Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

If A Victim Divorces Her Abuser, She is Going to Hell – Really?

Does that headline sound like a National Enquirer exaggeration?  I wish it were.  I want to give you a summary here of “loving Christian counsel” that was recently given to a victim of 25 years of abuse.  Intense, evil, destructive abuse directed against her and against her children.  It is ongoing.   She has decided to separate.  And this is what her Christian “friends” are telling her.  I will only summarize the points so as, alas, to protect the guilty (but I’m not sure why):

  1. John MacArthur and other prominent pastor/teachers say that God only allows divorce for adultery.  (Actually, this individual misrepresents MacArthur, as MacArthur also allows divorce for literal desertion).  But, no divorce for abuse of any kind.
  2. If you divorce your husband, it will have terrible consequences on your children.
  3. Your children are indeed being hurt now, but this is part of the suffering that Jesus has called you to.
  4. Our purpose as Christians is to suffer, to be crushed, to be brought to nothing.
  5. God has put you (the victim) in this place of abuse so that you can suffer for Him.  It is your “crown” to endure.
  6. If you drop your cross at Christ’s feet and tell Him it is too hard, you will end in hell.
  7. You have a beautiful family and you need to stay there and preserve it.

I will leave the commenting to all of you.  Maybe you could address, in your comments, just how this kind of terrible spiritual abuse could actually lead a suffering victim to kill herself.  Is this person’s God the God of the Bible?  Tell me what you think.
NOTE:  There used to be an excellent related article by Steven Tracy entitled “Domestic Violence in the Church and Redemptive Suffering in 1 Peter”. 


Honor is not about Deserving – Really?


Abusers Expose Themselves: Some Early Warning Signs to Watch for


  1. Jacob

    That makes me sick. Fools. God has called us to be separate from the world. Not to be enslaved. These kind of people are in the church, at work, and in our government. I pray that Christ will return soon and rule with an iron fist. Crush the abusive spirit once and for all.
    1 Corinthians 7:15

    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.

    Deuteronomy 32:43

    “Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.”

  2. Here is a link to a blog post in which I addressed a similar statement by Paige Patterson:


    • Carrie

      “idolatry of the institution of marriage”. YES!!! I have said for years that while I clung to the abuser and the church’s instructions to stay, I was actually worshipping my marriage vows. I was also worshipping religion, not God.
      I am not Southern Baptist, but I know many, and I have found that many do not prescribe to their denomination’s stance on divorce. They were more supportive of me than the people in the PCA church I was a member of when I separated. The PCAers as a whole are the most pharisaical group of people I have ever known. I was one for several years before I saw the light. I literally almost get sick to my stomach when I think about how I was one of them. Now, please know that I am not giving the Baptists a pass, just making an observation.

  3. Veronica Miyake

    Show me in the Bible where God says, “Wives, put up with your husband’s abuse because this is your cross to bear.” We are to suffer for Christ’s sake, not man’s! With that type of thinking, Christian’s should purposefully invite all kinds of evil people to persecute them “so they can be crushed and brought to nothing.” It’s unscriptural and contrary to the character of God. It is an abomination that so-called Christians (more like church goers) put that yoke on a suffering woman. Matthew 15:8-9 “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

  4. Carrie

    SO MUCH IGNORANCE!!! The best thing I EVER did for my children is to leave the abuser. We found a church that loves and accepts us, and my children and I have THRIVED. All three of my children have personal relationships with Jesus Christ and are well-known upstanding young men in their high school and college! Meanwhile, their spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically abusive father wallows in his drunken misery and literally voices his dismay and jealousy at their (and my) success.

    What a twisted, foolish, ill-conceived notion of God this woman’s “counselor” has. Time to turn in the therapist card! Sad and destructive, and actually doing the devil’s work right in plain sight! I am afraid the counselor is acutely mistaken on who will have hell to pay!

    I will pray for this woman and her children! She has taken the only right first step. GET OUT!!! I was told the same things for years, and God finally directed me to a counselor who told me the truth: GET A DIVORCE. This Christian woman who boldly told me what I needed to hear has my utmost respect. Living in the South, one hears evil, twisted interpretations of scripture regularly, and I praise Jesus every day that He opened my eyes and saved me. I WAS suicidal during a very dark time at the beginning of the separation. DON’T GIVE UP. Cling to Jesus, educate yourself, and get out of the dark church/counseling scenario you have been in.

  5. I could wretch.

    What does that pastor’s teaching really impose on the innocents – abused wives and children?

    Jesus said, “Suffer not the children from coming to Me?” But that’s exactly what abuse does. What child growing up in a “Christian” abusive home (which is an oxymoron) would ever want to follow Jesus or even marry for that matter?

    Jesus came to set captives free, not hold us in lifelong bondage. If marriage is ultimately bondage, then why would we ever vow to love, honor and cherish our spouse? Those vows are sacred, and the overt failure to honor them breaks the marriage covenant. At that point, those who are being harmed have every right to allow the wicked man to reap what he has sown.

    Allowing wickedness to reign in our homes does not honor God; it is apostasy. To honor God is to elevate and honor marriage – never bondage.

  6. Lurker

    I’m so glad that Pastor Crippen calls BS on this, and takes the time to explain why it’s horrible in this blog. I’m also glad for the link to Steven Tracy’s document explaining how 1 Peter should only be read by understanding how it was influenced by slave/Christian persecution during 62 AD. I also found Joe Pote’s blog link helpful, very helpful reading of scripture.

  7. Be free…..

    Been through it and don’t care to return to it…… Staying in an abusive marriage will eventually kill you, either the stress turns on your body or the abuser does, or both. Telling someone they must stay in an abusive marriage or they will go to hell is like telling someone they must commit suicide or they will go to hell.…..

  8. Amy

    It’s so ridiculous, almost insufferable to read. “ it’s the leave a bleeding man on the side of the road, so you can get to church on time kind of stupid” Folks so legal and in bondage to self .. lack the common sense of a 4 year old. For Pete’s sake. So are you so bound to the law and in so .. deny the finished work of the cross? So to be clear by your logic or lack there of… One could burn a baby with a cigarette but if he chooses to stay and continue his abuse and refrains from sexual infidelity…. Then by all means .. stay married. Divorce not allowed. Good Grief!!!!!

  9. Susan

    Yes…i was suicidal for nearly all of two years. Had three admissions to psychiatric facilities for (I believe) 90 days over one l-year period. I made 2 attempts and somewhat planned others. I had a series of 12 shock treatments. I virtually deserted my children during this time. This was back in the early 80’s and NO ONE was talking about abuse in any way that would even suggest you should GET OUT and GET AWAY from the abuser!

  10. Jade

    I was JUST told the “but you have a beautiful family!” line by one of the elders in my church! The pastors are more supportive, but I’m not at all sure they would ever support me divorcing my abusive husband, or that they will put him under church discipline.

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