Let’s Put This “But he hasn’t physically abused you” Nonsense to Rest Once and For All

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.


[August 22, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Listen to these far too common words from a pastor to an abused wife who has gone to him for help. The abuse has occurred for decades, habitually, without repentance:

From what I have been told, you have suggested that your husband’s looking at inappropriate images on the internet is adultery, but he has not committed the physical act. Could this not be more appropriately handled with counseling than divorce? From what I have been told your husband has not deserted you but conversely is willing to go to a counselor of your choice. You have intimated that your husband has not physically abused you, but has said mean things in the past and has been manipulative. Again, could this not be more appropriately handled with counseling rather than with divorce?”

There it is. “He has not committed the physical act of adultery. He has not physically abused you. Therefore, tough it out and quit complaining. Why, your husband is even willing to come down here to the church building with you and let me counsel the two of you.”

Remember, now, this has been going on for decades. And yet this pastor sees himself as some kind of counseling superman who can leap the tall buildings of this abuser’s lifelong wickedness in a single bound, and quicker than a speeding bullet he just knows that he will be able to show the victim how she is really pretty much to blame herself. Go, Super Pastor!

Physical. Outward. Visible = Real.
Non-physical. Inward. Often invisible = Not real.

Doesn’t the Bible completely reverse these equations? Take 2 Corinthians 3 for instance. You know, where Paul teaches us how he is an apostle of a better covenant than the covenant Moses mediated. Why? Because the Old Covenant was an outward, physical covenant written on tablets of stone which resulted in a fading glory. In contrast, the New Covenant is of a greater, permanent glory because due to the atoning work of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and engraves it upon our hearts. Can’t see it, but in fact it is real and permanent. So this is simply to say to pastors and Christians who pull this “but he hasn’t ever physically….whatever” on us that God’s Word repeatedly emphasizes that just because something is not physical and external and visible in no way means that it is not real! In fact what is not seen (we walk by faith, not by sight) far surpasses in reality that which is fading away.

Want more? Ok. Here is God’s commentary, direct from the Holy Spirit, on verbal abuse:

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”  (Romans 3:13-14  ESV)

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps.  Selah  Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.  (Psalm 140:1-4  ESV)

Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.  (Psalm 52:2  ESV)

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear. They hold fast to their evil purpose; they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see them?”  (Psalm 64:2-5  ESV)

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  (James 3:6-8  ESV)

Alright then, we shall now ask Mr. Super Pastor / Christian / counselor —

You say that this abuse is not real, or at the most it is really not so serious and dangerous as the victim seems to think, because it is not physical. It’s, well, it’s just words or looks, or non-contact behaviors that….well, you know….can’t really hurt anyone so seriously that they would justify that greatest of evils, divorce!? And yet, here is a curious thing. God says….hear that? GOD says that the abuser’s words are:

  • Asp venom.
  • Violence.
  • A sharp razor.
  • A sword.
  • Arrows.
  • Fire (and hellish fire at that).
  • Deadly poison.

So let’s just see what we have here. This woman who has come to you for help is being bitten by an asp, is having violence effected against her, is being cut with a sharp razor and run through with a sword, she is being shot with arrows, burned with fire, and fed a deadly poison regularly.

And you say that this is not grounds for divorce because it is not “physical.” What you mean is, “what is being done to you, Mrs. Victim, isn’t real.”

Mr. Super Pastor, God disagrees with you. You are at odds with the Lord Jesus Christ! He has spoken on this over and over in His Word. He says that non-physical, verbal, emotional abuse is real. That it is deadly. It is murder. That’s what God says.

So please, take some advice. Listen carefully. Stop saying “but it isn’t physical abuse.” Stop it. You are only hurting the victim, showing yourself to be ignorant of the nature and tactics of abuse, and worst of all you are opposing the King whom you claim is your Lord.

One final note for the notorious “permanence view” crowd. Look closely at the list above. You teach that God does not permit the victim of such evil to divorce her poisoner, cutter, stabber, and burner. What shall we say to you? Nothing. Because if you can’t figure out that God permits divorce for the evils in this list, I know of nothing I can say to straighten you out.

[August 22, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 22, 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 August 22, 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 August 22, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 22, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Related reading

Counselors of Death  — This deals with Hebrews 12:4 “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.”

John MacArthur’s Instruction to Abuse Victims – Aaaaargh!!! — In which we discuss MacArthur’s advice to women whose husbands physically abuse them, in which Macarthur says, “Scripture does not automatically permit divorce in the case of a physically abusive husband.”

