A Cry For Justice

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

No-Divorce-For-Abuse Positions are Self-Destructive

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.

***

As we continue to maintain our position in this blog that God does indeed permit abuse victims to divorce their abuser, we have already heard the accusations against us of “sloppy scholarship,” and demands for us to “engage” our opponents in debate over the nuances of this verse or that passage.  For the most part, we do not believe we need to, nor that we should.  Let me explain why.

Here is a person — a theologian, a pastor, a counselor — who teaches that God does not permit divorce for abuse.  Others teach that God does not permit divorce for any reason at all.  Ever.  And they press these views upon their flocks.  They cite this verse and that verse, they talk about the nuances of this Greek verb or that Hebrew noun.  They loudly demand that we must prove them wrong.  “Show us from the Word of God!” is their cry.

Now, sometimes that is the thing to do.  At one point or another we turn to the Scriptures and study them closely ourselves — and we have done so.  But many times, we simply refuse to do this with these opponents.   Why?  1) Because it does no good.  They won’t hear.  2)  The Lord Jesus refused to do so many times when He was challenged by the Pharisees.  I will give you some examples in a moment, but first –let me tell you what I believe is all we need to do with these people:

  1. Ask them to define and describe “abuse” for us.  Almost none of them will get this right.
  2. Describe in detail a typical story of 20 or 30 years of abuse in a marriage.  Let’s say, for instance, we conclude it with the account of Katherina Allen who, along with her two daughters, was shot by her “husband” recently in Ohio.  Let’s say Katherina survived.
  3. Now, ask our opponents if Katherina has the right before God to divorce this devilish man.
  4. Ask them again, because most likely there will be some hemming and hawing.  “Do you maintain that this woman has a right to divorce this man?”
  5. If the answer is “No, she does not” – then this discussion is over.  “Neither will I answer you” is our response.  Case closed.

And why is the debate over?  Because the no-divorce-for-abuse position is, in the end, self-destructive.  It implodes upon itself because  it leads to ludicrous conclusions that even un-regenerate people with even a dose of common sense realize are insane.

Examples from Jesus:

Mark 7:5-9 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (6) And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (7) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (8) You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (9) And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

See it?  Jesus did not run to engagement with the specific issue they questioned him on.  No, he took them right to the heart of the matter which was their real problem.  They were hypocrites.  They worshiped their own traditions above the Word of God.  Is everyone who disagrees with us on this subject a hypocrite?  No.  Some are simply ignorant of the nature of abuse and they have embraced long-standing and erroneous positions that they were taught.  Others, as they load heavy burdens onto the backs of their people and refuse to raise a finger to help them carry that load — loads they would never carry themselves — certainly do fall into the class of the hypocrite.  Sorry — if the shoe fits….

And again, Jesus takes his questioners somewhere they had no idea He would lead them –

Matthew 22:24-29 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ (25) Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. (26) So too the second and third, down to the seventh. (27) After them all, the woman died. (28) In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” (29) But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

You see, Jesus took them to the greater issues, which they ignored.  Here is another prime example:

Matthew 12:2-7 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (3) He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: (4) how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (5) Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? (6) I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (7) And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Understand?  This is what is required when we have people come to us, insist that we answer their question and prove their position wrong.  We need to realize that we have the higher ground and that is where we need to stand.  The greater thing.  God desires mercy, and not sacrifice.  Go and learn this because in your ignorance you are condemning the guiltless.

Case closed.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve always believed our reason for living is not win some debate or prove others wrong, but to live the truth. When we live in truth, we open a door to the captives.

    It takes courage to speak the truth, knowing it goes against the established dogma of those we once respected, and knowing full well we once clung to those same falsehoods. But if we know, we’ve been enlightened by the Holy Spirit and we refuse to stand and speak due to cowardice, then woe unto us!

    Those who must always be right, who always try to engage the dissenters in some great debate and prove others wrong, *are wrong* before they start even when they may be technically correct. We are to walk together in a spirit of humility, no matter what our learning or position and realize we will never come to a perfect understanding until we see Him face to face and we don’t have that ‘through a glass darkly problem’ any longer 🙂

    Let’s not forget, just like those Pharisees asking about who marries who in the resurrection (and had ulterior motives for doing so), we aren’t talking about aboliting the institution of marriage. We’re actually talking about strengthening it– by holding Christian husbands and wives to a higher standard. The law of love in Christ Jesus. We are not seeking to destroy any one or anything– only to hold a door open that never should have been closed in the first place and acknowelge that, due to sin, marriages do fail. And when they do, there is remedy and freedom for those trapped with their tormenter.

    Perhaps those that try to pick this apart also have ulterior motives? I’ve known some fine men who were geniunely afraid to allow the rabble of common men and women live in freedom for ‘no telling *what* they might do!’ They sincerely love the Lord, yet believe so little in the redemptive power of the cross to keep God’s own children. (May I say that if they are *not* kept, if they fall into gross immorality and leave the church, perhaps they weren’t one of us to begin with?) They do not believe that believers can handle freedom, so they keep men and women in bondage through fear. Well for goodness sake! The Lord is well able to keep His own.

    Others seek control and that is a dangerous thing– over their own wives and children, their own brothers and sisters in Christ. These are the wolves in sheeps clothing, twisting truth to fit their own purposes and teaching others to do the same. I sincerely believe *this* is the root of the ‘no divorce no matter what doctrine.

    And still others are passive, want approval from authority and do not want to be bothered by searching out the scriptures and seeking God’s face on the subject. They have better things to do. These follow man, not God whether they realize it or not.

    Christians are known by their love, not their great debate skills.

  2. J. Ann

    Thank you Jeff and Ida Mae for your perceptive insights.

  3. Jeff said above: At one point or another we turn to the Scriptures and study them closely ourselves — and we have done so. But many times, we simply refuse to do this with these opponents. Why? 1) Because it does no good. They won’t hear. 2) The Lord Jesus refused to do so many times when He was challenged by the Pharisees.

    I challenge any person who thinks that divorce is not permitted for domestic abuse to read my book. (And yes, fellas, that means you might have to get over your prejudice about women being allowed to write books on doctrine.) After you’ve read it, and weighed my arguments fairly and objectively, as you would a man’s, if you still think divorce is not allowed for abuse then put your case and demonstrate it from the scriptures. But hear me: I’m not interested in anyone who puts their case in a way that shows they’ve not read or engaged conscientiously with the arguments in my book. I presented arguments to refute the traditional array of objections, and any serious debater must engage with what I’ve argued, not just trot out the hackneyed explanations over again without demonstrating where and why I am wrong.

    And for those who would rather blow off this challenge, doesn’t that rather point to the fact that you won’t hear, as Jeff says?
    And wouldn’t that indicate that you are riding on tradition rather than solid biblical exegesis?
    And might it not suggest that you may be one of those whom Ida Mae alludes to when she says Others seek control and that is a dangerous thing– over their own wives and children, their own brothers and sisters in Christ. … I sincerely believe this is the root of the “no divorce no matter what” doctrine.

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