A Cry For Justice

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

How Wayne Grudem fits his ideas on authority/submission with his thoughts on domestic abuse

Wayne Grudem claims that complementarianism guards against abuse. He maintains that his ideas on authority and submission don’t lead to abuse because he also emphasizes that men and women are equal in value:

This created order is also best for us, because it comes from an allwise Creator. This created order truly honors men and women. It does not lead to abuse but guards against it, because both men and women are equal in value before God. (Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, link 53)

How, specifically, is Grudem guarding against abuse? How does he put the rhetoric into practice?

I couldn’t find much teaching Grudem has given to wives about how to deal with domestic abuse. I found some advice he gave to pastors which I’ll discuss below, and some general teaching that perhaps touches on the issue from which a wife could glean some crumbs.

Grudem’s general advice about distortions of authority and submission

Here is Grudem teaching in general about how biblical gender roles can be distorted. (Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, p39, link, boldface mine)

Putting this biblical pattern into practice in our daily lives is a challenge, because we can err in one direction or the other. There are errors of passivity, and there are errors of aggressiveness. This can be seen in the following chart:

Grudem's chart, How marital roles can be distorted

The biblical ideal, in the center column, is loving, humble headship on the part of the husband, following Ephesians 5:23-33. The biblical ideal on the part of the wife is joyful, intelligent submission to and support of her husband’s leadership, in accordance with Ephesians 5:22-24 and 31-33.

On the right side of the chart, the errors of aggressiveness are those that had their beginning, as we saw, in Genesis 3:16. The husband can become selfish, harsh, and domineering and act like a tyrant. This is not biblical headship but a tragic distortion of it. A wife can also demonstrate errors of aggressiveness when she resists and continually struggles against her husband’s leadership, not supporting it, but fighting against it and creating conflict every step of the way. She can become a usurper, something that is a tragic distortion of the biblical pattern of equality in the image of God.

On the other hand, on the left side of the chart, are the opposite errors, the errors of passivity. A husband can abdicate his leadership and neglect his responsibilities. He does not discipline his children, and he sits and watches TV and drinks his beer and does nothing. …  A wife also can commit errors of passivity. Rather than participating actively in family decisions, rather than contributing her wisdom and insight that is so much needed, her only response to every question is, “Yes, dear, whatever you say.” She knows her husband and her children are doing wrong, and she says nothing. Or her husband becomes verbally or physically abusive, and she never objects to him and never seeks church discipline or civil governmental intervention to bring about an end to the abuse. Or she never really expresses her own preferences with regard to friendships or family vacations or her own opinions regarding people or events, and she thinks what is required is that she be “submissive” to her husband. But this also is a tragic distortion of biblical patterns. She has become a doormat.

Oh. So a wife who never expresses her preferences and opinions and who only submits to her husband is a ‘doormat’. She has erred into too much passivity.

But what if her husband is an abuser and she’s walking on eggshells to avoid trouble? (The trouble he creates all the time and then blames her for.)  What if she is not expressing her preferences and opinions because whenever she has done so in the past, he has abused her? Is she making the error of passivity? Sounds like Grudem thinks she is. So what is his remedy for her?

  • She should object to her husband about his abuse. Ah! But that rarely works!  The abuser escalates or gets more crafty with his tactics when she objects.
  • She ought to seek church discipline and civil government intervention to bring and end to his abuse. Ah! If only those things DID bring an end to the abuse! And if only most churches realised that abuse is more than physical violence and that many abusers never use physically violence. If only churches and civil governments recognised coercive control as abuse. If only they could recognise when coercive control is occurring.

Grudem’s advice sounds quite like Calvin’s advice to the abused French noblewoman who sought safe haven in Geneva (see appendix 11 of my book Not Under Bondage). Nothing much has changed in the last 450 years in conservative Christian circles when it comes to domestic abuse.

When women realise they are being abused, how is Grudem treating them as “equal in value to men” when he advises them to seek help from and submit to pastors? FACT: most pastors typically think they know how to deal with abuse but they are dangerously clueless. (evidence) Ditto many Christian counselors

Grudem’s advice to pastors on domestic abuse

How Grudem fits his views about authority and submission with his thoughts on domestic abuse — that is where the rubber meets the road. As you read Grudem’s advice to pastors, ask yourself whether the tyres are likely to skid, or whether they will grip the road. (And I cannot bring myself to spell tyre like the Yanks do, sorry!)

From Mary Kassian’s blog, 2012 (source) —

I [Mary] emailed Wayne Grudem earlier this week to ask what he would like to communicate to complementarian pastors on this Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This is what he said:

I strongly deplore any abuse of wives by their husbands and I believe the Bible teaches clearly against it. When pastors learn about abuse occurring in a home in their congregation, they have an obligation before God to seek to bring an immediate end to it, through direct personal conversation with the abuser, support of the abused, professional counselling, through means such as church discipline, protective personal intervention in dangerous situations, using law enforcement and other legal pressures, extensive prayer, and, if necessary, legal separation. Pastors also need to encourage their church members and attenders to tell someone in church leadership if abuse is occurring, so that appropriate means can be brought to bring an immediate end to it.  Nobody in a leadership role in CBMW thinks that abuse within a marriage is justified by the biblical teachings about husbands and wives.

Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor, Phoenix Seminary, and co-founder and past president of CBMW

‘Tell a church leader’ — some help that is! Our readers frequently report that when they told a church leader, it only compounded and prolonged their suffering. (evidence)

‘Seek to bring an immediate end to it’ — how naive! As if any abuser ever immediately stopped being an abuser! Pretty obviously, Grudem thinks abuse is just physical violence. Clearly he has very little understanding of coercive control and emotional and verbal and financial and social and sexual and legal abuse…

‘Direct personal conversation with the abuser’ — some help that is, when pastors are so untrained in recognising and resisting the abusive man’s attempt to recruit them as allies, or at least get them to take a ‘neutral’ stance! Neutrality is not neutral: it serves the interests of the perpetrator far more than it serves the interests of the victim. (Lundy Bancroft explains that here. Judith Lewis Herman concurs.) Grudem hasn’t warned pastors to be on guard against the manipulations of abusers. He’s said nothing to reduce the risk that pastors will pressure victims to reconcile and submit as soon as their husbands masquerade repentance (which they almost certainly will).

‘Support of the abused’ — what, exactly? How far will that support go? Will it be like this?

‘Professional counseling’  — for whom? with whom? It’s all so vague. Will they refer the couple to Biblical Counselors like CCEF? Lots of room there for the abusers and the pastors to push the woman into couple counseling and mutualize the problem. Clearly Grudem has no idea how few counselors are properly trained to deal with domestic abuse… and how many counselors think they are trained, but are clueless.

‘Church discipline’ — what exactly? Does it mean remove the abuser from the church roll, but urge him to still come to church, like Ps Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks would? How does that help the victim feel safe when her abuser can get in the ear of all the congregation to slander her and exonerate himself?

‘Protective personal intervention in dangerous situations’ — are Grudem and other pastors sufficiently trained in how to do this? Maybe. But maybe not. It depends on how dangerous the situation is. And are they capable of assessing the risks? (learn about risk assessment herehere and here)

‘Using law enforcement and other legal pressures’ — great, so far as it goes. But it’s naive. Grudem doesn’t seem to understand how little the law in most jurisdictions protects women from coercive control, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and sexualized abuse.  And how often the justice system is manipulated by abusers to get custody or unsupervised access to the kids. And how abusers use access to the kids to abuse the kids and to continue abusing their spouse / former spouse.

As an aside, have CBWM ever thought of lobbying government to make family courts and family law more protective of victims of domestic abuse? I’ve only every heard of complementarians lobbying government to do more for the Fathers Rights movement. Father’s Rights groups are largely driven by men who have abused their wives and kids (evidence here and here from Lundy Bancroft; evidence here from Dr Michael Flood).

‘Extensive prayer’ — okay; but we have never heard of prayer making any lasting difference to the entitlement mentality of abusers.

‘And if necessary legal separation’ — so Grudem doesn’t allow divorce for abuse (proof). And as Jeff Crippen has said, what is this business of “legal separation”?  Where is the biblical case for that?  Is it not a limbo state of married but not married?  Doesn’t it sound a whole lot like one of those Pharisaical half-measures that inevitably are required when our interpretation of Scripture makes no sense?

Readers, if your pastor said what Grudem said, would you feel confident that he could and would fully support you? Is there anything else you would like to add?


Related posts

Wayne Grudem’s Position on Divorce for Abuse

Widows, Orphans, and the Oppressed: The Lord’s Priority. So step up to the plate, leaders!

The Abuse Victim as Widow

The Widows and Orphans of Our Time

The Silence of our Friends — at The Housewife Theologian


  1. Lea

    biblical ideal, in the center column, is loving, humble headship on the part of the husband,

    What about selflessness and self sacrifice?

    wife also can commit errors of passivity.

    It’s pretty rich that he is here also blaming wives for ‘errors of passivity’ in their actively submitting more in an attempt to avoid abuse – does he truly not see how women can never win in this little trap between doormat / submissive / usurper.

