Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Part 1 – Critique of Pastor Screwtape's Letter

On May 11th we posted the wicked letter from “Pastor Screwtape” and his associate, Wormwood, that was sent to an abuse victim in their “church.” You can read the letter here.  Now I want to dissect this collection of lies and perversions of scripture so that we can all clearly see the typical tactics these kinds of false shepherds use on victims.  We start in this post with just one paragraph (which Screwtape wrote after opening with a couple of the typical “softening up the target” talk that express how much the victim is loved…blah, blah, blah.  Then the first fusilade is fired:

“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.  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.”

“It is the will of God that you do not divorce your wife.” Boom. He has issued the decree, and he speaks for the Lord, you know. He then goes on to twist Scripture as his argument for what he just said. He claims that Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5 is global. It is comprehensive. That it contains ALL of God’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. And he claims that the Apostle Paul, in 1 Cor 7, did not add another reason for divorce.
Now, that just boggles my mind. Paul DID discuss another reason for divorce which Jesus did not address in Matthew 5. And Paul says so:

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 ESV  To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.  (13)  If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.  (14)  For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  (15)  But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

What did Paul mean when he said “I, not the Lord”? Did he mean that now he is just giving his uninspired human opinion? Of course not. What he means is that Jesus did not address the scenario of a marriage to an unbeliever. See it? Jesus clearly never intended for His words in Matthew 5 to be all-encompassing of every situation. He was answering a specific question put to him that concerned the “divorce for any cause” vs. “divorce only for immorality.” Screwtape and Wormwood, in their gross arrogance, willfully choose to ignore this. Paul does indeed say that if a husband or wife is an unbeliever and refuses to live with the believer in marriage, then the believer is not under bondage to remain in that marriage. This is why historically not only adultery has been held to be a basis for divorce, but desertion as well.
Now, notice the rank arrogance once more in this statement: “Although some good men disagree, we have emphasized that….”. It isn’t just some good men who disagree, it is the majority of the church’s teaching that Paul was in fact discussing a scenario that Christ did not address. But my point here is that Screwtape and Wormwood acknowledge that there are “good men” who disagree with their position, but no matter. “WE are right! And WE are so right that you had better do what we say. WE speak for God.” And, as we see in the rest of the letter, they are so “right” that they will be quite willing to pronounce the victim headed for hell if he divorces his abuser, and they will be willing and ready to ex-communicate him if he does.
Think about this carefully. What kind of wicked arrogance is evidenced by people like this who know full well that the position they insist upon is not held by other genuine Christians, and yet they are willing to impose their decree of bondage on others? And where in Scripture are we told that such men have authority like this in matters like these?
This is evil. It is wicked. And they will give account.
That is just one paragraph. We will move on to the next one in Part 2.


Part Three – The Damage Women's and Men's Ministries can do


Part 2 – Critique of Screwtape's Letter


  1. Beware of “ifs” If you don’t do. This will happen. If you don’t by such and such a date. You will be excommunicated. If you don’t submit to the leadership of your husband in all areas of your marriage.
    If you don’t follow up with the book and finish the homework you will not meet together for counseling. When your treated like a three year old.
    Degrading and shaming are the wicked.
    I’ve been threatened with my soul is in danger of hell.
    Rae Radika ________________________________

  2. Innoscent

    Screwtape and Wormwood…. how arrogant!
    Have them live with an abusive spouse and let’s see how much longer they will pontificate about whether Jim is allowed to divorce or not.
    Thank you Jeff for taking the trouble to dissect their despicable letter, an autopsy that sheds light on the wrong diagnosis and cure of these ‘doctors of the Law’.

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