A Cry For Justice

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

Abuse and the Wilsonian Theology: A Survivor’s Story

[January 5, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

The following post is written by one of our readers who has told her story on this blog previously. After we learned that she had been “counseled” by the father of Douglas Wilson, we asked her if she would tell of that experience here. As you will see, just about every misapplication of Scripture to a case of abuse is illustrated right here by a man who was a pastor. [January 5, 2023: We reformatted Jim Wilson’s note to make the Scriptures quoted stand out, add the Bible translation used, and make a minor correction, which we noted after the Scripture quoted. Editors.]


Jim Wilson is, in a way, a front-runner of Biblical or Nouthetic counseling. Jim (now in his 80s) and wife, Bessie, birthed Doug Wilson, the hyper-controversial theologian, pastor and writer of many books, most notably, books on marriage. Doug is also a master debater. His wife writes books on homemaking….

I first met Jim when I was three. He led my father and my grandfather to Christ. This post is a difficult post because Jim had a tremendous impact on my life and family. There are things I learned from him that I carry around to this day. There are also things I learned from him that haunt me and make me sick to think about.

I first called him when I tried to leave my abusive marriage for the first time. I had been married for nine years. Because of Jim (and a few others – but mostly Jim) I stayed in my marriage two more agonizing years as things disintegrated badly. Jim was well aware of what my ex-husband was doing to me. The first thing I remember about Jim is that he assumed I was the problem immediately. I believe it took 6 – 8 months (and a lot of my husband “leaking” his abuse to Jim) for Jim to realize that Dan was “not a nice man”. But, even then, he convinced me to repent of my “bitterness”….or “anger”….or whatever “sin” of which I was guilty — and threw me back in. This probably happened two dozen times.

I think the most striking, over-arching memory I have of Mr. Wilson, is a pure lack of compassion. I remember crying into the phone (sobbing, rather) and saying, “Dan doesn’t love me. He doesn’t even know how.” To which Mr. Wilson replied, “Well, you don’t have to make it hard for him.” Other times, he would say that I “must respect” my husband. And, if I didn’t, I was “in sin”. Considering the fact that my husband was abusive, neglectful and a pornographer, I had a difficult time respecting him. This was held over my head time and time again. It was ALWAYS MY “bitterness” or MY “anger” or MY “hurt” and I was made to feel selfish….I don’t know how many times 1 Peter chapter 3 was read to me….along with other Scriptures about how we are not to divorce. My husband would corner me, beat me down emotionally for hours, or physically abuse me. Three out of four times, I was “godly” — meaning, I would take it. I would not respond. That fourth time, I would break down, or cry, or yell back (never a good decision; only made things worse). Whenever that fourth time happened, I was condemned by both my husband and Jim. I have NEVER had any sort of darkness, confusion or break-downs since I left my ex-husband over a year ago.

To his credit, Mr. Wilson eventually saw that Dan was abusive. He then decided that Dan was “not saved” and he led him to the Lord six times (no exaggeration here — literally, Dan “got saved” six times). Each time, Dan would be sweet for a few days but then could not keep up the façade. My hope was dashed over and over as I tried to pick up and move forward again.

There were two horrible times where I would go into a very dark emotional coma….where I was paralyzed with hopelessness and a complete misunderstanding of God’s will for my life. Dan was abusive and confusing and I simply could not press on anymore. According to Jim, this was my lot. With no parents or family who loved me, I was destined to be an unloved abused woman for the rest of my life. And God was good with this (so I thought). During these “comas”, Jim would encourage me to “confess my sin”….after all, it was my “sin” that put me in those very dark places.

I spent hours searching the blogs of the Wilson family….I looked at a blog called “Femina” — Doug’s wife, Nancy wrote it. I asked for her help. I saw that other women did, too. So, Nancy wrote a blog called “A Respectful Wife”.  It was there that I began to recognize the merciless philosophy of this family. Nancy wrote these words regarding women who simply cannot respect their husbands. And I quote: “Now some women will say, ‘I refuse to do that. My husband is not worthy of such treatment.’ Then why did you marry him?” It doesn’t work like that, Nancy. Abusive men are manipulators. Where, oh where, is a heart of compassion?

Here is a sample of a note Jim Wilson sent me after I left my husband. I tried with Jim….I really did. I thought he was helping me….thought he COULD help me….  Here is his note and my response:

Dear _______ ,

I was awake in the middle of the night thinking about you and praying for you. You know that for years I have been on Dan’s case weekly and sometimes daily. I am well aware of how he has treated you and how you have responded to this treatment. You have been very vocal about it. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” [Paraphrase of Luke 6:45  NIV1984.] You have been telling everyone of what is in your heart. You have been more conscious of what has been done to you than you have been conscious of what you have been doing to yourself. You do not seem to be aware that you are telling people more about yourself than you think. I think you have a sensitive conscience. You must be very unhappy. Here are a few pieces of Scripture as I think of them.

Love is not easily angered:

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,  (1 Corinthians 13:5  [NIV1984])

Love does not keep a record of wrongs:

It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7  [NIV1984, although the actual quote is from 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 in the NIV1984. Editors.])

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  (Ephesians 4:26-7  [NIV1984])

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Ephesians 4:31  [NIV1984, although the actual quote is from Ephesians 4:31-32 in the NIV1984. Editors.])

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”….”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  (Matthew 18:21-22, 35  [NIV1984])

Forgiveness is not related to the other person repenting.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matthew 6:14-15  [NIV1984])

We have talked about 1 Peter 3. It is really about 1 Peter 2:21:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  [NIV1984]

It is being like Jesus. It is not by keeping quiet, but having a “meek and quiet spirit.” For all I know, you may have kept quiet. But, since I have known you, you have not had a meek and quiet spirit. You have shared your spirit with me many times. You have wanted me to speak to Dan many times and it may be having an effect through the Spirit of God. Your joy has to do with you, not with Dan.

You know I love you and the kids. I would love to see you.

With Love in Christ,

Your Substitute Grandfather

My response:

Dear Jim, I have ascertained that a true grandfather-like figure would have sought my protection and made moves for the kids’ and my safety. I went to you first. I was looking for help, wisdom, protection and comfort. I could not find that with you. You kept me with Dan, despite how you knew he was treating me. Since you insist on pursuing me to bring me back to oppression, I have determined that your voice is no longer valid and I desire that you leave me alone. I am uncomfortable with your pursuits. Please do not contact the kids or me again. Thank you, _________

Indeed, Jim Wilson has not been a gentleman — he has not left me alone. I have moved four times in the past year (out of financial duress) and he has found my address every time. He still sends me letters, books, sermons. I cannot seem to get away from the man. I believe that, at the end, Jim Wilson would have taken the kids and me in….but he would have insisted on reconciliation with a monster of a man….and NEVER would have allowed for divorce or any child-custody hearings.

If I could sum up the Wilson philosophy in one sentence, it would be: “Thorough Wilsonian theology; zero mercy and zero compassion.” This is not how Christ was. This is not how Christ is. Praising Him that, despite my lack of discernment when it came to counsel, God still found a way to rescue the children and me. Because He is, after all, the greatest Deliverer we could ever know.

[January 5, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to January 5, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (January 5, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Barnabasintraining

    That account is alarmingly familiar.

    • no name please


  2. Jeff S

    “. . . this was my lot.”

    Yes- I remember the speech that my situation was no different than missionaries being tortured for their faith. Some people are called to suffer.

    The difference is, no one goes into a marriage anticipating suffering- not on the order of what a tortured missionary is prepared to do, and not at the hand of the one person who should be trustworthy above all. If this really is what permanence folks believe about marriage, we need to change the marriage vows to include “I promise to allow you to torture me.” If that’s not part of the marriage vows, don’t go back and tell someone 10 years later it was. Let’s be upfront about this teaching rather than pulling a bait and switch.

    I will suffer for God. Though he slay me I will trust him. But I will trust no man to call me to suffer- if God wants me to die for my faith, I trust He will make it clear what He wants. When in scripture does anyone call someone else to suffer, especially suffering the “caller” isn’t experiencing?

    I remember looking at the elder (after a few months of this kind of talk) and saying “you’d better be right about this, because if you are wrong you are calling people to suffer at YOUR pleasure, not God’s. And you ARE wrong.”

    • Bila

      Thank you for this – that this is man calling us to suffer, not God.

    • anewfreelife

      Yep, I, too, was told by an elder, “All you may have to show (for in life) is your suffering.”

  3. Lynette D

    That shows how much marriage has become an idol in the church. I’d write a cease and desist letter, and if he doesn’t obey, sue for harassment. He is trying to keep you locked up in his fantasy world…makes me wonder about his own control (or abusiveness) issues. Which might be good for another topic someday…(Are Pastors Who Promote Staying in Abusive Marriages Abusing Their Own Wives?)

    • Jes

      I was thinking the same thing!

    • mlieder

      What is a cease and desist letter? Looking into it now. Thank you, Lynette.

      • Lynette D

        Its a formal written request for him to stop contacting you. Best to send it certified also. That way you have a record of it if he doesn’t stop.

      • mlieder

        Thank you, Lynette. I will proceed.

    • anewfreelife

      I’ve thought the same thing! I eagerly await seeing that topic addressed!

  4. no name please

    I don’t think he saw Dan was abusive…he saw he did abusive things. I think people like Mr. Wilson and my counselor and others see it as separate instances rather than patterns and daily behavior/ addiction to control. They think abusers think, reason, understand like they do so they just have to say enough of the right things to get them to understand rather than abusers think about the entire world different, entirely different filter than normal people with empathy.

    • Barnabasintraining

      I’m not sure about that, NNP.

      The situation our victim is in, TPTB do know perfectly well the abuser is indeed an abuser and is unrepentant. The primary person attempting to work with him does not have the wool pulled over his eyes on this and neither does at least one of the others.

      However, this has not stopped them from holding the victim responsible for failing to reconcile irrespective of the abuser’s repentance. This is something of a new twist due to newer circumstances. At least, I had not heard it before recently but some of the players involved have changed. At present our victim is being accused of failure to forgive, just as Wilson did to Mlieder.

      Really, what was said to Mlieder is so shockingly similar to the kind of thing I’m hearing against our victim, they could have almost come from the same source. I know they did not, at least not directly. But I do have to consider that these people are all drinking out of the same well.

    • Anonymous

      Hmm, interesting. I think that applied in my case too. Initially, church leaders were impressed by him. After a while, they began to see unacceptable behavior, which some were willing to term abusive. (I was, however, perplexed, when an elder, who tried to call him out on his behavior, said that emotional abuse was in the eyes of the beholder – what does that even mean?) Fortunately, some of my church leaders supported my decision to separate and stuck by me, but I am not sure that they would be comfortable calling him abusive. Immature, to be sure, but not abusive. Unfortunately, those who were not familiar with our case were targeted by him and THOSE are still blinded and have not even begun to see the abuse.

      But I think you may be right – a policeman I once spoke to seemed to think that he did abusive things, but we should have been able to work things out as reasonable people do, and he tried to give advice, even about the kids and healing their relationship with their dad. Wish someone could tell him that he is a police officer, not a psycho-therapist.

  5. Anonymous

    What an awful thing to have survived! What these helpers don’t realize is how much they add to the abuse and hinder recovery. Maybe one day they will.

  6. Laurie

    This type of (choke) “theology” comes from the same place. You can look into almost any church and find the sheds of this snake there. Mostly, it is the fulfillment of the warning to women pronounced by God in Eden after the fall. And men have used this since the beginning to say that this is the “curse” (verbage absentia in scripture, btw) God pronounced on women and that they are the keepers of her gate, to make sure she gets saved through childbirth (i.e.; thou shalt have lots of children). I have 5 living and 2 with Jesus, I am not against large families (love them!), but some women can’t have children…so if this is your “theology” for salvation, then these women are chosen to never be saved, right? (Not)

    The pronouncement? Your desire will be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. The misapplication? Teshuqa means turning, not desire. When you turn to your husband (away from God), he will rule over you (not he “shall” or “must” but that he will take this advantage over you…this is his weakness, and yours, woman). Check out the online book, “God’s Word To Women” at a .org site with the same name, written by Katherine Bushnell. Her etymology of teshuqa is really well done.

    This is not “us against the men” but this is truth verses tradition. One of the big deceptions is that the safety for the woman is under the headship (or supreme authority) of her husband, that that is the only place that God will accept her. So…just WHY then, did Jesus have to shed His precious blood? Because surely man can effect salvation for woman through ruling her and having lots of babies. Its wrong theology, it is man-centered and not Christ-centered.

    And I could go on, about how Martha believed this wrong theology and went to Jesus to force him, through her complaint of her sister, to enforce this ruling on Mary. And Jesus replied…”Mary has CHOSEN the better part, and it WILL NOT be taken from her.”

    Choose the better part, sisters. Choose the better part, brothers. Choose to sit at the Master’s Feet!!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Laurie – Nice job. Hey, by the way, the theology of men effecting salvation for women through ruling and keeping her pregnant is….hmmmmm….Mormonism!!

