A Cry For Justice

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

Does the Bible Command us to “Respect no matter what”?

UPDATE  Sept 2021:  Barbara Roberts has come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches.  He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


However, let each one of you love his wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5:33)

Recently we received the following excellent email and question from a reader. This is what she wrote:

I’m emailing you because I’ve been wondering a lot lately about what the opinion of the team at ACFJ is about what Ephesians 5:33 means when it says that wives are to respect their husbands. Because on every single post and sermon about this verse [which she has heard or read elsewhere] people say that wives are to unconditionally respect their husbands — even when their husbands don’t deserve it. At all. Even if their husband was literally Hitler, they need to respect them — they’ll say that it doesn’t mean respecting their actions/decisions, necessarily, but rather respecting them as a person. And they top it off by making some remark about how husbands are supposed to unconditionally love their wives, and how the verse doesn’t attach any conditions to the command and that’s how we know that the love and respect is meant to be unconditional.

But while I can’t particularly fault their exegesis — it’s true, there are no conditions attached to those commands… it always strikes me as absurd, dangerous, and unbiblical, although I can never entirely articulate why. I mean, sure, let’s accept the premise that Ephesians 5:33 means that wives must unconditionally respect their husbands as people, even if they don’t always respect their actions or choices. Here’s what is never discussed: doesn’t the bible also say that we will know them by their fruit? In other words, is there really a difference between a man’s actions/decisions and who they are as a person? If there is, what is it? How do we draw that line? After all, a christian’s identity is in Christ, but we still sometimes choose to do sinful things, which presents a contradiction. If there’s not, then what does that imply about the way we ought to be interpreting and living out Ephesians 5:33?

I’m not married, so it isn’t personally relevant to me, yet, but I think it needs to be discussed on ACFJ, especially given how often that verse is used to club women over the head and keep them in abusive relationships. If you haven’t already posted on this subject (I looked, but I suppose could have missed it), I hope you will, because I think your readers, and Christianity at large, could benefit greatly from a more discerning look at this incredibly common idea.

First, let’s deal with the issue of the identity of a true Christian, then we will address the meat of her question about this “respect” thing.

The identity of the true Christian

Christians in this present life still sin. Anyone claiming to have arrived at perfect sanctification just blew it by making that claim! However, a Christian is not a sinner in the essence of his or her new identity in Jesus Christ. If you will look over Romans 8 for instance, or peruse through 1 John, or consider Galatians 5:16ff, you will see this. A Christian is a new creation who loves God, loves His Word, and loves Christ’s people. A Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God who constantly leads him or her into God’s will, and who immediately brings the believer under conviction leading to repentance when we sin. NONE of these dynamics are present in the unconverted heart. That heart hates God, is hostile to God’s Law, and is unable to obey that Law.

So, a regenerate person IS a child of God, not a sinner. (Take the challenge by the way of trying to find anywhere in Scripture where a Christian is clearly called a “sinner”). The fruit of the Christian’s life is good. The course he travels is righteousness and his life evidences that. So while the Christian sometimes sins, his/her identity is not defined by the flesh, but by the Spirit of God who has birthed them, who gives them new life, and who leads them step by step in righteousness. Thus the repeated message of the New Testament is, “Christian, BE WHO YOU ARE!”

“There are no conditions attached to the command” — is that good exegesis?

The teachers who say “Ephesians 5:33 doesn’t attach any conditions to the command, so the command to respect and love must be unconditional,” are making a significant error in their exegesis. They are arguing from silence. It is true that Ephesians 5:33 does not give conditions; but the Bible overall is not silent about conditions pertaining to respect and obedience. In fact, there are lots of places in the Bible which point to conditions in which it is wrong to respect or obey someone.

We will address several examples below. But for now, let’s just recall that when the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain, when the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us,” God holds them in derision.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision. (Ps 2:4)

The Hebrew word there means mock, deride, ridicule. God laughs derisively at those who proudly defy him. A far cry from showing them respect!

Whenever you hear an argument from silence, weigh it carefully. Many arguments from silence are very flimsy, and quite often they are downright distortions. Over-reaches of the text. Or a bee-in-the-bonnet of some axe-grinder.

Unconditional Respect?

Scripture, including this passage of Ephesians 5:33, does not teach “unconditional respect.” It does not teach that we are to respect people (usually those with some kind of authority such as the king or a father or mother, etc) no matter what.

The claim that the Bible does teach unconditional respect is repeatedly used by ignorant people or by wicked people seeking to control us for evil purposes. Why do wicked people make this claim? Because what they really mean by “respect” is you must do what they say — you must obey the one you ought to respect. It is true that respect and obedience really cannot be separated. Children are to honor (respect) their parents – ie, obey them. Citizens are to honor the king – ie, obey them. But unconditionally? NO! This false “unconditional respect and obey” teaching brings people who want to please God into horrible, horrible bondage to evil people.

Consider Jesus’ example and the example of other saints in Scripture like Paul or Peter. NOTICE HOW OFTEN THEY ARE SPEAKING OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS, THE CLERGY, THE PASTORS OF THEIR DAY:

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:12-14)

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Matthew 23:13)

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29)

The very same Spirit of God who inspired Hebrews 13:17—

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

… also inspired Hebrews 13:7 which points out that true leaders are those who speak to us the word of God—

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

Why are we to consider the outcome of the leaders’ way of life? Because we are to assess their godliness by their fruit. We are to be discerning. Is their teaching lining up with the whole counsel of scripture. Is the fruit of their lives rotten? If if the leaders are prideful, if they manipulate the the flock for their own selfish gain, then we are right NOT to imitate them; we are wise to neither follow nor obey them.

