(Colossians 1:15-20 ESV) (15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
I have launched a preaching series through the book of Colossians on Sunday mornings. The saints at Colossae were being subjected to some crazy stuff about angels and asceticism and weird philosophies that promised “deeper” knowledge. Paul, writing most likely from a Roman prison, wrote to them after Epaphras came and told him what was going on back home. Time to put an end to that nonsense. So Paul wrote this letter and he told them about Christ. About the absolute supremacy of Christ. How Christ is God and pre-eminent over all things (that’s what “first-born” means, not “first-created”). He said that Christ actually was the agent of creation and even more — that you just can’t find anything greater or deeper than Christ.
(Colossians 2:2-3 ESV) (2) ….to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, (3) in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. So you don’t have to look anyplace else. If Christians would have listened to this one little four-chaptered epistle, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Swedenborgianism, classical Adventism, and yes, Roman Catholicism — would never have gotten off the ground. They all began with someone having some “vision” and promising something “more” than Christ. It’s all drivel and nonsense.
(Colossians 2:8-9 ESV) (8) See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (9) For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
(Colossians 2:18-19 ESV) (18) Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Alright then, what does all of this have to do with abuse and marriage and divorce? Just this: that we must not permit anything to come between us and an increasing knowledge of and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself told us so —
(Matthew 10:34-39 ESV) (34) “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 19:28-30 ESV) (28) Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. (30) But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Christ does call us to leave our most intimate relationships when doing so is required if we are to follow Him. Is it wrong for a mother to abandon her son or daughter? Under normal circumstances, yes. But if choosing them means not following Christ, then we must choose Christ every time. Jesus is not encouraging child abandonment, but is simply emphasizing how we must always put Him first.
Which brings us to marriage. Marriage has been wrongly exalted in the Christian church. But Christ is superior to marriage. We know this by deduction, but we also know it by His own words —
(Matthew 22:29-30 ESV) (29) But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (30) For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
When we are with Christ in the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be no marriage. Why? Because we will no longer be alone. We, Christ’s bride, will be perfectly fulfilled because we will see Him face-to-face. And He will be so beautiful and glorious, we will find that He really is true food and true drink. Perfect satisfaction.
Today, marriage has been exalted to a position of pre-eminence. Abusive spouses are said to be more important than Christ. Christ is calling — “come and follow Me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” But pastors and churches are telling these victims, “no! You must not! You have to stay here! Marriage and family, that’s what being a Christian is all about! That is what the church is all about. Marriage and family are the deeper things.”
And that is just plain idolatry.
[April 11, 2023: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to April 11, 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 April 11, 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 April 11, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 11, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
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.
12 thoughts on “Abuse and Marriage: Christ is Greater Than Matrimony”
This is so true. I suspect that just about everything that has gone wrong in Christianity is from taking our eyes off of Jesus.
I had this conversation with a good friend recently talking about current Christian trends and he noted that getting married and having lots of children is essentially the mission of the church to many people; that it is part of evangelism and therefore one of the primary means of sharing the Gospel. It’s the “outbreed the heathen” form of overtaking this sinful world.
And those of us who do not fit into traditional families, well we are not standard, really. We are unusual. Can’t form the mission around us.
I don’t know how many times I heard my former pastor’s wife tell us that Satan’s primary place of attack was our families. If he can tear them apart, he can tear apart the church. Well I reject that. We are called to be loving in our families, but our families are not the primary mission of the church! We go for Jesus, not trying to gain and hold onto nuclear, perfect family units. If they must be split in the name of justice and to protect the oppressed, that’s what must happen. How much Christian service has been stifled by forcing that service into that of an abuser rather than to Christ?
The church absolutely needs to repent of the idolatry of marriage / family. Only when we can have families in their proper place can we have families that are honoring to the Lord.
Jeff S – I have heard this a thousand times before also. And I have to admit there was a time when I bought into this line of thinking, but God has shown me that it was idolatry and I have smashed that idol along with several others since getting my abuser out of my head.
Jeff C – thank you for the post. It was beautifully written and so very true.
….hmmm, isn’t that a by-product of the Roman Catholic church’s “no contraception” doctrine? And isn’t it what we see some Islamists are practising today? I have read statements from some Islamists saying they believe they will gain the upper hand in Europe by out-breeding the rest of the population and thus being able to get control of governments at the ballot box.
There’s something seriously wrong with the Evangelical church if it’s descending to an “out-breed the heathen” policy. Jesus and Paul said zilch about producing lots of children as a strategy for evangelism. If anything, Paul advised the reverse — “during this present crisis, it might be wise to hold off on getting married” (1 Corinthians 7:25-38).
We must always place Christ above all others. When a marriage fails, as it did in mine because of an abusive spouse, it very soon became clear to me that I needed to depend on the Lord more than ever, and this long journey has been a fruitful one with the Lord’s continual guidance. It has not been easy at times, but there have been many blessings. There have also been really distressful difficulties. I think that even the difficulties are blessings because I feel the Lord is using them to help me to learn and grow in faith in Him.
Because of my spouse’s continual deceitfulness, my daughter and her family are alienated from me, along with other members of my family. I find that trusting in the Lord to get me through all these experiences is helping me to become even closer to Him and to grow in knowledge and faith.
As Jeff C states so well, to stay in a marriage where you are being abused is a form of idolatry. How can it be otherwise, when the abuser continually strives to steal your heart, soul and mind, with the purpose of having you blindly adore and serve him?
While I’m not a rabid conspiracy theorist, we have to ask ourselves: Who is most served by this idea? The answer is obvious (once you have your eyes open) — the people who are most advantaged by this teaching are the ones who are perpetrating abuse in their families.
