A Cry For Justice

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

Ongoing Pastoral Counseling of an Abuser is a Formula for Trouble

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.


[July 12, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(Esther 3:1-2  ESV)  (1) After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him.  (2) And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage.

(John 8:44-45  ESV)  (44) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

It has occurred to me lately that we are hearing about a very common pattern experienced by Christians who are abuse victims. They have gone to their pastor for help and the pastor decided to start meeting regularly with the abuser to counsel and “fix” the problem. Some time goes on – perhaps months or longer. Pastor and abuser meeting, talking, fixing. Then the inevitable day arrives. The victim receives a call or note from the pastor asking that she begin to meet with her husband and the pastor. It seems that great progress has been made and now it is time to get her involved. What should she do?

Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go.

All that has happened is that over this period of time, the pastor is actually the one who has been “discipled.” He is now an ally of the abuser. They are buds. He “knows” now that the wife has her problems too and that she has contributed to the troubled state of the marriage. So now, hey, let’s call her in, sit down with her, and “counsel together.” Translation? “Let’s sit her down and both of us will tell her how she is at fault.”

Why does this scenario happen in churches over and over again? Let me suggest some reasons and I suspect our readers will be able to provide some more:

1) The pastor at best is naive about abuse. He, like virtually all pastors, has received NO training in the subject. He is oblivious to its tactics and mentality.

2) The pastor is a “guy.” Most often, the abuser is a guy. So the guys bond as they meet. The victim? Well, she’s a woman and as all guys know, women are just troublesome.

3) The abuser is often a pure sociopath, skilled and adept at duping others into being his ally. The pastor cannot comprehend that any such person in his church could possibly exist.

4) The pastor has been trained in the idolatry of marriage. Man is made for marriage. Marriage must be preserved at all costs. Divorce is the great evil. The family unit must be preserved no matter what, or America is going to hell.

5) The pastor has been taught false notions of repentance and reconciliation, though he thinks he holds to a biblical view on these subjects.

6) And pastors, like all people, can succumb to cowardice. To stand against the abuser is much more costly than standing with the victim.

The result? Haman is believed and Esther and Mordecai get hung. The abuser, a child of the father of lies, has succeeded. The pastor is on his side, and thus the church will be on his side. Too bad for Esther this time around.

[July 12, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to July 12, 2022 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 July 12, 2022 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 July 12, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 12, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. bright sunshinin' day

    You got it, Jeff. You hit the bulls-eye. May we, like Mordecai, not bow down or pay homage to this nonsense….

  2. HisEzer

    Very insightful and on the mark!! There are some blogs I wish I could post on Facebook for all the world to read, and this is one of them…. But alas, because most of my friends, relatives, and other associations through Christian fellowship are clueless to the realities of spiritual and emotional abuse and as a result do not understand my choice to distance self from husband (because they see him as such a nice guy), such a post would be likely seem “the woman who cries ‘ABUSE!””….(minds have been conditioned to believe that such cries are always self-serving lies). Sad. All six points, though, are very much a reality for me — exactly what I have experienced…. Pastor / Elder becomes husband’s ally and both choose to see my refusal to do couple’s counseling as being an indication my heart is not right. (Did 8 years of couple’s counseling, though, with several different counselors. It always ended up the same way….lies and manipulations by husband, followed by the counselor falling for it, followed by favoritism practiced as they believed his word over mine….followed by husband being enabled all the more in his self-delusion…. Followed by more chaos, mistreatment, and double-life…. With the final assessment being: “Wife is unforgiving.” (When are Christians going to recognize lack of trust does not equal unforgiveness?) Anyway….waking up to this crazy cycle and deciding to not get on the spinning wheel anymore…. But it is really a no win situation. D*****d if you get on the wheel – for you get more pain and suffering by husband and church leader….-vs-….D*****d if you don’t get on – for you experience more pain from confused friends who don’t know what is going on and are manipulated by H to believe you are the problem….

    • Jeff Crippen

      His Ezer – eight years of counseling. Here is a theory I have. When it comes to marriage counseling, where both husband and wife are genuine Christians and thus we are not dealing with an abuser (I staunchly hold that an abuser as we define him in this blog cannot by definition be a Christian no matter what he says), then about 8 counseling sessions is probably even enough! I have counseled couples who are the real thing and in ONE session — problem solved. I don’t want to oversimplify, but do you see what I am getting at? People who really love Christ and who love one another WANT to overcome sin. And therefore in my opinion any pastor or counselor working for EIGHT years with a couple (I realize you perhaps saw more than one counselor), and the problem still is not resolved surely should have an “aha” moment. “Hey, wait a minute here. Maybe, just maybe, one of these people has NO desire to change at all!”

