A Cry For Justice

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

CCEF say that victims of abuse need redemption

[July 19, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption.

The above sentence is by David Powlison, Paul David Tripp and Edward T Welch, men who are or have been leaders of CCEFChristian Counseling Education Foundation. It is part of the guidance they give to pastors and counselors who are trying to help domestic violence. The quote comes from p 10 of the CCEF booklet Domestic Abuse, How to Help.1 That is the booklet which Peacemakers Ministry recommend [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] for pastors who are inexperienced in dealing with domestic violence, as Persistent Widow discovered in her research after having been badly hurt by Peacemakers and a PCA church (link).

The guidance that Powlison, Tripp and Welch give suggests that abuse victims wrongly convey to pastors and counselors that they, the victims, are totally without sin (are innocent victims who need no redemption). These three men imply that counselors and pastors need to be on the lookout for where the victim is sinning in the relationship.

Let me show you the whole paragraph in which the quoted sentence occurs, so you can see for yourself1:

Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption. God will be at work in the lives of both people. So explore incidents of violence in detail. You will usually find places where both parties need God’s grace to change. Perhaps one spouse draws most of the attention because he acts with his fists; but on closer inspection the other spouse may skillfully wield her tongue in ways that seek to bring hurt through use of words. Outbursts of violence are usually extreme instances in more widespread, low-grade patterns of conflict. Look for the common sins that both parties share, as well as for the unique outbreaks of sin in one party. You want to help both people become more loving, wise and peaceable.

Several posts could probably be written about this one paragraph. There are so many things wrong with it.

  1. The potential for sin levelling is in that paragraph for sure. (Though to give them a modicum of credit, their next paragraph warns counselors not to accept the abuser’s blame-shifting distortions.)
  2. They assume that God is working in the abuser, implying the abuser is a believer (an assumption which we reject).
  3. They lampoon the idea that an abuser is an ‘irredeemable monster’. At ACFJ we do not say that abusers are irredeemable; all we say is that it’s best to (a) assume that abusers are not Christians, and (b) recognise that their entrenched character disturbance, their mentality of entitlement and responsibility-resistance, means they are very unlikely to humble themselves and repent unto saving faith.
  4. They call it ‘conflict’ which is a misnomer. It’s abuse. Not conflict. Conflict implies differences contested and debated between two individuals of relatively equal power. The word ‘conflict’ implies there are issues or points of disagreement, and / or fighting. In abuse, there is power-over and intimidation and subjection and control. ‘Issues of conflict’ are random, they shift and change at the whim and craft of the abuser; the victim cannot make peace because every attempt she makes at negotiation and appeasement is being made on shifting and sticky quicksand. And what outsiders may perceive as a ‘fight’ or ‘conflict’ is usually the victim trying to selectively resist the wicked oppression of the perpetrator, and the perpetrator escalating and intensifying his control tactics in order to push the victim back down, deprive her of dignity and personal liberty, and make her confused, bewildered, exhausted and scared. But enough of that. We write about that a lot.

What I really want to focus on in this post is:

CCEF say that victims need redemption

They say the abuse victim must not be seen as an innocent victim who needs no redemption. Let’s clarify this by turning their double negative into a positive. These men are implying, “The victim needs redemption.”

Christianity 101: Who needs redemption? Collectively, fallen man needs redemption from original sin. But when we speak of individuals, we only say that unsaved people need redemption. Those who have been born again do not need redemption, they have come to faith in Christ so the price that Jesus paid on the Cross has been effectually applied to them. They have been redeemed. In Him we have redemption (Eph 1:17;  Col 1:14) — we do not need it, we already have it. We have been bought back, redeemed by the blood of Christ from the domain of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God, having received adoption as children of God in Christ Jesus.

Side note: The only time the New Testament talks about redemption as something future, something yet to occur, is when it refers to the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:23;  Eph 4:30). And it talks about our future redemption not as something we ‘need’ in the here and now, and (hem hem) need to be admonished about so we don’t get cocky and forget that we need it (as CCEF would imply), it talks about the redemption of our bodies as something that is promised and surely will be given to us in Christ Jesus on that Day, to the praise of His glorious grace.

Never once on this blog or in our books do we say that a Christian abuse victim needs redemption. If an abuse victim is not a Christian, sure, she needs redemption, like every unsaved person does. But a believer in Christ has been redeemed.

At ACFJ we may talk about how a Christian victim of abuse — like all Christians — is called to sanctification: the Bible exhorts all believers to develop a more and more Christ-like character throughout the rest of their days on this earth. But we never say the victim needs redemption. And it is insulting for CCEF to talk about Christian victims as ‘needing redemption’ because it means that the victims are not saved — that they are still dead in their sins and heading to hell without Christ.

I believe that CCEF, Peacemakers and their ilk have been using the word ‘redemption’ very sloppily and without any concern for how their use of it insults Christian victims of abuse.

What do you think? Do you hear the statement that ‘Christian victims of abuse need redemption’ as an insult? Do you see it as besmirching victims?


1The full text of the CCEF booklet has also been published as ‘Pastoral Responses to Domestic Violence’ (Chapter 14 of Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, Wayne Grudem & Denis Rainey, eds.)  The sentence I quoted at the start of this post can be see on p 271 of that volume in Google books.

[July 19, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to July 19, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 19, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 19, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 19, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Joey

    I need redemption because my drunken abuser / husband sinned? I would need forgiveness, not redemption, ONLY if I responded to his abuse with hatred and evil intent. He is the one who verbally gave his soul to Satan, in front of me, CCEF is guilty of further abusing the victims of this crime and NOT following Scripture on how husbands and wives should treat one another. Shame on them for not following the Word!!

  2. minervasue

    When I was trying to obtain help to leave my abuser, in desperation I called the wife of a local pastor whom I knew personally. I described the latest incident of abuse and her reaction? She asked me what my husband would say about me. That was the turning point for me. It finally began to sink in that I was going to have to leave on my own and no church / pastor was going to help. As far as they were concerned I obviously provoked my husband and was complicit in the abuse. At that point I felt like I had only two choices, my faith or my safety. This philosophy doesn’t surprise me at all.

    • Better Equipped

      So glad Jesus never gives that either / or option.

      • Hi, we changed the screen name you gave with this to protect your identity. Please read our New Users Info page as it gives step by step guidance for how to fill out the comment form without giving away your ID.

        New Users Info page

  3. joepote01

    As used in the quoted context of needing redemption from sin, yes, I would say it is an erroneous, unbiblical, false assumption with no basis in fact or biblical truth.

    I would, however, agree that abuse targets are in need of redemption…redemption from the abusive marriage in the form of divorce.

    Barbara, you might enjoy my recent post directed toward all the ‘permanence marriage’ crowd in which I give a little different twist on the concept of an indissoluble covenant and the implications in regard to redemption: Condemned or Redeemed? [Internet Archive link]

    • Thanks Joe, yes indeed the Permanence crowd will find their teachings coming back to bite them on That Great Day.

      And you’re right that the word ‘redemption’ has a range of meanings in the Bible (and in plain English). That is one of the problems with CCEF’s teaching: they use it loosely without making it clear what meaning they are giving it.

      And yes, God redeeming the Israelites from bondage in Egypt is a very good parallel to how He redeems victims of abuse from the bondage of anti-marriages.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        “God redeeming the Israelites from bondage in Egypt is a very good parallel to how He redeems victims of abuse from the bondage of anti-marriages.”

        This is a recurring thought of mine as I enter this stage of exodus from the anti-marriage. I keep praying that God will deliver His children (child and me) from the bondage still while en route – to a place where we can worship Him in peace. I’m hoping that it’s also on this side of Glory.

        We’re not in bondage as we once were, yet until we’re fully delivered, the chains still drag somewhat. So I’m praying that the Lord grant me the faith that pleases Him and increase my belief and trust so I can walk as He would have me.

        It feels much like unto the exodus from Egypt, but I hope to not be in this wilderness 40 years. And so I pray for greater faith, as there were only two among the millions who left Egypt who were allowed to live to see the promised land.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Two adults that is. The children / younger generation made it through…

  4. Sarah

    …not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption.

    This is the exact description of an abusive relationship! Instead of wasting time, talent and resources on the “irredeemable,” teach the victim skills to protect and defend themselves – while they liberate themselves and the children for the abuser.

    The opposite of aggressive is non-violent, and of timid, assertiveness. The timid victim will be more than happy to learn to be assertive and protective…the abuser no – they thrive on the misery they cause in others. Rebuke the abuser, protect and serve the victim(s).

  5. Charis

    I think what this organization is characterizing as “women who need redemption” are the efforts of women resisting; resisting abuse. There is a helpful booklet published by Calgary Women’s Shelter that describes what this looks like. It is called: “Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships.”

    It was a good exercise for me to read this booklet and realize all the different ways I resisted (and then begin to identify for myself additional ways I resisted my h’s abuse) and then realize how I was likely to be seen by those in my former church; probably as someone “needing redemption.”

    This booklet has helpful comparison charts of what resistance looks like and how it goes un-noticed by outsiders. These charts begin on pg 18. You can download the booklet for free from their website: Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link]

    Much grace and love to you all…

    • Yes Charis! I think I recommend that Honouring Women’s Resistance {Internet Archive link] booklet more often than I recommend any other resource (with the possible exception of Jeff’s book and my own book).

      If any readers of our blog haven’t read it yet, you are in for a treat!

    • Innoscent

      Thanks a lot Charis for the link to the booklet. I just downloaded it and scanned through it. I really like their approach i.e. resistance and ways to cope with abuse.

  6. Cindy Rapstad

    I don’t even know if I can read this, I so feel like vomiting and it is exactly how I was treated.

    I have been trying to come up with a visual to explain to people what it is like being in an abusive marriage and there is no comparison.

    Probably the closest would be to being in a concentration camp except you can’t tell anyone you are in a concentration camp and the prison guard is abusing you. You are let out to go to where the guard allows you but you can’t tell anyone. When you tried to tell someone (esp the church) they first of all denied you were in a concentration camp and then if you were abused by the guard it was because of something you had done wrong. You were the one that wasn’t nice, you were the one that caused the abuse and it isn’t that bad, you are just embellishing the abuse. No we weren’t embellishing, we were minimizing the abuse.

    • Cindy Rapstad, I had a dream back in 2010. Yes, a night time while I was asleep type of dream. But it wasn’t the ordinary kind of dream. I was taking part in a fully fledged education and immersion-training program that was designed to show people what it was like to live in domestic abuse. It was aimed at all the bystanders: professionals, counselors, court personnel, police, family, friends, clergy, but victims / survivors could participate as well.