I remember the moment when I knew I was beyond help, and my marriage was beyond help so long as I allowed things to continue as they had been. I had tried to find any medical excuse for why my husband was being so abusive….I wanted and needed it to not be his fault, and for it to be manageable or curable….but instead all the testing came back negative. We were left with the fact that he exhibited so many escalating bipolar behaviors. He was given meds which he claimed to be taking, but there were 25 – 27 left in a monthly rx [prescription] bottle of 30. He may have had everyone else fooled, but I could count, and I was the one who (along with the children) had to live with him and deal with the raging and mood swings….the sabotage, rescue, diminishing and deflection, epiphanies and apologies….repeating terminally like a downward spiral. I knew I was losing it more every day, until finally we separated….it was awful, scary and finally I could sleep at night.
Maybe my life now is not ideal….it never was anyway, and we have some painful changes ahead for us without a sufficient income….and I’m sure he will bring every trick from his arsenal in a legal battle ahead….but I know if I were to die just as I am, by my husband’s hand or merely by accident, God sees and understands and has more mercy and love for me (sufficient I believe) that I will see His face after this life. Sure, I hope to live to be an old granny, but the life I WAS living with my abuser had become bad enough (like emotional water torture) I was willing to risk being killed in order to try escape the abuse. Now I understand about wanting to devote your life to God as a celibate adult….something I never would have conceived of before this relationship. Actually, I would have laughed at anyone who suggested that’s what my future would be.
But now I do see myself as much better alone. It is a relief not to see myself as one half of a whole, doomed to search for my other half the rest of my days. I found very late my completeness lies not in any man or marriage, but in the Lord. It is a very still, quiet, steady knowledge. But now that it is finally here, I am just so grateful to know I am fit for service in the Lord, just as I am. He has justified me more than any eye-witness can.
Thank you so much for being a part of the support system that I have found nowhere else, not in family or church. I know I have many struggles ahead with my abuser due to our being co-parents, but I can’t borrow worry on any of that….or it will spoil the now for me and my kids, which is more precious to me than ever. Bless you in your ministry….it helps.
Thank you for these beautiful words, Anonymouse.
Oh, amen! Just this weekend I said that it seemed the church was advancing the kingdom of marriage and family, instead of the Kingdom of Christ. It seems to me that Christianity is now being defined by some this way: If you are married and have as many children as your body will possibly allow and stay in your house and enjoy the good things of life, submit — even to godlessness and abuse, and teach your children right, so as to “guarantee” that they will never stumble or fall or really find out just how much they need Jesus, and live in a place where you are free from any trials or persecution, then you are the kind of Christian that will make it all the way. It is no longer about taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, it is about having perfect families, who are so “right” in God’s eyes, based on their lifestyle, that they never suffer any evil or persecution. It is thinking we can attain some form of perfection, without Christ. This is not the Gospel. This is a man-made “we can do it ourselves” Gospel, that is not Christ at all. Christ first in everything and at all times. We should have learned that from the faithful Christians of old.
What a timely and great post! Will the real church of Christ, please stand up and demonstrate mercy, grace and kindness to the wounded soldiers of the Cross?
We know that most churches hold a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like concerning abuse in marriage?”, so according to the above quote, where does that really leave us?
1[April 11, 2023: We added the link to a page containing the quote Anonymous quoted. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
You nailed it, Anonymous! Good spot. Where that leaves us is that many churches are worshiping a false god / idol. Oh, and this idol requires sacrifices. Victim sacrifices. Ongoing victim sacrifices.
Jeff C wrote:
Oh Jeff, this is SO TRUE and knowing what I do now, I wonder how many of these people who had visions were actually psychopaths. They sound like they ALL were which is sadly typical and horrific. That people have followed these men (and women — Mary Baker Eddy) — all the way to hell, REALLY BELIEVING that they would make it to heaven, or to their planet or whatever other reward they were promised.
It’s what you stated — these visionaries went ABOVE AND BEYOND what Scripture said, added to it, took away some of it, highlighted some areas and dismissed or took out complete sections of God’s word.
How many of us are alive because our families belonged to one of these religions that promoted giving birth to unlimited amounts of children, even though the parents didn’t have the financial or emotional resources needed to care for and raise them? I was one of these children and I can assure you that there was not a drop of love in my life although I was told by others that my parents MUST love me (all of the children) or they wouldn’t have had so many of us. Lies and more lies. Psychopaths give birth to children every single day and they never love them because they only love themselves, yet these religions promote birth at all costs, for all people, forever. The individual person seems to have no value, it’s only the AMOUNT of children produced that matter.
When the Bible tells us that we will be against some of those who are close to us, this makes sense now that I know what I’m dealing with. I had no choice what family I was born into nor did I have a choice really in the children I gave birth to, and as far as my marriage, at the time I chose my spouse, I had no idea that some people have no conscience. Now that I know the reality of this, I can see that we have been opposed to each other from the day I gave my life to the Lord. It is no longer surprising, just sad that I was never told the truth about the evil that is written about in God’s word which was meant as a forewarning for His children. I was always told that I needed to be super careful to behave myself lest I become like one of those written about in 2 Timothy 3 or Romans 1:29 — I had no idea that this was a state of being for some people and that they loved what they were or that they would put on the APPEARANCE of a God-loving person all while being filled with evil.
Thank you for this post, I’m always glad to look at these original posts to see that you wrote the truth from the beginning and haven’t altered it and if anything, you have gotten stronger and more knowledgeable about the truth written about in God’s word. I pray God continues to bless you and those of us here with His truth through His word and in our lives — He never said that it would be easy but He did say that He would never leave us — He hasn’t.