would make everything better. But now you’re stuck in a frightening situation. (p. 133)

    Lovely. Blaming the woman for not realizing things beforehand AND telling her she is stuck in the same paragraph.

    And no excusing this book as ‘difficult does not mean violent’ which he tried to say on his website.

    • Remedy

      Not to mention there are many extreme charmers, manipulators, men lacking conscience knowing they are hooking someone in by their pretense…..knowing full well they are presenting themselves as someone they are not. (I realize women can be guilty of the same.)

    • Hope

      This quote almost makes me ill. I never saw any signs until after I was married. I didn’t even want to be married, I just loved who I thought he was. Everyone was deceived, not just me. My parents were and still are, only one sister knows and understands and supports. The friends I have reached out to and told understand and support as well, but they had no idea until I told them. Deceivers and manipulators are very clever and very good at their deceptions.
      We did not ask for this! Nobody asks for abuse! It is one of the consequences of a sinful, fallen world in which many people prefer satan’s lies over God’s truths.

  4. Herjourney

    Maybe Gary is really writing his life story in his books. His guilt might be bothering him somewhat. So mixing part truths with reality might make himself feel better about himself. Why repent when helping others has a dollar sign attached to it. Satan writes books to cover up his deceptiion. He [Satan] will and does use men and women to do his dirty work.

  5. Avid Reader

    Just want to thank all of you for the helpful votes and kind comments. Your voice makes a big difference in keeping the review visible on Amazon and protecting it from the people who want it to disappear.

  6. 4Given

    I can’t thank you enough for pointing out the harm that is contained in this book. This was used throughout my marriage by several counselors to point the attention away from my (then) husband and onto me. Last time I read, Jesus said the marriage takes two – it’s not up to the woman only for anything in marriage. It’s a partnership. Women are not to blame for the sordid and damaged characters of their grown up childish husbands – nor the reverse in the case of men. Part of being spiritually mature is the fact that you own up to your own experiences, seek help and healing for the wounds, and move forward in truth and partnership with your spouse. I decided over a decade ago not to buy into this incredibly misogynistic modern day slavery philosophy as being “divinely inspired”. God came to set the captives free – and that includes women – not to put them into bondage, as the type of theocracy Thomas so highly upholds. He is declaring his social viewpoints and his fractured beliefs.

    I know first hand because I was a victim to church leadership’s adoption of GT’s false philosophy. I am career driven as well – what does that mean? As a Christian Woman, I have been called into the front lines of business and healthcare. I too have the need to succeed, in God’s eyes. The same should go for Christian men. I think Gary Thomas is exposing his own internal struggles with living in the world’s eyes of success, as well as what the world says about sexuality, as well as the 1960’s version of the Donna Day housewife versus how God commands men to view women. In the book, he says men have the “need to succeed” – I have heard this repetitively, as have my parents, in the past 50+ years. Do you mean they want money, recognition, and fame? Who’s definition of success are you speaking of? The world? God said to be in the world, not of it. If the above is true about men in the workplace should not MORE women be in the professional workplace to bring back ethical business practice and oversight and wisdom for proper allocation of financial resources and the resurrection of holding to Godly morality? Ethics and business practice are realized when Godly women and men work in the same fields. As I see it, GT’s philosophical logic is flawed here, as with his many other points.

    Pertaining to his views on having children, is it fulfilling? Perhaps, for some women. Again, GT is not, nor will ever be a female, so the validity of his viewpoint can only be taken so far when attempting to write a book about being a female in God’s eyes – he’s not one. He can only write his observations and viewpoints, and in that respect, they are his own, not necessarily from God – right? As women’s viewpoints are from a certain perspective (which GT so eloquently invalidates in his book), then should not Gary also accept his own fallacy as a human being in the sight of God? God did not make every female with a sole purpose to have children and cultivate a family on her own – that’s called single parenting. I am one of those and can attest to that reality. The women who chose not to have children or cannot are still okey dokey to be married (check it with the scriptures-Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, and Hebrews), and not solely for their husband’s enrichment.

    I truly believe this book exposes his less than Godly views of women.

  7. Moving Forward

    My ex would have loved this book, and would have added it to the collection of books and articles he left lying around as huge hints that I wasn’t up to par in any way. I have emails from him telling me that until I did my part and made the changes to become the wife I was supposed to be (according to all the books he read, Love & Respect being a favourite) he wasn’t about to change. Of course, I know now, that he does not having it within himself to be anything other than what he is, an abuser.

  8. Shaken and stirred

    Women don`t have a drive to have a career? So the proverbs 31 woman is atypical and so is Lydia, the seller of purple fabric? What about Sheerah, the industrious woman builder in
    1 Chronicles 7:24? I guess it depends on what you think of as a career. If by career he means being industrious, successful at building a business or as an entrepreneur, I think he is incorrect as various scriptural examples show. If by having the drive to have a career, he means the drive to define oneself and draw identity and value from worldly success, well idolatry seems to be an equal opportunity employer across the genders. It bugs me when things that quite properly should be identified as sin are upheld as positive qualities anyway. The bible doesn`t give men permission to draw their reason for living from work anymore than it gives folks of a certain nationality the right to have hot tempers.

    His comment about interactions with grandchildren I find rather crass; he makes it sound like some kind of scientific research that is unquestionable but my own basic and good observation skills would say this is balderdash. My husband, who can be an angry and verbally mean man, has endless patience with his grandchildren. He will sit with one on each knee and the third climbing up his back and mussing his hair and bounce them and talk with them and cuddle them for hours. One would think that he had nothing else to do in life but play with his grandbabies. He adores them and clearly gets a lot out of these interactions. He will find reasons to just stop by for coffee so he can visit the babies. I`ve seen many men who would qualify as angry jerks be patient and doting with grandchildren who were clearly precious to them as well as men who would be regarded as really good guys. Where does he get this nonsense from? What does he do with Jesus interacting with little children? Does he think Jesus is lacking in masculinity?

  9. M&M

    Wow……is that the same Gary Thomas that wrote the article “Enough is Enough”? Because the article seemed a lot more compassionate than “Sacred Influence”. I still think the article misses the danger of false repentance, but it sounds like he’s listening a lot more to the victims.

    • ‘Enough is Enough’ is a the title of a post Gary Thomas wrote his blog Nov 29 2016.
      You can find it here. HOWEVER we do not recommend or endorse it, nor does it give us any confidence that Gary Thomas is changing his fundamental view of women. Nor do we think it shows that Gary Thomas is no longer teaching things that are dangerous for women who have been abused by their husbands.

      With help from the ACFJ team, I followed the comments on Enough Is Enough closely. I concluded that Gary Thomas is condescending and quickly defensive when people criticise his work. And he’s not humble enough to be teachable.

      I will give my reasons for my conclusions in subsequent comments.

      • Note, the above of mine comment was originally rather badly written so I edited it greatly.

    • On his FB page on Dec 7th (link) Gary wrote:

      The response to our “Enough is Enough” blog post caught us by surprise. I’m sorry for the very frustrating website crashes. We just flat out weren’t prepared.
      If you read the post last week when it was first posted but missed the comments, you might want to check them out. They tell a story we need to listen to. Several of the comments criticize me but we’ve left them up because I believe wisdom and truth is best discerned in community; where I’m wrong, I want to be corrected. Leaving up opposing viewpoints can help genuine seekers sort through conflicting arguments.
      In general, though, I believe most are in agreement that the contemporary church can do better when it comes to addressing abusive marriages. Even if my argument is faulty, the status quo isn’t cutting it, either.

      Let me pull that apart.

      …the contemporary church can do better when it comes to addressing abusive marriages.

      Yes, we agree that the contemporary church can do WAY better on this issue. But we object to Gary’s phrase ‘abusive marriages’. Calling them ‘abusive marriages’ is a way of obfuscating and hiding the fact that ONE spouse is an abuser and the other spouse is the oppressed victim. It conceals the reality of who is to blame. The term ‘abusive marriages’ can easily sound like both spouses share the blame. We continually call out that kind of language. And we call upon Gary to stop using it.

      Several of the comments criticize me but we’ve left them up because I believe wisdom and truth is best discerned in community;

      I appreciate that Gary left up some critical comments on his blog. I agree that wisdom and truth is best discerned in community. HOWEVER I believe Gary is being disingenuous in saying

      where I’m wrong, I want to be corrected.

      Why do I believe he is being disingenuous? Keep reading further comments I’m going to put here.

      • M&M

        Thank you for doing this. I’m sad his total teaching isn’t as victim-friendly as the article would seem, but at least I know to warn people who like the article not to expect as much from the book 😦

      • In reply to a commenter on his post who had told Gary how dangerous couple counseling is for domestic abuse cases, and recommended our post Honouring Resistance, as well as Lundy Bancroft’s book, Gary Thomas said

        I’m not a trained therapist and don’t have a lot of experience dealing with this, so I’ll take your words as good, sound advice. I appreciate this contribution.

        So — Gary states he is not a trained therapist. Yet he writes so many things about marriage. And I bet most of his readers are assuming he has the wisdom of a therapist and has heaps of experience in counseling marriage problems. After all, he tells all those stories about couples he’s dealt with… How does this figure?

      • Gary has also scrubbed the commenter who warned Gary about the dangers of couple counseling and recommended our post Honouring Resistance. And he scrubbed his reply to her too.

        Hmm. This is pretty heavy-duty scrubbing!

        Gary Thomas has thus deprived any future readers of his post from learning that couple counseling is dangerous in domestic abuse.

        In my view, this is more than malpractice. (In the law of torts, malpractice is an “instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional”. [link]

        I am not a lawyer, but I think what Gary and his moderators have done amounts to wilful professional misconduct.

        Willful professional misconduct means “worse than mere substandard care, and contemplates the intentional doing of something with knowledge that it is likely to result in serious injuries or in reckless disregard of its probable consequences.” (definition taken from here)

      • On Gary’s post Enough Is Enough, a commenter Jill thanked Gary for his post and then gave him this feedback:

        Your book Sacred Marriage has been misused by Church Leadership to guilt women into staying with their abusers. I’ve endured 32 years and raised 8 children to love and honor a man who treated us all like crap. A little church finally helped me escape and I am breathing in freedom but also have a lot of remorse over what I allowed my children to endure in an effort to save my marriage.

        This problem is rampant, btw and most churches are blind to the problem.

        Gary Thomas did not reply to Jill.

      • Jill’s comment on Enough is Enough is now scrubbed from Gary’s blog as well. Gary appears not to have liked the fact that we highlighted Jill’s comment. And perhaps he belatedly realised that Jill’s comment was in fact saying something critical of him:– That his book Sacred Marriage has been misused by Church Leadership to guilt women into staying with their abusers.

        Well Gary has scrubbed Jill’s testimony, but we will not scrub Jill’s testimony. We believe in giving victims a voice, not silencing them.

      • Not long after Enough Is Enough came out, Jeff Crippen commented at Gary’s blogsite:

        thank you Gary. As a pastor, I woke up to this same evil about 6 years ago and ended up preaching a sermon series on domestic abusers hiding in the church and then wrote the book “A Cry for Justice – How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church.” Then more recently I wrote “Unholy Charade – Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church.” We have a blog ministry on this issue at A Cry for Justice where myself and Barbara Roberts (author of Not Under Bondage) work to bring validation to abuse victims in the church where, so typically, they are further abused by church leaders and members who are ignorant of this evil and who send the victims back to “submit more” to the abuser. It is a plague in the church and you are very right – it MUST be exposed.

        Gary did not reply to Jeff Crippen’s comment.

        Many other commenters at Gary’s blog also pointed Gary and his readers to our books and the A Cry For Justice blog.

      • That comment of Jeff Crippen’s is now removed from Enough Is Enough. Gary or his moderators appear to have scrubbed it. This suggests that Gary is annoyed with us for what has been said here.

      • I myself submitted comments to Gary Thomas’s blog Enough Is Enough. I believe I politely gave him a lot constructive feedback that he could have benefitted from. I also sent him my comments via email, because I didn’t want him to miss them.

        My comments did not get published at his site. I am willing to accept that they were lost in cyberspace when Gary’s site crashed, so I’m not having a go at him for not publishing them on his site. But I want to post them here, so all our readers can see the feedback I have given to Gary.

        The rest of this comment is what I wrote to Gary:

        Gary, I’m glad you’ve been awakened to the extent of domestic abuse and the horrors that so many Christian women (and some men) have been put through.

        I co-lead the blog A Cry For Justice with Pastor Jeff Crippen. I would like to ask you some questions. If you want to reply by email rather than on this thread, feel free.

        Q 1. Before you read Jeff Crippen’s comment in this thread, were you aware of our blog?
        [ cryingoutforjusticeDOTcom ]

        Q 2. Did you know that the saying “God hates divorce” is based on a mistranslation of the Hebrew in Malachi 2:16?
        If you didn’t know, I beg you go to the A Cry For Justice blog and put in the search bar the words:— God hates divorce? Not always.
        That post will explain the mistranslation and how badly it affects victims of abuse.

        Q 3. I see in this thread you have recommended Leslie Vernick’s site and her books. Have you read my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” ?
        If not, can I beg you to read it? My book explains that the bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse and the texts which support this are 1 Cor 7:15 and Ex 21:10-11 (plus others).

        Q. 4. Do you recommend Jeff Crippen’s books “A Cry For Justice” and “Unholy Charade” ?

        Q 5. Are you open to feedback and constructive criticism which might help you become even more helpful in responding to domestic victims and educating the Christian community about this issue? If so, feel free to email me.

        Q 6. Are you going to review what you wrote in your books “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Influence” in the light of your new-found awareness about domestic abuse in Christian communities?
        (This might be a good idea, especially since some women are reporting that churches used ideas from your books to pressure them into staying in abusive marriages.)

        Thanks!

        I also submitted this to your post It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish —

        Gary I greatly appreciate this caveat of yours:
        ” I am not calling wives who are married to husbands they should separate from to cherish their abusers.”

        All marriage authors and bloggers ought to give a caveat llke that, when they are writing to married folks who are not suffering domestic abuse. So thank you!

        That caveat is also a pretty sensible one to give to the abusive spouses. Why? Because abusers are typically so ingrained in their mentality of entitlement and their belief in their right to disrespect and mistreat their spouse, that advice like “cherish your spouse” will not mean much to them, except that it will give them a hint of what they need to fake in order conceal their abuse from those outside the home.

        I would like to give you feedback on this what you said after your caveat. You said:
        “If, however, you are convinced God wants you to stay in a difficult marriage—as should be true for the vast majority of us…”

        Firstly, the word ‘should’ is a trigger for many victims of domestic abuse. Abuse victims have been “should-ed” on for a VERY long time, by their spouse, by the church, by society at large…

        Secondly, telling readers what “should be true for the majority of us” implies that you know that the majority of marriages are NOT abusive. I caution you about making that assumption.

        And even if it is a valid assumption, the fact is, by talking as if the majority of married people are NOT abusers or abused, your words are likely to make victims of abuse feel further isolated and marginalised. It will emphasise to the typical victim of domestic abuse that her situation is very rare —which will exacerbate her loneliness.

        The overwhelming response to your Enough Is Enough post — you’ve said it crashed your website because such a flood of comments came in — surely suggests that domestic abuse is much more widespread than you are inferring?

        I urge you to be cautious when writing any of your posts, and stop and think about how your words would be heard by a victim of abuse. Even when you have given a caveat that you are not addressing victims of abuse in a particular post, the fact is, many victims of abuse will still read that post right to the end. It might help if you ran each of your posts past some victim/survivors of abuse before you publish them, to get feedback from them.

        And one more thing.
        Usually victims of domestic abuse who have had little or no validation and support from the church will feel relief and gratitude when they read a article like your Enough is Enough post. It’s the drop of water for the thirsty wanderer in the desert.

        But as victims of domestic abuse read lots of material that addresses domestic abuse really well, they become more discerning. They also become more discerning about the quality of what they are reading as they recover from the abuse. These folk may be some of the people who are giving you feedback that your writing on marriage and domestic abuse could be improved.

      • Gary Thomas replied to my question by email. He did not tell me his email was confidential. I think that in the cause of improving the church’s response to domestic abuse, it is okay to share Gary’s reply here. Gary replied to my questions as follows (I have not edited this at all):

        1. No

        2. I’ve heard this perspective raised in recent years. I’m not schooled enough in Hebrew to follow this all the way through. I still think it’s fair to say that God isn’t a fan of divorce, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when he would lead someone to divorce their spouse. You can still hate (or at least dislike) divorce for most other cases. I’ll be careful of my use of this in the future.

        3. No. And I can’t promise to. I’m a blogger, writer, and on the pastoral/teaching team of a church with six campuses headed into the Christmas season. I have a book coming out in January that requires many guest blog posts, radio interviews, and a speaking tour. I’m rewriting Sacred Influence, and facing an April deadline for a brand new book. I’m also getting materials from the “other side”–people who have said my blog makes divorce too easy and insisting that I have compromised my ministry by “opening the door” to easy divorce and demanding that I read something that will convince me I was completely wrong to write that blog post (one commenter suggested that God was the one who purposefully crashed my site in judgment). I don’t present myself as a specialist on this, and I honestly can’t pretend I have time to read fifteen hours worth of material on it in the near future. Trust me, Barbara, I’m getting plenty of heat from BOTH sides. Though I have no intention of “backing down” from Enough is Enough, I hope you understand you’re challenging someone who is empathetic to your concerns.

        4. I haven’t read them so I can’t recommend them (but neither would I challenge them).

        5. I think you’ve made your thoughts pretty clear already in these comments, but if there’s something more I’m missing that you think is essential for me to hear, I’m always open to it.

        6. To call this “newfound” is a bit condescending on your part. When A Lifelong Love came out several years ago, it contained an appendix entitled “God hates domestic violence.” I’m in the process of reworking Sacred Influence (it’ll have a new title: Loving Him Well) and that update will include much of the “enough is enough” blog post. I just reworked Sacred Marriage two years ago and have no plans to update that book anytime in the near future.

        Thanks for the input, but even more for your important work. This issue needs passionate advocates, and I understand that’s what you’re doing.

        Gary

      • I then emailed this back to Gary and in my email the mentions of things on our blog were hyperlinks, so Gary could easily find the places I was pointing him to on our blog:

        Thank you for replying, Gary

        I’m glad to hear you say that in future you will be more careful about saying ‘God hates divorce’.

        But I’m disappointed that you don’t appear to have bothered to read the post I suggested you read, namely, my article God hates divorce? Not Always.
        I wrote that article for readers who (like you and me) are not schooled enough in Hebrew to evaluate the Hebrew text of Malachi 2:16 for themselves.
        The Hebrew scholars and Bible Translation teams are the experts I relied on when writing that article.

        My article God hates divorce? Not Always is only a summary of chapter 8 of my book Not Under Bondage.
        In my book I have an appendix which quotes from 18 Hebrew scholars and/or Bible translations teams who concur in believing that in Mal. 2:16 the subject of the verb ‘hates’ is the man who is divorcing his wife.

        I’m very disappointed you would brush off my offer to help educate you about Malachi 2:16, and that you would brush it off with such glibness as if it’s not worth exploring.

        Again, I urge you to read my book Not Under Bondage. Please do not dismiss me on the grounds you’re a busy author and pastoral teacher facing a deadline from your publisher.

        What if my book would in fact reconfigure your thinking on divorce for domestic abuse so much, that you realised you had to rescind a lot of what you’d written?

        What’s the value in selling lots of books and keeping your publisher happy, if what you write ends up missing a lot of the mark in the end when it comes to the issue of spousal abuse?

        What if some other people — people who are not big names and not on the pastoral/teaching team of churches with six campuses — what if those people could in fact teach you how to write better about domestic abuse?

        Because you are a fairly big-shot teacher and writer who gets publishing contracts from Christian publishers, does that mean you don’t need to still learn some stuff?
        Does it mean you don’t need to listen to those who have been working at the coal-face of domestic abuse in the church for years?

        I urge you to read the blog A Cry For Justice. And I urge you to read Ps Jeff Crippen’s two books: Unholy Charade and A Cry For Justice

        What’s more important? Keeping the deadline with your publisher? Or pulling back and learning some more about domestic abuse, before you write more?

        You said, in your response to me in this thread, “ If there’s something more I’m missing that you think is essential for me to hear, I’m always open to it.”
        But you don’t seem to mean that.

        You indicated to me that you are probably not going to make time to read my book, or the blog A Cry For Justice, or Jeff Crippen’s two books.
        You don’t seem to me like a person who is open to feedback about what you are missing. You seem closed.
        And you convey to me that my offerings are not that important to you, and that you’re too busy and important to pay more than surface attention to them.

        You said
        6. To call this “newfound” is a bit condescending on your part. When A Lifelong Love came out several years ago, it contained an appendix entitled “God hates domestic violence.” I’m in the process of reworking Sacred Influence (it’ll have a new title: Loving Him Well) and that update will include much of the “enough is enough” blog post. I just reworked Sacred Marriage two years ago and have no plans to update that book anytime in the near future.

        I only called your awareness “newfound” because in your Enough Is Enough post you wrote: “I think this conference was a divine appointment. I can’t get this out of my mind.”

        I have not read A Lifelong Love — just as you haven’t read Not Under Bondage — so please don’t jump so easily to ascribing condescension to me!

        I read your post “Enough Is Enough.” It certainly sounded like you’d had a wake-up call, from hearing all those stories from women who have been victims of domestic abuuse.
        So I offered you constructive feedback and suggestions.
        And you’ve pretty much brushed me off …. Why?

        Barbara Roberts

      • And Gary replied to me:
        Barbara,

        I don’t want to argue with you, especially since we are joined in God’s cause of confronting marital abuse and we both agree that divorce is permissible in such circumstances. When your letter (with six somewhat confrontational questions) said, “Are you going to review what you wrote in your books “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Influence” in the light of your new-found awareness about domestic abuse in Christian communities?” that IS condescending. “Newfound awareness?” In Sacred Marriage, I state outright, “Sometimes divorce is even the right decision.” In Sacred Influence (I didn’t mention this in my reply, but should have), I have a lengthy section–four pages–addressing marital abuse, encouraging women to confront it (by quoting experts who have helped women out of that situation), and giving divorce as a biblical option and, as I stated, a full chapter (appendix) in A Lifelong Love. Enough is Enough was my second blog post addressing this (the first was entitled “God Hates Domestic Violence:”). But if you read your email with objective eyes, I think you’ll see it really was assuming, “Welcome to the party, Gary. Now read these books and blogs and you’ll finally know what you should have been saying all along (as if I hadn’t been saying it before) and clean up your books while you’re at it.”

        My belief that God hates divorce isn’t based on the Hebrew transliteration of Malachi 2:16. It’s based on Jesus’ words and Paul’s words and the concepts (if not the explicit statement) of Malachi 2, among other places. In Malachi 2, God clearly does hate what divorce was doing to children at that time. Because I’m not focused exclusively on domestic violence, I have to be a strong advocate against divorce when divorce isn’t warranted. That doesn’t diminish or attack women who need to divorce abusive husbands, but it does defend women whose husbands left them for someone younger or different. Jesus’ and Paul’s words allowing divorce are so narrow for very good and holy reasons. My call is to build marriages, and I think in the vast majority of cases divorce has to be taken off the table. When God declares two people are now one, we should hate anything that tears them apart.

        You rightly (and thank God you do) are focused on one aspect of marital ministry–for which I am grateful. I am addressing marriage in its totality, and in that role, I remain a fervent opponent of divorce (with specific exceptions).

        You’ve made so many hurtful judgments and assumptions about me in this reply and you don’t even know me. I’m aware that activists (I use that in a positive sense) have to keep a laser sharp focus and want everyone to see their issue as the most important one. But lax views about divorce are also hurting many women and destroying the homes of many children. Just as domestic violence attacks women, so relaxed views about divorce have injured women and have broken many hearts, if not bones.

        Let me just conclude with this: I hate domestic violence and will continue (as I have) to stand up against it. I also hate divorce and will stand against it. And I still believe God hates divorce, regardless of how you translate the specific language of Malachi 2:16. That doesn’t change my stated (not new, but documented in a book published over a decade ago) view that an abused woman can biblically seek divorce to get away from a dangerous and cruel husband.

        Gary

      • Then later, Gary sent me one more email. Here is what it said:

        Over the holidays, after I was done preaching Christmas eve, Christmas Day, and New Years’, I was finally able to get to the A Cry for Justice blog. I’m grateful for your ministry and witness.

        Gary

      • So my overall feeling from my email exchange is that Gary Thomas eventually gave me a little pat on the head by telling me he was ‘grateful’ for our ministry. But I have zero confidence that he has learned and will be making changes after all the constructive feedback and links I gave him to posts on our blog. I have done my level best to educate him. The ball is in his court.

      • In his post Enough Is Enough, Gary wrote:

        I recently spoke at a long-standing North American woman’s conference and was overwhelmed by the quantity and horrific nature of things wives are having to put up with in their marriages. Between sessions, I was bombarded by heartfelt inquiries: “What does a wife do when her husband does this? Or that? Or keeps doing this?” It broke my heart. I felt like I needed to take a dozen showers that weekend.

        This may sound like a rant, but please hang with me, as I think this conference was a divine appointment. I can’t get this out of my mind.

        … I don’t think it was an accident that I was constantly stopped at that woman’s conference and forced to hear despicable story after despicable story (“forced” isn’t the right word. I could, of course, have walked away). I think God wanted me to see the breadth and depth of what is going on, and in this case, perhaps to be His voice.

        That is what made me think he had ‘newfound awareness’. I accept that Gary was aware of the issue, and had written about it, before that conference. But his language in Enough is Enough clearly shows that his awareness improved by a quantum leap during that conference. So in calling it ‘newfound,’ I was referring to that quantum leap.

      • My question #1 to Gary Thomas was – was he aware of our blog A Cry For Justice before Jeff C commented on Enough Is Enough? Gary answered ‘No.’
        But look here: http://www.garythomas.com/god-hates-domestic-violence/#comment-490
        Way back in January 2014 I had told him about our blog.

        He obviously didn’t think it important enough to pay attention to back in 2014…. And I suppose he forgot all about it, so when Jeff and I drew his attention to it again in Nov 2016 it was NEWS to him and he said he hadn’t heard of it before.

        Sigh.

    • At Enough Is Enough, a commenter called Elizabeth told Gary:

      Wait a minute. I just realized that you’re the author of Sacred Marriage. I endured abuse for way too long because of your teachings. I stayed longer than I should have because of YOUR teachings. I thought I was following God’s will because YOU told me that marriage was to make me holy not happy.
      [see Elizabeth’s comment by clicking here]

      Gary replied to Elizabeth:

      Elizabeth, I don’t believe anything in Sacred Marriage supports or condones abuse. If you can find a passage that does, please let me know as I’d want to amend it immediately. The pursuit of holiness has nothing to do with abusing or staying in an abusive relationship.
      See Gary’s reply by clicking here /

      XianJaneway then gave Gary examples of things he wrote in “Sacred Marriage” that support or condone abuse. Here are the examples:

      1) The husband who gave his wife an STD. An abused wife could look at that and say, “Well, maybe what I’m going through isn’t so bad. It was just a slap…just a shove….just a broken window. It’s not like it’s an STD! I can offer God my bitter juice, & my husband can repent, right??”

      2) Page 113: “I hate divorce…” then, “This my friends is truth. To reject it, as Paul warns in Romans 2, is to risk God’s wrath and anger.” There was certainly no exception for abuse anywhere in that chapter. You also talked about all the horrible things that can happen to a spouse that’s left behind–and you probably didn’t know that one way abusers keep abused spouses with them is by threatening to blow their own brains out. 🙁 OBVIOUSLY that wasn’t your intent, but we’re not talking about your intent. We’re talking about how abuse victims read it, and how churches who counsel abuse victims twist it.

      3) Page 115: “Before a divorce is final, I’m usually going to encourage someone to hang in there, to push on through the pain, and to try to grow in and through it. Happiness may well be beyond them, but spiritual maturity isn’t – and I value character far above any emotional disposition. With heaven as a future hope, spiritual growth as a present reality, and in many cases, children for whom our sacrifice is necessary, an intact marriage is an ideal worth fighting for.” No exceptions for abuse there either.

      4) P. 129: ” ‘The Bible is filled with examples of those who overcame as they passed *through* the desert, the Red Sea, the fiery furnace, and ultimately the cross. God doesn’t protect Christians from their problems – he helps them walk victoriously *through* their problems.’ If your marriage is tough, get down on your knees and thank God that he has given you an opportunity for unparalleled spiritual growth.” Again, no exception for abuse.
      [See XianJaneway’s comment at http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/comment-page-5/#comment-247387 /

      Gary Thomas replied to XianJaneway:

      Xian Janeway,
      There’s clearly a lot of grief behind your words. I’m sorry for that. And I am constantly striving to be do a better job, with sermons, and writings, to be clear and to anticipate potential misunderstandings. I’m far from perfect but striving to improve.

      Having said that, I can’t say I agree with your critique, as I think it is rather unfair.

      1. I don’t see how telling the true story of a woman whose husband gave her an STD encourages women to stay in an abusive marriage. The facts were what the facts were. The story doesn’t excuse the husband. It just tells what happened. And I still don’t see how that encourages a woman to stay in an abusive marriage.

      2. I think God DOES hate divorce. That doesn’t mean he likes it. No, I didn’t think to include abuse there, but you’re faulting me for not trying to anticipate extended applications. And keep in mind, just TWO PAGES later, I do say, “But sometimes divorce can even be the right choice.”

      3. Once again, you very conveniently (for your purposes) left out the line two paragraphs above it: “But sometimes divorce can even be the right choice.”

      4. You’re right–there is no exception mentioned. But the words on their own are true, are they not? Must I repeat that divorce is sometimes allowed every other page? This is all in the same chapter! I just think it’s a rather harsh judgment on your part to try to twist words that encourage us to persevere in difficult marriages (for they are all difficult in their own way) into supporting people to stay in abusive marriages, especially when, in this very chapter, I say there ARE occasions when divorce can be considered (though I don’t in this book specifically mention abuse). I can see how someone in an abusive marriage might feel as you do, but that was not my intent. And that’s why, when A Lifelong Love came out, I wrote an appendix, “God Hates Domestic Violence.” And why I’ve written this blog post.

      It’s obvious you’ve been hurt, and it’s understandable that someone with personal experience with this would desire that their case always be in the front part of a writer’s mind as he/she deals with any issue, but that’s not realistic. Writers have to be concise and succinct or we’ll lose our readers.

      Because of this, while it might bother you, I have to say, I stand by these passages in Sacred Marriage. I want couples to push through the difficulties (NOT abuse). I don’t want couples to give up. I think we should fight against divorce with all we have. I believe divorce is a terrible (though sometimes necessary) option.

      In the end, I’m just not sure it’s realistic to put a caveat on every single page that I’m not talking about abuse. I certainly WILL be more mindful of this in the future however, as I was when writing A Lifelong Love (and the upcoming release of Cherish)
      [see Gary’s comment at http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/comment-page-5/#comment-247392%5D /

      I, Barb, believe that Gary Thomas was condescending to XianJaneway. He told her he thought her critique was unfair, but before he pushed back against her he told her her he knew she was writing out of grief. How could Gary Thomas know what XianJaneway was feeling? She didn’t tell him anything about how she was feeling. So he was being condescending right there.

      Gary says he doesn’t see how the story of the wife who gave her husband an STD c encourages a woman to stay in an abusive marriage.
      Well if Gary doesn’t see that, even after XianJaneway had explained to him that nn abused wife could look at that story and think, “Well, maybe what I’m going through isn’t so bad. It was just a slap… just a shove….just a broken window. It’s not like it’s an STD!” —— then Gary Thomas NEEDS TO LISTEN TO MORE FEEDBACK from people like XianJaneway and readers of A Cry For Justice.

      Gary Thomas, let me make it crystal clear to you.
      (1) When you write anything about marriage, victims of domestic abuse WILL be reading what you write and trying to apply it to their own situations.
      (2) Victims of abuse tend to minimise the severity of whatever they are enduring. Their abusers tell them, ‘It’s no big deal how I treat you. You’re too sensitive! Can’t you take a joke? Stop complaining. Get over it!” And churches tell victims, ‘It’s not really abuse.” And the victims often tell themselves “It’s not that bad what I’m going through. I’m not a victim of domestic abuse. Yikes — I’m not one of *those* women!”
      (3) Therefore, every time you tell a story of one spouse mistreating their partner, a victim of a use will most likely read you story and think, “I’m not as badly off as some other people. So I should just keep putting up with my spouse’s conduct.”
      (4) If you don’t factor that in to every single thing you write on marriage Gary, you will be likely to prolong the suffering of victims of abuse.

      • All four of those comments (Elizabeth’s, Xian Janeway’s and the two replies Gary wrote to them) have now been scrubbed from Enough Is Enough.

    • Xian Janeway replied again to Gary Thomas:

      …your writing put the fear of God’s wrath in people who were considering leaving their marriages, regardless of the circumstances. You talked about how Christ suffered, how people in difficult marriages suffered, and how God would be glorified whether they were “happy” or not. I don’t believe a couple of lines about “divorce is the right choice sometimes” are going to mitigate the fear of God’s wrath. However, an entire chapter on when divorce *is* appropriate may have helped the HUGE category of your readers who were in abusive relationships to see the difference between marital struggle & abuse.

      • And that comment from Christian Janeway has now been scrubbed from Enough Is Enough.

    • And Daniel Rouche backed up Xian Janeway and pushed back against Gary by telling Gary:

      Wait, where in [Xian Janeaway’s] response was it “obvious” she was hurt? She quoted your book.

      Also you’re going through her response saying it’s all unfair and taken out of context, not the whole story, etc, but then at the end you say you’re going to be “more mindful” of this in the future? You can’t have it both ways. Either her correction as one of your readers has validity that you can thank her for, or it’s completely off base. Your tone is condescending, especially with assuming she’s coming from hurt. But here’s the thing – if theoretically she was, you’re minimizing possibly enlightening correction from a victim for the sake of “being succint and keeping readers”? Just look at how that sounds. I know you’re not writing books on this subject just to get readers and a following – no, this subject is too important to let victim’s perspectives slip through the cracks.

      Given the extreme gravity of this topic, and the potential for misunderstanding with disastrous consequences, which you clearly know, I don’t think going “overboard” on clarification is remotely a bad thing. You’re the writer, the leader in this field. How your followers follow, and that they get the full picture as best you can, has got to be important.

      • Then Gary Thomas responded. Notice the fancy footwork he does to defend and excuse himself. Here is what he said to Xian Janeway and Daniel Roueche:

        Xian Janeway and Daniel,

        Xian Janeway HAS been hurt – by having to walk through this with others. That’s not dismissive, and it’s not condescending. It’s clear she has more than theoretical knowledge of it, even if it has been gained by grieving with others–as I have. I have been hurt by domestic violence myself though I’ve never been a victim of it, and part of that hurt is why I wrote this blog post. This was in no way intended as a slam, or I’d be slamming myself.

        For the record, my next marriage book after Sacred Marriage was Sacred Influence, a book for wives. From pages 152 to 155 I have an extended discussion urging women to (wisely, carefully and with counsel) leave abusive marriages. I make it clear that any attempt to use Sacred Marriage as cover for abuse is a misapplication. I lay out the biblical case for leaving such abuse, and quote some respected authorities who work with domestic violence, warning against spiritualizing it or minimizing it. It’s not one paragraph. It’s four pages.

        In my next marriage book, A Lifelong Love, I have an entire appendix entitled “God Hates Domestic Violence.”

        From that context, perhaps I was a bit sensitive when it appeared to me that some readers want to assume that one truth–God can use a difficult marriage–applied in an erroneous way (“therefore stay in an abusive marriage”) calls me to renounce prior work. I have gone out of my way to confront this–thus this blog post! And I’m caught off-guard when accusations seem to say I’ve been part of the problem. More than I’m zealous for me, I’m zealous for the way God has used Sacred Marriage in so many positive ways. I hear stories almost daily, still, fifteen years after the book came out.

        We need to hold in tension that God can shape us through the difficulties of marriage, without assuming that justifies violence and abuse. It’s not either-or, and that’s what I was trying to defend with Xian Janeway.

        Daniel, it’s not easy to carry in tension the need to hold readers, address diverse and various situations, and still maintain a platform to be read. My expression of that challenge is not dismissive of Xian Janeway–it’s my daily reality. I can be grateful for how God has used works in the past while still wanting to do a better job of communicating in the future. I don’t see how this needs to be “either or,” as you put it.

        QUESTION TO ALL ACFJ READERS:
        Does the fact that Gary Thomas wrote four pages in a later book “urging women to (wisely, carefully and with counsel) leave abusive marriages” and then, later, in another book wrote an entire appendix titled “God Hates Domestic Violence” — do those things mean he can be forgiven for writing things in Sacred Marriage that without doubt have harmed victims of abuse?

        Has Gary Thomas ever retracted the things he’s written that have hurt victims of abuse? Has he every told his readers— “Hey everyone, when I said x and y and z (citing all the quotes in full, with page refences and web links if appropriate ) in my writing I was wrong. I have now changed my mind. This is now what I think (giving full detial so we are confident he really HAS changed his mind). And I want to apologise and ask your forgiveness for having written those things which were dangerous for victims of abuse.”

        Until I hear that kind of retraction and apology from Gary Thomas, AND he removes the dangerous material from publication so no-one else can buy it, then I won’t believe he really gets it about domestic abuse. And I will continue to believe that he is more interested in selling his books than helping victims of abuse.

        Just have a quick look at his FB page and you will see how frequently he promotes his own books.

      • Stronger Now

        Gary has missed one of the most fundamental tenets of writing: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

        Anyone writing a book on marriage, improving marriage, Christian marriage, or what wives need to do or be in their marriage, simply MUST KNOW, they MUST CONSIDER, on every page, in every line, every choice of words, they MUST think through the fact that a disproportionately large percentage of their readers will be living with abuse. We, more than the average person, are searching for answers. We are being told the fault lies in us. We are being blamed for everything that our entitled, narcissistic “husbands” don’t like about their lives. We are, more than most other people, desperately searching for a magic bullet that will turn things around.

        Anyone writing such a book who doesn’t take this basic fact into account, will, without a doubt, increase the suffering of abused women.

        So, Gary’s insistence that four pages, or a blog post, or an appendix, can do the job in spite of how the entirety of his body of work can easily be twisted to further abuse victims and increase their suffering, just doesn’t hold so much as a drop of water.

        No, Gary, you have missed it, entirely.

      • Daniel Rouche’s comment on Enough is Enough has also been scrubbed.

  10. Stephanie

    I know for A FACT – even if you did that which he is suggesting with an abuser – it would RAMP UP the abuse.

  11. Stronger Now

    So, Gary, please tell me what new thing God was trying to teach me and how He was trying to shape me when my husband raped me every single night? Was He teaching me that allowing myself to be violated, daily, was a way to love an angry, controlling, narcissistic man? Was He teaching me that I had no value other than as a THING to be USED? Was He teaching me that the pain my “husband” was inflicting on me was my way of identifying with the cross of Christ?

    Or, maybe it was the enemy of my soul who was trying to kill me, spiritually. Maybe an evil man was just being evil. Maybe the most loving thing I ever did for that man was to show him the door and let him live with the consequences of his evil behavior.

    Thank you, Avid Reader, for protecting us from the harm this book would inflict on us. I think we have suffered enough.

    • Standing ovation for this:

      So, Gary, please tell me what new thing God was trying to teach me and how He was trying to shape me when my husband raped me every single night? Was He teaching me that allowing myself to be violated, daily, was a way to love an angry, controlling, narcissistic man? Was He teaching me that I had no value other than as a THING to be USED? Was He teaching me that the pain my “husband” was inflicting on me was my way of identifying with the cross of Christ?

  12. FreeWill

    Unbelievable! I tried all those duties and behaviors with my abusive ex-husband, and it never made him a better man or husband. It never stopped his mistreatment. We are each personally responsible for our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, etc. If a man behaves bad, it is because he is bad.

  13. H

    I love how the very title of the book oozes manipulation… ladies, men NEED this from you IF you are to get what you want from them. It sounds like men have a lot of unquestionable needs (aka, it’s not their fault) that women have innumerable obligations to fulfill. Obligations placed on them by God, no less. And if women don’t, well, then it’s no wonder their husbands are violent and abusive towards them.

    It is for freedom Christ set us free! To listen to a teaching that enslaves women to a life of desperately feeding the needs of her husband, how ridiculous to state that God would command such a thing!

    • Seeing the Light

      H, amen to your comment. I wanted to remark that I wish you had capitalized the “want” in “IF you are the get what you want from them.” The implication is that the men have NEEDs and the women have WANTs.

      • H

        Yes, really good point! 🙂

  14. Anon.

    This book’s premise and contents make me ill. It is so sickening. It reminds me of the onslaught of ‘Christian’ publications that talk about how women need to be pretty, submissive, self-sacrificing, and so forth as men are visual creatures, the rightful head of the households, blah, blah, blah.

    So much of it is but men’s self-serving man-made traditions. And who loves these traditional views more than dominating, controlling, abusive men who are but tyrants, and abusers?!

    If a man does not need help in ensuring he doesn’t beat a cop who pulls him over for speeding, then he isn’t out of control when he beats you at home for supposedly irritating him. Like the review so aptly states, if a man can manage ‘stressful’ conversations at work, his brain can handle conversing at home, without special breaks for him to supposedly ‘calm down’ his supposed neurological wiring and all.

    Ridiculous. And what’s sad is how many desperate women go about reading such books, being blamed and ashamed all the more, thinking if they’d just study harder, apply the principles more consistently, then the abusing tyrant might stop. And the author makes money from perpetuating the abusers’ lies that somehow it is always the woman’s fault and that is she who is causing him to be a violent, irritable, hateful ‘difficult’ husband.

  15. Anewanon

    Did anyone catch THIS????

    if your husband hits you — both of you need help…..you must speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor or maybe a dear friend. (p. 152)

    Umm, how about DIALING 911?? how about TALKING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT???

    Helloooooo? Anybody IN there, Gary?

    • H

      Isn’t it absurd? It’s like saying if you suspect you may have cancer or some horrible disease, “speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor, or maybe a dear friend.” Really? Who would recommend a “trusted pastor” to help you with that situation rather than a doctor? Who would recommend talking to a pastor instead of the police after a physical assault?

    • A

      I caught that. I believed all that garbage about talk to the pastor if your husband abuses you and I was already scared to call the police for fear that they wouldn’t help and husband would punish me for ratting him out to the cops. I never once called the police on my ex-husband while we were married (I have no problem doing it now). I wish every pastor from every pulpit in America would tell abused women to call the police and that the church would back her up.

      • Anewanon

        Man, I would LOVE to here that from the pulpit. Can anyone say, “sit up in your pew and WAKEY WAKEY? Here’s a new concept!”

        Thanks!

  16. FollowerOfJesus

    Never have I read such horrible comments written on marriage. He is brutal! Jesus Christ never spoke anything like this!

    • Welcome to the blog 🙂 I changed you screen name to FollowerOfJesus because you’d given a name that might have identified you.
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

  17. angelsforhorses

    I would offer that the authors of both books cited, may indeed be closet narcissists, and/or abusers; as well as misogynists. The issue comes in when many of our pastors and church elders are of a similar mind set. I grew up partially in the Mennonite church, they were very “old school” and encouraged men to discipline (beat) their wives for even minor infractions. My question for men AND women who accept this as scriptural is…where in is the love? Loving ones spouse does not mean being a doormat, but it DOES mean respecting them and ones self. Being a good Christian wife does not mean becoming chattel or less of a human being.

    I find the prospect of these books and this mode of thinking to be terrifying. If I had stayed I WOULD be dead! And the “church’ I was involved in during my marriage would have quite possibly upheld my ex-husbands right to take my life…at the very least they still argue for me to forgive him and reconcile our marriage…however THAT is neither scriptural nor safe.

    • Hi Angelsforhorses, we are not claiming or even faintly suspecting that Gary Thomas might have abused his wife.

      • angelsforhorses

        No, I know that you are most certainly not. I did not mean to imply that you were in any way shape or form. I only note what I glean from this article and writings Mr. Thomas, and that is that I see very defined misogynistic leanings and attitudes that lead one to believe that the writer could very well fit the DSM description of a narcissist….and that the attitude the author exhibits is also one that many abusers affect, and so leads one to believe that the author is indeed a covert narcissist and possible abuser. My words, my observations, my belief. Nothing more or less.

  18. bright sunshinin' day

    I’d like to see Gary write a book to pastors on dealing with angry, abusive congregants using these same principles found in his “Sacred Influence” book…

    For example, “Pastors, if a congregant knocks your teeth out while you are preaching, call for the elders to surround you in a circle of prayer and begin singing praise to God for this situation knowing God is using it as a ‘tool’ to shape you…”

    Enough already!

    • Anewanon

      Thank you for that smile …. you made for me a bright sunshinin day!

  19. A

    My main problem with marriage help books in general is that the authors don’t seem to understand that there are situations where the advice in the book won’t help and actually will make things much worse certain situations. They should all come with a disclaimer or warning label, something that indicates that normal means of marriage help don’t work in DV situations and then discribe how you know if a relationship is abusive.

  20. IamMyBeloved's

    Some women spiritualize domestic violence. They assume it’s their duty to bear up under the assault and certainly not to report it to anyone, lest their husbands get in trouble. I want to be as clear and as honest here as I can — if your husband hits you — both of you need help…..you must speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor or maybe a dear friend. (p. 152)

    Or how about the police, an attorney and a divorce Judge?

    Also, if anyone can change a narcissist, then Mr. Thomas has found a cure that psychologists around the world need to hear about because they have rightfully declare there is no cure. The Word says that the wicked go astray from the womb.

    I’ll sum it up by calling the book what it appears to be. Spiritual and emotional abuse.

  21. Avid Reader

    There were so many problems with this book that we didn’t even have time to cover in this review but I just wanted to share one more quick thought with you all.

    We’ve learned from Lundy Bancroft that abusers don’t have a problem with their own anger—they have a problem with YOUR anger because deep down they know that your anger will open the door to your freedom.

    Now reading these quotes from Sacred Influence, you can see the double standard where Gary Thomas makes excuses for the perpetrator’s unrighteous anger that’s a work of the flesh, while trying to silence the righteous anger of the victim who has been deeply harmed.

    As Lundy Bancroft writes in Why Does He Do That?

    If you watch closely, you will begin to notice how many of his controlling behaviors are aimed ultimately at discrediting and silencing you.

    The abusive man’s goal in a heated argument is in essence to get you to stop thinking for yourself and to silence you, because to him—your opinions and complaints are obstacles to the imposition of his will…..(and) an affront to his sense of entitlement. (p. 147)

    • Lea

      >they have a problem with YOUR anger because deep down they know that your anger will open the door to your freedom.

      I read soemthing the other day that said anger can bring out the truth. So fearing anger would make sense, because you might see the truth.

  22. Seeking Truth

    Such victim-blaming here.

    “Sometimes your husband would have to be in deep denial or less than human NOT to be angry with you. If you act as though anger is always illegitimate you’ll merely confuse him, because asking him not to feel angry is like his asking you to never feel hurt. (p. 148)

    You can’t control your husband’s anger but you can provoke it by being disrespectful” (p.149)

    Honestly, he assumes that men are imbeciles as well as entitled to their angry outbursts and women are the cause. How about some personal responsibility here?

    I, for one, have discovered plenty of anger, never mind “hurt feelings” after finally saying no to years of abuse. But I’m not abusing anyone as a result of my own anger. Anger isn’t an excuse for abuse.

    • KayJay

      The poor little dears!! They just can’t help it. Who’s the weaker sex now?

    • Hope

      Thank you Seeking Truth, personal responsibility and accountability seem to only apply to women where some men are concerned. I submit that none of them are actually Christians, they just masquerade as such.
      I have also discovered similar anger, and pray every day to not repay in kind. Anger and abuse are not an excuse for repaying with the same, I agree. I am now rebuilding my destroyed life, but not at his expense – and with a lot of prayer. Enlightening and surreal, but before it was devastating and surreal. This is far better!

  23. Rosie

    …..and it’s because of writing like this that I’m done with reading “Spiritual” books written by men. I’m sticking to Scriptures & being led directly by the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t even read all of his quotes because of triggers. What a dangerous man.

    • kim

      Rosie- I’m in the same situation regarding “Christian” books. I have found so much teaching of men and demons in them, that I am now very hesitant to read any so-called Christian book written by man.

      Thanks, Avid Reader, for your review. The responses of the community have really been a blessing.

  24. Notlongnow

    Yuck. This sounds like a book written in support of selfish, abusive, narcissist husbands. There’s nothing wrong with them, no, it’s the wives that must adjust and change their behaviour and excuse away all the horrid behaviour of the husband.

    This kind of rubbish is how unsaved, unregenerated, lost men, can actually pass as ‘saved’ men, because all their unChrist-like behaviour is explained away as how their brain is wired and as primal male needs and patterns. Tripe!

    Also using an adulteress as a positive example is truly sick. That does it for me. He is on my blacklist.

  25. I’m tweeting Gary Thomas @GaryLThomas, so he gets pointed to Avid Reader’s review. If you are on twitter, please do so as well.

    • Hope

      Perhaps it is time for Gary Thomas to cease and desist; to stop writing altogether and instead bury himself in the Word and search out all the Truths he has gotten so wrong. Isn’t that what a genuine Christian does when someone mentions a different interpretation or view of Scripture? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do when we are told that what we are doing is wrong?

  26. //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  27. Song of Joy

    Great review. I haven’t yet read the other comments, but the perspective of this book is preposterous. Just based on a quote provided, here is how ridiculous it is…

    “If you manage to love only an easy-to-love husband why do you need God?”
    “…WHY DO YOU NEED GOD?”

    Logical conclusion:
    Christian women, if you are currently married to a thoughtful, caring, unselfish and mature man, dump him right now! That’s right, DUMP HIM!

    He is a stumbling block to you, inhibiting your spiritual growth and limiting your relationship with God!

    You need to find a callous, thoughtless, selfish, immature man to marry, so that you can maximize your need for God and gain the spiritual rewards that are sure to come (as promised by Gary Thomas).

    And furthermore, according to GT, having a healthy, mutual, compassionate marriage = “merely trading personal favors”. Do you want your soul and marriage to divinely soar a lot higher than “merely trading personal favors”?

    Well then, you should seek out a cruel, abusive, manipulative, angry, immoral fellow to pledge your troth to, because it will result in a thriving relationship with God and amplified blessings to you (as promised by Gary Thomas, and you can depend on his word).
    [end sarcasm] Good grief.

    • NG

      Sadly, Song of Joy, that kind of stuff really is taught too often – if not explicitly, then at least indirectly implied..

      Thank God, no angry, cold, tyrannical man has accepted me as ‘good enough’ to be his wife, so I haven’t been able to cultivate Fruit of the Spirit under those conditions.. Still have to wait for a loving, kind, compassionate and unselfish man to come alongside me, and I will be grateful with that!

    • keeningforthedawn

      Song of Joy, I LOVE THIS! Your use of sarcasm does spotlight the apparent context of Thomas’ mantra, “What if marriage was designed not to make you happy, but holy?” (As if the two are exclusive of one another.)

  28. Hope

    Thank you! I suspect that Gary is an abuser himself, either overtly and is a master at deception and misdirection, or covertly and perhaps does not recognize the signs within himself – or maybe he does… this book is a dead giveaway.

    • Notlongnow

      I have the same gut feeling. Why is he on that team, arguing for sin basically and supporting selfish, callous husbands and putting all the pressure on the wives.

      Also he has double speak. Writing rubbish like this, and then doing posts saying he does not support abuse. Things don’t add up. Double speak is a trademark of false teachers, and of abusers themselves. It’s a distraction tactic.

      • Hope

        Amen dear sister!

    • Hi Hope, personally, I do not suspect that Gary is a wife-abuser. I think he has just been very naive about domestic abuse … but is no longer naive and yet he has a lot more still to learn in order to write about it really well.

      • Hope

        I sure hope you are right, Barbara. You have more experience in this and more expertise than I ever will, so I will hope you are correct and I am wrong.

        Here’s my problem, though, and why all that I have read on this important post sends chills, nausea and red flags by the dozens: my father was abusive of me for my entire life, until he was banned from visiting my home. For two years he threatened to show up anyway, causing me to become physically ill, but eventually he got used to the idea that he would not be seeing me ever again. My Christian father. My Christian father who did not abuse my sisters, and who loved his Christian wife even though he did sometimes act like he owned her. She loved him as well, and found it amusing – she was very strong and independent. He treated his own mother badly, made fun of her and talked down to her and I honestly never heard him say a good word about her – and she was an AMAZING Christian woman! My mother rarely saw the abuse and never understood what she witnessed.

        I do not trust Gary at all. I fully realize I may be wrong in my suspicions, and I hope I am, but not all abusers abuse their wives. My dad didn’t.

      • Thanks for sharing that, Hope! Your testimony is important. 🙂

      • Hope

        And thank you, Barbara, you are a gift.

  29. Seeing the Light

    From the excerpts and even the title, this book feels like a piece or a component of a much large agenda. It’s creepy to me how all these individual people and books and churches fit together in this drive to treat women this way.

    • Notlongnow

      It’s as if they have all have one organised, powerful leader….and we know who that is.

      • Seeing the Light

        That’s just what I was thinking.

  30. Lea

    “Women—in general—simply don’t understand how offensive and annoying it can feel to a man to be constantly challenged and corrected, especially in a disrespectful manner. (p. 150)”-Gary’s quote.

    My comment to this is this: does he think women love to be constantly challenged and disrespected???? How completely absurd.

    I’m convinced some of these men don’t realize that women are human, just like men.

  31. keeningforthedawn

    Avid Reader, THANK YOU for this much-needed book review of SACRED INFLUENCE. I walked into its destructive web last year when our Ladies’ Bible Study worked through it over the course of a few months. The book struck me as “The Gospel According to THE STEPFORD WIVES” — men reveal their deepest, darkest secrets and wildest fantasies, and then package it as a self-help manual for well-meaning Christian wives. I can’t tell you how angry this book made me. I was tempted to quit the study, but felt that I NEEDED to stay in order to call out the oppressive fodder found in virtually every chapter. (Thankfully, most of the women were gracious about hearing an opposing viewpoint.)

    Books like SACRED INFLUENCE join the ranks of what I like to refer as “yet another sit-down-and-shut-up manual” directed to Christian women.

  32. CeeKay

    Fantastic book review!!

  33. And way back in 2014 I courteously offered Gary Thomas feedback to help him become better at saying things in ways that would help victims of domestic abuse (Link). Gary never took up my offer.

  34. Remedy

    So glad you mentioned how is it then they can handle all the stress AND THE VERBIAGE that goes along with such situations at their jobs and other places outside the home without violence of some sort. They know they could lose their job and so exercise restraint, cooperation, and many other responses they wouldn’t dream of offering their wives.

    • A

      My ex owns his own business, much of which was conducted via his cell phone. He would be screaming at me when the phone would ring, he would politely answer the phone and kindly deal with the caller, and would then hang up the phone and resume his fit of anger towards me. Don’t tell me these guys can’t control their anger. They have their anger totally under control and pull it out as a weapon to use as they feel necessary. (Btw – that’s why it’s so dangerous for courts to send abusers to anger management class. All that does is teach the abuser new strategies on how to use anger to get his own way.)

  35. A

    As I ponder these comments I wonder if Gary Thomas has any clue how DV really operates? Shortly after I left my abuser, who was also an alcoholic, I went to a professional baseball game with a group of friends. Heading back to the car after the game we walked through the remnants of someone’s tailgate party that included a huge pile of beer cans of the brand my ex husband drinks. That pile of beer cans sent me into a full blown panic attack that I was desperately trying to control. Later I told one of the friends in this group how disturbing that pile of cans was and he told me he understood and stuff like that disturbed him too. This was coming from a man who has never drank alcohol and didn’t grow up in an alcoholic family. I don’t believe for one second that my friend truly understood my problem, just like I’m not convinced that GT really understands DV victims. Maybe he has convinced himself that he understands, but does he really? True comprehension takes more than just talking to some victims at a conference. If he really understood he would find some editors who truly know how the mind of a DV victim functions and have them critique his writing. Barbara Roberts comes to mind as a good reviewer 😊

    • Jeff Crippen

      A – excellent illustration. We find over and over again that really the only people who understand abuse, abusers, effects on victims and so on are people whose lives have been personally touched in some way by abuse. Either being a victim themselves or someone very close to them being a target.

    • Megan

      Your story about the beer cans reminds me of just after my drunkard and abuser of a father abandoned me and my mother. A family friend invited me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding. I asked her if they’d be having an open bar at the wedding reception. I didn’t say that it was because I didn’t want to be around her potentially drunken extended family members, due to just not wanting to be reminded of my father. I didn’t know what the word “trigger” meant back then, but I knew it would definitely trigger me to be around inebriated people.

      Her first reaction to my very simple question was (in her most compassionate and nearly condescending tone), “Do you struggle with drinking?”

      Ouch. Why in the world would a family friend I grew up with just assume that I was the drunk? Not my father, no. Me. I’m the problem. That hurt so bad. She totally didn’t get it. And there was no point explaining to her why I didn’t want to be near an open bar.

      Needless to say, we aren’t really friends anymore. (Though there’s more than that one incident to it, but, you know, it all starts adding up after a while.)

      So don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s been through that kind of misunderstanding. But we all understand you here. *Hugs*.

  36. KarenR

    Based on what you’ve written I don’t know which is worse: the fact that he wrote this book or the fact that the publisher decided to publish it?

    Wow

    • Keeningforthedawn

      KarenR — Excellent point. Definitely food for thought.

  37. Lisa Thomas

    Dear Barbara and Friends,
    The hurt, pain, fear and horror you have faced at the hands of your husbands is palpable. I am so sorry for what you have suffered. I wish that I could say that I understand, but I don’t. I really don’t. I am married to a man who is so far from abusive that I can’t imagine what it would be like to fear him. He is one of the gentlest men that I know. He is constantly surprising me with acts of kindness, making me feel noticed, adored and cherished. Why I am telling you this? It is not to fuel jealousy or further your anger or sadness at what you have missed out on. I tell you this because my husband is Gary Thomas, and I cannot sit silently while you ignorantly malign the character of a man that you have never met.

    Gary is not perfect; in fact one of his faults may be how naive he was regarding the incidence of marital abuse happening in the church. Since he began doing a lot of pastoral counseling a few years ago his eyes have been opened, and he has become one of the leading evangelical voices speaking out against this. When some ultra-reformed voices were stating that you are married to the one God chose for you, Gary pushed back. (God did NOT choose for anyone to be married to an abuser.) He has walked women through immediate separation when there is any hint of violence, and counseled some through divorce when others were telling them they needed to stick it out. I have sat in his office with him, pleading with a young woman to not marry the man she was engaged to. The fiance had never raised a hand against her, but he was disrespectful to his mother and his mother-in-law; dismissive and short-tempered with his soon to be bride. Gary did not need physical abuse to happen before he could tell her: “This is not okay. He does not respect women, and he does not adore you in the ways you deserve.” He ultimately refused to marry them, and they sadly went elsewhere for their premarital counseling. There are likely some of you who wish somebody had had the courage to gently warn you away from the one that you married.

    Gary’s main calling has been to strengthen and heal marriages that are in fact “fixable”. He is not a licensed therapist, nor has he ever pretended to be. However, he has repeatedly said that if you are in an abusive situation your priority is safety, and ultimately healing. He has said that certain of his writings are not meant for those in the midst of abuse. In fact, there is an appendix in A Lifelong Love entitled “God Hates Domestic Violence.” There is a section in Sacred influence urging women not to spiritualize marital abuse and to seek help and wise escape. At his conferences he addresses both the abusers and the abused. And ironically, one of his blog posts denouncing abuse within the church is what led to this outlash against him.

    I am dismayed that some of you responding on here have not even read Gary’s books for yourselves. Worse yet, some have written negative reviews on places like Amazon. It is misleading and unethical to write a review on something you haven’t read, and if that is the case I would urge you to take your reviews down. If you have read the book and want to point out ways you think it could be improved, that’s fine. But don’t take a few quotes and decide that you know enough to bash not only the book, but Gary’s other writings, and ultimately his character as well.

    Gary is not a man who seeks conflict. He is a typical middle-born peacemaker. For him to step out on this issue has taken a courage that has been strengthened by his empathy for the many women who have faced abuse. He is on your side. I don’t understand why you would want to silence one who is speaking up for you. Both of us have hearts burdened by what has happened to so many. Please don’t take your anger against some men and unleash it against those who are trying to help. And please, don’t ever suggest that I am a victim of any sort. I am blessed beyond measure to be married to Gary Thomas.

    • Dear Lisa
      I am sincerely happy for you that your marriage is happy. At this stage of my life I feel no jealousy of those who have happy marriages. And I no longer feel any anger or sadness that I missed out on happinesss in marriage. That is the absolute and unalloyed truth. So you need have no concerns for me on that score.

      As a preliminary, I just want to clarify who wrote the book review. The woman who reviewed Sacred Influence uses the screen name Avid Reader. She had of course read Sacred Influence before she reviewed it. Ps Jeff Crippen and I (Barbara Roberts) co-lead the blog A Cry For Justice. We have published several of Avid Reader’s book reviews on our blog A Cry For Justice after the reviews were published on Amazon. The initiative for the review of Sacred Influence came from Avid Reader, but we helped her by providing editorial suggestions while she was writing. We of course take ultimate responsiblity for publishing her review on our blog. But for one of Avid Reader’s reviews to be removed from Amazon, she would have to do that herself. That’s how Amazon works.

      So far, only two of our commenters said that they thought Gary might be an abuser. I have put comments in reply to each of them, which you can see here and here. We have also hidden a couple of comments on our FB page which speculated about Gary abusing his wife.

      You mentioned that “one of Gary’s faults may be how naive he was regarding the incidence of marital abuse happening in the church.” And that “Since he began doing a lot of pastoral counseling a few years ago his eyes have been opened and he has become one of the leading evangelical voices speaking out against this.”

      I believe you are right that Gary was naive about the incidence of marital abuse in the church. I venture to suggest that while he may be less naive now, he still may not be aware of how widespread it actually is.

      Gary may have indeed become one of the prominent voices speaking out against marital abuse in the church. But what if the things Gary is saying about domestic abuse are, in fact, still in need of improvement? And what if some things he has written in the past have contributed to the harm of many women? Isn’t it okay for us to be pointing these things out?

      You described us as “taking our anger against some men and unleashing it on those who are trying to help.”

      There is another way of perceiving what is going on here. Let me put this other way of perceiving it, for you to consider. The vast majority of people who commented on this thread have indeed been hurt by abusers, and the majority of those abusers have been men — husbands, pastoral counselors, and church leaders. These commenters may indeed feel angry for what was done to them. And they are longing for more people in the church to wake up to this issue and start speaking really wisely about it. Quite a few of them have indeed been hurt by things in Gary’s books. Some of them are expressing their anger, which is fair enough, especially in the light of how naive most people (including Gary) have been about this issue in the past. If oppressed people and formerly oppressed people express their anger, is that not understandable? Are they then to be admonished for having expressed it? Can’t that be overlooked in Christian love, given the whole backstory?

      Since Gary is indeed becoming more aware of the problem and speaking out about it, is it not fair for survivors and victim-advocates to give him feedback which might help him improve how he speaks and writes about marital abuse and about marriage in general? And does he not have to bear responsibility for how his writings may have contributed to the hurt of abuse victims? And what if one of the things he could do to improve how he speaks about domestic abuse would be for him to admit publicly that he had written things which have harmed abuse victims, and he is sorry and will be retracting those things?

      No matter what good things he may have said and written about domestic abuse, those things have not undone the contribution he has (unwittingly) made to the suffering of the abused. And the testimony to that suffering and his contribution is here, in this thread.

      But to admit that he had written things which have harmed abuse victims would be a big step for Gary, I imagine. He doesn’t yet seem to realise how much victim-blaming there is in his writing.

      Here is what Gary said when defending himself against Xian Janeway—

      Sacred Influence, a book for wives. From pages 152 to 155 I have an extended discussion urging women to (wisely, carefully and with counsel) leave abusive marriages. I make it clear that any attempt to use Sacred Marriage as cover for abuse is a misapplication. I lay out the biblical case for leaving such abuse, and quote some respected authorities who work with domestic violence, warning against spiritualizing it or minimizing it. It’s not one paragraph. It’s four pages.

      And here is one of the quotes Avid Reader gave in her review. This quote is taken from the very section (pp 152–155) of Sacred Influence where Gary wrote abuse domestic abuse:

      Some women spiritualize domestic violence. They assume it’s their duty to bear up under the assault and certainly not to report it to anyone, lest their husbands get in trouble. I want to be as clear and as honest here as I can — if your husband hits you — both of you need help…..you must speak to someone — a trusted pastor, wise counselor or maybe a dear friend. (p. 152)

      Perhaps when Gary was writing Sacred Influence he didn’t know that most pastors and counselors are pretty clueless about how to recognise and respond to domestic abuse. I hope he has now become, or is becoming, aware of that.

      Perhaps when writing Sacred Influence he didn’t realise that using expressions like “assault” and “if your husband hits you” is not a wise way to write when addressing victims of domestic abuse, because many victims of abuse have never been hit by their spouses and they will think “Well, he’s never hit me, so this doesn’t apply to me. I’m not really a victim.”

      I give these things as examples of how Gary still has a lot to learn. Even in his four page section specially addressing the topic of marital abuse, he made some basic errors. Errors we could have easily helped him correct, if he wanted to ask for our assistance.

      Avid Reader also quoted this from Sacred Influence:

      Perhaps you saw signs of this rage or violence before you married but in your eagerness to become a bride you chose to look past it or excuse it as a onetime occurrence. Maybe you thought marriage would make everything better. But now you’re stuck in a frightening situation. (p. 133)

      As the commenter Lea pointed out, Gary’s words there were implicitly blaming the woman for not realizing things beforehand AND telling her she is stuck in the same paragraph. Gary’s words implied the woman was wrong (and to blame) for choosing to look past her fiance’s rage or violence, or for excusing it as a onetime occurrence. Now, some women do indeed choose to look past the man’s bad behaviour or excuse it as a ontime occurence. But why didn’t Gary instead honour those women for excercising some of the virtues of Christian character in choosing to overlook faults and for generously excusing a bad occurrence?

      And as Hope pointed out, that quote almost made her ill — in her case, she never saw any signs of abuse until after she was married; everyone was deceived about the character of her fiancé not just her. Her parents were and still are deceived about his character. Deceivers and manipulators are very clever and very good at their deceptions.

      It is Gary’s lack of wisdom in such matters that renders him liable to say things which (without him being aware of it) will be heard by the abused women as Victim Blaming. And let me state this very clearly: It is not the fault of the victims for hearing it that way. We believe it is the responsibility of writers and preachers to learn how to say things in ways that cannot be construed as Victim Blaming. We teach how to do that on this blog. But so far, Gary hasn’t seemed to want to learn what we can teach him.

      In one of his emails to me, Gary invited me to look objectively at the email I’d sent him and if I did I would realise that I’d been saying, “Welcome to the party, Gary. Now read these books and blogs and you’ll finally know what you should have been saying all along (as if I hadn’t been saying it before) and clean up your books while you’re at it.”

      Well I didn’t need to put on my *specially objective* spectacles to evaluate my email. Gary’s characterisation of my email is not something I want to quibble with all that much. This is what I have been trying to say to Gary: Welcome to the cause, Gary. I’m glad you’re speaking out saying that domestic abuse is unacceptable and that the church has not been dealing well with it. I am offering you suggestions of books and blogs to read so you can improve what you are saying. And some of my suggestions involve looking back at what you have written in the past which has actually hurt victims of domestic abuse.

      I am disappointed that Gary hasn’t yet appeared to rise to the challenge. But I remain hopeful that he will do so. We do need allies in this cause — not ‘we’ as in Jeff and Barb, but we as in all the Christian victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

      Why else would I have been putting so much energy and time into trying to raise Gary’s awareness? I have done it for the sake of the victim/survivors. Gary’s voice CAN be a very important voice in this cause. I only hope he realises that he still has quite a lot to learn, and that he takes steps to engage in that learning.

    • Lea

      I truly hope your husbands eyes are open now. I do take issue with this:

      “Since he began doing a lot of pastoral counseling a few years ago his eyes have been opened and he has become one of the leading evangelical voices speaking out against this.”

      I don’t think this is a good excuse, considering he wrote a book on marriage and held himself up as an expert, despite having apparently no experience beyond being married? If I am understanding you both correctly. If that is true, that is not an excuse. Perhaps he should apologize for representing himself as an expert and as such doing damage? Many women shared their stories, here and on his blog, of his book being used to excuse abuse by multiple men and churches. I hope that caused your husband to do some soul searching and I don’t think mentioning stuff written in a different book and disinterest in revising this book is a helpful response. I hope he rethinks that.

      • Avid Reader

        There’s a lot of ways that Gary Thomas can provide for his family WITHOUT teaching on marriage. But by making the decision to teach the Word, Gary puts himself on a higher level of responsibility as the Bible tells us “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1 (NIV)

        Yet Gary seems to keep refusing to take responsibility for his own words. He keeps saying that four pages (p. 152-155) in Sacred Influence justify everything else that he’s said.

        Let’s take another look at those four pages.

        Remember the quote “maybe your side of the argument is that you don’t want to put up with an angry man?” (p. 152) That’s from those four pages!

        Then Gary writes,

        Women who marry abusive men often had abusive fathers and they’ve developed a lifelong portrait of themselves as victims. (p. 155)

        Gary, how do you know that? That’s pure speculation which is slamming the victims!

        Then Gary writes,

        Depending on the situation, temporary separation may be necessary to end domestic violence. You may not believe in divorce, but remember that not all separation ends in divorce; sometimes its a move toward healing. It allows both spouse to regroup, get their bearings, receive counsel and break destructive patterns before they come back together. (p. 153)

        Wow! Right there Gary sends the battered wife back to the abuser, in the four pages that he’s supposedly telling them to leave! There’s a lot he needs to learn including reading the book Why Does He Do That? [by Lundy Bancroft]

      • Those extra quotes you’ve given from Sacred Influence just confirm even more that Gary Thomas does need to learn a lot more about the dynamics of domestic abuse before being able to write wisely about it.

      • And for GT’s benefit, in case he is reading this and still doesn’t understand why those two things he wrote are unwise, let me spell it out.

        Women who marry abusive men often had abusive fathers and they’ve developed a lifelong portrait of themselves as victims. (p. 155)

        Firstly, he is asserting this as if it is a fact; but he cites no proper research studies.

        Secondly it pathologizes the woman — it’s her portrait of herself that is the problem that needs to be fixed.

        Gary needs to learn about all the notions and labels that are used to pathologize, blame, and discredit victims:

        Stockholm Syndrome
        infantalization
        internalized oppression: “Uncle Tom”, “Self-hating Jew,” “victim mentality”
        traumatic bonding, re-enactment
        enmeshment
        co-dependency
        repetition compulsion
        lateral violence (e.g., applied to violence by Indigenous peoples against one another and in women’s organizations)
        women choose, or unconsciously attract, abusive men
        battered women’s syndrome
        the “Cycle Theory of Violence”
        learned helplessness
        cognitive distortions (e.g., the world is an unsafe place)

        Now for the second quote Avid Reader just gave:

        Depending on the situation, temporary separation may be necessary to end domestic violence. You may not believe in divorce, but remember that not all separation ends in divorce; sometimes its a move toward healing. It allows both spouse to regroup, get their bearings, receive counsel and break destructive patterns before they come back together. (p. 153)

        Firstly, it recycles the myth that temporary separation is the way to end domestic abuse and during the temporary separation the abuser will learn from top notch counseling and will truly change. In the vast majority of cases we have heard about, that is not what happens. What typically happens in temporary separation is that the abuser masquerades repentance and makes a very superficial reformation, which is enough to convince the church, many counselors, and the victim’s friends and family that he really has changed. He also works hard at recruiting allies among all those people (not to mention the couple’s kids) and he manipulates his allies to pressure the victim into returning to the marriage. All this effectively isolates the victim and often she ends up reconciling … but the abuser is STILL not really safe because he hasn’t changed. All he has done is hone his skills of manipulation more, and been effective at regaining power and control over the victim. Gary mentions none of this. He fails to warn his readers about it. So his readers will naively follow his foolish advice and their suffering may be prolonged for years or decades more…

        And secondly, it yet again pathologizes the woman, telling her that she is wrong. And that she needs counseling to set her straight. It tells her that she is partly causing the problem because she is engaging in ‘destructive patterns that need to be broken’. So it mutualizes the blame. Mutualising the blame is another form of Victim Blaming.

    • A

      Lisa – thank you for posting to the blog. As an abuse survivor who has spent the last almost 8 years on the recovery process, one of my key thoughts about abuse is confusion. I knew basically nothing about domestic violence until after I left my abuser. The women in these situations don’t understand what is happening to them. They don’t consider themselves to be in a domestic violence situation, so terms used about DV will not resonate with them. Terms about physical violence may not apply to their individual situations. So, they aren’t looking for DV books, they are looking for marriage help books. The abuser has told her so many times that she is the problem in the marriage and she just wants something, anything to take the incredible pain and fear away. She doesn’t want to get divorced, she just wants him to stop hurting her.

      That is why many of us on the survivor end are so adamant about Christian leaders getting this right. In a DV situation getting it wrong can literally be the difference between life and death for some victims. As a survivor, I appreciate Gary making efforts to speak out for DV victims. However, to reach these women in a truly helpful way, making an effort isn’t good enough, the individual must know what tools and words will really be helpful and what will only be confusing or make things worse for the victim. That takes wisdom and discernment. The folks that have that wisdom and knowledge are out there. Please, please, please educate yourself on DV, encourage Gary and other Christian marriage leaders to educate themselves, and reach out to those individuals and resources that can provide the help you need to address this important issue in a way that will truly help the women in these marriages.

      • Thank you A, for this excellent explanation of why domestic abuse victims usually look for Marriage Help books rather than Domestic Violence books.

        It explains why authors of Marriage Help books need to educate themselves a whole lot more about domestic abuse in order to be able to write their Marriage Help books in ways that will not compound the problems of domestic abuse victims.

        And that education needs to come from people who really understand how to avoid all victim-blaming and victim-discrediting language.

        Authors and bloggers, if you are reading this and want to be educated, here’s another link for you:

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/11/23/how-miles-davis-misrepresented-his-assault-of-his-wife-frances-a-case-study-in-the-language-of-abusers/

    • KayE

      “Why I am telling you this? It is not to fuel jealousy or further your anger or sadness at what you have missed out on.”

      I would have been sympathetic to this commenter, except for that little piece of covert aggression towards survivors of abuse. Personally, I don’t appreciate being dismissed and condescended to like that. I’m not at all jealous or angry or sad about “missing out”. I speak out because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’ve been through, that’s all.

      • Yes, KayE, I picked up on that as well. The condescension. The assumption that we are probably jealous or angry or sad. And probably made in that way, right off the block at the start of the comment, to try to show that she was being ‘sympathetic to our plight’ (and sensitive to our ‘pathology’).

        If people like her are going to assume anything about us, why don’t they assume that we might be speaking out because we don’t want anyone else to go through what we’ve been through? Oh — I know why. They don’t assume that because that would require them seeing us as people who are not pathological, people who are mentally healthy, people who are empowered and confident and competent. And that’s not their image of survivors of abuse.

  38. KayE

    Most of the Christians who campaign so self righteously against divorce have made the assumption that abuse is only a rare cause for divorce. That’s why they think it’s acceptable to make the safety and very lives of abuse victims an afterthought. But abuse is not rare. It should be the first consideration, not the last.

    • Anewanon

      > But abuse is not rare. It should be the first consideration, not the last. <

      Indeed. Even Gen 3:16 spells it out pretty clearly. There’s nothing new under the sun for the unregenerate/fallen man.

    • I second what KayE said!

    • Hope

      Thank you, I agree, abuse is NOT rare! I grew up with an abusive father, one sister is herself an abuser – from the cradle! I married an abuser not knowing what it was and being deceived by him. It isn’t rare at all, it’s common – but well hidden, especially since we victims are often not initially aware of what it is that we are living under.

      Unless a supposed expert understands this, and understands the nuances of abuse, he has no business writing anything about marriage that is meant to cover all marriage situations! The very least that could be done is to write a disclaimer in the very beginning of a book stating that this particular book is NOT for abusive and destructive marriages. That was not mentioned, so I assume it was not done. Shame on Gary!

  39. XianJaneway

    I’m in awe, absolute awe, of Barbara’s ability to see through the “fancy footwork” and manipulation of words here. There’s such an utter lack of empathy from Thomas, & yet such a desire to *appear* empathetic…gah. Barbara, I’m so glad that you speak out on behalf of the voiceless.

  40. bright sunshinin' day

    Excellent point, A:

    If he [Gary] really understood he would find some editors who truly know how the mind of a DV victim functions and have them critique his writing. Barbara Roberts comes to mind as a good reviewer 😊

  41. Megan

    I really want to write a counter book to this horrid book: “Sacred Pepperspray: What an abusive man *really* needs from his wife (just before she leaves him).”

    • Lea

      >Sacred Pepperspray

      Bwah!

    • Onlymyopinion

      I’m sorry but nearly spit my drink out on my monitor! Too funny!

  42. Hope

    I have news for Gary Thomas, what a man REALLY needs from a wife is truth, honesty, trustworthiness, patience, thoughtfulness, unselfishness… need I go on? Whenever I see the word “need” on a piece of writing I read cautiously because most of those are total garbage. Some, by very excellent, and often Christian, writers, are spot-on.

    I have four Christian longtime male friends that are not even remotely like the men described in this book review. If not for those faithful friends, I could so easily have fallen off the knife-edge of truth and become a man-hater – but I am not because these are my examples of what a genuine, Godly man looks like. Each different, each wonderful.
    Who then, exactly, is he talking about? All men are NOT thoughtless, heartless, animalistic brutes that are only concerned with their own self-centered desires at any given moment. Some are, to be sure, but far from all.

    Since this book, supposedly written for all marriages, only encompasses a fraction of them, and inaccurately even so, it should, for accuracy’s sake, be titled What an Uncouth Brute WANTS from Women.

    But of course, who would read that?

  43. Gothard Survivor

    It seems that most Christian marriage books are written for a limited number of couples who are going through a “dry spell” or “hard” time and are tempted to just be totally selfish–and who are willing to read a book and change. Instead, the reading audience includes many, many abused spouses who are desperately searching for help. (I read somewhere that one in four people in church have been/are/or will be in an abusive marriage. Not sure if these numbers are accurate.)

    I read TONS of these books. One title my husband still repeats to me: When Two Sinners Say I Do. He adds, we are both sinners. What do you expect?

  44. NG

    In most churches and Christian settings, it has long been recognized that a woman cannot save a man from drinking / drugs, and she should not try to fix someone from addictions. (of course, exceptions do exist… someone always wins the lottery. A woman I know married a then-alcoholic, saw him fall into drinking in the early years of their marriage, and went through deep waters… they’re happy now, but not what i would ever advise anyone to follow as an example)

    Whta is it then, that when it comes to emotional issues, women are supposed to have superhuman powers, and have this herculean task of ‘taming the beast aka angry man’? Why is it so hard to see that the same truth applies as with substance abuse: we cannot save anyone against their will? The Scripture is clear that ‘Woman, are you sure you can save your husband’ (and vice versa)…(1 Cor 7:16)

  45. Gothard Survivor

    Barbara, has A Cry for Justice ever addressed the verses in 1Corinthians that say a husband may be saved by his faithful wife? My searches here haven’t come up with anything.

  46. Annie

    If God granted (or gave) divorce for certain circumstances, then how about the idea that divorce is a gift to be gratefully received rather than an option to be detested?

    • Hope

      I never thought of it like that, thank you for the change of mind!

    • A

      Love this! I look at it this way. God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments in Exodus and then goes to great trouble in Leviticus to tell them what to do when those get violated. God knew they couldn’t keep the commandments perfectly. God created marriage, but also clearly allows for divorce too. He knew stuff would happen where marriages would end and made allowances for that. So, why do all these so called religious leaders call for no divorce under any circumstances? God certainly doesn’t call for that.

  47. StandsWithAFist

    “I am the Lord your God, he who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery. -Deuteronomy 5:6
    “I, the Lord , am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. -Exodus 20:2

    I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from being their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and caused you to walk upright. -Leviticus 26:13

    It seems pretty clear that God desires to bring us out of bondage & into freedom. The very idea of “freedom” can be traced directly to God Himself.

    Most of these verses are followed by “have no other gods before Me”, and that includes idolatry.

    It seems to me that Gary has created an idol out of marriage. Gary serves this idol well, and markets it well and defends his idol. Dare I say, like King Uzziah, Gary has become a law unto himself.

    And when he tries to elicit sympathy by how hard he works and speaks and writes, it reminds me of the pity-party described so well by Martha Stout in The Sociopath Next Door : “even the devil himself would have us feel quite sorry for him.”

  48. Karen

    Sacred Influence? Providing the woman is still living to be any sort of influence at all. I am personally grieved at such willful ignorance on the part of this author, and would never recommend his penned writings to any victim/target of domestic violence to help them in their healing process.

    Thank-you Avid Reader for the book review. I appreciate your time and effort in bringing to light how apostate Christianity destroys the souls of many a sheep.

  49. Notlongnow

    I wanted to come back and make another comment to say that since this post was published, I remembered that my husband and I read Sacred Marriage together during our seperation over the phone.

    He had brought the book up to read. I was elated he actually wanted to read a marriage book!

    In it I learnt that marriage is not to make us happy but holy. This made perfect sense with all the abusive treatment my husband had put and was putting me through. I now no longer had any reasons to get out of the marriage- it was my personal purifier.

    I ended up taking him back, and have endured more years of abuse.

    Now I’m not saying it was all that books fault. But this post made me remember that book and I am considering what effect it had on me and how much influence it played in me returning to an abusive marriage.

    Also, I just wanted to say that for what it is worth, that although I have not read Sacred Influence, I do trust Avid Readers review, and have read Sacred Marriage.

    Just because I do not personally know Gary Thomas, he has written prolifically and as the bible says, out of the heart the mouth speaketh. I think there is ample evidence for people to make their judgments either way, we do not need to socially know someone on a personal level. This is about what is written in the books. I guess I take offence at saying we are not essentially allowed to have an opinion because ‘we do not know him’ because one of my abusers allies said the same to me when I confronted them on their supporting him. I think the ‘you do not know me or them’ argument is a cop out when God says we can clearly know someone by their fruits.

  50. I’ve had another insight into a fundamental problem in Gary Thomas’s thinking.

    Gary said in reply to Elizabeth [link]

    the pursuit of holiness has nothing to do with abusing or staying in an abusive relationship.

    This suggests to me that Gary is not aware of how Christian victims of spousal abuse tend to stay longer in the marriage than non-Christian victims of spousal abuse. (If I search hard, I can find the link to the research article about this statistic. I believe I referenced the research in my book.) And we know the reasons for that from all the testimonies of readers at this blog.

    Christian victims stay longer because they are trying to follow what the Bible says, and they have been told that the Bible says “Submit; be longsuffering; be a better wife; give your spouse unconditional love; just pray more; you must need more faith; God hates divorce; it would be sinful for you to leave/divorce your spouse, after all, he hasn’t committed adultery; we’re all sinners so your job is examine yourself for your own sins and repent of them; it’s a sin to gossip so you shouldn’t be telling others about this; marriage is to make us holy, not happy.” (The list of ways Christian victims get wrongly admonished and counselled could go on and on…)

    So the Christian who is suffering spousal abuse is going to strive very hard to be more holy. She (or sometimes he) wants so much to handle the situation in a godly manner. Obeying God and doing things God’s way is more important to her than her own suffering and difficulties. So she strives to be holy. And because she’s been given all this unbalanced counsel about what being holy means, and the counsel is dangerous for domestic abuse scenarios, she is in double jeopardy, triple or quadruple jeopardy…

    So Gary Thomas, you need to understand that the pursuit of holiness has a great deal to do with staying in an abusive relationship.

    And likewise, the pursuit of holiness has a great deal to do with being abusive to one’s family. Let me tell you how.

    Abusers often claim to be Christians, they masquerade and pass themselves off as godly men who are pillars of the church. The ‘c’hristian abuser tell his wife that he is treating her the way he is treating her because he is pursuing holiness: he is disciplining her for her own good, he is her head and he has the authority to tell her what and what not to do, and God has made this the order of marriage from creation so she’d better comply. He says he is more holy than she is: she is the bad one, she is the one who needs to repent, she is the abuser… and he can set her straight. Doesn’t she want to be more holy? And why is she complaining about his conduct anyway? Doesn’t she know that marriage is about pursuing holiness not happiness?

  51. Curly

    Victim blaming at its finest.

  52. ruth

    Thank you Avid Reader! And thank you Barb for taking up the fight were avid reader left off! It’s funny how you little folks in the trenches wield the sharper sword then the big names. Too bad you don’t have his audience size considering the damage he’s doing to the ladies who were reading his garbage.

  53. RomansEightOne

    From the book ‘The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse’ chapter 9:

    In some areas of life, many areas perhaps, those in the pews will have more real authority from having tested and lived out God’s Word in situations God will never choose to lead the pastor through. If HE is the Shepherd of the flock, then I as a pastor must listen to what He is saying through the flock, remembering that I too am a follower of Him.

  54. I just re-visited Gary Thomas’s post Enough is Enough, and found this comment from Jane. Jane wrote:

    This post makes me feel a bit ill, too. Everything you say is true Gary, but where does that leave those of us who are stuck with abusive men and dependent on their income? It’s true that women’s shelters can often help an abused woman to stand on her own two feet, but in my case my health is worn down after so many years of intense stress, so that I cannot possibly hold down a job. Nor do I think I could even handle the stress of divorce. I am a mere shadow of what I once was, and I don’t seem to have the strength to defend myself.

    My husband, for his part, believes he is a wonderful husband, that he has given me a wonderful life, and that I am sick only due to weakness or a desire to complain. He scoffs at the idea that I have ever suffered stress. My health is very poor now and I am very sensitive to chemicals and smells, and yet my husband continues to choose to smoke in the house, and I although I beg him to smoke outside he continues to smoke in the house, and I do nothing, because what am I supposed to do exactly? He does what he wants, what I want doesn’t matter, has never mattered. He knows I have no power here. It’s horrible to know that deep down, your husband truly doesn’t care about you, he only cares about his own pleasure and comfort.

    And below Jane’s comment, this was Gary Thomas’s reply:

    Jane, this is such a sad tale and I know many will join me in praying that God will bring rescue. The reality, however, is that a blog post simply can’t address individual situations. I’m raising general issues, but we need to go to godly, trusted counselors to work out the particulars and find the right applications. It’ll take some long conversations; perhaps your husband will finally repent when it’s brought out into the open and there’s an objective third party. If not, there will be other long conversations about your proper biblical response. But I would dishonor you and your situation if I pretended that I could “solve” this with a few “words of wisdom.” I’m truly sorry. You need much more than a blogger–you need to find a true advocate who can walk through this with you.

    Gary didn’t seem to give much credit to Jane’s words. Jane said that she has begged her husband to smoke outside but he continues to smoke in the house knowing that the smoke aggravates her very poor health. Why would this husband finally repent when his appalling conduct is brought out into the open and there’s an objective third party? The husband constantly discounts what his wife says, and he lies about her to others. Why wouldn’t he lie about her to the counselor? And by using the word ‘objective’ about the third party, doesn’t Gary see that Jane will probably hear him inferring that she, Jane, is NOT objective about the situation?

    Gary’s advice to Jane leaves a lot to be desired, in my view.

  55. I have just now saved Enough Is Enough on the webarchive (also known as the Wayback Machine).

    The link for it on the Wayback Machine is http://web.archive.org/web/20170226100506/http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/

    The Wayback Machine can’t be scrubbed. It provides people-power in cyberspace.

    • Hope

      Thank you for saving this, I have now read it – and thank you for the warnings here as well!

      Much of what Gary says on this blog sounds pretty good, except…

      I am not always as discerning as I would like to be, and often things just sound a bit off-base to me, so here’s what I have learned, after many years in school: If any part of an answer is not true, then none of it is true. If only one part of a 100-part answer is false, It Is All False. One lie negates all of the preceding and following truths. Why? Because it is the entire answer that is at stake; it is all or nothing, right or wrong, true or false.

      If some of what Gary says contradicts other parts, if some of what he says just seems a little “off” but you can’t quite put your finger on it, then it is not truth, and it is not right. Run from it.

  56. KayE

    In my view almost all “Christian” books on marriage are the spiritual equivalent of snake oil. Quite apart from abuse situations, I’m sceptical they would even do anything for normal marriages. Their advice is almost never based on objective research and to an outsider it all just looks ridiculous. When two well intentioned people are married they are going to try and work it out, some succeed and some don’t. But I’m genuinely not convinced that these Christian books are any more effective than all the remedies offered by other belief systems. Or nothing at all.

    • Jeff Crippen

      KayE – You are absolutely correct about snake oil books. I have concluded the same thing. They teach and perpetuate false, unbiblical ideas that either don’t work at all in real life or that actually cause havoc in lives. Increasingly I am thinking the same thing about most all marriage “counseling.”

      The Bible says that ALL true Christians are taught by the Spirit of Christ to love one another. We are new creations, indwelt and led by the Spirit so that in the fundamentals of living out Christ, “we have no need for anyone to teach us.” The Apostle John says those very words. Therefore, if two Christians get married, or really are in some other type of relationship like co-workers or friends, they have all that is necessary to work through issues and to love one another. The Scriptures tell us how and the Spirit enables us to see and do. Therefore, in all these “troubled” marriages as so many of these charlatan books call them, how is it that a supposedly Christian husband and wife can’t get it together? In other words, what I am saying is if it takes counseling and counseling and counseling and books and books and books to fix things (and most always nothing is fixed), SOMEONE is not a Christian in that relationship.

      And that is the elephant in the room that most of these “eminent” authors and authorities don’t want to touch. After all, if the Wonderful Counselor is all we need, they would be out of business.

      • Spot on, Jeff!

        If the Wonderful Counselor is all we need to help us and if both spouses are indwelt by the Spirit of the Wonderful Counselor, then the Wonderful Counselor is all a husband and wife need to solve their marriage problems. And the ‘c’hristian counselors and Marriage-Help authors would be out of business.

      • M&M

        I can believe that a lot of books and counselors are wrong, but I can’t believe all are wrong because I know couples who benefited from counseling. Of course it only helped when both parties were interested, but it helped in that context.

      • Moving Forward

        I have thought this for a long time, and am amazed that, for the first time ever, I’ve read that others have the same opinion!

        My unwillingness to go to any type of counseling has been used against me by my ex for years. I just knew it wouldn’t help, and I know from experience that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit can be all I need to help me as an individual from when I was in the worst of the fog, and would have helped my marriage if my spouse had actually been a Christian and been able to receive the word of the Holy Spirit though the Bible.

        Instead, he took my desire to use the study of God’s Word to help us, to bash it over my head in spiritual abuse, as well as the books talked about on this blog. I felt he used both as a baseball bat which hurt me emotionally as much or more than if he had actually beaten me with one.

      • Good for you in paying attention to your gut feelings, Moving Forward! 🙂

      • Many years

        Thank you, Jeff, so very much for saying ‘SOMEONE is not a Christian in that relationship.’

        This is what I have found to be true in my own marriage with my spouse. Head knowledge of the scriptures has never saved anyone, it has to be belief in the heart, and it shows in the actions and words, as there is a ‘void’ in the heart of the unsaved spouse trying to ‘relate’ to what you are talking about as a believer! They can’t ‘get it’, they will never ‘get it’ until Christ enters into their very being. They can talk ‘church’ doctrine, but there is no evidence of salvation. Therefore, they cannot change, and if they try to, it will only be a temporary, outward change not an inward change of the heart, and it will be for themselves, and not for Christ, as they don’t even KNOW Jesus!

        They can ‘ask’ for forgiveness from you, when you try to face them with the abuse they use against you, but they have no clue about repentance. Or they can ‘act’ sorry, but their actions speak louder than their words. They only feel ‘sorry’ for themselves because their ‘act’ has been revealed. They don’t ‘feel’ sorry for you, as they cannot relate to your feelings. They are void of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and this is the surefire way to tell if they are truly a believer or not.

        Even when the believing spouse has lived a genuine life in Christ in front of their unbelieving spouse, it won’t make a bit of difference to the unsaved spouse, as they won’t even know what they have been beholding in your life as a Christian, as they CANNOT understand the things of God. They can’t see Christ in us, as they can’t even SEE HIM! This is the quandary with being the believer in a marriage such as this, no matter how much you would like to have the ‘God’ connection with them, you can’t, because they don’t even know what it is.

        Until the unbelieving spouse is truly saved, there will never be any real, consistent change, as they won’t see a need to change in the first place, as they don’t see themselves as a sinner, so why change? They don’t see a need to repent, as they really can’t, as only Christ can transform the sinner who sees his or her NEED to truly repent and accept Christ as their Savior. This is the dilemma of the spouse who is the believer, in attempting to ‘change’ the leopard’s spots in their spouse, when only Jesus can work that miracle in a non-believer’s heart. Otherwise, it will always be smoke and mirrors, and never reality This is where Gary Thomas has missed the boat!

      • Thanks Many Years. Please when you submit comments can you put in paragraph breaks and make them two-line breaks (hit ‘enter’ twice on your keyboard).

        That helps us a lot as moderators. It saves us time.

  57. The Wartburg Watch (TWW) wrote a blog post Gary Thomas Says ‘Enough Is Enough’ on Spousal Abuse on Dec 7, 2016. TWW’s post mentioned Elizabeth’s feedback to Gary, Gary’s reply to Elizabeth, and Jill’s feedback to Gary — Elizabeth’s and Jill’s feedback are some of the many items that have been scrubbed from GT’s site since we (ACFJ) published this post.

    Jeff S, a male survivor of domestic abuse who has written posts on ACFJ, wrote on that TWW thread:

    Oh man, so in my small group we are doing a video series based on Thomas’s Sacred Marriage book. There is so much wrong with it.

    In the video, he talks about a woman who came to him to talk about a “difficult marriage” and he cuts her off, saying “difficult marriage is redundant”. This makes me SO ANGRY. In his retelling of this story, he doesn’t wait for her to expound, and he doesn’t seem to understand that for many, “difficult marriage” is code for “abuse”, or at the very least an awakening stage that something is not OK. Instead, he just writes off her words and explains her situation away as “typical”.

    And then he proceeds to talk about Abraham Lincoln and his wife who he goes through great pains to demonstrate as an awful women, and then talks about how God CHOSE this spouse to grieve Lincoln to make him great an be an amazing president. What conclusions is he expecting abuse victims to draw when he speaks positively about a wife coming into her husband’s meetings and throwing a glass of water on him?

    So yeah, churches may be abusing this teaching, but can you blame them? Is it so crazy to think after hearing such things that an abused spouse should “suck it up and be holy”? And how many people won’t realize they are in an abusive marriage because they are so focused on being holy, they don’t acknowledge their real pain and suffering? I know, cause I was there.

    I do believe he is fed up with abuse, but he also doesn’t see how he has very much been a contributor. Stuff like “difficult marriage is redundant” is a lie that plagues the Christian world. When we did the questions after the video, our group leaders actually told my wife and I we should talk about our current marriages, not our previous ones. We said “Our current marriage isn’t difficult- if we are talking about growth because of a difficult spouse, that was what happened before. This marriage is awesome!”

    Also, the whole notion of “God wants you to be holy, not happy” is not only a recipe for abusers to have their way, it’s also easily unbiblical. Marriage was given pre-fall, so its primary purpose CAN’T be making people holy (because they already were).

    Later in that thread at TWW, Jeff S reported that he had submitted a fairly critical comment on Gary’s blog site but it was not published.

    Jeff S kept a screen shot of his comment which never saw the light of day on Gary’s blog. Here is the image:

    And if that image is too small to read, here is what Jeff S tried to say at Gary Thomas’s site:

    Gary Thomas, I believe you are genuinely sickened by what abuse victims endure, and I appreciate that. However, in my small group we are going through a video series by you based on your Sacred Marriage book, and I can tell you many of the things you teach in that book can contribute to abusive environments.

    In the video, you say “difficult marriage is redundant”, and in recounting the story about a woman telling you she was in a difficult marriage, you cut her off to say this. It seems you do not understand that “difficult marriage” is often either code for abuse, or it is the awakening stages of a victim beginning to understand that his/her marriage is not OK and something is wrong. At the very least, such a statement must NOT be written off as “you’ve told me nothing”; it needs to be investigated and understood.

    And not all marriages are difficult. I am remarried now, and my marriage is far from difficult. My previous marriage was “difficult”. Being a single parent was “difficult”. My current marriage is empowering, live giving, and full of grace.

    In the video you talk about Abraham Lincoln and you go through great pains to paint his wife as a very hard woman. You describe behaviors like her walking into a meeting and throwing a glass of water at him. And then, you state clearly that God gave Lincoln this women for his betterment. How do you expect abuse victims to hear this? How are they NOT to think this is for them?

    You say that churches are misusing your materials, but it’s a pretty natural conclusion when you use an example of a woman putting her husband through a lifetime of hell for his betterment, that abuse victims should seek “holiness” (sticking it out and enduring) over “happiness”.

    These ideas were used very destructively in my life. I desensitized myself to any pain I was feeling in order to seek holiness. It wasn’t even your materials my churches used, but the ideas are very familiar. And now I’m watching the video and I know exactly how an abuse victim would react, and also what the community trying to support that victim with do with it. And it’s not in a way consistent with your rant here. It’s not what you want.

    But these are your words and your teachings, still being used today, and they are hurting people.

    Jeff S tried twice to submit his comment at GT’s blog and each time it was not published. I’m giving GT and his moderators the benefit of the doubt: probably Jeff S was submitting his comment during the period that Gary’s blog was crashed due to the high traffic it was getting from “Enough Is Enough” — so probably the moderators never even saw Jeff S’s comment.

  58. We have been combing our site for other places where people mentioned Gary Thomas.

    We found this comment by Greater Glory which I have copied and pasted here, to confirm to our readers that they would be well advised to avoid anything Gary Thomas has written.

    Greater Glory said:

    Damage control needed, please! Dear Lord…… Gary Thomas’s post “Why Men Don’t Change” [Eds TRIGGER WARNING, we do NOT encourage readers to read that link, unless they want to use it as a case study of what NOT to say to victims of abuse] —

    Thanks to your teachings on “Crying Out For Justice” the triggers from Gary Thomas’s post were not lethal to me at this point in my life, but to some others who might come across this post…ugh.

    • Lea

      Wow, that post=Your husband doesn’t care about you or your girl feelings and he never will. It’s ok, it’s just his ‘sin nature’??? What??? No.

    • Lea

      From Gary Thomas: “More than simply praying for a change in the way your husband treats you, pray for a change in his heart toward God. In the end, that’s the most effective way for him to change the way he treats you and looks at you.”

      Because God couldn’t figure out that you wanted your husbands heart to change? What kind of nonsense is this?

  59. In combing our site for comments which mentioned Gary Thomas, we also found a comment by MeganC, written 21 July 2014 on our Hall of Blind Guides page. Megan wrote:

    … Gary Thomas was pretty horrified that his book [ Sacred Marriage ] was used by abusers. I wrote him and told him that many used his premise (“What if marriage was not intended for our happiness but was intended for our sanctification?”) over and over, in my former marriage, to keep me IN. He told me that I was not the first person to tell him that.

    FACT: Gary Thomas published his blog post “God Hates Domestic Violence” in January 2014

    FACT: Gary Thomas told MeganC in July 2014 that she was not the first person to tell him that his book Sacred Marriage had been used to keep them in a marriage where their spouse was abusive.

    FACT: Gary Thomas only published his blog post “Enough Is Enough” in November 2016 — two years after his post “God hates Domestic Violence”. And all that time, Gary has known — because victims of abuse have been telling him — that his book Sacred Marriage was used to pressure them to stay with an abusive spouse.

    I think the fact speak for themselves. The profound negligence Gary Thomas has been showing towards victims of domestic abuse is mind boggling.

    And for him to protest, “I never meant Sacred Marriage to be used to keep victims of abuse in destructive relationships” — well, it may give some victim/survivors a little sense of vindication, it might lead to them to feeling a little bit more healed from all their trauma…

    …but really, IS IT ENOUGH? No. Not when Sacred Marriage and his other problematic writings and videos are still available for sale.

  60. Many years

    Oh! My! All I had to do was scan over just a few sentences and I felt like my heart had been deeply wounded by what Gary Thomas was saying. This is not a book from the Love which Jesus sheds abroad in our hearts. To the contrary! It is very much like a book Malignant Narcissism by Sam Vaknin as he is actually a narcissist himself! [Eds– it is public knowledge that Vaknin is psychopath and he admits it himself. He has been diagnosed as a pschyopath by an experienced psychiatrist.] Vaknin was leading many innocent ‘victims’ of malignant narcissistic abuse into much confusion. Be forewarned NOT to read Vaknin’s book or any of his online material!

    Someone on another Christian counseling blog posted to read both Romans 12 and 13 together for the truth on applying God’s counsel to abusive situations. What Gary Thomas says is what the world in general has been teaching and ‘bad mouthing’ women for centuries, just because ‘we’ are women. His book is worse than reading ‘Mars and Venus’ which is another ‘cop-out’ for the male and female genders, especially when abuse of any type just doesn’t “fit the profile” in that book, when we are talking about all forms of abuse in a so-called Christian marriage. My husband actually read that book, and he became very ‘romantic’ for a while, but it wasn’t romance I needed, it was the respect I needed as a woman which was just not there.

  61. standsfortruth

    My ex abuser used the Mars and Venus book as an excuse to justify his abusive words and behavior.
    Why he *just could not understand* how his treatment was affecting me negatively . Baloney. He knew full well how it was affecting me.
    These types of books that encourage victims to overlook cruel and abusive treatment are just more tools of bondage.

    • Anewanon

      Indeed, most marriage books – if not all – can be used that way: 5 Love :anguages, Love and Respect, blah blah blah. The books are meant for each person to read and figure out what they can each do better FOR the other. If one member of the marriage doesn’t want to do this, then no book is gonna help. No counselor is gonna help. It all comes down to the hearts of the two people in the relationship. Sometimes God can use a person to help the other, but even on those occasions, it’s up to God and his timing.

      If the husband really isn’t interested in growth or self development, there really isn’t anything the wife can do to change that – except pray – whether she chooses to do that inside or outside the marriage. And even then, sometimes the best thing she can do is “let him go” to unto his own devices.

      Jer 14 & 15 were VERY powerful in my journey wherein God said to stop praying for the stiff necked and to let them go. Jeremiah 15 reads that, even if Moses (who DID pray a lot to intercede for his stiffnecked Israelites) were to pray for them, God would not save them…

      Powerful stuff. If Moses can’t even save them or stop them, no amount of book reading will either. Hearts are hardened and need God Almighty to replace that heart of stone with a heart of flesh. I still struggle, much like Lot’s wife … Because I believed that at one point that man was saved. We wives have such a “desire” placed in us by God himself for these fallen men, don’t we? It’s hard to move on.

      Jesus, show us how to follow YOU as our head and source of living water. Amen.

  62. Avid Reader

    Gary Thomas has replied to my review on Amazon. I’m going to post his full comment below, then I’ll post my reply in the next comment.

    Gary Thomas wrote on my Amazon review:

    Avid Reader has also written one-star attack reviews of Tim Keller, Gary Chapman, Emerson Eggerich, Nancy DeMoss and others. She wrote this one in collaboration with Barbara Roberts who became angry with me after I wrote a blog post entitled “Enough is Enough” that asked the church to stop enabling abusive men and to stand up for abused women. Because I didn’t mention Barbara’s book or her blog and because I wouldn’t promise to read her book (I have stacks of books in the to-read file) she and a few colleagues in her organization have set about to attack my earlier books. They even tweet people who praise my books with links to this review, intent on undermining my credibility. They have, in fact, waged war against my writings. The irony, of course, is that if I had never spoken out against the church encouraging women to stay in abusive marriages, this organization–set up allegedly to confront abuse–would have continued to leave me and my books alone. But my blog post confronting marital abuse went viral (over 90K shares) and for reasons only they could understand, I became a target.

    Sacred Influence was not written for women in abusive marriages. I state outright that I am not telling abused women to stay in the marriage. I have a four-page section urging abused women not to spiritualize domestic violence and urging them to seek help, quoting experts who have worked with women to make sure the exit is as safe as possible. I have written numerous blog posts denouncing domestic violence and urging the church to stand up against it. The appendix in my book “A Lifelong Love” is entitled “God Hates Domestic Violence.” I don’t know what more I could have done to confront the occasional misuse of books I have written. When I state that God can use difficult marriages to help us grow I am not saying we should stay in violent marriages. A “difficult” marriage does not equate to an abusive marriage.

    This review takes comments out of context and twists meaning beyond reason. To say a husband never has legitimate anger, for instance, is to insinuate a man is a robot. Tens of thousands of women have benefitted from this book, so I hope you don’t allow the aggrieved pride of one particular organization to keep you from a work that so many have found helpful.

    Having said all this, Sacred Influence was not written for abused women. If your marriage is abusive there are other books that would better address your situation. This book is written for marriages that can be enriched; it is not meant for marriages from which you need to be saved.

    • And here is my reply to Gary Thomas’s comment on Avid Reader’s Amazon review. [Permalink for my reply where appears on Amazon]

      Gary Thomas (GLT) claims here in his comment that “Sacred Influence was not written for abused women.”

      Let’s see if his claim can be backed up with evidence, or whether it is contradicted by evidence.

      In his introduction to “Sacred Influence,” Gary wrote about the kind of readership he was writing for: “women who suffer in loveless marriages… women who feel trapped in difficult marriages” and he mentioned a woman whose husband is ‘uninvolved at home,” or has some “bad habits, like looking at pornography or losing his temper” (pp 13-14).

      All that wording of Gary’s would encourage abused women to keep reading “Sacred Influence” thinking it was for them! Gary did not mention the term domestic abuse ONCE in his introductory chapter, let alone give a robust definition of the term, let alone give a clear warning to victims of domestic abuse to tell them “This book is not for you.”

      An abused woman (until she has come a long way out of the fog) will typically think, “My marriage is difficult,” and she will almost NEVER think, “My marriage is abusive. My husband is abusive.” Many many abused women I know are reluctant to call themselves ‘abused women’ even months and years after leaving their abuser.

      And many abused women hear the terms ‘difficult marriage’ and ‘destructive marriage’ as meaning the same thing — they don’t hear any difference; they are equally able to identify with “My marriage is difficult” and “My marriage is destructive.” *

      But Gary, in his persistently wilful ignorance of all these facts, keeps insisting that “Sacred Influence” wasn’t written for abused women and he keeps resisting taking full responsibility for the fact that many abused women DO read “Sacred Influence” because they think it will help their difficult marriage. And many people in the church urge women who are being abused to read and follow the advice in “Sacred Influence” (and the advice in “Sacred Marriage” too).

      I say ‘wilful ignorance’ in the above paragraph because myself and other survivors of domestic abuse have informed Gary at his blog and by email and also in this comments thread here on Amazon (if Gary had taken the time to read it) …we have repeatedly informed Gary that abused women DO read “Sacred Influence” thinking it will help them. And Gary seems to keep ignoring or discounting what we are telling him. And Gary’s making a small remark here or there in cyberspace is not enough of a caveat to inform abused women that “Sacred Influence” is not for them!

      *Note: Leslie Vernick, several years after Gary’s “Sacred Influence” was published, attempted to make a distinction between ‘difficult’ and ‘destructive’ marriages. Not all of us victim-survivors and victim-advocates are convinced that Leslie’s distinction is very helpful. In my view, it seems to be another example of authorial reluctance to call a spade a spade — to call it ABUSE.

      • KayE

        People like Gary Thomas have done enormous harm with all their sugary books on marriage. They do encourage widespread false thinking amongst Christians, the thinking which supports and excuses abusers yet blames and oppresses victims. He is one of the people responsible for this. He himself is responsible for the way that victims are minimised and guilted and disempowered. I don’t care if he is a megachurch pastor with lots of followers. If he isn’t prepared to listen to the people who are experts, and yet still presents himself as bolding speaking out about abuse, then he is a hypocrite.

      • I agree with everything you said, KayE.

        Gary Thomas is one of the people this post could be applied to. There are many others. Here is an incomplete list of notable and authors that the post might be applied to — and please note that the application might be more heavy to some on this list than others:–

        John Piper, Voddie Baucham and all his fans/defenders, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth, Nancy Kassian, Holly Eliff, Jim Eliff, Ken Sande (Peacemakers), Juana Mickels, Emmerson Eggerichs, Gary Chapman, Martha Peace, Beth Moore, Moody Bible Institute, Tim and Kathy Keller, Neil Anderson, Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF), Dallas Theological Seminary, David Benner, Henry Townsend, John Bevere, June Hunt, Paul E Miller, Alex and Stephen Kendrick (The Love Dare), Glenda Hotton, Stormie Omartian, William F Harley (His Needs, Her Needs), Debi Pryde.

        I got all those names by scanning the posts we have under our Bad Books tab. We currently have 31 posts tagged Bad Books.

    • Lea

      Gary Thomas: A “difficult” marriage does not equate to an abusive marriage.

      He said this on his blog too. I do not agree with this. (Especially considering he specifically does mention violence in his book, apparently).

      A difficult marriage is any marriage that is difficult. You cannot just separate that from abuse in your head and think that makes it all good.

      He also sounds quite irritated and anytime anyone going to the ‘attack reviews’ place they are NOT LISTENING. [Gary Thomas wrote:]

      Avid Reader has also written one-star attack reviews of Tim Keller, Gary Chapman, Emerson Eggerich, Nancy DeMoss and others.

      I saw the same reaction to people who criticized him on his blog because his book was used for abuse. He just waved it off, really. I don’t think that’s taking responsibility for what he wrote. He should be sorry that people used his book for abuse. Heartbroken! I would be.

      • CeeKay

        Exactly this. Gary Thomas continues to project a spirit lacking in humility; an unteachable heart is how he consistently comes across in these conversations. He deflects, he minimizes, he rationalizes, he justifies. The perception I come away with time and time again is that he is stiff-necked. Where is his Godly sorrow??

        Like so many in Christendom, it seems only to matter to him that he “meant no harm,” not that he actually *did* harm. And such a person is not to be trusted to truly have God’s heart for the abused.

  63. Avid Reader

    Here’s my reply (and here is the Permalink for Avid Reader’s response to Amazon to Gary.)

    Mr. Gary Thomas,

    Thank you for replying to my review.

    The Bible describes how God spoke to Balaam through his donkey and God sent a small child to correct Eli the High Priest so please don’t be so quick to dismiss me. I’m a nobody but God loves using nobodies because we have nothing to lose.

    Now the purpose of an Amazon review is for people who have bought and read your book to share their honest opinion. That’s exactly what I did. This review is only about your book not about anyone else’s book.

    The whole reason I wrote this review is because you asked for it. You wrote on your blog that if there was anything in your books that supported or condoned abuse, you wanted to know about it so that you could fix it immediately.

    That inspired me to write this review especially since you also said you were in the process of rewriting Sacred Influence. If you really meant what you said, are you going to fix these passages? Why are you denying how hurtful your words are in this book? Plus why on Earth would you praise mistresses while slamming wives in this book?

    God Almighty has commanded us to test all things. (1Cor 5:21 & 1John 4:1)

    Gary, why do you sound so upset that we are trying to be like the Bereans who checked everything they heard according to the Bible?

    The most disturbing thing is that in your response you still can’t see the problems in this book. Why can’t you see the double standard where you are making excuses for the willful sin of one spouse while blaming the other spouse for everything?

    Gary, imagine for a moment if this book was written to husbands instead of wives. Read through this whole book in reverse, then you’ll see what’s wrong with it because the truth is that men would never allow someone to treat them the way that you treat women in this book.

    That’s the double standard in this book— one spouse’s sin is excused and coddled while you shift the whole burden of responsibility to the other spouse. Plus, you won’t allow women to feel angry or disrespected even while you’re blaming them for someone else’s willful sin.

    Gary, I’m surprised that you’re still avoiding taking responsibility for your own words. There’s a lot of ways that you can provide for your family WITHOUT teaching on marriage. But by entering the ministry, you’ve entered a higher level of responsibility. God isn’t going to accept all the excuses that you keep making. You have a responsibility to change the words you wrote that coddle willful sin while telling women that Jesus will reward them for submitting to someone else’s willful sin.

    Gary you are welcome to disagree with my review but which books I choose to read and review is NOT your decision to make.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you again Avid Reader for another great response to an abusive writer. This part…

      The most disturbing thing is that in your response you still can’t see the problems in this book. Why can’t you see the double standard where you are making excuses for the willful sin of one spouse while blaming the other spouse for everything?

      Why CAN’T he see? This bible verse where Jesus is speaking came to mind…

      “Why is my language not clear to you?
      Because you are unable to hear what I say.” John 8:44

      As so many of us here realize, once we start asking questions and disagreeing with the status quo by searching scripture and standing firm in God’s word, He reveals the hearts of others to us, as well as our own. Thank you, thank you!

      • Anonymous

        John 8:43 is the bible verse quoted above….John 8:44 goes on to say, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

  64. Len Gane

    I’m getting ready to listen to all 7 minutes and 8 seconds of a podcast with Danny Akin, Bill Kynes, and Miguel Núñez on “When You Want to Change Your Spouse.” My initial reaction before listening is, are these people really that ignorant. Gary Thomas’ view that “Marriage is designed not to make you happy, but to make you holy” is unbiblical. When Adam was created, he noted that there was no one like him. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So, He created Eve. Marriage could not be to make Adam and Eve holy; they were already holy.

    My wife and I cannot understand their idea of marriage “involves the hardest work and the greatest commitment of any relationship I have.” We’ve been married for 37 years and agree that marriage is not the hardest work. My youngest daughter–who is unmarried–says, “Ain’t that sweet and encouraging. Marriage is to be the hardest relationship I ever had.” I’m sure these great teachers’ wives are thrilled to know what their husbands think of them.

    • Thanks Len.
      Just out of interest, what has made you and your wife become interested in the topic of domestic abuse within the church?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Len – You noted that these usual suspects said that marriage “involves the hardest work and the greatest commitment of any relationship I have.” You correctly point out the “marriage is to make you holy, not happy” error. My wife and I have been married for nearly 50 years. The sphere of my life in which there has always been the most peace and safety has been in our marriage and family. In that sense I would say it has been by far the easiest and happiest relationship of my life. It has not “involved the hardest work” for us.

      If Christians are what Scripture says we are – new creations with new hearts and the love of Christ operative in us by His Spirit – then when two Christians get married, the basics should happen naturally. If on the other hand the marriage is what these guys describe, one must wonder if they are Christians at all. Oh sure, I know that some personalities mesh more easily than others and that one marriage may have more clashes at times than another might. But to picture all marriages, including Christian ones, as a meat grinder that God puts us through daily in order to sanctify us is ludicrous and anyone who claims that is highly suspect in my opinion. Yes, these guys probably are very difficult for their wives to live with. That is the case when someone is in love with themselves.

      I myself am totally done with these kinds of conference scenarios in which celebrity types from the “Christian” world sit up front and expound to the faithful fans what God says. Jesus said to beware of their leaven because it spreads like poison.

  65. We have noticed that Gary Thomas has now scrubbed MORE comments from his blog posts which addressed domestic abuse (Enough is Enough, God Hates Domestic Violence, and a few earlier ones in which he tangentially touched on it).

    You will pleased to know that before Gary did this extra scrubbing, we had saved all those posts of his to web.archive.org. He can’t scrub the comments from the webarchive. 🙂

    By scrubbing even more comments which were politely pointing out to him that he doesn’t understand domestic abuse well enough, he has further demonstrated that he does not want to heed critical feedback. So for all his professed “openness to criticism,” his actions show the exact opposite.

    • StandsWithAFist

      I guess that is all the answer we need.

      • Lea

        He probably thought he was doing a great thing, and doesn’t like being called out for the way his books and thoughts have been used. Hurt his pride. Until he gets past that he won’t ever really get it, I think.

      • Anewanon

        I wonder if he even understands the distinction between sinful Christians, fools, and wicked/evil ones. If GT is addressing situations involving the first two in his book, and doesn’t understand the last, would it then all make sense?

        Is it up to the reader to discern what they are dealing with in choosing the book and its application? I AM grateful to this site for helping me see what I am dealing with, for abusers that folks over here contend with most ​probably fall into that last category of evil/wicked ones.

  66. Annie

    I am curious about why Len hasn’t answered Barbara’s question regarding what made him and his wife become interested in domestic abuse and the church.

    • Perhaps he didn’t tick the ‘notify me of further comments’ box, so he doesn’t know I asked the question.

  67. Avid Reader

    Hi Len,

    Welcome to the discussion and our community of believers.

    Annie,

    [Barb has modified this paragraph to give it more detail:] It appears that Len follows the ACFJ FB page, and he saw there Barbara’s post in which she commented on The Gospel Coalition’s video titled When You Want To Change Your Spouse. The video showed a discussion between three men: Danny Akin, Bill Kynes, and Miguel Núñez. Barb had first noticed this TGC video when TGC shared it on twitter.

    By the way, the comment Barbara posted on the ACFJ FB page was very insightful in helping people recognize the elephant in the room that the video on that other site was totally ignoring.

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