A Cry For Justice

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

If God put you together you’re not allowed to separate — says Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC

It seems that the biblical counseling world has latched on to the topic of domestic violence. Just this last summer IBCD (Institute of Biblical Counseling and Discipleship) devoted part of their 2017 Summer Conference to the topic of domestic abuse. And in 2018 there are several conferences scheduled that will address domestic abuse: the Faith Lafayette BCTC in February, the Association of Biblical Counselors in April, the International Association of Biblical Counselors in August, and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in October.

Five years ago a person would have been hard pressed to find any national organizations talking about domestic abuse.  Today the topic seems to be on everyone’s agenda.  We have no qualms with organizations waking up to domestic violence in the church and starting to talk about it.  But we do have concerns with what these organizations are saying and teaching.

Thanks to one of our faithful readers, we learned that ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) recently addressed the topic of domestic violence in a Q & A podcast titled Counseling and Controversy and hosted by Dr. Heath Lambert. According to the ACBC website, Dr. Lambert invited people to call in with their hard questions and he would answer them. (No arrogance there). And, as you may have guessed, one of the questions asked concerned domestic violence.

I listened to the Dr. Lambert’s response. It was AWFUL and only confirmed that, yes, we need to be very concerned with what these biblical counseling organizations are saying when it comes to domestic abuse because what is being taught at these counseling conferences is being taught to people who are or are becoming biblical counselors.  These counselors are soaking up this garbage and then taking it back to their communities and their churches. And back to victims — victims who will continue to be held in bondage by this evil teaching that parades as scripture.

Below is a transcript of the question and Dr. Lambert’s reply.  For those who would like to watch the entire vimeo video, click here.  The video is about one hour in length with the question on domestic violence beginning at 44:56 minutes.


So just who is Dr. Heath Lambert?  Dr. Lambert is the Executive Director at the ACBC. ACBC is the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with counseling training centers and certified counselors in 29 countries.  To read more about Dr. Lambert, you can see his BIO at the ACBC website.



Do you think there is a time for separation in marriage other than when there is imminent danger (i.e., emotional abuse, sexual addiction, etc.) and what would be your biblical defense for your position? If your answer is no, how do you suggest a woman can be best shepherded when extreme cases arise and there is much to sort out, but there is not physical violence?

Answer by Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC

And I have to give biblical support, which is more than fair. Okay so I will just let Jesus have a crack at this one. Mark 10:1-12 (ESV) reads:

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So Jesus’ response to the question “Can I divorce  – can I get separated – for a reason other than physical danger.”  Well, Jesus’ response to that is if God put you together you’re not allowed to separate.

If we were talking about physical danger or situation we would want to talk about a way to keep a woman safe, but I’m just going to let Jesus’ words there sink in and go uninterpreted.

As far as how the church could help her –  what she could do.  And I’ll just again – oh my goodness there’s lots to say about all of this – but maybe I’ll just read 1 Peter 3 1-2 “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.”

So you know:  ‘Wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word.’ Even if some do not obey the Word.  There’s a lot of bad stuff that a man who is not obeying the Word can do.  He can do a lot of bad stuff.  So this is a kind of a fill-in-the-blank.

‘Likewise wives be subject to your own husbands so even if they (fill-in-the-blank)’ –  even if they’re doing all this stuff to me that’s not violent. Well,  ‘they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.’

So this is a text that says you be a godly woman. Then that’s going to be really hard. And so how do we support such a person?

Isn’t the Bible amazing. Hebrews 10: 24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

This is a text that is quoted as a preaching passage – go to church on Sunday, be at the corporate worship for Sunday – that’s not what the author of Hebrews is talking about. It’s a counseling passage. Not a corporate meeting passage.

‘Consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some but encouraging one another.’

It’s a one another passage. You meet in a one another context. It’s a command that you have to live this Christian life together.  And that’s as true for the 1 Peter 3 woman as it is for anybody else.

So I would say to you – you’re asking this question out of a place, I’m sure, of profound pain. Men who don’t obey the word can do awful things. I would encourage you – Jesus did not stop being loving when he gave the command not to separate what God put together. And in fact he wants to teach you about his grace in the midst of your pain. And I would say sometimes we do things as people who are experiencing pain and we try to take this way out that’s our own way out and we think that’s going to be gracious and we think it’s going to be gracious because we think it would feel good. But feeling good is not necessarily what grace feels like. Sometimes graces feels like trusting the Lord to carry you through a very , very,  hard reality.  And you grow in your love and your confidence in him because He becomes what you need and not this fix-it solution to your relationship.

You can’t do it on your own though. So get with people who are going to one another you and this passage and they’re going to help you know what it means to be a faithful woman in the midst of a really really hard situation.

I’m so sorry for what your dealing with. And I just want to plead with you to find someone who can help you more than I can over the internet.

Further Reading that refutes Lambert’s unbiblical counseling

1 Peter 3 Does Not Command Victims to Remain in Abuse — Help from David deSilva

Dear Nora: A Response to Questions about 1 Peter 3

Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

Concerning Divorce: We have a FAQ page, What about divorce?, that lists several posts.

Regarding supporting a victim:  Our FAQ page  lists posts and resources to help people learn how to help abuse victims.

Helping an Abuse Victim without being Duped by the Abuser

How to Support n Abuse Victim

Converting statements into questions – a skill for bystanders who want to help victims of abuse



  1. Brother Maynard

    No matter how many times I see / hear this, it still blows my mind. If you’re being abused (in any way) stay with your abuser and be godly because that’s what the Bible says. What planet do these people live on where this is ok?

    • I cannot unsee what I see now

      I was asked why I had no concern for my children and the damage divorce would cause them. If you knew me, that would not be an appropriate question. Ends up abuse isn’t good for them either. When I separated, my adult children started telling me of their abuse from their father and how he had undermined and devalued me to them all their lives. One said, “Mom, all the things he told us about you are actually true of him.” False accusation is such a characteristic of abusers. I never heard the whole of Malachi 2 preached on. Just “God hates divorce.”

  2. Marie

    Yes, it is awful.

    While I was not one of the better-known speakers / writers in the ‘biblical counseling’ world, I was a regular contributor to many of their publications and a regular speaker at smaller conferences until my well-publicized divorce from my abuser in 2016. I cannot help but suspect that The Wartburg Watch’s coverage of the spiritual abuse I endured from my former ACBC-promoting high-control religious group had something to do with all these ‘biblical counseling’ organizations suddenly jumping on the ‘we care about domestic abuse’ bandwagon. No one tried harder to keep me in bondage to my (still totally unrepentant and psychologically ill) abuser than these blind pharisees.

    • Momof3blessings

      What a tragic commentary on the nefarious short-sightedness of those who value abusers above the spouse and children they are victimizing. Marie, I’m sorry you had to go through this, and pray you’ve had some recovery from their secondary traumatization.

  3. Lynn

    That’s a counselor?

  4. Herjourney

    I refuse to get any further counseling from a church .. Pastor or otherwise.
    Give my tithe to a church that won’t recognize Domestic Violence from the pulpit.
    Attend Bible studies where the Pastor or his wife oversees that Bible study.
    Say no! to all the above .. stand back and watch the silence from leaders and possible gossip that spreads like wild fire 🔥 from not conforming to their biblical standard.

    Now the victim is set free from control freaks. She is able to see the hypocrisy of those who say they love the Lord.
    But their heart is far from the truth of God’s word.

  5. Seeing the Light

    Wow. I can’t believe how poorly this man handles the Scriptures. I watched the video section and it adds so much to actually see and hear him. His careless handling of the Scriptures is ridiculous. It’s not even that he is so upside-down where it comes to abuse. His whole manner of approaching the Bible is so obviously wrong. I can’t believe he or anyone else thinks he’s qualified to teach anyone anything.

    I also watched more of the video and he is clearly enamored with himself. Yuck. When asked the question quoted above, he clearly lets out a laugh or chuckle as soon as the moderator said, “If the answer is no…” That reminds me of John Piper. It’s like they get a little jab of enjoyment of just how funny this whole husbands abusing wives thing is.

    • Thanks Seeing the Light — I need to re-watch that part of the video to see where Lambert chuckles.

      You’re right about Piper’s chuckle…it was sickening. Such a facetious attitude about husbands abusing their wives!

    • Momof3blessings

      I agree, Seeing The Light. This entire exchange is infuriating and quite chilling at the same time. It shows that leaders like this have been given the chance to become aware of and respond biblically to the evil that abusers cause, but instead with these attitudes, only end up harming the very people they profess to want to help. Sickening!

