Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Does the Bible Teach Meritorious Suffering?

The following illustration has been used to convince abuse victims that the abuse they are suffering is God’s determined will for them, and they need to submit to it.  Divorce is out of the question –

There was a man, who was given a cross to bear through life. As he traveled he noticed that this cross was very long and it kept getting caught on stuff. He decided to cut it down a bit and make it easier to carry. After a while, it got heavy again and he decided to cut it down some more. He did this repeatedly until it was easy enough to carry. After all, it still looked like a cross. Well the day came for him to cross over to the “other side” and he was told that he needed his cross to span the great chasm between him and eternity. He laid his cross down but found it to be too short…

In other words, stay in the abuse, suffer, and you will make it to heaven.  Refuse to keep suffering and you will come up short on the day of judgment and end in hell.

There is nothing biblical about this illustration.  In fact, though a professing Protestant is telling it, this is far more Roman Catholic in its theology of suffering.  WE DO NOT SAVE OURSELVES BY OUR CROSS-BEARING.  Jesus Christ has made full atonement for every one of His people.  Following Christ in obedience, no matter how difficult, is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.  But WE do not pay a meritorious, suffering death on that cross.  It is the Cross of Christ by which we are saved.

Furthermore, when Christ calls us to take up our cross, He is telling us to follow HIM. Not for the purpose of carrying out supposed meritorious deeds of suffering so that we can earn our salvation, but to follow Him in obedient faith.  Every genuine Christian will most certainly do so.  Not FOR salvation, but because of salvation.  And we are following Him.  That means that if this illustration is correct, then every abuse victim must agree that the Lord Jesus Christ is leading them into that abuse and that if they depart from it by leaving and divorcing their abuser, they must necessarily leave off following Christ.

That would require any person pushing this illustration to be a prophet.  It means that they are authoritatively able to declare the Word of God to every victim of abuse – Thus saith the Lord, stay here and let this wicked man abuse you and your children.  I can only call such a person a false prophet.


Can You Change a Wolf into a Sheep by Counseling?


He is Just the Nicest Man I’ve Ever Met — Beware the Charm of Evil


  1. Anonymous

    That was the Roman Catholicism that I was raised in. So glad you recognized it as such.

    Amen to all you wrote.

    There are an awful lot of false prophets in this world today.

  2. Oh, my! What a horrible illustration! What awful legalistic, self-righteous, false doctrine!

    Thank you for exposing this falsehood, Jeff.

    Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, bridges the chasm between man and God.

  3. anonymous

    Beautifully put!!! I have heard versions of this so many times – that the suffering of abuse is part of taking up their cross and God’s will for them. I’ve not seen it so clearly before but it is as you say – salvation by works.
    Thank you.

  4. Aussie

    Thank you for that warning, Mr Crippen. Is that quote from any of the well- known * teachers* out there in evangelicalism? If so, I wonder if you would mind letting us know who said it so we can beware of them? Thank you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Aussie, yes it is from a well known type but It is one I collected long enough ago that I can’t find who exactly said it. But I assure you it is one of those well-known evangelical type “teachers” – that much I do remember.

  5. Innoscent

    Yep, redemptive suffering is a Roman Catholic doctrine. Remember Luther climbin up stairs on his knees… Since all churches have been infiltrated by Jesuit false teachings, we have to be constantly on our guards.

    If suffering was meritious in some way to our own or others’ salvation, then why did Jesus even heal the sick and cast out demons?

    Using the argument of meritious suffering is so convenient to the majority who don’t want to study their Bible, nor do any discerning and disciplining the abuser, and rescuing the abused… Easier to wash their hands and preach to the oppressed their saintly message and continue to mind their own business, you know.


Leave a Reply

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