And that very same God who inspired Hebrews 13 also spoke in this manner of some people who held leadership positions:

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. (Gal 6:12-13)

These principles apply directly to any scenario in life where normally, all else being equal, we are to show respect for someone. Rulers, pastors, husbands, parents, etc. That respect is NOT unconditional. And here is a vital point then when it comes to how we interpret the Bible:

We must not make a particular verse into a universal, “always true no matter what principle” when that Scripture was never given to function in such a manner.

The short path to heresy is not in denying biblical teaching. The short path to heresy is just in affirming part of biblical teaching. Honing in on a verse, honing in on an idea, and trying to let that be the be all and end all of your theology. But the orthodox fathers said no no no, we can’t do that! Scripture can’t function as our supreme authority unless it’s the total message of scripture that’s our authority.
— Dr Scott Swain, ~ 21 minutes into his talk God from God, Light from Light: Retrieving the Doctrine of Eternal Generation.

This error happens constantly. It is the result of failing to consider the Genesis to Revelation context of a given passage [This is why I so much appreciate works on Biblical Theology such at those by G.K. Beale]. The overall context of Scripture, the consideration of other passages that cast light upon the passage we are studying, is VITAL. So when Peter for instance says:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1Peter 3:1-2)

…we must ALSO be disciplined in our study methods to stop for a moment and think. “Let’s see, hmmm, Peter. Wait a minute. Peter, aren’t you the same Peter who announced to Sapphira that she was also guilty and would die just as her husband Ananias did because she went along with her husband’s scheme?” So if that is true, then Peter must NOT mean that a wife is to obey and respect her husband NO MATTER WHAT.

And isn’t Peter, who said —

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (1Peter 2:13-14)

…ALSO the same Apostle who said, “we must obey God rather than men”? Yes! Same guy!

Do you see? When preachers and authors and individual Christians hook onto some Scripture like Ephesians 5:33 and jerk it out of the Bible to carry around and use like some universal “fits every lock” skeleton key, they are perverting and twisting the Word of God. And that twisting of Scripture ALWAYS leads to spiritual harm and bondage. ALWAYS.

The fact is, as we write and teach so often here at ACFJ, our counsel to abuse victims is “that man is Nabal, a fool. He is an evil man who has never kept his marriage covenant with you and never intended to. You have every right to divorce him and walk into freedom. Respect him? Nope. An abuser is anything but a respectable person.”


NOTE: A followup post will be published soon about how this false “unconditional respect / love / obedience” business produces the Code of Silence About Evil that is so prevalent in the churches today and which is enabling abuse of all kinds.


This post was the basis of Pastor Crippen’s Sunday morning sermon on Dec 11, 2016.  Audio and PDF links of his sermon can be found here.


Further reading

Does Unconditional Love Even Exist?

“Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs is a dangerous book. One-star review by Avid Reader

Marriage Vows: What Are We Really Vowing to Do?

The Perspicuity (lucidity) of Scripture, and How Some put a Grille on the View

If you Are a Christian, then You Practice Hatred. Really!


  1. twbtc

    Today’s post will be Pastor Crippen’s Sunday morning sermon at Christ Reformation Church.

    The service will broadcast live through sermonaudio.com at 10:30 (PT). We encourage all who can to listen!

    After the service an audio link of the sermon and the sermon’s PDF will also be put up at sermonaudio.com and we will put a link in today’s post as well.


    • UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      TWBTC, as far as I know, Jeff’s church is no longer broadcasting its services live, but each week’s sermon can be downloaded later from that link.

      • twbtc

        Thanks for that update, Barb!

  2. Avid Reader

    Amen! This is so important – thank you!

    Just a note:

    Hebrews 13:17 in the KJV translates the Greek word “peitho” as “obey” your leaders.

    However, Strong’s Concordance describes that same Greek word (G3982) as
    “to convince by argument”

    G3982 is translated over EIGHT other times in the NT as “persuaded”

    Matthew 27:20 “Chief priests persuaded the multitude”

    Acts 19:26 “Paul has persuaded”

    Romans 14:14 “I am persuaded by the Lord Jesus”

    Romans 15:14 “I am persuaded by you, my brethren”

    2 Timothy 1:12 “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded”

    Hebrews 13:17 (JUB) “Listen to your pastors, and do not resist them, for they watch for your souls as those that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.”

    —just some thoughts—

    • Avid Reader

      On second thought, the way the JUB version translates it as “do not resist them” doesn’t accurately reflect what Paul wrote in the Greek about “yielding” to the leadership which hopefully more Bible translations will reflect so there is a better understanding of Hebrews 13:17.

      • Not wanting to seem like I’m admonishing anyone here, but while I have not studied biblical Greek, I do know that there can be dangers in putting too much emphasis on word studies. Every word needs to be translated in its context. Looking at how translators have rendered that word in other contexts can sometimes lead one to mistaken conclusions. So while looking up a word in Strongs Concordance or the Blue Letter Bible can be helpful, it’s wise to be cautious about what you uncover from a simple word study. Hope this makes sense. Carson’s book Exegetical Fallacies has a chapter which explains this.

  3. under the waterfall

    I think David modeled what this ought to look like in reality in how he dealt with King Saul. Maybe it should be said that we are not called to unconditional stupidity or blindness. David knew God had put Saul in place as king and that God was capable of removing him. So he did not speak against the king out of respect for God, did not take opportunity to avenge himself or kill the king though he could have. He also didn’t put himself in Saul’s hands when the king commanded him to come forth. He didn’t continue hanging around the palace either. David knew he would be seized and that the king’s motives towards him were untrustworthy. There was no conflict between trusting and honoring God and authority and not trusting or submitting to Saul when it would cause him danger.

    I had a manipulative dishonest pastor demand we come to a meeting with him and another person with whom we had conflict. The conflict was directly caused by his underhanded manoeuvering and refusal to admit he in fact, was responsible for the underpinnings of the whole thing. I knew that the pastor would spin the meeting so that all the blame landed on me, because I had confronted him on several occasions about abusive and unjust behaviour towards me. I refused to go but felt really guilty because I had been taught, OVER AND OVER again that we must obey our leaders and submit to their authority. I felt as if I were the worst, most rebellious and ungodly person for refusing to go. But I knew what would happen if I did. Just then, God brought this very scripture to mind about David refusing to hand himself over to Saul. Instant relief!

    • Anonymous

      Your last paragraph explaining how you refused to attend a meeting where you knew you’d be lambasted, shows wisdom on your part and also how wrong teaching can cause people with a conscience such pain.

      When I first started to do things like this it was like pulling my fingernails off with pliers. It felt almost physically painful to NOT engage with evil ones and to not “take responsibility for my own actions.” (This is what they TOLD me I was doing when I refused to abide by the standards of men that had been forced upon me.)

      But as time went by and I refused to play anymore with evil abusers, I realized that the world still went on, and lo and behold when people like me (with a conscience and heart for the Lord) stopped engaging with them and refused to even be around them, they were left to be seen for what they were–game players who needed God’s people to play against, in order to look normal. They count on us standing up to them because they know we want to do the right thing. And while we are doing this with the right heart and mind, they are playing with us in order to appear more wise and learned in the ways of the Lord, than we are.

      Recently I’ve been learning about different medications and their various interactions with other drugs and the how they are metabolized in the body. One of the rules for giving beta blockers is to not give them to asthmatics or diabetics because they will MASK THE SYMPTOMS of these diseases thus the warning signs that show us when our blood sugar is too low for example, aren’t there and we may end up seriously sick or even dead. It’s similar to what happens when we who truly belong to Jesus engage in “discussions” with evil abusers in the church–we allow them to MASK their true nature and end up propping them up when all the while, they are putting the blame on us. This can cause us and other true Christians to become very sick emotionally and spiritually.

      We are NOT SUPPOSED TO COVER FOR EVIL ONES by denying that some people are evil abusers–we are supposed to have nothing to do with them and even in some situations–hand them over to Satan “…for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”

      Thank you!

      • under the waterfall

        Wow Anonymous, I am finding out the hard way that mistaken ideas of mercy and grace do not help as you have described. Your description of it being like pulling your own fingernails off with pliers is so very accurate. I have a hard time abandoning anyone even though they have repeatedly left me feeling abandoned and actually being abandoned, numerous times. I have found out the hard way that it doesn’t have to be overt, severe abuse or other blatantly heinous forms of sin, for it to have harmful effects if we cover for it.

        I am having to think about how my upbringing trained me to feel sorry for my father, take emotional responsibility for him and rescue him, and even cover for him, is causing me major problems in my life right now. I went from a very traumatic and abusive background at the hands of a woman hating, sex addicted, drug and alcohol father, to a few years later, a church environment in which Gothardism was hailed as solid biblical teaching, as well as attending a church school that was heavily patriarchal and very legalistic. Sorting all that is out is quite a challenge. To say I need a miracle is something of an understatement. But I am realizing the same thing as you, that what we think is grace and mercy seems to just feed the monster. It’s half the counsel of God, not the whole counsel. Thanks for your heartfelt and insightful reply.

      • Anonymous

        Under the Waterfall, one of the characteristics of children of alcoholics is loyalty towards people who don’t deserve it. One article listed five characteristics that are certainly applicable to me–my dad was an alcoholic as well.

        1) Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty having fun.
        2) Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy.
        3) Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
        4) Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following through a project from beginning to end.
        5) Adult children of alcoholics feel that they are different from other people.

        When I first saw #4, I didn’t think that applied to me but then I remembered how it was when I lived with my dad. I was so stressed out and he would ridicule me and basically force me to quit projects I was working on and then tell me I never finished anything. But the truth is that HE didn’t WANT me to finish anything so he could call me a quitter or lazy or something. After I left home I was eventually able to be the person God made me to be and I am actually one of those people that will follow through to completion something I’ve signed my name to, even if everyone has given up–if it’s something I CAN complete. I can see how a child living with two alcoholic parents may end up giving all her emotional support to his or her parents, and being unable to learn to take time for herself.

        And these characteristics may be common among children of other character disturbed personalities as well.

        Thanks again!

      • under the waterfall

        Anonymous, couldn`t find the little reply thingy under your comment about ACOA common issues. I can check almost every one of them. Loyal to the point of insanity. Trouble finishing things. I think I get enthused about something and then feel inauthentic or some other whisper from the past comes and undermines me somehow. Sometimes its a kind of spiritually themed thing; like ‘What does having a successful business or raising goats have to do with God’s kingdom and eternity? Shouldn’t you be concentrating on things with eternal value?’ and then whatever it was that I felt a little excitement and happiness about becomes void and wrong, totally invalid and selfish, pointless.