69 thoughts on “Let’s Put This “But he hasn’t physically abused you” Nonsense to Rest Once and For All”

  1. So well articulated, Jeff. Thank you … I’ve been ‘feeling downcast’; Praise God the photo depiction of “Super Pastor coming to a pew near you” … LOL … had me sputtering with laughter even though it is so true. Thank Lord and bless ACFJ for their truthfulness 🙂

  2. Jeff — Now and then, you write a post that just makes me want to stand up and cheer! How very very affirming. I remember telling a particular counselor/pastor, “But it FEELS like adultery.” I was so sure, Jeff, that pornography and adultery were the same. I was sick inside. SICK. I felt used, cheated on . . . I felt like a prostitute. But, he told me that I could not trust my feelings. After that, I just felt disconnected and crazy. 😦

    Sharing on Give Her Wings FB page later today. Thank you.

    1. I felt like a prostitute. But, he told me that I could not trust my feelings. After that, I just felt disconnected and crazy

      Your were being “Gaslighted”. It is so insidious, they MAKE you think you’re crazy.

  3. Sounds like a pastor we recently encountered telling us were were less than we should be and got more that we should some such nonsense anyway. I went to look up to see what he had been up to lately and I should have screen captured it cause now I can’t find it.
    Anyway he wrote another article and someone commented that people had given it low marks and said the “evil monsters” are at it again. Also I had seen where he had posted an example of the “thoughtful” comments that were made about his God glorifying post and it included Barbara and my comments but interesting it did not include any comments by men. This was the opposite of what he did before when ONLY men’s comments were making it out of moderation and we were not being given a voice until the floodgates got opened, now of course they deleted all comments.

    I think I know of who the bell tolls for……

  4. Newcreation,
    Pastor Jeff is spot on, this sounds like the type of garbage I encountered previously. Now I will toss a tidbit out and depending on response go further or not – My choice, my call but I will not waste time with people that do not care to know the truth. Read all you can. And there is a group of women that have a secret facebook account where we all understand the pain of abuse and the pain of being let down by people such as you encountered. We have gained clarity it is kinda like a christian al-anon abuser style.

    1. Exactly Cindy! “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2

      You can’t reason with someone who is unreasonable.

  5. Let’s not forget financial abuse. It also leaves no broken bones or bruises, but it’s as destructive and wicked as physical assault, except it’s another type of insidious abuse. I’m still suffering from it post-divorce in family court. Some of my PTSD was caused by being financially destroyed by the sociopath. Interestingly, when we went for pastoral counseling because money was one of our many marital problems, our pastor told us to make a budget instead of asking how much the abuser, a plumbing/heating contractor, made. I was in the dark for years about his finances. The day I decided on divorce was Sunday morning during an adult Sunday school class on financial issues. I will never forget when my now-husband told me how much the sociopath made an hour as a plumber and I thought of the impoverished life he made me and our kids live.

    1. Oh yes, financial issues. Ugh.

      My H has spent THOUSANDS on himself – guns, ammo, accessories, RC cars, bicycles, expensive shoes, clothes and accessories, while telling me I have to shop at Goodwill for the children and I (and then complaining that I don’t “dress myself up for him more”). I have struggled to put food in the table with a $30-50 weekly gas/grocery/household budget and yet he eats out on the company dime and rubs it in that he had a nice steak, or sushi. It drives me crazy.

    2. Yes! Finances are another way they destroy us (steal, kill, destroy, steal, kill, destroy……). When my husband was looking to buy a house and I tried to sit down and figure out how much it would cost a month, he refused to allow me to accurately budget. I wanted to know the utility bills the previous owners had in order to help determine cost, tried to budget a certain amount for food, gas, insurance etc. and he got really angry! They never want us to be able to have any control in our lives, and if I’d been allowed to do this, I would have quickly seen that there was no way we could afford the house he was looking at. But I did what I’d been told by many preacher’s and seminars, and turned the financial decisions over to the man. In less than a year we were over one-hundred thousand dollars in debt (we started with several thousand in savings) and ended up in foreclosure. It was only after this traumatic experience that I was able to see the pattern of our marriage. My husband had done this from the beginning–created huge debt by buying a house, car, vacation or something else he did because he “cared” so much about the family, then the kids and I were expected to sacrifice everything in order to pay off this debt. (It always took years and by this time we’d done without so many things, we had to buy things in order to catch up. And if he could see that we were no longer in crisis mode because we had more than two dollars left, he’d make sure to spend us right back into debt.) (Blessedly, God provided many beautiful and free things for us and the children didn’t realize how badly he had stolen from them).

      This was also how God brought me to his truth through his word. I could no longer pretend that my husband cared about us, and in the subsequent years, he also revealed that some of my children were like their father. To have never been given the chance to know that some people are born without a conscience destroyed my ability to make right decisions based on truth.

    3. 17 years of financial abuse makes me terrified, crawl in a ball to look at my bank account because he would always have some justification for emptying it…has to have a new phone for work, etc. Makes it so difficult today with him gone even. I can do my budget but if my math is off or his child support doesn’t get deposited…and trying to explain this fear to someone who has not dealt with it. I HATE the pithy verses. This is body gripping terror that creeps into everything.

