Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Another Letter from Pastor Screwtape to a Domestic Abuse Victim

As you know, most of the domestic abuse victims we hear from are women. Abusers are most often men. But not always. We have dealt with cases in which the woman was clearly the abuser, and in some ways it is even more difficult for men to understand what is happening to them and to ask anyone for help.
The typical male abuser who contacts us, wants our help in pressuring his wife to remain married to him. He has normally already gained his church as his ally and he is seeking to make us his ally, or at least to cause us to doubt his victim’s report to us.
In this post, I am publishing a letter from a pastor and an assistant pastor which was written to a man in their congregation. This man, whom we will call Jim, went to them for help. His wife was a classic abuser. Jim’s goal in contacting us was not to help him keep control and power over his wife, but to help him understand what God’s will is for him in his marriage. Therefore, none of the typical elements of a male abuser trying to dupe us into helping him are present in this case, but just the reverse.
All satire here is my doing, not the victim’s.  All hostility from Screwtape and Wormwood is to be directed at me and I will be happy to counter additional twistings of God’s Word that they attempt to launch. I have changed the names, but otherwise this is an actual letter showing the typical kind of oppression a domestic abuse victim receives at the hands of their pastors. I could write a long essay about the many falsehoods in this letter, but I will just post it for now and you all can comment and share your insights. Let’s help everyone see the errors and biblical twistings this letter contains. Oh, and the few boldface all-caps comments are mine – at points that I couldn’t resist saying something.

Pastor Screwtape, PhD
Anytown First Church
Re: Your Divorce
Greetings Jim,
Myself and my associate, Wormwood, thought that it is important that we establish in writing to you our response to your decision to divorce your wife. We are both cognizant sympathetic with regard to the pain and difficulty that you (both) have been experiencing and it is has been our desire to help you through these matters as the Lord has set forth in His Word. This continues to be our desire, although your intention to proceed with this action will prevent our ability to serve you in this way within the body of our church. This matter is of such importance not only for you and your wife, but also for our church and for us as pastors to lead biblically the church that belongs to our Lord Jesus.
We thank you for your willingness to have communicated with us through these past few months as this problem surfaced and escalated. We have attempted to be faithful to you, to your wife, and to our Lord. You have met us and written to us even though you knew that your course of action would be withstood by us, and you have considered our words and arguments. For this we are grateful. But it is our duty and concern to express clearly what we believe to be the course of action your Lord would have you take given your circumstances. And so, please consider the following matters.
First, it is the will of God that you do not divorce your wife. As we have emphasized repeatedly, the Lord has permitted divorce (and remarriage) for one reason only, that being “sexual immorality” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Although some good men disagree, we have emphasized that Paul did not add to our Lord’s one exception in addressing the church at Corinth. [YES HE DID ADD A NEW SCENARIO] He wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:10f, “A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” Your intention to divorce Your wife transgresses this clear command of our Lord.
Second, the grounds that you claim to have for divorcing your wife are not taught in the Scriptures. Again, the Lord gave the one exception in which He permits divorce (and remarriage). As stated, there are those who also believe that Paul allows for divorce when one spouse physically abandons his/her spouse. We disagree with this view, for it would mean that the Lord Jesus did not get it right, for He said there was but one exception that permitted divorce. But you have “invented” a third reason for divorce. You have indicated that you have biblical grounds for divorcing your wife because she has spiritually abandoned you. I know of no reputable biblical scholar that advocates that this is the teaching of Holy Scripture.
Third, the Word of God commands you to love your wife regardless of whether or not she responds to you in the manner that you expect of her. Christ loved us and won us to Himself when we were wholly in our sin, when we had no love or regard for Him. We came to love Him because He first loved us fully, sacrificially, and patiently. [BUT HE BROUGHT US TO REPENTANCE!]
Fourth, similarly, we are to overcome evil by doing good.
Fifth, where you believe that the degree of your suffering has given you the right to divorce your wife, the Scriptures teach you that you are to expect suffering and endure suffering, not to escape it. To escape the pain that comes in marriage is not biblical. [JUST WHAT KIND OF MARRIAGES DO SCREWTAPE AND WORMWOOD HAVE? I GUESS THEY ASSUME MARRIAGE IS A LIVING HELL]. Moreover, the Lord looks favorably upon the Christian who endures persecution patiently. In fact, the Lord has called each of His own to suffer for His sake. “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21f). Christ has set forth a clear example that you are to emulate. You are to bestow true love toward your wife, bestowing on her mercy, exhibiting patience, enduring ignorance, resistance, hostility, opposition, and yes, even cruelty and psychological abuse.
Similarly, sixth, your decision to divorce Your wife transgresses the very nature of the Christian life.—denying yourself. Our Lord declared, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:23-24). Take note, our salvation is involved. Those with true, saving faith are to deny themselves. This means that you are not to order your life with your desires, interests, and concerns as foremost. Those with true saving faith must be willing to suffer daily and continually follow Him—“take up his cross daily. We cannot say, “I have done enough, I will now lay aside my cross of suffering.” To do so you cease following the Lord as His disciple. The Lord declared that those who fail or refuse this life of a disciple will be “destroyed” or “lost”. In other words, he will not have salvation. [JIM, YOU WILL GO TO HELL IF YOU DIVORCE YOUR WIFE]
Seventh, as you have discovered deficiencies and defects in your wife you have used these as reasons to justify divorcing her. You should regard these matters as the Lord revealing to you how and wherein you are to serve her, to help her become the woman and wife that she is capable of becoming by the grace of God. The Lord has called you into this marriage relationship to serve her and be used by Him to help her grow in the grace and knowledge of her Lord. [THAT WOULD BE THE HOLY SPIRIT’S JOB, NOT JIM’S]
Eight, in order to divorce your wife, you must break your solemn vow to her and to the Lord when you entered marriage with her. We read to you from Ecclesiastes 5 – “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool’s voice is known by his many words. 4When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—
5Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecc. 3:1-6) [BUT JIM, IT IS OK FOR YOUR WIFE TO BREAK HER VOWS TO YOU]
This is a most serious transgression of God’s will. You swore before God that you would love her for better or for worse until death do you part. That vow was not conditioned on whether or not the other spouse fulfilled expectations. God will hold you accountable to your commitment to Him and to her. [JIM, YOU ARE STUCK IN THE CONTRACT AND SHE CAN DO WHATEVER SHE WANTS]
Your belief that we do not really understand the nature and degree of your wife’s sin is not valid. Rather, if we assume that everything you say regarding her is true, we are saying that biblically her condition does not warrant you divorcing her. As Christ is sanctifying His bride, so the husband has the responsibility to lovingly lead his wife to become all that she should be and can be through His grace. In marrying your wife you assumed this responsibility and accountability before the Lord.
What, then, is the course you should take? We would urge you to humble yourself before the lord, reaffirm to your wife your commitment to love her and serve her. We will do all that we are able to do with the Lord’s help to encourage and assist you. [JIM, YOU MUST REMAIN IN BONDAGE. YOU MUST SERVE YOUR ABUSER]
Now we have written very directly about these matters because of the seriousness of your situation and the terrible consequences for not addressing these matters according to the will of God. We will continue to pray for you. Let us know if you desire our further help.
If you continue on the course that you have indicated to us, we will need to bring the matter up before our gathered church in order to dismiss you from formal membership of our body. Obviously we do not desire this to happen. But it is what is necessary for us as we attempt to follow the Holy Scriptures in these matters. [JIM, DO WHAT WE SAY OR WE ARE GOING TO HAND YOU OVER TO SATAN]
Thankfully in Christ,
Pastors Screwtape and Wormwood


Watch out for Mean followed by Nice, followed by Mean….


Why Christian Abuse Victims Retain Their Faith


  1. Sue

    Oh, and Jim – while we understand and empathize that your wife’s shopping sprees are putting you deeper in debt – you must remember to continue tithing in faith (i.e., fork it over, before taxes…idiot).

  2. cindy burrell

    There is too much here to address. I find the saddest thing in all of this to be the tragic failure of these pastors to understand the heart of God for marriage and the truth the Scriptures actually reveal about not only marriage, but the authority of the Spirit to lead us into righteousness and justice.
    Even more grievous is the reality that countless pastors and our fellow believers agree with this heartless away of addressing a marriage partner held hostage by a wicked person.
    Genuine relationship, truth and righteousness are set aside in favor of legalism.
    My heart hurts. I know God’s does too.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cindy- yes. Every single word in it is a perversion of truth. All loaded with manipulative motive.

  3. Leslie

    I feel beat up after reading that. Sick.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I know what you mean. Arrogant bullies distorting and twisting Gods Word.

  4. Leslie


    • Jeff Crippen


    • Debby

      I remember so clearly this experience. I remember the picture that came to my mind. I was in a cage. My hands were on the bars and I was begging my church folk to help me. They walked by and whacked my fingers with a Bible. Their self-righteous arrogance is so destructive.

      • cindy burrell

        Debby, what you shared is a perfect description of the truth. There are some exceptions, but far too few.

  5. IrisJane

    The most evil abusers I know happen to be women, three of whom hide their extremely covert abuse under the guise of being Christians, the matriarch being the most evil, destroying her entire family while continuing to play the victim/saint role. It took me 20 years to see the truth as I married into this pack and the patriarch happened to be an overt arrogant abuser, somewhat ‘harmless’, but incredibly obnoxious, and who’s behavior caused all eyes to look at him which allowed the covert viper to slowly poison those around her without detection. Everyone always pointed the finger at him, but in reality it was her horribly manipulative and divisive behavior that truly destroyed the family from the inside out, and to this day no one will hold her accountable. He knew what she was and tried to tell everyone but of course, no one believed him, myself included. Only two others in the family know her for what she is, but everyone else continues to let her negative, disrespectful, and mean behaviors slide, as she truly is a master and fooling everyone with her slanderous, reviling, poor me tongue.
    I don’t see how she’ll ever be held accountable this side of heaven for the chaos and destruction she’s wrought in the people placed in her care, the dearest one being the scapegoat who passed away at a young age from what looks like a heart attack, which I believe was from all the devastating stress she had to endure her whole life from both abusers. I saw an old family film of her being emotionally abused as a six year old and it was my first of many eye openers that helped me to see the insidious dynamic that was taking place, it was the pure character assassination of a small child, and from then on I started to see, God allowed my blinders to be removed, and I’ve been in a war ever since.
    The many years of evangelical church counseling were completely useless in trying to help this family as there was no way to see the hidden truth of what was going on, as it’s only in long term close contact that the evil truly show itself, as with all covert abusive cases. Thankfully though through ministries such as this one, the truth is finally being shown and more and more eyes are being opened. It’s time, especially for the ‘church’.
    Thank you Pastor Crippen for exposing the hypocrites and the covert abusers, and for helping the truth to be made known in such a direct and uncompromising way, it’s truly a blessing for victims to be heard, understood, and validated.

    • Jeff Crippen

      IrisJane- wisdom here! Thank you.

    • IrisJane, as painful as these experiences must be to revisit, I appreciate that you took the time to reveal how insidious abusers can be and the magnitude of the harm that can result. It grieves me to know that a woman may have lost her life as a result of the emotional wounds inflicted by her own parents, and that those people probably don’t even care. Such people will stop at nothing to protect their own fiefdom – nothing.

      • IrisJane

        Thank you Cindy, and yes, abusers are so encapsulated in retaining their ‘fiefdom’ that they truly don’t care who or what they destroy in their pursuit of keeping the facade of one up. Their shallowness and pettiness are astounding, all for the sake of covering up the enormities of what they lack in emotional maturity. Everything they do is because of their inability to behave in a balanced, rational, empathetic, selfless manner, which means everyone who does so, or at least is trying to learn and grow in these areas, is a threat to them, and it threatens them to know end because of how truly empty they are, and sadly, their own children are their main sources of supply, making their reactions out to be the problem when all along it’s really them and their chaos producing depravity that is causing those reactions…such a sad thing to witness.

    • Z

      IrisJane, I’m so very sorry for what you have been through. I especially can relate to the dangerousness of abuse of any kind which you feel (rightly I believe) that the victim you call the scapegoat died an early death that was called a heart attack but likely was the result of all those childhood and maybe even adult abuses.
      Although you married into this horror and I was born into it, I share that horrible death experience with you. My beloved brother suddenly died from a “heart attack” at an early age. He, like all my siblings and myself, was abused physically, verbally, emotionally and spiritually by both professing “Christian” parents. And we all witnessed violent domestic violence between parents as well. (Obviously, they were NOT Christians but children of the devil.) I knew immediately why he died. Studies show many adults who are abused as children die early from many abuse-related health problems. An average of 20 years can be taken off their lives. My brother never got away from his abusers. He kept pursuing them and striving for their approval and love. Like my other abused siblings, he became very codependent and enmeshed with, and later even an enabler and apologist for his abusers into adulthood up to his death. The lifetime of this kind of stress is what killed him. The abusers never stopped abusing him, me or the others. (I went No Contact-but not soon enough. Much serious damage was done to me mentally and physically that I am battling to recover from.)
      And you are right, those people in leadership and attending the churches these abuser-monsters attend, are fully duped, as the abusers put on their acts and live to impress people with how “wonderful” they are, intended to and groom new people/allies all the time to combat any possible exposure of their true natures by a truth-teller. It seems there are no local churches out there that even WANT to “get it” when it comes to the dangers of child abuse or domestic violence. None that put their support behind the poor victims who suffer to death sometimes. I’ve given up trying to find one. 💔

      • cindy burrell

        Z, I am so, so sorry to read of all you and your siblings endured. There are no words.
        Although there seem to be very few within the contemporary church who “get it,” I’m sure you know that Pastor Crippen does, as do most of us here. I hope it helps in some small way just to know you’re not alone.

        • Z

          Dear Cindy,
          Thank you for your kind words of support. My most crushing experience, in a lifetime filled with crushing experiences, was that when my beloved brother suddenly died, I was not in contact with him at all for my well-being & protection. He’d become so allied with my & his abuser parents and codependent other siblings that when I went No Contact with parents, he (and the other siblings & relatives) sided with them, engaged in the ensuing smear campaign against me, lied & covered up about his own abuses to enable parents & falsely made them out to be “model parents” placed on his imaginary pedestal. I had to cut out all abusers & their enablers from my life. So I had to grieve his death devastated, alone & so abnormally. No support. No one, not one “Christian” to come alongside me in my grief to comfort me when I really needed it. I forgave my brother even though I couldn’t associate with him anymore because I understand he wasn’t “in his right mind” & was emotionally like a 5 year old when it came to his striving for his evil parents’ love. He thought trashing me for them would make them finally love him & approve of him. And they used & manipulated him to believe that was true. As long as he was “useful” to them in their smear campaign to harm me most by turning against me the one sibling I’d always remained close to & really loved. Their abuse really did a number on him & they controlled him all his life. They are pure evil. I always pray that God had mercy on my brother because he didn’t have an evil heart. He was a professed Christian. But he was so damaged by them that his actions against me for them likely weren’t what HE really wanted to do but what THEY demanded of him to gain their approval. Or else he’d have been shunned by them & that would have killed him too. He could never have gone No Contact with them like I did. Maybe God, in His mercy, took him out of this world before those evil abusers got him to sin more and more to the point of no return. That’s what I hope and pray, anyway. He didn’t deserve hell because he was so unlucky in life to be so badly damaged by evil people that he couldn’t find his way out. He had mental problems & maybe even brain damage from all the beatings. He had hell on earth. His abusers deserve hell for that they did to all their children. And I do know that Pastor Crippen is one of the only men of God who understands, supports and speaks truth in his mission to help abuse victims. And the community here on this blog are the “fellowship” we miss out on by not being able to find a home church. That’s what Christians do-fellowship and walk alongside other Christians who are hurting. I’m indeed very thankful for that.

      • Cara

        There are studies of women and the long term health impacts of DV. One study showed that this batch of women who were victims in their 20s of only one abusive/DV relationship, still had markedly worse health outcomes in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s+ compared to non-battered women. And they all had escaped their relationships while in their 20s and didn’t suffer additional abusive relationships from then on.
        Abuse is murder. Anyone can be abusive, but the sustained abuse that abusers eagerly inflict on their targets is horrific and murderous. Nothing short of evil. Life-destroying.
        Interesting that you shared about your brother chasing after their love and approval and he never got it. It’s really sad.

        • Z

          Absolutely true Cara. Some research may show that childhood abuse and DV in the home result in all kinds of poor health and many other adverse issues in those adults, and that the average lifespan of an adult survivor of childhood abuse and/or DV witnessed can be shortened by about 20 years! That’s about exactly how much my brother’s life WAS shortened. What amazes me is that my and his abuser parents are well into their late 80s/90 years old. I guess when one has no conscience, I guess no ill effects befall the sociopath/psychopath. The perpetrators of many forms of “murder” remain healthy. IN THIS LIFE ONLY THOUGH! Endless 🔥🔥🔥🔥will be their eternal destiny.

      • IrisJane

        Oh Z, I’m so very sorry about your poor brother, and also for the truly horrific abuse you and all of your siblings endured. Sadly, there is no way of proving that the abuse caused these deaths, but I know, after witnessing the constant demoralizing and vicious attacks perpetrated by the parents, that it had to be a huge factor in the physical weakening of these dear souls. God knows though, and that is what I cling to. It sounds like your brother, in his heart and actions, tried his very best in a horrible situation, and it took a devastating toll on him, as it did my sweet SIL, who always kept trying as well, despite the continual attacks and setbacks, never making headway really, but always hoping for peace and rightness to prevail. We were just starting to understand the true dynamic of what was actually going on when she passed, so she never got to experience the true peace of knowing that is was never-ever her that was the problem, but wholly and completely them…that’s what makes me saddest of all, that she never experienced the overwhelming relief and validation of knowing that it wasn’t her, that she was the strong one, and that she was right, and good.