      — There was no ‘respect of persons’ for attendees of the course, no elite category of persons who could participate, as ALL people need to learn about abuse or could do better in the ways they are addressing it.

      It had lectures, videos, workshops, discussion groups, but most of all it had an immersion experience where participants, in small groups, were taken by a guide / interpreter into a house which was purpose built for the program — like a ‘display home’ to portray as best as one can the atmosphere of living under domestic abuse. The house was an ‘ordinary’ three bedroom house, nothing fancy, but not slummy either. Around the house was a vast vacant expanse, like a desert, like a no-mans-land in a battle zone. The people who lived in the house could not go across that no-mans-land without risking their lives.

      Somehow, (I can’t recall this part of the dream fully) there were other things in the house that gave the program participants an inkling of the atmosphere of fear in which the victims in that house lived. I can’t recall how it was conveyed, but it was not so much by visual things as by subtle sounds and vibes. The interpreter guide explained these vibes and pointed out the significance of them to the participants. But also in some way the participants were able to sense the vibes themselves.

      It is only, I believe, when bystanders get a sense of this pervasive blanketing atmosphere of fear and confusion which victims live under, that they start to really ‘get it’.

      • Cindy Rapstad

        If only we could take them through a walk through.

      • not only a walk through. A walk in and SIT. Sit and feel it. Sit and ponder. Sit and let it seep into your bones for a while.

        Then, once you’ve got an empathetic resonance deep in your gut, reconsider your patronizing and off-hand remarks to victims. . .

    • SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

      Or like a terrible trick where your dream holiday destination being swapped for a PoW camp; held against your will by the dictator of the land. But when you tell the tour guides that theres a terrible mistake, they say, no it’s your expectations that are too high. You desperately try to draw the attention of others on the tour, and even one day manage to contact your embassy, but no matter how hard you try to convince anyone of your reality, the only replies you get are: ‘you’re wrong, you’re imagining the problems – it seems fine to us, it’s really not how bad you say it is’ And ‘you signed up for the tour, dear, you’d better set your mind to enjoying it!!’.

      • Seeing the Light

        Oh my goodness, yes, SeeClearerNow. So true! So familiar! Chilling.

      • grace551

        That’s just so true.

        I found that because the abuse was covert, it was particularly hard to explain.

        I wish that house Barbara dreamt of really existed!

      • Still Reforming


        Re: “covert,” yes. And for so long that was precisely why I kept it to myself. Who would believe me, when he’s so presentable outside the home? And sure enough – the pastor said to me “Well, I don’t know because I wasn’t there” when I finally did bring things to his attention. And when I said that my husband lies and manipulates chronically, the response was “Well, the Bible says all men are liars…”

        I was on my own even in the company of these church “leaders.” It took getting out of that church and away from the anti-husband to realize how condescending and insulting those comments were.

        I’ve found that when the abuse is covert and not against any law, the hill is all the more steep to climb. People I thought were friends I have found out are not. Family falls away. Pastors, church leaders, and even people with whom I worshiped for nearly a decade – and taught their kids and grandkids and served alongside at so many church functions for years – all gone. Abuser gets to stay at church, even though no one really knows him and he never serves – and I leave. And no one calls. Because his behavior is covert and they all believe the presentation, willingly. There’s the rub for me. Not a one wants to know my side or our child’s. It’s ugly, so it’s easier to just take the abuser into the fold and let us go.

      • loves6

        My husband is covert too. I totally understand what you are saying. I have three of my children, now in late teens, 20s and 30s that are excepting abusive traits. Towards me mainly and one to their wife.
        What’s hard is the unbelief when you step out for help. I have done this over the past year and have no one still that will stand by me and support me through this.

        I really understand the steep mountain climb with a covert abuser.

      • what a perfect analogy, SeeClearerNow!
        thank you 🙂

      • I just shared your analogy on our FB page, SeeClearerNow. 🙂 Hope that’s okay.

      • A. Noni Moose

        Perfect analogy. I was told “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” many times at the first part of the abuse. My relationship with this abusive husband ended 40 years ago and I still have nightmares.

  7. a prodigal daughter returns

    Domestic violence is a crime. Beating someone is illegal whether it be a stranger, wife or children. It is not a relationship, its not about relationship it is about criminal meaning illegal activity.. Personally I believe these men are accessories to a crime and the duty to report rather than enable further crime demonstrates not just insensitivity but their complicity in endorsing, aiding and abetting crime to continue.
    Lets say Paul Tripp was approached in a parking lot by a stranger who demands his wallet. There is a scuffle, the perpetrator beats him. Paul Tripp takes his traumatized self to a counselor, the counselor tells him “in what ways did you sin here, were you not submissive enough in the way you handed over your wallet? Perhaps you should repent?” After all there were two sinners in that parking lot.

    Abusers are enabled to continue their life of crime, domestic terrorism and violence by counselors and godless people that lack true insight into human interactions between crime victims and their perpetrators. Godless people are heinous when they purport to represent God while perverting justice and denying the widow her right to safety.

    • Robert Simpson

      Re: “Lets say Paul Tripp was approached in a parking lot by a stranger who demands his wallet…”
      Perhaps we could say, “Lets say Paul Tripp was approached in a parking lot by his brother-in-law, a fellow church member, who demands his wallet..”

      This closely parallels the relationship pf many abusers to the survivors of abuse.

    • Charis

      YES! This has become one of my own analogies in a 20 yr friendship that is now no longer safe because my h has turned it for one of his allies. Twenty years! And this person teaches self-defense to women in college.

      I have long thought of this analogy – similar to yours – because she refuses to understand why I choose to leave, why I cannot “forgive & forget”, why I can no longer trust, why I must go “no contact”, why, why, why the marriage is over. Really? Is it SO different to what she teaches every week to her students?

      Would she tell the girls in her classes to go back to their assailants and make peace? Invite them into their homes, have dinner, become friends, build relationships? Seek forgiveness and trust them? Would she recommend 2nd and 3rd chances with no evidence of change?

      NO! She teaches them to fight! She teaches them to flee! Press charges. Seek justice. And she teaches them to move on with their life and not live in fear.

      Is this so different? Can she not see that my assailant lives in my home, has a face and a name? He is my husband! Her advice should be the same for me as it is for her students. For some reason she cannot make the connection. I am the sinner. I am the one making ALL the wrong choices. Truly, the analogy works. She MUST see that at some level. Can’t she? No.

    • Alec

      Wow! Well said, “Prodigal Daughter Returns”, and don’t let anyone accuse you of speaking too strongly. Thanks so much for your encouraging words.

  8. Jeff Crippen

    This is a call for CCEF to publicly acknowledge that they have published harmful, erroneous material on domestic violence, and retract it. This is such a plain and clear example of error that it can in no way be defended. Anyone who knows much of anything about domestic violence and the nature of abusers knows that this statement of sin on the part of the victim is ridiculous. CCEF has too long issued its decrees from “on high” without admitting to being errant and fallible and showing a willingness and humility to acknowledge errors when they make them. They are quick to take offense when they are called to accounts, but to this point we have not seen them ready to do anything except respond to criticism with “you have misunderstood us. It isn’t right for you to make these accusations of us. It is you who are wrong.” Oh yeah.

  9. Lisa

    What boiled up inside me when reading this was, “How arrogant and insensitive.” (but, that they couldn’t really care if they were sensitive anyway nor do these types even want to try to understand or care it seems)

  10. Seeing the Light

    Thank you for this post, Barbara. This is heartbreaking. Just another way for the abused to be further abused. I used to read David Powlison and watched some of his videos on youtube. No wonder they didn’t help. Where is the discernment? I can’t help wondering what really lies beneath the surface of so many supposed Christian leaders. Thank God for Ezekiel 34 and that He will lead His sheep Himself when the shepherds can’t be trusted.

  11. cindy burrell

    The position of CCEF is that we are all the same. There is no need for discernment or wisdom with regard to character or trustworthiness, of identfying the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yet, God says in Malachi, 2:14, that “…the Lord is a witness between you and the wife of your youth…” On this verse, Bible commentator John Gill affirms:

    …and at the present time he [God] was a witness how agreeably the wives of the Israelites had behaved towards their husbands, and how treacherously they [the husbands]had acted towards them; he saw and knew, that, whatever pretensions they made, they did not love them, nor behave as they should towards them; and therefore had just cause of complaint against them, and must be a witness for the one, and against the other…

    “For the one and against the other…”

    Why is it so difficult for these church people to get this? If we are all equally guilty, I wonder if they would use this same logic with regard to children who were sexually abused at the hands of Catholic priests. Those children were equally in need of redemption, were they not? Maybe the children were equally responsible… Who in their right mind could come to such a perverted conclusion? And how is abuse in marriage any different?

    • what a great quote from John Gill.
      Thanks Cindy ! ” 🙂

    • healingInHim

      Amen! God is our witness … As for CCEF?? I am one of the many victims who was made to feel more condemned by such counseling.

  12. grace551

    It’s certainly sloppy use of the word ‘redemption.’ Unless they mean that the abuse victim should not be regarded as someone who has never sinned and doesn’t need to be redeemed from separation from God by the blood of Jesus? If they do, did they really need to say that? If any abuse victims have been claiming that they are perfect and sinless, it’s news to me!

    I think your point 4 is important, Barbara. Abuse is not ordinary conflict. It’s all about the abuser being ‘one-up’ and in control. (My husband says that being one-up, as he saw it, gave him a feeling of superiority.) If these CCEF leaders don’t know that, should they be writing about abuse at all?

  13. voicewilderness1

    I personally believe that the root of this problem is the underlying structures of our modern institutional religious system, along with patriarchy. First of all there is an artificial man made distinction between clergy and lay people, where the clergy are automatically assumed to be holier and wiser than the average lay person. Not only that, they have more power within the institution because they are officially paid employees of it. Now you have a significant imbalance of power that puts us lay people at a disadvantage.

    People who are entitled, abusive, narcissistic are often attracted to power positions, so many of them become pastors, etc. Many of these pastors are probably abusive to their own families, overtly or covertly, and they deny and rationalize it by twisting scripture among other things. Seeing women as less-than increases their power, hence patriarchy. So the system is already stacked against orphans and widows.

    This is why I think the modern church system is seriously flawed. Many if not most true followers of Jesus are now outside of this worldly religious system. The church in the book of Acts is nothing like our modern churches.

