Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Some Thoughts from Proverbs

Proverbs 4:14-19, Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. (15) Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (16) For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. (17) For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. (18) But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (19) The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

Reading through Proverbs recently, I noticed a number of passages that warn of the danger and the negative effects of associations with the wicked.  The Lord’s wisdom instructs us to turn away from evil people – the kind who cannot go to bed at night unless they have worked their evil on someone.  Their “food” is wickedness and violence.  They have a taste for it and seem to thrive on it.  Of course, in the end, it turns out that they are blindly heading for destruction.  For all these reasons and more, we are wise to stay away from them.  Similarly –

Proverbs 13:20, Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 14:7, Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

We see the same principle in numbers of places in the New Testament too.  For instance –

1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 5:6, Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

Now, what does all of this have to do with the subject of abuse?  Well, it seems to me that it has a direct bearing upon the common struggles the abuse victim has in trying to decide if the Lord permits her to leave and/or divorce her abuser.  It also comes into play in analyzing whether it is really true or not that children are always better off with two parents, even if one of them is an abuser.  If the Lord advises us repeatedly to not associate with the wicked, how does that “square” with the common advice being given to abuse victims by pastors, churches, and individual Christians that they must stay in their marriage?  Does the fact that a person is married to a wicked person negate all of this instruction to separate from such evil?
I don’t think so.


How many Sins Are Required to Demonstrate that a "Christian" is not a Christian?


Let's Talk About "Marriage Intensives"


  1. Michelle

    Thank you so much,Ps. Jeff for this message! It is so clear when you lay out the obvious verses that most people tell us have nothing to do with”marriage” and a wicked spouse doesn’t count.

  2. Freedom

    Thank you for this awesome reminder!
    The literal Proverbs-a-day carried me through the constant rotations of the abusers rollercoaster of abuse cycles.
    Your note was quite well timed as we all move to celebrate the 4th of July holiday weekend, it’s not just our country we celebrate being freed, it can also be a reminder that we are meant to be free from the oppression, particularly that from all the closest abusers, and those masked abusers claiming to be part of the church body are included. The Lord speaks to all of this via the Proverbs, such a gift to those who are in, escaping or finally out of the proximity of the abusers.
    Thank you again for the well stated reminders in your message today.

  3. Debi

    Amen! Thank you, Pastor Jeff. I also read a Proverb a day as another commenter mentioned. During our separation I received all sorts of shaming from the church about how unbiblical my actions were in separating. I just couldn’t understand how they rationalized those “fleeing the wicked and evil verses” all throughout Scripture didn’t apply to me because I was married. It was devastating. I felt abandoned by my church.

  4. Ms. E.

    It’s sad that people in the church decides to separate from the victim rather than the abuser, just because the victim is the one who filed for divorce…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *