A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — Philippians 4:8 through the lens of Abuse

[June 21, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  (Philippians 4:8  ESV)


Finally, brothers, whatever is:

True — Revealing truth, exposing lies, false doctrine, and hypocrisy.

Honorable — Staying the course, not backing down, not being swayed through intimidation. Not by abusers, not by their enablers. Protecting the innocent and vulnerable. Standing up to bullies. Choosing not to remain naive. Choosing instead to bear the reproach of the oppressed, and all of its discomfort.

Just — Recognizing what is just and what is unjust, and crying out for justice.

Pure — Seeing those who have been abused and manipulated as God sees them. Through the pure lens of empathy and compassion, not the muddled lens of tradition and bias.

Lovely — Creating a safe place for victims, and sharing the burdens of hurting souls.

Commendable — Giving the downtrodden a voice, shouting it from the rooftops.

Excellent — Biblical studies (in context).

Worthy of Praise — Things which are done with the heart of Christ are worthy of praise.

I believe all of the above fits that.
(ACFJ commenter – Randy Stephenson)

….think about these things.

Adapted from our GEMS page….

[June 21, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to June 21, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to June 21, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to June 21, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 21, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]



  1. Rebecca Davis

    So, have you ever heard Philippians 4:8 used as a tool of spiritual abuse?

    “You keep thinking about the abuse (in the form of flashbacks and nightmares, though the term ‘flashback’ isn’t mentioned), so that means you aren’t thinking on things that are lovely. This is sin, and you need to repent of it. After all, hot water causes what is inside the tea bag to come out of the tea bag.”

    This is the kind of counseling that has consistently been given to abuse survivors at Bob Jones University and related fundamentalism.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • E

      Yes, that sort of shallow, callous counseling denies that abuse has happened, and is happening, and is not just one event at some point in time past, but has ongoing ramifications rippling through minds and bodies.

      If we can take small, mini-breaks, though, in our times of dealing with the mind-crushing aspects of abuse fallout, and focus on something purely pleasant that has no baggage (a lovely scenic photo, a song, a soothing hot bath or cup of tea, a video, a visit to the library just walking up and down the aisle looking at titles because nothing looks interesting enough to read, whatever it may be for a sufferer), it gives our minds a tiny healing rest without denying the reality of abuse.

      • Hi, E, I edited your screen name before publishing this comment. It looked like you have given your full real name, which may not be safe for you to do on this blog.

  2. Lea

    Just — Recognizing what is just and what is unjust, and crying out for justice.


    I love this way of looking at this verse. I think in general it is good to think on good things (if easier said than done when things are going wrong) but like many things in the Bible there is a time when you need to think on all the lovely things, and a time when you need to weep and cry. You might need to think about what is just and seek it actively.

  3. Anewanon

    Thank you!

  4. Rosie

    Thank you for posting clarification on Philippians 4:8.

    Oh boy! This verse, among others, was hurled at me when I’d attempt to share what was going on in my home with my “Christian mentors.” They would shut me down, then encourage me to ignore (deny) there was a problem at all. As to say if I could just think positively enough, then POOF!, my situation would magically improve. If I would just submit more, coddle more, cater more….you all know the drill. The cookie-cutter formula doesn’t work for real life.

    Turns out they were full of bologna. When I began living in reality & became equipped to recognize the stages of the cycle & adjust what I could control, things began to improve. When I quit getting wrapped up in his drama & I quit fueling the cycle, it lost steam. I quit believing his lies. I set some boundaries. I quit supporting dysfunction.

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