      • HisEzer

        You are right. It was with 8 different counseling entities ranging from a Nouthetic volunteer couple, to church Elders, to pastors, to 4 different professional counselors….but always the same outcome….
        And, I am in agreement that one cannot be a genuine Christian who remains in unrepentant sin. But like Clinton’s, “It depends on the meaning of the word ‘is'” rationalizing, the same thing is going on in the church with the definition of abuse and sin — Isaiah 5:20 is becoming more and more a reality where good is seen as bad and bad as good.

  3. fiftyandfree

    I am going to print this out for future reference!

  4. Larry W Dean

    Very good, Jeff. As said above, you ‘nailed’ it. As a pastor who has learned through experience, I have come to a new place. When a couple comes to me for ‘marriage counseling’ I tell them up front, “I am not a marriage counselor, I am a minister of the Gospel and, therefore, a SIN counselor. If you have problems in your marriage, then there is sin at the bottom of it. If you want me to help you find it and lead you to repentance, I am your guy. But I cannot tell you how to have a happy marriage if you are unwilling to deal with sin.” Abusers, strangely enough, will not deal with their own sins honestly and that becomes obvious very quickly. Go figure!

    • I am not a marriage counselor, I am a minister of the Gospel and, therefore, a SIN counselor. If you have problems in your marriage, then there is sin at the bottom of it. If you want me to help you find it and lead you to repentance, I am your guy. But I cannot tell you how to have a happy marriage if you are unwilling to deal with sin.

      Super-big “LIKE” BUTTON, Larry, for this one! And kookaburra stamp, because I have a thing about them ever since my primary teacher gave me one when I did good work. 🙂

  5. Brenda R

    Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go.

    I won’t, Pastor Jeff. My pastor and the Elders have begun to see through the X. I have recently been blessed with ladies who have been telling me they believe I did the right thing by leaving. I am feeling accepted, by some. That is better than just a few months ago. I feel like the Lord has given me new life all over again. He gave me life at birth, at the time of my salvation and now a whole new life that may not be totally free of abuse, but it is a lot closer than I ever imagined. Thank you for all you do.

  6. annette621

    I have all but given up on our counseling, even though my husband is nicer than he has been in 15 years. He won’t talk to me about the things that have to be dealt with he has set and lied in the counseling and called me a liar also. I called him out on this it didn’t faze him. I can’t believe the things that come out of his mouth sometimes. Cool-hearted man, the way he must view women in his head. I pray for God to save him. I don’t think he’s really ever been saved, I look back and now I see he’s always been a bully. He thinks that’s what a real man is. I can’t believe it, if someone complains about being bullied he thinks they’re weak. I refuse to cover this up anymore. But I’m very disappointed in my counseling, I know we can’t make people do what we want but my husband a sociopath. And our counseling isn’t helping. I have to stay in prayer or I will become very angry at him. I want to thank you so much for your ministry. God Bless! Everyone of you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Annette – and thank you! You have come a long, long way in your understanding of just what is going on in your husband. Once you understand the sociopath, you can begin to heal yourself, much better equipped to deal with the false guilt and shame and crazy-making and all the rest. If you haven’t yet read George Simon’s books, In Sheep’s Clothing [*Affiliate link] and Character Disturbance [Affiliate link], they would be excellent for you. They deal with the covert tactics of the sociopath. I was helped a great deal by them.

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
  7. 7) The husband is the breadwinner and pays a nice fat tithe check every month while the wife is a stay-at-home mom.

    And if you’re really cynical, you can add “….who will be a financial drain on the church coffers if she leaves permanently and keeps asking for help.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Not cynical – it’s reality as you know. One of the wise ladies in our church said “they always follow the money.” What she meant was that in dealing with church issues, people so often in their cowardice and selfishness make their decision (i.e, choose up sides) based upon which side will best benefit them. The victim’s side is always costly. Too bad for her.

      • Brenda R

        That is one thing that I did get from my church and still am. I am being asked if I am ok and if there is anything that I need. Some thought I worked part time and couldn’t take care of myself without help. I always say “no, I am fine, the Lord has supplied all of my needs.” I am finding more that agree with my decision to leave and it has been a weight lifted. Praise God for sending them my way.

        Last night I made contact with the local Underground Railroad in attempt to start a local Christian support group. Please pray for God’s wisdom and direction in this effort.

    • Brenda R

      I have been on the cynical side lately. I am imagining a church board sitting around the table thinking this thing through while having morning coffee. The good old boys club saying, “Joe puts in X amount every week, that money would go right back out to support her and the kids. She doesn’t work and hasn’t any training other than being a housewife.” My vote: God is not in that room. He was not invited. This is not His church. Time to find a church where God is always welcome and His will is being done.

    • Katy

      And if you’re really cynical, you can add “….who will be a financial drain on the church coffers if she leaves permanently and keeps asking for help.”

      Add me to the cynical column!
      Amen, Jeff!

    • Sunflower

      I know this is an old post but I just now ran into it. Yes!!!!! Ida Mae, exactly what I was wondering why nobody has come up with that one yet.

      8) The pastor may be abusive as well. (ask me how I know)

      • Sunflower — I guess you know because you were or are married to one?
        That would be awful.


  8. Not Too Late

    Wow, Jeff, you’ve absolutely nailed it!

    I would add to 2). Women are not only troublesome, we all know that they:
    –are too emotional,
    –expect too much communication and affection from their husbands,
    –don’t appreciate that men are different,
    –don’t respect their husbands enough,
    –don’t meet their husbands physical needs enough,
    –are influenced by the spirit of feminism infiltrating the Body of Christ,
    –exaggerate, and therefore
    –need to be brought into line.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Not Too Late – boy, doggone those women!

  9. Jeff Crippen

    Ok, well, here is a person (used a female name, so I will assume this is a woman), who just HAD to try to sneak in here and bring people under the bondage of her supposed biblical expertise. As you know, most of these kind we just send to the Spam, but every so often we will put one up just so everyone can see the kind of “help” abuse victims get from people who claim they are Christians and Bible experts. I (JeffC) will just put the comment here, and you all can say what you think of it —

    Begin Quote —

    There are hundreds of do called “Christian” counsellors who do not follow the Bible. The Bible warns of such. However, don’t think that divorce will solve your problems. If you truly want to see your marriage work out, consult the Bible on what your role in the marriage is. Lots of us women can simply focus on what our husband should be doing, rather than on what we should be doing. Have a good read of 1 Peter 3, Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2.
    1 Cor 7:10-15
    Mark 10:2-12
    Luke 16:18

    Regardless of what any pastor says, Biblically, divorce is not an option for the Christian, unless you physically are in danger. There’s no room for divorce and remarriage in the Bible. People can try to say otherwise, but stay with the Bible. God’s words shall not pass away.

    End Quote.

    • His Child

      There are hundreds of so-called ”Christian” counsellors who do not follow the Bible. The Bible warns of such.

      Jeff Crippen also warns of such. Glad you agree.

      However, don’t think that divorce will solve your problems.

      I never did, which is why I stayed. He divorced me. It was an answer to prayer for deliverance from evil. Guess what, it solved my problems! I don’t live in darkness any more.

      If you truly want to see your marriage work out, consult the Bible on what your role in the marriage is.

      I did. Trouble is, I only understood the Bible through the lens of my churches teaching. I didn’t look deeply enough into the original Greek meanings or context. Now I know my role was to live as an equal partner furthering God’s Kingdom, not as a slave to an idol taking God’s place.

      Lots of us women can simply focus on what our husband should be doing, rather than on what we should be doing.

      Abused women don’t. They focus solely on what they can do better without holding their abusive husbands to account, enabling the husband to bask in his sin.

      Have a good read of 1 Peter 3, Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2.

      Now that I have read the Think Again series by Dr. Bruce Fleming, pastor, professor of theology and holder of three post-graduate degrees in theology, I understand those verses much better. Bad hermeneutics leads to much unnecessary sorrow, I kid you not!

      There’s no room for divorce and remarriage in the Bible.

      False. Read through the resources and see if you can still hold that view. I mean honestly – before God – hold that view!

      People can try to say otherwise, but stay with the Bible. God’s words shall not pass away.


      • Brenda R

        Thank you for the heads up on the books. It sounds like a good read.

    • Brenda R

      Me thinks the lady? here is one who would stand on street corners with a big sign with a large letter “A” on it. She reads the words, but not the heart of Jesus. She has no insight to who Jesus was speaking to or the customs of the time. She has not lived a life of abuse. She hates rather than loves people. She doesn’t realize that God doesn’t want divorce to happen, but He hates the sin that caused the divorce more than the divorce itself. He hates unrepentant sin.