        I can trace some of this to an incident with my father, where he knew that I just loved a specific animal. He cornered me one day and told me that I was sooo selfish that if he took one of my siblings and my favorite critter and stood them side by side and said ‘which one should I kill’, I would say to kill my sibling because that’s just how selfish I was, I would stop at nothing to have that particular animal. Now I have these animals and I cannot enjoy them, the combination of invalidation of my abilities and such a horrible guilt trip that rendered enjoying life the opposite of anything right robs me. My mom’s family regarded the idea of her buying me one as that of giving into a spoiled brat who should have had to earn one by having a job, as they did growing up during the depression. More guilt. Never mind that I was severely traumatized and just having some time and space to be a kid and have some of the therapy this animal could provide, would have been extremely helpful. Seems like my life has been a battle between trying to give myself permission to have things I need or that make me happy, and feeling that those things are impermissible and wrong because they are selfish and sinful, once the Christian aspect got added. Arrrgh.

        I remember once, that I was thinking about going to art school. I have loved to draw since I was very small and got fairly good at it even winning a competition. However, as soon as we got to the campus, and I saw the other people, and their style of work, I suddenly felt like a outlandishly sized square peg trying to fit in a delicate round hole. My insides went cold as ice and I felt terrified and nauseous and any inkling of desire to go in this direction that was probably fairly authentic, just vanished. Like walls went up instantly. Same reaction if I got an A on a test. Two seconds of feeling absolute delight followed by feeling like I wanted to throw up. I asked my Christian friends once why I didn’t have a full range of emotions and it was obvious they didn’t know what to do with that question; it made them uncomfortable and even a bit angry, oddly. Having fun was out of the question for one so frozen solid. So yes, this list is fairly accurate.

      • Anonymous

        Under The Waterfall, yes, I understand how you feel and why. I spent most of my life living like you describe–never feeling like I had a right to just BE alive, or to just do things that I enjoyed. In fact, for most of my life, I didn’t even KNOW what I enjoyed!

        I’ve posted many times on this website about how God tore down my walls by tearing out all the things I’d been told SHOULD be important to me. That IF I were a perfect daughter, IF I were a perfect wife, IF I were this that or the other……THEN I would be rewarded / satisfied / fulfilled / happy / closer to the Lord…whatever.

        God did this incredible thing to me while He was showing me His truth through His word and in my life….He gave me this deep love for something….so deep that I couldn’t deny that this love was real and that it mattered more than anything else had EVER mattered to me…and this deep love consumed my attention to the point that I could no longer focus solely on my husband or children or money or anything other than taking care of myself so that I wouldn’t be physically ill and thus a burden to my children or myself, and that I needed to get my education so that I had a chance to again, not be a burden on others or society.

        God pinned me down with this deep love and because of my severe PTSD I could only focus on X amount of things for X amount of time, so once God whittled my priorities down and I KNEW what mattered (my health and education or I would be useless to everyone) I simply focused on these things. The most incredible thing(s) happened during this time. I stopped playing all the social norm games, stopped arguing with my husband (I refused for a long time to do this as it was a pleasurable thing for him but destroyed me), memorized scripture that had meaning to ME (instead of the many verses I had been told I SHOULD know as a “good” Christian), loved my daughter and prayed with and for her, and simply LOVED. This love God gave me for this thing turned out to be a buffer for all the evil in my life. This deep, deep love was undeniable, even though I tried so hard to be “reasonable” about it, God simply wouldn’t let me go….this deep love for this thing forced me to look at myself and what I was. I was nothing to the world but to God my world was HIM, and HE LOVED ME AS DEEPLY AS HE HAD MADE ME LOVE THIS THING!

        I was in my forties at this time and it was the first time in my life that I was allowed to discover who I was in Jesus. It was also the hardest time of my life because the lies I’d believed had been many and God made sure to leave me with ZERO options or alternatives to the truth He was showing me–so that I could NEVER go back and rest in the lies or deny the truth of His word. And so the pain was unbearable much of the time but because of this unfathomable love He FORCED me to feel–I not only survived but I actually ENJOYED things for the first time in my life! God revealed my heart to me–I had never even known myself prior to this–and God showed me how tender-hearted and loving I was! Lest you think I’m conceited I can assure you that I ABSOLUTELY HATED MYSELF FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE! I DETESTED MYSELF!

        I pray that you’re able to see that your being able to identify why and how you have been harmed by the severe abuse done to you, may actually be God working in your mind and heart so that you are able to put the blame (yes, BLAME) on the shoulders of those who should bear that weight so that you can eventually move on and be the WHOLE person God created you to be. Not a drop of your life is wasted–God will use ALL of it in the most incredible ways–just keep letting Him–let him reveal the truth of the abuse to you so that you can continue to learn about yourself and to love yourself as Jesus loves you. Again, thank you for your posts and responses. I always pray that any wisdom that’s shared here will bless many of God’s little ones–especially those that are unable to comment or who feel like nobody knows the horror taking place in their lives…some of us DO know about it but more importantly GOD knows about it and wants to assure you that you CAN trust Him. You who belong to Him are not alone and you are deeply loved!