  6. Un-Tangled

    Many of us know how terrible this advice is. However, there are those who are being counseled with these twisted interpretations who think that the Bible actually says these things and that Biblically they must stay with an abuser. Can you provide a rebuttal–or a link in the post to a rebuttal–for their benefit so they are not just left with Dr. Lambert’s counsel?

    • #samesituation

      Yes, was wondering the same. It would be nice to see a side–by-side answer to add clarity for those stuck in this situation! :/

      • twbtc

        #samesituation – Welcome to the blog!

        Unfortunately between taking the time to do the transcription and all the other things that keep Barbara and I busy on the blog we don’t have time to provide a side-by-side rebuttal but we do have many posts that address the errors in Lambert’s counseling. I listed a number of posts in my reply to Un-Tangled’s comment that you may find helpful.

        Also, we like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

        Again, welcome!!

    • twbtc


      Yes, good idea to provide a rebuttal and we have posts that do that.

      Here are posts concerning 1 Peter:

      1 Peter 3 Does Not Command Victims to Remain in Abuse — Help from David deSilva

      Dear Nora: A Response to Questions about 1 Peter 3

      Should wives submit to harsh husbands just like slaves submitting to harsh masters? (1 Peter 2 & 3)

      Concerning Divorce: We have a FAQ page, What about divorce?, that lists several posts.

      Regarding supporting a victim: I don’t even know where to start with Lambert’s advice for supporting a victim. What does “get with people who are going to one another you” even mean???

      We have a FAQ page that lists posts and resources to help people learn how to help abuse victims.

      And these posts:

      Helping an Abuse Victim without being Duped by the Abuser

      How to Support n Abuse Victim

      Converting statements into questions – a skill for bystanders who want to help victims of abuse

      Additional posts can be found at the FAQ page on the top menu bar and by using our search bar on the right side.

      • CeeKay

        …..What does “get with people who are going to one another you” even mean???

        Exactly! Such gobbledeegook!!

      • Un-Tangled

        Thank you, TWBTC!

    • Un-Tangled, please please do the work of digging into our Tags and our FAQ page. We have heaps of material on this site which rebuts the ideas that Lambert propounds.

      And we’re so busy moderating this blog, we would prefer our readers (if they are not newbies to this site) to dig into what we have already published before asking for us to write a rebuttal to someone like Lambert.

  7. CeeKay

    This kind of “counseling” is profoundly inept at its best, and horridly wicked at its worst! It is heretical to the teachings of Christ, and must be extrapolated from scriptures necessarily taken completely out of their intended context; twisted, warped, and mangled beyond good Spiritual recognition. Men like this, and those that follow such teachings are like a plague set upon abuse victims: they offer not life-giving healing Water, but choke the last thread of hope from targets with their dust of death.

    They are blind guides that should be called out as such! This one even states that he will not provide context to a scriptural passage he then pulls out to lay before everyone as proof of Christ’s teaching regarding domestic abuse — He is a coward! He hides behind the name of Christ, using Him as a deflection — ‘See? It is not I that says these things, it is Christ!’ Despicable!!

    • Momof3blessings

      Exactly, CeeKay. Despicable is the perfect term for this.

  8. KayJay

    Thanks for nothing, dude!

  9. Song of Joy

    Lambert seems to think that two humans who participate in an earthly marriage ceremony now have an “eternal super-glue” applied to them as a couple. That’s really what this boils down to.

    And severe wickedness on the part of the husband (lies, cruelty, deprivations, threats, assault, adultery, rape, child abuse, relentless imminent danger etc.) cannot do any damage to that super-glue bond.

    However, a good faithful wife can do damage by separating or divorcing. That is so backwards and upside down and wrong.

  10. ruth8318

    Hey Mr. Counselor,
    Did you consider this scenario? What if this wife has CHILDREN who are exposed to this abuse (ranting, constant tension in the home, fighting, etc). Wouldn’t Jesus want to protect them? Doesn’t He say something about a millstone being tied around the neck of the person who offends one of these little ones? Why should the woman AND THE CHILDREN BE SACRIFICED FOR ONE ABUSING MAN? I don’t think God is a misogynist. But apparently you do.

  11. VictimNoMore

    My former pastor argued that the death of an abused wife was her ultimate sanctification. Of course, at this point, our family had to walk away from that church. So many people are fooled by false teaching in this day. It is tragic. Wolves in sheep’s clothing prey upon those who are not able to discern the truth. Be aware of those seeking to gain your confidence rather than point you to Christ!