        • Z

          IrisJane, I agree the saddest part of the deaths of our abused and damaged loved ones is that they died not realizing the evil they spent their lives trying to please was so evil. And that they could NEVER satiate their salivating evil manipulations and bottomless pits of damage-as evil is voracious and never satisfied. Those abusers-children of the devil-are just like their father. Out to STEAL, KILL & DESTROY. They are soul murderers. Thank God that our validation and vindication (and I’m hoping my very damaged and manipulated brother’s and your poor, innocent SIL’s) will come from the LORD! (Isaiah 54:27) Those who abused and accused us and them and anyone else are the ones who need to be very worried about the Lord’s Judgment. Same with those church leaders and congregants like the one in this post.

    • Innoscent

      I so understand IrisJane, my ex-mother-in-law was a typical narcissist, a professed Christian, a covert matriach always scheming some evil plans behind peoples’ back all the while having a saintly smile and kind words at church and in public. I was trapped in soul torture for over a decade at the hands of a family narcissistic gang. Praise God for His mighty deliverance!

      • IrisJane

        Exactly the same scenario Innoscent, it’s uncanny how similar these type behave, so glad that you are out! I’m still trapped due to health and financial reasons, but I’m freer everyday in my mind and heart now with the help of ministries such as pastor Crippens and a few others, and of course, from all who comment here as well. The battle is still a daily ordeal, being surrounded by vipers is exhausting, but it forces you to keep the armor on, which is a great help, but it would be nice to be able to breath a bit easier and with more freedom…so I walk a lot.

    • Mhiggins

      I don’t know about anyone else but when I read these letters I often go back to being confused. The rhetoric in it was what I KNEW, it was what I was taught. I find myself panicking that I made a mistake by divorcing. I immediately need a refresher course on how this is twisted and perverted scripture.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Have no fear. I plan to refute this evil trash in coming posts. Probably break it down into sections. Yes, I know what you mean. That is why these men are sooo wicked. They warp and twist God’s word and create havoc.

  6. Innoscent

    This is a revolting letter, so many twisted arguments and ultimatums! Also causing cognitive dissonance such as we are sympathetic and desire to serve you, although we can’t help you if you don’t obey us (i.e. go ahead with the divorce), or by divorcing your wife you’ll be out of the church, you are the wicked one and she is the poor victim to be looked after.
    Basically they’re telling Jim he’s got to push Jesus away from the cross, take his place and be The Saviour for… some devil!
    The better lettter would say that they perfectly discern the abusive mentality of his wife, her cruelty toward him, they have confronted her and showed her the way to repentance, and they are standing by him, that God didn’t create man for marriage, but marriage for man, and so he can be set free from a wife who never had any intention to keep the marriage covenant anyway, let alone have true love for her husband. And that they are fully aware of the other grounds for divorce Christ spoke of through the apostle Paul, one of them meeting Jim’s case.
    By the way, The Screwtapes Letters by C. S. Lewis can be downloaded in various format (epub, Pdf..) for free on the Fadedpage website:

  7. walkinginlight

    2Peter 3:16 – as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the UNTAUGHT and UNSTABLE DISTORT, as they do also the rest of the scriptures to their own destruction.
    James 3:1 – Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will INCUR STRICTER JUDGEMENT.
    I feel sorry for the two “Pastors” who concocted this letter to the poor husband.

  8. Richard

    These were all the same arguments I made to myself in my head, and they kept me in bondage for 12 years. I still struggle with them at times… but one day at a time.

  9. IamMyBeloved’s

    Ahhh, so many things and I’m only in paragraph four. So, interestingly they confess that they do not believe the whole of Scripture is divinely inspired and spoken by God. Hmm. They also demonstrate that they believe “I am and there is none other”, which is idolatry and in this case, self-idolatry. They also apparently have no plan for dealing with the wicked woman’s abuse, because they consistently tell him that he is not to try to escape his suffering, even though Scripture clearly tells us not to suffer if we can escape it. 🙄 They seem very concerned for “our church” and what the bid “D” would do to it. What does this say? It says they seem themselves in power over Christ’s Church of which He alone is the head. It tells me that appearance is a great thing to them and they are worried about backlash for allowing a biblical divorce. It wreaks of power and control and spiritual abuse.
    Umm…Screwtape and his cohort are completely devoid of the Spirit and actually knowing God. Their twisting and legalistic interpretation sickens me greatly.
    They want him to serve her? Well then, he should. He should serve her with an Order of Protection and then a divorce document. That’s probably the best service he can give her.
    God does not expect us to serve evil. That’s what they are asking him to do and their threats wreak of hell itself.
    Flee Jim! Leave all those evil people behind, leave any bitterness or unforgiveness at the door and just run to Christ and find freedom, safety, acceptance and assurance.

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