      There are many Christian counselors that do not understand the heart of God either. I was blessed to have one who did and helped lead me out of the bondage that I had grown up with. She helped me see that God loved me more than marriage vows that were quickly forgotten. Marriage is not prison or slavery. Marriage is 2 people coming together to continue the work of our Lord as He designed it, not as man thinks it should be.

      Does this person have a problem with leaving an abusive spouse or is it divorce that is the problem. As soon as X signs the paper we will legally be divorced rather than the legal separation we already have. In either case, we will not live together. The passages she chooses are meant for 2 people who are Christian people should stay together. In the case of continuous abuse how can anyone say that the abuser is Christian. Christians have a sense about them when they sin. They realize their shortcoming and repent. A true Christian that even came close to abusing their spouse would repent, seek help and go under the wing of a believer to keep them in check. This person doesn’t exist as a spouse of the people who come to this blog. Their spouses have abandoned them while living in the same house.

      My X would stay forever. I would continue to be torn apart piece by piece. He would have my very soul. He is still trying for it now. Why people like this come here, I don’t understand. There is freedom in Jesus not slavery. I have seen the footage of the so-called Christians who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers. I have to wonder if they aren’t from a so-called church that would promote that as well.

      • Natasha

        If you can show me Biblically that obedience to marriage vows is not needed, I’ll be grateful. I do feel frustrated because when I try to follow the Bible (I know it’s partly my fault, I can become quite unloving I know when I’m frustrated which is wrong) people immediately say “hater” and don’t give a Bible explanation. I understand the hater part maybe, I should be more gentle, but I’ve had “Christian” counselers with books of ungodly philosophers on their desks and bookshelves instead of the Bible and what’s with that?! Surely, SURELY there’s something very wrong. Is not the Bible enough for Christianity? Is God so weak that He needs us to turn to unbiblical teachers and adopt them as Christian?

      • Brenda R

        Natasha, I don’t know what counselors you are seeing, but mine started out after 15 minutes of my giving her background on my situation and brought out her Bible and showed me Scripture of why God would not hold me in bondage to my marriage. From there she did lead me to books written by Pastors who believe as many have throughout centuries that God doesn’t like divorce, but He loves the people in it more and hates the sin that caused it more than the divorce. Who are you considering “ungodly philosophers”? Do you read books by men and women who explain the Bible in other areas? Do you use books written by men and women in Bible study classes? If so, why would you not use books as well as the Bible on the subject of marriage?
        On this website and others many Scriptures are used to explain why separation and divorce are sometimes options and Godly. Have you been reading them? There are a number or books written by such as Ps Jeff Crippen, Barbara Roberts, Leslie Vernick who explain these subjects using Scripture in some detail. I do not pretend to be a scholar, but these people have done their homework and know what they are talking about.

    • Barnabasintraining


      There are hundreds of so-called ”Christian” counsellors who do not follow the Bible. The Bible warns of such.

      Need we read any further?

      However, don’t think that divorce will solve your problems. If you truly want to see your marriage work out, consult the Bible on what your role in the marriage is. Lots of us women can simply focus on what our husband should be doing, rather than on what we should be doing. Have a good read of 1 Peter 3, Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 2.

      I find this kind of language quite manipulative anymore. I’m not sure if that was always the case but it certainly is now. No room for the Spirit to speak. Just “this is how it is.” There is an absence of the kind of spirit we are engendered to have in both James 1:19 and James 3:17, 18.

      There is also a certain presumption, which is manipulative, in assuming the divorcing person thinks this will “solve” their problems like everything is just going to go away. Stopping smoking doesn’t “solve” the problem of lung cancer but does anyone think a smoker with lung cancer should keep lighting up? Putting out a house fire won’t “solve” the problem of the destruction it’s already caused so we should just let it burn? I don’t believe anyone said anything about a magic wand effect like that. It is also insulting and belittling in that there is no explanation for this. Just “divorce won’t solve your problems.” It sounds like a talking point they don’t think they should have to explain because you are just supposed to accept it.

      Then there is the sudden switch out of the clear blue with no segue into what you are apparently supposed to be after: getting your marriage to work. So I guess this person is saying divorcing is your way of trying to get your marriage to work? That’s how it reads. I would think by the time someone is divorcing they have long since given up hope that anything will make their marriage work. This is not some new way of trying to get the marriage to work. “Hmmm. I’ve tried everything else imaginable with absolutely no success. What else is there I could possibly try to get this marriage to work? I know! I’ll divorce him! That will make our marriage work!” I mean really. Change the paragraph and put a segue sentence in there like, “Biblically you are supposed to be committed to making your marriage work so let’s talk about that.” before you get on to marriage roles. It’s rude but at least it’s consistent.