  12. Sorrowful

    It blows my mind that in all of these statements that the subject of putting such a sinful man out of the church is never brought up. These types would go through church discipline for all sorts of other types of sins, but never this one for some reason. It’s never appropriate to throw out the false Christian and not require the wife to retain a relationship with such a one. Ugh.

  13. I cannot unsee what I see now

    #churchtoo Wow! As a therapist and a committed Christian who divorced after decades of abuse including a rape and many other forms of abuse, this horrifies me. Yes, I am considered a liar and the Elders met with 2 truth tellers again last night and the couple got eviscerated emotionally. Meeting is recorded along with the 86 min of the pastor slandering me, lying and breaking clergy confidentiality. One Elder told the couple at the end, “I hope you have learned your lesson.” (About how you will get vilified for speaking truth with evidence?)

    The pastor knew about the rape, emotional and physical abuse of the kids, business fraud, chronic porn, etc. He still told me I had no biblical grounds for divorce. He also told this to my adult children and the church. He was obligated to correct my “evil narrative.” Church believed him. Ex sits watching people and relationships be destroyed and smiles smugly. An abuser’s dream team. Pastor and all Elders supporting him publicly and slandering me for over a year now. Help, Lord!

    Barbara encouraged the other couple and I to run when we asked for advice. We were sure if we followed teaching about going directly to a fellow believer, spoke truth and desired reconciliation, it would happen.

    If anyone knows how to put together material as a case study for pastors and leaders to recognize abusers and respond appropriately, I have tons of evidence of all kinds. Eager for good and help to others to come from this situation.

  14. AKSDA

    This “imposter” is clueless……………

  15. crankybeach

    Just saying… [it is possible to argue that] there are an awful lot of marriages which were NOT put together by God. I wonder what Mr. “What God hath joined together” and those of that ilk have to say about that.

    In fact, one might argue that if someone married outside God’s will, their very marriage might be considered a sin, and we are not supposed to stay in our sin…… What a lovely can of worms this could open. I’d buy a ticket to watch that debate.

    • Hi crankybeach,

      The question of whether God put together all marriages, or only some of them, is a tricky question because it gets into the deep subject of the sovereignty of God.

      God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
      Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 3, paragraph 1 [Internet Archive link]
      If you click on that link you will be able to dig into the scripture references which the authors of the Confession cited in that paragraph.

      In one sense, God has ordained everything that happens – even marriages where one party is coerced into the marriage by the fraudulent persona of the other party or the bullying of the other party and his allies.

      But when such marriages do take place, God is not the author of the sin. The abuser and his allies are wholly to blame for the sins they commit against the oppressed wife. (I say wife simply because it is more common for the wife to be abused and the husband to be the abuser.)

      God has allowed (ordained) such marriages just as He allowed the Fall and all the sins which have occurred in this fallen world ever since the Fall. But that doesn’t mean God is pleased that such sins are occurring. God is never pleased when people are unjustly oppressed! And this passage gives great comfort to the people of God:

      Romans 8:28-39 (NASB1995) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

      What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

      But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      One more thing: there are indeed some marriages which are against the Law of God. Marriages between between close kin are forbidden in Lev 8:8-18 and 20:11-21.

      • NG

        The Bible is also clear that we should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. I believe there are many tragic marriages where a believer was lured into that trap by an impostor. Sometimes women even willingly marry a non-believer, in hopes that he is a good man, or at least redeemable…
        With all the warnings (‘Wife, how do you know you can save your husband?’), it is a bit [of a] stretch to say that God has ‘ordained’ all the difficult and abusive marriages. I know that is what the Reformed position says, but that’s not what the Bible tells about His character. 🙂

      • Hi NG,
        My response to you was not all that good, but Sam Powell’s is better I think. I hope you have time to read it.

      • CrankyBeach

        Thanks, Barb…great comments. Far better theologians than I have been batting around the sovereignty of God questions for millennia, and I fully expect they will continue to do so until the end of time. God’s perfect will versus God’s permissive will, and human free will. Oy vey.

        I was thinking particularly of my own experience, when I filed divorce papers on the husband who had already packed up his toys and abandoned me, and he ratted me out to the pastor. I was summoned to the pastor’s office and more or less ordered to stay married (exactly how I was supposed to do that when my husband had already left was not explained), or one day I would have to stand before God and explain why I had rejected the man He chose for me. And that was the sticking point. It was quite clear by then that God had NOT made that choice; I did that one all by myself.

        Of course God could have redeemed my marriage, softened my husband’s heart, made him grow up and be a man and take responsibility and all that, but there’s that pesky God’s sovereignty and free will thing again. 🙂

        And then, there’s the priesthood of all believers, and the fact that God is perfectly capable of talking to every one of his children, not just the ones who stand in pulpits. When I filed those divorce papers, I didn’t even have the slightest twitch of misgivings, maybe I should’t do this after all. Rather, it was more like “What took you so long?”

      • Sam Powell

        The tricky part about God’s decrees is solved, as much as we finite people can understand, by this verse in Deuteronomy, which will bear much fruit if we think about it:

        The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut 29:29 NASB1995)

        Theologians, to help us understand this, talk about the secret and revealed will (or decree) of God. The secret things we don’t have access to. The only way to know what God has ordained is what He has told us, and what has taken place in the past. We know that it is His decree that Christ will come again and judge the living and the dead, because He has told us. We know that it was God’s decree that Nixon would become president, because that actually happened and nothing happens apart from that decree.

        Peter said that God’s decree was that Jesus would be crucified. Joseph said that it was God’s decree that his brothers would sell him into slavery. We can take comfort in that, knowing that our heavenly father works all things together for good.

        But the secret things ultimately belong to God. His revealed will is something different – those are His commands, His statutes, His judgments. God holds us accountable for how we respond to His commands and His judgments. We get into trouble when we try to read the secret decree of God and act accordingly, because those things belong to God.

        When it comes to “what God hath joined together”, we are not talking about God’s secret decree. If two people get married, God joins them together and they are “one flesh”. If they have broken God’s commands in their marriage (a believer and an unbeliever) there will be consequences to those actions. We don’t determine what to do by claiming God’s “secret decree”, otherwise all sorts of sin would simply be excused. Peter did not say, “you crucified Jesus, but that’s OK because it was God’s part of the plan for good.” No, he said, “You crucified Him with wicked hands”. The crucifixion of Christ was contrary to God’s commands (revealed things) and there were severe consequences for everyone involved.

        Back to “what God hath joined together”. The standard teaching on this passage is that “since God joined the two people together it isn’t possible to break them apart. Therefore, any remarriage after divorce is wrong.” That’s hogwash and not what Jesus meant at all. He was talking about the rabbinical school that taught that a man could put away his wife for any reason. His answer was that when they got married, God Himself joined them together and they became one flesh. Don’t you dare tear it apart by sending her out of the home, abusing her, breaking your covenant, committing adultery, etc. He didn’t say that it wasn’t possible to do so. Of course it is possible to tear apart what God joined together, that’s why there is a command against it.

        And He certainly isn’t condemning innocent parties whose marriage has been destroyed by neglect or abuse for getting the “bill of divorcement”, for He says in the very next verse that Moses gave that command because of the hardness of men’s hearts. Remember that Jesus and Moses weren’t in conflict. Jesus is true God, and also inspired Moses. To say that Jesus and Moses were in conflict is to have a Marcionite view of scripture, which was condemned as heresy in the 2nd century.

        Rabbis twisted Deut 24:1 to say that men can divorce their wives then for any reason at all, leaving women helpless and destitute. Jesus says, in effect, if you do that, for any reason other than sexual infidelity, you’ve committed adultery, torn your marriage apart, and will answer to God for it.

        The question now, is “Were those destroyed marriages God’s decree?” of course they were. If they took place, God decreed it so, for nothing happens outside of His decree. But those things belong to God. What He has revealed to us is this: Don’t tear your marriage apart. If your spouse tears it apart irrevocably, then set yourself free by using the bill of divorcement.

        In other words, follow what God tells us and quit trying to pry into secret decrees. His revealed word is for one reason, according to Moses: that we might do according to the words of the law. In other words, God has revealed Himself to us in words so that we might love as Jesus loved, live in joy and peace, learn to control our tongues, quit tearing others apart, and so on.

        This is a huge subject, but this is just a very brief answer. Hope it helps.

      • Thanks Sam! I very much appreciate your explanation here. 🙂

  16. Gothard survivor

    I want to know what they mean when they say God will carry you through. Does this just mean that God will be with us until we die? So we should plan to endure until we die?

    • Momof3blessings

      Yes, in their distorted view of reality, the abused woman is the one who is supposed to sacrifice herself and her children on the altar of marriage, even though her husband defiled that altar and broke the marriage covenant with his abuse.

      And if she dies in this effort, well then she will be a martyr in Heaven, so it’s all ok in the end, right? (Sarcasm font)

      Because, after all, she never really mattered anyway! At least not compared to her husband’s soul! (Sadly not sarcasm, but too often the unacknowledged truth that leaders like Lambert really believe, but won’t quite come out and admit.)

      This entire reasoning makes me furious. Thanks, Barbara, for exposing the truth.

  17. anon

    Oh, dear ones, He knows, He redeems and He will do Justice…He will make all things right. Keep telling the truth, keep shaking the weirdness off and seek counsel from the Father. Thank you all for posting – we belong to the King who gets it. His promises are yes and amen!

    • Welcome to the blog Anon.
      I changed your name to Anon as I wasn’t sure whether the screen name you had given might identify you.

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

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  18. Momof3blessings

    P.S. It is “C”hristian leaders like this that drive victims away from real Christianity.

    Why don’t the souls of these women matter, too?

    Church leaders who drive away the same hurting women they’ve re-victimized should bear some of the responsibility when these women are forced to leave the church (and many their faith) or to believe their leaders’ lie that Jesus, the very Son of God who is Perfect Love, wants them to accept their husbands’ abuse as His will.

    How grieved our Lord must be to see this travesty not only occurring, but now being preached as what He wants!

  19. Momto7

    This may be long, but I’d like to share my experience with Biblical Counseling. I hope that it’s ok to share my story here. I have gained so much strength in reading this blog, as well as the many comments of other readers, that I hope to do the same for others. This story may contain triggers for some. (Mention of sexual abuse.) I am in no danger for sharing these details, and I am familiar with new-user recommendations. 🙂

    We have great neighbors who live behind us. We started going to their church 2 years ago and love it, but are only now getting very involved. I knew that these neighbors, who have become good friends, worked with couples in our church, so when I decided to ask my abusive husband of 25 years to leave I wanted to let her know.

    We met one day at the fence and she asked me how I’m doing. I teared up and said things weren’t good and I needed to talk to her if she had time. (Up until this point I had never shared anything about my marriage with her and she believed things were great.) She set a time for me to come over to her home. When I got there she had a stack of papers for me to fill out and sign. I hadn’t expected this to be a counseling session, but she was trying to complete her hours to be certified, and I didn’t mind helping.

    I started out giving her a brief history of our marriage, examples of his years of abuse, anger, rage, silent treatment for weeks at a time, seclusion, insults, you name it (but never physical), my feelings throughout the years, etc. Each example I gave was met with ways it could have been worse. Desperate for her to understand, I shared the most closely guarded secret I had, that he had raped me several times before we married. It wasn’t that we “got carried away”. It was that he did not respect my “No!” and did what he wanted. I had always wanted to be married as a virgin, and felt obligated to marry him because I wasn’t. After telling her this, she started to explain it away. “Think about his culture, think about how beautiful he thought you were, blah blah blah.” I left after 4 hours thinking maybe she was right, maybe it was important that I not “be bitter”, that I fulfill my vows, submit more, get the dog to stop barking, etc to stop whatever was causing his anger.

    After having some time to think over some of the things she said, I thought, “How dare she try to make me believe that it was understandable for him to have raped me.” I needed to tell her it wasn’t ok. So a week after the first visit I went back and told her what I thought about that. She said, “I thought you might have felt that way after you left. I’m glad you came back. What I meant was, …..” and she proceeded to repeat everything she had said before! I gave her a few more examples of his abuse that I had thought of and she looked me in the eyes and said, “None of that is abuse.” I left feeling a heavy weight. I had begun to think we could possibly reconcile, mostly because of things she had said. But I KNEW that he was abusive. I knew how much I had suffered. My life was written in every page of Patricia Evans’ book The Verbally Abusive Relationship. It was hell.

    After that I knew that she was wrong on those two counts – that the rape was “ok” and that none of it was abuse. So I knew that I couldn’t be influenced by ANYTHING she said. I couldn’t listen to the “good” things she said because she was so very wrong. And so, I continued to ask my husband to leave. He tried to show me he could change, but after two months he left. He has been gone for almost 8 months. We have limited contact, as we have 3 children under 18. Such a massive oppression has been lifted from our home. God is providing for us in amazing ways and I have joy in my heart. I have not regretted my decision for even a moment. It has been hard, oh so hard. But worth it. And I am still friends with my neighbor. I do not seek her counsel, but we still meet and chat at the back gate. She is amazed by the change in me. She tells me I’m a totally different person. And I am. I am free.

    • Thank you, Momto7.
      Well done for not being cowed by that terrible counseling. 🙂

  20. bright sunshinin' day

    Dr. Lambert reminds me of the bad shepherds described in Ezekiel 34:1-10:

    …shepherds…who have been feeding yourselves…the weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up…

    Contrast Lambert’s “shepherding” with The Good Shepherd in vs 11ff:

    …I Myself will search for My sheep…and I will rescue them…

    • MarkQ

      Exactly what I was thinking. It’s the job of the shepherds to protect and defend the sheep from wolves, and not only is he doing exactly the opposite (telling the sheep to go back to the wolves), but he’s trying to use the words of the Chief Shepherd to do so.

      Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
      Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
      Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! [Isaiah 5:20]

  21. Troubled

    My husband is financially abusive with me, amongst other things. He controls my income now. I let him deal with my money initially at the early stages of our marriage, as I trusted him then. But I suspect that he has been using my money for his vices over the years although I have no hard proof. How I know is that we do not have as much savings as we could have had and my husband refuses to keep account of his expenditure for the household needs and the children. He also admitted that he had one affair and did use some funds on this woman. He does not work and relies on me completely for money.

    My pastor says that husband and wife must have joint accounts and must be transparent in all dealings otherwise the wife is not being submissive to her husband and is sinning against God. I am very troubled by this. I don’t want to sin against God but I cannot trust my husband with money. I want to be able to educate my children so I have to make sure I have enough. Where I can I smuggle out funds from my account and save for future use. Is this wrong? Will I stand in judgment one day for being deceitful?


    • Oh dear sister, I feel for you! Your pastor is going beyond what the Bible teaches by laying down that rule.

      You are quite right to feel troubled. Your husband is taking advantage of you financially and quite probably in other ways as well. And your pastor sounds like a wooden Pharisee.

      You will not be sinning against God to do whatever you think you need to do to provide for your children. And it is not a sin to resist the abuse your husband is doing to you!

      This looks like your first comment on our blog, so welcome! 🙂

      I encourage you to look at our posts about Financial Abuse. Skim through the 17 posts which are currently under that tag — some of them you will identify with, some of them might give you tips for how to deal with the financial abuse you are under.

      I think you will also find it helpful to read this: Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link]

      I changed your screen name to Troubled as it looked like you had given your first name. We want to help you keep safe while commenting on this blog. 🙂 I suggest you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      Again, welcome!

  22. Faithful57

    This is so frustrating, I have good friends in this organization and they do not think this way. What this leader [Heath Lambert] said was wrong and needs to be corrected / educated and in a post from 2016 says the opposite. He states that safety is the primary issue and that the church should be of assistance in this. The post still reflects a lack of understanding the abuser and the manipulation that takes place. I added the link. See what you think.

    I was married to a man who was a leader in the church who started his abuse the night of the wedding. He told me I was not allowed to get counsel and I honored that request until I was getting sick physically. I went forward to the church and long story short they tried to hold him accountable, he refused, continued to get more aggressive, raging, and started physical abuse, anger and yelling in public and anger was displayed to his coworker. I was fearful, I at times would sleep in another room with the door locked. He would rage for 4 hours at a time and none of the anger made sense. He would perceive things in such a distorted way. He had lied extensively about many things in his past.

    When I told him I would hold him accountable and call the police then he was done with me. A set of behaviors happened after that which cannot be revealed, I went back to the church they were in agreement that his behavior was wrong but they did not confront further. They later apologized for not helping. They did not understand, there were things they did that jeopardized my safety for the rest of my life. The way they handled the case reflected a complete lack of knowledge of domestic abuse and the mindset of an abuser. Bottom line if anyone even sees this, I was not safe, that determination should be made with risk assessments and ultimately the decision is to be made by the person experiencing the abuse.

    By God’s grace I was able to separate and it was not my decision, my husband determined that, so I was left without the guilt. He did divorce me while working in another ministry. There were other issues present that gave me biblical grounds.