    And don’t even get me started on how many levels there are between submitting and usurping – the majority of our daily interactions with people live in the in-between or we would have no friends at all!

  2. kind of anonymous

    Oh, Mr. Grudem. How dangerously naïve. Complementarianism could only guard against abuse if it guaranteed inward righteousness and an obedient submitted heart to Jesus on the part of BOTH parties. In other words, its only as good as the people in it. That’s like saying “having a strong police force guarantees peace, safety and justice”. And of course in intent that is true, and the concept of justice, and those who enforce the law finds itself rooted in scripture as emanating from the heart of God Himself. Yet we have police brutality, cops on the take, cops caught in sting operations meant to catch pedophiles, cops ripping off drug evidence from the police lockup for their own personal drug use, etc. Clearly just being a cop doesn’t guarantee or create the inward righteousness and noble hearted character that should be the hallmark of a city`s finest. So it is with complementarianism. It only works if the husband is submitted to Christ from his heart. As with anything with authority behind it, it can be abused by a corrupt and dishonest person.

    • Stronger Now

      You hit the nail on the head. The whole scheme fails to consider the fallen human heart and its bent towards sin.

  3. Herjourney

    I have a personal question one that has been weighing heavy on my heart.

    I currently attend a non denominational church. The pastor speaks about loving your enemy. Many other mixed messages that my spirit does not agree with. At present.. Two of his elder board are men who appear abusive.
    Encounters with both from a biblical perspective. Other spiritual matters are coming to light.

    My dilemma. The pastor loves the Lord. Preaches the word with boldness. As far as reaching out to the abused I see no fruit. Also – Discernment with placing men in authority has got me concerned.

    Do I stay in a church body with what God has been showing me?
    Your thoughts are much appreciated!

    • Seeing Clearly

      Perhaps the underlying question is, “Should I acknowledge that my intuition is prompting me to move away from this church?” You are discerning, noting incorrect responses from 2 church leaders. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable inviting a friend who is in an abusive relationship to begin attending this church.

      Of course, the second half of leaving a church is finding another. Ready for a new adventure?

    • Hi HerJourney,
      We have a post or at least some comments somewhere on this blog already which deal with the question you’ve asked. I can’t remember off the top of my head where they are.
      I’ll try to get back to you later.

      But short answer is this: there is no easy answer to your question!

  4. Heather Black (formerly H)

    He says those incredibly vague things because he can’t say what he really should — “Women, seek help from outside the church, because they take the problem seriously and know how to handle cases like this. Seek non-Christian help, non-Christian counsel. We in the Church have no idea how to handle this.”

    When I separated from my husband and went in to my first few meetings with my pastor, I was so thrilled to have someone taking me seriously, believing me, and saying that my husband’s behavior was wrong. It was more than I expected considering the tragic accounts of many ACFJ readers. But then when my pastors admitted they had only encountered a few cases like mine, and I tried to helpfully provide them a few resources (such as Bancroft’s book and a few YouTube videos), I was gently and politely reminded that there is no problem that is outside the scope and reach of the Bible. So basically they didn’t need those resources, as the Bible would tell them everything they needed to know. (Try that line with someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer. As if the Bible tells us how to treat and cure it.)

    I then sat through a joint meeting with several pastors and my abuser husband, against my better judgment and advice. I told them that all trained abuse counsellors discourage joint counseling with the abusive partner, and expressed my own reservations about it. But they asked me to trust them and said it was necessary to confront my abuser publicly and see if he would own up to what he did or not.

    Well, during that meeting, as my abuser twisted everything they said around, outright lied about what he had done, and blamed the things he DID confess to on me, because I “made him do it”, I sat in silence. I didn’t need any defense, because what he was saying was so obviously rediculous, right? But the minutes ticked by and I watched as my pastors just respectfully listened to what he said, never called him out on anything, never challenged his accounts that were opposite of mine (so obviously one of us was lying).

    I watched as men of God saw me being verbally abused and slandered right in front of their very eyes, and who stood up to my defense? Which one of these men of God stood up between me and my accuser and said enough, be silent? None of them did. I finally stood up myself, told him that God and those men were my witness that he was lying and slandering me, and he should be very afraid for his life that he would lie in front of God. He’s lucky God didn’t strike him down on the spot like he did to Ananias and Sapphira. And then I left. Because no one was there to defend me except myself. Just like all the years I was being abused in my home behind close doors and nobody was there to defend me but myself.