      • standsfortruth

        Love this post, and the shared information in the dialogue that follows. So much truth in it. Thank you.

        I just wanted to share that once I saw the full truth of what my abuser was doing to me and realized that a looming divorce was inevitable, I proactively prepared for it in many ways before my ex finally filed and the divorce papers were waiting for me at the post office.

        Three months before he did this, I had a close friend take several of my animals to her house to care for them when he was not there. This was a smart proactive stradegy because it kept him from maliciously and ruthlessly forcing me to sell these animals as divorce asserts. Generally once divorce papers have been recieved by the other party, all marital assets on that property are considered co-owned (until later determined how to be divided).

        So just letting you know this ahead of time so you can get those sentimental things or animals that matter to you- in a safe place ahead of time to keep them out of the future line of fire.

    • Cher

      Waterfall, I appreciate your sharing your experience. I have had the same happen to me. I refused several meetings with a power hungry pastor. He wanted to micro manage mine, my husband’s and my children’s lives. In my brainwashed days I used to call him for everything. He would always put me down and blame me for whatever was going on. I finally stopped attending there altogether and have not heard from anyone except a few people. I don’t think they’ve realized I’m not going back. It’s been about 5 months. It’s been one of the most liberating feelings. If they have realized it they probably also realized I’m not having any more of their crap.

      • under the waterfall

        Usually such churches just tell themselves we are rebellious and aren’t willing to submit to authority or some other self-validating obfuscation. That’s one of the hallmarks of an abusive church, whenever someone leaves, it is always totally their fault if there was any kind of a problem. In a truly biblical genuine church, you will at least sometimes hear the pastor lament that he badly mishandled something or that he was partially at fault, etc. It’s those darn sheep you know!

    • Not Alone

      Boy can I relate to that! I experienced the exact same problem, and because I refused also, I was deemed to be the exact same: a rebellious person who was not submitting to authorities placed by God above me, therefore most probably not truly saved. But I was told over and over again that I must submit to my authority even if I don’t think what they’re doing is right, thereby suffering for Christ’s sake. I was also told I have no right to stand up for myself; that standing up for myself is selfish and self-serving, that it flies in the face of what we as Christians are supposed to be, which is placing others ahead of ourselves, and regarding others as more important (Philippians something…can’t remember exact reference at the moment). And on and on the manipulation went. So deceitful. And it’s so hard to reprogram the brainwashing. Arduous process.

  4. Stronger Now

    Why, oh why, do pastors always use the caveat that we are to respect and be subject to authorities such as government or employers UNLESS it conflicts with God’s Word, but they leave that caveat out when they preach about wives and children submitting to husband / father, or church members submitting to pastors / leaders?

    Never mind, I already know the answer.

  5. BetterEquipped

    Jeff Crippen & Barbara Roberts – OUTSTANDING ARTICLE!!

  6. under the waterfall

    Hmm. I wonder, if respect could properly mean ‘I call you and challenge you to turn towards God and let Him change you into who you were meant to be, a man made in His image properly representing Him and being the man of honor and integrity you were made for’. And possibly even further, ‘though you choose to prefer to agree with satan’s lies right now, I will NOT join you in agreeing with the evil one, but rather with God.’ Honor always points to something higher than ourselves, so possibly this might be a right way to think about what it could mean to respect a husband who is refusing to believe God and is acting like the devil?

    We certainly don’t respect someone when we say ‘Okay, fine with me if you go to hell in handbasket, I agree with the lies you are believing and your subsequent self assessment demonstrated by your actions, that you are worthless scum and not meant for anything better than to live like an unreasoning beast’. Respect has value attached to it and is a way of showing value. It can`t possibly mean something like ‘Okay Nabal, I will respect you in a way that affirms that being a Nabal is just fine and shows that I think all is well and there is nothing wrong with your drunkenness and abuse of me and of others and your utter lack of respect for God and man and self.’

  7. Rosie

    I don’t know. This might be a long shot. Recently I’ve been thinking about how I can follow this command. I do not respect my husband. What can I do to see to it that I’m respecting my husband? I think for me, I need to quit ignoring his disrespectful behavior & start calling him on it. I want to learn how to do my part to hold him accountable for his behavior. In my case, I am not doing much to see to it that I respect my husband. It’s easier for me to overlook a matter in the moment. It becomes harder over the long-term. I know my response is wrong & I want to change it. I’m grateful for ACFJ being a safe place for us to discuss openly without judgment or criticism. I’m glad to be learning & changing.

    • Stronger Now

      Rosie – one thing I realized during my journey was this: treating an adult as though they are not capable of behaving like an adult, is in itself disrespectful. So when I just let everything slide in order to avoid making waves, I was not being respectful of my husband.

      According to HIS definition of “respect” I should have agreed with him all of the time and never challenged anything he said or did. But I saw that in doing this, I was not doing what the Bible commands us to do with fellow believers.

      Since gaining my freedom, I have come to the conclusion that he was never a believer. Still, walking on eggshells around another person, acting as though their destructive, evil behavior is OK, and allowing them to get what they want by coersion and bullying, are not in THEIR best interests, whether they are a believer or not. The law of love calls us to be mindful of the other person’s highest good. This required a lot of thoughtfulness on my part, searching the Scriptures, and looking at my own motives.