      • Laurie

        Touche’ 😉

    • Just Me

      Laurie – Beautiful. Thank you.

    • mlieder

      I love that, Laurie! Thank you!

    • anewfreelife

      Nicely said, Laurie!

    • Song

      You stated that so well. And I really liked the “This is not “us against the men” but this is truth verses tradition.”

  7. Anon

    You beat me to the punch ! I was going to say that that type of theology is Mormon , not Christian .. Seems like false teaching is worming its way through our churches and harming people in numerous ways .

  8. Joyce

    I heard the same scriptures and arguments from my own pastor, who had no qualms about a wife enduring bad treatment by her husband. His favorite scripture was the one about a soft answer turns away wrath. How is it that one can be tormented and tormented and finally lose their temper and then it all becomes their fault? Once after a long discussion where I let him and his wife know what I was living through, he said “Well, muslim women live like that.” ??? I finally left my husband when my daughter told me of sexual abuse. So that made it all okay with that pastor for me to leave.

    Years before that though, I searched for a marriage counselor and finally found one who sounded very Christian and went to see him. He listened to my accounts of repeated abuse toward me and my children. Then he proceeded to tell me how I could save my marriage – and he guaranteed it would work. His key phrase was “humility”. Humiliation would have been a more accurate term. So I went home and asked the Lord if I should submit to abuse. I heard very clearly “You don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Seriously?? He said Muslim women live like that as if that was actually OK??? So now we look to the Muslim world for marriage advice??

      One of the Jewish Rabbis from the 1200s or so took issue with the Jews that treated their wives badly, saying they act like the Ishmaelites and no such thing should be named among the Jews. Needless to say, he supported divorce for abuse.

      “You don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Very apropos.

    • Laurie

      I think about what a mother of a friend of mine said; “Jesus turned the other cheek, but He also turned over tables.” One is not exclusive of the other, you can’t only turn the cheek or, like my mother said, “You get punch drunk.” You can’t always turn over tables, because then where is grace and mercy?

      There is a time for both.

      Joyce, that is too high a price to pay for somebody else’s sins (children sacrificed). God, over and over and over in scripture, doesn’t ask us to make our children pay for iniquities. Yet that is the only ticket that most church people will accept. Check out scriptures and see how many times that satan produced mass destruction of the children from the hearts of wicked men…and see what God has to say about it. (He never thought to ask for child sacrifices, never came into His mind. This one is purely human.)

      Love it, btw, “You don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Just like Him! 🙂

  9. Martin

    There’s a comment in this post which I contend may be at the heart of a multitude of issues in churches today: The comment:

    If I could sum up the Wilson philosophy in one sentence, it would be: ‘Thorough Wilsonian theology; zero mercy and zero compassion.’ This is not how Christ was.

    It gives me great joy when I witness the direction of the Holy Spirit. Such is the case as this victim longed from within for the Character of Christ’s mercy and not the advice of a man.

    The Gospel of Matthew opened my own eyes to the merciful character of Jesus Christ in Biblical interpretation. How could Jesus, who declared to Satan that man should live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4), at the same time denounce the Pharisees repeatedly for their (seemingly Scriptural) harsh treatment of others? After studying at length Matthew 9:13, 12:7, and 23:23, the issue became oh so clear to me. It is vitally important to recognize, first and foremost, that Jesus did not admonish those Pharisees for attempting to follow Scripture in faith and life. He never said, “you shouldn’t have trusted Scripture as your guide to life,” or even anything similar. Scripture is a reliable and faithful guide to life within God’s will here on earth.

    Jesus did, however, admonish their lack of understanding of mercy. In Matthew, we find this to be a clear litmus test of Biblical interpretation – the mercy requirement of Hosea 6:6 and Micah 6:8. You will find the word “mercy” 276 times in literal translations, and 12 times in the Epistle to the Romans alone. Study mercy in the original Hebrew and Greek and you will understand one of the most important Character traits of our Lord. Without mercy, no interpretation of Scripture stands. Interpret the Bible with mercy and you will walk in His will. Outside of the character reflected in His mercy, all interpretations are no better than those of the blind Pharisees.

    Thank God that this woman, through the Holy Spirit, was guided to seek God’s mercy as revealed in Christ and not the advice of a blind guide like Wilson. Wilson’s own unmerciful interpretations of Scripture reveal the insidious evil of his “Biblical” advice.

    Too many blind Pharisees like Wilson still run “Bible Believing Churches” and “Christian Counseling Centers” today.

    Seek mercy in Christ, and you will find it.

    For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13 NASB1995)

    • Bila

      For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (NASB1995)

      Reminds me that at one point, my “pastor” told me that “mercy” for my ex- triumphed over “justice” for me (and the children). So even this can be used to abuse – “mercy” was used in a sense that implied “no consequences.”

      That was the day I walked out of church.

      • That pastor’s interpretation was diabolical!
        “Get behind me Satan” is the only thing to say to such a man. You did well to walk out.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Martin- this is excellent! I might even quote you in my sermon this week, as I am preaching a series on the religion of the Pharisees and how it brings us into bondage through its power and control abuse. And it is abuse fundamentally because, as you have nailed it here, it is merciless. It takes God’s Word and applies it without mercy. I think this is why, over the years as a pastor, I have often felt that sick, knotted feeling in my gut when some Pharisee has come up and preached at me, trying to control me. I see it now. I felt that way because instinctively I knew that here was a person in front of me that was merciless. Who would show me no quarter if I differed from his “company line” theology and if I failed to pronounce his shibboleths correctly. I contend that this leaven of the Pharisees has spread through all of our conservative, Bible-believing churches like the black plague, and that we are in bondage to it far, far more than we realize. Thanks again for your great insights here.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Martin – One more thought from what you said. Is this the explanation then of Jesus’ words here:

      Matthew 23:1-7 ESV
      (1) Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
      (2) “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,
      (3) so practice and observe whatever they tell you–but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
      (4) They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
      (5) They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
      (6) and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues
      (7) and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

      Verse 3 really never made much sense to me before. Why would Jesus tell the people to observe what the scribes and Pharisees tell them if they were false teachers? I think the answer is that they actually accurately read/announced the written letter of the law of Moses. But when it came to applying it, they were merciless, self-seeking, and loved to find little “end runs” around the law in order to benefit themselves.

      • Martin

        Jeff –

        Thanks for the feedback and encouragement.

        With respect to Matthew 23:3, I agree completely that there is still a call to observance here and see clear support for that view in the text. As you suggest, it is a call to rightful observance of the Law in life – not that hypocritical self-serving observance which is like the prideful Pharisees (vv. 4-7).

        John Calvin, with respect to 23:2-3, wrote that “Our Lord gives a general exhortation to believers to beware of conforming their life to the wicked conduct of the scribes, but, on the contrary, to regulate it by the rule of the Law which the hear from the mouth of the scribes.”

        I also agree that the lack of mercy displayed by the Pharisees to others is predominant in Matthew 23, especially given that Matthew 23:23 drives that point home so vividly.

        Thanks, again, for your fellowship and service to our Lord.

        In Christ,


      • Jeff Crippen

        Which means then that WE who emphasize (rightly so) the importance of careful, expositional preaching and teaching of God’s Word, are perhaps in the greatest danger of embracing the religion of the Pharisees. Here is an example from the sermon I am going to preach tomorrow –

        Let me give you some very real, practical examples of this leaven in practice today among us, so we can better appreciate the danger to us and also so that we can see just how easily we can end up being snared by it.
        This past week I was looking over an application form for a typical conservative, evangelical denomination. Pastoral candidates are required to fill it out and I was reviewing it for someone who asked me to do so. It was very revealing.

        What kinds of questions would you ask someone who was applying for a pastoral position in your church? Well, as noble as we might think that our motives would be in posing such questions, the fact is that we are often very much like the Pharisees in their questioning of Jesus. They immediately ran to the “hot topics” of their day, all the while ignoring what Jesus called the “weightier” matters that God is most concerned with – like showing mercy.

        Here are some of the questions asked of these candidates:

        1. Have you or your wife ever been divorced?
        2. What is your plan for church growth?
        3. What is your preference of worship style?
        4. What are your convictions on tongues and sign gifts?
        5. What are your convictions and pastoral practice relating to divorce and remarriage?
        6. Under what circumstances could a divorced person hold a leadership position? (Never; all the time; special circumstances).
        7. Under what circumstances would you perform a marriage for divorced people? (Never; all the time; special circumstances).
        8. What are your convictions on the use of alcoholic beverages?
        9. What are your convictions concerning eschatology?
        10. What is your view of the role of women in the local church?
        11. What is your understanding of God’s view of salvation? Do you hold to limited atonement or unlimited atonement?
        12. What is your view on the security of the believer?

        Matthew 12:1-2 ESV
        (1) At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
        (2) But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

        Matthew 9:10-11 ESV
        (10) And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. (11) And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

        Matthew 19:3 ESV
        (3) And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

        Do you see the parallel to what we do? We develop our traditions and call them the Word of God. We test one another by them. These Pharisees would run up to Jesus and put their “hot buttons” before Him, and that is precisely what this pastoral candidate form is doing. Right along with (and really to an even greater degree) questions about doctrine and biblical practice in the pastoral ministry, this interrogation peppers candidates with the real agenda issues! Frankly, most professing Christians don’t care that much about justification by faith alone. What they want to know is what a man’s view on divorce is, or if he holds to 24 hour creation days, or what his position is on the do’s and don’ts for women in the church. The candidate can be solid. He can be a person with a true heart for Christ. But woe to him if his eschatology differs from the company line, or if his opinion on music style is not in alignment with his questioners.

        It is a grievous state of affairs we find ourselves in. We have not been watchful.

        Are these subjects unimportant? No. They all have importance and relevance. It still is an issue of some weight to think through how we are to conduct ourselves on the Lord’s Day, for example. So the subjects themselves are not the problem. The problem is the traditions we develop in regard to these topics, those traditions then being equated with God’s Word when in fact they are opposed to the very spirit of God’s Word. Make no mistake. The people who designed this pastoral candidate questionnaire already have their answers to these questions – that is really the very reason the questions are asked in the first place! So just imagine the candidate wrestling through these dilemmas: “Well, if I say my position is amillennial, they will reject me. If I say “a blend of traditional and contemporary music styles” one party might be offended. And they won’t show me any mercy!”

      • 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.


        Martin and Jeff, thanks for your conversation here! So good. I’m looking forward to hearing that sermon on SermonAudio, Jeff.

    • Lynette D

      Problem is they are giving the abusers mercy and not the victims. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve have heard ‘never say a bad word about your husband’ or ”talking to anyone about your husband (if he does something you think is wrong) is gossip.’

      • Martin

        Agreed, Lynette. You make a very good point.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Yep. I’ve heard that one myself many a time.

        Never saying anything bad about your husband can be quite the misrepresentation of him if there’s really nothing good to say about him either.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Lynette: Yes, that is a common and standard line laid upon wives. I’ve heard it over and over and over. It is totally bogus. Abigail is living proof of that, and every woman married to a Nabal today needs to feel no need to hide the fact that she is married to a fool.

      • As Barnabas said, for a victim of abuse to only speak positive things about your husband, she has speak outright lies, or hide the real truth under so many veils that she feels herself to be lying when she speaks those anemic ‘positives’ about her husband.
        But Paul exhorts the Ephesians: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

      • anewfreelife

        Yeah, I lied about my husband for years, trying to convince myself and everyone else of the image that he wanted them to have. Ya know where it got me? My dearest friends whom I had managed to keep felt betrayed by me because I had been dishonest with them!

  10. Martin

    Jeff – Amen! That looks like a much needed message for tomorrow!

  11. Jeff Crippen

    I have found that abusers pursue. One of the most troubling things to me in this post is the fact that despite the victim’s request that Wilson leave her alone, he has consistently refused to do so. In fact, I find it rather “stalker-ite” that he finds her address every time. And really this behavior tells us all that we need to know about Wilson. Oh, he will couch his constant pursuit of her as “pastoral”, but it is wolf behavior.

    There have been at least two times in my own experience when I have told someone who was abusive that they were not to contact me again. Each time they would send birthday presents or some other things to my house in my mail. I never replied to the gift in any way and in fact threw them out. But the next year, here came another one. Every abuse victim who has been the recipient of this “kind” behavior knows full well what it feels like. It feels exactly like what the abuser wants it to feel like — condemning and threatening.

    I also recommend that if there is any recourse to some legal order available that she avail herself of it. What he is doing is not pastoral. It is abusive, wolfish, and pure harassment.

    • Oh, gifts sent by pursuing abusers! That’s another whole post topic, Jeff. I won’t start here as I’m afraid I will release the avalanche. We’ll do a new post on that topic soon, folks!

      • mlieder

        GREAT topic! I have experienced this very thing all year! From my ex, Jim Wilson AND my own family. 😦

      • Laurie

        My ex has spent more in flowers this year than he did during the entire course of our marriage (roughly 4-5 bouquets, the last two very large and expensive). He keeps writing on the support checks things like, “Till death do us part.” Which rather has me a wee bit concerned since I can tell by the cracks in his facade that he is about to have an episode. (I am guessing that we are a few days to maybe a month away from it.) Granted, he is 400 miles away, but the passion of his anger knows no bounds. There is someone closer to him that has his anger attention at the moment. I just hope that the one drawing the fire survives with faith intact.

      • “There is someone closer to him that has his anger attention at the moment.”
        Oh Laurie, I relate to that!
        And I confess to having felt the temptation to be glad that I might not be the primary target of his looming explosion, because he has someone else more closely in his sights. A good word for that kind of feeling is Schadenfreude (a loan word from German).

      • no name please

        My ex never gave gifts, no excuse me. He gave me one gift in our marriage, an expensive digital camera, then, demanded it in the divorce settlement( !!), so it really wasn’t for me. But the number of gifts he tried to give my that first Christmas apart…along with a key to his apartment( ugh!!) I felt dismissed, violated and just offended. Especially when I told him “no”. My counselors saw all the gifts as a good sign rather than a violation of boundaries!

      • Laurie

        Thanks, Barbara! It helps me soooooooooo much to know that I am not the only one to whom these things happen (or have happened).

        I have renewed the dream that I had after my Mom died: Lydiahouse, a refuge for battered women and their children and pets. A place to start fresh.

        Why Lydia? Acts 16, where we learn that the Man from Macedonia in Paul’s dream turned out to be a few women gathering for worship outside the walls of Philippi. Paul wasn’t stingy, he planted God’s church in women…and Lydia offered her house.

      • Hey everyone, if you have comments on gifts from abusers, please post them at this new post: Gifts From Pursuing Abusers.

        And please hold your comments on shelters and refuges for abused women. I’ll start another post for that in a day or two. We are getting so busy here, and it helps everyone if we stay on topic. So I promise to put up a post very soon about Shelters and Refuges. and will add the link to it here when it’s published.

  12. Lynette D

    My comment ended p in the wrong area in regards to mercy. Sorry!

  13. Jeff Crippen

    If I am correct, the same Jim Wilson is the author of How to be Free from Bitterness, and Other Essays on Christian Relationships, published by Doug Wilson’s Canon Press. You can buy the Kindle verson for $1.99. I suppose I should get it and read it, but I pretty well know what I am going to find — exactly what this blog post says!

    • Barnabasintraining

      I suppose I should get it and read it, but I pretty well know what I am going to find

      A temptation to bitterness? 😉

    • mlieder

      Jeff — I have read that book over and over — thinking my bitterness was the root issue. It is exactly as you suspect. The same theology in greater detail. 😦

  14. anon

    Back to the Missionaries – if they are in danger, we do all we can to help them escape, and move them to another safe mission field.

    • Good point, Anon. The double standard used to treat domestic abuse victims way differently from how other victims of persecution are treated, is another example of the prejudice victims face.

  15. herewegokids

    ‘Zero mercy and zero compassion’…except, evidently, for admitted child molesters.

    • Barnabasintraining


      Boils the blood, doesn’t it?

  16. herewegokids

    Makes me wish I didn’t take those Wilson marriage books to the thrift store.

    • SJR

      Do Doug and nancy Wilson reflect the same teachings as his father, Jim?
      Theologically they are quite different. I read the first few essays of Jim Wilson’s bitterness book because my pastor had given it to me. I returned it to him and told him what I thought of it. I was quite clear!
      Still in counseling but I refused and named Jim Wilson’s book for the garbage it is. My church likes Doug Wilson a lot. I haven’t read enough of him to see how diff he is from his dad on counseling & marriage type issues.

      • Jeff Crippen

        SJR – My conclusion and that of our elders in our church: steer clear of Douglas Wilson as well. Maybe not for the same reasons, but his involvement with federal vision theology (which is simply a return to Roman Catholicism) is reason enough, not to mention all of the grossly patriarchal material he has cranked out in his books.

      • Anonymous

        I affirm what Ps. Crippen says here. Just asking for more trouble to entertain any of Doug Wilson’s teachings. He would see an abuser as a Christian, as long as the abuser had been baptized. (ie federal vision) Also tons of wrong interpretation of Scripture concerning the home and marriage.

  17. searcher

    The bible does not justify any kind of abuse. Men who use the bible to justify continued abuse are weak and using the bible to cover up evil. I believe that the texts that are often pointed to as justification for male supemacy were translated incorrectly. My wife and I have an equal partnership. Our union has been blessed because love, laughter and concern is in our home. I am a sinful human how can I rule over my wife. God is the head of my home not me. Men tend to abuse power. The unbalanced power that some say the bible gives men often causes men to be less than their best.

  18. MeganC

    Remember this?

    • yes, I remember. And do you see any parallels with what is going on now — with Doug Wilson’s having encouraged a convicted pedophile, Steven Sitler, to marry and father children?

      • MeganC

        Absolutely. I have been thinking about it all day. I even pulled up some old letters. This was all strangely affirming. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree . . .

  19. Seeing the Light

    Several years ago, I was referred to this very same Jim Wilson for counseling via the telephone (I do not live in his area) through a series of referrals. At the time I was still frantically trying to fix me and was blind to the reality of what was going on in our home. The crazy-making of my covert narcissist abusive (including spiritual abuse) anti-husband had contributed to near spiritual despair. I spent several months of frequent, intense contact with Mr. Wilson (followed by a few years of dwindling, sporadic contact). During the time of frequent and intense “counseling” phone calls I became increasingly unstable. His advice and spiritual counsel were downright confusing and he would contradict himself to the point that – since I was still in a place where I gave the benefit of the doubt and my trust to those who claimed to be close to God and able to teach, rather than trusting my own intuition – I felt like I was losing my mind. At the end of a phone conversation with Jim, I would literally be pacing the house, holding my head in my hands, repeating over and over the main points of what he had said to me, trying to believe it and make sense of it when it did not compute. That was such a dark time and the closest I ever came to a mental breakdown.

    I have to mention – just like in the original poster’s quote of his letter to her – Jim would often say to me, “You know I love you,” and push me to confirm it. I believed it then, so I did. I now consider this a red flag. There was an elder in our church years ago who also tried to “help” for a time. He and his family moved away and did not want to keep up a relationship (for which I thank God), but he keeps in sporadic contact. When he came to town recently and we visited with him, it was like every blinder was removed and I could see who he really is and always was, and I didn’t respond like I used to respond. I was not receptive and submissive to everything he said and freely spoke up when I disagreed with him. As he prepared to leave, I was given a big hug and squeeze and a “You know I love you.” Yuck. Just like Jim. I did not confirm or respond.

    • MeganC

      That was such a dark time and the closest I ever came to a mental breakdown.

      —I totally get that. Bless you, Seeing the Light. You have been through much. Thanking God you were able to break away from Jim and understand truth.

      • Seeing the Light

        Thank you, MeganC.

    • Wow, Seeing the Light!

      I’m glad you found this post by Megan.

      “Icky” isn’t a strong enough word for the ‘love’ of people like Jim Wilson. Their ‘love’ is the kiss of Judas and the hiss of asps.

  20. Seeing the Light

    Thank you, Barbara. I agree.

    I was so glad I found it, too. I don’t usually pay that close attention to the “Recent Comments” section on the side of the page, but for some reason I did and my eyes fell on Megan’s recent comments so I checked it out. It sure helped to read how he interacted with someone else to validate what I had felt from my experience with him.

  21. Anthea

    I went for help to Jim’s other son, Evan, and was given the same booklet on forgiveness. Well, I may be able to forgive, but how stupid can one be to forget? If my neighbor steals my car, do I just cheerfully look at it in his driveway each day? That kind of thing is what I face numerous times each and every day.

    He did admit that my husband’s behavior was abusive. His advice to me was to become so filled with the joy of the Lord that maybe my husband would take notice and be turned around. I don’t see how it’s possible to be so joyful outside of 1) having an understanding of the depth of the abuse, which is horrible to comprehend, and 2) starting to take a stand against it, which is also horrible. How could a person be joyful otherwise, when they are constantly being ripped apart at their very core?

    • oooh, that Wilson family have spread their leaven wide, haven’t they?

  22. Searcher

    The advice that these men are giving lacks empathy and is unprincipled. Men have to remember that you cannot have complete control and domination over someone and have their love.
    At what point is the husband challenged to be a better husband, Christian and father. The woman is left to shoulder the burden that the relationship has become. Many men are lonely because they have been taught and believe that a woman is not their equal. They are missing out on a rich rewarding relationship with their wives.
    I have found many abusive men to lack the capacity to be empathetic and love. These men are dangerous. These men are causing damage to the temple of God, their wives. There is no fixing most if not all of these men. Their belief system justifies their abusive behavior. Wilson et al merely allow these men to continue in their destructive behavior.

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