A Cry For Justice

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

The ESV Study Bible Notes Prohibit Divorce for Abuse (Crossway, Wayne Grudem, Editor)

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


In the Biblical Ethics section of my ESV Study Bible, edited by Wayne Grudem, I found the following under the heading, “Are There Other Grounds for Divorce?” (page 2547) –

“In addition to the two grounds of sexual immorality or desertion by an unbelieving spouse, are there any other legitimate, biblical grounds for divorce?  Some interpreters have argued that repeated instances of physical abuse should be seen as an additional legitimate ground for divorce.  Others would respond that many other means should be used to bring the abuse to an immediate halt, including separation (for the eventual purpose of bringing restoration along with the complete cessation of the abuse), church discipline, confrontation and counseling, police action, a court order, and other kinds of intervention by church members, family, and friends.  But these would stop short of adding a reason for divorce that neither Jesus nor Paul specified.”

“Some have argued that a prominent school of rabbinic interpretation in the time of Jesus allowed divorce in cases where a husband did not provide enough material or emotional support to his wife.  This was based on their interpretation of a law concerning a slave woman in Exodus 21:10-11.  Since Jesus did not explicitly correct this view, they argue that he must have allowed the legitimacy of some other kinds of divorces, such as divorce for prolonged, unrepented physical or emotional abuse.  But an argument from what Jesus did not say is of dubious validity, especially since Jesus’ words “whoever divorces his wife” (Matt 19:9) are so extensive in scope to rule out additional exceptions not specified in the Bible itself.”

Let me translate and interpret these paragraphs for you just so everyone is clear – The people who put the ESV study Bible together believe that a man can beat the living &^%$(* out of his wife and she CANNOT divorce him.  He can terrorize her (oh, and note that he gets a free pass the first time he punches her lights out – it has to be “repeated” instances of physical abuse), but she can’t divorce him.  She can separate, but always with the notion of reconciliation in mind.

What really fries my – whatever gets fried in these cases – is the way that these guys present their no divorce for abuse position in such a sneaky and deceitful manner.  “Some interpreters have argued….. Others would respond.”  Hogwash!  Come out and say what you are saying.  The writers of this article are the Others who say no divorce for abuse.

If any readers have quotes from Grudem that clearly define his position on divorce or no divorce for abuse, I would really like to see them if you would attach them to a reply to this post.  I am rapidly coming to the place of totally re-evaluating any and all teachings on the subject of marriage and divorce by any of these well-known people who teach this nonsense.


  1. Cindy Burrell

    Hello, Jeff. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am (maybe “amazed” is a better word) to see a pastor stepping out on this subject. I very recently completed my fourth book entitled, “God Is My Witness: Making a Case for Biblical Divorce.” If you are interested, I will gladly send you a complimentary copy when the paperback version becomes available, which should be within the next couple of weeks.

    Again, thank you for your efforts.

    In Him,

    Cindy Burrell

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Cindy. I sent my address to you via the website. It would be great to read your book. We are finding out that while abuse victims, and the few other Christians who are knowledgeable about abuse, are grateful we are speaking out – that is most certainly not the case with most. We have gotten hammered already for daring to criticize MacArthur, Sproul, Piper and the ESV notes. I believe our conservative, Bible-believing churches have embraced a mountain of tradition in place of Scripture. Couple that with ignorance of the mentality and nature of evil, and you have trouble. At what point did we start making idols out of pastors and teachers who sell a lot of books and pastor large churches? They have become virtually untouchable it would seem.

  2. Glenys Hicks

    Dear Ps Jeff,
    After 25 years of absolute terror… broken bones, cigarette burns. kicking, punching in the stomach when pregnant. rape, hair pulled out by the roots, dislocated jaw and so on, I left and divorced my husband. I did so with my (then) church’s approval because he was an unbeliever and unrepentant. After 4 years by myself I met a godly man and am happily remarried these last 14 years. Some now say that I am living in adultery and divorced unbiblically because my ex didn’t commit adultery….

    If what they say is true, is there hope for me in my relationship with God Who I adore and serve? Is there forgiveness and does God bless and acknowledge my marriage now? If you could please answer me, it would make me feel less confused…. one minute, I feel clean and forgiven then I hear/read another’s opinion and I feel frightened….

    • Jeff Crippen

      Dear Glenys: Thank you for commenting and sharing. There are increasing numbers of us beginning to shout it out loud that the Bible-believing conservative churches we are part of have been teaching man’s tradition in place of God’s Word in many ways, and it is this matter of abuse in marriage that is shining the spotlight on the error. Anyone who is telling you that you are guilty of adultery is either not a Christian OR is totally oblivious to evil. In our zeal to protect the inerrancy and authority of the Word, we have lost our first love. I am a very conservative pastor. Our church is very conservative and we teach and preach right from the Scriptures. We practice church discipline when necessary. But it took a serious incident of abuse in our own church to open our eyes and we have realized that to tell Christians who are abused that they have no right to divorce and remarry is cruel bondage. And we have plenty of Scripture to back it up. Fundamentally, marriage is a covenant. The vows are the terms. Your ex horribly violated those terms and destroyed your marriage, making the covenant null and void. As with most Godly women in those situations, your desire to obey Christ kept you in that marriage for 25 years. Wow! What strength! So not only are you not a second-rate Christian in a second-rate marriage, you are in right standing before Christ and your marriage is holy. Blessings on you both. When the accuser comes, put up your shield of faith and resist. I will be writing a blog post soon on divorce and remarriage so keep an eye out for it and I think it will help you more.

      • Glenys Hicks

        Thank you for those reassuring words. Incidentally, I have had contact with my ex at a family gathering and was able to talk civilly to him. Could I stand to be on my own with him as opposed to an open setting with my (new) husband holding my hand?- absolutely not! But I have forgiven him from my heart, and the meeting proved to be a bittersweet one of regret for something that never was… and joy in the present. Blessings and thanks for answering me so quickly. I will keep reading you blog because healing takes such a long time! Glenys

  3. Dear Glenys, I endorse Jeff’s reply to you. And I know that place where one minute you feel clean and forgiven and the next minute you feel frightened, as I’ve been there too.

    Personally, I found that the way to know for SURE without a shadow of a doubt that it was right in God’s sight for me to divorce my husband was to scour the scriptures for myself. When I discovered that divorce for abuse is NOT a sin at all, and so I didn’t need to be forgiven for it, then I got to a place where I could never be shaken or swept on the winds of other’s doctrines – because I KNOW how and why those doctrines are erroneous. I can explain and prove it beyond doubt from the Word of God itself. If you would like to check out my book Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion you will find my explanation. And be sure to get a copy of Jeff and Anna’s coming book “A Cry for Justice” when it comes out, as it’s going to include a terrific chapter on divorce.

    • Glenys Hicks

      Thank you. Barbara. I will check out your blog. Blessings!


  1. Conservative clergy’s responses to spousal abuse « Churchmouse Campanologist
  2. Wayne Grudem’s Position on Divorce for Abuse – by Jeff Crippen « A Cry For Justice

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