      I see “respect” as being a lot like “love” in the sense that they are not always about feelings, but rather about actions. We can’t be commanded to feel respect towards a person who refuses to behave respectably [respectfully?]. But we can treat them with respect rather than disdain and condescension. Talk to them like an adult. Set reasonable boundaries and follow through with consequences.

      Easier said than done, but it does get better with practice.

      • Rosie

        I appreciate what you said Stronger Now. I’m trying to learn how to set boundaries & keep them in place.

    • Anonymous

      Rosie, [in my experience] trying to hold psychopaths accountable will wear you out. …

      Most of us here have been in your position–trying new ways to deal with and live with evil ones. The problem is biblical even though we try to use psychological warfare on them. It’s simply the same old spiritual battle that was started in the garden of Eden and it’s that same old Wiley One known as Satan that we are dealing with….via those who belong to him according to John 8:44. And as Jesus said in John 8:45, “So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!” this is what happens when we (those who truly belong to Jesus) speak truth and walk in truth can expect from evil ones–that they NATURALLY (due to the nature they chose for themselves) don’t believe / understand us.

  8. Anonymous

    This constant debate about showing proper respect to our husbands per Ephesians 5. Showing proper respect to the GODLY husband described in the earlier part of Ephesians 5 (25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, ……”) is not even HARD for us to do because women who truly belong to Jesus WANT / DESIRE to honor their husbands! I did this for DECADES until God revealed that I was the only one working this program. My husband, unbeknownst to me, belonged to his father the devil! Not ONE SINGLE PERSON IN THE CHURCH EVEN ALLUDED TO THIS POSSIBILITY FROM GOD’S WORD–that some people IN THE [visible] CHURCH belong to Satan and you can identify them when they exhibit the NATURE of the evil one.

    Satan is an accuser, slanderer, causes destruction, is the adversary of God (and His children), presents himself as an angel of light but is really only filled with darkness (“But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:23), is a destroyer and anti (against) Christ, a deceiver, an enemy, an evil one, father of lies, lawless one, a liar, man of sin, murderer, is the power of darkness, a roaring lion, son of perdition (in particular, the destruction which consists in the loss of eternal life, eternal misery, perdition, the lot of those excluded from the kingdom of God 684. apóleia), tempter, thief, wicked one–just to list some of the biblical descriptions of the devil. And my husband exhibited most of these traits consistently throughout our marriage. He has never held up his biblical end of the bargain–he has NEVER loved me or anyone else including his children and he belongs to his father the devil.

    Since I am married to one who belongs to the devil…I want to know how the Bible tells me to show proper respect to him. How did Jesus and others show “respect” to the devil? They spoke the truth through God’s word and told him to get away from them!

    Matthew 4:10, Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
    Matthew 16:23, Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

    And Jude 1:9 says:

    But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

    (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) Again, rebuking the devil is how one of the mighty angels showed respect to the him.

    We are supposed to be helped, trained through the truth of the Bible by our church leaders to be knowledgeable about evil people and protected and rescued when we have discovered we married one who belongs to their father the devil. Instead we have VERY FEW PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH EVEN WILLING TO ADMIT THAT THIS IS EVEN A POSSIBLITY, (that evil people exist and are active in the church) and instead we have endless debates about how to defer and show reverence to our “husbands” with zero education on the many other truths in God’s word like testing all the spirits, and allowing the Holy Spirit help us discern.

    Until we address this heinous lack of education on biblical truth, and until we stop focusing on how ONE partner doesn’t appear to be doing their job PERFECTLY, we will never be able to grow in Godly wisdom or walk peacefully with Jesus.

  9. Charis

    I think it’s interesting. Perhaps we have a muddled definition of respect within our culture (or over time). Maybe we have become accustomed to stop reading after the first definition – the traditional one of “admiration, reverence, awe, honor, agreement.” If one keeps reading, the definition shifts to a more appropriate tone; a more somber one of “have due regard for, avoid harming or interfering with, agree to recognize.” I am much more interested in these nuances. I can see these in play with reference to Ps Crippen’s post.

    I recall a phrase I read once about “having respect for the sea.” Having been in a near-drowning episode out in a white-water river event, I now have great respect for the sea and other large bodies of water or fast-moving rivers. I have “due regard” for it and often “avoid interfering with” water’s more powerful course of movement.

    The same can be said for the behaviors and choices of others. Even now, I teach my young son that we “respect each other’s no and yes equally.” We “avoid harming” one another over the word “no” and we “agree to recognize” the equal value of “no” and “yes”…along with the consequences that come with those words – for good or ill – as the responsible persons we are.

    I think this fits well with Ephesians 5 and what Paul was saying. As husbands love their wives (or not)…let the wife (as she observes this love – or not) respect (get out of the way of his natural consequences) his choices / behaviors.

    • Charis this comment of yours is superb. Thank you!

  10. under the waterfall

    I think so too, Charis. Respect cannot be a slavish devotion to a wicked person. It is more God oriented than man oriented. In Jude 1, 8-9 it says:

    Yet in the same way, these dreamers defile their bodies, reject authority, and slander glorious beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he disputed with the devil over the body of Moses, did not presume to bring a slanderous judgment against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

    I find some balance in this verse and perspective.

    I get what you mean about respect for the sea. I had a healthy respect for trains, having witnessed the sheer power and weight of them, being able to flatten a thick coin paper thin; I didn`t share the casual nonchalance of those who, not wanting to walk to the crossing, would duck under the train to get to the beach. All’s well until the thing moves and often they did, simultaneously lurching into sudden motion with the warning horn.

  11. NutMeg

    Because of this website and the support I got here I finally got the courage to leave my husband. He had been emotionally abusive for awhile now. But he crossed the line where I believed he would be violent. I’m out now and trying to get my stuff together. Thanks for the support.

  12. Finding Answers

    (Light airbrushing….)

    Charis commented:

    I think it’s interesting. Perhaps we have a muddled definition of respect within our culture (or over time). Maybe we have become accustomed to stop reading after the first definition – the traditional one of “admiration, reverence, awe, honor, agreement.” If one keeps reading, the definition shifts to a more appropriate tone; a more somber one of “have due regard for, avoid harming or interfering with, agree to recognize.” I am much more interested in these nuances. I can see these in play with reference to Ps Crippen’s post.


    In a recent conversation, I realized a part of our conversation regarding how we address people – such as pastor so-and-so, etc. – could apply to both the secular and non-secular worlds.

    In hindsight, the issue of how we address people – including calling adults Dr. / Mr. / Mrs. / Dean / Bishop, etc. – helped set me up for abuse. (I’m not suggesting using a wholesale, first name basis….)

    Implicit in how we address people is a certain type of respect – or disrespect, as in the case of calling someone names. In many cases, the respect is unwarranted. And, I think, can imply “power over”.

    The idea gave me much to think on, perhaps aiding in the identification of attitudes representing more than “simple” pride and arrogance.

    The original post and the comments generated appear to support the idea, including the reference to “husband”, “wife”, or “Christian”.

    My thoughts on how we address people are ongoing….

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment….

      Crossword puzzles often use the clue “TLC” (for tender loving care), with the clue’s answer being “nurse”.

      Why is it assumed a nurse is a nurse, not a “nurse”? I have encountered more than one who lacked bedside manner, and had a “friend” who was a “nurse”. Not, perhaps a full-fledged abuser, but certainly very abusive in her behaviour to me. She certainly had a sense of entitlement with respect to pay, scheduling, and vacation time. (Well beyond reasonable recompense and rest.)

      I know many nurses are overworked, stretched to the limits by too many patients and too little staff. And not just in hospitals or nursing homes.

      My head swarms with thoughts, many never making it through the tips of my fingers via the keyboard. (My main outlet, given my isolation.) Add in time to process, and I tend to be silent, the conversation / ideas long past completion by the time I have formulated something to write.

      Perhaps an added blessing of the ACFJ blog….it fits my style.

      While I have my concerns about “smart” technology and cyber-security, I am grateful for the information and communication afforded by the basics.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Been there too, as I thought anyone in the caring profession would be lovely (although we always hear of horror stories), as I’ve always found them more than loving and caring on the whole. I know some are strict or firm, but with due cause. That is one of the things I found through up puffs of fog into my situation not so long ago.

        However, as you say they are under immense pressure and stress there is no doubt there, and I’m forever shouting their praises in support. That pressure / stress also threw up a little more fog. In my defence, I know this person is a fantastic carer of others although abrupt in nature and takes no nonsense. This does not mean they are an abuser, if someone has that kind of personality. So after initial dating, I felt they were “ok” to get to know a bit more with spending more time out doing things together seeing places, which I’ve always craved for, minus the heartache and awkward abusive stuff that ruins even the best of days. That’s the way it always was before, so it was a very welcome change. Initially, it seemed that was the case and so things slowly (something new to me) progressed.

        I thought then a relationship with one such person would be very special and at first, it had all the hallmarks to be.

        Then I saw red flags…well, I say saw red flags, perhaps it’s best to say I had an inkling, perhaps that is a red flag more like perhaps a shade of pink or maybe purple in the distance. I was not entirely sure for various reasons I cannot go into here for sake of identity.

        I chose to “think” and observe as time went on with the belief if they appear again or do flash up bright red I’ll run like the wind. That was my intention as no way was I getting into something similar to what has been in my life before. I dare not go down that road. Before, that drove me crazy to a point of almost suicide. I’ve posted before here in ACFJ my song which was a cry of help inside, that jolted me so hard I had to seek a separation order. I felt I just got out of that relationship (which was a long struggle) by the skin of my teeth. No way was I going down the same road again. “No looking back and no turning back”, my motto.

        So as time moved on, I found this relationship did have nice points, but always at some point things were increasingly being controlled and I felt uncomfortable with things done or said. I knew these were the “red” flags of verbal abuse and controlling behaviour all in the guise that I was the problem and that I had “issues” from the past. The problem never was them or their fault. I got hammered regularly in the last few months that I was told I had changed. In actual fact, I had!! I had changed because the pink / purple, whatever colour, flags were in my face bright, danger-clad red!! I was taking a stand amidst a struggle to not be put down again. I guess a power struggle was taking place. There were so many waving at me, I could no longer mistake them. Yet AGAIN I could not just walk away! I had let the emotional bond hold me back from walking. I did not want to lose the lovely things that I did enjoy, and were a welcome refreshment from what I had had before and I did not want to have to go again without those. There was a greater struggle inside me to break free in my heart.

        Unfortunately, by now I was stuck with emotional attachment of some kind, even though I had tried to be aloof in order, if need be, to break away easily. I thought I was in control but I was certainly, most certainly, not which I came to realise. I had let this person step over the threshold of my life and stupidly I had allowed them to become too attached because of my needs and desires.

        Over time I had been sucked in to some extent emotionally (now I see strong targeting including listening carefully to my previous situation and eventually using it as a strong-fashioned weapon for their use) and yet I held serious doubts. Still I let things go until they came under real intense stress and pressure. It came to a head and out spilled a torrent of verbal abuse and power control. I am writing more in the background, but I have not yet devised a way to say things here as it is difficult and I need to be extremely careful for my safety. So I’m trying to pen something better for future here that may help someone, even in turn re-impress things in my own mind and heart. I know some things I hold back perhaps later can be revealed in some other comment that will help further. I hope this comment though, may help someone steer from any other added abusive relationship. It’s all so easy to skip right into another. Out of the frying pan into the fire so to speak. I know some here have found fantastic new partners and I’m delighted you share, as it’s so encouraging there is an afterlife after abuse. Please be wary, I honestly thought I’d all bases covered. You get sucked in so easily. We need to be honed in our side of things with our own tactics, as much as the abuser is with theirs.

        Needless to say, the level of abuse was intense and terrifying to me and felt like I was back hearing things from my wife again. It was enough to make me afraid and I did not know what to do. I turned to Patricia Evans book – The Verbally Abusive Relationship. Get it if you can, it is excellent and really helped. There is a section in it regarding traits and every box was ticked. I re-read things I had been sent in the light of that list and I counted over 70 different abusive things relating to me. I contacted Barb for advice in turmoil. Why we even need to, I do not know, I guess we panic in the mix of things. I guess we just need that second opinion, as if our brain is not working. We know rightly the answer if we are honest, despite the fog at times. That gut instinct gets ignored all too often, yet after my separation until this time I had it well in place and often had run from others. In fact, vehemently chased a few away! Why not this person? Why not this time?

        More-so how daft am I for coming through all I had to allow someone to do this again to me. Those feelings really hurt, and I can honestly say inside I felt like I’d gone back several years, to just before I had eventually after a [shortish] intense struggle broken free from an abusive marriage. Many of the same things were in both relationships. Why do we find ourselves doing this? Why do we find ourselves ignoring the red flags and our gut instinct?

        In my case I overlooked for various reasons. I cannot say some [things] here, as I said before.

        However one main factor in mine was I could see the carer and I loved that when it came my way. Other factors I will list:
        I wanted a normal go slow relationship — tick.
        I wanted a fun, go-places-as-friends-first relationship. No rushing in. No strong bonds quickly. Friends was more important to build something strong. So when I felt they felt the same — tick.

        I had had that before and that I felt after what I was through was best. No jumping straight into bed or long physical encounters that could lead easily to that. I knew there is a massive power in sexual attraction and all that that kind of relationship entails, and it is extremely hard to break when you have been abused and someone gives that closeness and intimacy on a plate, and you have your needs met physically and / or sexually.

        Not every abuser uses a kind of rape to abuse. I know in my life seduction and sexuality was used very powerfully to hold me in relationships both abusive and non-abusive. I have been heavily abused, and yet a few days later been heavily seduced as part of the “keeping” in order to control.

        It is these things we need to brush up on as part of our personalities (we are all different and various traits just tick our boxes), but having come through abuse we need to realise our, for want of [a] word “weak” areas and make them strong. I don’t believe we need it can change our personalities after all that is God’s unique thing about us. We can though, learn to be stronger with the way we are and “prone zones” that an abuser may spot and just use that may or may not flag anything up. Areas that perhaps got us targeted. Our kindness or love, our generosity, our care are the usual things, but there are many factors we find attractive in others and the abuser can change their clothing to suit. There is various kinds of sheep clothing remember, and wolves can adopt it to better target you.

        If you are like me, they are intense in my heart and it is not always the opposite traits that attract. I’m sure there’s even grey areas in there too, but for me my heart always wants to give give give, but I love someone who does the same — tick.
        Someone who cares for others — tick .
        Someone who is kind — tick.
        Someone who is not out to get their own needs met over others — tick.
        Someone who wants a strong friendship, rather than just a physical relationship — tick.
        Someone who wants to share experiences, talk lots, listen lots, than sitting in silence snuggled up watching a movie. I love both — tick.
        Someone who shares similar interests — tick.

        These are all good things, but it was my want for such and thinking I had that, I’ve made it also something that clouded my vision of the red flags so they appeared darker or lighter. So much that I ignored or left them unheeded and too long before the attachment that is hard to break (or bond) had got stronger, and proved painful and damaging therefore to sever.

        We must, I guess, always be thinking and cannot for a minute let our guard down. I did – thinking, “oh a nurse – fantastic” and ended up [with] a “nurse” — ????

        I know this – abusers are everywhere and are so cunning. Clothing themselves as they listen to exactly mirror what we love and like, and like a magnet to steel we are drawn in. We need to really spend time to get to know our own selves in order that God will continue to keep us from making mistakes. We need to be wary of questions, especially on our past abuse. My sharing I thought was to someone who truly cared. They seemingly did it apparently, endeared me only to find that actually I was being groomed. Be careful, as we would say “keep your cards close to your chest” – don’t reveal too much too soon – and be careful who you let see your hand. Knowing our enemy is only half of the tactic we need to deploy.

        That’s a whole different post I guess.

        [Length of time airbrushed for protection. Editors.]

      • I think this comment of yours will be really helpful for many survivors of abusive relationships, Now Free. You articulated all those elements really well. 🙂

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