Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage

Brent Detwiler is a good man. He has fought the battle fearlessly in exposing the sexual abuse and the coverups of it in the Sovereign Grace, CJ Mahaney circles. We are very thankful for his tireless work.

But Brent blew it when he recently made the following comment on facebook. I am quoting it here to reiterate to all of you that these teachings are unbiblical and harmful. I am not going to go into a long point by point refutation – what Brent says here has been refuted in other blog posts I have done already. This is, you might say, a practical exercise for all of us in identifying unbiblical notions that enable abusers and enslave victims.  Here is what Brent said. I am sure that many if not most of you have heard this stuff before. Let me say again – this is false teaching. It is wrong. We must absolutely reject it.

Okay. Time for a comment on divorce. Marriage is a holy covenant modeled after God’s covenant with us in Christ. That is more than a human commitment based on favorable conditions.

Jesus Christ made it clear there is only one basis for divorce. Adultery or sexual sin (Greek, porneia – e.g. anal intercourse). He made that statement in the context of debating whether there were other acceptable reasons for divorce.

In the case of physical abuse, the wife should immediately report her husband to police, separate physically for her safety, get a restraining order if needed, pursue church discipline if a professed Christian, & seek professional assistance. This is very hard especially if she is dependent on his income. She will need help.

If the husband is not willing to change, he will likely commit adultery or divorce his wife. If he does not, she is not required to move back in with him if that puts her life at risk or at risk of serious injury.

Here’s the main point of Scripture, however. Marriage is life long covenant between two sinners. Sinning against each other is not grounds for divorce. Nor is the lack of happiness. The Scripture gives explicit teaching to spouses even when they are married to unbelievers or those who are disobedient to God’s word. It does not include divorce. Quite the opposite. It calls for perseverance and the modeling of godly character in the midst difficult circumstances brought on by bad character.

Furthermore, divorce is always injurious for the children. That is one reason he hates it. It and out of wedlock pregnancy are two of the main factors destroying our society. Jesus taught against fornication and divorce. He made one allowance for divorce in the case of intercourse because it established the marriage in the first place (two become “one flesh”). Thank God he also made a way for these sins to be forgiven through his substitutionary death on the cross. He paid the penalty for these transgressions against him and his holy law. “No fault” divorce or divorce for any reason is condemned by him. The ESV study notes on Matt 5 and 19 are excellent. So is the article in the back of the Study Bible on “Are There Other Grounds for Divorce?”

I will let all of you comment on what Brent has said. Let me grab one point that really leaps out at me. Brent said “divorce is always injurious for the children.” Now, that is an amazingly ignorant statement. Sorry Brent, but there is no mild way to put it. This is ignorance. In fact divorce is one of the absoutely BEST things that can happen to children whose parent is an abuser. I can give you story after story of NOT divorcing being the WORST thing that happened to the children.

Brent, you’ve done a lot of very good work. But I urge you to stop giving instruction when it comes to the issues you have addressed here in this comment. You have not got these matters straightened out in your thinking and you are doing harm to the innocent while you think you are helping.

31 thoughts on “Here is the False Teaching that Holds Abuse Victims in Bondage

  1. Natalie

    There is no satisifying those who teach such lies. When I went to our church leaders for help, I thought that since I had “met the requirements” I would get help.

    My spouse had cheated and even produced a child with a mistress. He was sexually abusing me and forcing me to submit to sodomy to the point it had caused severe injury to my intestines.

    I had gone to counseling to “work on my part in it”. I had memorized and copied scripture, prayed those scripture verses over him as he slept, jumped through all their hoops.

    But it still was not enough to satisify the compassionless Christian leaders.

    I was told that I needed to submit more, to “tone down my personality” , and to not challenge HIS intelligence with MY intelligence, so he would become a Godly leader. Now, my exceptional knowledge of scripture made me a threat.

