A Cry For Justice

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

Review of Gary Chapman’s book “Desperate Marriages” — by ‘Avid Reader’


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Dr. Gary Chapman is one of the leading Christian teachers on marriage. His book, The Five Love Languages, has sold millions of copies. Having read that book, you can tell that he has a heart for people. That’s why this book doesn’t sound like it was written by Dr. Chapman. Certain parts come across as so cold and detached that you are left cringing in horror.

Throughout this book, Dr. Chapman’s years of experience in counseling come through — he gives plenty of advice that is above average compared to many of the other best-selling Christian marriage books. Some of the best advice that Dr. Chapman gives is in chapter 5, The Workaholic Spouse, and chapter 12, The Alcoholic/Drug-Abusing Spouse:

Many workaholics suffer from a deep sense of inferiority and also feel unloved. The message they received from their parents was that — we love you — if you make your bed, clean your room, mow the grass etc. (pp77-78)

The most common mistake of an individual married to a substance abuser is to hope that the situation will simply take care of itself, that the abuser will wake up some morning and decide to stop her addictive behavior….Let the abuser experience the results of his or her own abuse. The sooner the abuser comes to the end of the rope, the sooner he will reach out for help. (p195)

That is really good advice that could be applied to a variety of difficult marriages. By setting boundaries and allowing them to experience the consequences of their behavior, you are responding with the same tough love that God gives us.

Dr. Chapman also describes on page 45 how important it is for you and your spouse to be “free to express your feelings, thoughts, and desires. . . your marriage is not likely to return to a state of equilibrium as long as you have the sense that your spouse is trying to control you. . . If you and your spouse don’t find the balance between love and freedom you will never have a satisfying marriage. . .” That’s a great point that we should all strive for in our marriages.

Chapman addresses Domestic Violence

The rest of this book addresses some of the most difficult situations that people face. But some of the advice just comes across as very cold and detached. For example in chapter 9, which deals with the issue of domestic violence in the church, Dr. Chapman writes:

Researchers have discovered most abuse happens between the hours of 6PM to 6AM. The typical location of physical abuse is in the abusers’ home.”  (p135)

Really? That sounds so detached from reality. People buying this book are looking for real answers not boring statistics. This chapter continues waffling between really good points and horrific advice. On page 137, Dr Chapman gives a list of reasons why he believes that battered wives stay in dangerous situations:

  • low self-esteem acquired in her childhood
  • some battered wives are rescuers
  • procrastination because they have isolated themselves

Dr. Chapman is missing the number one reason that battered wives stay in abusive situations: BECAUSE THE CHURCH TELLS THEM TO! Does Dr. Chapman have any idea how many Christian books tell wives to submit to the abuse instead of following the Biblical pattern of setting boundaries to protect themselves?

Chapman Can’t Recommend Divorce

Moving right along, Dr. Chapman gives the example of a battered wife who comes to his office with dark glasses and long sleeves to hide the bruises. She wants to file for divorce.

Dr. Chapman has already made his feelings clear that

I wish I could recommend divorce as an option. When I listen to the deeply pained people in my office and at my seminars, my natural response is ‘Get out, get out, get out! Abandon the loser and get on with your life.

That’s actually what the Bible says too. Domestic violence is Biblical grounds for divorce. (Exodus 21:10-11) But Dr. Chapman doesn’t seem to understand that when he writes,

No one can walk away from a spouse as easily as he or she can sell bad stock. . . through the years I have counseled enough divorced persons to know that while divorce removes some pressures it creates a host of others. . . far too many couples in our society have opted for divorce too soon and at too great a price. (pp 21-23)

What about the “great price” of staying in the abusive situation? Besides, if divorce is such a bad thing, then why did even God Himself experience divorce? Jeremiah 3:8 is a powerful Scripture which shows us that even God Almighty reached a point where divorce was necessary, so it might happen to us too. So why does the church keep treating divorce like the unpardonable sin?

Chapman Stresses Reconciliation

Throughout this book, Dr. Chapman stresses reconciliation without enough consideration of the Biblical grounds for divorce, even telling people things like “you must understand and respond to the controller’s need for significance.” (p100) On pages 102-103 he continues:

Once a controlling spouse sees that you have a mind of your own and that you will not be controlled by his or her limited perspective he or she will likely come to respect your freedom. This approach applied consistently over a period of time has influenced many controllers to a more balanced approach to life.

If only life was that simple and easy! Reading that statement makes you feel like Dr. Chapman is trying to say that just a few easy steps and your life will change, but if your life doesn’t change then its your fault for not trying hard enough.

Back to the story of counseling the battered wife who has visible bruises and has been to the emergency room three times. He advises her to leave the house and find a safe place. Instead of trying to confront her husband in person, he also recommends that she write him a letter, explaining her feelings, her reason for the separation and suggesting that he seek counseling. She follows that advice. The husband tries to convince her to return. She refuses. The husband begins counseling with Dr. Chapman. The wife also continues separate counseling with Dr. Chapman for several months. Dr. Chapman writes,

Bruce began to recognize that violence is never justified in a marriage and that uncontrolled expression of anger must be stopped if the marriage is to continue. (p144)

Mitzi recognized that she is responsible for her own attitude. Before counseling her attitude was ‘my only hope is divorce.’ In counseling, her attitude shifted to ‘I’m in an abusive marriage and I will use this to gain self-understanding.’  Later her attitude became ‘I will now seek to discover positive actions I can take to address this situation.’ (p147)

The story ends with the couple reconciling after one year. Dr. Chapman writes, “Together she and Bruce learned how to help meet each other’s emotional needs for love, freedom, significance, self-worth, recreation and eventually, peace with God.”

Hmmmm. . . we hope that’s what happened to Bruce and Mitzi, but reading that story leaves you wondering what actually happened behind closed doors. Even Dr. Chapman points out that “my observation is that a highly controlling person who has dominated a spouse for many years does NOT change quickly.” (p98)

This chapter on domestic violence comes across like it is pressuring the victim to reconcile with their abuser because Dr. Chapman can’t seem to accept the idea of divorce. He tries to make up for that by writing, “I am not naïve enough to suggest that divorce can be eliminated from the human landscape.” But this chapter just stresses the need for counseling while not addressing all the other needs of battered wives. And it ignores really important Bible verses like 2 Corinthians 11:10 where the Apostle Paul warns against “putting up with anyone who slaps you in the face.” (p23)

Chapman tackles Sexual Abuse

Moving right along, Dr. Chapman tackles the difficult subject of sexual abuse in chapter 10. The first half of this chapter has some real insights into counseling these situations. He gives the example of counseling a grown man who had experienced childhood abuse. We appreciate how Dr. Chapman was willing to address a topic that many other Christian leaders would prefer to avoid. However, the second half of this chapter takes a very dark turn that leaves us cringing in horror.

On pages 163-165 Dr. Chapman gives a real life example of counseling a wife after she had discovered that her husband was molesting their two daughters — ages sixteen and eighteen. She wants to divorce the husband and protect her daughters by never seeing him again.

Dr. Chapman advises her to separate but not divorce. He tells her to move out of the house and ask her husband to seek counseling. Then after “six to nine months” of counseling for the husband “when the counselor assures you that he has thoroughly worked through this problem then the two of you can begin to go for marriage counseling,” which Dr. Chapman expects will last another “six to nine months.”

Reading that leaves us shaking our heads in horror, unable to believe that a Christian leader like Dr. Chapman would actually give that kind of advice when the Bible clearly commands us 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. (1 Cor 5:11 NLT)

Why does the church require wives not just to eat with these types of husbands, but also to live and sleep with them too?

When Jesus was asked about marriage, He described biblical grounds for divorce with the Greek word porneia. (Matthew 19:9) Study that word in the Greek and you will find that it describes a wide range of immorality. Did Jesus require a trial separation or waiting period before filing for divorce? Nope. In fact, the Bible commands us to flee from evil. (1 Thess 5:22)

The Apostle Paul also used the Greek word porneia to describe the situation in Corinth where the guy was sleeping with his father’s wife. How did the Apostle Paul recommend dealing with that situation? Hand this man over to satan. (1 Cor 5:5) In other words, kick them out of the church. Don’t sit them down for several months of counseling so the wife can be pressured into reconciling! Get them out because Don’t you know that a little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough? Remove the old yeast of sin. (1 Cor 5:6-7)

The Apostle Paul recognized the need to protect the flock while the church is trampling them in the dust in the name of reconciliation! Since when has reconciliation become more important than everything else, including what Jesus referred to as the more important matters of the law? (Matthew 23:23) Besides, if reconciliation is so important, why did Jesus say I didn’t come to bring peace but division? (Matthew 10:34)

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this book doesn’t understand the difference between trusting in God and trusting in the flesh. For example, on page 223 Dr. Chapman writes, “Refuse to believe that your situation is hopeless. Choose rather to believe in the power of human potential for change.”

But the Bible warns us that confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. (Proverbs 25:19) Would Christian leaders ever encourage us to put our confidence in “an unfaithful man?” Think about that when you read pages 182-183 where Dr. Chapman teaches that if you find out your spouse is having an affair then “restoration is the goal toward which you should work when your spouse has been unfaithful.”

The Bible says that it’s better to trust God than to trust in people.(Psalm 118:8) So then why does the church keep telling wives to trust in people? The truth is that you can trust God while you set boundaries with people. (Also see Proverbs 20:16) That’s why Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15) and the Apostle Paul told us to be on your guard for the evil that would be in the church. (Acts 20:30-32)

Why is the church protecting abusers when Jesus said that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around their neck and them thrown into the deepest sea than to hurt one of these little ones ? (Matthew 18:6)

Jesus gives you the option of divorce.  Why can’t Dr. Chapman balance out his teaching with more understanding of Biblical reasons for divorce? Instead, reading this book feels like he’s pressuring you into reconciliation whether or not that’s the best choice for you. Before you take that route, remember what Jesus said about the millstone.


