A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Books and Articles for Our Readers to Review/Critique

WARNING: We are NOT recommending the books on the following list. In most cases, exactly the opposite. In addition, we would not necessarily advise an abuse victim who is still in the early stages of “sorting out” the deceptive evil of abuse to read these books and write reviews.

Barbara Roberts compiled the following list of books, articles and programs that we would all benefit from critiquing through the perspective of abuse. Some are really, really bad, others may not be bad, but it would be helpful to hear from you what you think. As most of you already know, Christian women who are being abused, very often seek out these kinds of “Christian” books in their search for the answer about how to fix their marriage. And, as you know, typically the search is worse than futile – it actually enables the abuser. So, if you pick one of these to review, put your review on the blog as a reply to this list. If the thread gets way too long and unwieldy, we can perhaps take some of the longer reviews and make them a post of their own.

A few suggestions as to what could be critiqued:

The Divorce Dilemma: God’s Last Word on Lasting Commitment by John MacArthur

Pastoral Responses to Domestic Violence by Powlinson, Tripp and Welch [This link is broken and we were unable to find its replacement. Editors.]

The Bible Teaching about Spousal Abuse [Internet Archive link]

This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

Why Me? — Comfort for the Victimised by David Powlinson

Living with an Angry Spouse: Help for Victims of Abuse, by Edward Welch

Shame Lifter: Replacing your Fears and Tears with Forgiveness, Truth and Hope by Marilyn Honz

How to Rise Above Abuse by June Hunt

Any thing at all on Co-Dependence (can of worms, that one!)

Celebrate Recovery Curriculum by Rick Warren and John Baker – one of our readers has kindly sent us some info about this, so I’ve made it into a new post (click here).

I Don’t Want A Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage by David and William Clark

Desperate Wives: Help and Hope for Women Considering Separation or Divorce by Brenda Clayton

Spousal Abuse and Marital System, based on the Prepare-Enrich Program, a research paper by Shuji Asai and David Olsen  Spouse Abuse & Marital System Based on Enrich [Internet Archive link]  [this is not for the faint-hearted: it’s academic and you’d need to do some background reading on the Prepare-Enrich program]

Divorce Care Divorce Care [Internet Archive link]  I’m not familiar with their material in depth. They may deal well with domestic abuse, so you may end up commending more than critiquing their stuff.

Focus on the Family resources, for example:
The Chain of Command in Marriage [Internet Archive link]

Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson

Ligon Duncan on divorce: http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/Divorce-Grounds-Prevention-Coping-Recovery  [This link is broken and we were unable to find its replacement. Editors.] and Elephant Room 2: Live-Blog Session 6 [Internet Archive link]

Solving Marriage Problems by Jay Adams

For Better or Best: Understand Your Man by Gary Smalley

Fireproof (the Movie) and The Love Dare book

The True Woman by Susan Hunt

Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman

What’s Submission Got To Do With It? by Cindy Easley (if ever a book deserved the label “pulp fiction” it would be this one!)

Created to be his Help Meet by Debi Pearl (pulp non-fiction, I’m sorry to say. This lady is seriously deceived.)

Marriage Miracle – The 7 Struggles That Destroy Christian Marriages & How to Overcome Them by Morgan Avery

How to Fight for your Marriage with Bible Verses (Christian Spiritual Warfare) by Miriam Kinai

Why Christian Men Need Hot Wives and Great Sex: Understanding How God Wired Men and What Even Godly Men Need by Barry Franklin

The 10 Commandments of Marriage: The Do’s and Don’ts for a Lifelong Covenant by Ed Young and Beth Moore

Before the Last Resort: 3 Simple Questions to Rescue Your Marriage by George Kenworthy

Divorce Busting: A Revolutionary and Rapid Program for Staying Together by Michele Weiner Davis

A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, Savanna McCain and Milt Bryan

I Have a Plan: A Pastor’s Guide to Counseling Troubled Marriages


  1. Laura

    This list is so disheartening to me. Most of these are all well-respected authors, theologians, pastors, etc. Especially the crew from CCEF. They are counselors, are they not? Why don’t they get it? Makes me crazy, I tell you. When men like this speak and write so adamantly against divorce–or even separation–in the circumstance of abuse (especially anything OTHER than physical abuse), it makes me want to dig me a whole and hide. When our church leaders (especially those in Reformed circles) will not acknowledge or do not acknowledge that there is a massive problem with abuse, it’s hard to hope, let alone have any confidence that we are understood, cared for, or even heard–really heard–by those who are shepherding our flocks. No wonder I stayed where I was. It was terrifying to make a choice to leave when I have the likes of Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, and other giants of the modern-day church against me. It makes for a distorted, confusing picture of God–one I am still trying to see clearly. And it makes me waffle–daily, even hourly–on my decision to leave. This is hard stuff. I don’t think I’m quite ready to thoroughly read any of these “resources” and review them–too waffley just yet. It’s easy to believe this stuff…don’t we, as the abused, already tell ourselves that we are the ones who are guilty, we haven’t tried hard enough, we just need to be more patient, we must forgive and forgive and forgive again? These just play into the doom we already feel. And I’ll be the first to say, it doesn’t work. Jeff, what made you get it when so many other pastors don’t? My dad is a pastor and his living through this hell of mine (and being a direct target of my husband at one point) has forced him to stare abuse in the face and answer very hard questions that don’t jive with the standard answers to “marriage problems.” He was one who would have echoed all of these men…until he lived it and saw his own daughter disintegrating into a numb, identity-less, crushed non-person. Now we all just wrestle constantly to know what God’s heart is in all of this.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Laura- Wow, thank you for your words. Yes, it is disheartening as we realize how widespread the problem is. And the problem is this – our conservative, Bible-believing churches and pastors have been and still are teaching that a woman cannot divorce for abuse. Not for being beaten. Not for being terrorized by the numbing, deceiving evil of verbal and emotional abuse. And in my opinion a lot of the responsibility for this injustice has to go right back to the “big-shots” who are doing all the big seminars and writing all the books and disseminating this stuff. Your father sounds exactly like me. I have loved John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul for years. I still do in many ways. But I have been awakened to the evils of abuse and now that I know they teach what they teach, I am very, very saddened and, yes, angry.

      How did I wake up to abuse? Well, I was a police officer for 13 years before becoming a pastor. That experience has helped. But primarily, the Lord put me through the wringer as a pastor for nearly 30 years and for most of that time I was attacked by abusive people in the churches I pastored. I didn’t understand what was really going on. We disciplined many of them, but I wore all kinds of false guilt from their accusations. I had self-doubt. I wanted to quit many times. I was confused – some of them even had me apologizing to them. But then, about 3 years ago, an incident of sexual abuse of a child occurred. It is a long story. We suffered much. By God’s grace we effected justice against the perpetrator and for the victim and her family. And that is when I began to read. I read about sexual abuse. And I read about domestic violence abuse. And I DID NOT read Christian authors. I read secular therapists and I can tell you, the lights began to come on for me as I realized that all of the abuse I had experienced was strikingly similar to what domestic violence abuse victims endure. Something clicked in my brain and I saw the thing. I knew that I had met evil and had finally become wise to its schemes, just as Scripture says we are to be. And I began to preach on this evil from the pulpit and expose it as a clear example of the very nature and psychology of sin. Abuse victims started finding the sermon series at sermonaudio.com/crc and they would contact me thanking me over and over again. Anna was one of them and eventually we decided to throw our hats in the ring and write A Cry for Justice, which we hope is just about ready to go off to the publisher.

      And that’s my story. I would love to hear from your father. It sounds to me like he is waking up just like I did. Evil has touched your lives and, as I have come to say, the nature and tactics of abuse put our theology to the test. If what we are teaching and preaching leads us to the conclusion that the abuser is a Christian, or that a wife must stay married to him – then our theology needs a long, hard look. Blessings to you in Christ, Jeff

    • Summer

      Dear Laura,
      I so appreciated your comment! Pastor Crippen’s response and Barb’s!. I’m glad you have your family, all of you have family support to walk with you.
      Thank you for this list.
      Reading this blog is like living in a maze of mirrors, horrific (when it should be good) having things finally given a label and validated (so I keep on reading). Horrific because I don’t know where to go from here or what to do with the knowledge as I am still powerless against all the legal lies and maneuverings. People say God is of order not chaos, then why in 2000 years does no one know how to deal with all this evil any better than we are still struggling to understand, as you said, “God’s heart in all of this”.
      Pastor Crippen, how did the 21 sermons and knowing that help you? When I read them, I can be peaceful inside. The minute I put down the Bible, I struggle. Yet I can’t keep it open 24/7.

  2. I am nearly weeping with joy at reading your comment Laura (and Jeff’s response). We victim-survivors have been kept hidden for so long, and now a male Christian, and a pastor no less, is taking up our cause! It is mind-boggling. It is game-changing. The cascading will go on and on. May it sweep the broom of Truth through the church and expose the falsehoods and the abusers as it goes!
    Laura: even if you don’t feel up to doing a considered critique of any of those materials, you could just share a small quote from one of them, followed by a few words telling how it made you feel ( Aargh! Ouch! Sob! Help! would be adequate if you can’t be more articulate) and a sentence or two explaining why it impacted you that way.

    I believe the church needs to understand the experience of the abused spouse, and what better place to start than tell how this toxic teaching impacts us. I love God. I love His Word. I love biblical doctrine. And I hate wrong doctrine especially when it injures the vulnerable.

  3. Barnabasintraining

    Do you only want reviews from abuse survivors or can “Barnabas’ in training” do it too?

    There is one on the list I might want to take a shot at, if you’d like.

    • Jeff Crippen

      No, go for it! It will be great to hear your review.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Great! Will do.

  4. Isaiah40:31

    I recently took the Divorce Care course, and my friend took it just this year. We are both victims of abusive marriages. I would only give the curriculum about a C+. It has some good things; but when it came to the chapter on abuse, I believe the video said that abuse is not always a reason to leave a marriage, and that reconciliation is possible after seeking safety. I felt that was dangerous teaching, because it might cause someone to go back to the abuse. Or if the church facilitators for the class were in the “it’s only abuse if it’s physical abuse” school of thought, they might encourage someone to go back to an abusive situation. I don’t recall any hardline condemnation against abuse, just a few lightweight comments. I would recommend this course with extreme caution. There are some other helps, such as budgeting, but the person would need to be wise enough to take what helps and leave the rest.

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