    They assured me that if only I could be “more Christlike” in my suffering that my spouse would see this and be transformed. They assured me there is no way out that does not OFFEND GOD and turn his blessings away from the woman and her children. We would all go to hell…and it would be ALL MY FAULT.

    Evil, evil teachings!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dear Natale,

      Your story hit a note in me…. “Submit more “tone down my personality”, and to not challenge HIS intelligence with MY intelligence, so he would become a Godly leader.” I heard exactly the same words and directions come from the hierarchy/counselors concerning my marriage also. I’m certain that it is similar for many of us who seek out Godly counsel for our abusive marriages. You hit the nail a BIG old whack on its proverbial head! Evil! Nothing but evil.

      I wonder if these people even realize the damage they do with their false teachings and abusive demands. I wonder if any of them see that what they are really doing is aiding in the destruction of the family, by upholding and supporting abuse and abusers against their victims. Pretty sure they don’t think beyond their own numbers, to the future of children that are also forced to capitulate to the abusers. The ripples in the pond from the stones they cast are eventually going to become a tidal wave of destruction generations on down the road. Don’t they see the type of men the male children will become from learning that it’s ok to abuse? These Pharisees are teaching our boys that God and the church will support my abusing my family. They are teaching our girls that to be a good Christian woman means to sit down, shut up, and take the abuse…because its the woman’s fault it happens, and a good wife would never do anything to make her husband abuser her, and if he does then its up to her to fix it all. ARRRRGGGG It makes me ill!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Natalie

        Yes, Gypsy Angel, you are totally correct. They do not see the destruction they are causing to future generations because they are totally blinded by their own idolatry of themselves. They are gods in their own minds; fearing constantly that the truth about woman will topple their fragile kingdom.

        One of the hardest teachings of the modern church is that a victim of abuse must feel deep compassion for the unrepentant, evil criminal who assaults her. That she must pray daily for his salvation and for God to bless HIM, while he continues to abuse her. She is to pray for God’s mercy and grace to fall on him, even while she bleeds from wounds he inflicted. She is taught scripture to back up this belief and made to recite it daily in order to brainwash her to abuse using God’s own words. To this day, I can still find a scripture to back up almost any situation, and it takes a dividing of the word and untwisting of the scripture to get my mind straight again.

        Who in the church shows compassion for these spiritual widows and orphans who are being victimized by the very men who are supposed to love, honor, and cherish them?

        The patriarchy knows well that if they dehumanize and demonize the woman, they can convince other men to join their ranks and can convince women to submit to such foul treatment, thinking that women deserve such awful treatment because of Eve. The enemy knows the scriptures better than the people of God do. He knows how to turn them to play on the weaknesses of those who lust for power and control.

        In the end, the abuse of the church has turned a whole generation of young adults against the church and made them lost and wondering looking for the “real God” knowing that they want no part of a god who makes their mother cry so much and makes her suffer so. The next generation of girls has grown up to fear the church and the way it wipes out their gifts and strengths and makes them conform to a mindless life of servitude to men. My own 6 daughters fear “Christian marriage” after decades of teaching in our homeschool and church groups about women’s place in God’s kingdom, and after watching what happened when their own mother broke out of this spiritual abuse. We are having to unravel these false teachings and it is very difficult.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. GypsyAngel

          I’m all for praying for one’s enemies; but unless and until God tells me to, I won’t willingly walk back into a pit of vipers. Go Back into a life, mental health threatening, and soul threatening situation because the elders demand it? I don’t think so.
          I’ll pray for him from outside of the marriage and out from under the “loving care” of the Pharisees thank you very much.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. walkinginlight

    Yes Pastor Crippen, it is true. Staying in a abusive marriage does MORE harm to the children. My children were mistakenly diagnosed with ADD way back when they were kids due to the “stress” in the environment they were in. It causes all kinds of ailments to children including anxiety. Walking on eggshells is not a healthy way to live!! Sons watching their father control and disrespect the mom is also lethal to their future wives someday. Watching their dad refuse to take “responsibility” for his wicked behavior teaches the children they can do anything that they wish and there are no consequences for the behavior etc. I could go on and on. No, it is much better and way healthier for children to not witness all of the wicked sinful behavior and tactics from the unrepentant father.
    I have no idea who this fellow is who wrote these things but he is way off base here! He even goes with the both of them are “sinners” thing. No mister Detwiler, I am not a sinner I am saint of God. The abuser is the unrepentant sinner! As a child of the Lord I follow His commands as they are not burdensome, and out of love and gratitude for my Savior. Please do not call a blood washed saint a “sinner”, that was my old nature.

    MARANATHA!!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. no one down here

    One counselor told me – when accused of not taking seriously the sanctity of marriage, the reply was “I think so highly of the sanctity of marriage, that when it becomes a mockery, it must be stopped. Therefore, I regard the sanctity of marriage higher than you.”

    Anyone who really understands who God is, must also understand that he is an avenger of his people when they are oppressed. He rescues his people; He does not demand that they continue submitting to abuse. God rescues them. God does it. Psalm 7:6-12, Psalm 18, Psalm 9:2-4, Psalm 9:9-12, Psalm 12:5…. It is a matter of God defending His righteousness.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Krikit

    Good Lord Jesus above, there is so much wrong with what he states, that it would take days to break it all down into its complete falsities. It is painfully obvious that this man knows n.o.t.h.i.n.g. of discerning the EVIL of abuse—“sinning” indeed! Bah! All sin is *not* equal.

    1. God’s Covenant with us in Christ is a *perfect* one, AND one which He can keep perfect and in tact All. By. Himself. So…*not* at all like a human covenant.

    2. The root of the word “adultery” is to Adulterate. What does adulterate mean? It is to debase, thin, weaken, corrupt—to take something pure and make it impure. Adultery is more than sexual sin with another. At its core, it is the breaking of a covenant by introducing *anything* which corrupts it. The constancy of abusing another definitely qualifies as adultery in its fullest sense.

    3. If a husband will not repent and submit changing his evil ways, then one can, with freedom of conscience, determine he is a FALSE “Christian.” We are told exactly how we are to respond to those who profess Christ in name only—and it *isn’t* to continue to keep ourselves aligned and in intimate relationship with them.

    4. Marriage is a life long covenant between TWO; *both* husband and wife who KEEP the covenant. No where, no time, no how is ONE human being capable of, nor *required*, to keep a covenant alone.

    5. The use of the Scripture regarding living with an UNbeliever is as a whip stroke against the targets of the abuser, and is anathema to Christ’s character! Living with an UNbeliever who treats one well cannot, by any stretch of *good* conscience, or accurate theology, be deemed equal to living with a pagan ABUSER.

    6. And, as already been mentioned, divorce is *not* the worse thing that can happen to children in homes of targeted abusiveness. Rather it is a Mercy!

    7. God does *not* “hate divorce.” He hates the hardening of a heart to precedes—in the case of Abuse—*necessary* divorce. The actions of abuse, born of the heart of e.v.i.l., are what BREAKS the covenant. The divorce is merely the response in finally burying the purifying corpse of a non-existent marriage that, all too often, an abused spouse has been browbeaten into dragging around behind them—sometimes for *decades*.

    8. The “substitutionary death” is CHRIST’s and Christ’s *alone.*. To, in any way, insist that a spouse is to put themselves between that Spiritual work and the abuser, is to seriously not understand the Gospel. A spouse is NOT the abuser’s Savior, nor their conscience, nor there Redeemer, not their Holy Spirit, nor their God. Leave God’s work to GOD.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Krikit

        I appreciate the affirmation, Pastor Crippen.

        It took almost 2 decades for God to lead me out of the DARKNESS of B.A.D. Spiritual teaching regarding these (and other) issues. Eleven years I spent in an abusive marriage because of the church counsel I received, and another 7+ years after the divorce to diligently seek out the Truth about what had happened to me, and what was happening to a plethora of other spouses—mainly women—at the hands of church so-called “leadership.” Those 17 years (and since) have been all about God giving me fine-tuned ears to HIS voice, and a well-read understanding of these marital abuse issues. Never again, God willing and guiding, will I ever pay attention to any theological teaching from man that strains, churns, and wrestles with the Holy Spirit within me.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Krikit

          Excellent, spot-on commentary!

          I, too, though not a young woman any longer, have come to not trust the idea of “christian marriage” being a viable state. Such thought brings tears to my eyes each time I realize this is now my emotional reality, for I still desire a marital human relationship that would honor God and bring joy, but I doubt its probability, or even its possibility now. I mourn the loss of hope in this regard.

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Jen

      I’m appreciating these comments and have a question: Does porneia actually mean “anal intercourse”? (My understanding is that it means any sexual immorality and that our modern term “pornography” was taken from this Greek word.) my questions is…Is this a veiled attempt to redefine the term “porneia” so as to excuse unrelenting use of pornography while married and to deny that
      It is grounds for divorce? What are your thoughts?

      Like

      1. Jeff Crippen

        Jen- it cannot be said with certainty that porneia is limited to that one perversion. To claim such and teach it as if everyone agrees is just wrong. And in addition, the justification for abuse as grounds for divorce does not rest on the straining of gnats like this claim about one word.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. cindy burrell

      After years of study and writing on the subject of biblical divorce, here is the most important thing I have learned: God’s heart beats for genuine relationship – between Him and each one of us and between us and others He brings into our lives.

      For all intents and purposes, Jesus was not a legalist; He was a relationalist. (I know that’s not a word, but it works.) His message to the weary, the lost and the lonely was one of compassion and grace. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” And to the arrogant, the legalist finger-pointers, He made it clear they had largely missed the intent of the Law – to encourage relationship, not to impose a heavy burden of obligation.

      And sadly, the Scriptures have been twisted in these matters – certainly too much to discuss here.

      Just know that when the Spirit nudges your heart – telling you that something you have been taught doesn’t seem quite right, the odds are good it’s not. Look beyond what all of the Christian know-it-alls tell you and know that you can trust the Spirit’s voice above all others.

      Some people won’t like it. Some will want you to squeeze you into the little Christian box they have created. But Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

      When we get back to basics, we must acknowledge that marriage was designed to serve as the ultimate image of the love relationship between Christ and His bride. As such, it should never provide a haven for sin.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Change Agent

    This misguided teaching suggests that marriage is not a covenant but a prison. God models healthy relationship in the example of Jesus and the Church (emphasis on the capital C). Love does not harm and/or violate the will of its object. Distorted thinking leads people to accept pushing past a woman’s boundaries and treating her as property is a demonstration of love. That is not love. God himself does not push past your boundaries, he honors your will. I wholeheartedly disagree with the statement suggesting the bible does not allow for divorce. In fact, I believe it clearly outlines the dissolution of covenants when they are violated. There is no truth without mercy and no mercy without truth. The daughters of Zelophead spoke up to change a tradition that was unjust when they were prohibited from obtaining their ancestral land because they were women. God honored their stand because his ultimate desire is for justice, mercy and truth. When we support abuse we oppose God’s will and underlying principles. The ultimate commandment is summed up in love. Women should love themselves just as much as men and have the right to enforce boundaries outlining that love.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Riley

    I will agree with those who stated that this person is completely wrong about divorce always being injurious to children. I have known multiple cases where it is the absolute best thing that ever happened to those children because it freed them from an abusive environment, and allowed them to finally starting healing from an entire lifetime of torture.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Amy

    I have so many thoughts on this, but will only comment on one thing — it is NOT divorce which is injurious to children, it is ABUSE!

    I know this firsthand and am just now, 10 years after my abusive ex walked out on us, seeing how injurious it was to my two sons to have stayed in an abusive marriage for 20 years all because I was told it was better for them to be raised in a two-parent home instead of by a single mother.
    It makes me so angry to think of people from the church saying that dribble to me.

    My oldest son who is now 27 is finally after all these years opening up about the trauma it caused him and it has shattered my heart into a million pieces. Fortunately, he has chosen to find healing but it’s left me with so much guilt and regret for not taking my sons and running so far away from that so-called man who is nothing but evil.

    Reading this man’s comments left me shaking and so angry, it brought me back so many years ago when people in my life said similar things to me. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  8. anonymous

    I put the blame for the verbal / emotional / spiritual abuse in my marriage on the Fort Lauderdale Five and their Shepherding Movement. They may have repented, but their indoctrination became the gold standard for many in the late 70s when we got married. My eyes have only been opened in the last few years to understand that most women don’t live like I do and that there was nothing “Christian” in the submission that was required of me.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. eagerlabassistants

    Wow..glad I never heard him either. I’ll remember his name now though;) Thanks for bringing it to light and everyone else exposing it so well too.

    What he believes is disgusting!! The child comment jumped out at me as well as did the comments on single mothers. Hmm..I was a great single mother of my first child as a result from rape. Wonder what he’d say about that *covenant* that was forced on me. What an idiot. She’s a beautiful son of God, married a real Christian and now I have two of the cutest grandchildren ever. Guess how that would have turned out had the state not terminated his parental rights. Disgusting there’s often more justice from the civil authorities than the church. It’s also gross how he mentioned “call the police if..” no more than lip service and disrespect with what else he said.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. It wasn’t until after I left my abusive marriage that I finally came to see that it is not merely the office of marriage that is sacred, but the nature and condition of it that must be held so. Abuse makes a mockery of God’s wondrous institution, and we do our Lord – and our children – a cruel disservice by allowing such wretched relationships to continue in God’s name.

    When Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no man tear asunder,” He was not saying, “Let no one ever get a divorce; He was saying, “Do not be the one responsible for destroying this relationship.” Big difference.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Debby Seguin

    I am no longer surprised at the consistency of this teaching even from those who now speak out against the detrimental impact of all types of abuse. I now skip over all their teaching until I get to their divorce theology. It doesn’t help AT ALL to tell women how awful and wrong abuse is and then simultaneously take away any viable solutions to solve the problem!! Ugh! I just mentioned this on an fb group in refernce to pastor Sam Hinn’s 5 parter on narcs. He lays out the heinous nature of these people, then tells the victim, “only separate, not divorce.” He may well be at the start of his “awakening to abuse” journey, and I think he has the humility to get educated, but right now, it’s another hope dashed for many who are still caught in the trap as I was.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Diana

    Quote:
    That (marriage) is more than a human commitment based on favorable conditions.

    Yes, God hates divorce, as Malachi 2 states rather clearly. Therefore, God WARNS the men to not behave treacherously (H898: deceitfully, covertly transgressive) against the wife of their covenant (H1285: confederate) Not their subject. Why?
    Answer: “For the LORD, the God of Israel, says that he hates putting away ( H7971: send or push away)” THEREFORE (because God hates divorce) take heed that you don’t deal treacherously with your wife.”

    God makes it clear that treachery will lead to divorce, and warns men not to be transgressors against their wives, SO THAT divorce won’t happen. Apparently God disagrees with the author, in that he states, in modern vernacular, “If you treat your wife like dookie, it’ll end in divorce. I hate divorce. So don’t treat her that way.”
    Or, put in a positive form, “Treat your confederate with respect at all times, so you don’t end up getting divorced.”

    Quote:
    ” Adultery or sexual sin- Greek ‘porneia-eg:anal intercourse.

    Last I heard from God, adultery IS sexual sin, so “or” is not an option here. (H2181: whoring, adultery) And in the New Testament (G4202: harlotry, adultery, incest)

    The only direct references we have to anal intercourse are the words catamite and sodomite which are used in 1Cor. 6:9-10 in reference to who is not inheriting the kingdom of God. One is the one who likes to be used and the other is the user. (think abusive Catholic priests as sodomites, and effeminate men as catamites). the Bible is silent on anal sex between men and women. So we should be silent about it too when speaking as though from the Word.