    The church is falling away, we are seeing leaders incapable of taking care of egregious sin and they don’t seem to understand that evil is real.

    An ACBC counselor did tell me that my husband was a wolf in the body of Christ and needed to be disciplined, that was after I was served divorce papers. He is a gracious older man who saw through my husbands manipulation and took the time to educate himself on abuse. In fact I gave him Pastor Crippen’s book and he read it! Much work to be done. Thank you for all your efforts this web page has been such a big support for me.

    • Hi Faithful57, welcome to the blog and thank you very much for your comment.

      I agree with you that it is very frustrating how so few people in ACBC and other biblical counseling organizations understand how properly to respond to domestic abuse.

      Your story is somewhat unusual in that your husband decided to leave you when you told him you would report him to the police. As you know, it is more common for the man who abuses his wife to refuse to leave the target woman no matter what steps she takes to try to hold him accountable… And if she leaves him, he tries to get her to come back.

      Your story is not unusual, however in the way your church failed to properly deal with it when it came to the crunch and thus caused you to more harm.

      I read the link you gave to that other item by Heath Lambert (Restoration after abuse: a transcript [Internet Archive link] [The transcript in the link starts part way down the page. Editors.].) I think it gives very very dangerous counsel. While Lambert on the surface says that the victim’s safety is the most important thing, he has very little idea of how to guard the victim’s safety properly. His counsel in that transcript is terrible – for multiple reasons.

    • And as you may know, we like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      After reading the New Users’ Info page, you may like to look at our FAQ page.

  23. pn

    I haven’t reviewed this site for several years, but it was one of my go-to sources of information and comfort at first.

    I have been divorced from an abuser (after over forty years married) now for over five years. I have done a LOT of “recovery” work and counseling and researching and healing. Praise God!

    Perhaps these two issues have been addressed, above, as I haven’t read every response, but I’ll just add two items into the mix that I am sure such errant counselors have a lot of trouble with:

    1) The abusive spouse lies about having had extra-marital affairs, and

    2) neither spouse was a Christian when married, though married in a church. In my case, I became a Christian three years into the marriage (there had already been some physical abuse, and although that stopped after I left him the first time, pregnant and with a toddler in tow, in the middle of the night) but the verbal abuse never really stopped, even after counseling about midway. Is he saved? Don’t know. However, he did go back to a church after I fled from him for good after his last, alcohol-fueled rage against me, and found himself another kind Christian lady. As I recently heard, he had discarded her as well.


    And, oh, by the way, it was just a few months prior to fleeing my ex abuser that I finally came out of the mind-control lie that divorce is the unforgivable sin.

    • Hi pn, thanks for your comment. 🙂

      From what you’ve described of your husband, there is more than enough info to say that he is not a Christian. He puts on the Christian disguise when it suits him. And many abusers do this: if they are looking for a new target-woman, they go to church…they know that most women who go to church are kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful.

      Since you haven’t been at this site for a while, you might like to look at our Don Hennessy Digest. There is a lot in it which I think you will relate to. 🙂

    • Jamie

      I’m so glad you are back and commenting again, Pn.

      I love the Hennessy series that Barbara has recommended. It was a huge help to me.

      There are lots of other posts that address the question of whether or not an abuser can be a Christian. TWBTC has assembled a lot of the links and posted them here: FAQ Highlight — Can someone be an abuser and be a Christian?

  24. Bunny

    Let’s clarify: The “divorce” by an abuser has ALREADY happened by the time the wife files legally. HE has divorced his wife and, as such, is sinning! Also, a Godly wife WILL stand for her family by getting away from any further damage to herself or family. Otherwise, the abusers behavior will infect the whole family because he is evil. For example, if someone breaks into my house and I file charges, am I the guilty party? NO. We all keep focusing on the “legal” divorce (protection) rather than the true HEART divorce (the sin).

    Also, why does this guy think marriage means quietly taking the abuse? Setting boundaries so the abuser doesn’t get away with their sin is following the principles in the Bible and is the most loving thing a wife could do!

    • Hi Bunny, thanks for your comment. I agree with you.

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

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

    • Trying Again

      Bunny, that’s it exactly. Challenging the abuse is the most loving thing to do. I had to come to that realization too.


  1. NEWS ANALYSIS: Was SBC #MeToo resolution on abuse a band aid for larger issues? – The Truth IS in Crisis

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