    • Seeing the Light

      Wow, Voicewilderness1! Your comment is spot on. I agree with EVERY word. Thank you.

    • Innoscent

      VW1, what an insightful comment!! Like STL I agree wholeheartedly with your line of reasoning. To me this distinction between those in the ministry and the others is ludricrous, as if all believers were not called to minister one way or another. The whole system is a card tower about to collapse anytime.
      Indeed Jesus said that most of His true church is waiting out there:
      And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. John 10:16

  14. Barnabasintraining

    Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption.

    This language is really stacked and leading and kind of straw-manish. (I have learned to hate this sort of communication.) In short, it’s manipulative.

    Worse, it distracts from the problem at hand and confounds priorities. Let’s allow that the victim does have some issues. OK. Well, there are still gnats (neuroses brought on / out by being abused) and camels (abuse). But in this sentence there is no distinction. They are both camels. Or else they are both gnats. (And it should be noted that camels tend to increase the gnat population as a general rule anyway. Get rid of the camel and watch how quickly many of those gnats go flying away too!) So they still haven’t advanced anything, except perhaps their particular agenda to frame the matter so it will fit their preconceived expectations.

    And one does wonder what they mean by sinners and redemption. By sinners do they mean unsaved folks? Or two saved folks who still have sin issues? Or one unsaved person and one saved person who still has sin issues? In what sense are they using sinners, and is it the same for both parties? The same with redemption. What do they mean? Do they mean salvation redemption, or do they mean it in a sense of practical sanctification? Or do they mean it one way for one party and the other way for the other party, and how would we know? All I see here is a lot of really confusing language that forces me to make a number of assumptions.

    • joepote01

      “This language is really stacked and leading…”

      I agree, BIT!

      And that sort of thing really raises my alarm systems…

      This throwing out Christian / biblical terminology while obviously being careless about how words are used…it sort of gives a general impression of godliness and biblical basis while actually promoting concepts that are ungodly and unbiblical.

      Also, the “…you should typically expect to find…”

      It has been my experience that most people see what they expect to see. If a counselor approaches a situation with the expectation of finding two sinners both equally responsible for the relational issues, then that is likely what they will see…despite all the evidence to the contrary…

      • Barnabasintraining

        It has been my experience that most people see what they expect to see.

        You have a point right there, Joe.

  15. grace551

    If CCEF think that abused spouses need redeeming by them, as Persistent Widow has said, then I do feel insulted! ‘Redemption’ = their help to change my behaviour? I could be Mrs Perfect 24 / 7 and my husband would still want to feel superior and powerful over me by putting me down and covertly hurting and angering me. Also to control me to make him feel better (magically) whenever he feels bad . Only he can change the thinking – and the believing of lies – that leads to that behaviour.

  16. thepersistentwidow

    I think that CCEF has concocted a whole theology around their “biblical” counseling business and this is just one of many false doctrines. This one requires one of their CCEF counselors as a messiah to “redeem” the abuser and the abused. This implies that Christianity’s accepted means of preaching the Gospel for 2000 years is not sufficient, but nowadays It takes intervention by those trained by Paul David Tripp and associates (and a lot of $) to do the job right.

    Herein is where CCEF redemption comes in. It is not the meaning Christianity assigns of redemption from sin or of the body, but it can only mean accepting their man-made CCEF doctrines as true. So redemption defined by CCEF is enlightenment through special teachers teaching mysterious doctrines. Sounds like Gnosticism to me.

    CCEF presents a false gospel and it is no wonder that so many are suffering under the burden of it as is the case with all satanic religions.

  17. AbusedHusband

    Certainly, you’ll get no argument from me that the monster and the victim don’t need Christ. We all need Christ and we all fall short of perfection this side of heaven (some more than others 🙂 ).

    But the fact that Powlison, Tripp, and Welch make ridiculous statements such as “you should typically expect to find TWO sinners embroiled with each other” and “look for the common sins that BOTH parties share” just goes to prove that whatever education they’ve received about domestic violence is theoretical only and not based on real-world experience—they’ve only fulfilled the requirements for Tenderfoot rank in Abuse and need to step up their game to Eagle Scout level. It’s obvious they’ve never been on the receiving end of domestic violence. If they had, they wouldn’t make these pat little statements. They would know that there ain’t nuthin’ “mutual” about abuse. It’s completely one-sided.

    Abuse is simply ONE evil person with a belief of entitlement persecuting another (and usually enjoying it, too!). I’m afraid these men won’t change their tune unless one of their daughters or sons marries an abusive monster and then comes to them pleading for help. That’s probably the only thing that will wake them up.

  18. Still Reforming

    Yes, that one sentence packs a wallop. My first thought when reading it was, “Whaddya mean, ‘We too need redemption?'” Most of us – if not the overwhelming majority – ARE redeemed, which is precisely the reason we’ve put up with this abuse for so long! We thought that was what we as Christian wives were supposed to do!” Hmph!

    Their one sentence shows a total lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse.

    This gem makes me grit my teeth and say “Grrrrrr!” (oops – was that a low-grade wielding of my tongue that would justify a fist back in my face?) —> “Perhaps one spouse draws most of the attention because he acts with his fists; but on closer inspection the other spouse may skillfully weild her tongue in ways that seek to bring hurt through use of words. Outbursts of violence are usually extreme instances in more widespread, low-grade patterns of conflict. Look for the common sins that both parties share,…”

    Man! That’s hard to believe. Maybe these men who wrote this paragraph want to justify their own bad boy behavior? I mean, putting “acts with his fists” in the same sentence (or even following that with the word “but..” as if using fists could be justifiable) with “skillfully wield her tongue”? Really? So she can say something and that’s equal to his using his fists. They say just as much in the next sentence which reduces “outbursts of violence” as an extension of “low-grade patterns of conflict.”

    They equate the two with the last sentence anyway: “common sins that both parties share.” WIth that I’ll shake the dust off my feet and depart from them….

    • Tsungilosdi (formerly Jul)

      Apparently defending yourself verbally is unacceptable! (Snort!)

  19. Song of Joy

    Trigger Warning
    “Perhaps one spouse draws most of the attention because he act with his fists”

    “Acts with his fists”…what a flattering euphemism for abuse. Makes it sound like he’s some manly cowboy or Texas ranger man who is sooooo ready to fight the big, evil wrongs of this world….oops, wifey just wrote a check when he wanted to pay cash. Bam! She just made him the wrong kind of soup. Bam! Daughter didn’t stand up straight. Bam! Son didn’t…well he didn’t do anything. Bam!

    How about “acts with”: Violent choking, slapping, kicking (someone in the stomach, on the floor, a pet etc.), throwing someone against the wall, brandishing firearms, chasing someone out of house screaming “I’m gonna kill that little _____ when I get my hands on him!”, kicking in doors, smashing heirloom furniture, bending frying pans in half in freakish Hulk rage…etc….etc…. Yeah. I guess he gets most of the attention.

  20. rhondajeannie

    Interestingly I had a minister, American, just recently make a comment on a Forum I am on and I believe it was directed at me. Barbara as you would be aware it was not domestic, or physical abuse I endured but an abuse of positions of power. This minister said he did’t like the whole victim idea but went along with Genesis 50:20 Christianity. Which is: ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’. (Unbelievable I know!!)
    I certainly jumped at the opportunity to use this verse to my advantage. And I said that it was a sad reflection on the Church if they intended to harm me but it was wonderful to think what they did to me God can use to help many others.

  21. KayE

    I hear these statements from CCEF as insulting, patronizing and downright mean.

  22. Persis

    Why is it so hard for Christians to realize that just because all people are sinners doesn’t mean that they are directly culpable for what has been done to them? Also if every person who suffers did something to warrant that mistreatment, it sounds more like karma than Christianity.

  23. StandsWithAFist

    So, just to be clear: the sheep need redemption same as the wolf? The wolf is clearly a predator, the sheep are just minding their own business, being peaceable, docile creatures. What “common sins” do they share?
    Oh! Now I remember: the sheep woke up one morning & had the audacity to breathe the same air as the wolf. How sinful! It was unwise for the sheep to breathe! Simply being alive & breathing will aggravate a wolf. What’s wrong with those stupid sheep? Don’t they know how to hold their breath? It is outrageous for them to breathe — what an outburst of selfishness! It isn’t loving or wise to inhale & exhale while the wolf is salivating & circling & snarling. What aggravation the wolf must feel. The poor wolf just needed a decent meal & those pesky sheep just kept breathing. You can’t blame the wolf for wanting some peace & quiet — the wolf HAD to tear the sheep apart. The wolf had to restore the peace. Silly sheep. When will they ever learn?

    • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


      The God-given role of the sheep is to respect the wolf instead of skillfully wielding those sheepish tongues “seeking to bring hurt” to the wolf. Poor wolf. Who could blame him for his behavior while having to live with such unforgiving sheep?

    • Innoscent

      Hireling told sheep she needed not to worry about wolf, that Shepherd would be happy if she also wouldn’t mind to remain in the dark paddock and be a living and loving sacrifice.. By so doing wolf might become sheep one day and make all the angels burst into songs of praise to Shepherd ♫ ♫ Redeemed —how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; ♫ ♫ What a high calling for sheep!

      • StandsWithAFist

        Still Reforming & Innoscent: your comments are both hilarious & maddening at the same time! The typical church response seems to favor the wolf at the expense of the sheep, or denies the wolf altogether, leaving the sheep in harm’s way–which Jesus never did. Maddening.

      • Innoscent

        StandsWithAFist, you made me chuckle and like Still Reforming I just had to add to your excellent sarcastic illustration. I guess black humour can sometimes help in processing the deceptive and crazy argumentation of such people as these ‘leaders’ of CCEF!

  24. SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

    It seems so surreal that they can be saying such wicked things while claiming to be speaking out against abuse!! My internal radar is sending out a ‘gaslight tactic!’ alert..
    I think StillReforming’s comment could be a good summary: Maybe these men who wrote this paragraph want to justify their own bad boy behavior?
    Regarding the recommendations about getting the message out by book reviews on Amazon and Christian book; PersistanWidow and anyone else reviewing helpful and unhelpful books, have you looked into reviewing on Goodreads book reviews? The booklet in question on this post, ‘Peacemakers’ by ken sande and that other unhelpful one PW mentioned are all listed on Goodreads, waiting for a one star review!

  25. loves6

    I spoke with a friend of many years a few days ago, we were in here same church together. She is still there. I told her of my situation, she was in total shock, as she knows my husband well.

    She opened up and told me about her dad. She said her dad who has an outreach ministry in the church is a very angry man, used to give his son hidings and treated her like a princess. She said her mother was a doormat and still is. She went to the Pastor do our church to tell him of her concerns, he did not believe her. He held her dad in high regard and he had a thriving ministry. So, this man puts his ministry before his wife and family, it is his passion. This is so typical of the church I attended. This is the reason why I never went and told the Pastor what was happening at home, as he would not have believed me.

    Some Christians can be so blind and non decerning. I have to say I never liked her dad. There was something about him that gave me an uneasy feeling. Ther aretwo friends of that have discerned something about my husband.

    I hope that something gets through to the above people in this post. The damage they cause from being blind like my old pastor is extremely damaging. My pastor and his nonbelieve of me over the years has caused deep damage.

  26. KayE

    The view that there must be two sinners is complete madness, especially when you are dealing with an abuser who professes to be a Christian but is not. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that abuse and persecution escalated as my faith got stronger. Are they saying I need redemption from choosing to follow Christ?

    • Are they saying I need redemption from choosing to follow Christ?

      thanks for this KayE. It shows how ludicrous CCEF’s words are.

      • standsfortruth

        Just like the persistant widow had to deal with; It came down to “her truth against their truth”.
        Except they preferred to isolate and outnumber her in their projection of the abusers flaws approach.
        –Had she had sufficient and equal support by her side, during those so called mediations, I think we may have seen an entirely different outcome or at least an “equal standoff”.
        The way it was it seemed like a bullying meeting,
        Them against her.

      • Still Reforming


        What you wrote here rings a bell: “her truth against their truth.”

        I think this is a notion prevalent in today’s society (relationship truth, ie, what’s truth for one isn’t truth to another), but it is erroneous thinking. If Billy Graham said there is a God, and Madelyn Murray O’Hare says there is not a God, both cannot be right. Both cannot have a truth that works for them. Likewise, if I say that the capitol of the United States is Washington DC and you say it’s Chicago, we both can’t be right. Truth isn’t relative.

        Today people reject absolute truth, and in so doing, they reject what God says about Truth. So for leaders of the church to take a position as if both sides of opposing views in a marriage each have “his or her own truth,” it’s very shallow and erroneous thinking on their parts. It really irks me more and more than church leaders refuse to get their hands dirty and do due diligence to find out the truth in these matters. Persistent Widow demonstrated meticulously and over time with great patience what the real truth was, and the leaders over her (demanding her submission to their legalistic ways and payment for same) rejected the truth. They’ll have to answer to the Judge of judges for that.

      • standsfortruth

        This is starting to sound more like they (CCEF) are projecting the flaw of the abuser upon the victim.

      • Projecting the flaws of the abuser on the victim? Whaa-a-a-aat? We couldn’t be mixing them up! We don’t make mistakes like that! We are highly trained counselors with Degrees from Respected Training Seminaries! How dare you accuse us of projection! We are the counselors! You are the clients! How dare you try to tell us we are wrong! We are your superiors. Let us make is simple since you are so bereft of brain cells: here is how it works — we teach you! Don’t reverse the positions or we’ll blast you for resisting our authority!

  27. Better Equipped

    I believe part of what is at the heart of these misguided nouthetic counsellors is they strive to uphold the reputation of that wrongly-held perception of the gospel, that if you profess faith in Christ and obey His Word that all in life should go well. But when smooth roads are suddenly ruined by the reality of major potholes, somehow it means the gospel doesn’t work. It’s ironic that while oversimplifying the effects of abuse, they seem very skimpy with mercy, compassion, and grace. They offer legalism at best.

    I’ve been in counseling where my spouse literally railed me and hurled abusive insults at me and the counselor allowed it, his silence enabling the abuse all the more. Then afterward proceeded to admonish BOTH of us how that we need to speak kindly to one another! I felt more violated by the time I left that office than before entering it. I believe that is where the emotional destruction began to eat at my soul – not having the advocate I needed in an obvious-to-others-except-me scenario.

  28. Amelia

    Can I just say that [as] a former student at CCEF and having taken an observation course where we watch an abusive marriage counseling case with Darby Strickland (CCEF staff member who specializes in abusive marriages) it was incredibly well-balanced. She saw through to the abuse going on (it was mostly emotional), gently helped the woman to see it (she didn’t and blamed herself – so this freed her immensely), also carefully went about helping the man to see what he was doing (in a way that made him less defensive) and wrote to their church explaining what she found and encouraging them to see it too. There was firmness in that this was NOT OK, but yet there was hope that he COULD change by the power of the Gospel. But we also discussed the likelihood of him changing was small and really depended on the willingness of his pastors to see it, believe her and strongly hold him accountable for his attitude and treatment of her. A support system for her was set up and a plan for how she should respond to him when he was being abusive. It was agreed that if he didn’t change she had the freedom and right to leave.

    I’ve seen a few articles on your view of CCEF and first of all – some of the things you quote are older (they’ve changed their views to be more balanced – especially since Jay Adams left and Darby’s joined the staff). It’s really solid now – they’re even starting a course on how to counsel an abusive marriage which should be really excellent! I’d encourage you to read of some of their more recent things and give them another chance. 🙂

    [ACFJ’s Administrators have combined the two comments Amelia submitted into one comment. Here is her second comment, minus some material that was repeated from the first comment.]

