God only did one counseling session with Cain

The Bible does not show that Christians ought to spend a long time working with abusers calling them to account and educating them on how they should think and behave.

God only did a single short counseling session with Cain. He did not take a therapeutic approach by gently inviting Cain to explore his emotions, thoughts and life story. He was not sucked in by the hang-dog look on Cain’s face. He just asked Cain a couple of confronting questions and then issued a blunt warning and a stern directive. “Do what is right!” He didn’t spend lots of time spelling out what right and wrong behaviour looked like. He did not spoon feed Cain or give him a list. He assumed that Cain knew right from wrong.

The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  (Genesis 4:6-7  HCSB)

That was it. There was no second session. And no pulling Abel in for a joint counseling session.

The Bible says:

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.  (Titus 3:10  NIV)

Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning,  (Titus 3:10  HCSB)

When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord….you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people…..Put away the evil person from among yourselves.  (1 Corinthians 5:4-5, 11, 13b  HCSB, NLT, HCSB)  [Emphasis added.]

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!  (2 Timothy 3:1-5  HCSB)  [Emphasis added.]

And in the New Testament the instructions to born-again husbands are pretty blunt too. They hit husbands of deficient character right between the eyes:

….love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.  (Colossians 3:19  ESV)  [Emphasis added.]

….love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.  (Colossians 3:19  HCSB)  [Emphasis added.]

Side note: The knee-jerk reaction in Christian circles is to suspect unhappy wives of  bitterness; but the Bible explicitly points to the sin of bitterness in husbands, not wives!

….do not exasperate your children….  (Ephesians 6:4  NIV)

….do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them….  (Ephesians 6:4  NLT – New Living Translation)

….don’t stir up anger in your children….  (Ephesians 6:4  HCSB)  [That’s exactly what abusers do: they teach the kids to disrespect and hate their mother.]

….don’t make your children bitter about life….  (Ephesians 6:4  GW – GOD’S WORD Translation, NOG – Names of God)

And the clincher, 1 Peter 3:7 —

….be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  (NIV)  [Emphasis added.]

….give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.  (NLT – New Living Translation)  [Emphasis added.]

….live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.  (ISV – International Standard Version)  [Emphasis added.]

….treat your wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honor as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way nothing will hinder your prayers.  (NET – New English Translation)  [Emphasis added.]

Since these instructions and examples are so blunt, we must be careful to think biblically regarding how Christians ought to “work with” men who abuse their families.

When pastors or authors or Christians in general “work with” abusers, we need to ask ourselves: are they actually enabling the abuser and causing more suffering for the victim?

How could they be doing this? Because this work may be communicating to everyone that there is hope for the abuser — and that if we can just get him to see some things, we can fix him. That in fact, the fellow may even be a Christian. And when these things are driving a “ministry,” victims can be guilted. If only they stay with the abuser longer. If only they pray harder for him. If only they can see the good that lurks in him someplace as Luke insisted it did in Darth Vader [Internet Archive link]1.

I am not saying that there is no hope for the abuser. Any abuser can change if he is genuinely born again — which is an initiative of God, not a an act of self-will:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Eph 2:8-9  ESV)

Any abuser can change if he becomes genuinely born again and wills to change his character and cooperates with the Holy Spirit to work on his character development, steadily, for a long time, with no expectation of earning chips for good behaviour that he can cash in for the jackpot of reconciliation with his victim. If he nurses any lingering sense of entitlement, he is not changed. He is likely to be still unregenerate, just parroting the talk but not walking the walk, without the Spirit of God. And the longer he continues that way, the more likely he will be reprobate.

Even an abuser who is not born again may — IF he so chooses — work on his character to become a man who shows respect and gives honour to his wife and children, who affectionately considers their needs and preferences, though it will be more difficult for him to effect deep and abiding character improvement since he does not have the indwelling Spirit. The payoff for continuing in his abusive ways is very great, and he usually perceives reformation as having far fewer benefits, so the self-reforming abuser generally falls back into his old ways and often become more canny, more deceptive, more hard-hearted.

I believe the right way to deal with an abuser who has been in the church and who hides behind a Christian façade and uses the name of Christ to justify his evil is to tell him “Depart from our midst. Go! God does not permit you to be among us.” And then focus on helping the victim.

Addit (added 14 Nov 2014)

The disastrous fodder given by ministries like Focus On the Family has helped numerous Cains to remain ensconced happily in churches, while behind closed doors these Cains are pushing borderline / perverted sexual practices onto their wives with the “endorsement” of the “Highly Respected Ministry”.

FOF materials often tell husbands and wives that “they are to please” each other. Recommended reading material often suggests that the woman experiment with different enticements, etc. This has fed a breed of “C”hristians, men and women who are no different than the world; however, when there is one spouse who doesn’t want to experiment, that pure-minded spouse is labeled as being “frigid”, “cold”, etc. Promise Keepers was another organization that did much damage.

1[February 26, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Darth Vader. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[February 26, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to February 26, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to February 26, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to February 26, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (February 26, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

56 thoughts on “God only did one counseling session with Cain”

  1. You have no idea how timely this post is in my life. I wish I could safely say more. The timing of God is a beautiful and remarkable thing. Thank you SO much.

  2. What you are saying it’s absolutely true and God is very clear in His word and consistent in following through. The first year of my marriage was absolute brutal abuse (and without laying a hand on me) I cried out to my Daddy, Jesus Christ, and the soon-to-be x had the same dream twice that he was in hell. I know God had intervened and if I would have asked the Lord back then to remove the x from my life and protect me and my children, He would have. I have been praying out of serious concern for the x for many years. What’s scary is that now that the x has abandoned us and we’re no longer together, I have lost the desire to intervene in prayer. I wonder it he has been turned over to a reprobate mind? I feel very strongly that God is telling me not to negotiate or talk to him about anything, unless it pertains to the divorce.

  3. I believe the right way to deal with an abuser who has been in the church and who hides behind a Christian facade and uses the name of Christ to justify his evil is to tell him “Depart from our midst. Go! God does not permit you to be among us.” And then focus on helping the victim.

    Thank you, Barbara, I couldn’t agree more.

    How else can the church ever be a sanctuary for the oppressed victim of abuse for healing, if it is also a welcome habitation for the perpetrator?

    1. 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.


      I believe the right way to deal with an abuser who has been in the church and who hides behind a Christian facade and uses the name of Christ to justify his evil is to tell him “Depart from our midst. Go! God does not permit you to be among us.” And then focus on helping the victim.

      Actually I cribbed that bit from an email from Jeff C; I knew he wouldn’t mind. So thanks to Jeff.

  4. When pastors or authors or Christians in general “work with” abusers, we need to ask ourselves: are they actually enabling the abuser and causing more suffering for the victim?