Avid Reader kindly gave us permission to republish this review. Many thanks to her!



  1. Sarah


  2. Jeff Crippen

    I believe a fundamental question to be answered whenever we are seeking a new church, looking for a counselor, or picking up a book like this one is “Do you teach that abuse is biblical grounds for divorce and that to file for divorce from an abuser is not a sin but a path to real freedom God will bless?”

    Unless the answer is an unqualified “absolutely!” then you can bet that in the end no matter how supportive a person may sound at first, they will not back the victim up when she / he files for divorce. Thank you VERY much for this excellent review.

    • healinginhim

      ACFJ – thank you for posting this review and Pastor Crippen for your wise advice in choosing a ‘true church’.

  3. LorenHaas

    This is an excellent “acid test” for a church / pastor when victims of domestic abuse seek help. I hope you emphasize this in the future. It will save much grief by building discernment.

  4. Meri

    Having personal experience with a sex offender and chemically dependent spouses as well as being a chemical dependence counselor for 13 years….. The main flaw I see in Dr Chapman’s writing as reviewed here is that the majority of sex addicts, abusers and chemically dependant persons won’t agree or cooperate with counseling if indeed responsible knowledgeable counseling is available and / or affordable.

  5. shepherdguardian

    Typical “rigorist-view”, “permanence-view” drivel.
    Gary Chapman is the abuser’s best friend and enabler.
    Where is the mercy?
    Where is the mercy for the victims?
    Gary Chapman asks us to worship the I dolatry of marriage over the whole counsel of Scripture.

  6. Suzanne

    Why is the Christian book market flooded with these books that do so much harm to the already suffering victims of abuse? And when are those teachers who call themselves Christians going to write books based on the Word of God and not on the false teachings of men? There are too many of these abuse-perpetuating works on the market and too few that teach what the Bible says about divorce. It’s long past time for the church to cease making an idol of marriage and sacrificing the lives of innocents to it.

  7. Not Too Late

    Dr Chapman claims: “…far too many couples in our society have opted for divorce too soon and at too great a price.”

    He is not alone in that claim. It seems to be an oft-repeated claim of most Christian counselors, authors and pastors. But I would like ask them, who are the “far too many couples in our society”? Do they think that devoted Christian wives are like the “far too many couples in our society” that can’t wait to get out of their marriage? What about the “far too many couples” in Christian churches that opted to stay and at too great a price? Is that not a much more pressing problem right now?

  8. Lea

    my natural response is ‘Get out, get out, get out! Abandon the loser and get on with your life.

    I think too many people are trying to parse out what the words in the Bible say too literally and ignoring common sense, conscience, and probably the Holy Spirit. Maybe they should be going with their gut reaction, instead.

  9. But He Didn't Hit Me

    Oh I will not be reading this book. He is horribly naive when it comes to domestic violence. This book could cause a lot of harm through its bad advice. It’s too bad he put this book out. It is a disservice that many will read because of how well known he is. How can you write a whole book on desperate marriages and be wrong about these things???

    • healinginhim

      But He Didn’t Hit Me – Your name resonates with my life “now” … there has been physical harm in the past but now that it’s only emotional abuse from ‘him’ and others, I’m just expected to get on with life. AND countless advice and resources like Chapman’s was most of what I received for almost 30 plus years. 😦

  10. Sunflower

    “Believe in the power of human potential for change”? At the beginning of the review I kept thinking that the writer has a (false) belief in the goodness of man, and that sentence makes it clear. I only trust in the power of God to bring change, and that needs WAY more than a few months of serious counseling, careful fruit inspection, and accountability.

  11. Concerned Mom

    I am sitting here almost shaking after reading this review. The cover of the book made a statement right away and grieved my heart…a woman, looking away, looking sad and looking lost. And yes, it is the mostly women who comes to the church for comfort and safety when she is in a destructive marriage, yet, only to recieve more wounds for her already hurting heart. I thank the reviewer for a well written review and I don’t think I could stomach to read the book, her review told me enough. It seems it’s all about the “marriage” at all costs, instead of Jesus. It looks like once again, marriage has become an idol, and is more important than the person who is being treated so UnGodly. My human thoughts are Jesus would never tell a woman to return to a husband who molested their teenage daughters…what is that teaching these precious young girls??? Their lives have already been altered and damage forever!
    I don’t know if Dr. Chapman covered how to help the children who are sexually abused by their fathers….but my guess he did not. As the reviewer wrote, “Why is the church protecting abusers when Jesus said that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around their neck and then thrown into the deepest sea than to hurt one of these little ones! ” Matthew 18:6

  12. M&M

    Ummmmm…… I think a good marriage counselor would mandatorily report the abuse of a 16 year old to authorities……some of the ACFJ-not-recommended books are only abusive in certain contexts, but this one in every context. “Love and Respect” or “Five Love Languages” don’t feel abusive to every reader, but can be used abusively. Even the Bible can be used abusively, but doesn’t have to be. However, I can’t think of any context in which it isn’t abusive to “reconcile” with a child molester. Creepy!!!!

  13. Heather Black (formerly H)

    I want to know what the “far too many other” problems cause by divorce rather than staying in an abusive marriage are, that are apparently “such a great price.”

    Is a woman being beaten down mentally and emotionally, and perhaps even physically, on a daily basis from the one who “loves” her a worse fate than being divorced? Can a person who has never been abused possibly comprehend what it is like to have someone tell you they “love” you over and over again while purposely and selfishly harming you? It does something very great and evil to an abused person’s definition and understanding of love, and therefore distorts and muddies the relationship of the abused with God. What an evil, evil thing, and so destructive. How can divorce possibly be worse?

    I hate the idea of divorce. I’m afraid of it for so many reasons. But isn’t it ironic that the BIGGEST reason I fear divorce is because of the stigma I will carry for the rest of my life among Christians? I may get over loneliness, I may get over the abuse, I may get over financial hurdles, I may even remarry…. But I will never, even after remarrying, escape the judgment that some Christians will put on me for the rest of my life without even knowing anything about my story. So it’s ironic that Chapman is part of the problem of creating that terrible cost of divorce.

    • JannaG

      I’m divorced. My ex was repeatedly unfaithful and was good at saying some very hurtful things. I tried reconciling for several years, fearing divorce. As a Christian, I have found that there are many other divorced Christians. In fact some churches even have divorce care as a support group for divorced Christians. There is a lot less judgment from Christians than I would have expected. If you’re finding a lot of judgmental Christians at church, perhaps there are other churches around who will be a lot more accepting.

      • Hi JannaG, welcome to the blog. Please read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

        I’m glad that as a divorced Christian you have found less judgement from other Christians than you had expected. That’s not the case for all of our readers. And yes, to some extent it varies with individual churches. The level of judgement can also vary depending on whether or not one’s abuser gets into the ear of the Christians one is interacting with. We hear quite often from victims who left their church because the church was so badly mistreating them, and they find a different church where initially they are welcomed and supported…. but if their abuser then visits that church and gets in the ear of the pastor and few of the influential people, the church’s opinion changes… and the survivor of abuse is judged a lot more heavily.

        BTW, we know that some victims of abuse have found DivorceCare groups helpful. Others have found them not helpful. The groups seem to vary, partly depending on the experience and wisdom of the facilitators. You may like to read the posts under our tag DivorceCare Program.

        Again, welcome the blog 🙂

  14. Stronger Now

    This is so disappointing.

    We do not need yet another book that recommends counseling for abusers, when effective counseling is so hard to come by, and abusers are so good at pulling the wool over their counselors’ eyes. These evil men are NOT looking to change, they are looking for allies to help them continue their evil deeds.

    And the advice for a woman to stay with a man who has molested his teenage daughters is horrific! In fact, the man belongs in JAIL and the wife and daughters need to get as far away from him as they can, as fast as they can!

    I shake my head and ask myself, “What was he THINKING??”

    My answer is this: Clearly Dr. Chapman sees himself and other counselors as “super pastors” who are more powerful than the Holy Spirit Himself at effecting deep, lasting change in the hearts of evil men. Besides making an idol out of marriage, these counselors make idols of themselves.

    It is advice like this, from authors like this, that drives us all away from so-called “Christian” counseling. It’s beyond useless – it’s dangerous. Potentially deadly.

    Dr. Chapman should be ashamed of himself for pontificating on a subject about which he is indeed profoundly ignorant.

  15. Annie

    Oh my gosh I can just imagine some woman buying this thinking it will have the answer for her abusive marriage. And then sadly realizing nothing has changed after she tries his suggestions. Which just adds to the sense of failure.

    Plus I’m so sick of these Christian counselors saying that the wife has things to work on too! I’ve spent DECADES trying EVERYTHING! And since I can’t get my husband to do anything it’s always me trying to make things better! I’ve changed my attitude and behavior every which way and nothing works because it has no effect on my husband never-changing attitude.

    This part quoted is just rich:

    Bruce began to recognize that violence is never justified in a marriage and that uncontrolled expression of anger must be stopped if the marriage is to continue. (p144)

    Mitzi recognized that she is responsible for her own attitude. Before counseling her attitude was ‘my only hope is divorce.’ In counseling, her attitude shifted to ‘I’m in an abusive marriage and I will use this to gain self-understanding.’ Later her attitude became ‘I will now seek to discover positive actions I can take to address this situation.’ (p147)

    Bruce may have said he recognized violence is never right. But does he actually believe that??? Hurting his wife didn’t wake him up to that but this counselor did? Why did he think Bruce recognized that I wonder —— because Bruce said it? You ought to hear the stuff my husband says and I know for a fact he doesn’t believe it.

    And I hate how Mitzi’s attitude is somehow equal to Bruce’s violence! Ha! I would say this counselor has it backwards. More likely Mitzi’s real attitude progressed from “seek to discover positive actions I can take to address this situation” to “will use this to gain self-understanding” to “I’m in an abusive marriage” to finally “my only hope is divorce”. It’s obvious he has spent little time with abused women or if he has then he has no sympathy for them. Abused women are adjusting their attitudes all the time hoping for the solutions to their husband’s unchanging attitude!

    I don’t know the author of this book but I’m always suspicious of anyone who claims to know something about marriages but seems oddly unsympathetic to abused women. I know that abusers and their allies tend to be that way.

  16. KayE

    Once a controlling spouse sees that you have a mind of your own and that you will not be controlled by his or her limited perspective he or she will likely come to respect your freedom.

    This statement is so dangerous it makes me really angry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Controlling partners are not likely to ever have any respect for your freedom. What really happens is this – once a controlling spouse sees that you have a mind of your own and you are resisting his control, then he or she will likely increase their efforts to bring you back under control, and that could result in severe physical harm to you, maybe even death.

    • MarkQ

      Exactly. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I was spiritually abused in a church. I had a mind of my own and could not be controlled, but my abuser never respected my freedom, not even ten years later. Instead, he took every opportunity to cut me down in front of other people. I (and others) only had value when we agreed with him and did everything he said. When we didn’t agree, or didn’t obey, we received shame, guilt and opposition.

      I think the difference is between people who truly want to make it work and people who are using the system. Maybe Chapman doesn’t get it – he assumes that someone who walks into his office and says he wants to change really does, but I know a person who was playing nice as long as his wife was obeying the church, but when she divorced him, all the sudden he had no interest in changing.

      Unfortunately, what he says about divorce is a common tactic of abusers and their friends. Like a bad chain letter. “I know a women who filed for divorce. The next day, her boss fired her, a car crashed into her house, her children started using drugs and two black cats walked across her path.”

    • Readers, I encourage you to contact the head offices of Christian book retailers and tell them this book is dangerous. You can use KayE’s words as the template for your complaint. Ask the retailers to stop selling this book because it gives advice that gravely endangers victims of domestic abuse.

  17. Misti

    The wedding vow is to love and cherish each other. An abuser breaks that—the foremost of the vows—and is unfaithful to the spouse by loving only themselves, and yet the victim’s often the only one held responsible or accused of breaking the covenant, especially if s/he leaves. That it was already broken is conveniently ignored.

    We are all responsible for our own actions and words. Scripture gives clear prerequisites for reconciliation, and one of them is that both parties must take responsibility for their own actions.

    In addition, abusers themselves demand that the victims treat them as gods, so demanding a victim stay with their abuser is demanding that s/he serve two masters. (That holds true whether the abuse is between husband and wife or parent and child dynamic.)

    The goats in the church have well-trained the church at large to ignore the signs and to ignore the verses and obligations that would inconvenience or unsettle the goats.

    I wonder if the “narrow gate” analogy that Jesus uses in Matthew 7:13 is meant to apply to life in general, not just the saved vs. unsaved distinction.

    • The goats in the church have well-trained the church at large to ignore the signs and to ignore the verses and obligations that would inconvenience or unsettle the goats.


      Twbtc, can you please add this to our Gems page? Thanks.

      • Misti

        I’m glad I said it, then. 🙂 I almost didn’t, since it’s so obvious to me (coming from a Reformed Presbyterian background). I hope it helps someone. 🙂

    • StandsWithAFist

      Amen. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery “go and sin no more”. Yet Jesus’ harshest criticisms were not to sinners and tax-gatherers, but delivered to the so-called “super pastors”, the religious leaders. Jesus did NOT say to the goats “go and sin no more”, but instead He said “you blew it”. He held them accountable for their ignorance, called them out on their false piety, and basically said to them “there are no do-overs”. The goats could not go back and unscramble an egg. Perhaps their eternal punishment is precisely that: there is no reconciling, no blame-shifting, no do-overs. They were more committed to their excuses than to the reality of Jesus Himself revealed in another’s suffering and He was having none of it. The goat’s wimpy protest “we didn’t know”, “we didn’t see anything”, “we never knew” did not fly with Jesus. He didn’t let them off the hook, and there were no excuses of “bad childhoods” or “feelings of inferiority”. Jesus didn’t give the goats a second chance to “make things right’, go for counseling, or make empty promises. Like the Good Samaritan, the same people who ignored the bruised, beaten and bloodied don’t get to go back and “get it right this time”.
      They blew it.
      They crossed the street.
      They pretended not to see.
      They are not sorry.
      They are exposed… as goats!

      What fellowship has light with darkness?

      • Misti

        Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery “go and sin no more”. Yet Jesus’ harshest criticisms were not to sinners and tax-gatherers, but delivered to the so-called “super pastors”, the religious leaders.

        Yes, very much this!

  18. Lydia

    Do you ever wonder how often the counselor checks up on the “success story” they write about? My experience with battered women is they don’t go back to the same counselor with their “failure”. I take these stories with a grain of salt.

    • Lea

      I think if any book about counseling doesn’t have some non-success stories it’s probably not a good one…

  19. outofthefog
  20. outofthefog

    Horrible & disgusting. As if the advice wasn’t bad enough for a woman being abused… what he goes on to say about daughters being abused is off the charts unreal. A pastor most certainly would be a mandatory reporter and should do so immediately upon hearing about any such abuse.

    I live in a community where this just happened. A head pastor did indeed want to hide information of sexual abuse by another pastor & his daughter (from age 3 -12) brought forth by family members after the young woman finally came forth and shared her unbelievably horrific story. The said pastor’s family members who were not abused said absolutely not, we will stand by our sister & either you tell the congregation or we will. Police had already been contacted by family. Wife of abuser pastor stood behind her man – against her daughter (sick). Today the family is stronger, fractured from mom & dad but they made a stand for their sister & the entire city. The pastor in question was sentenced to 15 yrs. last week.

    Anyone who thinks it is ok to cover up such horrific abuse is just as guilty as the abuser.
    This makes me shake.

    • Hi outofthefog, since that man has been sentenced, we are happy to publish any good news report about that case. So if you can find a good link to such a news report, submit it here in the comments thread.

  21. IamMyBeloved's

    I believe part of the problem here is that people cannot accept that wicked people share the earth with God’s people. This neutralizing evil simply has to stop and I continue to meet people who mix godliness and wickedness and somehow come up with good. I do not think that anyone who has not been victimized should read a book written by one of these authors and if an author writes a book on abuse who has never been abused, then my attitude is that they know nothing about it and why would I waste my time. That would be like me reading a book on brain surgery, written by the loan officer at my bank.

    My Bible is sufficient to tell me that God approves and even demands divorce by wives from their abusers because they are not the majority of the time – if ever – just someone who is confused and needs to know they cannot control and abuse others.

    These authors are arrogant and negligent in taking to task something they know absolutely nothing about. Two words for them. STOP IT!!

    • Suzanne

      I believe part of the problem here is that people cannot accept that wicked people share the earth with God’s people.

      I couldn’t agree more. And I would add that most Christians don’t accept that wicked people share the same church pews with them. All that the wicked have to do to be able to prey on Gods children with impunity is to falsely claim to be Christians. Once they do that they can be assured that they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions, including being put out of the church. And, horrifically, we have seen time and again that it’s the wicked who are protected and supported while their victims are shunned and excluded and even blamed for the evil acts of their abusers.
      Our churches are weak because they no longer teach the whole Bible and because we don’t have enough pastors like Jeff Crippen who are willing to stand up and tell the truth about evil in our churches.

    • shepherdguardian

      Well stated!

  22. For Too Long

    Oh my goodness, this statement was unreal:

    Once a controlling spouse sees that you have a mind of your own and that you will not be controlled by his or her limited perspective he or she will likely come to respect your freedom. This approach applied consistently over a period of time has influenced many controllers to a more balanced approach to life.

    It’s my experience that even if you do exercise your right to freedom, the abuser will just find another (possibly more covert) way to abuse you – usually in the form of what he DOESN’T do for you.

    • MarkQ

      As I said above, my experience with “freedom” within abuse is that the abuser actively poisoned my reputation among those in his sphere of influence (the church). The result was a very empty freedom.

      I guess a fictitious example is in order. Let’s say the husband goes out and gets drunk twice a week. The wife finds new “freedom” in not lying to cover up his drinking. While the husband doesn’t challenge her over this, he preemptively goes around to anyone she would tell and shares with them that his wife is trying to sabotage their marriage by spreading lies and gossip about him. So, when the wife tells them her husband is drinking, they’re inclined not to listen or believe her.

      • Free

        Good fictitious example IMO. That’s happened (fact) in my life.

        SFT- same here too. I remember countless times I couldn’t go to dentist or Drs appts or food shopping or whatever else because of that sort of thing. I’m so sorry this happened to you. What stress and control and abuse. I hate it.

    • standsfortruth

      It’s my experience that even if you do exercise your right to freedom, the abuser will just find another (possibly more covert) way to abuse you – usually in the form of what he DOESN’T do for you.

      Far too Long, my abuser also specialized in NOT doing what he should have done, using the excuse, he was just “too overwhelmed” with everything to respond properly to a given situtation.
      I believe this was how he punished me too.
      He was controlling me with what I called “active indifference”. (perhaps there is a better name for this)
      He knew I could not leave him alone with a potentially explosive situtation with my children, so this is also how he sabbatoged my plans.
      He would intentionally create a splitting disorder between the children, setting them against each other, and would do nothing or sit back and watch when conflicts happened. (as if he had nothing to do with it)
      This was another way he controlled me, since he knew I would not leave- when conflicts happened, in order to keep peace in the family.

      • For Too Long

        Standsfortruth, I totally relate to the “too overwhelmed” line. I’ve heard that many times. Also, the “too complicated” line such as I got a couple days ago. According to the court’s temporary order, we’re supposed to be splitting our daughter’s medical expenses. I presented him a simple receipt for reimbursement from one of her doctor’s the other day for $50 (it was very simple – one charge, that’s all). He stared at it for a minute and finally barked, “This is too complicated! Just go through your lawyer!”

        Also, your term “active indifference” is perfect! I’m going to have to remember that one.

      • healinginhim

        Standsfortruth — “active indifference” … that’s what I have lived with for almost four decades. The web of abusers in my life also involved in-laws who would seemingly favor one child over another; the man I married being one of them. My MIL interfered but it was acceptable because most elderly women seemed to favor their sons. The man I married and his siblings tolerated each other for years. Now that the parents are deceased and the daughter-in-laws are out of the picture they now visit with each other, so happy to reconnect. Sadly, my adult children condone and join in with this socializing.
        After years of putting off household projects; he eventually began completing them. I now realize that in doing this he looks very good to everyone and yet he only wants to now live in the same house; just leave him alone while he now visits our adult children and helps them with home improvements.
        As for improvements in our marital relationship? He told me he should never have made those promises to be a better man — he only said that while the children were here and he needed to keep me hanging on; hoping and praying.

      • standsfortruth

        Perhaps “passive indifference” could be another way to describe the abusers painful inactivity.
        Before finally finding books that give names to the tactics that the abuser employs, I remember needing to name the various types of abuse.
        When I didnt capitulate to what my abuser wanted or demanded from me, I got the multi faceted “thumbscrew treatment”, with increased painful punishment unless I relented.
        It was like terriorist warfare.
        Praying for your deliverance, Healing in Him. You deserve to be away from the abusers, that much I know..
        I too was with my abuser for some 30 plus years, before I began “making the plans” to break free.
        After that point it probably took about a year and 8 months of doing diligence, and staying the course to finally get free. With Gods help I know you can too.

      • Anonymous

        Standsfortruth, my husband did the same thing with the kids. Got them all riled up then sat back to watch the show–seemingly innocent of any wrongdoing and acting like HE was the peacekeeper. It took me decades to see the truth of this because I’d been so trained to fix everything and to never think bad about others. Wow! What a load of LIES I’d been forced to live with! Anyway, I now know that this is a favorite tactic of MANY abusers because they are so bored that they like to have strife and controversy to fill in for the emptiness inside of themselves. They care nothing about the damage it does to others and in fact to them that is just an added bonus!

        Putting all these tactics of the evil one out there for others to read helps us to gain strength and trust in the Lord (knowing that He already knows about it and that He hates it) and helps us chip away at the lies the evil one has built up against us. I’m so grateful for a place to write and read this stuff!

  23. Avid Reader

    Thank you all so much for your helpful votes and comments!! Your votes make a huge difference in keeping this review visible on Amazon.

    Reading your comments on this book was really fascinating—-you all noticed something that I should have mentioned in the review—-that this book sounds like Dr. Chapman wants to believe that abusers have changed because they say that they have.

    For example in Chapter 6 he describes counseling a couple where the husband is very controlling and obsessed with saving money to the point of installing a wood burning stove and a shower head that cuts the water flow down to a trickle, making it difficult to rinse off.

    At the END of the story AFTER the couple has been through counseling and “both of them had grown tremendously through the process,” Dr. Chapman writes, “Did Phillip lose his dominating personality? The answer is NO but he now understands it and understands that HE MUST CONTROL his natural desires to dominate. He is also sensitive to how his actions affect others, especially Sally….She now has freedom to share her emotions with him and if some statement or action on his part stimulates a sense of control WITHIN HER, she can share this with Phillip.” (p. 97)

    What goes through your mind when you read that?

    To answer the question by Concerned Mom—-Dr. Chapman does try to help the two teenage girls, age sixteen and eighteen that have suffered horrific abuse. He tells the mother to take them for counseling, but then he adds this (trigger warning), “That counseling should involve the mother because chances are the daughters have resentment toward her for allowing this to happen. She may not have known what was going on, but I can almost guarantee you that in their minds, they feel she is somewhat responsible.” (p. 164)

    If that isn’t bad enough then Dr. Chapman goes even further writing, “I have seen mothers and daughters work through their own conflicts related to the husband’s sexual abuse and I have seen husbands and wives genuinely reconcile with each other AFTER SUCH DEVASTATING ABUSES!” (p. 165)

    Let’s try to get this straight. Is Dr. Chapman pointing the finger at the mother? Why would he encourage her to stay in the relationship with the man who hurt their daughters while still warning her that the daughters will blame her for not cutting off the abuser’s access to the family?

    Just blows my mind that this is coming from one of the biggest leaders on Christian marriage. I wonder how many people have been turned away from the Lord by this kind of insane advice.

    • Innoscent

      Thank you Avid Reader for dissecting this despicable book and warning people on Amazon, so many triggers for you along the path for our sake. I had read several books by Gary Chapman and now I know they are doomed to the paper recycling bin for the next collection. I will keep far away from this one, I am so disgusted! He has no sense of right and wrong, nor justice. Reconciliation and marriage apparently are more important than victims themselves. Gary Chapman, like king Solomon got infatuated with his own wisdom and has lost it, that’s for sure.

  24. Annie

    I suspect that far too many in our society today have been infected with the psychology of Carl Rogers. In its simplest form he promoted the idea that everyone need empathy and acceptance. Sounds great until you understand that means you can never tell anyone they’re wrong lest you hurt their self-actualization and sense of self. I got a taste of this in an organization I was in years ago that taught his stuff. I’ve since read about how his psychology destroyed good people.

  25. CallingitLikeitIs

    I have just had a very cynical thought. Are all these ‘C’hristian authors who write such dangerous material ala this recent offering from Gary Chapman, onto a very lucrative gravy train? By this I mean they write one book, eg Five Love Languages, and it is helpful and successful. Then the sequels start rolling off the presses. By now they have a diligent following, due to the success of their first idea / book. Then they tap into another market, desperate for help, the domestic violence victim. By pumping out this utter wickedness, they almost guarantee a never ending supply of desperate people who will buy their material, based on their reputation, usually from the first book. Unfortunately children of the first purchasers may find themselves in similar dire straights, and start buying books, looking for solutions. Unless people find ACFJ, and the other wonderful people who speak truth, helping us to read scripture minus the “God hates divorce” lens, the whole domestic abuse pattern self perpetuates down the generations, and unscrupulous authors rake in the profits.

    • Hi — welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I changed your screen name to CallingitLikeitIs as a precaution (you’d used what looked like your real name).

      If you want us to change the screen name to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com —she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

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    • Misti

      That pattern of bait the hook with good + reel into bad = standard manipulation design. That’s why charm can be a red flag.

      Thanks for drawing my attention to the fact that the gravy train thing isn’t as obvious as it seems to me. 🙂

    • MarkQ

      It might be simpler than that. An author writes the first book as a complete unknown, so it has to be a certain quality to be considered, then it is edited and read / reviewed extensively before publishing. Once an author gets a reputation from that first book, then there is more pressure to get something out there and less pressure to make sure it is good and helpful, because there are people who will just buy books based on name recognition and subject matter.

      I think you have a second point, which is the preeminence of tradition. It seems as though there is somewhat a need for another confession. Since Westminster, I think there are differences in how we understand authority (most churches take exception to the state calling church councils) family relationships (most churches take exception to precluding widows / widowers from marrying in-laws). As I’ve said a few times, the WCF teaching on authority doesn’t even define “lording it over” or “abuse” in terms of sins of superiors, and there is no definition of “lawful command” – whether it is within their authority, or whether it is a command which doesn’t require someone to violate a higher law (illegal / immoral).

  26. Mona

    My husband and I were given Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages as a recommended source for helping with communication in our new marriage. The messages in the book were confusing.

    My husband was not a believer when we married, but ‘came to Christ’ about 8 months later, when I was separating from his emotional and psychological abuse for the third time. I still say it was a tactic to get me to stay, even though I know it is terribly judgmental.

    My husband has addiction issues (porn and alcohol) which I was not allowed to address after he ‘repented’….even though they all too soon were repeated. I mention the porn use because it greatly affected our intimate life and all but destroyed my self-esteem. It has been several years now since we read the book, but I believe the idea was to discover what our Love Language was, so we could relate better to each other. Unfortunately, the only message my H got was that his language was ‘physical touch’ and that I was to use that to communicate with him. In other words his ‘language’ ruled the house! Now try living in that household with a man addicted to porn who was demanding and insatiable. If my needs and opinions weren’t considered before, they were even less so then. After all, he was now ‘born again’ and the church recommended the book….that was all the proof he needed.

    I agree that we really have to take a hard look at any literature that encourages women to stay in abusive relationships….especially ones written by those who claim to know the Bible.

    I think I am discovering more lately that some churches have a hard time accepting other interpretations of scripture, if it doesn’t line up with long time belief. it’s like they aren’t obligated to ‘grow’ like the rest of us….I mean, aren’t we meant to be always growing in our knowledge of Him? So why are they stuck in their theology?

    • Hi Mona, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      I combined your two comments into one, so that other readers would more easily get the picture of what you are saying.

      Please allow me to encourage you. I don’t think you’re are being unjustly ‘judgemental’ in your opinion that your husband ‘came to Christ’ as a tactic to get you to stay with him. It is very common for abusive men to use that tactic when they are mistreating their wives and they want to pressure the wife to give them yet another chance.

      The Bible exhorts us to be wise as serpents in regard to the tactics used by evildoers. The Bible also encourages us to be discerning. Here is a post which I think you will find helpful: Is judging a sin?

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      I changed your screen name to simply Mona as a precaution for your safety. If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain). Her address is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

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