    So Grudem is full of empty and vague advice because he has no idea what he’s talking about, no idea about the heart of God for the helpless and downtrodden, no idea about God’s zeal for justice and his vengeful wrath. He must not spend a lot of time in the imprecatory Psalms. He is indeed a Pharisee, greatly concerned about ironing out every tiny iota of his master musings on “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (doesn’t that sound impressive), but completely unconcerned about showing mercy and justice to small, unimportant individual women and children who are daily being terrorized and victimized by evil men.

    God is completely the opposite. Notice that the Bible isn’t some giant theological treatise. The Bible, written by God, is full of poetry and laments and stories of the voices of individual and small people who are experiencing evil and suffering, because these things matter very much to our truly important and impressive God.

    • H … thank you! I loved every word you wrote. 🙂

  5. KayJay

    There are states (and I live in one) where there is no such thing as “legal separation.” You’re either married or you’re not. I’m a little surprised that someone like Grudem who thinks in black and white terms would propose such an idea. 😉

  6. Heather Black (formerly H)

    I’d also like to ask, was the quote from Grudem explaining his stupid chart complete? Because it’s amazing that in both the sins of “aggressiveness” and “passivity”, men are described in a line or two, while women get a long descriptive paragraph about how they fulfill those sins. Men aren’t that bad, the “passive” ones just drink beer and watch tv. But those women, wow, those doormats, I will be very descriptive about them and give lots of details and examples about them so you can watch out for them, or more easily find the flaws in yourself if you’re a woman reading.

    • H, in my post I gave the link to Grudem’s book from which I copied his table and his explanation of it. You can click on that link (it takes you to the entire PDF of that book of his) and look for yourself and see whether I have accurately conveyed what he wrote or whether I cherry picked it for my own agenda. I don’t believe I cherry picked it, but I would like readers to do the research for themselves.

      I gave so many links in my post because I want as many of us as possible — an army of people — to be diligent at examining and exposing the evil. Please don’t just trust my research. Double check it for yourself. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Stronger Now

    Dangerously naive, and willfully ignorant.

    Victim blaming.

    I’m almost shaking, I’m so furious.

    He clearly has zero experience in this area. To speak so “authoritatively” on a subject when he knows nothing about it is practically criminal. People’s very lives are at stake, and he talks about what to do based on his theories, never having tried to put them into practice and seeing the results! It’s not like the information isn’t available. If he would seek to find out the results of applying his theories, he could learn what actually happens in the real world. Declining to do so, and insisting on pontificating from his point of ignorance, is practically criminal. Following his advice will certainly send some women to their deaths. Their blood is on his hands.

    He gives the general population of pastors WAY too much credit for having a CLUE how to deal with abuse. But then, why would he see this error when he has so little self-awareness as to his own CLUELESSNESS? The arrogance of refusing to investigate the practical application of his advice just astounds me. This in itself is abusive.

    His chart is insulting in its oversimplification. He again has NO CLUE about the dynamics of abuse. What, pray tell, does he consider the difference between “participating actively in family decisions ….. contributing her wisdom and insight that is so much needed,” and “resist[ing] and continually struggl[ing] against her husband’s leadership, not supporting it, but fighting against it and creating conflict every step of the way”?? Because in an abusive, coercive, controlling situation, offering a point of view that differs from the abuser’s, is considered “usurping” and “resisting” his “leadership.”

    At first the husband may pretend to listen to her point of view, then simply ignore it when making the decisions, harming her and the rest of the family in the process. Eventually, though, it comes to the point where his most absurd statements or ideas MUST be agreed with OR ELSE. One cannot even say “mmm-hmm” or decline to comment, one is required to enthusiastically agree, even though he is being ridiculous or dangerous. If the expected agreement fails to meet his ears, a tantrum or worse will ensue. Grudem’s chart calls this an error of passivity on the part of a woman who simply needs to protect herself and her children from her husband’s rage. Victim blaming, plain and simple. She knows from painful experience that it’s dangerous to have an opinion of her own.

    And yet, most of the behavior of an emotionally, verbally, sexually, financially, and psychologically abusive man is not criminal. Try proving marital rape in court. No bruises? No weapon? No rape, even though there was no consent. You simply cannot get the civil authorities involved for “coercive control,” because in most places it is not against the law, and even if it was, it would be nearly impossible to prove.

    Talking with the pastor? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My husband made an ally of every single pastor I tried to talk to. Couples counseling always made things worse, even with the best Christian counselor in our area, because Mr. Charming convinced every single counselor that I was impossible to please and he was the poor victimized husband who was trying with all his might to make this woman happy. When the truth eventually came out that they were being played like a piano, being lied to and manipulated at every turn, they all threw up their hands and sent us on our way. To a man. Every single one. “I can’t help you, your problems are too much for me.” Confront the abuser? Church discipline? Never.

    The last pastor I talked to insisted there were no grounds for divorce, even though my husband’s irresponsibility had caused me and several minor children to be homeless. This ignorant pastor, who had been entirely buffaloed by Mr. Charming, said that his chronic, willful, addictive use of pornography and resultant habitual rape of me, did not constitute grounds for divorce. “Porn use is not adultery.” Of course, in all of their multiple one-on-one counseling sessions, he had never revealed his porn use or rape, so when I told the pastor about it, he was surprised, but still insisted that he “wasn’t comfortable” with the idea of divorce. This, in spite of the fact that he had just learned that he had been lied to consistently throughout their counseling sessions. I told him I didn’t care what he thought, and left.

    I would dare say this pastor, and all of the others, would fit perfectly as Grudem’s disciples.

    • kind of anonymous

      I can’t help you, your problems are too much for me.

      And here we have a demonstration of the fear based, people pleasing cowardice quite a lot of pastors operate out of. Why do these poor quality shepherds not realize that when they say something like this, they are in fact, confessing that they and their grasp of God and His truth, are woefully inadequate. When a so called man of God needs to hedge and tell someone that their problems are too much for them to deal with, they are admitting that their brand of faith is a convenient thing, for their own purposes and not God. They are “playing church” and are not really walking with the Spirit. What these selfish shepherds are doing is protecting the status quo; they have a nice comfortable little niche, have established themselves and a following. Success. Don’t ask them to risk such a carnal definition of success for commitment to a higher cause. Why, that would be, uh, too much. So he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of divorce, but apparently rape and porn don`t bother him. Wow. WOW. Porn use, according to Jesus, IS adultery, especially when its habitually and intentionally sought out and unrepentant.

      • Lea

        To me, when these men say that it is beyond their abilities, what they mean is that they cannot fix the husband and cannot recommend divorce to the wife.

        Which is ultimately where all of this advice leads. You cannot fix the man and you do not want the woman to leave. Which is why it fails. Every time.

      • Stronger Now

        Honestly, it seems to me that when a pastor finds himself “in over his head” like that, he is obligated to search high and low until he finds someone who CAN help. Even if that means turning to secular counselors. Why wouldn’t they?

        I’ve just finished reading through the Old Testament again and this time I was struck by how often the Lord reveals his heart for the widow and the orphan, the helpless and the outcast. It’s not just an OT theme, either, as it is reiterated in the NT.

        Clearly this is not the heart of today’s church when that orphan and widow are victims of abuse from within their congregation.

      • Hi Stronger Now,
        I love the Old Testament! So many riches in it.

        If you haven’t yet looked at my YouTube presentation on The Levite’s Concubine, you might like to check it out. 🙂

      • Lea

        Even if that means turning to secular counselors. Why wouldn’t they?

        Because a secular counselor would recommend divorce. They have NO answer when their easy answers fail.

  8. Sasanka

    Wow, just wow….

    The whole table makes absolutely no sense in the light of what abuse is. It would only work on the premise of two hearts connected firmly to Jesus like KOA said above. Mr. Grudem does not understand that abuser is not interested in partnership but dictatorship, not in reciprocity or mutuality, only in exploitation. No mutual equal respect, only ownership. In his mind it is not two people, only one supreme being and a possession, tool, appliance. It is not two Christians only a wolf and a sheep. Predator and prey. So abusive individual cannot be worked with, no matter what rules you establish. God’s or human. They do not desire to please God, do not have good will to others, and will not cooperate. It is like trying to dance with a tree. Let’s try these steps, women! Or maybe faster! A little to the left or right! That might move the tree! How about on top of the head round and round the trunk!

    Sadly, Mr. Grudem has absolutely no idea what he is saying. Or worse yet, he has bad intentions. I understand that the Lord has a system of leadership established and also accountability for the ones in leadership. Even the world recognizes that. And Lea addressed the nonsense of ‘passivity’ of women above. A woman cannot ‘win’ in this trap anyhow you look at it! I constantly see that our God in his wisdom ALWAYS provides real life solutions and examples for the occurrence of evil, abuse, and covenant breaking. The modern day Pharisees do not, they just offer a lip service to create a plausible deniability for themselves. Then they go on feeding on the sheep.

    Let’s have a look at the ‘wimp’ and ‘usurper’ idea. The husband is not a ‘wimp’ (a very poor choice of word, by the way). He is actually an evil exploiter and coercive controller. In other words, a very aggressive person, not wimpy one at all. Would you call a wolf a wimp? Hardly. He is not taking responsibility for his part of the marriage covenant / contract out of aggression. For example, he is not working / providing at all and the family struggles. Sounds passive…wimpy? Oh no, it is very active, aggressive and calculated.

    And guess what, naive Mr. Grudem, full of pretty sounding religious platitudes, the bills still need to be paid, people still need to eat…So the wife ‘usurps’ control? Wow. Thank you very much for that one. No, she is livid at the abuser righteously, AND has to pick up his slack too! She does not want to ‘usurp’ his part at all, in any shape or form! (By the way, I feel that Mr. Grudem is referring to the ‘good old boys perks and privilege’ usurping, no so much the hard work of real servant leadership usurping, like fulfilling one’s responsibilities). The wife is FORCED to take up his responsibilities in addition to hers or / and suffer with the kids. And that’s just one small example. The attitude affects everything in marriage hence the verbal, sexual, emotional, spiritual abuse…Trust me, she has no desire to ‘usurp’ anything. She is up to her eyeballs in her own work / responsibilities in the most physically, legally and spiritually binding (therefore vulnerable) union on this earth. And with her young! So she has to compensate for his abdication of leadership to survive! And she fights him back because she is a psychologically healthy individual who recognizes that something is terribly, terribly wrong here! Not because she wants to ‘usurp’ anything.

    In the abuser logic, the two people do not, and cannot have equal value, until the abuser stops seeing themselves as god, and recognizes God, Mr. Grudem.
    Why don’t you try to walk on broken legs, or drive with only three wheels….joyfully and intelligently, please!

    Sorry for the rant, folks, this still triggers me so very badly sometimes.

    • Anonymous

      …the bills still need to be paid, people still need to eat…

      When the dust had settled from our foreclosure and God started waking me up to what my husband and some of my children were, I heartbreakingly realized that all the work I had done in keeping us afloat financially, spiritually, emotionally etc. in the past, would never be remembered by anyone. I knew it would only be the foreclosure that people would think of, and that they’d blame me even though I had begged my husband not to buy that home and brand new car (within one week of each other) but he insisted that we could afford it and that if we couldn’t, it was because I was bad with money.

      We had come back from an overseas assignment with an 850 credit score. (At the time I didn’t realize what this meant–how valuable this was to have–and my husband knew that and took advantage of my ignorance.) I was the one who had paid the bills on time and made sure the kids and husband had their extra curricular activities budgeted for. I had sacrificed my education so that we could enjoy some of the things that an overseas assignment allowed us, as I didn’t want my kids to live in constant fear of not having enough money. (I’d grown up with this real fear, and it had paralyzed me.) I had no idea that by my trying to make things easier on my family all they saw was that we COULD afford to do many things and in their eyes (distorted by my husbands lies) they thought I was actually holding out on them–that I was secretly stashing money away or wasting it.

      It’s been over a decade now and we once again have a good credit score but what God taught me in this time is far more valuable. That evil is real and that some people are 100 percent evil. They are not fixable nor do they think that anything is wrong with them. If I hadn’t insisted on getting out from that nightmare of a house we would also have gone bankrupt. What I have learned will not be forgotten.

      But what has my psychopathic husband learned? My psychopathic children? Nothing. They still believe that I was the one who put us into debt and that I should’ve done more. My husband takes the wisdom I speak out loud and says to the children and other people that this is HIS wisdom. He gives me no credit for getting the 850 credit score we had initially, and also gives me no credit that due to my sacrificing and careful ways, we are once again out of debt with a good credit score.

      So I get it Sasanka, that many of us are trying to pay the bills while treating our children with love but nobody sees how much we give up to keep it all going and if we are successful in it–if we appear to have enough money for food or extras–we get even LESS acknowledgement for our beautiful hearts and our loving sacrifices. And on top of that we get blamed for any problems and are taken for granted and dumped on. Evil!

  9. NutMeg

    Oh look. More charts I was given at Bible college. Yup it was DRILLED into us that a man is either a wimp, loving head, or tyrant. And a woman is either a doormat, perfect Barbie doll wife, or a usurper. And they made sure we knew that most woman were usually usurpers which is why most men in society were wimps. This tiny little chart could fix all of America’s problems of people would just memorize it like we had to. Yes if only everyone in America could come to love the chart like we would than we could once again take our rightful place as the best country in the world and the only country inspired by God himself. Oh the divine, everlasting wisdom from the little chart could save us all! Love the chart. Worship the chart. Serve the chart…

    • Nutmeg, I found your comment so poignant.
      Thank you.

    • Kay

      Yes, NutMeg, you put your finger right on it. My current pastor preached a series of sermons on the Seven Pillars of American [America]. Two of the pillars were feminine submission and modesty in women. The gist of the whole series was that if women would just behave themselves, then American [America] would be restored! It was a very one-sided sermon, and it made me realize how many times I have listened to such a sermon in my life. I called my pastor up thinking we could have a rational conversation. He responded by dominating me with his voice. He effectively silenced me by shouting over the top of me. I resorted to communicating with him via email and posting comments on Facebook. My comments weren’t aimed at him, but at his doctrine. I didn’t give up because I am not going to give up my church. Other worse things happened, but finally, through conversations with his wife, I was able to get through to him somewhat. Not surprisingly, his own daughter has been divorced twice because of domestic violence. I fully understand why.

      • NutMeg

        That’s so annoying! I’ve heard so many sermons like that too! I’m sick of people mixing nationalism with the Bible. Especially when woman are blamed for the decline of the country. American women weren’t even allowed to vote until the 1920s or so. The country had plenty of problems before we had a voice. But somehow it’s our fault.

        I really think these men just feel threatened. They blame things on us and want to go back to before we had a voice so they can feel like “men” (whatever that means) and use the Bible to state their case. It’s genius really. If they tried to use any other platform we would see though it and call out their sexism for what it is. But they took God and twisted His Word. And obviously there are Bible verses that are difficult to understand. That make it seem like women are meant to submit, get married and have kids. So they take advantage of that to trick us. And whenever we question them they just tell us that “Christians are suppose to be different than the world is. So even if this seems like sexism it isn’t. God always said the world wouldn’t understand.” And usually it works. It’s such a clever trap I’m not entirely sure it isn’t from Satan himself.

  10. LH

    StrongerNow, you described it so well what it’s like when a woman in an abusive relationship has her own opinion:

    At first the husband may pretend to listen to her point of view, then simply ignore it when making the decisions, harming her and the rest of the family in the process. Eventually, though, it comes to the point where his most absurd statements or ideas MUST be agreed with OR ELSE. One cannot even say “mmm-hmm” or decline to comment, one is required to enthusiastically agree, even though he is being ridiculous or dangerous. If the expected agreement fails to meet his ears, a tantrum or worse will ensue. Grudem’s chart calls this an error of passivity on the part of a woman who simply needs to protect herself and her children from her husband’s rage. Victim blaming, plain and simple. She knows from painful experience that it’s dangerous to have an opinion of her own.

    I am soooooooo thankful I no longer have to live with that!!

  11. Anonymous

    Martin Luther lived from 10 November 1483 to 18 February 1546–several hundred years ago–but look at what he had to say about some marriages.

    This comes from the GEMS section of this website GEMS — Great Quotes

    Martin Luther said about marriages where one spouse believes they are entitled to mistreat the other spouse:
    “. . . Sometimes there is no hope for improvement, or the reconciliation of the guilty one and his restoration to good graces is followed only by his abuse of this kindness. He persists in his flagrant and loose behavior and takes it for granted that he is entitled to be spared and forgiven. I would not advise or prescribe mercy for a person like that; rather I would help to have such a person flogged or jailed. For one oversight is still pardonable, but a sin that takes mercy and forgiveness for granted is intolerable.” [Luther, M. (1999, c1956). Vol. 21: Luther’s works, vol. 21 : The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (21:92). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House]”

    Shouldn’t we as a Christian society be FURTHER along in our understanding of marriage and abuse? After all, if Martin Luther, who was battling so many demons and humans alike and who sometimes seems by his writings to devalue females, could still come to this conclusion and understanding–shouldn’t we have been BUILDING on this rather than burying it under a load of lies? I’m just saying…

  12. KayE

    Or her husband becomes verbally or physically abusive, and she never objects to him and never seeks church discipline or civil governmental intervention to bring about an end to the abuse

    —according to Wayne Grudem that is an error of passivity on the part of the wife.

    No, it’s wisdom. There can be devastatingly harmful consequences for a woman who discloses abuse to church leaders. And in fact, it seems to be the rule.

    • TruthSerum

      Women have been brutally beaten or killed by this very thing.

    • Kay

      Disclosing abuse to church leaders is very, very, very difficult. In my case, my husband made allies with all of our pastors and slandered my name horribly; and he wasn’t even a member of the church nor did he attend regularly. When he did attend, he would come in just for the sermon, sleep during the whole thing, and then quickly leave afterwards. But they believed him, tried to counsel him on how to deal with his wayward wife, and never once did they consult me, a dedicated and contributing member of the church. For my husband, it was simply a matter of taking away my power and support. I have learned to aggressively stand up for myself and to aggressively confront. My other option is to lose everything that I care about. It’s not a comfortable life, but it’s better than being a victim.

  13. TruthSerum

    In this era of entitlement and narcissism, women often do not know the person they married until they are in it. Staying with someone just because they are married, yet enduring all kinds of abuse, whether it stems from a disorder or is disease related, is absolute nonsense and a pure detriment to the neuro typical spouse. Marriage was never meant to enslave anyone, for any reason.

  14. Gothard Survivor

    It doesn’t really matter what the woman does–she is always responsible for a marriage failure if it occurs. It is a lose-lose no matter what you do and you don’t even have a voice usually. I think most women in these situations try both sides and everything in between to make it work. It still amazes me that they can say a man is the head–which would be the responsible party–and yet it is the woman’s fault if it doesn’t work.

    • Anonymous

      So TRUE!

  15. More evidence that Wayne Grudem is a double-minded man:
    He recently lied that he only just found out about Donald Trump’s immorality with women. Here is the evidence: Is Wayne Grudem lying about not knowing Donald Trump’s past? Watch the video [Internet Archive link]

    Also see my this comment of mine on another of my posts about Grudem: Wayne Grudem & CBMW don’t seem interested in reducing domestic abuse

    • StandsWithAFist

      The more they talk, the more they reveal….about themselves. It’s really quite disingenuous.

  16. whateverwedream

    These points made, in fact, occurred in my case. All that Grudem suggested was suggested through my leadership and one counselor he recommended.

    After 20+ years with a bipolar yet unmedicated man, I now realize, the emotional, verbal, and financial abuse turned physical to my children then finally me. What occurred to my kids happened unbeknownst to me for several years until I witnessed an instance of clear physical abuse. At that point, I insisted he get professional help otherwise I would call the police the next time it happened. He attempted to take my life that night. I thank God he didn’t finish the job, and when he released me, I immediately walked over to my phone and dialed 911.

    That being my background, all the points in this article then occurred in my situation, pastoral and counselor pressure to reconcile so I understand most all your objections… except ‘extensive prayer’ that helped me go from victim to overcomer. After submitting to God and much prayer to change the mind of my leadership, I would not bend to pressure for ‘couples’ counseling because I did not have peace. I pursued full court and legal intervention and was informed by the police officer that I gave my report so that my state may pick up grievance charges against my husband.

    The question now is once all steps have been taken for securing myself and my children, I feel no shame in divorce but can’t find grounds to remarry so why isn’t legal separation a viable option. I have full faith IF God wants me to remarry the right person, then my husband will become unfaithful, pass away, or whatever means God chooses to release me with. In the meantime, I said wedding vows to God as my only true and loving husband at this time.

    • Thank you so much, whateverwedream, for your comment!

      The ‘extensive prayer’ you did — it sounds like it helped you become stronger in the Lord and more determined to maintain righteous boundaries. Am I right?

      When Grudem and his ilk suggest extensive prayer, I’m sure they don’t have that in mind. They’d be expecting the woman to pray for her abuser to change.

      I would be keen to hear more about how you prayed and what that was like for you. 🙂 I think it would help others here. I know that your comment above helped me. 🙂

      You asked about remarriage. I suggest you go to our FAQs and look for the item What about divorce? Click on that and you will find a list of links which will help you explore that question.

  17. leaningonhope

    Interesting. The church at which I am a member is founded on the principles of Wayne Grudem and the church’s foundational teachings are based on his book, Systematic Theology. Their male / female relationship philosophy is complementarian and they use the ESV Bible. Hmm.

    My pastor stated in his sermon this morning, in reference to the body of Christ and all the gifts and talents represented in it, that the whole is more important than the parts that make it up. For the glory of God. I recounted in my mind the many places I’ve read that men hold up the title of marriage as more important than the individuals in it, and how God loves the person — the PERSON — more than the title of that person. It made me sad to think how that statement may have made some feel unimportant or insignificant, that were sitting in the congregation. I wholly disagree with that statement.

    I hope I’m making sense here.

    • Yes you are making sense!

      And that church would probably be very dangerous for women who come forward reporting domestic abuse.

      No wonder you are having so many people making hurtful victim-blaming statements to you!

      You might like to dig in to all our posts about Wayne Grudem. Here is the tag: Wayne Grudem


  1. How Wayne Grudem fits his ideas on authority/submission with his thoughts on domestic abuse — A Cry For Justice – GBFSV SPIRITUAL ABUSE VICTIMS' RECOVERY
  2. How Fellowship Memphis, Fellowship Associates, The Gospel Coalition, CBMW, Acts 29 and the Duggars Proved that Complementarianism Will Not Stop Abuse | The Wartburg Watch 2016

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