      Then there is the problem with the magical thinking regarding marriage roles. Marriage roles have not proven to be the key to good marriages in as much as testimony after testimony of abuse have come forth from groups that practice these things, sometimes to an extreme. Scripture is quite clear that one-anothering does a much better job in all relationship situations than “roles”. Love one another, submit to one another, regard each other better than yourself, etc. Of course this requires mutuality and cannot be done by one person alone as the relational dynamic. If the underlying dynamic is not mutual Christian love, marriage roles will produce nothing more than a D/s type of situation, or perhaps a way of managing a political or pragmatic alliance that has nothing really to do with love, unlike everything else in the Christian life.

      So having said all of that I shall now yawn and go back to my nap.

      • Brenda R

        Yes indeed we all know divorce will not make a marriage work, but I think the majority if not all have tried everything they could before going that route. It is not like we said “I do” with the thought that we’ll probably divorce in a few years.

        Sleep well, BIT.

    • Joe Pote

      Biblically, divorce is not an option for the Christian, unless you physically are in danger.

      Could you please tell me the book, chapter and verse for that quote? Because I’m quite certain it’s not in my Bible.

      There’s no room for divorce and remarriage in the Bible.

      This position directly contradicts both the Law given to Moses and the words of Jesus Christ. Please refer to Deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 19 as reference texts.

    • Natasha

      Thanks, Jeff.
      Yes, I am a female. I realise I came across as a know-all – I apologise for that, the Bible says to respect pastors, leaders etc. and give them extra respect even.
      I apologise for that.
      I’ve got a question though (if you delete this, I will disappointed, but I really want to know).
      Do I follow the Bible or do I follow leaders and teachers?
      I’m a young Christian girl. Very young in fact, and inexperienced, I realise I don’t know as much as many.
      I have no degrees in theology or whatnot. Nevertheless, the Bible tells me to “study” and check out what it was and what others say.
      If you don’t mind bearing with me, this may be a lengthy post, but I want to know!
      Now, I had a lovely pastor who was a divorced, remarried man. Very nice man. Very friendly very caring. Naturally, I had no problem with divorce until I read the Bible. He said it was ok for me to read and I was happy about that, but when I asked for an explanation of the Bible verses, I got some great sounding stuff, but none of it came from the Bible. The verses were simply bypassed, brushed aside with vague, unsatisfactory answers such as “oh, that’s not relevant, don’t worry about those.”
      It was what I wanted to hear, but the Bible said study. So I did. No degree stuff, just plain Greek and Hebrew (gotta love the Blue Letter Bible) and I couldn’t see how leaving was biblical. Even the “loophole” I thought I’d found about leaving when fornication was involved didn’t work because in Greek it’s talking about betrothed or engaged couples.

      Frustrated, I came across as an unloving know-all. I ask you now in all honesty, can you give me Bible reasons? I read something about God being true, even of everything else isn’t. So I think that it’s only right that I apply it to everything even my marriage?
      I’d really appreciate a Biblical answer.
      I’ve had a lot of talk. I want the Bible. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I know little. I want to learn and grow. But give me the Bible. I’m in a Christian forum, not uni [university]. Christian teachers are giving me unChristian philosophies. I don’t need that, I can go to a Rogerian counsellor who’ll listen to me even better then they [Christian teachers] will and show me “love”. I’m not after that, I’m after the Bible.
      I appreciate your time and consideration in answering this 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.


        Natasha, I don’t think Jeff was reluctant to post your comment because he thought it offended him; rather, he was reluctant to publish it because he thought it would hurt and offend some of our readers. It seems you may not have been following the blog long, and you may not be aware of how we have canvassed many times before the damaging teaching in the church that ends up entrapping people in abusive marriages. We don’t not reject the Bible or ignore any particular verses in it, but we do believe that some verses have been gravely misunderstood and misconstrued. Jeff C and I have argued this in depth on in our respective books, which I strongly recommend you read. Don’t expect all your answers to come from the internet. Books are still very important, and books can cover things in much more depth than blogs and web articles tend to.

        Rather than answer your question here about why divorce IS Biblically permissible for abuse, adultery and desertion, I think it would be far better (and more effective) if you were to read my book Not Under Bondage [*Affiliate link].

