A Cry For Justice

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

Whitewashed Tombs

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Matthew 23:27-28 New American Standard Version

The more I read and encounter those who have been taught they must stay with abusive husbands, the more application I see for these verses, and indeed this entire chapter in Matthew. In this passage, Jesus was pointing out the multiple hypocrisies of the scribes and Pharisees of His day. He was pointing out that their legalism did not equate to true love for God, nor a true relationship with Him. He was exposing their facade of spirituality for what it really was: empty words with no consistency of works, nor love of people.

How does this apply to abuse situations? Just listen to teachers like John Piper and patriarchy types who teach that there are no valid reasons for divorce or that women are to be totally and completely subjected to their husband’s will. These are the people who come across as so spiritual, so in love with Christ and want to follow every jot and tittle of the law.  Their public persona is all slick, neat and tidy. They may be published authors with a national following, or the small-town preacher who is a disciple of the big names. They preach and teach something they call grace, yet lay a heavy burden upon all women in marriages. The facade is in its proper order and ready for public display; however, they teach death, enabling abusers to destroy their wives.

These are the people who, like the Pharisees who idolized the sabbath, so idolize the institution of marriage they forget that marriage was made for mankind. Mankind was not made to serve the institution.

These are the people whose followers destroy their spouses’ dreams, hopes and personalities. Their wives have no choice but to go along because they are held in a spiritual bondage that tells them if they don’t submit, they are vile sinners, rebelling against God. So the wife tries to put on a happy face and make the best of the situation, doing anything she can to not tarnish her husband’s image, lest she fall victim to his wrath and the wrath of the church. Inside, the stench of death is unmistakable, but to outsiders, the image is squeaky clean.

When the door to the truth begins to open the tiniest crack and some of the foulness of what they have done just begins to emerge, either the abuser or his patriarchy allies in church leadership quickly slam it shut. Instead of taking responsibility for their abuse, they blame the victim for the sorry state of the decayed marriage. SHE is in sin. SHE is in rebellion. SHE should be submitting. There is no responsibility placed upon the husband, the one who must be obeyed!

The patriarchy types such as Piper and all who teach that there are no grounds for divorce, have set up a culture in which a woman in such a marriage is a dead woman walking. No one bothers to notice because this evil teaching has been so inculcated in the church that people are conditioned not to notice, or if they do, to run the other way. Very few care what happens to her and many are afraid to touch her, as if she were a modern-day zombie with leprosy! There is no discernment on the part of the church membership. There is no love for the victim from the leadership. By golly, she must stay with the abuser and put up with it or be ostracized from the body of Christ. Her salvation may even be called into question.

Similar to the way the Pharisees of old acted, the law has taken precedence over the hearts and souls of real, hurting people. Christ wants to call the victim wife out of that tomb, just as he did Lazarus, but the Pharisee teachers are holding the stone over the entrance, trapping her inside to continue her plight. Their image must be maintained after all.

How tragic is that?


  1. Well said, Wendell.

    When I went to a counselor (a Christian man, btw), he kept going back to this very point over and over. “The pastor said what?? The leadership did nothing? Your church taught what exactly? Please tell me again because I’m having a hard time believing anyone who knows Christ could treat a victim this way.”

    I appreciated seeing his reaction– quite the wake-up call. Sadly, so many go to counselors who are just another extension of the abusive spiritual environment.

    Truthfully, these days when I’m talking to a victim, I get more upset when hearing about the religious Pharisees condemning the innocent because they are the ones keeping the cage locked and guarded, using the victims own love for Christ as leverage.

  2. Heather2

    So very tragic indeed, Wendell.

    My eyes have seen it and my heart has experienced it. And though some in my former church choose to not dwell on what they have known to be the truth, the fact is that my ex is still welcomed there with open arms.

  3. Anonymous

    Feeling weighed down by the teachings of Piper and others today. I can say I don’t believe them all day but the reality is I do. I am still trapped by their teaching and it’s awful.

    • joepote01

      Anon, I am praying for you, this morning, that the Holy Spirit will especially minister to you, freeing you from the bondage of the false gospel of Piper and those with similar false teaching.

      “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
      Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
      He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
      And recovery of sight to the blind,
      To set free those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:18

    • joepote01

      Anon – I thought of you, when I read this, this afternoon:

      Galatians 5:1 NLT

      “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

      Blessings to you, and freedom in Christ! 🙂

  4. Seeing Clearly

    I was told by church leadership that I couldn’t divorce him (when he was served his divorce papers). Their reasoning was that the only grounds for divorce was unfaithfulness and that he hadn’t been unfaithful. Later, I responded that he loved someone more than he loved me. That is unfaithfulness. He definitely loved himself more than he loved me, his wife. A very selfish love. I’m not talking about the healthy, balanced love we must have for ourselves.
    Church leaders have no idea what really goes on in the home, and they believe only as much as their “Piper-theology” has room for.

    • Robert Simpson

      Since “theology” means the knowledge of God and His ways, we could refer to this type of thinking as “piperology”, since it is mostly about the ideas and ways of Piper.

      • BINGO, Robert!

      • Brenda R

        Piperology stinks. It would be wonderful if all marriages could be good ones and God glorified through them. Reality is they don’t. Piper believes in no divorce for any reason. He cannot support that theology with scripture unless he now has published the Bible according to John Piper. Heaven help the teacher and those being lead astray by his teachings.

  5. Forrest

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir [This link is broken and we were unable to find a copy in the Internet Archive. Editors.].

  6. Sarah

    I was told to check my heart when I asked my church to remove him… yes this was my fault

  7. Teresa

    I think it’s significant that those who teach these things don’t put emphasis on confronting and exhorting abusive men in the church to reform their behavior to align with the Bible. The weight and responsibility falls heavily on the abused, while the abuser is left to his abusive ways. This mentality is a large part of what gives Christianity such a bad reputation among those who deal with abuse.

    • Seeing Clearly

      As long as local churches protect guilty men, membership will continue to dwindle. Only leadership that addresses accountability of men and sees women as truthful when they speak in confidence are going to raise a new generation of people who are making a difference in the world. If women are believed and protected, they will invite their friends and relationships will grow strong as they should and the churches can grow.

    • Nancy

      EXACTLY Teresa!! The fact that they do this is a BLATANT contradiction of scripture and is never questioned, confronted, or opposed with the force that it should be. It’s total “selective enforcement” of and “selective obedience” to scripture that harms the victims and ENCOURAGES the abusers!

  8. lauralee

    I’m seeing a lawyer tomorrow. husband isd trying to manipulate me into a seperation and settling out of court since the court would make him pay what he says he can’t afford. He is a pharmacist and is a very highly manipulative person. The Lord has told me no turning back..What a great reminder of the craziness in the church and the mind games played…I could not endure anymore of his abuse. please pray that I hear the voice of the Lord guiding me and for wisdom for the lawyer….that God would vindicate me and provide all that I am entitled to….thank you….Lauralee

    • Seeing Clearly

      Stay as far away from him as possible. Allow your attorney to advocate for you. Stand firm, stand firm, and then stand firm. You are stronger than you can imagine. Every day is a new day and God’s mercies are new every morning. My prayers and compassion are with you.

    • praying, Lauralee. 🙂

    • Heather2

      Yes! A good attorney and a judge! I tried to be fair and understanding of our financial situation and went with a paralegal. In the end I paid a high price and he got a new house. I lived with my daughter and son-in-law. When we are mentally and emotionally broken down we need someone who will fight for us! I never thought my ex would take advantage of me. But he did.

    • Brenda R

      Don’t let him do it Lauralee. You need a voice working for you that isn’t going to listen to his manipulation.

  9. So John Piper, Voddie Baucham and others of their ilk are not only like Pharisees, they are like Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.

    • Brenda R

      I like that, Barb.

    • Anonymous

      As one who used to adhere to Baucham’s and other’s teachings via homeschool resources, I now find myself being ever so cautious about everyone, which I guess is good. I thought I was being a Berean. Now, as I attempt to warn others I am not being received. They are probably thinking that what I am receiving now as ‘true interpretation’ may eventually be shown to be false as well. I can’t blame them for thinking this. It reveals how very important it is that we pray for righteous leadership within our churches. Those who rightly divide the Word so that countless false doctrines won’t be passed on from generation to generation.

  10. gracemomentum

    Lauralee, I am praying for you as well! I am one of the “if I’d only known then what I know now” people who wanted to find an attorney who would be fair to the ex. Standing firm and believing that he should be held accountable and responsible are GOOD things! He, and abuser sympathizers, are the only ones who would scold you and try to shame you into believing otherwise! Remember, when Jesus uses words like “Woe to….” in his day, those were very strong admonitions. So know that your soon to be ex is a whitewashed tomb and that you are the apple of Christ’s eye! Be sure your lawyer understands narcissism. Unfortunately, I realized 5000.00 later that my lawyer was a narcissist as well and actually did his “job” but was more sympathetic towards my ex..

  11. Brenda R

    Thank you Wendall. This was well written.

  12. gracemomentum

    Something that has struck me that i don’t see often addressed are the words of Jesus when he said in regards to marriage, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” Teachers like Piper are ignorant to believe that God ordains or joins every marriage just because there is a legal document stating that 2 people are now in a legal union. A covenant marriage is a spiritual union, yes it has to go through the “legalities” of the world system but covenant marriage, as God intended and ordained it to be, is to be a visible, tangible example of Christ and his bride, the Church. It’s kind of hard to be that in a marriage to an abuser! I don’t believe God joins all people together just because a certificate states that the 2 are married.

    And even though many spouses believe they are entering into a covenant marriage only to see the abusers true colors come to full light after the “I do’s”, it doesn’t mean that God recognizes the union as a covenant marriage in which He actually took part! He knew the abusers heart and He would not ordain such a union since it could not ever be the tangible, pictorial representation that His heart desired for the world to see and understand.

    Perhaps I am not being “theologically” correct here, but I just don’t believe God ordains every marital union just because man’s law says these 2 have been joined.

  13. Katherine

    This just hurts….
    Almost everything I have learned seems to be unraveling. I’m thankful for it and it’s painful. It seems to be a constant relearning. When I pray the false teachings will be stripped away I’m never prepared for what it will be.
    Feeling blank inside today.

    • joepote01

      Yes, I know what you mean, Katherine.

      I suspect the Israelites felt something similar when they left Egypt…thankful to be free of the shackles of slavery and abuse…yet stripped of all that was familiar and on which they had relied for provision and protection.

      Yet, God was faithful to deliver them, not only from their physical slavery, but also from their reliance on Pharoah and their longing for the (falsely) perceived abundance and safety of Egypt.

      And we can also rely on God’s faithfulness as He delivers us not only from abusive relationships, but also from the false doctrine, lies and misperceptions that held us in the abusive relationship.

      Blessings to you!

      • Seeing Clearly

        I am so thankful for all of the comments re: whitewashed tombs. It is what I truly believe and have figured out through a long process. Unfortunately, I am not surrounded by like minded people, and so keep thoughts to myself. I do share them in little pieces with other women who are journeying through abuse and trying to make sense of their lives.

  14. Finding Answers

    Barb included a graphic on Piper and his ilk resembling Roman soldiers guarding the tomb…

    Remember, too, Roman soldiers defended to the death.

    The analogy stands.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: