Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Terrible Danger of an Unconverted Ministry

Mat 15:12-14 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (13) He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. (14) Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Listen to this great and absolutely true quote from a true preacher of Christ in Scotland long ago:

A ministry destitute of vital religion is one of the most unnatural of all things and one of the deadliest curses which can light on a Christian body; and to the individual himself it is full of eternal hazard. An unregenerate man, after joining a Christian church, is less likely to be converted than he was previously. If he becomes a student of theology, the probabilities of final unrepentant are tremendously magnified; and if he enters into the function ministry (the pastorate), the hope of his being saved is faint indeed.” [John Brown, Hints to Divinity]

One of the fundamental reasons that false and hurtful counsel is given by a pastor to a victim of abuse is that the pastor is unconverted. This is not always the reason for such malpractice, but it is much more common than we might realize. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day held the people they were supposed to shepherd in spiritual bondage and actually prevented them from finding Christ.

Many pastors of local churches are simply not born again. As a result, the sermons they preach and the counsel they give, are not from the Lord. Such men are not teachable because with out the Spirit of Christ, a person cannot hear Christ’s voice. In fact, that voice is repugnant to such people.

If you have been ordered by a pastor or group of elders that you are not permitted to separate from or divorce a domestic abuser, then there is a very high likelihood that you are being counseled by people who do not know the Lord. Following the blind will only lead you to a pit.

I can remember a time years ago when I had been indoctrinated myself with the tradition of men which only allowed divorce for adultery or desertion. In fact, domestic abuse wasn’t even on my radar. I hadn’t really thought about it that much. But then, one day, the idea popped into my thinking – “aren’t wedding vows actually the subscription to terms of a contract? Isn’t marriage fundamentally a contract entered into before God and witnesses? And if that be the case, then if one party in the contract violates the terms and in reality never had any intention of abiding by them, is not such a contract rendered null and void?”

No one told me this. But the Lord was beginning to work in me to show me that people married to someone who habitually violates the vows he/she took, have a right to be freed from that marriage contract, the contract already having been broken by the other party.

And this is why I maintain that a pastor who persists in clinging to a position which binds an abuse victim to perpetual abuse is very likely not born again at all. Not a Christian at all. But in fact a false shepherd.


RASNs are Stupid – The Lord Says So


RASNs are Fools – Here is a Perfect Example


  1. Margo

    Isn’t marriage supposed to be a reflection of the old covenant that God made with Abraham and the new covenant He made with believers? Therefore, marriage is a covenant and not a contract, isn’t it? I agree that abuse is a reason for divorce, but I don’t believe we are to view marriage as a contract.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Margo – Thank you for the question. If you do a search of Scriptures which use the word “covenant” (the same Hebrew word is behind the translation), you will find that a covenant can be one made by God with man – such as the Mosaic covenant or the New Covenant in Christ – but it is also very often used for agreements made between two people. Contract and covenant are really the same. A marriage in legal terms can be called a covenant or a contract. The vows are the terms of the contract and there are blessings and curses included in those terms. The reason various pastors and Bible teachers have often insisted upon marriage being a covenant is because they then teach that a covenant is unbreakable, whereas a contract – they wrongly insist – is breakable. But this distinction is artificial. David Instone-Brewer’s book on Divorce and Remarriage in the Church is an excellent help in sorting this out. You will find that he uses the term “marriage contract” quite typically and he gives the reasons why.

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