    Quote:
    “In the case of physical abuse…”” If the husband is not willing to change, he will likely commit adultery or divorce his wife. If he does not, she is not required to move back in with him if that puts her life at risk or at risk of serious injury.”

    Questions:
    What if he does not change AND doesn’t commit adultery or divorce his wife? What is she “required” to do? Hmmm? HE must be PLEASED to live with her, according to scripture. Not just beat her and live with her cuz he doesn’t want to move out and pay alimony. What is the “solution” now?

    What if the abuse is psychological, emotional and verbal? Broken hearts, crushed emotions,
    cut-up self-hood, profoundly bruised psyches are pretty hard to spot in church on Sunday, especially when arm-in-arm with the guilty wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not like we women can show you those lifelong deep wounds and scars and say,”See? See how abusive he’s been?”. Unlike the bodily evidence produced by physical abusers. So what then, Mr?

    Quote:
    ” It calls for perseverance and the modeling of godly character in the midst difficult circumstances brought on by bad character.”

    Well, on the flip-side of this idealization of victimization, how about the abuser suffering “difficult circumstances” brought on by HIS OWN bad character.”? If an abused wife moves out due to the excess time and/or severity of his abusiveness, and is unwilling to subject herself to it any further, it would give the husband a good chance to “model godly character” himself, no?

    Oh, wait. That’s right. It’s up to her, the victim, the abused, the subjected, degraded, disrespected, vilified, neglected, wife to make sure the broken (by husband) covenant appears to be intact for the sake of “the church”. As if God doesn’t see. As if he says, “Suck it up sister. It’s YOUR problem, not his.” Right. Let’s put that shoe on the other foot. I know a young man whose wife of 12 yrs. was a pathological narcissist and the elders supported his decision to separate and ultimately divorce. I also know several women, married to pathological narcissists for 25 yrs, 30 yrs and 38 yrs, who were all told they should stay with said men.

    Quote:
    “Marriage is life long covenant between two sinners. Sinning against each other is not grounds for divorce. ”

    I don’t know about you, but God, Jesus, and all the apostles call me a saint. I AM not a sinner. I WAS a sinner in God’s sight, but once born again, I became “the righteousness of God”. I am “seated at the right hand of God with Christ Jesus.” The letters in the NT are written to “the saints” not the sinners. Anyway…the second half of his statement above is infantile and simplistic. He says “adultery OR sexual immorality” (for example, in his own words, anal intercourse) (sigh) are grounds for divorce, and they are sins. Yes, I know, overkill. But he asks for it by shooting his ignorant mouth off (in this case fingers on the keyboard).

    And can anyone explain this statement made by him in his abysmal, final paragraph: He made one allowance for divorce in the case of intercourse because it established the marriage in the first place.”

    Seriously. I was married for nearly 40 years to a covert pathological narcissist. It was hellacious. God gave me the strength to endure it with uncommon resilience, and I have come through one year of separation with counseling, psychotherapy (yes, and it has been a gift from God), and a lot of emotional work to do.

    God hates abuse just as much as he hates divorce. He hates hypocritical, deceitful unrepentant, treacherous, uncontrite victimizers who practice wickedness just as much, if not more, than divorce. There is a LOT more on mistreatment and abuse of people than there is on divorce in the scriptures. I think if teachers and preachers would preach and teach about what a good husband IS, and as well as what he IS NOT, we might get somewhere.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Diana. Very good stuff. By the way, I try to avoid using the “God hates divorce” phrase because it is so triggering to victims, and because that verse is not so translavted in many, if not most, Bible translations. However, you make your point clear. God hates divorce in the sense that he hates the evildoer who destroys the marriage and thus effects divorce. It is the abuser who divorces, not the one who files the legal paperwork in response to the abuse. Thank you again for refuting these false teachings.

      Liked by 6 people

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