    In that observation class where we watched Darby try and counsel a couple where the man was emotionally abusive it was really eye-opening. The wife was convinced she was at fault and Darby gently helped her to see that she wasn’t!! This was so freeing to her and empowering and Darby helped her get a support system and know how she ought to respond to him when he was acting wrongly. Darby very creatively counseled the husband and worked to help him see what he was doing (in a way that made him less defensive). He didn’t really want to see it though it was really sad. Darby followed up by writing to their church of her findings and what they should do (believe her, have him in counseling, and hold him to a high standard). The goal was to see if he would change. We talked about how abusers don’t change… unless they’ve had long-term counseling because they have very long-term bad habits that are ingrained in them.

    • Hello Amelia, thank you for your comments and I apologise for us holding them in moderation for so long — which was simply because I’ve been very busy.

      You sound like a counseling student who is a little way along the path of learning about domestic abuse. Darby’s teaching may have seemed to you very inspirational and insightful, but there are still problems we have with CCEF and Darby Strickland which we will not back down from enunciating unless CCEF come right out and retract and apologise for their earlier teaching.

      You say that they’ve changed now, and that the quotes we gave of them are now outdated. But if they have changed, if they have wholly and fully done a rethink and solid turn-around from what they taught before, why have they not publicly confessed the errors in what they taught before and asked forgiveness from all they had hurt by those errors? Surely that is the least they should have done, considering how they are ‘professional counselor trainers’ and so they supposedly know all about the duty of care that professionals like them have to their audience of students and pastors and lay readers?

      Just because Darby’s class gave you some insight, does it mean they are doing the job they are supposed to be doing well enough? If the insight Darby gave you was eye-opening and encouraging to you, to what degrree does that point to Darby’s expertise, and to what degree might it point to your relative former naivety?

      Any drop of water in a desert is soothing and life-giving, but isn’t it better if the water is pure and not contaminated? (see our post Parched for Truth)

      What assurances do you or Darby Strickland have that after that counseling session the abuser didn’t retaliate BIG TIME on his victim, and the victim is too afraid to disclose any of it? Why is Darby conducting ‘couple counseling’ sessions when couple counseling is CONTRA-INDICATED (because it’s dangerous) in domestic abuse? (See why it’s dangerous here)

      I think that’s enough to give you for the moment.

      Basically, I encourage you for starting to become aware of the dynamics of domestic abuse, but at the same time I urge you to not think that the first drop of water you get in the desert is pure water. I urge you to keep reading this blog and see more about where we are coming from and why we believe what we believe, before thinking you have the wisdom to admonish us.

  29. Desperate mom

    Please I need immediate help to escape domestic violence. I’ve been trying for weeks to get into shelters.

    • Oh dear. You are not the only victim who I’ve heard about who can’t get into a shelter. The domestic violence support system seems to be getting more and more overloaded & underfunded, or perhaps some people who work in that system are not doing the things they are MEANT to do to help victims get safe.

      I’m sure you’ve already tried the Hotline in your country….so this link at our Resources page will probably not be helpful.

      I wish I could do more to help you. We are only a website; we don’t run shelters and we don’t have any clout to pressure shelters (or governments that fund shelters) to get them to do what they are supposed to be doing!

    • anonymous

      I don’t know your circumstances but sometimes shelters have money available to them through specific grants where they can pay for bus ticket(s) so you can get somewhere else, potentially to a shelter much, much further away than you might have tried to get into…. If your situation is really severe, perhaps a cross-country trip might work out nicely for you. There have been moms who have packed their kids in the car and gone many states away to escape abuse / DV.

      Depending on where you are, certain shelters have access to databases showing them where else there may be an opening, but you’d need to travel to another city or county.

      A backlog of victims needing shelter is common. In the U.S. there are more beds and spaces available for unwanted dogs and cats, than for women fleeing and escaping abuse.

      And sadly, not all DV advocates are good people or good workers. I have heard about spaces / beds being available but the worker on shift didn’t want to do the intake paperwork and the extra work in taking in a new client, so they lied and claimed no beds were available or otherwise failed to make a room ready for the next person.

      And you do highlight an excellent point, Desperate Mom, as so many women remain where they are because they don’t have options or alternatives. Depending on how old your kids are, yanking them out of school, transferring them to another school, or whatever is done with school-aged children fleeing with their moms….that’s another layer of difficulty.

      But shelters are almost always full, underfunded, overcrowded, and that’s because there are so many women who are being abused. DV / DA is huge.

      At least you are trying and have been trying for weeks. I applaud you for that. Saying a prayer for you, Desperate Mom.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        I’m not sure if the US operates like in my country where ordinary people who understand abuse can be registered as safe houses with the authorities. It’s usually a home out of the way and meets lots of criteria but the people have had good training and usually because it’s not a larger safehouse being just an ordinary home for a family with some extra rooms, it’s a stop gap perhaps until authorities find somewhere more permanent.
        If you operate a similar system it may be worth a look in the short term. Certainly the ones I know of, it provides for only you and your family no one else. So it’s not so much an institutional place so to speak. More homely and perhaps for kids less fearful. More like a guest house so to speak.

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

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

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

%d bloggers like this: