Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Abusive Marriage Wrongly Seen as Pious Asceticism

Colossians 2:16-23 ESV Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (17)  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (18)  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19)  and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (20)  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21)  “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22)  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23)  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

One of the reasons Christians so often pile a huge and even dangerous burden onto the victimized spouse of an abuser is the crazy notion that her suffering is somehow pleasing to God.  Asceticism is the “severe treatment of the body” that supposedly helps a person defeat their temptations and sins — whipping one’s back, crawling up stairs on one’s knees — that sort of thing.  Scripture counters any such notion — “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”  When the Lord Himself brings trials into our lives, trials from which at the moment there is no escape, that is one thing.  He means this for our good and for His glory.  Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever that was, is an example.  Paul however would have escaped this thorn if the Lord had made it possible.

When a pastor or Christian or anyone maintains that God forbids divorce for the reason of abuse, they are really saying that asceticism is good.  That in some way, if the woman will stay in that marriage and endure, God is glorified through her suffering.  This is really no different then than telling someone to go back home, pull out a whip, and lash themselves bloody for “the glory of God.”  Such “advisors” demand that victims “submit to regulations” of man’s own devising, i.e., that divorce is never permitted, or that  it is only permitted for physical adultery and so on.  The Christian is not to submit to such regulations.  God’s Word plainly says so.  “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” are man-made laws that are, as Paul puts it, “human precepts and teachings.”
And notice what else the Apostle says in verse 23 — “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”  That has GOT to be one of the most important verses in the Bible.  All of these man-made regulations about marriage, divorce, and re-marriage which are not agreed upon by Christians who continually debate them as if we were still separate schools of rabbis, are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.  They are not godly.  They are not holy.  The LOOK and SOUND like wisdom:  “Here in our church we have such a high esteem of the Lord and of marriage that we adhere to the permanence view and deny that divorce is ever permitted.”  Sounds pious, doesn’t it?  Has the appearance of being very wise and of something that honors the Lord.  But it isn’t, and it doesn’t.  It only promotes sin and it does so at the expense of the victim AND to the detriment of the glory of God.
So our Lord commands us:  “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19)  and not holding fast to the Head…”.  It’s true, isn’t it?  So often these kinds of man-made regulations being put off on us as supposedly the Word of God are in fact nothing more than the product of puffed up, fleshly minds.  And they are produced by people who fail to hold fast to Jesus our Head.


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  1. frankiesmith2064

    This overarching dogma perpetrated by the likes of Gary Thomas in his quote” marriage is not to make us happy it’s to make us holy” is the reason many god fearing women remain trapped in abusive relationships. Suffering for Christ is what it’s called. Suffer in silence and you will be rewarded. Turn the other cheek literally, submit to abuse it’s for your own good. Etc.
    A woman who has a conscious, wants to please god, that is being gas lit by her abuser and his allies is made more pliable to her abuser when this sort of doctrine is not expelled outright.
    I know because it happened to me. I thought I was supposed to tolerate bad behavior in light of false teaching on suffering and forgiveness. I was being holy when I turned the other cheek, I was being holy, when I tolerated mistreatment from a reprobate youth minister. I was being tolerant and understanding as the church group stood with the reprobate. I was supposedly growing in Christ and growing in my character. How wrong that was—it’s reprehensible.

    • Stormy

      The deviant Reverend from The BBC series Poldark embodies the essence of corruption I witnessed in my church youth group. It’s instructive in that it is an on screen portrayal of what abusers look like while representing a religious man.
      A true wolf in sheep’s clothing presented on screen. The hypocrisy is easy to see. No decent person could argue against it, yet this is the type of person the church rallies around and provides comfort to while they abandon and ignore his victims.
      See the character synopsis below
      BBC One
      Main content
      Rev Osborne ‘Ossie’ Whitworth
      The antithesis of a holy man, Reverend Osborne Whitworth is the perfect hypocrite and a slave to deviant thoughts. Unable to find satisfaction at home, he seeks extra-marital relations, but his greed may prove his undoing…

    • Anonymous

      AAH! The “marriage is not to make us happy, it’s to make us holy” nonsense…… so DAMAGING. It’s triggering just to read that again. Same with the whole “marriage is work” which then leads into the inevitable, ‘how you can be a better wife’ so your husband won’t be so unhappy (and thus abuse you, because of supposed unhappiness and supposed failures/shortcomings of the abused wife)…………
      No way. Every last one of these speakers, authors, counselors, etc. that spout this stuff (and they don’t merely offer such up as a passing opinion of theirs, but rather as a doctrinal-like instructive directive….. should be subjected to life as an abused woman for a month or two. Some shock-and-awe brutality, at least one beating that renders them unconscious, some sexual depravity, and perhaps scarred in some way, on their hands or faces, so stitches would be involved, so they see the scar everyday — just to ensure they never forget (because the brain does block out things to help the abused target survive and sometimes huge chunks of victimization gets blocked out — could be inflicted brain damage that does this, too, or it’s probably the combination of the two)
      Maybe it sounds brutal, but perhaps we need to do this with everyone who spouts damaging, abuser-friendly, directives and advisements like that. It’ll clear up any delusions they have pretty quick.
      How else are we going to bring these people around so they don’t keep furthering the bondage, shame, guilt, and entrapment of abused women?
      Besides, the first marriage in the world, Adam and Eve, wasn’t because God was going to make Adam ‘holy’ via some ‘unhappy’ marriage to Eve. I’m tempted to say these counselors, consultants, speakers, authors need to be heckled, protested against, and boycotted. Something has to be done. It’s such dangerous stuff. And abused women get further damaged, harmed, abused, and they try harder and harder because of horrible advice like that gosh-awful, “marriage is not to make us happy, it’s to make us holy”.

      • Stormy

        Thank you anonymous. You said it so well. I like the idea. Make the “counselors, virtue signaling , Sunday school leadership., sanctimonious -abuse apologists” take a big dose of their own medicine.
        They will stand guilty as charged on judgement day as they are collaborating and supporting predators. I would like to see them deal with the pain and torment they dispence on others in this life. Let it come back on their head do they themselves will feel the pain.

    • Momto7

      I also believed the lies that enduring was glorifying to God somehow. I often wondered how versus such as Proverbs 22:24 “do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered” and other similar versus warning against associating with angry people did not apply to me anymore since I had married one. I assumed I had to live with my choice. The freedom that comes with finally knowing the truth and believing it is indescribable. Praise God for his goodness and thank you Pastor Crippen for revealing God’s loveing truths!

  2. Amy

    I once had a neighbor who was a pastor at a local church tell me how I would receive a huge crown of jewels one day. This was in reference to what he witnessed with my then-husband being abusive towards me. o.O
    And another person from a former church once told me how it was my lot in life to be in that abusive marriage. It was where God had put me, so in other words, I was to stay and suffer.
    Mind blowing these days to think of the things said to me, especially from fellow Christians — or so called Christians.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I had the very same words dumped on me by wicked phoney “christians” when I was being reviled and abused for confronting sin in the church. The worst one of these revilers we put out of the church some years ago.

      • Stormy

        Pastor Crippen I tried to copy and paste a photo of the BBC character that embodies an abuser but was unable to copy and paste. Perhaps the readers would find comfort in seeing this visual aide. In addition watching him on screen was also instructive and helpful to me as well.

  3. Stormy

    In the show the “Reverend” gets his
    Recompense. Something very few victims of this type of abuser get to witness on this earth. The judgement that he brings upon himself is also instructive.

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