    4. Amen, to that, Psalm37. Financial abuse is another way of devaluing another human being. And as you are experiencing now, that form of abuse can continue, well after any piece of paper says you’re divorced. I grieve, every time I hear of one loving mother having to endure such cruelty and victimization, not just from the ex-husband, but from the “family” court system. They need to wise up! You are in my prayers.
      And to all those Know-it-alls, who try to “fix” the financial problems with their tidbits on budgeting, it doesn’t matter what kind of paycheck a husband is making, stinginess and withholding from those in your own household is a matter of the condition of the heart; it is SIN and makes you “worse than an infidel.”
      My husband withheld finances and financial information for 35yrs, and because he made/makes a six figure income, I got fed up with walking around looking like we were impoverished, and applied for credit cards to purchase what the kids and I needed. You can probably guess, that “I am to blame” for all the debts, and now, since he filed for divorce, he wants to leave me with nothing in assets or spousal maintenance, but is asking the judge to award ME all the debt from the marriage because he says it’s mine, I made it. At 60yrs of age, that prospect scares the living daylights out of me. Nevermind, he has forced me to live in poverty the last four years since he threw me out of our house. I had a biological father who squandered all “his” money on himself, while my mother, sisters and I, all went without the necessities of life, including food…….and that’s not counting all the other abuse he perpetrated upon us. Today, I often go without eating, telling myself, “I’ve done it before, I can do it again.” Never, did I think that I would be repeating the abuse of my childhood. Security in my old age is a joke; I’ll be working minimum wage jobs till the day I die, while he enjoys the fruits of his labor with that six figure income and whatever else he has hidden in assets. Thank you, soon-to-be ex-husband.

      1. Rising again, I hate hearing how you have been treated. You deserve better than that.
        Their is no excuse for miserly stingyness.
        Can government aid help?
        Prayers for a reprive in the system being sent your way.

      2. I wonder how many can relate to this when I say that I didn’t know I was being subjected to financial abuse until years after it had been going on.

        Anyone relate to any of the following? Being told that anything I wanted to do or spend money on, including our children, that “We don’t have the money,” even when we did. Being badgered for days if I didn’t give him X amount of dollars of my own money for something he thought we needed or should save for. Being mocked and berated when I bought something with my own money / called ignorant and retarded for what I spent my own money on. Being harassed when I tithed. Being forced to give him my receipts from donations I made to Christian charities so he could use them for a tax write off (after being told how selfish I was throughout the year for giving to total strangers). Being told I was selfish for wanting to go on a mission trip (because I would be leaving him home alone for a week if I went). Being told that anytime I wanted to do something I had to use my own money for it, even if it was something that he also wanted. Being told that on the rare occasion when he spent his own money on me that I owed him something of equal value at some point.

        My favorite was when a rat crawled inside the engine of my car and died and I had to drive it around smelling to high heaven with a baby in the backseat, and he wouldn’t let me take the car to the shop because we of course, didn’t have the money. When I asked him to drive my car and let me drive his since I had the baby he said no, why should he have to smell that stench? I had to talk him into letting me take that car in to get the rat carcass out of it, which he only agreed to when insurance helped pay the repair bill. And when my car was so old it would not start without a lot of effort, it stalled, the heater stopped working so the kids and I had to wear blankets and ski hats when I drove it, the trunk would not open so I had to put groceries in the passenger seat, he still said we didn’t have the money for a new car for me. He said I had to drive that unreliable piece of junk, while he drove a nice car mind you, until my car died. Which meant it either had to explode or leave the kids and I stranded somewhere and be beyond repair before he’d allow us to use the 20k we had saved up towards the purchase of a car. Oh, and the 20k we saved by the way, he said was an “emergency fund”, which could be used for a car if mine exploded, but if it didn’t, then it wasn’t to be touched. He got to say what the emergency was. He also dictated how much we would save for retirement and the kids’ college funds. He used joint account money to pay for a very high cable bill so he could get every sports channel in the U.S. and felt justified in doing so. If I had done that, there would have been hell to pay.

        When I finally left him, he demanded that he get to keep our house, which he couldn’t afford on his own, and that I give him a large amount of money each month to support him. While he was cheating on me. I in the mean time was paying for our kids’ expenses on my own, no help from him. I refused to give him anything simply because I honestly didn’t have it to give, and he harassed me non-stop, threatened me, and then filed for divorce, saying he was done with me. I still find myself speechless to think that someone that abused me and my children for so long would have the audacity, once he finally drove me away, to ask me to support him like he was my dependent. His sinfulness knows no bounds.

        Today he refuses to pay anything for our children unless he has more custody of them. He uses this, which is not in my control but the courts, to punish and control me further. He only hurts the children doing this though. Until I do what he wants, so he says, I’m on my own. More financial abuse.

        I know that God sees every single thing he does, every dollar he steals and threatens with, and He is not pleased. He will not get away with this forever. He should be afraid of what God will do if he doesn’t repent and stop his evil, selfish ways.

      3. RisingAgain, My heart goes out to you. I am so sorry that you lived in that abuse. It seems that the debt should be considered marital debt since it occurred during the marriage and should be divided properly. The judge should take ex’s sizable income into consideration and you should get something. I sincerely hope that the court will render you justice. Keep your eyes on Christ, he cares for you. Praying for your deliverance from this terrible situation.

  6. Bulls-eye! Are people not reading their Bibles? Or, maybe they are but they don’t have “eyes” to see? It’s all in there! “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of this dark age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). And to successfully withstand this “invisible” evil which manifests itself in visible and audible ways, we are instructed to put on the whole armor of God which starts out with girding ourselves with truth! And the truth will set us free!

  7. My personal recollections of trying to make financial ends meet with a N are too painful to type right now. He is the N pastor. I am the wife with a good paying job, trying to be a pastor’s wife, mother to [number redacted] children in a private school, making the house payment because we no longer live in the parsonage, working nearly full time, trying to keep my head on my shoulders because life isn’t making sense. Finally, I tell the psychiatrist over the phone, on my break that it feels like my head is not attached to my body. I go on disability for depression and anxiety. Now I am divorced and sane, but living on disability. How did I miss it? Jeff, please write more to the pastor’s wives who are sucked into this cesspool, nearly drowning. Please continue to help us.

    1. When were you ever allowed to know the truth? That some people are born without a conscience and as a result are 100% evil, hate everyone (but love / worship themselves), must harm others and are unredeemable? Not in any Bible college I know of.

      1. And I paid for more than half of my ex’s last two years of undergrad at a “Christian college” and most of his 3 years for a D Min at a conservative seminary.

      2. Seeing Clearly – Thus he is using those degrees and teaching others?? This is a far too common story that we hear.

      3. Anonymous – Nope, not in any Bible college that’s for sure. The one I went too, and the seminary, spent very little time on”negative” things like this! Thankfully, the Bible itself is filled with such warnings about the nature of man.

  8. Ps Jeff This is wonderful. If this message was being preached on Sunday morning the Amen’s would be flying out of my mouth. Although Super Pastor is real he is also quite sad. The one who thinks he knows all, but really knows nothing.

    Ps 37, Financial abuse can be devastating. I have a friend who is now legally separated, but because she signed documents for a business before that time, she, not he is facing problems with the IRS. She trusted a snake.

  9. Thank you, Jeff. Words cannot express how this exposes and exhorts pastors who do not have the knowledge to give any advice to any couple where abuse is going on. My husband recently called our pastor to meet because he was mad that a control tactic he tried to use on me failed when my seven year old came to my defense. I was accused of warping my son’s mind by teaching him to disrespect him. My son defending me when my husband was using verbal abuse.

    I greatly hesitated to meet with our pastor because not only does my abusive husband conduct and lead trips to Haiti each year in our church, but provides wood for our pastor each winter to keep his home warm and provide jobs for two of his sons in the summer. (He owns his own business).

    We met even though I knew it could not be productive. When I got there, he invited his wife to be a part without me knowing. In the past she has given me bad advice about things I have not gone to her about again because of lack of knowledge. She was there to “put me in my place.”

    For two long hours I was attacked and pointed a finger at. I tried to reason about the pornography and masturbation and abuse only to hear that ALL men struggle with these things and are tempted. I confronted them both about hearing that they are actually allowing this if they say “everyone does this.” I confronted them on how pornography is a form of adultery only to be shot down. Our pastor told us in the past he was going to hold my husband accountable for this in his life after we came back from an intense marriage week where this came out more. I asked our pastor when he last held my husband accountable and he said it had probably been two weeks.

    I said that my husband broke our covenant of marriage by doing this and I heard a lecture for about a half an hour about what the word covenant meant….all the way back to Adam to the present. He said you cannot break a covenant. I wonder if that means my husband is still married to his former two wives.

    I was abused by my pastor and his wife, They see me as weak with no grace and mercy. What about forgiveness they asked? what about your sins and failures? you arent perfect. I was dying inside and every time I tried to defend myself, they came back with more. How can I forgive if he has never asked me to forgive him for all the pain he has done to me? In two past ministries which were intensive weeks, the men pointed out his abuse to me and how he needs to change…..our pastor will never see my husband like they did because they had the knowledge of how to recognize and deal with an abuser. My pastor and his wife were an end in themselves….the buck stops there….no one can give better advice….we know the real issues and have helped many couples.

    When I entered the room at the beginning of the meeting, I was told I was not allowed to bring up any past ministries we attended. That is because my husband rejected both of them and said they were out to get him and that the advice was not biblical….the marriage ministry taught that husbands should “love their wives as Christ loved the church, He even gave himself up for her.” Can’t tell a narcissist to adhere to that…..OUr pastor was called by the man leading that ministry and said that we needed help. He said that my husband was abusive and asked our pastor to support the help we were getting in this ministry. Our pastor argued that he didnt know us as well as he did and didnt have all the information of our pasts. The man asked our pastor if he knew the extent of pornography in my husbands life and he admitted no. It was too much for my pastor to admit that he could not help us so instead of submitting and ask what could he do to help, he told him never to call back again..(his ego was hurt). One young couple that was counseled by our pastor are getting a divorce….similar situation maybe.

    The last hour I poured it out….I lost it….I shared each painful memory I had and cried it out…I addressed the recent four weeks of messages our pastor taught on marriage. I took such detailed notes that i was prepared and threw it back at him. I took each point he addressed and matched it up with an action or words that my husband has done in the past that counters that very teaching point. AFter I spilled my guts, which I regretted later, the pastor looked at my husband and said that he will have to hold him more accountable and meet more. he wife looked at my and said I feel your pain….not too convincing. Nothing said to me.

    We ended and since then, no followup calls from the wife or pastor to me….nothing….no compassion, no advice to help, no advice as a course of action….nothing. The pastor has maybe called my husband twice and I am sure he addresses how he is doing and moves the conversation on to lighthearted things…..I want to scream!!!!!

    How can I follow up? I felt like I fed my pearls to swine, but our pastor is the only one my husband will go to…only until here is proper action done, then my husband will blow him off too. Our pastor made it so easy for my husband to sit back and relax during the meeting while he “set me straight.” The look of complacency on my husband’s face killed me to the core. The abuse increased and the wounds greatly that day. That was three weeks ago.

    Woe to our pastors who refuse to hear the knowledge needed to help. Any advice? I am ready to give up hope.

    1. Newcreation- Your account of your experience here is a model of what is happening to victims in our churches over and over and over again. Thank you very much for recounting it for us. What should you do? That’s the big question, isn’t it? Whatever course you take, it is going to have to be your own decision between you and the Lord. So I will only made suggestions. First, keep reading and learning more about abuse. It is very empowering to do so, and to be able to name the tactics used on you. It really clears the fog. Second, be done with this pastor and his wife. Interacting with them is like getting in the car wreck all over again and you walk away re-traumatized. What judge in the civil arena would sit on a case where the defendant is the guy who gets him all his firewood? That’s crazy. Your husband has this pastor in his back pocket. The pastor is an incompetent judge just from his personal benefits via your husband, let alone the fact that he and his wife really know nothing about the nature and tactics of abuse. You are only going to be traumatized in such a church. Third, I agree completely with your conclusion that your husband has repeatedly and without repentance broken your marriage covenant, and that your pastor is completely out to lunch with this “covenants cannot be broken” nonsense. There is only ONE unbreakable covenant in the whole Bible, and that is the New Covenant established by Christ in His blood for His people. Marriage covenants most certainly are breakable. Many blessings on you as you work to sort these things out.

      1. Jeff, there’s a secret FB group? I haven’t liked the public group because I don’t want others to see. Not because I’m ashamed, but because of the trouble it would stir up.

        I started a secret group for a few select friends to pray for the kids and me. It’s been wonderful.

      2. Marah – the group is not affiliated with ACFJ. I know a person who is in it, but we don’t moderate it. Let me find out more info about it and I will let you and everyone else know.

      3. Thanks again, Jeff and everyone else. I am reading Bancroft’s book now and am anxious to read yours and Barbara’s. I am starting to wake up to all the hidden landmines that have been planted in my own backyard. Thanks for your work and support. The marriage ministry suggested leaving the church too but since I was married before (to another abuser I have to deal with on a daily/weekly basis bc of children) the court watches every step I make. My previous husband has me in court once ore twice a year. He has a lot if money and can afford it. He fought for custody of my daughter (who is now turning on me because I can’t offer what her dad can) and I feel line my head is spinning all the time. I have a seventeen year old son still in the home that also disrespects me as well as my current husbands’ 18 year old. To count, I have at least five abusing men in my life. It is about all I can handle. I have 19 and 22 year old sons who see things a little differently now, but also have two older step daughters who think I am a terrible person. One has married someone just like her dad and the other will soon. It seems hopeless in our family sometimes. I am a strong believer in Christ, but bc we can’t change others there does not seem like change will occur with members if this household. I am almost treasuring times now with my seven year old son from this marriage bc the abuse may come soon. Already he tells me that I can’t come with he and dad on trips bc it is only daddy/son time. Would love to be a secret Facebook friend!

      4. Newcreation – If you will send me an email at swordtrowel@gmail.com requesting to be in that secret FB group, I will have the moderator email you and get you set up. And thank you for sharing your life here with us.

    2. “He said you cannot break a covenant.”

      Then why does the Bible so strongly condemn covenant breakers?

      That makes no sense! Pardon me, but your pastor is an idiot if he believes this….

      1. Pardon me, but your pastor is an idiot if he believes this….

        Joe, you have such a way with words. lol You call a spade a spade. I love it.

    3. New Creation – Let me just say this. I have learned that anytime a pastor or someone who claims to know Christ and be saved, begins to dumb down sin into a “you are just as guilty as your abuser” category, or “we ALL do that!” sort of thing, the chances are huge that you are dealing with religious people and not truly saved individuals. For a saved person to think that porn is the norm or that everyone struggles with it, is ludicrous. Your account sounds very familiar in some ways. My suggestion to you, and as Ps. Crippen said, it is your decision, is that you never return to that pastor and his wife for any future counsel. They are not in tune with the Spirit of Christ and they will be of no value or help to you in anyway.They will run your life amuck and then blame you and say YOU are not the Christian. People like them are just power seekers. They think they are gods who can fix abusers – but we as true Christians know, that no one can fix an abuser, but God. If your husband has been professing Christ for years while continually seeking out porn and abusing you in any fashion, then he is not a true believer and that ends that profession of his and opens the door for you to seek Christ’s resolutions for you and your children.

      1. Thank you! I was married for 13 years to my first abuser and had four children…was not a Christian them and neither was my spouse ….now nine years later with a professing Christian and one more child, I feel as if the first marriage was hardly as difficult but would never want to go back. I have struggled incredibly the past seven or eight years and everything you are saying is becoming more alive and acceptable. I did not know what was going on for years and now the reality is a bit overwhelming, but am trusting in Gods almighty plan for my life and the children!!!

  10. Psalm 37 brought up a very good point about financial abuse. My fathers worst tirades occurred when he was asked to provide for us. Everything from groceries to new shoes was an occasion for him to complain about his poverty because we were taking HIS money. Even a modest request for change to take to school was met with either stoney silence or a lecture about how it was HIS money. We learned quickly not to ask him for anything. It was easier to do without than endure his wrath at being asked to do what every husband and father should do automatically. If it wasn’t for my maternal grandparents we would have gone hungry and shoeless. I don’t think he bought one piece of clothing for my mother in 50 years. But he always had nice clothes and drank at least a six pack of beer every night and smoked a pack of cigarettes every day. He refused to buy life insurance. When my youngest sibling started school my mother went to work to support us and herself. Dad never stopped complaining about it. He would make up ridiculous accusations about how it was hurting him, even accusing her employer of stealing from him. He refused to let her use the car so she had to walk a mile in all weather to get to the bus stop. I could go on but I think you get the gist of this. He was genuinely greedy and selfish but I think he also used money to control us all.
    I had a thought when reading about the enabling pastor and his wife. Were I in the position of that abused wife I would make a list of the abusive behaviors of the husband and next to each one list the scripture that addresses it. I’d also throw in some scriptures pertaining to good shepherds. I wouldn’t even engage them in discussions about my own innocent conduct or my husbands false accusations, but just quote appropriate scriptures. I can’t think of a better way to counter the words of the children of the devil.

    1. Thanks Suzanne for that very real description of financial abuse. There is no way at all – not even the slightest chance – that such a man is a Christian. Your father may well have never made the claim, but some guys like this do. Nope. That is not a regenerate heart inaction. It is the devil’s child at work.

  11. Excellent writing and the Superman pic is very memorable. I have met a few “pastors” like this. I don’t think that they want to see the truth concerning abuse/sin. They are comfortable where they are and don’t want to be challenged. Best to avoid those type of people. I choose to not go to church as much as I used to but when I do go, for the worship and fellowship, I read a book or the Bible during the sermon so as not to waste my time. I don’t trust the treacher’s judgment.

  12. I could really relate to the SuperPastor (or SuperChristian) in my experience. I felt pummeled by their disregard for my pain, denial of my experience and their quick rebukes for me for having experienced it at all. I felt crushed by them as I felt they were putting me back in their place. How I related with pain to NewCreations post (plea). 😦

    I have come to take a new position, however. As I am finding my strength in God’s Word and the Truth He has placed in my heart, when I consider these “Supers” now I instead see cowards who are either unwilling to help those in distress or do not have enough Truth of God’s Word to know God’s position. I wanted and expected validation and wisdom from others who did not have either to give. My mistake.

    Hebrews 10:38 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” I was allowing others’ rebuke and rejection to make me shrink back from my faith…but I am committed to standing on the Truth and not man’s opinion! God showed me how I was allowing others opinion to refute the Truth God had placed in my heart. As in the familiar song “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” I will do everything in my power to not go back to man’s wisdom but only God’s.

    Indeed if physical wounds are a necessary component of abuse, then there is no such thing as spiritual warfare either. I have not heard of a modern day “sons of Sceva” event (though I don’t doubt its possible) but can anyone then claim we are not being harassed and tormented by the devil?

    What does harassment or bullying mean? Tell the people who have been kidnapped internationally whose families are being threatened that there’s no real danger or need for being upset. Shall we give them the “sticks and stones” mantra to ease their suffering? If a prisoner (let me say again a PRISONER) is subjected to too many days of solitary confinement it is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Yet we are to believe that a spouse who has taken vows with God as their witness to love us are now choosing to punish us by refusing to speak to us days on end at times, that THIS is not abusive?

    “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace’, they say when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

    Note Titus 3:10-11 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” The word for divisive here is hairetikós (an adjective, “to choose, have a distinctive opinion”) – a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions “to win others over” to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions.
    God describes this person as warped, sinful and self-condemned.

    1. Valerie, you have studied and applied truths to your own situation to a great extent. And now have verbalized them in a way that make sense to us who remember being disrespected and lied to by church leaders. It gives us courage. Thank you.

    2. “a spouse who has taken vows……to love (their wives)………refusing to speak to us days on end….” Might I add, weeks, months, years on end? Yep, no exaggeration; 31 yrs of rare, intermittent verbalization, the rest total withholding of any verbal communication on any subject. That wasn’t the only area of withholding, but to be treated as if you don’t exist, negating God’s creation, is to demoralize, devastate, and destroy another human soul. In these circumstances, one shrivels up and dies………or wants to die, loses ALL hope, and finds their faith destroyed as well. It is nothing short of psychological and spiritual murder by starvation. There ARE no balms, bandages or sutures that can fix that. I’m so sorry you had to experience that, Valerie. I know your pain, all too well.

  13. I wish I had read something like this 14 years ago, when I was first married and then became a Christian. I always knew something just wasn’t right in my marriage but when I went to the church for help, I was asked how I was contributing to our problems and what could I do to be more loving to my husband. I was told that if I loved him more, he would in turn love me more and the abuse would stop. I did what I was told and it only enabled him and made him think he could treat me however he wanted without any consequences. I would say that turning the other cheek made him into more of an abuser than he would have been had I not. When you are told by Godly people that you have to stay with a person that hurts you constantly, and in my case that was emotionally, sexually, spiritually and sometimes physically, you think God believes this as well. My faith was almost destroyed over time because of this. It took me 14 years to finally realize through reading Leslie Vernick’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and finding a Godly therapist who knew the truth, to realize I had to get out of my marriage. If only the church would have given me Truth… Once you find it though, it does set you free.

    Thank you, Jeff, for writing this, and for being a man that understands abuse. I wish there were more of you.

    1. I was told that if I loved him more, he would in turn love me more and the abuse would stop.

      Jesus’ Beloved, Hold the phone. Doesn’t the Bible say that we are to RESPECT our husbands and husbands should LOVE their wives. Shouldn’t he have LOVED you more and then the abuse would stop? I think someone had the wrong number dialed on that one. Perhaps if he showed you any love you would respect and love him.

      1. Absolutely, Brenda! Thank you!

        The first time I ever heard that teaching presented in Truth was from Tony Evans. He said if a man isn’t submitted to Christ, then you aren’t to submit to him. And if a man isn’t loving you as Christ loves the church, then you are not required to respect him. That verse is about loving and respecting (submitting) only works for those who are doing marriage Jesus’s way. No other way. That means both parties. Not just one trying to bend over backwards to hold the marriage together while they other thinks he can be cruel and still enjoy all the benefits of marriage.

        BTW, my children’s therapist told us yesterday that she feels my husband is generally a good guy and he just doesn’t express himself emotionally or verbally that well from time to time. So that’s all his problem has been all these years. I paid her $ 750 to be totally lied to by my husband and now the kids have no hope of getting accurate help from her. She said we should focus on making the children have a good relationship with their dad and work on helping them to trust him. Then they in time will stop crying when he comes to take them to his house and stop saying he’s mean, that he hurts them, and all will be well. This therapist is not a believer by the way.

        As I sat there begging Jesus to make the truth come out and to keep me from cursing this woman out I thought to myself, my gosh, this is the same thing the church told me to do with my husband for years. YOU Lorene go and love him, and YOU work on trusting him. It’s all up to YOU. Well, you can’t trust someone that hurts you, period. Not even a darn dog can do that. I’m so sick and tired of narcissistic abusers snow jobbing everyone and making the people they abuse get the blame. While we are told we have to do all the work to make a relationship work with these messed up individuals.

        Much prayer would be appreciated for my children. They are really in a lot of pain (ages 4 and 8) being forced to spend time with a dad that they fear. I can’t do a thing about this. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever had to go through, but I cling to my Jesus as I do.

      2. Jesus’ Beloved,
        I fear that the only recourse for your children is to love them well, continue to pray, never say anything bad about their father to them but teach them to protect themselves. If they come home with so much as a scratch get it documented. Keep a journal. They are so young. When my children were that young, their father would come and take them for weekends for a while, but it stopped as he went on to other interests. That was a very good thing. The counselor should loose his/her license. The first should have been the safety and interest of your precious children.

  14. Thank you for this post, Jeff. “But it’s not physical” does need to be laid to rest!

    Your post got me thinking. Take this scenario out of the home. Would a church stand by a professing Christian who was verbally abusing his employee? In all likelihood, he’d be fired from his job, sued, and suffer consequences for that behavior.

    So why on earth is he allowed to do this with impunity to his own wife?! Or does the role of “husband” confer immunity of some sort? Does that fact that she is the “wife” make her less human, only an accessory to the man, and, therefore, not worth the same value and respect as even an employee?!

    “These things ought not to be.” (James 3:10)

  15. Excellent reminder of why I left my husband and how wrong different people in the church were that kept telling I couldn’t divorce him. Also, I pinned this to one of my boards. I hope it helps someone who doesn’t yet know about your site.

    1. Jeff, thanks for writing this. It is so true. I begged my deacon and pastor to help and all they could say was that I had no bruises or broken arms. Police said the same each time they came out. It has been two years now since my kids and I left and have been divorced now for 7 months and life has been wonderful. What is so surprising is how God answers our prayers each day and takes care of us in amazing ways. We have not attended church since either but God lives in us at all times.

      1. Tersia–we too have stopped attending church after decades of abuse. I can finally hear God through his word and it’s been a huge relief. Being raped spiritually, emotionally and financially by wolves in sheep’s clothing for years at church and at home by my husband, now I’m down to just one (my husband). Still horrible but not the one-two punch of the past.

  16. Jeff, I really appreciated your article. When I looked at the picture of the superpastor, an additional sub title popped into my mind…..”The Culprit in the Pulpit”

  17. Just wanted to try to speak my absolute appreciation for your work in exposing darkness, and allowing the truth of God’s message to shine; it helps me keep going… 😊

  18. I really appreciate this post. These same concepts can be related to children of abusive parents. As a foster parent, it somewhat saddens me that we as a society can ONLY legally respond to children in crisis if it is a physically evident. The emotional and psychological damage is not quantifiable, so we leave them. 😦

  19. I just shared this blog on my FB page (thanks, Julie Anne!). This is what I added: “Now I will add a thought to the article- would these same pastors put up with a church member who didn’t physically abuse, but would verbally and emotionally go after the pastor? No? Gee, why not as there is no physical abuse? It would be a different story then as the member would be tossed out of the church…..”

    1. Lois- No, they wouldn’t. UNLESS the abuser has duped enough people in the church and uses all kinds of covert aggressive tactics against the pastor. That is what happened to me for years in the ministry until I finally wised up to what I was really dealing with and our elders did too.

      1. Lois- Thank you. In our book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church, I did in fact include a chapter on how abusers operate in a church, and in particular how they employ their tactics against a genuine pastor in order to obtain power and control over him and thus over the church. Many times, if not virtually always, such abusers/narcissists who want to be “first” like Diotrephes (see 3 John) appear to most everyone in the church as the pillar of the church, the most saintly spouse and parent, and the greatest and most mature Christian. This kind is present every time the church doors are open and many times are patriarchal in their philosophy of marriage and family. One of the earliest warning signs I saw in our church was years ago when the most notorious (as it turns out years later) narcissist in the church told me, after being nominated as an elder, that he saw his position on the church board as one of “being a balance” to me, the pastor. That sounds all wise and good, doesn’t it? But when a narcissist says it, he means that he intends to control the pastor. Why? Because he wants to control everyone. When the pastor does not yield to his tactics, then comes the abuse, the guilting, the shaming, the crazy-making, and the whole gamut of abusive tactics. It took myself and our elders years to sort this out, and thus we can very much identify with abuse victims being unable to see what is really happening to them. When I began to study abuse and both domestic violence and sexual abuse, the lights started going on for me and I preached a 21 part sermon series (see sermonaudio.com/crc for the series) on abuse. Well, the abusers were not at all happy and before the dust settled they were gone, all blaming myself and the elders for treating them so badly. I presently know of one other church where the very same thing happened when the pastor preached on and exposed abuse. Now we are seeing ever more clearly just how much damage this kind of individual had caused in our church for many, many years. It is very much like we are making a brand new start.

  20. Not to mention all the verses about a broken and crushed spirit and His distain towards those who do the breaking and crushing!!

    Thank Jeff for being a voice for those of us whose voice have been silenced!

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