    If they are suggesting that the victim stay with the abuser, most definitely they are enabling that person and causing much suffering on the victim. The victim should be kept out of harm’s way. If the abuser is a professing Christian and will not repent, he should be put out of the church immediately. The victim should not be bound to this person and [be] free as if they were never married.

    If the abuser is not a Christian, they will probably not listen to anyone in the church to come to Christ, but an effort should be made. At any rate the victim should not be held responsible for that person’s salvation and should not be bound to them.

  5. Thanks, Barbara — very thought provoking — you said:

    When pastors or authors or Christians in general “work with” abusers, we need to ask ourselves: are they actually enabling the abuser and causing more suffering for the victim?

    I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place with my separated husband getting so much help and support esp from Christians and our church….I find it confusing….why shouldn’t he get support? If he is genuinely seeking to change then the body of Christ is a great place to be to do that….but I feel disenfranchised as so few understand it from my perspective and just see it as a relationship difficulty (as opposed to abuse) so if I am to continue e.g. with no contact after he has “done all this work” it is I who am likely to be labelled as the “marriage breaker” and “unreasonable”….I am bracing myself for the pressure both overt and covert that will be brought to bear on me to reconcile with my husband.

    You also said change was possible, I have read things about this, about how you would know if he has changed, but I really don’t know how I would know as I can’t trust him not to manipulate and he presents well — how will I ever get past that to know if he has changed….and I don’t want to rule out that God could indeed work in his life to change him….is it possible I could miss it by not being willing to find out….or risk?. In your hypothetical case of the abuser changing how would you know? Any ideas would be very welcome!

    Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1. Barbara, what an insightful post!! Thank you for this truth! 🙂

      Savedbygrace, I have felt the pain and confusion you describe with respect to how your abuser is being supported. You are right — it is not biblical to support an abuser in my understanding of Scripture. What I have heard hundreds of times both here and elsewhere is the consistent message of the church to promote love, grace, forgiveness and downplay God’s wrath and justice. Yet without God’s wrath and justice His love and grace are not seen for what they really are. They are cheapened. I am reading a book by AW Tozer (“Attributes of God”) in which he states that all character traits of God are equal — He has equal amounts of love, wrath, justice, grace as well as the rest of His characteristics.

      I have come to believe that one of the key principles missing in the church is the realization of God’s holiness. This isn’t just goodness and righteousness, God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. When we try to “love over” sin we mock God’s holiness. If we are to worship God we must hate what God hates. In Proverbs 6:16-19 it lists some of the things God hates. Making that list is the people themselves who indulge in wickedness. Is it not an affront to Holy God when we essentially tell Almighty God He is too harsh and He must be more loving and accepting of sin? Isn’t this what we tell Him when we refuse to hate what He hates and refuse to accept God’s position on sin?

      So, yes, Savedbygrace, I believe that the unrest you feel in your soul is due to your knowledge of Scripture and an abuser gaining support just doesn’t line up with that. I have met and continue to meet the opposition and twisted thinking you describe and that opposition is what has forced me to search intently God’s Word to know truth for myself and then stand in it….even if I’m standing alone.

    2. Dear Savedbygrace,
      I know I’m not Barbara and I don’t really know your situation, but can I just say one thing? Sit with God in this. Ask Him what He wants for you in this situation. We cannot know what is truly going on in someone else’s mind. God does though. He not only knows that but also knows the vision He has for you in this situation. Plead, ask, and don’t stop till you get an answer about what to do. Ask for a sign. Ask for Him to make it crystal clear. Don’t listen to anyone who isn’t giving you Godly advice. Don’t listen to anyone that is judging or condemning you. Don’t listen to anyone that is labeling you a “marriage breaker.” Listen only to those who call you a child of God. And be still and know that He is God. Be still so you’ll be able to hear God’s voice. He will respond. You’re not alone! You’re not alone!

      1. Thank you, Sister in Christ, the upside of all this is a closer walk with Jesus and thank you for the encouragement that He knows and I will trust Him to make it plain to me….as my counsellor reminds me there is no rush, I can take my time…. Be still….thanks for that reminder. 🙂 And that you cared enough to respond. 🙂 I truly am not alone, your sister —

    3. Savedbygrace, the truth is, abusers very rarely (if ever) change. Many work the system as long as they think it keeps their chance of returning to the old ways alive. When it becomes apparent that the victim is moving on, they usually drop out of any counseling altogether.

      You seem to be pressured by others. They may be well-meaning, but they don’t have to live with the abuser as you do. They won’t have to deal with the consequences of whether your husband is sincere, or the real possibility that their intervention will cause the abuse to escalate. I have been in your situation and suggest that you follow your instincts. If you don’t truly feel that he has changed, don’t be pressured into any decisions that you are not comfortable with.

      John Piper teaches that his groupies should articulate a hatred for divorce towards those in situations such as you are in. Be prepared that Piper’s false, legalistic teaching may be an influence in your church. You may be pressured to the extent that you will need to leave that church. Be prepared for that and keep to your boundaries.

      If you must leave, as unsettling as that is, God will bless you and lead you to a better church. When you look back, you will find that the legalistic church was not where God wanted you to be.

      Blessings to you.

    4. Savedbygrace, one thing that many churches get wrong is that they offer “support” to the abuser, when what they should be doing is holding him accountable. Support is different from accountability. Holding someone accountable is more stern than giving them support. Support is what churches should offer victims, not abusers.

      But as you say, since they don’t see it as abuse but as a relationship problem, they are not going to understand this. They need to reevaluate their foundational premises if they are going to be of any real help to victims of abuse.

      You asked:

      why shouldn’t he get support?

      I’ll tell you why. If he gets support without being held accountable — without being required to truly repent and change his bedrock attitudes that feed his abusiveness — the support he is given will only feed his defective character. It may prompt him to move around some of the deck chairs on the Titanic, but that ole ship is still heading for the iceberg and sure as anything that iceberg is going to rip holes in the buoyancy chambers. If not now, on the Day of the Lord, those buoyancy chambers will not hold him afloat. They will be shown to be what they always were: puffed up pride and lies.

      Those who hold abusers accountable and do it well may offer support to abusers in some measure, but it’s support offered wisely, not foolishly. Such people hold the abusers accountable for their misdeeds, wrong beliefs and attitudes, while also conveying that there is hope — IF the abuser chooses to change and works at changing in obedience to the Spirit of God. Such wise people are rarely found in churches. They are more likely to be found running programs for men who abuse women and children. And they have had lots of training in running such programs. And as I’ve pointed out in this post, that kind of counseling is not what we see modelled or offered in the Bible. The Bible’s counseling is simply: humble yourself, repent, you must be born again; and if you are born again then renew your mind and work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

  6. (sigh)….only ONE counseling session….why aren’t are pastor / Elders living this out? I must confess that I best stay away from the local churches at this point in my life. I wouldn’t say I’m embittered, however, I’m tired of being invited to participate in “Alpha” programs, Beth Moore Bible studies, etc. when they won’t dare deal with the spiritual and domestic abuse. As I talk with others….well, I receive the walk-by response whereas others are now asking my spouse to help them with home projects.