        And please bear in mind if you are going to comment on the blog more, that many of our readers have been seriously hurt by wooden applications of Titus 2, Matthew 19:9, 1 Cor 7:10-11, 1 Peter 3:1-6, etc. Please read our archived posts to understand this more.

        Regarding your question “Do I follow the Bible or do I follow leaders and teachers?” I think Christians should follow the Bible and should check everything that teachers and leaders say to see if it lines up with the Bible. But I caution you against taking one verse in isolation and thinking “IT SAYS THIS!” and then thinking you’ve got the whole teaching on that topic all wrapped up. The best approach to interpreting the Bible is to weigh all the Scriptures that speak about a particular topic (doctrine) against each other, and try to find the interpretation that harmonises all those Scriptures together, but make sure that the interpretation also harmonizes with the over-arching attributes and character of God which we learn about from the Bible — God’s love, justice, wrath for sin, mercy for sinners, omnipotence, omniscience, eternal being, wisdom, purity, long-suffering, slowness to anger, sovereignty, supreme power, and so on.

        And while there is some value in searching the Blue Letter Bible for Hebrew and Greek meanings, you need to bear in mind that a word in Hebrew or Greek (or any language) does not have a fixed meaning that is always the same. Grammar, syntax, context, and the time it was written and what it meant at that time all have a bearing on the meaning. Studying the root (etymology) of word can lead to errors in interpretation, because a root may mean one thing but a word that is based on that root may have a meaning that is several steps, even large steps, different from the original root. And if you don’t know Hebrew or Biblical Greek, you can’t grasp the significance of the grammar from just looking up the word in BLB. Grammar is things like verb tenses, person, number, case, etcetera. So never think that you can really get a full hold on the Bible just by looking up something like the BLB.

        People like you or me who have not learned the Biblical languages for ourselves need to listen to what reputable scholars say and how they have translated the Scriptures. And if scholars hold varying opinions, you need to get an idea of what the range of opinions is, and try to weight it as best you can, bearing in mind that some scholars are more expert than others in a particular field (and some may have prejudices or unwitting presuppositions that can skew their interpretations….). If you read chapter 8 of my book and the appendix about Malachi 2:16, you will get a little window into the kind of thing I’m talking about.
        Please do not think that a blog like this can spoon feed you all the answers to your questions. You might need to do some serious study for yourself.

        *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
  10. His Child

    Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go.

    Oops. Oops. Oops. Next time I won’t.

    • Jeff Crippen

      His Child, well, that pretty much does sum up all of our experience, doesn’t it? It takes some time to learn and we eventually are like, “Jeff! You knucklehead! Why did you get duped?” But of course we really shouldn’t be hard on ourselves. This evil is so deceptive.

  11. Jeff, I have to politely correct one point in your post. The assumption that this blog is only for Americans. Cough cough. We here in the rest of the world get a tad annoyed when Yankees show that they think America is all there is.

    It’s not only America which will go to hell if the family unit is not preserved. You can insert any country in to that sentence if we are to believe the marriage idolators.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Darn Yankees!!

    • Barnabasintraining

      Barbara, Barbara, Barbara. Don’t you know it is all about America? America is God’s new plan for planet earth! Where have you been? Listening to false teachers who do not understand these things, apparently.

      Don’t worry. There are a select group of men who will come to your oppression. I mean rescue. Once they’ve finished taking over America they will come for your area of the world. It should take about 200 years or so, so you’ll have to be patient.

      • Katy

        I heard they were taking over New Zealand first, once the pesky wimmins in America were thoroughly “nurtured”.

      • Brenda R

        lol. The way they are going right now, it may be much quicker than 200 years. They should have America in ruins by next election.

      • LOLOLOL!

        Sadly, it will be a lot less than 200 years. The infiltration is well and truly happening here already. 😦

      • Barnabasintraining

        Honestly, if you want to know, I don’t believe God will allow them to succeed. I think they will continue to exist and be a general pain, but I don’t believe they will be allowed to take over anywhere.

      • I agree, BIT. 🙂

  12. Tamara

    This is so true, thank you for saying all of this. And I also agree with the sentiment:

    Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go.

    The odds that the pastor is being manipulated (and is about to become part of the manipulating) are high. The potential for more harm and damage are so high.

  13. Bewildered

    I’m a little hesitant to post [comment] because I’m a man, but I found that it can work the same way for abused husbands. I’ve dealt in silence with a personality disordered wife for over 2 decades because I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously, so far I’ve been right. I finally went to my pastor when my wife turned things up a notch or two. We had several counseling sessions that went nowhere. Though he said my wife is a calculating and sophisticated liar, deceiver, and manipulator (she has been before the Elders for causing problems in the congregation), I just need [to] suck it up and be a better husband and then maybe she will be a better wife.

    • Bewildered, welcome to the blog. You might like to check out our tag Male Survivors if you haven’t yet seen it.

      • Bewildered

        Thank you, and I did.

  14. Happy2bhere

    I’m thankful that this site exists to educate and promote awareness of domestic abuse. Hopefully more churches can learn and be helpful to the real victims rather than leaving them feeling more isolated. I’m also happily surprised to see Lundy Bancroft’s book mentioned. His books, and talking with my local domestic violence advocate were the only ways I felt understood and given practical / helpful advice.

    I’ve been through three rounds of marriage counseling, one through a church. Like some others on here, I felt more hopeless about my situation and eventually got tired of listening to my husband’s lies and the counselor telling me how I could speak and do things differently. I’m not perfect but as we know, it doesn’t matter what you do, comply or don’t, you still are treated poorly. Plus I didn’t want to reveal everything because at the end of the day I have to go home with my husband. I think marriage counseling in general is for couples who view each other as equal partners in the relationship. I believe if people knew what was really going on, most would want to help. It almost seems like some church staff refuse to allow themselves to believe that there are some twisted individuals sitting right in front of them and that problems in a relationship aren’t always mutual.

    A couple of my friends distanced themselves from me as if my problem were contagious. One thought it was a breakdown in how my husband and I communicate and gave me the “Love Dare” book. I was upset but realize she has thankfully never been in a similar situation and just can’t seem to understand it but was trying to help. If he can manipulate a trained counselor / pastor he can fool many. October was domestic violence awareness month in addition to breast cancer awareness. They are both serious issues, however, breast cancer seems to get a lot more press and I don’t understand why. From marathons to grocery items, even the White House was lit up pink. Maybe I’m missing something and just haven’t been out and about enough but I saw no purple ribbons except from my local DV advocate, which is how I found out. 🙂 Anyway sorry for the off topic rant and long post, thank you very much for bringing light to this topic and having this helpful website.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Happy2behere – we are happy that you are here too. Thank you for the encouragement. It sounds like you have been through the far too typical experiences as you sought help. You aren’t alone. And the “Love Dare” touch – that one has really stung many of the victims we have met over the past couple of years. We hope you visit here very often.

      • Brenda R

        The “Respect Dare” too. I got about half way through that one. It is no longer on my book shelf.

    • Brenda R

      I think with Breast Cancer it is a natural physical disease and it makes people feel good to give to research. It is all about what makes people feel good about themselves. Thinking about Domestic Violence makes people just plain feel bad, helpless, unable to make it better, so they quickly put it out of their minds. The media gives domestic violence little coverage until they are showing a picture of the deceased woman and the perp they are hunting down.
      I had a call for raising money for Breast Cancer and I responded that I am going through a divorce, give to my local church and don’t have a lot to spare. She smugly responded that Breast Cancer was a very worthy cause. So I went on to say that I have Multiple Sclerosis and left a husband because of DV. She had the nerve to say, “but, Breast Cancer kills.” Wow, how uneducated the world is. MS and DV kill as well. Folks get so focused in their own “cause” that they forget there are other people suffering out there. We’ve just got to keep spreading the word.
      Praying for your recovery in your need.

    • Anna

      I have been given the “Love Dare” book, too! Threw that right into the give-away pile (hope someone with an already good marriage got it – it might work for them). This so-called “dare” won’t work if one party in the relationship is a taker….they will just take all your love and sacrifice and give nothing in return. I used to think I was a holy martyr for putting up with him but I’m starting to see that I wasted so much time and [could] have been free all along.

  15. bluesinaminor

    When my ex and I made our marriage vows, neither of us promised to stay married ’til death us do part. We promised to cherish, to love, etc ’til death us do part. By his own admission he ceased to do these 5 years into a 30 year marriage. Who is responsible for the failure of the marriage to last ’til death us do part? Exactly how does my fulfilling any role, Biblical or otherwise, even the one I vowed to perform, make his broken vow go on ’til death us do part? Even if I stay legally married to him, his vow is broken. It will not go on ’til death us do part. And in the remaining 25 years, including through counselling he made no apology, and no attempt to restore the vow. How is a broken contract still a valid contract just because we see out the term?

    • Brenda R

      He abandoned you after 5 years. His remaining in the home does not make it any less abandonment. His body is there, dirty clothes and dishes, but his heart does not walk through the door. A broken contract is not a valid contract. You cannot make a marriage by yourself. As much as many Christians will tell you to “just do your part” and don’t worry about his part, vows have been broken and you did not ask for that.

      • BeginHealing

        I love this, Brenda.

        his heart does not walk through the door.

        Well, if it did it was a very dark heart filled with entitlement and anger. I spent at least the last 13 years of a 20 year “marriage” by myself. I did my part and he took care of himself. So sad what people do to people they vow to love, protect, honor, and cherish.

    • Barnabasintraining


      You nailed it right here:

      When my ex and I made our marriage vows, neither of us promised to stay married ’til death us do part. We promised to cherish, to love, etc ’til death us do part.

      • Joe Pote

        Yes! Very well stated! 🙂

  16. Denise

    I reblogged this. What is the point in having shepherds if he won’t protect the weak in the flock? It makes me sick how so many are dropping the ball on this issue. I was part of a women’s ministry for many years, and even in that environment the women in an abusive situation were coaxed to get their Titus 2 on and go back to their husbands.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Denise – yes, so you have seen firsthand the things we talk about here. And even in a women’s ministry where you would expect to find women standing up for one another. It seems that men and women both are drawn into the abuser’s web of deception. And the unbiblical teachings about marriage and divorce only add to the mess.

    • Katy

      women in an abusive situation were coaxed to get their Titus 2 on and go back

      LOL, I heart this blog. 🙂

      • Tim

        Amen!!! All this reminds me how Satan tried to manipulate Jesus by throwing a Scripture passage in His face to try to get Jesus to go against His will, which was God’s will.

  17. Linda

    Just this morning I was wondering if it’s wrong to ever name an abuser (such as a spiritual leader or pastor). The thought came that in the Bible, Joseph’s abusers were named (his brothers); David’s abuser was named (Saul); Sampson’s betrayer was named (Delilah); even Jesus’ so-called friend and disciple, Judas, was named as His betrayer. Then I thought about Esther and Mordecai, and the Bible did not try to hide the identity of their enemy, Haman. And now I look on this site, and there is Esther and Mordecai mentioned.

    Even though I think we should be extra careful about not FALSELY accusing anyone, (love covers); I still think there is a time and a place to warn others about the wolves in sheep’s clothing. If they did not exist, God would never have mentioned them in the Bible.

    There truly are pastors that abuse the flock; some have underhanded reasons, others do it just because they can. There are many good, faithful men and women of God leading churches, but the reports of spiritual abuse are growing every day. And not from just one particular church….it covers abuse in every Christian denomination. Any church that is not Christian can also be guilty, but we are talking about churches that should know better since we should all be students of the word of God. How can we say we love God, whom we can’t “see”, when we hate our brother, whom we can see!!??!! There is no love involved in the mistreatment of anyone….abuse in any form is not to be taken lightly.

    • Yes, Linda. And add Diotrephes to your list as well. And Paul rebuking Peter (in Galatians). And Simon the Sorcerer in Acts.

  18. Isurvivedabuse

    I just read this article.
    I was duped into this kind of evil entanglement from an Elder and their private in-church consolers.
    After several years of private counseling sessions with my abusive husband.
    I was told I was not submitting to his leadership.
    The leadership went as far as sending several letters to me after he moved out of the house. Stating I was in danger of going to hell. (short version)
    Long court battle followed with the advice and support to my husband to file legal action against me.
    I can relate with every number you expressed in this article.
    I was even told I will be ex-communicated from the fellowship IF I did not follow their advice.
    Needless to say….
    It has been hell since that day I hired an Domestic Abuse Attorney to help me.
    I am now in the home alone with no contact with my grandkids.
    I was told if I would just repent and bow down to the “big boys” I would be able to have time with my grandkids and have my husband back?
    It does not end there.
    I have several children who will not communicate with me.
    One if them….s far as I know is still attending this abusive….power-hungry leadership.
    As far as the husband in concerned.
    If not for God and the court system….
    It would have been far more devastating.

    • Hi, Isurvivedabuse, welcome aboard, and thanks for sharing.
      I airbrushed a few details in your comment — for your safety’s sake.


  1. Adultery, Abuse and Addiction | AFFAIRCARE

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