  7. Forgot to endorse what Valerie said because it answers my first comment’s question….

    I have come to believe that one of the key principles missing in the church is the realization of God’s holiness. This isn’t just goodness and righteousness, God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. When we try to “love over” sin we mock God’s holiness. If we are to worship God we must hate what God hates. In Proverbs 6:16-19 it lists some of the things God hates.


  8. Love this post!

    I have been saying for a long time, that when Jesus instructed us to take the Gospel, He said that if it was rejected, we were to shake the dust off our feet and move on. He did not tell us to continue to go and beg someone to repent and receive Christ. Rejecting the Gospel is more than just having someone throw the Bible back in our face. Rejection is also when someone refuses to admit their sin, refuses to get counsel, refuses to stop abusing and / or refuses to stop sinning against their spouse or family, in any area. That is rejection of the Gospel.

    I also really like that you made that exposé for an unbeliever even being able to pull it together enough to work on their character! How sad that we have reduced being a Christian to accepting Christ and then just doing whatever you want to do, including abusing your spouse and children. Anyone who claims Christ and does those things, is just a liar. A lost liar.

    Then there are those who use the excuse that the abuser is an unbeliever. They will admit that he is, but then use that as an excuse for him to abuse. They say things like, “Well just give him a break and wait it out. I mean after all, he is lost. Don’t you feel sorry for him because of that?” But the point is made beautifully here by you, Barb, that even unbelievers don’t abuse their wives and children! What is wrong with us?

    1. Seeing Clearly, I have taken several of Beth Moore’s Bible Studies. In one of her early ones she does say that abuse is not a part of marriage and even goes on to say that if you are being abused to get out and seek help. More recently she has said if you are having trouble in your marriage, go home and work on your marriage. That would have left a woman who was being abused without hope.

      I wrote to Ms Moore at “Living Proof Ministries”, her “women’s ministry”. The response was that they take “NO” stand on the subject of abuse or divorce because of abuse and that a woman who is being abused should speak to their pastor. Once again “no hope” in most cases. That prompted me to write back giving my sadness at their stand considering they are a “women’s ministry”. I have not been involved in a study that she wrote since. I also declined to get into a study by R C Sproul Jr because of the whole wife-spanking thing. I’m not 100% sure that was confirmed, but I wasn’t going to be a part of something that I was not sure of.

      1. Thank you, Brenda, your input regarding Beth Moore is extremely helpful. The fact that you contacted her and got her specific statement sheds the light that I was looking for.

  9. This post leaves me baffled. My current h has read many books, listened to many CDs, watched many DVDs on marriage, we’ve gone to a “marriage intensive”, 4 rounds of week-long counseling, and currently he’s on an online counseling site where he’s writing back and forth with some people and doesn’t want me to read what they’re writing. What’s with all that? Is he addicted to counseling? He doesn’t do what they tell him. Or is he hiding behind “getting help” so he can put off doing it? Has anyone else had this?

    Last week he asked me 2 questions, I guess something the online people told him to do. One was, “did I think he flirted?” My answer was that “I don’t know and I don’t care.” If he wanted to flirt, I know he’s sneaky enough to do it when I wasn’t looking. I just don’t care. I’ve detached and am living my own life. So he’s trying to reel me in again. Not happening. I think I feel like Moses with Pharaoh. Ten chances and I don’t believe you anymore. And you say maybe one should have been enough. Wow, am I patient, or what? Duh! More like enabling.

    All that to say, thank you for this. He keeps saying he doesn’t understand, I need to explain again in a different way. Pfffft!! I say, “It’s all in The Book”. He hates that, but it is.

    1. Ditto. I got that question to. It came from a Dobson marriage devotional he received daily, where they list three questions at the bottom to talk about. He would forward only selected, pointed ones, then claim he was just mindlessly forwarding, not picking and choosing. Then why wasn’t that automatically done every day? He never answered the questions or said what it meant to him, so what was the point? That was just one of several different online devotionals he selectively forwarded. I flipped out about it a few weeks ago, and it slowed down and finally stopped. He, too, has spent hundred on books and DVDs, placing them carefully where I can see them when I won’t go through it. I say, if they are so wonderful, go through them yourself and prove to me by your life how helpful they are. Yah, right. Like that’s going to happen. I did try with one book, which I had read years ago, then it was, well then, if you knew all this stuff, why didn’t you do your part? I tried — it was pointless as I was and am not in a healthy marriage, something I am just learning. This was an excellent and helpful post.

  10. Hi, Sunflower, whilst some people struggle to get their partners to counselling, courses and reading books, my separated husband also devoured it all and I was left feeling so hopeless because nothing made a difference! For him, I think it gave him the illusion that he was pulling his weight and “working on our issues” it also gave him full reason to attribute blame to me — and to avoid looking at his own issues and truly facing his pain, As I have learned none of that works as it’s not a relationship issue — it’s abuse. That’s something I’m not responsible for. I’ve only gained peace of mind and at least some perspective by disengaging from the conversation (actually — sadly — the only way I had of successfully doing that was separating). Now I leave him to it….my job is to heal from all that has gone down. 🙂 Stay strong, God bless.

  11. Marriage counseling to strengthen a relationship can perhaps strengthen it. Marriage counseling to stop abuse will also strengthen — the abuse. I saw it first-hand and did not know what was going on. We spent many hours in sessions, with different professionals, all to no avail. I just got sicker and sicker. A lot of time wasted, very destructive.

    A year spent with ACFJ has shed light and increased my understanding to an indescribable level. Thank you.

    There is a loneliness and a sadness that settles within me. My N ex appears acceptable to so many. Just a few friends see him as I now do. I am thankful for the refuge I find in ACFJ.

    That hardly says it, but it says it all.

    1. Seeing Clearly, I feel the same as you. Finding ACFJ has been like finding a safe haven, a refuge. I devour every post and every comment to each post. As I read, I feel so validated and supported. Here I am amongst women who UNDERSTAND what I have lived through for many, many years. This site gives us a place to voice the things we couldn’t say to our spouse, or we tried to say and were belittled, ridiculed, scoffed at, or treated with indifference toward.

      I am so very fortunate that I have had the love and support of everyone in my family, my ex’s family, my friends, and my church. I feel VERY frustrated for those on here who have not had this luxury / privilege. I almost feel guilty about it as I read all of the sad, sad posts of women whose are not believed and helped. Oh, I feel for you.

      Seeing Clearly, I understand the loneliness and sadness you expressed in your post [comment]. The help and validation available at this website is wonderful, but even so, I still long for the marriage I had pictured in my mind. Not a perfect marriage mind you, but one with a mutual love and respect between husband and wife that would have been colored with mutual satisfaction, happiness, and purpose. It is a sad thing when your big dream is lost.

      Maybe my ideal of a happy / successful marriage was self-deceiving. My ex once told me my vision for a good, happy, healthy, strong marriage (and family) was a fantasy, a fairy tale. He said I was living in “La La Land”. He would say (regarding our marriage), “THIS is REAL life, get your head out of the books you are reading.” The irony in that is I was reading books about how to be a good, better, best wife in order to mold myself into a woman he might find acceptable and appealing. I felt like Leah in the Bible, trying to earn my husband’s love and acceptance. After Leah had a baby boy with Jacob, who did not love her, she said —

      (Genensis 29:32) ….Surely my husband will love me now.”

      And, later after the birth of yet another son —

      ….Now….my husband will become attached to me…. [Genesis 29:34]

      But it wasn’t happening for her, nor did I ever see it happen for me.

      I wanted and worked hard to learn / discover the MAGICAL fix that would suddenly be THE THING that I was missing to cause my husband to be pleased with me. I counseled with other women as to what worked in their marriages, or what didn’t work in their failed marriages. I would take what I learned and try to either do or not do the things they told me. I read oodles of books about how to be a happy wife, or an excellent wife, or a meek and quiet wife, or a better helpmeet….how to respect, obey, and honor more and find my husband’s love language….how to watch my words, manage my time better, be better between the sheets….how to submit and let my husband lead (the patriarchy stuff), how to act right when my spouse acted wrong. When all that didn’t work, I read books about how to do tough love, how to keep my love on, how to stop walking on eggshells, how to be a divorce buster. I even started reading books on personality disorders toward the end, as I felt I had covered all the bases as far as I could on making myself into this awesome wife it seemed my husband wanted.

      Maybe it wasn’t me who was the problem, but HIM! I even have books I still have not opened because I bought them all with continued hope that ONE OF THEM would give me the FIX for my broken marriage. I just knew I must be missing S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G. After all, if my ex was not happy it MUST BE because of something I was or was not doing as his wife to make / keep him happy. And he would make sure I knew when he was not happy….which was most of the time. He told me the only book I should read is the Bible (which I did read, inconsistently and in a dabbling way). There was truth in what he said, I must say. I wish I had been more diligent in digging deep in to the Word. I have since grown in this area. He was not reading the Bible, nor attending church for most of the marriage.

      About four years ago, I began a journey of reading a chronological Bible from start to finish. That was the beginning of a wonderful adventure through God’s Word for me. God showed me in the Genesis account alone that humans are flawed and dysfunctional. From the first family forward, families have been broken. Eve was not a perfect wife, Adam was not “all that”, and their kids were a mess, too. This gave me peace, but it didn’t relieve the longing in me to have a Godly family. I pursued God and desired so much to have AT LEAST a half-way healthy family, but my husband would not EVER embrace my thoughts or ideas of how to live in a more healthy fashion. It’s hard when you desire the things of God and your husband scoffs and scorns the ideas / suggestions you present to him — all the while he professes Christianity and DEMANDS that you honor and submit to his way of leading, even if it involves unChrist-like behavior. (After all “Peter and his fishermen-friend disciples were men’s men, salty sea dogs, ya know.”)

      All this to say, I understand Seeing Clearly’s comment about a loneliness and sadness that settles in her. Even though I have found this wonderful website, and I savor the comfort I feel here among women like myself, I still grieve the loss of not just the man who was my husband (there were / are good parts to the man), but the loss of the hopes and dreams and the effort I feel I put forth (not said in a prideful way, mind you) toward being a Godly wife / woman and in building a Godly family. I know all is not lost, as I can offer the knowledge I have gained along the way to my sons and daughters, but I do have some bitterness in realizing that the principles and behaviors I learned, applied, and invested, did not do in my marriage what I hoped and even expected. I am hopeful there are others who have had wonderful marital breakthroughs / outcomes from reading and applying the principles from the books I have read. But I am coming to realize through this website that with an abuser many of the things we victims do for the purpose of making our marriages better actually feed into our abuser’s never ending hunger for more, more, more sacrificial offerings. (And, yes, I am still struggling with calling my ex an abuser.)

      And, Seeing Clearly, I am glad you shared that all the counseling you endured was for nothing (not glad that that was your outcome….but glad you posted [commented] the info). I begged my now ex many times over the years, especially before the end which I saw coming, to go with me to find someone to help fix our mess. He refused. I was so upset he would not seek help from ANYONE or ANYWHERE. Maybe it is a blessing we did not go. He is so single-minded (that he is RIGHT and I am WRONG) that it may have been more harmful than beneficial to us, and a waste of money and months or years. I guess I should rejoice that I did not have to endure more disappointment in that if we had gone to counseling I would have had great expectations (that ever hopeful, enduring, steadfast victim mindset) for change in our relationship that may have never come to pass. It may have only added more hurt and pain to the colossal pain I was already feeling — pain that has subsided but is still resident a year later.

      [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1. Thank you for your encouragement, TB. Count it all joy that you never stepped into a counselor’s office with your ex. You definitely went above and beyond in so many other ways. Having the acceptance of friends and family is priceless.

      2. TB, I want to simply say that the lament you have penned here is thorough, accurate, godly, honest and valid in every point. Thank you for expressing it all. You write well.

    2. It sort of freaked me out when I first started finding websites like this. It was almost eerie that so many women were writing about so many things that were exactly the same and yet, we had never met. I have felt instant kinship with every woman who posts, not because we go to church together, or shop or go to movies or call each other, but because we have a shared experience of pain. One bright spot (besides not feeling so lonely) is that because abusers are SO consistent, learning their playbook has helped me immensely. It’s almost like watching an actor and you know his lines before he says them! I have gotten to the point where I entertain myself by guessing what he will say next and I am uncannily accurate! Anyway, I want to thank you ladies for sharing your sorrow and your newfound knowledge to help the next one that is floundering in the stormy sea of abuse.

      1. Debbie, I can predict mine too, although he likes to pride himself on having the element of surprise over me. Anticipating the moves of my abuser as if I am a mere piece being played in a chess game to try to break me down and put me in an unfavorable position….I have learned that abusers are very obsessed with what their target’s values. As once they know what that information is, they use it to further manipulate and control the situation. So I am guarded about revealing what I value or care about as it will be the next thing on the chopping block if I don’t.

        I could probably write a book on how to cope with an abuser “until you can manage to extricate yourself”, as the many years of being around one has given me much insight into their covert underhanded ways. Praying for your continued encouragement and strength.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  12. Sobering.
    In my limited experience as a young pastor, I feel abusers are sinfully inclined to being manipulative and one who deals with abusers can err in thinking they are trying to be gracious and thus enable the conflict to go longer. I think this post is something every minister must read and think about. The fear of God must make a biblical counselor be very careful not to give an inch to an abuser in thinking what they do is okay.

  13. I’ve just added this to the bottom of the post, on the suggestion of one of our readers:

    The disastrous fodder given by ministries like Focus On the Family has helped numerous Cains to remain ensconced happily in churches, while behind closed doors these Cains are pushing borderline / perverted sexual practices onto their wives with the “endorsement” of the “Highly Respected Ministry”.

    FOF materials often tell husbands and wives that “they are to please” each other. Recommended reading material often suggests that the woman experiment with different enticements, etc. This has fed a breed of “C”hristians, men and women who are no different than the world; however, when there is one spouse who doesn’t want to experiment, that pure-minded spouse is labeled as being “frigid”, “cold”, etc. Promise Keepers was another organization that did much damage.

    1. Thank you for adding these insights. Those teachings created more conflict within me. They are filed under “the duties of the wife to satisfy the sexual needs of her husband.” I was being forced, forced to do that which betrayed the real me. I couldn’t put into words, but felt uncooperative. Now it makes sense that I was being expected to satisfy the sexual desires of my abuser. I’d already done that as a young girl and so one can imagine the turmoil inside when authority is telling me to do this as an adult…. So much sadness inside me right now.

    2. Barb,
      Thank you for those insights. I listened to “FOF” a couple of times and was responding in my car with corrections to the speaker that I wish he could have heard. A woman was telling this person what horrid things her husband was doing to her and he nonchalantly was telling her “so what, you’re married”. I had to pull over so I wouldn’t cause an accident.

      Experiment, I do not understand the concept. My first marital abuser used to tie me to the bed while I was asleep and when I would wake up, tap out dirges on the metal bars. Experiment that I was not fond of but happened several times. Ripping off my night gown. I went to t-shirts after that. Telling me about the woman he took to his room while overseas who turned out to be a man who he beat up. There is so much more but far too graphic. I cringe to think about it. It is no wonder, that for the most part, I am comforted by being single.

      1. I too correct the radio station counsilors, Brenda, but it gets too close to home with me and I have to turn it off. We have a “FLR” [Family Life Radio] program that I usually turn on when in my car to hear the Christian music. But every now and then I hear a “better your marriage program” that literally makes me sick. The propaganda that they are pushing down women’s throats leaves the men feeling entitled in a marriage, and will only further the abuser’s agenda. Where do they get this stuff, and how did we get so far off of the original idea of God’s intended mutual-love-and-respect type of marriage? Deep inside I know there are thousands of hurting and confused Christian women out there lost in the sea of spousal abuse, looking for answers, and can’t get the help they need. “Covert aggressive abuse” is really what this man should be exposing in the church, instead of the “Save your marriage teaching” that is being exalted.

        I called in one day looong ago, and tried to state my case to him, to see if I could get some help on one of his programs, when he promptly stopped me in the middle of trying to describe my horrible situation to him, and he disconnected me, and afterwards dismissed my case as too far gone to help anymore. (Yes I mentioned abuse and the many years of porn that 3 of my young children had also witnessed him looking at.)

      2. Soldiergirl,
        I no longer listen to “FLR” at all. I listen to all music Christian radio or turn it off. I won’t listen to that form of ignorance any longer.

  14. I have tuned in to many radio broadcasts about “how to be a Godly wife.” I used to feed off them to get insight on how to be better at the job. I would apply what I heard to my marriage and life, but it never “fixed” the problem. It was like trying to put out lots of little fires. You get one fire put out over here and another two pop up over there. I could never get all the fires put out, or even maintained all at once, to satisfy my ex. He seemed to always uncover another fault I had. (Two months post-divorce he sends me links to radio broadcasts that deal with this very topic….always with the wife as the one who has come to her senses, or has surrendered her will and life completely to God and then digs in with trust in the Almighty to fix herself, her man and her marriage.)

    Lately, when I hear a radio show with the women guests all sugary-sweet talking about how their submission won the heart of their renegade men, it makes me want to spit. I talk to God about it and ask Him, “It this what is really in my heart — anger, bitterness, resentment? Was I really not cut out for the submissive helpmeet role? Maybe I really am a rebel at heart?!?! I don’t even want to hear this BS from these women ANYMORE.”

    I feel like this kind of attitude shows a disdain for God’s Word, and guilt then sweeps over me. But after having worked so hard to live according to the Word, and then having been crushed by that same Word through my ex’s using it to demand more from me, I am having a hard time dealing with hearing these women who have seemingly “arrived” in their marriages through the application of Scripture, when I have been there, done that, and DIDN’T get the results they are on the air so confidently telling all the rest of us we, too, can achieve if we only do what the Word says. (Sorry for the long sentence.)

    Radio shows need to bring on a guest or two who has applied the principles these women are touting but have NOT gotten the results they had desired or expected….and then ask what THAT looks like. Let’s talk about THAT. Leslie Vernick addresses this in her book “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong.” It’s a hard row to hoe, but most of us here have been hoeing it a long time. Some, like me, grew too weary to continue hoeing unfertile, unproductive, uncooperative ground.

    (My ex would here say something about how even Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that he wanted removed but God left it there. Or how suffering is good for us. Or how we are to lay down our lives for others, or turn the other cheek. I wish I would stop hearing his voice when I state my case.)

    I feel a rant coming on….

    Better stop now….

    1. Oh and about those women on these Christian radio programs that share an audio clip about “being a more submissive wife”? Is there any the truth in that for an abused spouse? I don’t think so. These are “cherry-picked testimonies” from the “good ole boys” club, to keep the listening abused women from hearing that still small voice inside compelling her to cry out for help to find God’s truth that will ultimately set her free. This non-applicable “submissive” advice could never fix an abusive situation and would only make it worse, because they won’t acknowledge the heavy cross that many of us have to carry with our covert aggressive abusers. This is nothing more than bad advice for the suffering wife needing to rightly divide the word of truth to set her free from the bondage to her abuser.

  15. Oh, how I hear you all about the radio and book examples! 😦 I, too, bought every book I could get my hands on and listened to numerous “FOF” radio programs in hopes of hearing something new that would make my husband want to love me and treat me kindly. I cringe when I consider all the times I would gush over him and spend time fawning over his great qualities and what I appreciated about him….asking him what I could do to be a better wife (this still makes me wince). I couldn’t help but notice, however, that he NEVER asked me this question — even after bringing that fact to his attention.

    What occurs to me when reading this is the disclaimer that some sound Bible teachers are bold enough to make. When reading about God’s promises from Scripture and how God provides and protects they will make the disclaimer that not everyone can claim these promises — only those who are God’s children (I’ve never seen a bumper sticker for that one.). In considering how negatively these “inspirational” mediums have been I would love to see a disclaimer put on these books, broadcasts and marriage weekends: “This material is intended for marriage enrichment. If your marriage is destructive, these materials do not apply to you as your issue is not a marriage issue.” There would then be a list of alternative resources (approved by a group of say, 12 experts on abuse). Even if they didn’t know if their marriage was abusive, this would at least give them something else to turn to and consider. As I write this I feel like printing up little slips of paper and going to every Christian bookstore I can find and leave them randomly in the marriage section. Oh….or put them inside some books like a bookmark!! Oh, dear….I might be on to something here….

      1. I was disheartened to discover the absence of important books in the large Christian bookstore in my area. They do not stock the top books recommended by ACFJ. So a genuinely seeking women couldn’t even happen on to the topics that are so essential to her current life.

    1. Yes, Valerie, that is so true. They need a section in the bookstores titled “Abusive Marriages — Look Here!” And have it right next to the “enrich your marriage section” — to help clear the FOG, and quit sending the wrong message that all marriages can be fixed. We need to be able to find books that offer the truth, to help set the captives free.

      I remember back when I was still in the FOG, so lost and without answers, I went to a used bookstore hoping to find a book that I could relate to. I only knew that I needed something that related to emotional and psychological pain big time. So I picked up a book called “A Stolen Life”, by Jaycee Dugard about a once abducted 11 year old girl that stayed with her captor well into her adult life until she was discovered by authorities. The title alone drew me in, because it felt as if my life also had been stolen, and I was living a lie that was against all that I believed or hoped for. Not knowing at that time what was wrong in my life, that book identified many similarities that my abuser-husband had in common with Jaycee’s abductor-perpetrator (controlling points, and manipulative and cruel underhanded tactics). That book gave me a starting point, because I could not put my finger at that time on what was wrong in my life, only that I felt very bad inside about things. But at the end of her book she encourages her readers that if something in the reader’s life does not seem right, for them to keep digging and searching for the truth and to not give up.

      So from there I stumbled onto the “Verbally Abusive Relationship” book in the self-help section, and boy did that book ever open my eyes and put words to all the tactics of abuse that I had been enduring for most of my married life. For the first time I saw a new side to what was going on in my marriage. I no longer saw my self as the bad wife, or the blame, or reason of failure in my marriage, as my husband constantly told me. But alas, an abuser is never short on stradigies that discredit the material that sheds light on his shortcomings to keep their victims hoodwinked, so once he discovered a speck of dirt on that author, he was quick to say that her material was irrelevant to the Christian. But it was not. The truth is still the truth, no matter where it comes from. Since then, I am thankful to have found ACFJ and the many insightful posts and books that they offer to give support to the hurting.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1. Good stuff, Soldiergirl. Loved this:

        But alas, an abuser is never short on stradigies that discredit the material that sheds light on his shortcomings to keep their victims hoodwinked, so once he discovered a speck of dirt on that author, he was quick to say that her material was irrelevant to the Christian. But it was not. The truth is still the truth, no matter where it comes from.

        My ex would often fault King David and the Apostle Paul….noting David’s sin and Paul’s not being married as disqualifiers to some of what they had to say — although my ex says he believes the Bible. (???)

        Of the core group of believers who have walked with me through my leaving and moving on, my ex discredits them ALL by labeling them foolish counselors. That would include two pastors from two different churches, the counselor from the domestic violence center (who also happens to be a Christian), an associate pastor and Elders, my older adult children, my mother and my ex’s own family, and our Christian friends who offered to help and counsel us in our crisis — all FOOLISH. I can’t imagine that every single one of these people is a fool. Some of them don’t even know each other. Yet all of them have been a source of Godly counsel and wisdom to me. NOT ONE of them told me what I was doing was unwise. I was the only one hating and resisting doing what I felt like I had to do, and finally did.

        Wow. That last paragraph is pretty revealing. I am finding that writing here on this site is very helpful in that as I write I am seeing things more clearly than just having them roll around in my head in a big jumble.

    2. LOL, Valerie. Clever idea!

      What I struggle with is this:

      Were my “attempts” at fixing my mess really done in loving sacrifice to God and for my own good, or were they merely manipulative tactics to try to gain a good response from my husband? As a co-dependent-type person (who is working through this now that I am out from under my ex), I have to consider the motives of my heart. I know some of the time I was just trying hard to keep the peace in a violent atmosphere, so during those episodes I would say my behavior was done in the flesh. But at times I know, that I know, that the Spirit of God was working in me to humble me by doing the right thing, even when it was hard. My behavior was a mixture of the two motivations, I guess. I do know I applied so many, many principles to my marriage. What made it extra challenging was feeling like I had to force myself to say or do kind things that were not in my heart.

      A while back, Nancy Leigh DeMoss had a 30-day husband encouragement challenge that I participated in with some other ladies whom I had asked to join me. It was difficult doing some of the things in the challenge because my husband’s bad behavior had put a damper on my being able to freely compliment him, or say or do kind things for him except for out of some kind of contrived and forced will-power.

      I do wonder if there really are husbands who respond appropriately to the heartfelt attempts their wives make toward making their marriages better. Have any of you encountered a woman or man who has said their marriage was better after having read such-and-such a book, or followed the advice of one of the marriage and family gurus on the radio? I know Mike and Debi Pearl print lots of letters they receive from female readers, who upon reading the Pearl’s materials have had their eyes opened. These readers say their marriages are amazing and awesome now because of the conviction they felt from reading one of the Pearl’s books, which brought about repentance of sin for having been doing their job as wife wrong for years.

      After I read “Created to Be His Helpmeet” (by Debi Pearl) with a discussion group, I saw many things wrong with the way I had been responding to my husband (according to what the book said I should be doing). I went to my husband in humility and tears (it was very hard to do) and told him how sorry I was for doing it wrong and that I wanted very much to do it right from then on. He was intrigued, so he read the book himself. HE IS NOT A BOOK READER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At times, if he saw me veering off course from what the book said, he would throw it in the trash and ask me why I was reading a book that I wasn’t willing to follow. Then I would dig it out and read it again and try harder. I even threw the book away a couple of times because I couldn’t seem to MAKE myself do what it said, or at least make acceptable attempts at doing “it” right. Talk about self-condemnation. (UGH.)

      When I left my home earlier this year, and returned one night when my now-ex was not there to get some things for the kids and me, my ex had this book out on the table with several things highlighted in it….again pointing to my disobedience to God’s Word that the author had included that says I am to obey my husband in EVERYTHING….

      From page 54 of said book —

      What God said stands, regardless of the man’s goodness or the apparent lack thereof. You were given your blueprints with words like honor, submit, and reverence. This is God’s will and way, his directive and pattern for you to model. It is up to us to believe and obey God.

      Also, on the same page —

      Note that what God commands a woman to do does not hinge on the man loving his wife as Christ loved the church. If it did, there is not one single husband who ever lived and breathed who would be worthy of his wife’s submission or reverence.

      Page 55 says that God’s rules are there to help us make a man want to cherish us. And with wisdom, women will be able to serve and honor our men because we are serving and honoring God.

      So my ex had all this highlighted on the table when I entered my home, as well as about a dozen other articles on submission, honor, etc., all on the table for me to see.

      In all this, I have never once seen my ex read ANYTHING at all about marriage or the husband’s duties. I had numerous CDs and tapes on home, marriage, and family, but he was never interested in reading or learning anything new, or just discussing things like this.

      So back to my questions for all you wise women:

      Is it manipulation to attempt new things in your marriage to try to bring about change for the better, especially if it is an outcome you personally desire?

      Do you personally know husbands and wives who have applied the principles in these books to their marriages and have achieved long-term positive results?

      1. I remember reading that book and thinking, “aha! This is what I’m really supposed to be doing!” And it did act as a little Band-Aid for a short time. Maybe my new super apologetic, submissive behavior was a bit of a shock at first, so he was on better behavior just trying to regroup and figure out how to respond. The old horrible behavior returned eventually, however, and I ended up throwing the book in the trash for fear of anyone else getting hold of it. Let me just say that very few books have ever ended up in my trash can over my life, but this one did, as well as “Me? Obey him?” 😃

      2. TB, I cringed as I read how you faithfully followed this book and the results that followed….it is what I did as well — only with a slew of other Christian marriage enrichment books. The advice or “assignments” carried out to a humble, albeit misguided spouse, might well prove to help change the direction of the marriage. However, when carried out to a proud, arrogant spouse with no fear of God it only enables wickedness (in my opinion). I would never promote repaying evil for evil but the abuser would have you believe that to not do what makes them happy is evil.

        When you said —

        Is it manipulation to attempt new things in your marriage to try to bring about change for the better, especially if it is an outcome you personally desire?

        ….my thought was that it is not manipulation or selfish to desire to be treated with respect and kindness. The very fact that a person feels they need to manipulate (or see it that way) in order for the marriage to be healthy is a huge red flag.

        I made the mistake of turning to Barnes and Noble [Internet Archive link]1 when I should have been turning to the New American Standard Version [a Bible translation] for “answers”. I mistakenly thought my specific issues weren’t addressed in Scripture so I turned to man’s wisdom. Now I see that the Bible is where I should have been turning all along….I just didn’t trust myself enough to understand or apply it. Scripture is discerned so I anticipated my husband (based on history) showing me how I had discerned it wrong, so I thought that if I had the “answers” in black and white in man’s text I would know I was doing it right. Unfortunately it only put me more in bondage, more confused and feeling more condemned. I pray that God will illuminate what He wants you to know in your specific situation and give you the courage and boldness to claim that truth, dear sister in Christ!

        1[February 27, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Barnes and Noble Booksellers. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

  16. We love Him because He first loved us. [1 John 4:19]

    The husband is the initiator, the wife is the responder, if we agree that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.

    As far as testimonials go, I’ve figured out that most of them are written shorty after someone has read the book, as in KayJay’s statement, “it did act as a little Band-Aid for a short time”, or at the end of a marriage seminar, etc., when there is a little honeymoon. People who put on these seminars want to advertise them so they get the couples to quickly write something up before it goes away, I think. And, we fool ourselves that things are better because if we act like a servant and he gets his way all the time, he may not be as mean. So he doesn’t yell as much, but we lose ourselves. But then those authors think that’s normal, we should expect that and be happy for the privilege of being a slave. Ugh.

    As for Debbie Pearl’s book, I read the chapter about the 3 types of men and was horrified!! That one type is a “Command-Man” and you have to obey his barks or you’ll get left behind, and that is ok because he is just like God? What? And another kind is wishy-washy, dreamy, lazy and artistic, and that is just like the Holy Spirit? Then the 3rd kind of man is like Jesus, perfect, kind, loving, protective, but there are very few of them, so don’t hold your breath, it’s just not normal to expect that sort.

    I’m sorry, I thought every Christian man is to be like Jesus, or at the very least putting in some effort to work towards it, no? I didn’t read the rest of the book. I used to get their newsletter, and remember an article by Michael that if your husband hits you, call the police and pray for him when he’s in jail, but if he’s just emotionally abusive, no big deal, keep loving and obeying and one day he’ll turn to you and thank you, and you’ll be so very happy. This was many years ago and I wrote him a long letter trying to explain how emotional and verbal abuse was as bad as physical, but he never replied nor did he print the letter in the newsletter like he claims he did when people wrote to them. I have a feeling about the Pearls’ marriage but I don’t know for sure.

    I really did try to follow that stuff for a long time. Now I know there’s a difference between a “relationship problem” and abuse. The first one is where both partners are trying to learn to dance together, and the second is where one is trying really hard and the other’s whole intention is to sabotage the dance and to destroy the dancer. No books or seminars can help that dance.

    1. Here is a new question for you all then. If I have had a “problem” with going to the “experts” on marriage and family through books / radio / CDs / etc., at the expense of the Bible, then wouldn’t my coming to this site be another attempt at finding a place of validation, refuge, answers? Don’t get me wrong. I feel very at home here, but I also felt at home in those other places — at the feet of Smalley, the Pearls, Gary Thomas, Dobson, etc. So whose to say that ACFJ is just my next stop on the way to finding validation and peace? Yes, what is said here is based on the Word, but so was / is all the other stuff I have tapped into in my quest for truth. My recent thought has been what if “Divorce Care” (where I currently am) and Leslie Vernick and ACFJ are just new replacements for the other things I was following. Before I was on a quest to save my marriage, now I am lumping myself in to the group of those who bailed and are looking for comfort in having walked away.

      Please hear me in this. I am not disrespecting any of these “new” groups I am a part of. I am just examining my behavior and determining if I am a creature of habit….assigning myself to people for answers only God can give. I do know He tells us in the Word to seek counsel and to bear each others’ sorrows. So I don’t feel wrong about doing this, I just don’t want to fall into the same behavior of “following” someone or something other than the Lord for answers.

      My ex always criticized me when I went to others outside of him for answers. He was insulted and told me all I needed was the Bible and him to guide me. He was my “leader”, and I was “a rebellious ball and chain” (his words) that would not row with him.

      And he fell into the category of “Command Man” (for sure) and “Mr. Steady”, as well.

      Also, it would be great if there was a separate place for us to post individual questions aside from these questions that arise from the blogs. I have SO SO SO many questions that I think could be answered by the women here who have gone through what I have, but I don’t want to pose these questions that are unrelated to the topic at hand. I guess it would be difficult to moderate that sort of thing, though. It’s just an idea I had.

      Thanks for understanding and allowing me a place to be vulnerable and bare my heart.

      1. TB, the Scripture that immediately comes to my mind is John 10:1-21 (ESV).

        “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

        So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

        He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

        There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

        The Lord leads his own. From the above passage many thought that Jesus was crazy for saying such things, but yet others believed. It is still the same today. If you truly trust in Jesus as your Savior, in His finished work of redemption for you, He will lead you. The Scripture clearly teaches that if someone presents a teaching to you in which you must trust in anything, even your own works for salvation, it is a false Gospel. Only the faith in God’s promise that He makes us righteous in Christ truly saves. Only the Gospel can give true peace. This is how God designed our salvation. Through grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the Gospel which is “Good News”.

        Unfortunately, the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). Why? We are naturally hard-wired for law. It is mankind’s natural religion. So those who are not being led by the Spirit will take offense that the Gospel is “too easy”. They want to contribute something to their salvation and they think that others should, too. So our objection with most popular marriage teaching, especially some of the ones you mention, is they lay down heavy burdens for abuse victims. I hope that you have had an opportunity to read Barb’s book because in it you will find that their opinions are not even Scriptural. Essentially they turn their teachings into works that Christians must follow. This is called “legalism”.

        Truly, it sounds like you are coming out of a very abusive situation. The fact that your husband is using the Bible as a power and control tool is concerning. We don’t have a separate question forum, but I think it likely that as you peruse our site, you will find topics where your questions are indeed applicable and your contributions will encourage others. Feel free to comment on older posts as we do not close them to comments. Blessings and peace to you.

      2. TB, I relate a lot to your question, because I asked myself a similar question many years ago. At that time, I had just started attending church. I’d been born again about 14 years before that but had not gone to any evangelical church or read the Bible in those fourteen years, for a number of reasons. My born again experience was a little like being born and then abandoned in the gutter wrapped in a bloody rag, and then being picked up and washed off and properly clothed much later on. (I’m not faulting God there, it was all part of His plan and I thank Him for every part of it.) In the years prior to and the fourteen years after being born again, I was into the New Age Movement. And as most people who are in the New Age Movement do, I was a “smorgasbord” spiritualist: I went from -ism to -ism and teacher to teacher and fad to fad….so I had a track record of picking up new philosophies and methods and then discarding or sidelining them as I picked up and immersed myself in the next one.

        And when I finally got to an evangelical church and immersed myself in Bible study, the devil started snarking at me on my shoulder “You’re just picking up this Christian stuff like you picked up Theosophy and Findhorn and Reflexology and Astrology and Etheric Massage and “A Course in Miracles”! You’ll discard it like you did every other thing you picked up. How can you trust yourself that this is not just another method that you’ve gone for, like a new flavour of ice cream?”

        That voice of Satan destabilised me. But then I thought, “No; this Christian stuff lines up perfectly — fully — with the Jesus I met all those years ago. And it’s different from the other things I was into. Jesus is real. He loves me. He really lived and really died and really was resurrected and really loves me. And every thing I learn and am finding in this Christian life is fully borne out and congruent with what it says in the Bible and what I know of Jesus personally and intimately. This is different. It’s not a fad. It’s not a flavour of the month. It lasts, it’s rock solid, it’s abiding, it’s true.” And the doubts went away.

        Now, regarding your situation and your doubts, I think the fact that you are questioning yourself on this is a good thing. It shows you want to follow the truth and want to abide in and obey our Lord. I think the only way anyone can know for sure whether a given teacher or author is right, is by evaluating how well their teaching lines up with the Bible.

        Yes, the Pearls and the other ones you mentioned had elements of the Bible that their teaching lined up with. But was their teaching harmonious with the full counsel and revealed character and attributes of God? Did their teaching pay attention to the passages in Scripture which tell us to rebuke and admonish the sinner, to avoid relationship with an angry man, to have nothing to do with phoney ‘C’hristians. Did their teaching take into account the Biblical principle of fleeing persecution where possible? Did it take into account the passages about church discipline and ex-communication for heinous and obstinate sinners?

        Any teaching which coerces or requires a woman to remain the doormat of a man who repeatedly abuses his wife and / or kids, has to be called into question (and for male victims of female abusers, reverse the genders in that last sentence).

        Jesus did tell His disciples that they would suffer persecution for the Gospel, but domestic abuse happens regardless of the victim’s faith profession or absence of faith profession.

        But by all means, test whatever you hear from us and from this site to see if it lines up with the whole counsel of God.

  17. I, too, have found great value in the resources you mentioned, and I do believe they have validity, but unfortunately, they have very little information on the abuse cycle and what makes it tick and often their information makes things worse. Following typical “marriage advice” gave me high hopes but no change in abuse. Abuse is not a “marriage issue” it is a CONTROL issue and never did Jesus EVER try to control anyone. He, in fact, showed us in the only scene where He was angry (Be angry but do not sin, so anger is NOT a sin, but what you DO with it is) that we are not to tolerate those who try to control or take advantage of others, which is what your husband has been doing all along.

  18. Cain did not want to repent, he did not want to turn away. There was no grief or shame or nothing. My ex was offered several chances to repent, to do different and offered a program by the church. She turned it down, that gave me the right to divorce, although I was confused. I saw many other people in the same position in church making the right change, and changed people today. Let us look at others in the Bible: David repented had shame and took the punishment for Uriah. Lot used divination, knew both ways and chose the wrong path even though the angel told him which path to take. Saul repented, but it was a phoney repentance. It took me 2 years to divorce from her, and another for the finances.

    What I can see is Cain carried a mark: Stay away, Beware but also a protection. My ex has this mark, no visitors, nobody, but also I can see no covering. I have been able to build up a social network, my kids come here to spend the evening, they like it even more when there is a visitor, my kids enjoy an extra chat. Not used to that anyone would care or take notice. Well so [much] for my reply.

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